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Diary of a programmer with no clue about marketing neat.io
154 points by basil  5 hours ago   76 comments top 37
ChuckMcM 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Nice. So one of the things that happened to me when I came to the Bay Area was I was working at Intel and I had to talk to a lot of marketing folks (who were talking to 'the public' about Intel's chips). I realized I didn't have a clue what they did.

I set out to correct that before I started my own company and looked for a job that would let me work closely with marketing but still be engineering based. I found one at Sun which was effectively a 'technical marketing engineer' although at the time I joined the marketing folks just needed an engineer to translate what the competition was doing into something they could argue about. I too was amazed at how much more complex it was than my simplistic assumptions had been. I moved over into the kernel group later (they too had offered me a spot when I had interviewed) and have been pure engineering ever since but never forgot the lessons of that time.

Things I learned,

1) Marketing is not sales - Sales is the process by which you convince someone with money to give it to you in exchange for a good or service. Marketing is the thing that happens before that which informs you why you might want to talk to a sales guy. A guy marketing a car will tell you that the car has the highest safety rating ever, the guy selling the car will tell you if you write a check right now he will take an additional $1,500 off the sticker price.

2) Marketing is about perception, and perception is personal. The job of a marketeer is to communicate an idea so that you can see it and perceive it the same way the marketeer does. That requires that you first discover the perceptual language of the target, then translate the message into that perceptual language, communicate it, and then test again for understanding. Marketing a car that smells like bacon to a vegetarian just doesn't work. If the biggest chunk of car buyers are vegetarians, and your car consistently smells of bacon, you need to translate that into something positive somehow. Not simple :-).

3) Marketing is ubiquitous - one of the interesting conversations with my daughter as a teen about what to wear, your clothes give others an impression of you, you cannot prevent that, all you can do is control it. People are constantly taking these bits of information in and reasoning about them consciously and unconsciously. To be successful you have to have influence over as many of those information channels as possible. Getting that influence can be tricky.

Basically, it isn't as easy as it looks like it should be was my conclusion.

austenallred 3 hours ago 3 replies      
This is exactly why I've been writing "The Hacker's Guide to User Acquisition" (first chapter: http://www.austenallred.com/the-hackers-guide-to-the-first-1..., next chapter will be about getting press). I would point out a few things.

1. The notion that you "build a better mousetrap" and people will beat their way to your door is true maybe 1% of the time. Many more companies have had to fight a little to become successful than just said, "This is so awesome that everyone loves it." That being said, no amount of marketing can make up for a crappy product.

2. Marketing should be baked into the product itself. If you're figuring out "now how do I get this out to people" after everything is finished, except in some rare circumstances it's too late. Explosive growth almost never happens by virtue of a product being so good that everybody shares it and it goes viral. Yours might, but you can't count on that happening. So how can you leverage your existing user base to create more users?

3. Getting press is more than emailing a couple of bloggers. And emailing bloggers has to be done in a very specific way to get their attention. It's difficult, because you only have one shot: Think about having to run some code and if there are any errors it all falls to pieces. That's what emailing bloggers feels like. But when it works, it works. And when one place picks you up, the others jump on board really quickly (they're kind of like investors in that way).

4. A lot of the "marketers" you've talked to might suck. It's a lot easier to pretend to be a marketer than it would be to pretend to be a programmer. And just as a non-technical person would have a difficult time trying to figure out if a programmer is any good, it will be hard for you to tell the difference between a good marketer and someone who has no idea what they're doing

5. You need a critical mass of users to determine if your product sucks. When I started marketing my first product, I couldn't pay people to use it. It wasn't that people were saying, "I don't like this," but I couldn't get anyone to try it to say whether they liked it or not. Then after months of grinding and trying to figure things out, we found the sweet spot. Thousands of users per day jumped on board, to the point that our biggest problem became scaling. (A good problem to have, but certainly a problem). If I had given up one day earlier I would have thought that no one cared, but really there was no one to care. There's a difference.

6. 99.99% of the time doing marketing is spent figuring out what works. Once you know (and it's different for each client/customer/app), it's really easy. Don't discount it when someone says "Oh you just do this and this, and boom, users." The same as you wouldn't look at a designer and say "Well you just designed that really simple logo, that can't be hard," you can't just look at the work they're doing -- you have to consider the work they have done. And getting to simple is hard.

So the moral of the story: Don't give up yet. It's too early to know if anyone will care about what you built; you have to get it out to more people.

And the next time I hear someone say, "You don't need a marketer, it's all about the quality of the product," I'll point them to this post. Thank you for your honesty, and best of luck to you.

trustfundbaby 5 hours ago 2 replies      
"So now after years of neglecting anything to do with marketing. I get it. Marketing is hard. So crushingly hard.Also I was incredibly naive in thinking that the product was so good that the marketing would just snowball itself into action"

This right here ... a 1000 times. I've been a developer for years now and I always held onto the same fantasy of launching something so good that marketing would take care of itself. After building a couple of products and being involved in a startup or two I've found that getting software built is not usually as hard as marketing it successfully

wwwong 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Nice! Great to read your experience from creating a product to launching it. Also glad to win over another developer to not thinking that all marketing is BS ;-)

Some tips from a marketer:

+Get analytics set up! I see that you've only mentioned the top of the funnel (traffic) and the bottom of the funnel (downloads). I'm assuming you don't have tracking for the full flow (traffic > install > activation > day 1-30 retention > Sales). Get this set up pronto. It's crucial to understand where the bottlenecks are and to also segment traffic to know which efforts are working.

+Marketing starts before you launch. You'll get a far stronger reaction from blogs, sites, and other people when you contact them 2-3 weeks before launch. Creates a sense of exclusivity and plus gives you some momentum to develop an installed base from Day 1. In light of this, perhaps you should call the current app an 'alpha' and re-launch to get some buzz :-)

+Major sources for you to consider: Organic: SEO Referral: Blogs, 3rd Party App Stores, Tech Sites, Forums, Quora, Stack Overflow, and where ever people who have the problem you're trying to solve is asking for help. Partner: App stores, resellers, etc... Paid: Facebook, AdWords, LinkedIn, GDN (I advise you to do thorough research before starting. It's easy to launch poorly designed campaigns and get the misinformed idea that these channels don't work) Viral: Add any social sharing anywhere you can.

+App Review sites review 100s of requests each day. I ran FreeiPadApps.net for 2-years and received 20+ app review requests/day. Mostly from indie developers, agencies, and bots. Try instead to reach out directly to an editor or writer by email/twitter/linkedin.

+SEO: Get up to best practice (title tags, headings, kw research and mapping to content), but don't bank on it. The gold rush for SEO growth circa 2007 is largely over :-(

+Look heavily into any type of 3rd party app stores for free promotion.

+Not sure of JIRA/Github has any 3rd party app pages. Worthwhile to look into this and seeing if you can get included.

With all that said, doing everything above will get you on par with what everyone else is doing. To separate yourself from the pack, the awesomeness of the product needs to take over :-)

Best of luck!

programminggeek 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Start collecting emails using autoresponder courses. Think of collecting emails as asking a girl for their number. If you want a date, you're going to call them, talk to them, get to know them, and ask them out. If you want a sale, you need to develop a relationship with a customer.

Collect email from potential users on a landing page. Then, send them email to let them get to know you and you know them. After a few emails, say 5-7, you could say "hey I have this great product that makes doing X way easier!". A number of potential users who get to say the 5th or 7th email will then trial or purchase your product if you ask them to. That's like getting the first date. Your product ultimately still has to be good for it to be a long term relationship.

Pretty much any email newsletter software worth anything supports some kind of autoresponder series functionality.

kposehn 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
You don't need AdWords right now.

This comes from an AdWords guy. Seriously, work on marketing to the community and with content, not with paid ads. Paid ads come in when you've identified a market, medium to reach them and what your message is. Have that nailed before you spend a dime :)

gk1 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the second or third post I'm seeing today where a dev person could use some help with marketing their product. This is what I consult in, so I'd be happy to try and answer any questions you or anyone wishes to ask. Fire away!

If the answer requires more information then I'll ask you to email me instead.

markbao 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Nice work. I've also recently released my first Mac app [0] and I'm working on getting the word out about it by making it free, the idea being that if it's known by people, it can be spread through word-of-mouth, especially if it becomes indispensable. GitHub's API currently reports 600 users, and I'm working on increasing that to 1000 before making it a paid app and marketing it.

Nice to see both approaches here; I wonder which truly works better in the long run.

[0]: http://issuepostapp.com/

vertis 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks like something I could actually use. I've just downloaded it.

My take from the website, there is no price on the main page. I have to click 'Buy Now' with no idea whether I want to actually purchase. Which is a commitment (in my head) that I'm not prepared to make without knowing the price.

joeblau 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Try hitting up Reddit. The Reddit community is one of the most active and engaging communities out there. The only challenge is that they are brutally honest so only use Reddit if you're ready to hear the truth.

You could also try getting a promotion from apple in the App Store.

Another thing you should do is incorporate some sort of analytics in your app. Most users wont tell you ANYTHING about your app. I'm running Google Analaytics and I can tell that the average user spends ~7 minutes in my game which lets me know that each session is pretty engaging. That's also 7 minutes that they are getting hit with iAd's if they didn't upgrade. Metrics are key, so add something to track app usage.

Your application is niche so you need to target spaces where people that use your the services that your app integrates with hang out.

imron 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Your website is a perfect demonstration of your title.

A nice funky starfield with a pretty logo taking up half of the page, and a partial screen shot taking up to the rest of my screen space (1920x1080).

Nothing about what it does instantly pops out. Then I realise there's more, so I scroll - Something, something, JIRA, GitHUB, FogBUGZ, something something.

Hmm, ok, based on that probably not something I'd need. Close the page (before even getting to any of the other stuff).

Come here to read the comments, and buried away here, I found this comment by you https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6686624, which says:

"I work on contract iOS jobs and I need to track my time to invoice my clients. It sucks using my web browser to start and stop the timer. "

And I think, this, yes, a thousand times yes, and am now downloading it to try it out.

The takeaway from all this, I shouldn't have to find out about that from a comment tucked away on HN, but your website is not arranged in a way that makes it immediately obvious that I want this product.

kybernetyk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> Are people waiting for the trial to run out (14 day trial) ...?

People who buy your software usually do so during the first few days of a trial. Only a small percentage of those who let the trial go to the end will buy.

Source: My (and fellow [m]ISV's) experience over the years.

/edit:Oh, btw: A search in the mac app store for "github issue tracker" (and other similar terms) won't show your app.

bcbrown 4 hours ago 1 reply      
One small tip - your page links to the app page, but doesn't otherwise say anything about what it does, just calling it "this thing". That diary page is marketing too, include a summary of what it does there!
segphault 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm one of those people who downloaded the trial, ran it for a few days, and then deleted it. I liked a lot of things about the app, but there were a few bits that I found unintuitiveparticularly around managing multiple projects from different sources.

I decided to pass, but I bookmarked it so that I'll be able to find it again in the future if I ever find that I really need a quick way to access my Jira issues from the desktop.

The $49 price is entirely reasonable considering the breadth of the feature set and the target audience, but it does put it outside the impulse purchase comfort zone. It might have been helpful to put it on sale at launch with a discounted price in order to build some traction and lower the barrier to adoption for people who are on the fence.

tunesmith 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Hrm... random impressions I had:

1) The above the fold stuff sort of showed me what it describes itself as, but not what it really is. A looping animation or video would have been really helpful.

2) The below the fold stuff originally came across as separate products. Like I thought it was your catch-all page for a few other products you've made. So maybe you could make it clearer that they are all components of Bee.

3) Just my own reaction that I noticed - when you demonstrate compatibility with several outside services, there might be a weird disincentive to try it out if the potential customer doesn't use all of those services. Like I immediately had a suspicion that since I use Jira but not Github or Fogbugz, that the other focuses of the tool would get in the way or make it feel unwieldy. (I didn't download it to disprove that feeling.)

4) Time/task tracking is a REALLY crowded space, and I imagine it is really difficult to convince someone to try out a new tool, partly because of switching costs. For instance, for me, I use Quickbooks on the Mac, and I'm pretty married to Intuit's "My Time" since it's the only tool I know of on the Mac that will automatically transfer time records to Quickbooks, which I then use to make invoices. And then if someone asks me why I create my invoices from time records in Quickbooks, then... heck, I dunno, I made the decision at one point and it works for me. I could do a whole first-principles analysis I guess that might lead me to a completely different way of working that might lead me to being able to using a different time-tracking app like Bee, but... I don't like going that low on my e-Maslow's hierarchy very often.

5) No obvious mention of price on the front page... no obvious indicator of what clicking the "Buy" button will do or where it will take me. I moused over it, looked for an info tip, and didn't click. (I'm one to just buy rather than deal with download/try/maybe-buy.)

gojomo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats on your launch!

Be careful about your plan to "keep pushing out updates to the app to fill out the feature requests existing users have". It's easy to fall back to strengths adding fun features, responding to tangible requests from existing customers. But clearly your priority should be getting the word out.

Maybe commit to yourself: no new features unless you're certain they will close new sales?

mattm 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently read the book "Cashvertising". It's very good at breaking down how to sell in print. I recommend you read it. For example, your headline "Better task tracking on your Mac" offers no real benefit. What is good about task tracking? What is the benefit it offers? Make that answer your headline.

Read the book. It helped me immensely.

jorde 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Bee seems awesome and while Basil might not get marketing, he gets it now: after a week of resultless marketing efforts he writes a blog post about it, posts to HN and scores the #1 position. Kudos.
joeblau 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
If anyone knows some good iOS game marketing techniques/tips, please drop me a line--My email is in my profile. I'm trying to market: http://appstore.com/xo9
stu_k 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using Bee for the past week to avoid interacting with Jira's slow interface and it's been absolutely excellent. It's a polished app, and the one bug I encountered was fixed within a day. Just waiting for the trial to finish.
spacecowboy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Came across an insightful video and presentation given at the Konsoll 2013 conference on "marketing indie games on a $0 budget" that might be of interest to folks. It was given within the context of indie game development but its really addressing a common problem.

video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkEQtMP2CuAslides: http://www.indiegamegirl.com/konsoll-2013/

GuerraEarth 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just sent you an email with wording "marketing" that can help. I'm interested to see that good things don't languish and I am a strong writer--happy to give.
pnathan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. I'm almost at the beta point with my own side project, and I'm realizing it's time to do some marketing (virtual pet game for FireFoxOS/browsers - goal is to be interesting to smart people). I'm realizing I simply don't know how to do this marketing thing (yeah, emails, landing page, etc, but those only work when people get there.)
robotys 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Reason dev-ing a software is not that hard = computer is consistent and feedback is instantaneous.

Reason marketing is effing hard (for us programmers) = human is fickle and feedback is sporadic.

sarreph 4 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my biggest takeaways from WWDC, as a student, was that even really great products don't launch themselves; they need an immense PR effort to get them off the ground however, this doesn't mean a big budget.

In my opinion (of limited authority), a lot of 'spin' can be spun, mostly for free, that can generate a great buzz pre-launch.

It's something I'm going to invest a lot of time and effort in next time I do a launch.

bstar77 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I want this, it looks awesome, but I can't justify $50 on it. A shame.
pteredactyl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For your web design, which is part of marketing - namely perception and eye-grabbery - there's too much white space. Too much white space, to me, equals yawn.

I'd make the starfield extend further down the page, past the first screenshot. Then I would somehow frame the other sections of the page. Maybe by adding an interior border or some sort of texture.

Marketing is a cousin of visual design.

RobSpectre 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm with you dude. This shit is hard.
Elizer0x0309 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Shortfalls:1. Didn't implement metrics to detect delete, trial to get that feedback.

2. Giving up and ranting too early! Marketing is perception, so make sure you make whatever N users happy then tell them to share (it's as simple as this), rinse and repeat. After a ~100 happy users, you'll have a good sample of customer base and it should steadily grow to market potential from there.

3. First release is just the beginning. Your idea is but a hypothesis. As long as they're is still legitimate feedback to work on, the product is still not reaching it's potential (again, ranting too early!).

Geee 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Downloaded, installed, tried. Created a new task and drag'n'dropped it inside the another one. Couldn't drag it out again. Closed the app. Seems very nice though, I'll give it another try after a while.
holgersindbaek 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd love to follow your journey of marketing your product.

If you intend to go hard on marketing this app and exploring ways to do that, can you put up an email form, so I know when your next blog post is?!

skulquake 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I for one will thank you for your admittance that marketing a product or service to a prospective target audience is indeed hard, and for along time here on HN, many would say oh your just the marketing guy what do you have to offer or bring to the table if it's not marketing and programming then why do I need you on the team? I'm just glad that both sides of the table are seeing that we should all work cohesively to our strengths to reach the end goal of a particular project or startup.
jaunkst 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you tried using google news api to find articles in your market? You can turk out compiling a authors contact list and prepare a press release package for the few hundred writers to publish. Some will not respond but some my write for established sources or even many. This will help get attention and increase your ranking.
ahunt09 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Did anyone else have their display get corrupted by opening this site, opening Chrome dev tools, and closing chrome dev tools? My screen started putting up random squares of color and other artifacts and I lost keyboard control.
azio_m 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't forget to update us with the results of getting to Hacker News Front Page!
danso 4 hours ago 1 reply      
What I would like to read is why the OP put his time into building a task app. Not because the world doesn't need another one (I'm not being sarcastic here...)...but if you don't have much talent or time for marketing, then something must have been guiding you, right? I would think that without any other external guidance, it's the programmer himself who finds the product useful and uses it everyday as he develops it.

So, did the OP find his own product useful?

CrashOverride17 2 hours ago 0 replies      
People do not want to know who made it but they just think how they enjoy it.In this world, there is no second place or second champ, the world is a kind of binary system, 0 or 1, we just choose death or life."quote on Hackers 3 [2011]
The Whitest Jobs in America theatlantic.com
25 points by kitcar  1 hour ago   25 comments top 6
jacques_chester 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Before we jump to theories, has anyone eliminated the null hypothesis?

That is: assuming a totally random distribution of individuals into professions, purely by chance, some professions will have curious ratios. The first thing a statistician aims to do is to test the probability that the observed effect is due to chance.

A second thing to test is whether the ratios are stable across time.

This comment represents 20% of your RDA for nitpicky HN comments.

jerf 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
At 43/44 white, that gives us 97.7% white, putting it ahead of the veterinarians, number one in that article.

Though this pedantry is useless, since those statistics are for today, and the Presidency extends across centuries. Perhaps the closest proxy we can get is to look at Congress: http://thisnation.com/congress-facts.html

detcader 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
We should really understand what whiteness actually _is_ if we want to parse these kind of things correctly: http://www.ohio.edu/people/hartleyg/docs/abolishthepoint.pdf
theorique 41 minutes ago 3 replies      
"Misc. Agricultural Workers" is 92% white? So much for the theory that agricultural work is done by illegal migrant workers.
elwell 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"Farmers" was surprising.
rurounijones 39 minutes ago 1 reply      
On the flip-side, I wonder what the "blackest" jobs in America are? (Aside from Olympic level sprinters that is)
Fourier Toy toxicdump.org
200 points by alxndr  7 hours ago   43 comments top 13
hcarvalhoalves 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Try the Fibonacci sequence:

0.01, 0.01, 0.02, 0.03, 0.05, 0.08, 0.13, 0.21

It generates a beautiful wave [1].

There's also this interesting property that you can use any part of the sequence, and it will be the same wave [2].

[1] https://www.dropbox.com/s/89fg14dvsi3wuox/Captura%20de%20tel...

[2] https://www.dropbox.com/s/yu05xs10tauumgu/Captura%20de%20tel...

205guy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Right-click the page for some pre-defined wave patterns (pulse, sawtooth, triangle, etc.)--at least it worked for me in FF.
zoba 7 hours ago 3 replies      
This is very cool and reminds me of something I've wanted for a long time: a tool like this that is used to make sound. The synthesizers I've used seem predisposed to making a certain type of sound, however, something like but which gives you complete control of the wave form, should give you complete freedom when creating sounds. Maybe I've been looking at the wrong synths... Neat though :)
wting 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This article and related commentary are relevant:



In fact, it looks like Lucas Viera may have used that blog post as inspiration.

ryanthejuggler 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. First thing I did was try a sawtooth wave by entering sequential powers of 0.5... this had the intended effect of creating a sawtooth wave, but also the circle diagram was tracing an almost perfect circle in 2D. Really cool for discovering things like that!
TheMakeA 6 hours ago 0 replies      
These guys are one of the reasons I love mathematics.

Check this out too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVuU2YCwHjw

Edit: Didn't realize that this was also linked to in another thread on the front page as well.

benched 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What determines the time/speed of each circle?
joshguthrie 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody got the sequence to draw Homer's head?

Reminder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVuU2YCwHjw

Serow225 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It would be cool if someone created the inverse of this, where you could input a signal (audio) and have it show the fft decomposition circles moving around in real time :)
zackkitzmiller 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Very much reminds me of the Spirograph I had when I was a young.


rjgray 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow! So cool. I love the connection between the waveform and the trochoid curve on the left.
gshubert17 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I'd like to be able to make a triangle wave, but I think the program needs to be able to input negative values for the components.

Nicely done.

oftenwrong 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Doesn't work in Shumway yet.
Poll: How many Bitcoin do you own?
116 points by superamit  1 hour ago   85 comments top 34
sillysaurus2 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The last time someone did this, they mistakenly used "0-5 BTC" as the lowest cutoff. You've made the same mistake. There should be "0-0.25", "0.25-0.5", "0.5-0.75", "0.75-1", "1-2", "2-3", "3-4", and "4-5". Extra poll options are better because now we've lost valuable information at the low end. In 20 minutes, 65 people say they own 0-5 BTC. That's anywhere from $0 to $1385. That's a massive range. We now have no idea how many "casual" bitcoiners there are, because casuals will only have like $200 max.

EDIT: Here's what your poll looks like as of t=35min:

Leftmost bar is 0-5BTC. Rightmost bar is 100+BTC. Oh look, now we know basically nothing about the two most interesting ranges.

EDIT2: As of t=44min: http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=bar+chart+154+21+26+15+... ... Pretty hilarious.

bradleysmith 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
1-2. I got a mobo and graphics card for free and mined lightcoin sometime last year. bought some usb asic's and sold all but one for break even, then bought 10 more at the final ASICminer wholesale price. I've mined those to breakeven.

now I have a coin, some anachronistic blinking doo-dads, and a slightly firmer grasp on my own ubuntu box and btc as a whole. had fun to boot. I did buy a usb hub for 50... but now it holds my blinking doodads!

llimllib 1 hour ago 3 replies      
0 but I don't fit in any of the given 0 categories.
jaredstenquist 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
I bought $1k worth at $36/coin. I sold it when it dropped to $6. I'll have to go long on the next cryptocurrency.
ruswick 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I own half of a Bitcoin. I purchased about two weeks ago. In the intervening time, the value of Bitcoin has gone up 40%. I can't complain, and I'll probably buy more in the near future. It is somewhat disappointing that they can't be used for anything, though. Without practical applications, Bitcoin is subject to massive volatility and doesn't have any sort of foundation to prevent against collapse of the market.

Incidentally, I also developed a Bitcoin Twitter ticker. If anyone would like to keep up with hourly prices via Twitter, I suggest that you check it out.


austenallred 1 hour ago 6 replies      
13 people with 100+ bitcoin? Unfortunately I think this is another example of HN polls becoming completely unreliable.
chm 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I bought 50$ of bitcoins a year ago. I have sold them this week for 100$. I'll buy back when it's low.

At first I thought a deflationary currency was the future. The more I think about it, the more I think bitcoin is just the first step on a bumpy road. I don't see the point anymore in buying bitcoins to then buy goods/services. What always ends up happening is that someone somewhere hogs them and waits for the price to go up. I'm then stuck to buy at a premium, every time, unless I had a stash of coins to begin with, something which most potential adopters don't have. I'm also not convinced that the early adopters should get a bonus from having mined so many coins when it was easy. I don't have a silver bullet, but I think this problem could be fixed by a new cryptocurrency. Either dampen the bonus to early adopters or remove it entirely. This should be a goal of crypto-anarchists, I think...

Or maybe I'm wrong and we'll be seeing a lot of trade going on with different denominations of one BTC in the near future. Maybe people don't care to give a premium to early adopters.

rcthompson 1 hour ago 1 reply      
So, given that article about a guy that bought $17 in BTC in 2009 and found out recently that it was worth 5 figures, should I feel like an idiot for not getting in on this while BTC were cheap a few years ago? My logic at the time was "I don't really know that much about Bitcoin, so buying some would basically be speculating, which seems like a bad idea."
seanalltogether 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
0 now. I made a couple thousand from buying low selling high from the first bubble. I sold out all of them when the price was at $144 a couple weeks ago under the belief that mtgox was becoming too unstable. I still haven't received any money from them after cashing out so I'm not feeling to bad about losing out on the current bubble. The market is just too sketchy to stay in any longer, I have no faith in the exchanges.
ParadisoShlee 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I threw away 30 coins during the first year of mining when you could get a coin a day on a half decent box... It's always made me annoyed at myself because I could buy a lot of pizza with those coins.
peter_l_downs 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Needs an option for 0. Not everybody owns bitcoin.
ghiculescu 25 minutes ago 0 replies      

I withdrew my funds from Mt Gox over a month ago. Still waiting for it to arrive back in my account. The price of bitcoins has risen significantly since :(

bdcravens 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
I own 1, but I lost it amidst some hard drive reformatting earlier in the year :-|

A couple of years ago, I was trying to get others to invest in my mining operation. Then it tanked, I shut down and sold the rigs, and eventually cashed out - I let the 15 or so coins I had climb back up to $7 or so before I sold. If only ....

paulhodge 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Zero.. I recently owned 10 but sold them all when the price jumped to $200. I guess I was too quick on the trigger, but what can you do. Will be buying again in about a month when this hype cycle dies off.
chaz 57 minutes ago 3 replies      
Is anyone day trading bitcoin? i.e., buying and selling multiple times a day based on small-ish fluctuations of the market?
anigbrowl 1 hour ago 2 replies      
0. I had one at some point a few years aback but I deleted the miner and the wallet along with it.
sarreph 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What about negative amounts? It's possible... Sometimes.


dnautics 1 hour ago 0 replies      
0, because I just sold (doubled up on a single bitcoin). Will buy in at the next trough.
yeukhon 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have an increible hard time to get started with bitcoin. Which website? How? Can someone pull through the right path for me? I want to start investing in mining and buying.
flavmartins 54 minutes ago 1 reply      
Just started mining this week. It took 6 months for the dedicated machine to arrive.
dhughes 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I had one when it was $10 but spent it, now at zero.
Pitarou 1 hour ago 1 reply      
0 - My wife said, "No way, it's a bubble."


l0c0b0x 1 hour ago 0 replies      
On Hacker News for at least a year, and have yet to research ANYTHING about bitcoin *runs.
jacalata 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I have 0.006 from when I tried out mining a while back, but gave up pretty quickly.
InclinedPlane 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
This whole poll just serves to illustrate the problems with bitcoin. Bitcoin is supposed to be a currency, but people are treating it like an investment. The more relevant statistic to bitcoin's popularity as a currency would be how many bitcoin transactions people have participated in over the past year.
Buge 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A more exponential graph probably would have been better.
KyeRussell 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Mine are all stuck in MtGox's clutch, I've just about tripled my current investment. I hope it doesn't crash before they give it up.
Kinnard 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Not enough.
TylerE 1 hour ago 0 replies      
kbelbina 1 hour ago 0 replies      
emilepetrone 1 hour ago 0 replies      
neotoy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
tgeo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
AdmiralBeotch 1 hour ago 2 replies      
All 'yall need to be ashamed of yourselves if you don't own even a US penny's worth of Bitcoin. I'm not even kidding. If you've never witnessed a bitcoin transaction or held a bitcoin on an electronic device this far into the game, just hang your heads in shame.
Google Apps drop support for IE9 googlesystem.blogspot.com
157 points by ritchiea  7 hours ago   103 comments top 21
davidjgraph 7 hours ago 4 replies      
"The policy is not useful for Internet Explorer, which doesn't update automatically and has limited OS support."

First point is wrong, from IE 11 the default is automatic updates.

The second point is an unusual way to phrase it...

On the overall topic, I find this strange. Google Docs seems to make efforts to target Microsoft Office users by writing importers for what are very complex formats. It then pretty much cuts itself off from most medium and larger Microsoft based companies, very few of which, in my experience, are up to IE 10.

I wonder if this says something about them really targeting the small, but fastest growing companies and anything really big is nice, but not the priority.

DigitalSea 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The only way the web can move forward is if we stop supporting archaic browsers that can't support half the features CSS3 and HTML5 have to offer. Google are the only company game enough to make such a move, they should be praised for this. They've consistently helped push the web forward, IE10 is exciting and a decent version of Internet Explorer, I can't wait until I can build for IE10+

Websockets, HTML5 File API, FileReader API, XMLHttpRequest 2, Web Workers, IndexedDB, requestAnimationFrame, JS Typed Arrays, PageVisibility and a whole list of other awesome things that IE10+ supports. I'm drooling thinking of all of these new API's I soon will be able to use in my web applications without needing shims.

freehunter 7 hours ago 8 replies      
I wonder if Google will ever end up in legal trouble for such a policy. While I don't support the notion that any company or person should have to support any version of OS or browser, knowing the massive effect that Google has on the web market and the fact that they have their own browser, if there is any attempt to specifically lock out older competing browsers, the FTC or EU might have questions about that. If you're pushing to be number one in a massive market, you have to play by different rules (as Microsoft found out in the 90's).

Google hasn't been playing nice with Microsoft for a while (see how many Google apps are in the Windows Phone store, the issue where they locked out IE Mobile from viewing Google Maps, or how they treat Windows Phone trying to interface with YouTube). In a way it's nice to see Microsoft reaping what they've sown so long ago, but in another way it's incredibly frustrating from an end user perspective to be someone who likes Microsoft software (such as Windows Phone) and also enjoy using Google services like Maps and Youtube.

Google should be careful with how much they're pushing against Microsoft, especially with Microsoft's new market position versus Google. Microsoft is hardly the monopoly anymore.

csmuk 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This really doesn't make sense apart from for the sake of pushing Chrome, which is using the same bait and switch tactics that Microsoft used in the late 90's and early 00's. Don't be evil eh?

If you look at the FULL chart they reference[1], there are considerably more IE8 users than any Apple device for example and there are more IE8 and IE9 users combined than IE10.

IE8 users are likely on Windows XP as that's the last supported browser version on that. Bye bye XP users unless you install Chrome.

IE9 users are likely on Windows Vista as that's the last supported browser version on that. Bye bye Vista users unless you install Chrome.

This appears to be Google just being a dick, seeing an opportunity and forcing Chrome on people.

To be honest, and I really hate saying this, Microsoft are the only damn company left that has a reasonable support lifecycle these days. Literally everyone else makes a whooshing sound.

[1] http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-ww-monthly-201310... stats are all bullshit on this anyway TBH).

Footnote: I'm posting this from Firefox on OpenBSD before I get accused of being a shill...

mratzloff 7 hours ago 3 replies      
For some reason this article resists drawing the obvious conclusion, which is that this is just an effort to turn Google Docs users into Chrome users.
l0c0b0x 6 hours ago 1 reply      
- First, Google extends support for Chrome on XP for a few more years- Second, Google ends support for IE8/9.

Sweet move Google/Chrome.

hbharadwaj 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
There are reasons for MS not auto updating IE and leaving update settings to system admins. SAP in my company works only for IE9. One cannot simply drop whatever it is and start working on bug fixes for IE10/11, Firefox and Chrome, irrespective of whose fault it is. Google is being Google in this matter.
zmmmmm 6 hours ago 1 reply      
> We support the latest version of Google Chrome (which automatically updates whenever it detects that a new version of the browser is available) as well as the current and prior major release of Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis

This policy seems kind of broken since browser versioning went crazy. There is no longer any particular link between a "major" version of a browser and the actual technical changes under the hood that came with it. Chrome has a new "major" version what, monthly? FireFox nearly the same? MS sat on IE6 for 5 years and then iterated nearly a major version every year since, but now seems to be correlating them to new (major or minor) versions of Windows. Tying a support policy to something that is so different between browsers, and mostly a marketing device, seems pretty weird to me.

Touche 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I love this. Very reasonable position. The last 2 versions is very reasonable in my opinion. This is common on the mobile app side, developers only supporting the last couple of major OS versions.

And because this is Google they have the weight to make Microsoft think hard about their policies of abandoning their own customers.

acjohnson55 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Google's not abandoning these people. Microsoft abandoned them long ago. When I hear from QA that something isn't working on IE8, it ruins my entire day. Even IE10 is dreadful to work with. Good riddance!
andyl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why the heck doesn't MS auto-update its browsers? Chrome and FF have been doing it for years.
dshep 5 hours ago 4 replies      
This is the most interesting part for me:

"Android has a much bigger fragmentation problem than Internet Explorer. Supporting only the latest 2 Android releases (4.3 and 4.4) would mean targeting less than 3% of the Android devices."

Must be accurate coming from Google.

com2kid 6 hours ago 7 replies      
Because HP never upgraded my graphics card drivers on my laptop, I cannot upgrade past IE9 on my Windows 7 machine. (For whatever reason IE10 takes a dependency upon some point release of DirectX that requires driver revisions).

So, umm, gee thanks Google? Ugh.

Aldo_MX 5 hours ago 0 replies      
That was fast... but I'm really glad as a developer, the less old versions to support the better.
filipedeschamps 7 hours ago 0 replies      
God bless Google for pushing the internet forward.
outside1234 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I bet there were cheers in the Office 365 team when they heard this - that is an enterprise non-starter.
quaffapint 4 hours ago 1 reply      
My mega-size company is still in the process of moving from XP to Windows 7. So, our 'new' browser is IE9.
c23gooey 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if Google are shooting themselves in the foot a little bit here. The corporate world doesnt move that fast, many companies still use IE7 for instance.

If corporate users cant use gmail etc its going to force them to things like hotmail which im sure will work fine in any version of IE7+

GnarfGnarf 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Kaspersky AV flags the link as "phishing URL".
ffrryuu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Good news for everyone.
so898 2 hours ago 1 reply      
So next time Google will drop Windows or Mac OSX to introduce their brand new OS system? I hope it will not be the Chrome OS or Android.
The API-ization of everything garrytan.com
67 points by TheMakeA  4 hours ago   28 comments top 8
drblast 41 minutes ago 2 replies      
If only this were more true. API's for most things are...lacking.

A dearth of API's is particularly bad in computer security.

Vendors: We have this great new device to monitor ___ and alert on it!

Customers: We'd like to integrate that with our other devices, and this Hadoop cluster...

Vendors: We integrate with all kinds of stuff!

Customers: Can you show me?

Vendors: You just go to our shitty web front end and click "export." You can get an Excel file or .csv. It's THAT simple! Or I think in the next version we can export to syslog. Larry? Do you know about the syslog thing? Yeah, it's going to do that. We have our engineer working on it.

Customers: Can I query the data directly?

Vendors: Sure! Just go to the web front end and arrange your Boolean logic operations with this impossibly obtuse drag-and-drop graphical programming hack we came up with. Focus groups LOVE it, because you don't have to type to use it.

Customers: What if I want the machines to talk together and query each other without me having to type in a password and click the shitty web front end?

Vendors: crickets ... So how many do you want to buy?

Are you listening, potential YC candidates?

By the way, when you write software, write the API first, then write your cool UI using the API. Yeah, it's a little more difficult at first, but you'll save untold amounts of time in the long run and the product will be better for it.

Edit: In case this wasn't clear, I'm talking to you, you HN-reading recent college-grad who wants to start a company but needs a good idea that doesn't involve social networking. Make network security products with great API's and sell them to companies. Forget about the cheesy front-end, make it easy to get data into and out of. Your target audience is techies who aren't baffled by databases and are willing to spend a month hacking on a system if it helps them query huge amounts of data quickly. Also, you want to charge less than the cost of these techies making the system themselves. Go.

bmelton 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The final sentence in the article really struck a chord with me...

> Where there is paper to push, a call to answer, or a purchase to approve, there is an API coming to replace it.

I've made a pretty decent living in life by following the old mantra that anywhere you see an Excel spreadsheet being used in a business process, there's an opportunity to exploit.

That idiom has now moved even further, at this point, and I don't know why I'm surprised to read in print what I think we've all probably intuited for some time now.

I've been attempting to embrace this for awhile, but I think it hit home the most last week, when I saw Joshua Beckman's article on a Personal API, and then started building one for everybody else[1].

It's been a fairly profound experience, and every subtle feature that I add, the more certain I am that it's the right path to be taking. Around every turn, I think of a new use case, or a new way to extend it, or a new type of service to integrate with -- and it baffles me that it takes us so long to make switches in thinking like this, even though we literally do it all the time as technologists.

[1] - I shouldn't be sharing the link, as the code isn't done, and it's likely to set your house on fire, but because it's relevant, the Personal API service is at http://personable.me. If you use it and it gives you herpes or something, shoot me an email (contact in my profile) and let me know. If it doesn't give you herpes, you can let me know that too.

GraffitiTim 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with the premise. However, what happens to Lob when paper and mail get replaced by digital transactions? Netflix was able to pivot from sending physical DVDs to streaming digital movies. Will Lob be able to pivot from printing and mailing physical checks to sending digital money, or will they be cut out of the market?

In general, it seems risky to build an API around something that's going to disappear.

lxmorj 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I've spent quite a bit of time working with easypost's API. If you have to ship anything, they've got a great platform and customer support.
jsonne 3 hours ago 2 replies      
This is incredibly interesting. According to some people we're looking at unprecedented growth in the space. Right now there's roughly 9k public APIs. By 2019 that number could be over 100,000.

The question becomes though who does the integrations? Not everyone is a developer. The world needs plumbers for toilets and electricians for lights. I think the future of web development looks a lot like these industries. If a website is a house you'll hire a general contractor who will outsource to various experts in various APIs. At least that's our take on it.

zzen 3 hours ago 2 replies      
For consumers, "there's an app for that".

For businesses, "there's an API for that".

trey_swann 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Armed with APIs, developers will drive the composable enterprise


SUMMARY: The rise of APIs as a source for web services and data means that developers dont have to reinvent the wheel on every feature they can source it from an API. This trend brings about the composable enterprise.

jgalt212 1 hour ago 1 reply      
If given a choice between building a platform or API with equal likelihood of success--go with the platform every time. APIs sit in the background and are rarely the star. Brands have value, and it's very hard to build a brand if you are just the glue.
Presto: Interacting with petabytes of data at Facebook facebook.com
252 points by ternaryoperator  10 hours ago   82 comments top 13
pvnick 9 hours ago 0 replies      
>As mentioned above, development on Presto started in Fall 2012. We had our first production system up and running in early 2013. It was fully rolled out to the entire company by Spring 2013.

Wow. As somebody who skimmed through the original Google Dremel paper and thought for a while about how one would go about implementing such an interactive system, that strikes me as an amazingly impressive timeline.

dude_abides 10 hours ago 8 replies      
Will be very interesting if someone does a benchmark comparison of Presto with Cloudera Impala, Amazon RedShift and Apache Drill.

Also, very curious to know (from any Googlers browsing HN) if Dremel is still the state-of-the-art within Google, or if there is already a newer replacement.

electrum 9 hours ago 13 replies      
Hi, I work on Presto at Facebook and would be happy to answer any questions about it.
tszming 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I really hope one day Google can follow Facebook to opensource some of their core infrastructure technologies (even the legacy one, e.g. 1st generation of GFS etc) to the opensource community :
wehadfun 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm curious what these 1000s of queries by facebook employees are for. What data / information does facebook mine for daily?
cakeface 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> (In a later post, we will share some tips and tricks for writing high-performance Java system code and the lessons learned while building Presto.)

I'm waiting in anticipation for that article!

RyanZAG 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting use of optimizing sql query plans down to JVM byte code. I don't think anybody has done that before - but it sounds like it would work really well. Would be really interesting to hear more on that as it might be applicable to a lot of other areas as well.
monokrome 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Rounding down is not a good solution to the rounding problem. As a software engineer, I also used rounding in my contracts when I was working as a contractor - and here's why:

If I have 5 clients at a time, and each one has a concept/idea every day that takes 20 seconds to explain to me (and isn't on the current iteration) then they are distracting me by not managing their time properly and calling me a dozen times a day to tell me about their thoughts. If it is a change to the current iteration, then it should have been discussed when we agreed on the current iteration's feature set. Either way, the call is not a result of well thought out time management.

As much as I like hearing new concepts and ideas, I also have to take attention away from a project that I'm working on in order to provide my full attention to the client calling me.

After the call is done, I also have to come back to the project at hand and hopefully I'm not working on something that requires that I retain a super complicated thought chain which may or may not have been lost in discussion with another client - especially in consideration that I'm not going to bill on other client project for the time that I've spent having been sidetracked and/or getting back to where I was before the call was made.

So, charging in $15 increments causes the client to actually manage their time with the same effectiveness that they would hope that I am managing mine.

Rounding down makes this more of a problem for me, not less of one. Now a 90 second call is at no charge, and I can get more than one of those in one hour - still at no charge - based on the suggested agreement.

hatred 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It will be extremely kind if someone can explain the major differences or features that Presto offers that are different then Impala or other similar products.
knodi 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Java -_-
gesman 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Really nice to see posts like that from Facebook.
pswenson 9 hours ago 1 reply      
what is the data format FB stores? (xml/json/?)
teddyh 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Beautiful. Unethical. Dangerous.

Lucius Fox, The Dark Knight

Fourier Transforms The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpsons Face nautil.us
265 points by aatish  11 hours ago   87 comments top 33
0x09 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a bit of a mischaracterization of the way 2 dimensional Fourier transforms operate on images in this post. The 2D DFT (or DCT rather) doesn't deal with anything as complex as tracing shapes on a 2D plane like seen in the video. What it does is treat each 1 dimensional line of the image as a signal/waveform, with the pixel intensity as amplitude. Fourier-family transforms are separable, so the 2D (and ND) case is equivalent to the transform of each line followed by a transform along the resulting columns. So the actual representation that arises from this looks like so, with each image representing the corresponding cosine component: http://0x09.net/img/dct32.png here grey is 0)

Visually most of the sinusoidal components here are zero or nearly so. However if we scale them logarithmically, we'll see that it's actually not so: http://0x09.net/img/dct32log.png

What transform coders like JPEG do is reduce the precision of these components, causing many of them to become zero. Which is good for the entropy coder, and mostly imperceptible to us. Of course JPEG operates on 8x8 blocks only * rather than a whole image like here.

It's hard to imagine this as an image, so here's a progressive sum starting from the second term, which essentially demonstrates an inverse DCT: http://0x09.net/img/idct32.png

mind that 0 is adjusted to grey in this rendering, and the brightness of the result is not an artifact of the transform.

It's easier to understand what goes on with these transforms if you can visualize things in terms of the basis functions. Which in the case of a 32x32 image like above would be http://0x09.net/img/basis.png (warning: eye strain).

All the examples above pertain to the DCT, partly because of JPEG and partly so I could avoid getting phase involved, but the principles apply equally to the other transforms in the family.

* although recent versions of libjpeg can use other sizes

aliston 10 hours ago 4 replies      
This is a great post, but it's a little bit misleading when talking about MP3s and lossy compression and conflates analog fourier analysis with discrete analysis.

When you're talking about a digital signal, it is the sample rate that determines the maximum frequency you can represent. It's not MP3s that "throw out the really high notes" -- it's any digital signal. A discrete fourier transform actually is lossless, but it is bandwidth limited.

The reason audiophiles prefer Flac to MP3s, for instance, is because MP3s do more than just "throw out the high notes." Both are bandwidth limited, but MP3s also throw out other information based on psychoacoustic principles.

Dn_Ab 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah such a shame. Tried to resist but I can't help pointing out you missed a chance to explain how when Fourier discovered the expansion, it really was an example of "one weird trick all the Mathematical Physicists will hate him for".

It was during his time in Grenoble that Fourier did his important mathematical work on the theory of heat. His work on the topic began around 1804 and by 1807 he had completed his important memoir On the Propagation of Heat in Solid Bodies. The memoir was read to the Paris Institute on 21 December 1807 and a committee consisting of Lagrange, Laplace, Monge and Lacroix was set up to report on the work. Now this memoir is very highly regarded but at the time it caused controversy.

There were two reasons for the committee to feel unhappy with the work. The first objection, made by Lagrange and Laplace in 1808, was to Fourier's expansions of functions as trigonometrical series, what we now call Fourier series. Further clarification by Fourier still failed to convince them. As is pointed out in [4]:-

"All these are written with such exemplary clarity - from a logical as opposed to calligraphic point of view - that their inability to persuade Laplace and Lagrange ... provides a good index of the originality of Fourier's views"


quasque 8 hours ago 2 replies      
ImageMagick has a nice tutorial on the use of Fourier transforms in image processing, if you want to get a more intuitive feel on the subject: http://www.imagemagick.org/Usage/fourier/
zenbowman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
They really are a beautiful thing, it is unfortunate that most computer science majors don't get at least a basic introduction to signal processing as part of their standard curriculum. Especially because in my experience, the best way to understand a Fourier transform is to implement it in a program, feed in different signals, and wait for the light in your mind to go off.

Images and audio signals provide a particularly stunning insight.

zwieback 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to note that Fourier wasn't trying to any of the things that the Fourier Transform is commonly used for today, namely signal processing. He was trying to solve heat transfer equations when he came up with the Fourier series. I'm not even sure if he was that interested in the Transform as such, e.g. looking at a signal in frequency space and then efficiently applying filters before transforming back to time domain.

My dad remembers his professor, sometime in the 40s, posing the question of calculating when a worm buried in the ground would experience the same temperature we'd experience at Christmas (Erdwuermchen's Weihnachten) and the solution had to be calculated with Fourier's heat transfer equations.

doctoboggan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in audio fingerprinting using the FFT check out my IPython notebook that explores this idea in more detail. I used a spectrogram and image processing tools to identify what a given audio sample is. You should be able to download the notebook and run all the examples.


neltnerb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I would add to your list of reasons why Fourier Transforms are awesome.

By complete coincidence, Bragg's law, used to do everything from X-Ray Diffraction to particle scattering, just happens to be a fourier transform. Every time we bombard a tiny thing with light or radiation in order to understand the structure, what we literally get out of it is emission dots that correspond to the periodicity of the lattice -- literally the 2D fourier transform of the scattering cross section. When I heard that in Quantum III, it blew my mind. It's straight out of quantum scattering theory.

thearn4 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Another cool thing is that orthonormal bases are not unique - there are many other basis functions that you can choose beyond just sine and cosine to decompose a function (or digital signal). Though they are a natural choice if you are specifically looking to analyze periodicities.

One direction to go in for further study:


nilkn 9 hours ago 4 replies      
> You could just tell them a handful of numbersthe sizes of the different circles in the picture above.

Maybe I'm crazy and just missing something, but this feels a little too good to be true. This would put the set of smooth curves in 1-1 correspondence with the set of finite sets (since each curve is being specified completely by a finite set of numbers). But the set of finite sets is countably infinite since it's a countable union (this may require the axiom of choice) and the set of smooth curves is uncountably infinite, a contradiction.

(Disclaimer: I know nothing about Fourier analysis.)

sillysaurus2 10 hours ago 2 replies      
EDIT: I mixed up high vs low frequencies, as the reply pointed out, so I've edited this to be correct now.

The reason we can get away with throwing away low frequencies in JPEG is because humans are prone to notice significant details rather than tiny details.

High frequencies of a Fourier transform of an image == tiny detail (like being able to distinguish individual hairs)

Low frequencies of a Fourier transform of an image == huge details (like someone's face).

So you transform, set part of the result to zeroes, and compress. To display it you uncompress, transform back, and display it. The zeroes manifest themselves as an almost-imperceptible blur.

arb99 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I find this kind of stuff fascinating.

Are there any decent books (kindle or proper books) with this kind of content? I've got no background in Maths (other than some (UK) A-level maths at school), but always love reading these sort of posts.

frozenport 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm going to kill the next person I who writes a Fourier Transform article and doesn't talk about the phase data. Its complex in complex out, if you input is real you still get complex out!!!
aatish 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi Hacker News - I'm the author of the piece, also on twitter @aatishb. Look forward to hearing your thoughts. I encourage you to share your thoughts and insights with other readers by leaving a comment on the post, particularly if you know of other interesting applications about the Fourier transform. Cheers!
X-Istence 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I would love to know more about FT's, along with FFT's and how they help with for example signal processing or finding a signal when looking at a sample or multiple samples of a SDR.

Are there any good books/papers/web articles on this topic that are accessible? I often find myself reading papers where some of the math goes over my head.

Something with examples/code (code makes me understand math so much easier!) would be fantastic!

Sheepshow 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The newer JPEG algorithm JPEG2000 uses Wavelet Transforms which is kind of similar to the Fourier. The Fourier applies a finite window then decomposes into a sum of infinite waveforms. The Wavelet on the other hand applies no windowing function, and directly decomposes the signal into a sum of _finite_ waveforms.

The Fourier has the disadvantage that you can't arrange the components into a time hierarchy; that is, no component occurs "before" any other.

The Wavelet transform _does_ have a natural time hierarchy. This makes it much better for streaming compression like voice calls.

The Fourier perfectly describes signals of infinite duration (think tone or color) while the Wavelet perfectly describes the position of things within a signal (think rhythm or space).

With the Fourier filtering is really easy. You can do hard, hard cutoffs -- literally no contributions within a certain frequency band -- just by removing components of the decomposition. Similarly, you can accurately apply any arbitrary mathematical filtering function.

The disadvantage of the Wavelet is that, well, the only meaningful transformation you can apply to it is compression -- dropping the shorter timescale components. If you want to filter, it's not enough to trim off timescale components because the wavelet itself can contain any frequency components. There's also nothing like a simple mathematical function you can apply to the coefficients to get a smooth filter.


mailshanx 2 hours ago 0 replies      
For those of you seeking an intuitive understanding of the Fourier transform, checkout http://betterexplained.com/articles/an-interactive-guide-to-...

For more details, check out Steven Smith's Digital Signal Processing. The entire book is available to read online, and has an excellent treatment of DSP algorithms.

anigbrowl 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you would like a rigorous but equally enthusiastic and readable treatment of Fourier transforms, then you can't do better than the (free!) book The Scientist's and Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Procesing: http://www.dspguide.com/
susi22 8 hours ago 0 replies      
aatish, since you seem interested, I'll throw another fun-fact at you that I found very interesting even after years of working with Fourier transforms:

You can view the Fourier transform as a fitting problem. Yes, you fit the data to a function. Ie you take the data points and fit it to a sum of exponential functions. There is actually a much more general approach called "Prony method" that extends the concept and adds a dampening factor into the function to fit:


You can take it further and use matrix pencil methods and eventually you'll see connections to ESPRIT algorithm and even least squares algorithm. It's really interesting how they're all actually connected.


fat0wl 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The Shazam algorithm -- I don't want to be all cynical and dumpy because it's not like I remember exactly how it works either (it's proprietary, after all... and even the explanation I was given was not definitive) but one of my Music Information Retrieval professors once described his anecdotal knowledge of it. It was based on some features derived from FFT for sure but didn't seemed very concerned with note identification, if at all. There are a ton of features that can be post-processed from FFTs that can't be equated to "pitch". Beware misleading analogies... the frequency domain (& quefrency, etc. etc.) is a difficult space to conceptualize.

And when you get into machine learning, some of the operations performed by neural networks and the like don't really represent super linear, human-understandable transformations. It's important to understand feature extraction, but more important in the grand scheme of these things is to understand how to dig data that is useful and how it can be used.

revelation 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Theres a nice approach to this through linear algebra and the discrete cosine transform (DCT), as just another base.
kevin_rubyhouse 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Coincidentally, I just had a talk with one of our principle developers about Fourier transforms. He's an audio expert and was trying to explain re-sampling and aliasing to me. I understand the high level steps, but the math is all a blur to me. Recently I've been trying to become much stronger in math, as I eventually want to study aerodynamics and astrophysics. So I've been studying calculus (textbook) and dynamics (edx) lately.
mpclark 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What an amazing article.

It has tied together a bunch of seemingly separate ideas that I've often wondered about, and I feel measurably more intelligent having read it.

Cyph0n 9 hours ago 0 replies      
When we first covered the FS (Fourier Series) and FT (Fourier Transform) and the relation between the two in our Signals and Systems course in EE, I was amazed. It was the greatest thing I've ever learned, and I think it'll be hard to top.

Once you understand the FT, you basically understand how a signal is structured. By converting (or transforming) a time signal to the frequency domain, one can clearly see what frequency components (or harmonics) contribute to said signal. If one were to try the same in the time domain, it would be much more difficult to visualize.

smrtinsert 8 hours ago 0 replies      
What an excellent article. I wish every teacher had the ability to be so clear and concise and most importantly interesting in their work.
new_test 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"One weird trick that made pure mathematicians hate him"
xylem 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is the phase not even mentioned in the article?
xarien 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Another family for those interested in FTs are Discrete Cosign Transforms (DCTs). Also widely used.
data-cat 8 hours ago 3 replies      
This article was interesting but didn't really tell me anything I don't already know. Does anyone know where I can find a good article that actually explains the mathematics of performing a Fourier transformation? I thought that is what this article was going to be about.
itengelhardt 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I like how you make it sound so incredibly easy - especially thinking back to how much I struggled with the math behind this :-) (To be very clear: There's nothing wrong with explaining things in a simple way and leaving out the scary parts)

Great post.

arunc 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Elegantly explained. Does anyone know of similar posts on other transforms like Z, etc?
AsymetricCom 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If your into software and you don't know a out fourior transform, your not into software. this is something programmers without math will discover, along with Pythagorean theorem and basic trig. Otherwise, you are an over-hyped semantic duck-taper.
Silk Road 2.0 Launches forbes.com
266 points by teawithcarl  11 hours ago   200 comments top 22
andrewljohnson 11 hours ago 8 replies      
I'd never buy heroin from a website, but I see the Silk Road as cyber-civil-disobedience, and I hope the persona of DPR and the site itself are as unsinkable as they claim.

The drug war is a ghastly thing, and the number of people we lock up in the US is more shameful than our foreign policy. You can begrudge the first DPR his lame security, shady murder contracts, and ill-gotten fortune, but he's the product of our system, and his shame is our shame.

ChuckMcM 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Not unexpected of course, the demand for narcotics and other services is still out there. I can't help but wonder if this isn't a bit like becoming the new head of some terrorist organization, the target is now painted day-glo orange and we know that it is not only on the 'radar' of law enforcement, its a priority target. The clock starts, and a number of resources are now tasked with taking you out.

Of course the genius of the Princess Bride with respect to the DPR character is that the character cannot be killed or captured or prosecuted, because it isn't really a person, it is an idea. And that was wonderfully illustrated in the book, film, and now in world around us.

oscilloscope 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Senator Tom Carper's statement on the launch:

This new website launched barely a month after Federal agents shut down the original Silk Road -- underscores the inescapable reality that technology is dynamic and ever-evolving and that government policy needs to adapt accordingly. Rather than play whack-a-mole with the latest website, currency, or other method criminals are using in an effort to evade the law, we need to develop thoughtful, nimble and sensible federal policies that protect the public without stifling innovation and economic growth. Our committee intends to have that conversation among others - at our hearing this month on virtual currency.


swalsh 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Yesterday my cousin was found dead. He had committed suicide. It was the end of a long battle he had been waging against himself. Drugs have destroyed this small part of my family, but i'm really glad to see something like the silk road revitalized.

I think the sooner we realize how fleeting a battle it is to fight them, the sooner we can place the money where it belongs.

My cousin is dead now, but I think my tax money would be better spent helping him kick his habit, than locking him up.

ihsw 11 hours ago 7 replies      
I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a honeypot. Just a hunch.
thex86 10 hours ago 12 replies      
A serious question: while I have nothing against Silk Road (the drug war is a waste of money anyways), aren't people afraid of putting stuff in their body that they had an anonymous person send to them? I mean, unless the seller has a reputation, isn't there is a substantial risk of using that drug?

Are my fears unfound? On one hand, the idea of buying drugs online is probably more safe than doing it on the streets, but the anonymity this offers has a potential downside like the one I mentioned above.

lelf 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There is cool interesting feature two factor auth. But not your usual one.It ask you to decrypt random string encrypted with your public GPG key (you provide it in prefs).
the_watcher 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just an example of the massive waste of resources used up by the drug war (assuming this is what it claims to be, point stands regardless). So the Silk Road was shut down, but all that did was reduce the available supply of the drugs. It did nothing to address the demand side of drugs, which is really what drives everything. All attacking the supply does is make it more lucrative for those who are able to evade law enforcement.

There is some role for law enforcement to play in discouraging the supply of drugs (if the society we live in remains one where drug use is considered negative). However, the vast majority of resources should go towards addressing the demand (making people want them less, treatment, etc., I don't mean just arrest all the buyers).

Spittie 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully it won't be another "Project: Black Flag", http://buttcoin.org/silk-road-replacement-project-black-flag...
hack_edu 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Never, ever, ever trust anyone or anything that suddenly reappears after a major bust by the authorities. NEVER.

Move on.

mkramlich 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The interesting thing to me is that, in theory, the same kinds of extreme privacy-protecting, anonymity-maximizing measures which can be used to host any kind of Silk Road, or to visit it and use it, can ALSO be used by... wait for it... wait for it... yes the law enforcement folks. In other words, how can you be sure that this new Silk Road 2.0 is not a sting honey pot setup by the FBI itself?

I don't buy stuff like that and never will. But if I did, I wouldn't go near anything using the Silk Road name after a seizure/arrest has been publicly documented.

Remember, on the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog. Or a teenager living in your mom's basement in Russia. Or an FBI agent munching on donuts in Washington DC. Etc.

girvo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The sudden rise of terribly programmed, horribly insecure marketplaces as hidden services since SR went down has been absolutely fascinating.
spang 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My favorite bit is Forbes' publishing software automatically linking the handle "Steve Jobs" to their profile of the real Steve Jobs. Classy!
conductr 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a place he could run this from and be safe? Like a country without extradition where it would be difficult for US gov to come in and arrest you anyway.

The single dumbest thing the last DPR did was continue living in the US

shocks 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, that was inevitable.
lettergram 9 hours ago 0 replies      
They claimed to have caught the Dread Pirate Roberts... but then again who's to say?
siphor 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As I've never heard of the site before it was seized, the DEA gave it some good advertising. They probably will have grown the site much quicker by trying to stop it.
yeukhon 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I am serious here too: I don't support the website's initiative. I endorse the technical aspect of it as a way to test whether the design is optimal and achievable, but in no way would I ever support drug dealers.
xacaxulu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
khax 11 hours ago 0 replies      
pretty sure its a honeypot.
bkurtz13 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Domain registered by FBI
Is Modern Web Design Too Formulaic? microlancer.com
27 points by mjio  3 hours ago   23 comments top 16
programminggeek 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
No, it's not. Formulas are good within reason because they give the average user a framework to navigate an application. That is why you have standard buttons, widgets, etc. in gui toolkits. It provides a consistency that people don't have to re-learn for each application.

Uniqueness has its place, but not every app should be a unique snowflake.

abraxasz 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I think a more relevant question should be: is a certain degree of "formulaicity" desirable or not? I believe that it is, yes. When I browse a website for the first time, I like it when it's clean and unoriginal in its presentation. First, I can find my way quickly, and second (maybe it's just an illusion) I find it less mentality taxing.

A lot of startups adopt a layout similar to that presented in the article for their website, which makes it easier to know quickly what's going on. Is it bad from a differentiation/branding point of view? Maybe, I don't know. I don't think I'm very sensitive to this, but this might be a very important point.

Take worrydream.com for instance. I checked it out yesterday, and the content of the website is absolutely fantastic (I'm a new fan of Bret Victor). But the website's design is very, very original, and it took me some time to get used to it. This is not to say that it's not good. It's different. And different requires efforts (well worth it in this case).

drawkbox 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Web design is a communication art. When norms/formulas are created they convey a message users understand. It is easier to default on the norms so that prevails for most situations. Sometimes new norms are created with new platforms, i.e. touch, scroll changes. But in the end you are trying to communicate a message and being too different is a certain kind of message.
ThomPete 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It doesn't really matter. As a web-designer your job is not to invent a new aesthetic but to communicate a companys message in whatever way is most beneficial to that specific customer whether thats flat, 3d, contemporary, ugly, typographic and so on.

Spend some years doing this and you can follow any trend.

You are like a carpenter and 98% of you will stay carpenters, which is great as long as there is a need for carpenters.

But my advice would be this.

Learn design, learn to mimic, learn to be original. But don't be an artist for other peoples money unless they pay you to.

Instead on the side build a product, a company, a service a website, an experimental design lab and go crazy. And if you have the time learn to code. In fact as soon as your skills are descent learn to code.

vezzy-fnord 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
In my mind, the main issue with modern web design is people slapping on generic Bootstrap themes without any effort.
leggo2m 1 hour ago 0 replies      
No, it's not too formulaic. These "formulas" are very helpful to average web users because they are instantly able to understand a given website because it's following the norms.

Are car designs too formulaic? After all, they all have steering wheels and pedals. They all share characteristics so as to allow any driver to immediately know how to operate the vehicle without having to re-learn every component for every new car. The same is true for websites.

In fact, we've finally gotten to the point of understanding this, thanks to usability research, please don't try to reverse the trend.

neovi 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's like logo design: there are specific types of branding that you keep in mind (abstract, wordmark, letterform..), they're like mental models. They aid you in the development of design, so it's not "is [it] too formulaic" but "does it serve its purpose?" Does the way it's designed benefit what it's meant to do?

A lot of landing pages look the way they look because it does what it needs to do: educate about the product. The uniqueness of the web design isn't in the layout but in the hierarchy and positioning of information within the common single page -> scroll down -> sign up.

Is it lazy? Depends on the situation. Is it beautiful? You could make it so, but it commonly isn't. Does it get the job done? Pretty much all the time. I see the same template, but I get different information.

secstate 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Not to be an ass or anything, but isn't there some irony in "Microlancer" criticizing orignality in marketing site design while his designer site epitomizes the currently very trendy flat style? Complete with high contrast colors and a scrollspy'd comments section.

Again, not trying to be an ass. Actually I'd argue that true originality is damn near impossible to achieve, given that our ideas don't usually spring forth, fully clothed from Zeus's forehead.

Raphmedia 2 hours ago 1 reply      
At the web design / development I work at, none of the websites look like that. Sure, we are not making single pages, but still. There is more to the web than single pages fronts for startups.

This is only a trend. Humans love trends.

Wait until the next guy come up with a great idea and everyone will copy it once again. See the flat design trend.

null_ptr 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
Oh, this is not modern web design. This is just the web design pushed by San Francisco hipsters onto their brethren. None of the web sites average people visit as part of their normal life look like that nor will they ever.
Pitarou 1 hour ago 1 reply      
You say "formulaic" like it's a bad thing!

Formulaic --> Follows well-understood conventions --> Easy to make sense of --> Gets the message across better --> More sign-ups --> Profit --> Food on the table --> My kids grow up strong and healthy --> I'm more likely to propagate my genes

So I'll take formulaic every time.

sarreph 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is very true.

I remember the days when poorly-built flash websites were the norm; they may have sucked from a usability standpoint, but they sure had the edge in originality!

mafro 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Bring back the blink tag!
netpenthe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
it is all fashion, things come into fashion then they go out.

then they come back in.

there was an old Mad magazine that had this with cars:

  1. first the cars were all chrome with a little bit of glass  2. then the glass got bigger and bigger  3. eventually the cars were all glass with a little bit of chrome  4. then a 'futuristic' car came along that was all chrome with only a little bit of glass

elwell 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You want something un-formulaic? My favorite: bible.ca
microcolonel 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Breaking conventions without good reason is bad design.
Google Security Team Member on NSA: "Fuck These Guys" plus.google.com
1038 points by cdvonstinkpot  1 day ago   362 comments top 49
sinak 21 hours ago 14 replies      
I think it's pretty clear that we need both technical and legislative fixes to NSA surveillance. Just one of the two isn't enough: to get be even vaguely confident that surveillance ends, we need both. The technical fixes I can't speak to, but the legislative ones I've been thinking about for a while. In the last week, there have been two prominent bills announced to deal with surveillance:

- Bill 1: The FISA Improvements Act, from Feinstein and the Senate Intelligence Committee. In short it legalizes most of what the NSA has been done.

- Bill 2: The USA FREEDOM ACT, from Sensenbrenner and Leahy, currently being considered by the House/Senate Judiciary committees. It amends 215 of FISA to end bulk phone metadata collection and fixes some of the problems with 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (under which PRISM is run). But it doesn't fix 702 fully, does nothing to end BULLRUN (undermining encryption) nor the surveillance that happens outside FISA (MUSCULAR, for example, and god knows what else).

Obviously the Feinstein bill can't be allowed to pass. But some really big names (ACLU, CDT) have thrown strong support behind the Freedom Act. I'm wondering what we as the Taskforce(.is) should do. It's clear to me that it doesn't go nearly far enough. And there's some chance that if it passes, Congress will view this whole thing as "dealt with" and not revisit the issue for years to come. But unfortunately the Freedom Act barely has the votes to get out of the judiciary committee, and getting it to pass through both houses requires a lot of momentum.

We've been working on a campaign asking folks to call and oppose Feinstein, and potentially to support the Freedom Act. But I'm not sure if that's a right move. Unfortunately, the public doesn't understand why privacy is important, and Americans aren't nearly angry enough for Congress to do anything more substantial than the Freedom Act. We might be able to push for amendments, but it's a long shot.

tl;dr - We've got two bills in Congress. One is terrible, one is mediocre. But we don't have the political momentum to do anything better than the mediocre bill. What do we do? Tech advocate conundrum.

cromwellian 22 hours ago 8 replies      
It's ironic that when the Chinese attack against Google occurred, we thought the Chinese government was the most hostile state actor threat to worry about, but it turned out to be the US and UK government.
ChuckMcM 23 hours ago 3 replies      
I wondered about that traffic, and getting confirmation from the source that the only way the NSA could have it would be by tapping into the internal network is as quite damning.

Google has the best OpSec team I've ever known, it is my hope that they close this 'loophole' as completely as possible.

bowlofpetunias 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Oh, the hypocrisy....

> "Bypassing that system is illegal for a good reason."

Yes, so is invasion of privacy. Yet Google has no problem breaking the law and violating civil rights for profit.

> "Unfortunately we live in a world where all too often, laws are for the little people."

Yeah, like tax laws and privacy laws...

If you want to get on this high horse, you shouldn't be working for Google.

lsh123 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Lets start from the beginning: the NSA "hack" became possible because Google (and its security team) made bad assumptions about the security of the connection between Google's data centers and did not encrypt the traffic. Basically, this is security 101: protect data at rest and protect data in flight. So, sorry but I think the better subject for discussion would be how badly Google screwed up, not how evil is NSA. Moreover, it is not clear if other governments or criminals also had access to the users' data (e.g. in Google's data centers located outside of the US). So far Google did not produce any public post-mortem thus we have no clue how bad was the problem.

P.S. I am sure I will get smashed in the comments, so let me say right away that NSA actions should be controlled and audited by the public (e.g. through our representatives in Congress). I think that the biggest "evil" here are the members of Congress who either approved NSA actions or failed to do their job and monitor/audit NSA properly. In particular, I would point my finger at Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] who should have been ousted from the office long time ago.

thex86 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Appreciate Mike speaking up like this. We need more people within the industry to speak up. Not just hackers.

(People within these companies are also hackers, but they have more effect when they speak because they are part of a company)

SCdF 22 hours ago 7 replies      
This has been asked before, but I'd love to hear from a dev (anonymously of course) who actually helped build this NSA madness. Is it like The Cube, where no one really knew what each piece was for? Is it that they are morally pro the NSA's attitude toward personal and corporate privacy, or do they just not care either way?
pvnick 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Keep in mind when considering reform by our legislature that any serious efforts on that front will likely be undermined with blackmail made possible by the very surveillance apparatus they are attempting to curtail [1]. I sincerely hope that Snowden's revelations prove or at least strongly hint towards such an assertion because until they do it's still "conspiracy theory." Free society is in deep shit, and for the life of me, even though I've thought about it obsessively for the past couple months now, I have no idea what can be done about it.

[1] http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/tag/russ-tice/

adamnemecek 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, a guy working for Google said "fuck you" to the NSA. All my doubts and worries are gone now.
caycep 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's one potential cultural snafu - my understanding is US intelligence based almost entirely on SIGINT. I'm not sure how great we are at plain old HUMINT, i.e. using people and relationships to get information and an overall picture of the world.

So all the defense community was raised on SIGINT, and anything seen as a curb on this - technical or legal, they will probably view it as some sort of existential threat. They would then fight tooth and nail to block any sort of reform. And the military industrial complex has quite a lot of legislative muscle....

rdl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm personally far more angry with Congress utterly failing in their oversight role, and to some extent with the judiciary for becoming at best a rubber stamp, than with NSA. The President (pretty much from LBJ onward, but even farther back) is also fairly complicit in this, but that part is accelerating.

I would probably be a single-issue voter if a candidate for congress were likely to win and was aligned with me on this issue but opposed on virtually everything else.

One essentially-fantasy is to run for Congress directly. Unfortunately I haven't lived my entire life to my mid-30s in trying to become a viable political candidate, so this would be difficult. Central or Eastern WA is probably the best bet, along with starting a 50-500 person business which employs a lot of local people (manufacturing of some kind) and generally being an engaged local citizen for a decade or more. But that's a long term goal.

bcoates 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Is information about disruptions to the US PSTN collected anywhere?

The discussion of cable tapping and the NSA's apparent taste for doing things the expedient way instead of the legal way makes me wonder if the "vandalism" domestic underground fiber cuts in the years after 9/11 form an interesting pattern.

ismail 16 hours ago 1 reply      
'Privacy' currently is just a facade, most people have just not realised that. Here is an interesting fact, that joe public do not realise.

If you have a mobile phone, you can be tracked, even if there is no GPS on the device. Besides this if the NSA chooses, they can track practically ANYONE in the world, all they need is a mobile number. I would not be surprised if this is actually one of the tools they have.


Due to the nature of how GSM and mobile operators integrate when roaming. When a mobile operator signs an international roaming agreement, they setup signalling links between their switches and VLR's (Visitor Location Register).

The mobile operator in the visited country needs to authenticate you against your home network, this happens via SS7.

Once this link is established, it is assumed to be trusted, and most operators DO NOT apply any filtering on these commands. So with a carefully crafted SS7 command, you could request the location of a mobile subscriber, even if they have not even attempted to join your network.

Now here is where it gets interesting, get access to send ss7 commands from an operator with many international roaming agreements, and you can get details on practically any subscriber. Get access to 2-4 (i.e AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodaphone) of these massive tier1 operators, and you can get the location of practically everyone with a mobile handset.

ratsmack 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
This may put a small kink in their plans, but the NSA and GCHQ have unlimited resources and will find another way in.
LiamMcCalloway 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I am surprised this exerpt from Alan Rusbriger's article in the New York Review of Books [1] hasn't made the rounds:

> "But I did have an interesting (unattributable, of course) briefing from someone very senior in one West Coast mega-corporation who conceded that neither he nor the CEO of his company had security clearance to know what arrangements his own organization had reached with the US government. So, its like a company within a company? I asked. He waved his hand dismissively: I know the guy, I trust him.

West Coast mega-corporation does not know what West Coast mega-corporation does.

[1] http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/nov/21/snowden...

lazyjones 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Cussing is all fine and understandable, but I missed the part where the Google opsec team was searching for and plugging the holes the NSA is exploiting, or switching to another carrier, or suing the NSA for illegal wiretapping.
ynniv 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that we also forget in this age of reduced crime, that it doesn't matter whether or not something is illegal if you have no means of preventing someone from doing it or holding them responsible when they do. We discovered this situation not by uncovering the intrusion, but from leaked documents. The government has a lot of employees and likes to document its operations, which can lead to whistleblowing... organized crime has few employees, tight lips, and doesn't offer the same protection of whistleblowers. The problem here is not the NSA.
josefresco 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Global security sure is easy if you're an engineer working for a large tech company. I say that with as much sarcasm as possible.

Day after day I see post after post around the tech web about how horrible the actions are of the NSA but few if any propose a workable solution to balancing both securing and obscuring actions taken to protect a nation, with the public's need for privacy and protection from abuse.

Oversight, oversight, oversight is all we hear yet nothing concrete to describe how the US (or any nation) is supposed to provide security and keep the enemy from monitoring the techniques and actions taken by intelligence services.

Maybe I'm naive but I don't see a way to keep spying (something all nations do and have done for centuries) with the public's need for complete disclosure.

cgtyoder 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the first time I've seen a HN article pass the 1000-point mark. Who doesn't love someone telling the govt to eff off?
badwetter 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The judiciary should always have an adversarial relationship with the Intelligence community in order to have checks and balances. I think FISA could work with more and varied members on it's committee.

Feinstein is a joke and obviously isn't well informed on the subject matter she's supposedly overlooking.

davidgerard 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"Fuck these people" was Wikipedia's reaction to seeing the puzzle globe on the NSA slide too. First time I've ever seen Jimmy Wales use profanity in a tweet: https://twitter.com/jimmy_wales/status/362626509648834560
cpeterso 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I can understand using unencrypted network within a data center (unless you are doubly paranoid), but why wouldn't they encrypt data between data centers?
allochthon 22 hours ago 0 replies      
My feeling is that the NSA/GCHQ hack was arguably an unfortunate thing for them to do, although somewhat predictable, once one knows of the existence of the network topology vulnerability that was exploited. But presumably somewhere in Google someone knew about this possibility sometime back. I wonder whether there was an assumption that nobody would be clever enough to figure things out, or whether security engineers were working 24/7 to fill in the gap and just didn't get there in time.

Either way, this is a good stimulus for rolling out deeper encryption.

poxrud 22 hours ago 4 replies      
The NSA must have somebody working on the inside at google. Otherwise it would be extremely difficult to reverse engineer the RPC protocol that was used by google's servers to communicate between each other. Even on an unencrypted network I can image it would be very difficult to reverse engineer the protocol without any help.
stevenrace 19 hours ago 0 replies      
They are likely both complicit in - as well as victims of - fiber tapping given GOOG now owns the building housing one of the largest peering exchanges on the Internet [1].

[1] 111 Eight Ave in NYC (housing Hiberia's trans-Atlantic cable, Equinox, Deutsch Telecom, etc)


w_t_payne 14 hours ago 0 replies      
So, this is how it's gonna play out:

Over the next few years it will become more and more common for "in-flight" data to be encrypted. As the "low-hanging fruit" starts to disappear, state-level attackers will increasingly turn their attention from fibre to endpoint; with a corresponding increase in the number of attacks on mobile devices, apps, and embedded systems. This is, to put it mildly, incredibly challenging terrain for passive defence, where complexity all-but-guarantees unknown vulnerabilities and hidden attack vectors.

Now, I am not too sure about the ethics of active defence / networked HIPS, (Too similar by a long shot to the sort of malevolent behaviour it is supposed to defend against) but it might be something that we are going have to have a look at.

acd 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the trends has been like this and history tends to repeat it self but in different forms.1) Main frame - central computing2) PC revolution - decentralized computing3) The cloud - central computing4) ? Hackers invent p2p - decentralized network corporations,government not in control of any communication, information heavily encrypted possibly distributed using erasure codes. Network run by friends who you can trust. Code written by hackers
kriro 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Where are the startups that disrupt the 1984 surveillance state? I think YC recently ventured into nonprofits, maybe they should consider adding one company that "furthers the cause of freedom" to each batch or something.
znowi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's good to see there are still people at Google with integrity and not afraid to speak up. Sadly, they do not run things. In this environment, you either quit or turn to the dark side.
ksk 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, if you read the Terms of Service that Google (and to be fair - everyone else) makes people agree to - Google is free to sell your data to anyone they want. So I don't know which 'Google user' is expecting their data to be private anyway. Not to beat the 'you are the product' dead horse, but I wonder if they were to actually start selling user data would people be in uproar?
rurounijones 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the snippet of traffic involved, can they make an educated guess which links were compromised to get it? (It is DB replication traffic so if you know the source DB and the dest DB then you can work out the route... in theory anyway, with Google Complexity, who knows...
sschueller 22 hours ago 1 reply      
How do we know the Chinese or someone else hasn't hacked into the NSA and is using that data to gain access to secure systems that would otherwise be almost impossible to break into.

Wasn't there a Google break in not so long ago?

AsymetricCom 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Lol a Brit trying to lay into an American corporation for imperialism. I wonder why a system he "worked" on for 1 (or 2) years was so easy to subvert. What a laugh.
api 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Unfortunately we live in a world where all too often, laws are for the little people."

This is sort of the crux of it. We are degenerating into a true oligarchy and/or gangster state in which there are two different systems of law: one for the politically connected and one for the plebs.

androtheos 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Any data running over a leased or owned fiber between data centers should still be encrypted. Why didn't they have a VPN between the data centers? I don't get it and I personally think it's inexcusable. I believe I would lose my job if I my companies data was stolen and their was something I could have done to prevent it, and rightly so. I personally think that everyone has been far to forgiving of companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook etc... for having done such a poor job of protecting the data we entrust to them.
vorce 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's time to also highlight the fact that people enabled the NSA to do these things. A lot of them engineers. In some cases I'm sure the ones building the stuff didn't or couldn't see the end goal. But I guess there have been many who HAVE suspected or known about the use-cases of the products/software that they have been a part of making. This scares me, it is time that engineers take some moral responsibility. Maybe some course in ethical decision making wouldn't hurt to include in engineering colleges?

(Note: All fields should take moral responsibility, but engineers seem to be worse than a lot of others.)

tonyplee 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Just simple big government(s) v.s. big company - happened over and over again in history - remember how powerful Microsoft was in the end of the 90.

Governments don't like challenge to its power. They will find ways to control the Jedi Council.

dell1994 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Oops. What a Hypocrisy? The moral righteous Google. Little People vs Big People? Please stop. Don't do Evil still works for you guys.. I guess.

You have the resources to defend it, if you want to defend. You choose not to in many ways.

So please dont explode in profanity several times a day.

kgarten 14 hours ago 0 replies      
afterwards they will be fu* * * * using FISA court orders ...
w_t_payne 15 hours ago 0 replies      
So how long before HN gets shut down for supporting criminality and terrorism?
ffrryuu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There comes a time when principles are more important than life itself.
blparker 14 hours ago 1 reply      
How does one "capture" data flowing over a private fiber channel? Does it require a physical tap?
__matt 16 hours ago 0 replies      
fuck these guys, they stole our business model!
jokoon 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the few who dares thanking Snowden...
arkj 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just crap!!! The google guys are no better.
frank_boyd 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Well that's ok. But what really needs to happen is this to come from the top management - and most of all, they need to ACT accordingly. Until then, all this "fuck them" exclamations aren't worth a dime.
arca_vorago 13 hours ago 0 replies      
My bet, especially with the rumors of a secret google data ship, is that google is getting ready to make a data power play.

Something along these lines:

"Look at the horrible way NSA treated our customers... We're gonna make sure the NSA can't get our data in the future, and protect everyone's data. Come use our services where we treat you right!"

It was always just a matter of time before a corporation had the ability to compete in the total information awareness arena with the three letters. Google is probably the primary candidate that has the capability, besides MS/Apple.

Of course the three letters win on the data side, but the company wins on the customer side. Win win. For them. Lose for us.

theinterjection 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Has it ever occurred to anyone that, just maybe, the whole NSA thing is a cover-up to distract the attention from the fact that it's actually the megacorporations that want to spy on you? This is a good way for Google, Microsoft, etc. to look innocent. Let's not forget that it was us who decided to trust these corporations with all our personal data.
Microsoft Earns $2 Billion Per Year From Android Patent Royalties businessinsider.com
118 points by jonathansizz  6 hours ago   75 comments top 18
corresation 5 hours ago 2 replies      
...claims analyst, with absolutely nothing backing up their claim. The headline appears as if Microsoft accountants stated this as a fact, when in reality this is someone essentially reading tea leaves.

Further it's worth noting that the division that these Android royalties are attributed to also garners all other patent licensing royalties of any sort (e.g. FAT), as well as licensing charges such as ActiveSync licensing (ergo, every iPhone, among others).

tsycho 6 hours ago 8 replies      
If these numbers are accurate, then yuck!!! My disgust for software patents just went up even further.

More seriously, I have a question for those who know more about this...

1. Are these generic, broad "idea" patents and hence there is nothing Google/OEMs can really do here to avoid licensing them? If not, why don't they use an alternative implementation to avoid the conflict?

2. If the answer to #1 is yes, how does Apple avoid this problem? Are they also licensing from Microsoft? Or is Apple in some sort of a mutual cross-licensing agreement here to fight the common enemy Google?

Maascamp 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Why is everyone taking these numbers as fact when neither the article nor analyst offer anything to back up these claims?

The people submitting and upvoting stories like this are just as responsible for the shoddy state of tech journalism as these bloggers are.

sker 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I always thought HTC and Samsung were exempt from these royalties by releasing their own Windows Phones. That's why Samsung doesn't care at all about their WP offerings.

Samsung, HTC, Apple and Nokia should account for over 50% of the global market. If my assumptions are correct, are the rest of the smaller players able to pay that much money on royalties alone?

I'll like to see some numbers. The article is seriously lacking data.

jonathansizz 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Earn (verb): 'gain or incur deservedly in return for one's behavior or achievements.'

So why change the article's title, HN?

nemothekid 6 hours ago 2 replies      

   Of that, $2 billion in losses are attributable to the Xbox platform.
Wow, I would have never imagined the Xbox division to be in dire straits.

AJ007 6 hours ago 1 reply      
How much money is Ubuntu and Firefox budgeting for patent licenses on their mobile OS?
Oletros 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I like when some staimate from some analyst without any real figure is stated as a fact
Touche 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The mobile phone business is essentially a cartel where only very big players are able to enter the market. Why is this allowed to exist? I couldn't start my own company and compete in this space.
mtgx 6 hours ago 5 replies      
How can a company so shamelessly extract money (through forceful deals, no doubt) from an open source OS, and get away with it?

Linux companies dodged this bullet for the most part, from both Microsoft and SCU, but it seems Microsoft "succeeded" this time against Android with their mostly garbage patents in the same way patent trolls and mass-bittorrent lawsuits have succeeded so far - by scaring people/companies into paying up, without having to get into any lawsuit, which is exactly what patent trolls have been doing for a while.

As soon as B&N was about to invalidate some of their main patents, they quickly "invested" $300 million into B&N (i.e. they settled), and B&N dropped the lawsuit. I wish more OEM's would've had the balls to call their bluff.

So EFF - any proposals for stopping corporate patent trolls like Microsoft, Rockstar Consortium and Intellectual Ventures, yet?

AshleysBrain 4 hours ago 2 replies      
With software, is it out of the question to re-engineer the code so it no longer needs licensing? Why hasn't Android already done that?
zmmmmm 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Hopefully - and I really hope this - most of these patents are stupid stuff from the early days of graphical operating systems and are ready to expire in the next few years (given a 20 year lifespan for most patents).
zmonkeyz 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
Dre Day only made Easy's pay day...
shmerl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A clear demonstration that patent racket is a lucrative "business".
IBM 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This might be more than what Google earns from Android.
leeoniya 5 hours ago 1 reply      
does anyone know which patents they're asserting? FAT?
adrianlmm 6 hours ago 0 replies      
You gotta be kidding me.
padobson 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not surprised the XBox division is bleeding so much cash. Microsoft should never have gotten into the hardware business in the first place. Every time they release a new piece of hardware is cause for a face-palm.

15 years ago, when no console maker had a viable strategy for going online, MS should have built a cross platform solution that made online gaming possible for every console. Does that sound familiar? A cross-platform solution for a number of competing hardware makers?

This division would probably be a huge part of Microsoft's business if they had pulled it off. Just think of the leveraging possibilities if every gamer over the age of 25 had an XBox live account, instead of the much smaller subset of gamers over 25 who also owned a Microsoft console.

I think they're back on the right track with Windows phone, but Google already beat them to the cross-platform solution.

LittleBits: Easy way to get started with electronics littlebits.cc
19 points by nreece  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
ChuckMcM 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very clever! Joining the ranks of snap circuits [1] and others. I like the magnet trick [2]. The challenge I've found with them though is that some inexpensive test equipment to explore would be helpful too. I keep hoping something like the 'nanoscope' or some other inexpensive oscilloscope product can be 'built in' to one of these things so that students and see what is going on with their eyes.

[1] http://www.elenco.com/product/productlist/snap_circuits

[2] I wonder if Apple will sue them if they do that for a power connector? (not snark, seriously, Apple is all about keeping MagSafe for themselves ...)

anigbrowl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Not up on their site yet but coming next month are a set of analog synth components from Korg, including 2 oscillators, an MS-20 style LPF, a step sequencer and multiples/combinators for $150ish.
Float Label Pattern bradfrostweb.com
116 points by ryanjodonnell  8 hours ago   27 comments top 15
clarkmoody 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Even though the space for the small labels is there the whole time, I think this approach is better than having the small labels visible the entire time. Consider if the labels were tiny and always visible: the form would contain very tiny text and odd spaces where the existing placeholder should be.

Gray placeholder text also provides the needed contrast with the black user-entered text, so as not to confuse the two types of large text.

The animation is very clean as well.

thetron 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I love this idea. I did a quick pure-CSS implementation, not bullet-proof by any means - biggest downside is it's reliance on the `required` attribute: http://jsfiddle.net/thetron/qpsnH/
nfoz 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Not bad. Certainly better than inline labels. However, I think another con is the distraction of stuff moving around as soon as I start to type.

Let me be clear, it's not that there's movement. It's that if a box asks me to enter something, then my answer is premised on what was asked of me. If the moment I start typing it seems like something in the environment is changing -- suddenly I'm like, whoa, what changed? Is what I'm typing still what the box wants? Did I do something that caused state to change simply by typing a character?

There's this tiiiiny moment of hesitation at that first character, before my eyes scan what happened, re-read the label text, and I see what occurred and that my input is still valid.

tl;dr: might take a bit of getting used to seeing stuff change on the screen the moment you type into a box.

aaronbrethorst 7 hours ago 0 replies      
All that and there's no link to the iOS implementation? https://www.cocoacontrols.com/controls/rpfloatingplaceholder...

n.b. I created the site I link to above, etc etc.

tzury 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
spectre 2 hours ago 1 reply      
xutopia 8 hours ago 0 replies      
My beef with the placeholder pattern was that once you typed a character you wouldn't know what the field is all about. This pattern fixes this.
sarreph 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful. I'm going to keep a tab on this idea for the next time I need to implement a labeled interface in iOS.
Sakes 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This might be the most beautiful form that I've ever seen. Just gorgeous. I can't think of any way to improve it, and so have nothing valuable to add as a comment.
eagleal 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I've made something similar on a data editing UI back in 2011. But I found that showing the label only on field focus wasn't really suitable for UIs that contained multiple fields of similar data.

Like in the example below[1] there are two fields where you can enter coordinates data, but without a hint you wouldn't be able to distinguish where should one or the other go.

[1] http://www.pmura.com/media/af-ui-input-2011.png

liahsheep 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I hated when I have to choose between label and placeholder, and this has the best of both worlds!
blorenz 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't feel that this solves anything that a label + placeholder could accomplish in this demo. The space for the floating label is available the entire life of the form - before, during and after field focus. I just think that this solution is just putting lipstick on the pig of the issue via animations.
ryanthejuggler 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Not to be that guy, but could you possibly have picked any color other than that particular shade of brown for the header?

Other than that, this is a really gorgeous solution. I'm going to see if I can implement something like this for Android.

yeah_ok 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain to me the difference between an inline label and placeholder text?
d0m 6 hours ago 0 replies      
A clear cons is the fuckload of problems you get with IE trying to do that.. and people entering their emails where it asks emails and vice-versa. I know there are fixes.. but still, always a pain to deal with.
Django 1.6 released djangoproject.com
297 points by philippbosch  14 hours ago   91 comments top 19
jroseattle 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Django is one of my favorite open-source projects. I owe the project a lot.

Years ago, when I was a Microsoft-only shill (yeah, I'll say it), I knew how to build almost anything as long as something from Microsoft was under the covers. I was proud of my abilities, and in spite of the anti-MS crowd, I stood up for my platform and was a good developer.

In 2006, I had a short two-week break from my startup job, and my wife & kids were traveling to their grandparents' house at the same time. I had 336 consecutive hours to spend as I wanted, something I hadn't been able to do in many years. I decided I wanted to work on a little side project, something I could complete within those two weeks.

I made a decision to break out of my comfort zone. I knew a little about Linux, nothing about Apache, zero about Python, and had never worked with Mysql. I came up with an idea for a simple little CRUD application, just a utility site. It was something I knew I could build in maybe two or three days using Microsoft tools.

So, I searched around and found Django. I downloaded v0.9x (it was sometime in the summer, can't recall what it was specifically. I know it was pre-v1.)

And I started from the beginning, purely a newb. It was a position I wasn't accustomed to, so I immediately felt a lack of boundaries and sense of control. But the Django documentation was really good, and I soon gained an understanding of everything I needed to learn -- Python, running Apache, configuring Django, wiring up Mysql. I stayed focused and in one week, I had written my ridiculously simple CRUD app.

But the value I got out of it was how well the project pulled me in to becoming productive on a platform that I'd never used. Not only that, there was the help in the discussion groups from the community. It was a lot of fun, and I could recognize myself becoming a better developer.

The biggest realization came when I compared my Django project to an equivalent built on Microsoft tools. It wasn't a comparison of one-week vs. two-days, but rather one-week coming from square 1. All this led me to rethink my thoughts around my Microsoft background. I didn't become a convert per se, but it made me realize there are so many other ways of solving problems and other systems on which to build applications. And, after feeling productive, it made it easier for me to explore other (non-Microsoft) technologies. The feeling of being productive in multiple environments was so empowering.

I'm not sentimental about software, but the Django project is kind of that kid who can do no wrong in my eyes, due to my formative experience with it.

ubernostrum 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like somebody jumped the gun when they saw the commits and uploads happening; the official release announcement went up only a few minutes ago, and is here:


The release notes are here:


Also: if you downloaded the package in the period between the parent link going up, and now, you might want to grab it again. The first roll of the 1.6 package (which wasn't announced, so we could do final checks first) failed to update our trove classifier, so the package was regenerated, which changed its signature and checksums.

EliAndrewC 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The release notes can be found at https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.6/releases/1.6/

Personally, I'm happy that Python 3 is now officially supported, though in practice I haven't had an issues with using Django 1.5 with Python 3.

fletchowns 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The dedication to Malcolm Tredinnick was a very nice thing for the Django team to do. I didn't know of Malcolm or his passing before reading the release notes, but he seemed like a wonderful person who will be missed by many. Very sad that somebody like that is no longer with us. Reading his tweets I get the sense he was a really cool guy.

Really nice piece about Malcolm from his former boss: https://plus.google.com/+errazudinishak/posts/6j6iAMhNfnb

Congrats to the Django team on releasing 1.6, I'm looking forward to upgrading soon!

jtchang 12 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the reasons I like Django so much is because of the community. This might seem rather meta but the comments in this thread are generally positive. Most Django users I know are well aware of its limitations and don't try to sugarcoat it if Django is not the right tool for the job. But overall I've found the community (and that of Python) pretty receptive.
craigkerstiens 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The persistent connections that now exist within Django should give a quite but great performance boost for the vast majority of Django applications, which are not already running a connection pooler (http://www.craigkerstiens.com/2013/03/07/Fixing-django-db-co...). This alone can be reason enough to upgrade in addition to all the other improvements.
lunchbox 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Dumb question: What does it mean that autocommit is now turned on? I no longer have to call mymodel.save()?


euroclydon 13 hours ago 3 replies      
If you were starting a new project today, would you use development version 1.7 in order to get Django Migrations instead of using South?
d0m 12 hours ago 9 replies      
For those who works with designers or html people who don't use the command line, how do you collaborate with them with Django?

For me it's a perpetual issue to get them up and running, commit/push with git, etc etc. Is there an easier solution? Basically, I'd like them to get started and be able to tweak the templates and css as effortless as possible.

It's kind of very hard to have people working directly in templates/css and others updating html/css and them diff the changes, integrate them, etc..

andybak 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Yay. Major usability wart fixed: "ModelAdmin now preserves filters on the list view after creating, editing or deleting an object."
andybak 14 hours ago 4 replies      
django-vanilla-views in core for 1.7 please. ;-)
daGrevis 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a small change yet I'm really happy with it.

> BooleanField no longer defaults to False

It caused quite a few headaches. Boolean can't have default.

eliben 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it only me or it's not easy to discover what's new / changed / release notes from this page? Is there a secret link I'm missing?
anderspetersson 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for another great release! Also big thumbs up for a shorter release cycle than usual.
smaili 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It's amazing to see how far along Django has come. Anyone remember when Django first came out? Good times :)
Walkman 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of small but very nice improvements, yay! https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.6/releases/1.6/#minor-fe...
anan0s 14 hours ago 1 reply      
are there any particular performance improvements over the previous versions ?

I was thinking basically of transaction management, especially the autocommit behavior.

I browsed through the docs and saw that the default python database API requires autocommit to be turned off... but then again django overrides this behavior.

any comments on this ? (or am I completely lost ?)...

adamlj 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I really need this update! Other than the good stuff already mentioned, The DecimalField finally supports a comma as the separator.
There's No Myth, Only Years Of Hard Work lessaccounting.com
95 points by thibaut_barrere  7 hours ago   28 comments top 10
lquist 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Myth: All I have to do is get TechCrunch. Thats marketing.Reality: Youll have 2,000 unique visitors today and zero tomorrow. Spend five hours on the HackerNews front page and get a few thousand uniques from the most cynical, judgmental visitors you can imagine. Traffic from press outlets and link aggregation sites are NOT primed to buy your product and thus come and leave.

We've built a bootstrapped $5M Revenue (70% pbt margin) run-rate business in ~1 year on the back of a HN post. Generated business that led to something like $500k on the first few days alone.

dasil003 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The other thing to realize is that 37signals ideals and brand directly serve their marketing. I'm not questioning their wisdom per se, but realize that it is a tremendous positive feedback loopone that they started cultivating for at least half a decade before they released their first product. And at a time when web know-how was a lot thinner on the ground than it is today, and being any kind of professional agency that knew what CSS was actually a shockingly huge differentiator. The other product launch I can think of with such a huge audience and explosive success out of the gate was Stack Overflow that followed a similar pattern of massive precision-tuned audience to market to with an already-authenticated-and-trusted human voice announcing the product.

That's not to say that their audience made their successthey obviously came out of the gate with great products as well. So if you can make a great product then you have half the equation. But the really interesting question to me (since I can build a product) is how to get the marketing right from a bootstrapping perspective.

mathattack 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Myth: Its easy to go from client services to products.

Reality: Its really really really hard. As youre selling client services youre also marketing and building a product, so youre basically working two jobs. Youre promoting two company offerings, the product and the consultancy. In your brain youre working through two problem spaces, juggling and assessing opportunities for two company, all without going insane or broke first.

I know many consultancies of all sizes that have tried to make the hop. They look at valuations of services firms (1.5 times revenues) and compare it to SaaS firms (10-12 times revenue) and try to make the move. The Accentures have tried this, as have the 5-6 people shops. The reality is it is very hard to go beyond reusable deliverables and into technology that people independently pay for.

bdcravens 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Spend five hours on the HackerNews front page and get a few thousand uniques from the most cynical, judgmental visitors you can imagine.

In response to the idea that getting listed on TechCrunch, HN, or the like, is somehow a "launch"

diziet 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Realize to have $3,000 in monthly revenue, thats anywhere from 100 to 600 paying customers

If you're charging $5-30 / month, you're not going to grow well unless you are truly a fully self serve company. Charge 10x more and have happier customers. Even apps moved towards a model where they earn most money from high spenders from in-app purchases.

hackaflocka 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I suspect we'll be reading another post from this author in a year's time. About how after investing in his people, many of them walked out to other jobs.
carsongross 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This is my experience with bootstrapping as well.

The technical platform problems around bootstrapping have gotten much easier, due to Heroku, AWS and all the services out there (Papertrail, Exceptional, New Relic, etc.)

Unfortunately relatively little work has been done on the "requires that you be a stubborn bastard" problem.

alexmarcy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
To me the SAAS space is no different than starting a band, being an actor, etc. It is easy to get into at some basic level but almost impossibly hard to become the next Rolling Stones, Tom Hanks or some other crazy successful example of the field.

That is by no means a reason not to do it, just that expectations need to be set about what reality actually looks like.

lessallan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You win.
sethammons 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I hate to put a negative comment, but hey, bad reviews travel 10x faster than good ones for a reason, right? Did anyone else get the chat model pop up baiting me into reading another article? Completely pulled me out of the engaged reading of the article. Poor form. I exited the window and don't believe I'll be going back to the site. </rant>
Kofi Annan: Stop 'war on drugs' cnn.com
297 points by weedow  13 hours ago   161 comments top 22
tokenadult 11 hours ago 2 replies      
"We called on governments to adopt more humane and effective ways of controlling and regulating drugs. We recommended that the criminalization of drug use should be replaced by a public health approach." So the request here is not to say that everyone should use drugs however they wish without regulation, but rather that use of certain drugs should no longer be subject to criminal penalties. A few years ago, Richard Branson's blog post on drug regulation[1] similarly pointed to reducing criminal penalties without saying that drugs should be entirely unregulated, by looking at the example of Portugal. (How is Portugal doing these days?)

The state I live in in the United States, Minnesota, has a low rate of incarceration in large part because it has a low rate of criminal prosecution of drug offenses, with even the small number of persons convicted of drug offenses being unlikely to do time in prison. But this state has a thriving private industry of drug treatment centers, drawing in people from all over the world who want to become clean, and responses to drug use often include judicially ordered drug treatment. Stopping a war on drugs waged by the police and courts and prisons doesn't have to include giving up on discouraging drug use.

[1] http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/time-to-end-the-war-on...

AFTER EDIT: I'll use the last bit of my edit window to post two more links to news reports about the experience of Portugal. These links are in chronological order, and newer than Richard Branson's blog post.



oh_sigh 13 hours ago 6 replies      
I love how whenever a major world leader comes out against the war on drugs, it is always after they are out of office and generally retired from political life.
tokenizer 13 hours ago 2 replies      
IMO the battle is won in stages, and the first step in the legalization of Marijuana at the Federal level.

The next step is when we recognize the victims of the War on Drugs, specifically persons who were sent to jail because of Marijuana. You expand the affected to be people who've committed all non-violent crimes, and advocate for reform from that angle.

I don't care what the law really has to say regarding Heroin, as long as victims/addicts get helped instead of aggregated and exploited by a pseudo-warrior class.

pstuart 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Part of the problem is too many people have been brainwashed into the "protecting us from dangerous drugs" lie. Your average Jane/Joe will say "legalize pot, but ew, meth is bad!"

The fact that we collectively choose to participate in this madness is, well, maddening.

rodolphoarruda 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe the results of decriminalization may vary according to your social context. I live in Brazil and I don't think decriminalization would reduce violence around here, it would, at its best, move the focus away from the drug addict to other parts of the society.

Collaborators from large drug organizations (tens of thousands of criminals, running millionaire operations, heavily armed) won't simply boo-hoo, go home and look for real jobs once drugs are decriminalized. They would look for the new weaker link of the chain and then concentrate all their violence on it. Once drugs are legalized and are freely sold on public points of sale (whatever government calls them), criminals would target the "supply chain" and distribution network. All of the sudden drug organizations would find themselves operating wholesale, not retail anymore. They would steal cargo to sell it at poor city areas or in places where official suppliers haven't established POSes yet. Stealing (buying for zero) and selling is much more attractive than "cooking" and selling. It's like outsourcing your production the bad way, keeping the benefit of higher profit margins. Higher margins lead to more competition, thus guns, thus violence among organizations (this is the current scenario in cities like Rio where drug organizations fight for territory dominance[1]). On the bright side, anyone interested in consuming drugs would be spared of this fight. They would be the same people who ever bought drugs, but now with the benefit of new regulations, treatment and care from the government.

[1] This video shows a battle between two drug organizations in Rio that mobilized around 100 members coming from different slums. You can see a great deal of collateral damage in the local population, and this is what my point is all about. Watch from 1:00 onwards (sorry, Portuguese language all the way). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etu6YWC-rT4 Criminals were even able to shot down a police helicopter killing two officers. Drug war at its finest.

mlyang 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like politicians are to their constituents what parents are like to teenage kids with respect to substance use advice/"laws." Parents of teenagers ban their kids from substances even though they themselves definitely did them when they were younger. The hypocrisy is kind of funny to me-- it's like there are two different worlds going on (one public facing, one the reality) that everyone just plays along with for reputation's sake even though we all know we're kidding ourselves -- it's ridiculous that this social play we put on actually seriously affects the lives of those touched by the global drug trade.
knodi 10 hours ago 0 replies      
No one in the government cares because this only effects poor people and they don't have the money to make a difference.

If Obama wanted to make a real change he would have stopped the war on drugs already.

duncan_bayne 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of a scene from The Assignment, where two characters are arguing at an official function:

- How about "fuck you, pal"?

- I'd believe it, if it was louder.

In other news, I'm a bit sick of public figures coming out against the War on Drugs after their careers are functionally over.

willvarfar 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Slight tangent but I've been reflecting recently on how many people seek out things they know are dangerous to them for the thrill of it. Its an interesting trait.
Roboprog 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Prohibition was great ... for Al Capone.

Cue Homer Simpson sound bite: "I haven't learned a thing"

jmerton 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's an analogy some may find crazy: I've been collecting data that classifies sugar (cane / corn / etc.) as a drug, rather than a food. Considering that type 2 diabetes is a self induced illness caused by sugar abuse, should we imprison sugar addicts? I know, I know, that may be a bit of a stretch for some persons. Still, think about it.
xacaxulu 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Drug usage is a medical problem. Without medical care, it becomes or has the potential to become a criminal problem. In the USA drug usage and mental illness are generally lumped into the criminal category, sending sick and/or mentally ill people into a the criminal justice system without any chance of treatment or remission.
hcarvalhoalves 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This legalization talk is flawed.

Alcohol is legal, and that doesn't stop people, specially teenagers, from abusing it. It's also proven tobacco addiction starts during adolescence. In this case, legalization is just removing responsibility from the people who profit from it, since in practice the law isn't protecting who it's supposed to protect. Just because something is legal doesn't make it ethical.

Then, we know legalizing certain drugs will only move traffic to worse drugs. Legalize marijuana and dealers will move more crack, just like the mafia moved from alcohol to cocaine after they lifted the prohibition in the US. Now what, the government will legalize crack too? Make even more unethical businesses operate under the law, knowing these products will be abused by teenagers just like alcohol and tobacco today?

There's no easy solution, and no one is addressing the real issue: that substance abuse is cultural and heavily promoted. You talk to young people, and their concept of having a good time is "getting wasted". Dysfunctional families and poverty only worsen the issue.

tlongren 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Easy to say, but it'll never happen, especially in the US (at least not in my lifetime, hopefully my daughters). Too many jobs would be unnecessary if the "war on drugs" was over.
tiagobraw 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The article is co-written by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil.

I didn't like him when he was the president, but I do like very much his approach to legalize/decriminalize drugs... Kudos for them!

api 9 hours ago 0 replies      
At this point I think a big reason prohibition is kept alive is to save face. To end it, they'd have to admit they were wrong.
grault 12 hours ago 4 replies      
My idea would be: make them legal, tax them high (or make them accessible only after certain educational exams), from that money educate people, help them recovering. Teach them basic game theory and the term what trap is, what is it like to be the frog in the boiling water, etc.

I'm confident I missed many aspects here, although really interested in: What are the problems with this model?

volune 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm tired of these cowards coming out against the war on drugs after they no longer hold a position of power to do anything about it.
jdimov 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, the "mighty" USA is utterly incapable of functioning economically without wars, so this will never happen.
arca_vorago 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The real issue that needs to be discussed, but no one wants to, is how one particular three letter uses drugs as a source of black ops funding, so that it is beyond congressional oversight. Of course, congress is so compromised they are much less afraid of oversight these days, but until people understand that the drug war is about money more than just in regards to asset forfeiture and other LEA uses, and the very top structures in government benefit from it.
Eleutheria 12 hours ago 1 reply      
While we're at it, end the war on terror, war on poverty, war on sex, war on religion.

But above all, end the war on liberty.

dreamdu5t 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Kofi Annan does not have any prerogative to tell me or others what to do with their own bodies. Fuck the UN and Kofi Annan.
Swedish cinemas take aim at gender bias with Bechdel test rating theguardian.com
19 points by tomcrisp  2 hours ago   18 comments top 6
Jun8 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Swedes evidently think "too much of a good thing can be wonderful": they have had a Minister of Gender Equality since the 50's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_for_Gender_Equality_(S...) and there are efforts to introduce a gender-neutral pronoun (http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_s..., although this has been tried in English, too). In the Global Gender Gap Report 2012, Sweden is named as a world leader in gender equality (http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2012), etc. etc. I mean, the country even has an official gender equality webpage in English (http://sweden.se/society/gender-equality-in-sweden/). It seems they can't go any further. And then this.

Even Jezebel (http://jezebel.com/sweden-introduces-new-movie-rating-system...) has to admit the "test" is not perfect:

"Sure, the Bechdel test is imperfect (Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker doesn't pass, for instance, but you could hardly argue that a female-helmed war movie doesn't empower at least one woman), but that doesn't make it useless as a starting line for sniffing out broad trends in gender bias. And that's what we're talking about here. Trends. Analysis. Examination. Critical thought. Information. I'm sure there are plenty of people who consider themselves scrupulously egalitarian who never even noticed that there are only like THREE WOMEN IN ALL OF MIDDLE EARTH."

I understand that this is just a thing introduced by a a few movie theaters, i.e. it's not the law or anything (yet). Yet, that's what riles me most: as librarians are the first to defend any censorship, movie professionals should push back on any arbitrary limitation on what can be shown. Some examples of movies that fail the test are given, e.g. LOTHR Trilogy, Pulp Fiction, Pacific Rim, etc. However, the test would also exclude many art films such as Tarkovski's Stalker and Solaris. How about movies with only a single female lead that don't quite fit the purpose of the test, e.g. Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly? How to handle movies with no dialog, or experimental movies such as Eraserhead? One can easily see that this sort of simplistic testing can have little artistic or practical merit.

tzs 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Much of mainstream hard core porn passes that test.
biff 34 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is a strange blind spot for film to have, especially with regard to genres like science fiction or fantasy where the art is limited only by the creator's imagination and conventional boundaries are expected to be tested.

Maybe Hollywood's worried that target audiences won't identify with a female lead, maybe the formula's considered too risky for a blockbuster. But surely there's an alternate universe somewhere with aliens or magic where (hold on to your hats) a matriarchal society somehow evolved and manages to be part of the fabric of the story without characters constantly drawing attention to it, comparing it to Earth, having it set up a battle of the sexes, etc.

stolio 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
Having seen both the Swedish and American versions of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I have to say Sweden is a bit ahead when it comes to gender representation, so they're doing something right somewhere.

On the other hand, Harry Potter was written by a self-proclaimed feminist and has a very empowering female in Hermione Granger, if that series fails the Bechdel Test then I'm left wondering how many other false-positives the test throws. Even The Vagina Monologues fails the Bechdel Test (to be fair, because monologues).

kunai 59 minutes ago 2 replies      
This has to be one of the most absurd things I've heard all day. And when you work where I do, you hear a lot of absurd things.

People have often lambasted those who scream and wince whenever an ounce of political correctness shows up in society/media.

Well, to those people: look at your work. Did you want to encourage censorship?

Of course, I'm overblowing this thing way too much. But 5, ten, maybe even 20 years ago, if this kind of thing happened, people would revolt. For some reason, censorship in the name of equality seems to be the norm in today's world.

Harrison Bergeron, indeed.

Hoozt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A population so small, making so much noise... :)
Swiss forensic report on Arafat's death aljazeera.com
134 points by jdmitch  10 hours ago   102 comments top 13
ISL 9 hours ago 0 replies      
An impressive read; that's a tough job to take on. No matter the quality of the researcher's work, someone, somewhere, is going to be inflamed by the conclusion.

It's also a super fun job to take on. Nuclear measurements can be very perceptive. Everyone I know in the business loves to have meaningful applications in the wider world. Our lab was a fun place to be immediately following Fukushima [1] (and Chernobyl, too, but that's before my time as a physicist).

On the scale of technical reports, it's well-written, and intended to be read by semi-technical readers. The analysis covers a lot of ground on sources of uncertainty. They do a reasonable job handling uncertainties on the things I know about, and my only remaining concerns extend beyond my expertise.

It's a worthy read; check it out!

(as a bonus, in the appendices, you get to see photos of everything in the travel bag.)

[1] http://www.npl.washington.edu/monitoring/node/1

Mikeb85 10 hours ago 11 replies      
Of course Yasser Arafat was killed. I don't think anyone sane ever thought otherwise considering the circumstances... Same goes for Slobodan Milosevic... There likely are others, but they don't come to mind at the moment.

Love the anonymous downvote for saying something unpopular politically, but more than likely factually correct.

Dangerous political prisoners/personalities dying in mysterious circumstances at opportune times is not coincidence. The US reign death from above via remote controlled drones and this isn't contested, yet thinking that very suspicious deaths at expedient times are likely assassinations is some crazy conspiracy theory...

dmix 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The choice of poison is suspicious:

"Notably, the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian dissident, in 2006 was announced as due to Polonium poisoning."

"According to the book The Bomb in the Basement, several deaths in Israel during 19571969 were caused by Polonium."


nnq 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Why would anyone use Polonium 210 as a poisoning agent?

...I don't know that much about poisons, but I bet the people in this lob have whole arsenal of "stealth" poisons that could much more easily go unnoticed. And if you want to make it obvious, why not go for something even more obvious or simply a bullet?

It seems more like an "artist's signature" thing and it would be interesting to know who this "artist" is!

dodyg 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Yasser Arafat was a known quantity both to the US and the Israeli for at least 30 years. There was little incentive to kill him at this stage of his life (unlike in 1982) - and I doubt it brought any significant tactical benefits to do so.

I would bet that the poisoning was ordered by someone within the factions of Palestinian struggles.

gadders 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm not convinced he was assassinated, but I won't shed any tears if he was. He was an evil terrorist with blood on his hands who also managed to rip off his own people to the tune of more than a billion dollars. Good riddance.
jdmitch 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that on p. 59 they discuss the theory that the Po-210 was because of smoking, as smokers have twice as much. Conclusion: smoking still wouldn't account for the total amount in some samples, and he wasn't a smoker anyways.
ucha 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There is no motive to the use of Polonium 210.

It was used on Alexander Litvinenko because the Russians wanted to show that they were able and willing to take the life of former agents that attacked their interests.

What motivates the use of a radioactive element that very few possess?

auctiontheory 8 hours ago 0 replies      
What's remarkable about Arafat's death is that it came as late in his life (75!) as it did.

Fun fact: I went to school in a building which later became the PLO Embassy.

MichaelMoser123 3 hours ago 0 replies      
And in Russia they did a parallel investigation that shows no polonium. So as usual, every side of the conflict can pick its own narrative.


QuasiAlon 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's is what I know and hold to be true from following the story over the years:

Quite a few high ranking sources in Israel insinuated he died of AIDS. He contracted the disease in the '80s. He was a homosexual and the Israeli intelligence is rumored to have videotaped proof.

Israel had no reason to poison him. After the Karine A affair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karine_A_Affair Arafat's reputation was tarnished beyond repair with Western leaders. In later 2004 the intifada was mostly mitigated already. He was no longer a threat politically or militarily. Israel knew he was dying anyway and if you go back and read news reports you can see that over years he received quite a few treatments overseas for cover up diseases.

badwetter 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Considering that this material is supposed to degrade quickly - to find the amount they did after so long in the ground is incredible sleuth work.
throwmeaway2525 8 hours ago 0 replies      
So strange--I went to see what, if anything, Grard de Villiers had written about the situation, and noticed he just died.

That always happens. I'll try not to think of anyone here.

The Bitcoin Bubble techcrunch.com
21 points by ssclafani  3 hours ago   24 comments top 13
diogenescynic 2 hours ago 2 replies      
>This suggests that 78% of bitcoins are being hoarded, waiting for prices to rise. Even when controlling extremely cautiously for the possibility of users who lost their bitcoins and other contingencies, they find that at least 51% of bitcoins have never been spent. http://blog.priceonomics.com/post/47135650437/are-bitcoins-t...

Reminds me of comic books and baseball cards in the 90s.

crystaln 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The number of transactions is a poor measure of the popularity of and demand for bitcoin.

Both transactions excluding popular services that post very high volumes of low value transactions, and USD value of all transactions, are much closer to reflecting the recent rise of bitcoin.



Artifex 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This doesn't make much sense. Year over year, transaction volume is increasing.

Moreover, price is a function of demand. While there may be fewer transactions over the short term, those transactions may be larger in and of themselves. For instance, in April, there may have been more people purchasing single coins, but in November, there may be fewer people purchasing hundreds of coins.

Two charts do not tell the complete story.

gwern 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> Whats going on? We cant be sure, but I think that the shuttering of Silk Road has led to a meaningful decline in Bitcoin transactions.

We can especially not be sure when we look at the graph of transactions per day and see nothing special on October 2nd... Good job reading patterns into noise there.

GraffitiTim 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a chart of the number of transactions excluding the 100 most popular addresses, which seem to be mostly the gambling service SatoshiDice [1]:


So could it be that SatoshiDice transactions have dropped a lot (flattening the overall graph) but other transactions have been increasing?

[1] https://blockchain.info/popular-addresses

geuis 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a hypothesis that the increase in price since mid-October is tied to the spread of the CryptoLocker virus.

For those that don't know, this is a nasty little piece of work that encrypts your entire drive and any connected drives it can find, then gives you a warning that you have to pay $300 in bitcoin within 3 days or your data is deleted.

I just had this thought a couple hours ago but I'm not able to find any significant, verifiable data on how widespread CryptoLocker is. Hence, a hypothesis.

ilaksh 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not an expert on finance or anything, but when I look at the bitcoin price charts I see an earthquake. So I have to assume that a significant percentage of people are looking at that and thinking the same thing: I should just wait until it spikes down again, buy a little, and it will probably jump up later and I will make hundreds or thousands of dollars.

I know that its supposed to be an alternative form of currency and all and not just there for speculation or whatever, but realistically, I think there must be a lot of people just speculating.

Anyway in that case I don't care if it is a bubble, I just want it to go up one more time after I buy it.

But the idea is really supposed to be using bitcoin instead of dollars for normal transactions right?

adamb_ 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
What do you think a bitcoin will be worth in 10 years? If it doesn't die (read: get killed), it'll likely stop being a novelty and actually have practical use (currently I have to go out of my way to find a good/service that accepts bitcoins.) Mix that in with a generation of grown "digital natives" and suddenly 100's of millions of average people are now likely to use bitcoins.

As we know, there's a max of 21 million bitcoins (which we won't hit for years) - spread that across ~500 million users, and I think we'll see the value of a single bitcoin be 10x-100x higher than what it currently is.

It'll be a bumpy ride to get to that value, and I think this is the very beginning of it.

Aqueous 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It isn't a bubble - BitCoin is just an inherently unstable, deflationary financial instrument.

This is why newer coins that actually correct for hoarding - like PPCoin - will start to see some traction because they will be more stable, since they encourage spending, encourage transaction volume. There will be less of a risk of the decoupling of the bitcoin economy and the bitcoin value.

pedalpete 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What confuses me about bitcoin, and this current surge, is the lack of liquidity. I don't understand how this might affect the value of bitcoins, but as an example, if I were to purchase say $10k in bitcoins and later want to transfer those bitcoins into another currency, I would have to sell my bitcoins in a bunch of small transactions, assuming I can find a buyer wanting to give me Australian dollars for my bitcoins. Of course, this is a problem with all currencies, but we can almost always buy foreign currency from banks, who have the funds to make the exchanges. I just think this 'dealing with a bunch of middlemen' results in bitcoin being more susceptible to bubbles and crashes.

Can somebody set me straight on this?

mikeland86 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Volume might be lower in BTC, but it's going up in pretty much any other currency, and since prices are mostly pegged to non-BTC currency, it makes sense that BTC transaction volume drops as the currency appreciates (you can buy goods using less BTC).

Also, while big % changes makes people shout bubble, they clearly are not looking at BTC in the same way early adopters and speculators are. BTC is not stock (which can look like a bubble if its up 100% in short period of time) it is closer to a newer better version of gold that only 0.00001% of the population owns. People excited about BTC are thinking about what happens if 1% of the population owned BTCs.

Bitcoin might fail (sometimes better technologies do), but it is clearly a big improvement over current currencies and that's pretty exciting.

skylan_q 2 hours ago 0 replies      
But if use is in decline, its value should follow. To see its value rise as its use declines is simply odd.

This is a decrease in the velocity of money, not necessarily a decrease in its demand. Sometimes and increase in the demand for money can cause a drop in velocity. It's one of the justifications for constant inflation (to keep us out of a deflationary spiral where people would rather starve to death than spend $0.01 on a year's worth of foodstuffs)

rasengan 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Not a bubble. Come to the CN forums.
Ways That Startup Lawyers Overcharge medium.com
113 points by audreymelnik  10 hours ago   56 comments top 25
grellas 7 hours ago 1 reply      
If your startup lawyer deals straight with you, gives you honest estimates, bills for time actually spent, uses good judgment in managing the legal time spent on your matter, avoids duplicative billing, is willing to deal fairly with situations when you question a billing item and have reasonable reasons for doing so, and, of course, does the job right and is a good lawyer to work with, then be thankful and do not quibble around the edges about things such .1 billing increments, small expense items advanced and expected to be reimbursed, and the like.

Remember that lawyers are in business too and want to devote their efforts where they will be most rewarded and appreciated. While that certainly doesn't mean cheating a client, it does mean dealing with clients who see the lawyer as a trusted ally and not as an adversary and who will not be nibbling at the ankles with every step a lawyer takes.

In dealing with any lawyer, watch out for padded bills that have vague descriptions of what was done, beware getting billed for substantial amounts of lawyer learning time, scrutinize all cases where double billing might be involved, make sure billing rates match your needs as a company (big firm vs. small firm), try always to get estimates in advance, negotiate fixed fees or caps where appropriate, get timely bills sent to you, review the bills carefully, and question billing items that don't look right. As concerns lawyer billing, those are the big items. If you pay attention to those, you will maximize your chances of getting good value from the firm and minimize the risk of abuses. Beyond that, you normally can ignore the small or trivial points. Remember that it is a professional relationship and mutual trust should be the order of the day. If it is not, then maybe it should not be maintained as a continuing relationship.

rayiner 9 hours ago 3 replies      
This is generally good advice, but I'd like to discuss #6 (double billing during travel) and #9 (overbilling on assignments). Both are highly unethical practices. I can't imagine that they're all that common, if only because in this day and age of electronic billing and sophisticated clients, it's so easy to get caught doing something like that.

As for #4 and #7, as a client you can probably get concessions given that it's a buyer's market for legal services right now.[1] But generally, I think those practices are legit. The cost of training is baked into the price of every product you buy, and legal services is no different. With regards to #7 specifically, that tends to be a situation where the junior lawyer who doesn't say anything on the call will be the one doing whatever work comes out of the call. It will cost you more money in the long run if he or she isn't on the call and has to get a download after the fact.

A better approach is to communicate via e-mail when possible and communicate directly with the associate doing your work unless the partner needs to be involved. This is kind of related to #2 and #10. Where I used to work, mid-level and senior associates would handle the day-to-day communications with the client for securities offerings or credit agreements worth tens of millions of dollars. If you retain a large firm where an associate will be doing most of the work on your matters, then find a team where the partner in charge is good at delegating the day-to-day stuff so you don't have to incur his higher rates for that sort of thing. Alternatively, depending on your needs, you might find a small outfit or even a solo practitioner who will be doing most of the work on your matter himself or herself, and doesn't need to deal with the inherent overhead of delegation.

[1] Given that, it might just be easier to skip the nitpicking and ask for a 10% discount on the final bill.

PS: What do people here thing about fixed fee arrangements? I'm not sure how they should be structured for a startup, but that would avoid a lot of the silliness inherent in billing. At the end of the day, there is a price to legal services based on supply and demand. Whether you charge for law students or raise the top line fee or give an across-the-board discount is ultimately cosmetic.

andrewfong 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Having been both a founder and now a start-up lawyer at a large firm, I'd toss in a few extra tips:

(1) If you're unhappy with your bill, PUSH BACK ON IT. Even if you like the partner that you're working with, a substantial portion of your bill will be generated by paralegals and associates like me. And, as an associate, my marching orders are to account for every last minute of my day, even if I think it was an unreasonable thing to bill for. In theory, the partner is supposed to see these items before they go out and make a judgment call on whether to write it off, but more often than not, the partner will eyeball the total amount without looking too closely at the details.

Case in point: When I was a founder, a paralegal at a well-known law firm made a mistake with our cap table and left off a single share. We ended up getting billed $300 to find that single share. When we changed firms a year later, we mentioned this to the partner, who was surprised and had no idea this had happened (despite ostensibly signing off on the bill).

(2) Check in with your lawyer regularly -- doesn't have to be a phone call. A quick e-mail will do. Bills often come in monthly intervals, and fees can rack up pretty quickly in that time. As a lawyer, I'll often start work on a new matter only to find out that my work is no longer required after several weeks have passed and I've already billed the item. Regular check-ins can help avoid this. In addition, it'll be easier to draw connections between vague descriptions on your bill ("Attend to cap table") and what actually happened ("find missing share that paralegal left out"). As a side benefit, regular check-ins result in faster turn around, especially if there are multiple matters competing for your layer's attention.

(3) Second opinions can be free. If you're unsure about the advice your getting from a lawyer, ask a lawyer at another firm. Those other lawyers will view this as a chance to poach a client and will write their time off as business development. As a side benefit, those lawyers may point out mistakes that your current law firm didn't catch or is reluctant to admit to.

smalter 10 hours ago 3 replies      
It's good to know how lawyers overcharge, but it's better to find a trusted lawyer who you don't have to worry about.

We work with Yokum Taku and Jesse Chew at Wilson Sonsini, and they've been awesome.

Because I'm a former lawyer, I started out our relationship by scrutinizing every bill.

I stopped when I realized that we were getting an amazing deal. We have only paid 1 legal bill in 2 years and we haven't been bugged at all about it. Our legal bill is being subsidized by your Airbnbs and the like. That's the luxury of working with a great startup lawyer that works with top startups.

7Figures2Commas 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I won't say that this post is devoid of useful information, although there are some questionable claims (such as the notion that an attorney is double billing for travel-related work). More importantly, however, I think it misses a more fundamental mistake that startups make: they don't know how to choose a lawyer.

If you're working with a firm that has summer associates (referred to as "law students" in the post), and they are being billed out at $200/hour, you are almost certainly working with a large, full-service law firm. And large, full-service law firms are expensive.

Working with a large, full-service law firm is overkill for the vast majority of early-stage startups. Even when it comes to securities-related work, you can find reasonably-priced experienced, competent practitioners with BigLaw backgrounds who work solo or at smaller firms.

tkiley 10 hours ago 2 replies      
If I were still an IT consultant and a client raised even half these issues with me, I would probably terminate my relationship with that client, because I don't want to be nickel-and-dimed.

If I would find this sort of pushback so irritating as an IT consultant, I presume a legal consultant would find it just as irritating. Why would you want to annoy an important consultant in this way?

larrys 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"Theres a clause in your agreement that talks about incurring expenses in connection with your representation and they can bill you for these up to a certain amount without prior approval.Tell them you require them to get your approval before incurring such expenses. And list out the expenses you will not pay for. Its likely they will have a clause detailing the types of third party expenses they can incur on your behalf. Push back on this list and exclude items like mileage, travel, food, phone charges, copying and research expenses such as Lexis-Nexis, storage and data management services."

Ridiculous. As a business person that has dealt with lawyers, consultants, accountants (in the bricks and mortar world, not the startup lottery) as well as has clients that I do work for (so I've been on the other side) I would totally steer clear of anyone that comes out saying things like this. Unless I was desperate.

It's just not the way to have a professional relationship which involves trust.

Get approval on every expense? Even minor ones? Not going to reimburse for something unless on a white list? Get serious.

This strikes me as penny wise and pound (and time) foolish. The major cost is the hourly rate and whether you are being billed honestly for that (or not). And that is something you have no control over unless you are watching them all the time.

To expect that it matters that you will not approve a minor charge when the attorney can easily jack up his billing on the major charge is a waste of time.

Better to question the bills after the fact and if you feel that you shouldn't have to pay for the lunch bill that your attorney had when meeting with someone on your behalf while leaving a large tip by all means bring up the issue.

But just like with employees a certain amount of leeway is often necessary.

acjohnson55 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I had a good experience with Scott Walker and Ki Ingersoll at Walker Corporate Law. Granted, I have no basis for comparison, so I could very well have overpaid. But for the fixed-rate company conversion they did, their guaranteed rate was in line with the estimates I got elsewhere. I felt like they were quite helpful and attentive, and there were no surprises. What I could not afford was uncertainty in results or budget. By that standard, they delivered.
larrys 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"So lets say a lawyers fee is $600 per hour (which is $10 per minute). He speaks to you on the phone for 2 minutes. That just cost you $60. Not $20. Thats a $40 rounding charge. Wow. Another way to think of it is a 200% markup."

So what we have is that the base cost of a phone call with your lawyer is always going to be $60. I don't have a problem with that other than obviously it would be nice if the cost were zero.

As far as $60? A conversation of 2 minutes and a conversation for 10 minutes is still interuptive and takes your attention from whatever you are doing. As anyone who has been in a zone doing work will attest to.

lukev 10 hours ago 3 replies      
A lot of these strike me as not only sneaky, but unethical and possibly even illegal. For example, as a software consultant I would feel I were committing fraud were I to bill two clients for the same hour of time.

Is there a different consensus around the definition of "billable time" in the legal world that makes this not as bad as it sounds?

audreymelnik 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks everyone for your comments. My main point in raising these points was to start a dialog about what is and is not acceptable to charge for and to raise awareness of these items for startups looking to take on a lawyer and I think I've definitely done that! Many (but not all) of the points I raised in this post were sourced from an analysis that my friend performed of a startup's legal bills from two separate silicon valley law firms.
001sky 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Although I wouldn't over-think this, if you've never dealt with counsel before this article is worth a couple of minutes to skim through. Just one example is probaly enough to highlight, but it is a classic: Resource double-up.

"Youll have a conference call scheduled and theyll invite additional attorneys to sit in. And theyll charge you for it, even though they may not say a word during the meeting.Add a clause to your contract that says, We agree not to bill you for any more than one attorney on any conference call with you.

danray 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Half of these are unethical (i.e., they violate actual, binding rules of professional ethics with actual consequences).

The other half should be spelled out in the engagement letter. If you don't like it, tell your lawyer -- we really will negotiate on these issues.

sarreph 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Could anyone explain to me what the author may be alluding to as a 'regular lawyer' as opposed to 'your lawyer'?

"If you use your lawyer, youll get charged way more than if you used a regular lawyer"

lr 8 hours ago 1 reply      
All of these are great to watch out for. However, the "Value Billing" one seems a little like, oh, let's see... Software! Programmers do value billing all the time. We write one piece of software and charge n number of customers for it. So, if programmers can do it, so can lawyers.
hudibras 3 hours ago 0 replies      
At what point does it become more cost-effective to hire your own counsel?
diziet 5 hours ago 0 replies      
You can also use services that provide lawyering a-la-carte : https://www.upcounsel.com/ or things like https://www.clerky.com .
stretchwithme 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I had mine arguing some obscure issue in some convoluted way just to get past the 20 minute mark so he could bill for another 10 minutes. And then they bill you $35 for sending you automatic reminders about important dates you're already reminding yourself about.
kylered 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously, if you have a lawyer that needs to scam you out of your cash, then you have the wrong lawyer. Go hire a professional. Good lawyers are really busy and don't need to lie to you to make money.
papasmrf 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As a lawyer, I'll first say that it is always okay to haggle a little bit about the billing arrangement. I would expect an entrepreneur to want to negotiate.

Two, some of these practices described would raise eyebrows with state ethics committees. Double billing travel time, rounding up your billable hours, it all amounts to padding your bills. Lawyers have been disbarred for such practices, and this typically happens when people start wondering how they can be billed greater than 24 hours per day by the same attorney.

Lastly, if you are a start up, you have no business going to an attorney that is going to charge you $600.00 per hour. A rate that high should be reserved for some specialties, like perhaps patent litigation. If you are paying an attorney $600.00 to incorporate for you, you probably will not be in business for long.

Riseed 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're trying to be penny wise about legitimate third-party expenses like mileage and legal research, why pay $49 fee to a third party (in addition to state fees) to change your companys name? You could have saved that third-party fee if you'd done it yourself through the Secretary of State's website.

As an additional tip, you may be able to save some money by doing some of the legal research yourself. Google works surprisingly well for some things, as does the local public library, which may have a subscription to Lexis Nexis or Westlaw. Facebook is a great resource for family law issues. There are also free law-specific resources like nolo.com (e.g. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/small-business) or avvo.com.

cykho 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The most atrocious overcharges we've experienced have been around equity asks. For some reason firms think it's good practice to ask for a sizable chunk as an interest payment for their incorporation fee (which they expect to be paid anyways). Even if a company is worth $1m (founders time for 4 years) half a point (standard ask) is $5k. If incorporation costs $10k (mid-range) that's 50%+ interest! Not to mention there is some risk mixing the roles of counsel (representing the company) and owner (a minority shareholders) I think this has spilled out from WSGR and hope it stops soon.
adamzerner 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It really seems like the law industry does this type of stuff all the time, which is bs.

The law industry is a service business. You pay them for their services. The service you get is much less than what you pay for. This mismatch = an opportunity to do better and make a lot of money.

nirmel 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I would love feedback on my startup, Lawdingo.com (YC W13), as I believe it addresses many of these issues. We get independent lawyers to be transparent about their prices, we solicit community reviews, and we make lawyers available instantly. I'd humbly recommend people try it out for their startup legal needs. It's free.
paul_f 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatever you do, never use the attorney recommended by your investors.
Blockbuster to close remaining 300 U.S. stores [video] chicagotribune.com
34 points by bdcravens  5 hours ago   20 comments top 8
MilesTeg 1 minute ago 0 replies      
This is good news if you want to be able to purchase movies on the cheap. When a Blockbuster closing a few years ago where I lived they sold off all their movies. I think it got down to $2 per Blu-ray movie by the end and I picked up more than I care to say.
blisterpeanuts 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How about a video store that lets you watch videos, ie in-store kiosks? $0.99 to watch pretty much anything in stock. They could offer popcorn and soft drinks (reputedly the biggest profit center at movie theatres). Don't want to finish it right now? Take it home. Have screening rooms for groups of friends to enjoy a film together. It seems to me that an enterprising person could make some money using this hybrid approach. It requires some capital investment up front, and probably some ridiculously expensive licenses to serve drinks etc., but once you're set up it would be a relatively low cost operation.
jccooper 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Seems inevitable, but I do note constant usage at RedBox kiosks, so there's clearly still demand for local (i.e. instant) movie rental. Even with the (significant) additional overhead, I'm kind of surprised that a store's not viable as a local option with much broader selection than RedBox. I guess the long tail of local movie rental isn't thick enough.
smaili 4 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone who grew up with Blockbuster but now have become a hacker, I'm torn between the old fashioned enjoyment of getting out of the house to rent movies, and the efficiency of online services like Netflix and Hulu.
bobbles 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The Blockbuster near me in Sydney just closed down and on the last day had all DVDs on sale for $2. They still had loads of stock left at the end of the day...
mathattack 3 hours ago 0 replies      
At the office, I was going to suggest we all wear our Blockbuster memorial outfits of light blue shirts with khakis. Then I realized nobody knows what that is anymore.
ryanjodonnell 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like a good opportunity for someone to buy the blockbuster brand on the cheap and re-build the company from the ground up as a video streaming platform. Of course there's a lot of competition in that arena but maybe amazon or someone else could utilize the brand?
staunch 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Now theres a bug bounty program for the whole Internet arstechnica.com
45 points by ohjeez  6 hours ago   6 comments top 3
pa5tabear 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Feross should get a retroactive prize for this:


I guess if we're gonna be retroactive, though, there are tons of people who should be named.

DigitalSea 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Genius. Makes you wonder why someone else didn't think of this sooner? If Google gets on board with this endeavour, it'll be a force to be reckoned with. As one commenter on the story points out, why isn't Wordpress on the top of the list? It powers a large chunk of the web and arguably is always being hacked and exploited.
AsymetricCom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So who's going to write bug reports for HTML5? Heh, just kidding. There's no such thing.
A Babys Gaze May Signal Autism, Study Finds well.blogs.nytimes.com
27 points by dcre  4 hours ago   8 comments top 4
capex 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I am the father of an autistic child, and from experience, early intervention makes a hell lot of difference in an autistic child's progression towards social/ sensory issues. This might be a breakthrough study.
thejosh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought this had been known for a while, how the baby interacts with others?
kimonos 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Early detection and adequate knowledge for parents will greatly help in managing an autistic child.
LizVerano 4 hours ago 0 replies      
there is a technology for that, that in early stage it can be detected and this is an advantage for parents so they can find remedy as early as possible.
Firefox Developer Tools: Break on DOM Events, Edit as HTML, Codemirror mozilla.org
109 points by rnyman  12 hours ago   27 comments top 9
nbashaw 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting that they're using Codemirror instead of Ace (http://ace.c9.io), which is their progeny.

It used to be called Bespin: http://blog.mozilla.org/labs/2009/02/introducing-bespin/

Touche 10 hours ago 3 replies      
These additions all look great. I recently was working a bit on an Android app (not an Android developer, was filling in for someone on vacation) and it made me realize how good web developers have it. Part of my normal development process is to edit HTML, make CSS changes, and some times even JS changes at run time and observe the results. With Android anyways the cycle was to edit some XML file, reinstall the application, navigate to where that activity is, observe the changes, scratch head why result wasn't as expected.
deanclatworthy 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Great work Mozilla team. You're seriously making me consider switching back to FF for development. Is this effort to improve the FF dev tools an ongoing effort to quickly add these features, or can we expect the pace to slow down in the coming months?
eli 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Can I write Firefox addons that extend Developer Tools functionality? I had some ideas for extending Firebug for specific use cases, but maybe the official dev tools are a better bet.
purephase 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Excited about some of these changes. I've been debating moving back to FF for my primary dev browser for some time and these look like the changes that will make me do it.

Thanks Mozilla!

nizmow 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The tools get better every update. Came in here to complain that it wasn't obvious / possible to copy URLs from inside the network inspector, but thought I'd check the latest version first... and what do you know, there it is.

I don't even use Chrome at all anymore.

shiloa 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I love firefox and use it daily for my work. The only time I switch to Chrome is when I use console.log(<some object or DOM node>) and get an [Object object] printed out. Sure I can click on it and get a breakdown (still haven't figured out how to close that view other than closing and re-opening the dev tools pane, BTW), but Chrome handles it much better by logging out a detailed, interactive object.

Still, great job to the FF team and keep up the good work!

baltcode 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Sometimes I want to use XQuery in the web console for pages that don't use XQuery. Does anybody know how to dynamically include XQuery on loaded pages to use with the web console?
parthoghosh86 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is nice... Great work mozilla
Internet Archive's S.F. office damaged in fire sfgate.com
70 points by louhong  9 hours ago   17 comments top 7
sillysaurus2 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Let me second this sentiment: YAY!

My stomach dropped when I heard the news. I was so relieved to see that archive.org still loads, and to hear that there was no data loss. It's become a ridiculously irreplaceable tool in my daily workflow.

You found an interesting tutorial/article/paper written in 1995 but it fails to load when you follow the URL? Internet archive that shiz.

An author has edited his webpage, and you're curious what it used to look like? Internet archive that shiz.

Have a PDF link, but it's not loading? Check the archive. More often than not, it will load.

If I remember correctly, I once recovered a ~1MB zip file from there as well. The zip file had disappeared from the normal web, but thankfully archive had snagged it. Maybe it was a PDF though.

It seems impossible for the internet archive to persist forever... But it also seems about as valuable as the Library of Alexandria was in its day. Or rather, future historians will find it as valuable. So I hope we can get triple redundancy for it.

IvyMike 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you've ever considered donating, today would be a good day.


I just did for the first time.

Edit: The site appears to be overloaded, so if you have trouble donating, please try again later.

drtse4 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Didn't knew where the central office was until a few weeks ago, here is a nicely done documentary that shows what's inside the former church that now hosts the internet archive: http://vimeo.com/groups/17441/videos/59207751
_delirium 8 hours ago 1 reply      
More detailed story, with some photos and video: http://richmondsfblog.com/2013/11/06/part-of-internet-archiv...
ToastyMallows 9 hours ago 1 reply      
> The fire is not believed to have caused major disruption to the website. No data were stored at the San Francisco site.


EDIT: Also glad no one was injured.

sp332 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a picture of what's left of the office: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BYZUtBdCUAAW6ey.jpg:large and another https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BYZzCHYCAAA-WGA.jpg:large These are apparently from @hollyquan of KCBS News.

Edit: originally said "building" but it was just one of the offices in the building.

schenecstasy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
They don't have a backup office?
USPS: ZIP Codes are proprietary business information weblaws.org
164 points by joelgrus  6 hours ago   124 comments top 32
spodek 6 hours ago 4 replies      
The issue here is that their quote is in government-speak that not everyone can understand. Translated into plain English:

"proprietary business information" means "this nation's copyright and patent systems are horribly and possibly irrevocably broken and many government departments are so unaccountable they feel so entitled and lawless they care more about making their jobs easy than serving the people paying their salaries."

When you read it that way everything makes sense.

EDIT: many posts on whether the USPS is government or not. I hope we don't lose sight of the forest of bureaucracies large and entrenched enough to skirt accountability and twist IP laws in ways the Constitution never intended while focusing on that tree. That is, the details of its connection to the government don't change its behavior.

hncommenter13 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is what the USPS says, but it might not be the final answer. If the requester is in the 9th Circuit (one of AK, AZ, CA, GU, HI, ID, MP, MT, NV, OR, WA) and especially if the requester is in the Northern District of California (SF Bay Area), there are court cases that may be relevant.

Doug Carlson[1] requested basic data about post offices and post office boxes (location, hours, etc.), and the USPS claimed the information was commercial and therefore exempt from FOIA.

In at least the case of the post offices, it went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in his favor [2], meaning that the law in the Ninth Circuit may not be on the USPS's side. (In the case of disclosing the locations of mailboxes, the USPS claimed a FOIA exemption based on the potential for using knowledge of mailbox locations to distribute chemical and biological agents, but it lost to Carlson in the Northern District of California [3]).

I would encourage the requester to take the next step in a denied FOIA request and file a timely appeal with the USPS general counsel [4]. I'm not a lawyer, but you could probably find one who could write a convincing letter based on the current caselaw in the 9th circuit. Or try Doug Carlson himself, as his contact details are part of the public record [5].

[1] http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/PROFILE-Doug-Carlson-S...

[2] http://www.leagle.com/decision/20071627504F3d1123_11592

[3] Carlson v. USPS, No. C-02-05471, 2005 WL 756573, at *6-7 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 31, 2005) (concluding that disclosure of data pertaining to mailbox locations would not risk use of postal system to distribute biological or chemical agents because agency failed to demonstrate that such data actually could be used to determine mail collection routes). Found on p.206-207 of http://www.justice.gov/oip/foia_guide09/exemption2.pdf.

[4] http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/foia/faq.htm#H10

[5] http://prc.gov/prc-pages/library/dockets.aspx?activeview=Sum...

kennywinker 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Canada Post is currently trying to assert a similar ownership over our postal codes. See http://geocoder.ca/?sued=1 or http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/canada-post-sues-over-post... for more details.

Really messed up. Geocoder.ca crowd-sourced a database of Postal Code -> lat/long information, and have been giving it away for years. Even some government organizations use their data, and yet our postal service is trying to shut them down to drive customers towards their $5,000/year + many strings attached product.

saalweachter 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I'd personally be a little happier if people besides the post office stopped using ZIP codes.

Basically, ZIP codes are not maps. ZIP codes are (collections of) delivery routes. You can then reverse engineer a map more-or-less from the collections of addresses in a ZIP code, but it's messy and not necessarily meaningful.

If post offices were as plentiful as they are in (say) Manhattan, ZIP codes are a good proxy for location. If you live outside a major city, not so much. My parents live about 15 miles from the post office from which their ZIP code derives; my house used to be about a half mile from its post office, but that one was shut down (for mail delivery -- still exists for PO boxes), so now I'm attached to a ZIP code for the post office two towns over.

This matters, because if you do any sort of map-business off of ZIP codes, instead of political boundaries, the results are crap.

So death to ZIP codes.

mikeocool 6 hours ago 1 reply      
http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/geo/shapefiles2013/main - Select ZIP code tabulation areas from the dropdown.

They're not perfect, but they're almost definitely good enough for the author's purposes.

More info on how the Census Bureau creates them: http://www.census.gov/geo/reference/zctas.html (they take a surprisingly circuitous route)

Coincoin 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is weird, I just read a random article [1] about a guy getting sued for publishing some banking public routing numbers. The article writer then jokingly said: "This argument is like the Post Office suing you for posting a list of zip codes."

[1] http://www.popehat.com/2013/11/05/fine-those-routing-numbers...

hackula1 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Zip codes make my life hell on a daily basis. The problem is essentially that the USPS does not design topological zipcode polygons. All they do is maintain a set of centroids, plus an assignment to a set of lines representing street segments (which they charge for).

This would be fine, if it was not for the fact that pretty much everyone who wants to use zip codes needs them in a topologically valid polygon format. This is a problem because roads change all the time, and this makes zip codes terribly unstable. Also, there are many zip codes that are really just points (a bit of an oversimplification, but military bases, prisons, schools, etc. often cause huge problems).

Census tracts are much more stable (topologically valid and only change every 10 years). Unfortunately, most people don't know which census tract they live in, so zips prevail. I have built several geocoding algorithms, and it always comes down to the data being the big PITA. What ends up happening, unfortunately, is that private companies pick up the slack and create topological zip codes (with high price tags).

Double unfortunately, every company has a different methodology in creating these polygons, costing everyone who uses them big money, on top of the licensing fees. The USPS could easily produce a standard set of polygons for an extra couple grand a year in labor and save the industry millions. I cannot get into much detail, but I know this issue quite intimately.

Finster 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So the government can C&D anyone who uses their proprietary business information (like UPS or Fedex) without paying royalties? Sounds great! Another victory for the proletariat!


nly 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Similar issues plagued the UK postal code databases. So much so that Wikileaks eventually leaked the database


I'm not sure if things have improved since, but it's probably not going to get better now that Royal Mail is 48% private.

DjangoReinhardt 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Wait, USPS is a privately owned entity? If not, aren't products of government entities public by default? Therefore, any proprietary information is owned by the public, isn't it?

Or did I completely misunderstand the whole thing?

Intermernet 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of when developers were trying to create public transport related apps for Australia (about 4 years ago) and were told that using the timetable information would be copyright infringement [1].

I'm pretty sure it was worked out in the end as apps are now available with that info, but it seemed absolutely ridiculous at the time that public information, for a public service wasn't in the public domain.

[1]: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2009/03/05/1235842537210.html

warmfuzzykitten 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Seems like the author is going out of his way to create controversy. He can't figure out the zip codes in one county in Oregon without help from the post office? I doubt the restaurants that report the zip codes have any official assistance.
awor 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
Canada Post considers Canadian Postal Codes to be copyrighted information as well. A Canadian "geographic data" company (Geolytica Inc.) has been sued for copyright infringement[0].

[0] http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/canada-post-sues-over-post...That link is from April 2012, not sure where the case went after that.

fleitz 3 hours ago 0 replies      
And if you read the full article, there's a solution to the problem from the census bureau....

Of course the author can't use that because it's not updated daily, like FOIA'ing the ZIP codes would get you daily updates anyway...

reductive 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Author thinks he needs the ZIP code database that is "updated daily," but he provides no reason for this and he's not willing to pay for it. Looks like he's the one being unreasonable here; ZIP codes are a solved problem.
biturd 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand that the post is more about the USPS holding onto something seemingly trivial. Kinda like when we tell google to block out certain places of security. But we already have so many ways to get around it, like going there and taking a picture, or renting a plane, who knows. Or the Streisand Effect kicks in and everything is a mess.

At any rate, I have had to do a lot with zip codes in the past, long before anything like an API was a common term let alone something every company was happy to let you hook into and use their services. Heck, this was back when it costs a few grand to take CC's on a website and had to deal with that awful Authorienet API. That used to be thought of as crazy talk. Now we have amazing stuff like this: http://www.geonames.org

hashtree 3 hours ago 0 replies      

  - United States Census Bureau TIGER  - GeoNames data dumps  - You can pay to be sent data files from the USPS (AIS)
Welcome to the wonderful world of public, semi-public, and private datasets. It is an interesting niche, and the ability to find them can give you a competitive advantage (e.g. machine learning datasets).

xradionut 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the OP's pain. But there's an easy solution that many of us that deal with mailings and US addresses use. Go buy a Address Verification/CASS Processing CD from Melissa Data or a similar company. Or pay a small fee for a limited list in your area.
danenania 4 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.geonames.org/ has free geo data that includes zip codes.
tn13 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think USPS has to share that info with anyone. I faced the same problem in past with Indian Zip Codes.

Talk about England and you have much bigger problem. The ownership of Pincodes in England is with the Queen and hence no one can really use it without her permission. :P

jimbobimbo 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder where $3k/yr number came from. This is a price for "Z4Change Product" product which "Provides mailers the information necessary to create an application that would facilitate frequent and cost-effective processing for updating very large computerized mailing lists for automation compatibility and improved deliverability."

Is this so necessary for mapping health inspections data? USPS has more fitting products priced less.

polemic 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Similar in New Zealand, although NZ Post is a "state owned enterprise" rather than a government agency.
biturd 4 hours ago 3 replies      
According to the USPS website, API usage is free here: https://www.usps.com/business/web-tools-apis/list-of-apis.ht...

One of the API's relates to zip codes.

mindo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me a case in Malaysia, were local devs were trying to get fastest public transport traveling problem solved on mobile app, but they couldn't get bus schedules even on the end points of the routes as it is "confidential information". Literally no one except probably bus drivers or daily travelers would know when the bus leaves/arrives, personally I failed to find a single timetable myself, so usually you just stand there for 30-60 minutes waiting for the next bus to arrive. Coming from Lithuania it was big challenge to understand such as mindset and business logic as here you can snap QR code in bus stop and see real time traffic information that actually encourages you to hop on the public transport.

Eventually USPS will have to share all that information or someone will come up with alternative to ZIP code numbering that is constant and public...

mkhalil 3 hours ago 0 replies      
They haven't enforced protecting their "proprietary business information" in the past, so I doubt this can hold up in court.

It other news, I think the USPS should double their rates for stamps. Less spam in my mailbox, and a push for a greener planet.

jack-r-abbit 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Am I missing something here that prevents the use of the Google Maps API for postal code look ups[1]?


maxcan 6 hours ago 0 replies      
have you tried openstreetmaps or just using the google maps API?
sergiotapia 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Someone should just create an open source project, host that on Github and call it a day. This is disgusting.
bennyg 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there no list online for this?
AsymetricCom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, clearly I don't belong here because I don't own my address.
cordite 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I wasn't really aware that zip codes change much..

As far as I am aware, if I put in slightly the wrong zip code (neighboring one) but the right address, I'll still will get the package.

Show HN: I'm working on an open-source Gmail replacement khamidou.github.io
333 points by vorador  22 hours ago   158 comments top 33
darklajid 20 hours ago 8 replies      
I just put the finishing touches on my ansible playbook for my 'Goodbye Google' server (Mail via dovecot/postfix w/ dkim, dspam, greylist, sieve, Radicale for CardDAV, CalDAV, Prosody for xmpp). Works fine so far.

What I'm lacking right now is a decent webmail client. Roundcube isn't exactly my type of thing, mailpile might be interesting. This seems ambitious and interesting in general, but seems to come with too much strings attached (puppet? No, ansible. Comes with postfix? I already have that). So .. it is more than I'd need.

I do like the idea of ready-made, easy mail server setups though (obviously, given the first paragraph). Perhaps a project like this could integrate well into owncloud or arkos though?

tluyben2 21 hours ago 5 replies      
I welcome this as I welcome Mailpile and other efforts like it; I look for another mail solution every few years. Not with the idea of replacing gmail (might/might not do), but to see if anyone did anything useful yet. So far, no. All solutions, even considering the changes to gmail everyone seems to hate (I don't), are nothing compared.

Every time some new frontend/backend comes up, I say the same (and have done on HN before); i'm not a typical user; I had email since '95, I have been a heavy user since then and I took my mail with me since. In 2005 I was looking, like I had been then as well, for a better mail solution and stumbled upon gmail. I wrote an export script for the mail system I was using at the time and imported 10 years of mail into gmail.

I now have over a million mails in my mailbox (i'm not sure what is the total); I have over 50 mail addresses coming to my inbox, I receive 1000s (sometimes 10.000s) of spam messages per day which Google filters well. I guess this is due to the fact I have had/have businesses on those 50 mails since 1995. All clients I tried so far just simply hang when I try them, including outlook (exchange or imap), thunderbird and some free and commercial web versions (yahoo and outlook web/live simply don't work; I cannot even read my mail through the amount of spam and the clients are horrible for productivity imho. Slow as well).

I also need a solid spam solution; spamassassin simply doesn't cut it; not only does it run high processor on my server, it doesn't actually filter stuff like google does. Google almost never goes wrong for me; actually; I have had very few mistakes / missing mails. While with spamassassin, I'll be carefully inspecting 5k mails / day while still getting spam in my inbox.

I think my mailbox is a bit weird now, but it'll be quite normal as it'll be normal for people to have a mailbox since birth and taking it with them till they die. If you run a few businesses along the way, getting to 1 million messages is not hard; spam will find you as well. Media messages are getting common; I make a point of using dropbox/sftp for attachments, but not everyone does that, so I do get videos, huge blah megapixel cameras of birthdays of family etc. This is normal and will only grow; the current mail solutions don't handle it well. If you want to deliver a competitor to gmail, you need to make this work imho and it needs to be a test case.

marijn 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Collaboration or integration with Mailpile [1] might be a useful direction to consider. They are doing interesting work on the backend, but as far as I am aware, there isn't much frontend present yet.

[1]: https://github.com/pagekite/Mailpile

cenhyperion 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Looks like a really good web interface that would be a pleasure to use.

On a personal note, am I the only one that generally prefers a mail client? The ability to combine all my emails (work, gmail, @mydomain, etc) into one unified inbox is why I prefer it.

jagermo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like it - good work, keep it up. It's a good thing that you guys (you, Mailpile, Roundcube) develop alternatives to gmail.

However, for me to switch (like most here, I am a heavy email user), I need a few things:

- PGP encryption

- Contacts

- Calendar

Have you thought about expanding the developer base? Maybe via Kickstarter/Indiegogo? The alpha already looks good, I'm sure a lot of us would like to contribute to the development.

nakedrobot2 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for working on this.

I look forward to the day when it will be easy to set up and configure a mail server at home. By all accounts, it is currently a very painful process that is prone to error and interrupted service.

ozh 18 hours ago 3 replies      
How effective would it be to self host your mail regarding spam?

In gmail I guess that once a few peeps click "Report Spam" on a mail that passed filters, similar mails are also flagged as spam in other accounts. I've always found gmail extremely effective at this, and I practically never flag mail as spam myself.

Sure, there are automated spam filters to configure, but overall wouldn't going alone make things much less efficient on that topic?

keyle 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I do love the attention to detail, with the Nigerian's prince email.

Doing good software is one thing, doing it with a good touch of humor is what makes it stick. +1.

jroseattle 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm looking forward to a day when a prominent model will be cloud-based applications storing data in private repositories.
uses 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think we'll see a lot more of this type of software in the near future.

It's easier and cheaper than ever to automate the setup of servers. Imagine being able to click a few buttons, in something like the webmin of yore, and suddenly having a private mail server/file sync node/document editor application, set up at the VPS provider of your choice.

This type of thing will encourage open standards, as the private servers will need to communicate with each other. It also ties in nicely with concerns about the implications of everything being hosted and controlled by major providers.

There are probably business opportunities at many points in this model.

wuschel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy to see more alternatives to Gmail. I am still using Gmail with the old HTML interface, as the new one is cluttered with all kinds of stuff I do not need. Stay with KISS, when it comes to functionality and interface, with optional integration of PGP. I wanted to quit using google services for long, but it is only now that I get active in that regard (e.g. duckduckgo as search engine). As such, I am searching an alternative for the

1. web based storage of emails 2. a good web interface.

As for 1., I stil have not found anything really interesting that comes for free.

As for 2., I was once using Mutt and found it quite efficient, and am now thinking to try out sup. However, there is still this feeling that there could be a better client when it comes to usability and ease of installation. Using Mutt on Windows can be really annoying.

waterlion 18 hours ago 1 reply      
How much of GMail does this do (or intend to do)? Off the top of my head, GMail does this for me (in this order):

- Email server that I can run for my domain.

- Search a large number of messages on the server

- Spam detection on the server

- Automatic labelling / categorisation on the server for incoming mail

- Address book

- Saving of drafts on the server so I can edit and send on several devices

- A webmail interface

Is this intended to be a GMail replacement or another webmail interface?

rattray 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Quite a minor point of feedback, and not altogether fair, but attempting to obscure your email (~) gives me a bit of a lack of confidence in the spam filters you're using. I have my gmail up in plaintext on my homepage, and don't experience too many problems.

If nothing else, putting your email in plaintext could help you debug your spam prevention?

babuskov 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The main reason I'm using GMail is that it's available everywhere for free - both in money and my time.

However, I like your project and it would be nice to have an alternative if I decide one day that I value my privacy more.

plumeria 21 hours ago 1 reply      
It would be nice it supported PGP out of the box, I think it would be a strong selling point. Kudos for the initiative.
tiatia 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Afterlogic has a free lite version

I like it compared to other scripts like SquirrelMail or Horde.


dinduks 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The Distributed Everything blog post encouraged me to leave most of Google' services due to their closed ecosystem and the violation of privacy. I managed to leave everything (GTalk/Hangouts, Agenda, Contacts, Google+, etc.) except Gmail because of how great and useful filters and labels are. In my opinion, these two points are the reason why Gmail cannot be easily replaced. I thus would encourage working on these futures.

Also, I don't want to sound like a troll, but I wish it was build in a more popular language, such as Java (it's not my favorite) to encourage contributions. Good luck!

Joeboy 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Great, as far as I know Roundcube is the only decent open source webmail thing, and it could do with some competition.
northisup 20 hours ago 0 replies      
check out https://github.com/roundcube/roundcubemail for a mature gmail alternative.
macmac 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Search is mentioned as a keep feature a lot in this thread. Would using elasticsearch be a feasible solution? It certainly scales easily.
aioprisan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos! I think the hardest part will come in trying to maintain and scale this from an interoperability perspective. I used to work at an ISP where 80%+ of the work on the mail product was getting our IPs un-blacklisted and other ISPs from not blocking our traffic anymore, as well as pruning out the bad/bot users.
samspenc 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks great. Just curious: Roundcube didn't cut it for you?
infocollector 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Great Job. Ignore all the other projects that are out there please (If they are not BSD, they are useless for me). This is what I was waiting for. I would recommend developing both mobile / desktop together.
danbmil99 21 hours ago 3 replies      
have you seen/heard about mailpile?
Wingman4l7 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone comment on Spamassassin's efficacy as compared to Google's spam filters?
cpsaltis 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest pain I've experienced with similar web interfaces was mobile. For the desktop there are a few that are decent, but on mobile they generally suck. So do the native email clients for Android and iOS.

Do you plan to stick with a desktop version? Will you always design 'destop first'?

psankar 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Support keyboard shortcuts, at the earliest. It is one of the most heavily used features for heavy email users.
hipsters_unite 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a mailing list to track this project? I can't see any way of monitoring updates on the page.
yurikoval 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be nice to see people get together and finalise a viable alternative. Keep up the good work!Meanwhile, here is another potential solution. https://assemblymade.com/amail
s-topper 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Tried out the demo; it's nice. Keyboard shortcuts and threaded display would be nice to have. Will check out the source for my learning.
rshlo 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I appreciate the hard work. Nevertheless, IMHO it would be better if open source projects will bring original ideas to the market, instead of copying an existing product.
fit2rule 21 hours ago 1 reply      
hajderr 15 hours ago 0 replies      
+1. Would use it.
Understanding the Fourier transform (2011) altdevblogaday.com
23 points by TheMakeA  5 hours ago   1 comment top
j2kun 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I try not to visualize complex functions of complex variables. Four dimensions is just too much.
       cached 7 November 2013 05:02:02 GMT