hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    18 Jan 2014 News
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1
Why we're not afraid of Microsoft? freshdesk.com
41 points by shankarganesh  1 hour ago   12 comments top 8
1
nemesisj 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is there any otherwise-vanilla SaaS out there that generates more controversy than Freshdesk (at least among the HN readership)?

Already on this article (8 comments posted as I write this) we have a FUD comment saying their post is "smug" and their customers should be worried, and then another talking about how you need to "be careful" about criticising the company because their employees victimised the commenter by "down voting them in groups".

Add to this the backdrop of ridiculous comments by Zendesk founder calling them a ripoff, and just the general FUD espoused by almost everyone whenever an Indian tech company is in the picture, and it's a bit sad.

We don't use Freshdesk, although we're considering moving from Zendesk to them due to some missing features, and I'm not Indian, but I really do think it's interesting how this company is just constantly and vaguely looked down upon by people who should know better.

FD seem to be scrappy, they're growing quickly, their product looks good, they give discounts to startups, and they just happen to be based in India - what's not to like?

2
dictum 25 minutes ago 1 reply      
Microsoft didn't have to acquire anything to compete with most SaaS businesses:

They have Excel.

Small businesses have tighter budgets, but often the owner is the person doing certain tasks that in a big corporation would be given to interns. Because they do the work themselves, they're more open to try new software to improve their workflow. They're willing to pay $50 every month to be able to do something in a more efficient or enjoyable way, even though they could pay $500 (a fictional figure) once and buy Office or some established software to manage some aspect of their business, but feel miserable doing it.

However, many small business owners, after researching the competition, decide to do as the big guys are doing, and go with bloated, clunky software in hopes of eventually becoming big too.

That's why, it seems to me, it's relatively easy to run a simple SaaS with 200-500k yearly revenue, but hard to scale it to millions.

* * *

The target audience for this post is probably Freshdesk customers, not me. If I were a Freshdesk customer, I'd me more confident if the reasons listed were a better customer support, better user experience, being likely to stay in business for longer... instead, they went with "the competition is crappy and slow to act".

3
mattmanser 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
Dynamics CRM requires consultants to install, servers to run, etc. etc.

It's bizarre anyone would say something so colossally stupid and be so ignorant of reality to say an add-on to an expensive and complicated CRM system will put standalone offerings out of business unless they were a Dynamics consultant.

Oh, Gene Marks is a Dynamics consultant.

No news here, no news in the original article, it's all just advertising.

4
goldenkey 52 minutes ago 2 replies      
In the face of certain despair, it's humorous that Freshdesk pulls off the "I'm so smug, come join us" pitch. If I was a Freshdesk customer, I'd be a little worried about the political pow-wow being played. It's quite clear that Freshdesk is looking to get acquired by Microsoft. One of the prerequisites is to smacktack the ol' Microsoft 'legacy' and then whistle dixie.
5
CmonDev 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
First sign of being not afraid is creating "I am not afraid" blog posts.
6
mhmbr 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Because we have Google now.
7
mehwoot 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
So brave of them.
8
tosseraccount 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nobody is anymore.
2
Windows 3.1 written in JS/HTML michaelv.org
180 points by shawndumas  9 hours ago   80 comments top 44
1
gfodor 8 hours ago 4 replies      
seeing "Internet Browser" there made me imagine a fictitious scenario where some time wormhole opened up and 20 years ago there was one special computer that was in all ways identical to your average Windows 3.1 machine. the difference, though, like cyberdyne technology from Terminator, it had "Internet Browser" that nobody could explain but somehow had all the worlds knowledge from 2014 sitting right there behind a single icon.

yeah, it's friday.

2
crazygringo 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Gotta say, it's the pixel-perfect Minesweeper that did it for me.

Cool little project. It's actually surprising to remember how intuitive Windows 3.1 was. Simple to use and got the job done.

3
aaronbrethorst 7 hours ago 1 reply      
No Ski Free, no deal.

http://ski.ihoc.net

Actually, this is pretty cool. Far more so, imho, than the "Web OS" or "Web Desktop" craze a few years back.

4
mambodog 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Alternatively you could just run the real thing :)

http://jamesfriend.com.au/pce-js/ibmpc-win/

Caveats: it's actually 3.0 and the mouse doesn't work... yet

5
mikeknoop 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Michaelv.org is the personal website of Michael Vincent who, if you click around, is a huge TI calculator hacker (I dabbled back in the day).

In fact, my very first web server was going to be hosted by him. I recall sending him like $30 in the mail to host it way back when I was young enough to not even have a bank account yet.

6
overgard 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I appreciate the sentiment, but this feels almost nothing like windows 3.1. It has the skin but that's about it.
7
trevvvor 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Minesweeper left + right together mouse button action isn't implemented. Also, this version of minesweeper lets you lose on the first click. There is also no high score. For these reasons alone, I am very upset by this entire demo.
8
jrockway 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This supports HiDPI better than Windows 8.
9
pjbrunet 5 hours ago 0 replies      
For perspective, Zuckerberg was 7 y/o when Windows 3.1 came out:

http://www.timeanddate.com/date/durationresult.html?m1=5&d1=...

10
sTevo-In-VA 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Bandwidth Limit ExceededThe server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.

OK, Now I'm curious.

11
jxf 7 hours ago 1 reply      
He took out all the fun parts. Can't "format C:", "del command.com", etc. :(
12
Aardwolf 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Super cool!

One bug: Minesweeper is supposed to activate all non flagged tiles next to the mouse if you click with left and right mouse button at the same time. (see http://www.minesweeper.info/archive/MinesweeperStrategy/mine...)

(The problem is that this is so handy that once this reflex is wired in it's impossible to play Minesweeper without that feature)

13
jaredsohn 4 hours ago 1 reply      
One part of the early authentic Windows 3.1 experience for some people (that is missing here) is having a DOS-based menu show up when you boot up your computer and then clicking on the Windows item or typing 'win' from the DOS prompt if you want to run some Windows-based program.
14
ewoodrich 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Well done. Although, the embedded Youtube frame of Ron Paul on Stossel in Media Player felt like jumping forward twenty years. :)
15
ankit84 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the operating system is about just simulating UI, file explorer, console with CD, and/or a pixel perfect game?

The real deal will be remote desktop inside the web browser. I shall be able to connect my PC (remote login) from anywhere in the world and use it's GUI.

16
randunel 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Bandwidth Limit ExceededThe server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.
17
beggi 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool! Just won my first Minesweeper game, awesome!
18
shtylman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a lie. The internet browser is way too good.
19
kemo 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I just went over your bandwith limit... first request worked, refresh, exceeded :(
20
alvare 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I only managed to achieve 2 levels of recursion (that is, opening the site inside explorer inside the site).
21
ben1040 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I opened up Media Player looking for CANYON.MID and was disappointed.
22
thought_alarm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just as baffling and upsetting as the original Windows 3.0 was in 1990. Well done.
23
thwarted 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What, no WfW 3.11 support?

It's almost too perfect... Windows 3.1 only had window resizing via a thick stipple outline of the window border, and the included web browser reflows too quickly, although that's a function of the hardware performance. It would be interesting to run Win3.1 on a modern multi-GHz machine.

24
midas007 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Faster and more stable Windows and Windows NT 3.1 on period hardware. Awesome.
25
iamtechaddict 9 hours ago 1 reply      
My favorite is MS-DOS Prompt, its almost working :)
26
hagope 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow Notepad is still the same today!
27
hashx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
[insert obligatory comment about Atwood's law here]
28
freshyill 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's as awful as I remember it, which means they got it right.
29
amcnett 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I am waiting for NortonDesktop.js to be implemented.
30
mikeflynn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It was fun to beat Minesweeper 3.1-style! (Though, I missed the ability to double-click on the number to clear the surrounding non-flagged squares.)
31
jokoon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
inception is not innovation
32
smilekzs 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The pun on DPRK was hilarious.
33
mukundmr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Why I do keep getting an "Application Execution Error" whenever I click on any app?
34
tux 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This has less bugs then original ^_^
35
agumonkey 4 hours ago 0 replies      
dithered icons, beveled widgets ... hypernostalgia.
36
hydralist 8 hours ago 1 reply      
i immediately went to prompt and typed format c:\
37
systematical 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This dude went all out.
38
nside 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There are too many colors!
39
eonil 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is real!
40
notastartup 6 hours ago 0 replies      
My god...a flash of nostalgia.

okay so where is the github of this? I'd like to find some excuse to use this library.

41
WaterSponge 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Good minesweeper implementation as well.
42
DroidBurgundy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Ski Free anyone?????
43
lafar6502 5 hours ago 0 replies      
beautiful
44
inanov 4 hours ago 0 replies      
amazingly stable
3
Show HN: Take Off 2014 non-profit tech conference in Europe takeoffconf.com
16 points by madflo  2 hours ago   7 comments top 7
1
acemtp 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
There's a few cool tech events and this one is really cool! Organized by dev for dev! Can't wait to be there.
2
madflo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We are based in Lille, a close stop from London (90min), Brussels (30min) and Paris (50min).

All the talks are in English and we will have a great selection of Belgian beers :-) (and alcohol free beverages).

More information : https://github.com/robink/take-off-conf-convince-your-boss/b...

3
bqst 1 hour ago 0 replies      
One of the greatest tech conf in Europe, especially for front-end dev. See you there :)
4
orliesaurus 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
really stoked to be attending!
5
V1P 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
Less than two weeks before the show! So excited!
6
renaudd 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I had the pleasure to attend this conference last year. Lots of great speakers & very good organization !
7
tibnou 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Can't wait to be there !
4
What are the lesser known but useful data structures? stackoverflow.com
217 points by mck-  13 hours ago   46 comments top 20
1
tikhonj 12 hours ago 2 replies      
There's a whole set of interesting data structures that are not very well known: succinct data structures[1]. The idea is simple: we want to store data in a compressed form, but also perform certain operations quickly without uncompressing.

These can be very useful for certain applications. The article on "Cramming 80,000 Words into a JavaScript File"[2] is a nice example. It shows you how you can store a compressed trie in memory but still use it. I also like this[3] series of blog posts leading up to wavelet trees.

These certainly count as obscure data structures, unlike many of the ones listed on SO. I had never even considered the idea of compressing data in memory like this, much less encountered actual examples of succinct data structures! I have to thank Edward Kmett for introducing me to the whole field.

These data structures are important not just because they're neat themselves, but because they got me to think a new way. In particular, I realized that using pointers all over the place--to represent things like trees--is not always efficient. Instead of parsing data, it might be better to store it as a blob of some sort with a binary index. Just starting to consider details like that is valuable all on its own.

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

[2]: http://stevehanov.ca/blog/index.php/?id=120

[3]: http://alexbowe.com/rrr/ and http://alexbowe.com/wavelet-trees/

2
VexXtreme 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I love how the question was locked because "it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site". It's crazy. Unless an extremely specific concrete answer can be given, a question immediately gets killed. SO has turned into such a turd of a website.
3
kintamanimatt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

Yet it's one of the best questions on SO. Something's very wrong with SO if this isn't considered a good, on-topic question for a programming Q&A site.

4
bazzargh 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not highlighting one thing, but Chris Okasaki's book on Purely Functional Data Structures, and this brilliant top answer to a question about functional data structures published since the book will keep you in reading material for a while:http://cstheory.stackexchange.com/a/1550

(it was all 'lesser known' to me when I started using haskell not so long ago)

5
chas 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm happy to see finger trees got mentioned. Finger trees[0] are extremely useful and general data structure that can be used to implement persistent sequences, priority queues, search trees and priority search queues. (Haskell's Data.Sequence[1] uses specialized 2-3 finger trees internally) They can form the basis of all sorts of interesting custom structures by supplying the appropriate monoid[3], but this does make them harder to approach if you are not familiar with the abstractions.

[3] A monoid is any structure that has members that can combine associatively. In addition, it must have an element that can combine with any other element and result in the other element. Some examples: (strings, string concatenation, the empty string); (integers, addition, 0); (natural numbers, max, 0); (booleans, and, True); (functions, composition, the identity function). The functional pearl[2] that describes the design of Haskell's diagrams library[4] goes into much more detail if you are interested in their application to programming.

[0] http://apfelmus.nfshost.com/articles/monoid-fingertree.html

[1] http://hackage.haskell.org/package/containers-0.5.4.0/docs/D...

[2] http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~byorgey/pub/monoid-pearl.pdf

[4] http://projects.haskell.org/diagrams/

6
batbomb 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I use a Hierarchical Triangular Mesh for indexing gamma ray events from the universe. The data is partitioned in the database according to it's HTM id.

http://arxiv.org/pdf/cs/0701164.pdf

Currently I use this for indexing ~11 billion gamma ray events. Researchers typically supply a region in the sky, a search radius, and some cuts (energy, event quality, etc...)

7
hyperpape 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Looking at these lists, I strongly suspect that people upvote based on whether they personally recognize the data structure.

It goes against the intent of the original question, but iIt's almost ideally designed to make you feel good--you get the rush of knowledge then nerd sniped as you head to wikipedia.

8
jboggan 12 hours ago 0 replies      
9
nilkn 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't really consider tries and bloom filters all that poorly known. These commonly come up in interviews for fresh graduates at Google/Facebook. Zippers, skip lists, ropes, round-robin databases, etc. are more genuinely not known I think.
10
abcd_f 3 hours ago 0 replies      
XOR linked list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XOR_linked_list

It's a double-linked list with just one link per node. However, to start traversing it you have to know at least two adjacent nodes.

PS. May not be useful per se, but interesting nonetheless.

11
swah 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Let me just drop this video that is on my watchlist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sEdiFMntMA&feature=share&lis... Erik Dermaine is the lecturer
12
pnathan 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently learned about the spatial index tree family in connection with data mining. I hope to implement a data-mining centric X tree (n-dimensional) solution for a data analytics package I'm writing soon. That family is is how you efficiently handle KNN lookups, afaict.
13
shurcooL 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of an implementation of rope in golang? Something a little more feature complete than https://github.com/christianvozar/rope.
15
lifthrasiir 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I found the following page in the Concatenative wiki particularly interesting: http://concatenative.org/wiki/view/Exotic%20Data%20Structure... (Note that the page itself is not related to the concatenative languages.)
16
krisgee 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to say Trie but it was the first response to the SO thread so I guess it wasn't as little known as I thought.

I implemented it because I was making a game that had scrabble elements in it and needed to check ahead to see if the player had a word that could still take letters (a prefix) or if they'd hit a dead end. Fit the whole SOWPODS into a remarkably tiny space with millisecond lookups. Probably my favourite part of the project.

17
serge2k 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's mentioned in the link, but circular/ring buffers.

I've been grappling with decoding/playing back an audio stream and wouldn't have gotten it working if I hadn't found out about boosts lockfree ring buffer.

18
ww520 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Extendible hashing is amazing in space utilization while retaining the performance of hashing.
19
WWKong 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Me and my friend were pretty serious about creating a new data structure called "drum". A drum is a one way store. You write to it but can't read from it. We put it off till we figured a practical use.
20
halfdeadcat 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Cup-a-bits
5
Building an open source Nest spark.io
527 points by simonbarker87  1 day ago   226 comments top 43
1
imroot 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I've just built something very similar to this last weekend -- For around $43/sensor (Raspberry Pi Model B, DigiSpark, and 1-Wire Temperature Sensor) I made 20 of these for my home, farm, and hackerspace for temperature logging. I did this because we're getting another 'polar vortex' next week and the cows don't like it if it's colder than 20 degrees out.

This allows me to measure the temperature inside, outside, and get the relative humidity (not nearly as accurate as the $20 honeywell sensor that they're using, but, it's close enough for my needs). I then built a simple website using mrtg (for temperature trending) and a ruby script that checks the temperatures versus what the set points are and mounted the raspberry pi's in various locations around my places.

My "Controller" nodes are a beagleboard with a 4 or 8 channel relay board attached that allow me to turn on or off the individual controls on the furnace. It works well with my two stage heat pump and fan at my home, but, I need some work to get it 100% at the hackerspace and at the farm.

I mainly did this because I needed something that allowed me to cover more rooms than the Nest (and I'm adding duct dampers and fans to my heating system, so I can selectively heat and cool more rooms to better temperatures).

2
noonespecial 11 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing I found about hardware is that the prototype is only 10% of the effort. Sourcing components for mass production, government regulatory hurdles, and then that damn enclosure are 90% when everything goes right.

I can build all kinds of things with my arduino and all of those awesome little one-off function boards you can snag on ebay from china theses days. I can't build 10000 of any of them.

3
parfe 21 hours ago 4 replies      
This makes me happy. I have a house with electric heat and eight thermostats pushing Nest costs into unreasonable territory. I'd love to be able to remotely set all my thermostats to 55 degrees or get certain zones to react based on events fired from my phone, (e.g. coming, leaving, charging with screen off aka sleeping, pending alarm)

Unfortunately, with my electric heat the thermostats sit inline with the heater's power source so I need devices that can safely handle 120v.

4
grinich 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Funny-- the first Nest thermostat prototypes were also built with acrylic and wood. (I used to work there.)

I always hoped they would switch back to wood, but it's incredibly hard to do right in mass manufacturing.

5
mrfusion 23 hours ago 13 replies      
I like the use of short 2-5 second videos instead of pictures. They did it tastefully and made it useful.

I never thought I'd see a good use case for auto playing videos.(It kind of reminds me of Harry Potter too)

6
zedpm 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm trying to understand if you can self-host the server-side piece of this. I've wanted to have a networked thermostat for a while, but all the ones I found connect to the vendor's server, which is silly. I'd like to be able to point the device at my own server so I have full control.

EDIT: Yep, the Common Questions section of their website[1] says that they'll be releasing an open source version of their Cloud. Awesome.

[1] https://www.spark.io/

7
pessimizer 19 hours ago 4 replies      
>we built our own approximation of the Nest Learning Thermostat in one day and weve open sourced everything. In this process, weve come to respect the incredible technical challenges that Nest has solved while also coming to understand how much the game has changed since they first started.

I missed the technical challenges - this seems trivial, and exactly how easy that I would imagine it to be. The only challenge that I see is figuring that people would want a thermostat controlled by a phone app.

Since that's been figured out, I'm going to be very surprised if within 2 years 10 vendors don't have $50 versions sold at Wal-Mart, and there aren't 2-3 different open source software stacks competing to support a few of them.

8
mwsherman 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is great but there are lessons here from desktop Linux, Facebook clones, etc, which is that retail is hard.

In order to ship a widely used operating system, you need a support infrastructure, consumer research, drivers for lots of hardware, warranties, marketing, payroll, operations, accountants, regulatory compliance. The product is almost the easiest part.

I imagine that Nest understands all this. Putting a piece of hardware in someones house one thats connected to a furnace or which claims to protect against fire means a lot of liabilities, broadly defined.

Id love to see an open source version get to that level of maturity and support. It does happen but it takes a lot of people.

(Tangent, but when I started at Stack, a lot of people said they could (and did) build a clone in a weekend. Sure, as an approximation of the technical product. But that aint the retail product, which is actually comprised of community, goodwill, SEO, quality control, and a lot of other things.)

9
davexunit 23 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a project called GNU remotecontrol that I just discovered that could be used for this purpose. It's important that you can be in control of your thermostat data instead of handing it over to Google/Nest/some other malicious vendor.
10
zellyn 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I was under the impression that one of the major challenges faced by Nest was running off only the power available by safely drawing from the existing wires.

Without that constraint, it's a much easier problem.

11
arianvanp 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the time I hacked an old hard drive to use it as a rotary encoder. Started with the idea in the morning, finished the idea the next morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1U83BMi7vw

I've now extended the idea into a fully working DIY DJ Controller. My first big electronics project... I've been planning to open-source the build documents for quite a while now. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFhLQzisx90

12
g8oz 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice, but I'd rather not be tied to a 3rd party service like Spark Cloud. Indeed thats my problem with Nest. It would be great if it would just connect to my private VPS or something.
13
malandrew 17 hours ago 1 reply      

   "At Spark, were making it easier to bring connected    devices to market with the Spark Core, our Wi-Fi    development kit, and the Spark Cloud, our cloud service for    connected devices."
I found SparkCore on github[0] and the C++ communication lib for Core to communicate with SparkCloud [1], but I did not find SparkCloud itself on Github. Is that component going to open-source as well?

It would be nice if you had the option to host your own cloud service. You could protect your business model at least partially by using an open source license that requires people to change the name if they decide to fork it and productize it, such as the Artistic License v2.

[0] https://github.com/spark/core

[1] https://github.com/spark/core-communication-lib

14
batoure 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I think that this is a really cool project. But I think that the problem here is still fundamentally the same as the one faced by the nest.

The thesis of spark.io is "you can trust us with your data" not you have control of your data.

The spark is built on a cloud connected platform. even if you can see and control outputs from your board you still exist as part of their ecosystem. Which is basically the functional equivalent of using the dropbox api to build something instead of google drive.

I won't be excited about home automation until someone goes the way of an open protocol for these types of devices that doesn't require a centralized pass through.

Because if history has been any kind of teacher, it shows us that spark.io will probably get sucked up by google or somebody in the near future.

15
skue 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Are there any specifics on how the underlying Spark platform handles security? On their product page it says that Spark Cloud "creates a secure environment without forcing your web browser and the Core to speak the same language, which would be taxing on a low-power, low-cost microcontroller." Which isn't reassuring.

They don't provide any specifics in the docs either, only this:

"Security is hard. Its especially hard on an embedded system, because encryption is resource intensive. But its also important, because you dont want anyone turning on and off your lights, or worse, locking and unlocking your front doors.We hand-picked a set of rock-solid security protocols that are secure and efficient, so they work great on an embedded system. Theyre baked into the Spark Protocol, which is open source and ready to be extended to other products."

I get that encryption may be difficult on embedded systems, but I would also argue that if a small embedded system can't handle strong encryption then it's not ready to connect devices to the web. I can't find any links to source code - anyone know what sort of encryption they use?

16
emmelaich 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Also have a look at ninjablocks.com; their hardware is open source.

The software is partly open sourced.

http://ninjablocks.com/pages/open-source

17
nilkn 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Any ideas for stuff to build with this besides a thermostat? I'm talking about for a fun side project to learn the ropes, not necessarily the next $3.2B IoT company.
18
strick 23 hours ago 2 replies      
If your next iteration includes a physical switch to put the fan in 'always on' mode, it will already be superior to the Nest.
19
jaredcwhite 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I gotta say -- the use of video in this blog post is outstanding. Best use case of HTML5 Video I've yet come across, frankly. Sorry, I'm supposed to comment on the actual comment...haha. Just saying I love the format. :)
20
dzhiurgis 13 hours ago 0 replies      
God damn it. I've just received STM32F4 Discovery board yesterday, tried to run Espruino on it to no avail. And now this thing popped up!

Is it possible to run your software on other dev boards?

Does it have enough processing power for HTTPS POST? I see someone complain here: https://community.sparkdevices.com/t/how-to-send-http-post-r...

21
coreymgilmore 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I have built a similar system, and expanding it to more devices (think: devices other than thermostats). However, I use my own custom messaging/web server for communicating with the device from anywhere in the world. Think controlling your (ex: toaster) in NYC from LA without configuring any networks, vpn, ports,...aka Nest-like. Combined with some machine learning and machine "thinking", its pretty powerful.

The Spark Thermostat is great minus the fact that you need their web api for communicating with it. But for a 1-day build, how can anyone disappointed! Great job Spark team.

In regards to my own devices, I am definitely going to have to take a look at Spark now. Cool hardware.

22
spyder 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Cannot view the page in Firefox because it's freezing the browser and the memory usage jumps from 155 MB to 880 MB (even with clean profile without add-ons) :(

Edit: It's doing the same in Chrome too

23
Aardwolf 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Make it run on mains or USB power, with the battery only being used if the power is disrupted.

After all, one wouldn't want to have to charge their smoke detector every day like a smartphone, right? (Not once a month either).

24
excellence24 11 hours ago 0 replies      
this is great but with these devices and 'the internet of things', the most important part is not the devices but the data. And with this, instead of Google getting all the data, Spark is getting the data, and the data is where the money is. And once they get more data and learn to use it, they will become a more valuable company and eventually might get acquired.

I think for something to truly be open-source and beneficial for everyone, everything about it must be open, including the data. The data from all the connected devices globally could be stored on an open database that anyone can access and use. Its one thing to 'learn' with the limited data that one device might generate, but for a machine to 'learn to learn' it should be able to study ALL the data that might be useful.

This kind of organization could lead to a type of opensource corporation where anyone can be an 'employee'. Employment and compensation could be based off a public list of contributions to the project. To each according to his contribution.

This idea could be applied to anything that's used in public and generates data. Autonomous cars, home automation, drones, (NSA data, slightly more complicated but still could be open sourced). But as long as we're tricking ourselves into thinking we need 'money' to survive, the organization or company with the most of it wins.

25
boise 18 hours ago 0 replies      
you can buy the components for ~$36: http://octopart.com/bom-lookup/x7lnOrCu

(not including the Spark Core at $39)

26
lowglow 22 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're interested in building IoT, wearables, and externals, I'm getting an expo + hackathon together called Hackendo (http://hackendo.techendo.co) for April. I would really love the community's support in helping make this awesome, so anyone with experience in this area or feedback on how I should run the event, please reach out.

Also if you're in the bay area, you should check out this meetup group run by my friend Nick Pinkston: http://www.meetup.com/HardwareStartupSF/

27
blcArmadillo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool. For some time I've been interested in building a Nest clone. I like the concept of Nest however it doesn't work for me because my wife's work schedule can't be predicted with machine learning and therefore I think Nest would actually end up being less efficient for us. She keeps her work schedule in a calendar though so my plan was to have the thermostat use her work calendar to optimize our heating/cooling plan. This project looks like it could be a good starting point.
28
potench 22 hours ago 1 reply      
How does the thermostat control temperature? Am I crazy, I feel like I'm missing a section on how this device connects to the central air, Ac, heater, fan or something that can affect temperature. Under hardware: "relays to control the furnace and the fan." But I don't see details on the relay.
29
Eduardo3rd 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Documenting a company hardware hackathon this way is super interesting. I think we'll have to give something like this a shot next time we do some rapid prototyping over here. Way to go Spark!
30
sixothree 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see any information about how they interfaced with the hvac system. Did they use a relay board or optoisolators?
31
josephpmay 17 hours ago 0 replies      
The site is broken on mobile (Safari). An autoplay video pops up and keeps reopening when closed.
32
650REDHAIR 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is beautiful. Love your 'Nest'!

Looking back to 5-10 years ago you would have had a really hard time building this in a week let alone 1 day.

33
aabalkan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow those HTML5 videos totally caused my browser to freeze on a very good hardware.
34
auvi 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Who knows Google will also acquire Spark some day. They have bought a bunch of robotics companies, Nest and so on. A cloud connected controller, why not?
35
codex 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Why would you want an open source Nest? Is there a market demand for something which is uglier, harder to use, takes more time to install, and works worse? Do you also build your own toasters or automobiles?
36
serf 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Those videos were way distracting.

Also the firmware definition bugs me.

neat product/concept tho.

37
analog31 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What are the failure modes?
38
blueskin_ 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Now Nest is part of Big Google, this is amazing. Time to add this to my projects list.
39
mistakoala 15 hours ago 0 replies      
That webpage killed my laptop. Presumably the video that did it? So thoughtful of them to play it automatically.
40
levlandau 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks pretty interesting. Definitely heading over to github to look in more detail.
41
ankitg12 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice work guys..
42
baldajan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
very ugly, but very cool (I do like the wood finish though)
43
meerita 21 hours ago 1 reply      
3D printing comes to my mind.
6
Chrome Is The New C Runtime mobilespan.com
211 points by aagr  15 hours ago   103 comments top 28
1
United857 15 hours ago 2 replies      
As someone not at Google, but who's re-used multiple parts of Chromium (as described in the article), the code (especially the stuff under base/) is possibly the best documented large-scale, open-source C++ codebase I've seen.
2
mwfunk 14 hours ago 2 replies      
He's talking about using bits and pieces of Chromium's infrastructure in other programs, but didn't address open source licensing at all. I haven't looked at it myself, but according to Wikipedia, Chromium's source is licensed under: "BSD license, MIT License, LGPL, MS-PL and MPL/GPL/LGPL tri-licensed code, plus unlicensed files". This is all fine, but anyone using this code needs to make sure they understand what license(s) the code they are using is under and what the terms of those licenses are. Just because it's open source doesn't mean you can just do whatever you want with it; even less restrictive licenses like BSDL might have conditions like the advertising clause, and you should always be aware of any copyrights in the code and be sure to preserve them.

That said, I'm sure the Chromium source is a great resource- just a strange and important omission from the article.

I would also suggest that anyone looking for a platform-independent runtime check out APR (Apache Portable Runtime): http://apr.apache.org. It's lower-level than some of the Chromium libraries mentioned in the article (it would be equivalent to the "base libraries" block in the "Chrome Development Platform" figure), but sometimes that's all you need. Plus, it's already designed as a library for other applications to use, there's no need to repurpose anything like you might have to do with the Chromium sources.

3
mbrubeck 13 hours ago 1 reply      
As an example of this type of Chromium library re-use, Firefox and Firefox OS use the Chromium ipc library for messaging between the main UI process, plugin processes, and content processes (in Firefox OS or in Firefox with the experimental multi-process mode enabled).

https://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/file/tip/ipc/chromium

https://wiki.mozilla.org/IPC_Protocols

4
gcp 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Recommending Chrome is a bit like recommending bionic when everyone else is enjoying (e)glibc?

The Chrome runtime has some good libraries but using that over say Qt really only makes sense if you're a (former) Chrome developer. For everyone else it's just needless pain.

5
oscargrouch 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Im using the chromium codebase to build a sort of netxgen "browser" (not web browser).. but more akin to a application platform with p2p in mind (and other crazy ideas). While the idea proposed by the author may sounds cool, i think chromium is a huge codebase to be used like the author says so trivially..

Its ok; if you need multiprocess ipc + net + actor-based thread concurrency + gpu compositor + webkit.. (like i do)

But, dont know if it worth the trouble otherwise..

For instance, it takes a very long time to compile everything, it takes long to debug (the final chrome binary with debug symbols end with 2G.. all loaded in the heap) and you got a big codebase to know about.. so use it with care and in need.. otherwise you will waste your precious time trying to kill a fly with a canon

6
sehugg 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Judging from the number of dependencies I think it'd be more fair to say Chromium is the new Boost.
7
randallu 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Chromium is _huge_. If I just wanted to use the HTTP library (with tls and spdy) then how would I build just that, and cleanly integrate the build into my own project in a way that won't require constant revisiting every time I update my chromium sources?
8
brokenparser 15 hours ago 4 replies      
XULRunner is almost 8 years old now, it was invented for the same purpose TFA uses Chromium but it's actually documented:

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Projects/XU...

9
alexhutcheson 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Just a heads up, Web of Trust has this sited rated very poorly[1], ostensibly for spam. As a result, any users with the Web of Trust browser extension installed are shown a Big Scary Warning that they must click through before seeing the site's content.

The warning is based on one review, and doesn't seem accurate in this case, so this might be something to try to get resolved.

[1] https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/mobilespan.com?utm_source...

10
lstamour 12 hours ago 0 replies      
While looking for cross-platform (iOS and Android) networking and security resources, Google kept giving me references to the Chrome codebase. Having compiled Chromium for a homebrew Chrome book (and tired of copying settings between two separate codebases), I'm going to try this. :)

A big shout out to the author of this stack overflow post, where I first confirmed that it might indeed make sense to develop function-based middleware in C or C++ and share it between iOS and Android to bridge the low and high levels of your app: http://stackoverflow.com/revisions/5234868/2

11
memracom 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like Chromium might be the successor to APR, the Apache Portable Runtime. I believe that the authors of Chrome consciously tried to provide functionality that replaced APR, presumably because of their multiprocess model.
12
ii 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Chromium, Gecko and Webkit codebases are huge, they are hard to compile. They are optimised for use in the browsers and nothing else. They are not universal runtimes yet! I like that idea but please don't make it sound like chromium runtime is ready for everybody to use for their projects.
13
yeureka 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is interesting. Ideally, if the rendering and audio parts are of high performance enough, it could be used as platform abstraction for game development.
14
chubot 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting, it seems kind of like the scenario where the "web stack is the new GUI", with desktop projects like Light Table being built on Node-Webkit. You're reusing browser infrastructure for native apps.

What other alternatives are there? Apache Portable Runtime?

15
moca 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Chrome is more like Java or .NET runtime than C runtime. You can build full blown apps as Chrome packaged apps. Google has not polished it very well. If done well, developers can use it to build apps that run on Windows/Mac/Linux without change.
16
sanjeevr 14 hours ago 7 replies      
Hi all,

I'm the author of the post. Happy to answer detailed questions on using Chromium as a Dev platform. Any suggestions for a follow-up post?

17
SaveTheRbtz 14 hours ago 0 replies      
With the same reasoning you can use nginx as a C runtime.
18
jokoon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Can I use the p2p libs to make some bitmessage-like app, using the bitcoin protocol to spread data ?
19
steveklabnik 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm posting this from a Chromebook Pixel, which I use for all of my development. No crouton, just stock ChromeOS.

This movement is really interesting to me. If I could clone myself, I'd be working on an exokernel in Rust that just exposes a V8 VM, and uses a DOM implementation as the native drawing interface. Processes == tabs...

Of course, there's higher level work that needs to be done to expose more of the machine in JavaScript. Check out http://extensiblewebmanifesto.org/ , signed by Google, Mozilla, and W3C TAG members, as well as #extendthewebforward on Twitter.

20
factorizer 2 hours ago 0 replies      
No, it's not.
21
zerop 2 hours ago 0 replies      
C/C++ web stack is really needed for performance reasons.. good project I would say....
22
piyush_soni 12 hours ago 1 reply      
To the author: I think you should 'Find and Replace' all (except a few) occurrences of 'Chrome' to 'Chromium' in your article.
23
zobzu 11 hours ago 0 replies      
it'd be fine if the libs were actually libs, with a documented api (you know, in man, it's nice).

that's not the case tho, and that's why its a blog post and not something everyone and their dog uses.

24
avighnay 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for bringing this to limelight

Just started experiencing this early on this week via Node Webkit, it is just awesome what NW with Chromium brings to the table.

The first thing that came to my mind is that this should have been there 15 years earlier through Java/Embedded browser. However the powers of the time (read IE) were not interested/even actively blocked embedded browser usage.

25
codingtheone 12 hours ago 1 reply      
So you write your mobile apps in C++? and you can't take advantage of iOS or Android STL?
26
indubitably 3 hours ago 0 replies      
oh just fuck this entire idea
27
hucha 8 hours ago 0 replies      
sigh people just cant stop using something just because its "cool", rather than what is right!!!
28
clienthunter 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Person-hours".
7
Dropbox raises about $250 million at $10 billion valuation wsj.com
225 points by dctoedt  15 hours ago   145 comments top 29
1
AVTizzle 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Dropbox Inc. has closed on about $250 million in a funding round that values the online-storage provider at close to $10 billion, according to two people familiar with the deal.

A BlackRock Inc. BLK -0.33% investment fund is leading the deal, which also includes previous backers, said one of these people, who declined to provide more detail.

Dropbox wasn't immediately available to comment.

At $10 billion, Dropbox is one of the most highly valued companies backed by venture capitalists. The company's valuation has more than doubled since late 2011, when investors valued the San Francisco-based company at $4 billion. The company also got a higher price than expected when it approached investors as recently as November.

Dropbox raised $250 million in its 2011 financing from Goldman Sachs and venture-capital firms including Sequoia Capital, Index Ventures and Accel Partners.

The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Dropbox had expected sales of more than $200 million in 2013. The company made $116 million in sales in 2012, according to people familiar with the company's financials, more than doubling its $46 million in revenue in 2011. The year before, it nearly quadrupled sales from $12 million.

--David Benoit contributed to this article.

2
incision 14 hours ago 4 replies      
My anecdotal sample size of one makes me wonder how Dropbox means to sustain itself.

I'd been on a $20/month plan with Dropbox for a few years now. I recently cancelled down to the free tier because...

* I didn't want to pay more to store/sync even more data.

* All my apps that add great convenience by leveraging Dropbox for sync will work fine and consume just a fraction of the free tier space.

This is actually the "killer" feature right now. If I had to pay to keep this functionality, I'd probably pony right up, but it would be tough to start demanding payment for that.

* Dropbox is actually pretty slow.

Sure, I'm just one person, but their percentage of paying customers has always been small. Just a few years ago, there weren't many if any viable alternatives - now there's a whole slew of them and Dropbox hasn't changed much if any in that span.

Also, since it seems to come up so often. I've seen nothing in the way of moves by or significant interest in Dropbox in the enterprise. Meanwhile, Microsoft is pushing SkyDrive, Google has Drive and Box is stating that they're fully enterprise focused.

3
lubos 14 hours ago 5 replies      
I've been using Dropbox for years and was using it for everything until last year. I didn't even bother installing it after getting new computer.

The problem with Dropbox is that it's too general, too abstract. There are now specialized services that are made for hosting source code, hosting photos, hosting music, hosting scanned documents... and each service is doing it better in its niche than general-purpose tool like Dropbox.

So who needs Dropbox on its own?

I think Dropbox will need to re-invent itself and fast. One way would be to buy other startups that are targeting specific niches and would use Dropbox as persistent storage. This way Dropbox could be offering various apps for free and make money if users run out of their Dropbox space.

Think about it, rather than paying monthly for source code hosting, photo hosting, document hosting, email hosting or whatever service separately as we do it now. All these services could be free as Dropbox apps and once you hit 2 GB limit, you pay for storage you consume as a single monthly fee.

Is this what Dropbox has in mind? Are they raising capital to go on acquisition spree of struggling startups (think Everpix.com) that have great products but not enough traction?

I would love to see that...

4
thomseddon 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When I was in the process of creating a similar service specially for students I did a lot of research into their freemium model....The findings were pretty clear: the most reliable source puts their conversion at around 4% and and with approximations on growth and a heavily reduced s3 cost there is a point where it stops working - they need to boost their revenue sources.

I have all the projections on my pc, feel free to contact me if you would like to see them.

5
jwwest 15 hours ago 7 replies      
Could someone explain what the point of Dropbox as a company is now? They literally own their space, everyone loves them, and I'm sure they're making money hand-over-fist.

However, they raised another round? Why?

6
highCs 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not able to read this without signing up. I suggest a [restricted access] in the title of such articles like [video].
8
dchuk 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Since they're hosted on AWS, their bandwidth and storage costs have to be monstrous per month. Anyone have a rough estimate of how much they're paying currently and how much they could possibly stand to save by using this investment money to possibly build their own data center/acquire one?
9
lancewiggs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I might be missing a trick, but if I were Box or Dropbox I'd be reaching out for merger discussions with the other. A combined entity would dominate corporate and retail markets.
10
sytelus 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow... That's like 10 instagrams ;). But honestly, when Microsoft, Apple and Google have jumped in to this same space with pretty much same offering, does this makes sense to anyone? I thought they would be out of business because of this. At least 3 out of 5 big startup buyers aren't welcoming them. My only hunch is they have revenues now in $100M range and planning IPO in couple of years as exit.
11
marcamillion 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't wait for them to go public and we can take a look at their financials properly.

I suspect they will surprise many people - as I had predicted back in 2011 - http://marcgayle.com/2011/01/24/how-dropbox-is-printing-mone...

Much hasn't changed....I don't think.

12
mattmaroon 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats Drew and Arash!
13
mmaunder 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The closest comparable I can think of is Salesforce which has a $34B valuation right now as a public company. Totally different sector, but a software company that focuses on doing one thing really well and generates over $3Bn yearly revenue.

https://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:CRM&sa=X&ei=Gq_ZUvPkF5...

14
codegeek 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I did a google search with the link to access non-paywalled

https://www.google.com/#q=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Fnews...

Click on the search result and it is non-paywalled

15
akennberg 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Does YC buy into later rounds of a company or just let the dilution happen?
16
pekk 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Remember that Dropbox has access to everything you store with them, and uses it
17
joelrunyon 15 hours ago 6 replies      
Anyone got a link to a non-paywalled version?

Also - I love dropbox as much as anyone, but do they have the numbers to justify a 10B valuation?

18
kriro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In light of the NSA scandal I have switched from Dropbox to a self hosted ownCloud. Pretty happy with it :)
19
venomsnake 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Exchanging and syncing files is very tricky service to get right. Because no one has managed to do it painlessly so far. It is much more than just users and hardware.

While dropbox are of the better services out there it is still open for innovation - there are still pain points to be eliminated. So squashing them may require another startup and not big behemoth.

As with the case of Origin and Windows 8 learned recently - creating something people like is just hard.

20
tzury 15 hours ago 0 replies      
21
ereckers 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It's funny to see everyone on here stating that they are leaving Dropbox as I'm just about to get on. I've been using Windows machines for years and finally bought a Mac. I need to start using my computers as simple terminals to some degree.

The only thing I've been wondering is if running a few things at once is a bad idea; Google Drive, Box, Dropbox.

24
dchuk 15 hours ago 3 replies      
When did WSJ start using that paywall?
25
jcdietrich 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how Dropbox and the NSA get along?
26
glasz 15 hours ago 0 replies      
this is going to be funny some day. when the bubble bursts.
27
ccbrandenburg 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Could someone please explain why they would raise another round at this stage? Investors are assuming an IPO and want to get in before that I guess.
28
veritas213 4 hours ago 0 replies      
thats a ridiculous valuation.What their EBITDA? Oh yeah..
29
sjg007 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Clearly, MSFT, Apple, or Google could buy them.
8
Show HN: Hubble Ultra Deep Field Viewer domitable.com
9 points by parksy  3 hours ago   1 comment top
1
bulltale 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nice, although I'd like some more explanation about what I see.

When I click the hint for the oldest object in the universe I get: [object Object], with the URL: javascript:Zoomers.map.setView([79.39604189337487, -122.98095703125], 5)

9
I never finish anyth greig.cc
271 points by 3stripe  1 day ago   91 comments top 44
1
Arjuna 22 hours ago 6 replies      
Just some encouragement here for you good people...

You have to do the work. There is no one else that can do it for you. It is entirely up to you; actually, it has only ever been you, because it is you that rolls out of bed early to bring it. No one is going to do that for you. If you want to do it, then you will figure out a way to make it happen.

Like some of you, I have a family. That makes things a bit challenging at times, and you will likely have to work even harder to find the time, to make the space, so that you can bring it. And, I will add, those that are parents, this is a great example to set for your children. You want to be, "The Daddy that brings it." You want to be, "The Mommy that brings it." Because, you want to instill in them that they can, too. It's a valuable life-lesson. In turn, it is psychologically healthy for you as well, to know that you are a parent that is firing on all cylinders. In addition, it is incredibly gratifying when your child sees your work. "Wow... that's the new game that you're working on! Let me try!" It will fuel you like a Saturn V launching to the moon.

You may look at your project and think, "I'm never going to make it. I'll never finish." Please, I urge you to set these thoughts aside and push through. Think about the analogy of building a wall. A wall is built one brick at a time. Watch a mason build a wall one day. You will observe that he or she lays one brick at a time.

This is how you have to view your project. Sure, it would be amazing to have an entire day, every day to devote to your project. However, the reality is that most of us simply do not have that luxury. So, strive to think of it as a mason: lay one brick at a time, and eventually the wall will be built. Every character that you type into Xcode, Visual Studio, etc. turns into a keyword, a variable name, etc... that subsequently turns into a line. Those lines build up, day by day, and before you know it, you have a program, and you look back and think, "Wow, why did I ever think I could not finish?"

Also, let go of "Internet Time." That is to say, we all read HN and see these impressive "Show HN" posts, and submitted stories about the Next Big Thing... and it seems like things are happening so fast, and we think, "Why even try?" Well, the reality is nothing is happening fast. It is an illusion. Most all of these stories have an incredible amount of time and work behind them, so let go of that illusion, get started, and stay focused.

"There's only this moment and the next moment. Every one of those moments is a test that you get to take one time and only one time." [1]

Strive to drive through each moment. Make it count.

You have to fight. This is paramount. I will say it again... you have to fight! What I mean here is fighting by engaging your Will. Engage your will to get up, to get moving. Engage your will to eat right, to exercise and go to bed on time so that you have the energy to get up and bring it.

What you are going through is what we are all going through; that is to say, we are all grinding, whether it be in a start-up business, or washing the dishes by day as we bootstrap a start-up at night; we are all struggling, fighting to drive our dreams into existence. We are all struggling in some way, whether it be through failure, health issues, personal issues, family issues, etc. No one is immune from the grip of suffering through his or her struggles.

You are not alone.

Embrace the grind. Vince Lombardi said it best:

"And in truth, I've never known a man worth his salt who, in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather... a lack of will."

You have to use the will to fight those thoughts that say, "I'm getting older. I'm failing. I'm not motivated. I can't finish."

The clock is ticking for all of us... fight! You never know where your work will take you. Do not forget that, you have to dream it first in your mind before you can see it in your life. And to see it in your life, you must work. You may not be able to see things clearly now, but you never know what doors could open for you that you did not even know existed.

Ang Lee, the Taiwanese film director and screenwriter that directed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi, discusses his struggles to break into film. I urge you to read it:

http://whatshihsaid.com/2013/02/26/ang-lee-a-never-ending-dr...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBLV6RG4TwY

2
visakanv 23 hours ago 5 replies      
I relate to this, too. Here's some stuff that I read recently that helped me a little:

"When you are young, beginning new projects is easy and finishing them is hard. As you grow older, beginnings get harder, but finishing gets easier. At least, that has been my experience. I think it is true of anyone of at least average intelligence, creativity and emotional resilience. The reason is simple.

When you are young, the possibilities ahead of you, and the time available to explore them, seem nearly infinite. When you try to start something, the energizing creative phase, (which comes with internal brain-chemistry rewards on a fast feedback-loop), gives way to exhausting detail-oriented work, maintenance work, and unsatisfying overhead work. You need to get through these to bank distant external rewards (money and such) that only come with completion. It is then that you are most vulnerable to the allure of exciting new beginnings. So you abandon things halfway. You bank the internal rewards of beginning, but not the external rewards of finishing.

But with age, this changes.

As you grow older, the history of a few completed projects and many abandoned ones in your past starts to loom oppressively in your memory. The early internal rewards of many beginnings are now a distant memory that offer no pleasure in the present. The external rewards of completed projects, which tend to continue to yield dividends (such as completed degrees, financial rewards) loom larger all around you: wealth, strong relationships and perhaps most importantly, an earned ability to see the world differently as the result of having been through many completions.

When a new opportunity opens up at 35, you evaluate it differently than you did at 25. You are able to estimate how long it will take, what the journey will feel like, what the early pleasure and distant pain will feel like, and what getting it done will feel like. You are able to react psychologically to the whole prospect in the form of a narrative that extends beyond the finish line, as a systematic leveling-up of your life. You see the transient pleasures of beginnings diminish to nothing in the far future and the enduring rewards of finishing as a steady source of dividends extending out beyond the horizon."

- http://www.tempobook.com/2014/01/13/when-finishing-is-easier...

3
kadabra9 23 hours ago 2 replies      
You wanna know the saddest part of my day?

When I'm moving around my laptop, and pop into the "projects" folder and see what a graveyard it has become. Dozens of half baked projects that seemed brilliant at the time, that I either lost interest in, decided the concept was too difficult, or (and this is the worst one) let my self doubt convince me that it would never work. The really sad part is, every now and then I'll go back in and check out these projects and a lot of the code and design is actually pretty good. I ask myself, "Why did I think this sucked again?"

The best analogy I can make to this scenario is the self doubt that cripples many writers setting out to finish a book, screenplay, or novel. It's almost as if you tell yourself that the script sucks, to give you a reason not to finish it and move on to something cooler next week. As a writer, what's the best way to overcome this? Just FINISH the god damned first draft. Roll up your sleeves, commit an hour (or two or three) every day to working on this project, and slog through it until you type "FADE OUT" (or "The End") or (if you're coding) make that glorious commit to polish off your project.

No matter how much the project, script or book sucks, there are few feelings of satisfaction that match that.

4
agentultra 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Look at my github and know that I have more repositories on other services and thrice as many on my hard-drive that are unfinished, incomplete duds. I recently reached a milestone: I went from an idea for a book to a self-published, printed title in 3 months. I went to a festival that was mostly focused on comics and video games and sold six copies of my book. It was awesome. Here's the rub: I'm not finished yet.

You're never finished until you stop what you're doing. A writer may "finish" a book but ei has to start another or they've "finished" writing. However for every book they finish how many incomplete, half-baked ideas do you think they've run through? Is every idea they have golden and worth pouring months and years of effort into? No.

Some ideas deserve to die.

But once you've found that one worth pursuing there's nothing to do but roll up your sleeves and put in the time. You will vacillate between euphoria and despair. You may come to regret ever starting and hate yourself. But if it means anything you will force yourself to press on through those darkest moments. And before you know it you'll be done... and ready for the next project. Creativity isn't the rush you feel when you have a good idea and dream about conquering the world: it's process and discipline. It's writing 1500, 2000 words a day no matter what.

I find it helps to have someone to nudge you onward. An editor, a mentor... someone you can discuss the project with who has an objective opinion. They will help you in that moment when you're thinking of giving up.

5
bruceb 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Reminded me of this story:http://www.leanexpertise.com/TPMONLINE/articles_on_total_pro...

One day a management consultant, Ivy Lee, called on Schwab of the Bethlehem Steel Company. Lee outlined briefly his firm's services, ending with the statement: "With our service, you'll know how to manage better."

The indignant Schwab said, "I'm not managing as well now as I know how. What we need around here is not more "knowing" but more doing, not knowledge but action; if you can give us something to pep us up to do the things we ALREADY KNOW we ought to do, I'll gladly listen to you and pay you anything you ask."

"Fine", said Lee. "I can give you something in twenty minutes that will step up your action and doing at least 50 percent".

"O.K.", said Schwab. "I have just about that much time before I must leave to catch a train. What's your idea?"

Lee pulled a bland 3x5 note sheet out of his pocket, handed it to Schwab and said: "Write on this sheet the six most important tasks you have to do tomorrow". That took about three minutes. "Now", said Lee, "number them in the order of their importance". Five more minutes passed. "Now", said Lee, "put this sheet in you pocket and the first thing tomorrow morning look at item one and start working on it. Pull the sheet out of your pocket every 15 or 20 minutes and look at item one until it is finished. Then tackle item two in the same way, then item three. Do this until quitting time. Don't be concerned if you only finished two or three, or even if you only finish one item. You'll be working on the important ones. The others can wait. If you can't finish them all by this method, you couldn't with any other method either, and without some system you'd probably not even decide which are most important".

"Spend the last five minutes of every working day making out a 'must' list for the next day's tasks. After you've convinced yourself of the worth of this system have your men try it. Try it out as long as you wish and then send me a check for what YOU think it's worth".

The whole interview lasted about twenty-five minutes. In two weeks Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000 - a thousand dollars a minute. He added a note saying the lesson was the most profitable from a money standpoint he had every learned. Did it work? In five years it turned the unknown Bethlehem Steel Company into the biggest independent steel producer in the world; made Schwab a hundred million dollar fortune, and the best known steel man alive at that time.

6
equalarrow 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, great post. Who isn't guilty or fallen prey to this?

The few projects I've finished, they've always been for-pay. Either contracting or as an employee. For my own, almost none.

However. A little over two years ago, I started coding an edu-based app that a friend and I designed (he's the biz side). I was gonna become a father and I thought, what better space to be in since I'm going to be dealing with it in the coming years.

Typical story, coded nights, mornings, weekends. After the baby came, coded less but still the same schedule. We launched the site last fall. And then.. we started having having users saying our site was too complicated, the change log and bug list kept growing. So, this thing I had worked on for so long and pushed into existence by sheer will, just burned me out.

I walked away for a few months and even though we were making almost $1k/mo, I felt it not worth my time anymore. But now, in the past week, I'm changing my tune.

At my day job, we're going thru the final phases of closing on m&a suitors. At first I thought this was awesome, but then looking at the suitors jobs list and reading them, I realized none of them are interesting. Do I want to code day an night? No. Do I want to spend all my day at an office? No. Do I want to help push someone else's dream closer to IPO? No.

I realized after this that I already have the dream (work-wise). We have edu partners lined up, some good potential biz deals, and it's all hinging on just spending a few weeks and fixing things. But having a family, working for something for a long time and not really seeing the reward (yet) - it's hard to keep going thru it all. But, I visualized and thought about "what would it be like to sit at my desk (anywhere I want) and keep making the thing I built better?".

This is the only thing I have ever 'finished' (will it ever be) and I think looking back, I did it all for the right reasons and kept pushing forward. Regardless what anyone else said about it (almost all the responses about the site were positive).

For me, in the end it is about doing what you love, channeling your passion to reach the goal(s). Goal 1 - launching it - reached, done. Goal 2 - helping people enjoy using it - restarted.

Lesson learned: don't give up. Every hour makes a difference.

7
eddieroger 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I immediately commiserated with this article when I saw the headline, because I have the same problem. I wish the resolution of the blog post was something other than "break the big thing in to little bits and do those" - something that I've known for a long time. For me, the most successful thing I've come across, and coincidentally the hardest part to change, was not being a perfectionist and just getting to MVP. Sometimes you have to say no, and just finish.
8
delinka 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a similar process to the author, but I get further. Must have a name! Is it available everywhere? Once I've settled some of that detail, it's on to the code with the basic features.

I'll need a database (and thus a schema), and a REST API, and security considerations ... that's all fine. Start actually writing and testing and OH BOY another feature idea! Write it down for later, continue back where I was. But that new feature will require this change to the current design. And to do that now I have to change this other part and ... repeat until I give up.

tl;dr: feature creep kills me, even with my own ideas. I cannot just Let It Be and produce a 1.0 with minimal features.

9
ChuckMcM 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I like to pursue ideas enough to validate if they really are "easy" or "hard." That helps me think about if they are worth pursuing. If they are "easy" I try to figure out what the other people who had this idea got hung up on, if they are "hard" I try to figure out if the hardness is intrinsic to the problem or the approach. I think of this as sort of the 'minimum work' to do on any new idea. Just having an idea and writing it into my notebook doesn't count :-)
10
JelteF 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very recognizable. I have had this a lot, but accidentily I had an idea 2 days ago that I have put more time in already than any other of my fun plans or cool projects.

It's called PyLaTeX [1], it's a Python interface for LaTeX that supports creating documents and snippets. One of the coolest features I think is the conversion of NumPy matrices to LaTeX ones.

The HN new page [2] is just a bit rough on someone posting that doesn't know a lot of people that can upvote it, reddit [3] was a lot more forgiving.

[1] https://github.com/JelteF/PyLaTeX

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7075212

[3] http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/1vcqxw/pylatex_...

11
whizzkid 23 hours ago 4 replies      
It was the same for me for several ideas/projects that i started with.

Then i realised what was the reason makes me not touching the project after a while...

The first steps are always known and can be done by almost everyone.

- Buy the domain

- Construct the idea

- Even, start coding the project

And here comes the reasons why you slowly starting not to touch the project anymore;

- You realise that you are not sure how to deploy this on production.

- You realise that you will need a business model and you are just a developer/designer and have no idea about those.

- Then comes the tax issues, and realisation that you need a company.

- You don't know how to licence your idea/project

I can list some more but these are just enough to make you feel that you need to find some people to help you which is not free but expensive unless you have friends that are expert in those areas.

Yep, you give up the project...

12
orblivion 8 hours ago 0 replies      
After working at a startup I started to not feel so bad about this. And/or I set my sights lower as far as putting in all required features, but putting higher stress on actually delivering what's important, and polish.

For instance, I made a podcast downloader as a Haskell learning project. I haven't goften around to making it delete old files. Meh. The interface is good, it is reliable and fast. I'll just clean it out manually now and then. Or maybe get to it later if I feel like it. A few years ago this might have been hanging over my head as a failure.

13
JoachimS 3 hours ago 0 replies      
For me gamification works. I'm a sucker for the stats Github can display for a project. And keeping that streak going.

I've started to throw all my embarrasing, childish project onto github. If someone files a comment regarding how bad something is - great, then I have something concrete to fix.

And having a lot of projects open means there is always something easy to fix to keep the streak going. Suddenly projects move forward, albeit one small commit at a time.

This way I have actually completed more projects in years.

14
chipsy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I only have starting problems. Right now my starting problem is the laundry. I abandon a lot of stuff, but only because I've built enough of it to see the flaws. I don't see that as a problem. It looks like a problem if you predicate the goal on external societal factors like "get attention/money," because a thing has to be finished (to some degree) to be part of society. But we already know that the external stuff is a poor motivator.

So stop beating yourself up about finishing. Play in society and worry about things when you feel it's necessary, but if it's your private, creative work, that is the time to be bold and selfish. Don't try to fit in for the sake of it, do things because you want them. You shouldn't care about "finished", because you should be engrossed in the act of creation.

15
tlarkworthy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like the building things. I finish building them too. Unfortunately, that isn't the job done. You then have to promote it and get users. That is harder than the building stage.

Christ you are in for a shock if you think the immediate step after reserving social media handles is the hard bit...

16
tunesmith 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This might be a bit cogsci, but one thing that has really helped me over the years is to switch my mental language away from statements like "I never finish anything", to statements like "I have had trouble finishing things in the past."

The first is a static judgment I am applying to myself, and it's a definitional straitjacket. The second is simply an observation, and it leaves room and opportunity for positive change.

When we tell ourselves we "are" certain things or "always/never do" certain things, we are defining ourselves in a way that makes it harder to change, due to the reinforcement.

At this point, I pretty much automatically recognize negative "judgments" and do the translation... I think it helps a lot.

17
nathan_f77 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I finally managed to finish one! http://www.youshouldbuythese.com

I think the secret to a successful side-project is deciding on an MVP that can be built in a single weekend. I've found that I'm also much more likely to keep iterating on a project if it's already in a 'finished' state.

I seem to run out of steam or lost interest in my more ambitious side-projects, where working for a whole weekend will only get you 10% closer to a finished product.

18
Edmond 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It could have something to do with the reason you wanted to start a project in the first place.

If you start a project just to play with some new shinny framework/tech then it is likely that once the novelty wears off nothing of interest would remain.

If however you start a project because you are excited about some product vision that doesn't already exist or not in the form you've envision then the drive to bring that idea/vision to fruition can be a powerful motivator.

I wrote a blog post on this matter some time back:http://colabopad.blogspot.com/2009/12/on-joys-of-creativity-...

19
Kiro 1 day ago 0 replies      
> check the availability of urls and social media accounts

Are people really checking the availability on social media? I know that if I get the .com I want nothing else matters and the social media handles can be anything.

I know the feeling anyway! The initial excitement and the downfall.

20
mathattack 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I absolutely love these, "Get off of HN and get some work done" posts that get voted to the top of HN. Are we heroin addicts that know what's bad for us? :-)
21
mbrock 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Nobody ever finishes anything. Have you ever heard about a finished project? Linus Torvalds hasn't "finished" Linux yet. But it's certainly out there it's alive!

I don't think "man, I'm so far from being finished." That's just a demotivating way to see your project. The big milestone is having something that's useful enough for people to be interested in, no?

22
jjoe 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly this is why employers and early investors give preference to Ivy League graduates. That's likely because the programs ensure graduates are most likely to push the bar higher and achieve. But those who make the exception list (achievers non-league) turn out to be even stronger achievers because their determination comes from deep within rather than from training.

Disclosure: I'm not a leaguer.

23
hawkharris 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Great ideas are like juggling clubs. You can keep two or three of them in flight if your coordination is good enough. Add more than that to your routine and you'll probably get smacked in the face.
24
easy_rider 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm going to finish my beer right now.
25
smoyer 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with advice that you should document your idea in your notebook, but don't put any immediate effort into implementing it. The ideas you keep coming back to are the ones that you're truly interested in ... and yet you still have to be careful that those are viable ideas.

In any case, rushing after each new idea is a great way to spend time, but you need that time to be executing on the few ideas you actually choose to pursue.

26
standup75 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I experienced this. I have a lot of started projects on my mac. Some i spent a few days on, other i spent a few months. In 2011 I started a game and that was the first project I finished (spiderdash.net). Although not really finished, but close enough. It took me over a year, and I really like it. What I realized, is that I do love the execution actually, but I am too unsure of the potential to focus on anything else, that is sales and marketing. So in the past 6 months I started building the ideas of my friends, I get them engaged because it's their ideas, and I get to do just the execution with the right amount of freedom. If you're like me, do things, but do it with someone else. The other good part about this is that you're going to create a unique mix of competencies. My friends are not developers, but they also are subject matter experts. So we are mixing 2 very different kind of expertise, and that's rich.
27
avighnay 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Excited, dive right in, run the tutorial, get to the first block, (optional - google try 1, google try 2) and yawnnnnn, next please...

This one has a reverse interest for most entrepreneurs, how do you get your product past the initial excitement and impending boredom of the customer?

28
billnguyen 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I struggle with this too, my github/bitbucket is a barren wasteland of half finished products. I believe that its fully a mindset thing and realize that success is not an accident nor some ephemeral spark of genius. Success is a a choice, every day.

I find this YT video on Steph Curry to be an amazing story of how success is built by they choices we make every day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riy59ubGJiU

'Are the habits you have for today on par with the dreams you have for tomorrow?' Not yet... but its getting there.

29
krrishd 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one of the biggest things that causes is losing faith in your idea. No matter how good it is, the more you think about it without doing anything to go along with the thinking, your brain will naturally find minute flaws in the idea, making you move on.
30
rajbala 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I no longer care about what people think. I care that I may not get enough people to think anything at all.
31
jlwarren1 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I started to read this article, but I gave up about half way through.
32
ipetepete 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I read somewhere recently that if you fantasize/talk about your ideas/goals it triggers your brain to let you feel a similar satisfaction for actually accomplishing the said idea/goal. Of course now I can't find the article so take it with a grain of salt.

I did find this article which is related

http://blog.bufferapp.com/how-our-brains-stop-us-achieving-o...

33
bartl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's the "doing things" that I have least trouble with. It's the other things, the things that he does first, that I have trouble with.
34
iterable 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's why investors put so much weight on the team. Execution is 90%. We've all heard this endless times. But it really hits you in the face when you actually do a startup. A team that can't execute will probably f*ck up a great idea, whereas a team that can execute can do wonders with a mediocre idea
36
marsay 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This article gave me idea for a new project. Yes, it's all clear in my head and I have to start working on it right now and abandon all other projects.

A site where you take responsibility for finishing your project. If you don't, you will pay heavy price. Lets say we will spam your inbox with a thousands of letters that remind you of your promises.

37
duochrome 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I've finished something before. It pays back somehow.

But now I barely working on anything. I admit I don't like any work at all. Working for Google or SpaceX? No.

I think we want to finish something because we are not satisfied with our current life. If you feel your current status is okay, it's not easy to get motived to put yourself into some extra work.

38
brennanm 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Same way. I'm a 30%'er. I'll do the name, branding, front end mockups... but then I'll lose it. I wont want to dive into the back and write any backend or server code.

That's why you need a team. Everyone has optimistic days and pessimistic days. On a good team you all wont have them at exactly the same time. You're team will push you through and help you finish.

39
the_cat_kittles 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I think "finishing" something means accepting its flaws (which will always be there) ...that makes it psychologically difficult.
40
elwell 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What does "anyth" mea
41
Gaurav322 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It is really motivating article and today, I am going to generate a best marketing strategy for tumblr and try to execute that. (only one as you say)...
42
melling 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"Real artists ship."
43
hiccup 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it awful that I didn't finish reading his post?
44
cusx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
great timely post! thank you !
10
SICP in Clojure sicpinclojure.com
120 points by bernatfp  16 hours ago   41 comments top 13
2
Nimi 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm trying to get my faculty to switch to SICP as the intro to programming course, instead of a planned migration to Python (I'm at the EE department, which is completely separate from CS). Can anyone think of good arguments in favor, which may convince the professors?

So far, my main "ammunition" is Dijkstra's argument that "it provides an environment that discourages operational reasoning":

http://chrisdone.com/posts/dijkstra-haskell-java

3
dschiptsov 11 hours ago 3 replies      
The irony is that in Clojure the classic, naive non-tail-recursive factorial procedure from SICP will first result in an Overflow Exception and then in Stack Overflow, while any other Schemes or Lisps could do (fact 1024) easily.

Don't tell me that I should use some bigint type, the whole big idea behind the numeric tower is to do not bother with types.

4
username223 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember when "SICP in X" was a thing some years ago. I thought I might as well do a version in a language I use, so I found a text version of the exercises and got to work. I lasted all of 1.5 chapters before passing out from boredom. If translating a bunch of examples of what you can do with lexical scope and singly-linked lists is your thing, go for it, but I'll pass.
5
ivan_ah 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Also matching the RE "SICP in *" we have Martin Henz's JavaScript clone of the first few chapters of SICP: http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~cs1101s/sicp/

A (slightly) more readable version is available here:http://ivanistheone.github.io/SICPapp/

6
bernatfp 15 hours ago 6 replies      
Does Clojure differ a lot from Scheme for what SICP teaches? Is there any benefit for studying the Clojure version of SICP, rather than the original?
7
billsix 9 hours ago 0 replies      
but would the metacircular evaluator fit on a chalkboard?

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-comput...

8
ardz 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Clojure joke:

'knock knock!'

- Who's there?

'minute of silence'

'Knock Knock!'

- Who's there!?

'another minute of silence'

- Java

- Why did you knock twice?

- I didn't, but some other suspicious guy is standing here with raised arm and mouth open.

Based on my recent Clojure on Android experience.

9
mebassett 13 hours ago 0 replies      
if you're in london and working through/thinking about reading/interested in/heard about sicp, let me just shamelessly plug my group here: http://www.meetup.com/London-SICP-Study-Group/

(we use racket)

10
ocfx 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I've seen this project before, it's been around and incomplete for a long time. Is someone still working on it?
11
djKianoosh 15 hours ago 0 replies      
holy comment spam batman!well that's a shame...
12
elwell 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"You should not be here yet."
13
radious 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Where is the coin slot so I can put some money into this awesome project?
11
Keyboard innovation is making them worse arstechnica.com
101 points by omnibrain  15 hours ago   167 comments top 36
1
moonboots 14 hours ago 5 replies      
Caps lock should not be changed despite it's ostensible uselessness. Programmers often remap caps lock (I personally use this tool [1]), and it's nice to have a big target for the pinky. Remapping is of course possible with these new keyboards, but the split key design that replaces caps lock leaves a much smaller target. In addition, I'm sure there are hunt and peck typists that still legitimately use caps locks instead of shift because it requires less coordination and hand contortions, so leaving caps lock alone also has accessibility benefits.

One area where keyboard designers aren't innovating enough is the spacebar. The left 2/3 of the space bar is rarely used by most touch typists and hogs very accessible real estate. I like how Microsoft split the spacebar on their new keyboard [2] and replaced the left half with backspace, the most commonly typed (but normally most hard to reach) key.

I'm disappointed to see thinkpad/lenovo make these mistakes given their reputation for quality laptop keyboards. I personally use an x230 [3], which has a similar chiclet keyboard as the x1 carbon in the article without the transgressions.

[1] https://github.com/alols/xcape

[2] http://techland.time.com/2012/09/20/new-microsoft-keyboard-s...

[3] http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/x-series/x230/

2
loup-vaillant 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hail to the dinosaurs! Seriously, this mentality is the main reason why keyboard aren't improving. Dvorak was right: "I'm tired of trying to do something worthwhile for the human race, they simply don't want to change!"

> The benefits of the Dvorak layout aren't well proven (if they exist at all), but some people find the layout more comfortable to use.

The benefits are obvious and well established. Only irrational fools and extreme believers in the so called "efficient market" would believe otherwise. It just have a learning curve, which most people don't want to suffer. Some people find Dvorak more comfortable? Come on, nearly everyone who has tried it for over a month would reckon it's more comfortable.

> Good keyboards are standard keyboards.

No. This is a good keyboard: http://ergodox.org/ This is an okay keyboard: http://typematrix.com/ I have tried that one myself, and got used to its layout in a couple hours. And I touch type too.) If we switch to such layouts overnight, people would complain for a few months, then forget about it. I even suspect that after the fact, most would mock the silliness of keeping the staggered design even though the keyboards were no longer mechanical.

> Good keyboards are [] keyboards that [] let me switch effortlessly to other systems.

Oh, you're the rare breed who use several systems regularly? I suggest you buy a keyboard you like, and plug it to those various systems. Unless you're an even rarer bread who cannot even even plug external keyboards to his computers for security reasons.

3
acabal 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I passed over buying an X1 Carbon for a few reasons, but I always check the keyboard of a potential purchase for the pgup/pgdown/home/end keys on the right-hand column. Modern ultrabooks got rid of them (despite there often being more than enough space for them) and it makes me really mad. Those are super-useful keys for coders and also for general web navigation.

After reading this article, I went back to take a closer look at the X1 keyboard, and actually gasped. No hardware Fn keys? Home/end replacing Caps (which I remap to ctrl)? Backspace/del next to each other? What were they thinking??

I'm so glad I didn't do an impulse buy on the X1, because my mind doesn't think to inspect the keyboard so closely. I would have returned it 10 seconds after opening the box. I'm going to have to look very closely now at the keyboards of new laptops I'm thinking of buying.

4
JoshTriplett 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Killing caps lock makes perfect sense, especially if it's still around as a shift-lock. Putting Home and End there is not the craziest thing I've seen done with it. (I personally remap it to a larger logo key, and use that with my window manager, but the X1 Carbon actually has a decent-size logo key to use for that.)

However, the soft function key row is crazy. It completely breaks touch-typing; if I wanted that, I'd use a tablet. Likewise, putting Delete to the right of backspace makes backspace a smaller target to hit, and it's a very frequently used key. Moving the `~ key is the kind of thing done by folks who think "Oh, nobody ever uses that", and who don't understand that keys used by 5% of typists are still critically important. (Both for people who need to type "jalapeo" and people who need to type ~/Downloads/foo .)

More importantly, there's no tradeoff here: this makes it worse for the loyal ThinkPad users, but doesn't actually make it proportionally better for others. And even if it did, that kind of consumer-targeted optimization is for consumer laptops like IdeaPad, not business laptops like ThinkPad.

5
brudgers 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Until I started using EMACS I would have thought the author's argument was a slam dunk four star lock. Now I realize that habits are habits because they're habits, not because they are the right way of doing something.

We are more flexible than our machines, and though it might take a day or two to figure out home` and `end`, a laptop is a tool that one uses for years.

6
dman 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Also of note - if youre buying a 15 inch pc laptop you now get a numeric keyboard by default whether you want it or not. This also has the side effect of making the keyboard and mousepad layout assymetric since the keyboard and mousepad are now pushed to the left to make way for the numeric keypad on the right. The only two machines I know that dont do this are the dell xps 15 and the dell m3800 but both of them are > 1800$s. Quest for the perfect laptop continues.

EDIT: other major quibble - backspace needs to be the right most key without any nearby power / other buttons. When I violently hit backspace to delete code that I know is wrong I dont want embarassments like hitting delete instead or powering off my machine.

7
jakub_g 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Since we're bashing on laptop keyboards, I hate with passion all the layouts that put FN key in the bottom left corner instead of CTRL. It's far easier to reach the button in the very corner and I use CTRL order of magnitude more often than FN.

Also it seems that for each producer, half of the laptops have FN and the other half have CTRL in the corner which just adds confusion when you're using someone else's machine.

Can someone persuade me to the superiority of FN-in-the corner?

8
nextos 15 hours ago 8 replies      
I think Lenovo is slowly abandoning what used to be the niche Thinkpad had filled in: great laptops for developers. There might be some good opportunities for startups. It's really frustrating to see that nothing ticks all boxes these days:

* 4:3 high-res matte screen (like Chromebook Pixel or some old IBMs)

* Good mechanical keyboard which includes insert, delete, begin, and end

* Robust case with serviceable Linux-friendly components

* Trackpoint

I'd really pay a high premium for a well-executed laptop with these features, and many people I know would do as well.

9
dasil003 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There's nothing wrong with keyboard innovation, the problem is with commodity laptop manufacturers trying to innovate in an integrated device. The important differentiators on laptop are numerous: form-factor, specs, screen, etc. Even keyboard quality is a big factor, so trying to get clever with the layout and soft keys is just begging to throw a deal breaker in.

What laptop manufacturers should be doing is following Apple's lead and standardizing heavily across their entire line and keeping that reasonably in line with national keyboard standards.

Leave the layout innovation to external keyboard manufacturers where there is an opportunity to make drastic changes and sell them based on the strength of that innovation alone. Later the best of the innovations can trickle their way back into laptops.

10
freyrs3 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm really not pleased with what Lenovo is doing with the x230 and x240. The old Thinkpad keyboards used to be the a huge selling point for the X series line and now that they've gone chiclet keyboards like everyone else it's almost enough to make me want to shop around for a new Linux laptop.
11
mcantelon 3 hours ago 0 replies      
When I saw this article I thought of the X1 before reading it. The X1 looks decent, other than the wacky keyboard and the non-removable battery. A big part of the Thinkpad brand is the fact they have good keyboards.
12
zackbloom 15 hours ago 3 replies      
The only argument is: "We should have a Caps Lock key above Shift cause that's what we've always had".

It only takes a few days to get used to a new keyboard, and it seems like, for people who aren't used to rebinding keys, this could be a huge improvement. Caps lock is like the penny, not all that useful in the modern world.

13
lucb1e 2 hours ago 1 reply      
My father bought a Lenovo Thinkpad last week. One evening we were installing and configuring some more things on the laptop, and at some point he mentions that it's annoying that the keyboard has no printscreen button which he had needed that day.

This was the first thing I noticed when the laptop arrived, so I pointed out to him that the PrtScn button is between AltGr and the right ctrl key. We both shook our heads at that.

Nice try at keyboard innovation, Lenovo.

14
keithg 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Got a laptop recently for a new project. All of my colleagues raved about Lenovo. I went with a Lenovo ThinkPad W530.

Great machine, right? I hate it. I hate it because they put the Fn key in the lower, left and moved the Ctrl key. Now I have to think every time I need to hit the Ctrl key!

15
sanoli 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Google japanese keyboard layouts. They have always been like this. It always made sense to me, as I touch type. I once bought a japanese thinkpad just because of this.
16
jseliger 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Incidentally, the only keyboard "innovation" I've used and liked is the Kinesis Advantage (which I wrote about here: http://jseliger.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/further-thoughts-on... ). But the Advantage is a standalone keyboard, which makes it inherently easy to ditch for anyone who doesn't like it. At $300 it's also a niche product only likely to appeal to people who type a lotusually meaning programmers and writers.

Among laptops, I think Peter Bright is right: path dependence dictates that the more standardized a keyboard is, the better. I actually prefer the old-school Thinkpad keys to the newer Apple chiclet keys, but that difference is pretty small.

17
chx 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a Lenovo T420 the last of laptops whose keyboard was fair and free erm where was I yes? so the last laptop with a decent keyboard. However, someone reports http://forum.thinkpads.com/viewtopic.php?f=45&t=104797#p7197... a T410 transplant into a T430 I wonder whether such a feat is possible into the T440p...
18
gaius 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You won't go wrong with a Cherry keyboard, German quality, same keyswitches that were used on the perfect machine, the BBC Micro.
19
xiaomai 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to replace my first-gen Thinkpad Carbon with the newer model (wanted the hi-res screen and better battery life), but this keyboard is a complete dealbreaker. Like the author, I am distressed at the removal of the caps-lock key (I remap mine). The ~/` key move is plain weird (it was bad enough when they moved print screen down there (I kept accidentally taking screenshots)). Lenovo, please fix your keyboard!
20
Too 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's also missing the context menu button. The one usually located between the altgr and ctrl on the right side. This key is very important if you don't want to use the mouse as it's equivalent of right clicking.
21
zwieback 15 hours ago 0 replies      
For true "innovation" you can always go the Twiddler (http://www.handykey.com/) route. I've got one of the original models but have never actually tried it.

Supposedly this is something the guys at Xerox Parc were excited about and it's based on the much older idea of a chorded keyboard.

22
brudgers 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I am reminded of Xah Lee's page on all things keyboard:

http://xahlee.info/kbd/keyboarding.html

23
kristianp 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with this article, standardisation of keyboard layouts would be better. If there was an industry organisation that got companies together to agree on things, the situation might be much better, although I don't hold out much hope for home and end!

I feel that a lot of people copy apple because it's designs and hardware are great, but they copy things that aren't really that good at all, such as removing Home and End keys. I like to call this cargo-cult design, people blindly change things to the apple way for no clear reason. I'm looking at you gnome 3.

Here are my personal preferences. I don't really care about caps-lock, but I do use it occasionally. I'm more likely to go back and use a keyboard shortcut to change a whole word to upper-case when doing sql programming.

I personally want the 6 delete-insert-home-end-pgup-pgdn buttons separate in a way that mirrors the desktop pc keyboard. I quite liked this layout from microsoft keyboards of about 8 years ago which has gone out of fashion:

    Home End    Ins  Pgup    Del  Pgdn
I want the arrow keys to have spacing around them so I can feel the triangle without looking at them, no pgup or pgdn touching them, just a gap.

I want a laptop keyboard that is sufficiently close to the desktop keyboard that I don't have to adjust as much as I currently do. My T410 isn't too bad in that respect, except for the arrow keys as mentioned above.

24
klazutin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is so odd how people can unknowingly create difficulties for someone else. Remapping Caps lock to switching input language has probably been the most useful thing I've done to improve my computing productivity (followed closely by Linux and tiling wms).

What used to require weird combinations like Control-Shift, or worse Shift-Alt (windows default which triggers window's menu half the time) now takes only a quick flick of my left little finger. Typing even the most technical texts with English words in every sentence has been easy and effortless ever since. And now Lenovo is taking this away from me by removing the Caps lock key from what otherwise looks like an absolutely perfect laptop. This is such a shame.

25
zobzu 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"good keyboards are standard keyboards" <= that
26
pasbesoin 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Personal pitch: Get rid of the "ginormous" f-ing shelves that push sharp front edges (yes, get rid of those, too) into the users' wrists, especially when working mobile at a table or workspace whose height and resultant forearm position cannot be optimized.

Some of us still need to do significant amounts of, you know, typing, which is one reason we are on a laptop and not a tablet or whatever.

If you're going to stick a keyboard on your device, make it comfortable and ergonomic.

/grump

27
tobyjsullivan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's cool if you don't like the new keyboard layout. As programmers, we need to use special keys and caps lock a lot. But to say Lenovo is doing it wrong is clearly missing the simple fact that they might not be building these things for programmers.

They're building for the other 99.9% of the population that doesn't need caps lock, insert, bars and back-ticks ever. People who don't use function keys regularly and who, quite frankly, find "standard" keyboards incredibly awkward.

Couple this with the fact that laptops have always lacked the real-estate for a full keyboard and I have to disagree with the author. This is certainly a positive evolution, just maybe not for programmers.

28
mcphage 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> I'm not going to pretend that the Break key is a key you use every single day, but it's not useless, either. For example, Windows' ping command, when used with the -t switch (endless pinging until stopped) lets you type Ctrl-Break to print the current stats without ending the pinging (as opposed to Ctrl-c, which prints stats and ends the pinging). This isn't the most important thing ever, but it's nonetheless useful to be able to do.

It might be useful sometimes, but is it useful enough to justify a key on everybody's keyboard, all the time? No.

29
muaddirac 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is about laptop keyboards, but there is a huge diy scene around improving keyboards. I have an ErgoDox (http://ergodox.org/) which is very well thought out and open source (and people are iterating on it - see: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=44940.0
30
blacksmith_tb 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm, it has a much better left-control than most Thinkpads (which tend to cram fn down there, not an issue with this design). And good riddance to capslock - I'm not sure that home/end are the perfect replacement, but they're both much more useful. And honestly, the placement of home/end insert/delete etc. varies significantly from keyboard to keyboard, and we somehow manage to adapt...
31
hibbelig 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They took away the Ctrl key to the left of A!
32
cnlwsu 15 hours ago 0 replies      
In my opinion, the Home/End keys instead of caps lock would actually be pretty nice. I have a tendency to just remove the caps lock key (on mechanical) since the only time I use it is by accident.
33
tnash 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think an important point here is that these aren't really "innovations". It's stripping features to make keyboards more compact. Keyboards are certainly a technology that could be improved. What about a touch screen split keyboard mouse combo that could take 10-finger multitouch and also give incredible haptic feedback that let you "feel" the keys?
34
kunai 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a huge opportunity for Dell on their portable machines. As far as I know, Dell is practically the only OEM that hasn't royally screwed up their professional-grade notebooks. The M4800 is a beauty extremely powerful, and fantastic to use. The keyboard isn't as good as it used to be, but it's still a traditional, non-Dentyne (yes, chiclet keys type like Dentyne) canted design, with a numpad, but a good keyboard nonetheless. It has a TrackPoint, which isn't as good as the previous model ThinkPads but is now much better because Lenovo have somehow decided that their sole purpose of existence is to copy Apple and "unify" shit that didn't need to be messed around with. I hate to play stereotypes here, but it was kind of expected from a Chinese company. Their pants-on-head retarded marketing videos and even their products for example, the Yoga tablet copies iOS 7 icons and iOS 6 dock... wtf, and the marketing video for the new X1 is blatant Ive-hyperbolic. The marketing and hyperbole has long stopped working for Apple (thus the Designed in Cali bullshit), what the HELL were Lenovo thinking?

Dell isn't perfect. They have horrible QC and design issues on their lower-end products, and the Precision machines aren't cheap. But they're solid and well-built with a ton of features, good battery life, good keyboards, decent pointing devices.

If they put in a 3:2, high-density display, 7-row keyboard, Topre short-throw switches, and a nipple mouse that's less recessed, and market it like mad, it would be the perfect machine, one I would pay for and a lot of professionals, too.

35
dcotter 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I would like to see keyboards with flexible layouts, where you could reconfigure the positions and sizes of the keys as you choose, so that if you wanted to replace half the spacebar with backspace or move the numbers from the top row to a 3x3 grid on the far side of the keyboard, you could do that. Hackable keyboards, in essence.
36
trustyhank 15 hours ago 3 replies      
The Apple laptop keyboards are pretty fantastic.
12
Termcoin A Bitcoin wallet for your terminal github.com
58 points by chjj  11 hours ago   25 comments top 15
1
sigil 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Careful using this, I'd personally wait until a proper security audit was done.

For instance, you're getting the user's wallet passphrase at line 1361. Does the passphrase just sit around in memory somewhere, long after the wallet encryption has been kicked off?

https://github.com/chjj/termcoin/blob/master/bin/termcoin#L1...

2
girvo 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Heck yes, I've been looking for something exactly like this. I hate the Qt client, and the others I've played with aren't much better, but this is perfect :)

EDIT: Dumb question, running Mint 16 here, installed the nodejs package through apt, but termcoin looks for "node", not "nodejs". I copied the symlink as "node" and am just installing the npm modules now, but whats up with that?

3
indexzero 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The underlying terminal parser is friggin' hawt: https://github.com/chjj/blessed
4
GigabyteCoin 8 hours ago 2 replies      
It looks amazing, and I do dislike the current bitcoin-qt that most of us use.

However, I'll be damned if I install it on my machine for at least a year or two after it's been released and fully verified by everybody in the community who matters.

5
sktrdie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I see e-ink readers, such as the Kindle, being used as a POS system for merchants. Linux installed with this running.

It's awesome because it's super lightweight and can be installed on virtually any device without even having to run an X ui server.

That also means that you don't have to install anything but this bitcoin client on the system, which dramatically lowers the possibility for attacks.

6
banachtarski 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Security sensitive software written in js huh?
7
jboggan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been ready to ditch bitcoin-qt . . . this is fantastic.
8
Morphling 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looks cool.
9
pjbrunet 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Wish this was elaborated: "Ideally I wanted this to have all the capabilities of a full wallet, but that would require, for example, linking to to berkeley db to parse the wallet.dat. I wanted to write this entirely in node."

So it still makes a wallet.dat file but different wallet encryption? I'm a little confused.

10
adrianwaj 6 hours ago 0 replies      
After seeing the screenshot (https://raw.github.com/chjj/blessed/master/img/screenshot.pn...) I'll be switching to "Welcome to my program" from now on instead of "Hello world!" which is getting really tired. I don't know why I never thought of it. Facepalm.
11
samweinberg 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Great job, this looks really neat.
12
crugej 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Finally something to replace the awful bitcoin-qt. Get the best of both worlds with a "gui" that is in the terminal.
13
oakwhiz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is better than having to read the docs every time I want to send a few coins...
14
eterps 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd prefer CLIcoin
15
derengel 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Please report if you lose any coins ;)
13
Spotify position in support of systemd in the default init debate debian.org
212 points by possibilistic  22 hours ago   156 comments top 23
1
forgottenpass 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Out of all the people commenting on #727708, The Spotify post is a rep from an organization with systems to administrate. Just like almost every other not-ctte, not-init maintainer person on that list, so it makes sense for Spotify to comment, but not really worth giving undue weight to their post in the larger debate currently happening on debian-ctte.

If you want a better picture of debian's init decision, the bug got punted to ctte to decide on, so check out the ctte ml archives for December [0] and January [1]. Russ Allbery and Ian Jackson are the most vocal CTTE members on the list and support systemd and upstart respectively. The thread "Bug#727708: init system other points, and conclusion" is where Ian [2] Russ [3] start making the case for their preliminary conclusions.

Edit: If there are other things worth pointing out on the list put 'em here. I've really only been skimming the posts for the last few weeks. They're also considering openRC, but it appears not to be a real contender. Tollef Fog Heen is a debian systemd maintainer and has posts worth reading on both what systemd actually is and what the impact of different decisions.

[0] https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2013/12/[1] https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2014/01/[2] https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2013/12/msg00182.html[3] https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2013/12/msg00234.html

2
lamby 21 hours ago 2 replies      
This sort of thing actually happens a fair amount, albeit usually without a "celebrity" company and often without the organisation even being named.

It's actually a difficult email to write (especially if you are disagreeing with a proposed change) as it can easily come across as a sort of childish blackmail.

3
Shish2k 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Currently using systemd on debian myself, with a few of my own custom .service files and a lot of falling back to sysvinit compatibility -- would love to see more upstream packages contain .service files. Things like "automatically restart if the service dies uncleanly" being handled by the init system are a godsend compared to managing init.d scripts which try to do that job themselves (things like "service start" getting into an infinite restart loop, then "service stop" says "service is not running", because the init script is stuck in a loop but the service itself hasn't been spawned...)
4
_delirium 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Tangent, but the 2nd point is intriguing. How does one use cgroups to set up resource limitations? Is there any kind of decent front-end? I've seen the kernel documentation (https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/cgroups/cgroups.txt), but how do I use it? For example, if I wanted to give some shell users limited accounts where they can't use more than 512 RAM and some CPU quota each, I gather cgroups can do this, but I haven't been able to figure out how to set something like that up. (Yes, I know you could handle that use-case by giving each user their own virtual machine and let VMWare or Xen or Virtualbox handle the RAM/CPU quotas, but that's often not what I want.)
5
colanderman 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Glad I'm not the only person who thinks upstart is back-assward. I've never understood how its model of "start a service iff all its dependencies are running" makes any sense: it (a) starts random other services I don't care about, just because their dependencies are met, and (b) forces me to manually track down and start all of a service's dependencies in order to start it.

Though I'd be glad if someone could explain to me how it does make sense.

6
cakeface 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I highly recommend that anyone interested in systemd who doesn't know much about it read Lennart Poettering's initial descriptions of it. I knew very little about Linux init systems and I found this incredibly interesting and informative. http://0pointer.de/blog/projects/systemd.html
7
wpietri 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Two things I love about this: ops guys getting involved in the debate, and the fact that Spotify has somebody who's job is to be open-source ombudsman.
8
pekk 20 hours ago 3 replies      
It's a lot easier for one systemd-loving company to switch to RHEL/CentOS/Fedora than for everyone else to deal with problems with systemd.

systemd is at least controversial enough in ways that matter to Debian (portability off Linux, etc.) that I think it's nice not to have a monoculture here.

9
Patrick_Devine 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I have to admit, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the new init world, and really didn't want to leave SysV init. I haven't used systemd, but I have been using upstart and it's grown on me.

After reading this post, I did look at: https://wiki.debian.org/Debate/initsystem/upstart

Which does spell out some reasonable pros and cons of both systems. I'd say the biggest problem with upstart (and possibly the deal breaker) is the licensing terms. Yes, it's open source, but no, I really don't want to have to fill out Canonical's contributer license agreement if I want to contribute. I'm not really sure why Canonical doesn't just GPL like everyone else and leave it at that.

There are some tools out there for upstart, but one thing which would be really nice would be a built in command for visualizing the init graph in ascii. It doesn't have to be fancy, just enough to know where your init script is going to be called in the boot process.

10
bitwize 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Systemd is the Linux init system. Using anything else at this point is folly. This debate is a tempest in a teapot stirred up by whiners and haters who are resisting what the community overwhelmingly supports as a technically superior, easier, and designed-for-Linux init system.
11
agumonkey 20 hours ago 2 replies      
From linux conf australia 2014 : the 6 stages of systemd http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-97qqUHwzGM
12
codingtheone 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is the most important bit "dependency model of systemd is easier to understand,explain and work with than the event based counterpart of upstart.". IMO upstart is over-engineered to say the least.
13
runjake 21 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm confused about debian stable vs testing vs unstable. Is there a branch that keeps relatively recent versions of packages and is reasonably usable as a daily driver?
14
possibilistic 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Debian.org's server seems to be having trouble. This is getting traffic from both HN and /r/linux.

Cache: http://bugs.debian.org.nyud.net/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?msg=35...

15
latchkey 20 hours ago 1 reply      
The bigger question here for me is why Spotify needs 5000 physical servers.
16
mwcampbell 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Just saw this interesting post by Noa at Spotify (speaking on his own behalf) later in the thread, about the trade-off between monoculture on the one extreme, and effort spread too thin between competing solutions on the other:

https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2014/01/msg00306.html

17
beefhash 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how this is still anything to discuss. systemd is the only option; GNOME is already using it for some parts and will probably not hesitate to integrate it even more deeply to push Poettering's agenda.

Whether or not the sysadmins want to learn systemd and regardless of whether it's the technically superior super-init system (you can't really call systemd an init system anymore), it's going to be forced down our throats anyway. What's with the holdup?

18
quarterto 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Call me old school but I don't see why we can't just keep compiling everything from source. If one package has a dependency on another, just check if the other package is built or refuse to build. What is driving this need for "modern package management" ?
19
trump 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Keep in mind, this is coming from the same company that gives their devs root: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pts6F00GFuU#t=169

Otherwise, I agree with their endorsement of systemd.

20
myrandomcomment 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Both systemd and upstart have added a level of complexity I would prefer to avoid. The simplistically of sysvinit is greatly missed.

But then again I am an old fuck so..

21
dinkumthinkum 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The person that wrote is a "Free Software ombudsman" ... Pretty serious stuff we got going in software now. :)
22
ForHackernews 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Who's responsible for changing the titles on these threads?

You've removed the interesting bit: That it's Spotify's ops people putting in their two cents.

23
zx2c4 21 hours ago 0 replies      
So that you don't kill their cgi bug tracker, here's the static archive:

https://lists.debian.org/debian-ctte/2014/01/msg00287.html

14
Go by Example gobyexample.com
244 points by A_Ghz  1 day ago   105 comments top 13
1
sergiotapia 23 hours ago 7 replies      
It's Friday gents! No excuse to set aside Saturday and Sunday, you can easily go through these examples in two days and grok it. Go is that _slim_, and that's good!

Guaranteed you'll find use for Go in one system or the other when you want easy deployment, fast development time and extreme speeds. :)

(Disclaimer: I love Go and I hope it goes mainstream in a big way in 5 years)

2
aaronbrethorst 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Love it, bookmarked. I've been hoping for something like this for a while. One of the most frustrating things for me about trying to pick up Go is a lack of 'guaranteed quality' examples of different basic operations, especially code that adheres to the latest spec.
3
tokenizerrr 23 hours ago 3 replies      
This documentation is great, but one thing I tend to miss with examples like these is how to structure a project, deal with packages, etc.
4
nadinengland 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another nice introduction is the Go Playground's Tour (http://tour.golang.org/#1).
5
cupcake-unicorn 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Are there any plans to make this into something more interactive, like http://nodeschool.io/? Alternatively, do any of the interactive "Learn Coding" sites out there feature Go? I can't think of any.
6
donbronson 23 hours ago 2 replies      
The documentation format is a revolution of simplicity and comprehension. I can see this list format (and content) working for any/all languages.
7
nickik 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I am not personally interested in Go but I care about CSP. I will defently check out some of these CSP things and maybe try to recreate them in Clojure core.async.
8
knotty66 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice and clean. I like it. Maybe it would be nice to have comments with up/down votability ala Stackoverflow.
9
tboyd47 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey, nice site. FYI I can't copy and paste from the examples on the site without also bringing in the text on the left too.
10
vkat 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks, I am going to use this for my go experiments.
11
kirkbackus 20 hours ago 1 reply      
It's about time! Go doesn't really have a good community or really practical examples. Glad to see someone took the time to put this together.
12
namelezz 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Golang is good language. Cannot wait until it's generic.
13
holycow19 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Very Cool - thanks
15
What's Inside This House On Wade Avenue? wunc.org
40 points by sethbannon  9 hours ago   23 comments top 11
1
andr 6 hours ago 2 replies      
In the earliest days of the London Underground, trains used steam engines, which would collect steam and release it only at specified openings above tunnels, so as to not suffocate everyone. In posh areas, fake housefronts like this one: http://www.urban75.org/london/leinster.html were built with a hole behind them, and trains would release steam as they passed under the hole.

More such cases in Brooklyn and Paris: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2388179/When-house-h...

2
asmithmd1 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Here is an odd "house" I noticed years ago in Falls Church, VA. Being right outside Washington and one town over from the CIA headquarters I thought it must have something to do with the them:

https://www.google.com/maps/preview#!q=320+N+West+St&data=!1...

3
pstack 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is entirely common, all over the world. Maintenance, accesses, and vents to the New York subway system are hidden behind non-existent town and row-houses and you can discover them if you pan around Google Maps for awhile.

http://www.messynessychic.com/2013/01/29/the-fake-townhouses...

4
mnemonicsloth 6 hours ago 3 replies      
> Why Keep It Hidden?

Because yuppies. It's all of two blocks from the biggest Whole Foods Market in the Triangle.

5
EvanAnderson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There are telco central offices disguised as houses, too. This one, in Anaheim, CA, US is a good example (CLLI code ANHMCA17RS3):

http://www.co-buildings.com/ca/714/

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=33.8449,+-117.741&ie=UTF8&ll=...

6
dm2 4 hours ago 2 replies      
How much more expensive would it have been to build this underground (with an access door somewhere) and make the above area a park or open land?

Are underground structures partially avoided because of the potential for them to collapse if not properly maintained or if a large truck drives over them for whatever reason?

I've always had the desire to build a basement that I can slowly expand overtime and have a huge underground facility. I wonder if this is possible? Didn't they do it at the White House and Vice President's house?

7
mrjatx 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Ha, pretty neat. I used to do work on cellular towers and you'd be really surprised at how they manage to hide towers. I'm talking fake trees, church steeples, etc. When you do tower surveys you're given GPS coordinates and every so often I'd wind up having to comb an area up and down to figure out where the tower was.
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IbJacked 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Theres a house a couple of miles from mine which is actually a power sub-station. It's located in a heavily wooded, up-scale neighborhood, and would have looked really out of place if it wasn't concealed.

But, the fake house still looks a little strange, as it doesn't have quite the level of finishing of a real home.

9
ivanbrussik 4 hours ago 0 replies      
We had this in the town I grew up in, only it was a house with the "mechanical room" for our water tower. People broke in all the time.
10
mindcrime 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Damn, I've driven by there hundreds of times and had no clue anything was unusual about that house. Never even noticed that there was no driveway.

When I first started reading this article, I had a feeling it was going to be something to do with AT&T, possibly related to The Big Hole[1][[2].

Nothing quite so exciting though... Still, pretty neat.

[1]: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/big-hole-deep-secret/Conten...

[2]: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread188702/pg1

11
tux 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Kind of reminds you of house in "Resident Evil". O_o
16
Introducing our smart contact lens project (for diabetics) googleblog.blogspot.com
587 points by dboyd  1 day ago   171 comments top 39
1
morganherlocker 1 day ago 10 replies      
Type I diabetic here. Assuming current tech stays where it is (not saying it will), this could easily tack 10 years on to my lifespan. For many who watch their diabetes less closely (something I cannot fault anyone for), this could add 20-30 years.

For anyone who does not know, type I diabetes is not something you can just follow a doctor's direction on and be ok. Even if you follow your doctor perfectly, there can still be serious complications, and type I diabetics with the best control are actually more likely to die from severe low blood sugars.

The reason for this is that the optimum blood glucose level is around 100. <70 and you start to be severely mentally impaired, making it difficult at times to seek treatment (finding and eating sugar, in a nutshell). On the flip side, if you are lax on insulin, your blood sugar might hover around 250 for months, and you will feel close to normal. Having a blood glucose this high on a long term basis will have long term effects that are what kill most diabetics in the long run. A low blood sugar, however, can be fatal within minutes to hours.

Either way, a continuous feedback mechanism would help tight control diabetics, and diabetics who do the minimum. Tight controllers could get faster feedback about when they are going into the serious danger zone without having to initiate any action (checking blood sugar), and lax diabetics would get a constant reminder of how they are letting there life slip away (which they normally would rarely see, since they hardly ever check their blood sugar anyway).

I have to say though, I am still a bit skeptical for a few reasons:

- One, I have been told about this sort of miracle technology ever since I was diagnosed 15 years ago.

- Two, the medical complex locks down their tech and extracts the maximum value out. There is not a single glucose device on the market that lets you extract the data out of your glucose monitor and crunch the data how you want. I have worked on hacking these devices to extract data and the legal verbiage around these activities has strongly discouraged me from releasing anything. Previous continuous glucose monitoring systems. These companies would prefer you rot in the dark, than to lose one bit of profit.

- Three, if one of these devices is not 100% perfect, it gets shot down and banned from the market. This is probably a combination of profit-motivated industry and caution-motivated government. A great example of this is a continuous glucose monitoring, non-invasive watch that came out ~ a decade ago. It was on the market for several years, before being banned. I, like just about every person in the thread I linked, would pay $10k+ for one of these, despite the reduced accuracy over traditional devices. Entrepreneurs in the health industry take note.

[1] [http://www.diabetesdaily.com/forum/testing-blood-sugar/61908...]

2
awolf 1 day ago 3 replies      
As a type 1 diabetic I can say this would be a huge improvement over current continuous glucose monitoring systems. No expensive disposable parts. No needing to inject a new sensor each week. No strange, uncomfortable, and (often) painful bulge stuck to your abdomen.

>Were in discussions with the FDA, but theres still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use

I'm chomping at the bit. Anyone familiar with process know how soon this could possibly be available?

3
dshankar 1 day ago 2 replies      
Microsoft was working on similar technology 3 years ago [1]

It looks like Google poached MSFT's engineers to work on this -- Babak Parviz was working on this at Microsoft 3 years ago, and is now cofounder of the smart contact lens team at Google.

[1]: Functional Contact Lens Monitors Blood Sugar Without Needles (http://research.microsoft.com/apps/video/dl.aspx?id=150832)

4
psbp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Solve for X talk about this technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6g581tJ7bM

This particular implementation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6g581tJ7bM#t=10m15s

5
fesja 1 day ago 3 replies      
All my praise to these Google engineers and scientists. Another completely crazy idea that will really help millions of people every day. Thanks Google!

We have discovered a lot of Google X technologies in the last months. It seems that Google X is really working. We may have to stop having fun of Google+.

6
cargo8 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google never ceases to amaze me for taking the initiative to really pursue and commercialize these things.

If people are interested, here is a relevant research paper in IEEE about the massive potential contact lenses have to mate technology and bioinformatics:http://spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/augmented-realit...

7
kamens 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would immediately and significantly improve my life.

Crossing my fingers very hard. Want this to be reality.

8
mortov 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm amazed at how many people on HN are diabetic !

Could be an interesting study on cause/effect - is all this sitting at screens contributing to an epidemic or are there other factors ? Perhaps respondents are just self-selecting because of the subject matter ?

It's also interesting how anyone who needs to track their blood sugars likes the idea of an easier and more convenient method - typical finger prick readings up to 4 times a day can leave your fingers in a real mess and pretty painful so even sticking something to your eyeballs sounds attractive !

9
TeMPOraL 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why I still love Google. Between this, self-driving cars and other world-changing projects, I say take my data if you need it. You're one of the few companies in this world that seems to bring a big, direct net benefit to humanity.
10
benjvi 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome, and sounds like a great thing for people with diabetes (if the accuracy issues are solved).

Further down the line, technologies like this could be a great thing for the rest of us too. We all experience peaks and troughs in our blood glucose and in those troughs we often feel tired, without really knowing why. It would be great to be able to have continuous feedback like "your blood glucose spiked and now is low after you drank that bottle of lemonade an hour ago". Something like this would really help people to make better decisions and would be a great boon for general public health.

11
inetsee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am encouraged by the fact that Google is working in this area. If any company can overcome the obstacles to this technology becoming available soon and at a reasonable price, it would probably be Google.

I am discouraged by the fact that the underlying technology (measuring glucose from tears) was first reported more than two years ago. There is another (sort of) non-invasive glucose measuring technology that involves injecting a biofluorescent dye under the skin, then using a device that measures the fluorescence that varies with the blood glucoe levels. This technology was also first reported years ago, and is also apparently nowhere near being available.

12
oh_sigh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Where's all the FUD about collecting user data and doing evil things with it that we've been seeing in the Google+Nest stories lately?

"But what about when google sells your data to insurance companies, who then penalize diabetics for not maintaining specific glucose levels?'

"Do you really want google to know every single thing you put into your body?"

"Can we trust google to not put advertisements in the contact lens, making you watch a 15 second commercial before being able to read your gluose levels?"

13
caseydurfee 1 day ago 2 replies      
Continuous glucose monitors have been around for a while. I'm not sure who this would help.

The fundamental problem is that glucose levels in non-blood fluids do not exactly match blood glucose. The current monitor solutions use interstitial fluid in the skin. They still require the user to test themselves several times a day and recalibrate the monitor based on blood glucose, and they can't alert the user if their blood sugar is low until it's already a serious situation. They also frequently give false positives.

This is a new (but very clever!) way to do something that has been around for a while, not a revolution, unless tears track blood glucose much closer than interstitial fluid does. Simply based on first principles, that seems unlikely.

And there are basic hygiene problems wearing contacts while you're asleep, which is when monitoring would be most useful. If google has the technology to make contact lenses that you can wear 24*7 without getting ulcerative keratitis, that's more revolutionary than another way to monitor blood sugar.

14
lazerwalker 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't at all want to downplay the honest importance of this project this is the true sort of real "tangibly improving people's lives" technology that not enough people are aspiring to these days but the timing of this announcement is very strategic on Google's part. Days after people get VERY upset at Google for buying Nest, and moaning about Google's evil surveillance state, Google turns around and announces something that's a legitimate force for good in the world. Very clever.
15
jerryhuang100 1 day ago 3 replies      
One major concern I would have is that, in diabetic patients their eyes experience more dryness than non-diabetic patients. This might lead to more scratches on the cornea and prone to further infections and ulcers. As diabetics care 101, diabetics patients have mucher high risk of systematic infections. And this is all way before any diabetic retinopathy develops in those patients. So why Google[x] thinks it's a good idea to have diabetics patients wear contact lens?
16
cpeterso 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few years ago, there was research into nano ink tattoos that can continuously monitor glucose, but I haven't heard any recent news.

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/glucose-tattoo-0528.html

17
sytelus 1 day ago 1 reply      
As always, my question for all miniature cool looking devices is just this: How do you power this thing?
18
prawn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Anyone else have a problem where if they read an interesting story like this about potential future technology, they are virtually incapacitated and unproductive for the rest of the day thinking about the potential?

Obviously, a Google Glass or Oculus Rift equivalent but with contact lenses has to be one thing everyone's long thought of. But what about activating a contextual display by closing one eye briefly (a map or information about a person you're meeting), or seeing a definition of a word spoken in conversation by closing the other eye, or watching a movie with both eyes closed, reading a book the same way, getting song recognition data at any point, etc.

Could we see high-res displays worked into lenses so that they worked, were eventually cheap enough and able to operate in a "pass through" mode so they didn't other interrupt regular vision?

Are any companies working on it? Is it possible? What would be the key challenges?

19
notatoad 1 day ago 4 replies      
How is this powered? are they generating electricity from the body somehow?
20
_paranoia 1 day ago 0 replies      
This seems like a prototype of what Google Glass will evolve into. The medical device will offer a first generation of solutions to several major problems for augmented reality contact lenses: fitting "an antenna for wireless data communications, a chip to process data, and tiny battery onto a tiny, thin, curved surface..."[1]

Then, a later version will need to solve the problem of projecting crisp images from the contact lens onto the user's retina. Google's experience with Glass seems like it could inform that effort. Perhaps we'll see this product on the market with significant usage within 10 years.

Augmented reality contact lenses have other implications. For example: what does it mean for privacy and advertising to not being able to shut one's eyes?

1. http://www.technologyreview.com/view/517476/google-glass-tod...

21
j_s 1 day ago 0 replies      
Diabetics will find Scott Hanselman's posts and the comments there useful. Three or four of them are linked from here:

http://www.hanselman.com/blog/HackingDiabetes.aspx

22
azernik 1 day ago 0 replies      
To take this to a purely business/tech place - this is an interesting market for prototyping contact-lense electronics; maybe in 10 or 20 years the new Glass will just be a contact, but for now this looks like one of the few applications where a sensor and two LEDs (high and low) can provide a lot of user value.
23
f-debong 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is one of many such implementations which we will see in the next few months. Not long ago, the FDA posted their guidelines on mobile health, which will most likely be part of the system, finally establishing a hint of what they will require to give an approval to a mobile system in the medical field. I have some experience in this, and can tell you it is very exciting. No blatant ad here, sorry!

Since the risks for ventures in this field have dropped significantly, devices such as this lens now have a much higher probability to actually see the light of day and not just be hidden in the archives, on thrown away napkins and spreadsheets.

Yes, Microsoft worked on it a few years back yet seem to have dropped the ball or shifted their focus, I have also heard of such a project at Sanofi and research institutes around the world yet a google X project may potentially be what this concept needs to make progress and actually have an impact. My sincere gratefulness to you guys at X for going at it!

Forgot to mention, like many others in this thread I am a type 1 diabetic since 30 years, so my gratitude goes a tad further than only thinking it's cool.

24
fjcaetano 1 day ago 1 reply      
At first, I thought this could be quite intrusive. I mean, you're putting something in your eye! It's the same discussion as the biometry authentication systems (retina scanning, saliva, etc).

But then I realized: the alternative is to put a piece of hardware under your skin! It will be embeded in you "forever" and can only be removed via surgical procedures...

These contact lens, if ever available, will in fact revolutionize the diabetes scene and may open precedent to new "wearable" technologies targeting health.

25
ginzaerin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Type 1 also, and I fully admit that part of what prevents me from using pump therapy is the CGM technology and how invasive and frustrating it is. The lens project gives me hope, but as others in the thread have mentioned - I've gotten my hopes up on several occasions about potential technologies and agree that it seems like a lot of it comes down to profit. Full disclosure, I'm the COO of a tech company and I love data - so a constant frustration is lack of consistent data that can be manipulated in usable ways. (Also mentioned by others in the thread.)
26
ctrl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Type I also, Looks like its time to get over that huge fear of contact lenses.

I dont care if i have to clockwork orange my eyelids, this sounds awesome

27
lowglow 1 day ago 4 replies      
Am I the only one that thinks Google[x] is just the arm of google that looks for far future intellectual property to patent and never really produces usable tech?

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

28
luuio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nothing new under the Sun: January 5, 2012 - http://www.gizmag.com/microsoft-electronic-diabetic-contact-...
29
jisaacks 1 day ago 0 replies      
> integrating tiny LED lights that could light up

So wait a minute, your eyes will start flashing when your glucose levels are spiking?

30
nfoz 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a legitimately fantastic project. Can't wait for some details about how it works.
31
BrainInAJar 1 day ago 1 reply      
Jeez, Google really has no limits on how much data about you they want
32
blueskin_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
Coming Soon: Targeted advertising based on blood sugar levels.

With a google lens, they could even project adverts directly onto people's eyes.

33
RA_Fisher 1 day ago 0 replies      
For those that are interested, I'm a data scientist and I spent a bit of time visualizing my Type 1 partner's data: http://statwonk.github.io/blog/2014/01/05/visualizing-diabet...
34
sarojt 1 day ago 0 replies      
All diabetics really would appreciate this innovation - my grandmother was delighted to hear it.
35
dia473 1 day ago 0 replies      
We have developed a non-invasive system for measuring blood glucose (patent protected, many publications in peer reviewed magazines, working prototype).

If someone has contacts in the VC scene or is working in the VC scene and is interested please let me know.

(throw away account)

36
efremjw 1 day ago 0 replies      
ohhhh, because it's just so comfortable to have contacts in the first place. what's wrong with embedding somewhere else?
37
ericthegoodking 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wonderful news! I hope this thing works!
38
kimonos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow! This is great news for my father!
39
guidefreitas 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great. Now your are going to sign up with Google+ to blink.
17
Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces wisc.edu
148 points by rubinelli  20 hours ago   30 comments top 10
1
jasonjei 19 hours ago 2 replies      
It's great to see resources like this popping up. When I was in school we used the Tanenbaum book, even if it was heavily skewed to his belief that microkernels were better (Torvalds and Tanenbaum fought in an epic flame war).

At the University of Arizona, we implemented in our class projects various stages of an operating system kernel, such as a process/thread scheduler, user/kernel mode functions, message passing (IPC/mailboxes), locking/semaphores/mutexes, signals, paged memory, and a file system in this upper division course. It wasn't as hard as a class like Automata, but it was tedious.

However, now that I am doing so much low level work, I can appreciate what we learned in class. In fact, it gives you a strong understanding how critical sections and locking work (and how this all ties in with the operating system). It makes you appreciate simple user mode delegate syscalls like fopen, fork, and malloc and realize that a bunch of things are happening in kernel mode. It makes you avoid naive design choices like while(true) loops and look for blocking/event-based equivalents.

So you might groan about taking an operating systems class. Don't! You might never ever work on operating systems, but you will be able to appreciate how to make the operating system work for you. Some self taught programmers I have met don't know the difference between blocking and non-blocking. If anything, operating systems will drill these concepts into your head to help you leverage operating systems for your benefit.

2
ChuckMcM 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Apropos of nothing, if you want a VAX/VMS system to play with (they profile one in the book) let me know :-)

This is a great book btw and you can't beat the e-price of free. I also recommend "Operating System Concepts" which is sort of the canonical book on the topic, or if you can find it a used copy of the Springer-Verlag book "Operating Systems Design".

3
somethingnew 19 hours ago 1 reply      
UW Madison represent! I took the course with this book, not with Remzi though. He is an amazing professor and this book gives a very good introduction to OS, especially Linux OS internals.
4
css771 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I just had an OS course with this textbook this last semester. Really good book. I'm surprised to see this on HN.
5
vivekchand19 1 hour ago 0 replies      
xv6 is one awesome OS understanding resource. http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/6.828/2012/xv6.html
6
ef47d35620c1 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When I saw "Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces" I thought... the shell, the file system and the kernel. And if you know what I mean by that, then you, too, are old.
7
TheSOB888 16 hours ago 1 reply      
First thing I clicked on was the "Dialogue on Virtualization," not being familiar with why virtualization would necessarily be the first thing taught in an OS, but then, that's why I'm looking at this, because I know nothing about building OSes.

Anyways, the dialog was pretty campy, or excessively goofy. Also, I'm probably hellbanned.

8
kirizt 15 hours ago 0 replies      
<3 Remzi. Best Professor ever.
9
haydenevans 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic! Thanks for posting this!
10
giis 8 hours ago 0 replies      
thanks for sharing it for free :D
18
Terry Tao on how to compute non-converging infinite sums (2010) terrytao.wordpress.com
87 points by ColinWright  15 hours ago   19 comments top 6
1
nate_martin 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The non-converging sum 1 + 2 + 3 ... = -1/12 has applications in Bosonic String Theory, interestingly enough http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_%2B_2_%2B_3_%2B_4_%2B_%E2%8B%...
2
sillydonkey 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
I didn't read or listen to the OP, but1+2+3+ ... = infinity, using infinity + k = infinity, then k=0 for any k, then -1/3 = 0 = Whatever, then like Bertrand Russel said, I am the Pope since 2=1 and the Pope and I are two people.
3
mpyne 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Wonderful article, though I got slightly distraught once he got through all that hard math only to state essentially that it would get more interesting below the fold.

I used to understand some of that (Taylor and Maclaurin series). I think the "Integral Test" had been my high-water mark, it's amazing to see how much further the mathematical concepts can be carried.

4
camperman 13 hours ago 5 replies      
There's a wonderful proof of this on Numberphile's channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-I6XTVZXww
5
drakaal 5 hours ago 0 replies      
String theory likes this math because it assumes that there is a curve to the sum, it will get smaller eventually. This helps make the "vibration" part of sting theory work.

But just because you can prove something with math doesn't mean it is "real".

We all know that if you add any number of positive integers you get a positive integer. This is very "provable".

The two are in contradiction. The sum of all natural numbers can't be 1/12th if the sum of any two positive integers is another positive integer.

6
gjmulhol 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The first time I read this title, I read Terry Tate (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzToNo7A-94). I thought "woah, triple-T is really changing careers!"
19
OpenBSD will shut down if we do not have the funding to keep the lights on marc.info
778 points by openbsddesktop  1 day ago   384 comments top 46
1
jxf 1 day ago 11 replies      
Just to make the call to action a little more direct, the donation link is here:

http://www.openbsdfoundation.org/donations.html

2
jdludlow 1 day ago 10 replies      

  > The OpenBSD project uses a lot of electricity for running the  > development and build machines.  A number of logistical reasons  > prevents us from moving the machines to another location which might  > offer space/power for free, so let's not allow the conversation to go  > that way.
I don't understand this comment. If the choice came down to moving versus shutting down entirely, why is moving an unacceptable answer?

3
4ad 1 day ago 4 replies      
4
PaulRobinson 1 day ago 11 replies      
So let's deal with the elephant in the room: the OpenBSD project is run by complete and utter jerks. Not just Theo, but he has set the bar quite low when it comes to friendliness and tolerance of questions from younger/less experienced contributors. Linus' rants on the Linux kernel lists are almost cookie cutter copies of Theo's.

There is "opinionated software" and then there is Theo being an intolerable, obnoxious, ego-maniac.

As such many people are going to see this and laugh and think "good riddance", and will be happy to see OpenBSD disappear.

That will only be enhanced by the fact the books are closed, the shortfall on the electric bill is inexplicably $20k, and nobody is prepared to explain the detail.

In essence rudeness + shady accounting practice != open source community that should feel a sense of entitlement from non-core users

It's a shame because the code (especially the crypto code) is really good. Seriously, go read it: I used to love reading the OpenBSD source, but I never contributed anything because Theo was such an absolute jerk.

I hope the guys who work on the crypto stuff at least either keep doing so elsewhere (Free- or Net-), or a new project without the need for $20k in electricity bills spins up to keep going.

5
orbitur 1 day ago 2 replies      
I feel like it's useful to point that OpenBSD won't say exactly why the bill is so high, and apparently they don't have open accounting. That bothers me a bit.

Link to relevant reddit comment thread: http://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/1vakm9/openbsd_develo...

6
D9u 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I suggest funding a solar power system, especially since the newer panels are even more efficient for a lower net cost-per-watt/kWH ratio.

Even on cloudy days the new panels will produce energy.

The panels are usually warranted to produce at least a certain (80% on mine) percentage for a set period of time. (25 years on my 5 + year old PV arrays) so the other considerations would be a charge controller/charger, a voltage inverter (from DC to AC) cabling and batteries for storage.

Of all the items, the batteries will be the main recurring expense as they generally don't last as long as the PV panels. Depending on type of battery, and how heavily cycled they are, batteries can last for 10 years, with proper care and use.

A system which maintains a constantly higher amperage will last longer than a system that has been allowed to be exceedingly discharged. (no less than 80% of capacity)

In my area electricity sells for $0.49USD per KWH ergo solar is the logical solution.

The end result is a self reliant system, independent of the issues associated with distributed power sources, while increasing responsibility for the consumer.

I find the cost/benefit ratio to be in favor of under-funded consumers, especially in the long term.

7
blhack 1 day ago 1 reply      
They accept bitcoins, here is their donation page, and they're the people that maintain openSSH, the software that I'd bet ALL of us use every day:

http://www.openbsdfoundation.org/donations.html

8
justin66 1 day ago 1 reply      
I get that a lot of people don't care. I even get that some people have an unrealistic expectation that they should know how every dime of their donation is going to be accounted for, an expectation that must either not extend to their other charitable donations or serve as an indicator that they don't give a lot of money to charities at all.

What I don't get is where people - presumably people involved in information technology - conclude that $20k/year is a lot of money to spend on electricity. What utopia of free electricity for all are these people living in? Can I host a few servers there?

9
simias 1 day ago 6 replies      
As a long time FreeBSD user I wish the BSDs would find a way to "unite" in a way, try to put redundant infrastructures in common.

Right now I feel like linux is slowly eating all the market share, if it continues that way the BSDs will regress back to the lines of Hurd and Plan9.

Competition is always a good thing, even in the OSS world.

10
pyvpx 1 day ago 0 replies      
all I want to say on this (to me, tiresome) topic is: if you or your company (especially if that is one and the same!!!!1) have ever used OpenSSH you should at the ABSOLUTE MINIMUM buy a damn CD. you really ought to donate a solid hundred in your local currency but if you can't, skip a couple pints this month and buy a CD.

if you use CARP or OpenBGPd and have never bought a CD, you need to buy two ;p

11
xradionut 1 day ago 5 replies      
They could probably kill support and power for some of the "dead silicon" platforms they support. If the CPU hasn't been manufactured in the last decade or two, why support it?
12
fidotron 1 day ago 1 reply      
As I commented when this appeared here the other day as: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7059581

The fact this was submitted here and disappeared is kind of indicative of their problems.

13
ajkjk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain why I would want to support OpenBSD?

I get, from the comments, that: openSSH is great (sure, I can believe it) and Theo is an asshole but you should compromise and give them money anyway.

I don't get why a parallel operating system ought to continue existing, especially one that comes from the same legacy codebase as several others. I also don't get why, if openSSH is so good, the goal isn't to write a new SSH or fund openSSH separately and drop the rest that can't be supported. Why does the world needs OpenBSD instead of having the talent focused on making a smaller number (..Linux) better.

Certainly the answer might be 'because that's what the talent wants to work on' but that's not a good reason to fund it.

I have also gotten the impression, from limited observation, that there are real problems in the open source community with too many people doing the same thing and not working together, and with people being jerks (or just generally anti-social or at least not-highly-personable) and making it hard to get involved or care about otherwise important projects. I don't think supporting Theo, from what I've read here, helps that trend.

I know very little. Can someone fill me in?

14
SwellJoe 1 day ago 1 reply      
If the price of OpenSSH is keeping all of OpenBSD running, I'll send OpenBSD some money.

I've never used OpenBSD except to tinker with it, and likely never will. But, I use OpenSSH hundreds of times a day (both in automated jobs and in the terminal). It is utterly necessary to me; likely necessary for all of us, really. So, while a company would have shed the extra weight and focused on its core product that users love years ago, OpenBSD keeps OpenSSH as a side effect. I guess I'm OK with that.

Maybe it's even necessary for OpenSSH developers to understand systems level programming at a level only OS developers can grasp, and maybe OpenSSH wouldn't be the absolute beast it is today without that kind of influence and widespread knowledge found in the OpenBSD team. I dunno. Whatever it is, I support the people and the things they do for me in OpenSSH even if I don't care much about OpenBSD.

15
cpprototypes 1 day ago 7 replies      
A little bit off topic, but this reminds me again of how much the web needs an easy payment system (as easy as in-app purchases in mobile). EFF, wikipedia, I often see notices or news of things they're doing and think to myself that I should donate. But I'm usually in the middle of something and stopping everything to take out my wallet, get the CC, fill out a form, etc. is just too disruptive. So I try to remind myself to do it later, but then forget.
16
jnazario 1 day ago 0 replies      
i used to have commit but was kicked out (along with a bunch of other people over the years). i even wrote a book on openbsd. what i see from afar is that obsd alienated a lot of people with theo's behavior, theo's gone and surrounded himself with sycophants, and the rest of the world caught up to them (largely) in features. as a result the userbase has shrunk - why put up with tirades if you have a secure platform elsewhere - and the features have remained stale.

theo was a visionary, and together with some other really brilliant folks (not counting myself as one of them) accomplished what people said no one could. since then he's been fine tuning that vision but has more or less kept it at around 2003. the world has changed, theo - and as a result the project - hasn't. so, the world caught up and users moved on.

17
soapdog 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just sent 50 USD their way. Its not much but it is as far as I can spend. I recommend everyone helping. OpenBSD is one of those projects that benefit everyone not only those using it.
18
brasetvik 1 day ago 2 replies      
You may not be using OpenBSD, but the same organization is behind OpenSSH.

Imagine being without ssh, then go donate. :)

19
jlgaddis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Although the priority at this point is certainly paying the electric bill, you might also consider taking a look at the "Hardware Wanted" page [0] and seeing if you have anything laying around that one of the developers can use. It's typically not brand new top-of-the-line gear they're looking for so you might be surprised.

[0]: http://openbsd.org/want.html

20
kscottz 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would love to see more FOSS projects on GitTip (https://www.gittip.com/). It would seem to me that regular small donations that can be budgeted would be more helpful than just scratching where and when it itches. Giving $1 a week versus $50 at once is so much more convenient. We as the FOSS community need to own up that writing and hosting software isn't free, and most of us as highly paid engineers are in a position to be charitable and help out. My resolution for this year is to give away 1% of my income to the FOSS community and related charities (EFF, Wikipedia, Ada Initiative, PSF, etc). I challenge everyone on HackerNews to do the same. Stop bitching and put your money where your mouth and let's go help make a better world.
21
kriro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seems insane that they can't get enough funding given the current security climate. Think of some of the eccentrics whatever you want but they have always been fighting the good fight as far as I'm concerned.

No BLOB is a very sane idea for example. I think we'd be further along if that was enforced stricter by other projects.

22
plainOldText 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not an OpenBSD user, but I like their focus on security. And this could be a positive influence on other platforms. Donated.
23
jlgaddis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I read through some of this thread last night and was about to throw them a few bucks. I don't really consider myself an OpenBSD user although I do have a router here that runs it for pf. Other than that, I haven't touched it in probably a decade.

I'm glad I read through the whole thread because by the time I got to the end of it I had changed my mind. In one e-mail to the list, Theo basically said (in effect) that a donation of $20 wasn't even worth it. (Granted, $20 isn't much in the grand scheme of things but I feel that it reasonable covers my use of OpenBSD.)

There are many people who think that Theo is the worst thing for the Project (because he's such an asshole). OTOH, however, there are many who think that the Project wouldn't exist if it weren't for Theo.

24
midas007 1 day ago 0 replies      
OpenBSD overall is interesting. The installer alone signals how simple and elegant is the rest of the OS (take a look at the source [0]). A dozen basic questions give or take, and one can have a fully-functional box.

Revenue-wise, the best move would be for a shop like iXsystems, Pair or ByteMark to step up to cover costs. And, any shop that uses OpenSSH on a large scale should be able to pony up some cash to keep Open{SSH,BSD,CVS,{NTP,BGP,OSPF,SMTP,IKE}D} alive. For example, it would be nice to see OpenBSD on Amazon, and AWS might even be willing to fund kernel changes and more to accomplish that.

Finally: check out this handy script which makes it OpenBSD a whole lot easier to get started and complete common tasks. [1]

References:

[0] http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/cvsweb/src/

[1] https://gist.github.com/steakknife/6120072/raw/shave

26
openbsddesktop 1 day ago 1 reply      
VIDEOS

Exploit Mitigation Techniques: an Update After 10 Years (by Theo)http://tech.yandex.com/events/ruBSD/2013/talks/103/

An OpenBSD talk by Michael Lucashttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXPV3vJF99k

27
akulbe 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you use OpenSSH... you benefit from OpenBSD's work, even if you're not an OpenBSD user.

SSH alone, and all the utilities that use it... have made my work/life SOOOOOO much easier. That may sound silly, but when you don't have to search for some 3rd-party utility because what you need is built-in... it makes life easier.

I'm donating.

28
jlgaddis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm excited about buying a cupcake from one of the OpenBSD developers at the bake sale.
29
mrbill 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I can see their point about "We need to keep this VAX around because building on actual hardware is different from building on emulation", however I'm sure there's bits of infrastructure, CRTs hooked to KVMs, etc, that could be replaced with newer and more efficient gear that can help with the power bill. You don't have to run the ENTIRE place on cast-off donations and stuff out of a dumpster.
30
Aqueous 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps it would be best to move all non-specialized builds into Amazon or Rackspace or some automated CI service, and to move the specialized builds to a differnet, less expensive place, or keep them where they are. At the very least your electricity costs will go down.
31
ryen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think OpenBSD should reach out directly to manufacturers of the many hardware platforms they support (HP, SPARC (now Oracle), etc) and ask for donations. Of course, only the companies that are still in business.
32
ThinkBeat 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lot of the discussion so far revolves around whether or not Theo can be abrasive. Who cares?

I would rather have a non compromising, highly secure operating system available, with all the source code available for me to see (none of that binary blob business)than a mediocre operating system that was somewhat securefrom a guy who was really chill.

Funding the OpenBSD project is not a decision about the personality of Theo, its a decision on the usefulness and and the quality of work that the OpenBSD community creates.

When I am setting up and configuring and relying on a server with OpenBSD, I could care less if Theo is eccentricor not. I am in awe of the technical brilliance of OpenBSD.

And yes I have donated and do donate to the project, and I encourage clients I have that are running on OpenBSD to do the same.

33
jms703 1 day ago 1 reply      
What will happen to OpenSSH if OpenBSD can't keep the lights on?
34
jpessa 1 day ago 0 replies      
what i find interesting (read: suspicious) is how they have seemingly prioritized and budgeted other things ahead of paying for electricity.

when i make budgeting decisions (whether personal or in business), i start with the needs before going to the "nice to haves". for openbsd, i can't help but assume powering their various servers/systems is kiiind of a priority...

so what i want to know is:- the over all budget $ amount for 2014- what was the cost of power in 2013 * how did you get to $20k for 2014?- which priorities are worth funding over power

my suspicion is that there's plenty of room for give and take here.

35
siculars 1 day ago 0 replies      
just donated 0.10 btc. really easy with bitpay integration. would rather not give paypal or my cc the fees.
36
bhaile 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for linking it here and would be better if it was linked to an article providing additional details other than electricity costs. Other users have posted the relevant links.

On another note, the readability of the font was a turn off for me. Fortunately, there is an option to view it in plain text. adding &q=raw at the end of the URL.http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-misc&m=138972987203440&w=2&q=raw

37
blahbl4hblahtoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I donated 50 bucks. These guys have been awesome for a long time. Sorry it took me this long to donate.

EDIT: Here's the thing. I don't directly use OpenBSD, but they have influenced more than just UNIX for a long time.

38
annnnd 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't see the point - they should ask for subscriptions, not for donations. What will they do next month / year, ask again? And again?
39
diestl 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wonder if this is a case of OS Darwinism. The fact that it seems to be hanging on by a thread shows most companies are using and contributing to Linux. I have never used OpenBSD so not sure what it overs over Linux as a Unix implementation?
40
bolle 1 day ago 1 reply      
22 seems an appropiate amount. Or whatever your portnumber is for your SSH-server.
41
mariuolo 1 day ago 0 replies      
What about emulators?
42
elwesties 1 day ago 2 replies      
This may be a silly question but could they virtualise the process on EC2?
43
jijji 1 day ago 2 replies      
The bigger question is who pays $2000/month for electricity for a server?
44
SilverSurfer972 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would love to donate some Litecoin
45
Senkwich 1 day ago 0 replies      
Donated. Hope it helps.
46
ffrryuu 1 day ago 0 replies      
The one with the gold makes all the rules.
20
Amazon Wants to Ship Your Package Before You Buy It wsj.com
103 points by canistr  17 hours ago   99 comments top 40
1
frogpelt 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Walmart already does this.

They keep everything on shelves at the local fulfillment center. I go there maybe once every two weeks and pickup my stuff.

It's a pretty neat concept called retail.

2
joezydeco 17 hours ago 4 replies      
A friend of mine works for a large battery company. The moment the hurricane forecast shows one headed for a populated area they start packing and dispatching semis of AA/C/D/9V batteries to all the Walmarts, Targets, Grocery Stores, etc in that area. I'm sure the bottled water and plywood manufacturers do the same. How does this differ?
3
wiredfool 16 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a patent for turning UPS and Fedex distribution centers into warehouses. They're preloading the distribution system so that the only latency is the last tens of miles, rather than hundreds or thousands. It could be same day assuming you got your order in before 4am or whenever the trucks roll. Or even later if they have a more courrier oriented partner.
4
mpclark 16 hours ago 3 replies      
We could call these local hubs "shops"
5
stiff 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Uhm, operations research is what, at least 75 years old now? And this is exactly classical operations research stuff, at least the idea is nothing new:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research#History

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_chain_management

I guess they just patented a particular way of doing this.

6
wavefunction 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It's almost like Amazon is recreating the local retail experience, except that all the mom and pops are owned a monolithic entity with no ties to your community and you can't actually check out the products before you buy.

I'm heavily opposed to winner-take-all and so my boycott of Amazon books must continue. I don't really buy anything other than physical books off of Amazon, so it's not a huge sacrifice.

7
excellence24 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"anticipatory shipping", this is pretty much just saying that local warehouses/stores should anticipate demand by using as much data as possible. For Amazon that means wishlists, viewing history, shopping carts, emails etc. This is good Jeff Bezos, but not good enough. I could do this better.

In order to best anticipate demand, they should be trying to make deals with manufactures instead. This system would initially work best with subscription based products. And then we could figure out how to turn everything into a type of subscription.

Manufactures have a release cycle that is important to them staying 'competitive'. So they have to constantly make new models and 'retire' the old ones by planned obsolescence forcing us to buy the new slightly improved model that has a time bomb built in it to go off when the next model comes out.

So basically Amazon needs to place their customers in a 'release preference' category. With names like, 'bleeding-edge','beta','stable','2 generations back', or 'annually/biannually'. This could make manufactures more responsible and get the latest designs out of secret labs and into consumers hands quicker.

Customers can choose which category they want to be included in for different product families. So for example, I might choose the 'bleeding-edge' release cycle for my phone, but prefer a biannual subscription for a refrigerator or car.

And unless someone has a brand preference, the best products can be automatically chosen based on reviews from amazon and social networks and blogs and benchmarks on hardware/battery life/speed/etc

Discounts will be given for recycling your previous models, and as our 3d printing becomes better and closer to home, eventually we might just get 'ink' credits to print out phones, computers, cars, furniture, TV's etc.

On a side note, this kind of system would be the system of all systems and it would be hard for competitors to start (without the data owned by Amazon). So I don't think 'Amazon' should get to boast and claim this system as their own and keep the profits. I would like to see this type of system organized at the national level at first (until we fully embrace globalization) and we could vote on an open source 'shopping and distribution' system whose profits go back directly to the people in the countries they operate. Then people could join and accept a national system to be proud of, one whose contributors, ideas,transactions,money,etc are all open and viewable by anyone to encourage accountability.

8
jstalin 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Kinda cool. I can imagine a day when, due to "pre-shipping," one could look at their wishlist and see an alert: "Receive this product today!"
9
alexeisadeski3 16 hours ago 0 replies      
10
jhwhite 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
This definitely makes sense for their subscribe and save items. If they're not doing it already for them. But I don't think they are. I've got quite a few things on subscribe and save, I get charged the last day of the month and it still takes about a week to get my items.
11
basseq 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I imagine transportation costs could quickly spiral out of control if you didn't have the analytics tuned correctly. But one particular use case comes to mind: you look at a couple items, maybe even add them to you cart, then walk away. A lot of retailers now will send you an email for "abandoned carts"imagine if that email also included a line that said, "Oh, and if you finish your order, we'll have it on your doorstep tomorrow." Pretty compelling.
12
r0h1n 10 hours ago 1 reply      
>> The patent exemplifies a growing trend among technology and consumer firms to anticipate consumers needs, even before consumers do.

Wrong. The patent exemplifies a growing trend among technology and consumer firms to think their business processes ought to be protected by patents when in fact, no such need exists. Certainly there is no wider (public, society, industry) good from allowing rich companies to patent something many others may have easily figured out independently.

13
taybin 16 hours ago 1 reply      
They got a patent for this? "People in this city order this book more often than other cities. Okay, let's make a deal with our shipper there to stock some onsite."

Totally obvious.

14
tannerc 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Patents != products. Just look at the countless patents Apple has filed over the years. Many never see the light of day.

Though I suspect Amazon isn't filing this patent as a means to control the concept (isn't it even that revolutionary that it needs protecting?).

15
falsestprophet 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Building warehouses closer to customers isn't that far off "anticipatory shipping." Could "anticipatory shipping" be a clever scheme to reduce shipping times while also avoiding establishing tax nexuses (and therefore avoiding the requirement to collect sales taxes) in additional states?
16
lovemenot 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It may pressure consumers to decide to buy now, if they get visibility on a desirable product approaching closer to them in delivery time. Especially if they are also aware that the approaching product may be snapped up by a rival local consumer with similar tastes. Game theory applies. And this will also be gamed by customers who understand Amazon's cost and incentive economics.Smart move though, as it can focus customer awareness into their distribution chain which is locked-in. Attention shifts from logical: ProductX() to instantiated: new ProductX(Amazon_supply_chain).
17
smackfu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait, this is just a patent, and Amazon didn't even respond when asked for comments. This is a junk invented story. Bravo WSJ.
18
normloman 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon Wants to Suck Money Out Of Your Pocket Through a Hose (wsj.com)
19
mhb 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Think of the millions who will succumb to akinetic mutism[1]. Oh the humanity.

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7067573

20
thejteam 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps I'm wrong, but I thought Netflix already did this with their DVDs. They would see that certain DVDs were near the top of the queue in certain areas and move the DVDs closer. Works especially well with more rare items.
21
Aqueous 9 hours ago 0 replies      
So if you ship something you thought I was going to buy but don't, do I still have to pay for it when it arrives? Because I'm fucking keeping it.
22
sturmeh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Better yet, send packages by drone and return them if the user hasn't purchased it yet. D:
23
mnordhoff 6 hours ago 0 replies      
'It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data, said Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research [FORR -2.03%] analyst. Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors.'

Something about seeing a big red box next to the analyst highlighting their company's negative stock performance makes me a wee bit less confident in their analysis.

24
alok-g 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not shipping before you buy. This is online interface for a brick-and-mortar store (such that many overheads of traditional stores are gone). Call it a distributed warehouse if you like.

Patents Office got fooled into seeing this as an invention. The violation could happen only if they could predict what I specifically want to buy and ship it for me specifically. If all they do is optimise distribution, well that's happening since the dawn of trade may I guess.

25
raverbashing 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I could see this working.

For example, the 7th Harry Potter book, especially if you ordered previous books with Amazon.

Or some videogame series, or something similar. Still, for these there's a "pre-order" period, so preshiping without a preorder is kind of moot

26
fnordfnordfnord 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This will work great for things that people "subscribe" to like toilet paper and dog food, which, I kid you not, is cheaper via Amazon than locally, and, someone else lugs it to my house for me.
27
jiggy2011 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes sense, especially if combined with a local retail channel. It would be neat to be able to travel somewhere and get hooked on some obscure local food/drink and come back home to find that you're local shop now has it in stock automatically.
28
existentialmutt 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"So Amazon says it may box and ship products it expects customers in a specific area will want based on previous orders and other factors but havent yet ordered. According to the patent, the packages could wait at the shippers hubs or on trucks until an order arrives."

Here's an idea. Pre-ship merchandise to local independent retail locations, waive the shipping fee but let the retailer mark it up a bit, and offer in-store pickup.

It's a proven business model, since that's how people bought stuff before catalogs and the internet.

29
Zikes 16 hours ago 1 reply      
> Of course, Amazons algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns.

If I keep getting boxes on my doorstep that I didn't order, I don't think Amazon should expect me to keep sending them back.

I'm not turning my front porch into an Amazon micro-warehouse.

30
ryanmcbride 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If this means that they would start fronting the cost of importing all my weird Japanese SFC games then I'm all for it.
31
kyyd 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Why do they need a patent for this?
32
narfquat 16 hours ago 1 reply      
So does that mean someday I will be able to call in a same-day airdrop of semi-uncommon product x that has been sitting in my amazon shopping cart or wishlist?
33
moo 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never bought the same thing twice from Amazon. I think this is publicity/advertising like the helicopter drone story.
34
mrbill 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Surely I'm not the only one that kept checking to see that the date on this article wasn't April 1st.
35
mlashcorp 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I actually find this clever and patentable. It's machine learning assisted caching for physical packages. Now it all comes down to the predictive performance of their algorithms.
36
Johnie 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is effectively a CDN for real physical products. Push the product to the edge nodes for shorter delivery time.
37
frandroid 16 hours ago 0 replies      
So Amazon would basically fill an actual shopping cart with your current order at a hub close to you, and when you're done paying, would just come out of the neighbour's driveway and wheel the cart to your door...
38
coldcode 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Kind of like pre-crime.
39
raws 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"... in your garden/on your balcony, while you're away at work."
40
Touche 16 hours ago 0 replies      
AOT delivery, excellent.
21
Yale students made a better version of its course catalog. Yale shut it down washingtonpost.com
389 points by zt  1 day ago   114 comments top 39
1
tikhonj 1 day ago 3 replies      
Some Berkeley students developed a similar service called Ninja Courses[1]. This lets you browse through classes, order textbooks and also shows ratings. (Although all the ratings are submitted by Ninja Courses users, I believe.)

It can even automatically build a schedule for you by choosing lectures and sections that don't overlap, optimizing based on user preferences. For example: do you want more morning classes, more afternoon classes, more gaps, less gaps, some days off... This automates away a rather tedious part of choosing your schedule--something I haven't seen in other similar tools (although I haven't looked too closely).

Instead of shutting it down, the university used it to build an official Schedule Builder[2]. The official version doesn't have rankings, but exposes other interesting information--in particular, grade distributions.

Since then, Ninja Courses has expanded to a bunch of other UC campuses as well.

Just thought I'd share a nice success story to counterbalance most of the others :).

[1]: http://ninjacourses.com/

[2]: https://schedulebuilder.berkeley.edu/

2
mgkimsal 1 day ago 2 replies      
Not at all surprised. "Big campus" is another entrenched "big industry", and disruption is hard. I'm in touch with students every so often that have essentially the same ideas - "let's make it easier for students to do XYZ", where XYZ always involves campus data and/or integrating with campus system. It's damned near impossible, and the reasons are many. Some are valid, some are invalid (obviously, these are my own personal views, nothing more), but the main takeaway is as with most problems, the core issue is not technology, it's politics.

Students who have these "we could change the world!" ideas rarely understand that they're not the first person to think of idea X, and that the issue is who you know who can pull the right strings.

3
orf 1 day ago 5 replies      
My University released a web based timetable system that was absolutely shocking - it was an ASP.net based site with the kind of unfriendly interface you expect from a 1990's era intranet site (hint: utterly utterly horrible, it produced one timetable PER MODULE rather than a single combined timetable and every time you selected a module it would refresh the page). I was hungover the day before term started and rather than use that system I hacked together an easier to use alternative from my bed using python + flask in literally 60 minutes and released it[1].

The administration went crazy when hundreds of students started using it and asked me to take it down. While its not as impressive as something made at Yale it seems to be a common theme, I wonder if other universities suffer the same issues. Could be a market opportunity.

[1] http://timetables.tomforb.es/

4
obblekk 1 day ago 6 replies      
Academia, and the Ivy League in particular, prides itself on being rigorously open, on providing broad access to all knowledge to advance intellectualism. In this regard, academic institutions often attack governments and corporations that intend to limit its free speech, but on the rare chance that this spirit of openness works against the institution, they take a hard liner approach to censoring it.

The basic reason why Yale doesn't want this information easily accessible is because it would force them to acknowledge that many of the staff are brilliant researchers and absolutely lousy teachers.

This notion that thinking freely about tough problems, and having the ability to pass your knowledge down the generations go together isn't true in the hyper-competitive academic environment today. If a professor doesn't publish, he/she can lose tenure, but if a professor doesn't teach well, he/she can have more time to publish.

I think the best universities to learn are those where the professors truly want to teach. Where their research isn't an end in itself, but a way to inspire questions for another generation. Yale seems to be asserting that it's not in this category.

5
thetwiceler 1 day ago 2 replies      
Let's not blow this out of proportion. They scraped private data (that required a Yale login) without permission and accidentally made it available to a wider audience than intended.

Yale has historically been very supportive of these things. A couple of years ago, they acquired another very slick course catalog website, Yale Bluebook, for a good chunk of money [1].

[1] http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2012/08/01/university-acquires...

6
bonemachine 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Officials also expressed concerns that the site was making course evaluation information available to individuals not authorized to view the information.

Sounds like they have perfectly valid concerns, actually.

When it comes to protecting restricted (and potentially rather damaging information) -- which also happens to be the University's property, anyway -- it's generally prudent to suppress the source, and ask questions later. Taken out of context, even a single vindictive or poorly composed review can be fatal to an instructor's career. Failing to take action to suppress their unauthorized distribution can also invite nasty lawsuits.

So this doesn't seem to be about "the man" stepping in and quashing student creativity and initiative (as much as some may prefer that narrative). If anything it seems that Yale did the right thing, in this case.

7
x0054 1 day ago 1 reply      
How about open sourcing the tool. Release the tool as a self hosted solution, and let any one who wants to host it, host it. Or just use for their own purposes. I am not sure if that could get them in trouble, as I am not sure what crazy provisions Yale has in their student honor code. To be safe I would obfuscate my connection to the open source tool, if I were a student.
8
acangiano 1 day ago 5 replies      
My money is on a professor being pissed off about poor reviews received.
9
sheetjs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Were there any updates since the last discussion http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7060261

(http://162.209.96.128/)

10
kriro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Back in the day when I was a student, some other student built a php based support forum with uploads for stuff you wrote during lectures and tests ordered by professor and ratings, discussion about lectures and test prep etc.

It was the de facto meeting and exchange place for all things related to that degree and was great value, I skipped quite a few classes that had good material and opted for self study. Must have saved me lots of hours. The most interesting thing was that there wasn't much pure leeching. Most people that used it went out of their way to help new students, provide lessons learned etc.Some professors actually had accounts (sometimes "undercover", was always fun when they got "exposed")

The guy started it when he started his BA (equivalent) and wrote his MA thesis about it and then the side faded away when he graduated (but by then there was other stuff available anyways)

Wasn't sophisticated at all but man was it useful. Talk about identifying customers and fixing their problems :)/old story

11
DanBC 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sometime ago a man made a better version of the Odeon's (a UK cinema chain) website. His version was accessible but also mu h easier to use. People could use his site to buy tickets from Odeon. They shut it down and stuck with their terrible site. I'm on mobile and finding links is frustrating, but here are a few.

http://www.ntk.net/index.cgi?b=02003-07-25

He did some other sites too and as far as I know they all got taken down pretty quickly.

It's interesting to see some history of web scraping and how much people protect their, well, i don't know what is being protected there.

12
bertil 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the author posted on Reddit that they had been contacted by the administration and their project was being re-considered.
13
dasil003 1 day ago 1 reply      
With all these negative anecdotes I thought I'd share a counterpoint.

In 2001 at my first professional job I was the web manager for the student unions at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. At the time there was an old unmaintained ColdFusion app for student group registration. Having recently been dabbling in PHP for the unions websites, I proposed writing a new student group registration site from scratch in PHP. My manager approved, I gathered requirements from the stakeholders in the office for student activities and 3 months later shiny new mysql-backed PHP registration system.

They also did cool things like let me open source the custom CMS I wrote and push forward with a standards based HTML template while the rest of the University was still on a standardized but antiquated table-based template.

I realize now that I've been incredibly lucky with the people I've had above me in every single organization I've worked for in the last 15 years.

14
sammcd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Did the same thing at my college. We crawled their course catalog. They blocked our IP.

Our big addition was being able to sort classes by time and day, the university ended up adding that feature, so I guess we got what we wanted?

15
lesterbuck 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I missed something, but wouldn't this work fine as a browser extension? I guess it depends on whether any individual student needed to crawl the whole dataset, or only the subset of courses they are interested in. The Yale administration is very clear that students have access to all the relevant data, so let each student run their own app. The app could build the schedule workbooks in local storage, no external entity required. Professors get the privacy they want, and the students get the convenient view of the data they want.
16
don_draper 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will someone please disrupt Academia? Tenured professors don't want you to see that many suck at teaching so any website that brings that to light is shutdown.
17
CalRobert 1 day ago 0 replies      
The more I reflect on my time at university, the more I realize it was an utter and complete scam. Fortunately I was lucky enough to attend junior college for a year and a half after graduating, took classes that I actually wanted to take instead of whatever BS was prescribed by my program, and didn't deal with manipulative twits for professors who held me hostage, forcing me to do their research for them before they'd let me graduate. The sooner academia dies, the better. I certainly won't shed any tears.
18
Fuxy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Typical American double standard. We promote free speech but don't you dare use it in a way we don't approve.

Is that really free speech then? I'm not free to say/do anything you don't approve of.

And since when is it ok to threaten disciplinary action on a student that didn't do anything wrong just provided a service students desperately need.

It's like me threatening to shoot your family if you don't sell me your house.

The second one is clearly illegal this one for some reason is ok can someone enlighten me?

We're talking about these people's future in both situations?

19
smsm42 1 day ago 1 reply      
So Yale students learned an important lesson - some of the staff cares much more about looking good than about helping students, and the administration of Yale would not be on the student's side in this case, because students come and go and the teachers stay.
20
swombat 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ah, embracing innovation the British way.

I recall that 6 months before one of those "date the person right next to me" sites picked up in the US, something similar was launched by some students in a UK university (a pretty high-profile one, though I can't remember which one... LSE? Imperial?). Anyway, long story short, the university IT department shut it down on the grounds that it was not appropriate use of IT facilities.

Six months later, the same launched in the US and grew insanely fast.

21
rcfox 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had a similar experience at my university (University of Waterloo), which I discussed some time ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3682163

In my case, it was internship postings instead of a course calendar, and I was actually "punished" for it.

22
izietto 1 day ago 0 replies      
[XKCD] University Website http://xkcd.com/773/
23
xacaxulu 1 day ago 0 replies      
These brothers will be successful in spite of Yale. A story like this definitely lends some cred when it comes to hiring time.
24
sirkneeland 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry, was someone under the impression that Yale or any other institutions of higher education are progressive, cutting-edge institutions employing best practices in IT or cost management?

These are reactive, hidebound institutions that have been able to go for at least a century without transformative reforms.

They're rather overdue for it.

25
jimbokun 22 hours ago 0 replies      
My simple question, what has the Yale administration gained by doing this?

Now the Washington Post has picked up the story, making them look petty and childish. Does whatever point they are trying to prove offset the PR damage?

26
mathattack 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the issue privacy, or making it too easy to compare faculty ratings with one another? In general faculty and class ratings are not popular with tenured faculty who view greatness as synonymous with citations. Tenured faculty also are fighting the "dumbing down of classes to improve ratings". (I'm not sure if this is a reality or not at places like Yale)
27
nicholaides 1 day ago 0 replies      
I and some friends made a similar piece of software for our university. They reluctantly started emailing us CSV dumps of the course schedules but eventually stopped. It's surprising how resistant to technology a university with a reputation for engineering can be.
28
kmfrk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This bring back memories. I did the same thing at my university way back when - especially back when people still didn't bother to develop for iPhones.

I imagine they were afraid that people would get the wrong information, which is fair in a way, but if Yale's website was anything like my university's, then the website would far outweigh the alternative.

29
Cyph0n 1 day ago 0 replies      
I actually built a similar, albeit simpler, course scheduling website for students of my university, UAEU. I however couldn't improve it because I feared that it might catch the eye of one of the higher-ups and lead to my expulsion. So I've left it as is. Quite a few students are using it, which is more than enough for me.

Here's the site (no domain yet):

http://nameless-shore-4042.herokuapp.com/

30
mikekij 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rename it "Stanford Bluebook+", give Stanford a 4 year license, and transfer.
31
thinkcomp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seriously, reading this article it's almost as if they're deliberately re-enacting Harvard's response to houseSYSTEM (which included course reviews, scheduling features, and of course, The Facebook) from 11 years ago. It really says something about institutional behavior. There must be some kind of Independent Thinking Students Emergency Playbook they hand out in elite university administrations.

As then-President Summmers said on September 15, 2005, We are a community that is committed to the authority of ideas, rather than to the idea of authority. What a perfect line to summarize their utter hypocrisy.

http://www.aarongreenspan.com/authoritas.html

32
edelans 1 day ago 0 replies      
We used a quite similar tool (although much more MVP) in my business school in France (ESSEC): we would share a google spreadsheet where we would comment and rate our professors and classes. Although the administration knew about it, they wouldn't accept it officially, which is quite disapointing in my opinion. There are more than 10 years of data in there: the link is transmitted to every promotion.
33
zoowar 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Just give us the data and let us decide which application presents it in a form we can consume efficiently.
34
darkhorn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Similar web application but it was not punished http://www.metutakvim.com/
35
rvac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Once you understand that these universities are more or less (publicly or privately owned) corporations, their behavior starts making more sense. As far as I know, many of them actually turn a profit.
36
0ptical 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oberlin did this, too - but the department supported it and I got credit for working on it. https://oprestissimo.com/
37
dzink 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why not just limit access to validated students?
38
jamdavswim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Say anything you want, as long as it's positive.
39
iaygo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is lecture attendance compulsory at Yale?
22
Mystery Rock 'Appears' in Front of Mars Rover discovery.com
131 points by ck2  21 hours ago   86 comments top 26
1
jerf 16 hours ago 7 replies      
I have to admit I laughed at this:

"Only two options have so far been identified as the rocks source: 1) The rover either flipped the object as it maneuvered or, 2) it landed there, right in front of the rover, after a nearby meteorite impact event."

So, you know, our leading theories are that either the rover did it somehow, or, approximately 8-10 orders of magnitude less likely, we just witnessed a meteor strike. Really, nothing in between those two?

2
abruzzi 21 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm probably crazy, but I've been staring at the two images for five minutes and can't see anything in one that isn't in the other, unless it is obscured by the annoying "view related gallery"button.

EDIT: Ok, half the time I load the page, the page works and I see the rock, but the other half of the time, the image is shifted down, the top half of the display box is black, and the "rock" is off screen...

3
Gonzih 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Article is very close to some tabloid IMHO. Not much actual theories, but a lot of bold statements like "Alien Robots That Left Their Mark on Mars" without much explanation.
4
ryanmcbride 20 hours ago 2 replies      
The locals are upset at our occupation and are throwing rocks at us. Pretty obvious really.
5
scrumper 21 hours ago 4 replies      
How big a deal is it, scientifically speaking, that the rover has access to the freshly-exposed underside of the rock?
6
smoyer 20 hours ago 1 reply      
When I look at both pictures, it seems as though the shape of the rock was there before it appeared ... almost as though it oozed up out of the surface.

(Note: I know this isn't at all likely or even possible and just think it's an interesting trick of the eye)

7
3rd3 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are the raw images of sol 3540: http://marsrover.nasa.gov/gallery/all/opportunity_p3540_text...Sol 3528:
8
cl8ton 19 hours ago 0 replies      
They mentioned meteorite impact ejecta as a possibility.Doesn't the rover have seismic sensors they could reference?
9
BigTuna 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting for the record that the photos were not taken from the same vantage point. The parallax seems to indicate that the camera position was higher in elevation in the second photo. Just something to keep in mind when examining the photos closely for very small differences.
10
joeframbach 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it interesting that there is no better word to describe "tiddlywinking", and that this obscure game has become part of our vocabulary for this very rare circumstance.
11
dredmorbius 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looking at the images, there appears to be a disturbed region above and to the left of the mystery rock, suggesting it (or something) might have impacted the ground there.

The question I've got is whether there's any sort of local slope down which the rock could have fallen on its own. That's hardly clear from the photos.

12
bitwize 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A wild ROCK appears!

OPPORTUNITY used TAKE SAMPLE.

It's super effective!

13
aeon10 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Couldnt it have been wind? or is the whether on mars really calm.
14
etanazir 19 hours ago 0 replies      
NASA is just scratching the surface.
15
mattezell 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"So my best guess for this rock is that its something that was nearby, said Squyres. I must stress that Im guessing now, but I think it happened when the rover did a turn in place a meter or two from where this rock now lies.

Opportunitys front right steering actuator has stopped working, so Squyres identified that as the possible culprit behind the whole mystery."

Reading a lot of speculation, but this seems pretty plausible - without the need for anything crazy like aliens, subterranean oozing or a rock falling from space and just so happening to land in front of the rover... But, Hey! Perhaps it is martian-cow dung afterall!

17
mrfusion 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Would it be crazy to suggest it might not be a rock? They're always looking for life on Mars, could this be some kind of animal?
18
semerda 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Didn't this jelly doughnut appear a few days later? I thought that mars has an active environment i.e. dust storms and an atmosphere. So stuff is bound to move?
19
bloddyfool 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It just fell from the top of the mountain or whatever that rock is on? There seems to be a slope...
20
joshdick 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Could the rock have been blown there by the wind?
21
return0 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Some angry locals missed the target
22
mr-roboto 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If you had watched Apollo 18 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772240/) you would know what that rock is.
23
kowdermeister 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a warning. The first.
24
jayzalowitz 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Aliens?
25
niix 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's Martians trolling us.
26
funemployed 21 hours ago 1 reply      
A wild ROCK appears?
23
The sum of all the positive integers is not -1/12 rongarret.info
105 points by lisper  16 hours ago   43 comments top 8
1
Almaviva 15 hours ago 3 replies      
> Step 1: Let S1 = 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...

Because it's not so clearly stated in the article, step 1 is already flawed.

> the algebraic rules that apply to regular numbers do not apply to non-converging infinite sums

I'm sure the author knows this but they don't even apply to all converging infinite sums. (Only absolutely converging ones.) E.g. 1 - 1/2 + 1/3 - 1/4 ... converges to a value, but you can also re-arrange the terms to get any value you want.

2
rtpg 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a non-proof based only off of notational styles.

Let s be a series , with s_n = sum (1 to n, 1) = nif S3 exists (i.e. lim n->infinity s_n exists), then the series (s-s) (where (s-s)_n = s_n - s_n) converges , and it converges towards S3 - S3 (=0).

> = (1 + 1 + 1 + 1 ...) - (0 + 1 + 1 + 1 ...)the series whose sum he's describing here is not (s-s), but another one entirely : u where u_1 = s_1, u_n+1= s_n+1-s_n

These are different series, so it is entirely reasonable for them to converge at different values, 1 doesn't equal 0.

The "real" reason this result isn't what we think it is(apart from "infinite sums are different" argument, which is a non-answer):

>Step 1: Let S = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 ...What you're doing here firstly, is saying that "I assume that this sum converges, let S be the value it converges to".

So you end up proving (if the other steps weren't also flawed) that S = -1/12, all you're saying is that if the sum exists, then it is -1/12.

The issue here depends on what sort of thing you're working on. The "classic" definition of a limit (convergence of a series) does not work here, because you can prove that for all n, the sum of n numbers will always be at least -1/12 away from -1/12 (on account of it being positive), so it can't converge to -1/12 (hence S not existing).

However, there are techniques for assigning limits to divergent sums. these summability methods will give the same result as the classic analysis for convergent series, but will also give values for some divergent series.

It is similar to analytic continuation( f(x) doesn't exist, but a limit exists in x both from the left and to the right (named y), so we sometimes say that f(x)=y ), in that it allows us to extend the resolution domain slightly. But the classic definition no longer works.

The one used here is zeta function regularization, which consists in the following:

you have a series a , and a function Za(s) = (1/a1^s)+(1/a2^s)+(1/a3^s)+(1/a4^s)+.....

Za is only defined for certain values of s depending on the series. But for a serie representing a convergent sum, we know that Za(-1)= a1+a2+a3+... exists. So this method will give the same limit for convergent sums as the classical method.

For a series with a diverging sum (a_n)=n, Za(-1) doesn't exist, but the limit in -1 exists from both ends (by analytic continuation), so we extend the domain of Za to -1 by the value of this "limit" : -1/12

The article mentions Ramanujan summation, but Zeta regularization is actually a much more useful tool. In

3
coldcode 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
The answer is clearly 42. Monkeying with infinity allows you to derive any answer you like and I like 42.
4
werner34 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
I didn't watch the numberphile video and just read this.

Can someone explain to me why I am allowed to add a padding zero at the start without taking it out at the end?

By adding it, I am giving the sum an offset, and I can kind of understand why adding zero is not a big deal, but they reasoned:

Then S1 + S1 = (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...) + (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...)

= (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...) + (0 + 1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...)

= (1 + 0) + (1 - 1) + (1 - 1) ....

= 1 + 0 + 0 ... = 1

But I might as well leave the leading Zero out and argue that:

Then S1 + S1 = (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...) + (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...)

= (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...) + (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 ...)

= (1 + 1) + ( -1 - 1) + (1 + 1) ....

= (2 - 2) + (2 - 2) + (2 - 2)... = 0

5
funemployed 16 hours ago 0 replies      
For the love of math, this!
6
dmunoz 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Ahhhh.... this is one of my biggest pet peeves. We're using the same words to mean wildly different things, and then arguing past each other about meaning. Every discussion thread I have seen on the matter has quickly brought up the relevant actual semantics, but people still want to argue.

It's a shame that ColinWright's post, linked by him below, got nuked by the moderators because it contains the most relevant information on the matter directly from an accredited mathematics professor, Terry Tao [0]. This is what should gratifies one's intellectual curiosity, not a series of posts that argue about the boring parts.

[0] http://terrytao.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/the-euler-maclaurin...

7
ColinWright 16 hours ago 5 replies      
Oh for the love of - does this really need to be said?

Really?

I mean, of course it's false! It's an instructive example of how apparently reasonable things go wrong, and why you sometimes really, really need to pay attention to the details.

Do we really need to be told that the sum of all the positive integers is a negative fraction? Of course we don't.

I despair sometimes, I really do. I need to go away and spend some time in my happy place.

8
russelluresti 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Ugh. First, the title of this article is wrong because in the article itself the author says it IS -1/12, just not the way the video proved it.

And, yes, I know in math that HOW you get the answer is somehow seen as being more important than the answer itself, but really? You consider this attention damaging? This is like the people who complain about Mythbusters because it's not "real science".

Look, anything that gets people more interested in math is great, especially when it's a video as harmless as this one (it's not as if this video could actually impact someone's life or well-being).

So drop this "I was the cool form of uncool before uncool became a thing" attitude and just be happy that people are interested in math for a change.

24
Ask PG: How would you fill out a YC application with YC as your idea?
145 points by trysomething  13 hours ago   24 comments top 10
1
mlchild 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Apologies in advance to Sam AltmanI know writing HN comments is not work. But I had fun answering! Back to the code._____________________________________________________________

Tell us in one or two sentences something about each founder that shows he or she is an "animal," in the sense described in How to Start a Startup.

Paul and Robert built the first SaaS company, Viaweb, which allowed users to build their own stores on the web. It became Yahoo Stores after its acquisition.

Jessica is an excellent writer, marketing whiz and is already working on the idea for our second major producta one-day version of our summer program in which a number of successful founders give talks to prospective hacker-founders. We think this will inspire even more of the kind of companies we like to invest in.

Trevor built a robot that duplicated the Segways functionality in a weekend using off-the-shelf parts.

Tell us in one or two sentences something about each founder that shows a high level of ability.

Trevor is working on the first self-balancing bipedal robot. Its almost ready.

Robert discovered buffer overflow, which helped bring the internet into the mainstream press.

Jessica managed a highly successful rebranding of the investment bank Adams Harkness as VP of marketing.

Paul is the author of On Lisp (1993) and ANSI Common Lisp (1995). (Have you ever tried programming in Lisp?)

For founders who are hackers: what cool things have you built?(Extra points for urls of demos or screenshots.)

Trevorhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EunicycleRobert and Paulhttp://ycombinator.com/viaweb/Paulhttp://www.paulgraham.com/arc.html

How long have you known one another and how did you meet?

Several years, mostly at school. [Ed. note: ???]

What is your company going to make?

A summer school for young, inexperienced hackers that are interested in starting a company but lack early-stage funding.

The founders will meet with us once a week for dinner, during which a speaker from the technology industry will answer questions and speak from hard-won experience.

If your project is software, what OS(es) and language(s) will you use, and why?

ARC

If you've already started working on it, how long have you been working and how many lines of code (if applicable) have you written?

A few monthsmost of the work has been planning the program, the code for the site is fairly simple.

If you have an online demo, what's the url? (Big extra points for this.)

http://ycombinator.com/sfp.html

How long will it take before you have a prototype? A beta? A version 1 you can charge for?

Once this application process concludes, the beta should be ready for launch.

How will you partition the work this summer; who will work on what?

All partners will help select companies and advise from past experience. Paul and Robert have more experience with investors and shepherding small companies through the necessary phases towards becoming big ones. Jessica has experience with marketing, branding, and working with large companies. Trevor is a hardware/software savant and is running a growing company of his own.

If you already have a business plan, what's the url? (Don't send us your business plan. Put it on a server and tell us the url. Ascii text preferred. Don't password protect it.)

[redacted]

How will you make money? Who will your customers be, how many are there, and how will they hear about you?

Our basic assumption is that young founders can succeed in building startups with good advising and seed capital. Given our average investment is $18k for 6% of 8 companies, just once company has to be worth $2.4 million for us to break even.

Well advertise in the computer science departments of prominent universities (e.g. Harvard, MIT) to recruit hackers who are looking for an alternative summer job to working at a big company.

Will you do price discrimination?

Well give slightly more money to larger groups, although we suppose thats investment discrimination.

Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

Obvious investment-side competitors are early-stage VC firms, who have more money and the trappings of success. Were banking on them ignoring our target group of early founders.

The competitors were really afraid of are competitors for these hackers time and attention. Fast-growing tech companies, graduate school, and even cushy jobs at big companies might have more superficial appeal. We need to make sure the most promising companies follow through on their potential.

Who will lose most if you succeed? (This need not be a competitor; TV networks have been hurt by email.)

Likely those very same competitors for our founders attention. Google and graduate CS programs might lose some great hackers, although we think in the long run theyll do better if younger programmers see the potential to start companies. The big losers will be the R&D/quant trading/IT/etc. departments at ossified giant companiestheyll lose the kind of brilliant people they use to bury in back offices.

Which companies, in order, are most likely to buy you?

KPCB/SequoiaGoogleMicrosoft

What do you know about your business that other companies in it just don't get?

Young, inexperienced founders can start massively successful companies. They dont need much money or trainingjust seed capital and a push in the right direction.

What's new about what you're doing?

Our focus on such early-stage companies and our plan to invest and work with these companies in batches are both quite novel. Most funds operate asynchronously and make much larger investments in much later-stage companies.

Why would it be hard for someone else to duplicate?

We have experience in starting companies from the ground up and insight into what matters (people, making something people want, thriftiness) and what doesnt (market size, the initial idea, professionalism, having an office, etc.)

Have you made any discoveries you consider patentable?

We think we move fast enough to not need patents.

What might go wrong? (This is a test of imagination, not confidence.)

Perhaps all of the startups will fail. Perhaps the founders will go back to school and the companies stagnate. Perhaps founders do actually need experience at a real job to succeed in business. Perhaps Bill Gates and Larry and Sergey are true needles in the haystack and we wont be able to find hackers who could be huge successes.

But we dont think so.

If you're already incorporated, when were you? Who are the shareholders and what percent of the company do each own? If youve had funding, how much, at what valuation(s)?

Self-funded.

If you're not incorporated yet, please list the percent of the company you plan to give each founder, and anyone else you plan to give stock to. (This question is more for you than us.)

[Ed. note: ???]

If you'll have expenses beyond the living costs of your founders, Internet access, server rental, etc., what will they be?

Space to hold our dinners, the food, and the investment money, of course.

Describe, in one sentence each, any companies any of you have started before. If they failed, why? (We consider failed companies valuable experience too.)

Paul and Robert founded Artix, which let art galleries go online. This failed (reason below) but became Viaweb, which allowed people to build their own web stores.

Trevor started Anybots, which has developed several wheel-based self-balancing robots and is closing on a bipedal robot.

If you could trade a 100% chance of $1 million for a 10% chance of a larger amount, how large would it have to be? Answer for each founder. (There is no right answer.)

Lets go with the cold mathematical answer and say $10 million.

If your startup seems at the end of the summer to have a good chance of making you rich, which of the founders would be likely to commit to continue working on it full time over the next couple years?

All of us.

Which of the founders would still want to be working for this company in 10 years, if it were successful, and which would rather sell out earlier and do something else? (Again, no right answer.)

All of us [Ed. note: just one year left!].

Are any of the founders covered by noncompetes or intellectual property agreements that overlap with your project? Will any be under consulting contracts this summer?

No.

Was any of your code written by someone who is not one of your founders? If so, how can you safely use it? (Open source is ok of course.)

No.

Will any of the founders have other jobs, responsibilities, or consulting work this summer?

No.

Tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered, and who discovered it. (The answer need not be remotely related to your project.)

Paul and Robert discovered that art galleries didnt want to go online in 1995. This may not seem surprising now, but it was to us then!

What else would you have asked if you were us?

Theres a joke here somewhere.

2
Aqueous 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear founders of Y Combinator,

We regret to inform you that we are unable to offer you a spot in this year's Y Combinator class. Do not take it personally. It does not reflect poorly on the quality of your company, "Y Combinator," or its founding idea. We received a huge number of compelling applications this year. Unfortunately, there just weren't enough spots to go around, so we had to make some difficult choices. As a result, we were unable to admit "Y Combinator" to this year's Y Combinator batch. Please do not be discouraged. Many fantastic ideas like 'Y Combinator' were also not admitted. In fact, we strongly encourage 'Y Combinator' to apply again next year!

Sincerely,

Paul Graham

Y Combinator

3
dutchbrit 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Filling in an application to a VC wanting to be a VC? Doesn't make any sense.
4
philip1209 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the Jeff Bezos philosophy of writing a press release as the project proposal.
5
keketiko 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How would you fill out a "Ask HN" submission asking HN how pg would fill out a YC application with YC as his idea?
6
javajosh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If pg actually answers this for any other reason than to see me eat my shorts, I'll eat my shorts.
7
vbv 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it would be even better if it was for Viaweb.
8
d0m 9 hours ago 1 reply      
He wouldn't tell you. However, he would connect with the right people and sneak his way in.
9
nichochar 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Dan?
10
goldenkey 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is just silly considering that YC grew out of a sustained and developed system, not some silly one-off idea.
25
The brain can process images seen for just 13 milliseconds kurzweilai.net
26 points by jonbaer  9 hours ago   13 comments top 7
1
joshvm 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Lots of interesting work on this by the military. They show rapid-fire photos of satellite imagery to analysts who are looking for interesting features. They monitor the brain activity and look for responses when features appear. Results show that the analysts' brains detect things before they're consciously aware of it.

They then tag the images that registered a response and look at them in more detail. Apparently it's fairly effective.

http://honeywell.com/News/Pages/news76.aspx

2
im3w1l 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If you show a picture, really quickly, faster than the "refresh rate" of the eyes, wouldn't it just be blended or motion blurred into a surrounding frame?Suggestion for methodology: First show neutral grey. The flash image for deltat. Then flash negative image for deltat. Then neutral grey again.This ensures the average over time is grey.
3
etrautmann 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The process of transducing light into neuronal spikes adds significant temporal smoothing, so an image briefly flashed on the retina will be lengthened in time somewhat before it even makes it to the brain. Need to look up exact numbers here, but this isn't all that surprising.

What is quite surprising is that rod photoreceptors are sensitive to single incident photons. That's truly unbelievable.

4
mnx 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The funny thing is they stopped at 13 ms because of the refresh rate of their screens couldn't go any faster.
5
jibsen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of Ayumu the chimp [1]. The difference between being able to perceive the overall image like a zebra, and the specific details like the position of nine numbers seems interesting to me.

[1]: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/16832379

6
elwell 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of those flashes of demon faces in The Exorcist.
7
Altenuvian 4 hours ago 0 replies      
wow - that is fast. wondering what this means for latency-mitigation in display devices?! waiting for carmack to chime in...
26
Obamas Changes to Government Surveillance nytimes.com
159 points by 001sky  17 hours ago   160 comments top 25
1
ck2 16 hours ago 6 replies      
None. There are no changes. He is reviewing a transition to changes.

And remember, these are only executive changes, which means if the next president is worse, well then the changes can be undone with the stroke of a single pen by a single person (and they might even decide not to tell the public).

The permanent bulk collection of data continues for future use by any president or agency when the laws don't hinder them. It's a library they can peruse now or 50 years from now.

ps. someone needs to do a mashup of his first campaign speech to end abuses, arguing against this other person

2
Zikes 16 hours ago 1 reply      
No stopgaps on data collection, only increased permissions to access the stored data. No word on how difficult it is to acquire those increased permission levels, could simply be an additional form to file.

NSLs remain nearly untouched. "Warrants" will continue to be issued with negligible oversight.

> Create a panel of advocates to represent privacy concerns in significant cases.

Because the process remains secretive with no constant public advocate presence, there's no reasonable way to initiate the process to determine what is a "significant case". Just as before, we cannot contest breaches of privacy if we are not aware of them.

3
blisterpeanuts 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Obama "acknowledges" Edward Snowden's role in triggering a public debate. Does this mean Mr. Snowden is officially a whistleblower-hero, or still a traitor who deserves life imprisonment?

As for the notion of requiring private telecomm companies to store data and provide access to the gov't, although still just a hypothetical situation and not yet policy, would this not simply shift the burden from the NSA to private companies?

Obviously, they're already handing over the data, but making it all official and open seems like a retrogressive policy that would in the long run backfire as Americans turn to overseas hosted services not beholden to the NSA. Perhaps even the domestic telecomm firms could get around it by offshoring their data storage and transmission services, such that the only domestic components would be the towers and switches, while the repositories of customer data would be safely overseas under some other entity's control (also not ideal, argh).

4
m52go 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is the same man who began an initiative called the Open Government Initiative before any Snowden revelations.

"My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and estabish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/open

Believing anything Obama SAYS, particularly concerning this issue, is foolish.

Look at what he's DONE. Nothing is changing.

5
hawkharris 16 hours ago 6 replies      
A century or two from now, when other nations reflect on the rise and fall of the United States, the Bush-Obama era will be one of the most striking because of how it fundamentally changed civil rights and the relationship between government and the press.
6
alecco 16 hours ago 3 replies      

  > Third, the legal safeguards that restrict surveillance against U.S. persons  > without a warrant do not apply to foreign persons overseas. This is not  > unique to America; few, if any, spy agencies around the world constrain their  > activities beyond their own borders. And the whole point of intelligence is to  > obtain information that is not publicly available. But Americas capabilities  > are unique. And the power of new technologies means that there are fewer and  > fewer technical constraints on what we can do. That places a special  > obligation on us to ask tough questions about what we should do.
Thanks. We, foreign consumers of american services and products, will sure remember this one.

7
x0054 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Obama = Change. Change = same shit, different day.

Obama has basically said that he knew about all of this, and he was ok with everything the government was doing. However, now that it's all public knowledge, he thinks that we need changes. Have some testicular fortitude, Mr. President. Either you are ok with what NSA does, or you are not. Don't make a speech where you tell me that you were cool with what NSA was doing all the way up to the point when it became public knowledge. And don't tell me in one sentence that this is an important public debate, and in another condemn the man who brought about this debate, Mr. Snowden.

Obama promised change, but Snowden just might actually deliver on that promise.

8
kungfooey 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, I love how this is presented. Kudos to the NYT for creating new ways for us to consume this information.
9
lispm 16 hours ago 0 replies      
For me as a German, all this does nothing. It was never and is still not advisable to store data on US servers and it is not advisable to use US IT services. Data is collected by the NSA and will be used by the US in arbitrary ways (economic espionage, extortion, no-fly lists, physical attacks, influencing political decisions, kidnapping, ...) without any international control.
10
aryastark 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Who is going to trust Obama? Then, who is going to trust the NSA?

Only fools. James Clapper lied about what the NSA was up to, to Ron Wyden, a member of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Clapper has still not been charged with anything.

There is no way to oversee an organization that only has to tell you whatever it wants to. Do people really not understand such a basic concept as this? Congress does not have special insight into what the NSA is doing. Everything Congress knows is whatever the NSA wants to tell Congress. It's all a sham. Kangaroo courts and pretend justice. As fake as all that crap North Korea shows tourists. As fake as Saddam's elections in Iraq.

11
mindslight 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Amazingly, both its subject and this "article" itself are covered here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7077982
12
snake_plissken 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Secret courts, secret opinions, NSLs and government sanctioned lists of "undesirables".

Am I the only one who sees shades of:-Nazi Germany-The USSR-(Cultural Revolution) China-Insert random eastern European cold war regime

13
benmathes 16 hours ago 0 replies      
No reason to trust, no way to verify.
14
diogenescynic 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"Changes" but it will all be in secret, so we'll have to take their word for it. Uh huh.
15
aragot 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Big up to the NYTimes. I'm impressed with US newspapers' willingness to speak up despite what they know about the surveillance. Those journalists can expect to be investigated and any wrongdoing will take them to jail. They're brave. We should thank them.

To the people who make those newspapers.

16
gaius 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I expected this to go to a 404.
17
kabdib 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't address reduction or elimination of technical means, and therefore is unacceptable. This can be turned evil with the stroke of a pen.
18
excellence24 11 hours ago 0 replies      
blah blah Obama just talking, trying to keep us on the edge, give the dogs a bone.

These government people move way to slowly, how long does it take with todays technology to communicate and figure out what needs to change? The longer we just keep 'talking', the longer they can continue with their scraping of data and secrets.

Someone or something is going to have the data; there's nothing that can be done about that. Marketers have been doing for a long time, the NSA just got CAUGHT. Marketers use it to make money by making sure you see the best ad for you, the NSA uses it to make money by 'stopping terrorists'. But what if all the data was free and the programs turing it into useful information were open-sourced? That would change the market entirely. Anyone could see the most important scraped news of the day, whether its a terrorist threat or just thrending news. It could be like a social network that everybody has already joined. Privacy would be interesting. Maybe you could only see from others what you choose to share yourself. But thats too long to get into here...

Clearly what needs to be done is this: the data that the NSA collects should only be accessible by the program. It needs to be fully autonomous. The biggest concern with the vast collection of data and secrets is the human element. So we should simply take the human element out of it. Make an open-sourced program and algorithm that reads the data when it needs to and automatically gets the results to those who need to see it. The code could be posted on github and master pulls can be voted on by the whole world, but we can start with just America maybe at first.

All of America shuts down for simple things such as football and the superbowl, dead peoples birthdays, religious holidays. I think we could dedicate a day or two to a simultaneous conversion about important things happening in our country moderated by artificial intelligence and by the end of the day take action on what we agreed upon. Gallup releases 'polls' so quickly, how come nothing comes from those?

But if we don't trust an artificial intelligence then WHO can we trust? Obama? Clapper? The Pope?

We could physically implement this system ourselves if we needed to, after we figure out what we as a nation/world want. There's a data center in Utah. We could literally go there and take control. but how many people would a 'protest' like that require? and if we come to the conclusion that thats the only other option, we should hurry before the military and Google finalize the perfect humanoid robot. Or else all hope might be lost. The people vs armies of drones and robots. Elysium here we come.

19
WalterSear 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Just enough to make it look like he's doing >something<.
20
gremlinsinc 6 hours ago 0 replies      
i voted twice for Obama, i feared for society if we had to deal with more leaders like Bush. to see a hero of mine fall so hard. I personally feel betrayed... i will never trust a republican, but now i can't trust democrats either. the fact is we need to do git clone github.com/germany/pirateparty.git usaTechParty.

A party that upholds the desires of its supporters, even giving thema voice and instituting some form of liquid democracy.

21
jcutrell 16 hours ago 2 replies      
> Do not "subvert, undermine, weaken or make vulnerable generally available commercial encryption" or standards.

I wish so bad that there was at least some kind of address for this. I highly doubt it will hit mainstream attention anytime soon again unless some kind of publicly accessible (read: marketable) scandal occurs to bring the news media around again.

22
emocakes 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The US is the "worlds only superpower", We will not apologize simply because our services may be more effective..

In other words, nothing is changing, and bad luck if you have an issue with it.

I can honestly say I'm looking forward to China rising.

23
zoom 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Without serious disclosure nothing he says matters.
24
glasz 16 hours ago 0 replies      
for months everybody is leaning back, watching information we already knew being unveiled. comfortably everybody is waiting for somebody to do something. for politics to correct itself. now politics reacts, everybody is kind of outraged because, you didn't guess it, they don't do anything instead of lamenting utter bullshit and discussions rise again. endless, as you should know by now, useless discussions pointing out this and that but nobody, in the middle of all confusion, reaches the simple conclusion:

you are fucked.we are fucked.we'll get fucked forever if we go on like that.

but i guess it's too hard for us tech people, supposedly highly educated with great intellect, to wrap our head around this. code, business and money are more important.

better go back to sleep, sheep!

25
Istof 14 hours ago 0 replies      
it doesnt matter if the government agency that collects that data is not called the NSA... they still would have it.
27
Ad blockers: A solution or a problem? computerworld.com
52 points by WestCoastJustin  15 hours ago   123 comments top 35
1
fab13n 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Regarding micro payments to fund websites: I wouldn't pay for most sites. Not because their content is worth nothing, but because it is uncomfortable to have a counter ticking, spending more cents for each of my mouse clicks. And of course, I don't want to do through a billing UI for each new site I visit, although this could be fixed.

However, I'm willing to pay an extra $10 a month to fund content providers, up to them to share it effectively. $2e10 of advertising budget for 2e8 US internet users is about $10 / person*month, and as large proportion of it doesn't end up in the website owners' pockets, so it could even be cheaper than that.

2
dredmorbius 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I turned to this page after the following experience (I make aggressive use of ad blockers and JS filtering generally).

This was in an incognito Chromium session where I don't run NoScript.

I was searching for some basic heat transfer references and found a page with a nice write-up on Newton's law of heat transfer. I copied the URL into the post I was composing as I was reading it. A "chat" dialog pops up asking if I need tutoring assistance. Um. No. So I ignore it.

The site then navigates me away from the page and onto a registration page.

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

My immediate and predictable response: I fired up 'sudo -e /etc/hosts' and added both hostnames to my blocklist. Though I took the courtesy of emailing the site's contact address and asking them what the actual fuck they thought they were doing.

Apparently Pearson Education have the educational market so fully sewn up they can get away with this kind of bullshit.

But seriously? What the actual fuck?

Upshot: why do people block the hell out of this stuff? It's goddamned annoying as hell.

I compiled a list some time ago on G+ that's worth repeating here:

Forbes asks: Why do programmers hate advertising so much?

First, I think it's hardly just programmers. I suspect most people find advertising to be a negative.

But as to us techies? Why do we hate thee? Let me count the ways:

1. It's intrusive. Many/most of us probably have some level of ADD/OCD. Or just plain environmental sensitivity.

2. It's distracting.

3. It promotes a host of anti-usability features: content muting, multi-page click-through articles, overly formatted pages, overlays, pop-ups, persistent floating top/right/left/bottom elements, audio, video, multiple audio/video.

4. It's creepy, and you're creeping me out. Tracking through various deceptive means, even though I've made very clear that I don't wish to be tracked. Incidentally, subscription content suffers a similar issue: I don't want an audit trail of all things I've read, even on one site, let alone across sites.

5. The ads themselves frequently position themselves to price-discriminate -- though how and when I can never be certain (which undermines the efficacy of all ads).

6. The mechanisms of advertising networks pose security issues: cross-site JS, iframes, Flash, and Java. Even just the proliferation of different JS sources creates a serious management and cognitive overload for the security- and privacy-conscious reader. A single article from a news site may contain over 20 JS sources.

7. The goods and services which are most highly advertised are those which I'm least inclined to buy. Especially for (so-called) food and entertainment, but also general consumer products, electronics, and various services, especially financial services. To the point that when I see advertising my first conscious reaction is "why do they have to try so hard to convince me that that is something worth buying?"

8. It's not relevant. There are a very limited number of times when I'm in a purchase mode. The real value of the Internet would be to (correctly) identify those times, and then find me the best deals on what I want, in the way that I want to obtain it. Which, frankly, dear, isn't online most of the damned time.

On that last point, I've been shopping in recent times for a number of moderately high-ticket items. Including spending a lot of time researching options on-line. My biggest take-away is that online purchase researching sucks massively. Contrast to the experience at a store with a well-trained, skilled retail staff. "Is this what you like?" "No, I'm looking for something that's more XXX". And as much as I disdain retail much of the time, the people who are good at it figure out what you want, what you can afford, and what they have that suits you, quickly, without wasting your time (and if you're lucky, making the exercise enjoyable).

It's something I've also addressed recently, "Search quality vs. search personalization". The upshot: there's a lot more information in the moment that's relevant to purchase logic than in a person's profile or market demographics. Advertisers/shoppers could avoid massive amounts of creep factor by focusing on this, probably with vastly superior conversion factors.

The final thought: advertising is well and good, but where the rubber hits the road is in making the sale. Which is where Amazon (and other sales-oriented sites: eBay, Craigslist, Apple's iTunes) wins all over any advertising-based site.

Update: oh, and the email I sent to Pearson? It bounced. I'm shocked, shocked ....

3
betterunix 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Ad blockers are the solution to an advertising industry that largely has zero respect for users. Ad blockers are the logical extension of pop-up blockers and spam filters.

If the Internet advertising industry could be trusted to behave itself nobody would install ad blockers. The fact that people are installing such software should be taken as an indication that today's ads are too intrusive and too disrespectful.

4
alextgordon 8 hours ago 2 replies      
99% of advertisers give the rest a bad name...

Why do we put age restrictions on explicit or violent movies? Because we don't want to influence kids' brains for the worse.

This principle applies to adults as well. The purpose of ads is to influence you. That "influence" goes to the highest bidder.

At their most benign, they just want you to buy their brand of otherwise identical detergent.

The worst ads are the ones for charities where some emaciated kid is filmed (in HD) tearfully looking into the camera. Fuck. That. My emotions are not the plaything of some advertiser.

What about the "one quick tip to lose weight" scams that don't-be-evil Google insists on serving up. Is that fine?

The advertising industry is not your friend. Don't waste your life trying to help them. Block everything.

5
vonskippy 12 hours ago 2 replies      
If the only value your website offers is to bring eyeballs to ad's, then it's time for you to find a new vice.

If you want to serve up ads on you site, make sure they're relevant, they're absolutely 110% malware free, and respect my privacy. And unless you're willing to take responsible for when those conditions aren't met, then don't whine when I do everything technical to block out the useless malware laden offensive ads that you do serve.

The difference between net ads and tv ads are that tv ads cost enough money that people who buy tv ads spend time and energy in being very selective about their market demographics and the type of ads they run. Plus I've never had a tv ad infect my tv and stop it from going to any other channel but CMT.

If me and my eyeballs are going to be your product, then I want a little respect for my participation.

6
kbuck 12 hours ago 1 reply      
> And some believe that today's ads aren't as obnoxious as yesterday's.

Today's ads are even worse than ads used to be (although the worse ads are less common now). These days, you can expect to have to see a full-screen ad or have to watch some sort of video before being allowed to view the content you requested. Then, once you finally get to view the content, you're assaulted with things like Vibrant IntelliTXT and JavaScript that injects content into your clipboard when you copy text.

I don't mind text ads. I don't mind most non-moving image ads, as long as they load fast and aren't too sizeable. Full-screen ads, video ads, flash ads, and JavaScript junk that modify the page contents are the problem here, and they're only getting worse as advertising companies figure out how to abuse our browsers more effectively.

7
guelo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The open web is a miracle, it's amazing that it exists. Back when the open nets were forming corporations like AOL and Compuserve tried to bottle it up but failed. That's why the web doesn't work in the way that publishers would like for their business models. If the web had worked the way they want it to it would have never become the success that it has.

But, we have to be vigilant. From now until the end of time they will be working to lock it down for their gain and society's loss. The sad part is that they will probably win because there will be teams at many corporations working full-time on locking things down and lobbying, they won't give up. The main hope now is that so many people have tasted freedom that they will fight to keep things open.

8
TrainedMonkey 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I think there has to be a better way, but it is not here yet, or we are not ready for it.

Right now using ad blocker significantly improves quality of browsing. I cringe every time I fire up a browser without adblock by how disruptive and annoying ads are.

9
malandrew 10 hours ago 3 replies      

    "Viewing ads is part of the deal if users want content to     be free, says Freitas."
I would imagine that a log of ad-blocking users are fine with paying for content if the price is reasonable (i.e. equivalent to the revenue a site gains from it's advertising sources). Any site owners complaining about ad-blockers is missing the opportunity to detect ad-blocking and try to sell that person an ad-free version of their service. Ideally this service would be a pay per view model, where I pay a fixed amount (like 5 cents to 10 cents per article read) or where I pay a fixed subscription fee (like $1 to $2 a month for unlimited articles).

I did the math a while back with NY Times online advertising revenue and I remember the value gained from non-paying users to be around 70 cents per month per user. I don't know about you, but I would happily pay 70 cents or even a full dollar or two for access to the NY Times ad free. Unfortunately, when a site does introduce an ad-free paid version they try to extract like 5x or more of the revenue they gain from advertising. I don't know about others, but when I encounter that type of gouging, I just look elsewhere for my news.

So Mssrs. Publisher, please offer a reasonable paid ad-free alternative or quit your bitching. Every ad you serve is an annoying distraction that distracts me, irritates me and slows down my browsing experience both in terms of bytes download and lines of javascript executed.

I am completely within my right to block all outgoing requests to any host I deem negative to my web browsing experience via my /etc/hosts/ file. If you happen to serve ads from those sites and I can't view them because I block them, that isn't my problem it is yours. Want me to pay, give me the ability to do so and be fair with your prices.

So long as you don't offer a paid service that I can buy and you support yourself via ads, you are not really considering me to be your customer, but your product. You are not in a position to complain when your product doesn't consent to being sold.

10
jotm 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Heh, ad blockers are both a solution for the users and a problem for the advertisers and publishers.

But they were created to deal with the insanity of the latter - with an ad blocker (and that probably includes JS blockers nowadays), you don't get all the wonderful pop-ups, pop-unders, sliding ads, floating survey invites, half a dozen text and image ads advertising often unrelated stuff, the super annoying audio coming from who knows where, unexpected redirects, the lost seconds while you wait for the page to load, and more.

If advertisers used better ad targeting, fewer and less intrusive ads, that would definitely reduce the number of people who install ad blockers.

11
Derbasti 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I block ads. I'd rather not read a website than read it with ads. If your business needs me to see your ads, I'd rather not be your customer. If these practices will bring down the ad industry, all the better.
12
gordaco 12 hours ago 3 replies      
We wouldn't see ad blockers as a solution if ads hadn't become a problem. As obvious as it seems for the users, advertisers don't seem to grasp it.

Anything flashy and/or moving is BAD.

Anything with actual javascript code is BAD. Especially, anything that tracks you is BAD.

Anything that temporarily prevents you from watching the content is BAD (I'm thinking about splash screens you have to close and unskippable videos).

Anything that modifies the behaviour of the web page you're visiting is BAD.

Until (at least) those are solved, ad blockers are most definitely a solution.

13
lazyjones 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Our website has ads too, but I fully support everyone who wants to block them. They add no value to the website and I'm only interested in people using our site, not in getting them distracted or annoyed. We even have an ad-free version of our main website (but it's not indexed by search engines).

I've also learned that people working at ad agencies as well as those handling ads on the publisher side tend to be extremely incompetent w.r.t. web publishing. They do not understand how usability, reputation, visitor/customer satisfaction work. They tend to believe that looking at ads is the most important thing people visit websites for (and possibly that people make road trips just in order to look at the billboards).

14
jrabone 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Ads on desktop browsers are no longer the problem - between ABP and Ghostery one need never see another ad. The mobile device is the new battleground, but the prevalence of "dual-funded" apps (free, ad-supported and pay-for, ad-free) gives me some hope that a sane business model will emerge.

Meanwhile I reconfigured bind on my LAN to DNS-spoof roughly 3500 ad-serving domains and redirect them to a logging but otherwise content-free HTTP server (hey, it's OK when my ISP or my government do it to ME, right?). Very interesting just how bad the problem is. I recommend you try it to get a real feel for just how much crap the average page requests behind your back.

15
josephlord 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't block ads but I do largely block Javascript and Cookies (thank-you Noscript). It does greatly reduce the number of ads but that is a side effect (the fact that it blocks obnoxious moving content is intended). No if I could just get Noscript for mobile Safari...
16
pmiller2 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't particularly like ads, but I don't mind if they're small, unobtrusive, and clearly marked as ads. Also, all the usual caveats about respecting privacy apply. I find there are very few of these types of ads around these days. Google text ads used to be this way, but then they started injecting them into SERPs in such a way that they looked more like results than ads. Also, popunders and popups need not apply: they make my whole browser unusable, and that's unacceptable.

In addition to individual ads needing to be unobtrusive, the totality of the ads on the page needs to not make the page unusable. This is the thing that annoys me about Youtube ads, for the most part. I visit youtube to watch videos, and if I have to sit through an ad every time before I can do that, I start to get annoyed.

This isn't the same as how TV ads work, either. Sure, each ad is 30 seconds, and together they make an hour worth of programming equal to about 42 minutes of content, but each commercial break is a few minutes long, which makes them effectively skippable. Imagine if a commercial break were 1 minute long (so there were 18 of them per hour). Wouldn't that get annoying fast?

17
erikig 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ad blockers are going to gradually become irrelevant (like pop-up blockers) primarily because of the mobile web.

I believe the adoption of the mobile web is forcing advertisers to reconsider their strategies. With the limited screen real-estate and cut-throat competition for those pixels it becomes difficult for the marketers to go overboard.

18
gathly 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The internet was designed for free information exchange. If people struggle to turn it into E-commerce, I couldn't care less.
19
kybernetyk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Without ad blockers I would be back to using gopher and usenet.
20
fatman 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel the same way about ad blockers as I do about skipping commercials with the DVR - my purchasing decisions are almost never influenced by ads, so why would I bother watching them? I'm just afraid that someday, even without DVR's and Adblockers, companies will figure out that I'm not buying their crap and stop offering me free TV shows and websites, ads or no.
21
bowlofpetunias 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't "block" ads. I just opt not to download them.

I'm not being pedantic, we should really learn to stop adopting these insidious Newspeak tricks. Because it's not merely annoying propaganda, it has time and time again ended in criminalization. Some examples: equating "hackers" with criminals, equating copying with theft, labeling the recreational use of drugs as "abuse".

Time and time again we've seen repressive legislation after years of propaganda by manipulating the language in which a subject was discussed.

I don't block adds. I am totally free not to download yoursite/ad/bigassbanner.swf when all I want is to read yoursite/article.html. I'm not doing anything wrong, and if you're trying to trick me into downloading bigassbanner.swf anyway and I use tools to help me avoid that, you are the one who is using ethically dubious tactics, and I'm just responding to that.

You want me to pay for your content in any way, fucking ask me first, or don't put it on the open internet.

And it's not about whether or not the ads are "obnoxious", that's another red herring. I don't like any advertising, I don't want it, I don't need it, and I'm certainly not going to waste my time and bandwidth downloading it, nor am I going to allow it to take up space on my screen or have their tracking tactics violate my privacy.

I don't need any excuse to refuse to see ads. It's my time, my bandwidth, my screen, my privacy, my eyeballs. Fuck ads. There is no such category as "acceptable" ads.

The only "acceptable" ads are the ones I choose to accept up front. So far, only very few sites have asked me that, and they all threw tracking shit at me when I obliged, so fuck those as well.

After 15+ years of onesided unethical tactics I have no interest in being in any way nuanced about it. The online advertising business fundamentally rotten, and they can go screw themselves. And with them any publisher that tries to leverage these tactics for profit.

22
linuxhansl 7 hours ago 0 replies      
People can say and do what they want... If there is a moving or worse a sounding ad, I will block it.

I do not mind text or (still) image ads.

Show some respect for the viewers and ad blocker will not be needed.

23
d5ve 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think of online advertising in the same way as I now do smoking in a workplace, pub or restaurant - I can't believe people used to live like this. Using someone else's browser and seeing the distracting and intrusive ads feels a bit like trying to eat a meal surrounded by the smell and eye irritation of second-hand smoke.
24
D9u 2 hours ago 0 replies      
https://opensource.conformal.com/wiki/adsuck

All that crap doesn't reach my browser.

25
strubleandecure 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
In this age of drive-by downloads, (100% legal) sorched-earth adblocking has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. If the web advertising would police themselves better none of this would be neccessary. They are not held responsible in any financial and/or legal sense for any damage they incur when a malware incursion occurs, or the dire consequences for a end-user if they get botnetted into doing something dire that would bring down the wrath of law enforcement.

The longer they drag their feet on reforming the Wild Wild West that is web advertising the more likely adblocking will turn into the status quo for an increasing percentage of people and they're not going back to the old ways of usage anytime soon. All the guilt-tripping advertisers are trying to pull is wasted on adblockers because they're not the ones actually producing the content people give a shit about, a subtle but important difference It's like venture capitalists trying to harangue the customer base of a startup they're involved with.

I don't expect things to improve with the ad networks anytime soon. Just the mere thought of the DNT flag being default on Firefox was enough to send them into a frenzy. Most of them explicitly ignore the flag anyway.

26
ankitoberoi 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Just Blocking Ads on all websites, is not a solution. You are only trying to put publishers out of business who provide and share information.

I actually wrote a post on the subject sometime ago: http://www.adpushup.com/blog/ad-blocking-bad-news-consumers/

Sorry about the plug, I'm a co-founder @ AdPushup and a near future product goal is also to prevent publishers from Ad Blockers.

I know I'll get downvoted here (everyone just hates ads so much), but there are networks which do serve malware-free ads.

Also, you don't want to punish all the publishers just because some (or even if it's a majority) do bad.

27
nathancahill 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I used an ad blocker until I started showing ads on one of my websites.

Now, I click ads on blogs I read frequently and tools that I use and support. Gittip and Flattr (and Bitcoin) could replace this behavior if they had wider adoption.

28
smtddr 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Time to get downvoted into the earth's core... AdBlockers are a problem.

I know "Everyone hates ADs"(TM), but really... that's how everything has worked up 'till now. ADs and/or paid. The advertisements around sports are a significant reason why that whole thing works; why those athletes get the money they get. They can get the attention of many eyes and all those eyes get exposed to ads. Take away _all_ the advertising-dollars and we'll see how long these huge pro-sports events last.

The internet became a big thing and people would like to show you content for free but how will they support it? I don't want a paid-subscription for every single quality website I visit. I rather they just show me ads. If I really like the content of the website, I might even give them a few clicks on the ads.

For better or for worse, advertisement-money is behind most forms of free content, especially entertainment-related. If anyone has a better idea, I'm all ears.

29
_cipher_ 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Definitely a solution. For many years web sucked. Still sucks (and much more).

I personally, do not care for any company that stores cookies on >my< system without my permission.

30
jsmith0295 11 hours ago 2 replies      
The solution is simple: websites just need to start detecting adblock and refusing let someone use the site with it enabled. If you don't like it...go pay for an ad free service. Nobody deserves to get something for nothing.

Edit: Additionally, using someones server resources that they pay for without contributing anything to their revenue, if ads are in fact an important source of their revenue, is effectively stealing. Just because the ads annoy you doesn't justify screwing the people who pay to run the site you're using.

31
Kiro 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I turned off AdBlock when I realized how many sites break with it enabled, for example all sites with GTM. I used to think the sites were just broken in general but now I know better.
32
tbarbugli 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A solution, assholes :)
33
pasbesoin 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Like Usenet, too many people have started talking about them.

Personally, I don't mind the idea of ad-supported content. But the malware/exploitation risk, and the utter distraction many moving, "noisy" ads cause me, continue to make it a non-starter for me, personally.

Back in the "early days", I actually encountered and clicked through on a fair number of useful ads. But... as time went on, they did not remain useful, nor benign.

34
yetanotherphd 9 hours ago 1 reply      
People have a right to use ad-blockers. It's their computer after all.

However, a lot of things that people like to use, and might even have been willing to watch ads in order to use, will not be viable if everyone used adblockers.

It's really that simple. However, most people don't like to acknowledge that given the opportunity, the will freeload of others, or that in some contexts freeloading is natural and not immoral

35
vezzy-fnord 13 hours ago 1 reply      
A superfluous solution. They're easily fingerprintable, unlike blocking ad trackers from the hosts file.

http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/

28
Show HN: Reddit-based product recommendations (weekend project) youshouldbuythese.com
55 points by nathan_f77  14 hours ago   21 comments top 7
1
archagon 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Out of curiosity: when you say "weekend project", do you mean one person working for a single weekend? Because I've been seeing more and more "weekend projects" showing up on HN that look like they took a small team a week to put together, and it's really making me feel self-conscious about taking several days to just to get a couple of JS frameworks up and running on a simple proof-of-concept web-app to say nothing of CSS, UI, server stuff, QA, error handling, etc. etc. etc. Am I really that far out of the loop?! Either way, great work!
2
pyduan 13 hours ago 2 replies      
This is great. For a weekend project this looks and feels very polished.

Possible suggestions: it looks like it is 'just' retrieving one's list of subscribed subreddits then displaying manually curated lists for each category, which means every user who is subscribed to a subreddit will be shown the same products in this category.

I don't know if you are planning on continuing work on this project, but if you are adding more items implementing an actual recommender system could do wonders (for example, by looking at what users with similar subscriptions have favorited). I feel the Reddit-browsing demographic is one that would be very receptive to this type of thing since some subreddits are all about about social-based discovery.

I'm willing to guess one can learn a surprising lot about one's preferences by looking at their Reddit subscriptions. For example, you may be able to guess the clothing style of someone who is subscribed to r/malefashionadvice, r/newyork, and r/finance, or that someone who reads both r/audiophile and r/metal might like different headphones than someone who participates a lot in r/classicalmusic.

3
ecesena 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a Reddit account but no subreddits. The result is a "Sorry, we couldn't find any products!". I'd recommend a fallback... it may be not personalized, but at least it gives me something.

Another feedback, the title is a bit misleading to me. I expected to find a list of products sorted la Reddit, like [1], not really a personalization based on my subreddits.

[1] http://www.theneeds.com/shop/hot

4
joncp 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It suggested SublimeText. Blasphemy! I subscribe to the vim subreddit, so they must be trying to mock me.
5
benologist 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was thinking of doing something like this last year but never got around to it. I wanted to build the user experience around commenting on reddit using eg #buythis or #dontbuythis anywhere in a comment and it'll hopefully attract attention and spread. I think there's especially potential with movies and games on itunes and amazon.
6
styluss 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Good idea. Funny that half my recommendations I already have.
7
notatoad 13 hours ago 2 replies      
from the faq:3) How do you find these products?Most of the products on our site are hand picked. We sometimes use automated tools to search Reddit for product links, and only import the awesome ones.

that's boring. i was expecting some sort of algorithmic awesomeness, just pasting the amazon urls of things you see on reddit into a website is not especially novel.

29
When a great product hits the funding crunch andrewchen.co
74 points by _pius  19 hours ago   39 comments top 17
1
mgkimsal 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
"If anything, this trend will only continue. San Francisco housing costs continue the rise, while computing infrastructure only gets cheaper and more flexible."

So... don't do this in SF. One of the primary arguments I've heard for moving to SF is "that's where the money is". Well... if they're not handing out the money like they did in 99, or 2004... there's one less reason to relocate yourself (or a team) there.

Yes, there are certainly other benefits to SF, but if you're expected to have built a product/service, marketed it, and begun building a customer base before you get useful angel or VC funding... you can at least attempt to do that from many less expensive locations.

2
carsongross 18 hours ago 1 reply      
At some point many entrepreneurs need to ask themselves WTF they need the venture money for anyway. If you are going to have to go ahead and build a viable product to get any money... why not just keep on keepin' on, and keep the upside? You can scale costs with the success of your business anyway, and, if you aren't insane, you are billing recurring, so you've got a pretty good idea where minimal revs will be for the next year.

Sure, there are perpetually money-losing ideas, like twitter, that still need the old model, but most startups I see these days don't have to be built that way.

> A modern startups costs are all people costs

Very true. And one of the things that startup founders can arbitrage.

And, let me say again, thank you everpix team. You've done the startup community a huge service by being so open about things.

3
ChuckMcM 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good read. Clearly if the series A type people get too risk averse they will lose out on winners, if they are not risk averse enough they sink a lot of capital into non-winners. Greed and Fear the eternal balance.

What is interesting to me about the analysis is the people vs infrastructure costs. 15% of their costs went to the product, most everything else was people cost. Inverting that number suggests to me that you have to have 85% gross margins just to break even[1], and you're looking at "growing" the business on one or two points of margin better than that. Ouch. Mitigating legal and office costs might help.

[1] I understand that at their current subscription level vs new subscribers and lifetime value of the subscribers they get, but as gross measure breaking down the costs and separating the people costs from the 'product' costs it is pretty sobering.

4
austenallred 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"You can see that other than the top-line metric of total signups, the other metrics are quite solid."

Try as you might, I don't think it's possible to downplay that statistic. The overall numbers of signups need to be higher than they were in 2003, but anecdotally it seems like the percentage of the market you need to capture (and percentages of the market the startup will reasonably capture) haven't changed drastically. 1,000,000 users used to be almost the entire iOS App Store market - now it's a small sliver. Everpix was the rare scenario in which there's a solid product, solid team, and traction that seems like great traction, but casts too much doubt on its ability to grow to where it needs to to justify investment.

After the exception (that will always exist), your seed round says, "Alright, I think this could have potential. Let's try an experiment." Your Series A says, "Experiment successful. Let's grow this thing." There are more experiments being tried, but if you take those same ratios into 2003 (user adoption would be much slower, and the numbers would be lower), and Everpix would still be a failed experiment. It's harder to hit x users than x/2 users, surely, but it's easier than ever to get x users. I would argue easier than it used to be to get x/2 users.

The ratios of companies not getting a Series A is different, but that's largely because more experiments (seed rounds) are tried than ever. It seems like you can raise a seed round (<$50K) on almost nothing. Raising a Series A is still hard.

The target is moving, but so is the consumer. Comparing numbers today vs. numbers 5 years ago isn't a testament to the investment scenario changing, it's a testament to the Internet and the world changing.

5
jmduke 18 hours ago 1 reply      
While I don't think this is a particularly bad analysis, I think its a short-sighted look of what happened with Everpix. Yes, human capital is a massive sinkhole, but this article seems to be focused on the funding/HR side of finances as opposed to the reality of running a business with non-trivial variable costs.

Andrew argues that "Monetization wont save you if its not combined with growth". I'd argue that monetization won't save you if its not combined with a sane business model in which marginal revenue is larger than marginal cost.

I prefer this analysis, posted by an HN user on one of the previous Everpix discussions:

http://research.ivanplenty.com/2014-economics-everpix-shutdo...

6
AndrewKemendo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My question is, in 2016, will the bar be even higher? Maybe angel investors will expect a working product, reasonable traction, and product/market fit all before they put in the first $1M?

Try 2013/14.

Just as an example using our company, we have a well rounded team with experience in the industry, working beta (nothing scalable), letters of intent from large industry players and several beta users. Every Angel I have talked to says they can't invest (even low 6 figures) without significant traction, on the order of thousands of monthly paying customers.

By that time I won't need their money.

The problem is, for leading edge technology and people with families working part time its that extra layer of difficult to move quickly with iterations and improvements, so that slows our entire dev cycle down SIGNIFICANTLY.

I have spoken to others in our region (D.C.) who say the same thing, so its not unique.

7
ig1 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The milestones have definitely moved, but so have the underlying costs. It costs far less to build a solution, deploy it and acquire users. Modern languages, frameworks and API services save man-years of time, cloud hosting means you can get on demand for pennies what would have cost thousands in upfront server costs.

The milestones for user numbers have also inflated, because simply the number of people on the internet has exploded as has the amount of time they spend online across multiple devices. It's also become much cheaper to acquire users due to the collapse of ad prices and virality of modern distribution platforms.

Seed rounds are also much bigger, a seed round of $1m would have been exceptional in 2004. Now people wouldn't batter an eyelid. You've also seen VCs who were previously Series A investors now doing seed investment as well.

8
thatthatis 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Everpix failed to achieve basic unit economics: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6678135

It's a nice story and all to say that they failed even though they were successful. But that's not the truth. They failed as a business, and thus their business wasn't funded further.

When you can't cover your COGS as an Internet company, your business model is what sucks, not the funding environment.

9
dasil003 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Total tangent, but this really jumped out at me:

> The secrecy thats so deeply embedded in the organization facilitates their distribution strategy- can you imagine building your company culture around your marketing strategy? Thats what Apples done, though its not often talked about.

I've never thought about Apple that way at all. To me Apple was always about the product first, and the secrecy and marketing was built around that. They don't announce a product until it's ready to ship because it's stupid to talk about something that's not finished yet (unless you're Microsoft and you need to do it to keep your long-term enterprise customers on the hook). Jobs greatest strength may arguably have been as a pitchman, but wasn't his greatest passion the product itself? At the very least, Apple could not hire a retain the level of technical talent they have had based on being marketing first.

10
rpedela 18 hours ago 2 replies      
With yearly revenue of $340K, why couldn't they keep going? I realize that is smaller than their costs, but $340K is enough to pay 2-3 employees and the other costs (hosting, etc). Didn't they only have seven employees? Why are the total office expenses $128K? Why $565K for legal fees? Seems like they wasted a lot of that $2.3 million investment.
11
codegeek 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"6 FTEs plus operations costs about $100k/month"

Genuinely interested in understanding this. If we divide 100k by 6, it is about 17K (rounded). Other than Salary,Payroll,benefits etc, what comes under "operations". Rent ? hardware cost ? datacenter/hosting ? Would really like some details in general on this because on the surface, 17K /employee/month seems very high for a startup.

12
smoyer 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"My question is, in 2016, will the bar be even higher? Maybe angel investors will expect a working product, reasonable traction, and product/market fit all before they put in the first $1M? How much can market-risk be proved out before any professional money is raised?"

At some point, the start-up founders have done all the work and bootstrapped themselves into a thriving business. If the VCs (or Angels) delay the funding too long, there's no value for them to add between those rounds and an acquisition.

13
saturdayplace 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like an argument in favor of a bootstrapped companies which intentionally keep costs low and intend to go for slow growth instead of a spectacular flameout. Because infrastructure costs have come down so much, it now feels like companies are more likely to remain viable as bootstrapped concerns than shoot-for-the-moon operations.
14
smackfu 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Notice that this article is from November at the time of the shutdown, and Everpix has released a lot more data now.

https://github.com/everpix/Everpix-Intelligence

15
anatari 18 hours ago 3 replies      
If this trend continues, the implication will be that venture capital will cease to exist as we know it, but instead will resemble traditional private equity where capital is mostly allocated to established viable businesses.
16
mathattack 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"A modern startups costs are all people costs."

This one sticks with me a lot. All the cloud/virtualization/thisandthat/outsourcing really puts the people at the center. It makes fighting for sustainable competitive advantage that much harder.

17
clamchowderz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
he makes a lead gen pop up come up when you visit...not a fan.
30
Announcing The Matasano/Square CTF matasano.com
274 points by alepper  1 day ago   63 comments top 25
1
tptacek 1 day ago 4 replies      
Go easy on us for a bit; this is a fresh deploy in a new environment and it's bound to be janky. The odds of it not completely asploding tonight are pretty low.

Happy to answer questions.

One obvious question we haven't answered: how long will it be up for? Answer: a'unno. Until it gets boring? Or super expensive? We're in no rush to shut it down. I've never understood why awesome CTF events are so eager to shut down.

Here's what it looks like:

http://twitter.com/tqbf/status/423992147155509248/photo/1

We're on Freenode #uctf if you want to bug us live.

In case you're interested: this is a very small Rails app talking to an emulator we wrote in Golang that exports an HTTP/JSON interface.

2
haberman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've worked a lot in assembly, but never tried to exploit anything before. This is like crack.

I've always been meaning to try out a few public problem sets of this sort that a couple university security courses publish. Theirs are often based on a VM image with various binaries inside them that you are supposed to exploit. While those would probably have the advantage of being slightly more relevant to my everyday work (since they're running a Linux OS/environment more like the one I regularly use and program for), this contest makes it much easier to get over the hump of setting everything up, and of course the points/competition aspect is highly motivating.

Nicely done. :)

3
haberman 1 day ago 1 reply      
PSA for people like me who aren't security specialists: "shellcode" (in the survey) does not mean "a shell script", it means this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellcode
4
gibybo 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can someone explain what "cmp.b@r13, 0x2400(r14)" does, and/or how I would find out myself?

I looked through the manual and saw the instruction 'cmp' tests the two parameters for equivalence, but I don't see 'cmp.b' anywhere. I found the TI manual for the instruction set which happens to say something about '.B' being a byte operation, but I'm not sure if that's related.

The tutorial explained that @r13 uses the value in memory for the address in register 13, but '0x2400(r14)' is really confusing.

I was thinking it just meant register 14, but that doesn't seem to be the case because the comparison fails when r14 (which is the value 0x0000 at this point) and @r13 match. I thought it also could mean the literal value '0x2400', but the comparison still seems to fail when it should match, and that doesn't explain the r14 in parenthesis at the end of it.

5
orthecreedence 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to jump at hacking challenges in high school, blowing off homework and in the summers staying up til 5am.

Nowadays I see these and I have to practically tie myself to the ship's mast to not drop everything I'm doing and sink days into it. I couldn't resist with Stripe's CTF but had to quit after I got busy. This one's especially hard because I love tinkering/building embedded devices.

I guess the point is please, please keep this running as long as you can so I can have a crack at it when I'm not working day and night =].

6
jwise0 1 day ago 2 replies      
During the tutorial, it seems like the memory dump goes blank for me (it loses its scroll bars, and loses its contents) -- http://i.imgur.com/ta9iykd.png

This is Firefox 25.0~b1+build1-0ubuntu0.12.04.1, on Ubuntu 12.04. I'll try it on something more modern when I get home.

Looking forward to it!

7
IgorPartola 1 day ago 1 reply      
Dean Pelton: Agnes, cancel all my appointments.

Agnes: What appointments?

Dean Pelton: ...Wishful thinking.

Damn. There goes my weekend.

8
neur0mancer 1 day ago 1 reply      
The lock (fake) manual is available here:

https://microcorruption.com/manual.pdf

9
strags 1 day ago 2 replies      
FYI - On level 3, the "okay" button is obscured by the page footer, and can't be clicked on one of my machines. Scolling down doesn't help, the button remains obscured by the page footer which scrolls with the page.
10
gibybo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Possible bug in the score board:

In most cases, it won't let me see the scores for levels that I haven't beaten yet. Presumably this is because seeing the input size and min cpu cycles would be a strong hint about how to solve the level.

However, when viewing a particular user's profile (e.x. https://microcorruption.com/profile/294), it shows their completion stats for the level you are currently on, despite having not beaten it yet. The levels after it are still obscured, though.

11
darklajid 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Encountered quite some bugs with FF (Aurora here), most prominently the highlight wasn't updated when I moved a step forward.

Suggestion on top of that: It would be really nice to grab the whole 'firmware' and dump it to a local .hex file. If that isn't allowed for obvious reasons/by design: Fair enough.

12
nardi 1 day ago 0 replies      
And then it turns out that this was a massive Mechanical Turk.
13
midas007 1 day ago 0 replies      
14
richadams 1 day ago 0 replies      
I encourage anyone who's avoiding taking part because they don't know assembly or reverse engineering to at least give the tutorial a try, you might just surprise yourself!

Having not really touched assembly that much before, I found the tutorial to be an excellent introduction. I'm now battling with level 4 after thinking I wouldn't even get past the first level.

Great work Matasano & Square!

15
dcwilson 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone is worried about participating because they don't understand this domain very well, don't be. The tutorial is very useful, and the interface is generally very nice. Check it out.
16
adsche 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome, I'm having a lot of fun reactivating my assembler knowledge.

Also, I want to compliment you on the interface, my laptop broke yesterday and I'm doing this on a borrowed Acer A500 tablet without any serious problems.

17
Veraticus 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is embarrassing, but... I'm totally stuck on puzzle #2 (Sydney) since the cmp doesn't seem to match up with what's in memory, and I bet that the puzzles won't get any easier from here! Is there a good resource, trove of documentation, or excellent book for those of us who would love to learn how to do this stuff? The tutorial great, but it was definitely pretty basic.
18
voltagex_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is great. I hope at least the UI is open-sourced at some point - it's really clear and it'd be good for other reversing tutorials.
19
busterarm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was all excited with myself for passing the first one after the tutorial and then couldn't get past the second...though I've been drinking.

This is very cool and I think would be "even more awesome" if there were a separate version that provided a tutorial for the skills required for each level.

For us 'tards. :P

20
quantumpotato_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
I went through the tutorial. Seems very cool. Disappointed that "password" worked though - I thought it would show me how to read the value my input was compared to instead of just matching the string (and lucky guessing).
21
cpher 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone completely inept in this niche, I'm looking forward to the results. I hope you share them. You'll probably have to dumb them down for us commoners.
22
redshirtrob 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is fun. For those looking for more details on the instructions and addressing modes, check out the MSP430 User's Guide:

http://www.ti.com/lit/ug/slau049f/slau049f.pdf

23
spydum 1 day ago 0 replies      
I put my credit card number in, and it didn't give me an account. Did I do it wrong? Why isn't there a padlock on the signup? Ohh nooo...
24
banachtarski 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just did the first one. This is a lot of fun. Great work!
25
smoyer 1 day ago 1 reply      
This would be a great way to crowd-source the cracking of a digital lock ... I hope you're opening the warehouse that contains all the NSA's secrets (every HN story has to have comments that reference the NSA or they'll be thrown into the dead-pool).
       cached 18 January 2014 14:02:01 GMT