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1
TldrLegal Software Licenses Explained in Plain English tldrlegal.com
136 points by Walkman  6 hours ago   39 comments top 19
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XiZhao 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hey guys, tldrlegal creator here. Just a quick note -- I am really glad to see discussions about license interpretations here, this is exactly what I hoped for when I first started the project. As a reminder on tldrlegal you can give feedback using the black tab on the right and also suggest a change to any license page by editing it when you're signed in! My biggest goal is to make sure content on tldr is of the highest quality and I'm really grateful that you guys are taking the time to critique and raise questions about the ways things have been summarized. Many of the summaries are outdated, and the best way for you guys to get your thoughts integrated is to use the editing features on the site! Tldr - you can edit license content on the site!
2
JoshTriplett 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems quite nice. Two things I'd love to see, which would make it even more handy:

- I'd love to see each license that has a standard SPDX identifier (https://spdx.org/licenses/) include that identifier as metadata in its tldrlegal record. (And ideally tldrlegal.com should have a standard URL to reach the one-and-only license corresponding to a given SPDX identifier.)

- I'd love to see standardized tags for OSI-compliant Open Source licenses, GNU-approved Free Software licenses, GPLv2-compatible licenses, and GPLv3-compatible licenses. (For the latter two, it'd be interesting to have a generalized tagging mechanism for saying "compatible with (other license record)", but in practice those are the two cases that matter most, and too much generality might not be a good thing.)

Also, this site seems to be doing something with icon fonts that doesn't work: I see missing-character glyphs for characters F098 and F099 where Facebook and Twitter icons should appear, and an "fl" ligature where a search button should appear. (Firefox 27 on Linux, in case that matters.)

I also don't see the placeholders on the username, email, and password fields in the form that pops up when clicking the "Sign Up" link; the placeholders in the form on the front page do appear. (Consider using real labels rather than placeholders for forms like that, to make them more accessible.)

3
anjbe 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I have to take issue with TldrLegals summary of the ISC license: https://tldrlegal.com/license/-isc-license

It starts out with, The ISC license is not very well regarded because it has an and/or wording that makes it (debatably) legally vague. Um, really? There is only one person who thinks that: rms. The ISC license isnt the most popular permissive license, but it is reasonably common, being used by several large organizations (like, well, the ISC), and of course by a number of people for personal projects.

So aside from it not being copyleft, why _does_ rms (and thus the FSF licenses page) dislike the ISC license? Well, the ISC and Pine licenses both contain the following wording:

Permission to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software is hereby granted

University of Washington apparently tried to claim that this disallowed distribution of modified versions of Pine. Of course, that interpretation is completely ridiculous, as evidenced by 1) the reaction on debian-legal https://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/11/msg00138.html and 2) the large number of people who use the license to this day.

But because _one_ copyright holder interpreted those words in a way that nobody else does, the FSF has claimed ever since that any license using such wording is dangerous (not nonfree, just dangerous). Which is silly. Anyone can misinterpret a licenseI have seen several people release code under the GPL and then try to claim that prevents commercial redistribution. Would the FSF list that as a reason not to use the GPL? Of course not.

Anyway, the thing that bothered me the most about the TldrLegal entry was the statement that its not very well regarded. More accurate would be to say not well regarded _by the FSF_, but even that wouldnt paint the whole picture because it doesnt account for organizations like OpenBSD or ISC who actively prefer it.

By the way, heres some interesting reading from Paul Vixie about the history of the ISC license: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/comp.protocols.dns.bin... In response to the noise made by the FSF, the ISC changed the and to and/or, though of course that didnt change the FSFs mind at all. OpenBSD still uses the and wording.

4
einhverfr 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It is an interesting project and likely useful.

At the same time, I wonder how clear the descriptions are, particularly of the permissive licenses (this is a critique, not a teardown). I looked at the FreeBSD and MIT licenses because of the fact that there is a subtle difference in the licenses which can cause some confusion: the MIT license explicitly allows sublicensing while the BSD licenses do not.

The descriptions were good. The MIT description was exactly the way I read the license text. The 2-clause BSD/FreeBSD license said "you can do almost anything" which immediately raises the question of "what can't you do?" My reading of the license is that the answer is "sublicense" (i.e. you can include the work in product of a different license, but you cannot change the license on the BSD code in the process of transmitting it, and that this limitation does not exist in the MIT license, were you can not only change the license but likely assert status as licensor when you do so). IANAL, but this is the sense I get from Larry Rosen's book ont he subject.

Again, I don't know that licenses can be perfectly explained in plain English, so this is a fairly minor concern if the site exists primarily as a conversation starter rather than something that people want to use as some sort of authoritative reference.

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ketralnis 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"iTunes" has no results. So I searched "Apple Terms" like the autocomplete suggests, and get "Nothing summarized yet". No "Fulltext" for that one either. Why suggest it if you don't have it?

I also can't click the back button from "https://tldrlegal.com/license/apple-terms-of-service#changes..., it seems to send me right back to itself.

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shortsightedsid 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I met a lawyer at LinuxCon Europe last year. One thing interesting she said was that of all the other professions, a software developer was the closest to actually understanding legalese. That's because devs understand if-then-else, switch-case, variables etc.. That's exactly what the legal language style is.

Whereas, said party....

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kudu 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish the Apache License was more popular. It's in the same spirit as the MIT License, but it provides more protections regarding patents, for example. This prevents the "bait and switch" method of licensing a work under a permissive license but restricting it under patent law.
8
Strilanc 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I noticed that the BSD 2 has a 'CANNOT' group that says:

> Hold Liable

> Describes the warranty and if the software/license owner can be charged for damages.

which reads awkwardly.

It's like someone was describing the category "Hold Liable" instead of what the BSD2 license says about liability. Most of the descriptions have this problem. Something like "The software/license owner can't be charged for damages or shortcomings." might flow better, though that implies having descriptions for both the positive and negative case.

edit Oh, normally the descriptions are hidden (with scripts enabled). So it's as if I asked "what is it?" by clicking and the description is the answer. That makes more sense.

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STRML 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool site! I really appreciate this information, you did a great job.

I just wanted to remark on a few UI bits that drove me nuts:

1. The social links. Not only are they not necessary, but there appears to be a bug with the Facebook widget (Chrome 35, OSX) that causes it to be about 1000px tall and invisibly cover the entire "Newest" column, making all of them unclickable.

2. The expansion of the 'rules' sections on hover. Not only is that information not really useful in that format (tiny text, difficult to read, too terse to be useful), the expansion makes it difficult to click on what you want. It may be best to either omit them or leave them expanded by default.

Thanks for a useful site!

10
swatkat 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out EULAlyzer as well:

https://www.brightfort.com/eulalyzer.html

11
Springtime 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks promising. Not sure what I think of the concept of a 'Manager' (user who was the original submitter) being the only one to approve changes, seems a bit odd considering the rest of the community aspect.

A similar site, tosdr.org, was launched a couple years back to help filter through website TOS. It lacks a community editable system, and even with various publicity and funding still has a limited set of sites in their index.

Hopefully this new site can gain more traction and continue to develop.

12
rjf90 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This is awesome. There are a lot of things I love about this country, but one thing we've done bad is create lawyers. Where I live (DC) 1 in 12 people are lawyers.

I wish every legal document carried a tl;dr.

13
mlubin 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Very cool. Missing LGPL v3. I've been looking for a clear explanation of how it differs from LGPL v2.1.
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ChronosKey 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Minor nitpick: `i.e.` should be `e.g.` in this case (for the search field's hint).
15
jaxomlotus 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Great domain! See what we did here, where every paragraph is summarized in human readable English.: http://aviary.com/legal/terms

I do think offering this as a service for most companies would be a very useful (if small) business.

16
dalek2point3 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised there is no entry for ODbl -- https://tldrlegal.com/search?q=odbl
17
LukeB_UK 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw this linked somewhere else months ago and keep forgetting about it. Extremely useful if you really don't want to read through a large license file to see if you can use a library in a project or not.
18
sushijain 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Very useful.
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notastartup 2 hours ago 0 replies      
what is the best license where you maintain the brand name of the open source software, and allow end user to modify it according to their needs but not release it under a different brand name OR use it to run commercial services off the software (that will require commercial license) ?
2
EpicEditor An embeddable JavaScript Markdown editor epiceditor.com
18 points by tambourine_man  1 hour ago   5 comments top 4
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donatj 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I looked at this a while back, it's big and bloated. Despite having no real UI it requires jQuery UI... I don't understand.
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ChristianBundy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Looks like the same one used in Telescope, the Meteor app: http://demo.telesc.pe/posts/a05eba73-cdd9-4d64-933d-2586ffc5...
3
hnriot 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
The text seems old, it mentions posterous and didn't that shut down a while back?
4
markuman 19 minutes ago 1 reply      
Very lame! This is much better, splitscreen, full screen, markdown, html code, or preview view.http://markdown.pioul.fr/
3
Austin Police Department Warns SXSW Attendees Not To Use Uber techcrunch.com
63 points by trustfundbaby  5 hours ago   51 comments top 13
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tptacek 1 hour ago 3 replies      
For what it's worth, if you didn't already know: Uber doesn't serve Austin, or didn't just a few months ago when I was out there last. It's not like Austin is pulling the rug out from under Uber. It's kind of irritating to me that Uber would pretend to serve Austin during SXSW. If you're going to serve a municipality, put your chips on the table and slug it out for real.
2
devindotcom 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Well it would be good if the law was such that the police could encourage it, but since it isn't, why would we expect them to?

If the law says these vehicles are operating illegally, the police are pretty much bound to discommend them. We always knew Uber existed in a highly regulated space, and changing the law or how it's interpreted will always take time.

I'm also pretty sure that if the Ubers and other ride services are not in fact operating under the law, your protections as a citizen and consumer are limited. The police would want people to choose services where they have the most lawful protection.

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sehugg 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I dunno, I've been on a (authorized) shuttle at SXSW driven by a meth-head whereupon at the end of the trip everyone was sheet-white and couldn't say a word. Could Uber be worse?
4
rocky1138 5 hours ago 5 replies      
$55 minimum? This is a great way to increase the amount of drunk drivers on the road. Way to go, Austin!
5
trustfundbaby 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There are actually undercover stings going on too, by the looks of things http://www.reddit.com/r/SXSW/comments/1zwr26/atx_welcome_to_...
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exelius 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The lack of cabs in Austin is a normal situation; they just don't exist. There are something like 250 licensed taxis in the city. You really can't hail them down like in other cities either; most drivers have scheduled pickups for most of the night.

You really need either a car or a shuttle bus for SXSW. It's just how it is in the US outside the northeast, Chicago or San Francisco.

Also, even though the "minimum price" is $55, Uber's "surge pricing" is requiring a $125 minimum fare.

7
lolo_ 4 hours ago 2 replies      
We (me + colleague) are at SxSW now (over from the UK) - this is quite amazing given the utter lack of cabs if you're anywhere resembling out-of-downtown. Thankfully we have through an amazing friend of a friend procured the services of a friendly cab driver who goes out of his way to help us, without which we'd basically have to stay at our residence the whole time and not do SxSW at all.

Yikes.

8
gojomo 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
When will APD do something about those slow, dangerous, absurd pedicabs?
9
javajosh 3 hours ago 0 replies      
You'd think they'd do anything they could to avoid drunk driving. I hope that if anyone gets hurt or killed during SXSW by a drunk driver the victim sues the hell out of the APD for making it more likely there will be drunk drivers on the road.
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greatsuccess 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Actually these are just regs on the driver, as a citizen I can get into any fucking car I want on any fucking terms I want and the police have nothing to say about it.
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diakritikal 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"Someone should tell the folks at the police department before they start fining Uber drivers or scaring attendees away from using the service."

I live in the central belt of Scotland, if a taxi here in Glasgow or Edinburgh cost a minimum of $55 there would be a civil insurrection. I'm frankly amazed that the crux of this story is having a go at the cops and not anyone who thinks $55 minimum for a taxi is OK.

12
BadassFractal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Gotta love a free market.
13
rjf90 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Yet another example of society acclimating to disruptive technology.
4
2014 Seven Day Roguelike Challenge roguebasin.com
51 points by robocaptain  6 hours ago   11 comments top 6
1
devindotcom 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Can't wait to see the results. The term "roguelike" should be taken with a grain of salt of course - many are more like "roguelite" or the other preferred monitor, "procedural death labyrinths."

Between Teleglitch, Nuclear Throne, Legend of Dungeon, Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain, Tower of Guns, and a few others, the last year or so has been massively fun for roguelike fans as we've seen pieces of the genre applied to other genres, usually with pretty amazing results.

2
fournm 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh crap I totally lost track of when it started this year. Dang, I was planning to take the week of it off so I could go completely absurd with it. I wonder if I can do a crunch week at work and 7drl at the same time..
3
kbenson 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The first time I heard of this was after finding Powder, which was a cool free roguelike that worked on Nintendo DS handhelds that had ways to play homebrew (as well on other platforms). The author seems to like entering the challenge, as he has a crazy number of 7DL games on his page[1].

[1]: http://www.zincland.com/

4
jere 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Yea, I've tried, but haven't been able to get anything about this to the front page. Wrote a blog post about it: http://jere.in/lets-make-a-game

I wanted to get the word out earlier, but it's not too late to start and still have a whole 7 days! I'm starting tomorrow morning.

5
cgarrigue 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Although some people are trying to participate to both, I think the Cyberpunk Game Jam could have benefited from not running partially concurrently.

*http://itch.io/jam/cyberpunk-jam

6
Orangeair 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Why did they start a contest with a running time measured in hours right before daylight savings time? Are they trying to confuse people?
5
Python Language Features and Tricks sahandsaba.com
264 points by Bocker  15 hours ago   65 comments top 16
1
kriro 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Why are there so many negative comments? Maybe those posters are vastly underestimating how many people that just start out read HN. I think it's a pretty good post to read after something like "X in Y minutes - Python" to get a very quick grasp of what the language is like.

I'm also not ashamed to say that despite having written quite a few LOC of Python I wasn't aware of named slices for some reason and I think they can clear up some chunks of code I have produced (make it more readable)

2
densh 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Python's unpacking is a poor man's pattern matching. I'd really love to see them extend it to support user-defined patterns like Scala's extractors or F#'s active patterns.
3
robinh 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I have two questions.

1. I'm unfamiliar with the term 'unpacking'. Is it any different from pattern matching in, say, Haskell (but perhaps not as feature-rich)?

2. Aren't slices pretty much a staple in Python? I didn't think using them was considered a 'trick'.

4
RK 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice reference.

1.29 happened to be exactly what I was looking for:

  for subset in itertools.chain(*(itertools.combinations(a, n) for n in range(len(a) + 1)))
I spent way too much time writing a function to come up with these combinations.

5
edwinnathaniel 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I've been using Python and Ruby on and off for a couple years (largely because I haven't found the need to use it seriously day job or side projects).

One thing that strikes odd for me is how people describe Python/Ruby are way more readable than Java.

I felt that Python, while more readable than Ruby (because Python uses less symbols), still contain more nifty tricks compare to Java.

It's true that the resulting code is less code but behind that less line of code bugs might linger around because there might be plenty "intents" being hidden deep in the implementation of Python.

The Python way that is touted many times is "explicit is better than implicit" seems to correlate better with the much maligned "Java is too verbose".

Anyhow, the other day I was refreshing my Python skill and learned the default implicit methods that I can override ( those eq, gte, gt, lte, lt) and I wonder how overriding those resulted in less lines of code compare to Java overriding equals, hashCode, and implementing one Comparator method than can return -1, 0, 1 to cover the whole spectrum of gte, gt, lte, (and even equality, given the context).

I suppose everything is relative...

6
analog31 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Coming from a long history of languages like BASIC and Pascal, I will bookmark this tutorial. It seems to open up a lot of interesting Python features that were, quite frankly, not always easy to understand when described in plain text, but now seem pretty simple when presented as examples.

I'll also think about the "collection of simple examples" next time I want to document something.

7
JeffJenkins 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's important to remember that OrderedDict keeps insertion order, it isn't an implementation of a sorted dictionary.
8
lqdc13 13 hours ago 2 replies      
zip to unzip a dict is a very slow approach to do it

Instead of

    mi = dict(zip(m.values(), m.keys()))
Do

    mi = {v: k for (k, v) in m.iteritems()}

9
overgard 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is awesome, I've been programming python for about 8 years now and a lot of these still surprised me.
10
yeukhon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Slice has always been a painful adventure for me. I always forget that [1:3] is not all inclusive. It's actually just range from 1 to 2.

I believe in 2.7 zip is still returning a list rather than an iterator (izip in Python 2, zip in Python 3+).

Another unappreciated stdlib is definitely functools. mock is also another awesome stdlib.

functools, collections and itertools are definitely useful to make things faster. Also check out the list of stdlib. http://docs.python.org/2/library/

11
mamcx 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Great list, I do several mini-tutorials of python at http://runnable.com/u/mamcx. I try to pick several tricks for each theme
12
sebastianavina 9 hours ago 1 reply      
it's amazing how much work and effort almost any of this examples would take to implement in C
13
liyanage 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I think this is great, I've been doing Python for a while and I knew many of the features but I also learned a few new ones.

I don't understand how this one to flatten lists works:

    a = [[1, 2], [3, 4], [5, 6]]    [x for l in a for x in l]
Can somebody explain what the order of operations is here and what the variables refer to in the various stages of evaluation?

14
NAFV_P 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I know bugger all Python, but I know negative indexing.
15
jkork 14 hours ago 4 replies      
patterns / tricks = language deficiencies

Wake me up when Python will support tail call elimination and will get rid of GIL. For now this language is no better than PHP.

16
evincarofautumn 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A good reference, to be sure, but man, do I resent the term trick in programming. It implies a deception, or something clever that you wouldnt think to look for, like opening a wine bottle with a shoe. These arent tricks, theyre (largely) standard library features that you would simply expect to exist. But maybe Im underestimating the NIH effect.
6
How to Think farnamstreetblog.com
220 points by darklighter3  14 hours ago   34 comments top 16
1
suprgeek 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is an excellent piece with a couple of important lessons on how to think effectively:

- The ability to think creatively

- The ability to substitute initially attractive moves with well thought out log-term effective ones.

However on the other side of the coin is what we hackers face more often - Analysis Paralysis.

Once you fall into the Analytical Mindset, there is such a thing as being too analytical. Sometimes if it feels right you just go ahead and F*ing do it.

Otherwise the fear of making a wrong decision will paralyze you into inaction - which is worse than a screw-up (usually). So it is a balancing act - think enough but not too much. Analyze but not to the point of paralysis.

Edit: Spelling

2
lotharbot 13 hours ago 1 reply      
> Its uncomfortable to focus so intensely on what youre bad at,

When my wife was learning to play the piano, her teacher used to say "if you're going to make a mistake, make it loud so we can hear it and fix it." I make my students do math in pen for the same reason -- instead of silently making the same mistake over and over again, it gets made once, analyzed (by the students), and fixed. This bothered the students at first, but they've come around and become much more thoughtful about what they write.

> Teaching chess is really about teaching the habits that go along with thinking, Spiegel explained to me one morning when I visited her classroom. Like how to understand your mistakes and how to be more aware of your thought processes.> " I saw Spiegel trying to teach her students grit, curiosity, self-control, and optimism."

Which is really what teaching is about. I think most teachers know this, and we get a fairly healthy dose of it in professional development every week. I'm a math teacher, but the training I get during the school year isn't in math, it's in things like "accountable talk". It sounds like the teacher in this article is particularly gifted and practiced.

This isn't just for classroom teachers. The same concepts matter for parenting and in the workplace.

3
thruflo 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The unparalleled Think Like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov explains not only planning and strategy in chess but also the methodical use of time.

Assess the position. Identify the variations to consider. Evaluate each variation for a roughly equivalent period of time. Choose the strongest. Sanity check you haven't missed something. Move.

Repeat, exhaustively, without losing focus, for a multiple of hours.

Edit: the parallel with startups is clear. In chess, you can only think so far ahead. This may be one or two moves, or for a strong player it may be five or six. Either way, you have a visibility horizon but you have to move.

4
pdonis 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Excellent quote here:

And I really believe that's why we seem to win girls' nationals sections pretty easily every year: most people wont tell teenage girls (especially the together, articulate ones) that they are lazy and the quality of their work is unacceptable. And sometimes kids need to hear that, or they have no reason to step up.

This could apply to boys as well as girls, and indeed to anyone at just about any age; sometimes we need to be told that we're not measuring up. I am reminded of Philip Greenspun's story about the venture capitalists who wrecked ArsDigita, the company he had built (from http://waxy.org/random/arsdigita/):

[F]or most of this year Chip, Peter, and Allen [the VC Board members and CEO] didn't want to listen to me. They even developed a theory for why they didn't have to listen to me: I'd hurt their feelings by criticizing their performance and capabilities; self-esteem was the most important thing in running a business; ergo, because I was injuring their self-esteem it was better if they just turned a deaf ear. I'm not sure how much time these three guys had ever spent with engineers. Chuck Vest, the president of MIT, in a private communication to some faculty, once described MIT as "a no-praise zone". My first week as an electrical engineering and computer science graduate student I asked a professor for help with a problem. He talked to me for a bit and then said "You're having trouble with this problem because you don't know anything and you're not working very hard."

5
thaumaturgy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
For people interested in brutalizing their egos and learning how to think in some of the ways this article mentioned -- longer-term, more deliberately -- I cannot strongly enough recommend learning how to play Go (http://www.britgo.org/intro/intro2.html).

It's a less popular, but probably more suitable game than chess. The individual rules are far simpler than chess, but the game play is way more complex, with lots of edge cases.

It also has a built-in handicap system that makes it possible for players of different ranks to play fair games, and the game board size can be scaled down for beginners while they learn the basics.

6
KiwiCoder 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The article is titled 'How To Think'. It might be more aptly titled 'How To Think About Failure' (in a way that shows failures are opportunities for self improvement while success teaches us little).

Coincidentally the BBC ran a series this week 'The Value of Failure.' http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xl7ff

The series is well worth a listen - 5 x 15 minutes.

7
Malarkey73 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this falls in to the same trap as the stories earloer about the LHC Physics group that have abandoned PowerPoint for a whiteboard.That something is a good idea for a particular intellectual exercise its a good idea generally for thinking, learning,success!No, chess is a quite particular skill where you can't afford to make mistakes and the problem is bounded and can be fully rationalised. Most creative or scientific endeavors are quite different and some maybe be best learnt by experimentation trial and error.I'm sure she has a great way to teach chess but I don't think its a panacea.
8
cbaker 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sympathetic to the ideas in the article, but is there any, you know, actual /data/ to support that calling kids lazy and telling them their work is unacceptable is an effective way to teach? I talk to people who study this stuff and do consulting for people like the US military (who aren't particularly known for their touchy-feely approach to training), and, as far as I can tell, this doesn't work particularly well.
9
yoha 9 hours ago 2 replies      
By principle, I noticed something that looks like selection bias: she seems to only criticize the decisions on wrong moves without comparing them to when he did well. After all, maybe he just spent one second on the good moves because his instinct is very good?

I know in practice he should have used the available time, but I wanted to underline the one flaw of the article; the rest is pretty good.

10
Malarkey73 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this falls in to the same trap as the stories earlier about the LHC Physics group that have abandoned PowerPoint for a whiteboard.That something is a good idea for a particular intellectual exercise its a good idea generally for thinking, learning,success!No, chess is a quite particular skill where you can't afford to make mistakes and the problem is bounded and can be fully rationalised. Most creative or scientific endeavors are quite different and some maybe be best learnt by experimentation trial and error.I'm sure she has a great way to teach chess but I don't think its a panacea.
11
NAFV_P 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> Elizabeth Spiegel, the schools chess teacher, was waiting.

At my school in the UK, we didn't have a chess teacher. I'm presuming that not every school in the US has a chess teacher.

Coincidentally, Ms Spiegel reminds me of an old English teacher of mine.

> Before she was a a full-time chess teacher, Spiegel taught an eighth-grade honors English class. She taught them the same way she taught Sebastian: ruthlessly analyzing everything.

I would consider it a shame if she had actually stopped teaching English (especially the comprehension). I often notice how my sentences are elaborated by others, even occasionally on HN.

12
j2kun 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's really difficult to get students to think hard about the feedback you give them. This article gives a great way to do that, and I think it's a large part of the success. Simply making them confront their own mistakes honestly.
13
radicaledward 11 hours ago 0 replies      
My number one concern with this approach is that it creates an extreme dependence on an external locus of motivation. This seems like it would be great if you want to turn children into excellent cogs for your machine, as in the industrial age, but it could be horrible for creating pioneers and innovators.

I would welcome approaches like this when combined with something like the kind of educational freedom given at a montessori school. In this case, we're looking at a chess team. So maybe the children are participating voluntarily or maybe they aren't.

14
startupstella 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If you like this story, check out Brooklyn Castle- a really great documentary about that school and its chess program- http://www.brooklyncastle.com/
15
prestadige 10 hours ago 0 replies      
>most people wont tell teenage girls [...] that they are lazy and the quality of their work is unacceptable

Yes. If a male teacher, for example, were to 'rampage' around female pupils, he'd be sacked.

16
dynamic99 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Farnam Street is an awesome blog. I've been following it for the past year and a half or so, and it's really a collection of priceless information.
7
Ask HN: Successful one-person online businesses?
68 points by kewball  4 hours ago   41 comments top 21
1
patio11 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Even if you were to scope it just to software/SaaS product companies, there's minimally hundreds of these in the world and dozens of them have HN accounts. Most don't post on threads like this, so I feel the need to pipe up and say "This is quite doable, and done, much more than you might expect."

I run a small software company (two, technically). Products include Bingo Card Creator (http://www.bingocardcreator.com), Appointment Reminder (https://www.appointmentreminder.org), and occasional offerings for training for other software companies. I used to do consulting, too, but quit to focus on products.

I'd describe it as "modestly successful." It's the sole financial support for my wife and I. I'm the only full-time employee of the business (for a very quirky understanding of the words "full-time").

2
Ecio78 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure he is particularly active on HN but Rob Walling[1] is a solo entrepreneur managing at least a couple of Saas products: Hittail[2] (which he bought and then grow) and Drip[3]. He also conducts a podcast on Saas[4] and also organises a conference for self-funded startups[5]. In the past Patio11 spoke there too

[1] http://www.softwarebyrob.com/[2] http://www.hittail.com/[3] https://www.getdrip.com/[4] http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/[5] http://www.microconf.com/[3]

3
danpat 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
I created:

http://skitrails.info/

I'm an avid cross-country skier, and traditionally daily trail reports are done by hand by the maintenance staff after they're out all night working on the trails.

I had the bright idea of putting GPS tracking devices in grooming equipment and creating the "what's been groomed" report automatically, in real-time.

It took about 4 seasons to really get it right, and there was no appreciable income for that period. Lots of lessons learned about equipment (antennas, good wiring practices in vehicles, power cleanliness in big equipment, etc), good ways to present the data, map projections, how to deal with messy data, dealing with non-technical users, cross-border shipping tarrifs, mobile-network provisioning rules, the list goes on. I did it alongside my full-time job for the first 4 years.

It's a tiny niche, and one I never expect to get all that big, but it looks like I'll be able to make it my sole income source next season.

Which is great, because it'll let me go skiing more.

4
gmays 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm doing http://justaddcontent.com solo and self-funded. It turned into a bigger project that I anticipated, especially for my first product.

I started working on it full-time in October. It started as a hobby project about two years ago. It took particularly long because I have a non-technical, military background and had to teach myself to code, design, write copy, marketing, etc. It's been a fun challenge.

I still work on it 12-14hrs a day on average, but I still love it and I love the problem I'm solving. The last few months I started focusing on product again and my customers absolutely love it, which is awesome. Now I'm turning my attention back to marketing.

Like the other guys, I'm not making millions yet, but I'm 100% self-funded and in no danger of running out of money. I continue to put 100% of what I make back in the business after my essentials.

I'm not sure when I'll start hiring, but I have some pretty major plans that I'll need help executing. It's just one of those things where it'll completely change the game, but it'll also change the dynamic of the business.

5
dangrossman 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Hey there. /raises hand.

https://www.improvely.com and https://www.w3counter.com

Five figures a month, just me, I've written about my solo business a couple times in other Ask HN threads. Ten years ago (almost to the day), in my college dorm, I was looking at the Webalizer web stats report my web host provided for my blog, and thought "I could do something much cooler than this". So I did. I had built a few educational sites and threw some ads on them for a couple years before that, but W3Counter was the first service I actually charged a subscription for, and now I make a living building and selling this stuff.

6
ohashi 1 hour ago 2 replies      
1 man startup - http://reviewsignal.com/webhosting/compare I do web hosting reviews. Not the scummy pay-for-placement stuff you see, but an actual review site. It tracks what people are saying about hosting companies on Twitter and publishes the results.

The story is told a bit here http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/25/web-hosting-reviews-are-a-c... I was just tired after 10 years of still relying exclusively on my experience and the experiences of people I knew. Figured there must be a better way and I had been working with Twitter data for thesis and saw this opportunity.

7
ivan_ah 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I run a small one-man-show publishing house: http://minireference.com. I produce math/physics textbooks for adults. I'm the author, business person, marketing person, and strategic partnerships person. Revenues are not stellar, but they keep me off the streets...

The value I provide is synthesis of a lot of educational material that exists out there into a coherent package (a book). In many ways, my work is similar to what linux distro package managers do: ensuing prerequisites are covered before the main package is installed.

I remember hearing one of the early Internet/www inventors saying the Internet will allow people to "live from the fruits of their intellectual labour." Does anyone know who this was??? With eBooks and print-on-demand this is finally possible now. I would encourage everyone with deep domain knowledge about a subject to start writing about it and publish a small book. I think "information distillation" is of great value for readers. Feel free to email me if you need help/advice with the publishing stuff.

8
fookyong 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
http://beatrixapp.com

Solo, self funded and profitable. I work on it while traveling around Asia.

Agree with patio11 there's probably way more than would speak up here. I seldom contribute to HN or the bootstrapping forums mentioned in another reply. I browse a little, but 99% of my time spent in front of the computer is spent working on product or replying to customer emails.

How I got started:

I've built SaaS apps before but they were the dreaded "solution looking for a problem" type.

Then I decided to do things strictly the Lean way. Got out of the building. Talked to customers about an idea I had. Pretty soon I discovered an adjacent problem that everyone had, that sounded fun to solve, and that I had specific domain knowledge in. I built and launched my MVP in one month, from a beach in Koh Samui. I've been traveling ever since then, spending each month in a different country.

Charged from day 1. Had paying customers from day 1.

I find changing my environment enables me to compartmentalize my work better - like I try to get major new features rolled out before I head to my next destination.

Not planning on doing this solo forever. Not ruling out hiring some help down the line and maybe a permanent office somewhere.

But for now it's pretty fun the way it is!

9
itengelhardt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't know whether HN is the right place to ask this question. The crowd for this frequents either http://discuss.bootstrapped.fm or http://academy.micropreneur.com

There's also a number of podcasts (notably "Startups for the Rest of Us" and "Bootstrapped With Kids")

10
bdunn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My company consists of just me, and is fairly profitable. And to reiterate patio11, there are quite a few of us. I detailed income and how much I contribute monthly to each of my income streams here: http://planscope.io/blog/how-i-changed-the-world-in-2013/
11
_fountainhead_ 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
I run http://getreplied.com

It's a very simple app to help people get their email replied.

12
thinkcomp 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
I run PlainSite:

http://www.plainsite.org

13
danoc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't create it, but Pinboard (https://pinboard.in/) is a great example of a successful one person business.

Founder Maciej Cegowski wrote about it here:https://static.pinboard.in/xoxo_talk_thoreau.htm

14
mattront 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Just launched Pinegrow Web Designer (http://pinegrow.com) two months ago. The company is actually run by my wife and me, but I do all the work with Pinegrow while she is taking care of our other projects.

Pinegrow has been paying most of our bills since launch and I have a lot of expansions in the pipeline: full support for Foundation alongside Bootstrap, developer edition that'll work with templates, a similar app for designing emails...

15
bjoerns 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
I run https://www.spreadgit.com, a hosted version control system for Excel. Doing this solo and full time. It's been a hell of a ride so far but I love it.
16
dm2 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I do consulting and software development and am technically a small business.

I'm down to a single client (much easier to manage than multiple clients) so I can pretty much pick my projects, work at my own pace, and get paid fairly decently.

I don't make millions, but I make enough and am happy.

Below isn't really business but was a brilliant idea by someone. It isn't my site but maybe it'll inspire someone to do something similar: http://www.milliondollarhomepage.com/

17
abdophoto 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't create this, but http://viralnova.com is known for being run by one person and has been quite successful. Maybe the most successful that I've ever seen. http://www.businessinsider.com/viral-nova-considering-a-sale...
18
zengr 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think newsblur.com (YC S12) is run by Sam alone.
19
musgrove 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I run a web design and development studio that is just myself, although I established it as an LLC, and have been successful with it. I focus on WordPress solutions and started it by just diving in head-first and work pretty hard at it. I have a marketing background which helped me get it off the ground quickly, and am good at managing time, which has helped. I totally love it.
20
bobosha 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Not my business, but www.DuckDuckGo.com (Gabriel Weinberg) is a good example.
21
goodproduce 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've worked full-time as a consultant since 2007 and make a little over low six figures after taxes and paying contractors. We (http://www.goodproduce.net) do a lot of basic services like content development, web design (mainly WP), social media management, hosting, deck creation, and general "digital" consulting for high net-worth individuals (primarily athletes and their brand partners.

In the early days, I worked to stay visible through conducting interviews for my company blog - that got us on the map in the sports community. It also helps that we never say no to a request...ever.

8
Start-up NY ny.gov
103 points by lelf  10 hours ago   43 comments top 21
1
thekevan 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Read the fine print. Not only are there the below requirements but there is also debate on whether or not the agency running the program has the ability (due to poorly worded rules) to kick a business out of it for no reason at all.

A Start up...

Start ups must locate on college campuses. (Renting unused office space or vacant land.)

MUST BE NEW to New York State, recently graduated from a state-recognized incubator, be returning to the state, or be an existing business that's starting a new operation.

ORGANIZED as a corporation, partnership, limited liability company or sole proprietorship.

IN COMPLIANCE with worker protection and environmental regulations

ALIGNED with the interests of the hosting university.

BE ABLE to create jobs in the first year.

BE A STARTUP business or in biotechnology, information technology, remanufacturing, advanced materials, processing, engineering, electronic technology products or other high-tech industries.

CANNOT BE AN accountant, business services company, law firm, medical office, hotel, financial services firm, personal care business, Realtor, restaurant, retailer, utility or wholesaler.

2
king_magic 10 hours ago 1 reply      
As a Syracuse, NY native and a current resident of NYC, I hereby welcome a flood of new business to the state. Come one, come all.

Just pay no attention to the fact that you're taxed to oblivion in every other possible way - state income tax, sales tax, property taxes, NYC residential tax - I think we've even got taxes for your taxes somewhere in the back - hopefully by the time you finish your 10th year as a successful, profitable, un-taxed business, you'll be making so much gosh darn money that you won't even notice your business finally being taxed into oblivion too.

Dreams really do come true.

4
gaadd33 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I had filled out their form and asked to be contacted about 6 months ago and haven't heard anything back. Talking to some accelerator people, it seems to be pretty common. Even using their network the accelerator was unable to get useful information about how to use this program. I think while it makes great headlines it might be 3-4 years till they figure out the policies and requirements around this.
5
joelgrus 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"Eligible businesses must not locate in an area in which they would compete with existing local businesses."
6
sudonim 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Ok, so you want to take advantage of this in NYC?

http://startup.ny.gov/properties/new-york-city-properties/

There are a 3 results, all biotech / science in nature. Click on one of em:

THIS PROPERTY HAS NOT YET BEEN DESIGNATED AS A TAX-FREE NY AREA

That's probably a deal-killer for startups wanting to move to manhattan and be tax free for 10 years.

7
brianbreslin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Are there any other states doing this? Or municipalities?

In Panama (the country), they do something like this in an area on the former US military base called "Ciudad del Saber" (City of knowledge)[1], whereby the companies based their get 0 taxation on imports/exports, salaries, and some other stuff.

Could this be accomplished by designating areas free trade zones? Here in Miami there are a few free trade zones, but I'm not super clear on their function (mostly see cargo coming in and out of there).

[1]http://ciudaddelsaber.org/en

8
akbar501 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Tax free zones have proven to be highly effective. In Dubai there were a number of tax free zones started 13+ years ago just before their economic boom. India's rise to dominance in several service sectors was accompanied by a number of tax incentives.

I'd bet money that this attracts new business to New York especially since New York has people talent in place. Also, if you're competing against a NY firm, they'll have an advantage in their ability to accumulate earnings at a faster rate than an equivalent firm that's burdened with more taxes. Too bad NY can't wave Federal taxes...that would be nice.

9
troymc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There are no taxes for businesses that start up on the moon, so why don't more businesses start up on the moon?
10
appreneur 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am international..especially from india,can I open my startup in ny?, Cant seem to find that for international business owners want to start in newyork.I am an appreneur, we develop mobile apps,would love to open startup in newyork tax free zone. Can I get process for non-us citizen to open startup in new york.
11
circa 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
They show commercials for this all the time all over NY state. Its incredibly misleading. I looked into it the first time I saw it. Like most things it is indeed to good to be true.
12
joelrunyon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been seeing ads for this on tv here in southern California. Seems really intriguing.

I'm curious if there are any long-term commitments? Can you redomicile 9 1/2 years in, etc?

13
epc 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Note that this program, by design, almost completely excludes New York City (all five boroughs) and much of Long Island. It's geared primarily to upstate.
14
vinceguidry 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Just looking at the language of the website, I can see who this initiative is catering to: Large organizations looking to cash in on startup cachet and gain a significant competitive advantage over real startups.

Because it looks like those are the only ones that can fulfill the requirements.

Crossing NYC off of my list of places to move to when I'm ready to start a company.

15
thrush 9 hours ago 0 replies      
NY has recently taken up arms to make itself a more attractive destination for businesses and entrepreneurs. One of the largest strides that has been made aligns with this link, and is a marketing strategy that makes NY seem more startup friendly. It's unclear whether it's being targeted towards tech/software, which recently has become synonymous with the word "startup", or how much substance there is behind the cloak of marketing.

An interesting and relevant read is Paul Graham's essay on recreating Silicon Valley: http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html

16
shakeel_mohamed 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I got really excited for a moment, then I read the fine print. But, I think is generally a step in the right direction.

How terrible would it be to collect no taxes from startups for the first year, nationally?

17
antonius 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Pay no taxes for 10 years as a start-up in NY? Sign me up.
18
drawkbox 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Every city should do this now, tax free for years (at least 3 but 10 is awesome). No other requirements because there are many other ways to generate revenue from young companies and you want them to succeed, i.e. Free-to-Play business model somewhat.
19
superduper33 5 hours ago 0 replies      
To those who warn of the fine print -- what did you expect? Even with those conditions, this looks pretty damn advantageous. Go NY.

-SF Startup Scene Employee

20
pacifi30 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Well fine print aside sure they have lot of hidden clauses but it's a good start I would say. Nice to have Washington State also adopt something like this since now Seattle has a growing Startup community
21
donbronson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like a great way to widen the size of the city. Startups in the Bronx!
9
Windows 8.1 Update 1: More interface concessions arstechnica.com
13 points by tumba  3 hours ago   14 comments top 9
1
mwfunk 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
If the only problem with the Windows 8 UI changes were that people had to learn a few new ways of doing things, it wouldn't be a big deal.

I think what really fuels a lot of the ongoing frustration over this stuff is that it's a new way of doing things that is much more awkward than the old way. So, not only are some of your old habits invalid, but the functionality has been replaced by something you would rather not use in the first place.

Adding insult to injury here is the fact that the main reason these changes were made in the first place was to get Windows users accustomed to the tablet interface, with the assumption that they would want to use the same OS on their tablet that they use on their desktop. It was to give Windows tablets a leg up in the market vs. iOS and Android devices; it doesn't appear to have been based on a desire to simply improve the desktop users' experience.

I'm sure they also wanted to create a market for touchscreen Windows PCs too. There were probably some marketing people that were convinced that a touchscreen would simply be a standard thing that every PC had in the future. Who knows, it could still happen I guess. If it goes that way they may look like geniuses in 10 years. I'm skeptical though.

2
ladzoppelin 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
8.1 is amazing and these updates, like the task-bar metro icon for running apps, actually sound useful. You know Microsoft is still relevant when some unverified blog post gets 300 comments of complete anecdotal nonsense.
3
cwyers 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've really never understood the fuss about the Start Screen. Although I can use Windows 8.1 for days on end without ever seeing it, because I just use Win-Q. (The little stubs that come up when I press Win-Q and Win-P are the only parts of Metro that I see for weeks at a time, honestly.)
4
chris_wot 1 hour ago 1 reply      
And likewise, they're still shutting down from software, perhaps unaware that the power switch will do the job, and are conditioned to do so after years of operating systems complaining when they weren't shut down properly. So maybe it's not just Windows 8 that Microsoft did a poor job of explaining to Windows usersmaybe it's every version of Windows since 95.

Can't speak for Windows 8, but in Windows XP, Vista and 7 if you have an update that requires a shutdown, pressing the button won't install the update.

5
b1daly 32 minutes ago 1 reply      
The main problem with a major change to the GUI like Windows 8 is that it destroys a vast investment people have made in learning how to use a PC. A lot of user interface is comprised of arbitrary choices. It might be the case that a new way to do it (start screen vs start menu) is marginially better, but to be worth the change it really has to be significantly better, not just different.

It's amazing that Windows 8 was released like this when it seems like a basic amount of user testing would show that people are not going to be happy about having to learn a new interface. Most people who work with PCs are actually using them to get work done, and are very pressed for time and energy.

I'm sure it was very complicated in house, but from the outside it looks like management thought "if it's good for us, it must be good for the customer!"

6
tumba 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Windows 8 on the desktop, while presenting some intriguing evolutionary possibilities, seems like an unstable transitional form. I do not use touch or tablet platform and consequently, I have not seen any compelling reasons for upgrading my fleet of Thinkpads from Windows 7.

My experience managing Windows servers is rapidly improving. More and more servers are running Core and I'm performing ever more administration remotely by command line using PowerShell.

I bring up Windows Server because, on that platform, Microsoft is clearly articulating a change in their philosophy of system administration. The interactive or scripted command-line is the future of Microsoft server administration. It exposes the underlying management and instrumenting capabilities of Windows in highly useful ways and allows consistent workflows for managing traditional deployments and virtual/cloud systems. They have been clear about this direction for years, and they have facilitated a long transition by continuing to provide the option to use full graphical installs, and by providing management consoles for their major products that simply execute PowerShell commands in the background.

Maybe I just haven't seen it because I don't follow the consumer facing groups at Microsoft very closely, but I wish Microsoft would take a similarly approach for the desktop.

Whenever I read these articles, I am thankful I am not an ISV developing for the Windows desktop.

7
bichiliad 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The author doesn't seem to realize that what may be intuitive to people used to some are not intuitive to everyone. Restarting your computer/device isn't uncommon, and relying on people to use the device's power button isn't really a good idea. Plus, there's nothing in the interface that affords type-to-search.
8
alien3d 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
What i see diff 8.1 and 8 1. Click at the start icon,right click can shutdown.2. Customize title at metro icon.3. Logout instead shutdown as arstechnica.com website.4. At the below bar,click at the property can boot directly to desktop without go to tile of metro application.5. Previous Version become File History ? i cannot on it.
9
userbinator 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It still looks far too much like a "tabletisation" of the desktop.
10
How to steal Bitcoins that are protected by weak passphrases palkeo.com
129 points by palkeo  13 hours ago   83 comments top 20
1
nwh 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Oddly enough, the website brainwallet.org which is used to create most brainwallets seems to be in itself malicious. nullc on reddit makes an interesting comment about it.

> "Yes, the creator of Brainwallet.org got his start with password based private keys by cracking them. Here is an old IRC log extract I pulled out for someone else who didn't believe this: https://people.xiph.org/~greg/brainwallet.txt*

More recently he really was in IRC asking for information on faster cracking mechanisms, right after whining about needing money. But uh, he might have just been trying to further convince himself that brainwallets really are secure and that it's really the users fault (or a MITM on the site) when they get robbed.

I'm less inclined to assume malice, and more inclined to assume that he's clueless both of the insecurity of these schemes, the acceptability of blaming the victims when users inevitably choose poor keys, and how scammy his own actions look. But thats just my own impression.

When you choose to use something like that you should start with the assumption that the creator is malicious and ask yourself why its safe to use anyways. For the Bitcoin reference software you can point to the large amount of open public review, processes which prove the binaries agree with the source, etc. For brainwallet.org? Not much.

So if ever you find the prospect that the creator of something might be a bit black-hat and this concerns you thats potentially a red-flag."

Probably more concerning, the first "random" key the website displays is "correct horse battery staple", which people get their funds stolen from almost constantly.

http://blockr.io/address/info/1JwSSubhmg6iPtRjtyqhUYYH7bZg3L...

2
enscr 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Conspiracy theory : Is directory.io phishing ?

It is possible that people would try to find their private key on directory.io for fun. You can do that by jumping to the relevant page. Meanwhile, the servers at directory.io would cache the GET requests and blast through the handful of keys on that page.

The site is likely generating the pages on the fly. You can type directory.io/<any number upto x>

x : 904625697166532776746648320380374280100293470930272690489102837043110636675

3
SwellJoe 9 hours ago 1 reply      
So, I've always had a bad feeling about brain wallets. They make me uncomfortable. The fact that some folks consider them more secure than a random private key is even more worrisome. There is the fear of an exploit of your computer, which is valid. It's very, very common. But, if your computer is exploited the exploiter could still obtain your brain wallet if you use it on that computer. Cold storage of your private keys, protected with a passphrase, on a couple of USB flash drives in two locations seems the obvious choice for safely protecting your cryptocurrency. Yes, there are still potential exploits. When you plug those drives into an exploited computer, you're potentially exposing yourself.

I think we need a lot more security awareness among the general population before Bitcoin becomes a mainstream thing. Right now, it's simply too dangerous to use Bitcoin with most people's security practices and their understanding of security.

4
cheesemunger 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I have spent quite a lot of time (~250h) on this problem as part of my dissertation and found ~18k brainwallets. Most of the 10k brainwallets found by the author have probably been made by another 'researcher' who is actively probing the network to look for thieves. There are many other similar analyses online which have better and more interesting results than this.

Edit: I can upload some rather large and confusing transaction network diagrams if anyone wishes to see them.

5
enscr 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Slightly different Q :

Say I have a private key with some money. All I have to do is type 'importprivkey <private key>' in a new client and the money shows up (am I missing something)? If everyone randomly starts entering a couple of completely random combinations, is there a finite possibility that someone might simply steal a wallet? Is it like spinning a wheel of fortune?

Found a very interesting analogy here : http://www.reddit.com/r/BitcoinBeginners/comments/1uhuge/wha...

"Imagine you hide some money in a hole in the ground, and take note its GPS coordinates. Now imagine someone publishing a list of all valid GPS coordinates on the planet, down to 10cm resolution. In that list, there will be also the position of your money."

6
intelliot 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The human mind can't generate enough entropy to create a secure brainwallet in that way. However, the reverse is permissible: use Bitcoin Armory or Electrum to generate a wallet, and then you should memorize the BIP39 mnemonic: https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0039.mediawi...
7
crystaln 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Deterministically generating wallets is just dumb. It's the exact opposite of randomly generating wallets. We spend all this time on making things cryptographically secure and then mess it up by using a tiny subset of the keyspace.

Why would anyone find this to be a good idea?

8
kzrdude 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember -- if you experiment with adding these "trivial" keys to your wallet, some software may generate transactions that return change to those exact keys (and it will be stolen in an instant). It's happened before.
9
pkulak 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The alt-coin NXT has a big problem with this. They pretty much _only_ support brain wallets. The clients have these giant warnings if you use a pass-phrase shorter than 30 chars, but it still happens and a lot of new users get their money stolen 3 seconds after they get it. Some new clients use a real wallet, but that move can't come fast enough!
10
joveian 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The directory.io thing is really interesting. I assume the idea is that the site does the calculation in some way that in theory produces a full set of results and they hope that Google will index more and more of them over time, thus allowing a search for some public keys to find the corresponding private key. It seems like Google does index a few pages (including some higher number ones), but not too many.

Edit: redit threads: http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1rua34/all_bitcoin_...http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1ruk0z/dont_panic_d...

Edit2: This is one of those basic security things I have trouble getting an intuitive grasp of (but need to). How much can being able to determine a random small part of a random large key space hurt? I've worried about this before with 256-bit key spaces and been reassured with calculations, but I still don't intuitively get it.

11
kapnobatairza 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, if you use a weak seed on a service like brainwallet to deterministically generate your keypair then it is quite easy to brute force / dictionary attack your private key. This is why clients like Electrum force you to use a long passphrase that they themselves generate. This really isn't new or novel.

Side note: I ran this attack months ago and you would be shocked at how many weak passphrases actually had money in them at some point.

12
tlrobinson 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Or: why not to use brainwallets.
13
TallboyOne 12 hours ago 2 replies      
How does that site work which has every bitcoin address listed. Does it just generate those on the fly based on the page number?
14
dutchbrit 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Directory.io first of all does not contain all private keys - it's more of a joke.

Anyway, if a brain wallet has a weak password, you have quite a good chance of cracking it easily. But you have to know that it's a brain wallet. But using a brain wallet is just silly.

Also, don't forget cracking private keys using weak signatures, although good luck finding someone who has a wallet and a weak signature...

http://www.nilsschneider.net/2013/01/28/recovering-bitcoin-p...

EDITED - I didn't read the post correctly, my apologies.

15
mriou 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Bitcoin wallets are surprisingly tricky to implement. Use a good one that a lot of others are using, not the edgy one. Don't try to customize your key pair, just use what's generated for you. Split the wallet you spend from from the one that has real money on it. Backup the real one with a paper wallet and keep that safe.
16
easy_rider 12 hours ago 1 reply      
People should really understand the part "phrase" in "passphrase". Can't really have any sympathy for people who are apparently computer savy enough to create a bitcoin wallet and then protect them with "blah"
17
cipherzero 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm really don't know much about the technical details of bitcoin, but why is a bitcoin address tied to a specific key pair?

Why isn't the address+balance just signed with a key pair?

That way me knowing a key pair wouldn't get me an address with a balance in it...

is there something i'm missing?

EDIT:I guess it doesn't matter, since the address space is so large. Either way, if i were targeting an account, i would know what key pair to attack..

18
sodastream 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Brain wallets should never be used.Even experts fail at picking phrases with enough entropy.

Full stop.

You should be very carefull with your Bitcoin.

I would go with one of the zero trust multisignature wallets because I like 2factor and I don't like the idea of some malware taking the funds away at will when it finds a key in memory.

19
rbobby 11 hours ago 1 reply      
So... hunter2 is not ok?
20
Jonathan_Swift 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't really know but speculate that Mt. Gox' receivership may well have nothing to do with weaknesses in the BitCoin cryptosystem.

- Magic the Gathering's BitCoin Cookbookhttp://www.warplife.com/tips/finance/money/bitcoin/mt-gox/fo...

tl;dr: Forensic Accounting is the way the Feds busted Al Capone for tax evasion; they never did pin a murder rap on him.

Even if no one is cooking the books a shop like Mt. Gox needs Forensic Accountants anyway, because someone could always have made an honest mistake.

I myself Found Religion the day I decided I'd grown weary of a ten-cent error in my quickbooks. I required eighteen hours to clue in to that it was two separate errors that totalled ten cents, as well as to locate the actual errors.

(Now I use GnuCash. There's a damn good reason for double-entry accounting; GnuCash uses it but Quicken and QuickBooks do not!)

11
Cunningham's Law wikimedia.org
226 points by Garbage  18 hours ago   98 comments top 31
1
nemesisj 17 hours ago 8 replies      
This is also a great way to solve a problem. If everyone in the room is stumped, throw out a stupid solution. If nobody can improve on it, then the last solution wins. Works surprisingly well as most people can critique while finding it hard to create from scratch.
2
tootie 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I use this on my kids.

"What happened at school?"

"Nothing."

"Did you race motorcycles in the hallways?"

"No, we had music!"

3
pyduan 17 hours ago 2 replies      
The best part is that now that it's been posted it has now become impossible to disagree, because attempting to disprove it would actually validate the law.
4
vanschelven 17 hours ago 5 replies      
In similar vein, the best way to get help in Linux is by trolling: http://bash.org/?152037
5
habosa 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is how I used to get help on Ubuntu forums. If your sound card isn't working and you say "Ubuntu can't play MP3s but XP can!" you'll get help in a minute.
6
selmnoo 16 hours ago 5 replies      
So, uh, what exactly is 'wikimedia'? How is it different from the straight-up 'Wikipedia'? This article seems like it should have been on Wikipedia, but it's on Wikimedia. I've never seen an article of this nature being hosted on wikimedia. What's going on here?
7
chaz 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Relevant here: "I use a trick with co-workers when were trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonalds." By throwing out a "wrong answer," better suggestions are made.

https://medium.com/what-i-learned-building/9216e1c9da7d

8
spinchange 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This, and not simply invective, used to be what "trolling" was about. At least in my romanticized memory of it.
9
gexla 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I think people are often more motivated to point out that someone is wrong than by answering a question.

http://xkcd.com/386/

10
pdevr 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Related: In IRC channels, ask a question and state that a competing product seems to work better. You will get multiple answers within minutes. Works especially well if it is Linux vs Windows.
11
yoha 8 hours ago 0 replies      
That's basically how I go with links posted on Hacker News or Reddit. Often I can save the burden of reading a terse article by reading the comments. There is always someone who has only read the title, who says something dumb; he is then quickly corrected by someone who did read the article and explain it thoroughly.

On the one hand, getting first to the comments is also good when the source is dubious. On the other hand, some article are definitely worth reading (which is usually easy to guess from the title or first comments), and it feels good to give back when you know what the article is about and can contribute to the discussion.

12
nostrademons 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've heard this attributed to Alan Kay instead of Ward Cunningham...

...which probably makes this comment a good example of the law.

13
sudonim 16 hours ago 0 replies      
More discussion from when this was posted on reddit.

http://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/1zv60v/til_of...

14
andrewcooke 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I've made a conscious effort recently to make more mistakes (my apologies to the people on julia-users). I feel it's improved the rate at which I learn things. And I feel validated by "Antifragile" which I've just started reading.

(By chance I am also currently being tested for brain damage. It's bitterly amusing that I end up being unsure if I am actually making more mistakes on purpose or not...)

15
dredmorbius 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is also an interrogation technique: "We know you did X." "No, I was doing Y or was at Z."

Where Y and Z are what the interrogator was after. More reasons not to talk to the cops.

16
mjs 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes you can get a solution to a problem by saying saying that after spending a bunch of time attempting to solve it, you've decided that a solution is impossible. The desire to prove you wrong is too much for some to withstand, and they go out of their way to provide you with a solution. (A consequence of http://xkcd.com/386/ "someone is wrong on the internet".)
17
keeran 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is how many get help in #rubyonrails on Freenode. Join the channel and state that x is impossible with ActiveRecord/ActionView/ActionController - solution posted in seconds.
18
devx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This actually used to be a joke about the Linux community.
19
Tloewald 17 hours ago 2 replies      
So the newsweek story should cause the real inventor of bitcoin to be revealed presently?
20
aDevilInMe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Best is subjective. Who is it best for, the lazy individual posing the question(incorrect statement) or for people who will reply? In addition how many more questions can the person ask like this before everyone ignores them?
21
simondedalus 13 hours ago 0 replies      
the best way to get an answer on the internet, as everywhere else, is to ask a very clear question to the right interlocutor.

in other words, you need to do enough work on your own to figure out what you need to know, after which you'll find that (as long as you have a decent command of the language you're expressing yourself in and the general terms in the field of inquiry) it's not difficult to get good answers.

22
AnthonBerg 16 hours ago 0 replies      
YES THE BEST WAY TO GRT CLEAN WATER IS TO PEE INTHE WELL BECOS THEN EVERYONE WANTS TO CLEAN THE WATER YOU SEE
23
paul_f 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There are no interesting examples of this law.
24
niteshreddy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is general human tendency, that is "to correct".
25
justplay 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Exactly.
26
danieth 17 hours ago 1 reply      
(with no legit wiki sources)
27
benihana 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do mods constantly micromanage submission titles? The original title was the actual law, not the name of the law.
28
HNisForLosers 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very true of Hacker News. Everyone here has to be the smartest fucker on the planet, longing for the great PG approval.
29
Heliosmaster 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't agree...
30
nissehulth 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm confused. Is the right answer or the wrong answer?
31
infruset 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, someone has unmasked Newsweek's intentions.
12
Facebooks F8 Agenda: Deep linking for mobile apps tapfame.com
7 points by satjot  2 hours ago   3 comments top 2
1
allantyoung 1 hour ago 1 reply      
@satjot - can "they" detect what's installed on your smartphone? If yes, I can see how deep-linking would be a great feature for apps that have high value repeat purchases.
2
alaskamiller 1 hour ago 0 replies      
From 2004:

<a href="aim:GoIm?screenname=myscreenname&message=hello">x</a>

13
DEC64: Decimal Floating Point dec64.com
174 points by zakember  13 hours ago   162 comments top 34
1
StefanKarpinski 6 hours ago 3 replies      
This is some serious amateur hour. The most glaring problem is this:

> There are 255 possible representations of zero. They are all considered to be equal.

There are also 255 representations of almost all representable numbers. For example, 10 is 1 x 10^1 or 10 x 10^0 or any one of 253 other representations. Aside from the fact that you're wasting an entire byte of your representation, this means that you can't check for equality by comparing bits. Take a look at the the assembly implementation of equality checking:

https://github.com/douglascrockford/DEC64/blob/master/dec64....

The "fast path" (which is ten instruction) applies only if the two numbers have the same exponent. The slow path calls subtraction and returns true if the result is zero. The implementation of subtraction falls back on yet another function, which jumps around even more:

https://github.com/douglascrockford/DEC64/blob/master/dec64....

For most comparisons (no, comparing numbers with the same exponent is not the norm)it will take around FIFTY INSTRUCTIONS TO CHECK IF TWO NUMBERS ARE EQUAL OR NOT. Many of these instructions are branches and inherently unpredictable ones at that, which means that pipeline stalls will be normal. All told, I would expect equality comparison to typically take around 100 cycles. It's not even clear to me that this implementation is correct because at the end of the subtraction, it compares the result to the zero word, which is only one of the 255 possible representations of zero. The lack of a single canonical representation of any number is just as bad for other arithmetic operations and comparisons, if not worse.

Crockfords bugaboo with IEEE 754 floating-point is bizarre, verging on pathological. He devoted a section in his book "JavaScript: The Good Parts" to a rather ill-informed rant against it. When I saw him give a talk, I took the opportunity to ask him what he thought would be a good alternative to using IEEE 754. His answer was I shit you not "I don't know". Apparently this proposal is the answer. No thanks, I will stick with the amazingly successful, ubiquitous, thoroughly thought out standard, that was spearheaded by William Kahan one of the greatest numerical analysts of all time. Anyone who doesn't appreciate how good we have it with IEEE 754 should really read "An Interview with the Old Man of Floating-Point" [1], in which Kahan relates just how messed up this stuff was before the IEEE 754 standardization process. It should also be noted that there already is an IEEE standard for decimal floating-point [2], which is not only infinitely better thought out than this drivel, but also is already implemented in hardware on many systems sold by IBM and others, specifically for financial applications.

[1] http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~wkahan/ieee754status/754story.ht...

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimal64_floating-point_format

2
ErsatzVerkehr 11 hours ago 7 replies      
As a "specification" this document is laughable. For example, rounding modes and overflow behavior are not addressed. The comment that object pointers can be stuffed into the coefficient field (usually called 'mantissa') is completely non-sequitur. Frankly I am surprised to see such a big name behind it.

I imagine this project is inspired by the sad state of numerical computing in Javascript, but this proposal will surely only make it worse. The world certainly doesn't need a new, incompatible, poorly-thought-out floating point format.

Compare the level of thought and detail in this "specification" to the level of thought and detail in this famous summary overview of floating point issues: https://ece.uwaterloo.ca/~dwharder/NumericalAnalysis/02Numer... ("What every computer scientist should know...")

> DEC64 is intended to be the only number type in the next generation of application programming languages.

Jesus, I certainly hope not.

3
ChuckMcM 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting approach, rather than normalize to 1 it normalizes to the largest whole number. The positives of this are that you don't run into issues with encoding things like .1 that you do in binary (or any repeating binary fraction), the downside is that you lose precision when you have more than 16 digits of precision. And the of course the complaint most folks will throw at it is that it fails differently depending on what 'end' of the number you're losing precision. The largest decimal number you can represent in 56 bits is 72,057,594,927,935 so the largest decimal number you can represent will any digit value is 9,999,999,999,999 (16 digits), and you have "extra" space at the top (0-6).

However, to Doug Crockfords credit, the number space it covers is pretty useful for a lot of different things and in scripted languages and other uses that aren't safety related I can see the advantage of an 'fractional integer' type.

Edit: Mike Cowlishaw, who is also quite interested in decimal arithmetic has a much deeper treatment here: http://speleotrove.com/decimal/

4
haberman 11 hours ago 3 replies      
So is this primarily a performance vs. convenience thing?

If both base2 and base10 floating point are implemented in hardware, what makes base10 inherently less efficient?

Also, I don't have a good intuition for the difference in what numbers can be exactly represented. I'd love to see this represented visually somehow.

Double precision can exactly represent integers up to 2^53, then half of integers between 2^53 and 2^54, then a quarter of integers between 2^54 and 2^55, etc.

Dec64 would be able to exactly represent integers up to 2^55, then 1/10th of all integers between 2^55 and 10(2^55), then 1/100th of all integers between 10(2^55) and 100(2^55).

So the "holes" are different, so-to-speak. How would this affect accuracy of complicated expressions?

5
tokenrove 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This would benefit from a better comparison with IEEE 754-2008 decimal64; he dismisses it as being too inefficient but I don't see much other discussion about it, which is too bad since at least it's already implemented in hardware on some platforms.

Also, it's worth mentioning http://speleotrove.com/decimal/ as a great repository of decimal float info. I hope it will be updated with some discussion of this proposed format.

6
comex 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Instead of being stuck with yet another inaccurate number type for integers, I want to see hardware assisted bigints. Something like:

- A value is either a 63 bit signed integer or a pointer to external storage, using one bit to tell which.

- One instruction to take two operands, test if either is a pointer, do arithmetic, and test for overflow. Those cases would jump to a previously configured operation table for software helpers.

- A bit to distinguish bigint from trap-on-overflow, which would differ only in what the software helper does.

- Separate branch predictor for this and normal branches?

I don't know much about CPUs, but this doesn't seem unreasonable, and it could eliminate classes of software errors.

7
deathanatos 7 hours ago 2 replies      
> DEC64 is intended to be the only number type in the next generation of application programming languages.

Please no. There's a very solid case for integers in programming languages: many places in code call for a number which must be an integer: having the type enforce this is nice: you don't need to check and abort (or floor, or whatever) if someone passes you a non-integer. Basically, anything that does an array index, which is any for loop walking through a memory buffer (which might be an array, a string, a file, the list goes on and on. Anything that can be counted) wants an integer. x[i] where i is not an integer just doesn't make sense: ideally, let a type system enforce that.

Granted, of course, that many languages will just truncate a float in an integers context, and so funny stuff does happen (I don't really feel that this is a good thing). (Although interestingly, JS is not one of them.) Personally, I think JS needs an integer type. Especially when you see people start getting into bignum stuff in JS, it gets silly fast, as first you can only store so many bits before floating point loses precision, but even then, even if you have an "integer", JS will find funny ways to shoot you in the foot. For example:

  x | 0 === x
does not hold true for all integers in JS.

8
al2o3cr 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"DEC64 is intended to be the only number type in the next generation of application programming languages."

FFS, just because the designers of JS couldn't numerically compute their way out of a paper bag doesn't mean that FUTURE languages should be saddled with that mistake.

9
tel 12 hours ago 3 replies      
It can provide very fast performance on integer values, eliminating the need for a separate int type and avoiding the terrible errors than can result from int truncation.

What! I do not see how making a float fast on integers should ever eliminate the need for an int type. Ints and Real-approximations like Dec64 are simply different things entirely.

It's annoying enough that this happens in Javascript.

10
bsder 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we please make fun of this "specification" very very loudly as a warning to people who might think this is even a remotely good idea?

Decimal floating point is actually a good, underutilized idea. However, there is a VERY good specification here:http://speleotrove.com/decimal/dbspec.html

It is written by people who understand the problem, and have thought quite deeply about the solutions.

As opposed to this pile of garbage ...

11
bananas 12 hours ago 0 replies      
IBM also have a library called decNumber which has decent high level functions as well as 32/64/128 bit types.

http://speleotrove.com/decimal/decnumber.html

Have used this for a number of years for financial calculations.

12
stormbrew 9 hours ago 1 reply      
A specific thing I haven't seen anyone mention is that NaN is equal to NaN in this, which is quite different from IEEE FP. Although it's a thing that often seems counterintuitive at first glance, doesn't this kind of ruin the error-taint quality of NaN?
13
norswap 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who didn't notice, this is an initiative of Douglas Crockford, the inventor of JSON (among other things).
14
0x09 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> A later revision of IEEE 754 attempted to remedy this, but the formats it recommended were so inefficient that it has not found much acceptance.

The C and C++ standards committees have been drafting decimal support based on IEC 60559:2011 (previously IEEE 754-2008) since its creation.

Original C TR: http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg14/www/docs/n1312.pdf

Latest draft specification: http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg14/www/docs/n1781.pdf

Original C++ TR: http://www.open-std.org/JTC1/SC22/WG21/docs/papers/2009/n284...

Update proposal for C++11: http://www.open-std.org/jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/papers/2012/n340...

GCC, ICC, IBM C, and HP C have adopted the extension. Links to the respective software implementations can be found under "cost of implementation" in the C++11 proposal above, except GCC, which uses IBM's library. Its support is documented here: http://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/gcc/Decimal-Float.html

Meanwhile, hardware support so far exists in POWER6 and 7 and SPARC64 X.

This may seem like slow adoption if you aren't accustomed to the glacial pace of standards processes. Especially in the context of a component as critical as floating point numerics. If there is any holdup it would be lack of demand for this format, which the article's proposal doesn't affect.

15
AxeFights 6 hours ago 1 reply      
From the blog post

> DEC64 is a number type. It can precisely represent decimal fractions with 16 decimal places, which makes it well suited to all applications that are concerned with money.

From the reference code

> Rounding is to the nearest value. Ties are rounded away from zero.

Useful wikipedia entry regarding rounding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rounding#Round_half_to_even)

> This variant of the round-to-nearest method is also called unbiased rounding, convergent rounding, statistician's rounding, Dutch rounding, Gaussian rounding, odd-even rounding, bankers' rounding, broken rounding, or DDR rounding and is widely used in bookkeeping. This is the default rounding mode used in IEEE 754 computing functions and operators.

Rounding towards zero isn't compatible with financial calculations (unless you're performing office space style bank theft), so this should never be used for numeric calculations involving money. I wonder what he was really trying to solve with this since he missed a fairly important aspect of the big picture. That being said, there's no problem statement on his entire website to address what actual problem he was trying to solve, so all we see is a half baked solution for some unknown problem. On the plus side, at least he didn't use the "for Good, not Evil" clause in the license this time.

edit: formatting

16
NkVczPkybiXICG 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Where's exp(), log(), sin(), cos()? He did the bare minimum amount of work and left all the interesting functionality out. We have relatively fast ways of dealing with these in IEEE754, but I see no equivalent here.

I really don't want to rehash the arguments that applied 30 years ago, as they do today. Decimal floating point is good for some things, but to be considered the "only number type in the next generation of programming languages" is laughable.

17
pkill17 10 hours ago 1 reply      
How does he explain storing simple integers in a reasonable amount of space? Any decent programmer will avoid using too many bits for a variable that never exceeds a certain value (short, int, etc). It seems rather foolish and arrogant to claim this one half-implemented number type can satisfy everyone's needs in every programming language.

Next week he'll have a number format with 48 mantissa bits, 8 exponent bits and 8 unsigned base bits to define a base value between 0 and 255. Look at all the performance and simplicity involved!

18
callesgg 11 hours ago 3 replies      
While i find the binary incomparability with with decimals somewhat annoying.

In the bigger picture what i fell we are generally missing in most programing languages is an EASY way to store and handle fractions.

19
matmann2001 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I see a few flaws that would prevent this from being a decent hardware type:

1) The exponent bits should be the higher order bits. Otherwise, this type breaks compatibility with existing comparator circuitry.

2) This representation uses 10 as the exponent base. That will require quite a bit of extra circuitry, as opposed to what would be required if a base of 2 was used. Citing examples from COBOL and BASIC as reasons for using base 10 is not a very convincing.

3) With both fields being 2's compliment, you're wasting a bit, just to indicate sign. The IEEE single precision floating point standard cleverly avoids this by implicitly subtracting 127 from the exponent value.

4) 255 possible representations of zero? Wat?

5) This type may be suitable for large numbers, but there's no fraction support. In a lot of work that would require doing math on the large numbers that this "standard" affords, those large numbers are involved in division operations, and there's no type for the results of such an operation to cast into.

6) This data type seems to be designed to make efficient by-hand (and perhaps by-software) translation into a human-readable string. But who cares? That's not a reason to choose a data type, especially not a "scientific" one. You choose data types to represent the range of data you have in a format that makes for efficient calculation and conversion with the mathematical or logical operations you want to be able to perform.

20
todd8 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Python has three basic numeric types, unbounded integers, floats (with the precision of C doubles), and complex (for example, 5+0.3j). However, its standard library includes both a decimal type and a fraction type. The decimal type has been in the language for over 9 years. The documentation is quite clear [1].

Python's decimal type conforms to IBM's General Decimal Arithmetic Specification [2] which is based on IEEE 754 and IEEE 854. Python's decimal type is very complete. For example Python supports the complete range of rounding options found in these specifications (ROUND_CEILING, ROUND_DOWN, ROUND_FLOOR, ROUND_HALF_DOWN, ROUND_HALF_EVEN, ROUND_HALF_UP, ROUND_UP, and ROUND_05UP). By comparison Dec64 supports only one.

Despite having used Python on and off for over 10 years, I've never felt a need to use this decimal type. Integers and floats seem to work for me (although it's nice to have a good decimal implementation available if I need it).

[1] http://docs.python.org/3.4/library/decimal.html[2] http://speleotrove.com/decimal/decarith.html

21
wglb 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Does look interesting.

However, one nit in terms of interesting architecture: The Burroughs 5000 series had a floating point format in which an exponent of zero allowed the mantissa to be treated as an ordinary integer. In fact, the whole addressing scheme was decimal. The addresses were stored in one decimal digit per nibble, so it was doing decimal at the hardware level.

While this looks interesting at first blush, good luck with DEC64 is intended to be the only number type in the next generation of application programming languages. I think float will be around for a while, what with the blinding speed in today's processors, and the availability of 80 bit intermediate precision.

22
sprash 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A real alternative to floating points would be a Logarithmic number system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logarithmic_number_system) which has been shown to be a "more accurate alternative to floating-point, with improved speed."
23
microcolonel 3 hours ago 0 replies      
By giving programmers a choice of number types, programmers are required to waste their time making choices that dont matter. Even worse, making a bad choice can lead to a loss of accuracy or destructive bugs. This is a bad practice that is very deeply ingrained.

This is like saying that the sharp blades on scissors (diverse numeric types) make them prone to causing bodily harm to surrounding people(errors due to constraints of types), then concluding that we should replace all scissors (numeric types) with those rounded plastic scissors(dec64 play dough floats) which come with a play dough set.

Every time somebody has the idea that by deluding developers more we can save them trouble and make them feel safer, we pat that person on the back and follow their recipe.Then two years later there's a HN post about why you really shouldn't be doing whatever was prescribed.

24
jcalvinowens 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> DEC64 is intended to be the only number type in the next generation of application programming languages.

Is he seriously arguing that integer types should be eliminated? What the hell?

I really hope for the author's sake this is a joke.

25
joelpetracci 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The name is a bit confusing. I have seen dec32 and dec64 numbers in some mil std ICDs. I can't find any of the documents online but here [1] is a discussion about dec 32 that links to a pdf which briefly describes the dec32 and dec64 formats.

[1] http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1797806/parsing-a-hex-for...

26
joaomsa 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought the advantage of 2's complement was that we only had one zero and no additional conversions to do arithmetic on negatives, simplifying operations and ALU implementations.Without normalization, how would that work with DEC64? Set both numbers to the highest exponent?
27
tdicola 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is pretty interesting and appreciate that it's presented with working code.

I think people freaking out that they're taking our precious integers away are being a little brash. A natural number type could easily be built on top of a dec64 type for those cases where you really need only whole numbers.

28
sixbrx 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I seem to remember that "wobble" which is how the relative roundoff error relates to the absolute error, becomes worse as the base becomes larger (the ratio being the base itself). So that may be one disadvantage in using a decimal base.
29
SimHacker 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Q: Why do programmers confuse Christmas and Halloween?

A: Because DEC 25 = OCT 31

30
obilgic 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is the fixed point decimal implementation for Golang

https://github.com/oguzbilgic/fpd

31
jonny_eh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this intended to be used in a future version of JavaScript?
32
yincrash 12 hours ago 2 replies      
33
awalton 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> There are 255 possible representations of zero. They are all considered to be equal.

And we're done here folks.

34
NAFV_P 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The term "mantissa" is related to common logarithms, why is it used in relation to floats?
14
Show HN: Hoodie App is Men's Clothing in Two Taps apple.com
30 points by pkrein  5 hours ago   27 comments top 9
1
JoshGlazebrook 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I have a hard time believing there is a large group of people that are this lazy as well as careless with money that they would use this for their clothing.

> All purchases are final, absolutely no returns will be accepted. We're both too lazy to deal with that.

To me, that just sounds like you don't even care about the customer. But that could just be me as I actually do care about being happy with something I've bought with my own money.

I just don't see this as something that will take off. Especially as men are becoming more fashion aware.

2
avalaunch 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Those prices are about 3x what I would normally pay for basic, casual clothing. I'm from Cincinnati though, so perhaps everything is a lot more expensive elsewhere, or maybe I'm just really cheap.

I don't like shopping much, but if I'm not being picky, it doesn't take very long to get in and out of a store, so even disregarding the price, this isn't that appealing to me. It might be more appealing if the app promised to make me look good without the effort of shopping. Just because I'm feeling lazy doesn't mean I want the person picking out my clothing to be lazy too. Keep the simplicity of the app, but go the extra mile for me. Take my sizes, but also get my age, a few snapshots, my general taste in clothing, and then really tailor your picks to me. That's something I might pay a premium for.

3
jamiequint 3 hours ago 3 replies      
This seems like something that will only work for someone who views clothing as 100% utilitarian and does not care about how they look. The sizing, fit, and style aspects are really hard to do right for clothing where people care about their style and other players seem to have shipping basics on-demand nailed down. (e.g. MeUndies, ManPacks - although none seem to have a mobile app so maybe you can just compete on user acq. in that channel)

1. I don't know of any brand of jeans that sells for $40-80 that fits well and looks good. (I'd say Flint & Tinder is the closest and they come in at $105)

2. How do you size tees, tee sizing varies widely across brands? How does jean sizing work, are the jeans bootcut, straight leg, slim straight? (you also have 35's as a waist size which basically nobody but Bonobos produces)

3. Are you matching the shoes to my style somehow (or the other clothes you are sending) or are they just some random pair of shoes?

4. How are undershirts and t-shirts different?

5. Are you shipping me sneakers or shoes? If shoes are they oxfords? desert boots? something else? If anything but sneakers are you shipping dress socks to go with them or are you still shipping athletic socks?

4
razvanr 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi from https://www.twotap.com :) You can enable this for 100+ retailers -- https://twotap.com/supported-stores -- with full return support too.
5
leobelle 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty interesting idea, good luck! Customer service and returns are pretty important though.
6
elliott34 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait so you can't buy hoodies? Uninstalled.
7
lostlogin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hit the link from this on my phone. It sends me to the App Store but never loads (I'm in NZ - I suspect I can't get the app). Double tap back to the HN app and it loads and instantly redirects back to the non-loading App Store. Had to force quit the HN app to get out of the nasty loop.
8
tyrelb 4 hours ago 1 reply      
can we Show HN the actual web site vs. an app?

http://gethoodie.com/ - offline

9
jasonlotito 3 hours ago 1 reply      
So...

* No way to edit sizes

* No way to go back

* Login doesn't save credentials.

* No hoodie

* No sizes for shirts

So, basically, an app built in a weekend. Grats on that, but you really need to put more work into it. It's still fairly raw, and the lack of quality pretty much doesn't instill much trust in paying for things that are fairly high in price for something I "hate" to shop for.

15
Open-Sourcing My Gambit Scheme iOS Game from 2010 jlongster.com
101 points by jlongster  14 hours ago   10 comments top 3
1
davexunit 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really great! I loved the live coding demo with the sine wave animation. You've inspired me to do some more hacking on my pet project. I am developing a 2D game engine in GNU Guile Scheme and it shares many features with what you've developed:

- A "cooperative" REPL server that plays nice with the running event loop

- An Emacs development environment with Geiser providing the remote REPL integration

- Cooperative multitasking using coroutines and a scheduler

- OpenGL renderer

- Functional reactive programming

2
hoprocker 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks so much! I was really stoked by yesterday's related post (and your discussion in the comments). I also find it really interesting to see Scheme used in production; I sort of marginalized it (unfairly to myself, I'm sure) after college as being a good toy Lisp for things like demonstrations in SICP.
3
j_m_b 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome! This is some of the coolest stuff I've seen on HN in awhile. Thanks for posting this writeup and making your code open-source.
16
Google Exploit Steal Account Login Email Addresses tomanthony.co.uk
106 points by TomAnthony  14 hours ago   20 comments top 6
1
cognivore 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice work! I use Google+ and I a. Like that you found a hole and reported it, and b. Google fixed it nice a promptly.

I hope you get the bounty.

2
callesgg 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Definitely think it is worth a bounty.For example I have a YouTube account(therefore a google plus account) that I don't want to share as my personal email.

This bug was literally the exact reason I did not acctualy want to connect my YouTube account to google plus. But there was no real choice more like, take it or leave it.

3
dalek2point3 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Nice work, but I hate how he has to say "Google should let me know next week whether this qualifies for a bounty; Ill update this post when they do." -- He's the one who did Google a favor! For him to have to be in this position where he's hoping for a bounty, and Google has no incentives to give him one is kinda a crappy position to be in. We need an intermediary for security exploits that can negotiate bounties before full information about the exploit is revealed. Perhaps something already exists?
4
k3oni 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Good job and thanks for reporting it. I can see this qualifying for a bounty and hope you'll get it.
5
saimey 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure there are people who would've paid to get private access to this workaround, and so I hope you will in fact get rewarded for the time well spent.
6
eric_khun 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Clean and professional for the 2 sides. I like it!
17
The Collapse: How a top legal firm destroyed itself newyorker.com
69 points by svenkatesh  11 hours ago   12 comments top 5
1
noname123 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice. Sounds like an average "rainmaker" partner at a law firm clears north of $2mil/year with sign-on bonuses and multi-year contracts; and you can be a prima-donna and complain with the management and throw your weight around.

Very unlike an engineering company where you have to keep your head down and do the work. Good for them.

2
rayiner 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The former chairman (Davis), and the two administrators (DiCarmine, and Sanders) are now facing criminal charges for fraud: http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-06/four-ex-dewey-of....

The Dewey collapse is a fairly typical story of greed, too much leverage, and borrowing against uncertain future earnings destroying a company. Its also a great example of cargo cult thinking. Law firms see their clients merging and think: we need to get bigger too. Thus, there has been a huge trend in law firm mergers the last couple of decades. Yet, law firms as businesses bear almost no resemblance to the sort of traditional companies that benefit from mergers. There's very little economics of scale in a law firm. They have little to no physical capital, and almost all their value is wrapped up in their people, who are only there as long as it suits them.[1] And legal ethics rules penalize larger firms, because they impute conflicts of interest for every lawyer onto the whole firm.

The only value to merging beyond a certain size,[2] is for the managers and administrators, who can use the mergers as an opportunity to funnel more profits up to themselves. At Dewey, Di Carmine and the CFO, two non-lawyer administrators, were making over $2 million per year. They also had golden parachutes and clauses saying they could only be fired if they committed crimes. Their justification for all that was of course the role they played in the merger. Its notable that at lockstep firms, where partner pay is based strictly on seniority, and there is not a huge incentive for partners who take on managerial roles, merger mania has not taken hold.

The collapse is also a wonderful example of how intelligent people can make dumb decisions based on the narratives they create for themselves. Prior to the merger, LeBouef & Lamb was financially sound, while Dewey Ballantine was facing declining revenues. The folks pushing the merger, Davis and the consultants, painted this narrative of LeBouef merging its way into a prestigious brand, and Dewey shoring itself up with a profitable marriage-partner. Of course in hindsight the narrative was ridiculous. The pedigree of the brand wasn't particularly valuable in the end, and LeBouef was not large enough to successfully absorb an ailing firm that was almost as large as itself.

[1] Law firms face a more extreme version of the "talent exodus" problem that plagues tech companies. At a firm, almost all of the value of the business is wrapped up in the partners. If they leave, they take their billings with them and your bottom line is in trouble overnight. The top partners might want to stick with the firm through a rough patch, but they have an enormous game-theoretic incentive to jump ship because if the firm does implode, the folks that don't leave will be left holding the bag.

[2] Practice areas ebb and flow, so you need enough lawyers to support diversified counter-cyclical practices and to be able to cross sell clients internally. The point of diminishing returns for that are probably a quarter of the size Dewey ended up after the merger.

3
Nicholas_C 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Pretty interesting and humorous write up about the e-mails between the financial leaders of the firm: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-03-06/law-firm-ac...
4
coldcode 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Sure sounds a lot like high school, except with millions of dollars going back and forth.
5
gwern 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Fascinating tale of incentives gone wrong.
18
How to Interpret Ridiculous Web Design Job Posts teamtreehouse.com
39 points by nickpettit  8 hours ago   15 comments top 6
1
biot 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This misses out some important parts. The original job description had:

  * Proficient with javascript, good knowledge of jQuery and    creating/debugging jQuery plugins  * Understanding of OO principles, especially with regard to    HTML/CSS/JS and creating reusable UI components  * Expert knowledge of browser quirks and creating web apps that    are consistent across all major browsers  * Experience optimizing front end code for performance/speed  * Experience optimizing front end code for SEO  * Ability to code detailed, functional pages from mockups in    collaboration with web designers
All of these are diluted down to:

  * Solid understanding of front-end languages and frameworks    (primarily HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and jQuery)
... and misses the specifics entirely. Some developers are good with JavaScript and jQuery, but don't have the mindset to be able to debug jQuery plugins, or build reusable components vs. hacking a quick and dirty one-off implementation, or understand different quirks between browsers ("Doesn't jQuery do that for me?"), or have to deal with performance, or have any knowledge of SEO work, or is only able to take existing HTML and tweak it but is unable to output polished HTML, CSS, and JavaScript from design mockups.

For small companies who need someone to hit the ground running, it's a disservice to themselves to not ask for specific skillsets. They'll end up wasting time interviewing unqualified candidates. If you're part of a larger company or you're willing to train someone who is smart, gets things done, and can learn on their feet then it's fine to be vague about what you're looking for since you're willing to accept that any hire you make may take several months to get up to speed (and possibly never grok some skills) with what you actually want them to have been doing from day one.

2
dgabriel 5 hours ago 2 replies      
"Excellent communication skills," is a meaningless throwaway line. Does it mean "not an asshole", or "fluent in <company language>", or "able to craft client emails", or "presents at conferences"? Why bother putting that in if you are not excellently communicating what you exactly mean?
3
svmegatron 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently had occasion to write a job description for a web design job. It was surprisingly hard, and I recommend it as an exercise to anyone frustrated with the language of job postings.

I wound up taking refuge in the phrase "you'll need one or more of the following skills" and then describing my unicorn candidate. Using that, I worried a little less about lacking the "language" of the particular job. And, I think, I was able to avoid scaring away some strong candidates who might not have otherwise applied.

4
phantomb 5 hours ago 2 replies      
"Excellent communication skills and the ability to work well with others"

The author added this in the rewrite, but I think this is exactly the kind of filler that needs to be avoided. These things are mandatory for basically all jobs, and people who can't communicate and work with others don't think they lack these skills anyway.

5
gedrap 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hm, what I expected was a post about red flags in freelance (odesk, elance, etc) job postings. They are (normally) obvious but since treehouse is oriented to beginners [0], might be not obvious to them.

Although I try to adjust search well there, still ~80% of job posts are quite crappy [1], full of red flags. Maybe it's not a good place to look for $40/h+ jobs? Or am I being just too picky/paranoid?

[0] or at least that's the impression I got from annoying "understanding technology is as fundamental..." youtube video ad I am seeing every day for months and am fed up with. At least it's not "to have a job in tech, you don't need a degree". Hated that one.

6
zmitri 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So I've learned that in some cases a lot of these things are done up so formally so as to be able to work with immigrants.

In order to hire an immigrant, there's a lot of things you need to be able to prove, and being able to show similar job postings elsewhere is important. But basically, you want the job to look like it's very, very serious because otherwise, why would you hire an immigrant instead of an American?

In reality you don't need to have every single thing on the list, but there are some reasons they are actually written out like that.

19
'I was bullied and beaten every day. Programming saved my life' theguardian.com
31 points by a_w  2 hours ago   8 comments top 6
1
byuu 28 minutes ago 1 reply      
Yep, exactly. You go to the adults, and they don't help you at all. So you stand up for yourself, and now you're the one in trouble. I can't possibly think of a more backwards model for encouraging bullying.

Even with the punishments, I've always been prouder and happier when I stood up for myself. So do that anyway. It doesn't stop the bullying, but it does reduce it somewhat and you gain more respect for yourself. You'll probably lose in a fight, but no matter how weak you are, anyone can inflict at least some level of pain on an aggressor.

It's truly sad the way so many kids have to deal with this, yet nothing is ever really done about it.

Unlike you, I would have changed it all. I would have worked out constantly, and made a name for myself as the crazy guy you didn't mess with, because he'd flip out completely.

But as bad as it is, at least take solace that you could go home in peace. Imagine also having a 300lb abusive bully at home that denied you any access to technology, even with your own hard-earned money. My solace was counting down each day to 18, and occasionally sneaking off to public libraries to use their computers for a bit. A lot of my programming I learned from reading books, and the mandatory graphing calculators for math class. At 16-17, I saved up for a laptop, and would use it in the parking lots of retail stores while pretending to be at work.

But as others are saying, it gets a lot better. I make $70k/yr now, total household income is 120k/yr, have a nice house and cars, and all that. The worst I have to deal with anymore are the occasional trolls online.

2
TheBiv 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Great read and even greater story, thank you for sharing!

When I read stories like this a small part of me wishes that I were there to beat up the bullies, to be his friend and to end the pain.

The another part of me tries to put myself in his shoes and wonder what type of support system I would have needed in order to replicate his success from freeing himself of the bullying.

Then, an even separate part of me thinks about what I can do to prevent this from happening to kids in the future.

I don't know which part of myself to side with, but I do know that I appreciate him telling his story and I am glad that he was able to persevere from. Good on you. Shame on your classmates.

3
gargarplex 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is it sad that I saw this post and immediately thought, "Well, that doesn't reflect well on programmers..", thinking that our status as a group is already quite low.

* Speaking as someone who has experienced quite a fair share of bullying, such that it makes me trepidatious in most social situations, waiting and ever expecting the first arrow.

^ probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, which turns it into "my fault". if anyone has successfully overcome this please reach out!

- just donated 10 to the charity at http://www.beatbullying.org .. which is (broken-linked) at the bottom of the op

4
appreneur 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I am 37,I am fat and I am not programmer and I have been bullied for 20 years.I just became CEO of my own software firm finally and it doesnt do that well but I am fine,I feel life is far more easier and simpler, no more bullying.

I have few recommendations:1.Never lower your selfesteem, no matter what the idea of bullying is to kill selfesteem and watch you crumble.2.No matter what anybody says including your own mind never ever feel down,life is beautiful as it is...you are this remarkable human(all humans) who functions with 1 billion neurons .... 3.Its just a thought to give up and its just another thought to see how remarkable life is....these bullies of today or failures of tommorrow.5.I can show you countless examples how bullying created a false confidence in them and then when life started to really hitback the bullies just didnt know to deal with they became utter failures, we who are bullied are prepared for life either ways,I think I am much more stronger and much better prepared on a positive side.Also I tend to go and support anybody who needs help.

6.If ever you need help in counseling and getting back into confidence, I am always open,I am part time motivational speaker:).

5
yetanotherphd 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
A powerful reminder that our society still doesn't offer adequate protection, even of their basic right to safety, to all its members.
6
emersonrsantos 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Yet one more great undervoted post I've seen in HN. No, I didn't identify myself with the bullying story (thankfully), but with the freedom and self-expression he found on programming.
20
What ever happened to MSX computers dvorak.org
5 points by bane  1 hour ago   4 comments top 3
1
pbiggar 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Boring story time!

I grew up on the MSX. My dad bought two of them in around 1985 or so. At school we were taught Logo on BBC Micros, but we didnt have a BBC micro at home, so my dad sourced MSX Logo [1].

Unfortunately, it was localized in dutch, so instead of the "forward" command, there was the "vooruit" command. So to make it the same as we learned in school, my dad made a set of English functions which wrapped all the Dutch functions. He is an economist/diplomat, not a programmer, and it was quite a few years until I realized what he had done and how impressive that was.

[1] http://www.generation-msx.nl/software/philips/msx-logo/relea...

2
ciclista 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
My very first programming experience was on an MSX. At least in my small circle, MSX (and the MSX-2) were at least as popular as Spectrum or the Commodore 64 in Europe. In the 90s (not sure what the current status is) the retro scene interest for MSX computers was quite active as well.
3
gandalfu 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Both my secondary and high schools had labs filled with MSX keyboards, B/W TVs and tape recorders. My intro to programming came from Joe Pritchard books "MSX Exposed" and "Machine Language for MSX"... and I still have notebooks full of hand written programs... and a fully functional DAEWO MSX keyboard in the closet.

Happy poking!

21
Smart Guy Productivity Pitfalls bookofhook.blogspot.de
179 points by SoftwarePatent  19 hours ago   43 comments top 11
1
GuiA 17 hours ago 6 replies      
Awesome write up.

Without realizing it, I've been doing the same "CD trick". I play the Monstercat album mixes (https://www.youtube.com/user/MonstercatMedia - dubstep, which , regardless of its musical merits, I find conducive to focusing and not trailing off) and see how many I go through in the day. I also like albums because they're about an hour long, which I use as one-hour long pomodoro timers. 20 minutes is just way too short for me to truly focus.

I also really like the attitude that if you're not touching code, you're not doing real work. Sure, project managers etc. will say that your job is not solely to write code, and that responding to emails, participating in meetings with your teammates, etc. are as much part of your job. But I like the simplicity of "if you're not writing code, you're fucking off" and how easy it makes it to answer the question "Did I work today?".

The other points are spot on. I suspect a lot of engineers are of the ADHD-type personality (the fact that "yak shaving" is a thing in our jargon is a good sign of that IMO), and a key part of addressing it is to learn how to spot when you go off track (zoning off and going on Twitter when the bug is getting a bit too hard to track down, stopping what you're doing because a random question popped into your head and you just have to read the related Wikipedia article, etc.) so that you can correct yourself. Don't feel bad about it- just learn how to catch it early, and stop doing it.

I heard a talk a while back where the speaker was driving home the fact that we need to get used to the fact that we should do things regardless of whether we feel like doing them or not. It sounds super dumb and like the ultimate first world problem, but thinking about it hard made me realized how skewed my perspective was. I feel like our culture at large really leads us to believe that we should only do things we like and enjoy; "I don't feel like doing it" is definitely a sentence I hear regularly among my peers.

Finally, surrounding yourself with smart, hard working people is the ultimate productivity hack to me. In college, the quality of my work changed drastically depending on whether I sat at the front of the class with the math nerds or at the back of the class with the anime nerds. I realized that while I can be self-driven when it comes to things that really matter to me, a lot of the time I will follow the general tendencies of whatever group I am in. I suspect this is why all the smart, talented people in the industry are friends in some capacity - because they recognize how tremendously powerful it is to be in an environment where the average is very, very high. This leads to situations where you have companies who seem to be always in the spotlight, always have the best people, etc. (i.e. Valve, Oculus, iD Software, to stay in the gaming register that the article has), and then the other 99%.

If you feel like your workplace isn't encouraging you to be the best you can be on that front, that's an extremely compelling reason to find another place.

2
ebiester 11 hours ago 0 replies      
When I hear people saying, "I can do what takes someone else a day to do..." they're not thinking that their coworker is also doing it in an hour or two, and wasting the rest of the day. So everyone thinks they're more productive than the next person.

And I'll look at that code and go, "You have no tests. You didn't think about these three things. There are two bugs waiting to happen. This code is messy and is going to be hard to change later. It took you two hours because you didn't do the other six hours of work required to get it really done."

This is why I believe pair programming ends up not being a waste. Perhaps for the most disciplined programmers, they can go 8 hours without stopping, but most people don't.

It's much harder to slack when you're pairing. However, it's also much slower when you pair because you keep thinking of things to check, you write more test code, you write more robust code because two people are trying to attack it rather than one.

3
svantana 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Good post, I just have a little problem with one advice: the "keep at it until you finish it" part. A lot of times, I set my mind to finishing something before goind home. It often ends up with me scratching my head until midnight, going to bed frustrated, and waking up with an obvious solution in my head. That's where I feel Rich Hickey's Hammock-driven development is a better way of thinking about productivity.
4
thinkersilver 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Being productive is pure execution of an implementation or an idea. Anything else like planning, thinking through your problem is not deliverable or visible in the final output. Yet these things are necessary. Deciding when and how much to plan and think about your problem becomes a strategic decision. You want to spend the minimum effort required for the most effective solution within your time frame.

I'm almost certain that I have an undiagnosed ADHD, but living in London it is something that is not recognized. Whether this condition exists or not, my attention span is well below that of my peers at work. This lead me to actually find out what the optimal period of time I can concentrate doing something without my mind wandering. I took a timer and over a period of a week I experimented with blocks of time, starting from 25 minutes , I gradually reduced the block by 5 minutes until I found that sweet spot. I expected it'd be about 15 minutes, but to my dismay it was only 5. WTH!

I accepted the results and started each task with the expectation that any task I complete should finish in less than 5 minutes. If it doesn't then I'm either being inefficient because I'm

1) disorganised - spending time looking for artefacts required to do the piece of work2) unskilled - spending most of that 5 minutes not executing but thinking about how to do it.

At the end of the box of time. I'd document what category my inability to complete the task fell into and then I'd note it somewhere so that at the end of the day I could either spend time getting that area more organized, looking for opportunity for automation or learning so that I become a bit more skilled. Dealing with my disarray and unskilledness at the end of the day helped me work smarter. Intraday, I'd not have the time to do this, this is where the grind comes in, where you plough through a piece of work knowing that it might not be the best way of doing it but you need get it out the door. The time management system is unnaturally granular. You can quickly put a stop to an unproductive avenues. This has gradually made me a more organized and skilled programmer over the last 3 months. More importantly more productive. It's also given me detailed metrics on my productivity. I can measure my level of distraction, unpreparedness and so on. The odd effect of all of this is that I can work much longer hours without moving from my seat ( I do force myself to get up for breaks)

All this is possible because of where technology is now, without it the process is far too granular and unwieldly to be practical.

From my experience I agree with what the author said in points 7,8. This is vital.

* Haven't an objective productivity metric - how do you measure your productivity. * Accept that the grind part of the job

I think everything else can either fall into the categorys of managing procrastination, motivation and being a bit more organized which can vary widely depending on individual.

5
mantrax 15 hours ago 6 replies      
This guy is very right. I wrote myself a simple time tracker (I tried a bunch of other ones, but I was unhappy), to track my daily activities. Like John Carmack, I'd turn the timer off any second I'm not spending doing real work, even if I go to the bathroom.

I found out that during a "8-10 hours workday" I'm actually working, as in coding, getting shit done - maybe for about 2, tops 3 hours...

That's not just an interesting observation, I was FUCKING HORRIFIED. I'm pissing my limited lifetime away!

The first step is awareness. Always. Then comes improvement. I kept tracking myself, now being very aware of what interrupts my work, and limiting my distractions. I have yet to claim 8-10 hours of solid work in a day, but it's getting better.

6
gwu78 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Everytime I have to read one of these "blogspot" blogs, I find myself rewriting my "one-off" solution again so I can read the blogger blog posts without Javascript.

For the 1 or 2 people out there reading who like to use a text-based browser and find gratuitous Javascript annoying, I have pastedthis solution for you below.

Note: Some blogspot blogs do not have feeds enabled and will give a 404. Some of these appear not to require Javascript; in that case, this script becomes unneccessary.

  # fetch a blogger.com blog ...  # without the gratuitous javascript  # usage:   # nameofthisfile nameofblog > htmlfile  # yourfavoritebrowser htmlfile  # requirements:  # netcat  # openssl  # sed  # optional: strings  # optional: addcr  type strings 2>&1 >&- ||  strings(){ sed ;}  type addcr 2>&1 >&- ||  addcr(){ sed ;}  case $1 in  0) # get HTML  case $# in  2)  shift  {  printf "GET / HTTP/1.0\r\n";   printf "Host: $1.blogspot.com\r\n";  printf "Connection: Close\r\n";  printf "\r\n";  } \  |nc -vv www.blogger.com 80  ;;  *)  echo usage: $0 $1 nameofblog  esac  ;;  1) # filter for BlogID  sed '  s/\\046/\&/g;  s/\\46/\&/g;  s/\\075/=/g;  s/\\75/=/g;  /targetBlogID/!d;  s/.*targetBlogID=//;  s/&.*//;  ' |sed 1q  ;;  2) # convert BlogID to HTTP  while read a  do  {  printf "%b" "GET /feeds/$a/posts/default HTTP/1.1\r\n";   printf "Host: www.blogger.com\r\n";  printf "Connection: Close\r\n";  printf "\r\n";  }   done  ;;  3) # s_client www.blogger.com    openssl s_client -ign_eof -connect \  www.blogger.com:443 -verify 9 \  |addcr  ;;  4) # filter for reading  {  echo  sed '  s/&lt;/</g;  s/&gt;/>/g;  s/&amp;/\&/g;  s/&quot;/\"/g;  1i\  <br><br>  s/<name>/<br><br>name &/g;  s/<uri>/<br>uri &/g;  s/<generator>/<br>generator &/g;  s/Blogger//;  s/<id>/<br>id &/g;  s/<published>/<br>published &/g;  s/<email>/<br>email &/g;  s/<title type=.text.>/<br><br>&/g;  s/<openSearch:totalResults>/<br>total results &/g;  s/<openSearch:startIndex>/<br>start index &/g;  s/<openSearch:itemsPerPage>/<br>items per page &/g;  s/<updated>/<br>updated &/g;  s/<thr:total>/<br>thr:total &/g;  s/<\/feed>/&<br><br><br>/;  s/^M*/<br>/;  '  \  |strings  }  ;;  5) # all of the above  case $# in  2)  shift  $0 0 $1 \  |$0 1 \  |$0 2 \  |$0 3 \  |$0 4  ;;  *)   echo usage $0 $1 nameofblog  esac  ;;  *)  a=$(type $0|sed 's/.* //')  sed '/[)] *#/!d' $a  esac

7
tylermauthe 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe I've seen this article posted before, possibly on HN. In any case, I re-read it today and all the lessons in it are applicable to me - yet again. Though I've made improvements in many areas, I have also fallen deeper into some of these pitfalls.

I was once obsessed with productivity, and for me it came down to an attitude of 'just do it'. This was filtered out into various micro-level attitudes and behaviours, many of which are discussed in this article... However, I now realize that going back to University sapped me of all this yet again: I was in the world where smart guys reign supreme. This is the reason why the smart guy pitfalls exist at all: there are artificial worlds where we can somehow glide by just by being smart.

The real world is real, and it takes real work to stay on top of your shit.

Some things I used to do that I will start doing much more again:

  - Write everything down  - Make todo lists  - Try to actually measure productivity (http://www.rescuetime.com)  - Be realistic and conservative with estimates of how long things can take.    --Not really knowing how long something will take should be scary.    --Do a quantifiable percent of a task, time it, extrapolate.  - Stop borrowing time (and money).

8
LordHumungous 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think I'm a pretty hard worker, I definitely feel the need to be productive, but every few weeks or so I have a moment where I say to myself, "You know, its just a friggin computer program, who cares?" And then for a day or two I coast a little bit, and try to get away from my laptop as much as possible. I guess this means I'll never be as good as John Carmack. Oh well, its worth it for me if I get to slow down and enjoy life every once in a while.
9
db42 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If anybody wants to try this approach to track productive time, I have built a chrome extension exactly for this purpose (couldn't find any tool doing this) - https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/track-your-product...

You should definitely check it out.

10
joemaller1 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> my generation of programmers who were raised with the vile "work smart, not hard" mantra, coupled with the sense that we were somehow significantly brighter than most of our peers.

Spot on. Been digging out of that hole for decades.

11
ixmatus 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely one of the better articles I've read on productivity that can be applied in many more areas than just programming.

I've found my own sense of entitlement and superiority inflated then promptly deflated by smarter and more productive people; I think the hardest and most important part of the experience though (that the author touched on) is to move through the feelings of depression or unworthiness when you are deflated into an appreciation for what you can become and allow those people to inspire you to something better.

I've accepted that I'm not a bad ass and I'm hyper aware now of what I want to improve upon in knowledge, craft, and self-efficacy (focusing and applying myself).

22
Project Manager asks for complete 100% confidence every time committing code stackexchange.com
31 points by emrgx  3 hours ago   22 comments top 13
1
columbo 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't think this can be solved with book recommendations or one-liners. I bet the PM already knows it's unreasonable to ask for 100% quality. The person in question probably comes from the mindset that setting an unachievable bar forces quality; like the line manager that screams when there's a speck of dirt on the floor after a shift.

If you must continue to work with this person then you need to play by their rules. Create a manual test suite that takes about 2 hours to complete. Every time a new issue is found tell the manager that you'll add X tests and increase your test suite. Eventually you'll have a test suite that takes longer to run than the bug fixes. If the manager doesn't like the drop in performance ask them which tests you should pull out.

Unit tests are arbitrary magic to non-developers whereas tests written down on paper are tangible. They can see the document grow in size and they'll start to see their name appear on the document (Added 25 more tests by direction of Joe Manager). Managers can hide from unit tests, they can accuse you of not writing enough unit tests, it's harder for them to hide from physical tests.

It's not fun. Really I'd say find a new job.

2
fiatmoney 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I would tell him that this can be achieved, roughly, as long as you follow a process like this one:

http://www.fastcompany.com/28121/they-write-right-stuff

Now, the question becomes if they can afford the headcount & time in order to implement such a process. Unless they are actually coding up avionics, defense systems, etc. the answer is probably "no".

3
thejerz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't walk. Run.
4
ChristianMarks 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When I hear from a manager that I must be absolutely certain that some complex system utterly beyond my control must work without the possibility of error, I leave. (I have done this.) Life is too short to spend it working with manipulative turds, let alone smug imbeciles with no comprehension of computational complexity, recusive unsolvability, probability, the problem of knowledge, the philosophy of science, and on and on. I hate to sound so negative, but surrounding yourself with individuals capable of this kind of psychological torture when the subject of software guarantees is a research industry with an extensive literature going back at least to the Mythical Man Month is bad for your health. I find it deeply offensive that one has to respond respectfully and professionally to outrageous demands as if they were reasonable.
5
jey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Sure, it'll just take me infinitely long to reach 100% confidence."
6
balloot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an unbelievably stupid request.

Nobody writes bug-free code - people in the comments on SE talking about how this can be done with automated testing are utterly delusional. All developers, no matter how talented and/or cautious, create bugs from time to time.

So if you are to say you have 100% confidence in your code, you are either:

1) The first developer ever to write all bug-free code, all the time (hint: you aren't)

2) Willingly overlooking the fact that no matter how hard you try or how confident you are in your code, you will introduce bugs every so often.

Neither of those is an even remotely reasonable stance to take. This project manager is a total moron.

7
im3w1l 2 hours ago 0 replies      
So I think of this and then I think of

'THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.'

Could the poster be up for some nasty legal surprise?

8
chris_wot 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Just say yes (assuming you have done tests!) and have confidence in your changes. If it breaks something, put in some more tests to make sure it doesn't happen again, or find the bug unveiled by your fix, then correct this!

I should note that this is legally unenforceable. Bad place to work, but if it ever came to court, you just cite the halting problem to show that you cannot say in all cases that a problem won't be halted. What is being asked in impossible, so unenforceable.

9
kordless 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Typical cognitive dissonance playout. Know you aren't perfect, don't want to say you aren't perfect because you care more about what someone else thinks. Post on the Internet asking how to resolve dissonance. Get a bunch of answer saying find a new job. Continue to try to downplay your fears. Rinse and repeat.

Frankly, what this guy needs to do is to stop being afraid of what others think. Especially others who are clearly exploiting the guy's tendency to cater to others feelings. That may or may not involve finding a new job and/or boss, but if he doesn't fix himself, he'll just repeat it all over again.

I'm making blaming statements here, but I'm tired of narcissists fucking things up for the rest of us.

10
jv22222 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wrote a blog post about clients like this a while back - http://justinvincent.com/page/302/bugs-vs-mistakes-warranted... - I've found that educating the client about QA helps in these situations.
11
harrystone 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Like has already been said, the right answer is to find a new job. That behavior is not the mark of a perfectionist, that's just someone who isn't cut out to be a manager. And they likely know it, too.

Also, just like columbo said, the next best answer to dealing with a micro-manager is to bury them in status reports, requests for approval on everything short of putting more paper in the printer, and as many emails every day as you can possibly justify. You're not ever going to convince them to stop micro managing, just try to give them what they think they want. They'll usually leave you alone after that. I don't know if it makes them face their own incompetence or what.

12
nl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's on jobs like this where you charge by the hour...
13
fleitz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There's two situations here:

You're being paid to write aviation quality code and the manager is incompetent about how to go about achieving that quality, or the manager is incompetent.

Also, just parse the requirements, she's asking for confidence that it won't break any features, not that the commit won't actually break any features.

Just be more confident.

Seriously though, find a new job.

23
Show HN: Sproute getsproute.com
17 points by louisstow  7 hours ago   10 comments top 5
1
coherentpony 2 hours ago 1 reply      

    Free forever
How do they define 'forever'? Google Fiber defines 'forever' to be seven years.

3
ehaughee 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I keep getting "Username and password mismatch" when I try to hit my space's dashboard. I've reset the password twice so I know I'm typing the right password. Any ideas? Looks like a cool app and I'd like to try it out.
4
jaxomlotus 5 hours ago 1 reply      
A FAQ and about page would be extremely useful here. What is it? What are it's limitations? Who are you building this for? What happens if sproute goes out of business?

I'm sure this can be gleaned from an in-depth read through the docs and API, but it would be useful to know this info at a glance of your site.

5
alaskamiller 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Should change the name. http://sproutcore.com/
24
Twitter Pays $36 Million to Avoid IBM Patent Suit wired.com
76 points by svenkatesh  15 hours ago   60 comments top 12
1
WildUtah 9 hours ago 1 reply      
First, Twitter didn't pay off IBM for trolling here. They outright bought a set of patents in the hope that Twitter's own new portfolio would be enough to discourage other companies from suing Twitter in the future.

Defensive portfolios of garbage patents used to be the key to preventing competitors from suing you with their garbage patents. After the eBay v. MercExchange [0] case in 2006, it's not as dangerous to be sued but defensive portfolios are now much less useful also because you can't threaten to shut down aggressors' businesses with injunctions. The Apple v. Samsung and Microsoft v. Motorola cases also recently demonstrated that vague garbage patents are much more useful in court than technological patents. Juries and judges understand them better and are inclined to award hundreds of times more damages.

Second, IBM is the least awful kind of patent troll. They generally ask for small fractions of revenue or investment in companies that have established themselves. The IPO phase is a favorite time for them to ask for a few million from growing companies. The worst kind of trolls -- such as Microsoft's Intellectual Ventures -- ask for much more money from companies and often go after startups. IBM exercises restraint with the idea that they might have an ongoing relationship with companies someday in some other context.

And IBM, unlike most trolls, actually does real research. Most of the new ideas in Google Search were first published in an IBM research paper that Larry and Sergei read. IBM didn't patent those ideas, though; they mostly seem to accumulate scattershot patents at random. I think IBM's primary goal is to top the list of prolific grantees every year.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EBay_Inc._v._MercExchange,_L.L.....

2
bluedevil2k 9 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a lot of guessing and conjecture about how IBM deals with patents, so I thought I'd write a new parent thread to discuss.

I worked at IBM for 7 years, leaving many years ago. I am an IBM Master Inventor, having 36 patents filed with the USPTO with my name on them (some are still winding their way through the system). I worked heavily on patents for 3 years, and the last 2 years I was there, I was on the Patent Review Board. I'd also estimate during my active time with patents, I submitted 250-300 patent ideas to the board.

The Patent Review Board is organized along technologies - so, mobile would have its own Patent Review Board. People on the Patent Review Board tend to be Master Inventors and others who are active in the patent process. Once a week, about 3-4 hours of presentations are made to the Board (which includes the patent lawyers as well). After a 5-10 minute presentation, they are asked to leave the room, and the Board votes whether it should continue to the lawyer, or whether to close it. Most obviously are closed at this step with prior art. If it's voted to go to the lawyers, in my background, there was a pretty good chance it was going to get filed.

If your patent got filed with the USPTO, you got a point. IBM is very generous with their patent bonuses. You get $750 per patent filed. You also get an additional $1500 on your first patent filing, and $1500 every 3 after that. So, effectively, about $1000 per patent.

Patent ideas could be anything and everything. If they could patent it, they would. I remember from my time on the board seeing ideas on everything from dog doors to server optimization techniques to music devices. Given the people who work at IBM, most tended to be tech related, but it definitely was not a requirement at all.

The stuff people have asked about royalties makes me laugh as well - I never got the feeling once they cared if your patent would make them $1B or $1. And they certainly didn't care about compensating us for an idea that could make $1B. I was awarded the Software Group Patent of the Year one year, and other than an email denoting that fact, nothing was different than some of the lame ones I had filed.

Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the patent process at IBM - it was one of the few outlets that rewarded creativity and hard work at the company.

3
guelo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The bullshit patents that IBM threatened to sue Twitter over were for url shortening [1], inline user-customized advertising[2], and diff-ing contact lists[3].

[1] http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=H...[2] http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=H...[3] http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=H...

4
teddyh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"OK," [IBM] said, [to Sun in the 1980s] "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"

After a modest bit of negotiation, Sun cut IBM a check, and the blue suits went to the next company on their hit list.

Patently Absurd, Forbes, 2002: http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/0624/044.html

5
raverbashing 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Ah good old IBM

Yeah, 36Mi is not a lot to Twitter, but it's more fuel to the extortion racket

Another reason to buy nothing from this company

6
rhizome 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is how companies become members of the exclusive club known as "entrenched interests."

It would be interesting for a company to take an alternative route and threaten to go out of business, or, say, publicly announce that they can't implement certain features, because it would require them to purchase their freedom to do so. [Insert your own slavery metaphor here]

However, now Twitter will have to say that their position on a given technical controversy is "complicated" and "nuanced" and imply that we rabble just don't understand the real world of business.

7
us0r 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Not sure Twitter had a choice here. IBM is the largest recipient of patents.

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

8
mrschwabe 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting how the playing field changes when you reach a critical mass.

Reforming patent law could be part of the solution against this type of thing, but the bigger problem may actually just be that IBM is run by assholes.

9
yeukhon 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Two questions:

1. If a developer co-own a patent with his former employer (IBM), does this developer have the right to use his patent technology later at Google? I don't know how IBM handles patents with his or her employees.

2. Developer does not own any patent but being the person who invented the technology does he have the right to invent a similar technology like his earlier invention at Google? People carry knowledge with them!

Regarding #2, since I really have zero idea how companies handle patent (except patent filing process), I think maybe patents have something to do in this deal (http://www.theverge.com/2013/1/23/3906310/the-no-hire-paper-...). Maybe, maybe 1%.

10
antonius 14 hours ago 0 replies      
" According to the SEC document, Twitter now owns 956 patents up from just nine before it filed its IPO in November."

Twitter's been busy buying up patents with its' IPO capital by the looks of it.

11
briantakita 5 hours ago 0 replies      
According to patents, innovation is property that you must pay the "innovator" to use. The innovator is someone who bought the property of the innovation.

In most peoples' worlds, innovation describes the act to innovate. An act is not someone's property.

12
devx 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Thanks for making the world a worse place, Twitter, by giving in to the patent bullies, and setting an example for others. It's sort of "understandable" for small start-ups who would be ruined by the trial alone, but for companies that have billions of dollars in their coffers to do this is just plain pathetic and cowardly. Instead of fighting the problem, they become part of it and accomplices to it.

This also completely devalues the credibility of their IPA [1] patent thing. If Twitter gave in, why would everyone else who might've been interested in the whole IPA thing not do the same, too?

[1] - https://blog.twitter.com/2012/introducing-innovators-patent-...

25
The Self(ie) Generation nytimes.com
14 points by uladzislau  6 hours ago   24 comments top 6
1
interstitial 3 hours ago 7 replies      
As the Millennials gather in self-pity on HN. I just throw in I try to avoid hiring Millenials at all cost. They are so full of self-worth, they have nothing to prove - ever. Will bail when any project gets tough, believe they are entitled to all privileges earned after 30 minutes on a job. Worse, you might have to talk to their parents on the phone about their poor job review.
2
ketralnis 5 hours ago 3 replies      
The Times and friends seem to write a whole lot of "kids these days" articles about the so-called Millennials. Usually about how self-centred or lazy or entitled they are but sometimes as lazy as "they use the internet more" and "they take a lot of selfies and make so many twitters".

Does every generation do this about its youngers? I've only lived through a few "named" generations but I feel like I didn't see nearly this much judgemental coverage about other ones. I know every generation thinks that they're the best and the others are all just old fogeys or youngin twerps but most editoral outlets don't seem to cover much else lately.

3
nl 3 hours ago 1 reply      
"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers."

-- Socrates

4
zacinbusiness 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Generalizations are annoying. Not sure which "gen" I am (was born in mid 80's) I have dealt with it from family quite a bit and so has my wife. Saying we stayed in school rather than get "real jobs" (we each have masters degrees and she's a full time professor and I work as a full time business consultant). And that we don't understand "hard work" (she easily works 80 hours a week counting time in and out of the classroom and meetings and I regularly work until dawn). It's understandable as that's just sort of how people react to young people, but it is tiring.
5
mattholtom 3 hours ago 0 replies      
He noticed that "self" is the root of "selfie"... Deep insight here folks.
6
bridger 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"...numbers that are at or near the highest levels of political and religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation in the last quarter-century." Seriously. How many generations are in a 25-year span?
26
F8 Developer Conference fbf8.com
21 points by peter123  8 hours ago   14 comments top 4
1
cmelbye 8 hours ago 7 replies      
What the fuck, 115% CPU usage? https://www.dropbox.com/s/iyt8wxqxp6nvfgh/Screenshot%202014-...

Can we stop making useless HTML5 animations that cause computer fans to turn on?

2
owenwil 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow - this is the first time in three years since the last event.

Also, the geometric backgrounds on this site are beautiful. Would love to know how they implemented those!

3
dzink 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The announcements that came out at F8 three years ago were pretty big. I thought they didn't do another one because they had nothing else to promote to developers. Wondering what's cooking this time.
4
dethtron5000 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Six weeks lead-time is not a lot for a presumably major conference like that. If you have a tight travel budget and have to scramble, having that short a lead time may exclude you.
27
How the Mig-31 repelled the SR-71 Blackbird from Soviet skies theaviationist.com
76 points by amitkumar01  13 hours ago   34 comments top 9
1
cstross 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Besides the MiG-31 and the JAS-37 Viggen, there are persistent stories about the gun camera footage from a Royal Air Force English Electric Lightning that bounced the SR-71 that set the trans-Atlantic speed record on its way into the Farnborough Air Show in 1974. (The RAF knew its flight plan in advance, so they sent a particularly "hot" Lightning F.3 out over the Atlantic: it tanked up, climbed on a ballistic trajectory, and bounced the SR-71 from above and behind. Much sniggering allegedly ensued, behind closed doors.)

The Lightning was a world speed record holder in its day, and had a ridiculous climb rate and service ceiling -- the RAF admitted to "over 60,000 feet" in the 1960s: they made intercepts on U-2s on a regular basis, and are confirmed to have hit 88,000 feet on ballistic profiles:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Electric_Lightning#Clim...

(It's only with the introduction of the Eurofighter Typhoon II into service that the RAF has fielded another aircraft with the high speed performance of the Lightning, after a gap of more than 20 years.)

2
rektide 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
A Mig-25 (fielded 1964) was allegedly clocked on radar over Israel in 1973 doing Mach 3.2.

How long it took to figure out that the thing's afterburners were stuck in the full-on position, how long it took to realize it wasn't equipped with adequate targeting or missiles- unknown. While the Mig-31 (1981) was indeed engineered to make a real stand, and this article talks to that, I don't think this article builds a case for or against anyone having any real idea whether the SR-71 (1966) was vulnerable to the Mig-25 or not. If the question is "what repelled the SR71," the question isn't the technical merits of the Mig-31, it's the question of what was known v.s. unknown about what when.

The question of the Mig-25's capabilities were answered more clearly after Viktor Belenko defected with one in 1976. It was not a threat. How long it took to figure that out, and American confidence that Viktor's Mig-25 was as good as any other they'd likely see, remain unknown factors. The Mig-31 (1981) wasn't really much faster, leading to the carefully coordinated chase described in the article, but it at least had an electronics suite, radar, communications link, and armaments capable of making it's threat visibly apparent.

Certainly the Zaslon phased-array radar is impressive and the R-33 missile specs give it the on paper capabilities to hit a SR-71. Yet the article's talks of only two events where an interception occurred, one undated, the second in 1986, after the first major upgrade to the Zaslon radar and the whole time using the very first Soviet in flight digital computer, acquiring targets for a 1970's designed missile the R-33 (fielded 1981).

3
varjag 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The article is a bit misleading, as no Blackbirds ever flew over Soviet mainland, as far as Soviet air defense and U.S. Congress concerned.
4
iveqy 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The Swedish Viggen locked on the Blackbird several times...http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-659...
5
kevinastone 12 hours ago 1 reply      
TLDR: By the 1980s, they had missiles fast enough to shoot one down.
6
Tomis02 9 hours ago 0 replies      
20 years is a long time.
7
zokier 12 hours ago 3 replies      
What's with the recent uptick of military aircraft stories? Not that I have anything against them, but seems just bit curious.
8
kbelbina 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Aviation week on HN continues in full swing.
9
31reasons 8 hours ago 2 replies      
HN Turning into Aircraft News ? #SaveHN
28
IFT 725 Introduction to Neural Networks usherbrooke.ca
32 points by madisonmay  10 hours ago   3 comments top 2
1
madisonmay 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The site is in French, but the lectures are in English. It's much more mathematically rigorous than Hinton's Neural Networks course on Coursera, and oddly enough that seems to make the material easier to follow and comprehend. It's definitely worth giving it a look.

A translation of the home page is available at http://goo.gl/DyWw9G

2
gtani 7 hours ago 1 reply      
here's a couple draft DL books, Bengio's only has 4 chapters in the directory but looks promising and very readable.

http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~bengioy/DLbook/

http://research.microsoft.com/pubs/209355/NOW-Book-Revised-F...

29
Chromecast URL Player foamsnet.com
68 points by lgp171188  16 hours ago   45 comments top 12
1
CSDude 15 hours ago 7 replies      
Sorry for the plug, but if anyone is interested, I made a local video player on Chromecast, which transcodes the videos on the fly. https://github.com/mustafaakin/cast-localvideo So anything that ffmpeg can convert can be played on Chromecast, not only .mp4 and .webm video.
2
crazygringo 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome! I literally had put on my calendar, after the SDK came out, that if after two months nobody had made a dead-simple player like this, I'd do it myself. Glad I didn't have to. ;)

Suggestion for a next step: wrap it inside an OSX .app or Windows .exe that also launches a local webserver on some random port, so you can stream local media to your Chromecast as well. (I mean, for us developers it's easy enough to set up an instance of Apache, but this would let my grandma use it too.)

Edit: question: does anyone know if it's technically possible to cast a video to Chromecast, but leave the audio playing on my local computer? (Necessarily involving some kind of audio delay.)

3
parterburn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This already exists at https://dabble.me/cast. It was something I threw together just hours after the SDK was released. Mashable picked it up, too: http://mashable.com/2014/02/05/vidcast-chromecast-app/
4
caio1982 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I was going to say that I'd love to use all these neat Chromecast tricks but I can't because of its (native) poor support for external subtitles but then I got really afraid of saying so as disagreements about popular techs in HN usually result in downvoting. Offtopic: is it just me who feel like that and often avoid commenting?
5
blinkingled 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat! I was looking for something like this. I had to use tab casting for some videos like Twit Live which is prone to struggling on low power CPUs and goes down if the laptop sleeps. This allows me to directly send the HLS stream URLs to the Chromecast with no CPU usage on the local machine.

Edit: The sleep part is still a problem. But at least it doesn't eat laptop CPU I guess.

6
supercanuck 11 hours ago 2 replies      
OT: How do hackers on here stream 1080P mp4's to a Chomecast without choppiness and lag?
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delive 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Question - is it possible to have Chromecast play urls directly to flash files? For example youtube gives out embedded links such as "www.youtube.com/embed/26UvdxUII-0". I realize that isn't a .swf file url, but it works in my browser. Since youtube already has an app that plays to chromecast.. I'm more thinking of random flash players on websites.
8
StavrosK 16 hours ago 3 replies      
This is exactly what I needed, thanks! Does it stream the video directly, or is there transcoding? I might even be able to stream videos from my home server (which has an HTTP interface) directly!
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matbee 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Has nobody heard of Videostream?! It plays it with perfect quality without transcoding right as a Chrome App.http://www.streamchromecast.com
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aashishkoirala 15 hours ago 4 replies      
How is this different from opening the URL in Chrome and casting from it?
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dhruvtv 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Does Chromecast support mkv? If not, why?
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fat0wl 16 hours ago 1 reply      
wasn't something like this made in the early days of chromecast & they either shut it down or it broke due to a firmware update? i think it was to stream video content from your personal network to chromecast

hm...... i've been assuming that even tho there's an SDK it is still a turf war. if it's actually open to open source development... woah. many possibilities...

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LHC Physics Center bans Powerpoint, switches to whiteboard-only forums symmetrymagazine.org
294 points by indus  1 day ago   156 comments top 25
1
Arjuna 1 day ago 4 replies      
Here is a perfect example: John Carmack does a great job of rocking the white-board in this wonderful presentation. He starts out with a tablet, and uses that to track his discussion points, then hits a deep-dive on the white-board at approximately 00:18:45.

I find this style absolutely engaging. Presentation software like PowerPoint has its place, but can make it all-too-easy to move through material too quickly. On the other hand, actually drawing and writing things out while discussing the topic slows things down a bit, allowing the audience to engage and understand the topic at a more learning-friendly pace. I personally find this "show me don't tell me" style of white-board presentation refreshing and conducive to my understanding of the topic.

The Physics of Light and Rendering

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG4QuTe8aUw

2
deckiedan 1 day ago 3 replies      
Phew. Finally the reign of powerpoint begins to fade.

If non-technical speakers spent less time faffing around before the session making awful looking powerpoints, and more time learning how to speak engagingly, the world would be a much better place.

This said as an Audio/Visual Operator who has spent hundreds of hours at a sound-desk watching technically inept speakers fail to impress - no matter how flashy the animations.

The worse thing over the last few years is 'Prezi'. It's a powerpoint alternative which ostensibly makes it easier to make awesome looking graphics.

The 2 problems with it are that it's a hell of a lot harder to actually present on a second screen, so you end up having to drag windows around, and that speakers are still under the impression that because you have swooshes and zooms and text folding inside other text, suddenly it's more likely for people to find the presentation content interesting.

The trouble with BAD technology, is how do you fight it? The normal way is by competition - making better tech. But when the concept itself is wrong, but somehow culturely accepted...? Any ideas?

3
GuiA 1 day ago 0 replies      
On the topic, I love Tufte's "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint": http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/powerpoint
4
yeukhon 1 day ago 2 replies      
I can see why scientists like whiteboard. In the old days, if you watch old clips from the 30s, 40s you would see scientists talking to their fellow peer with chalk and cardboard. They could start by saying "okay so we know this gas law from 1800s and then we saw this new behavior and we started investigating blah blah and then we came up with this new equation and here is the proof blah blah." That was the old days. Whiteboard worked fine.

But was it fine? If you are delivering to five people, probably. What about 10, 20, 30, 100, 300?

These are the things to consider when giving a presentation:

1. your target audience

2. time constraint

3. technology and tools available

4. scope of your presentation (is this a lecture, a short 15-minute progress report, or a workshop)

Without slides, the participants go further off-script, with more interaction and curiosity, says Andrew Askew, an assistant professor of physics at Florida State University and a co-organizer of the forum. We wanted to draw out the importance of the audience.

You see, if you are giving a two-hour workshop to a small group of scientists which everyone knows each other, the discussion can become interesting. But if you are giving a 30-minute workshop, a 30-minute talk to a larger group of people, whiteboard-free-style presentation breaks down.

The main problem is that only a handful of people will fully comprehend what the speaker is up to regardless of which method. Some people are slower at picking up new ideas. It could be experience, language barrier (and sometimes it's the speaker's accent) or misunderstanding. People fear of asking dumb questions in front of a large group of experts so in the end it's just an interaction of the speaker with a handful of experts. The rest will just nod and follow on.

Neither powerpoint nor whiteboard could solve the main problem entirely. But with powerpoint, one could traverse back and forth and audience does not have to suffer illegible handwriting (and in large group people could be sitting in the far back). This is something whiteboard-only discussion can't.

So if they run a small group discussion, chalkboard is fine. But if they run a large group discussion, I argue start with slides and supplement with whiteboard. Slides should be there to deliver textual information, graphical information which are hard to explain or to follow on a whiteboard.

5
ColinWright 1 day ago 2 replies      
Just as the determined Real Programmer can write FORTRAN programs in any language[0], the truly inept presenter can produce bad talks with any tools.

[0] http://www.ee.ryerson.ca/~elf/hack/realmen.html - see [1] for context.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Programmers_Don%27t_Use_Pa... - see [2] for an alternative viewpoint.

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_Mel

6
killerdhmo 1 day ago 2 replies      
PowerPoint isn't the enemy. Poor use of PowerPoint is the problem. Bad presenters is the problem. People switching over to white boards won't make them better presenters, now they'll be communicating poorly in a messy unshareable medium.

The solution isn't no PowerPoint. The solution is teach people how to communicate. How to present to both technical and nontechnical audience. How to write an executive summary / elevator pitch.

7
baby 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't understand this. Most of my teachers use blackboards and it's really annoying to follow a presentation like that, you have to wait for the person to write, you have no slides later on to support your notes, and since you have no slides online you have to write everything they write, so you can't even listen properly to the talk.

And some stuff are just clearer on slides... I don't really see a lot of benefits in whiteboard-only lectures. Combination of whiteboard and slides are best.

I can still think of some great people who don't use slides but it's rare and a few people do it well (Gilbert Strang comes to my mind[1]).

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK3O402wf1c

8
captainmuon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
As a particle physicist, I wholeheartedly welcome this. Our meetings, of which we tend to have 4-5 a week, are usually Powerpoint* orgies. Because of the intensly dense slides, its often hard to follow, and people don't listen to the reader but read the slides. Even worse, they think "I'll read the slides later" and work on their laptops in meetings. It's not rare to see 2/3 of a meeting work like sheep on their laptops (especially in larger meetings and talks), and only a small fraction is actually doing something talk related like viewing the slides, or doing actually urgent work. As a consequence, we have banned the use of laptops during talks in our group. What is completely normal everywhere else was a small sensation in our group, but I think everybody agreed that it is better now.

We can't realistically ban Powerpoint, since as experimentalists we have to discuss lots of graphics and plots. What we did try once was to use our lab books instead. Every (PhD, Masters) student would write a summary of their week's progress in their lab books, including printed out plots, and we would project it with one of these old-fashioned book-projectors. It was nice because you could also go back and look at the details in the lab book, and it would give you an incentive to keep your books correctly. Unfortunately, it became unpractical as our group grew, and also because we have a lot of collaborators from other groups who are connected via video.

----

* Or Libreoffice, Keynote or Latex Beamer

9
lqdc13 1 day ago 2 replies      
I prefer Powerpoint over white/blackboard because:

1. People make mistakes on the whiteboard

2. You can't save it and review later

3. Even if you write everything down, it would still be less information than what someone could add in the Powerpoint

4. Powerpoint is much more legible

5. It is easier to go at your own pace during and after the presentation if someone is using a Powerpoint. If someone is using a white/blackboard they are going to erase the last part very quickly after they finished writing it down.

10
coherentpony 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is dumb; my handwriting sucks. I'd hate to give a hand-written talk.
11
Tomis02 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting fact - the usage Powerpoint-like presentations was one of the communication weaknesses that led to the Columbia shuttle disaster. A very good read about that here - http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0...

More here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_shuttle_disaster

12
mastermojo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've heard that writing equations on a whiteboard paces the talk and give the audience time to digest. With a slideshow most presenters will go at a pace comfortable for them, but that typically ends up being too fast for the audience.
13
ThePhysicist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now that's a great experiment! I think the use of Powerpoint is useful and mandated under certain circumstances (e.g. if you want to show experimental data), but when discussing a concept with your peers, working on a whiteboard is better for various reasons:

1. It forces you to think more about what you want to say and how you're going to write it down beforehand.

2. It sets a uniform pace for your presentation (writing stuff down is harder than advancing slides)

3. It lets your audience follow the train of thought that lead you to the results your presenting and allows your content to unfold before their eyes.

4. It invites participation and allows for easy modification and adaption of your content during your presentation (try that with Powerpoint).

That said, structuring a good whiteboard talk/presentation is hard work too and I've seen many people (including professors) fail at it.

14
devindotcom 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to be a naysayer, but it's not like the entire LHC international organization banned Powerpoint. This is one forum at one arm of one project at the LHC.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great, but this is quite a small group we're talking about. I guess this is what the meetings look like:

http://i.imgur.com/kNJOySY.jpg

15
wehadfun 1 day ago 1 reply      
Banning powerpoint is a stupid reaction to some anti-powerpoint movement. Professors trapped in a college system that does not reward actual teaching is the problem. The powerpoints are just a symptom
16
mnl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Good for them, but the truth is that every analysis group at CERN uses Beamer, Keynote or even Powerpoint for the almost everyday meetings via pdfs submitted to Indico (coupled with Vidyo). There's no reasonable alternative. Another completely different scenario are lectures or theoretical talks, there it never made much sense/it's a waste of time.
17
aaronetz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the Anti-PowerPoint Party[1] (which was linked to on HN at some point). I would also like to say that I personally find whiteboard presentation much easier to follow. I taught a little bit too, but used slides, because it was easier. Maybe banning computer slides isn't such a bad idea...

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-PowerPoint_Party

18
neurobro 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would hope they also ban whiteboards. Very difficult to see, and the markers become translucent after about 1cm of chalk-equivalent use.
19
yomritoyj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Having the speaker write out things on a board also has the advantage of giving the listeners time to think through what has gone before. In my experience this leads to more interesting discussion.

I'm a teacher of economics and the only time I use slides is when I have to present a lot of data or literal text like the statements of theorems. Even in these situations I think distributing printed handouts works much better. But that involves logistics and expense.

20
sentenza 1 day ago 6 replies      
I'd say it makes sense for equation-heavy fields. The biophysics stuff I did during my Phd, however, worked very well with Powerpoint. I'd always have the images-and-diagrams-only presentation without text as my goal, which I usualy managed to almost-achieve.
21
mamcx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somethings are better without powerpoint-like presentation, but is possible to use it correctly.

I have used the ideas behind http://www.presentationzen.com/ with good results.

Based on that, my mom setup a service to build that kind of presentations at http://www.emilypresenta.com/ (the site is in spanish for now), including finding, buying the photos/icons and the provide a basic layout for the talking part.

22
twowo 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It is probably not centred around encouraging discussion but it reminds me of a beautiful piece from Peter Norvig:http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/index.htm
23
vishaldpatel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome awesome awesome! Physics classes at the LHC turned from nap-time for all to nap-time for some :D
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rachellaw 1 day ago 0 replies      
reminds me of my old philosophy professor, he never used slides or anything. Just transparencies and "a magic lantern" hahaha -- he didn't even call'em projectors!
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lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 0 replies      
well word has long since ceased to be relevant (in the code literate world) Markdown, wiki mark up or similar has taken its place (and LaTeX always was close to ending it )Now PowerPoint will join it as S5 and the like take over.

just wondering if the spreadsheet will be the only survivor

       cached 9 March 2014 07:02:02 GMT