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Amazon Is Downloading Apps From Google Play and Inspecting Them rajbala.com
165 points by rajbala  6 hours ago   49 comments top 23
BrandonM 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems to be the natural outcome of Amazon's excellent customer service policy, where they have on numerous occasions[0] refunded costs for hacked instances. When they commit to that policy, they have a huge incentive to limit customer security breaches.

I love examples like that where a company's policies result in incentives that are so well-aligned with those of their users. Does anyone have other good examples to share?

[0] https://securosis.com/blog/my-500-cloud-security-screwup and http://vertis.io/2013/12/17/an-update-on-my-aws-bill.html are two examples.

Aqueous 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't think they are inspecting the app ; they don't need to. They can see that there are a higher-than-average number of API accesses from a given platform, using the AWS Secret Key as the login credential.
downandout 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I see nothing wrong here. They are probably doing this now because it in fact a major problem, even with large, professionally developed apps. About 8 months ago I did a brief analysis of the then-current Vine apk and relatively quickly extracted their S3 credentials (they were not stored in plain text, but close enough). Very bad idea.
justinph 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That's actually kind of awesome. Good on Amazon for taking security seriously.
nknighthb 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I understand perfectly how people end up mistakenly pushing credentials into public source repos when releasing server-side stuff. But I don't get how a seemingly sane person develops an application intended for distribution to the public which contains AWS credentials.

At what point in your development process do you say "I want this application, which will be distributed to unknown persons, to contain the means to control my AWS account."?

natch 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone who reads the article can see that the author is drawing conclusions from conjecture.

"We were made aware" does not equal "we are downloading apps and inspecting them."

If they were doing that, that would be great! But let's not leap to conclusions.

smilliken 3 hours ago 0 replies      
MixRank analyzes mobiles apps (android and ios) and we often see apps with embedded api secrets, private keys, and passwords. It's really surprising.

If you'd like to send an email like this to your users, send me an email (in profile) and I can query our database and check to see if any of them are including their api keys.

happywolf 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
I will think they inspect apps based on the number of hits generated to AWS.

The advantages of doing this are 1) showing Amazon thinks for the customers (well, also for itself) 2) proves it has pro-actively notified the customer and done its due diligence.

This step could serve as a solid proof in any dispute on later security issues or/and related costs.

Smart, I will say.

olalonde 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'm curious why some apps need API to access to AWS. What's the use case? Surely not to spin up an EC2 instance when the user clicks a button? Save files to S3? I'm not being sarcastic, genuinely curious. And what's the proposed solution suggested by AWS?
orblivion 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how they would identify a string that appears to be an API secret, and queries their database for it. For every plausible string in every app? I guess they decompile it and find string literals of the correct length?
immad 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Couldn't they just look at the user agent and know that the hit to their API is coming from an Android device rather than a server?
catshirt 5 hours ago 0 replies      
great for them. i worked for an unnamed company who was shipping AWS credentials in clients for years. worse, they were not clients that required a packaged binary (no need to decompile). it's long since patched but i can't believe no one ever sniffed that out.
magic_haze 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Does Google Play have a public API for downloading APKs? Does it work for paid apps as well? (I'm not able to construct good keywords for search here: Google thinks I'm looking for an APK for the store app instead)
goombastic 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is probably a good thing and also automated.
incogmind 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They did a good thing, title feels slightly misguiding. Could they have figured it out based on API access locations being random?
travelton 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope other developers see this and take action if they aren't properly securing cloud API keys. Data access by an unauthorized party is not something you want to deal with.
kayoone 1 hour ago 0 replies      
a free security audit of your app, pretty cool ;)
jhgg 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if any malicious parties have been doing this as well.
3327 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Was your source obfuscated?
salvadormrf 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
They also scan for Keys on github. They are proactive in terms of security!
iancarroll 5 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the things that justifies the higher prices.


snapclass 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Go on you Amazon.
alttab 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Conjecture, and I guess you're welcome? My guess is if you embedded your Google cloud credentials in your app and it was compromised Google would be happy to bill you, terminate your account, or otherwise provide zero latitude as a customer. At least they dropped their prices, right?
GNU APL 1.3 gnu.org
45 points by lelf  4 hours ago   13 comments top 4
gfosco 3 hours ago 3 replies      
wyc 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're interested in getting a taste of APL while keeping in ASCII, you might want to check out the J programming language. Ken Iverson (the creator of APL) had a hand in its development. J implements most APL operators and is sometimes known as its successor, along with K and Q.

Get started here:http://www.jsoftware.com/help/learning/contents.htm

This family of languages really leads to a new way of thinking, evident in the J incunabulum (the C interpreter that started J, purportedly written in one afternoon) [1]. The code looks really dense and borderline gibberish at first glance, but I found it very expressive after a good read.

[1]: http://www.jsoftware.com/jwiki/Essays/Incunabulum

srean 3 hours ago 1 reply      
So does this require special a keyboard ? How does inputting those special symbols work. Are APL's typically JITed ?
DonGateley 3 hours ago 2 replies      
This would be cool if you weren't required to be a build tools dojo to use it. Windows binary please! Complete working stand alone binary. Then it might make an impact.
We lost a customer. This is how we found out ramen.is
251 points by wickedcoolmatt  13 hours ago   88 comments top 23
dredmorbius 5 hours ago 3 replies      
So much this.

A few bits I've noticed over 25+ years in the industry:

Tell me what your product is. What it does, where it works, how it does it, what it requires. Is it a physical product (or is it shipped in one), an interactive application, a Web service, a programming language / tool?

Tell me what the fuck it is EVERY GODDAMNED TIME YOU COMMUNICATE ABOUT THE PRODUCT. It doesn't have to be long or detailed, you can link to your detailed description in the communication. But your press releases, emails, Tweets, blog posts, marketing collateral, etc., are going to get passed around, word-of-mouthed, and/or pulled out of drawers (or browser history / searches) for weeks, months, and years to come. Make them work for you.

The Economist's practice of briefly introducing any individual, no matter how famous or obscure, is a wonderful practice of microcontent contextualization. "Using the Economist house style offers an elegant alternative, wherein virtually all people and organizations are identified explicitly, no matter how prominent. For example, you might see 'Google, a search giant', 'GE, an American conglomerate', or 'Tim Cook, boss of Apple'." http://redd.it/1x8yky

Tell me how to try it out. Preferably for 60-90 days (a 30 day cycle can go far too fast. I've been very, very impressed with New Relic's "use it for free, convert upmarket for additional features" model, and it's apparently worked well for them. For small accounts, their cost of sales is effectively nil (and for large accounts, COS is always a PITA). But for those large accounts, you've got a proven track record with the prospect, and they really know what they're getting.

Put your tech docs front and center. As a technical lead / director, my questions are "how the fuck do I make this thing work", and if you can't tell me

It's been observed many times that those who have the best appreciation for how a product works are those who use it directly, and secondly, those who either service it or support those using it. John Sealy Brown's The Social Life of Information addresses this with both Xerox copier repairmen and support staff. Use this to your advantage two ways: let these people share and collaborate, even if informally For the repairmen, this was a morning coffee break turned out to be a hugely valuable cross-training and troubleshooting feature. For phone support, after an "expert system" and changes in technology separating phone reps from technicians, researchers noted two reps who consistently provided good advice: one was a veteran from the earlier stage, the other a recent hire who sat across from the other and learned from her. Similarly, user support groups (mailing lists, Web forums, Usenet groups), in which users interact and share knowledge with one another directly (Hacker News would be an instance) are often (though not always) far more useful than direct tech support.

Provide clear pricing information. This has been noted from Jacob Nielsen on forward as the information people are most interested in.

Make damned sure that whatever process or workflow you've created online works, and for as many possible end-user environments as possible. Keeping interfaces as simple and legible as possible is a huge bonus.

Remove distractions from your transactional webpages. Once someone's homed in on a product, focus on that, though you may mention alternatives or (truly useful) related products. Every additional piece of information on the screen is an opportunity to confuse and lose the sale. I've been restyling many websites simply for my own use (1000+), and simply removing distracting elements produces a far more productive environment.

Ensure your pages are legible. Backgrounds should be light, foregrounds light (and where, with extreme reluctance, you invert these, separation should be clear). DO NOT SCALE FONTS IN PX. On far, far too many devices this renders as unreadable, particularly from older (e.g., more senior w/in the organization) readers. Grey-on-grey is just cause to fire whomever suggested or required it. See ContrastRebellion: http://www.contrastrebellion.com/

Don't organize your website according to internal corporate structures. Your website is an outward facing tool, and should address the needs of users, not of internal departments. Lenovo's laptop site organization would be highly typical of this: I want a Linux-capable, large-display, full-keyboard, trackpoint device. The rest I generally don't give a shit about, and its product line confuses me every fucking goddamned time I try to buy something there (usually every 2-3 years). I'm not a sufficiently frequent customer that I keep up with every last change, but I've spent thousands of dollars on IBM/Lenovo products, as an individual (hundreds of thousands to millions as an enterprise customer).

And of course: test all of this, don't simply take my word for it. But yes, I've walked from far, far, far too many product pages, from free software projects to Fortune 10 companies to edgy app devs.

Life's too fucking short for that shit.

RyanZAG 12 hours ago 14 replies      
It's pretty common on a lot of recent startup landing pages. Great looking design, nice little touches like animation - but very little detail on how the product actually works. The assumption is that someone curious is going to sign up to find out. Lots of people won't do this and will just bounce. I think every landing page should try to answer these questions:

  What is your product?  Why would I use your product?  How does your product work?  What does your product cost?     ("Still working on it" is fine, but say so)  What countries are you available in?

carrotleads 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Well their main problem was they had a 2 sided market and catered to both half heartedly.

Dropbox caters to a single market and the message is more simple for them.

A "How it works" with subsection for both target market would help.

multiple sided products always have trouble selling effective messages and would like to see examples if you guys know of any.

I am doing a redesign of my site http://carrotleads.com on this topic. Was targeted at companies earlier and now I will have trouble converting network'rs. I can see the problem, but solutions need more deep thought. Working on it.

Submitted site to Peek. Want to see how it turns out.

JanezStupar 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I like how a guy records a video in which he talks about how he has no idea what they are about.

Then they write a blog post about it. Submit it to HN, get to the front page, get lots of potential customers...

And there is still no information on their site about who they are and how it works...

rowyourboat 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"I failed to explain the benefits Ramen can provide."

No, I think those came across quite clearly. He wants to know how it works, i.e. what is required of him, and what will the process of getting funded look like. That's a difference.

webwright 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you do this, it's best to do it in clusters of 5-10 testers in your target demographic and try to identify patterns. It's dangerous to say "UserX is confused, so all of our users must be confused." No matter how perfect your design, it will be confusing/frustrating for someone.
jaredandrews 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting comment on the bottom of the article:

  This random user is a prick.  1. Why didnt he scroll to the bottom of the page? I noticed an about us link in the footer.  2. When Im curious about companies, I look at their blogs. Sometimes they use a blog CMS system. Why didnt this guy check the links in the header, like the link to your blog?  3. This guy has a baby babbling in the background. Maybe he was distracted?
We do a lot of user testing at work and it has really opened my eyes. This sort of attitude really bums me out though. You can sit around all day and complain about customer incompetence. Meanwhile they are out using a different app/product and you still aren't making any money/conversions.

jrochkind1 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I had not known about the Peek service, that's pretty awesome.

Does anyone know of anything like that, but that's _not_ random, where I could actually send volunteers from my current users to my sight, and have their clicks and voice recorded and sent to me? Is there such a business that works well at a reasonable price?

Malarkey73 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Jeez. That is like sooooo many modern websites.

What is this site? What is thingumajig.io? Its a webby thingumajig? Sign up? Sign up for what? Oh it's a website for web something.

nice font.

joshvm 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The information may be there, but if the user has to scroll to see it then that's poor UX design. I did wonder why he didn't scroll to the bottom, but still "About Us" doesn't scream "how the service works" to me. And indeed, if you click on the link you get taken to a page of smiling founders.

I got the impression that the designers were trying to be clever by integrating the tutorial into an actual project page - and going to the Ramen project explains a lot about the process. However, that's intuition from using the web a lot, not a logical step. It's the same kind of intuition that gamers have when crawling a dungeon and you know that taking the short route will almost certainly be a Bad Idea.

This backfires in another way: I also wonder if there are only four projects on the site? Can I search for more? It makes me think that the projects there are just dummy pages to demonstrate how the site works.

tdicola 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Are user videos from Peek supposed to be public? I would be a little creeped out if I was the random user from this study and suddenly found my video plastered in a blog post.
bpodgursky 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It's also odd that there's no "browse all projects" or "find projects to back" option, only a few hand-curated options. No discovery options at all.
rurban 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Come on, this guy is not everything. The first link I clicked was at the bottom left: Project which brought me to https://ramen.is/projects/ramen which explains everything in detail this guy did not find and searched for.Overall, looks a fancy new kickstarter site. I care about projects not kickstarter per se, so I like the idea how the projects are presented in ramen.
lingben 6 hours ago 0 replies      
sorry for the tangent but I remember seeing a usability site where you could get usability testing for your site by 'pay it forward' by taking other sites for a test drive

anyone know what I'm referring to?


htk 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post, the video is as simple as is enlightening.

What I like the most about it is that the user is genuinely interested in the service. But he acts natural and realizes he doesn't see an easy way to get more info on it.

He could try to read the blog, or search for small print, but that's not what the average user is going to do.

I'm going to try Peek soon!

fallinghawks 8 hours ago 0 replies      
There's this one link at the very bottom of the page, which the Peek user kept missing, and would be the first one I would go to if I couldn't find what I was looking for: Product/Project Page. That appears to be the page that would have answered many of his questions and kept him as a customer. That should totally be at the top of the page.

However, even that's a little confusing because it is itself a project -- so a user might wonder what the heck they are looking at, site info or some other project?

mauricio-OH 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post but it sounds a lot like trying to sell that peek service. Would've been great to see what actions were taken to improve the site rather than wait to the new design launch.
wickedcoolmatt 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey y'all thanks so much for the support!

UserTesting (the folks behind Peek) shot us over a promo code to get the first 100 of you to the front of the line if you want to give it a whirl: ramenreader

harrystone 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't do web design but that Peek thing just looks brutal to me. It's probably a good tool though, I'd just hate to have it pointed at my work.
nedwin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
While you're getting all this traffic you should definitely put a couple of calls to action to check out your product.

Even just linking the word "Ramen" in the blog post would be a great start to get more conversions happening.

Siecje 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Where do the testers for peek come from if it is free?
throwaway112233 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a website where I can put a website and watch people's reactions?

....well, I have an idea what kind of websites I will try to submit...

edem 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I LOVE this post. I actually did not read it since it contained something which I miss in every other blog: a TL;DR section. +1!!!
A simple, kernel-space, on-disk filesystem from scratch github.com
45 points by r4um  5 hours ago   3 comments top 3
slynux 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Not a filesystem. But a simple experimental kv storage from scratch, https://github.com/t3rm1n4l/lightkv
tjaerv 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
And best of all, the implementation is in the public domain (CC0):


jyotiska 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a project I had done earlier: https://github.com/jyotiska/vfs
Valve open sources Mesa fork from SteamOS github.com
72 points by tbrock  7 hours ago   20 comments top 5
wtracy 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a summary of how this fork differs from upstream? Is it mostly performance improvements? Bug fixes?
slashcom 6 hours ago 2 replies      
What is Mesa here? There's no readme on the github.
csense 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Presumably they're planning to redistribute this Mesa fork to SteamOS users. Since Mesa's LGPL, wouldn't they be required to open-source this fork at that point anyway?

EDIT: Not actually LGPL. My mistake (see reply to reply below).

webkike 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm glad at the very least Valve is adopting not only Linux programming practices, but Linux culture practices as well. Why are they doing this? I haven't the foggiest, but I like this!
jimmcslim 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Valve open sources Mesa... Black Mesa... Half-Life... HALF LIFE 3 CONFIRMED!
Introducing Michael Abrash, Oculus Chief Scientist oculusvr.com
337 points by polskibus  16 hours ago   125 comments top 36
Arjuna 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow, this is awesome news!

Michael and John are reunited... I mean, recall in the Graphics Programming Black Book, when Michael starts off in the introduction with, "What was it like working with John Carmack on Quake? Like being strapped onto a rocket during takeoff in the middle of a hurricane." [1]

Plus, Michael's quote from the announcement, "I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can." Great things are ahead!

If you've missed Michael's writings on VR, you are in for a real treat:

Why Virtual Reality is Hard (And Where It Might Be Going):





Two Possible Paths into the Future of Wearable Computing: Part 1 VR


Two Possible Paths into the Future of Wearable Computing: Part 2 AR


When it comes to resolution, it's all relative


Latency the sine qua non of AR and VR


Raster-Scan Displays: More Than Meets The Eye


Game Developers Conference and space-time diagrams


Why virtual isn't real to your brain


Why virtual isn't real to your brain: judder


Down the VR rabbit hole: Fixing judder


[1] http://twimgs.com/ddj/abrashblackbook/gpbbintr.pdf

staunch 16 hours ago 4 replies      
When a billionaire nerd that is "one of us" buys the VR company John Carmack is the CTO of and backs it with all the resources at his disposal I get excited. When he reunites two fathers of 3D game programming and the makers of the Quake engine I start to freak out.

On the upside we have an unlimited budget to make VR real and on the downside the team can always start again with VC money if necessary.

martythemaniak 16 hours ago 6 replies      
There's another thing from Snowcrash I've been thinking about - realistic faces. The most exclusive club in the Metaverse was The Black Sun and what made it special was that the avatars had extremely realistic, life-like expressions, enabling them to visually express emotions and thus enabling a higher form of communication (correct me if I'm wrong, I haven't read it in a decade).

So if we buy into the notion that social presence in VR worlds will be big, somebody's going to have to build this. The technology exists, but it looks very awkward: https://www.fxguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/HBT-VFXpr...

Not only does that have to be translated into a consumer product, but you need to capture someone's face while they're wearing the VR headset, which makes it even harder. Since VR headsets already touch your face, I would imagine the product would have to be some kind of extension of that - a larger contact area filled with sensors that reconstruct your expression perfectly.

brezina 16 hours ago 4 replies      
beautiful PR execution by the Oculus/FB teams. They knew this acquisition would anger members of the community, and they timed this hire/announcement so as to quiet the predicted backlash. Brilliant execution.
swang 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This shouldn't change your view point either way if you hated the fb acquisition or were fine with it.

What I mean is the people generally angry about the acquisition was not due to the personnel but Facebook itself so this should change nothing. All this shows was the Oculus was already going to get Abrash and that Facebook decided this would be better to announce after they got acquired.

Tiktaalik 16 hours ago 3 replies      
You can see why games people are irritated. I'm getting a strong impression that at this point that Oculus is moving away from being a games oriented company.

If I was a game studio building a VR game with an Oculus kit, I'd be continuing to work on it, but I'd be calling Sony and trying to get in line for a Morpheus.

MattGrommes 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Man, I'm now simultaneously more excited than ever about Oculus and more fearful that FB will do something to screw up this chance.

I'm choosing optimism.

jzelinskie 16 hours ago 0 replies      
First and foremost, everyone's priorities should be ensuring the success of the VR industry; Oculus is basically the company to do that. Sony will do their best with console hardware, but Oculus will set the pace for what's top of the line for consumers. If Facebook ever steps in and does something the [developer] community abhors, it should already be at the point where VR has had success and there will be competition. I'm super excited to see Abrash at Oculus; I just hope this doesn't mean Valve's slowing down on their work. Valve's been working for a vendor-agnostic API/configuration for these devices in their Steamworks APIs and I really hope that we don't end up fragmented by varying vendor-specific APIs.
revelation 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I've checked Wikipedia to augment my knowledge of all things Michael Abrash, and came across this quote of Gabe Newell:

been trying to hire Michael Abrash forever. [...] About once a quarter we go for dinner and I say 'are you ready to work here yet?

So between Gabe and John, Michael could probably be dining for free every day of the week ;)

aresant 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Ok, I am over being mad at Facebook. This is huge.

Abrash has been the front facing member of Valve's efforts @ VR.

His "What VR could, should, and almost certainly will be within two years" (1) paper was mind boggling as an Oculus Dev Kit owner.

This is going to be like watching the "Dream Team" come together in one place, and I'm guessing that this ends all speculation about whether or not Carmack sticks around under FB considering the collaborative history between these two.

(1) http://media.steampowered.com/apps/abrashblog/Abrash%20Dev%2...

npinguy 16 hours ago 2 replies      
If Michael Abrash is happy, then John Carmack is happy.

If those two are happy, HN should be happy.

Maybe this Facebook thing won't be so bad after all.

jtfrench 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it's awesome Carmack and Abrash are working together again. I read "Masters of Doom" back in the day, and it totally rocked my mind and took me back to a time when I was too young to realize just how impactful Carmack was on the industry that I enjoyed as a kid.

I just wouldn't have predicted that their comeback to the limelight would be working for Facebook. In my eyes, they were "bigger" than that (obviously not monetarily). They "meant" more to me. This is all subjective stuff I realize, and yes I've heard a zillion times "how good it is for VR", but it kind of indirectly gives a message that the best thing a genius who is already capable of changing the world can do is work for Facebook instead of do their own thing.

Call me a softy, but something just warms my heart when I see smart people stand out on their own, unswayed by the massive "power monoliths" surrounding them, and STILL kick ass. That's what Facebook did! And that was awesome! I just hope that spirit of entrepreneurship doesn't fade, and that geniuses know their power lies within themselves not in deep pockets of any company.

Congrats to all involved though I can only imagine what kind of crazy office days are ahead. The sequel to "Masters of Doom" is yet to be written.

incision 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Perfect move on multiple levels.

In the same way I thought look to John Carmack for any signs of trouble [0], I can look at Abrash being signed as a sign that everything is fine.

On a related note, I always get a kick out of this Amazon review of Abrash's book by Carmack [1].

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7469414

1: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2TWZFSQZ4RYLJ

mjn 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I like William Gibson's comment about this article: https://twitter.com/GreatDismal/status/449650461881008128
comatose_kid 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I am now waiting for the Zen of Oculus Programming.
JabavuAdams 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Squeeeeeeee! Ultimate social proof.

It was John Carmack who sold me on the Oculus Dev Kit 1, now this.

kar1181 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing about Abrash, is not only is he brilliant, when he writes about hugely complicated things, he does so in a way that makes the reader feel smarter too.

That is an amazing gift to have.

mcescalante 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great timing and should settle the community after the uproar about the FB acquisition this week.

It seems as though Valve has been fairly hush-hush about their VR ongoings throughout what I'll call "Oculus' rising", so I'm curious for more detail as to what went on internally at Valve with VR, and if Abrash joining Oculus means more about their VR efforts and future (i.e. is Valve done even trying to build something? Is some other partnership brewing between the two?)

netcan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The comments on this thread make me happy. Shows that the HN interest in Oculus and the Facebook FUD feelings are cooing from a genuine place, the same place that made so many peep kickstart Oculous in the first place: people want this to exist and be as cool as it promises to be.
cwilson 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Not only is this amazing news, but this is a PR master-stroke on the part of Occulus/Facebook.
noise 11 hours ago 1 reply      
That was a very nicely written piece and he had me going until this part:"We're on the cusp of what I think is not The Next Big Platform, but rather simply The Final Platform the platform to end all platforms"

The problem is that under FB, this will end up being the metafaceverse.com platform, that you can only access under their umbrella, just as with the current FB "platform". And you will be subject to their terms and conditions within their walled garden both as a user and a developer.

That's not the kind of platform the internet needs. This won't be another WWW but another AOL.

drivingmenuts 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great for Oculus.

Doesn't change a my feelings toward Facebook one bit. They could wake up from their drunken bender tomorrow, say "We bought what?" and Oculus would be dead beyond any hope of resurrection by Monday.

If it was anyone except Facebook, I would feel optimistic.

It's like Microsoft buying Apple. You know the first thing they would is burn that business to ground and dance gleefully in the ashes while their lawyers geared up to sue everyone in the world.

dylanrw 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Initially I was a bit perplexed/dismayed when Facebook purchased Oculus. The news that JC and MA are both now in the same company again? /me shuffles over to buy some FB...
h1karu 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Yea but isn't the idea of VR fundamentally flawed ? I mean I can imagine how presence feels like magic when you're just sitting still looking around, but is it really possible to move your avatar around without breaking presence ? I mean your body won't feel the centripetal force, nor the tactile sensations so it seems like any movement at all would break the illusion.. and if presence is broken then you might as well just be playing a FPS on a nice monitor.
tdicola 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, I wonder what Valve is going to do. Maybe time to buy back the augmented reality tech they squandered by firing Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson?
jfb 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I initially read this as "Michael Arrington, Oculus Chief Scientist". That was an amusing double take.
jksmith 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully everyone on HN knows who Michael Abrash is AND has a copy of "Zen of Assembly Language."
booop 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm excited about these two working together, but this now reminds of when Zynga hired many industry titans.
aantix 14 hours ago 0 replies      
On a side note, this is just fantastically written announcement. Abrash is a masterful storyteller.
z3phyr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the beginning of the golden era again. I will cry.
timfrietas 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Suddenly the recent announcement of a Seattle Oculus office makes perfect sense...
higherpurpose 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This shows even more than Valve should've done its own VR headset. Now they lost this guy.
yiedyie 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Behold, HN was invaded by Oculus!
signa11 15 hours ago 1 reply      
where is notch now ?
lawl 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Just at the right time after the Facebook debacle.

What a coincidence.

marcamillion 14 hours ago 1 reply      
WOW....I can't remember when a blog post made me so excited about the future of tech.

In one fell-swoop, all the naysayers about the FB acquisition were proven wrong.

Love it!

Tesla Adds Titanium Underbody Shield and Aluminum Deflector Plates to Model S teslamotors.com
533 points by austenallred  22 hours ago   348 comments top 41
rkalla 13 hours ago 7 replies      
This is what you get when a company/group/effort/community is lead by a "benevolent dictator" - someone with an absolutely pure vision of what they want their output to look like and the autonomy and strength to make it so no matter what.

I love this... I actually love that it probably pissed off Musk to no end the amount of attention the fires got and out of spite he went totally over the top and added ballistic plating to the bottom of the car as a super-constructive "fuck you" to everyone that bitched about it.

I am picturing this same thing happening at Chrysler or GM and I think 9 out of 10 CEOs would just let the whole non-issue blow over and go back to business - and the 1 CEO that would try and push for a ridiculous over-engineering solution like this would probably get shot down by the board.

That's why I like this, it's going way above and beyond because he can and because he believes in the vision he is selling so firmly that there is no wiggle room: "My cars are the best and goddamnit, I'm going to make them the best."

<standard disclaimers about personal viewpoints and preferences>

Just want to focus on the pursuit of perfection that I find so energizing - to put another way, if you had someone this passionate running each of the major airlines, I wonder what air travel would be like instead of the race-to-the-bottom experience it is now.

zacharycohn 21 hours ago 16 replies      
"We believe these changes will also help prevent a fire resulting from an extremely high speed impact that tears the wheels off the car, like the other Model S impact fire, which occurred last year in Mexico. This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph, shearing off 15 feet of concrete curbwall and tearing off the left front wheel, then smashing through an eight foot tall buttressed concrete wall on the other side of the road and tearing off the right front wheel, before crashing into a tree. The driver stepped out and walked away with no permanent injuries and a fire, again limited to the front section of the vehicle, started several minutes later. The underbody shields will help prevent a fire even in such a scenario."

This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

sz4kerto 21 hours ago 3 replies      
"However, to improve things further, we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds"

I know this is not specific to Tesla, but it's still really cool. :)

doe88 21 hours ago 7 replies      
Why would Elon choose to post on Medium and not on the blog of Tesla? It would definitively bring more credence to post it on their official website. Until reading near the end I wasn't sure it was a Tesla employee/official or a third party story (and I use the term story here and not article on purpose because usually on Medium it is more stories than facts).
utefan001 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Almost got the wording perfect! (under shield vs underbody shield)

1 point by utefan001 175 days ago | link

I am sure it is easier said than done, but it seems like the batteries simply need to be better protected. Something like a carbon fiber or titanium under shield.

JohnBooty 20 hours ago 2 replies      
In a sense, Teslas are the least safe cars on the road, because I'd kill every single one of you in order to own one.
Theodores 21 hours ago 0 replies      
People want to test this car to extremes, it is as if they are subjecting it it the coding equivalent of DDOS attack with some sql injection payload of a Stuxnet virus. Let's see what else the media find wrong with this car, e.g.:

'After flying into a cloud of paint and superglue the windscreen wipers failed to work resulting in a dangerous collision'.

(As if that happens every day and as if any other car would do better.)

If the naysayers keep up their petulant trolling then this car will be good for a road trip in Afghanistan some time soon.

jusben1369 21 hours ago 4 replies      
"An ode to passive/aggressive and hyper defensive writing"

Did this remind anyone else of when the smartest kid in the room was forced to apologize for something and you got the classic non apology apology?

Keep building great cars Elon and changing the world. Understand that we understand that there will be (I almost said bumps in the road) and that no one expected you to be perfect in every way from the very beginning. Trust someone close to you to help write these things.

"When you're doing something as new as we are with Tesla you're going to draw an outsized amount of scrutiny. Even though these fires were both in extreme circumstances, and that fires are sadly a regular occurrence for all vehicle makers, as a brand new concept it's not good enough for us to say 'We're as safe as any other comparable high end vehicle' We have to go a step further. And so today I'm announcing......" I mean I'm just throwing something together quickly but I'm trying to put some substance here vs sounding randomly snarky.

squigs25 20 hours ago 4 replies      
It's really difficult to emphasize how excessive this is. As a mechanical engineer, I knew just by reading the title that this is really excessive, because the titanium alloy used is definitely a marketing stunt.

Titanium has unbelievable tensile strength for its weight, but there's no good reason to make an "underbody shield" out of titanium except for publicity. It would make way more sense to use steel (and maybe you could make a case for something ultra light weight, like carbon fiber, but probably not).

pistle 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Elon is revealing too much hubris in his messaging. You can treat people around you like that, but lining up too many people against you is foolish.

His intent is to PR+burnish the added safety feature. Instead of selling it as an objective demonstration of the leadership tact that Tesla takes in ensuring driver security, he gets passive-aggressive.

Instead of laying out a tremendous history of safety as a foundation for a vision of the future of driving, he lords it as an accomplished achievement... which means the first time someone gets stuck inside the car and is burned alive, all these statements will bite him in the ass. It doesn't matter if that happened 100 times in gas cars the same year. Those manufacturers weren't overselling it.

In aggressively projecting strength, it expresses weakness.

rikf 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest take away from that article for me is that they are offering the fix for free to current owners. How many other car companies would do that? Unless they where required to by law which is clearly not the case here.
eumenides1 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Internet, please make a tumblr of Tesla car gifs running over things. Thanks!
crusso 20 hours ago 1 reply      
"This happened after the vehicle impacted a roundabout at 110 mph"

My pity meter regarding the resulting vehicle fire doesn't seem to be moving.

andrewtbham 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The risk of fire from collision was significantly higher that from conventional ICE. The figures Elon used included fires from electrical and mechanical failures, and even arson. Raising the car mitigated the risks in the short term. This is a long term solution. Kudos.

Here is full statistical analysis of why it was a real problem.


chromaton 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The post doesn't mention the titanium alloy or thickness of the shield, both of which make a significant difference. Pure titanium (Grade 2) isn't especially strong compared to aluminum or steel, but it is less expensive. Heat treated 6Al-4V alloy, AKA Grade 5 on the other hand, is the stuff used in military aircraft and the like.
pocketstar 16 hours ago 0 replies      
On the website: "Welcome! We noticed that you are in Canada . Would you like to view the Canadian version of the site? Visit the Canadian Site" as a small unobtrusive banner along the bottom of the screen that disappears if I continue to scroll through the article. This is the BEST implementation of this geothing I have ever seen. Especially compared to Newegg's massive grey screen banner that asks me every fucking time and never remembers my answer.
userbinator 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Very, very good idea.

Personally I think the ground clearance is still a bit on the low side.

It looks like it lost a bolt or something in the first impact image... oops.

harichinnan 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I just had a thought that Elon Musk owning both Tesla and SpaceX, the next logical step would be an electric powered airplane or a chopper. It could be an airplane/chopper that would glide down to safety in case of a mechanical failure, or crash land on rough terrain without fear of catching fire. That would disrupt aviation industry like never before.
ghshephard 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Are there any other car manufacturers that have similar levels of clearance? I'd be intrigued to see how they perform in the same test scenarios that the Teslas were run against.
pc86 18 hours ago 1 reply      
> we provided an over-the-air software update a few months ago to increase the default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds

Let's just think about how awesome that is for a moment.

kordless 21 hours ago 0 replies      
As soon as I have funds to do so, I'm buying a Tesla Model S. I'm amazed at the dedication to the process of building a superior product.
001sky 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Kudos for an engineering led solution. I have no idea what "ballistics grade aluminum" is (since nobody uses ALU for ballistics armour##), but Ti has more inherent toughness# and seems a better fit as a skid-plate.

# elongation and tensile strength.

## The ballistic standard for armour (RHA) is a 1/4 steel plate. Ballistic Alu is roughly 1/2 inch or double the thickness used here, in most applications.

curiousDog 11 hours ago 0 replies      
An OTA update to increase the ground clearance at highway speeds. Wow. Just wow. I for one welcome the future and please give this man all the money he wants.
malandrew 17 hours ago 1 reply      

    "However, to improve things further, we provided an over-    the-air software update a few months ago to increase the     default ground clearance of the Model S at highway speeds,     substantially reducing the odds of a severe underbody     impact."
How can a software update impact ground clearance at highway speeds? Is this some special capability of the suspension in a Tesla or are more cars capable of this type of adjustment?

symmetricsaurus 21 hours ago 2 replies      
"With a track record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries since our vehicles went into production six years ago, there is no safer car on the road than a Tesla."

I don't doubt that the Tesla Model S is a very safe car as tests have shown. With that said, how many deaths and serious injuries would have been expected considering the same number of miles driven with normal cars? Are Teslas actually substantially safer than other cars or are there just few enough out there that no serious injuries have happened?

fidotron 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm guessing the actual titanium shield is relatively small, but either way I hope it's welded to the car well, as that stuff is valuable.
martin_bech 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Always impressed in the companys ability to push things further. They will do to some of the current manufactures what Apple did to Blackberry and Nokia.
arikrak 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Nice move on their part. I think while the Tesla may be less fire-prone than other cars, Musk exaggerates it:

"The odds of fire in a Model S, at roughly 1 in 8,000 vehicles, are five times lower than those of an average gasoline car..."

What matters is the miles driven by cars, not the number of cars on the roads. It seems likely that other cars are driven longer distances, and Tesla cars are probably used by many owners as a second car.

mkhalil 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Tesla will need to continue to fight this PR with the truth and improvements like this; for the big 3, the oil companies, and dealership organizations will continue to try to put them down.

They need us to help spread the truth, as much as we need significant improvements in the automotive/transportation industry.

adamrneary 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Cause and effect: A statistically insignificant number of fires in Teslas caused a disproportionate amount of news coverage (there was much less news coverage about Tesla's best-ever safety rating). This perception needs to be overcome, even if it means informed consumers having to pay for titanium underneath otherwise safe cars. Tesla is doing their part, but it's a shame to see so many outside factors driving up the cost.
olssy 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Did anyone else notice a screw coming detached from the titanium underbody shield after the impact of the three ball tow hitch, you can also see the shield bend on the impact of the concrete block and the hole where the screw was. It would be kind of ironic if this actually made the car less safe.
srg0 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Assuming the underbody plate is only 2mm thick, the Model S is suddenly accelerating 5% slower. To put it otherwise, every acceleration now takes at least 4% more energy (> 0.01 kWh for an acceleration from from 0 to 65 mph). Sounds great for city driving.
sgy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
There's another side for the story..Car Dealers Could be Napsterized


trhway 10 hours ago 0 replies      
until somebody drives Model S in Iraq and hits IED ...
leccine 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Long live Tesla and Elon Musk! People like him are the hope of humanity that we actually going forward (rather slowly but hey)...
nathanvanfleet 19 hours ago 0 replies      
"In short, if you ever run over a human head the car is designed to complete decimate it and break it into several pieces." Wow that's harsh.
notastartup 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Elon Musk is the heartthrob of our generation, producing electric cars, space rockets, wish I was as successful.
jlebrech 21 hours ago 0 replies      
sounds more like a tank
bsdetector 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Curious that it doesn't mention battery swaps. Since this is a PR piece I'm assuming from lack of mention that you can no longer swap batteries after having the extra battery shield added.

Battery swap was always a gimmick -- you had to return to the same swap station later to get your same battery back or pay a huge fee. Come on.

It looks like they decided fires are worse PR than this gimmick is good PR.

eiji 21 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm sorry but my first reaction is "What a waste". Titanium is ridiculously expensive for various reasons. The best these engineers could come up with is to put a sheet of metal under the car? You got to be kidding me. I see why they have to use Titanium for it, anything else doesn't work, but it shows how far away this car is from reality and from true mass production.
kzahel 21 hours ago 4 replies      
"With a track record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries since our vehicles went into production six years ago, there is no safer car on the road than a Tesla."

I recall one Tesla caused death[1], and I'm sure there have been more. Not that I really think Tesla is any more dangerous than any other car in this regard though.

[1] http://blog.sfgate.com/energy/2014/02/07/tesla-driver-blames...

Show HN: My Isometric Voxel Engine 6 Months Later voxelquest.com
348 points by gavanwoolery  18 hours ago   120 comments top 38
e12e 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's looks like an interesting project. I wonder if there are technical similarities with Project Spark?


jmduke 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Honestly, the only incredibly disappointing part of this project is that there currently doesn't exist a way for me to throw my money at you through the internet.

In case you missed it, a link to be notified for the Kickstarter:


OmarIsmail 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The more I read the more skeptical I became, but at the same time, you acknowledged all of the criticisms I was building up in my head. You have a realistic timeframe (years, but public access this year), and you acknowledge building a game, not an engine.

Your writing is clear and easy to follow, and your intelligence definitely shines through.

I never thought I'd say this, but you may actually have a shot at pulling this off. I mean the next Minecraft, Angry Birds, etc is going to come from somewhere/someone, why not you?

Keep it up! And looking forward to the next update.

javanix 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Very very pretty graphics. I love that it doesn't look like voxels.

I wonder if you could use this to import and export meshes from a physics sim?

If you could turn the brick wall, for instance, into a Havok mesh, simulate knocking it down, and then convert the results back into voxel land you could do some really neat turn-based persistent-world destruction stuff.

kyberias 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
It looks great. It bothers me a bit that the game is named after the rendering technology. It's fun to create a game engine that renders stuff but it takes way more than that to design a game.
makmanalp 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, great work, this reminds me of a lot of demoscene stuff where, when faced with space limitations, programmers aggressively used procedural generation combined with prerendering and caching.

The most iconic example I can think of is .kkrieger, the 96kb first person shooter that has (relatively) amazing graphics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.kkrieger

Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NBG-sKFaB0

There might be valuable lessons to be had in that domain that might save you some time.

Scaevolus 16 hours ago 2 replies      
The memory requirements make it sound like you're not using hierarchical decompositions (sparse voxel octrees, etc), is there a reason for that?

How well-supported are dynamic features like animated characters or destruction? (Voxatron-style)

I'd hold off on your claims on AWESOME EMERGENT AI before you actually have it up and running. The capabilities are simple to describe, but actually implementing them in a way that's performant and not horribly buggy has stumped well-funded teams of experienced developers.

donutdan4114 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks amazing. Very impressive. I hope this is successful, because you deserve it.
forgottenpaswrd 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Congrats!, great work.

This has lots of useful applications. E.g Do you know those graphics about a submarine of the WW2, or a Spanish galleon in which you could see what is inside, like in the book "incredible cross sections"?

With your tech you could make this but dynamic and alive!! peering what you are interested in. While most of the scene is static, you could move some things a little and make it alive.

You should contact one of those amazing artist and show them what you have. There is no way they would resist an offer of working on something like this.

bane 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I was expecting more minecrafty looking, totally unexpected and awesome. I thought it was all bitmaps at first until you started sectioning through the buildings. Really awesome stuff. The world sizes are amazing.
hnriot 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe this appeals to the younger gamer community, but having been involved back in the 90s with Renderware (which got eaten up by EA), a competitor to Rendermorphics that became (sort of) DirectX I would expect graphics engines to be much further along. This still looks like things we were playing with in the 90s. I'm sure its not, and I'm sure these voxels are clever, but when will rendering engines stop looking like Sonic The Hedgehog. Having switched to other areas of software development I haven't paid any attention to these engines.
VikingCoder 16 hours ago 1 reply      

I do think the grass looks like those old cartoons where the character is wearing a plaid outfit, and as they move, the plaid pattern stays still...

aswanson 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Gavan, this is amazing. Im trying to learn game development and graphics myself. Could you give me pointers on how to get started (tools, books, online tutorials, etc)? I want to get to this level of skill one day.
TTPrograms 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Really great work! A few quick questions - is the engine restricted to rendering from a fixed viewpoint as in your demo, or is that just a facet of the game you want to build with it? Also, would it be possible to speed up rendering by identifying occlusion from the viewpoint and not rendering those voxels as opposed to the "building up" demoed in the video?

Really great stuff!

cyphax 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Ooooh this is absolutely gorgeous, it's like a moving painting! I love the style, I was very impressed by the video so now I'm going to read all about it because this is the first time I hear about it. ;)
hetid 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is really cool, but I fully expect you to fail.

Something simple to say like emergent AI can be ridiculously complex in practice. I bet you really have all the experience you claim to have, but I still don't expect you to get very far.

You have quite a few descriptions of how the game will end up, but saying things like "it will be fun and all these other things" dismisses how you're going to make it that way.

I think the coolest promise was that the game would be deterministic.

I'm not sure if you have lots of experience making games, but in my experience games written from the ground up never really become complete games.

If you're not already, you may want to consider hiring a team or getting help developing this so that you can focus on the things you think you can do most effectively or that are most crucial to the final gameplay.

Anyway, I really hope this is going to be all you say it will be.

Good luck. :)

richardwhiuk 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds awesome. "The entire program is only" - I think you left off halfway through?
billrobertson42 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it a case of "Source (will be) Available to Licensees?"

If so, I think trying to call it, "open source," puts you in the position where you might be perceived as being disingenuous. I also think it's less clear that way.

math0ne 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I was like what's so special about another vocal engine. after watching the video I see now that if you can have a super super detailed voxel engine all other engines corps be rendered irrelevant.
ebbv 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I started watching your video and what you have so far looks neat but you lost me when you started talking about how proud you were of the emergent AI when you haven't even started coding it yet. Yeah, you might have some good ideas about how you want the emergent AI to work but that's very different from having it working. Execution is the hard part.

My point is, talk about what you've done more than what you intend to do. Everybody can talk about what they intend to do, almost nobody does it. What you've done so far is interesting enough, talk about that for now.

mindstab 15 hours ago 1 reply      
What is the music? is it an original creation? or a remix? because it reminds me very heavily of star control 2
htk 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Just say the game is to create walls and poke holes in them and call it a day! I would buy it!
SixSigma 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Bah, my comment on your site went to an error page on submit.

It was: any plans to give an opening for player written AI to function in game - writing your own group companions sounds fun too, could even use a similar codepath as multiplayer

diziet 9 hours ago 1 reply      
@gavanwoolery -- what kind of Hardware is the demo running on?
sawyer 16 hours ago 1 reply      
You forgot to include the pre-order form!
wonderyak 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks wonderful.

The map generation looks particularly great.

efnx 15 hours ago 1 reply      
@gavinwoolery - How did you get started working with voxels, graphics, etc? What are some good resources for learning about this stuff?

Awesome demo.

GhotiFish 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The lighting in this engine looks amazing.

I'd love to see more detail on it. If you stuck a light source in your glass house, would you see convincing shadows?

eigenvalue 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I love these stories of lone (perhaps obsessive) developers laboring in seclusion for months, only to emerge with some awesome new thing that we can all get excited about. Must be a great sense of accomplishment, and a strong incentive to keep grinding away.
everyone 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Holy sh*t!! That is very very impressive!! This guy is obviously an amazing game programmer.. I hope one day to be that skilled!
tbastos 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like the perfect engine for a remake of Ultima Online... the best MMORPG ever nostalgia
bas 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks great! I love the lighting on the inn/house.
Marcus316 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This is quite impressive!

Have you set fire to any of the materials in your generated world yet? It would be interesting to see a fire spread through one of your houses ... fire is usually one of the things either done well or done horribly in a game (in my opinion, anyways) ...

3rd3 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Is central perspective possible or is the isometric view hardcoded into the shaders?
whage 14 hours ago 1 reply      
All this done by one man? How much time in total? This is awe-inspiring
ErikBjare 15 hours ago 1 reply      
In my days of playing with voxels in Blender I never thought something like this was even remotely a valid usecase. Incredible work Sir, I'm speechless!
ljak 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks a lot like Little Big Adventure.
dllthomas 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Very pretty.
Tesla Strikes Deal To Keep Dealerships In New York techcrunch.com
103 points by houseofshards  10 hours ago   45 comments top 7
rtfeldman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Certainly no one should expect this status quo to last for long. The dealers will keep lobbying to kick Tesla out, and Tesla will keep lobbying to lift this restriction.

In that light, this is an interesting long-term strategic move on Musk's part. It arms him with a "we've been selling in this state for X years with Y thousand satisfied customers, so how can this be so problematic that it needs restriction?" argument for his lobbying efforts a few years down the line.

Aqueous 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just goes to show you - it's sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Imagine if Tesla hadn't opened stores in these locations - they would be indefinitely, unconditionally barred from doing so unless they had flouted the auto dealer rules and went forward with the stores regardless. Now they have a foothold. When you realize that the stakeholders (in this case, New York State Politicians) have a political interest in you flouting their rules then the rules just don't seem that rul-y anymore.

It's also what's going to get their foot in Texas, as well.

Elon Musk is one smart dude.

dangero 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow so this seems actually worse than outlawing Tesla because what they are doing is giving Tesla major privileges over any future competition. Seems very monopolistic.
Oculus 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Can someone with more knowledge of the (outdated) franchise law explain why Tesla can't/hasn't created their own dealerships (that officially aren't Tesla owned), but sell only Teslas?
mattnibs 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How is requiring a car dealer to sell through a dealership beneficial to anyone besides the dealership lobby which spent millions of dollars in getting that law in place? This is why I freely support any company attempting to disrupt any industry that uses the US gov't to create laws limiting direct competition (Healthcare for example).

Politicians who stand up for this kind of nonsense should be ashamed.

coreymgilmore 9 hours ago 0 replies      
These laws are crazy. They work for Tesla currently, but what about the future and future direct-to-customer sales models by other companies?

When Tesla grows, they will need more than 5 dealerships in order to reach more of the population.

When a new competitor tries to sell direct, these rules will make it impossible for them to compete on an even playing field with Tesla and therefore have to revert to the old dealership model. Win for Tesla, loss for free markets and competition.

diakritikal 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As a bemused European looking at this situation. Did a new U.S. manufacturer, just agree to sell cars in mob town?
Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions cnn.com
416 points by matttah  21 hours ago   213 comments top 51
6cxs2hd6 20 hours ago 21 replies      
As I type this comment, most other comments are pointing out how a 6th grader got this wrong, by failing to suggest the "correct" solution of abandoning printing.

I don't... how do I put this nicely.

This is a kid. He is smart. He looked at the problem from a new angle. He came up with a nice hack. Presumably we want more kids with more of a hacking spirit.

I hope he doesn't read Hacker News.

zeidrich 17 hours ago 3 replies      
The problem with this kind of initiative is that it uses humans difficulty with recognizing the scale of large numbers.

We see a savings of $400 million and think "we should do this!" But it's a drop in the bucket even if it were that much of a savings.

If each government employee needs to change their font, or needs to set it as the default font, or needs technical support to configure the defaults in their word processor. If IT needs to modify images to use this font as a default. Just these actions are going to cost a significant portion of that $400 million when you consider it across the millions of federal staff.

This also assumes things like the government is actually paying for ink or toner in quantity, instead of, for instance, holding a contract with Xerox who charges per impression rather than based on how much ink you use.

It also assumes that there is no difference in legibility between the fonts. That people with vision impairments will not have difficulty with reading the document.

An easy way to think about whether an initiative like this is reasonable is to think about whether it makes a lot of sense for any individual to do. Do you think you, individually, could realize any significant savings by changing your fonts? If it only makes sense when millions of people do it at once, and even then only when certain assumptions are met, and then only saves a few dollars per person per year, then it actually is more likely to cost a lot more in overhead to make sure it happens than it will ever save.

R_Edward 18 hours ago 2 replies      
First, I like the kid's methodology. You can eyeball the various differences between font X and font Y, and see that the same passage printed in one is going to take more ink than the other, but how do you quantify the difference? He came up with a clever hack to relate an easily measurable attribute to a not-so-easily measured one.

Second, intentionally or otherwise, he managed to divorce the savings ratio from the type of ink being used--whether you laser-print, inkjet-print, or press-print your text on paper, you're going to use x% less ink or toner with one font versus another.

However, the selection of a font should take things into consideration besides the relative amount of ink needed to produce a body of text. Human and machine readability should also be significant concerns. And I would like to point out that a cost savings of $136 million represents less than two seconds worth of spending at the US governments current spend rate of $3.5 trillion per year. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't even imagine that level of spending!

johngalt 17 hours ago 4 replies      
IT perspective:

Interesting and subtle change. However it will likely be net negative. Most high volume copiers/printers are laser and/or covered by a cost per copy maintenance agreement. Meaning that most organizations pay the same price for a page regardless of how much toner is used on that page.

Contrast this with the cost of enforcing a single font family across millions of systems and documents. There are a large number of unseen costs here. Imagine 10 years from now some vendor responding to an RFP for healthcare.gov v2.0. The government insisting that the source code be converted to garamond for the weekly status reports. The HN posts that day will be about how ridiculous of a requirement this is.

mxfh 17 hours ago 0 replies      
While this is arguable clever,a similiar concept has been known for ages to traditional printers.

There is a whole class of typefaces optimized for high speed, low cost/low quality printing, which pre-compensates the letterform for expected ink bleeding, so called Ink Traps[1][2]. They are highly optimized for a specific printing method, the font size and the paper-quality used, and don't translate well to non-ink based printing.

The problem with current desktop publishing fonts is that they can't possibly be optimized for every single use case on screen and for all of the myriad types of printing so robustness while maintaining legibility is key. Especially if the product is expected to be photocopied I would always go for a reasonable bolder weight, uncondensed typeface rather than losing information.

Also make sure the 8 is distinct enough from a 6 [3] (Times New Roman beats Arial by lengths in this aspect)

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

[2] http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/calculated-errors-the-...

[3] http://www.dkriesel.com/en/blog/2013/0802_xerox-workcentres_...

Ellipsis753 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally I prefer the original font. The thicker letters would likely photocopy better too.

I use a Brother printer that cost me 40 2-4 years ago.I can buy 20 cartridges from Amazon that work perfectly for just 12.90 with shipping on Amazon Prime. That's 65p each.A single original Brother cartridge can easily cost 16.44 from Amazon or 7.62 each when bought in a pack of 4 (I think the largest quantity they sell together).So these copy cartridges are over 10x cheaper.

I've used them ever since I got this printer with no ill effects. The printer still makes create printouts and prints photos great too. I've heard that perhaps they break your printer faster than original cartridges but if this is true when I'm happy to just spend the extra 40 ever few years to just buy a new printer. I'll still have saved far more than that on ink alone (I print quite a lot).

If anything perhaps this is the solution to cheaper printing instead?

Also, random note. Once I went a Korean friends house and they had a normal inkjet printer with 4 gallons of ink in large pots of top of it. These had small tubes feeding down into the cartridges. They never had to replace the cartridges and they would never run out of ink. Apparently this is quite common in Korea although I've never seen it before or since myself in the UK.From googling it was something like this:http://www.amazon.co.uk/PrinterKnow%C2%AE-Compatible-Continu...Although they had much larger ink containers. It seems it's called a "continuous ink system".

It's pretty cool to look into anyway, even if you don't do a huge amount of printing.

al2o3cr 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't wanna be the asshole here, but something tells me the GPO is not paying HP prices for "ink" - they're almost certainly using toner-based systems that vastly reduce the incremental cost per page. According to the LoC, a single day's Congressional Record averages 272 pages, so printing 2500 of them A DAY is 500,000 pages. At that point, you'd be worrying about how many inkjet printers you were throwing away every day...
huhtenberg 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Same idea, widely ridiculed - http://www.ecofont.com
happywolf 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I would say a 14-year-old could achieve this is pretty impressive. While we give credit to his creativity and relative scientific investigation of this matter, things shouldn't be stretched too far as to recommend everybody to adopt this font everywhere. In this case, this seems the case. A printed document is meant to be read, and it is unclear if using the said font will have any impact on readability, and other usability issues.

Think about it: for the sake of optimizing ink use, the trivial solution is 1) Use the smallest font sizes possible 2) Use the 'thinnest' font that arguably uses the least ink. However optimizing a single varible in this way is clearly not desirable, because it defeats the goal of printing documents. A document is meant for someone to read, no? :)

300bps 20 hours ago 7 replies      
He's right: Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce, while the equivalent amount of Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75.

Most offices that I've seen use laser printers. Toner isn't cheap but it's cheaper by several orders of magnitude over the ink in an inkjet printer they're using for the comparison here.

the GPO's efforts to become more environmentally sustainable were focused on shifting content to the Web.

This is the right answer. It's a permanent solution to a long-term problem.

Teen to government: Change your typeface, save millions

What he's really saying is: "Spend millions changing your typeface, maybe save millions." There are laws that dictate how forms and paper must appear. Changing the font could have many unintended consequences that will need to be studied and tested for, probably by high-priced consultants. And of course you'll have to test if the new forms are as readable by low-vision citizens and people with other disabilities.

But have to hand it to a 14 year old at least thinking about this stuff.

lnanek2 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Yeah, but Garamond is tougher to read, and ink prices are artificial anyway. If less money is made on ink then printers will become more expensive again - or more likely the price will just be raised more since it doesn't have much relation to the cost anyway. Printer makers actually put chips in their ink cartridges to prevent refills and cost effective generics after all. It is more of a DRM thing.
ZeroGravitas 20 hours ago 1 reply      
How about: "Prevent predatory and abusive pricing shenanigans by large corporations and instead create some workable semblance of a free market, save millions for yourself, save many further millions for your employers/voters, and have the warm glow of doing your alloted job to some minimum standard".
zacinbusiness 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The government isn't going to abandon printing entirely, ever. There are too many people who need access to documents who don't have printers, too much information that is too sensitive to email back and forth, and too many government offices with small one-off forms that visitors need right away. Besides, let's look at the cost of electricity, maintenance, insurance for broken and stolen devices, upgrade costs, and how pissed people will be when X system gets hacked and their info is stollen. I'm sorry, but paper is here to stay for a very long time.
scrabble 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the school using ink, or toner? Toner is significantly cheaper, and there are still savings by switching fonts.
jmadsen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This was done by the UW-Green Bay years ago (among many, many others, I'm sure) and was featured in Dan Lewis' "Now I Know" newsletter about a week ago. ( http://nowiknow.com/ )

Still a worthwhile thing to report, I guess, but somehow manages to still be very "the media is clueless"

xbryanx 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Previously considered by the University of Wisconsin Green Bay:http://nowiknow.com/an-inkling-for-ink/
johnvschmitt 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Rather than attempt to get millions of people to manually change fonts, just make "Skimpy Print" a layer that fits in between the print button & the printer driver?


BTW: More ink is saved by image detection & changes than fonts. And, this is all half-baked.

dkrich 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos on thinking outside the box.

My $0.02 on why this wouldn't fly- he's examining the problem from a bird's eye view, ie, the entire government expenditure.

Documents, however, are printed by teams, usually small one's for whom even a 30% ink savings wouldn't make a dent compared to the money they spend elsewhere. Thus no motivation for each team, and thus no major movement to change behavior. If the teams are anything like ones that I've been a part of, a lead will look at a document printed in Garamond, proclaim he doesn't like it/can't read it, and ask for it to be reprinted in readable format.

yitchelle 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds of the dot matrix printer days, remember those? My 24 pin dot matrix printer had several print modes and one of them uses a 7x4 matrix to form a letter and less force for pushing the pins onto the ribbon.

I never really made any measurements, but I remember its documentation mentioned a savings of up to 40% of ink. The normal mode of the printer is NLQ [1], so it would be quite big when compare to NLQ.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot_matrix_printing#NLQ

colechristensen 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Clever kid, but not a real solution to a real problem. Printers using ink cost orders of magnitude more per page than printers using toner. Reworking all the governments forms would cost billions.
pkill17 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If only more of us thought in the same "minimal change, maximal effect" paradigm as this teen. Good work! Keep hacking!
bluedino 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Think of all the time that would be spent in meetings, all the time it would take to re-configure documents and processes to use the new fonts, then all the little stuff down the road like some OCR system doesn't pick the new font up, handling complaints from people that the new font is too hard to see...

Not to say it's not a good idea, there's just potentially a lot of side effects.

3rd3 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a good idea! While we're on it we could also focus on modernizing the overall bureaucracy by moving most services online.

Edit: Removed "Instead of", clarity

rexreed 17 hours ago 4 replies      
How could there possibly be "no" to this from the Fed. Govt? If you don't need to print, then don't print. If you print, then print in a way that saves ink / toner. Why not? How could the Federal Government possibly object? It's a "Yes And" solution (to use Improv Comedy lingo). If you need to print, do it in a way that saves money. There's no reason not to.
lyndonh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Candy crush saga run via Facebook seems to really hit the processor hard. It seems to me that we could save half the artic if we could ban it.
faddotio 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This 6th Grader Stood Up To Government To Tell Them Something... And I Think The Results Were Amazing.
billynomates1 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be about font licensing. Would the government save any money by using open fonts?
chrismcb 20 hours ago 1 reply      
While it may look better on paper, in the sample in article I'd much rather be reading a form printed with Times New Roman than Garamond. Seems a bit easier to read
Ryel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There's always going to be a more efficient way, but when nobody else is doing anything actionable, who cares?

Congrats to the kid, he got his 15 minutes of fame. I hope it will motivate him to continue improving this world. The benefit for the rest of us is that hopefully with all of this attention, someone more qualified will come along and actually start some significant changes.

yincrash 19 hours ago 1 reply      
two things:

1. is garamond less legible after photocopying than tnr?

2. why not choose a sans serif font. serifs are wasting ink.

collyw 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Actually I think a better cancel options built into printers / printer drivers would save far more. Loads of times that I have wanted to print one page, and ended up with a whole multi-page document.

And is it really necessary these days that Acrobat comes up with a different print dialog from Firefox, which is different from another one?

northisup 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Has the 6th grader ever make a photocopy in triplicate of Times New Roman vs Garamond?
semi_colon 19 hours ago 0 replies      
His best bet for making wide scale change is to have Microsoft change the default font on Microsoft Word. Probably the most cost-efficient change.
peter303 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Similar hack in Craigslist and Google: changing to a black ground saves a few watts per user per year. But this adds up to tons of C02 over all users.
palakchokshi 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Instead of changing the font on screen for documents can Printers have a setting that would allow all printing to happen in Garamond or one of the cheaper to print fonts? That way you have best of both worlds. Your screen fonts will be what you like while your printed font will be the cheaper one.
floatboth 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Garamond also looks good. I hate Times New Roman.
neil1 18 hours ago 0 replies      
That is the highest price for ink and not the price that government's or companies who buy in bulk pay.
seventytwo 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, I wish I would have had that kind of support and encouragement by my school when I was 14. They were far more concerned with streamlining for the state standardized testing. I maxed out their math assessment test and all I got was a pat on the back... "Meh, fuck it", I learned...
Jugurtha 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Just as an exercise, do Ctrl+F in your browser and count how many "but" there are in this thread.

He's a good kid, but..

It's nice, but..

The "yes, but" men attack. The knack to find problems in each solution..

gesman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
When he'll be 18, he'll start seeing that it's easier to change the government than convincing government to change anything.
JensRantil 20 hours ago 0 replies      
admstockdale 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I shared this with my students. We're learning about typefaces and graphic design right now. Some of these comments picking about a 6th grader are pitiful. We want to encourage these ways of thinking -- not nitpick
ozh 21 hours ago 3 replies      
yannk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we redo this study with Comic Sans MS?
macco 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Look at relative numbers, not absolute. This saves next to nothing. Sorry.
olssy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
400 million saved is 400 million removed from the economy, isn't it?
drakaal 17 hours ago 0 replies      
There are legal requirements to publish many things as Paper, so the Fed will be in the business of printing for a long time.

I think for this solution to work they should actually consider even more extreme type faces, font sizes, and shades of gray. How are we to know that just making the letters "weight" lower wouldn't have the same effect?Clearly we should commission a team of 12 experts to study which fonts cost the most to print, their legibility by a group of 100 Americans who represent the diverse age and backgrounds of American Citizens, and how fast they can read them, factoring their average wage to also value the man power cost of the new fonts.

To this end I'm submitting to my senator a proposal that outlines a $1 billion earmark for research in to the cost savings available through a mandate to use an alternate, but yet undetermined font. Additionally to avoid copyright issues on fonts, $4 billion will be set aside to find a team to create a new public domain font that will be accessible to anyone.

In as soon as 5 years we should have a new font selected, and as early as 2030 all new documents will be printed in the new font. Lastly all existing public works will be reprinted in the new font. We expect completion of this project by 2050.

By 2050 the war with Russia, and China should be over, and the United States of the Northern Hemisphere will be operating in only one language Chinglussian. All documents will be printed in this.

Adding the additional characters that Chinglussian requires should only cost another 8 Bitcoin. (the rate of inflation on BTC is expected to be practically infinite as all the worlds wealth packs in to 40M coins). We have already reserved those 8 Bitcoins, so as long as they aren't lent to another group in the next 35 years the proposed budget will account for that.

antidaily 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's build a smarter planet.
amykhar 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Of course, the ink-sellers would just promptly raise their prices. But, it's still a very creative way to approach the budget issue.
pekk 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This title is terrible, but it might be the content too. Local teen has one weird trick! The big bad government hates him!
badman_ting 19 hours ago 0 replies      
5-Year-Old to government: Your employees would be happier if you gave them cookies
Toward a Pill That Helps Us Learn as Fast as Kids theatlantic.com
41 points by coltr  6 hours ago   36 comments top 7
tomstokes 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Before anyone considers experimenting with Donepezil or other acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in hopes of enhancing their learning, it should be noted that there are plenty of unknowns and a few serious concerns around altering the cholinesterase levels of otherwise healthy adults.

Briefly: Acetylcholinesterase terminates acetylcholine neurotransmission events by deactivating the acetylcholine, allowing it to be reused. An acetylcholinesterase inhibitor such as the Donepezil used in the article inhibits the action of acetylcholinesterase, which in turn enhances acetylcholine neurotransmission in a dose-dependent manner.

Highly potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are used as poisons (Sarin gas, for example) because they interfere with all of the acetylcholine-based neurotransmission that happens throughout your brain and body. Less potent inhibitors are used at lower doses in Alzheimer's disease as it is hoped that they will improve cognitive function and perhaps even slow disease progression. Thus far the results have been mixed.

Now the bad news: Cholinergic neurotransmission is widespread through your brain and your body. Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are a very blunt and non-specific way to manipulate that neurotransmission. Unfortunately, you can't just enhance memory formation and learning related neurotransmission, you amplifiy cholinergic transmission indiscriminately everywhere. As a result, it's possible to get some quite negative effects as well. There are reports of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors causing or at least inducing PTSD-like symptoms ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17308243 ). Furthermore, we just don't know the long-term effects of these medications on young, healthy adults as they've primarily been studied in elderly populations.

In short: It's potentially very unwise to use Donepezil or similar medications for the purposes of enhancing your learning or your memory. Leave the experimentation to the carefully controlled studies until more is known on these powerful substances.

b6 5 hours ago 3 replies      
> children younger than about 7 can pick up new skills, like language and music, much faster than adults can.

I don't think this is true. I think a determined adult learns faster.

revelation 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Donepezil is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it increases the amount of acetylcholine circulating around nerve endings.

They just casually put that there, but I don't think most readers will be exactly familiar with what that means? It's basically raising the baselevel of what is one of the most common neurotransmitters. It's a carpet-bomb, not the targeted strike the article makes it out to be.

sanxiyn 4 hours ago 1 reply      
In reinforcement learning, you are supposed to have large learning rate at the beginning and smaller and smaller learning rate as you go, eventually reaching zero. It would make sense for brain to use similar strategy.

In unusual cases temporarily tweaking learning rate can be profitable, and it could apply to brain too.

hydralist 3 hours ago 1 reply      
take molly
patriciawright 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm always amazed how we don't look at our diets before resorting to drugs to treat conditions.

What you eat has the largest effect on your brain chemistry.

mck- 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Limitless. Go watch it if you haven't
Toward a better programming chris-granger.com
206 points by ibdknox  16 hours ago   140 comments top 42
kens 14 hours ago 8 replies      
I alternate between thinking that programming has improved tremendously in the past 30 years, and thinking that programming has gone nowhere.

On the positive side, things that were cutting-edge hard problems in the 80s are now homework assignments or fun side projects. For instance, write a ray tracer, a spreadsheet, Tetris, or an interactive GUI.

On the negative side, there seems to be a huge amount of stagnation in programming languages and environments. People are still typing the same Unix commands into 25x80 terminal windows. People are still using vi to edit programs as sequential lines of text in files using languages from the 80s (C++) or 90s (Java). If you look at programming the Eniac with patch cords, we're obviously a huge leap beyond that. But if you look at programming in Fortran, what we do now isn't much more advanced. You'd think that given the insane increases in hardware performance from Moore's law, that programming should be a lot more advanced.

Thinking of Paul Graham's essay "What you can't say", if someone came from the future I expect they would find our current programming practices ridiculous. That essay focuses on things people don't say because of conformity and moral forces. But I think just as big an issue is things people don't say because they literally can't say them - the vocabulary and ideas don't exist. That's my problem - I can see something is very wrong with programming, but I don't know how to explain it.

freyrs3 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This strikes me as armchair philosophizing about the nature of programming language design. Programming languages are not intentionally complex in most cases, they're complex because the problems they solve are genuinely hard and not because we've artificially made them that way.

There is always a need for two types of languages, higher level domain languages and general purpose languages. Building general purpose languages is a process of trying to build abstractions that always have a well-defined translation into something the machine understands. It's all about the cold hard facts of logic, hardware and constraints. Domain languages on the other hand do exactly what he describes, "a way of encoding thought such that the computer can help us", such as Excel or Matlab, etc. If you're free from the constraint of having to compile arbitrary programs to physical machines and can instead focus on translating a small set of programs to an abstract machine then the way you approach the language design is entirely different and the problems you encounter are much different and often more shallow.

What I strongly disagree with is claiming that the complexities that plague general purpose languages are somehow mitigated by building more domain specific languages. Let's not forget that "programming" runs the whole gamut from embedded systems programming in assembly all the way to very high level theorem proving in Coq and understanding anything about the nature of that entire spectrum is difficult indeed.

RogerL 14 hours ago 3 replies      
There's a reason the game Pictionary is hard, despite the "a picture is worth a thousand words" saying. And that is that images, while evocative, are not very precise. Try to draw how you feel.

If you are using card[0][12] to refer to Card::AceSpades, well, time to learn enums or named constants. If, on the other hand, the array can be sorted, shuffled, and so on, what value is it to show an image of a specific state in my code?

There's a reason we don't use symbolic representation of equations, and it has nothing to do with ASCII. It's because this is implemented on a processor that simulates a continuous value with a discrete value, which introduces all kinds of trade offs. We have a live thread on that now: why is aaaaaa not (aaa)(aaa). I need to be able to represent exactly how the computation is done. If I don't care, there is Mathematica, and and the like, to be sure.

If you disagree with me, please post your response in the form of an image. And then we will have a discussion with how powerful textual representation actually is. I'll use words, you use pictures. Be specific.

j2kun 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm concerned about Chris's desire to express mathematical formulas directly in an editing environment.

Coming from a mathematician with more than enough programming experience under his belt, programming is far more rigorous than mathematics. The reason nobody writes math in code is not because of ASCII, and it's not even because of the low-level hardware as someone else mentioned. It's because math is so jam-packed with overloaded operators and ad hoc notation that it would be an impossible feat to standardize any nontrivial subset of it. This is largely because mathematical notation is designed for compactness, so that mathematicians don't have to write down so much crap when trying to express their ideas. Your vision is about accessibility and transparency and focusing on problem solving. Making people pack and unpack mathematical notation to understand what their program is doing goes against all three of those!

So where is this coming from?

PS. I suppose you could do something like, have layovers/mouseovers on the typeset math that give a description of the variables, or something like that, but still sum(L) / len(L) is so much simpler and more descriptive than \sigma x_i / n

Detrus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Toward a better computer UI

The Aurora demo did not look like a big improvement until maybe http://youtu.be/L6iUm_Cqx2s?t=7m54s where the TodoMVC demo beats even Polymer in LOC count and readability.

I've been thinking of similar new "programming" as the main computer UI, to ensure it's easy to use and the main UI people know. Forget Steve Jobs and XEROX, they threw out the baby with the bath water.

Using a computer is really calling some functions, typing some text input in between, calling some more.

Doing a few common tasks today is

  opening a web browser  clicking Email  reading some  replying  getting a reply back, possibly a notification  clicking HN  commenting on an article in a totally different UI than email  going to threads tab manually to see any response  
And the same yet annoyingly different UI deal on another forum, on youtube, facebook, etc. Just imagine what the least skilled computer users could do if you gave them a computing interface that didn't reflect the world of fiefdoms that creates it.

FaceTwitterEtsyRedditHN fiefdoms proliferate because of the separation between the XEROX GUI and calling a bunch of functions in Command Line. Siri and similar AI agents are the next step in simple UIs. What people really want to do is

  tell Dustin you don't agree with his assessment of Facebook's UI changes  type/voice your disagreement  share with public
And when you send Dustin and his circle of acquaintances a more private message, you

  type it  share message with Dustin and his circle of designers/hackers
To figure out if more people agreed with you or Dustin

  sentiment analysis of comments about Dustin's article compared to mine
That should be the UI more or less. Implement it however, natural language, Siri AI, a neat collection of functions.

Today's UI would involve going to a cute blog service because it has a proper visual template. This requires being one of the cool kids and knowing of this service. Then going to Goolge+ or email for the more private message. Then opening up an IDE or some text sentiment API and going through their whole other world of incantations.

Our glue/CRUD programming is a mess because using computers in general is a mess.

zwieback 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting work and I really liked the LightTable video but I think there's a reason these types of environments haven't taken off.

To understand why programming remains hard it just takes a few minutes of working on a lower-level system, something that does a little I/O or has a couple of concurrent events, maybe an interrupt or two. I cannot envision a live system that would allow me to debug those systems very well, which is not to say current tools couldn't be improved upon.

One thing I've noticed working with embedded ARM systems is that we now have instruction and sometimes data trace debuggers that let us rewind the execution of a buggy program to some extent. The debugger workstations are an order of magnitude more powerful than the observed system so we can do amazing things with our trace probes. However, high-level software would need debugging systems an order of magnitude more powerful than the client they debug as well.

mamcx 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Natural language (like english, spanish) show why this kind of thinking lead to nowhere, and why a programming language is more like english than like glyphs.

Sometime the post not say: We want to make a program about everything. To make that possible, is necesary a way to express everything that could be need to be communicate. Words/Alphabet provide the best way.

In a normal language, when a culture discover something (let say, internet) and before don't exist words to describe internet-things then it "pop" from nowhere to existence. Write language have this ability in better ways than glyphs.

In programming, if we need a way to express how loop things, then will "pop" from nowhere that "FOR x IN Y" is how that will be.

Words are more flexible. Are cheap to write. Faster to communicate and cross boundaries.

But of course that have a Editor helper so a HEX value could be show as a color is neat - But then if a HEX value is NOT a color?, then you need a very strong type system, and I not see how build one better than with words.

andrewl 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Chris' criticisms of the current state of programming remind me of Alan Kay's quote, "Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves."

Thank you for all the work on Light Table, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the team does with Aurora.

jostylr 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Both the indirect and incidentally complex can be helped with literate programming. We have been telling stories for thousands of years and the idea of literate programming is to facilitate that. We do not just tell them in a linear order, but jump around in whatever way makes sense. It is about understanding the context of the code which can be hard.

But the problem of being unobservable is harder. Literate programming might help in making chunks more accessible for understanding/replacing/toggling, but live flow forwards-backwards, it would not. But I have recently coded up an event library that logs the flow of the program nicely. Used appropriately, it probably could be used to step in and out as well.

I am not convinced that radical new tools are needed. We just have to be true to our nature as storytellers.

I find it puzzling why he talks about events as being problems. They seem like ideal ways of handling disjointed states. Isn't that how we organize our own ways?

I also find it puzzling to promote Excel's model. I find it horrendous. People have done very complex things with it which are fragile and incomprehensible. With code, you can read it and figure it out; literate programming helps this tremendously. But with something like Excel or XCode's interface builder, the structure is obscured and is very fragile. Spreadsheets are great for data entry, but not for programming-type tasks.

I think creation is rather easy; it is maintenance that is hard. And for that, you need to understand the code.

sold 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The standard deviation is a poor example IMO, in many languages you can get much closer to mathematical notation.

    def stddev(x):        avg = sum(x)/len(x)        return sqrt(sum((xi-avg)**2 for xi in x) / len(x))    stddev xs = let avg = sum xs / length xs                in sqrt $ sum [(x-avg)**2 | x <- xs] / length xs

chenglou 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a tremendous respect for people who dare to dream big despite all cynicism and common assumptions, and especially people who have the skills to actually make the changes. Please keep doing the work you're doing.
SlyShy 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Wolfram Language addresses a lot of these points. Equations and images both get treated symbolically, so we can manipulate them the same way we manipulate the rest of the "code" (data).
crusso 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I liked this article. I particularly liked the way the author attacked the problem by clearing his notions of what programming is and attempting to come at it from a new angle. I'll be interested to see what his group comes up with.

That said, I think that fundamentally the problem isn't with programming, it's with US. :) Human beings are imprecise, easily confused by complexity, unable to keep more than a couple of things in mind at a time, can't think well in dimensions beyond 3 (if that), unable to work easily with abstractions, etc. Yet we're giving instructions to computers which are (in their own way) many orders of magnitude better at those tasks.

Short of AI that's able to contextually understand what we're telling them to do, my intuition is that the situation is only going to improve incrementally.

jonahx 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I love seeing the challenges of programming analyzed from this high-level perspective, and I love Chris's vision.

I thought the `person.walk()` example, however, was misplaced. The whole point of encapsulation is to avoid thinking about internal details, so if you are criticizing encapsulation for hiding internal details you are saying that encapsulation never has any legitimate use.

I was left wondering if that was Chris's position, but convinced it couldn't be.

michaelsbradley 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Chris, have you read Prof. David Harel's[1] essay Can Programming be Liberated, Period?[2]

The sentiments expressed in the conclusion of Harel's article Statecharts in the Making: A Personal Account[3] really jumped out at me last year. When I read your blog post, I got the impression you are reaching related conclusions:

"If asked about the lessons to be learned from the statecharts story, I would definitely put tool support for executability and experience in real-world use at the top of the list. Too much computer science research on languages, methodologies, and semantics never finds its way into the real world, even in the long term, because these two issues do not get sufficient priority.

One of the most interesting aspects of this story is the fact that the work was not done in an academic tower, inventing something and trying to push it down the throats of real-world engineers. It was done by going into the lion's den, working with the people in industry. This is something I would not hesitate to recommend to young researchers; in order to affect the real world, one must go there and roll up one's sleeves. One secret is to try to get a handle on the thought processes of the engineers doing the real work and who will ultimately use these ideas and tools. In my case, they were the avionics engineers, and when I do biological modeling, they are biologists. If what you come up with does not jibe with how they think, they will not use it. It's that simple."

[1] http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~harel/papers.html

[2] http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~harel/papers/LiberatingPro...

[3] http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~harel/papers/Statecharts.H...

jakejake 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked the part of the article concerning "what is programming" and how we seemingly see ourselves plumbers and glue makers - mashing together various parts and trying to get them to work.

I felt that the article takes a somewhat depressing view. Sure, these days we probably do all spend a lot of time getting two pieces of code written by others to work together. The article suggests there's no fun or creativity in that, but I find it plenty interesting. I see it as standing on the shoulders of giants, rather than just glumly fitting pipes together. It's the payoff of reusable code and modular systems. I happily use pre-made web servers, operating systems, network stack, code libraries etc. Even though it can be frustrating at times when things don't work, in the end my creations wouldn't even be possible without these things.

programminggeek 6 hours ago 0 replies      
You want better programming? Get better requirements and less complexity. Programming languages and IDE's are part of the problem, but a lot of the problems come from the actual program requirements.

In many cases, it's the edge cases and feature creep that makes software genuinely terrible and by the time you layer in all that knowledge, it is a mess.

I don't care if you use VIM, EMACS, Visual Studio, or even some fancy graphical programming system. Complexity is complexity and managing and implementing that complexity is a complex thing.

Until we have tools to better manage complexity, we will have messes and the best tool to manage complexity are communication related, not software related.

bachback 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Leibniz wrote in 1666:"We have spoken of the art of complication of the sciences, i.e., of inventive logic... But when the tables of categories of our art of complication have been formed, something greater will emerge. For let the first terms, of the combination of which all others consist, be designated by signs; these signs will be a kind of alphabet. It will be convenient for the signs to be as natural as possiblee.g., for one, a point; for numbers, points; for the relations of one entity with another, lines; for the variation of angles and of extremities in lines, kinds of relations. If these are correctly and ingeniously established, this universal writing will be as easy as it is common,and will be capable of being read without any dictionary; at the same time, a fundamental knowledge of all things will be obtained. The whole of such a writing will be made of geometrical figures, as it were, and of a kind of pictures just as the ancient Egyptians did, and the Chinese do today. Their pictures, however, are not reduced to a fixed alphabet... with the result that a tremendous strain on the memory is necessary, which is the contrary of what we propose"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characteristica_universalis
anaphor 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Just a few quotes from Alan Perlis:

There will always be things we wish to say in our programs that in all known languages can only be said poorly.

Re graphics: A picture is worth 10K words - but only those to describe the picture. Hardly any sets of 10K words can be adequately described with pictures.

Make no mistake about it: Computers process numbers - not symbols. We measure our understanding (and control) by the extent to which we can arithmetize an activity.

hibikir 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There are entire families of problems that would be better solved with a far more visual approach to code. For instance, worrydream has some UX concepts on learnable programming that just feel much better than what we use today.

We could do similar things to visualize actor systems, handle database manipulation and the like. The problem is that all we are really doing is asking for visualization aids that are only good at small things, and we have to build them, one at a time. Without general purpose visualizations, we need toolsets to build visualizations, which needs more tools. It's tools all the way down.

You can build tools for a narrow niche, just like the lispers just build their DSLs for each individual problem. But even in a world without a sea of silly parenthesis and a syntax that is built for compilers, not humans, under every single line of easy, readable, domain-centric code lies library code that is 100% incidental complexity, and we can't get rid of it.

Languages are hard. Writing code that attempts to be its own language is harder still. But those facts are not really the problem: They are a symptom. The real problem is that we are not equipped to deal with the detail we need to do our jobs.

Let's take, for instance, our carefree friends that want to build contracts on top of Bitcoin, by making them executable. I am sure a whole lot of people here realize their folly: The problem is that no problem that is really worth putting into a contract is well defined enough to turn it into code. We work with a level of ambiguity that our computers can't deal with. So what we are doing, build libraries on top of libraries, each a bit better, is about as good a job as we can do.

I do see how, for very specific domains, we can find highly reusable, visual high level abstractions. But the effort required to build that, with the best tools out there, just doesn't make any practical sense for a very narrow domain: We can build it, but there is no ROI.

I think the best we can do today is to, instead of concentrate so much on how shiny each new tool really is, to go back to the real basics of what makes a program work. The same things that made old C programs readable works just as well in Scala, but without half the boilerplate. We just have to forget about how exciting the new toys can be, or how smart they can make us feel, and evaluate them just on the basis of how can they really help us solve problems faster. Applying proper technique, like having code that has a narrative and consistent abstraction levels, will help us build tools faster, and therefore make it cheaper to, eventually, allow for more useful general purpose visualization plugins.

qnaal 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hate to break it to you people, but rms was always right- the #1 reason why programming sucks is that everyone wants complete control over all of the bullshit they threw together and thought they could sell.

Imagine an environment like a lisp machine, where all the code you run is open and available for you to inspect and edit.Imagine a vast indexed, cross-referenced, and mass-moderated collection of algorithm implementations and code snippets for every kind of project that's ever been worked on, at your fingertips.

Discussing how we might want slightly better ways to write and view the code we have written is ignoring the elephant problem- that everything you write has probably been written cleaner and more efficiently several times before.

If you don't think that's fucked up, think about this:The only reason to lock down your code is an economic one, despite that all the code being made freely usable would massively increase the total economic value of the software ecosystem.

agentultra 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Visual representations are not terribly hard to come by in this day any age. It's almost trivial to write a little script that can visualize your tree data-structures or relations. Plenty of good environments allow us to mingle all kinds of data.

I'm more interested in programs that understand programs and their run-time characteristics. It'd be nice to query a system that could predict regressions in key performance characteristics based on a proposed change (something like a constraint propagation solver on a data-flow graph of continuous domains); even in the face of ambiguous type information. Something like a nest of intelligent agents that can handle the complexity of implementation issues in concert with a human operator. We have a lot of these tools now but they're still so primitive.

phantomb 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Historically it has been easy to claim that programming is merely incidentally complex but hard to actually produce working techniques that can dispel the complexity.

The truth is that programming is one of the most complex human undertakings by nature, and many of the difficulties faced by programmers - such as the invisible and unvisualizable nature of software - are intractable.

There are still no silver bullets.


JoelOtter 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Forgive me if my understanding is totally out of whack, but it seems here that the writer is calling for an additional layer of abstraction in programming - type systems being an example.

While in some cases that would be great, I'm not entirely sure more abstraction is what I want. Having a decent understanding of the different layers involved, from logic gates right up to high-level languages, has helped me tremendously as a programmer. For example, when writing in C, because I know some of the optimisations GCC makes, I know where to sacrifice efficiency for readability because the compiler will optimise it out anyway. I would worry that adding more abstraction will create more excuses not to delve into the inner workings, which wouldn't be to a programmer's benefit. Interested to hear thoughts on this!

analyst74 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I am optimistic about our field.

Things have not stayed stale for the past 20~30 years, in fact, state of programming have not stayed stale even in the recent 10 years.

We've been progressively solving problems we face, inventing tools, languages, frameworks to make our lives easier. Which further allows us to solve more complicated problems, or similar problems faster.

Problems we face now, like concurrency, big data, lack of cheap programmers to solve business problems were not even problems before, they are now, because they are possible now.

Once we solve those problems of today, we will face new problems, I don't know what they would be, but I am certain many of them would be problems we consider impractical or even impossible today.

Locke1689 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The author is correct that programming is currently under-addressing a specific set of use cases: solving problems with conceptually simple models in equally simple ways; in other words, "keep simple programs simple."

However, thinking about computation as only simple programs minimizes the opportunities in the opposite domain: using computation to supplement the inherently fragile and limited modeling that human brains can perform.

While presenting simplicity and understanding can help very much in realizing a simple mental model as a program, it won't help if the program being written is fundamentally beyond the capability of a human brain to model.

The overall approach is very valuable. Tooling can greatly assist both goals, but the tooling one chooses in each domain will vary greatly.

clavalle 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm intrigued.

This is a problem that many, many very smart people have spent careers on. Putting out a teaser post is brave and I have to believe you know what you are doing.

I am looking forward to the first taste. Do you have an ETA ?

datawander 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I wholly agree with this article. The exact point the author is getting at is something that I have been trying to say, but rather inarticulately (probably because I didn't actually go out and survey people and define "what is programming and what is wrong with it").

I really can't wait for programming to be more than just if statements and thinking about code as a grouping of ascii files and glueing libraries together. Things like Akka are nice steps in that direction.

DennisP 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope the production release will be editable by keyboard alone, instead of needing the mouse for every little thing.
3rd3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a lot could be won by reducing complexity of the systems. In modern operating systems we stack too many abstraction layers ontop of each other. Emacs is a great example of a development environment which prevents a lot of complexity because everything is written in one language (Emacs Lisp), functions are available throughout the system, one can rewrite functions at runtime and one can easily pinpoint the source code of any function with the find-function command. It would actually be great to have an operating system as simple, extensible and flexible.
NAFV_P 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> Writing a program is an error-prone exercise in translation. Even math, from which our programming languages are born, has to be translated into something like this:

The article then compares some verbose C++ with a mathematical equation. That is hardly a fair comparison, the C++ code can be written and read by a human in a text editor, right click the equation > inspect element ... it's a gif. I loaded the gif into a text editor, it's hardcore gibberish.

Personally, I would stick with the verbose C++.

3rd3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this article forgot to emphasize the act of reading documentation which probably takes 25% to 50% of the time programming. I think Google and StackOverflow already greatly improved it but maybe there is still room for improvement. Maybe one can crowd source code snippets in a huge Wikipedia-like repository for various languages. Im imagining a context-sensitive auto-complete and search tool in which one can quickly browse this repository of code snippets which all are prepared to easily adapt to existing variables and function names.
dude42 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly I feel that LT has jumped the shark at this point. What started off as a cool new take on code editors has now somehow turned into a grand view of how to "fix programming". I can get behind an editor not based around text files, or one that allows for easy extensbility. But I can't stand behind some project that tries to "fix everything".

As each new version of LT comes out I feel that it's suffering more and more from a clear lack of direction. And that makes me sad.

lstroud 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems reminiscent of the "wolfram language" stuff a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps it's a trend, but I can't shake the feeling like I am seeing a rehash of the 4GL fiasco of the 90s.

I have a lot of respect for Chris. So, I hope I am wrong.

e12e 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering, did the author ever play with Smalltalk/Self? Essentially those environments let you interact with objects directly, in about as much as makes sense. Seems a good fit for the "card game" complaint.

Doesn't help with the mathematical notation, though (Although it would be possible to do something about that, I suppose).

AdrianRossouw 11 hours ago 0 replies      
man. i've been thinking about this stuff a lot.

especially after I saw rich hickey's presentation "simple made easy" (my notes on it [1]).

I'm actually on a mission now to find ways to do things that are more straight forward. One of my finds is [2] 'microservices', which I think will resonate with how I perceive software these days.

[1] http://daemon.co.za/2014/03/simple-and-easy-vocabulary-to-de...[2] http://martinfowler.com/articles/microservices.html

sdgsdgsdg 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Programming is taking the patterns which make up a thought and approximate them in the patterns which can be expressed in a programming language. Sometimes the thoughts we have are not easily expressed in the patterns of the computer language which we write in. What is needed is a computer language which pulls the patterns from our thoughts and allows them to be used within the computer language. In other words we need to automatically determine the correct language in which to express the particular problem a user is trying to solve. This is AI, we need compression - modularisation of phase space through time. The only way to bring about the paradigm shift he is describing in any real sense is to apply machine learning to programming.
ilaksh 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I have been saying stuff like this for years, although not as eloquently or detailed. But now Chris Granger is saying it, and no one can say he's not a "real" programmer, so you have to listen.

I think it boils down to a cultural failure, like the article mentions at the end. For example, I am a programmer myself. Which means that I generate and work with lots of static, cryptic colorful ASCII text program sources. If I stop doing that, I'm not a programmer anymore. By definition. I really think that is the definition of programming, and that is the big issue.

I wonder if the current version of Aurora derives any inspiration from "intentional programming"?

Also wonder when we can see a demo of the new version.

leishulang 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds so philosophical ... almost sounds like something to do with how to get strong A.I and expecting some sort of universal answer ... such as 42.
DanielBMarkham 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been lucky to write at least one small application per year, although most of my work is now on the creative side: books, videos, web pages, and such.

So I find myself getting "cold" and then coming back into it. The thing about taking a week to set up a dev environment is spot on. It's completely insane that it should take a week of work just to sit down and write a for-next loop or change a button's text somewhere.

The problem with programming is simple: it's full of programmers. So every damn little thing they do, they generalize and then make into a library. Software providers keep making languages do more -- and become correspondingly more complex.

When I switched to Ocaml and F# a few years ago, I was astounded at how little I use most of the crap clogging up my programming system. I also found that while writing an app, I'd create a couple dozen functions. I'd use a couple dozen more from the stock libraries. And that was it. 30-40 symbols in my head and I was solving real-world problems making people happy.

Compare that to the mess you can get into just getting started in an environment like C++. Crazy stuff.

There's also a serious structural problem with OOP itself. Instead of hiding complexity and providing black-box components to clients, we're creating semi-opaque non-intuitive messes of "wires". A lot of what I'm seeing people upset about in the industry, from TDD to stuff like this post, has its roots in OOP.

Having said all that and agreeing with the author, I'm a bit lost as to just what the heck he is ranting on about. I look forward to seeing more real tangible stuff -- I understand he's working on it. Best of luck.

aoakenfo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
demonstrates an immediate connection with their tool: http://vimeo.com/36579366
jeffbr13 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I love Chris Granger's work, and LightTable, but jeeez my eyes were going weird by the "Chasing Local Maxima" section.

Turn the contrast down!

The startup freelancer ghost.io
55 points by vassvdm  8 hours ago   24 comments top 6
eldavido 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Startups are cash-poor, prone to bankruptcy, and full of insane deadlines requiring people to pull small miracles just to make payroll.

Would love to hear more about what makes them ideal freelance clients. As a former contractor/freelancer, I specifically made a point of staying far, far away from these kinds of clients.

krmmalik 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think startups are a viable option for many types of freelancers now.

I've been freelancing in mentoring start-ups for the last 6 months. Everyone told me startups have no money and that it's a fruitless pursuit but here i am talking to 1 new startup almost every single day.

I always give them the first session free (no time limit) and more than two-thirds come back for a paid session.

I've mentored around 60 startups in the last 3 months alone (all around the globe).

Most fun i've ever heard. Incredibly rewarding. In fact, i'm now working on building an actual mentoring platform.

I spend the rest of my time consulting small to medium size companies.

j4pe 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I am in the exact same line of work as the author. I can't imagine working the way he describes.

It's great that he's made this lifestyle work for him, but I'm not convinced I'd like to be one of his clients. A technology company with a developer on staff one day per week? Coordinating a project is difficult enough when everybody is full-time. ("Sure thing, I'll tackle that bug in six days" is not a recipe for a functional sprint.)

My solution has been to charge hard at whatever milestone I've committed to, working as a de facto team member, and then taking the next month off. This works well with my lifestyle, since I try to take each project in a new city and I live cheaply.

What I would say to the author: you want fulfilling? Participate in the optimistic urgency of a new tech venture fully - then take your time off when you've finished. If you can't afford to spend that much time away from developing your startup, then how can you expect your clients to wait while you take time off from theirs?

ejain 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm also thinking about doing some freelance work right now.

One thing I'm unsure about is if it's wise to do consulting in the same space my startup is in (fitness & health data aggregation and analysis), or if I should stick to unrelated technical work (java, elasticsearch, angularjs), to avoid potential trouble with non-compete agreements and such.

danieltillett 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I am amazed that you can get by on 10 hours of work per week.
lazyatom 6 hours ago 1 reply      
(You may wish to remove the 'Welcome to Ghost' post on your blog)
Google: 80% of news organisations are targeted by state hackers theguardian.com
42 points by chiachun  7 hours ago   discuss
Naurs Programming as Theory Building (2011) catenary.wordpress.com
10 points by DanielRibeiro  2 hours ago   1 comment top
gruseom 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A classic, one of the most insightful things ever written about programming, and way ahead of its time (1985).

The actual paper is at http://alistair.cockburn.us/ASD+book+extract%3A+%22Naur,+Ehn...

What Naur means by "theory" is some combination of what we'd now call "model" and "design".

Naur, of course, put the N in BNF and played a leading role in creating Algol.

Warp, a fast preprocessor for C and C++ facebook.com
146 points by jamesgpearce  15 hours ago   107 comments top 8
WalterBright 15 hours ago 8 replies      
Walter here (author of Warp). AMA about Warp.
zenbowman 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Must say facebook has quite the lineup of all-star programmers:

- Carmack

- Abrash

- Alexandrescu

- Kent Beck

Cannot say I'm not a little jelly of those who get to spend time with these fine gents.


mfonda 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Great line from the interview:

> WB: I can guarantee that you are wrong about where your code is spending most of its time if you haven't run a profiler on it.

Definitely a good thing for all programmers to think about!

dllthomas 14 hours ago 1 reply      
So, to be clear, this is a reimplementation of cpp?
jevinskie 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Are precompiled headers and the performance increase from switching to clang[0] not enough?

[0]: http://clang.llvm.org/features.html#performance

wehadfun 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Could any of this be used to improve comiling speed in other languages?
yetanotherphd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing that really sped up my compiler was eating a ketogenic diet, and eliminating preprocessed foods.
aDevilInMe 15 hours ago 9 replies      
Does Andrei have a sticky D button on his keyboard? He seems to mention it in every other sentence, where as I thought this post was about C and C++.

I would ask if there are any improvements between using wrap or just using clang.

Show HN: Route Optimization API routific.com
44 points by mck-  8 hours ago   18 comments top 9
randomdrake 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've never heard of Routific. Linking to your API, I was immediately intrigued and went to go visit the home page[1] of your product.

I have to say: well executed. This is a really good representation of how well Bootstrap can be implemented. From Retina display to mobile, the layout was clearly well thought-out and considered.

Interesting product and well-done design. Stuck this in the file for not only routing issues, but design and implementation inspiration.

[1] - https://www.routific.com

dewey 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Small bug: If you are searching for a route between two places in Europe the map is still focusing on america and not moving to europe, you just see the map pin moving on the right hand side of the map.
650REDHAIR 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I work with a non profit that would benefit from this so much.

They employ 600+ staff serving over a thousand persons with disabilities and are currently starting their own transit arm to support the agency. They operate something like 2 dozen buses and large vans across 50+ recurring destinations.

Xorlev 7 hours ago 2 replies      
"Research shows our routes are up to 20% shorter" shorter than what? Which research?

You're lacking a lot of copy, but the idea is pretty good. Niche, but good. I'm interested to see if people will pay for it.

Tarang 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm actually looking for something like this!

No mention of pricing yet, though. Are there plans which aren't per user/truck, such as if we're putting it in our SaaS?

vsviridov 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
Vancouverites, by the looks of it? :)
rectangletangle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The site looks particularly nice, and the service looks like it could be useful.
diasks2 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Site looks great and it was easy to understand the service. However, I went looking for pricing and couldn't find it. My guess is that maybe you are testing now to see what type of demand there might be? I think some type of note on pricing would be helpful (even if it is somethings like "currently free for beta testers but we plan to start charging from x date").
jayvanguard 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Just what I'm looking for, thanks.
Ink trap wikipedia.org
170 points by mxfh  17 hours ago   39 comments top 12
bajsejohannes 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember learning about ink traps when Opera changed logo [1]. It was quite controversial among font nerds that the font used to write "software" had ink traps, since it was mainly to be used for screen and not print. Nobody else cared, of course.

[1] http://www.operasoftware.com/content/download/423/33204/vers...

praptak 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Nice. This means a true WYSIWYG application should simulate ink flow! Does any existing app have such feature?
mdip 16 hours ago 0 replies      
When I was younger, I always wondered what the big deal is with creating fonts and stupidly thought I could throw together something on my own without any training.

These sorts of things fascinate me in that the average non-designer has little knowledge over the intricacies involved in producing a beautiful typeface that scales to many dimensions accurately and produces a printout that works around the physical limitations of ink. My attempt to create a typeface resulted in a font that looked very good at 10pt and started to fall apart a few points larger or smaller. I gave up and decided to leave that to the professionals. Of course, back then, there weren't large collections of high quality and free fonts sponsored by large players like Google and Microsoft, so the novelty of having a monospaced programming/terminal font with just the right size dot in the zero, slash in the 7 and serifed 1 was worth the few days of nerding around to make a janked up version I could enjoy at precisely the size I wanted to see it.

jongala 14 hours ago 2 replies      
NBC used a face with insanely big ink traps in their titles for Sochi coverage. It looked like a modified version of Stratum. They looked really strange to me on screen. I'll see if I can find some samples.

EDIT: OK, check these out:http://i.imgur.com/0ovnO49.png

halflings 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This really reminds me of the way you cut a metal sheet (with lasers) that you're going to fold afterwards : You leave a small "circle" at the corner where the sheet will be folded because otherwise you'll have excess metal that will damage your sheet.
ygra 17 hours ago 1 reply      
http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/calculated-errors-the-... is probably a better article on the topic.
afandian 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I have always wondered what those were. Always thought they were ugly. Surely these only apply to certain types of printing. Why are they still shipped with fonts?
michaeljkchoi 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me a lot of OPC to improve feature resolution in photolithography. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_proximity_correction
dfrey 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought this wiki page was going to describe selling ink jet printers as a loss leader while charging exorbitant amounts for ink cartridges.
josh-wrale 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems at first that this would have little application in a digital format. On the other hand, maybe there is some anti-aliasing benefit.
devilshaircut 14 hours ago 0 replies      

Here is a very interesting example of this.

logfromblammo 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks like version 1 of using interference to produce feature sizes smaller than the wavelength of the light used for the lithography.

A physical process distorts the "clean" image in the final product, so the distortion is mapped and doubly reversed, so that a "clean" final product is generated from an intentionally distorted original. As long as the physical distortion is consistent and predictable, you could do this with anything.

I'm thinking the same technique could be applied to improve volume printers. Instead of ink traps you have thermoplastic traps.

Ruby Garbage Collection: Still Not Ready for Production omniref.com
142 points by timr  17 hours ago   98 comments top 15
FooBarWidget 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Phusion Passenger author here.

The article mentions that Unicorn's out-of-band garbage collection is problematic because the way it works - running the GC after every request, and requiring turning off the normal GC - is overkill. But there the community is working on a better solution.

In particular, Aman Gupta described this very same problem and created a gem which improves out-of-band garbage collector, by only running it when it is actually necessary, and by not requiring one to turn off the normal GC. Phusion Passenger (even the open source version) already integrates with this improved out-of-band garbage collector through a configuration option. This all is described here: http://blog.phusion.nl/2014/01/31/phusion-passenger-now-supp...

Just one caveat: it's still a work in progress. There's currently 1 known bug open that needs reviewing.

Besides the GC stuff, Phusion Passenger also has a very nice feature called passenger_max_requests. It allows you to automatically restart a process after it has processed the given number of requests, thereby lowering its peak memory usage. As far as I know, Unicorn and Puma don't support this (at least not out of the box; whether there are third party tools for this, I don't know). And yes, this feature is in open source.

sams99 13 hours ago 2 replies      
This article enrages me.

I totally agree with codinghorror that a blog without comments in not a blog, this is a prime example. No way to respond to the author without jumping through crazy hoops.

As to the issue.

1. NEVER use unicorn oobgc that ships with unicorn or the old one that ships with passenger. Use gctools on 2.1.1 https://github.com/tmm1/gctools or this on 2.0 http://samsaffron.com/archive/2013/11/22/demystifying-the-ru.... If you are disabling GC you are doing it wrong and creating rogue processes.

2. Expect memory doubling with Ruby 2.1.1. Not happy with that? You have 2 options. Tune it down by reducing RUBY_GC_HEAP_OLDOBJECT_LIMIT_FACTOR. At 1 your memory consumption will be on par with 2.0. It ships with the 2 default. Option 2, wait for a future release of Ruby, this will be fixed in 2.2 maybe even patched a bit more in 2.1.2 . See: https://bugs.ruby-lang.org/issues/9607 and http://vimeo.com/89491942 and https://speakerdeck.com/samsaffron/why-ruby-2-dot-1-excites-...

As for the, full-of-bait, title. Ruby's GC is ready for production and being used in production in plenty of places. Just don't go expecting rainbows if you disable it. And expect memory doubling with 2.1.1 if left untuned. You can choose how much you want the memory to increase from 2.0

rubiquity 17 hours ago 3 replies      
> (you are using Unicorn, right? You should be!)

No, you should be using Puma.[0] Unicorn is a work of art and it is incredibly simple, but with that comes a lot of waste. Puma won't fix this problem as it lies in MRI, but you will be able to run way less processes so total memory consumption won't be such an issue.

Ruby 2.1 comes with an asterisk. It's a lot faster but you should take some time to tune the GC to your application's needs. Aman Gupta[1] has some excellent posts on his blog about how to do this. On Rails apps that I have upgraded from 2.0 to 2.1 we have seen around 25% (and up to as high as 50% in some places) decrease in response times. The GC oddities will all certainly get better in Ruby 2.2 (and maybe even in minor releases of 2.1 but I doubt it).

0 - http://puma.io

1 - http://tmm1.net

csfrancis 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Ruby 2.1.1 introduces a new environment variable, RUBY_GC_HEAP_OLDOBJECT_LIMIT_FACTOR, that helps to mitigate the heap growth caused by the generational garbage collector added in 2.1. By setting this variable to a value lower than the default of 2 (we are using the suggested value of 1.3) you can indirectly force the garbage collector to perform more major GCs, which reduces heap growth.

See https://bugs.ruby-lang.org/issues/9607 for more information.

Legion 17 hours ago 6 replies      
> you are using Unicorn, right? You should be!

No. http://puma.io/

noelwelsh 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Why not use the JVM (e.g. JRuby)? These problems have long been solved (if they ever occurred to start with.)
sayrer 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't Ruby need to break compatibility with its C API to get a good result here?

To get a copying, generational GC as in Java, it would need to stop handing out raw pointers.

dclowd9901 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Using ARC with Objective C has been an amazing experience, and I come from the brainless world of Javascript GC.

Any reason why more environments don't adopt this approach? It seems entirely efficient, reasonable and well-designed...

x0x0 16 hours ago 3 replies      
stuff like this is why people use the jvm; at this point, it's pretty bulletproof
rubyn00bie 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh Unicorn... a little GC tuning goes a long way, and isn't that hard... For most apps the time spent in GC, while annoying, is far and away not the bottleneck.

... especially since Ruby 2.0 as the GC is much, much faster.

I'll be honest, I don't think the memory bloat is that problematic if you design the app well (business logic definitely prevents this some time)... but in general you can pass most of that off to a background worker, or pre-cache responses so you aren't bloating your app server instances/threads.

purephase 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Another vote for puma. We're using Unicorn in our production environment right now with the unicorn-worker-killer gem, but our initial tests with ruby 2.1 and puma in dev/QA are going well so we're looking to move to that setup in the near future.
jrochkind1 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like a reason to stick to ruby 2.0 and not upgrade to 2.1, no?
znowi 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Whenever I read that "you should be using X", credibility of the author rapidly diminishes for me.
iancarroll 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Ha, so Unicorn did have a bug in it.

I thought it was me.

jafaku 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like Rubysts spent too much time bashing PHP and very little time improving their language, and now they have been left behind.
Whatevers Best For The People, Thats What We Do medium.com
379 points by comex  1 day ago   118 comments top 29
numair 1 day ago 7 replies      
Regardless of personal opinion, I hope people on HN understand that this is a talented person providing an honest opinion about their work. Which is rare, and should be commended, rather than being treated as evidence of a conspiracy.

Also, Dustin Curtis seems to forget (or not understand) that Facebook is the same company that made a decision to implement AJAX at the expense of pageviews, at a time when that decision was highly controversial (the era of the Empire of MySpace). You can ding the management at Facebook for a lot of things, but this really isn't one of them.

The bigger story, really, is that poor people use Facebook on a computer, and thus that is where web-based experience optimization is focused. If you don't have a smartphone, or your smartphone sucks, you're going to be on the web; otherwise, why aren't you using your iPhone or iPad? (And remember, that's where Facebook derives a majority of their revenue -- so if there's going to be a conspiracy, it's going to be a conspiracy to get you to stop using the website, and to buy a high-ad-revenue-generating iPhone). Welcome to the wacky user landscape of 2014, where the Web is for nerds and poor people.

I like that Julie used Medium for her thoughts, rather than a Facebook post. Experimentation with others' products and services is super cool.

nnq 1 day ago 2 replies      
You don't even need metrics to figure out that, for example:

> The old design was worse for many of the things we value and try to improve. Like how much people share and converse with their friends. [old design: http://img.svbtle.com/gpnggaky8d1gog.jpg]

The "only icons" on the left + "icons AND text labels" for "Share/Like/Comment" + much higher text density on the right constantly shift your thinking form "photo/visual" to "reading/writing", it mind-fucks you in a very subtle way, so your brain ends up focusing on the only thing that makes sense: (a) the overall visual structure (that was beautifully designed, I admit) and (b) the photos.

If you want user engagement beyond the "click like" level you need to focus people towards the "reading/writing/verbal" mode of interaction. Like, if you have to read a button's label to know what it does, this puts your mind into "reading mode" so the comment that immediately follows the link/button has more chances of actually being read and of the people actually writing a reply instead of just clicking a like and staring at a cute picture. They really got this right (either through someone's insight or metrics, I dunno) with the "Like Comment Share" links - getting rid of the icons pushed you more towards "text/words mode" thinking, which is exactly the mode you need to be in to actually post a comment, and a comment is more content so it will be a positive feedback loop for even more and so on.

(Also, another obvious bad idea was the left bar - while theoretically good for screen estate, it's essentially "mystery meat navigation" to unsophisticated desktop users. Also it puts less focus on the Apps. Also by putting the active contacts list in the bottom left corner pushes them out of your mental focus.)

EDIT+: ...now that it really got me thinking of it, I can't believe how incredibly bad the "old new" design was. How did they even chose to deliver that? It looked like textbook "design driven design", it didn't focus at all on how the users think and what they actually do on Facebook.

calbear81 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm glad Julie took the time to respond to Dustin's article and dispel the lower revenue assumption. I looked back at the articles in March of last year and it does appear that everyone reported that the new design would bring in more ad revenue via more engaging ad formats for advertisers.

One thing I want to understand is if the concern is about accommodating people on less-than-the-latest tech or smaller screens, etc. then we've solved largely for that via responsive design. It's not hard to detect that I have enough real estate to support having a 2x larger photo in my feed. Why not adjust as needed?

peterkelly 1 day ago 1 reply      
Dammit... why did I have to read this article? I was just about to post a rant in the comments of the original one about how evil and money-grabbing Facebook is, and now I find out the final design choice was made for perfectly-rational usability reasons that take into account the diversity of the user population.

How am I supposed to make myself feel superior now?

rdl 1 day ago 1 reply      
One thing I hate is how all these screenshots are made with unrepresentatively interesting posts and high quality photographs.

Show what the feed looks like with a news stories posted by a few people (fortunately FB is now smart enough to coalesce them), a bunch of moronic memes, one line stupid text, and a few long posts with ~100 comments with lots of debate, and that's more representative of my facebook newsfeed.

codezero 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm baffled as to why the experience needs to be 100% consistent across all demographics.

Why can't Facebook adapt the news feed to be the best for each individual, both content wise and design?

I have a 27" screen, why degrade my experience, as a minority when you are completely capable of enhancing it. Enhance the 11, 13 and 17 inch screens too, and let us all have the best experience possible.

The idea that the majority should be the only number worth optimizing is one that should be completely dismissed.

shakethemonkey 1 day ago 1 reply      
#1 design flaw on Facebook: It should be dead easy to search my newsfeed. I saw something yesterday, or last week -- there's no way to see it again. (If there is, you've hidden this feature so well that you should get an award for obfuscation)
UweSchmidt 1 day ago 0 replies      
No place on the internet feels so heavy handed in telling you what to do and trying to influence your behaviour like Facebook. You can feel like they frequency with which you are compelled to provide some missing information for FB's databases is algorithmically fine tuned to how much you can probably bear. It feels soulless, a site nearing the end of it's life cycle. I check out my friend's photos almost daily, and not too many people seem to be leaving, but no one's writing or posting anything personal any more. Hesitation, distrust.

So, you can try to roll out a layout that makes the "News Feed all about the content" (wtf?), but you can't design the love back in.

saturdaysaint 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Obviously, this could just be corporate PR disguised as a blog, but it seems plausible when I consider how rarely I even go to www.facebook.com. For users not on mobile (I'm imagining grandparents), an immersive photo experience creates a nice experience but one distinctly unlike what most mobile users (which is to say, most users) experience. I can see big laptop-screen filling images deemphasizing text and overshadowing some of the utility that FB wants to assume for users. It might seem daunting to share an update that you're making tea for your granddaughter when you seem to be competing with your relatives' screen filling, HD photos and videos. "Immersive" pictures might make you less likely to check your events.
notdonspaulding 20 hours ago 0 replies      
> These people may not be early adopters or use the same hardware we do, but the quality of their experience matters just as much.

This speaks to the value FB sees in low-quality, high-reach experiences. Well, this and the WhatsApp acquisition. It's a very mature and reasonable response to Dustin's armchair speculation.

pxlpshr 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Her screenshot shows 2 just ads while my stream shows me 7. My block of ads is 350% larger.
byroot 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Funny how her screenshot is cleared of ads.
karangoeluw 1 day ago 1 reply      
It took me a while to realize that you work at Facebook. Maybe add a sentence or two about that on top of the article?
wudf 1 day ago 0 replies      
The new design delivers headlines that I can't highlight to copy. Pain in the ass.
voicereasonish 1 day ago 3 replies      
The design is terrible. So much of the width is wasted with two sidebars that are seldom used. "People you may also know"? Really? And big areas of grey.Also don't get me started on the ridiculously persistent desire for facebook to show you random stories "Top stories" rather than sorted by date, or the ridiculously irritating auto-play videos.

People are dropping facebook. It's just becoming a worse user experience each time they change anything.

Dewie 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I just wish I could turn off the news feed. Facebook is a great social tool, but I'm sick of all the literal status updates. I tried Facebook Purify but their CSS ,trick didn't work.


veidr 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Whatever's best for the farmers, that's what Monsanto does.
dsjoerg 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is so gratifying to hypothesize your existence, and then, like a high-energy particle, here you are. (Hypothesized here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7484795)
k0 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is Responsive Web Design? How could it be used to enhance the UX and UI? Why isn't Facebook using RWD? Real, scalable RWD? I must be way off base, but their issues with the News Feed design are surmountable. Not impressed by Julie.

I have never thought of FB as a bastion of design...and I have not yet been swayed to think or see otherwise.

watwut 1 day ago 0 replies      
If only google would learn this too and checked their new guis on smaller screens once in a while.
saddestcatever 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Julie's argument wraps around the idea of "designing for the lowest common denominator". In an age of responsive design, I find it strange that a tech company wouldn't have the manpower to design arguably the most used website it the world to give the best experience to different types of end users.
viacoffee 15 hours ago 0 replies      
new_guy123 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This follow up response is completely expected. No doubt, Justin's blog was incomplete information. While I am still not convinced about how the ads section got bigger, is it really so difficult to identify the user's medium?

I am using a mac book pro. My request header is yelling at you that I am. Your argument makes no sense, if you agree that you know I am not suffering from the lack of a scroll pad. What about that!

kemo 1 day ago 0 replies      
And what if providing different user experiences is the next thing Facebook should aim towards? What if users would actually enjoy being able to choose from different UIs? "Which one do you use?"

I am not referring to responsive web here.

itazula 1 day ago 0 replies      
I never like it when people say they're doing what is best "for the people."
mavdi 1 day ago 0 replies      
So their new design wasn't responsive? Am I missing something here?
useraccount 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Dustin Curtis is a horseshit peddler. I'm not sure why people still listen to him.
davyjones 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't really understand why this explanation was even warranted. People looking from outside don't get the picture at all. Ergo, conclusions are erroneous at best and malicious at worst.
forrestthewoods 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why is someone from Facebook making an official(ish?) statement via medium? Seems kinda amateur.

And, maybe it's just me, but I hate links from medium because on HN they strictly say (medium.com) with no information as to who they are. Much, much prefer personal blog links where there is some context.

Sony Digital Paper e-ink PDF tablet for notes and forms sony.com
199 points by fidotron  21 hours ago   162 comments top 41
jwr 18 hours ago 10 replies      
This would look great if it wasn't made by SONY. They have a history of building devices that seem great, but on closer inspection it usually turns out that the user interface is horrible, overall usability is poor, and to use the device you have to install a proprietary piece of Windows-only SONY software that might be maintained and updated for a while or not. So after a couple of years you might be left with no way to access your data.

After I had this experience two or three times I figured I'd stay away from SONY products.

mdip 20 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks fantastic. When the e-reader craze was going on, I avoided buying one because I wanted one pretty much like this. Most of my e-books are PDFs that display really well in a larger format device. My wife had a nook, and I tried it out for a bit, but the size/resolution made viewing PDFs designed for letter sized paper look just below adequate.

Is it wrong for me to also admit that ever since the "Root Kit Debacle" from Sony, I cringe a little at the idea of plugging a Sony product into my PC? Or am I just being paranoid?

unicornporn 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks like a dream. Here's the product page for DPTS1:http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-digitalpaper/cat-digitalpap...

I imagine it's terribly expensive. "Pricing available upon request".

EDIT: That's right. $1000. http://www.golem.de/news/dpts1-sonys-digital-paper-kostet-me...

SeanDav 20 hours ago 0 replies      
If this thing supports epub as well it would be perfect. I have been looking for a full A4-sized e-ink reader for ages now but aside from my Kindle DX, (which has to be hacked to read PDF's and epub) there has been very little.

I am not interested in the note taking, although it may prove useful at some point, I want it as a large e-ink reader for technical books.

bazzargh 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to have one of these:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ILiad

The iRex Iliad had a big screen and you could write on it with a stylus. It ran linux and didn't use proprietary file formats, so was great for actually doing stuff.


The refresh rate on the screen meant that doing anything with the stylus was painful. It lagged way too much. I see nothing in the specs for the sony device that refers to this problem with e-ink, and no video demo. Anyone have better info?

discardorama 17 hours ago 2 replies      
The resolution seems to be about 150DPI. Unfortunately, I've been spoiled by Apple's Retina display :-(

But still: $1100? When an iPad (which can do so much more) is ~$500 ? Once again, Sony seems to be miscalculating.

hrktb 18 hours ago 1 reply      
The hardware seems really great. Sony has a ton of experience in e-readers, I trust their capability to pull out marvelous hardware, and this is a product that feels a really valuable spot on the market.

Except, there is so few informations on the software.It seems the supported sync service is worldox [1], as it's the only link in the sidebar and there is no explicit mention of any other solution. Does this means one has to contract this service provider just to wirelessly sync this device ?

Of course, no mention of an SDK or any third party integration.

As usual with Sony, the hardware seems perfect and the software an afterthought.

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

personlurking 20 hours ago 2 replies      
mbq 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Onyx made something like that already; the software is terrible (although hackable) and there is no place to attach stylus to the reader, but it is only ~300USD


froo 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If they really wanted to go after the note-taking market hard, they should have created a way to have the "eraser" in the opposite end of the stylus rather than have to go through a menu system to modify notes.

For me then, it would go from "yeah, its kinda neat" to "I really ought to consider giving them my money for this"

eponeponepon 19 hours ago 2 replies      
It's thoroughly disappointing that they're sticking to PDF for this. In every other way, it looks like progress, but not supporting EPUB is a pretty long step backwards, imho.
kin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The demand is no doubt there. This needs to be executed well and priced well also. I'm going to bet it's neither. Sony is notorious for high prices. Also, who's to say the writing feels as natural as they're making it look?
codezero 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The first ebook reader I bought was a Sony and it was great. I preferred it to the kindle at the time because it let me import any format file into it via USB. So I have no issues with the brand as others do. Sony has a solid presence though on the periphery of the eInk scene. My only concern with this device is input latency. Every eInk screen I've used that takes input has too high of a latency for annotation to feel as natural as pen and paper.
thu 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I see an on-screen keyboard on one of their promotional pictures, could this be used as a lightweight dumb terminal ?

If not, what would be a possible e-ink device to display an SSH terminal over Wifi and pair with a bluetooth keyboard ?

rayiner 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm looking for a relatively paperless legal workflow, and I have been surprised at how hard it is. It's hard to pull out a laptop in a meeting to take notes, if only because in a 1:1, you are often in someone else's office and don't have a desk handy. I've been looking at the Livescribe for digitizing handwriting, but to date the software has been shitty. The new version that integrates with iPad/OneNote seems to be a step up, though.

The problem with the iPad, however, is that it's not good for marking up documents. It's great for reading legal cases, but not for marking them up and taking margin notes. Personally, I'm one of those people that gets a lot more out of having paper in my hand and scribbling on it than I do just reading something off a computer screen. I'm really intrigued by this product: http://www.thedigitalink.co.uk/products/capturx-markup-for-p..., which lets you print out PDF's onto special paper so that when you write on it with a digital pen, the markings are reintegrated onto the digital copy. Unfortunately, it's really expensive!

Also, 10" is on the small side for what's ideal. A standard piece of paper is 13" diagonal. I've been looking at the 12.2" Samsung, which also has a digitizer, but Samsung's Android skin is just god-awful. It's a shame nobody makes a 12"+ Baytrail Windows 8 tablet with good battery life...

This product seems to really tackle this niche. Apparently Sony is going to be showing it off this week at the ABA tech show in Chicago.

Edmond 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If this is real it may finally be the dream of anyone who's ever wanted an electronic notebook!

I will go back to school just to use this!

accidc 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The Bridgestone Aerobee was another device that seemed fit all the specifications for a electronic notebook. Bridgestone had teamed up with a Delta Electronics to bring these out but killed it.

Does anyone know how qr-lpd compares to e-ink?


BugBrother 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The probable killer problem: What is the page switch time? Can I browse pdf manuals on this? (My iPad 3 is a bit too slow imho. Will get an Air)

Speed in general? How is it to write notes on? Linux/wireless support?

T-zex 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Its always great to see new e-ink products. I think they are unreasonably overshadowed by the tablets.

[off topic]Are there any recent product launches which would not feature a cup of coffee on their landing page?

sizzle 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember getting a Sony Clie PDA, the software was a pain to sync and then they stopped supporting it. Really irked me back then
thorntonbf 14 hours ago 1 reply      
A device like this has such awesome potential, but I am so underwhelmed by Sony's execution.

$1000 +, closed to common eReader document types and no path to openness for developers.

Add in Sony's miserable record for supporting their customers after they move to the next flavor of the week and this is a great illustration of their march towards increasing irrelevance.

fuzzythinker 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I know this sounds like nitpicking, like complaining about the cup holder in a luxury car, but the stylus holder is just too ugly and an afterthought for a $1k device. Why they even bother to point out the design as if they were proud of it? Why can't they just use the palmV or many other push to eject design? That holder thing sticks out so much that I not only feel embarrassed to show it off, but fear it'll break any moment. And this is from SONY?
lrem 18 hours ago 0 replies      
There is still a pretty significant delay between writing and the text appearing. Nothing like the prototype display Microsoft was showcasing some time ago.

I wonder if this may be a limitation of e-ink.

bryanthompson 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I remember when http://noteslate.com/ launched their site & demos and being excited, checking back weekly, then monthly, then realized that it was all a big cloud of vaporware.

I hope Sony actually goes through with this. I currently use an ipad mini & notesplus with a jot pro - it's a good setup and works well, but I still find myself reaching for legal pads half the time.

jber 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I want it now!!But I bought a Sony E-Reader before a Kindle 5 years ago. Their customer service was very bad :(
taylorbuley 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Except the "Click here to be contacted for more information about Digital Paper" leads to a "Contact Us" form. Do I use a "Contact Us" form to ask Sony to "Contact Me" whenever it releases this?
0xdeadbeefbabe 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Some grep would be nice, and I don't mean the kindle touch search experience: tap, wait, tap search, wait, type, wait, type, wait, type, enter, wait, browse results, tap to scroll, wait, browse results, tap to scroll.
srd 18 hours ago 0 replies      
eInk based ebook readers have been around since at least the iRex in '06. My current jetBook in the same format as the Sony here even has 4096 colors. The thing that always kept theory from practice for me was the high latency when doing the actual annotations. 150ms is too much when writing and your pen is 3 strokes ahead of the display.

Is this reader any different? Just looking at the page, I don't quite get what makes it different and HN worthy?

hamxiaoz 17 hours ago 0 replies      
$1100 price will kill it unless it doesn't target normal customers.
njharman 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Thought Finally! But, too soon $1000 is way, 2-4 times, too much. Back to waiting.
therealmarv 15 hours ago 0 replies      
What we need is a android tablet, combined e-ink and the power of a Samsung Note. Then we have a kindle reader (through the app), a note taking device and can also read something from apps like pocket and Evernote... at least I can dream about it.
sebnukem2 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Can I read my large collection of Kindle books with it? A negative answer is a deal breaker, and I suspect I'm not alone.
sergiotapia 19 hours ago 0 replies      
That battery life is delicious. That's the first thing I looked for and I'm happy Sony came through!
Altenuvian 17 hours ago 0 replies      
finally! looks great and I hope sony doesn't mess this up.

and please make a external monitor version! preferably 24" so I can have a secondary monitor dedicated to word-processing.

even though refresh times might be slow for anything else having an e-paper external monitor for word-processing would make total sense from an ergonomics perspective. a lot of people spend many hours a day writing/editing text and e-paper is much more eye-friendly.

happyscrappy 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks nice but I don't see a way to zoom in, which is a deal breaker for using it with building plans.
higherpurpose 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Didn't they just kill their e-book store recently?

Also, from the images it does look like it would be "e-ink" but I see no mention of it on the page. Is it really "e-ink" (like Kindle) or just "e-paper", which is just a transflective LCD (Pebble, Notion Ink Adam, etc).

vapour 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't want to charge my paper thanks.
ihaveone 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I want this so bad, I have a Kindle DX that's pretty good but I just want to be able to 'print' directly to it and have it automatically turn on and show it. This is getting there with the pen, I love that idea. They should have it sync back after you annotate it automatically. That's friction free.
blisse 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Pricing doesn't matter until this gets into a good reviewer's hands (Anand!). But yeah this is amazing if it functions perfectly eventually at ~$400
dragontamer 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems good, but the honest competition to this would be all the other tablets with styluses.

Surface Pro, Galaxy Tab, Asus Vivotab Note. Each hit vastly different price ranges (Surface Pro ~$900 high-quality device, Galaxy Tab rounds out $500 mark, and Vivotab Note hits $300).

I doubt Sony can beat the Vivotab Note on price / performance, and I doubt it can win on flexibility vs Android or Surface Pro.

HHVM 3.0.0 hhvm.com
70 points by infinitebattery  13 hours ago   22 comments top 8
nnq 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What worries me is the large list of 'unsupported PHP features': http://docs.hhvm.com/manual/en/hack.unsupported.php .

I know they can be considered bad practice, but in practice you use at at least a couple of them at least once in every project! And you use it because the alternative would be even uglier. (Also, what's the point in having a language with a separate namespace for functions and variables - Perl and Common Lisp being the only other ones I know of - if you can't at least have fun with variable variables and using a string directly as a function :) )

...also, they've "downgraded" PHP's closures mechanism. I mean, with:

    return function foo($a, $b) use ($outer1, $outer2) { ... }
...PHP managed to do things better then all other dynamic languages - finally a way of being explicit about what variables from the outer scope you drag into a closure! The Hack guys totally missed the point - they've made everything stricter, but they relaxed this constraint and reverted one of the few good ideas in PHP.

Their VM may be awesome, but their language is horrid - they take away the "fun" features of PHP but don't fix any of the bad language design issues. It's like throwing away the baby and keeping the bath water - yeah, the water will keep you alive for a few more days in the desset, but the baby can actually be fun to play with.

alexgartrell 12 hours ago 1 reply      
So coincidentally I work at Facebook and know a bunch of these guys pretty well, but I don't actually interact with the Hack stuff at all (as I work in infrastructure doing flash and network stuff, primarily). I recently played around with the Open Source hack stuff and I installed it on my VPS.

Has anyone else played with Hack in a productionish environment? I'm just wondering what deployments and stuff are actually looking like in the world outside of Facebook.

p.s. tutorial that really exposed me to hack is here: http://hacklang.org/tutorial

dcc1 9 hours ago 1 reply      
So what IDE to guys at facebook use for HACK? My favourite editor PHP Storm doesn't support it, yet.
cookerware 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What server can I use with HHVM to get the performance boost claimed in the video? Does it have a built in HTTP server?

Are there any benchmarks proving that HHVM improves performance?

Can I get a better performance than my current setup of Nginx + uWSGI + Flask ?

ZeroGravitas 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed the other day that PHP has 30% code coverage. Is HHVM working to improve that (and pass the same tests, bug for bug) or is it relying on the unit tests of frameworks and packages?
huntedsnark 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Donald Glover is his real name, as a rap artist he is Childish Gambino.
jholly 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Facebook is a roll! This, react, warp! Bravo guys!
adamors 11 hours ago 3 replies      
While the release names based on rappers is quite a fun idea, I don't get why they didn't go for people who are, you know, good at hip hop. I mean 50 cent and Childish Gambino? And especially next to Em and Ghostface. Or is this a good release/bad release kind of thing?
Threes: The Rip-offs and Making Our Original Game asherv.com
494 points by gkoberger  1 day ago   200 comments top 51
GuiA 1 day ago 5 replies      
Having a foot in the indie game developer community and another in startups, it's fascinating to see the HN comments in response to this post.

The indie game developers care about originality, passion, the sweat and hard months of work, the dedication to the craft. I think the point of Asher's essay is to show how much love and effort went into it, and that they were indeed the first to ship a full, polished game with that concept. That's where their pride and satisfaction comes from.

The startup people care about end user experience, how good the PR is, and ultimately how numbers matter more than everything else.

I don't think there's a wrong or right vision - it's two very different communities.

Indie game devs dream of making amazing games with other talented, inspiring people - and as long as they make enough money to live not too uncomfortably, they're fine. Their biggest dream is to receive an IGF award and see their game on Steam. Maybe make enough money to be able to start a studio with a bunch of their friends, but definitely not to "scale" to EA-size.

Startup people dream of growing their company to Facebook size, making billions of dollars, scaling, and being on Techcrunch.

It's two very different communities, and it's fun to see the two worlds collide.

Addendum: if you feel like this post is vindictive, bitter, etc.- remember: the best way to interpret a view different than yours is to understand that there is a worldview in which those statements are perfectly coherent, logical, and meaningful. Asher, Greg, and all the other people mentioned in this post are successful, highly respected members of the indie game dev community - not a bunch of guys who are angry for whatever silly reason.

smacktoward 1 day ago 13 replies      
> We know Threes is a better game, we spent over a year on it.

I played Threes, and I liked it. And I feel for these guys having to watch everybody and his brother pile on to the idea they had to work so hard to tease out into reality.

But here is some hard truth: none of that matters.

Nobody cares how hard you had to work to get from idea to product. All they care about is what you have produced at the end of all that work. What makes it better or worse is how it stacks up relative to the competition -- even the competition that is shamelessly riffing off your core ideas -- not how much sweat you put into it.

And I gotta say, having played 2048, 1024 and Threes (the Android versions, at least), I think of the three of them 1024 stands up the best. It takes the core ideas in Threes and sands them down into a game that is easier to grasp and plays faster, without becoming so simple (a la 2048) that it becomes a game a script can beat. Threes makes you swipe-swipe-swipe after every game to get your score and "sign" it (why do I care about signing it?) before you can play again; 1024 just moves you straight on to the next game. Mobile games need to be simple and streamlined, and 1024 understands that imperative better than Threes does.

I say all this to help others understand why I would point to this essay as an example of how not to respond to a problem like a barrage of cloners. It's because this essay sees the world entirely from the developers' perspective -- look how hard we worked! Look how long we labored! Look how subtle our decisions were! -- which is exactly the wrong angle.

You want your communications to speak from the customer's perspective, not from your own. Customers don't give you brownie points for how hard you worked on something. All they care about is how to get the best product for the best price. So if you put your heart and soul into something, and then someone comes along, tweaks your thing and makes it better, the way to respond isn't to ask people to respect how hard you worked; it's to look closely at the new thing, understand why people like it better, and then bring that understanding to your next iteration or your next product.

ghshephard 1 day ago 2 replies      
I loved threes, Played it for close to 20-30 hours during winter break. As soon as 2048 came out, I managed to get to 2048 on my second try based on my experience with threes. I play 2048 in my browser whenever I have a spare 5 minutes, and when I'm on the Bus, I still frequently hop into a quick game of Threes.

The mechanics of the two games are very similar, and obviously 2048 is a direct descendent of threes - but I wouldn't go so far to say that one is better than the other.

Threes has claim to originality, and first publication, so significant credit does need to go to Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend and composer Jimmy Hinson of Sirvo for their original invention.

But, Threes does have some "issue" - one is really poor startup times. It's slow enough that I am more likely to play 2048 in my browser, than bother firing up Threes on my iPhone. The piece assignment in threes, is also somewhat less pleasing to my experience than in 2048, for whatever reason.

Also - sometimes you are looking for nice quick fun - I get a nice rush of (finger mashing) 2048 to the 512 stage, and then very, very quickly racing to 2048 instinctively (plus the crush of defeat if I make a flickering mistake and get my pieces out of place).

Threes requires a lot more attention - I can't really play it at full-key-flick-speed - Not every game has to be chess.

If you read through the emails, and design history on the "making of" - it really, really emphasizes how damn hard it is to build that original kernel of genius. And then the piling on of all the clones/knockoffs/descendants shows how trivial it is for others to stand on the shoulders of genius.

One challenge of the AppStore (and obviously the Android stores, and simply by definition the Web) - is that there is no real way to "reward" the original developers for their many months of hard work, when others can simply clone, tweak the artwork and mechanics (or in the case of Zynga, just the artwork) - and release and market their own duplicate of a game after someone else has done all the hard work.

But, sometimes this opportunity to reinvent is good - I've tried a lot of podcast apps - because I listen to podcasts for about 4-6 hours/day, and, while "Cast" is my current preferred App, I'm looking forward to what Marco does with Overcast. I would have hated it if we couldn't have lots of diversity in that marketplace. (And I would have shot myself if I had to use Apple's (original, horrible) "reel-reel" podcast player).

Another approach though are apps like Vesper - It's "another" notepad app - but the developers (Q Branch's John Gruber, Brent Simmons, and Dave Wiskus), took months and months to polish and refine till it creates a totally different notepad experience (and, in my opinion, the best one on the iPhone) - isn't it good that they had the opportunity to build something in the notepad category, in a different way?

All in all though, I hope that Sirvo's Asher Vollmer, Greg Wohlwend and Jimmy Hinson get the credit they deserve for building the "first of".

gkoberger 1 day ago 0 replies      
Threes is the original game that 2048 (and its clones) are based on. This site starts off a bit slow (talking about 2048), however the hundreds of emails / screenshots showing the progress is insanely awesome. It's a great look into what it's like to build something from scratch.

Spoiler alert: at one point it was a game about argyle socks and monsters (Argoyle).

steven2012 1 day ago 3 replies      
I have a friend who works at a successful mobile gaming company (not Zynga). He freely admits that what they do is rip off whatever games are most popular. Period. End of Story.

They even have a SWAT team that will go out and build prototypes in days and launch them on the App store as quickly as possible to get some users. They've even launched games with the exact same name as the popular game in hopes of tricking people into using their version of the game.

The entire thing is despicable to me, but I guess that's just the nature of the gaming industry these days. Most companies are ripping off each other, so true innovation is hard to come by, and isn't really appreciated anymore.

The funny thing is that he also admitted that they have run out of successful games to rip off, so they might actually have to build their own games.

austinz 1 day ago 0 replies      
I built a decently polished open-source clone of 2048 for iOS over a weekend, and from HN's front page it's obvious many could (and did) do the same for a variety of platforms and languages. It's popular to talk about how ideas are cheap and plentiful, and implementation is what really matters. But maybe Threes is an example where the opposite is true: implementation is straightforward, but the ideas, thought, and polish that goes into making the product truly spectacular are the distinguishing factor.
paulgerhardt 1 day ago 1 reply      
Threes is a significantly deeper game than 2048 - see for instance this thread on reverse engineering the gameplay mechanics: http://forums.toucharcade.com/showpost.php?p=3133680&postcou...

This is something the developers are known for. Greg's earlier game, Ridiculous Fishing, not only had it's own internal Twitter app ("Byrdr") with it's own ARG mini-game - including a fake website with SQL injection vulnerabilities and a voicemail hacking sidequest.

huhtenberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are in a tight spot.

This is one of the most simple, elegant and original game ideas of recent times. One of those that make you wonder how has no one managed to stumble on it before. It is inevitable it got copied.

The reason why it got copied and why 1024/2048 got really popular is that they have overdone the original. The interface is just too funky, there's fluff, fluff and decoration. Rubbery UI makes you feel like you are fighting with the app every time you use it. There are also those smileys on tiles too. So what you have is an idea that looks more complicated than needed (with 1s and 2s being special) and the execution that looks cluttered. That's just asking for a simpler clone - exactly what they got in 1024 and 2048.

Now they have an unenviable task of trying to convince players that added complexity in their version is by design. That or try and slim down the game for faster pace (and perhaps add "basic" mode that mimics clones' simpler mechanics).

bobbles 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love Threes, and I understand where they're coming from.

But this line "Others rifled off that they thought 2048 was a better game than Threes. That all stung pretty bad. We know Threes is a better game, we spent over a year on it. "

The fact that someone spent less time on a game, and based it on your game, does not make it a WORSE game. It's just unfortunate for you.

prezjordan 1 day ago 2 replies      
I felt the same sentiment when 2048 first landed. I was shocked at how no one had really heard of Threes!

Then the developer put "Gameplay similar to Threes" or something like that on the page. I thought it was a nice gesture.

But, overall, I felt for the Threes developers. I'm glad to see this posted to HN.

mgiannopoulos 1 day ago 1 reply      
Having seen their games ripped off and cloned dozens of times within a few weeks, the developers of popular iOS/Android game Threes could be responding with lawsuits and anger.

Instead, they are expressing grief (having been accused of cloning the... clones), understanding of how ideas evolve and an awesome release of 45,000 words of internal discussions, sketches, prototype designs of their work of 14 months to get to release.

If you're interested in game design, this is pure gold.

madsushi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been playing Threes for quite some time, so it came as a surprise to me when several commenters on HN assumed that 2048 was the original and Threes was the derivative.
petercooper 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Lots of discussion already but I wanted to throw "patents" out there as that's what it made me think of first. You can patent game mechanics to protect them (to a certain extent). Is it possible to be against patents (as many geeks seem to be) while also being against people ripping off game mechanics? If so, how?
honksillet 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a great read.

As someone who pooped out a low quality clone of Threes for the purpose of teaching myself d3 ( http://www.kongregate.com/games/honkskillet/menage-a-threes ), I can say that there is a mile of difference between the polish of Threes vs 2048.

Also, I agree with the 3's creator when he says that 2048 is essentially broken. I had played 3s before playing 2048. I got 1024 on my first play through, and the middle part of the game was so tedious I resorted to the alternating up, left strategy just so I could advance the game. It's a little weird that a clone of a clone got so much attention.

baddox 1 day ago 1 reply      
> We wanted players to be able to play Threes over many months, if not years. We both beat 2048 on our first tries.

I was addicted to Threes when I first got it. I played dozens of games per session, and multiple sessions per day. So it was definitely addictive. But, as it turned out, I only played Threes for about as many days. The flame that burns brightest burns out the soonest, I suppose.

nicpottier 1 day ago 1 reply      
What the wha?

Give me a break, this same diatribe could be spouted by anybody who has built anything of significance. Yes, if you build something great, people will copy it, just as your precious snowflake was inspired by others as well. This isn't anything unique to gaming, it isn't anything unique to 3s, it is an immovable fact of life.

Are people copying the product we've poured the last 18 months into? Damn right they are, and if we don't do a better job of executing then we will rightfully get buried.

The gaming industry in general is incredibly derivative, it is the modus operandi. I ran a gaming studio for a while and you bet we did our share of "being inspired" as well as our share of "inspiring others". It is just a fact of life.

I think the thing that gets my goat here is the waxing on that 2048 is a worse game because it is easier and all the people who played that just don't "get" the careful 14 months of planning that went into 3s.

Let's get something straight here, 3s is a great mobile game, but it is just that, a mobile game for playing at bus stops. And the one and only measure of success there is how much fun people have playing it.

Flappy Bird is stupid, but it is also entertaining for no real reason. Chess on the other hand, is rather smart, and also entertaining. Both have their place. And yes, we can cry about how society is going down the drain and only appreciates dumbed down games, but 3s is pretty simple so let's not throw stones shall we?

Phew, ok, who needs a coffee?

Pxl_Buzzard 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a good look into the process of game design. Tons of communication with team members, lots of pictures and scribbles to explain ideas, and the ever-growing list of tasks that take a prototype to a shipped game. It's amazing to think about the scope and scale of games that AAA studios can deliver at given that all of this has to happen between scores of developers.
mxfh 1 day ago 0 replies      
How original can a game be? The first thing I thought back when I first heard of threes was that it looks and plays like a radically streamlined-for-mobile-adult-market version of Triple Town. While partly understand the proud and grief those devs have, I consider those guys comparably well off, at least almost everyone is giving them credit and 1024 et al. are still nowhere in blatant rip-off territory as for example the myriad of Flappy Bird clones.
dgreensp 17 hours ago 0 replies      
My instinct is to side with the Threes devs on this, but someone has to say it: It sounds like they spent a year on the cute little faces. Original Tetris didn't do that. Also, I'm pretty sure Tetris was cloned immediately, at least privately, by pretty much any programmer with spare time who played it (because it's fun and easy to implement, like the Threes mechanic).

Is it a good thing that Threes is so hard it's like pushing a rock uphill, until you inevitably can't keep it up and it comes crashing down on you? If someone invented the 15 Puzzle today (the one where you slide the tiles around in a 4x4 grid), for example, but dressed it up and tweaked it so you couldn't beat it, people would probably start having fun with the possible version on the side.

hoilogoi 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just looked at 1024 on Google Play, and I have to say it would really sting to work on Threes for a year then read that "If you played 2048 in Hacker News, That [sic] you should know this is the original one."
Yacoby 1 day ago 1 reply      
Their comment that no one has yet to "beat" threes is in my opinion part of the problem. I get a kick out of beating something, having reached some goal (often in competition with someone else). So maybe 2048 is broken. Doesn't detract from my enjoyment of it.

Also knowing other people had "beaten" 2048 initially helped to made it more addictive.

clarky07 1 day ago 2 replies      
Rip-offs are sad, but the fact that you spent 14 months doesn't make it a better game. It means you took too long to make it. Threes is a great game that has done well, but the vast vast majority of mobile apps don't make enough money to justify spending 14 months on. I really hope that wasn't full time work.

Also, time/effort/money spent developing a game does not make it better or worse than other games. Some dead simple things are awesome, and some things that took forever aren't. Again, I have and like Threes quite a bit, but the time it took to make doesn't make it better than anything else. I haven't played the knockoffs, but if they are doing well I suspect they are decent games in their own right.

notoes 1 day ago 0 replies      
PopCap have a good approach to cloning. It's basically, we love seeing clones because we enjoy seeing good games made, it increases the market size and the bad ones will sink anyway. They're confident in their ability to make really game games that will sell. They're sitting on one of the most cloned games of all time, but still manage to make good games and make money.

People seem to get stuck on the idea that a good game is good because of it's mechanic. Therefore if someone uses your mechanic, you're stuffed. A mechanic is only part of what makes a game really good. It's a similar mistake to having a feature focus in a product company.

It has been fun to see all the riffing off the Threes concept over the past couple of weeks. And I'm sure Asher Vollmer and team will benefit from it all. There is more interest in all the games, they'll have extra ideas from the clones that come out, they find out for free some ideas that don't work. It will help them raise the bar on Threes and make it a better, more successful game.

RaphiePS 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have any stats on Threes' sales? I wonder if 2048 has significantly boosted them.
powera 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the very end - these guys sound REALLY bitter:

"""If you read this whole thing. Thank you. Wow. If you scrolled down here and skimmed it or just wanted to see if there was a prize at the end, well, you're here. It's about the journey, man.

Hopefully this post points to what we're getting at when we say that making these tiny games is littered with hard and painful times that are full of uncertainty and self-doubt. You never know if something is really going to work. It's not easy. But cloning or ripping off a design in a week, that's a bit different isn't it?"""

mistercow 18 hours ago 0 replies      
>When an automated script that alternates pressing up and right and left every hundreth time can beat the game, then well, that's broken.

Except that it won't beat the game. You're lucky to get to a 256 block with that strategy.

diziet 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem (for the developers) with Threes is that it cost $1.99 to buy. If they made the app free and monetized with ads/iaps (ie, how all major apps monetize), they would have a much more successful app.
nicolethenerd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Threes shouldn't be knocking their 'rip-offs', they generated a ton of publicity for the original game. Without playing 2048, I probably never would have heard of Threes.
zachinglis 1 day ago 0 replies      
The original devs really care and that's lovely. I've always felt guilty about playing 2048 despite having bought Threes twice (once on Android and once on iOS.)

I don't know what I'd do in their position; feeling disheartened is definitely one. It's a great game - granted I'm not a fan of the sound design so get frustrated sometimes - the game itself is fun and addictive.

I don't think this post will convince as many people as they think to switch to the original, but I hope it does them some good.

david_otoole 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't slave for months producing easily replicable ideas in a market that is mobbed with people who replicate anything successful within days.
erikb 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is my very personal opinion on the matter:

It really pisses me off always I read from somebody how he got burned by a rip-off. If you do it right 2048 will make YOU famous and all future products of you will automatically get more attention, even if you don't make any money on Threes (which is a way worse name than 2048 in the eyes of hackers, btw). Talk to blogs, Youtube reviewers and to us HN users and show us how awesome your product is and if it is really better than 2048 then you will automatically win the crowd. Think about how much attention (and money) PSY now gets for everything he does, although he didn't get as much money directly from Gangnam Style as he could have gotten.

Just complaining and hoping that people will support you because it would be fair is cheap, sad, and it won't happen anyway.

baxrob 1 day ago 0 replies      
I may be alone on this, but I have difficulty distinguishing OP's argument from http://www.amazon.com/The-Quickening-Todays-Trends-Tomorrows...
frade33 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do not recall being addictive to any iOS game, except for Threes.
abimaelmartell 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I made this list with some of the variants of 2048


tylerritchie 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is interesting, I don't particularly like the tone, but I would love to see a graph of (even relative) app downloads with the release of 1024 and announcement of 2048 (and all the various forks) on it.

I bet there's an effect there.

I bet it's in Three's favor.

And I bet any freshman-level stats student could rigorously show it.

wudf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I probably would have purchased Threes if it weren't for the clones. Loved the process documentation. All I can say is keep up the good work. Fuck the haters.
drewry 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not all bad for them, I found out about threes because of 2048 and came to the conclusion myself that threes was a better game and decided to pay for it.
pawelkomarnicki 1 day ago 0 replies      
I tried to install Threes on Android, no ART support => I don't care anymore, playing 2048 and the clones :)
voltagex_ 1 day ago 4 replies      
On Android, 2048 is 0.7mb. Threes is nearly 30! Surely that factors into some people's decisions.
cintiapersona 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is even an Atari 2600 port of the 2048 game!



javajosh 1 day ago 0 replies      
I rarely buy apps, but I bought Threes. I would hope that anyone who's played and enjoyed 1024, 2048 or the myriad knock-offs would at least go and buy a copy of the app. It's a great little game and totally worth $2 (indeed, I'd say it's on par with the quality and playability of the early Nintendo "Game Watch" devices, and that's very high praise BTW. IIRC they retailed for around $25 in the 80's, so Threes is actually underpriced.)

Threes invented a wonderful game mechanic, and I'm reminded of the amazing indie games particularly on Kongregate. It's really something special to see all the creativity and joy that a great computer game can create.

My advice to the Threes inventors would be: rise above the imitators. Indeed, see them for what they are, gestures of respect (with the exception of 1024, who's makers are just assholes). One concrete step I'd take if I were you is to request that the web knock-offs in particular at the very least mention and/or link back to Threes (perhaps an iTunes link[1]).

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/threes!/id779157948?mt=8

nvader 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Like its not ok to feel the way we do some of the time. But we do.

With that in mind, and with all fairness to the creators of Threes for their hard work, as evidenced in the article, I feel put off by their choice of the word 'rip-off'.

I say this as someone who has never played Threes, and never would have, but enjoyed many of the different forks and iterations of 2048.

aye 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who's the "Johnny" mentioned in a couple of the emails? Another game developer?
jbverschoor 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had tried threes.. But I didn't like it.I do like 2048
brianmtully 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Original Game? Ever play Triple Town?
Quaro 1 day ago 0 replies      
That was a lot more article than I expected from the title. Wow.
devanti 1 day ago 0 replies      
nice, but simplicity is the key to mainstream
chubot 1 day ago 1 reply      
I saw 2048 on HN, but downloaded 1024 because I wanted to play on an iPad rather than a desktop. I like 1024 better than 2048 because it has a little more richness.

Yesterday, I tried to pay and download Threes, but it said it requires iOS 6. I never upgrade my iOS devices after too many screwups from Apple. So not sure if I will ever play Threes.

I don't know much about iOS development, but I wonder why a game which is basically a 4x4 grid doesn't work on every single version of iOS. 1024 works just fine.

nashashmi 1 day ago 3 replies      
Okay, Okay. I get the crying from the threes developers and all, but there is a key difference between why 2048 did phenomenally well and threes didn't.

2048 is a game that was HACKED together and displayed on HACKER news and made open source for the sole purpose of independent HACKING, and indie creativity.

In fact, 2048 has got to be the best case study of how HACKING went viral, not so much about how the game went viral, even if that is what theoretically happened.

From that perspective, the THREEs game is just collateral damage and not really what matters here. The Threes game's developers in effect are all crying about how people are misusing their ideas, copying all the wrong details, and not copying what is the true flattery of the game in the first place. And they wrote a blog post to brag about it all! But little do they understand that people (hackers) take what they like and leave the rest.

thought_alarm 1 day ago 2 replies      
The worst part about this is that neither the 1024 or 2048 developers do so much as acknowledge Threes as the original inspiration. It's really pathetic. Just some losers pretending to be something they're not. Common shithead piracy.
WildUtah 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a shamefully non-responsive web page design for a company that builds mobile apps. The sidebar is set to cover the main text even with my page width set to almost 1000 px wide. Even worse, the sidebar is a fixed position and on top element that I can't scroll away from or out from under.

I expect better web design from the team behind Threes, which I bought and liked.

Whatever goes up, thats what we do dcurt.is
545 points by uptown  1 day ago   216 comments top 57
steven2012 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is essentially what happened in my group when I was at Yahoo. Our group spent several months on a redesign that made it significantly more modern and easier to use. After it went live, though, this decreased the number of ad clicks by a significant number, and the people in charge hurriedly reverted all the changes back, since they needed to make their revenue numbers in order to make their bonus.

When you are stuck in a company that can't innovate because a shitty site leads to more money due to inertia, then you know you are on your way down. This leads to your best developers thinking "what the fuck did I waste all my time for?" and they will leave in no uncertain terms.

akamaka 1 day ago 4 replies      
Nice theory, but I think Dustin's conclusions are wrong.

I got to use this alternative design on my second Facebook account that I used for app development, while my personal account didn't have it enabled. I really disliked like the new sidebar design. The concept was similar to what GMail has done lately, with text links replaced by only graphical icons. I found it really difficult to remember what each icon linked to, and I'd have to go through and hover over each icon one by one.

My theory (which I think has as much evidence to back it up as Dustin's) is that if the feed performed better in this design, it was because the poorly designed menu made it more difficult to navigate the rest of the site!

modeless 1 day ago 8 replies      
This article makes one big unstated assumption: that users wanted the news feed to change. In fact, users didn't want the news feed to change. Users hate change. And when I say that I don't mean that users are stupid and hate good things. Users have good reasons for hating change that's forced on them: it reduces the value of their previous experience and requires extra time and effort on their part; effort that they'd rather be spending on things they actually care about.

Users didn't want the news feed to change, and the users were right.

grey-area 1 day ago 2 replies      
This really reminds me of the depressing way that Google optimised the blue colour of a button, while ignoring all other considerations:


If you trust your metrics and nothing else, you have to be very sure that your metrics encompass every aspect of the reality you are modelling. If they just tell you about clicks and sales, they might be missing longer-term objectives like user satisfaction and retention.

dsjoerg 1 day ago 0 replies      
The core of Dustin's argument is that Facebook may not have been patient enough; they should have trusted in their beautiful new design and waited long enough for the benefits to bear fruit.

However, it's a cheap argument to make, because the Hard Thing is to decide how many months of crappy numbers are you going to withstand before you admit that your Beautiful New Design in fact isn't any good?

Six months? Two years?

And it's not just revenue you look at. How's overall engagement? Sharing rates? Communication? Discovery?

The article is a shallow snipe; the real issues here are hard, interesting, and unexplored by this piece.

swombat 1 day ago 4 replies      
Of course, because money is the only criteria that is important to any business. There couldn't possibly be anything else, like a sense of mission or purpose, that could inform decisions.
programminggeek 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'll give another way to look at it. Good design is by no means the same as optimal design. A lot of beautiful designs done by talented designers end up being worse than what was before. They might be prettier, but they are very likely worse by many conversion metrics.

Don't think of it in terms of pure design. Think of it in terms of cost. Everything has a cost and sometimes good design's real cost is in user behavior. Pageviews and time on site could go down because people aren't going through so many steps to get to what they want. There are a lot of metrics that aren't that useful without the context of the ultimate conversion numbers for your site/app/product/project.

Facebook and Google are advertising companies. The financial metric they care about is advertising revenue per user and number of users. It's not much different than a SAAS app in that way. Other metrics are important, but that is the metric that pays the bills.

A beautiful design that doesn't improve the core metrics is like a multi million dollar super bowl commercial that flops. Sure, it might be really cool and well produced, but if it doesn't sell your product, you might as well light that money on fire. The net effect is the same.

notahacker 1 day ago 1 reply      
The alternate design isn't "performing too well" by not telling you which of your friends are online to chat with, like the current version does. It's just decluttering, and relegating that important function to one of many miniscule, unlabelled icons. It's not "performing too well" by rendering links in the same colour as body text, and making the search function look like a header: it's just making them subtly less obvious, which matters when your users are in the hundreds of millions and some of them really aren't that savvy. (Possibly it matters even more with casual users who are web-savvy, in that you're missing an opportunity to encourage them to search by prominently positioning the sort of medium white box that makes them think about searching)

Whatever is cleanest and most elegant is not necessarily the most user-friendly design, never mind the optimal design from the point of view of user engagement.

waterlesscloud 1 day ago 2 replies      
What I take from this is that Dustin Curtis plays Farmville and is a member of a shadowy group named "secret group".

Actually, the question of the piece is a good one. It's really about what you're optimizing for. As every halfway decent manager knows, you get what you measure. Which means deciding what to measure is one of the most important decisions you can make.

So, in this case, do you measure user engagement time for individual sessions? Or is there some sort of "engagement longevity" which might show a better timeline keeps people visiting more often over a longer period of time?

The other possible approach would be to see what could be done to make events and profile pages more appealing to spend time on. There may not be a way to do that if the timeline satisfies people, but it would be worth investigating.

wpietri 1 day ago 0 replies      
The thing that makes me really insane about this approach is how mindless it ends up being. If you're going to abdicate all responsibility to some set of metrics, it's the opposite of thinking. The numbers become a capitalist lullaby that switches everybody's brains off.

If you're going to work strictly by the short-term numbers, you might as well be the bubonic plague. "Good news! We're up 32% in London! Quarterly bonuses for all the fleas, and gift cards for the rats at the all-hands!"

eldude 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the result of placing the burden of proof on vision and innovation. Companies optimize for local maxima at the expense of global maxima because proving that both the mountain exists in the distance and that you can reach it, turns out to be extremely difficult.

And so, in companies like Facebook and Google, it doesn't matter what you know, it only matters what you can prove. Meanwhile your competitors in the market are unburdened by the need for proof and shout down at you from the mountain in the distance when they arrive.

ignostic 1 day ago 2 replies      
> "We're blind." ... "Everything must be tested."

And your solution is to do LESS TESTING? We don't know what we're doing, so let's cut back on the amount of data we can use to inform our decisions?

> "We are slaves to the numbers. We dont operate around innovation. We only optimize."

I don't see why numbers should ever stop you from innovating. The difference between "innovating" and "optimizing" is just a difference of scale. You can make a huge change to your layout or site function and look at the numbers it the same way you'd look at a font and color change.

The quote above seems to say that people shouldn't make decisions based on numbers, and that's absurd for a company like Facebook. What should be the basis of their decisions then? Management's gut reaction? Whoever feels the strongest about a change wins?

Customer surveys and user metrics matter - both are often numbers. The real issue here isn't that Facebook uses numbers too much. If they made the wrong choice, it's because they put too much emphasis on the wrong numbers.

k-mcgrady 1 day ago 0 replies      
A depressing thought but important especially if you are running a startup. It's ok for Facebook to take a hit like this and revert but if you spend 6 months at your startup redesigning your product and even though people like it your revenues suffer massively you might not even have time to test and revert back.
richforrester 1 day ago 0 replies      
I did some design and coding work for the adult industry for a while. The company I worked for had one large members area with all kinds of niches, with thousands of sites acting as doorways into it. Instead of a nice overview, and a smooth experience, they had built in tons of tricky ways to delay the user getting to the content. From loading delays to tricky dropdowns instead of simple buttons.

Users had access to the site as long as they stayed on the phone to our special 2 dollar per minute phone line.

It worked, but it was a pain to work for a company like that. I was fresh out of school and just wanted to get better at my trade, but wasn't allowed to do the best I could. Frustrating.

Needless to say, things have changed in that industry, gotten a lot trickier, and the company has had to switch into different avenues. They now offer payment solutions and run a huge dating site.

nedwin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Speaking of numbers going up, I'd love to hear how Svbtle is going these days.

Don't seem to hear much from the inside since the funding announcement over 12 months ago...

calbear81 1 day ago 0 replies      
... or that beauty doesn't necessarily convert better. We've seen this time and time again with sites like Craigslist and Ebay and recently 42Floors wrote about a similar experience when experimenting with radically different search result treatments.

I really do like the new treatment and I think they should have gone with this and figured out how to recover the revenue stream later. Given how much Facebook traffic is going to mobile instead of desktop, this wouldn't have a large impact over the long run.

brandonhsiao 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really an instance of the general phenomenon that the eminent tend to take fewer risks. A change that decreases revenue isn't necessarily bad; it may even yield a net profit in the long run. It's just perceived as a risk because things like user happiness and product culture (a) can't be as easily measured and (b) don't yield results for a while.

I think this is actually a rational-- or at least natural-- course of action. As you get more eminent, the stakes are also higher, and when you have more to lose you tend to take less risk. In fact, it'd be surprising if a big company continued taking risks by trusting non-structural decisions.

This is probably related to the phenomenon that large organizations tend to fall into bureaucracy. In fact the two questions are probably overlapping, if not identical. How can you grow big and famous and take on big responsibilities without losing your ability to trust your intuition and care about the feel and usability of the product? How can you stop yourself from degenerating into bureaucracy?

I'm pretty confident it's possible. Steve Jobs managed it. My own hunch is that the trick is to hire people who don't care about money too much. The kind of people who think, if we lose a bit of revenue, who cares? Which is paradoxical, my hunch continues, because people like this will eventually make better products in the long run, and end up increasing revenue in a thousand different little ways.

kybernetyk 1 day ago 2 replies      
> This is truly a nightmare scenario for any CEO: do you take the risk and proceed with the better user experience/product at the expense of short term numberswith no promise that the better design will actually lead to long-term benefitsor do you scrap the new design and start over?

Doesn't this only apply to CEOs who run companies that give away their products to indirectly monetize it? If you had a product you sold to your customers wouldn't this improvement in usability/product quality be a no-brainer because better product = more sales = more revenue?

thisishugo 1 day ago 3 replies      
It baffles me that businesses such as Facebook seem to be driven so heavily by the numbers. If I were the FB product manager given the choice between a News Feed that is pleasant to use, or one that at times feels actively user-hostile but provides better metrics, I would want to have the freedom to pick user happiness over the bottom line, in no small part because I would (I assume) be one of those users.

I can't help but feel that something has gone wrong when Facebook - or any company - will deliver its users a worse product for the sake of few more dollars.

mikeg8 1 day ago 0 replies      
If that quote at the end is accurate, that would be a very disappointing culture to be apart of.
dhawalhs 1 day ago 0 replies      
FB could probably do an open graph search to figure out who gave him that information

"Friends of Drew Curtis who work at Facebook"

jfoster 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a weakness of ad-supported business models. When users are buying or subscribing to a product, you want them to love it as much as possible so that they will always buy more. Ad-supported models untie the relationship between UX and revenue. In an ad-supported model, you do need users to like the product enough to keep coming back, but small decreases in utility that generate more impressions could be great for revenue.

The people at Facebook are extremely talented. It's a shame they're stuck with this business model. It would be awesome to see how good they could make Facebook if this wasn't tying them down.

adrianhoward 1 day ago 0 replies      
Am I the only person on the planet who vastly prefers the newer design?

Yes, the larger images were nice to look at - but they got in the way of actually viewing the content for me.

My personal viewing habits of the newsfeed are to give facebook a glance over once a day with my morning coffee. The purpose is to get an overview - quickly. The newer look got in the way of that, especially when viewing in smaller windows.

There are also all the folk who aren't looking at it on large displays, and maybe consistency of experience is important too.

Sure - maybe there's a metrics issue too. But I've seen more than my fair share of usability tests where things that my "design" persona like end up being disliked by the people who actually use the site.

cliveowen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook stopped innovating 4 years ago, it's become boring. I only use the Messenger app now.
tomphoolery 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would have much preferred the proposed layout as seen in this photo. In fact, it is (almost scary) similar to the most recent Diaspora single-page view that was just rolled out no more than a year ago. We designed our single-page view to focus on content, and unlike Facebook, we don't care about ad revenue, so we don't have these problems. :)
mtgentry 1 day ago 1 reply      
Zuck is brilliant at many things. But when someone says he's great at product, I raise an eyebrow. Seems to me they A/B tested their way to the top. FB today reminds me of Google 5 years ago. Their 41-shades-of-blue-testing days.

But Google learned to listen to more right-brain arguments so maybe FB can too.

apalmer 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are metrics and then their are metrics.If a new design causes the amount of money the company makes to go down... then its not a 'good' design by business standards.

And its more rational to say here are concrete numbers clearly affecting the bottomline vs well our 5 experts think this design is better so we are sticking with it.

nakedrobot2 1 day ago 0 replies      
This anecdote perfectly illustrates how Facebook is not playing the long game. Facebook will erode any trust and loyalty that they did have in favor of short-term gains. We see it again and again. The last thing was the "pay to access your fans" bait-and-switch that to me was rather abhorrent.

Without any "higher mission" at all, Facebook has to resort to these lowest-common-denominator values.

I only hope that someone with better values can gain an edge someday, and refuses to be acquired/neutralized by Facebook.

pjaspers 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the RealNetworks [0] story a few weeks back.

[0] https://medium.com/launching-ux-launchpad/385ff833f9c8

buckmower 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Beyond, Beside or WithinThe following in response to Facebooks Newsfeed Redesign:Why do what makes everyone else do what you want them to do if doing so isnt right? If we all can determine whats right and whats wrong as a community of equals then doing whats right is a matter of doing what everyone else, for the most part, wants you to do. As is the case with Facebook and most other companies that offer products to consumers, when it comes to offering their product they arent exactly equal with the rest of us; because, they have control over the products we so willingly consume; thus, they are faced with the conundrum of what to do about product design and consumer retention. Dustin seems to be saying that Facebook does what makes Facebook users do what Facebook wants its users to do. The numbers that go up and down, it seems, are numbers related to people spending time on other peoples pages rather than just on the news feed. Whats wrong with that?
mcgwiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook can afford not to provide an better user experience because it has no competition. Should Google Plus one day threaten Facebook's usage, Facebook may pull this design out of it's archives.

Until then, they will provide the minimal user experience that keeps them on top of the hill with as much ad inventory as possible.

tomasien 1 day ago 0 replies      
This isn't exactly right - optimizing the NewsFeed and eliminating exploration may be a more efficient UX in a way, but that doesn't mean it's better. I don't hear "reduced exploration" and think "that's way better". I'm not saying that's why FB made the decision, but Dustin doesn't know why they made it either. I'd have made the same decision as a UX focused CEO though is all I'm saying.
joulee 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked on the design of the desktop Facebook News Feed. Just posted a response to the article here: https://medium.com/p/ed75a0ee7641

Actually, the older version of the design we tested would have been positive for revenue had we shipped it. But there were a number of other issues that made it harder for people to use (which also resulted in them liking it less.)

dreamfactory2 1 day ago 0 replies      
If a better UX turns out to make less money I'd say the problem to be solved is with the monetisation, not the UX
loceng 1 day ago 0 replies      
"We only optimize. We do what goes up." Deciding what you want to facilitate going up comes down to governance. If you want to give the user a shittier experience in order to earn more profits, then you can do that. But you leave yourself open to someone providing the better experience and losing them altogether.
roymckenzie 7 hours ago 0 replies      
While it does flex, I won't be spending that kind of money on something like that until it folds up in my pocket.
mkbrody 1 day ago 1 reply      
Culture is internal marketing. The numbers are what really matters.
sidcool 1 day ago 0 replies      
I might be acting like a devil's advocate, but don't the metrics reflect user behavior? And it's perfectly fine if they tune their UI for revenue. They are not missionaries, but they are visionaries. They need money to keep the innovation going.

I am not a facebook fan or an affiliate, and I do resent few of their design decisions, but earning money is well within their framework of morality.

pixelcort 1 day ago 0 replies      
One fear I think about is choosing a good UI/UX for an MVP. Users might get used to it and it could be hard to significantly change it later on.
crazychrome 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting read. it proves one of my arguments against fb: there is not too much real value to end users.

there is no such thing in the world like "performing too well". if a better design led to less user engagements, it means the product, in its bare bone, not valuable to users.

goshx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Facebook's new design is looking a lot like the very old Orkut's design.
adw 1 day ago 0 replies      
The assumption here is that we know, because we're geniuses, what a good user experience looks like.

That's aggressive.

pbreit 1 day ago 1 reply      
Making something easier to glance at doesn't necessarily mean it's better. I think a better design for something like Facebook is something that's more engaging. This isn't search.
atmosx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am not sure if there's any take-away from this article. There are too many assumptions.
elleferrer 1 day ago 0 replies      
At the end of the day, data and numbers are powerful. They scream credibility. They shout, "you did your homework!" But they wont be as effective as they could be if you don't use them wisely.
hipaulshi 1 day ago 0 replies      
which, like the FB employee said, is exactly, what a data-driven company should do to maximize profit. However, Dustin has a good point. CEO needs to make that very risky call if he vouched for the better design. The customer may or may not come. Short term loss is inevitable. One would need strong belief, again, needs to be backed by data, to make that call.
tinganho 1 day ago 0 replies      
Durtis didn't the "left navigation" made that they browsed the feed more than other parts. I have never thought that the left navigation was any good. Since navigation navigation is a big part of UX and hiding it in the left is not good.
_wesley_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Funny thing - FADC (one of Dustin's groups seen in the screenshot) is getting a ton of requests today.
xg15 1 day ago 1 reply      
If we assume that the "UI design by metrics" approach actually works, I wonder, why would we need designers at all?

Shouldn't then the most rational choice be to start with a crude initial design an use a reinforcement learning algorithm to optimize it according to the metrics?

higherpurpose 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems Facebook really is going through the Google phases, and they've always wanted to "be Google" anyway. Right now they're in the Google phase of 5-7 years or so ago, when Google was still doing everything by the numbers, even at the expense of UI and UX.

Just like Google of 5-7 years ago, they're also spreading their focus on many projects, and in a few years probably forgetting about them and ignoring them, if they don't turn into big cash cows for them almost immediately. Then expect Facebook to kill a lot of services, just like Google did.

Soarez 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's ok as long as you're sure you're looking at the right numbers.
imjk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brings new meaning to the adage, "What goes up, must come down."
sharemywin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Prefect example of the innovator's dilemma.
corresation 1 day ago 1 reply      
This sounds contrived. Being the skeptical sort we should all be, there is no reason to believe the sources (if you believe they exist) regarding supposed cynical reasons they didn't proceed with a considered UI.

Maybe Facebook found that people really actually liked the other variant better? Or maybe they were just ambivalent about it, and if we've learned anything about widely deployed social media sites, it's that you need a really, really good reason to change things.

And to add just a bit more on the "contrived" notion: My Facebook feed looks very similar to the first page, with big, colourful pictures dominating my news food. If my network had people posting short twitter-like missives, I suppose it would look like that. Outside of trivial CSS differences, the only real variation is that I don't have the confusing iconography down the left, instead using that massive area of white space for descriptive text.

abimaelmartell 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate the new design, the content row is really small, it looks ugly.
yyyooolll 1 day ago 0 replies      
who honestly gives a fuck what you think? waste of everybody's time. am I right, am I right?
dudus 1 day ago 0 replies      
[citation needed]
Graph TV The Simpsons kevinformatics.com
61 points by ColinWright  13 hours ago   45 comments top 25
jvdh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great example of how to lie with statistics, or what someone can claim by applying just college-level statistics. Those trend lines are completely worthless.

See the trend lines for Futurama: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0149460The difference between all the episodes make having a "trend" very doubtful. Especially season 5 is a wildly varying season where if you take one episode away the line would completely flip.

Much the same can be said for The Next Generation http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0092455 where you have basically clouds where seemingly at random a line is drawn through it.

Yes, I know there are statistical methods for determining trends, but without data on their accuracy they are pretty much worthless. And you really should use a threshold for those accuracies if you're presenting this kind of data to a very wide audience.

gilgoomesh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This graph of The Simpsons illustrates (for me at least) that IMDB is more reflective of the viewing community's weird quirks and biases.

Honestly: is "Homer the Smithers" the best episode of The Simpsons? I doubt anyone would truly put it on their "best ever" list. It's really more "solid" than great. Most importantly: it doesn't rub anyone the wrong way.

Is "Saddlesore Galactica" one of the worst episodes ever? No. It's extremely funny and the story is structured well. It gets lots of very low votes from viewers who favor realism over humor (the episode is implausible with the horse racing then gets silly/fantasy). The episode's score reflects a community desire rather than an objective opinion.

bretthopper 12 hours ago 3 replies      
This is great!

Here's a few interesting ones I've come across:

* The Wire (http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0306414)

Known for being a slow starting show, this is visible with the season trend lines.

* The Shield (http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0286486)

Season 4 is such a massive outlier.

* Seinfeld (http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0098904)

Held very steady until the last season.

freshyill 6 hours ago 0 replies      
For what it's worth, I watched every episode over the course of the last year, so I've got a real good perspective on this.

Here's proof that IMDb is bullshit: Simpson Tide is very highly rated. That episode is one of the absolute worst.

Here's a rough overview:

S1: terrible!

S2: promise!

S3: very good!

S3-S8: the absolute best!

S9-S10: still very goodbut not as good

S11: definite decline

S12: yep.

S13-17: ok wow this is pretty bad.

S18-19: a little better

S20-21: definitely better

S22-25: actually pretty good!

The series has been extremely underrated since Season 20 or so when it came out of the slump that began with Season 11. It's not the

flycaliguy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a great hack that uses lousy data. IMDB ratings are best perhaps with films, a lot less reliable with individual episode scores. Also, if a show goes south do viewers keep watching it and rating it? That phenomena alone sort of spoils the fun for me.
djtriptych 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The 'Red Wedding' episode of Game of Thrones was the best single show rating I could find - 9.9!http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0944947

The 4th episode of True Detective was 9.8.http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt2356777

Check out this outlier on Dexter's last season lolhttp://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0773262

josh-wrale 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Nostalgia wins, for the Simpsons at least.

I sometimes feel this way about TV in general (early stuff is better).

Example (circa 1967-1968):


BTW, I was born in '84 and not 1884. ;-)

habosa 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad to see "Lisa Goes Gaga" as the lowest rated episode. I used to watch the Simpsons religiously but I stopped ~5 years ago. I turned on FOX the other day and happened to catch that episode ... really glad that's the exception and not the rule because it was unwatchable.
FollowSteph3 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Jumping the shark seems to be more perception than reality: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0070992
colechristensen 12 hours ago 3 replies      
It's pretty clear that something fishy is going on with the ratings distributions here.
mxfh 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It's quite weird;used to remember that the recent highlight in a rather dull decade "Steal this Episode" was being rated higher.

11% 1 star ratings with a pretty remarkable demographic distribution. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2966850/ratings

In general an alternate IMDB algorithm probably would give a truer image if you clip of the extreme ratings 1 and 10 before averaging, thereby getting rid of most fanboy/rage votes.

frooxie 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a great analysis of what made The Simpsons good and why it started to decline after season eight:


fletchowns 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Law and Order was fairly consistently awesome, as I expected: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0098844
chadrs 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Sad the "jumping the shark" theory for Happy Days doesn't really hold up against the data: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0070992
dfc 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The West Wing: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0200276

Sorkin co-wrote the first four seasons. I was expecting the dip in S05 but I did not expect such a dramatic upturn in S07.

FollowSteph3 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Another interesting one is Two And a Half Men. You can clearly see when things changed. And it's building back: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0369179
FollowSteph3 9 hours ago 0 replies      
That's how you end a series: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0165598 huge bump for the series finale
kevinwuhoo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
OP here, I'd really love to include viewership data if anyone knows how to get their hands on some. I was looking at the Nielsen site but saw no easy way of acquiring or requesting data.
jpdlla 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great stuff! One that I found pretty interesting was House of Cards http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt1856010.

Notice how first and last episode of season 2 are way up there.

eclipxe 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed playing around with this!
ovulator 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Scrubs is the one I've found with the biggest outlier season. And for good reason:


batbomb 4 hours ago 0 replies      
no sqrt(n) error bars?!?
enthdegree 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty predictable plot of Rick and Morty:


pierlux 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Funny thing: all star treks except TOS end up higher than they started!
Readmill shuts down, team joins Dropbox readmill.com
93 points by anthonymonori  15 hours ago   44 comments top 14
markerdmann 14 hours ago 4 replies      
This feels like a huge loss. Readmill stood head and shoulders above other reading apps like Kindle and iBooks in terms of design. It was also one of the few services that would let you upload ePub books to your account through the website and then sync your library to your mobile device.

"Now cracks a noble heart.Good night, sweet prince,And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

I wish the team all the best at Dropbox, and I'm sure Dropbox will benefit immensely from their remarkable talent for building amazing software. At the same time, though, I wish they would have just started charging $10 a month for the service!

ianstormtaylor 13 hours ago 2 replies      
This is an incredibly, incredibly well done shutdown statement.

It explains clearly what happened; it isn't overly congratulatory to themselves; it puts a clear emphasis on how their users can export their data; it thanks those who helped them on the journey; it beautifully summarizes everything they built and stood for, from the solid typography, to the interactive timeline, to the team photos, to the simple, clean choice of a "Epilogue" as the title. And it'll be the perfect homepage come July 1st too.

Sad to see such a high-quality product shut down. I've looked to Readmill for design inspiration a lot over the past year.

fennecfoxen 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, at least they're not pitching it as a grand success for all, and won't end up on http://ourincrediblejourney.tumblr.com/
antr 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a huge fan of Dropbox. Here is my long-term wishful thinking of their acquisitions:

    - Audiogalaxy Dec 2012: online iTunes-like audio library, synced across/streamed to all of my devices    - Snapjoy Dec 2012: online iPhoto-like experience, synced...    - Mailbox Mar 2013: can Dropbox be the new Gmail? If Google search needs disruption, Gmail is no different    - Zulip Mar 2014: online chat and team collaboration with file/screenshot/text/etc sharing integrated to a whole new level. Maybe Droplr/CloudApp on steroids    - Readmill Mar 2014: online ezine/book library... maybe doc management?!  
Bottom line: to become everyone's all-in-one cloud, synced, folder. This would be the platform, a ~/user/ in the cloud

PS: from their Sold and Endorse acquisitions I can only speculate that they might have a(n) (e)commerce play in their mind.

austinl 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Readmill was without a doubt one of my favorite apps. It did one thing, and it did it very well. Like many others, I wish it was going to be absorbed into Dropbox (like Mailbox was last year) and remain operational. Perhaps there will be some level of ebook integration in the Dropbox app in the future.
dangoldin 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Damn. I'm more saddened by this than any other acquisition. Readmill is (was?) just so much better than the alternatives.
eurosmoove 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Any more on the apparent $8 million "acqui-hire" by Dropbox? http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/27/readmill-acqui-hired/
joshmlewis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
They mentioned no new signups were allowed but I still managed to sign up via Facebook and created a new account. Not sure how to get a hold of them but they might want to know that.
schlagetown 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Disappointed to hear this they've made by far the best reading app for iOS, and perhaps anywhere. The FAQ tries to preempt the "but why not implement X, Y, or Z potential revenue model?" question by saying they didn't think anything would work. But that's not satisfying; I don't want to believe that there really was absolutely no solution that would've made it viable as a business, or at least saved it from impending total shutdown. Always interesting (though difficult) to read these "we're closing up shop" notices, knowing how much history and context and problem solving went on behind the scenes that we'll just never be privy to. Hope they continue to do great things with the mobile reading experience at Dropbox!
lcnmrn 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not make Readmill part of Dropbox app ecosystem (e.g. Mailbox)? Just a read, sync and backup app without the social network features. I really hate to do all this manually with yet another service.
jipiboily 14 hours ago 1 reply      
What? Another service I start to use and shutdowns just a few days later...sad!

That's a problem with free services, and sometimes even with some paid services.

caseyf7 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Any recommendations for a replacement?
balladeer 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What I felt bad about is all the bullshit they typed instead of just saying:

>> Hey, we got acqui-hired by Dropbox and we are now shutting ReadMill down! Thanks for all the fish and hope you enjoyed ours.

That's it. That's all it would have taken.

useraccount 13 hours ago 0 replies      
jesus christ.
Stripe: Bitcoin Sign-up stripe.com
532 points by cperciva  1 day ago   188 comments top 30
hendzen 1 day ago 4 replies      
Awesome. Now to see how their integration works with regards to confirmation time. The best solution IMO is to use a risk analyzer to determine the number of needed confirmations. 0 conf for small payments for a merchant with a low fraud rate, with increasing confirmations needed as the size of the payment grows. I would look at BitPay's checkout flow to see the state of the art here.

Also hoping they implement the payment protocol (BIP70), which gives a much better user experience and improved security. Instead of copy pasting an address, a signed payment request is sent to the users Bitcoin wallet with a message stating something like "Bob's shop has requested a payment of 10USD (20mBTC) - accept?". Some particularly insidious coin stealing malware has been developed that modifies the payment address in the clipboard to be changed to an attackers address, and the whole UX around copying long Base58 encoded strings is horrible. Furthermore, the signed payment request serves as a receipt. With BIP70, the UX of bitcoin payments surpasses that of CC payments, IMO.

josephlord 1 day ago 2 replies      
The interesting part of this from my point of view is how Stripe will manage the conversion of received bitcoin back into dollars. Will they directly sell bitcoin to consumers themselves or trade on one (or more) of the exchanges.

Stripe are obviously taking the risk of the volatility so will probably want to keep the bitcoin float that they hold fairly small. They also need to keep a reasonable margin on these transactions and watch for people who don't complete transactions unless the price moves in their favour (after the price has been quoted).

I assume refunds are of bitcoin to the agreed dollar value not the same number of bitcoins as was spent, otherwise there would be risks there too.

Edit: Found this in other story: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7481219 http://recode.net/2014/03/27/stripe-merchants-will-soon-be-a...)

Payments will arrive in their bank accounts in seven days or fewer. Neither Stripe nor its customers will hold onto the bitcoin, meaning the businesses that accept bitcoin will not be subject to the volatility of its price. Collison said his company is working with a variety of undisclosed partners to exchange the bitcoin into local currency in near real time.

tomasien 1 day ago 8 replies      
The concept that Stripe may be moving away from strictly supporting Credit Card payments (which are awful, but necessary for now) and into alternatives is so exciting to me that I am literally shaking. We're building infrastructure to make bank-to-bank transfers palatable to consumers and drive their cost toward zero, but it's only if thought leaders like the Collisons embrace the move away from CC's that the move will happen. This is such a huge step!
dcc1 1 day ago 1 reply      
I will stick with Bitpay, thank you very much. They are also actively researching and testing bitcoin stuff > http://bitcore.io/blog/articles/cosign-our-multisignature-wa...

I used Stripe for several months, but then they said my business is "too high a risk" for them, 7 years in business (longer than Stripe), hosting company in Ireland, very low charge-back rate, all customers more than happy, good support etc!

Since then opened a merchant account with Elavon after referal from our bank for credit cards and started using Bitpay for bitcoin, not only have lower fees (0% in case of Bitpay + 30$ a month for professional account), but also registered with Mastercard 3D Secure and Verified by Visa, which Stripe doesn't offer either.

jypepin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've always loved Stripe for their innovative side and the way they made accepting / making credit card payments so easier and nicer.

I'm so glad they integrated bitcoin, which I think will be a really good contribution to make btc spread amongst normal users.

That's great to see them becoming more of a payment processor versus the simple credit card processor they were.

I love stripe, I love btc, and seeing them together is just really cool and a big step for both.

waffle_ss 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd like to see an easing of the "prohibited businesses"[0] restrictions for Bitcoin payments, since they aren't beholden to the credit networks for these transactions. I have a business in the works that tangentially falls under category #2 so I may not be able to use Stripe as it currently stands.

[0]: https://stripe.com/prohibited_businesses

deegles 1 day ago 1 reply      
Given the recent guidance from the IRS regarding bitcoin (it's property like stocks or bonds... http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/0325irsbitc...) I wouldn't try to use it as a day-to-day currency. Every single transaction will represent a taxable event, requiring calculating cost-basis and capital gain/loss. If Stripe were announcing today a "pay with MSFT shares" feature, people would ridicule them. That's essentially what bitcoin payment is. (in the US at least
jeffgreco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Definitely enjoyed the email signup placeholder: satoshi@example.com
evv 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pow! Add me to the list of people foaming at the mouth for this. I'm refreshing my email every minute in anticipation of seeing their API.

Now, under one provider, we can easily accept CC and BTC. This is great news for consumers because it means coinbase and stripe are now in head-to-head competition. These are both well funded startups with great usability. Bring on the feature war and lower transaction fees!

This is most exciting because this will enable great micropayment support on stripe, enabling a whole new breed of marketplace. Also, it is now easy to offer paid anonymous consumption of an API. This is a whole new world of opportunity!

rjvir 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stripe doesn't mess around with innovator's dilemma. Bitcoin was one of their weaknesses and now they could turn it into a strength overnight.
rebelidealist 1 day ago 6 replies      
I wish all these resources spent & millions of investment dollars would go to a better version of Bitcoin. BT is a major breakthru but it is still in an alpha stage. The main problem is that it is deflationary, to support a global economy it needs to slightly inflationary. This is because for hundreds of millions of people to use BT, the supply of the coins need to gradually increase to support the flow of spending. Right now more half of Bitcoin supply is already own by someone (a lot of them stolen). The BitCoin owners are holding on their stash in hopes that they will get a return on their investment. They will sell their BT for currency rather buy depreciating goods with them.
Smudge 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how this will work. Once out of beta, will it be a default option, or will it require extra steps for both the developer and the end-user? And will we be able to operate primarily in Bitcoin end-to-end, or will everything be converted to/from a preferred currency (e.g. USD) during each transaction?
arboroia 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is quite an intriguing move by Stripe, and I assume they'll provide a similar service to Neo&Bee, where merchants will be completely shielded from the price volatility in Bitcoin. It would be interesting if Stripe adds this Bitcoin support to the Stripe Checkout by default, being one of the first mainstream deployment of Bitcoin payments. It might also allow them to reduce fees, which have been largely set by the large card processors so far.

[Edit: Fixed bad grammar]

dergachev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Actual article by cperciva about accepting bitcoin via stripe, not sure why that wasn't linked directly:http://www.daemonology.net/blog/2014-03-27-tarsnap-bitcoin.h...
richcollins 1 day ago 0 replies      
Will it have an option to retain some % in BTC rather than selling them all for fiat?

Any plans for an option to accept fiat and convert to BTC?

troyk 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wish they would add ACH
akama 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how Stripe will handle customer disputes. Obviously Bitcoin doesn't have chargebacks, so will customers be out of luck if the merchant doesn't provide the services?
mcmire 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why are they doing this? It's too late. No one is going to want to make Bitcoin transactions through a US-based company now because you know the Fed is going to start creating all sorts of lawsuits unless people follow the rules. I have zero Bitcoins but if I had any I'd play it safe and put it somewhere overseas (or if I did put it in a US-based company I'd want to make damn sure they were backed by an overseas bank).
bachback 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder whether this something to do with Wells Fargo's stance, which is positive: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-wellsfargo-bitc...
newaccountfool 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is huge, maybe not for Stripe but this is huge for Bitcoin.
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
So all this time satoshi has been at example.com; who would've guessed?
Dorian-Marie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anybody have screenshots of the Bitcoin integration, the iframes are down.
loganu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome.I wanted to integrate BTC as an option to cut out their 3% fee. If they can handle it for 0.5 to 1.5%, I'm happy to keep them in the loop
hw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Bitcoin aside, Stripe has been an awesome landing page factory IMO. Love watching them churn out landing page after landing page (Checkout, Marketplaces, and now one for Bitcoin)
ConAntonakos 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to know more about the animations they used here. :)
ertemplin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks like we took down their iframes
notastartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
what sort of things can you build with this besides accepting payment in bitcoins.
dabit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that read Stripe: Bacon at first glance?
andersthue 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it april 1'st already?
pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hm...it's only March 27. Is Stripe about to jump the shark?

Edit: the reason I think it could be a JTS moment is that I associate "the addition of bitcoin" with "tired marketing stunt performed by irrelevant companies like Overstock". I could be wrong.

Visual walk through of Euclid's proof of the Pythagorean theorem setosa.io
85 points by vicapow  18 hours ago   25 comments top 13
netrus 17 hours ago 1 reply      
If you enjoy visualizations of Euclidean geometry, I highly recommend the work of Byrne:


Example: http://www.math.ubc.ca/~cass/Euclid/book1/images/bookI-prop1...

(I found this to be one of the most impressive examples used by Edward Tufte in his books).

onedognight 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In case it's not obvious, you can drag the points in the diagram to change the size of triangles and the associated squares.
justinpombrio 17 hours ago 3 replies      
Or, if you want a proof with fewer words,http://isomorphismes.tumblr.com/image/790452593
graeme 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A bit OT, but I'm interesting in going through Euclid by drawing it with a compass and ruler.

Is there any good guide to doing this? I have Byrne's copy of Euclid. But I found there were multiple points I got stuck when trying to draw it myself.

symmetricsaurus 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Very nice visualization.

Reading these old proofs is quite tedious but having this visualization makes it much easier to follow.

Still, trying to understand Euclid makes you thankful for the more than 2000 years of advancements in mathematical notation and theory.

agumonkey 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny, few days ago I wanted to write it from scratch starting through the geometric 'interpretation', just to see if I remembered. I had to use `square of sum` identity though.


ps: vector editor is not my website.

avmich 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Not very clean. It's not immediately obvious how some statements are derived from initial axioms.
Houshalter 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel stupid. This is very difficult to follow.
mishmax 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool. What made you choose Angular over D3.js for this btw?
commlink 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Well done, but it would have been better if the graphics depicted a right scalene triangle -- the more general case -- rather than a right isosceles triangle.
kljohnson 12 hours ago 0 replies      
gravity13 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. What is Setosa?
philtodd 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried several times to explain the essence of Euclid's proof to a non-mathematician (my wife). Here is the explanation which clicked.


Y Combinator's YC VC may lose the actual VCs cnn.com
80 points by quant  18 hours ago   53 comments top 10
salimmadjd 17 hours ago 1 reply      
> 2. Negative signaling risks if the participating firms passed on a startup

To me that would be the most significant reason to do it.

corry 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The best way to look at the uncapped note is like investing in an index fund.

Rather than picking and choosing specific companies, the money behind YC VC is betting that the basket of companies as a whole is going to perform well on aggregate (thanks to power law).

It's really putting faith in the YC selection process / mentoring multiplier as a whole rather than any particular company (which they can do later after demo day).

lquist 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a bit confused.

The YC VC program (and it's earlier incarnation) made sense to me because VCs wanted access to YC deal flow. But now with the new program traditional LPs are investing at the same time (i.e., acceptance to YC) as YC LPs, but with much worse terms.

Maybe I'm missing something here?

downandout 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know how these investments/loans have actually performed overall? We don't know what the catalyst for this move is. It makes me wonder if the smart money (from VC's) has decided that the YC model isn't generating ROI, leaving YC to go searching for dumb(er) money (from LP's).
argumentum 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting, obviously I doubt Sam/PG will comment prematurely. However I wonder if this affects the summer batch that's applying right now?
mindcrime 15 hours ago 5 replies      
If there was one change I'd like to see YC make, it's this: expand the franchise outside of the Bay area. Open a branch on the East Coast (Raleigh/Durham would be a nice location!).

OK, yes, I'm being selfish here, but this is just the way it is for us... moving, even for 3 months, just isn't an option and may never be. But that's really the main thing preventing us from taking a stab at doing YC.

Of course, we do have a similar accelerator/incubator here in The Startup Factory, but competition and more choices are a Good Thing. :-)

nishankkhanna 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is good for YC startups in the long run. When you're out raising a series A, you really don't want the negative signals when Horowitz or Khosla decide to pass.
bourdine 10 hours ago 1 reply      
We apply to YC S14, and I think, it does not matter. That's why - if your product team will selected, you still get access to best community. Anyway, you get as much money from VC on Demo Day, as your product look. And you still YC alumnum. So, don't worry. Just work harder.
mikikian 17 hours ago 2 replies      
On an unrelated note, does anyone know if YC is investing their $[18]k using their SAFE security or will they continue using Series AA?
hisabness 13 hours ago 1 reply      
what is an LPA?
Screw stigma. Im coming out. medium.com
372 points by markmassie  16 hours ago   124 comments top 21
milesf 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I used to struggle with Bipolar Spectrum disorder. After 9 years of medication, therapy, prayer, and a lot of ups and downs I've been declared free of the diagnosis by my psychiatrist.

I gained a lot of weight because of medications (normal weight is 210lbs, which is fine for my 6' 4" frame, but medication caused me to balloon up to over 444lbs). I have not been able to work at my peak for many years. I'm now almost 45, and I feel like I'm starting to get my life back. Now that I'm off the main drug that treated my disorder (risperidone) my weight is starting to drop.

I know people are scared of mental illness. I see it in their faces, or the way they treat me differently as time goes by. But that's okay, I have close friends who have accepted me for who I am without that fear.

My wife wishes I wouldn't tell people about my history. My health is no one's business but mine. However, I choose to tell people about it, because of the stigma. Because I'm neither ashamed or afraid for people to know. I _will_ lose friends, work, and opportunities because of my choice to be open about it, but I don't care because I want to fight the stigma.

Everyone has a friend or family member that struggles with some form of mental illness. Everyone. I have seen too many people suffer in silence, and some even take their own lives because the pain is too much.

I was suicidal years ago. I suffered horribly for many months on end, waking up in the morning and just focussing on getting through the next hour, until I finally reached the end of the day and could go back to sleep so I could have some relief.

There is no shame in mental illness. People used to be afraid of people who had heart disease, as if they might "catch something" from them. The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies, and it's prone to have problems just like any other organ.

My name is Miles Forrest. I have wrestled with mental illness for many years, and I'm happy to say I have overcome it with help from doctors, family, friends, and God (if you're offended by my attribution to God, please don't be. I respect a person's right to believe whatever they want, all I ask is they respect my right to believe whatever I want). I can't say I'm cured, because there's a possibility I might relapse at some point in the future. But I have acquired the skills, knowledge, and support network that I know, without a doubt, I would be able to beat it back down again. Mental illness doesn't define me, but learning to fight, persevere and lean on others when I need to has made me a better man.

You can mock or ridicule me if you want, but I'm not talking to you. I'm talking to the man or woman out there who is afraid there might be something wrong with their mind, and who feel alone and afraid. I know how scary it is. I know how you feel like you're the only person in the world who has felt the way you do. You're not, and you are not alone. If you are that person, email me at miles@coderpath.com, and I will walk with you as a friend and stranger to get you help.

pyduan 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a courageous article.

Sadly, it seems mental illnesses are one of the great taboos of today (and don't even get me started on the state of mental health care in the US). Similarly, mental illnesses are extremely misunderstood, and people tend to distrust people who suffer from one even though illnesses such as depression may affect 5 to 10% of the population [1] and as much as one in four adults are affected by a mental illness in general in a given year [2]. A significant portion of the population is affected, but for the most part it remains unadvisable to talk about it. It's the elephant in the room.

This is compounded by the fact American culture in particular tends to disproportionately value extroversion and appearance of happiness. This leads many people to remain closeted by fear of repercussions, both on one's social and work life. Even worse, it prevents people from seeking necessary help because of the attached stigma ("but I'm not crazy!"). There are known cases where people are punished for having seeked professional help. For exemple, people who admitted to "suicidal tendencies", however serious, may be refused US visas [3]. The discrepancy between how willingly people talk about their trip to a doctor vs. a therapist is huge and obvious, and it shouldn't be.

Now why should this be relevant for the HN crowd? As someone who's very close to these issues, it seems to me this is one of the few social issues where the tech industry is not as progressive as it could be. Our industry tends to produce myths of super(wo)men with alpha personalities; we admire leaders, disrupters, bigger-than-life personalities, sometimes even assholes. Furthermore, this is a small world where, for better or for worse, a lot depends on word-of-mouth and personal reputation, and where "cultural fit" is openly hailed as a criterion for employment despite the vagueness of the term, which can hide what would otherwise be considered blatant discrimination (cf. that article on ageism not so long ago). The same goes for founders: would you think twice about investing in a non-established individual with a history of OCD? Depression?

What I am getting at is that mental illness is a combination of neurobiological and psychological causes, not a weakness in character -- but in an industry that values strength of character above everything else, the fact many ignore this can be extremely destructive.

We can do better. The author has done the world a great service by publishing his story. I hope more follow suit.

[1] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1mdd_adult.shtml

[2] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-coun...

[3] http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-health-issues-can...

ds9 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is admirable and I wish the author well. His example may also help others.

It should not be taken as a signal that "outing" oneself is advisable for others in comparable situations. This guy is very fortunate that he is well established in a career and can point to good performance in his positions, unaffected (from the employer's point of view) by his condition.

Others are much more vulnerable to prejudice and discrimination, and might be better advised to stay closeted.

quanticle 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This quote seems apropos:

Though many object to psychiatrys perceived encroachment into normality, we rarely hear such complaints about the rest of medicine. Few lament that nearly all of us, at some point in our lives, seek care from a physician and take all manner of medications, most without need of a prescription, for one physical ailment or another. If we can accept that it is completely normal to be medically sick, not only with transient conditions such as coughs and colds, but also chronic disorders such as farsightedness, lower back pain, high blood pressure or diabetes, why cant we accept that it might also be normal to be psychiatrically ill at various points in our lives? The answer seems to be that psychiatric disorders carry a much greater degree of stigma compared with medical conditions. People worry that psychiatrists think everyone is crazy because they make the mistake of equating any form of psychiatric illness with being crazy. But thats like equating a cough with tuberculosis or lung cancer.


Jtsummers 14 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing I'd like to add to this discussion. It may be difficult, and it may not be something you should do until they're older, but talk to your children about issues that you have and that run in your family. It can save them a lot of heartache and difficulty down the road if they have similar issues. In particular, knowing my family's history of alcoholism and drug abuse helped me avoid both. Given my issues with depression, if I was drinking like my peers in college, I probably wouldn't be here today. Similarly, I didn't know the cause of their issues (depression) until I was already deep into an episode that lasted a couple years. If I'd known beforehand what to look out for, and that it wasn't uncommon in my family, it might not have lasted as long.
Camillo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Speaking of stigma keeping people from seeking treatment, how does this interplay with the fact that most people in America get health insurance through their jobs? Aren't people afraid that some information will leak out if they seek mental treatment through their insurance?And what about the "counseling" services many large organizations offer?
D9u 11 hours ago 0 replies      
From day one here at HN my profile states that I am schizophrenic... Not that it's done me any good here, but I don't see why I should hide this fact from people I am likely to never meet in real life.

Kudos to those who could care less about social stigma.

natural_capital 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Showcasing your own story to set the precedent for people to acknowledge mental illness as a real illness is a bold and admirable move. I would note however, that the recovery process for every individual is wildly different and shouldn't be overlooked.

Acknowledgement of the mental illness issue is one part of the problem, which will hopefully lead to better, more integrated treatment lines in the future.

michaelochurch 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Cyclothymic. That's a bipolar spectrum disorder, but it doesn't match the lay image of the manic-depressive. The episodes are milder and shorter, but they come on quickly. A "depression attack" can last 3 hours, resolve in a panic attack, and be gone 20 minutes later. Most people who know me wouldn't know that I have it. The one "insane" thing I've done (trolling, back in the day) had the specific purpose of keeping insanity out of my "IRL" existence.

As with all spectrum disorders, people seem to focus on the visible, uncontainable, and publicly dangerous 0.1% and ignore that 99.9% of people with the disorder or "on the spectrum" are not dangerous, wouldn't fit most people's image of "mentally ill", and can be very well-adjusted.

I tend to think of mood disorders as anti-psychopathy. Psychopaths have low or nonexistent mood and emotional sensitivity, which is why they're social high performers and (if ambitious) excel in the work world. Some mood disorders seem to be uncorrelated to context (i.e. episodes happen "for no reason") and that's probably more true of the severe cases, but most people with mood disorders are normal people with hypersensitivity, such as the OP whose brain would take personal criticism extremely seriously, unable to block it out or cope.

Aaron Swartz comes to mind as a archetypical anti-psychopath. They tend to be moralistic, less fearful of negative consequences when doing what they think is right, and prone to mood and anxiety disorders. Anti-psychopathy isn't a desirable thing. It can be just as ill-adjusted. Just as psychopathy tends to be good for the individual (in terms of material prosperity, social rank, and sexual access) but bad for society, anti-psychopathy tends to be good for society but harmful to the individual.

What's happening right now, in Silicon Valley, is a battle to the death between real technologists (who tend to be anti-psychopaths) and the mainstream business culture of entitled executives and board-whores (psychopaths). With Snapchat and Clinkle setting the tone in the current Valley, rents becoming unaffordable, and no-poach agreements all over the Valley, psychopaths seem to be winning.

I think that mood disorders in particular require a certain balance. People tend to do unwise or harmful things, especially when inexperienced, and those with mood disorders are not exceptions. You have to own your actions, even if you made them in a struggle that most people wouldn't understand. That said, it's also important to realize "it's not me, it's them" and keep your pride intact. Mental health issues often give you a front-row seat for how shitty people can be when they think you're weak.

Much of what comes out of these disorders isn't harmful in the least. It's just slightly embarrassing, but plenty of people will hang you out to dry just because they're weak, useless cowards. This may be why people with mood disorders (at least, the milder kind that won't interfere with ethical behavior; a truly "manic" person, noting that mania-- not the milder hypomania-- is very rare even in people with bipolar, does not know who he is) tend to evolve into moralistic, hyper-ethical anti-psychopaths.

I'll give a semi-fictional example. Let's say you're a programmer and you have a hypomanic episode. You still go to work, don't cause any issues, and spend 2 weeks building something you were never assigned to do. It turns out to be really good work and useful to the company (as much, or moreso, than putting that time in on your assigned work) but your boss is pissed off that you were working on this side project, instead of your assigned work, and tags you as "unreliable". A morally decent person would recognize that as wrong (it's health discrimination, and counterproductive, to punish people with "creative flare-ups") but, even still, stories like that are so common in Silicon Valley as to be unremarkable. Anti-psychopaths tend to need an R&D environment where they're measured by performance over time, rather than minute-by-minute superficial reliability (at which they can't possibly compete) and those, sadly, tend to be turning rare in the current anti-intellectual (and pro-psychopathic) environment.

joyeuse6701 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed that read. I think the world is a better place getting to hear his story.
markbot 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This was really well written. It says a lot of things that I feel the tech industry tends to ignore.
teahat 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Aside from medication, for OCD in particular there are therapeutic options that can be (life-changingly) effective. The OCD centre [http://www.ocdcentre.com/about-us] is one such place. If you think you might have OCD (last I read the incidence was around 1/30) talking to someone about is the best first step. Especially as one common and pernicious effect of OCD is that it will convince you that you do not have it.
ngcazz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thank you for posting this.

The testimony on intrusive thoughts hits so close to home, I'm considering seeking professional help. I wonder if there is a different way to think and live!

DanBC 13 hours ago 1 reply      
People say the treatment in England is much better, and it is, unless you are under 18.

MH treatment is underfunded in England (and this has recently been written into commissioning contracts) and it is worse for children and young people.

In patient beds for children are limited. A child who needs an in patient bed may have to travel hundreds of miles to get that bed. They may even need to travel to a different country.

A child in the south of England may not have a bed available anywhere in England and might need to go to Scotland for a bed.

Apart from the obvious cost of distance and the distress of being so far from home (although getting distance from an abusive home can be useful) that child is now under a different legal system. Thus, the rules for detaining them against their will; force feeding; forced medication; etc etc are all slightly different.

rokhayakebe 13 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing I would like to offer would be for American doctors to perform comparisons across cultures, countries, and societies. I am restricting the above purely to mental illness. There are many mental diseases I only witnessed in America, and not in Africa. I do not know what the meaning of this observation would be if proven factual, but I think it is worth exploring.
mbesto 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone very close and dear to me has a mental illness. She was super nervous to disclose this to me for fear that I may think differently of her. The thing she most appreciated about my reaction was that I said "Let me know if there is anything that I should know about your illness that may affect you in a way that may make you behave differently than you normally do, otherwise I will behave and act as if it simply doesn't exist." Suffice to say, I don't actually remember what illness she has.
h1karu 12 hours ago 2 replies      
In case you never considered it before there is a heavy PROFIT INCENTIVE for your psychiatrist to diagnose you with some form of mental illness that he is familiar with. You need to become a domain expert yourself in order to figure out if you're being manipulated for profit or if the diagnosis is legitimate.
comrh 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Another "coming out" story is from Michael Landsberg, a Canadian hockey analyst on TSN. His hashtag #sicknotweak inspires me when I'm feeling like crap.http://www.thelavinagency.com/blog-mental-health-speaker-mic...
insensible 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's wonderful to have a courageous person breaking the ice on difficult topics. Bravo to Mark. And the love shown by his wife is deeply touching.
TAC1234567 14 hours ago 7 replies      
This will not be a popular opinion, nor is it a nice opinion, but sometimes the truth is neither and I think it is valuable to be explicit about these things sometimes.

The "stigma" against mental illness makes sense in a lot of ways.

I do not mean: that the mentally ill deserve fewer legal rights than others, deserve any kind of bad treatment or violence or ridicule, shouldn't be "accepted", or bear any "responsibility" for their condition.

I do mean: life is full of subtle social contracts that mental illness often causes people to flout. Mental illness (in many cases) makes people less predictable and reliable. Harder to deal with.

Some people reading this will say "obviously that is true, which we all acknowledge but have no reason to dwell on, and that is why it is a complex situation that demands awareness". Others will say "that is false and you are a bad person". First group, I refer you to second group.

If you are 100% committed to the goals of your organization (growing a startup, winning a war, whatever), you will be very hesitant to add a mentally ill person to your team/company/platoon. This makes sense. It sucks. Being mentally ill sucks. This is one of the ways.

That doesn't necessarily mean anything needs to or can be done to change it.

JackFr 15 hours ago 9 replies      
I'm not sure what to think about this. I accept that the author is suffering and in anguish, and I truly wish him well. Despite his obvious accomplishments and all the trappings of success, I would not trade places with him. His subjective experience seems to be painful and is no less real to him than mine is to me.

At the same time, I don't think he is ill. While I don't doubt that he is suffering, I don't think it it is helpful to class his suffering as an illness. I don't think anyone argues that his symptoms are caused by an infection or a defect in an organ, so his disorder lacks the physical basis for a typical illness. At the same time, he has symptoms. And therapy, and possibly drugs, make him feel subjectively better. He chooses to engage in a regime of therapy which (presumably) has self reported benefits.

But I don't think it is helpful to think of his plight like we think of malaria or polio or heart disease. When we talk about 'emotional disorders', we implicitly take on an enormous amount of cultural context as well as normative judgements about how someone 'should' feel. And the danger is that one will come to believe that an unpleasant mental state in an otherwise healthy brain is something to be cured through the application of science.

That being said, I agree with the main point -- that there is no shame in his mental state. I suppose my point is that it is not necessary (and should not be necessary) to reclassify what a disease is in order for a class of people to maintain their dignity. And above all, I wish this man well and by no means mean to diminish his pain, or the courage it took to write this.

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