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A Message to Our Customers apple.com
1748 points by epaga  5 hours ago   378 comments top 87
1
epaga 5 hours ago 11 replies      
Huge props to Apple - here's hoping against hope that Google, Facebook, and Amazon get behind this.

One thing I was wondering is how Apple is even able to create a backdoor. It is explained toward the end:

"The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by brute force, trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer."

This is actually quite reassuring - what this means is that even Apple can't break into an iPhone with a secure passphrase (10+ characters) and disabled Touch ID - which is hackable with a bit of effort to get your fingerprint.

2
thothamon 1 hour ago 4 replies      
So the FBI is asking Apple to build a tool that will unlock security measures of an existing iPhone, like the one in the San Bernadino shooting, and allow it to be read.

The problem with this is that no such tool should be possible to build. It should not be a matter of yes or no; it should be simply impossible for Apple to build such a tool without the private key of the user, which Apple does not have.

If it is possible to write a piece of software which can circumvent the protections of the iPhone without the user's private key, then Apple wrote its security software incorrectly. Either they wrote it with an appalling lack of security understanding; or they left in important backdoors, either knowingly or through ignorance. But if they wrote the software correctly and did not create backdoors of which they're aware, then the government's request is actually impossible -- cannot be done.

So which is it, Apple? Is the point moot because you did this right? Or have you already placed backdoors in the product which the FBI is now asking you to exploit for their benefit?

3
ghshephard 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised that nobody on this thread has commented on the real substance of this response. It has nothing to do with Apple brute forcing iPhones for the police (which it has done for years, with a simple court order) - but instead, is Apple making it abundantly clear, that if they comply (or are forced to comply) with the All Writs Act of 1789 to create this particular back door, then that opens the floodgate moving forward for all sorts of requests to add backdoors/decrease security.

It's entirely possible, that the FBI can then use this precedent to simply have Apple remove all security from an iPhone in pursuit of an active investigation, which can be done with a straightforward firmware update - which IOS users tend to do without much thought.

4
firloop 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Even though the matters are slightly different, I couldn't help but think that Cook is giving off a Boards of Canada vibe in this post (in a good way).

"Now that the show is over, and we have jointly exercised our constitutional rights, we would like to leave you with one very important thought: Some time in the future, you may have the opportunity to serve as a juror in a censorship case or a so-called obscenity case. It would be wise to remember that the same people who would stop you from listening to Boards of Canada may be back next year to complain about a book, or even a TV program. If you can be told what you can see or read, then it follows that you can be told what to say or think. Defend your constitutionally protected rights - no one else will do it for you. Thank you."

https://youtu.be/1-FI6D8ZXpc

5
Robin_Message 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If the UK record on anti-terror scope creep is anything to go by, not creating this backdoor is a very good idea.

In the UK, laws originally intended for surveilling terrorists were/are routinely used by local councils (similar to districts I think) to monitor whether citizens are putting the correct rubbish/recycling into the correct bin. [1]

This is a pandora's box, and the correct answer is not to debate whether we should open it just this once, it's to encase it in lead and throw it into the nearest volcano. Good on Apple for "wasting" shareholders money and standing up for this.

[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3333366/Half-of-counc... - and lest the source be questioned, this is one of the more reactionary newspapers in the UK.

6
marak830 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Im generally not an apple supporter(i dont like the closed eco system), i am very plesantly surprised they posted this.

I am quite disappointed that the us courts are trying to force apple todo this, and in my opinion, its just to use this case to set a precedent.

I hope Apple cant get it to work, but id hate to see what the courts would do if that happened.

7
nindalf 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm really impressed that Apple is standing up to the government and protecting its users' rights. I've never really considered the iPhone worth the premium price tag, but policies like this have changed my mind.

Could someone answer a question I have though? The government wants Apple to create this backdoor and tailor it to the specific device, so presumably it will have a line that goes

 if (!deviceID.equals("san_b_device_id")) return;
To make the backdoor general purpose, this line would need to be removed. But doing so would invalidate the signature and it can't be resigned afterwards because the attacker won't have Apple's signing key. So is the open letter a matter of principle that they won't build any backdoor, now or in the future, rather than a specific concern about this backdoor?

8
Artemis2 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Publicizing the case themselves in a very good move.

However, the iPhone of the attacker is an iPhone 5C, which does not have Touch ID or a Secure Enclave. This means that the time between passcode unlock attempts is not enforced by the cryptographic coprocessor. More generally, there's no software integrity protection, and the encryption key is relatively weak (since it is only based on the user's passcode).

The amount of work needed to turn security into good user experience is phenomenal: https://www.apple.com/business/docs/iOS_Security_Guide.pdf

9
GreaterFool 4 hours ago 6 replies      
This is interesting:

"Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software which does not exist today would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someones physical possession."

Am I reading this right? Apple, if they chose to, can make a version of iOS that disables security features and encryption and load it onto existing phone even though the phone is locked and encrypted?

10
asymmetric 4 hours ago 13 replies      
I see a lot of people saying they're impressed, admired, etc. at Apple for doing this.

It's not about giving props: Apple is not doing this out of goodwill, or because they believe in protecting privacy. Apple has a competitive advantage against Google/Facebook in that its business model does not depend on violating their customer's privacy.

They are just exploiting that competitive advantage.

Cfr. https://ar.al/notes/apple-vs-google-on-privacy-a-tale-of-abs...

11
bmoresbest55 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
As much as I would love to believe in Apple (and any other large tech company), a part of me still thinks that maybe they are working with the government in this letter. The FBI knows that the average US citizen does not want to be hacked. What is to stop the FBI from allowing Apple to say these things and put on a show publicly while simultaneously giving over the 'master key' anyway?
12
lucio 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can't they dump all the data from that particular device and then send it to the FBI? Maybe the judge will order that?Obviously they're confessing they can break the encryption but they would not do it, on principle. I don't see how they can win this fight.If it's the iphone of the shooter, and they can decrypt it, they should do it. It is not the same as to give the FBI a tool to unlock any iphone.
13
leecarraher 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Backdoor is somewhat of a misconception. What they want are two front doors, ie we encrypt your message with the recipients public key, and we make a copy with our(in this case apple's) public key. We send both messages over the internet, and apple or your isp/cell service provider (we can also assume nsa prism has it too) stores the apple key'd message or both. When the government wants access, they can issue a subpoena for information from the isp/cell provider for the encrypted data (or just download it from Saratoga Spings), then they issue a warrant to apple to decrypt it with their private key. This is likely the only reasonable and responsible outcome that I can see resulting from this debate. Or, pessimistically it becomes an issue for political fodder and we leave it up to politicians who have little to no understanding of the technology to devise some technologically inept solution.
14
dcw303 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Very impressive letter. They've expressed their position in language that a layman can understand, there's abundant evidence that they respect the intent of the law authorities, and even clearer evidence that they are drawing a line in the sand based on their principles. They will protect their customers.

I wish more companies could speak so clearly and courageously.

15
dh997 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Tim Cook: a really nice guy with blue whale-sized cohones.

There can be no compromise because China, Syria and Turkey would also lean on Apple to break into phones of dissidents, and pretty soon, future whistleblowers here in US too in order to prevent leaks (iPhone 7 and iCar notwithstanding).

That's the tradeoff in not giving in to faint, vague "maybes" that there were "external coordination" when in all likihood it was the ultraconservative, Saudi half leading this duo into the kookooland of violent extremism.

The security services will just have to buy exploits, develop malware, cultivate human intelligence sources and monitor everything the old-fashioned way... It's not like that kid in a YouTube video finding a jailbreak exploit for an iPhone and not releasing a tool is going to sit on it, he's going to auction it off to the shop or country with the most $$$.

16
lemming 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This may be one of the most important things Apple has done. Whether or not you agree with their position, it's incredibly important that tech companies start publicly explaining things like the fundamental problems with backdoors so that a lay person can understand it. Apple have the credibility to make non-technical people take their argument seriously, and the reach to get the message out to a vast number of people. I'm really pleased they're taking this position.
17
wildmXranat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
To all in-love-with-Apple downvoters, please read this Schneier sound analysis of the same type of situation that RIM(Blackberry) has been met with: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2010/08/uae_to_ban_bl...

/quote:"RIM's carefully worded statements about BlackBerry security are designed to make their customers feel better, while giving the company ample room to screw them." /endquote

I have lost enough points on this thread to simply double down on this issue.

This is not a good sign at all. While Google can't compete with Apple on the principle of "not spying on their users". All Apple has to to is to publicize it and then ask for forgiveness from it's users later.

18
krylon 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Given the way a lot of people (and the media) tend to go completely bonkers when somebody says "terrorist", this is commendable.

It remains to be seen, though, what Apple will actually do, in legal terms. Will they flat-out refuse to cooperate, even if this means that they will be fined or Mr. Cook will be imprisoned for contempt or something like that? Will they actually send their lawyers to challenge the court decision? That would be very interesting to watch, and if they succeeded, it would create a precedent for a lot of other companies. But so would their failure.

19
mnglkhn2 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There needs to be a distinction between state security and "retail" security. State security agencies have the legal framework to compel Apple to do anything and not even talk about it.What I call "retail" security is any act by any legal enforcement agency in the country. Their requests are bound to be in large numbers and for all kinds of things. On top of that, these requests, apparently, are not yet covered by a legal framework. Hence the need to force upon an old law to try and make Apple comply.

What's at stake for Apple is not only their principles but also one of their marketing pillar: "you, the user, can trust us with your data/privacy." By asking Apple to give that up, and quietly, you actually are asking them to undermine their business model. Shareholders will not appreciate that if they wouldn't have a chance to hear about it first.The Apple brand would lose from its value and it would reflect in the AAPL share price.

My point is that the whole thing needs to have legal backup. And Apple is asking for this exact thing: give me a law to use. And not something from the 1700's.

20
andy_ppp 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Surprising the FBI doesn't have a division of highly paid individuals who can crack iPhones... There are plenty of people online with a vested interest in this topic who I'm sure you could hire to help.

My guess is that this is more about pushing back the law and peoples rights than is is about getting access to this device.

But then I'm highly cynical about what the government claim they can do with technology for obvious reasons.

21
rdl 4 hours ago 0 replies      
As far as I'm aware, the most proper attacks here are, in order of cost:

0) Find some errata. Apple presumably knows as much as anyone except NSA. Have plausible deniability/parallel construction.

1) OS level issues, glitching, etc. if the device is powered on (likely not the case). Power stuff seems like a particularly profitable attack on these devices.

2) Get Apple, using their special Apple key, to run a special ramdisk to run "decrypt" without the "10 tries" limit. Still limited by the ~80ms compute time in hardware for each try.

(vs. an iPhone 5S/6/6S with the Secure Enclave:)

3) Using fairly standard hardware QA/test things (at least chip-level shops; there are tens/hundreds in the world who can do this), extract the hardware key. Run a massively parallel cluster to brute force a bunch of passphrases and this hw key, in parallel. I'd bet the jihadizen is using a shortish weak passphrase, but we can do 8-10 character passphrases, too. They may have info about his other passphrases from other sources which could be useful.

While I'm morally against the existence of #3, I'm enough of a horrible person, as well as interested in the technical challenge of #3, that I'd be willing to do it for $25mm, as long as I got to do it openly and retained ownership. In secret one-off, $100mm. I'd then spend most of the profits on building a system which I couldn't break in this way.

22
owenwil 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I really hope they actually physically can't access the data on this phone. It's entirely possible this could be the case -- I've been trying to consider the vectors they could use:

- lightning cable delivered iOS patch (probably won't work because iOS won't negotiate over USB until you tap a dialog box)

- OTA update (not connected to internet)

- Cracking open the device and accessing the storage directly (encrypted until boot time)

The most likely vector I can think of:

- - Lightning cable delivered iOS patch from a trusted computer (i.e one that the terrorists actually owned)

It's quite impressive that Apple is taking a stand like this, though perhaps unfortunate timing WRT the larger encryption debate.

23
empressplay 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Apple's reasonable technical assistance may include, but is not limited to: providing the FBI with a signed iPhone Software file, recovery bundle, or other Software Image File ("SIF") that can be loaded onto the SUBJECT DEVICE. The SIF will load and run from Random Access Memory and will not modify the iOS on the actual phone, the user data partition or system partition on the device's flash memory. The SIF will be coded by Apple with a unique identifier of the phone so that the SIF would only load and execute on the SUBJECT DEVICE."

People hyperventilating that the tool could be used to crack other phones can relax, given the last clause in the quoted text (from the actual order).

24
jasonlingx 4 hours ago 4 replies      
The fact that they can create this backdoor, doesn't that mean it already exists?

What Apple needs to do then instead of writing this letter, is release an update that closes this backdoor.

25
kabdib 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm betting there are similar vulnerabilities in the current "Apple doesn't have the keys" versions of iOS and the hardware. For instance, do a similar mandated firmware update to the secure enclave, and now you get unlimited guesses at a PIN.

edit:

Ah, I've found a couple of sources claiming that the secure enclave wipes its keys if its firmware is updated. Makes sense.

26
whack 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've never been an Apple fan but this was a fantastic and bold move by them. Software security and hacking is already an enormous problem that every single person has to deal with. Even major companies like the NYTimes have been hacked by malicious users in the recent past. We need to take every reasonable action to combat this threat. Building deliberate vulnerabilities (yes, every backdoor is a vulnerability) into our software and devices is going to make all of us less safe, and all of us more vulnerable to unforeseeable attacks in the future.
27
datashovel 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'd love to know the names of the people within the FBI who are pushing this agenda. The only way this foolishness is going to stop is if those people are out of a job.
28
tomelders 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Remember, iPhone's are available world wide. If the US wants to play world police, then I want a vote in the US election.
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greggman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think it's outstanding that Apple is standing up for this.

Will they, can they do anything about data in iCloud as well? While you can turn off iCloud I'd guess the majority of people are using it. Given you can access much of it at iCloud.com that would seem like whether or not you can unlock an iPhone most customers' data is available directly from Apple. Mail, notes, messages, photos, etc. No idea about other apps data that get backuped

Again I'm applauding Apple for standing up for encryption. If they could some how offer the same on iCloud I'd switch from Google (Google is not encrypted either. My point is I'd switch to a service that offers it)

30
mcintyre1994 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't quite understand - what is the actual purpose of being able to push a new version of iOS while locked? Apple don't seem to use this - people stick to whichever version they're comfortable with on old devices and accept whatever limitations.. so why does the functionality even exist?

Even with the restriction of being plugged in, outside of Apple who needs to push iOS versions at tethered devices and will be hindered too badly by having to unlock them first?

31
rodionos 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can they publish a copy of the FBI letter. Otherwise, Apple's description feels a bit circumstantial and opinionated. I feel like I can make a better judgement on this whole issue if the request is made public.
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SCdF 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software which does not exist today would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someones physical possession.

They really need to put that paragraph closer to this one:

> The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by brute force, trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The first paragraph without the second implies that iOS isn't actually secure at all.

33
ocean3 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Even if Apple created a backdoor, how are they going to install it on locked phone? Are locked mobile able to update without access to internet or user passcode?
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NicoJuicy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Would this really be true or is this just a decoy, to let you believe there is no backdoor?

I do believe there is no backdoor for when a city court requests it, but i don't really believe that the FBI or CIA doesn't have access to it.

Considering that iPhone already exists a long time, they must have some means to backdoor the "iCloud"...

35
uberneo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember the old dead community of OpenSource Phone - http://wiki.openmoko.org/wiki/Main_Page
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mrb 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Link to the FBI order: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2714001/SB-Shoote...

(Edit: deleted part where I was wrong. Thanks robbiet480 for correcting me. It's 2am here and I was tired.)

Also, prediction: if Apple refuses to build a brute forcer, someone else will do it and sell it to the FBI. Just wait and watch.

37
roadnottaken 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain this to me? The FBI requests a new version of iOS to be installed on a single phone that was involved in the attack. What, exactly, does this mean? If the phone is locked, how will they install new software on it without unlocking? People are suggesting an update to iOS that will get pushed-out to all users, but contain a backdoor that is specific to that one particular device -- but how will the new iOS version be installed without unlocking first?
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droopybuns 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
Applying an update to break encryption would violate chain of custody and render the information obtained inadmissible in court.
39
jonathankoren 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple does deserve the respect their getting for standing up to the government about this. They're absolutely right that this is an attempt to fatally undermine security for a whole host of devices, and sets a disturbing precedent.

What do find interesting, is that Apple isn't the first manufacturer that the government as ordered to crack a device. An "unnamed smartphone manufacturer" was ordered to crack the lock screen on October 31, 2014.[1] No one made a fuss then, so someone caved.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Writs_Act

40
xlayn 1 hour ago 1 reply      

 While we believe the FBIs intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect. Tim Cook
Kudos to this guy for standing up to an idea.

Now on practical notes, this is about security, providing a digitally secure platform to both users and providers, prevent tampering, keeping data secure.

Microsoft could take a cue.

41
DannoHung 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
Cook says any iOS device could be breached if this software were created. But other articles have led me to believe that any iOS model with touchid is immune due to the secure enclave being in play even for non-touch passcode access. Is this wrong?
42
mrmondo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Massive props to Apple, again I am impressed by their commitment to customer privacy.
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tdsamardzhiev 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If they provide to the government what the government wants now, next year the government will come back with even more ridiculous request. Mr.Cook is right - it'd be great if we can avoid creating a precedent.

Oh wait they already did by providing their clients' data. Trying to stop the government now is like trying to stop a high-speed train. Still, good luck to them! Good to know they are not just pushed around without any resistance.

44
vbezhenar 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very disappointing letter for me. It means that Apple can indeed build a backdoor into existing phones, they just don't want to do it (or so they speak). I was under impression that Apple employs security hardware which protects keys and makes impossible to penetrate that defense. If it's not the case, iOS security is not as good as it could be.
45
neves 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
What happened that now the companies can talk about these gov requests? The most nefast thing in these gov orders about terrorism is that the companies were forbidden to discuss it publicly.
46
eva1984 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It makes sense for them.

If they put a backdoor in iPhone for US government, they are effectively thrown out of Chinese market.

Interesting enough, what will Apple do if Chinese government demand they to decrypt/put backdoor in exchange of staying in the market?

47
chillaxtian 5 hours ago 0 replies      
if you are interested in the technical details of iOS security: https://www.apple.com/business/docs/iOS_Security_Guide.pdf
48
jacquesm 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The real security risk is the ability to update the phone's OS without authorized user consent at least as strong as the original protection the FBI are trying to break.

Right now it all hinges on Apple's private key and that's a very thin wire to hang all this privacy off.

49
supergirl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
sounds like the backdoor already exists, but only Apple knows how to use it. same as if Apple knew a master password for this phone but refused to give it. they are saying they don't want to give it because once the FBI has it, then they are free to use it anywhere. pretty strange post from Apple.

probably they try to fight this request by arguing that the government is actually asking them to effectively remove security from all the phones (of this model at least). they would be happy to help break this one phone as long as it doesn't affect any other phone.

in that case, then Apple should just break the phone and give it back to the FBI after removing the backdoor.

50
vu3rdd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see how this message is reassuring. Are they expecting the customers to just take their word? Without Apple showing the world, every bit of software that they run on their phones, these statements are at best, meant to mislead the users that Apple is doing something on the user's behalf.
51
ohazi 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the only acceptable response.
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Overtonwindow 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The way I read this, is that Tim Cook has and said it can't be done, only that it shouldn't be done. This leads me to suspect that Apple can decrypt your phone, and they know precisely how to do it, but in doing so would disrupt their entire marketing campaign around safe and secure encryption.

I'm just a government relations guy, not a security person, so please forgive me, but I'm not sure where I fall on this. I want the FBI to be able to decrypt the San Bernardino attackers phone. The same time, I don't want the government to be able to decrypt my phone. This is one hell of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation, and I'm really stuck.

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lunasight 2 hours ago 0 replies      
>The San Bernardino Case

We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the governments efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data thats in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and weve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software which does not exist today would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someones physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no an way to guarantee such control

This is just pure awful they admit to helping the fbi. how can we trust them

54
cant_kant 2 hours ago 0 replies      
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LeicaLatte 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Possible or not, the FBI seems to have formalized the issue using this opportunity. They are asking the questions they have been wanting to ask since the release of smartphones.
56
Sealy 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Huge respect to Tim Cook for standing up for the personal information security of Apples users around the world. When a non tech demands something as stupid as a back door, they do not acknowledge how weak they make data security.
57
rdl 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how much of that was personally written by Tim Cook, vs. various other people within Apple (I'm sure legal, PR, product, etc. all had input, but this feels like something he wrote himself.)
58
boredatnight12 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmmm. If this pans out in Apple's favor, I may finally buy an iPhone.
59
AshleysBrain 3 hours ago 1 reply      
While basically being on Apple's side here, as I understand it, jailbroken devices are unofficial builds of iOS that have some security features removed (e.g. limits on which apps can be installed).

Is it not possible for law enforcement to get what they want from that, if all they want is a custom build of iOS that can be hacked around? And why is it even possible for that to work if the data is supposed to be kept secure?

60
stefek99 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"In the wrong hands, this software which does not exist today would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someones physical possession."

Someone who believes in conspiracy theories would make a statement that "now it is official" :)

61
Zigurd 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is why technology companies have to go farther than implementing proprietary security systems: They have to put the capability to circumvent security out of reach of themselves.

Real data security has to be a mix of services that are friendly to reliable key exchange and strong unbreakable encryption, and verifiably secure endpoint software, which in practice means open source software where the user can control installation, that implements encryption.

62
hoodoof 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A company with courage. Hard to believe when virtually no institution, government or corporate has it.
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Cthulhu_ 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What I think Apple should (also?) do is appeal to both the law enforcement themselves, and the government - basically go "All secret communications from law enforcement and government figures - up to the President - would be at risk", or something to that effect.

I doubt the ones giving these orders would be comfortable with their own privacy being at risk.

64
WA 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder why no one pointed out that privacy boils down to trust:

That letter might be the truth or could be some kind of decoy. Maybe the backdoor will come and Apple knows that already and they try to limit the damage to their brand.

Like "we tried to resist having a backdoor installed, but we couldn't do it ultimately".

65
BWStearns 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Good on them. I was hoping that they'd be able to manage a way to unlock this one without potentially breaking the whole model (by exploiting some bug in the presumably outdated version installed or something that wouldn't positively degrade the security model), but given that that's not the case then I think they're making the right choice.
66
RalphJr45 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't many countries like Russia and China stop allowing the sale of iPhones or at least their use by government officials if the FBI succeeds?
67
okasaki 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Since Apple is part of PRISM[0], the FBI can just ask the NSA.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:PRISM_Collection_Details....

68
teekert 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I wrong to think that this brute forcing can still be applied when the raw memory chip is taken of the iPhone? The wipe-all-data-feature requires write access to the chip + some intelligence and monitoring. These capabilities should be physically removable from the actual memory chip, right?
69
geocar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Can Apple upgrade iOS on a single device that is locked, from a new untrusted laptop without wiping it?

Can Apple OTA upgrade iOS when the device is locked?

70
thorn 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what will be response of other manufacturers making phones with Android.
71
phkamp 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The fact that Apple indicates that they would be able to produce such a software version is in itself a backdoor in the iPhone.
72
rogersmith 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Gotta give it to Apple, they sure know how to pull off a PR stunt.
73
kyle4211 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It took me a bit, and I believe no one has summarized this very well yet.

FBI: "You've built a device that makes it nation-state-difficult to install custom software without DRM keys. We'd like you to assist us in deploying software signed with your keys."

Apple: "That feels way too much like asking a CA to sign a cert for you, so fuck off."

I'm honestly not sure which side I'm on here.

74
dovdov 4 hours ago 2 replies      
"We have no sympathy for terrorists."

They felt the need to state that, huh?

75
yummybear 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't read it from the letter - are they going to refuse to cooperate? Can they do that?
76
7GZCSdtn 2 hours ago 0 replies      
As a software developer i'm always looking for the real bug. Weapons kill. Not Iphones.
77
mrmondo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Mods: can you please update title to add some context?
78
tosseraccount 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Doesn't the phone belong to San Bernardino County?
79
jaboutboul 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Just unlock the freaking phone for them...
80
lifeisstillgood 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a decent architectural overview of iPhone (6)? Security - these enclaves etc sound good but devil is in the details
81
unixhero 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Plot twist.

This is actually the result of a barter. The Gov gets to have some low level TOP-SECRET access in trade for this easy access code and that Apple gets to go public to keep the populace calm and pretend they are fighting this thing.

82
zobzu 4 hours ago 3 replies      
What im reading is that apple can remote install an update that disable encryption. They dont want to do it.

But that they have the capability is a bit scary.

83
droithomme 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Well they seem to be saying that the approach they describe, to make a modified OS, would actually work to circumvent encryption on a preexisting device. That means that they already know the device is not really actually secure.

They aren't talking about putting a back door into systems to be used in the future, they are saying it's indeed feasible to place a backdoor on a device already out there and then use the backdoor to access the device. That means the device is not actually secure.

84
amelius 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Question: is it possible to design a cryptographic system that, whenever it is accessed by a third party (government), this is made publically visible in a log? Can blockchain technology help here?
85
planetjones 4 hours ago 9 replies      
With the due legal process the police can search property, safety deposit boxes, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. etc. Why should a smartphone be any different just because Apple says it is ?

As much as I value privacy I really don't agree with Apple's stance here - if due legal process has been followed, why shouldn't they be able to read the contents of an iPhone ?

And yes I get that third party encryption can be used, which isn't owned by Apple and that there's little the authorities could do about it - but that's not the case at hand here.

86
wildmXranat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Not getting an iPhone, even secured - Check!

I bet hardware vendors are just salivating at the concept of having to produce thousands of iPhone cracking docking stations.

87
rms_returns 4 hours ago 2 replies      
This is quite unlike Apple. Is this the same company that insists on keeping its source proprietary and is always against FOSS? The idea that you care for your users' privacy and still like to keep control on them by not giving them the freedom to modify source-code is not what I buy.
2
Apple ordered to bypass auto-erase on San Bernadino shooter's iPhone techdirt.com
529 points by bgentry  11 hours ago   272 comments top 37
1
philip1209 9 hours ago 5 replies      
A thought experiment: Let's say the government makes hardware encryption standards in the style of FedRAMP that sets standards for preventing tampering by foreign governments. Then, imagine that a consumer electronics company voluntarily makes all devices comply with this standard. Could a court attempt to compel the company to defeat the standards which the government set as tamper-proof against governments?

A second: What happens if Apple states that it will take a 50-person team with an average annual labor cost of $200K/person approximately 5 weeks to fix the problem with a 50% chance of success. Can Apple bill the court a million dollars to try to fix the issue?

A third: Apple open-sources their encryption modules and firmware. They no longer have proprietary information for how to unlock the phone. Are they legally required to be the ones who defeat a system to which they hold no proprietary information?

A fourth: The small team that built the system no longer works for Apple. Perhaps their visa was revoked and they left the country, perhaps they were poached by a competitor, or perhaps they retired in the years since this module was published. Who is responsible for complying with the order?

A fifth: The data is actually corrupted. Apple presents this conclusion under penalty of perjury after a thousand hours spent on the project, which it requests are compensated.

A sixth: Apple requests that trading of its stock is frozen for one month while it expends considerable resources on complying with an unexpected court order relevant to national security.

2
tptacek 11 hours ago 7 replies      
Remember, this is an iPhone 5C, which doesn't have Touch ID or the Secure Enclave; the security model for this phone is significantly different from that of more recent iPhones.

On phones with a Secure Enclave, the wipe-on-failures state is managed in the coprocessor (which runs L4), and is not straightforwardly backdoor-able.

If you're worried about the police brute-forcing your phone, enable Touch ID and set a passcode that is approximately as complex as the one on your computer.

3
cant_kant 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The key parts of the Federal order:

"Apple's reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions:

(1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled;

(2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE and

(3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.

Apple's reasonable technical assistance may include, but is not limited to: providing the FBI with a signed iPhone Software file, recovery bundle, or other Software Image File ("SIF") that can be loaded onto the SUBJECT DEVICE.

The SIF will load and run from Random Access Memory and will not modify the iOS on the actual phone, the user data partition or system partition on the device's flash memory. The SIF will be coded by Apple with a unique identifier of the phone so that the SIF would only load and execute on the SUBJECT DEVICE.

The SIF will be loaded via Device Firmware Upgrade ("DFU") mode, recovery mode, or other applicable mode available to the FBI. Once active on the SUBJECT DEVICE, the SIF will accomplish the three functions specified in paragraph 2. The SIF will be loaded on the SUBJECT DEVICE at either a government facility, or alternatively, at an Apple facility; if the latter, Apple shall provide the government with remote access to the SUBJECT DEVICE through a computer allowing the government to conduct passcode recovery analysis.

If Apple determines that it can achieve the three functions stated above in paragraph 2, as well as the functionality set forth in paragraph 3, using an alternate technological means from that recommended by the government, and the government concurs, Apple may comply with this Order in that way."

4
matt_wulfeck 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you read the iOS security guide you'll know Apple built the phone in such a way as to wash its hands with these types of request. They'll say it's impossible and they won't be lying. Nothing is ever impossible, but it will be very impractical. The hardware and software is built to ensure this.

I think the real game here is to compel Apple to build a backdoor into future models. I expect to see a lot of rhetoric around this fact, until something forces Apple hand.

5
tzs 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The article at Errata Security [1] is better. There is an HN submission for it [2], but it hasn't drawn any attention.

In particular, it addresses technical issues not covered in the Techdirt article that are relevant to many of the existing comments here on HN.

[1] http://blog.erratasec.com/2016/02/some-notes-on-apple-decryp...

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11115251

6
headmelted 5 hours ago 4 replies      
For me, the most interesting question I would have is absent from the article.

The court is basically ordering Apple to produce new firmware that doesn't block brute forcing. If Apple were to comply, who keeps this firmware after the fact?

There's no mention of this at all, but if the firmware image stays with the FBI then the implications are much more profound with regard to privacy.

7
whatwhatwhat999 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately, there's no good outcome here.

If Apple can unencrypt the phone, it will prove to everyone that backdoors exist. If they can't, and they tell the FBI as much, it will just give politicians more reasons sound off about how we have to have backdoors, because this shooter was a "terrorist" after all, and we just have to suck it up and do whatever is necessary to go after people like that.

Either way, we end up with backdoors.

8
ars 11 hours ago 1 reply      
> Apple ... will probably have little time to debug or test it overall, meaning that this feature it is being ordered to build will almost certainly put more users at risk.

Eh? They are not being asked to install it to the public at large, just one phone.

Of all reasons to object, this reason makes little sense.

9
empressplay 1 hour ago 2 replies      
It bothers me that Tim Cook lied: he stated in his open letter that if they provided the modified OS it could be used on other phones, but the court order specifically says Apple should make the software only work on the specific phone in question.
10
rburhum 11 hours ago 2 replies      
So if I get this right, they want to (1) disable the delete feature after x retries (therefore enabling unlimited retries) and (2) enable to submit tries via a connector/wifi, bluetooth (therefore enabling a bruteforce approach). What good is an encrypted filesystem in that scenario?
11
hardmath123 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Robert Graham (Errata Security)'s notes on this: http://blog.erratasec.com/2016/02/some-notes-on-apple-decryp...
12
Myrmornis 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Why the worry about auto-wiping? Is it not possible to make a copy of the encrypted data and then play around with it as much as you want?
13
blakecaldwell 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Does Apple get to bill the FBI for the time that their engineers and legal department will be busy on this request?
14
SideburnsOfDoom 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So, Apple says that "the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation."

https://www.apple.com/customer-letter/

If it's possible to make such a "backdoored" build of iOS, then there are state actors who will be throwing $Millions at doing it already, with or without any willing help from Apple.

15
fab13n 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Fortunately for the future, this kind of attack can be thwarted through key stretching (making each attempt intrinsically long to perform, by making it computationally expensive).

I expect to see an optional, configurable key stretching setup in future phones, for those whose privacy is worth a couple of seconds' delay when unlocking their phones.

16
elgenie 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"""To the extent that Apple believes that compliance with this Order would be unreasonably burdensome, it may make an application to this Court for relief within five business days of receipt of the Order."""

If what Apple's security guides claim is true, "unreasonably burdensome" should be an easy standard to meet on practical technical feasibility grounds. The issue is whether they'll want to challenge this on non-technical grounds.

17
DyslexicAtheist 3 hours ago 0 replies      
>>A magistrate judge, an Apple employee, and an FBI agent agree to meet at a local bar. Only the Apple employee makes it. Why? Because the bar didn't have a back door.
18
kevinastone 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Why wouldn't the FBI just clone the phone disk contents and crack the encryption on more dedicated systems?
19
nanocyber 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I thought this was an excellent write-up regarding how the iOS security platform (recent iPhone models) works from someone obviously in the know, as posted in the forums of Apple Insider. (Source: http://forums.appleinsider.com/discussion/191851)

" Apple uses a dedicated chip to store and process the encryption. They call this the Secure Enclave. The secure enclave stores a full 256-bit AES encryption key.

Within the secure enclave itself, you have the device's Unique ID (UID) . The only place this information is stored is within the secure enclave. It can't be queried or accessed from any other part of the device or OS. Within the phone's processor you also have the device's Group ID (GID). Both of these numbers combine to create 1/2 of the encryption key. These are numbers that are burned into the silicon, aren't accessible outside of the chips themselves, and aren't recorded anywhere once they are burned into the silicon. Apple doesn't keep records of these numbers. Since these two different pieces of hardware combine together to make 1/2 of the encryption key, you can't separate the secure enclave from it's paired processor.

The second half of the encryption key is generated using a random number generator chip. It creates entropy using the various sensors on the iPhone itself during boot (microphone, accelerometer, camera, etc.) This part of the key is stored within the Secure Enclave as well, where it resides and doesn't leave. This storage is tamper resistant and can't be accessed outside of the encryption system. Even if the UID and GID components of the encryption key are compromised on Apple's end, it still wouldn't be possible to decrypt an iPhone since that's only 1/2 of the key.

The secure enclave is part of an overall hardware based encryption system that completely encrypts all of the user storage. It will only decrypt content if provided with the unlock code. The unlock code itself is entangled with the device's UDID so that all attempts to decrypt the storage must be done on the device itself. You must have all 3 pieces present: The specific secure enclave, the specific processor of the iphone, and the flash memory that you are trying to decrypt. Basically, you can't pull the device apart to attack an individual piece of the encryption or get around parts of the encryption storage process. You can't run the decryption or brute forcing of the unlock code in an emulator. It requires that the actual hardware components are present and can only be done on the specific device itself.

The secure enclave also has hardware enforced time-delays and key-destruction. You can set the phone to wipe the encryption key (and all the data contained on the phone) after 10 failed attempts. If you have the data-wipe turned on, then the secure enclave will nuke the key that it stores after 10 failed attempts, effectively erasing all the data on the device. Whether the device-wipe feature is turned on or not, the secure enclave still has a hardware-enforced delay between attempts at entering the code: Attempts 1-4 have no delay, Attempt 5 has a delay of 1 minute. Attempt 6 has a delay of 5 minutes. Attempts 7 and 8 have a delay of 15 minutes. And attempts 9 or more have a delay of 1 hour. This delay is enforced by the secure enclave and can not be bypassed, even if you completely replace the operating system of the phone itself. If you have a 6-digit pin code, it will take, on average, nearly 6 years to brute-force the code. 4-digit pin will take almost a year. if you have an alpha-numeric password the amount of time required could extend beyond the heat-death of the universe. Key destruction is turned on by default.

Even if you pull the flash storage out of the device, image it, and attempt to get around key destruction that way it won't be successful. The key isn't stored in the flash itself, it's only stored within the secure enclave itself which you can't remove the storage from or image it.

Each boot, the secure enclave creates it's own temporary encryption key, based on it's own UID and random number generator with proper entropy, that it uses to store the full device encryption key in ram. Since the encryption key is also stored in ram encrypted, it can't simply be read out of the system memory by reading the RAM bus.

The only way I can possibly see to potentially unlock the phone without the unlock code is to use an electron microscope to read the encryption key from the secure enclave's own storage. This would take considerable time and expense (likely millions of dollars and several months) to accomplish. This also assumes that the secure enclave chip itself isn't built to be resistant to this kind of attack. The chip could be physically designed such that the very act of exposing the silicon to read it with an electron microscope could itself be destructive."

20
mariuolo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Do I sound conspiratorial if I suspect this is all PR and NSA has already ways to get around the encryption?

It would entice $EVILDOERS to use a compromised platform.

21
mchahn 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Why can't they just pull the flash memory and work on it directly?
22
tomohawk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The phone in question was not owned by the shooter, but by his employer, who has consented to the search. This seems like a poor basis to contest protecting someone's privacy.
23
frogpelt 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Who goes to jail if Apple flat out refuses?
24
tosseraccount 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's not his phone. He worked for the governmentIt belongs to the government.
25
curryhowardiso 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Literally the one time the west coast would have needed Scalia...
26
j1vms 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It's at times like these they're surely knocking on the door of every company whose R&D in quantum computing, information theory and algorithms they've been funding for at least the past 2 or so odd decades. "So, is it ready yet?"
27
dplgk 9 hours ago 4 replies      
The 5th amendment protects evidence inside the brain of the accused. As devices becomes more and more an extension of the brain, the more I think we'll need to adjust the rule of the 5th amendment to cover things outside of the brain.
28
gcb0 7 hours ago 1 reply      
this is smoke screen. Purely.

they can already desolder the flash memory chips and brute force the data, programatically no less, all they want.

29
dschiptsov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is wrong. Engineers who make encrypted devices should do their best to make them undecipherable. This is an universal standard - to do your best.

If encryption cannot be broken it means it has been done right, and engineers should have the highest respect.

Govts, on the other hand, should use appropriate policies, not orders or force or backdoors.

30
gizi 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Big problem. People will generally stop using phones of which they suspect that they are back-doored. At the same time, it would be a hopeless endeavour for law enforcement to get a swarm of (Chinese or other Asian) companies to help with unlocking their phones. They would literally not even answer the phone. Therefore, this may very well spell the end of highly centralized, Apple-style companies that can be effectively pressured and browbeaten into "compliance".
31
venomsnake 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Why no one is attacking on hardware level? Cut the processor to get the GID and UID, dump the flash, pregenerate rainbow tables with pin, power flash chip externally and give the codes ...

Yeah it is expensive, but I would not be surprised if there aren't such labs that could provide such service. Why does FBI goes trough such pains?

32
EGreg 10 hours ago 4 replies      
I always wondered why more people don't go around bricking iPhones by entering the wrong pin several times. Same goes for any other lockout. Why not do this to someone famous by constantly logging in as them from a botnet?
33
yarou 10 hours ago 1 reply      
They're effectively asking for a backdoor, plain and simple. I'd be highly surprised if Apple complied with this court order.

Even if they removed said feature, the only way to decrypt the FS would be if and only if the owner had a weak strength passcode.

Can somebody explain to me how this warrant is not a direct violation of this individual's 4th amendment rights?

This seems like yet another case where the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are selectively applied based on your skin color.

34
samfisher83 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Can't they use the dead guys finger print?
35
doggydogs94 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If Apple can jailbreak the phone in its current state, Apple (or the NSA) may be able to help.
36
ghettoimp 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This order says Apple must... - bypass the auto-erase feature - enable the FBI to "submit" passcodes - not purposefully introduce additional delays

I don't see that this requires Apple to do anything in particular with whatever passcodes the FBI submits.

bool tryPasscode (string passcode) { return false; }

Reasonable cost of service: $5?

37
exabrial 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Ok someone murders a bunch of defenseless people... Why is Apple dragging their feet? This is tasteless. I'm NOT for backdoors, but this is ridiculous.
3
We Need a Better PC dcpos.ch
468 points by dcposch  12 hours ago   477 comments top 110
1
habosa 9 hours ago 13 replies      
Not disagreeing with the premise, but just want to plug a machine I am very happy with.

I was a lifetime mac owner (since OS 9) and my 2010 Macbook Pro finally broke down this year. It made it that long because I doubled the RAM, replaced the battery, and replaced the HDD with a hybrid drive. Finally the battery puffed up and exploded. I brought it to the Apple Store and they were beyond useless. The new MBPs are not modifiable in any way, and Apple's customer service is not what it used to be. So I decided to get a non-Mac for the first time in my life.

I ended up with an Asus Zenbook UX305LA. It's a 13" 1080p screen, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, Core i5 processor. Cost me $749 and I dual-boot WIndows 10 and Ubuntu (spending 95% of my time in Ubuntu). It costs about 50% what a similar specced Macbook would cost and is similar size/weight to the Macbook air. Build quality is fantastic (open with one hand, good keyboard, glass trackpad, etc). The battery life is not quite as good as a 13" MBA but better than a Macbook Pro. Overall I am extremely happy with it.

Considering that my last MBP cost me $2200 up front plus ~$300 in repairs over time and lasted me ~4.5 years. That's about $500 a year. This machine cost $750. If it lasts over a year and a half, the experiment is a success. So far it's been nothing but great.

2
xlayn 11 hours ago 7 replies      
Do you like the MacBook but don't like the OS? go ahead and change it, you can have triple boot.

Tiny fonts and pop ups doesn't have anything to do with the machine you are going to buy (unless you also want the website).

HP makes the elitebook, magnesium construction a la thinkpad.

And last but not least I would like to give this entry the RAGE post award, nomination points for

 What I want is a computer with: -Decent build quality -Decent performance and battery life -A decent website. It doesn't have to be an icon of web design, like apple.com. It can be simple and utilitarian, like an Amazon page. It just has to be honest and up to date. It should contain pictures, text, and a Buy button. -A clean OS without crapware or malware factory installed Is that too much to ask? Make one and you can have my money! 
Apple, Lenovo, Microsoft and HP make systems like the one you want, you can install your choice of OS and buy it on Amazon or eBay if you want.

Bonus points for calling apple website an icon of web design when it weights almost 100mb.

Rage score 9/10.

3
chao- 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I have the "old X1 Carbon with a low res screen", except that the article is a little inaccurate: it doesn't have to have a low res screen. You can select a 2560x1440 screen. Even better, it's a non-reflective (matte) screen and even has a non-touch option! I guess I'm not alone in disliking reflective screens.

What sold me more than anything, though, was that I could select the best parts without being forced into a touchscreen. In so many other company's product lineups, if I wanted the 1440p screen (or whatever is highest), they were convinced I absolutely wanted a touchscreen, yes sirree! Thank you, Lenovo, for understanding my needs.

I don't remember which manufacturer it was, but I remember one option page where if I wanted to select the Core i7 option, it required the touchscreen upgrade as well. I don't see any logic behind that at all except "Hey, that i7 means you must be a big spender, guess we'll milk you for all you've got!"

As for OS, I run Linux Mint (Cinnamon) currently and experience no particular hardware or driver issues. Battery life is 5-8 hours depending on load, screen brightness, etc.

4
nerdy 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I went through the same thought process in December, never owned an Apple computer but needed a new laptop. Despite trying to fend off the idea of getting a Macbook (due to some combination of price/not wanting to succumb to herd mentality/proprietary nature of Apple) I caved.

It felt silly to spend a lot of time researching and configuring a custom laptop. I've never purchased a pre-built desktop but customizing a laptop seemed too poor a risk/reward proposition for my liking. Even with a great deal of effort it would be difficult to create something comparable to what I could simply purchase.

Apple's hardware is easy to appreciate down to small details. You can open the lid without holding the other half of the laptop (my previous laptop would lift up otherwise) and the screen isn't too loose either (doesn't bounce when you type hard). The speakers sound orders better than any of my previous laptops. Battery life is great. Retina is beautiful & responsive (easy to read text, even while scrolling). The trackpad is unbelievable for a variety of reasons (click anywhere, accuracy to the very edge of the pad, multitouch/gestures). I hadn't previously seen any trackpad worth using let alone nearly as good as a standard mouse, but haven't ever needed to connect a mouse to this one. It's just a great overall experience.

There have been a couple software glitches that required a restart to fix, but other than that and the temps (~90C) it reaches under load it has been a pleasure (@ 2 months of heavy use). Figuring out OSX took a week or two.

I don't envy anyone who tries to save money while achieving a similar experience.

5
mamcx 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Currently my biggest problem with apple machines is the low amount of storage, and in the case of the news iMacs and Macbooks, how costly and IMPOSSIBLE to replace them are.

I wish apple forget spinning hardrives, go full on SSD and ship with > 512 GB

6
rmm 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Microsoft Surface Book.

Easily the best device i have used in a very long time. Expensive (especially the i7 dGPU option) but i am amazed at how good this machine is.

Huge battery life, powerful when it needs to be. Connect to a dock and you have a powerful desktop.

Currently use it when im working in the office doing design work (plugged into a couple of Dell U2715H) then when i am out on mine sites use it as a portable machine in the field.

The tablet mode and pen is just a cherry on top. Writing notes in the field, marking up drawings etc. ridiculously easy.

i love it.

7
bechampion 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I was in this situation , I've moved away from osx a month ago i couldn't be happier.

I've moved from a macbook pro retina to a Lenovo x250/i5/8GB/HD screen, Running xubuntu 15.10 ... most bits work (DualScreen/VPN/NiceRDPapp(Remmina)/etc etc)

I've had major issues with Webex (need to have a jre 32bit running on a 64 bit os) but other than that all good!

Good luck!

8
theyCallMeSwift 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Check out the Dell Developer Edition XPS. It comes with Ubuntu on it and has 100% full driver support out of the box. It's a great machine, we use them for work. Screen is great too and it looks really beautiful. https://sputnik.github.io/
9
knights123 9 hours ago 3 replies      
It seems like you should really just buy a MacBook Pro. Sure the software isn't perfect, but it's an order of magnitude closer to perfect than Windows has been lately. You buy it, boot it up, and it works wonderfully. Of course the one day out of the year that it doesn't you go rage comment on how it sucks and it scares Windows users away from Mac, but the rest of the time you'd never consider going back to a typical PC.
10
beyondcompute 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks for the post. I think, we need more of these. I too have been feeling that the companies in a sense "aren't even trying" to show some care and respect for a customer. We agree to pay money for "hardware", they accustomed to "assemble together" some electronic components. There's no inspiration, no consideration, no ambition to provide experience that lasts (despite that hardware is fast-to-become-obsolete, the brand image and the impression you leave can be relevant for a much longer time).For me personally the only decent machine out there is MacBook Air. It does not make false promises about performance (like other laptops do, only to fail miserably later).My ideal machine would be lightweight plastic with mechanic keyboard. Performance is not really critical. Something like Surface pro with 14 inch display and mechanical keyboard (touch-screen is not necessary; good, macbook-like touchpad is) would do.
11
hans0l074 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I purchased a System76 Galago UltraPro (this model does not seem to be available anymore) at the end of 2014. I have been observing System76 for a year or more before I caved in and purchased this. I live in Finland - and they shipped it across. I really love this laptop. I'm also a Mac user (Air, Pro etc) and I expected the build quality to be lower, but it was surprisingly solid. Perhaps their build quality has improved? Also, one of the most common complaints was about their keyboard and it seems they have fixed this - I have had no problems. I love having a Ubuntu portable for my day-to-day devops work over VPN and with everything set up (all my tools, IDE's etc), it's been a pleasure. Their new line up looks impressive (I'm tempted to get another one). But yes, the battery life is really bad - 2-3 hour max or even less if you have IntelliJ or a VM running. So I have placed a power adapter at all my usual work locations :)Edit : spelling
12
PaulHoule 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Don't get a a laptop. The pc industry is doomed with phone envy. Desktop machines are one place you can really do better.
13
jolux 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Honestly if you get a Mac you can install rEFInd on it and boot Linux just fine, or run Linux in a VM. The hardware also almost never breaks and especially if you have AppleCare they frequently replace it for free. Yes, it may be difficult to upgrade yourself. That's entirely true and if it's a deal breaker there's not much else around.

You might do well to look at https://puri.sm if you're a Linux user, they seem to make pretty good machines with free software down to the BIOS. There's also always http://minifree.org but they don't really make modern machines.

14
k_bx 2 hours ago 2 replies      
One very strong point which not that many discuss here is how awful websites of non-Apple manufacturers are. They are a strong indication of how bad things are organized and developed at those companies, if they can't make a nice website answering all your questions in an attractive manner how can they expect you to buy stuff from them? Always impressed me.
15
ne01 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I love my ThinkPad X220 and highly recommend ThinkPad X series.

I remember the day UPS delivered it. I had a flash drive with a Debian 6 image ready to be installed, didn't even boot up the windows to check if everything was OK.

~2.5 years after using it for about 10 hours per day USB ports started to randomly disconnect and reconnect it was very annoying.

I had no idea that ThinkPad X series has 3 years of warranty and still cannot believe that Lenovo sent someone to my house (3 days after I contacted them!) and changed the motherboard it's basically a brand new laptop. FYI, bought it directly from lenove's outlet website for ~$700.

My thinker is ~4 years old and it's still one of my most beloved objects in this world.

16
euske 8 hours ago 2 replies      
There are many independent laptop PC manufacturers in Japan. Panasonic Let's Note (cf. http://panasonic.jp/pc/ ) is known to have excellent battery life while being decent. Laptops from Mouse Computer (cf. http://www.mouse-jp.co.jp/ ) have almost no pre-installed crap. Unfortunately, many of them don't sell outside the country. They're probably too small/thin to Western people. People tend to think a 17-inch laptop "giant" here.
17
virtualwhys 11 hours ago 1 reply      
OP doesn't mention Dell Precision line?

Recently released 5510[1] is looking absolutely awesome, will be picking one up when return to States in April to replace current Precision M4700.

2 X SSD + 32GB memory, high end CPU, decent GPU with 3840 X 2160 screen...will be sorted for next few years. If you NewEgg a couple of 480GB SSDs you're around $2,500 for a beastly machine that weighs under 4 lbs (M4700 is nice but hefty, nearly 7 lbs).

[1] http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?c=us&cs=0...

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omphalos 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wish the author included something about the Intel Management Engine. It runs closed source software with privileged access to your entire machine including support for remote execution, has a history of critical vulnerabilities, and is present on every current Intel chip.
19
canthonytucci 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel compelled to bring up how cheap, modular and abundant bad-ass second-hand thinkpads are. Not to mention that even the new-generation keyboards are amazing, and put the shallow crap on my macbook pro to shame.

The money you'd spend on even a 'cheap' macbook pro will get you something solidly built with a nice screen that's plenty fast for devlopment work AND money left over for an extra battery or 2 + a brand new fat SSD + 16 GB brand new RAM + a nice dinner (maybe even with a date).

Just be careful not to get one from the awkward phase recently where they didn't have individual clicky-butons and this strange ceramic trackpad.

20
viraptor 10 hours ago 2 replies      
> They display low ratings for their own products on their own website. What.

How is this a complaint? I'd love other companies to post both good and bad reviews without filtering.

> Except that page is deceptive, because that's actually the old X1 Carbon

Don't know about other locations, but here the X1 got a really nice discount once the 2016 model got announced. (also visible in the screenshot) I got it and I'm really happy about it. It has a high res screen (WQHD), so the same as the 2016 model, so that note in the post is also a mistake.

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jseliger 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised not to see a link to the Librem laptops: https://www.crowdsupply.com/purism/librem-13. They're an attempt to solve the problem being posited, AFAICT, though they ship with Linux, not Windows.

I gave $10 to their initial Kickstarter but have never used one.

22
flatroze 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Go for gaming PCs/laptops.It's the same with clothes today: you can get the "survival/military" type of outwear which is better in quality and tend to last longer than usual outwear. You will look like a show-off, but in reality it's where the jean companies used to be when they first appeared (they used to be made for gold miners and construction workers).I would get something like Aorus X3 or Razer Blade Stealth, both feature really good screens and great hardware. Also seem to be well-engineered, unlike those plastic toys from Dell, Lenovo and all the others.
23
Uptrenda 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Has the quality of laptops really been decreasing or are we just remembering "the old days" with nostalgia? Seems like a perfect question that could be easily answered with proper research.

My guess: if you're prepared to pay several thousand you can still buy quality modern laptops today (like ThinkPad P70.) Or do it the cheap way: buy old hardware that's known for its reliability like used ThinkPads (currently using a ThinkPad T520 myself.) There's a good guide here for choosing a ThinkPad model if you're a fan of solid laptops that will last: https://wiki.installgentoo.com/images/8/8f/Tpg140901.png -- it's a bit memey but has solid advice.

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lhnz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Sorry in advance for taking the headline and talking about something else.

What I want is a real personal computer that can fit in my pocket. A mobile device that is extremely open and very easy to hack on. I would like it to expose sensory readings in a UI and then provide a simple if-this-then-that UI that would allow me to teach daemons to respond to events that occur during the day and additionally support scripting for more complex automations. And once this device exists I'd like open protocols to exist to help other I/O devices to expose themselves to it.

Simply put I'd like devices to start offering extra senses to us beyond the five we were born with, and for these to be unencumbered from walled gardens.

Does such a thing exist?

25
dnautics 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Avoid the dell developers edition xps13. There's no end key, the trackpad is unusable. Even worse, avoid getting the windows version and installing Linux on that: the trackpad is even less unusable (resets to lower corner intermittently on clicks), and in order to get the wi-fi working I had to recompile the kernel driver telling it that it was FOSS.
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hendry 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
The Lenovo X1C3 is not that bad. I recommend it & it runs Archlinux beautifully.https://natalian.org/2015/02/18/Archlinux_on_a_Lenovo_X1C3/

Yes, Lenovo sales and support are pretty hopeless. Just got to factor that fact in. Must say Apple are pretty hopeless unless you get Apple care.

Anyway, the real problem in my mind is that there is pretty much no competition to Intel nowadays.

27
jmspring 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Post didn't address - buy apple hardware, run something other than OS X on it.

Seems simple. Sure you are locked to apple hardware issues/resolutions, but Apple today is what the Thinkpad was for years (pre-Lenovo), hardware mostly just works.

Insert arguments of customization, configurability, etc... Most people don't care. Lenovo doesn't deliver as well as IBM did on the Thinkpad line. What's the alternative besides Apple?

28
jitl 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Did you look at Dell's line of XPS ultrabooks? I don't own one myself, but the ultra narrow bezels and industrial design look quite nice.
29
awongh 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I had a thinkpad running ubuntu for a couple of years, around 2010-2013, but I was forced to switch to a mbp for one simple reason:

About 1/10 of the time when I would be at a coffee shop or something and would try to connect to the wi-fi router, ubuntu simply wouldn't be able to connect. This thinkpad had one of the officially supported wifi chips in it, and it still didn't work.

Lots of forum posts told me to downgrade driver versions or some such thing, I wasted a bunch of time trying many different solutions and nothing ever fixed it.

I'm a web dev, and without internet I can't get anything done- I had to eventually get rid of it. Too bad, because the build quality was nice and it's a much better deal than a mbp, but unreliable internet is a deal-breaker.

(If there had been some way for me to pay someone with driver knowledge to diagnose and patch the driver problem I would have done that!)

30
stepvhen 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I've bought old thinkpad T-series on ebay for ~$300, installed arch, and moved on with my life. I keep most of my relevant data on git repos or a home server. If it dies, which usually happens after a good few years, I just get a new one. Not ideal, and certainly not for everybody, but a reasonable option if it fits your needs.
31
szukai 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Lenovo only inherited the name from IBM. It's not the same as it used to be... I really wish the author of the post looked beyond one or two laptops given the title he used for his writeup.
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soared 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is a decent website relevant at all? Would it make buying a laptop easier? Sure. But 90% of consumers are going to do almost all of their research off-site and enter the lenovo looking for specific products or categories. Not everyone follows the Apple-Disney ethos of design every consumer facing thing to be flawless.

I haven't done the research but I bet you could see lenovo pages ranking higher for long-tail keywords (specific products) than than more general pages.

33
TwoBit 7 hours ago 0 replies      
And he didn't even mention the terribly shitty trackpad that every single pc laptop has. And its shitty synaptics software.
34
spo81rty 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I really like my Razer laptop. They basically look like black MacBook Pros. Quality seems very high and I have enjoyed using it for several months. Quad core Cpu and 16 GB of RAM provides plenty of power as a dev box.
35
will_hughes 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I've got an aging Asus Zenbook UX31A ultrabook which is amazingly thin and light, and still pretty decently fast. There was also very little crapware on it (was originally a Win7 machine with Win8 and then Win10 free upgrades).

My one complaint is that the (small, light) power bricks are apparently made of unobtainium. They're near impossible to find, and the ones you can are extraordinarily expensive.

Given my hate for proprietary power adapters - I'm holding out for a USB-C powered replacement.

Asus doesn't appear to be offering anything, but Razer's Blade Stealth[1] looks like it could be a great option.

[1] http://www.razerzone.com/store/razer-blade-stealth

36
Iv 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What do you think of the Novena? https://www.crowdsupply.com/sutajio-kosagi/novena

If you want to make a good laptop, there are people doing that, in an open hardware and open source way.

37
dpc_pw 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm very happy with my Asus UX305F. I have Linux installed, everything except brightness keys works perfectly. Great build quality, mate screen, battery lasts very long. And it was cheaper than most of what people mention here. For CPU intense task, I just use my desktop.
38
glossyscr 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Not disagreeing but there is one notebook and this is how the Macbook should have been:

- Same build quality as Apple

- Thin and light as the Macbook

- Pixel density higher than Retina

- Powerful CPU

- Just released

http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-systems/razer-blade-stealth

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sreenadh 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I am surprised that the author did not consider Dell. I T410i user, but I will not be buying another thinkpad based on the current line up. Plus I have many issues with Linux drivers. Windows is no more reliable and I am forced to move on. Mac is great but the inability to modify is bugging me. I have a MBP also.

Of course, nothing beats a PC but its tough while travelling or when you just want to move around while working.

Micheal Dell making the company private will be good if he planning to focus on making quality hardware like Dell Developer Edition XPS + Project Sputnik, which is an interesting project. But still needs to mature.

So if I have to buy a machine today, I am lost. There is a need for quality machine for developers as we spend long time with it. It needs to be durable, light, matte screen(its very tough to get that now a days), low heat, good keyboard (mechanical like old thinkpads), good driver support for Linux, decent battery. PLUS have a higher score on iFixit. I like the rating of XPS 13 @ https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Dell+XPS+13+Teardown/36157

40
pmontra 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been happy with the first ZBook. 1080p, SDD or spinning disks, you can add replace the DVD with another disk, up to 32 GB RAM, apparently you can replace the CPU and the NVIDIA card too. The ZBook G2 specs are even better.

The only minus on your list would be the battery. It can reach maybe 4 hours (Linux) but not more. I knew that and it's not a problem, there is always a power plug nearby where I work.

The only minus in my list was the keyboard, because it has a number pad, but the keys are excellent. It's also definitely not a 1 kg laptop and the power brick is as heavy as a brick, but I don't care much.

41
Roritharr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My real issue is finding a decent 13inch laptop that allows 2x4K Monitors at 60hz via simple Docking.

The Surface Book failed in that regard and I haven't gotten confirmation from Dell that the TB 15 Dock will support it.

In the 15 inch Category there is only the HP Zbook with its gorgeous 4 Thunderbolt Ports that allow it. But that's Desktop Replacement, not a portable 13 incher.

Currently I drive 2 2560x1440 Monitors on my Surface Pro 2, one via MiniDp and one via USB3 and am kinda happy with it, I just need more ram... But upgrading and then once again hitting the limits so soon would give me buyers remorse quick.

42
leecarraher 11 hours ago 1 reply      
i have a 2014 x1 carbon. solid build, decent battery under linux(5hrs average load). probably will get an x1 next round too. dont get booged down with specs though. newest is outdated in a year, and if you don't get a new laptop every year, arguing specs is pretty moot.drawbacks - soldered on ram + it's a premiumnot super modular.positive - its solid and nicely designed with a great keyboard (and this is from an otherwise chicklet style hater, but really nice travel)
43
nchudleigh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be really cool if someone could do a clean developer book.

Software:Would love something that comes with a Debian distro installed. Something minimal and clean.

Body:Brushed metal exterior, hard rubber for hand rests- no sharp edges either (my wrists hate MBP's edges). Nice big touchpad. Elegant branding (love the lightbar on the chromebook pixels) but perhaps even more subtle (the new macbooks do a good job of this- eliminating the obnoxious glowing apple). Thin would be good.

Hardware:500GB SSD would be more than enough.Don't need GFX card. 8gb ram is more than enough. Good CPU please. Fan-less would be amazing. USB-C would be interesting, at least need a couple of those. And then a pair of USB-3 ports, and a headphone/mic jack. Maybe an HDMI. It would be good if the internals were simple enough to swap out everything with a small philips head.

MOST IMPORTANT THING:I can buy replacement parts on your site for everything (screen, keyboard, shell, all of the hardware, touchpad, etc.)

Price:I would pay anywhere from 1-2k US for this computer. Honestly just to support some healthy competition in the space- I would even go to 2.5k

44
vardump 11 hours ago 6 replies      
My dream laptop:

1) No malware/spyware tainted brand.

2) At least 32 GB ECC RAM, 16 GB is so 2010. ECC, because memory errors do happen and cause instability. 64 GB option wouldn't hurt either.

3) HiDPI (retina) display (IPS or equivalent)

4) Fast PCI-e attached SSD.

5) Ability to run two 4k monitors @60 Hz.

6) Stable USB3 ports (My 2015 RMBP keeps resetting USB3 ports, making it nearly impossible to run VMs on USB3 drives)

7) ~10h+ on battery.

45
Matthias247 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with the content, but not necessarily with the headline.

If you need a Desktop PC the options are plenty, you can pick from a large set of components and build pretty much what you want, from decent formfactor to big towers with powerful and good hardware.

For high quality notebooks however I came to the same conclusion as the author. I wanted to buy a new personal notebook last year, and actually did not want to get a Macbook, as I am not that into Apple and OSX. But I could not really find an alternative, even in the same (high) price region, so I got a MBP13 and I'm happy with it. For the windows machines either the build quality is way lower, battery life is lower, screen resolution is lower, input devices suck or the price tag is even higher (X1 Carbon, XPS13. Surface book too, but it wasn't available in germany anyway).

Another thing that influenced my decision heavily was the Touchpad. On the MBP it works beautifully, and in combination gesture features of the OS it makes working on such a small screen and without an external mouse much more pleasant. On the windows machines the touchpad response is mostly somewhere between bad and mediocre, and there's no swipe between workspaces and such stuff.

46
melted 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Just get a MacBook Pro and skip the aggravation entirely. You pay more for a reason. That reason is that no one else knows how to make a proper laptop anymore.
47
akhilcacharya 11 hours ago 2 replies      
After I bought my MBPr 2014 I started looking around at similar machines.

In my mind, the only competition is with the Surface Book, but even that's debatable given the screen size.

48
TurboHaskal 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The author thinks apple.com is the pinnacle of web design, values form over function as he prefers the x1 carbon, gets overwhelmed when having too many choices, dislikes seeing user reviews on a product site and probably lies on the ground on a fetal position at the thought of replacing a hard drive by himself.

He is exactly the kind of person Apple makes products for. Just get a Macbook already.

49
josteink 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So he says there are some good computers out there (like the Lenovo Carbon X1), but due to his bad luck and timing on his part it's a bad choice for another month.

If you just wipe Windows clean on those Lenovos and use them for Linux (Fedora runs great on them!) you wont have to worry about those Superfish issues and everything else plaguing the world of windows-users.

I can see why you would decide not to want to reward Lenovo with your money after those incidents, but it's still some of the best you are going to get.

50
mingabunga 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I've always found ASUS laptops well built, great screens and very reliable. Their Zen books are nice.
51
aap_ 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I wholeheartedly agree. I'm still using a T61 because I don't really like any of the models that succeeded it. The new keyboard, the reduced keyboard layout, the huge touchpad (which I disable anyway) with those reduced buttons, small screen resolutions compared to my 1400x1050 (unless you pay for the ultra expensive display panel or get)...it's just not attractive anymore. And as the author said, thinkpads are still among the best laptops :/ I'd be willing to throw some money at lenovo for a laptop I want to have but it looks like they're no longer producing those :(
52
laumars 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A year or so ago I was having the same dilemma, but then stumbled across Samsung Chronos. Previously I'd only seen the lower end of Samsung laptops and they were predictably crap. But the higher end Chronos' are something special, sleek design, solid build quality and decent specifications. My only quibble is that Samsung lean a little more towards Apple's design than HPs, so accessing components is a little harder work than I'd have liked. But the upside is my Chronos has excellent compatibility with Linux.

I'm very pleased with my laptop and would recommend the Chronos range to others.

53
manigandham 5 hours ago 0 replies      
CES revealed a bunch of new laptops that seem promising: LG Gram 15 [1], Samsung Notebook 9 [2], Dell 7000 Series [3]

1. http://www.lg.com/us/laptops/lg-gram-15Z960-A.AA75U1-ultra-s...

2. http://news.samsung.com/global/samsung-introduces-new-notebo...

3. http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/6/10720212/dell-latitude-13-w...

54
joonoro 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The new ThinkPads are indeed awful, get the X220 aka the last good one. That should do you well until something worthwhile comes to replace it (maybe HP?)

- Last old-style ThinkPad with great build quality

- Last one with the classic keyboard

- Small form factor

- Sandy bridge i7, still kicks butt because it's not undervolted (check the benchmarks)

- up to 16 GB memory

- 10 hours of battery with a new 9-cell battery (+ tlp package on linux)

- Linux or Windows works great

55
Aardwolf 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally I interpret the word PC as something like this:

http://bi9he1w7hz8qbnm2zl0hd171.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-c...

so it's funny that it's about laptops :)

56
headmelted 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I missing something? Can't you just boot Ubuntu on a Macbook if that's what you want to do?

(This is a genuine question - I've always found OSX sufferable enough to not need to, and I have a fanless Acer for Ubuntu that travels with me).

57
superobserver 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Why not by a Chromebook Pixel (2015)? Seriously.
58
vok5 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I bought a Lafit here: http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/notebooks/lafiteII/.

I believe it is a rebranded Clevo, which is custom-built for you. Lately, I changed the WiFi card without any issue. You can also change the SSD if you want, same for the RAM. The best parts are: Build quality, price (you don't pay for the OS, only if you want to and you get to pay for parts you want), keyboard is nice, lightweight and screen is great.

59
Ifhax 9 hours ago 2 replies      
You should get a dell latitude--woot periodically has excellent deals on "last-year's models", brand-new with 3 years warranty. They are reliable, modifiable, and get excellent battery life. They come pre-installed with Windows Professional, with minimal bloatware--but forget about it. Scrub off the Windoze crap, install Linux, and you will have an awesome little machine.
60
wangchow 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly I swear by my Surface Pro 3. Maybe learn to hack some device drivers and get Ubuntu running (better) on a device like this. Some people already have it working:

http://www.geek.com/microsoft/linux-users-rejoice-heres-ubun...

In my opinion it's the most well-rounded device out there.

61
Aoyagi 1 hour ago 0 replies      
And while we're at it, why don't we have some VA or even OLED matte displays for laptops?
62
matthewwiese 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm quite happy with my 11" Macbook from 2012, she's quite the lil devil still. I stay on Yosemite and my machine is strong enough for me. If the author requires power, he/she could build a decent Xeon desktop and keep it at home, then just remote into it for intensive development. I keep a backup Core 2 Duo at my appt for work and play and it's still packing enough of a punch to do most of my work (only bottleneck is latency).

To be honest, sometimes I even think my MBA is unnecessary and contemplate a cheap Asus Eee PC netbook because I live in the command line (and consequently don't need to load up heavy IDEs). However, I understand if that approach is too much work for most people who just want a simple solution without all the fuss, but where's the fun in that?

63
joefreeman 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I went through a similar process recently after getting fed up with Apple's direction. I ended up getting a Surface Pro 4. The build quality seems good, battery is ok. The software/drivers are terrible - it rarely wakes up from sleep, and I don't get much delight from using Windows. Hoping Linux support improves in the near future.
64
guelo 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish I could buy laptops that are not built in China. The Chinese army has zero scruples with regards to hacking. The hack where they got all US federal employees' info was an act of war as far as I'm concerned. I just don't see any reason why they would not be putting in backdoors into all the computers they manufacture.
65
mntmn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently got a Thinkpad T450s after using iBook & MacBooks for 10 years and I'm very pleasantly surprised about build quality and feel.
66
btilly 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I just had a https://www.thinkpenguin.com/ arrive and so far it seems good.

See http://www.linux.org/threads/how-great-is-the-korora.5955/ for a sample review.

67
hguant 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I recommend System76. Good laptops, clear website, and you know exactly what you're getting with the OS.

https://system76.com/laptops

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justaaron 5 hours ago 0 replies      
all these comments to debate what is actually still a standing point:

name a non-mac laptop that' doesn't suck

(is it injection molded plastic with a screen that will eventually flop flop flop? then it sucks!)

then let's find a distro that doesn't suck!(does in include binary blob drivers? then it sucks!is it unity? then it sucks!)

70
garyclarke27 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Macbook Pro is best windows pc - runs perfectly via bootcamp.So much better than slower flackier virtual options - i tried all of them - fast reboot so easy to switch.I need windows for 64 bit Excel 2016 much fatser than mac 32 bit only.2 diplay ports also great- drives 2 32 inch high res monitors perfectly.
71
unsignedint 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm finding $300 Acer laptop (or netbook, one of their Inspire line) loaded with Linux surprisingly usable. (It was preloaded with Linpus, but I've replaced with my own.) At 1.10 GHz Dual-Core, 4GB RAM, it's a bit slow at times, but as long as I'm not running intensive process on it, it's very usable on the go machine. (Mainly, TeX, translations, web stuff, browsing, and occasional spreadsheet, is what I do on the machine.) I do have a desktop machine for things that requires more power.
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trynumber9 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, the VAIO Z returns soon after a brief hiatus. Maybe look into those?

[0]: http://us.vaio.com/vaio-z/

[1]: http://us.vaio.com/vaio-z-flip/

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agarwalrishi 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Yup. I agree. We need a good PC with the form factor of Mac mini but without Mac OS. Only option I have is to buy a Mac mini and install Ubuntu on that. Or buy Intel mini PC (Intel NUC). Both options are quite expensive, at least in India.
74
fsloth 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A good anecdote but I disagree with the notion that Surface is not a laptop but a tablet. I use my Surface Pro 4 i5 as a laptop and it's a pretty good one at that.
75
sergiotapia 9 hours ago 2 replies      
True, there should something to rival Apple in the laptop arena.

Unfortunately there isn't. Apple just makes hardware that's so sexy and intuitive to use. Example, Apple TV. I never used one before but I demo'd one at Best Buy the other day and in 10 seconds I knew how to operate it. Apple does this best, their earnings prove that.

Just buy a Macbook Air, sturdy as hell, long battery life, and great Unix-enough-y OS.

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dh997 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I like and use Apple gear but I dont like untinkerable black boxes or opaque firmwares.

I think we need a beautiful, functional servers,computer, handheld and wearables with opensource desktop lithography and 3d material deposition. It would take about $20 million and the right people to get going, but it could be hw UNIX -> Linux.

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kennycox 6 hours ago 0 replies      
How much RAM do you need for gaming? However, I have 8GB RAM but the game hardly takes 4GB for functioning. One of my friends has 32 GB RAM but I think he is more paying for it. Is more than 8GB RAM needed for gaming?
78
ripberge 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a Lenovo X1 carbon and I re-installed Windows to remove all the Lenovo crapware after I bought it. Windows is easy to download and install now. It will save your license, but blow away everything else. It only takes about 30-45 minutes. But I do agree, this is totally ridiculous that you have to do this.

I did buy an MS Surface and it was by far the best PC experience I ever had, however they don't make a keyboard cover with a touch-stick, that's the only reason I went back to a ThinkPad.

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julochrobak 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have experience with the Tuxedo Computers - http://www.tuxedocomputers.com ? They have just recently released an interesting 13.3" InfinityBook.
80
SippinLean 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Is Samsung Series 9 still a thing? When I bought mine it was thinner than the MB Air at that point, similar rigid aluminum build quality.
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partiallypro 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The article ignores the Surface Book (thought it does mention the Surface itself), Razer Blade and Dell XPS lines which are all pretty renowned for their quality. OEMs make some crappy PCs, no doubt...but it has gotten a lot better in the past 2 years. HP's Spectre is also a really nice device.
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finishingmove 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If I were getting a new laptop right now, I'd get the Dell XPS 13 (2015). I get the post's sentiment though, but what really sucks IMO is not the PC/laptop market but mobile...
83
nqzero 11 hours ago 1 reply      
for me, aspect ratio is huge - if you want something better than 16:9 in a pure laptop (not a tablet or convertible) your options are really limited

http://blog.nqzero.com/2016/01/1610-or-better-32-43-laptops-...

i don't understand how there can be so little differentiation in this market

84
narrator 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a Toshiba p835-z370. It's a few years old but it still runs like a champ and all the hardware is supported on Ubuntu. Toshiba build quality is pretty good.

Here's the teardown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMH0r76zdt0 . It's only upgradeable to 6gb though. Would love it if they had a 16gb upgradeable version.

85
jasonszhao 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not Asus? (Never got one, have a MacBook.)
86
VeejayRampay 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, community managers for all the biggest PC manufacturers must be rubbing their hands on posts like this.
87
thephilsproject 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I had this same problem almost exactly a year ago. I now have a Surface Pro 3.

I wanted a decent CPU, high res screen, , good build, long battery life and small chassis. Then I chose whichever was cheapest which met those criteria.

I've not been disappointed with my decision!

88
vegabook 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been very happy with my Dell Precision M3800 which has outstanding build quality, easily comparable to my previous MacBook, and runs Ubuntu perfectly. In fact I like it better hardware-wise than the macbooks because it has a much more pleasant keyboard-surround surface, which is not freezing cold like my MacBook, nor does it have that unpleasant vertical front leading edge which in my opinion is uncomfortable when touch typing.

On a separate note though, Lenovo has kinda promised to build a 90's-level robust "retro-Thinkpad", the feedback forums for which were wildly successful.

http://blog.lenovo.com/en/blog/retro-thinkpad-time-to-think

89
mt_caret 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What about Vaios? The specs on it are impressive (WQHD, 16GB memory, 20h+ battery life) with a sleek build. Wondering if it goes along well with linux...
90
chemmail 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Dell XPS 13/15
91
ryan-allen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
TLDR: he didn't do much research.

It is true that there is a lot of crap out there for PCs but there are some decent laptops, it's just harder to find them.

Dell XPS' are good. Surface Book is totally equivalent to a Macbook Pro in terms of build quality.

92
joshAg 8 hours ago 1 reply      
For those who don't know much about non-Apple PCs:

The only laptops worth considering are the enterprise lines from dell hp, and lenovo. They are night and day differences from the consumer products, because they are usually entirely separate divisions. Within this, certain lines are better than others. For example, with lenovo I would only really consider a t-series, w-series, or x-series. The p-series looks promising, but that just came out, so maybe don't rush into that if you want to reduce risk.

If the laptop doesn't have the RAM or harddrive soldered on, it's probably cheaper to buy from newegg and install an upgrade yourself than it is to upgrade through the product configurator. This does not void the warranty. The support pages from the website have explicit instruction manuals for doing this yourself as well as full disassembly instructions.

The enterprise laptops have support pages with crapware free drivers. If you don't feel like surgically removing crapware from a new installation, just nuke it from space and install the OS fresh. Heck, most time you don't even need to install those drivers, because the base windows drivers are fine for most things (there's probably a performance bump to using the drivers, and some things, like the fingerprint reader, will need a driver), so you could just skip the driver install.

Since these are enterprise laptops, you can still get 7 and 8 preinstalled (thank god for corporate compliance policies, am i right?! ;). MS call it "downgrade rights". Much like Apple, the best MS OS is the one released in 2009 (windows 7), so splurge for the "downgrade" to it if it's offered for the laptop you want.

If you care inordinately about crapware and don't want to spend time nuking a fresh laptop, then buy a laptop (again only enterprise laptops from lenovo, hp, and dell) from microsoft directly, since those don't come with spyware: http://www.microsoftstore.com/store?SiteID=msusa&Locale=en_U...

You can also get warranties that last much longer than 2 years (some go up to 5), cover accidental damage, or cover the battery, but the specific policies offered depend on which company you go with. I have taken advantage of the lenovo accidental damage warranty a few times, and it was great. The default warranty requires you to ship the laptop off (lenovo overnights me a box with a prepaid overnight shipping label inside it so all I have to do is pack my laptop and drop it at the UPS store) and then they return it within a week, but you can also get an onsite repair warranty where someone will come to you to fix the laptop.

Trust me, it's worth dealing with a website that isn't as shiny as apple's website.

93
gonader 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Dell XPS 13 is an amazingly good laptop, very well supported in Arch Linux
94
ishbits 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like Mac OS X but on a Lenovo T or X. That would just be perfect (assuming it ran as well as it does on a MacBook).
95
dkarapetyan 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Dell sputnik. It's great.
96
vatotemking 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How about MS Surface Book? Fits all the criteria that OP is looking for.
97
solipsism 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Why isn't there a Linux distribution that's specifically for installing on Macbooks? Given how few Macbook models there are, you could include exactly (and only) the correct drivers. Optimize everything to work perfectly, including things that often require tweaking to get working correctly (WiFi, screen brightness, power settings, etc).

If I knew it would not be an adventure installing Linux on my MBP, I'd pay good money for such a distro!

98
imsofuture 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Lenovo doesn't have a great website, but their ThinkPads are nice.
99
vacri 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Meh, the author wants a better computer, but isn't willing to spend for it. The author runs linux, so the crapware from lenovo shouldn't matter, and the lenovo thinkpad line have excellent build quality (stay away from the ideapads). But the author complains that the cheap end of X1 town isn't retina. Sure, for the same price, a macbook air does retina, but that low-end X1 carbon has other features that the air does not have.

So by 'better PC', the author really means 'cheap PC filled with top-end gizmos and a top-end build quality'.

100
sbuk 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The declining software quality is nothing more than a meme. None of you you seem to remember the horror that was 10.0. Or 10.1. Or 10.2 Or...
101
orionblastar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have an Acer laptop I won from a church basket raffle. It only has a 1.5 Ghz AMD Dual core CPU and 3Gigs of RAM and 250 Gig hard drive. So it runs slow at first and takes a time to load everything.

It upgraded to Windows 10 Pro quite well.

It is one of those cheaper laptops and it has an AMD GPU as well. I don't know how user serviceable it is, but it hasn't needed any work yet.

I used to have Ubuntu on it, but my wife didn't like it so I had to put Windows back with it as we share the laptop. So I know it runs Ubuntu very well, and it runs Ubuntu faster than it does Windows.

But PC quality has gone down since they moved things to China. Motherboards, you are lucky if they last three years now. My son had an ATX custom system with an ATX motherboard for the Intel 1150 socket made by ASUS, and it went out and was replaced with an Intel brand motherboard that we had to buy from eBay because the socket is so old they don't make new motherboards for it anymore. Motherboard lasted maybe two years before it blew out. We got a Datavac to clean up dust from it and would replace the CPU resin every six months or so.

102
justinhj 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a Lenova Yoga Pro and it's great. Nice build quality, silent, touch screen. My kid found it plays latest games at medium detail.
103
dba7dba 4 hours ago 0 replies      
We need Elon to jump into PC business.
104
MindTooth 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Amen to that!
105
pmarreck 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, now you know why I use Macs.

They are closed (unfortunately) but they are not full of bullshit, at least.

106
tempodox 5 hours ago 0 replies      
+1. This article should be at the top of HN.
108
joesmo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd say upgradability should be added to that list to make a better computer, otherwise it'd at best be equal to one from Apple.
109
beatpanda 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have the first-generation X1 Carbon and a Dell Precision M3800, both running Ubuntu, and I am very satisfied with both.
110
r-w 11 hours ago 2 replies      
That was a pretty quick dismissal of Lenovo, and a warped portrayal at that. As far as we can tell, Superfish was not intentionally installed by Lenovo, and any money it made didnt go to them since it wasnt their software. Theres nothing here to suggest that this is a sign of anything untrustworthy happening at Lenovo, any more than there is at any other major laptop seller. It seems like this was just a case of their software QA being not quite on par with their hardware QA. Also, all websites suck. Just sayin.

tl;dr: Picky, picky! wags finger

4
DRYing Elixir Tests with Macros hugoribeira.com
50 points by hugoribeira  4 hours ago   11 comments top 6
1
sjtgraham 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've been thinking of exactly the same thing over the last couple of days and controller tests are prime candidates for this kind of DRY-ing, e.g. one would want to make sure resources owned by a user are actually scoped to that user and unaccessible to others. That is something that needs to be done on every action. Perfect case for DRY-ing up.
2
147 6 minutes ago 1 reply      
Was it not possible to simply write a function to achieve the same result?
3
ninjakeyboard 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is a very cool demo of use of macros.

On testing, I think DRY principles are a good thing in your production code but I don't believe there is anything wrong with having lots of repetition in your test code. Each test can be read from front to back by the reader. If you have to wander around trying to understand the design of the test then that may not be ideal. Shouldn't need unit testing for your unit tests :P

4
moomin 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
This observation is orthogonal to the original article but: often DRYing tests is a bad idea. Two principal reasons: 1) if you need a lot of boilerplate, you might need to look at refactoring your classes to reduce dependencies 2) non-DRY tests are often easier to read due to increased indirection.

None of which means that I don't reserve the right to DRY tests out when I think it's contextually appropriate.

5
luiz-pv9 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'm always very careful when placing code supporting the test outside of the test itself. Setup and teardown functions are fine, but I prefer to be safe because, well, you can't test the test.

-- I'm not saying this is the case in the blog post. Just some thoughts.

6
pesnk 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Erlang/elixir is getting some awesome love from hacker news. <3

This is pretty sweet for testing repetitive tasks and also to get starting with macros on elixir.

5
Apple can comply with the FBI court order [to access the iPhone 5c] trailofbits.com
90 points by admiralpumpkin  3 hours ago   9 comments top 5
1
nindalf 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Indeed, this is precisely why Apple is writing an open letter. If this was an iPhone 6, they would have simply told the judge "no" and that would have been the end of the story. But since its a 5C, it is possible and Apple doesn't want to do it to avoid setting a precedent. If they cooperate with law enforcement to backdoor this phone, then they would face much more pressure to comply with any future laws that require backdoors be built-in.
2
citizensixteen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is so far the clearest and easiest to understand explanation of the Apple/FBI case I have come across.Great read.
3
caf 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Makes you wonder why the FBI bothered with the bit about submitting PIN guesses electronically, and didn't just ask for a firmware that looped over all 10,000 PINs until it found the right one.
4
jeffehobbs 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Great piece. Get thee to a "Secure Enclave" supported device, everyone.
5
markyc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
FBiOS :)
6
China Deploys Missiles on Disputed Island in South China Sea wsj.com
32 points by maibaum  2 hours ago   23 comments top 5
1
sharetea 1 minute ago 0 replies      
It looks like the dictator/autocratic states in Asia (Russia/China) with its economy collapsing, is resorting to territorial aggression against neighboring countries in order to get resources and get people to look away from its collapse. China exports fall 11.2% in January, imports down 18.8% http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/14/china-releases-trade-data-for.... Russia's ruble collapses to lowest level, with "Inflation reached 12.5% in 2015 while real wages kept dropping, leaving many people much worse off." everhttp://money.cnn.com/2016/01/20/investing/russia-ruble-recor...

With Russia bumping against all of Europe, and China bumping against Japan/Korea/Taiwan/Vietnam/Malaysia/Indonesia/Phillipines, this is going to be bad for world stability.

2
dantillberg 1 hour ago 0 replies      
BBC has before-and-after satellite photos: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-35592988
3
est 48 minutes ago 1 reply      
In case anyone did't get the "disputed" part, Vietnam occupies most of South China Sea islands especially in the 70s and 80s around Sino-Vietnam war. China (actually Republic of China) claimed them earliest but didn't occupy.
4
it_learnses 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Chinese thug of a government needs to be put out of its misery.
5
caleb 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
In other news, China hacked the ocean.
7
The 4$ smartphone freedom251.com
94 points by donbox  6 hours ago   53 comments top 15
1
userbinator 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's what's in a $34 smartphone (completely un-subsidised, actual purchase cost):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9568004

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9558854

It's around a year ago, but I don't think technology has gotten cheap enough in that span of time for even a $4 dumb phone now. This one is pretty close though:

http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?page_id=3107

Edit: why does it look so iPhone-ish?

2
donbox 6 hours ago 3 replies      
It costs 251 INR to be exact. That's 3.654 USD as per today's exchange rate.

Specifications at a glance:

-- Android Lollipop 5.1

-- 4 inch qHD display

-- 1.3 Ghz Quadcore processor

-- 1 GB RAM

-- 8 GB internal memory, expandable to 32 GB

-- 1450 mAh battery

-- 3.2 MP AF Rear camera, .3 MP Front

3
dotdi 3 hours ago 6 replies      
EDIT: I was unaware of the issues of the Nexus 7. Seeing that they are not related to the phone's specs, my previous statements no longer hold.

Also, this has very similar specs to the 2012 Nexus 7 which is basically unusable with Android 5.1

Unusable meaning up to 20 seconds delay between a tap and the expected app opening up or the keyboard showing. Random hangs with the question if you want to kill the offending app.

I don't expect a $4 phone to be fast but unless there are some major differences, I think you'd just get $4 worth of frustration.

4
edent 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This sounds like Datawind's "$35 Tablet" all over again - https://asiancorrespondent.com/2012/02/aakash-brings-a-daily...

A company over-promises, the Government over-funds, and the product under-delivers.

6
pmontra 4 hours ago 3 replies      
$4 should be much less than the cost of the components. How do they stay in business?
7
mychaelangelo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
the link seems to be dead, here's the cache for those who can't view the website http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:eD-BK_b...
8
hanniabu 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not up to date on leading edge hardware, but this seems impressive especially for that price. Is there some sort of catch? This would be great to root and mess around with.
9
Yaggo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The $4 cannot be the cost of the phone but the government-subsized end-user price tag.
10
duran12 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It is probably a loss leader to create a splash. It does not seem to be supported by the Govt. Likely, only a few will be in stock at that price. Later the price will increase or the model will be discontinued.
11
dangerpowpow 2 hours ago 0 replies      
How is it so cheap? A good haircut is 4 dollars. Is the Indian Govt subsidizing it? Shady tbh
12
slaxman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow! I am extremely surprised to see this. If this device actually works, it will do a lot to push internet connectivity in India.
13
satyajeet23 1 hour ago 0 replies      
wow that's shady!
14
hathym 3 hours ago 0 replies      
smells like a scam
15
byteofprash 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Forget the whole "smart" features in the phone. I am extremely happy if I am able to make calls with this phone, message peeps through Whatsapp, update status on Facebook. As a power user, I'm sure most of us wouldn't want this phone, but imagine the power this could give to the poor people in India. With just Rs.251, communication is just one touch away. This is going to make the farmer, fishermen, plumber, merchants far more connected, productive and simply get onto to the internet and explore the taste of connectivity. I'm definitely thrilled to see the outcome of this. My only fear is the subsidies that the government has poured into this.

Rs.251 is what I spend for a tasty dinner. If someone could have a phone for that cost, why the hell not.

8
Cancer 'vaccine' that remembers and fights disease is developed by scientists telegraph.co.uk
70 points by tempestn  6 hours ago   22 comments top 5
1
marckemil 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As was pointed out before, those are unpublished results. We cannot extract any significant information from this article. For example, in many early phase trials, the standard treatment is often given WITH the new drug (or vaccine), so we'd have to know the response rate of the control group.

As other pointed out, blood cancers are very different than solid tumors -- they've historically been easier to treat. That's probably due to the tumor micro environnement that makes solid tumor a very different process. To put simply, I would not assume for a second that outcomes for blood cancers can be replicated for solid tumors.

Immunotherapy is all the rage in the cancer world right now. It resonates with patient that "their own bodies can destroy cancer". It's almost romantic. Kinda like when anti-angiogenesis drugs were all the rage a few years ago...

The "cancer vaccine" has been tried many times before. Pretty much every time the cancer finds a way around it. Sipuleucel-T is a commercially available cancer vaccine for prostate cancer. It adds a few months for $$$, but newer, non-vaccine treatments are now doing better.

We're unlikely to find "a" cure for cancer; we'll eventually find "cures" for cancer, but it will be small, incremental steps. In the meantime I'll go back to my clinic and continue to enrol patients on clinical trials

2
teekert 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I really appreciate the down-to-earth-ness of this interview, this man is being very honest. It's good not to create false hope and present cancer immunotherapy (yet perhaps) as the thing that will cure any cancer.

However, it is the only real curative treatment next to surgery and really the only treatment that can cure metastatic cancer. At the moment though, only in small percentage of people with specific cancers (mostly melanoma, skin cancers.) So there certainly is reason to be excited, the cancer field is all over this at the moment so advances in the near future can be expected.

3
nonbel 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"The findings are yet to be published and reviewed."

Are people really ok with this practice of researchers talking about their discoveries without having shared the methods and data (I don't care so much about the review aspect)? I'm certainly not, but apparently many think this is acceptable for some reason because I don't see any pushback.

4
mchahn 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Why are all the gene-based cancer breakthroughs I've seen in the news for blood diseases? Is it easier to manipulate genes in blood?
5
dschiptsov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Theory holds that mutations are random and each cancer process is different.
9
Modern Microprocessors A 90 Minute Guide (2011) lighterra.com
58 points by Tomte  5 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1
ersii 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Previous discussions of this article:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7174513 743 days ago, 226 points, 37 comments)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2428403 1774 days ago, 283 points, 30 comments)

2
amelius 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> by Jason Robert Carey Patterson

Is the author related to David Patterson?

(Known from [1])

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Computer-Architecture-Fifth-Quantitati...

10
Patent Owners Can Prevent You from Owning Anything eff.org
247 points by pavornyoh  14 hours ago   53 comments top 13
1
guelo 11 hours ago 2 replies      
We really need to get rid of the Federal Circuit. On first blush it seems like a good idea to have a court that specializes on technical patent issues. But it turns out that most lawyers interested and experienced in patent law are corporate lawyers who spent their whole careers creating and defending patents without ever thinking from the consumer point of view at all. So the patent court ends up packed with a bunch of over the top, maximal patent rights judges.
2
pklausler 10 hours ago 3 replies      
My name is on a pile of US patents, all assigned to whomever employed me at the time that they were filed. It's always been a condition of employment that I would disclose inventions and cooperate with the filing of patent applications. And now there's a bunch of good ideas that I know are not being exploited for value by anybody. I feel as if I have somehow betrayed the scientific Enlightenment by doing my duty by my employers.
3
jedmeyers 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't really understand what is going on with the legal system in the US lately? We have all those nice protections for the buyer ... unless the seller chooses not to provide them. We have all those nice protections for consumers, like being able to sue in case something goes wrong ... unless the other party decides not to play this whole 'legal system' game and includes an arbitration clause in the initial agreement, which basically means "we can break the agreement but you don't". What's up with that?
4
spodek 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Once the government grants a monopoly, no matter how limited or small, the foothold and motivation exist to expand it.

The system is: a small number of monopoly holders, each with strong incentives to expand it, versus the rest of the population, none of whom cares that much about a single case, and a court system that responds to the more motivated party.

The rest is a matter of time.

5
dh997 1 hour ago 0 replies      
File a patent on the generic supposed protection of intellectual, design and creative ideas to overworked, inconsisent and vague government entity that are then hoarded by lawyers with lots of money whom frequently visit Texas. Maybe that would wake up some folks to the fact that their ostensible protection process is right now a protection racket.
6
craigds 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This kind of bullshit is why I'm deeply scared of the TPPA. We don't want this kind of rubbish in NZ.
7
kazinator 10 hours ago 2 replies      
> And because patent infringement generally does not require intent, a consumer could be liable even if they never saw the notice or agreed to it (for example, if they bought the product used without the original packaging).

Can it? Who can prove that there was such a notice, long after the packaging is gone?

Maybe almost all units had such packaging, but I carefully inspected the box before opening the one that I bought, and didn't see any such notice. Can you produce my original packaging to show me the notice?

Or how about: I got it out of box for a reduced price. At the time I completed the sale, there was no packaging. No implicit contract can possibly bind me to a time prior to the sale, when persons unrelated to me in any way removed the packaging.

8
rayiner 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> But there is a very big reason to make such a distinction: consumers expectations based on long-standing law disfavoring these restraints on alienability of property. For almost 400 years, it has been widely accepted that those who manufacture goods shouldnt be able to reach out and exercise a dead-hand of control over the goods once the manufacture has long passed ownership on to the consumer.

The EFF takes some artistic license here. The aversions to restraints on the alienability of property apply to real property (i.e. land), which is different than mass-manufactured chattel property for obvious reasons. The doctrine has nothing to do with "consumer expectations" but is instead a way to avoid land-use planning problems that result from use and transfer restrictions in wills.

9
rhino369 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the bigger problem is the ability to sue unsophisticated end users, even when big fat suppliers, retailers or manufacturers exist and are easily sued. The only reason a patent holder would do that is to make the legal defense hard. This is a common troll tactic. Sue people with shady patents who can't mount a defense and avoid the big pockets who would invalidate the patent.
10
cwkoss 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is deeply disturbing.
11
Iv 9 hours ago 3 replies      
"in USA". Luckily such madness tend to stop at the EU borders.
12
mdip 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Although I tend to be anti-patent, the circumstances around the case are important and the eff didn't really provide them. The link, included, pointed directly to the ruling which I was unable to grok as a non-lawyer.

I found a more detailed explanation from a site that is "pro patents". Ignore the bias, but it's a good explanation of what happened here and I feel it's made it no less distrubing: http://patentlyo.com/patent/2015/04/lexmark-impression-facts...

The TL;(not-terribly-accurate)DR; is that Lexmark patented some elements of their toner cartridge and sold a "regular" and a "single-use" version at a discount with DRM to prevent its re-use. They sued a reseller that circumvented this single-use restriction and won on the "license" that states the single-use cartridge cannot be resold.

This is the kind of case that makes me hate the patent system when I'd otherwise be a proponent of it in spirit[1]. In the case of Lexmark, it appears they're using the patent system in order to continue the lousy practice[2] of charging very little for the printer while gauging the customer on the ink, a practice that I wish the patent system didn't enable. In all likelihood, they've patented some very tiny, novel part of the toner cartridge (perhaps the chip that prevents its reuse?) and are using it to enforce this sort of bait-and-switch.

I also hate the idea of enforcing a "single-use" rule via DRM and then suing to further push the idea that we don't actually own the things we buy. I'll avoid buying products that have these kinds of restrictions but if the practice becomes common-place, I expect I'll begin to have trouble doing that.

It makes me think of the little plastic cups I purchased for a family party I had last year. I was surprised to see them adorned with "U.S. Patents ####." So does this court order indicate that they can simply write a blurb indicating that they may only be used for a "Single Drink" and they can proceed to sue anyone for infringement if they fail to abide? That's reductio ad absurdum, of course, but there's many products/scenarios in-between that which are possible and likely if restricting your customers is your business model.

[1] In theory, I like the idea of giving an inventor who has created something truly unique a brief period of protection against incumbents, who will likely do whatever they can to either prevent the new product from disrupting their existing sales or copy a small inventor out of business. This is provided that the barriers for entry are particularly high. In tech, they're so low that it seems the only way patents are used is for predatory purposes by large companies.

[2] It's a bait and switch of sorts in that people pay less attention to price-per-page than they do the initial investment. It's this reason that I chose to buy a black-and-white laser printer the last time I purchased a printer (2005?). I've gone through two $35-$65 "compatible" toner cartridges since then.

13
gizi 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Japanese and especially European car manufacturers are good examples of the problem. They load so much restrictive software onto their cars, that these cars are now deemed unusable by at least half the global population. This leaves a fantastic opening in the market for producers who offer an alternative. Car manufacturers which are either less reliant on software or else use free software are bound to win substantial market share.
11
Polish codebreakers 'cracked Enigma before Alan Turing' telegraph.co.uk
93 points by danielam  8 hours ago   32 comments top 9
1
munin 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone who wants more of a history of WW2 crypto that extends the cast of characters beyond Turing (and the cast was significant and varied) should read "Battle of Wits" (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0743217349) the historian who wrote it wrote it after a large NSA declassification in 1996.

What's even more extreme about the Polish codebreakers, a story you would read in Battle of Wits, is that they were evacuated from Poland to France after the invasion of Poland, and then stayed in occupied France working in secret for the Allies as part of the occupation government. They posed to the occupation government as the occupation governments signals intelligence system but secretly supplied GC&CS with information they intercepted from the continent (which the Allies had a lot of trouble doing only from the UK).

They did that for years, when they tried to evacuate themselves to Spain, a few of them were captured, interrogated, and did not give up the goods about either the invasion or the secret of Enigma. If you want wartime crypto heroes you would have a hard time doing better than Jerzy Rycki, Henryk Zygalski and Marian Rejewski.

2
stevetrewick 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Looked for a 1990s publishing date, but apparently this really is contemporary because :

>Diplomats say Poland's key part in the deciphering the German system of codes in WWII has largely been overlooked

Except for being mentioned, sometimes in great detail in every single account - popular and technical - I've ever read and underneath every internet article on Enigma since comments were invented and being basically the first thing any cipher geek brings up when Enigma is discussed anywhere on the planet.

But apart from that, yeah, totally overlooked.

3
ENTP 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When I was at Bletchley 4 years ago, we were told all about the Polish mathematicians. There's even a statue/tribute to them there.
4
osullivj 2 hours ago 1 reply      
My understanding is that the Polish team cracked the three rotor Enigma. Turing & co extended that work to four rotor plus plug board.
5
wildmXranat 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The Polish mathematicians were truly great. It was Rajewski and crew who broke the enigma codes.
6
satori99 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good short summary of the accomplishments of the WWII Polish code breakers;

http://www.codesandciphers.org.uk/virtualbp/poles/poles.htm

7
gambiting 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Well, it's the same as everyone using the name "Marie Curie" even though every Polish child will tell you her proper name was "Maria Skodowska-Curie". Curie was her husband's name, and she explicitly used both names on all of her work, yet it's almost unknown that she was Polish in the West.
8
SixSigma 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Good for them.

Personally I feel the Entscheidungsproblem was more important work but that's not such a great story.

9
orionblastar 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes the Polish code breaking was underplayed in The Imitation Game and reduced to just one line. Turing built a more complex version of the Polish Bombie machine to crack a more complex version of Enigma.
12
China's Subprime Crisis Is Here bloomberg.com
162 points by RaSoJo  9 hours ago   137 comments top 16
1
jcoffland 7 hours ago 13 replies      
The American media seems to jump at any opportunity to dismiss China as an economic threat. It makes us feel more secure but leads to a public informed only about one side of China's story. Namely the part our ego can handle. China has regularly surpassed the US in number of cars sold since 2009. China also holds more US debt than any other country. Another way to put that is the US government owes China over 1 trillion USD. This, I believe, is the real reason the American media trips over themselves to write stories that sooth away the nagging fear that China is, or even already has surpassed us economically.

Edit: more interesting facts.

- China's percent GDP growth is more than twice that of the US. (7.4% vs 2.4% in 2015)

- China's government has $3.9T in cash reserves vs the US' $434B.

- China has twice as many children enrolled in primary and secondary school and 50% more undergrads than the US.

We can only say but, but, but for so long.

2
obblekk 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This doesn't seem like a particularly compelling argument. Bad loan volumes have risen, but not above historical highs.

As a percentage of total debt, the article says bad debt is at 1.67%. This is up 51% from 1.25% in the last year. Considering the amount of margin that's been wiped out as a result of the stock bubble popping, this doesn't seem terrible. In addition, it doesn't seem like this rate is accelerating (since 2009), but linearly increasing.

Maybe Chinese banks are consistently increasing the amount of debt they issue and the risk they take per unit debt as a rational response to increasing productivity of Chinese businesses. This implies a greater amount of leverage for the Chinese economy, but not necessarily extreme irrationality.

Maybe there's something here (I actually think there are structural problems in the Chinese economy) but this article does not make a compelling case.

3
JumpCrisscross 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a conjecture, in economics, that out of a fixed exchange rates, free capital flows and a sovereign monetary policy, a country can only pick two. This is known as the Impossible Trinity [1].

The United States plays strategy b, relinquishing a fixed exchange rate. Greece plays a, trading away its monetary-policy sovereignty within the eurozone.

China is trying to move from c (ex free capital flows) to b (ex fixed exchange rates). In the process, it's caught in the Impossible Trinity. Either cordinated decisiveness or some combination of a currency and/or capital-outflow will force them into a stable configuration.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossible_trinity

4
sharetea 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is good, but it underscores how fast and catastrophic China's collapse is.

- China's total debt risen to 346% of GDP in 2015. http://seekingalpha.com/article/3852886-chinese-debt-problem...

- China exports fall 11.2% in January, imports down 18.8% http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/14/china-releases-trade-data-for...

- Chinas $6.7 trillion bond market is flashing the same danger signs that triggered a tumble in stocks http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2015/10/10/...

- China Capital Outflows Rise to Estimated $1 Trillion in 2015 http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-25/china-capi...

- China's Net Capital Outflows Probably Hit $113 Billion In January http://www.actionforex.com/analysis/daily-forex-fundamentals...

- "Chinese banks will lose approximately $3.5 trillion of equity if China's banking system loses 10 percent of assets" (all of its reserve would be gone) http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/10/kyle-bass-china-banks-may-los...

5
dharma1 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
At some point, some percentage of those loans will default.

Financially China can handle it, though when those loans default, the chain of events will also have some global consequences.

The question is, when the loans do default, and with it some effects to the real economy/people, what happens to the public perception of the government in China? There is a good chance of social unrest

6
hgh 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Michael Pettis is one my favourite China commentators, with a big focus on the shifts necessary in the balance sheet and composition of growth, and whether that can be done smoothly or necessarily through some catastrophe. Not to mention a broader view of the political economy of the change.

Here's a recent post he did that's worth a read (at least through the nine point summary): http://blog.mpettis.com/2016/01/will-chinas-new-supply-side-...

7
yueq 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The root cause of 08 financial crisis is not simply 'subprime loans' that can't be repaid. It's because of trillions of derivatives that those banks hold, and lack of liquidity when banks are making wrong bet.

China doesn't have many complex financial engineerings as US did in 07/08.

8
melted 7 hours ago 0 replies      
FWIW, George Friedman (of STRATFOR) predicted this, except he believed the implosion of China would be on a truly catastrophic scale. So they could still be at the edge of a much deeper hole.

See: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century https://www.amazon.com/dp/0767923057

9
narrator 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Ahhh the old' China crisis again! The dog that didn't bark. The Charlie Brown football that never got kicked. The constant and unending crisis that is on its way any day now.

As I have explained over the years in many previous comments, China's banking system is partially privatized central planning, the government prints it's own money. Thus, when there is a credit crisis the government just recapitalizes the banks with freshly printed Yuan and sells off the bad loans at a discount. Bankers who behaved badly get executed or disappeared and the whole thing starts over.

Don't believe me? Let's take a trip down memory lane on HN:

China: Crisis Gauge Rises to Record High2 points Cless 2 years ago 0 comments (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-26/crisis-gauge-rises-...)

China Interbank Rates at Record High (think Lehman Bros.)1 points teawithcarl 3 years ago 0 comments (http://m.theepochtimes.com/n3/118747-china-banking-crisis-in...)

China's Brewing Crisis Is a Thousand Times Greece's8 points ytNumbers 6 months ago 4 comments (http://www.forbes.com/sites/panosmourdoukoutas/2015/08/25/ch...)

Skyscraper index points to elevated risk of financial crisis in China, India2 points cs702 4 years ago 0 comments (http://www.scribd.com/doc/78470886/Index-Bubble-Building-100...)

China fears bond crisis as it slams quantitative easing1 points chaostheory 7 years ago 0 comments (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfina...)

China hit hardest by US Downgrade2 points ca136 5 years ago 0 comments (http://gulfnews.com/opinions/editorials/us-crisis-hits-china...)

Chinas Coming Economic Crisis?3 points kercker 2 years ago 0 comments (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/04/08/chinas-comin...)

Why China Will Have an Economic Crisis1 points eande 4 years ago 0 comments (http://business.time.com/2012/02/27/why-china-will-have-an-e...)

Confidence of China VCs drops to new low2 points ilamont 7 years ago 0 comments (http://www.thestandard.com/news/2008/10/29/global-economic-c...)

10
zcbenz 6 hours ago 2 replies      
If you keep saying China has economic crisis, finally you are gonna be right some day.
11
greggarious 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Assuming this headline is correct, what effects would that have on the global economy?
12
einar2812 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it right that China owns a lot of its own debt AND a lot of US debt as well? And also heard that China supposedly has the largest gold reserves in the world, dwarfing any other country in comparison. Could that count for something?
13
foxhedgehog 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One factor not discussed in this article is the demographic headwinds that China is heading into. Their one child policy is only now resulting in greatly distorted working age ratios, which means that their non-working elderly population is increasing faster than the population of workers to support them. With a safety net in place that relies heavily on existing familial structures rather than government programs, there are reasons to be concerned about declining aggregate demand over the next several years, precisely as China is trying hardest to transition from export-led growth to a larger, domestically-focused economy.
14
tim333 8 hours ago 2 replies      
China's situation is a bit different to the US's in that given it's socialist leanings it will probably just keep lending and bailing out.
15
jorgecurio 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Everytime a piece about china is posted the comments are quickly the same in tone, "oh but China already surpassed US" uh no it fucking didn't not even close. Especially when the Chinese minister admitted China's GDP is complete fiction. Nobody in China even knows the score because it's super tough with all the corruption to get anything done with accuracy.

It's like there's no room for a China that is fallible. China is perfect the all knowing all seeing for these crowd. China is the future they claim.

Not with that ugly ass communist nanny state system suppressing free speech and censoring media you don't.

16
gesman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think mr. Madoff need to be let out of jail to educate Chinese government.
13
Vulkan in 30 minutes renderdoc.org
158 points by adamnemecek  14 hours ago   23 comments top 2
1
panic 13 hours ago 8 replies      
The sample code shows just how absurdly explicit this API is. 200 lines to get a triangle on the screen!
2
Narishma 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's Vulkan, with a K.
14
As Marijuana Sales Grow, Startups Step in for Wary Banks nytimes.com
28 points by abruzzi  7 hours ago   8 comments top 3
1
pmorici 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or do phrases like this from the article sound sleazy, "Mr. Zarrad is confident he can stay on the good side of the banks because of his experience as a regulator, and before that, in the financial industry." and " He is planning to approach some of the banks he previously regulated and is hoping that his background will convince them that he understands the compliance issues they are facing."
2
CPLX 38 minutes ago 2 replies      
The blockchain element mentioned further down in the article seems intriguing, but also looks a little like window dressing. Can someone more Bitcoin literate than me explain from a practical standpoint what they are actually doing and what actual benefit is provided by the blockchain integration?
3
throwaway217 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've only visited a marijuana dispensary once, in Oregon, but my coworker had not problem using her credit card to pay for her recreational marijuana purchase. I'm pretty sure they used Square.
15
Intel Xeon D 12 and 16 core parts launched: first benchmarks servethehome.com
113 points by rbanffy  13 hours ago   86 comments top 10
1
bnastic 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
Every couple of years Intel hardware keeps changing my mind from "I'll just rent everything in the cloud" to "I should build a server from this and keep everything in house!". And vice versa.
2
matt_wulfeck 12 hours ago 4 replies      
> If you are using a compute optimized AWS c4.4xlarge instance: you will be able to purchase the Intel Xeon D-1587 system for about the same price as the Partial Upfront up front AWS fee, then colocate the box saving over $1500/ year per instance while getting better performance.

I hear this type of argument a lot, but it's so important to include the cost in engineering and talent necessary to keep your datacenter humming.

If you're a small shop with a small future growth expectation then sure, forget Amazon and start racking your own boxes. Just be ready to hire ops staff competent to run your operation. You need to be realistic about both aspects of cost.

3
mey 12 hours ago 6 replies      
"128GB is now starting to become a limitation. With 16 cores that is only 8GB/ core."

This comment gave me pause, I feel like I'm falling out of pace with the evolution of commodity server systems. We've gone from being network (10/40gbe) and disk io (fixed with SSD, PCIe NVRAM and Fiberchannel) bound in the the near past to swing towards memory capacity bound?

4
iheartmemcache 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't stress how game-changing this is to anyone in super-computing. (The whole direction Intel's been taking for the last ~5 years has been poised for this.) I went into a bit of detail here[1] (n.b. this was pre-Xeon D, the addition of which will only increase performance) for those who are curious.

Right now we're living in a golden age of financially accessible super-computing. We don't need to deal with MPI anymore, we just use RDMA and have Infiniband speed fetches to any machine joined to the cluster[see: MS Paper]. I was working on RELION as a favor to my father and got deeper and deeper into it because my docket was pretty open and it was fascinating. Long story short, I sketched up a test setup with Phi, RDMA (which admittedly wasn't used that much, as the problem set would be characterized by anyone as "embarrassingly parallel") and 10GBit. This is all commodity stuff, and we effectively never touch disk -- I cobbled together 18650's in the rack[see: batt] instead of a UPS with a uC which fires off a 'persist state to disk' message on any power interrupt but other than that it's all RAM and blazing fast. (Side-note: anyone who read the Nature Methods special on all the Cryo-EM stuff may be seeing a paper or two with a few new sets of computational methodologies in the near future ;))

Buyer beware though -- sacrificing clock speed for more cores can end up costing you a lot more overall[2]. Licensing policies have a tendency to change around from version to version, so your perfectly licensed Oracle 11g (lets say it was quantified by the physical chip you throw into the socket) might not have a straight forward upgrade path (now by the number of vCPUs). A lot of clients of mine got burned trying to move from Iron to AWS, only to realize that Oracle licensed per _available CPU_. Fines galore. They ended up downgrading to a previous revision Xeon (i.e. 4th gen E5 MSRP $x,xxx instead of 5th gen E5 MSRP $0,xxx with better performance but more cores). Anyone encountering this problem should keep that trick up their sleeve and find some 1 year old off-lease equipment with less cores but a higher clock speed to keep license compliance and still meet your computational demands. Anyways, yeah the latest and greatest might not be the most economic of choices for this reason[licensing].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10805087[2] This has so many variables as one can imagine - you can't just go by what people did in 1975 i.e. "this instruction takes x cycles, we can physically count how long our computation will take with a sheet of graph paper" because of pre-fetching, pipelining, cache patterns, the use (or lack of use) of the AVX(2) registers, etc etc. [3]https://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/intelr-xeon-phitm-...[MS Paper] http://sigops.org/sosp/sosp15/current/2015-Monterey/printabl...[Batt] As you probably have guessed, I have no formal EE training. I did however rigorously read all of the safety datasheets, use very high quality Panasonics, and strictly conform to the CC-CV guidelines so my fathers lab would not catch on fire. This is probably not the best idea, but it's electrically safe and isolated. It'd pass UL certification.... at least I think ;) [licensing] If you're a corporate entity who is moving into any sort of cloud or onto new hardware, my firm has quite a bit of expertise in licensing compliance when either a) shifting to new hardware, or b) shifting to the cloud, as well as getting your best bang for buck with existing licenses.

5
dman 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there some cloud for developers where one can try out new hardware from Intel / Nvidia / AMD? This is turning out to be a great year for hardware and theres too much new stuff coming out for my home lab.
6
bhouston 11 hours ago 0 replies      
We are trying out a few of Intel Xeon D 1520 machines as the primary servers for https://Clara.io. They seem to be working fine at a low cost.
7
intrasight 11 hours ago 3 replies      
>ahead of the Xeon E5 V3 series I'm confused (probably because I don't understand Intel Xeon). Isn't that Haswell, and thus now two generation back?
8
userbinator 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the 'D' stands for, as the next earlier Intel CPU with 'D' in its model name was the Pentium D, where it meant "dual core".
9
simplexion 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder how much it will cost to have 2 of these in a server running Windows Server 2016.
10
tosseraccount 13 hours ago 6 replies      
Passmark has some benchmarks, including the E5 v3s , updated today ...

http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html

"The King of the Hill" is only 2.3 GHz ?

16
Backdoor in DVR firmware sends CCTV camera snapshots to email address in China pentestpartners.com
155 points by campuscodi  14 hours ago   36 comments top 15
1
colanderman 7 hours ago 1 reply      
They don't say whether they actually caught the DVR in the act of e-mailing frames. A simple Wireshark trace could reveal the difference between malintent and some dumb vestigial debugging code.

Actually, from a brief scan of a related codebase, it's likely that it doesn't send e-mails. The title of the article is therefore at a minimum unsubstantiated.

2
Yaggo 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I would love to see a documentary / an interview of the developer (team?) behind these Chinese crappy products. Are they really that incompetent or is it just totally different culture?

I mean, after all they are capable of bundling the all FOSS together, writing some code by their own, and even shipping a working product, but they don't realize that running commands as root from query string is horrible idea? That's hard to buy.

3
ttctciyf 12 hours ago 2 replies      
That sounds horrific.

This code seems related - it has the cow ascii art and the email-sending functionality and email address mentioned in the article: https://github.com/simonjiuan/ipc/blob/master/src/cgi_misc.c - I wonder what else is in there!

4
theshowmustgo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone with the same name has some chinese CCTV apps on the Apple appstore, one updated 5 days ago: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ipctester/id870933100

And on Google Playstorehttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.juanvision...

Do they also contain backdoors?Domain and email used: www.dvr163.com caostorm@163.comScreenshots in the app come from this site: http://www.juancctv.com/jishu.asp

5
devhxinc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting talk at Blackhat about the numerous security vulnerabilities CCTV cameras have such as hard coded master passwords in firmware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LaI0xjeefpg
6
sdk77 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"Visiting moo shows us a curious image of a cow."

That image isn't so curious. Try 'apt-get moo' on any debian based box.

7
est 46 minutes ago 2 replies      
lawishere@yeah.com

yeah.com is early free hosting and email provider in China.

maybe the same person with an avatar http://tieba.baidu.com/home/main?un=lawishere

maybe his blog http://blog.csdn.net/lawishere

lots of C/C++, mpeg, streaming stuff.

8
_yy 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I have one of those. Root password is "juantech". Did not know about the shell, how useful! The telnet daemon crashed quickly on mine last time I played with it.

... :-/

Fortunately, I disconnected it from the network a long time ago. Works well standalone, the UI is ok.

9
rrauenza 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Are there any DVRs in the consumer space that aren't terrible? I bought a Dahua based on some recommendations, but in the end am disappointed.
10
caf 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if a project to build an open replacement firmware for DVRs, along the lines of OpenWRT, would gain traction.
11
Natsu 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The Amazon link presented in the article has no reviews of this product that explain what it does. If anyone decides to buy one to play with, it'd be good to leave a warning to others about this sort of behavior. The product does not appear to be available in the US for whatever reason.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0162AQCO4

(Link has been shortened to use only the ASIN.)

12
matthewbauer 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't figure out whether this is malicious intent or just incompetency. Regardless, we really need consumer protections for software flaws.
13
hoodoof 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This post could be titled:

"Backdoor in DVR firmware sends CCTV camera snapshots to email address in China"

OR

"Backdoor in DVR firmware sends CCTV camera snapshots to email address"

Notice the difference?

14
bjackman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking about what we can do about the flood of hideously insecure embedded devices. I wonder if there are industry standard, consumer-visible product security certifications?
15
contingencies 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In 2001 I wrote a 10,000 word series of articles for the physical security industry on emerging computer-based threats. Apparently they didn't read them.
17
Running your models in production with TensorFlow Serving googleresearch.blogspot.com
157 points by hurrycane  14 hours ago   18 comments top 5
1
Smerity 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Model serving in production is a persistent pain point for many ML backends, and is usually done quite poorly, so this is great to see.

I'm expecting large leaps and bounds for TensorFlow itself.This improvement to surrounding infrastructure is a nice surprise, just as TensorBoard is one of the nicest "value-adds" that the original library had[4].

Google have ensured many high quality people have been active as evangelists[3], helping build a strong community and answerbase.While there are still gaps in what the whitepaper[1] promises and what has made it to the open source world[2], it's coming along steadily.

My largest interests continue to be single machine performance (a profiler for performance analysis + speedier RNN implementations) and multi-device / distributed execution.Single machine performance had a huge bump from v0.5 to v0.6 for CNNs, eliminating one of the pain points there, so they're on their way.

I'd have expected this to lead to an integration with Google Compute Engine (TensorFlow training / prediction as a service) except for the conspicuous lack of GPU instances on GCE.While GPUs are usually essential for training (and theoretically could be abstracted away behind a magical GCE TF layer) there are still many situations in which you'd want access to the GPU itself, particularly as performance can be unpredictable across even similar hardware and machine learning model architectures.

[1]: http://download.tensorflow.org/paper/whitepaper2015.pdf

[2]: Extricating TensorFlow from "Google internal" must be a real challenge given TF distributed training interacts with various internal infra tools and there are gaps with open source equivalents.

[3]: Shout out to @mrry who seems to have his fingers permanently poised above the keyboard - http://stackoverflow.com/users/3574081/mrry?tab=answers&sort...

[4]: I've been working on a dynamic memory network (http://arxiv.org/abs/1506.07285) implementation recently and it's just lovely to see a near perfect visualization of the model architecture by default - http://imgur.com/a/PbIMI

2
dgacmu 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Note also that we've released v0.7 of Tensorflow today - more details in the release announcement: https://groups.google.com/a/tensorflow.org/forum/#!topic/dis...
3
swah 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Off-topic: I always open C++ projects from Google - they are always so tidy and clean. It just feels like a work of craftmanship, if that actually exists in software: https://github.com/tensorflow/serving/tree/master/tensorflow...

OTOH, I have a strong prejudice against Javascript on the backend... And its not due to it being dynamic - the same doesn't happen with Python codebases. It is completely irrational.

4
TheGuyWhoCodes 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks great and brings TensorFlow close to using it in production where the model has a life cycle.

I'd wish they could implement other well know ML algos like trees, give Spark ML some fight :)

5
curiousfiddler 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure if TensorFlow already provides that, but it would also be pretty awesome to access some of Google's data sets to train the models.
18
Mental health in startups medium.com
18 points by jd_routledge  1 hour ago   1 comment top
1
jd_routledge 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hi,

I just wrote a piece about mental health in startups.

This is something that has been covered by a few others in the past, but I still dont think it is talked about enough.

I dont know what the answer is, but I am trying to raise awareness and getting people to talk about their struggles more and more.

If you think that this is a topic we should be talking about more please could you like and share my post around?

Also if you know of any other great resource on the topic please can you share it with me?

Thanks so much, James

19
The circumflex: a battle over an accent mark bbc.com
36 points by Perados  9 hours ago   33 comments top 7
1
pif 4 hours ago 1 reply      
As an Italian living in France, I've noticed a pattern: several times, a circumflex in French corresponds to an "S" lost from its Latin origin.

Examples:

FR "cot" - EN "cost" - IT "costo" - LAT "constare"

FR "crpe" - EN "crpe" - IT "crespella" - LAT "crispus"

FR "tt" - EN "soon" - IT "tosto" - LAT "tostus"

FR "chteau" - EN "castle" - IT "castello" - LAT "castellum"

2
hobarrera 6 hours ago 1 reply      
> it suggested to remove the circumflex from above the letters i and u where the accent does not change the pronunciation nor the meaning of the word, as in paratre (to appear) or cot (cost).

Looks like it's a functional change. I'm a spanish speaker, and would hate to see all the accents go, because they indicate how a word must be pronounced. But we too, have cases which don't indicate anything, and I'd like to see these equally gone.

3
legulere 3 hours ago 3 replies      
It's pretty silly how people get outraged about the smallest changes in the writing system. In Germany the last real changes were made over 100 years ago (removal of C, Th, etc.). There are so many things where there's no justification to do it the way it's done now. That we write a few words with v instead of f helps nobody. The tons of ways we mark long vocals only confuse. S only being pronounced sh in front of p and t is pretty arbitrary, you use the rule for all consonants and become more similar to the other Germanic languages (e.g. Schweden -> Sweden, schmelzen -> smelzen). You could write ts instead of z, because that's how we actually pronounce it and it would be easier to understand for speakers of other germanic languages (smeltsen).

But no that would be seen as the downfall of our culture or something.

4
gulpahum 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The French are going to get a new standardized keyboard, partly to protect the language. [1]

Would dropping circumflexes help creating a simpler keyboard?

[1] http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/21/10805562/france-change-key...

5
zdkl 6 hours ago 2 replies      
My name is spelled with an accent circonflexe, imagine my reaction when I learned this :)To further the griping frenchman's clich, good luck getting me to drop it; The sentimental value, the culture, merde!
6
elcapitan 3 hours ago 1 reply      
As the article mentions, Germany had a big battle around such changes 20 years ago. It has settled down since. Some things in language are pretty arbitrary, and if it's a sufficiently small group of changes, it's probably no big deal to make that change. Matters would be totally different for English I guess ;)

In general I would oppose changes to the language by committee, in particular politically motivated ones, but this seems to be fairly uncontroversial (only that it defies tradition, but "natural" changes in language do so too).

7
bambax 3 hours ago 3 replies      
This whole affair is the symptom of a deeper tragedy, that of the French "orthographe" (meaning "proper spelling").

Orthographe is a rather recent notion, that appeared well after the creation of the Acadmie franaise (1635), I would say somewhere in the middle of the 18th century, and then became the universal enforceable "norm" that it is today, in the middle of the following century (19th).

Before that, you could spell French any which way you liked; most authors spelled the same word differently, not just in different works, but in the same page, and not depending on context either.

And it wasn't a problem, because it can be argued that the best works of French literature were written at a time when orthographe didn't exist.

There were "grammarians" that insisted that there should be some rules and that they should be followed, but they were objects of universal scorn and mockery.

Then, I'm not sure exactly how, grammarians won, and now we have orthographe.

Orthographe is a tragedy for two reasons:

- it's mainly, or uniquely, a social marker

- it's so complex and so arbitrary, it takes between 5 and 10 years of arduous study to learn.

And after people learn it, they become attached to it, it becomes part of their identity, and it continues to be enforced and imposed on children as a matter of course, without any objection from anybody.

For the record, I'm a very good (or by most metrics, excellent) French speller, but I'm also a parent and am heartbroken to see my kids spend the best part of their young lives learning this thing that has absolutely no extrinsic or intrinsic value whatsoever. They could learn music, or drawing, or cooking, or woodworking, or go play outdoors, but there's no time, because orthographe is so damn hard it takes all of the time in school, and more time at home. Hard and useless.

The worst part is it's not a fight you can fight on your own -- decide that your kids won't learn orthographe after all -- because that would cause them a huge disservice: the social marker part means that those who can't spell are excluded from normal society and have a very hard time finding jobs (any job).

Many social problems in French society -- including, I really think so, recent outbursts of "terrorism" -- have at least some roots in the actual terror and tragedy of orthographe. If you can't learn orthographe you can't be a member of French society, and in order to learn orthographe you have to already be a member of said society.

Do I like the current reform? No, I think it's stupid and counter-productive, because it adds an alternative spelling to 2000 or so words; the alternative spelling may be simpler, but the addition raises complexity instead of lowering it. -- The point is to get rid of orthographe, not double it.

20
Vulkan is Here khronos.org
868 points by ekianjo  23 hours ago   192 comments top 34
1
Udo 23 hours ago 2 replies      
This chart sums it up pretty well:

https://twitter.com/renderpipeline/status/699346348651507713

There is no reason why any given app developer would want to talk to Vulkan directly. It's basically only suitable for a subset of engine developers and low level API programmers.

I also heard some people who were under NDA might have some disappointing things to report about the Vulkan decision process now that it's out. But the question is whether it matters at all whether it's a good API or not, given my impression that it's apparently not intended for interfacing to humans but to higher layer APIs.

2
bd 19 hours ago 2 replies      
For reality check read "Talos Principle" FAQ on their Vulkan port (probably the most complex non-toy Vulkan application you can try today):

http://steamcommunity.com/app/257510/discussions/0/412447331...

TLDR: optimism for the future but right now performance is actually noticeably worse than their DirectX 11 rendering backend.

--------

A: Ok, first, in GPU-bound scenarios (ultra settings, resolution higher than full HD), you'll see lower performance, 20 to 30% lower. This is work in progress, and we (both Croteam and IHVs) are analyzing and optimizing the performance. We'll get to the bottom of this!

Q: And CPU-bound scenarios?

A: Same or a bit faster. But for now, those scenarios really have to be super-CPU-bound. Like, rendering whole levels, without any help from visibility system, frustum, distance or occlusion culling.

3
shmerl 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Congratualations! It's a major step forward.

Note this however:

> Vulkan takes cross-platform performance and control to the next level, said Bill Hollings of The Brenwill Workshop. We are excited to be working through Khronos, the forum for open industry standards, to bring Vulkan to iOS and OS X.[1]

Of course Apple had to remain the jerks they are and not support Vulkan natively, forcing developers to write translation layers[2]...

[1] https://www.khronos.org/news/press/khronos-releases-vulkan-1...

[2] https://moltengl.com/metalvk/

4
unsigner 23 hours ago 9 replies      
NOT a successor. It's a very different beast. It's frequently described as a "low-level" API, but "explicit API" is more correct. It gives you control (and responsibility) for things that happen behind your back in OpenGL, e.g. semantics of sharing of resources between the CPU and the GPU, explicit separate access to many GPUs, explicit separation of command buffer building and submission etc.

It will live side-by-side with OpenGL for the foreseeable future. It's just targeting the same general area (graphics using GPUs) and is standardized by the same folks (Khronos).

5
pavlov 23 hours ago 5 replies      
As usual, not available for Mac.

If this follows the usual trajectory, we'll have a sort-of-working implementation of Vulkan 1.0 in OS X 10.13 (although it will kernel panic if you look at it the wrong way).

But maybe Apple's stance on Vulkan is different now due to their own Metal API? Is Apple involved in Vulkan at all?

6
hatsunearu 22 hours ago 4 replies      
The website says it is also a compute API. I haven't heard this before; I didn't know Vulkan came with a GPGPU stack. Does anyone have any experience looking at the compute aspects of Vulkan and how it compares to OpenCL?

I wanted to take a squiz at making GPU compute code for "fun" and I'm wondering if Vulkan compute is worth looking at.

7
ekianjo 23 hours ago 2 replies      
And here's a chart on whether or not you should switch to Vulkan:

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CbUg4_5WEAANwhc.jpg:large

8
dman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Dont notice any AMD products at https://www.khronos.org/conformance/adopters/conformant-prod... even though AMD already has drivers out. Whats up with that?
9
Benjamin_Dobell 23 hours ago 1 reply      
> Google gives you everything you need to incorporate Vulkan into your Android games and other apps where graphics performance is key

Err, do they? Where?

I was under the impression this isn't implemented yet and is expected to be included in Android 7.

10
speps 23 hours ago 1 reply      
11
bitmapbrother 22 hours ago 1 reply      
A video showing the dramatic performance difference between Vulkan and OpenGL on an Android TV device:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_I8an8jXuM

12
maufl 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Could OpenGL be implemented as a library on top of Vulkan? So that future drivers will only implement the Vulkan API and if you want OpenGL, you just use an OpenGL library?
13
advanderveer 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Would it be worthwhile to write a Golang API on top of such a low level implementation or would that just negate the reason it exists in the first place?
14
coetry 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This is finally my chance to delve into graphics hacking. I'm interested in bindings to Common Lisp with this >:
15
auvi 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Great news! I am waiting for the book titled "Vulkan Programming Guide: The Official Guide to Learning Vulkan (OpenGL) 1st Edition" to come out. Looks like it will be out in August 2016.
16
frik 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I am seeing forward to a possible "WebVulkan" analog to WebGL.
17
znpy 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Dumb question: what will change for end-users ?
18
diakritikal 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I think what's most interesting is strong multi threading support in conjunction with an intermediate representation.

Looking forward to seeing SPIR-V compilers in other languages...

19
gulpahum 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The reason I have been waiting for Vulkan is to get rid of OpenGL driver bugs. I hope that being closer to metal means less bugs.
20
nercury 21 hours ago 0 replies      
It is rare to see a cross platform release with so much collaboration behind the scenes. Extremely exciting!
21
tgb 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Does this do anything to address the difficulties of sharing the gpu resources among processes, particularly concerning untrusted code like a website? Even opengl es can crash my video driver easily under a heavy load and it's more careful than opengl.
22
vegabook 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you AMD. Vulkan is essentially a development of Mantle, AMD's next-gen graphics API, and without that forward-thinking leadership, we'd still be messing with (closed) D3D on Windows, (closed) proprietary per-game drivers from greedy Nvidia, and the outdated OpenGL.

Kudos all the more deserved for the fact that AMD doesn't have the financial firepower of its competitors.

23
bd 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Quick Vulkan starter pack (if you just want to see if it runs on your system, without compiling anything).

Windows-centric, but many things also available for Linux and Android.

------- Drivers -------

Nvidia GPU driver: https://developer.nvidia.com/vulkan-driver (worth trying even if your GPU is not listed as supported, e.g. 900 series mobile Maxwell GPUs like GTX 970M or GTX 980M work ok)

AMD GPU driver: http://support.amd.com/en-us/kb-articles/Pages/Radeon-Vulkan...

------- Demos -------

Nvidia Vulkan Choppers demo: https://nvidia.app.box.com/s/rj9nzxkpz21qu34h8zew301kray9urb...

Nvidia Vulkan Fish demo (threaded rendering): http://developer.download.nvidia.com/mobile/shield/assets/Th...

Vulkan examples binaries by Sascha Willems: http://vulkan.gpuinfo.org/examples.php

- requires assets from source distribution (create "bin" subfolder and place binaries there): https://github.com/SaschaWillems/Vulkan

- also may need to install Visual Studio 2015 redistributables: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=481...

------- Games -------

Talos Principle: http://store.steampowered.com/app/257510/ (there is a free demo available)

See how to enable Vulkan support here: http://steamcommunity.com/app/257510/discussions/0/412447331...

------- Tools -------

Vulkan HW capabilities database: http://vulkan.gpuinfo.org/

Vulkan Hardware Capability Viewer: http://vulkan.gpuinfo.org/download.php

24
bane 13 hours ago 0 replies      
25
robohamburger 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't read the docs yet but I wonder if this means there could be an open source d3d or opengl implementation that uses vulkan as its backend.

Also: it is a shame the API docs appear to be behind a login page. Hopefully that will change! The nice thing about opengl is it (at least when I used it) the docs were easy to get at.

26
kbwt 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Quick Reference: https://www.khronos.org/registry/vulkan/specs/1.0/refguide/V...

The Khronos site seems to be overloaded right now.

27
Aardwolf 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Too bad the sample code linked to from multiple locations is empty... only a README.md:https://github.com/KhronosGroup/Vulkan-Samples
28
Bytes 23 hours ago 0 replies      
It will be interesting to see the adoption rate for games and other applications now that it has been released.
29
abrodersen 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Mac Support is coming: https://moltengl.com/metalvk/
30
wenderen 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Apparently the GeForce 800 series doesn't support Vulkan :(

https://developer.nvidia.com/vulkan-driver

Why is this so, any idea?

31
bovermyer 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Vulkan remains, and will only ever be, the Primarch of the Salamanders for me. Sorry, I guess my gamer culture overrides my tech nerd culture.
32
Eduard 17 hours ago 0 replies      
So many teasered demos, but no video to look at...
33
meerita 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Where is Apple on that page?
34
bijbij 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I have dream to see such a master piece enabled on web browsers through javascript.
22
Any smooth cubic surface contains 27 lines ams.org
76 points by tokenadult  15 hours ago   30 comments top 10
1
amelius 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Any polynomial of degree n has n roots, but some of them may be degenerate, and some of them may be complex.

So, how would that translate to the cubic-surface situation?Are there cubic-surfaces that are "degenerate", and thus have actually less than 27 lines?

Are all the lines expressible in real numbers? Or do we need complex numbers, like it is the case for polynomial roots?

Just some questions that popped into my mind.

2
IngoBlechschmid 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Incidentally, this topic gave rise to a much larger theory, namely mirror symmetry (unrelated to reflection at everyday mirrors). Please take the following account of the history with some grain of salt, I'm not an expert on this topic.

After counting lines on a smooth cubic surface, you could also count lines on other manifolds, for instance three-dimensional ones given by a quintic polynomial (these are examples for "CalabiYau manifolds"). Also you could count curves of degree two, three, and so on instead of lines, which are curves of degree one. The calculations get increasingly harder: The case of degree two curves was only settled in 1986.

It therefore came as a surprise when a group of physicists (Philip Candelas, Xenia de la Ossa, Paul Green, and Linda Parkes) announced in 1991 a formula for calculating the result for curves of any degree. They did so by inventing a new technique, mirror symmetry, in which one relates the "complex geometry" (as in "complex numbers") of the manifold on which you're counting curves to the "symplectic geometry" of a certain other manifold, dubbed mirror of the original one.

Many aspects of mirror symmetry are still widely non-understood and many conjectures are motivated and made plausible by physical arguments.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_symmetry_(string_theory...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homological_mirror_symmetry

3
stephengillie 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The Wikipedia article might be more accessible: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_surface
4
ourcat 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone needs to build a threeJS/WebGL scene of this. So we can drag it around.
5
Cogito 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is anyone aware of which Greg Egan is referenced in the article?

I couldn't see any links to the original work, but I might be blind.

I suspect that it is the Australian scifi author, as it is the sort of thing he has done before, but I haven't dug into it yet.

6
pklausler 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Is the converse statement also true -- i.e., do 27 distinct lines define a cubic surface? Will have to think about this.
7
DigitalJack 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we get one in the shape of a kitten?
8
jsprogrammer 14 hours ago 2 replies      
>No matter how one goes about it, the proof of this theorem is nontrivial.

Is there a proof of this?

Also, AMS: adding additional text to the text I selected to copy is not cool.

9
ternbot 14 hours ago 0 replies      
27 * 4 = 108
10
ClayFerguson 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If you look up "-1/12" on Wikipedia page about;1+2+3+4...=-1/12 it has a mention that:"Bosonic string theory not consistent in dimensions other than 26". But if you add one dimension for time you get 27. I wonder if there is a relation between all these pointing to the number 27.
23
The Never-Ending Story: Europes Banks Face a Frightening Future bloomberg.com
53 points by T-A  14 hours ago   17 comments top 4
1
sandworm101 11 hours ago 4 replies      
>> While American banks appear to have turned the corner since that gut-churning autumn nearly eight years ago, European institutions are girding yet again for another round of restructuring.

The world should not work for the banks. The fact that American banks are now bigger than ever before is not a good thing. We need more banks, more competition in the marketplace. For that to happen the big banks have to first shrink and/or be manually broken apart. Europe's banks may not be happy, but Europeans should be. They are doing what American and the UK want but have so far failed to accomplish.

>> theres once again a flight to simplicity. Thats what regulators are demanding. And thats what legions of customers are expecting as startups deliver financial services at the tap of an app.

I wouldn't go that far. The answer to the too-big banks isn't necessarily a new paradigm. A larger number of smaller and more traditional banks offering very traditional services is also an answer. I'm not sure I want any of my banking to ever be "at the tap of an app". I don't take money so casually. Online yes, app tapping no.

2
legulere 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> Startups are reinventing the business of retail banking.

Sorry but this is complete bullshit. Both cooperative banks and public savings banks are both bigger in retail than the private banks. Then you still have some special banks like the federal KfW that offers cheap loans for things the government wants to promote.

The whole article actually only concentrates on the private banks and ignores the existence of public and cooperative banks that had significantly less problems in the crisis.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banking_in_Germany#Market_over...

3
cm2187 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Big banks have horribly dated systems and are bureaucratic to the extreme, but I doubt peer to peer lending will make more than a small dent in the consumer lending market. For a simple reason: banks can lend that much money that cheaply only thanks to a large, cheap and stable source of funding: bank deposits. And there are two types of deposits: current account and savings account.

Current accounts come with the capacity to make payments, and for that you need to be a bank. So the only way the p2p lenders will access this source of funding is by becoming big bureaucratic and highly regulated banks themselves.

Then you have savings account. It sounds like an investment but it's not. It's really a risk free, lazy investment. If the bank makes a loss on its loans, it is not passed on to the depositors. Even if the bank goes bust, and unless you have a very large deposit, your deposit is insured by the State. People who keep money on savings accounts aren't the type who are looking for risk and high returns.

P2p relies on investors actively investing in these vehicles. I don't see how this will be nowhere as large as the deposit base in a country.

On the wholesale funding market, things are different. Investors are active investors and it is much easier to shortcircuit banks and lend to corporations directly. Initially the banks were arranging the transaction, but I expect the investors to increasingly cut the middle man.

And all these articles miss what makes the biggest barrier to entry to the banking market: regulations. A bank would typically employ dozens of people just to read and follow all the regulations that apply to them. Regulations kill their profitability (they have to operate with 3 times the capital base they had in 2007), but also shields them from competition.

4
guard-of-terra 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"But Christensen says no large organization in any industry has ever been successful in building disruptive technology on its own"

Counter example: an iPhone.

There are a lot of examples like this.

24
How I doubled the battery life on my Mac by literally closing one tab in Chrome medium.com
18 points by primozcigler  2 hours ago   8 comments top 7
1
zimpenfish 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am quite happy with The Great Suspender for automatically suspending tabs - has a good range of options for tweaking.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-great-suspende...

2
mcv 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I also use Chrome's Task Manager a lot to figure out why my laptop's fan is suddenly trying to take off. Lately, though, the worst culprits seem to have been eliminated, and Chrome runs reasonably well even with the insane number of tabs I still have open.

Today it is Node that's draining my battery.

3
S_A_P 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
To add to the TLDR, its not Chrome's fault, but rather, a badly coded page that is using too much CPU.
4
justinsb 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
I do spend too much of my day with Activity Monitor open (though I am a tabuser that is seemingly incapable of closing tabs). I hope we'll see smarter behavior from browsers with throttling or paging out of least-recently-used tabs; this isn't something people should have to do.
5
jjp 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
TLDR - shutdown tabs in Chrome that are consuming CUP. Write-up explains how to use Activity Monitor to diagnose and identify tabs causing problem.
6
sandGorgon 5 minutes ago 1 reply      
Anybody know if powertop can give this data on Linux?
7
chinathrow 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Maybe the linked page is not badly coded at all - maybe that is done on purpose. Has anyone debugged why the mentioned page [1] is consuming so much CPU time?

[1]

http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=USD&view=1M

25
Dear Startups: Heres How to Stay Alive heidiroizen.tumblr.com
395 points by whbk  20 hours ago   172 comments top 26
1
dsugarman 17 hours ago 6 replies      
>If you are in Silicon Valley and your customers are mostly well-paid consumers with no free time, or other venture-backed startups, well, Id be worried.

That's the most beautifully I've heard this thought articulated. I constantly hear people in SV talk publically talk about how they're living years in the future due to getting services from startups that haven't yet hit other markets. These people are very wealthy and very short on free time; they incorrectly assume the rest of the world is as well. The reason Uber became so successful was because it became cheaper than a cab in most major markets with world class service. You have to really dig deep to justify most other on demand startups having the ability to jump the shark and it's because they don't have a plebeian offering.

2
ar7hur 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is very similar to the infamous "RIP Good Times" presentation Sequoia shared in 2008

http://www.slideshare.net/eldon/sequoia-capital-on-startups-...

3
eldavido 18 hours ago 4 replies      
What goes unspoken is how tiny the overall effect of this will be.

Yes, it will bring some concentrated pain to investors, CEOs, and employees of lots of companies. But how many people will be genuinely, life-alteringly affected by this? 1000? Maybe a few thousand? 1-2% of SF's population? By way of comparison Google has what, 50,000 employees?

I keep having to remind myself that the big companies are the elephants in the room compensation-, real estate- and traffic-wise. They employ hundreds of thousands of people and pay billions of dollars annually in wages. As much as I'd like an affordable place to live, none of this will move the needle that much for the average Bay Area resident.

4
tarr11 19 hours ago 8 replies      
The cynical side of me wonders if all this is "helpful advice" from VCs is just designed to bring valuations down to earth.
5
mindcrime 17 hours ago 1 reply      
On a related note, now's probably a good time to remind people of pg's famous "How Not To Die" essay, which is at least tangentially related to the topic at hand.

http://www.paulgraham.com/die.html

6
roymurdock 19 hours ago 8 replies      
You know what kind of companies generally survive? Companies that make more money than they spend. I know, duh, right? If you make more than you spend, you get to stay alive for a long time. If you dont, you have to get money from someone else to keep going. And, as I just said, thats going to be way harder now. Im embarrassed writing this because it is so flipping simple, yet it is amazing to me how many entrepreneurs are still talking about their plans to the next round. What if there is no next round? Dont you still want to survive?

Yes, some companies are moon shots (DFJ has a fair number of those in our portfolio) where this is simply not possible. But for the vast majority of startups, this should be possible.

What is the point of calling them start ups anymore. Remove the high risk/high reward aspect and new companies are simply small businesses that receive small business loans from banks. A lot of the "wow" factor of the startup ecosystem was the mind boggling user growth/high valuation/massive losses phenomenon that a few companies weathered through to IPO and monetization.

I think I saw someone advocating for better terminology on HN recently. I vote to call any close-to-profitable <2 yr old company a small business. Likewise, any portfolio that holds mostly safe small business loans and equity should simply be called a bank.

Leave the unicorn/VC/startup lingo in the past, or use it to describe actual risk profiles, and things will be a lot less confusing.

7
Ftuuky 18 hours ago 5 replies      
What? One of the advice is to get cash flow positive with the money you already have. Isn't that basic knowledge? You can't spend more than you have and you only ask for other people's money when you don't need it. Idk, maybe this is an american thing, with all the capital you have but here (Portugal) you can't get series A funding without being at least cash flow positive, no way.
8
matchagaucho 15 hours ago 1 reply      
DFJ has had some great exits over the years. But looking at their current active portfolio, they're a little exposed.... and certainly not investing in any early rounds.

It's not surprising to hear they plan to slow down investing. But that's not necessarily a reflection of the overall market.

http://dfjgrowth.com/portfolio

9
arielm 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the startup world has become somewhat of a fork of how real companies should be built. Over the last few years companies have been investing into "scaling" and getting traction with no real revenue to substantiate any of the growth. That to me is backwards, and why those startups are fearing for their lives now.

Companies should be built with revenue (and profit) in mind, and in most cases those are the ones that thrive and succeed.

10
carsongross 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result: happiness.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result: misery."

--Wilkins Micawber

11
selvan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
During late nineties, my startup was providing technology consulting/development service to other dot-com startups. Demand for our consulting service was so high that our company resort to auction kind of process to select customers. Then dot-com bust happened, 97% of our customers had gone out of business, quickly, very quickly. Obviously, our company fortunes dwindled and never recovered from that.
12
mmaunder 17 hours ago 4 replies      
So the above is obviously written through a VC lens. Through an entrepreneur's lens - who also survived the dot-com bust (at etoys.com) and has since run several failed and now successful businesses - I'd add the following:

The most valuable advice in this post reminds me of Marc A's awesome blog entry. Quote:

"Companies that have a retention problem usually have a winning problem. Or rather, a "not winning" problem."

http://pmarchive.com/guide_to_big_companies_part2.html

In my opinion winning is, ultimately, measured by how much cash you can generate. We stopped thinking about an exit a long time ago while in the deepest darkest part of the valley of the shadow of startup death. We were forced to do it because we ran out of money and no one cared about us. Then we started focusing completely on our customers and our income statement. As soon as we did that, amazing things started happening.

Cash, in this case and in this climate, is king. Or net income to be specific. If you're able to generate large amounts of cash and keep a lot of it, not a heck of a lot else matters. From my perspective the only problems that really remain is giving your team a great quality of life and serving your customers.

Cash takes away issues like the board bugging you, investors breathing down your neck or (worst case) wanting to play CEO, hiring problems, retention problems, funding, what business are we in problems, product problems (you're obviously killing it, so do more of that!), exec hires, issues with rebellious execs (you're killing it, so you're implicitly right) etc.

When you "go for growth" (numbers growth, not revenue) you give up all of the above and put yourself as a CEO or exec in a precarious position. Your arguments are no longer that defendable because growth means jack shit unless it generates cash or will very clearly ultimately generate cash.

Think about the CEO of Giphy who just raised something like $50M at something like a $300M valuation. It's like my wife and co-founder says: Doing that you turn a cash problem into a much bigger cash problem. I'd add that you also now have less equity and less influence. For the investors it's awesome - the biz will likely bulk up on talent and worst case will exit as a talent acquisition at $2M per engineer and the investors (who get paid first) will recover perhaps everything that way with little left over.

If I was early stage in this environment I'd do the following:

Stop dreaming about a Deus ex Machina that will reach down and save your sorry ass. Stop fantasizing about acquisitions. If you don't you're going to inadvertently turn acquirers into your target market instead of your real customers. And humans aren't good at focusing on two goals at once.

Then do absolutely everything you can to generate sustainable cash. Usually this means (if you're early stage) discovering who your customers are and what business you're in or (if you're later stage) serving the heck out of your customers and making sure that what you provide is worth more than each dollar they spend to acquire it. Then do more of that. If you're successful doing this, rather than raising money, you'll notice that the really big scary problems simply go away.

13
jmspring 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The whole bit about "don't worry about morale"... Some engineers are replaceable, not all. If things get bad and you lose early/key people, there is a non-negligible hit. But, I think Ben and Mark at A2Z outlined a strategy harkening back to the last big hit -- build up the reserves in the bunker. If you think things will be bumpy for X-months out and you aren't cash flow positive, get the requisite amount in the bank ASAP.
14
lsiebert 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think people are ignoring the huge cash reserves that Google and Apple, among others, have. I fully expect more acquisitions if VC funding drops out.
15
aledalgrande 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is based on the "Techcrunch" concept that being successful and continuing business for a startup depends heavily on external funds.

That couldn't be farther from the truth, for a real startup with a real business. Maybe growth will not be as fast without VC funds, but I don't think real businesses will notice shrinking investments.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

16
jorgecurio 18 hours ago 3 replies      
> You know what kind of companies generally survive? Companies that make more money than they spend. I know, duh, right? If you make more than you spend, you get to stay alive for a long time. If you dont, you have to get money from someone else to keep going. And, as I just said, thats going to be way harder now. Im embarrassed writing this because it is so flipping simple, yet it is amazing to me how many entrepreneurs are still talking about their plans to the next round. What if there is no next round? Dont you still want to survive?

Sort of reminds me of the conversation with a senior developer I had the first time I joined a startup and my first company lunch at my first job.

Me: "So, we just spend whatever money the company makes"

him: "Correct"

Me: "what if the company is burning all the money it makes to grow as fast as possible, and they can't raise money anymore?"

him: "that will never happen"

Me: (concerned) "so the company is constantly breaking even"

him: "sometimes"

ME: (shocked) "so the company loses money some year, yet raises more money year after year so it can lose more money the following year than the last"

him: (annoyed) "you studied economics haven't you? you dont get it? everyone knows this is how you do startups what did they teach you in that shithole?"

(everyone else laughs)

end scene.

That was 4 years ago. I checked the glassdoor comments and boy I didn't think a 2.1 rating was possible on glassdoor because that would pretty much scare off anyone in the job market....and yup the company is going under exactly for the reasons I asked 4 years ago but was ridiculed at my 'ignorance'

another one bites the dust for vancouver's brain drained tech scene. thank god I won't have to work here again in the near future.

17
arihant 16 hours ago 0 replies      
>If you are in Silicon Valley and your customers are mostly well-paid consumers with no free time, or other venture-backed startups, well, Id be worried.

This is the most shallow statement I have read this year. The needs of the rich today would be needs of less rich tomorrow. The author clearly missed out on the whole American dream concept. I'm sure some people felt the same way about refrigerator and cars.

You'd almost never create a market segment starting with the bottom end. Almost every product you touch, including the very screen you're staring at, was once made for the 1%.

And almost always the version for the 1% is expensive, won't see a version 2, and is a one time sale. It doesn't matter if your initial rich/busy customers are going out of business. If you found a need you're fulfilling, you will with a fairly high probability will continue to find customers through the generation.

Dot com bust did not kill Network Solutions/Verisign. Very, very important.

18
melted 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A VC taking the valuations down and encouraging the companies to become profitable sooner, to get a fatter slice of a tastier pie when founders come begging for money. News at 11.
19
honksillet 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear VCs,You made a lot of bad investments. Prepare to take a loss.
20
ohadron 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Good read. Sounds like good advice in general, regardless of how hard it is to obtain capital.
21
codingdave 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Even shorter version of how to stay alive - model your business around some transaction that brings in more revenue than its costs to provide.
22
jedicoffee 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Found the problem! "It is going to be hard (or impossible) for many of todays startups to raise funds." You don't need to take on millions in debt to start a company.
23
outworlder 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> It is going to be hard (or impossible) for many of todays startups to raise funds.

So, just like it is in most of the world, then?

24
gizi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"The sky is falling ..." No, it isn't. All there is, is that there seems to be less appetite for endlessly unprofitable ventures that get away with dismissing the idea that they should be bringing in more cash than they spend within a reasonable time frame. Furthermore, is the entire VC scene actually needed? Lots of startups do not make use of their services and are doing absolutely fine ...
25
julianozen 15 hours ago 0 replies      
What a time to be alive
26
rpgmaker 18 hours ago 0 replies      
When a market like this turns, in order to survive, it is critical to redefine what success is going to look like for you and your employees, and your investors, and your other stakeholders. Holding on to old ideas about IPO dates, large exits and massive new up rounds can ultimately be demotivating to your team.

.

.

Stop worrying about morale: Yes, you heard me right. I cant tell you how many board meetings Ive been in where the CEO is anguished over the impacts on morale that cost cutting or layoffs will bring about.

With these prospects, I wonder how will these CEOs keep all those underpaid and highly skilled young laborers working for him/her now?

26
Hard Drive Reliability Review for 2015 backblaze.com
384 points by chmars  21 hours ago   99 comments top 22
1
crispyambulance 18 hours ago 3 replies      
This is interesting...

"A relevant observation from our Operations team on the Seagate drives is that they generally signal their impending failure via their SMART stats. Since we monitor several SMART stats, we are often warned of trouble before a pending failure and can take appropriate action. Drive failures from the other manufacturers appear to be less predictable via SMART stats."

~10 years ago, I remember google research put out a highly cited paper wherein they found that SMART stats were not a particularly strong indicator of impending drive failure (50% of drives had no SMART indications of problem before failure). http://research.google.com/pubs/pub32774.html

Has this now changed (at least for Seagate)?

Reliability/longevity is nice but a signal of impending failure is far more valuable from an operations point of view.

2
gradstudent 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't really understand their methodology for computing failure rate. The page says they calculate the rate on a per annum basis as:

([#drives][# failures]) / [operating time across all drives]

Wat? The numerator and denominator seem unrelated. What is being measured here?

To me, it would make more sense to look at time to failure. Together with data on the age of the drive and the proportion of failures each year one could create an empirical distribution to characterise the likelihood of failure in each year of service. That would give a concrete basis from which to compare failure rates across different models.

3
roddux 21 hours ago 3 replies      
HGST (or Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) are again topping the charts for drive reliability! They must be doing something right.

Also, the fact that backblaze are publishing most of their data online is very cool.

4
Quequau 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Just in time for me.

I've got 5 Western Digital drives which have failed out of original purchase of 6. Now I'm wondering if it's really worth it trying to go through the RMA process (I need to figure out exactly how old they are and how long the warranty is) or if I should just give up on Western Digital and go with a different manufacturer... though I am not looking forward to spending that amount of money all at once.

5
akulbe 14 hours ago 6 replies      
Color me skeptical. I bought into this, at first. After reading some other stuff, not so much.

Like this, for example: http://www.tweaktown.com/articles/6028/dispelling-backblaze-...

6
tshannon 18 hours ago 3 replies      
"...give or take a Petabyte or two"

As one does.

7
Ezhik 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Are Backblaze the company that bought all the hard drives in the Bay Area during the 2011 crisis?
8
sandworm101 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Is it possible for this data to ever be useful? Given the time necessary to acquire the data, and the rate at which improvements are made to drives, cannot we make the assumption that drives purchased today probably won't operate in exactly the same manner as drives purchased a year ago?

I don't mean to insult, just to ponder the relevance of such long-term studies on tech that changes so quickly.

9
slowhands 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Good data, but I wish they would have rendered these tables using HTML. Not fun typing these out myself to search.
10
eps 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It'd be interesting and quite helpful to see the failure rate vs. drive age, per manufacturer.

For example, for less reliable manufacturers there might be a "if you get past first N weeks, you are fine" pattern, or a failure cliff exaclty 1 week past the warranty period, or something equally entertaining.

11
jamesblonde 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Great stuff. Does anybody have any stats for drives' Bit Error Rates (BER) / maximum unrecoverable read errors (URE) / non-recoverable read error rates ? By my understanding, manufacturer quoted BERs for commodity drives, often 10^14, tend to be 10^15 or higher in practice.
12
cableshaft 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I've head a lot of bad luck with Western Digital hard drives lately. Nice to see some data back that up. I didn't know HGST existed, though.
13
contingencies 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I have 2 x ST40000DM and 1x ST40000VX in my desktop, plus one 4TB Seagate 'surveillance' drive as a USB luggable, though OSX to which it is currently connected doesn't want to give me the specifics (neither right-click Info, nor DiskUtil).
14
pkaye 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish there were similar statistics publicly available for SSDs. From these failure rates, hard drives don't look as reliable as one would imagine.
15
gist 19 hours ago 2 replies      
What would be really helpful is if they could simply put some amazon links on this report to the drives with the best reliability according to their tests.
16
dghughes 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Total 213,355 Terabytes or 213 Petabytes, that's quite a bit.
17
zanny 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This information is super useful. I have an ST3000DM001 and only trust it because its smart stats are still all in the green (and of course I have local and cloud backups of anything important).

I've had it for four years now and there are no warnings of any kind yet, so I guess I got one from a good batch.

18
mozumder 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be more interesting to find out reliability figures for high-throughput data-center models of hard drives instead of backup drive models, with low access rates.
19
SixSigma 19 hours ago 2 replies      
A useful additional metric is the age of the drive at failure.

This would determine if the failure rate was constant for the life of the drive (meaning random failure) or is it age related (infant mortality or old age).

25 drives that fail after 1 week plus 25 that fail after 50 weeks is different to 50 drives that fail one per week.

20
pbreit 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Sort of off-topic and apologies for the commercial nature, but can you really get a 2 TB thumb drive for $17? Do they work?

https://www.wish.com/search/2%20tb%20thumb#cid=5683434cce922...

21
64bitbrain 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there similar results or survey for SSDs?
22
ck2 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Always look forward to this report, thanks for sharing the data.

Amazing the 4TB hitachi with twice the platters of the 2TB fail less.

(and I will never buy seagate again for home pc or servers, even before this report I could have told you they are unreliable)

27
[video] Why you shouldnt trust successful peoples advice youtube.com
33 points by FabianBeiner  3 hours ago   12 comments top 5
1
kqr 2 hours ago 4 replies      
I've always found the story about the British bomber airplanes during world war two to be a powerful illustration of this. When the bomber airplanes returned from Germany, some were quite badly shot up. They were riled with bullet holes in the tail and wings. In the interest of ensuring more successful bombing runs, the air force naturally wanted to put more armour on these parts that were always so badly shot up.

...but that's not going to do any good. Airplanes that are shot in the tail quite obviously are able to complete their mission and return home, since you're able to observe them.

The airplanes that had bullet holes all over their cockpit never returned. This is where the extra armour is needed.

2
Udo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw a documentary about the company behind Minecraft, and when they interviewed the owner about what kind of advice he would give to a game developer starting out, he replied: "don't listen to advice". I became an instant fan.

When I was running my startup about 15 years ago, I totally subscribed to the "never give up" mantras, and other myths about success. I read everything there was to know about the titans of the software industry, and how many of them managed to become successful after stretches of adversity.

This caused me to become very unreasonable and eventually drove the company into bankruptcy. I ended up with a lot of debt that I never really recovered from. Had I instead tried to connect to people who had failed before, I might have learned things that are actually valuable, such as what the warning signs of impending doom are, how to judge your prospects realistically, and when not to put your personal fortune on the line.

Instead, in a delusional rush to compare myself with highly successful people, I ignored how even in adversity they had a lot of things going for them that I and my company simply never had in the first place.

3
Lanari 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't trust unsuccessful people too, they always assume that what they did was wrong and the opposite is right.

I know a lot of successful people who did the opposite of what others did, and both of them succeed.

5
Htsthbjig 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I know lots of successful people.

IMHO You should not trust successful people advice more than unsuccessful people in general, but TRUST WHAT THEY DO.

I remember when I was young(16 or so) and wanted to learn from the best men with the girls. There were men that were really great at dating the most gorgeous women.

I approached them and asked. What they told me was generic and non sense. But I started going out with them and doing what they did and man, what a change!. I got to be as good as them or better(I am naturally athletic and tall but before I met them I was average with women, I discovered for example that being smart and intelligent(geek) could be the most attractive thing ever for a women, but the smartest people use to be unattractive to women because they don't know how ).

I discovered that most people good with women were "naturals", they did not learn it, but for some other reasons they had acquired the abilities that made them great.

They can't teach anything because they are not really conscious of what makes them different. For them, it is completely natural, the way it should be.

The same happens in business. These people has a completely different mindset from the rest of the world but for them the world is that way. They are not conscious and can't teach you.

The way to learn is to live with them, not to do what they say, but do what they do.

28
After Zenefits, Will VCs Rein in Their Unicorns? bloomberg.com
97 points by jackgavigan  12 hours ago   109 comments top 20
1
skewart 10 hours ago 7 replies      
A number of commenters here have compared Zenefits' questionable compliance with Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb. What Zenefits was doing is fundamentally different, and much more problematic.

Lyft and Uber skirt similar kinds of seemingly useless regulation but they're completely up front about it. They don't pretend that their drivers are licensed or get any benefit from having licensed drivers in any way. They're simply offering a different product than what taxis offer - getting a ride with a random unlicensed stranger.

Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb are betting that reputation systems (ratings, reviews, etc.) will provide assurance for consumers just as well if not better than government regulation. So far the market is showing they just might be right.

Zenefits seems to have been driven by a similar cultural distaste for onerous and probably out-dated regulation - who can blame them? But instead of letting the market decide how valuable that regulation actually is they simply cut corners when they hoped no one would find out.

That deceptiveness, more so than the regulation dodging itself, is ultimately really bad for a B2B business.

2
tyre 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm skeptical of the source of this article. My guess is Zenefits spoke off the record to do damage control in Sacks' favor. I have no proof but will lay out why below.

> In a Feb. 1 meeting at its blandly luxurious Sand Hill Road offices, venture firm Andreessen Horowitz urged the chief executive officer of one of its most prized and promising companies to resign.

1) The first sentence references a meeting that very few people would know the details of. Likely only those at a16z plus a few executives around Parker/Sacks. Unlikely Parker is talking to the press, given the legal issues swirling.

> Days after Chief Operating Officer David Sacks gave that information to Lars Dalgaard, an Andreessen partner who sits on Zenefits board, Conrad was out, say three people familiar with the matter. At Conrads suggestion, they replaced him with Sacks

2) Sacks gave the information to a partner, then Conrad (basically blamed for fraud) suggested they replace him with Sacks. Which raises some questions:

 a) Why trust Conrad? He's fired + off the board + likely under legal investigation. b) As COO, no question as to whether Sacks knew anything or that they needed fresh blood? Also, he was suggested by the person who was just removed for fraud.
Lastly, we get a picture that sounds a lot less like Conrad giving a voluntary recommendation:

> At the meeting, Conrad tentatively agreed to resign, relinquish his board seat, and make Sacks CEO, say three people close to the company.

3
mrshoe 11 hours ago 5 replies      
This story starts out reporting on a board ousting a CEO after a public scandal involving non-compliance with various laws, which incited multiple government investigations.

It then takes an abrupt turn and starts repeating everyone's favorite Silicon Valley trope du jour: the unicorn bubble is bursting, the fundraising environment is tightening up, and the halcyon days of multi-billion dollar valuations for everyone are over.

There's really no connection between the two.

4
JonFish85 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Considering Airbnb and Uber, two of the largest and considered most-successful startups are carefully dodging the law, the upside is worth the risk. I disagree with it, but I think VCs don't care much about following legal frameworks until it's too late.
5
manishsharan 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Can someone tell me why is it such a big deal when person sells an insurance without having a proper license? Its not as if the insurance policy itself is fraudulent. The buyer is buying the insurance policy and not the credentials of the broker.

Other wise it seems to me that is requirement is just as unnecessary as requiring cosmetology license for hair braiding ( see http://www.texastribune.org/2015/04/06/bill-would-untangle-m...)

6
pbreit 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure there's a whole lot from this story to apply elsewhere. David Sacks is who you want to be running the show. He has 2 fairly epic successes under his belt (PayPal and Yammer), one of the keenest product minds in the business, nearly unlimited access to funding and talent, moral authority as a founder and lawyer and operator to clean up the mess, etc.
7
tommynicholas 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is such nonsense. Zenefits allegedly broke the law under Conrad's leadership and he was ousted. This is not a sign of any macro changes - companies that break compliance regulations that could send their employees to jail have never been in fashion.

Read Ben Thompson's piece about how this differs from more "gray area" compliance breaches:

https://stratechery.com/2016/zenefits-and-regulation/

8
minimaxir 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Note that this article has new information compared to the previous articles about the Zenefits incident. (namely, a16z's involvement as the catalyst for the ouster
9
smaili 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It really is a pity we live in a world where a few can ruin the party for all. I'm sure there are worthy startups out there with a solid product, solid team, and solid practices but they may suddenly die out from VC capital because of the fear/panic triggered by the couple of bad ones.
10
tempodox 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> ...valuations often became detached from the underlying fundamentals...

The most valuable asset of a startup seems to be hot air.

11
throwaway479384 8 hours ago 2 replies      
My company used Zenefits for a while, mainly because one of our execs is friends with one of theirs. We had many, many problems with payroll. When you have employees repeatedly coming to you because their paychecks are screwed up, you've got to do something. We ended up switching away, and now use ADP for payroll instead. We've had no problems since. (This was before the big public slap fight between Zenefits and ADP, which was made even more amusing given our experience.)

I would not recommend anyone use Zenefits for any reason, regardless of whether it turns out they complied with legally-mandated training requirements or not. The fact that they were so incredibly sloppy is just inexcusable. You cannot mess around with people's pay like that.

(Posted with a throwaway account for hopefully obvious reasons.)

12
dufalop 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I rather agree this article seemed to connect two related but definitely not connected things.

That being said, it is interesting how many visible unicorns are either flaunting the law or outright frauds (i.e. zenefits, uber, airbnb, theranos).

Happily or sadly (per your point of view) - it's seems still worth it. The Zenefits ex-CEO lost his job but he never ever needs to work again (and can afford the best of the best lawyers if needed)

13
jonesb6 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think they included a safety switch on those things.
14
hoodoof 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"Will VCs Rein in Their Unicorns? "

The language indicates that the VC's are the controlling owners of these companies.

15
tempodox 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Question: Is there any fixed definition of the term unicorn?
16
rokhayakebe 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't buy this.

I have no issues with Zenefits and I am actually happy they were able to see phenomenal growth. However I must say this whole situation of the CEO stepping down feels staged to me.

It is as if everyone was in on it and this move was calculated by all of them a long time ago. Like when we ready and my stocks are safe and sound blame it on me.

17
draw_down 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Unless consequences affect the investors or members of the board, and not just the CEO, what is the incentive to change behavior?
18
luckydata 10 hours ago 0 replies      
of course not.
19
jsprogrammer 12 hours ago 5 replies      
$4.5 billion valuation on $60 million annual revenue from non-compliant activity?

Anyone know the investment thesis on that?

20
rajacombinator 11 hours ago 2 replies      
A lot of the HN-cynic crowd is forgetting here that if anything, they were bypassing stupid sets of regulations. There is nothing ethically or morally wrong here.
29
Missing Malaysia Jet MH370 Weeks Away from Keeping Secrets Forever bloomberg.com
233 points by acdanger  21 hours ago   153 comments top 22
1
rwhitman 18 hours ago 8 replies      
The MH370 tracking problem is unfortunate but what I'm most fascinated by in all of this is the continuing reminder of how powerless we are as a civilization when it comes to the oceans.

A plane crashes in an area with no landmass and we lose it. We've overfished many species to near-extinction because we completely failed to understand exactly how many fish there actually are. The sea acts as a natural eraser for human habitation, sometimes wiping out all evidence of entire communities within hours. We lose all kinds of cargo into the ocean and haven't the faintest clue where it goes. We're only beginning to figure out how to convert seawater into potable form effectively. The majority of our planet is covered in something we can't even figure out how to build habitats on top of without piling up dirt underneath.

The belief that we have any mastery over this planet seems to humbly disintegrate when looking at our relationship to our oceans

2
gaur 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Another case of a rambling article burying the lede.

I skimmed the article and still can't figure out why we're weeks away from a point of no return. Is the search going to be called off? Is there a transponder that's going to give out? Why can't the journalist just put the important information up front, instead of a bunch of irrelevant crap about someone's sleep deprivation?

3
alien3d 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm live in Malaysia . There's a lot of weird information in few years. Some even not logical.The airline strike hard twice in a year and now changing hand to new company. Anybody here can downvote me here but we need agent Mulder And Scully to solve this issue. Eistien and new agent can help also :)
4
willvarfar 20 hours ago 2 replies      
"The company already offers a similar service for ships and boats, which use Inmarsats network free of charge for distress signalling."

Interestingly, back when I was an intern, BT used to charge an exorbitant rate for those distress calls. I once wrote-up the whole internship thing http://williamedwardscoder.tumblr.com/post/17282439831/an-ei...

"I was pretty uncomfortable when I found that mayday calls were being charged at the highest rate - 8 per minute if I recall correctly - even though Inmarsat itself explicitly carried those calls for free. I remember the manager I asked about that, when I found those calls in real logs, not meeting my eyes as he talked distantly about why that was."

5
SeoxyS 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I find it hard to understand how we can be justified spending so much money and effort trying to find the wreck. What is there to gain? The only benefits I see are:

- Giving family members (maybe a few thousand people) closure.

- Understanding what happened, and potentially making a few improvements to plane safety as a result.

Given the very slim chance of them even finding the plane and learning anything useful out of it I don't see how the search justifies a 9-figure price tag. (I don't mean to be insensitive)

6
kazinator 19 hours ago 0 replies      
> Theres always this question: Have we missed something?

The question persists simply because its answer continues to be "yes". The plane is somewhere, and you didn't look there.

7
mariuolo 18 hours ago 2 replies      
"Forever" is a long time.

It could be found in a few years or in a few decades. Although reading the flight recorders by then could be problematic.

It's not the first time anyway, a British plane disappeared on the Andes in 1947 (after sending a cryptic Morse message BTW) and was found 50 years later, so I wouldn't despair.

8
tcannon 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Last year I sailed my 30' boat from Oakland to Hawaii. I went three weeks with no sign of life aside from Albatross and flying fish. None. I couldn't even get my sat phone to work 90% of the time. I covered, roughly, the distance from Oakland to about Massachusetts. My boat was much smaller, and had very little as far as safety equipment on a passenger jet. While both might be exceptionally hard to spot -- even a 1000' vehicle with 1000' span would be hard to find on solid ground somewhere between CA and MA, add deep water, and that piece of wing was not attached to the plane when it hit the water. I know this as it still was shaped like a wing. I'm also a pilot and can only guess as well as other pilots, but when you over-stress the airframe from a loss of control, you can fold a wing. No life jackets floating as they're still in the plane which likely hit well before that chunk of wing fluttered down into the water. I doubt we'll ever really know. Seems unlikely to have been a bomb, as shit would be washing up.
9
Twirrim 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"forever". What hyperbolic drivel. Ultimately we will find the plane, be it by deliberate searching action, or accidental discovery as we further map the oceans or whatever else draws us below the waves.
10
intrasight 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Rest assured that this mystery will be solved. Petabytes of data? Please give it to Google so they can add it to Google Maps. The fact that we can't successfully crowd-source this search is indicative of our having very incomplete maps of the ocean floor.

Eventually (could be a hundred years but I expect less) there will be a swarm of autonomous submersible robots doing detailed scans. They will find all kinds of interesting things - including MH370.

11
linuxkerneldev 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I would hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but Malaysia's politics are quite a spectacular bowl of spaghetti. You have Saudi "donations" of billions, a Prime Minister who stands accused of using the country's Speciall Forces team for blowing up a Mongolian woman involved with a billion dollar French defense company purchase of Scorpene submarines. The accused murderer now resides in Australia. You literally have the financier of the Wolf of Wall Street movie, parties with Paris Hilton, squandering of billions of Malaysia's taxpayer funds. You have bankers being murdered in broad daylight. You have attorney generals being fired and prosecutors being found dead inside barrels of cement. You have Deputy Prime Ministers being kicked out. You have ex-Prime Ministers raising a 5 alarm fire demanding that the Prime Minister be arrested. You have apartheid policies being increased in the country. You have sudden import of millions of foreign workers, who have been accused of being used as false vote banks. So.... when they write "keeping secrets forever", that almost seems like what was intended for this flight.

[1] http://www.sarawakreport.org/2016/01/court-case-opens-agains...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Shaariibuugiin_Altan...

[3] http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/28/malaysias-na...

[4] http://www.sarawakreport.org/2015/11/kevin-morais-drew-up-th...

[5] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/kevin-mo...

[6] http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/true-stories/mala...

[7] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/malaysia-...

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/27...

[9] http://www.asiasentinel.com/politics/banker-murder-connectio...

[10] http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/zahid-de...

[11] http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/Lindsay-Lohan-Paris-Hilton-a...

[12] http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2015/12/29/fbi-probes-wolf-of...

12
exabrial 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Did they ever look into that crazy conspiracy theory where it went north instead of South and landed in Russia?
13
racecar789 9 hours ago 0 replies      
How will Bloomberg manage the content of these animation/graphic heavy articles?

Talking say 10 years from now.

These articles go way beyond standard text/image content.

14
rm-rfU 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It will be found eventually, perhaps by a film crew in 50 years.
15
solidsnack9000 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Later generations will discover our airplanes, lost at sea.
16
DarkContinent 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it possible to track passengers' smartphone data to get a better grip on where the plane would have entered the ocean?
17
melling 20 hours ago 3 replies      
"In a world where a $100 smartphone can be tracked for free, the $250 million jet vanished."

It sounds like Inmarsat is now making basic ping location available for free:

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/182223-inmarsat-now-givin...

18
freddref 20 hours ago 0 replies      
weeks away from forever?
19
jorgecurio 18 hours ago 0 replies      
hard to believe they have all this satellite pointing back at us and they can track anyone anywhere seemingly but they can't find a giant several hundred ton airplane? Either that or we underestimate just how large the body of oceans are.

And likely more scary is the fact that once a nuclear submarine submerges, nobody knows where it is. We can't even find this plane. A moving submarine beneath the vast body of ocean even more so.

I wonder if it's possible to develop xray vision that sees through the earth's ocean.

20
jordache 19 hours ago 1 reply      
That H3 font style looks soo bad. Just horrible, horrible topolsky
21
acqq 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The simple answer to the "mystery" is a scenario about a "lone wolf" with the determination and the capability to direct the plane to the middle of the ocean and die with the plane.

We saw a confirmed example of such a guy almost exactly one year later (8 March 2014, 24 March 2015):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanwings_Flight_9525

The rest are just the details.

22
tlrobinson 20 hours ago 3 replies      
> I'm sure Find My iPhone probably has a limited range or something

Either I missed the sarcasm or this is the understatement of the century. There's no cell service in the middle of the Indian Ocean, several thousand miles from Australia. Not to mention the fact that radio waves travel extremely poorly through water.

30
Morocco to switch on first phase of world's largest solar plant theguardian.com
165 points by jaoued  18 hours ago   68 comments top 9
1
dharma1 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
a bit OT, but I have about 70m2 south facing roof space (UK) where I'd like to install solar panels at some point. How are panel prices likely to develop over the next 5 years? Should I wait, will panels become ridiculously cheap in the near future?
2
strommen 17 hours ago 7 replies      
$9B for a 580MW plant is _expensive_. For reference, most photovoltaic plants cost less than $3/W. Of course, PV stops working as soon as the sun goes down.

I'm curious how much additional capacity this thing gets by using solar heat instead.

3
waiseristy 17 hours ago 4 replies      
This whole project just seems so insane to me. A medium sized damn in my area was built for a bit less than $10 million back in the 50's and has a capacity hitting around 1,000 Mw.

Obviously dams are highly location dependent, and are somewhat on the shadier side of environmental impact. But 900 times the cost for half the power output is just crazy. Is there really no better way to get power into the country? Or is this just some publicity / money burning stunt?

4
dools 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a great project, the only thing that concerns me about it is the very large loan from the IMF denominated in USD they took out in order to build it. Could well have been the work of EHMs

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/...

5
0xffff2 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised to see that this project uses wet cooling. Wikipedia claims it uses at least twice as much water as a coal power plant of similar capacity.

Is water surprisingly abundant in this part of the Sahara?

6
diffraction 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If they only switch in one phase won't that cause imbalances on their power grid? Hyuk.
7
xyzzy4 16 hours ago 3 replies      
The market cap of all the solar stocks in the industry ($14 billion or so) is about the same as the market cap of Twitter. Pretty baffling to me.

If you're a billionaire and want to be a trillionaire, all you'd have to do is buy every solar company and wait a few decades I bet.

8
woodandsteel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It occurs to me that the Middle East is very well endowed with both petroleum and sunshine, but the latter is far more evenly distributed.
9
sandworm101 15 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a rule for calling yourself the "tallest building" that is relevant here. You aren't the tallest building until you have topped out. Before that, you are just a construction site. This is important because it means you cannot be "tallest" while still under construction. The title belongs to the tallest current building until such time as you stop building.

This "worlds biggest" solar plant therefore isn't. It isn't yet biggest. It may never be biggest. It may be passed over by some other plant started tomorrow. Or it could stop expanding before ever reaching its designed size.

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