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Its cheaper to build multiple native applications than one responsive web app hueniverse.com
364 points by cdnsteve  2 hours ago   197 comments top 63
donatj 1 hour ago 6 replies      
I don't think that's remotely true if you keep the responsive web app simple. YNGNI and KISS and what not.

I've been doing this for over ten years. In that time I've seen large web applications built for under 4k; I've also seen massively overbuilt simple applications go for 50k+. It comes down to often how needlessly complex you make the stack.

If you stick with solid simple guaranteed tech instead of cutting edge you can knock a web app out relatively cheap and easy.

When it comes right down to it, 95% of web apps have two jobs. Present text to the user, take text from the user. Everything else is a nice to have. HTTP has been doing those two jobs amazingly well for decades. It's a solved problem, don't make it harder than it needs to be.

Lastly: Don't fight the browser. Design for the browser. Responsive is easy if you design for things to flow as the browser would have it. It's one of the biggest mistake I see so often. If a design requires you to fight the native behaviours of the browser, it's likely a bad design. Fight back against that junk, it just makes future work that much harder.

tl;dr Develop for the web of a couple years ago and not the web of today. It'll save you time and headaches.

bradscarleton 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
Responsive web apps are difficult to build, however settling for native Android and iOS is not sufficient for comparison since he's leaving out the desktop (so he should probably include Windows and OSX for some level of parity for what a responsive web app can do).

The real underlying problem is the state of the mobile web browser, which neither Apple nor Google have much incentive to improve due to their revenue generating app stores. That's not to say that there wouldn't still be some major differences between native apps and mobile web (especially in the discovery / delivery department), but if you had better feature parity between these platforms I think rants like this guys would be fewer and farther between.

tl;dr: He picked the wrong technology platform for his product, therefore since it didn't work for his use case, it must be fundamentally broken.

dang 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Although a rant, this is also pretty substantive. We've replaced the baity title with a representative sentence from the article in the hope that commenters will follow suit.
hanginghyena 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like you're deferring one dragon for another.

Deliver the project got easier; "Control the customer" got significantly harder. You've now got someone's app store in the middle of your customer relationships and are exposed to approval drama, various forms of revenue squeeze, and other meddling from the platform owner. What happens if the folks running the platform decide to launch their own offering?

Speaking as another small developer, our solution to the cross-browser feature support is simple: anything that doesn't run on most modern browsers doesn't make the final design. If the customer doesn't bite on basic design, we don't expect a miraculous shift with the latest widgets.

jordanlev 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't like how the author mocks other people who make decisions based on money over ideals:

> That group, btw, has mostly sold out taking high paying jobs at Facebook and Google, and have not heard from since

...but then later justifies his argument to forsake his ideals because "hey I've got a business to run":

> I dont need you to troll me on Twitter and tell me how Im betraying the web and the free fucking world. I am just trying to keep my startup going.

untog 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Even if this is true, I doubt it's a wise idea, given that the average US consumer downloads zero apps per month:


Unless you're in a very fortunate niche, you can't afford to not do the web. You can afford to not do apps.

0xsnowcrash 22 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think this is a bit of "grass is greener" syndrome.

I developed web apps for 14 years before building ios apps for 5 years.

The last couple of years I've worked on both native apps and responsive web sites.

Both can be pains in the ae. But the pain points are different.

Both are moving rapidly. eg Ios: having to rejig xibs to storyboards was annoying.

Css: Supporting older versions of IE has been a pain.

I could go on at length but plenty of people have already done so.

54mf 2 hours ago 13 replies      
"You want mobile notifications? Sure, but not on mobile Safari."

You can do this with PhoneGap.

"Multiple line ellipsis? Sure, but only on webkit."

Okay, yeah, this sucks.

"Consistent rendering size across browsers? Just fuck off."

This is probably your fault.

"We fix a layout bug on Safari and break something on Edge."

This is probably your fault.

"We change font size on Chrome and now all you can see on Firefox is the letter F."

This is probably your fault.

"How about hiding the address bar or controlling swipes from the left edge of the screen? Dont be stupid."

Stop trying to make the browser not a browser. Users hate when you hijack expected behavior. (See: Imgur.)

"Oh, and dont get me started on all these new custom mobile keyboards you can use and how autocomplete can fuck with your input box events."

You can disable autocomplete. Did you mean predictive word suggestions?

TL;DR: "We tried to make a responsive web app act like a native app and it didn't work because it doesn't work, and that makes me a grumpy goose."

jtmarmon 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
It might be true that it's a pain in the ass to write a responsive web app, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. Users are unlikely to download a mobile app just because you say so.

Of course YMMV. If you have control over what the user does like some kind of internal enterprise app then go for it.

tmaly 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I can totally relate to some of this.

If you take a look at Meeker's 2016 Internet trends report that came out last week, you will see that 3 apps dominate 80% of the usage on phones. I decided when I started my food side project a year back, that I was not going to do a native app.

I have been trying to make the front end look better, but I did not want to use very heavy frameworks, so I settled on using the SASS mixin library Bourbon.io along with the grid and a few others the company provides.

The css that is produces is very tight, and I can save on developer costs. I should say, save on finding another front end developer as the one I was using took some money and ran.

joeyspn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Comparing "responsive web apps" with native mobile apps? Really? What about cordova/phonegap/ionic?

Don't blame the web because you made a poor decision picking your tech stack (or hiring your devs). Nowadays a single webdev can ship OSX, Android and Windows apps with frameworks like Ionic... in weeks.

Starters (there are hundreds) help a lot: https://market.ionic.io/starters

Joeri 15 minutes ago 1 reply      
The web's view layer, html and css, has the wrong granularity for building precise ui. Html's controls are too high level for pixel perfect manipulation, and too low level for easy assembly into rich ui. CSS meanwhile tries to get you to make general rules that interact to produce a precise rendering, which you never quite achieve because there are always unintended side effects of the rules. No native view api works like this, and for good reason. Since these technologies are almost entirely but not quite unsuitable for building a native-like view layer, people build abstractions around them to approximate the view layer api any native ui gives you. But then the problem becomes one of synchronizing the facade view to the real view, hence ten thousand templating and layout frameworks, all while continually dealing with the leaky nature of the abstraction.

I guess what i'm saying is that i believe in the principles of the web, but i think html and css are terrible technologies that do a disservice to those principles.

brlewis 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"One app for iOS, one for Android, and I got over 90% consumer coverage"

What's the consumer coverage for Mobile Chrome + Mobile Safari? Giving up on total cross-browser compatibility doesn't have to mean writing native apps.

mmanfrin 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
But which is easier to maintain?
ksenzee 2 hours ago 2 replies      
When you multiply that 90% consumer coverage by the percentage of people who will install your app when you ask them to, it's going to knock down your 90% pretty considerably.
wesleyfsmith 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Ehhhh, I really haven't had these issues with any of the meteor apps I've made. Even getting swiping and full page animation transitions has been relatively simple. My experience is anecdotal, but I actually left being android developer to do mobile web and I've found the experience to be far easier.
enturn 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I completely agree with the article. I joined a startup a few years ago and we went mostly native on Android and iOS with some simple screens as web views shared between them. Later on some clients wanted desktop and Windows Phone versions so we built a lesser featured version as a website to cater for any other devices (adding features as necessary). We started out as 3 software developers and a designer and are expanding. Native apps was a more cost effective way to deliver a good experience while the competition mostly developed web apps resulting in a lesser experience in my opinion.
ams6110 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're a two person startup quit building on quicksand. Use stuff that works. Once you have some users you can start venturing towards the bleeding edge of what's possible.
seanwilson 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Meh, supporting a couple of iOS versions and a couple of Android versions for a native app along with device specific quirks is as much of a pain as supporting Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE. Also, maintaining two code bases for native Android and iOS apps is a massive investment compared to a single web app code base.
joehewitt 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I used publicly whine quite a lot in favor of open web standards. When the specs were simpler, this made more sense, but as they grew more and more complex I felt overwhelmed with the chore of developing cross-browser apps. The investment of time required just didn't make sense anymore, and I felt like the only way to serve the web was to develop simple content-focused pages, and leave any complex functionality to native apps.
sawthat 2 hours ago 1 reply      
(note: I've met Eran a few times, he is very smart and I respect his opinion)

Note aside: this is one of those "it really depends" kind of situations. For many cases native apps are always going to be cheaper to build. For others the web is just much better. It seems like the problem Eran is describing is more of a labor shortage. It's really, really difficult to hire good web developers. I have no idea why this is.

z3t4 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> Yes, you can build 2007 websites much better now. They will be consistent across platforms and perform great.

There you have it. Using bleeding edge features will create a lot of problems. First you need to figure out what type of users you want to target, PC users with 24 inch monitors and keyboard? Or 12 year olds with iPads? But still, for your software to really work across as many units as possible, and continue to work for years, you have to look what existed 5-10 years ago, and only use those features that are still standard.

I have a mobile phone that no longer gets updates. It is HTML 5 compatible, so it should handle everything that is not bleeding edge, but still many web pages, for example medium.com does not work!

I remember being a web developer ten years ago, it was your professional duty do make sure it was pixel perfect on existing GUI based browsers and even look good on the text based ones. I think web dev's today is too quick to jump on the latest and greatest.

If you take a look at the browser features that existed 5-10 years ago, it's way behind the native phone app experience! It seems browser vendors totally missed the mobile explosion, and only lately have begun to catch up! Considering how fast the web tech moves now though, the future for web dev looks bright. I think that in in 5-10 years, the mobile browser experience will be on pair or even ahead of native, at least considering dev experience and cross device/platform support.

csours 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
You should still STRONGLY PREFER Web Apps. The cost and headaches of a web app will be MUCH LOWER than native or even hybrid app development.

BUT, if you need a Native App, make a Native App and don't try to fake it on Web.

mikeryan 2 hours ago 2 replies      
One app for iOS, one for Android, and I got over 90% consumer coverage

However with a huge friction point of requiring users to download and install an app.

pfooti 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Mobile Chrome + Mobile Safari would be a great way to cover enough bases to make a good responsive web app reach a huge audience. The core problem is that Mobile Safari is really quite frustrating in a lot of ways.

As a simple example, I had a bug with some of the dialogs and menu popups I was using not rendering in Mobile Safari. It turns out that if you have a div that is a child (in the DOM) of a div that has overflow: hidden, that child will not be rendered outside of the clipping box of the parent, even if the child div is position: absolute and at a higher z-index than the parent. This works differently in chrome.

There are plenty of workarounds available, but the basic strategy of creating a position: relative context and having a position: absolute floating menu / dialog that's rendered near the button that creates it won't work if your menu bar has overflow: hidden on it. But then you have to make sure you've got your menubar set up well so that it doesn't become super-tall in narrow screens, because you specified overflow: visible. Or you have to put your floating divs elsewhere in the DOM tree and specify their position as fixed and manually calculate where to put them using javascript.

It's things like this that frustrate me the most in working with safari - I'm constantly wrestling with a rendering stack that doesn't seem to do what I want (it was only in recent versions that I could stop setting flex-basis: 0.01px instead of flex-basis: auto (on safari) like I do everywhere else on divs that had only text children that I wanted to make expand but also become multiline text instead of pushing everything way out to the right. And don't get me started on safari's support for indexeddb, let alone the other neat features that chrome is supporting to make mobile just plain better.

I'm at the point now where I'd literally be willing to tell my users: "install chrome for iOS" if it were actually chrome, instead of supporting safari. But instead, I deal with the sort of resonance back-and-forthing when I fix a safari layout bug that introduces oddities in chrome's renders.

lsiebert 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
My current employer bought the app I work on from my previous employer. It embeds websites in webviews with JS-Objective-C/JS-Java bridges so they can make native calls. You get most if not all the benefits of native apps, native UI when you really want it, quicker iteration then the App Store, and can build in whatever stack you want. Of course I've had to follow an intermittent bug from the rails back end, to the angular front end, to the native java and up to the companies api servers before, so YMMV.
bryanlarsen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Sure, it may be cheaper to build an Android app and an iOS app than it is to build a responsive web app. I'll buy that.

But most customers want an Android app, an iOS app and a web site for desktop.

It's certainly cheaper to build that desktop webapp if you don't have to make it mobile-y, but is it cheaper to build an Android app, an iOS app and a desktop webapp than it is to build a responsive webapp?

jflatow 1 hour ago 1 reply      
'www' should stand for wild, wild, web. In many ways, the web is a technology frontier, with all the frustration and liberation that goes along with it.

I sympathize with the author. The problem is trying to tame the web, as opposed to embracing it for what it is.

r2dnb 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
One thing we tend to forget as developers is that in any industrial process, there needs to be technical limitations enforcing requirements before requirements enforce technical specifications. We tend to be too easy because everything seems achievable with software systems.

A project should start by considering political things such as: is it smart to have this particular application hosted in a marketplace. Right after that, the chief engineer should be consulted to know the technical approach (platform, stack, etc...) that should be used, and the technical limitations that the requirements should observe to allow the development effort to be successful and efficient.

The more self-imposed technical constraints are observed, the more successful and easy the development will be - and passed a certain point, the more difficult it becomes to sell the product or service.

Applying this reasoning to the article, to me the problem is the very thing they have decided to develop.

cjcenizal 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Pro-tip: You can make your article sound like it's been written by a grown-up if you find/replace all instances of the word "fucking" and "fuck" with "".
mark_l_watson 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
The author of the article ignores user experience: it is much nicer to use a web app than install yet another app. Personally I don't like installing web apps, even if they don't ask for a lot of permissions. Also re: notifications: I think most users don't like to be interupted by notifications.
llamataboot 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"native app developers seems to think $50K is the smaller amount you should bill for a native app these day"

Ummm, yeah, I would say $50k would cover a small native app using Parse or similar or an extremely light backend. Even a medium size native app is going to run $100-150k. That's the price of software development if it's happening in the US.

siegecraft 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
The core of his argument really boils down to: I have to do it this way because my audience is 12 year olds and this is what they want. A good lesson in knowing your customer I guess. But I don't think the conclusion is useful for most people.

Another thing that stood out to me: "a closed ecosystem will always deliver higher quality in any given moment." Which is so absolute it's ridiculously easily disproved, even while being true at certain points.

chadcmulligan 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
Have a look at Delphi if you want cross platform native apps https://www.embarcadero.com/products/delphi. It's very easy, $50K would take you a very long way.
ciokan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Agree with everything except with the numbers. Users won't install your app that much so it goes to a balance. It depends of course on the application itself but, since you're struggling so hard to go 'web', I presume it might be a mobile version of a website. I visit a lot of websites each day but do I install everything those websites suggest? No!
amasad 1 hour ago 0 replies      
>The web is the future. The web will always be the future. But thats the problem. I need to ship products now.

It's like tomorrow is always tomorrow -- it is never today. One thing that bothers me about the web dev community is the insistence that technology has a will of it's own. As if the web will just eventually win no matter what. I consider myself an advocate for the Web but it needs to be good or better than the alternatives.

So, joke aside, it doesn't follow from the rant that the web is the future. It follows that there is a lot of work that needs to happen before you can say it might be part of the future.

danjayh 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Key takeaway: "Open standards are always going to be inferior to closed ones." This is totally true, but as the author notes, open standards still have their place.

Also, I realize he's mad, but he really needs to expand his expletive vocabulary :)

volune 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Problem is no one wants to download your native app.
ChrisArgyle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you miss Ted Dziuba's writing at Unvoc you will thoroughly enjoy this article
dalacv 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like the last line
unicornporn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
VERY relevant article: https://govinsider.asia/smart-gov/why-britain-banned-mobile-...

Ben Terrett was former head of design at the UK Government Digital Service and he wholehearted disagrees.

hartator 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think it's interesting to know that native apps need to be responsive as well.
Glyptodon 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is there some rule that startup CEOs have to say "fuck" a lot?
tonyle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder if multiple native app is still cheaper than maintaining multiple different web builds.

Reminds me of this library I stumbled across.


People either respond with this is cool or your going against the web when I told them about it.

takno 1 hour ago 1 reply      
A lot of the issues here are with mobile Safari. I agree it completely sucks just due to how behind Safari are with ES6. On the upside the work is complete to fix this in dev releases, so there's a very good chance that we're 3 months or so away from a large step change. I'm not planning on releasing anything in the next 3 months, so that timetable is okay for me, YMMV
WalterSear 1 hour ago 1 reply      
No it's not. Get better designers - ones who understand responsive design, and developers who speak modern javascript.
nsxwolf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This person is angry. I can't imagine that if someone was ridiculing me on Twitter for destroying the free internet I'd care enough to start swearing up a storm.
padseeker 1 hour ago 4 replies      
I understand and empathize with the author's aggravation. But cheaper? Really?

So iOs and Android are more than 90% of the market. You are telling me that it is cheaper to build and maintain 2 separate apps and pass on the remaining part of the market than have one app that covers everything?

Android device support is supposed to be a nightmare - there are so many versions to contend with, each device manufacturer can customize things.

iOS is easier to support but fighting with Apple can be quite the ordeal.

Using the web means you bypass these other issues but have to contend with the ones cited in the article. It sounds like pick your poison.

I could conceive that after the initial cost of building 2 separate apps, for iOS and Android, that perhaps it is less aggravating and costly to maintain them, as opposed to dealing with the web. However how complicated is the UI for the web apps? Can't you keep it simple? Unless you can show numbers I cannot in my wildest dreams believe that building and maintain 1 web app is more than twice the cost of building and maintaining 2 separate native apps.

What are you building that requires building a 2016 Web app with every new feature? Maybe that is your problem.

jokoon 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'd say it again: break compatibility and make an open, preparsed/compiled/binary HTML format. You'll get several order of magnitude speed increase and reduced memory consumption in browsers (parsing text is expensive). Something a little similar to microsoft .CHM file format.

So instead of having a competition in browsers, you'll have competition is the HTML parsers that developers will use.

No more messy W3C messy standard which is VERY hard and ambiguous to parse for any browser.

I've repeated that rant so often, I might start making a simple example of what I'm talking about. We just MUST abandon the text only approach. It allowed the internet to thrive without microsoft's attempt to make money with it. But today browsers are so ubiquitous, all that there is to do is enable browsers to just render binary HTML, which would just be a tree of rectangles and styles, so really simple. I think.

jtwebman 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Has he looked at mixed tech like React? Get web tech with native controls!
njharman 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"Building" is very small part of software life cycle.

Is it also cheaper to bug fix, add features to, update apps when each native platform updates, hire developers who know details of each platform, etc.

evo_9 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Since the article doesn't touch on specific I'm wondering where React Native falls regarding all this. I'm considering using it for our pending iOS and Android apps, seems like a no-brainer at this point versus true native.
fallo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well, I'll take all of that instead of the fg cp the native gives me from all the bright minds at ge, ae and mt, anytime. The future is here.
sockopen 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
andrewclunn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
He forgot to mention how web frameworks come and go, and then you've got this legacy code nightmare. Also breaking upgrades and dependency hell. I'm a front end web developer, and yeah. If your building something simple, the web is the way to go, but his complaints are totally on spot.
gallonofmilk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
at first I rolled my eyes but by the end I was filled with sympathy and agreement! spot on!
jcoffland 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What this article needs is more F-bombs. Otherwise it's ranty but makes some good points.
meerita 2 hours ago 0 replies      
1 dev = all5 device dev = 5 apps

1 dev 100k1*5 500k in salaries

prozaic 1 hour ago 0 replies      
if web is future then future is now!
Kazamai 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess he hasn't heard of React Native...
mknocker 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What about developing a core codebase to build an app for different platforms (including the web)? There are framework out there that can help you do that. At least in C++ (this is the language I use the most).
josh_carterPDX 2 hours ago 1 reply      
And if only there were solutions that made it easier to prototype and get your backend running faster. It could make it even cheaper to make native apps. end: self serving response :)
Jessica Livingstons Pretty Complete List on How Not to Fail themacro.com
432 points by craigcannon  6 hours ago   134 comments top 32
djb_hackernews 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Yeesh. #2 hits close to home.

I think I've asked this question but I found myself a cofounder with 2 others that prioritized too highly IMO coffee meetings with "investors", no name board advisors, expensive conferences, and basically everything on that list. My approach was to gently voice my concern and but also let them do it in the hopes they'd see how useless it was. The other thing that didn't help was I was the "technical cofounder" and the attitude essentially was I didn't "get" business, and sometimes I wondered if they were right.

Interestingly both were woman, and I don't recall too much of #3. They definitely participated in women in tech type groups but I thought it was no different than any other useless networking others that aren't focused would do.

This will be definitely something I probe for in the future. Anyone looking for a cofounder? (I'm serious, and I have a cool little project we could do to see if we can build something people want together)

danso 4 hours ago 2 replies      
> 1. Make something people want.

I haven't had a ton of experience in startups...once I had to work out of a startup space. And it amazed me the number of conversations I would hear between aspiring entrepreneurs and random strangers that were variations of, "Please tell me if you think this is a good idea".

Everyone knows what it's like to want something. I didn't really hear about Tinder until after it blew up into something huge, but its proposition always made sense to me: Do you want to get laid? Do you often base your decision on the looks of a potential mate? Would you be OK with requesting consensual sex without having to fill out a form?. Yes to all of that. I can't think of anything I regularly use and/or pay for that I can't sum up as a one-sentence "want", whether it's Google, Twitter, Netflix, Facebook, Uber...of course being the first to recognize the desire does not lead to a desirable product -- there's scaling and marketing and implementation and luck, of course.

But that means the entrepreneur who is trawling around to learn what others want is even deeper in the hole. Is there something in startup culture that heavily cautions against pursuing something that you know _you_ want, because selfish concerns do not often scale (even though they've scaled in plenty of cases if you look at surviving startups, though that's obviously survivor bias).

vonnik 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is a great talk. While most of Jessica's advice is spot on for many startups, there are some special cases, namely enterprise software.

Once an enterprise software startup has built its product, or even 70% of its product, you have to go to conferences. Conferences are where you meet your users, and enterprise software users and buyers are a hard group to target otherwise. Marketing and top-of-the-funnel sales happen there. Conferences are also the places you gather intel about the rest of the industry to get a read on where it's moving and if you're aligned with it. So the question for enterprise software startups is: How do you select the most important conferences and pay as little as possible to attend?

ajessup 5 hours ago 3 replies      
It would be wonderful if these sorts of articles (which efficiently generalize advice based on thousands of data points) could back their assertions up with a few telling case studies. It's often too easy to nod sagely at advice like "don't loose focus" but not actually recognize the pathology in ourselves in our day to day lives.
cableshaft 5 hours ago 7 replies      
Jessica asserts that conventions are too distracting and you shouldn't go to them.

I don't completely agree with that. Depending on what type of business you're making, the best way to get work done is to go to conventions, because that's the only time you can easily meet with a bunch of people that are related to your industry and make new partnerships, check out new hardware/software solutions to save time or money, possibly hunt for some new talent to join the company, discuss business propositions, etc, can all be possible in much shorter period of time than doing the same outside the convention.

Even just having the opportunity to meet someone face to face that you've been doing business with for the past several months can be useful.

That being said, you don't need to go to a lot of them. Attend only one or two of the most productive ones per year (most productive ones are not always the largest), and you should get a lot done without spending too much time at them.

Also don't go if you're strapped for cash, as they're often expensive (depending on the industry). They're not absolutely necessary, and they can be a waste of time if you don't utilize them properly. But they can be helpful tools.

exclusiv 5 hours ago 1 reply      
"build stuff and talk to users" is so simple but great advice.

For my first successful startup I did the marketing and build and my partner focused on the users. And we crushed the incumbent in under 2 years completely bootstrapped and they tried to buy us.

Now I have a new startup where I'm handling the build and the customers and another partner is focused on the marketing.

It's a subscription business and talking with users helps retention, acquisition via word of mouth and also product development. Do it even if you'd rather be spending that time building!

zeeshanm 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I also think it's super important to make something you can sell in addition to making something people want. Frankly, there are so many things people want but not every founder has resources or is well-equipped to sell it.

Your goal as a founder is to maximize chances of __your__ success. Having the right founder-market fit goes a long way.

pfarnsworth 5 hours ago 7 replies      
You can do all of the above and still fail. Often, success or failure is luck-based and completely not skill-based.
katzgrau 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As a bootstrapper of broadstreetads.com (about to pass the four year mark), I can genuinely say that focusing on building what your customers truly need and measuring growth are two critical pieces of advice that do not get emphasized enough.

I love to shut myself in and write code, don't get me wrong. But consistently tracking sales growth, setting goals, and hitting goals (i.e., execution) is what separates the wannabes from the dids.

S4M 4 hours ago 2 replies      
So networking, "grabbing coffee" with investors and talking to potential acquirers are a waste of time, yet YC insists that startups go to one of the most expensive place in the world just because it's more convenient to to those three things.
tmaly 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I think #1 is the key to the whole thing.

I love how Pat Flynn talked about building a market map in his recent book Will It Fly. I think this method is very helpful in finding out if what your doing is something people want.

Derek Sivers of CDBaby has this same mindset. He has always worked off the pull method rather than the push method for what he creates.

Ash Maurya in his book running lean gives you a nice script for customer development interviews. I have tried this with a previous startup idea, and they saved me from going down the road of working on something people did not want. They are probably a bit more involved than Pat's method, but it is something else to consider.

woah 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Focusing on growth and revenue sounds like the right thing to do for a p2p dog walking marketplace, or a SaaS enterprise meal planning app, but what about the startups solving big problems? Is month over month user growth relevant to a nuclear fusion or jet airplane startup?
Sidnicious 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Woah, I've been struggling with the idea of going to conferences (on the list of distractions).

I have personal projects that I want to finish (not a startup), and the conferences I enjoy tend to feature people showing off their own projects. Whenever Im at one, I think, Id rather be on stage, sharing something I put months (or years) of love into, than be one of the 100-1000 people in the audience watching.

Of course, going to a conference can be inspiring, or introduce me to people or ideas thatll shape my future work, so theyre not all bad. Im interested in how other HN folks approach this conflict.

Semi-related, I experienced something interesting at a hacking conference a few years ago. Mid-conference, feeling inspired, I hid in the volunteer lounge for almost a whole day and worked on a reverse engineering project that Id been fighting to understand for over a year. I solved it! Being there, and aware of all of the people and activity around me, but actively ignoring it, gave me focus and motivation. That was fascinating, and Ive considered doing the same thing again (or finding a really interesting conference and not buying a ticket, so that I could work while I know Im missing it).

usmeteora 5 hours ago 5 replies      
as a 26yr old female Electrical Engineer getting involved with entrepreneurship and doing my own software startup, I agree there is too much controversy, talk and fear surrounding being a female in tech.

Don't get me wrong, it is isolating in general but after working for two startups, one bought out by a foreign company and another now has billions in funding, doing software analytics on the trading floor through summer internships in college, and going to a predominately male college for engineering, 70% males overall, and 99% male in my major, I can say I have a diversity of experience even within the tech field and also years of experience working at single companies before moving on, I can say a few things that I think echo what she is saying

1. Most of the people speaking the most about female controversey are not coders, or engineers or in the nitty gritty of tech. While I appreciate their empathy and willingness to latch onto a cause and speak for us, they often get it wrong, and recently have done so much so that they scare the MAJORITY of men to feeling uncomfortable talking about it. What do I mean? onto point #2

1a. Sorry, before I go to Point 2, another way journalists or people wanting to speak out on our behalf (female women in tech) get it wrong is by assuming we want to change the culture to be this outgoing, social fashion forward world. Actually, alot of us are introverted geeks and like doing the same thing other male engineers do. I definitely think wheather you were or are a cheerleader sorority girl who likes to bake and throw parties or an introverted star wars nerd and each one is an engineer, either should feel equally comfortable at a new tech company and not isolated by the culture, but anecdotally I happen to be an extreme introvert, and the excessive socializing and advice or notion that if we have an environment where we can all be super girly like omg together is the vibe I get from alot of female focused events in tech. It's actually overwhelming and makes me feel more out of place than not. Listen to us, not imposing your idea of how we might feel onto us. Get a good profile of what females are saying who are IN tech, and if there is a difference between that and the ones who are latching onto the idea of it or operating in auxiliary roles surrounding tech. These women are just as important, and are are still subject to sexism working around male dominated industries, but if you want more women IN tech, instead of talking about tech but not in it, listen to the women IN it, you might be surprised.


Here is one example where both genders are contributing to the problem but making it harder for women IN tech. my friend is a Biomed Engineer who prototyped and developed her hardware. Keeping her anonymous on here, but she went to a big tech conference in the bay area and was approached by three men asking if she was a "showgirl" at the conference as a starter to the conversation. Of all the things you could possibly say right? How offensive to a female engineer with over 30 pending patents running a multi million dollar company and two engineering degrees under her belt. Welp, those guys are in the wrong, but also why are there showgirls at tech conferences. because hot girls attract geeks to the boothe. But MEN hired these showgirls, and WOMEN are actually fufilling those roles. So both parties are at fault.

Who suffers?The people who suffer are the ACTUAL female engineers who would love to go to a conference and not have it be assumed they are there in an auxiliary tech role until proven otherwise.

once my friend described who she was, both of the guys felt really bad, even embarassed and apologized profusely. They ended up being cool guys she is still friends with. they learned a lesson, but they have also been heavily conditioned by males and females who are both willing particpants in establishing a stereotype that is demeaning to women actually in tech.

2. Most men I've met and worked with in tech are absolutely fine. It is that in general outlier cases good and back stick out in our heads. If there are 200 employees at a company and only 2 females in my department of 40, probably over a 6 months period the chances are I'm going to be made to feel uncomfortable whether intentionally or not by one person atleast. I'm not saying it's acceptable or ok, or that steps shouldn't be taken to fix it, I'm saying 19/20 guys I work with in a random sampling are just fine, and don't make being a girl a thing, and treat me just the same, or if anything are excited to see women in tech and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. It's then in your discretion to stand on your own two feet and not take advantage of that, because some women do, which brings me to...

3. There are some women who abuse their minority status. I'm NOT saying women who have spoken out about being treated poorly are the ones who are abusive, or that they are lying. It is usually ones that have nothing to complain about and the situations are much more nuanced. I'm sorry people will get mad at me about this statement but I feel comfortable saying it as I've observed it and I work in tech and I'm not going to lie to remain politically correct. Both males and females are capable of abusing their position. Not all males do it, not all females do it. So hating men or making them terrified of saying the wrong thing if anything is just going to make you feel more isolated.

There are also women who still have queen B syndrome and like being the only female around, and actively bully other women. This is so obnoxious. However, in my varied experience in tech, I can say one key indicator of a real female engineer, is that most of us would LOVE a female friend because we don't have many. Females that view male dominated workplaces as a fun new playground because of all the men, are constantly having coworker boyfriends, and view other women as competition, instead of empathizing with them, have probably not experienced the long term years of being in college engineering classes and doing their homework and not having female friends, and the desire to be treated as an equal instead of put on a pedastool or having to prove themselves. Real females doing real work in tech know what it's like to be isolated, and when we get together as females, we are all super super grateful for it, and we all feel uncomfortable going to glitzy girl focused events where we are bombarded by girls not in tech telling us how things should be. This has been my experience.

4. While some of us can't choose who we work for and with, if you are a female IN Tech, not marketing or some soft auxiliary department of a developed company, but you code or prototype electronics or hardware or engineer something, then you are valuable enough that you can move onto thousands of other companies if you don't find one with a culture that fits your comfort zone. Not just because you are a talented brilliant ambitious female, but because you are a talented brilliant ambitious engineer, and they are in great need in any gender, but being a female is always a great added diversity and step into equality for EVERYONE, not just females. AGAIN, it's not ok women should ever have to feel uncomfortable but we live in the real world and not everything is fair, not just for women, but for alot of situations and people in general.


In life in general, forget being a women or startups, a good rule of thumb, and one I took way too long to learn myself in my personal and professional life, if you don't like how you are being treated, then start hanging around different people.

I have plenty of male engineer friends who are low key, we geek out together, order pizza, watch tv, code, switch knowledge, music and talk about latest tech stuff, and its totally chill. What and who makes you feel comfortable but also gets you excited about learning and obtaining your goals? hang around them and your work life and personal life will be better. It's the same as if you want to stop drinking but your friends only method or venue for socializing is drinking, well it's not going to be super fun for you, so hang out with people who gel with your same lifestyle.

I definitely have my frustrations, but my successes and friends male and female far outweigh my desire to spend most of my time feeling negatively. This is coming from a girl who has been through some troubling times with male coworkers. It's not that is hasnt been harder, its just that I have so many things I want to do, I'd rather "show them" by being successful and acheiving my goals than fighting a legal battle. I am glad some women have chosen the legal path, but I actually would be upset if someone chastized me for not spending all my time in court. There are lots of way to bring tech forward with everyone, not just articles and legal battles. Sometimes, just being a good role model, the girl you wish you had to hang with 5 years ago when you had no female friends, goes alot farther in the world of tech females who actually need a friend, not just people reading the hottest news. Any new girl I meet in my company or department or otherwise who is an engineer or software developer, I atleast attempt to make friends and go out to lunch or a grab a drink with them , let them know I'm available to chat or otherwise, and every time I've been endlessly thanked saying I'm the only female friend they have. Well, now I have like 5 awesome female engineer friends and we all are friends as a group now, it's not much, its not enough, but its more than we ever had and it's all we have time for, because you know, we are also coding, starting companies and doing all the same things males do so we are not over here just being social butterflies. As cliche as it sounds, and something I never would have believed about myself years ago when I was feeling isolated, is that I focused on being the change I wanted to see in the world, and the role model I wish I had when I was fresh out of college, instead of fighting legal battles. Sometimes thats the right thing to do, sometimes my path is a good one too, and I don't regret it.

I've had to abandoned some groups, and in one case a company because I was around egotistical chovenistic males who challenged me on everything and even worse it was all subconscious sexism so it was not even easy to address. no its not ok, but I decided to instead of fighting for it for years and years, to move onto something better for me, and now I can spend the majority of my time coding and working on my goals, instead of fighting against people. It was the best decision I've ever made, I'm able to be alot more technically advanced, and by holding my head high and deciding I could do better, instead of tearing other people down.

Atleast three of those guys have come to me years later to apologize (with no prodding on my part), tell me I was a good player on the team, and I know from females who joined that same team later, they are treated very well. Those guys straightened up because sometimes the most powerful thing you can do, is know you deserve better, walk away and discover a place that fosters your worth. If you have real tech skills, this will always be an option for you as a woman, or a man. It's ok to stand up and "fight" and it all depends on your situation. I should have had more support in mine, but honestly I think I made the right choice by just moving onto something better.


She is right, don't be scared. JUST DO IT. If you can actually code or prototype, then do it. Perform, let your product speak for itself and noone can argue with you. That is the cool thing about coding or being an engineer, if it works and people are paying for it, who cares if youre a girl, or a transgender, or have purple hair, wear tennis shoes to work, or if you are a hippopotamus. It's not going to be easy, it's going to be WORTH it, and there may be some extra barriers, but how rewarding for you to be a trailblazer.

I never thought of myself that way until people started calling me a trailblazer or a "badass" years out of college and now that I think about it, hey yeh, I've been through some pretty hard times but damn this is cool, minority or not, I love what I do and nothing is going to stop me. In fact, I had no idea when I first went into this that anyone would want to stop me, or feel threatened by me, and honestly, that is the hard part.


The hard part is realizing that some people are actually not supportive of you, subconsciously or not, alot of the anger on your part comes from the confusion surrounding the challenge of understanding this concept, because if youre an awesome person who doesnt need to tear other people down to have success, this isn't going to be intuitive for you to understand other people are actually that lame. Once you realize yes these warped people in self denial who project their own insecurities onto you DO exist, and probably always will in some form or fashion, then you can be like "oh, no I'm better than that sorry". Sometimes again, legal is a good way, sometimes not.

Just do you and find that confidence. if you don't have it, dig deeper, if youre reading this youre already way ahead of the game and have nothing to feel insecure about. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond and how you let it effect your opinion of yourself or your subconscious belief about your capabilities.

Have that attitude, and support other girls around you, focus on your work and not people, and youll be amazed. In the words of Dr. Suess "oh the places youll go.."

JBiserkov 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of http://paulgraham.com/die.html and http://paulgraham.com/startupmistakes.html

P.s. I haven't seen her talk yet.

kayhi 4 hours ago 5 replies      
"The best metric to choose is good old fashioned revenue."

The best metric to choose is good old fashioned profit.

I appreciate that growth can be hindered by making a profit, but isn't that what matters in the end? Amazon, Twitter, Box and many other public tech companies went public without turning a profit so it seems I'm wrong.

mathattack 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Measuring the right things is very important too. I was at a company that lived and died on user counts. We grew 30X in users over my year there, but no revenue so we ultimately died. (And costs were out of control too, and we lost focus, so much of this article hits home)
qznc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> Make something people want. This is YCs motto, and after 11 years and more than 1000 startups, I know we picked the right one.

I find this sad. It tells you something about humanity. Don't build something people need. Build what they want. Make it addictive. We either don't know what we need or if we know it, we still want something different.

poof131 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure I agree about advisors. Getting smart people who have experience in places the team is lacking seems pretty critical to me. Perhaps its different at YC where you have advisors built into the program and getting boards of advisors is extraneous, but for other teams without those resources behind them this seems like bad advice. Find people whove done it before and learn from them.
zxcvvcxz 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> So while Ill tell you that it is going to be harder for you as a woman,

I read this phrase a few times. I'm genuinely curious - and didn't really see it in the article - what are the reasons for which Jessica is referring?

Edit - downvoted for asking a genuine question...? Did it ever occur to anyone that I may be asking to see how I could help, seeing as I'm involved with a few startups?

outworlder 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Overall, I found the reading very enjoyable. And down to earth, which is refreshing.

Until this part, that is:

> And you know where the founders of these big winners are going to come from? From this room!

Not sure how to view this part. On one hand, of course she's right. If no "unicorns" ever came from YC, they wouldn't be around still. But it seems to imply that all founders that are going to be wildly successful were in that room. That's either appealing to emotion for morale purposes, or way too elitist. Not sure which.

ape4 5 hours ago 1 reply      
On "making something people want"... You don't always know. If its a cheaper version of something else then - yah. But if its a new category you don't know. eg Nest - turns out people did want an expensive smart thermostat. But wasn't obvious.
davesque 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The only way not to fail is not to try. Even then you could argue that you failed to try :).
sbardle 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Solid advice. I think YC advice gives you the road map, but in addition speeches like Paul Buchheit's "The Technology" can also help stimulate the vision in the first place.
kreetx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I want a T-shirt which says "Jessica Livingston"! Very good advice overall.
k2xl 5 hours ago 2 replies      
How many startup founders do you know think they aren't building something people want?

These are some nice tips, but the problem with this advice is that it probably won't change founder behaviors.

Most startup founders I know would think that they are focused, building something people want, not over hiring, etc...

With the exception of the default alive or dead, none or the other tips are really quantifiable.

I appreciate everything Jessica has done, and she has a wealth of experience and exposure to a wide variety of startups, but this advice is too subjective.

erikb 5 hours ago 0 replies      
just as a side note. She pretty much says that "ugly duck hiring" (hiring start-ups that seem to be on a good track but have burned too fast through their money) may be a thing to make money with.

PS: And i don't like the "not fail" part. You don't want to not fail. You want to succeed. If you fail and succeed the failing is fine.

logicallee 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Could someone help me understand her list under Point 2, Stay Focused? She writes:

>One of the most conspicuous patterns weve seen among the thousand startups weve funded is that the most successful founders are always totally focused on their product and their users. To the point of being fanatical. The best founders dont have time to get caught up in other things.

>Heres a list of things that I see easily distract founders. These are like the startup equivalent of wolves in sheeps clothing.

[she includes 8 points, of which I quote 4 below - I am quoting selectively.]

> - Grabbing coffee with investors

> - Networking

> - Doing a partnership, thinking it will get you more users

> - Going to conferences

Now, I need help understnanding this. She has listed some of the items that separate people building startups in unfundable locations where there are 0 startups, and startups building in the Bay Area.

If you don't need to do these things, why did YC shut down it's Boston program and make everyone do it in the Bay Area?

If you don't need to do these things, why can't you build a startup from anywhere in the world as long as you speak good English and have no costs?

Aren't these things literally the things that make startups fundable, financiable, possible to grow into huge businesses?

I and anyone else on HN who has been in the Bay Area and in startup-dead locations knows the huge difference. She seemed to quote some of it under 'distractions'.

Can someone help me understand why they aren't, in fact, part of focus?

ck2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Video of keynote by Jessica Livingston


draw_down 4 hours ago 1 reply      
- Don't do bad stuff.- Do do good stuff.
4 hours ago 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I believe you're talking about Elizabeth Holmes.
nutheracc 4 hours ago 3 replies      
"...shares her learnings about..." -- this is not English. Failing in the second sentence.
Show HN: Vector: a Matrix-powered open-source collaboration Web/Android/iOS app vector.im
76 points by Arathorn  2 hours ago   30 comments top 10
slimsag 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not trying to be rude by saying this, but these names "Vector" and "Matrix" are far from Google-able, and sometimes (esp. in game development, and other scientific fields I'm sure) not even clear in person-to-person discussion.
unicornporn 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been using Vector for Android the last days and I must say I am VERY impressed. Both the vector.im web interface and the smartphone apps are looking polished at a level that I'm very unused to when it comes to open source projects.

I must say though that people are becoming more and more unfamiliar with decentralization. Naming the standard one thing (Matrix) and the main phone app another (Vector) is IMHO a move that only a technologist would come up with. The logic might seem crystal clear to all you working on the project. But if you want traction (hell, you could actually be a serious alternative to Slack!) you should've register something like matrix.im and named the app Matrix.

Arathorn 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We just showed off the first official release of the Vector clients for Matrix.org at the Decentralised Web Summit (http://decentralizedweb.net) - it seems to have gone down quite well, and even attracted a few new faces :D https://matrix.org/_matrix/media/v1/thumbnail/matrix.org/xhD...
phantom_oracle 1 hour ago 2 replies      
This may be helpful to other people, as I myself was a bit confused in the beginning.

Vector.im is a client to the protocol called "matrix.org".

This is equivalent to using XChat(client) on the IRC protocol.

In this case, matrix.org also runs their own servers (but you can host your own), so it is like IRC protocol (matrix protocol) + Freenode (matrix server).

jalami 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Matrix and vector look more interesting by the week. I would really like to see the Android port on F-droid. I haven't done a tonne of research, but I believe Vector uses Google Play Services, specifically GCM. This makes it impossible for me to use on my GAPPS-less phone. It also bars it from F-droid.
cshimmin 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Nobody has said the word "slack" yet... but am I interpreting this correctly? An open source clone of slack? If so, it's very interesting. I wonder if they are taking any steps towards solving the "fragmentation" issue that slack teams seem to cause. I have a few contacts that are shared between 2-3 different slack teams and I can never remember where to find my PM conversations.

Edit: okay someone else did say "slack", should have refreshed the page before posting :)

SamWhited 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I still don't understand why Matrix was made when XMPP is already a thing; if you're not happy with the existing standard participate in the process, don't just make up a new one. https://xkcd.com/927/
jrowley 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks nice, and glad to see it's open source and that I can run it on my own server :) A very crowded space but having that option is great.

I wonder how integration with phabricator would work/look like.

jbk 23 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm curious, how does this compare to open source slack-clones like Mattermost?
thedangler 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Integration's?Do you have to build an integration through the matrix api?No real detail on the page about it.
Pilot test of storing carbon dioxide in rocks arstechnica.com
35 points by jseliger  2 hours ago   22 comments top 8
SquirrelOnFire 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Neat! Storing carbon stably is huge. We have much easier ways to get to 10,000 year storage (turning fast-growing biomass like miscanthus or other giant grasses into charcoal and throwing it in an old mine), but i haven't heard of other super-long-term storage options.
moftz 57 minutes ago 2 replies      
Humans put out 40 billion tons of CO2 every year. Offsetting all of this would require 1 trillion gallons of water which sounds like a lot but is only 1 cubic mile of water. It doesn't say how fresh the water needs to be but if salt water is possible to use, then these injection systems could be setup all over the world in places where access to ocean water and basalt bedrock is plentiful. That energy company says they plan to setup facilities to inject 10000 tons of CO2 every year. It would still take 4 million more of these facilities to offset all carbon emissions.
bpodgursky 50 minutes ago 1 reply      
I know geo-engineering schemes are well-intentioned, but I'm worried that once productionized, country-specific motivations are going to move from "status quo" to "arms race"

Yeah we all know global warming will cause chaos etc, but some countries will be net winners, and some net losers. Canada and Russia have a lot to gain from global warming, with sea routes and more farmland. African nations, Bangladesh, India have huge amounts to lose.

Once we have sequestration technology working, would anyone put it past the Indian / Egyptian / etc governments to set a goal CO2 PPM below the "historic" status quo to lower temperatures for the benefit of their people?

Would anyone put it past Russia to be upset about this and intentionally release methane to counteract the cooling effect?

I think it would be very hard to prevent weaponization of this tech; "keep everything how it is" is easy to say but I don't think will actually happen.

semi-extrinsic 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The flipside of this is that mineral precipitation (though not necessarily carbonate) is also a problem for CO2 injection into aquifers, which are more readily available and for which we have better understanding, better technology and better infrastructure.

(No disrespect for the CarbFix people implied, they do great work.)

_red 44 minutes ago 1 reply      
98% of a trees mass comes from "carbon capture".
randyrand 9 minutes ago 1 reply      
What if we just planted more trees?
Fej 35 minutes ago 1 reply      
Can we start panicking now?

We need to get to 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere and we're above 400, with no easy solutions on the horizon.

ck2 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's hilarious how certain people keep talking about "clean coal" like it's plausible and scientists don't even have this basic requirement worked out yet.
The Sad Story of Heisenberg's Doctoral Oral Exam aps.org
175 points by bladecatcher  6 hours ago   40 comments top 12
erikpukinskis 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
This highlights what was a huge misconception for me about a PhD. I thought a PhD was about making an original contribution to my field. I thought Academia was a place where you took risks in pursuit of knowledge, and a PhD was your first real go at it.

In retrospect (I'm a PhD dropout) the PhD is really more about training in the fundamentals of scholarship. It's about building up background knowledge, and learning the mechanics of research and publishing.

The actual scholarly contribution matters almost not at all. This is why faculty will pressure you to pick a conservative project... the results are besides the point. The point is demonstrating that you can do all the steps. Because lots of great people can only do half the steps. A PhD means you can do all.

Once you have your PhD, then its your career on the line and you can do whatever you want. Before that point, you're really working on borrowed (from your advisor) time, and as much as it might seem like you are supposed to blaze a path, they really just want you to show that you can walk in a straight line.

gumby 4 hours ago 2 replies      
A reassuring story for those of us who feel we are strong in many areas but fear we have deep, dangerous holes in certain fundamentals.

This vignette explains part of something I hadn't understood about the emergence of Heisenberg's work (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Heisenberg#Matrix_mecha... ): he seemed to work out the core theory of QM without really developing a sensible, general approach. Compare this to Newton, who did develop calculus to explain mechanics (even if we these days use Leibniz's contemporaneous work). In Heisenberg's case, Born was the one who realized that we should use matrices.

It's still weird that Born didn't get the nobel for this work and had to wait 20 more years to get one.

archgoon 5 hours ago 4 replies      
"But that fall Heisenberg's worried father wrote to the famed Gottingen experimentalist James Franck, asking Franck to teach his boy some experimental physics. Franck did his best, but could not overcome Heisenberg's complete lack of interest and gave up the effort. If Heisenberg was going to survive at all in physics it would be purely as a theorist."

I had not heard this part; and might shed some additional light onto why the German atomic project was significantly behind. When the lead of your project is a famous physicist, but who isn't strongly grounded in experiment, but who nevertheless feels like he can't simply be a manager and must have input, you're likely going to have problems.

Maybe not though; be an interesting line of investigation though. Anyone know if this was a documented issue? I know that Heisenburg had seriously overestimated the amount of necessary fissile material needed for a bomb.


davesque 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's always encouraging to be reminded of how the giants in the history of science were also just people.
nmc 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"Accustomed to being always at the top of his class, Heisenberg found it hard to accept the lowest of three passing grades for his doctorate."

The only sad thing I can see is that, according to the story, receiving such a low grade at his final oral exam in experimental physics undermined his confidence in his own skills in experimental physics.

I would hate to sound blunt, but receiving a low grade for being unable to answer basic questions should not be a surprise to such a theoretical genius. He got his doctorate anyway.

kleiba 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It shouldn't be surprising for anyone who takes an exam unprepared that you may walk out with only an average grade. I mean, it's not like he didn't know he was going to get questions on experimental physics, nor the impact they would have on the final grade...
oldbuzzard 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
Sort of a more high stakes version of the Grothendieck "prime"... makes you wonder how many more folks haven't made it through the gauntlet.
logicallee 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I love this story! This isn't a quip: read the article, then finish reading my comment.

"Was Heisenberg a good physicist" - well, he was and he wasn't.

lb1lf 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It is somehow reassuring that even a mind as brilliant as Heisenberg's had its limits.

Mandatory lame joke - "I love driving my Heisenbergmobile, but every time I look at the speedometer I get lost."

readams 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Luckily now we have this useful FAQ on dealing with doctoral exams:


2 hours ago 2 hours ago 1 reply      
tl;dr: It would have gone a lot better if he had worn pants. And also not brought a pistol and a bag of meth to the exam.
sarath749 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Today i learnt haha
The Future of Podcasting stratechery.com
96 points by jcurbo  5 hours ago   76 comments top 21
vitd 3 hours ago 2 replies      
As an extremely heavy listener of podcasts, there's no way I would listen anymore if I had to have 20 different apps to run to listen to them. It's an absolute non-starter. And then to have ads on top of that. Fuck that.

Maybe the author's right that what works for current users won't work for the masses. I don't know. But I do know that I will not listen to more ads (that's why I stopped listening to radio and I suspect I'm not the only one), and I will not go to the trouble of using more than a single app.

fluxquanta 4 hours ago 1 reply      
>publishers should offer podcasts through their own app that measures listens, and either sell ads themselves if they have the scale or outsource it to a company like Midroll. Midroll, for their part, should leverage their new player technology to offer skinnable apps for publishers who cant build their own.

Here's my problem with this idea:

I, like many people, listen to a lot of different podcasts. Dozens, in my case. I have a podcatcher app that puts them all in one place. That makes it easy and convenient for me. Some of the shows I only listen to maybe once per month when there's a guest on that I enjoy, or if I run out of new episodes of everything else. If each show required its own app for me to listen, I'd only listen to the ones I really, really enjoy and support, and the rest I'll do without or bootleg. So, in a sense, the individual app per show idea would be limiting the potential audience.

I'm already seeing this happen with Libsyn custom mobile apps[0]. There are a number of shows I listen to that have paywalls for old episodes which can only be accessed through subscription plans available in individual apps. $1.99 or $2.99 may not seem like much by itself, but if it's 10 or 20 shows you're listening to this becomes an unjustifiable bill.

The only viable alternative I see is the further growth of podcast networks, where multiple shows are available for one price. But, currently, this model is still too small and fragmented. Until the Netflix or Hulu of podcasts comes out, I'll be left to pick and choose which deserve my support enough to justify buying into their distinct "ecosystem".

Edit: I see that my points here were addressed in the paragraphs following the one I quoted, but I'm still not buying the idea that siloing is the best way to monetize podcasts.

[0] https://www.libsyn.com/custom-mobile-apps/

randomname2 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Obligatory mention for the No Agenda podcast [1], by the "father of podcasting" Adam Curry and tech broadcaster John C. Dvorak. They have an interesting model in being 100% listener supported, with no advertisers or sponsors, and yet still managing to make a living off their show, putting out 2 shows every week (today show #832):

"More and more independent podcasters will probably take note of this new model, and they should. Open, unsullied content creation and delivery should be the goal of everyone in the media -- a free exchange of ideas, opinions and content is the cornerstone of a free internet and a free society.

Podcasting has always been a medium searching for a successful funding model. Curry was a pioneer in getting podcasters to band together to try and attract funding from advertisers and sponsors. Curry started a couple of companies to support this model -- he would probably be the first to admit that the main-stream media model is not the best one for podcasting... but his constant tinkering and experimentation with the medium he created is starting to pay off. Curry and Dvorak may be the first "professional" podcasters to make a living doing a show that is truly independent, insightful and listener supported."

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

[2] http://www.examiner.com/article/no-agenda-makes-podcasting-r...

AdmiralAsshat 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Podcasts are hot right now. Big Money is coming. Big Money isnt going to sell nicely designed, hand-crafted, RSS-backed podcast players for $2.99 or ask you to pay what you want to support them, because that doesnt make Big Money. Theyre coming with shitty apps and fantastic business deals to dominate the market, lock down this open medium into proprietary technology, and build empires of middlemen to control distribution and take a cut of everyones revenue.

Hats off to that guy for succinctly summarizing why we can't have nice things.

1ris 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Podcasting right now seems to working wonderfully. It's one of the most expensive ways to advertise. If it's not broken don't fix it. Tracking and the targeting didn't save online advertisment, it won't safe podcasting.
jaysonelliot 3 hours ago 5 replies      
I run a small podcasting network called TSRPN.

When I talk to non-listeners about podcasts, I hear two things:


1. "I don't know how to listen to podcasts."

2. "I don't know what to listen to."


There are many great podcatching apps out there, and for those of us who "get it" and are motivated to listen to podcasts, it seems like Pocket Casts, Overcast, even the default Podcast app for iOS are easy to use and understand. Yet apparently they aren't.

Discovery is another issue altogether. NPR One, Pandora, Stitcher, et al have tried to do some level of podcast recommendation, but the lack of thorough metadata and text transcripts make it difficult to apply the kind of algorithm that works for blogs or music.

What makes it easy for the average non-techie to use a browser to read blogs, an app like Spotify for music, or their Facebook app, but not to use a podcatcher app?

Is it simple lack of familiarity? Or do we need an entirely new approach? I wish I knew the answer.

esonderegger 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I've been wrestling with the idea of how to enable monetization for smaller podcast producers since I decided to start building an AppleTV app for playing video podcasts this past winter. What I think could work is namespaced tags for specific players that offer ad-insertion. This allows for the platform to remain default-open and opt-in for publishers who want to go this route.

For example, much like <itunes:explicit> is not part of any RSS spec, a publisher could choose to include a tag like <castanet:monetize>yes</castanet:monetize>, which would tell the Cast-a-net app that the publisher of that podcast would like ads to be inserted. The publisher would then need to setup an account with Cast-a-net to share the ad revenue, verify ownership, etc.

There is a significant chicken and egg problem, of course. The player needs to have enough users for the publishers to consider setting up an account to be worthwhile. The ad experience also can't get so obnoxious that users move to other apps. This approach allows publishers to gain monetization and metrics without ceding ownership and control to the platform.

By the way, my player, Cast-a-net, doesn't yet offer this feature. I've been working on making the UI good enough to attract real users first, then hoping it can grow to be something worthy of specific attention from video podcast producers.

(edit: as was pointed out in a reply, Marco is very anti-ads, so I swapped the example tags. I had only meant to use Overcast as an example of a popular independent player that doesn't want to become a walled garden for just a subset of the total podcast universe.)

ukyrgf 40 minutes ago 1 reply      
"Theyre coming with shitty apps and fantastic business deals to dominate the market, lock down this open medium into proprietary technology, and build empires of middlemen to control distribution and take a cut of everyones revenue"

This made me realize that Midroll/Earwolf already tried this to an extent last year with Howl.fm. It was an iPhone exclusive app/service that launched with a ton of exclusive podcast series, some old comedy albums, and the thing that really showed how little they cared about their listeners-- Earwolf was taking down all the old episodes of their podcasts and putting it behind the Howl paywall.

Many people might not be familiar with Earwolf, but in the comedy world it's huge. improv4humans is hosted by a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade and it's basically like sitting in on a master class in long-form improv. Comedy Bang Bang has recurring characters that date back years and people love going back and listening to hear how they evolve by "yes and"ing their way through conversations. They don't get dated like maybe a tech podcast might, so taking them down just to help bolster some cash-grab podcast subscription service was just so insulting, and to make it only available on iPhones showed how out of touch they were.

6stringmerc 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Comparing Podcasting with Blogging is a neat approach. I think there's more overlap than the article might be able - or willing - to address when discussing monetization.

To wit: In order to monetize, a lot of what is appealing about Blogging/Podcasting would be diminished - paying is the opposite of free content, commercials interrupt the listening, and authenticity corrupted by advertising perogatives.

Or, in other words, a lot of what the "Mommy Blog" sector seemed to try and keep under the surface: http://josidenise.com/dear-mommy-blogger/

Just like in music, there will be a few case studies with large revenues, and thousands barely making anything, if not actually going into the red for their troubles.

ssharp 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the article's ideas on advertising, particularly the idea that brand advertising HAS to come to podcasting because direct advertising won't scale is a bit flakey.

Why won't direct advertising scale? Direct advertising opens up the long tail of companies. Small Business X can't spend money on branding but can spend money on acquiring paying customers.

In fact, direct advertising has become so popular thanks to things like AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc. that companies need to find new places to address their target audiences and podcasts might just be a great place to do that. The stuff with coupon codes, special URLs, etc. are pretty trivial to set up and a company like Midroll is going to coordinate between you and the podcast so you can line up that stuff well ahead of time.

There was also this:

"The not-so-secret reality about podcast ads, though, are that advertisers are quite concentrated: a FiveThirtyEight intern heroically listened to the top 100 shows on the iTunes chart and counted 186 ads; 35 percent of them were from five companies. More tellingly, nearly all of the ads were of the direct marketing variety."

I did not read the 538 article on this, but it makes a lot of sense for a company to carpet bomb their advertising. So if you're listening to all the top 100 podcasts in a one-week period, you might have an advertiser hitting a lot of those podcasts in a one-week period. However, if you listened to the same 100 podcasts three weeks later, you might hear another set. Presumably, the companies finding routine success are the ones who you hear all the time.

On the carpet-bombing strategy, if you deploy in relative isolation, you should be able to measure the real effect of the advertising and not just the people who came through a URL or used a coupon code. If I normally sell $100 per week and the week I advertise I sell $200, I don't have to rely on campaign tracking to assume attribution. Wait a few weeks and advertise again and see if the effect holds up.

jldugger 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> Stitcher is thought to be the 2nd most popular podcast player, although it has long been controversial in some circles for its default practice of hosting podcasts itself (instead of directing users to download them directly from a podcasters server) and inserting ads.

Why would a consumer install such a program, when AntennaPod exists?

arrakeen 3 hours ago 1 reply      
for another perspective, here's an interview with two early podcasters working outside of this recent race to monetization


asgardiator 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
If you're looking for a free, hyper-functional podcast app that will search _thousands of RSS feeds_, allow me to introduce [PodcastAddict](https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bambuna.po...). I've been using it for some time now, and every day I discover something new to enjoy. It's indisputably the best podcast app for Android, and it's leagues beyond iOS's native app.
hijp 1 hour ago 0 replies      
That's a super depressing future.

My imagined future involves serving podcasts with different ads each time you download the episode. Maybe a subscription to ad-free versions. There's no need for a separate player for subscriptions, Rss feeds can already be password protected.

If anyone is working on the above, hit me up - I'd love to talk.

swifterthenthou 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been using the Remarks social podcasting app for the past week. They are trying to address the retention (for sure) and monetization (I assume they're going to roll out an ads platform) problems mentioned in the article.

I've been posting my thoughts as I listen and really like when the host is on the platform and I can react to their posts. Only challenge for me is that I listen to a lot of my episodes while driving and can't scroll through posts.

nealrs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
podcast stats, amirite?! I don't trust feedburner, libsyn, or blubrry -- but i've been _thinking_ about using keen.io redirects in my rss & itunes feeds so i can collect ip/agent info and analyze that.

i distribute my podcast (well, it's a video show, but still podcasty) via YouTube in part because I can actually get view/retention/source/subcriber stats + use links/annotations + I can also feed it into itunes. I even made a little jekyll repo that helps you make landing page & video/audio feeds: https://github.com/nealrs/Jekyll-YouTube-Show

lifeisstillgood 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
My take - snippets will drive discovery. Take a ten second snippet of a podcast and you can find a hundred "keyword" searches or Facebook headlines that it will fit perfectly.

This can drive subscriptions to the podcast

That might actually make a workable business ...

michaelwww 4 hours ago 4 replies      
> A major challenge in podcast monetization is the complete lack of data: listeners still download MP3s and thats the end of it; podcasters can measure downloads, but have no idea if the episode is actually listened to

That's not exactly true. Marc Maron always encourages his listeners to use his offer code (often "wtf") to get discounts. Surely they have data on that.

lifeisstillgood 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
tl;dr - facebookization of podcasts (one discovery process in one app) is the worst outcome for publishers (who already have this for actual text)

So the least worst alternative is for each publisher to have their own app for listening to their podcasts and drive folks to download said app by using star power and marketing. To get there we will see some podcasts bribed with huge gobs of cash.

Ok - seems plausible but frankly as a podcast listener I prefer the Facebook solution, and am unconvinced by his arguments that most people wont

randyrand 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Now THIS is podcasting!
Show HN: Flask-Ask Amazon Echo Development in Python johnwheeler.org
43 points by johnwheeler  2 hours ago   1 comment top
johnwheeler 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hi Everybody!

For the last month I've been working on a Flask extension called Flask-Ask I want to plug. The "Ask" part stands for the "Alexa Skills Kit", which is the service behind the Amazon Echo family of devices.


I've used a lot of web frameworks, and I love Flask! The Alexa Skills Kit is based on its own Request/Response model built in JSON on top of REST, so it made sense to incorporate mitsuhiko's architectural patterns like decorator-based routing, context locals, and templates, and adapt them for Flask-Ask.

I put up a 5-min tutorial for Flask-Ask here:


You can develop without an Echo Device using Amazon's Echosim service: https://echosim.io/


On Fungibility, Bitcoin, Monero and why ZCash is a bad idea weuse.cash
38 points by Expez  2 hours ago   23 comments top 7
ikken 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a very one-sided discussion which makes it seem like it was written by a person who wants Monero's value to rise. It doesn't mention any drawbacks of Monero - like poor scalability - that blocks it's wide adoption. There's also a good deal of FUD around Dash and Zcash, which has been quickly refuted on reddit [1].

Apart from that I liked this post and it shone some light on issues I wasn't aware of.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/btc/comments/4nai1r/on_fungibility_...

Olscore 1 hour ago 1 reply      
In practice, many of the gatekeepers to the layman using Bitcoin require so much documentation that anonymity should not be a major selling point. Perhaps you can acquire a few thousands USD worth that is anonymous, but trying to scale that anonymity doesn't go easily. Ironically, the needlessly growing inquisition into how I was using Bitcoin is what forced me to close my Coinbase account. They pretty much require the same information as a bank does, including photocopies of your state ID, even tax documents.

Having used a handful of the exchanges and other more casual wallets like Circle, it's obvious that the trend is towards more "security" and legitimacy by vetting users and knowing their real world identities, etc. Which can include Skype interview, scanning personal bills to prove addresses and so forth.

grondilu 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm always surprised how people seem to focus on bitcoin's alleged anonymity. It was quite clear from the beginning that bitcoin is not completely anonymous, or rather that it is not more anonymous than internet itself is. Just as you don't have to give your name or a photocopy of your passport to register to a website, you don't have to do that either to use bitcoin. So to a degree it is anonymous, but only when compared to other payments systems like Paypal for instance.

This relative anonymity is not what attracted the vast majority of bitcoin users anyway. It was more the idea of a public, decentralized ledger.

ChemicalWarfare 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Good read till the "Enter Monero" line :)

I'd also mention that bitcoin had a BIP at some point to add stealth address support to the core (BIP63) with a couple of wallets providing support for those.

SakiWatanabe 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a Monero pump to me
VMG 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
The navigation header effect is infuriating.
CiPHPerCoder 1 hour ago 1 reply      
> Another problem with ZCash is the fact that its brand new cryptography.

It's using libsodium. This is an alarmist and false statement.

> Nobody can really guarantee that there arent some bugs in the system that will make it possible to deanonymize transactions or create coins out of thin air.

Sure, that's technically true of all crypto-currencies.

UberRUSH API Add on-demand delivery to your app or service uber.com
113 points by motti  6 hours ago   59 comments top 14
ryanto 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Neat. I've always wondered if Uber's ride sharing had a weak moat. As a consumer there's little difference for me between taking an Uber, Lyft, or something else. This makes it easy to compete in the consumer ride sharing market.

If Uber is able to integrate with other apps this introduces a high switching cost for those apps... and that gives them a pretty solid moat. Excited to see how this API gets used.

laurabw 4 hours ago 1 reply      
We integrated the UberRush API as part of our multi-carrier shipping API https://goshippo.com/shipping-blog/introducing-uberrush-ship...It's interesting to see Uber entering the space of same day delivery. Happy to chat about the integration experience if anyone is interested!
delbel 3 hours ago 2 replies      
It would be nice to have a field to denote "This driver has a marijuana handlers permit" so they could potentially deliver recreational marijuana from retailer to consumer. Although I'm sure the regulators would want to go over this. This would be in Oregon.
dieselz 5 hours ago 5 replies      
This is a game changer - not only for what service it provides, but I think it will lead to more companies making APIs for totally non-technical tasks. Sure there are companies like task rabbit, shyp, etc etc, but this is the next level of ease.

Relevant - I want an API for a cleaning service. AirBnB integration so that it can automatically track when a guest has left and the cleaner shows up within an hour to get it ready for the next guest. Would build if I didn't have so many projects going on already...

tombone12 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Tip: While couriers will come in store to pick up the delivery, the most successful users of UberRUSH conduct curbside handoffs. By eliminating the time required for your courier to park and find the handoff spot, you can have your deliveries arrive to your users as fast as possible!"

As this is a service intended for people with no existing logistics infrastructure, this seems to be firmly in line with the uber policy of reminding everyone why rules are created in the first place...

timvdalen 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I just see an empty page with

>docs-598c00d615.js:1 Uncaught RangeError: Maximum call stack size exceeded

on the console

sharemywin 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Better hope domino's doesn't enter the market. Not sure if they could since it's all franchises. But, I imagine they could price it less than $6 per delivery.
KaoruAoiShiho 4 hours ago 6 replies      
Can somebody give an example of a service that needs this, where Fedex wouldn't do?
hayksaakian 1 hour ago 0 replies      
if you don't want to develop a program, there's a frontend for business owners


Cyph0n 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow, this looks awesome. The ad for UberRUSH is one of the best I've ever seen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRu6M9sCfmo.

I've actually been thinking of starting a similar venture in Tunisia. Over here, there is simply no straightforward way to deliver packages within a city. Obviously I don't have the platform Uber has, so I'm thinking of building both at the same time, but with a focus on package delivery for individuals or small businesses.

What I'm worried about the most is package insurance. How is this usually done? Do I need to setup a policy with an insurance company? Or can I just mention in the ToS something like "we are not responsible for the condition of the received package"?

Any input on this or any other potential hurdles would be appreciated.

asimuvPR 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder how the market leaders will react to this. They are essentially challenging UPS, FedEx and the USPS. Its going to be interesting.

Is there a list of allowed deliverable items?

Bombthecat 2 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone working with idg and APIs and management. We need more APIs ;)
plandis 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have any experience with how this compares to Prime Now from a sellers perspective?
supster 3 hours ago 2 replies      
What cities is this available in?
Reviewing Microsoft's Automatic Insertion of Telemetry into C++ Binaries infoq.com
75 points by osopanda  5 hours ago   21 comments top 5
jongalloway2 4 hours ago 5 replies      
People commenting here apparently haven't read the comment @cremno linked to:

> Lots of things inside Windows emit ETW events, which is Windows equivalent of DTrace (basically the entire OS, and .NET), it's super useful for debugging performance related events. It's not "Telemetry" like Google Analytics, it's for _you_ to debug your own programs.The easiest way to view the output of them is via WPA, you can watch some videos about it at https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/hardware/hh...


ryuuchin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They could probably get away with keeping it but turning it into an off by default feature. Renaming the linker object file into telemetry.obj (or something entirely different) to enable it. It seems as though it wasn't really used though so I guess with the public outcry they just decided to axe it and be done with it.
canada_dry 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't be the only one who finds it a bit (actually very) scary that just a little wire brushing things like this are uncovered. When I also read about things like MS's secretive constant-calling-home and Intel's secretive IME (the "ultimate rootkit") I get very worried about the real state of personal privacy nowadays.
BugsBunnySan 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So, it has come to this: https://www.ece.cmu.edu/~ganger/712.fall02/papers/p761-thomp... Ken Thompson "Reflections on Trusting Trust")in real life...
Emoji and Deep Learning getdango.com
88 points by wxs  5 hours ago   34 comments top 14
keyle 7 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is really cool. But half the fun for me is to pick the emojis at the end of the message. And they "add" to the mood of my message, they don't "amplify" it. Hence this wouldn't work for me most of the time o_0 ;(
derefr 21 minutes ago 1 reply      
Extremely neat, but I really don't understand the point of the app (Dango) that all this engineering is for the sake of. If I'm using an emoji, it's either instead of words, or to clarify words that could be taken multiple ways (e.g. sarcasm.)

Who are these people that type a sentence (with a single meaning, clear-cut enough for Dango to detect), and then want to add a redundant pictorial representation of the same words they just typed?

KennyCason 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I have to say this was one of the more "fun" ML articles I have read lately. Excellent visualizations as well. Great job!
rspeer 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is cool, even if it seems kind of frivolous. Word embeddings work for emoji just like they do for actual words, and it's neat to see an idea for how to commercialize that directly.

I wish they had explained details, such as what two-dimensional non-linear projection they're using for their map.

I also don't see it fully explained how they're getting representations of sequences of emoji. They explain how their RNN handles sequences of input words, but the result of that is a vector that they're comparing to their emoji-embedding space. Does the emoji-embedding space contain embeddings of specific sequences as well?

joefkelley 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
Why not train the RNN to directly predict emojis, instead of projecting everything to semantic space and picking the closest emoji? Seems like that would help with the problem of emojis with multiple meanings in different contexts. With this model, they could only be in a single point in semantic space.
the_watcher 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool. Emoji's seem trivial, but they're becoming more and more important in communications (whether that is good or bad is a separate discussion), and this is a pretty impressive bit of ML.
skykooler 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Reading this was somewhat bothersome in that my browser (Chrome on Linux) doesn't render emoji. Is there a standard font that supports emoji that could be installed?
hollythebeaver 59 minutes ago 3 replies      
It's also a little... racist.If you feed it with emojis it spits out other emojis(I was testing if it could spit out text from emoji input)But what happens if you change the skintone of the emojis?

White arm:http://i.imgur.com/KTNky0O.pngObvious connection to sports, sunglasses(like saying "cool" in this context)

Black arm:http://i.imgur.com/uXtSRfc.pngPoliceman searching something, a location marker(search location?)

smortaz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty cool. Tried about 10 sentences and the suggested emojis were spot on. Nice write up.
badlogic 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Great article, fun service. Still a part of me feels sad that we spend brain power on things like this.
sigmar 3 hours ago 1 reply      
As a lover of Emoji and deep learning, this is awesome. Are you planning to support unicode 9.0 sometime soon (I know it isn't even technically out)?
sherjilozair 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The real question is, where do you get this training data from?
mnkmnk 5 hours ago 2 replies      
>IBM uses them for operationalizing business unit synergies

What does this mean?

jderick 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Can it generate sequences of emoji that is has not seen before?
The Partial Control Fallacy pathsensitive.blogspot.com
46 points by nancyhua  4 hours ago   12 comments top 5
trjordan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I mostly agree with this, but don't discount the idea of only improving by a couple percent. Most things (like grants) are stack ranked, and if everybody has between an 85% and 95%, a 10% improvement could put you at the top of the list.

There's a similar argument about athletics. Sure, the people who win gold medals and get MVP at the Super Bowl have amazing genetics, but they also worked crazy hard to get there. Your hard work isn't going to get you a gold medal, but if they didn't work for it, they wouldn't get it either.

The core message is good, though: if you don't have whole package, don't apply the polish. But if you think you have a shot, don't think you can skate by on what you already have.

paulsutter 3 hours ago 2 replies      
It's a great point, too bad the author is focused on loserisms like winning competitive awards. Most ironic of all is applying for a Thiel fellowship because it's prestigious.

From "Competition is for losers" (http://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-l...):

"Always prioritize the substance of what you're doing. Don't get caught up in the status, the prestige games. They're endlessly dazzling, and they're always endlessly disappointing. -Peter Thiel

scribu 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is such a useful concept! Surely someone gave it a name much earlier, right?

Edit: The closest thing that came to mind is the idiom "penny-wise and pound-foolish".

laurimak 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I think this is called bikeshedding.
thaumasiotes 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> Applying that to the above, and you can see that, if I worked infinitely hard on my essays, I could only make my apps 11% better versus not doing anything at all. (At least to the extent that it really does follow that rubric [the essay being worth ten percentage points of 100], even if I submit a blank essay.)

This is wildly incorrect. Assuming you have a perfect score on every other part of the rubric, the maximum improvement you can get through the essay is 11% of your non-essay score. Without that assumption, the maximum improvement is positive infinity percent.

Open-Sourcing CloudFlares UI Framework cloudflare.com
137 points by luisrudge  7 hours ago   30 comments top 8
thejameskyle 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi, I'm one of the devs on this team. Let me know if you have any questions.

It's a super awesome feeling to have open sourced this after working on it for months, and I think we've done some interesting things. So I want to share our ideas and opinions. I'm hoping to publish more about them in the coming weeks.

rtsao 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Lerna [1] is very cool. I was firmly against monorepos, but the ability to easily manage and coordinate between individually versioned packages in a single repo is awesome. You get the benefits of a monorepo but also the benefits of small modules so it's the best of both worlds.

[1]: https://github.com/lerna/lerna

jgrahamc 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Related blog post that explains what this is and why we open sourced it: https://blog.cloudflare.com/cf-ui/
netghost 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed there are components for all the standard HTML typography like <kbd> is <Kbd> and such. Is there a perf hit in wrapping everything in a react component? Any particular reason to do this?
zedadex 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Between what they're doing and the example text in their image, I like these guys :
_RPM 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Is that TypeScript in the examples? Haven't done JS in a while(angular), so it seems like TypeScript has become the de facto standard now.
misiti3780 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks useful and interesting - thanks!
Ruud-v-A 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A shame they didnt rewrite it in Elm while they had the opportunity.
$500 Lenovo Phab2 Pro Is the First Google Tango Phone engadget.com
32 points by stanzheng  3 hours ago   6 comments top 3
danjayh 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
Non-engadget link for those who have given up on them (I can't possibly be the only one):


Someone1234 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This article demonstrates better what this could be used for:


alwaysdoit 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why Tango has to be an integrated built-in solution rather than an accessory that could be added to any Android phone.
Larry Pages startups working on flying cars bloomberg.com
245 points by piyushmakhija  12 hours ago   183 comments top 29
Nokinside 9 hours ago 10 replies      
Helicopters and small planes already exist. We might have autonomous helicopters and small planes in the future, but flying car concept is flawed and not because it's hard to build one.

- Preflight checks and flight safety. Larry should first build normal small aircraft that can do without constant manual checks before flight. This is actually good subgoal to work with even without flying cars in mind. Reliable infrastructure that checks and calibrates instruments so reliably that you don't need manual checks would be revolution in aerospace. Just walking from your car into your future Cessna-Android and flying off would be sci-fi for aviators.

- Energy consumption. No matter how energy efficient the engines are, hovering and short takeoffs use lots of energy. Flying with small wings with little lift is equivalent to driving monster trucks in full power. You don't want flying becoming everyday phenomenon until we have abundance of carbon free energy.

- Noise and safety regulations, aviation regulations over urban areas. Flying cars are not happening in the suburbs or anyone where lots of people live. In the meantime try to get new helicopter landing sites approved in your neighborhood. If you have to take car to your flying car hangar, just have a small plane instead. Or walk to a buss station.

JDDunn9 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I just emailed the people at Moller this week asking them what the biggest challenge in making a flying car was. Their reply was:

Thanks for reaching out to Moller International. Your question is a good one, with a multitude of answers. For now, Ill explain 3 of the biggest factors. First, there is a lot of FAA and government regulations regarding aircraft. Airworthiness certification is a lengthy process, and depending on the level at which a company wishes to test, operate, and potential sell their aircraft, the process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. Second, as stated previously, time is a major factor not only for development, but also testing, marketing, etc. In aviation, there are no unimportant parts at 10,000 ft. Safety is always a top priority throughout the entire process. Third, and finally, funding. Companies like Moller International depend greatly on their investors and supporters to keep the lights on. Until there is a product being sold, and cash being brought in regularly, a company must depend on some other source of funding. Aircraft programs are not known to be easy and cheap; these programs are some of the more expensive ones out there, especially in the private sector. With all of this said, all of us here at Moller International are working hard to ensure the latter two have as minimal an impact as possible. We have been working in cooperation with the FAA to get things going as quickly and safely as possible. Let me know if you have any other questions.

6stringmerc 7 hours ago 1 reply      
As long as there's the FAA involved, flying cars are a stupid idea.

They are shitty cars if they're any good at being airplanes, and they're underperforming and over-priced airplanes just because they can somewhat function as a car. Now, if Larry Page's flying car company is also lobbying to gut the FAA's ability to regulate his creation, that's a whole other can of worms.

I don't think personal flight devices are a bad idea, which is why I'm working on my own. Flying cars are so contradictory in construction and purpose that I can't help but get really peeved at any praise directed toward the endeavor. There are more factors than simply "can this 4 wheeler get airborne" to keep at top of mind.

Good luck getting a reasonably priced AME to keep the thing airborne.

>But better materials, autonomous navigation systems, and other technical advances have convinced a growing body of smart, wealthy, and apparently serious people that within the next few years well have a self-flying car that takes off and lands verticallyat least a small, electric, mostly autonomous commuter plane.

The latter half of that sentence is plausible. Flying cars are not. Sorry.

mawburn 9 hours ago 4 replies      
>We noticed that you're using an ad blocker, which may adversely affect the performance and content on Bloomberg.com. For the best experience, please whitelist the site.

Yeah, ok Bloomberg.

rl3 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Every time I see an article on flying cars, I can't help but be reminded of an old IBM commercial[0] from 2000.

Deliciously ironic considering it represented the fact that mainstream culture had all but written off the idea entirely.

[0] https://youtube.com/watch?v=vzm6pvHPSGo

dave2000 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
What would the authorities do to prevent these things, if they existed, from being loaded with explosives and driven into buildings? Even if the idea got off the ground and anyone (who could afford one) could start flying around, how many terrorist attacks would it take before they were outlawed? Do you think, having taken out the white house, the government would stand behind civilians rights to own and fly them? They'd not only ban them, they're probably restrict private use of drones and planes too.
rtpg 9 hours ago 6 replies      
What problems do flying cars solve? I know it looks cool but is there some huge thing that would get solved with this?
eblanshey 6 hours ago 2 replies      
It's great seeing a strong push toward aviation as a superior method of transportation. One of the side effects will be people gradual spreading out, away from huge city congestion, which is largely set up due to our transportation. It will enable us to live more in tune with nature, while not giving up the conveniences of having everything we need within short distance. I touched upon this in a blog post: https://medium.com/@eblanshey/the-world-is-undergoing-massiv...
thesimpsons1022 4 hours ago 2 replies      
am I the only one that doesn't want flying cars? I want to be able to look up and see the sky, not traffic. I don't want drunk drivers ramming into buildings. I don't want to have to build a horizontal wall over my backyard for privacy. what benefit do they even have? I'd rather just have fast ground transportation
dmritard96 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Surprised most articles haven't mentioned the flying car at CES:


andys627 6 hours ago 2 replies      
We'll all be happier and healthier and have more money for other stuff if we build our cities around walking, biking, and shared transit. Suburbs = unhealthy, inefficient, unhappy (it has been studied - look it up don't just comment reply "I love the suburbs and my driving my Model X everywhere").
jdhawk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wish these guys would focus on new small turbofans, like the Williams EJ22. Pairing one of those to something like a Cirrus/Piper/Mooney airframe would give fast, low fuel, reliable powerplant for existing airframes. Add in a sprinkling of new technology to simplify the flight controls and you'd be a lot closer than trying to boil the ocean with "flying cars"
Animats 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is encouraging. There's no fundamental problem with building a "flying car"; all sorts of strange VTOL craft were built in the 1950s. Many of them ended up in the Hiller Aviation Museum on 101 in San Carlos, CA.

The main problems with VTOL are stability, engine cost, and fuel consumption/range. Pure-thrust lift requires enormous power. Most of the successful pure-thrust VTOLs are jet fighters, which are mostly engine. The Harrier and the F-35 are examples.

Jet engines are expensive, and they don't get much cheaper below 6-passenger bizjet size. This is why general aviation still uses props. A lot of effort has gone into cheaper jet engines, but without much success. (Yes, there are large model aircraft jet engines, which is what the Flyboard Air uses. They're good for a few hundred hours, not the 10,000 hours between overhauls of aviation jet engines.)

Electric VTOL is going to be interesting. There are lots of electric drones, after all. Engine power to weight is good. Siemens has a water-cooled electric aircraft engine in test.

Battery energy density sucks. NASA is talking about aircraft where there's a gas turbine or two driving a generator, with lots of electric props. This could work out. Meanwhile, until the battery situation improves, you can build short-ranged flying cars. There's a cute little one out of China, apparently intended to get China's rich and powerful around Beijing's traffic jams.

joakleaf 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Related is this one-man drone by a Chinese company which should being test flights in Nevada:

"Drone" because the on board computer handles all the flying (just pick a destination).

pascalxus 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Taking to the air is a Great idea! It won't be limited by transportation infrastructure. And you don't have to place the stations along a 2 dimensional arc as with train stations. You can have any point to any point directional travel. I forsee a future where people call uber like air travel at their nearest heliport.

I'm really glad someone is working on this!

ape4 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If the (ground) car enabled urban sprawl... just think what the flying car would do for it.
yk 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I think that autonomous vehicles make flying cars possible. On one hand, learning to fly is difficult (the problem has a dimension more than driving on the surface) and people really do not like wreckage falling from the sky. So one needs a highly trained expert to pilot any flying vehicle, or a fully autonomous autopilot.

The second thing is energy, a plane needs to handle a lot more energy than a car, simply because it flies, so it is more expensive. If someone own a flying car, then they are investing a lot into a capability they use very rarely. With a Uber like model of shared transportation one orders a car only when one needs it. And it makes sense to have a flying car in the pool, even at a hundred times the cost of a regular vehicle. So each individual customer will use that flying car almost never, but there are many, and the ones who pay a $100 to shave five minutes of their time are probably in that moment very happy, that they have that option.

JoeAltmaier 8 hours ago 0 replies      
We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters

Silicon valley tries to create the future

amelius 10 hours ago 2 replies      
> Self-flying aircraft is so much easier than what the auto companies are trying to do with self-driving cars

I guess until everybody starts using them :)

marvin 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This thread has the potential to become hilariously cringeworthy in a decade or so. I'll be checking back in five years to see if lightweight VTOL aircraft are still an idea that is "obviously stupid because we've tried it before and it didn't work".

My guess is that the progress in batteries and electric motors will have made this concept a lot more feasible by then. At some point it will be a completely obvious idea which will make us shake our heads at the skepticism it had before.

amelius 10 hours ago 2 replies      
By the way, their job openings are all for B.S. and M.S. level (no Ph.D.), which seems a bit odd.
bobsil1 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Distributed electric propulsion is promising, check out the NASA papers.
skykooler 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Kind of odd how, with all the little schematics of flying cars on that page, Terrafugia is nowhere to be found.
Bromskloss 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> Self-flying

Meh. That would be taking the fun out of it, taking away the very point.

shmerl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
What about hoverboards?
nxzero 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Much like autonomous cars, feel the focus is on the tech instead of how the tech would impact culture.

Core issue is that flying spreads people out, and given how hyper connected people are, this makes no sense.

Real focus should on condensed living areas, not flying people around, which is a massive waste of energy.

googletazer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It almost has to be a vertical lift/land shuttle type of thing to work. I don't see it being able to land in cities any other way. Very cool though, freedom in a whole other dimension.
programminggeek 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I noticed this a while ago, that flying cars will only become real when self driving tech is progressed far enough that you have self-flying cars. Interesting to see that as a real project.
mtgx 10 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm sure this is something Elon Musk would be trying to make, too, because there's a lot of expertise that his companies already have to build something like this: autonomous tech, rocket engineers, batteries, electric powertrains, solar panels, and he has already said he would probably build an electric airplane next.

If only he had the money to experiment with something like this. That's why I'm hoping that Apple buys Tesla eventually and makes Musk its CEO and lets him do whatever he wants with those $150+ billion (maybe $300 billion by then) cash reserves.

And apparently he's already toying with flying stuff:


How to Track Customer Acquisitions: Customer Lifecycle, Sales Funnel medium.com
23 points by mykolahj  4 hours ago   1 comment top
mykolahj 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
thanks everyone for sharing this article. If you want get ask me a question about your startup in terms of marketing and product growth - email me: myk@myxys.com
Selfishness Is Learned: We tend to be cooperative unless we think too much nautil.us
85 points by dnetesn  8 hours ago   31 comments top 11
sbuttgereit 3 hours ago 3 replies      
There is a need to really consider definitions of selfish/cooperating here and skimming the article, the authors seem to take a narrow, short term focused set of definitions that aren't always applicable to these terms as they can be more broadly defined.

For example, I'm a married man. I am married because I want to share my life experiences with my wife. I want to cooperate with her in building those experiences and navigating through the options. I engage in this deep cooperation and sharing with another person precisely because I am selfish. I give money and sometimes my time to causes like the Red Cross and Institute for Justice, again, not because I'm naturally cooperative, but because I view, over the long term, that these organizations may actually either be helpful to me someday or will help mold the kind of society I want to live in: I'm being cooperative because this sort of cooperation is ultimately in my best interest... in other words, I'm being cooperative precisely because I am being selfish.

I could rob a bank to get cash now, cheat a merchant that gives me too much change, simply be rude to people because it feels good in any one moment, or... as the test in the article states... take from the communal pot without contributing anything. That's the sort of thing the article is calling selfish, but looking at my life as a whole, each one of those things actually aren't all that selfish; they simply satiate in the moment and comes with consequences if one things more clearly about it. Each of those "quick fixes" end up causing me more long term harm than good (always being on the run, making a society where dishonesty is the norm, encouraging everyone to be rude, encouraging less sensible generosity).

So yeah, we may cooperate as a default, we may make short-sighted self-interested decisions with a little thought, but selfish cooperation takes the most thinking.

aab0 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Makes sense from a bounded rationality point of view. We want to be as selfish as possible while escaping punishment and social ostracism; this requires modeling whether others will learn of selfishness, what the punishment will be, what the payoff will be, and so on. This is not necessarily quick or easy, so given the asymmetry in payoffs, it is reasonable to default to cooperation unless the additional thinking indicates that this is a safe time to defect.

(Or to put it another way: is it more reproductively fit to occasionally lie? Absolutely. But if you're going to lie, you need to be careful about it. So if someone surprises you with a sudden demand or question and expects an instant response, the safest answer on average will be the truth.)

bitL 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In cognitive neuroscience for robotics when trying to figure out how humans learn you'd find out that children are innately trying to be super helpful to others when they start perceiving other persons as unique beings separate from them.
fiatjaf 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
I stopped on "tax". What? Paying taxes is "cooperative"?
thesimpsons1022 3 hours ago 5 replies      
maybe this is off topic but all my cs major friends seem a lot more selfish than my non-cs friends. Ie instead of sharing or letting someone borrow something they want the exact cash value. Even if you've shared with them in the past with no strings attached.
dharmach 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The concept of cooperation also fits to the tolerance-intolerance debate.


lucio 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"Covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all" - Hobbes

I see Hobbes as closer to reality

vox_mollis 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
Do people still take sociology or psychology research seriously anymore, following the replication scandals?
gohrt 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Which is it: selfishness is "learned", or selfishness is the product of thinking. Could the same article have the headline below?:

"Sharing Is Stupid: We tend to be cooperative when we think too little"

NoMoreNicksLeft 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure that I think that we'll get desirable results if our motivations are "let's get people to do things without thinking them through".

Their initial example is taxes (and tax cheats). This is a good example for my point...

Paying taxes isn't morally righteous. Our government takes some large fraction of those and spends it on killing people. Killing them far away, with little justification (much of it absurd), no transparency or accountability, and what we have found out about all this is that it's all abominable.

If I could figure out how to cheat on my taxes, I would. I'd feel obligated to do so.

Their second example is hardly better, though it seems that way at first glance (and note how all of these seem simple at first glance). A young man saved a woman in a flood. And his gamble paid off. That time. He almost certainly risked much to save her, and those gambles rarely pay off. Much of the time, acting quickly without thinking gets people hurt and killed. Usually many more are hurt or killed than would have been if slow, deliberative thinking had delayed such rescue.

Then it veers into situations, where the agents are all mindless algorithms, and only the programmer/researcher/experimenter gets to decide what "beneficial results" means.

This reduces everyone in such a model to mindless automatons, where only the results of those in charge are considered. Is that what they want to turn us into? Maybe they can find some secret psychological button to make your concerns melt away, so that the only thing worried about are the wants of those who manage to find and poke the button? This should worry people.

draw_down 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Oops, I thought too much.
Bootcamps Are Lying to You medium.com
37 points by Dangeranger  1 hour ago   10 comments top 8
itake 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
Many people that attend code schools have no interest in getting a software engineering job. I think asking code schools to base their metrics on employment rates would have bad side effects.

This would cause schools to reject applicants that are interested in learning coding for alternatives means. These reasons range from Mom's wanting to learn so they could teach their children, wantrepreneur's wanting to build their MVP on their own, or just someone that is happy with their career path, but wants to take a break to learn coding for fun.

Do you think Mom's wanting to teach their children coding should be rejected from code schools, because they don't want to get a job and thus would hurt their numbers?

danreedx86 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of transparency from these bootcamps, it'd be a great way to vet them before committing $20k and several months of your time. It makes sense that bootcamps wouldn't be willing to divulge that information though, especially if their numbers aren't great.

But it feels a little unfair to hold the bootcamps completely responsible for people not being able to find jobs. Seems like people have this idea that just showing up is enough. It's not enough to just show up with a piece of paper like 'hey I finished a bootcamp/degree, gimme a job!'

I got my first job out of school with a combination of luck (knowing how to implement conway's game of life) and passion (a side project I had just shipped). Most every job after that has been because of passion. Whether or not you went to school for CS (or at all), or finished a bootcamp is completely irrelevant imho. I probably know more about von neumann architecture, big O and sorting algorithms than my friends without CS degrees... but I've worked with or admired plenty of people who never took a CS class and have mastered lots of things that I haven't. And I can definitely recall a few friends in undergrad who I was sure would go far and never found a single job cuz they sat around waiting for Larry Page to call them personally.

So yeah, tl:dr; school doesn't matter all that much if you're not motivated to continue learning. And if you don't enjoy programming enough to learn && experiment/play you're probably not gonna do well.

my_username_is_ 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks for actually getting into the details on graduation outcomes. I've considered doing a bootcamp but I've been held back by a lot of uncertainty about graduation outcomes. Being able to go through the raw data and find people like me is really helpful.

I would be interested in knowing more about the background of people before they joined. Do they have a STEM background, what was their job title before, how old are they/how long have they been working, etc. Also if you could categorize the types of companies they work for (startup, large tech companies, non-tech companies, etc.) that'd also be interesting to see.

Thanks for providing transparency to your program!

adrice727 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Reactor Core, the parent company of Hack Reactor, recently proposed a standardized methodology for the industry.


drewrv 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
In my mind including "tech-adjacent jobs" is a more interesting number. These programs attract a lot of professionals who are trying to add programing to their resume, but not necessarily become full time code monkeys.

A designer who can write html/css/js is more valuable than one who does not. A PM who cannot code is a nightmare to work with. Working with a marketer who can hook up their own jquery plugin is a godsend.

wonder_er 24 minutes ago 1 reply      
Title is a bit click baity, but I agree with the author's points.

He sees it as a negative thing, but I see it as a massive improvement on college/uni/grad schools, who wouldn't even know where to start with gathering/publishing this data.

Bootcamps are subject to market forces in a way most colleges are not, and it's initiatives like this (what the author is proposing) that give me a sense of optimism for how they'll evolve.

alienasa 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like how forthcoming you are in your report, and agree that all bootcamps should do the same.

Perhaps we'll see an effect where bootcamps that do high quality reporting will actually be chosen more frequently and thus push other bootcamps to do the same.

yaddayadda 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm a graduate of an after-hours web development bootcamp who wants to move to a full-time web dev job.

I certainly can't move to a full-time web dev job at a reasonable salary after the bootcamp I attended. If I was willing to intern for 6-12 months at minimum wage, I would be able to - but I could have done that without the bootcamp.

The bootcamp doesn't share stats, only a post-graduation "employment" percentage. Which is pretty meaningless, for example, I'm employed but not doing web dev.

Red Hat's Open Decision Framework github.com
64 points by alxsanchez  8 hours ago   4 comments top 2
na85 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is this Red Hat's attempt to hide their systemic Not-Invented-Here syndrome that results in monstrosities like Systemd?
stonogo 1 hour ago 2 replies      
This title has the highest irony-per-word ratio I've ever seen.
French court fines Uber, execs for illegal taxi service reuters.com
55 points by flexie  8 hours ago   44 comments top 7
rvanniekerk 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Personal anecdote, of course, but Uber saved my ass while I was in Europe (specifically Paris and Madrid).

Immediately upon arriving via train to Paris from London we were harassed by a number of sketchy looking individuals claiming to be "taxi" drivers, of course not speaking French I really had no way to validate the claims, they all became hostile towards me the minute I took my camera out.

I resorted to opening the Uber app and lo and behold had a validated ride within minutes. The service was exceptional and they even spoke English relatively well.

Fast forward 24 hours, I thought I had booked a flight out of the airport in the city about 20 mins drive, turns out my flight was actually out of the airport much further north of Paris.

I rushed to get an Uber and my driver was extremely friendly and not only brought me to the exact bus station I needed to be at, also showed me exactly which ticket to purchase and where to wait.

Never in my life have I received close to that level of service from a taxi driver.

A couple weeks later in Madrid we found ourselves pretty far away from our flat, not well equipped for the weather and ready to head back. We saw several advertisements for the local taxi services "ride sharing" app and decided to give it a shot. After jumping between a couple starbucks to find reasonable wifi, we ordered a taxi and proceeded to wait 20+ minutes for a driver to finally show up in the app as our pickup, however, the actual taxi was nowhere to be found. No text / call / messages in the app ever succeeded. Once again we resorted to Uber and had a painless experience.

I guess my point overall is that Uber offers a familiar service no matter what country I happen to be in. It's simply not viable for a foreigner to arrive in a new country, find out what ride sharing taxi service is allowed existence there, download the app, finagle my way through the most-likely non english friendly sign-up process and enter my personal banking details only to find out the service doesn't even work for whatever reason.

Don't get me wrong, I love traveling to new places and truly exploring a city without all the luxuries and convenience of home, but when I arrive in a new place with expensive items in tow, I'd MUCH rather pay for the convenience of a safe and familiar ride to get to my destination then risk getting scammed or taken advantage of otherwise, I also don't always arrive with local currency in tow and don't like paying exorbitant fees at major transport hubs.

remh 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Execs, Managers, etc. should be sent to jail when they break the law deliberately.Fines are not enough as if the benefit of breaking the law is higher than the fine, then there is no incentive to stop.

We've seen that happening with all the big corp cartels that just provision money from those benefits to pay the eventual fine.

The fact that the French Law here may be bad or wrong is not relevant to this point.

drakonandor 3 hours ago 2 replies      
> The court said in its ruling that UberPOP had caused a "durable disruption" of the transport sector, provoking violent protests by taxi drivers that had disturbed public order.

Fine Uber because taxi drivers are violent? makes sense.

spriggan3 4 hours ago 3 replies      
This was a criminal prosecution, so the execs will end up with a criminal record if they don't win their appeal though they won't go to jail. No need to say that with a criminal conviction in France, unless you have friends in high places, your management career is over.

They didn't design these disruptive policies, they obeyed the higher up exec in San Fransisco. Is it really worth risking a criminal record that won't go away for Uber ? I don't know... I hope Uber will reward them for their "loyalty" .

kartan 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Why does people think that software is beyond the law?

The secret services think that reading electronic communications is ok when the physical counterpart was not.

A company thinks that because they offer their services using and app they are beyond regulations, permits and other laws.

No, laws still should apply in the virtual world. And apps and the Internet have real world consequences. It's a shame that judges often are so slow to apply the law in this cases. And that so often they miss the point.

Now Uber should just do what any bricks and mortar business needs to do and get a license, operate inside the boundaries of the law and compete with taxis in a fair way to bring people good services.

philfrasty 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"...two managers....guilty of deceptive commercial practices and being accomplices in operating an illegal transportation service and violating privacy laws..."

Is this something that shows up in your personal criminal record? Or hurts the managers personally any other way?

Reason I am asking is because usually there is a clear legal separation between the legal-entity (company) and the people working for it. For example the legal-entity might go bankrupt but the people running it do not.

shitgoose 4 hours ago 1 reply      
We should admire the selfless relentlessness of French government trying to protect us from ourselves.
We won the battle for Linux, but we're losing the battle for freedom linuxjournal.com
290 points by alxsanchez  8 hours ago   181 comments top 19
kardashev 4 hours ago 3 replies      
From the comments it doesn't look like many read the article. Here's the tldr:

Free software won. Yay!However, what about hardware, infrastructure, and services? Oops. All those things have been become increasingly centralized. Centralization has diminished our privacy, and therefore our liberty. Time to put restrictions on corporations so we can have liberty again.


Now the only part I disagree with is the last part. Laws and regulations got us into this mess in the first place. These companies are huge because they can sue or prevent others from competing through laws and regulations. Guess who lobbies to create these laws in the first place? (It's not the little guy) The biggest problem is Intellectual Property (IP). Because of it we have DRM and many companies have very literal monopolies (enforced by government) on things. Apple has a patent on rounded rectangles for heaven's sake.

What we need is a decentralization of power, and a turn towards distributed systems. The best way to do that will be to eliminate IP. That will take some time, but we should do it gradually. By allowing people to "copy" it will create competition and weaken the monopoly-like position many of these companies hold. Power will fragment and decentralize. That should be the goal.

gaius 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Apple's OS X, which wouldn't be what it is if Linux hadn't already been the leading nix OS.*

Well that isn't true. NeXTStep was built on the 68k from 4.3BSD which originated on the VAX. It has no lineage in common with Linux, and in fact pre-dates it. And OSX now is by far the most popular workstation Unix.


legulere 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I think the problem is that the FSF's definition of freedom still stems from a time where everybody being a programmer was seen as a realistic and achievable goal.

The actual situation is that we have two groups that care about different things: Users and developers.

Users' biggest concern is that the software helps them achieve what they want to do. They care about restrictions like DRM if it hinders them in doing what they want to do. The only way free software can help here is that other people (developers) can remove those restrictions. Proprietary software can easily offer the same freedoms for users.

massysett 5 hours ago 4 replies      
"So what's our next fight?"

I don't have a next fight. If I'm going to fight for something, it's going to be something a whole lot more important than computer software. Free software is here to stay. Success has occurred. I'm not going to grope around for another fight. Instead I'm going to harness my software freedoms to write software that does what I need it to do.

dTal 6 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a great article, if a little slapdash on the details. I don't agree with the notion that we're "losing"; the reason is neatly exemplified by the HN front page:

 3. FreeBSD 10.3 officially supported on Microsoft Azure (microsoft.com) 138 points by tachion 6 hours ago | flag | 77 comments 10. Microsoft Edge WebGL engine open-sourced (github.com) 308 points by aroman 13 hours ago | flag | 80 comments 24. How the Windows Subsystem for Linux Redirects Syscalls (microsoft.com) 330 points by jackhammons 20 hours ago | flag | 243 comments
Microsoft. Open-sourced. Time travel from even 5 years ago and that HN front page would blow your mind. Industry-wide, it's more and more common now for "free" to be the default. Heck, complain about Android all you like, but for all that, the OS itself is miles more free than Windows. We actually owe this dire forking situation to the freedom Android affords - imagine if every fly-by-night laptop manufacturer felt comfortable rolling their own custom branded Windows with proprietary interface components.

I don't argue for complacency. We need to up our game with things like GPL compliance and reclaim the concept of a "distro", but on phones this time. But taking the long view, we're definitely "winning".

Hydraulix989 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty disappointed. If anything Silicon Valley really screwed up by achieving the exact OPPOSITE of what the FOSS movement was striving for.

The commercialization of software has resulted in these walled gardens of proprietary software, closed data, closed formats, etc.

It's a sad day, for example, when a large percentage of the population actually believes that Facebook is the Internet.

lmm 5 hours ago 4 replies      
We lost Linux. The big thing about Linux was that you could swap out pieces of it for better ones if you wanted. "Linux is about choice" - vi or emacs, KDE or Gnome and so on.

OSX doesn't have that. Android doesn't have that. And in these days of systemd, Linux doesn't even have that any more.

the8472 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think what's contributing to the whole hourglass thing is that browsers do not play nicely with native/low-level primitives. It's bascially yet another waist above the OS waist (browser APIs) and the IP waist (HTTP).

Develop a nice decentralized solution? Maybe it involves some UDP multicast? Forget the browser.

Want to have two devices on the network talk to each other? Bounce it through a cloud provider.

Want to use "everything is a file"-files? The browser's interaction with the filesystem is incredibly clumsy.

So if you wanted to use the full strength of linux/any other lower layers, this would hamper adoption.

Esau 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think that if you are concerned about freedom, then you need to use an OS that is not controlled a commercial entity. OS X, iOS, Windows, Android, ChromeOS, and Ubuntu all have issues; even though some of them are open source.
shmerl 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Linux has surely advanced, and in some areas clearly won. Not everywhere though. Desktop usage and gaming are still an uphill battle against incumbent monopolists.

I agree with the rest. Decentralization of services and usage of FOSS for them is critical for freedom as well. Consider what a major mess instant messaging still is. Despite all the years of innovation it's a horrible mix of non interoperable walled gardens (unlike e-mail). How can this mess be fixed and "next Facebook" be avoided exactly? Decentralized social networks exist, but they are still in infancy, and making them grow is not trivial.

But of course it goes beyond all that. More importantly, consider advancement of society towards some non too distant technological future. Do we want to see a grim cyberpunk like domination of governments+megacorporations meld which controls everyone's life through access to augmentations and technology of everyday things, or we want to preserve free society while still having advanced technology?

bluejekyll 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish he would have gone more into the design of the kernel and significant changes that are going to be needed to take advantage of the NVRAM based systems that are coming very soon. The I/O design needs to be completely overhauled.

It's probably going to be a great time to rewrite and resign portions of Linux, but I honestly don't think the community will be capable of doing a major architectural change. Kernel modules have been a great step towards modular design, and this needs to be pushed everywhere so that more changes can be isolated in the development process.

I've been a huge Linux (and GNU, most of what this article is about really is GNU, not Linux) user since being introduced to it in 1996, but as much as I love it, I do wonder if there are new options that will reveal themselves in the next few years that will better answer some of the modern hardware advancements. Linux is a beast of a system now, with a lot of technical debt and a hard to penetrate C code base, I hope it can evolve where it needs to, but I think it will require huge commitments from the community.

throw2016 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A tad premature one thinks and who is the we? Linux has been incubating a monster within its midst that goes by the name Redhat. This is the cathedral that was born in the bazaar with $2 billion in revenues, tight ties to the freedom loving US security industry and wielding massive influence thanks to its the ability to fund developers and projects to get things its way. If your fundamental altruistic principles depend on a commercial organizations goodwill your position is already comprised.

A cathedral is primarily concerned with self preservation and it will be naive to ignore how money drives decisions in the real world. A lot of the freedom that got Linux here and Redhat itself to its billion dollar revenues are now being slowly plucked away to entrench Redhat's continued dominance but this is not Redhat's fault. Any organization that got that big would do the same and it's the open source world's failure to anticipate and account for the disproportionate influence something like this would wield.

Even today most Linux organizations are industry bodies with no voice for the users, and in many circles there is open contempt for users nevermind its their commitment though some pretty dismal software that got you in a position that you can choose to ignore them in the first place. A project without users has no reason to exist.

As for Android how is it Linux? You can't run Linux on your Android phones. The GPU, hardware and drivers is locked down so tightly it makes Microsoft and Intel look like Stallman's soulmate when compared to Arm and its vendor ecosystem. And Google too, Android was designed to work around the GPL. Using Android to beat the Linux drum is galling and self defeating.

What we have is thousands of companies benefiting from Open source to build multiple billion empires. 20 years later there is not a single resource that tell you all the companies using open source and how they support it or give back. There is no transparency, pressure or even the felt need to give back. The newer lot of developers do not seem to even care about GPL though that could just be the audience here. Gloating about winning in the context seems misplaced even if it were true. It was never about winning but about choice.

Pica_soO 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The battle is for the heads, and the future battlefield are the minds of tomorrow. The defeating blow is that Microsoft owns now minecraft - the first experience of the hacker culture a kid could have today where tech has become magic. This "Do-it-yourself" could have educated a million freedom demanding, because limits not accepting citizens. Now its hugged to death.
zanny 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Meanwhile, Windows is still pretty much the only desktop OS for 99% of people, Nvidia has stolen large-scale compute with a holistically proprietary CUDA, and Google has hijacked the ecosystem and culture with Android and ChromeOS (the former by having vendors use the incredibly destructive model of forking the kernel and stuffing it with binary blobs rendering it stuck to that version on whatever device you have, and the later replacing userspace with Google's web properties exclusively).

> So it's hard for a generative OS to support whole stacks of hardware below and software above.

Is only true because of how Google broke Linux. If we had gotten all these garbage phone vendors to upstream open drivers rather than shove proprietary bullshit into every Android handset, Cyanogenmod would not be the only group even remotely capable of keeping up with legions of arbitrary kernels with tons of broken proprietary bits littering the market.

This post is more about the mindshare effect Facebook and Google properties have on people, but there is actually and honestly nothing we can do about that at this point. No killer feature or guarantee of privacy or distributed solution is going to break the network effect of Facebook or Twitter now. As long as we keep the social network alternatives like ostatus and diaspora alive and we can claw long and hard to pull some users there just to keep them afloat we can't really expect to do more.

But we can do a lot more on the hardware front. We are still crippled by proprietary firmwares everywhere[1], rampant with backdoors, and there is no mindshare there to worry about - all it takes is a concerted effort and focus and within several hardware generations we can reverse this dire course, and the consumers do not even need to notice it happening. But if we can get at least some viable computing platform without any trade secreted proprietary freedom-crippled bits that could be spying on you, stealing your info, or just not operating how you want, we could at least sit in our silo and preach from a hardened rather than rickety tower of ethics.

[1] http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/discussion/2016-April/01...

PS: Considering this is about the Linux anniversary on Linux Journal, it is worth mentioning the gross negligence in enforcing the GPL with Linux has contributed a lot to the ability for corporate market dominators to seize control. All those Nvidia CUDA servers depend on the passivity in addressing Nvidia's proprietary kernel modules, and all those Android phones depend on the apathy of Linux developers to ever go after the hardware manufacturers for obviously and blatantly violating the GPL on almost every Android handset by forking the kernel, integrating proprietary driver software, and then going so far as to modify the free parts in some ways incompatible with upstream to make it work with the proprietary parts. The day Linux GPL enforcement is a thing is one step closer to curtailing the power abuses by many of these large enterprises over their users because that is actually a straightforward way to do it.

ovt 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I page through, knowing already that there's a problem, to see what he's thinking in terms of solutions.

At the bottom I catch a reference to ProjectVRM. I follow the link and what I find is all bloggy and vague. If there's anything concrete in there, it's not brought together in front of the new visitor.

nxzero 6 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone that deeply cares about tech & freedom, truly feel most techies fail to see that that majority of the world does not see freedom as a priority.

While I do not know the answer, I do believe it's possible to find one.

Focus on building relationships first, then tech.

api 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Free <> Freedom

Since everything in OSS has to be free, there is no economic model. Eventually things with an economic model supersede or embrace/extend open ecosystems because they have the resources to do so. They also have the resources to address user experience, which is the most important thing unless your target audience consists of only hackers. (Even then it still matters.) Good UX is an immense amount of work, and it's the sort of work that devs tend not to find fun and therefore must be paid to do.

Until and unless there is an economic model for free-as-in-freedom, surveillance-ware and closed models will continue to dominate.

tacos 7 hours ago 3 replies      
We're also a lot older now and many realize the "us versus them" thing wasn't helpful. Shame the article opens with such a flattering retelling of a wonky strategy.

It was always the data, not the code. Try and find an open dataset for any interesting machine learning problem and you'll realize that while "freedom" was busy doing things like setting back the use of precompiled headers in GCC a decade and making it virtually impossible for an artist to get a copy of ffmpeg that handles all the file formats she needs, the real value remains the data.

We don't need 15 open source PDF viewers. We need open access to the papers. And even hippie scientists at Berkeley seem unwilling to share those for some reason. So odd given the heritage.

I don't care much about Google's half-baked machine learning library. Give me the 128k neural output from the 250TB of voice queries if you wanna be "open" and advance machine learning. Unsurprisingly they've got that locked up tight. But culturally you can make the argument that's very much "ours" just like government-funded research papers are.

Given interesting data, nerds will ALWAYS find a way to read it. Focusing on code was a bit of a mistake; that's cheap and you get it for free. And the gap between open software licenses and Creative Commons licensing always seemed odd.

officialchicken 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Like everyone, I want more freedom, not less: the battle should begin with a sane GPL version 4. See the MIT, BSD and LGPL licenses which provide more freedom over GPL3.
WorkRamp (YC S16) builds software to help companies train its teams themacro.com
17 points by stvnchn  4 hours ago   3 comments top
arshmand 3 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the founders from WorkRamp here. Happy to answer any questions.
San Francisco Is Preparing for Life After This Tech Boom bloomberg.com
119 points by getgoingnow  6 hours ago   104 comments top 10
matt_wulfeck 4 hours ago 6 replies      
Honestly, at this point it's too late to start "preparing" for a pop. I'm dubious the city can come up with 6 years of money to ride out any kind of economic turmoil without great pain.

Individuals can simply move to a better and cheaper location. There's many more mature and cheaper tech hubs now than there were in 2007. The city is stuck with itself and its tax liabilities. And in a place where you can't cut down a tree without posting 90 days notice, good luck rolling back some of that spending.

rm_-rf_slash 4 hours ago 8 replies      
Question for San Francisco tech workers: if there is a massive recession caused either locally (over-funded companies that don't make money going bust) or globally (China is expected to hold debt over 300% of GDP by 2020), what will you do to protect yourselves?

What languages or frameworks do you recommend learning? Which industries need engineers and are relatively insulated from economic downturns? If the Bay Area slams the brakes on growth, where will you move? What non-tech skills would you recommend brushing up on?

Perhaps most importantly: if things went bust today, how fucked would you be?

vmarsy 5 hours ago 3 replies      
That chart showing a big bump after 2000 and 2008 was intriguing, I was curious to know how it looked before 1996Does anyone knows what "bubble" happened in 1990 in San Francisco?


weatherlight 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder how this would affect Silicon Alley?
robertelder 5 hours ago 5 replies      
I think by definition, you can't 'brace' for 'a bubble'. That's the central part of the metaphor that the bubble 'bursts' as a sudden event at a time you can't prepare for. The act of anticipating for a 'bubble' and preparing for it is the exact kind of behaviour that prevents it from happening.
guyzero 3 hours ago 3 replies      
"States are also readying for bad times by squirreling away more cash in reserves."

Now both huge companies and local governments are hoarding cash. Which is problematic for the economy as a whole.

mc32 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is wise, just like guv Brown is being prudent with respect to tax receipts while his colleagues insist he's bring stingy in a time of plenty. Apparently, those people are unaware of the hole Grey Davis dug while riding high on the wave of late nineties tax receipts.
bishnu 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Implicit in this "life after" plan is that things are going okay in San Francisco right now, which is a pretty interesting conclusion to come to.
matt_wulfeck 4 hours ago 3 replies      
> The unemployment rate was 3.1 percent in April, the lowest since 2000, and home values are at a median of $1.1 million, the largest among the 50 biggest U.S. cities. Mayor Edwin Lee on May 31 released a record $9.6 billion budget proposal.

What goes up must come down. Here's my completely opinionated ideas of how an individual in San Francisco can ride out the economic change:

1. Sell your home.

2. Have a 6 month nest egg saved up.

3. Have an up-to-date resume.

The "sell your home" part is not valid in the near-zero interest rate world, which who knows how long that will last.

AstroJetson 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Very nice to see they have a rainy day fund. Watching the city government here they really believe the TV show title "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" Wish governments were paying attention to past history
Show HN: Real Time Users Add a real-time user counter to your site bycontrast.co
46 points by fredrivett  10 hours ago   36 comments top 9
nevi-me 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not just use websockets? I use socket.io on my site. I keep track of socket IDs in memory, if a connection is lost, I get a disconnect event, and vice versa. Socket events are sent to users when the number changes.

I manage the frequency of socket emits using RxJS, to prevent sending too many changes to users.

https://movinggauteng.co.za, there's a counter at the top of the page.

EDIT: Only saw a comment about why the OP used Ajax after posting this.

subie 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is using ajax calls on a loop the best way to track users on a site? I'm curious because when I look at pages using google analytics I don't see any repeating requests in the network console. Does google mask the requests or use some other protocol?
Olscore 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Bringing hit counters back in fashion, eh?
fredrivett 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey all.

Last week Marc Kohlbrugge launched https://highscore.money/. Following that, he sent out a tweet, asking if anyone knew of a good real time user counter to add to his site.


No-one did, so we made one.

Real Time Users is just that. We made it this weekend. I wrote a quick post introducing it, so feel free to look at that for more details.


Feel free to ask any questions, I'll be about all day.

pech0rin 4 hours ago 1 reply      
https://bycontrast.co/ is just a "hello world", is there a normal site for that
codepie 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it just me or this website is heavy on CPU? Increased my CPU usage by 50%.
llamataboot 3 hours ago 1 reply      
No link to the code on github? (or gitlab or wherever?)
shujito 5 hours ago 1 reply      
What's the backend made of?
Gys 7 hours ago 3 replies      
So actually nobody bothered to Google for that ?

https://www.google.com/search?q=user+counter brings many websites offering this in various fonts, sizes and colors.

But then again, 'good' can be very subjective...

Secure Hardware and Open Source: An Alternative to Java Card medium.com
46 points by murzika  10 hours ago   15 comments top 5
lisper 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a fully open secure hardware device:


(Please don't submit this link to HN. I want to stay somewhat stealthy until I've had a chance to write an introductory article.)

At the moment it's only a prototype. I have done a very small production run, so if you want one to experiment with, contact me. I'm planning on doing a kickstarter to fund a real production run.

pjmlp 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So what measures does this "secure" C alternative offer against memory corruption to be positioned as better option than Java Card?!
mkesper 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is relevant for things like OpenPGP Card (http://g10code.com/p-card.html) etc. Running free software on practically non-researchable proprietary platform is worrying.
pwlb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's gonna be hard if you really want security. Card developers put a lot of effort into securing operations against sidechannel pertuberation, sidechannel and many more attacks, that opensource developers will hardly be able to handle on theeir own.
TD-Linux 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Was there a justification why the Ledger Blue still has a proprietary HAL?
FreeBSD 10.3 officially supported on Microsoft Azure microsoft.com
204 points by tachion  13 hours ago   121 comments top 10
kefka 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Let me explain what recently happened while testing Azure RemoteApp.

I was put in charge in comparing RemoteApp to our Citrix cluster, feature compatibility, and cost. Now, I'm part of a university so that's "negotiated". We're also part of I2, so data ingress/egress should be free as per our site contract. (Yeah, it amounted to $5, but we were billed for it against our current enterprise agreement).

I worked with a MS Engineer to set everything up. I set cost limits to kill service if we go over $200 (past the free trial).... Well guess what? They only give emails, not kill service. Your account will still accrue no matter what. The engineer said that it could kill service. So, I had limits set to 'alert me'.

Until 2 months ago. They switched what was the Beta Portal to the main portal. Doing this eliminated even my alerts I had. The account accrued around $2800, with NO emails, No alerts, and NO questionable billing calls regarding 'non-normal computing practices'.

I'm finishing up a paper and a post-mortem regarding this incident. Obviously my university can absorb this, but the points stand:

1. There is no adequate way of controlling your bill

2. Billing calculations are done with many hours of lag-time. You don't know the zinger you just got until later.

3. There is NO fraud policy... Unless you count "Too Fucking Bad" as the policy.

teamhappy 12 hours ago 2 replies      
FreeBSD is getting a lot of love recently. That's awesome.
rbanffy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I expected a new version of Microsoft Xenix since the 80's ;-)
attilagyorffy 12 hours ago 0 replies      
ha, funnily just one day before code freeze of freebsd 11 :) nevertheless it's great that freebsd is getting more attention these days.
pmh 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Blog post from yesterday about the release: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/freebsd-now-available...
vmp 8 hours ago 1 reply      
And yet they sadly still do not accept prepaid credit cards. :(
znpy 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I am always a bit surprised by comments that give Microsoft a bad reputation no matter what it does.

The computer science field has always been "ruled" by ideas and philosophies, but in the end a company is a company, and the ultimate goal of a company is to make money.

It isn't weird or evil that Microsoft is trying to make money using whatever mean it can use.

By the way, it's crystal clear that a considerable Microsoft is pivoting to become a cloud provider and in that sense the most obvious thing to do is to provide developers with all of the tools they might need.

Kudos to Microsoft for being able to perform such a direction change.

Plus consider that competition usually means lower prices for customers.. We should be happy that new players are diving into the cloud business.

avodonosov 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Microsoft is becoming a corporation of goodness? (Windows Subsystem for Linux, now that)
11 hours ago 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The HN crowd is changing. They don't want to hear about the importance of FOSS. I just got downvoted into oblivion for talking about eee, with the same old tired logical fallacies being thrown around (but what about apple!, but at least it's open source! but that was the 90s! microsoft is different now!)
gorm 12 hours ago 1 reply      

Legal Terms

2016 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Life in the Peoples Republic of WeChat bloomberg.com
53 points by petethomas  11 hours ago   33 comments top 9
pavel_lishin 6 hours ago 2 replies      
> We noticed that you're using an ad blocker, which may adversely affect the performance and content on Bloomberg.com. For the best experience, please whitelist the site.

Your stock performance, maybe, but certainly not my browser's performance.

ontouchstart 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Yesterday I was on a voice chat with a friend in Shenzhen for FIVE hours without a hiccup. Imagine how much it would cost on AT&T.

Although it is already hard to picture a WeChat group of 500 members, I just learned that in China, the size of QQ group can have up to 2000 members!

Welcome to the People's Republic of Big Data. :-)

vex 6 hours ago 7 replies      
Anyone know if there's been any sort of security audit for WeChat? I'm basically forced to use it and I'm sure the Chinese government must've put some kind of backdoor in it.
klue07 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, it seems life has changed quite a bit in China than what it was like when I was there (2002-2011). The author mentions that everything is using Wechat for e-payments and QR codes are every where. I wonder with such high rate of adoption and change, how secure every thing is.
akeck 3 hours ago 0 replies      
yaourt 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't want a chat app to be an operating system. I prefer to have things separated, since that makes them easier to manage(for me). I spent some time performing a penetration test against a service that would hook into WeChat, and found the security atrocious. I wouldn't touch anything related to WeChat so long as I can help it. Haha, this is sort of like the modern-day Emacs.
neves 4 hours ago 1 reply      
In Brazil, WhatsApp is an app like this. If WeChat is what WhatsApp may become, it looks Facebook will drag them down. WhatsApp have payments (that nobody use), but some of the features, I believe, Facebook would forbid, like enterprise accounts.

What's the antonym of synergy?

dingo_bat 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I dunno what's wrong but the lady's voice in the video is highly annoying. The content was good though.
ehmuidifici 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Man, this site is heavy, I couldn't read this news anymore. Why heavy ads with autoplay on?
Being sued, in East Texas, for using the Google Play Store [video] youtube.com
1462 points by egb  1 day ago   384 comments top 64
mdip 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Patent trolling issues aside (they're valid, but discussed and I'm just another one of the "software patents suck guys"), I'm surprised that Google doesn't provide protection for developers using the Play Store. It's a very critical service for developers writing code for Android -- though it's not always required it is if you want your app to be seen.

They certainly don't have to and I'm not sure if Apple or Microsoft do or not for their equivalents, but I know Microsoft offers patent indemnification for a lot of things these days. It would be in Google's best interest to have a patent indemnification policy for Google Play store.

I'd love to know what the actual numbers look like but I'd be willing to bet that the costs are extremely low since it works as a deterrent to these kinds of lawsuits. Patent trolls go after these lone developers because they'll settle rather than incur the cost. It's an easy buck. This guy didn't make Google Play, he didn't write the code that "supposedly" infringed on the patent. He simply used it because that's the only way for practical purposes to publish an Android app. And since the patent covers a large set of features that Play uses for licensing, he couldn't have published through Play and not infringed in the eyes of Uniloc. The law allows anyone in the chain (including the guy playing with the Flight Simulator) to be sued for infringement, but they'd be very unlikely to do this kind of garbage if they knew Google would bring their legal team into the fold. By not protecting their developers, Google has a deterrent to people using their platform.

tomglynch 1 day ago 7 replies      
A comment from a reddit thread states: The gist behind this case is that the Judge's son owns patent law firm in East Texas where they often represent both sides. This guy doesn't live in East Texas. However, the dad lets these stupid cases into the town to bring business to his son. Really shady.

I agree with clavelle's comment. It's not so much the laws, but the system that allows this to occur.

Link here: https://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/4n08jj/developer_i...

hhsnopek 1 day ago 7 replies      
I find it oddly funny how Google hasn't stepped in to support their "clients", I'd think they'd help shutdown patent trolls so developers can continue to improve and distribute applications
6stringmerc 1 day ago 8 replies      
So, no attempts to bring Davis in front of the Texas BAR association for unethical practices?

I'm also curious why numerous developers have not demanded an Insurance Protection Product / Plan that would take a premium in return for subrogation (defense) if a frivolous Patent Suit is filed. I'm rather certain the market exists and while it may be for larger businesses or players, developers forming a Mutual Company and writing on some big name AM Best A paper (or even going to Lloyds) could be helpful.

Anybody know of such an organization or idea?

I guess my line of thinking here is that "Yes, this is totally unfair and rigged" and then move on to "How do I work around the issues, at least to a limited extent, to avoid these pitfalls?" Sign me up for reform, sure, I'm all for it. Until then, I don't like banging my head against walls, I prefer to figure out ways around or over them.

mmaunder 1 day ago 1 reply      
Also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8XknFl1l_8

He visits East Texas and shows that the 'offices' of the 'companies' that hold each patent are empty shells.

josaka 1 day ago 0 replies      
The patent in the video is US 6857067. Claims 1, 20, 22, 30, 31, 67, 107, and 108 were invalidated by the Patent Office in an administrative proceeding, but claims 21 and 22 survived that particular challenge. See IPR2013-00391, Final Decision. Cost for these challenges is around $300k (and often much less for troll suits), rather than the $2-5 million that is typically quoted for district court cases.
vosbert 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can these services just be disabled in East Texas to avoid their jurisdiction? At the very least, it would force the patent trolls into more neutral territory.
comboy 1 day ago 5 replies      
Couldn't Google offer defense in such cases for its users? Every case is the same so it shouldn't even be that expensive (I guess, IANAL), and it would discourage future cases because the troll would know he will have to fight against Google.
corysama 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's a vid from the same guy last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbyW_QS8Ef8

He had just won a three year litigation with the same group, after which they pointed out that even though he had won a battle, they had enough BS patents to keep him in court for several lifetimes. He is currently in year 4 out of a projected 450.

dingo_bat 1 day ago 4 replies      
Someone with money and lawyers needs to sue the state of Texas for allowing a father and son duo to practice in such a conflict of interest fashion. This is a clear cut case of corruption.
kevinpet 1 day ago 0 replies      
I happened to read this article about recusal recently and I don't understand how some of these allegations wouldn't be explicit grounds for recusal, specifically the son being a lawyer with a firm that tries cases in the father's court.

https://popehat.com/2016/06/06/lawsplainer-when-must-federal... Article is in the context of Trump, but you needn't let that turn you off.

eonw 1 day ago 0 replies      
i was the victim of a patent trolling company called acacia research. they sent me a bunch of legal threats but had my name spelled incorrectly, which happened to give away who had sold my info to them(in exchange for dropping the case a certain entity traded all of their affiliates info to acacia). i was 19 at the time and laughed it off. nothing ever came of it, but in hindsight it certainly wasn't a laughing matter. in the end i think someone staged a pretty good defense and crushed their patent.
dougmccune 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is there a unified place one can donate to that people think is the best way to put some money toward real change in the system? I'm happy to send some money to the EFF, but I'd up that 100 times if I knew it was going 100% toward killing patent trolls and I thought it was the best organization to fight that fight.
FesterCluck 1 day ago 0 replies      
Claudus 1 day ago 2 replies      
JakeWesorick 1 day ago 3 replies      
Really seems like Google/Apple should make some kind of statement calling out how ridiculous these lawsuits are.
aurizon 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only way you can deal with trolls is to slay them. Attribution of costs does not work. Most trolls consist of lawyers who create paper work and file it. They do not hire outside law firms at $500+ per hour - the ones their victims are forced to hire. The only tru costs they have are the file fees, which East Texas keeps low. That town is totally a parasitic town and they award wins to trolls to keep the town in cash that trickles down.

I say slay the trolls, slay the judges, slay them all - by legal means if possible. I would love to find an old Texas law that allows trial by combat with no substitutions...

curiousgal 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm no advocate of violence but this makes you wonder about the ethics of beating such guys up. The legal system seems pointless.
barkingdog 1 day ago 2 replies      
A while back, I did some research into patent trolls, and came across the history of NPE firms that do DPA (defensive patent aggregation), like RPX [0]. What surprised me from a game theoretical perspective was how murky things got. These situations can be tough on entrepreneurs and seem to create space for said entrepreneur to purchase protection in the form of patent aggregation to mitigate against potential devastation caused by this. On one hand, I can see how it can amount to a protection racket. On the other hand, the existence of patents and how they relate to property are pretty complex. This TechCrunch article about RPX does a good job of going into further detail about this, but truth be told, I am even more on the fence after reading this. I agree that patent reform would be necessary to rectify this situation, but in the meantime, I can't think of a better alternative. The cynic inside me can't help but think that business is always it's own kind of war, sadly.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RPX_Corporation[1] http://techcrunch.com/2008/11/24/is-rpxs-defensive-patent-ag...

jiiam 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's good to raise awareness, especially on the users of the play store (I mean, the developers).

For example I learned a lot from this video: in case I decided to sell an app on any store, I'd better contact my lawyer to get advised on where and how to incorporate my company.

I don't know if it can be easily resolved by incorporating in another country, but the difficulties of an international litigation should discourage trolls.

kukx 1 day ago 3 replies      
What about making an "anti patent troll" website that will allow users to share their legal approaches and documents and the rest of the defense materials. Some of them may be reusable. I guess it should significantly limit the legal costs for everyone and improve their position against trolls, right?
djsumdog 1 day ago 2 replies      
America needs to follow New Zealand's example:

Ban software patents!

rwhitman 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Yet another example of the consumer software industry being completely impotent when it comes to defending itself.

Patent trolls file these frivolous lawsuits because they make millions and suffer zero consequences for their actions. Why? Because there is no industry trade group representing the software industry with any sort of teeth. They know software developers have money, and they know software developers are absurdly weak when it comes to defending themselves. Software developers are easy prey.

Other than the EFF who is out there to represent us with any measure of real leverage over the legal process? Who is out there with the muscle to make patent trolls and software unfriendly lawmakers have second thoughts when targeting developers?

With no lobbies or trade associations with any sort of power out there representing consumer software, anyone with even minor influence over government can simply walk all over software developers, again and again and again. The consumer software industry has enormous amounts of cash at it's disposal, surely a few cash rich companies can pool enough resources together to kick off a trade association worthy of punching back, hard

dak1 22 hours ago 1 reply      

"Ric Richardson is an Australian inventor. He is the holder of multiple granted patents including the Uniloc patent US5490216 and the Logarex patent 6400293. Although he spent twelve years in California to promote and develop products produced by Uniloc, Richardson grew up in Sydney and currently resides just outside Byron Bay.

He is the founder of Uniloc, a company based on the technology he first patented in 1992."

Here's his picture from the Uniloc web site:http://uniloc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/ricrichardson.p...

He's apparently insanely talented, having "invented" the panic button, the visual voice recorder, the 3G skype phone, the secure browser, the universal database, the carbon scrubber, the book dispensor, "media objects", the "Internet Computer", QR Codes, DRM, a password replacement system, TV muting, and several dozen other devices, just in the past 16 years alone.[1]

[1] https://sites.google.com/site/ricricho/ric-s-inventions

TheMagicHorsey 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The American patent system is a dead weight drag on the American software economy. The quality of software patents is atrocious, and the value of the tiny fraction of good patents in this space does not make up for the Billions lost to trolls and the costs of administering the system.
fouric 1 day ago 2 replies      
While I applaud what Austin Meyer is doing by raising awareness about patent trolls, does anyone here but me wish that the content had been made available in some sort of text medium instead? I can't think of any important parts of the video that couldn't have been reasonably conveyed through the use of text.
masswerk 23 hours ago 2 replies      
What to do about this?

I'm told, you may be put to trial in East Texas, if you're selling your goods or services there. So, why not stop selling to East Texas and let them settle the resulting collision of interests themselves?

tronium 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interestingly, the login button doesn't even work at uniloc.com, and if you look in the source, there's a ton of commented-out paragraphs that say stuff like "<h2>The spirit of innovation is alive and well at Uniloc.</h2>".
JustSomeNobody 1 day ago 1 reply      
How has East Texas not been shut down already?
touchofevil 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Would incorporating your tech company in England instead of the USA protect your company from these patent troll lawsuits? It's extremely easy to start a company based in England, even as a US citizen living in the USA. With the patent trolling this out of control in the US at the moment, would basing your company abroad offer you any protection?
cft 1 day ago 0 replies      
One practical thing one could do is to forward this to an influential tech journalist, ideally to a mainstream publication that has a technology section, like CNN or WSJ.
captainmuon 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's only so far a justice system can get dysfunctional before people say fukitall and it looses its legitimacy. It's not just patents, civil forfeiture is another thing that comes to mind and I'm sure there more.

I imagine if in future somebody gets such a patent lawsuit, they'd just rip up the letter and throw it away. Police comes to carry out court orders because they decided in absence? "Sorry officer, the reason you're here is just patent bullshit." - "Oh well, I won't lift a finger for these idiots. Sorry for bothering you, have a nice day!"

Or a more extreme reaction: already in this thread, a couple of people are fantasizing about violence, hiring a hitman and so on. I realize it is mostly meant jokingly, but self-justice is another effect of a justice system that's lost legitimacy.

Rule-of-law is a great thing to have, but it only works if these laws are somewhat reasonable and in accord with peoples moral values...

finstell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Uniloc has this piece of Google Maps screenshot hosted at their web server. Isn't this not allowed? http://www.uniloc.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Screen-shot...
owaislone 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Will Peter Thiel help? These trolls are actually destroying lives.
zoner 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So do not register your company in the USA, otherwise you have to deal with patent trolls.
Sharma 21 hours ago 0 replies      
How about creating a petition here about this issue and we all sign it?


froo 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Someone really needs to create a patent that defines methods of patent trolling, so every time one of these scumbags starts a lawsuit you can sue them.
cgtyoder 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"I'm not here to raise awareness! Ok, yes, maybe that's what I'm doing."
abrookewood 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's written coverage of the situation in case you don't have time to watch the video: http://www.technobuffalo.com/2016/06/07/x-plane-flight-simul...
tronium 1 day ago 1 reply      
Question: Is a lot of the backend supposed to be available through going directly to the wp-content? If you go to uniloc.com/wp-content/, there's backups, images, plugins, and even a .sql file...
blubb-fish 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about a patent about placing the right foot into a solid hollow object with three to four cylinder shaped objects (with low height to radius ratio) separating that hollow object from the surface of the earth - yeah - and well, then driving with it ... will have to think about how to make that sound smart and original.

How is this even for real - why is Google not putting an end to it?

bnycum 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I live less than an hour from Marshall, TX. Maybe an hour and a half from Tyler, TX. I'd love to help in any way I could, but since I'm not a lawyer I bet anything I could do is slim to nothing.
jitix 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Somehow this all seems illegal. I'm not that familiar with the US law so can somebody explain if the defendant can claim that the judge has a conflict of interest and is not fit to handle the case because his son profits from it?
veeragoni 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone patent "the idea of having a patent" and Sue these companies in Hawaii.
dematio 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If Peter Thiel could do it, why not Google? It does not cost much for Google to invalidate the patent.
VonGuard 23 hours ago 0 replies      
OK HN, get out there and find this man some prior art so we can all just put this company out of business...
mholt 1 day ago 0 replies      
"... defend myself for committing the crime of ..."

But a lawsuit is a civil case, not a criminal case, right?

floatalong 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As angry as this video makes me, I'd point out that we've been making some progress in the fight against trolls. Yes, they're still a problem, but some things that have weakened them:

The Supreme Court's ruling in Alice v. CLS Bank, which dealt a fatal blow to a lot of software patents out there (especially the awful, vague and overly broad patents that trolls love so much). The Supreme Court reaffirmed that merely "adding a generic computer to perform generic computer functions" does not make an otherwise abstract idea patentable. [0] This ruling helps get rid of cases earlier. While it doesn't kill off patent litigation, it makes it easier for us to fight low-quality assertions. More importantly, this puts a tougher filter for prosecution of new patent applications, the vast majority of which are dumb and overly broad.

Inter Partes Review (IPR) proceedings, which are rather expensive (average $278,000) [1], but are much cheaper than litigation. Third parties can use IPRs to challenge patent claims (patentability) based on prior art patents and publications. In the case of Austin Meyer's patent defense, many of the patent claims were invalidated through this kind of proceeding, and petitioned by a consortium (Distinctive Developments, Ltd., Electronic Arts Inc., Gameloft S.E., Halfbrick Studios Pty Ltd., Laminar Research LLC, Mojang AB and Square Enix, Inc.). [2]

Heightened pleading standards. Before December 2015, it used to be that trolls could sue dozens of companies with cookie-cutter complaints, citing no real facts, and put on pressure for settlements by threatening lengthy and costly discovery proceedings. But thanks to decisions in Iqbal/Twombly, complaints must plead facts and recite aspects of the accused product that are alleged to infringe. This butchers the spam lawsuit tactic, and the day before this went into effect, trolls filed a one day record for new suits. [3] Shameful, yes, but it's helped clarify standards governing motions to dismiss.

[0] https://www.eff.org/files/2014/06/19/alice-corp._v._cls-bank...

[1] https://www.rpxcorp.com/2015/07/02/iprs-reality-amid-the-pyr...

[2] search patent number 6857067 and document 37 at https://ptabtrials.uspto.gov

[3] http://fortune.com/2015/12/02/patent-lawsuit-record/

iLoch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is the process of filing a patent patented?
Alupis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Judge Leonard Davis presides over a large amount of these "Patent Troll" cases, and his son (!!) Bo Davis is a Lawyer who represents these very same Patent Trolls in court!

If that's not a racket, I don't know what is.

stevesun21 22 hours ago 0 replies      
WTF! This is ridiculous. later these people might start sue people use cell phone.
nichochar 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome to america
thinkcomp 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The docket for the lawsuit in question is here:


BuckRogers 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If Google won't step in and litigate the patent trolls into poverty, ruining everyone's life who is involved and possibly even promising to ruin their children's and grandchildren's lives long after the actual patent trolls are dead...

that would stop it.

But in the meantime, guess I'll just be writing webapps.

johansch 1 day ago 0 replies      
How do you americans still allow East Texas to be a part of the United States? They're clearly rogue?
lintiness 1 day ago 1 reply      
welcome to a political system (and indeed a world) run by lawyers.
clavalle 1 day ago 8 replies      
People will mention the problem with patents but I see another, perhaps bigger, problem:

We do not have equal access to our judicial system in the United States.

If you have money, you have the power to legally hold people with less over a barrel. That exploitable inequality is poison for a well functioning society. That is the problem that needs solving.

joshbaptiste 1 day ago 2 replies      
TLDW - Patent troll sues Xplane creator after he migrated his app to the Google play store. They claim they own the general idea of the Google play store. Law firms create these cases for billable hours for their lawyers and some of their parent judges in Texas. Patent trolls and law firms in the end want to receive a settlement by targeting app creators and not Google themselves who are well equipped to defend themselves, http://www.thepatentscam.com/ .
1 day ago 1 day ago 1 reply      
And this people, is what you get for $5 when you buy SEO services from UpWork.com
KON_Air 23 hours ago 0 replies      
All the Mobile Marketplaces are on fire. Nice.

Posted from my Windows Phone 8.1

superbatfish 1 day ago 1 reply      
At least that totally rad cliff diving video that YouTube queued up afterwards was a nice chaser.
davemel37 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's time to call in John Oliver...He's our last and only hope!
joshuaheard 1 day ago 2 replies      
A couple of misconceptions in this video. Patent infringement is not a crime. A son lawyer appearing in front of his judge father would not be allowed for conflict of interest in most circumstances.

That being said, patent trolling is obviously a problem, and legislation to fix the problem is making its way through Congress.

slmyers 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if this would help, but I think we should all tweet a link to this video clip to John Oliver.


or maybe this twitter account


Why I turned down $500K and shut down my startup medium.com
593 points by jason_tko  21 hours ago   163 comments top 38
timoth3y 17 hours ago 14 replies      
Hi. Tim here.

I'm delighted that this article struck such a chord. I'll try to answer the most common questions here. I wish I could answer everyone directly.

1) I called it off before anyone sent money or quit their jobs. The only one who lost money or a job because of ContractBeast was me. If the money was in the bank and the team on board we would have gone ahead. That's why I had to make that decision when I did.

2) I'm not saying there was no solution. There might have been, but the team and I could not find one. Think of it this way. You and a team decide to summit a mountain. It's a high-risk endeavor. After weeks of going over your maps and equipment you just can't see a plausible way up. Do you call it off or set out hoping you'll be able to figure it out. It doesn't mean no one can do it. I means I could not do it with that team and that equipment.

3) Why didn't we leverage the contract approval features that customers loved? We tried. The problem was that those kinds of approvals were not core workflow for SMBs. It was useful when importing contract templates, but was not used much after that. Nice feature but not important enough to get companies to sigh up for multiple seats, which is what we needed.

4) Whats going to happen to the code and to Tim? No decisions yet. I'm open to suggestions on both counts.

santoshalper 19 hours ago 1 reply      
It sucks when you realize you have built something that users like, but they don't really NEED. I like the good habits analogy - I built several great workflow apps for a Fortune 500 company in the past few years, but discovered most users don't really want the yoke of workflow and there wasn't enough immediate lift to tempt them.

Sorry man. Good call not to waste a year of your life.

zer00eyz 19 hours ago 2 replies      
The underlying idea behind what he did here is sometimes called Ethnography. There was another great article a while back on this going on at adobe/photo shop: https://medium.com/startup-study-group/my-two-years-as-an-an...

As far as tools go, ethnography can be very powerful in the right hands.

capkutay 18 hours ago 5 replies      
"I was deciding whether this venture was worth committing to another year of 70+ hour weeks. I need a higher level of certainty than investors do because my time is more valuable to me than their money is to them. Investors place bets in a portfolio of companies, but I only have one life."

That's the key quote in the article. It's a fair decision from his standpoint but I wonder if saying that will lead investors to question his determination in the future (if he tries a new venture). I suppose the investors could also appreciate that he didn't want to waste more of their money if he didn't believe in the product.

lordnacho 15 hours ago 4 replies      
"When users are unhappy but cant explain exactly why, they often express that dissatisfaction as a series of tangential, trivial feature requests."

This bit resonates the most with me. I worked on a project worth little traction where we'd keep getting feature requests from the client facing team members for things that were of minor value but sometimes major effort. It grinds you down over time as you realise there's no real demand. Eldorado isn't over the next hill.

Sometimes it feels like the people giving feedback are just too eager to please you with positive feedback.

spectrum1234 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great article. However given its by a ~4 time founder the logic to shut it down doesn't apply to most people reading it (first time founders).
encoderer 19 hours ago 6 replies      
I have to say, I don't agree with this part at all:

"But most of the time, customers dont really want the the features they are asking for. At least not very badly."

Customer feedback drives an absurd amount of our roadmap at Cronitor. We have a good idea of the many shortcomings of our product and are constrained primarily by resources in developing it faster. When a customer -- especially somebody on a trial -- puts their thumb on the scale of a specific flaw or deficiency, we look at it as an opportunity to seriously delight that user and at the same time level-up the product for all users after. We don't build everything asked for, but I would say "most of the time, customers know exactly what they need, and we try to give it to them within our ability."

A specific example for us would be Etsy, who uses Cronitor on a part of their business and during evaluation asked for a couple API endpoints to expose more advanced functionality.

angelbob 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This story has a ridiculous amount of integrity. You did what was right, even when convention went the other way.

Future investor reaction to it will tell us what they think of actually bucking convention to do the right thing.

hyperpallium 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess that's why this top-down market hasn't been disrupted. This guy is seeing clearly. Cutting the old makes way for the new - it would be better if I did this with my own zombie business.

And now, the armchair brainstorming: focus on the "contract review and approval" immediate gratification and marginal user wins - if not sufficient benefit for them to buy, make it multi-month free trial, make it a year. After some "months of use", users get the delayed gratification. They become your sales force from within, and CIO's notice the long-term benefits, validated within their own company, and mandate its use top-down.

It's a long slow burn and mightn't work.

spupy 4 hours ago 2 replies      
"Ive started four companies in the past with a mixture of exits and bankruptcies, so I understand that this is what startups are supposed to do, [...]."

As someone completely unfamiliar with the world of startups, this sentence baffles me. If this describes your track record, how do you even get funding? Obviously I'm not an investor, but this sentence alone is a massive red flag.

e12e 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It sounds like most of the customers had a flawed process - or perhaps an actual process that was different from the process they felt they should have. Perhaps they were even in breach of some guidelines legal had drawn up, or even laws or statutes on acquirement.

And it sounds like the product automated a good, sound process. One that was different from the customer's actual, current process.

I don't know how one could hope to sell a new process (incidentally along with an automation framework) without massive training, and, well, consulting.

I'm a little surprised they didn't take the opportunity to pivot. Maybe none of their beta users were interested in the 100x(?) investment buying such a package would cost? It sounds like they found a different market, smaller in number of customers, larger in revenue - and chose to walk away because: software is fun, human process is hard and boring?

It's a valid choice to be sure, but it strikes me as a little odd. I thought the idealised, naive idea of a computer system being more important than the human systems it enables was more of a delusion limited to Silicon Valley, than a general problem.

I'm reminded of how model-view-controller was internally known as model-view-controller-user, and how shortening it to mvc[1] was probably a terrible mistake that obscured most of the valuable idea behind the concept (that of mapping the users mental model of domain knowledge to widgets on the screen and on to the data models used by the software).

[1] according to a talk Trygve gave, but it kind of shines through in his brief history of mvc too: https://heim.ifi.uio.no/~trygver/themes/mvc/mvc-index.html

pookeh 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Often times, the products we make should really be features of a larger offering. Did you guys explore building on top of your contract tech or getting acquired by a company that requires your tech? for example:1. Marketplace of services that need contract signing between parties.2. Project management app for SMBs or freelancers3. Legal document authoring app that extends to contract signing.

There are prolly more ...

agentgt 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know much about contract management so take most of what I have to say as an ignorant opinion.

I'm trying to figure out how ContractBeast's problem of continuous usage is any different than almost all the business tools out there that require human intervention (with the exception of email, and MS office suite).

It seems every investor and entrepreneur has this desire to make "crack" and not just tools. Good tools don't need to be used all the time. They don't need to provide some sort of gamification, feedback loop, or enjoyment.

As for money making good business tools don't need even need to be used by the user... in fact they really should be automated. I know this because we had some of the some problems ContractBeast did and the key was not getting the endusers involved at all. Automate and integrate so they are almost out of the loop completely (again I don't know much about CLM... maybe this isn't possible).

As far as top down selling it is almost impossible in the B2B market to do something different. Managers force users to use tools and those users use MS Office most of the time but those tools still get bought and eventually those tools do provide value (aka sales force).

epynonymous 17 hours ago 1 reply      
that's why i firmly believe you have to find the idea that you're really interested in because that's what will pull you through those 70+ hour work weeks or through those days where you're on the brink of failure wanting to fold shop. there are many ideas that are interesting and probably could be good businesses (lifestyle or startup), but can you overcome all those things not just on sheer will power, but just because that's what you enjoy spending your time on?
Chyzwar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Nope, His business was perfectly reasonable. He could become next Taleo/Atlassian/Slack, grow slower but dominate space. He only needed to extend offer with with self hosted version.
reilly3000 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Moving down market is tough. The reason why enterprise ecosystems can flourish is that consultants have a symbolic relationship with software, act as a silent sales force, drive legitimacy and solve the soft issues that make software projects fail. Creating a simple CRM system isn't that hard, but getting mass adoption AND offering a customizable product takes hand holding. Content alone doesn't hold hands, nor does (most) UX. Software that changes how people's jobs work (accounting, CRM, EHR, etc) naturally invites pushback because PEOPLE HATE CHANGE.

Maybe the next generation of UX will have change management built into the system, not just tours and tooltips. For now, the burden of software adoption is best served with donuts and somebody how cares enough to make it work for the business that is investing in it.

dharma1 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If you don't believe in what you're doing then I think it could have been a mistake to take the money and carry on.

If the team and investors believed in the product, perhaps you could have asked if some of the current team were willing to take it on, and make it work. You could have retained a bit of equity for the year and the hard work you put in so far without having to commit any longer yourself.

selectron 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Quite interesting. Why couldn't you build in a reward system to using the product? Similar to how games like WOW do?
Steeeve 16 hours ago 0 replies      
500K is not a lot of time. It's six months with a small team and maybe not even that considering you need to either have time to pitch another round of funding or get to the point where you can pay the bills independently. If you don't see a path to something strong enough to get you to the next level in that amount of time, there is no choice but to walk away.

Every idea to fix it takes time to develop, and with whatever time remains you have to make progress with sales and the existing customer base. With any given product and the right team you can get there, but the only way to get the right team to commit is with a passionate belief that you will get there before you run out of money.

If you spend the time trying to build a roadmap out of whatever options you can come up with, and none of those options give confidence given time and budget constraints... well, then you've done all you can do. It's not hard to come up with a list of reasonable options to move forward with, but it is hard to come up with one that's worth committing to.

If you've grown to the point where you can man up and make the decision to walk away early, you have a good future.

rkwz 7 hours ago 2 replies      
> About 35% of our users continued to use the system at least three times per week after completing registration.

OT, but curious, how is it possible to get this kind of engagement data?

Querying DB to get number of logins per week? But that doesn't mean that they're "using" the system.

Google Analytics? I'm not aware of any such GA feature

Third party analytics?


matchagaucho 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The challenge with CLM is that you're constantly competing with users desire to use MS Word.

Moving everything to the cloud would be far more efficient. But the corpus of legal text captured in Word and Legal's preference for redlining email attachments is the status quo.

arcticfox 19 hours ago 1 reply      
It's pretty surprising to me that there was no way to shift enough of the value gain from "huge gains in efficiency" forward to keep people motivated about the product.

For example: use a chunk of the $500k as rewards to push people through the initial adoption. Then presumably the real gains would take over and they'd be happy customers.

chalam 19 hours ago 0 replies      

Interesting comment in there about 'Approvals' being one of the most used feature. Why couldn't you build around that? A more generic approvals solution for any kind of contract.

icu 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the entrepreneur failed to assess why it had to be him to solve the market problem and give birth to the company.

Sometimes it's not necessary to assess this because you are compelled to act and you can't stop.

In this case I think had he asked this hard question sooner he would have found his heart wasn't in it. Either way dropping it was the right thing to do.

In comparison my 'why' for the thing I'm working on makes my soul burn and is a limitless well of determination.

Call it 'Conviction/Opportunity' pull.

Dwolb 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If we're going with the whole human centered design approach here the writing doesn't sound as though you were thorough enough in the research, analysis, and synthesis.

There should have been some guideposts here: who were the power users? what did they love? who were the huge detractors? what was their big issue? how did ContractBeast fit into the ideal world? how were people splitting their work between the old system and ContractBeast? were there network effects for the old system?

Yeah we can look at some sort of short term win and long term gain framework, but it's pretty reductionist to a) only depend on that framework and b) not be able to come up with any solutions to fulfill short term wins.

advertising 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the right move.

If you had discovered this when you were 6 months in, spent 50% of the cash and had employees would you have made the same decision? To pull the plug and return remaining capital vs trying to make it work.

ztratar 19 hours ago 2 replies      
"It would have been different if we had been debating which plan among several to implement or how to shore up specific weaknesses, but we had nothing."

I don't really understand "having nothing" -- you're either creating value or you're not. You guys spotted a real problem, but your v1 solution was meh. There were certainly multiple ways out (and not just tack on gamification), and even if some were long-shots, the uniqueness of a startup is to place those bets.

amenghra 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Selling products to SMBs is hard. Most small businesses will often take the free trials but won't be willing to pay for a product if it entails a financial commitment.

I have seen a small companies use student licenses instead of paying for the more expensive commercial license in order to save every possible penny.

dnautics 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not make an open offer to anyone who thinks they can solve this problem and turn this around?
chrismcb 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the fact that this was in private beta had nothing to do with the fact customers weren't using it all the time.
leroy_masochist 17 hours ago 0 replies      
> I left my job in January so i could work on ContractBeast 70+ hours a week. The rest of the team kept their day jobs. That was fine. It made my final decision easier.

Reading between the lines here, I'm picking up some resentment. I think an underlying cause of the decision to walk away from ContractBeast might have been a specific subtype of founder burnout -- the kind that happens when you feel like you're pulling more than your share of the weight, and/or you feel like you're more committed to the company/project than the rest of your team is.

There's a downvoted comment at the bottom of this thread stating that the commenter would never give this guy money. That's a bit harsh, but at another point in the comment he makes a very (IMO) valid observation that burnout is at play here and the author should have taken some time off. That rings true to me.


> Weeks of brainstorming and dozens of hypotheses later, we had nothing. Not a single, plausible way of providing our users with the instant gratification their cerebella so desperately crave.

> With no clear path forward, investors ready to wire funds, and the team ready to quit their day jobs, I decided to pull the plug.

Is it just me or does this seem like there's a big hole in the plot here? The whole team spent several weeks trying to figure out how the product was going to get traction, came up with zero good ideas, and everyone's still ready to quit their jobs and work on this full-time?

Assuming this is accurate and absent further details, I can think of two non-mutually-exclusive hypotheses for how this might have actually happened:

1) "We had nothing" was really "I had nothing". Either because of a failure on the part of the author to communicate with the team, or their indifference upon hearing the author's description of the problem in question, the only person really working on solving the problem was the author. To the extent that this was the case, it would certainly have exacerbated the "I'm working way harder on this than my cofounders are" burnout described above.

2) It's also possible that the other prospective cofounders and/or early team members were aware of the headwinds facing ContractBeast and just really, really hated their day jobs and were thinking, "I honestly don't even give a shit if this company works out, I just want to go somewhere I can get paid while not having to deal with my current boss, and if it fails it's not a big deal, it's a startup, they fail all the time and I'll be able at a minimum to use the newfound flexibility in my schedule and relative seniority in the organization to make myself much more available for interviews at other companies."

EGreg 18 hours ago 1 reply      
People live lives. Companies create products.

Sometimes what you build becomes bigger than you. If you want to quit, and everyone else wants to keep going why not let someone else run the show?

If you started a chess club, or even a chatroom, and had no time (as the guy says, he only has one life) to be an admin, would you just close down the whole thing and kick everyone out? Maybe. If they really were so passionate they'd pick up the pieces and start their own thing. Your old group might have a way to transfer the accumulated wealth to the new group. Instead of just losing it.

I remember writing an article about this a couple years ago called the Politics of Groups:


Here is an excerpt:

If the individual - the risk is that the individual may have too much power over others who come to rely on the stream. They may suddenly stop publishing it, or cut off access to everyone, which would hurt many people. (I define hurt in terms of needs or strong expectations of people that form over time.)

frozenport 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Can't you just charge them $2.99 for each contract, and go with volume?
redneck_ 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Tl;dr I burned out.
getgoingnow 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Why is Paul Graham defining a word that's already well defined and understood? Go to Google and type in "define startup" and you will see that:

 startup = a newly established business
I think the reason he wants to redefine the term is so that people associate starting a business with rapid growth, which will benefit him personally. How do you achieve growth in almost all cases? By taking VC money. What happens when you take VC money? Investors expect an exit. So, even though he says you don't need to take venture funding or 'exit', he really wants people to do that, because he can make money from it.

DarkIye 8 hours ago 0 replies      
it was a bad idea #savedyouaclick
vinceguidry 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like the marketing was all wrong. If you're selling to big business, you need a big business sales process. If you can't afford that, you're just pissing in the wind. He was focused on product when he should have been focusing on his sales and on-boarding.

Patrick McKenzie has demonstrated that you can do high-touch corporate sales as a small organization or even as a single person. He just needed to figure out how.

ChicagoDave 19 hours ago 5 replies      
After this, I'd never give this guy time or money and I doubt anyone else will either. No matter how shitty you feel about your start-up, if you have a willing team and cash, you should see it through. Being an entrepreneur isn't always about having all of the answers. It's very often about not knowing the answers and figuring things out. Especially if you have a team and cash flow and investors.

I think this guy needed to take a day off or seven and get his head back on straight. I'm nearly positive every entrepreneur goes through the "doubt" process many times in a given start-up.

It's the person that figures out how to renew themselves that ends up succeeding.

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