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1
A Generation Lost in the Bazaar (2012) acm.org
257 points by akkartik  8 hours ago   114 comments top 24
1
danblick 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Slightly OT, but I enjoyed the discussion about (physical building) construction in the book "the Checklist Manifesto". In The Mythical Man Month, Brooks advocates the use of something like the "master builder" model for software. It turns out that in actual (physical building) construction, the master builder model is no longer used, because the construction process has become much too complex to be understood by a single person.

Instead, in construction, they use a system of checks to ensure that different experts consult one another so that every decision is reviewed by a relevant expert.

I suspect that the "chief architect" approach that Brooks advocates may have become obsolete as well since the Mythical Man Month was written. Perhaps software developers could learn something from the newer methods that replaced the "master builder" model in construction.

2
dsr_ 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Cathedrals are beautiful. They represent the vision of one person or a very small group made real by the hard work of hundreds or thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers over dozens of years.

Cathedrals are not, generally speaking, profitable. They represent the expenditure of lots of capital over a long period of time.

Bazaars don't cost much to start. You can start quite small and have a functioning system that does useful things for people. They can grow quite large, and when they grow too large it becomes difficult to find exactly what you want without a really good map. But you can probably quickly find a bunch of things that are more or less close to what you want.

Cathedrals are not easy or cheap to repair, but the investment is so large that people usually prefer to repair them. A bazaar that doesn't work out makes some local people sad, but they will go to another bazaar that is a little less convenient for them, and perhaps do better there.

It's nice to have some cathedrals, because they feed the soul. But you need to eat every day, so there will always be bazaars, and if you need to make a choice, the bazaar is going to win unless you have a lot of resources stored up to fall back on.

3
RachelF 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Having seen the source for a non-Bazaar OS (Windows), I can say that they are not built like cathedrals:

Most of the original developers have long since moved on, there are design problems, various teams and managers rebuild or duplicate work, and management sometimes imposes big changes just before release.

Software quality is hard to judge from the outside, and takes longer to build.

4
vessenes 7 hours ago 2 replies      
And yet..I think this critique gets less strong as time goes on.

The amount of productivity available to Mr. Kamp for free today is conservatively double or triple that available in 1999. Databases, web frameworks, scale know-how, IDEs, hosting platforms, the list goes on.

He harkens back, sadly, to an era in which codebases like Genuity Black Rocket cost $100k in licensing, and ran on $30k/month Sun servers. Seriously.

Languages are faster, development times are shorter, and chips are WAY faster. And, code can be pushed out for tinkering and innovation onto github for free. Combine that with his estimate that we have 100x more people in computing, and the combination is a riot of creativity, crap, fascinating tech and everything in between.

The bazaar is messy, but I'm not aware of any solid critiques which show cathedrals are more efficient at the multiples-of-efficiency kind of gains we get from legions of self-interested, self-motivated coders.

5
amasad 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been thinking a lot about this in the context of software development tools. It is now just expected that IDEs, compilers, tooling etc are free and OSS. On the one hand this enables bottom-up innovation and shorter development cycles. On the other hand setting up a development environment is a royal pain in the butt. And a big turnoff for newbies -- they begin to think that programming is some sort of IT job about installing and troubleshooting software. Even when you manage to set everything up there is constant maintenance cost as you update software and as new things come out.

At the very least, I would love to see companies created around popular open source tools and verticals to create designed end-to-end experiences. Download, double-click, start coding, and see something on the screen.

6
jmspring 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
When it comes to ecosystems, the definition of the Cathedral becomes interesting. Say what you will about business practices in the 80s, 90s, early 2000s...

In a sense Windows was a cathedral. It bent over backwards while accepting the new. Welcoming many under the umbrella.

Sure it is a stretch, but the Windows platform (for years) required backward compatibility. That was the world Microsoft worked in.

Today, the OS still maintains cathedral aspects, but the company is embracing the bazaar way more than I ever thought I would see in my lifetime.

7
csours 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Recurrent calamities, fires and earthquakes hit the Grand Bazaar. The first fire occurred in 1515; another in 1548.[9] Other fires ravaged the complex in 1588, 1618 (when the Bit Pazari was destroyed), 1645, 1652, 1658, 1660 (on that occasion the whole city was devastated), 1687, 1688 (great damage occurred to the Uzun Carsi) 1695, 1701.[14] The fire of 1701 was particularly fierce, forcing in 1730-31 Grand Vizier Nevehirli Damad Ibrahim Pasha to rebuild several parts of the complex. In 1738 the Kizlar Aasi Beir Aa endowed the Fountain (still existing) near Mercan Kapi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Bazaar,_Istanbul#History

8
haddr 7 hours ago 5 replies      
It's a very nice read with many good points, but any person with some experience in IT projects could argue with it. The author is taking one side without any self-criticism.

It is true that configure scripts are probably doing some useless things, "31,085 lines of configure for libtool still check if <sys/stat.h> and <stdlib.h> exist, even though the Unixen, which lacked them, had neither sufficient memory to execute libtool nor disks big enough for its 16-MB source code", etc. But then what is the alternative? Writing a configure module each time by every programmer who wants to release some software? This is called code reuse and yes, it's not perfect but it saves time. By not reinventing the wheel again and again. By reusing something that is stable and has been there for some time. Probably such thing is generalizing over many architectures, and making useless things, but then again, who cares for some extra 5-10 seconds of the "configure" command, when you are covered for all those strange corner cases that it already handles?

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njharman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For any given software thing you can

1) pay for the cathedral

2) use the bazaar, possibly needing to seed it

3) do without

Since 1) is typically very expensive and lacks guarantees of suitability to purpose and continued existence, the ROI is so massively negative few can even try it. 3) often isn't an option.

the bazaar is an inevitability. No one has been mandating it for past decades. No laws enforce it. It occurs cause it is the only available/possible option.

10
jesstaa 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"the ruins of the beautiful cathedral of Unix, deservedly famous for its simplicity of design, its economy of features, and its elegance of execution"

unix is the bazaar enabler. An OS that is so simple as to be mostly useless without third party additions but also without enough of an overall design to give the third parties much of a guide on how things should fit together.The mess that unix enabled is also the reason we can't get away from it and move on to better architectured systems.

11
asragab 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I love how this article makes its reappearance on HN every two years...

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4407188https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8812724

12
smegel 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> The bazaar meme advocated by Raymond, "Just hack it," as opposed to the carefully designed cathedrals

More like carefully designed procedures (not the software kind), meetings, and suit ties.

The waterfall process can be as technically deficient as you want it to be, just like agile.

13
ktRolster 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The article says that to have quality, someone needs to be responsible for it.

Of course, the "Bazaar" included the project named "Linux," which does have a single person in charge. So "single person in charge (or not in charge)" isn't really what the bazaar is about.

More generally, the article laments the lack of quality in modern software. I don't think that's a problem of Cathedral vs Bazaar, though, since software designed top down with authority telling everyone what to do can be low quality (indeed, you can see this sort of thing happening in many scrum style companies).

Rather low quality software is a reflection of the skill of the people who built it.

14
davidw 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> compiling even my Spartan work environment from source code takes a full day

Maybe compiling everything on every computer is not the best approach...

15
BadassFractal 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It's why I use OSX at home for anything non-work related, I want an integrated experience that just works, I don't want to be IT guy at home. No messing around with video card drivers, no figuring out why my printer chops off pieces of the page, no constant wifi or bluetooth crapouts, support for Adobe suite or popular digital audio workstation software.

At work I'm happy to use Linux, but I use it for things it's great at, such as simulating our prod environment, coding, etc, but at home I just don't want to think after a long ass day, I want to enjoy computing.

16
hyperpallium 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Successful bazaars have a flat architecture, meaning you can easily add another component, to handle a new case.

It's not always the ideal technical architecture for the problem.

17
cbsmith 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I still hate this essay as much as I did when it first published it. It misunderstands the problems.

Unix was fragmented long before 1991, when autoconf was created. Prior to autoconf, Perl's Metaconfig did this dance, and a lot of other, lower quality systems like imake were used to work around the problem. The forces behind Unix's fragmentation was actually not the Bazaar (open source software), but attempts by multiple parties to independently build their own Cathedrals (in attempts to differentiate/provide value with proprietary systems). Of course, autoconf, as a GNU system, was, in Cathedral & Bazaar terms, a Cathedral, not a Bazaar.

Autoconf is ugly/copy-paste code because it is comparatively rarely run, so as long as it produces a passable result, people use it and focus their efforts on other, bigger itches.

There's also a long history of open source products which have enjoyed higher quality implementations than their proprietary equivalent. The Apache project itself stood as a higher quality web server than a lot of other choices (not as true today, but it was true for quite some time).

One could go on...

18
haberman 6 hours ago 1 reply      
There are way too many dichotomies that are getting muddled in this discussion:

 - hacky vs. beautiful - professional vs. amateur - waterfall-designed vs. evolving - centralized control vs. consensus control - crufty vs. well-maintained - open-source vs. closed-source
With so many axes to argue about, we can project whatever we are feeling about software today onto this "cathedral/bazaar" debate. We may think we are having one discussion, but we're actually having six discussions (or more) at the same time.

19
qwertyuiop924 7 hours ago 0 replies      
...And if you think the Bazaar precludes somebody making decisions about quality, you haven't payed attention to how linux development works.

Except epoll. And vsyscalls. And...

You know, maybe Linux isn't well managed.

20
lifeisstillgood 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So a while back I had a JIRA ticket, to go add a feature to a pile of JS front end. I did not understand the pile very well, but that's OK, neither did anyone else, and I expected to add a large amount of tests and code to get the job done.

But I like understanding the code, so I read and read and puzzled and fended off "hurry up" comments.

And then I added two lines and it basically worked.

I am in favour of a slow code movement (http://www.mikadosoftware.com/articles/slowcodemovement) which seems relevant here.

Even better was a guy I worked with, physics PHd from central China, whose daily stand up reports mostly consisted of "Inspent yesterday reading around the subject, I shall spend today, reading around the subject."

Love him, love the brass balls.

21
peterwwillis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
He's complaining that the Bazaar is not efficient, and that it's a pile of hacks.

No. Shit.

Yes, it's an inefficient pile of garbage built one heap on top of another.

But it's also incredibly useful.

 Modularity and code reuse are, of course, A Good Thing. Even in the most trivially simple case, however, the CS/IT dogma of code reuse is totally foreign in the bazaar: the software in the FreeBSD ports collection contains at least 1,342 copied and pasted cryptographic algorithms. If that resistance/ignorance of code reuse had resulted in self-contained and independent packages of software, the price of the code duplication might actually have been a good tradeoff for ease of package management. But that was not the case: the packages form a tangled web of haphazard dependencies that results in much code duplication and waste.
Code duplication, waste, and a tangled web of haphazard dependencies are only a bad thing in theory. PHK talks about "CS/IT dogma" like it's the rule rather than the exception. But the CS/IT dogma, like most other dogma, always runs into exceptions when put into practice.

When you have many, many independent teams of people developing software, you may want to implement something someone else has already done. As a member of your team, you have two choices: 1) re-implement the original as part of your own cathedral, or 2) put some glue around the existing solution.

Sometimes, 1) will be the best choice. But sometimes - and this is usually the case with Unix tools - 2) works just as well, and you get the benefit of only having to write and maintain glue, rather than a constantly morphing feature implementation. If the original was done well, and your glue supports it well, you get a feature without paying for it.

The foundation of Unix is a strong Cathedral. But this foundation is what makes the Bazaar fit so well around it: it provides something strong to glue other shit to. As long as you have someone to continue gluing shit together, you can keep adding pieces ad infinitum, and what you lose in the end is essentially disk space and compilation time. I'm willing to accept that.

22
duncan_bayne 3 hours ago 0 replies      
ESR agrees with the criticism of Autotools: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=1877

"Autotools must die"

23
gavinpc 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Mods, please add 2012. Most recently discussed here at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9403124
24
k__ 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the Bazaar.

It's a bit like "normal" people sticking it to the elite. The rest of the world getting a piece of the cake too...

2
"I Want to Know What Code Is Running Inside My Body" backchannel.com
234 points by warp  8 hours ago   98 comments top 15
1
TickleSteve 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
You most certainly don't want people to be able to modify safety critical code within a pacemaker.

What most developers don't realise is the level of engineering strictness that goes into anything safety-related. The rules and regulations related to anything that affects the human body is in a different league than what most developers are familiar with.

What is a problem here, is that the design (not the code) apparently did not take into account any messaging security, relying on obscurity as its only defence.

If the code was open-sourced, don't expect to find lots of buffer overflow attack vectors, or simple things like that. Its the design of the system as a whole at fault, and that is already open.

Medical devices such as these are not black boxes to the people that certify them, everything is open to them, source included. Having worked in that sort of area, I trust the systems that are in place.

2
yolesaber 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I saw a talk about medical device security (or lack thereof) at the Eleventh Hope a few weekends ago. Very scary. They started off with a story about patients in a hospital who became horribly addicted to morphine because they were able to hack the machine from resources found online (http://www.massdevice.com/hospital-patient-hacks-his-own-mor...). Go on Shodan and search for medical devices and terminology (e.g. "radiology") and you'll see the state of things. Sensitive machinery exposed on the open internet. A lot of medical devices have hardcoded passwords that are used for remote operations by technicians.

Open sourcing this code would do a lot to mitigate these issues.

3
pthreads 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Does anyone know if at least the FDA is allowed to review the source code for pacemakers? Or is it a complete blackbox? Personally I would be appalled if even the FDA is not allowed to.
4
jordigh 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Another really good talk about the topic, "freedon in my heart" by Karen Sandler:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XDTQLa3NjE

It's mentioned in the article.

5
SubiculumCode 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Sure this is about pacemakers, but cant we say something similar about the rest of our body?
6
maerF0x0 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree, I want to contribute to FOSS medical devices.
7
randyrand 5 hours ago 4 replies      
By extension should every device I own require me to have access to the source code and output data?

Not a rhetorical question.

8
radicality 1 hour ago 4 replies      
How about when I'm flying an airplane; I'm also putting my life in the hands of people that wrote the code that controls it and I have to trust that the plane won't shut itself down mid-flight because of faulty code. Should a similar argument be made here?
9
r3bl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Can the mods change the link to https://backchannel.com/our-medical-data-must-become-free-f6..., since this is the full version of the story?
10
yostrovs 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I want to inspect the blueprints of every building I walk into and know the sourcing and composition of all the structural components as well. For my life depends on these things to be true and properly constructed.
11
drdeadringer 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I am imagining that young folks have Library Anxiety, and old folks have "Google Anxiety".

Ask any question and you will find an answer. Any question you have, no matter how banal or left-field. What is the weather? Is my grandson a lesbian? How do I eat pizza in Italy?

Where is the biography section? How do I understand the Dewey Decimal System? What is in the Special Collections, and what are the hours -- and do I need an appointment? The computers are down... is there a way I can search for books offline without randomly roaming the stacks?

12
tn13 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Very soon we would have FBI and NSA requiring these pacemakers to have a kill switch to kill whoever they don't like.
13
andrewclunn 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"I wanna feel what code is. I know you can show me!"
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meric 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Philosophy -

She doesn't know the code that's running on machines inside her body.

I don't even know the code that's running my heart.

And yet, I trust it.

15
mankash666 6 hours ago 7 replies      
Reasons to NOT open up the code: 1> Loss of competitive advantage2> Open source is not necessarily any safer (heartbleed bug ... )3> If software for the pacemaker is allowed to be updated like that on a computer, someone will update it with buggy software that can cause adverse side effects. Who owns the liability in that case?
3
I Dont Care How Well You Code, Understand Your Compensation hackernoon.com
40 points by signa11  2 hours ago   11 comments top 5
1
marssaxman 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's really quite simple: you assume it's all worthless, because that's how it starts and that's how it generally ends. Even if it were going to be worth something, you'd have been better off taking the money up front and investing it however you wanted in the meantime.

But it doesn't really matter, because you have no control over this anyway. All you have to do is decide whether the salary is high enough; the rest is irrelevant.

Some people really enjoy playing the lottery. If that's you, well, knock yourself out getting into the details of the options package! Just don't kid yourself or make any serious life plans based on your hopes about that stuff.

2
justinlardinois 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
> one of the reasons I chose to work on Wall Street prior to joining a start-up was to fully grasp the financing terms of the companies for which I would later work.

And this is also the reason why I'm very wary about equity. I'd certainly want to work for a company that's going to do well financially, regardless of how I'm being compensated, but I have only a layman's understanding of business and finance. I'm simply not equipped to judge the financial health of a potential employer and how much its equity is really worth.

3
nibnib 36 minutes ago 2 replies      
I don't understand most of the financial terms used in this article. Where do I start?
4
cloudjacker 12 minutes ago 1 reply      
> So talk to the CFO about the numberswhen youre hired, when its fundraising time, and any time in between.

Hahahaha, oh man so here's the part where I just dump all my emails about the answers I have gotten back from CFOs over the last decade:

- "common stock shareholders aren't privy to financial details"

- "we don't share that information"

- "I discussed it with the board [consisting of myself] and they decided not to release valuation information"

- "The stock options are just to retain employees!" and other awkward non-sequiturs that are distinctly not a financial statement.

So do ya'll want to unionize or nah, I have a feeling Peter Thiel and Andreesen would totally support it and we already make enough to make union dues negligible.

5
tn13 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Forget about equity, at least get the salary part right. Keep interviewing to check how much the market is willing to pay you and you will be surprised to know that "loyalty" does not pay much in America unless the employer is willing to offer you substantial amount of money to spend like 4 years at the company.
4
Image Kernels explained visually setosa.io
288 points by phodo  12 hours ago   41 comments top 8
1
kragen 10 hours ago 3 replies      
This is super cool but it's unfortunate that it clamps negative result values to black.

It's probably worth mentioning that there are a lot of ways to implement convolution with a kernel, and the kernel can be of any size, not just 33. The explanation here shows how to implement the output-side algorithm nonrecursively; http://www.dspguide.com/ch6/3.htm gives this for the one-dimensional case. But you can implement it on the input side instead (iterating over the input samples instead of the output samples), there are kernels that have a much more efficient recursive implementation (including zero-phase kernels using time-reversal), you can implement very large kernels if you can afford to do the convolution in the frequency domain, and there's a whole class of kernels that have efficient sparse filter cascade representations, including large Gaussians.

(To say nothing of convolutions over other rings.)

2
guelo 12 hours ago 8 replies      
How are the kernels derived? Is it just an art where people play with the matrices to see their effects or is there well-understood math behind them?
3
Isamu 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't see image kernels compared to cellular automata, but that's what they are. We just don't iterate more than once or twice with a kernel, and the long-term evolution (stability, chaos, or more interesting dynamics) is not the concern here.

That is to say, there is more to cellular automata than the GOL, and one bit per cell.

4
besselheim 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The previous discussion has some good comments and links: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8966785
5
anjc 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice site. This would've been very helpful to me in college when I was trying to get an intuitive grasp of Gaussian blurs and so on via the formulas.
6
kixpanganiban 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wish we had this when I was taking Discrete Math and Numerical Methods back in college. Really neat visualization!
7
jscardella 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This was an interesting article though I am not an image-o-phile. However, what I really like was the base site! I am a part time instructor for business students and I am teaching them about the power of visualization. This is an incredibly illustrative source that explains points well, and I'll be able to use it as a teaching tool! Thanks for the post!
8
jomamaxx 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Man we need more articles like this.

So nice and clear.

I've been working with images for 12 years and I was never sure exactly what 'sharpen' actually did ...

5
Backyard telescopes and amateur eyes see where pro astronomers cant arstechnica.com
68 points by okket  7 hours ago   22 comments top 6
1
kevin_thibedeau 6 hours ago 7 replies      
> But with limited telescope time available, their views of the planets only come in snatches.

It seems silly that university astronomy departments don't invest in small arrays of these telescopes with automated tracking software deciding where to point each night. With a modest number of sites you could have global coverage of all nearby objects of interest regardless of foul weather in some spots.

But you know, they need more money to expand administration instead.

2
jcurbo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This extends to more than just planets, too. The University of Maryland Observatory runs a summer program for amateur astronomers that I signed up for this year, and we're learning how to do exoplanet transit detection. There are databases to look up candidates and ways to submit data to reinforce findings. It's doable with typical telescopes available to amateurs, and the observatory has a few larger scopes we're learning to use. One of the professors at UMD has written up guides on how to do it: http://www.astrodennis.com/

Other efforts like this include:- American Association of Variable Star Observers https://www.aavso.org/public- Center for Backyard Astrophysics http://cbastro.org/

and I'm sure there are others I don't know about.

3
antognini 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Astronomy has a long and proud history of contributions from amateurs. Amateurs are probably best known (at least to me) for discovering supernovae. I mentioned in another comment to this article that a friend of mine from grad school worked on a project called ASAS-SN, which uses a network of small, cheap telescopes to monitor the entire night sky every few days. Their stated goal was to use this network to discover supernovas (hence the SN in the name), but, of course, they have discovered a bunch of other interesting things as well. It was only a year or two ago that they discovered more supernovae than amateur astronomers. Prior to that, amateurs consistently discovered far more supernovae than professional astronomers. Interestingly, the most prolific discoverers were in Japan, because they could discover all the supernovae that went off over the Pacific Ocean that had already set for observers on the West Coast of the US.

Another field that involves lots of work from amateurs is microlensing. In a microlensing event, one star passes in front of another, and its gravity lenses the light from the star behind it. This produces a characteristic increase and decrease in the brightness of the background star over the course of a day or so. If the lensing star (the star in the middle) has a planet, this will distort the brightness curve. These sorts of observations are extremely time-sensitive, and its critical that data is collected during certain, very narrow bands of time. Weather or other observing priorities sometimes prevent professional astronomers from observing these events, so it's not uncommon that data in some of the crucial times are provided by amateurs.

And there are lots of other areas that amateurs have contributed enormously to! Asteroid discovery, monitoring variable stars (https://www.aavso.org/), and even exoplanet discovery! In many ways the term "amateur" does a disservice to amateur astronomers because their setups can be quite sophisticated --- the only thing "amateur" about them is that they don't get paid for all the great work they do!

4
boxcardavin 1 hour ago 1 reply      
In undergrad astro my long-term project was searching for eclipsing binary stars, which are paired stars that are aligned with us just right so that they eclipse each other as they orbit. We looked one by one at known variable stars that are easily found by taking a series of wide angle shots of the sky and watching for periodic variations in brightness. The reason we had to look at one star at a time was because we wanted to characterize the light spectrum as being either shifting (pulsing single star) or mostly constant.

It always blew me away that the reason we had a project like that to do was because not every star had been looked at.

This was before Kepler data came out and it will not really apply once LSST starts kicking ass.

5
Blorqx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Russell Williams Porter, one of the founders of "amature" telescope making and lead the movement to make telescopes affordable to the average person. He is an unsung hero of modern astronomy and general badass. For more info on him: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/a-root-of-amat...
6
jgalt212 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Seeing in the Dark is a great book on citizen science in astronomy.

https://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Dark-Astronomers-Discovering-U...

6
Square Enix Graphics Designer Manabu Daishima Has Died animenewsnetwork.com
31 points by tangue  1 hour ago   1 comment top
1
DiabloD3 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
He worked on games from my childhood, and from where I stand, this is the top most link on the front page.

My childhood needs to quit getting to the front page like this.

7
CSS mix-blend-mode is bad for your browsing history lcamtuf.blogspot.com
110 points by kawera  8 hours ago   19 comments top 8
1
overgard 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Clever!

Here's one way I can think of to fix it without just taking out the feature or trying to hide its results: redefine "visited" from being "visited ever, from anywhere" to "visited from here". For instance, if I visited a wikipedia article on my own, and it appeared on hacker news, it wouldn't appear as "visited". However, if I clicked on it from hacker news, next time I load hacker news the browser would mark it as visited. I think that would keep all the useful properties of visited, without leaking information.

2
ComodoHacker 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Tor Browser doesn't seem to add[1] any defenses against history disclosure attacks.

1. https://www.torproject.org/projects/torbrowser/design/

3
visarga 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is very bad. If I open a website and it knows which of 100 other specifically selected sites I visited, I'd be instantly "profiled" for advertising. Is it possible to block visited link leaks? I'd be willing to give up visited highlighting altogether.
4
vessenes 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're following along in the code, four classes are defined, l_and, l_and:visited, l_and_not, l_and_not:visited.

l_and:visited and l_and_not are set to background color white, the others black.

512 link 'stacks' are created, each one in a td tag, each one for each possible setting of the 9 sites he checks.

Each of the classes get mix-blend-mode: multiply turned on.

He then looks for a final image with color white -- that's the bitset of your visited sites, since the multiplies will all give white as the output.

5
callesgg 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think the best solution would be if visited only applied to the local domain.

Like all the other cross domain policy stuff.

6
bennettfeely 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This article would more accurately be named the CSS :visited psuedo-class is bad for your browser history, not blaming it on the mix-blend-mode property.

The same idea has been done before, except more cleverly with the color property and captchas:

https://frantzmiccoli.github.io/visited-captcha-history/

7
Kiro 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
> This problem was eventually addressed by browser vendors by simply improving the accuracy of color quantization when overlaying HTML element

What does this mean?

8
microcolonel 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why I don't run JavaScript unless I absolutely must. Unfortunately, a lot of sites leave no option; I find myself choosing to miss out on the content rather than risk the exposure and bad usability.

Side note: Micha is truly prolific, I get the feeling that his dream is to have a full system secure against common attackers, which consumers might actually want to use. He seems to attack every piece of system software in every way from design flaws to implementation bugs.

8
Answer: How many center-pivot irrigation systems do you see? searchresearch1.blogspot.com
34 points by rhema  5 hours ago   13 comments top 3
1
LeoPanthera 3 hours ago 5 replies      
I always wondered why these are laid out in a grid, and not hexagonally, which is optimal for circle packing. You could fit more in that way.
2
visarga 25 minutes ago 1 reply      
How to count them with less effort - no need to count over the whole map. Perhaps Google would ban you if they saw too many requests for map tiles.

So, here's how to do it: sample 100-200 locations in a country. In each location, extract a tile of the map and count the circles in there. Then you need to scale the sum by the total surface of the country divided by the total surface of the sampled tiles.

9
Trial by Jury, a Hallowed American Right, Is Vanishing nytimes.com
98 points by greghendershott  9 hours ago   50 comments top 10
1
acjacobson 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
The potential for coercion in plea bargains is so high that I think it draws into question the practice as being in any way just. I've heard about drug cases where prosecutors offered 2 year sentencing deals vs. 60 year threats if the case goes to trial. What rational person would ever take that risk?
2
matt_wulfeck 33 minutes ago 1 reply      
A jury is one of those things that it's the best you have. If you can't perform and function with the juries you select, then there's bigger problems brewing in your community.

I see a considerable amount of apathy towards serving in a jury. Why is it seen as such an inconvenience? I can understand if it causes financial problems, but I've seen jury dodging at all levels.

When it comes down to it, if you were accused of a crime wouldn't you want people who cared on the jury? If so you must serve on the jury and must do it dutifully.

3
jimrandomh 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Judges should have the right to look at any plea deal they suspect may be questionable, and bring it to trial with the plea deal overriding only the sentencing portion but not the fact-determining portion of the trial. I suspect that any judge who did that would find factually innocent defendants and uncover major abuses of power.

Is there anything stopping a judge (other than time/resource availability) from doing this unilaterally?

4
JNaz 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I can see how the average reader would read the headline and article and come to the conclusion that this is evidence of another flaw in the justice system. One problem, however, is the emphasis the article places on federal courts. Federal criminal charges are, by their nature, rare. Big drug investigations, terrorism cases, human trafficking, etc. If the feds are on it, it's likely a more elaborate case requiring many more law enforcement resources, more evidence gathered, multiple defendants, etc. It's no surprise these cases infrequently go to trial, they require longer to investigate and prepare, they are more infrequent, and there's so much evidence and the odds are so against the defendants that most defense lawyers advise their clients to plea out. The federal bench, therefore, is a very different beast from state courts where you see the majority of criminal cases tried.
5
kiba 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I can't say I am a big believer in the whole concept of juries, but that is a minor thing compared to other facets of a terribly flawed system such as the use of forsenic pseudoscience, eyewitness testimonies(which are unreliable), and more.
6
massysett 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This was an odd article that kept saying trial "by jury" is a rare thing, and then made statements about trials generally being rare. It made me wonder how many bench trials occur.
7
unabridged 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I can see them going the way of the grand jury (which has effectively been forgotten or turned in to rubber stamp so much that it doesn't even warrant a mention in this article). The grand jury was the biggest check on prosecutorial power, it prevented the state from racking up insane charges to force a plea deal.
8
mooreds 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I have served on a jury and it is a powerful experience. It also made me want to stay far far away from any trouble with the law ("the wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine").

That said, the judges in this article come across as juvenile and thoughtless, being concerned about how boring work is without trials. How about the poor defendant who takes the plea deal even if they feel they are innocent, just because the stakes are too high? We hear a one mention of such a case, but the rest of the focus is on the poor judges and clerks who are bored or not paid enough ("my kids didn't go to camp"!).

9
jwatte 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Justice in America is available to anyone who can afford it.
10
josh_fyi 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
In high-school civics class we are taught that trial by jury is part of the American system. Yes, there is a legal right trial by jury and occasional actual trials by jury. So what? The Soviet constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, and indeed there were a very few churches and synagogues running during the Communist period.
10
Its hard work printing nothing tedunangst.com
145 points by protomyth  11 hours ago   53 comments top 7
1
zeveb 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The more I see of what goes on under the covers, the more surprised I am that anything works at all. As an example, every gtk+ program I run spews thousands of errors to the console. Why? Are they bad? The programs seem to run anyway, never crashing more than one would expect. So why the console spam?
2
akkartik 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I love the dry understated link to PHK's http://queue.acm.org/detail.cfm?id=2349257 there.
3
cperciva 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Theres an argument to be made that silly error messages are better than crashing browsers

There's an argument, but it's a really lousy one. If you're passing NULL as a string to printf, your code is broken. A crash which results in someone tracking down and fixing the bug is far better than quietly doing something which is 100% guaranteed to be wrong.

4
dkarapetyan 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I always thought low-level programmers (C, C++, assembly, etc.) cared more about minimal abstractions and minimizing dependencies. But it turns out it's the same story no matter what level of the stack you are on. Currently working on a project with 200+ requirements in requirements.txt and growing. Before anyone says microservices just realize that you have taken the same programmers that made this mess and shoveled the problem elsewhere. These people will find a way to introduce 100+ dependencies on other services.
5
overcast 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Semi relevant, I just spent the last two hours getting an ancient machine printing to modern copier.
6
qwertyuiop924 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Could someone give an ELI5 on this? I know talloc's snprintf test is broken, but I'm not sure what the point is.
7
amelius 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps exception handlers should run inside a sandbox by default, because we know that exceptions are usually not well tested.
11
How to Have Healthy Relationships as a Developer smo.nu
94 points by karlmcguire  5 hours ago   30 comments top 9
1
jdminhbg 34 minutes ago 2 replies      
> Talk About Your Work

I strongly disagree with this one, although I'm not sure if my reasoning is broadly or only personally applicable. The last thing I want to do at the end of a long day of work is recap what I did. Even in the best-case scenario of a day full of victories, it's just exhausting to try to relive all of them with the added burden of explaining the decade-plus knowledge base you'd need to understand why Problem X was so hard to solve. I'm much happier with a base of other interests to talk about after work with a non-programmer instead.

2
bowmessage 2 hours ago 3 replies      
What's it like to date / be married to another programmer? I've always wondered if this would help or hinder the relationship.
3
jakobegger 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't think this problem is unique to programmers. Everyone who works a lot can get into this situation. If you spend 60h a week doing anything, whether you code, or manage people, or lay pipes or sell houses or cut hair, you'll be so absorbed in your work that you can't imagine other people will understand all the intricacies of what you do; and frankly, in the time that's left of the week, one might just be too exhausted to spend quality time with friends and family...
4
ganesh_hobbeez 1 hour ago 0 replies      
When I look back, good times with family and friends brings happiness. :)When I look back at the bad program written, feel like 'Did I write this so studpidly?' brings sadness. :(
5
Kiro 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
> Relationships are a key part of being happy

Is this really true for everyone? I sacrificed my relationship because I prioritize my projects and I've never been happier. I can't imagine getting into another since it would mean compromises I'm not willing to make.

6
ryanbertrand 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Overall really simple changes to improve our daily life.

This had me laughing:(No, changing your Vim colorscheme doesnt count as a different experience.)

7
aadilmfarooqui 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
That's a good tip to discuss the work with family when working at home on weekends especially, as they have no idea of the problems a developer faces when working remotely on weekends.
8
pikachu_is_cool 2 hours ago 6 replies      
I sometimes wonder how much my life would be different if I never got into this. Programming is such a big part of my life now. I frequently consider how much of my brain power goes to programming; and I have to say it's about 20%. If there were five of me, one of them would basically be a computer.

I wonder what that fifth of my brain would have been thinking about for the past 10 years, if not programming. Maybe it would have been dancing, or painting, or soccer. Instead of context switching into thinking like a computer, it'd be how to move my body around or how to meld colors together. I feel like that would lead to a much more fulfilling life.

I used to program for fun in middle school. It was probably halfway through high school when I stopped programming for fun. It was always that little nagging voice in the back of my head: Play it safe. Programming is an in-demand field! You're good at it! Look at all of that awesome shit you made.

At this point, the only "hobby" I have is programming. I don't even know what else I like anymore.

9
KaiLe1 1 hour ago 2 replies      
One of the healthy relationships to have with other people is to unionize and share experiences.

It is kind of sick to hear about programmers pulling 60+ hour weeks digging the grave of the fellow next to them because they are not culture-fit or good programmers by their standards.

The establishment knows this, that's why it squeezes out of you every penny it can get, getting you to feel that you are the greatest programmer of all.

But to be in a meaningful serious union and fight for your rights means you have to do a lot of soul searching, throw away your smugness and self-righteousness (about how great developer you are) which is not compatible with the capitalist nonsense we face everyday.

I am sure I will get flagged because a lot of readers come from the "Valley" where money is god but don't really care.

12
'Library Anxiety' and What Librarians Do to Help atlasobscura.com
21 points by diodorus  6 hours ago   2 comments top
1
ashark 1 hour ago 1 reply      
> Some students in masters programs, says Allen Foresta, Senior Librarian at Columbia University's graduate Teachers College, managed to get through undergraduate without really being required to use a library, which is kind of astonishing to me.

Thanks to Google Books, the good ol' high school research paper standby of "write from bad sources (Wikipedia, these days, or from a single decent source) then find good ones for the stuff you wrote until you hit the minimum reference count" also works for (at least most) undergraduate papers. You just need search and the free samplesfull book and leaving your room not required. Bonus: it's also easier to get generated citations (for the real books, not as web resources) than manually entering the data from physical books.

14
Drawing Holograms by Hand (2003) amasci.com
20 points by dcminter  5 hours ago   4 comments top 4
1
wbeaty 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
Scratch holograms may have led to the invention of stereo photography.

Someone recently found that Charles Wheatstone wrote about this phenomenon first, after noticing it in lathe-turned flat surfaces. Wheatstone looked at it a bit, then taking inspiration from the obvious 3D images, went on to invent stereo drawings, photography, and the stereopticon.

But, Wheatstone never got it. He never realized that we can make our own scratches, and therefore draw any 3D object. "Steampunk holography" remained lost for about 150 years.

"It is curious, than an effect like this, which must have been seen thousands of times, should never have attracted sufficient attention to have been made the subject of [scientific] observation. It was one of the earliest facts which drew my attention to the subject I am now treating." From Wheatstone, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 128, (June 1837) "On some remarkable, and hitherto unobserved, Phenomena of Binocular Vision" p371-

The same thing happened again in 1992. Two scientists at Polaroid corp. accidentally made some scratch-patterns producing flat images floating in 3D. They analyzed the scratch geometry. But they missed the secret trick, and never attempted drawing their "holograms" using individual scratches. doi: 10.1364/AO.31.006585

2
femto 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this article. My first reaction is "no way!", but when you think about it it's obvious that it must be so.

The hologram of a single point of light is a "zone plate": concentric rings. Move a sharp point in concentric circles on a surface and the scratches will form a zone plate which focuses light to a point. An abrading object is just an array of sharp points, so the scratches formed by moving the object in concentric circles will focus light to an array of points, corresponding to the shape of the object: an image of the object. Simple! (but not initially obvious.)

3
jcl 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It might be better to use the "Scratch Holograms" link at the top of that paper, as it has better exposition and a video. :)

http://amasci.com/amateur/holo1.html

4
scentoni 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I've played with this a bit, it was fun.
15
Reverse Engineering Quadcopter Protocols mmelchior.wordpress.com
74 points by DanBC  11 hours ago   3 comments top 3
1
grinich 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I did this a few years ago, but for the Microkopter boards. It's amazing what you can find while snooping the debug serial pins, and what you can ultimately still control during flight.

That old code is on GH if anyone wants to fly with it ;) https://github.com/grinich/mikrokopter

2
jsmthrowaway 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My Phantom 4 uses watered-down Lightbridge[0] which I haven't looked at closely but which does tout at least some encryption. Its predecessor, on the other hand, my Phantom 2 Vision Plus, uses two completely open SSIDs (one hidden, one broadcast). I had a prototype of area denial for all Phantom drones that operated that way cooked up in about two days, so there's a lot of low-hanging fruit to reverse engineer here and not a lot of thought being put into security.

Control itself uses a different, "traditional R/C" path (itself ripe for disruption), but there's plenty of possibilities from being hooked up to a Phantom 2's SSID. There are two Linux-based computers on that network: the "guts" and the camera controller. The root password for both is wide knowledge, and you can brick an operating, in-flight Phantom 2 very easily with nothing but your laptop.

Hint, hint for a startup here, since I've been on three threads now where folks are looking for drone denial.

[0]: http://www.dji.com/product/dji-lightbridge

3
halpme 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Off-topic: but I'm really happy to see an increase in reverse engineering threads here on HN.
16
Bitsavers: Historic system document and software archive uni-stuttgart.de
12 points by adamnemecek  6 hours ago   1 comment top
1
voltagex_ 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Mirrored of course at the Internet Archive - https://archive.org/details/bitsavers
17
A Spreadsheets Star Turn technologyreview.com
18 points by danso  7 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1
frik 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. The movie is great, and the true story very sad.

Let's hope at least Boston Globe has a backup of the spreadsheets and other original research documents. I wonder why a former journalist and current research scientist has no proper personal backup strategy.

2
walterbell 5 hours ago 0 replies      
John Oliver's recent show on "Journalism" included references to the Spotlight movie: https://youtube.com/watch?v=bq2_wSsDwkQ
18
At Seattle Art Fair, the Interaction Between Technology and Modern Life nytimes.com
8 points by Mz  4 hours ago   1 comment top
1
aaronbrethorst 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I asked the person operating the booth that had the VR headset if anyone had gotten sick from it. She laughed and said no, last year's was far worsepeople actually got sick from that. The big difference was that last year's apparently didn't give people the ability to control how or where they looked.
19
Show HN: JSON.is json.is
77 points by zackbloom  14 hours ago   47 comments top 13
1
brilee 9 hours ago 4 replies      
There's this structured data format called XML, and typically you put a XML schema definition at the top (example: <xs:schema xmlns:xs="http://maven.apache.org/xsd/settings-1.0.0.xsd"> for a Maven config file). XML code editors then fetch the XML schema declaration, which contains information like what fields are expected, whether those fields are repeatable, whether they are required, and so on. Java library using XML as configuration will typically have published an XSD.

Fun fact: XML schema declarations are themselves XML documents, and there exists an XSD describing allowable XSDs. https://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema.xsd

2
SamBam 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Is http://package.json.is/ really better documentation for what package.json should look like than than regular-ol' documentation, https://docs.npmjs.com/files/package.json?

It seems that this format, while a clever idea, is going to have a lot of problems in describing more complex json documents, which may have optional arguments, arguments that are mutually-exclusive, etc etc.

For example, in the package.json example alone, there are several properties that can be either a string or an object, but it would be hard to expose that in this system.

But maybe this isn't supposed to be documentation, in which case I'm just confused about the purpose of this.

Edit: If more information about the available properties were available at each level (i.e. from the top-level, here are all the possible props; from the "contributors" prop, here are the different possibilities) and this could be used to document one's own project-specific JSON, this could be very cool. But the best would be if it had a way to integrate with a proper schema validator.

3
paulddraper 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> Since package.json.is is primarily a code editor, its not really well-suited for small screens.

> Please check us out on a larger screen. :)

> Email yourself a reminder

WTF? You might not know this, but my phone is equipped with advanced pinch-and-zoom technology you may not have seen before.

4
killercup 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice, but too bad this is not in JSON Schema (it's a custom bunch of html strings in functions). I would love a more complete JSON Schema for package.json (with custom stuff like browserify or babel config) as VSCode is able to autocomplete JSON files from that.
5
jmhnilbog 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel like an idiot, but I can't tell what this is and the "About" page isn't helping me.
6
voiper1 1 hour ago 0 replies      
That's very nice document-panel on the side!If we could get that in sublime or vscode, that would be pretty cool!
7
leppr 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice presentation, and it would be even better if it could be integrated as a plugin for text editors (vim/emacs/...).

Waiting for a good webpack.config.js one :)

8
erichurkman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Breaks for me using Safari: TypeError: null is not an object (evaluating 'style.overflow') works on Chrome.
9
sotojuan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Would be helpful to add JSON API.
10
andyfleming 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Is install.json something new or is it used by an existing platform/toolset?
11
fizzbatter 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is cool! I would have loved something like this for Yaml recently as i learned Rust's Cargo.yaml
12
caub 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought it would introspect each dependency too
13
dimgl 10 hours ago 1 reply      
That contrast is abysmal. Please fix the contrast on the code samples.
20
Fat Protocols usv.com
60 points by jackgavigan  12 hours ago   8 comments top 4
1
panic 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Yes, let's make all our technologies as "fat" as possible so other people can't "capture" and "re-aggregate" our "value". The VC-oriented approach to protocol design!

Whats significant about this dynamic is the effect it has on how value is distributed along the stack: the market cap of the protocol always grows faster than the combined value of the applications built on top, since the success of the application layer drives further speculation at the protocol layer.

That also goes the other way: failure at the application level can bring the token value down as speculators sell, and a lowering token value affects all applications.

2
zubat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What blockchain products, in particular, tend to lack is a complete "economic engine" - there isn't a good or service built in the equation, just a marketing promise that transacting goods and services through the protocol is somehow better, or failing that, some form of investment instrument that is a step removed from goods and services, and consequently less mission-critical for conducting business.

When there is a good or service, you usually find a situation where a centralized monopoly platform - "use our API, use our UI, feed off our database, speak with our sales and CSRs" - is more straightforward to build and more advantageous for the stakeholders who will build and operate such a system. There are only certain niches where there's a definite and ongoing win to build and participate in a decentralized protocol. This rock and hard place has made it hard for the field to break away from purely speculative activity.

While the tech is maturing and growing an impressive set of features, I don't see big breakthroughs coming without a major initiative from a big player.

3
ruddct 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A fun read, but to me it ultimately speaks to why blockchains are best suited to internal use by large enterprises (not consumer, small businesses, etc).

The web flourished due to its lightweight, comparatively easy-to-implement protocols. Applications could be built cheaply and easily on top of it. VCs and many entrepreneurs profited handsomely. Much of the past 20 years in tech has been pushing this concept to literally every person on earth.

Compare to the 'fat protocol': The protocols are tough to write, and tough to implement. The value is captured at the protocol level, not the app level, so there's little incentive to create inventive apps.

Few apps will be created on such systems, so few successful consumer applications will created with them. Seems like the winner here is in business-facing systems. For USV, it strikes me as peculiar to favor the 'fat protocol' and back other types of businesses (e.g. consumer).

4
cocktailpeanuts 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of cult religions where they promise people true purpose in life, but in reality only the ones at the top and the ones who started believing first are the ones who get the benefit. In their case, the rich of the high class always grows faster than the combined value of the group of sheep who start believing later
21
A New Explanation for One of the Strangest Occurrences in Nature: Ball Lightning nautil.us
89 points by dnetesn  14 hours ago   48 comments top 13
1
Feneric 10 hours ago 0 replies      
One of these scared the heck out of me as a kid. I had just gone to bed and was staring up at the ceiling and a small ball of intense light with crackling tendrils around it flared in the middle of the room and was gone. I ran out and got my parents, and I was so obviously scared my Dad eventually climbed into the attic above my room and reported a burning smell in the air but couldn't find anything out of place.
2
ChuckMcM 7 hours ago 1 reply      
There was evidence that Nikolai Tesla not only understood what caused ball lightning but could create it on demand. It is not one of his experiments that have been replicated however and so often it is consigned to the "myth" part of his reputation. An interesting extract on it is here: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/tesla/esp_tesla_20.htm
3
mholt 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Ball lightning is one of my earliest memories as a child. I was in the basement in our farmhouse when it came in through our window during a storm and "popped" next to me. My mother also remembers this experience. I don't remember if the window was open or not (we didn't have air conditioning down there - I think the storm was just starting). No damage. But it freaked us out and we went back upstairs in a hurry.
4
kazinator 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This caught my attention: "Microwaves also tend to make an audible noise when they encounter a persons inner ear".

Say what?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_auditory_effect

5
happyslobro 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Microwaves trapped in balls of plasma. Electrons accelerated fast enough to pass through sheet aluminum, but able to slow down and form a ball on the other side. Electrons accelerated to high relativistic speeds, producing nothing more potent than mere microwaves when decelerated.

I am no physicist, but these explanations seem really messed up. I don't think this guy got us any closer to understanding ball lightning.

6
pontifier 8 hours ago 1 reply      
When I was about 16 I was in our half basement with full size windows at ground level playing SNES. It was mid-morning, and there had just been a light rain, but it was sunny out. I saw something bright out of the corner of my eye and turned just in time to see it hit the answering machine that was sitting on the window sill. There was a fairly loud pop, and it tripped the breaker and shut off my game. The answering machine was fine.
7
Sevrene 10 hours ago 1 reply      
One time I went up to my local mountain lookout to do some night time photography. It was very dark and I was using long exposure.

During one of the photographs a huge white flash occurred. I turned around and couldn't see anything. It made no sense because I was up on a mountain, and the silent lightning appeared to come from above and behind me.

There wasn't even a cloud in the sky in any direction and it wasn't my camera flash because it was during a long exposure and I was looking at the camera. The photo I took came out over exposed even though it was the same length of exposure I had been using all night.

Don't think I will ever know what it was, but I've always suspected that it's probably something in similar to nature to what the article talks about.

8
ganzuul 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice to read other people's observations! Thank you, everybody.

I saw silvery-white ball lightning from my 7th story window a few years ago. It swooped, turned sharply and touched down maybe 200 meters away. It was a very bright, constant light against a cloudless blue sky in the middle of the day, moving at a constant speed.

The best explanation I have for it is decay products of cosmic rays, resulting in plasma soliton. My estimate of the wattage and energy of its light output would mean it wasn't from a source in our solar system.

I would think that if the source wasn't our sun then events like these would be very easily seen at night, and that my Northern latitude's long dark winters would de-bias opportunities to observe.Meanwhile if the source was our sun, then I would assume observations would correlate with sunspot activity.

9
memories 10 hours ago 2 replies      
When I was about 11 I remember sitting in my parent's living room at our computer when a small marble sized ball floated slowly across the room. As it got close to me it electrocuted my right hand with what seemed to be a small lightning bolt shooting off from the main body of it, burning my hand. It freaked me out quite a bit and I still have no good explanation for what happened.
10
asimuvPR 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I saw one of these a long time ago. While driving through an area where some lighting was happening a blue-ish ball appeared on top of the powerlines that were parallel to the road. The ball was big enough for me to notice it out of the corner of my left eye. It was fast, too. Traveling at at least the same speed I was traveling down the road. It was spooky but I loved it because I love seeing raw electricity. I never knew what it was until today (I'm making the assumption based on my memory).
11
gtrubetskoy 11 hours ago 1 reply      
And you can create one in your microwave with a sliced grape!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwTjsRt0Fzo

(I am not sure that this would be the same phenomenon, but it's definitely microwave plasma).

12
jandrewrogers 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I've seen ball lightning twice, both during my short stint living in rural Nebraska as a kid. It was correlated with, but not directly underneath, the hyper-energetic thunderstorm systems that are typical for that region. It is really interesting to observe because it doesn't follow the rules you intuitively expect.

The most memorable incident was when it dropped out of the sky directly over a little league baseball game I was playing in. Several dozen people saw that one. It hovered, sizzled, zipped off, and disappeared. They called the game on account of weather.

13
bvinc 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Everyone seems to have stories about ball lightning. Where is a video?

PS: The video in the article is unconvincing and probably a firefly.

23
Confirmed: Walmart buys Jet.com for $3B in cash techcrunch.com
393 points by brandonlipman  18 hours ago   241 comments top 25
1
KenCochrane 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Jet.com ran a contest where they gave 100,000 shares as the top prize for the most signup referrals. This Guy is probably one happy guy right now. He spent $18k and the value of those stocks are probably worth in the millions.

http://www.businessinsider.com/jet-insiders-referral-program...

2
rogerdpack 15 hours ago 7 replies      
I figured out what is going on here. Walmart thinks to themselves "we want to be like amazon, we want to be huge online" and then jet comes along and is something of an almost competitor to amazon, so corporate thinks "oh we should snap this up" but...my gut reaction here is this is going to be a terrible deal for walmart, what are they going to do, keep dumping $500M/yr for it at a loss or what? Pretty desperate, but whatever.. :)
3
a_small_island 16 hours ago 7 replies      
What's the likely scenarios for an employee whose been there for 2 years, an employee whose been there for 1 year, and an employee whose been there for 6 months? If we assume 1 year cliff on options.
4
tedmiston 16 hours ago 5 replies      
I really hope Walmart doesn't scrap the Jet Anywhere cash back program [0].

It seems not well known and somewhat controversial, but offers generous rates higher than everywhere else. For example, 4.8% from Expedia, 5.6% from Orbitz. Unlike every other cash back program they do not cap the amount for flights.

JetCash is effectively real cash because many items are available cheaper than even from Walmart, Amazon, or Costco. Presumably Jet was taking a loss on those transactions in the short term. It really has been my favorite cash back program ever.

[0]: https://jet.com/anywhere

5
ffggvv 16 hours ago 2 replies      
It's funny how everyone was saying that Walmart would never pay $3B https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12218654
6
jackmott 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Jet.com is a big user of the F# language. Will be interesting if they get Walmart on board too.
7
SmellTheGlove 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Good for them. I talked to a couple of folks there regarding potential roles that they'd had in the HN hiring thread. We never went anywhere on that front, but everyone that I interacted with was a total class act. I hope this works out well for the existing employees.
8
rdlecler1 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I get why Walmart would buy them, but it seems to me they could have waited 6-12 months and bought the company for $300m. There's just no way they were showing growth. The only thing that makes sense is that Jet would have been damaged goods in 12 months and this was the only option for Walmart to build a millennial friendly competitor to Amazon.
9
wheaties 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I have to wonder if the employee stock options were worth anything? Most telling is that Walmart decided to throw ~$300M at the founders "and others" to retain them. Does that mean, in this case, that the founding team is the only one who walks away with a payday?

And to be clear, this isn't a cynical musing. I'm genuinely curious to see how this worked out for them.

10
dpeterson 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Walmart easily owes over 3 billion in taxes every year. There is a tiny almost non existent chance they will get a return as profit. However there is a 99.999% chance they get jet.com for free when they write it off as a complete loss in 2 years. If nothing else they get a valuable 3 letter domain name for nothing.
11
yomly 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Call me a sceptic but a hail-mary acquisition of this kind is not going to save Walmart.

Amazon is built through and through as a tech company. The people running it all have tech backgrounds so they're all able to get behind the Bezos vision of automation and scale trumping all.

To give you an idea of how savvy the management of Amazon are, I heard rumours that Diego Piacentini (Bezos' lieutenant managing the retail business) was known to roll out his own SQL queries. My own head of the team, who was a more conventional "retail guy", barely knew how to use excel and had chiefly gotten to where he was by politics and tenureship, despite being younger than Diego. Whether it is true or not, it gives an idea of the mindset and skillset valued at the top of Amazon.

Now I'm almost certainly biased given that I've worked for Amazon and not for Walmart, but I'd be willing to bet that Walmart has more of the latter "old school" types than CS folks looking to solve new fields. And to me, that says that the odds are tipped against this integration being successful as catching up with a tech company would require an overhaul of Walmarts entire infrastructure and culture. Not to mention that Walmart are at the mercy of their shareholders, whilst Bezos is still majority shareholder.

12
WhitneyLand 16 hours ago 8 replies      
Is anyone here using Jet on a regular basis? I tried it once a few months back and dismissed it as nothing innovative enough to be a sustainable Amazon competitor.

I must have been very wrong. I don't see how Jet justifies 3B from Walmart.

I will credit them on one point - They do seem have great employee sat that is a result of investing lots of time and energy to create a healthy environment.

13
throw42 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Guess who is on Walmart's board, and likely voted when the acquisition discussion was happening.

Our very own Marissa Mayer.We also have Kevin Systrom on teh WM board.

14
plandis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is interesting. I always assumed that Jet was operating at a loss for a significant amount of their stock due to shipping costs.

I wonder if Walmart's more physical presence can help with this?

15
blackaspen 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Based on how Walmart's eCommerce has failed to grow I think this is a waste of $3B. Hopefully the Jet employees get a nice payday out of it.
16
Fej 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I knew this was their plan as soon as they pivoted away from the "club" business model.

Damn shame, I was hoping to maybe apply there at some point.

17
cosmoharrigan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there any sources indicating what percentage of sales or units are from third-party retailers?
18
mabramo 16 hours ago 0 replies      
They came to my university to recruit last spring. I bet whoever got that job feels real good right now.
19
dmode 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like a very average deal for investors. They would have similar returns if they invested that money in Amazon or Facebook stock
20
ismdubey 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Compare this with Dollar Shave Club acquisition for 1B.Either Jet is overvalued or DSC is undervalued !!!!
21
mikeyjkk 17 hours ago 5 replies      
In cash? Really?
22
perseusprime11 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I doubt this will change the trajectory of Walmart. Bezos has the upper hand.
23
d136o 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have to do with
24
nine_k 15 hours ago 3 replies      
On one hand, being bought for $3B. On the other hand, joining Walmart.(Sorry, could not help but being a bit redditish about it.)
25
ArtDev 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope they don't scrap jet.com (but I suppose they will). My wife and I just discovered it rather recently :(

Am I the only person who would rather pay more than have to order anything from walmart.com?

Aside from serious ethical issues, my issue with Walmart is that manufacturers produce lower-quality brand-name items just for Walmart. Its hard to know what you are actually purchasing.

24
Moving 12 years of email from GMail to FastMail cpbotha.net
535 points by cpbotha  17 hours ago   322 comments top 51
1
Tergmap 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Your mails are as private as the mail servers of the other people you are communicating with.
2
bad_user 16 hours ago 11 replies      
I'm a FastMail customer. Here's some things I like and why I switched from Gmail and Google Apps:

 - better shortcuts in the web interface - the mobile web interface is actually good - can import email by IMAP - POP links actually work, Gmail's POP links are broken - IMAP is better implemented - Gmail limits IMAP to 15 max connections and each folder ends up being a connection - CardDAV works and has good picture resolution, when I was on Google Apps they were limited to 80px - FastMail's Sieve filters are very flexible - on folders vs tags, I like folders more, because then I can import my huge work email as a backup without polluting my searches and my archive - Google Apps email aliases limited to 30 per user, which is pretty dumb and insufficient if you have a couple of domains - FastMail does sub-domain email aliasing, which is awesome, as now each user account I have has its own email; Gmail only does "plus" aliasing, but that's obvious and problematic
Part of this decision was also a switch from Google Drive to Dropbox: Dropbox supports Linux, Google Drive does not.

On the matter of privacy, Google is simply too big and has access to too much info.They have your searches, often representing your secret desires, your video/music preferences, your favorite locations and habits, your travel itinerary, your voice, your chats, your G+ likes, your email, your purchases, etc.

And don't get me wrong, personally I've never seen many big companies as competent and as non-evil as Google. I also worked with their AdX and I can tell you that from the advertiser's perspective, Google discloses much less information than others in the business. But they don't have to be evil right now, they simply have to store that info and analyze it later, sell it, etc. And consider that the info in question is enough to determine with accuracy if somebody is pregnant, male or female, black or gay, as in things that in the right context can get one injured or killed.

In other words you can use Google's stuff, but reducing their area of knowledge and not placing all your eggs in the same basket is always wise.

3
kennell 12 hours ago 3 replies      
The most important step for folks that wish to break free for Google: start using a custom domain name as soon as possible. Because the hard part is not moving from one email service provider to another, but getting your new email address in everybody's address books and changing all your site logins.

And if you love your Gmail interface and all the goodies that come with it, thats fine. Get a 1 user Google Apps account ($5/month) and start using your own domain with it. That way you have the freedom to switch to a other provider at any time once you are ready.

4
rfrey 16 hours ago 9 replies      
My business uses Fastmail, and I'm mostly happy with it. The one thing I notice every day though, is the spam detection. I start each day by marking 10-15 messages as spam. That's been the case for three years, and I don't seem to be making headway on training their spam filter.

It's a small thing, takes me all of 10 seconds, but I do notice it, every morning.

5
m0nty 17 hours ago 3 replies      
> I had to deal with keeping my server out of over-enthusiastic spam blacklists

My domain got blacklisted once. I contacted the service concerned (i.e. the people running the blacklist) and they said my web domain had appeared in the footer of a spam email.

"So, do you have any evidence I put it there, or paid someone to put it there?"

"No."

"So you'll blacklist random domains a spammer puts in their email? Because that's what happened here."

I was surprised (and still am) that this kind of service could be so naive. My domain was literally just a bare http://domain.com/ in the footer, no link or advertising associated with it at all. Domain blacklist successfully polluted, as far as the spammer was concerned.

6
ynak 16 hours ago 6 replies      
FastMail is great and their web interface is really light and fast, but the pricing[0] doesn't fit me. I want to use my custom domain as an email address, so I have to choose the `Enhanced` plan ($40 USD per 1 year). That also provides 100 domains and 500 domain aliases, it is a bit overwhelming for personal use. I hope they would make a new middle-class plan between `Full` and `Enhanced` with Cal/Card DAV features.

[0]: https://www.fastmail.com/help/ourservice/pricing.html

7
rasmusei 17 hours ago 3 replies      
+1 on almost everything you wrote. I also moved from Gmail to Fastmail in almost exactly the same way some months ago. I agree completely to the plusses and minuses you mention.

I would like to add one minus though. Any good old smiley like ":)" in emails gets replaced by a yellow smiley face icon. I hate to see yellow smiley faces where someone wrote colon end parenthesis. It's all done client-side though, so noone else has to see it. Have been in contact with FM tech support and they seem to be uninterested in adding a checkbox to turn this nuisance off. Otherwise an excellent, excellent service.

8
unicornporn 17 hours ago 11 replies      
Lately I've been looking at some paid email options as I'm not happy with the offering over at Yahoo, Google, Microsoft or AOL. I wonder why they're all quite expensive. Fastmail is $40 a year, and that's for 15 GB. I would need at least 20 GB (which means I'm looking at $120 a year).

15 GB is free over at Google. Does that mean my data is really worth $40 a year to them. I do realize this is oversimplifying things...

One option would be to "self host" at Digital Ocean. For the same $120 I would get 30 GB storage and I could use the VPS for some other things. But even DO themselves try to dissuade you from doing that (on reasonable grounds I believe)[1].

[1] https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/why-you-may...

9
dave_atx 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I went the opposite direction -- FastMail to Google Apps -- several years ago when FM had ~3 solid days of downtime. Really long time ago, but still a bit of a sore spot for me as I missed at least a day and a half of incoming email that wasn't deliverable during that time. My sense is that they're a much more mature company now though.

That said, I'm not sure why more people don't consider upgrading to Google Apps from free GMail. $50 a year gets you an SLA, support, and no ads. It's been extremely reliable for me and I've not had any downtime (that I've noticed) for 5+ years. No performance problems either that I hear folks complain about with free GMail either.

10
bartkappenburg 17 hours ago 2 replies      
"I do have FastMails Android app on my telephone. The app is a Cordova / PhoneGap / CrossWalk style unit with real-time email push and notification via Google Cloud Messaging (this is a relatively energy-efficient way for android phones to get push notification and is natively supported by FastMail)."

Migrating away from GMail for privacy reasons and he still ends up with Google for functionality...

11
reacharavindh 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Curious what y'all think of Protonmail? I've been using their service partially (just within family and a few friends).

They lack two big (features/caveats?) as of now.

(1) searching for a text within the body of the email is not available (They can't read my email kinda thing.) and

(2) Inline images don't work - pretty bad flaw.

I do like :

(1) Simple and Fast UI for web app, and iOS App.

(2) Knowing that I'm supporting folks that care about privacy and freedom. They do open source some of their stuff and are now the maintainers of openpgp.

https://protonmail.com

12
mrmondo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty hardcore fastmail fan here, love it, I did something similar about 3 years ago - I migrated my 10GB~ gmail account to Fastmail.

Haven't looked back since and it just keeps getting better.

These guys are the core contributors to so many fantastic open source products, they're transparent, respect your privacy and security above all else and it's resulted in an excellent all-round email service.

13
readhn 17 hours ago 3 replies      
"The Five Eyes, often abbreviated as FVEY, are an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence."

Austrlia is spying on your email on Fastmail the same way NSA is reading your gmail.

14
im_dario 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"So far, my conclusion is that this is a service that is technically more than capable of replacing GMail, even for power users. Furthermore, FastMails primary (and in fact only) business model is to charge you money for making sure that you can keep on emailing like a boss. Together, this makes for an offer that I could not refuse".

Totally agreed. I'm a Fastmail's happy user, glad to pay for such a great service.

15
confounded 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Very happy recent convert to KolabNow!

 Pros: - 100% green energy - 100% Free Software - Servers run on fully open POWER8 architecture! - Server for your contacts (CalDAV), calendar (CalDav), and notes (IMAP) - Swiss privacy laws - They run what seem like very fancy business-class LUG events in Europe. Of no utility to me what-so-ever, but I'm glad to be indirectly funding this sort of thing. Cons: - No 2FA :( - Not the cheapest (but I'm happy to pay a little extra for the above) - Slow webmail (moved back to native clients)

16
rufugee 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I moved from Google Apps to FastMail for six months or so. I'm back to Google Apps now. For me, I had a quite opposite experience...FastMail searching was much slower, and the return to folders instead of labels made organizing my mail more difficult. Additionally, GMail's Inbox organizing (slicing in Primary, Social, Promotions, etc) is invaluable when you receive many, many messages a day. Fastmail's interface, along with the increased spam messages which got through, simply didn't provide me with a good user experience and meant I was more likely to miss an email.

YMMV.

17
matt_wulfeck 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I've come around to considering having 12 years of gmail online a liabilty. There's simply too much data there that can be used to steal someone's identity. At some point someone nasty is going to get into your email.
18
abtinf 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Why does FastMail charge a family account fee, thus making it more expensive to have two accounts under a family account than two individual accounts?
19
tomfitz 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I was a Fastmail customer for 3 years (2012-2015), but have since migrated to Gmail.

I outlined the factors in this decision in https://gist.github.com/tomfitzhenry/d73fef19752cbf6ccdda3eb... .

20
mlinksva 14 hours ago 0 replies      
21
preek 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Honest question: How is it that GMail is perceived faster than a locally running MUA like mu4e which is quoted in the article?

I'm actually using mu4e for exactly this reason: It's so much faster than any web client could ever be. And I'm saying this as a professional web dev^^ And yeah, I know GMail - I was an early adopter and have seen two companies migrate to it in the last fiveyears.

Of course, running mail within Emacs has its additional awesome benefits, but that's a different kind of argument I'll leave out for now. I'm honestly curious why people think/believe/know that GMail is faster than a well engineered locally indexed app. It just doesn't seem to be the case for me, but I hear this time and time again.

22
ultramancool 17 hours ago 7 replies      
Why would you use FastMail when hosting your own mail server has a much higher privacy level? It seems no better than gmail in this respect.
23
joshstrange 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I've tried a number of times to make the jump but the cost is so much higher for me $0 -> $120. I am grandfathered into google apps but even if I wasn't I'd rather pay $50/yr. Google is far from perfect but it does just work and I don't have to ever think about it. That might be the same with fastmail but switching is a non-zero cost (in time, and money and I mentioned above). I have 25GB of email in gmail and another 10GB archived off (from other accounts that I'd love to have all in the same place but worry I'd screw up all my email). I won't self host my email due to all the issues with that but I'm also not going to switch to another provider when the costs are 2X google and I'm not sure what happens if/when I hit 60GB as that is their biggest plan.
24
_RPM 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a FastMail user for about a year now. The one thing about the android app is that you get real push notifications. This is a great feature, that you don't get with ANY OTHER mail app for android. The interface of the android app seems to be a web-view, and I don't like it at all. The resolution is low, and it takes a long time to load. Overall, the push notifications is huge for me. I tried using the Gmail app connected to FastMail's backend, but emails would be delayed up to 15 minutes sometimes.

If you're a big Google Drive user, you'll most likely miss Gmail's built in integration with Drive, but FastMail has a simple file storage feature, where you can save attachments to your allocated space, and attach files from your files.

Another advantage for using FastMail, is that they do Email as their primary business, so it seems.

25
0xmohit 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Has anybody used HushMail [0] or ProtonMail [1]? How does it stand against both free services like GMail/Yahoo or paid ones like FastMail?

[0] https://www.hushmail.com/

[1] https://protonmail.com/

26
snemvalts 17 hours ago 2 replies      
But in the end won't most of the sent emails still go through Google's servers, thanks to the ubiquity of Gmail?
27
jhwhite 17 hours ago 1 reply      
How does this work with Google Docs? I have a Google Apps account and I don't want to lose all my documents.

Is it possible to have my email usage through FastMail but keep my email address to log in to google so I can still access all my docs?

Or do I need to create a gmail address and move my docs over, then move my email over?

28
graffitici 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm also a big fan of Fastmail, and I've been using it for a while with great pleasure. However, I've come to realize that Gmail is really two things: an e-mail service, and and e-mail platform. Fastmail is more than enough to replace the service aspect. But there are so many plugins and startups that use Gmail, that at some point one feels like one's missing out. I'm thinking of things like Streak, Mixmax, Boomerang..

At some point I asked them whether they could "emulate" Gmail's UI, so that these apps and Chrome extensions could run on Fastmail. But understandably this is quite a big task. If they could pull it off, it would be quite phenomenal though..

29
readhn 17 hours ago 4 replies      
If you are concerned about privacy and gov tracking and getting their hands on your email then whats the point of migrating from one "unsecure" email provider (gmail) to another one (fastmail)? With some of the fastmail servers in US jurisdiction your email is just as safe as with gmail.
30
cm3 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It's great that we can do this, and I might have a use case sometime, but:

Am I alone in finding web-based email too slow for day to day use? The responsiveness of a local MUA w/ or w/o a fast index (notmuch, etc.), once you're used to it, is hard to live without, at least for me. I find it messes with my workflow if I click on an email or folder and have to wait for the browser to return and render the XHR result. Or did Gmail just become slower and slower with time? I haven't tried FastMail yet.

31
godzillabrennus 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Just switched an account to fastmail and found customer service sucks and the service is misleading. First, if you want a custom domain don't bother with the pro account go business when you sign up. Second, tech support didn't have a clue on how to migrate a pro account into a business account.

That said, once I figured it out the service seems solid.

32
Zelmor 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Joke's on him about moving out of the US: fastmail has servers in New York.
33
mungoid 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Guh. I have about the same amount of years with gmail and thats why I havent felt like switching yet. Because I'm lazy. Which is a terrible reason.

With the amount of upvotes for this article, is it safe to assume people like (and trust!) FastMail? I didnt used to care about privacy, but I have been much more interested in it lately so I would like to switch.

34
Theizestooke 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've recently came across the same problem, and decided to go with runbox.com. Servers are located in Norway, and I think they have reasonable pricing.
35
estrabd 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I once went fastmail -> gmail. It's been a while, thinking about going back tbh.
36
manigandham 14 hours ago 1 reply      
From the article > "use my data to customise adverts around the web"

Why is this always a bad thing? Is it just an innate feeling against having your information "used"? Personalization is an ever more important and much wanted feature in everything else in life so why should ads just be generic and irrelevant?

37
peb 15 hours ago 0 replies      
In regards to the discussion around migrating from Google, does anyone have suggestions for an analytics alternative? I've looked at Piwik, gauges, and clicky but curious if there is anything else out there I've missed that is as simple and affordable as GA (but not Google).
38
z3t4 16 hours ago 1 reply      
E-mail is a solved problem. I run my own e-mail servers and I love it. It's a beautiful decentralized and distributed system. Every time self-hosting e-mail is brought up many ppl say they have problems with the big players, but that is not my experience at all.
39
ucaetano 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Just a small correction: Google has no datacenters in Africa.

https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/inside/locations/in...

40
AdamN 17 hours ago 1 reply      
"If you use any Apple iOS devices to read your mail, youll be pleased to know that FastMail, with help from the big A, fully supports iOS push." This is huge! I thought it was just Apple being idiots. I didn't realize that third-party non-Exchange servers could push to iOS!!!
41
mastazi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anyone suggest a service similar to gmail but based in Western Europe (not UK)? I would like to have my data there.
42
magicfractal 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Probably a dumb question, but if I have a @gmail.com email, there's anyway of redirecting that to another email provider without it touching google's servers? (i.e. Without just using automatic e-mail forwarding).
43
arenaninja 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I checked out FastMail but it's too bad that while they promote privacy, they require a mobile number to sign up. I understand it's probably used to prevent abuse, but if I'm truly in it for privacy I would imagine this is a non-starter
44
agrafix 13 hours ago 0 replies      
My private and my business emails run with FastMail and I am very happy with it! I also use the DNS for some smaller projects and it works like a charm. Thanks for that.
45
tanqueray 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Have been using tutanota (free). Servers are in Germany and have been quite happy but would like them to add a few features. Am going to upgrade anyway I think.

Did you delete the Gmail account?

46
voltagex_ 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately I can migrate my email to FastMail, but years worth of paid Android apps will be lost if I migrate away from my Google Apps for Work account.
47
bbrik 14 hours ago 1 reply      
How do you handle changing your email address?
48
noja 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I get far more spam at fastmail than I do at gmail.
49
poushkar 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Nothing can substitue inbox.google.com for me so far.
50
childifchaos 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Who cares? Why go through all that effort just to move your data out of the US, if they really wanted to read that they would, but they most likely would not care.

Silly over reaction. Your going to use a service that is not as good, waste a bunch of on importing/exporting for reasons that would have made no difference to your life.

So your actively choosing to downgrade your life to spite someone else. Smart move.

51
joering2 17 hours ago 0 replies      
> [...] I moved all of my data out of the US and of course [...]

I don't think you can move your data out of Google right? They will keep it even if it looks like deleted to you.

Google (Alphabet now right?) has changed their TOS so many times can someone actually educate me on how long they keep my deleted emails and then if they truly ever delete those, or there is some 160TB compressed tape archived in their basements so that if they truly want to, they can open it and read my emails from today in year 2056 ??

25
Struggling Twitter lists over 183,000 square feet for sublease at its S.F. HQ bizjournals.com
80 points by abradabra  6 hours ago   53 comments top 10
1
yladiz 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't know if it's an overall trend of stagnant growth or slowing economy, but bigger companies/unicorns are definitely feeling the pressure from overvaluation and being forced to downsize employees and office space, as evident by leasing out office space they bought up and doing down rounds. It's kind of this version of the dot-com bubble popping, except this time it's more of like a slower deflation than a pop.
2
discardorama 4 hours ago 5 replies      
Twitter is the Yahoo of this generation.
3
bpodgursky 6 hours ago 2 replies      
At $66/square foot (quick google), that would be 6% of their revenue as of their last earnings report. Which is kinda insane.
4
cloudjacker 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
IIRC Foursquare's primary revenue model was also subletting its office in Soho.
5
imcqueen 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this maybe a "sell high" scenario for twitter? Sounds like the article is suggesting that, while demand is still strong, the supply of available office space is rising.

Perhaps their thinking is to get the asset under lease while the price is still at it's current rate and then spend on expansion later if it's necessary (at theoretically lower prices based on the supply trend?).

6
ben_jones 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Didn't they let a lot of people go in the last two years? It seems sensible to me to downsize office space after that kind of thing. Would it be better to their PR if they just burned money on the empty space?
7
microcolonel 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that thinks that Twitter is not and should not be a growth company? It has a clear function of attractiveness which is linear with the population of the earth. All of the people who want to use Twitter are (for the most part) using it.

The only reason for me not to use Twitter right now is all of the ridiculous, desperate nonsense they are doing to maintain their outsized workforce. If they would make timelines linear again, and focus on improving performance, their audience could be maintained and their ad revenues could be retained; they'd also have room for improving targeting.

8
bonniemuffin 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The author refers to twitter as "San Francisco's second-largest tech employer". What company is SF's largest tech employer?
9
forgetsusername 4 hours ago 1 reply      
San Francisco real estate and Technology stocks are highly correlated. So is Twitter needing to lease its space, at high prices, a good or bad omen?
10
Animats 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Twitter's core business could be handled by a team about the size of Craigslist. They tried to add too many features, many ad-related.

Somebody should set up OpenTweet as a budget competitor.

26
The Superbook: Turn your smartphone into a laptop for $99 kickstarter.com
44 points by chadfurman  4 hours ago   32 comments top 9
1
thomasruns 2 hours ago 3 replies      
It's kickstarter which means it won't actually ship until at least a year after it claims. And there's no way they're going to provide a decent keyboard, touchpad and screen for $99 and still make a profit.

It'll ship late and be probably 2x that cost at which point you should just get a chromebook. Or, ya know, use the laptop you already have.

2
Animats 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Chromebooks start at $149. This is just a Kickstarter price claim, not a real price. It will probably increase after launch, after which it will no longer be competitive.
3
dboreham 3 hours ago 5 replies      
Didn't a number of major vendors (Motorola, Microsoft..) already do this and failed to find a market for it?
4
toodlebunions 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd rather connect a display, keyboard and mouse to my phone. But the UI needs a cursor, and a file system.

If I recall correctly Ubuntu wanted to try that, as did Microsoft. Too early to market perhaps.

5
Uptrenda 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't calling your company "Andromium" infringe on two trademarks simultaneously?
6
pankajdoharey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Well this is very similar to what Ubuntu Phone is providing, and Ubuntu does have a rich rich set of linux applications but not as rich as Android.
7
JustSomeNobody 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Middle of the page, there's an image below the caption, "Multi-Touch Trackpad & Keyboard - With Android Navigation Keys". What is the mechanical pencil shown in that picture?
8
lsalvatore2 3 hours ago 1 reply      
But I already have a laptop..
9
sna1l 2 hours ago 1 reply      
http://liliputing.com/2013/07/ubuntu-edge-canonical-wants-to...

Crazy that Ubuntu needed $32m, while this kickstarter has only asked $50k.

27
No Man's Sky: Update 1.03 no-mans-sky.com
64 points by kevlar1818  7 hours ago   59 comments top 4
1
panic 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Apparently these massive day-one patches are a way to work around consoles' certification programs: http://ramiismail.com/2016/08/patch-the-process/
2
danso 3 hours ago 1 reply      
If you haven't been paying much attention to the drama, No Man's Sky had been struggling to contain fears that it wouldn't live up to the hype. Then last week someone managed to score an erroneously sold copy for $2000 [1] and livestreamed his completion of the game. His impressions seemed to throw cold water on NMS's promises, but this patch makes so many additions that it sounds like a totally different game. Pretty amazing for a first-day patch.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/4v8pnp/guy_who_got_n...

3
shmerl 5 hours ago 5 replies      
I tired to reach developers with question whether they plan Linux release or not, but got no response. So not really looking forward to it.

Everspace on the other hand looks quite promising: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HvpLe-2ijk

4
Negative1 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It's funny how he cites Carmack's plan/finger updates as a source of inspiration since these kind of changes went in over the course of the games development, not on a day 1 patch! If you consider the game on 'disc' as the finished product, there is no way you could consider this game complete given the incredible number of changes in this patch. A while back reviewers tried to pull this 'on disc review only' thing and I don't think that's even possible anymore due to DRM like Steam requiring a patch before the game can start.

Even so, bravo to the team for the extra effort to make sure the experience is as good as it can be.

(Oh, and atmospheric refraction? Surely he means improved mie/raleigh atmospheric light scattering)

28
Fear and Loathing in Linux, or Who Needs /etc/motd (2010) archive.org
81 points by akkartik  8 hours ago   45 comments top 12
1
kevhito 3 hours ago 2 replies      
As a reluctant admin for a half dozen odd home and work systems, and having just dealt with a few clean reinstalls, the /etc/motd issue bit me too. It also reminded me a bit of the horror that grub configuration has become.

When I started years ago there was LILO. It had quirks and was a pain to configure. Then grub came along and it had some great new features -- edit the easy-to-understand config file, and changes would automatically take effect. Easy background images. Easy menu building in the config file. Grub understood enough of the filesystem to avoid the LILO cruft.

Now there seems to be about 5 layers of indirection, autodetection, probing, and shell scripting hacks to generate scripts that will eventually spit out a mess of obfuscated grub config files, and god forbid you touch any of this mess because any changes you make will be overwritten (a) next boot, (b) next time the scripts decide to update the config, (c) next system update, or (d) just whenever. All of this dynamic stuff to configure something that, for many systems, needs a config change about zero times per year.

2
0x0 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Debian 8 has gone back to a normal file in /etc/motd and has gotten rid of all the motd.tail shenanigans, though. :)
3
vmarsy 7 hours ago 3 replies      
This seems to be a (2010) post.

> .Did that really just take as long as I thought? This machine has a gigabit connection to the Internet. I must be imagining something.

> .Okay, I wasnt imagining something. It must have downloaded a TON of source!

 root@tessier:/usr/src/ubuntu# du -sh 19M.
> Oh. I guess not. But, hey, fuck git, or something.

Having a gigabit internet connection means you can download any content from any server in the world at 1Gb/s, right? /s

The tone of the post makes it pretty hard to take that rant seriously.

4
xupybd 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the same crap they pulled with networking. The first 30 mins after an Ubuntu install is now pulling out the automatic networking rubbish.
5
tomc1985 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Why do all these developers hate simplicity?
6
Adutude 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this might be a bikeshed discussion.

http://bikeshed.com

7
Paul_S 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember when I ran into login issues after switching from debian and tracking it down to the motd clusterfuck. My solution was to use hosts file to block any attempts to communicate with canonical. Probably saved myself extra hassles with other "smart dynamic" solutions.
8
keypusher 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If you care about this kind of stuff, you may want to consider running something other than Ubuntu. Debian, CentOS, FreeBSD, etc.
9
dfox 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that the cited motd(5) manpage cleanly states that breaking the /etc/motd symlink is what you should do if you want to manage it's contents yourself.
10
charonn0 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not unset the execute bit on the motd shell scripts? I seem to recall that being the solution for disabling motd in Ubuntu (at least it was a few years ago when I did it.)
11
rlpb 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Don't like it? Just drop the calls to pam_motd.so from /etc/pam.d/login. Done.
12
qwertyuiop924 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Ah... And we see one of the many roots of the cancer that metastacized into systemd. Because everybody expects all their live processes (screen included) to die when they log out, right?
29
Meccano Differential Analyzer hackaday.com
41 points by l1n  15 hours ago   7 comments top 3
1
webwanderings 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Why can't I freaking buy plain old Meccano anymore? I can't get that thing out of my mind from the childhood days. I had one beautiful meccano set some 35+ years ago. I don't care about these Reactor pre-made BS boxes.
2
pavel_lishin 12 hours ago 3 replies      
The most interesting thing to me is that there is such a thing as a torque amplifier. This sounds fascinating, and I have no idea how you'd go about building one.
3
tekklloneer 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw this in person at VCF West this weekend. Really interesting to see how values were set in person!
30
What If Addiction Is Not a Disease? chronicle.com
64 points by Hooke  7 hours ago   68 comments top 19
1
empath75 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Most addicts quit on their own:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200405/the-surprisi...

The reason that addiction treatment programs find it so hard to treat 'addicts' is that they're dealing with the small subset of people who, for one reason or another, can't quit on their own. It's sort of the opposite of survivorship bias.

2
andres_kytt 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
From system thinking perspective, addiction can be described pretty well with a fairly simple model of a few feedback loops. Regardless of the exact feedback structure, the mechanisms are both social and bilogical, human biology will get hurt in the process and the entire thing is likely to behave chaotically. This is why you can argue it's a disease (because you get biological causes and effects) and that it's not (because AA works by providing a balancing loop designed to be tolerant to substance abuse). And this is why you probably won't get to a clean medical diagnosis - a very similar set of factors can lead to a wide range of outcomes. Unless addiction is seen as a systemic issue, I can't really see how it could be better understood beyond describing less and less significant factors in more and more detail.
3
klagermkii 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> Researchers will track how various factors including diet, sleep patterns, gender, race, economic circumstance, air quality, and exercise habits, as well as substance use correlate with changes in the subjects brain scans over the years.

> "How cool will it be if we can collect data on 9- and 10-year-olds that will help predict how all young people will function in later life?" asks Garavan. "This is the sort of information that will truly help people parent, and legislate, and educate, and live healthy lives."

I'm not as enthusiastic about that future as Garavan is, and especially not the idea that it could shape legislation in any kind of significant way. Doubly so if it's going to be done via statistical models and correlation, rather than a deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved.

4
nhaliday 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Scott Alexander wrote something short but sweet on these kinds of questions: http://lesswrong.com/lw/2as/diseased_thinking_dissolving_que...
5
throwaway_6543 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The first thing you hear when you go to many treatment centers is that addiction is a disease. The 12 steps are posted on the wall and you are told you are "powerlessness" over it. You will hear, "It's not a problem of willpower." That idea will be driven into your skull many times.

I'm not sure I will ever understand addiction. But I know that when I accepted personal responsibility for the things that I did to myself and others in order to get drunk/high, life became a least a little easier. It's not perfect, but to use AA terminology it's not "unmanageable" anymore, at least not as much as it once was. And I am grateful to be where I am today. I guess, for me, my compulsion to drink and drug was mainly caused by my surroundings and upbringing.

Although I don't go to AA or NA anymore, if it is working for some, I hope they see it through. Whatever is getting you through to the next day as an alcoholic/addict, my advice is to keep doing it. Whether it is spiritual cleansing or acceptance or doses of naltrexone/buprenorphine.

6
ktRolster 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I kind of agree with this quote from the article (even though the article slants against this viewpoint):

ultimately I should be able to replicate your findings and you should be able to replicate my findings, otherwise its not science, its bullshit."

I absolutely, 100% support searching for alternative methods to help people who are drowning and suffering in addiction, but if a method doesn't work, there's no point in following it.

7
bane 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's an interesting idea. What if addiction is not something that falls on the binary classification of "choice|disease"? What if it's some other kind of phenomenon?
8
tossaway456 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Not seeing this here so I wanted point it out: from my own experience and 1st hand witnessing in others, that addiction is a Symptom, not a disease.

Underlying emotional pain is what causes people to literally self medicate.

This is not to say that substance abuse doesn't create actual physiological necessities to then continually consume the substance. It does- i.g. body stops producing it's own opioids when it starts to get them from the outside.

When someone begins using, then abusing, they are trying to relieve an underlying issue. The action is a symptom of a deeper problem expressing itself (the actual dis-ease). These issues are usually severely repressed and suppressed, so much so that one cannot articulate them-- only medicate them.

Digging out and resolving the root emotional issues goes a long way to curing someone. Afterwards, physiological damage still needs to be addressed.

9
caub 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Anything smoked is not only a disease, but a disease for every living being around
10
galuggus 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
One thing that has always puzzled me.

If addiction is a disease why wait for an addict to hit rock bottom?

Would you wait for a diabetic/heart disease patient to hit rock bottom before treatment?

11
kevindeasis 3 hours ago 0 replies      
In A Nutshell, has a nice [video] about addiction:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8L-0nSYzg&feature=youtu.be

Note: below is a link from reddit about their opinions from the video (maybe or maybe not they are actually a neuroscientist \_()_/ )

https://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/3qp6sa/everything_w...

12
richcollins 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of formerly beneficial adaptations have become "diseases" in the modern world (sugar cravings for instance).
13
topspin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Transmogrifying destructive habits into `disease' is public policy, and there is far too much establishment invested to tolerate this blasphemy. One can easily picture the furrowed brows of our elites as they quietly note the names of the latest additions to the unwritten list of pariah.
14
sjg007 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There are opioid antagonists that reduce cravings and drug and alcohol use. That combined with CBT or other therapies can help people move from a state of suffering as part of the disease towards remission.
15
justratsinacoat 5 hours ago 2 replies      
>ctrl+f "rat park"

Not found!? Well, I'm just the motile conglomeration of vermin for the job! "Rat Park", a utopia for rats, is (IMO) a critical component of the pushback against the disease model of addiction. An illustrated summary can be found in this lovely comic [0], while more interested parties can peruse the works of Dr Bruce Alexander, in the form of a blog-retrospective [1], or a slightly more technical presentation to the Canadian Senate [2], or his excellent book, The Globalization of Addiction: A Study of Poverty of the Spirit [3].

A layman-readable synthesis goes something like this: folk wisdom holds that some drugs are insanely addictive, as an inherent property of the drug. But this has generally [4] been borne out by introspective interviews of inveterate drug abusers and highly technical experimentation on lab animals (mostly social animals, like primates and rats). Introspection, for most domains of psychological study, is never used and treated as hearsay (it's not a contentious claim in psychology that people aren't good at examining their own mental states in a scientifically useful way). The methods of the experiments on social animals like rats and primates often dictate cramped, isolated and impoverished conditions. The "Rat Park" study took normal lab rats and placed them in an enormous array filled with nesting-boxes, large open areas, wheels and toys. The control rats, by contrast, were treated in every way identically to a standard addiction study -- tiny cage, no comforts, no stimulation but for a human changing their litter tray. Various experiments ensued, but even with different experimental treatments, the researchers couldn't induce addiction in the rats of Rat Park, while even fiercely bitter, heavily-diluted morphine-water was the choice of the isolated, imprisoned rat.

The orthodoxy of invincible permanent addiction was vanquished in these animals (and the minds of the researchers), by providing a more stimulating, spatious environment filled with fellow rats with whom to interact. This might say something important about the nature of addiction in other social animals, like humans.

[0] http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/comics_en/rat-park/

[1] http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/rat-park/14...

[2] http://www.parl.gc.ca/content/sen/committee/371/ille/present...

[3] https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=The+Globalisation+of+Ad...

[4] It IS true that you can see pretty drastic rewiring in the ventral tegmental area (which covers, generally, reward systems, drug addiction, strong emotions) with things like nicotine and cocaine, so the picture is probably more complicated than 'it's purely a social problem', but the ascendancy of the dogma of the disease model of addiction functionally prevents further study. Note that the Rat Park paper was very difficult to publish and received no attention for years.

16
tcj_phx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The idea that addiction is a disease was reinforced by decades of trying to help people with strategies that don't work. ... Pellagra is only cured with Vitamin B3; scurvy is only cured with Vitamin C. Treating diseases of nutritional deficiency with anything but the missing nutrients is an exercise in futility.

Addictions are not simple like Pellagra or Scurvy, but when you figure out what a specific person actually needs, they can rapidly recover. I've done it twice - my alcoholic friend is doing quite well; my poly-addict (opiates/cocaine/alcohol) would be doing quite well if she hadn't been captured and court-ordered to endure palliative Psychiatric treatment.

The Alcoholic became an alcoholic when she discovered that Vodka helped her anxiety more than Xanax. Benzodiazepienes lose effectiveness after about 4 weeks - when a person who is addicted to this class of drugs tries to quit, their anxiety is worse than it was before. She was peri-menopausal at the time, which was probably a huge factor...

As for the poly-addict.... When I met her, I said to myself, "this woman is 'high as a kite'..." As the months went by, she gradually invited me into her world, and I learned that she really was self-medicating with the street pharmacy.

She latched on to me like a life preserver. After almost six months of my influence, and a little non-quantifiable hocus-pocus, she called to share three insights, spread over 3 days:

 - "I wish I wasn't a drug addict..." - "I should only use substances which are legal!!! *Alcohol is legal...* " - "I hate methadone, I hate everything about it."
Before these insights, drugs were fine, because they'd always been there to help when she was suicidally depressed. Her alcoholism started a month after she began treatment with Methadone... The problem with methadone is that it has all of the addiction of heroin, but none of the thrill.

So after six months, she was doing rather well. But alcohol is hard to kick on your own, and she was taken to the hospital as "psychotic"... The psychiatrists got hold of her - it's been a disaster. . They pretend that the symptom of withdrawal from substances ("psychosis") justifies the use of so-called anti-psychotics in perpetuity. Robert Whitaker has looked at the evidence, and has concluded that there is no benefit to the routine use of these drugs [1]...

[1] http://www.madinamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-C...

The mental health field needs a clean-sheet redesign. Nothing else will help.

(edits: formatting, clarity )

17
force_reboot 5 hours ago 2 replies      
It's natural for compassionate people to prefer to characterize addition as a disease, because it gives a powerful argument for treating people with addiction compassionately. But this is deriving an "is" from an "ought".

In fact its very common in this kind of discussion to see an argument like "If you believe <positive statement> then you must support <morally abhorrent policy>". But mostly the morally abhorrent policy doesn't actually follow from the positive statement, and if the person making this argument were forced to accept the positive statement, they would not in fact support the policy. In this debate

 <positive statement> = addiction is not a disease <morally abhorrent policy> = people with addiction don't deserve any sympathy or help

18
douche 5 hours ago 4 replies      
The AA model of embracing helplessness needs to die in a fire. I've never seen such a depressing pseudoreligion, denying people agency in their own lives, promoting a bizarre sort of monasticism (if you actually do the stepwork as fanatically as you're supposed to).
19
posterboy 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The Chronicle? Who wrote the article, dr dre?
       cached 9 August 2016 07:02:01 GMT