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1
WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages theguardian.com
1324 points by katpas  2 days ago   319 comments top 62
1
sctb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Current thread on the response to this article: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13394900
2
niksakl 2 days ago 7 replies      
Well, I kind of feel that I have to repost my comment on this old thread[1] with regards to the government of Egypt blocking Signal application:

"Isn't it "weird" that they chose to block Signal app and not the signal-protocol based Whatsapp?If Whatsapp really implements the same kind of security and privacy measures that Signal does, why is Whatsapp allowed to continue operating?If signal is preventing them spy on users and they ban it, is in't it safe to assume that Whatsapp is NOT preventing them spy on users, so they let it operate? Wouldn't you expect Whatsapp to be also targeted, especially considering the broad user-base it has compared to Signal?Yes, I know they had blocked Whatsapp in the past, but they didn't block it now. Which means that something has changed in the relationship of the Egyptian gov and Whatsapp since 2015."

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13219304

3
geocar 2 days ago 7 replies      
I remember receiving the downvote brigade[1], when Moxie himself said that I should trust WhatsApp without having the source code and the ability to put it on my device.

We (even a "smart" community like HN) clearly do not have the ability to think critically about security, and even when our leaders are sincere -- and I really don't mean to suggest Moxie/Signal was complicit in this move -- we still rush to defend our champions so quickly that we don't even think about what's going on.

However something really important is that this might be mere incompetence: FaceBook might not have any mechanism for launching this attack, they just thought the notification message was annoying so they didn't display it. To that end we need to be vigilant about stupidity as well.

Where does it end? Will we actually stop being okay with buffer overflows and sloppy programming? Or are we going to continue trying to "be safer" and use "safe languages" and continuing to try to solve the problem of too much code to read clearly with more code.

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11669395

4
hannob 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some more background:

This was presented in the lightning talks at 33c3, starting around minute 48: https://media.ccc.de/v/33c3-8089-lightning_talks_day_4

Here's the congress wiki with some more links:https://events.ccc.de/congress/2016/wiki/Lightning:A_Backdoo...

And a blogpost:https://tobi.rocks/2016/04/whats-app-retransmission-vulnerab...

5
jaymzcampbell 2 days ago 4 replies      
The key part is this, and it was apparently reported back in April 2016 with Facebook replying it's "expected behavior", it's not something a general attacker can do but it would enable WhatsApp/Facebook to read conversations:

> WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.

It's worth noting as the article says, that this is built on top of the Signal protocol. In Signal, a similar situation with a user changing key offline will result in failure of delivery. Within WhatsApp under Settings>Account>Security there is an option to Show Security Notifications which will notify you if a users key has changed.

6
frabbit 2 days ago 3 replies      
Nothing to worry about according to Gizmodo:

 > The supposed backdoor the Guardian is describing is > actually a feature working as intended, and it would > require significant collaboration with Facebook to be > able to snoop on and intercept someones encrypted > messages, something the company is extremely unlikely > to do.
http://gizmodo.com/theres-no-security-backdoor-in-whatsapp-d...

I, for one, certainly cannot imagine Facebook collaborating to such an extent with the government.

7
Arathorn 2 days ago 1 reply      
At the risk of stating the obvious: there is real benefit to using an entirely decentralised open source comms system like Riot.im (Matrix) or Conversations (XMPP), where you can pick precisely which app to run, who to trust to build that app, who to trust to advertise your public keys, and who to host your server.

It's inevitable that big centralised services like WhatsApp or even Signal are going to be under pressure from governments to support lawful intercept; in many countries it's essentially illegal to run a communication service that can't be snooped under a court order. Multinationals like Facebook are neither going to want to break the law (as it ends up with their senior management getting arrested: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/01/brazil-po...) - nor pull out of those territories (given WhatsApp market penetration in Brazil is 98.5% or similar).

8
pilif 2 days ago 8 replies      
No matter what IM service you use: As long as they manage the public keys for their users, they will be vulnerable to exactly this problem. This isn't just WhatsApp. This applies to iMessage and Signal too.

In all cases, we rely on the word of the service provider that they don't sneak additional public keys to encrypt for into the clients and in all cases we hear that doing so would cause a message dialog to appear, but we have zero control over that as this is just an additional software functionality (yes. Signal is Open Source, but do you know whether the software you got from the App Store is the software that's on Github?)

Also imagine the confusion and warning-blindness it would cause if every time one of my friends gets a new device I'd get huge warnings telling me that public keys have changed.

This is a hard problem to solve in a user-friendly way and none of the current IM providers really solve it. Maybe Threema does it best with their multiple levels of authenticity.

As such I think it's unfair to just complain about WhatsApp here.

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guidovranken 2 days ago 4 replies      
From the outset I've always expected that a backdoor was present in Whatsapp. In fact, I'd be surprised if they hadn't granted themselves some special capabilities with regards to the content of the communications. Touting their end-to-end encryption has enticed many people to trust the product, sometimes with strong conviction, while giving themselves a monopoly on access to communication perceived as secure by the end users. It stands to reason that claims about security and privacy of an end product (the Whatsapp app), no matter how lofty the goals that its creator (especially a murky company like Facebook) has purportedly set out to realize, can be verified without being completely open. There is software out there like OpenSSL that is developed by PhD's, and is completely open and available to anyone who wishes to validate its security, yet vulnerabilities are found years after they've been introduced into the code. Claims to Whatsapp's security/privacy are preposterous a priori.
10
agd 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Asked to comment specifically on whether Facebook/WhatApp had accessed users messages and whether it had done so at the request of government agencies or other third parties, it directed the Guardian to its site that details aggregate data on government requests by country."

This is why people should try and use Signal instead of WhatsApp. You can't trust Facebook to care about your privacy.

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leecarraher 2 days ago 1 reply      
C'mon we know this already, it's not a backdoor.

This has been known and is discussed in the protocol and forums as the trade off in ease-of-use versus validation. For people wanting security, they simply check the verify keys, warn on key change. For people who don't care as much about verifying the recipient, they don't know about the feature, and don't use it, but they still get pretty good security, can upgrade to verifying if the choose, all without having to re-key or change protocols/messenger apps.

12
andyjohnson0 2 days ago 1 reply      
More details in "WhatsApp Retransmission Vulnerability" [1] from April last year.

[1] https://tobi.rocks/2016/04/whats-app-retransmission-vulnerab...

13
lvh 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is not a backdoor. It is a vuln, and it'd be nice if it wasn't there, but this is not a backdoor.

There is no reason to assume this was "snuck in" with an intent to deceive users. Retransmission has been known and discussed repeatedly, months ago, and Facebook acknowledged it. What happened here is a choice of UX over security, specifically, choosing not to break existing WA users as they move them over to the otherwise great Signal protocol.

When a key changes, you can just keep trying, notify the user, or drop everything on the floor. If you want the latter, use Signal.

It would be nice if WhatsApp made 2 the default, and 3 optional. Right now 1 is the default and 2 is the option. The trick is to get the UX somewhere where normal people can do something useful with that information.

If you are at all upset about this, you are not a target WhatsApp user. It'd be nice if they changed this, but for the love of all that is good and holy, stop calling it a backdoor, because it isn't. Words mean things.

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cm2187 2 days ago 2 replies      
But if whatsapp owns the code, they don't need a backdoor. They can simply push an update that sends a copy of the msg to whatever server they may like.
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gourou 2 days ago 0 replies      
>The desire to protect people's private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it's personal. I grew up in the USSR during communist rule, and the fact that people couldn't speak freely is one of the reasons my family moved to the United States

Jan Koum and Brian Acton, founders of Whatsapp

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jgaa 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's pretty obvious that we cannot trust any messenger app that is closed source or relies on some company's service infrastructure. If it's closed source, you cannot possible know what it does. If it's relying on a company's infrastructure, it's likely to be banned by oppressive governments (and that includes most of the so called "free world"). In frustration over my own Government (Norway), I started last year a project to launch a new IM client based on the legacy TorChat protocol (https://github.com/jgaa/darkspeak). It turned out to be way more work than I expected - so it's been on hold for a few months while I spend time on some more urgent projects. However, I think p2p IM software, based on open source, over Tor (or similar technologies) is the only way to preserve privacy and confidentiality in the future.
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jmlr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone heard anything from Moxie Marlinspike on this? Would be interesting to hear his perspective - Open Whisper Systems helped out with the encryption.
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blorgle 2 days ago 1 reply      
It doesn't matter whether you use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger "Secret Conversations" or even Signal app (or PGP or any public key based communications system)!.

If you are not verifying key fingerprints out of band, then you are potentially vulnerable to a malicious server MITMing new sessions.

If you want secure end-to-end messaging, verify keys out of band, do not solely trust a 3rd party for key exchange!

19
zzzzz99997 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is anyone surprised? Facebook owns them, and Facebook has been in the back pocket of the intelligence agencies for at least half a decade.
20
benevol 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anybody seriously still doubt that all the main US tech/communication products all have backdoors?
21
therealmarv 2 days ago 2 replies      
The biggest security issue on WhatsApp are the backups, especially the cloud backups not the protocol and this so called "backdoor" itself. Pictures not encrypted on backups, encryption keys of backups stored on WhatsApp side which might or might not (???) have access to your cloud backups on Google Drive and iCloud. If a government (USA?) gets access to one of your or your friends backups and the encryption key it can see all of the conversation. This is for me the weakest point of WhatsApp.
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torrent-of-ions 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't believe that so many apparently security conscious people accepted WhatsApp as being OK. For years we've known and been told that any security software must have publicly available algorithms and source code. And then all of a sudden WhatsApp was lauded for protecting users' privacy when it is itself proprietary, closed-source program, owned by a company notorious for not not respecting user privacy.
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burnbabyburn 2 days ago 0 replies      
"why don't you use whatsapp now that it has built in encryption like your Signal?"

meh.

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ycmbntrthrwaway 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Boelter said: [Some] might say that this vulnerability could only be abused to snoop on single targeted messages, not entire conversations. This is not true if you consider that the WhatsApp server can just forward messages without sending the message was received by recipient notification (or the double tick), which users might not notice. Using the retransmission vulnerability, the WhatsApp server can then later get a transcript of the whole conversation, not just a single message.

Actually it is not that easy. Signal protocol [0] does not have any inherent delivery notification, but it is implemented in the application [1]. If attacker wants to deliver messages two-way without delivering receipts, it has to recognize them somehow. Of course you can try to guess by not delivering the first message after each delivery, but it seems too unreliable for a backdoor.

[0] https://whispersystems.org/docs/specifications/doubleratchet...

[1] https://support.whispersystems.org/hc/en-us/articles/2125355...

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Tepix 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've used signal for quite a while but went back to Threema because the messages were delayed too often.

What are opinions about Matrix (matrix.org) used with the Riot client?

This combo checks all the boxes that Signal checks (including the Olm ratchet, a close relative of the Signal ratchet), and adds :

- decentralization (run your own server)

- no need to disclose your phone number

26
bartl 2 days ago 0 replies      
> in many parts of the world, people frequently change devices and Sim cards. In these situations, we want to make sure peoples messages are delivered, not lost in transit.

That quote sounds even more alarming to me than the description of the backdoor. Because, as I read it: the unencrypted message is not stored on the device, but somewhere else. How else would they be able to still deliver a message, using a new encryption key, even after the sender switched to a new phone?

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newscracker 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Boelter reported the backdoor vulnerability to Facebook in April 2016, but was told that Facebook was aware of the issue, that it was expected behaviour and wasnt being actively worked on. The Guardian has verified the backdoor still exists.

This is really damning on the part of Facebook and WhatsApp! How could they just brush this off as "expected behavior" and wasn't being actively worked on? I guess their priorities are where a social media company like Facebook would have them be - make more avenues to monetize the usage.

The initial response from the WhatsApp spokesperson is just PR speak, and really terrible for a response (until the direct question came up and another statement was issued).

It's sad that Signal and Open Whisper Systems are being dragged in here, because many people may just look at the headline, probably skim the beginning of the article a little bit and assume that the OWS implementation is the culprit or that OWS is somehow complicit in this.

28
jgowdy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why do we sit here and argue about whether people should use WhatsApp or Signal? It's Facebook. How can we talk about Facebook as a serious candidate for private end to end messaging when they're one of the world's biggest data brokers? Why wouldn't you just use Signal and recommend it to everyone?
29
kriive 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not a crypto guy, but I'm trying to understand how this backdoor could be used by governments or WhatsApp/Facebook itself. I'm not entirely sure how such an attack based on this backdoor would work.

The article says that WhatsApp servers have the ability to trigger the clients to generate new keys, but even with new keys how can the server read the messages at all? Has the server got a copy of the new generated keys?

Probably there is something big I'm missing.

30
andrepd 2 days ago 0 replies      
For everyone who is (rightfully) upset about this: turn your anger into action, donate to people who are actually concerned about your privacy and who are taking action to defend it. I suggest OpenWhisperSystems:

https://freedom.press/crowdfunding/signal/

31
stefek99 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a typical example to CONVENIENCE.

It's convenient to re-send the message.

No one serious of privacy would ever use Facebook / WhatsApp.

So the title is a click-bait. The decision behind re-sending is based purely on convenience and cost-benefit analysis.

Actually I think they should display a notification / popup / warning whatever.

32
aembleton 2 days ago 1 reply      
How do I know that my Android phone doesn't have a backdoor keylogging everything that I type and uploading it to Google/NSA each night?

I haven't rooted and installed wireshark on this device, but even if I did it could just not send it whilst that is logging. Or, it could be that wireshark doesn't see everything. Or I just wouldn't notice as there are many packets going back and forth between my phone and Google.

I suppose I could install Cyanogen and not install Gapps. But then, how do you know that Cyanogen isn't compromised?

Life's too short. Facebook messenger is convenient and most of my friends use it so I go for it. I just assume that all of my communication and more seriously location data for the last few years are logged with the intelligence agencies.

33
woliveirajr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Without being open-source, who can assure that there isn't always encryption with a second backdoor key ?

I can't easily even see a hash of my key, how do I know it has or hasn't changed? It's pretty easy to have a feature that only shows some of the keys changes and not all of them.

34
unicornporn 2 days ago 0 replies      
> [] In the WhatsApp case, chat data is end-to-end encrypted, and there is nothing the company can do to assist the FBI in reading already encrypted messages. This case would be about forcing WhatsApp to make an engineering change in the security of its software to create a new vulnerability -- one that they would be forced to push onto the user's device to allow the FBI to eavesdrop on future communications. This is a much further reach for the FBI, but potentially a reasonable additional step if they win the Apple case.

[1] https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/03/possible_gove...

35
patmcguire 2 days ago 0 replies      
This headline is not the article headline. It's not a small change either. There is a huge difference between:

"WhatsApp vulnerability allows snooping on encrypted messages"

and

"WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages"

36
rodrigo-mx 2 days ago 0 replies      
In countries like Mexico, carriers do not charge your data use of fb and WhatsApp. They offer it as free social network. I am sure government is behind of such a good will to users from big companies. You get free communication in exchange from your privacy.
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bossx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook 100% reads your "encrypted" WhatsApp messages. I had a conversation with someone about a very unique topic on WhatsApp, 5 minutes later I see remarketing ads on Facebook about the same topic.
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the_duke 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well, if anyone is surprised by this... you really should'nt have been.

I still use it. Lock in effect. But I never would have trusted their encryption nearly enough to send anything sensitive.

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philliphaydon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some of my friends refuse to use LINE, claiming WhatsApp is totally secure and LINE is really insecure.

If my messages are going to be read I would rather they be full of stickers.

I love LINE.

40
sfifs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Look there's no defense against the company WhatsApp itself. They are managing the public key infrastructure AND the message forwarding infrastructure.

The clients are not verifying the keys independent of WhatsApp. If WhatsApp have to (pushed by governments) or want to (FB advertising enrichment) they can always MITM conversations.

The question is whether others can read the data in transit - and the answer is still no.

41
nmgsd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why you should never trust proprietary secure messaging solutions that offer you both the client and the channel.

The future of trusted secure messaging will be open source, auditable, independent non-native clients that connect and send over third party message channels independently.

See https://www.seecret.io

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anoother 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The recipient is not made aware of this change in encryption, while the sender is only notified if they have opted-in to encryption warnings in settings, and only after the messages have been re-sent.

Surely this is backwards. It's the recipient who is notified about key changes when the relevant setting is enabled.

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tristor 2 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like this shouldn't surprise me, but I had a lot more faith than was probably warranted in the guys behind WhatsApp. Part of it was I was so impressed with their backend tech, I just felt these were people like me that had similar cares and concerns that I do, including security, privacy, and performance. So when they implemented the Signal protocol, it was like a sign that I really had been right to trust them.

This is a sad day, because BILLIONS of people use WhatsApp. I wish I could get everyone to convert to Signal, but as I travel around the world WhatsApp is the most used way to communicate with people. Just today I added two additional local contacts to my WhatsApp so I could communicate here with them.

I wish I had a clearer understanding of the incentives here. Is this pure government strong-arm style coercion with NSLs, or is this intentional malfeasance on the part of executive management hoping to data mine for their own profits? Is it an innocent mistake? The technical talent was there to do this right, and they flubbed it anyway. WhatsApp implementing the Signal protocol was one of our great hopes for having legitimate worldwide secure communications in the hands of everyone in the coming decade. Now it's all lost...

:*(

44
kutkloon7 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find this hardly surprising. Somehow the USA government is very, very good at convincing companies to spy on their users.
45
breatheoften 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is worth changing the behavior of the client to fix this. At time of sending the recipient's key is known -- there should be no circumstances where the message is re-encrypted for a different recipient without the sender's explicit involvement...
46
feral 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am flagging this article, as the headline and first few paragraphs are very misleading, based on my understanding from: https://tobi.rocks/2016/04/whats-app-retransmission-vulnerab...

They make it sound like an intentional backdoor has been introduced to WhatsApp to facilitate monitoring.

Rather, it seems like there's a weakness in the implementation, where if a message is undelivered, an attacker could trick the sender's client into sending the undelivered message to a new key they control.

That does seem like a weakness, but not an intentional backdoor as the article initially lead me to believe. I could see how someone would trade off ease of use and message delivery with security and make that call.

Yes, it could be a subtle backdoor (with limited exploitation), and yes, open source clients would be great. But real end users use WhatsApp to encrypt their private messages on a scale never before achieved, because of the usability tradeoffs they've made. I think we should bear that in mind before describing any implementation tradeoff as a 'backdoor'.

47
tinus_hn 2 days ago 0 replies      
The complaint here seems similar to complaining ssl is insecure because the certificate authorities can create certificates at will.

Whatsapp can't do this without leaving traces and if they did this on a larger scale without only doing it with people that don't care to look for the signs, someone is bound to find out.

48
frabbit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seeing as we're on the topic of encrypted comms, anyone have an analysis/critique of SpiderOak's "Semaphor"?

https://spideroak.com/solutions/semaphor

49
barbs 2 days ago 0 replies      
So this was on the front page with 1302 points at time of writing, and now it's nowhere to be found...

Is there a quirk with HN's algorithm that I'm not aware of, or is there something else afoot? A mass-flagging? A manual take-down of sorts?

50
rethab 2 days ago 0 replies      
Who would have guessed..
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mtgx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does the safety numbers verification do anything against this, or can they bypass that as well?
52
pokemongoaway 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there are recommendations for video chat / conference calling yet? Googling around leads one to believe that WhatsApp's is the most security-minded video calling available that's widely available...
53
rahilb 2 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't this mean that only subsequent messages can be decrypted? i.e. Whatsapp has provided forward secrecy (as long as they haven't been using this trick from the initial secrets that were set up)?
54
paradite 2 days ago 0 replies      
The moral of the story is, don't exchange messages electronically if you are expecting privacy.

The only real private way of exchanging information is face-to-face in a private place.

55
sidcool 2 days ago 0 replies      
How does one protect oneself for this?
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bandrami 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wait... you mean key management is hard to get right with a large and distributed userbase? Who knew?
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vorticalbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't this mean that only unsent messages are vulnerable, as they are sent with the new key?
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vonklaus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, really pretty much confirms what everyone already believed.
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known 2 days ago 0 replies      
If You're Not Paying for It; You're the Product;
60
tuyguntn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am not a security expert, but for me Moxie lost his credibility, even though he maybe one of the best crypto experts out there
61
niyalmo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Use Signal. Get everyone around you to use it. Seriously. Facebook is a for-profit that gets all of its money from ads (just like Google), would you seriously expect them to protect your privacy?
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mistermcg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a conversation about whatsapp capabilities recently with an assistant state AG. This person debunked the notion that whatsapp is secure from government snooping and further intoned that you don't even need a FISA court to provide a warrant to get to the target's information. Any judge can issue the warrant for a line tap and the target would never be the wiser as they are sealed in secrecy.
2
There is no WhatsApp 'backdoor' whispersystems.org
989 points by stablemap  2 days ago   398 comments top 46
1
jMyles 2 days ago 10 replies      
Color me still-unconvinced.

This retort does not address the fundamental point made in the Guardian piece:

> [Some] might say that this vulnerability could only be abused to snoop on single targeted messages, not entire conversations. This is not true if you consider that the WhatsApp server can just forward messages without sending the message was received by recipient notification (or the double tick), which users might not notice. Using the retransmission vulnerability, the WhatsApp server can then later get a transcript of the whole conversation, not just a single message.

2
psranga 2 days ago 1 reply      
I take this blog post as confirmation that:

1) ANY one message can be intercepted even if the sender exhibits ideal levels of alertness [Whatsapp server drops message to recipient; sends a rekey request with a fake key; message is intercepted since fake key was generated by server. Sender will see a warning if they turned on that setting (default is to show no warning), but it's too late].

2) Only Whatsapp has this vuln, not Signal app.

3) Depending on sloppiness of sender, more extensive interception is possible. [E.g., server not supplying delivery reports + sender doesn't have warning for key changes + sender sloppy about noticing lack of double check mark => full transcript can be generated]

3
YeGoblynQueenne 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think all this is by-the-by. The gist of The Guardian's article was that WhatsApp has full control of when, if and how your messages are encrypted, and if you're a dissident working against an oppressive regime and you use WhatsApp to collaborate with your allies, your ass is grass, because there isn't anything physically preventing security agencies from getting hold of your communications.

That such security agencies have the power to force WhatsApp (or anyone) to comply with their demands is without doubt. A really secure system for activists would be one that makes it impossible even for the provider to read your messages, under any circumstances. WhatsApp is not just not that, it is also ridiculously easy for them to read your messages, if they so choose and you use it at your own risk.

4
kentonv 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love this post for the in-depth explanation of the UX challenges around e2e encryption and why they made the decisions they did. It's educational.

I think Moxie highlights a very good point that is commonly underrated among "security Dunning-Krugers": Opening yourself to the possibility of an attack is often OK if the attack is easily detectable, and if the identity of the attacker would be obvious upon detection. Yes, Facebook could intercept and decrypt a message without your advance knowledge. However, you would be able to detect it after the fact. And if you detected an attack, the attacker could be no one other than Facebook. You could then expose them and ruin their reputation. Given this, it's unlikely that Facebook would risk carrying out such an attack in the first place.

Security is not binary, it's risk management. The goal is to minimize the risk of an attack, not to rule it out entirely (hint: you can't). I think WhatsApp has made the right choices here.

5
sebleon 2 days ago 4 replies      
At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting WhatsApp. Even without a backdoor in their protocol, they can easily do all kinds of things.

For instance, it could instruct specific clients to encrypt and send each message twice: one for the recipient, and one for the WhatsApp server. As long as this was off for 99.9% of users, it's unlikely that security researchers would ever detect this.

6
tyrust 2 days ago 4 replies      
>The WhatsApp clients have been carefully designed so that they will not re-encrypt messages that have already been delivered. Once the sending client displays a "double check mark," it can no longer be asked to re-send that message. This prevents anyone who compromises the server from being able to selectively target previously delivered messages for re-encryption.

Can this be verified? Can this be verified to be the case 100% of the time? Is there anything stopping the client from lying to a user [0] with this interface, saying one thing (i.e. "this will not be resent") and doing another (i.e. resending)?

[0] - Or being triggered to lie to a particular user at a particular time.

7
olegkikin 2 days ago 1 reply      
It actually doesn't matter. They are talking about comprimising the servers. The government has the power to force a backdoor (remember Lavabit?). All Whatsapp has to do is update their client, and all the beautiful encryption schemes are ruined.

If you need a truly secure communication system, it has to be open source and self-hosted. You still have to trust the hardware though.

8
kingnight 2 days ago 3 replies      
This main flagrant or off-topic, but something that nags at me when thinking about truly secure messaging apps from the App Store:

Even with perfect e2e encryption protocol added, what's preventing WhatsApp developers (FB) from adding in a feature of the app:

if local.user is "TargetUser007" { takeDeviceSnap(); sendDeviceSnapshotToFBOverSameEncryption();}

Wouldn't this not be ever verifiable unless you ARE that specific user and it's too late?

9
ycmbntrthrwaway 2 days ago 4 replies      
> That would leak information to the server about who has enabled safety number change notifications and who hasn't, effectively telling the server who it could MITM transparently and who it couldn't; something that WhatsApp considered very carefully.

I am not convinced. Why should this option exist at all? Even worse, it is disabled by default. Just enable notifications for everyone and demand verification. If you don't want to verify, just ticking "veryfied" without actual verification is not that bad, it is just a trust-on-first-use principle in action. Actually it is how SSH works and nobody complains about SSH being backdoored.

10
mhandley 2 days ago 0 replies      
Moxie claimed:> "The choice to make these notifications "blocking" would in some ways make things worse. That would leak information to the server about who has enabled safety number change notifications and who hasn't, effectively telling the server who it could MITM transparently and who it couldn't; something that WhatsApp considered very carefully."

Surely if WhatsApp cared about the server not being able to detect this, they could just get the client to "retransmit" an encrypted blank message in place of the original under these circumstances. Then the server wouldn't be able to tell who has enabled blocking mode and who hasn't.

11
aaronbrager 2 days ago 0 replies      
WhatsApp should make three hanged:

1. handle new keys the same way Chrome handles expired SSL certs: a big warning with the option to continue anyway if you want

2. Don't automatically resend a message with a new key (require the user to manually resend, like when iMessage falls back on MMS)

3. enable the key change notifications and make disabling them an "advanced" setting

WhatsApp is making the right choice by designing for ease of use, I think they just landed a little too far away from a secure implementation.

12
hackcasual 2 days ago 4 replies      
tl;dr to me seems: Since users can change devices, they'll need to reissue key material, this needs to be supported. WhatsApp reports key changing optionally, but doesn't tell the server that happened.

If WhatsApp tries to backdoor a channel and one of the users has key change notification, they'll find out about it, and WhatsApp has no idea whether the warning was shown.

13
nullc 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's remarkably hard to tell if a key has changed with a peer in signal. It gives you some small faded text between messages which is easily scrolled off by the other party making a lot of comments.

Once its off your screen, there is no way to tell that you've never authenticated the current key. No mark, not even burred in a menu.

So perhaps I should not surprised to see the authors of the worst public key management security that I've ever actually used defending even worse public key management security.

14
agd 2 days ago 2 replies      
'Given the size and scope of WhatsApp's user base, we feel that their choice to display a non-blocking notification is appropriate. It provides transparent and cryptographically guaranteed confidence in the privacy of a user's communication, along with a simple user experience. The choice to make these notifications "blocking" would in some ways make things worse. That would leak information to the server about who has enabled safety number change notifications and who hasn't, effectively telling the server who it could MITM transparently and who it couldn't; something that WhatsApp considered very carefully.'

Why not have every client show up as having safety number change notifications on and just choose whether to display them client side depending on user settings? i.e. if you have them off, no message will display and the message will automatically be resent using the new key?

15
_jp__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of course there is a backdoor. Why not? Under what law whatsapp and whispersystems live? The one with secret courts and secret court orders?. How to trust someone under this umbrella?

We need to spread technology companies. Everything but a bunch of things comes from this law.

And what starts in another country, magicaly gets bought or dismissed. Take Symbian as an example...

16
Eager 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh give me a break

7.7 billion people in this planet are not part of ISIS.

Nice business model though.

Even if WhatsApp or Telegram or Signal are not compromised, you realky should assume the kernel or baseband are.

When I was a kid, I did an experiment cracking Apple] [ software.

Turns out forget the disk encryption, just hook up the NMI interrupt and you are golden... snapshot whenever you want.

Seriously, security is a joke. Nothing is safe. Get over it.

17
throw7 2 days ago 5 replies      
What is the user supposed to do when they get notified of a "safety number changed" message? How do they verify they've not just been MITM? Honest question... I don't use whatsapp or signal at all.
18
joeblau 2 days ago 7 replies      
There seems to be a pretty clear war going on between engineers and journalists lately.

- Chris Latter [1] vs Business Insider [2]

- Elon Musk vs (Bunch of outlets)

- Moxie vs The Guardian

I feel like journalists want to write a compelling story and engineers are on the other side like "No, those aren't facts!" I don't follow a lot of media outlets but it seems like journalists either lack the skills or don't care about doing any technical due diligence.

[1] - https://twitter.com/clattner_llvm/status/819974025371787264

[2] - http://www.businessinsider.com/how-apples-culture-of-secrecy...

19
_Codemonkeyism 1 day ago 1 reply      
Call me paranoid, but the thing which is strange to me is that Whisper talks about this defending Facebook/WhatsApp.

This makes me highly suspicion my usage of Signal :-(

20
ucy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The real "Whatsapp Backdoor" is that, by default, the app stores a backup of all your messages on "teh cloud". On android, that's google.

So google can play "eve", and every run of the mill script kiddie that can get your google credentials may "restore" your messages. How convenient.

And that's the default settings. So, even if you turn it off, "mallory" can steal the credentials of your contact and snoop into your conversation that way.

21
theveloped 2 days ago 0 replies      
As with all end-to-end encryption it stops at the "end". It is this unencrypted state, in which humans consume data, that can't be defended by crypto.

Therefore the only way to be completely safe, is to make sure both you and your conversation partner don't decrypt their message until it's on an offline device only you have access to.

But end-to-end encryption where the interface (mobile app/phone) is controlled by the parties you want to protect your data from is not possible. WhatsApp could send freaking screenshots back of the unencrypted data if they wanted. For nearly all other threat models whatsApp's encryption is a wonderful add-on.

22
dx034 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't get the complains here. Whatsapp is used by over a billion people and offers end2end encryption for them. A system that mainly targets people with little tech experience can never be kept 100% secure. If they make it harder to switch phones, people would stop using whatsapp.

The only vulnerability seems to be that they could prevent delivery messages. I'm sure that most people would notice if they suddenly son't see the 2 ticks, even if the other person answered. And if you want your conversation to be secret, that's a major red flag, now that this is known.

And if I get a phone change notification even though the other person didn't change their phones I'd also be confused at least. When I last changed my phone, a lot of people noticed because of the notification and asked me. And those were not tech savvy people, they were just wondering why I got a new phone.

Spying on conversations (especially by govt agencies) is only effective if the target doesn't know about it. It seems that Whatsapp has no way of enforcing that without the user noticing.

23
quickben 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't user whatsapp, but a general question to these that do:

Can the server change keys twice?

Change once to server keys, ask for the entire history retransmission.

Change again to revert to original receipient keys.

Will the receipient be prompted in that case?

24
ryan_j_naughton 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't a better defense be to not re-transmit messages encrypted with the new key unless the originating user clicks a button authorizing it AFTER they have been informed that the receiving user has a new key??
25
newsat13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yawn. Next what, whatsapp is not going to use monetizing to advertise? Why don't we just all admit that all our data is being plundered by corporations to make money and just leave it at that? Seriously, nobody cares about their data being used by corporations for profit. Just be honest about it.. and you will see that people continue to use whatsapp or signal or whatever the current fad is.
26
FabHK 1 day ago 0 replies      
Response by the finder of the vulnerability:

As Eike Khl pretty well describes, this functionality only increases usability in a rare corner case: When you dump your phone in the ocean and you need a month to get a new one. Then everyone who has sent you a message during this period will not need to press an additional "OK" button.

https://tobi.rocks/2017/01/what-is-facebook-going-to-do-a-su...

27
pasta 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe I don't get exactly what this means, but isn't it true that if see a message that someone's signature changed and the other person sees this also and we both choose to ignore this message the man in the middle can read all our new conversations?

Ofcourse if then one of us checks the signature later and sees it is not correct this would be very harmfull for whatsapp.

But this indeed doesn't sound like a backdoor. It's just the way it works. Which seems good enough.

28
disiplus 2 days ago 1 reply      
> The choice to make these notifications "blocking" would in some ways make things worse. That would leak information to the server about who has enabled safety number change notifications and who hasn't, effectively telling the server who it could MITM transparently and who it couldn't; something that WhatsApp considered very carefully.

could not this be saved only localy ?

29
LinuxFreedom 2 days ago 3 replies      
We can learn one important thing here - it is not possible to trust closed source software. Enough said, next issue please.
30
Sami_Lehtinen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Telegram made different choice. Secret chats do get broken, if ephemeral key renewal fails. Queued messages won't get encrypted with new key automatically. Of course at times this is annoying.
31
lwyr 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why is moxie doing PR for WhatsApp?
32
throay123124 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have been contemplating deleting my facebook for 6 months. I finally pulled the trigger just now. I don't trust the company at all. Too many smokes and mirrors in what they do.
34
kemonocode 1 day ago 0 replies      
If I worked for WhatsApp (Or conversely, if WhatsApp used an implementation of something I've made, thus making it hugely popular in the process) I'd certainly say there's no backdoor indeed.

Conflicts of interest.

35
rebuilder 2 days ago 1 reply      
So full-on paranoia mode on: What would you do if you wanted to compare safety numbers? I'm guessing most people would call and read out the code.

How far are we from targeted interception of calls, with replacement of key phrases? Voice synthesis seems to be there more or less, if I understood Adobe's recent demo correctly, but real-time parsing of conversations to determine where to intervene is probably not close yet.

36
xg15 1 day ago 0 replies      
So if the security of Whatsapp's keys hinges so much on the key change notifications, why turn them off by default? Why allow them to be turned off at all?

No one (today) would get the idea to make https warnings optional even though that audience is even broader than Whatsapp's. (Possibly even because that audience is so broad)

37
pepijndevos 1 day ago 0 replies      
> We believe that WhatsApp remains a great choice for users concerned with the privacy of their message content.

What about meta-data? Even Signal uses Google's push service to send your messages, and WhatsApp is even known to collect meta-data. (IIRC they changed their EULA recently)

38
wslh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Probably it is not a backdoor but still insecure. End to end encryption is not what they offer but they make you think you are safe. They should clearly state that in a big splash message.
39
ljk 2 days ago 0 replies      
seems like the original thread has fallen off the front page https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13389935
40
ryeguy_24 2 days ago 0 replies      
Did Hacker News delete the original Guardian WhatsApp article post?
41
zspitzer 2 days ago 1 reply      
What about https://web.whatsapp.com? It grants full access to the entire message archive on your phone
42
RRRA 1 day ago 0 replies      
Terrible UX combined with unsane default, at best...
43
maglavaitss 1 day ago 0 replies      
A vulnerability you know of and choose to ignore IS a backdoor. All the rest is fancy talk.
44
baybal2 2 days ago 0 replies      
They are trying to say that an intentionally placed backdoor is not a backdoor? ha ha
45
leecarraher 2 days ago 0 replies      
thanks
46
carlos808 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Guardian slipped up again, expect more BS from their incompetent journalists.
3
I Turned a Routine Traffic Ticket into a Constitutional Trial thepublicdiscourse.com
857 points by anarazel  1 day ago   447 comments top 40
1
hedora 1 day ago 4 replies      
I got a red light ticket for a car I no longer own. I have a receipt of electronic transfer of title dated 6 months before the incident, passport stamps and travel documents proving I was out of the country, and the person in the photo was of the wrong gender and ethnicity.

I fought it via mail. It took multiple round trips. At each step the potential fine more than doubled. If I did not respond correctly or in time, I waved my right to appeal. The appeal paperwork contradicted itself. (Page 1: You must do X or we will reject your appeal. Page 2: You must not do X or we will reject your appeal). I had to send a passport photo less than 30 days old of myself in, but photos taken with electronic cameras are not allowed.

In the end, I sent a letter. The city of San Francisco is not obligated to inform me of a successful appeal, so either I beat the ticket, or some day (maybe years from now) they will issue a warrant for my arrest.

This isn't even guilty until proven innocent. 100% of the evidence presented against me proved my innocence, and I will be in legal limbo forever.

[edit: In a special kafka-esque twist, the only reason I was able to fill out the paperwork successfully is because the telephone operator at the SF courthouse took pity on me. There is a number to call for clarification, but no one picks up that phone. So, your best bet is to get your legal advice from the operator.]

2
OliverJones 1 day ago 8 replies      
The real WTF here? Municipal executives who sign contracts with distant third party tech companies containing revenue quotas for those companies.

Perverse incentives! the original purpose of laws against driving too fast or jumping red lights is promoting public safety. When the municipality has an obligation to issue a certain number of violations, the original purpose is subverted. Now, of course another public policy purpose of these laws is to raise revenue.

When the revenue is made possible by a tech company, the municipality probably has a contractual obligation undermining its public safety mission.

Municipal officials, if they were willing, could raise revenue by asking the people to pay more taxes, even excise taxes on vehicles. But there's no incentive for municipal executives to be honest any more: for over a generation the US citizenry has been trained to vote against anyone who asks for more taxes.

So dinging violators of regulations is an easier way for towns to get money. Create regulations that turn ordinary people in to "bad" people, then grab some of their money to make them "good" again. What a system!

Hacker News friends, let's remember that we are, or easily could be, the creators of those distant third party tech companies whose contracts perpetuate the perverse incentives.

3
newscracker 1 day ago 3 replies      
I very much enjoyed this article. The larger takeaways for me are that most citizens (or people) don't know the law, don't know the basis of law, and don't know the foundations of creating and defining law. Yet we're forced into submitting ourselves to what someone else wrote with deficiencies or moderately malicious intent where fundamental rights and freedoms granted in the constitution are violated.

Governments the world over are becoming bigger and more powerful, while common people are subjugated and controlled through diktats. I don't know what's the best way to improve the situation (other than some activists and campaigners doing the work for the society), but a somewhat in-depth course in law seems like a fundamental requirement for everyone.

4
beardog 1 day ago 4 replies      

 When I tried to recover my doubled appeal bond, I was told that the clerk was not authorized to give me my money. ..... Still nothing has happened now several months later.
This is the problem with challenging really anything not of much financial consequence in court. Lots of red tape and expenses, even if you are in the right.

5
shakna 1 day ago 2 replies      
> So, you signed an affidavit under the pains and penalties of perjury alleging probable cause to believe that Adam MacLeod committed a violation of traffic laws without any evidence that was so?

> Without hesitating he answered, Yes.

Damn! That is something I'd expect a certain amount of squirming before answering. It is not something that you want to do. Even if you know you have to.

6
nfriedly 1 day ago 5 replies      
> The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. - Abraham Lincoln

While I can't say that I'm a fan of traffic cams, and I do appreciate that the author was vindicated in this circumstance, I like the idea of laws that are enforced for every single violation. Traffic law, and indeed most of our laws, seem to be enforced so inconsistently as to be laughable.

I'm sure there are instances where, financially speaking, you're better off to break the law and then just pay the fines if you get caught. Similar to when corporations break a law for years and eventually pay a fine that's less than the profit they made from breaking the law.

I think if the enforcement were more consistent, we'd end up with much better laws in the long run.

7
tehwalrus 1 day ago 4 replies      
In the UK I believe the first letter goes to the "keeper" of the vehicle, called a NIP (notice of intended prosecution). The keeper of the vehicle is required by law to fill in the NIP (under pain of perjury) and return it telling the police who was driving. The police will then criminally prosecute the person on the form.

I never got a speeding ticket, but I looked this up here: http://www.nopenaltypoints.co.uk/dispute-speed-ticket-you-we...

It may well be wrong, but it sounds like what I'd expect in the UK.

8
czep 1 day ago 11 replies      
I was with the author until reading this unfortunate quote:

> Traffic camera laws are popular in part because they appeal to a law-and-order impulse. If we are going to stop those nefarious evildoers who jeopardize the health of the republic by sliding through yellow lights when no one else is around and driving through empty streets at thirty miles per hour in twenty-five zones, then we need a way around such pesky impediments as a lack of eyewitnesses.

This is an unfair rhetorical attack that trivializes the motivations for necessary enforcement of traffic laws. Whether or not you are a fan of traffic cameras, traffic violations are in fact serious and should not be brushed off. The problem is, one day you make it easy for people to think it's ok to do 30 in a 25, then the next day they're doing 35, then 45 the next.

I honestly do think people should be ticketed for 30 in a 25. It's not a trivial laughing matter. It always dismays me to see people downplaying speeding. 30 vs 25 will increase your stopping distance more than enough to kill a child. Yet, we nonchalantly think it's cool as a society to blow through red lights and everyone speeds. The author clearly separates "the slightly more respectable offense of owning a speeding vehicle" from "armed robbery, drug dealing, and other misdeeds". Would the author feel that speeding is any more respectable than armed robbery if a speeding driver killed their kids?

I agree that traffic cameras are a poor way to enforce these laws, but I want to point out that they really do need enforcing and shouldn't be trivialized.

9
insomniacity 1 day ago 4 replies      
> I then asked the question one is taught never to ask on crossthe last one. So, you signed an affidavit under the pains and penalties of perjury alleging probable cause to believe that Adam MacLeod committed a violation of traffic laws without any evidence that was so?

As a layman, can anyone explain why they are taught not to ask this?

10
rsp1984 1 day ago 0 replies      
Call me extreme but I find the whole idea that a government can do what it wants with collected fine money extremely disturbing. Unfortunately not many people question it these days but I think a lot more should.

The first problem with "free" fine money is that is makes the enforcement of some laws more important to the government than the enforcement of others.

The second problem is that it allows the government to protect such collection from much of the scrutiny and transparency requirements that e.g. taxes have to go through. For tax policy there are political parties and candidates to choose from and you can exercise your power as a voter. However I've not ever seen fine policy or rates being part of a political program. It's close to impossible as a citizen to have any influence on that.

The solution to this problem would be to establish a law under which a government must give all fine money straight to charitable causes (the composition of which citizens can democratically vote on).

11
inetsee 1 day ago 2 replies      
I confess: I got a red light ticket. I did in fact run a red light; I was late for a lunch date. In my defense, I wasn't speeding, and I crossed the limit line a fraction of a second after the light had changed to red (and before the light for crossing traffic had changed to green).

The citation I got included photos from the traffic camera, before and after the light changed, clearly showing my vehicle and its license plate. The photographs had been viewed by a sworn employee of the police department, who signed off on the citation. I paid the ticket.

The only criticism I have of the procedures used by the police department where I lived was that there was no photograph showing that I was the one driving the vehicle.

From the article it sounds as if the municipality doesn't care about the law. It sounds as if the photographs from the traffic camera are being reviewed by an employee of a private company; the photographs are not being provided to the driver (and may not even be provided to the police), there are no photographs showing the driver of the vehicle, and the police and court are ignoring any exculpatory evidence, and there is no procedure to refund the appeal bond!

This city (and many more) are relying on the difficulty of fighting these kinds of citations to gain unjustified revenue by ignoring peoples rights.

12
Natsu 1 day ago 0 replies      
13
0x445442 1 day ago 1 reply      
Our family has receive four of these tickets in the eight years we've been at our current residence. Fortunately, where we live you must be physically served for the ticket to be binding in anyway. So we just throw them in the trash and don't answer the door without seeing who it is.

At a prior residence in a different state I actually fought a red light ticket in court. I was able to prolong the actual hearing for six months using the government's own continuance rules. When the hearing finally arrived no law enforcement official showed up so the ticket was dismissed.

Let's face reality here. These things are just an unconstitutional tax, no more and no less.

14
gravypod 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems like the author has a lot of time on his hand and is actually putting it to something that is good for the people.

Granted this was probably just him getting mad and wanting to throw his weight around but it ends up being something that improves the quality of life for anyone who deals with these unjust systems. I wish more law-academics, or academics in general, pushed these types of reforms in their field. I wish physisists and chemists could aid the community and that lawyers who actually care can improve the legal system for everyone (remove red tape and blatantly unconstitutional lawthat no one normal can fight).

15
new299 1 day ago 3 replies      
I love this. I love it partly because I could never imagine this happening in the UK. The UK doesn't have a constitution. And I could imagine this getting shut down pretty quickly.

I hope this kind of attitude persists in the US. It's one of the things that continues to give me hope for western style democracy.

16
makeramen 1 day ago 1 reply      
Excuse my ignorance here, but is this something that can become a class action against the city then? Why not find all the people given traffic tickets without due process and probable cause? That would actually get some attention no?
17
njharman 1 day ago 0 replies      
The contortions Montgomery County have gone through and way they implemented it is poor. In other Jurisdictions, CA for instance, they've passed new law/ruling that running red lights is same level of misdemeanor as parking tickets. They take photo of driver and if driver is not you, you are free to prove that in court. [this is 10+year old info so may have changed]. But, from OA, the absurdity in Montgomery Co, is all around how they don't identify the driver (with photo), yet the violation is against the driver.

Source: I use to work in this industry, even participated on the Montgomery County Red Light Camera Pilot.

18
dnautics 1 day ago 1 reply      
> "several states have created an entirely novel phylum of law: the civil violation of a criminal prohibition."

I've always wondered. If these things are civil trials isn't it unconstitutional for the traffic court to have a sign saying "you don't have a right to a jury" (as it does in SF)? The constitution guarantees a right to a jury trial in all civil cases with a penalty greater than $20.

19
baloneyman 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the most interesting concept here is that a future with driverless cars is a future with almost no way to incriminate an American. Cars are the main way the government gets in your business. I live in a big enough city that I don't have to drive and the move has removed so much of the day-to-day anxiety of life that I was astounded

What will they do when they can no longer control us via "you could be drunk" or "you're driving the wrong way"?

20
laurex 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently went to court for a red-light ticket, which I received when I went through an intersection where the red light was blocked by a vehicle in another lane (this is clear from the video and photographs taken by the red-light camera). At my hearing, the judge acknowledged that I was driving slowly and that there was no way I could have seen the red light, but that he was obliged to find all red-light camera cases guilty.

In general, I think we'll see that technology aids the state in "letter of the law" situations, and as the state gets more access to information about us (including the possibility of our thoughts), the ways to punish in biased or primarily revenue-generating ways will only increase.

21
mherdeg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ha ha:

"" I asked whether she intended to proceed under criminal procedural rules or in civil procedure. We would proceed under the rules of criminal procedure, she answered because this is a criminal case. I asked when I could expect to be charged, indicted, or have a probable cause determination. She replied that none of those events would occur because this is a civil action. So I could expect to be served with a complaint? No, no. As she had already explained, we would proceed under the criminal rules.""

I was hoping this to somehow turn into an admiralty court discussion.

22
debarshri 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is true that many traffic cameras, depending upon the vendor, technology the camera uses and supporting infrastructure, may or may not produce the actual cause of violation. This is the reason why many cities have multiple level of validation from authorized officiers.
23
benburleson 1 day ago 2 replies      
This story makes me wish I had studied law.
24
stevemk14ebr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Actually really interesting. It speaks of how people interpret the law to make it do what they want, and eventually precedent gets set and that made-up law becomes true.
25
jrs235 1 day ago 0 replies      
Things are getting so dystopian. Your property is yours and you are responsible for it when the police want someone to pay a ticket for an offense in which your property was used without your consent or knowledge yet when the police want to take your property without evidence of wrong doing they sue your property, not you, so they can confiscate it and you can't defend yourself and your property without permission from the court/judge.
26
sytelus 1 day ago 1 reply      
So wait a minute... as per these arguments, all laws for speeding are null and void because government can't prosecute you unless some citizen brings complaint with allegations of personal injury. Is that correct?
27
newscracker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I missed mentioning this in an earlier comment of mine. This, and probably more of such, should be made into TV shows and movies. That'd get a wider reach and help inform more people.
28
pdx6 1 day ago 0 replies      
SF is working on installing speed cams, but it has to pass Sacto first. I spoke to the staff at the SFMTA and they are working with the ACLU and EFF, among other rights advocacy groups, to establish a fair traffic cam law for SF.
29
praptak 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it actually possible to have a constitution-compliant automatic system for registering traffic violations in US?
30
elastic_church 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm still reading, what state is this? Montgomery City is ambiguous and it doesn't give context near the beginning. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be clever long-form of story telling where details are sprinkled letting you infer as some form of entertainment, or if this is just missing pertinent details.
31
omegaworks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good on the author. We need people with the time and money to fight bad precedent to do so. The people who designed the red light camera system in Chicago understand this and pushed the camera install sites to poorer neighborhoods with higher concentrations of people of color.

http://uchicagogate.com/2015/09/24/under-the-guise-of-safety...

32
sjy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Although McLeod is a law professor, some of his legal claims have already been disputed by Orin Kerr on the Volokh Conspiracy.[1] He has published constitutional law nonsense before, and once accused a federal judge of 'tyranny' for upholding the Fourteenth Amendment argument that succeeded in Obergefell v. Hodges.[2] It is surprising to see so many commenters uncritically endorsing his conclusions. His main complaint seems to be:

> [S]everal states have created an entirely novel phylum of law: the civil violation of a criminal prohibition. Using this nifty device, a city can charge you of a crime without any witnesses, without any probable cause determination, and without any civil due process.

But McLeod never explains what this actually means, and goes on to describe an ordinary criminal trial where he was acquitted after the prosecution failed to prove its case to the required standard. While the focus on the trial suggests that he is complaining about criminal procedure, the real purpose of the article seems to be to deny the legitimacy of traffic cameras as a law enforcement mechanism. The vaguely-described contractual arrangements sound concerning, but he doesn't give any supporting evidence and those contracts weren't the subject of his case.

Traffic cameras are common in the rest of the developed world and can be used consistently with the rule of law. This may involve the legislature infringing the rights of accused people by shifting the burden, or reducing the standard, of proof. That's something we should be careful about doing, but when the maximum penalty is a modest fine, sometimes it makes sense to qualify the accused's rights in order to save money on wasteful inquiries into trivial misdemeanours. This kind of balancing of rights and interests is routine in constitutional law. The Due Process Clause does prevent U.S. state governments from reversing the burden of proof in some criminal cases[3] but this is not axiomatic, and McLeod didn't even show that the issue arose in his case.

[1] 'Law professor gets a traffic-camera ticket. Hilarity ensues.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/201...

[2] 'Yes, Tyranny is a Fitting Word' http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/03/14709/

[3] 'Wrong on Red: The Constitutional Case Against Red-Light Cameras' http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article...

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SolarNet 1 day ago 0 replies      
Municipal and County Attorneys are really really scummy. It's basically just a job to be corrupt in. They have long forgotten their constitutional duty. The lawyers who remember that are either busy earning a lot of money the hard way (being corrupt is the easy way) or protecting those who need it. Taking money from traffic cams is just another way this is expressed.

Local elections matter people.

(I have family members who are attorneys and public officials in small towns, I speak about this from experience listening to them rant).

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dredmorbius 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This account may be true. But the source has an exceptional interest in promoting a specific point of view coming from extreme political conservativism which should be considered.

The Witherspoon Institute is a conservative think tank in Princeton, New Jersey.[1][2][3]

...

The Witherspoon Institute opposes abortion and same-sex marriage[7] and deals with embryonic stem cell research, constitutional law, and globalization.[2] In 2003, it organized a conference on religion in modern societies.[8] In 2006, Republican Senator Sam Brownback cited a Witherspoon document called Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles in a debate over a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage.[2] It held a conference about pornography named The Social Costs of Pornography[9] at Princeton University in December 2008.[10]

Financially independent from Princeton University, its donors have included the Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation.[2]

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witherspoon_Institute

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tptacek 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this misses the forest for the trees.

McLeod identifies several very real problems with traffic ticket enforcement in Montgomery. The red light cameras are operated by a third party company on a secret contract. A police officer casually perjures themselves at the hearing. The court's processes are onerous and unfair. These problems should all be fixed.

But the author wants to make the case that traffic camera tickets are unconstitutional, and fails.

By his own admission, there's an established constitutional framework for issuing citations against vehicles and not people (in rem jurisdiction). So, yes, the existing statutes for enforcement of traffic fines are incompatible with cameras. But it seems clearly possible to write statutes that are compatible: nothing about in rem says you it doesn't apply to a moving vehicle.

Cities and states can move to a system where camera tickets are like very expensive parking tickets. That satisfies the superficial objective of cities (revenue generation) --- probably more cheaply than the current system. Meanwhile: they can collect data on drivers and run actual investigations on repeat offenders, taking them to court directly and based on evidence if the camera system produces indications that they're abusive drivers.

Traffic enforcement agents can simply ask you whether you were driving your car at the time of the ticket. Most drivers will simply confirm. Some would obviously deny driving the car, or refuse to answer at all. But the car has to be insured, and insurance contracts are opinionated about who drives cars. There's recourse there as well.

(It's worth noting that McLeod presumably does know who was driving his car, and presumably could have been compelled to testify as a witness in an actual criminal case --- what made his experience with Montgomery's traffic court so terrible was clownshoes procedural ineptness, not some fundamental problem with cameras).

It goes without saying that cameras themselves will also improve. Does anyone believe that 20 years from now it will be all that difficult to automatically attribute a driver to a car tagged for a moving violation?

If it sounds like I'm pro-traffic-camera here, it's because in some sense I am. I agree that the systems we have today are abusive and should be shut down. But the overall concept is a very good one. Armed police officers should not be the first line of traffic compliance enforcement. For "routine" violations, of the sort where a traffic officer would simply pull you over, write a ticket, and let you go, there's no reason to stop cars at all. Dozens of people are killed every year in violent confrontations with the police that begin solely because of some stupid traffic infraction.

I think cameras (and sensors in general) are the future of traffic enforcement and that that's a positive thing.

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iamjdg 1 day ago 3 replies      
While he is a legal expert and I am not, I think he is missing the point. If everyone ran red lights there would be chaos and public safety would be at risk. Traffic cameras are a deterrent that save municipalities lots of money not having to employ officers to act as deterrents. But a deterrent has to have a real consequence (people pay fines and other people hear about this) to work. He is using a small technicality to make a point about a huge issue of liberty which wastes tax payer money and will put the public at greater risk, cannot he do this through another means?
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kapauldo 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guy should his talents to help stop cops from shoopting black people instead of helping feed his own ego. He's intellectually correct but what a waste of resources.
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justinator 1 day ago 1 reply      
As noted on metafilter

http://www.metafilter.com/164565/Law-Professor-Challenges-Tr...

FYI, the author is a morally repugnant conservative. He believes that a lesbian couple should not both be legally recognized as the parents of a child;[0] that Texas courts should defy the Supreme Court and further restrict access to women's healthcare;[1] and that colleges should be free to discriminate against LGBT students and employees; [2] among many other positions.

He signed a statement calling on the local, state, and federal government to refuse to follow Obergefell [3] (the case legalizing same sex marriage nationally).

The website this was published on is an outlet of the Witherspoon Institute.[4]

The author is fanatically opposed to what he calls 'the regulatory state'. He is a far-right extremist and religious fundamentalist.

[0] http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/10/18106/

[1] http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/07/17328/

[2] http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/05/16907/

[3] https://americanprinciplesproject.org/founding-principles/st...

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witherspoon_Institute

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jakobegger 1 day ago 4 replies      
Reading something like this makes me sad.

We have a teacher at a law school that wastes everyones time by appealing a traffic ticket because the legal basis isn't sound enough.

Did the city issue a ticket to someone whose car was parked at the time? That would be something you should appeal!

Did the city issue a ticket to the owner of a vehicle instead of the driver, because they have no way to identify the driver? It sounds like this was the case. In that case, the proper thing to do is to inform the city of the identity of the actual driver.

But to launch an appeal because you don't want to pay your partner's or your kid's speeding ticket... that doesn't sound fair.

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developer2 1 day ago 10 replies      
You know what, I am going to go against the grain of supposedly intelligent people on HN. Your personal vehicle committed a traffic violation. Your license plate was captured. The vehicle is registered in your name, and thus you are liable. Unless you have reported the vehicle stolen, you are responsible for the vehicle.

This kind of shit is a waste of taxpayer money. I don't agree with automated ticketing. However, if it is clear that the vehicle was speeding, and it is clear that it is your vehicle, and there is no stolen vehicle reported... give me a fucking break.

Maybe it wasn't actually you. But you know who you gave your car to that day. You know who was speeding in your car. Either get them to cough up the cash to you, or deal with the fucking fact that you trusted someone else with your car - clearly, someone who doesn't deserve to be trusted.

I hate cops. I hate stupid laws. But more than that, I hate people who look for loopholes to absolve themselves of personal responsibility. Don't fucking loan out your car if you're this type of asshole.

4
VR ycombinator.com
982 points by craigcannon  2 days ago   540 comments top 91
1
evo_9 2 days ago 20 replies      
I bought a Vive the week of Thanksgiving and have been using it roughly 2 hours a day. Every other day is my workout day most of the week (unless I'm playing hockey that day/night) and the VIVE has become part of my workout now too. After I complete my normal workout - a mixture of hockey specific training, free weights, aerobic and of course tons of pull-ups - I now spend an additional hour+ in VR.

I typically play Space Pirate Trainer first; once I get around level 15-20 things are so hectic I'm moving a ton and often going to one, or both knees. My abs and back can feel it big-time. I start with this game because it's not quite so intense at the start and is a good VR warmup.

More impressive is Holopoint - a bow and arrow game. That is easily the most physically demanding VR activity that I've found so far. I'm usually sweeting pretty solidly when I complete 8-10 games of Holopoint. I'm also noticeably fatigued in my arms, back, legs, hips, all over. And just to be clear most would classify me as extremely fit (regularly skate with/against NHL bound Junior players, the minimum pull-ups I do in my workout are 30 consecutive, body fat <10% etc).

Lastly I find I am no longer interested in 'regular games'... such as Madden, NHL 16, Gran Turismo, etc (on PS4), or even my all time favorite Dark Souls (series). I simply can't go back to not being physically engaged the way VR games are.

VR is going to be absolutely huge in the health/fitness space.

2
aphextron 2 days ago 9 replies      
As someone who owns both headsets from day one and has been developing software for Vive, I'd honestly say the current generation of tech just isn't worth it for most people. In five years when we have wireless headsets with eye tracking and full FOV displays with no discernible pixelation and the library of games are finally here it will be worth it. As it is most people would probably be let down after the initial wow factor wears off.

I think VR is at the point smartphones were from 2000-2007 until the iPhone showed up. It's going to take another generation of devices that incorporate all of those features in a really well designed package before it goes mainstream.

3
amitt 2 days ago 4 replies      
I run a VR-focused VC firm (Presence Capital). We've done 25+ investments in this space, so you can say that we believe in the long-term potential of VR. Even given that, we're bearish on how quickly there will be a profitable/sustainable VR consumer business and have advised most of our portfolio companies targeting consumers to keep burn low.

That being said, almost all of the comments here are taking a singular worldview: consumer-focused VR for a western market.

VR for B2B or enterprises can make money today and doesn't require mass-consumer adoption. If you make someone 10x more effective at their job (tools for sales people: OssoVR) or onboard employees faster (training: STRIVR), you can overcome the cost and rough edges on the hardware.

In China, VR-arcades are going to be how most consumers first experience high-end PC VR. Culturally, people there are already used to going to internet cafe's to use computers by the hour and seek out 3rd spaces. VR-by-the-hour rooms fit this mold. Additionally, the short length of most VR experiences makes it easy to have a 15-20 minute session and not be disappointed by the lack of content. More info on this here: https://medium.com/@amitt/vr-will-be-huge-in-china-41de0c758...

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iplaw 2 days ago 20 replies      
Blown away? Hyperbole of the century. At CES this year, I tried all the VR/AR tech I could get my hands on. Microsoft HoloLens, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony VR, Galaxy Gear, and everything in between.

I wasn't expecting much and yet I was still underwhelmed. There is zero immersion, primarily due to the poor resolution, the screen door effect, and the crippled field of view. It felt like watching a scene through a pair of binoculars, but that's not a fair comparison either, as physical binoculars are more immersive than any of these devices.

I feel like I the only one that feels such disappointment!

5
erikbye 2 days ago 6 replies      
Selling my Vive tomorrow, before it's too late (unsellable due to something better on the market). < 50 hours use over several months. The visual quality is awful, not just resolution, but the lenses are terrible as well. Glare, very blurry except for a narrow center, the rings of the fresnel lenses are very noticeable. The glare is unbearable in any games with a lot of contrast, like space sims, that retro arcade hall game was terrible in this aspect, too, whatever it was called.

I'm not going back to try VR till the resolution is something like 8k per eye and the optical quality is far better. FOV needs to be much wider, HMD lighter and more comfortable, and of course wireless (I know you can get this now).

I have a dedicated home theater and room scale still does not work, because you will never have enough physical space in a regular home, and have to teleport around in games anyway.

The only games that really work are seated cockpit games. Racing, space sim, flight sim, etc.

Nausea was not an issue for me. Nor the "anti-social" issue, I've never been a party gamer, I like to play games alone, in a dark room with headphones on, sat at my desk staring at a monitor, or alone on the couch with a gamepad in my home theater enjoying surround sound and a 106" screen.

All made-for-VR games I've tried so far have been mediocre and more like small demos than full games. Best experiences were games not made for VR but with added VR support: Assetto Corsa and iRacing. Probably the only two games worth having VR at all for, but personally I'll wait for 6th gen or whatever will be good enough for me.

The games I like the best works better without VR. Sim racing games could be one exception, but are, for the moment, better with a triple monitor setup. Games like Pillars of Eternity have no need for VR, IMO.

Certainly VR has potential, I just think the HMDs we have now feel old and dated already. It's 2016 (when released) and it's heavy and wired, basically ski goggles with crappy monitors and crappy lenses hugging my face.

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mtw 2 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only one who's more excited by mixed reality such as Hololens?

I can't imagine VR being as omnipresent in our daily lives in its current state. Oculus or Vive implies you are shutting yourself from the outside world. You cannot interact. You cannot go out, talk with others etc. It's easy however to imaging how Hololens can enhance existing reality and how anyone (even my grandmother) could use it for their daily lives.

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sixQuarks 2 days ago 5 replies      
I can't believe some people are saying VR is a fad, that it's not going to work, etc, etc. Are you kidding me?

The only real question is how long it's going to take before it's fully integrated into our daily lives, there is absolutely no doubt this will happen (unless we somehow go backwards technologically, due to world war or some other unforeseen event).

It may not happen for another 10-15 years, but it WILL happen.

The term "virtual reality" is actually selling the technology short. Virtual reality does not merely replicate reality, it allows you to defy the laws of physics and expand into new dimensions and "realities". Replicating "reality" is only a small part of what it's capable of.

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fossuser 2 days ago 4 replies      
Having both an Oculus Rift (pre-touch controls) and a Vive to play around with I have a couple thoughts on this.

The first impression/experience is powerful and most people are impressed by it. The Rift prior to touch controls was unusable in comparison to the room scale, touch control Vive (to the point that I sold it). Maybe it's better now with the new touch controls, but I think they still lack room scale and the ability to walk around is a big deal. The Vive headset also fully blocks external light which is nicer (but these are relatively minor things that can be fixed).

VR in its current early adopter state is a lonely experience - more so than playing a one player game on the couch, you're completely isolated. While this makes for strong immersion - I think it increases the barrier to entry for most people. I suspect FB is right about the importance of social interaction getting people to actually use VR for longer than just showing it off to people.

I suspect finding the "Doom for VR" - the application that really takes advantage of the medium hasn't happened yet, maybe when it does it'll be obvious in hindsight. As for the comparisons to AR - I think Michael Abrash's points still stand: http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/why-you-wont-see-hard-...

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carlosdp 2 days ago 2 replies      
VR advancements to look out for in 2017:

- Eye tracking (it already works perfectly, I've tried it myself at SIGGRAPH), this will enable a few cool things:

 - Foveated Rendering - rendering only what is in the fovea view at high quality and using a lower quality method for the periphery. Reduces rendering requirement by ~75%, enabling either higher-end graphics on the desktop, or the ability to move many desktop-bound VR applications to mobile. - Eye-assisted interactivity - SMI had a demo at SIGGRAPH where they demonstrated using where your eyes were looking to increase precision of interactions with controllers in VR (for example, grabbing very small objects in VR accurately).
- Inside-Out Tracking - using computer vision to provide 6DoF tracking for headsets without the need for external trackers. Will allow mobile headsets to have positional tracking (which is SO VERY important for VR) and will allow desktop headsets to have lower setup complexity (less important). - note: Microsoft will likely dominate this by my guess, seeing as probably the strongest part of the Hololens is it's excellent tracking.

- Wireless adapters for existing headsets - these made a big splash at CES and apparently work pretty well. Making the existing experience un-tethered will definitely help room-scale experiences.

- Self-Contained headsets - this is vital to mass-adoption of VR imo. I think we'll see some of these this year, though probably not from HTC/Oculus yet.

AR, while definitely more the "consumer" product in the long run, is still far off as the display tech just isn't there yet. But the above advancements in VR pave a way for AR in the future, until there is no longer a distinction between them device-wise, but it rather becomes a slider of "how much reality do you want to replace?".

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sigi45 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really think VR will take off but not yet. I was waiting for new games and new hardware for a year now but i think there is just a little bit of time needed.

I'm very enthuastic but not enought to pay 1k for it. Every game i saw in some video felt to 'simple'. More like funny small games but nothing which would make me using it for long enough.

but still i can already see useful usecases: When you buy a kitchen for example but the needed software needs to be build and that takes time and money. Something like this needs just time and enough 'normal' developer and manager have to be motivated.

Every peace of money already made with vr and which will be made in the next two years is probably opportunistic money.

I'm looking forward to better hardware (4k! lightweight, enough smartphones for google dream) and more software (architecture, kitchen, bath, ikea, website support for simple plug and play, concert videos, museum and history tours, games, games games :)

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thenomad 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice to see some other people pointing out the positive effects here.

As a (room-scale only) VR developer, I've been writing about the upsides of VR and VR gaming for some time - example, http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/05/three-un... . There's a lot of skepticism around this area, particularly the claim that games will actually make people fitter - but you only have to play a few rounds of Holopoint or Space Pirate Simulator to realise it's also true.

(As a side note, I'm increasingly dividing VR into "pseudo-VR" (anything where you can't walk around) and "real VR" (room-scale experiences: the Vive, in short, and some Oculus Touch setups). Harsh, possibly, but it really does feel like a different medium once you can get up and interact with your hands.

To my mind, the only interesting VR experiences are those which engage the whole body. That's something I've been trying very hard to do with Left-Hand Path (http://store.steampowered.com/app/488760) the VR game I developed - at various points, you have to crouch, dodge, crawl, duck, and draw magical symbols in a variety of ways.

I'm doing that because quite apart from the health benefits, engaging my players in actual movement creates a whole new level of immersion. Proprioception is a thing - the sense of the body's place and movement in space.

Getting tired and even "gassed" also helps immersion. I've been playing the VR boxing sim Thrill Of The Fight recently, and it's remarkable how well it simulates real-life sparring in some ways - including getting gassed, and having to spend a while just keeping your guard up whilst you recover the ability to breathe without wheezing. That's an element of immersion I'm never going to get from a PC game.

I play a lot of Dark Souls, but the phrase "in-game stamina management" means something completely different when it's your stamina you're managing.

12
sarreph 2 days ago 5 replies      
I feel like a lot of the comments here blasting the technology are related to its ability to output at the hi-fidelity we are now used to on the web / mobile 3D experiences.

This level of immersiveness/naturalness/fidelity will obviously come in due course.

Michael Siebel is here talking about the opportunity (obviously) which is IMMENSE.

This is basically the iPhone/App-Store bandwagon all over again. If you can jump on it, do so.

13
legohead 2 days ago 8 replies      
It's not going to take off until someone solves the movement issue. The only games VR is currently suitable for are if you are stationary somehow -- pilot, tank gunner, etc. Which limits it pretty severely.

Something like the Ghostbusters Experience[1] is what people want in their own homes.

Also, maybe it's because I've been gaming my whole life, but the resolution in VR is still not good enough to "blow" me away, like I keep reading about. How people are so amazed at current gen VR confuses me.

[1] https://ghostbusters.madametussauds.com/

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minimaxir 2 days ago 2 replies      
> I think we are no more than two years away from an explosion of new consumer startups

I remember reading similar sentiment two years ago, back when the Oculus started getting massive attention after their successful Kickstarter.

There are counter arguments to the rise of VR. As mentioned, price and hardware are too high for casual use, but that will be fixed in time.

What can't easily be fixed is that fact that it is not conveient. VR tethers you one spot, and using VR in public looks ridiculous/antisocial to outside observers. In contrast, an AR approach can avoids both issues by embedding an immersive context with subtlety. (in theory anyways; Google Glass looked ridiculous too.)

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sp332 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just going to plug one of my favorite blogs here: http://elevr.com/ They're experimenting with basic VR interaction design. How do you represent things in VR, how do you communicate with other people in the room when you're wearing a headset, how does physical context change your experience. Fascinating, basic stuff we're going to have to figure out before we can build meaningful experiences in VR. http://elevr.com/would-you-like-to-see-an-invisible-sculptur...
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SeaDude 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Hm. Market potential is limited to upper-middle class (those having large work autonomy) or about 15% of the US population. Which may be plenty for your outlook, i'm no expert.

But I am a normal dude. And there is no way the remaining 85% of the population can check out of their real-world duties of getting kids ready for school, cooking, working, watching tv, etc to check-in to VR. No way.

VR's downfall IS its immersiveness. It's a serial activity that cannot be run in parallel with other life activities. With a phone, I can be texting, surfing ect and when my kid comes over, I can put the phone down and answer a question or continue cooking or whatever. VR-not so much. I'd have to first HEAR my kid come up to me, then unstrap the headset, put down my handset(s), etc...

If VR has large uptake as a technology, our interpersonal world, our family and social structures are fucked. Feels like the final checkmate in human history. Think I'll dig my heels in a bit and let you run over the cliff with that one.

17
gavanwoolery 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am both a huge proponent and skeptic of VR. I am no veteran but to my credit I was dabbling with VR many years before Oculus ran its Kickstarter.

I am skeptical in the short term because the hardware is still struggling to keep up with the demands (at a reasonable price point). Maintaining 90-120 FPS with any sort of detail is much more difficult than 30 FPS.

I am a proponent in the long term because there is definitely some sort of value. The feeling of "presence" just can't be matched by anything else (short of directly manipulating our sensory input).

I think people are still struggling to figure out where exactly the value is now though. In the long term I can see it being a huge social tool (to the point where people might regularly meet their significant other in a virtual environment, if the rendering is accurate enough). There is also likely benefit in creative tools (I have found modeling in VR to be much easier and more natural).

Interestingly, from the people I have shown VR to, it is the less technical people (non-programmers, etc) that walk away with their minds blown. Perhaps we are still not marketing VR strongly enough, because most people I know still have not tried a real device.

IMO VR will be different from mobile though. The evolution of apps for phones was explosive, but we are trying to game evolution by throwing huge amounts of funding at VR, perhaps prematurely. This is not to say any advancements at this point aren't worth the time, I am just not so sure there will be a large payoff in the short term. (And of course, this is just my opinion, feel free to disagree).

18
RichardHeart 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think VR is garbage. You take what would be a decent visual experience, and stretch it across your field of vision until it's nice and pixelated. Then you cut that crap resolution in half, by giving each eye its own individual feed.

Now that you've got the resolution lowered by 10 fold or so, you can induce sickness with lag, head tracking inaccuracy, poorly executed strobing to reduce blur.

Now that you're sickly enjoying the screendoored world, your can enjoy the face sweat, and not being able to find your beverage in the real world.

I can live with everything but the screen door.

19
hubalew 2 days ago 2 replies      
Kind of odd that it takes yc this long to understand such a world changing technology. And their point is that other vcs are even more pessimistic and unexcited about technology.

It really shows you how absolutely myopic and limited the current startup ecosystem is. Many thousands of people could tell VR was real this time back when Oculus did a Kickstarter. But vcs take +n years? Shows how much room for improvement there is, I suppose.

20
phn 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think that AR (think magic leap) is going to be much bigger, at least in the short term.

VR is like the desktop. It will have its uses, sure, but you'll be tied to your desk/room. Gaming will probably still be the most popular VR application.

Your AR glasses will be your smartphone, on you the entire time, and you won't even need to reach for your pocket.

21
enraged_camel 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe it's just me but I'm much more excited about Augmented Reality than Virtual Reality.

Recently I was looking for a new place to rent, and in every place I visited I kept trying to picture in my mind how my existing furniture would fit (and look) in the new space. It was so mentally tiring. I wish AR was advanced enough such that the rental agent would simply hire me a pair of AR glasses, I could log in to an account to load my existing furniture data, and project it into the empty rooms to rotate/rearrange/etc.

22
RangerScience 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a Vive back in August. I loved the shit out of it for months, but gradually stopped using it, although I still think it's an amazing piece of hardware and a big piece of the future.

But, when I play games, I frequently want a very relaxing activity, and the Vive doesn't do that. So, interesting.

But! As a (former?) AR professional, holy shit the non-gaming applications for AR/VR. There's overlap and synergy for applications in both mediums, and then there's the overlap on the technologies (particularly authoring tech - I'm looking at you, Unity) that go into them.

Basically, if I wanted to be a "real" AR developer when AR is ready, I'd start by becoming a real VR developer now.

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jandrese 2 days ago 0 replies      
For what it is worth, judging from CES this year the first round in the VR war was won by the Vive and GearVR. There were zero Rift demos that I could find. Of the two, the GearVR was better even though it lacked controls, the Vive hardware just just on the wrong side of crappy and the fuzzy muddy pictures I saw were a big dealbreaker, especially when compared to the GearVR.

That said, GearVR suffered from overheating the phone and crapping out.

24
seibelj 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I can't stand is the resolution, it really needs to be 2x-10x increased for me not to feel like I'm staring really closely at a screen. And when you increase the resolution by an order of magnitude, you need more processing power, which makes it harder to solve the giant problem of the size, cost, and awkwardness of the hardware. I can't wait until contact lenses are VR enabled.
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SiddarthaBuddha 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've had a Vive for a few months now and I hardly ever use it. I too was blown away at first. It really is an amazing experience when you first put it on and play a game like the The Blu but that sense of awe doesn't last long and you're left with a somewhat uncomfortable headset with less than stellar graphics and pretty boring games. These days I would much rather play a game like TitanFall 2 than any of the Vive games. Much more interesting.

Having said that, some of the non-game titles are great. Google Earth and The Body VR or whatever it's called, are fantastic learning tools.

26
Zikes 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite things to do is to pack up my PC and Vive and take it to a friend or relative to try out. A lot of people view VR as a gimmick akin to 3D movies, which fairly predictably has died out, but once they have a chance to try VR they often understand the potential.

I think VR has a real future - which certainly will depend largely on falling hardware costs and increased software funding - and while I'm sure the next consumer device version will be significantly improved and appreciably cheaper I'm glad I was able to make a small contribution to the bootstrapping efforts.

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thenomad 2 days ago 2 replies      
Seperate comment because it's a separate topic: if I was looking to make money from VR as a primary consideration (as opposed to my current cascade of story first, money second) I'd be ignoring games altogether and looking at creativity / design / conferencing apps, probably for enterprise.

VR is incredible for creation and design, and can easily be collaborative too.

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koolba 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.

Color me skeptical but they said the same thing about NES Power Pad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Pad

I think it's more likely that people will be even more zoned out as you can't even move your hand up and down in front of their faces to block their line of sight to the TV.

> If I am right, over the next five years we will see the following:

> 1. Lower price point and maybe the ability to finance the hardware (like your cell phone).

> 2. 100 million devices distributed. Without a significant number of users the best founders wont get serious about building for VR over building for web/mobile.

> 3. New frameworks. Building and iterating VR apps is going to have to get a lot easier.

> 4. Large companies solving the primary hardware problems: headset and input innovation plus distribution. I think this might be too expensive for startups to tackle.

None of these predictions involve any insight into VR. Replace the word VR in #1, #3, or #4 with any tech at any point in recent history and you can make the same statement. I also doubt #2 will happen. The smartphone revolution was a natural evolution of expanding communication devices that people already had into devices that were more useful. VR requires an entirely new set of hardware (for the display component) that isn't anywhere near as approachable as going from a flip phone to a smartphone.

> Recently Ive heard a lot of investors say There isnt a whole lot of new stuff to do in consumer. Theres already an app for that. With VR, there isnt already an app for that.

> I think we are no more than two years away from an explosion of new consumer startups and I cannot wait to start funding them at YC.

This I agree is definitely coming though I have my doubts about it being anywhere near the scale of smart phones or the push to make all things web. I also think there's going to be an even higher "dud factor" with VR startups than the already high rate for consumer focused startup. Let's see what happens!

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dougb1102 2 days ago 1 reply      
I applied to YC about 2.5 yrs ago with a VR-focused company for new construction homes software. Got rejected. Fast-forward today and I've built a successful company with it. It'll take a few yrs for VR to get mass adoption, but it shouldn't stop people from starting a B2B VR company. I've seen a lot of tech since my TRS-80 days and can tell you that this one is going to be transformative in a lot of areas.
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greenspot 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm going through this thread comment by comment and it feels like reading customer reviews on Amazon. Many comments are written like those '5-star' reviews there. It's just a vague feeling and maybe I'm wrong.

VR might be a hit but there're questions marks which got outlined by other commentators quite well.

I'm not qualified to judge if VR is going to be a hit but I realize that a lot of people seem to be committed and invested in this space (so money is involved) and we should be just wary when we see 5-star reviews.

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BigChiefSmokem 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think VR will take off unless the headsets become the size of big sunglasses, have great battery life, and someone releases a killer app. It's surprising that these headsets have been in the market so long, going on over a year now, and we have yet to see that one app that makes everyone run out and get a headset. Until all of these happen I don't expect much from the current state of the VR industry.
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moron4hire 2 days ago 2 replies      
On point #3, this is exactly why I've been building Primrose (https://www.primrosevr.com). Primrose is meant to be a framework for web developers to be able to build applications that live inside of a virtual environment. Microsoft calls this "Holographic Applications" (I don't exactly like that term, but I suppose I will get over it). The point is to divorce the need to do 3D graphics and geometry from building the application, to have those as the baseline and provide on top of that a shared set of UI metaphors. There is a really easy analogy to draw with standard, 2D GUI systems: you shouldn't have to write an HTML rendering engine before making a Web application, you shouldn't have to work in a game framework to make VR-enabled applications.

Please check out Primrose. I know it has some rough edges here and there, but I've already used it to make some interesting things (a client of mine was recently featured on Bloomberg.com for http://rex.legend3d.com). I know people are wary about "single-contributor" projects, but I've already been building Primrose for 2 years now, it's not going anywhere, and I'm open to bringing collaborators on, just nobody has really stepped up (and I've been so focused on working on VR projects for clients that I've not really had the time to proselytize).

Somebody is going to bring up A-Frame: I think A-Frame is a really nice system, I just think its design goals don't really match what I think is important. A-Frame wants to be the entity-component system for WebVR. That's great. But I don't think that meshes well with "get web developers on board". I don't want developers to have to think about what sort of motion controller component to use in their system. I actually want the system to be more restricted, less open-ended than A-Frame. Also, Primrose came out long before A-Frame, so I'm still married to Primrose for as long as I can be productive in it.

There are some limitations where I haven't quite reached my goal of making VR accessible to web developers, but that is more an issue of limited number of man-months. You can build useful applications with Primrose today. But I have a very clear goal in mind and if it's something you agree with, I would appreciate the help.

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AndrewKemendo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not really sure what this means.

YC has been investing in VR/AR companies since at least 2014/5. 3% of S16 companies were VR. It's been on their Request for startups since at least 2014[1]. Is this simply stating that they are going to be more aggressive in the space?

There are plenty of us VR/AR startups out there...

[1] https://hackernoon.com/3-of-y-combinators-summer-2016-batch-...[2]https://www.ycombinator.com/rfs/#vrar

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blazespin 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's always fun seeing people go through the various stages that I (and many many others) have gone through over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, he's missing the fact that it's exceedingly socially awkward to use these things and people in general actually don't like being removed from the world. It is mentally exhausting worrying about what's happening that you can't see. Not fun :(

You're probably saying, ahhh, that doesn't matter. It turns out, it does.

If you want to get excited about something, look at AR instead of VR.

(I have vive, dk1, dk2, and cv1. though i actually never opened my free cv1 ..)

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bluetwo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent the afternoon with friends playing on a vive in a dedicated room. It was a lot of fun, but I didn't leave the experience wanting to own my own setup.

Partly the newness of the tech is to blame, and the games were retrofits of things that existed. I think as a new generation of games come around that are conceived for the hardware it'll come around.

Let's not forget the zen-like simplicity of (Google) Cardboard VR apps. They are a lot of fun and use your phone plus a 15-20 dollar holder. I think these apps will be quicker to innovate as all of the hardware is so cheap and plentiful for developer and consumers.

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awwstn 2 days ago 2 replies      
The challenges for VR today can be summed up in a few points:

- The price point (a high-end VR experience costs around $2800 ($800 HTC Vive + a $2000 PC)

- Resolution (even the best VR is too low-res today)

- Inside-out tracking (explained below)

- Content there are great games and other immersive content today, but it's just scratching the surface

Apart from content, all of these challenges will be handily solved by Moore's Law in the next 24 months. We will have inside-out, high-end, high-resolution virtual reality that will cost a consumer less than $500-$1000 all-in.

The chicken-and-egg problem of content vs. consumer adoption is already being solved. Enough new headsets shipped last year for the market to support substantial investment in VR content over these next 24 months, and newer, better content + cheaper hardware will lead to increase in consumer adoption, which will lead to even more investment in content, and so on.

The only question then is: will everyday people want to use VR regularly? I have yet to meet someone who has spent a decent amount of time (more than a quick demo) in a high-end VR experience and still doubts this. Certain activities (gaming) will be adopted more easily, while others (watching a movie with your family) might feel a bit strange but that will feel more natural when VR and AR converge on a 5-10 year timeline.

It's exciting!

* Regarding "inside out" tracking above: Today, the most advanced consumer headset (HTC Vive) gives a glimpse of this potential with "room-scale" VR that allows a user 6 degrees of freedom meaning the ability to walk around in an environment. But, the Vive requires sensors on the walls that draw lines around a playspace this is "outside-in" tracking. Inside out tracking requires a headset that can draw a volumetric map of its environment in real-time so you could walk from room to room in VR and see walls and obstacles before you crash into them. (the closest thing we have to this today is the Microsoft Hololens) This is important because it reduces the need for a large physical space, a complex rig, a constrained environment area. It might not be necessary for mainstream adoption, but it is a challenge that needs to be faced.

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norea-armozel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure I have much to contribute to the idea of VR beyond my years of playing MUDs, MMOs, and Second Life. So I'm seeing VR from the POV of the desktop here. What I think is the key problem with VR is the problem with all kinds of technology: form factor. For years cell phones were bulky niche products that didn't have many users until the mid-90s when candy bar and clam shell form factors were good enough compared to the bag and bricks of the 80s. That's when cell phones took off. Smart phones had a similar problem that was solved with better touch screens and better storage/processor. Now, VR has always had a huge problem with the goggles and other interfaces so I think VR to be able to be attractive to people (especially developers) it has to be smaller, better resolution, and as easy as wearing sunglasses and/or winter gloves (IMO, I think a glove form factor is the bare minimum for any controller scheme or at least a good enough pair of gesture sensors that are easy to place and calibrate). Until a good enough form factor takes over there's no way VR will ever break beyond niche. It's just that 2016 made that niche bigger. So I'll be waiting out this wave of VR out until they have a form factor that's easy and cheap.
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adamzerner 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article is basically, "VR gets a vote of confidence from YC". That's good to know, but:

a) It should be pointed out that this is what the article is doing (giving a vote of confidence, not summarizing, not making any sort of thorough or novel argument).

b) I think that thorough and novel arguments are more useful. The following post comes to mind: http://www.overcomingbias.com/2016/09/write-to-say-stuff-wor....

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brilliantcode 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm going to politely disagree with this article. It's overly optimistic and draws largely from anecdotal preferences and insights.

I believe that VR will fail for the same reasons blockchain has failed to reach critical mass, there's just no overwhelming pain it solves, it's nice to have but great majority of people still do not appreciate having a bright screen inches away from your eyes and the hardware while it will certainly get better, may be addressing immersion the wrong way.

A truly game breaking VR device is one that would not require strapping screen to your face, we will see what's out there on the market but it's still very much too early to say whether it's going to have the legs it needs to reach critical mass.

I could be totally wrong and we might end up staring into empty spaces on the Skytrain with people manipulating VR objects with wild hand movements. Sort of the same shift in how smartphones have made people hunched over a small screen or talking to the air with earphones with microphones.

I believe agumented reality is a much more subtle and gradual adoption where it won't require a powerful device but with gentle gestures or possibly even reading your mind's will to issue commands without having to deal with a touch screen. The Google glass is great but I think the killer app would be something you can install on your prescription glasses that projects layered UI and makes it "smart". We would be living in a self organized surveillance state where it's no longer necessary for a government to keep track of everything but peer based apps that shames socially negative behavior and the fear of such reprisals will be at a far far higher level than we have today.

We are living in a time where every new critical mass technology (ex. facebook) are essentially "cigarettes", widely accepted and normalized but not fully understanding it's consequences.

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oblib 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've yet to put a new one on.

I tried a wireframe VR headset game back in the `90's. It was a two player game where you tried to shoot each other. My wife was the other player and had a hard time time navigating the space. I moved right next to her and she couldn't find me, but what I could not do was pull the trigger. No way. Not even in VR.

I still don't do games, and I'm not really interested in wearing one of those headsets for hours no matter how "immersive" it is.

And to be honest, I really cannot imagine that people will do that on any large scale. I'm sure they will play with them, but I'd expect them to be more of a novelty than a daily use thing.

I would liken them more to a Segway. Awesome tech, but not near as popular in use as was imagined or predicted.

Same with "3D" movies. My kids don't like them all that much, but the tech is still impressive.

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Animats 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've tried the Vibe and the Microsoft Hololens. The Vibe feels like a minor improvement over Jaron Lainer's original unit from the 1980s, which I tried back then. It's still too big and heavy. The update rate and position tracking are at last acceptable. It's going to be popular with the FPS gamer crowd, but beyond that, it doesn't seem worth the trouble.

The Hololens packs an incredible amount of hardware into a small package. That's a very good piece of mechanical and electrical engineering. While it can't really "draw dark", it does a decent job of trying, displaying against a filtered background of the real world. It's also cordless, which the VR guys really should have had by now. Its display field of view is too small; it can't maintain the illusion of markers on the world. A wider field of view and it will be useful.

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joeld42 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm making a VR game with giant mechs that has a totally unique movement mechanic. Anybody want to fund me? :P
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brycethornton 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been reading "Ready Player One" over the past few weeks and it's description of a VR-filled future is blowing my mind. It's really a great look into the possibilities for VR in the next 30 years. Highly recommended!
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mzitelli 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree that a lot of movement will happen to adapt actual apps to be explored in VR, but not just that. A lot of space will open for immersive content, one moment that you have a headset in every house. Therefore, new solutions are going to be needed both to explore and create for those devices. A good example are 360 videos editing. With that in mind I've been working on the last months on the first 360 video editor for smartphones, you can check that here http://collect.video
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hackcasual 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.

In my experience, the best VR experiences are sit down. Sony's approach fully embraces this. Room scale is great, but I've had much more enjoyable experiences with the likes of Euro Truck and Elite than Showdown.

VR demos amazingly well, you're excited to try it out and it is genuinely breath taking the first time you look around your cockpit in outer space. But the isolation and cumbersome nature of it kills everyday use.

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oDot 2 days ago 3 replies      
We've applied to YC a few months back with a real estate app based exactly on this premise. The goal was saving people's time and money in the inefficient home-search process.

Turned down, though.

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guelo 2 days ago 1 reply      
People already spend significant amounts of time on game console screens and there hasn't been an explosion of non-game apps on those.
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artur_makly 2 days ago 1 reply      
VR Porn will totally destroy all social norms and sexual IRL practices.

It's WAY too damn real, especially if you mix it with a real partner.

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elihu 2 days ago 0 replies      
It'll be interesting to see how traditionally non-3D application translate to VR. For instance, what would a VR-enabled window manager look like, or an IDE, or a command-line shell, or a graphical file manager? What's the best way to manage web browser tabs in 3D or navigate a comment thread? What about interactive, graphical programming environments like puredata?

I expect there may be some generic solutions for problems like how to display a tree or graph in an intuitive way or how to manage a bunch of 2-D workspaces. Figuring out exactly what the best way to extract that generic functionality into libraries will be interesting, and I expect if VR becomes mainstream there will be a lot of competing VR widget libraries just like there are a lot of competing 2D gui widget libraries now.

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kc10 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really want to get Oculus, but the requirement of high performance windows machine is keeping me away. I am a mac user and I don't intend to spend about $1500 for a windows machine that I would use only for VR.

I don't mind spending $1000 on an oculus which can work with a regular macbook pro.

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egfx 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity"

- I had the same thought yesterday too. I would go further and say we will see the first open world MMO to adopt true geospacial coordinates very very soon.

What do you think this will do to fitness? ;)

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ctulek 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is good to witness so much improvement in VR tech but most people focus on the eye. I think the killer step in VR and also AG will be when we can use all our fingers. Once we have that it will be a huge improvement in contrast to 2D interfaces. Haptic feedback on top of that would make the experience even better. Till that happens, VR experience is merely an eye interacting in a new world with 2 bulky pointers.

It would be great if someone develops a bracelet that can detect the electric signals going from my brain to my fingers and use it as an input to control virtual fingers.

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codingdave 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just said this a few days ago on another topic, but it bears repeating here -- people are thinking too narrowly. Replacing Input X for Input Y or Output X for Output Y are not seeing the big picture. Inputs and Outputs are now a multitude. We are entering the era of many-to-many for I/O.

The companies that succeed are not going be the software dudes who make their apps work for web, phones and VR (that will be a requirement, not a killer feature). No, the success stories will be those who build the glue to let everyone else easily make "all the things" work for all the inputs and all the outputs.

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gfodor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Trying to predict the future of VR based on tech specs is kind of silly, because I feel the determinant of the timeline of its success is dependent upon what applications are built for it. All it will take is one or two well executed applications that require VR to be used, that motivates folks sufficiently to purchase hardware (a $99 mobile VR headset being a starting price point) that will bend the curve. But, obviously its hard to predict what these are, otherwise someone would have built it already.
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746F7475 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.

What kind of VR games are you playing? I haven't seen a single physically demanding VR game (unless you count standing "physical"). Unless everyone is going to have a dedicated room for their games or we come up with some kind of rental halls there won't be any physical activity in VR games just because there is no room to move around.

Sure ducking and crawling is somewhat more physical that just sitting and playing games, but not by much.

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conorh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a casual gamer, enjoy gaming and like to buy a game and play it with my kids as a family activity. I bought an oculus rift when it came out, figuring it would be fun to try out. Everyone used it a few times and then it just sat there. Most of the enjoyment we get out of gaming is sitting around and interacting while playing, that really didn't work very well with the bulky headset on one person. I think maybe in a few years when the headsets are cheaper, smaller, and easier to manage then it will make sense, but I'm not sure that will be for a while.
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corford 2 days ago 1 reply      
Despite having two perfectly functional eyes, my brain only uses the right one due to a squint I had at birth which later improved but by then my brain had wired itself to ignore input from the left eye unless I close my right one (I get a quick shift to the left of everything in my FOV when I do this). As a result things like 3D cinema don't work for me (and I find using a telescope much easier than binoculars!).

If VR really takes off am I going to be unable to join in or will it work with one eye?

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EScott11 2 days ago 3 replies      
"3. New frameworks. Building and iterating VR apps is going to have to get a lot easier."

Hasn't Unity already cemented itself as the go-to framework for VR? Has anyone seen anything better?

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arnorhs 2 days ago 1 reply      
i feel like the physical aspect is something that's actually cumbersome in practice, you need a lot of space, and even then you need to make sure you don't gradually bump into things. It's a bit of a gimmick and I believe it will wear off. I have a hard time imagining the N-state of VR being anything else than people sitting still, or even lying down with just a remote or two in your hands where you don't even use gestures.

The N-state of every leasure activity is as low physical effort as possible.

However I'm not sure what the main activity will be on a really good VR platform. It might just be watching movies or it might be playing games. The thought of some kind of second life type of game/world is also something that feels like a cliche but is also pretty likely to happen. In which case, how do you move? how do you interact? probably voice + some sort of game controller, right?

There might be some practical applications of VR, such as surgery or whatever, but that will never be the mainstream, unless VR fails for consumers (again), and this discussion doesn't become very interesting.

Don't get me wrong, I'm actually pretty optimistic about this generation of VR. I simply don't believe in the whole premise of it becoming a physical activity.

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hota_mazi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty mundane and naive observations, which is not surprising since it looks like he tried a VR headset for the first time a month ago.
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lisper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there anywhere one can demo/rent a VR setup? I'd like to experience it before I take the plunge.
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rosalinekarr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to see the first ssh client for VR.
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ComodoHacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity.

It's a whole lot of research yet to be done in this area, VR & health (I don't mean muscles, I mean eyes, brain etc.). And VR market expansion will make this research possible.

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bojl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are we sure that VR in its current form (headset ala Oculus) is the form of VR that will become ubiquitous? I find it hard to believe that the average consumer will be interested in buying that clunky, expensive piece of hardware just for the "coolness" of it.

If VR is to become popularized i feel like it needs to be more seamlessly integrated into our daily lives.

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spullara 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't this article a couple years late considering it is YC publishing it?
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TTPrograms 2 days ago 0 replies      
>> 4. Large companies solving the primary hardware problems: headset and input innovation plus distribution. I think this might be too expensive for startups to tackle.

Translation: Because startups are for software and if your idea is hard you should probably not bother.

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nilkn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I got pretty invested in VR in 2016, and to be honest I wish I'd just waited. Here's the history of how VR went for me last year:

* Pre-ordered Vive and Rift, planning to keep whichever one arrived first.

* The Rift encountered tremendous shipping issues.

* I got the Vive pretty much on launch day, so I figured I'd cancel the Rift order.

* I was blown away by room-scale in the Vive initially, but really disappointed in the visual quality. It wasn't just the resolution or screen-door effect. I was shocked to find how small the sweet spot is and how much of the image is out of focus around the edges. I was shocked at the godrays and various other optical phenomena.

* Because the Rift was said to have a much clearer picture than the Vive, I decided not to cancel the order.

* By the time the Rift arrived (in late July I believe), I had basically stopped using the Vive because I'd run out of content and the only new content coming out was incredibly unpolished Early Access indie stuff. Some of the games people are talking about here like Space Pirate Trainer or Holopoint I grew bored of by June of 2016. They're not new.

* The Rift was immediately more comfortable, the picture looked a lot clearer despite having the same resolution, and it was a big relief not needing to worry about separate headphones anymore.

* While I enjoyed the charm of Lucky's Tale and Chronos reminded me of Dark Souls, I couldn't get into any of the other seated content, so the Rift fell into disuse rather quickly. Keep in mind that if you're into racing sims or flight sims there's already a wealth of content for you -- but I'm not into those things (and I did try them).

* I entered a limbo where I didn't know what to do, which to sell (perhaps both?). I decided to preorder Touch, hoping that the Rift+Touch would be decisively better than the Vive and my decision would be made for me.

* Touch arrived in December. The controllers themselves were great. The tracking was not. It was a real pain to set up. I fiddled with it endlessly. The tracking software itself seemed to have glitches. It was really sensitive to which USB ports I used. Eventually I got the tracking working acceptably after my third sensor arrived -- still not as good as the tracking on the Vive, though, which was basically perfect.

* I've been experiencing a brief VR renaissance with the new Touch content, which is generally a lot more polished than anything on the Vive. However, most of it is purely multiplayer, which I'm not really into.

* Rift+Touch is not decisively better than the Vive, but I've somewhat arbitrarily decided to just keep it and sell the Vive, largely because it's the system that I currently have set up.

In retrospect, I wish I'd just waited an extra year or two. VR with tracked controllers and room-scale is definitely cool and I don't think it's a gimmick, but it's still very much in early adopter territory right now.

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johnchristopher 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe he should have waited a week before writing something under the wow effect.
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cebas33 1 day ago 0 replies      
When companies stop selling prototypes for full price maybe I'll get one of these. For now it's just another toy full of unaccomplished promises and useless hype, waiting to be abandoned for the user after experiencing motion sickness. No immersion at all and nothing impressive at this very moment. Considering I'm hearing it's the "future" since virtual boy... this future is waiting too much to be reached.
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DoodleBuggy 2 days ago 1 reply      
So, how do you overcome the motion sickness / nausea problem?
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clueless123 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can already imagine multiple wearable mechanical contraptions to enhance the VR experience injecting orientation and acceleration to the mix. This is huge.
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sharemywin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent ~$20 on a Evo and updated youtube and was very impressed. would I spend ~$1000 on the head stuff probably not but for ~20 you can't beat the it.
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RoboTeddy 2 days ago 1 reply      
VR might explode once the hardware can convey our actual facial expressions.

Once that happens, there will be strong forces could tip:

* Offices/meetings

* Learning institutions

* Socializing with friends who aren't close by

* ...

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beders 2 days ago 0 replies      
Baloney.Unless the form factor improves significantly, this will disappear again quickly.

AR has a much much better shot at mass market adoption.

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Sir_Cmpwn 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not getting into VR until Linux support is there. Every major vendor promised it. It's been long enough. More than long enough.
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kevinSuttle 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just finished reading Ready Player One, and have never put on a VR unit. This post is timely. I can see having a very similar reaction.
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bencollier49 2 days ago 2 replies      
What's the model for building apps, then. Oculus is owned by Facebook. How do you create a game - does it require a paid SDK?
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andreygrehov 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if there is a correlation between the future of VR and the eyecare industry?
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bhewes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yep, this is why game company www.gameover.la is moving to VR. The potential is huge.
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jordache 2 days ago 2 replies      
How is VR "physical" when you are tethered to a computer?
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swalsh 2 days ago 2 replies      
We need more women to get into VR. Not some SJW thing, young 20 something techy dudes just don't shop enough. Future malls will be in VR, and it'll be awesome, but right now the wrong demographics are using VR.
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return0 2 days ago 0 replies      
I expect lightweight, ergonomic VR or AR to replace desktop monitors in a few years. which means desks may no longer be needed. time to short IKEA - oh wait they re not listed.
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mememachine 1 day ago 0 replies      
i cant see myself with vr.
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ggregoire 2 days ago 3 replies      
Like most people, I'm completely sick when I'm in VR. I don't see how the VR could become mainstream if they don't fix this problem.
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xigency 2 days ago 0 replies      

 Because VR games are so physical, gaming will no longer be perceived as an unhealthy activity. I could have used this growing up.
I don't see this panning out ever. If "virtual reality" went beyond being room based, then it doesn't really seem like the same idea as virtual reality. And I don't think anyone thinks it's healthy to bump around a small office room.

Harkens back to the 'playing Wii is exercise' movement.

 Because VR is so immersive, I can imagine myself spending significant amounts of time (hours) with a headset on, every day.
While there's plenty of room for improvement, this doesn't sound particularly healthy. It's eerily similar to taping lightbulbs to your eyelids and expecting good results. Even if the light level were healthy, the close screen and lenses could do damage to focus. I would definitely talk to real eye doctors before planning around this idea. But then again, I'm nearsighted just from reading books and using the computer.

This is also a nave attitude as anyone who has or has developed for VR knows that a little time goes a long way.

 As a result, gaming will not be the only significant use case for VR. My headset will steal time time from other screens (tv/laptop/phone) and as a result there will be an explosion of VR consumer apps, entertainment apps, developer tools, and more.
The virtual office concept is nuts. There is never going to be a time when the cost per pixel of virtual monitors outperforms real monitors. VR is inherently selfish, so there's very little room for opening up collaboration. A dry erase board gives a better sense of community.

 If I am right, over the next five years we will see the following: 100 million devices distributed.
That's certainly possible but I don't understand the leap from, "this device is cool," to "this is a necessity." When I first saw 3D TV's I thought, "hey, this is great!" but they aren't sold in my local electronics stores any longer.

I do think VR is cool. I think it's great that Oculus was able to kickstart all the way to Facebook, and I think the Vive is an even better product. The smartphone VR is a neat way to get rid of wires. And there are plenty of great games and applications, where the community is just getting started.

But I don't think this is the revolution that people are pinning on it. In ways, VR devices are glorified view masters. Everyone loved those as a child but they are a toy. (The armed forces pay a lot for 'serious games' as well, so it isn't a discount.) I think if many people who tried VR tried a Nintendo 3DS they might also love it. And if you tried head tracking on a normal display it might also be exciting.

I don't like the infatuation with VR. It's not healthy and it's only going to make things more disappointing when the bubble bursts. It also rings hollow.

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iagooar 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have mixed feelings about the potential of VR, and seeing YC pushing for it makes me reconsider my position. Let me explain.

I preordered the HTC Vive as soon as it was available in Europe. I got it shipped and the excitement couldn't be bigger. When I first tried, I was blown away. It was an experience I never had had before. I described it once as the single, most beautiful digital experience in my life. And I really mean it.

But.

Once the newness wears away, it's hard to find a motivation to keep spending hours in VR. It's cutting-edge tech, no doubt about it. But it requires a certain kind of commitment that you just can't give it for a long time. Using room-scale VR requires you to have a dedicated, large space just for VR. You need to detach yourself completely from the outside world while using it. You can't play it casually. You need to be a 100% committed to it. Compared to many other digital experiences, it's an all-in or nothing approach.

While playing on the PC, you need to be sitting in front of your PC. It's fine, because you can still read texts on your phone or talk to your family members that are passing by. Playing console games is even less of an issue, since you can be in your living room, sitting at the sofa, playing your favorite game. Using a tablet, or your phone is even more casual. You can do it in the middle of many everyday tasks, without it being an issue at all. At most, it's a distraction.

So after a while, VR becomes this great experience to be had only a few, limited times a week, or even a month.

Let's talk VR games. When the Vive started shipping world-wide, you would see tons and tons of VR content shipping to Steam. Unfortunately, most of them were short, alpha-stage demos, showcasing the new technology. But not a single deep, long game. You would pay full price for games that would not last more than 3 hours total. It's been many months now, and besides Bethesda's Fallout 4 coming to VR in 2017, there is just no other AAA title in sight!

I loved playing Pool Nation VR! I could play it with people from all around the world. It's honestly the closest you can get to a real pool table gameplay. But then again, after only a couple of months after its launch, it was next to impossible to even find a person available for playing online! The matchmaker would go for more then 10 minutes without finding a single opponent. I tried it many times, then I gave up.

The non-game aspect of VR seemed to have potential as well. But as of today, besides some gimmicky drawing applications or low-res virtual movie theaters, there just isn't a single app that would make you think that VR is the next big thing.

I was really excited about AltspaceVR. In the beginning, it was vibrant, with lots of people meeting and exploring this new way of socializing with other people from all around the globe. Guess what? It's pretty empty right now, not even a fraction of what it used to be the first few weeks after launch.

Still, I am going to reconsider selling the Vive now. I had pictures taken and a description prepared to sell it through a second-hand online store. Maybe there is more to it than it appears. Maybe the next-gen VR sets are going to be wireless and much, much less isolating (AR anybody?). We shall see...

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dingleberry 1 day ago 0 replies      
would vr worsen myopia?
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SeaDude 1 day ago 0 replies      
DPDR
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bsparker 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's weird, he keeps misspelling AR. ;)
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k7carlton 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think VR is still too focused on mainly males who are young and tech-savy. It can only grow so much while focusing on this demographic.

I got involved in social media, and many smart-phone enabled technologies or apps (and many other things now that I think about it), because the popular kids at school were using them. I personally haven't seen this adoption by social trend setters happen with VR yet.

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thesmallestcat 2 days ago 4 replies      
Nobody wants VR. You can try and ram it down our throats all you want with TV adds showing befuddled old people discovering the wonders of a phone strapped to their head, or calling VR systems a "hot Christmas gift," but that won't change the fact that nobody wants it. It's too awkward, and it makes the user too vulnerable. You cannot create this market.
5
Affordable Care samaltman.com
713 points by mattkrisiloff  2 days ago   998 comments top 89
1
virmundi 2 days ago 29 replies      
When my wife and I looked for insurance just before ACA, the private plan without subsidies, because they didn't exist, was $250. It was a basic plan with a high deductible and an HSA. It was pretty much what my employer offered. After the ACA, same plan, by name, now cost $530. Sure it had more bells and whistles, but I didn't want nor need them. This priced me out. This same plan today is $780 a month without subsidies.

We are now on an ACA plan. $270 with subsidies. Think about that. The government doubled the price of the plan or more, and is paying with our tax dollars the difference between my $270 and $780.

The ACA helped many people. It helped people under 26. It helped people with pre-existing conditions. It helped give free or low-cost health care to people that couldn't afford it because now the government is picking up the lion's share of the tab.

As much as people like to rag on the Republicans, and they deserve it, I don't think they will throw out the good parts. I think they will look at the industrial recommendations such as expanding risk pools across states (Commerce Clause allows this regulation), and other rational plans. Will it be perfect? No. Will it be better than the current ACA? Maybe.

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jakewins 2 days ago 10 replies      
If I start a fire insurance company, and I have a policy that you can sign up even if your house is currently on fire, I'm unlikely to stay in business.

Anyone worried about house fires could simply wait and, if they did have a house fire, sign up for my insurance after the fact.

This is why pre-existing conditions are "special" - they are fundamentally incompatible with a free market insurance system. And it is, partially, why American insurance was cheaper previously - insurance companies could simply deny expensive customers and let them die to keep premiums low for the healthier subset of the population they covered.

Republicans were elected to get rid of the "bad part" of ACA - mainly the individual mandate. Saying you want to get rid of that is the exact same thing as saying you want to re-introduce pre-existing conditions, they go hand-in-hand.

Either we deny coverage to those that are already ill, or we force everyone to have insurance (ACA, single payer, public option, whatever).

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brandon272 2 days ago 7 replies      
As a Canadian, I hit CTRL+F and searched for "Canada" in this thread with over 600 comments and didn't find a single result. (Edit: My mistake, missed one other Canadian!) I searched for a few other nations with universal healthcare and couldn't find any references to them, either.

It is really interesting how the American mindset is to never look abroad to see what works and what doesn't. There's something amusingly arrogant about it. Almost as if every other country must be an absolute cesspit that could never have any lessons to offer, although I admit that other countries' universal healthcare systems have been effectively (but unfairly) demonized in U.S. political discourse.

Our system here is far from perfect and comes with it's own unique set of frustrations in terms of timely access to care, but it seems like those frustrations are nothing compared to what millions of Americans put up with.

I have anxiety even travelling to the United States for a couple weeks on occasion when it comes to healthcare. What if something happens to me? Did I buy the right travel insurance? Is there a certain process I need to follow? (Most travel insurance policies I have seen indicate that if you need medical treatment to call them first before you do anything, which seems like an odd thing to do if you're having a heart attack..) Did I fill out the insurance application forms correctly? And if I end up needing care, will the insurance company find some loophole or technicality to deny my coverage?

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grandalf 2 days ago 4 replies      
The problem is that middle class Americans are charged outlandish rates for the plans.

The plan for my family last year cost over $1200 per month, and this year rose to $1400/month.

Previously, with employer-provided plans I paid at most $400/month for my family.

Not only are the costs outlandish, there are no high deductible plans available for people who are generally healthy. All of the plans, gold, silver and bronze, are geared toward heavy users or highly risk-averse users.

A healthy, disease-free family at an income level to afford $1400/month in health care costs surely ought to be able to purchase a plan that covers catastrophic scenarios and costs a lot less than $1400/month.

In the past I'd had a plan via an employer that was a high-deductible plan. It cost $350/month but I had to pay the first $10K of all costs each year. Do the math, this was a better deal even in the worst case scenario than my ACA plan.

The problem with bundling a progressive tax, a flat fee, a subsidy, and a prepayment plan into one "price" is that it is impossible to tell which dollars apply to what.

I'd much rather have my actual taxes go up a small bit than pay an income-based penalty in my healthcare price.

I'd also much rather self-insure the first $15-20K of risk each year in exchange for a much smaller payment.

One other detail. Nearly all the plans by all the providers are essentially identical. The cheapest bronze plan I could have found was over $900/month! That's for a pretty abysmal level of coverage of most things compared to any other employer provided plan I've ever had.

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mr_spothawk 2 days ago 2 replies      
I quit my job and moved to Colorado ("Health First Colorado" === medicaid). Over the winter holiday I broke my collarbone.

If it weren't for medicaid, I would be flat broke. my bills start at $5k... that's only the first bill I've seen. My savings would be dissolved, and I would be forced to find work for somebody else.

Instead, because of this coverage, and in spite of limitations on the amount of time I can work at a computer with a busted arm, I am able to continue my entrepreneurial efforts. My partners and I are all hopeful that this will be a very valuable use of our time, and our investor's money. I hope to be able to pay Colorado & the USGov back in spades, through taxes.

* - edited to correct Colorado Cares --> "Health First Colorado"... because I didn't know what I was talking about.

edit 2 - HFC is medicaid for those who qualify... Thanks HN for educating me :P

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kobeya 2 days ago 5 replies      
Here's a counter-point, Mr. Altman:

I have a pre-existing condition that prevented me from getting non-employer sponsored insurance. When the exchanges came online in my state I decided to leave my job and get an ACA plan for my family, while trying to bootstrap my company. That lasted all of a single year because of 30% premium hikes and 290% deductible hikes made ramen bootstrapping no longer possible.

I'm still working in startup space because of connections I made, but I'm now tied to employment and could never again be a founder, unless one of my current bets pays off.

Yay for elimination of pre-existing condition restrictions. But what good is insurance if you can't afford it?

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RRRA 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's frustrating to see so much energy wasted in fragmenting health coverage solutions in the US. This makes it so costly, that it _looks_ like it's too expensive or inefficient, making right wing politicians justify the fact that it should be everyone for themselves.

As a Canadian with full health coverage, without any special requirements except renewing a picture card every 5 years, this looks like a very dangerous situations for millions of poor people. And while the system isn't perfect, and we do have some wait list on special cases, most heavy or light illness get treated quickly.

Even for the richer US citizens, it seems like a waste of time and a big overhead + legal battles looming on possible contract conflicts.

In term of equality of chances for that "American dream", this looks like the biggest imbalance one can imagine, just beside education.

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general_ai 2 days ago 1 reply      
A fine example of confirmation bias: ACA aligns with Sam's ideological position, so he hand picks some examples to support it. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that people with preexisting conditions can't be denied coverage. But is it OK that plans are three times more expensive now, with three times the deductible? I don't think so. Seems like a trillion dollar money trough for Big Pharma and Big Insurance to me.
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nooron 2 days ago 1 reply      
The prevalence of employer-offered, private health insurance is like many facets of American life and institutions an interesting path dependency of WW2.

The federal government imposed limitations on the ability of private firms to offer higher wages, so that the government could more easily recruit workers for war industry. Private employers found a loophole. Offering health insurance.

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Spivak 2 days ago 4 replies      
Something just seems wrong about a lot of these stories citing the provision that they're allowed to remain on their parents insurance until they're 26. Because the story is really, "not having to worry about the high cost of health insurance afforded me the luxury of taking more financial and career risks." Surely we can do better for people who are older than 26 or who don't have the option of getting insurance through their parents. If we wanted to give everyone this kind of benefit we would just have universal healthcare with the state acting as everyone's 'parent'.

The counterpoint is course you're able to take more risks when you have fewer life-dependent expenses, so we should just pay for everyone's utilities, food, and housing too. You might even throw expenses for dependents in there too for older folks. What's special about healthcare except that it's expensive?

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pavlov 2 days ago 8 replies      
I've always disliked how right-wing parties automatically get to enjoy the assumption that they are "business-friendly". That's not the case -- their policies tend to be friendly to existing big businesses, but may be deeply hostile to new or merely potential businesses.

This list of founders who were able to make the leap thanks to ACA's safety net is a case in point. Under Republican policies, these businesses would not exist.

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mas644 2 days ago 0 replies      
I comment rarely, but had to chime in as the ACA was very important to me in terms of starting a company.

The ACA also allowed me to pursue founding a company. 6 months before the ACA kicked in, I left my job to start a robotics company. As I was only 29 years old, I did not think it would be a problem getting individual health insurance -- I had done it in the past when attempting my first venture.

What ended up happening was that every health insurance company rejected me for having the pre-existing condition of asthma! It made no sense as I was very healthy and my asthma under control as long as I took a control inhaler everyday. The cost of my medicine would be way less than the premiums I paid -- but some actuary somewhere decided I was too high risk!

For 6 months, I was scared of getting sick or injured -- to the point where I was considering giving up to get a job just for health insurance. That thought to me was just so ridiculous and heartbreaking that I couldn't do it --I just kept telling myself that I had to make it to Jan 1.

I was overjoyed the day I got my insurance card -- it was a huge sense of relief. What brought me even more joy was knowing all my fellow Americans whom also could not get or afford insurance could finally receive it.

Today I no longer need the ACA -- our company is doing great, we're well-capitalized, and provide excellent health insurance to all of our employees. Without the ACA, this dream would not have been possible. We were able to create wealth and jobs because of the ACA -- it makes no sense to repeal it.

Even before I needed the ACA -- I had enough empathy to know that every person has the right to health care and one of the biggest reasons I voted for President Obama. When it affected me personally, it obviously hit even harder. The GOP's lack of empathy as well as a real solution to the problem are just infuriating -- it is absolutely shameful and disgusting how they are attempting to repeal this law.

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grellas 2 days ago 0 replies      
The ACA passed on a purely partisan vote and will be repealed on a purely partisan vote.

The normal institutions of the Senate - primarily, the filibuster - were bypassed in the name of the effecting the greater good. But this also leaves the repeal option open today to a simple procedure that in turn will bypass the filibuster.

In light of the recent election, the ACA will be repealed. the initial votes to do this have already been had and the partisan lines drawn.

There was immense political fallout to the party in power back in 2009 when ACA was passed using shortcut techniques. Many walked the plank, whether wittingly or not, when they cast crucial votes in support of a strictly partisan outcome.

I believe the same will happen to those currently in power if they attempt to jam through purely partisan solutions in support of the ACA replacement, whatever that will be.

Those in power know this and I believe this gives the party out of power leverage to attempt to salvage the more important elements of ACA (many of which are noted in the founder anecdotes cited in this piece).

Given who is in power, any replacement will involve a decided swing back toward free market and away from the single-payer direction that the losing candidate had favored. Among other things, I believe any replacement plan will: (1) do away with the mandate requiring everybody to buy health insurance or pay a penalty; (2) do away with the idea that all policies must be comprehensive and outlawing "skinny" coverage of the type most young people desire (in other words, the replacement will allow insurers once again to offer cheaper policies that appeal to young, healthy people who want to cover only catastrophic risks and do not want coverage for a broad range of other things they likely will not need); (3) do away with penalties imposed on employers who fail to provide health care coverage to their full-time workers (thus causing at least some employers to limit the number of hours many of their employees could work so they could stay within the definition of "part-time"). In other words, far more elements of free-market choice will be brought into the mix. Beyond that, who knows.

Whatever else, I believe we can be assured that whatever emerges will hardly be "affordable" care. Our health insurance system is an utter mess and has been for many years predating the ACA. I can hope for the best but, in this area, have come to expect the worst, whoever may be in power.

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nodamage 2 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of complaints about the ACA seem related to monthly premiums going up compared to pre-ACA plans. It goes something like this: prior to the ACA I was paying $X, now I'm paying more, therefore the ACA is bad.

But here's the thing, pre-ACA and post-ACA plans are not remotely directly comparable. Pre-ACA plans could reject you for pre-existing conditions, drop your coverage if you got sick and became too expensive to insure (recission), or had maximum lifetime limits that would leave you bankrupt if you got a serious chronic illness (think expensive cancer treatments). All of these practices are now banned under the ACA.

Does anyone remember applying for individual health insurance prior to the ACA? It was a nightmare. You had to fill out a 30-page questionnaire regarding your health history, and if you made any mistakes, the insurance company would have cause to deny your claims if you ever got sick. You weren't sure if your insurance would actually pay out when you needed it. And that's assuming they even approved you in the first place.

So yes, health insurance costs more now, but you have to ask yourself, was that $50-100/month plan you were paying for really health insurance if they could drop your coverage just because you were getting too expensive for them? Besides, in exchange for paying more, a lot of people less fortunate than myself can now get coverage, and I know my coverage will actually pay out in the event that I become seriously ill. So overall, despite the additional cost, I think it's a net improvement.

It's not perfect, however. It still leaves too much power in the hands of the insurance companies, who are essentially middlemen squeezing the health care industry from both ends: charging higher premiums to patients and paying less to doctors, so they can extract a profit in the middle. Ultimately we need to transition to a single-payer system where insurance is administered by a government entity instead of profit-seeking corporations.

This is how every other modern country in the world does it, and the result is better health outcomes than the US. It's absurd how behind the times we are on this front.

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danjoc 2 days ago 15 replies      
Affordable Care Act?

https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_health_care_inflation_rate

Health care is not becoming more affordable. The rate of inflation in health care is significantly higher than the US inflation rate.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/T5YIFR

How is that affordable? How are $600 epi-pens affordable?[1] How is a 4000% price hike on a 62 year old generic affordable?[2] Google for "snake bite hospital bill." $153,000. That's not affordable. That sounds downright fraudulent.

It seems they should have named it something more appropriate, like the Universal Health Insurance Act. Insurance that is no more affordable than the overpriced health care available in the country. But point this out, and everyone starts their partisan bickering and nothing gets done at all.

[1]https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-29/mylan-to-...

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/0...

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marknutter 2 days ago 2 replies      
I recently quit my six figure salary job at a startup here in Minnesota to start my own startup. Just before I quit I was looking at around $650/month premiums for my family of four as the absolute cheapest plan with the highest deductible. Right after I quit, the two largest health insurance providers in MN pulled out of our MNSure health insurance exchange, causing premiums to spike up across the board. Now I am faced with a $1200/month premium which is more than I'd pay for my former employer's health plan through COBRA. Having to cover such a high premium expense is significantly impacting my ability to start my company.

So perhaps Sam is happy about all the ways in which the ACA has helped much younger entrepreneurs get off the ground with their companies, but a significant portion of the population is being impacted in a very negative way. Maybe he believes that only young people should be starting startups in the first place, but we know that's an absurd proposition. Even if I was under 26 I wouldn't have been able to rely on my parents for health insurance because they were unemployed. The only way I can make this all work is to claim a low enough income to qualify for medical assistance which is going to be hard to work out because of my monthly expenses.

What I really wish I could do is pay for a very low premium "catastrophe" plan with an absurdly high deductible like $50k, because my family is very healthy and I have enough in retirement savings (IRA, HSA, 401K, etc) to cover it should something severe happen. In other words, I wish I could just buy health insurance that was like my car insurance. But I'm being forced to pay for a plan with far more bells and whistles than my family will ever use or frankly even wants to use.

17
jchrisa 2 days ago 1 reply      
""my only option was to work for a large employer with an established health plan that would provide me with the appropriate benefits to support my situation""

I think the anti-ACA lobby sees this as a feature not a bug.

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WhatIsThisIm12 2 days ago 2 replies      
As a young, healthy male in my 20's pursuing entrepreneurship, the best health insurance for me is the ability to declare bankruptcy. I have chosen to go uninsured and pay the ACA penalty because it's so much cheaper than paying for a catastrophic health insurance plan. Why would I pay $4000 per year for a $6000 deductible? I do not see any benefit from that except in the case of catastrophe. It's just flushing money (that I don't have) down the toilet.

If I have to go to the ER and have a hospital bill so high that I literally cannot afford it, I will just declare bankruptcy. After all, it's not like I have any money to lose. And bankruptcy will disappear after 7 years.

This is selfish, but I really don't give a shit. The healthcare system is so messed up and overpriced that I feel no social obligation to it.

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jMyles 2 days ago 1 reply      
This post, especially presented as it is through the voices of these founders, makes an important point.

However, missing, as far as I can tell, is the critique of health care that startups and the open source movement stand to make - a point which the ACA ignores:

Health care has a gatekeeper problem. And an IP problem. Many people find that medical doctors are only a part - maybe a small part - of their health care regiment. And that being and staying healthy has little in common with the official positions of agencies from HHS (especially FDA) to EPA.

The ACA enshrines insurance, pharma, and hospital companies, including those that are the biggest parts of the problem in health care in the USA.

For my part, I need to hear how we can move away from the credentialist model of care toward an open source model before I can become impassioned about any plan.

20
nradov 2 days ago 2 replies      
For those with a Wall Street Journal subscription, they had an excellent unbiased article on the economics of providing healthcare for people with serious medical conditions. Anyone trying to reform or repeal the ACA will have to address this issue.

"Health Cares Bipartisan Problem: The Sick Are Expensive and Someone Has to Pay"

http://www.wsj.com/articles/health-cares-bipartisan-problem-...

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clbrook 2 days ago 0 replies      
Had ACA existed when I graduated from college, I would've been able to remain on my parent's health insurance plan until 26 (5 extra years). This would have allowed me to take a job with a startup company that could not offer health insurance instead of joining a large multi-national corporation that offered good health coverage. Wow...thinking how different my path could have been with that opportunity. I heard about YC two years out of college (it started the year I graduated), all I wanted to do was apply and talked myself out every time as I am unable to go without health coverage and would not have qualified for an individual plan due to past health history.
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tptacek 2 days ago 0 replies      
Chiming in to say that we wouldn't have been able to start our last company or this most recent one without the ACA. One of these YC stories had a founder who was rejected because they had a sleep study done. Most people have never interacted with the individual insurance market, and so don't realize that virtually any interaction with the health care system beyond a strep throat test would, prior to the ACA, get you declined automatically: you were uninsurable at any price. That's what happened to us; for instance: my daughter had an unexplained seizure when she was 4 (she's a healthy 15 year old now), and was thus declined.
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alphabettsy 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have no pre-existing conditions, but being able to sign-up using the exchange was a big reason I was able to go full-time in a small business rather than continuing to work part-time for a large company to keep health benefits. The monthly premium is too high in my opinion, but one hospital visit made it worth it.

Improvements definitely need to be made though, I'd rather have Medicare like my grandparents and I have a hard time understanding why people are so against national healthcare or even exploring the idea.

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patrickg_zill 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry, but Sam Altman (and many others) are missing the point.

Without actual PRICE DISCOVERY nothing(in terms of reform) works.

I got a tetanus shot (booster as an adult, Tdap) and called around to different clinics. Prices ranged from $131 to $39. For what is required by law to be exactly the same thing.

That "well your insurance might mean you will pay a different amount" is EXACTLY the problem. No one can easily determine the price of anything.

Is there a base-model Chevy that is sold at one dealership for $35K and at another dealership in the same city, for $65K?

No, because people would very quickly do price discovery...

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lend000 2 days ago 1 reply      
People seem to think that without ACA, the US healthcare market is free, which is why it has so many problems.

This could not be further from reality. We have more government distortions in our healthcare market than countries with completely socialized healthcare. For example:

Medicare: socialized medicare for the elderly, which alone creates more distortion than a universal program would cause by inflating demand/prices for non-qualifying citizens.

Medicaid: socialized healthcare for specially qualifying poor people, which creates the same distortion as Medicare.

An oppressive FDA: which, coupled with overly-powered IP laws, grants de-facto monopolies in the medical product industry. We have an incredibly expensive and subjective medical equipment pre-approval process (as compared to a less-terrible FDA that would just be in charge of labeling, preventing fraud, and maintaining accountability in the event of incidents). Then there's the length and flexibility of patent protections in our current system (maybe we could cut those protection times in half, and patent trolling would not be a lucrative industry).

Oppressive occupational licensing: It's way too hard to become a doctor of any kind, even the kinds that don't manually put things into your heart. This will be a major battle as AI comes to the point where it can better diagnose conditions and largely replace generic/non-specialized pediatrics. Of course, the government will not make this easy.

Plus a slew of more minor things like malpractice regulation, and now the ACA (which is not so minor).

If we cleaned up/removed all of the problems in the above and replaced it with single payer, it would be OK and we would have something similar to Canada/other countries with long wait times, not much access to specialists, and a system where the government gets to decide who gets the last liver transplant and who dies.

Or we could try going the free-ish market approach and try to find a much freer balance with the FDA/USDA/occupational-licensing/scrap Medicare/Medicaid,etc., which we do not currently have AT ALL.

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DoodleBuggy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Nice post, the stories echo multiple people I know as well. Having health insurance tied exclusively to a job is anti-entrepreneurial. That should be fairly obvious.

The ACA has flaws but it also has some great features that need to persist: minimum care requirements, pre-existing condition exclusions banned (having a pulse is a pre-existing condition BTW), no lifetime caps on treatment.

What's the alternative? Still haven't heard anything.

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zmitri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Something of note - not a single woman on here. Pregnancy, birth control... so many expensive, and common medical procedures that are very relevant to all female founders have been overlooked or neglected.
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zaroth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Faced with a similar decision pre-ACA, the fact is that CA already had guaranteed issue small business health insurance. ACA roughly tripled the cost of the same plan, but made it more accessible to people by putting a web front-end on top of what was otherwise a fairly opaque process.

But it's untrue to claim ACA provided benefits to any CA startup in terms of coverage, guaranteed issue or pre-existing conditions.

If you wanted to start a company in CA pre-ACA and you had prior credible coverage, you could get a great plan at a competitive price (the so-called "rating adjustment factor" was capped for the guarantee issue plans) with immediate coverage for pre-existing conditions.

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ThomPete 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am unconvinced that healthcare affects the number of startups as this have been going down also after Obama got on board and is going down also in Europe (ex Denmark where healthcare is completely free)

But I am all for an alternative to what we have now or what we had.

The most important thing IMO is to make sure that people don't get hit by pre-existing conditions.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-is-the-number-of...

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gorbachev 2 days ago 0 replies      
If only Mr. Altman had a pre-existing relationship with someone very close to Mr. Trump. He could then perhaps raise these arguments with that person.
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losteverything 2 days ago 0 replies      
ACA works. But it seems to me that young people just starting out have it so much worse when it comes to healthcare.

Example. Out of college. Got job. Had insurance and didn't think much of it. $2 all RX

Mid '80s had kid. 5 days in hospital (C section) and it cost $500. Insurance was 59 per month. (I making $36k)

Got thrown out of tech into federal job with federal insurance. Excellent coverage. Got $102k prostetic from New york hospital for< $5000 out of pocket.

My life with health insurance was been charmed. I am so glad I dont have to start like these young people.

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hamilyon2 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a pity american people have to think about healthcare that much and as far as i can see not long time ago didn't even have a backup plan in case their employment goes wrong.Post soviet countries all enjoy pretty affordable health care, free in most cases. Govermment pays all the salaries so it is pretty simple. Of course it is overused, as every public good is, but maybe that is not actually the problem. Sick people with huge debts because ot their sickness looks far worse in comparison.
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spoiledtechie 2 days ago 19 replies      
I am a Republican. More in fact, Fiscal Constitutional conservative.

Now that thats out of the way.

I hate the ACA. Its overreach by what the government should be doing. No where in the constitution does it say the government is allowed to force law abiding citizens to do something. ACA does exactly that. It forces people to do things against their will. Or they will be forced to pay a fine. Alright, don't down vote me just yet.

Lets repeal the ACA. But I certainly see things that should be quickly made into law.

* Preexisting conditions cannot be denied and should be slightly elevated costs compared to the average user.

* Age 26 under the parents health care plan, fine, but damnit kid, get a job. Do something with yourself.

* Birth Control, yes and no. We should be able to opt out paying for it, especially if it goes against my religion and frankly it does, but I won't stop others from opting in and paying for it.

* Remove the boundries of the state borders. This is regulation. Not allowing companies to work and provide across state lines is ridiculous and again government overreach that could quickly drive down costs.

* Lastly, I want hospital prices published. I want to shop around.

* I am business friendly, but these are common sense laws.

I think EVERY Republican can get behind these thoughts as every other Democrat, but forcing me to pay for it, when I just want to live off the land in some small town somewhere. Complete overreach and strictly unconstitutional.

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waivej 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone that has worked for myself for 16 years, I will sorely miss the the ACA. Let me know if you have any recommendations because surely I'm missing something.

- Before the ACA we had Blue Cross and I inquired about maternity coverage. My wife was looking at a shoulder surgery so we were locked in. Blue Cross offered us a $1000/month rider that had to be in place for 21 months before birth and then they would cover anything over our high deductible. It worked out to about $25,000 on top of our regular premiums before they would pick up the bill. We jokingly priced getting an apartment in another city instead.

- Then the ACA came out. Maternity was included free and the premiums are about the same. We had a baby and had to cover twice the deductible. The marketplace gave us some trouble due to stupid bureaucracy so we priced out getting a plan directly (non-ACA) but the price was so much higher and it covered less. So, even with the marketplace, the coverage and affordability made it an easy decision.

Anyway, I could live without the subsidies (we haven't qualified for them every year) and I wish the marketplace was a little easier to work with. Though I feel like our coverage is so much better now. Why take it all away?

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justicezyx 2 days ago 3 replies      
Isn't the biggest part of health cost is from drug company and insurance company?

If that's the case, addressing the cost is the foremost issue, instead of forcing everyone to join a universal plan. That does not help addressing the root problem above.

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petegrif 2 days ago 1 reply      
The health system in the US is a total mess. Single payer is the only sane way to go. That too will be imperfect and ragged but it is provenly absurdly cheaper - practically all advanced industrial countries are single payer and all spend far less as a percentage of their GNP - as in half to a third - whilst covering everybody. The admin savings are staggering, the drug costs are lower etc etc.
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davidf18 2 days ago 1 reply      
Countries that offer universal care such as Canada, The UK, France (also also NY State/NY City where I live) have a tobacco tax in the $5 to $7 range or more that helps to pay for the higher health care costs of smokers. NYC tax is $6.85 for city+state+fed. The US Federal tax is about $1. If the tax were increased by $5 for the 13 billion packed smoked each year it would yield approx $30 to $35 billion which could be used to mitigate the high cost of insurance for others.

Also, the medical ratio of youth to elderly is 1:6 and before the ACA, youth would pay about 1/6 of elderly costs. Congress unfairly mandated that ratio to be 1:3 meaning youth pay 75% more than they should. They already have to pay for student loans, save for a house, and now they have additional burdens paying for smokers and those who drink daily sugar Cokes and thus obese.

Tax tobacco like other countries and NYC/NYS and use that money to make premiums for youth and middle class more fair.

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tmaly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would like to see prices published and anti-trust exemptions for the industry scrapped. There is absolutely no transparency in the pricing.
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c-slice 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having health insurance be offered by employers/ tied to employment is one of the biggest mistakes in American healthcare policy. It encourages a "consume as much as possible" mindset for employees and disguises the true cost of care. Creating clarity of price and cost in healthcare would be one of the most beneficial shifts.
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em3rgent0rdr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding the concern about health insurance being tied to an employer, it is important to consider why employers have historically been the source of health insurance in US. A primary reason is the higher marginal income tax rates, which makes it hard for companies to effectively reward valuable employees with heavily-taxed salaries. So the companies instead resort to providing non-salary benefits such as health insurance. If mid-to-high marginal tax rates weren't so high, then employees would be paid more in salary and could purchase insurance themselves so they aren't "locked-in" to their company for providing essential needs.
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noobermin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of course, it's better to have a nationwide health service, now that ACA is toast, may be it is time for states to start considering health care systems within their borders. Many states have populations multiple the size of many countries which have universal health care. It could be very possible.
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drawkbox 2 days ago 1 reply      
I went full-time in my business in 2010-2011. I got denied for months for health insurance. I was in my early 30s, wife, and one child with no major health issues and barely ever used insurance. I got denied from the same companies I previously had insurance working full-time non-stop for years and years from. Finally I did get some by putting me and my family on differing plans across companies. It was insane, I was actually taken back at how messed up that seemed. It caused more panic than it needed to.

The ACA (or similar basic rules: no pre-existing, must cover, supports small business and self proprietors as the market goes more that way) is needed for entrepreneurship and in cases where you can't get it through a job, it is a must for starting business today. Other places have a competitive advantage to starting a company in a country that has healthcare figured out and away from the job.

We should be able to get insurance as a pool of individuals. The current insurance companies are not setup for non employer based healthcare and need to either change or go. They group based on company or individual not pools of people across companies and individuals, which is a broken legacy system. We need consumer facing companies to be in healthcare if private healthcare is the main thing, companies in auto insurance and other insurance are more consumer focused (Geico, Progressive, Nationwide etc). I wish for more competition in this area that is consumer focused not employer focused.

Insurance needs to be remove from employment (probably through legislation or market benefits) to ultimately solve this consumer facing insurance problem for healthcare. We also probably need a separate health insurance plan for catastrophic events and a healthcare plan that handles day to day healthcare needs, bundling them is a bit wrong when compared with other insurance i.e. car maintenance is not covered under auto insurance, home maintenance is not covered under home insurance.

Ultimately, fixing healthcare is needed for business and quality of life reasons. Our system is becoming a competitive disadvantage to businesses in the US.

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tomohawk 2 days ago 1 reply      
There were many issues with health insurance prior to Obamacare. Obamacare did not fix very many of these things, and broke a great deal of other things.

Sure, it's nice that pre-existing conditions are covered better and 26 and under people can get insurance with their parents, but those kinds of benefits could have been covered by a one or two page bill. What's in the rest of it? Special deals for corporations such as AARP.

The law does nothing about making malpractice insurance more affordable, or making the malpractice lawsuit environment more rational. Why is that?

Why is my employer still involved in my health insurance? Why not move the tax benefits from my employer (it's a company, and cannot get sick) to me? My employer doesn't need the insurance. I do.

Why can't I buy insurance across state lines like other insurances?

Why are there separate 'risk pools'? The US is a single market - there should only be one risk pool. This would put maximal pressure on the insurance companies in terms of cost as they would have to compete for my business instead of negotiating cozy deals with companies (and companies don't get sick).

Why does the gov't get to tell me what's in my plan? If I'm a single male, why do I need to buy a plan that covers ObGyn? Why can't I buy a high deductable plan anymore?

Why does Obamacare think its wrong for doctors to own medical facilities?

If controlling cost is so important, why is it practically impossible to find out the cost of anything ahead of time? This makes making decisions based on cost impossible. Why is the price one person pays radically different than what another person pays? Why does cost have no relationship to quality? I can get an MRI with a brand new machine or with a 15 year old machine that produces crap images, and the crap will cost more. Why not require publication of prices?

Why is it that my dad, a wounded combat veteran, cannot get decent health care at the VA in a major metropolitan area? The VA is completely controlled by the gov't. It is the gov't. And yet, if he goes to a private hospital to get decent care, he gets penalized.

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ccrush 2 days ago 2 replies      
GWB upped the age of coverage to 25 and the ACA only moved it a bit but gets all the credit. DJT wants to keep the preexisting conditions part and do away with the fines for not having insurance and increased costs of forcing insurers into the ACA by repealing it and replacing it with interstate insurance competition without the bureaucracy of a government managed program. Too bad everyone thinks Obama was a holy man for putting together the garbage that is the ACA, and thinks of any improved solution as an assault on his legacy.
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phamilton 2 days ago 1 reply      
Many of these stories suggest that you'll have less overhead (and more runway) as a 25 year old found than as a 27 year old founder.

I'm not convinced that's providing productive selection criteria.

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elihu 2 days ago 0 replies      
A few years back, I quit my job and founded an (ultimately unsuccessful) startup. A big factor in deciding to do it was that the ACA would go into effect before my Cobra coverage expired.
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codemusings 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a European watching from afar I feel like the US government should rather come after the insane pricing schemes of hospitals and pharma companies that make insurance so expensive in the first place.

Need your appendix removed? Better get a loan from the bank. Just because they can.

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baccredited 2 days ago 0 replies      
Damn. I saw the title and thought YC was starting a healthcare company. That would have been awesome.
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rdtsc 2 days ago 2 replies      
> One thing the ACA definitely did was help a lot of founders start their companies--without it, being a founder would make sense for less people

Hmm. I've heard many small companies could not afford to provide health insurance for their employees after ACA passed ( I don't know the details of exactly the causal chain there ). So they stop providing it and pushed people to use ACA which had ridiculous price hikes and also in some states companies withdrawing from the exchanges.

In other cases I've heard companies have pushed people part time status in order to avoid having to provide health insurance and other benefits. I think that is mostly lower wage employment.

My own rates working for a small company a few years before the ACA and after went up much high even before ACA was about to pass in anticipation. There the insurance representative who we talk to every year stated clearly why there is an increase -- because of the volatility and unknown effects of ACA they decided to increase prices. After it passed and was being phased in our rates were going up much high.

Some things were nicer, like no pre-existing conditions, no lifetime maximum, some free preventative checks overall it has been worse.

Now, no doubt it has helped many people, but I am not sure if small businesses and their employees (especially in the tech sector) saw a benefit.

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thembones 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the best experiences I had was actually going through a different site which seemed to have even more options than Healthcare.gov, https://www.policygenius.com/health-insurance

I'm sure there's more as well, but this definitely helped several friends of mine. Seems like these kind of things would have been impossible without large swaths of the ACA.

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dmode 2 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps I am being overly simplistic, and I do support ACA reform, but I don't believe there is a silver bullet to reforming ACA. If there was Republicans would already have come up with it and would have been publicizing it for the last 8 years.

The fact remains - covering pre-existing conditions, kids till 26, and low income households is expensive. You can pay it by increasing the insured pool - which is what ACA tries to do via the individual mandate, or by introducing a single payer system whose buying power would be so big that they will substantial leverage over healthcare provider. As a society we have decided that a single payer system is socialist, so it cannot be adopted here (and it has its own problems - wait times, lack of R&D incentive etc.). So now we have to choose between not providing healthcare to 40-50 million people or pay increased premiums to cover for those.

Some reforms that may somewhat bring down the premiums:- Offer subsidies to even middle income people, not just poor. May be set the income limit by geography- Make the individual mandate more expensive to incentivize healthier people join the pool- Offer a public option

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SmellTheGlove 2 days ago 0 replies      
We need something like the ACA. Shit, we need more than that, but the very imperfect ACA is a good start.

I look at it this way: Right now, I'm with a large company - I have a wife who left corporate life to raise our daughter. It's all riding on me. And on that, I have some ideas, one has become a small side gig, but if they grow enough to become my focus, that essentially opens the basic question of how I'd provide health insurance to my family.

Thankfully, I have a backup plan to some degree, as I happen to be a citizen of a European country as well as the US, but it's an imperfect backup plan as my "other" nationality is a place with notoriously difficult small business bureaucracy, and while I could live in another EU country, I'd need to establish the ability to support myself before anyone's going to let me stay.

Ideally, we'd stay in the US, because let's face it, this is a pretty great country to found a company, warts and all. But we have to not be having to worry about something as basic as healthcare if we're to take the kinds of risks that lead to innovation.

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rdl 2 days ago 0 replies      
ACA doubled or quadrupled my monthly insurance costs, which actually put a strain on my budget when doing a startup at the time.
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temp-dude-87844 2 days ago 1 reply      
Healthcare is a touchy subject because people's quality-of-life and their actual lives (vs. death) are on the line. But food and shelter are similarly crucial to existence, yet they aren't provided at no cost, but must be acquired through their own labor, or reliance on family, charity, etc.

It's interesting to me that we as a society have long accepted that people have to work for food and shelter, leaving a permanent underclass in the dust, while we're uncomfortable to say the same about healthcare.

But of course, it doesn't matter. Those who oppose the ACA or the individual mandate or employer requirements or the notion of healthcare subsidies are dancing around their justifications and are reluctant to come out and say that people with health complications should just be out of luck. Instead, they'll dismantle, maybe introduce an alibi entitlement scheme to save some political face, and leave a status quo with the exact same result.

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pkulak 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this idea that we can "save the best parts". What part would that be, exactly? The part where insurance companies can't deny you coverage? And the part to get rid of would be the part where you are required to carry insurance? Are people really so dense that they can't see how one absolutely requires the other?
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jeffdavis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am optimistic that we have a chance for real solutions here:

* Pricing: How about transparent pricing up front for all non-emergency services? That means the price you pay, and that your insurance pays. Not some mystery of "you are responsible for some unknowable amount if the insurance company doesn't pay" or "we might make you pay your entire deductible".

* More effective implementation of high deductible health plans that's simpler for people.

* Medical expenses and insurance tax-deductible, full stop. No messing with HSA, FSA.

* When you are diagnosed with a condition, your current insurance is responsible for the rest of your life for related expenses. No new insurance company would deny you because it wouldn't cost them anything for your preexisting condition.

* Subsidize normal health insurance for poor people.

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gm-conspiracy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I disagree this is a "party" doing.

Mitt Romney had similarly reformed Massachusetts law in 2006 as Governor.

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

I see the article briefly touched upon the American notion of health insurance being tied to employment.

Nobody seems to want to really solve this problem, just band-aids and lip-service. Neither mainstream party would consider a single-payer system, nor direct government negotiation with drug companies.

It's as though the drug and insurance companies are better represented (and have more rights) than its citizens.

Heck, even Medicare is divided into at least four regions to "negotaiate" regional prices.

How do other countries perceive this?

The US falls further and further behind in healthcare and affordable and available high-speed internet. Let's see some real progress.

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drc37 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the point most of the people that Sam referred to where basically saying that they would like others to subsidize their health insurance. That's what insurance is. We all put money into a bucket and some people will use it and some not so much and others a lot. The people who use it a lot want to pay the same amount as those who are healthy and have the healthy subsidize their health issues. That is what is currently going on and why prices have gone through the roof. All those "unisurables" are on the same insurances as healthy but now the bucket of money needs to be much larger to cover the cost of the "unisurables".

If this is how the government wants to do it, don't call it insurance. Just call it socialized medicine, because I am definitely not getting what I paid for.

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k__ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why can't the national health be handled as infrastructure?

I mean, we pay taxes for streets, so people can get everywhere. We pay taxes for schools, so people learn everything. Why not pay taxes, so people are kept healthy?

The whole public healthcare stuff doesn't even work like a real insurance, so why not throw this stuff away, make a health tax everyone pays, call it exactly that, and be done with it?

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MicroBerto 2 days ago 2 replies      
Altman acts like buying insurance was impossible when self employed pre-ACA. Give me a break.

I shopped online and bought a sensible plan just like anything else. There were tons of choices and plenty of competition.

This whole notion that we'll all be doomed without it is utter rubbish. The entire Healthcare system is broken, starting from our agricultural subsidies to our ridiculous prescription drug prices (which many pharma-lobbied Democrats just voted to keep high) to the artificially low supply of doctors (you don't need 12 years of school to prescribe penicillin).

ACA is just 2000 pages of nonsense on top of all of that. We can do better at all facets.

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ftrflyr 2 days ago 10 replies      
"I had heart surgery when I was 18. I was virtually uninsurable. I now have health insurance. Why we need the ACA is no more complicated than that."

I am a bit confused by this story. Was Zach not covered under his families' health coverage? He also went to: Westminster School - one of the most expensive private high schools in the US.

Now, one could argue he had a pre-existing condition and thus, was not covered under any health care providers plan, but he states: "I was virtually uninsurable." This tells me there were options, but none that covered the entire cost of the surgery. Honestly, this story alone makes me seriously question the purpose of this post.

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gwbas1c 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tried running a startup in 2010 before the ACA took effect. What ultimately made me give up? My only health care option was Cobra, and I ran out of time.

At the time, I had sleep apnea and had to pay almost $500 a month for health insurance. That was more then I spent on food, almost as much as I paid for rent. (It was more than my car payment, which I paid off two years prior.)

18 months is a very short time period when you're trying different things to see what sticks.

If the ACA was an option, I'd probably had another 4-6 months to go. Would I have found something that "stuck?" I'll never know.

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amyjess 2 days ago 0 replies      
The flip side is that the ACA has enabled small businesses to screw over and exploit their employees by exempting businesses under a certain size from having to provide health insurance to their employees.
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sergiotapia 2 days ago 6 replies      
It's a balancing act though, no? Health Insurance is stupid expensive in the US. In Bolivia I used to pay $300/month for my entire family full coverage, no copay. But they did screen for preexisting conditions when I signed up.

So what's the answer? How can health insurance providers help people with pre-existing conditions, and also not gouge young healthy customers?

Is the healthcare industry just charging too much money?

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notalaser 2 days ago 0 replies      
I twitch a little every time I read something like this:

> Precision CNC milled from aircraft grade aluminum to 1/1000ths of an inch tolerance

What you need aicraft-grade aluminum for? And a 1-mil tolerance? Are you building a really tiny aircraft?

"Premium design" stops when the design choices are the best you could ever need. Beyond that, it's no longer a matter of engineering, it's about far less respectable traits.

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noobermin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I posted a comment already, but I have another thing to say, or rather ask: honest question to sama and the rest of the YC people, why don't you lobby congress to keep parts of the ACA? Money in politics is the reason we are here, and until we fix that, the only way it seems you can play is to pay. I'm curious is people from SV have considered lobbying congress.
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dkresge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Trump aims to be a job creator. As a member of the uncountable funemployed, and while I may be working on the Next Big Thing(tm), it doesn't count. But take away my affordable, subsidized, health insurance policy and force me to seek shelter under the corporate umbrella? Then I'm +1 job.
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sjg007 2 days ago 0 replies      
Easy fix is to require all insurers to provide ACA plans. Also cross state plans sound nice in theory but then you need cross state normalization of insurance regulators. That may only happen at a Fdderal level and will be an interesting constitutional issue. Same with Medicare and Medicaid.
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bruceb 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you have to read this thread then call your rep. It litterly is about a 30 second call.http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Even if you have a rep that favors the ACA it gives them an idea how much effort in to saving it.

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trvlngsalesmn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Simple question:

Why is there little or no start up innovation in the insurance space? Why aren't YC17 companies able to attack this?

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altoz 2 days ago 0 replies      
the seen: people it helpsthe (mostly) unseen: the higher burden on everybody else

Is the tradeoff worth it? That's the question.

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Joof 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm still left wondering how our government manages to spend more money on healthcare than the vast majority of countries, but we have the highest out of pocket expenses of any country and our life expectancy and infant mortality still look a bit worse than other developed countries.
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thomasthomas 2 days ago 0 replies      
sam, i'd like the choice to buy or not buy health insurance. thats a little thing called freedom
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chatmasta 2 days ago 0 replies      
The healthcare and health insurance system in the United States is a complete mess. There are multiple distinct problems, but politicians like to group them all together into one single problem. The way I see it, all the problems fall into one of two major categories: (1) Healthcare costs are out of control, and (2) Health insurance costs are out of control.

1) Healthcare costs are out of control.

In the US, healthcare spending is 17% of GDP, the highest of any country in the world; the next highest is France, at 11% GDP. [0] The reasons for this are very complex and intertwined, but there are a few major issues:

(1a) Intellectual Property protections: When only one company can sell a drug for the first 10 years of its existence, they effectively have a monopoly and can set the price to whatever they want.

(1b) R&D costs: If it costs $10mm to develop a new drug to treat a deadly disease that affects less than 1% of the population, then naturally the company must set a high price for the drug to cover costs of R&D; this is related to (1a).

(1c) Primary care providers and pharmaceutical companies are accountable to nobody when setting their prices. Because the majority of people pay for healthcare via insurance, they are price insensitive. After all, if insurance is paying for your healthcare, what do you care if the cost is $100k or $1k? (As an example: A family friend of mine ran a "compounding pharmacy," where he compounded multiple drugs into a single pill, so people who are prescribed 15+ pills to only need to take one. The insurance companies considered the resulting compound to be a "new drug" and therefore he was able to set its price to literally whatever he wanted.)

2) Health insurance costs are out of control.

This is a complex issue but it comes down to a few major factors:

(2a) Risk pools cannot cross state lines. As far as I can see there is literally no reason for this.

(2b) The requirement to cover pre-existing conditions increases insurance costs for everyone. As many have mentioned in this thread, it makes no sense to call coverage for pre-existing conditions "insurance." If you already have a disease, you aren't insuring against it; you're just paying for it. I do think that people have a right to healthcare, and even as a republican I think that taxpayers have a duty to subsidize those with pre-existing conditions. But I don't think we should be including this obligation in the cost of insurance from private companies. It should be a separate budget item, like social security or medicare or medicaid (or better yet, take it out of the defense budget...). If private companies need to insure (read: pay for) pre-existing conditions, then they effectively become the gatekeepers for this tax, and they have every incentive to make it as high as possible.

[0] http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/20...

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dnautics 2 days ago 0 replies      
isn't there a bit of a broken-windows fallacy here? How many founders can't afford to leave their normal 9-5 / and do a startup because their premiums have gotten more expensive and they can't build up a runway?
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samfisher83 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why we don't have Universal Healthcare? Every other first world country has it. They also spend a lot less money than us. We should borrow what works best from around the world.
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senthilnayagam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sam Altman should get a list of all YC startup employees insurance data made public, maybe with a a small questionnaire form with objective questions.

That way analysis becomes easier and all perceived sample biases can be alieviated.

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swalsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seemed weird to me that ycombinator wasn't at Trump's Tech meeting (considering they're at the center of silicon valley in a sense). This post makes me wonder if that was not an accident...
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feistypharit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing this. Whatever your view on the ACA, you can probably agree that health is important. It's a tough problem, how we handle it will define the US more than anything else in the future.
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FrancoDiaz 2 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that Obamacare was mandatory meant it had to go. Obamacare was really a fascist's wet dream and why the insurance companies ended up being pretty giddy about it.

Good riddance!

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yarper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain the benefits of a US-style healthcare system vs nationalised tax funded healthcare?

All I see from threads like this is a lot of Americans bickering over their own healthcare, and as an outsider I don't really know how how it works, and why everyone is so invested in how it works now.

What happens if you don't have insurance? To me any system where you make sick people pay more than rich people seems bonkers no? If most people's employers already pay it on their behalf, isn't it a business tax already?

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discodave 1 day ago 0 replies      
Id only people cared about the Affordable Care Act this much, before! The election...
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frandroid 2 days ago 1 reply      
These individual stories are nice. But when are you Americans going to fight to save your healthcare?
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kevinburke 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently working as a consultant and I'd not be able to do it without the ACA.
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daodedickinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
My last four insurance companies have gone under since the ACA. I get fewer worse choice every year. My plan is now 5 times the cost as it was before the ACA. Entrepreneurs are clearly hurt worse than the largest companies who werr hit by ACA later. The subsidies are unsustainable and will end soon.
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Jemaclus 2 days ago 13 replies      
Arguments against ACA:

- It cost me money

- It's not perfect

Arguments in favor of ACA:

- It literally saved my life

Regarding increasing premiums, the complaints tend to be anecdotal. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in 2016, the average monthly net premium increased just $4 -- or 4% -- from 2015 to 2016 among the insured that take advantage of subsidies.[1]

Furthermore, premiums have gone up year-over-year every year almost every year since I've been paying for my own insurance -- and that's well before ACA.

There's an interesting chart on the Kaiser Foundation website, where it shows the average plan prices and percent increase year-over-year broken down by state. It also shows that, after tax credits and with very few exceptions, plan prices have remained stable (0% change) between 2015 and 2016.

I understand and sympathize with the high premium prices, but I have serious reservations about the assertion that the high premiums are due to the ACA and not external factors.

[1] http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/health-insurance-premium...

[2] http://kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/2017-premium-change...

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Walkman 2 days ago 2 replies      
88
dforrestwilson1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't like subsidizing poor lifestyle choices to any degree. I hope whatever comes next takes things like choosing to drink, smoke, and eat too much into account.
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edblarney 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have nothing to say for or against Republicans, Dems, Trump or any other political entity.

BUT

If they start pulling away Healthcare for millions of Americans ... and Americans start dying because of this - well, there will be a revolution of sorts.

It's inhumane for the wealthiest country in the world to take away basic healthcare for it's most vulnerable citizens.

If you are so 'smart' and so 'great' - then figure out a way to introduce efficiencies, pricing intelligence etc. to get people more and better coverage - instead of just smashing some law because it's not perfect and it was written by 'Obama'.

6
Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out eff.org
578 points by doener  2 days ago   286 comments top 21
1
artursapek 2 days ago 6 replies      
> Howeverand this is especially troublingif analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department, the Times wrote. So information that was collected without a warrantor indeed any involvement by a court at allfor foreign intelligence purposes with little to no privacy protections, can be accessed raw and unfiltered by domestic law enforcement agencies to prosecute Americans with no involvement in threats to national security.

Sweet, Thanks Obama.

2
benmcnelly 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is a bad time to be a liberal. Let me explain.

On nearly the eve of handing over the country to Trump, Obama is laying the groundwork for policy that has huge potential to be abused. I am confused, because if anything you would think he would do the opposite, but I refuse to believe it was done to give him a noose to hang himself, but why?

Why is it a bad time to be a liberal? Because there is a good chance you will disagree with a lot of upcoming policy. But with this in place, criticizing your government or standing against tyranny could make you a target, one that is now easier than ever to trudge through an archive of your online life for anything remotely wrong, and prosecute you, retroactively, for it.

3
jessaustin 2 days ago 7 replies      
I guess we should have voted harder? 'Cause voting is the answer to problems with elected governments, right?

Right?

4
jimnotgym 2 days ago 2 replies      
Welcome to our dystopian future

In the UK Teresa May just passed the 'Snoopers Charter'(Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act) which is at least as bad as this. Agencies like the 'Food standards agency', and 'Health and safety executive' now have powers to read your browsing history without a warrant. Somehow this is supposed to stop terrorism?

Now we have the 'Digital Economy bill' which is where the UK's 'Great Firewall' begins under the guise of protecting our children from porn.

Its Orwellian and it is disgusting. What is worst is how the press ignored it and the Corbyn opposition abstained from voting on it! I will never vote for a politician who did not vote against it, and that is a very small number!

5
outlace 2 days ago 4 replies      
As an ordinary citizen, I'm definitely wary and suspicious of government surveillance. I probably prefer a slightly increased risk of terrorism vs an increase in government surveillance powers. But I wonder if I was the president and faced with a constant threat and paranoia of a terrorist attack under my watch if I would compromise my own usual ideals to protect the country. It's definitely a rock and a hard place situation.
6
gumby 2 days ago 0 replies      
> "if analysts stumble across evidence that an American has committed any crime, they will send it to the Justice Department"

This is troubling on many levels, but the one that concerns me the most is game theory.

We want people to pay taxes on criminal activity (because it's economic activity and uses services taxes pay for) without the tax authorities "narcing" on the source. IRS is doing the right think by not leaking Trump's tax info even if people within the IRS think the public have a legitimate right to know.

You are required to look after your kids yet you can drop off a baby you can't look after, no questions asked.

Hospitals have to treat patients no matter if they can pay or not, and no matter if they became ill due to criminal behavior because we don't want people with tuberculosis or Hep C wandering around (not to mention presumption of innocence).

Every time we add a "mandatory reporter" rule we actually endanger ourselves, so we should tread carefully.

7
adam12 2 days ago 4 replies      
I voted for Obama twice. I feel duped.
8
blauditore 2 days ago 5 replies      
But why? I don't think Trump has a more privacy-oriented stance on surveillance, so what motivation does Obama have to still rush this in?
9
HugoDaniel 2 days ago 1 reply      
"We kill people based on metadata"[0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdQiz0Vavmc

10
pjc50 2 days ago 1 reply      
It sounds fourth amendment activists need to learn from second amendment activists and develop a bloc of voters for whom this is a key issue.
11
throw7 2 days ago 0 replies      
He didn't care on the way in, why would he care on the way out? He voted for warrantless wiretapping.
12
throw2016 2 days ago 0 replies      
if it doesn't ensure accountability to the people its not democracy. There is now enough evidence that democracy is not serving the people and is increasingly looking like posturing and tokenism every 4 or 5 years while vested and special interests lobby everyday and capture the regulatory framework to further their interests. It has all the underpinnings of a ruling class.

Inspite of the Snowden revelations nothing has changed, no one is punished and folks like Clapper lie and get promoted. Obama may posture differently but he is the biggest supporter of security services and given his behavior against Syria and Russia an unrepentant warmonger.

Bankers tank the economy and are rewarded with bailouts in a country that worships capitalism and hates unearned benefits. And they get away lightly with attorney generals in one state after another unwilling to prosecute and more keen on fines which do not ensure any kind of proportional accountability.

This is not democracy as we understand it. 4 or 5 years is too long and there must be multiple processes along the way to ensure things are on track. Things like lobbying, revolving doors, political corruption and abuse of power, corporate interests over public interest and critical decisions around fundamental rights and war must be strongly secured with laws and processes that work.

13
enlightenedfool 2 days ago 4 replies      
Question: In the last few years, how many such online petitions have resulted in some positive, effective action?
14
_greim_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
The effect of an attack like 9/11 is primarily nationalistic outrage, and a subsequent power-grab by whichever parties or individuals conduct their politics accordingly. Now ask yourself, which parties and/or individuals in American politics stand to benefit most from being handed a Mount-Everest-sized pile of nationalistic outrage, should another 9/11 level event occur? How much power would they try to grab? What would be the outcome for the US, and the world for that matter? Obama isn't acting on ideals, he's choosing a path in an ugly world.
15
fixxer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, are we surprised?
16
random_upvoter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there anyone left who actually believes that it's Obama who makes these decisions?

I find it amazing that nobody looks at Obama's insipid presidency as the main explanation for Trump's election. When Trump says "Russia? Everybody spies on us!", that resonates with people because they know it is the truth and no other politician says it so openly and so bluntly.

17
didibus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Everybody in this thread should explain why they think what they are saying. I don't really know much about what Obama did or did not, but I'm not saying anyone providing me that information, just a bunch of people taking about their opinions. So I'd really appreciate if people could share their reasons for them.
18
pawadu 2 days ago 2 replies      
So same amount of information gathered but distributed among a larger group?

Can't decide if this is good or bad.

19
beenshadowbnd 2 days ago 2 replies      
My comments are systemically removed from hacker news because they are critical or the government.
20
akerro 2 days ago 1 reply      
21
intralizee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad there isn't a focus on expanding the openness of how many rights are being violated by surveillance.

I can understand why Obama is so pro surveillance.When you belong to the minority spectrum that has already made it past the point where surveillance will only help.

I just wonder what minority is going to face more of a struggle to get to the point where Obama's minority now is in history.

7
SpaceX returns to flight with Falcon 9 rocket launch bbc.co.uk
581 points by thomseddon  1 day ago   174 comments top 19
1
fillskills 1 day ago 4 replies      
"A few minutes later, the first stage of the rocket landed successfully on a platform in the Pacific Ocean." - They have made this so normal. Its not even news title worthy now. Exciting times we live in!!
2
generj 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't know what they did on the camera and transmission side, but having the sub-orbital view on the 1st stage all the way down to the barge was super impressive.
3
jonah 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here's a photo I took of the ascent from about 50 miles east.

http://imgur.com/a/RlJUR

(Nikon D7000, 300mm, handheld. Cropped and adjusted for contrast.)

4
tankenmate 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those wondering, they successfully deployed all 10 satellites, after the second SECO, into their correct orbit.
5
grkvlt 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, with these new Iridium satellites, the 'Iridium Flare' phenomenon of a bright flash visible in the sky when the old satellites passed through sunlight and reflected it downwards when overhead, will no longer occur. I liked the quote from the Iridium CEO explaining why it won't happen: "[...] we weren't going to spend money just to make angular shiny things on our satellites [...]"
6
harshaw 1 day ago 2 replies      
The video says a one engine burn on the return of the first stage. The descent seemed a bit slower than the last landing and thus less of a dramatic suicide burn.

This time the descent video seemed more "real". On the last barge landing it was so quick that it seemed magical.

7
ufmace 1 day ago 2 replies      
Good for them! I'm impressed with how quickly they were able to conclude their accident investigation and get approved for return to flight. Brings to mind all of the multi-year Shuttle accident investigations.
8
thenewwazoo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Watching the broadcast, it appeared that they launched _westward_ off the coast of California. That seems very weird to me, since my understanding is that you can use the not-insignificant rotation of the earth as "free energy" to achieve orbital speed.

Did they launch westward? Why?

9
sctb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Recent discussion on the webcast: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13399119
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smoyer 1 day ago 1 reply      
It would have been cool to see an animation of how these seven satellites move in their orbits (as well as the final completed constellation).
11
general_ai 1 day ago 1 reply      
And the beauty of this is, launching these Iridium satellites is just a beta test for what they're going to do next: launch _four thousand_ of their own satellites which will blanket the planet with gigabit broadband.
12
joeblau 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was freaking amazing. These are the types of technology launches that truly get me excited.
13
srigi 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be really cool if there will be a recording of "arriving to Antarctica" from stage2 https://youtu.be/7WimRhydggo?t=3012
14
nixarn 1 day ago 0 replies      
And what a beutiful launch & landing it was! I gotta admin, I was a bit nervous after their last explosion. Great everything went smoothly!
15
sidcool 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Their turn around time is super fast. I can't imagine this happening even with NASA. Here's a lot of good luck to SpaceX in 2017.
16
monk_e_boy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Any videos of the landing?
17
Shivetya 1 day ago 9 replies      
Why does Space X land on barges while blue origin land, well on land. Also does anyone have a pictures of iterations of Space X's landing methods and strut setup?
18
hsavit1 1 day ago 1 reply      
We're all going to Mars, yay!

Wait. actually...

19
nrjdhsbsid 1 day ago 8 replies      
Does anyone else feel like the COPV problem was not truly solved? This is the second mission loss caused by the same exploding COPV's.

They need to be redesigned and SpaceX is twiddling around the issue to avoid the r&d cost. If I was NASA I would be very hesitant to use their rockets for people at this point

8
Georgia Tech Offers Online Master of Science in Analytics Degree for Under $10K gatech.edu
531 points by dgritsko  3 days ago   257 comments top 28
1
throwawayGT 3 days ago 24 replies      
As someone who completed a (on-campus) CS masters at GT, I really wish I didn't. The classes were of very poor quality - it was clear that they were a low priority for most faculty. Andrew Ng's Coursera class on Machine Learning was the pedagogical highlight of my time at GT, and I did it on my own initiative (and it's free).

I know people have many reasons to get a Masters. If your goal is to take some higher-level classes, you can do better than GT. If you are self-motivated enough to do an online degree, you can do it for free. Aside from free offerings from sites like Coursera, you can find whole courses up from many institutions - with syllabi, lecture slides, homework assignments, etc.

If you're planning to do it for the salary, in my experience the degree ended up being worth a $95K to $115K bump in starting salary. Compare this with the 2 years of industry salary that I would have received, and the 2 years of experience (and raises that come with that). I know I wasn't paid better than the folks who had been with the company for 2 years more than me.

If you're thinking about it for the sake of your resume, I do hiring screening / interviews now (for Data Science and Software Engineering positions) - and I really don't care if the applicant has an MS or not (or what classes they may have taken). Most folks I know that do hiring think similarly. My main signal from your resume is projects you've been on and how you contributed.

From my point of view, this program is a losing proposition for any potential student.

2
tabeth 3 days ago 8 replies      
This is great news. However, anyone who's used Piazza (the main "classroom" tool for OMSCS) knows that it's hardly ideal. I think a better collaboration/discussion tool is imperative to making the experience better for the "average" student.

Sure the top students in the program are going to do well, by definition, but there are plenty of more "middling" people like myself that can only be brought up to the next level with proper discussion/interaction with classmates. From my experience even PHPbb would be a more effective tool than Piazza.

---

Suggestions (if Piazza folks are reading):

1. Allow one to delete follow-ups.

2. Allow students to create private "study group"-like threads that aren't in the main feed.

3. Make it easier to upload pictures and other content.

4. Make things live. Normally this wouldn't be necessary, but anyone in the program knows many students post the same thing at the same time as a response to an event (like an email). By doing this you prevent redundant threads from being created.

5. Use some sort of up/down voting system that way the community can self-regulate.

There are plenty more things I'd improve, but for the sake of brevity those are some I just came up with on the spot.

3
almostkorean 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm currently in the Master of Science in Analytics program at gatech, so if anyone has any questions feel free to ask.

My experience so far has been excellent. I just started my second semester, and I can say that the curriculum covers exactly what I wanted to learn with the exception of one class. The program is extremely practical, it's only one year and is focused on getting the students jobs. The professors are great, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to get into the field.

4
piker 3 days ago 10 replies      
Can anyone speak to the value of the general online CS Masters degree offered by Georgia Tech? I'd been considering it, as it allows you to keep working while you improve your resume. I'm curious if employers (1) can tell it was completed online and (2) distinguish between individuals getting the residential MA versus the online MA. Thanks in advance.
5
nether 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just wonder what the job prospects will be like for this. This is basically data science, a field being crowded rapidly by PhD's fleeing academia. With 3-month data science bootcamps, people are now saying expect 3-6 months to find employment, often as an entry-level data analyst. I expect the outcomes of the GT OMSA to be much better given the breadth and rigor of coursework, but who knows by how much? Also, while $10k tuition is low, the cost of lost income from pursuing this fulltime for 12 months makes it cost more than the 3-month bootcamps whose tuition usually runs $15k. If most OMSA grads find jobs right out of the program, versus 3-6 months of job hunting for bootcamp grads, the OMSA becomes a much better deal.

Edit: There is placement data for the on-campus program: http://www.analytics.gatech.edu/placement. 95% within 3 months of graduation, cohort size 21 students, with the majority (40%) taking an "analyst" title, average salary $100,000 (61% going to Atlanta, so this could be a little depressed compared to west coast tech salaries).

6
jackcosgrove 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm waiting for the online, low-cost undergraduate degree of comparable quality to the "real thing". Maybe it's already here. I recently checked up on tuition at my alma mater and almost barfed. With a kid on the way Mr. Market has 18 years to figure this out for me.
7
phreenet 3 days ago 1 reply      
For comparison: Master of Computer Science - Data Science (Univ: Illinois, Coursera).

https://www.coursera.org/university-programs/masters-in-comp...

8
intheclouddan 3 days ago 5 replies      
Is there anything similar to the Online Masters but a Bachelor's degree? Most of the online universities like WGU seem like a get a bunch of certificates then you graduate.
9
merkleee 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am skeptical that this program will be a good signal for hiring analysts. In my experience, there are two things you need to select for:

(1) Understanding statistics. Hopefully this program will take care of this requirement, but it's not hard to find these people anyway. There is an infinite supply of science PhDs fleeing the academic job market.

(2) Behavioural/personality. People who will do well at the actual job. Example: can you tell when a PM is asking you to answer the wrong question, and how do you handle it?

You can easily find (1) with screening questions, (2) is the hard part.

But, I guess if you think you have (2) as a future analyst, this program could be a good way of getting (1).

10
ThomPete 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sorry for getting off-topic but:

Is there any business in creating a better "classroom" experience that what ex. Piazza is doing?

It seems like an are which could be improved immensely design/ux wise but it also seems like it could be an area where that's not really going to make you successful because the distribution is already owned by someone else.

11
reztip 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm currently enrolled in the OMSCS program, and so far I would call it so-so.

I joined the program because I come from a non-CS background - undergrad in math, work in an unrelated field: consulting. I'm trying to pivot into a ML Engineer career. If you want to learn ML, you're better off going through the Ng Coursera course and from there pursuing some personal projects. The primary value of the program is the ability to get past recruiting coordinators simply due to the fact I'm enrolled in CS program.

The two undergrad CS courses I took at Berkeley were more rigorous, and were superior from a skills development perspective. But at the price, the OMSCS program is definitely worth it for someone coming from a different background.

12
kafkaesq 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd definitely be wary of devoting 1+ year of my life full-time to "save" money on a program that costs "justs" $10K/year -- without looking at alternatives that might cost a bit more, but provide a much richer experience. (Yes, I have great deal of categorical skepticism about full-scale online degrees -- as opposed to occasional online courses -- in general).

Because even if you're unemployed, your most valuable resource is your time.

13
rajeshp1986 3 days ago 3 replies      
I feel $10,000 for an online course is way too much. Just because it carries a label of university doesn't make it worth it. Almost all of the knowledge is available online for free. Although a university course gives a structure around a subject and provides learning resources & materials but universities have to realize that because of this many people will not take these MOOCs. Because education is a business, future generations will turn out to be illiterate.
14
jocro 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have experience with this program without an academic CS background?

As someone with a BS in Materials Science & Engineering (at best a tangentially related field via sparse EE coursework) who does some level of programming at a tech job now, I'm curious what my prospects for admission would be. I'm confident I could handle the coursework, provided I could get my foot in the door.

As a related question, they mention taking courses to fill holes - are they receptive to Coursera offerings?

15
prodtorok 3 days ago 5 replies      
Anyone have experience with FT online college courses? Would it be possible to both work FT and complete the courses? Or would it best to work PT for a year?
16
alnitak 3 days ago 0 replies      
The fact that the Masters in CS and presumably this degree both require having a traditional bachelor degree as a prerequisite seriously limits their usefulness and their reach.

Are there any similar tracks that do not have this requirement?

17
iblaine 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not yet convinced that online learning is an equivalent replacement for a university degree. Exceptions do exist. For the most part, people graduate from these online universities without the skills needed for the jobs they want.
18
simplegeek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are both CS and Analytics degrees (from Georgia Tech) available to people outside U.S?
19
oneplane 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not entirely sure how this is such big news. It costs the same as doing it on-campus here, including all hardware and books etc. you might need over a ~4-5 year span.
20
danalloway 3 days ago 0 replies      
the price and convenience are hard to ignore, yes there are some unideal aspects of the program (like the software and collaboration/discussion tech) but all-in-all what a great opportunity.
21
bk_geek 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is taking the GRE a requirement for admissions? The program looks very interesting but I can't bear to take the GRE after nearly 20 years of work ex.
22
ComputerGuru 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can anyone recommend a great and respectable ML online masters (assume cost not an issue)?
23
toisanji 3 days ago 5 replies      
How is this different from the Udacity Georgia Tech Masters program?
24
dil8 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know of an online mathematics masters degree?
25
syngrog66 2 days ago 0 replies      
or... you just read, observe, learn, build, think, communicate, publish, for free, at your own pace, 24x7, etc.
26
graycat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Following the links on the program at the Georgia TechWeb site, the program looks likea fairly wide buffet frompractical computing, currentbusiness applications,statistics, and operations research.

Georgia Tech is especially strongin operations research.

So, here data science is a new bottle of wineblended from some now quite well known old bottlesof wine. And it is not nearly thefirst such blending sincethere have also been programs such as mathematical sciences and applied mathematics. Otherblendings have includedmathematical finance, financialengineering, and bio-statistics.

Apparently the high current interestis because now the associated computingis much cheaper, more powerful,and easier to use. And there hasbeen a lot of hype from somesources.

However, I question if US mainlinebusiness ismuch interested: IMHO and myexperience says that nearly anyspecialized technical materialfaces a serious obstacle sincein the organization chart the highestranking technical person (if not theCEO then necessarily a subordinate) has to report to a supervisor who knows from much less tonearly nothing about what thattechnical subordinate person is doing.

MD doctors, CPA accountants,licensed engineers, and licensed lawyers have somecrucial, serious professional status,processes, support, etc.that is missing with appliedmathematicians, statisticians,data scientists, etc.

For software developers, roughly,the solution is for the organizationto have a CIO, all the developersare in the CIO's organization soreport only to experienceddevelopers, and only theCIO reports to, interfaces with,non-experts in computing.

Computing is now so darned importantthat the rest of the C-suitehas to swallow their pride andaccept the CIO at the table.

Net, I fear that data scientistswill have too little professionalor organizational protectionfrom rain falling down theorganization chart from the C-suite.

Or, for the supervisor, most projects will be lose-lose:If the project fails, then thesupervisor has a black markfrom wasting money on a failedproject. So, with afailed project, the supervisor loses.

If the project is successful,then the supervisor and, maybe, everyonein the C-suite, maybe even includingthe CEO, can be afraid of theproject leader now regardedas a 900 pound tiger and, thus,a loss for the C-suite.

Here the organization chartfrom the project leader up to theCEO is engaging in classicgoal subordination, that is,pursuing what is best for themselvespersonally whilesacrificing what is good for thecompany.

And for startups, what fraction ofventure partners would be able toevaluate a proposal that makesheavy use of some of the moreadvanced applied math in thatGeorgia Tech program? Net, theventure partners don't know thetechnical material, either.

Or, as I suggested, nearly all winein the blend is now quite old,and it didn't achieve muchtraction in mainline business.

My short summary view is that forsuch technical material, especiallymaterial more advanced than in theGeorgia Tech program, and for astartup, the founder CEO needs tobe both (A) the main expert in the technical materialand (B) essentially a solo founderwho can write the software, bring itto market, and get the coveted traction significantly high andgrowing rapidly -- at which timethe founder may not be willing to acceptequity funding and report to aBoD that does not understand the work,that is, be back in the situation ofa technical subordinate reportingto a supervisor who does not understandthe technical work and, with the lowexpenses of a one person company,just grow organically from revenue.

Or, IMHO, the most promising careerfuture of an applied mathematician, etc., in business is to be a solo founderof a startup.

27
mrmrcoleman 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is not news in the U.K.
28
basseq 3 days ago 3 replies      
EDIT: The awarded degree is the same (M.S. Analytics) as the "residential" program. The below assertions are false, but I have left the original comment intact for posterity.

-----

I laud continuing, online, and affordable education options, but this degree is still very much a second-class citizen. It is not the same degree that's awarded to "residential" students (that would be M.S. Analytics).

It's unclear whether the granting institution is Georgia Tech itself, one of the "collaborating" colleges (i.e., Scheller College of Business, the College of Computing, or the College of Engineering), Georgia Tech Professional Education, or even EdX.

All this affects the "value" of the credential.

9
The Risk of Discovery paulgraham.com
531 points by tyn  3 days ago   312 comments top 50
1
lmkg 3 days ago 9 replies      
I'm not sure that those lines of study were actually considered separate at the time. A century earlier than Newton's time, math and geometry were considered subfields of astronomy; and astronomy was considered the observation of the realm of the divine. Not only was there not a divide between physics and theology, people actually thought that math was a tool for studying theology (one of Copernicus' sources of income was computing astrology charts for royalty).

I say this to reinforce Paul's statement, "But that's because we know how things turned out." "How things turned out" includes reclassification of what he was working out as belonging to different fields. I suspect that at the time, he didn't consider himself to be moving from one field to another but rather to trying to build upon his previous work.

2
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 3 replies      
I love this insight. I have often experienced in my life seeing someone come up with something really useful in the midst of spouting complete rubbish. Oddly it is about 50/50 internal and external, where half the time they stop in the middle of what they are saying and realize they have a really good idea, and half the time someone else stops them and says "hey, that could really work." or something like that. The common theme can best be described as "fearless thinking" or perhaps unconstrained thinking.

I suspect that the personality trait most closely associated with creativity like this is a lack of fear of embarrassment. When someone tells me something I have suggested is wrong I respond by asking questions to understand how they understand the topic so that I can learn from them. When you tell someone who has vested their self image in being right that they are wrong they take it personally and respond dismissively. They fight to have their point of view validated rather than understand a counter point of view. But this makes them unwilling to share partially understood topics because it could expose them to being 'wrong' in public.

Other times people self censor their own thinking. I get so frustrated when someone says "Well I thought that might be a solution to the problem but assumed it would be too expensive." That is an example of someone who had a creative idea, self censored it, and it had to come out through someone else in order to reach the collective consciousness of the group. I try really hard to have people not self censor but it is so ingrained sometimes.

And all of that then feeds back into the genius/hero narrative where the narrative of a person includes only their noteworthy accomplishments and so the perception is that people like that only do noteworthy things, and then they are impossible to live up to.

Dare to ask stupid questions, it could make you the smartest person in the room.

3
nocman 3 days ago 8 replies      
"Physics seems to us a promising thing to work on, and alchemy and theology obvious wastes of time."

I'm not sure which "us" pg is referring to, but the essay gives me the impression that he meant something like "most people" (I could be reading him wrong, but that was my impression). Alchemy is obviously a waste of time -- I won't dispute that, and I suspect that "most people" would agree with that assertion.

Being that pg is an atheist, I would expect him to personally believe that the study of theology is a waste of time. However, even just taking Christian theology into account, given that over 100 million Bibles are sold or given away in the world every year (https://www.reference.com/world-view/many-copies-bible-sold-...), and the Bible continues to be "the most widely distributed and best-selling book in the world.", the "us" for which it is true that the study of theology is "crazy" or a "waste of time" seems to me to be much smaller group of people than the essay seems to imply.

Again, this is just the impression I got from reading the essay. I would be happy to have pg respond and let me know if my impression was incorrect.

(edited to remove unintentional indenting)

4
gdudeman 3 days ago 0 replies      
An addendum to this: Many of the greatest unconventional thinkers of our time are similar to Newton in that they are right about one non-consensus thing and wrong about lots of others.

Some of those people become fantastically rich as a result of the one right thing.

Just because someone is wildly successful and right about one non-consensus bet, doesn't mean they aren't wrong about most of their other beliefs.

The occasional out-of-the-mainstream idea is a revolution, but the vast majority are just nutty and wrong.

5
richardfeynman 3 days ago 2 replies      
When people say that Newton studied alchemy, what they actually mean was that he studied chemistry. He was studying what happens when you do different things to different elements. Sure he used the language of the time, but he was fundamentally doing chemistry. And the dream of the alchemists -- to turn base materials into gold -- was ultimately more or less realized when Henri Moissan created the first artificial diamond. Alchemy has a bad rep, mostly because it was shrouded in mystery and obfuscation, but at its core it was science, the pursuit of knowledge through experimentation.
6
gizmo 3 days ago 6 replies      
For people who wonder why YC and pg are okay with some of Peter Thiel's more extreme behavior, this is why.

It's pretty interesting that pg describes the possible outcomes of contrarian ideas as either positive for society or merely a waste of time. Even though the pursuit of risky and contrarian ideas can also be hugely harmful for society.

7
Flenser 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cory Doctorow made a similar connection between science and alchemy a while ago:

"FLOSS .. is better for the same reason that science is better than alchemy. Back before we had science we had alchemy, a lot like science except alchemists never told anyone else what they thought they'd learned and so they were prey to the most common human frailty which is self deception, which is how how alchemists discovered in the hardest way possible that you shouldn't drink mercury, and when alchemists started telling each other what they thought they'd learned, and subjecting themselves to adversarial peer review, and they started publishing their source they turned something base into something noble, they turned superstition into science and created the enlightenment, and FLOSS is everywhere because it continues the enlightenment tradition."

Source: [1:40 to 2:20] http://conferences.oreilly.com/oscon/oscon-tx/public/content...

8
matt4077 3 days ago 6 replies      
It's either ignorant or insulting to name theology in the same breath as alchemy. Theology is still an academic discipline and it doesn't even require a believe in the supernatural. Unless this is pg's attempt to insert himself into fight about "theology" vs. "religious studies".
9
gdubs 3 days ago 1 reply      

 "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed."
- Michael Jordan

10
js8 3 days ago 6 replies      
I find it funny that capitalism requires what is essentially an irrational behavior. It seems to me that big public corporations, which avoid risk, and only buy startups once they have been established, are the rational actors. On the other hands, three guys in the garage doing a startup often do it not because they calculate expected profits, but because they want to do it for other than monetary reasons - typically to show that things can be improved and done differently. And so they are willing to take huge, irrational risks.
11
curun1r 3 days ago 0 replies      
There are plenty of discoverers who incurred some level of risk and lost in a way that isn't covered up by history. Marie Curie's discovery killed her. Tesla's genius manifested not only in groundbreaking discovery, but also mental illness and isolation. And just ask Elisha Gray about the risks of discovery.

But, yes, history has a survivorship bias. But that's literally one of the oldest observations made. It's often said, "History is written by the victors." What PG is saying is just another version of that age-old observation.

12
malanj 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish pg would start writing longer form essays again. His startup essays had a huge impact on my approach to building startups. They were hugely insightful and inspirational for me.

This essay has a great core insight, and I get you don't need more words to say it, but I still miss the longer ones

13
seiferteric 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wait, I thought alchemy and theology were pretty mainstream back then? How was it risky? Just because they turned out to be wrong, I don't think it was crazy for someone to be studying these things back then. Seems like a modern example would be someone studying something like string theory or dark matter and later we discover these things are wrong... but there is no reason to think that today.
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kowdermeister 3 days ago 5 replies      
> Newton made three bets. One of them worked. But they were all risky.

Except it was three:

- Optics

- Gravitation and mechanics

- Mathematics

There are many scientists out there who spend a lifetime on theories that turn out to be bogus, but calling it a bet is entirely missing the point.

15
swalsh 3 days ago 2 replies      
I urge anyone to play a bit of 'why' with a young child, mixed with the Socrates method. If you can get them to try and answer beyond "I don't know"... you'll be taken to some crazy mental places no adult can take you.
16
kukx 3 days ago 3 replies      
I don't think that studing chemistry (I like to think about alchemy as a precursor of chemistry) or theology should be stigmatized. I understand that it was just an example to support the core idea of the article, but it still leaves a bad taste.
17
throw2016 3 days ago 0 replies      
The most valuable thing we have is time. Unless you are born rich or wealthy time is sustenance and living money. The tradeoffs and risks involved for those born rich and those who have to work for a living are world's apart.

In the era Newton came from you would have to be wealthy to be able to afford other interests beyond surviving. So a lot of the big leaps were made by those from rich families or those lucky enough to have some sort of wealthy backer.

Plus certain things like education, family, kids are attached to specific timelines in a typical life. Health and the ability to do things are also attached to timelines. When you take a risk you could be putting all of those on line.

The ability to expend time with no certainty of returns is a luxury only those from a wealthy background have. And naturally they will be more successfuly as there are more efforts from people of those backgrounds.

18
rguzman 3 days ago 1 reply      
also, i have the impression that alchemy's bad reputation is a bit undeserved. IIRC some alchemists believed matter was made of fundamental components and followed the scientific method well. so, that bet may be less risky than we perceive it now. this only makes pg's point stronger: it'd be the most interesting for a biography of Newton to talk about alchemy.
19
sahrizv 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the core insight that we sometimes ignore the risk taking of high achievers while looking at their life in hindsight. However, I would not say with certainty that Newton was pursuing these fields with the mindset of betting on them. He could have been certain about the validity, value and fruitfulness of intellectual pursuits in those fields.

Interestingly, this is the second time in the past 24 hours I've encountered the idea of comparing a VC (Marc's reference) with another class of high achievers. (previous one, a comparison with entrepreneurs: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13371813)

20
nehushtan 3 days ago 0 replies      
But... isn't it true that at Newton's theology was at the foundation of his physics? The idea of a single deity whose intelligence crafted a rational world, the laws of which it is man's duty to uncover, is certainly not incidental to his discoveries.
21
huckabeen2017 3 days ago 2 replies      
The other anecdote concerning Sir Isaac Newton that seems most apt, and it was particularly well dramatized in Neil DeGrasse Tyson's updated Cosmos series, arose when the Royal Society delayed publishing his Principia due to the spectacular failure of their Encyclopedia of Fish the year before! I am not sure which amazes me more: that "natural philosophy" encompasses everything in the cosmos from optics to marine life. Or contemporaneous short-sightedness can imbue one subject with the most paramount economic and social import, whilst viewing the other as nothing more than a mere parlor trick. Only to have the perspective of history upend such dogma centuries later!
22
xolb 3 days ago 0 replies      
What PG calls "bets" I would call interesting topics for Newton. Maybe he just liked the subjects. Calling bets is saying he was trying to actually accomplish something out of their studies and work. I don't think a curious mind would work like that. Even in physics, he studied a broad range of topics, not only Mechanics.

Furthermore, you don't need to make a breakthrough in everything to satisfy your desire for knowledge. Even more so for Newton, which was known by his seclusion and introversion.

23
adamzerner 3 days ago 1 reply      
The core idea of this article is that high reward is usually accompanied by high risk. To exemplify this, pg gave a great example of Newton pursuing physics, alchemy and theology.

However, this was just one example. I think the article could be greatly improved by giving, like, 50 examples (in an abbreviated form, like "Newton: physics, alchemy, theology"). With one example it's sorta easy to think, "eh that might just be an exception". With 50 example, it's easy to think, "wow, look at all of that; the core idea definitely does seem to be true".

24
brown 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success." - Bruce Feirstein
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steejk 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is similar to what Ben Thompson just wrote about [1]. It's easy to forget the bets, such as Apple TV, that weren't so successful.

[1] https://stratechery.com/2017/the-ten-year-anniversary-of-the...

26
gist 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Newton made three bets. One of them worked. But they were all risky.

Risky? What is the definition of risk? What was the downside to Newton making these 'bets'? What was the risk of Andressen deciding in college to think that what he did was the right way to go? And importantly (and my point) wouldn't the exact same action by a tenured professor be more of a risk?

Let's take the risk that Donald Trump took vs. Hillary Clinton. Trump is hated by many now and would be regardless of whether he won or lost the election (in many ways decimated his brand). The same is not true for Hillary even though she did take a reputation hit it's nowhere near what Trump (with his rhetoric) took. So same thing "run for President" different people different levels of risk.

27
jorangreef 2 days ago 2 replies      
pg's "theology" is a strawman.

Theology is nothing but a study of the implications of the historical events concerning Jesus of Nazareth, those events themselves being subject to the historical method.

Either I am missing something, or pg is essentially implying some or all of the following:

1. The person of Jesus Christ did not exist in history.

2. There is insufficient information concerning him.

3. Studying the historical person of Jesus Christ according to the historical method is akin to, or of similar value to, the study of alchemy, i.e. a waste of time.

I seriously doubt whether any historian interested in ancient history would make such claims.

It's pretty ignorant and reckless coming from pg.

28
all_usernames 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find this essay pretty confusing. It seems to contradict itself at some basic level.

"Maybe the smartness and the craziness were not as separate as we think."

This seems kind of obvious to me. Yes, creative and driven people are interested in lots of strange things. Yes, genius often means the ability to take ideas or discoveries from apparently widely different areas and tie them together to form new understandings.

"Newton made three bets. One of them worked."

This makes no sense. Of course his physics was a success. But how could anyone judge the theological pursuits of an individual to be a success or a failure?

And if the pursuit was a failure, then doesn't that negate the earlier implication that his studying theology ("crazy") was in some ways associated with his success in physics ("genius")?

29
api 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been saying this for years: science is far too conservative, dogmatic, and risk-averse.

The reality is that genius minds are intellectually fearless. Newton was into alchemy and fringe theology. Edison tried to build a machine to contact the dead. Many of the great minds of the 60s who at least envisioned everything you're using now were into all kinds of "crazy" stuff: parapsychology, psychedelic consciousness expansion, shamanism, etc.

Was some of that stuff silly? Sure. Was some or even most of it a dead end? Sure. But that's not the point. The point is that great minds fear no idea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSolPNn0G7M

30
mmwako 3 days ago 2 replies      
Loved the insight, but I don't agree with the conclusions. Maybe Newton was just genius all along, and we have yet to discover the "hugeness" of alchemy and theology.
31
emmelaich 3 days ago 1 reply      
I honestly think that Newton was well aware of the unlikelihood of making breakthroughs in theology and alchemy[1].

In physics he had a lower[2] benefit but much higher probability of progress.

 1. Plus he went a little mad from chemical fumes. 2. Really. Imagine[3] making a real breakthrough in alchemy or theology! 3. I can't imagine it and you almost certainly can't either.

32
ggame 3 days ago 0 replies      
Newtons dabbling in Alchemy made him very sick, so there was definitely a risk there. He also invested and lost his life savings in a speculative stock bubble. The bet that really paid off financially was his occult connections that got him a job as warden of the royal mint where his currency manipulation lead to an increase in demand for coins and made him a huge personal fortune. At least that's what I heard. Happy to be corrected.
33
trefn 2 days ago 0 replies      
Neal Stephenson's "Baroque Cycle" goes into great detail about Isaac Newton's life, and his focus on alchemy and theology. It is of course fiction, but well researched and utterly fascinating. I recommend it!
34
vacri 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is mostly confirmation bias. It's quite common to be 'kind of crazy', and it happens at all levels of intellect, from your working-class 'nutter' to your high-born 'eccentric'. There's nothing special about being smart when it comes to being 'kind of crazy'.
35
graeham 3 days ago 0 replies      
So what's the take-away? Make many high risk bets in hoping one will pay off?

Newton is an exception as well. While his biographers down-play his failures, he is also credited (at least in High School Physics) with things that were the work of dozens or even hundreds of scientists - or giants you might say.

36
nerfhammer 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those interested in Newton's theology and alchemy work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton's_occult_studies
37
crb002 3 days ago 0 replies      
Newton had an epic insight into combinatorics. The calculus work he did during the university quarantine shutdown is great to page through. I wonder how much farther Newton, Gauss, Euler, and Erdos would have gotten if they knew how to code.
38
blazespin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe alchemy and theology was just how he blew off steam. It seems like me did them a lot, but you know, we all like to have our hobbies.

Trying to describe the mindset of newton 100s of years after his death seems a bit reaching.

39
cayblood 2 days ago 0 replies      
Graham's casual dismissal of 'useless' theology demonstrates a complete lack of awareness of the demise of the secularization hypothesis.
40
acalderaro 3 days ago 0 replies      
On his essay tab, PG's "Risk of Discovery" is loading at the bottom, instead of the top near the more recent ones - is this happening for anyone else?
41
dxhdr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bet Newton pursued what he was interested in, rather than thinking "well, I better hedge my bets!"
42
scandox 3 days ago 0 replies      
We do not in fact know how Theology turned out. But we will know or rather we won't when we do.
43
lisper 3 days ago 6 replies      
What exactly was Newton risking? An entrepreneur who quits her job and takes out a mortgage to start a business is risking her livelihood. If she fails, she and her family could end up on the street. Newton came from a wealthy family. If he failed in his intellectual endeavors the "risk" for him was to live out his life as an ordinary rich person and only ending up in the more obscure history books.

I think Fredrick Smith (founder of Fedex) is a much better example of someone taking an entrepreneurial and intellectual risk.

http://about.van.fedex.com/our-story/history-timeline/histor...

44
mempko 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious, was the risk material for Newton, or just virtual, like "risk of failure" which would just be an embarrassment.
45
z3t4 3 days ago 0 replies      
if they failed they still had their lands and titles.
46
cfmcdonald 3 days ago 7 replies      
Sorry, Newton didn't "make bets", he was not a Silicon Valley VC. He worked on problems that he found interesting and that he believed would reveal eternal truths established and maintained by God.
47
Rickasaurus 3 days ago 1 reply      
PG's articles sure have gone down hill :(
48
sidlls 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's amusing that he uses a modern chauvinism ("making a bet") in this way, while noting that some of Newton's "bets" were only "wasteful" (risky, bad, whatever) when viewed through the lense of modern knowledge.

He has a good point, put poorly, and without good support in his chosen example.

49
aaron-lebo 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not seeing what the risk was. He was taking a chance that he was wrong, yes, but that was just science. Risk suggests a danger. But what was it?
50
almonj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Calling his study of theology and alchemy "crazy" seems a bit short sighted. Newtons intense devotion to understanding the scriptures was likely what allowed him to make so much progress in science. Since God saw what a devoted student he was, chose to reward him in that manner of scientific enlightenment. The study of scripture was primary, his science, secondary.
10
GCC is C++17 Complete gnu.org
455 points by gpderetta  3 days ago   113 comments top 13
1
webaholic 3 days ago 3 replies      
Congratulations! Clang is almost there too (http://clang.llvm.org/cxx_status.html).

I love seeing free compilers get advanced features years ahead of proprietary compilers like MSVC and Intel Studio.

2
ramzyo 3 days ago 1 reply      
What does "complete" here mean if the standard itself isn't yet complete? Or are complete and finalized not necessarily the same?

"Because the final ISO C++1z standard is still evolving, GCC's support is experimental. No attempt will be made to maintain backward compatibility with implementations of C++1z features that do not reflect the final standard"

3
radialbrain 3 days ago 3 replies      
As cool as this, libstdc++ is still missing a few things, including parallel algorithms (which I'm most excited about!).

https://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/libstdc++/manual/status.html#...

4
chamakits 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not familiar with C++ at all, but I'm always amazed at how quick gcc is to get updated to implement what I imagine are complicated feature updates to the language.

Do they have a lot of very active contributors that communicate to efficiently split the work, or do they have a small but very dedicated group of people who spend the bulk of their time on implementing these features?

Regardless, kudos.

5
shanemhansen 3 days ago 4 replies      
Am I reading this right? They are implementing transactional memory support in C++?

https://gcc.gnu.org/projects/cxx-status.html#tses

http://www.open-std.org/Jtc1/sc22/wg21/docs/papers/2015/n451...

6
gpderetta 3 days ago 0 replies      
... or at the very least those parts of c++17 that already made it into the draft standard. The final version will only be published sometime this year but feature-wise there shouldn't be any major surprise.
7
shangaslammi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a good, terse primer on the features and coding idioms/best practices of C++17 for someone who was proficient in C++98 but hasn't touched the language in years?
8
lacampbell 3 days ago 3 replies      
What are the big new features of C++17? C++11 seemed like the last big change - I think the only reason I bother using "-std=c++14" is for "make_unique".
9
CptMauli 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can somebody shed some light on it, why embedded companies (speak Microchip etc) have not switched to clang/llvm? It must cost them quite a bit to maintain their own compiler stack and it is not very good.

Fun example: a customer of mine initialized a variable within a loop and that resulting program just didn't work as expected (which it did with the same code on my desktop with gcc). As soon as he moved the variable out of the loop the program worked as expected.

10
stargrazer 3 days ago 1 reply      
does that include the 'export' word for templates, which was supposed to be available many c++ versions ago (don't think it ever got implemented in msvc).
11
gradstudent 2 days ago 3 replies      
Getting a bit tired of these constant updates to the language. I still haven't properly absorbed C++11!
12
devmunchies 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why do most C/C++ projects never use CSS in docs?

(I acknowledge that many high level projects use too much CSS)

13
nom 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! And just in time, too :D
11
Flickr A Year Without a Byte flickr.net
518 points by el_duderino  3 days ago   147 comments top 27
1
ideonexus 2 days ago 0 replies      
One area that may be impacted by this strategy is bulk-downloading your photos. My wife set her phone to automatically backup all her photos to flickr. Thinking she could get them back at anytime, she started deleting them off her phone. After three months, I discovered she was doing this and begged her to also backup her files to an external hard drive.

Every year we sync all our family photos to have redundant backups. When she went to get the three months of backups from flickr she got "download error" after error. She sent me this link and hypothesized that the bulk-download feature is no longer working because of the need to now first decompress the files before transmitting them.

Luckily, she was able to get the 25 gigs of family photos down using a third-party application, but it's another reminder to never wholly trust the "cloud."

2
Nition 3 days ago 3 replies      
Really interesting that (if I'm reading the article right) you can take an already-compresed JPEG, recompress it losslessly using another technique to get better compression than the original compressed JPEG, and then decompress it to the original JPEG again.

The concept makes sense but I'd never thought of that before.

3
keeganjw 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, this is really impressive! A whole year without any new storage for such a large enterprise is downright miraculous.
4
natch 3 days ago 1 reply      
Another way to reach this goal is to make sure features of the service remain unfriendly to users. Case in point, when providing a search interface, only return as many results as you want to, not as many as you have. And don't bother coalescing spammy results all from the same account into one expandable item; instead let them flood the results because they used keyword tag spam, and then cut off the search results after a few pages.

Make it hard to navigate by hiding everything behind hashes, to prevent fair use downloads. Keep tags in beta for 15+ years.

Of course, when usage goes down, that helps with the problem quite a bit. A poor experience, even for viewing content, lessens engagement and leads to lower usage and fewer uploads.

Sadly, I'm afraid a much more extreme data storage reduction approach awaits faithful users of Flickr.

When Yahoo! bought a large photo blogging site in Taiwan, it simply shut it down with about six months notice, deleting everything as it did.

5
git-pull 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'll tell you what Flickr isn't spending money or time on: Support.

I have a flickr pro account from 6 or so years ago with hundreds of photos on it. I've tried over 10 times over a year to contact their support and get turned over to Tech Support in India that won't even read into your case!

Of course, the original email address I used for my flickr was deleted, so none of the avenues on Yahoo Help (which is where they redirect you) work. Not to mention the password may be reset after all the leaks Yahoo had.

So when I see these people on @FlickrHelp on Twitter (No replies) and Flickr having office parties, it really makes me feel quite disappointed! Yeah sure, real human touch! Former paying customer who just wants to login his account with tons of priceless photos. And they have a thread of like thousands of people who can't get into their accounts [1]

At least the employees are having fun with data compression. Sad I can't talk to an actual human to get access to my account!

[1] https://www.flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/72157668446997150/

6
amelius 3 days ago 1 reply      
> "There are several accepted resize algorithms, but to retain the Flickr look, we implemented the same Lanczos resize and kernel sharpening algorithms that weve used for years in CUDA."

How exactly is the Flickr "look" defined?

7
malisper 3 days ago 2 replies      
For a less ad hoc approach to reducing storage costs, I suggest looking into the ZFS filesystem. Compression is completely transparent in ZFS. Once you enable compression in ZFS, all of your files will automatically be compressed when written, and decompressed when read.

I am currently managing a Postgres cluster with a petabyte of data in it. We found ZFS to be a great way to reduce overall storage costs. We just switched our machines to machines running ZFS, and we were suddenly using 1/3rd the amount of disk space. Although it took us a while to learn all of the gotchas of ZFS, it wound up saving us a huge amount of $$$.

(As I understand it, ZFS would not have helped in Flickr's case. Since JPEGs are already compressed, ZFS would not have provided any benefit. Flickr was able to save storage by using an ad hoc compression algorithm.)

8
harryf 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Peter Norby, Teja Komma, Shijo Joy and Bei Wu formed the core team for our zero-storage-budget project. Many others assisted the effort.

Looks like someone's hoping to get hired

9
blakesterz 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting read... They're just using "S3 costs" as a comparison we can all understand? They don't use S3 do they?
10
WhitneyLand 3 days ago 3 replies      
- h.265 would help a lot, eventually this (or equivalent patent free codec) will be mainstream for storage and devices.

- They say cost is 0.03/GB? Doesn't backblaze b2 charge 0.005/GB? Why isn't B2 a real option?

11
devty 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a name for an exploit where a malicious client requests rarely-accessed contents that has been tucked/compressed away in order to overwork their server?
12
Rebelgecko 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is anyone else confused by the baseline thumbnails and current thumbnails bar graph? I'm not really sure what it is measuring
13
ComodoHacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
>On a very high-traffic day, Flickr users upload as many as twenty-five million photos. These photos require an average of 3.25 megabytes of storage each, totalling over 80 terabytes of data.

>increasing camera resolution, burst mode and the addition of short animations (Live Photos) have increased bytes-per-image rapidly enough

>Users only rarely delete or change images once uploaded.

I'm very curious, how much of all this tr.. sorry, sweet memories are never ever viewed after, say one week from upload.

14
rocky1138 2 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding the lossless JPG compression change: the review strategy... was that done manually by eye or automatically using some sort of image comparison library?
15
Insanity 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is really interesting to read! Also quite surprised by some of the statistics, I had no clue Flickr still saw this much activity.
16
gist 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Weve pencilled out a model where we place one copy on a slower, but underutilized, tape-based system while leaving the other on disk.

Store images on tape? What about degradation of the tape overtime? Certainly seems to be a factor compared to hard drive degradation.

17
pmlnr 3 days ago 2 replies      
Optimization done right.

After a certain point, datacenter growth (both physically and logically) gets so brutal that you need to consider running things more efficiently.

18
Sargos 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is fascinating stuff. I would love to see what the Google Photos team is doing in detail (but that will likely never happen).
19
tehlike 2 days ago 0 replies      
i wonder if they considered decompressing on the client. not that it's a great way especially on mobile, but i was curious how numbers played out :)
20
acd 3 days ago 3 replies      
Switching over to erasure based storage such as Minio could bring down the cost even further.

https://www.minio.io/

21
siavosh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope these engineers get a few million $ bonuses.
22
tiffanyh 3 days ago 3 replies      
TL;DR; the longtail (rarely accessed images) becomes really expensive. So to save storage (and thus cost), both highly compress and dynamically generate rarely accessed images.
23
TeeWEE 2 days ago 1 reply      
24
irfanka 3 days ago 3 replies      
So Indians are not "actual humans"?! Wow...
25
sean_patel 3 days ago 8 replies      
> get turned over to Tech Support in India

How do you know they are in India? Accent? Asking because India offshore support peeps used by Dell, Walmart etc are all give white christian names - like Mary, John, Adam etc - and also undergo 3 months of rigorous 'American Accent' training. I know because 2 of my Indian cousins ( I am American-Indian born and raised here) work at such call centers in Mumboi and Chenna respectively.

So it's quite difficult to discern that they are Indian cos the Companies that hire them spend millions of $ trying to disguise their voice and tone to make them sound like they are local / American.

26
revelation 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gotta get the capex down for new management moving in.
27
omarforgotpwd 3 days ago 5 replies      
Well sure, it's not so hard to go a year without adding another byte of storage if you're Flickr ;)... let's see Instagram or Facebook do it. Are people even still uploading things to Flickr?
12
Naughty Strings: A list of strings likely to cause issues as user-input data github.com
455 points by caseysoftware  8 hours ago   87 comments top 21
1
minimaxir 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Creator/Maintainer of the repo here.

I apologize for the lack of updates to the BLNS. (since I'm free today and this is on the HN front page, I'll do a cleanup pass).

Even though it's a GitHub repository with 12.3k stars, there's not much to say or improve on what is effectively a .txt file based around a good idea (I recently removed mentions of my maintainership of the BLNS from my resume for that reason, despite its crazy popularity).

2
chiph 7 hours ago 4 replies      
You might want to include common unix shell commands. At a previous job we had a customer with the last name of Echo who wasn't able to make a purchase. Turns out our credit card processor blocked them.
4
raverbashing 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The human injection phrase is priceless

It's a nice collection of text snippets to test against many systems

5
vog 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I like the idea of providing such a list for testing purposes. I also like the idea of storing these as Base64, so you don't trigger issues by accident.

However, I also imagine how such a list could be misused to actually decrease the security of a system:

Imagine this list is handled the same way as virus signatures in so-called anti-virus software. Instead of properly handling user input, an application would check against this list and call itself "secure". Maybe with with partial and/or fuzzy comparison. If you demonstrate that this approach is deeply flawed by showing another unsafe input, they'd simply add that to the list and call themselves "secured" against this attack.

6
Confiks 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Hello human. This is a message from the Matrix. You've been in a coma for 20 years. Please write back.

https://github.com/minimaxir/big-list-of-naughty-strings/blo...

7
emilsedgh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Its funny that zero width space is considered weird and twitter fails on it. Its quite common in my language (Persian).
8
teddyh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Its missing the old +++ for non-Hayes modems.
9
bsimpson 2 hours ago 0 replies      
TIL: `mocha:` was a custom schema that Netscape Navigator used to eval URLs (equivalent to `javascript:`), and Yahoo! Mail would replace it with 'espresso' to attempt to thwart phishing attempts:

https://www.obscure.org/javascript/archives/msg01369.html

https://www.cnet.com/news/yahoo-mail-puts-words-in-your-mout...

10
ljoshua 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Line 629 is a gem!

Thank you @minimaxir, I hadn't seen this before, this looks very useful.

11
akjainaj 8 hours ago 7 replies      
>Although this is not a malicious error, and typical users aren't Tweeting weird unicode, an "internal server error" for unexpected input is never a positive experience for the user

What would the user expect from inputting "U+200B ZERO WIDTH SPACE" into a form, anyway?

12
jakeogh 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a tool to generate problematic filenames: https://github.com/jakeogh/angryfiles
13
zeristor 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Unicode control characters from when people copy and paste from PDFs.

Drives me up the wall, i didn't have time to go deep into this.

14
r-w 4 hours ago 1 reply      
15
ubernostrum 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Related: a list of names that probably should be reserved (for example, to prevent someone setting up a user-profile page at a URL you don't want them to control):

https://ldpreload.com/blog/names-to-reserve

16
aroman 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Why is the string "Linda Callahan" a naughty/Scunthorpe word?
17
cwmma 7 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm trying really hard to figure out what's bad about 'Lightwater Country Park'
18
frankmoodie 7 hours ago 2 replies      
is it wise to just take this list "as is" as a black list for, say, valid usernames, on a backend system ?

are there any drawbacks to this that i can't think of ?

in terms of perfomance - i guess it could be somehow optimized (with dictionary and sorting algorithms etc etc)

edit: newlines

19
the8472 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> Also, do not send a null character (U+0000) string

isn't that quite a blind spot?

20
kahrkunne 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice to have a list of these.

Also, the first time that copypasta actually spooked me out ;-)

21
catnaroek 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There's no such thing as naughty strings, just dumb code. Sorry.
13
Why I switched from OS X to Linux jeena.net
467 points by jeena  4 days ago   453 comments top 62
1
astrodust 4 days ago 8 replies      
I think it's important to note here that the reason a lot of people switch from macOS/OS X to Linux is because they can.

There's been a tremendous amount of work over the last ten years to make the Linux desktop environment habitable. At first it was usable for very narrow use cases, like living within an Office-compatible application, but over time that space has grown. What was once done out of spite can now be done for the sake of convenience.

Instead of being all negative about Apple not living up to our expectations I think we should appreciate how much Linux has exceeded them.

2
joaodlf 3 days ago 7 replies      
I'm on the other end.

Early last year I switched to OSX. In the past I was heavily into various Linux distros: From Ubuntu, to the more lightweight Xubuntu. Fedora. Elementary. I've played with Gnome and Kde.

It is my opinion that the people who seem ecstatic about their switch to Linux are still in their honeymoon period. I don't feel like any Linux distro out there comes close to the stability and elegance of OSX.

I've had so many issues over the years, it's hard to even list them:

- Ubuntu only used the dedicated gfx card on one of my laptops. Never would it settle into integrated. This caused performance issues, overheating, and I ultimately decided it was impossible to use.

- Gnome had so many display, rendering, and performance issues... I still don't know how people tolerate it. Even software listed in this blog post: KeePassX copy/paste never worked for me. Random software that would just blank out and require a full system restart.

- Crashes... so many... crashes. Especially when using multiple monitors.

- Some distros (Elementary, for example) seem to have quite a few hardware limitations. Half the computers I tried to install these distros on would run into errors, a lot of bios chasing, too much time spent on forums to find help... Most of the times you just give up.

- There just isn't enough software. And Wine isn't exactly the perfect solution. Not ONE single good MySQL gui for Linux (just an example). Think about that - and no, Workbench isn't good! It's extremely intensive on resources and bloated.

I moved into OSX because I was fed up. I wanted to work and be productive and not constantly look after hardware and software. At the end of the day I wanted access to bash, pleasant to look at, with plenty of software options. I didn't want to worry about performance, random crashes, and lack of support for multiple displays. It's costly, but the solution for me was OSX.

3
tps5 4 days ago 2 replies      
Nice article.

I started using Linux (Ubuntu) last year. I was trying to get into open source software and I had a choice between a Macbook or a Dell laptop with Ubuntu on it.

I was aware that Linux had a reputation of being difficult to use but I was planning on doing some learning anyway, so why not give it a try? Of course, another factor was that I've never really cared for Macs much. I never understood the appeal of Mac design and I always felt like Mac products, and particularly one button mice, violate "form follows function." (note: I'm not design-minded).

Anyway, I was really surprised that Ubuntu desktop (unity) was basically the same thing as Windows, except the sidebar was on the left. That and I could use the software manager (and later, apt-get) to install common programs instead of googling "skype installer," which is what I would have done on windows.

Later, I learned to appreciate how easy it is to edit config files in Linux. Plain text files vs. regedit? Yeah, I'll take the English please.

4
Koshkin 4 days ago 1 reply      
I loved the design of the original Mac OS. It was a breath of fresh air in comparison with the ascetic world of MS DOS. I loved Windows, too, both in its 16-bit incarnation and as the 32-bit NT. It gave you the power unseen before. The design of Windows NT, as it was originally conceived, seemed amazing to me. And I loved Linux, too - for being a UNIX, for its openness, and for its virtually immediate availability at no charge...

As years passed, both Mac OS and Windows have been gradually losing their appeal, getting more and more bloated, resource-hungry, sometimes plain crazy. Finally, they deteriorated to the point of a marginal usefulness to me. Linux, on the other hand, has been improving at an astounding pace. Today, it is friendly. It is snappy. And it does not spy on you. There are many variants to choose from. You can get it up and running in no time. It is there to suit your computing needs.

Today, there is nothing better.

5
diegoperini 3 days ago 4 replies      
How one can switch from OS X to Linux and still feel comfortable without a track pad with the same quality?

Everything Macbooks (and the OS) provide is replaceable with good alternatives on a Linux environment and I personally had the satisfaction to do so. But still, there existed no notebook with the same keyboard feeling, trackpad (touchpad, whatever), weight and durability as a Macbook. What do I miss here?

Edit: Grammar fix. :)

6
jondubois 3 days ago 3 replies      
I've been on Ubuntu for a couple of years now.

I would never go back to Windows or even OSX.

I love Gnome's workspace switcher. OSX's workspace switcher felt tedious and slow by comparison.

With Ubuntu/Gnome, I just Ctrl+Alt+arrow-key to move between workspaces and it's so smooth/quick. It's great for writing/debugging code; I have one workspace with the app/site I'm building, one with my source code and one with the terminal for launching/killing processes. Sometimes I use the fourth workspace to do CPU profiling when doing performance testing.

It's nice that there are just four workspaces - One in each corner, then I can switch to any one of them with a single hotkey without even having to think - I can instantly bring up the one I want in a fraction of a second. It really adds up.

Windows was terrible. I had to move the mouse and click several times every time I wanted to test a change I made to the code. I can't believe I was doing that just a few years ago.

7
peatmoss 4 days ago 0 replies      
At one point, I ran everything I needed to on free nix, then got a Mac in the early 2000s. Over the years, I enjoyed trying the shiny new things, and being on a supported platform was a novelty. Plus, it was liberating to not futz with XF86Config files and to have a mobile \nix workstation.

But there hit a point when learning the shiny just felt like a chore, and I started gravitating back to tried and true software like emacs. And Linux stopped requiring much futzing to work pretty well. And the need to exchange Word docs evaporated due to Google Docs, LibreOffice, and life circumstances. And somewhere I decided that workstations are a luxury.

And then MacOS started crapping up the UI with stuff I never asked for. It became more of a hassle to strip the Mac than to build up a more comfortable free \*nix environment.

I'm unlikely to go back. I'll always be glad for the decade+ Apple gave me. But I'm even more thankful for the luxury of not needing them.

8
im_down_w_otp 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'm mostly enjoying the KDE Neon distro. It's polished, built on a stable newish base for the rest of the system.

But as I've said repeatedly in the past, the thing that still drives me completely insane are the keyboard shortcuts, their general inconsistency across DE, apps, etc., the layering interaction of how they're intercepted by different parts of the system (so even when I can manually change them to be consistent, I still can't guarantee they'll be interpreted correctly), and their use of the Control key as the primary modifier in both GUI and Terminal applications.

Linux mostly copied Windows in this regard, and it's just as painful as Windows (and then some) for that reason. I would gladly pay $1,000 for a KDE Neon or Fedora Gnome distro that went through the trouble of thoroughly implementing and maintaining a version with fully Mac-like keyboard shortcuts and keyboard shortcut customization facilities.

I'd pay that per user for my team too. We'd make the money back quickly on savings in hardware purchases.

9
netgusto 3 days ago 2 replies      
I felt that need to change from mac to linux very recently also; it turns out, I lost plenty of time just to get the desktop environment "to work".

Used ubuntu + Unity, then switched to i3 on Ubuntu. After lots of tweaking, I found out how to get nice font rendering on i3 (default rendering is not so good when you're used to osx).

Then I went on the hunt for replacement apps for my office work : email + calendar + contacts; oh my, spent hours trying Thunderbird, Evolution, Geary (and it's new fork also), also Gnome Calendar, Thunderbird lightning and California for calendar.

In the end, I settled on Thunderbird + Gnome cal, but it felt like a compromise rather than a happy choice.

After some weeks of working with that setup, not finding emails when needed, forgetting about calendar appointments because of sync issues, I just gave up and when back to The Path Of Least Resistance for me : macos.

10
gwern 4 days ago 1 reply      
This could use some copyediting, OP. You make a lot of typos, like 'controll' or 'powerfull' or 'simmular'. Have you tried adding Flyspell to your markdown-mode Emacs hooks?
11
blakesterz 4 days ago 2 replies      
His "Usecase OS X Linux Comment" table is interesting. My main workstation is a desktop machine I built that's running Ubuntu 14. I've been slowly stockpiling parts to build a new/bigger/better/faster desktop, and I'm going to run Ubuntu 16 on that. 90% of my work is done in the terminal, so I'd be just fine on OSX, but I can't justify paying so much for the hardware when the OS is just not that much better. My good ol' reliable 2009 PowerBook finally died and I'm not traveling with a ThinkPad Yoga 11e thing. Windows 10 has been acceptable, though the updates are just damn painful sometimes. I found MobaXterm works well for me in the way that I work. I keep thinking I really want a new PowerBook, but I just don't know why. I know it's just not worth it. The only time I use the laptop extensively is when I travel, and the ThinkPad/Windows gets the job done just fine.

So, yeah, switching from OSX to Linux now isn't so bad. Isn't 2017 the year of "Linux On The Desktop", or was that 2016, or 2015, or 14...

12
milankragujevic 4 days ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to share my personal experience with Linux. I recently got a new laptop and was very salty about it because it came with SecureBoot on and Windows 10. However, with the help of some people on the Internet, I managed to figure out how to turn off SecureBoot and install Ubuntu on it. I tried various Linuxes and always keep going back to Ubuntu, might be the familiarity of it. I like Mint as well, but I miss the Unity desktop, heh. Anyways, I'm currently on Windows 10 again, but I keep switching to Linux and back to Windows because Windows bothers me, and I think soon enough I will permanently break free from the shackles of Microsoft and use Linux full time. Currently what bothers me most is that the mouse pointer is fiddly and requires some terminal commands to fix but it never "just works" as on Windows. I have a weird USB Wireless mouse, and it's old and becoming broken slowly, so I think I might fix it with a new mouse. On Linux, my most used feature is SSH, because being able to remotely control a computer with text (on a 1Mbps upload connection, RDP is too slow to use), from a phone or a laptop over 3G or something, it's amazing. And I often forget a file on my computer when I'm working on a laptop, and I can just SSH into it and transfer it with FileZilla or HTTP or whatever. It's nice. I have become much more grateful for open source and Linux in general, and much less angry and entitled. Bit rambly but it's 5AM I don't even know what I wrote...
13
colordrops 4 days ago 1 reply      
What finally got me to switch was a tiling window manager. I hated all graphical desktops on Linux, and finally bit the bullet and installed XMonad. My productivity has increased measurably. Its the only graphical environment I can tolerate besides OS X's window manager, and I actually prefer it.
14
dcdevito 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was a Windows user from 1993-1998, then when Win98 was released my new custom PC would lock up every 90 seconds, so I bought a 6" Linux bible and learned enough to get a Linux machine up and running.

Then XP came out, it was better, but still much of the same, I wanted Linux. Went back to Red Hat. Then Ubuntu came out a few years later, stuck with that, but overall Linux didn't progress much.

In 2007 I switched to Mac and stayed with the platform until summer 2015, when I sold my Macbook Pro and switched to a Lenovo Thinkpad running Win10.

Windows 10 is solid, stable and fast, but it just isn't - and will never be - a developer's OS (unless you're a .NET dev). This past summer I built a rig and was running Win10 for a while but couldn't stand it. I installed Linux Mint with Cinnamon. But Cinnamon crashed every time I logged in, no idea why, even on fresh builds (as I kept a separate /home partition).

So a week ago I ventured into the mysterious world of Hackintosh, and I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner. It's the best of both worlds, assuming you don't mind maintaining the system before/after updates to keep it running. I don't have a WiFi card/adapter nor a bluetooth one, so I obviously don't have all the functionality the platform offers but I don't care, it's plenty good enough otherwise. I even have iMessage working with no issues at all.

OS X is the only platform for me, plain and simple.

15
elzi 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't tell if there's legitimately more of these articles going around, or if I'm just noticing them more because they reflect my personal desires. Like the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon when you get a new car.
16
thebouv 3 days ago 4 replies      
I love Linux. I use it every day and have since around '98.

Recently I decided to get my teen brother, who's going into CS soon, a Linux laptop for development and a Raspberry Pi for a project we're doing together (a "magic mirror").

Instantly found desktop Linux to still be a giant pain in the ass. Ubuntu on the Pi defaulted wifi to only manual addressing, not DHCP. On top of that, set to IPv6 only as well. After digging through SO and other forums for a while we finally figured it out.

I've never had a desktop Linux experience work "out of the box". It still takes a power user to make it even half-way tolerable, and as a power user, I found it intolerable. I could see how overwhelming it was just writ plain on his face. Then realized I was making the same expressions.

Apple is definitely irritating me lately with their hardware decisions, but at the end of the day OSX is just better with desktop tasks. Hell, I'd choose Windows desktop experience over Linux, even with MS's privacy issues with Win10. Because I don't want to spend 3 hours figuring out how to turn on wifi.

17
muro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why I switched from OS-X to Linux: 1. tensorflow with GPU acceleration only works on Linux.2. Mac Pro is silly expensive and old, HP z440 with Haswell 8core xeon + much better GPU cost me much less than the entry level Mac Pro3. I can reboot into Windows and play games (on a good GPU)

I realised I liked consistency of keyboard shortcuts and replaced my work MBP15 with a X1 carbo nand realised how crazy heavy the MBP is.

Still miss Lightroom and Preview on Mac OS.

18
bebort45 4 days ago 3 replies      
For any Android devs out there. I built a linux beast workstation just for running Android Studio/Gradle et al. Then used NoMachine to headless into it. Kept my 2013 MBP and got a 4-5x improvement in build/deploy cycles without leaving OSX completely behind. Highly recommended.
19
autocorr 4 days ago 0 replies      
That "usecase" table is pretty handy! I must admit that I'm enjoying all this recent spate of articles on the front-page about Linux compatible laptops and similar programs, even if they cause a bit of an adversarial comment section. :)

As [astrodust] points out, there's been great strides in making the Linux ecosystem "habitable." With more people thinking about putting in the effort to switch, I think it would be useful if we focused on the positive aspects of a free operating system and not just that you can run them on systems without a touchbar. The article mentions configurability and being able to run it on anything. I'd add zero cost and privacy. If you value those things then switching could still be worth it in the end even with other pain points.

20
criddell 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm always surprised when these discussions happen how few people are using macOS because of Mac-only software. I'm thinking of things like BBEdit or TextMate, Messages, any of the Omni Group's titles, Automator, Final Cut, Scrivener, GarageBand, etc...
21
eeeeeeeeeeeee 3 days ago 1 reply      
Uhhh this person re-wrote a text editor because TextEdit now defaults to iCloud save? Something that non-developers probably appreciate, but we may not.

Is it not known that this behavior can be disabled back to the old way with a single line command? You simply run this from Terminal:

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSDocumentSaveNewDocumentsToCloud -bool false

22
kriro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds very similar to my story with some minor differences. I never had an Amiga/Atari ST/C64 as I simply had...nothing (friends had ST and Amigas so I got some exposure). Later on my family got a super expensive PC (first generation with CD rom, 486 DX2/66Mhz) but we had no internet access for a quite some time. Did some programming on it, learned from books I picked up in a local store because they looked exciting (that big TurboPascal book). Linux from magazine CD...completely butchered the first attempt at a multiboot install, said screw this and just installed Linux (it was a Suse). Then also had a Gentoo phase which was great for learning. Bought a G4 Powerbook eventually (don't even remember why I did that), thought the OS was horrible. Installed different Linux distributions on it (Yellow Dog, Debian) and eventually went with OpenBSD.

After that pretty much a desktop PC with different Linux distributions, have since standardized on Xubuntu. Got a MBP for my current job. Not exactly loving it but it's ok. Next laptop will very likely not be an Apple laptop. Maybe I'll just stop the little iOS stuff I'm doing completely (as it's my experience that it's fairly horrible on non-Apple products). I'll gladly take recommendations (I was thinking about maybe buying a Mac Mini the next time I get some iOS request) but that's pretty much the only reason why I'd buy Apple hardware now.

23
throw2016 3 days ago 0 replies      
Windows and OSX are pushed to consumers. Untill someone starts bundling Linux with matched hardware and markets it widely to endusers Linux will always remain a pull model. End users come to it, out of curiosity, ideology and the things it's good at - programming and systems related needs.

Its only because a lot of general use case computing is becoming browser specific and Linux desktops have made massive strides in usability that the general use case even becomes a possibility but the push factor still remains.

Poeple who are not computer centric will use what comes to them and nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where they reach to install another OS. Even developers are often not systems folks, they know how to get their programming environment going and little beyond that.

The kind of knowledge you need to really manage an OS from installing, hardware, networking, storage is specialized and unless is designed in by hardware and software vendors with support and training be it Linux, Windows or OSX becomes an uphill battle. Possible but time consuming. This knowledge is held by people who are paid to know it or are in technology software industry and unlikely to interest people who just want to use stuff and not gain an indepth knowledge of it.

24
shmerl 4 days ago 1 reply      
I know various MacOS refugees who switched to Linux because of gaming and Apple abandoning their OS. With OpenGL stuck on 4.1 for years, and no Vulkan support in sight, they for example can't use many latest features in Wine that depend on recent OpenGL and Vulkan, while Linux has no such problems.
25
mancerayder 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a long-time Linux user, I've used Linux on a desktop for years and I started that with Slackware when I was about 15 or so.

But now I'm my late 30's, I work as a Linux Admin/DevOps/automation engineer for a living and I have more money than I have time. So time has become very important to me. Even in 2016, running Linux in a desktop is a time sink, since researching hardware and troubleshooting X, etc. other issues, selecting which variant of some basic killer app with strange names to use, all that other stuff I ENJOYED doing I now don't enjoy, because I have hobbies.

HOWEVER, I would be willing to forgo all of that, and suffer the miserable time sink of running Linux on a desktop again for one thing: Adobe support. Lightroom and sometimes Photoshop are 'killer apps' for me for photography as a hobby, and no, I'm not moving to Gimp or something else that's open source. Again, my wallet has more power than my free time is vast.

I had a Mac Pro tower years ago, the big heavy one, before the newer revisions turned it into a tiny garbage-can-shaped appliance that you can't upgrade (soldered graphics, clever). Then I've Macbook Airs, and once that new Pro came out, needless to say I had to pick other alternatives.

At the end of the day I chose a Microsoft Surface Book, because a) Microsoft is now the underdog (and this is coming from an open source, Linux guy by trade) b) the hardware is sexy, with a screen that comes off a real base with a discrete GPU and decent keyboard, turning itself into a tablet c) It runs Lightroom and Photoshop! And the pen is a nice touch.

So that's my story. I'd have a story more closely aligned to moving to Linux if I weren't hobbled by Adobe dependence. But I do say, I don't regret the (very expensive, but time-saving) Surface Book.

26
jmcdiesel 4 days ago 3 replies      
Aside from the Terminator being better than iTerm2, he's pretty spot on :)
27
ndesaulniers 4 days ago 2 replies      
I just sold my 2011 13" Macbook Air and bought a Razer Blade Stealth to run Linux. Will have to write up my thoughts soon (I don't have the replacement yet)!
28
microcolonel 4 days ago 1 reply      
I recommend Geary if you wan an experience like Mail.app. The keybindings are a lot more ergonomic than Mail.app's (C-M-a is finger-gymnastic, especially on Mac keyboards).
29
bitmapbrother 3 days ago 1 reply      
Linux has all of the foundation in place to be a great desktop OS, but the various user interfaces for it have all been inferior in my opinion. I've tried all of the major distro's and I've always come away thinking that the desktop UI was no where near as polished as OSX and the gap never seemed to shrink. There was this one distro I thought might have a chance, but Papyros never amount to much and seems to be in perpetual alpha. Linux has always been a function over form OS and that will probably never change, but it sure would be nice if form and function had equal billing one day.
30
rurban 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to switch back also. But 3 counter arguments:

1. dtrace (I don't see systemtap improving that, and there's the unhealthy NIH syndrom)

2. wifi reconnnection time (10x slower)

3. power (always behind, always have to patch or recompile kernels or kernel modules. this actually broke my last linux laptop)

OS X is getting worse and worse, almost to the state of systemd. But do I want to switch over to systemd? No, hell no.

31
chj 4 days ago 2 replies      
I may be switching to Linux sooner than I expected, just because the latest Emacs for MacOSX is so broken regarding input issues.
32
pokpokpok 4 days ago 2 replies      
now that so many applications (slack/atom/spotify/signal) are built with Electron, there's tons of first class software in linux, plus with tiling window managers that are better than anything on macOS
33
vonklaus 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few people have made the point that the ability to switch is much easier-- both because linux has become more user friendly & their skills have evolved as well.

Linux is great. I have been coding/learning/programming for almost 3 years and there is a lot of knowledge neccessary to be productive-- in any environment. There have been a large amount of these "os x alternative posts"; and I agree with them.

Apple is alienating people like me-- not just the archetypal guru ninjas who contribute to the kernal or live in vim. I just bought a used 2011 15" macbook pro. The 2012 mbp are really the last year that could be hardware updated. I have a flashdrive with bootable yosemite and a carbon copy of one of my hard drives that run Yosemite. This is because if you upgrade you can't revert to previous gens. Sometimes even when testing a beta.

I am ALL for progression, it would be AWESOME if people updated their browsers and the web could push forward-- but os x has gotten worse. El capitan & sierra are pretty bad imo and many others.

Also, the hardware is leaving a lot to be desired. Also, linux is rising, shit even Microsoft is making software for linux. Apple is barely competing in the "pro" space.

I am sure people will still decelop plenty of hq apps for iphone and macos but with Linux, Android and Microsoft making such obvious pains to win devs, this could be a mistake.

I am running 2 OS back on a 5 year old hardware and the experience is only alightly worse than when I had a 2015 maxed MBP. Also web platforms are allowing tons of greatvsoftware to be env agnostic.

I am semi sick of these posts, but there is a reason they keep topping HN. A few years ago I remeber PG even calling Apple out. He said something like, he had just unconsciously subscribed to Apples next computer, but it wasnt obvious he would anymore. They weren't keeping up.

OS X was-- and still is, pretty great. Cook is likely making the right business decision in the hub progression:

laptop is hub > cloud is hub > phone is hub

But a little more effort to ship better software and reasonable hardware would go so far. No ports, non-upgradeable, limited memory and SSD storage for fing 1600.

I can punt on a decision for 1-2 more years with current configuration but without marked improvement and inprovement v alternatives i will leave amd so will many other like me-- avg & beginner developers, designers and media(photo/video/music) pros.

Bummed.

34
swozey 3 days ago 0 replies      
The OSX third party app eco system is leaps and bounds what's available on Linux and that's unfortunate and really the only thing that keeps me on OSX. I switch back and forth every few years. I need 32GB of ram so I may switch again.

There of course are far more apps available in apt/yum, but the quality of them typically doesn't compare at all to what you get on OSX. What's a super simple app in nix nearly always tends to have a far higher quality OSX version that has a nice menu bar with actions available, status changes, integrations with other apps, etc.

A lot of simple third party apps that I use daily, like popclip which saves me a ton of clicks when copy/pasting, 1passwords browser extensions (you can run it in Wine but the extensions can't connect to the app), bartender, fantastical, some pomodoro app I always forget to use tend to not have nix versions or alternatives that are anywhere near the same quality and once you've gotten accustomed to using these your workflow when dumped into a raw nix desktop just plummets.

Not to mention when any new hip thing is released on github I can almost guarantee that there's going to be an OSX release readily available.

It's a chicken egg situation which sucks. There's less users so there's less incentive to port the apps.. and there we stand.

35
zelos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Strange that iTunes was one of the reasons I switched from Linux to OSX a decade ago and now it's first on the list of applications I'd like a decent alternative to.
36
wineisfine 3 days ago 0 replies      
The replacement apps list does not look very appetising though :)
37
lindgrenj6 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good writeup. I made a similar switch after the new MBP announcement this year. I used windows through college (muh games), switched to linux in the 3rd year, used it for about 2 years, then bought a mac which was nice at first because of the nice unix tools while having supported software and a decent gui. 10.11/12 did me in, the OS is so much worse than it used to be, and that brought me back to linux and it has honestly been a breath of fresh air. Everything is so nice!
38
chenster 3 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting.. my path is Windows -> Linux -> Mac = Happy ever after.
39
chmaynard 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is so illuminating. I think I'll write a blog post on why I switched from Wheaties to Corn Flakes.
40
kozikow 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have been Linux for a few years, OSX for a few years and now back to Linux

- i3 is great, better than tiling WMs for OS X, including amethyst.

- I didn't notice lack of Microsoft Office - Import to google docs and LibreOffice have been more than sufficient.

- Gimp and inkspace are the biggest difference. Photoshop and Illustrator are much better. On the other hand, I disliked spammy "Adobe creative cloud" on Mac.

- Installing many dev tools is easier. brew was much worse than pacman/yaourt in Arch Linux.

- For many tools mentioned in article (mail, music, calendar) web interface have been better for me, even on Mac

- If you want to use nice new things happening in 2016, like train deep learning models or play VR you need a PC.

41
somecallitblues 3 days ago 0 replies      
I got to the part where the Op says "we are creating custom Linux distributions for car manufacturers, we do UI work, we write Linux drivers, Linux middleware and so on" and thought of course you'll be running Linux. With that kind of work what else would you be using mate?
42
bigpeopleareold 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was alienated by Apple before it was cool. :P

Seriously though, it was only until last year that I decided I want to only use Ubuntu (specifically) because I did not want to switch between keybindings between my work Mac and my home PC. My work MacBook is actually much more capable than my home PC, with the retina screen/better processor/etc. However, it now sits collecting dust, only opened to watch movies and will be used as such if and when my employment terminates. I regret asking for a MacBook, thinking I was going to be doing more work within OS X.

However, my mind changed when the little things about OS X started to get to me. I work on two screens mostly (unless it is just my laptop at home.) All windows are usually full-screened. They usually consist of Emacs, Chrome and a terminal, with some side applications like Skype. I don't use any special Unity features, like the Dock, etc. and only use the graphical file browser occasionally. In this setup, OS X seemed to conflict with my desires towards this use-case. I was also getting scared that Apple's use-cases would override mine in the future, conflicting with my rather simple and stable usage requirements. Ubuntu, through the years, has been incredibly stable for me; I rarely have issues with it. When there are issues, they are usually just dumb ones. However, it was 16.04 that solidified the case for me, because it turned out to be more solid than previous versions.

A long time ago, the cracks were starting to show when I threw up my arms over OS X over compiling ruby gems. At the time, I had to always fight with it to compile ruby gems. In Ubuntu, things just worked.

My wife still wants to use OS X/macOS, running a 2010 macbook pro (that is in an advanced state of decay :)) but that's her. I wish I can just by a cheap+powerful PC laptop and stick ubuntu on it, but that's not going to happen.

To sum, to me this is about taste and tolerance. I am glad people are interested in using GNU/Linux-based distributions more. With the audience growing, I am glad to see that this can lead to more investments in the desktop Linux space.

43
jeromenerf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Procrastination isn't it? mac, linux, bsd, windows, even android or ios seem to work for some people. I have this feeling that if the trackpad quality and other osx niceties are a must have for some, they should just stick to it and move on.

- everything sucks at some point- it has never been easier to test before making a decision- it is possible not to switch but to adapt and use different devices and systems- "switching' is not an life commitment; if it sucks for you, switch back; it is not an insult to the system you chose- when encountering issues, spend some time contributing to reports or wiki. Not a user but archlinux wiki is great.

44
mcintyre1994 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Then they introduced iCloud into TextEditor and instead of starting it and you could instantly write, which I used often to take notes, you had to create a file first, so every time this one extra step which I hated.

What is it with MacOS and this workflow? It's annoying enough to make me want to buy Office just so I can open an app and fiddle before I decide if and where I want to save things. Why does everything have to be in a concrete location in the filesystem before I can do anything in the office apps? I do think they fixed this for textedit though so that's nice, that'd have been annoying.

45
oelmekki 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've never switched to apple hardware when it was the trend, in late 2000' and stayed on pc/linux, so my apologies if this comment is naive.

I see a lot of "leaving apple" articles and comments lately. From what I gather, this is because their latest macbook is disappointing. But from what I remember, the initial reason for switching to apple was because of the incredible UX of macOSX.

Did I miss something and there also are software problems in apple world?

46
sergiolp 3 days ago 0 replies      
For Mail/Calendar/Contacts/Tasks you should really consider Evolution. I've switched ~2 years ago, and it's amazing. Stable, sleek, and with tons of options.

It has a bad reputation because, back in the day, it was buggy and bloated. But I haven't hit a single bug over these years, and while it eats a significant amount of memory, it's on par with other options (and these days everyone has plenty of RAM).

I'd love to see more people giving it a second chance.

47
tcbawo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm loving Win10 with WSL and Mintty on my Lenovo X1 Carbon. A few glitches here and there, but the touch interface is intuitive, battery life is good, and reasonable driver support. I've also been quite happy with Linux VMs managed through Vagrant, regardless of host OS.
48
EJTH 3 days ago 0 replies      
My biggest peeve with OS X is HFS+ and the defaults regarding case sensitivity and folder names (They are insensitive). Having OSX for developers and Linux in prod can be a bad combo as you are sometimes led to believe that the systems are very similar... Well they are, but then at the same time they arent.
49
DeepYogurt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I moved from fedora linux to OSX in the last few months (free macbook). I miss fedora a lot.
50
JacksonGariety 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm bored so here's a revision of that table:

listening to music = cmus

cutting pictures = darktable can stay

text editor = emacs or vim

audio processing = idk about this one

writing iso = nope dd is perfect

irc = erc or weechat

email = mutt or gmail website

calendar = org agenda mode (emacs)

address book = org mode table

terminal = urxvt or st

rss = idk i don't read rss

tweeting = don't

passwords = paper

don't have your don't read articles to you, either.

bonus:

browser: vimb or chromium i guess

terminal: alacritty (fewer kinks every day)

clock: xclock

51
Auzy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of Ableton, you could use Bitwig which was developed my ex Ableton employees..
52
aaronky 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really don't understand why these posts keep making it to the front page.
53
clishem 3 days ago 0 replies      
> GNOME Calendar (...) It's getting better but still lacks the day and week view, which is really bad.

Consider using Lightning, it's a plugin for Thunderbird and it's really excellent.

54
AstralStorm 3 days ago 1 reply      
The real time audio situation can be vastly improved using a nice kxStudio tool called Cadence. It starts up Jack, session handling and bridges PulseAudio and alsa properly for most use cases.
55
WhiteSource1 3 days ago 1 reply      
What office software do you need to use? I still find LibreOffice is not compatible with Microsoft Office for complex formatting. Or are you only using Latex?
56
calinet6 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another piece of proof that Linux remains a great operating system for programmers and techies.

For the rest of the world... sadly, just look at it.

57
YPCrumble 4 days ago 2 replies      
Is it yet possible to build an iPhone app using something like React Native on Linux? This is the only reason I'm still on a mac.
58
simooooo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Linux is fine until you need to install a graphics driver. Then you can expect a black screen and failure to boot.
59
utkarshsinha 3 days ago 1 reply      
Might as well switch to Windows now. They've got a bash shell (thx Ubuntu) and have a much more polished UI.
60
self_awareness 3 days ago 0 replies      
@jeena, have you considered applying infinality patches for your freetype package, or using freetype v2.7?
61
sngz 3 days ago 0 replies      
hexchat isnt a good replacement for textual. There's a lot of features that textual has that hexchat is missing, even comparing to limechat
62
snambi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. I'm working on migrating from OSX to Linux.
14
The Line of Death textslashplain.com
516 points by bpierre  1 day ago   98 comments top 24
1
_yosefk 1 day ago 6 replies      
I think the real issue is that everybody cares about usability but nobody actually cares about the users. Browsers, web apps, etc. try hard to make it easy to browse the web, but they don't try very hard to make it clear exactly what you're doing and what the risks are - in fact, everyone tries rather hard to downplay the risks and to hide how things actually work. How many users understand "the line of death", or the basic fact that different pixels are drawn by different programs, not to mention URL structure, or (gasp) Unicode and how it fits there, or how rnicrosoft.com isn't what they're looking for? What makes them understand this? Nothing. Software vendors are very happy with uninformed users (in fact these are the best users because they don't realize which of your programs and services can be replaced with an alternative and how), and users are very happy to stay uninformed, too.

Not saying I know how to fix this, just that in my experience non-tech people are so completely unaware of what's going on that this "line of death" thing is not even a thing for them.

2
lucideer 1 day ago 2 replies      
One of the best UIs I've seen crossing over this line of death was the HTTP Basic Auth popdown in Opera 12. I've always wondered why that UI concept was never taken up by other browsers.

... will try and find a screenshot

Edit: Couldn't find one so just installed it myself: https://pageshot.net/images/4af15a26-6eb8-45a2-b4d5-ed6ea19a...

Edit2: dom0 beat me to it below also

Edit3: reword

3
bcjordan 1 day ago 3 replies      
Speaking of zones of death, I was recently the (unsuccessful) target of a credit card gathering scamon a Twitter ad, pretending to be Twitter.

https://twitter.com/bcjordan/status/819894043870105602

Multiple users actually entered their CC #s, two canceled them after they saw my reply to the tweet warning users.

Incredibly, Twitter has still not notified the scammed users about it despite removing the ad after my report and multiple tweets to support requesting they notify the affected users.

The fact that they allowed that ad to get through (essentially profiting from users identities and financial information being leaked?!) is just unbelievable, separate from their failure to protect/notify the users affected by the scam.

4
grenoire 1 day ago 2 replies      
From a few weeks ago:

https://twitter.com/tomscott/status/812265182646927361

This is a neat blog post that goes to show the extents of faking that can be done in the browser. More talks about this will hopefully lead to better "security UI" as the author puts it.

5
rocqua 1 day ago 0 replies      
The comment made about domain names not being trustworthy is why I like EV-certificates.

Some people (notably google) argue that EV-certificates add very little of value because the user can just as easily check the domain name. Thing is, I could probably get some paypal or google like domain. Even if I can't, I could use a data URI as in [1] to put https://google.com in the address bar.

Compare that to EV. To get a browser to display google (or googel, or paypal), I'd need to convince a CA to issue such an EV cert. Whilst that might not be impossible, it takes something close to a state-level actor. A lot of phishers operate below that level.

What EV gives over the domain name is a fully CA controlled part of the UI. Whilst the address bar is the 'zone of death by phisher' the EV bar is the 'zone of death by CIA/KGB'.

[1] https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2017/01/gmail-phishing-data-u...

6
throwawayish 1 day ago 2 replies      
An entirely different but similar issue is logs. If you aggregate logs in a simple, unstructed text file, then it becomes pretty easy to add faked log lines, or, if they're viewed in the terminal plain-and-easy, embed VT control characters in log lines that can hide other log lines. And with creative use of Unicode one can also often confuse readers.
7
walrus01 1 day ago 0 replies      
In my experience the ordinary user is no longer able to distinguish between a native binary that is running on their OS (example: the windows update feature of the win10 control panel) and data presented inside a browser window. witness the number of people who have fallen for the bsod scam sites and given away their CC info.

https://www.google.com/search?q=bsod+scam+site&num=100&prmd=...

Even when people see a scam where the UI obviously doesn't match with the OS, ignorant non technical people fall for it. People get those scam sites in safari on OSX and still click and pay.

8
kibwen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've never heard the term "line of death" used to describe this before, but this concept is exactly why I've sadly convinced myself that fully chromeless browsers are a bad idea. Unless there were some sort of spoofless hardware indicator that a given UI element was being displayed by the browser, I suppose... but that sort of defeats the purpose.
9
jameshart 1 day ago 0 replies      
Occurs to me that counteracting this problem might be one of the strengths of 3D UIs, such as we might have to look forward to in AR systems, or with display advances. Untrusted content can literally be loaded up and restricted to exist only 'inside' a chrome box, making its provenance clear.

Of course, chances are that we'll get carried away with the possibilities of allowing AR web browsers to create arbitrary objects in the AR space long before we realize what a terrible idea that is...

10
alexpete 1 day ago 0 replies      
Something else to add, a Data URI can do this: https://twitter.com/tomscott/status/812268998742118400
11
the8472 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Put the tab strip below the URL bar. This used to be the case in the past.

That'll leave plenty of room to have things drop down from the URL bar without much ambiguity.

12
franciscop 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have found a much worse case in mobile apps. I do not have Facebook App installed, so I get a prompt from some apps when I try to auth through facebook in-app to login into facebook, which could be totally fake.
13
xg15 10 hours ago 0 replies      
> Unfortunately, on windowed operating systems, this is worse than it sounds, because it creates the possibility of picture-in-picture attacks, where an entire browser window, including its trusted pixels, can be faked [...]

They retorted Well, we passed this screenshot around our entire information security department, and nobody could tell its a picture-in-picture attack. Can you?

Maybe I'm naive, but shouldn't you be able to detect picture-in-picture attacks rather easily because you never opened that window in the first place?

Additionally, the "chrome" of the picture-in-picture would behave significantly than a real chrome.

I feel both of those points can't be assessed by showing people a screenshot, because people have significantly different expectations when looking at a screenshot of a website than when browsing a website by themselves.

14
Herrera 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I was playing with picture-in-picture attacks on Chrome some time ago and even proposed a way for mitigation, but it was dismissed.

Here's the PoC I did:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oega6C5SF0

And the mitigation I proposed was from this:http://i.imgur.com/8m6UdiC.png

To this:http://i.imgur.com/turRAdc.png

15
agumonkey 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't thank this article enough for raising a stupidly simple yet very generic problem.
16
makecheck 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought Microsoft or somebody implemented a prototype for secure pop-ups where the windows had animated borders containing personal user information as a marquee? The idea was that this would be extremely difficult to fake (even if it looked a bit weird).
17
qume 1 day ago 2 replies      
How about we put a distinctive icon in the trusted zones, which the renderer won't allow under any circumstances in the untrusted area.

Also with a buffer so nothing too similar is allowed, or perhaps a warning comes up if something is close.

I vote for something like the chrome dinosaur.

18
dtjohnnymonkey 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain the risk of something like Mac OS Mail asking for your gmail password? There's no address bar so I've wondered if I can really trust that I'm not handing my password to a MITM.
19
smacktoward 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting case where security and design are in direct collision. From a security perspective you'd want the demarcation between the application itself and the untrusted content area to be as clear and obvious as possible, which would mean drawing big borders between them so thick nobody could possibly miss them. But contemporary design is all about being "clean," part of which involves making borders razor thin and so lightly colored you can barely see them.

The example given of Chrome's line-of-death-crossing chevron is a good illustration of this tension. Say what you want to about it security-wise, but you can't say it's not clean!

20
JetSpiegel 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a truly dark pattern.https://textplain.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/image38.png?w=...Faking browser popups is evil, and unexpected for a high-profile site such as Tom's Hardware.
21
gumernatorial 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why can't browsers do image differencing to detect when the page contains something pretending to be the browser or OS chrome, and plaster warnings overtop?
22
ensignavenger 1 day ago 1 reply      
It would be helpful if this post included mentions or links to any best practices to help mitigate this. Does anyone have any they would like to share?
23
inconclusive 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why is there a line of death to begin with?

The picture-in-picture attacks seem serious enough to warrant a new kind of browser.

24
aashishkoirala 1 day ago 1 reply      
With HTML5 push state navigation, can we really trust the address bar? Or is the domain part protected from that?
15
Letter From Human Rights Leaders Asking President Obama To Pardon Edward Snowden pardonsnowden.org
356 points by dsr12  1 day ago   165 comments top 25
1
benevol 1 day ago 3 replies      
Obama is clearly pro-mass-surveillance [0] and certainly has been all the time.

So there is no way he will pardon Snowden (even if it's The Right Thing to do).

[0] Barely a week before he leaves office, U.S. President Barack Obamas administration has authorized controversial new legislation that grants Americas 16 intelligence organizations access to raw communications data from the NSAs surveillance efforts.

[...]

So information that was collected without a warrantor indeed any involvement by a court at allfor foreign intelligence purposes with little to no privacy protections, can be accessed raw and unfiltered by domestic law enforcement agencies to prosecute Americans with no involvement in threats to national security.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/13/the-nsa-can-now-share-unfi...

2
yadabadabada 1 day ago 1 reply      
I signed it. Proud to be counted publicly. The oath of office that President Obama took demands that he pardon a whistleblower responsible for revealing massive violations of the Constition

The very concept of "setting an example" by not pardoning him is evil. Every case should be judged on its on merits and Snowden's case will be judged by history quite favorably.

Obama should have pardoned him and appointed him the NSA's Director of Compliance

Instead we have continued and increased violations of our rights as Americans.

Of course, the real problem is that Americans don't learn about principles, history, or civic duty in any serious way.

Most Americans don't really care if the government violates their rights because they don't really know what they are or why they're important. This can change quickly though, thanks to technology. I think the tide will turn soon.

3
JumpCrisscross 1 day ago 4 replies      
These petitions are silly. If you want to do something, commit to annoying your representatives. Every few months write or call in and remind them that you care about net neutrality, encryption and Edward Snowden as a symbol. Before elections ask them if they share your views on these issues. Write a letter to the editor or op ed in your local, hometown paper.

Political change takes work. If you can't be bothered more than than clicking a button online, you're sending a message to our elected representatives on how you prioritise issues.

4
lettergram 1 day ago 13 replies      
I discussed this with a few friends. And it's really best if nothing is done with Snowden from the governments perspective.

If they pardon him, they say it's alright to release national secrets based on "feelings" (even if it's morally correct to do so, they can't have that). If they try to get him to the US for a public trial, who knows what will happen. If they bring him home for a secret trial, the risk rioting or a martyr. Similarly, if they kill him with a direct assassination he will be a martyr, and they'll be dramatically ruining their image. Finally, if they kill him in a covert way, no one will believe it and in all likelihood it will be widely believed it is the governments doing.

By leaving him in this limbo, the government can claim what ever they want about him without proving it. At the same time, Snowden has no more info to disclose, although he has a solid and growing cult following.

For the record, I signed this as soon as I heard about it and shared it with everyone I knew. I think it's important to be counted and try to share and convince others if your beliefs, if you believe it'll dramatically impact your future.

What Snowden did and what he stands for is the last chance to have any form of democracy or privacy. Unfortunately, it appears to have failed, but that doesn't mean you stop trying to improve things. Perhaps, the younger generation (millennials and below) will recognize what he did, as opposed to what the government is trying to spin.

5
netsec_burn 1 day ago 1 reply      
There seem to be a lot of comments here saying that if Snowden is pardoned, it will set a precedent that it's okay to leak government secrets. This is actually a straw man because that's not addressing what Snowden did. Snowden tried to responsibility report the issues and he hit a wall. He realized that the option to handle it internally didn't exist, so he did not have any other choice. Pardoning Snowden is perfectly acceptable since reform is and was needed in those areas.
6
megous 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obama is the worst president for whistleblowers and leakers in american history, by far, having prosecuted more of them for espionage than all presidents before him combined. So this would be quite a surprise.
7
nsomaru 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know nothing about American law, but why has the constant plea been for a pardon and not amnesty?

It seems like in the former case one would need to be convicted of something before one could be pardoned. Snowden hasn't been convicted of anything yet...

Although there is the caveat that amnesty at federal level would not provide immunity from prosecution by state courts, as far as I understand it.

IANAL.

8
eugeneionesco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Never going to happen, Obama administration does not like people like Snowden or Manning.
9
chvid 1 day ago 0 replies      
The sad thruth is that Obama is more likely to issue a pardon for Hillary Clinton than for Edward Snowden.
10
vidoc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Besides, I need to confess not being a big believer in clicktivism (just a personal opinion) and I would love to hear alternative suggestions to support Mr Snowden in a similarly lazy, albeit possibly a bit more useful way -> financially.

Google took me here:https://edwardsnowden.com/donate/

I'm sure helping his lawyers will help him indirectly but suggestions would be appreciated!

11
gerardnll 1 day ago 0 replies      
WTF? The main image is 4.4MBytes?!! Who did that? It slows down Chrome making the website lag until it is loaded...
12
dllthomas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obama has decided he would rather lie about the pardon power than actually own any decision around pardons - both around Snowden ("I can't pardon before trial") and around DACA ("I can't pardon en masse"). There is clear precedent for both, historic and recent. I can't imagine he's unaware of this, I don't understand why he'd choose to lie so flagrantly, and as someone who has supported him a bit more than not it really makes me wonder what else he's been lying about.
13
prirun 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think Snowden would be a fool to come back to the US, under any circumstances (and he's obviously no fool). Even if he is pardoned, they will find some other charge to make his life hell to set an example for others. He can never come back. I admire him for his convictions and thank him for his sacrifice so that we would have the truth.
14
Glyptodon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's bizarre he's supposedly considering pardoning Manning but not Snowden when only one of them was acting in a highly-contemplated civic-minded way.
15
Vosporos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Even Snowden says to pardon Chelsea Manning :/
16
AbrahamParangi 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm reminded of this article (posted here a few months ago)

https://www.lawfareblog.com/why-president-obama-wont-and-sho...

I found it to make a compelling case, if only because it offers less emotion and more citations than I've seen elsewhere on this topic.

17
throw2016 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obama is a massive disappointment. His clearly pro surveillance actions, support for the Syria war and needless belligerance towards Russia are a complete mystery coming from a democrat and given his public posturing as a 'reasonable person'.

Everytime you intervene and rock a boat there are severe consequences for tens of millions of people. It cannot be the kind of casual action we have been taking for decades. Basic human stuff. When it comes to refugees the 'empathy' dissipates quickly and we cannot even absorb hundreds. If these kind of actions was about sincerely caring about other people why would this be?

Given the kind of aggressive civic activism seen for Jan 20 one would conclude people just don't care about surveillance enough or we would see similar levels of activism. But it's also interesting to consider the levels of propaganda at play and the need to 'organize' and fund certain actions. There are enough special interests to do the former but not enough for the latter. For a average citizen even before you start organizing you will end up on dozens of lists and the security state will make your life difficult.

18
Jugurtha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's my previous comment on an Ask HN wondering why the U.S. didn't get Snowden:

>They could if they wanted to. Do they want to? If they get him to the U.S., they'd have to deal with him.I don't think they want to get him because it'd dramatically limit their options and possibly set a precedent with far-reaching consequences (is he a traitor? is he a hero? what does it mean to be either? is the public ready? how well would a pardon be received? if they pardon him, who else would they have to pardon? what does it mean to leak sensitive information? what does that mean for cases of espionage?)Why address the elephant in the room when you shouldn't have brought an elephant in the room in the first place? Just let the elephant where he is.

There are examples of lenient sentencing, though. Former U.S. Chief of Staff to the Vice President, "Scooter" Libby, was not pardoned after he had blown the cover of an intelligence officer (classified information) to a news outlet. He was disbarred, but not forced to exile. He was reinstated a few months ago, ten years after the events.

I think Snowden being in the spotlight cuts both ways: on the one hand he stays relevant, people don't forget about him, and it'd be a complication if anything were to happen to him..

On the other hand, it makes it much, much, harder to pardon him and to regain his former life. (It would be easier if it were done discreetly, but discretion is out of the question now.

Finally: this could also be one hell of an intelligence operation, placing Snowden just right inside a country that is clearly on the rise and representing a challenge for the U.S..

Heads: China. Tails: Russia. Of all the countries in the world. This would be an operation for the books.

19
burntrelish1273 1 day ago 0 replies      
Snowden, Assange, Manning, Schwartz (RIP) ... Maybe Peltier.
20
toyg 1 day ago 2 replies      
Whether or not he gets pardoned, the fact is that you now officially have an American exiled for reasons of conscience, something that only non-democratic regimes have.
21
formula1 1 day ago 2 replies      
Perhaps its just pessimism but there likely never be a pardon for Snowden. Once and if Snowden is pardoned, the military has now made it "acceptable" to comprimise secrets. Though Snowden is arguably in the moral right, if someone does this sort of thing for poor/naive reasons and if the knowledge is more sensitive (such as Hiraldo Rivera explaining exact locations and plans on a broadcast) there may be a much bigger problem.

I think the closest Snowden will likely get is an honorable burial in US or have a bill named after him. But I highly doubt either party will pardon him.

22
hetfeld 1 day ago 1 reply      
23
jgalt212 1 day ago 2 replies      
At first I was anti-Snowdon, (he's a traitor and deserter). Then I was pro-Snowdon (so much stuff he's opened our eyes to). And now once again, I am anti-Snowdon (there's just too much circumstantial evidence that he's assisting the Russians/Putin).
24
lkajsd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Obama isn't going to pardon Snowden, of course he isn't. Maybe Putin will though.
25
fredgrott 1 day ago 2 replies      
Seems somewhat naive in that you can only pardon those who have been convicted. More of a statement of how the common US American public understands how the US government works.
16
Poor Neighborhoods Make the Best Investments strongtowns.org
424 points by cubecul  4 days ago   166 comments top 25
1
epistasis 4 days ago 1 reply      
That's quite an interesting take! The differences in older and newer city planning regarding street widths, densities, mixing of zoning, etc. are quite drastic.

However, I believe it will be at least 20 years before my local municipality will be able to learn from any of these lessons. The planning meetings for any type of development are dominated by those with the time to go to them mid-day: retired people that set up the initial zoning and are dead set against any potential change. The same person who is super concerned about negative impact on property values will in the next sentence rail against those wanting to do development for their "greed."

I really gotta move out of California...

2
supernumerary 4 days ago 5 replies      
Detroit is implementing a program along these lines. They are selling properties in so called 'bad neighborhoods' and mandating that they be rehabbed and renovated within 6 months to code.

The average cost of rehabbing a home bought for $1000~$2000 say is $50,000. Have a look at the website:

http://www.buildingdetroit.org/

The 'Rehabbed and Ready' (http://auctions.buildingdetroit.org/RehabbedAndReady) homes demonstrate the transformation from a $1000 to a $50000 property.

To my eyes this approach closely matches the 10% target described in the article, and seems to be a smart way to build a tax base.

3
RangerScience 4 days ago 3 replies      
> These places are built all at once to a finished state. Today is peak wealth; it's all downhill from here, regardless of how much public investment is made.

This. I've struggled to phrase why most developments seem so terrible, or sterile, or what-have-you, while the areas that developed over time seem so much more... Alive? Valued? This is an amazing way to phrase that difference - it's possible to invest yourself in places that are not at peak value.

4
Kluny 4 days ago 2 replies      
This blog, StrongTowns.org, consistently has some of the highest-quality, focused content that I've seen in a long time. I'd encourage donating if you also got something out of it.
5
nine_k 4 days ago 3 replies      
In short: the poor neighborhoods have the most low-hanging fruits, and can be improved in obvious ways using small, low-risk investments.

Affluent neighborhoods are built in a way that cannot be easily improved upon.

6
baron816 4 days ago 1 reply      
Many economists argue for taxing every equal sized plot of land the same (vs. taxing based on assessed value). There are a lot of benefits to doing it this way, but the main one is that it encourages efficient land use. If a 40 story high rise with 200 apartments in it is taxed the same way as a lot with 6 ranch style homes, then you're going to incentivize building up.
7
gogopuppygogo 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are investment groups like http://www.ohiocashflow.com that go into the rust belt and buy up homes in the poor neighborhoods, return them to being inhatible and then sell them off as turn key rental properties.

With the way automation is taking jobs I wouldn't be surprised if these kinds of low income housing investments turn out to be solid cashflow producing investments.

8
twoquestions 4 days ago 2 replies      
It turns my stomach to say this, but I think the reason why these ideas aren't implemented is the people in the "poor" neighborhoods are of a lower social class than the people running the cities in question.

I very much doubt a legislator or city council could muster money from Us to spend on places where Those People live, even if it makes financial sense. I would love to be wrong about this.

9
adolph 4 days ago 5 replies      
I don't understand the author's argument. Is it "spiff up the 'poor' neighborhoods so the inhabitants will pay more property taxes?"

When I look at the map, it looks like most of the city is lightly in the red and it has several extremely red areas which may drive most of the losses. What is driving those? Are they stadiums or large government facilities that aren't taxable? Or maybe middle-aged neighborhoods with severe drainage problems that can't withstand a hurricane?

Whats driving the difference between the lightly red and the green areas? Some of the comments here propose that people in those neighborhoods aren't asking for improvements or the infrastructure is naturally cheaper. It could also be a city-favorable tax to liability balance since the larger portion of the green area is rented and thus doesn't get a homestead property tax exemption or growth cap.

"Putting in street trees, painting crosswalks, patching sidewalks, and making changes to zoning regulations" might put a city in better financial position if they think gentrification makes sense and is possible. But that by definition is not a social justice argument.

10
cjslep 4 days ago 1 reply      
Alternate cynical title from the red/green map: Towns pump money from poor neighborhoods and dump it into affluent ones.
11
siscia 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would love to these analysis made for Europe.

Here in Italy the oldest part of the city are usually the most popular and most expensive.

We don't have THAT much land over here and regulation are pretty strict on what you can build and where...

12
aglavine 4 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't the article describing the classic Gentrification move?
13
iopq 4 days ago 1 reply      
The reason why poor neighborhoods are profitable is because the city doesn't spend money on them. If the city spent money on them, they'd be less profitable.

There's no reason to expect that the city spending more money on a neighborhood increases any tax returns.

14
nostromo 4 days ago 2 replies      
This seems tautological.

Those areas are "profitable" because they are using fewer services.

If you invest more there, they would no longer be "profitable" -- and increased investment may not increase future "profits."

I think this essay falls down in part because it's nonsensical to use these private industry terms when discussing municipal governance. I want my city to concern itself with equity and quality of life - not which citizens are most profitable.

15
tomohawk 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like what they're saying is that taxation per square inch is higher in poorer areas, and that areas that are doing better have less taxation. Could it be that the areas that are doing better are doing better for that reason?

A land tax instead of a property tax seems to be the way to go. This would avoid punishing people from improving their property.

16
jgalt212 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tell that to Robert Moses. His slum clearance work turned poor neighborhoods into destitute neighborhoods.
17
azernik 4 days ago 0 replies      
A very insightful (but needless rude) comment from a user called Memetic:

"No sh*t, it's called gentrification and has been around forever. Thanks for reinventing the wheel."

18
MichaelBurge 4 days ago 5 replies      
[This comment has been removed since it was off-topic]
19
twblalock 4 days ago 1 reply      
Be aware of unintended consequences of improving neighborhoods.

If poor people can't afford to live in nice neighborhoods, and we transform their surroundings into nice neighborhoods, they won't be able to afford to stay. Richer people will move in and drive up the prices.

These effects are likely to be amplified in towns with high demand for housing and low supply.

20
agumonkey 4 days ago 0 replies      
Poor neighborhoods are latent negative pressure. In time things will flow back to them because they have no better choice.
21
Nano2rad 3 days ago 0 replies      
For development of an area, civic infrastructure has to be developed. When there are people living in an area govt will start providing necessary infrastructure and also presence of people reduce crime. Poorer people migrate to the empty areas first.
22
anon363764 3 days ago 0 replies      
OMG, apples and oranges terrible analogy. The best monetary returns investment in the real world is typically accomplished rehabbing the worst home in the best area because of the undeniable market power of comparables... the nice, expensive homes will boost the value of a now more attractive-seeming home by carefully-chosen upgrades which deliver maximum ROI, i.e., looks (good front landscaping), wow features and/or adding area/rooms; not sinking cash into pricy, low ROI money pit/white elephant work or hoping a nicer-seeming home in a bad area will magically not be depressed by terrible comparables.
23
malloryerik 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what Strong Towns would think of a land value tax.
24
Rugsandbeyond 3 days ago 0 replies      
Investment can be made by anyone but it must be in a proper way. Few of my friends have also done the same and today they are taking the benefit of those past investment.
25
DoodleBuggy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just wait for gentrification to hit the area. Then the $50k houses will be worth $650k+.
17
Crafting a high-performance TV user interface using React netflix.com
388 points by dustinmoris  3 days ago   187 comments top 20
1
makecheck 3 days ago 10 replies      
Interface performance is one of the strangest problems to have in this age of crazy processing power but it is extremely common.

Some of the delay is just plain silly and avoidable, like having long and synchronous opening animations in response to an action, which only serve to waste the users time. (Oh how I love being on a web site like AT&T and watching their JavaScript poorly zoom open a blank box from the center of the page for 2 whole seconds, when I KNOW they could just show me the damned page already.)

In other cases, the source of the slowdown is less clear. Is a physical device just not delivering its signals any sooner?

Ive played games where you have to walk to a very precise spot, hit a button, and wait literally one whole second before ANY response is visible onscreen or in audio. (And if it turns out you didnt really take the action you thought you did, you have to walk in circles to try a slightly different spot, and wait again). Why should that ever be the case? How can a super-fast console not immediately display something or play some sound to show that you took the action?

2
aresant 3 days ago 4 replies      
I built my early career entirely around CRO / testing and moved over time into product / ux / app optimization.

Huge, crazy, insane amounts of time are WASTED by humans dickering around with interfaces that they don't understand and that are not personally optimized.

One of the things I don't hear many people talk about, but I am particularly interested in, is the coming and continued improvement of adaptive & personal interface design.

A challenge that any single interface has is that it's difficult to set-up and qualify a test on a small cohort group level (men over 70 years old that wear glasses are homeowners, drink wine, and live in California is an actual target class we can easily devise from current ad tech for instance).

It's challenging because - NOT ENOUGH DATA - eg very hard to run experiments and achieve statistical significance, let alone biforcate your alreadly limited resources to drive to that level of granularity.

But imagine an adaptive UX or set of UX preferences.

EG - Take the same inputs -> eye tracking / natural language feedback (speech!) / interface observation / time to goal / etc <- and then let a flush ML / AI come up with a set of experiments and pathway.

Key to not completely confuse and blow users off path will be some kind of throttling mechanism - adaptations that settle you into the UX like your body's settling into the couch cushions.

3
mcescalante 3 days ago 1 reply      
Netflix's A/B testing has really screwed me in the past in terms of performance, so much so that I reached out to support to ask if there was a way to manually remove me from the testing group at that time. I'd log in, and the "new" interface throttled my 13 inch retina Macbook's CPU immediately to 100% (or more).

Last time it was so bad that I stopped using Netflix on my computer until the testing stopped.

That said, the "normal" Netflix player is great and I've always been impressed with its performance and responsiveness for such a large application handling video streaming.

4
stuckagain 3 days ago 5 replies      
I hope someone from amazon is reading this. Their new app on the roku is unbelievably slow, 5+ seconds for transitions.
5
erkose 3 days ago 1 reply      
Link is down for me, so I'm reacting to the title. I don't have an issue with the performance of the Netflix UI on my PS4. I have a huge problem with the design of the UI. First, there is no reason we can't have more configuration flexibility. I don't ever want a program to auto play and I have no use for the video loops that auto play when I hover over a program. Let me disable these features. I don't want "my programs" to move. Stop moving it so I have to scroll over promotional content to locate it. In general, the UI should just be my "my programs", "continue watching", and access to searching. Netflix is trying to hard to make the UI something we don't need. KISS.
6
Sanddancer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is it so hard to just say, "precompile your code?" Just in time means having to take the same code, and do the same transformations to it, parse and reparse the code, every time you start the app. Yes, React may be a nice templating engine, but why make everyone go through the same process over and over again when you can copy once and not have to worry about it anymore?
7
soared 3 days ago 2 replies      
Mildly unrelated - does anyone else get frustrated with the ui/ux for HBO now/go? The menu switches from the right side of the screen to the left, the scrolling is wonky, etc.

Man their content is good, but the app sucks.

8
rtsao 3 days ago 3 replies      
For folks who really care about performance, the easiest win is just switching to Inferno or Preact. You can pretty much leave your React code unmodified and get massive performance gains.
9
cekvenich3 3 days ago 2 replies      
I assume that HTML Dom would be fastest. Statically generated.

And that working w/ DOM/CSS would make it easier for team's designers to be more engaged.

10
swrobel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Disheartening that A/B testing and user feedback led to video previews. One of those "features" that's so annoying you wonder how it ever made it past the brainstorming stage.
11
CamperBob2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Semi-OT, but does anyone know how to make the new Netflix high-performance React-based TV UI stop playing selections automatically while scrolling through them, when you pause on one for more than 3 seconds?

What possible reason(s) would they have for doing this? Doesn't initiating playback of a title cost them money for bandwidth and/or license fees? It's just plain infuriating, in a first-world-problem kind of way.

12
peterclary 2 days ago 1 reply      
Different kind of TV interface, but still: I have a Sony 46HX853 and it really bugs me that after turning it on from standby it still takes many seconds before it will respond to the input select button on the remote. UI responsiveness from startup will definitely be on my list of things to test the next time I buy a TV.
13
godelski 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm still waiting for them to support Firefox and Linux. Their support says they are working on it, but I am positive that is a lie. At least I can work around it by masking my user-agent string as Chrome (DRM needs to be enabled).
14
Fr0styMatt88 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know if this TV interface can be set up on a HTPC?

The Netflix experience on a Windows HTPC is quite frankly, abysmal (whether it's the Windows Store app or through the web browser).

15
TeeWEE 2 days ago 1 reply      
On which TV's does this interface run? Or how can i check it? I didnt know it was HTML on TV interfaces.
16
philipp-spiess 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd really love to see more high quality posts like this on React. Thank you for sharing the knowledge!
17
z3t4 2 days ago 0 replies      
What do you use to measure Key Input Responsiveness !?
18
throwaway_45 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to have performance why use a 90k Javascript library?
19
ywecur 3 days ago 1 reply      
How many people still use TVs these days? Everyone I know don't even own one anymore, though my friends circle might not be that representative of society as a whole.
20
Akujin 3 days ago 6 replies      
What's with everyone's obsession with React recently? All I see is a template engine and not a particularly good one. You're still left with the same problem mixing your HTML into JavaScript.
18
Ian's Shoelace Site fieggen.com
431 points by Tomte  12 hours ago   86 comments top 41
1
dijit 11 hours ago 4 replies      
So strange to see this here.. I spent a couple days reading the site a few years ago. It was during a time where I was looking for alternative ways to live my life and if I could have subtle improvements on everyday things.

I learned a few knots and even now when I buy a new pair of shoes I consult the site to see what lacing style would suit the shoe and my foot. (since different styles put different tension on the wearers foot).

I have to say, I'm happy it exists, it enriched my life in such a subtle way, this is the kind of content that the internet was made for in my opinion.

2
VonGuard 8 hours ago 4 replies      
This man changed how I tie my shoes. This sounds small, but frankly, it was one of the largest changes I have ever made to my life.

Why? Because I learned to tie my shoes at the age of 5 or 6. It's something that was ingrained into my bones. A physical memory, an act that was undeniably of the flesh, not of the mind.

Changing muscle memory is really tough, especially when it's 30 year old muscle memory. But the double Ian knot was so compelling and easy, I actually made the effort over the course of about a year to make it my standard knot. It was really hard at first. I felt like a 3-year-old trying to learn how to finger paint for the first time. It got easier over time, but it really was one of the most difficult things I've had to change about myself, ever. It was like changing from brushing your teeth with your dominant hand to your less dominant hand.

And yet, it was worth it. The double Ian knot is incredible. Something so simple and yet made such a change in my life...

3
sbierwagen 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Ah! This page was on the front page of somethingawful a good ten years ago. At the time I had shoes with particularly slippery laces, so I started using Ian's Secure Knot, and never looked back: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/secureknot.htm
4
corysama 10 hours ago 5 replies      
I'll vouch for the "Ian Knot". Throughout my life I had to double-tie the classic shoelace knot or else it would come loose a some point during the day. Then I tried the Ian Knot. It is significantly faster and easier. And, now I have some laced shoes that I just slip on because they stay tied for weeks instead of hours.

http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/ianknot.htm

5
justifier 1 hour ago 0 replies      
this site comes up often and it usually sparks conversations about shoelaces, but i want to see the algorithms(o) and database schema

the consistency in the images, and the seemingly exhaustive quantity, implies they were algorithmically generated

i would love if each image had a build array that documented how to draw the laces using a minimalist(i) notation representing connections and nodes

this paired with simple client side code could have the images created dynamically with less work for the server and less data being sent across wire.. a random photo(ii) from the 'dis' method(iii) was 2.7K

instead it seems the server either stores or creates html with the images hard coded and serves up the images associated with the method, though the image file names are encouraging of a meticulously normalised underlying abstraction

i think an appreciation, either conscious or unconscious, for this underlying abstraction is part of the attraction to this project

(o) http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/2trillionmethods.htm

(i) http://www.fieggen.com/software/info.htm

(ii) http://www.fieggen.com/la/ya-d+.png

(iii) http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/displayshoelacing.htm

6
nom 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm always fascinated with how deep some niche-topics are. I mean, it's just a shoelace and very few people think about it at all. So cool!

Fun fact: searching for 'shoelace' on google puts this site on third place for me, right after shoelace.com and the wikipedia entry.

edit: Ian Figgen is the inventor of the Ian knot that somebody else has posted here. He has to be _really_ into shoelacing!

7
kome 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I have an adblock (ublock); I almost never clicked an ad willingly in my life.

But on that website I clicked almost all the banners.

This website is awesome. Designers, "content creators" and advertisers should learn from him.

8
coob 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is how I do 'Ian's knot': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbaHxsilsKI
9
marsrover 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I found this site a few months ago and it has been so great. I wear boat shoes everyday and if you've ever worn boat shoes, you know they don't like to stay tied. Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot keeps my shoes tied for weeks at a time (at a minimum).
10
pmoriarty 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the Turquoise Turtle Shoelace Knot.[1]

It's almost exactly like the "standard" shoelace knot I've used most of my life, but with just an extra tuck, and it virtually never unintentionally gets untied. It's fast, easy to put on and easy to take off. Highly recommended.

I also like Perry's Perpetual Knot.[2][3][4][5][6]

The idea behind it is that you only ever tie it once, and then only ever have to loosen and tighten it rather than re-tie it.

On one pair of shoes, I had Perry's Perpetual Knot adjusted so that I never even had to loosen or tighten it either. From then on I'd just slip my shoes on and off without needing to adjust it or re-tie it.

[1] - http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/turquoiseturtleknot.htm

[2] - http://web.archive.org/web/20051203081429/http://web.ukonlin...

[3] - https://s24.postimg.org/ng1fp6lj9/perrys_perpetual_knot.png

[4] - https://i.imgsafe.org/bee20e4850.png

[5] - http://i.imgur.com/mzyXuet.png

[6] - I'm uploading the instruction image to a bunch of image hosting sites, so hopefully the instructions will be available "perpetually", since archive.org doesn't even seem to have saved them.

11
squiggy22 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I love sites like this, that prove content wins out over everything else.
12
to3m 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I do the standard shoelace knot the other way round from his page ( http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/standardknot.htm). I bet I've saved at least 1 minute over the past 35 years from doing this.

1. start with left over right starting knot

2. hold loop in left hand, thumb and index finger

3. feed other lace round the front, holding it with right thumb+index finger, then round the back, then through the hole, so it lands on the pad of your left thumb

4. use left thumb and right index finger to push/pull loop through hole, then grab it with left middle finger as it comes through (your thumb can remain in place)

5. use right thumb and 2nd/3rd phalange of right index finger to hold other loop (you'll probably be in roughly this position already by now)

6. well done, you've caught the rabbit :) (In this story, it does not escape.) Now pull its ears.

(If you'd rather have the loop in your right hand, no problem, but start with a right-over-left knot in step 1 I suppose.)

This is a superior approach, I think, because of how the lace meets your stationary thumb at the end of step 3 rather than your stationary finger, allowing a smoother step 4. I'm struggling to explain this coherently but basically you need multiple digits on the other side in order to quickly move your grip on the loop from one side of the main knot to the other. But if it's your thumb on the other side, you've only got the one digit...

(Maybe I just got it wrong while trying it out, though? This is after all literally the habit of a lifetime. The above is just based on my trying to figure out why the other way round felt inefficient, even after taking into account the basic difficulty of actually doing it in the first place.)

13
dkbrk 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been using the Mega Ian Knot (http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/megaianknot.htm) for the past 6 months or so.

It's the most secure of the knots and is visually appealing, but is somewhat tricky to tie. I've got a fair amount of experience with knots, but it took me about an hour of practice to be able to tie it reliably and (relatively) quickly.

I'm not necessarily recommending this to other people; in the effectiveness-difficulty tradeoff, it carries a fairly substantial difficulty penalty that probably isn't really worth it. But there's something about using the ultimate shoelace knot that appeals to me, so I thought I'd mention it.

14
dri_ft 10 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing that's worth noting about the classic bow shoelace knot is that no-one seems to know how to do them. The right way to do it is with the bow knot reflected relative to the base knot below it, like a reef knot, rather than oriented the same way, like a granny knot. I never knew this until a few years ago and since I've started doing it, I've stopped needing to double-knot my laces - they're secure enough for me with a single knot done properly. I always try to explain this to people when I get a chance, and no-one else seems to know about it, either.

I see there's a page about this on the site: http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/grannyknot.htm

15
karthikp 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Never seen someone so passionate about shoelaces. It's great that a site like this exists. Wonder what other niche sites I'm missing out on.
16
SwellJoe 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I love sites like this (and this one in particular). I remember stumbling on it many years ago, maybe a decade or more. No idea how I found it, but the secure knot is useful knowledge that's stuck with me all those years, and has come in handy many times. I don't really care anything about shoelaces, but I'm happy someone else does and built an enduring monument to that enthusiasm.
17
hawkice 10 hours ago 0 replies      
He is featured prominently in David Rees' Going Deep episode about how to tie your shoelaces. That whole program is a gem, and people like this should be celebrated.
18
dandev 9 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/cialacing.htm

This is fascinating: Coldwar era CIA agents lacing their shoes as "a form of covert signalling, using straight segments interspersed with one or more visible crossovers at different positions."

19
tugberkk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I really think websites should be like this. Informative and easy to use without bloating javascript behind.
20
stevewillows 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I used this site to learn about the Army Lacing [1] for a pair of boots that would normally take ten minutes to take off when I get home.

It seems silly, but learning an improved lacing method has not only saved me a lot of time in a given day, but its prevented unnecessary stress. The method gives a fantastic, tight fit that's incredibly easy to loosen.

[1] http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/armylacing.htm

21
nommm-nommm 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I came across this site at least 5 years ago and I learned from it I've been tying my shoes incorrectly my entire life. I always wondered why my shoe laces needed retying multiple times a day, even with double knotting. I had to relearn how to tie my shoes and it's been a significant improvement in my life, as odd as that sounds.
22
Tyrannosaur 7 hours ago 0 replies      
!! I have found it again! Thank you! Because of a "share some cool website every day" program in jr high, I used this website and had the zipper lacing on my shoes for a long time. And to this day I only ever use the double Ian knot any more - but I could never find this site again. Here it is! :)
23
Kluny 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember in grade 7, 2002ish before reddit was invented and the internet was discoverable, I somehow found this site and spent several days poring through it.
24
Ianvdl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
25
jamesmccann 3 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the realest sites ever made. Cheers Ian for your fantastic example of how the internet should work.
26
Aardwolf 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I lace my shoes mostly only once: right after buying them. Then I just put foot in/out of it like that. Convenient :)
27
slavik81 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Last year, I learned Ian's Secure Knot[1]. It took under an hour of study and practice once, and my life was slightly improved every day from then on. Never had my laces come untied since then. Great ROI.

[1] http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/secureknot.htm

28
spraak 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, glad to find this! I'd somehow come across the Ian Knot about 20 years ago (is that possible?!) and have been tying my shoes (and anything requiring the same knot) that way since.
29
NelsonMinar 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Fun tech crossover, the word "aglet". In addition to the shoelace word, it was also the name of a Java mobile agents framework from IBM ~1997. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aglets
30
craigds 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Apparently the way I've always tied my laces (the only way I've ever known) is the Ian knot. I had no idea that's different than what most people do. Good to know!
31
kevin_thibedeau 8 hours ago 0 replies      
He's really missed out on the chance to sell a ton of laces.
32
deadlycrayon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Shoutout to the checkerboard laces I sported in middle school thanks to this site.
33
thanatropism 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I learned to tie my shoelaces as a grown man from this website.
34
Cozumel 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I never knew there were so many ways to tie shoelaces! In fairness though, it's not something I've ever thought about either.
35
andybak 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I was disturbingly excited to discover why my laces have been coming undone for 44 years.
36
davesque 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I kinda have a soft spot for sites like this that look like they were made in the 90's. Respect for the old web.
37
stickfigure 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My god. How could I have been doing something so simple wrong for 40+ years.
38
obstinate 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh yeah, I learned how to tie my shoelaces properly on this site. Probably saw it five or ten years ago.
39
rdiddly 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This fills me with anxiety - "Oh my god, are there superior knots and lacing patterns out there that I've been missing out on?!?! Where will I find the time to learn them?!?! Will I do like I often do, give up and revert to ORDINARY KNOTS?!!"
40
miguelrochefort 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've recently stopped lacing my shoes after discovering Lace Anchors:

http://www.laceanchors.com

I personally don't use them (too expensive) and use a knot instead.

I haven't noticed a difference in fit or comfort for casual shoes.

41
rongway 7 hours ago 0 replies      
i read this as 'Iran's shoelace site'whoops
19
Mastering Bash and Terminal blockloop.io
536 points by blockloop  1 day ago   169 comments top 39
1
greenspot 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Great post & thread, a tl;dr:

 Ctrl-r search history - then Ctrl-r again to show next match - then Tab to show all options Ctrl-p previous command or arrow up Ctrl-n next command or arrow down export HISTCONTROL=ignoreboth:erasedups Add to .bashrc to avoid duplicate entries Ctrl-a to beginning of line Ctrl-e to end of line Alt-b one word back Alt-f one word forward Ctrl-k delete to end of line Ctrl-u delete to beginning of line Alt-d delete to end of word Ctrl-w delete to beginning of word Alt-Backspc same cd - change to last dir pushd <dir> mark current dir and go to <dir> popd go to marked dir z fuzzy cd, install from https://github.com/rupa/z j fuzzy cd and more, install via autojump Ctrl-z to background & suspend bg recent background app continue running fg bring recent background app to front disown -h remove recent background app from current tty fg %n bring nth app to front, e.g.: fg %2 for second less better than cat, doesn't flood screen, same keys find find files, e.g. find / -name <filename> ag install via the_silver_searcher, faster grep tree shows dir like a GUI app, install !! last command, e.g. sudo !! fish bash alternative with more sensible defaults man bash read more about bash

2
Normal_gaussian 1 day ago 17 replies      
Rather than temporarily suspend vim to use the terminal you can get vim to suspend and resume itself with the exclamation mark command. This has the benefit of not wreaking havoc on your vim session and allowing you to read data into vim by prefixing with r.

For example

 :!ls 
will execute ls and show you the result (press enter to return)

 :r!ls
will read the result of ls in for you

More usefully

 :r!sed -n5,10p that/other/file
will read lines 5-10 from that other file.

However you will most often want to

 :!make :!up build :!git status :!git commit -am "Fixed #23"

3
oblio 1 day ago 2 replies      
The article is nice but a small part of it rubs me the wrong way:

> I know there are some cool newcomers out there like zsh and fish, but after trying others out I always found that some of my utilities were missing or ill-replaced.

First of all bash was first released in 1989 and zsh arrived just 1 year later so zsh is in no way a newcomer.

Secondly zsh is almost strictly a bash superset so I don't know what he was missing (or what he found "ill-replaced").

4
teddyh 1 day ago 2 replies      
Regarding macOS and bash, it is slightly remiss of the article to not at least mention that the version of bash in macOS is

1. Ancient.

2. Will most likely never be updated by Apple

(Most GNU- and Linux-based systems, and also Windows, on the other hand, continue to use the latest versions.)

5
whack 1 day ago 6 replies      
Personally, I found the following to be extremely easy and powerful. A no-brainer that should be a bash default really.

 if [ -t 1 ] then # search for commands that start off with the same characters already typed bind '"\e[A":history-search-backward' bind '"\e[B":history-search-forward' fi
One of my friends also recommended version-controlling your config files and storing them on gitlab, which I'm only sad I didn't do sooner. It's been such a help in keeping my aliases and configs in sync, as I make changes across numerous different machines.

6
wyclif 1 day ago 3 replies      
I also assume you're using bash. I know there are some cool newcomers out there like zsh and fish

While there is much useful in this post, I always find comments like this one odd. bash was released back in 1989, zsh was released one year later, in 1990. One year difference in age almost thirty years ago means that you can't really call zsh a newcomer. Maybe he's talking about adoption, though.

7
alphast0rm 1 day ago 2 replies      
For changing directories, you can also use something like z (https://github.com/rupa/z) to jump around:

 Tracks your most used directories, based on 'frecency'. After a short learning phase, z will take you to the most 'frecent' directory that matches ALL of the regexes given on the command line, in order. For example, z foo bar would match /foo/bar but not /bar/foo.

8
TheAceOfHearts 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I've tried bash, zsh, and fish. After trying all three, I'm staying with fish. bash and zsh don't have sensible defaults, and configuring them is tedious. fish works great out of the box, and it's really fast. When I picked up zsh I used oh-my-zsh and later prezto, but it was slow and figuring out what everything all the framework did was complicated.

With fish I have a setup.fish script that defines all my universal exports, for when I setup a new computer. This is for private tokens, like HOMEBREW_GITHUB_API_TOKEN. For aliases and utilities, I wrote a fisherman [0] plugin. It has a functions folder and a fishfile for the few other plugins I use.

[0] https://github.com/fisherman/fisherman

9
h2hn 1 day ago 1 reply      
I actually resolved most of that common issues with just bash: :)

Substring history search, so you can use just a substring to look for a argument,command. Binded to ctr+r/s by default. ;)

https://github.com/liloman/asyncBash#use

Changing directories: Last n directories, transparent popd/pushd.

https://github.com/liloman/dirStack

Movements: vim-surround for your cli, so you can do ysiw" o whatever... ;)

https://github.com/liloman/bash-surround

Control-n right: So just type the start and control+n to search for the arguments/commands starting with whatever. And the classical up/down to look up for a complete history line:

https://github.com/liloman/dotfiles/blob/master/bash/.inputr...

https://github.com/liloman/dotfiles/blob/master/bash/.inputr...

There're a ton of hidden functionality and customization behind the classical bash instalation. :)

10
alkonaut 19 hours ago 0 replies      
> "tool that every developer uses regardless of language, platform, or framework it's the terminal"

I'm not sure I agree with that. If you work in a decent IDE and your vcs is not git then you can do pretty well without a terminal. Especially on Windows.

11
Scea91 12 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing I am struggling with is that when I use several terminal windows then the history is not recorded immediately and history from one window is not available in other windows. Some time ago I was looking up how to solve this but didn't find a solution that would work for me.
12
why-el 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the spirit of sharing: one of my favorite lines in my bashrc is the alias of `rm` to `rm -i`. This prompts for a confirmation. You might not need it but I deleted some important, not-yet-checked-in-git files in the past by accident.

If you want to delete everything and don't want to keep typing yes just do `yes | rm bla`.

13
xolb 1 day ago 1 reply      
One that I learned from Mr. Robot: put a space before the command to avoid being registered in the history.
14
llasram 1 day ago 1 reply      
Worth it just for finding out about `stty -ixon`. I never would have guessed from the `stty` man page description that this option would give me back C-s and C-q to bind to something actually useful.
15
pmoriarty 1 day ago 2 replies      
bash (and shells in general) are so hacky (in a bad way) that I wouldn't want to waste my time mastering them. Whenever a shell script grows beyond 10 or 20 lines, I try to rewrite it in a "real" programming language. Fancy shell tricks are a code smell to me, and clarity and simplicity are of far greater importance.

For me, as far as shells go it's usually enough to know the basics and be able to look stuff up when debugging other people's shell scripts.

16
blunte 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Those Emacs commands you mention for moving around on the line also work in a lot of other text fields, in a lot of other programs.

Notably they don't work in MS Office, but they work in web browsers and practically every other app I have on my Mac.

17
coldtea 14 hours ago 0 replies      
>If there is one tool that every developer uses regardless of language, platform, or framework it's the terminal.

Sounds like the author never heard of Windows development.

18
gigatexal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Instead of ctrl-z and bg why not just do # <cmd> & to push it to the background.
19
lxe 1 day ago 1 reply      
The one tool that saved me quite possibly a few months of typing paths over my lifetime is autojump: https://github.com/wting/autojump. I can't imaging a terminal workflow without it.
20
johnchristopher 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I love `set -o vi`. It gives you vim motion in the terminal.
21
gogolb 1 day ago 0 replies      
On macOS, instead of

 ip addr show en0 | grep -inet\ | awk '{ print $3 }' | awk -F/ '{print $1}' | pbcopy
you can use:

 ipconfig getifaddr en0
If you wanna stick with ip addr, a more compact command is:

 ip addr show en0 | awk '/inet/{split($2,a,"/"); print a[1]}'

22
ivanhoe 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's missing my favourite: CTRL + _ for Undo.

Also there's a big difference between Alt + Backspc and Ctrl + w. The first will delete a word consisting of only alphanumerics, while Ctrl + w also deletes the word, but word can be made of any characters other than space.

23
hiq 1 day ago 1 reply      
About bindings, it would have been better to redirect to:

LESS=+/"DEFAULT KEY BINDINGS" man readline

assuming it exists on mac.

About suspend, what's the benefit of suspending vim using C-z? Shouldn't you use a terminal multiplexer instead, or even terminal tabs if you don't want to learn how to use tmux or screen (which I find weird if you already spent time to learn how to use vim but alright)?

I only ever suspend a program when I want it to stop, for instance because it slows other programs and I realize I would rather resume it when I'm not in front of my computer. Even in that case, I often just renice the program instead. Stopping a program just because you want to run some bash commands looks like an anti-pattern to me, but maybe there are better motives I'm not aware of.

24
thiagof 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A very usefull command is Alt-m. This command repeat the last digited string in the current line. It only works in ZSH.
25
nurb 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Another trick is to use "!!" which is the last command launched, especially useful if you forgot a "sudo" in front of your command, just write

 sudo !!
In the same way, "!*" is all the arguments of your previous command, and "!$" only the last one.

26
santaclaus 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm curious about the popularity of Bash vis a vis, say, Csh. Is Bash more popular due to superior features, or is simply because it is the default on quite a few *nix distros (and macOS)?
27
RJIb8RBYxzAMX9u 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Regarding history, another simple trick is to increase $HISTSIZE and $HISTFILESIZE, for the defaults are woefully tiny for 2017. I set mine to a million. You could have 100 terminals open and they would still consume less RAM than <insert "native" Electron app(s) of your choice>.
28
danielrm26 1 day ago 1 reply      
Rather than trying to remember all those commands for moving around in your command, I recommend turning on vim mode for the command line, and remapping ESC to "jk".

bindkey -vbindkey -M viins 'jk' vi-cmd-mode

Then you can edit your command line the same way you would edit a line in vim.

29
mr_donk 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> Now that we know we don't need the up and down arrow keys, what about the left and right? Unfortunately, these keys are still needed for single character movements

Don't ctrl-f and ctrl-b work?

30
teddyh 1 day ago 4 replies      
> 8. alt-w - delete the word behind of the cursor

He means ctrl-w. But since that only works in bash, not in Emacs or other tools with Emacs key bindings, it makes more sense to use (in his terminology) alt-backspace. This does the same thing, and works both in the shell and in Emacs-like environments.

31
wodenokoto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Personally I found "Learn Enough Command Line to Be Dangerous" to be really helpful to get started with actually using the command line at all.

https://www.learnenough.com/command-line-tutorial

32
ndesaulniers 23 hours ago 0 replies      
When going past something with ctrl+r, use backspace rather than ctrl+s. less has movements similar to vim. In less, hit v to open the file in your editor.
33
annetee 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Also:

Alt-l converts next word to lowercase

Alt-u converts next work to uppercase

34
cel1ne 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Tipp for OSX-Terminal:

Option + Cursor-Left/Cursor-Right to jump words

35
lisivka 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recommend to install mc (Midnigth Commander) and bash-completion (if bash is your shell of choice) as first terminal tools.

mc allows to explore system efficiently while not standing in my way, because I can always press ctrl-O and get my shell back.

bash-completion saves time on typing of commands.

Other tools I install often are htop (better ps) and strace.

36
philonoist 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Kindly help me out on how to learn this tool in Windows10 without using VM?
37
SFJulie 1 day ago 2 replies      
Seriously you can get on fi(r)st page of HN with 5% of man bash?
38
krzyk 1 day ago 1 reply      
It would be good to mention that this article is MacOS centric.
39
greenspot 19 hours ago 0 replies      
tl:dr

 ctrl-r search in history, ctrl-r again to skip- ctrl-p previous command (instead of arrow up) ctri-n

20
Nintendo Switch nintendo.co.jp
374 points by electic  3 days ago   413 comments top 44
1
ericzawo 2 days ago 13 replies      
That[1] was masterful marketing of an upcoming videogame console on all fronts. From the beginning it emphasises mobility with a (hopefully good!) smartphone app to manage online/local wifi matches, as well as multiple levels of play while on the go. It's reasonably priced (matches current generation in total at the register) and has an incredibly diverse range of titles to be excited about this calendar year. It managed to loop "The Americas" in with a Reggie appearance that worked well, and upsold Skyrim and Fifa, two gigantic American games with international appeal. They also talked up Dragon Quest X, which is an MMORPG, launching on Switch, as well as Dragon Quest XI, which until tonight was a PS4 exclusive.

Essentially, they placed value squarely in the face of everything your PC/enthusiast-level gaming rig won't ever replace. The ability to pick up and play elsewhere. Like the Wii, it's not even trying to compete with the current crop of consoles. It's value proposition will be placed somewhere a bit obtusely, between your mobile phone and everything else you leave at home. Yes, this obviously functions as a home console as well, but I can't help but suspect Nintendo absolutely meant to go for what makes handhelds great. If any company can do it, they can. So what if it cannibalises their current 3DS offerings? Pokemon seems to be going strong with its fanbase.

The whole presentation, from the demonstration of the hardware to especially the finishing trademark "One more thing!" with Zelda making a predictable but nonetheless amazing launch date. It's a strategy that worked wonders for the Wii, remember, so why not?

Nintendo absolutely killed it, and I'll be keeping a really close eye on this thing. But the marketing and presentation was honestly textbook.

[1] https://youtu.be/uuC4YLLkqME?t=33m20s

2
primigenus 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the first Nintendo platform from the "next generation" of developers at Nintendo that studied under Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto. During the presentation, the heads of software development (Yoshiaki Koizumi and Shinya Takahashi) introduced the hardware, and the head of hardware development for Switch (Kouichi Kawamoto) introduced the launch title 1 2 Switch. Staples of such presentations like Miyamoto, Reggie Fils-Aim and Eiji Aonuma were notably absent (though they did appear in a short video at the end of the presentation).

They didn't mention this at all, but I think it was a brilliant way to demonstrate that the next generation of Nintendo is as integrated and collaborative as ever, and let the games and the hardware speak for themselves. It also demonstrates the efficiency of the teams now that both the portable and home console teams are working together in one building at the new head office in Kyoto. A great subtle touch to an otherwise quite clear, explicit conference, and reminds me of how similar Nintendo and Apple are.

3
dcw303 3 days ago 7 replies      
I had to laugh when during the livestream they were going through each of the innovations of their past systems, and the only thing they could mention about the Gamecube was that it had a handle :)

But overall I think they continue to show real innovation in gaming. They're the only company who puts so much effort into maximizing their software with the uniqueness of their hardware.

4
shmerl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Kudos to Nintendo for supporting Vulkan and OpenGL. Nitendo do a lot of wrong stuff in regards to how they handle fan made games for instance, but adopting open, cross platform graphics APIs while their major rivals are stuck in the backwards thinking lock-in mentality, is a good decision.
5
lefstathiou 3 days ago 4 replies      
In line at the NYC store. I'm #2. There are a few people hanging out looking into store which is holding an event with a bunch of kids. Fewer people overall than I expected but there are 9 hours to go.
6
syntaxing 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm hoping someone can chime in to this, but putting the American market aside, is it just me or is this extremely marketable to the Asian market? Most of my Asian or Asian American friends exclusively play games on their phones. They play a wide selection of MMORPG to RTS games on their phones daily. Asians value games that are more repetitive (like EXP farming or turn based games, such as FF) and have great character development. I expect they will be receptive to a hybrid portable gaming system (not sure what to call this). [1]

Secondly, I'm surprised with how many people here find that the Nintendo Switch overpriced. We're all comparing the pricing to consoles that are sold at a loss (such as the PS4, they're essentially subsidized by the gaming industry). I bought a 3DS at about $200. For $100 more you get a tablet and console in one. I'm willing to bet like the 3DS, you'll be able to use this as a ad-hoc tablet for browsing the web as well and use it to play movies. I would jump on this if I had more time to game.

[1] Completely based on my opinion and might be subjected to cognitive bias and dissonance

7
daeken 3 days ago 2 replies      
I haven't worked in game console hacking since the Wii days, but I'm getting a Switch day one to do just that. I can't wait to be able to use this as a hackable game tablet and be able to throw it on the dock to play emulated games on the TV.

I really haven't seen anything like this before. I'm super excited to break it.

Edit: For those interested in working on this or following along, I created a Discord server for collaboration. Invite link: https://discord.gg/hSMpnuG

8
iagooar 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, I wonder where all this skepticism and negativity come from.

The Nintendo Switch has me so excited, I can't wait for the launch day!

Finally, I'll be able to have one piece of hardware for playing at home and on the go. If you don't see the awesomeness of playing Skyrim on your commute then probably are not in the right target group.

I like the Switch because it looks so versatile. You can play at home, on the go, alone, with friends, sitting down, standing up... There is going to be so many new experiences once the console is out.

9
trimbo 2 days ago 1 reply      
As pointed out by many gamers on Twitter: Switch officially ends the era of consoles with free online services[1].

[1] - http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/13/14261018/nintendo-switch-p...

11
thinkloop 2 days ago 5 replies      
How come Nintendo keeps having to completely reinvent itself every couple of years? They go from being on the verge of bankruptcy to a hit then back again. It seems like one tiny misstep and they're done. Microsoft is still spending accrued value from the 90's after tons of mistakes, why doesn't Nintendo have an easier life?
12
Bokagha 2 days ago 1 reply      
The one question that still hasn't been answered is will purchased eShop titles from the Wii U carry over to the Switch?

Wii purchased titles could be transferred and played on the Wii U, but the Wii U had the "Wii Mode" to handle that and Wii disks.

Right now it seems, sadly, backward compatibility is something that is dying off with this generation.

13
webkike 3 days ago 5 replies      
Looks incredibly interesting. If Nintendo opens this platform to indie developers it could become hugely successful
14
greenspot 2 days ago 1 reply      
A good plot twist:

Nintendo just sells these left & right Switch controllers you stick to the Switch screen BUT tries to get other smartphone manufacturers to integrate connectors to the left & right Switch controllers PLUS builds there own mobile phones. This is still the biggest bummer when playing games on phonesno physical buttons.

At the end of the day, Nintendo must get into the smartphone market and if it's just as a modded Android distribution or heck, just a pure Android with their own game app store (like Steam). They would have the killer properties to gain significant traction and enough users who would install a new app store just to play Mario (but they gave this opportunity away to Apple...).

15
minimaxir 3 days ago 5 replies      
Current concern on the gaming forums is the lack of high-profile launch games, with Splatoon 2 and Mario not being present at that time. Can Zelda alone sell systems? (probably yes)
16
partycoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Wii U didn't sell a lot.The 3DS did sell a lot.

The Wii U has a higher price than the 3DS, and that is revenue Nintendo needs.

So how to create something as successful as the 3DS, with but as valuable as the Wii U... this seems to be their answer.

Then, "software sells hardware" is Nintendo's motto. They do not license their intellectual property, all games are exclusively released on Nintendo consoles.

Now, it has always been challenging for game studios other than Nintendo to profit a lot by releasing on a Nintendo system. Mostly because specs are always lower than the current generation of competitor consoles.

17
lightedman 2 days ago 2 replies      
I already paid for the game and now I have to pay again for multiplayer, when the prior two generations were pretty much free MP (when it even worked, that is.)

Why, Nintendo?

18
johnhenry 2 days ago 2 replies      
First off, I'm super excited by this. However, is it just me or is it a little disturbing to see Mario and his crew greatly out of proportion with the other "humans" in the world of Mario Odyssey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ti9rFafwTw&t=65m49s)?
19
LargeCompanies 3 days ago 2 replies      
The Nintendo Wii was innovative and fun .. even the Wii U was a bit innovative and fun (ever play Mario Chase with friends .. worth buying Wii U for). Though... Switch does anyone see anything innovative besides a GameCube like system that is also portable?
20
jorgemf 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! I believe Nintendo can make this a great experience for mobile gaming. It looks so good. I really like how you can engage your friends to play together.
21
pryelluw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what their plans for the 3DS will be given how the Switch is also portable.
22
electic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nintendo Switch Product Pages:

JP: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/switch/presentation.html

USA: http://www.nintendo.com/switch/

Each of these pages has videos from the presentation.

23
djhworld 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've pre ordered it, but 280 is quite a large pill to swallow, especially when the US is getting it for $300.

Not sure if that's inflation or brexit or what, but damn.

Will see what happens in the next few weeks before deciding whether to cancel or not.

24
didibus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm excited for the switch. I hope the Joy-Cons are comfortable. If it is, I have to admit it looks like a very versatile controller. Only downside is how expensive they are. The accessories really cost too much.

It was interesting to see how all previous Nintendo consoles made controller improvements. Reminded me why Nintendo won so many generations. It seems they're trying the same with the Switch.

Arms looks pretty cool. I'm looking forward to more games that smartly use the controller's features.

25
jsz0 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even for a portable system I think Nintendo might have set the bar too low on graphics this time. Most of these games just don't look very good to the point of being visually distracting. It's almost an uncanny valley sort of thing where the graphics are just sort of good enough that the bad parts stick out like a sore thumb. It's most noticeable in the Mario game. Not sure that real world environments + weak graphics hardware was a good choice.
26
pmuk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just pre-ordered on Amazon UK for 279.99. Interestingly Tesco, a large retailer, are running an Adwords campaign advertising it at 499.99
27
csours 2 days ago 1 reply      
OT: There is a popular program/interstitial in Japan called Pythagoras Switch[0]. I wonder if the name is a partial reference to that.

0: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0B1hgP1tlE

28
alphonsegaston 2 days ago 1 reply      
Did anyone else think this looked like prep for taking over the low-end VR space, given all the emphasis on motion tracking? It seems like all they'd have to do is release a headset like Sony is doing with the PS4 and you'd have a good portable VR setup. Probably with a better library than Samsung gear too.
29
darrennix 3 days ago 7 replies      
Watching the graphics quality of the Zelda demo, I can't help but think: If only this weren't on Nintendo. The graphics look equivalent to Elder Scrolls: Morrowind (2002). As with so many Nintendo demos; I find myself wishing they were a cross-platform game studio rather than a lagging hardware company.
30
iplaw 2 days ago 5 replies      
Since the initial reveal, I have been utterly underwhelmed by this product. I fail to see a viable market or a satisfactory use case for such an oddly designed and artificially limited gaming device, and am confident that it will be yet another failure in a long line of Nintendo failures.

No touch screen? Not a single camera for AR content and/or social communication? The controllers look miniscule in the actor's tiny hands. The dock HAD to cover the screen of the device? I foresee the controller sliding and locking mechanism wearing down over time, leading to sloppy interconnection between the controllers and the device.

I could go on with the horrible design choices, but I cannot think of a single redeeming quality. It looks like the market is 6-12 year olds.

31
karmakaze 2 days ago 0 replies      
The big question is how many people are willing to carry another device to play games vs using their phone with a good controller case. Are phone controllers at least standardized yet?
32
rubyn00bie 2 days ago 4 replies      
I admire Nintendo's effort but I think they need to make a phone to really compete and they need something graphically powerful. That is to say, they need to raise prices at launch of a new device to ensure the hardware has enough of a shelf life. Spending $300 on a portable for gaming after spending twice that on a phone capable of gaming seems like a hard sell to the mass market/casual gamer.

Will this really be able to stand up against iPhones and Android devices in a year or two? I sadly don't think so... the maxwell X1 it's shipping with will be under power as soon as a device is released and woefully as soon as other device manufacturers start shipping X2 (I think that's the name) Pascal or whatever new PowerVR chipset debuts soon based devices.

I think a lot of the tech going into VR like motion controls and low latency displays will destroy some of Nintendo's technical advantage they're as no longer the only game in town with it.

Finally, while making the SDK better by using open standards I think most devs would prefer a larger market; which, both iOS and Android provide.

I've been a Nintendo fan in a big way for 25 years and want to be wrong but I worry if they don't go big in another decade they'll be in the same place as Sega. I bought a Wii U solely for Smash Bros and will buy a Switch when it's (Smash Bros) ported but I don't think most folks are quite so obsessed or willing to invest that much for one game.

Glad to eat my words in a few months, hopefully I do.

Edit: updated with reference to another GPU manufacturer. For my point it's not the exact SOC that matters it's the speed of iteration/capabilities on the near horizon.

Edit 2: Here's a year old benchmark showing how the maxwell X1 stacks up:

http://wccftech.com/snapdragon-820-benchmarks/

Edit 3: added "casual gamer" after mass market for clarity.

33
didibus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would be awesome if I could use the Switch to also stream my PS4 and my Steam games to it. Don't it will, but that'd be cool.
34
dfar1 2 days ago 1 reply      
I will buy this if it has sports games.. and I don't mean Wii Sports like games... I mean... EA, 2k and so on.
35
hackerews 3 days ago 5 replies      
What are some of the reasons why Nintendo Switch isn't just phone + app + chromecast-like device + bluetooth controllers?
36
Grue3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks clunky as hell. How big is that thing? I notice that the video doesn't show actual humans playing it.
37
teddyh 2 days ago 1 reply      
The gaming communitys receptions to the Switch seems to be somewhat sceptical:

http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=382

https://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2016/10/26/youth-adjacent

38
I_am_neo 2 days ago 0 replies      
That controller gives me RSI just looking at the controller..... no thanks
39
LeicaLatte 2 days ago 0 replies      
The pricing is on the level of Apple for some reason.
40
illuminati1911 2 days ago 0 replies      
Overpriced, low battery life compared to iPad and only good game announced was 2011 released Skyrim.

If Nintendo wants to stay in game business they need to get serious. This press info was much worse than I expected it to be.

41
awqrre 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will 6 people play it on all 6 demo Sundays (in 6 cities)?
42
Zelmor 2 days ago 2 replies      
No info released on battery, RAM and GPU? Fishy.
43
badevguru 2 days ago 1 reply      
So on launch we have the choice of Zelda... or the milking the cow game... really...
44
teamhappy 2 days ago 3 replies      
Oh for fuck's sake Nintendo. Just put all the NES and SNES games on a little ARM box, sell if for 100 bucks and watch the money pour in.

// ThatPlayer: Of course not, but they could make deals for the popular ones, etc.

21
Calling bullshit callingbullshit.org
397 points by roye  3 days ago   269 comments top 43
1
acjohnson55 3 days ago 14 replies      
Admirable, but misguided. Fact-based argument has never been effective. The Greeks knew this. We keep forgetting it at our own peril. We know how to think critically; most of us simply choose not to.

The audience who would see this kind of course/site are likely people who pretty much already have their head screwed on the right way. It would be much better to train them in effective rhetoric so they can counter the bullshit in real arguments.

We keep forgetting that people tend to support policies and politicians for largely social and psychological reasons, not because of facts and ideology. The former are where the real battle is fought.

I spend a lot of time debating with people who disagree with me politically. It's nearly impossible to have a factual debate. So stop trying. Instead, make your point based on common morals, do it with compassion and generosity of spirit, and don't allow the goalposts of the debate to be moved. Throw in like two of couple of your choicest facts and sources, but don't expect them to help. Move on and repeat.

2
natural_capital 3 days ago 8 replies      
I really like this idea, though struggle to understand the effectiveness.

My guess is that the type of person who falls victim to 'bullshit' theory or messages is not the kind of person who is willing to dedicate time to an online course about learning to be more critical in thought. 'Bullshit' thinking has been largely successful because its an effortless pathway to establishing an opinion on something (queue System 1/System 2 thinking).

Conversely, the people who would be willing to read this sort of content are likely the people who are already reasonable skeptical about what they take as face value.

3
arethuza 3 days ago 2 replies      
From the "patron saint of reason and common sense" I can recommend Carl Sagan's "Baloney Detection Kit" from superb The Demon-Haunted World:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/01/03/baloney-detection-k...

4
lowbloodsugar 3 days ago 2 replies      
My wife took a Critical Thinking course at college. Changed her life, and as a result, my life and our kids'. Blows me away that only 90 people per year at that institution took that course. Meanwhile, back in the public school system, we have examiners mistaking their own opinions as fact. [1]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13348672

5
jankotek 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am not sure I like this site. It uses strong language, but avoids anything controversial and provided case studies are pretty shallow.

Nothing like some Youtube channels, where presenter spends one hour deconstructing some study, to its sources and sources of the sources.

6
onion2k 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like a similar idea to Julian Baggini's "Edge of Reason"[1]. In the book he investigates how we've become very bad at using reason (in the philosophical sense of the word) to examine things around us. I'm about 1/2 way through and I've been finding it very interesting indeed.

[1] http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300208238 - There's a brief interview with the author that introduces the book on there.

7
wvh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry to be this negative, but people simply don't care. They don't care because thinking critically and trying to grasp subtle nuances and balance complex opinions about the world will not directly improve their lives. Convenient truths and easy emotions feel more comfortable and as if they have a direct "return on investment". Most people prefer simple truths, certainty and connection to/identification with a group over uncertainty, doubt and existential loneliness. (Or at least that's what I see, as somebody who is somewhat on the autistic spectrum and doesn't easily connect with a lot of this group-think.)

It's laudable to fight this, just very prone to disillusion.

8
willvarfar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bullshit is a numbers game, just like spam. Spam doesn't particularly try not to look like spam or avoid spam filters because the target audience isn't employing decent countermeasures.

Maybe marketing can be elevated to the same standard as phishing, where effort is put into deceiving our filters?

If so, this would be a very useful course for a marketeer to attend ;)

9
t_g 3 days ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of a good book I read in my ethics classes:

https://www.amazon.com/Bullshit-Harry-G-Frankfurt/dp/0691122...

10
rchaud 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the spirit of what this is trying to promote, but its target audience likely considers themselves to be "critical thinkers" already and feel its everybody else who needs this kind of course.

That said, why does it have to be set up like a college course? Not only did looking at the site bring back memories of freshman year crit analysis courses, the way in which their proposed structure is laid out is completely out of sync with the way in which people absorb information today.

Fake news is shared widely because it's easy and doesn't require much mental exertion of the sharer/reader. The people most likely to share this kind of provocative "viral" content do not even have a working common-sense bullshit meter. Yet the well-meaning people behind the course think they're ready move from 200 word blog posts with a black-and-white view of the world to college-level reading?

I'd suggest looking at the UX/UI of an app like Google Primer (bite sized lessons on digital marketing) and see if that model can be applied here. Probably not Primer is designed to provide on-the-go info while this is designed as an actual college course.

11
closed 3 days ago 0 replies      
This looks fairly similar to the psychology course, "Everything is Fucked" [1]. EiF has a stellar syllabus, while this one seems a bit lighter (maybe it's for fewer credits). Seems like a pretty useful course, in any event.

I'm definitely curious about Susan Fiske's article, about how social networks encourage unmoderated academic "trash talk" [2]. Andy Gelman has a pretty negative critique of the article here [3].

[1] https://hardsci.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/everything-is-fucke...

[2] http://callingbullshit.org/readings/fiske2016mob.pdf

[3] http://andrewgelman.com/2016/09/21/what-has-happened-down-he...

edit: why the downvote?

12
d_theorist 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes. Yes. Yes.

This is exactly what public education systems should be teaching. I'd almost say that next to basic literacy and mathematics, this is the most valuable subject to teach. It lays the groundwork for so much else.

13
galfarragem 3 days ago 0 replies      
'Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.' -- Aaron Levenstein

Or putting in other words: analysis is an art not a science.

14
kornakiewicz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wish this kind of courses were mandatory for all undergraduates in our post-truth era.
15
fizwhiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit, then take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with second-order bullshit

This made me chortle

16
mhartl 3 days ago 0 replies      
For better or for worse, the term bullshit has no exact synonym in the English language; we use the term because it precisely describes the phenomena we are studying.

Interestingly enough, the claim about bullshit lacking an exact synonym is false. Not only does bull by itself mean precisely the same thing, but in fact its use predates the compound formation by three centuries. The use of shit in bullshit is an intensifier, as in shitstorm or shitfit, though presumably the rather evocative image of bovine excrement was also a factor.

From the Google dictionary:

 bull (3) bool/ noun informal noun: bull stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense. "much of what he says is sheer bull" Origin early 17th century: of unknown origin. bullshit boolSHit/ vulgar slang noun noun: bullshit 1. stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense. Origin early 20th century: from bull (3) + shit.

17
RichardHeart 3 days ago 0 replies      
The idiots of the world fight ferociously to spread their "100 percent correct" views, while the smart (HackerNews) remain relatively silent in fear against the masses of idiots flooding all mediums. Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West had the courage to scream loudly back, speaking smarts to stupid. Better marketing for good ideas! Bravo!

Marketing opinion. This page: http://callingbullshit.org/case_studies.html should be made homepage content, for it is their most compelling and clear value statement and takes little space. It took me too long to find naturally, and I didn't feel fulfilled on the bullshit pitch till I did. If you don't want to move it, perhaps call them examples instead of case studies, if you want to reach a general audience.

Serendipity. These professors made a course/website "bullshit" the title. Which I think's funny because I just uploaded a youtube video in a tophat/leopard print about how smart people should be more aggressive spreading their ideas.

18
supergreg 3 days ago 0 replies      
> we are proposing to teach it at the University of Washington in the near future

I call BS.

19
sfifs 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a really good effort! In analytics and data science world where I work, it's difficult to train our junior people to think through all the reasons their conclusions might be misleading. The cases are likely to be very helpful to get the thinking process started.
20
cafed00d 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Jon Stewart's swan song of "Bullshit is everywhere"[1] message.

Sigh, I miss Jon Stewart.

[1]. http://www.cc.com/video-clips/ss6u07/the-daily-show-with-jon...

21
mulmen 3 days ago 2 replies      
There are four kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, statistics and big data.
22
kingkawn 3 days ago 1 reply      
It isn't about identifying bullshit so much as coming up with a subjective preference set to carry out and seek out that leads to a better world regardless of the circumstances.
23
dood 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at the name I thought this was going to be some kind of wiki-encyclopedia of bullshit, where people could submit reasons why any given thing is bullshit.

Am a little disappointed actually, that would be a handy reference. Though naturally such a thing would almost immediately devolve into arguments about the degree to which anything is bullshit, but that could still be valuable.

24
Paul-ish 3 days ago 0 replies      
The criticism of this course in principle is ironic to me. A lot of people are saying "This course is pointless, the people who would take this course don't need it." Which seems to imply... that they wouldn't take the course. Which would, by their own logic, imply they probably need it.

We all have blind spots, we just have different blind spots.

25
rebuilder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, so it's not "this course" in the "you can go here to take this course" sense, but in the "there may be a course held somewhere some day" sense? Because I was interested but baffled when I tried to find the course or info about where to take part on that site.
26
Dowwie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this a MOOC? I don't see lecture videos.

I laughed hard after reading Week 3:

Week 3. The natural ecology of bullshit. Where do we find bullshit? Why news media provide bullshit. TED talks and the marketplace for upscale bullshit. Why social media provide ideal conditions for the growth and spread of bullshit.

27
TeMPOraL 3 days ago 0 replies      
From http://callingbullshit.org/syllabus.html:

> but recently a fake news story actually provoked nuclear threats issued by twitter.

Nuclear threats issued by Twitter. What a world we live in.

28
OJFord 3 days ago 0 replies      
> For better or for worse, the term bullshit has no exact synonym in the English language

Perhaps only in British use (?) - but 'rubbish' and 'nonsense' can both be used to replace 'bullshit', other than qua faeces.

29
dajohnson89 3 days ago 0 replies      
This "bullshit" meme is getting tired. It seems like a cutesy way to say something like "not rigorous" or "deceptive". Which a good introductory course in logic (informal and formal) will help in spotting.
31
booleandilemma 3 days ago 0 replies      
32
gcatalfamo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is an effort towards the people that don't need such effort. The people really needing this course will never willingly read - or understand - such educated content.
33
perseuswiki 3 days ago 0 replies      
more supplementary readings:

"SILENT RISK :NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB" ( pdf )

http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/SilentRisk.pdf

and

"Taleb: The Intellectual Yet Idiot"

https://medium.com/incerto/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e...

34
yarauuta 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everything around you is bullshit. Click here, follow/upvote us, we are not.

Shallow "facting" does not help the the cause.

35
tomp 3 days ago 0 replies      
> In this course we aim to teach you how to think critically about the data and models that constitute evidence in the social and natural sciences

I call bullshit on the existence of "social sciences". Even the best attempts at controlled, reproducible experiments were laughable, so at most we can call them "social studies".

36
quotha 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you can't call callingbullshitdotorg bullshit, you've learned nothing!
37
curiousgal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this just a collection of things to read rather than a course?
38
geodel 3 days ago 1 reply      
> So, the aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combatting it with effective analysis and argument.

I am calling bullshit on this.

39
artur_makly 3 days ago 1 reply      
glad to see the groundswell!

However I made a more efficient approach at solving this : http://TrumpTweets.io

The manifesto : http://TrumpTweets.io/manifesto

40
DonHopkins 3 days ago 7 replies      
..."other tools of persuasion" like posing as your own fan on message boards to defend and flatter yourself, after you're criticized for claiming that women are "treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. Its just easier this way for everyone."

http://comicsalliance.com/scott-adams-plannedchaos-sockpuppe...

Scott Adams, talking about Scott Adams in the third person, while pretending not to be Scott Adams:

- [0] plannedchaos -21 points 4 months ago

If an idiot and a genius disagree, the idiot generally thinks the genius is wrong. He also has a lot of idiot reasons to back his idiot belief. That's how the idiot mind is wired.

It's fair to say you disagree with Adams. But you can't rule out the hypothesis that you're too dumb to understand what he's saying.

And he's a certified genius. Just sayin'.

41
dccoolgai 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yes. Bullshit is ruining everything. There needs to be some kind of grassroots movement to stop it.
42
fiatjaf 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a course on being intelligent, it seems. If you are able to teach people how to be intelligent without making them actually intelligent (= to know a lot of things) then it is magic.
43
SFJulie 3 days ago 0 replies      
The trollometer Plumpfmeter 2.1 can actively be turned into a bullshit detector by using a post anaphylactic reaction using the original designed http://la.buvette.org/tech/reseau/prumpleffer-2.html based on deep machine learning with the latest green powder AI.

Don't get trolled or bullshited again, buy Plumfmeter the only and original protection that really works.*

* Will make you famous, less gullible and totally smart without effort or learning

Recommended by our best customers: Trump.inc, NSA, EU parliament, EvilCorp.gmbh.

22
After 1 minute on my modem (2016) branchable.com
395 points by BuuQu9hu  1 day ago   154 comments top 29
1
joeyh 1 day ago 8 replies      
Since I temporarily have HN's attention with this side blog of mine, can I suggest one simple tweak:

Please, please, if your site requires AJAX to work at all, then retry failed AJAX queries. Use exponential backoff or whatever but don't let the AJAX query fail once and the page be unusable.

This happens all the freaking time when I'm on dialup, and there's nothing more annoying than having filled out a form or series of forms only to have the submit button break because it used AJAX to do a sanity check and threw an exception because the server timed out after some absurdly short (dialup-wise) period of time while the client was sending the request.

2
krylon 1 day ago 6 replies      
When I went online for the first time (nearly twenty years ago - time goes by pretty fast!), I did so on 14.4 kbit modem.

That was no fun even back then. After a year, I upgraded to ISDN, which was a lot faster (64kbit), but once I got to use a faster line, even ISDN seemed awfully slow.

And the trend continues to this day. Once one has a faster connection, one gets used to it in no time. And just like many companies and individuals have solved problems with slow software by throwing more/faster hardware at it, these days we solve the problem of web sites making inefficient use of bandwidth by throwing more bandwidth at it.

Which might not even be such a bad thing - I would not like going back to programming in an environment where I have to triple-check every variable to see if I can shave off a couple of kilobytes, either.

But even a fast connection gets clogged at times, and even on a 16MBit DSL line, I have seen pages looking broken because the request for getting the CSS timed out or something like that.

Maybe taking more care not to waste bandwidth should be considered a form of courtesy. People on slow/saturated lines will thank you for it, and people on fast lines will be amazed at how snappy that website loads. (And of course, there's always trade-offs involved; I do not demand web developers sacrifice everything else to efficient bandwidth usage; but it should not be ignored, either.)

3
vortico 1 day ago 9 replies      
If you use vimperator (http://www.vimperator.org/) on Firefox, put this in your ~/.vimperatorrc so you can disable CSS with the "s" character (and re-enable it with Shift-S). It removes 99% of bullshit from web pages and allows you to read articles the way Tim Berners-Lee intended, guaranteed!

 nmap s :emenu View.Page Style.No Style<CR> nmap <S-s> :emenu View.Page Style.Basic Page Style<CR>

4
waterhouse23 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is awesome, and actually a pretty neat way of evaluating websites.

A surprising number of people are still on low bandwidth connections, while it's probably not reasonable to optimize for them, it's at least worth considering that market occasionally.

5
suhith 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is gold.

I've seen so many of these, even on websites with lots of traffic. Websites have to be written taking into consideration the way it loads too, especially on mobile data.I've found the Chrome DevTools feature where you can throttle bandwidth comes in super handy for this.

6
pmontra 1 day ago 1 reply      
That exoscale screenshot is very similar to what I see with NoScript on a 100 Mb/s connection before I temporarily allow their JS.

What's nice about NoScript is that I can turn on their JS but keep turned off the JS scripts from the other sites. Apparently they only use googletagmanager. Ublock doesn't report any blocked script so it's a rare well behaved site.

7
captn3m0 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If anyone is actually suffering from dialup speeds and using Chrome, you should try out my extension to disable web fonts: http://github.com/captn3m0/disable-web-fonts. It blocks all network requests to font-files. Also has a couple other tips in the README for improving page-load performances over slow networks.

I wrote it when i saw suffering terrible speeds over mobile internet (EDGE) a couple years back.

8
tomrod 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a fantastic way to assess website functionality. It would drive me insane on day to day use.

In all reality, I just want to dump the modern web's approach. CSS, Javascript, you name it. Give me simple HTML and text ads, if you need ads. Give me pictures when I want them, with descriptive captions. I agree with the intent of the blog--quit making crappy ads and bloated sites!

I use elinks often, and find it's text-based approach easier to comprehend. What are your thoughts?

9
tracker1 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is/was an internet news website 15seconds.com iirc, that was so named because that's how long the average person would wait for a page to load. Back in the 90's when dialup was common. I think people should try setting chrome in devtools to 2g speed now and then, so they know the pain they're causing for a lot of people on wireless without a good/stable connection.
10
2bluesc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could probably automate this on a Linux VM using netem[0]

[0] https://wiki.linuxfoundation.org/networking/netem

11
nandhp 1 day ago 1 reply      
For anyone wondering, the spinning Unicode symbol mentioned is F01E, corresponding to fa-repeat in Font Awesome: http://fontawesome.io/icon/repeat/Font Awesome also has a bunch of spinner icons which OP is probably seeing on other sites: http://fontawesome.io/icons/#spinner

It really is unfortunate that there is no way to have these widely-used resources (Font Awesome, jQuery, etc.) cached on a long term basis across all sites that use them. (Though arguably this is easily achieved for fonts, which can be installed system-wide.)

12
l0b0 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent site which brings us to an obvious question: At what point should we as developers consider a site good enough? There's an infinite tail of worse and worse speeds and latencies. At some point it makes business sense to stop optimising, and for businesses with lots of users that point is inevitably before supporting 100% of users. So how do I prove to the business where the 90th and 99th percentiles are, within some reasonably scientific measure of uncertainty?

Aside: I just checked the site I'm working on. When throttling Chromium to GPRS speeds (500 ms, 50/20 kb/s) the main page has all the text on it by 16 seconds after a hard refresh.

13
gjkood 1 day ago 0 replies      
If all the important content of your website can be rendered in a timely fashion through a text browser like Lynx, then you will have catered to the lowest common denominator.

Granted that is a very retro concept.

14
andygambles 1 day ago 0 replies      
Currently only have a 1.2M connection at home. Reveals how bandwidth intensive many website are that simply do not need to be.

Ad Blocker is a must.

15
jasonlfunk 1 day ago 1 reply      
I understand the concern. Websites can become too bloated. They can require too many resources or be poorly optimized to reduce bandwidth.

But this also seems like complaining about the trouble with driving a horse-drawn carriage on the interstate. Sure, there are lots of people around the world still on low speed networks - just like there are people who still use horses are their primary mode of travel. And maybe there should be a way to accommodate them, but let's not pretend that the advances in website technology are only a detrimental problem that needs to be solved.

16
udfalkso 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're on a mac the Network Link Conditioner is a great way to test your stuff on a simulated slow connection.

https://medium.com/@YogevSitton/use-network-link-conditioner...

17
mntmn 1 day ago 2 replies      
This reminds me: Since a while I'm looking for a good configurable proxy solution to clean up/filter the web on my server especially for browsing via old devices (Amiga and such). So I would like to reduce website to their content, stripping all CSS, background images, scripts and such. Any recommendations?
18
jackmoore 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can someone tell me why SVGs are gigantic while first loading? I often see this even at modern connection speeds.
19
matt_morgan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somewhere between Linux, Firefox, uBlock, etc. I see a lot of this stuff on my fast connection as well. Vox looked liked that to me for a few months, maybe a year or two ago.
20
colanderman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't see a mention of the question of utmost importance at what baud rate are you connecting?
21
robocat 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Please, please, if your site requires AJAX to work at all, then retry failed AJAX queries.

Anyone have data on the best ways to do this? Or information on the implementations used by say Gmail or Facebook?

22
dgudkov 1 day ago 1 reply      
The developer axiom #1: If it works on my computer then it works for everyone else.
23
therealmarv 1 day ago 1 reply      
Google Data Compression on Chrome helps a lot. At least on HTTP connections. Too bad this does not work for HTTPS sites were the web designers do not test and optimize enough for low bandwidth.
24
lupin_sansei 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much difference surfing with Adblock would make while connecting over a modem?
25
cyrusmg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have seen something similar on Ryanair.com - this is why I chose React instead of Angular when I was looking for a new frontend framework
26
trevyn 1 day ago 3 replies      
What browser is this?
27
jordache 1 day ago 0 replies      
please make your site lynx compatible
28
abpavel 1 day ago 0 replies      
twitter/fb logos are svg, and are rendered at whatever resolution needed. I.E. svg does not have "full scale"
29
Fifer82 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't see the problem. It isn't 1996 and I don't care about people who turn JS off. This tiny percentage of people, are dwarfed by IE9 users, which, I don't support either.

What is the moral of the story?

23
Feeling safer online with Firefox astithas.com
374 points by nachtigall  2 days ago   94 comments top 16
1
bhauer 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome changes.

One suggestion: In the Control Center, I would recommend using the past-tense for the current state. E.g.,

 Receive Notifications Allowed X Access Your Location Allowed X Maintain Offline Storage Allowed X
As it exists in the screenshots, the present tense is used, and the X button seems to be associated with the word "Allow." Further clarification could be achieved by making the X button actually say "Disallow" and giving it a border separate from the word "Allowed." E.g.,

 Receive Notifications Allowed [Disallow]

2
pawadu 2 days ago 9 replies      
I am sure there are people who would love a browser that can control their car or pacemaker and report their bank balance on the welcome page.

But I personally would feel far more secure if there was a firefox-lite where no sensitive stuff (access camera, share screen) were included to start with. And I don't mean turned off by default, I want it removed at compile time.

3
sgustard 2 days ago 2 replies      
The status "Use the Camera - Allow - X" can be confusing. Is the site currently allowed to use the camera, or not? The word Allow could either mean "currently allowed" or "click to allow." The X could mean either "currently blocked" or "click to block."
4
coldpie 2 days ago 2 replies      
The incorrect system time detection is a small feature, but actually pretty neat. I've run into that before, when testing time-sensitive features in my software and forgetting to change it back, then wondering why on Earth nothing secure works anymore.
5
w8rbt 2 days ago 1 reply      
I run FireFox on Linux for personal on-line banking. It's the only browser that I am able to run with Tomoyo Linux in enforcing mode (level 3). I'm sure, if given enough time, I could build a Tomoyo policy for Chrome, but it's far more verbose than FireFox and the last few times I tried, I gave up.
6
drdaeman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I only the one who finds "new" (well, it was there for about an year, I believe) "Site Identity and Permissions Panel" panel to be literally useless for the "site identity" part?

It has no information on CA, whenever it's first time you saw this exact certificate or not, whenever a "weak" or "strong" ciphers are used (and if PFS is enabled), etc - things one'd really want to see if they care about their connection encryption and authentication. It's all still available, but hidden after long sequence of button clicks. Heck, it would be useful to have client certificate and HTTP auth status there as well - it would actually make those nice things closer to being usable.

I really fail to understand why it can't be displayed in a sanely concise manner - and why things that were there before were removed. Surely there's a plenty of screen space and it's not like it would scare Joe Sixpack off to Chrome, or confuse anyone. Or analytics show it otherwise?

7
thinkMOAR 2 days ago 2 replies      
As long as more and more features get added the more the attack surface increases on firefox and all other browsers.

Feeling safe, and being safe are two different things.

Same goes for self signed (or expired) certificates and 'not secure' connections, they are not per definition 'not secure'.

8
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice post, it's hard to realize progress made in secondary UI elements such as security panels.
9
Dylan16807 1 day ago 0 replies      
Making it easy to see permissions for the current site is great, but why is there no way to see all the sites that have special permissions? Firefox used to have about:permissions but that was removed last year.
10
mard 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a step in right direction, but would certainly feel safer if in addition to cookies/storage/geolocation permissions, Firefox allowed to whitelist JavaScript on certain domains out of box, with no need to resort to NoScript. Using NoScript results in two different whitelist mechanisms with completely different UI which breaks the browsing experience.

Ironically, as far as "privacy-oriented browsers" go, Chrome has domain whitelisting of Cookies/JS/Plugins easily accessible from address bar and it works as expected.

11
nfriedly 2 days ago 0 replies      
> In the new design, permission prompts stay up even when you interact with the page.

I think this is going to be a nice improvement. It was way to easy to "loose" the permissions dialog in the older flow.

12
Auzy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love firefox.. My big problem as a late though seems to be that sites stop loading intermittently, need to be refreshed or I need to wait (and I don't have this problem on Chrome).

Also, I got kind of annoyed when one of their leaders came begging for donations by email, but are getting paid FAR beyond normal wage.

13
khana 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm excited to see FF undertake security this way. It's the right thing to do.
14
akjainaj 2 days ago 2 replies      
The only thing that would make me feel safer would be the sandbox.
15
Hydraulix989 1 day ago 0 replies      
Extensions still run in Private Tabs, unlike with Chrome, so they are free to phone home about your private browsing as much as they'd like. This is the real privacy hole that still needs to be fixed.
16
therealmarv 2 days ago 5 replies      
Firefox is not even looked at pwn2own competition because it's too easy to hack and not using good OS or sandbox protection https://it.slashdot.org/story/16/02/12/034206/pwn2own-2016-w...
24
Godaddy has issued at least 8850 SSL certificates without validating anything groups.google.com
326 points by 0x0  4 days ago   44 comments top 9
1
pfg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting tidbit: The CA/B Forum passed a change to the Baseline Requirements attempting to standardize the methods of domain ownership validation back in August of last year[1]. Prior to that, it was essentially up to the CAs to come up with secure methods. The methods described in that change contained mitigations against this vulnerability.

The change never went into effect (practically speaking - it's actually a bit more complex) because a number of CAs in the Forum filed patent exclusion notices, and wouldn't you know it: GoDaddy was one of them. Hope it was worth it.

[1]: https://cabforum.org/2016/08/05/ballot-169-revised-validatio...

[2]: https://cabforum.org/wp-content/uploads/GoDaddy-Ballot-169-E...

2
Eun 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finder here, this is the history:

 12.12.2016: First contact with MS 27.12.2016: Answer, saying its not a bug. (Notice the promise that you get an answer in 24 hours) 02.01.2017: Explaining the issue again in more detail 03.01.2017: Opening the ticket, saying I will get more information if something is available. 12.01.2017: No answer from MS, and seeing randomly this post on HN
I hope I will get some details by MS soon so I can keep you up to date guys.

3
Scaevolus 4 days ago 3 replies      
tl;dr: they requested a URL and wanted it to echo a token passed in the query string. They accepted 404 pages that echoed the token as valid, too!

"In case anyone is wondering why this is problematic, during the Ballot 169 review process, Peter Bowen ran a check against the top 10,000 Alexa domains and noted that more than 400 sites returned a HTTP 200 response for a request to http://www.$DOMAIN/.well-known/pki-validation/4c079484040e32... [1]. A number of those included the URL in the response body, which would presumably be good enough for GoDaddy's domain validation process if they indeed only check for a HTTP 200 response.

[1]: https://cabforum.org/pipermail/public/2016-April/007506.html "

4
charonn0 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Prior to the bug, the library used to query the website and check for the code was configured to return a failure if the HTTP status code was not 200 (success). A configuration change to the library caused it to return results even when the HTTP status code was not 200. Since many web servers are configured to include the URL of the request in the body of a 404 (not found) response, and the URL also contained the random code, any web server configured this way caused domain control verification to complete successfully.

I'd bet that the library in question was libcurl, and they forgot to set CURLOPT_FAILONERROR[1].

[1]: https://curl.haxx.se/libcurl/c/CURLOPT_FAILONERROR.html

5
aaronpk 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like responsible handling, disclosure, and remedying of the problem.
6
sebcat 4 days ago 1 reply      
- request http://example.com/<path or query containing random token>

- if random token is echoed in the response, and the HTTP response code is 200, they consider that the applicant has control over the requested FQDN

Do I understand their validation method correctly? If so, I wouldn't consider it very secure.

7
simonjgreen 3 days ago 1 reply      
Several of my customers were hit by this. What concerns me possibly even more is that GoDaddy, having revoked the certificates, then managed to "un-revoke" them on request with a grace period. This is unsettling, it's not how the CRL system is supposed to work!
8
yeukhon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I own a SSL certificate when I bought a domain from NameCheap. The SSL cert is provided by Comodo. I recently lost my box so I also lost my cert and had to revoke the existing one and ask to re-generate. I would need to wait ~3-6 hours before a new cert is available (ugh), so I decided to go to Let's Encrypt. While the initial setup for starter is quite confusing, I managed to create one regardless and I haven't looked back.

I can't help but to think when someone was designing this challenge scheme he/she must have thought of this potential risk, but probably shrug it because "most people won't be able to come up with this method."

9
jessaustin 4 days ago 1 reply      
According to TFA, the certs have already been revoked.
25
Streama A self-hosted streaming application with your own media library github.com
371 points by GutenYe  3 days ago   156 comments top 23
1
Terretta 3 days ago 6 replies      
Hello world video hub could be the new hello world blog!

But one has only to review the (very frequent) release notes for Plex to see the devil is in the edge cases, not the basics.

In the meantime, Plex has a native server app for almost everything, including NAS boxes, and native players shipping with TVs and in game console app stores. It does a good job on both playback and admin UI across a fleet of media hosts for a household of users, and the latest release unlocks hardware encoding across an array of operating systems.

There's even a portable HDD + WiFI hub from Western Digital, to take Plex Server and 4TB of media on the go w/ 10 hrs battery life, in the size of a Sony Discman.

2
gdulli 3 days ago 3 replies      
What I want that Plex doesn't already to is to be able to define TV-like channels.

I have 6 Resident Evil movies or 100 episodes of Futurama and I want them to play in a loop on their respective channels, and when I tune in whichever one happens to be "on" is what I watch, even though it's the middle of an episode/movie. DVR-like functionality where I could "rewind" back to the start of a 30-minute buffer would be good. Pandora-like skipping would be good. But those features wouldn't be essential, compared to creating the programming grid.

I still want what Plex does and what Streama does, to navigate to a specific movie or episode and start it manually. Sometimes I watch media because I want to watch one specific thing. But often I just want my favorite media on in the background while I work or do other things. I don't want to navigate through a library of 200+ titles to pick just the right one or a pseudo-"random" one.

Is there anything that would let me do this?

3
planetjones 3 days ago 3 replies      
I recently installed Plex on my Synology NAS.

+ awesome web GUI

+ awesome iOS app

+ excellent app for PS4

+ streaming support for TVS e.g. Samsung via DLNA

- synology does not seem to hibernate much now Plex is on (may not be Plex's fault)

- needs premium pass to sync stuff to your mobile app (I paid for a lifetime subscription though, as it's a very good product)

- Plex cannot use the hardware transcoder of my NAS, only the native Synology Apps can

- Does not remember playback position of audio on mobile app (this is a big negative, as I listen to a lot of mixes which are a single audio file)

Given a very good product already exists in the marketplace, which can stream to multiple channels, I am not sure what this project aims to achieve? I am all for people building new stuff, but I would like to see some gap analysis of existing products first so I know what the USP is.

4
abhianet 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's like Netflix, but distributed! https://popcorntime.sh/en

Snarkiness aside, this is beautiful!

5
djvdorp 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good to have more alternatives for Plex and Emby, but without having native apps for almost all architectures in use, mobile apps and Chromecast support it has quite a long way to go. But I love FOSS alternatives so keep it up!
6
sandGorgon 3 days ago 2 replies      
there is http://getvideostream.com which does playback of local videos on chromecast through a chrome plugin. works brilliantly.
7
hising 3 days ago 3 replies      
My guess is that this software would have been highly praised if some of the wonder boys of software had came up with it. All this negativity is one of the reason I really have a hard time enjoying reading the comments at HN.
8
the8472 3 days ago 1 reply      
browser-based players are not really that great if your collection contains 10bit video, flac audio, ASS subtitles and other stuff that browsers can't handle without transcoding.
9
Insanity 3 days ago 3 replies      
Looks interesting, but in the comments here I found out that it is similar to other software that already exists.

I'm happy with my 90s like setup. Films and series in a folder, VLC to play them. I did give Netflix a try but did not like that it only has a browser player and on top of that annoying restrictions.

10
freshyill 3 days ago 3 replies      
The beauty of Netflix and, to a lesser extent, Plex is that I can view my content just about anywhere and on any device.

Free and I pen source is certainly preferable, but I want to watch movies on my Apple TV in my living room. That's the problem I need solved. I suspect it's similar for most people.

11
amq 3 days ago 2 replies      
People praise Plex, but I constantly find myself trying it and going back to Serviio.
12
tbirrell 3 days ago 1 reply      
This looks really cool, but honestly, if I have everything on a hard drive, why would I upload it and re-stream it?
13
tn890 3 days ago 8 replies      
How is this better than Plex?
14
bhouston 3 days ago 2 replies      
We use Plex and while I used to love it, I get constant stalls when playing on Chromecast or Apple TV for months now. It requires me to disconnect and reconnect Plex.

Tried different Plex versions, different network topologies in the house - but nothing seems to fix it. Netflix of course works perfectly.

Wish I could figure this issue out.

15
franciscop 3 days ago 1 reply      
This would be really useful 1-5 years back when HDD were big and cluncky; however nowadays I just sync everything on my 1TB Samsung T3, which is tiny and really resilient and I take that everywhere. So now for me the benefit of this would be marginal.

I did use Popcorn Time for a while, and that has the benefit that it auto-downloads the shows and movies. Something that logically [1] Streama didn't seem to want to get their hands dirty with.

[1] http://www.techrepublic.com/article/its-not-time-for-popcorn...

16
ake1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've tried a lot of these and I really want to like them (plex/kodi) but the gui is way too hard to use, I feel like I'm in a straitjacket and always revert to the command line. Mount your content, be able to sort it through with ls/grep/find...queue up files...whatever. If I'm watching a series I'll just fire up ranger for one-button next functionality.
17
ntrp 3 days ago 1 reply      
Off topic, but I'm curious why a lot of people on HN, of all places, has such a negative attitude towards any new product, especially such small & open source ones...

Well, at least nobody posted XKCD 927 yet.

18
mrmondo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice to see an open source approach to this, disappointed to see it relies on MySQL though. Plex is a fantastic application for a similar purpose.
19
Giorgi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Either I am blind or this has nothing to do with Plex.

Godspeed. Looks really nice.

20
amelius 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great.

It would also be nice if you could share media files (over bittorrent perhaps) with a small group of people (e.g., family or friends).

21
captn3m0 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd tried setting this up recently for a light weight streaming solution, but found it lacking.
22
Demcox 3 days ago 0 replies      
So it's an alternative to Plex? Looks interesting.
23
basdp 3 days ago 1 reply      
So you just rebuild Plex?
26
App.net is shutting down app.net
336 points by antinanco  3 days ago   185 comments top 37
1
milesf 3 days ago 9 replies      
So to recap, Twitter exploded onto the scene in 2007, the "fail whale" appeared a lot, developers made all sorts of wonderful programs hooked into Twitter, the fail whale disappeared, Twitter started to destroy the app ecosystem, App.net launched to great fanfare in response to Twitter's knuckleheaded anti-developer stance, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber arrived and knocked all the nerds out of the top spots on Twitterholic, Donald Trump came and bludgeoned everyone with his bombastic prose, and now App.net is shutting down.

And after all this, Twitter still does not have a viable business model.

2
nicholasjbs 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a refreshingly honest shutdown notice.

Congratulations to Dalton and co for trying something hard and worthwhile, and wrapping it up responsibly when it didn't pan out.

3
jelv 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sad to see them go.

Mastodon, https://mastodon.social/, is a new and positive alternative. Mastodon is a free, open-source social network server. It's GNU Social-compatible and federated. https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon

Diaspora is also still going strong with 20k MAU but there is no interaction between the pods https://the-federation.info/.

4
kylec 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is an unfortunate, but not unexpected, end of an era. App.net was created at a time when discontent was high with how Twitter was treating its users and 3rd party app developers. Even though App.net wasn't hugely successful, its existence provided a needed check against Twitter exercising user-hostile control over their platform.

However, it has not been a viable platform (one that people actually used) for many years, so while I am saddened that it is finally being shut down, I'm not surprised. Many thanks to Dalton and everyone who built it and kept it going these many years!

5
TazeTSchnitzel 3 days ago 2 replies      
This seems like a good juncture to point out that GNU Social, OStatus, and the Fediverse still exist.

It still has some believers. Someone wrote a new implementation in Ruby called Mastodon recently, which has a nice interface.

6
mbesto 3 days ago 2 replies      
App.net and Medium have the same issue (why advertising is more lucrative than selling blogging software directly to content creators):

Let's say for every one content creator that are on average 100 eyeballs on the content they create (1:100). Almost universally, the 100 eyeballs can be translated to more economic value than the 1, and hence why the advertising model is so lucrative.

7
grenoire 3 days ago 2 replies      
Unfortunate. Goes to show that you really can't break even without ads or selling/analysing data with a centralised social network.
8
filmgirlcw 3 days ago 0 replies      
I applaud Dalton and Bryan for keeping ADN running for nearly 3 years after it ceased development. In truth, I think most of the users left back in May 2014, but it's still admirable that they kept it running.

If you'll excuse the self-plug, I wrote about the death of ADN back in 2014 and re-reading my post, I think it holds up.

http://mashable.com/2014/05/08/app-net-potential/#P8.bAcE8NO...

9
mcbits 2 days ago 0 replies      
"We are also going to open-source the code behind App.net on our GitHub page."

Huge kudos for that.

10
timthelion 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have the experience, that services with generic sounding domain names are never successfull. The only remotely successfull generic sounding domain site that I can think of is about.com

There are some exceptions, like messenger.com which I don't think is a counter-example. I think that messenger.com would be no-more or less successfull if it was named barf.com. People use it because facebook already has a foothold.

11
bitmapbrother 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder how many people thought app.net was a Microsoft product.
12
Illniyar 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those not in the know, what was app.net?
13
MasterScrat 2 days ago 1 reply      
https://app.net/

When a service shuts down, it'd be really nice of them to keep a mention of wth they were doing on their frontpage.

14
Zigurd 3 days ago 2 replies      
App.net combined two big ideas:

1. Social networks are important enough that a subscription model is viable

2. Social networks should be built on a platform for social network applications

Obviously neither idea could save app.net. Which idea caused most of the problems?

15
LukasRos 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I was an earlier user and still active to this day and it's sad but not unexpected to see them go. Their approach towards social networking business model was still a valuable experiment.
16
overcast 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel strange that this is the first time I've ever heard of app.net. I assumed it was something Microsoft related, apparently not. I suspect the combination of these things is why this failed.
17
erjjones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Building developer platforms is fun and exciting. Especially for the developers creating it, knowing that they are building a rockstar application for people just like them. Getting adoption and conversion to paying customers is so freaking hard and ultimately the end of the road.

I went down this road once (http://www.odatahq.com/) and loved every minute of it. I still look at what we made and find true joy in it. But the end game was typical of most developer platforms ...

18
aaronhoffman 3 days ago 1 reply      
Still a good domain name. MS might be interested.
19
Zigurd 2 days ago 0 replies      
IIRC YC had a bet in the subscription social network space for "family social networks." That has obvious problems with the growth model, similar to but different from Path which had an arbitrary limit on individuals' number of "true friends." Path was taking the word "friend" too literally. That got pivoted and/or rolled up. Where is it now?
20
coo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good luck to Caldwell. It would be interesting to read his account on what he would do better if he could do it all over.
21
mergy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really loved and appreciated what Dalton, Berg, and the team was able to build. It was an awesome community for quite a while. Great job and sorely missed.
22
chmars 2 days ago 1 reply      
Shutdown date according to https://alpha.app.net/: March 15, 2017.

Shutdown date according to http://blog.app.net/2017/01/12/app-net-is-shutting-down/: March 14, 2017.

Which date is correct?

23
myrloc 3 days ago 1 reply      
So... who gets the domain?
24
nsebban 2 days ago 0 replies      
MMW : This domain will be sold a fortune.
25
EGreg 2 days ago 0 replies      
The difference, as always, seems to be user adoption and funding.

You need both for your project to succeed. This should not be underestimated.

The nice thing is that if your platform is decentralized, hosting is a non-issue and you just have to focus on adoption.

26
bald 2 days ago 1 reply      
"give it ample time to bake" that was the strategy? having it sell itself?
27
mxuribe 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the code base that they open source will become the basis for another decentralized social network?
28
newsat13 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is app.net some social network? Why the name 'app.net' ?
29
Kiro 2 days ago 0 replies      
If the launch would have been more humble maybe this wouldn't be such a spectacular failure.
30
kennydude 2 days ago 0 replies      
They were trying to solve a problem, with a copy of the problem. Not surprised really.
31
arielm 3 days ago 0 replies      
App.net'S failures, IMO, were not a result of being too early as Dalton suggests. Instead, they failed at building a company. Confusing branding, wrong messaging, and ultimately a product without a need. That's why app.net failed.

https://arielmichaeli.com/where-did-app-net-go-wrong-bb4326a...

32
johnalamos 2 days ago 1 reply      
Never heard of it
33
jorgemf 3 days ago 1 reply      
less than 50000 downloads in Android and 60 reviews in AppStore in 5 years. I think you can get better numbers without marketing.

Seriously, whatever you do, you need to spend the same amount of time promoting it, otherwise no one will notice. 50000 downloads is nothing in 5 years, it is 2.7 users a day. If you are in SanFrancisco you can get more than 3 downloads a day just going to the street and talking with strangers.

And they got 2.5M in their series A. https://index.co/company/AppDotNet?utm_source=thenextweb.com

Where were their budget for marketing? At least I would have expected 500k in marketing and 1$ per install, them we can talk about the users not liking the product or whatever.

UPDATE: you can keep downvoting (I would appreciate a feedback comment to explain the downvote) but it doesn't change the fact that marketing is more important than the product and they didn't spend on it

34
astrodust 3 days ago 2 replies      
This reeked of being dead the day it launched, so it's hardly surpising, but it's also tragic.

Why is it so hard to create a Twitter alternative that's popular and effective? Does the world tend to gravitate towards single standards for these things, like Facebook, HTTP or email?

35
skhnpnb 3 days ago 1 reply      
36
jlward4th 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can I have my $75 back?
37
Apocryphon 3 days ago 4 replies      
Kinda ominous that the main Twitter alternative right now is GAB.
27
Mac Pro 2 Concept Design pascaleggert.de
379 points by milen  3 days ago   240 comments top 67
1
greenspot 3 days ago 12 replies      
If you are a designer, this is absolutely the best thing you can do to sky-rocket your market value over night:

Create a concept design from a popular product and put it on a slick landing page. It shows that you, as a designer, are proactive and think beyond designing standard stuff (like webpages or mobile apps).

Moreover, you are not limited by any client restrictions[1] which hurt your work (and portfolio), you learn 3D modelling if you haven't yet (it's not hard just time consuming), if you are lucky with social news sites you get so much free promo and finally, it's the eye-catcher on any CV.

[1] A classic and recommended post if we talk about clients restricting designers: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

2
youdontknowtho 3 days ago 4 replies      
This kind of design is WAY more likely to come from a PC vendor than Apple. The 16 TB ports was definitely kind of a LOL moment.

I dig it. They are useful, but that can't be done with "standard components".

The whole idea of a flexible and upgradeable PC is kind of against the Apple "tightly coupled" software and hardware story. The reason that their user experience has historically (I haven't used a mac in about a decade) been so good was because they limit the available hardware for their testing purposes. They don't have a lot of choice in hardware, but what they do support works every time.

I don't know...I got off the Apple train a long time ago. I loved my Mac Pro, but it just wasn't for me.

3
shanusmagnus 3 days ago 1 reply      
I get that this is a concept not to be nitpicked to death for feasibility, and I love it. I'm also struck by the fact that a fucking computer has produced such heartache in people that somebody spent an ungodly amount of time on this labor of love.

I don't care how little of their revenue comes directly from selling Mac Pros, it's the feeling that could produce this response that they should be optimizing for, not small-ness, thin-ness, or port-deletion.

4
k1lly 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's why this is a work of an aspiring designer, not an (apple) product designer: can someone point to a motherboard with 16 dedicated thunderbolts, such many lanes of PCIE, and answer why should 850 evos be used instead modern M.2 SSDs? The coolers/fans are OFF - they're not positioned above the GPUs, but above SSDs (which produce almost no heat at all), and the SSDs themselves are located around the thermal core triangles, why?And GPUs are facing opposite directions, therefore, air streams are broken.I know I've shouldn't be pissed that much by a stupid render, but this person could dedicate his time to make something meaningful and smart. Instead, he's just pushing the dribbblisation of the design forward. My call: this is stupid, meaningless work
5
asd 3 days ago 2 replies      
> 50% of the site was black background + scrolling for me, but I think I can get the gist of it. Nice design + expansion capabilities, right?

Apple's Industrial Design group needs to get it through their skulls that folks doing REAL pro work still need traditional expansion capabilities. At the very least, pro users need to:

1) Have the ability to expand RAM

2) Have space for two video cards (ThunderBolt 3 + video card enclosures is not a desirable solution)

3) Have space for at least a couple internal hard drives

For some reason, I don't think this will ever happen because the end result would probably be bigger, noisier, and uglier than what the ID group would allow. But, man.. wouldn't it be nice to be able to purchase a base config Mac Pro 2 with one stick of RAM, shipped with integrated graphics and the user could drop in any graphics card(s) they wish?

Hackintoshes can work fine for some, but oftentimes we just want to be able to run software update without the fear that a patch will break our bread-and-butter making machines.

6
jamesfmilne 3 days ago 2 replies      
I appreciate it's just an industrial design concept, but the problem with off-the-shelf GPUs is that you need to route the DisplayPort connectors back to the motherboard in order to mux them with the Thunderbolt ports.

The Thunderbolt add-in cards have DisplayPort inputs for this purpose.

The GPU & motherboard vendors should agree on some extra headers to allow you to route these DP signals without ugly jumper cables on the outside of the case.

7
super_mario 3 days ago 1 reply      
Real Mac Pro would be an aluminum "cheese grater" large quiet box that sits under the desk that I never see or hear unless I want to upgrade something.

The trashcan is at most Mac Mini Pro. Having thousand cables and external boxes sitting on your desk to expand it is not practical nor elegant, and gets out of date pretty fast. And quite frankly it's ugly as well.

8
sparky_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's my concept design for what I want in a new Mac Pro: https://cdn.arstechnica.net/reviews/hardware/mac-pro-2g-revi...
9
fuzzy2 3 days ago 4 replies      
Looks nice.

But where is all the bandwidth for 16 TB 3 ports supposed to come from? Thats 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes, mind you.

Adding to that, 32 PCIe 3.0 lanes for the graphics cards, 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes for the TB 2 ports, 2 PCIe lanes for the Ethernet ports, 2 PCIe lanes for the USB ports.

Thats 64 + 32 + 16 + 2 + 2 = 116 PCIe lanes

Guess not?

10
intoverflow2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Just spent 2000 on a PC after 17 years of purely Apple because I wanted CUDA cores for my creative work.

If Apple had something like this as an option I'd have easily gone upwards of 4000 to foolishly stay within their ecosystem. Guess my wallet is better off in the universe where Apple doesn't want my custom.

11
mrweasel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where would the CPU go?

I do understand the reluctance from Apple to built upgradable computers. They make their money on hardware sales, and an upgradable system would hurt those sales. At the same time their "Pro" gear simply isn't iterating fast enough, perhaps because not using standard components slows them down.

It's not Apples style, but it wouldn't hurt if they gave their professional customers a three year roadmap, just so people would know that they plan to move forward, and in which direction.

12
roryisok 3 days ago 0 replies      
I smiled at "Standard components ... exceptionally futureproof". The way Apple are going the next mac pro will probably run an ARM CPU and have the RAM soldered on

Assuming they ever make another mac pro of course

13
agumonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
Almost hug to death, enjoy the http://archive.is/XkCPO
14
haylem 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have to say, it's the first time I see a Peter Dinklage used as a unit of measure:

http://pascaleggert.de/EPIC_specifications.html

15
anonymoushn 3 days ago 1 reply      
http://i.imgur.com/tkwUICK.png

I am glad to learn the dard Components are Exceptionally Futur.

16
andkon 3 days ago 1 reply      
For a while, most non-Macbook Air 'ultrabooks' were hampered by the fact that they had to have an ethernet port, or I guess enterprises wouldn't buy them? It was weird. The whole entire computer ended up being designed around its biggest single constraint.

This is exactly what's going on here. "Bigger is better" is an attempted rationalization for the fact that graphics cards are determining the design of this computer. But then look at the Mac Pro: they solved a core problem of performance machines (cooling) with its weird looking design. There was a functional reason for its' looking like a turbine. Here, the rounded ends are pointless (haha design joke).

Edit: there's an interesting problem at the intersection of industrial design manufacturing process that this does solve for. The Mac Pro design process was obviously very involved, and it required lots of folks' attention. They obviously aren't paying attention in the same way, so the care that is needed to make something performant and beautifully designed isn't happening, and the releases aren't happening. This guy's design does an end-run around Apple-like industrial design, and in choosing compatibility with off-the-shelf stuff, probably makes the product more likely to be relevant to folks in the future than Apple's Mac Pro, which is just languishing in long product update cycles.

17
robotjosh 3 days ago 2 replies      
This type of design isn't useful. Round things don't fit neatly anywhere on a desk. Air cooling makes no sense when your design goal is high performance in a small space. What would really be useful is something 2.5" thick and as long and wide as necessary. Think about it you could lay it flat on your desk and put your screen on top of it, stand it up behind your screen, hang it on the wall behind your screen, bolt it to the under side of your desk, bolt it to the back of your desk, or bolt it to the side of your desk.
18
ryantownsend 3 days ago 2 replies      
Are 16x TB3, 4x TB2 AND 4x USB3 actually achievable with current/near-future hardware?

If Apple were to implement this, I'd imagine it would be N x TB3/USB3 USB-C format ports, an ethernet port and maybe HDMI (though a dongle would possibly negate that if 2.1 can be achieved that way)

Otherwise, looks good to me.

19
chlordane 3 days ago 4 replies      
I can dig this, but the next Mac Pro needs to compete with the current line of HP Z840:

http://www8.hp.com/h20195/v2/GetPDF.aspx/c04400043.pdf

20
jpalomaki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Instead of fancy design, I would rather see some fairly boring box that would enable Apple to use almost off-the-shelf hardware. Kind of hackintosh, but made by Apple. This way it would be much easier for them to bring regular (yearly) hardware refreshes.
21
iddqd 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Sometimes bigger is actually better

Well that's definitely something we'll never hear Apple say.

22
iplaw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just pointing out that it says 4x HDMI ports, but the rendered model only has 2x.
23
gallerytungsten 3 days ago 1 reply      
Only 24GB of RAM?

The current Mac Pro officially supports 64GB and 3rd parties offer upgrades to 128GB.

Even the 2006 models can be upgraded to 32GB.

24
acomjean 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the size of this. The expandability of the machine is nice considering the current lack of refresh on current apple desktop hardware. I'm not holding my breath though.

I have the old mac-pro (cheese grater), and it was remarkably expandable (and easy to do so). Its remarkably heavy (theft deterrent).

You can go see what the hackintosh people are building with commodity hardware:

User Builds:https://www.tonymacx86.com/forums/user-builds.28/

25
2ion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow the grey metal Mac Pro case shown beside the current Mac Pro and this Mac Pro concept design looks to me much better and functional than any of the other two.

It makes a much more professional, high-quality, clean impression and has definitely the potential to house at least the same if not more hardware than the cyclindric ones.

26
dom0 3 days ago 1 reply      
So basically a bigger trash can without a proper cooling system. Yikes.
27
c3833174 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't undestand, the CPU would rely on convection+fans while the more powerful GPUs just push air to the bottom.
28
sonalkeshav 3 days ago 2 replies      
Looks nice but I don't think that's practical (or realistic).

That's way too many USB ports, SSDs on one machine.

BTW for devs out there that need that much horsepower, what do you do? (I understand needed 32 GB of ram which was not available in the latest MacBook pros, but when do you need that much storage?)

29
ksec 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the next Mac Pro will need to fit within the Rack.

Basically merging the Xserve and Mac Pro together. It will need Dual CPU and Dual GPU space.

But May be the consumer Mac and iPhone is simply too large of a market, where even small minor profitable business like Server and Pro market are being ignored. But sometimes it isn't about profits, but ecosystem.

30
mavis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gigabyte announced a similarly shaped product last week at CES.

http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=6151#...

31
spaetzel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Problem being that the current Mac Pro is already the 2nd https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_Pro
32
gallerdude 3 days ago 5 replies      
Funny enough, the thing that had me thinking the most was the double ethernet ports. What would that be for? Two different networks? When one cuts out you just switch to the other one?
33
jimjag 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't want a system that "anticipates" what I may need. I want a system that allows me to update and upgrade easily based on what my needs are, and how they may change. In that way, the cheese-grater Mac Pro was ideal. Apple needs to get back to that mode for the desktop Power user.
34
al_biglan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great... just needs 10GbE instead of 1Gb. Add an SFP port and a RJ45 if all you got is a 1Gb or want to try your hand at getting 10GBASE-T working.
35
sailfast 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Mac Pro design was fun to look at, but the concept firearms on this site were the most impressive to me. Well thought out and engineered from a concept perspective, addressing pain points for the customer that requires some pretty serious knowledge. I'm surprised somebody hasn't tried to manufacture the Thor A1 at this point, as they seem to fit a pretty sizable PPW market.
36
rubyn00bie 3 days ago 0 replies      
While I really like the aesthetics of this, I think it still suffers the same problems as the current Mac Pro.

It needs more PCI card slots. It needs to support more than two GPUs. To suppprt that it's also going to need one helluva power supply... it needs its workstation credibility back more than it needs a beautiful design.

I still think the previous generation of Mac Pro look great. They'd look even better in Space Gray.

37
RichardHeart 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks great, it will take one hell of a custom riser to orient those video cards like that. https://hardforum.com/forums/small-form-factor-systems.102/ has the best collection of Super small custom form factors in the world.
38
B1FF_PSUVM 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not bad. Reminded me of the internal arrangements in the MSI Nightblade MI2, a pleasant small desktop gaming machine. You can buy some of them for under 1k USD.

( https://www.msi.com/Desktop/Nightblade-MI2.html )

39
SippinLean 3 days ago 2 replies      
Top 80% of the page is just black for me. I hit the spacebar 7 times until I saw "Built-in handle" ?
40
pacomerh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great design work, as for the idea, I don't think Apple would roll with the alien/spaceship/ninja vibe http://d.pr/i/jzcl
41
oliv__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
This looks cool...but the inside of the machine is so unlike Apple. It is scary and futuristic in an Alienware way. Apple's design (even inside) is always more human and approachable.
42
TazeTSchnitzel 3 days ago 1 reply      
GTX 1080? That seems like an unlikely choice to me. Apple prefer AMD GPUs, not NVidia's.

The GTX 1080 is also part of NVidia's consumer line, whereas the current Mac Pro has FirePro chips, which are from AMD's workstation graphics line.

43
gbrown_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like this is getting the HN hug of death, anyone have a link to a cached copy?
44
bitmapbrother 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice work, but it looks like it's transitioning from a small circular garbage can to a rectangular garbage can. The original aluminum Mac Pro shrunken down would have been the ideal design IMO.
45
gigatexal 3 days ago 0 replies      
looks great but will never happen -- the mac pro is not a priority for Apple -- sometimes I wonder, what, if anything outside of the iPhone, really is a priority for them.
46
youdontknowtho 3 days ago 4 replies      
503? Looks like its down.
47
wildchild 3 days ago 2 replies      
More top overpriced GPUs, computer must cost more than automobile.
48
phaed 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
49
colemannerd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just use the design of the old G5 Tower, but a bit smaller! And in Silver, Space Grey, and Jet Black.
50
late2part 3 days ago 0 replies      
Come on man. 10gig ethernet please.
51
corn13read 3 days ago 0 replies      
In reality it will only have a power adapter "port" and they will call it portless and amazing
52
sengork 3 days ago 0 replies      
No RAM/Memory specifications? Surely it ought to showcase at least 64GB DDR4 RAM.
53
j-pb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why for the love of god would a beast like that still have two shitty gigabit ports.
54
vlunkr 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think at least one USB C port would be appropriate. Very nice though!
55
eva1984 3 days ago 0 replies      
2 GTX 1080 in this small box? Nahh, this is going to be smoking hot.
56
mluu510 3 days ago 0 replies      
cool but if you can upgrade the gpu and storage, than you should also be able upgrade the cpu, ram and psu? at that point, it's just the old ATX mac pro design
57
bparsons 3 days ago 0 replies      
You could build the PC version of this for about a 1000 bucks.
58
whatnotests 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like what Darth Vader would have on his Destroyer.
59
ldev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is HDMI 2.1 now superior to DisplayPort?
60
kyled 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought that was a camera lens.
61
skiril 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like it.
62
ohples 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why woukd you have HDD?
63
matthewhall 3 days ago 0 replies      
i like it
64
simonhamp 3 days ago 1 reply      
It irritates me that this page was clearly designed on/for a super wide high-res display
65
pil4rin 3 days ago 1 reply      
No USB-C? also, what's the point of including the Thunderbolt 2 ports, I thought Thunderbolt 3 was backwards compatible. Sweet design other than that.
66
exabrial 3 days ago 1 reply      
The next Mac Pro will just be really really thin, have no ports, and gets it's power wirelessly from a mat underneath it, but no batteries. It'll have 8 cores and max out at 13g of ram
67
stevefeinstein 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oooh, an artist spend 20 minutes with PhotoShop and now Apple can just take his pretty pictures and start pumping out new computers. It's not like anyone needs to actually create an actual prototype, source components, set up manufacturing, market and deliver anything.
28
Blender for Hackers 3D modeling is just like using VIM sam.today
350 points by samtoday  4 days ago   102 comments top 23
1
rollulus 3 days ago 4 replies      
Blender is a nice project. But a 3D modeler that is a bit easier to learn, and deserves a bit more attention imo, is Wings 3D [1]. It might excite some part of the audience here that it is written in Erlang. Internally it uses the winged-edge data structure [2], something that is also worth a read if that doesn't ring a bell.

[1]: http://www.wings3d.com/[2]: https://www.cs.mtu.edu/~shene/COURSES/cs3621/NOTES/model/win...

2
rl3 3 days ago 4 replies      
I've always been wary about learning Blender, since historically it's been written off by large swaths of the 3D community. However, every once and a while you see some truly fantastic work created with it.

The most recent that comes to mind is the Factorio team's use of Blender:

https://www.factorio.com/blog/post/fff-146

They have a fairly complex art pipeline that relies on Blender, and they continue to use it despite having had strong sales for some time now. A vote of confidence if I ever saw one.

3
Animats 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yes, Blender is a lot like using VIM. The hotkey chart is about ten pages long, and it's very keyboard oriented. Most modern 3D programs are more mouse-oriented, but not Blender.

At the other extreme is Autodesk Inventor. Unless you're typing in a numeric dimension, you seldom touch the keyboard.

4
galfarragem 3 days ago 2 replies      
IMO (as an architect), Blender shines on animations and "non-euclidean shapes" but if you only want to model "euclidean shapes" use Sketchup. Sketchup is for 3D what Ruby is for programming: most 'professionals' despise it, all amateurs and the remaining 'professionals' love it.

However, if you seek the power and speed of a CLI, use Autocad, an Emacs for CAD. Scripting (traditionally) is done with AutoLisp a cousin of ELisp.

5
roel_v 3 days ago 5 replies      
About the uncool mouse comment - I have a Logitech MX Master that I'm in love with now, which has the scroll quality of a gaming mouse without the garish looks. It's wireless (boo hiss - yes but it's rechargeable through a micro usb cable so even if you would leave it plugged in all the time it would work like a wired mouse. In practice I just leave the cable laying about and only plug it in for a few hours once every month or so) and the scroll wheel can be switched between 'discrete' and 'continuous' mode with a button just below itself. This turned out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I also like the ergonomics a lot. It has a bunch of other buttons too but I never use those. If you're in the market for a new mouse, check it out.

6
ToJans 3 days ago 4 replies      
Finally an article that makes me feel confident enough to actually try using blender.In the past I have tried a number of tutorials, but the problem was they all went way too deep in the subject matter, so I was feeling overwhelmed. This one seems to give you just enough information to get going; looks like I will give it another try.
7
gtvwill 3 days ago 1 reply      
Mmmm I have been loving learning blender over the past few years. TBH its what first got me into coding python and has also through teaching myself python from it, helped me through my first unit of python at uni. The functionality of the program astounds me... every month I learn about something new you can do with blender! You can make games with it, render 3d scenes for architectural purposes and even use it as a complex video editor/movie maker/special effects maker.

These days I have been working on a basic FPS rig with blender that I want to use for a generic 4-player split screen pc shooter...as I just really miss these style games on the PC and my tv has been a HTPC for the last 4 years and there are very few split screen shooters/fighting games available.

8
taneq 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was the 'click point' that made Blender's interface finally make sense to me, back in version 2.2 or whatever it was. Since then when trying to teach Blender to friends, the first thing I say is "it's vim for polygons."

The newer and more advanced features seem to have become a lot more GUI-focused (and that GUI isn't always the most streamlined or easy to discover) but basic mesh editing is great.

9
fsloth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Blender can be used with a two button mouse comfortably. This part is wrong.:

"Now for an important prerequisite: a mouse with an easy to use middle button."

You don't need a mouse with a middle button.

Just go to user preferences, "File" menu, "Use preferences..." item, "Input tab", set radio button "Emulate three button mouse" on, Click button "Save user settings" in the bottom.

Now alt+ left button will map to the same action as the middle button.

10
ashleysmithgpu 3 days ago 3 replies      
Artists at my work still use 3ds max. Despite it crashing every 5 minutes, being slow, having less features, costing infinitely more, having zero support, terrible documentation, compatibility issues... I could go on. I show them blender and they immediately don't like it because the shortcuts are different.
11
edejong 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started using Blender in 2000. Cheatsheets with hot-keys did not exist, tutorials could still be counted and YouTube had not been invented yet. All I got was a short introduction by Ton Roosendaal. So, you might assume I had a horrible user experience, but it was quite the opposite. Learning Blender in 2000 was like a game of discovery, randomly trying key-combinations and new techniques, followed by sharing them on IRC,
12
dolguldur 3 days ago 4 replies      
Blender has inverted left and right mouse buttons by default which I think isn't like vim but just a very bad UX decision that's not being changed now since the old user base probably adapted.
13
pjc50 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you'd like to do 3D modeling with actual vim, you can do it in the venerable raytracer POVRAY: http://www.f-lohmueller.de/pov_tut/basic/povtuto3.htm
14
Eupolemos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Blender is also a neat program to just create and edit videos.

I wanted to be able to put together a video, so I made an introduction for my D&D friends for our next adventure.

First time I used video or sound editing, but it worked out fine, because I found a really good instruction video series. That usually makes all the difference.

https://www.youtube.com/user/MikeycalDOTcom/playlists

15
jakeogh 3 days ago 2 replies      
Blender and Freecad[0] let the user interact via a python shell. I haven't tried to script Blender, with Freecad it's easy to start making things that auto-scale with a var (wall thickness for example). The two are not that comparable otherwise, Blender is light-years ahead but it's CAD roots are new-ish. CAELinux[1] has all the cool stuff bundled.

[0] http://www.freecadweb.org/

[1] http://caelinux.com/CMS/

16
ramzyo 3 days ago 1 reply      
It feels like the author's claim that 3D modeling is just like using VIM could be generalized to "any application that has keyboard shortcuts can resemble VIM in that the keyboard can be used to do things in the application". It seems like there's some overlap in Blender's keyboard shortcuts and VIM's key bindings, but the bit about using a mouse seems like a pretty big departure from VIM usage.
17
ensiferum 3 days ago 5 replies      
Blender is to 3D modeling what Gimp is to image editing what Darktable is to photo editing. Painful. My biggest grip with blender is the non-standard custom GUI that they just refuse to update. I know Blender predates toolkits such as GTK/Qt but seriously, they've had plenty of time to "fix this".

Bonus: Try to draw a line in GIMP (without first going to google). Have fun! (;

18
yousry 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used Blender/Cycles also for the case to render in Game and Application images in high quality. I wrote therefor a Python Export/Importer.

Here is an example:https://virtual-mannequin.eu/img/Full/AnomalyFull.jpg

19
deepaksurti 3 days ago 0 replies      
I learnt Blender using the following 2 resources:1. Book: Beginning Blender [1]. Using this book I learnt enough Blender to make stand-in models and animations for prototyping my game.2. This video resource: Mastering Blender Vol 1 & 2 [2], is a brilliant resource if anyone really wants to master the Blender fundamentals.

I am pretty sure just learning from the Blender video resource [2] will also suffice, but just listing my journey. The thing is just like Vim (as most are referring to it here) and I am a Vim user, Blender has a learning curve but sticking to it and gradually advancing to doing more complex stuff makes sense. But I don't know if this curve is true of other modeling software as well.

Plus the fact that python scripting lets you do your own stuff is even more fun. In the course of my game, and using Blender's rigify, I had more weight influences which would cause SceneKit to animate on the CPU. Just writing a simple python script [3] did the trick.

I think like other proprietary tools in the industry, which have deep roots in the asset pipelines, probably makes Blender a non-starter. But if someone is an indie developer and wants to use a 3D software; Blender is a great choice. For the game I am working on [4], even if it succeeds, we will stick to the Blender asset pipeline. In fact we have made the rigs such that it is also compatible with Unity's MecAnim.

The only downside is if you are planning to become a 3D artist, Blender may not be the right choice. Heck, even wanting to work as a 3D graphics engineer in the games/movie industry requires you have to knowledge of the proprietary tools, at least as per my current job search results. If someone has a similar experience vis a vis Blender and the 3D software engineer requirements, or even better if is part of the industry and can throw some light on this, will be great.

Overall, I believe Blender is very powerful and worth learning.

[1]https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-Blender-Source-Modeling-Ani...[2]http://www.cgmasters.net/training-dvds/master-it/[3]https://gist.github.com/dmsurti/aa3411a82e12aaaee564a17bb493...[4]http://www.isongames.com

20
davebryand 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been considering picking up Blender for a few months and this just tipped me toward committing. As a long time vim lover, this is a great way to get people excited.
21
tluyben2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hoped this was more about doing everything in scripting which I am trying to learn. For me, when I use the mouse, things go wrong. While in my brain I have a good spatial view, however, somehow the coordination to the (for me!) awkward 3d representation all those 3d packages have, does not work at all.
22
adam12 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you can't get used to the mouse controls you can customize them pretty easily.

File > User Preferences > Input > then you can choose Blender, Maya, 3Dsmax

There are lots of other options on that Input dialog, too.

23
skocznymroczny 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm still stuck on 2.49b because I can't find anything in the 2.5+ interface :/
29
If you dont finish then youre just busy, not productive jacksimpson.co
346 points by jbsimpson  23 hours ago   85 comments top 25
1
pipio21 16 hours ago 13 replies      
One of the biggest Aha!! moments I had happened when I created my first company and realized how important joining people of different personalities together is in order to make them prosper. Making teams instead of solo work.

For example a very good designer or visionary could see the forest but finds it very hard to face each individual tree. There are other people that can't see the forest by themselves but are extremely efficient working on tree after tree.

You just join them together and magic happens.

It is a terrible thing that our educational system favors so much individualism, even when most important work(Nobel prices, great products or services) are done in teams.

When someone starts too many projects but finish none, for me is a symptom that he simply can't finish it alone. In my company I have gotten practice on making people finish things.

This is probably the biggest thing Silicon Valley has, there is always someone who can help you and you help her too.

2
delegate 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I generally agree with the article.

However there is another side to the coin.

The tldr is that Some things are better left unfinished.

The longer version:

Some projects are just experiments and learning exercises, even though at the moment we feel like this is going to change the world (note: the world will change anyway).

The reality is that there's just too much stuff - physical products or digital applications, music or movies - it's just too much shit out there !

And not all of it is good, in fact, as with anything - most of it is crap which only adds to the cognitive noise or pollutes the environment.

Why should you contribute your half-assed idea/project/product to the ocean of useless things, apps, art that's out there ?

If during the initial phase of development you don't have a clear answer to this question, then it is OK to abandon it and move on to something else.

There's no shame in accepting that most of the time we have shitty ideas. By "idea" I mean not just the actual technical stuff, but the whole "build a company" ideation that goes along with it - how you're going to get rich and get invited to TV shows, write blog posts which millions retweet and shit like that. A lot of young people unfortunately bet their youth and mental health on trying to prove otherwise.

Creative energy is very similar to (if not the same as) sexual energy. It's something that just 'grows' inside us and it must be released. But not all of the sexual energy should be used for its intended purpose - creating new humans - otherwise we'd quickly run out of space on the Planet.

Sometimes it is ok to just 'vent' and waste a little bit of that energy in order to make room for fresh 'energy' :).

So it's ok to just "masturbate" intellectually from time to time without actually finishing it.

Career-wise, you probably want to finish one or two, maybe several projects in your life.

3
jen729w 18 hours ago 5 replies      
I realised I was guilty of this in 2016 so for 2017 I've made a few simple changes, the primary one being how I write my "project" name in OmniFocus.

For instance, I had "Learn how to use bash properly". Well, what does that mean? When is that finished? It never is. Now, that project is called "Read 'Learning the bash shell'".

Immediately, that's attainable. When I've finished reading the book, perhaps I'll want to do more, perhaps I won't. But at least I know that I'll have completed that project.

4
dheera 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It also depends on your own risk/reward equilibrium for personal side projects vs. career projects.

I take much bigger risks with personal projects than career projects. I don't care if 95% or more of them fail or are not completed for good reasons (cost, physically impossible, etc.).

To a great degree, I don't even tell people about the failed personal projects. In fact that's one thing I love about personal projects. With career projects, the most annoying thing to me is that you are forced to tell people (cofounders, employees, investors, customers, family, friends) what you're going to do, and then you have to try to live up to it. With personal projects you don't have to tell anyone. And because you don't tell anyone, you won't be discouraged by anyone. You can set out to build A, and end up building B, or end up building nothing and just having a good time, and you don't have to worry about leaving a bad impression.

If you built A, you say you built A. If you built B, you say you built B. If you built nothing, you say nothing at all. It's awesome. The point is I don't like saying anything until I've actually built something that minimally works.

If you're motivated and disciplined enough, this is an excellent framework for exploration. In particular, the human ego/desire to say something means that I'm motivated to keep at it until I have built something that allows me (under this framework) to say something.

5
m3kw9 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For learners, finishing matters because:

1. The learning you get from going thru whole cycle is valuable for next projects. Even if you release a few turds. Say you release an iOS app as a measure of finish.

For veterans, finishing does not matter because:

1. If you see a piece a piece of turd and not able to say no to it, you will probably be wasting valuable time finishing to save face as the author may suggest. ---Is like in war, you need to know when to retreat, and cut losses(save your time and not finish). That's the perplexing part is when to retreat at the right time.

6
mosselman 13 hours ago 0 replies      
While I agree with regards to being productive and I also agree that 'finishing' things feels good, I still doubt that 'being productive' should always be the goal.

I have discarded many 'side projects', but the lessons learned from those projects have made me a lot more productive in my job. For most projects I don't even feel bad about the time I spent doing them since I had fun figuring out how to implement some of those things.

Take playing sports for example. I like to play football, the kind played with my feet and a ball, not the one played with one's hands and a oval leather air container. This is never 'finished', but doing so I exercise my body, clear my mind and most importantly, I have fun. I see a parallel for one game of football with figuring out how to test some external API in a side project. After discarding the side project (a few games of football) I still know how to test external APIs. Just as playing 1 game of football won't get me any closer to winning the champions league, my condition (skills) are better and I had fun (fun) along the way.

Stop being so hard on yourself.

If you DO want to create a serious company out of your side project it probably IS a good idea not to let yourself get distracted by other fun projects along the way though. Especially if you are juggling a full-time job along side of it.

7
sevensor 13 hours ago 1 reply      
So, to summarize, he's writing blog posts about finishing things instead of writing his dissertation.
8
xolb 14 hours ago 1 reply      
> What is the minimal state of completion this project needs to reach for me to consider it a success and having been worth my time?

I used to think like that, but this is a moving point. As long you finish a list of things that you deemed important, many others will replace the old ones and the list actually will never be empty. This feeling of fulfillment will never come.

So I'm doing differently this time in my startup (that was also my side project for a while). I created a funnel and measured everything. I cannot develop anything on top of my head (We, developers, are creative by nature, and it's easy to find a myriad of interesting new features). The new feature needs to come from data and user feedback only. No exceptions.

The funnel is completed and has being measured, then the project is completed. Everything beyond that is just optimization. This was a shift in my mind and I feel much better because I finished the project, instead of constantly open. And of course, this is not a mind tricky. The project is actually completed.

9
greenspot 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Is 'not finishing' an inherent problem of being a coder and a coder's reward system?

When I look at myself, coding is great when I learn new things, new APIs, can glue stuff together to create new systems which haven't been there before. Once I master a technology or have to do stuff which was done million times before it gets boring. Then, I rather seek for the next kick, the next API, the next language/framework/lib.

So, having ongoing novelties seems to be an important part of a coder's reward system. This hurts finishing and going the last mile, the most difficult part of a project that is not about facing steady novelties. Often it even means to abandon the shiny new tech and rebuild stuff in some proven tech.

However, the bad is you never finish, the good is you learn all the time. Better than checking Facebook, Instagram and your smartphone 24/7.

10
hekker 18 hours ago 0 replies      
In my experience being productive is more a matter of setting a clear scope of goals on which I'm going to focus on the next X months. Other than the strict necessary tasks that might interrupt activities related to these goals, no extra goals may be added until one is finished. After that, at the beginning of each day I decided what micro-tasks I want to do (write paragraph X of paper, fix bug Y in project Z) and I don't go home until I am done. Everyday it seems like I am only doing small tasks but after time these tasks add up and I finish big projects. Big projects/goals are not finished over night, you need time. It's easy to get demotivated when there are big tasks ahead. The key is to chop them into do-able, reachable tasks and you hold yourself accountable to fix these tasks no matter what.
11
tzakrajs 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I drop projects that seem interesting at the outset or in abstract when they stop being rewarding. It is better to move on to the next project, because you could learn something substantial about the world around you while your head is up. Eventually there will be a project that you cant shake and you execute fully on it.
12
terrywang 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"Finish what you have started before starting / working on new projects/tasks." - My boss

Following the GTD methodologies (it's been a long time habit), a lot of small things get to the bottom of the list while new ones keep coming along, properly prioritizing tasks is the key.

After all, most people can only work on 3-5 tasks in parallel in real life.

13
n1000 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I also learned this the hard way recently. I have always been extremely busy. But finishing a large project, such as a PhD, forced me to learn that one needs to check at least 1 or 2 of these boxes on the todo list in the evening. Otherwise there has been no progress and, even worse, I will go home frustrated and have burned a lot of energy. Oh yeah, and ask a doctor about ADD.
14
dufhlwiuegh 11 hours ago 0 replies      
As a prolific non-finisher I have to disagree to make myself feel better. My laptop is littered with half-done projects but so what ? They're simply sketches, explorations, they were never intended to be anything great. You explore a path and see where it goes...sometimes it fizzles out and that's fine. I've got some projects I've been revisiting on and off for like 8 years and they'll probably never amount to anything, but they help me learn about a particular aspect of coding or maths.
15
benologist 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think if your goal is launching you've got to make sure the work you're doing is enabling that to happen sooner. Once you start prioritizing as little as possible into pre- and as much as possible into post- launch bad ideas start filtering themselves out during the wait.

I think one of the big traps is convincing yourself part of 'make x to do y' always includes 'learn a new stack' that will be 1% technically-better but 800% slower than what you used last time. Pretty crap optimization if you goal is to launch anything.

I think for developers on HN it's also very easy to build something with the expectation we'll want to discuss it 2 - 3 times a week on the front page for them to get users, neatly solving the business side in advance!

16
SubiculumCode 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This has been true in my academic career also. The ability to say no is important.
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andersonmvd 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"You call it procrastination, I call it thinking", that's a quote I heard in a TED talk :)

Leonardo da Vinci seems to be one of those who procrastinated/thought a lot.

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nraynaud 15 hours ago 0 replies      
i have 2 counter points: - people with focus issue do their best to finish before the focus slips - people with depression tends to not finish, some shrinks thinks it's ok, because it's at least being active and it's a sign of seeking a path.
19
juiced 17 hours ago 0 replies      
To sum it up:

An unripe fruit attracts no birds, they only come when it becomes sweet.-Ghost In The Shell 2, Innocence

20
blazespin 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Just redefine what it means to finish, and voila, you're productive.
21
tonyedgecombe 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't have problems finishing but I find it exhausting, I guess it's the effort of forcing myself to complete all the tedious details required at the end of a project. I usually need a few weeks at least before I start the next project.
22
bryogenic 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or is the title sentence difficult to parse? Is this a correct interpretation of the authors intent:

> Having a habit of not finishing your side projects means you are a busy person; not an unproductive one.

The author never came back to the word productivity or what that means to him in relation to side projects so I dont feel like I can say with convection that my re-wording is correct.

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ausjke 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Agile, MVP are all designed to cope with that, i.e. deliver from the start, and grow along the way.
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mixmastamyk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
People often work with a personal trainer in the gym for the same reasons. The trainer's knowledge is useful of course, but obligation and teamwork is a major success factor as well.
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z3t4 13 hours ago 0 replies      
the secret to finish a project is to set a realistic goal
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Show HN: Founderkit Startup tool recommendations from 1,000 YC founders founderkit.com
326 points by ryanmickle  4 days ago   58 comments top 21
1
sixQuarks 4 days ago 8 replies      
Once again, a tool recommendation site that doesn't do anything different or unique than what's been done or what's out there now. This is just like BestVendor.com (site was sold a few years ago, but more of an acquihire).

There are tons of these types of review sites. http://www.stacklist.com/https://startupresources.io/https://stackshare.io/

And they're all pretty much the same. They're mostly just a list of tools, sorted by popularity or recommendations.

I'm sorry, but this is just not that useful for me. It still requires a ton of time to look through and research the tools. Sure, it's useful just to help start your research, but it ends there.

I've researched this space in-depth and have a solution that's different, but way more useful. I'm just too busy working on other stuff to tackle it right now.

---------------

To give you guys an idea of what I'm thinking, here is a tool comparison that is much more useful to me.

https://medium.com/sketch-app-sources/five-app-prototyping-t...

It's ONE guy that researched 5 competing prototyping tools with a specific task in mind. He lists the pros and cons of each, and goes into some detail on each one and how they performed with his particular task.

I wouldn't be copying this exact format, but the takeaway here is that it's ONE person that has researched ALL or most of the tools within a particular category, and had an actual task to accomplish, so they have a much better idea of what each does, its strengths and weaknesses. The problem with founderkit and similar sites is that the reviewers have not researched all the tools within a category, so they're only giving you their viewpoint on one tool.

If anyone is interested in my idea, let me know. I may devote some resources to it if I find the right people.

2
minimaxir 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is obviously modeled after Product Hunt with similar rating/review systems, and suffers from the same issues regarding rating/review quality. Despite the emphasis on "unbiased" reviews, the reviews/comments (example: https://founderkit.com/biz/slack) boil down to "I used it and it's good" which doesn't help anyone, and is essentially a manifestation of confirmation bias and makes the entire thing a popularity contest, not a measurement of quality.

Also, giving each tool a ranking from 1-10 when the only way to vote is Like/Neutral/Dislike is misleading.

3
mtw 4 days ago 1 reply      
I hate how they force users to sign up. You need to give access to your Twitter and LinkedIn. Who knows what kind of data mining they do.

Also: dude, you already have my twitter, why do you still need my email address? Twitter already gives you that. What If I don't have a title? Why is that required?

No thanks

4
ares2012 4 days ago 1 reply      
Shockingly, YC companies are always at the top of the lists in the categories they service. Smells like a growth hack to me.
5
rrggrr 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I need a tool I check Zapier first. Why? Because I know I can easily integrate with other systems and because I get almost the full lay of the land.

That said... without knowing the size of the user base, how much cash these companies have, etc. whose to say even 1/2 of them will be around 5 years. These tools need to be used and integrated with great caution.

6
netik 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any reason why there isn't a single security utility, aside from password managers on this list?

It seems that security is an afterthought at most startups.

7
kriro 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Beta tested and used by almost 1,000 YC founders"

Most things I have clicked on have about 10 ratings tops and one line reviews. Even as a quantitative tool it's not that useful (yet). Would be interested in seeing some stats. From a first glance I expect a correlation between number of ratings and positive ratings. At least the subcategories I clicked through all followed that pattern.

I'd also love a filter on the subpages like: https://founderkit.com/biz/optimizely where I can filter the negative feedback to the top (especially once there's a lot more data). I personally make most decisions after reading negative feedback and only roughly browsing the positive feedback.

Edit: I'd also like to read a bit more on the reasoning of the ranking. Why was this system (popularity, score, recency) picked over purely ranking on score?

8
sfrailsdev 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like reviews really need an A/B test at the very least, because someone comparing and contrasting two products gives you an idea of the relative importance of different features.
9
ghughes 4 days ago 1 reply      
Why do I have to sign up to see the reviews?
10
jorazzle 4 days ago 0 replies      
A real problem for startups. People waste too much time on routine stuff.
11
lowglow 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think my biggest issue with all of these things is they tend to only serve YC companies and not the multitude of other independent hackers out there outside of that pipeline. I've just stopped sharing stuff like this because it hurts the entire ecosystem long term. shrug
12
funkyy 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is not enough data on review list. You need to click the product sometimes to see what it does. There should be 3-4 sentence, non-biased, non-advertisement description.
13
endlessvoid94 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finding tools is (unfortunately) not the hard part about being a founder.
14
swah 4 days ago 1 reply      
The recommendation site I wanted to have was http://stackparts.com/ (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2993371) but nothing became of it...

Maybe there are just too many options nowadays for a visualization of possible stacks to be useful.

cc @joshu

15
johanneskanybal 3 days ago 0 replies      
I liked it. In particular the categories which I think a lot of really small companies might find useful. Needs to be 40 times more users and less yc backed bias but still ok.
16
ravishah 4 days ago 1 reply      
Application errorAn error occurred in the application and your page could not be served. If you are the application owner, check your logs for details.
17
liveink 4 days ago 0 replies      
Great seeding network, resulted in a much stronger signal to noise ratio. Definitely going to be using this!
18
rahul71 4 days ago 1 reply      
Server error when I tried to register
19
baccredited 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why do they need my email address during signup? Isn't access to my twitter account enough?
20
rahul71 4 days ago 0 replies      
internal server error when I tried to add myself
21
LisaQFetterman 4 days ago 0 replies      
omg!!!! Very cool. I need this.
       cached 16 January 2017 05:11:02 GMT