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Text-only CNN (cnn.io)
1017 points by ekimekim 41 days ago | hide | past | web | 295 comments | favorite



When Google first came out and we tried it there were two things we liked about it.

The first: Good search results. Yeah everyone knows that right. But young people today might have forgotten the second reason we liked Google search back then:

The Second: A clean page with a single logo and search field. It loaded quick. There were no banners everywhere, no bs.

HackerNews has that feel. It is clean, information dense, and does what it needs to do.


Google seems to have forgotten this and now thinks its some kind of design company. Everything with the exception of adwords and analytics it has applied material to is now garbage.

News use to be my default homepage but surprisingly MSN gives me a much better product with more then 4 stories on the page on 32" monitors.


Fully agreed.

I miss the Google of the “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful” era.

Google Plus could have been fine if it wasn't rammed down user's throats. But no, every product had to integrate with it, had to look like it .... because ... Steve Jobs said so ? Then came Vic Gundotra with all the high craftsmanship of political empire building maneuvering and little else. Probably broke the original internal culture if it had survived till then (not sure).


The new google news page is awful. It's classic user interface designer making stuff pretty with no thought on how to display news. The old page was much better, it was denser. I friggin hate Google news now and am looking for a better news source. I'm not loving text only, I'd be happy with a text only top level and then text & pics for the stories.

I'll check out MSN.


https://theoldgnews.com

Old Google News clone.


Wow, awesome. Is there a paypal link where I can donate to support this? Or some other way?


[flagged]


"admit to passing over objectively better candidates"

I'd love to see your citation on that claim.


The poster is maybe referring to James Damore's interview with Joe Rogan, where he claims that Google executives admit to diversity procedures in hiring.

Disclaimer: I have no opinion on this topic. I am merely speculating the potential source of info.


The Swedish public broadcaster still keeps their Teletext[0] service running. One of the cleanest way to get your news (especially on a TV where load times are zero). You can access it on the web as well https://www.svt.se/svttext/web/pages/100.html

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teletext


Same for the Netherlands. I read this every day rather than the big newspapers or news channels...

https://nos.nl/teletekst


It makes me pine for the days of Gopher.


What do you miss about Gopher?


All data, simple navigation, no BS.


Might as well drop in the danish one here: http://ttv.tv2.dk/


Same for Switzerland: http://www.teletext.ch/


Same thing for Germany! http://www.ard-text.de/


It even has a mobile app and it is the fastest loading news app I know of and it loads even with the slowest connection. Due to restrictions of the medium, the text is short and to the point. As there are no analytics with Teletext, clickbait has never arrived there. More sites should follow that model.


The mobile version is the homepage of my desktop browser :)

http://www.ard-text.de/mobil/100


Same thing in Poland & Croatia, probably many other EU countries


I'd add that Google News used to have that clean feel too, many years ago. Each generation it gets worse. The latest generation using AMP is nearly unreadable on my Nexus 5 phone, it bogs it to a crawl.


And for no benefit it all (or even regression), that's what maddens me.


A while back I did a comparison of the code behind the major search engines' landing pages, and found that DuckDuckGo is by far the cleanest, simplest, and most accessible, yet they still manage to make a living on text ads in their results.

Another easy way to see the difference is to load each site up in a text-only browser like links. You'll find that DDG has the cleanest interface there, too.

I still use Startpage most of the time due to the generally better search results, but DDG is my backup and sometimes finds things Startpage (i.e. Google) doesn't.


Duckduck go is a pretty good engine for 90% of searches. I wonder however whether its (perhaps tenuous) connection with Yandex and Russia should give pause? I admit I have only read this in a headline several years back.


I've never heard of anything like that; my understanding is that it's an American company that uses Bing as the back end.


I couldn't find a better image but I remember this used to be the big argument why people liked Google's design over yahoo:

http://aautar.digital-radiation.com/blog/uploaded_images/goo...


Well, Yahoo was designed to be a web directory, which eventually evolved into portal (until mid of 2000, Yahoo search would still show "directory").

Google was all about search at the beginning. I still went to Yahoo and MSN for news and information. But I think some time after mid 2000, a lot of folks began to shift from going to portal to get information, to typing keywords "news" in Google search. Somehow we are hooked to typing keywords. When Google finally released news.google.com now users could have a quick navigation of current events. This behavior is manifested in the era of social media. So many people are now getting news from logging onto facebook / twitter. To verify, as a smart reader I would search on Google, hoping to find a full version from reputable news sites.

In some countries/culture, portal is still preferred. e.g. Yahoo Japan being one. There are still some values of Yahoo.com; I still go there if I am looking up finance news or some pop-culture entertainment news (no other new sites do better than Yahoo on entertainment news broadcast).


The second reason was the predominant reason. We already had a lot of options for search results with search engines like Altavista/aggregate sites. It's the simplicity of Google that made Google.

PS. It's also the reason Google now is increasingly less special (but they do try to keep it simple when they can, subtly).


I'm not sure that was the predominant reason. The search results were also a hell of a lot better than AltaVista, Lycos, Yahoo and whatever else was around back then.


Google was a huge improvement because if you searched for Foo Bar Baz it would only give you pages that had all the words Foo, Bar and Baz whereas AltaVista et al. would give you pages containing any of the words, if memory serves. But the speed was a huge deal too, especially on a 56k modem (and the thing had to be rendered in IE4 on a Pentium II too, let's not forget).


AltaVista had a full set of boolean operators, so you could search for [Foo AND (Bar OR Baz) AND NOT Quux], which I still miss. Google appeared just when AltaVista ‘graduated’ from a showpiece for the Alpha to trying to make money and therefore turned to crap.


Yes. In particular, Google's search were much better for ordinary users who didn't do complex searches....


I don't know why, but many times Google just doesn't load here. I always open a private tab in Firefox to get rid of cookies easily, then load Google, and I don't know if this is the reason but after a while it just stops.

Duckduckgo is (for me) the new google in terms of speed, but the search results are not the same quality.


Duckduckgo is very slow for me when it comes to opening things in a new tab(Safari on a laptop). It takes several second for the right click options to come up when right clicking.


Maybe a plug-in? I use Safari and dont have that issue right clicking.


Only thing I don't get on HN, is the number on the left of the title. What purpose does that serve?


Someone pointed out below, but in a comment way down in the thread, but CNN is actually who's behind this:

https://twitter.com/CNN/status/906821174805630976

I'm not sure if the reason behind this is because of possible weak phone connections or that the hurricane is a good way to promote the text only site, but either way, huge shoutout to CNN for going forward with this themselves.

I've thought for a while about scraping news sites to just show their text, or something like classifying articles based on their subjects from different ones. On this front, they did it first.


This is what CNN looked like on 9/11:

http://i.imgur.com/tqnVwp6.jpg

All the major sites switched to something like this when the internet slowed to a halt. I assume they've always had a minimal version ready in case something like it happens again.


I was working at AOL Time Warner on 9/11 and our team helped out the CNN team to keep that site online. It was a crazy experience. I recall that Sun Microsystems had provisioned a huge datacenter room full of gear for another AOL project as a sort of "try before you buy" deal. We spent the afternoon kickstarting those machines and bootstrapping them as CNN content servers. It was a huge struggle just to keep everything online, given the massive surge in traffic that we were seeing. America had never seen an event like this since Pearl Harbor and most people didn't know what to do besides standing in front of a TV or--if you were at work--refreshing CNN all day. The idea of infra capacity to handle a news event of this magnitude wasn't something that had even been considered prior to 9/11.


Well thank you. I was in a college computer lab reading CNN's web page.


I'd pay $5/month for a reputable news site to provide this all year long.


http://www.npr.org ?

It's not text only but it's considerably more minimal than most news websites, loads almost instantly, doesn't have auto play content, and is considered a reputable source.

The BBC used to be similar but their international website is awful now (slow to load, more adverts, and less emphasis on actual news).


It's text-only when you use http://thin.npr.org


The full npr.org provides transcripts for many or all of their stories. This site leads me to stories that only contain bylines and no other content. Seems like a bug to not include at least a link to the audio or the transcript.


Funny how the main site loaded much faster than this version for me. Wonder if it does reverse with a 2G connection.


Surprisingly long load times...


Just use ublock origin in advanced mode and disable third party everything. Most sites look completely broken until you find and enable their one cdn (and only that!), meanwhile 100 other requests stay blocked. Save those rules as you go and it's easy browsing from then on!


If you send me $5/month, I'll come over and turn Javascript off in your browser.


remember when rss was going to give us this?


RSS does give us this.

http://rss.cnn.com/rss/cnn_topstories.rss

TinyTinyRSS and Fever make it a pretty good experience too.


Except that some RSS feeds only give you excerpts of the story lest you visit their page (looking at you Reuters!)


Also, NPR has had a text only site for ages

http://thin.npr.org


NPR developer here. We launched some changes to the text site this morning.

NPR set up a text site in late 2001. A developer reworked the text site in 2005. We have made very few changes since then.

The site is a set of a few PHP scripts querying our MySQL CMS database directly with no caching. The HTML and JS were aimed at providing a decent mobile experience in 2005. That included a lot of hacks and workarounds for extremely defunct platforms.

The newsroom asked us to make some improvements. The main features:

- display more news stories following editorial order rather than reverse chron,

- remove the obnoxious interstitial "read more" view for stories,

- put the text site behind Akamai like our other web properties,

- configure HTTPS on the text site (still in progress and won't be the default due to TLS overhead)

It should be a lot faster and more pleasant to use.

Thank you to everyone who made lots of noise about CNN's text offering. There is a small contingent of developers at NPR who love the text site to the point that they've created replacements as personal projects. They were very excited to improve it for the public!


When you load an article it shows only the first sentence and then

Read More ... ( 19213 bytes )

Brilliant!


It's so fast, feels like it's hosted locally


Finally! I can feel like I actually have gigabit fiber!!!


if you click Topics -> News[0] it takes 2.7 seconds. They should throw that subdomain behind https://memcached.org/ (and not use php lol).

Unrelated, seems like I can't listen to podcasts. There's an <audio> tag (which doesn't use data unless you click on play if you set preload="none" [1]), so that's an interesting choice.

    $ curl http://thin.npr.org/t.php?tid=1001
    [...]
    Total wall clock time: 2.7s

    $ ping thin.npr.org
    [...]
    round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 76.407/78.359/86.985/2.442 ms

[0] http://thin.npr.org/t.php?tid=1001

[1] https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/HTML/Element/au...


"and not use php lol"

PHP has warts, but I find it unlikely that it would be the reason for a 2.7 second page load.


You don't put things behind Memcached. You put Memcached behind things.


Varnish is an in-memory cache that sits in front of a site.


Correct.


Shame that thin.npr.org does not have HTTPS


Why do you need to encrypt your connection to that site? No sensitive info sent.


Just a few reasons:

* To overcome government censorship and surveillance.

* To stop internet providers from injecting ads and tracking scripts.


It wouldn't stop surveillance, because there are only a limited number of pages it can serve. It's possible for an attacker to download all of them and figure out what you're reading by traffic analysis.


A monumentally more difficult task than intercepting an unencrypted connection.


>To overcome government censorship and surveillance.

But the site isn't being censored? Also https won't stop the government from knowing that you connected to those servers. I agree that we want to avoid censorship and surveillance in general, but it really doesn't seem relevant here.

>To stop internet providers from injecting ads and tracking scripts.

Is your ISP actually doing that to you right now? Or is that just hypothetical?


> Is your ISP actually doing that to you right now? Or is that just hypothetical?

I was on a Southwest flight earlier this week which did exactly this, using HTTP injection to display an overlay on every HTTP page. It's certainly useful to provide flight information (or Amber alerts, weather information, billing alerts), but it's Just Wrong™ to violate the integrity of a communication to do so. Perhaps there should be some standard protocol for ISPs to send messages to clients, permitting the connected OS to determine how to display them?


> But the site isn't being censored?

How do you know? Without https, a MITM-attack might already be in place, and you wouldn't even notice.


I guess that's a fair point.


> Is your ISP actually doing that to you right now? Or is that just hypothetical?

Yes there are multiple instances where my isp was injecting stuff. More frequently at public wifi spots.


I can't remember which country it was, but it was either a Vodaphone or O2 sim which would inject their little banner at the top of websites that weren't HTTPS. It was super annoying, especially seeing it on my own site!


A café I go to sometimes for coffee injects ads to non-HTTPS websites. Full screen ads with a timer. It's a good reminder that HTTP sites can be and are being arbitrarily manipulated and surveilled by WiFi operators.


My ISP, WideOpenWest, uses HTTP injection as their primary method for notifying customers of maintenance, etc.


There's a whole website by the Freedom of the Press Foundation that addresses that question:

https://securethe.news


Which politically charged articles you read can very much be sensitive information. When in question, all information is sensitive.


All information is sensitive. Encrypt everything.


It's nobody's business what stories I read.


This is great! I've been reading NPR for years and never knew about this. Thank you.


The absolute worst thing about cnn.com is the auto-playing videos. I've been in quiet places and clicked a CNN news link only to have a video start blasting on the speakers. It's not only annoying but a huge waste of mobile bandwidth.

Now I just need an extension that rewrites all CNN urls to this site.


I've got specific dnsmasq block rules for those.

    0.0.0.0 ht1.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht2.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht3.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht4.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht5.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht6.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht7.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht8.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 ht9.cdn.turner.com      # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 a.teads.tv              # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 t.teads.tv              # Autoplay video
    0.0.0.0 cdn.teads.tv            # Autoplay video
Not all those hosts are populated yet, but this is effective.


Disable HTML5 Autoplay https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/disable-html5-auto...

works for me at the moment. You never know when the blighters will change the format though.


In Firefox:

about:config

media.autoplay.enabled False


How do I disable autoplaying video on my Android phone though? It's really annoying that news sites think it's ok to use my mobile bandwidth with redundant videos.


chrome://flags/

Search for "Autoplay policy" and change it to "Document user activation is required"

I haven't test it on other sites but in Youtube works fine.


I use uBlock Origin's element blocker to block these terrible news autoplay videos. I don't understand why news sites love them so much.


That's the absolute worst thing about EVERYTHING on the web. It's usually a video of absolute nonsense too, for example just bullet points from the text below. As if we've got shitty powerpoints, with sound, that play every, single, page. Drives me insane.


My computer's speakers are not plugged in. Problem solved.


Lol how I'd not being able to play any sound "problem solved?" You really reach down and plug your speakers in whenever it's time to play audio?


I play music while I work. I got tired of all the programs that insisted on using sound effects or playing other sounds, so now my computer's speakers are mechanically disabled, and I have a separate system for music.

I'll connect it to my sound system if I want to hear something from the computer, which is rarely.


Some people use laptops.


Press the volume down button multiple times. Most laptops have one button that just mutes sound in one go.


Because I want to turn off the talk or music I'm listening to too?


The speakers can often be disabled by plugging a wire that goes nowhere into the line out jack.


I don’t want to disable my speakers just because someone thought these autoplay videos are a good idea.


You can set the volume to off.


Can I see your script that plumbs volume level to ipfw rules?


EDIT: As I wrote this, someone deployed a server-side rendered version of the site. Now the site is perfect. :)

This site appears to load ~350 KB of JavaScript, which I think is a bit excessive for a "lite" text-only site. From the sourcemaps, I found a long list of libraries, including:

* react

* redux

* redux-thunk

* react-router

* axios

* base64-js (why not window.atob/btoa?)

* core-js

* fbjs

* react-hot-loader (should not be in a production build)

* ...a bunch of other smaller modules

There's only about 10 KB of non-library application code. Note that I ignore gzip when evaluating this sort of stuff, since that many bytes of code still need to be parsed, no matter how much it compresses.

For the person who made this site, I would replace React with Preact (or Inferno), which should remove most of the bloat. Server side rendering would also be nice for those who don't have JavaScript enabled and would also improve the loading time.

At least it's still better than cnn.com. http://www.webpagetest.org/result/170910_C8_e78305788a19b0fb...


Almost anything is better than CNN: https://urlscan.io/result/6834c63f-b092-4e4e-b72b-91bd1c1b82... This is on par with other shitty news-websites.

This website contacted 65 IPs in 7 countries across 35 domains to perform 314 HTTP transactions. [...] In total, 4 MB of data was transfered, which is 12 MB uncompressed. It took 2.753 seconds to load this page.

Compare this to the now-SSR cnn.io: https://urlscan.io/result/7d13efac-ffaa-4ac2-a091-8611e39b20... (59kB transfer)

Edit: Someone scanned the lite-version before they switched to SSR: https://urlscan.io/result/2a9690eb-3992-4712-a657-c3be959d51...


This reveals why I didn't see anything on my phone on first time visiting it. My browser just show a blank page, then seconds later the contents show up.


What's worse all the content is sent inline, just not as html :( Why complicate this so much?


FWIW, base64-js and similar libraries are still needed (though probably not in this case...) because window.btoa() only works on latin1 ASCII strings. Try giving it some arbitrary UTF-8:

btoa("\ud83d\ude0b") -> Uncaught DOMException: Failed to execute 'btoa' on 'Window': The string to be encoded contains characters outside of the Latin1 range.

(Edit: apparently HN doesn't either; changed to \u...)


> FWIW, base64-js and similar libraries are still needed

For what? This is a non-interactive text-only website. It shouldn't need anything beside HTML and CSS.


You are 100% correct. Honestly, it doesn't need CSS even, although that's nice to have.

I've got NoScript on, and now the pages load perfectly. I think I may return to being a CNN reader now. If only they could figure out how to monetise this.


For the rest of the sentence... I was clearly referring to the question of why someone would use a library for base64 versus the built-in function. Not getting involved in the anti-js internet pitchfork mob.


FWIW the site still looks fine with noscript enabled.


WTF? why any JS at all for something that's pure content?


Because this site is clearly in need of 250 KB surveillance JavaScript.

So even this "plain text" site still transfers ~98 % bloat and just ~2 % content.


transfer is different from filesize

its more around 90% JS, 10% content

After the first page load (with scripts cached) its around 87% content (unfortunately they don't seem to be caching CSS)


History repeats itself. This is just like flash sites back in the 90s.


It has no benefit on the client itself, but in this (server-rendered) case, you can think of it as improved PHP/Ruby/....


The question wasn't why anyone was using Javascript on the server.

The question was why a pure-text non-interactive website needs any javascript at all.


Because when you're treating React as a templating language, it's easier to let it run on the client side during development and add server rendering later.


Seems like it'd be easier to just use the templates already there for the content on the server, instead of building an additional application.


i don't know react. Can you elaborate what you mean using React as a templating language? Are you saying react can be used sans any business logic and purely for template interpolation?


Simply put, React lets you do two things:

* Generate a HTML/DOM based on a template and data.

* Lets you efficiently update that DOM based on updates to the data and/or model (this is it's killer feature).

But if you're just going to do the first thing (generate a HTML/DOM), you don't need most of React's feature set, and you certainly don't need to push heavy JS onto the client.

For those cases, a much better approach (for both clients and SEO) is to just pre-render the DOM/HTML server-side and serve that without any need for any javascript client-side (which is what the similarly named module "Preact" does).


Josteink said it excellently, my addition is that React itself is a view library that lets you update DOM easily based on some data, and the data (and the logic behind it) can be and often are completely separated from React components themselves.


>> At least it's still better than cnn.com.

That's literally the entire value prop of the website. The author isn't obligated to use your personal list of approved web tools.


This is what the world needs.

Seriously, I hate this trend to bloat up websites with the rage of a thousand suns. There is absolutely no value, but it increases bandwith usage, load times and CPU/RAM usage. News websites having "fancy, modern" websites actually make me think less of them.

Fuck this web-bloat shit. The web is broken.


This format is ideal in this context, but the web is far larger than a digital ticker tape dispenser.

Some publishers are seeking to create a modern version of Life magazine. What do imagine that would look like? How about National Geographic?

I love, for example, what the teams at The New York Times are doing to enhance stories with creative uses of the modern web.

The web is not broken, it’s simply revealing that this is a better way to consume breaking news.


Agree that some sites are producing some really high-quality work leveraging the modern web. The problem, for me, is that many sites think of everything as _content_ that must be flashy (but hopefully not Flash-y). If I click to read an article about the devastation in Barbuda, I don't necessarily need the full production of related content to be thrown in my face along with the text that I really want to read.


This is the highest-impact format with which one can consume news, though. Magazines are great, but lots of people are just looking for a quick shot of the current news. This sort of UI is ideal for that need.

This is exactly why the Drudge Report has stayed relevant for 20 years.


But behind the curtain, Drudge is a freaking advertising hog.


Doesn't detract from the fact that his information design is A+.


death to auto-playing video always and forever... CNN's site is especially bad about that, as I've experienced cases where I stop the "big" video at the top of the page and scroll down, only to have it start back up again when it moves to the sidebar.


That is SO annoying. When it happens I don't even read the article anymore, I just rage close the tab.


Agreed, it is one of those irrational triggers for me where I go from fine to furious in maximum reaction time. Just imagining it happening gets my blood pressure up.

How about a chrome extension where you can put domains on a time-based blacklist for offenses against your sensibilities.

So if you go to CNN and they autoplay an ad, you can blacklist them for 1 week - Should you forget or carelessly click one of their links, this pops an interstitial page that reminds you of their offenses and gives you the opportunity to rescind your request for a page view.

Additionally there is an opt-in for you to report the offenses to a central service for public scrutiny/shaming... thoughts?


Hah I do the exact same thing. Actually, out of spite I go to foxnews ;-)


You probably want the "HTML5 Autoplay" Chrome extension which stops the overwhelming majority of these. It was a problem on Bloomberg as well as CNN, but now you'll see the window spin for a second and then stop.


I wonder how many HN readers would be unemployed if the world went this way. It's pretty interesting to think that a good chunk of the people you comment with are the ones coding bloated websites (most likely not because they want to!).


I actually think that this would be one of the best outcomes of something like UBI. Devs and designers would no longer have to keep redoing websites just to justify their paycheck. They could spend times improving their sites only if they felt it was needed.


It's interesting to me to see shifting viewpoints around this. I've been building the Bloomberg Terminal for a long time, and to both users and programmers coming from the web ecosystem, there is often an immediate (somewhat) negative reaction as to why anyone (really any business, not person) would pay so much money for what the software provides. But once in a while, when you see something like this come along, you see viewpoints specifically pertaining to news and what everyone wishes they had was clean text-and-basic-photos delivery of relevant news without any ad-, web-, tracking-, social- bloat of the modern <insert any news corporation> website. That is specifically what businesses are paying for, and it is just one feature; what they get for their money is much larger than just one or a dozen news sites. They get something on the order of 100k feeds (e.g. WSJ is 1 feed) in dozens of languages from around the globe in all their text-only glory. So yeah, it could look like a throwback from another era. Or, alternatively, it could be exactly what everyone wants :)


My upvote was only for the first sentence.

Web infrastructure is not broken, it's just being abused. That abuse leads to some pretty incredible technology though.


I think there is a happy medium. For my tastes, I think the text-only cnn is too bare. I don't need pictures but I could use a one or two sentence summary of the stories to give me more of an idea whether I want to read the whole thing or not.


"This is what the world needs." maybe the world needed back in 1983 ted turner never to start up 24/7 news? Didn't and doesn't human DNA jive better with less news, less often?


Good point. CNN should put hours on their website and only serve news between 9am and 5pm.

Nobody needs to watch 24/7 news


it's more than that. We used to have a morning edition newspaper and then the late edition. That's it. Two times a day to get fresh news. Even 9-5 too much.


Best thing I've read about the news: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews

I read monthlys now. Only sometimes I can't resist checking the daily (or instant) news.


Yeah, but H1 tags count as bloat now? Minimalism is subtract until it breaks, but this is broken.


Yeah, without the h1 tags the headlines don't stand out from all the other content on the page.


No value to the user, but all that bloat allows for analytics and tracking for more ad $ and the images make emotional manipulation easier to get more clicks. Not to mention that 99.9% of people don't care or don't even know what bandwidth, CPU, or RAM are.


> 99.9% of people don't care or don't even know what bandwidth

...but they sure know what data rates are. Not that a website is the root of their data problems of course


There is a signifiant value prop for this type of clean interface when considering users that use accessibility tools to browse the web. I had the pleasure of working with an engineer whose vision was impaired. Truly inspired with all the self-engineered tools and software that he created to sanitize sites of all the bloat for his consumption with a screen reader. This type of site will make his life a little easier.


From the title I thought it would be a Convolutional Neural Network for text, not the Cable News Network in plain text.

An example to show that text CNN's are a thing: https://github.com/dennybritz/cnn-text-classification-tf


I feel your pain, I thought it was either a Convolution or a Cellular neural network, was very disappointed. But thanks for pointing to some actual good material to read and look over.

To add to your trend, here is an article [1] about "Texture Classification and Segmentation by Cellular Neural Networks Using Genetic Learning" , texture not text though as they are more vision related, though it would be interesting to see by what methods they could be applied to text.

[1] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tamas_Sziranyi/publicat...


The Keras blog also has a good post on using CNNs to label text from newsgroups with their respective newsgroups: https://blog.keras.io/using-pre-trained-word-embeddings-in-a...

It achieves 95% accuracy without many tricks, but the newsgroups themselves are quite different so it's not the hardest problem.


Don't feel bad, I also assumed this had something to do with Convnets before actually clicking through.


I just created an awesome-lite-websites list to be filled with lightweight and usable websites alike:

GitHub: https://github.com/mdibaiee/awesome-lite-websites

Hacker News thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15212155


...and the World Wide Web goes full circle and mimics the service it replaced. #gopher2017


a 16GB RAM machine to run something that ran on 16MB


So that you can open 1024 pages before swapping to disk.

People asked for hundreds of open tabs, they got it.


Even on a 16MB machine I had open tens of tabs without much problem, browser responsiveness on Firebird(?) was the same as this multi-core machine


Wow. After all these years of taking steps backwards, finally 100 steps forward.


Is there a collaborative community effort for "fixing" websites to make this "100 steps forward"? The relative ease and the large benefit of doing so make it surprising I haven't seen a list of lite websites maintained by volunteers.


Firefox's reader mode?


In my understanding, Firefox Reader Mode (and similar features in other browsers) reads in the entire page and, based on analyzing the page for cues, then decides to offer the user an option to choose reader view (or not).

So while it helps improve readability, it doesn't cut down the time to load, the amount of data downloaded, and probably helps improve the battery life only marginally (this is debatable, depending on the amount of active JS, auto-play videos and also at what time offset t the user chooses reader mode after the page loads).


The impression i have of this reader mode is that it relies, in part, on pages offering markers for printing.

I have in the past noticed that reader mode will not be available of i have killed the JS on a site that enable their print format.


Is that a "community" effort? or a Mozilla effort?


Mozilla is a community effort.


Fair enough. I guess I my question is: FF is a funded community effort. Is there a non-funded community effort?


rss?


100 steps forward is a crap ton of JS just to show text that doesn't change?


I love this. Pure information without bloat. One of the reaons I love "Teletekst" "teletext"). It also looks very nice, despite the fact that is 30 years old. 101 is news. 818 is domestic football. It's actually still very popular in The Netherlands, and the app is one of the most used apps here.

https://nos.nl/teletekst#101


The BBC News site used to have a wonderful text-only version which disappeared a long time ago. I still miss it. It even worked really well in lynx.


As did the CBC; it is still available but with zero content [0]. It now directs you to a bloated mobile site.

They do have RSS however [1].

[0] http://www.cbc.ca/m/text/ [1] http://www.cbc.ca/rss/


Bbc news should still work well in lynx, or at least it did last time I checked.


This is awesome. Major props to CNN. Reminds me of an article that appeared on HN not too long ago about Conde Nast needing Google AMP because their site is so bloated.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15136525


Does this belong to CNN? It's great to read news without clutter, just clear contents. I hope there are many sites like this, it saves you from load the whole page then click the reader mode or similar.


Yes:

>In Hurricane #Irma’s path with a weak phone connection? Stay up to date with the text-only version of our website http://lite.cnn.io

https://twitter.com/cnnbrk/status/906655818950553600


Seems to be using the same CDN with the same hostnames as regular CNN, has their logos, their content, looks theirs.


Then why is it not on a subdomain of cnn.com? Anyone could copy their logo and their content.


Because it's a separate site? I have no idea. It takes 30 seconds to convince yourself it's theirs, though, so I'm not sure what you're asking me.


How did you manage to convince yourself it's theirs?

Why couldn't they just put it on lite.cnn.com?

If you try to look up the whois for cnn.io, you only get:

  Registrar: CSC Corporate Domains, Inc.
  Registrar IANA ID: 299
  Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
  Registrar Abuse Contact Phone:
  Name Server: NS-24.AWSDNS-03.COM
  Name Server: NS-630.AWSDNS-14.NET
  Name Server: NS-1845.AWSDNS-38.CO.UK
  Name Server: NS-1268.AWSDNS-30.ORG
There is nothing here that indicates this is legit CNN?


I said they use the same CDN hosts with the same forward and reverse names. Which I find quite convincing, on top of everything else.

    dig lite.cnn.io
    
    lite.cnn.io.		18	IN	CNAME	turner-tls.map.fastly.net.
    turner-tls.map.fastly.net. 20	IN	A	151.101.1.67

    dig www.cnn.com
    www.cnn.com.		39	IN	CNAME	turner-tls.map.fastly.net.
    turner-tls.map.fastly.net. 18	IN	A	151.101.1.67


I'm not sure why you just put the registry line? Also this is the same registrar cnn.com uses.

Also, this registrar doesn't seem to provide _any_ whois contact information, is that allowed by ICAN?


>There is nothing here that indicates this is legit CNN?

Registering through CSC is difficult if you aren't a BigCo.


Okay, now the server side page is being rendered. The content weighs 6.7kb HTML + 877B CSS + frikkin 52.7kb analytics!!

Very fast, but still analytics on this lite site is bothering to see!


Analytics is loaded asynchronously so it doesn't block rendering or interactivity.

Yeah it'd be nice if they used server-side analytics instead, but cost/benefit.


It's still CNN so they still have to consider revenue.


This is great. I'm sick to death of clicking to links on news articles and having some auto-playing video read it to me...


It's amazing what happens to rendering times when only the actual content is being loaded.


I realize this kind of defeats the purpose, but I applied just a tiny bit of CSS (and Open Sans) to make it look slightly better. Here's the userstyle in the hope it's useful to some:

https://gist.github.com/appel/7a475dcbd3f469d73c756385b2c7cf...


An important feature is that the article pages don't have an article title. Annoying if you like to open a set of pages from the main page to read as an initial action prior to reading. Current pages at lite.cnn.io don't seem to have extra JavaScript.


This might be counter-intuitive to types who comment here but the CNN Snapchat thread should also be appeasing to you for the same reasons this text-only site is. You go through their stories until you find the one you want and that's all you get. No ticker tape. No flashing "BREAKING NEWS" decorations and no fluff. It's the same concept only in a visual medium.


This has been top of hackernews all day. Funny how as we move further and further into the future, developing all these interfaces as we go, we still can't beat a format that has been here since the beginning.


Brilliant. This achieves some key user-centred aims; content is easily navigated, and given prominence above any other feature. I wonder if the addition of aria-roles might add some useful context for screen readers?

In an age when personal assistants are gaining populating, maybe sparse text-centred interfaces are set to gain more popularity?


Unless it's real web app like gdocs, this is how sites should be - no need for js, works perfectly on my 64kbps.


It would be nice if there was a TLD for text-only, javascript free websites.


.txt


.mobi

Well, at least they tried.


This is better than CNN.com, but the big problem with CNN is that it simply isn't very good. If you're haven't tried it again, let me again strongly recommend a subscription to the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, or the New York Times. You might be as surprised as I was, once I was free to click around the sites without thinking about paywalls, how much better the reporting is at real newspapers than it is at free news sites.


Beware, you cannot cancel your subscription to Wall Street Journal without calling them.


I'm going to point out that The Guardian hasn't put up a paywall, but remains a 'real newspaper'.

There's also going directly to the AP(https://apnews.com/) for straight news articles, sans editorial, if that what you want.


Washington Post shows ads even to subscribers.


I the only one whose mind crossed the idea that maybe this is just a temporary service during the natural disasters in the south of the US?


Maybe they'll quietly keep it up forever. A man can dream …


Bookmarked. Please drop the excessive JS and image tho cnn.


There seem to be no ads. How do they plan to make money with this?


Honestly, with a few tweaks (RSS support, titles on pages, getting rid of the 'Breaking News, Latest News and Videos' in every title) I'd pay $12/year for something like this. I'm pretty sure that CNN gets less than that from a statistical viewer of its pages.

Wouldn't it be awesome if pure text, static pages became the new normal, and we looked at video-and-image, JavaScript-laden SPAs in much the same way that we look at parachute pants, bowl haircuts and rhinestone-studded jean jackets?


given that the ads are likely to be blocked by the target audience of that site, either donations, or subscriptions seems to be a good answer.


Give it time. The original CNN site, many years ago, wasn't as slow and terrible as it is today. I'm not convinced history won't repeat itself if this version became popular.


They're probably going for native advertising.


I was trying to figure out what was different about this convolutionao neural network for about 60 seconds.


Sweet. I'd prefer it if every site looked like this.


I really miss RSS.


RSS is still available on a lot of websites ... and for the ones that aren't available using RSS, you can use a third party service that will create a feed.


It's still the best! I started using it again about a year ago and it's been fantastic.


I still don't understand why it fell out of favor.


not enough advertising?


This + reader mode in Safari is heaven.

If any other news org is tuning in, please do this!


I honestly applaud the endeavor. Too bad though they only include the main headlines.

I personally very much like the approach of my preferred newspaper that offers full, mobile, text only editions of its web site.


If someone is missing a universal ui language for the web, this is it.


They're still loading an analytics javascript file that is 230KB minified. That's literally two orders of magnitude larger than anything else that gets loaded from that URL.


You don't know how to block these?


Of course I do. That’s not the point.


Any rss feed for this?

This is awesome. It's quick, to the point, efficient, and allows me to get what I need, then it gets the fuck out of my way.

I'm even willing to put money into this. Is that possible?


I love it.

The only improvement I could ask for is about 100 bytes of CSS to limit the column width, change it to a serifed font, and increase the font size.


I made this thingie based on Google News and the design of Newsmap: http://news.bradezone.com/

It's one of my few side projects I use every day.


I can recommend https://cor.ax which is similar to this


Except with a political slant:

> We provide an alternative startpage for news, free from left-wing bias.


Yep. I find it refreshing with news provides which does not pretent to be unbiased, none are.


Glad to see they have the Spanish version alongside English. Now, how about some other languages... Arabic please!


I messed around with aggregating a few big news sites' RSS feeds and generating a static site from them after being in areas with choked cell reception. Turns out it's still plodding along!

http://104.236.56.7


Nice format, hopefully with some real unbiased content but I am not expected that at CNN though, nowadays the news has to be a mean value of (Reuters + NYT + CNN + Foxs + ....)/N, but I just do not have enough time to read them all, so I read HN instead.


I quickly created a basic userstyle to use a better font and a paper-like which is easier on the eyes.

* { font-family: 'Open Sans', Helvetica; color: #222; font-size: 1rem; line-height: 1.4; }

body{ background: #dac3a8; }

main{ max-width: 920px; margin: 0 auto; }


The article "This is what South Florida looks like now" kinda loses its purpose here


The analytics company I used to work had a private news archive for pretty much every news paper/magazine you could imagine. All text, all searchable. I've long wondered how come no one makes a site like that for everybody.


The link to the full CNN experience at the bottom of each article doesn't deep link to that article's full experience. It just goes to the cnn home page. big fail


I'm totally going to hit this with my Amiga. This is great!


Big spender. Using my Vic-20


How about no google analytics and making it truly text only? :)


I'm getting a totally blank page on Android 7.0 chrome 61.


I'm curious though. What's the root domain going to be if this one is lite? Being a .io I'd like to think it will be an api site or something?


i'd love to make a little userscript to redirect articles from cnn.com to here, but i don't think there's any way to extract the .com url from the .io pages.

also -- compare to cnn.com from 1999: https://web.archive.org/web/20000817204102/http://www2.cnn.c...


Nice, but it would be good to know who wrote what. Not for standard wire-service stuff about floods etc., but anything with an element of opinion.


Facebook too has a mostly-text lightweight version:

https://mbasic.facebook.com/


I get "Not found" as the only content served.


Love it, now Yahoo!'s disasterous bloated website needs it but it's mostly clickbait anyway but attests load clickbait faster


I like how if you click on a link, that link is also text only.

The regular CNN site sometimes starts auto-playing videos without asking first.


Historical text here

http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS


If someone could write a wrapper to do this with any major news website, they'd have a hugely popular and profitable product.


I can't believe wayback machine has this. I ran a text-only scraper for ~200 websites back in the early 2000s.

https://web.archive.org/web/20060803053549/http://inr.cjb.ne...

Most were RSS feeds, since those used to exist. The rest were hand-written parsers, which were highly temperamental.


The problem with that is you could aggregate the links, but you can't host the content which kinda defeats the point in the first place.


I've been thinking about introducing a similar alternative to my webpage, but in order to support terminal browsers or IE


Is there somewhere an index of text-only pages?


I clicked without thinking. The landing list is a bit too bare, but I love it anyway. Thank god for text (even unicode text)


Text-only independent news: http://levelnews.org


What’s your affiliation with this site? All your submissions and comments on HN are about it.


I built the site because independent news is being increasingly censored/filtered out by monopoly platforms.


Thanks; you should mention that in your comments. There’s some irony in the fact you hide your affiliation when promoting a website about independent news.


If you could summarize, what are the key takeaways to create awesome, fast and minimal sites like this lite CNN?

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