Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Request PG: Could we please have the black bar out for Steve Jobs?
392 points by justlearning on Oct 6, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 78 comments
I don't know what to say. It's a heart-numbing moment.

Looks like pg might be busy trying to keep the site up and running.

And yet it's up. Thanks.

For the unenlightened (or perhaps just me), what do you mean by "have the black bar out"?

When a member of the community, or a popular figure in the hacker community passes away, a black bar is put at the top of HN in memory of that person.

Ah! Thank you very much. It looks like the black bar is now up there, too.

Turning the orange bar at the top black. It's been done before as a sign of respect for other important people in the computing world who have passed.

PG has twice put a black bar above the top bar in memory of someone's death. See http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=644954 for the first use of it, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=859117 for the second.

He also did it (most recently I think) for rtm's father: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2712469

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=644954 It's a black bar across the top of the page. pg puts it up in memorial.

the red topbar is changed to black to show condolences.

Thanks PG.




There's a button for that...

I'll say what nobody else seems willing to say: I don't think he deserves it. De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all that, but let's face it: Steve Jobs was a skilled salesman, nothing more.

Let's keep the black bar for people who have actually made a contribution to computing.

Edit: 2 minutes and already voted down to -4. Oh well, I knew this would be an unpopular opinion...

The black bar isn't there as a trophy for the person who died. It's there to provide a comfort to the people who are grieving as a result of what happened.

I don't know Steve Jobs. He was given an amazing life; a more than ample measure of the best things the world has for us; an eminently square deal. I am, I suppose, sad in the abstract for his family. Who Jobs carefully made sure I knew almost nothing about.

But Jobs made things happen, had an impact on my life, set a standard, for things I care about, and then personified --- animated --- that standard. He was relevant to me. And I am tired of cancer fucking things up that are relevant to me.

So, it's messing with me, a little, and I'm glad the silly black bar is there so at least I don't feel like I'm crazy to feel that way.

This is one of the most narrowminded and arrogant statements I've read on HN in a while, if not ever.

I think it's hard to argue that Steve Jobs hasn't had a huge impact on the trajectory of computing over the last 20 years. A large share of the commenters here read this on computers developed by the company he started, talk to their friends using phones he dreamed up, and listen to music using software and hardware he headed.

Not all contributions to computing, or the world, are made by hackers.

If you can't even acknowledge the contribution and impact Apple has made on computing in general right now, then you are significantly more far-gone than anyone you have ever accused of being a fanboy.

That's just a ridiculous statement. Steve Jobs made no contribution to computing? Complete bullshit.

Oh, I acknowledge the impact Apple has had on computing. But they've done that primarily by being very good at marketing, not by being technically innovative.

Show me a laptop thinner than the Air.

Show me a smartphone more popular than the iPhone.

Show me a tablet more popular than the iPad.

Show me a desktop computer selling more than the iMac.

Show me a laptop selling more than the Macbook Pro.

Show me the company that did multi-touch for the masses before the iPhone.

Show me some better knowledge of this industry, and a bit of decency.

Aside from the fact that I believe your statement to be false, do you really believe that someone being among the very best at what they do in the industry that you are a part of not worthy of honor?

And may I suggest that, as a startup founder, it is a point worthy of introspection since it betrays contempt for one of the most important functions of a company?

Once again, complete bullshit. iOS is extremely innovative, iPods changed the portable player landscape and challenging Microsoft for a real place in the desktop OS market isn't exactly easy.

They are also great marketers, but to deny that Apple has brought no technical innovations to the table is just ridiculous and you know it. Or at least I hope you know it.

I'm amazed that you can make such an ignorant statement.

The first commercially viable GUI on commodity hardware sounds pretty innovative to me, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

For me, though the biggest 'technical' innovation that Apple has consistently delivered on is in making technology usable in everyday life.

Sure, it's not hard-core cryptography or massively parallel search-algorithms. But making devices and interfaces that are beautiful and enjoyable to use on a daily basis is incredibly difficult, and ranks just as high on my list as PageRank or Cassandra.

Thanks to Apple (and Jobs), I've got technology from Star Trek sitting in my pocket -- an iPhone. It wasn't the first smartphone by a mile, but it was the first that was genuinely useful to everybody, which is why every other phone on the market has followed Apple's lead in interface design.

Call that 'marketing' if you will, but all of that 'marketing' has made the world a better place for a very large number of people in a direct and measurable way.

Colin, this is just not a good time for this.

Sigh. I hate political correctness.

Ok, nil nisi bonum it is; I'll shut up now.

Colin, you are now officially the most militantly nerdy person I know. Militant nerdery: bad for empathy, GREAT for cryptosystems. I'm getting our IT guy to sign up for Tarsnap tomorrow.

Colin, you are now officially the most militantly nerdy person I know

I credit coming from a family of academics who care strongly about academic freedom. That said, I think I even shocked some highly liberal academics last year when I stood up in a university senate meeting and decried a proposed affirmative action policy as "unabashedly racist".

Militant nerdery: bad for empathy, GREAT for cryptosystems. I'm getting our IT guy to sign up for Tarsnap tomorrow.

blink I was not expecting that. I was hoping that people wouldn't hold my personal opinions against me professionally, but I didn't think for a moment that I'd gain any customers.

I'm not kidding.

It's a good thing he runs his own company too, because boards / PR depts don't think like that, and would be having a fit if they found this. ;-)

"Founder of Tar Snap (Nasdaq: TRSP) pisses on Steve Jobs's grave!"

You don't need to be technically innovative to make an impact on computing. Steve was also smart about what technology not to use. Sacrificing multitasking for battery life, for example.

Steve pursued excellence. Many people and businesses make something that's barely good enough and then focus on marketing and sales. Steve became insanely successful as a perfectionist, and in the business world that's almost unheard of. I find that very inspirational.

You realize how poorly your comments reflect on your product, right? I'll certainly never support Tarsnap after reading this garbage.

I'd rather be poor, friendless, and honest than be rich and have friends only because I refused to air controversial opinions.

I'm glad I don't have any investors or employees who could be hurt, though.

You seem to think you are being brutally honest. You aren't, you're being painfully arrogant. There is a massive difference.

I expressed an honestly held opinion. It is possible that opinion was the result of painful arrogance. Those are not contradictory.

Taking the opportunity of a man's death to call him overrated is not speaking truth to power: it's tacky and tasteless by any measure.

Don't pride yourself too much on being "honest". It is far easier to go around always telling the truth than to apply discretion.

Typically people understand being brutally honest as providing a painful to hear but helpful or contributory opinion.

When your opinion comes from nothing but arrogance, ignorance, and a 4chan style need to draw attention to yourself by being deliberately insensitive, then your opinion isn't brutally honest. It's worthless, and you should keep it to yourself.

I don't agree with cpercival's comments, and I am quite saddened by the loss of Steve - more so than I would have expected.

But it should be pointed out that the comments in no way reflect poorly on Tarsnap. It's a fantastic product.

(other than the fact that the account balance alerts only consider storage used, not traffic charges. Grr.)

edit: Downvoted already? For being a satisfied customer? Really?

other than the fact that the account balance alerts only consider storage used, not traffic charges. Grr.

I wish I had a good solution to this -- but it's impossible to predict when someone is going to be using lots of bandwidth, and alerting based on the current total spending rate had a very high false positive rate since bandwidth usage usually spikes for a single day and then goes down to a small fraction of the storage cost.

The downvoting is probably for being off-topic.

Any discussion of the technology of someone who is running a small business is certainly on-topic.

So, what about using exponential smoothing or 95% peak estimation to get a better "current" spending rate? There is also the possibility to do some data mining on the actual usage (assuming you have collect that data and are willing to use it in aggregate to improve service) — i.e. customers who spend like you do and have a balance like yours usually run out of money after x days.

Another option I just thought of: try and estimate usage several different ways, and then check the variance — if its low, then issue an alert. I wouldn't be surprised if there is some research on how to do this, so it should be cook-up-able relatively easily if its a feature you want to add.

Exponential smoothing and peak estimation won't help with the fundamental problem, which is that warning based on storage costs alone produces the correct result -- in the sense that funds run out after exactly 7 days -- 90% of the time. Any non-trivial addition of bandwidth costs into the equation is going to hurt far more often than it helps.

Well, it doesn't produce the correct result for us, where bandwidth costs are more than 7 times storage costs, so we get our warning far too late.


cperciva has demonstrated a complete lack of tact or class, but neither of these changes the fact that he does make an excellent product.

Why is Colin downvoted for expressing a contrary opinion? Come on folks this is HN.

Fwiw On his twitter feed Colin made the more nuanced point that we didn't mourn this way for Dijkstra or Jim Gray that we do for Jobs. An interesting thought, but it didn't come through here.

I think what seems to trigger all the downvoting is this bit "De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and all that, but let's face it: Steve Jobs was a skilled salesman, nothing more." and "Let's keep the black bar for people who have actually made a contribution to computing."

One way to counter this opinion is to just state specifically how Steve Jobs is more than a skilled salesman etc. Should be fairly easy to do. I think the skills of a superior tech company CEO (and Steve Jobs was certainly that) go well beyond being a salesman,which has connotations of just selling something other people thought up.

As to the black bar,my personal opinion is that the black bar is a courtesy, a social grace if you will. As with all social niceties it isn't perfectly rational or completely logically justifiable. If you feel irritated by it, just hang in there and it will go away soon.

Meanwhile, thank you Colin, for making me think (about the way we treat the death of a celebrity differently than people who die relatively "unknown" but may have contributed more (on a strictly logical basis).

One way to counter this opinion is to just state specifically how Steve Jobs is more than a skilled salesman etc. Should be fairly easy to do.

Absolutely. And if Colin were entirely ignorant of technology, the history of computers, human-computer interaction, etc. to the degree of, say, someone who has been in a coma for 30+ years, then it would be necessary to make those statements.

"And if Colin were entirely ignorant of technology, the history of computers, human-computer interaction, etc. to the degree of, say, someone who has been in a coma for 30+ years, then it would be necessary to make those statements."

this is the kind of unhelpful snark that doesn't have a place on HN (imo).

At least with known people like Colin, it seems better to assume good will on his part, just that he has a different opinion on the relative contribution of Steve Jobs.

And specifically to your point, it seems to me that Colin is questioning how much of "technology, the history of computers, human-computer interaction" was actually driven by Jobs himself. His answer seems to be "not all that much" and I do think it is a valid point of view that needs a refutation not a rude dismissal just because he has opinions different from yours.

fwiw I do think Jobs is more than a "salesman". I just don't have the detailed information on his turnaround of Apple or the knowludge of what it takes to run a company etc to refute Colin properly.

I think Colin's more subtle point maybe that even in mourning, we focus too much on the celebrity in the limelight and not so much on the 'real' (please note the quotes) contributors to computing.

All that said, I've said what I think needs saying and won't be saying any more on this and won't extend the thread any further.

Like a lot of other HN ers, I am processing Steve's passing in my own fashion and if I don't say the usual things like "RIP Steve. he will be missed" etc it is because that isn't my style.


And specifically to your point, it seems to me that Colin is questioning how much of "technology, the history of computers, human-computer interaction" was actually driven by Jobs himself.

Obviously that is his position. And my position is that anyone who would ask such a question must surely have next to zero knowledge of technology, the history of computers, human-computer interaction, etc. An alternative explanation might be willful ignorance.

I think no one is willing to say it, because no one else was thinking it..

I was thinking it, but to my surprise I find myself disagreeing. I watch with growing dismay as crippled appliances and learned helplessness sweep the industry, but they are in fact what the market currently wants, and with long practice Jobs developed exceptional and laudable skill at not only identifying what the market wants but making a corporate behemoth deliver it in a very focused form.

That's an interesting agreement/disagreement. :)

It seems what you're saying is that Jobs was very good at what he does, but what he does is inimical to hacker culture...

It's not just what he's saying, it's obvious objective fact. A device that I can't play around with and run my code on without paying my dues is merely a toy. I'm not universally opposed to toys -- my music player is an iPod nano, which is quite obviously a toy, but I'm not willing to support the toy-ification of general-purpose computing devices.

I'm no friend of sacred cows, and frankly I'm going to save my mourning for people I actually know, but I think you're wrong about Steve Jobs being nothing more than a skilled salesman.

More than any other company, Jobs' Apple has been relentlessly visionary. Many tech companies did (and still do) write software. Apple, on the other hand, designs and builds products - software is an implementation detail. Apple's core is software as an end, not as a means.

Fifty years from now, I believe that programmer will be one of those hilarious dated occupations like typist or milkman. Asking if someone has wifi will be like asking if they're on the grid, and computers (and computing) will be so ubiquitous that they become invisible.

I don't think Steve Jobs contributed to computing any more than Martin Luther King contributed to literature. His legacy isn't in his tools, it's in how he used those tools to shape the world as he wanted.

Your statement flies in the face of the hundreds of comments on HN to the contrary. If you don't think helping millions of people discover the joy, magic and power of computers and technology is less than a massive contribution to computing then I'm not sure what is.

At the very least, Jobs had a tremendous impact on the tech community. As a more recent example, look at the amount of people posting on HN the week after he left Apple. He should IMHO be remembered by those who knew, worked with, and respected him.

Edit: I disagree with you that he didn't have a significant impact on computing itself, but if hypothetically he hadn't, he was still far too well known.

Fortunately this site is about more than just pure computer science. Steve Jobs was one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time.

I don't know you, so I won't judge. But, I will say that you sound like someone who thinks that all the honor is in the academic/theoretical exercise- that there is little or no challenge or value in making something used by real people.

Well that's well and good, but it's also smug and elitest. The value a person creates is a function of the single achievement and the number of people who use or benefit from it. By that measure, I think you would have to say that even if you consider the Mac, iPod, iPhone, and iPad small achievements the multiplier means Jobs created TREMENDOUS value.

If, by salesman, you mean someone who understands the needs of people and satisfies those needs even when they don't recognize them for themselves, then yes Steve Jobs was a salesman. And, we should all aspire to be such salespeople.

It's wonderful and good to pursue knowledge and discovery in a vacuum when everything is insulated from reality. It's a whole other thing to take the theoretical and apply it for practical use in a culture of incredibly complex and changing people. Arguably, this is much harder than the academic pursuit because the target is ever-changing.

What Steve Jobs did was not some smoke and mirrors bullshit. He was not a snake oil salesman. He CREATED! And he CREATED things that people love to use.

For myself, the ridiculousness of your comment has nothing whatsoever to do with whether someone somewhere may find it offensive. Other than direct communication with family, the concept of eliminating critical comments regarding someone who has recently died is, frankly, pathetic.

No, the ridiculousness of your comment is that you actually believe Steve Jobs has not made a contribution to computing. That's simply insane. Your mind is totally divorced from reality.

I have never owned an Apple product but it is quite obvious that Apple with Steve Jobs at the helm have had a large effect on a lot of the hardware and software I do use. Whether he was a salesman, a programmer, or a janitor he was obviously important to a lot of hackers.

He introduced millions of hackers to their first computer. I'd call that a contribution, indirect as it is.

I attribute that more to Steve Wozniak than to Steve Jobs.

Most nerds do. They fail to realize that very few would have known of Wozniak's work--would not have used it in homes and schools and businesses, would not have been able to integrate the computers that resulted from Wozniak's work in their everyday lives.

Computers for everyone? Yeah, it's the result of marketing, in a lot of ways. But it's also the result of an intuitive understanding of users--of users, not borderline-Asperger's hacker types--and the business discipline and leadership to say "we're going here, I know it's not easy, make it happen." Vision is valuable. Technical contributions are so much less valuable without the vision to apply them to do something great.

And without Jobs, do you think Wozniak is able to do that?

Agreed. My first real programming experience was on a Macintosh doing BASIC.

I don't see why this is being downvoted. Is it because people disagree? Because that isn't a reason to downvote.

It seems accurate to say that Jobs was a salesman. He didn't design or write any software or hardware that I know of.

That's not why it is getting down voted, I believe.

Jobs influence over Apple's products went far beyond merely selling them well, and this was extensively discussed in the bazillion news stories and blog posts in response to his resignation as CEO, and those were heavily discussed here on HN and in other comparable forums.

Accordingly, I believe that many of the down voters don't merely disagree with the post, but believe that it is objectively wrong, AND feel that there is just no good excuse for a regular HN reader/poster being wrong on this.

Is it because people disagree? Because that isn't a reason to downvote.

It's a common and legitimate reason to downvote on HN, even pg has said so. I once disagreed with this practice but have changed my mind given it has been 'approved'.

And to say Jobs was a salesman because he didn't "design" any hardware is bizarre. He was the driving force behind the Macintosh and involved in almost every decision surrounding it, even if he wasn't the one with the pen at the drafting board. It's like saying Obama is merely a spokesman.

The downvotes are because his post is highly disrespectful in tone, and frankly ignorant in substance.

It would be just as accurate to call either Einstein or Feynman "just a physics teacher". The title, while technically accurate, fails to fully encompass the magnitude of the work.

A closer analogy, for better or worse, might be someone like Carl Sagan.

Some people disagreed with me; I think most just felt I was being disrespectful.

If you are unaware of Steve Jobs' contribution to both hardware and software you are sadly uninformed, not just about Steve's life and work but about what it takes to create products that can change the world. I don't even own a single Apple product, but he has made everything I use so much better.

Even if you were right, curation is an act of creation. (Clearly, too)

This was Startup News before Hacker News... and while Steve's skill as a hacker could be disputed, his position as the greatest CEO of the modern era is basically indisputable.

If I had the power to down vote a comment, I would find a way to use it twice for this.

I dont agree with you but I agree to give you freedom to express your opinion that's why voted you up

First time in 3+ years of lurking on hackernews when I wish I had enough karma to downvote you.

I'm fond of criticizing tech messiahs, but I'll still admit that Jobs was more than a salesman. He knew how to get a team going in a particular direction to produce good industrial design.

It's a rare skill.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact