Hacker Newsnew | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit | ZeroGravitas's commentslogin

Isn't a bit magical to grow a $4Billion a year business and end up spending exactly that amount to run it? I know this gets talked about a lot with regards to Amazon, but do the people running Youtube actually get any extra benefit from being profitable?


So magical it might even be a tax dodge... a lot of companies have a complex structure where some business units are optimized for tax, and other deliver services. They take the profit in the tax optimized units. That might be part of what is going on here...


Precisely. Amazon and Youtube are both in the same position with regards to profitability. If it were desired they could make it happen, if it's not seen as necessary then they can simply plow all of what would have been their profit margins back into growth and development.


There's various automated tools to do this:



It's worth noting that the OSM community has been aware of the routing deficiencies for a long time, so this isn't something that an outsider needed to tell them. See for example this 2009 project which ran a router on the data between the 250 largest cities in the US and found (primarily due to the Tiger sourced data) that entire counties could be cut off from neighbours at boundaries.


They just started with the most important connectivity problems and worked their way down. As the data improved more and more corporate users found it close enough for their needs and started contributing the fixes they needed in a positive feedback loop.

There's now various commercial organisations either fixing the map directly for their own benefit or providing lists of issues for the community to address through projects like Maproulette (http://maproulette.org/) which can point you to random (or nearby) issues for you to fix based on various automated checks (e.g. rivers running uphill) or open data like a list of soccer pitches in France.


I tried maproulette.org. It wanted me to “sign in”, but it turned out it wanted me to log in to OSM, so that was fine. But then OSM asked me to verify MapRoulette to “allow reading my user preferences”. Since it wasn’t obvious what constitutes my preferences or not – my OSM account’s e-mail address has the caption “will never be shown publicly” on it, but would MapRoulette be given my e-mail address? I decided not to risk it and closed the tab.


No, it doesn't include your email address.


The front page isn't intended for end users in the sense of "people looking for a map or directions", it's mainly focused on people who intend to map.

People find it hard to get out of the "Google Maps" mindset, just as everyone approached Linux as a "Cheap Windows" when in reality it can be so much more.

OSM's strategy (and data) aren't perfect, but they're growing the pie rather than fighting for a larger slice and doing pretty well with it. Just like using Linux has become a no-brainer for all sorts of projects from smartphones to supercomputer clusters to educational toys OSM is well on it's way to being the default peer-produced commons for geographical data. Whether that usage happens on one site or a million different commercial, government, non-profit and amateur sites isn't important.


"Let’s be clear: I think Android is a boon to the world; quite possibly it’s the best invention of this century so far. (I’ve said as much many times, but some people find this hard to understand.)"

Possibly because you mention this in the middle of a long screed about how your favourite sports team, sorry corporation, is "winning" against Android OEMs? As if that's the important part of this discussion about technology having a massive impact on the globe and the developing world?

Who made the most profit from the polio vaccine? Which corporation benefitted most from the green revolution? Which printing press had the highest gross margin?


I found out recently that Scott Adams doesn't believe in evolution, which rather colours my response to this headline.



He has some odd ideas about science.

The end of his book "The Dilbert Future" calls for "new ways of looking at existing things." And then claims that all of science is just "looking at things" which, he points out, is pretty unreliable, and that we need to improve our ability to perceive the universe in order to move forward in science. Of note is that he doesn't consider technologies which enhance our perception to be actually doing that (microscopes, telescopes, and other types of sensors are just more forms of "seeing" to him, and are lacking).

He then rather poorly explains double slit experiment and suggests that the arrow of time might just be a figment of your imagination, as well as the motion of objects in general, and gravity.

He skirts around the idea that looking at existing ideas in new ways can be important (who would deny that?) but then devolves into useless examples, claiming that instead of gravity "existing", everything in the universe could just be expanding at just the right rate to create the illusion of gravity. He questions causal relationships and posits something no better than leibniz's monads.

I've derailed a bit here, but man, that book irked me.


I'm glad someone else has noticed the profound weirdness of "The Dilbert Future." I stopped taking Scott Adams seriously a few minutes after reading it. I haven't looked at it since high school (in the 90's -- eek), but IIRC he also believes that his thoughts control the direction of the universe if he writes down affirmations in a notebook daily.


And then claims that all of science is just "looking at things"

Well, at least he got one thing correct. Mostly. Science is a system for generating a model of the world. It just also happens to be the best one we have, insofar as it has generated the most accurate model of the universe to date. Is it perfect? No. Should it be criticized? Yes, otherwise it won't improve. Should we throw it out altogether? Perhaps that question should be put to the literally billions of people whose lives have been saved and improved by the results of science. Or not. Those same billions are probably very badly informed about science, which is what Adams should be railing against, not science itself.


I agree with you say but I just want to emphasize how much that is NOT what Adams says in his book.

In the book, he dismisses science because it's just looking at things and our eyes can deceive us (he uses the example of thinking the earth was flat).

At the same time, he calls for expanding our "perception" of the world. But the many, many ways in which science/technology have legitimately expanded our perception of the universe are dismissed by him, because it's all "just looking at things." A readout of a signal from a radio telescope is just looking at things with our fallible eyes. A measurement of the voltage of a battery is just looking at a readout of a voltmeter.

That is what is supremely frustrating with his view of science.


Reading his actual post on the topic, it seems that he misunderstood (-stands) what evolution is. But he does so in ways that many, many people do, including many people who consider themselves scientifically literate on the topic.

What he's saying shows evolution is wrong is actually...evolution. It's more of a misunderstanding than a disbelief.

Evolution might be the science topic with the most people wrong in believing they understand it.



Random vaguely relevent historical asides:

1. The Walkman was born after a Sony exec had started using a Sony Pressman tape-recorder intended for transcribing meetings/interviews to listen to audio tapes while on planes. They took out the recording functionality and speaker (while adding stereo to the headphones) to make it smaller/cheaper/more portable.

2. Firefox was born after some Mozilla devs took the full featured Mozilla suit and simply hid a lot of the features (email, HTML editor, NNTP newsreader). They later on actually did the work to remove unused code, but at first it was merely cosmetic, though everyone likes to believe there was a mystical time in the past when Firefox was a lean, mean, codebase rather than a minimilist reskin on top of a lot of bloat.

Not sure how that relates to WebRTC, just thought the parallel was amusing.


In reality though it's a good recommendation (for your friend, not you), it just seems odd if you have a particular mental model of what a recommendation should be like, which this violates.

As you say the demographic that watches SVU is likely to have kids that watch Barney and may not be aware that it's on Netflix, so this is a good recomendation for parents even if they won't watch it immediately after some late night SVU binge but rather the next day with their kids.


There's a talk online by a Youtube engineer that covers them rolling out VP9.

Apparently the stats on user engagement show improvement. It seems that initially they showed a lot of improvement, but then they realised they were comparing the average video against only the most popular videos in VP9 (since those made the most sense to transcode first) and obviously people are more likely to keep watching something really popular.

Once they took that into account they did identify that some older machines would have a degraded performance and therefore lower engagement with VP9, but the heuristic for avoiding them is "Running XP" so it seems that most modern machines have a better experience with CPU decoding of VP9.

I believe they were up to 60% of all desktop views in VP9 by the end of last summer, so I'd guess if it was going to melt anyones's computer it would have happened by now.


Implying that the woman who wrote this article is a liar, and has invented her story like a UFO abductee, also seems harsh, some might say "misogynistic" even.

Sadly this attitude seems too common to put it down to psychopathy, which is seemingly only about 1 percent of the population (though mostly male apparently).



Applications are open for YC Summer 2015

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Y Combinator | Apply | Contact