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In the case of vaccines, phase one trials tell you if there's an immune response to the antigen being used. This is a good first approximation of effectiveness.

The level of response could still be too low, but at least there's something happening.

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"Restauranteurs are very clear and vocal about why they hate yelp -- it is because Yelp uses reviews as a way to blackmail them into buying advertisements in Yelp. That is pretty fucked up behaviour and has been confirmed by many people many times."

No, it's been alleged many times -- by unreliable sources. It's never been shown to be true, and in fact, the allegations that have made it to court have been dismissed for lack of evidence:

http://www.suntimes.com/technology/4622094-478/extortion-law...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020450530457700...

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I've written plenty of Rails code, and I don't know where you find these well-documented libraries that are magically readable. Most Rails libraries are as abysmally documented as any other project.

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Yeah, I'd have to agree. If we're going to say "there's a language that is more readable than others", then I guess Python's enforced "one way to do it" paradigm lends itself better to external eyes than Ruby does.

I guess Lisp'ers might feel similarly.

But it's all relative, everyone else's code is hard to read, at least for the first 15 minutes. By that time, you could have Googled 30 times over looking for the result.

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> everyone else's code is hard to read

I agree, and that could easily be "everyone's code is hard to read". Sometimes I look at some stuff I wrote a few years back and want to smack the author for writing such crappy code

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He didn't say libs were well documented. He said ruby libraries usually have the same or similar structure/coding style.

The point is that it's oftentimes easier to grep the source for something than to track down said thing in google.

SPECIALLY because ruby libs tend to be horribly documented, but most times with simple-ish code to understand.

And, moreover, if you see a library that does too many weird things and you can't follow, it means that probably the code is shit and it's time to look for an alternative :)

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I think DDG is a great example of why Google doesn't have a BOSS-like API. It seems pretty clear that DDG is violating the TOS of the Yahoo API by mixing search results. Yahoo seems to be looking the other way (for now), but you can bet that Google would be less forgiving.

There's not a search engine out there that wants to allow you to muck with their relevance algorithm by changing the results, and Google has more to lose from DDG-like activity than it might gain.

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http://developer.yahoo.com/search/boss/

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While I think you're probably absolutely correct from a legal perspective, I also think that you're missing the point. This is interesting precisely because the contract is so amateurish, yet it appears that Zuckerberg actually signed the damned thing! As bizarre and weak as the claims may be to a lawyer, to a layman, this is the clearest evidence yet that Zuckerberg was involved in some shady dealings early in Facebook history. And this time, unlike the rich kids involved in the previous dispute, we've got an amateur investor, who can't afford competent legal counsel.

You're thinking like a lawyer, and focusing on the technicalities of the case. Everyone else is taking the contract at face value. If Zuckerberg gets out of this on a legal technicality, it's because he's damned lucky that the contract he signed wasn't written by a better attorney. Frankly, I doubt that most laypeople like the precedent of that outcome.

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to a layman, this is the clearest evidence yet that Zuckerberg was involved in some shady dealings

Really? Perhaps to the sort of layman who's already quite convinced 'shady dealings' took place. If someone got some college kid to sign an unenforceable (and certainly ridiculously unfair, from an ethical, if not legal standpoint) contract, how is that evidence of 'shady dealings', rather than inexperience and naivete?

The whole thing seems completely preposterous, I think to anyone who's entered a contract or two. It's hard to imagine the 'everyone' who would take this contract at face value, at least, not the subset of everyone who's ever signed a lease, mortgage or employment agreement and/or has had the most passing consultation with a lawyer about one. The fact that someone with professional legal expertise feels the whole thing is likely preposterous makes it more, not less likely that is the case. To suggest otherwise is to possess an oddly conspiratorial turn of mind.

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Any item of litigation will resolve itself based on two major factors: (1) legal technicalities; and (2) what I call "motivating factors."

I upvoted irq11's comment, though I disagree with the conclusion, for flagging this important distinction.

Any lawyer who assesses a case purely on legal technicalities will likely get caught short because all concerned at a trial (judge and jury) will normally be taking a wider view of the case based on their sense of what really happened between the parties, regardless of legal technicalities. If they see someone as a liar, a jerk, a schemer, a shark, or whatever, they will be highly "motivated" to find against that party so long as the law gives them any hook upon which to do so.

That said, my own view tends to align with yours (pvg). As I see it, this thing has "shark" written all over it, and the shark here will likely be seen to be Mr. Ceglia (both because of the heavily lopsided contract terms and because he is opportunistically trying to sandbag FB's shareholders - who clearly are innocent even if Mr. Zuckerberg is not - after lying in wait for many years, a dirty shot by any measure). I could be wrong on this, of course, but I would be quite surprised in this sort of case if someone who did what Mr. Ceglia did here would be viewed sympathetically at any phase of this court proceeding. In other words, I would say that the "motivating factors" for this case would tilt in favor of Mr. Zuckerberg (and Facebook) from the facts revealed so far. Reasonable minds might differ on this (with respect to Mr. Zuckerberg only), and other facts might later be revealed to alter this conclusion, but that is how I see it so far.

Of course, there is no accounting for how people might choose to see this outside of court but I think this tends to confirm my point that many people simply have a desire to see Mr. Zuckerberg get his comeuppance and that is why the reporting comes out the way it does as well.

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Your position is as biased as any other -- you're just choosing to focus on Zuckerberg's age, and consequently assume that he was victimized. Perhaps that's true, perhaps not.

When I look at this, I see an incredibly unsophisticated legal agreement. The author of the contract hardly strikes me as a knowledgable player, and I'm not inclined to assume that he ever had the upper hand in a battle of wits with Zuckerberg. In any case, the fact that a contract is poorly written doesn't automatically make me disregard it's intent, and here the intent of the contract is so clear that even Mark Zuckerberg -- innocent babe that he was -- could have understood it.

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Right but it's exactly the intent that seems almost predatory, however legally unsophisticated it is. Let's assume, as seems reasonable, that both parties were fairly clueless and acting without the benefit of good professional advice. When you read the contract, doesn't the stuff Ceglia is asking for seem kind of nuts? And not in any technical legal sense, just in general.

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On the contrary, this is the kind of precedent I'm happy about, as a (youngish) entrepreneur.

Take me for example. I'm working on my own startup. Eventually, I'm probably going to get funding, and sign into some kind of contract. Now the fact is, I'm no legal expert, and I don't have money to hire a legal expert from day one. The fact that the law makes some contracts unenforceable makes me feel much safer about not entering into any kind of mess that will seriously screw me.

Obviously, this only goes so far. And of course I will pay for actual legal counsel before entering a contract. But anything that society can do to make it easier to start a startup, including things like not having to worry about certain legalities, is a Good Thing, since it makes startups more likely.

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"I will pay for actual legal counsel before entering a contract"

That's easy to say - when it comes down to getting a lawyer to review something or making payroll that months it starts to look a bit trickier - especially when you realize that having a lawyer review something actually only provides a very limited form of protection. Of course, if you have external investors you tend to use lawyers more as you have to be seen to be performing due diligence and, of course, you simply have more money.

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But if your would-be funders have to think too hard about what kind of contract they can offer you, that's enforcable --- they might not decide not to bother at all with funding you.

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pg: "A lot of startups have some kind of secret about the subterfuges they had to resort to in the early days..."

http://www.paulgraham.com/hackernews.html

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That parenthetical only applies to the clause about result ordering. if you read the whole TOS, it's quite clear that Bing doesn't want you to do what DDG appears to be doing. In particular, mixing results from different services is a no-no in most search APIs.

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Of course! Everyone assumes that Bing is just a drop-in replacement for Google, but it doesn't come without costs: Google has a massive brand identity. The phone with Google search has an implicit advantage over the phone with "Bing".

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Google is the default search engine of most Microsoft users. There's no way the iPhone is going to lose Google search. Meanwhile, search is simply not a huge part of my iPhone experience.

Maps is actually a bigger deal to me --- but maps is also easier to replace.

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Google is spending upwards of a billion US dollars to make Street View, in the process creating a top-notch street map of the World. And now they provide that data free, I doubt Google maps is so easily replaced, even with Bing Maps.

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I actually prefer Bing maps, because I believe it supports really nice zooming with Seadragon?

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It's not like Google's gonna block iPhones from Google search.

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No. The chance of being incorrect in the first round is factored into the first term (since that term is calculating the probability of picking an entirely correct first bracket). The second term need only represent the chance of picking correctly from the teams in the second round, given that the first round was correctly predicted.

In other words, it's a straightforward application of the chain rule for probabilities:

p(A,B) = p(A) * p(B|A)

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I don't think we disagree. Mind bearing with me for a moment?

Probability of A (round 1 / selecting the right urn):

1 / 2^32 (32 games, 2 possible winners for each)

Probability of B (round 2:

1 / 4^16 (16 games, 4 possible winners for each)

Probability of A and B:

(1 / 2^32) * (1 / 4^16)

So it would appear the chain rule for probability agrees with my point. What am I missing?

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Your second term is wrong. There are 16 matches in the second round, and you have a 1/2 chance of picking the winner in each, not a 1/4 chance.

The first term (.5^32) is the probability of picking all of the winners in round one (p(A)). The second term (p(B|A)), must be the probability of picking all the winners in round two, given that you picked correctly in round one. Again, that's .5^16, not .25^16.

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You're right, thanks for explaining it. I still couldn't see it this morning, but I talked it out with my co-founder, and he got through to me.

Thanks for sticking with it.

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On the other hand, the Danes have a system where the workforce is extremely mobile, precisely because every worker is guaranteed up to four years of unemployment benefits. Employers are under no obligation to retain employees, because there's a great safety net.

If we're going to talk about unintended consequences, we need to consider all sides: what is the unintended consequence of a system that provides no assurances to workers during economic downturns? I suspect the downside is quite harsh.

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You have a curious definition of "all sides" in which the solution space appears to be "Impose European-style levels of benefits" XOR "Unemployed people starve in the snow." I am missing anybody here seriously proposing the second option.

I suspect the downside to having employment-at-will, very modest unemployment benefits, and a liquid labor market exists. I also suspect that it can be measured in terms of objectively verifiable criteria, and compared with the alternatives. For example, I suspect that I can look in a US newspaper for a count of the number of cars burned last night by immigrants rioting over lack of economic opportunity. It will take me a whole lot of searching, because few newspapers publish articles titled "BREAKING! No riot today, either!"

Then I could look at the same number in a French newspaper. (100 a day on quiet days, spiking to over a thousand on New Years or during periods of mass unrest. You might think I'm exaggerating. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1869392,00.htm... )

Alternatively, if counting riots seems a little messy, I could look at unemployment statistics for those under twenty five. In the United States, for youths at large, it is about 11~12% right now. In France, it is over 20 -- down a bit from a few years ago when it hit 25%. For socially disadvantaged groups in America, for example black males without a high school degree, it is about 48%. For similarly situated folks in France (for example, uneducated immigrants), unemployment is close to total.]

I can go on if you want me to.

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You have valid points, but you also must consider how different France is from the U.S. When their unions strike over compensation, for example, they close down roads and burn things. Our unions strike by marching in circles with signs. Most of the immigrants you speak of live in the equivalent to housing projects. America has housing projects, but much, much fewer. It's something the French have embraced, to the detriment of their society, because it keeps their immigrant population from integrating. America prides itself on it's diversity and France prides itself on it's "Frenchness." I think you need to consider all of these things when talking about the reasons the young, unemployed French riot.

One more thing. I don't know about the ethnic or age breakdown, but right now French and American unemployment percentages are same. The difference is the French unemployed have healthcare and other social programs, so they're better off, in many instances, than Americans.

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Well, yes and no. The farmers will do that, year. Metro workers often "strike" by running a normal service but refusing to collect fares. That keeps the public on-side.

A friend of mine was at the last Santacon in Paris, they were mistaken for striking workers...

Incidentally, the banlieus of Paris are worse than "the ghetto" of any American city. Except maybe Detroit.

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I don't assume that the options are mutually exclusive. That said, I'm pragmatic enough to know that someone has to pay for a system like the Danes'. It comes at the expense of high taxes for all.

But if we're talking about curious, all-or-nothing thinking, I have to wonder why you're so obsessively focused on the French? A quick Google search tells me that the unemployment rate in Denmark (horrible social welfare state and all), is only around 5%. Perhaps the problems in France are specific to France?

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I generally assume Americans/Europeans are comparatively well-informed on the economies and present socio/political situations of America/Europe. I could have used Japan as the main example, but if I alluded to something like "90% of the foreign population from my town is either unemployed or has emigrated in response to a government policy which paid foreigners to leave" I'd probably have to give you the back story on why central Japan has lots of Peruvians/Brazilians and their social status, then give you a rundown on what the difference between a seishain and a hakkenshain is, then discuss the changing norms about lifetime employment, then explain why the Japanese benefit system makes it almost impossible to land a seishain job unless you look like the perfect applicant, and finally get to the actual numbers which demonstrate my point.

Which would be difficult because I have about five minutes left on my lunch break and then it is back to the web programming salt mines.

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Do you see the discrepancy in your recognising that you need to give all sorts of specific details as to the background and circumstances leading to the immigrant employment problems in Japan, but you're willing to make broad generalisations about France? In truth the two situations are likely as mind-boggingly complicated as each other.

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Absolutely. The ideal system would combine high worker mobility (at will employment, no non-compete agreements, etc) with a generous safety net to minimize the cost of losing one's job.

It seems like the issue here is the way unemployment is funded.

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Are there not also cultural issues?

Some people see a safety net as just that, and use it as a stop-gap while planning on future employment.

Others may see it as sweet free ride to milk as long and as much as possible.

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That is the problem we have in the UK. There is a whole welfare based subculture, often referred to as "chavs".

Personally I would like to see entitlement to the dole based on education... The taxpayer has paid to educate everyone up to the age of 18. If someone throws away that opportunity and leaves school without qualifications they're unemployable, why should the taxpayer support them in that case?

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Well, just maybe because when they are under 18 they are deemed a "child" and the thing about "children" is they don't always act in their long term best interests. They may have been raised badly. They may have done badly at primary school and been left behind by the education system. Yes, some people are feckless scroungers. But punishing them for that is leaving things too late. We need, as a society, to find ways to help people become productive members of our society, wherever they start from.

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Give them an opportunity to catch up. If they don't have a high school diploma, make them get one as a condition for getting benefits. Be flexible and offer night classes for people who work part time. I agree that punishing people whom either made bad choices or found themselves in a bad situation as kids is not productive, but it is equally unproductive to leave them in the situation they are.

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The alternative is punishing those who made good choices, by taxing them to pay for the others. And it's not like those choices are even hard to make: ask any 10-year-old if he thinks he might need his education to get a job. People know this. But they know they get a free ride too. That's got to change.

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If I had to chose between my tax money going towards letting people sit at home and watch day time TV or letting them get an education, I'll happily choose the latter every time.

Secondly, we're talking about 16 year old kids here. If there is one thing that is pretty much universally true about teenagers it's that they're not very smart. Ask your avg. 16-18 year old high school dropout about the connection between education and jobs and they'll no doubt give you a long list of people who did perfectly fine without a high school diploma. They turn on their TVs and see people making millions without any education at all. Those are their role models. Then they look out their window and see college educated people just as unemployed as they are. Many kids don't see the connection between education as jobs. Telling people who later in life realized they might have made the wrong choice "hey you had a chance when you where a kid, too bad if you missed it", is not doing anyone any favours.

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To each according to his needs, from each according to his ability. Two sides of the same coin, Comrade.

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This also happens to some extent in Denmark. Generally, they think that the cost is worth the benefit of the system.

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The "safety net" should NOT be generous or minimize the "cost of losing one's job"; it should do no more than assure that losing a job is not a catastrophe; it should not be made less than seriously uncomfortable.

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It depends on the reasons for the safety net--- one reason is a simple humanitarian one (don't want people homeless, etc.), for which the bare minimum suffices, but another reason is as an automatic business-cycle smoother, in which case you want reasonably generous unemployment benefits: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4750

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This was also covered in The Affluent Society, which you should read.

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This was also covered in The Affluent Society, which you should read.

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what is the unintended consequence of a system that provides no assurances to workers during economic downturns?

It exacerbates the business cycle for very obvious reasons, and it also slows economic growth as it results in more conservative investment, and lower spending on the parts of both businesses and consumers alike.

The real world numbers seem to bear out that unemployment compensation of some sort is a good thing.

The real world numbers also seem to bear out that if an undue portion of that compensation must come from the former employer specifically, that it creates some unfortunate disincentives towards hiring in the first place, which reduce (or in extreme cases eliminate) the benefits.

In short, Patio1 is right in thinking that the French system has some drawbacks... but his claim that the French system is some sort of inevitable end result of worker rights is utter and complete rubbish. The problem is nothing to do with workers rights, and everything to do with the specific implementation.

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Actually, a system that provides "assurances to workers" during a downturn might exacerbate the business cycle.

(This is the recalculation theory of business cycles.)

A recession is caused when resources are systematically devoted to suboptimal purposes. For instance, we built too many houses and we just discovered they aren't worth much.

A laid off construction worker, auto worker or buggy whip maker may think he can still get his old job back. Generous unemployment insurance allows him to wait around for a long time, hoping to get back a job similar to his old job. However, absent unemployment insurance, he would be forced to take whatever he could get, thereby shortening the recession.

(Note: this doesn't dispute your theory of more conservative investment/spending decisions, it's just another countervailing factor that must enter into the cost/benefit calculation.)

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Generous unemployment insurance allows him to wait around for a long time, hoping to get back a job similar to his old job. However, absent unemployment insurance, he would be forced to take whatever he could get, thereby shortening the recession.

This isn't a cut and dry argument either. That said, it's the reason that some unemployment compensation packages include or are dependent on job placement services and/or retraining efforts.

If you simply provide people with moderate passive income, the likelihood that they'll use it to update their skill set and change the direction of their career depends on a whole host of variables (satisfaction at previous jobs, age, industry, amount and type of education, union membership, other cultural factors.)

As such, I'd agree that for some people, income without retraining or mandatory placement services has a deleterious effect, but this is in no way a universal phenomena.

The detroit auto worker is pretty much the poster child for the problem you cite. This is because they tend to be on the wrong side of every variable I mentioned (low satisfaction, high age, salaried employment, a contract industry, relatively low formal education, higher vocational education, union members, and likely to be part of a generation that feels they are "owed" jobs.)

That said, their existence doesn't demonstrate that the programs are an overall drain, because they aren't representative of the average unemployed worker. They're skewed negatively in every dimension that matters.

Their existence does, however, reinforce the value of retraining services and mandatory placement efforts as part of a maximally effective unemployment compensation program.

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I wasn't trying to imply that unemployment is an overall drain, I was simply pointing out a countervailing factor. Overall, I really don't know how these various factors add up. I imagine the result varies widely from place to place, and it's a very difficult empirical question to answer.

In fact, ultimately I suspect that the variation from place to place is the exact opposite of what would be optimal.

As you say, Detroit auto workers are on the wrong side of every variable. I expect that they also vote for generous benefits. In contrast, a place with a hard working "get off your ass and get a damn job" culture will probably vote for stingy unemployment benefits even though generous benefits would not be (locally) harmful.

It's a bit of a flaw with a democratic system.

However, a proposed solution which addresses both aggregate demand and disincentives would be to make unemployment benefits as unpleasant as possible while still providing monetary benefits. For instance, we could create a social stigma around receiving unemployment benefits. Or we might require unemployed people to submit to weekly adversarial interviews about their job search at 3AM in a cold/hot building with no chairs.

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