Minimizing Defection Might be the Solution to the Tragedy of the Commons

Minimizing Defection Might be the Solution to the Tragedy of the Commons. Being that my background is in CompSci I tend to think about thinks in terms of probabilities, statistics, game theory, and distributed systems. I’ve recently made what I think may be a unique observation about a number of social problems that might all be related to one root cause - defection. I might be wrong but would love some feedback. It’s an exceedingly...

Polar 1.19.8 Released - Better Payments and Fixes

Polar 1.19.8 Released - Better Payments and Fixes We've revamped our payments system for Polar Premium and the biggest change is that we're now accepting payments via Stripe. We've manually migrated accounts from Open Collective and your payments will still process there while you have a regular premium account. If you have any issues please feel free to contact support@getpolarized.io. We're going to be working to bring on a few more premium features in the...

GPT-2, the Destruction of the Web and Artificially Intelligent Textbooks

GPT-2, the Destruction of the Web and Artificially Intelligent Textbooks GPT-2 is a deep-learning language model released by OpenAI a few months ago which is causing a bit of controversy in the deep learning community. Due to our concerns about malicious applications of the technology, we are not releasing the trained model. As an experiment in responsible disclosure, we are instead releasing a much smaller model for researchers to experiment with, as well as a...

13 Lucky Tips for using Anki and Spaced Repetition in 2019

13 Lucky Tips for using Anki and Spaced Repetition in 2019 For the past few years I’ve been using Anki to capture anything I want to remember long term. If I’m reading an important Wikipedia page I save it to Polar, annotate it directly, then create flashcards from the annotations. I do this to my textbooks and anything else I find important enough to remember forever. The reason SR is so effective for me is...

Portable Web Documents - An Alternative to PDF based on HTML5 and Web Standards

Portable Web Documents - An Alternative to PDF based on HTML5 and Web Standards Portable Web Documents are a technology similar to PDFs (Portable Document Format) implemented in Polar which support offline caching of full HTML documents, and with (in the future) improved support for video, charts, and other compelling features. Polar uses PWDs and PDFs to manage the users reading and allows the user to keep all documents in a central repository and allows...

Polar 1.19 Released With Area Highlights and Updated Annotations View

Polar 1.19 Released With Area Highlights and Updated Annotations View Polar 1.19 has been a lot of work but it’s finally out the door. If you haven’t updated Polar in a while make sure you’re on the latest version by going to Help | About or Help | Check for Updates. There are a few we want to highlight about this release. Area Highlights Area highlights are now shown in the sidebar and updated and...

Polar 1.18.0 Released

Polar 1.18.0 Released This release mostly focused on improving stability and implementing a few key UI features. This upgrades us to Electron 5.x which as needed for some users who were experiencing severe latency using Polar on Linux. We also resolve a key issue with non-atomic writes. This includes a good chunk of the new sharing functionality but it’s not enabled yet. Big upgrade to latest version of Electron. Electron v5.0.0, Chromium v73.0.3683.119, Node v12.0.0,...

Polar Mission Statement and Design for a Personal Knowledge Repository

This document is under construction and still evolving. Polar Mission Statement and Design for a Personal Knowledge Repository Polar has a broad mission statement to provide high quality tools for document annotation, management of documents (tagging, storage, etc) and sharing of content. There’s a great deal of overlap in the technical requirements needed for these features so Polar provides a great deal of functionality to provide a comprehensive personal knowledge repository and distributed content management...

Polar Roadmap for Q2 and Q3 2019

Polar Roadmap for Q2 and Q3 2019 I wanted to write up a quick blog post for the features I’d like to see in Q2 and Q3 2019 for you guys to review. Q2 2019 Initial version of sharing. Single document only with public URL (public or private only) Area highlights with support for annotations and storing them as screenshots along with the document as binary attachments. Advanced sharing with teams and user to user...

Google Killing Chrome Extensions with 1 Week Publishing Delays

Google Killing Chrome Extensions with 1 Week Publishing Delays Google has recently started performing reviews/code audits on any chrome extension that requests the permissions. I can understand the need to audit the code for safety since this is a very specific use case and apps could (and have) abused this permission. The problem is that they take 1 week to audit your code! This isn’t just for code changes but ANY change even if you...

Getting Hacker News'd Twice - Lessons Learned for Entrepreneurs

Getting Hacker News’d Twice - Lessons Learned for Entrepreneurs I’ve had Polar featured on Hacker News three times in the last six months. It’s been interesting to say the least and I wanted to write up my thoughts here to share my lessons learned with other entrepreneurs and hackers who might be launching apps or having their site featured on the site. You can read our original posts here: Show HN: Polar – an offline...

Polar 1.16.0 Released

Polar 1.16.0 Released A number of major changes went into Polar 1.16.0 but the big highlights include a big performance bump for the desktop app on startup, an updated chrome extension to improve stability during loading PDFs, and a new context menu for the document repository. This also includes a new timing system which allows us to detect slow operations in Polar to help improve performance over time. The plan is to keep an eye...

Portable Datastores and Platform Independence

Portable Datastores and Platform Independence The other day, Arnold Schrijver from the Center of Humane Technology was nice enough to reach out to discuss git sync in Polar and the available of Polar on other platforms other than Firebase: Polar’s on disk datastore supports basic version control via git for advanced users. It’s somewhat easy to setup and provides a workable solution if you’re a tech expert and you don’t want to use Polar cloud...

Polar Usability Milestone

Polar Usability Milestone Last week we were lucky enough to get on the front page of Hacker News again which resulted in a lot of new users providing valuable feedback. I’m going to be focusing on usability in the next few releases (as well as shipping Polar as a webapp) and I wanted to include the features (and bug fixes) we’re prioritizing in the next couple weeks. I’ll try to update this post as some...

Polar as a Personal Knowledge Repository

Polar as a Personal Knowledge Repository I wanted to finally take the time and write up my long term vision of where Polar is headed as well as discuss some anti-goals (or at least secondary goals) of the project. Polar is designed around the idea of maintaining all your documents in one place, annotating them with highlights, comments, managing your documents with tags, and maintaining key extracted knowledge via spaced repetition. I believe this is...

Dear App Stores: Don't Block Apps - Lead With the Carrot Instead!

Dear App Stores: Don’t Block Apps - Lead With the Carrot Instead! Microsoft blocked Polar from the App Store after I spent 2 weeks implementing the changes needed for their platform. My crime? I didn’t use MS Edge for rendering web content - I used Electron. Gasp! I know, right?! I’m truly evil! Polar supports capturing content, annotating and caching it online for the user to annotate and keep even if the original site vanishes...

Microsoft Blocking Electron Apps from the App Store

Microsoft Blocking Electron Apps from the App Store I’ve been working hard to port my app over to the MS App Store (and the Apple App Store). It’s an insanely difficult process involving multiple iterations. Each time you submit the app they only give you one reason why your app can’t be submitted. This rejection really makes me nervous. Turns out my app is blocked as I’m not using the right web components. The only...

Polar 1.11 Released

Polar 1.11 Released Version 1.11 has fewer features than our normal weekly releases. The next release will take a bit longer and we wanted to get a version released sooner rather than later. Feature: More consistent header bar throughout the app. Feature: Pagemark batches which help working with PDFs that have multiple pages. Now if you create pagemarks across pages you can delete one and the whole batch is also deleted. Feature: Page number in...

Polar 1.10 Released

Polar 1.10 Released The 1.10 release focuses on a number of medium-scale features but also improves stability across the board. Updated UI The most obvious feature is that the UI has been significantly updated to support a new fixed header bar bar. One of the motivations for this was that users were getting confused when using the app for the first time and didn't know how to add content. Now there's a large '+ Add'...

Mendeley's Encrypted Repository is Fundamentally Anti-Science

Mendeley’s Encrypted Repository is Fundamentally Anti-Science Hacker News ran a story the other day highlighting Mendeley locking in users to their product by encrypting their own data preventing external apps from easily exporting their data. Essentially, PDFs go in, but they don’t come out - a black hole of knowledge. Now one might be temped to think that an application encrypting user data is a good thing. Less ability to tamper with the data or...

Polar 1.9.0 Released

Polar 1.9.0 Released Polar 1.9.0 was just released. This release is mostly focused around stability and fixes a number of important bugs. One big new feature went into this release though - you’re now able create pagemarks across multiple pages. Documentation Here’s the excerpt from the documentation: When you right click and select “Create Pagemark to Point” Polar creates pagemarks over all previous pages up until the previous pagemark (or the beginning) of the document....

Features in Polar 1.8.0

Features in Polar 1.8.0 Transcript Below Sorry about the transcript formatting. I'm going to have to figure out a better long term solution here. I wanted to discuss what was going into polar 1.8 which we just shipped (I think a couple days ago( and there's some really cool features in here and unfortunately I didn't get a chance to create this video when we cut the release so I'm probably gonna do a 1.8.1...

Over 500 Top PDFs posted to Hacker News in 2018

Over 500 Top PDFs posted to Hacker News in 2018 Hacker News is a GREAT source of tech news but one of the things I really like about it is when insanely smart people post actual PDFs they've found. In the past I've seen PDFs from text books, brilliant original research and even old trusted technical books from the 80s and 90s. So I figured it would be interesting to compute the top PDFs from...

Plan S for Open Science - Open Access to Scientific Research

The EU Plan S for Open Access to Scientific Research The EU and China have an ambitious new plan to provide open access (OA) for scientific papers: Since the September 2018 launch of the Europe-backed program to mandate immediate open access (OA) to scientific literature, 16 funders in 13 countries have signed on. That’s still far shy of Plan S’s ambition: to convince the world’s major research funders to require immediate OA to all published...

Building Cloud Document Sync with Google Firebase

Building Cloud Document Sync with Google Firebase About a month ago we shipped a new version of Polar which enables support for cloud sync backed by Firebase. Polar is a personal knowledge repository for your books, PDFs, and web content which supports annotation including highlights and comments. Having this data available across all your computers is insanely helpful. Our users wanted the ability to sync their reading and annotations across computers with the option for...

Polar 1.5 with Cloud Sync

Polar 1.5 with Cloud Sync Support for multi-device sync based on Google Firebase I’m proud to announce that Polar 1.5 shipped this morning. One of the most exciting features of this release is support for cloud sync. Cloud sync allows you to keep all your documents, PDFs, web page captures, and annotations consistent across all your computers (MacOS, Windows, and Linux). Cloud sync is also real time. If your other computers are online while you’re...