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(Seattle Times)   Ford swaps out Windows car tech systems for Blackberry's QNX operating system. So it's out of the frying pan for Ford customers and into the...ditch?   (seattletimes.com) divider line 74
    More: Interesting, QNX, Windows, skillet, Microsoft, operating systems, company, IHS iSuppli, BlackBerry Messenger  
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1749 clicks; posted to Business » on 24 Feb 2014 at 3:41 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



74 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2014-02-24 02:11:07 PM  
QNX, at least before Blackberry got hold of it, was pretty hot stuff.  It's ideal for something like car computing.

/still should have gone with an Android front-end though
 
2014-02-24 02:48:10 PM  
Blackberry bought QNX? Damn. That was an awesome imbedded OS.
 
2014-02-24 03:37:45 PM  
I thought Blackberry was abandoning QNX?
 
2014-02-24 03:40:46 PM  
I was running QNX on 286s, in the 90s, before they became mainstream and sold out.
 
2014-02-24 03:44:54 PM  
QNX is far superior to anything Microsoft has. Sadly it will still be badged Blackberry so people will hate it.
 
2014-02-24 03:51:15 PM  

R.A.Danny: QNX is far superior to anything Microsoft has. Sadly it will still be badged Blackberry so people will hate it.


This is absolutely true.  But perhaps they can avoid labeling it or advertising it.  It took a little while before I even realized that Ford's system was Windows.  (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)
 
2014-02-24 03:55:44 PM  
Personally, I hated QNX. When I was forced to use it, it was very buggy, you had to manually create some of the mandatory install directories, etc. maybe it got better in the past 15 years, but darn was it awful when I worked with it.
 
2014-02-24 03:59:21 PM  

Far Cough: R.A.Danny: QNX is far superior to anything Microsoft has. Sadly it will still be badged Blackberry so people will hate it.

This is absolutely true.  But perhaps they can avoid labeling it or advertising it.  It took a little while before I even realized that Ford's system was Windows.  (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)


I have Sync, and it does work.... mostly. There is a learning curve, and some things are very counterintuitive. Sync really does call to the phone's controls, but it is quite inelegant. Works though.
 
2014-02-24 04:05:58 PM  

Far Cough: (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)


I dunno, there's a value to in-car systems.  Phones are great and all, but they're really not safe to use while driving.  A system that connects phone to car so that you can use voice or steering wheel mounted controls on your phone is much safer.  Now, maybe the ideal solution would be nothing more complex than cloning your phone's screen onto a larger screen on the car's dashboard (controlled through buttons on the wheel or a touchscreen), but even that is a lot better than having people trying to drive while texting and looking at their phones in their laps.
 
2014-02-24 04:12:51 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Far Cough: (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)

I dunno, there's a value to in-car systems.  Phones are great and all, but they're really not safe to use while driving.  A system that connects phone to car so that you can use voice or steering wheel mounted controls on your phone is much safer.  Now, maybe the ideal solution would be nothing more complex than cloning your phone's screen onto a larger screen on the car's dashboard (controlled through buttons on the wheel or a touchscreen), but even that is a lot better than having people trying to drive while texting and looking at their phones in their laps.


You make good points.  A standard interface would help enormously.  We already have USB/microUSB (and whatever Apple is using this month) and there's already the OBD standard for diagnostic connections, so we really shouldn't be stuck with every auto maker rolling their own systems, each sure to be rendered obsolete or at least archaic before the end of life of the car.

There are all kind of dashboard modes and related apps.  For me I just wish I could find a cheap windshield mount.  Most of the generic ones don't fit the bigger Android phones (and certainly not in landscape).
 
2014-02-24 04:13:33 PM  
Ditch?  No.  They didn't swap for Apple Maps.
 
2014-02-24 04:15:24 PM  

exvaxman: Personally, I hated QNX. When I was forced to use it, it was very buggy, you had to manually create some of the mandatory install directories, etc. maybe it got better in the past 15 years, but darn was it awful when I worked with it.


It has long been reputed to be very stable with some critical systems with reporting uptimes in years.

Sounds like a good move on Ford's part.
 
2014-02-24 04:15:41 PM  

Nadie_AZ: Blackberry bought QNX? Damn. That was an awesome imbedded OS.


Key word.
 
2014-02-24 04:16:22 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Far Cough: (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)

I dunno, there's a value to in-car systems.  Phones are great and all, but they're really not safe to use while driving.  A system that connects phone to car so that you can use voice or steering wheel mounted controls on your phone is much safer.  Now, maybe the ideal solution would be nothing more complex than cloning your phone's screen onto a larger screen on the car's dashboard (controlled through buttons on the wheel or a touchscreen), but even that is a lot better than having people trying to drive while texting and looking at their phones in their laps.


The controls are obviously at the heart of things.  They should be nothing more complex than bluetooth connectivity for controls, audio, and display.  The brains of it- for music, navigation, voice calling, etc, should all be the phone or iPad or whathaveyou.  That way the guts are always easy to upgrade and it'll always talk to the next gen device, and I assume that having your car flanged up to the interweebs all the time is the inevitable endpoint.

Your car shouldn't go obsolete, but the A/V is the one thing almost guaranteed to with todays systems.
 
2014-02-24 04:18:37 PM  

Far Cough: (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)


Depends on what you mean by "in-car systems."  Sure - maps are redundant but you still need something to set volume controls and climate systems and display car statuses.  What tickets me off is when you spend 40k for a 2014 car and it can't do bluetooth audio streaming from a phone.

/Audi - I'm looking at you
 
2014-02-24 04:18:55 PM  
So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS? My BB and my wife's ran just fine. For those with short attention spans, the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace, the phones didn't blow up, or crash, or call the wrong people....
 
2014-02-24 04:21:55 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Far Cough: (I don't have it.  I think all in-car systems are doomed to failure when our phones are so much more versatile and malleable and most importantly replaceable.)

I dunno, there's a value to in-car systems.  Phones are great and all, but they're really not safe to use while driving.  A system that connects phone to car so that you can use voice or steering wheel mounted controls on your phone is much safer.  Now, maybe the ideal solution would be nothing more complex than cloning your phone's screen onto a larger screen on the car's dashboard (controlled through buttons on the wheel or a touchscreen), but even that is a lot better than having people trying to drive while texting and looking at their phones in their laps.


I'm a bit of a driving Nazi. Music on presets only, soda only at stop lights. No answering your phone.

So, no screen in front of you while driving. I see more and more of them after dark and they are bright enough to cause glare and narrow pupils. The purity of driving IS the excellence! Know where the hell you are going, hang up on people that can't keep it brief.

Oh, I can do a whole standup segment on how poorly people communicate, along with how people can't cut others off.
 
2014-02-24 04:30:13 PM  

Far Cough: so we really shouldn't be stuck with every auto maker rolling their own systems, each sure to be rendered obsolete or at least archaic before the end of life of the car.


I think that's the most important thing that the industry needs to change.  It's just silly for each brand to have its own OS that, as you say, will become obsolete during the time that most people have their cars (and since mechanical reliability is increasing over time, people hang onto their cars for longer and longer).

unyon: The brains of it- for music, navigation, voice calling, etc, should all be the phone or iPad or whathaveyou.


Exactly.  I'd like to see all the computing/processing take place on the phone.  The car should ideally just be like a huge control extension.

I think any automaker that moves in the direction of making your cars' screens and controls just an extension of the same interface you're already used to with your phone would be REALLY smart.  People don't want to learn a new system---think how much easier it would be if the car just displayed a larger version of your phone's homescreen.  That would be crazy popular with consumers, but it would mean that the automakers couldn't sell you navigation as a $2000 option....so there may not be a lot of momentum for that shift within the industry.
 
2014-02-24 04:34:02 PM  

Far Cough: QNX, at least before Blackberry got hold of it, was pretty hot stuff.  It's ideal for something like car computing.

/still should have gone with an Android front-end though


Agreed. I remember back in the day QNX used to have a demo of their RTOS that fit on a floppy.
 
2014-02-24 04:35:45 PM  
Good move.
/Coming from a WP user
 
2014-02-24 04:37:50 PM  

gingerjet: Depends on what you mean by "in-car systems." Sure - maps are redundant but you still need something to set volume controls and climate systems and display car statuses. What tickets me off is when you spend 40k for a 2014 car and it can't do bluetooth audio streaming from a phone.


But those are what dashboards are for.  I'll take a nice big volume knob any day over a screen slider.  And I'd rather not have the climate controls reliant on that extra level of disassocation either.  Oh wait, I think that was your point.  Agreed.  :)  I play podcasts all the time, so for me the need for car integration stops and starts with maps, audio, and telephony.  Maybe video.

I like the idea of a dumb clone or projector, pushing the phone's display to the dashboard.  Then we have to worry about controls.  There is SO much to be said for tactile controls.  I find it very difficult to hit the right spots on the screen to change podcasts while driving.  (I still think this is solvable through bigger icons and/or gestures in the app.)  But of course there's really no standard for such controls; the
best we could probably have is a paddle wheel or joystick or small touchpad, none of which are great solutions.

Blackberry's OS was just always way too primitive and behind the times in what it allowed.  It got a lot better before the bitter end.  The podcast app was really pretty good.  But the hardware was always even further behind, in a smartphone market they practically invented.  I think a lot of it was hampered by just how limiting most BB handsets really were.

Unfortunately some of the better things, like per-app security controls and mind-blowing battery life, have not yet migrated fully to iOS/Android.
 
2014-02-24 04:44:01 PM  
I hope nobody sees me rollin' in a car with a Blackberry.  Apple needs to make white cars so I can be seen in one of them and people will know I have an iCar.
 
2014-02-24 04:44:04 PM  

HMS_Blinkin: Phones are great and all, but they're really not safe to use while driving. A system that connects phone to car so that you can use voice or steering wheel mounted controls on your phone is much safer.


Not really, the problem comes from the distraction of using the device at all, if you use your hands or not to do so is only a tertiary issue.
 
2014-02-24 04:47:30 PM  

Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS?


Not adapting to the marketplace.

img.fark.net
 
2014-02-24 04:47:44 PM  

Far Cough: For me I just wish I could find a cheap windshield mount. Most of the generic ones don't fit the bigger Android phones (and certainly not in landscape).


If you know someone with a 3D printer, there's this (and others on thingiverse).  I've got the same problem with my ZTE N9810 (5" display) and as soon as I get some filament in and final assembly/tweaking done on my Prusa i3 reprap, I'll print one off.
 
2014-02-24 04:53:06 PM  

gingerjet: Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS?

Not adapting to the marketplace.

[img.fark.net image 610x458]


...which is exactly what I stated in my original post.

the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace...
 
2014-02-24 04:55:22 PM  

sprawl15: HMS_Blinkin: Phones are great and all, but they're really not safe to use while driving. A system that connects phone to car so that you can use voice or steering wheel mounted controls on your phone is much safer.

Not really, the problem comes from the distraction of using the device at all, if you use your hands or not to do so is only a tertiary issue.


The truth is probably somewhere in between.  Technically, operating any A/V, or changing CDs, or what have you is distracting.  Well-integrated tech could actually alleviate many of the distractions.  Voice-selected audio.  Self-sensing climate controls.  Higher quality navigational assistance.

You're right that any distraction is a bad distraction.  But having people farting with their phones for whatever reason is the worst of all worlds.  Eyes are off the road, the interface is non-tactile, etc.  People are using their phones or tablets for navigation, communication, in car movies for the kids, Audio, you name it.  To pretend that they aren't currently futzing with these things while going down the road  is crazy.  If the display and controls were front and centre, then at least they could keep their eyes on the road and use tactile controls to keep them there.
 
2014-02-24 04:58:55 PM  

SansNeural: Far Cough: For me I just wish I could find a cheap windshield mount. Most of the generic ones don't fit the bigger Android phones (and certainly not in landscape).

If you know someone with a 3D printer, there's this (and others on thingiverse).  I've got the same problem with my ZTE N9810 (5" display) and as soon as I get some filament in and final assembly/tweaking done on my Prusa i3 reprap, I'll print one off.


Huh, vent mount?  Not ideal.

img.fark.net

Thanks for the idea though!

/don't have any access to 3d printing :(
 
2014-02-24 05:07:21 PM  

styckx: Far Cough: QNX, at least before Blackberry got hold of it, was pretty hot stuff.  It's ideal for something like car computing.

/still should have gone with an Android front-end though

Agreed. I remember back in the day QNX used to have a demo of their RTOS that fit on a floppy.


Wasn't just the OS- it was the OS, GUI, web server, web browser and all the help files.

On a floppy.

With room to spare.
 
2014-02-24 05:07:46 PM  

Mikey1969: the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace...


You can't fail to expand into a marketplace you already owned.  What it failed to do was to add functionality that iPhones (and later Android) devices were offering that were desired by their customers.

/ease of use was also a problem
 
2014-02-24 05:16:24 PM  

gingerjet: You can't fail to expand into a marketplace you already owned.


Tell Blackberry that.


:)
 
2014-02-24 05:20:49 PM  

R.A.Danny: gingerjet: You can't fail to expand into a marketplace you already owned.

Tell Blackberry that.


:)


Tell AOL that.
 
2014-02-24 05:24:36 PM  

Far Cough: R.A.Danny: gingerjet: You can't fail to expand into a marketplace you already owned.

Tell Blackberry that.


:)

Tell AOL that.


Tell Myspace that.
 
2014-02-24 05:38:48 PM  

unyon: The truth is probably somewhere in between. Technically, operating any A/V, or changing CDs, or what have you is distracting. Well-integrated tech could actually alleviate many of the distractions. Voice-selected audio. Self-sensing climate controls. Higher quality navigational assistance.


it's actually something weird about how the brain processes conversations - person to person conversations (with someone in the seat next to you) are barely more dangerous than changing the radio station, while talking on a cell phone (either hands free or with hands) are nearly as dangerous as being drunk. I believe it has something to do with how when the person is right there, your brain can rely on the other person sharing a common context and doesn't need to do a lot of processing that would be required to clue someone in remotely. IANAbrain surgeon but
 
2014-02-24 05:45:23 PM  

sprawl15: it's actually something weird about how the brain processes conversations - person to person conversations (with someone in the seat next to you) are barely more dangerous than changing the radio station,


My understanding is that when the person is with you, they (for example) instinctively shut up when you're doing a complex maneuver, whereas people on the phone do no such thing.
 
2014-02-24 05:48:46 PM  

Naritai: sprawl15: it's actually something weird about how the brain processes conversations - person to person conversations (with someone in the seat next to you) are barely more dangerous than changing the radio station,

My understanding is that when the person is with you, they (for example) instinctively shut up when you're doing a complex maneuver, whereas people on the phone do no such thing.


Interesting.  I believe it.  I'm not convinced that having a phone conversation while driving is ever not distracting either.
 
2014-02-24 05:50:33 PM  

Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS? My BB and my wife's ran just fine. For those with short attention spans, the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace, the phones didn't blow up, or crash, or call the wrong people....


It's like hard n stuff to like play angy birsd on teh keyboard lol

/also, saint steve of jobs invented round corners
 
2014-02-24 06:09:31 PM  
Isn't this what QNX was originally designed for?  Embedded systems in industrial equipment?  It sounds like a far better match than a bastardized version of the windows phone OS.
 
2014-02-24 06:17:07 PM  

Lsherm: Isn't this what QNX was originally designed for?  Embedded systems in industrial equipment?  It sounds like a far better match than a bastardized version of the windows phone OS.


QNX was originally a real time system with a micro kernel.
 
2014-02-24 06:21:24 PM  
This headline may or may not have made me snort VERY hot coffee into my nose. Ow.

+1
 
2014-02-24 06:58:06 PM  

Glockenspiel Hero: styckx: Far Cough: QNX, at least before Blackberry got hold of it, was pretty hot stuff.  It's ideal for something like car computing.

/still should have gone with an Android front-end though

Agreed. I remember back in the day QNX used to have a demo of their RTOS that fit on a floppy.

Wasn't just the OS- it was the OS, GUI, web server, web browser and all the help files.

On a floppy.

With room to spare.


Exactly. shiat was impressive as hell
 
2014-02-24 07:01:25 PM  

legion_of_doo: Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS? My BB and my wife's ran just fine. For those with short attention spans, the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace, the phones didn't blow up, or crash, or call the wrong people....

It's like hard n stuff to like play angy birsd on teh keyboard lol

/also, saint steve of jobs invented round corners


I wonder if they could have developed and decent games with the BB trackball in mind? I mean stuff that would have actually been popular, not failed stuff that never took off...
 
2014-02-24 07:12:29 PM  

Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS? My BB and my wife's ran just fine. For those with short attention spans, the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace, the phones didn't blow up, or crash, or call the wrong people....


I'll probably get reamed for this, but I just finally got rid of my 5 year old BB for a phone with the latest version of Android.  It's nice to have access to modern third party apps again, since most developers abandoned BB a long time ago, but as a strict phone and messaging device, my old BB was far superior out of the box than my brand new Android phone.  Virtually every basic thing that the BB did needed to be supplemented by third party apps on Android, and usually accompanied by puzzling permissions. Need a simple way to take notes (other than Google Docs)?  Not built into Android, you need to find a third party app from the play store.  And good luck finding one that doesn't want access to your SMS, contacts or account data.  Want to assign a custom ringtone or reminder tone?  Yet another third party app.  On my BB I could assign any sound file on the file system to any event.  Want to record some audio using the phones microphone?  Back to the Play store.  Don't get me wrong, I like and have had an Android tablet for a few years now, and it's easy enough to find apps to fill in the gaps, but as a phone, I still think BB is a superior communication device.
 
2014-02-24 07:13:38 PM  

AngryDragon: Ditch?  No.  They didn't swap for Apple Maps.


Apple maps is not that bad.. Hang on. It telling me to turn into the river now.
 
2014-02-24 07:19:39 PM  

Fark Strunk and White: Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS? My BB and my wife's ran just fine. For those with short attention spans, the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace, the phones didn't blow up, or crash, or call the wrong people....

I'll probably get reamed for this, but I just finally got rid of my 5 year old BB for a phone with the latest version of Android.  It's nice to have access to modern third party apps again, since most developers abandoned BB a long time ago, but as a strict phone and messaging device, my old BB was far superior out of the box than my brand new Android phone.  Virtually every basic thing that the BB did needed to be supplemented by third party apps on Android, and usually accompanied by puzzling permissions. Need a simple way to take notes (other than Google Docs)?  Not built into Android, you need to find a third party app from the play store.  And good luck finding one that doesn't want access to your SMS, contacts or account data.  Want to assign a custom ringtone or reminder tone?  Yet another third party app.  On my BB I could assign any sound file on the file system to any event.  Want to record some audio using the phones microphone?  Back to the Play store.  Don't get me wrong, I like and have had an Android tablet for a few years now, and it's easy enough to find apps to fill in the gaps, but as a phone, I still think BB is a superior communication device.


You won't be reamed.  Yeah, the BB covered the basics, as did Palm and even original Windows phone.  But with BB all the applications were all pretty basic and sucky, brought down by backward compatibility with the basic small screen, text-oriented, black and white predecessor models, and with the low power CPU.  Using a BB I always felt stuck in the dark ages.  As I said, though, it really started to improve toward the end of BB's existence.

I agree, the lack of some basic productivity applets on stock Android is annoying.  And it took me a while to find a decent free (and ad-free) podcast client.
 
2014-02-24 07:24:02 PM  

Fark Strunk and White: Mikey1969: So what was wrong with Blackberry's OS? My BB and my wife's ran just fine. For those with short attention spans, the company just failed to expand into the emerging smartphone marketplace, the phones didn't blow up, or crash, or call the wrong people....

I'll probably get reamed for this, but I just finally got rid of my 5 year old BB for a phone with the latest version of Android.  It's nice to have access to modern third party apps again, since most developers abandoned BB a long time ago, but as a strict phone and messaging device, my old BB was far superior out of the box than my brand new Android phone.  Virtually every basic thing that the BB did needed to be supplemented by third party apps on Android, and usually accompanied by puzzling permissions. Need a simple way to take notes (other than Google Docs)?  Not built into Android, you need to find a third party app from the play store.  And good luck finding one that doesn't want access to your SMS, contacts or account data.  Want to assign a custom ringtone or reminder tone?  Yet another third party app.  On my BB I could assign any sound file on the file system to any event.  Want to record some audio using the phones microphone?  Back to the Play store.  Don't get me wrong, I like and have had an Android tablet for a few years now, and it's easy enough to find apps to fill in the gaps, but as a phone, I still think BB is a superior communication device.


I absolutely love the customizabolity of the Android platform, but it can really turn you off from doing much on the phone after awhile... If BB hadn't rested on their laurels, they probably could have kept up..

Lesson learned for them, I guess... Kinda expensive one, if you ask me.
 
2014-02-24 07:34:15 PM  

Far Cough: I agree, the lack of some basic productivity applets on stock Android is annoying.  And it took me a while to find a decent free (and ad-free) podcast client.



That's another thing, BB's RSS reader was quite good for it's age and handled podcasts well, IMO.  I still haven't found an Android app to replace it, but Doggcatcher is decent enough podcast client I suppose, although not free.  I've learned that it's usually worth my time to spend a couple bucks to avoid getting bogged down in the Play store.
 
2014-02-24 07:37:59 PM  

Fark Strunk and White: Far Cough: I agree, the lack of some basic productivity applets on stock Android is annoying.  And it took me a while to find a decent free (and ad-free) podcast client.


That's another thing, BB's RSS reader was quite good for it's age and handled podcasts well, IMO.  I still haven't found an Android app to replace it, but Doggcatcher is decent enough podcast client I suppose, although not free.  I've learned that it's usually worth my time to spend a couple bucks to avoid getting bogged down in the Play store.


I don't use the Play store, at all, at least on my primary phone.  Either find apps manually or use the F-Droid repository, which I can highly recommend.  There are a handful of open source podcast apps there, the best of which is AntennaPod.  It can work with the free Prestissimo plugin for variable speed playback.

(I never used a BB RSS reader; I used its actual Podcast app, which in retrospect was surprisingly good.)
 
2014-02-24 07:40:20 PM  

Far Cough: QNX, at least before Blackberry got hold of it, was pretty hot stuff.  It's ideal for something like car computing.

/still should have gone with an Android front-end though


So that your car would have features that didn't work, and Ford would say "you can't blame that on us, you should have bought a better model?"
 
2014-02-24 07:45:41 PM  

Goimir: Far Cough: QNX, at least before Blackberry got hold of it, was pretty hot stuff.  It's ideal for something like car computing.

/still should have gone with an Android front-end though

So that your car would have features that didn't work, and Ford would say "you can't blame that on us, you should have bought a better model?"


I (unsarcastically) don't get it -- is that supposed to be an anti-Android dig?

You can't seriously propose that something like iOS is a better fit for a 3rd party embedded application than Android is?

Or maybe you were just saying the front end should be QNX too, or straight Java?  Browser based?

I'm just guessing here; please explain what you'd like to see Ford do.
 
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