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1
Ask HN: Best IRC channels?
51 points by dakrisht  3 hours ago   39 comments top 23
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uniclaude 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is going to be borderline off-topic as it's not general for developers.

I have to mention #clojure on freenode for being an incredibly welcoming IRC channel. The discussions you will see can be very interesting, and the community is more than often willing to help. Living in Japan, I was worried about the timezones being an issue, but there seems to be people from different parts of the world on the channel, making it very nice.

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dserban 2 hours ago 2 replies      
There is one particular use of IRC channels that is insanely useful, that I'd like to share.

On various programming language channels, there are ad-hoc expression evaluation bots that experienced people use to guide newcomers through the intricacies of the language. If you're new to Haskell, for example, what you can do is grab the logs for the past 3 years, grep for "> " (used to invoke the evaluator) and you have instant insight into how an experienced Haskeller's mind works. It can speed up your learning by a factor of 10 compared to reading papers / blogs / formal tutorials. I know because it did this for me.

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rmc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Tangentally related: #gaygeeks on FreeNodes. Tired of being the old LGBT person amoung you geeky friends? Tired of being the only geeky person amoung your LGBT friends?
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emhart 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
#lp101 on ...I think?...EFNet was the hotbed of locksport/mechanical security discussion and research for quite a while. I was amazed by some of the results of IRC-based collaboration in that community.
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Zolomon 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
I hang out on #gamedev@irc.afternet.org, very talented people help each other out there.
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frankwiles 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've recently been using SaltStack and have found #saltstack on Freenode to be very welcoming and helpful which is nice. Often you go into a channel and it's a ghost town or out right hostile to relatively simple questions. I think OSS projects in general could learn a bit of "marketing" in this regard, if your IRC channels are toxic, I immediately think your community as a whole may be toxic.
7
Tenoke 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Nowadays, I mainly hang out on irc because of the #lesswrong channel on freenode. There is plenty of intelligent discussion, HN readers and no real topic.
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flexd 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I have always found a bunch of nice people with a lot of knowledge in the various programming and tech channels on Freenode, like #twisted and #pocoo

#debian on EFNet also has a great bunch of people.

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girvo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I hang out on Freenode, in #nimrod, ##php, #elementary-dev and a couple of others.

I'd love to know some good security ones to idle in; I've got a bit of experience in it and am trying to expand it some more, and would love a place to ask questions regarding web security and the like.

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level09 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Usually I join topic-specific channels, got tons of answers in #django , #javascript, #drupal, #flask, #python, #celery, #nodejs etc ..

Those are on freenode, there are channels for software users (e.g: photoshop) but on a different servers.

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Kudos 2 hours ago 2 replies      
#startups on Freenode was mentioned here before, I think.
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jokoon 1 hour ago 1 reply      
just connect to some popular network like freenode, and retrieve the channel list, and sort by users.

#ubuntu 1701 #archlinux 1695 #bitcoin 1602 #debian 1492 ##linux 1360 #python 1349 #freenode 1304 #haskell 1200 #Node.js 1186 #dogecoin 1120 #gentoo 1091 #git 1047 #puppet 956 ##javascript 941 #vim 936 #python-unregistered#go-nuts 893 #android 889 #bash 858 #ruby 847 #jquery 750 #postgresql 747 #litecoin 711 ##math 701 #bitcoin-otc 700 #emacs 700 #openstack 697 #docker 693 #clojure 679 #perl 653 #mysql 646 ##networking 642 #angularjs 621 ##security 611 #defocus 599 ##php 596 ##electronics 595 #nginx 584 #cisco 582 #digitalocean 569

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d99kris 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is there a #hn or #hackernews?
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loser777 2 hours ago 0 replies      
An approach that seems to work well for me is to use IRC as a way to communicate with groups people that mostly I know in person and share a common interest with. That way, I'm able to avoid a social pecking order or having to be "initiated" into a group. You may already be in one of these groups already, though the medium isn't necessarily always IRC--think Skype (text) chats groups with a subset of regulars.

Remember, you can always drag others along with you and start your own channel.

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john2x 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've found #bash to be full of very helpful people. They don't get tired at all of being asked common bash questions. On most channels, if you ask a common question, they tell you to RTFM. But not on #bash. They still tell you to RTFM, but nicely, and usually after they give you an actual answer. Especially that greybot guy.
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spacemanmatt 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The #postgresql community on freenode has won me over many times for being mature, and absolutely competent over their domain. Solid stuff.
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hedwall 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
I really enjou #infra-talk on FreeNode, sysadminy stuff without ties to any specific product or tool.
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unpointfulness 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Personally, I never found IRC to be a helpful tool for learning new things from unfamiliar people.

To me, IRC has always been a "grapevine" tool, where etiquette, social pecking orders and gossip are shared amongst a smallish close-knit social circle. IRC always feels more like a social scene, and a distraction.

If anything, perhaps an IRC channel is useful for managing fluid, rapidly changing situations, where you might need an up-to-date, live information source, to use in immediate decision making (hence, why bot net command and control tends to be integrated into IRC programs), but, otherwise, chat logs from IRC usually read like a disorganized array of participant's various scattered streams of consciousness.

Are you looking for reading material, or a hangout?

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brihat 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Freenode #emacs, ##linux, #nimrod, #julia and #d.

Nimrod's gang (including Araq) are very friendly and welcoming.

#julia and #d are very quiet though (except for the bots).

And #emacs -- well, that one channel which is lenient towards off-topic chats!

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maqr 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend #iphonedev on Freenode for anything iOS.
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Hoozt 2 hours ago 1 reply      
#linux, #ruby, #rubyonrails, #bitcoin, #javascript, #nginx, #ubuntu, #rubymotion ... to name a few I visit. They are all on the Freenode network.
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MileyCyrax 2 hours ago 0 replies      
#wizardchan on irc.rizon.net
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dogepro 1 hour ago 0 replies      
#marketmakers
2
Ask PG: What is the best non-computer hack ever described in a YC application?
3 points by networked  2 hours ago   discuss
3
Ask HN: Bitcoin business unexpectedly taking off, help!
143 points by mhluongo  21 hours ago   139 comments top 33
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patio11 20 hours ago 9 replies      
I would strongly consider not running a money transmitter as a side business. If you do not understand that you are running a money transmitter, I will be happy to elaborate.

I would also mention, on the assumption you're not aware of it, that you are offering fairly effective money laundering for credit card thieves at below-market rates for that service, and you can expect heavy dedicated adversarial interest. I rather expect you are receiving it already and are as-yet unaware of it. Feel free to ask for more elaboration if you do not understand the mechanics of how this works, or why it will quickly dominate the pool of people willing to receive $50 in consideration for $100 of Starbucks cards.

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ChuckMcM 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Advice: Shut it down before you get raided and shut down and your "side business" becomes "going to court and defending yourself."

What you clearly didn't realize is that long before BitCoin was popular, gift cards were one of the ways criminals laundered money. There are even discussions about which gift cards can be sold for the least discount. Gift cards can be sold for cash, so you are in effect, operating a bitcoin exchange.

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jstalin 20 hours ago 1 reply      
WARNING - get legal advice now. You'll likely come under the umbrella of money transmission business laws meaning that you need to register with your state and the federal government (assuming you're in the USA).
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pemulis 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I just pinged you on Twitter, @jdshutt. I know a lawyer who specializes in tax law and is very interested in cryptocurrencies. If you want to get in touch with her, you can reach me at john.d.shutt@gmail.com and I'll send her e-mail.

I'm on board with everyone saying that you need to talk to a lawyer sooner rather than later, and should work with someone who knows the area.

5
TomGullen 20 hours ago 1 reply      
How automated is it? Any parts that could be automated that aren't? That would be step 1 I think.

Secondly, don't panic!

Thirdly, consider if I sell you my Starbucks card balance and I was evil, could I some how phone Starbucks up and say my card was lost/stolen? What happens in this instance? It's the biggest risk you need to look at from what I can see at first glance. Perhaps test this.

Fourthly, is there a difference between a gift card and reward card? Coincidentally we just bought a reward card today for our startup (we drink lots of coffee). It looks like it has a similar number format as a gift card, and the Starbucks FAQ says they can refund a balance from the moment it's reported as stolen/lost:http://www.starbucks.co.uk/customer-service/faqs/card

Fifthly, become aquainted with the law. Gift cards in the UK at least are considered as "Like cash" as far as I am aware. This means you could be setting yourself up for a bit of legal trouble down the line if you are considered a transmitter or money or such. As other posters point out, the reason for your early success could be because you are being used as a money laundering service without you being aware of the fact.

And a question, what exactly are you doing with all these cards? Selling them on somehow? Or keeping them?

If this is too much risk/pressure for you, and you feel out your comfort zone, consider selling it as is for BTC. I'm sure you'll find a buyer for a good sum. If you like risk, want to make some money then good luck! Let the adventure begin. Although it sounds like as soon as you get any volume and Starbucks catches wind you'd be pretty easy to shut down. That's one of the better outcomes for you as well I think, the legal risks sound significant. If it was mine, I'd look for a quick sale and pass the risk on.

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will_brown 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Taking the service offline was a good move. You can request an administrative ruling from FinCEN. It would be prudent to meet with an attorney first and have the attorney draft and send the letter (it may receive a quicker response on attorney letterhead).

As a side note attorneys can not contact you, they can send you advertisements or return your calls but they can not directly contact you, you must contact an attorney. Therefore any attorney who contacts you as a result of this post should immediately raise a red flag in you mind.

In the meantime here is FinCEN's guidance on virtual currencies: http://fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/html/FIN-2013-G001....

And FinCEN's final rule on prepaid access(aka gift cards): http://www.fincen.gov/news_room/nr/html/20110726b.html

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acangiano 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I think part of your success comes from having created the ability to, de facto, buy Bitcoins via credit card. Any credit card (e.g., stolen ones). That's also your biggest legal challenge. That's what should scare you. But if you can sort out those details and regulations with a good lawyer, you shouldn't be afraid of success and taking projects as far as they'll go.
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noonespecial 17 hours ago 0 replies      
If it were me, I'd back slowly away from this particular sleeping dog. You're playing both ends against the middle here. Fraudsters on one side and what can only be described as a vengeful, willfully belligerent government on the other. Both have infinite resources compared to you and a strong desire to do you harm.
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gnaritas 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, money laundering is profitable, but I wouldn't call it safe; I'd shut it down fast before you get yourself into real trouble.
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_sentient 20 hours ago 1 reply      
ITT: People who do want to start full-blown startups, and are more than happy to replicate your idea. If your moonlight project is seeing significant traction, imagine what could be done with full-time commitment and funding.

I think it's in the nature of an entrepreneur to always be hunting for promising new ventures. And that's not a bad thing. Just a heads up.

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blazespin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The reason you're successful is because no one rational will compete in this space because of the legal liability. I've seen that many times, segments which are profitable until you realize the legal quagmire you've wandered into and appreciate very well why no one else is doing it.
12
dpweb 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm shocked that on a programmers/hackers forum people would tell a guy not to start a business because there's "probable" illegality. This kind of thing is the basis of all FUD.

There's obviously enormous gray area regarding btc's legality. Get your advice from an professional lawyer.

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bira 20 hours ago 1 reply      
What scares you? If you outline your worries, you can problably get better answers addressing them.
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swalsh 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a cool concept, A lot of people let you trade bitcoin for cards, but the opposite is really useful too! I'd love this business in dollars.
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TheMakeA 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There appear to be a lot of people knowledgeable on money transmitters here so maybe someone can shine some light on this: How are app stores/online marketplaces/AirBnb/Kickstarter not also money transmitters?
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rasengan 20 hours ago 1 reply      
How are you handling fraud?
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codezero 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about the mechanics of this. What stops someone from giving their number for BitCoin, then using the card anyways?

After you sell/trade your card, how do others use it to buy coffee?

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dreamdu5t 20 hours ago 0 replies      
My guess is it's exploding because people are desperate for untraceable ways to convert cash into bitcoins. Most likely other services like this have popped up but then shut down for fraud related legal issues, or people are scared to start them.
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hahainternet 20 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a pretty damn neat idea. I've neither run a bitcoin business nor am I a lawyer.

Just thought I'd comment and congratulate you on your idea, if you end up needing tech or systems advice I'm sure I or someone else here can answer.

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cnp 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, as soon as I read that article about this I KNEW it was going to explode. Even at that low rate of exchange. Great idea, but stay away from the shady ones.
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icedchai 19 hours ago 1 reply      
How are you getting your bitcoin? Are you mining, or buying it at retail (coinbase, etc)?

You are providing a channel for money laundering, so you will likely come under scrutiny if this gets popular.

22
cushychicken 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I would recommend speaking with an accountant or financial adviser before the lawyer first - you'll still need the lawyer, but if it's really blowing up, you'll need some advice regarding taxable status of all this newfound digital income.

Congratulations on your success, no matter what direction you decide to go with it!

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jordsmi 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I really would be more careful with this site if I were you. You need to get pictures of the receipt or something, because if not you are just going to get alot of carded giftcards which will just have the money revoked shortly.
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davidpaulkrug 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Take a deep breath. It just means you have a good idea. Develop a system to streamline everything and enjoy the profits.
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bencollier49 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Aren't most gift cards "non-transferable"?
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ionwake 19 hours ago 0 replies      
On the top - does anyone know a good reliable place where you can get Starbucks Gift cards - for Bitcoin?
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aosmith 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Shoot me an email... I may be able to help here <aosmith-at-gmail>.
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MVf4l 19 hours ago 0 replies      
How scary is it? I guess the selling point of your idea is actually "anonymous".

Some holders bought bitcoins at $0.1/BTC, now they are spending coins like having a 99% off.

Well, if $0.1/BTC looks too dramatic, fine, let's say they bought at $200/BTC, still, 70% (which was paid off by newcomers if you think about it).

What I'm saying is the prosperity is based on how much profit your users will get, like Groupon (in the early days when they were providing huge discounts). While newcomers now are buying coins at high, how long do you think the prosperity could last?

Not sure if i'm thinking it right. Just wanted to point out.

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ty4 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Incorporate in Switzerland, I can help. tyfour at gmx.ch
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grotm001 20 hours ago 1 reply      
You can find a lawyer to work for equity on EquityLancer
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beachstartup 19 hours ago 0 replies      
my advice to you is either decide to pursue this full time, eyes wide open with regard to the risks, both legal and financial...

or shut it down and return all the money.

you can't half-ass this kind of thing.

32
samstave 20 hours ago 0 replies      
WRT lawyer: go talk to orrick. They will get you properly incorporated and will give you a ton worth of upfront legal help and won't require payment until you raise capital if that's needed.

If you crash and burn, they charge you nothing.

33
rbosinger 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you planning on drinking a lot of coffee?
4
Ask HN: What journals and blogs should I be reading to become a data scientist?
66 points by dewang  23 hours ago   43 comments top 25
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davidw 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Seen on twitter today:

https://twitter.com/jeremyjarvis/status/428848527226437632

"A data scientist is a statistician who lives in San Francisco."

2
rch 21 hours ago 1 reply      
You know, I absolutely see where the poster is coming from, and the suggestions look helpful so far, but the question might as well read: What journals and blogs should I be reading to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon?

(though hopefully nobody bleeds out on a table when someone misconstrues statistical data)

We've lived through an amazing time where one could learn by doing, and talented people have been able to compete without the benefit of formal education (myself included), but in my opinion those days are numbered.

I've personally observed respected PhD statisticians stumble on the type of problems a data scientist is expected to address. The combination of complex software and often counterintuitive mathematics makes this an imposing field for all but perhaps the top one percent of practitioners. Most everybody else needs to really hit the books for a few years, in a formal setting.

With that pre-coffee rant out of the way, I'm looking forward to finding some new sources here myself. So, in that spirit, thanks for the question.

3
joshvm 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't bother with journals - in pretty much any subject - unless you have a degree and/or you understand what to look for, or are directed to notable articles in bibliographies or by peers. There is a lot of crap in all journals, it's often needlessly technical for practical purposes or too bleeding edge to actually be useful yet.

I'm not trying to be snarky, but honestly unless you know what you're looking for it's a fool's game. Once you've got the feel for a subject, you tend to find several authors that crop up time and time again, or landmark papers that really shifted the field. But that takes a long time, it takes most PhD students a year to fully understand and simply collate the background of a topic they may think they know a lot about.

That and no one actually reads journals. You do a search on Web of Knowledge or ADS or arXiv or whatever your poison and you see what comes up. Point is, you need to know what you're looking for.

This is akin to saying that if you read Phys Rev enough, you'll become a physicist. Sure, sure, keep up with the trends, but big important results get press which is enough to rely on to start off with.

To become a data scientist? Read the recommended textbooks and take a proper degree in statistics, computer or data science. Look at the courses on EdX and Coursera for a starting point, they'll help you decide whether this is something you seriously want to pursue.

Even if this is just a hobby, e.g. you're a coder that wants to branch out, you should still take the time to invest in education properly. Data science, like statistics in general, is very easy to mess up. When people draw bad conclusions from data (and good data scientists can make up any conclusion from any data set), bad things inevitably happen. Entire threads of science have been destroyed because somewhere, someone messed up their stats and apparently important results are meaningless.

4
nashequilibrium 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Follow the link below, there is like 24hrs of lectures, including materials, code etc. These lectures cover reading data, saving data, cleaning & reshaping, visualization, stats, 8hrs machine learning in scikit learn, version control & unit testing, geospatial analyses. This is all in python using numpy,scipy,ipython,pandas and scikit learn as the base tools. You will love the ipython notebook!https://conference.scipy.org/scipy2013/tutorials_schedule.ph...
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mswen 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Becoming a data scientist isn't a matter of reading journals and blogs. You can get a sense of the field and what is required by reading those sites but becoming a data scientist is years of hard work.

You need to develop serious skills in at least 4 of the following disciplines.Statistical analysis

RDMS query development

NoSQL databases

Machine learning

Natural Language Processing

Web crawling and data harvesting techniques

Programming to access data APIs

Web development

Data visualization

Systems in business that generate data including, CRM, ERP and more

Geospatial data systems

Each of these areas would have its own set of resources both formal and informal.

8
MrMan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Unless you are part of a vanishingly small group of autodidacts who can train themselves up to graduate school levels of expertise in multiple overlapping subjects - statistics, computer science (might be able to get away with just being an ok programmer), and the interdisciplinary combination of those called "machine learning," you should disappear into a statistics degree program, and amend the traditional stats program deficiencies with the modern-day leavening agents that create "machine learning."

Downloading scikitlearn and R and such is not going to work. At that level you are only qualified to be bossed around by a real scientist or statistician. You are an "analyst".

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allochthon 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't have a PhD, and I'd love to be called a "scientist." But I think it's pretentious to use the label "data scientist" for anyone with solid stats experience and a gift for exploring data. To my mind, scientists have gone through formal training and earned a PhD, which, in a given context, may or may not be necessary for what these guys are doing.
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roel_v 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a journal or blog, but you should start reading the application guidelines for your local university's math, econometrics or similar degrees.
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jmount 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Try our upcoming book: "Practical Data Science with R" http://www.manning.com/zumel/
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chubot 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend Hadley Wickam's papers: http://vita.had.co.nz/

He is the prolific author of many R packages, which are more like little languages than libraries. His papers are both philosophical and practical, and informed by writing a huge amount of code.

The first one on that page is really good, and along with another paper of his got me explicitly thinking of organize my data in R using the relational model (a thing people with computer science backgrounds will know well).

It made me realize that R is actually a better SQL. It's a language for tables, or an algebra of tables.

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steamer25 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't a periodical (although you used to be able to view the top questions for the given week--if anyone knows how to get that out of StackExchange again, please let me know) but it is a good source of bite-sized info-trickle:

http://stats.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=votes

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justinkestelyn 18 hours ago 0 replies      
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ScottWhigham 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you joined/visited http://datatau.com? Fun HN-style community site.
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dbecker 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a journal or blog, but I highly recommend Andrew Ng's Machine Learning course on Coursera.
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mindcrash 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Grab this set: http://shop.oreilly.com/category/get/data-science-kit.do for Data Science, and maybe this set aswell: http://shop.oreilly.com/category/get/machine-learning-kit.do if you're into Machine Learning.

Both from O'Reilly (with some Packt mixed in). Excellent content.

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amerkhalid 21 hours ago 0 replies      
You can also take MOOC courses for example:https://www.coursera.org/specialization/jhudatascience/1?utm...
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ih 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Udacity has a data science track of courses (https://www.udacity.com/courses#!/Data%20Science) and the blog has recently had data science related posts (http://blog.udacity.com/).
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ZygmuntZ 21 hours ago 0 replies      
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phatak-dev 20 hours ago 0 replies      
You can learn a lot about machine learning from this coursehttps://www.coursera.org/course/ml
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x-sam 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I use a twitter list to collect some cool data people,here are some https://twitter.com/lc0d3r/data-nerds
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skadamat 21 hours ago 0 replies      
datasciencemasters.org

and the HN for Data Sci - datatau.com

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0800899g 15 hours ago 0 replies      
What journals and blogs should I be reading to become a data scientist?
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slashdotaccount 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Dipshit Buzzwords QuarterlyData Mining, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and other euphemisms for being pretentiously lazyAmazon Principal Engineer Tenets
5
Massive increase in SMTP attacks
8 points by jebblue  10 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1
nmc 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, seeing some phony SMTP requests from Comcast and Cox (easily blocked by Spamhaus), but not in a larger amount than the usual. By how much was it a "massive up tick" on your systems?
6
Ask HN: was there actually a language called C+?
3 points by BWStearns  5 hours ago   5 comments top 5
1
dalke 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Bill Kinnersley's Language List, with 2500+ languages, at http://people.ku.edu/~nkinners/LangList/Indexes/cindex.htm , does not contain a "C+" (specifically, see http://people.ku.edu/~nkinners/LangList/Indexes/cindex.htm ).

That list is not complete. There are plenty of niche languages not present. (The X*PLOR programming language, used in an old crystallography program, and the SVL programming language, used in the molecular structure program MOE, are not present.) But it means that C+ is at best obscure.

2
BWStearns 1 hour ago 0 replies      
OP here:I was/am not joking in the question. Some dude was really claiming that he learned/did real work in C+. I'm a youngin' so I didn't want to be an ass if this was a pre-internet language which failed to be appropriately recorded.

anaccountname/Zellio: I've seen that story about the naming logic for C++ (primarily the incrementer operater bit) which is what triggered my initial suspicion of this C+(no more pluses) thing.

Judging by the responses thus far and the propensity of HN to punish the uninformed question I am feeling relatively secure in my original assertion to the other programmer who originated this argument that there is in fact no such language as C+ (excluding of course something some random guy made that was never used in any significant volume). That said if I am wrong please let me know, cheers.

3
anaccountname 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"I picked C++ because it was short, had nice interpretations, and wasn't of the form "adjective C."' In C, ++ can, depending on context, be read as "next," "successor," or "increment," though it is always pronounced "plus plus." The name C++ and its runner up ++C are fertile sources for jokes and puns - almost all of which were known and appreciated before the name was chosen. The name C++ was suggested by Rick Mascitti. It was first used in December of 1983 when it was edited into the final copies of [Stroustrup,1984] and [Stroustrup,1984c]."

The Design and Evolution of C++; Ch. 3, p.64 - Bjarne Stroustrup

Based on that excerpt, I'd hazard to guess that there was never was a C+. If there where, it's extremely unlikely that its Stoustrup participated in its creation.

4
nmc 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Thought this was a joke, but in case you are serious, you may be looking for the C-based object-oriented version of ABCL [1].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ABCL/c%2B#ABCL.2Fc.2B

5
zellio 5 hours ago 0 replies      
C++ is a play on the increment operator (++) in C. The language was originally called C With Classes, but this was dropped in favour of the less wordy C++ or C increment. To describe a language which was C but a step improved / increased.
7
Ask HN: What's the worst you've ever screwed up at work?
199 points by kadabra9  2 days ago   303 comments top 120
1
patio11 2 days ago 6 replies      
I've only cried literal tears once in the last ten years, over business. Due to inattention while coding during an apartment move, I pushed a change to Appointment Reminder which was poorly considered. It didn't cause any immediate problems and passed my test suites, but the upshot is it was a time bomb that would inevitably bring down the site's queue worker processes and keep them down.

Lesson #1: Don't code when you're distracted.

Some hours later, the problem manifested. The queue workers came down, and AR (which is totally dependent on them for its core functionality) immediately stopped doing the thing customers pay me money to do. My monitoring system picked up on this and attempted to call me -- which would have worked great, except my cell phone was in a box that wasn't unpacked yet.

Lesson #2a: If you're running something mission critical, and your only way to recover from failure means you have to wake up when the phone rings, make sure that phone stays on and by you.

Later that evening I felt a feeling of vague unease about my change earlier and checked my email from my iPad. My inbox was full of furious customers who were observing, correctly, that I was 8 hours into an outage. Oh dear. I ssh'ed in from the iPad, reverted my last commit, and restarted the queue workers. Queues quickly went down to zero. Problem solved right?

Lesson #3: If at all possible, avoid having to resolve problems when exhausted/distracted. If you absolutely must do it, spend ten extra minutes to make sure you actually understand what went wrong, what your recovery plan is, and how that recovery plan will interact with what went wrong first.

AR didn't use idempotent queues (Lesson #4: Always use idempotent queues), so during the outage, every 5 minutes on a cron job every person who was supposed to be contacted that day got one reminder added to the queue. Fortuitously, AR didn't have all that many customers at the time, so only 15 or so people were affected. Less than fortuitously, those 15 folks had 10 to 100 messages queued, each. As soon as I pressed queues.restart() AR delivered all of those phone calls, text messages, and emails. At once.

Very few residential phone systems or cell phones respond in a customer-pleasing manner to 40 simultaneous telephone calls. It was a total DDOS on my customers' customers.

I got that news at 3 AM in the morning Japan time, at my new apartment, which didn't have Internet sufficient to run my laptop and development environment to see e.g. whose phones I had just blown up. Ogaki has neither Internet cafes nor taxis available at 3 AM in the morning. As a result, I had to put my laptop in a bag and walk across town, in the freezing rain, to get back to my old apartment, which still had a working Internet connection.

By the time I had completed the walk of shame I was drenched, miserable, and had magnified the likely impact that this had on customers' customers in my own mind. Then I got to my old apartment and checked email. The first one was, as you might expect, rather irate. And I just lost it. Broke down in tears. Cried for a good ten minutes. Called my father to explain what had happened, because I knew that I had to start making apology calls and wasn't sure prior to talking to him that I'd be able to do it without my voice breaking.

The end result? Lost two customers, regained one because he was impressed by my apology. The end users were mostly satisfied with my apologies. (It took me about two hours on the phone, as many of them had turned off their phones when they blew up.)

You'd need a magnifying glass to detect it ever happened, looking on any chart of interest to me. The software got modestly better after I spent a solid two weeks on improved fault tolerance and monitoring.

Lesson the last: It's just a job/business. The bad days are usually a lot less important in hindsight than they seem in the moment.

2
yan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not the worst at all, but probably one I found most amusing. One of my jobs included some sys admin tasks (this wasn't the position, but we all did dev ops), among my other responsibilities. I spent half a day going through everything with the person responsible for most of the admin tasks at the time. She was an extremely dilligent and competent admin, did absolutely everything through configuration management and kept very thorough personal logs and documentation on the entire network. One of my first tasks was to change backup frequency (or other singular change) and going by how I usually did things at the time, just sudid a vi session, changed the frequency and restarted the service.

She found out about it pretty quickly due to having syslog be a constant presence in one of her gnu screen windows and gave me a look. She quickly reverted what I did, updated our config management tool, tested it, then deployed it, while explaining why this was the right way to do things. I slowly came around to doing things the right way and haven't thought much about the initial incident until we found her personal logs that she archived and left on our public network share for future reference.

In the entries for the day that I started, we saw the following two lines:

    [*] 2007/09/09 09:58 - yan started. gave sudo privs and initial hire forms.    [*] 2007/09/09 10:45 - revoked yan's sudo privs.

3
ggreer 2 days ago 4 replies      
One summer in college, I got an internship at a company that made health information systems. After fixing bugs in PHP scripts for a couple weeks, I was granted access to their production DB. (Hey, they were short on talent.) This database stored all kinds of stuff, including the operating room schedules for various hospitals. It included who was being operated on, when, what operation they were scheduled for, and important information such as patient allergies, malignant hyperthermia, etc.

I was a little sleepy one morning and accidentally connected to prod instead of testing. I thought, "That's weird, this UPDATE shouldn't have taken so long-oh shit." I'd managed to clear all allergy and malignant hyperthermia fields. For all I knew, some anesthesiologist would kill a patient because of my mistake. I was shaking. I immediately found the technical lead, pulled him from a meeting, and told him what happened. He'd been smart enough to set up hourly DB snapshots and query logs. It only took five minutes to restore from a snapshot and replay all the logs, not including my UPDATE.

Afterwards, my access to prod was not revoked. We both agreed I'd learned a valuable lesson, and that I was unlikely to repeat that mistake. The tech lead explained the incident to the higher-ups, who decided to avoid mentioning anything to the affected hospitals.

If it's any consolation, the company is no longer in business.

Just remember when you screw things up: Your mistake probably won't get anyone killed, so don't panic too much.

4
hluska 2 days ago 4 replies      
A local Subway franchise was the very first company that hired me. I was extremely young, shy, and intensely socially awkward, yet excited to join the workforce (as I had my eyes set on a Pentium processor).

When I worked at Subway, the bread dough came frozen, but you would put loaves in a proofer, proof it for a certain amount of time, and then bake it. My first shift, however, got busy and I left several trays in the proofer for a very, very long time. Consequently, they rose to roughly the size of loaves of bread, as opposed to the usual buns.

It was my very first shift alone at any job in my life, so I did the most logical thing I could think of and put the massive buns in the oven. They cooked up nicely enough and I thought I was saved. Until I tried to cut into one.

Back in that day, Subway used to cut those silly u-shaped gouges out of their buns. In retrospect, I think this was most likely a bizarre HR technique designed to weed out the real dummies, but at the time I was oblivious (likely because I was one of the dummies they should have weeded out). When I ran out of the normal bread, I grabbed one of my monstrosities, tried to cut into it, and discovered that it was not only rock hard, but the loaf broke apart as I tried to cut it.

That night, my severe shyness and social awkwardness had their first run-in with beasts known as angry customers. I was scared I would get fired, so I promptly made new buns, but spent the rest of my shift trying to get rid of my blunder. I discovered some really interesting things about people that night. First, you'd be surprised how incredibly nice customers are if you are straight up with them. Some customers I never met before met the big, crumbly buns as an adventure and, in doing so, helped me sell all the ruined buns.

In the end, I came clean (and didn't get fired). That horrible night was a huge event in the dismantling of my shell. It taught me an awful lot about ethics. And frankly, that brief experience in food service forever changed how I deal with staff in similar types of jobs.

5
Smerity 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was testing disaster recovery for the database cluster I was managing. Spun up new instances on AWS, pulled down production data, created various disasters, tested recovery.

Surprisingly it all seemed to work well. These disaster recovery steps weren't heavily tested before. Brilliant! I went to shut down the AWS instances. Kill DB group. Wait. Wait... The DB group? Wasn't it DB-test group...

I'd just killed all the production databases. And the streaming replicas. And... everything... All at the busiest time of day for our site.

Panic arose in my chest. Eyes glazed over. It's one thing to test disaster recovery when it doesn't matter, but when it suddenly does matter... I turned to the disaster recovery code I'd just been testing. I was reasonably sure it all worked... Reasonably...

Less than five minutes later, I'd spun up a brand new database cluster. The only loss was a minute or two of user transactions, which for our site wasn't too problematic.

My friends joked later that at least we now knew for sure that disaster recovery worked in production...

Lesson: When testing disaster recovery, ensure you're not actually creating a disaster in production.

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jawns 2 days ago 2 replies      
I run Correlated.org, which is the basis for the upcoming book "Correlated: Surprising Connections Between Seemingly Unrelated Things" (July 2014, Perigee).

I had had some test tables sitting around in the database for a while and decided to clean them up. I stupidly forgot to check the status of my backups; because of an earlier error, they were not being correctly saved.

So, I had a bunch of tables with similar names:

    users_1024    users_1025    users_1026
I decided to delete them all in one big swoop.

Guess what got deleted along with them? The actual users table (which I've since renamed to something that does not even contain "users" in it).

So, how do you recover a users table when you've just deleted it and your backup has failed?

Well, I happened to have all of my users' email addresses stored in a separate mailing list table, but that table did not store their associated user IDs.

So I sent them all an email, prompting them to visit a password reset page.

When they visited the page, if their user ID was stored in a cookie -- and for most of them, it was -- I was able to re-associate their user ID with their email address, prompt them to select a new password, and essentially restore their account activity.

There was a small subset of users who did not have their user IDs stored in a cookie, though.

Here's how I tackled that problem:

Because the bulk of a user's activity on the site involves answering poll questions, I prompted them to select some poll questions that they had answered previously, and that they were certain they could answer again in the same way. I was then able to compare their answers to the list of previous responses and narrow down the possibilities. Once I had narrowed it down to a single user, I prompted them to answer a few more "challenge" questions from that user's history, to make sure that the match was correct. (Of course, that type of strategy would not work for a website where you have to be 100% sure, rather than, say, 98% sure, that you've matched the correct person to the account.)

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gmays 2 days ago 1 reply      
In late 2008 when I was in the Marines and deployed to Iraq I was following too closely behind the vehicle in front while crossing a wadi and we hit an IED (the first of 3 that day).

Nobody was killed, but we had a few injured. Thankfully the brunt of it hit the MRAP in front of us. If it hit my vehicle (HMMWV, flat bottom) instead I probably wouldn't be here.

That was the first major operation on my first deployment, too. Hello, world!

My takeaway? Shit just got real.

We ended up stranded that night after the 3rd IED strike (our "rescuers" said it was too dangerous to get us). It was the scariest day of my life, but in similar future situations it was different. I still felt fear and the reality of the existential threat, but I accepted it. It was almost liberating. Strange.

I deployed for another year after that (to Afghanistan that time). After Afghanistan I left the Corps and started my company. Because if it fails, what's the worst that can happen? Lulz.

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wpietri 2 days ago 2 replies      
Long ago when I was, I think, a sophomore in college and worked for the university IT group, I was trying to add an external drive to an early NeXT machine [1]. I wanted to try out their fancy GUI development stuff, you see. I was at best a modestly competent Unix admin, and this was circa NextStep 1.0, so the OS was... rough. It was in the dark days of SCSI terminators, so just telling if the drive was properly connected and, if so, how to address it was challenging.

After a couple hours of swearing, instead of working from a root shell in my own account, I just logged into the GUI as root. And there was a pretty interface showing the disks. I could just click on one and format it. Hooray!

Well either the GUI was buggy or I clicked on the wrong disk, because as the format was going, I realized the external drive wasn't doing anything. I was formatting the internal boot hard drive. And since nobody but me gave a crap about this weird free box somebody had given them, they had repurposed it. As a file server. For the home directories of a bunch of my colleagues. Who were now collecting around me wondering what was going on. Oops.

No problem, says I. I'll just restore from backups. But this thing used a weird magneto-optical drive [2]. The only boot media we had was on an MO disk. The backups were on another. And there was only one of these drives, probably only one in the whole state. The drives were, of course, incredibly slow, especially if you needed to swap disks. Which, I eventually discovered, I would have to do about a million times to have a hope of recovery.

Long story short, I spent 28 hours in a row in that chair. It was my immersion baptism [2] in the ways of being a sysadmin. The things I learned:

Fear the root shell. It should be treated with as much caution as a live snake.

Have backups. People will do dumb things; be ready.

A backup plan where you have never tried restoring anything may lead to more excitement than you want.

Be suspicious of GUI admin tools. Avoid new GUI admin tools if at all possible. Let somebody else be the one to discover the dangerous flaws.

If you were smart enough to break something, you're smart enough to fix it. Don't give up.

When some young idiot fucks up, check to make sure that they are sufficiently freaked out. If they are, no need to yell at them. Instead support them in solving the problem.

Seriously, my colleagues were awesome about this. I went on to become an actual paid sysadmin, and spent many years enjoying the work. The experience taught me fear, and a level of care that sticks with me today. I'm sure at the time I was wishing somebody would wave a magic wand and make it the problems go away, but working through it gave me a level of comfort in apparent disasters that has been helpful many times since.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NeXTcube[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magneto-optical_drive[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immersion_baptism

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nostromo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was once in charge of running an A/B test at my work. Part of the test involved driving people to a new site using AdWords.

After the test was complete, I forgot to turn off the Adwords. (Such a silly mistake...) Nobody notices until our bill arrives from Google, and it's substantially higher than normal. When my coworker came to ask me about it, "are these your campaigns?!?" I just sank in my chair.

I think it cost the company $30k. I suppose it's not that much money in the grand scheme of things, but I felt very bad.

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jboggan 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love these topics.

~ 2007, working in a large bioinformatics group with our own very powerful cluster, mainly used for protein folding. Example job: fold every protein from a predicted coding region in a given genome. I was mostly doing graph analysis on metabolic and genetic networks though, and writing everything in Perl.

I had a research deadline coming up in a month, but I was also about to go on a hunting trip and be incommunicado for two weeks. I had to kick off a large job (about 75,000 total tasks) but I figured spread over our 8,000 node cluster it would be okay (GPFS storage, set up for us by IBM). I kicked off the jobs as I walked out the door for the woods.

Except I had been doing all my testing of those jobs locally, and my Perl environment was configured slightly differently on the cluster, so while I was running through billions of iterations on each node I was writing the same warning to STDOUT, over and over. It filled up the disks everywhere and caused an epic I/O traffic jam that crashed every single long-running protein folding job. The disk space issues caused some interesting edge cases and it was basically a few days before the cluster would function properly and not lose data or crash jobs. The best part was that I was totally unreachable and thus no one could vent their ire, causing me to return happy and well-rested to an overworked office brimming with fermented ill-will. And I didn't get my own calculations done either, causing me to miss a deadline.

Lessons learned:

1) PRODUCTION != DEVELOPMENT ever ever ever ever2) Big jobs should be proceeded by small but qualitatively identical test jobs 3) Don't launch any multi-day builds on a Friday4) Know what your resource consumption will mean for your colleagues in the best and worst cases5) Make sure any bad code you've written has been aired out before you go on vacation6) Don't use Perl when what you really needed was Hadoop

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michh 2 days ago 13 replies      
Classic forgetting the full WHERE-part of a manual UPDATE-query on a production system. The worst part is you know you fucked up the nanosecond you hit enter, but it's already too late. Lesson learned? Avoid doing things manually even if a non-technical co-worker insists something needs to be changed right away. And if you do: wrap it in a transaction so you can rollback, leave in a syntax error that you'll only remove when you're done typing the query.
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leothekim 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not the worst, but certainly most infamous thing I've done: I was testing a condition in a frontend template which, if met, left a <!-- leo loves you --> comment in the header HTML of all the sites we served. Unfortunately the condition was always met and I pushed the change without thinking. This was back in the day when bandwidth was precious and extraneous HTML was seriously frowned upon. We didn't realize it was in production for a week, at which point several engineers actually decided to leave it in as a joke. Then someone higher up found out and browbeat me into removing it, citing bandwidth and disk space costs.

Now, if you go to a CNET site and view source, there's a <!-- Chewie loves you --> comment. I like to think of that as an homage to my original fuckup.

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tptacek 2 days ago 0 replies      
I once accidentally ruined the Internet.

https://www.google.com/search?q=ptacek+kaminsky+leak

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yen223 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wrote a piece of code controlling an assembly line machine. These machines require manual operation, and would come with a light curtain, which detects when someone places their hand near the moving parts, and should temporarily stop the machine.

A relatively minor bug in the software that I wrote caused the safety curtain to stop triggering when a certain condition was met. We discovered this bug after an operator was injured by one of these machines. Her hand needed something like 14 stitches.

Lessons learnt:

1. Event-driven code is hard.

2. There's no difference between a 'relatively minor' bug and a major one. The damage is still the same.

15
preinheimer 2 days ago 1 reply      
I ended up as the architect for a new live show we were putting on. You could either pre-purchase some number of minutes, or pay per minute, it was like $4.99/minute or something insane.

The billing specs kept changing, as did the specs for the show itself. New price points, more plans, change the show interface, add another option here, etc. The plan had been to do a free preview show the day before to work out the kinks. That didn't happen.

The time leading up to show start was pretty tense, lots of updates, even a few last minute changes! Then the show actually started, brief relief. The chat system built in started deleting messages, one of those last minute feature changes had screwed up automatic old-message deletion. We had a fix though, update the JS, and bounce everyone out of the show and back in so the JS updates. Fixed!

Then the CEO pointed out that the quality just kept getting worse. Turns out that while the video player had both a numeric value and a string description for the different quality levels, it assumed they were in ascending order. So once it confirmed it could stream well at a given level, it automatically tried the next, which worked! Poor quality for everyone. Fixed, and another bounce.

Then it was over, time to go home. Back in the next day to finish off the billing code. I decided to approach it like a time card system. Traverse the logs in order, recording punch in time, when someone punches out, look up their punch-in times and set that user's time spent to the difference. Remove punch-in and out from the current record so they're not used again.

Now two facts from above added up to a pretty serious bug.1) I _set_ the time spent to the difference between the two times. Not added, set.2) We bounced everyone from the show twice to update their JS, and video player. So everyone had multiple join/parts.

I under-billed customers by tens of thousands of dollars.

Things I learned:

- Don't just argue that you need a trial run, make sure management understands the benefits. Why, not What.

- Duplicate billing code. After that a co-worker and I wrote two separate billing parsers for things, 1 designed to be different, not efficient.

- Give yourself ways to fix problems after they crop up. The bounce killed my billing code, but not doing it would have damaged the actual product (which later became a regular feature). Wish that thing had been my idea.

16
discardorama 2 days ago 1 reply      
I bet > 66% of these are something to do with databases. :-)

My story (though I wasn't directly responsible): we were delivering our software to an obscure government agency. Based on our recommendation, they had ordered a couple of SGI boxes. I wrote the installation script, which copied stuff off the CD, etc. Being a tcsh afficianado, I decided to write it in tcsh with the shebang line

   #!/usr/local/bin/tcsh
Anyways: we send them the CD. Some dude on the other side logs in as root, mounts the CD, and tries to run "installme.csh". "command not found" comes the response.So he peeks at the script, and sees that it's a shell script. He knows enough of unix that "shell == bash". So he runs "bash installme.csh" . A few minutes go by, and lots of errors. So he reboots; now the system won't come up.The genius that he is, he decides to try the CD on the second SGI box. Same results.

In the script, the first few lines were something like:

    set HOME = "/some/location"    /bin/rm -rf $HOME/*
Hint: IRIX didn't ship with /usr/local/bin/tcsh. And guess what's the value of "HOME" in bash?

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Beltiras 2 days ago 1 reply      
I work at a newspaper as a programmer for the website. Mostly my job is backend programming, some HTML and CSS work (mostly left to designers). I run our local computer infrastructure as well as manage a cluster for our online presence and assist in technology related journalism as well as assisting our CEO in managing the IT budget.

I inherited a mess of an architecture and am finally getting around to rewriting our deployment process. We buy VM services from a local outfit and the prices are basically an arm and a leg for rather small machines. Due to this my predecessor put in place an insane deployment script. It pulls the new version from github then reloads code on the running dynos, one after another. Reverting is out of the question with our current approach to VCS (something I am also fixing). Most of the time this is no problem, all we are changing really is some template code, or introducing new models and their views.

Thinking back I am quite happy we don't run into more problems than we do, but also happy that this type of insanity is soon in the rearview mirror.

The worst mistake was recently, cost us about 4 hours of downtime during the busiest time of the day.

A big feature on all news sites are lists of stories to present to the user to look at after they have read what you put in front of them at the moment. They may take the form of most viral, most read, most commented, sliced by time or category or many other factors. My predecessor had written all those lists statically, which made maintenance a nightmare and extension very fragile.

I made a function that was a generic list of items. You supply basic parameters, amongst them a QuerySet for what would construct the list and my function would check to see if it was cached and if it wasn't, generate it and cache it.

The framework I use (Django) generally uses lazy evaluation for all QuerySets and I rarely have to think about the size of the list I generate, I just take care to limit the query before I list() it. During development nothing showed up as a problem and I deployed this and all seemed to be good with the world.

A week passes by where I made at least 2 minor deploys (small changes to templates, minor tweaks to list filters) and all seemed to be good with the world.

Designer sends me a pull request, I look over the code, just some garden-variety template changes, nothing that should raise an eyebrow. Make the merge, plan to deploy and then go to lunch. Deployment done, all seems well for 2 minutes but then suddenly servers lit on fire. Pages spewed 404's and 500's like there was no tomorrow.

For 4 hours I tear my hair out, examine every piece of code I was deploying that day, call in the big gun support (the kind that costs more money than I care to think about). Everything I was looking at pointed to the caching agent not working. Too many pageviews requesting the database, too much load on the servers, reboots made them work fine for about a minute but then everything became bogged down.

The big gun support pointed something out finally that I had missed: Traffic from the database to the dynos was abnormally high. Made me take a look at code that had been there for a while and lo and behold: For some reason when you pass a QuerySet as a parameter, it seems to be evaluated for the receiving function! 2 lines of code added, one deploy, problem fixed.

I have no idea to this day how this code could be live for a week without causing problems but an unrelated change triggers the bad behavior. This is not be the first time I've seen strange behavior from code, having seen a Heisenbug in Java code.

There's a happy ending to this. I made a big mea culpa slideshow where I pointed out all the flaws and what we needed to do to prevent a re-occurence. I got support to make the changes needed and my new cluster goes live day after tomorrow. Now I can carefully change NEW dynos for a deployment, keeping the old one's around if the shit hits the fan. I got some changes instituted in how we approach VC, something that's hampered work for a while. And we save money in the long run because we will no longer be paying an arm and a leg for the VMs (AND I got to learn about clustering machines with HA, goodstuff with gravy).

18
alexmarcy 2 days ago 1 reply      
My worst would have been catastrophic if I had waited one minute to make my mistake.

I was commissioning a new control system at a power plant's water treatment facility. I was fairly new to the industry and had mostly looked over the guy who did the bulk of the work's shoulder as on the job training.

This particular day the guy was out sick and we had to finalize a couple of things before we ran through the final tests.

There was an instruction to open a valve to fill a tank and it had the wrong variable linked to it. The problem was to maintain the naming standards I had to do a download to the processor to make the change. When I had been doing work in the office this was not a big deal, download the program to the processor, it stops running for a moment while it loads the new logic into memory and starts back up.

Not thinking through the implications of the processor shutting down while the process was up and running I made the code changes, hit download and about 30 seconds later an operator came running over looking like he had seen a ghost and he was pissed.

While I was making my code changes the operator was hooking up a hose to drain a rail car of some chemicals. The way the valves were configured before I made my changes was correct and would have had no consequence it I didn't touch anything. The way the valves were configured when the processor restarted would have routed the rail car's contents to the wrong tank resulting in a reaction which would have created a huge plume of highly toxic gas. The way the wind was blowing this plume would have blown directly to the largest town in the area and could have killed a ton of people.

The operator heard the valves in question changing position before he opened the valve on his hose to empty the rail car and figured something was up. When he saw the whole process had shut down he got really angry because I had ignored the protocol in place to avoid such a disaster.

I got chewed out and kicked off the site. My boss attributed my mistake to inexperience and I had to give a safety presentation on what I did wrong.

Lessons learned:Be sure you are aware of any implications your actions have. If you are unsure or guessing about something stop what you are doing and go ask someone first.

Don't give people mission critical work on their first project and have them work unsupervised. Training is important.

Always be aware of safety requirements, especially when you are working with machinery, automated processes, chemicals or anything else that can hurt, maim or kill you.

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benched 2 days ago 0 replies      
I once cared about a job to the point of damaging my mental health. I haven't made that mistake since. I did, however, rather stupidly accomplish the same thing, years later, by caring too much about an entrepreneurial venture.
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rfreytag 2 days ago 0 replies      
About 30 years ago I deleted the JOBCONTROL process on an old VAX 11/780 thinking it might be the reason why someone's process was stuck.

It wasn't a but an hour before I lost sysadmin privileges.

Never "experiment" with a production system - ever.

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snikch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sigh, I cringe even remembering this one.

We were storing payment details sent from a PHP system into a Ruby system, I was responsible for the sending and receiving endpoints. Everything was heavily tested on the Ruby end but the PHP end was a legacy system with no testing framework. Since the details were encrypted on the Ruby end, I didn't do a full test from end to end AND unencrypt the stored results.

Turns out for two months we were storing the string '[Array]' as peoples payment details.

Takeaway: If you're doing an end to end test, make sure you go all the way to the end.

22
m3mnoch 2 days ago 2 replies      
way back in the late 90s stone age of interactive ad agencies, we were doing our first really big gig for hp. it was a demo shipping out to retail stores showcasing one of their products -- a run of 30,000 stamped cd roms.

i was the one developing the macromedia director app running on the cd.

we were on-time.

we were ready to send them out the door.

it was awesome.

and then we tested the rom outside of our network...

in some far-off corner of code, i had baked in a hard reference to one of our file servers on our network for some streaming assets. the cd failed as soon as you put it in the drive due to that reference to the missing file.

by the time we discovered this, we'd already glass-mastered and stamped 30,000 discs to the tune of $40k or so. or, about $6k per employee. in a company that booked about $50k the previous year. where i worked for free for 9 months.

so, my line of code cost our little company the equivalent of almost all of our previous year's revenue -- not profit, but revenue.

we, of course, had to make the run again -- only this time at the emergency rush prices. and this time, we were running late.

we managed to book some time in the middle of the night at the stamping plant. it was 4am. i had a courier standing over my shoulder watching me run the final build again, this time without the dreaded line of code -- which broke other things i had to fix when i removed it -- before he could take it.

i finished testing. ejected the disc. handed it to the courier, who started running as he was placing it into its case. he drove like hell to make it to the airport where we counter-to-countered it on a 2-hour, 6am flight to vegas for stamping.

oh, and it almost got even worse from there. almost.

we didn't know if they would be able to stuff the cds into the packaging because this was an emergency run and they didn't have the people available.

so...

we were actually on our way to rent a uhaul which we calculated we could drive to vegas just in time for the stamping run to finish. from there, we would load the discs on their spindles, and 4 of us were going to sit in the back of the van, stuffing 30,000 discs while we drove the uhaul to palo alto. from vegas. yes, stuffing discs in the back of a traveling uhaul.

we even had the patio furniture from one of the employees yards already picked out to sit in while we were in the back of the truck.

luckily, the plant managed to squeeze in our packaging (at rush pricing, of course) and all we needed to do was have one of our guys take them as luggage on a later flight that day to the bay area instead.

as to a couple, big lessons learned?

1) i can honestly tell you, i've never, ever had a hard-coded, local network link in anything i've shipped since and never will again. always test off-network. especially these days with mobile apps and their on-off-network states.

2) a strong, non-finger-pointing team is where you need to be. i felt appropriately awful, but we handled it as a team and proceeded to grow that little company to about $40 million a year before a merger.

p.s. oh, and next time, remind me to tell you about the time i ran a database query on production that nuked the entire website for the publicly-traded software company which relied on -- wait for it -- the website to do all its commerce.

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trustfundbaby 2 days ago 0 replies      
rm -rf .

yup. that really happened.it was 4-5am in the morning and I'd been working all night. I was on the server trying to set something up and was trying to blow away a folder ... I did a normal rm and that didn't work (obviously) because there was crap in the folder. So I pulled out my nuclear weapon to nuke the folder but left off the preceding ./ (which still wasn't that smart anyway) ... I sat there for a second wondering why the deletion was taking so long ... then another 30 then a minute ... then I looked at what I'd just typed again ... then I realized what had happened.

ctrl-c'ed (or d, can't remember now) out of it. then tried to find root folders

cd /etc=> folder not found

cd /var=> folder not found

I'm from a third world country where we laugh at Americans (sorry) for throwing up when they're nervous or having panic attacks, but at that moment, I had a full blown panic attack. I'll never forget it.

The work was a subcontract for a client who was doing work for Nike, and it was a decently sized project that was critical to the success of the firm, and I'd just blown away their live production server ...

Afer freaking out and almost crying for 5 minutes. I decided to call media temple support (we were using one of their vps servers) ... and by the biggest absolute stroke of luck they'd just backed up the entire server ... not even 2 hours prior to my madness. $100 for a full restore (I don't recall why) and would I like to do that?

HECK YES I WOULD!

so they restored the server for me. I wrote an email to the head of the small company I was doing all the work for, explaining what I had happened and telling him I'd sent over a check for $100 to cover the backup because it was my fault. He was obviously very relieved and never cashed the check I sent.

I still get chills thinking about that exact moment when I thought I'd fucked up my career and reputation for good.

24
tsaoutourpants 2 days ago 1 reply      
Back in my younger days, I once had a project manager who was asking me to make a significant network infrastructure change but refused to tell me why the change was necessary and basically told me to do as I was told. I messaged a coworker to see if he knew what was going on, and dropped in that the PM was being a "fucking cunt." I was unaware, however, that the co-worker and the PM were troubleshooting an issue together and the PM was staring at his screen as my message came through.

The PM brought the issue to the CTO, but somehow I didn't get fired. Ended up apologizing (obviously a poor choice of words :)) and moved on. Never made that infrastructure change.

Key takeaway: if you're going to talk shit, don't do so in writing. ;)

25
cgh 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was in a remote meeting and failed to realise my laptop's camera was broadcasting. A roomful of people saw me, clad in horrid workout clothes, jam my finger up my itchy nose and scratch my balls.

Key takeaway: always check the cam.

26
zimpenfish 2 days ago 1 reply      
Many years ago, when I was but a fresh faced idiot, the partition that contained the mSQL database which had All The Data filled up. I moved it into /tmp because there was plenty of space.

On a Solaris box.

Hilarity ensued when we next rebooted it.

27
donretag 2 days ago 0 replies      
A long time ago while working on a *nix box logged in as root, I executed a simple "!find". Basically execute the last find. In root's history, the last find command was something like "find ... -exec rm ...". The command was run at the root of the content directory of a CMS, deleting all the content (major media website). CMS was down while backups were restored.

I now never execute ! commands as root. Actually, nowadays I simply use CTRL-r.

28
admiraltbags 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lurker turned member to post this.

Second web related job at an insurance company, I was 20 years old at the time. We were heavy into online advertising, mostly banners at the time (this was right around when adwords started to get big). The company just bought out all of the MSN finance section of their site for the day-- it was a pretty big campaign ($100,000). We drove all the traffic to a landing page I had created with a short form to "Get a quote".

IT had given me permissions to push things live for quick fixes and such, I made a last minute design tweak and, you guessed it, broke something. I was checking click traffic and inbound leads and realized traffic was through the roof but leads were non-existent. This was about 45 minutes after the campaign was turned on. I jumped on the page and tested it out and got an error on submit. FUCK. I literally started to perspiration INSTANTLY.

Jumped into my form and quickly found the bug, can't recall what it was but something small and stupid, then pushed it live without telling a soul. Tested, worked, re-tested, worked. Ran some quick numbers to get a ballpark estimate on the damage I caused... several thousand.

Stood up and walked over to the two IT guys, mentioned I borked things and that I had fixed it... what should I do? I can still see the look on their faces. Shock, then smiles. Walked back to my desk and about 10 minutes later my two bosses show up (I worked for both dev & marketing managers).

They said thanks for catching the problem, not to worry. I did good for finding it myself, fixing it, and pushing it live. I was still sweating and shaking. They walk off and later that day marketing manager informs me MSN will refund us for the 45 minutes of clicks.

It took about a month before I felt competent enough to touch our forms again.

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byoung2 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I worked at ClearChannel back in 2010, we rebuilt Rush Limbaugh's site. When migrating over the billing system, I realized a flaw that granted at least 20,000 people free access to the audio archive ($7.95/month). The billing provider processed the subscriptions, but their system would only sync with our authentication database once a week with a diff of accounts added or removed in the past 7 days. You got the first 7 days free for this reason. If this process failed (e.g. due to a connectivity issue, timeout, or SQL error), all accounts after the error would not be updated. Anyone with a free trial or people who cancelled during a week with an error would get a permanent free trial. I rewrote the code to handle errors and retry on failure so that errors wouldn't happen in the future, but my downfall was running a script that updated all accounts to the correct status. Imagine angry Rush Limbaugh fans used to getting something for free now getting cut off (even though it shouldn't have been free). Management quickly made the decision to give them free access anyway, so I rolled back the change.
30
hcarvalhoalves 2 days ago 2 replies      
Happened to a colleague: it was the end of the day, and we were packing up to leave. He used Ubuntu on his notebook, so he typed "shutdown -h now" on his shell prior to closing the lid. Seconds later he's groaning, having noticed it was a SSH session to the production server...

It wouldn't be a big deal, wasn't for the fact it was an EC2 instance, and back then halting the instance was equivalent to deleting it permanently. We then spent the night at the office recovering and testing the server. I think we left 3:00 AM that day.

Lesson #1: it's never a good idea to "shutdown -h now" on a shell. any shell.

Lesson #2: have the process to spin up a new production server fully automated and tested

31
Ecio78 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't decide between these two:

1) after few months working in a bank, I was doing some simple admin check task via RDP to a Windows 2003 (no, maybe 2000) server, when I right-clicked the network icon and instead of clicking the properties options i clicked "disable". Just the time to say "oh sh!t" and to realise that it was the production Trading On Line machine, on a remote datacenter, during market hours, and to discover couple of minutes later that the KVM over IP was crappy and was not working. We had to call the datacenter operators to go back to the local KVM and re-enable the NIC.

Lesson 1: Better move slowly when you're on a production machine (and also have plan B and C to reach your machines is a good idea)

2) same bank, one or two years later, I was doing some testing on a new mail system that integrated also VoIP (SIP). Mail/SIP System running in a VM (I think Vmware Server at that time) in the same remote datacenter as above. So, I enable the SIP feature and after few seconds, bum, we lose the whole (production) datacenter and the connection between the local server room and the datacenter.Panic, I look at my colleague, WTF in stereo, everything come back for few sec, bum again down. Long story short, the issue was that that version of Netscreen firewall ScreenOS had a buggy ALG implementation for SIP that lead to core dumps.The fun thing is that we had two of those in HA, same version of course, so they were bouncing between core dumping, rebooting slave becoming master and then core dumping again etc..We had to ask a datacenter operator to reach the rack, disconnect one of the cables from the firewall (the one that was managing the traffic of the DMZ where that machine was hosted) and then reach the virtual host to kill the machine.

Lesson 2: you can segment your network but if everything is connected through the same device(s), sh!t can still hit the fan...

32
frogpelt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Non-tech-related:

I was doing HVAC work while I was in college and we were removing an old air handler from underneath a house. Just inside the crawl space, under the access door was a water pipe. My boss told me to make sure I held it down while we slid the air handler out through the hole. I lost my grip on the pipe and the air handle snapped it in two, at which point gallons of water began to gush into the crawl space.

I ran for all I was worth to the road, which in this case was about 600 feet away, to turn off the water at the water meter. I ran up and down the road in front of the house and never found the water meter. So I ran back to the house and inside and told the homeowner who promptly informed me that they used well water. She called her husband and he told us where to turn off the well pump.

It wasn't really that bad in the grand scheme of things but letting the homeowner's water gush under the house for about 15 minutes does not bode well when you are supposed to be there to fix problems not create them.

33
Tloewald 2 days ago 0 replies      
In terms of feeling bad, I once had a client who wanted to demo a multimedia project that we currently had in alpha on his Windows 3.11 laptop, but the sound drivers weren't working properly (everything else was fine). He had about an hour before he had to leave for the airport. I started monkeying with the four horsemen of the apocalypse (Windows.ini, System.ini, Autoexec.bat, and Config.sys) as I had many times before but I screwed up saving backups, bricked his machine, and couldn't fix it). In the end it was more embarrassing than anything else, but it was a facepalm stupid mistake.

The lesson from this is pretty obvious. Backup. Make sure your backup is good and safe.

My worst work-related mistake was getting into business with a friend. It cost me the friendship, a very valuable client, and a good portion of my retirement savings. I'm not sure how related it was, but a few years later my (former) friend killed himself.

And the lesson here is not to go into business with friends. Or at least to set up the business as if you're not friends.

34
itwasme 2 days ago 1 reply      
I once worked for a company that schedules advertising before films. This wasn't in the US and the company had a monopoly over all of the ads shown across the country. It was my first programming job and done during university holidays, so I was there for a couple of months and then back to university. Toward the end of the following year I get a phone call: something was wrong with the system, it was allowing agents to overbook advertising slots. I diagnosed the problem over the phone and they put a fix in but management decided it was too late for the company to go back and cancel all of the ads that were already booked. This was not surprising as it was the most money they'd ever made. Conveniently, the parent company owned the cinemas so they did a deal where they just showed all of the ads that were booked.

Because of me, one December, everyone in the country who went to the cinema got to watch anywhere between 30 and 45 minutes of ads before the main presentation started.

Lesson learned: write more tests, monitor everything.

35
PakG1 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first real summer job was working for a computer store that also did tech support contracts with local businesses. I'll preface that the boss should never have given me the responsibilities he gave me, or should have gotten me to job shadow more experienced people, but the shop was tiny and I was actually the only full-time employee.

We had the tech support contract for the city's Mexican consulate. One of the things we were doing was patching and updating their server and installing a tape drive backup system. Server was NT4.

I'm in there doing work after 5pm, and wrongly assume that everyone's gone home for the day. Install some patches and the server asks me if I want to reboot. I say yes. Few moments later, a guy sticks his head into the server room and asks if I'd shut down or rebooted the server. Oh, whoops, someone's here. Yeah, I just installed some patches. Oh, OK, see ya.

Next day? Turns out he had been doing some work in their database where they track and manage visa applications. That database got corrupted when I did the server reboot while he was doing his work. That night, the backup process then overwrote the previous good copy database on the tape drive with the newly corrupted database. We had not yet started rolling over multiple tapes to prevent backups of corrupt data, though we were going to purchase some tapes for that purpose shortly.

Summer was ending, and I quit a week later to return to school. Horrible timing in terms of quitting! No idea what happened after that, as I was spending the summer in a city that was not my own. I do know that the original database developer contractor was on vacation at the time and so they couldn't reach him. I think the consulate was SOL. I regret rebooting that server without checking if anyone was working to this day.

Lesson learned? Don't assume anything when doing anything. Carried that lesson with me for the rest of my life. And find a boss who knows how to guide you if you don't have much experience in your area. I guess for founding startups, at least get an advisor.

edit: spelling

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ufmace 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I first started my professional career, I was a field engineer in the oilfield, working on drilling rigs around Texas. There was some amount of computer stuff, but a lot of hardware work too. One of the things that we had to do was install a pressure sensor on the drilling mud line, which is normally pressurized to around 2k psi with water or oil-based drilling fluid.

This sounds like a simple task, but it gets complicated by the variety of pipe fittings and adapters available. Our sensors are a particular thread type, and we have to find a free slot to install them, and come up with any pipe connection converters necessary to install them there. Another tricky part is that the rig workers who actually know about all of this stuff are often not particularly eager to help out.

So on one particular job, the only free slot to install the sensor is a male pipe fitting, capped with some sort of female plug. Our sensors are male in that pipe size, so I need a female-female adapter to install it. I go looking around and come up with one, not paying too much attention to it. I install it, and everything seems to go more or less smoothly. We go on drilling with this installed for like a week or two.

One day, the rig manager comes to find me and ask me about this adapter that I used. He tells me that it is meant for drinking water lines, and is only rated to 200 psi. And had been installed on a 2000 psi line for weeks. My jaw dropped in shock - I have no idea how that adapter didn't fail, and it's entirely possible it could have hurt or killed somebody if it did.

They sent one of their guys to find an adapter that was actually rated for the pressure and replace it, and never said much else of it. No telling how much trouble I could have been in there if anything else had happened. It did make me a lot more safety-conscious.

37
lancepantz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I worked for a very hot start-up in San Francisco some years ago. I took an ambien after working for about 40 hours on aderrall, blacked out, then transferred $165 million dollars with of virtual goods to my father's best friend. I didn't remember doing it, but as an investigation was going on the next day, different details slowly came back to me.

I immediately admitted it and showed everyone the bash history, I was suspended, then fired.

38
vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Still feeling my way around in the new job, I was fiddling with a backup script, got distracted, turned back, and dropped the production database. Two minutes later "Hey, is the website down"? Then I look at the prompt...

I run around like a headless chicken trying to find who knows the right backup to use and so forth, and I can't figure out why everyone is so calm and collected about it. Production was down/shit, I hope I still have a job. Turns out we had no active clients at the time - no-one was accessing the site. We'd finished one run and were in 'dead time' before the next. My next project involved implementing coloured prompts and I no longer leave production ssh sessions lying around when I've finished with them.

My CTO still has me listed as "database [vacri]" in his phone...

39
JasonFruit 2 days ago 0 replies      
I sent an email to three thousand insurance agents informing them of the cancellation of policy number 123456789, made out to Someone Funky. I learned to appreciate Microsoft Outlook's message-recall function, which got most of them. I also learned that just because you're using the test database instance doesn't mean nothing can go wrong.
40
quackerhacker 2 days ago 1 reply      
I messed up epically on an interview. It was a 3 part interview for a JS/RoR coder.

1. I passed the resume and chat portion

2. I passed the telephone questionnaire and got along great with the interviewer

3. (Fail) I scheduled my interview on a Friday at 4:30pm and there is a 30 min travel time. I left 1hr early...still it was Memorial Day weekend, so I thought the streets would be quicker than the freeway since it was at a stand still. I was so stressed that I literally had an anxiety attack and couldn't even find the address. Never happened to me before, so I'll never forget it.

41
joncooper 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a saying in the rates market: "don't counter-trend trade the front end".

I lost $7 million dollars in minutes by being short $700 million of US 2yr notes when the levees failed during the hurricane Katrina disaster.

Although my bet that the 2y point would be under pressure in the intermediate term turned out to be true, I got carried out by fund flows as folks spazzed out to cut risk by rolling into short duration high quality paper.

To his credit, my boss, who sat across from me, said only: "wouldn't want to be short 2 years." He let me make the call, which I did, and I covered my position. (Ouch.)

My book was up considerably on the year already, but this was a huge hit, and nearing year-end. I dialed back the risk of my portfolio and traded mostly convex instruments (options) for the remainder of the year.

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saganus 1 day ago 0 replies      
So the post is not on the front page anymore but I guess confessing feels good juging by all the people that contributed.

My screwup was at my first "real" job, fresh out of college. I was asked to free up some space from the production server at $BIGCOMPANY, because it was already at 99% capacity (it managed to get to a 100% for a few minutes before I "solved" the problem). The thing is, at this $BIGCOMPANY, for some reason the budget for disk drives was non-existant, and this meant that whenever the disk usage was at or below 95%, we were happy because we still had free space... figure that.

So here I come, armed with the most dangerous tool a newbie can wield... root access and the drive to impress your boss. I said to myself, "I've used root at my home machines plenty of times and nothing bad happened because I've been using Linux for several years by now and I know I need to be careful... so I don't get why everyone says you should never log in as root". Oh boy, how I learned the hard way.

To continue my story, it turns out that the easiest/fastest way to free up some space was to delete the log files for pretty much everything(except the last 5 or 10 logs... because we were "careful", in case we ever needed them). We usually deleted things under certain directories known to hold "useless" logs. So here comes Mr. Newbie-guy-with-the-need-to-shine, and I thought to myself, "why keep deleting the logs from the same directories over and over if that only buys us about 1 or 2 percentage points, instead of cleaning as much logs as possible for the system and freeing up a lot more space?"

After thinking about it for like 10 seconds the most genius thought of my career materializes: do an rm -rf *.log on the topmost level directory of where we used to store everything (webserver, webservices, databases, etc). I happily pressed enter, and a couple of minutes later, hooray! I got the disk usage down to a whooping 90%! I was a hero! that meant we had bought enough time to keep on working without worrying about the disk space for at least another one or one and a half months. This was a clear victory and an testament to my superb sysadmin skills.

Fast forward 4 hours, and the phone starts ringing like crazy as every other employee (non-IT ones) started wondering and then calling us to try to figure out why was their data gone. They did not understand how come they have been working A-OK so far, and then suddenly ALL data from sales team, admin team, the bosses, etc was gone. And then a few minutes later... the whole intranet came down crashing and burning.... then a full stop... nothing was working.

So we went to the logs directory... oops... no logs there!. Ok, let's try to ping the DB. Dead. It's not running and it's responding with an unknown error. When I tried to connect to it would do so, but then some cryptic ORA-xxxxx error came up. No problem says I, I'll just google it and fix it.

Not so fast young grasshopper. That error meant that the DB was out of sync with its own files used for, ironically, data corruption prevention and rollback (or something like that... to this day I still don't fully undersand what those files were used for).

As far as I can remember those logs where a sort of pre-commit place, where all changes would be stored on those files and every X amount of hours the changes would get commited to the actual DB tables. It was some functionality that supposedly was used to correct corrupted entries and to recover (figure that.. ) and rollback data when lost, or something like that. And unfortunately bringing the system back in-sync was way out my league (did I failed to mention that I was by no means a DBA?).

However a struck of good luck came down on me, as the company had a support contract with Oracle and it was the Platinum-covered-diamonds level or something. That meant that after creating a support ticket at like 1AM, I got a call from one of the support guys like less than 20-30 minutes later. This guy seems calm and tells me I should not panick, it was just as easy as doing $crypticOracleStep1, $crypticOracleStep2, $crypticOracleStep3 and voil! all would be good again. Except for the fact that I had NO IDEA what those steps actually required me to do. Almost in tears I ask the rep to pretty please SPELL every command I needed to execute, letter by letter. I did not want to screw up again.

So there I was, at close to 2AM, with my boss breathing down my neck asking me what every frigging letter of the command I was typing did (which I had no idea...), all the while trying to keep up with this supper friendly guy that was patient enough to spell everything two times.

After a couple of commands later, behold! the DB could be brought up again! oh boy, did I felt relieved. I was jumping up and down because I had fixed my stupid mistake... or so I thought. After almost causing the support guy to go deaf due to my loud cheering, he says "however...". wait... what? there's a "however"?!?. Then he continues saying, "since you deleted the pre-commit file of the last day, the DB is back in-sync... up to yesterday". My jaw dropped to the floor. That meant that the ENTIRE previous day was utterly lost.... sales data, contracts, customer's info, etc.

I thanked the guy for his help, hanged up the phone and turned to my boss telling him that I was ready to turn in my resignation letter just after helping capture what availabe data was actually there (in papers, by calling customers and asking them again, etc).

My boss then turns to me and says, don't worry. We've all been through this at least once in our careers. Even I made a mistake that is terribly similar... however when I brought down the database, it took us one full week instead of one day... and rest assured that as I learned my lesson, you did as well. And I need guys like you, that have the initiative to solve things... and the ability to learn from mistakes. So don't worry, you are not losing your job. However you can't go home until you help everyone get as much data back as you can.

Aw shoot... well.. I guess it could've been worse. So after having lunch with my boss and the other teammates at like 6-7 AM, I went to the sales dept and started asking around how could I help them get their data back.

Those were the longest 38 continous work hours I've ever had to resist. I did not go back home until more than a full day and a half later. I was tired as hell to say the least... but to this day I think it was a blessing that I got to learn such a hard lesson but being backed up by a boss that was very cool and progressive about it.

Lessons learned:

0) Never ever ever ever use root, especially for deleting files and ESPECIALLY with the -f flag.

1) Do not assume that something you know will hold. Confirm it in the particular system you are going to be working with. (i.e. do not assume .log files are always log files because in your laptop that holds true)

2) Be ready and willing to assume the consequences of your actions. Most of the time if you assume responsability for your mistakes, people will forgive you and even give you a piece of advice.

3) Never ever ever ever use root.

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BjoernKW 2 days ago 0 replies      
Around 2000 my team was responsible for installing and maintaining a larger amount of servers in 19" racks in a data centre.

Most servers had those hot swap drive bays for convenient access from the front while the server was running. You only had to make sure no write operation occurred while you pulled the drive out of the bay.

So, I had to exchange a backup disk on a database server running quite a few rather large forums. The server had two disk bays: One for the live hard disk and one for the backup disk. I was absolutely sure at that time which one was the backup disk so I didn't bother to shut down the database server and incur a minimal downtime. Of course, I was wrong and blithely yanked the live disk from the drive bay.

I spent the rest of the night and most of the following day running various MySQL database table repair magic. It worked out surprisingly well but having to admit this error to our forum users was embarrassing, nonetheless.

Lesson: Appropriately label your servers and devices.

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tilt_error 2 days ago 2 replies      

  # cd /etc  # emacs inetd.conf  # ls  ...  ... inetd.conf  ... inetd.conf~  ...  # rm * ~  # ls  # ls

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killertypo 2 days ago 0 replies      
During a server migration for our web based file sharing system our lead engineer (at the time) forgot to ensure that all cron jobs (for cleaning up files and sending out automated emails) had been turned back on.

Queue me 7mos later reviewing the system. Realizing that critical jobs were no longer running and that our users were all essentially receiving 100% free hosting for however much storage they wanted. SOOOO i turned the jobs back on.

The lead engineer before me left no documentation of what the jobs did other than that they should be run. In my stupor i did not review the code. The jobs sent out a blast of emails warning that files would be deleted if not cleaned up or maintained. Then seconds later deleted said files...

We nuked around 70GB worth of files before we realized what happened. WELL GET THE TAPES! Turns out our lead engineer ALSO forgot to follow up w/ system engineers and the backups were pointed at the wrong storage.

No jobs lost, thankfully the manager at the time was a word smith of the highest degree and can play political baseball like a GOD.

46
grecy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I added some products to a system on a Thursday, not remembering we added some new columns to the product definitions, and the columns were nullable.

I was off Friday, so I come in Monday morning to see that ~20k customers have been getting free stuff since Thursday lunchtime.

Lost something like $200k because of two nullable columns :(

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rmc 2 days ago 0 replies      
When trying to put our webserver-cum-database-server onto nagios, I tried to apt-get install nagios-plugins. For some reason when installing that, apt wanted to remove mysql-server. I just pressed "Y" without thinking (because, hey, it's like 99.9999999% the right thing to do). So apt dutifuly stopped and uninstalled MySQL in the middle of the day.

Within about 2 minutes CTO strolls in asking about the flood of exception emails due to each request being unable to connect to the database.

Thankfully, I was able to apt-get install mysql-server, all the data was still there, and things were back to normal within 5 minutes.

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edw519 2 days ago 2 replies      
Boss: We have thousands of bad orders that must be fixed now!

Me: No we don't. We have 121 bad orders.

Boss: There are thousands of them!

Me: No there aren't. There are exactly 121 of them. I'm sure.

Boss: I'm not going to argue with you!

Me: Good. Because you'd lose.

I fixed 121 orders that night. The next day my login & password wouldn't work.

49
riquito 2 days ago 0 replies      
Last day of work before moving to the new job: I do some cleanup and rm -fr my home directory. Seconds passed. Minutes passed. I start to think about how can it take so long.

I list the content of my home directory trying to understand which folder was so big. Then I see it. A folder usually empty. Empty because I use it as generic mount point. A mount point that the day before was attached via sshfs to the production server...

I had a strange feeling, like if I was seeing myself from behind, something crumbling inside me. And at that moment someone start to ask "what's happened to <hostname>"?

I take my courage and I say "I know it"...

That was really hard. The worst day at work in years, and during the last day too. Luckily we had a good enough backup strategy and the damage was mostly solved in a couple hours.

There I realized how much of an idiot I was to have mounted the production server on my home and I grow a little.

50
joshbaptiste 2 days ago 1 reply      
In 2001 my first IT tech job as help desk analyst I heard beeping in the server room on one of the Solaris/Oracle machines and pressed the power off/power on button on the chassis. DBA came running in and I promptly left saying "oh I think it rebooted itself". The company went bankrupt shortly after so no huge lashing came my way but all my more experienced friends where like "wtf never do that again!"
51
earino 2 days ago 3 replies      
easy:

me: "unix definitely won't just let me cat /dev/urandom > /dev/sda"

other: "sure it will"

me: <presses enter>

what I learned? unix will absolutely let you hang yourself. 1998, production server for a fortune 5 company.

52
Debugreality 2 days ago 0 replies      
This one is really embarrassing. I started a new job for a small company as the only developer with the aim of creating a new site for them. So they gave me full access to their very small technology stack that included one Mssql server.

So one of the first things I wanted to do was setup a development db for which I exported the structure from their prod db. I then proceeded to change the name of the create database statement at the top to the new dev db I wanted and ran the script.

Unfortunately the prod db name was still pretended to every drop and create table command in the script so I had just replaced their whole prod db with an empty one.

Owning up to that was one of the most embarrassing moments of my career. It was such a rookie mistake I just wanted to die. Luckily they had daily backups so I only cost their 4 man business about half a day of work but... it was enough for me to be a much more careful developer from that day forward!

53
reppic 2 days ago 1 reply      
One time I tried to change a column name in a production database. I learned that when you change a column name, mysql doesn't just change a string somewhere, it creates a new table and copies all the values from the old table into the new one and when that table has millions of rows in it, it really slows down your production server.
54
rosser 2 days ago 0 replies      
An UPDATE statement without a WHERE clause.

In production.

I'm the DBA.

55
bengarvey 2 days ago 1 reply      
I poured gasoline into the tractor's radiator instead of the gas tank.

Thankfully, someone stopped me before I turned it on.

56
alok-g 2 days ago 1 reply      
The following was not actually me, but worth sharing.

They had ASIC design runs for research purposes once every three months, yielding your design on Silicon as ten 6" wafers. It gives enough parts for testing the first revision of your design. The person was carrying the wafers to a vendor for cutting into separate ICs and packaging or something. Gets to the parking lot, and where are the keys. Puts the wafers on the top of the car, finds the keys in his pockets and starts driving. Boom, the box of wafers was still on the top of the car, now on the ground. All broken. Some $100K in wafers + three months lost + bad face before the customer + ... Lesson: Don't put stuff on the top of the car!

57
onyxraven 2 days ago 0 replies      
My first deploy at a once-top-10 photo hosting site as a developer was a change to how the DNS silo resolution worked.

Users were mapped into specific silos to separate out each level of the stack from CDN to storage to db. There was a bit of code executed at the beginning of each request that figured out if a request was on the proper subdomain for the resource being requested.

This was a feature that was always tricky to test, and when I joined the codebase didn't have any real automated tests at all. We were on a deploy schedule of every morning, first thing (or earlier, sometimes as early as 4am local time).

By the time the code made it out to all the servers, the ops team was calling frantically saying the power load on the strips and at the distribution point was near critical.

What happened: the code caused every user (well upwards of millions daily) to enter an infinite redirect, very quickly DoSing our servers. It took a second to realize where the problem was, but I quickly committed the fix and the issue was resolved.

Why it happened: a pretty simple string comparison was being done improperly, the fix was at most 1 line (I can't remember the exact fix). There was no automation, and testing it was difficult enough that we just didn't test it.

What I learned: If its complicated enough to not want to test using a browser, at least always build automation to test your assumptions. Or have some damn tests period. We built a procedure for testing those silos with a real browser as well.

I got a good bit of teasing for nearly burning down the datacenter on my very first code deploy, but ever since, its been assumed that if its your first deploy, you're going to break something. Its a rite of passage.

58
aryastark 2 days ago 0 replies      
This wasn't me, but a coworker.

We were rearranging the layout of the office. Coworker was moving in to his new space, setting up his desk. He boots up his computer, wonders why he has no network. Looks around, discovers the ethernet cable isn't plugged in. Plugs it in to the wall, still has no network.

A few minutes pass, and the entire office is running around wondering why the hell the network isn't working. Maybe an hour passes, the network guys are losing their shit trying to hunt down what is wrong. I'll give you a hint: the router was lit up like a Christmas tree, and the aforementioned coworker had both ends of his ethernet cable plugged in--but neither end was attached to his computer.

59
famousactress 2 days ago 0 replies      
Accidental sudo chown www-data:www-data /. on the production server.

Thoughtful pause "Why is this taking so long!?"

"OH FUCK"

60
jamesbrownuhh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Demonstrated SQL injection to a colleague on the live website. Bringing a sample URL up into the address bar, I explain, "You see, that ASP script takes the value of ?urlparameter and updates the record - but what if I modify urlparameter so that instead of 1, it is... (types) semicolon dash dash DROP TABLE usermaster (presses enter)"

"Shit. Well, as I have just demonstrated, it becomes possible to wipe out a million user login credentials at the touch of a button. So now we'll be needing to restore that from the backups which we don't have." Luckily, and ONLY BY CHANCE, I happened to have a copy of that table exported for other reasons from a few days back.

Lessons learned: Never press enter.

61
schmichael 2 days ago 1 reply      
I unknowingly reset serial number counters in a bicycle part's database, so now there are a few hundred people in the world with high end bike hubs that overlap each other.

Lesson: Keep the code that touches production databases as simple as possible so it's easy to verify exactly what it does. I was using a framework's database tooling incorrectly because I never dreamed what I used would touch the databases's counters.

(Not my worst mistake in terms of people affected, but it's the only mistake that was literally laser etched in metal forever.)

62
chrislomax 2 days ago 0 replies      
Simple one really and probably most common. Realise a data integrity issue on DB, try to load from backups and notice that the backups have the same integrity issue. Find a backup from about 2 weeks previous where data is intact and piece together the good pages from the daily backups and the 2 weeks old one.

All in, took 4 days and a new server where the hard drive had stored bad pages on the DB. We lost 2 days of orders (they were processed through to the internal systems though so not really lost)

Lesson learned, validate backups and check page integrity when backing up

63
camperman 2 days ago 1 reply      
dd if=outfile of=infile

Raw unadulterated fear followed by panic.

A full reinstall.

Triple checked dd params ever since.

64
jmspring 2 days ago 0 replies      
Early on in the implementation of one of the PKCS "standards" while at a browser company many years ago, due to an improper interpretation of a spec that was still in flux. There wasn't enough testing and "release bits" went live.

I had to quickly get a patch in for the improper code and had to maintain that buggy implementation. In addition, the "standard" itself got a rather scathing write up from Peter Gutmann, which is completely valid:

https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/pfx.html

This is a critique on the "standard" itself, the process was just as ugly.

65
SDGT 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ticked a debug output flag on prod for a specific IP (Proprietary CMS, couldn't replicate the issue on test even with a full codebase and db sync), brought down the entire server for an hour.

edit: This was after I asked for permission to do this.

Lesson learned: Don't EVER use Coldfusion as a web server.

66
maxaf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spoiled business users by saying "yes" way too often.
67
peterwwillis 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Let go" a few hours into the first day on the job.

A friend had referred me for a sysadmin job opening at a web hosting company in Florida. After a brief interview I got the job for a pretty decent salary and was told when I could start. What they hadn't told me was that my schedule would be tuesday to saturday. I had informed the hiring manager of my preferred schedule (monday-friday), but I guess nobody mentioned it to the manager of the group.

When I got there they told me my schedule and I immediately told them that's not what I signed up for. So they asked me to sit for a while so they could figure out what to do next. I took a tour of the NOC, and saw one of their tier 1 technicians was chatting and watching a movie. I walked up and asked him "Heyya! Workin' hard, or hardly workin'?" and smiled. He did not smile back. So I went back to the desk I was assigned to, which was already logged in - with the credentials of the previous admin.

While I waited I decided to see what other trouble I could get into. Sure enough, all the old passwords were saved in the old admin's browser with no master password. I couldn't copy-paste the list, so I took a screenshot and began to find a way to print the list out to post on my cube wall. Before I could finish I was asked to leave for the day while they figured out my schedule changes. I should have gotten the hint when they asked me to leave the badge there.

Later I got a voicemail telling me they'd pay me for the time I spent there (about three hours) and they'd no longer require my services. Luckily I got hired soon after to a different company, which was also hiring away all the talented people from the place that had let me go, and the web hosting company eventually went under. So it turned out to be a good thing in the end.

68
glazskunrukitis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Two screw ups come to mind.

1. First day at a job. I need to get familiar with a legacy system and get a SQL dump from it to create a local copy of the database. After some SSHing and MySQLing, I confuse my two split terminal panes and end up importing my local dump to production server. Of course database names and users were the same so I end up dropping the database. No biggie. Backups were available from previous day.

2. Similar story to the first one. I got a new shiny Zend Studio IDE. Want to set up sync with remote server (just a static company website with no version control). Fill all the settings, press the sync button - and what happens? Zend Studio somehow figured that I want to force sync my local folder, which is empty, to the remote site, and it just deletes everything on the web root and uploads my empty folder. Wat. Should have read the settings twice.

69
embarrassed99 2 days ago 0 replies      
Leading a group working in an underground bunker on a live military radar site in the Australian outback, where it rains every few years. We had to open a rooftop cable duct and when the job ran overtime we closed it up with some rags that were to hand. That night it rained.

The next morning, the bunker was full to ground level and the automatic power cutoff had failed, as the float switch was directly under the cable duct and the water pressure of the deluge and kept the float depressed. By the time the water stopped flowing the float was under a foot of mud. The powered circuits were undergoing electrolysis and eating themselves away, made worse the the site managers refusing to drain the bunker or turn off the power until a week long arse-covering evaluation had been completed.

A few hundred million dollars of front line radar was out of action for several months.

Being a naive newly graduated engineer, I wrote a completely honest report and analysis. My boss said it was one of the best reports he had read and there was no impact on my career (if anything it got me noticed by the upper echelons of the organisation).

Lessons:

1. If you tell the truth you will be respected, even if it is incriminating.

2. If there is a way for something to go wrong it can do so (slight variation of Murphy's Law). Even if it's judged to be uneconomic to take preventative action, be aware of the possibilities, so you can make a conscious decision about the risk.

70
kisamoto 2 days ago 0 replies      
Introducing a master/minion update system to work I ran a batch update to take a certain percentage out of the cluster.

Unfortunately I got my selection criteria wrong and pulled out all of one cluster and half of a second, halting a few thousand operations.

Luckily the monitoring system was very quick to alert me of this and using the same (wrong) selection criteria it was a fairly simple process to stop the update and put them all back in the cluster.

Takeaways?The age old cliche of "With great power comes great responsibility". Oh and have good monitoring!

71
TheCapn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I may, and/or may not have caused a production site's PLC to go into STOP mode during daily operations while making network updates remotely.

Possible outcomes of unplanned system haults include plugged machinery that would need to be manually cleared, mixed products which would become immediate net losses for the company and damaged motors.

Thankfully no product was being run at the time. I have also implemented changes across the board to our client sites that prevent this type of shit from ever happening again. You know when you look at a system and go "this is going to bite us in the ass eventually?" This was one of those systems, they just needed a new hire to give them the push.

72
drdeadringer 2 days ago 1 reply      
I dropped two units of equipment, ~$1.5Mil a piece. Each unit was dropped in separate incidents. No damage at all, but management didn't care. I blamed myself despite mitigating factors such as impossible schedules, vicious multi-tasking "to compensate", and less-than-ideal support equipment. At the time, I didn't handle it very well but I ended up living through it -- first job//assignment ever in the worst environment I've ever had before or since with the worst coworker I've ever had before or since, and I mess up in the millions of dollars. "Lasting Impressions", tonight at 8/7 Central.

I left that job about 3 years later when the metaphorical train stopped at a nicer place. My name is still known in certain circles for this ["Oh bah, how could I forget?" one former manager recently stated], but I don't plan to go back there at this time.

I learned that life's too short for assholes and working in an environment you don't like. If you don't screw up, your soul will die and you'll become that former coworker you hated so much and who hated you in return. It's worth picking and choosing where you work.

73
dougbarrett 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work at Fry's Electronics right before iPhones were released and MP3 players were seeing better days. Creative had come out with a nice, $300 MP3 player and I was in charge of creating the sign tags in my department because I was the only one who could get it done the quickest. I would do hundreds a day, and sometimes there would be slight slip ups, in this case I forgot a 0, so there was a lucky customer that got a $300 MP3 player for $30 that day.

Luckily, there was no slap on the wrist or anything, the store manager knew that after doing thousands of these cards this was only one of a few slip ups I've made so they just brushed it off and moved on.

74
ozten 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many years ago I was being shown the server room for the first time. They asked me to unplug a certain box. I unplugged everything on one power strip. Panicking at the drop of ambient noise in the room, I quickly plugged it back in, but...

I have no idea why they didn't use UPS, but it took many critical servers offline and caused a few hours of headaches for everyone.

Come to think of it, that was the last time I was allowed in the server room.

Lessons learned - don't let developers in the server room.

75
highace 2 days ago 0 replies      
Changed the default RDP port on a remote Windows box, but didn't open the port on the firewall and couldn't get back in. Whoopsie.
76
taf2 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hacked our development machines using a rooted rpm, we only had access to the sudo rpm command so I decided to deploy our rails app using capistrano. to work around the sudo rpm only access I decided to add some install scripts to the rpm because these run as root. This allowed me to re-configure sshd making it possible to do a local capistrano deploy. I was smart about it by reverting the ssh changes back after the deploy completed - bash has a kind of ensure that allows you to roll things back like a transaction. The cool thing about the whole thing was that our ops team was on the ball and detected the changes to the sshd configuration even though I restored them. Mind you this was all in a staging development environment. The issue was just how immature it was of me to go this far to cap deploy instead of rpm install our rails app. For me, I looked at it then like a good learning experience in hacking rpms and in security. When you run sudo rpm -Uhv package.rpm - you better trust package.rpm it can execute any shell scripts it wants as root. Also, in the future I would walk away from a company like this much sooner. I enjoyed everyone there I worked with and would work with any of them again, but just would not want to work in such a stress filled environment for so long again.
77
arethuza 2 days ago 0 replies      
I led an engineering team that almost sent out a demo on tens of thousands of IBM CDs (this was 1998) that contained test data that included some that had been sourced from the worst possible alt.* newgroup.

As it turned out the only data that did go out was the single word "sheep" in the search index.

78
anilshanbhag 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is about https://dictanote.coI changed the login flow to use a different package. After pulling the latest changes in server, I restarted apache, opened the website to notice everything working smoothly and went to sleep.

9 hours later I wake up to check my inbox has 800+ emails. Django by default sends out email when an error occurs and a tiny mistake of not installing a package led to a lot of frustrated customers and well a huge pile of email in my inbox !

Moral of the story: Put that pip freeze > requirements.txt and pip install -r requirements.txt into your deployment flow.

79
kirkthejerk 2 days ago 0 replies      
I mixed up the meanings of "debit" and "credit", and wrote a credit card processing app that ended up PAYING $75K to our customers instead of charging them.

I'm still not sure how this bug slipped past the bank's tough app certification process, though.

80
a3n 2 days ago 0 replies      
Connected leads on an expensive piece of equipment, power live, being very careful with a pair of needle nose pliers. Because the power switch was way in the other room, tag out procedure took time and I was late.

Poof. Equipment electronics fried and useless.

I was chewed out. Could have been way worse.

Follow your safety procedures.

81
adw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've screwed up countless things, many much more expensive than this, but those stories aren't entirely mine to tell.

But this was one of my first. Years ago, making boot floppies for a physics lab where I was reinstalling all the servers:

I meant: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/fd0

I did: dd if=/dev/zero of=/def/hda

Oops. Bye, partition table.

(Always double-check everything you type as root.)

82
Davertron 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote an update script for a database table not realizing I had the key wrong (I'm kind of fuzzy on the details, but essentially I think it was a composite key but I was only using one of the columns in my WHERE clause...) and accidentally updated all customers addresses in our database to the addresses of one account.

Luckily we had backups from that morning so we only lost any address updates people would have done that day, but it made for some interesting customer service calls for awhile...

83
it200219 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had installed "osCommerce - Open source E-Commerce platform" just like Magento on one of our client who had > 500 transactions a day.

Some how in settings, we had flag "Store Credit Card Info" as "Plain Text" enabled. The Admin/Staff of that client could have use this information to make transactions (As in Backend it would show Full CC info into order details)

We didnt realized untill we worked on it again for some bug fixes and adding new features.

Lesson Learned :- When transitioning from DEV to PROD env, make sure to check all these critical flags and correctly set

Luckily, the client didnt had any idea about what was wrong in backend.

84
CurtMonash 2 days ago 0 replies      
Short version:

I was a stock analyst, for a firm with dozens of institutional salesmen and thousands of retail brokers. Some of my recommendations were very, very wrong.

The right thing to do is stand up, take the heat, and explain what you now know as best you can. I learned that watching a colleague who I thought was otherwise an unserious ass.

85
jonathanjaeger 2 days ago 0 replies      
I often turn on my performance-based ad campaigns before going into the office, as they are very predictable at the beginning (slow ramp up to spend). However this time the CTR was through the roof for something new and spent $15,000 by the time I could turn them off when I got to the office. It only brought in about $5,000 in revenue. Not the end of the world in the grand scheme of the monthly P&L, but still not something to replicate.
86
rokhayakebe 2 days ago 0 replies      
I built a content site, worked on it for two years and a few months. While updating the entire codebase to make the site faster and easier to work on for future updates, I accidentally deleted my database. 2 years gone, SEO traffic gone.

Takeaway: Sometimes, it takes a disaster to realize you were in another disaster anyways.

87
webstonne 2 days ago 0 replies      
I asked them for a job in the first place.
88
unfunco 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think everybody has done this at some point, and I'm sure I will not be the last person to have done it; leaving the WHERE clause from DELETE and UPDATE statements when writing SQL, I caused about 45 minutes downtime on our RDS instance the last time I did it, but since we had multi-AZ setup, no data was lost. I also frequently get mixed up between development and production environments.

Every database alias I have now has the MySQL --i-am-a-dummy flag appended. This has been a career-saver in my eyes.

89
jason_slack 2 days ago 2 replies      
I once revoked my bosses e-mail and VPN access because his password was 'password123'. It was my job to keep things safe after all and I had asked him nicely a few times.

EDIT: I proposed a new password of: @$tevezA$$ignedPwD@# (Steve's Assigned Password)

He said no to that one.

90
jjindev 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once, as a relative UNIX newbie, I "cleaned up" a Sun box, until I had moved things I needed for boot off the boot partition. I got it all back, manually mounting partitions, and etc. but I was certainly in a cold sweat for about 15 minutes.

Perhaps the only lesson is "slow down."

91
andy_thorburn 2 days ago 0 replies      
My worst screw up was causing a fire that destroyed one of the two prototype 3D printers my company had built.

I was working at a startup that was trying to create an affordable 3D printer. We had two working prototypes that were used for everything - demos, print testing, software testing, PR shoots, everything. Each prototype had cost hundreds of man hours to build and debug and quite a bit of cash as well.

Among other things I had done all the work on the thermal control system for the printer, it kept the print heads and build chamber at the correct temperature. One night while working on one of the printers I hit an edge case that my control code didn't handle well and the printer turned all of the heaters on full-bore. Half an hour all the plastics in the prototype had either melted or burned and I was left with a room full of smoke and a pile of scrap aluminum.

92
ClayFerguson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't do this, but was the one who figured out what happened. I guy wrote an installation utility for internal use to automate certain software setups. Part of the program had to clear out a certain directory, where you had to enter the name of the directory. Problem was, if you leave that field blank (the default), it converted into c:\ and people would run it, and it would wipe out their hard drive. After finding the problem, I told only the guy who did it, and no one else. I didn't have the heart to destroy his reputation by telling everyone what had done it. I SHOULD HAVE let the chips fall where they may, because I needed to be sure NO ONE ever ran that EXE "utility" again. They figured it out pretty quick, but nobody really knew the true problem but me and the guy who wrote the bug!
93
krishnasrinivas 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had done "rm" of a big log file to free up space on the customer's server but our process kept on filling the log file. I assumed that the disk has got enough free space and I got busy with something else. The space was never freed up as the file descriptor was kept open by the process. Ultimately the entire disk got filled up by the opened log file and their server came to a grinding halt. I think the customer stopped using our product after that because we never heard from them again.

learning from this experience: never do an "rm" on the log file, instead do "truncate -s 0" on the log file.

94
double051 2 days ago 0 replies      
We shipped an Android app that didn't like the way we had our HTTPS certs configured, so I had logic in there to accept the connection if the cert matched the one we had.

Two months later, the certs were expiring soon and we changed our configuration to something Android liked by default. The bad news was that our production Android app rejected the new configuration and only wanted to accept the current certs.

We ended up quickly shipping a hotfix that accepted the current and upcoming configuration a few days before the certs expired. There technically wasn't any 'downtime' as long as users updated the app, but this all took place right before 'holiday vacations', and the QA team had to test the fix while all the devs were away.

95
enthdegree 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was this close from setting the asset management server's hostname to `ASSMAN'
96
erobbins 2 days ago 0 replies      
my first day ever using unix. Left with a root shell. Trying things out, learning, made a few junk files somewhere or other. I was done with that and decided to delete them... "delete everything from that directory" I think: rm * /path/towhateveritwas

now on to my tasks.. had some files to print out. Where did they g...... FUCK.

I found a box of tapes and some sunos manuals. Spent the next several hours figuring out how tar and tape drives worked. Got everything back. Never told a soul.

1992. I've never done anything so careless since.

97
seanhandley 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wrote an article on the company blog and linked it on HN. Traffic brought down the server -_-
98
peg_leg 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was some time ago. I've learned a lot since. I mkfs'd the main disk on our email server. There was no redundancy. There was a new volume that needed to be formatted, my superior told me to do it. I protested that I didn't quite know how. He pushed it. So, I would up wiping it by mistake. since then I've made it a mission to make the entire stack at that place resilient and redundant. Now, it's virtualized, failover file and DB systems, NLB web servers, redundant storage, proper backups. It would take a hell of a lot more than what I did to make the same mistake again.
99
blueskin_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Meant to reboot my desktop...

  [root@importantServer]# reboot
"Hmm... This is taking a while..."

100
gbasin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Added some additional logging for an edge case, rolled it out to production and then went camping in the remote wilderness for a week. Two days in, the edge case got hit and the logging wasn't sufficiently tested. It logged as intended... and kept logging and logging... until out of disk space :(

Oh yea, I run a proprietary trading firm (still at the same spot), as a result of that bug we went down and lost about $250k over the next few hours. Testing is important in automated trading :)

101
michaelochurch 2 days ago 1 reply      
Tried to prevent a massive product failure.

It failed anyway, but I wasn't around when it did and there would have been no "I told you so" credit even if I were.

One of those "big company" lessons, but probably applicable to startups (which have an even higher ego density).

102
contingencies 2 days ago 1 reply      
First job, circa 2000, at an ISP that was run very clearly as a business and cutting corners. Not only was it critically understaffed, but management was more interested in laughing their way to the bank than management. They had me - with literally no routing protocol experience - manage a live route advertisement transition between two peering providers. Result: all customers offline, ~24 hours.

Reaction was standard: mostly to point out I did my best in unfamiliar territory and things should be sorted soon.

Take aways were: (1) less support calls than expected - users put up with things. (2) you learn when you fail (3) always have a backup

They kept me on at that job but I left pretty soon anyway as I got a 'real' (as in creative) job hacking perl-powered VPN modules for those Cobalt Raq/Qube devices, and building a Linux-related online retail venture for the same employer ... that worked great, but failed commercially.

103
deanly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not me, but a co-worker at an internship I held:

Said person entered the number of metric tons of concrete 3 magnitudes higher than it should have been. Imagine the cost difference between 1.0 * 10^6 and 1.0 * 10^9 metric tons... Our boss was not pleased, to say the least.

But imagine how easy it is to enter a few extra zeros in an excel data cell. Yikes!

104
_mikelcelestial 2 days ago 0 replies      
I accidentally deleted all data from live database, thought it was our beta database server. Good thing it is synchronized on our beta servers so was able to bring it back in no time. The moment I clicked that delete button I was like face palming myself all over. I learned from thereon to double check every time especially when working on between production and test servers.
105
alexmarcy 2 days ago 0 replies      
The worst one I ever heard about was while I was at a potato processing plant in Idaho where they make McDonald's hashbrowns.

After the potatoes are peeled and washed they are run through a pipe with blades to slice the potatoes into french fries. These blades are sharpened with lasers and are insanely sharp because they need to cut a lot of potatoes before being changed.

One day they were shutdown and it was time to change the blades. The lady doing the change placed the new blades on the table and bumped the table when she turned to grab a wrench from her toolbox. The new blades started to fall and she instinctively reached out to grab them to prevent them from falling to the floor.

She ended up not grabbing anything because the blades sliced her fingers clean off. They took her to the hospital and due to the blades extreme sharpness, the cut was so clean reattachment was a pretty easy procedure. I don't know if she had any long-term negative effects from the incident.

Safety is important, be aware of your surroundings and don't instinctively grab things you shouldn't be touching in the first place.

106
krak3n_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
The worst thing I have done is terminate a running production instance with no database backups.

Client, not happy.

107
slowmover 2 days ago 1 reply      
system("tar --delete-files -czf archive.tar.gz $datadir/");

What could possibly go wrong?

108
derwiki 2 days ago 0 replies      
I accidentally brought down yelp.fr by typoing the timezone field in the database.
109
teamcoltra_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I deleted the entire sales team's sales database (for Canada's second largest cable company) because I was making a minor change and was too lazy to back it up first.
110
mattwritescode 2 days ago 0 replies      
Deleted a database table and not the temporary table I was working on.
111
slipangel 2 days ago 1 reply      
sudo chown -R myname:myname /

Learned: Learning on the job as you hack away on problems is great, but recognize that it's one part enthusiasm and one part risk management. Also learned to never try anything on the command line that wouldn't want to see pulled from my bash history and stuck on the breakroom fridge. Also learned to cope with humiliation well.

112
findjashua 2 days ago 0 replies      
In my newbie days of event-driven programming, I forgot to add 'if (err) {...}' in an express application and crashed the server.
113
coherentpony 2 days ago 0 replies      
I shouted at someone.
114
pasbesoin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Believing the CFO when he made a point of telling me, "If you ever need anything, let me know."

Gratitude is demonstrated through actions, not vague verbal commitments.

115
typicat 2 days ago 1 reply      
mysql> drop database PRODUCTIONDo you really want to drop the 'PRODUCTION' database [y/N] y^HnDatabase "PRODUCTION" dropped
116
kentwistle 2 days ago 0 replies      
git push -f
117
smalu 2 days ago 1 reply      
chmod -R 0777 /* instead of chmod -R 0777
118
cdelsolar 2 days ago 0 replies      
sudo reboot
119
elf25 2 days ago 0 replies      
Working Christmas Day at the Liquor store (before cameras were everywhere) and drinking Tanqueray and Mt Dew ALL day. WHEEE!!
120
failsrails 2 days ago 1 reply      
This one time we used Ruby on Fails. That was the worst screw up ever!
8
Why does softonic.com rank so well with automated search content on Google?
7 points by mirabilweb  16 hours ago   1 comment top
1
MikeBiker 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Matt said:

"Typically, web search results dont add value to users, and since ourcore goal is to provide the best search results possible, we generallyexclude search results from our web search index."

(Said here: http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/search-results-in-search-resul...)

So i have a question to him: "Hi Matt, can you please explain me how it's possible that softonic ranks so well with automated search content on Google?"

9
How does your day look like?
2 points by ericthegoodking  7 hours ago   3 comments top
1
2810 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Mon - Fri (wake up, bath, go to work, code, lunch, code, go back home, eat & watch movies/drama/code, bath, code/read, sleep)

Sat - Sun (wake up, bath, breakfast, code, lunch, code, night out/code, sleep)

10
Ask HN: App Store developers -- do you prefer Paid or Free+IAP?
4 points by jmduke  13 hours ago   4 comments top 4
1
jankins 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One idea is it might not necessarily be either/or -- I'd suggest that you first release one version, whichever payment model your gut is pulling you toward. Wait until you have some data, maybe 4-6 months of sales history. If sales are gangbusters, maybe you'll feel that you've already got the right sales model. If you have a hunch that sales could be better and that a different sales model may be a major driver of additional revenue, you can release another version under the opposite payment model, and observe what happens to overall sales.

Personally I've preferred the Paid model. I have one app in the store, and the main driver of revenue increase has come from delivering updates which give more value to the user, and increasing the price accordingly (monthly revenue is up 8x on average since a major update & a price increase from 2.99 to 8.99). I haven't taken my own advice above yet, though I have built the IAP version -- I haven't released it yet because so far other experiments have been effective in increasing sales and less risky. I recall Marco Arment mentioned a major source of revenue increase for Instapaper was when he killed the free version. [1]

[1] http://www.marco.org/2011/04/28/removed-instapaper-free

2
tagabek 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're making an app for a niche audience (ie. Bird Watching Enthusiasts), make it paid. These are people that are very excited about their interest and would be happy to give you $2.99 for an app that supports it. I would even consider raising the price to $4.99+.

If your niche is something that helps people save or make money, charge a lot more.

3
danellis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't like the bait-and-switch games, but I recently downloaded Avia for free and paid for the Chromecast feature. That seemed like a good use of IAP.
4
jordsmi 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like it depends on the niche. IAP is the way to go for games or something with a broad audience that will deal with lots of pirating. If its more for a certain community who will gladly pay for it then I'd go with paid.
11
Ask HN: Help! My First Impressions Suck. Any advice?
5 points by idlenf  14 hours ago   4 comments top 4
1
BWStearns 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you are truly unable to naturally connect in terms of good first impressions you might want to approach this like an optimization problem. I recommend Nolan's book on elicitation (http://www.amazon.com/Confidential-Business-Secrets-Getting-...) as a good start, only read segments 1&2 unless you want to start a competitive intelligence firm. That said, as someone who used to have some degree of confidence issues with new contacts, go apply to 50 jobs you don't give a shit about in the slightest, that you wouldn't accept whether or not you got the job. If you live in a city with lots of consulates/embassies, try BSing your way into a party.

When it comes down to it the ability to bullshit won't necessarily help you secure a job, but it will remove a lot of the barriers previous to where that decision is made and get you closer to that meeting/phonecall/interview where that decision might be made. Bottom line, get used to making first impressions. I bet your first website sucked (probably far less than my first site sucked but it still probably sucked), but the way to get better at most things is to do it more.

2
abc_lisper 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do you think you suck? Are you curt, derogatory, pessimistic or judgmental?Do you mumble instead of talking whole sentences?

In face-to-face interaction, a smile, even a superficial one is a good thing.In general, showing curiosity, interest in what the other person is doing puts you in their good books. Joke if you can, it lightens the weather.

Listen before you talk. Be kind, even to an asshole. Don't judge someone too harshly, you are not in their shoes. And people can see that through if you do that.

I don't know what else to say unless you tell us more about yourself.

3
calcsam 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Something I learned at my consulting firm.

If you are asked a question and the answer has three parts, A, B, and C, and you know A and B but you don't know C, lead with what you know, before asking about details of which you are unsure.

"So how many HVAC systems are installed in Houston every year?"

"Well, Houston has about 5 million people, which makes about 2 million households, so if half of household live in a house there are about 1 million homes in Houston....

Now, as to how many HVAC systems are installed every year, how long does the typical HVAC system last?"

"About 25 years"

"Okay then, that makes 1 million divided by 25, or 40,000 HVAC systems every year..."

4
lauradhamilton 10 hours ago 0 replies      
You're not giving us much to go on.

Do you say "like" a lot? That can do it. Try to avoid saying "like."

12
Ask HN: where can I find list of YC 2014 accepts? (and previous batches)?
3 points by bobosha  12 hours ago   3 comments top
1
mwmeyer 12 hours ago 1 reply      
13
Ask HN: What happened to the python.org redesign?
3 points by c4urself  13 hours ago   1 comment top
1
LDN 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think the content is just not finished yet. You can view the preview at http://preview.python.org and there is still a lot missing. Do you know who is in charge of the redesign?
14
Startups do yo need marketing help?
3 points by htss2013  15 hours ago   discuss
15
Ask HN: Stackoverflow Careers what does "remote" mean?
3 points by throwaway1982  16 hours ago   4 comments top 3
1
kohanz 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Are you located in the same country as the jobs you are applying to? Sometimes "remote" means, within the same jurisdiction when it comes to employment laws, taxes, etc.
2
evolve2k 11 hours ago 0 replies      
http://remojobo.com is another good remote job option.
3
publicprivacy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Try weworkremotely.com, it is a dedicated remote job site
16
Difference between Software Engineers and Programmer/Coders.
4 points by parham  17 hours ago   15 comments top 8
1
kohanz 15 hours ago 1 reply      
In many jurisdictions, the term "engineer" refers to a licensed professional. So a software engineer would be someone with the requisite education and professional experience to obtain that license and be endorsed by their local regulatory body. It would also mean additional professional and ethical obligations. In Canada, for example, you can't have the term "Engineer" in your job title without being a licensed professional engineer. However, this rule is poorly enforced and mostly ignored.

Now mind you, most software engineers are NOT engineers in that sense, but I still think of it that way. Most software engineers are really software developers, but the engineer title is more appealing for whatever reasons (status?). Programmer/Coder is just slang for Developer, IMHO.

2
gesman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"Software engineer" is what you write in your resume.

"Coder" is what your future manager reads thinking about what salary he can give you.

:)

3
ankurdhama 5 hours ago 0 replies      
In this industry we are very good at "giving things name", most of the time giving new name to old things (aka creating hype, that's what we have been mostly doing for the last 60 years or so) and then doing long discussions around these names. I would suggest don't bother with this, it is completely a waste of time.
4
argonaut 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Their level of self-confidence.

Seriously. There is no difference. People who are selling themselves short and lack self-confidence will (to their detriment) refer to themselves as programmers / coders.

People who believe in themselves will refer to themselves as software engineers.

5
mrlyc 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I see a software engineer as someone who has a lot of knowledge about the hardware and can write embedded programs, device drivers, board support packages and communciations programs. A programmer writes user interfaces, web pages, databases and various business packages such as CRM, inventory and accounting tools.
6
chisto 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I think that the difference between those is, the Software Engineer (SE) is capable of create and design further than follow instructions or a specific language, and programmer (P) is like coding only maybe one or two languages but with a limit view of the application/services etc.

I think are similar but I see a SE with more potential to develop things, a P too, but I think his scope is limited to what he/she knows, no go further.

7
bliti 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I think that the term software engineer will replace the common term programmer and coder. Due to how complex everything is becoming. Plus people love their titles.
17
Ask HN: Why is ExtJS not getting any traction?
21 points by porker  1 day ago   23 comments top 12
1
x86_64Ubuntu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Let me preface this with the fact that I am a Flex dev who ventured into the HTML/JS/CSS stack during the "Flexodus". Cleary, ExtJS seemed to suit my fancy more than the other libraries in the JS world.

As far as why it doesn't have traction, I would attribute this to 2 things. The first being that the JS community isn't really into app development. What I mean by that, is when you look at JS, and you look at languages like Flex and Silverlight, you notice a massive disconnect in ideas. In the JS world, visual components are rarely if ever first class citizens, simple layout tasks are far more difficult than they need to be, and SPA paradigms are also second class citizens. After noticing this and poking around, you find out that the main JS community either doesn't want the solution to begin with, or they seem to be re-inventing the wheel.

The second strike against ExtJS is the cost. I got a license for it a few years ago when I was delusional and thought I could use it to replace Flex. Dropping $1,000 on something when virtually every other tech out there is free is hard to choke down.

Also, it seemed like a major step down for those of us coming from the Flex community. Like I said, with JS app paradigms seem like afterthoughts and each peculiarity wore me down further and further. For instance, if you have a button and you declare a listener function but misspell it, you don't get an error complaining that the listener doesn't exist, you get a blank white screen. Another issue was marshalling data into objects. Whenever I brought back a Classroom JSON representation, the Student objects in the students collection remained unmarshalled. I had to use ANOTHER store to get those to behave as objects. All of these "why on earth is this acceptable" moments led me to believe such features weren't really in demand in the JS community if not resented altogether.

2
lightblade 1 day ago 2 replies      
Having you checked out KendoUI? They seem to be somewhere between the ExtJS/AngularJS spectrum.

I've used Sencha's frameworks on 3 different projects now, and I still hate it. For many different reasons:

1. The learning curve: This is probably something you already know. But you may not be aware of is the other effects this can cause. If your team consists of members of different level of experience (from 0+), the code quality is going to suffer a lot from the lack of knowledge.

2. ExtJS and Sencha Touch are 2 different products. Today's web app demands to be runnable on many different platforms. With ExtJS you get point and click. With Sencha Touch you get swipe and pinch. But what if you're running it on a touch laptop that needs both point and click and swipe and pinch? I'm working on a product right now that integrated the 2. While we succeeded at reaching the goal, the result is not something I'm proud of.

3. Sencha is a walled garden that makes it hard to integrate other libraries into it. For the most part, Sencha already have a lot of things that you needed (like data grid, combo box, etc). But what if you want to do complex data visualization with d3? Complex interactive behavior with Rxjs? Or realtime updates with socket.io?

Eventually, I found out that no matter which framework you choose to use, you'll end up needing to read its source code to understand what's underneath. If you have to do so anyway, why not pick a framework that's simple to understand?

3
kmnc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Most ExtJS apps are probably internal admin apps, but I imagine it has decent usage throughout the corporate world. 5 Years ago if you were looking to create a SPA business oriented web-app extjs was the only option really, and at the time it also looked damn nice (against java generated web-apps).

It seems the ExtJS community has fallen off a bit as the company has (in my opinion) put it in the rear-view as they focus on Sencha and mobile. I also never really felt that I have seen what a true ExtJS app could be. The examples are the same as they were 5 years ago. Only the theme has been changed. You get a lot for free with the datagrid and charts but they aren't the only game in town for this.

No one wanted to build customer facing ExtJS apps because of performance issues, hard to style so that it doesn't look like some dull enterprise thing and at the time Rails was just getting popular. I havn't touched ExtJS in a while but building an admin CRUD in Rails would be much easier. The extra features of ExtJS can be gotten elsewhere and easily integrated.

Angular just seems like a breath of fresh air when comparing it to ExtJS, and again most of the components can be found elsewhere.

4
Blinkky 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cost. In my day job we use extJS so I know it pretty well. I would have been the first one to use it in my side project. But because pretty much every other javascript frameworks is free and the extJS licensing is terrible they weren't even in the decision.
5
wattengard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could the problem not be the lack of desktop-looking ui-frameworks, but a lack of willingness to design something that doesn't look like a java swing app from the 90's. (Yes, ExtJS is butt-ugly).

Could the app you want to write maybe lend itself well to the UI-stylings of Bootstrap? Or Pure? Or Foundation?

Or maybe you could combine something yourself... Googling Angular CRUD gives me this: http://angularjs-webapi-crud-grid.azurewebsites.net/

6
PopsiclePete 1 day ago 0 replies      
Last time I tried ExtJS, it struck me as a framework made by people who suffer from an extreme case of NIH syndrome. Personally, I prefer small, light frameworks that play with other frameworks well. I don't like big "uber" frameworks that re-implement everything. That's not value, in fact, it's negative value in my mind.

If I want to manipulate the DOM or do AJAX I'll use JQuery, if I want to do data binding I'll use knockout.js, etc.

But these are minor annoyances compared to the huge ExtJS no-no for me which is the fact that ExtJS seem to actually hate Javascript. Or, they targeted the framework towards people who'd rather write C++ in the browser - giant "class" hierarchies everywhere. Ugh.

7
bayesianhorse 1 day ago 0 replies      
The licensing is bad, the control over the design is terrible, and the experience developing and learning it is painful.

Never ever use it for a client who has any ambitions on GUI design. Figuring out how to put an extra pixel here or there can take hours...

8
cjbprime 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's pretty restrictively licensed.
9
ciokan 1 day ago 0 replies      
I mostly use Extjs for admins and such. I would say that it offers little control over the design, structure and HTML compared to something like angular which allows full control over the presentation. Creativity room is important.

The licensing is pretty restrictive also and the prices are big.

I wouldn't say ext has no traction. I see sencha going pretty well and I've worked with extjs since the early days. It just looks more "business oriented"

10
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sencha Touch plays rather well with CoffeeScript
11
12
ablutop 1 day ago 0 replies      
anybody has experience moving from Flex to dojo toolkit ?
18
Ask HN: Dashboard to monitor 10+ servers?
7 points by AznHisoka  1 day ago   9 comments top 8
1
LDN 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
A few months ago I had the same requirement and felt many of the existing services were providing more than I actually needed or wanted. That was basically the reason for why I created a small bash script and later on in December built a web application around it. I just launched it 3 weeks ago so I would love to get a few more people to check it out.

Feel free to give it a try https://nodequery.com/

Feedback would be much appreciated as I wasn't able to gain much traction yet.

2
seven 1 day ago 0 replies      
Take a look at: http://argus.tcp4me.com/It easy to use and quick to configure. Polls via snmp and stores in rrds.At first glance I did not like it.. but imho it beats other products in terms of simplicity.

If you are looking for something bigger, then zabbix (http://www.zabbix.com/) might be an option. It is not that easy to get running, but has capabilities like dependency based notifications. For example: "Only alarm me of missing ping responses if the router of that box is reachable." I think it is a fantastic piece of software although I had to build an argus-like monitoring interface for it, so that less trained staff is able to work with it.

3
gk1 1 day ago 1 reply      
Scalyr (https://www.scalyr.com) does this, you should give it a try. You can monitor and analyze multiple servers in one place on one dashboard. (Full disclosure: I work for Scalyr.)

If you have any questions or feedback I'd love to hear it!

4
citruspi 22 hours ago 0 replies      
A link to the Amon.cx beta[0] was posted[1] earlier today, so I figured I'd mention it.

It's free while in beta and $60 for 10 servers, so you can try it without paying right now. Based on the preview image, it looks like it's exactly what you want.

[0]: https://amon.cx/#beta

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7156291

5
jlgaddis 1 day ago 0 replies      
> ... just want to check the RAM usage, HD usage, and CPU usage of all of these servers in 1 dashboard.

Cacti

6
penguinlinux 20 hours ago 0 replies      
How do you manage your servers? Are you using puppet or chef? I am using the free version of new relic and I wrote little modules to use their free service. I can monitor all those stats and I am also monitoring MySQl and other stuff. Give it a try. it is free :) they will try to sell you stuff but you don't have to buy it. I can't with our budget.
7
philip1209 1 day ago 0 replies      
NewRelic? If you don't need much data retention, it's free.
8
ozdemircili 1 day ago 0 replies      
Have a look at http://www.superviso.com They are giving away dashboard for servers and raspberrypi. Depending on your need there are over 20 widgets and unlimited dashboards.

Only with curl / or any other language you like you can update the whole dashboard.

Most important of all it is free.

19
Ask HN: How do/would you teach a second language to your child?
3 points by codegeek  16 hours ago   3 comments top 3
1
gus_massa 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Im from Argentina, my daughter speaks English very well, and I have many friends with kids living in USA/Canada.

Do you and your wife speak the same language? You and your wife should talk to your daughter in your own language(s). Your daughter will be a little confused, but after a while she will understand.

Dont worry, she will survive to the mix of languages. The main examples is Catalonia in Spain. Almost 100% of the people speak Catalan and Spanish for historical and political reasons. The kids grow up without problems, speaking both languages.

Your daughter will be a native English speaker. (The native language is the language they use in kindergarten.) She will use the English sounds to speak in your language and the pronunciation will never be perfect, but enough to talk.

Dont worry too much. Just speak naturally and your daughter will learn.

Get some movies with English and your language(s) audio and subtitles. Play the wathc the movie in the different language. (With small children, the problem is not to repeat the movie, but to repeat it only a few times.) My daughter loved to see the movie mixing the audio and subtitles in different languages. (I hope you dont have problems with the DVD zones.)

Books are also good. I try to buy her the books in the original language when its available and she can understand it, in spite she sometimes dont know a word and has to use Google to translate it.

Also, start with comics. The story is simple, the text is short, and she will get a lot of information from the sorrounding drawings.

2
nmc 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have friends in a similar situation: living in France and both speaking a perfect French, but the father is a native German speaker. His main technique, during the first 3 years of his son, was to talk to him in French, but immediately repeat the same thing in German, and making clear that it was just the same thing in another language. Now his son is 8, and truly bilingual.
3
helpful 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Speak to your children in your native language and English to each other since you don't share a mutual language. It hasn't prevented my children from learning. Alternatively exposure to foreign shows in your native language helps.
20
Where should I start learning Assembly?
61 points by shinvou  3 days ago   53 comments top 38
1
revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reverse engineering is quite a different skill set from assembly. Unless you are reverse engineering malware, whatever you are analyzing is unlikely to have been written in assembly or to be heavily obfuscated. Then it's more about knowing how certain high-level programming constructs (think virtual function calls in C++) will be translated into assembly by a compiler, what residual information there might be left in the binary or what all that noise is you are seeing (think C++ templates, destructors called for stack-allocated variables..).

For many reverse engineering projects, assembly might be a wholly uselss skill, since whatever you are looking at is actually MSIL or running on Python with its own embedded interpreter. Here assembly only serves you to quickly tell you would be wasting your time :)

2
gaius 3 days ago 3 replies      
Which assembly? x86, PowerPC, ARM, MIPS?

Personally my favourites are 6502 (http://skilldrick.github.io/easy6502/) and 68k (http://www.easy68k.com/) tho' neither of these are realistically of any commercial use.

3
csmithuk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I started with the following book:

http://www.z80.info/zip/zaks_book.pdf

Wonderful book from which a lot of knowledge is applicable to other architectures straight away. It teaches you about planning, control structure implementation and the maths behind it all as well.

4
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Start with a computer architecture introduction. The McGraw Hill Computer Science series book "Computer Architecture" did a good job of creating a fictional processor and then designing the machine code for it. "Assembly" is just a way to represent machine code in text files.

That way you will learn what it is the computer is trying to do, and how constraints on how it is built change that.

Then I'd suggest some cheap 8 bit Microprocessors like the AVR series and the PIC series from Atmel and Microchip respectively, (the AVR has solid C support so its probably a better single choice, but the PIC has weirdness associated with architecture constraints which is good to understand as well).

Once you are a pro writing AVR assembly code, then grab a copy of x86 assembly and a description of the Pentium architecture. To do it proper justice start with an 8086 assembly book, then a 286 assembly book, then a 386 one, and finally a Pentium one. That will let you see how the architecture evolved to deal with the availability of transistors.

5
minikomi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Although I cannot claim to know a lot, http://microcorruption.com was a very nice "fun" way to at least start with a small, easy to grasp instruction set.
7
forgottenpaswrd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Get IDA pro and start reversing things with some clear objective. I learned a lot having friends that knew and competing with them to remove limits on commercial software when I was a teenager.

Making trial version complete and so on. Some times it was really easy(just finding a jmp and changing it), other times we had to compare with the complete program, finding code blocks,patching the trial and making all checksums and stuff to work.

None of the software that we cracked was released to the public, it was just for fun.

At the time there was little exercises called "crackme" for exercising your abilities.

It takes at least over a year of work to start being really good at this, and is not like Obj.C, Java or Python, or even c, but way more tedious. Without having friends on this and clear objectives I would had found it boring.

It would be probably a better idea to buy a micro processor and code simple things in assembly, like blinking LEDs.

8
penberg 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you already know C, you can start out by looking at the machine code generated by your compiler with "objdump -d" on Linux and "otool -tV" on Mac. Start experimenting by writing out C constructs like functions, loops, switch statements, etc., and just looking at what the generated code looks like.

Of course, to do that, you need to find the manual for your machine architecture. The x86 manuals are, for example, available here:

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/processors/architectu...

You also then start to notice things like the operating system specific application binary interfaces (ABI):

http://www.x86-64.org/documentation/abi.pdf

and object file formats such as ELF that's used in Linux:

http://www.skyfree.org/linux/references/ELF_Format.pdf

or Mach-O used in Mac OS X:

https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/develo...

You can also do the same thing with the JVM and look at its JIT-generated machine code with the '-XX:+PrintCompilation' option:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/13086690/understanding-th...

9
maggit 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm writing a tutorial in x86-64 assembly on OS X that you might enjoy: https://plus.google.com/+MagnusHoff/posts/9gxSUZMJUF2

Its focus is actually writing assembly on an acutal computer, with the goal of implementing a snake game.

10
znowi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can suggest this free book called "PC Assembly Language" by Dr Paul Carter.

http://www.drpaulcarter.com/pcasm/

The tutorial has extensive coverage of interfacing assembly and C code and so might be of interest to C programmers who want to learn about how C works under the hood. All the examples use the free NASM (Netwide) assembler. The tutorial only covers programming under 32-bit protected mode and requires a 32-bit protected mode compiler.

11
traviscj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Code by Charles Petzold [1] is a fantastic introduction. It isn't so much the nitty gritty "this opcode performs this operation, and these are all the tricks to making it do things, edge cases and things you should worry about" and more along the lines of "what opcodes should a CPU have, and how do those translate into electricity flowing through physical wires?" I feel like really thinking through that book made MIPS and x86 assembly much easier for me.

1 - http://www.charlespetzold.com/code/

12
noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd second what others have said and go with a micro like an avr or a pic. Tons of open source support and a small system you can totally "own" will help you understand not just the code but how computers execute code at the lowest human-legible level.
13
zaptheimpaler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Check out the bomb lab from CMUs systems course. Its an assignment specifically designed to teach you assembly and gdb via reverse engineering a binary "bomb". There are 6 levels, and you need to figure out the right password for each level by reading the assembly/inspecting the program via gdb.

http://csapp.cs.cmu.edu/public/labs.html

14
brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an option to jumping into real world assembly language there is Knuth's MMIX [and MIX]. It provides access to the underlying concepts alongside structured exercises. One might say it's an "onramp to the foundations of computer science." I prefer "gateway drug to TAoCP" however.

http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~knuth/mmix.html

The first fascicle is a free download and the place to start.

15
csmatt 2 days ago 0 replies      
For MIPS (recommended for starting out), check out my post. It walks you through creating the initial program in C all the way through finding its vulnerability and exploiting it. The buffer overflow building is done in Python through Bowcaster. http://csmatt.com/notes/?p=96 also check out the links at the end). Good luck!
16
svantana 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're on a mac, XCode has a really nice feature: using the Assistant Editor (press the "bowtie icon"), you can get (dis-)assembly parallell to your source code and step through it with the debugger. A really convenient way of learning what's going on, and also understanding potential inefficiencies!
17
psuter 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an intermediate step, you could also study LLVM bitcode. It should give you a good idea of what assembly languages "feel" like without tying you to a particular architecture. It is easy enough to write smallish programs in the ASCII format and assemble them with llvm-as.
18
erbdex 2 days ago 0 replies      
1. i suggest diving a little into a processor architecture first. Z-80 and 8085 are almost the same, conceptually. Once you grasp the fundamentals, you can move onto x86. It too builds upon the architectures mentioned previously. Added concepts are- pipelining, segmentation etc. One of the best sources for me has been- http://www.amazon.com/Microprocessors-Principles-Application...

2. Knowing how the microprocessor works comes really handy while coding assembly as you can't 'catch exceptions' out there. It is like treading a land-mined area and nothing can replace the knowledge of the fundamental terrain- the architecture.

3. Since you know C, you can start with some serious gdb usage, as mentioned by @penberg.

4. Then find your sweet spot between these two ends. You could start with embedded robotics, another viable hobby could be IoT application. Two added advantages of these over 'theoretical' assembly language learning are that-

a) You are doing something with a real-scenario implementation, so you're surely hooked.

b) You can eventually mold a business model around it if you end up with something really innovative.

19
Adrock 3 days ago 2 replies      
20
stcredzero 2 days ago 1 reply      
First, find Core Wars and play it until you can beat the "tutorial" programs. Hell, I should reimplement Core Wars as a JavaScript app doing CodeCombat style instruction for assembly.
22
syncopate 2 days ago 0 replies      
A good way to learn asm is through books but there are not many for current architectures (especially x64, except the official Intel manuals which are quite good but also hard to read). Nevertheless, there are some on ARM which I can recommend, namely: ARM System Developer's Guide by Sloss, Symes and Wright. ARM Assembly Language by Hohl. ARM SoC Architecture by Furber.

IDA Pro is the industry standard for reverse engineering but it also is expensive (like USD $2k). There is a free version but it doesn't offer 64bit, so not really an option for modern ObjC or Intel computers. As you've mentioned ObjC chances are you work on OS X. IDA pro is not working well on OS X (the recommended way is to use the Windows version via virtualbox and not the OS X version). Still, Hopper.app is a great alternative on OS X. Not as good as IDA, but it has a Python interface, GDB support, and decompile support for ARM, Intel (and some knowledge regarding Objc). And it's only ~USD$100. [There is also a Windows version of hopper.app but it seems not yet ready to use, as I've only heard bad things about it there so far.]

23
khetarpal 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would recommend picking a project that you can do only in Assembly. For me, this was creating a special waveform on a microchip controller. I had to create a custom 800kHz signal using a 16MHz clock, so there was no way other than to respect each and every clock cycle, and make the most of it.

The key is to choose a project that you are excited about. If you pick another blah assembly tutorial, without the excitement of a project pushing you, your enthusiasm will evaporate sooner or later.

24
eru 3 days ago 0 replies      
Try having some fun with Core War. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Core_War
25
bobowzki 2 days ago 0 replies      
A good place to start programming assembly are on micro controllers (Arduino etc.). They have a more limited set of instructions, registers etc, and an easy to grasp memory layout. The development environments also often come with a pretty good debugger/simulator so you can step through your code and we how it works.

Good luck!

27
eximius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, that depends how comfortable you are thinking in terms of machine code. It takes a completely different mindset because you're now literally dealing with blocks of memory -- even more so than C.

It also depends how steep of a learning curve you want to encounter. I, personally, have not yet played with x86 assembly because the documentation for them is so unfriendly for beginners. To that end, when I want to play around in Assembly and learn techniques for that level of programming, I usually play with the DCPU (http://dcpu.com/dcpu-16/). It's fake and was designed for a (sadly) not-to-be-made game. But it is an absolute joy to program in.

Play around with that until you're comfortable and THEN tackle x86.

28
aosmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found this on HN a while back... This is a fun way to get your feet wet:

https://microcorruption.com/

I would also grab a copy of Art of Assembly Language.

29
golem_de 2 days ago 0 replies      
As always learning by doing is the best, look at this old school website: http://www.japheth.de/index.htmlAside of it's manual, he also recommends the (partially free) book http://www.phatcode.net/res/223/files/html/toc.html
30
en4bz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Id start with ARM first. Its a lot easier to pick up and is a lot easier than x86. Also take a look at the C++ itanium abi. It can be found on the GCC website. It explains the rules of going from C++ to assembly.
31
neals 2 days ago 0 replies      
Because Transport Tycoon is written in Assembly by Chris Sawyer. (I know, pretty amazing right?)
32
nedzadk 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://flatassembler.net/ is very good assembler (linux, win, dos)http://flatassembler.net/docs.php is good place to startand http://board.flatassembler.net/ is very good place to explore
33
mpl 2 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't the most aesthetic site, but the content really is top-notch. If you really want to learn assembly (MIPS, in particular), I can't recommend this enough:

http://chortle.ccsu.edu/AssemblyTutorial/index.html

34
yomritoyj 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found it very useful to read the Intel software developer's manual to get an understanding of the instruction set. If doing this for the x86 architecture seems too daunting at first, a fun alternative is to read the manual for the AVR microcontroller which powers the Arduino and then program an Arduino in assembly.
35
fromdoon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I highly recommend Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective

http://www.amazon.com/Computer-Systems-Programmers-Perspecti...

36
castor_pilot 2 days ago 2 replies      
I enjoyed Jeff Duntemann's "Assembly Language Step-by-Step".I see there is a 3rd edition. Nice writing style and overall fun read.
37
fuj 3 days ago 0 replies      
x86 ?This should get you started: http://www.asmcommunity.net/
38
duffdevice 2 days ago 0 replies      
1988?
21
Ask HN: Is there a way to generate text editor color schemes?
8 points by pspeter3  1 day ago   3 comments top 2
22
Ask HN: why do you get up in the morning
3 points by davidjhamp  21 hours ago   6 comments top 5
1
khyryk 3 hours ago 0 replies      
My back begins to hurt if I lay around too much.
2
AnimalMuppet 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Why did you abandon your previous reason? You no longer care about making the world a better place? You don't find fulfillment from doing so? The fulfillment isn't enough? Or you no longer think you're going to die?
3
adzeds 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Because the Mrs kicks me out the bed and gives me a list of jobs to do!
4
duiker101 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Because I would get bored after 10 minutes in bed without sleeping. Instead if I am awake I can do things I enjoy.
23
Ask HN: Recommendations for learning formal distributed systems?
4 points by ashishgandhi  1 day ago   3 comments top 3
1
tostitos1979 1 minute ago 0 replies      
One questions you should ask is why you want to learn this topic. I spent several years learning and I'm still of intermediate skill. I am now beginning to realize that dist systems might be useful when it comes time to scale your startup but likely not appropriate when you are first building the product.

Of course, if u are interested for love of knowledge that is another matter.

There are at least two old text books on dist systems. I have both but they are pretty hard to read/abstract. I think the best way to learn is to read academic papers. Read: dynamo, big table, cassandra, some papers on dhts like chord.

I started reading seven dbs in seven week and am really learning a lot. It doesnt focus on dist systems but when you see the different systems in action, you get some useful insights. E.g. Think about how riak id different from redis.

There was some group in new haven that was planning to host a two day seminar on dist systems. If you search old hn submissions, youll find it.(sorry, dont have a link handy as I am on vacay).

2
Throwadev 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm interested in this too.

The only thing I've read so far is Fowler's "NoSQL Distilled". It's not exactly a hardcore text but it does give a good overview of the different types of databases, and the tradeoffs they make in terms of consistency/availability.

24
Has Django become a pay-for-features framework?
9 points by antelopesalad  23 hours ago   25 comments top 6
1
SEJeff 22 hours ago 1 reply      
The money for migrations was to employ the guy who wrote south to work on those migrations fulltime. It wasn't as much of a "community" thing as one guy who did it all. That wasn't the django "community" but a single django contributor. I think you've got things a bit mixed up here. Overall, the core of django sholud be small. The real good stuff is in the reusable apps.

Besides, runserver isn't supposed to be for production. If you want things to run faster run it under a real wsgi server such as circus/chaussette, uwsgi, or gunicorn. That being said, I highly suggest looking into runserver_plus from: https://github.com/django-extensions/django-extensions, it is really nice stuff.

2
gboone42 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Devs clearly thought integrating South into Core was worth shelling out for, they could have sat on their hands after the project hit it's modest 2500 pound goal but, they didn't.

Django, and all open source projects, benefit from the law of increasing returns. As more people contribute to it, with code, money, or simply by using it, the entire user base benefits. WordPress is a great example. I remember the days when WordPress was kind of wonky, but as it rose in usage and attracted more developers (and more of us started getting paid to contribute to the theme/plugin repos or Core), it quickly became stronger and oh so much more stable. There are tons of paid ("premium") plugins and themes out there now, and so many people paying for WP.com, but it's by no means a "pay for features" platform.

With Django, paying Andrew Godwin to dedicate some of his time to integrate South into Core is definitely the kind of thing all of us will benefit from whether we contributed or not, as would runserver. At 2500 (his original goal) it's not like we're paying his salary. Even with the $30,000 he raised, it's not like he's living high on the hog the django community. If someone wants to field a kickstarter for 2500 to improve runserver and people want it as badly as people wanted South integrated, it'd probably be successful. That kind of voluntary patronage hardly makes it a pay-for-features platform.

3
sergiotapia 17 hours ago 1 reply      
If you feel the direction is lacking in Django I would recommend switching to something like Rails or Laravel.
4
rbanffy 23 hours ago 1 reply      
No. I don't think the experience is that bad anyway.

Django is Free Software. You get a corpus of software developed by an incredibly competent and generous group of people for free. These people solve their own problems and kindly donate their solutions for all to use. For free.

If you have a problem that bothers you, you are free to solve it or to pay someone else to solve it for you. If it's a problem for too many people, it will, eventually, be solved by some generous person and you'll have your solution, again, for free.

If it's your problem and only your problem, nobody else has any obligation whatsoever to solve it for you. BTW, nobody has any obligation to solve any problem with Django. It's done out of either love or necessity.

We all have busy schedules. We all have families we love to spend time with. If I have to choose between spending time with my family and solving your problem, you'd better not hold your breath.

5
yen223 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I, too, hate it when people ask to be paid for services rendered. You're supposed to be working for free, damn it!
6
jasonlfunk 23 hours ago 0 replies      
pip install django-extensions

./manage.py runserver_plus 8080

Just saved your $30,000 ;)

25
Ask HN: Which are the best places to showcase an app for teens or women?
2 points by pmcpinto  20 hours ago   4 comments top 2
1
SkyMarshal 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Not an expert here, but you might try reposting this question at http://reddit.com/r/askwomen.

And by "teens or women", do you mean "teen girls or women"? Or teens of both genders and women?

2
penguinlinux 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Reach out the the editors of teenvogue they always showcase apps. You can find their info on the Condenast directory.

Teen magazines are very influential, don't be afraid to reach them. Research all the companies that have magazines or media that reach women and teens and contact them. If only one or two reply and talk about your app you can have lots of attention and hopefully downloads.

Cheers

26
HN: Quick tips for learning a foreign language quickly?
3 points by ekpyrotic  1 day ago   9 comments top 6
1
BWStearns 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have studied about 4 foreign languages (about because of varying levels of effort and involvement). I have found that the only real differentiator in terms of retention and progress (as measured by the likelihood that a native speaker would mistake me as such in person or over text) was the quantity of time that I spent speaking to native speakers. This improved not only my spoken abilities but also my reading abilities, although there is no clear reasoning for why the latter occurred.

If at all possible, go to barbers that speak your target language. If you're old enough to drink (or have a good fake) go to bars where your target language is spoken, start listening to news in the target language. Hell, if you're single or have a particularly liberal significant other start dating a guy/girl in your target language. Audio and social exposure can be fantastically productive, as much as reading/writing is good for language acquisition.

2
jasonkester 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I try to find a trick that gets me up and speaking to people as quickly as possible.

In Spanish, for example, if you can conjugate poder, you can say pretty much anything. It's a get-out-of-conjugation-free card because it flips the rest of your sentence into the infinitive. "Is it possible to pay?", "Is it possible for us to go to the beach?". You can structure most any sentence this way and avoid having to deal with tense, subject, conjugation, etc.

I'm learning French now, and getting a ton of mileage out of je voudrais. For the same reasons. The infinitive helps a lot too. "It is very important for me to..."

Naturally, you sound a bit foolish speaking this way, but it gets your point across and gets you talking to people. Think of all those eastern Europeans you meet with their crazy sentence structure, word choice, tenses, etc. But you understand what they're saying, right?

That's the way forward, I think. Just get to the point where you're saying things and being understood. Conjugation, tense, grammar, etc. don't necessarily move the needle there, and can thus be skipped and left for the "polishing" stage that comes later.

3
tokenadult 22 hours ago 0 replies      
My all-time best-liked comment here (judged by karma) has advice about this.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6302816

I am a native speaker of English who has learned Chinese well enough to work as an interpreter and translator in that language, and I speak and read other languages.

4
dorfuss 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Memorising lists of words is counter-effective - I am opposed to flashcards, because meaning is always created by the context.

The methods presented by Steve Kaufman seem interesting to me http://www.youtube.com/user/lingosteve I used Lingq for some time and it was good value for money.

But there is really no easy/quick way. 3 years should be enough to learn any language if you're committed. There are bad ways, though. You have to get a decent exposure to the language, and learn every single day, the more the better.

Try to use the langueage you are trying to learn. Talk to yourself - who are you, where are you, what happened 2 days ago, what do you want to achieve, describe your job, your hobby, your famili. Read stuff that you are really interested in. Find someone who could offer you conversations. Describe your life and the world around you, like a little child.

Don't confuse good methods with hard work.

5
eroullit 1 day ago 1 reply      
This will hardly work out. By reading only, you might (re)learn some things but with time, it will fade away again.To quickly learn a language and make it stick, you need to speak it and have real-life situations using it.No wonder that going to a foreign country is the best way to learn its language.
6
Kanbab 1 day ago 0 replies      
Go to Odesk and hire someone to talk to you for an hour a day.
27
Ask HN: Are you seeing lots of broken images in Gmail?
3 points by amarcus  1 day ago   1 comment top
1
aonic 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been seeing this and also hope there is some fix available.
28
How to securely distribute student grades?
6 points by plg  1 day ago   27 comments top 15
1
patmcc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Use the university provided method - students have to deal with it anyway, most likely, so you're not saving them any hassle. And however slow and ugly it is, it's already built and (presumably) works.
2
mindslight 1 day ago 0 replies      
Think low tech, you don't need or want computer software. In class, ask every student to submit a 'handle' (which can be any identifier they want), and a 'grade offset', which is just a random number in the range of grades (say 0-100 for numeric grades). Then you publish an email/webpage/office door posting with a list of handles and corresponding ((grade - offset) mod 101). Figuring out the range of letter grades is a little harder on specifics, but still straightforward. This also allows students an explicit opportunity to not opt in and arrange other methods instead.
3
brucehart 1 day ago 0 replies      
If it's only 20 students, maybe just ask them to come by your office during office hours. Most of my professors would just post grades in the hallway using student IDs, but a few did it this way. It gives you a chance to connect with the students and give some personal feedback. At the graduate level this can be helpful not only for them, but also for you since these students are people you will likely work with later in industry and academia.

If you are not in your office much, then I would just offer the GPG option. Sending 20 e-mails will not take very long. Out of the 20 students, I bet only half of them get their act together and e-mail you a key, so it's really more like 10 emails that you would need to send.

4
JoachimSchipper 1 day ago 0 replies      
The sensible answer is clearly just to use Blackboard or whatever; but if you insist, just make each student write some word or passphrase on whatever they hand in. Then publish a list of word/grade pairs.

(A.k.a. you can't solve this without either a pre-shared secret or public-key cryptography; so get yourself a pre-shared secret.)

(Potential pitfall: no matter how many instructions you add, someone is going to write down his bank password.)

5
mchannon 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you set things up properly, you could be granted 20 public keys and one single boilerplate e-mail containing everybody's grades, with each one encoded in their appropriate key.

Everybody would then attempt to decode each cipher, with only one working for any individual private key.

This isn't all that different from your original posting, except that you now only need to send one unique e-mail.

(For Beavis, who's getting an F because he never showed up to class, you might get in trouble with the administration because a simpleton couldn't decode their grade through this or other sophisticated means.)

6
brudgers 1 day ago 0 replies      
SASE over USPS meets all privacy requirements, allows communications to be tailored for each student and uses a proven technology stack to provide robust and reliable delivery regardless of the student's computing platform or internet bandwidth.
7
asdf3 1 day ago 0 replies      
Use the website the college has provided. This isn't about your convenience or technical judgement (about a system you don't maintain). It's about the students and the rest of the college.

That said, encrypt the each grade with a key derived from the students ID (which is privileged information) and make a webpage to do the decryption for the students. SHA256 ( ID + Salt ) == Key for symmetric encryption.

--former IT college staffer

8
spurgu 1 day ago 1 reply      
You could generate personal URLs for each student, pointing to whatever site/service you choose (for example Pastebin, with an expiry date), then generate QR codes of those URL:s and hand them out on paper notes.
9
maibaum 1 day ago 1 reply      
Make an excel doc with one column as the log of their student ID #'s and grade in the next column. Include a line at the top for instructions to take the log of their student ID # to find their grade. Label column headings appropriately
10
plg 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think what I'll do is send a list of all grades listed next to the SHA256 hash of their student IDs

They have access to SHA256 so they can privately find their own student ID hash and then look up their grades

11
stumpyfr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sound a little "too much" of privacy laws but...if you really need:https://bitmessage.org/wiki/Main_Page
12
jordsmi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Regardless of if you encrypt it or not, to the school it is still going to be against the rules. You are still sending it to their email, which someone else may have access to. If they have access to the computer they may also have access to encryption keys, etc.

Even though it is terrible I would just stick with the schools system.

13
Mimu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ask them to come up with an simple idea.

- If you don't like it they'll have the least grade possible.

- If they do, use it.

Easy.

Also what kind of rule is that lol? Privacy, really?

14
studentthrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've had professors do many different things, Blackboard is actual okay for checking your grades as a student though it does suck to put grades in.

Another option is set up a website with a login id (student id or something) and have students submit a pin (4-12 chars) and let them use that to login and see their grades (probably should be ssl).

As for your question I don't see how you could send them encrypted, you could make up random ids for each student and only give that student their id then send grades out corresponding to their random ids but that may still violate privacy issues.

15
percomis 1 day ago 2 replies      
How about this: you ask every student to send you a password word. You hash these passwords, give them the algorithm and send them a list with the hashes with the grades.
29
Do you want to learn some abstract math? Will you give me your opinion?
23 points by ColinWright  3 days ago   3 comments top 2
1
ColinWright 3 days ago 0 replies      
I should learn that before posting something like this I need to set up an auto-responder. It's late here and I have an early start, but if you email me, I will reply.

Thanks for all the emails so far - I hope you get something interesting out of it, and I look forward to your comments.

2
meerita 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would love a simply math blog. You know, even the most silly things to higher levels. And with real life applications or software. Sometimes, the easy and plain language works better than complex formula
30
Ask HN: how do blackhats meet?
5 points by bachback  1 day ago   7 comments top 4
1
phaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you are going to be doing sysadmin work, and you want to get a feel for the attacker mentality, there are a few things you could do.

If you have the money, know at least 1 scripting language, and have an aptitude for technology, the OCSP certification course is pretty good.

If you want to go the cheaper route, there are lots of books. One introductory text a lot of people like is Hacking: the Art of Exploitation.

If you want to learn about web security, the Web Application Hacker's Handbook is a great book. For something less intensive, The Tangled Web would suffice.

If you want to learn to harden Linux servers, reedit.com/r/linuxadmin, /r/linux and /r/linux4noobs are great resources. Before you post questions, however, I suggest using the search function because lots of people ask for hardening guides.

2
runjake 1 day ago 0 replies      
Max Butler's forums got infiltrated by a task force composed of FBI and Secret Service personnel, not the CIA.

Black hats generally network on IRC. You sit on some public IRC channel, build rapport [1][2], and eventually get invited to private channels.

There are plenty of resources out there on how to harden your server and reduce attack surfaces. You just need to spend more time familiarizing yourself with the landscape and quantify your actual goals.

1. http://guerrillamerica.com/2013/12/source-recruitment/

2. http://guerrillamerica.com/2014/01/source-handling-part-one/

3
spoiler 1 day ago 1 reply      
Blackhats are just people who abuse their Whitehat knowledge.

There is a plethora of IRC channels, forums, mailing lists and whatnot where people share that kind of stuff. Frankly, a bug report is something like sharing it, before its fixes it is a zero day exploit.

4
thelogos 1 day ago 1 reply      
A lot of them meet in private invite-only forums. Krebs had some success infiltrating those forums but eventually got discovered.
       cached 1 February 2014 13:05:01 GMT