According to the article and his website the machine costs $2,500 each, can produce 2 napkins per minute and requires 746W of power. Each machine employs a crew of four people.
A full scale industrial machine is claimed to cost $500K and, from a quick bit of google-ing can produce 350 napkins per minute and requires about 80KW of power. Each machine seems to be operable by a small team of five or so, but let's double that to ten people.
In order to match the production rate of a single industrial machine you would need:
According to this (http://mahadiscom.com/emagazine/jan06/india1%5B1%5D.pdf) electricity cost in India runs around 1.5 rupees per KWh for residential and 3.5 rupees per KWh for industrial applications. Assuming ten hours per day (for easy math) the power costs compare as follows (converted to USD):
175 low cost machines @131KWh in household settings: USD $37 per day.
Industrial machine @80KWh in industrial setting: USD $52.87 per day.
The industrial machine cost a little more to run (power) but it produces 175 times more product per machine. Put a different way, around USD $0.03 of power is required per napkin with the household machine. The industrial machine --even at more than double the electricity cost-- only requires USD $0.0003 per napkin in power.
In terms of labor costs --assuming $1 per hour-- the household machine would cost about $0.033 per napkin while the industrial machine runs $0.0005 per napkin.
According to the linked statistic the TAM (Total Addressable Market) is around 300 million women:
If his dream to "make India a 100% napkin-using country" is fully realized you would need to produce a minimum of 1500 million napkins per month (assuming five pads used per period). The solutions compare as follows:
Assuming that the machines are run 24 hours per day for 30 days.
- Household solution
Labor cost per 30 days: $25,001,280
- Industrial Solution:
Labor cost per 30 days: $90,000
Unless my numbers are grossly wrong (please check, I threw them together quickly) this is not as good a solution as it has been made out to be. In fact, it looks like a really bad solution to a large scale problem. The costs are staggering. Power consumption is at least 50% greater. I'll bet that product quality and consistency also suffers a great deal. And, of course, we haven't even covered maintenance costs and MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) of 18,000 low-cost machines versus 100 industrial grade machines.
Good job. Lots of work. But I'd invest in a used industrial machine out of China over making thousands of these low cost household devices.
I grew up in a lower middle class family and I have two sisters. I know that my sisters and mom could not afford to use napkins because paying for the school fees was more important. As the story mentions, my sisters will take time off from school during those days.
His price of 12 rupees (25 cents) for 8 napkins is unbelievably cheap. That means a napkin costs 1.5 rupees which is less than a cup of tea you can buy at a road side stall in India. And I think 75%+ of his target market should be able to afford it.
BTW, you should visit the company's website, they have more details there:
Female medical students not wishing to talk to a man about menstruation.
The fatalistic, egotistical and selfish attitude epitomised by women being unconcerned about losing their uterus. And of course, if you don't care about your own uterus, you're unlikely to care about litter, the environment, or pretty much anything.
(ps, as someone who has spent a lot of time in India and whose parenta are Indian, this fatalistic selfishness isn't a gender based issue. It is, however, one of the corrosive elements of Indian culture that worries me).
For instance, a menstrual cup is generally more cost efficient and certainly more environmentally friendly. And it can be manufactured with simple equipment (rubber injection mold).
You can stop reading if you get the point, the rest is a rant:Another example that everyone loves of agriculture. Have you ever heard of a success story through teaching farmers to use non-industrial machinery? Hell NO! You can't win that way. You need to find a way for farmers to compete in the real world, not coddle them. Microfinance them or something. Maybe teach them to partner with a company with the money to buy all the right supplies (tractor, fertilizer, etc) that can actually turn his land in to profit. Then he isn't charity, he's a businessman. Charity is not the solution for people like me (by which I mean a healthy person that can work, since there's no difference between me and another 23 year old in any country in the world).
I have some questions though.
One is about the suggestion in the article that not using disposable napkins results in reproductive tract infections. That seems unlikely.
Another is that while good, cheap, reliable period-managing supplies are useful and liberating for women, there are movements to use menstrual cups and washable, reusable cloths as an alternative to disposable stuff. "Rags" sounds negative but "reusable cloth pads" less so.
So while this is great, maybe there is still more opportunity for disruption in this market!
This man has certainly practiced the 'design thinking' process outlined by Tim Brown in "Change By Design" - a book about the process of innovation. The Design Thinking process involves lots of ethnographic research, and developing empathy for the user - the same tenets as user centered (UCD) or human centered design (HCD).
In this case, the inventor developed empathy by going so far as wearing a fake uterus that emitted goats blood!
I find this story and others like it to be very inspiring. However, knowing that the world can be changed for the better or worse by people who believe strongly enough about something is both reassuring and frightening at the same time.
But I'm terribly upset about this and I'll tell you why.
Because of his willingness to debate. I'd literally scan right wing talk radio schedules for his name because you just knew it would be a great show. In a world where so many people in our modern society hide in their little cliques I think a smart person who is willing to have their ideas challenged is the most valuable person of all.
Losing a voice like that is a true tragedy.
So, with all due respect, I hope he is wrong in his beliefs about the after life because if there is a heaven he's surely earned his place in it.
Edit: On that note this is awesome: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4JJqXISBiI though skip the first 4 minutes of the host self aggrandizement)
I think it's because with Hitchens, you knew he spoke from the integrity of his own convictions. He was nobody's man, on no one's bandwagon, carrying water for no political agenda other than his own desire to see the world become a better place. His libertarianism or Marxism was just a function of where his own intellect led him, and he never compromised for fashion or acceptance. That gave him gravitas, ethos. How else could you go after Mother Theresa and not get run out of...the World on a rail?
Only Hitchens. He was often compared to Orwell and H.L. Mencken, and he was one of the few writers for whom the comparison was as a peer rather than a distant echo of a greater time. Who will pick up his mantle? Who has the intellect, wit or courage of their convictions that compares with Hitchens?
At the moment I simply can't think of anyone.
So he let himself be waterboarded.
VF Article (site's getting hit hard): http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/08/hitchens...
Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7u-Wk1aU-E
The title of the article? "Believe Me, It's Torture".
Hitchens gave short shrift to the "insulting" suggestion that cancer might persuade him to change his position where reason had not, arguing that to ditch principles "held for a lifetime, in the hope of gaining favour at the last minute" would be a "hucksterish choice", and urging those who had taken it upon themselves to pray for him not to "trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries".
I saw Hitchens speak at the New York Public Library, as part of their Live! series. Everyone retired to the garden afterwards, to take drinks.
I spoke with Hitchens briefly. He called Mother Theresa "a bitch". I criticized his diction and argued that bitch was the wrong epithet. I don't recall my exact argument, but he conceded my point. I was elated, given that I considered (and still consider) Hitchens one of the most eloquent orators of our generation. In deference to him and his passing, I have mulled my choice of language in this comment.
I am still grateful that I had the chance to engage this great polemicist.
Everyone knew Hitchens didn't have much time left, so it was great to see him doing what he does best against someone as high-profile as Blair.
You can get a sense of his political style from his fascination with the remark from Israeli peace activist Israel Shahak, "there are beginning to be some encouraging signs of polarization". Meaning that usually, well almost always, you have to choose sides. Draw the line between the sides yourself if necessary.
It's Hitchens' writings that introduced me to the early, dry, humorous works of Evelyn Waugh (best known is "Scoop", but also Decline and Fall, and the Sword of Honour trilogy). Some of Hitchens' best writing was literary appreciation, not polemics.
"âThat which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens
"An astroid...has been named after Vanity Fair contributing editor Christopher Hitchens. The asteroid orbits Mars, Jupiter, and Earth. It's an ironic but fitting honor for an iconoclast who has spent much of his life shaking his fist at the heavens and the deities they may or may not host."
I don't know if anyone had ever done that before, they clearly weren't prepared for it. He was there for something serious and he kept to it, regardless of views, much respect to the guy. In a pop-media bubble gum bullshit news and entertainment world he had a mission and kept to it. A tragic loss we need more of him and more like him.
He eloquently made the case for our faith in empirical evidence and the scientific knowing of reality, and he didn't pussy out at the end. Knowing he was dying, and soon on his way into that void, still looked that motherfucker in the face, and stayed frosty.
Wish he could have died from old age, though.
But I'd like to make the point that he stared death in the face and didn't finally profess his love of god and all things mighty like some wanted him to and I'll always respect for that. One of the good ones.
" Why does it also not delight me that the extent of the allegations against him, at least on some showings, is âunwanted advancesâ? It might be argued, by the cynical or the naive, that all âadvancesâ begin that way. True, a period of a matter of months is specified, but don't I seem to recall, in President Obama's jaunty account of his courtship, that it took him a certain amount of time to âwear downâ his intended target? I dare say that many of us could say the same, while reminiscing among friends, and still hope to avoid getting too many sidelong looks. But in the present circumstances there seems to be a danger of a straight-out politicization of the sexual harassment issue, with many people deciding it in advance on the simple basis of campaign calculations, orâ"to put it more crudelyâ"of whose ox is being gored. This appears to represent a general coarsening by silence, and yet another crude element in a depressing campaign. "
I have always suspected that Christopher Hitchens is really a child of Indianapolis or Topeka who spent a year in London while an undergraduate at the North Dakota State Technical and Agricultural Community College or some such and returned with an accent and a ubiquitous unopened umbrella so thoroughly does his Englishness come off as an affect. And, to crib from our friends across the pond, he comes off as a real tosser. "I dare say"? It's as if, sensing his own impending demise, he's angling to be played by Maggie Smith in the biopic.
Any man willing to gratuitously fondle the mother tongue as Hitch does above is obviously going to be an apologist for molestation. If you're a liberal, then you'll find it particularly appalling that Hitch first made his conservative bones, you'll pardon the expression, not by cheering for the death of a million Iraqis, but by stroking feverishly over Monica and Kathleen Willey. This was evidence of Clinton's despicable character, whereas here we are in grave danger of "politicizing . . . the sexual harassment issue," as if chalking it up as an issue has not by fucking default cast it into the baleful form of politics.
With all due respect to the passing of a fellow human, this story has absolutely nothing to do with hackers, with software development, with the startup business... I know people are going to reply to this with some reference to "but it is of intellectual interest!" -- but really, there are lots of different places on the Internet (thousands, maybe millions!) to discuss lots of different things. If you have begun to look at Hacker News as your sole source of news and information in the world -- of which such stories and their upvoting may be a sign -- you really need to diversify your life. It will be better for your health, and for your work.
It would be great if we could allow this place remain a silo of thought on technical and business matters, and seek out other places and people for other sorts of information and discourse.
Patiently waits to see browser usage trends once this rolls out...
Either way, it's good to finally see them moving forward.
I was so hoping for IE9 on XP as part of this process...
But as users, creators of highly customized workstations and rabid fans of particular development environments, doesn't it bother anybody but me, that the browser choice has been hijacked?
Sure, its just stupid Windows users, they don't care. Is that it?
Every IE UI is different, and they seem to be spiralling down is usability. I'm particular about optimizing my own time and changing UI to suit Microsoft's agenda is definitely going to piss me off.
Yes it would be a bit bloated, but the default install would probably be the one that just ran the latest version.
Perhaps staying on proprietary, native platforms that don't change as often is their best course in the future.
On the same note, it literally pisses me off how companies decide to intervene with my software installation. Allowing an "opt-out" is worth as much as Google allowing me to opt out of mapping my access point by renaming it.
We are observing a notable shift where personal(!) computers and devices are being turned into consumer devices that we have no control over. Not to speak about the privacy related side effects.
Please, please, please let there soon be a pro-version of Linux on the desktop before the support cycle of Snow Leopard runs out.
Maybe IE10 and up. Maybe.
Thank goodness that there is a strong traction behind HTML5 stack, and the industry as a whole is less reliant on Flash to deliver good UX.
Without Flash, the capability of these older browsers will be reduced, and I'm sure they will get abandoned at an even higher rate.
You can still opt out.
Of course if you do that, we may end up pushing Chrome Frame on you, through an exploit (I would, if it wasn't illegal).
Fuck MS for forcing us to deal with their crap.
Yet that is what government does, day in and day out. They regulate industries which work in ways they don't understand, and they do it primarily for political motivations.
The MPAA may want tools to fight piracy, but to politicians, who don't really care about piracy, this is an opportunity to have something to campaign on, and it gives the government more power.
More power means more prestige and more money for them, if not now, in their post career lives when they lobby, etc.
More regulations gives them more control over industry- the power to threaten to make the regulations even worse, or the threat that their opponent will do that if they don't get re-elected (so please give generously!)
I don't think these people are "well intentioned". They don't actually want to help anybody. Theft is already against the law. SOPA won't change that, it won't stop piracy, and its not criminalizing piracy.
No, they're politicians. And they're not even corrupt politicians. This is simply the nature of what they do. They pass laws, they shake down industry, and they get paid for passing ever more laws without regard for the impact of those laws.
Hell, when those laws cause massive destruction to the economy, what do they do? They turn around and say "Well, If we'd been able to pass the law I proposed, this wouldn't have happened! Here, we need to rush into force even more regulations to make sure this never happens again!"
There's a famous(?) libertarian author by the name of L. Neil Smith who's got a saying that's very applicable here:
"Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure."
I hope we stop SOPA. But the lesson I would hope a lot of you take away from this is that SOPA is not an isolated incident, it is one of thousands of incidents, most of which go by completely unmentioned each year, where the system works to undermine human rights and make people's lives worse. These guys aren't corrupt, the system is corrupt.
The constitution, in the enumeration clause and in the Bill of Rights, attempted to prevent this. The enumeration clause limits the powers of the federal government to only those enumerated in the constitution.
Regulation of the internet, or communications of any kind, is not an enumerated power of the Federal Government. This means that when the federal government does this, it is doing it without authorization. Further, the Bill of Rights forbids congress from engaging in censorship. SOPA clearly authorizes censorship so they're also in violation of the Bill of Rights.
These words in the constitution, in this day and age have very little teeth. The PATRIOT act runs afoul of them as well, but nobody has succeeded in getting it overturned.
The situation will continue to get worse. Even if SOPA is defeated-- this isn't the first attempt-- it will come back in a few years.
I think that the only possible solution is a technological one. I think that the only way to to fight them is with technology and disobedience to the very idea that they have the right to restrain speech or control the internet.
The courts will not help us, and they certainly won't, and every election is so stage managed that nobody who actually knows the difference between a domain name and an IP address will ever get elected.
Help us with technology, its our only hope!
At the same time, the background of lawmakers has increasingly narrowed.
In Australia, for example, it used to be commonplace for the Parliament to contain people whose first careers were as teachers, farmers, train drivers, engineers, small businessmen and so forth.
Not any more. Today it's an almost wall-to-wall collection of law students who were all groomed by party machines. Go to uni, join political club, graduate and work in minister's office/a union/a politically-connected law firm, get pre-selected at the local branch, elected to Parliament.
At no point has this person a) studied something other than law or b) held down an ordinary job or run a small business. I imagine the pattern is similar elsewhere.
And so our law making bodies are filled with folk whose main skill is forensic disputation. This is problematic when technical debates are held because politicians are often mistrustful of experts outside their circle of loyalty -- because for any expert I can procure, someone else can get an expert to say the opposite.
Having experts inside the circle of trust is golden. The classic example is the banning of CFCs. Margaret Thatcher's undergraduate degree was in chemistry and so she understood the mechanisms. In turn she was able to assure Regan that the phenomenon was real and serious and the rest is history.
I have for some time toyed with the idea of forming a non-partisan organisation whose purpose is helping STEM professionals to get elected. Please contact me by email (check my profile) if you are interested.
He makes the point that virtually no average citizens support this (either they're against it or they don't know anything about it.) People often worry that congress fails when they can't agree on anything, but this makes me think that the time to really worry is when they do agree. When they disagree, they're at least probably mirroring the electorate.
SOPA will cause rampant censorship of the internet... in the United States.
I am a US citizen, currently living in the US, and I hate this, but even so, it makes me feel better to remember that there's a big, big world outside our borders. If the US flies off the rails on this, I fully expect the rest of the world to shrug and move on. The internet and the Americans have been closely intertwined since the beginning but I don't expect it will always be that way. The America that created the internet is more or less gone now. Its time for the rest of the world to step up.
Where it got interesting is when Mel Watt came out and said "We all know that everyone in this room on both sides has enough resources to pull in experts that will aid their side of the argument equally, so we're going to get into the same mess we did when we talk about derivatives being the most evil things on earth by one party and the saving grace by another". Good point, but the difference here is that not all parties that are for SOPA have purely financial incentives as the banks did.
So I was a bit confused when later on I was hearing a lot of "No"s. Had I missed the vote for that amendment and they were voting on something else? Nope. They were just denying common sense.
I'm not even sure how they would do it on a per domain basis. What about subdomains? One guy posts something on his Tumblr and all the Tumblr's go down? I'm sure they have no idea what that means and would just say "take down all the sites!"
On another note, though I don't mind the term generally, I was annoyed by them referring over and over to "nerds". "I'm not a nerd", "Bring in the nerds"âŠ It's fine in some contexts but in the context of discussing a law, I think "technical experts", "people who have a clue" is more appropriate.
"Two per cent of the people of the United States own sixty per cent of the property of the United States. Yet they produced none of it. By legislation, by craft and cunning, by control of Congress and the courts, they took to themselves what others produced. Sixty-six per cent of the people of the United States own five per cent of the property of the United States. Yet they produced all of the wealth and have none of it. Why do not the producers of this wealth have what they produce? Because the making of the laws and the control of the courts is in the hands of those who do not work, and this has been true from the beginning of the Government. The convention which framed the Constitution of the United States was composed of fifty-five members. A majority were lawyersâ"not one farmer, mechanic or laborer. Forty owned Revolutionary Scrip. Fourteen were land speculators. Twenty-four were money-lenders. Eleven were merchants. Fifteen were slave-holders. They made a Constitution to protect the rights of property and not the rights of man, and, ever since, Congress has been controlled by the property owner, and has framed laws in their interests and their interests only, and always refused to frame any laws in the interest of those who produce all the wealth and have none of it."
TRIUMPHANT PLUTOCRACYby Senator Richard F. Pettigrew, 1921pg.407
"There ought to be a law, I think, that in order to regulate something you have to have some understanding of it."
Ne'er were truer words written. Why on earth do we allow people who have no real understanding of technology to regulate it so closely? It's a train wreck in the making, one you'll be hard pressed to avoid should this bill get approved.
Like the "Patriot" Act they have no clue what exactly they are voting on, and I don't think they care, they are doing what they are bribed to do. The hearing is just theater, it's meaningless, they've already decided to get in on the take.
Edit: some reps against sopa, for an open internet:
I am amazed at how most of the committee do not want to hear from experts, and ignore the facts with a quick dismissal like "Oh, I'm not a nerd, I don't understand, but what I do know is that piracy is theft and we must stop it.".
How can they not listen to the experts?
EDIT: Here's a livestream http://www.justin.tv/unearthed365#/w/2249527504
- Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, 20:15 (http://www.justin.tv/unearthed365/b/302702510?)
I would like to vote any of them that may be in my district out of office as soon as possible.
But what does that mean for Hackers? I think with enough work we could make a network off of the regulated lines. I live in a rather sparse city and even now I can throw a ball far enough to hit the next techy over. Push comes to shove we could have a mini network several blocks wide that doesn't touch a single www link.
Wireless is almost ready, security is probably the biggest issue right now but the technology is available, just not affordable. But what about the tech giants against the SOPA? If "push comes to shove" would they fund a new network that has less control?
Then at what point is the government allowed to intervene? If a sizable network was built from the ground up separate from the internet are they allowed to slap down regulations? I want to say no because they didn't fund it, but then at the same time what's really stopping them? If they're able to throw SOPA through, convincing these dweebs that a private uncontrolled network is not worthy of SOPA2.0 would not be difficult to do.
Can I get some hacker-friendly input? I know a lot of us here are software oriented but I'm certain I'm not the only one that lurks this site with background in network provisioning.
In business you would work your way up. Employee >> Supervisor of Employees >> Manager with budgets >> Area Manager >> Country Manger >> CEO. You gain responsibility as you go. MP's do not have this. They fall into a job which they are almost never qualified for. Some do OK. However.. if you look closely at the majority you will see mistakes that anywhere else would see them fired.
In the states these dubiously qualified MP's are now looking to legislate an global network as a single nation... I am sure that some of them cannot even comprehend what the Internet is.
Without regulation the Internet would be monopolized by big business and criminals will prey on your children.
Good thing the State is there to protect us. Don't forget to pay your taxes, and have a happy holidays!
It was frighteningly manipulative.
patriot act has already passed.
As I see it, the biggest problem gripping our country right now is a refusal to understand someone else's point of view and come to a reasonable solution that is pretty good for everyone. All we seem to have are multiple sides shouting over each other, simultaneously ignoring everyone else and complaining that no one is listening to them. It is as though somewhere along the way we forgot how to be reasonable adults and have normal conversations. People cease to be caricatures when you understand their concerns and motivations.
I agree that some of the SOPA proposals are way out of line, and I also agree that people passing laws without a full understanding of the ramifications are not helping matters. But we also are not helping matters by trying to oversimplify everything and fit everyone and everything into neat little boxes. That's simply not how the world works.
There's no fundamental reason why Google can't provide media companies and luxury goods manufacturers with easy tools to report issues of copyright and counterfeit goods. Sure, it will cost development money that should be borne by those who stand to gain from the tools, but those are details. The point is, working together we actually have a chance to solve problems. Shouting past each other and appealing to authority (read: lobbying Congress) is never going to solve anything.
So let's try to understand the problems and work together to solve them. It's ludicrous to expect that kind of behavior from our politicians but not to exhibit it ourselves.
In the new Steve Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson quotes Steve on why he didn't let his parents come to his school's campus: "I didn't want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted to be like an orphan who had bummed around the country on trains and just arrived out of nowhere, with no roots, no connections, no background."
Interesting how powerful people manipulate the story of how they got to be where they are. Speaking of which, I was raised by wolves.
The NK brand of communism is just a thin veil for the old dynastic feudal caste society that Korea traditionally was. This is just how the country was for over 2 millennia. The north, especially due to its easily defensible mountainous terrain, has always played a pivotal role in keeping larger more powerful threats from absorbing the whole. Considering its history it sheds some light into understanding their extreme xenophobia.
Westerners always raise the question, why don't the people rise up against the injustice? This is a culture steeped in confucianism, the patriarch is supreme and group cohesion and harmony is of higher importance than the needs of an individual. Even linguistically, social order is embedded into the language with many different levels of honorifics for different rank and class.
A little off-topic but just my 2 cents.
The Caste System:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Korean_caste_system
I don't know, it seems like denial and rationalization. A dictator got his family killed(possibly tortured before killing them), there is nothing he can do about it, so he is trying to find solace by believing he doesn't want Kim Jong Il hurt; and to justify why he thinks so, he is imagining good and innocence, when none exists.
He is well aware of things Kim Jong Il did to his family and common masses, and yet he is trying to imagine good in him - I can't find a rational explanation for his line of reasoning.
Evil dictators are evil - so are all the people that do their little part to help him because they cannot find anything wrong with doing their little job as best they can.
But so is a mindless military in ANY country who sign on to take directions to kill other people at the behest of a single leader that they aren't supposed to question.
I don't know about you guys, but reading his story is really sad. It's like a whole country, with limitless human potential, is developmentally frozen.
Maybe i am just ignorant of how difficult it is or the attempts done.
Accounts I've read of what happens immediately after a [survivable] plane crash are similar. Many physically uninjured passengers will just continue to sit in their seats, waiting to be told what to do, even if the plane's on fire. Another sizeable minority act through their roles as if the plane had made a successful landing; stand up to grab their carry-on luggage, then form an orderly queue. Only around 10-20% actually behave appropriately (that is, follow the emergency evacuation drill, without guidance: pop the emergency hatches and get the hell out of the danger zone without encumbering themselves).
We are creatures of habit; we have great difficulty accepting the existence of an immediate and potentially lethal threat to our existence, so some of us behave as if it simply isn't there. (Which is why it takes training to instill the right reflexes for dealing with abnormal situations.) And even among those who unfreeze and start moving again, the impulse to revert to "normal" behaviour can be overwhelming.
It seems cliche, but there is a fundamental truth to the fact that most westerners are simply unaware of what the "I fear for my bodily integrity" sensation is and does to your life. OP's newly-discovered appreciation of how crowded buses present a potential security threat is a great example. It isn't that you suddenly see your life in a whole new light, it's that you regard various mundane things with a new, orthogonal parameter: is this situation more likely to result in harm to me?
Like all things, eventually you become inured and looking at a situation from a security perspective becomes a routine thought passing through your head along with "shit, I forgot to pay the gas bill." Without getting into Israel/Palestine, this is a slice of what living in Israeli society is roughly like.
I was on a train when they started evacuating a station, and I was praying to myself that the train leaves the station quickly in case the evacuation was for a bomb. Little did I know the bombs were on the trains themselves and not in the station, but my initial reaction was to get out of that station and to get out of the train network and away from public places and crowds as quickly as possible. This article helps explaining this thought process to me.
I worked in 1 WTC and was about to get into the elevator when the first plane hit on 9/11. I was outside on the corner when the second plane hit.
When my head started to clear some time later--a week? two?--the clearest thought I had was: if my last act as a human had been connecting a data input form to a database table, it would have been a tremendous waste of my life.
Shortly thereafter I entered a new career and a new trajectory through life. The last 10 years have been amazing.
Living with the visceral awareness that sudden death is possible has changed me in many ways. Mostly for the better.
I do have some symptoms of PTSD. Low-flying planes freak me out intensely, as do sudden loud noises and low vibrations strong enough to shake things.
On balance, though, it has catalyzed tremendously positive change in my life. I'm glad that you've been able to make the same of it.
Cheers to being alive.
(Bizarrely, I was also in London on 7/7. A bomb squad truck nearly ran me over (on my bike) going the wrong way down the road near Liverpool St. station, and my wife was very nearly on the Hackney Wick bus.)
I had a similar experience with the tricks the mind can play after a bad car accident a few years ago. Although I didn't know it at the time, I had broken almost everything except my left arm and neck. But I could quite plainly see that my right femur bent in an unnatural curve like a floppy puppet's leg. Yet still I insisted that the rescuers couldn't phone my wife because she was 7mths pregnant and had gone back to bed that morning after feeling sick.
Subconciously, my brain was thinking I shouldn't bother her with this and I'd be patched up and home for dinner. I just couldn't process the obvious inputs like a normal rational person.
Also, although I remained concious throughout, I don't remember much of the incident and had no idea how they got me out of the car until I saw the police photos. The mind is a strange thing.
I've noticed first hand as both a first-responder & bystander the different ways people react. It's broadly in 2 categories, those paralysed by the automatic Fear/Flight/Freeze response and those Individuals who shape the instinctual response with a trained response, overriding the Survival Stress Reaction  most people exhibit. You see 2 groups of people: those frozen by instinct and others who run towards trouble. People who are trained to respond run towards trouble.
The story Dan has written is a natural human story telling response to traumatic events. Re-telling the story(s) lets you make sense of what has happened and re-gain control over their own destiny. Safety is also being sought here. Control, safety & the knowledge you won't die.
Which brings me to my next point. Not everyone wakes up thinking, today's the day I'm going to be injured or killed then watch other people get injured or killed? Police, Ambo's, firemen, soldiers are exposed to this threat every day. They train hard and have the necessary support structures (sort-of) to survive. Civilians don't, so Scar stories of survival fulfil an important role.
People who have been in situations such as @swombat as a civvie or @mattdeboard in the military or @idan living in a potentially dangerous environment, the key thing they are striving for is to feel and be safe. Being safe is something you don't know you have until it's not there.
 SSR or Survival Stress Reaction is where "a state where a âperceived' high threat stimulus automatically engages the sympathetic nervous system.", Siddle.,B. "Sharpening the Warriors Edge: The Psychology & Science of Training"http://www.amazon.com/Sharpening-Warriors-Edge-Psychology-Tr...
Thanks again for putting something horrible like a bombing in perspective. I'm glad to hear you came out of it stronger on the other end.
I was playing hooky from school, in a flat in Kings Cross, with my then-girlfriend, after a very late night. I was alerted to what had happened around 10am, when I answered the phone on perhaps the 7th ring, figuring I was in trouble for sciving.
I think my mum had already started planning my funeral by that stage. There's probably a decent chance that, had I gone to school, given my lateness, I might have been a bit closer to the action - the moral of which I take to be "skipping school saved my life"
Looking back now, I remember how the sense of relief I felt very quickly turned to a sense of despair and numbness, as more and more pictures came on the TV and more details emerged. The entire city was bleeding, but in a very strange way, much like what the writer of this post describes, a kind of zombie-like state where everything feels disconnected.
Funny thing, I was carrying a sandwich I just bought and got pretty upset when paramedic stepped on the bag where the sandwich was!
I ask because I don't think, in the same situation, I would have been able to resist it, and I honestly have no idea what effect that sight might have.
When you do feel fear on public travel now (and I guess it was even worse in the past), what goes on in your mind? Is it one of those things where you know really that your worry is foolish but you can't help yourself, or is your entire brain telling you that you could be in trouble?
I remember a few years ago (2006) seeing two very large military transport aircraft flying incredibly close together, very low, and directly towards the building I was in (on the 10th floor). I literally stopped mid sentence - they obviously turned away and went on to the nearby RAF base but for a while my brain just seemed to freeze. After the event, I felt a bit of a fraud and worried people might think I'd done it for dramatic effect, but it was totally involuntary - I just sat, motionless looking out the window for about 5 seconds.
Many people who experience something like this never find the lesson from these experiences as you have, instead ending up with PTSD or similar; I hope that our governments can begin to respond more humanely to tragedies like this and help those who aren't able to find their own path out of fear with counseling and other assistance.
Our response to terrorism over the years has largely been one of fighting the threat (and understandably so). We should add to it a response of compassion for those who, through misfortune, find themselves harmed mentally in a way that most of society cannot understand.
1) Instead of using the full color pixel image, use an "edge image" with some simple additional normalizations. If color is important, do this per color channel.
2) Create a dataset with as many cropped examples of the target object as you can find (mechanical turk is useful for annotating large datasets); every other crop of every image is a negative example.
3) Train a classifier (SVM if you want it to work, neural network if you're so inclined) using this dataset.
4) Apply the classifier to all subwindows of a new image to generate hypotheses of the target object location. This can be sped up in various ways, but this is the basic idea.
5) Post-process the hypotheses using context (can be as simple as simply finding the most confident hypotheses within a neighborhood).
If you're interested in object detection, an excellent recent summary of the recent decade of research is due to Kristen Grauman and Bastian Leibe: http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00332ED1V01Y2... (do some googling if you don't have access to this particular PDF).
A cool paper from a few months ago that should be mentioned when commenting on a post called "Where's Waldo?" is http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/rahul/data/WheresWaldo.ht...
There's a danger of overfitting, where a technique works for one instance (or a subset of instances), but not in general. Detecting stripes could work in general, but as a SO commenter noted, "Where's Wally" images often include spurious stripes to undermine this detection strategy for humans.
I was impressed until I read that--the guy is basically fitting the model/procedure to the training set (of size 1). I'd wait for a more general approach before accepting the answer.
Template matching is your friend in this case, because most Waldos look similar. You already tried this in a basic way by searching for the stripes of a given color. You can make it more powerful by making the template include more properties, and work in more contexts. For instance: what if Waldo's a different size?
The other option is to pretend you don't know what Waldo looks like, find him in a bunch of images, label the subimages as "waldo" candidates, measure certain properties of those subimages, and find which of coordinates of feature space have similar properties. Then use these properties as your template.
Finally, you could train a classifier on subwindows like sergeyk suggested. This has some difficulty because where's waldo images are difficult to subdivide into subwindows on the scale of a single person. Do you move pixel by pixel? Do you divide it into a grid? Each grid will contain weird parts of people in each box. Etc. If you do find a way to divide the image into "people" -- perhaps by doing a preliminary "person"-template sweep that identifies locations of people in the image -- then you can use a supervised learning algorithm to say "yes, this person is waldo" or "nope, FRWONG!", based on the image properties in the subwindow around that person.
A good solution to this would get close, then calculate the probabilities of every "maybe-waldo" and then display the one with the highest probability of being Waldo. An augmented reality app that highlighted Waldo on every page would be awesome.
For example: why doesn't Lego sell to girls? Why doesn't Barbie have more realistic features? Why don't car manufacturers offer an electric vehicle? Why doesn't McDonalds sell salads instead of fries? Why do record labels offer such crappy music?
It's easy to blame the companies -- but in reality it's very hard for a single company to change the macro culture that informs their product decisions. If you want to find the root cause, look at the users and ask why they demand the products they do. In this case: "why are so few parents buying Legos for their girls?" or "why do girls feel a stigma about playing with Legos?"
From the NPR article linked to from the article above: "Lego also consciously aimed for boy customers when it embarked on its stunning turnaround. Boys were easier to sell to than girls."
"The new Lego girl minifigures have names like Stephanie, Olivia, and Emma, and the building sets include a veterinary clinic, a hairdressing salon, a horse academy and a clinic."
We need more women scientists, girl geeks, etc. And for every person who loves to say "But boys and girls are just different!", there's a stunning example of sexist stereotypes embedded in the very things we buy our kids because our generation cherished them too...
(By the way, if you ever want a conclusive argument that girls being raised to love pink and hate math is societal, not genetic, read "Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference". It's pretty eye-opening, and has plenty of proof to back up its assertions.)
(There, I fixed it for you!)
The trend towards highly gendered media-tie in toys that are designed to generate follow-on sales opportunities for accessories rather than to encourage kids to develop their imagination through semi-structured but open-ended play nauseates me. I am doubtless betraying my personal bias here, but the corporate discovery that the quickest way to a parent's wallet is through their offspring is a bleakly exploitative example of market amorality; it may be legal, but is it decent?
It appears to consist of 3 things:
- realistic looking minifigs. Not square and not oversexed.
- additional brick colors, and not just pink.
- sets not based on movie tie-ins, but in real-world locations like an inventor's workshop, a cafĂ©, an animal hospital and a beauty salon
These look like the perfect toys for young girls -- they encourage both creativity and role-playing. And as the latest science-based parenting books (Welcome to Your Child's Brain, etc) tell you, role-playing is the best way to develop self-control, which is the most valuable skill that can be imparted into a pre-schooler by a parent.
Sure, they're girly. So what? I want my girls to grow up proud to be girls, and aware that they can be whatever they want to be.
But to my mind, they seem better than most of the "boy" Lego sets out there, which appear to be much less repurposable, and are blatant commercial tie-ins or weapons of war.
But it's a model kit. We will put it together once and we will play with it a lot and that will be that. It won't get remixed, won't get hacked. Eventually it'll come apart and be put away and not rebuilt because 1000 pieces is a pain in the ass.
This doesn't make any sense to me. Why on earth wouldn't you mix those pieces in with the rest of the pieces you already have from sets you've already disassembled? Sure, the marketing is a little much these days but unless I am sadly mistaken all the pieces still fit together like they did 30 years ago.
The kid's got a ton of LEGO. The last thing she needs is more LEGO, but it's hands-down her favorite toy. She builds the sets and will play with/admire them for a while, then eventually all of the pieces get dumped into the Giant Bucket of LEGO, which is a huge 30gal bucket overflowing with bricks from sets we've bought her, and from my childhood and my husband's childhood (though oddly lacking in wheels). That's the beauty of LEGO and that huge mish-mash of a dozen sets works for any gender.
Maybe it's the fact that I already have a geek child who's into geek things (She's also getting a D&D red box this Christmas, per her request), but the marketing doesn't seem to have any effect on her. She just sees sets that she thinks looks cool and wants to buy them. I don't think that list would include veterinary clinics and pet spas from this new pinkification effort, either.... but even if it does, so what? You still end up with a bucket of mixed pieces for hours of endless, free-form creativity and building.
I do think that there are more sets available these days that are targeted toward boys, but I don't know that it's come at the expense of other options. You can still buy basic brick sets. There are still several items in the City series that aren't "cops and robbers" and things like the Mars Mission and Pharaoh's sets, or even the Harry Potter sets are no more boy-centric than the old LEGO space stuff used to be.
Much of that is lost with movie-themed Legos. If a kid sees Star Wars and then goes to get the Star Wars Lego set, then the Luke Skywalker figure will always be Luke Skywalker, and the Vader figure will always be Vader, and you'll always need a Millenium Falcon around to join the party. Media tie-ins seem to greatly restrict (though of course not totally destroy) the potential for a kid to make up his own adventure. The universe is already imagined for you; in a sense, you become a participant, not a creator.
I think my friend decided to retheme as an S&M brothel.
N.B. You can remember the right spelling by recalling that a millennium is a thousand (mille) years (anni).
The very ad he's mentioning targets parents not children. Marketing for toys used to be targeted at parents.
But not anymore - there are cartoon TV stations airing all day, filled with commercials for shitty toys. Then the child sees these toys in stores and starts crying. Parent gives up and buys them. End of story.
Branded, themed Lego sets simply sell really well and Lego is responding to the demand with increased capacity and more focus on these markets.
Here is a scenario of why it works: Visualize a parent and child walking down the toy aisle at a typical large retailer (e.g. Target, WalMart, ToysRUs, etc.). The shelves are full of dozens of single-focus, low cost, electronic toys that are flashy and are very appealing to kids. A big box of Lego bricks just doesn't provide the same instant gratification as a talking toy with a "demo" button. Although, the long-term value of the box of Lego bricks is clearly much higher, explaining that to a 4 year-old is very difficult as they are concurrently making a strong appeal for, an even cheaper, talking doll.
Lego has responded with purchasing shelf space in retailers for branded sets that offer instant gratification while also satisfying the parents need for a more creative toy. Regardless, most of the pieces from the branded sets end of in the "big box" of Legos :).
(And, it's not a bad skill to be able to follow instructions. I hear people on forums like HN complaining about how difficult it is to build IKEA furniture. If they played with LEGO when they were a kid, they'd probably be able to build their bookshelf too :)
I've never given any 'themed' lego, just the plain stuff, no minifigs or other non constructive bits.
Lego is what made me see the power of building using re-usable blocks, the best possible primer for becoming a programmer that I am aware of outside of maths (and you typically don't start math beyond counting when you're a toddler).
If you follow the NPR article linked in the article, you'll see that Lego clearly did their homework before embarking on this new line. In light of this, I think it's odd for them to be accused of reinforcing stereotypes when their research showed that this is how (most) girls like to play.
I do think it's sad that we now have 'boy-lego' and 'girl-lego', but (for the moment), that appears to be appropriate for the world we live in. Maybe some of those girls will want to do more than just play with handbrushes and handbags and check out the Technics or Mindstorms. Who knows.
NPR article: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/15/143724644/ith-new-toys-lego-ho...
LEGO product lines: http://www.lego.com/en-us/products/default.aspx
I say still, because it is a family business and it seems those who would have gone on to run it have left the family tradition and are now much more interested in enjoying their wealth (which is considerable, in that they are one of the richest families in Denmark).
They would be the fourth generation, so I guess it was bound to happen. At least my children should be able to cut their teeth on Legos.
Why is it we never hear anyone decrying the 'awful gender imbalance' in Human Resources, Nursing and Teaching?
They are almost infinitely better. They are incredibly open ended, and can be used to build some very complex stuff.
You complain that a 5000 piece lego set is movie themed, when the only thing movie themed are the minifigs and the box it came in.
As kids every single lego set we had was built into the "model" precisely once, and then dumped in with the rest of the lego. We kept the instructions, but would never rebuild the original set. That's hardly the point of Lego.
As an adult I have a huge collection of Star Wars lego sets, including the Imperial Star Destroyer and Death Star. When my son is old enough (he's not yet 3), they'll get dismantled and put in a bucket all together. From that day on they WILL be generic lego pieces. The fact that they came in a Star Wars box is then irrelevant.
The model kits all suck. I went and bought $15 tubs of the wall of bricks recently and my kids get far more use from those random pieces than they do kits.
The Lego Belville sets are similar and are still sold today. Here is the Pony Trekking set from 1997: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=5854-1
It's possible to go even further back in time for more stunning displays of sexism. In 1971 many sets had photos of kids on them. There was a boy pushing a truck or putting together a car. Now guess what the only sets with girls on them were. A kitchen and a living room: http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=261-4
All that does't make it better. Yes, this is a problem that has to be remedied. But it is not a recent development.
In general I have to say that Lego improved massively since the dark ages (late 90s and early 2000s). I was just looking at some new Lego Creator sets and blown away by them. You couldn't get cool stuff like that during my (late) childhood (i.e. late 90s and early 2000s). I still loved the heck out of Lego during my childhood but today's sets are just cooler.
Those of us who are parents of young children now may remember the days in school when they taught us basic programming as part of computer training (either logo or basic, for example) which put us on the path to learning how to get the computer to do stuff we wanted it to do instead of consuming pre-made stuff on it. In today's world, a large amount of what's offered to kids is stuff that tied in to TV shows or movies, with little interest in helping develop the next generation of makers.
Sadly, LEGO's initial downfall was because it try to keep on focusing on the makers and its resurgence was on the back of pre-made, pre-imagined tools: when a kid is given a star wars or harry potter set, he/she is now letting his/her imagination run wild but is constrained by the pre-established story lines set in place by Hollywood (because let's face it, the tie-ins are to movies, not books).
The sad part is that the long term impact of this may be that it creates grown-ups further down the line who will feel that laws like SOPA are OK.
I still have this guy hanging on my tree:http://www.1000steine.com/brickset/images/1627-1.jpg
Also, what nonsense is this that you won't make anything with the millenium falcon because 1000 pieces is too many? What garbage. How can lego possibly fix the issue that you refuse to make anything else with a set with lots of pieces?
Anyway, lego sets aren't atomic - buy a lego set, play with it, then mix it with your other stuff. You've just waxed lyrical about an ad where you can 'just make stuff', right after refusing to do so with a large set, with no real reason given.
Yes LEGO make LEGO "sets" that make a specific model. They also make a ton of generic building sets which teach you a ton of stuff. They even have walls of bricks in the shops where you can pick and choose which individual bricks you need.
If you don't like the specific building sets, don't buy those ones.
Every so often some people start moaning about how Lego is not the same as it was in their day. Stop whining.
(I've been a massive Lego fan for the last 30 years).
Oh and AWESOME NEWS! New DC sets coming in January! Now we can have Batman Lego sets again!!!!!
Of course, LEGO still sells the general-purpose sets with instruction books to show you how to construct dozens of different buildings/vehicles/etc. My son prefers those, but every kid is different.
The No Girls Allowed theme is pretty easy to explain: mass-market films of the type that will have product tie-ins are almost universally aimed at boys, and LEGO is simply downstream from that trend.
There are toys that give kids' imaginations some exercise, and there are those that, like video games and Harry Potter LEGO sets, don't deliver quite the same workout. It's up to you to cultivate in your child a healthy appetite for the former.
EDIT: I would add that the Toy Story movies do a good job of echoing the nostalgia that adults feel for those older, simpler toys. My son and my affection for those movies has in some way conditioned us to stretch our imaginations and breathe new life into old toys.
I've never liked the Lego kits (even as a kid) for the reasons already mentioned. You build them once and then the (building) creativity is gone. Give me a pile of 4x2 bricks any day.
1. yes and after you buy that specific-model-guns-ships set you can (b) build anything you want with it; (b) build model put on shelf never touch (or play with it); (c) build model then tear it apart and use pieces to make something from your imagination, etc. there are no rules. there are both generic brick-like pieces and special-purpose pieces and they can be put together in literally millions of ways, and now you can even see and share photos on the web, both for ideas and showing off.
2. girls really are different from boys, overall, and in the general case; I've lost track of the number of males I've known that like/liked LEGO and the number of girls/women that were like, "meh"; and I've seen first-hand, with my own eyes, over and over again, that my young nieces LOVE to play with dolls and dresses and princesses and jewelry, whereas LEGO's and guns? meh
LEGO is like a shining beacon in a sea of sludge and noise, in terms of educational value for kids and long-term replayability into adulthood, compared to most other toys. Criticizing LEGO is a bit like criticizing Michael Jordan for missing some shots in a game. It's Michael Jordan, mmkay?
Instructions show you how to build what's on the box. You are not required to do that, nor are you even required to buy LEGO at all.
I've built space ships and air planes and monsters. I think I even built a Starship Enterprise once. But designing the things yourself is part of the process.
When my nieces were prime Lego age, at the advice of their mother, I did look at some kits, but was horrified at the prices. The bricks are pricy enough. I converted my money into tubs of bulk bricks. You can never have enough bricks.
(Now I did make some Tinker-Toy machines from company plans, but only enough to understand the principle. I then adapted them to my own nefarious purposes. I did the same with balsa wood flying model airplanes later.)
They're built with pretty much all standard pieces (though not necessarily standard colors).
My kids have gotten their share of Star Wars and Harry Potter themed Lego over the years, and in every case the original set was eventually taken apart - usually bit by bit in a kind of salvage operation for needed parts - and incorporated into the Lego bin. Once the pieces go into general circulation, they're used to build an arbitrary collection of original ships, buildings and so on.
As a kid, the only cars I really remember were the ones with the small base (3x4 with an elevated segment for the tiny wheels). When I rediscovered legos, I noticed that many sets have larger base plates (for larger vehicles) -- width 6 stubs.
And the pick-a-brick are surprisingly deep in terms of shapes and sizes (I definitely don't remember the curved translucent pieces designed to emulate glass).
Our daughter enjoys building too.
So basically LEGO tries to sell to people who will not hack on the LEGO with very cool models but provides formidable tools if you want to hack your own LEGO.
You can even submit your own models if I'm correct.
The same rule applies for yours nieces. And for the (female) friends of your children (If you really want to look more normal, you can buy the "pink" box.).
My 9 years old daughter has:
* Her own chemistry set
* An "X-100" microscopy (It is really of my wife.)
* A Meccano-like metalic cosnstruction set.
* A Snap Circuits Jr electronic Set.
And this year, one of her "Christmas" present is an Arduinos Sparkfun Professional Inventor's Kit, because she wants to make a robot, but she didn't want a robot kit. (I still don't know we will complete the robot, but the idea is to start with something simple and iterate.)
If you think that it is important to give your daughter a good scientific formation (or if you think that it is the only sensible way to raise a children), you can fight back.
To see another example, go to the Sylvia's Super-Awesome Maker Show! : http://sylviashow.com/
As a parent that spent over 16 hours assembling one last Christmas then watching it disintegrate again, the "joy" this gift brings cannot be described. A great present if you have a brother or sister with kids you feel compelled to annoy.
What I really connected with more in this article was the advent calendar with the cops and robbers. My wife told me a while back, "I got this cool lego advent calendar online". I was like, "cool!". Then I saw this cops and robbers theme and I told her, "Is this really what Christmas is about in the US now? <santa voice>Hey kids! Be careful out there as there are people that want to break into your house and steal your stuff!</santa voice>"
I know, I know... If I don't like it then don't buy it. I agree. I still think it's a strange advent calendar even though my son actually likes it.
The more open ended toys clearly have an advantage in terms of creativity, and most children have creativity to spare.
So, when I bought a set that's the one I chose. Now, I did have to wade through the other 30 brands to find it, but I was happy they still had at least one choice.
Now more people should buy these if the market wants it - but I'll agree these aren't marketed enough.
What I thought was that you could use any lego piece you want and add it to the set and use any lego figure and add it to the set and simply follow the same gameplay mechanics to a map limited only by your imagination. Let's play Heroica with Harry Potter pieces. Nope can't do that. You have to purchase their overpriced sets and only play what the sets let you do.
Looks like they're just looking for cash based off of numbers. Bummer.
My son is 11 months old. He's taken a liking to cars and balls, but he also loves his sister's Barbies. Particularly, he likes to pull their hair, but I think he's drawn to the (ahem, slight) humanness they possess. They look friendly.
Separating "boys' toys" from "girls' toys" is pretty much nonsense. Of course, older boys aren't going to want to play with Barbies. Not necessarily because they wouldn't enjoy it, but because they are marketed to girls, and, most importantly, they would get made fun of for doing so. Were it socially acceptable for boys to play with Barbies, I promise they would.
Realize that when we're shopping for toys for my daughter, the toy store is twice as big for her, because she's not aware that she isn't supposed to like action figures and rc cars.
I think the genderizing of colors is just crazy. What makes pink a "girl's color" and blue a "boy's color" ? I'm convinced it's just marking influence. Most girls' clothes are pinks and purples, and similar "girly" colors. With that, most of what my daughter wears is pink or purple. Of course she loves the colors; we drape her in them daily. She chose blue, green, and red for her bedroom, and we let her do that, instead of saying "No, no, those colors are for boys."
That, right there, is the problem. The people making the toys don't find value in making children happy or inspiring them to be creative/innovative; when all is said and done, girls are just another market.
Only basic blocks and let their skills do the rest, you'd be amazed what they can do.
Resolve is a much better emotion than outrage. What can I do to encourage better behavior? Buying good LEGO sets as presents for children and evangelizing about LEGO to friends spring immediately to mind. Or maybe getting involved with the 3D printing movement.
In summary, I'm suspicious that alternating between "intellectual curiosity" and "resolving to take action" is a much better way of reading articles on the internet than the alternate strategy of alternating intellectual curiosity and outrage.
My young sisters buildâŠ but they mostly just build very simple props and then play with the LEGO people like dolls, inventing dramas and friendships and the like.
It's the same set of LEGO bricks I used.
Is it evil to recognize this?
I always thought Lego was supposed to be gender agnostic
Especially his sand crawler. I really liked that
I am almost certain every letter any MPAA lobbyist sends to any congressman does not call the congressman a "jack-ass" in the second paragraph. Or any paragraph at all. I tentatively suggest we might have more success if we do the same.
What do congressmen want? Influence, votes and praise. What are we doing? Criticising ("stupid", "jackass", "corrupt", "ignorant") and telling them how to do their jobs. ("They should X, they should Y"). Naturally any congressman will feel defensive as soon as they read our "internet engineer" writing.
I propose a three point plan, to ensure the long-term security of our internet:
1. Tell congressman how important they are, because our personal freedoms and privacy are at risk, and they are the only ones who can protect us.
(Rather than important because they protect content owners from piracy, or being important because of some potential job at Universal when they retire)
2. Offer congressman the choice of being "Defender of personal freedom/privacy" vs "Distributor's stooge".
(Rather than champion of artists' rights vs protector of pirates)
3. Educate public of SOPA and tell congressman how many votes they are going to get by defending the public against the SOPA law that cracks down on small businesses on the internet, many of which are operated by your everyday man.
I'm sure every congressman, when first elected, thought to themselves about how they are going to change the way the government works and always represent the best interests of the people. I suggest we re-ignite this vision that exists in every congressman.
EDIT: I just realised I'm republican, with all my talk of "freedom", "privacy" and "small businesses". :)
Its not funny.
It should be as shameful and troubling as getting up and saying "I'm no 'student' and I don't know how to do this 'reading' thing, but here's what I think about books."
The fact remains that something like congress (a group of people to vote on literally everything we do) is required in a democracy, and "a group of people" is never going to know everything there is to know about everything.
There are probably a million farmers out there as well who strongly believe that congress should understand the genetic modification of seeds, for example.
The scary part is when you realize that they are statistically just as uneducated in many other areas that they take decisions in (especially those that might touch on scientific issues and require rigorous analysis: ecology, medecine, etc.) and there's not much done to prevent that.
Actually the tubes metaphor is closer (particularly regarding MPLS backbones) than people are willing to accept both because of the pipe metaphor (a socket being two pipes) and the use of label switching (which acts logically as a big series of pipes).
And along these lines, bandwidth was originally a technical term in plumbing.....
If congressmen/women can pass all manner of legislation without knowing how Medicine or Medical care works, How Car manufacturing works, How basic economics works, How Basic Science Research works, How Global climate works, etc, etc - Why should the Internet be a special case?
Face it Median Age at which Senators take office is 51* years (with a few exceptions) Ignoring all the special interests, Politics, etc etc - How many 51+ year olds (non -IT) are really comfortable with the Web?
It's quite acceptable to me for Congress not to know how technical stuff works. But they do need to pay attention to the input of their constituents and experts in the field. They also need to make sure constituents get enough information, in a timely manner, to allow them to advise Congress appropriately.
P.S. Why the endless mockery of the late Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens? (Because he said "tube" instead of "pipe"?)
Google makes more money than the entire opposition combined. Create a internet freedom pac, fill it with a few hundred million, hire a few lobbyists, and buy back the government.
It's no longer okay (and never has been) to listen to people who are paid to convince you to pass a law that benefits only them. Instead, you should listen to the people who know what they are talking about and aren't being paid.
-- essentially a web-based, but trustworthy dns service.
there are sites like
but they're presumably just doing a lookup on a us-based nameserver, we need a site that uses an uncensored server and that provides an http redirect.
Is there to be direct blocking of ip addresses at all? Will everyone nerdy in America just be able to change their OS DNS settings to something outside the US?
THAT is just outright stupid!
Actually, if they just outlawed lobbyists that would be a big start.
I don't think we can assume that any more. Not with every amendment being shot down with glee and contempt.
The American system is broken, get with the program.
All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One: never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two: take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it's absolutely necessary. And three: be nice. Come on. If somebody gets in your face and calls you a cocksucker, I want you to be nice. OK. Ask him to walk, be nice. If he won't walk, walk him. But be nice. If you can't walk him, one of the others will help you. And you'll both be nice. I want you to remember that it's a job. - It's nothing personal. - Uh-huh. Being called a cocksucker isn't personal? No. It's two nouns combined to elicit a prescribed response. What if somebody calls my mama a whore? Is she? (laughter) I want you to be nice... ..until it's time to not be nice. Well, how're we supposed to know when that is? You won't. I'll let you know.
(Oh, and by the way, I'm letting you know now when it's time to not be nice here: never.)
For example: I know for a fact that the various people who run HN use it to selectively market what they want, but maintain that it is some trust worthy news source for hackers. Since there's no way to distinguish between the astroturfed "top stories" advertising for YC companies and a real news story the entire forum becomes suspect. I consider this just as bad as trolling, except the leadership does it so people don't comment on it.
I've also seen huge double standards on here, again because people in charge can do whatever they want. They'll yell about ad hominem attacks and then do them two comments down. They'll post one-liner attack comments and call that "enlightened discourse", then call someone else's similar comment a "troll". Shit, people on here have outright called me a cocksucker and posted whole presentations vilifying me personally and nobody bats a wee little eyelash at it.
All of you are heavily manipulated on this forum and yet, here you are complaining about trolls? At least trolls can't hellban you to defend their little astroturf empire.
I am not seeing this any more on HN.
This is the second time I read this essay, and my concerns are still the same: people who have minority opinions might not be able to express them in such a polite way as to be considered "thoughtful" by the majority.
I'm a bit of a contrarian commenter. That's because forums such as this one naturally gravitate to extremes. The programmer who lost his dog, and suddenly everybody is looking for him. The news story that causes us to be concerned about an intrusive government, and suddenly everybody sees Nazis everywhere.
People in groups naturally gravitate towards extremes. Whether they are right or wrong, other people may choose to try to persuade them of their error (and most times, the crowd is wrong because it takes things too far). In a highly-emotional discussion, it is almost impossible to convince the crowd that they might be wrong, no matter how you phrase it. People who try this are called trolls by the definition I see here, and they don't belong in the same category as folks who aren't part of the group but drop in to throw rhetorical hand-grenades at the rest of us. Quick test: if there were topic on HN titled "Final proof that the Earth is Still Flat" that linked to a reputable source and all the commenters were in agreement (stretch your imagination a bit) could you comment in such a fashion to show thoughtful consideration of the majority's opinion yet ask for people to really think this over? If you can follow along in my thought experiment, you'll find this is not a very easy thing to do at all. Most folks would just throw out a snarky rejoinder.
In my opinion a bit of nuance is required in this essay which is not present. EDIT: J.S. Mill, is on the money here: "...He argued that even if an opinion is false, the truth can be better understood by refuting the error..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill#Views_on_freed... Note the conflict between how the real world has to act, and how the online community is desired to act by the site owner (and the majority opinion) The short-term interest of the site, perhaps "a happy majority pushing forward to a new understanding in a specific field of study" and the strategic interest of a well-functioning society are very much in conflict here. This is a hugely important point, and in my opinion PG does not recognize this except in passing.
In each case nothing I'd ever said would be considered trolling by any rational observer. Here on HN, however, as with most communities where you start to recognize the regulars (tptacek, raganwald, etc), "trolling" is redefined to simply mean "going against the grain".
There was one discussion that I participated where I predicted that Apple would see declining profit margins due to increased competition. Remarkably this completely benign, seemingly obvious observation saw me declared a troll, and shortly thereafter yet another account was hellbanned from HN (whatever the mechanism -- is this the verdict of a bored PG, or has he anointed some particularly under-employed members to apply it? -- it is horribly broken).
Troll is, more often than not, a term used to circle the wagons.
Wow, now it's more like 120,000. If I was already worried about the problem then (which I must have been if I took the time to write about it), I'm surprised the site is even usable now.
Trolls are important.
Trolling, especially as seen on places like slashdot/4chan/somethingawful/etc., can oftentimes be a mechanism of critique for ideas and rhetorical styles.
One of the best things about the 'net is that, frankly, none of this really matters. None of it. It's a big joke. My twitters and my wikis and my posts don't mean anything. They're bits in the stream. My karma is an int on a server somewhere, incremented and decremented by the whims of my fellow users.
Trolls can help remind all of us that hey, this is all light-hearted. They say outrageous things, they stir up trouble, they cause annoyance, they sully the pristine conditions of these high-minded realms of discourse.
In short, folks, they keep us all honest. They call us on our bullshit. And when a community takes itself so seriously that it becomes a habitat for trolls, it usually is a sign that that community needs to be dispersed, cleaned, and reformed elsewhere.
HN is a pretty cool place, and I hope it lasts a long while before ossifying and becoming infested with trolls.
Graffiti happens at the intersection of ambition and incompetence: people want to make their mark on the world, but have no other way to do it than literally making a mark on the world.
Let me propose, for what it's worth, that a "Banksy!" reply to a statement like the one above is the sort of accidental troll that invites the slow degradation into real trolls. Whether or not Banksy is graffiti or whether or not graffiti is art: these aren't the question of the submission. This isn't to say that tangents are always bad. It's rather that these sorts of discussions quickly turn in to "what color should we paint the dog house?"* That is: lots of firmly-held beliefs with little that can dissuade someone.
So: when posting why someone is wrong, first see if there's a small or trivial way in which you can 'fix' their point. If you can, their point wasn't really broken in the first place.
*I've long been trying to find the original 'why meetings go bad when you're talking about something everyone has an opinion on', but I can't. If anyone can help me out: much appreciated.
1) Devils advocate. People that interject with an opposing view, even one they don't believe. I often do this one myself cause another poster to go into deeper description. Often just asking for an deeper response will be ignored, but opposing a view will always bring out an argument.
2) Denial and Righteousness. Essentially nasty fan boys. People who have brought into a belief and refuse to acknowledge any second point of view at all. I had this explained at a trolling seminar at a hacking conference quite well and they picked on the audience themselves to explain how to manipulate IT people.
With most IT people they have the myers-briggs archetype finishing with --TJ. This means they are thinkers and judgmental. They will look at a problem, find the evidence, evaluate it, and make a judgmental decision on what is correct. The facts don't lie.
However the facts can be like quantum variables, you chang angles and then entire structure changes. Making judgmental calls leads to obvious one set of true factual analysis being completely wrong in another setting.
Challenging a judgmental person is challenging there core makeup. Saying they are wrong undermines there very basic personality, drawing on the opposing variable to "thinking" on the myers-briggs scale "feeling". So intelligent people do not react with intelligence first.
Instead of reacting with an "oh ok I didn't realize that was the case in your area" they respond with a protective "I don't think so Tim" and things go down hill from there, especially if the second person is also judgmental.
3) Tribalism. This is the us vs them mentality. Either you are with us or against us. A non ordained view/comment against a group of people who maybe self validating can be seen as a extremely contrasting. Becomes the group has created a false sense of security it can draw out primal responses (like feeling over thinking mentioned above) when that sense of security is threatened.
Many groups become polarising and when confronted with opposing views become more and more fundamental, close ranks. This often forms tight knit groups but also leads to a side effect of making everyone an enemy, including people with in the group who aren't are right as they should be, or people with neutral opinions.
There was an article I read a week or two go about how to talk skeptically to people. If I can find it I'll post it. It addresses how to oppose a view and avoid the bottom two responses.
I'm not sure that anonymity or distance are the driving factors in online trolling. Most of the assholes I know have no problem saying mean spirited things when they're standing right next to me. I think the bigger issue is that it's easy for me to avoid those assholes in real life. In an online setting, I can't see them coming and they are Legion...for every one that we vote down, two more will rise up to take its place.
I understand Paul's frustration, but I don't know if we'll be able to find a technical solution. I think this is just one of the drawbacks (balanced by many benefits) of unfiltered communication.
I find unsubstantial / uninteresting / obvious / superfluous comments (like "I love it!" <send>) worse than very controversial or insulting comments. As long as the general information in the forum stay interesting and enjoyable.
Also isn't the "naughtiness" (some pg essay used that word I think) part of what some of the best contributors here have in common? And aren't entrepreneurs trolls, too, according to the OP's definition?
They disagree with something, they choose a path that is more fun than an ordinary life, they want to leave a mark.
I for one think on the whole conversation is still good and worthwhile checking out :)
After points stopped being shown on comments this point seems ironically moot.
Any chance of getting them back? Personally I think it's the worst decision in the history of HN.
I put up a forum online for people in my journalism class. They're nice people, but something about the fact that the conversation was online turned the discussion into something pretty dumb.
My hope is that people who grow up with the internet their whole lives will realize that you still have to be civil online. It's no different than real life, yet no one is teaching you manners online.
First I saw HN as something to have an intelligent discussion, but after a few "controversial" posts, and having negative karma, I don't bother. I only post something when I think it's "safe" to post, or when I have time to write a detailed essay.
I think some people can have an intelligent discussion on HN, not for me, maybe because of my dyslexia I'm bad with words. But then again, maybe that's the price to pay to keep the trolls away.
(Normal Person) + (Anonymity) + (Audience) = (Total Fuckwad)
I think that in programming forums the biggest source of trolling is due to clueless people that still want to say something... in the real world they would be put at the door, but you can't do this in a forum, and even after a ban it is too simple to re-enter.
The simplest form of protection about this is to associate a cost to username creation in a forum. Even 5$ is enough. This time the ban is a real cost for the troller that will likely stop after the first 5$ rounds.
Another widely used form of "cost" is badges, that is, you start with an account that can do very little and it takes time (and a good comportment) to grow in features. However there is the risk of trolls opening N accounts in parallel just to have reserves of usernames, so it is also very important to penalize non used accounts.
Back in late 2009 I built a forum that allowed every user to temporarily ban any other user. There were restrictions... bans lengths were temporary (and voted on democratically), expiring after the voted time limit, you could only ban a person you replied to, and everyone would be able to see that you were the person who banned the parent post. Other than that, the forum was completely anonymous, and it was able to regulate large numbers of trolls (mostly from 4chan). They seemed to appreciate the equality and the natural regulation.
Anyway, he's wrong on several accounts:
> Trolling tends to be particularly bad in forums related to computers
This really makes me wonder what other forums that aren't related to computers PG frequented, probably not very many. Let's see, there's forums related to wicca, libertarians (the nutty kind), religion/spirituality, failed startups, "magick", seduction, conspiracy freaks ... all those topics attract significantly more trolls than computer related forums. Both of the "broader" definition ("assholes") and the sports trolling type.
> There's a sort of Gresham's Law of trolls: trolls are willing to use a forum with a lot of thoughtful people in it, but thoughtful people aren't willing to use a forum with a lot of trolls in it.
This is just false. Of all the forums I've seen, the two most thoughtful and intelligent communities just happened to be largely made up of trolls and people very familiar with trolling. It's because they won't stand bullshit and call people on it. Regular forums or forums that can't really deal with trolls always tend to plateau on a certain level of intelligence and thoughtfulness, which can be high, but limited. This is not at all a rule btw, most trolls anyone is going to find will be forums filled with screaming kids, obscenities and bug porn.
I just mean to say this "Gresham's Law" thing is false, sometimes the trolls are the thoughtful people and the ones that get driven away are good riddance.
Often time, I find something funny, say it as a comment, and get down-voted. It's not a stupid joke or something inappropriate, just a comment that'd make the reader smile. And I know it's hard to judge because I keep saying the score of these comments oscillating (I.e. people upvote it because it's funny, and people downvote it because it's funny (or they don't find it funny.))
About contrived opinion, that one is sad. There's a difference between something wrong and saying your opinion. For instance, someone saying "I don't like Backbone.js because x, y, z" will get on average a really small or negative score. Why? People who agree with this statement in small minority +x, people who disagree with this statement but agree that it was some good arguments and points: +y, majority of people who disagree with the statement -z. It just so happen that z>(x+y) with controversial statements.
Lastly, trolling is more about searching for trouble or pissing of people. For instance, they'll say "Wtf, stop wasting your time with perl. It's a DEAD LANGUAGE, WAKE UP". This kind of posts should just get deleted and the user warned and then banned from HN imo. Note that there're a couple of wrong things with this statement. First, it's extremely aggressive and provocative. Personally, I hate this but some well known people act like that and are really appreciated so I won't judge. Secondly, there's no argument or fact.. it's just trash talking without ground to base yourself on. Lastly, there's usually lots of words in caps and 'wtf' 'lol' 'trololol' which make it look unprofessional for readers of HN used to read well written text. (Ironically, I know this current text isn't well written but it's because english is not my main language, not because I'm trying to skip words or be unprofessional).
Anyway, what I'd suggest is to have a way to differentiate between theses. 1- A 'flag as spam/troll/non-respectful'. 2- A +1 (like what we have) to say this is an interesting post/comment. 3- A Agree/Disagree button to express your opinion.
So basically, someone saying "You guys are fucking stupid; 1+1=2" would be flagged as unrespectful but could still be valid and agreed by the majority.
But in the end, is it worth it? As they say in engineering, it it works, don't fix it. HN is not perfect, but I still enjoy reading the comments and I learn quite a lot.. is it worth trying to fix it for a minority of trolls or disrespectful people?
Some of the heartiest laughs I've ever had are sourced from trolls.
My troll spotting ability is falling at the wayside though. I used to be really good at spotting trolls, nowadays I come across something every now and think, "Is he trolling?". And that's the beauty of the best trolls, they border on insanity but keep it just within the realms of believability.
For example, on Facebook, a troll might play out like this:
Sarah posts "Having the worst day ever, ugh!"
David "likes" this post.
Link baiting, tagging people places they are not actually at, and other forms of this exist as well. At least in a few of my friend circles they do. In fact, at one point, one of my friends and co-founders created a Facebook group called "Operation Troll Cullen". He invited around 20 of our mutual friends, and the idea was to respond to anything I said or posted with extremely positive messages. "You're doing so great Cullen! Well done!" or "This was the MOST insightful, amazing, article I have ever read. Thank you so much for sharing Cullen, you're amazing!" would be two examples.
I of course had no idea this was going on, but suspected something was amiss. It was quite the week for me, to say the least (and I did find it quite funny, after the fact).
So it does not just shut off the "trolls" as in the "assholes". It also shuts off any unpopular opinion.
That is sad, because unpopular opinions are generally interesting by nature, and sometimes insightful. That is because popular ones are well-known, thus cannot be "interesting".
For example, if you bash a popular company by saying what they do is wrong (whichever it is, Google, Apple, you name it), you will get down voted a lot. No matter how insightful and righteous you were.
PG mentions that people seeing "...their reputation in the eyes of their peers drain away..." is motivation enough to keep delivering high-quality content.
I think there are a whole lot of reasons internet forums are different than real life communication. I think there are technical solutions that can change the balance. We all know there is a big difference between, say, the comments on YouTube and the comments on Slashdot. Do you think it is all "culture"? I don't. I think it is mostly that Slashdot has technical solutions that discourage trolling (and substanceless posts, etc), while YouTube doesn't. If the culture is different, it mostly because of the karma system (or lack thereof).
For example, recently there was the thing with Rob Malda's resume. The entire thread on that was rather derailed into either sucking up to Rob, or saying Slashdot is full of trolls.
Or rather, it had a rather unfavorable signal to noise ratio. I tried to vote comments accordingly, but it didn't really seem to help.
 Tried to stick up for FOSS and expose Microsoft/Mono for what it really is, got downvoted for doing the right thing. Oh well, the trolls got me, not really a big deal.
If you've been to Reddit recently and tried to engage that community, you might not be so worried about things here at HN. It's like hot and cold running compassion/rape over there. They either flood you with love, or ransack your house and ruin your life. Dangerous stuff, that Reddit Hive Mind.
It's just something that happens on the Internet: more people = more trolls and perceived-but-not-really tolls. I wonder if someone could do a paper on the average parts per million for trolls in any mass of words on the Internet.
Edit: That number was from 2008
Reddit actually has a fascinating, rich culture. Trolling is just a part of it, but the community seems to be managing.
Nobody wants to be around a negative person, so not only does the negative person have a minimal negative impact on the people around him (since no one will listen), but the main problem arises when he gets online. Not only is this troll frustrated that no real people will listen to his negativity, but when he jumps online he's equal to everyone else. There are no groups. Nobody looks at his username like they would his face in the real-world and says "oh he's an ass, don't listen to him." I think it's partially because faces are easier to remember than usernames, and partially because we associate a whole personality with a face so we can avoid this person next time.
When everyone's equal they each have the same impact. This would be a beautiful system if there was 0 negativity online because the new guy with great ideas would be heard just as well as a 10-year online veteran. But in the online social world its strength seems to be its weakness. How am I supposed to know if the person commenting is a really cynical person or a constructive criticism-type person until I've fully read his comment, and by then he's already made his impact on me.
I don't think modern social networks have this problem as much though. I only socialize with my real friends on FB, Twitter, and G+.
Does anyone know what the tipping point for license plates was?
I say this in that reading the post, and then the comments from you all-- I see a bit of disparity between philosophies. I mean, for the most part I think from it's very root, trolls are trouble makers, and we can all sort of agree on that. But, there are people here who revel in that, see a symbiotic nature (good needs evil), people who think trolls are important, and that they keep things interesting--people who've even been trolls (full disclosure, when I was younger and immature I partook in such acts...nothing malicious, but acts none the less). When I read things like this I wonder where and at what time these people were introduced to the internet and forums and the like. A lot of younger people (at least the ones I know) are familiar with the trolling culture, and share many of the same previously mentioned opinions, however when I think of my Dad who was introduced to things much earlier when the internet was much more "pure", he loathes such things, "there's no place for that".
As a non-formal study, purely for my curiousity would anyone interested write down their age, the time when they were introduced (ballpark it) to the internet and forums, and their stance on trolls.
What I don't like that I have seen a lot of, is what I like to call "karma police". People who abuse the downvote button to silence perfectly valid comments that they just happen to disagree with. That's a problem. I think we need to be more judicious about the up and down votes. It's easy to just up vote something with a title we agree with but does it really call for it? I liken it to how easy it is to press the Facebook like button everywhere. As for downvotes, that button should be reserved for off-topic, vulgar, or otherwise obvious trolling cases and not just because "I didn't like what he said, he's stupid, or whatever".
From theoretical perspective this is very similar problem to links and webpages. A troll is equivalent to a spammy web page. Upvotes/downvotes are equivalent to traffic you get on your web page. When UserA upvotes UserB, a link is created between two. The goal of a troll is to get as much traffic as possible. They are incentivised to give each other upvotes in the hope of return favor, or in other words, create as many links to each other as possible. It would be mistake to think that few "good guys" can be used as gate keeper to protect the system against these trolls. In nutshell that is the hope and approach many early search engines had and they failed as the size grew out of their hands. The solution has to be technical and automated. Algorithms like PageRank or machine learning models is highly applicable to trolling issue. For instance, the real value of karma should not be a naĂŻve count of upvotes (in the same way that real important of the page is not how many other pages points to it) but rather who has upvoted it. I think algorithms like PageRank can be easily applied to calculate the value of karma. If trolls upvotes each other 1000 times, their net karma would be much less than 1000 de- incentivising them for putting in the efforts for upvoting. Of course, there are many ways to fool PageRank and but I think algos like this should be sufficient for forums were you don't have to deal with more sophisticated folks like search marketers.
What if there were a separate "flag" that people could click for trolls and spam, but when you downvoted someone, you were forced to post a reply explaining why?
Really, in communities I frequent, there are so many trolls, we troll them back. Perhaps we're using the term differently from how pg is?
I understand this could introduce agreement bias, but I feel like that's something that could be fixed by tweaking the numbers (i.e. only auto-collapse comments with -20 votes).
As it is now, it's easy to game the comments thread by piggybacking off the top comment of a post. This can be abused for trolling or just plain discussion visibility (unfairly, IMO).
Too much can definitely turn everything brackish.
But seeing some humor/sarcasm even if it's pointed mixed in with all of the serious discourse keeps it all manageable.
Anyway, it doesn't happen all the time but it's definitely out there.
I think that pretty much sums it up. Trolls are attracted to the forums with the most interesting/intelligent users (the "best" forums). I think that news.yc has been very successful in terms of the amount of trolling that takes place, especially since:
> The core users of News.YC are mostly refugees from other sites that were overrun by trolls.
If you've used facebook for a few years, you might remember the introduction of the "Like" button. Facebook before the "Like" button was very different from a UGC perspective. People did a lot more bitching and moaning. People posted much more inane ramblings about what they ate for lunch lunch or random happenings in their day. The "Like" button created a positive reinforcement loop and consciously or not people started to try to post content that would get more likes. Someone being emo about their shitty boyfriend or girlfriend is probably not going to get likes, probably wont get surfaced in the news feed and will never be heard. Eventually when people stop seeing those posts they are less compelled to post those things themselves. Facebook describes this as the virtuous cycle of sharing. Someone posts something, they get patted on the back. YOU see their post and their pats on the back and you tend to want to do the same thing. If you have friends on twitter and friends on facebook, just put the two feeds up next to eachother. You'll see a HUGE difference in the types of updates that people post.
When reddit was small, it was full of, and dominated by, crackpots. It was barely even at the level of being entertaining, and I'd hesitate to call it a community at all. Intentional trolls generally don't mess with crackpots, for some reason. I don't know if it's because it's too easy or unsatisfying, but the trolls usually come with mainstreaming.
(There are still lots of crackpots there, but it's gelled to a far more coherent community that is much more fun to incite).
Unfortunately, as the article says, the anonymity of the Internet allows these thoughts to rapidly bubble to the surface, where in most cases there's little repercussions for posting whatever the hell you want. I've encountered very little of this attitude when it comes to meeting people in real life. For most people, it's hard to be a dick in front of a real life person.
Yes, I should write this, but I'm not smart enought to stop myself to type it. After reading the definition my mind instantly draw his face...
That's crazy. We still don't know what causes Trolls?
This is good when it allows honest feedback about an idea and products, but can also come across as coarse sometimes.
You could fix this with a simple feature.
I (and others) have put a lot of effort into making the Linux Chrome build fast. Some examples are multiple new implementations of the build system ( http://neugierig.org/software/chromium/notes/2011/02/ninja.h... ), experimentation with the gold linker (e.g. measuring and adjusting the still off-by-default thread flags https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/group/chromium-dev/... ) as well as digging into bugs in it, and other underdocumented things like 'thin' ar archives.
But it's also true that people who are more of Windows wizards than I am a Linux apprentice have worked on Chrome's Windows build. If you asked me the original question, I'd say the underlying problem is that on Windows all you have is what Microsoft gives you and you can't typically do better than that. For example, migrating the Chrome build off of Visual Studio would be a large undertaking, large enough that it's rarely considered. (Another way of phrasing this is it's the IDE problem: you get all of the IDE or you get nothing.)
When addressing the poor Windows performance people first bought SSDs, something that never even occurred to me ("your system has enough RAM that the kernel cache of the file system should be in memory anyway!"). But for whatever reason on the Linux side some Googlers saw it fit to rewrite the Linux linker to make it twice as fast (this effort predated Chrome), and all Linux developers now get to benefit from that. Perhaps the difference is that when people write awesome tools for Windows or Mac they try to sell them rather than give them away.
Including new versions of Visual Studio, for that matter. I know that Chrome (and Firefox) use older versions of the Visual Studio suite (for technical reasons I don't quite understand, though I know people on the Chrome side have talked with Microsoft about the problems we've had with newer versions), and perhaps newer versions are better in some of these metrics.
But with all of that said, as best as I can tell Windows really is just really slow for file system operations, which especially kills file-system-heavy operations like recursive directory listings and git, even when you turn off all the AV crap. I don't know why; every time I look deeply into Windows I get more afraid ( http://neugierig.org/software/chromium/notes/2011/08/windows... ).
It takes all of 2 minutes to try this experiment yourself (plus ~8 minutes for the download).
1. Download chromium http://chromium-browser-source.commondatastorage.googleapis....
2. Unzip to a directory
3. Create this batch file in the src directory, I called mine "test.bat"
echo start: %time% >> timing.txt dir /s > list.txt echo end: %time% >> timing
Paste your output in this thread. Here is mine:
start: 12:00:41.30 end: 12:00:41.94 start: 12:00:50.66 end: 12:00:51.31
I can't replicate the OP's claim of 40000ms directory seek, even though I have WORSE hardware. Would be interested in other people's results. Like I said, it only takes 2 minutes.
In Joel's opinion it is an algorithm problem. He thinks that there is an O(n^2) algorithm in there somewhere causing trouble. And since one does not notice the O(n^2) unless there are hundreds of files in a directory it has not been fixed.
I believe that is probably the problem with Windows in general. Perhaps there are a lot of bad algorithms hidden in the enormous and incredibly complex Windows code base and they are not getting fixed because Microsoft has not devoted resources to fixing them.
Linux on the other hand benefits from the "many eyes" phenomenon of open source and when anyone smart enough notices slowness in Linux they can simply look in the code and find and remove any obviously slow algorithms. I am not sure all open source software benefits from this but if any open source software does, it must certainly be Linux as it is one of the most widely used and discussed pieces of OS software.
Now this is total guesswork on my part but it seems the most logical conclusion. And by the way, I am dual booting Windows and Linux and keep noticing all kinds weird slowness in Windows. Windows keeps writing to disk all the time even though my 6 GB of RAM should be sufficient, while in Linux I barely hear the sound of the hard drive.
According to this document (http://i-web.i.u-tokyo.ac.jp/edu/training/ss/lecture/new-doc...) it would appear that directory entries have one extra level of indirection and share space with the page cache and hence can be pathologically evicted if you read in a large number of files; compiling/reading lots of files for example.
On Linux however the directory entry cache is a separate entity and is less likely to be evicted under readahead memory pressure. Also it should be noted is that Linus has spent a largish amount of effort to make sure that the directory entry cache is fast. Linux's inode cache has similar resistance to page cache memory pressure. Obviously if you have real memory pressure from user pages then things will slow down considerably.
I suspect that if Windows implemented a similar system with file meta data cache that was separate from the rest of the page cache it would similarly speed up.
Edit: I should note, this probably wouldn't affect linking as much as it would affect git performance; git is heavily reliant on a speedy and reliable directory entry cache.
Our software builds everyday on FreeBSD, Linux and Windows on servers that are identical.
The windows build takes 14 minutes. The FreeBSD and Linux build take 10 minutes (they run at almost identical speed).
Check out is more than twice slower on Windows (we use git).
Debug build time is comparable 5 minutes for Windows, 4 minutes 35 on Linux.
Release build time is almost 7 minutes on Windows and half that on Linux.
VS compiles more slowly than gcc but overall it's a better compiler. It handles static variables better and is not super demanding about typenames like gcc is. Also gcc is extremely demanding in terms of memory. gcc is a 64-bit executable, Visual Studio is still a 32-bit execuable. We hope Microsoft will fix that in Visual Studio 2011.
Its easier to parallelize gmake than Visual Studio, which also explains the better Linux build time. Visual Studio has got some weird "double level" mulithreading which is eventually less efficient than just running the make steps in parallel as you go through your make file.
However our tests run at comparable speed on Linux and Windows and the Windows builds the archive ten times faster than Linux.
2) Linux forks significantly faster than anything else I know. For something like Chromium the compiler is forked bazillion times and so is the linker and nmake and so on so forth.
3) Linux, the kernel, is heavily optimized for building stuff as that's what the kernel developers do day in and day out - there are threads on LKML that I can't be bothered to dig out right now but lot of effort goes in to optimizing for kernel build workload - may be that helps.
3) Linker - stock one is slower and did not do the more costly optimizations until now so it might be faster because of doing lesser than the MS linker that does incremental linking, WPO and what not. Gold is even faster and I may be wrong but I don't think it does what the MS linker does either.
4) Layers - Don't know if Cygwin tools are involved but they add their own slowness.
 http://oreilly.com/pub/a/windows/2005/02/08/NTFS_Hacks.html (#8)
NTFS Performance Hacks - http://oreilly.com/pub/a/windows/2005/02/08/NTFS_Hacks.html
NTFS also fragments very badly when free space is fragmented. If you don't liberally use SetFilePointer / SetEndOfFile, it's very common to see large files created incrementally to have thousands, or tens of thousands, of fragments. Lookup (rather than listing) on massive directories can be fairly good though - btrees are used behind the scenes - presuming that the backing storage is not fragmented, again not a trivial assumption without continuously running a semi-decent defragmenter, like Diskeeper.
The Windows desktop GUI system is more stable than anything else out there (meaning that it's not going to change drastically AND that it's a solid piece of software that just works) and it's as flexible as I need it to be, so that's why I stick with Windows. With virtual machines, WinSCP, Cygwin and other similar utilities, I have all the access to *nix that I need.
More details here: http://code.google.com/p/msysgit/issues/detail?id=320
I also remember that I was able to create file copy utility in assembly as a homework assignment that was couple times faster than windows/dos copy command.
The only two reasons I can think of that explain this are:1 - noone cares about windows fileystem performance.2 - someone decided that it shouldn't be too fast.
while photoshop isn't on linux, there are plenty of replacements for that unless he's doing print work, which I don't think is the case, as photoshop isn't the beginning and end for print. (actually, TBH, photoshop is pretty shit for pixel work.)
Also maya is available for linux, autodesk just doesn't offer a free trial like they do with windows/mac os. (Including the 2012 edition.)
With no offence intended to the 3dsmax crew, as it has it's merits, but a sufficiently competent maya user won't find much use for 3dsmax.
To benchmark the maximum shell script performance (in terms of calls to other tools per second), try this micro-benchmark:
while true; do date; done | uniq -c
Here is some example:
There are a plethora of disk benchmarking tools - I doubt that they consistently show 40x differences.
Hooves -> horses, and all that.
If one were optimizing Windows performance, none of the specific areas used as examples would receive much attention given user demographics. What percentage of Windows users use the command line, much less compile C programs, never mind using "cmd" shells to do so?
Windows command line gurus will be using Powershell these days, not the legacy encumbered "cmd" - elsewise they are not gurus.
These were just the tip of the iceberg. I'll probably have a bunch more next week.
Some specific feedback:
georgemcbay: When different stakeholders don't agree, I've learned 3 things: 1. You rarely make progress. 2. The only way to get them to agree is to put them in a room together and don't leave until they do agree (That's one time when you DO need a meeting). 3. My boss rarely understood (1) or (2). He was just worrying about his personal likes/dislikes. It's tough enough to convey this in a serious piece, but obviously a lot tougher in a light piece. Thanks for the feedback.
RyanMcGreal: I enjoyed Dilbert until the stories started striking too close to home. They became too real to be funny. Sad but true.
veyron: Actually, this company used 6 digit Ticket numbers. I shortened them for clarity. Remember it's a sequential numbering system, so that's the number of tickets since the beginning of time, not currently open tickets. Sadly, a typical meeting:
Joe: How are we doing on 112182? Fred: I don't have that Ticket. Joe: Oh, maybe it should be 112128. Mary: No, that's in Ron's group. Fred: I must have written it down wrong. I mean the MJC Project. John: The MJC Project is on hold. Joe: Sorry, the MCJ Project. Mary: Who brought a laptop? Sue: I did. I'll search for MCJ. Fred: No, you'll get 500 tickets. Search for Joe Smith, open. Sue: OK, here it is. Ticket #118128. edw519: Kill me now.
Customer: I called you 10 minutes ago but you didn't answer. Me: I was here. Sometimes the IP phone doesn't ring. Customer: Why? Is it raining there?
Me: So, just to remind you, I'm going in for surgery on Saturday. They're removing a gland from the side of my neck, so the recovery time will probably be three or four days.
Boss: Will you be back in the office on Monday?
Me: Probably not. Like I said--
Boss: --When will you be back?
Me: The recovery time is three or four days, so hopefully Tuesday or Wednesday.
Boss: Will you be taking any meetings on Monday?
Me: I will probably be bed-ridden, and I won't be able to speak.
Boss: That's not what I asked.
Boss: I hate meetings."
A couple of the boss responses listed here are totally reasonable and their head-scratch-inducing inclusion weakens the piece.
Meetings are a (sometimes) necessary evil, but I'm pretty skeptical of anyone who doesn't, at some level, hate them.
I mean, fuck, who wouldn't hate the idea of going to a meeting of 3 department heads to hash out differences? Sounds DREADFUL.
VP: We need to get these Cognos reports up and running. Me: Hmm, ok. What can you tell me about these reports? VP: Mostly that we need them up and running. Me: Who uses these reports? VP: Not sure. Ask so-and-so. Me: What information is on these reports? VP: Look, let's not get buried in details. We just need these reports up and running, mmm-kay?
Me: The program was written with 3 SQL selects inside a loop. It ran OK when we had 500 parts. Now that we have 10,000 parts, it runs real slow. Boss: I don't understand.
I hated my boss when he did it to me, but I have to admit I used this in turn countless times when I became "the boss", to the point it's become a private joke in my former company, anyone saying "I don't understand", whatever their position, instantly got thrown balls or clips in their face.
Not liking mornings or meetings.
Or forgetting what you'd prioritized someone to do.
Or being spam CCed by 'useful' emails.
I think when you look at a lot of these from the boss perspective and change the words slightly, they're totally normal human responses.
PM: We need you to fix a bug. One of our client's customers couldn't complete the form.Me: What error did they get?PM: I don't know, but it's very important we fix this.Me: Do we have steps to reproduce it?PM: No, can't you just fix it?Me: Did they retry the submission process?PM: I don't know.Me: Does it happen often?PM: Just this one customer as far as we know.Me: Well, do we at least know when it happened so I can find it in the logs?PM: Sometime last week. Look, this is really important to the client, can you just make this top priority? We want it fixed ASAP.
The "bug" has not been fixed because the devs still don't even know what the error is. We had another high-priority bug shortly before this because the client didn't understand that something wasn't allowed according to the access rules in the spec they (theoretically) helped write.
Me (replying to email within less than a minute): It's already done. Here you go.
Me: I finished hours ago. I replied to your email right away.
Boss: Oh, I didn't read your response. I thought the results would come via a separate email with a different subject line.
...3 months later...
Boss: This stuff isn't scaling, we need to all come in over the weekend to work out the kinks with the production servers.Me: Purchase some hardware and get it racked. EC2 just isn't working out.Boss: I can't. I already sold our executive team on the cloud and we don't have room in our budget for hardware.
...Another 3 months go by...Boss is gone.
Boss: You did great this year. I'm giving you a 2% increase. Me: I hate you. I quit. Boss: Then I'll give you a 4% increase. Me: I still hate you. I still quit.
Me: 30 seconds.
Boss: That's too long. #### could have it done in... wait, what did you say?
Me: Well that sheds some light on your style of management.
One month ago: me: Hey, everything is alright with project X? boss: Yep, perfect. Next monday, employee call me. employee: Can you walk me through the code. * me explains everything* employee: Ok, just to let you know you are fire. me: :-/ Why? employee: Boss will call you me: ok next day, boss don't call I write an e-mail No answer Another email 6-7 hours later Boss: Sorry, I'm really busy. Calling you tomorrow *Tomorrow* no call *next day, for a week* no call. I go to the office to talk to him. boss: I have a meeting, I have to run. I'll call you when I get back. And he still haven't call me back, and I have no idea why I got fired.
"Normally, fuck-ups like this take three guys a week to fix. One guy fixed your fuck-up in two hours. You don't fuck-up as well as most."
"Superclasses don't buy you anything - you should just copy the code everywhere that might need it."
"Unit tests are nice, but we should be able to write code that works and not need to rely on tests to tell us that."
No, I'm not there anymore.
Boss: So you can do <anything> in two weeks then?
Me: No, what I just talked about is a multi-month endeavor.
The reasoning behind this is probably formed from a multitude of influences. Executive desire, manager's attempts to look good, and a complete lack of comprehension of what building software is about all rank high on the list. The one I, for the life of me, cannot understand is why programmers insist on pushing the "I can hack that together in 48 hours" mythology. Surely it has had an effect on the management psyche and influenced the mental math used to conclude that the maximum time it should take any feature to be developed is fourteen days.
Me (coining a metaphor): "The fuel distributor in a Pratt & Whitney Turbojet engine will not work in a Norelco Electric Shaver, even though both can be used to cut grass."
When you combine gross underestimation of effort with the re-prioritization cycle, you get a monster that probably destroys millions of hours of productivity every year around the world. As soon as it becomes clear that the project won't get done as early as expected, the boss re-assigns you to a new priority. What would have taken 4 weeks to do 3 projects now takes 4 months and only results in the completion of one.
Where X is something seemingly simple. What makes it more frustrating is that it is often very difficult to precisely describe why it is that X involves so much unintuitive complexity.
"The users don't care about how it's developed"
Except that code quality defines the readability, maintainability, and often-times performance (deeply coupled code can make optimisations very difficult, for example) of an application both during development and afterwards.
Me: Okay, what do you wanna change?
Boss: Well I want them to show things going up, especially towards the end so it shows us really growing to the VCs
Me: How is that possible?
Boss: It's definitely possible. I just don't know Excel.
Jim: We need to be first search result on Google by Monday.
Me: It doesn't really work like that. We can buy ads on google though.
Jim: No I don't want to spend any money. What do we need to do to get to the top of google by Monday?
Me: Well we can implementing some of the SEO improvements we have been suggesting for the last year. But we won't get to the top of Google by Monday.
Jim: We need to be first search result on Google by Monday. What do we have to do to be the first result on Google by Monday?
Conversation repeats its self 3 times, while I patiently explain how google works.
Me: You really have to stop asking that question, it doesn't work like that.
Business Partner: NO! WE NEED TO BE AT THE TOP OF GOOGLE BY MONDAY!
I was a partner at this place. I left after many repeats of similar discussions.
Oh god this place gave me nose bleeds. I have to stop thinking about it now.
One of the VPs was really terribly with a mouse. The tutorial was as much about the basics of navigating a GUI as the application itself.
Afterwards I asked the project manager "What does that guy do? He doesn't seem to know anything about computers."
"He's the VP of Technology." (!)
""You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and f that isn't enough in the second half you give what's left."
"No, I meant, 'How do we fix this with software?'"
Me: I think it's time for me to move on. To be quite honest, I see no potential for advancement here and I'm being expected to work dozens of hours of unpaid overtime each month. As we've discussed previously, my hourly rate is already low compared to industry standards and my experience level, and you've told me that the funds simply aren't available to rectify that. I sympathize with your position, and I wish everyone here nothing but the best, but that still doesn't change the fact that this job simply isn't paying well enough to cover my expenses.
Boss: I wish I could talk you out of it, but if that's really what you want to do, I can't stop you... but honestly, I don't think you're good enough to make it anywhere else.
Tuesday : Ticket 923 is your new top priority, fix it asap.
Wenesday : Client xyz needs ticket 1921 to be resolved, this is your new top priority, fix it asap.
Thursday : ...
You get the pattern. Running around with duck tape makes awesome products in the long run
ME: According to the newsletter stats, more people have opted out than actually clicked on any links last week.
BOSS: We need to increase subscribers to the newsletter.
- Did someone fire the boss for those?- Did you quit your job and started a new one?
imho, famous last words should sound like: "I will not leave it nor depart it until I am buried in the ground." (rough translation) Mubarak 10th of Feb on TV.
PS: The most famous last word to quit a job in Germany is: "Ich habe fertig", you should note the wrong grammar here.
Mgmt: We need to replace this system ASAP!Me: What does it do?Mgmt: We don't know.Me: Who knows?Mgmt: Maybe this girl.Girl: I'm too busy to talk, but make sure nothing breaks.
I did end up writing a replacement system. What I found out was all the people who were 'too busy' to talk or email me back with information suddenly responded when I took down their part of the system as I worked to replace it. I've never had to do a worse project and I'm happy it's over.
None of the comments surprise me to be honest, I find that managers have come from no background to instruct people on a technological level and are taken on for simply their management ability.
Me: Sure thing.
Boss (2 hrs later): Why aren't you answering the phone for our customer support calls!?
And then you quit.
I made sure this guy never PMed me again.
Boss: I'm really upset that no one has updated me on Project 127.Me: I cc'd you on all 9 Project 127 emails I sent this week.Boss: I haven't had time to get caught up on my email.
Depending on the scale and structure of the company / department, getting "caught up on emails" can range from "completely reasonable" to "fundamentally impossible".
For example, at a previous job we received no less than 250 work emails daily and often more. Needless to say, simply being CC'd was not a guarantee the recipient would be up to speed on the contents of said email string.
Here's a set of slides on taking control of poor communication situations and learning to efficiently keep managers in the feedback loop. Sometimes it doesn't work out ('Boss: I haven't had time to get caught up on my email.'), though it's certainly a start.
that one is pretty famous
Boss: Don't confuse me with all these technical details.
I bet your boss among those deciding on SOPA.
Basically, companies want the impossible, and they are driven by a culture that is very out of touch with the market.
For instance, this is also why they're not so keen on telecommuting.
There are exceptions, of course. But when they can't hire according to their plan, they're going to tell reporters "there's a shortage of good engineers!" where "Good" means "recent college graduates with 7 years industry experience 4 years ruby experience who will work for $60k and nerf bullets."
I see posts like yours and think its a damn shame. You're missing out, and at least some of those 50 companies are missing out... its a lose-lose situation.
You need to consider the possibility that you're not as competent as you believe yourself to be. Dunning-Kruger is real, and your post doesn't demonstrate the self-awareness the best developers seem to possess.
Your writing is sprinkled with emoticons and rife with reduplicated punctuation, both of which (especially the exclamation points) are common signs of immaturity. Reading this diatribe--and assuming your 50 emails were written similarly--I am forced to accept one of two conclusions: either you're not aware that your writing is unprofessional, or you're aware that it's unprofessional and unconcerned. Either option does not reflect well on you. To put it bluntly, if I received an email from you in this style, I would archive it without response, assuming it was from someone who lacked the requisite introspective capability I expect from the people I want to work with.
I found it particularly telling that you claim that all five of your phone screens went "very well" but marveled that only three companies tried to set up an onsite interview with you. Unless both the two companies that stopped at the phone screen simultaneously filled the position immediately after your phone screen, you really need to recognize that at least those two phone screens did not go well. I do interviews at a large Internet company, and one of my goals--one of the goals that I've been trained to seek--is to ensure that the candidate, no matter how bad, walks away from the interview feeling good about himself/herself and the company. If you're doing really poorly in an interview, I'll toss you some easier questions than I normally give, because I have all the information I need, and I don't want you to have a negative experience with my company. You may have felt good about the phone screens, but the most likely explanation for the two companies that didn't bring you onsite is that you didn't actually do well enough to justify additional interviews. These people want to hire someone, and if you were someone they wanted to hire, they certainly would have continued to interview you.
I think your experiment was less valid than you think it was because you're less competent than you think you are.
EDIT: I should add that whatever the case, whether I'm right or wrong about you, the best response to the situation you're in is to seek to improve yourself, not to embark on a quixotic venture to change others. Read CS theory books, create and modify open source projects, solve fun programming puzzles: sharpen your skills and--no matter what your level of competency--your prospects will improve.
The number of responses I received even acknowledging that they got my personalized cover letter and resume? Zero. Nada. Zilch.
I ended up getting a job by being referred through a friend to a company completely outside of the whole startup/valley/YC culture. The absolute worst thing you can do is have your job search and advertisements become a black hole.
So every company reading this comment: get your shit together.
Job sites are job hunting for people who enjoy unemployment.
I find work (contracts) by looking for interesting companies whose money I would like to take, then I look them up on LinkedIN to see how connected I am to them. Sometimes I ask my friends to connect me to them, sometimes I just google stalk them to find the appropriate hiring manager's twitter address or email address, then I email them, whether or not they're hiring, and whether or not they're open to contractors. I pitch my value proposition and tell (not ask, tell) them to meet me for coffee or lunch, my treat, and offer three dates that work for me. In 15 years, be it a VC, a VP of a bank, an unfunded founder, or an incredibly busy CTO at a high growth start-up, nobody has ever turned me down for a free lunch.
Then I close them.
80% did not respond at all . They did not acknowledge his contact attempt in any way whatsoever. Not a canned response confirming contact, nothing. Nothing.
I'm willing to bet very heavily on this representing complete incompetence at the organizations contacted.
I recently interviewed at a major online retailer and cloud computing provider (heh). The person interviewing me said, "wow, you're the best person of the last 50 we've interviewed". They followed up by making me a shit offer. If you want me to move to a different state to work for you, I want a 25% raise and an extra week of vacation. Not a salary match and two fewer weeks of vacation. Their justification was "it wouldn't be fair if you negotiated a better offer than other people on your team".
That's why you can't hire people.
The fact that you applied at 50 places is a bit of a deceptive statistic, because first of all, there's no way you carefully crafted your initial contact to each one.
At each of the places I contacted during my job search, my initial email was very carefully worded. I spent about 3 hours writing and revising one fairly short email, to make sure it conveyed exactly what I wanted.
If you just send a generic form letter to a company, they're going to give you the same consideration you have given them: very little.
Even if you did tailor the email to each company, there's no way you as a candidate are going to appeal to more than a handful of the companies, because they all have their own quirks and cultures. NOBODY is a viable candidate for 50 different Ruby-oriented companies.
Also, no offense but I have to concur with other comments here that your writing may have had something to do with it. If what you sent them was worded at all like what you've posted here, then you probably lost a lot of potential responses because of that.
If you want to get your foot in the door at a company, the first impression you make is everything. Sending a poorly worded email is a surefire way to shoot yourself in the foot.
My friend who worked there (and, in fact, recommended me) told me the developer doing the interviews has never actually recommended a single candidate and is no longer allowed to do interviews.
This could still mean that I'm stupid and incompetent but it seems like they missed out on a lot of talent because of the egotism of a single dev they had hiring.
Also I did a fair amount of the interview on a rooftop, trying to quietly and safely get down without a ladder. Fun times.
To sum up your email: Hi, You've never met me before, but I like your company. I expect to get paid $115K to lead a team as a senior developer, but don't want to relocate in order to be with the team.
I feel this type of email should get a response; however, I'm not surprised no one hired you. I'm sorry none of these companies replied. If hiring is as tough as everyone says it is, they should at least be willing to followup - they might find a diamond in the rough that way.
80% of jobs are filled informally, especially senior positions. If you know someone on the team, or if the team knows of your work and respects it, you should be able to find a position faster.
That's why few were interested.
But if you want unusual arrangements like remote working, you are going to have a hard time going through the blind CV channel. What works in these cases is either personal contacts, even over several hops, and/or establishing an online reputation that creates a virtual contact network. Your github projects, blog, JS experiments, history of patches to TeX  will make you stand out. Even a little contribution to an Open Source project will get you a CV line and maybe a reference from someone with name recognition.
You are a grown up with kids, so you don't have time to waste. You can't hack demos all day like an undergrad. But a little time spent this way might pay dividends in career development.
The point is not to be a CV in the pile. Get noticed some other way, and don't expect your CV to glow like Charlie's Golden Ticket. The more senior you get, the more important this stuff is. A few years out of school and you should forget about CVs until someone asks you for one, so they can tell their colleagues about you.
If you want to steal some of the best talent in the industry, open yourself up to the idea of letting them telecommute or work remotely. Offer up a 3 month introductory period to ensure there's a mutual fit and they actually do the work as promised. Don't make them shitty offers because they aren't on site; there is fudge room depending on their cost of living. If you're in the valley, get your head out of your ass. Talent is everywhere. We don't all need to move to the valley to prove anything. We likely DO love your team and product; that's why we applied in the first place. Devs are a funny beast, most of us apply to things that interest us. Loving your team is not necessarily justification to up and leave everything we've grown to know and love. We're not all recent college graduates with no ties to a community. Open yourselves up to change and boundary pushing. Consider opening satellite offices in different large cities for your remote devs to work at, together.
Re: weird extra steps: the idea isn't that they're cool. The idea is that if you are willing to attempt it and solve it successfully, it says something about your problem-solving skills. It's not the be-all end-all, but it seems like a decent first-pass filter.
Re: cultural mismatch: if it's a cultural mismatch, you probably shouldn't apply anyway. The thing about a startup is, there are five or ten of you. This isn't just another job. You generally don't just come in at 9, work work work, maybe take lunch with your teammates, and trip it out at 5. You don't just attend the company Christmas party. A startup is typically very much like a family, because everything is riding on everyone. When someone quits IBM, the teammates write it off as a âwhateverâ. When someone quits at a startup, you spend some serious time looking around to make sure there's nothing scaring them off, because every individual counts a great deal.
In short, culture is critical, and even as a married father of two, signing up for a startup is signing up for a culture and a tight-knit group of friends as much as it is signing up for a job.
Are companies that post developer positions to job boards really looking for someone to delegate a lot of control to, or do they already have that person? How much room is there at the top? If you got that architect job, would you turn around and hire another architect-y person?
Many of these positions are heads-down, in the office and managed. And of course you've got to be a super coding wizard who is more concerned with nerf battles and ping-pong than dirty lucre, jeez!
Companies that hire many intelligent, mature, well-paid peers, are rare, I think. So you either have to go network and find someone who will give you that position of power, and then, how will you hire? Or, start a company. Or, become a consultant, which requires more networking than option one. Or hold out for a job with someone like Mozilla -- they seem to treat developers like adults.
semi-active search time span: ~4-5 weeks
where: just craigslist & python.org
what: sr. level web frontend or backend
companies: all small/startups, but none are well known in HN
emails sent: I'm quite choosy actually, only applied to ~4 positions a week, which equates to ~20 sent.
results: ~75-80% replied,
out of those replied:~50-60% replied within a day or two, 2 took more than a week to get back to me, which strangely enough, followed thru with deeper phone interviews.
no on-site interviews (although ~25% I applied are remotes) until one of those turned out to be a recruiter.
Note: I wanted to avoid recruiters since didn't have good experience with them before. But this time it turned out pretty good, got to interview a few companies and landed a decent gig. But since this thread is about no response from direct emails, I did not include these data points from recruiter in my results.
If those phone screens do not turn into full interviews or offers, that is a statement on how they went, not on company responsiveness.
Frankly, I don't think your stats show a lack of response at all. I think they are very reasonable, as some level of non-responsiveness is natural, when you account for the fact that you gave them enough information to summarily dismiss you from consideration if you don't match their needs or culture.
When i set out to get my first job as a software engineer i was currently working as a system administrator for a conference center in Redwood City. It was the first job i landed when i got back from my first tour of duty in Iraq as a light infantryman. I was still young at the time, 20 years old, still not legally able to consume alcohol yet old enough where most of my friends were already halfway through college. Discontent with going back to college to study computer science with a bunch of people younger then me and knowing that my work as a systems administrator is not what i'd need to be doing on my path to achieve happiness in life i set out to apply to companies seeking software engineers on craigslist.
I spent maybe an entire day sending my resume out over email directly to companies seeking software engineers. I remember being somewhat selective, i'd say i had to have sent my resume out to less then 10 companies that entire day. Although i don't precisely recall the amount of responses i got, i did get a decent amount of responses and almost all of them came in the next day (yes this was 2 years ago). This shocked the crap out of me, i had no previous software experience on my resume, my only previous work experiences were as follows: a warehouse clerk, light infantry and systems administrator. Never the less, i was doing phone screens (and killing them btw) and setting up in person interviews. The very first interview i went to lasted 2 hours and was the first time in my life where i was ever asked to write code on a white board (idk, maybe this is an academia thing). It was a group of engineers interviewing me so that also spiked up the intensity a bit. However, when the interview ended and the HR person came in, she extended me an offer right then and there and said that this is something she's never had to do before. So i went back to my systems administrator gig the next day, turned in my two weeks notice and two weeks later i was officially a software engineer.
My second job seeking experience was very different and also very recent. Having put up enough with the offshore teams crappy code and a horde of rushed employment contractors that couldn't code their way through fizz buzz, it was time for me to look for a new job.So instead of doing any direct applies immediately i just put my resume up on dice.com. That same day my phone was getting barraged with voicemails from technical recruiters. This was going on during work too so i had to turn my phone off for the day. When i got home that night i did do one direct apply and that was to Yelp. I responded to one of the technical recruiters and she set me up with some options and some phone interviews. The next day i got a call from the technical recruiter at yelp to do a quick prescreen and to set me up with a more in depth phone screen with an engineer so i did that. At the same time the contacts from the recruiter were all doing the same thing, calling me and setting up phone screenings that is. The current company i work for right now was moving slightly faster then everyone else though. I did both phone screenings with Yelp and where i work and they both sent me programming challenges to complete and send in. I did them but where i work got back to me faster and set up an in person interview first. So i went and it was a 3 hour interview this time. This time i left without a job offer after the interview but the technical recruiter ensured me that things were looking good. He called me back later that day and gave me an offer over the phone. That was that.
I tend to agree with the OPs thoughts - companies often don't respond, even when, in general, the industry (and perhaps some of those same companies) publicly moan about not being able to find people.
When did having 7 years of experience make someone a sr level developer? I don't think I started using that level for myself until I had 10 years experience. I guess to each his own. Just like everyone's a "founder" these days, everyone else is a "sr level developer"???
What's a "CTO of a side project" look like? I understand it shows a lot of initiative, but depending on the types of companies applied at, it wouldn't come close to what they expect of a "sr level developer".
I guess I'm just old (sorry, senior) and grumpy this morning. :)
I understand this sentiment, but pre-interview homework (provided that it's reasonable) is one of the best indicators of enthusiasm, attention to detail, creativity, and ballpark of coding skill. Most importantly it reveals how you will react to solving one of our problems which, if hired, is what you'll be doing most of the time.
I narrowed down to two competitors and amazingly these two companies did end up leading the entire market.
In order words, the first contact with the company tells you much more about company than any other things. So if somebody does not answer on your email with resume you probably should assume they will not be around for long.
HR people like to keep lots of resumes on file, the fresher the better, so that when they're tasked with filling a seat immediately, they're not starting from zero.
The fact that this practice sucks for the job-seeker is of little concern; they've optimized their process according to their own needs.
But people are reading incoming emails and are interested in hiring. Maybe they just didn't like your email/tone?
I think the problem is every startup is making up their own hiring formula/process, and until it is internally figured out, anyone who tries to interview will get delayed. Product is being developed PLUS they have to figure out their perfect hiring process... That being said, luck with timing is also important in interviewing for a startup IMO.
I do agree with some of your points though. Anytime I hear the "we have xboxes" I immediately translate that to we pay crap and hope the kids we hire don't notice in between games of CoD. The other day a guy was giving me a pitch to come work at his startup and kept talking about the xbox and the office location. Note to companies pitching to potential employees. Idea, equity cut, and salary in that order are way more important than having Aeron chairs.
www.lorenburton.com - Airbnb flew me from CHI to SF less than 24 hours after I put the site up, with absolutely no existing connections or contacts.
As someone on the receiving end, I'm way more likely to send you a personal response if you've sent me a personal email, regardless of whether you seem like a good fit for the job. Even if you don't know the recipients, include a sentence about why you're interested in working on their product or space.
If it's clear you're just blasting out your resume, and you don't seem a 100% perfect fit, I'm probably not going to take the time to send you a personal response. I'd like to reply to every applicant, I just don't have time.
Am I missing out on qualified candidates? Maybe. But interviewing and hiring takes a lot of time and resources away from building product. And I've found that applicants who have done their due diligence on our company and product are way more likely to be solid candidates and get all the way through the interview process, making the time spent 100% worth it.
I can't wait until this business fad is over.
One particular company I was interested in had few puzzles on their website. I once worked the whole weekend to solve them as good as I can. Spent lot of time writing a custom cover letter, resume and attached the C++ solutions to the puzzles.
Its been several months and I am still waiting for the damn reply!
Hiring is not easy, and doing it well requires a lot of practice. Most people in the position of hiring for many startups are doing it for the very first time. And they usually suck at it.
Mostly, those companies get out of it what they put into it.
Every job I've applied to directly has had at the very least one email and one call, potentially a follow up if they drag their heels. I've rarely failed to get an interview (though to be fair, I've only applied to 10-20 companies at a time, not the 50 the OP has).
I agree though that with all this 'lack of talent' the companies should be chasing us at the merest whiff of interest. Unfortunately people don't always act rationally in there own self interest, so we sometimes have to take the initiative.
Even if you were, I would personally never want to work at a place which has this kind of a culture. I am out looking for a job where good business problems get solved in the most practical way. Which helps both the business and me make money.
Second kind of questions are asking the candidate arcane and rare facts that can be known only through rote memorization. Like asking him to work on some concept/data structure/algorithm from a CS text book taught in semester 3 on page 345 of a text book 2000 pages big.
There is nothing great about knowing an algorithm, inventing a new algorithm is special but not knowing one. Worse case anybody can know what you know by searching.
Asking irrelevant questions to the job, gives you a very high rate of false negatives. You are missing out on some very good and productive people.
This is exactly what happens, you ask some irrelevant questions and consider the guy useless. The same guy goes works at some php shop which is solving some business problems which get him and the company good money. And here you are searching and filtering candidate as per your requirements. Meanwhile you see, your start up failing and the average guy there winning. Suddenly you shout out 'Worse is better'.
You've got be brutally honest and practical in software engineering. If you are academics its a different game.
Remember your fantasy elitism in building a dream product and plans to hire rock stars to do it is nothing if it fails. The average guy still ends up winning even if he has 1/10 decent the product of your dreams, if he has a product to sell now.
Puzzles as a selection criteria - there will be false positives but too few false negatives.
Recently I was hiring for an online marketing position where being sharp with math actually matters, a lot. The candidate of 2 yr experience refused to take a screening test on aptitude. Very well, rejected as we have no data points of how sharp he was.
On the other hand, the fact you didn't receive a response at all from so many (we typically send a note to every applicant who makes the effort to contact us) is surprising. Many companies use a tracking system of some sort to classify and manage recruiting workflow - most of these are utter tripe.
Rack this up to such a large influx of resumes for each announced position that responses just aren't feasible, to HR folks who can't be bothered to lift a finger after seizing hiring control away from the managers.
To me, this is just indicative of how a company treats its employees.
This could be an interesting startup opportunity :)
The companies I ended up strongly considering are those which replied the day after, they are the ones actually interested.
I agree that we don't check emails. Im guilty of that myself. Very guilty. No contest guilty. But then again I think a lot of companies are looking to hire but end up getting recommendations from people they trust. I know I'll hire a person that was recommended by a friend over someone who sends me a resume using the contact form or other official means of applying. It isn't always right but when you run a company there are so many things to juggle that we often do without a lot of times and neglect the "jobs@" inbox even though we could use a hand.
On the other hand I'd say that maybe you overestimate your qualifications. It's usually the people who think they're the greatest that are the worst. I don't know you personally but it could be the case.
So all in all, I think you're right that we may not be checking the applicant inbox as often as we should. But I also think that just because you think you should have been considered as competent as you claim to be it just doesn't make it so.
People who don't have the ability to understand and communicate with the people they will be working for (clients, users) and with (us), or who simply can't be arsed to make the effort are not what we need.
Serious applicants are usually invited within 24 hours, but we will never, ever respond to boilerplate CV-spam.
These auto-resume sites apply pretty dumb filters right off the bat, and you probably got kicked out of the responder queue the second you ask for a six-figure pay rate and/or the option to telecommute.
Generally at most companies you have to be significantly better than the other candidates to be worth considering as a remote candidate.
I don't think they chose not to respond after deciding that you were a suitable candidate.
In my experience startups are terrible at operationally executing hiring processes, and developers are terrible at selling themselves.
Here's my 2 cents:
I'm part of a start-up (StartWire) created by former HR professionals, aimed at dealing with the pain point of not hearing back from employers. We work with the resume submission platforms used by most major companies to provide feedback to applicants - from confirmation that your resume was received, to notice that you've been disqualified or that the job is no longer posted. This isn't going to make you like a potential employer who couldn't find the time to get in touch with you personally any better, but it could give you some valuable feedback as what is going on when you don't hear anything. Maybe something about your resume has gotten you frequently disqualified before a person ever sees it. Hopefully it can be a helpful idea to those who are frustrated by the current process.
Maybe the 40/50 are reading your email. How do you know they are not deciding up front that you're not the right fit?
When hiring devs, I definitely look for language skill and attention to detail in syntax. A buggy cover letter or resume suggests buggy code.
1. Remote < In house. Remote developers should not ask for market rate.
2. Putting a CTO role on your resume (even for side project) disqualifies you from consideration for Sr. Developer positions.
3. Positions advertised as "remote friendly" probably aren't.
Many candidates don't get past the subject line of the email. It's nice to think that someone sits there and reads every resume then makes an informed decision, just isn't the reality though.
Remember that person has a million other things to do and probably an already overflowing inbox.
You could use something like Tout app to work out if your email is even getting opened and if people are clicking on your resume link.
One question that I have is whether anyone has looked at adapting or using the IF2 backend of the Sisal programming language  for these. I ask because some of the optimization that Theano does reminds me of things that IF2 is supposed to be doing too. Sisal was written with the old school vector machines and supercomputers in mind but has a backend that depends only on the availability of pthreads. I suspect that it might be possible to add support for SSE and its ilk.
The pain is not in compiling GPU code; rather, the pain is in writing good GPU code. The major difference between NVIDIA and AMD (and the major edge NVIDIA has over AMD) is not as much the compiler as it is the libraries.
Of course, I'm biased, because I work at AccelerEyes and we do GPU consulting with our freely available, but not open source, ArrayFire GPU library, which has both CUDA and OpenCL versions.
What it doesn't answer is who's going to write the compilers and if they will ever happen.
But it does prove NVIDIA is still a player in the many-core game and that there are still a few more rounds to go before there's a winner.
They're "opening the platform". We'll see what they actually do.
And, most likely, CUDA will never be done by Mesa/Gallium unless quite a few people porting legacy CUDA get together and make it happen.
OpenCL is a multi-vendor supported actual standard, even Nvidia is part of the Khronos OpenCL group, slightly implying that even Nvidia has admitted defeat.
The 60 jobs I provide now, and the 60 jobs I'm hiring for, will vaporize.
And there will be programmers who will do the work required to implement it.
This is not the right way to fight laws. In fact, this is one of the Brocard's -- Dura lex, sed lex -- "The law is harsh, but it is the law." In other words, you must obey the law, even if it is wrong. You must work to change the laws if they are unjust.
However, there is a better way to accomplish the goal imho: A truly shitty implementation. Those who are already in the position to implement it would not have to quit; they would instead commit to implementing it in the least-efficient way possible.
As a nice side effect, we will open up whole new disciplines for inefficient coding, and create all sorts of employment as people need big iron to run bad code.
All the tech for SOPA has been build and used for years in countries such as China and Iran. They already have their great firewalls and have had them for a long time.
What's more, a lot of the tech they used was built and sold to them by american companies. This war was lost probably 10 to 15 years ago.
All this bill is about is dog-fooding your own censorship products. ;)
On the flip side, the government may see any organization to halt such as illegal (I don't know what law it would violate, but I'm sure they could find something appropriate to give the organizers a nice cell in Gitmo).
Best idea if asked, is to build it, but do it incompetently (but intentionally). Poor UI, poor filters, bad tests, etc. Obfuscate the code as much as possible. Claim that its for optimization. Write it in an esoteric language that few will be able to audit properly. Pull out every trick in the book. I suppose some could call this sabotage, but it seems one way to do it. The US Government never seems to have a problem with hiring those with a strong record of incompetence.
Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, will be happy to take money to build it.
If their engineers don't build SOPA takedown tools and their organizations get their pants sued off for the ensuing noncompliance, it's the same outcome. The sites will cease to exist in their current form.
Unfortunately much of the technology used for censorship in places like China was developed in the US. Refusing to deploy it seems to be the only option. If we already have engineers willing to build these technologies it seems very likely there are going to be engineers willing to deploy it as well.
Recall what the net was like before the masses, perhaps something truly free is worth more than whatever you're giving up by not being able to sell coupons on it. Who cares if the masses never come. They just wanted to sell their freedom for a pay cheque anyway.
They're blocking DNS records and IP address? Then why don't we design and build a new system. Using the knowledge we've gained from the Internet v1 we'd be able to do a much better job with Internet v2.
We have to do a lot of work to switch over to IP6 anyhow, so why not just go the whole hog and built a new infrastructure?
WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE! ;)
"d00d, Quit being a FUCKING ASS": http://www.pigdog.org/auto/software_jihad/link/2581.html
Or if Google simply shut down it's service for a day? And Youtube, and Facebook et al.
It's an outlandish proposition, but not as outlandish as SOPA.
Governments need to understand that they don't control the internet. The people that do could switch off their parts of it, and in these tricky economic times, a co-ordinated strike by the major players would send a very clear message.
"Back off, or we'll grind the country to a halt and it'll cost you billions".
These politicians are playing dirty tricks. Their mind was made up a long time ago. They'll not be beaten by due process and fairness.
Sure there are some more specific details to make it smooth to the end user, but from a technical level it is 3 commands on a service provider router to bring down a public network.
I know this bill upsets people, but getting fired would be more upsetting to those programmers/engineers.
And then let's not forget the miserably misguided geniuses who created a airborne H1N5 virus in the name of research. Evil comes in many forms.
The problem is we are a bunch of sissies. If there was actually a general strike, would you seriously refuse to go to work until SOPA was stopped? Could you do it? Are you willing to fight for what you believe? If enough of us do it, we will get our way. We have to be willing to refuse to go to work and to cause serious suffering on the part of others until we get our way.
I'll do it, but unless enough people join me it won't matter.
Stall. Stall. Stall.
A better response will be building a technology that cannot be controlled like this. Why not just let the DNS die and replace it with something better? It is a dinosaur anyway.
I'm not saying, "Go ahead and work on SOPA." But if we really want to stop it (or any act of Congress), we must do better than such passive-aggressive smoke blowing.
If this country ever undergoes a revolution in my lifetime, I sincerely hope that the lobbyists that acted at these levels of scumminess get tried for treason.
The political system is really brilliant from the point of view of the rich. You only have to buy 100 senators and 435 representatives (actually, only 67% of them) to decide what 307 million people do, how their tax money is spent, etc.
It almost as bad as Guantanamo still being open (except some innocent people there without trial for half a decade).
When lawmakers make their own laws, they are certainly going to guarantee they can always take money and get big benefits (and skip the TSA lines at airports, etc. etc.)
I'm sure that it is above average, but it still needs to be clarified.
I worked for a politician from a Western State. He got tons of money from mining, gaming and defense contractors. He openly stated that without those three industries, his home state would barely exist. Those three employed a vast majority of his constituents and would thus would always have him in their corner.
Interestingly, he had a hard time raising money when running against an opponent who also agreed with the above points.
They aren't kidding. I think I remember this being a problem...
> Design enhances value, it does not create it. Stop creating shitty startups that look amazing.
> It is to a massive degree much, much easier to spend a week pushing pixels to create something beautiful
> If there's one thing you can rely on everyone having an opinion on, it's how something should look.
The author's conniption would appear to be around graphic design. Graphic design is a subset of design, and covers nothing close to the full scope of what goes into the design of a new product. Design is about how things work and, often, what feelings they evoke in the process. How they look can be a part of that, but it needn't always be.
For example: how delightful is it to work with a great API? Something straightforward, well-documented, but nonetheless powerful? It's such a joy. But it requires effort: planning, understanding, experimentation, adjustment, refining, etc. In a word, design.
As a test, consider the following:
Is it first engine design or is it engine making? Airframe design or airframe building? Circuit design or circuit assembly? You can't make the engine until someone designs it first. How it looks doesn't much matter â" how it works is non-negotiably essential.
Something that works well is said to be well-designed. Something that merely looks nice can be pretty â" and terribly designed.
So a startup can't have something be both shitty and well-designed at the same time.
The notion that design is a differentiating characteristic for startups comes from the fact that many incumbent products simply do not work well. By designing a product that addresses a given workflow faster, with greater convenience, with greater fun, you're making something that works better.
We're past the point where you can build technology that fits requirements and stop there. Everyone else has done that already. Now success comes in making things that are satisfying, not obnoxious, that are easily learned, that make users excited to show their friends.
tl;dr: Someone doesn't grasp the difference between design and making nice graphics, throws a tantrum of a non-sequitur.
Meanwhile, other people will somehow manage to create value, ostensibly the goal of both bloggers, without writing confrontational screeds, perhaps even writing insightful blog posts intended to inspire and challenge rather than stir up conflict.
Maybe it's writing polemics that is horseshit.
Saying "design is horseshit" makes about as much sense as saying "engineering is horseshit" or "writing well is horseshit". Read: it makes absolutely no sense.
Design is intention.
Design is function.
Design is appeal.
And, sure, design is appearance.
It should be no surprise that, yes, if you can pump enough raw "value" into something, however you care to define value, that you can ignore or short shrift design. Go ahead, limit your chances by killing your first impressions. Write poorly in your presentations while you are at it.
I mean if gold starts pouring out of your user's computer's USB ports when they load up your web page, you're right. They won't care what the background color is or what that blob in your logo is supposed to represent. If the reward is high enough, they'll kill themselves finding that magic button among all the log ins, captchas, and cryptic navigation tools.
But if you're trying to sell a new idea, one that may be unfamiliar, or if your "value" depends on the size of your user base, you might want to spent the time and effort to respect your user enough to make it clear what you intend to do. And what's in it for them.
Good ideas, and value, are sometimes not enough. They require a context to be useful and acceptable. Good engineers know this.
And, sometimes, a nice little shrubbery, in just the right place, and a splash of color, can make all the difference.
> Stop creating shitty startups that look amazing. A product or service that is indispensably useful yet looks like ass is infinitely more likely to be successful than a product that solves zero problems but looks like a work of art.
I'd say sure, in general, though that does beg the question for what problems so many "useless" but successful apps solve. (Mindless entertainment, I guess.) More importantly, though, "design" and functionality and usefulness are not at odds.
For some fun (probably less comprehensible) rantings in the other direction, have a look at http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2011/05/engineers-are-infe... and http://richardkulisz.blogspot.com/2011/06/design-principles-...
> 1. Designers tweet and blog
> 2. Design is a cheap way to appear like you're creating value
> I've created products / services in the past that have garnered praise for their design.
> 3. Everyone's a fucking designer now
Face it, you're a designer.
I don't understand how enhancing value doesn't create value. Value is value, there isn't good value and bad value, there's only more or less of it. If pushing pixels does a better job enhancing value than creating features then I am absolutely going to (have someone else) design the shit out of that product.
I see design much like I see testing. Both of these are meant to build integrity in your product. Design is perceived integrity, while testing is conceptual. If you don't proactively maintain the integrity then the lack of quality compounds. Treating them like a second class citizen will do nothing but cause troubles.
Design alone is horseshit. Engineering alone is horshit. Blogging alone is horseshit. Marketing alone is horseshit.
But put these together in the right proportion and you get a beautiful product. The proportion depends on your product/service. It takes a lot less selling, if the visual design of the product is impressive. It releases dopamine in your customer's head which urges them to put their credit card number in the checkout form. It may not be important for enterprise product as the person signing the cheque does not use your product. But it is vital for consumer and small business based products. But I agree with the author that pretty design is not a substitute for good engineering, good customer support or good marketing.
As an example, Roy Fielding describes the URLs that a RESTful webservice includes in its representation of a resource (for what transitions are available to other states) as "affordances".It could even be argued that Codd's relational model was a better "design" for thinking about databases, which he presented in terms of the problem of data models being too closely coupled with storage representation.
Of course, even this broad sense of design doesn't address whether there's a market for a solution; but it does address whether you can make a solution that's better.I can see the sense in seeking a problem that needs to be solved - in being "market-driven"... but personally, I'm much more excited about creating something better (which is only possible when you already know the problem and some existing solution, because "better than" takes two operands). And that seems to be the history of all the products I admire.
Design is everywhere not just in the shiny stuff. Design is a workflow, response, messaging, interaction... These are all areas of design you might not be able to see immediately but are often the key components of making a great product.
My guess is that every one of the companies he considers successful had good design baked into their products somewhere (even if they had terrible aesthetics).
To categorize all design in this way is very misleading to those starting a company.
Some final words on this. Some people have interpreted this as me not understanding the value of good design. I assure you I do from experience, tweet at me if you want specifics.
However - create value before exploring how design can enhance the experience. Solve a real customer problem. If you're an early stage startup with no revenue, don't even think about design! Think hard about what problem you can solve that a customer will give you $10 for and work your ass off at delivering that $10 of value as fast and as cheaply as possible. It doesn't even matter if you're not aiming to make a paid service. If people won't give you money to solve their problems, it's not a real fucking problem. It's just another novelty echo-chamber startup that you might get a chance to flip to a bigger fish if you win the startup lottery. Don't be an idiot and buy into that. Solve a problem, live forever. The idea that design is what early stage startups should be busying their time with is a notion I find utterly wrong.
Design starts from understanding and empathizing with the user. Design helps to shape the product and connect with the users emotionally.
The Design Fund highlights the importance of designers in startups not just because they make things look pretty. Designers are usually trained to understand users emotionally. An engineer look at a problem and start using equations to solve it. A designer look at a problem, start by understanding the user, and develop a way to solve it.
Design teams in big companies have User Researchers (on the ground, understanding users, find out needs, etc), User Experience Designers (connecting the dots from research to product, how the product should function and flow), Interaction Designers (that transition effect you see in iOS? not just pretty. Helps users to orientate where they are at), Visual Designers (make things pretty).
As you can see, in the whole field of design, only Visual Designers are the ones who really make things pretty. Once again, The Design Fund values designers because they look at things differently, and they can build products with emotion. (Apple products have a lot of emotion tied to people)
*I am not part of The Design Fund.
If you agree with the flawed logic of Jon then you must substitute the word âDesignâ with any discipline concerning the action or behavior of creating value. Thus making a series of useless posts like âEngineering is Horseshitâ and so on. You don't see the design community getting mad at engineers who spend weeks designing an optimal database sharding strategy for building things like a daily-deal aggregator which has 0 users and a growth rate of âDivide by Zero Errorâ and no viable user acquisition strategy. Of course entrepreneurs should focus on value creation and finding product market fit before spending an inappropriate amount of energy on other activities whether that be visual design or backend infrastructure. Any entrepreneur I invest in should know that elementary lesson from experience or reading the Lean Startup etc.
In fact, the design community faces a huge problem because almost everyone thinks design == make things beautiful and that is one of the things that has been holding back design in startups for so long.
commieneko said it well:
"Design is clarity.Design is intention.Design is function.Design is appeal.And, sure, design is appearance."
So yes, spending a ton of time altering the drop shadow on your button and the RGB value of your logo might be time wasted in a startup. But spending time clarifying what your product does, or devising a smoother way to onboard users, or figuring out a way to highlight your more expensive plan, or any number of other things good designers are thinking about while also "making things beautiful" is not wasting time.
It's unfortunate that designers still have to battle ignorant misconceptions that their work is about pushing pixels and making things look pretty. At it's heart, design is exactly what this article is advocating for; understanding a deep user need and developing an elegant experience that fulfills that need.
The author is not suggesting not having quality design. He isn't even saying design isn't an itegral part of product development.
he's saying everyone is skipping step one, namely figure out what problem you're going to solve. No one asks the proverbial question 'How is my product going to get them laid' (to paraphrase jwz) They just skip straight to having a great way of doing the same exact thing everyone else does just as well.
I see design as an enabler. Engineering is where the heavy lifting is done, but design is what makes that possible. I hate to bring up Apple as an example, but when you look at, for example, Siri: voice recognition, understanding grammar and meaning within human sentences and the all technology behind it is fantastic engineering. But what differentiates Siri from anything else out there is the design. The fact that the AI has a personality, that it jokes around and does not feel like a machine, that's what makes it accessible to humans and what makes it so insanely great. And that's design.
I agree with the author to the extend that glossy buttons and a textured background does not a good product make. Indeed, there's a lot of good-looking crap out thereâ"but that's not design, and the author's argument that that's what design is makes him look like an ignorant fool.
Why is such a simple concept so hard for people to understand in practice?
Graphic design is visual engineering.
Sometimes the value proposition put forward by a company is 'a way to [do x] better'; if better is equivalent to 'more efficiently', 'more cheaply' or 'more easily' - chances are design is going to be factor that allows the change to happen.
Articles like this are the real droppings. The submitter merely the bowels.
I don't understand what the author is so riled up about. Why not just delegate responsibilities? Let a designer focus on design, while the engineers focus on the actual product. Does it hurt to have a designer? I don't see why it would.
Good luck trying to sell something to the general public that looks horrid. No matter how well it works.
Those who aren't building the product often can't express ideas about what they don't see or know about. To them, the design is the surface, the user interface. So naturally they assume that if they want to create a product with "good" design, they should hire someone who does the visual part, and make their product look just like other products that they think are well designed.
If you want a good counter-example, about good design that is very subtle and runs very deep, read "The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance" by Henry Petroski.
Design with utility has inherent value that can be quantified. It's silly to categorically say design is horseshit.
Did I mention it's silly?
To single out design from any other process involved in creating value makes zero sense. In fact in many products design, including visual design is a key differentiator that actually gives the product value (think iPod vs all other mp3 players).
Only programmers or engineers creating extemely cutting edge products that have no competitors could take this attitude than design issues can be set aside till later.What serious person would consider starting a business without incorporating design from the beginning?
Whatever meme out there about design being an edge in a startup is responding to what I see is an incorrect undervaluing of design in the tech community.
Another subtext in the discussion is many tech start ups are making software, web based or otherwise. On a typical program huge amounts of value are delivered as pixels. The user interface is also pixels. A lot of software are tools. Graphic design is mandatory for the thing to exist! Widgets are make or break whether a software tool even works at all.
I use audio software in my job (all day) and many competing applications in this space are at feature parity. UI and Ux is what separate apps that work really well from apps that are painfully slow and frustrating to use. Just consider how color is used in a complex app. It communicates feedback, breaks up function grouping, it helps you find and remember features, it provides a hopefully not unpleasant visual experience since one is staring at for extended periods.I think we are in the Dark Ages of human computer interaction and that bad visual design is a huge contributor to the problem.
BTW, anyone have examples of web services with great design don't offer value?
...you've also [wisely?] abandoned projects that had great promise without to due diligence necessary to hand them off to a willing steward (Sweetcron).
I was pleased to see your domain here on HN, but I still have a bitter taste after being forced to abandon Sweetcron in favor of Chyrp. Regardless, I've been quite impressed by what you've delivered thus far and am pleased to see your weight provided in the direction of reason.
This is exactly what design is.
The update is worthy to read too.
2. Count the number of Apple devices in use. White earbuds are a dead giveaway.
3. Go hire a designer that knows what they're doing and try and accomodate their ideas into those of engineering without making a capon out of anyone.
4. Keep iterating.
There is huge value in being able to communicate problems visually that comes with the experience provided by being a designer early career.
Personally I find myself in that situation, early stage startup where whilst I have the tech background, design has never come easily to me (and my co-founders are even worst). As we have bootstrapped we didnt have the money for great design and did the best we could! That said it hasnt been the make or break as we have executed well, however first impressions always count... and when looking for investment we have more than once had potential investors misjudge how far we have come or compare us negatively to others in our space as we did not have the design 'edge'. Its a shame, but its a fact of life appearances mean a lot..
Perhaps off topic but be interesting to know how others have managed to overcome gaps in skillsets when bootstrapping? we dont seem to have any contacts with good design skills and available time..
This topic is probably the first thing they've all ever agreed on.
Otherwise politicians will reduce some of the bill, but the bill will still implement more and more Internet controls .
Wouldn't SOPA's effects on DNS be negated by simply hosting your sites' DNS and setting your machines' DNS servers outside the US? Of course this would have major negative impact on DNS performance.
"Dear Congresscritters, we made the internet. It is now everywhere. If you pit the full force of the law against it -- the law will lose. Do not make yourselves irrelevant."
They move so fast it is scary, sometimes they explode on impact. This makes you pretty nervous about dropping them.
Then, one day one got dropped over a chunk of solid aluminum. It floated gently to the metal landing with a soft 'click'. Besides the initial surprise (I realized the eddy currents induced a magnet field of opposing polarity in the aluminum) what struck me most was the force of that opposing magnet. If you tried to force the magnet close to the aluminum at speed it would resist so strongly that you never managed to smash it into it with any kind of effectiveness. Always just that soft 'click'.
I still have a bunch of 3"x2"x1" neos waiting for some project, and whenever someone visits that's interested in technology I show them what those things can do, if you have tried to pry one of those from a chunk of solid steel (or if you're unlucky, another magnet) you know what I mean when I say I have a lot of respect for those little golden blocks.
Exploding zen magnet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q...
140-sided zen magnet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRiMexbocBI&feature=relmf...
Interlaced dodecahedron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2qfCn3gclQ&feature=relmf...
"Hell's Diamond": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OF2i8eG7KhA&feature=relmf...
That would be one hell of an experience.
Am I correct in assuming that if he did it all day, it would not actually be so cool, as the copper tube would be heated up by the induced currents?
Question: If this same thing were to be done in a circular copper pipe that feeds into itself (ie a hoola hoop made of copper), and that hoop were rotated at the correct speed, would the magnet in effect never actually move and just hover in mid air?
I was sort of hoping that the factory would look like that plexiglass prison in the X-Men movie that was designed to prevent Magneto from using his powers.
Alas, it's nothing like that, but it's an interesting video nonetheless.
"Just weird stuff. Eddy currents."
The disk had slotted sectors, so you could tell that the braking effect was less when those sectors were in the gap.
I don't know if the exhibit survived the themparkification of fi.edu... I hope so but somehow I doubt it.
Please explain to me how this works, I will buy you a donut
As the torrent sites go down they'll come back up as tor hidden services. Once we're on tor or something like it the game changes entirely. As we stop trusting the root DNS, we'll start trusting something like a bitcoin hash chain based DNS system, as we create an anonymized, decentralized internet freedom of expression increases exponentially. No URDP, no SOPA, no unencrypted protocols, security of the person in their effects will be guaranteed by mathematics and not the good will of politicians.
With all the monitoring, etc thats already in place it's only a matter of time. We have the opportunity to lay the foundations of a decentralized internet over something as trivial as copyright rather than freedom of speech. We'll stop having to rely on a government to respect our liberties and instead instill them in the design of the system.
Decentralized information, decentralized currency, decentralized control over the future of humanity.
While it's true that this system created by SOPA will inevitably be abused to curtail civil rights, the important thing to remember is that most people care far more about getting their music than getting their rights.
Lets give the people their music, and they'll get their rights as they go along for the ride.
That said, a lot of these "solutions" that people are coming up with just end up getting closer and closer to what the DNS already accomplishes.
The worst case scenario here is just a fragmented DNS, and the US losing control of the .com TLD. The "doomsday" scenario here is that DNS servers stop trusting the root servers, and don't take updates from them.
This is a gigantic headache for network and system administrators. It is not the end of the internet.
If you guys really really care that much, here: http://www.verisigninc.com/en_US/products-and-services/domai...
Apply for access to the .com zone files, download them, and up your own DNS servers. Don't accept any updates from anybody ever and you'll have a much, much, much more complete, much more "you can query this as a daemon" version of these silly lists.
and from a technical standpoint, most of those websites listed use CDNs for static assets, so unless you list the constantly-changing IPs of akamai and other servers for all of the weird random-looking hostnames used by those CDNs, many of those sites will not even load to a usable state. (and porn sites? really?)
also, from the reddit thread:
As some posters suggested, you can use another DNS server. The two server I'm reasonably certain about are OpenDNS and Google DNS. Both of them are US based but I think Google will move it's server to Europe if SOPA passes.
using a resolver in the EU from the US would be frustratingly slow due to the latency. you're better off showing users how to setup their own caching servers to bypass their ISP (i've always run my own caching server just for technical reasons).
and do you really think google cares about SOPA? they have done practically nothing to stop it; no notice on their homepage, no public awareness, only one legal representative sent to the preliminary hearing, etc. this is the same company that partnered with china and supported their censorship just to make some additional ad revenue.
Use this one to go there directly:
At the very least it will tie up the system
Or it might actually show these guys what kind of monster they have brought about ... kind of like Sarcozy's household being disconnected from the internet
But it's OK when THEY do it, right?
However, if there are only foreign sites (registrar is abroad), then I doubt any major sites are hosted there, besides
Correct me if I'm wrong, but under the current SOPA, only FOREIGN SITES can have their financials cut off, right? I thought the Operation In Our Sites is able to already seize domain names registered locally. So it seems to me that the SOPA simply adds provisions to censor sites registered abroad, in American DNS only, because their registrar is beyond US jurisdiction.
For example Russians use vkontakte.ru to listen to any song. What would SOPA do about this?
However, YouTube contains lots of uploaded songs and the US government could have seized their domain for a long time already, but didn't.
So I think the threat is more to the purity and security of the worldwide DNS system, as well as to the costs of the ISPs, than it is to social networking sites. At least, I hope. Does SOPA override the DMCA for locally-registered sites, or did Operation In Our Sites just give carte blanche to the government to take out sites?
The trouble will come when websites get blocked that do not have enough public support to bring them back again.
As long as Facebook and Gmail are up, it's only nerds like us who will care.
it allows for dated updates, distributing in web pages, etc, but it's only a command line interface. i hoped someone might add a gui...
However, this list is interesting because it draws attention to the fact that these huge sites COULD legally vanish without a trace. Although I doubt anyone's going to seriously try to take down Facebook or Amazon using SOPA, it's still scary to imagine.
The fact remains that piracy is dishonest, and only serves to legitimize the claims of Big Media. Say what you want about DRM, copyright law and ridiculous terms of service, but if you're really someone who believes in free government and the important role of the Internet in preserving it, I hope you join with me in rolling your eyes at people who torrent illegal media and worry about the effect of SOPA on their porn viewing. There are plenty of ways to buy inexpensive, DRM-free music, and plenty of ways to actually support the artists who make the music.
Just a thought.
Call your local representative and get them to shut down Reddit and Google Docs via SOPA! </2012>
The sky is not falling. Shame to see the "I need to be outraged by something, regardless of whether it's true or not" spilling over here from Reddit.
(Although we have a bigger problem in the EU right now - ACTA is about to be signed by the Commission, Parliament vote pending in a couple of weeks.)
Big thumbs up for Congressmen Issa (R-CA), Polis (D-CO), Lofgren (D-CA) and Chaffetz (R-UT) for their performance. Remember those names if you vote in their districts.
Smith seems to be Public Enemy #1 on this issue, and I believe he represents a part of Texas with some tech presence (Austin). There may be others who are good targets as well...if the message is "support this anti-technology bill and you'll lose your job", maybe other Congresspeople will think twice about supporting MPAA-written legislation.
(Or maybe they won't. But we won't know unless we try.)
More on ACTA:
" ...and routes around it! "