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Google Inbox
1032 points by jmdenis  1 day ago   443 comments top 102
Lewisham 1 day ago 16 replies      
I've been using Inbox at El Goog for a while now, and I am happy to answer questions (in between dealing with a newborn...)

FWIW, I really like it, and use it exclusively for my work and personal accounts. Inbox functions very much more like a ToDo list than it does an email client. Here are the workflows I have:


I filter all mailing lists into different clusters that I have appear at 7AM every morning. I then scrub through the subject lists to see what happened yesterday, pinning things that require my attention, and then sweeping the rest. At this point, everything pinned in my Inbox is now "something I need to look at". I then read the email, and decide if it has an action item or not. If it's actionable and I intend to do it today, I'll leave it pinned. If it's not something I'm going to do today, I'll Snooze it until I think I'll have time to do it, or at least evaluate another Snooze time.

To make sure I don't miss important emails, I have a cluster that I put all email that has myself explicitly in the To: line, and have that appear whenever anything arrives. I do occasionally miss things that didn't have me in the To: and went to my 7AM clusters, but this is few and far between, and I hazard happens less than my Gmail inbox where I had far more cognitive load on managing the emails there.


The defaults are tuned well for home, and I use the clusters (like Travel, Purchases etc) like I do for work, having them appear at 7AM each day. Most things get swept immediately, and again I pin things that require my attention and are maybe ToDo items.

Inbox is really opinionated about its workflow: if you struggle against it, you'll have a bad time, and you'll prefer Gmail's flexibility. However, if you are Inbox Zero or GTD minded, I think you'll love Inbox. Inbox is my ToDo list, and replaces Wunderlist/Things/Evernote/Google Tasks for me. I set reminders to myself for work items that don't have an email attached.

I encourage everyone to give it a week to see if it suits them, but I'm afraid I'm all out of invites for now :(

GuiA 1 day ago 28 replies      
Congrats to Google on shipping!

Side question: am I the only person fully satisfied by my email workflow? I practice inbox 0- if an email is in my inbox, it means something needs to be done about it (whether it's replying, filing a bug report, writing a patch, etc). Once it's done, it gets archived. I star the stuff that I'll need to refer to later, like tickets for a flight or concert. I then have a few server side rules to do things like mark certain classes of emails as read (eg build logs, mailing lists), so as to not flood my phone with notifications. And... that's it.

(edit: oh and yes, I am also very diligent about unsubscribing from the stuff I know will never be relevant, rather than just archiving it and forgetting about it until another email from the same source comes up a week later. After a few weeks of consistently practicing this, your inbox gets much better)

I get probably a few hundred emails a day at most (work+personal), and this system works great for me. I know people like Paul Graham think email is utterly broken, but when you're at their level I'm not sure ~any~ tool will be satisfying - they're absolutely outliers.

So HNers, do you really have a problem with your email workflow, or is everyone just repeating "email is broken" because some smart people with an ungodly amount of email said so?

inoop 1 day ago 8 replies      
I'm not sure what this 'inbox' does, but from judging from the video it's about a bunch of twenty-something hipsters from California high-fiving each other.
cwilson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been using this for the last 4 hours or so. I closed the old gmail in my browser and swapped default apps on my phone.

My quick thoughts on the iPhone app:

Good overall. It's just as good as most of the new line of productivity focused apps that have been released (and acquired) over the last year.

My quick thoughts on the web interface (inbox.google.com):

This is where it's really shining for me. Finally email doesn't feel like a spreadsheet with buttons anymore. It feels like Gmail should feel in 2014. Now that I've started using this, it would feel painful to go back to normal Gmail. You just kind of have to start using it to understand, but I really like it.

All of the new features (reminders, pinning emails, bundles, and one-button archiving of bundles like promotions and forums) are great . I've used almost every new feature already and they all feel like a natural part of a flow.

The only nitpick I have at the moment is the integrated chat in the web interface. It's defaulted to the Hangouts style chat, which I'm not a huge fan of. In old Gmail you have a choice of using the normal version of chat or Hangouts chat, and I've always turned off Hangouts chat. I really wish you could do that here, but I'm not seeing an option for it and my guess is there will never be one.

Overall however I'm really happy with this new version of Gmail and will continue to use it everyday.

IkmoIkmo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Oh god, the video? Amazing models doing fun recreational stuff. At the end of the video I didn't feel I knew anymore more about Inbox than I did before.

I mean I get it... but it still feels stupid to do something like that, worse to sit through it and realize you're not watching to be informed by substance, you're watching to be convinced by style.

dkulchenko 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here's what I got in response to my invite request:

  Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:     inbox@inbox.gmrservice.ext.google.com  Technical details of permanent failure:    Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the relay gmr-smtp-in.l.google.com by gmr-smtp-in.l.google.com. [2607:f8b0:400e:c04::e].  We recommend contacting the other email provider at postmaster@gmr-smtp-in.l.google.com for further information about the cause of this error.  The error that the other server returned was:  550-5.2.1 The user you are trying to contact is receiving mail at a rate that   550-5.2.1 prevents additional messages from being delivered. For more   550-5.2.1 information, please visit   550 5.2.1 http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?answer=6592 j1si1502294pdb.1 - gsmtp
Nice one, Google.

steven 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I got the demo on Monday, I was struck most by how Google Now technology was integrated. That's why I called my piece (on Medium/Backchannel) "Inbox, the app child of Gmail and Google Now." Now that I have the app, I'm enjoying it. Very clean.
pcwalton 1 day ago 1 reply      
Chrome only, it seems. Disappointing. https://twitter.com/brianleroux/status/524987137892954112
caffeineninja 1 day ago 6 replies      
This looks very much like Mailbox, in particular the swipe left and right to archive/snooze a message.
coryfklein 1 day ago 0 replies      
The first video on the page is useless. Full of images of people on their computer and phones, running on the beach, etc. After watching the video, I still have no idea what Inbox really is besides "an improvement to email" (supposedly).
jawns 1 day ago 0 replies      
I get the impression that this is more the next generation of Google Now than it is the next generation of Gmail. (Google Now is all about plucking out information from larger sources of data and bringing the most important stuff to the front as it's needed.)

I suppose I could see how this would be useful if you're using your smart watch or your phone and only want the most important facts, boiled down to their essence. (But then, doesn't Google Now already do that?)

Outside of that context, it doesn't seem like you'll ordinarily have both Inbox and Gmail open at the same time, because (as far as I can see) Inbox is just a way of better organizing and presenting the underlying data, whereas Gmail is more like the raw feed.

adambratt 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been messing around with the new email schema stuff that Google has had out for the past year or so.

I'm really looking forward to having a more intelligent layer around email. It's a great messaging protocol but up until now it's been mostly contextless.

I don't see email going away anytime soon and projects like this just confirm its usefulness.

For those who haven't seen it yet take a look at Google's email schema stuff: https://developers.google.com/gmail/actions/

daturkel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Certainly ties into the discussion about google making two of everything [0]. It's not clear how this product is meant to co-exist naturally with gmail.

[0]: http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/10/googles-product-stra...

ed_blackburn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly I have my google account hooked up with custom domains so it won't work. I'm looking forward to trying this when it is available.

I can understand why google don't want to push this on large organisations in case it results in expensive support, but as a paying google customer It'd be nice to have the choice.

vmarsy 1 day ago 0 replies      
After a bit of use, I think I like it.

I was curious about the relation between Inbox and Gmail.My current Gmail has a lot of filters and labels.

When looking at the labels, you have the choice of displaying them as "Clusters" in your main inbox, which is pretty convenient.

I did that to my Friends label and it is now a Friends cluster.

Note that it doesn't change anything in Gmail: the label is still here, all the filters that interact with it are still here too.

I realized that one of my friends wasn't in the cluster, so I moved it in it, and clicked on "Always do this", it prompted me : "Always move emails from Myfriend@email.com to Friends" .2 remarks about this:

-This is a very basic way of adding some emails from bundling, in the future I except to be able to specialize more: for instance sometimes I get important emails from a co-worker, but he also sends a daily reminder that I don't care so much about, I would like to be able to move it to the bundle Useless updates only it comes from him AND has this specific subject. That is something we can do through the Gmail filters, but not through the Always do this interface yet.

-Curiously it created a filter in my old Gmail filters with as a rule : " from:Myfriend@email.com Action: "The filter has no action, so I assume that when I will be receiving an email from that friend , in Inbox it will go into the good cluster, but in Gmail the label "Friend" won't be appended to it, this means that Gmail rules/filters apply to Inbox, but Inbox rules dont apply to Gmail.

The Inbox's "Done" is doing the same thing as the Gmail's "Archive" .

I haven't been able to experience the snoozing feature yet

bearbin 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks great. It seems like the extension of what they've been doing with Now for a while - all the information you need in easily actionable cards.
cantrevealname 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish Google had used a less generic name. Searching for "mail isn't showing up in my inbox" is either going to show you generic mail problems or Google Inbox problems. Apple's "Messages" app is a terrible name in the same way.
GI_Josh 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recently spent the better part of a day clearing out my work inbox because I'd heard too many people preach about inbox 0, and how the only things in their inbox were things they actively needed to work on.

This worked for all of two days for me. Now, a week later, my inbox is once again packed, with nothing being moved or deleted, just read. That's just a flow that seems to work better for me. My to-do lists that I actually need to pay attention to are in other places... I'm looking at Jira to see what needs my development attention and in what order, for example. I'm pleased with treating my email as a giant bin where everything gets thrown, but can easily be fished out again given the need.

While I imagine this is all dependent on just how much email you actually get in a day, systems like Google Inbox seem useful to me at first, until I realize I'm no longer following the system, or I'm spending too much time deciding on where an email should be filed instead of simply acting on it and moving on with my life.

Chevalier 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm. I'm not sure that this is actually an email app. For the record, I think Gmail and its steady incremental improvements embody email perfection -- I can't imagine going back to life before auto-sorted tabs -- and I'm totally willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt. Still... it's tough to see how Inbox improves on Gmail.

Instead of email, I think Inbox is an effort to finally (FINALLY) improve GTasks by marrying it into Gmail and Google Now. GTasks is woefully lacking. My recent switch to Trello has absolutely revolutionized my work flow, more than I thought possible. Inbox's autotasking looks like a big improvement on the dumb list, but it still doesn't look like a real competitor to Trello's kanban system.

(One last plug for Trello, just because using it for an hour has turned me into a wild-eyed fanatic. It's AMAZING. Try it!)

nazca 1 day ago 3 replies      
If you are using Google Apps Free edition, you're good to go.

If you pay for Google Apps, you get shafted. Nice.

insanemac 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Not getting a invitation yet, pity
BinaryIdiot 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks interesting; is this coming to iOS and Android or just Android? Also curious if this will make an appearance in web form as the Gmail and its suite of apps are woefully outdated (Gmail, Contacts, Tasks and Calendar have had some bugs for years and are simply behind on the good UX front).
MCRed 1 day ago 3 replies      
New Rule: I'm officially done with artificially segregating people into "cool people" who have an invite and the rest of us who have to get in line.

Simple was the worst offender-- I should have known with the multi-year wait, to be capped off by bigoted comments from a cofounder to me on twitter (about an unrelated matter. But hey, your CxO makes a bigoted comment- I'm no longer your customer!)

But it's not just Simple, it's google with the wave invites, google with the gmail invites going back when, google with the orkut invites, google with the Plus invites, etc.

No more, Google.

noinput 1 day ago 0 replies      
Video: we're fixing email because people send too much of it

Blog Post: email inbox@google.com to try it.

..I got a good chuckle.

yournemesis 1 day ago 0 replies      
WTF google? You get me interested in a product. I download it on my phone no problem. But then when I go to open it I'm told that it is invite only. I missed this detail in the blog since it isn't mentioned until the end. Knowingly allowing me to download a program I can't even use? This is a perfect recipe for a 1 star review. How it has so many 5 star review is beyond me.

Oh well, I still really want to try it. So I clicked the invite link that makes me use gmail (the app I'm replacing) to send an email. However, it's not a standard mailto link but a link to https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox?compose=new . Seriously? Now I have to type in an email address because Google failed to use one of the most primitive features of HTML. So far my email experience has only been less convenient.

Anyway, I uninstalled it from my phone. I'll just wait a year or so to see if it flops like several of there other products and then maybe install it.

eellpp 1 day ago 1 reply      
The basic assumption behind this seems to be that marketing spam in email will keep increasing and instead of fighting against it, organising content around it is better approach.

Most people (who nowadays carry lot of personal/group communication around facebook/whatsapp) still get a lot of mails on product deals, newsletters etc. Email is also the tool for login, password recovery and for other utilities like that. Beyond that its the primary tool to do the most important thing : send a official mail to whoever concerned. May be to the president of country or to the school principal. Reducing the noise into this core tool should be of importance. Facebook/Whatsapp has take out a big chunk of casual and group communication, which is good. Something that could keep out the product marketing out of email could be of next good change.

I think the movement should be towards reducing the unwanted content in emails, than organising the unwanted.

thallukrish 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have used Google Inbox, but if I read the comments here, the overarching thing seem to be to make a zero inbox. Why cannot you do this with your existing email client? What are the features of Google Inbox that helps you do this? And why do you need to make your inbox zero? Is it like you want the email client to show up the high priority ones that you need to attend to at the top? How does a Google Inbox automatically know what is high priority for you ? Sorry if my understanding is not aligned to what is offered by Google Inbox.
scrollaway 1 day ago 0 replies      
GOS talked about it a few days ago before the announcement for those interested: http://googlesystem.blogspot.se/2014/10/google-inbox.html

I'm interested but I keep seeing that this sort of stuff never takes into accounts things such as mailing lists (a la mailman and such). I hope I'm wrong.

sdk16420 1 day ago 4 replies      
I don't understand why people want some algorithm to sort your email for you. IMO email should always be sorted chronologically, and if it's too much, then used rules and folders/labels. Your inbox is not the place to add reminders. With the Google strategy you will have reminders everywhere seperately: calendar, email, phone, IM, texts, etc.

Inbox by Gmail: the Facebook of email.

janoelze 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm so happy Google finally found its design language. This looks beautiful. Really something to build on.
shostack 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is the first step towards some of the functionality in the movie "Her."

Trusting an AI (or algorithm in this case) to sort your email and bubble up different aspects is a huge task, and I'm glad to see Google finally start putting their full might behind it.

danbruc 1 day ago 5 replies      
What I always wonder - do people actually use email for private communication? Everybody uses email at work, but at home? From time to time I sign up for a new service or order something and get confirmation mails or I send a couple of emails back and forth to resolve an issue with a service I am using, but it is always between me and some business.

The number of emails I have written to or received from friends is negligible and I am not aware of anyone heavily using email for private communication. Everybody just calls or writes a SMS or uses WhatsApp or Facebook or ICQ, but never email.

So am I - and the people I know - a rare case or did just nobody advertising email related stuff recognize that no one uses email for private communication?

aashishpatil 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am the developer of Evelope email app for iOS. Its got a clustering feature that seems similar to Gmails' Bundles - auto grouping of similar emails (Receipts, Offers, ). Entire clusters can be moved,deleted,archived. And it works with Gmail, Yahoo, iCloud, Outlook.



ssijak 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really, really like the idea that they are pushing you to always have clean inbox. I always struggled with that, making my own systems. Also grouping of similar emails sounds promising.But I hate this invite thing, so if someone have a spare invite, I would be really thankful if you can send one to ssijak@gmail.com
danieldk 1 day ago 1 reply      
I love Google Now, so I will probably like this as well. However, one thing I start worrying about more as I come to rely more on such tools is: what is the chance to miss something important? What is relevant is picked based on heuristics and statistical models, and it might miss things that I consider to be very important.

Obviously, human errors occur in a more traditional approach where you use an e-mail client, calendar, and todo application. However, it would be interesting to see how accurate such machine-learned approaches are, compared to manual methods for information management.

legohead 1 day ago 0 replies      
years in the making of solving a problem that doesn't exist. another google "wave".
covi 1 day ago 0 replies      
When composing in Inbox, how do we get the nice "Plain text mode" option available in Gmail? The most useful thing it brings is to automatically line-wrap the emails.
ProAm 1 day ago 0 replies      
MIT can't be thrilled with the name being taken (albeit it Inbox is so generic I dont see this brand becoming worth much)[1][2]



suprgeek 1 day ago 0 replies      
An interesting comparison might be to the Zoho Inbox Insights [1] app that is slated to land fairly soon.If reports are to be believed this app has similar functionality.

[1] http://www.pcworld.com/article/2837812/zoho-nips-at-google-i...

mohamedbassem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sending an email to inbox@google.com fails with the error :"the user you are trying to contact is receiving mail at a rate that prevents additional messages from being delivered."
jinushaun 1 day ago 0 replies      
Man, no wonder Google has a diversity problem. This video was a montage of young millennial hipsters partying. Somewhere in there email was involved.

On topic... Looks a lot like Mailbox. I'd be worried if I was Mailbox.

diltonm 1 day ago 0 replies      
It looks pretty, it looks like it might end the hide and seek with attachments on a smart phone client; not a problem on a desktop but I can never find the attachments in Gmail on the phone. I'm not sure I like that idea that it decides what's important and highlights it; probably because it would get it right most of the time. I could get used to it.
andrewguenther 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't stand how little I can see at a glance in my inbox now. With the Gmail app on my Nexus 5, I could see 7 emails in the default inbox view. With Inbox I can see 3. Two of which do not include a subject line because they have been grouped "Social" or "Purchases" and will take an additional tap to view. I'm going to give it some time, but for now I find most of the content to be a horrible waste of space.
mudil 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I would like to see is Gmail becoming more like Zendesk/Desk.com. So I can effectively manage responses, contacts, etc, with a single click and pre-defined responses.
covi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Eventual consistency / Lost Updates at play? I have tried sweeping the "Low Priority" emails; whenever I clicked the tick that group entry was gone. So far so good. However, whenever a new email popped up and was classified in that group, the whole group appeared again.

Or am I just misunderstanding the feature and do I just have to mark individual email as done one by one?

joshfinnie 1 day ago 4 replies      
I am sad that this seems to be Gmail only. Why have developers lost touch with standard IMAP protocols so we can use these new fancy apps with any email provider...
gcb0 1 day ago 0 replies      
from the site is is just gmail with the ability to accept/snooze calendar events.

also the spam inbox (what they are trying to label as offers or something on gmail) is not part of the priority inbox.

besides that, and all the smiling happy people in the Ad, all i could grasp is that they added lots and lots of white space around each message to compensate for the humongous size of that phone screen.

Dwolb 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's good that they got the 'bundles' in there, but much of this looks like it's a Google Now integration into Gmail. There's a ton of anxiety around information gathering, organizing, monitoring, and 'checking the box' that this solution glances by, but doesn't directly address. I don't believe this solution will compete with most people's other email inbox.
erenemre 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm definitely not the target audience for this and I really hope that Google isn't going to force me to upgrade to Inbox. Looking at you G+.
amluto 1 day ago 2 replies      
Google says "its a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters."

I thought that things like having a text editor that allows me to reliably do complex things like typing and pasting without losing my place, or perhaps a compose window that can be resized, really mattered. Since Gmail doesn't have either of those, maybe Inbox will add them :)

jerkywez 1 day ago 0 replies      
I went to a google IO event when wave was the next best thing to email clients. Like many things, it died off because of adoption rates and bloated UI trying to achieve world domination. On the flip side i loved the talk like a pirate channel bot ;p Lets hope Inbox does not go down the same path..
hadoukenio 1 day ago 1 reply      
5 star reviews in the Google Play Store from people who haven't even got an invite? The system is broken.
NicoJuicy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm wondering if the inbox is integrated with Google Keep for tasks and if there will become API's available?

It's to bad Google Keep only has an internal API (that isn't available to us)

alaxsxaq 1 day ago 0 replies      
It will be interesting to see how companies like Boxer 'pivot' in response to this. I started using Boxer a little while ago specifically to deal with the email-becomes-todo-item issue which Gmail generally lacked. Not sure I'd have any reason to continue to use it if I could score an invite to Inbox (hint hint).
rocky1138 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mods can you change the URL of this post to http://www.google.com/inbox/ ? It's way more informative and actually details what the app does.
flavor8 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps cool. I honestly wish they'd change their approach to quality & bug reporting, though. I get the impression that all of their developers are so busy making new & shiny that the tools that we rely on everyday are just languishing. I've never had any bug that I've reported via their product forums fixed.
algorithm_dk 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks awesome! Now I won't be able to decide between this, myMail and Mailbox :'(Can anyone shoot an invite to andrew(at)algorithm.dk?Thank you!
Angostura 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is it just me, or do all these attempts to mould e-mail to avoid cognitive overload just create cognitive overload.

"E-mail - a list of messages from people, by default displayed in the order they arrived." Isn't that simplicity refreshing?

aagha 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's the "sync" between Gmail and Inbox like? If you Snooze an email in Inbox, what happens to it in Gmail? If you put it in a bundle, what's that do to it in your inbox?
jcampbell1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Snoozing emails, and turning emails into tasks, is the one feature that is important to me and gmail has been missing. I have tried some hacks like "mailbox" by dropbox, and "taskforce", etc, and they worked well, but it didn't work across all platforms.

I am looking forward to trying this out.

simcop2387 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't hurt me too much, if anyone has an invite: simcop2387@gmail.com
frogpelt 1 day ago 0 replies      
The UI looks a lot like Twitter.

That doesn't attract me for some reason.

nagarjun 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't wait to try this out. I'm drawing a few parallels to Acompli (when it comes to how Inbox handles attachments) and I love Acompli. Hope they add Google Apps support soon.
Illniyar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Judging from this: http://www.google.com/inbox/ , we have:

* Folder and Rules (with the only distinction of having some pre-populated ones, I think)

* Some smart content extraction from known emails (reservations, invoices, etc...) - probably going to be a privacy nightmare

* Todo and reminders ( what's new about this? outlook/gmail calendar/thunderbird-lightning all do this)

* Snooze for reminders - yeah...

n72 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds to me very much like the Active Inbox plugin, which I've been using for a couple of years and proselytize mercilessly. It's based on the GTD way of doing things.
andygambles 1 day ago 1 reply      
So my question is this an App only or will it be part of the Gmail interface?
valanto 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone got an invite to spare? Would be great to get one! (my email is valanto@gmail.com)
shafiahmedbd 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you happen to have invites, could you send me one too? Thank you. My e-mail: shafiahmedbd@gmail.com
whoisthemachine 1 day ago 0 replies      
These bundles, categories, etc. that are being introduced really just seem like re-hashed labels. Why did they need to introduce these other methods of grouping e-mails together?
SergeyDruid 1 day ago 0 replies      
No support for Gingerbread on play store (I have an Ace Plus but I'm about to buy a Moto G) :(
arenaninja 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't tested it, but watching the video with no sound it looks like making email more like a social network. Either way, how about going back to the way email used to be? I dislike composing e-mails inline, I dislike having to dig through a menu to pop out a modal, or having to memorize everyone's icons because apparently text isn't cool anymore.. how about giving me a page dedicated to composing, instead of adding another layer to the current page and hiding the options from plain sight? From what I've seen on this so far, it appears that this moves in the opposite direction of that
Siecje 1 day ago 0 replies      
> You can even teach Inbox to adapt to the way you work by choosing which emails youd like to see grouped together.


KhalilK 1 day ago 3 replies      
Meta note: That is one of the smoothest and pleasant scrolling experiences I've had on the web! Kudos to the web devs!
wy 1 day ago 0 replies      
The latest product from Sparrow? I've been already into the refreshing UIs of Inbox.

Can't wait for the invitation.

coffeemug 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could someone please invite me -- coffeemug@gmail.com. I'd love to play with the product
Demiurge 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really hope this means that if I disable this "Inbox" in Gmail clients I can get back my ASCII email...
bxio 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd love to get an invite, if anyone has an extra lying around.
truebosko 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone is offering invites, I'd love this. bart.ciszk@gmail.com -- Thanks!
ParadoxOryx 1 day ago 1 reply      
They didn't show the web interface, I wonder if it will just be baked into the Gmail mobile apps?
gosukiwi 1 day ago 0 replies      
And here I am with a Windows Phone.
dschiptsov 1 day ago 0 replies      
A "new way" to push a "sponsored content" to me, like FB's feed does?)
sgy 1 day ago 0 replies      
N0RMAN 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can request an invite by sending a E-Mail to inbox@google.com
supergirl 1 day ago 1 reply      
video made me cringe
rusbus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I opened Inbox and it crashed within 10 seconds. :-(
vs4vijay 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can not find the Invite option..
thomasfl 1 day ago 0 replies      
E-mail is constantly changing.
cottonseed 1 day ago 1 reply      
> designed to focus on what really matters

So it has open and auditable secure end to end encryption?

wslh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does it read RSS feeds?
higherpurpose 1 day ago 1 reply      
They are building a new e-mail system - yet still nothing one end-to-end encryption?

Oh sure, I know they want to build the End-to-End plugin for Gmail (the service they are trying to make obsolete), which they know only a few people will use. But this is an opportunity to start from scratch with end-to-end security by default.

afandian 1 day ago 0 replies      
There were bad Google outages earlier today (at least in the UK). I wonder if these were connected?
aroch 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is Inbox going to be broken on GApps accounts like Now is?
notastartup 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google really knows how to toy with my emotions with these videos.
jaysonelliot 1 day ago 16 replies      
Slightly off-topic, but can we talk about that video? I would love it if Google could just sell me on the idea of their products for once, instead of trying to sell me on a twentysomething Brooklyn lifestyle.

When I get hit in the face with these cheap emotional ploys that feel like an early 2000s Microsoft Zune ad, I get distracted from the actual product being touted. My resistance goes up.

Does this approach work for anyone? If you really are a Williamsburg hipster, I'd expect this kind of pandering would feel off-putting. If you're not, it's alienating.

There's certainly a place for emotion in ads. But how about a bit more product, and respect for our intelligence?

scrollaway 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are you serious? Are you saying Google, which has revolutionized webmail and is one of the largest and most popular email providers, doesn't "get" email?
ihuman 1 day ago 2 replies      
rashthedude 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google please stop trying to be everything to everyone.
volandovengo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see the data behind why this justified a team of 100+ people making more than 100,000 per year to re-invent email.

Does the typical email user have an inbox which is half empty? Do users just read email that seems exciting? Do users want to just glance at their email periodically?

skyjacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seriously folks, who cares. It's a minor change to gmail's workflow.

No really, think about it. It's just email.

alimoeeny 1 day ago 0 replies      
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

...The error that the other server returned was:550-5.2.1 The user you are trying to contact is receiving mail at a rate that550-5.2.1 prevents additional messages from being delivered. For more550-5.2.1 information, please visit550 5.2.1 http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?answer=6592 fl6si3394876qcb.0 - gsmtp

Anyone knows what that "rate limit" is?

motters 1 day ago 0 replies      
Today, were introducing something new. Its called Exfil. Years in the making, Exfil is by the same people who brought you Gmail, but its not Gmail: its a completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters.

Email started simply as a way to send digital notes around the office. But fast-forward 30 years and with just the phone in your pocket, you can use email to send your most intimate thoughts, feelings and sexual fantasies to an undisclosed warehouse in Utah where our expert systems will analyse it for signs of emerging criminality, non-normative behaviour or just any juicy information that we can sell to some dude who's willing to pay.

With this evolution comes new challenges: we get more email now than ever, important information is buried inside messages, and our most important tasks can slip through the cracksespecially when you use encryption. For many of us, dealing with encryption has become a daily chore that distracts from what we really need to do - so we decided not to use it and to make sure that your email is always stored in plain text so that we can read it easily and hand out copies in bulk to all our friends, associates and subcontractors.

Firebase is Joining Google
876 points by vladstoick  2 days ago   223 comments top 52
skrebbel 2 days ago 9 replies      
Congrats founders, YC, and other shareholders!

But still, I just started using Firebase, and this news makes it clear to me that I should move off them as soon as I can. Firebase was an interesting technology supplier: When they were a small company, I could count on it that as a customer, I would count. Google is known to not give a damn about paying customers (ref: all the Google Apps customers who lose their email (for whatever reason) and get redirected to a FAQ page with answers to unrelated questions). Google is also known to Be Evil: I'm not sure I dare waiting until the terms change such that my user's data is subject to googlebot scanning.

Firebase's business model is aligned with my interests: the more users I have, the more I (hopefully) earn, so the more I pay Firebase. I strongly doubt, however, that Google is buying Firebase because they think they can get very rich selling Firebase subscriptions. It's either going to turn out a acquihire, or it is some part of a grand ecosystem plan. Acquihire means they'll pull the plug sooner or later, grand ecosystem plan means vendor lock-in. While I'm happy to be locked in to the services of a small independent business, I'd think twice before becoming entirely dependent on a company that could lose me as a customer and not even notice the slightest impact on their bottom line.

I know all of the Firebase guys are reading this, and I don't mean to piss on your parade. I'm certain you're not lying when you say that things are only going to get better. But I'm also certain that your jobs don't depend on that anymore, and when higher-ups decide to move the big boat's direction, Firebase might be over sooner than any of us wants it to.

That's a pretty big risk to take as a startup that fully depends on Firebase for their data storage.

mayop100 2 days ago 10 replies      
Hacker News -

I want to take this opportunity to personally say thank you! The community here has been instrumental to our success. Youve been our supporters, beta testers, fans, and critics. Even the comment threads here have been a valuable source of feedback :)

I want to reiterate a point that James made in the blog post: Firebase is here to stay, and its only going to get better at Google. Our entire team is joining Google, and James and I will continue to run things day-to-day. Youll still see us around the tech scene at meetups, conferences, and hackathons, and well still be active here and on Twitter.

Thanks again -- big things are coming!

gwern 2 days ago 3 replies      
If anyone is curious, my old analysis ( http://www.gwern.net/Google%20shutdowns ) gives an estimate of 70% for Firebase surviving another 5 years:

    R> firebase <- data.frame(Product="Firebase", Dead=FALSE, Started=Sys.Date(), Ended=NA, Type="program", Profit=TRUE, FLOSS=FALSE, Acquisition=TRUE, Social=FALSE, Days=1, AvgHits=NA, DeflatedHits=mean(google$DeflatedHits), AvgDeflatedHits=NA, EarlyGoogle=FALSE)    R> conditionalProbability(firebase, 5*365.25)    [1] 0.693911886

gordonzhu 2 days ago 5 replies      
As a heavy Angular user, I wonder how much of a role the Angular team played in driving this acquisition.

AngularFire has always been one of the most amazing things about Firebase. So much so that I decided to build my business on it (https://www.angularcourse.com). Misko (Angular creator) himself has said that 3-way binding with AngularFire was the closest to fulfilling his vision of what Angular should be.

Also more than the technology, Google's getting a company that really cares about the developer experience and knows how to design developer products. This is improving but still really lacking in the Google Cloud product line.

Firebase is one of those products that really gets you exciting about programming. Many people have told me about how they were amazed the first time they saw real-time updates in Firebase forge. I know I spent an embarrassing amount of time watching the colors change (green, red, orange) in Forge too.

morgante 2 days ago 7 replies      
Darn, I was just planning to integrate Firebase on a project today. Now I'm very hesitant to do so (if Google doesn't entirely pull the plug at some point, I expect them to package it in with Google App Enginewhich I have zero interest in using).

Does anyone know of a good Firebase alternative which is either (1) still independent or (2) run by a company with a reason to maintain it?

jonpaul 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're concerned about the future of Firebase and you're the roll your own type, I wrote an article on how to build your own Firebase - it was extremely popular earlier in the year.


walterbell 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean Google is now providing the HackerNews api?
oori 2 days ago 1 reply      
Open source it now ! Core client, server and protocol.

Once google pulls the plug, we (the community) want to be ready with open-source alternatives.

(oh and, James and Andrew really deserve it. they did good!)

mwetzler 2 days ago 1 reply      
We love you Firebase! Your company and culture are an inspiration to all and your platform in particular is a role model to other cloud database companies. Best wishes from me personally and your many fans at Keen IO.
StevePerkins 2 days ago 2 replies      
Has "acquired" become a dirty word lately? I read the announcements on both the Firebase and Google Cloud pages, and it wasn't even clear to me that Google had purchased the company (or a controlling interest, or whatever has happened). The message is simply that Firebase "joined the Google Cloud platform".

Lately, Google has been rolling out one-click installs for Redis, Cassandra, RabbitMQ, etc. I had to read comments on HN to understand that this is a financial integration rather than merely a technical one. What strange and evasive messaging... why not just announce that the company has been purchased?

mvanveen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations guys! Wearing my #11 beta sweatshirt as I write this. :)

It's been incredible to watch Firebase grow from a glimmering James' and Andrew's eyes. It seems like just yesterday a few dozen of us were all huddling around in a board room being onboarded for the beta.

Excited and optimistic for the future of Firebase :)

unlimit 2 days ago 0 replies      

Looks like every new exciting app/platform eventually gets acquired or acquihired by the big fishes. We are all moving towards large monopolies in the internet world. I was thinking of using firebase but I am not sure anymore. Google just does not have any customer service.

philip1209 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is cool. If I recall correctly, one of the major issues with Firebase scaling was that they resolved consistency issues by running everything in a single datacenter. I wonder if something like Spanner could help them become a more distributed system.
sevilo 2 days ago 2 replies      
having mixed feelings, on one hand I'm super happy that Firebase has grown to where it is now, the product has always been awesome and with Google I can only see it getting even better (Especially after seeing its Angular binding, and how Angular features Firebase as its default backend). On the other hand, I've loved how Firebase as a small team, always stays close with their users, listen to feedback from them and provide a lot of help and guidance. I often think of Firebase team members as friends and teachers. I don't know if they will be able to stay this way after joining such a big firm like Google :'(
chedigitz 2 days ago 0 replies      
AWESOME!!! Congrats to the team, Firebase has been a pleasure to use from day one. The Angular fire integration has allowed me to prototype ideas in hours as opposed to days. THANK YOU, for creating such clear documentation, clear video presentations. The google acquisition makes it a easier to sell to some of the higher ups now, :P. YAY!
hellbanTHIS 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really hoping they bought it because it's something amazing that Amazon doesn't have, or they're planning on using it themselves and want more control over it.

If they shut it down and I have to rewrite all the stuff I've built with it I'm going to freak the fuck out.

wushupork 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats James - I've been watching your journey since Envolve. We were one of the first hundred users to join Firebase (ID:68) and I remember how easy it took to add real time notifications to one of my product (5 hrs I believe). Your team's success is well deserved.
gailees 2 days ago 4 replies      
Still not sure how I feel about tech giants acquiring startups like Parse and Firebase.

Is there some market explanation for why this tends to happen?

tomblomfield 2 days ago 1 reply      
Congratulations to James & the team. I remember when you were powering RickyMartin.com !
mastef 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is AMAZING :)

Just tweeted this yesterday : "Docker = future of IT infrastructure, Firebase = future of product focused companies running circles around competition" and today Firebase announced Google acquisition

Love it, big congrats!

Preferred stack now for app development would be Angular JS + Firebase + Go on Google Apps Engine for triggers/additional logic I guess

maheroku 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm building my product on top of Firebase using AngularFire and this news worries me so much. At first I thought it could be great but after reading all the comments here I'm not sure what to think anymore. The CEO is saying that they will continue developing the platform but apparently history shows that such promises are not always kept. Firebase is such an awesome product that it will be really terrible for Google to shut it down. I come from a Ruby On Rails and SQL background and as soon as I saw an app running with Angular and Firebase, I fell in love right away. I have already put too much time and effort into making my product with Angular and Firebase that it is too late to go back now, I will have to take the risk. Honestly if Google shuts it down, I'm sure they will release the source code at the very least. I think I'm going to be optimistic and hope that Google makes the right choice.
joeblau 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats to the Firebase team. I remember stopping by your offices when there were just 4 people in a tiny office at 153 Townsend. All of the work you've done to help the community and build your product has been an inspiration. Wish you the best on the next leg of your journey.
joshfinnie 2 days ago 0 replies      
First off congrats! I have been following Firebase for a long time and think it's a wonderful product. That being said, I really hope they stick to their word and use the resources at Google to expand Firebase keeping it open and not make it a walled garden.
drdaeman 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, now all Firebase customers' data belongs* to Gogle?

*) Not in legal sense, obviously, but as a fact who handles storage and transmission of the data.

janl 2 days ago 0 replies      
BYOBaaS: Bring Your Own Backend as a Service. Open Source, bootstrapped funding model, easy to use, Offline First, private data by default, cute domain name: http://hood.ie Very Fast [Web] App Development.

Previous HN discussions: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7767765 / https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5514284

Disclosure: Hoodie core dev here.

nobodysfool 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think it's a bit premature to be bought out at this time. You're still a young company, and had just started to get traction, and I doubt you are profitable yet. A couple more years of not being profitable and your plug is pulled. That's just how it is in the corporate world. You look at all those yahoo acquisitions and notice most of them aren't around anymore. They weren't profitable, and so they were shut down. Good for you, but you had capital to last a few more years, and you could afford to be a bit more aggressive, but that didn't happen.
analogj 2 days ago 2 replies      
These guys have created an incredibly useful and unique platform. Congrats!
drawkbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
I guess the mobile focused PaaS phase has fully cycled. Google has Firebase, Facebook has Parse and Amazon has Cognito. Still some room for independents now that they got bought up.
72deluxe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Am I missing something about what Firebase is? Is it just a database system with a web API? I don't mean this disparagingly but don't most people just run their own database inside a VPS somewhere or a server and send data to/from that via their own interface? Am I missing something?
primis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm gonna miss the little bottles of hot sauce they gave out at hackathons. I put it on everything they fed us. <sigh>I'm not too sure how I feel about start ups getting acquired by big corporate. Sure its a good way to acquire fresh ideas and talent, but it prevents new billion dollar companies from forming.
ianstormtaylor 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, huge congrats to everyone at Firebase! You all seriously deserve itamazing people, hard workers and great product.
jonstokes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Count me in the "Thank God I'm not a Firebase customer" camp, because that was my reaction on reading this news. I think Google is still a net force for Good in the world, but the fact that the reaction here is so more-or-less uniform cannot possibly be healthy for the company.
asuffield 2 days ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the chocolate factory. You're going to find this a very interesting experience.
s9ix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats - this is awesome, and a huge step for you all. Excited to hear what else is in store on the 4th.
Tepix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Firebase? Their customer database was stolen in September 2013 (I started receiving phishing emails), I reported it to them but never heard back.

After that I decided not to become a customer of theirs.

650REDHAIR 2 days ago 0 replies      
Huge congrats to you guys!

Still loving the name "Plankton".

NicoJuicy 2 days ago 1 reply      
I recently started using SignalR for some of my apps. What is the difference between SignalR and Firesharp? (both are realtime, only SignalR is more or less self hosted on first perspective)
lnanek2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunate, Google has a reputation for killing acquisitions. Let's hope the founders manage to escape and recreate their product after, like Dodgeball vs. Foursquare.
Shofo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well now the stars are aligning. Google now has their way to begin the push on IoT with Nest, Glass and Phone data all linked contextually.

My watch can sense my body and ambient temperature, which tells Nest the optimum temp for my house and my phone can tell Nest my proximity to my house so it knows when to turn on. Shit just got real! Congrats to the Firebase team.

ryanpardieck 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. I hope you guys don't go away. I've been meaning to explore the google cloud a bit more anyway, though, I guess.
joshdance 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a service that allows you to build on top of an Backend as a Service? So you could swap in and out Firebase, Parse, others?
CmonDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Two big reasons."

Cash and equity. Corrected the next two paragraphs for you.

pycassa 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not familiar with firebase, Is it like Parse? If so what is better?
mrmch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Woot, congrats James and team. Google will make a good home :)
stephenitis 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the product I hope google brings a lot to the table.
TheAceOfHearts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Any guess for how much they got acquired?
mot0rola 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats Firebase! Keep up the great work!
Finbarr 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats James and the Firebase team!
bitsweet 2 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats James & team!
aikah 2 days ago 0 replies      
cdelsolar 2 days ago 0 replies      
untog 2 days ago 2 replies      
Congratulations on not using the word "journey" once in your blog post or in this message.
My Day Interviewing for the Service Economy Startup from Hell
590 points by TarpitCarnivore  2 days ago   274 comments top 44
joshstrange 2 days ago 9 replies      
Sexism, racism, homophobia (I assume that's what was going on with the marketing guys and "Josh"), long hours, low pay, "boys club", overbearing/micromanaging boss, unpaid full day "interview", false hope (Seemed like the idea of getting your own franchise was a carrot dangled before them on a stick that they would never get), and little/no structure. Wow.... And these are the companies that are getting funded?
tptacek 2 days ago 5 replies      
The experience of this CSR candidate is obviously the lede of the piece, but my problem with businesses like this is deeper: I think all these companies that put a pretty UI over a bunch of low-skill 1099 workers are exploitative.

Reread the section about Lupe's attempt to reach the client in time.

I feel like companies in these markets will eventually reap the whirlwind when the USG decides not to allow people filling these roles to be classified as 1099s, and the whole segment falls apart. Or maybe I just hope it.

terramars 2 days ago 5 replies      
Full work day interviews where you do actual work for the company are technically illegal. If you want to mess with them, you can file a suit in small claims court for whatever hourly rate you feel like, and it'll be a huge pain in the ass unless they settle and pay you quickly :)
eastbayjake 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't know why she changed the founder's name, it's pretty easy to figure out when there are only two founders.[1] It looks like Umang Dua, HBS '13[2]. He's on Twitter as @umangdua if anyone would like to ask him about this incident.

[1] https://www.handy.com/about[2] https://www.linkedin.com/in/umangdua[3] https://twitter.com/umangdua

swang 2 days ago 1 reply      
They've responded on Twitter. They don't really mention what they're talking about so you won't understand unless you've read the story. I guess to purposely not connect others to the story

> This is disturbing and in no way represents working at Handy. Companies go through growing pains and these facts have no bearing on us today

> When Amanda says she applied 1.5 yrs ago, our company was newer, smaller and still figuring out best practices. Things have changed since.

> We do not stand for racism or sexism of any kind. That kind of behavior is not tolerated and never will be.

> We understand that our employees and professionals are the lifeblood of our business and we work every day to ensure their happiness.

They don't seem to deny what Amanda is saying. And I don't see how they can say they've changed if some of those same people still remain...

incision 2 days ago 4 replies      
I must be old...

I feel like I read stories about horrible jobs and tough times finding work from young college grads regularly and the news would seem to corroborate them [1].

Apparently, these people end up serving coffee or answering phones for clown shop start-ups.

Meanwhile, I know people trying to hire for what I'd consider traditional entry level jobs (clerks, reception, no-risk security, no-experience necessary apprenticeships) offering full benefits plus 35-45k+ salaries who would be overjoyed to see a single college-educated applicant.

What's going on here? Do people believe in this Amway-esque pitch for a "world of opportunities"? Do traditional jobs feel like giving up? Are they too restricting?

1: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/0...

jonknee 2 days ago 2 replies      
Where are all the attorneys? This is a company with flagrantly illegal practices and a ton of money in the bank. People live for that sort of scenario. Anyone let go by these clowns should leave with a nice chunk of change.
codezero 2 days ago 8 replies      
This is probably hard for most engineers to relate to, unless part of your role is doing support.

edit: when I say something is not insane or unexpected, I mean it in the context of a person looking for work in customer support. These are the things you run in to. So if you are shocked that they have to provide their own hardware, then you are shocked at the way support people are often actually treated. I'm not advocating for or supporting that.

The interview process and criteria for being hired have really high variance compared to engineering interviews.

The author of this piece made the classic, and often unavoidable mistake of being between a rock and a hard place and not vetting the company she interviewed at and ultimately worked for for a day.

Even if you're not an engineer/designer/data scientist (or one of the typically highly desired people for a startup), you should be working at places you love and believe in, when you're not, you end up having bad experiences and those bad experiences are amplified by the environment.

First, I didn't find Ajay's interview to be that weird, saying why you came up with the idea for your company and your qualifications should be expected, not interpreted as a way for the founder to diminish the potential future employee. If you don't believe in your leaders, and don't trust them, you are in a lot of trouble.

edit: I think that not having interviewed with the actual support team members is a huge red flag here as well, but owing to the author's somewhat desperate situation, they moved forward anyways.

12 hour days is insane, and wrong. Having to provide your own device is not really that insane for small teams. Obviously it's great if a company provides it, and probably larger companies should always provide a workstation, but this doesn't come across as totally abnormal. The constant "want to hear a joke" and racist/sexist tone at the company is also not acceptable, but clearly was supported by the people working there at the time, if the anecdote is taken at face value.

It's super easy to pay for a trial period, and as far as I'm aware, it's not even legal to have people work for free unless you are a nonprofit or government organization, so that's shady, even if only for one day. I've done two week trials that were fully paid, and it was a great way to get a feel for the company and vice versa.

Not having any onboarding, given that the trial was for a day isn't too surprising, but that is clearly a problem with a one day trial. They should have absolutely been given some lead-in material to help them get prepped before starting.

There appear to be a lot of growing pains at Handy, which isn't a surprise, but hopefully they can move fast and get their support/service wing to be as tight and focused as the rest of their team (assuming that is true).

song 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sometimes I wonder if it would make sense for investors to send someone they trust to apply and interview for a position at a company they're considering.

If what she wrote is accurate I don't really understand how they managed to raise $30 million in funding.

devanti 2 days ago 3 replies      
No surprise here. The first thing a Harvard grad will tell you is that they graduated from Harvard.
joezydeco 2 days ago 1 reply      
Still wishing fuckedcompany.com was still around to start collecting stories like this as the bubble starts to pop...
S4M 2 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this article was written about a fictitious company as a satire, but after couple of search it turns out that Handy actually exists and has raised quite a lot - as a competitor of HomeJoy?

I don't know if everything there is true, but this article has the indirect effect of making my opinion of michaelochurch going up.

king_jester 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not surprised that a company that would treat its service providers so shitty would also treat its employees that way. Between stories like this and the things I hear about other service startups like Task Rabbit it makes me never want to use one of these services ever.
talltofu 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow! It's good to hear stories like this to balance out the usually euphoric stories around startups. Hopefully this an aberration, not the norm
arenaninja 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty bad. I'm debating whether it tops the job where I got fired for speaking Spanish, but it's bad nonetheless
waylandsmithers 2 days ago 6 replies      
> The next step in the process is a tryout day. It will be a full day of work, like an extended interview, and unpaid. Could you come in tomorrow?

I liked this until the unpaid part. Maybe there are just too many impossible laws and logistics to get around, but I've always thought it would be cool if more companies tried something out like a 10-day contract (paid of course) to make sure the job is a good fit, and so both parties can make an initial decision without as much risk.

drtse4 2 days ago 2 replies      
> "I started this company while I was getting my MBA at Harvard. Before this, I worked for McKinsey & Company" he paused to gauge my reaction, which is one of the top business consulting firms in the world.

I wonder how he would have reacted to my utterly uninterested facial expression. Nothing of that is of any interest when trying to asses his value as a person or if his idea/company is good or not.

discardorama 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm no lawyer, but: by law, if you are expected to work 12-hour days, isn't the company supposed to pay you overtime? My understanding was that even if you are an 'exempt' employee, if the _expectation_ is that you have to work more than 40 hours/week, you should be paid overtime?
_RPM 2 days ago 0 replies      
Highland Capital Partners is one of their investors. Prior investments by the firm include http://www.hcp.com/companies/
Mandatum 2 days ago 0 replies      
It sickens me how close that article/post is to my experience working for a small business in Auckland, New Zealand.
Animats 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not only is this employer acting like an asshole, they're doing it stupidly. They let candidates for employment bring in their own computer and plug it into their internal network. Someone is going to drain out all their internal records.

You can see their web site at "http://www.handy.com/". The page source is amusing. They seem to be more interested in ad networks than booking actual business.

Disruptive_Dave 2 days ago 0 replies      
Have a seemingly decent idea. Build a seemingly workable product. Know people / have a shiny thing on your resume.

Why the surprise at all this? Here in NYC I speak to funded startup founders and employees every other day who lack basic business, business management, and people management skills and experience. Investor actions (i.e. $$$$) seriously devalue these things now.

(But we have advisors!!!!!!!)


petercoolz 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the all-too-true joke.

Question: How do you know somebody has an MBA?Answer: They tell you.

Full disclosure... I have an MBA!

notch90 2 days ago 0 replies      
yea, I had bad experiences there too. They are very bad with hiring contract. Really treat employees like bad
comrh 2 days ago 1 reply      
"It will be a full day of work, like an extended interview, and unpaid."

Screw that noise. It is clear from just that they don't respect people's time.

DanBC 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Okay, our Customer Experience Associates normally begin work at 8 a.m. and wrap up the day around 8 p.m. They work five days per week, plus one rotating weekend shift. Is that okay? She looked at me warily.

12 * 5 = 60 hours per week. That's illegal in the EU.



arikrak 2 days ago 1 reply      
In general, startups do not follow the professional practices of established companies. When you interview for an established company, they're usually professional and they get back to you afterwards. When you interview for a startup, you can run into all sorts of issues. The founder might not be there, the employees may have no idea what to do with you, or you might just have a 15-minute interview after traveling for 90 minutes to get there. They often won't get back to you. Though this example is particularly bad since they're asking applicants to do unpaid labor.
jdhawk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like the company is growing too quickly for them to implement things like Human Resources & a new hire training program.

BYO Technology? that should be an OPTION, not a requirement...especially at 35K.

7Figures2Commas 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Congratulations! Ajay thinks youd be a great fit. The next step in the process is a tryout day. It will be a full day of work, like an extended interview, and unpaid. Could you come in tomorrow?

This may be a violation of wage and hour laws.

> Great! Youll need to bring your own laptop and smart phone. Will that be a problem for you?

Many states forbid companies from requiring that their employees bear the costs of business expenses. I wonder if employees at this company are being reimbursed.

> Okay, our Customer Experience Associates normally begin work at 8 a.m. and wrap up the day around 8 p.m. They work five days per week, plus one rotating weekend shift. Is that okay? She looked at me warily.

It would be interesting to know if the company is treating "Customer Experience Associates" as exempt or non-exempt employees. Customer service roles are almost always non-exempt, and non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. Given that the author wrote she was offered a $35,000 salary and made no mention of overtime pay, it sounds like there might be a misclassification issue here. These misclassifications can be very, very costly (unpaid overtime plus interest, numerous statutory penalties, attorney's fees, etc.) so they're incredibly attractive to plaintiff's attorneys.

> Service provider was a pleasant euphemism for Handybooks fleet of freelance cleaners and handymen. After signing up with Handybook, service providers received text alerts about available jobs, which they could claim for themselves by texting back, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

> A programmer giggled and called out, Ashley, do your Chinese washer woman impression again! My Chinese washa wo-men? she pulled back the skin on the sides of her face. I do you laund-wy! Own-wy ten dollah! She laughed hysterically, I clean you house! The programmers sniggered loudly. Ching chong! someone yelled out and collapsed into laughter.

> Want to hear a joke I heard today? a programmer asked, eying me and giggling. Whats the difference between a woman and a refrigerator? what, I said. Refrigerators dont moan when you put meat in them!

This behavior is toxic to businesses that want to remain in business.

> Service provider was a pleasant euphemism for Handybooks fleet of freelance cleaners and handymen. After signing up with Handybook, service providers received text alerts about available jobs, which they could claim for themselves by texting back, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

A lot of these "on demand" companies are built on classifying their service providers as independent contractors. In many cases, however, independent contractor classification is questionable. In this case specifically, the description of how the company dealt with Lupe raises serious questions.

The more funding these companies receive, and the bigger they get, the more attractive they're going to be to plaintiff's counsel. One of Handy's competitors is already on the radar of a prominent Boston class action attorney[1].

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/09/10/a...

Killah911 2 days ago 0 replies      
kaeawc 2 days ago 0 replies      
And now I'm never going to use Handybook again.
AndrewKemendo 2 days ago 0 replies      
These tales are infuriating.
danielweber 2 days ago 0 replies      
As much as things sometimes sucked during my recent job hunt, holy cow, this is over-the-top awful. The worst of my experiences were exceeded within three paragraphs.

I did have to deal with one company that said they had trouble "finding senior people" when the whole office was a playground. But no one told me any sexist or racist jokes.

mathrawka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a video on Handy's hiring strategy: https://www.33voices.com/authors/umang-dua/media/handys-hiri...
redwood 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds terrible but I have to point out that I don't like the way she described Ajay as an "Indian guy".

I don't know why it rubbed me the wrong way

pbreit 2 days ago 0 replies      
The unpaid day of work sounds illegal but is at least pathetically unprofessional for that type of position.
DanielBMarkham 2 days ago 0 replies      
At the risk of saying something terribly unpopular, I've got about six more of these in me, then I'm done.

Seriously. Let's get real. There are what? Say thirty thousand or so startups in the U.S., with ten thousand joining and dropping out in any given year? So if 1% were fuckups, we'd be able to run several of these stories a day. Forever.

I think people like them because it feels good to see young jerks acting like, well, young jerks. Don't we know so much more than them? Wonder how they feel, now, those assholes! You can get the holier-than-thou feeling and you can riff off the righteous indignation. Lots of folks just can't get enough righteous indignation. Then you can sit around and share stories from the good old days.

The problem is, not only can you run these ad infinitum without actually doing more than sharing a ton of anecdotes -- it doesn't lead to any sort of productivity. It gives me nothing to go and accomplish, it offers no insights into what public policy changes might be required to stop it (if it did, it'd be politics, and we don't want to go there). It's just -- nothing. Like driving by a fender bender and talking to the other people in the car about what happened and who must be at fault. A waste of time.

I really wish there was something useful here. Best I've got is "People who don't understand employment law are going to make lots of mistakes"

So I got that. I got that with the first of these.

Maybe we're seeing the start of a new genre, like FuckedCompany. If so, perhaps there's a subreddit for it somewhere? After a few dozen of these, it ain't going to be stuff hackers are interested in, unless they're some pretty monotonous hackers.

aaron695 2 days ago 1 reply      
FYI in cased you missed it - This is a story about the world of telemarketing, not startups.
notastartup 2 days ago 1 reply      
Handy.com seems like a really honest and humane company to work for. Just look at the co-founder's face, it exudes an all caring expression, the type you can only acquire by going to Harvard and working for McSomething consulting firm.
robodale 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I was the guy being interviewed, I would have punched that "Ajay" in the fucking neck halfway through the interview...but looks like the company is punching itself in the neck anyway. Good riddance.
bkeroack 2 days ago 1 reply      
This will never make the front page, no matter how many upvotes it receives.
arjie 2 days ago 2 replies      
The article talks about being a "Customer Experience Associate". It also talks about her job being to handle sales, customer support, and act as liaison when necessary between customers and "service providers".
hardwaresofton 2 days ago 2 replies      
This doesn't seem like it could have happened in real life. I can't believe someone, especially in tech, could justify working in such an atmosphere with those "benefits".

Yes, big companies may stifle creativity a little, but from what little I read, this startup doesn't seem to be so great..

lettercarrier 2 days ago 0 replies      
The biz: Going rate where I deliver in Joisey for cleaners is $60 (min) for 2 hours. Homeowner/patrons I deliver to are too smart and would never call Handy back for next time.. just arrange it when they leave and the tip is given.

Her story: : It's about revenge (or opportunity to gain satisfaction). Does not matter if 0 or 100% is true - impersonal bashing is just now so easy and like this post, can lead to tons of reaction and attention. At my other job a man gets coffee each morning (at a C-store on Rt 15) and text's the district manager with his version of how bad the store is that morning. Each day, every day. No Joke. "Out of lids" - "Didn't say Good Morning" "bla bla bla" He does it because he can.. it's not revenge.. (we need a new word)

Her story v2.0 - It's about eyeballs. Making a post "pop" - The billfold (says) is a site about money, earning, spending, etc.. Her post is like having watermelon for Thanksgiving dessert. Satisfaction from eyeballs and keystrokes for certain to a site that is a stretch for relevance.

Her story v3.0 - Just another (engaging) article about a not so good place to work, of which we should never be surprised when we hear stories like this again and again.

I re read her words more than three times and something does not smell quite right. Just my gut. Perfect quotes, predictable responses, outrageous behavior of 'strangers' (the brandy new co-workers)- even the AHs in my Gov't job know when to not talk, especially around new faces. New faces are always thought of as spies until proven otherwise. [like the old phrase "a first impression has to be disproven"]

China collecting Apple iCloud data
489 points by denzil_correa  4 days ago   118 comments top 12
dmix 4 days ago 10 replies      
China's surveillance is always so blatant and public, they don't bother trying to hide it like America (which is analogous to political corruption in both countries).

When the artist Ai Weiwei had his email account compromised by the state, they simply logged into his email webmail UI and forwarded a copy of his emails to a 3rd party email address. They didn't even bother intercepting his email at the network or service provider level.

Edit: > "Apple increased the encryption aspects on the phone allegedly to prevent snooping from the NSA. However, this increased encryption would also prevent the Chinese authorities from snooping on Apple user data."

It's a shame articles keep confusing Apple's harddisk encryption with network data encryption. :\

ryan-c 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've done some analysis on 360 secure browser's SSL handling in the past. I don't have my notes handy, but it can easily be taken advantage of by anyone, not just the Chinese government. I'm somewhat confused by this, as it would not be difficult to just bundle MitM CAs with this browser.

It's also not as popular as frequently reported. It is widely installed because many orgs are required to have the security software that bundles it, but when I was researching it the consensus I got from several Chinese people was that few people actually used it - "only old people who don't know computers use it".

dewiz 4 days ago 3 replies      
"They should also enable two-step verification for their iCloud accounts. This will protect iCloud accounts from attackers even if the account password is compromised."

I wonder if 2FA is really that safe in a country like that, they have all the means to intercept the second channel, it just requires knowledge about the account owner or some not to complex synchronization to detect auth codes sent via text messages.

hiraki9 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does this only occur when the user logs into iCloud using the web, or does it happen on the device as well?

Does anyone know if iOS uses certificate pinning when connecting to iCloud services, and if so if that is sufficient to prevent against this type of attack?

cnphil 4 days ago 1 reply      
iCloud is not the only victim here. Google's IPv6 access has been suffering the same attack since September. (IPv4 access has been blocked entirely for 5 months)

It's not a shocking news, however. Apple has already moved [1] some of its storage servers to Beijing. The attack could just be the authorities making sure that Chinese users' iCloud data is actually stored in China.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2014/08/15/apple-taps-china-telecom-as...

zaroth 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would HSTS have helped in this situation?

HSTS is mainly to prevent SSL-stripping. But I think part of HSTS could also note that the certificate was trusted, and then having an HSTS header could entirely prevent any later connection with the self-signed certificate, without clearing the HSTS history.

You may not need to even store the extra bit, it's enough to say if you have HSTS then by default the connection must not just be encrypted, but it must be trusted.

Do current browsers entirely prevent a connection to untrusted certs when HSTS is set? Or is it just the same error you get when connecting to any self-signed cert?

preek 4 days ago 2 replies      
TL;DR - China likes to spy on everyones data and can do so, because they own their country. This incident is on iCloud, but is only in alignment with their greater strategy and not Apples fault.
logotype 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've seen warnings about Google certs also, when not connected via VPN.
blinkingled 3 days ago 2 replies      
So Cert Pinning won't help in this case? Or may be not doing stuff like cert pinning is one of many (may be even lawful) requisites of doing business in China?
smaili 3 days ago 5 replies      
Slightly off topic but does anyone here have any personal VPN recommendations? From personal experience is preferable.
tn13 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am using Nokia 1100. No government can possibly extract any of my key information like emails, photos as so on.
kathrinekennley 3 days ago 0 replies      
This attack will come as a surprise to Apple. In the past, the company has had a bromance with the authorities and have blindly acquiesced when asked to remove apps from the China app store.
Paralysed man walks again after cell transplant
505 points by pierre-renaux  3 days ago   74 comments top 18
bhousel 3 days ago 2 replies      
Completely shameless plug follows, but this is an area of research that matters a lot to me personally. My mother has neuropathy and is in a wheelchair. It's been rough watching her lose function, and now encouraging to see her regain some of her nerve function with immunotherapy and exercise.

I'm running the NYC Marathon to raise money for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with paralysis, mobility impairment, and spinal cord injury.

The Reeve Foundation has funded over $80 million for paralysis and spinal cord injury research. Scientists are learning more every year about how the spinal cord works, how nerve cells die and can be regenerated, and how new therapies can promote nerve regrowth. As a direct result of this research, there are people today who can breathe, control their bladder, and walk, after receiving treatment for severe spinal injury.

If this is an issue that you are interested in, please consider a donation: http://www.christopherreeve.org/nyc2014/bhousel

Thanks for listening..

tokenadult 3 days ago 2 replies      
The article notes, "This process of regeneration is made possible by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), which provide a pathway for the fibres to grow back." In other words, this was not an experimental treatment with stem cells (pluripotent cells). The story details here are interesting to me, as my late dad spent the last six years of his life paralyzed from the chin down from a spinal cord injury (a slip and fall on ice on a parking lot). His spinal cord was not completely severed, so he had quite a lot of sensation from the parts of his body that were immobilized, but he was not able to learn to walk with a walking frame even as well as the patient reported on here. (My dad's injury was much higher up on the spinal cord, which makes a big difference. His bruising of his spinal cord was at the second cervical vertebra.)

The article continues, "All those involved in the research are keen not to raise false hopes in patients and stress that the success will need to be repeated to show definitively whether it can stimulate spinal cord regeneration." Yes. This is a very early result, but there seems to be something here that has achieved results never before achieved, and if those results can be replicated in other patients, this will be great news.

The article mentions what kind of patients the experimental team is looking for. "Dr Tabakow said: "Our team in Poland would be prepared to consider patients from anywhere in the world who are suitable for this therapy. They are likely to have had a knife wound injury where the spinal cord has been cleanly severed." Many spinal cord injuries are bruises or tears rather than cuts, and may not heal as well with the technique described in the article. But this is a start, and may open up investigation of other approaches to repairing injuries to the spinal cord.

espinchi 3 days ago 2 replies      
Prof Raisman has spent more than 40 years studying how to repair the spinal cord.

This type of perseverance is admirable.

philbarr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Counterpoint on the TV on SKY News from Dr. Mark Bacon from "Spinal Research" who says that this is nothing new, that it is not as significant as a "man walking on the moon" as has been claimed.

He says that this is essentially a feasibility study showing safety, and that it was the unique situation of the patient where the cut was very narrow and clean that allowed this to happen; most other spinal injuries damage much more of the spinal column. He said he also wants to quantify exactly how much of the shown result was directly a result of the surgery. The patient had lots of different treatments and they don't know how much those had an effect.

However, when the interviewer said, "although you've added a note of caution there, should people with these kinds of injuries have a bit more hope now that this news has come out?" the response was, "absolutely, it shows that we are making inroads into this. This area, even just a few years ago was thought to be dead, but now we are making clinical trials."

Edit: Changed it from BBC News to SKY News. Oops.

quotient 3 days ago 3 replies      
That's amazing. I really hope that more research is done in (stem) cells. It shows outstanding promise, and it seems safe to assume that this is just the start for a technique of treatments that revolutionizes the way we view and treat illness.

Edit: The article did not mention stem cells, but I think stem cells will inevitably be discussed in this thread as they're a very closely related topic, hence the mention.

pontifier 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've heard about the remarkable ability of nasal nerves to regrow, and it's fantastic that they seem to be able to translate this to the spine. I wonder about other nerve bundles. My mother lost her vision due to optic nerve damage, and this seems like a very promising technology. I hope they can repeat the result.
joeyo 3 days ago 2 replies      
As far as I can tell, this is the paper [1]. It was published a little over twelve months ago, so that's a pretty big lag before the news article. Was there perhaps a follow-up that I missed?

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24007776

adhambadr 3 days ago 3 replies      
amazing two thoughts pop onto my head

do you think the same technique can be used to reproduce damaged optical nerves ? this could be a huge step towards curing a huge percentage of blindness, something Ive been very personally interested in lately.

am I the only one who wonders why the slow pace of such crucial medical discoveries ? after a successful attempt, the future plan is treating only 10 more patients over the next 'years'. In Silicon valley timezone thats centuries, my non-medical tech corrupt mind is screaming pump money, replicate this to 100 patients in the next 60 days and scale, scale, scale!!!

tsenkov 2 days ago 1 reply      
40 years without turning your back on a project... probably "heroic" is one of the words describing it.

I suppose the biggest "bottleneck" in the progress of such work is testing.

What is the current state of computer simulations of bio systems? Is OpenWorm the biggest project in this direction? If I remember correctly, they weren't exactly simulating completely down to the cellular organelle (or atomic) level, but instead simulated starting from higher level of abstraction (muscle contraction etc.).

refurb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm assuming that a treatment like this will likely be much more successful with a more recent injury?

From what I understand once a nerve is injured processes continue that result in less and less activity. When you're treating an injury as old as his, you not only have to "make the connections", but also reverse any nerve atrophy (for lack of a better word).

quattrofan 3 days ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine commented on Facebook using the word "merely" as in merely transplanted some cells. I've got the feeling a lot more complex science and medicine went into this, can anyone provide some more detail in layman's terms?
vijaygirija 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's so nice. Cell transplantation has increased rapidly in western countries. And saved many lives.
ladytron 2 days ago 1 reply      
Human cloning + surrogacy + suspended animation ( theraputic hypothermia ) + nerve regeneration + microsurgery = immortality. Theoretically this now seems possible.
ioddly 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is amazing. How was the olfactory bulb removed?
lotsofmangos 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. Hopefully he won't grow a bit of snotty nose on his back like the woman who had a similar treatment in Portugal - http://www.stemcellsportal.com/content/nasal-mass-grows-pati... - though I dare say the risk is more than worth it.
squozzer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congrats. This deserves a beer. Sorry I can't share.
kathrinekennley 3 days ago 0 replies      
Astonishing breakthrough that offers great hope to millions of people. When one considers the great complexity of nerves in the spinal column, makes this news even more remarkable.
toblender 3 days ago 0 replies      
Time to go do some extreme sports.
Did you mean? Experience in Ruby
447 points by yuki2448  1 day ago   176 comments top 31
prairiedogg 1 day ago 11 replies      
I've been pairing with ruby / rails developers since 2010 and coming from statically typed languages, it's unbelievable how much time gets spent playing "guess the method name". Even in rich IDEs like RubyMine, the utter lack of context in any given file in rails leaves programmers typing their best guess of a method name, running the tests, rinse, repeat.

This solution, while creative and laudable, solves a problem that shouldn't exist. It should either be solved by IDE/tooling in a dynamically typed language or by the compiler in a statically typed language. Stop guessing and let your tools do the hard work of remembering method names for you.

derefr 1 day ago 5 replies      
A lot of people are recommending IDE-like tooling--but in truly dynamic language (one with a "living image" with path-dependent monkey-patched behavior that can't be replicated during static analysis, like Smalltalk--or, sometimes, Ruby) there's a more idiomatic way.

In a dynamic language, if you're at all unsure of what code you need to write, then you don't write it in your editor in the first place. Instead, you build the expression you need, interactively, at the REPLand then, once it works, you paste that into your editor.

In dynamic languages, the "dead" code in modules is effectively a coagulation of previously "live" REPL incantations; to trust code that was written "dead" to work correctly "live" is madness (or just a recipe for really long iterations involving unit tests.)

If you take this approach far enough, though, you do get a sort of IDEsomething that manages your expression experiments and the context harnesses they need, and re-runs experiments when you edit their dependent formulae. I am, of course, talking about "notebook" interfaces like IPython's.

timr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Neat. In case you're wondering, it's implemented using a levenshtein distance algorithm:


and it works by extending the NameError exception:


WalterBright 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some years back I put this feature in both the Digital Mars C/C++ compiler and the D language compiler. It's turned out to be popular and very useful.

Compiler error messages are steadily improving from mere statements of what is wrong to suggestions for corrective action.

PaulJulius 1 day ago 5 replies      
Obviously this is a useful tool, and all the power to the author for finding what looks to be an excellent solution, but this line bothers me:

>>> Sometimes I wasted hours and hours just because there is one character difference. I hate it.

This shouldn't happen. Ever. This should not be a problem anymore. These are the sort of errors that we can catch immediately and should be caught immediately. From looking at the author's GitHub profile, it looks like he uses Emacs, presumably without a plugin that would give him IDE like features. I'm not going to tell him to go use a regular IDE, but it frustrates me that's we can't have those sort of tools available everywhere. (As a vim user myself I have high hopes for the neovim project and look forward to the day when it can be embedded inside a general sort of IDE.)

andrewchambers 1 day ago 3 replies      
The value of static typing is more and more apparent. Recently I've played with ocaml and F# and it felt great compared to Java or C++.
inglor 1 day ago 2 replies      
This sort of stuff should, at least in the 'easy' case be done at the editor level. Doesn't ruby have linter tooling for this?

Still, props for the work.

jevin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is an amazing gem. And I'm eager to use it on my Rails projects.

On a side note, am I the only one who feels that autocomplete tend to get in the way when I'm coding?

joshdance 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Blows my mind that IDEs and environments are not better at this. This is something that computers are good at, pattern recognition and scanning the whole file. Of course the it wouldn't work every time, an could make ridiculous suggestions, but I would love the computer to suggest something every time there is an issue. Even if it is wrong 90% of the time, if those guesses don't slow down the programmer the time saved would be huge.
modarts 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or just use some semblance of static typing and completely eliminate this class of bug.
ChrisAntaki 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Sometimes I wasted hours and hours just becaue there is one charactor difference. I hate it.

Haha, humans are much more able to parse meaning, despite a character being off here or there. Well, you've taken computers one step closer to humans. And you've made programming with Ruby friendlier. Great job!

ryan-allen 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's almost like... statically typed languages!
mikecmpbll 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not sure how helpful this is, when it says there's no method called xyz, it's pretty obvious you called the wrong method, or you called it on the wrong thing. Your first thing should be checking that you didn't call the wrong method name.. which involves looking at the error which repeats the method name that you tried to call, and the object you called it on.

Bizarre that this is a genuine hang-up for people.

flowerpot 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see you used the Levenshtein algorithm to calculate the suggestions, very cool idea. I've noticed lately that it is being used quite more often than in the past. (may just be my perception)
general_failure 1 day ago 3 replies      
'Sometimes I wasted hours and hours just becaue there is one charactor difference. I hate it.'

Not sure if the typos (Yeah, there are two) are intentional but I loved it :-)

stretchwithme 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use Rubymine, which visually indicates when a variable is unused or doesn't exist.

It has tons of other features that save you time and hassle.

dankohn1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could I also highly recommend making your project Rubocop-clean, and using pronto to run Rubocop on your CI server and make comments on your commits in Github. Rubocop warns against any methods you define that are not used at least once.
silveira 1 day ago 0 replies      
A python implementation of "Did you Mean?" by Peter Norvig http://norvig.com/spell-correct.html
imacomputer2 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"Sometimes I wasted hours and hours just becaue there is one charactor difference."Oh thank God! I thought I was the only one.
bradgessler 1 day ago 4 replies      
I hope somebody forks this and creates a version that automatically corrects the method for you at runtime. Why even show an error or throw an exception?

Bonus if the corrections are cached for performance.

skatenerd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who's gonna be the first person to hook this into method_missing()
brvs 1 day ago 12 replies      
I would love it if instead of quitting my program with an error, it just went ahead and called the method it thinks I'm referring to. This would remove a lot of unneeded friction from web development.
annnnd 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Here is a good exmaple...

Looks like "Did you mean" could be a nice extension to browser textboxes too. ;)

sleepingspider 1 day ago 0 replies      
Strange. As an ruby programmer, I never had such a need.
RVuRnvbM2e 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Talk about the wrong approach. When you're having to play trial-and-error to get the right method, you definitely have a problem with your tools - not the language!

I don't know about other editors, but vim has great autocomplete support for ruby built right in. Because of this I don't often even type methods out in full anymore.

And there's a great plugin for doco too: https://github.com/danchoi/ri.vim

mangecoeur 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really smart, really the sort of thing you wonder why no one thought of it before.
thesz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Glorious Haskell Compiler suggests names for typos too.
KedarMhaswade 21 hours ago 0 replies      
"Did you mean?" is great, but "Do you mean?" would be better. Achieving latter in Ruby/JS/... certainly feels harder.
whizzkid 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about implementing this in a way that it starts guessing method names while typing a method?

In this case, you would solve the error while typing it.

A simple dropdown with suggestion(s) would be great in Sublime Text.

octref 1 day ago 4 replies      
>>> Sometimes I wasted hours and hours just becaue there is one charactor difference. I hate it.

"because" misspelt.

germs12 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems like a bandaid approach to fixing a severed artery. The real problem is the lack of desire to read documentation. This also has the problem of sending someone down the wrong path when the wrong "solution" is suggested. Read more documentation and pay attention while you're programming.
I Hate Puzzles: Am I Still a Programmer? (2011)
428 points by lordbusiness  2 days ago   253 comments top 88
smacktoward 2 days ago 9 replies      
> Ive been programming for 18 years now.

Then congratulations, you are a programmer!

Despite what you'll hear from people peddling various flavors of Kool-Aid, "programmer" isn't a personality type. It's a job description. If you program, you are a programmer, end of line, full stop. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

DigitalSea 2 days ago 8 replies      
This is what really irks me about the industry as a whole. Large companies like Facebook and Google have hiring processes in place that aim to weed out the strong from the weak by making them solve complex algorithmic puzzles and solve them on a whiteboard, and for larger companies like Facebook or Google who have massive troves of data, this kind of makes sense to me, but only if you're hiring a programmer to work with your data, not make things pretty or interface with existing services.

However, what does not make sense to me is the asinine requirement that a web developer needs to know or understand algorithms. A front-end developer working with HTML, CSS and Javascript will never EVER need to know how to write an algorithm. In my 12 years as a developer thus far I have never needed to solve a complex math problem or write an algorithm to markup some HTML, the closest I get to math problems is simplistic operations in Javascript like calculating the scroll distance from the top of a page or mathematically moving an element around the page in a particular way and I generally use a calculator for these problems.

The problem is many startups try and replicate the likes of Google and have the attitude of, "Well, if Google require you to solve complex math puzzles on a whiteboard in 30 minutes, then that is what we will do too" - reality check: A developer working with HTML, CSS and Javascript does not need to know algorithms whatsoever. Only a developer working with data or writing an algorithm to sort it should need to know that stuff. You are not Google, so stop pretending you only hire smart developers who know how to solve unrealistic math problems that they will never encounter.

I have heard from friends and experience a couple of times myself, broken recruiting processes that ask you to solve non-realistic problems and complex math puzzles (which I always fail myself). My policy is unless I am going for a job working and sorting through data, I should not need to know how to write an algorithm on a whiteboard.

The only skill I think all developers should know regardless of whether you are a front-end developer or writing complex algorithms to sort through billions of rows of privately collected American data through a secret Government program is regular expressions. I do not know regular expressions extremely well, but I know them enough to be useful with them and I think this is one area where most developers fail. You might know the latest tools, heck, you might even know how to write an algorithm to sort through a large set of data, but if you can not write a regular expression (even for the most basic of tasks), then I think we have a problem.

The interview process for most developers should be simple like this: Can you write regular expressions? (yes) or (no) - if (yes) then write me a regular expression to get the value between two curly braces in my Node.js application and you have got the job.

There are always going to be companies out there with this unrealistic inflated image of how smart a developer should be. To be quite honest, I would not call myself an overly smart person. A lot of the problems I solve on a daily basis are merely following simplistic troubleshooting steps with a combination of Google and reading the documentation. Most of my day job is simply just common sense. Web developers in particular are over-glorified Googler's with an eye for detail and a large bottle of strong adhesive used for gluing different pieces together. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that, it is the truth, because I am one of those people.

gaylemcd 2 days ago 2 replies      
If you program, you are a programmer. By definition.

I suspect what you're really asking is: why do so many companies thinking programming == solving puzzles?

The answer is that:(1) Based on what you're defining as a puzzle, they don't.(2) It is valuable skill (but it's also not the only skill).

-- (1) --

While there are stupid companies that ask "puzzles", this is not the norm at Google, Facebook, and similar companies. The "puzzles" listed at that Google link are basically fake. Link bait. While it's possible that each of those was asked at Google, I doubt that's where the author of that blog post got them from. They are certainly not representative of Google questions.

The "puzzle" questions you're referring to are really more like:- Design an algorithm to return a random node from a binary tree- Design an algorithm to find the nth number divisible by only 9, 13, and 15

You can define "puzzle" however you'd like, and I'm not going to engage in some debate over whose definition is "right." Doesn't matter (and there probably isn't a "right") here.

In the real questions asked at companies like Google, there's typically no sudden insight you need or trick in the wording. Rather, these questions are about working through a different problem and creating optimal solution (and recognizing tradeoffs along the way).

-- (2) --

That is an important skill for a developer. It is valuable for a developer to be good at that, and even enjoy it.

Maybe you don't care about making your solution better. Get it done. Get it out the door. Even if it's not perfect.

That probably makes you a less awesome developer, but it doesn't mean that you are necessarily a bad developer. There are lots of parts of being a "perfect" developer.- Enjoying testing.- Understanding what users want.- Architecting a system.- Understanding the lower level computer architecture.- Being a perfectionist.- Not being a perfectionist and knowing when you just need to get something done.- Knowing how to scale a large system.- and so on.

There are a TON of things here. No one has all of them.

You might be missing one of them, and it's a fairly important one. But it's not the only one.

I once worked [worked = prepping the startup for acquisition interviews] with a developer who was, honestly, quite stupid. He was exceptionally poor at developing good algorithms. His code however was correct.

He would be terrible at a company like Google. But at this company, he was very good. You see, he was very detail-oriented and thorough. If you want someone to write a correct bit of code for a very tedious and boring problem, he's your guy.

Is he a good developer? In the right role, yes.

This doesn't mean that Google is flawed for doing interviews this way - not at all. Their goal is not to hire all good developers. Their goal is to hire enough good people and to not hire bad people.

Problem solving/algorithmic skills and coding skills is a decent filter for that purpose.

nathanb 2 days ago 0 replies      
The most challenging aspect of programming, for me, is the ability to turn something over in my head to look at it mentally. To be honest, I can only do that for any length of time on a good day. Writing stuff down is laggy and sometimes lossy, so I am only at my most productive when I can take a complex problem with a lot of little fiddly bits, ingest it mentally, and keep a holistic model in my head.

Puzzles provide a good first-order estimation of this ability. Not solving puzzles, per se, but at least analyzing them. A good puzzle requires you to use a part of your brain as "scratch space" to hold hypotheses which are applied to other parts of the puzzle. Can I solve it this way? What if I tweak this part over here? Does this assumption simplify the path to a solution, or miss out on an important subtlety? I think the thing I tried previously was more correct; can I remember how to get back to it?

I'm actually not that great at this. Many of my peers are better. Fortunately, I can compensate in other areas (I'm glad to see writing skills called out in the comments, as I like to think I'm a good communicator). I have developed some coping mechanisms (the ability to identify which details in a problem can be succinctly written down and which subset can be stored in my head -- I refer to my notebook as swap space), but I do see the value of puzzle-type questions for evaluating a candidate's ability to do this sort of thing.

Does this mean that if you can't do it, you aren't a programmer? Of course not. I happen to be a kernel developer, so I write a lot of code that communicates with other modules, doesn't have much of a UI, and has a multi-dimensional rather than flat structure. Different types of programming need different sets of skills. Find your niche, and don't fret about how you don't fit into other niches as well as you fit into yours.

(I interviewed at Google seven years ago and was rejected for being weak at algorithm design. A few years ago I had an aha! moment where I found a simple, elegant, and easy solution to the problem I completely bombed in the interview. Apparently my subconscious had been chewing away at it for literally years. I think solving a question in four years or so is sub-optimal from Google's perspective so I'm sure they were right to reject me, and my inability to do it faster speaks to the deficiencies I mention above. But in the ensuing years I have become reasonably successful in my current line of work, which I enjoy completely. My failure at Google does not keep me up at night.)

TL;DR: Puzzles only measure a single axis, so find which axis your greatness lies on and optimize for that.

karl_gluck 2 days ago 1 reply      
Definitively: Yes!

Everyone has their own preferences. Like you, I lose interest in puzzles after a few minutes. Whatever it is that gives some people great satisfaction out of finding that one missing piece, I didn't get it.

I can't speak to your experience, but for me, I like architecture. Finding the right way to glue pieces together is actually very interesting to me. I basically implemented reflection in C++ before I even knew that's what it's called because I thought it would be fun. I enjoy debugging and assembly optimizations.

What I found is that this speaks to the difference between a prototypical Software Engineer and Computer Scientist.

Engineers are interested in getting stuff done efficiently, and not just in CPU cycles--time for coding, training new coders, maintenance, extensibility, and how often the code will ever be run all must be taken into account. In my experience, grabbing someone else's solution via a package manager or using a 10-minute brute-force solution to a very hard problem can be the most "efficient". Just throw comments on it and avoid the puzzle so you can get something working. Of course, be sure to isolate the code so that if it ends up being a hotspot it's easy to fix later.

Computer Scientists, on the other hand, seek that efficient solution. Many of the PhD candidates I encountered were optimizing very specific cases of very hard problems (largely related to distributed computing). They enjoy spending time picking apart algorithms and understanding the problem so thoroughly that they can prove, confidently, that they have the most efficient solution to any given problem.

In the end, each broad category relies on its partner, and all programmers have to have some of both. Some of us just lean harder to one side than the other.

delecti 2 days ago 2 replies      
The problem isn't with him, it's with programmers who have an inflated view of how smart you have to be to be a programmer.

There are plenty of smart programmers, and there are plenty of problems that would benefit from smart programmers, but the vast majority of problems just need a spark of creativity and a lot of hard work from a person with a reasonable base of knowledge.

maxlybbert 2 days ago 2 replies      
Dijkstra commented on this multiple times (e.g., https://www.google.com/search?q=dijkstra+puzzle+minded+ewd+s... ).

"I still often hear that a successful programmer should be 'puzzle-minded' whereas I have the feeling that a clear and systematic mind is more essential. A modern, competent programmer should not be puzzle-minded, he should not revel in tricks, he should be humble and avoid clever solutions like the plague" ( https://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD03xx/E... ).

bguthrie 2 days ago 1 reply      
Puzzles are a terrifically poor way of judging whether a candidate will be good at performing the most common form of programming there is: solving meaningful problems, often business or interface ones, in a simple and readable way. Your primary audience for this type of programming is other humans. I'll take a good writer over a puzzle-solver any day. Don't get discouraged if they aren't for you.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 2 replies      
Silly question of course, anyone who has programmed for 18 years is a programmer. But the missed question is "Am I a hacker[1]?" And it is that which puzzles attempt to ferret out. Let's take the example of the 1000 piece Escher puzzle that the author uses as an excellent example. They are correct that most of the pieces are just 'shades of grey'. Impossible right? If you're a hacker you say "Challenge accepted!" if you're not you say "This is way more work than its worth." Because what the hacker mentality gets reinforcement from, is overcoming the 'impossible' (or simply the 'you can't do this') not the actual puzzle assembly.

So in the Escher puzzle a hacker says, "Hmm the picture isn't much help, its not on most of the pieces. What else can I use? Shape!" and so first will attempt to identify every piece that has a shape suggesting it is on the edge of the puzzle. Next puzzle pieces themselves have a certain symmetry, with some 'coves' and some 'penisulas' (or convex and concave curves, or 'innies' and 'outies') so unknown pieces are often sorted into the number of those features they have. Basically the hacker is looking for any piece of information that can inform on a possible way to get to the end, generally that information is non-obvious at first, more obvious once you find it. Particularly delicious puzzles will have several layers of information.

So if you don't care to figure out ways to solve a problem that is, at first glance, either really hard or nominally impossible to solve, you can still program just fine but you need a set of rules for putting together your code. And you won't find yourself asking if they are the best set of rules for the particular problem you are coding, you just make sure the problem is solved. That is a perfectly valid programming model, it gets things done.

[1] And I'm using the puzzle solving / bounds testing skill here not the application which can be applied to good or evil.

Smudge 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Could you please solve this algorithmic puzzle within half an hour? I failed. Hiring decision made. End of story.

If that alone was the reason, then your interviewer did a bad job.

The point isn't to trick you. It's to see how you work under pressure when presented with a tough problem. What is your thought process? Do you dive right in or do you take time to chew on it? What parts of your background can you draw on to help you?

It certainly helps your chances if you can solve the problem, all else being equal, but I'd rather take someone who talks through their work but doesn't quite solve it over someone who solves it yet has trouble explaining how or why.

The best interview questions are layered. There should be a relatively easy solution solvable in multiple ways by anyone with experience programming. It should almost solve itself if you walk through the specifications. (Think fizz-buzz-level.)

But underneath that should one or two harder problems with very elegant solutions. And those are much more about the process -- about weeding out the people who would dive in without really thinking it through. If you make a mess of the whiteboard, get frustrated, start desperately erasing and rewriting the same things without ever stepping back to think through alternatives... well, that might be what I'd hold against you. It's not that you didn't solve it. It's that you didn't prove to me you could've given more time.

darkFunction 2 days ago 2 replies      
I dislike puzzles too. I guess because you're just finding the creator's predefined path, and it often feels like a pointless task. Programming is coming up with original solutions of your own, so I don't see the two as wholly related.
nemo1618 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a not-dead link to the comic he's referencing?

(looking forward to a future where an image's URI is its hash and this problem evaporates)

lostcolony 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interview questions you don't like/fail shouldn't be viewed as reflective of you, but reflective of your fit at that company.

They asked a puzzle-y question you couldn't solve? Either their problems are puzzle-y, or they have terrible criteria for evaluating people; either way, do you really want to work there?

They asked a hard algorithmic problem, the kind that was someone's PhD thesis 30 years ago, and which you'd only get the optimal result to if you'd seen it before? Either they really do expect you to know stuff like that off the top of your head, or they expect you to behave a certain way when confronted with stuff you don't know; either way, do you really want to work in an environment with those kinds of expectations?

They asked you to code something hard withing a short time limit, and while you can code it, you failed the time limit; do you really want to work somewhere where speed is -the- criteria to optimize, rather than quality/maintainability/whatever (or at least where they're selecting for that rather than those other attributes)?


In general, as others have said, if you program, you're a programmer. What specific roles you're a fit for is largely orthogonal to that.

If you don't pass a company's test, view it as having dodged a bullet, not having 'failed'; either they expect you to have something from day one that you don't have, or they are terrible at testing for what they really want, and so their culture, codebase, etc, is likely miserable. In neither case do you want to work for them.

You want to work for a place whose expectations for what you have on day one fits what you actually have (whatever they may be), -and- whose interview process tests for that (even if it's a little flaky), so both you and they can expect, going into the job, that you can handle it.

Remember, too, that there are false positives and false negatives even when they're testing specifically for what they want. Failure to figure out a puzzle doesn't even mean the person isn't good at figuring out puzzles; just that in this case, in this contrived, high stress set of circumstances (an interview), they were unable to come up with an answer in the time limit.

lukaslalinsky 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't hate puzzles, but my brain just refuses to work on something that is not important to me. That's why I can't play go/chess well, I can't do sudoku and I can't solve algorithmic puzzles. Even when working on a real algorithmic problem, my brain just refuses to analyze whether something should be x or x+1. Those are things I can easily try and see.

I had a number of technical interviews last month and the conclusion was that because of this, I'll never work for a company that uses this kind of interview process. I just can't take the puzzle questions seriously enough to be good at them. But the experience also made me question whether I am still a programmer. Fortunately, I have written some algorithmically complex software to convince myself that I am.

valas 2 days ago 2 replies      
Google and Facebook long ago stopped asking (or at least now they discourage their interviewers from asking) puzzle-like questions in their SWE interviews.
skybrian 2 days ago 0 replies      
This discussion is going to be mostly meaningless because everyone has a different idea of what a puzzle is. Whether or not something is a puzzle depends on what you know. To a beginner, writing fizzbuzz is a puzzle. To someone with ordinary programming skill, it's not.

The question I usually ask in a job interview is an adapted version of something I actually had to solve, and if you don't know how to either use pointers or how to build and print a tree then you might think it's a puzzle. If you do then it's just applying your skills to the task at hand.

Maybe there are other questions I could ask, but it's a job interview; how else are you going to find actual programmers?

MCRed 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a feature not a bug-- let me explain:

Recruiting is not necessarily easy. But you can judge a company by how they recruit people. Their hiring process-- given that talent is so critical-- tells you a great deal about the company.

If they do a terrible job, if they are arbitrary or capricious, or if they have discrimination as a policy (e.g.: I was in the room at Startup School when Zuckerberg said "don't hire anyone over 30, they just don't get it" (paraphrased).... then you know it's not a good place to waste your time interviewing.

I'd argue that the company with the puzzle saved you a lot of hassle-- you know they are arbitrary and did not put the effort into producing a competent hiring process, and this likely tells you that they won't respect you once you're on board as an employee either.

There are a great many of these "smells".

As I've gotten more experienced, and more in a position to be picky, here's my current gauntlet:

-- If they locate themselves in a place that guarantees a 2 hour commute for most employees, but don't allow working from home 3 days a week, or remote employees, that's a bad sign. Why pay for downtown office space-- as a startup, no less! -- when there's a lot of cheap offices out in the periphery where most people live? (That's the case in this town, maybe not in others.)

-- Asking for references. First off this is a legal minefield. A reference that isn't glowing is going to open themselves up to liability. Any well run business is only going to say you worked there for some period of time. And who is going to give people they think will give a bad reference? This one shows naivety.

-- Having a preference for ivy league. Google impeaches itself with this one in my mind.

austinz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate "puzzle" questions where there's a single insight with which the problem becomes trivial, without which the problem is unsolvable, and it's a tossup whether or not you'll come across it in the 30-60 minutes you spend in a room with the interviewer.

I do enjoy questions where there the path to the goal isn't immediately obvious, but there are immediately a couple of approaches to consider, and even though the problem itself might be novel, the steps to get there are each something a competent person can reason about.

emotionalcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know. I like getting close to code, because I like thinking about the people that make each symbol, establish a meaning, weave that into a language, where it is either contextually derived or explicated clearly. I like watching those things change and I like figuring out why some things stay the same. I like selecting words for new concepts, which I am never really sure of whether these things are arbitrary. When I zoom out and generalize enough, everything shares the same fuzziness, these symbols are all puzzle pieces. But when I zoom in, each puzzle piece is the puzzle itself.

I grew up enjoying puzzles, logic puzzles, logic books, math books, piece puzzles, riddles, and all the supposedly clever things to that affect. The more involved I become in the world of programming though, I can't really say.

I have the time to study the complex math and computer science theory sometimes, on the weekend, for fun, and then the code I read through ranges from deeply personalized learning to clear, uniform specifications developed over time periods I have no actual experience understanding what goes on during those time periods. I know the importance behind many theories, and I understand how to apply these things. But I don't know why or how it grew.

If you want to see a puzzle pattern in code, you will see puzzles everywhere. You can see anything you want to in code, just like every other human creation. Make your own meaning and what not. Code is more art to me than 'Art' is.

iceberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does a lack of interest in solving (mechanical) puzzles imply you're a weak programmer?

I really don't think so: I think it all comes down to how you think - intuition versus logic. And I think people don't fall neatly into either category - it's a spectrum. Too much emphasis is placed in interviews on solving mechnicaly problems and less on problems that can be solved more suitably by itutition: design, feature improvements, re-factoring and some people (including me) I've found have to internalise the problem and can't just simply solve a problem as qucikly as those who are very mechanically minded.

And besides technically ability is part of being a professional(!) programmer working with others. The following should also carry significant weight: an ability to work with others, take criticism, lead others, be resourceful, get stuff done on time, write clean and readable code (not just solve the problem technically) and so on are from my(!!) experience not given enough weight!

Just me two cents.

chrisdone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I feel the same way about games that he feels about jigsaws. They're fun enough but they're inherently contrived and produce no real value. I read books and watch movies for narrative experiences. While there's a growing minority of games that have real emotional, sophisticated and even literature-level narratives, at the end of the day, most games require you to solve contrived puzzles to advance the narrative.

On the other end, there are games like that one where you build pieces from blocks and it's a little world, people have expressed their artistic side with whole castles with automations and calculators. These are more like LEGO, Meccano or other tool; they're a substrate, like a programming language, something you build on. I wouldn't call them games.

Although I will grant that games that pit you against or collaborate with other human beings is worth it to some degree, because you're spending time with people (which is why Chess is bloody boring and pointless to play against the computer), it's all noughts-and-crosses with bells and whistles.

Coming back to his point about jigsaws, while it is satisfying to complete one, personally, any time spent putting in active effort (as opposed to passive effort, like in the case of a novel or movie or theatre), I'd prefer to be doing something actually constructive; to produce something real, either artistically (I paint canvases), or technologically (I'm a programmer). Rather than maintaining these farms and cyberpet-style games, or the games where you're digging for gold and collecting resources, I'd rather maintain my bike, go grab some materials from the store and do some DIY in my apartment, plant some things in my garden, etc. Whenever one of my gamer friends explains a game to me, I'm thinking more about how I'd make that than how I'd play it. I'm not saying people who like to spend time doing these things are wasting their time, just that I don't share that desire at all.

Puzzles in a job interview are a poor idea. People don't solve puzzles on their job, with their manager watching them do it. They don't get sacked for failing to solve the puzzle (which failing a job interview is tantamount to; your career depends on it). And if they can't solve a puzzle in 15 minutes, they spend all day on it. Or all week. They ask their colleagues for help. If it's too hard, the product manager considers breaking the problem down. Asking contrived puzzles is such a silly idea that I'm biased against companies that try to ask them for job interviews.

hangonhn 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think some of it comes from our notion of human intelligence being universally applicable to all problems. Puzzles and chess are often used as a proxy for that. The thinking goes is that if you're smart then you'll be good at puzzle solving. If you're smart then you'll be a good programmer. It's not really something that has a lot of evidence for. One of the best career advice I've received is to interview with lots of companies but do it in the order of least wanted job first so by the time you're interviewing for the job you really want, you have had lots of practice. It works pretty well. Puzzle solving and programming are both skills that you get good at with practice.

Someone else already commented that if you program then you're a programmer. I think that's really the only definition you should use. Everything else are just proxies, mostly bad ones, for if you're a good programmer or not.

nemo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like certain types of puzzles - figuring out the causes of bugs, figuring out how to implement something in code cleanly and elegantly, figuring out how to make sure something is designed maintainably and intelligibly to spare future grief, figuring out the mysterious ways of programmers who wrote code I now maintain.

I also like figuring out and implementing the right algorithms for a problem, but it's a pretty small part of what I do at work, and if it's complex, it's something I like to take some time to think through and sometimes read up on to make sure I really understand what I'm getting into, so I really don't like playing the logic puzzle games they use in interviews at some places. Being quick with an algorithmic answer is a nice skill, but being a good programmer is a craft that involves more than cleverness with algorithms.

jbaskette 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is well known that the ability to solve mathematical puzzles was used as a screening tool at places like Google to screen new hires. It seems to me that this practice was based on the belief that there was an affinity or correlation between the interest and ability to solve mathematical puzzles and programming. I suspect there is such a correlation, but it is a weak one and is not useful as a screen tool for hiring which is why the practice has been dropped. But, jigsaw puzzles are not mathematical puzzles, so there may be no correlation at all there. I love mathematical puzzles, but I am bored with jigsaw puzzles.

So, since it is not the case that loving jigsaw puzzles implies "ability and desire to be a programmer", then the fact that you hate jigsaw puzzles implies nothing with respect to your status as a programmer.

chavesn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ok, but a jigsaw puzzle is sooo not the kind of puzzle that programming is at all about, even the explicit "puzzle" questions that companies like Facebook dish out.

I can't even think of one similarity between the two activities.

floating-points 2 days ago 0 replies      
This. A thousand times this. After going through the rounds of interviews at various companies as someone who's not particularly strong in the algorithm department, I've often felt frustrated. I think my strengths are in making good sensible design decisions for a given problem, and being able to manage the complexity of a system; but I've never been able to really show that in an interview. I've seen work from colleagues that solves a simple problem, but makes extensive use of obscure C++ template features. Maybe they were great at algorithms, maybe they weren't, but they certainly weren't capable of coming up with the simplest solution.

I've dedicated lots of time learning graph algorithms in order to get better at interviews: I've only had a graph problem come up once in the last 5 years of programming, and it wasn't particularly tricky (it came up at a time I knew nothing of graph problems, and kind of figured out a graph structure by myself).

When I'm at work, I find I have a knack for keeping things simple, and get a feeling for when certain solutions are a bad idea. For me, software engineering is really about the engineering (make things that meet requirements with the given resources), and from my experience is not so much about being able to implement and provide the time/space complexity of 10 different sorting algorithms (although knowing the basics is important).

It's genuinely a relief to see many other people relating to this kind of experience, sometimes it can feel like you're the only one!

throwmeout 2 days ago 0 replies      
I couldn't agree more with this article.

I pursued Computer Science in the hope of being recognized for the ability to create something NOT in the ability to regurgitate the most arcane algorithm in 45 minutes. Most interviewers KNOW they would NEVER like NEVER use it in production.

Yet, I'm not happy at my current job. What option do I have but to remember the 5th variant of the problem I saw in Cracking the coding interview? None.

Back to chugging. </rant>

EDIT: Thank you for writing this article! Till today I thought I was an idiot for not being able to solve 'that' problem.

MrQuincle 2 days ago 0 replies      
I definitely agree with this sentiment. Recently someone dropped by for a job interview and revealed how much he loved to solve puzzles. Not that this influenced my decision in any way, but it made me reflect how different I felt w.r.t. this.

For me, it is not design either, it is something different.

I hate puzzles that are created by other people, where you have to follow the "hidden variable" which is in that case the brain of the maker of the puzzle. They already know the solution! I feel utterly useless solving a puzzle that has been already solved thousands of times by others. What's the point!? After 3 sudoku games I'm done with them. The same with IQ tests on national television. Why would I feel any reward in being able to crawl into the brain of a television writer concocting questions for a general audience? I think there are many much more interesting people in the world, than these guys. Their "puzzles" suck.

I also have never enjoyed solving mathematical problems in text books. I love math, and I read a lot of text books, although university is years ago. I think for people like me there should be different ways to teach them.

What makes me going is to find new things that haven't been known before. After I get some understanding of a field, I love to make up my own problems and solve these. The boundaries of such a problem are vague, it is not even known if it can be solved, but I am happy. Even if it turns out that I solve something that has been solved in the 13th century, I can't care less.

This is just a personal story, but perhaps someone can relate.

Xyik 2 days ago 0 replies      
People forget there's a distinction between Computer Scientist / Data Scientist / Software Engineer. They are not one and the same, and depending on your job you may only need to be one of those three categories. You don't need to know how quick-sort works create a CRUD web application, but you sure need to know how to write clear, maintainable code in all areas from the stack. But if that's all you know you can't expect to excel at a job like generating the Facebook news feed which actually involves theoretical knowledge.
Blahah 2 days ago 0 replies      
I personally dislike puzzles (of the toy/jigsaw variety), riddles, and so on. But I love solving problems when programming. A programming problem abstracted to a word problem is no longer fun - you've taken away half the toolset I have for tackling the problem. It's the synergy between mind and machine that gives me deep joy when programming - the fact that the tedious repetitive parts of mental gymnastics are turned into creative problem solving, which in turn leaves me more time for creative solutions to the problems that weren't repetitive.
dlwj 2 days ago 0 replies      
"The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal TaoThe name that can be named is not the eternal name"

Once "art" becomes defined, it ceases to become art. The barista ceases to become important once a machine can replicate the exact results. The artist becomes useless once his or her method can be codified and repeated.

The method of choosing good engineers also becomes useless once it is defined because then that standard can be copied without regards to the traits it originally was trying to gauge. Pure arbitrary processes aren't great because of the lack of transparency that encourages nepotism, but neither is a purely mechanical approach that opens itself to becoming gamed.

A heuristic exchanges information for faster processing. When heuristics are passed around, the original information is lost. Almost everything we do is a heuristic though. 3 meals a day, brushing teeth everyday, etc... Is it better than nothing? Probably. Is it great? No. But everyone offering a "solution" isn't really offering a solution. They're just telling personal stories about what heuristic worked best for them.

The job interview process is quite similar to the friend making process. Not everyone is going to be your friend, and following scripts like saying hello every morning isn't going to do it either. It's just one of those things that are part of life.

brandonmenc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yes. I hate puzzles too, and so do most of the other programmers I actually like hanging out with.

I know this is a "me too" post, but that's kind of what you're looking for.

sriku 2 days ago 1 reply      
Yup. The way I like to express this is as follows -

It took Einstein about 10 years to formulate the general theory of relativity, needing no further experimental input into the work during this period. A few other scientists such as Wheeler, Schwarzschild and others, not to mention mathematicians like Riemann, put in at least as many "top scientist years" of time - about 20 TSYs in all, conservatively. The core content of this is taught in grad school these days over one semester and could be considered about 1/2 grad student years worth of intellectual effort.

So what did these people do for the remaining 19.5/20 of the time? They got hold of a problem that wouldnt let go of them, that they poorly understood, but nevertheless persevered through false starts, uglifications, and what not to arrive finally at the beautiful theory that it is.

i.e. Problem finding and perseverence through foggy days with all but a candle that seems to threaten to blow out any minute is at least 40x harder and that much more valuable than problem solving.

I believe your phd would've served you well on that front.

phazmatis 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's really sad how amateur most interviewers are. I learn a lot more from them than they do from me. I actually take advantage of the few minutes they set aside for me to ask questions to poke a bit and try to get them to go off-script. Companies: For god's sake, choose interviewers that don't need a teleprompter to conduct an interview. It's making you look bad.
kstenerud 2 days ago 1 reply      
Evaluating a programmer by how well he solves a logic puzzle makes about as much sense as evaluating a race car driver by how well he rides a horse.
R_Edward 2 days ago 5 replies      
>Four people need to cross a rickety bridge at night. Unfortunately, they have only one torch and the bridge is too dangerous to cross without one. The bridge is only strong enough to support two people at a time. Not all people take the same time to cross the bridge. Times for each person: 1 min, 2 mins, 7 mins and 10 mins. What is the shortest time needed for all four of them to cross the bridge?<

17 minutes, if you can stipulate that at the beginning of the problem, the 10 minute and 7 minute people are on opposite sides of the bridge, each paired with one of the other two guys.

18 minutes, if they must all start on the same side of the bridge, but there is no requirement for all of them to end up on the opposite side.

This also assumes that person who can cross the bridge in as little as one minute has no problem slowing down to accommodate someone else's slower pace; otherwise there's no real point to trying to share the torch.

stinos 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love puzzles - especially ones that are unicolor or close to it but do have weird shapes - but never related it to programmings as a whole. That just seems wrong to me so I'd say your question should be phrased otherwise as it's far from a simple yes/no question. Just depends too much on what you thing 'programmer' means.

Programming itself is such a vague and general term me and my friends tend to split it in smaller, somewhat better defined aspects when discussing about it. I'd say aspects related to creating new code/design/refactoring don't have a whole lot to do with puzzles. Lowlevel debugging of nasty problems on the other hand does have quite a lot in common with puzzles. I should check some research on this, but wouldn't be surpised if one effectively uses different areas of the brain for these aspects as well.

area51org 2 days ago 1 reply      
People tend to presume that everyone thinks the way do. In this case, everyone solves problems and thinks about programming the same way, right?

I've always had a more narrative approach to coding. Until I read some of the stuff Larry Wall (Perl) has written about how he thinks, I'd assumed I was a giant freak. Not at all.

Rooster61 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but think this is a perfect example of the contrast between a programmer and a hacker. When I think of those who enjoy puzzles, or more accurately the mental process to solve said puzzles, I think of hackers. A programmer is simply someone who programs.

That's not to say that you can't be a perfectly competent programmer without being a hacker. On the contrary, sometimes, though rarely, hacker traits can be detrimental to programming as a profession. A programmer bitten hard by the hacker bug may become a bit too enamored with a puzzle when going about their work on a given project, and as a result come up with a solution that effectively solves a difficult problem but is a nightmare to effectively maintain, especially when others are doing the maintenance.

ThomaszKrueger 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, you are. Don't be fooled by companies with hiring processes that basically say "dance for me, monkey". They have their own agenda; just because you don't look like the programmers they would hire it doesn't mean you are any less a programmer.
flawlessvoid 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like puzzles (jigsaw or otherwise), just not as an essential criteria for getting a job."Wow, you solved the knapsack problem using dynamic programming! Great. Now here's 2 million lines of 30-year old code, much of it crufty. You'll be a natural!"
treehau5 2 days ago 0 replies      
This isn't the only industry this happens.

In restaurants you have line cooks, prep cooks, and then occasionally if you are a "fancy" enough of a place you have a sous chef and an executive chef.

The one common thread here is, they are all cooks.

Now most line cooks will have never have actually "created" a dish, just like most of us have never "created" an algorithm, (having the vision for something new, knowing which ingredients sourced from what region will work the best, knowing how the various intricacies of spices, how they interact with each other, what temperature is optimal for meats, ect), but I am sure they know how to put something new together.

yawn 2 days ago 0 replies      
A programmer is one who programs. You are a programmer.

There are many reasons people program. For me personally, it's to make stuff and put it out there. Companies have to have methods of weeding people out, and some of them pick those puzzles.

thewarrior 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ha ! And I was feeling stupid for not being able to make headway on the puzzle on the front page that was shared from Terry Tao's page :P

On a more serious note ..

I'd like to think that raw cognitive ability would be a nice thing to have in a programmer. In a field where things change so fast we definitely need people are who are good at figuring things out and making things work.

Ofcourse its obvious that the best way to hire someone is to have them build something substantial and or go over their previous open source work. When that is always not possible then some test of cognitive ability will have to come into the picture as a proxy.

nraynaud 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tend to agree, I hate riddles and puzzles, I don't like trying to debug something in an embedded system with no screen, GDB (which is a riddle in itself), and a temporal component that prevent me from using some technique (like breakpoint scripts that continue).

I just put up with them in the hope that I get stuff done past them.

Today I tried an online Mensa test (the quick stuff), I didn't recognize any patterns in the domino section (I tried 5 before giving up, vertically, diagonally, like text, nothing), I guess, some people are not made for that. I know people who love them and are good at it, I just hope to still get some respect from them.

bithush 2 days ago 0 replies      
Depends on the kind of puzzle to be honest. I enjoy puzzles (as in a physical puzzle like the author is talking about) but only ones that are not stupidly hard like his Escher puzzle. Sod that!

Programming puzzles are very different though. Do I hate programming puzzles? Sometimes. Again it depends on the puzzle at hand.

As for is he still a programmer? Well if he codes and produces something that works how he wanted it too then sure. He might be one of those programmers that hate debugging though so ends up writing more and more code to 'fix' a problem rather than actually find the real problem instead of coding around it.

mncolinlee 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jigsaw puzzles are repetitive and inefficient. They may be the antithesis of good programming. While they might be fun as a distraction, they are hardly a marker of programming ability. I don't like the idea that people have to have "smart person hobbies" to be coders. Playing music, poker, shooting pool, or racing could be equally as relevant.

The best programmers typically choose not to reimplement a solution when an existing one works just as well. Why should we love solving the same old puzzle from scratch over and over again?

bane 2 days ago 0 replies      
I look at puzzles as a problem-class that need to be solved, not the individual puzzles need to be solved, but the fact that there is a puzzle at all should be the thing that's being solved.

95% of software development is not solving complex algorithmic problems, it's plumbing. If the plumbing is so complex that it creates puzzles that need to be solved, then something probably went wrong somewhere along the line.

Preventing the 95% of software development that shouldn't be a puzzle from becoming one is something I'm very passionate about.

CapitalistCartr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I could have written this; It's me to a T. I build things. I like building things. It's fine with me if it's not completely original. I can ride around my city and point to the parts I helped build. I like that.

When I program I bring order from chaos. I can do that best by using the discoveries of others, and building them up. I'm glad there are creative people who love mathematics enough to figure out original algorithms; I appreciate their work. I'm not one of them. It doesn't change the quality of what I build.

kazagistar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love puzzles. I love to ask people who were just interviewed to tell me all about any puzzles they got, and try to see how long it takes me to work them out. I feel fairly confident that I have a knack for them.

But it isn't actually a good interview strategy. I don't think any company should hire me over someone else due to puzzle solving. If I were to do an interview, I would probably leave out puzzles entirely.

clomond 2 days ago 0 replies      
Puzzles: One clear solutionAlgorithms: "Better" solutions. "Best" solution may exist but hard to definitively prove. Often, things like cost and time are real constraints in the solution to the problem.Real world "problems"/"design": solutions are optimized for a certain set of outcomes.

I don't like puzzles either, but I think it's due to their restrictive nature and generally non-creative solution finding process. I prefer making puzzles over solving them.

ryanchamp_ICE 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not going to get into the fake programmer vs real programmer thing, but I will mention the thing that most excites me about programming. For the the author it was "design," and for me it's similar: communication.

I love being able to take a fuzzy idea, decompose it into discrete (and concrete parts) and then transposing that idea into programming language in such a way that not only solves the problem, but also communicates clearly what the original intent/idea/solution is.

chasing 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like making things. If I want to make something and I don't know how, I'll figure it out. Call that "solving a puzzle," but it's a very different activity than solving a literal jigsaw puzzle or answering some arbitrary question about rickety bridges.

If you enjoy making things with software, you'll be a decent programmer. If you enjoy puzzles for their own sake, go check out some Martin Gardner books. Those two enjoyments can overlap, but they're not necessarily dependent upon one another.

calvinbhai 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate puzzles.I hate puzzle/trick questions.I have been programming for more than 10 years.

Usually when I interview with a company, I am upfront with them when they present me with a puzzle as part of the interview process, and tell them that I don't do puzzles. If that pisses them off and thats the end of the interview, fine.

At least, I'm not wasting time acting like I love solving the puzzle, which the interviewer got to know online and wants to show off who's the boss.

On the flip side, if someone gave me a really tough coding assignment, and I failed to even get the basics right, I'll accept it gracefully, go back home and figure out what I need to improve at solving that problem.

Often, I have noticed that these tough interview questions are a way to satisfy the interviewer's ego, more than finding the right candidate for the position needed.

Those who ask puzzles for s/w engineering jobs don't really know how to interview a prospective candidate or what exactly to look for.

Unless you are interviewing for job which involves you being a Sherlock Holmes, there's no way your ability of solving puzzles indicates how capable you are with programming.

Really glad this is getting more visibility. Thanks Google for starting the Puzzle craze. (glad that they are trying to put an end to it)

dead10ck 2 days ago 0 replies      
As many others have already said, if you've been programming for 18 years, then yes, you are a programmer. I wouldn't say you're crazy for not liking puzzles, but I would say you're crazy for not liking puzzles and pursuing a Ph.D in (what I assume is) Computer Science, since that is invariably what most research involves, and what most Ph.D level jobs are going to involve.
WalterBright 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't write programs because I like solving puzzles. I write them because I like creating things, and it's a lot easier to create things with programs than with a machine shop.

I also enjoy the competition with other compiler/language vendors to produce a better product.

timsco 2 days ago 0 replies      
Never let an HR manager or recruiter's decision or feedback be a reflection of your self worth. They rarely know much about our jobs.
kjjw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't know but where can I get that jigsaw?
incanus77 2 days ago 0 replies      
Love this. I like puzzles (and scifi) and definitely fit the more traditional model of a programmer, though I'm entirely self-taught and didn't take CS in school. I really don't like algorithms that much. What I do enjoy is API design, writing elegant code that is maintainable, and solving the macro, human-scale problems.
LukaD 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love programming, but I hate puzzles.

Solving puzzles is nothing like programming to me. Programming to me means crafting your own pieces of the puzzle and being able to create something unique and beautiful.

Of course programming has some bad and boring sides. I would compare those to solving a jigsaw puzzle.

crimsonalucard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sure you are still a developer if you don't know algorithms or programming puzzles. You can hold a job and be competent and churn out quality code. However, you are a BETTER programmer if you do know these things.
iconjack 2 days ago 0 replies      
When Google and Facebook ask if you enjoy puzzles, I'm pretty sure they're not talking about jigsaw puzzles! They mean stuff like this:http://realmode.com/punch22.html
baddox 2 days ago 0 replies      
The author should probably at least take a stab at defining his usage of "puzzle." There's a big difference between a jigsaw puzzle and, say, the Portal games. In fact, jigsaw puzzles are a very different endeavor than logic/programming puzzles and many puzzle video games.
geekam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh lord, I could not have read this ata more apt time. I am going through such a crisis right now, professionally. I keep interviewing at these places where they just want to know if I can solve 9 ball problems or not. I almost feel like an impostor. Glad I read this.
FrankenPC 2 days ago 0 replies      
Programming is a pyramid. Each strata building on the other. Anyone can join in on any level to contribute. I enjoy living on the framework and data levels. I really don't like front end or bare iron work. That certainly kills some job opportunities, but I'd rather be happy.
ww520 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you are young and have nothing to show, puzzle solving, like a school degree, is a way for other people to judge you. When you have experience and track record, puzzle is like meh. People still using puzzle to judge an experienced developer are not very good in evaluating others.
j_baker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to point out that the Google quote is not from Google's webpage and is in fact likely a banned interview question. The facebook quote on the other hand is from their webpage on a tool that is used for recruiting.
sp332 2 days ago 0 replies      
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6583580 Dear startups: stop asking me math puzzles to figure out if I can code
yarrel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Optimizing out inefficiency and waste is part of good programming. So yes.
buckbova 2 days ago 0 replies      
Only puzzles I enjoy are researching a bug and reading through code to find the bug and propose a fix. I enjoy this more than writing new code, even if the codebase is completely foreign to me.
mediumdivision 2 days ago 0 replies      
> What I like about programming is not problem solving its design

Apparently in some alternate universe where design is not considered problem solving.

alecbenzer 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Coming up with algorithms is the programmers version of puzzle solving.

I'm not really seeing the connection. Are they both just things you don't like?

cevaris 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Maybe I should refer to myself as software designer rather than programmer.

I think you should refer to yourself as an Software developer, not a Software Engineer. You can be good by referencing your previous experiences. But knowing how to solve and loving puzzles is a nice sign that this individual can solve problems quick and efficiently. This latter case is less common though. Most programmers are Software Developers, just referencing sdk's and frameworks and minor "new" development.

slapresta 2 days ago 0 replies      
Turns out 500-pieces puzzles are more like an exercise in banality and less like actual puzzles.
chuck8088 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like puzzles a little bit, but I kinda suck at them.

I am an antiprogrammer though.

interdrift 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't really want to sound off-topic but did you guys get the answer?
the_cat_kittles 2 days ago 0 replies      
there are a number of ways to be a good programmer: being a skilled puzzle solver / algorithmist is one of them, being good at designing apis is another, deciding what even needs to be built is another.
beyondcompute 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing! So good to know that I'm not alone. :)
LeicaLatte 2 days ago 0 replies      
Weird interview puzzles are out. If you or your community continues to lazily fallback on "puzzles", you must quit your job now.

It is worth solving the problems we solve, however boring and straightforward the solutions can sometime be.

jjzieve 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who doesn't play video games. I can relate.
kakakiki 2 days ago 0 replies      
My life story! Relieved to see similar people :)
mrcactu5 2 days ago 0 replies      
you're a programmer, but you're certainly not a computer scientist.

you like design! design a puzzle where the game is to optimize features for your end users.

how many wonderful algorithms have shitty interfaces? i know because I have written them - and nobody uses them because the interfaces suck.

i promise to keep an open mind to design, if you try a jigsaw once in a while

pmelendez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Correlation is not causation :)
logfromblammo 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have lost count of the number of job interviews where I have been asked to solve a puzzle or brainteaser. I very much enjoy it when I can tell them "I've heard that one before: the answer is X," until they run out of alternate challenges. But I also enjoy it when I actually get to solve a new one. It's like my payment for doing the interview, even if there's no offer.

This isn't really a strike against the company. This is just an indicator that they haven't had much experience at hiring people. They clearly are all copying from the same source, who was in turn copying from the books and magazines filled with puzzles and crosswords that I have been reading since I was old enough to do so.

I know from firsthand experience that the puzzles they are using are not the ones that I feel best correlate with coding ability. They are instead the ones that can be asked and solved quickly, with a single correct answer. They are generic filler, like "what's your greatest strength?" and "what's your worst weakness?" Those questions just show you that your interviewer does not know how to evaluate your fit for their job.

Programmers translate human problems into procedure-based solutions. They do not need to solve puzzles, except insofar as it can be puzzling to get stupid agents to perform complex tasks without step-by-step supervision from the principal.

Hacking is an essential part of the wider culture that formed around early programmers, but this culture is somewhat more inclusive than most. Certain activities draw forth the archetype. Safecracking, lockpicking, geocaching/orienteering, scavenger hunts, reverse engineering, deckbuilding strategy games, Rube Goldberg machines, drone photography, robotics, etc. That type of person is drawn to programming, not necessarily the other way around!

We don't need a cultural battle. I don't particularly care for "brogrammers" or "rockstars" or Nerf battles and foosball at the workplace, but I don't begrudge those types the right to call themselves programmers and to claim to work for technology companies.

But just as they should not be expected to solve brainteasers during their interviews, so too should I not be expected to play Ping Pong against a company founder during mine. I think monoculture is dangerous and foolhardy. Please, lets just judge our worth as programmers by how well we can write programs.

vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
The discussion here is far more interesting than the article. "I don't like jigsaw puzzles, therefore I'm not supposed to be good as a programmer"? "Facebook and Google aren't looking for people like me, therefore I'm not supposed to be good as a programmer"? It seems to be intentionally narrowing the definition in order to make a somewhat whiny point.

What I like about programming is not problem solving its design. How do I design an application in such a way that people will understand it?

Or, to put it another way, 'what I like about programming is not problem solving, it's problem solving'. The author somehow distorted the term 'problem solving' into 'puzzle solving'. Improving the usability of something is solving a problem. The author is tilting at windmills.

lancejpollard 2 days ago 0 replies      
i hate puzzles too
Fando 2 days ago 0 replies      
No you're not, abandon ship.
danschumann 2 days ago 3 replies      
Best stick to the shallow end of the pool if you can't swim.

Do you program? Then you are a programmer. However, in some circles, where extremely complex problems need to be solved, they would say, " No ", because you can't do any of the programming required, and you'd be as useful to them as a rock, only less useful because you take air and food.

I play volleyball occasionally, but if I went to the olympic men's team, they would tell me I don't really play volleyball, I've not yet earned the right to say that I have.

It's a matter of skills and standards. In the right context I can call myself a car mechanic.. like if my car needs air the tires, but beyond that I'm not.

If you can program simple things on the web you can get away with calling yourself a programmer until you run into problems that make you realize you're not, like complex graphics algorithms.

I can cook food at home, but if I walk into a 3 michelin star restaurant and try to get a job, it's not like I'm going to write an article if they don't like my food. Boo hoo, they made me cook for them, how dare they? Whatever they're doing, it's working, so why knock the process that produces success when you can mimic it?

1984 v. Brave New World
406 points by moritzfelipe  23 hours ago   179 comments top 27
tikhonj 19 hours ago 12 replies      
I actually agree with some of the other commenters in this thread: Huxley's dystopia is, well, far less dystopian than Orwell's. Or, in a more nuanced look, Huxley's book suffers an unfortunate dichotomy: the things that are bad are not realistic and the things that are realistic are not bad.

The legitimately dystopian part of Brave New World are often technical in natureeffectively mind control through drugs and a caste system propped up by genetic engineering. These don't just require advances in technology but also a surprising level of social organization. Where 1984 feels like a continuous progression from a Soviet Union that never collapsed, these core parts of Brave New World comes of as discontinuous, a jump both socially and technically.

And without these extreme social and technical changes, it stops being a dystopia. If not for the eugenics, genetics and soma, it sounds like a nice place to live! Freer sex, freer entertainment, more automation, more leisure... It's radical, certainly, but not in a bad waya radical departure from our current almost Puritan work ethic and our obsession with certain abstractions (the poorly defined "real vs superficial", "honor", "the dignity of work"...etc) sounds like just what we need.

I like giving people what they want, even if I think it's shallow or superficial. Then again, I've never been one to treat hedonism as a bad word.

That cartoon people like to pass around really captures my thoughtsin a way that's opposite to its intended message! It shows how some of the believable things in Brave New World are believable, but never shows why they're bad. It just assumes, and ties into cultural ideas (like "hard work is good" or "your life must have meaning") that many people don't question. But it misses the mark because it ignores the parts that are not plausible but actually created the dystopian environment.

The cartoon (much more than the book itself) is also a bit grating because I sense some condescending overtones. "Look at all those people who don't care about the world but just distract themselves with popular entertainment. How shallow!" Obviously you, the reader, do not belong to this group. And hey, I don't disagree per seI think most popular distractions are shallow and have much better alternativesbut I also think there's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying them. I mean, I follow the news, I care about recent events and where does it get me? Nowhere. I guess I could vote a bit better, but all it's done is sour me on all major candidates. Is this meaningfully better than comfortable ignorance? No, but people tell me it is. And here I am.

Really, Brave New World minus the implausible bits and with a larger dash of individual freedom thrown in is pretty much as far from dystopian as it can get. Radical, certainly, and jarringvery different from our current social orderbut fundamentally good. It feels like it's just a few exaggerated risks thrown in to make leisure and entertainment seem crass and indolent. 1984, on the other hand, doesn't feel all that different from my parents' tales about the Soviet Union.

I know which one I'm more afraid of!


I've always really disliked this phrase. It's one part rationalization and one part a way to keep people down and working even if they don't want to. Doing something menial or boring or easily automatable just for the sake of working is not my picture of dignity!

Haha, no I can't, because I'm not a citizen. So I'd have to become a citizen first. It doesn't matter, but it is annoying.

netcan 22 hours ago 13 replies      
These are two giants in science fiction, in political philosophy and in pop culture. I'm a big fan of both. Great to read a discussion between them.

First, there's the artistic stele of the books. 1984 has got this graphic novel, Noir feel to it, like Walking Dead or Sin City. Brave New World has this brightly colored surreal feel to it. It's hard to compare books that are different in this way.

Overall, Orwell's world felt more real to me, like it could have been brought about by real political circumstances. The system itself is evolved around the principle that whatever improves control survives. It feels like a political system that has devolved into its current state with the original vision or rhetoric of the ideology that brought it about remaining as a vestige, like Marxism in China.

Huxley's world feels a little more fake to me. It's like some political genius designed it head to tail and things went ahead as planned. It's like Canberra (If you go there, you'll see what I mean). That makes it feel more like a made up word to me, inorganic.

Orwell's "mechanisms," training society to gradually train their minds using language, euphemism, historical revisionism, social penalties for bad thought patterns and as much control over what people see & hear as possible it feels real to me. We see that stuff at work now as Orwell saw it in his time. It feels possible, though I think Winston's are inevitable too. Euphemisms to control thought is stronger today than it was in Orwell's time.

Huxely's mechanisms of Soma, infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis feel less real. I can't count that against the author or the book though. Brave New World is distant future. That's inevitably more fantastical and less realistic. I think he's right though about using pleasantness over direct confrontation. Humans are pleasure seeking and denied pleasure, there will always be a force of instability.

The point where 1984 slips ahead though is the book-in-the-book 'The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein.' In particular, it describes how the system must allow some non hereditary class movement. If the class system is too rigid, pressure builds up as talented individual press against the ceiling. If some are allowed to progress and there are prominent examples the class system becomes less explicit and more stable. I don't know if it's some of my earliest political exposure being socialist, but that just rings true to me. I see it today. Statistically, classes are fairly rigid, but individually, they are malleable.

I'm very biased though I think 1984 is one of the most important books I read as a teenager. It shaped how I saw things.

wmnwmn 21 hours ago 3 replies      
BNW is a deeper book than 1984 because with BNW the first task is to say why that world is even bad to begin with. BNW represents the logical conclusion of a philosophy in which happiness is the top priority. In my opinion it shows that happiness can not be the top priority of life, contrary to the propaganda of marketers and psychologists over the past century. Life is not inherently happy and the attempt to make it that way destroys it. One of the many paradoxes is that if you accept unhappiness and just get on with the job, greater happiness can follow.
roel_v 22 hours ago 10 replies      
I never quite understood was was 'dystopian' about Brave New World. A world in which everybody is happy and content with who they are and the circumstances they live in, how is that dystopian? He threw in some bad things (the people in the reserves, the people who didn't take their meds, the 'conditioning' of the children) but never really justified why they'd be necessary. All of them (and the 'orgy-porgies') were, I felt, added to be able to make the argument that the society he was portraying was morally wrong.
vikingo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Neil Postman wrote the most concise examination of this topic in the foreword to "Amusing Ourselves to Death"[1]:

"We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right."

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Amusing-Ourselves-Death-Discourse-Busi...

aprdm 22 hours ago 5 replies      
stormbrew 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Right now it rather seems Orwell had it closer to right on the predictions in the letter: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/54/US_incarc...

Some of this stuff is expanded on in Huxley's forword to BNW[1], btw, written in 1947. I have always been fascinated by this assertion in it:

     As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase.
He doesn't support this axiom in the forword (or this letter), and I've always wondered if anyone has ever written a compelling, historically-based, argument for this idea.

[1] http://www.wealthandwant.com/auth/Huxley.html

codeulike 22 hours ago 1 reply      
At the time of this letter, Aldous Huxley was very into 'Animal Magnetism' and Hypnotism (read his novel 'Island' to see his utopian vision for such things). He seems to somewhat overrate their potence. 65 years later Animal Magnetism is long forgotten and hypnotism is slightly helpful for giving up smoking or being a bit less angry.

I feel sorry for past thinkers who could only stumble upon ideas from books and digest them one at a time, rather than instantly find the history and connections and evidence and counter-arguments for an idea as we can now.

dicroce 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the problem with Huxleys predictions come from his not realizing how blunt an instrument narcotics are... Fine work and subtle tweaks are beyond our power (just look at the side effects)... Using drugs to adjust personality is like using a sledgehammer to rearrange porcelain figurines. Not that we might not get there of course.... but we'll have many years of boots stomping on faces in the interim.
DontBeADick 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death is a great continuation of this topic. I only wish they were still around to see how right they were.
hyperion2010 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do people think that BNW represents a dystopia? The whole point of the work is that it is in fact a utopia or as close as you can get. The reason for this is to undermine the notion that one should even want to organize a society around happiness in the first place (undermining one of the central assumptions of nearly 2500 years of western political philosophy). To this end I think Huxley succeeds brilliantly. Furthermore he raises far deeper questions of what it means to be human in ways that Orwell simply does not address. Finally the fact that many identify his depiction of the future as dystopian is a good sign that he successfully gets readers to reevaluate their own thinking about what it means to live a fulfilling life, since I think almost all of us here would agree that the world Huxley depicts is in some ways thoroughly empty of any real fulfillment or achievement.
lmm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend the BBC television play The Year of the Sex Olympics. Brave New World but tuned down to something more realistic, and astonishingly prophetic: in the 1960s, it predicts a society kept passive by media full of empty sex, and the invention of reality TV (semi-scripted, of course) to improve the process. I watched it in a group and at the end we just said "wow, it's all come true".
programmarchy 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Related, there's some very interesting connections between Huxley and MKULTRA, the CIA program that performed experiments on people with drugs (LSD) and hypnosis, among other things. So it appears that he was more than just an author, and actually a key player in pushing the Brave New World "agenda" forward.


Quoting his speech at UC Berkeley in 1962:

> If you are going to control any population for any length of time you must have some measure of consent. Its exceedingly difficult to see how pure terrorism can function indefinitely. It can function for a fairly long time, but I think sooner or later you have to bring in an element of persuasion. An element of getting people to consent to what is happening to them. Well, it seems to me that the nature of the Ultimate Revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: that we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably always will exist, to get people actually to love their servitude!

chiaro 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the central thesis of BNW, insofar as it is relevant to western societies and their possible futures, is that escapism is bad in excess.

In the information age, access to entertainment is utterly unfettered, and it's shockingly easy at times to get caught in a dopamine loop (example: Zynga, candy crush). While this is, I believe, a valid concern, I find the conspiratorial aspects a little absurd. Claims that this is orchestrated specifically to prevent the unwashed masses seizing power describe such an undertaking so as to be unfeasible. We're in this position due to very, very, rapid changes in technology that as a society, we have yet to fully adapt to and understand.

hiou 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always believed that Huxley was closer in regards to the wealthy and upper middle class of society, whereas Orwell's predictions appear to line up better with the experiences of the poor and lower middle.
dredmorbius 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Something I realized only recently regarding Brave New World and 1984: the former is a criticism of its own society, that is, Western commercialism, capitalism, entertainment, and escapism. The latter is a criticism of the other society, that is, Soviet Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist Communism.

From the point of view that criticism of your own enemy is often far easier to swallow than criticism of yourself, it isn't quite so surprising that 1984 is the more popular and better-known work.

Both are tremendously prescient.

As noted elsewhere in comments, Neil Postman, particularly Amusing Ourselves to Death, continues Huxley's critique. Postman himself is very strongly influenced by (and studied under) Marshall McLuhan. You'll also find this theme in Jason Benlevi's Too Much Magic, and other more recent works.

exelius 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting. The "final revolution" that Huxley describes could also be called "the singularity" from transhumanism. In the end, we all become subservient to "the system" through our own choice. The system need not be run by humans.

The thing is, the indoctrination of children and coordinated use of psychotropic drugs as a means of control would be morally repugnant to a human. But for a non-human ruling class, morality does not apply and the efficiency argument makes more sense.

Obviously, neither of these men could have predicted computers the way they exist today. It is now plausible to think that a malicious AI could undermine our entire system of government without us knowing. No such AI exists today, but if it did, it would have near unfettered access to communications and data globally simply based on today's technology systems. The levers for control are already in place.

Ultimately, when the machines take over, it'll probably be because we willingly hand over the keys. What happens to us after that is anyone's guess.

ivan_ah 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I looked up the names mentioned in the last paragraph and ended up on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_magnetism ,which seems to me to be the Europeans' name for chi.

Funky stuff.

vvpan 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Also, a little known fact is that 1984 is essentially a remake of a 1924 novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin "We".
scardine 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the climate in Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil is heading to a combination of both dystopias.

On one side, Chaves, Evo Morales and Lula assembled fantastic propaganda machines in order to ensure their respective parties continue in power. They claim that those countries are at war against the "imperialists".

On the other, they provide plenty of "soma" in the form of popular sport and music events and public subsidies.

arca_vorago 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This comparison comes up fairly regularly in my circles, both online and offline, and my response is usually the same. Note that Huxley says, "Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World."

This is why my response is almost always that it is Brave New World for the people, and 1984 for anyone who dares resist.

And if you doubt the veracity of Huxley's claims about hypnosis, and other mental manipulations, just refer to MKULTRA and similar programs.

Another factor that most people don't like to hear about, because it leans too far on the side of "conspiracy theory", but the reason Huxley and Orwell both were so fearful of the coming future was because they were actually insiders of the power elite that has largely guided this progression. Orwell was trained at Eton college, and was a member of the Fabian society. Huxley was less involved, but from what I understand his younger days he did talk with Bertrand Russell, but as far as I can tell he didn't really interface with the elite, so I consider his point of view more independently insightful.

Now, at the risk of going off the deep end a bit, I would like to introduce HN readers to the origins of Orwell's Fabian society: The British East India Company. Overlap this with the secret "rings within rings" will of the Rothschild backed Cecil Rhodes (the goal of which was to establish and maintain anglosaxon dominance of the west), and the picture of the elite will make more sense. It was the Rhodes and Fabians behind the round table groups, including but not limited to, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Committee of 300.

Unfortunately, I have found very few places on the internet where modern talk of this subject isn't quickly overrun with the less fact-based "conspiracy theories". I said in about 2009 to one of my British friends that this is why we are going to see an increasing attack on the internet (TPP anyone?). As the last bastion of free speech, it won't be allowed to stand unified much longer.

I'll end it on that note for now.

alecco 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why everyone is obsessed with which of the novels got it right. I think both made amazing predictions as there's no the triviality culture (Facebook and narcissism) and a fearsome Big Brother (NSA, GCHQ...).

It would be better if we focus our energy on how we can help fix that before it's too late.

billgraham 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience."
netcan 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting Huxley addresses him as Mr. Orwell (a pen name) even though they knew each other personally.
robbiep 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that Huxley refers to Orwell as Orwell instead of Mr Blair
DanielBMarkham 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, we are learning this is not an either-or proposition: it's perfectly logical that some elements of society will seek to narcoticize us while others worry about increasing our surveillance and control.

And the worst part? Both of these elements do these things because we ask them to.

javajosh 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Orwell's rulers seem to have a much more satisfying experience of ruling. I don't think it's enough to have mere control; I think "lust for power" implies a certain sadism. They want to be Trujillo[1] or Kim Jong Il[2] - someone to be respected, feared, and absolutely obeyed. The point of being Big Brother was to attain the pleasure of torturing Smith, inside and out. (It wouldn't surprise me, or anyone I think, if they killed Smith after all was said and done.)

Huxley discounts the pure pleasure of putting your boot on someone's face, of being able to raping anyone in your country at will (as Trujillo was particularly fond of doing). Intriguingly, I think it is this class of evil people that will actively prevent humanity from turning into the Brave New World cul-de-sac, since it represents a steady-state that absolutely denies the kind of sadism that they crave.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rafael_Trujillo[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Jong-il

Emacs 24.4 released
380 points by auvi  3 days ago   174 comments top 19
webkike 3 days ago 7 replies      
I've been going off like a broken record in the comment pages for these posts, since I'm such an Emacs fanatic. But I'll say it again, this release is great! Rectangular mark mode, better web browser -- Emacs hasn't stopped getting better
jpfr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Besides emacs 24.4 being an awesome release by itself, it also means esr can finally transition the development to git.

That will render the project a lot more accessible for new developers and ad-hoc bugfixing.

jmount 3 days ago 3 replies      
Building on OSX Mavericks (assuming XCode and XQuartz already around)

1) Download from http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/

   emacs-24.4.tar.gz   emacs-24.4.tar.gz.sig
2) Confirm:

   gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys A0B0F199   gpg --verify emacs-24.4.tar.gz.sig
3) Build (from INSTALL):

   cd emacs-24.4   ./configure  --with-jpeg=no --with-gif=no --with-tiff=no   make   src/emacs -Q    make install
4) run:


CDRdude 3 days ago 9 replies      
I'm a comparative youngin to most of the people here, and I've never tried emacs. I'd like to learn my way around it someday, but I don't know how high of a priority I should place on it. I've managed to pick up enough vim to make my life easier, would learning my way around emacs also get me a productivity boost? How good is evil mode?
jazzychad 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think this thread is my best shot at getting this question answered.. I've been using Emacs 23.x for the last several years because the buffer-switcher behavior changed in Emacs 24 and I have no idea how (or if it's even possible) to get the previous behavior back?

In Emacs 23 and below (for as long as I've used Emacs), I would change buffers by hitting F10-b (F10 brings up menu, b is shortcut for Buffers).

Then there is a nice little list of open buffers and the first letter of the filename is usually the shortcut to switch to that buffer.

This made it really fast to switch back and forth between multiple files (I want to go to index.html == F10-b-i ; now I want to switch back to about.html == F10-b-a), it was very simple.

Emacs 24 changed that behavior and so the quick switching between buffers based on the first letter of their filename went away.

Does anyone else know what I'm talking about? Is it possible to get the previous behavior in 24? I'm slowly finding packages that won't compile in Emacs 23 anymore b/c they depend on new Emacs 24 elisp functions. I only ever use Emacs from inside a terminal (emacs -nw), so that's why I'm navigating buffers by the F10 menu.

EDIT: Well, I may be an idiot. I just downloaded the latest 24 build and it seems to be working as before again! Not sure when this changed, but maybe this is now a non-issue. I feel a bit silly, but maybe this will help someone else?

baby 3 days ago 5 replies      
> A built-in web browser (M-x eww)

What ! Anyone has screenshots of that?

Is there a windows release somewhere?

ezequiel-garzon 3 days ago 4 replies      
In Ubuntu I'm unable to activate orgtbl-mode unless I first switch to org-mode. This didn't happen with Emacs 23. Has anybody experienced the same? How can I check if this has been reported? Thanks.

Edit: Seriously, people? You take the time to downvote and not to point in a direction to contribute to make Emacs better? So much for the attacks on Stack Overflow and its strict policies and policing... And anyway, how off topic is this comment? Peace.

craigching 3 days ago 3 replies      
If you're looking for GNU emacs on Mac OS X, this is the place I use [1]. Note that it's not there just yet, so be a bit patient. They've been doing RC builds, you can seem them here [2].

[1] -- http://emacsformacosx.com/

[2] -- http://emacsformacosx.com/builds

jsilence 3 days ago 1 reply      
For distraction free writing, M-x toggle-frame-fullscreen and (set-fringe-mode '(120 . 120)).

There used to be a bug in earlier emacs Versions requiring a Patch for proper fullscreen. Have not tried this for a while, but now it seems to work nice and smooth.

b3b0p 2 days ago 2 replies      
If one wants to start using Emacs is there a recommended starter package that is recommended over others instead of starting from scratch that can be learned from over time?

I want to start using Emacs, but starting with a blank slate leaves much to be desired. Especially when a someone new to Emacs doesn't know what's available or what can be done or how.

imakesnowflakes 3 days ago 4 replies      
Can some one tell me why windows Emacs still does not have a working shell?

One cannot easily run ssh from a shell in windows emacs. I have found that I cannot push to a bitbucket repo that uses http authentication too from the shell. But if I run them from a cmd window, these works fine.

What is the technical issue that is preventing emacs from fixing this?

1ris 3 days ago 2 replies      
OT: What happened to Guileemacs?
hrjet 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am not an Emacs user. A long time Vim user who is always on the fence; evil mode got me interested in Emacs again.

Can anyone please shed some light on the browser? Is it implemented in pure Lisp? Is it graphical? Does it support javascript?

peatmoss 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can't wait until homebrew is updated to try this out. A part of me is morbidly curious to try out the new web browser. This may be the impetus I've been needing to make the jump to GNUs for my email.
MarcScott 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just checked and it's now available to brew
paseante 3 days ago 0 replies      
dimitar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a way to get a list of mirrors that actually have it? I got tired of searching them so I downloaded it from GNU.
lstrope 3 days ago 0 replies      
EWW works well even in a terminal!
flyrain 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great job! I really like the new brower: eww, and develop a plugin for dictionary in Emacs.
My adventures in CNC robotics
375 points by zaroth  1 day ago   47 comments top 14
yan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Zalewski was the reason I felt unaccomplished in 2005, when I read his "Silence on the wire" and noted he wasn't much older than I am.

His separate guide on CNC is great[1]. He also has a great intro to electronics[2]. His first book is an amazing survey of totally passive attacks[3]. His second book is a comprehensive survey of web application osecurity[4].

[1] http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/gcnc/

[2] http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/electronics/

[3] http://www.amazon.com/dp/1593270461

[4] http://www.amazon.com/dp/1593273886/

hoprocker 1 day ago 3 replies      
I love articles like this. They display long-term focus and a patient, multi-disciplined investigation into how to complete a project (in this case, some light mechanical engineering, materials science, and machine technology). I've been planning out a project and will need to make some large-ish 3D parts out of a translucent plastic (part of a larger audiovisual installation), and until now I'd been uncertain about how to proceed. I'm shedding tears of joy reading through this brave soul's explorations into DIY resin casting.

Something that struck me about this article -- and something which I see regularly around CNC hobbyists -- isthe unfamiliarity with basic machining calculations, a problem that usually results in chipped parts and broken tools. I didn't even know about machining fundamentals like chipload/chip per tooth (CPT), inches per minute (IPM), and correct RPMs for different materials until fairly recently. Additionally, "climb" versus "conventional" milling refers to how the bearings are loaded -- you almost always want "conventional" unless you're on a nice CNC machine. Why isn't there more information crossover into the hobbyist world?

Anyways, kudos to the OP for throwing this out there, and thank you Zalewski; I'll be methodically absorbing pretty much everything linked to in this essay. :-)

mcphage 1 day ago 3 replies      
Well, it's good to know how utterly I'm pissing away my entire life. It helps to be reminded of that now and again.
felixgallo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hidden deep in this is an incredible treasure: how to do it yourself:


maguirre 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow! This blog exemplifies someone whom I wish I could be. I am an EE who is hopelessly enamored with the idea of one day becoming at least proficient in mechanical design.

I better get going. I am not getting any younger

zaroth 1 day ago 0 replies      
A veritable treasure trove! Some really beautiful craftsmanship and perseverance.

Also on the site; Dial-a-threat: http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/word/ Shannon's Ultimate Machine: http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/ultimate/

amckenna 21 hours ago 0 replies      
For any that were not aware, this is the same Zalewski that did a lot of great work around the Shellshock bug. He found 2 additional issues with the parsing function after the initially reported bug. CVE-2014-6277 and CVE-2014-6278


I don't know where he finds time to sleep.

stillsut 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Designing my first CNC, any ideas/answers would be appreciated:

[1]Looking to move XY stage with fine resolution: 5 micrometers[2]The stage will only need to support ~5grams[3] There will be optical feedback [4] speed can always be sacrificed for accuracy

- Instead of the classic steppermotor setup, I was wondering about the feasibility of servos with arbitrarily reduced gearing (let's say a stack of laser cut planetary gears).

-What are the pitfalls of this method? has anyone else done something similar?

ashish01 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What are the low cost (< $200) options for a CNC machine? Or making something from scratch in that price range.
pizu 1 day ago 0 replies      
What impressed me the most is that his work evolved slowly, over many years, with incremental improvements. Stead and forward. Well done! Impressive.
devchuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you so much for sharing this
emddudley 1 day ago 0 replies      
As if I needed another hobby.

But really, awesome page.

moconnor 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I bought a low-cost vacuum pump and constructed a makeshift degassing chamber. After the makeshift chamber imploded, I constructed a better one and started to wear eye protection, too."

A nice taste of the gentle humour waiting for you in the article!

pitt1980 20 hours ago 0 replies      
FTDI driver kills fake FTDI FT232s
340 points by stoey  1 day ago   298 comments top 41
Someone1234 1 day ago 3 replies      
Microsoft should revoke the driver's signature via their next CRL update, so that it refuses to install (effectively making the drivers unsigned). It is acting maliciously and will break consumer's hardware, even hardware which doesn't contain any FTDI chips.

If FTDI have an issue with a company ripping off their IP then go sue that company. But what they're doing is catching consumers in the firing line, who will wind up with multiple dead USB devices. There's no reasonable way a consumer can know they are buying something with a fake chip and this could kill devices years old, which will be outside of warranty.

I am totally serious that Microsoft should step in. FTDI's driver is so defective that it is literally killing hardware, if they won't step in for this then what will they step in for?

JackC 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's interesting to consider from a legal perspective exactly why this isn't something a company is allowed to do. (Assuming the company did in fact intentionally damage people's chips, reversibly or not -- sounds like we don't know for sure yet?)

- Intentionally sabotaging someone's stuff, legally, is more or less the same as intentionally taking it. Keying a car and driving it away might have different names but are on the same scale.

- There ain't no self help. If you think someone else's stuff should actually be your stuff, your path is through a court.

- We don't fix things with injunctive relief that can be fixed with money. When Apple proves that Samsung violated a patent or vice versa, we don't collect and burn all the infringing phones, we just make someone cut a check. Because we are not idiots.

- The "someone" who cuts the check is Samsung or Apple, not their customers. As far as I know no one's managed to go after end users, even in extreme cases like a $10 designer handbag where the buyer obviously knows it's not real. (And it's at best unclear whether going after the buyers would make any sense, even in those extreme cases -- if someone pays knockoff prices for a knockoff product, it's the seller and not the buyer who has ill-gotten gains. There might be some additional reputation damage and lost profits that the buyer is complicit in, but it makes a lot more sense to me -- and apparently everyone else -- to make the seller pay for those as well.)

- When you do go after the seller of trademarked goods and want to seize those goods, we actually have a procedure for that -- Section 34 of the Lanham Act.[1] Which includes a whole bunch of protections like swearing out an affidavit, getting permission from a judge, informing the attorney general, posting a bond to cover damages, conducting the seizure through government agents, and keeping the seized items in the custody of the court. It's very much unlike showing up at someone's house and breaking their stuff.

(I am a lawyer; I am not a trademark lawyer; I just googled some stuff based on vague memories from law school to write this.)

[1] http://www.bitlaw.com/source/15usc/1116.html

amckenna 1 day ago 3 replies      
If anyone is curious what a real vs fake FTDI chip looks like under the hood (de-capped chip) this is a great analysis and some beautiful pictures.



"What's the economic reason of making software fake of well-known chip instead of making new one under your own name? This way they don't need to buy USB VID, sign drivers in Microsoft, no expenses on advertisement. This fake chip will be used right away in numerous mass-manufactured products. New chip will require designing new products (or revisions) - so sales ramp up will happen only 2-3 years later. Die manufacturing cost is roughly the same for both dies (~10-15 cents)."

0x0 1 day ago 4 replies      
I hope this causes a major and publicly visible malfunction in some important device/installation/machinery, of course with no harm done to any persons, but enough of an embarrasment to really set an example, so no vendor will think of pulling tricks like these in the future.

Takeaway lesson: End users should never touch anything remotely FTDI-like, since it's probably impossible to verify if the device is genuine or not. Wonder if FTDI thought this through.

duncan_bayne 1 day ago 3 replies      
I tried reporting this to Microsoft; their handling of calls to report security vulnerabilities was just horrendous.



I've been advised to email this address by 'XXXX' at Microsoft Support.

FTDI is shipping a malware driver for Windows; if it detects what it thinks is a counterfeit device plugged in by USB, it bricks it. Details here:


I've also attempted to report this by phone as suggested by XXXX. I've never experienced such difficulty trying to report a security issue; I'd have expected that you'd have processes in place, but apparently not.

My first attempt was met by a CSR who informed me that he knew of no protocol for reporting security issues, and that he couldn't help me because it wasn't directly effecting my computer. He then hung up on me when I asked to speak to a supervisor.

Second call got me a much more helpful chap, who after conferring with a supervisor, transferred me to professional services. The person I spoke with there said they also didn't have any security reporting protocol, or if they did, he didn't know about it. When I said the issue could effect thousands of devices, he transferred me through to 'corporate'.

I ended up going through an IVR system to an operator, who was no help whatsoever. She was entirely the wrong person to speak to; she was also completely ignorant of any security reporting process, and didn't know who to transfer me to.

Could you please call me on +61 XXX XXX XXX to acknowledge receipt of this report, and to discuss it? Thanks.


bri3d 1 day ago 3 replies      
FTDI have been anti-consumer for years - their last several drivers have introduced intentional instability and Code 10 errors for suspected counterfeit devices.

I think this is totally crappy. I see what they're trying to do (create market incentive for consumers to insist on real FTDI chips) but the reality is that it's just screwing over innocent consumers who buy a device.

SunboX 1 day ago 4 replies      
swamp40 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think FTDI might be shooting themselves in the foot here.

Plugging in a USB is messy, and you will sometimes get an "Unrecognized Device" error, which you simply fix by unplugging and replugging.

I could see a similar hiccup causing their driver to sometimes "brick" a legitimate device.

Then this false positive ripples back to a manufacturer who bought 50,000 of those chips on the last run, and thinks they might all be fake...

It turns everything into a huge mess.

Very poor management decision, and shame on the engineers for implementing it.

tdicola 1 day ago 3 replies      
Ouch, something tells me the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc. forums are going to be full of people that are confused why they can't talk to their device anymore. IMHO it's pretty bad to target the consumers who probably don't even know or care that there's an FTDI chip in their device. Certainly am not condoning piracy of the chips, but wonder if there's a better way of handling the situation than breaking everyone.
dogecoinbase 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hackaday has a good short summary of the situation: http://hackaday.com/2014/10/22/watch-that-windows-update-ftd...
noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
Absolutely everything with an FTDI logo on it in the wild is now suspect.

They didn't preserve their brand with this action, they just destroyed it.

chrissnell 1 day ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the Sony music CDs that came with a rootkit to prevent theft of their IP:


There were lawsuits and Sony ended up having to distribute a removal tool.

Aissen 1 day ago 0 replies      
So how does this work ? Hector Martin gives us a glimpse:

Commented reverse engineering assembly: https://twitter.com/marcan42/status/525126731431038977

So they are rewriting the USB Product ID in EEPROM, only on "fake" chips, hence the Windows USB driver doesn't recognize the device anymore. It should be reprogrammable using the right tools. (https://twitter.com/marcan42/status/525134266112303104)

What allows them to do things differently on different chips: "Figured out the real/clone FTDI difference: EEPROM is written in 32bit units. Even writes are ignored (buffered), odds write both halves." https://twitter.com/marcan42/status/525194603746426881

And some wisdom:

"For those unfamiliar with embedded engineering: most USB (and other) devices can be bricked if maliciously attacked.""Assume ALL devices are brickable by evil code unless proven otherwise. This isn't news. Most devices make no attempt to protect themselves."(https://twitter.com/marcan42/status/525137221431463937 https://twitter.com/marcan42/status/525137463107272704)

duncan_bayne 1 day ago 0 replies      
FTDIs own website says their chips are used on medical devices:


Let's hope that all the manufacturers are 100% certain of their supply chains, from top to bottom. And that there are no bugs in the driver that might cause inadvertent bricking.

Way to go, FTDI.

beagle3 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does this qualify as a CFAA violation? I think so and for monetary gain, no less. I would like to hear why wouldn't the DA that leaned so hard on Swartz wouldn't do the same FTDI's CEO.
cnvogel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's someone claiming to have found the responsible function in a driver.

PLEASE NOTE: ALL NAMES HAVE BEEN CHOSEN FREELY BY THE PERSON WHO MADE THE SCREENSHOT! So there's no name "BrickCLoneDevices()", it's probably called UpdateEEPromChksum or something like that in the original code, because it looks like that's what it does.


Assuming that this disassembly/decompiled code indeed is genuine, the interesting thing is explained in the 2nd comment block: A genuine FTDI device seems to be designed such that a write only to the offset that stores the PID is ignored, hence for a genuine part this code will only update the word at offset 62, and that would be matching the functionality to just update the eeprom checksum.

For comparison, here's a random mainling-list post which includes a dump of the 232 eeprom. The VID/PID is stored at word 1 and 2 of the eeprom, something that could be a checksum is down at the word with offset 0x7f (word 0x3f = 63? There's probably a off-by-one here).


imrehg 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm designing an Arduino-compatible board[1] that supposed to have an FTDI chip for ease of design. This whole thing makes me reconsider it, what would be the best way to replace it some other solution? Do I have any real option if I want to stay within the Open Parts Library[2]?

[1]: https://www.hwtrek.com/product_preview/VTZUZV9k[2]: http://www.seeedstudio.com/wiki/Open_parts_library

dmitrygr 1 day ago 3 replies      
IF this is on purpose and can be proven so, it is most definitely illegal!
orik 1 day ago 0 replies      
Me and my buddy were going to work on a couple of projects last weekend and got bit by this.

The workaround once your chip has been flashed by the new driver is modifying the driver to communicate with devices that have a PID of 0.

Zizzle 1 day ago 2 replies      
I foresee an arms race here.

Next gen FTDI clones will work around this driver detection.Next FTDI driver has new detection code.

Iterate until the counterfeit chips are indistinguishable from the real thing via software.

igmac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a company about to loose very badly in court, and who will shortly have to write out an apology on their cheque book.

Intentionally sabotaging customer equipment will lead to all sorts of data loss and consequential damages issues.

As @Someone1234 said below, FTDI needs to pursue legitimate channels to protect their IP.


Time for the CEO to reach for that third envelope and write to his successor.

jjoonathan 1 day ago 5 replies      
Does anyone know of good FTDI alternatives? Are there any clone makers that are relatively legit (i.e. they put their actual brand name on the chip, they support drivers, etc)? At $4.50 a pop for bog-standard bit-banging in a day and age where you can get ARM M4 SoCs for $2.75 a pop (n=1 prices) I would think FTDI would have more above-the-table competition than they do.

Is the subterfuge required for illegitimate cloning really that much easier than getting a website, writing docs, and supporting drivers?!

qnaal 1 day ago 0 replies      
The real world is a lot like cyberpunk except instead of exciting it's frustrating.
cschneid 1 day ago 2 replies      
Can somebody give me the background here? What is a FTDI FT232s?

It appears to be a fairly low level USB controller chip? Is this chip (or its ilk) in every kind of usb device? What is the impact of this?

Most of this article dives in with a fair bit of preexisting knowledge - can somebody fill me in?

smilekzs 1 day ago 2 replies      
FT232 isn't very stable to begin with. CP210x is a much better alternative from my experience with FT232, PL2303 and CP210x.
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting situation. Given that "drivers" for USB serial ports are now boiler plate, why not just have some Chinese company buy the USB VID code from the USB Consortium and then agree that everyone will make chips that export that?
voltagex_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
If anyone's still reading - here's annotated disassembly: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B0mf-pmCIAAoPxS.png:large
JasuM 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if anti-virus and anti-malware companies will add this to their black lists.
JasuM 1 day ago 0 replies      
mmagin 1 day ago 1 reply      
As mentioned, Prolific's USB serial driver previously dropped support for counterfeit some Prolific chips, albeit not in quite as nasty of a way.
swimfar 1 day ago 1 reply      
How is this much different from what is done with other counterfeit goods[1-4]? Is it because they aren't going through legal channels to do it? But these all are counterfeit, so the end result is the same, right? When counterfeit goods are found, they are seized and destroyed. I can see people getting upset about this, but I'm surprised at the unanimous response to it.

[1]Car bodies: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/mercedes-and-daimler-cr...

[2]Guitars: http://thehub.musiciansfriend.com/bits/feds-seize-over-185-c...

[3]Carrying bags: http://www.hamm.eu/en/aktuelles-und-presse/news/2009/2009-04...

[4]Clothing: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/nyregion/trademark-trumps-...

fn42 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the heads up, this will probably affect us car nerds too (I'm sure my cheapo KWP2000 cable has a fake FT232)
andmarios 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is one of the many reasons to use Linux and free software on your desktop. :)
mey 1 day ago 1 reply      
I haven't gotten into the DIY/Hacker/Arduino stuff but it seems like there would also be plenty of consumer devices that may be impacted that don't have correct supply chain control (or care about the source of their chips).

I wonder if Windows will pull the driver.

swamp40 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are getting pummeled on Twitter now, as well.

My guess is an 8am meeting in Glasgow (about 8.5 hours from now), followed by an apology and an updated driver announcement at 10am.

Aissen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Finally ! Someone made a proper Linux to guarantee genuine FTDI products:


jhallenworld 1 day ago 1 reply      
The real problem here is that USB does not define a standard interface for an RS-232 adapter. Proprietary drivers should never have been required for these. Same deal for Centronics printer adapters.
stuaxo 1 day ago 0 replies      
People should be complaining to microsoft to get these malicious drivers blocked and older non-malicious ones reinstated.
cgtyoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
So what are the actual products that are getting bricked? Curious about the end result of all this.
dammitcoetzee 1 day ago 0 replies      
FTDI Makes fantastic chips though.
rasz_pl 1 day ago 1 reply      
Those devices are NOT bricked/broken! They are ABSOLUTELY FINE. You just need to use proper driver straight from the _real_ manufacturer - Supereal Microelectronics (or whatever).

Feel free to ask "Suzhou Supereal Microelectronics" for a working driver for your counterfeit device.

Old Masters: After 80, some people dont retire. They reign
350 points by wallflower  15 hours ago   79 comments top 25
GuiA 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I am currently reading "Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity" [0].

The author starts with the observation that in the world of fine art, it seems that the artists who encountered great success are divided into 2 broad groups: the ones who had a clear vision (often groundbreaking) of what they wanted to accomplish, did it while they were young, peaking early (Young Geniuses); and the ones whose approach was more iterative, built upon theory and learning, who never stopped improving over their lifetime, and whose vision was established over decades (Old Masters).

To support this thesis, he looks at concrete data: for example, for the artists whose paintings sold for the most money, at what age did they paint the works which would later sell for the most? Or, to use an alternative method of approximating "success" - for the works that are most often included in art textbooks, at what age were they painted by their authors? [1] He goes over several measures of "success" in this way, and the data maps pretty well with the commonly accepted wisdom for each artist (e.g. Picasso peaked early, and his later works are nowhere as remembered as his earlier stuff, while Czanne took a lifetime to build his approach and vision).

He then looks into what those artists had to say about their processes, and how that relates to those findings; and he then explores this thesis beyond just the world of fine art.

It's a fairly dense read - especially if, like me, you have very little knowledge of fine art (in which case I recommend looking up the works as you read the book, even if it doubles your reading time) - but it's extremely enlightening. Highly recommended.

[0] http://www.amazon.com/Old-Masters-Young-Geniuses-Creativity/...

[1] http://i.imgur.com/YmexHi8.jpg

thebear 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I liked Woody Allen's answer to the question why he was still working in his late seventies:

You know in a mental institution they sometimes give a person some clay or some basket weaving? Its the therapy of moviemaking that has been good in my life. If you dont work, its unhealthyfor me, particularly unhealthy. I could sit here suffering from morbid introspection, ruing my mortality, being anxious. But its very therapeutic to get up and think, Can I get this actor; does my third act work? All these solvable problems that are delightful puzzles, as opposed to the great puzzles of life that are unsolvable, or that have very bad solutions. So I get pleasure from doing this. Its my version of basket weaving.

jeffreyrogers 15 hours ago 4 replies      
The author of this article, Lewis Lapham [1], is himself quite accomplished at 79, and founded the magazine, Lapham's Quarterly [2], which might appeal to some HN readers.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_H._Lapham

[2]: http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/

leoc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What, no props to our main man here? http://cs.stanford.edu/~uno/ http://laughingsquid.com/jacob-appelbaum-donald-knuth-demons... All right, he isn't quite 80 yet, but looking good so far...
diego_moita 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died working, at the age of 104 years. 2 years before his death he was visited by a Brazilian journalist, for an interview. After he knew the journalist was in his late 50s he commented:

"Oh, so young! You got your whole life in front of you!"

chriskanan 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The article is missing Ephraim Engleman, who is still a practicing medical doctor and researcher at 103 at UCSF Medical Center: http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/Dr-Ephraim-Engle...

If you are doing what you love or work that is important, why retire?

lateguy 1 hour ago 1 reply      
One Great example for above will be Jiri One:A Japanese Master chef for shushi, I would say if there is only one documentary you will see this month. Let it be this one:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiro_Dreams_of_Sushi
nostromo 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I found this study to be interesting, regarding retirement age.


> For males, we find that a reduction in the effective retirement age causes a significant increasein the risk of premature death

> We do not find that earlier effective retirementincreases the risk of premature death for females, however

gadders 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
I feel sorry for the 80 year old manual workers. I would expect it's harder for them...
carlisle_ 15 hours ago 2 replies      
>Im guessing there is no point to asking when you plan on retiring?

>Im going to retire in a box being carried out of my office.


MattGrommes 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the story Merlin Mann tells about the butcher who when asked what trick he uses to know that he picked up exactly a pound of meat responds "Be a butcher for 20 years".
kayoone 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't fool yourself, these people are amazing, but hey are outliers. While i understand that many people here aspire to be like this and you should, realistically speaking these people have been very lucky.Most people 80+ either have trouble walking, hearing, seeing, thinking (or any combination combined). It's longer than the average lifespan, so that these people can still do their work in a meaningful way is a godsend.Sure, you can do a lot with a healthy lifestyle, but still there are limits to your genes, or life could take unexpected turns every second.My uncle, 62 years old, CEO of a bank, who was always healthy and fit just had a stroke and is now wheelchair bound and does not know which year it is. Meanwhile, his brother (my dad), has been smoking his whole life and not exercised for decades but is still fine. he probably won't get to 80 though, and he knows that.
csbrooks 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved the article.

One note: not all retirement is necessarily sitting in front of the tv waiting to die. My grandfather is 81, and he and his wife are very active RVers. They travel around the country, hike, go four wheeling in their jeep. He seems about as happy as the people in the article.

japhyr 8 hours ago 1 reply      
One of my heroes is Fred Beckey. He's a lifelong climber, and is still climbing into his 90's.



boblozano 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Dr. Jerry Cox is 89, leads his latest startup[1], remains a sr. cs professor @WashU[2], sold a company he co-founded (Growth Networks) for >$355M to Cisco in 2000, and is generally smart and inspiring. Also sat for a formal oral history focused on his contributions to biomedical computing[3].

[1] http://blendics.com/team/

[2] http://cse.wustl.edu/PEOPLE/Pages/cox.aspx

[3] http://beckerexhibits.wustl.edu/oral/transcripts/cox.html

thrownaway2424 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought Robert Caro would belong on this list. He amazes me, having written over the course of five decades two seminal books, both of which earned Pulitzer prizes. But he's "only" 79.


pyrrhotech 13 hours ago 0 replies      

Irving Kahn, still working on Wall Street at 108--and finding stocks to buy for the long run

sireat 4 hours ago 4 replies      
If you have been doing something all your life and you enjoy doing it why stop?

However, the question I have been struggling with lately has been: how do you pick up something new later on in life?

If you start to learn basket-weaving at 40, you are not going to be a great basket-weaver.

If you start programming at 40, you are not going to become Bill Joy or Fabrice Bellard, sorry. (counterexamples in any field welcome)

Your 10k hours count for much less at 40 than at 15. That guy(Danplan) who started golfing to become a Pro at 28 is slowly starting to find that out despite his progress.

So you have to pick your fights very carefully, if you are a chess master you can probably become a decent shogi or go player and vice versa.

If you have a solid foundation in math, you can probably do decent physics work at 40.

However, and this is what worries me, if your art in grade 5 was dismal, are you going to be able to get decent at 40?

That one lady in article sold her first painting at 89, but the question is whether she took up painting late in life or was that just a lucky fluke. (selling != enjoying painting)

rfrey 12 hours ago 0 replies      
My favourite examples are two woodworkers who I admire greatly, Sam Maloof and James Krenov. Maloof was still making his rockers at 94, maybe a bit slower but not much.

Krenov sadly lost much of his eyesight in his late 80s so stopped making cabinets. But he continued to make planes, because he could make them by feel.

dag11 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Betty White's responses are fantastic. Her humor really shines through!
nobody_nowhere 14 hours ago 0 replies      
"I just love to work" - Betty White.

Love this article. Be realistic. Recognize patterns. Love what do you do. Inspiring.

IvyMike 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I know we have skepticism over the 10k hours of practice theory, but I still kinda like it, at least in broad strokes.

And if there's going to be another "10x" level, these are probably them. 100k hours of effortful practice, at 2500 hours per year = 40 years. Crazy.

bttf 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm surprised no one has considered how older aged workers fit in the software engineering industry. From my experience it seems like the older you get, the less viable you are.
Sprezzaturian 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I am 42 and I am retired - and loving it. It means I have all the time in the world for doing things I really like, instead of staring at stock market charts all day long.


ExpiredLink 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Unfortunately, writing programs isn't an occupation for old people.

EDIT: To be more precise, I cannot image that I will write a program after my retirement. To me, writing ephemeral programs is the opposite of the artful activities described in the article.

Career planning: Where do old devs go to?
334 points by matthewwarren  4 days ago   315 comments top 57
edw519 4 days ago 11 replies      
59, programming for 42 years, the last 35 professionally. Here on HN for 7.5 years.

I've always been very busy (one of the main reasons I don't post on HN as much any more). I don't have a resume. I'm not on LinkedIn. If I ever ran low on work, it would probably take me a day or two and a few phone calls to find something.

I don't work on anything unless I find it incredibly compelling. I write applications. I've seen tons of different technologies, many old ones I still use. But I also get very jazzed learning new stuff and incorporating it into my toolbox.

I know tons of programmers in my age group. I'd classify them into 2 groups:

25% - just like me. You don't see our resumes because we're very happy building cool stuff and rarely look for work. We've also seen it all and can smell something we're not interested in a mile away. You don't see us at many events because we're so busy with work and life, we only pick the ones with the most promise of bang for the buck. Most of the programmers I know in this group would make phenomenal additions to many startups, but don't recognize this as a compelling alternative to what they're already doing. The best way to engage us is to seek us out, make friends, and share some stories about something cool you're working on.

75% - one year's experience 30 times, not 30 years experience. Unaware of modern technology. Couldn't write Hello World in anything other than BASIC, FORTRAN, or COBOL (and would probably misspell 50% of the words). No imagination. Limited ability to visualize the possibilities. Hiding under the radar in some enterprise. You don't want these people.

bane 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is true in any field: your employment picture looks very different at 40 than it does at 20. Lots of the reasons why are more due to real-life (TM) than the job market. At 20, you don't really mind renting a spare bedroom in the basement of somebody's house and working 100+ weeks trying to build the latest whatever non-world transforming consumer web thing. You have all the time in the world and no obligations beyond growing your career. You're living to work at this point.

At 40+ you probably have a couple kids, a mortgage, a spouse, education loans, car payments, family vacations, pets, children's activities, children's pets, your own personal activities, cocktail parties, maybe saving up for your kids' college educations, whatever. Unless you've found yourself without these kinds of obligations, your job will end up being defined as something that can fit a work to live scenario. This is very hard to do in the previously described scenario.

So what's left? Some startups will let you do the 9-5/5 40 hour work week, but the reality is that big boring mega corps, building boring B2B insurance/inventory/timecard processing/bleh software is where you're likely to find the kinds of jobs that fit your new "adult" lifestyle. And you know what? You won't really care all that much.

If you do care, and you're tired of figuring out the access permissions for this role as part of that use-case for the umpteenth million time, you can career shift into management and start learning about the business you were supporting as a developer. You might want to end up managing other developers, being a "nerd herder", which presents an whole new set of fantastically non-deterministic challenges. You might move into product or program management, and be responsible for overseeing execution of contracts or high-level delivery of vague CEO initiatives, an entirely different challenge.

You may even want to take the plunge and shift into sales, starting as a sales engineer, but developing your own clients and moving into a full-service sales and solutions provider role...which you might later turn into a business consulting company later. Your hours might be more flexible and your pay can be unlimited in this kind of role.

Lots of startups make a big deal about the "full-stack" developer, you can do front and back-end systems with equal finesse. But a "full-business" developer, who understands the entire business from sales-cycle to post-delivery product-support can be extraordinarily powerful and I guarantee that job can be very interesting. The tech can be boring, but the kind of critical thinking and task breakdown skills you might bring with you from development can be really useful elsewhere in the business world.

You might even learn enough about some segment of the "business stack" that you realize you can launch your own startup targeting software to solve some problem you saw when you were operating in that portion of the business.

exelius 4 days ago 6 replies      
That's because programming is an entry level job. No, I'm not trolling: I'm quite serious about that.

Engineering has almost always been an entry level job; computers or not. You start as an engineer; and as you get better, the number of engineering management jobs is pretty limited, so there's nowhere to go for the vast majority of people. But you get pulled into enough internal projects you start to develop a bit of business sense, so many people will often go from engineering up into the business (it doesn't hurt that many engineers are smart with a solid foundation in applied mathematics).

This isn't just the case with development. My father in law started out as a structural engineer. By the time he was 10-15 years into his career, he was managing large construction projects. 30 years in he was running a big portion of the company.

I saw the game for what it was early and got out of engineering before I hit 30. It's a treadmill of skill development where having over 10 years of experience doesn't benefit you, since the technology du jour changes every decade anyway. I still enjoy hacking and coding - but I do it as a hobby.

unoti 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm 46, I programmed a computer for the first time when I was 10, back when Pong was starting to wane and the Atari 2600 was starting to get big. I've been programming continuously since then for 36 years. It's been challenging me to stay with it that long, and most people I've known have dropped out for these reasons:

1.) Developers get comfortable with a given technology, and eventually stop learning. And the longer this goes on, the more exceedingly difficult it is to leave that comfort zone, because it makes you feel dumb and slow. When I first got into the industry, there were lots of folks doing things like IBM mainframe assembly and RPG/3 and COBOL. They'd tell me that that was where the real money was, and there was no need to learn new skills. After all, those systems weren't going anywhere, and they were bringing in fat checks. In fact, the more obscure the technology, the more money they make.

This particular trap of sticking with a technology is an insidious one that I almost fell into myself. In my early 30's, after working at the same place for about 10 years, I started coming to the conclusion that I was the best developer that I knew. I could do stuff in a weekend that other teams of people would fumble over for months. I was unstoppable. Then I changed jobs a couple times, and started doing game development, and started getting worried that I was actually not nearly as smart as I thought, and that I was losing my edge. But the real truth is simply that when you do the same kinds of jobs with the same technologies for many years, you get real good at doing those things. You find a comfort zone. And leaving that comfort zone feels wrong, stupid, and even counter-productive.

2.) It becomes tempting to switch to management. Over my career I've worked for innumerable managers who used to be developers in whatever technology was used 5 or 10 years ago, but now they do management. Often, they don't even realize how out of date their grasp on technology is. It's easy to fall into the trap of moving into management, because it's typically the only path to any kind of career development or upward mobility. I've gone into management myself for a few years, but then realized that if I want to be a good developer as my top priority, then I need to spend my time focusing on being the best at that, which can mean making some sacrifices. Once you move into management, you're done unless you keep your skills current.

3.) Developers need to continuously retrain themselves. This one kills most developers dead. You have to train yourself. The means not expecting your employer to do it for you or pay you to do it. Every 5-7 years over the last few decades I've totally changed my technology platform many times, and every time it was because I had spent the last year or so getting ready. I'm talking about spending a significant amount of time working with and understanding technologies other than the one you're using right now, say about 200 hours per year at least. I haven't read the responses on this forum yet, but I guarantee you will see a pattern of developers feeling like they don't need to work hard to retrain themselves. Saying things like, "programming is my job, it doesn't have to be my hobby as well." This is a fine attitude, as long as you aren't planning to be a developer for more than 5-10 years.

If you're in software development for the long haul, more than 5-10 years, then you have to be continuously training. If you're not absolutely serious about staying on top of new technology, then your skills will be obsolete and niche within 5-10 years.

ThomaszKrueger 4 days ago 7 replies      
I'm 53 with an EE degree, went to programming because it so happened that there was a telecommunications research center close by the school. And programming looked cooler and easier than EE.

I compare programming to writing, more than engineering. There is no engineering in programming. No matter how many "methodologies" are created, writing good programs and good systems is akin to writing a good story or a good book. It takes practice, it takes courage to remove instead of adding, to make it as simple as possible. The best programmers are Hemingways to me. Terse, to the point. It just works. It looks beautiful.

In the same vein, a writer doesn't usually become a manager. He keeps on writing, until old age, until forever. That's what we do, what we like to do. Sometimes one becomes a manager due to money pressures - after all who's going to pay a programmer the same as a GM or VP. But people like myself secretly or not see themselves programming until the bitter end.

hga 4 days ago 4 replies      
Falsification: around and after age 35 I found it increasingly difficult to find work, until I got a clue and scrubbed my resume of all evidence of exactly how old I was (removed education dates; I'd already been trimming older jobs due to length and lack of relevance). Did that in the midst of one job search and the difference was like night and day.

BIG caveat: my family and I look a lot younger than we are, with no effort at all besides clothing and wearing a backpack I could pass as a 20 something college student through my early '50s. I also had to be careful in talking about my background, in one memorable 2003 interview I let slip that I'd worked on PDP-11s and the technical interviewer who was probably around my age exclaimed "Just how old are you??!?!??!!!"

Which wasn't intentionally an illegal question, just that the mental model he'd been building of me suddenly went TILT. I did get that job, software archaeology where experience made a difference.

randlet 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm only 34 but already I'm finding most developer job ads target much younger developers who like to work hard and play hard. At some point Beer Fridays, foosball and video games stop being appealing "perks" and actually become a disincentive ("I don't want to work where everyone is 15 years younger than me and plays foosball all day!"). So if you're advertising jobs in this fashion you're self selecting for younger devs.

Older devs will just rely on previous connections to find new work or stay in positions that pay well and come with lots of vacation (as/more important than pay to me).

TacticalCoder 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't remember which talk it was but there was a talk where it was explained that the reason why our trade seems to be dominated by young devs is that it actually is: the number of software developers is doubling every x years and when you have such a fast growth it is simply not possible to not have many young programmers.

I think it was a talk by Uncle Bob where he talked about how many devs there were worldwide when he started programming, how many there were in the early nineties and how many there are today.

The question "Where do old devs go to?" can still be asked (and Ed answered that question) but I think the answer doesn't matter much with regards to the average age of devs during interviews.

A company is going to be interviewing way more younger devs than older ones simply because of the age distribution of devs.

Even if every single (old) dev was still developing software, there would still be very few old devs compared to younger ones. That's why the graph in TFA is shaped like that.

I may be totally mistaken here but that's how I understood that part of the talk and I think it makes sense.

binarymax 4 days ago 2 replies      
I just turned 36, and I am in a contemplative self battle with this very question for my own career. As far as internal career development goes for my current employment, I have "succeeded". I have had a slew of successful projects and have been slowly but surely moving up the chain. It's difficult because in a large firm (20k global employees), moving up means coding less and attending more meetings. This is starting to drive me mad. I know that I can only go so far as an engineer in a large firm, but I don't want to just coalesce into the larger bloat that churns out hours and hours of meetings and powerpoint. On this path, in 5 years, I will be a director of some department and my distance from the code will be far. One way I am coping is by continuing this management ascension and writing code on the side - but when I have kids in the next couple years I probably wont have much time for that. It is a difficult decision to be sure.
alistairSH 4 days ago 2 replies      
37 years old, studied computer science at university, and have worked in the software industry since graduation. Currently at a mid-size/large, multinational software company.

We have a large number of developers with 20+ years experience. You aren't seeing their resumes because they're here and don't have a reason to leave.

I've been here 12 years now, and if you can't match the 25 days vacation, 10 sick, 12 holidays, plus bump my salary 10% or more, I won't even call you back.

Edit - I'll also note that I'm a project manager by title. I don't have personnel responsibility, so I still get to spend a lot of time on technical issues (and even some coding).

dijit 4 days ago 0 replies      
This concept isn't strange at all, you're simply making the mistake of thinking that the pool of developers shrinks when it gets old, when the opposite is true.

"new" programmers, the ruby devs, the python aficionados and the PHP gods are becoming increasingly common.. we're at a golden age where it seems a large percentage of our generation is doing some kind of dev work- larger than any proportion of people in history.

it shouldn't be surprising that people with 20 years experience aren't common because not many people comparatively were vested in the industry 20 years ago.

MCRed 4 days ago 2 replies      
Either you become CTO or you stay a Senior Software Developer forever.

I have noticed a lot of age discrimination the "bay area startup scene". Not so much outside the bay area.

I do wonder how long it is until someone gets sued for age discrimination when the way they knew the person's age was a video call.

I see a lot of startups (including some YC ones) wanting to do a video call with a recruiter before even sending your resume to a hiring manager.

I'm used to recruiters wasting my time, they need to feel important. I'm used to being excluded for stupid reasons, like: [I describe how I wrote code that generated SQL that was used to query an Oracle backend] "which version of oracle" [some minor release] "oh, I'm sorry, they're looking for oracle [next minor release] experience".

My impression is that front line HR people look for an excuse to screen people out... makes them feel important.

And now age is a way they can do that. How are video calls an acceptable requirement?

"He just wasn't a cultural fit. I mean, like I totally saw grey in his hair".

segmondy 4 days ago 1 reply      
They don't GO anywhere, they STAY wherever they are. Older folks tend to have more responsibilities, family, kids, retirement to worry about etc. They are less risk prone, they understand that office politics comes with it and the next job will still have politics and might be worse, so they stay put. At all companies I've worked for, I've noticed that the young folks are quick to go look for a new job after a year or two, they want new exciting things. Of course people claim that it's because they can get a raise faster if they leave, but it's more than that, some of these older folks are in need of a raise too, but they don't leave or have any plans of leaving, they are not even looking.
mncolinlee 4 days ago 0 replies      
35 here with over ten years work experience.

I've actually been programming since I was six. When I graduated, I was programming in Perl. Today, I'm an Android engineer because I jumped ship to a startup and built up experience then left for a place that pays their workers.

I believe a lot of older developers struggle with redefining themselves as they get older. It's not so much "you can't teach an old dog new tricks," but rather complacency about the job market and dumb attitudes. If you've been doing well in one area for a long time, it can be difficult to make the transition to a current technology. HR doesn't usually think developers can learn new programming languages even if we do it every day. For example, I had to strip Fortran from my resume just so recruiters would stop assuming stupid things.

Then there are many who leave the profession, become consultants, or shift to management.

mmcconnell1618 4 days ago 1 reply      
In most of the organizations I've worked for you reach a salary cap as an engineer. The only way to make more is to become a manager where you get paid more simply because you're part of the group deciding how much people get paid. The other career path I've seen is the architect route where a skilled developer no longer codes but instead spends their time helping others design good software.
krschultz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Bob Martin gave a talk in NYC a few months ago, and addressed this point. His theory is that the software profession is doubling in size every few years, and therefore more than half of all software engineers have less than a few years of experience. Attrition out of the field isn't as important. He did a far better job describing the idea, but it was fairly compelling. Maybe I just want to believe that it is true, but it makes sense to me.

I do agree that there is a lack of a long term non-management career arc. I worked at a large mechanical engineering company and the titles were Engineer, Senior Engineer, Engineering Specialist, Principal Engineer, Staff Engineer. Once you made it to Senior engineer you could split off in a management track that went Supervisor, Manager, VP. It worked out fairly well, because the higher level engineers (Principal, and certainly Staff), made well more than the early management track. Going into management was not the only way to get a raise. Obviously this made the engineers better, but it also made management better, because it seems there are a lot of reluctant managers out there that just want to get paid more.

edit: I found a blog post by Bob Martin that describes this in writing: http://blog.cleancoder.com/uncle-bob/2014/06/20/MyLawn.html

drivingmenuts 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm 47 and in one of those weird spaces where I cannot find a job I'm happy with and I sure as hell do not want to wind up managing anything other than code. Years of contracting and not networking are starting to bite me in the ass, so I have to do the resume shuffle every time I look for more work. Keeping up with the latest tech is difficult when the paying work doesn't use it and all I have time for is toy projects that don't translate to real projects on the resume.

There's only about 18 hours in the day where I can write software and some of those are consumed by lunch and dinner.

TeeWEE 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think there are two explanations.

1) One explanation is that, often unexperienced people start doing programming, start looking for a job, but after 1 or 2 years, they just know its not their cup of thee.

Lots of people try learning programming themselves. And while it may work out ofr a lot of them. I think there is also a huge dropoff.

During my computerscience study at university there was almost 50% dropoff after 2 years. Only the die-hards survive.

2) A lot more people are learning to program these days. 10 years ago, there were a lot less people doing programming. That's why you are seeing the curve.

wikwocket 4 days ago 0 replies      
This topic came up as an "Ask HN" 7 months ago, and there was a great discussion about it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7372997
codeulike 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yeah a big mystery in our relatively young industry: what happens to old programmers? Do we all _have_ to become managers? Management is so much less fun.

Once or twice I have met programmers in their 60s who remember the days of punched cards etc. That's really exciting. Generally there's not many of those guys and now they are tucked away in major corps or government systems.

mcguire 3 days ago 0 replies      
It'd be fun to ponder all the deeper causes and consequences, but for some reason I simply find myself agreeing with Poul-Henning Kamp:

"So asking where we are is the wrong question.

"You should be asking what it would take for us to become fired up about your company?

"For one thing, you'd have to be within commuting distance, because we're not going to uproot our family and ditch our real-estate investments for some random job anymore, in particular not now that the lawn and roses are finally starting to look nice.

"Telecommuting is fine, but it wouldn't be the same for your company, would it ? You wouldn't have a genuine graybeard to berate and lecture all the young ones around the office.

"And I doubt you can muster at set of 'benefits' which can motivate us, what we'd probably like most of all would be to work fewer hours not more."

(Agreeing with Poul-Henning Kemp? God help me!)

Another commenter pointed to a post by Robert Martin[1], with the following quote:

"...what caught my attention was the shape of the age distribution in the first graph. If this graph is correct, then most programmers are under 28. Most programmers have less than 6 years experience!"

Which seems entirely true to me. Unfortunately, I'm significantly less optimistic than Uncle Bob:

"One seasoned programmer in their 40s can have a profound effect on a team of a dozen or so twenty-somethings. As a leader, that programmer can teach the team about principles, patterns, practices, and ethics...."

Mostly because it seems impossible to lead those 20-something programmers. Most of them seem to have a project or two behind them (mostly unsuccessful, but that hardly matters) and they know everything. As a result, it's not so much a question of leadership than one of beating them into submission every time a new question comes up.

To quote me:

"Ok, X works, we've done X successfully for a while, several people around here are familiar with X. Let's use X."

"Sure, we'll look at X'," quoth they.

Then, "X' is too hard; we can't get it to work," when they come back.

"So, X?"

"No, Y is the new hotness, let's use Y."

[1] http://blog.cleancoder.com/uncle-bob/2014/06/20/MyLawn.html

llasram 4 days ago 0 replies      
"In fact, looking at the salary tables, there actually isnt a level of higher than 5 years."

That seems like it explains the OP's experience right there. Why would honestly senior devs even consider jobs well below their salary range? My shop is almost entirely very senior people with 10-20 years experience, but we pay accordingly.

kfcm 2 days ago 0 replies      
From 1990 until 2006, almost every one of my colleagues/co-workers (dev, infrastructure, management) was at least 10-15 years older than me. Some were my age. Rarely was anyone younger.

When I emerged from a deep stint with a company (2000-06), the age distribution had shifted dramatically to people in their 20s. Not only were many of the old timers gone, I was finding myself to be the old timer.

What had happened to all my old timers? Many didn't survive the dot-com bust or recession of 01-02. They either outright retired or moved to different careers; some survived, but moved on anyway. Some had died.

Those that remained in technology went three different routes. Management, consulting, found a place in a company they like and haven't budged.

Personally, I started my own consulting business which I enjoy. Although nearing 50, I do feel some envy for the guys who've found a nice small/mid-sized company to settle down in. They may not be as well compensated, but they are often "IT Director/VP" (where IT is 3-8 guys), are still hands-on, get to have fun, and not have as much stress.

mcv 4 days ago 1 reply      
Shuttling experienced devs off into management is of course a sad thing that should be prevented. It's better to have high ranking technical positions available. (Although, Microsoft, isn't "fellow" basically a posh word for "guy"? So the high ranking tech guy gets a position called "posh tech guy"?)

Anyway, my dad has always resisted any push towards management. He did occasionally get the lead of a project thrust upon him, but he was still programming until he retired. However, he comes from an age where people stayed with a single employer for their entire life. You don't get to see his CV because he was never looking for a new job. You see my CV a lot because I'm constantly looking for something new.

Although in that graph, I guess I'm actually in the 10+ segment now... I'm still a young dev, though.

mwfunk 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's an interesting question, but the article doesn't try to differentiate between a dearth of older developers vs. a dearth of older developers sending resumes to Hibernating Rhinos in Hadera, Israel. Like, are they affected by local demographics, their own corporate culture, the ways in which they do recruiting, etc.

It seems like the article is written from the perspective of assuming that the age distribution of the job seekers that they interview is equivalent to a random sampling of all software developers worldwide, but it could also just be a function of how resumes make their way their way to this particular company in this particular part of the world via the particular channels through they receive resumes.

I would still expect a random sampling of people looking for programming jobs worldwide to be heavily weighted towards recent grads however, for lots of reasons:

(1) Just in terms of numbers, there are a lot more people with recent CS degrees than degrees from 20+ years ago.

(2) People in the first few years of their career are much, much more likely to send resumes to a gazillion different places. They are also much more likely to start looking for a new job after 1-2 years.

(3) People with less experience are much more likely to apply for an entry-level position.

(4) If you have a company mostly or entirely staffed by people in their 20s, that by itself is going to scare off older developers and encourage younger developers to apply.

(5) If most of the company is composed of people in their 20s, then most of the resumes you receive from acquaintances of your existing employees are going to be from people in the same age group. So, there can also be an element of it being a self-perpetuating thing.

Etc. etc. etc. Basically, why there are fewer older developers is an interesting question with multiple answers, and why this particular company doesn't get resumes from them is also probably an interesting question with multiple answers. The questions raised by the article are so general, however, that there are no simple answers.

githulhu 3 days ago 0 replies      
My anecdata: a former colleague of mine, over 50, just left his enterprise IT development job to make a ton more money with a Salesforce consulting firm. He didn't go to Stanford, he never studied computer science, he didn't start coding until he was in his 30s, and he's only been developing Salesforce for maybe 2 years. He also doesn't have the benefit of a large network or a reputation that preceeds him, but he tells me that he's still getting offers even a week after he accepted his new job. So I'm not sure the picture is so bleak - as long as you're good and you put in a minimum amount of time learning a relevant technology.
shams93 4 days ago 4 replies      
You wind up taking "haircuts" and doing without equity here in Los Angeles till you are like me, 43 and forced to live in a squat with no running water because the startup you were working for decided to kick up your hours to 21 days, 7 days a week with no overtime, and then cuts your base pay by 2/3 so the founders don't take a haircut, this has been happening over and over for 14 years for me to the point where this company has me doing without personal hygine to finish their product, ironically its a health oriented compnay. Sounds like the ravings of a mad man, but this is how they treat developers in Los Angeles.
steven777400 4 days ago 0 replies      
I work for state government and we hire a good number of older developers (younger ones too). Because our projects are mostly dull (with a few key exceptions), the technology largely prescribed, and the salary somewhat low, we tend to get either the lower-quality developers, the very inexperienced developers, or the developers who value stability more than other aspects.

We hired one former consultant recently who basically told us, that at his age, nobody wanted to hire him for consulting jobs anymore. He took a (presumably) big pay cut to work for us, but at least it's a steady job as he approaches retirement.

zwieback 3 days ago 0 replies      
We have the opposite problem where I work: everyone is in their 40s, kids, mortgage, etc. We cannot get kids to stay here even though we recruit them, they leave after a short while.

There's good and bad, of course, we have an exceptionally experienced staff but eventually we'll all retire. There may be a problem where we don't get fresh perspectives on our work but I'm not really convinced that's true. Maybe more of a problem in social/mobile/web but in product development it's probably not as much of an issue.

inestyne 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been programming professionally since 1986 when I had a 70+ year old mentor writing accounting and plant control systems in TurboDOS. Now I code AND design large complex systems using either .NET or Rails. I don't send CV's to people unless they ask for them and they have to know of me in the first place to even ask.

I think the older devs that are still relevant probably don't show up in the job seeking type of data, they are probably already booked with paying work and startups!


michaelochurch 4 days ago 2 replies      
To get a programming job that can actually use 10+ years of experience, you need to develop strong interpersonal skills and (to put a darker shade on it) learn some CS 666: Software Politics. At that point, the main obstacle to moving into management (needing to bring your interpersonal skills up to, at least, the 25th percentile) is gone.

In other words, if you're good enough at interpersonal politics to keep improving as a developer past the 5-year mark (which requires working people well enough to get on the best projects) then you're also good enough to move into management.

Moving into management is also just plain easier than protecting a specialty against the anti-intellectualism of business-driven engineering. You're a top-flight developer making $140k with a well-formed specialty (let's say that it's machine learning in Haskell). Your options are: (a) compete for the two jobs that exist in the world, (b) give up your specialty and move to a hedge fund, or (c) move into management, which tends to be specialty-agnostic, and lucrative. If you've decided that you're a manager from here on out, all those damn Java shops become options again.

Startups were supposed to provide an alternative, but these days the VCs act like bosses and being a funded CEO is a middle management position.

For what it's worth, the genuinely interesting fields of programming tend not to have the same age-related attrition. Machine learning researchers, and even serious engineers like Jeff Dean, are just starting up when they're 40. However, the business-driven engineering that 95% of us have to contend with is mind-rotting. Spending a week debugging someone else's VibratorVisitorFactory method, or figuring out what the fuck some ORM is doing, just causes atrophy.

We have age-related attrition (of both kinds; our most talented leave, and our less talented or just less lucky are punted) because we're a badly organized industry. We have a talent for which there's nearly unlimited demand, and yet we refuse to organize around protecting its interests with a union or a professional guild.

Also, organizations that use a "dual track" only underline the problem. Take Google. It's 100 times harder to become a Principal Engineer (Director-equivalent) than to hop on to the management ladder and make Director. It's 10,000 times harder to become a Google Fellow (VP-equivalent) than to make VP. There may be a noble intention behind dual track organizations, but their actual effect is to show how stacked the deck is against lifelong individual contributors in a world that is still "manage or be managed".

JustSomeNobody 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why do we say "Move Up" to management!? I'm an engineer! I am not a subordinate. If anything, we should say "Move over" to management.
11thEarlOfMar 4 days ago 0 replies      
The oldest dev I know still working is 70. He tells stories of working on PDP-8: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDP-8

His company is unusual in that way: Average age of the devs is around 55. He currently writes test software and technical manuals for advanced control systems. They're hiring, if anyone is interested.

javery 4 days ago 0 replies      
They go where you went Oren - they end up running their own company or running a group of devs or a product inside of a larger company.
Luyt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm 48 and programming since I was 11 (on a PET-2001 ;-). A few years ago I wrote up a 'rsum' because everybody seemed to had one - since then, a few people told me it's more a 'bio' than a 'rsum', but who cares... It's at http://www.michielovertoom.com/cv/software-developer/

"I was born in the mid-sixties and got in touch with software programming at an early age. It became my hobby, along with the field of electronics. I was very keen to get to know exactly how things worked and what was happening, even up to the level of the silicon. In those days I spent more time reading datasheets and computer manuals than I did reading comics. "

I find great joy in exploring new technologies. At the moment, I'm learning Docker.

throwaway5752 4 days ago 0 replies      
Probably repeating what's been said elsewhere, but older devs are also less common because a lot move out of development and into management or other areas that are either less stress or more lucrative. A lot have kids and their priorities shift, taking large company pay and stability (such as is is) over startup lifestyles. Also, wisdom doesn't always come with age, but eventually you realize that being a developer at a startup is overrated financially - it primarily is a great professional development period. Once you've learned what you can from the experience, you tackle some bigger problems that typically cannot be solved by 3 guys working 24/7 on ramen and shoestring funding.
datashovel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've noticed a basic pattern. Especially with web-based companies. Inexperienced / non-technical folks get put into important decision-making positions. They hire the young / hip devs. Definitely don't want to spend the money older devs are asking for. Also it "kills the vibe" to have 30-somethings in the office when you're a company full of 20'somethings. They spend a few years on the project. With project deadline looming, and no idea how they're going to finish, they bring in the older devs for short contracts to try to finish the job before deadline.
jordanpg 4 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't this line of work be some sort of grand meritocracy? Or at least be striving for such a thing? Shouldn't age be 100% irrelevant?

But of course it isn't purely a meritocracy, because social factors matter, too.

And of course careers and office politics matter, too.

And of course there are biological considerations, like family and energy and health.

And of course it is exhausting to frantically keep up with the bleeding edge of the technology du jour.

And of course deep, long-lived knowledge matters just as much as coding ability sometimes.

And on and on and on....

freshflowers 4 days ago 2 replies      
As an old dev (47) who's main focus is now management (the only thing I still program is devops stuff), there are some reasons why I stopped being a developer a few years back:

1) Developers are treated without much respect. Seriously, even with the scarcity, and even when we do get paid well (which is relatively rare) and have nice perks, developers still don't get the kind of respect other similarly highly skilled professionals get. At some point, when you get in your mid-30's and compare yourself with other professionals in the same age group, this really starts to grate.

2) The vast majority of companies still doesn't know how to make developers function properly. Those of us who discuss stuff like Agile, "manager / maker schedule", remote working, the pros and cons of open office plans, etcetera form a tiny minority, and we live in an echo chamber. 90% of all devs are still code monkeys in the basement. As a developer with a bit of experience and authority I decided to put my effort in changing that (i.e., get into management) to make life better for other developers.

3) I felt I was just repeating myself, basically doing the same thing on different platforms in different languages. I found it harder to learn new stuff not because I got "too old to learn", but because I didn't see anything particularly "new" in it, just same shit, different platform, which wasn't particularly motivating. (The only exception is the "cloud", because approaching the infrastructure as a dynamic, programmable resource is actually something new and challenging.)

Salary is still very much an issue. All this talk about developers getting paid so much is total bullshit, with the possible exception of a small minority of SV companies. Developers are seriously underpaid compared to their economic value and scarcity, and it's mostly just a matter of a lack of respect for "techies".

Personally, I don't care about the money (as a manager I currently choose to not get paid more than my best developers, which is making my bosses kinda nervous), but the feeling of getting screwed just pisses me off.

Most of you that are reading this: you are most likely not getting paid what you are worth. Not even close. Yes, even those who think they're doing fine. I've seen the numbers, and as a profession we are collectively getting screwed, with very few exceptions.

There are many professions in which people are less scarce, require less skill, knowledge and experience and add less economic value and still get paid considerably more simply because they are not "techies".

gcv 3 days ago 0 replies      
Someone in Silicon Valley, a respected and very smart middle-aged CEO of a well-funded startup, once said to me that programmers over 45 either become CTOs or they probably aren't very good (and therefore not worth hiring).

A generalization, to be sure, but it fits with edw519's view of 75% of middle-aged programmers in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8481761.

23david 3 days ago 0 replies      
Eeek. What is an old dev? :-)

Who is older:a) programming commercially since age 20, currently 35 (15 yrs full-time experience)b) programming commercially since age 35, currently 40 (5 yrs full-time experience...)

Once your arms and fingers start giving out (or eyestrain), people start feeling old really fast. Doesn't matter how old you are. Take care of your health (including keeping your brain active on interesting projects...) and you'll stay "young".

Beltiras 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm 2nd in experience @ my dayjob, lead programmer is a step away. I also know that the division head is a bit worn and really wants to step down.

I would like either one of those jobs but I would rather take the seat on the management board to be honest for the influence it would give me.

Writing good software starts with a business decision and the Suits people are notoriously bad at making good calls in that department.

ArtDev 4 days ago 1 reply      
Focus on your niche, become highly specialized. Do higher level architectural stuff and apply your many years of experience.
vkjv 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think you are missing a small detail. Older people tend to be more risk averse and more likely to stay in their current position.

More than likely, the answer to the question, "where are the developers with 20 years experience?" The answer is, "the same place they were 10 years ago."

Wintamute 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'd say it's an interplay between the following issues,

1 - Writing code is a young man's game. Older devs get one too many platform/language iterations behind the curve so can't apply for as many jobs - obviously not true for everyone, but could account for something

2 - Older devs are tempted into management, and so write emails for a living instead of code

3 - Older devs may have more commitments outside of work, so can't take on jobs that demand long hours in the office and long hours at home keeping up with tools and trends

4 - Huge numbers of people are starting to realise you can make good money sitting on your arse all day and writing code, so there are lots of them applying for jobs with low experience - that's not to say many of them will still be trying a few years from now

5 - All the best experienced older devs don't apply to job ads, they just move easily between contracts using their network

void_star 3 days ago 0 replies      
peter303 3 days ago 0 replies      
Several 60-somethings at this company. And 20-somethings.We are vertical software company where domain knowledge is important. Developers come from both the the domain side and computer side.
vetler 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a flood of aging developers right around the corner, starting with the C-64 generation. Perhaps there are not tons of older developers now, but there will be soon.
pptr1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Agreed with edw519.

How come no one asks where do old chefs go to? What about old artists? What about old musicians? What about old plumbers? What about old construction people?

spacefight 4 days ago 0 replies      
/dev/burnout :(
AwesomeTogether 3 days ago 0 replies      
Regardless of career prospects title should have been "where do old devs go to die?"
lifeisstillgood 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are three issues to take into account:

1. There is just a smaller pool of 20+ year devs because 20 years ago there were less developers, smaller pool of jobs etc. it should be possible to work out the max size of that pool from ONS / job data and get a ratio for today.

2. What is your job criteria? Permanent position? Wage is low compared to say contract or freelance rates? Advertised in the public job forums?

3. Lack of interesting work or autonomy.

I am a Dev with 15+ years - (I dropped out of CTO position to go back to full time Dev work). And I cannot imagine taking a permanent position unless it comes really close to a contractor wage. And I would prefer remote working.

I will be surprised if I ever find a 150k+ remote permanent position. But if I did I would expect to see only 40 year olds on the short list.

And I am pretty unusual in that I still job hunt in the open - actually applying for jobs. This is not an issue for the large majority of people I know who use their "networks" better than I do.

So in short a good Dev (and having lasted 10-20 years they cannot be idiots) is not goin to be looking for a job, if they are, they will not be looking where you advertise, and if they do look there, your rates will be too low, your job conditions off putting and finally you probably tell people what and where and how to work.

If you want old devs, pay more, micro-manage less, and fish in places that are recruiter unfriendly.

VLM 4 days ago 0 replies      
"When we started doing a lot of interviews"

Bingo! Only megacorps and people who hire noobs recruit that way. Beyond a couple years its all ... "That guy I worked with who was an expert with statistics (by their standards)" or "That guy with the awesome github repos" or "That guy I contracted with once..."

And looking at his graph, I'm guessing his job description is skewed toward noobs. Something about the company, or the job descript, or working conditions or ...

prohor 4 days ago 0 replies      
/dev/null ;-)
robomartin 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you are 35+ and technically savvy you really ought to consider launching your own business online. By far the best program I've seen that takes people from newbies to online business owners is here:


Full disclosure: I am an investor and know dozens of people doing the program, friends and family members. Most successfully.

Older programmers have lots of challenges. Being good has nothing to do with it. If you didn't build a network as you went through your career you are going to have a hard time at 50+. Age discrimintion is very real in certain circles. An then there's the ridiculous process through which some choose to evaluate or filter people.

I have never been a freelance programmer, always an entrepreneur so I never experienced this first hand. That said, I've always had good relationships with recruiters because of my need to hire engineers for my businesses. I often get to hear war stories over a cup of coffee.

If I had to summarize what seems to bother me the most and strike me as most unfair is what I call the search for the instant language x and framework y programmer. It seems there are companies who only care about an instant and immediate fit with the language and tools they are using rather than to search for unique experienced talent and new thinking. A software engineer with decades of experience and a solid foundation in Computer Science has gone through several language/tools/frameworks transitions. Their value goes far beyond being able to write fizzbuzz in a certain language in 15 minutes. That's myopic and really juvenile in my opinion. No, these people can offer strategy, structure, safety, planning, ideas, process and a whole host of other valuable contibutions to an organization and yet they might fail a language x and framework y interview test. Once hired they can learn the desired language/framework very quickly yet there seem to be lots of examples of people not getting past that firewall due to, again, in my opinion, misplaced priorities in the hiring process.

Some of the best people I have hired knew absolutely nothing about the tools and frameworks we were using. Because I never look to fit people into a little box that has never been an issue with the way I hire at all. If someone is really good and can bring solid value to the organization I gladly spend several thousand dollars sending them to courses to get them up to speed. Inside of a month you have someone with amazing value who can now jump in and rock with the tools you happen to be using.

One example I can offer that isn't direcly related to CS is when I hired a machinist to help run our CNC shop stocked with the latest Haas CNC machines. He had NEVER run a CNC machine. Didn't even know the first thing about G-code. He had 40 years of machining experience. He blew me away when he showed me a whole bunch of little machinist utilities he wrote for his HP-41 calculator. I hired him on the spot. I probably invested about $10K in various classes getting him up to speed on CNC. This guy was AMAZING we learned a ton from him, for some of us lessons that will stay with us the rest of our lives. A mentor in the true sense of the word.

So, yeah, at some level I think hiring, in certain segments of the industry, is broken.

ianstallings 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is actually just the fruition of the past growth in our industry. Around 1995-2000 we saw incredible growth. Then we had some industry pitfalls and people left for greener pastures so that might have weeded out a lot of people that weren't committed. Then we had another growth spurt that has slowed but is still growing. So we will be seeing a lot more people with multiple decades of experience. And so on..
m0skit0 4 days ago 0 replies      
To C heaven
Corpus of network communications automatically sent to Apple by Yosemite
329 points by haywardsmyfault  4 days ago   104 comments top 20
song 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm very glad for that thread. I didn't know that I also needed to uncheck "Include Spotlight Suggestions" in Safari additionally to Preferences.

I do not understand why there's such a backlash against anyone that points out that:

1. It's not intuitive to have to both disable "Include Spotlight Suggestions" in Safari and in Preferences.

2. People like my father who are privacy conscious but are average computer users would not think to look for this in Spotlight and Search and instead would look in the privacy tab instead

3. Apple released and advertises cool privacy features like MAC address randomization that actually do not work. It only works with Location Services and 3G disabled according to the reports which is never going to happen. This makes me feel that the new focus on privacy from Apple is more for PR purpose than something they really care for.

That said, I like Apple products, I've been using macs since 2004 and I would have a hard time going back to using Linux (still have nightmares about all the work needed to support my laptop correctly) but that doesn't mean I'm giving them a pass on those privacy issues.

I know a lot of people here feel that all of this is much ado about nothing but really, it's clearly not obvious and if I hadn't read yesterday's thread I wouldn't have been aware that Safari sends my search to Apple even if selected Duck Duck Go and disabled Spotlight Suggestions in preferences.

madeofpalk 4 days ago 1 reply      
That Mail one is probably the least alarming, and I would assume that Outlook does the same thing. When you first set up a mail account, it sends your email domain to https://mac-services.apple.com/iconfig/dconf and, provided Apple has a match for it, it will return auto-configure POP/IMAP/SMTP settings.

If you enter your email as @apple.com, it returns back:

    <domain>       <name>apple.com</name>       <service>         <hostname>mail.apple.com</hostname>         <port>993</port>         <protocol>IMAP</protocol>         <ssl />         <requires>MACOSX</requires>         <authentication>PLAIN</authentication>       </service>       <...>    </domain>

tkubacki 4 days ago 4 replies      
Funny - just compare how Ubuntu was bashed for Amazon lens in Unity and how differently Apple is treated for the same (or even worse) things here on HN
simme_ 4 days ago 2 replies      
Original discussion can be found here:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8479958
davidw 4 days ago 1 reply      
It searches the web as well as your local drives, so sending those searches out is exactly what I'd expect. Now, I can also see the case for not making 'do a web search too' the default, but if you can't have that and not share your searches with Apple.
esolyt 4 days ago 3 replies      
I recently replaced Spotlight with Alfred and realized how much I was missing out. It's surprisingly faster and cleaner. I would really suggest it to anyone who haven't tried it yet.
eknkc 4 days ago 2 replies      
Am I missing something here? The web search / autocomplete functionality contacts some servers.. You can disable them. Mail client tries to fetch known IMAP / SMTP info for a given domain to ease setup.

Are there some weird data being sent? Honestly, I might have missed some concerning communication but as far as I can tell, this is just for the sake of added functionality and can be disabled.

Expecting OS level stuff to work without network data at year 2014 seems somewhat bizarre. This is like complaining that apt-get leaks info to home, telling about the packages you install.

adsr 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can't this just be turned off with the Spotlight setting in system preferences though? For browsers it seems to be the same for all that uses the unified search field, it was last time a checked Chrome with tcpdump. I personally preferred to have the URL field separate from the search field for that reason.
f3llowtraveler 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am extremely disturbed by this report.

I have been a faithful Apple user for years, but this single report causes me to seriously consider switching to Linux for good.

dustinfarris 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is the data sent to Apple personally identifiable? How long is it retained? If the NSA (inevitably) decides to crash the party, what is the nature of the information that they walk away with?

These are all questions that should have readily available answers.

jason_slack 4 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone found a way in 10.10 to completely disable spotlight and notification center? I know I can disable in system preferences but what about getting rid of the icons and completely stopping the services all together?
abritishguy 4 days ago 1 reply      
I like what I have seen with Apple's (apparent) focus on privacy with regards to iOS and the later iPhone models but this is pretty worrying - I'm not one to care about sending my data to some cloud service when it offers some tangible benefit to me, but some of this data is pretty intrusive and I can't see what benefit it is adding.

Assuming everything here is accurate then Apple have screwed up and really ought to rectify this pretty quickly if they want anything they say about privacy to be taken seriously in the future.

JamesBaxter 4 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the iPhone does something similar
blinkingled 4 days ago 1 reply      
> About this Mac

When the user selects 'About this Mac' from the Apple menu, Yosemite phones home and s_vi, a unique analytics identifier, is included in the request. (si_vi is used by Adobe/Omniture's analytics software).

Wow. I am waiting for "Team Apple" to invent a radical defense on this one. But regardless this is shameful on Apple's part.

tsenkov 4 days ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: I am building the mentioned app.

Pagehop (https://pagehopapp.com/), a launcher targeting only the Web, doesn't send your search queries to any server of ours, and allows searching in many different sources (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Wikipedia, StackOverflow, YouTube, even some very specific sources such as jQuery's API documentation, the Mozilla Developer Network or the NPM archive). You can add sources (recipes) yourself.

We don't use a central server, instead the app taps into free web services (where possible) or scrapes the sites (where not).

It basically is a pack of many horizontal and vertical search engines with a single UI and the ability to use tools for post-processing of web results such as Regexes and Fuzzy Matching.

Pagehop queries are a simpler version of executing commands in the Terminal and you can pipe tools, one after another, just the same.

You should check it out (or not) - it has an unlimited, free and fully functional evaluation period (nothing is locked, just like SublimeText).

teamhappy 4 days ago 0 replies      
We've read plenty of interesting explanations in this thread. Anybody care to explain to me what great feature is hidden behind the "About This Mac" cookie or where to find the button to disable it?
higherpurpose 4 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft has been doing this, too, since Windows 8.1, and it's going to do it even more aggressively with Windows 10.

I'm not saying it to mean that it's okay - in fact quite the opposite. Both are doing it wrong, and I hope they stop, or at least give me an intuitive (not hidden within 100 other settings) way to disable it.

nashequilibrium 4 days ago 0 replies      
steffenfrost 4 days ago 0 replies      
What are they sending to the NSA?
rplnt 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you like the title of this post, you might like this subreddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/titlegore

edit: all right, jokes aside, the title is horrible and unparseable for many reasons:

"Yosemite" without stating it's OS X Yosemite throws you off with the first word. It "Sends Spotlight" (comma). All right, sends spotlight what? Is sends a verb, why is it capitalized? Let's move on... "Safari Searches", Safari searches what? Again with the random capitalization of searches? Or I guess it was a verb and "Spotlight, Safari" is a list. The fact that both are also common words doesn't help - it would be more obvious that we are talking about products/brands if "searches" and "sends" weren't capitalized. Continue... "to Apple" - yeah, this makes sense (first time in this sentence). Even "to" is not capitalized (but it makes you question your decision about sends/searches). Comma. Third parties. What?!

Seriously, it's awful.

Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems
309 points by rcamera  17 hours ago   164 comments top 23
hardwaresofton 13 hours ago 6 replies      
Despite all the people that think he sounds like a lunatic, is any of what he is saying a lie? Lots of people who sound like lunatics but aren't telling lies are worth listening to, I think.

So, he's putting a lot of "these guys are all evil" spin on it, but then again, all the connections he is making seem to be true. Whether it means Google is in bed with the US government or not is up to the reader (with nudging from him, of course), but I don't anyone confronted with this many factual connections between a CEO of a mega corporation and government actors could simply write this off as "lunacy".

I think most people in the tech industry (and sadly not many people outside it) have already realized the Google is very very big-brothery.

TheMagicHorsey 16 hours ago 9 replies      
I did not realize what a nut Assange has become. The more there is the danger that he might be forgotten, the more ridiculous his theories of the world.

However, you have to think about his target audience. The audience doesn't consist of people who are familiar with things like DARPA grants, and think tanks. For people in the know, this writing will read like lunacy, because they will understand that Assange sees demons behind every innocuous shadow. Some random college kid from middle America, on the other hand, won't know that his writing is lunacy.

For example, think about his casual implication that DARPA funding of Page and Brin's Stanford research might be a signal of their nefarious links to some cabal of elites in the defense industry. Anyone who has worked in a top-ten engineering program knows that nothing could be further from the truth. Those grants go out, in a bureaucratic fashion, to tons of people, without any such elites getting involved at all. In fact the worst thing you can say about those DARPA grants is that they are haphazardly doled out for some real stupid projects.

But think about how that accusation looks to some kid. It seems like there is this grand conspiracy because Larry Page and Sergey Brin took DARPA money ... of course they must be deep cover CIA implants right?

Its complete stupidity from start to finish, but its the type of stupidity that can only be debunked by actually being there and seeing that Assange speaks nonsense. This guy is an entertainer and self-promoter of extraordinary cunning. Think of the audacity it takes to write this gibberish with such confidence.

modifier 14 hours ago 3 replies      
To any "outsider" unfamiliar with Hacker News, it's heavily populated with Google employees, contractors, and developers that build on to Google products and services.

Keep that in mind when you read the comments here.

xnull2guest 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Partnerships with US Corporations has always played a role in US Foreign Policy. Right now the military is talking about replacing large parts of its active forces with private companies. For information systems and telecommunication, launching rockets, building planes, creating munitions, researching weapons, it is the same.

Eisenhower gave his famous speech in 1961 on the forming Military-Industrial Complex. Military-Industrial because it partners the Military and Industry. (He warns America that if it goes unchecked, it could have dire consequences. I'm not saying it's gone unchecked - that's a different discussion.)


I go to my earlier point, the partnerships are not limited to munitions. Using Google to spy on foreign countries already shows that they have an intimate relationship. The question is whether Google is involved in Foreign Policy in other ways.

From GCHQ to NSA: "Let's be blunt - the Western World (especially the US) gained influence due to drafting earlier standards:

* The US was a major player in shaping today's internet. This resulted in pervasive exportation of America's culture as well as technology. It also resulted in a lot of money being made by US entities."

http://hbpub.vo.llnwd.net/o16/video/olmk/holt/greenwald/NoPl... 96)

The US would have a lot to gain if they could use Google to 'prioritize and export US culture'. Google's CEO sounds an awful lot like he's saying that.

From the intro text:

"They outlined radically opposing perspectives: for Assange, the liberating power of the Internet is based on its freedom and statelessness. For Schmidt, emancipation is at one with U.S. foreign policy objectives and is driven by connecting non-Western countries to Western companies and markets."

The US keeps an eye out on US Companies, too. Seems like an easy trade for me if I were a CEO. It will also help you expand your international base. Win-win.


chiaro 16 hours ago 4 replies      
He writes well, and it's an interesting look at how intertwined the government has become (was it ever not?) enmeshed with corporate empires. Unfortunately in the wider population, Google's image is nigh unassailable. The average user wouldn't know about their being saddled with military contracts through their Boston Dynamics acquisition, for example. For this, and other reasons, 99 times out of 100, "free market" consumer action such as boycotts have negligible impact. That's alright though, when you can trust the state to properly monitor and regulate ethical conduct, though it doesn't look like we'll be quite so lucky here.

Regulatory capture is one of the biggest problems in the government today, but the solution isn't decreasing the power of the government over companies, it's decreasing the power of companies over the government.

bane 12 hours ago 2 replies      
So Google does business with the U.S. government? No duh. It's not exactly a state secret, it's not like Google doesn't post job openings at the Washington D.C. and Reston, VA locations for people who want to sell and support the government.

Here's the contract awards



Of course they want to sell to the government. The government has money.

pedalpete 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Sadly, I found the following pieces gave Assange so little credibility that if he had just written about the last 3rd of the article, it would seem more credible to me.

If a suspended employee was shopping around "the location of the encrypted file, paired with the passwords whereabouts" and in "two weeks most intelligence agencies, contractors and middlemen would have all the cables", wouldn't you just move the files and change the password?

He then goes on to say "Not only had Hillary Clintons people known that Eric Schmidts partner had visited me, but they had also elected to use her [Lisa Sheilds] as a back channel." However, he never mentions who Lisa Sheilds is, just that was Schmidts 'partner'.

I had to research it, but apparently she works for the "Council on Foreign Relations" http://www.cfr.org/staff/b5862 They do a horrible job explaining what they do. But I find it odd that Assange would have left out this details. Sheilds is a conduit to Clinton as well as Schmidts partner. This is an important detail.

"While WikiLeaks had been deeply involved in publishing the inner archive of the U.S. State Department, the U.S. State Department had, in effect, snuck into the WikiLeaks command center and hit me up for a free lunch." Assange blames Google, but he was naive enough to take a meeting, not knowing who the people setting up or attending were? I find this doubtful.

"The last forty years have seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiage, is to execute political agendas by proxy." Which direction is this statement going? The state is influencing the political agenda's of corporations? or vice versa. Was it any other way, and is this a problem as Assange seems to assume it is?

Google and the Council on Foreign Affairs put together a conference to 'workshop technological solutions to the problem of violent extremism.' This sounds like a good thing to me, but Assange condescendingly and rhetorically asks "What could go wrong?", ok, I'll bite. What went wrong? Unfortunately, he never answers.

"Google Ideas is bigger, but it follows the same game plan. Glance down the speaker lists of its annual invite-only get-togethers, such as Crisis in a Connected World in October 2013. Social network theorists and activists give the event a veneer of authenticity, but in truth it boasts a toxic piata of attendees: U.S. officials, telecom magnates, security consultants, finance capitalists and foreign-policy tech vultures... " Invite-only ? Really? Is this surprising for such a gathering? If so, what are the activists doing with the foreign-policy tech vultures? Who's calling them vultures?

"I began to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by ... U.S. foreign-policy types". He again here is assuming that Schmidts agenda and that of US Foreign Policy are not aligned.

If this article didn't have Julian Assange posted all over it, I almost think it would be more credible. What I've never understood about those who praise Assange (not WikiLeaks as an idea, but the way Assange runs it) is that he's as bad as many of the actions of people reported in the leaks. He has his own political agenda, and is given a huge volume of classified information by a third party, and he then decides what of these classified information gets published and what doesn't. What makes him the deciding factor in all of this? If you think you're doing good publishing information that others think is classified, than publish the information. Don't pick through it, see what you think will make headlines or embarrass people you don't like, and publish only that which you feel is fit to press.

incision 16 hours ago 1 reply      
That was interesting.

I've always been a bit curious about Schmidt and what sort of measure someone who is neither in awe nor seeking to impress might make of him.

I think the whole piece is probably best summed up with this line towards then end.

>"What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century, technology and cyber-security companies will be to the twenty-first."

That certainly makes sense.

cromwellian 14 hours ago 2 replies      
A lot of innuendo and guilt by association, political conspiracy ala Kevin Bacon. I suppose isolation tends to produce conspiracy theories. I'll get down voted for this of course.

When Assange is raising concerns about a potential Google monopoly over the whole of the internet, he is of course, raising a legitimate concern. But the attempts by Assange, and people like Yasha Levine, to tie Google into the military industrial complex are weak sauce. The point about DARPA funding is particularly bullshit. Is any student who ever worked using research funds or equipment from DARPA at a university, and later goes on to found another company, beholden to the agenda of that organization? I worked on projects in college where I scarcely knew where the funds were coming from or who I should be paying my allegiance to.

pandatigox 15 hours ago 1 reply      
> By mid-August we discovered that a former German employeewhom I had suspended in 2010was cultivating business relationships with a variety of organizations and individuals by shopping around the location of the encrypted file, paired with the passwords whereabouts in the book

I remember reading Daniel Domscheit-Berg's (or was known as Daniel Schmidt, I think) book "Inside WikiLeaks", which talked about Assange's increasing paranoia.

I'm sad to read that the former German employee was once someone very important to Wikileak's early days and, if you read the book, someone who was very close to the man himself.

I'm suddenly more worried about Julian Assange and his paranoid/conspiracy theory view of the world

state 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't see the point. Just read the original text. https://wikileaks.org/Transcript-Meeting-Assange-Schmidt.htm...
lern_too_spel 16 hours ago 8 replies      
The last section reads like the ravings of a conspiracy nut. From associating the DARPA grants that fund many university computer science projects with nefarious spy collaboration to repeating PRISM is the long-debunked full take program of Greenwald's fantasy, it's straight lunacy.
dwd 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Any time you read an article by Assange you have to read it in context and using his meaning for some key concepts:

Some further reading:http://estaticos.elmundo.es/documentos/2010/12/01/conspiraci...


HonorSworn 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It is not that I believe that Google and Eric Schmidt along with the government are part of some kind of conspiracy. And I do acknowledge that someone like Assange probably is much more paranoid than he should be.

It is simply that we should not voluntarily give so much power to a single company.

oskarth 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I noticed something curious in the comment section:

DARPA is mentioned exactly once in this article and then mostly as a tangential point. Despite this, it's mentioned several times in multiple critical top-level comments here in the comment section.

pkrs 14 hours ago 1 reply      
A lot of what he writes has nothing to do with the facts but rather adds to the general "evil theme".

Somehow he was able to paint having "analyticity" as a bad thing: "Schmidts dour appearance concealed a machinelike analyticity".

And acquisitions are conveniently renamed into takeovers: "In 2004, after taking over Keyhole"

And then this. I don't even:

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonalds cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valleys technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."

ebgfkjnbe 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I suggest that people reading these comments look through the posting histories of the people bashing Assange and make a judgement about whether or not they're real people.

You be the judge.

auggierose 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Here you might have the real explanation for why Eric Schmidt stepped down.
yuhong 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally, I do think asking Eric Schmidt to leak this kind of stuff was a horrible idea. But this reminds me of the anti poaching scandal:



AshleysBrain 16 hours ago 2 replies      
In all of Chrome, Firefox and IE, after a few moments the page background turns black, and then it's unreadable (black text on black background). Is this happening to anyone else? Is there a readable link? :P
lotsofmangos 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Is interesting to read other people's suppositions on this stuff. In a similar vein, I tend to think of Facebook as being just another government agency, but Google has always been much more curious. Google seems to have ambition beyond getting close to power, Google has since the very earliest days seemed that it is interested in being a power in and of itself. The International Olympic Committee has this unusual designation of being a non-geographical state-like entity. I suspect Google would also like that designation.
anonbanker 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It wasn't until this article that I realized that Eric Schmidt of Google was the same Eric Schmidt of Sun Microsystems that famously said "you have zero privacy anyway. get over it".

Why am I supporting Google?

harry8 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a single occurrence in the 154 previous comments of the words rape or rapist. I remember when that number would be 30 or higher. I guess it's not so believable anymore?

edit: voted down to zero but with no responders. :-)

/me waves to the NSA propagandists & apologists among us. I remember when many of us would have labeled that a whacky conspiracy theory, not so very long ago. Now we have the evidence that we were wrong we should remind each other of it whenever these stories come up.

The man with the golden blood
292 points by ColinWright  2 days ago   102 comments top 16
IvyMike 1 day ago 1 reply      
Most people who donate blood just go into a pool, but 'directed' blood donations are very interesting.

I found out about directed donation when someone I know was found to be a close match for a baby with Diamond Blackfan anemia. He was asked if he would do directed blood donations to that baby on a regular basis. It was a serious commitment; missing a donation would put the child's life in danger. There were additional sacrifices--he couldn't travel a lot of places (for example, countries with malaria) as that would disqualify his blood.

The happy conclusion is that after five years, the parents had another child who was a perfect match for bone marrow, and after a marrow transfusion the Diamond Blackfan anemia was cured.

MrJagil 1 day ago 2 replies      
What an amazing reading experience. So rarely do you see an article with so few distractions.

I wish I had something substantial to add, but I was just in awe by the presentation, the clear-cut contact information and credentials laid out, the pleasant font choices and how the related stories weren't pushed on you as opportunities for ad-rev, but for enlightenment for the curious.

sosuke 1 day ago 4 replies      
Really interesting situation, and very frustrating that none of the rare blood donors costs can be paid for by hospitals. Seems like there should be some loop hole to get them compensated.
pierre 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just a note about the international travel described in this article : Geneva and Annemasse are twin city and share the same bus system. Thomas in this article could just get into a TPG bus from anywher in geneva and arrive in annemasse hospital less than 40 minute after. (geneva and anemasse are small cities
guard-of-terra 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if it's possible to create a blood-producing machine (with bone marrow culture and whatnot).

And then by manipulating its genetic code slightly make it produce whatever blood we want. Better yet, take a sample from one perfect donor and make golden blood at a scale.

thedevopsguy 1 day ago 4 replies      
My brain is shutting down and I can't parse this phrase.

[1] "If you lack an antigen that 99 per cent of people in the world are positive for, then your blood is considered rare."

[2] "If you lack one that 99.99 per cent of people are positive for, then you have very rare blood."

Surely the author is saying the same thing here?

leeoniya 1 day ago 1 reply      
i was half-expecting this to be about Dr. Kent Brantly (ebola survivor whose blood continues to be used for transfusions)
post_break 1 day ago 3 replies      
Anyone else find it odd that he can't donate spare blood for himself? It seems unfair.
Zaephyr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fascinating article. I was only aware of the 4 major blood types plus Rh, it's also inspiring the efforts people will make to help others.
xutopia 2 days ago 0 replies      
What an interesting read! Thanks for sharing!
c23gooey 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was a well written and inspiring article.

Reading this made me call the Red Cross and get back into giving blood.

lawlorg 1 day ago 0 replies      
They should clone this guy, just so they can have more sources of his blood type
member345 1 day ago 1 reply      
Could someone explain what is happening on those photos with the blood bags?
PhantomGremlin 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's amazing the Kafkaesque rules that have evolved about blood donation. The article does touch on them.

I'm not allowed to donate blood (any more), for what I think is an absurd reason. I spent a few months in England, over 30 years ago. So now the USA is afraid that any blood I donate will infect America with Mad Cow disease.

If those same rules were applied in the UK, nobody there would be able to give blood. The actual Red Cross text is:

   You are not eligible to donate if:      From January 1, 1980, through December 31, 1996,      you spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time      of 3 months or more, in the United Kingdom (UK),      ... [1]
Those same rules go on to ban all of Europe from donating blood:

   You spent (visited or lived) a cumulative time of   5 years or more from January 1, 1980, to present,   in any combination of country(ies) in Europe, ...
I did get my "gallon pin", which they give out after 8 donations, before the rules were changed. So there could be quite a few vCJD infected people wandering around the USA because of me.

Given the litigious environment in the USA, I understand why the Red Cross has these rules. But it doesn't make sense from a scientific point of view.

[1] http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requ...

graycat 1 day ago 1 reply      
For the person in the OP who needed heartsurgery and, thus, needed compatible blood forthe surgical procedure, why didn't that personjust donate their own blood, say, one pint at at time, over some weeks, haveit frozen, and then have it thawed out for themjust before the surgery?
How Wizards of the Coast distributed equity as a startup
273 points by gwern  1 day ago   119 comments top 15
alexose 1 day ago 5 replies      
The next generation of startups is going to have to address some employee equity problems, I think. This notion that early hires are going to share a small piece of the 10% employee pool needs to stop.

Being employee #1 of a startup can be one of the worst positions a young developer can ask for. Long hours, high stress, low job security, and for what? 0.5% of a company that, if it survives, will most likely dilute its shares?

A startup could really set itself apart by advertising more progressive structure-- One where shares in the company aren't treated like a lottery ticket, but an actual piece of value that is worth growing. Too bad VCs don't see it that way.

GeneralMayhem 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is a great story, and I'm glad it worked out for them, but it's important to keep in mind that it's only one data point. This is exactly the sort of "I'll pay you in equity, and once my great idea makes it big you'll be rich!" approach that HN usually hates, because 99% of the time said payout never comes.
kauffj 1 day ago 7 replies      
I love the idea of small scale stock offerings, but isn't this illegal? My understanding was that selling stock like this is a private equity offering and that private equity offerings are limited to a small number of people unless the investor is sufficiently rich (the government likes to use the term "accredited investor").
MattHeard 1 day ago 0 replies      
> I was successful as a CEO not because of my own brilliance, but because I built a team of people far smarter than me who were willing to buffer my shortcomings.

This attitude defines a good CEO.

kenrikm 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think the most important takeaway is that he did not try and screw over the early shareholders, integrity is important. The story about the $280,000 drafting table is relevant, they needed the drafting table it contributed to the success, If you were to go down that line of thought I wonder how much each can of Soda bought for early Facebook employees "cost".
nwhitehead 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's funny how everyone seems to have a different view of how equity should work. I'm reading Felix Dennis "How to Get Rich" (highly recommended, much better than the title makes it sound). He made his fortune in magazine publishing which is actually somewhat close to Wizards of the Coast in business model. His view is exactly opposite; fight as if your life depended on every share, and pay people bonuses to incentivize performance.
benmathes 1 day ago 1 reply      
"But most of the value in this company came from two things: Richard Garfield creating Magic: The Gathering, and the employees. Not investors. Its only appropriate that the distribution from the sale reflects that."

Hear hear. Investors say that founders and employees are what make startups. I wish the cap tables reflected that.

mproud 1 day ago 1 reply      
Peter says again and again how he did it might not have been the safest way, that perhaps he was lucky it worked out, that there could have been a better approach. He does recognize its all water under the bridge, that in the end, he got success. But just keep this in mind the way they did it is probably not the best way.

Edit: Read Blog Entry 2, Part 1: http://www.peteradkison.com/blog-entry-2-wizards-of-the-coas...

binarymax 1 day ago 2 replies      
"We did no mathematical analysis of how the stock should be priced; we didnt have the skill to do that"

Folks may not realize it while doing so, but developing complex gameplay that is perfectly balanced can be considered a feat of linear algebra. So that quote made me smile :)

dtparr 1 day ago 3 replies      
>If I had a deep, intellectual conversation with someone, Id give them 10 shares. At $0.50 per share, that was only $20 of fictional value, certainly a fair trade at the time!

Is his multiplication bad, or am I misunderstanding something terribly?

gcb0 1 day ago 0 replies      
i love to put this annecdote on top of facebook's

if the same people were handling WoC, they would have called in the janitor, made her sell her stock for peanuts before the new stock price set in. garanteeing that only the suits made any big return of it.

herbig 1 day ago 0 replies      
"So Do You Wear a Cape" is an excellent history of the founding and success of Magic: the Gathering and written in a way that you don't have to understand the game to grasp everything. I highly recommend checking that out.
random_pr 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a good related article on the early days of WotC:http://www.salon.com/2001/03/23/wizards/
javajosh 1 day ago 3 replies      
I always feel dumb asking - but doesn't the total number of shares matter? The real thing you're buying is a fraction of the pie when someone buys your company, and it would seem to matter quite a lot whether the pie was cut into 10^3 or 10^6 pieces. Indeed, I wish we could just talk about ownership percentage instead of shares to remove the ambiguity.

Why is there a reluctance for people to talk about this openly?

diziet 1 day ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a terrible idea and not 'inspiring' at all.
Ask HN: My 56-year-old father is a developer having a tough time finding a job
279 points by luisivan  16 hours ago   172 comments top 57
haddr 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Spanish market is really tough these days, but it is possible to get a job. - there are many possibilities in Madrid and Barcelona. Consider relocation.- knowing Java or PHP can help further increasing possible job opportunities. I hardly hear that someone is looking for MongoDB developer. - person with such experience is probably considered by HR to be demanding in terms of salary. I would not advise asking for more than 35k.- Also there might be a question: why still developer. I suppose there is a convincing explanation for that! (I also know many >40 years old people beeing developers). - have a look at banks. santander & bbva usualy have some job offers. either directly or through some consulting company.

I hope your dad will finaly get some nice job!


lacker 11 hours ago 6 replies      
"Spain" seems like the magic phrase here. Unemployment in Spain is 24.5% right now.


Meanwhile unemployment in the UK is 6.2% right now.


I suggest looking for a job in London. A lot of tech companies are hiring there.

erikig 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I would recommend that he jump on Guru.com or eLance.com and start looking for projects. It is not ideal but it will keep him active as he searches for work.
flinkblinkhink 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The advice is the same to everyone. Work hard on personal projects, get them online and live and running and impressive. Join a well known open source project and do 200 commits. Tweet, blog regularly. Prove you know your stuff.

Same advice for everyone. Almost no one does this stuff and those that do greatly increase their chance of getting work.

People sit around hoping not to have to do the hard yards, hoping they'll somehow be given a job. In 2014 you have to make it happen through active, public work.

If you build enough of an online reputation then you'll get work without even meeting people and they wouldn't know if you were an 80 year old giraffe.

iMario 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hola luisivan.

Could you somehow make me available your email? I would like to send you a couple of suggestions which I rather do in private.

mark_l_watson 13 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't know if his will help:

I am 63, and I realize that I might not be as effective as I once was. What I do is offer a really low rate for telecommuting from home, and a much larger rate when working on site. So, for the last many years, I work cheaply from home and occasionally work on site (most recently at Google) for a much better consulting rate.

I don't know if your father has the financial flexibility to follow my plan, but it works for me.

ctdonath 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone's going to advise leading-edge technology options.

Consider the other extreme: long-established businesses are desperate for developers capable of working on old systems like COBOL, 370 Assembler, etc. His "tons of experience" mean he is familiar with old-school tools & mindset, things which new developers can't fathom in a world of smartphones & clouds. Such developers made a pile of money 15 years ago when a burst of manpower was needed to solve the then-looming "Y2K bug"; those talents are still very much in demand, and there's a lot fewer developers able & willing to work on those systems.

Mainframe developers are still needed. Society isn't creating any more of them. Supply + demand = write your own check in this niche, so long as you'll work on anything anywhere.

mblevin 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Remote work online is absolutely going to be his best bet, and it will pay better.

Check out:


http://hnhiring.com/ search for "remote")


albertoavila 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Drop me a line at my username @gmail.com if he would consider working for a startup based on SF but with its engineering team based on Guadalajara, Mxico. We mostly do django, flask and angularjs and are not worried on getting someone with his experience on our team.
steven2012 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not convinced that 56 is that old for companies, especially large ones. I'm not sure this is anything more than the current financial problems that Spain is experiencing. There is 25% unemployment and many banks have purportedly been teetering on collapse. There simply may not be jobs available for him in Spain, unfortunately.

His best bet is to move around in the EU, and go to a country that is willing to hire him. Place like UK, France are likely doing better than Spain is, and will probably have more jobs.

_dps 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I may be able to help. As a fellow Southern European (living in California), I make it a point to try to help people from that region with employment where I can.

I employ people (fully remotely) all over the world, and I help several other companies do the same (I assume basic professional/IT English). I'm not actively hiring right now, but I know a few companies who are.

My email is in my profile. Best of luck regardless.

MicroBerto 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This is crazy. Were I hiring, I'd kill to have someone that experienced and with likely far fewer "life liabilities" (I'm doubting he's going to start having babies or go absolutely insane over some girl he can't get out of his mind... or disappear playing video games for two weeks straight)

Have him keep at it. Someone will appreciate what he's got.

wilhow 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Self Marketing. Age is definitely a road block, it might be worse in spain, but it happens everywhere else.

The thing is that if you provide nothing for potential employers to see, then all they would see is resume and eventually your age. Make him get out there, make friends, build connections, show case what he has done online, get potential employers to see past his resume and age. When you provide nothing for them to see, they'll see what's in front of them. That is an older man trying to live in a young man's world.

When you are an older developer, it'll definitely take more work to get hired. You have to do more to stand out. Just sending out resumes isn't gonna do much good in this day and age. Your connections is what going to get you hired. It's true in Spain, London, EU, Asia and everywhere else.

firichapo 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
Maybe he can edit his resume/CV and remove the date from items that would hint toward his age. This way the companies might give him the chance to show his experience in Django during an interview.

How about remote work within the European Union? I am in the US so I am not familiar with how common that is in Europe.

zubairq 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Ask him to email me. I have 100% success rate to find people like your father jobs, and I do not charge them anything, in fact I will pay him $1000 if I can't find him a job. zq@nemcv.com. I have helped other people on hacker news and never failed yet

How do I do this? Because I change the mindset away from looking for a job based on skills to showing the value your father can add to a company

fasteo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This whole thread made my day. It is heartwarming to see so many people trying to help here.
dalys 11 hours ago 0 replies      
We, Lifesum, are located in Stockholm and are looking all over the place for a senior backend engineer that can work with Python / Django! Please have him take a look at: http://jobs.lifesum.com/jobs/1103-senior-platform-backend-py... and see if it's a good fit.

Feel free to contact me (info in profile) regarding any questions. :)

atlantic 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Your father should try to find development work online. Nobody cares about your age, or even your qualifications. It's all about your track record and your capacity to get things done. It takes a while to get your first few gigs, but once you build up a small client base, work goes smoothly.
juanre 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Contact me if you want me to show his CV around HP's lab in Barcelona. Hope it works out well for him!
jwaldrip 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I would suggest he start contributing to open source. Write a fea utility libraries or even a few general purpose applications. Being able to point people to a github with work to show off some skills can be integral to how employers view your technical aptitude.
joshcrowder 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Has he looked into finance? The UK banking scene is predominately in his age group (not that it matters). I'm 24 and worked in a team of people ranging from 30-60 i suppose. Also the sector is moving towards noSQL so it could be a good fit
misulicus 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I can totally understand how hard can it be. I`m 28 years old from Romania and looking for an IT related job.Its difficult and for me because i never had a 9-5 job. Always worked from home as a freelancer since college so i got no past experience and no one hires you without 2 years or more experience :(
peterb 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My advice is to apply his engineering skills to the job hunt itself. Send out CV's every day, network, hunt, analyze data, look for patterns, etc. As he is discovering, job hunting is a full time job.

In Canada, there are organizations for older job hunters that help with resume preparation and cover letters, job hunting techniques, how to network effectively, etc. Working with others in a similar situation is great for your morale. I wish him good luck.

auganov 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
Start a startup with dad.
wooptoo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Is moving to somewhere like London an option for him? There's a lot of demand for good developers in London and the companies tend to not discriminate. I'm talking about more established companies especially.Source: I previously worked for a company that hired a 55 year old developer.
maigfrga 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am software Enginner from Colombia, I move last year from Spain to Dublin, at least 25% of the staff in the company where I work are in ther 50s, my suggestion, move to UK or Ireland
cjbenedikt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How is his English? Would he be prepared to work as a freelancer for a while? Can he code in C++??
dragonbonheur 1 hour ago 0 replies      
with his experience, he should set up a virtual classroom through Hangouts or Skype and make enough of a living short term tutoring people who want to learn how to code fast. Maybe he would not be able to offer certification and diplomas but there is enough interest in learning programming internationally that it may work.
codegeek 15 hours ago 3 replies      
What about freelancing ? Try and connect with people you know who might be looking for a developer like him. If he knows Python/Django, I am sure there are lot of freelance opportunities. Also ask him to post in the Monthly HN thread of freelancers.
Mandatum 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately if he can't get a job that pays what he's asking for based on experience, he'll need to lower his rate. Outside of getting into a more "senior" orientated industry as joshcrowder has suggested, banking, finance, etc.

However Xerox itself is a very senior-orientated company, at least here in New Zealand. Has he reached out to his network to see if there are any positions going where he'll get a palm greased?

pjgomez 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Feel free to contact me if you want to move his CV in a couple of companies that I know are hiring (Salamanca and Valencia).

Good luck to you and your father

yCloser 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A 25 years old programmer in a country similar to spain will get 1100 per month.

A 56 yo will probably expect much more, and companies won't be willing to... I mean, they are just evil.

ExpiredLink 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The situation for developers in Europe currently isn't good. Forget those nonsense 'skilled worker shortage' articles. Europe's economic recovery does not proceed as fast as expected, forecasts are even lowered due to the sanctions against Russia. The 'best' you can do is sit and wait until next spring because spring usually is the high season of the IT job market.
BenoitEssiambre 15 hours ago 3 replies      
>"they can actually hire five young developers for the price of one senior dev"

I'm sure your dad's experience warrants a premium over others but anybody asking 5x what other devs make are going to have difficulty finding a job unless they have exceptional reputation, contacts and some luck.

bronlund 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Forget the job adds, they will only attract a lot of competition. What he needs to do is finding firms which are growing and send them a letter. This way he will sidestep that whole hiring process and the firms appreciate someone who takes an active approach.

And those who points out how important it is to be active on the net are right. At least set up a nice LinkedIn account.

acd 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Full respect for your father learning MongoDB and Django.I do not see his age as an issue with that mindset. Maybe he can work remotely? Also may I recommend joining relevant IT recruitment interest groups on LinkedIn and Python/Django on Meetup.com.
lmedinas 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I just want to say that I know your situation and just encourage him to keep doing something and not sit in a chair waiting for something. Psychological problems come and they are not easy.

Wish you both the best of luck.

luisivan 15 hours ago 2 replies      
BTW I forgot to add it on the post, but this is his LinkedIn profile just in case https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=75046358
hardwaresofton 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Does he have an up-to-date portfolio on what he's been working on? how are his side projects?

I think that's one of the most effective ways to convince someone that you haven't been resting on your laurels/are still innovating.

Also, he could take the chance (assuming you guys are not 3 steps from being on the curb) to try and bootstrap a small startup -- 56 years is a ton of experience, he has to know some pain points in some markets/communities that he can fix (maybe his own?) and charge people money for.

le_doude 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I left Italy because I was looking at a future in which I would have been one of those 5 young devs that got hired instead of someone like your dad.

I am still young and am always relocating to find better projects and conditions, and its been working for me in this past 5 years. But now I know that there is also a lot of companies out there that are willing to hire people from across the globe and let them work remotely.

Those jobs are not easy to find, and are a small minority in the job market, but they are a beacon of hope for really good devs for which relocating is not an option. You (royal you ... which means potentially your dad) will generally get good money but might have to set up your own taxes, insurances and benefits, so it's not as hassle free as just being a normal employee.

Relocation, IMO, is always an option. Just speaking English is enough ... and English is not hard.

rbitar 13 hours ago 0 replies      
If it helps, we work with startups/brands/agencies that primarily hire remote developers across a range of languages at FlexDevs:http://FlexDevs.com
nt591 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Where in Spain? The author of the Typus gem (a Ruby admin tool) lives in / freelances from Barcelona. Your dad may want to reach out to him for tips or advice.


mctx 15 hours ago 1 reply      
There are a few conferences coming up in Barcelona, he could go to network?http://www.papis.io/ http://velocityconf.com/eu
henvic 10 hours ago 0 replies      
morgante 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If he's open to remote contract work, I'm always hiring freelance developers (knowledge of Python & JavaScript).


aantix 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Is he willing to move to San Francisco? Flightcar needs a fullstack Django dev.
icantthinkofone 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I have a friend who's about 60 here in the US. He doesn't have to work cause he's all set but he wants to. He's brilliant. Has wide ranging experience but, if he's not used your tech in the past, I guarantee he'll pick it up quick.

If you ever had eye surgery or used a vending machine, you've probably used his equipment. You've probably visited a couple of web sites he created for large companies. He's worked on Hollywood movies and you can see his face in some of them. I would almost go as far as say he's the most interesting man in the world.

Over the past year, he's gotten zero replies to any of the resumes he's sent out. Two companies complained they needed their sites updated and managed in their want ad yet, today, those same sites have changed little and are still awful.

Yet, I look out my home office window and see him working in his garden this morning.

terramars 14 hours ago 1 reply      
not sure how helpful this will be since we won't have a ton of activity at first, but Hired is about to launch in the UK. we'll be taking candidates all over Europe although we'll only have a London office until sometime next year. if he's interested in moving up there, it's worth a shot. his skillset sounds relevant. http://join.hired.com/x/WF25Mp
alexdowad 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Pick up some freelancing jobs on oDesk?
alikazmi 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really cool, you are father doing having stage of retirement. I appreciated to your father with this act, that's it.
4ad 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't understand the reluctance of the industry to hire old people. I am young, and I love working with old people. They know their craft so well, they have so much experience, they have seen everything; they do stuff.

For comparison, I don't like working with young people. Always excited about new technologies, but they usually have no experience in anything and manage to delay every project and make a mess out of it. And there's also the meta-activities associated with young age. We don't just work, but we do all kind of meaningless forced social crap and boast about life and show our gadgets.

With older people, it's much more professional. It's just professional work, which gets done, and doesn't expand into our private lives.

velocitypsycho 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Hopefully at that point the demographics of the industry will have smoothed out some.
informatimago 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Here is a very meta solution, but it has to be considered. The problem of unemployment in Europe is directly linked to the European Union Treaty and the Euro ( google for TARGET2, ver por ejemplo http://tinyurl.com/salida-euro ). Entoncez, deberia promover la aplicacin del artculo 50 del Tratado de la Unin Europea para salir del EU y resolver nuestros problemas.
tw04 13 hours ago 2 replies      
He's worked as an executive, but never moved onto something more senior like a project manager????
rileytg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
we love experience! jobs@fcflamingo.com ny/la/remote dev/design/consulting
robomartin 14 hours ago 0 replies      
He should start a business, it's easier than ever:


Seriously, it could change his life in a major way.

Verizon Wireless injecting tracking UIDs into HTTP requests
285 points by pillfill  19 hours ago   126 comments top 29
gergles 19 hours ago 12 replies      
They don't appear to be doing this if you've opted out of "Relevant Mobile Advertising", which is another option [separate from CPNI] on http://verizonwireless.com/myprivacy.

Here's the setting you're looking for:


Mods may also want to update the title to include "Wireless" after Verizon; Verizon landline is not doing this anywhere AFAIK.

youzer 19 hours ago 5 replies      
Let's say I want to send some TCP. That TCP happens to kind of look like HTTP, but it's not. It's just some protocol I made up which looks HTTPish enough to trigger this injection.

Doesn't that mean that Verizon isn't actually offering TCP/IP (Internet) access, since they corrupt my protocol stream in transit? Shoudln't that mean they should be charged with fraud if they continue to advertise the fact that they provide internet access when what they really provide is a broken version of TCP they made up?

It's a serious question.

kator 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This has been going on for ages, not sure why people just now noticed it.

They were testing it last year, you could clearly see these headers on a large percentage of traffic coming from their gateways.

I'm not expressing an opinion one way or another but they clearly felt the UID is not directly identifiable and thus does not become a privacy issue until they share the mapping of the UID to customer data.

My guess is in their minds if you opt-out they just do not provide your UID to 3rd parties for targeting.

In the ever increasing dream of cross device marketing (think your iPad, iPhone and Laptop) many companies are trying to figure out ways to connect these devices to a single individual or family.

IIRC Verizon quietly started rolling out service wide TOS changes to allow this sort of thing a couple years back. That said I'm not sure if their TOS makes it clear how this is implemented and what potential side effects might be caused by the way they've implemented them.

jo_ 19 hours ago 4 replies      
This makes me rather unhappy. I'm seeing this on Verizon. Can someone with an alternative mobile provider like Sprint or T-Mobile test this, too?
scintill76 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems similar to Apple's Spotlight phone-home thing: unsolicited extra data being sent, a somewhat buried disclosure that it's happening, people having difficulty getting their opt-out preference honored (possibly caused by several confusingly-similar options to disable.)

It does sound like Verizon's is more a case of simply not honoring the option, though, unless some commenters here have just not found the magic checkbox yet.

mfkp 19 hours ago 6 replies      
Hmm, confirmed on Verizon 4G LTE network.

Can anybody recommend a good VPN service that works on android?

ChuckMcM 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Bummer, the iPad (LTE version) sends this tracking information and there is no way to turn it off.
arca_vorago 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
What about LTE modems on Verizon? I am testing them and was planning a fairly big rollout to replace some services that previously relied on Sat internet.
13throwaway 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a scary thought: How do we know every ISP isn't doing this, it would be undetectable if they only injected these on certain domains e.g. facebook, google. However I don't see how much more tracking ability that would grant over IP tracking.
tedks 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Doesn't examining/modifying data exempt you from the DMCA safe harbor protections?
pillfill 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Just confirmed that the UID follows the SIM, so even swapping phones won't save you.
tedchs 15 hours ago 0 replies      
On my Verizon Moto X (Android), the header is not visible if I use the Chrome feature "Reduce data usage", but it is visible if I disable that feature or, ironically, use Incognito mode. This feature causes non-SSL, non-Incognito traffic to be proxied through Google's servers, using the SPDY protocol. Some info on how this works: https://developer.chrome.com/multidevice/data-compression
micah_chatt 19 hours ago 1 reply      
When I try to 'withdraw consent' for 'Verizon Selects Participation Status', I get this prompt http://imgur.com/sbVpMhR
bndw 18 hours ago 1 reply      
You can view all of your device's request headers at http://checkyourinfo.com/request
Spooky23 15 hours ago 0 replies      
VZW does all sorts of weird traffic management. They proxy everything and will throttle applications deemed to chatty as well.
edallme 17 hours ago 1 reply      
srj 15 hours ago 1 reply      
As this requires reassembling the HTTP request to add the additional header, this probably introduces extra latency too.

Fortunately https is becoming more pervasive which bypasses this and any other transparent proxies.

kator 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Just checked my Verizon 4G LTE MiFi and the headers are not there, I've not done anything special to my account settings.

On ATT I see the X-Acr thing but not clear if it's UID like or not in nature, would need to see more of them.

ArtDev 19 hours ago 3 replies      
This looks like a job for Tunnelbear VPN!https://www.tunnelbear.com/

I am huge fan since I starting using it when traveling Europe. The mobile version works great as well.

chatmasta 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm on Verizon and got "did not receive X-UIDH header" message from uidh.crud.net. Possibly because it says "1x" at the top of my phone and that means it's on another network?
leejoramo 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I assume there are similar opt-outs for AT&T, Sprint, T-Moblie, etc. Anyone maintain a page of links for how to access the opt-outs?
Floegipoky 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Where's the class-action lawsuit?
peterwwillis 17 hours ago 3 replies      

"We collect personal information about you. We gather some information through our relationship with you, such as information about the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination and amount of your use of our telecommunications services. You can find out how we use, share and protect the information we collect about you in the Verizon Privacy Policy, available at verizon.com/privacy. By entering this Agreement, you consent to our data collection, use and sharing practices described in our Privacy Policy. We provide you with choices to limit, in certain circumstances, our use of the data we have about you. You can review these choices at verizon.com/privacy#limits. If there are additional specific advertising and marketing practices for which your consent is necessary, we will seek your consent (such as through the privacyrelated notices you receive when you purchase or use products and services) before engaging in those practices. [..]


We make no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, to the extent permitted by applicable law, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, about your Service, your wireless device, or any applications you access through your wireless device."


"We collect information about your use of our products, services and sites. Information such as call records, websites visited, wireless location, application and feature usage, network traffic data, product and device-specific information and identifiers, service options you choose, mobile and device numbers, video streaming and video packages and usage, movie rental and purchase data, FiOS TV viewership, and other similar information may be used for billing purposes, to deliver and maintain products and services, or to help you with service-related issues or questions. In addition, this information may be used for purposes such as providing you with information about product or service enhancements, determining your eligibility for new products and services, and marketing to you. This information may also be used to manage and protect our networks, services and users from fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful uses; and help us improve our services, research and develop new products, and offer promotions and other services.


When you register on our sites, we may assign an anonymous, unique identifier. This may allow select advertising entities to use information they have about your web browsing on a desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network. We do not share any information that identifies you personally outside of Verizon as part of this program. You have a choice about whether to participate, and you can you can visit our relevant mobile advertising page (link to www.vzw.com/myprivacy) to learn more or advise us of your choice.

Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI):[..]Verizon Wireline consumers and certain business customers may opt-out by calling 1-866-483-9700. Verizon Wireless consumer and certain business customers may call 1-800-333-9956. Other customers may decline to provide or withdraw CPNI consent by following the instructions in the Verizon notice seeking consent. For additional information, you can read examples of common consumer CPNI notices for Verizon Wireline and Verizon Wireless.

Please note that many opt-outs are cookie-based. If you buy a new computer, change web browsers or delete the cookies on your computer, you will need to opt-out again. Please also note that some wireless devices, portals and websites have limited ability to use and store cookies. As a result, advertising entities may have a limited ability to use cookies in the manner described above or to respect cookie-based opt out preferences. However, ads may still be tailored using other techniques such as publisher, device or browser-enabled targeting. You should check the privacy policies of the products, sites and services you use to learn more about any such techniques and your options. If you do not want information to be collected for marketing purposes from services such as the Verizon Wireless Mobile Internet services, you should not use those particular services."

ericlitman 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Useful to note that the UIDH changes every 7 days.
dzhiurgis 16 hours ago 1 reply      
How is this UID different to an IP address?
sbarker 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm on Verizon and got "did not receive X-UIDH header". 4G, droid ultra, FL
sp332 19 hours ago 2 replies      
How do you opt out of CPNI?
booleanbetrayal 18 hours ago 0 replies      
also seeing this despite CNPI settings. class-action time?
lpgauth 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This as been known for a while and it's used by some advertisers...
Hints for writing Unix tools
286 points by mariusae  3 days ago   124 comments top 15
hoggle 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing well misses the point: it should be One thing well AND COMPOSES WELL

If the implementation isn't respecting The Rule of Composition it's actually not adhering to the Unix philosophy in the first place. The tweet is referring to one of Doug McIlroy's (one of the Unix founders, inventor of the Unix pipe) famous quotes:

"This is the Unix philosophy: Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface."

Pure beauty, but it's almost too concise a definition if you haven't experienced the culture of Unix (many years of usage / reading code / writing code / communication with other followers).ESR's exhaustive list of Unix rules in plain English might be a better start for the uninitiated (among which one will find the aforementioned Rule of Composition).

For all those seeking enlightenment, go forth and read the The Art of Unix Programming:


17 Unix Rules:


jzwinck 3 days ago 3 replies      
Here's one more tip: did you ever notice that "ls" displays multiple columns, but "ls | cat" prints only one filename per line? Or how "ps -f" truncates long lines instead of wrapping, while "ps -f | cat" lets the long lines live?

You can do it too, and if you're serious about writing Unix-style filter programs, you will someday need to. How do you know which format to write? Call "isatty(STDOUT_FILENO)" in C or C++, "sys.stdout.isatty()" in Python, etc. This returns true if stdout is a terminal, in which case you can provide pretty output for humans and machine-readable output for programs, automatically.

voltagex_ 3 days ago 5 replies      
I'm not sure I agree with the "no JSON, please" remark. If I'm parsing normal *nix output I'm going to have to use sed, grep, awk, cut or whatever and the invocation is probably going to be different for each tool.

If it's JSON and I know what object I want, I just have to pipe to something like jq [1].

PowerShell takes this further and uses the concept of passing objects around - so I can do things like ls | $_.Name and extract a list of file names (or paths, or extensions etc)

[1]: http://stedolan.github.io/jq/

osandov 3 days ago 3 replies      
A nitpicky tip: --help is normal execution, not an error, so the usage information should be printed to stdout, not stderr (and it should exit with a successful status). Nothing is more annoying than trying to use a convoluted program with a million flags (which should have a man page in the first place) and piping --help into less with no success.
Animats 3 days ago 3 replies      
1978 called. It wants its pipes back.

That approach dates from the days when you got multi-column directory listings with

  ls | mc
Putting multi-column output code in "ls" wasn't consistent with the UNIX philosophy.

There's a property of UNIX program interconnection that almost nobody thinks about. You can feed named environment variables into a program, but you can't get them back out when the program exits. This is a lack. "exit()" should have taken an optional list of name/value pairs as an argument, and the calling program (probably a shell) should have been able to use them. With that, calling programs would be more like calling subroutines.

PowerShell does something like that.

to3m 3 days ago 3 replies      
Additional tip: if writing a tool that prints a list of file names, provide a -0 option that prints them separated by '\x0' rather than white space. Then the output can be piped through xargs -0 and it won't go wrong if there are files with spaces in their paths.

I suggest -0 for symmetry with xargs. find calls it -print0, I think.

(In my view, this is poor design on xargs's part; it should be reading a newline-separated list of unescaped file names, as produced by many versions of ls (when stdout isn't a tty) and find -print, and doing the escaping itself (or making up its own argv for the child process, or whatever it does). But it's too late to fix now I suppose.)

acabal 3 days ago 7 replies      
Great article. The other thing I've always wished for command-line tools is some kind of consistency for flags and arguments. Kind of like a HIG for the command line. I know some distros have something like this, and that it's not practical to do as many common commands evolved decades ago and changing the interface would break pretty much everything. But things like `grep -E,--extended-regexp` vs `sed -r,--regexp-extended` and `dd if=/a/b/c` (no dashes) drive me nuts.

In a magical dream world I'd start a distro where every command has its interface rewritten to conform to a command line HIG. Single-letter flags would always mean only one thing, common long flags would be consistent, and no new tools would be added to the distro until they conformed. But at this point everyone's used to (and more importantly, the entire system relies on) the weird mismatches and historical leftovers from older commands. Too bad!

dap 3 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of great points here, but as always, these can be taken too far. Header lines are really useful for human-readable output, and can be easily skipped with an optional flag. (-H is common for this).

The "portable output" thing is especially subjective. I buy that it probably makes sense for compilers to print full paths. But it's nice that tools like ls(1) and find(1) use paths in the same form you gave them on the command-line (i.e., absolute pathnames in output if given absolute paths, but relative pathnames if given relative paths). For one, it means that when you provide instructions to someone (e.g., a command to run on a cloned git repo), and you want to include sample output, the output matches exactly what they'd see. Similarly, it makes it easier to write test suites that check for expected stdout contents. And if you want absolute paths in the output, you can specify the input that way.

_pmf_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a strong bias against people who quote their own tweets in their own blog posts. I find this to be highly narcissistic.
arh68 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's insane to restrict programs to just STDOUT & STDERR. Why 2? Why not use another file descriptor, maybe STDFMT, to capture all the formatting markup? This would avoid -0 options (newlines are markup sent to stdfmt, all strings on stdout are 0-terminated), it would avoid -H options (headers go straight to STDFMT), it would allow for less -R to still work, etc.

It's possible other descriptors would be useful, like stdlog for insecure local logs, stddebug for sending gobs of information to a debugger. It's certainly not in POSIX, so too bad, but honestly stdout is hard to keep readable and pipe-able. Adding just one more file descriptor separates the model from the view.

RexRollman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, its been a while since I've seen a monkey.org link. I thought the site was dead. Nice to see I was wrong.
mseepgood 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another tip: don't do colored output. I don't want to deal with ANSI codes in your output.
chilicuil 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with what is exposed on the article and I've actually added more details in how to apply this "principles" to shell scripting:


jwr 3 days ago 2 replies      
I would add to this list:

If you are intercepting UNIX signals (starting with SIGINT), go back to the drawing board and think again. Don't do it. There is almost never a good reason for doing it, and you will likely get it wrong and frustrate users.

peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not every program will be able to take input in stdin and output to stdout. If you have a --file (or -f) option, you'd do well to support a "-" file argument, which means either stdin or stdout, depending if you're reading or writing to -f. But you won't support "-" if the -f option requires seeking backwards in a file. Neither will you be using stdin or stdout if binary is involved (because tty drivers).

'One thing well' is often intended to make people's lives easier on the console. Sometimes this means assuming sane defaults, and sometimes just a simpler program that does/assumes less. Take these two examples and tell me which you'd prefer to type:

  user@host~$ ls *.wav | xargs processAudio -e mu-law --endian swap -c 2 -r 16000  user@host~$ find . -type f -maxdepth 1 -name '*.wav' -exec processAudio -e mu-law --endian swap -c 2 -r 16000 {} \;
Write concise technical documentation. Imagine it's your first day on a new job and you need to learn how all your new team's tools work; do you want to read every line of code they've written just to find out how it works, or do you want to read a couple pages of technical docs to understand in general how it works? (That's a rhetorical question)

Definitely provide a verbose mode. When your program doesn't work as expected, the user should be able to figure it out without spending hours debugging it.

AWS Frankfurt, Germany Region
286 points by ostrowski  1 day ago   96 comments top 20
julianpye 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is pretty significant, because in Germany many corporations do require their data being hosted on German soil and protected under German consumer protection laws.

As a result the Cloud provider market is currently split into three categories: German corporations (e.g. Telekom) promoting themselves as truly compliant, US corporations with German hosting (Microsoft and Oracle) that self-promote themselves as compliant and US corporations such as AWS and Google that are aggressively attacked by German Cloud providers as violating German consumer protection law.

In the past I personally have lost customers in Germany because my services use App-engine and CloudSQL in Ireland. Thus, I hope Google follows with a German server for their cloud services.

lispm 22 hours ago 2 replies      
> AWS is fully compliant with all applicable EU Data Protection laws

As long as the NSA can request data from US companies in foreign countries this is not at all compliant with EU Data protection laws at all. Under the current situation ANY US company providing services is not compliant and German companies with sensitive data would be stupid to put this data on US owned servers - wherever they are.

sebslomski 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's great news! As a german based SaaS company, we get many requests from customers asking where the data is stored. Even hair dressers (one of our main customer segment) are very conscious about where their data is stored.I'm looking forward to migrate.
grimlck 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Will having servers physically located in Germany really satisfy the privacy concern of German clients given that Amazon is still an American company subject to american laws?
thspimpolds 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Its an 18.57% premium up over US-EAST-1/US-WEST-2 and a 8.57% premium over EU-WEST-1

In case anyone cares

j4mie 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those who are curious, this is called "eu-central-1" (Ireland is "eu-west-1").
dazbradbury 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those in London wondering where is best for UK based customers, here's an EC2 ping [1] comparison of Frankfurt and Ireland AWS:

    Europe (Ireland: 25 ms   27 ms   24 ms    Europe (Frankfurt): 39 ms   39 ms   42 ms
Suggests Ireland is slightly faster. Obviously just a sample of 1 (more data required), but given Dublin is roughly 300 miles away, and Frankfurt is roughly 400 miles away, it makes sense.

[1] Hitting ec2.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com vs. ec2.eu-central-1.amazonaws.com.

verelo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great from a data storage perspective, but i've always struggled to figure out the best approach for utilizing multiple regions to comply with legal issues like this.

That brings me to my question: How do you store your data so that you comply with the laws of a country, when you actually export your product to several countries? Having multiple instances of your system seems impractical and sharding data by country across regions could be rather hard. I.e. I am in Canada, we have US clients who desire their data to be in the US and Canadians who want it in Canada. Either we add complexity or someone doesn't get what they want.

nnx 1 day ago 1 reply      
There seems to be an error on the DynamoDB pricing page:http://aws.amazon.com/dynamodb/pricing/

Selecting EU (Frankfurt) I get:

Write Throughput: $0.000702 per hour for every 10 units of Write Capacity

Read Throughput: $0.0001404 per hour for every 50 units of Read Capacity

This is strange as every other region has equal pricing for Write (10) versus Read (50).

Also, Frankfurt's Writes would be ~10 times cheaper than Ireland (Write Throughput: $0.00735 per hour for every 10 units of Write Capacity)

gldalmaso 1 day ago 2 replies      
Maybe I overlooked, but I can't seem to find any information regarding how many Availability Zones it has.

Edit: thanks for the replies, it seems that the '/pt/' localized version of the page hadn't been updated yet. I was able to find the informatin on '/en/'.

notax 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I've always wondered why Amazon put their first EU DC in Ireland, so far away from everything. While Germany is great and all, somewhere more central like Amsterdam would have looked like the obvious choice.

Whatever the location, it's still terribly expensive. Just looking at the Internet traffic charges makes my wallet hurt. I could not affort to serve traffic at any volume from AWS. Luckily there are a lot of other options in Germany.

mleonhard 19 hours ago 0 replies      
You can check your latency to the new region with http://www.cloudping.info/

I'm getting 165 ms from San Francisco to AWS Frankfurt eu-central-1.

bbrazil 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting that they don't have m1 instances, which is a problem if you need cheap disk space.
nilsjuenemann 1 day ago 0 replies      
Welcome to Frankfurt. I've found a first sign of a upcoming germany zone some month ago. Here is the posting of it: http://www.nilsjuenemann.de/2014/07/new-aws-region-eu-centra...
kaivi 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great news.

Does anybody know if there are significant differences between Ireland and Germany, concerning things like privacy and copyright protection? Perhaps there are same laws in EU, which are just enforced less in one country?

morazow 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I think some German corporations will still be reluctant to use it due to replication, etc.
crypt1d 21 hours ago 0 replies      
any IPs for pinging? I'm curious what the latency is compared to Ireland from here (Eastern Europe).
ck2 1 day ago 2 replies      
More ip ranges to block - are they published yet?

Don't see them here or the subforum, yet


freshflowers 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Of all the services not (yet) available in this reason, the absence of Elasticache seems the most conspicuous. It's a stable mature services with no regional complications.

Can anybody think of any reason for that?

(Maybe it's just me, it's the only missing piece that would stop me from migrating from eu-west-1 to eu-central-1.)

jonifico 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty rad!
Indias Downward Spiral
274 points by iprashantsharma  3 days ago   141 comments top 24
manish_gill 3 days ago 3 replies      
Worse yet, Indian government is apparently trying hard to emulate NSA's Surveillance Programs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9A91idibgT0&feature=youtu.be

Here's the video's info:

"""India is currently implementing some of the scariest surveillance schemes in the world. This lecture will shed light on India's surveillance industry, its UID scheme which aims at the collection of all biometric data and on various controversial surveillance schemes, such as the Central Monitoring System (CMS).

When it comes to surveillance, the most mainstream argument is that the majority of India's population lives below the poverty line and that surveillance is an elitist issue - and not a "real" issue which affects the masses. Given that the majority of India's population has mobile phones and that the Indian government is currently implementing the Central Monitoring System (CMS) which aims at intercepting all telecommunications (and Internet communications), surveillance does not appear to be an elitist issue. Given that the UID scheme aims at collecting the biometric data of all citizens residing in India and that most BPL cash programmes require UID registration, surveillance appears to be an issue which (unfortunately) affects the 1.2 billion people currently living in India. And this is to say the least. As part of the Privacy Project, the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) in Bangalore, India, is investigating surveillance within the country. The project is funded by Privacy International and aims to map out various forms of surveillance in India, ranging from drones, CCTV cameras and GPS tracking equipment to phone and Internet monitoring gear. This lecture aims to present the research that Maria Xynou has undertaken at the CIS so far, which includes data on the various surveillance technology companies operating in India and the type of spy gear they sell to Indian law enforcement agencies. This research also includes the presentation of India's various controversial surveillance schemes, with an emphasis on the Central Monitoring System (CMS) which unlawfully enables the interception of all telecommunications and Internet communications. India is currently implementing the world's largest biometric data collection and interception of communications schemes. The aim of this lecture is to present India's scary mass surveillance and to discuss its implications on the right to privacy and other human rights."""

RealGeek 3 days ago 2 replies      
In India, people are being arrested for voicing disagreement with politicians and influential people on social media. You could even be arrested for liking a Facebook post criticizing a politician.


leephillips 3 days ago 7 replies      
This is an unsurprising extension into the electronic realm of India's notoriously weak support of free expression. They were the first country to ban the Satanic Verses; its import, I believe, is still illegal there. Citizens are routinely persecuted under laws that literally prohibit hurting people's religious feelings (recently invoked against a researcher who exposed another fake Catholic miracle[0]). India is the most prominent example of a country with plenty of voting but no democracy.

[0] http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2012/07/sanal-edamarukus-situ...

pycassa 3 days ago 1 reply      
Also India ranks, 140 on world press freedom index 2014, if you move 7 places ahead you will be in Putin land. It became worse in the last 10 years, 120 to 140.


tn13 3 days ago 5 replies      
One of the biggest difference between US and India is the constitution. Indian constitution does not give freedom of speech to its people. So government can pass all sort of laws.

The 1st amendment to US constitution gives people freedom of speech and ensures that government can not pass any laws against it. On the other hand all the "rights" that Indian constitution gives are subject to other government approvals which means you can have Right X to the extent that other existing laws allow.

Despite that several of laws except the IT laws are pretty good and time tested. IT law however is horrible and puts a prohibitive cost on various IT businesses.

Indian classified company Quikr (like CraigList) has hired 200 people just to screen each and every post to make sure it is not "offensive".

skbohra123 3 days ago 1 reply      
Article is from 2012, can someone please edit the title to mention that?
anushprem 3 days ago 1 reply      
Did anybody noticed that this article is from 2 years ago, and a lot has changed in 2 years including a completely new government??
known 1 day ago 0 replies      
Poor people should NOT vote in elections. They're vulnerable to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_fraud#Intimidation
anuraj 2 days ago 0 replies      
India is a nanny state trying to save its gullible illiterate masses from cyber influences deemed bad in culture. It is not the cyber surveillance capabilities that is the problem (which is coarse anyway), but the condescending attitude of bureaucracy who can send people to jail without bail for a Facebook like or a retweet.
slaxman 3 days ago 1 reply      
A couple of points.

1. This is old (2012). There was a major government change in May 2014. The earlier government censored a lot of stuff. Mainly because their performance was below average and they did not want people talking about it.

2. The new government (led by Prime Minister Modi) is very oriented. (Checkout the central attendance system implemented by them in a couple of months: http://attendance.gov.in/). They have been pushing for broadband internet connectivity in villages.

IMHO This is not as applicable today as it was 2 years ago.

My $0.02

dharmach 3 days ago 1 reply      
- Government's support to freedom of expression depends considerably on availability of resources. If enough resources are unavailable, government has to give priority to law and order instead of freedom of speech.

- Surveillance is bad but depending on country's internal and external security situation, it may be a necessary evil.

- Removing content offensive to politicians is unacceptable.

eskimo87 1 day ago 0 replies      
these issues do not get noticed in India because for majority of Indians the attention to and addressing fundamental problems (food, shelter, health) are of utmost importance for time being.
esya 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is from 2012 as others pointed, but also if you go to Google's transparency report now, there is nothing after 2012 for India. Not sure why this is trending.
transfire 3 days ago 0 replies      
One day there will be a global Internet that will not be censorable.
priteshjain 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why is so old article trending?
imaginenore 3 days ago 0 replies      
Banning "offensive" materials was a huge mistake that will haunt them for decades. Why? Because anything can be offensive.

Bacon article? A Muslim gets offended.

Computer article? A Luddite is offended.

Photos of art? A blind man is offended.

That rabbit hole is infinitely deep. Oops I just offended rabbit lovers.

enupten 3 days ago 0 replies      
If Modi does an Indira (instead of a Shastri), India is doomed.
SteventM8 3 days ago 1 reply      
no wonder why google don't even shows me that It needs to store cookies when you visit its Indian version of the search engine .
sharoonthomas 3 days ago 0 replies      
May be on TV and in person, but definitely not on the internet. Just a cartoon of a stupid politician could get you arrested [1].

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/11/world/asia/india-cartoonis...

jangid 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is an old article dated early 2012. The current govt is very responsive to citizens.
bveedu 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a FEBRUARY 8, 2012 article .Why is it in spotlight now?
bveedu 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a FEBRUARY 8, 2012 articles. I couldn't understand why is it in spotlight now?
cconcepts 3 days ago 4 replies      
As someone living in India, I have considered how to set up a discussion board (like HN) that would be easy to use for users but also easy to be moderated of junk (like HN is) but still be effectively anonymous.

It would allow discussion on such topics without fear of reprisal.

With my lack of coding skills would this even be possible?

Soda May Age You as Much as Smoking
272 points by bribri  2 days ago   247 comments top 19
mikeyouse 2 days ago 14 replies      
The key results from the paper:

    After adjustment for sociodemographic and health-related    characteristics, sugar-sweetened soda consumption was     associated with shorter telomeres (b=0.010; 95%     confidence interval [CI]=0.020, 0.001; P=.04).    Consumption of 100% fruit juice was marginally associated    with longer telomeres (b=0.016; 95% CI=0.000, 0.033;    P=.05). No significant associations were observed between    consumption of diet sodas or noncarbonated SSBs and     telomere length.
Shortened telomeres are one way to measure genetic 'age'. So they saw 'aging' with sugar-sweetened soda, the opposite with fruit juice, and no significant difference with diet sodas or non-carbonated sugary sodas.

The study was pretty substantial with ~5,300 participants with no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. It's nice to have another datapoint against some of the bro-sciencey "Fruit juice has as much sugar as soda" arguments.

Late Edit:

Here's a pretty good summary of telomere aging:


nilkn 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not to mention it can cause diabetes and it's horrible for your teeth. For me, it also caused acne. Soda's really, really bad for you, and I think at this point it would be viewed the same way that smoking is viewed if it weren't for the fact that soda affects only the consumer whereas cigarettes produce second-hand smoke and a suffocating odor that fills the room.

Maybe 2050's Mad Men will shock its viewers with how office workers in 2000 drank soda in the office.

(This is coming from someone who used to drink soda on a daily basis. I learned to stop when I had to get a crown on a molar in my early 20s.)

geoka9 2 days ago 14 replies      
It's hard for me to understand the whole soda phenomenon in Canada and the US. Is it as addictive as cigarettes? Does it make you crave for more? Or it simply tastes so good that you can't get enough of it? Why not eat a bunch of apples instead (if you don't care about the amount of sugar you consume)? Wouldn't they taste better?
mbca 2 days ago 1 reply      
Were these sodas sweetened with cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup?

(I did look at the abstract of the actual paper, but it doesn't seem to specify. The full paper might say, but it's paywalled.)

Involute 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are there any studies that associate telomere length with actual organism longevity in primates?
bengarvey 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just in case anyone was wondering about diet soda...

"Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didnt see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake. "

jongraehl 2 days ago 1 reply      
Since she finds a strong shorter-telomere association in neither equally sweet juices NOR in diet soda, this result probably just unhealthy-lifestyle-correlation (e.g. drug addicts and undiagnosed diabetics drink more soda). Also, The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism (from her Time interview) seems an overreach. A properly functioning metabolism can handle some sugar, even in a spike.
spikels 2 days ago 0 replies      
Since longer telomere's may give you brain cancer we should all avoid 100% fruit juice and drink more non-diet soda!


Better yet ignore these preliminary and contradictory results until we actually understand what is actually going on.

anotheryou 3 hours ago 0 replies      
aging per drink? per year? on average?
digital-rubber 1 day ago 0 replies      
Articles with may, could, etc basically don't say anything else but,

'We want some attention for our article now, but do not shoot us if it turns out to be completely bogus. But if we were right, we want to be seen as awesome researchers, bringers of news etc'.

menssen 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is not a criticism of this study, but I do want to observe that "aging" has a very specific meaning here, and it does not really just mean "harmful."

Aging causes things in your body to fail.

Smoking, also, causes things in your body to fail, regardless of and unrelated to whether it causes "aging."

(Anecdotally, as a person who has gone both through periods of heavy soda [here in the midwest, "pop"] consumption and who has been a pack-a-day smoker, there are orders of magnitude of difference in the effects on general health.)

driverdan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't see anyone discussing that this is based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is all self-reported data meaning its accuracy isn't great. It's a decent way of looking for potential research topics but is in no way definitive.

Any papers coming from NHANES data should be considered pre-research. Real data on this topic will come from properly controlled studies.

e40 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about something like carbonated cranberry juice? I mix 1 part low-carb Trader Joe's cranberry juice and 4 parts carbonated water, and drink about 20 oz a day. When I first started, it tasted tart and not sweet. I don't think there's much sugar in it.

If it's as harmful, I'd definitely give it up.

john704944 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else seeing the website cut off at the bottom? There's no scroll bar, so I can't read beyond one screenfull.
waylandsmithers 2 days ago 0 replies      
All I want to know is if I can drink a diet coke a day with impunity.
novaleaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
clickbait title from TIME.

from tfa: > Only the sugary, bubbly stuff showed this effect. Epel didnt see any association between telomere length and diet soda intake.

Rovanion 2 days ago 1 reply      
What an odd website, does not allow scrolling if javascript isn't turned on.
ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wait is this the smoking gun to corn syrup?

Because "sugar sweetened sodas" don't exist or are rare, at least not in the USA. They are actually corn-syrup sweetened.

Especially since real sugar filled fruit juices did not have the same effect nor diet soda with no corn-syrup.

squozzer 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's funny but one never hears about the ill effects of carrots. "They" only study stuff that's already assumed to be bad for you. Ever wonder why?
Building Good Docker Images
274 points by jaswilder  3 days ago   66 comments top 21
WestCoastJustin 3 days ago 5 replies      
Google takes this a step further and creates single binary containers with the minimal OS bits needed [1, 2]. Personally, I think this is where we need to be headed vs running a full blown ubuntu/debian/centos OS inside the container. Three benefits, 1) no OS to manage eg. no apt-get update or configuration management, 2) container has less of an attack surface (think shellshock -- the container does not have bash, wget, curl, etc), 3) they are lightweight. The issue is that, how you do we (container creators) know the dependency tree for the app? Sure this might be easier for Go binaries, but what about complex apps like rails and mysql? It is a major pain to figure this out, so we just use an OS, and it takes all the thinking out of it.

Kelsey Hightower actually published something on this topic called "Building Docker Images for Static Go Binaries" [3].

[1] https://registry.hub.docker.com/u/google/nodejs-hello/

[2] https://github.com/thockin/serve_hostname

[3] https://medium.com/@kelseyhightower/optimizing-docker-images...

dockerhubby 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Docker hub is - after such a short time - an even darker place than the wordpress plugin registry and is already a source of security problems and a useless waste of bandwith, time and effort. Besides too many amateurs publishing BS, the real problem is that the company behind this is not taking responsibility to assure the quality of their containerized-app-store. This does not have to end in censorship, like our beloved Big Brother Apple does - some automated checks on each uploaded image could be a way to go plus a team of reviewers, that approves everything uploaded. Of course, the amount of information attached to any image currently is a joke, the whole hub is a one-day-of-work prototype that never should have been published in the first place in this premature state, but now its too late, so there is no other way than burning it down and restarting it with some more thinking before.

Much better concept would be: share layers, not images, based on verified base images with preinstalled saltstack. This effectively boils down to sharing good and up2date provisioning scripts.

There are some more conceptual problems with the whole docker idea that are rooted in a "need-to-productize-quick" infected thinking and do make everything seem immature and not really thought out - very basic problems that pop up with orchestration and networking should have been solved before releasing the product, now millions of half-assed "products" step into that gap and the result is a bizarr level of overcomplication of any infrastructure that was not possible before with virtualization alone, and still there are important things that "will be contributed in the future by somebody, hopefully".

Docker should not be a product itself with its own "market", but the basic docker ideas should be added to already existing concepts and inherit already existing infrastructure. The docker execution model should be a standard feature of any linux distribution with a standardized container modell (with some security added!) and the existing packaging infrastructure should be extended to handle what is needed to support it, including userspace updates and provisioning or on-the-fly rebuilds, so people can concentrate on writing provisioning scripts and not fighting another layer of system config BS. Getting rid of the VM is great, but building even more complicated overhead is totally absurd. Meanwhile something like Vagrant is a great thing to learn from.

ajdecon 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really think there are no good reasons to include build tools in a docker image. The author lists three possible reasons:

- you need a specific version (e.g. redis is pretty old in the Debian repositories).

- you need to compile with specific options.

- you will need to npm install (or equivalent) some modules which compile to binary.

But you can avoid all of these by building your own DEB/RPM packages and installing those into the container.

This might make the container less "whitebox", in that the Dockerfile no longer contains the full steps to reproduce the built image from public sources. But having an internal package repository makes a lot of sense, and not just for building small Docker images. Keeping your own package repository helps make your server builds more reproducible in general, and provides clean mechanisms for performing updates on your own software as well as third-party packages.

(edited for formatting)

jbergstroem 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is a case where gentoo can really shine. Although tooling might not be there just yet, the linux meta distribution allows you to build a strict set of dependencies based on what you need and nothing else. There's already been pretty successful attempts at this, such as https://github.com/edannenberg/gentoo-bb (63mb custom nginx sound ok to you?) or https://github.com/wking/dockerfile.

edit:To elaborate for people not very familiar with gentoo; it solves what a lot of the discussion in this thread seems to be about - having complete control of the dependency chain based on how you choose to build your software. Using nginx as an example, enabling mod_security would pull and build its own dependencies (which also can be limited based on its compiler options). Strip man pages? Done. Change libc library? No problem (if the packages support it).

The work that needs to be done is expanding the toolset to a point where you say "I want this in docker, plx" and anything else (dependencies disregarded) basically goes out the window. The current attempts builds upon a small set of packages for convenience then removes "safe" stuff. When time allows, I'd like to be much more aggressive in terms of what's considered safe.:edit

I'm personally also very interested in progrium's work with bundling busybox with opkg (https://github.com/progrium/busybox), but still think that docker containers should not be built from within - which why cross compiling from gentoo to create a minimal docker image is the way to go.

zokier 3 days ago 3 replies      
This gave me an (probably non-novel) idea: "double-layered" Docker image creation. One thing that rubs me the wrong way is how Docker images contain stuff like apt (and all the related supporting stuff) when they don't really need them (at runtime). On the other hand you need to install/compile/setup the environment somewhere, and relying on the host system would break any hopes of reproducibility.

To reconcile these issues I propose two-phased building of Docker image. First you setup a regular Docker image based on Debian or whatnot which contains all the tools you need to build/setup the application. Then inside that container you build the final image based on empty image (eg http://docs.docker.com/articles/baseimages/#creating-a-simpl... ), adding only the files that are really needed at runtime.

deeviant 3 days ago 5 replies      
Is minimizing the size of a docker image really the top priority?

I would hold that making docker images easy to use, transparent as possible, reliable, versatile and easy to use (did I mention that already? oops) are far more important priorities.

Admittedly, I use docker primarily for development/testing purposes and my use-cases are a bit different than the average production use-case, however, having a large toolbox easily accessible for me to use (yes, including the ability to ssh into the docker container) is invaluable to me.

I may be missing something here, but racing to make docker images "as small as possible" feels like a bit of premature optimisation.

pit 3 days ago 4 replies      
"Pin package versions" -- yes. One of the things that has been bugging me about Docker is that if you begin every Dockerfile with an `apt-get -y update`, you never know what you're going to end up with.

On the other hand, pinning every package that you install would end up being pretty verbose.

23david 3 days ago 2 replies      
One additional tip for readability is to replace the && with set -e at the top of any RUN commands that combine more than one command.


  RUN curl -SLO "http://nodejs.org/dist/v$NODE_VERSION/node-v$NODE_VERSION-linux-x64.tar.gz" \    && tar -xzf "node-v$NODE_VERSION-linux-x64.tar.gz" -C /usr/local --strip-components=1 \    && rm "node-v$NODE_VERSION-linux-x64.tar.gz"

  RUN set -e; \    curl -SLO "http://nodejs.org/dist/v$NODE_VERSION/node-v$NODE_VERSION-linux-x64.tar.gz"; \    tar -xzf "node-v$NODE_VERSION-linux-x64.tar.gz" -C /usr/local --strip-components=1; \    rm "node-v$NODE_VERSION-linux-x64.tar.gz

banmeagainplz 3 days ago 2 replies      
This patch is essential for creating minimal, best images with Docker. https://github.com/docker/docker/pull/8021
robinson-wall 3 days ago 1 reply      
Something the article doesn't touch on in its pursuit of a smaller image - when you run "apt-get install" or "apt-get upgrade" you should do "&& apt-get clean" in the same RUN command.

This will remove the .debs apt just downloaded and installed that are being cached in /var/cache/apt/archives, saving you a little disk space.

sudhi_xervmon 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great topic. I hope these docker image thingy gets a bit more mature and quickly.

i wanted to use public docker images and spin on it AWS and quickly use a sanity check/vet the app if it can be something I want to use internally or recommend for customers.

Realized there is nothing of such sort and started xdocker.io -- open source initiative.

Currently we support security monkey and ice (both from netflix).

Just love docker and learning quite a bit of tricks along the way.

This article just helps us to do our job better by following the best practices to build docker images.

I would also appreciate if experts on this can help us screen the docker files we have created and share the feedback with us.https://github.com/XDocker/Dockerfiles.

nickstinemates 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. It shows there's a bit to do in Docker to make transient data a bit more user friendly.

There are lots of proposal sitting in Github, it'd be great to get more feedback.

amouat 3 days ago 1 reply      
The author mentions a good image is a "whitebox" if it publishes its Dockerfile on the Hub. Unfortunately this isn't really enough; many (even most) Dockerfiles depend on scripts and data files which aren't hosted on the Hub.

I would suggest the only truly whitebox images are the ones that can be recreated from github (or similar) repositories.

driverdan 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Pin package versions

This is true for any packages you use, not just Docker. For example, rails gems. If you don't pin them your app will break at some point on an update. Always manually update packages and test before deploying.

thinkingkong 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lately we've been using shell scripts to do a lot of boiler-plate container preparation. We copy that script in and run it at the beginning of the container build. The nice thing about doing things this way is that you keep your Dockerfile a little cleaner, you end up with less layers, and that layer will only rebuild if you change the source file.
bradleyland 3 days ago 0 replies      
Curious if the sizes quoted Debian netinst vs Ubuntu server, or a standard Debian install vs Ubuntu server? We base all our installs (regular VMs, not Docker) off of Debian netinst because we get to choose exactly what goes on to the server.
ianlevesque 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Thus it seems that if you leave a file on disk between steps in your Dockerfile, the space will not be reclaimed when you delete the file."

This must be a bug? Why should it legitimately behave this way?

zenlikethat 3 days ago 0 replies      
OP makes a good point about buildpack-deps being quite huge. My only complaint about the official images is that they take a LONG time to pull.
tbronchain 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing such stuff. Too many images available today are just a pain in the ass to use!
rasur 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is Gold, if only for the info about temp/transitory files and resultant image size.
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Docker images are like if some high school kids decided to sell mass-produced beer. Instead of writing down a recipe with the ingredients, measurements, temperatures, elevation, times, and distributor-sourced quality-assured materials, the kids go to random stores and buy whatever they think they need to make beer in huuuuge quantities. They make huge batches of beer so that they won't need to make it again for months or years. Then the next time they brew a batch, the beer tastes completely different, they say, "Oh, we might need to write some of this stuff down, and make sure it was the same as last time."
Isaac Asimov Mulls How Do People Get New Ideas? (1959)
263 points by Dnguyen  3 days ago   49 comments top 16
sayemm 3 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs and how it detailed his many eccentric habits and behaviors early on before starting Apple... how he never took showers while working at Atari, his odd dietary habits, his daily wardrobe, etc. But that's why he was able to "think different"...

"A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)"

Also very good is Richard Hamming's "You and Your Research" talk - http://www.paulgraham.com/hamming.html

jjoe 3 days ago 6 replies      
Does this mean Reddit is a more auspicious environment for new ideas to flourish? HN is way too confined of a place for "foolishness", that Asimov sees as conductive, to be permitted without things going haywire.
dkarapetyan 3 days ago 1 reply      
> To feel guilty because one has not earned ones salary because one has not had a great idea is the surest way, it seems to me, of making it certain that no great idea will come in the next time either.

Feynman has a similar story about playing with ideas and just enjoying the process instead of worrying about the pressures associated with being great: https://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~kilcup/262/feynman.html.

ronilan 3 days ago 2 replies      
Very disappointing. The author seems ignorant of the entire science of Psychohistory. Since it is now possible to predict human development hundreds of years into the future no idea is really new anymore.
noproblemo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am reading a short story collection of Asimov compiled in a book called Gold.

The second half of the book contains extensive commentary by Asimov on how to write science fiction. He delves into a lot of topics like writing style, grammer, ideas and many other things.

There is a whole chapter on a how to generate a story from an idea and how to get the idea to start with. In it, he stresses on thinking. As in real, solid literal thinking, what we would normally call brainstorming. As a science fiction author, he says that the brainstorming is not something that he used to do in short bursts like someone would normally do. He writes that a science fiction author has to think to a point where her/his head starts aching, literally.

scobar 3 days ago 0 replies      
"If a single individual present is unsympathetic to the foolishness that would be bound to go on at such a session, the others would freeze. The unsympathetic individual may be a gold mine of information, but the harm he does will more than compensate for that. It seems necessary to me, then, that all people at a session be willing to sound foolish and listen to others sound foolish."

This is something I've always felt, but remained unable to express as well as Asimov did here. I'm so grateful for those with a gold mine of information who resist temptation toward arrogance and scornful correction, and instead show patience and joy in teaching the foolish.

legohead 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reading biographies about Einstein, I came to the conclusion that the man wasn't really a genius in the intellectual sense, but a genius when it came to ideas, and had the passion to pursue them.
genericone 3 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting idea here:

Draw from a pool of people who wish to be involved in cerebratory pursuits, and who are willing to accept and give ideas freely to others. Out of this pool, some combination of 4 or 5 individuals within the same geographical region can be drawn randomly from this group for cerebration sessions following a few Asimov Cerebration Guidelines (ACGs):

-"ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness."

-"short reports to write, or summaries of their conclusions, or brief answers to suggested problems, [and be paid for that]"

-"educate the participants in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts."

-"meeting in someones home or over a dinner table at some restaurant"

-"a session-arbiter will have to sit there, stirring up the animals, asking the shrewd question, making the necessary comment, bringing them gently back to the point."

After the session, the session can be given an evaluation by each of the participants:

A. did the session feel neutralized by any of the participants reputations?

B. was any insight gained?

C. was the session jovial?

I think I, as well as some others, would be interested in attending something like this if it could be organized well.

kumarharsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just last month, I finished reading "Magic", Asimov's collection of small witty stories, which were NOT SF, but Fantasy.

Although the stories themselves were quite mundane, what struck me as I somehow forced my way forward in the stories, was Asimov's clairvoyant tone while writing. Most of the things he wrote, even in apparent jest, hold true today.

And never have I been so enthralled by a bunch of essays as Asimov has done it... Reading his second momoir and many more essays underline his wisdom more and more.

anmonteiro90 3 days ago 0 replies      
A bit offtopic, but a necessary interpretation from my perspective is how the so-called "corporate culture" with all its dresscodes and formal manners doesn't promote the ascent of new ideas - Asimov even goes on to suggest they could actually come from an informal dinner, etc.

I'll be sure to save this one to read periodically. Thanks for the submission.

cantlin 3 days ago 0 replies      

   "It seems to me then that the purpose of cerebration sessions     is not to think up new ideas but to educate the participants     in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts."   
For me the best meetings, conferences and conversations are the ones that come closest to this description.

xsmasher 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Feynman's Rainbow" has a dialog on how to get new ideas, with some advice from Feynman. Chapter five I think.
pitchups 3 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested in this subject, highly recommend reading Steven Johnson's book "Where Good Ideas Come From".

To get a summary of the book you can also view his TED talk:


pm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't come to HN looking to generate new ideas. I come to be exposed to things I might potentially be interested in, and to learn from those who might know more than me. If I generate any new ideas at all, it's outside of the time I'm engaged here (when things have time to percolate and my focus isn't so narrow).
KhalilK 3 days ago 2 replies      
This reminded me of Bret Victor's great talk Inventing on Principle[0].


segmondy 3 days ago 1 reply      

You take an old idea, and you pull out all the variables and you start permuting upon them.

Vatican Library Puts 4,000 Ancient Manuscripts Available Online for Free
260 points by Shivetya  1 day ago   127 comments top 13
adriand 1 day ago 2 replies      
Absolutely incredible. Historical documents like this are priceless. I always get a chill when I look at stuff like this: these manuscripts give us the opportunity to "hear" from minds that vanished from this earth centuries ago.

Even if you can't read the text, there's something moving about seeing the painstaking and beautiful work that went into creating these. Those marks were made by a hand that has long since turned to dust... Made by someone who felt that what they had to communicate was vitally important to humanity.

sadfaceunread 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Can we change this link to the actual source? http://www.mss.vatlib.it/guii/scan/link.jsp

Or the Vatican library homepage or this tweet:https://twitter.com/vaticanlibrary/status/522270002012246016

valarauca1 23 hours ago 3 replies      
The Vatican is really a amazing piece of history in and of itself. Despite how you may personally feel about its religion, or the effects of it on the world. The enlightened western world we live in today would not exist without it, and without all the knowledge, art, and culture it (and its local branches) preserved for ~1000+ years.
netcan 23 hours ago 3 replies      
The Vatican is also turning to crowdfunding and is now seeking donations of 5o save a single page in a manuscript, while donations of at least 1,000 will see the backer included on the official supporters list

If they had literally put this on kickstarter, it would have been sureal.

sakri 1 day ago 3 replies      
That Aztec illustration!

I was a bit disappointed with all the mentions of "ancient" and the oldest thing on that page was 400 AD.

amass 19 hours ago 0 replies      
My university has a very similar digitized collection, albeit smaller. One common denominator with these types of online collections is software that leaves much to be desired. Accessing the collection and searching through it is usually very painful. I realize they are on a tight budget, but it is disappointing nonetheless. Maybe it would be a good open source project.
WalterBright 19 hours ago 3 replies      
> The Vatican is also still seeking funds to digitise the remaining 76,000 manuscripts, which it estimates will take more than 15 years, over 50m, and the efforts of more than 150 specialised experts.

What I'd do is do a quick pass over all the documents with a basic digital camera and store them as jpgs. Then, go back and do the painstaking, hi res scans.

I also worry about "FITS, the format developed by Nasa" for long term storage, as we all know what has happened to older Nasa storage formats and technologies. When I archive family pictures and stuff, I use jpg, for the simple reason of its ubiquity.

mmmm 1 day ago 5 replies      
Anyone know if it's ok to make profit out of these?

Think: Retouch and sell as a painting.

orionblastar 21 hours ago 1 reply      
At one point in time before we had universities, science and math research was done in monasteries. The Vatican paid for a lot of that research and education. So I assume they got a lot of books they collects or had written that they want to made free access to the public by digitizing them.

A lot of people have left the Catholic Church to go to Non-Denominational Churches, or else just became Atheists. So passing the hat around doesn't work as well as it used to.

Priests and Nuns take a vow of poverty, they are not spending the money on themselves. They use it for food panties, for homeless shelters, for healthcare, for education, and to pay their employees. A lot of times churches are in debt even if the people pledge to donate over a million dollars to the church, people don't always donate what they pledge or promise and many families even with good paying jobs just don't donate at all. There is nothing that forces people to donate 10% of their salary to a church, in fact most donate less than that. Some don't donate anything at all.

The documents won't rot away they are being taken care of and preserved. If there is not enough donations to digitize them, the world will have to go without them.

Just think this is a large collection of books from around the world that hasn't been seen since the Library of Alexandria. Books that were protected from the Nazis who wanted to burn them. Books that governments had wanted banned or censored. Books that brought about human advancement and civilization throughout history.

gdonelli 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there actually a website to see the digitized art works?
tempodox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Om nom, this is highly tasty. I hope one day all libraries will be accessible like that.
JoeAltmaier 1 day ago 5 replies      
They want to crowd-fund the digitizing of their own collection? A multi-billion-dollar outfit needs to pass the hat to keep their own house in order?
cristianpascu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah, people will only then know that Galilei was not actually burned or tortured for "proving" that the Earth is not the center of the Universe.
Y Combinator, a Two-Year-Old, and a Pregnant Wife
262 points by tadmilbourn  22 hours ago   139 comments top 30
aresant 21 hours ago 11 replies      
I love articles on this topic because they're uplifting and hopeful, I hate them because they are unrealistic.

Y-Combinator's expectation for start-ups is that they are to be "all-consuming" (1)

From Sam Altman's "Before the Startup":

"If you start a startup, it will take over your life to a degree you cannot imagine. And if your startup succeeds, it will take over your life for a long time: for several years at the very least, maybe for a decade, maybe for the rest of your working life. So there is a real opportunity cost here."

In my personal experience start-ups are terrible for young families.

If you expect to have a balanced-family-life and still also out-work / out-hustle 20-year olds or 40+ year olds (older kids) that are out for your blood you are setting yourself up for failure.

I've been through this exact grind with young children born 18-months apart and you are FORCED to choose.

That uninterruptable family dinner?

Wait until an investor flys in to SFO unexpectedly and wants to go out on the town.

Being around for more of the "little things?

Wait until you are forced to marginalize the importance of being there on your kid's actual "birthday" because heck, you'll be at the birthday party this weekend and you need to be in Dallas for a sales meeting.

I am writing those two anecdotes from my own personal experience.

Working up on start-up #XX with plenty of success under my belt, pre-set expectations that I'm going to do this "balance" now, etc.

It's unrealistic, and I have been forced to choose my start-up and my team over my family to succeed, and it sucks.

But that's my path, and that of many others here.

I have incredible respect for anybody juggling y-combinator, a working spouse, and two kids.

But you have to be made of steel to undertake this path and look at the sacrifices you will make as a husband and father in the eye.

(1) http://www.paulgraham.com/before.html

aepearson 20 hours ago 8 replies      
As a father of two - articles like this come off as incredibly pretentious and I have a really hard time even finishing them.

I feel like so many in the "startup" culture are completely trapped in an imaginary bubble that literally means jack shit to anyone outside it.

You aren't changing the world out there...you're building business.

You are a father and a husband making a conscious adult decision to put work over your family...writing this little "how-to" article does not somehow make you immune to that reality. Venting your elitist self-serving views to the general public does not make you any less irresponsible, much less some sort of "leader".

"From 5:30pm-8:30pm, Im not a startup CEO. Im a dad." <- That statement right there pretty much illustrates my point.

No amount of money will ever replace what you're missing out on at home - I guess you'll have to figure that out on your own though. Hopefully your wife and children will give you back the same 1/8th of their time and focus that you give them.

DigitalSea 21 hours ago 3 replies      
In a few short months I am about to become a dad myself, our first child. I am currently trying to get a startup off of the ground and it is refreshing to read other people have, can and currently are doing it. Based on what I read, it seems Tad has his head screwed on.

Missing the wanky networking events, hackathons and realising that it is a fallacy the more hours you put in, the more work you get out. This has been proven time and time again, we are all human and we all have that point where our brains switch off and stop absorbing information. Putting in excessive hours does not give you any kind of advantage, when people are happy and refreshed, they are productive. How many times have you stayed back working on a complex problem, only to go home late without solving the problem, to come in the following morning and fix the issue in 15 minutes? It has happened to me more times over the years than I could count.

I have had numerous chats with my wife about how it will all work. She does not work in tech and will be a stay at home mother, but we have already laid the groundwork for how things will work. I want to be there for my child, a child is forever, a startup has such a small chance of succeeding long-term. Setting boundaries and being there for dinners and night time tuck-ins are essential to a happy family.

For me, the weekdays will be for work and startup life with a set boundary of a couple of hours for dinner and after for spending time with my child. The weekends will be mostly off limits to spend time going out and doing fun family stuff, picnics, going to the pool, arts/crafts, watching movies and spending quality time with my family. Make your time count, do not let your children grow up remembering you as always being on the computer, especially if your startup ambitions pass you by, all you have left is your family. Weekdays should be for work, not weekends.

The challenges my wife and I will face drastically differ from those that Tad and his wife experience on a daily basis, but I think the core principles of being there for your children regardless of your arrangement are universally important for any would-be entrepreneur, small business owner or startup founder to remember. We live in a technology enabled world so much so, even when you step away from a computer screen, your smartphone is just within arms reach and it can be all too easy to open up your email and get just as absorbed in work as you can on a computer. It can be incredibly hard to turn off work mode and relish the time you have for the more important and rewarding things in life.

I think incubators like Y Combinator should honestly do more to encourage healthy family life in the land of startups. Instead of pushing founders to drive themselves and their teams into the ground to get a paltry $50k or whatever, the culture needs to be changed at the root of the source. This fallacy that you need to invest 19+ hours a day into a startup early on to succeed is unhealthy. I do not know where it originated from, but I know that it has not always been like this. When entrepreneurs in the 40's and 50's were starting businesses, I know for a fact most people were not investing 19 hours a day into their ideas, technology seems to have removed not only barriers, but also boundaries and morals as well.

There is not one single definitive way to run and operate a startup. We are all different, but because of an accepted culture of overtime perpetuated in the late 80's and 90's especially, everyone in the tech industry has mostly come to accept that overtime is a way of life and to succeed you need to put in excessive and unrealistic hours. It is time to change the tide.

I think the one takeaway from this article everyone should take, even if you are not trying to run a startup or business, is to make time for the ones that need you the most. When all is said and done, family is the only constant you will have in your life. Jobs come and go, startups fail and succeed and friends come and go, family are always there. This means instead of going to after work drinks or accepting a culture of overtime in your current workplace, knowing when to draw the line and put what matters first, first: family. Not only family, but ensuring that you see friends, go and do activities like visit a theme park, go to the zoo or even a short hike through your local park. Remind yourself when time and priorities permit that there is more to life than work.

Great article.

scald 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I can relate. My wife and 2 toddlers were 12 hours away for 4 months while I did an accelerator this Summer. I saw them about a week a month.

Guys like us are in the minority. A lot of people told me I'm nuts for putting my family on the back burner to chase this dream. I told myself I wasn't going to let work come ahead of them, but yeah, I put them on the back burner for 4 months. At times it felt nuts. My kids are growing up fast and I'm working 18 hours a day across the country. Some days, it took immense amounts of willpower to not jump on a plane and dip out.

I used the military analogy with my wife when she complained. Hell, how many guys went over to Afghanistan for months without seeing their families? A lot of them never came back. A ton more risk, for what? Priority boarding and discounts on oil changes? (I have a ton of respect for those guys, and no, they don't do it for perks or respect.) Compared to that, I'd say the upside of this opportunity is what they call once in a lifetime.

But in reality, a lot of those folks didn't really have better options. I could make a good living as a developer if I wanted to. If I'm honest, doing this startup thing with a family requires me to be pretty selfish most of the time. But selfish in a good, weird way - working 80 hours a week so someday I don't have to work 40, so I can take my wife and kids to Hawaii for the summer someday, or whatever.

Luckily for us, the experience of the accelerator was worth every pain point. It probably only gets harder from here. Now I'm back with the family, with a (soon to be) funded company, and will have to make those tough juggling decisions on a daily basis. It's all about finding boundaries and balance.

Off to pick my kids up from daycare...

Tyrannosaurs 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The thing which I always see missing from these descriptions is the persons other half.

The usual logic runs - from 8am to 6pm I'm at work. From 6pm to 8.30pm I'm dad (or mum but realistically it's usually Dad). Once the kids are back in bed I get back on to e-mail, catch up with what I've missed and start planning the next day.

That's great - you've covered work and your kids/family as a whole, but where are you fitting in time just as a couple? I'm not talking about weekends away or big nights out (though those are tough enough), I'm talking about just fitting in time to talk and catch up and remember why (and indeed that) you like each other.

For me that's the toughest one. You or your other half can find time on your own - that's easy, the other one takes the kids. Time as a family is always a default for any spare time because guilt drives you towards your kids. The tough one is time as a couple because it's the one that by default comes after everything else and is therefore the first one to get squeezed.

ryanSrich 21 hours ago 5 replies      
Interesting article. I guess I don't quite connect with it because I feel like the challenge, by far and away, would be financial, not social.

Living with someone and being married to them requires an intimate understanding of who they are as a person. Being able to work through those hard times is something I can do. Being able to make the hard decisions is something I can do.

Being able to go without a salary for 4 years, own a house, provide for a family, and work on a startup is something I couldn't do. In fact no one talks about this. I suspect many founders are either:

a. working on their second startup and have a huge bank account full of cash from a pervious exit

b. come from an extremely wealthy family where money has no effect on their decisions

c. are in fact paying themselves a salary (and hiding it from investors?)

d. have a significant other that can support the entire family

dominotw 21 hours ago 7 replies      
What is this strange bizarre heroism around having kids? I don't get what the big deal is. People have been reproducing for thousands of years without writing self eulogizing blogs about how heroic they are. Have kids if you want to or don't, you are not some kind of martyr for reproducing.

I've seen women who go to do hard labor in rice fields the following day of giving birth, its business as usual.

CodeJackalope 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I went through this journey with Tad. Not having a kid myself it's been amazing to learn about the demands of starting a family while simultaneously getting overwhelmed by the challenges of a growing startup.

As Tad mentioned communication has definitely been the key. And often situations where Tad or Kyle's parenting demands seemed like an inconvenience to Tiempo have actually helped remind us all why we are doing this crazy adventure. And we come back swinging even harder the next day.

So kudos to all you startup parents out there. It's a tough road but I'm confident you and your family are going to come out stronger for the journey!

comlonq 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Jesus christ man - all of this sacrifice for a time sheet application? Is it really worth it?
nkozyra 15 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the biggest misconception in the startup world is that there is a 1:1 relationship with the unquantifiable "hustle" and time spent in front of a computer.

Long story short from me: a few years back my company was courted by one of the big guys. We had a staff of four and immediately thought "this is it." They asked a lot of us in this "discovery" process, and I was routinely working 18 hour days, and my productivity dipped further with each day. As I clamored to work more and therefore "get more done," I ended up getting less done than ever.

The deal fell through but not due to not coming through for them.

Fast forward to last year when my wife and I had our first kid. It's an immediate hit to your flexibility. For the first few months I felt helpless, I wanted to work all day long but I was exhausted. The more I tried to sneak work in, the less I got done, the grumpier I was and the less time I enjoyed with my family.

It took months, but I realized that productivity in limited time is about efficiency and delegation. It's about finding what time-consuming responsibilities can be handled by others (either through charity or payment), it's about reducing recreation (or scheduling it for a certain time).

I spend less time working now than I did when "hustling," but I get more done. When I sit down in the morning it is time to go. I don't check Facebook when I work. I don't go out to lunch, unless I'm meeting someone.

Hustling is about effort, not time invested. Don't fall into the trap that says you can't beat someone with more time to spend on something, you just have to work that much smarter.

It's a mistake to call it "balance," it's really about efficiency. Don't waste your time with your family and don't waste your time with your company - and finally: know that most people do waste time.

tadmilbourn 21 hours ago 0 replies      
My thoughts on ways to balance the needs of a growing startup with the needs of a growing family. Would love to know what others in similar situations have tried. What's worked? What hasn't?
stevewepay 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm at a YC startup, and our culture is very much to not have late nights, work people to death, etc. The belief here is that working people to the bone does not build a scalable business, and the only way to grow at a sustainable pace is to maintain regular work hours, have realistic goals in terms of work, and to give people a life outside of work. Sure, we all monitor our emails on our phones, and on occasion we need to work a little extra, this is still Silicon Valley. But many people here have young families, and the office is pretty empty by 6:00pm.
reshambabble 18 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my favorite things about this article is it's a dad (with a spouse who also works), talking about how important his family is to him and his struggles to have both family and work (AKA "having it all" when some women talk about the same thing). It's refreshing, because it shows that wanting to be both a caregiver and a breadmaker for your family isn't just a women's issue. I wish more articles would come out like this.
JoseVigil 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I am married with a seven years old beautiful boy.

The hardest part for me during these years of entrepreneurship have been the hassle of not giving enough financial resources to my family and instead putting money blindly into the company and project. In an "early" stage is likely and inevitable waste and mislead of money without exception.

That, in my opinion is the hardest part of all aside from the time spent and the amount of love given mentioned. Personal elections and freedom of choice is cool but when the live style of your family is affected turns cumbersome and contradictory. I can tell a lot about that.

Furthermore if the project fails, most of the time do, that money is gone and gone for the family too. Of course we all know that the experience pays off and the longer term economy will be much better, but at last.

During the journey, your mind plays tricks that opposes completely to a family type of thinking of saving and caring about moving money to and for the family.

Thats life, and part of the freedom of being moved by dreams and vision.

curiousDog 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who is single and works as a programmer at a Big 4 and still struggles to make time for social life, would be nic e to see a write-up like this from an engineer. From what I've experienced, if you're coding day-day on high pressure projects, keeping tight-schedules like this is damn near impossible.
stevewilhelm 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Fast forward four years from now.

Parent teacher conferences, AYSO, play dates, music lessons, September flu & strep throat, recitals, Y Adventure Guides, homework, walking the puppy, Gilroy Gardens...

Balance that with board meeting prep, sales road trips, recruiting, fund raising, OKRs, product reviews, hack-a-thons, conferences...

Good luck my friend.

idlewords 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"One advantage startups have over established companies is that there are no discrimination laws about starting businesses. For example, I would be reluctant to start a startup with a woman who had small children, or was likely to have them soon." - Paul Graham
bernardlunn 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Beautifully articulated and I believe that the balance is hard but possible. It is of course easier to succeed in business if you ignore your family (and your health and your sanity), but that would certainly be a Pyrrhic victory.
chuckcode 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised about the number of judgemental posts and lack of real world approaches to help manage a classic resource allocation problem.

We are all balancing priorities where we want to spend our time (and high quality time) between work, friends, family, hobbies etc. We can choose to do fewer things and we can try to be more efficient in the things we choose to do. What are approaches that HN has found useful to help do either?

Personally I like some of Tad's approaches to set expectations and balance two things that are obviously very important to him. Shared google calendar and asana todo lists can certainly help communication with family and work but I haven't found anything that substitutes for spending 1:1 time with the toddler...

ryanmarsh 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to know how he paid his mortgage while in YC. We're a single income family. My co-founder is single and his financial liabilities are nearly zero (he's a minimalist) so he could make it work. Do you just burn savings?

Lastly, what if you lost all of your savings in your previous startup? asking for a friend ;)

imranq 20 hours ago 0 replies      
For some reason there is this myth propagating across SV that less sleep = more productivity... the fact is that if you get half the sleep you are supposed to, your work is not going to be 1/2 as good. It is going to be 1/100ths as good. Not a great position to have your "life's work" in.

That said, I admire this guy and his tenacity to work hard and smart.

As you can tell, I read a lot of DHH's stuff :), particularly this talk: http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2351

foobarian 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Every now and then you see young people be advised to do X "now, before they have a wife/family/mortgage." X can be a startup, getting a PhD, trip around the world, etc.My view is that doing things differently is biting off more than one can chew and is selfish. Having done a brutal Ph.D. I cannot begin to imagine having had a child atthe same time, and the irreversible damage to the kid / opportunity loss / regret that would have resulted in.

Of course if you can make it work and live with yourself, more power to you. :)

belorn 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see two articles on the same subject posted with about a week between, one about being a "mom" in Y Combinator (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8456258), and this one about being a "dad" in Y Combinator.
lynnah 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Great topic. So important. I found this book super useful. http://www.stonyfield.com/blog/for-better-or-for-work-a-surv...
simi_ 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I read the title and realise I'm in the exact same situation: I have a wife, a 2nd year-old son, and my wife is 5 months pregnant. And tomorrow my startup finds out whether we got into YC W15!
dirtyaura 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Do you have more blog posts about Tiempo on the site? The site doesn't offer a link to a blog. I'd love to read how you guys are doing business-wise as we are doing something related but tangential.
Animats 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Y-Combinator's expectation for start-ups is that they are to be "all-consuming"

Yes. If your wife is pregnant, she's expected to have an abortion so she can concentrate on the business.

karlaugsten 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I cant help but think of Erlich Bachman's 'Aviato' when I hear 'Tiempo'.
tadmilbourn 21 hours ago 0 replies      
No one forced me to do a startup. No one forced me to have a kid. Those were my choices. And as a result, I'm in a situation that requires a lot of compromise.

I think there are many others in this situation, but it doesn't get talked about all that often.

My intent with the post was to share the things I've learned that have helped in the hope that they'll help others.

I'm not complaining about my life. In fact, I'm quite happy. Very happy. But that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't share my decision making process for others to potentially benefit.

tytytytytyty 19 hours ago 1 reply      

Yet another business graduate in "Computer Software"... sigh...

This is why YComb is a damn joke.

Fastsocket A highly scalable socket for Linux
255 points by nicolast  2 days ago   43 comments top 7
bscanlan 1 day ago 4 replies      
The performance data looks interesting, but this is work based on a pretty old kernel (originally released in 2010 or so). There have been many changes and improvements added to the 3.x kernel that may overlap with this work. Publishing the code and details on github is great, but working with the kernel community and merging into the mainstream kernel is the only way for work like this to have a long-term meaningful existence - Google in particular have been doing a great job getting networking improvements in.

That said, it's interesting to have this kind of thing come out of large-scale production web environments in China.

edsiper2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like its based on 2.6.32 series. I would hope they start working with the upstream Kernel otherwise this project will stay stuck in Limbo as previous initiatives to improve TCP handling at kernel level (e.g: Megapipe).

This version do not support TCP_FASTOPEN, SO_REUSEPORT, TCP_AUTOCORKING, etc.

crazydoggers 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why would the evaluation charts look the way they do?


The "before and after" CPU series have nearly the same exact fit. If the data was from separate 24 hour periods, wouldn't you expect the graphs to look different? I recognize that with a large service, you'd get repetitive load patterns, but the similarity here look a little extreme.

Sir_Cmpwn 2 days ago 3 replies      
Is this being considered for merging upstream? What's the tech behind it, what makes it faster?
theyoungestgun 1 day ago 0 replies      
Better yet - avoid the kernel altogether!

Onload + Solarflare is a wonderful thing.

sandGorgon 1 day ago 2 replies      
does this occupy the same functional space as zeromq or nanomsg ? are there any comparisons?
haosdent 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great job!
Mark Zuckerberg Answers Q&A in Mandarin at Chinese University
246 points by patangay  1 day ago   174 comments top 34
csa 1 day ago 4 replies      
A review of his Mandarin based on a close listen of the first 5 minutes of the video and listening to the rest in the background while I type this (let me know if it changes later):

tl;dr - Definitely ILR 1+, probably an ILR 2. Pronunciation needs a ton of work, but that's not the only aspect that is measured when analyzing speech. The foreign policy article (linked in another comment) is overly critical, imho.



He's definitely at least an ILR 1+. He shows signs of ILR 2 characteristics (and is probably an ILR 2), but it's hard to tell if he can sustain them in a wide range of contexts. While his pronunciation needs A LOT of work, the language itself is comprehensible to a sympathetic native listener. I strongly disagree with the Foreign Policy article that says it was "terrible". I would say that it's actually kind of amazing given that he's the CEO of a huge company. I would roughly say that he is on par with a good / above average 3rd year student at a school with a really good Chinese program. The original article says 2nd year, but this would be a superstar 2nd year student who was either a heritage speaker or had spent a lot of time in China (e.g., as a homestay or study abroad).


He is able to sustain the dialogue for a long time. He is able to circumlocute decently (this really opens up the ability to communicate), but I would really like to see his range of circumlocution. He is able to string together his sentences in moderately cohesive paragraphs. He does not demonstrate the ability to combine paragraphs cohesively at a high level (signs of an ILR 3), but I don't think the tasks really required it.

His style of answering questions was very American -- very direct. I don't think that a Chinese speaker who has lived exclusively in China (i.e., not educated or trained in the "West") would answer the same questions similarly. In this case, I actually think that it's best for him to answer in an American way even if he could answer in a Chinese style, but that's a different and longer discussion.

Early on when he tells the story of his wife and her grandmother, he really comes across as quite charming.


He does decently enough. There are errors, but it's not hard to understand what he is saying -- especially for a sympathetic native listener. The sample didn't really demonstrate a wide range of grammar, but the tasks didn't necessarily require a wide range. He is able to say complex sentences (i.e., two independent clauses), and he is able to speak in different timeframes (normally tenses, but Chinese tenses are not like English). This all points to a solid ILR 2, but grammar is definitely not the toughest part of Mandarin.


He has a decent vocabulary -- it's solid for the task. I wonder what his vocabulary is like outside of the topics of personal bio information, Facebook, and Facebook business. If he wants to get to ILR 2+ or ILR 3, he will need to work on the accuracy and diversity of his vocabulary.


This is easily his weakest point. He has a HEAVY American accent. He mispronounces a lot of words. His tones are WAY off. He seems completely unable to say English loan words in Chinese (e.g., Facebook, Google, etc.). It's actually kind of hard to listen to. That being said, I would say that it is all comprehensible to a sympathetic native listener.


Overall, really good for someone who is not studying full time and has a very involved full time job. I wonder how much of it was practiced or rehearsed -- a lot of the questions are ones that he definitely _should_ practice (e.g., the story about why he started studying Chinese), since they are standard questions that would be asked to him and/or the Facebook CEO. Regardless, speaking in a foreign language to a large group of people is not easy, and he came across really well.


He can work on his pronunciation in several ways:

- Listen more. Even if it's on in the background, it will help. Right now, I don't think he has a good intuitive sense when he is mispronouncing a word.

- When working with a teacher, do lower level language tasks, and act like a native speaker whose voice/accent he likes. Research suggests that this lowers affective filters for pronunciation.

- Work with suprasegmentals with a pronunciation program that visualize what he's saying. It can be enlightening.

- Practice over pronouncing words. If he does what he perceives as a "caricature" of pronouncing the word, he will probably be closer to accurate.

Other than that, listen more, read more, and I think he will become a rock-solid ILR 2 with room for growth if he wants it.

That's my quick-and-dirty. I am very interested in the informed opinions of others.

ezequiel-garzon 1 day ago 4 replies      
Even if Zuckerberg's main motivation was to learn his wife's language, I believe this will effectively raise the bar for CEOs in the years ahead. I wouldn't be surprised if this seemingly unnecessary skill could signify new business opportunities for large corporations.
westiseast 1 day ago 5 replies      
Gonna be a bit of a douche, but...

Why do we go googoogaga over an English speaker learning a foreign language to a competent level, when this is something millions of people do regularly? Mark isn't the first person to learn a language in the middle of a busy job and life schedule.

Doucheness not quite over - it's a big achievement, yeah, but Chinese isn't actually that hard, it's a bit of a myth perpetuated because (a) there's not enough people learning it (b) a lot of teachers are quite shit in my experience (c) hand writing is difficult. in reality spoken Chinese is very simple, grammar is easy, common vocabulary is easily learnt and repeated frequently....

bobjordan 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've lived in China 5 years now and our skill levels are comparable so I'm pretty impressed. It's really just basic conversation but the Chinese people will love him for getting this far with it. This along with move to join Tsinghua board will create massive goodwill for FB.
talltofu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Highly impressed. I used to brush him off as just another wunderkind who got lucky. In retrospect, his business acumen, especially when acquiring Instagram for a then pricely sum of a billion dollars has made me realize that he truly is special.
thoughtpalette 1 day ago 4 replies      
Regardless of his technical achievements, learning a second language ( and such disconnected one ) is super impressive. Great job.
mikepalmer 1 day ago 1 reply      
The guy just seriously raised the bar for qualification as a "scrappy founder"! This will be widely replayed in China, he will be 2x the rock star that he already is. Maybe he can Jack Ma can do English/Chinese practice together online?
pyrmont 1 day ago 1 reply      
Appraisal of the quality of Zuckerberg's Mandarin: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/10/22/mark_zuckerbe...
rmason 1 day ago 2 replies      
Guess the self study has gone well. It appears that he struggles at times but never reverts to English. Betting this video will be widely shared in China.
0x0 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is Facebook blocked in China these days? It used to be. Must be weird to be there representing a blocked company.
mastermojo 1 day ago 4 replies      
his tones are off, but he has a pretty impressive vocabulary
2D 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think he is very sincere in his motivation to learn Chinese and its brave to get up there because to us he sounds pretty foreign. People laughed because it's endearing to listen to, not really funny. To me languages are a lot like programming in that if you can get enough to hack around the problem you are half way there. Honestly its not about the $, because if you speak Chinese it doesn't make you Chinese in a Chinese's eyes, just curious and disciplined.

Just want to add that when I started learning Chinese people made it out like some impossible dream, and when I started to learn to code it was the same (maybe because I have long blonde hair and look like I'm from Florida or something). Truth is its not as hard as you think to become ok, but very hard to master. So if you are reading this and you ever thought seriously about studying Chinese but "don't have the time"... well, Mark makes time, and if you're reading HN regularly then you are definitely smart enough :)

drakeballew 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a working translation of Zuck's Q&A at Tsinghua. Hope it helps those of you who are curious about what was said!


anusinha 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it is also worth nothing that Zuckerberg is (perhaps was?) quite talented at Latin and nearly went on to study Classics at Harvard.
clueless123 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ohh sh!#$, now my mother-in-law is going to expect me to do the same!! :
elwell 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can see a surprisingly small bone conduction transducer behind his right ear at 5:13. I assume he's just repeating what he's being told.

No, I'm kidding, but this is impressive.

cvg 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. - Nelson Mandela
Pierrrrrrre 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was expecting something very impressive when I started the video, annnnnnd... nope. The interviewer speaks to him like he's a little boy (I know, this is the same pace my Chinese teacher was using in my classroom for the first 2-3 months).

And I agree with a lot of comments here: a foreigner speaking fluent English seems normal, yet an American babbling in Chinese seems outstanding...

EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Chinese is considered a hard language to learn for Westerners. As a fellow founder I find this really impressive.
cauliturtle 1 day ago 1 reply      
Jack Ma speaks fluent English, Mark speaks . I think it is all about business & $.
foobarqux 1 day ago 1 reply      
What is the best way to learn Mandarin?
LeoPanthera 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there a version with English subtitles?
mikek 1 day ago 3 replies      
Would someone please translate the jokes?
leoncrutchley 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know how he did it?
verroq 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find it highly ironic that he's giving a talk there, when China's blocking his site.
thomasfl 1 day ago 1 reply      
chj 1 day ago 0 replies      
onewaystreet 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just like Japan.
martythemaniak 1 day ago 0 replies      
His wife is American.
remyp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Then why are there people in this same thread stating that his vocabulary is impressive? Do you have a source for this claim?
higherpurpose 1 day ago 2 replies      
A German professor once told me German is actually harder to learn than Chinese.
SpaceManNabs 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't know why people keep saying that this is very impressive unless he was learning Chinese as he was also running Facebook. His tones and grammar still need a good amount of work. I feel like I am not getting the impact since I go to a university were 15% (very rough estimate) of the student body take four years of Chinese in about 2 years (all languages are compressed to 2 years at Princeton).

edit: After reading more comments, I understand that it is rare, but I can't say it is a much more significant achievement than if he learned another language such as German or Arabic.

sytelus 1 day ago 2 replies      
What surprises the most that he is able to distinguish sounds that are effectively all same for most non-Chinese people. Research says our ability to distinguish sounds in other languages ceases after first 8 months and that's why it's harder to understand someone talking in foreign language.

Did Zuck had any exposure to Chinese as a kid? Any info on how he learned Chinese? My guess is that he probably decided to talk with wife and relatives only Chinese for a long period of time. According to many this is the best way to learn new language (as opposed to passively watching videos and audio tapes). Another guess is that he may have some really top Chinese teacher giving few hours of tuition per week.

jamesdutc 1 day ago 4 replies      
I wish the exoticising of the East would just go away. This mystique associated upon the Chinese language is horribly old-fashioned. It comes up far too often (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7624342)

Of course, we should always encourage ourselves and others to learn foreign languages, even if only to dabble.

Unfortunately, this is just gimmick, and bad gimmick at that. Compare to a completely normalised (and far more impressive!!) display of Chinese-language skill. It's implied that they're mostly housewives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5na5nHZsww#t=5m30s

Virginia Police Have Been Stockpiling Private Phone Records
240 points by driverdan  4 days ago   50 comments top 6
dmix 3 days ago 4 replies      
There are police "fusion centers" all over the US doing similar data acquisition. The DHS is not only militarizing local police forces, they are turning them into mini-intelligence agencies.

I highly recommend reading this investigation by a redditor into Fusion centers:


pdabbadabba 3 days ago 3 replies      
I find this creepy, but I'm not sure I'm seeing what's so interesting about it. Various police departments within a discrete area of Virginia (and who, I'm sure, often coordinate in other totally legitimate ways) are simply sharing information that they have obtained through supposedly legal processes.

I for one am completely fine with law enforcement agencies sharing evidence that they have lawfully obtained (and they do this routinely with, e.g., the NCIS fingerprint database). That law enforcement agencies around the country do this with other information, including phone records, in so-called "fusion centers" was, I thought, already widely known. Is this somehow different?

Of course, here, there is good reason to be concerned about the way that many of the records have been obtained, and certainly this revelation provides further illustration of the unsettling ways that law enforcement can use phone records. Accordingly, it provides further reason to scrutinize the original collection of those records. But is there reason to think that this sharing is illegal in itself?

Balgair 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, looking at my state's centers (as linked in another comment) they all look pretty benign. Like, just regular inter-agency communications. But after reading the WIRED article, it seems much worse than that. Assuming that you buy that the NSA needs to look at my texts to my wife about buying milk for national security, that the local cops need to beggars belief. Especially when they are elected officials and fellow citizens that are here to enforce laws and public safety. Are drug dealers and bored teenagers THAT big of a threat? How can I relate to the local constabulary at the PTA meeting when they know all my private medical issues and marital problems? The power differential is too great.
room505 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Washington Post has detailed information on the States.Here's Virginia:http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/states...
trhway 3 days ago 2 replies      
i somehow feel that all the attempts to legally regulate/restrict the data gathering by government is like an attempt to board a train that has already left the station - just a mental refusal to accept new reality. World has changed (or has been disrupted in SV lingo). We have to adapt to new conditions. Just like taxi cabs and regulators have to adapt to Uber/AirBnb, we have to adapt to NSA/Palantir.
higherpurpose 3 days ago 1 reply      
Even the police is becoming a mini-NSA now. The worst part is they are encouraged to do this from the top-down (DHS, FBI, DOJ).
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