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Be My Eyes Lend your eyes to the blind
points by khebbie  4 days ago   160 comments top 41
mwcampbell 4 days ago 16 replies      
Nice idea, but I think it would be better if it were commercial, with the blind user paying, the sighted helper getting paid, and the app developers getting a cut. The payment could be by the minute. I think the general public will be more inclined to treat blind people as equals if we demolish the notion that blind people require charity.

Addendum: Lest anyone think I'm talking out of my ass, here's a blog post from a blind programmer who previously had the idea of doing something like this as a business. Unfortunately, it looks like he abandoned that project, since the home page now redirects to something else.


ejstronge 4 days ago 1 reply      
Oddly relevant - a This American Life episode recently explored whether cultural expectations of blind individuals' abilities have been detrimental[1].

1. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/544/b...

ikt 4 days ago 4 replies      
My only question is how do you handle trolls, idiots, abuse etc?

What happens if for example 4chan decides to 'raid' your app and direct blind people into unfortunate situations. I must admit it's a very low act but that's my only real thought about this.

If abuse wasn't a possibility I think the app is 100% amazing.

walterbell 3 days ago 0 replies      
What the industry needs is OPEN training data for image and voice recognition, which can be annotated by human volunteers and used to improve new algos. This data can be hosted by archive.org under a permissive license.

For example, there is a commercial service in the "visual search" space which has been around for a few years, which uses a combination of algos and human employees. It is available as an API and app (8 cents per picture, or $10 per month unlimited).

"Besides CamFind, the Image Searcher, Inc. team also created TapTapSee, which is a similar app for the blind and visually impaired. It uses image recognition technology with photos taken on your smartphone and then a voice actually speaks the results. This earned the team an Access Award just one week ago from the American Foundation for the Blind", http://www.builtinla.com/blog/camfind-brings-visual-search-y...

An AFB review from 2013 (at that time the app was free), http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw140704

How much faster could this research area have moved if the collected data was open? What if Facebook/Instagram decided to contribute in some manner, given their large database of photos and tags?

rdez6173 3 days ago 3 replies      
I find the thought of communicating directly with someone a bit anxiety-inducing, but I would really love to volunteer for something like this.

I would be happy to transcribe a letter, or product expiry date so that I could be read back to the user with text-to-speech in real-time.

I suspect that I'm in the minority and this is likely a non-issue.

TeMPOraL 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the little I talked with blind people, I think this could be a great solution for shopping. People I talked with said that crossing streets or moving around ain't big problem for them, but one of their biggest pain points are grocery stores. More and more, Mom&Pop stores are replaced by network supermarkets, in which you need to search for the product yourself instead of asking for it, and employees are often not prepared/willing to help a blind customer. This app could help a lot here.
rlpb 4 days ago 2 replies      
Are there any legal consequences if a blind person is helped crossing the street and gets hit by a car?
leapius 3 days ago 1 reply      
If only there was an Android version I'd be on it right now. In fact I think it would actually be quite an enjoyable past time answering requests, especially for lonely people.

Think about how interesting it would be to help out a complete stranger from anywhere in the world. I think it would become quite addicting.

khebbie 4 days ago 3 replies      
I am part of the team who created the app and api.

Many blind users use the voice over feature built into ios as @rgoodwintx mentioned.

greggman 2 days ago 0 replies      
After listening to the latest This American Life the first thing that occurs to me is though the intentions of this are good and their are some good uses for it this might have unintended consequences

The EP of This American Life is that basically with a little practice most blind people can learn to see with echolocation. Yes I know it sounds incredible but listen to the episode. The TL;DL version would be

(1) blind people can learn to echolocate

(2) MRI scans prove they are actually seeing, no colors but shapes

(3) People that could see but then went blind and learned to echolocate confirm they can see.

(4) The fact that most people think blind people can't do anything and need and then offer so much help prevents most blind people from learning to echolocate and start seeing.

don't shoot the messenger.


joshdance 4 days ago 5 replies      
This is my lack of experience, but how does a blind person launch the app and find the correct button to push? I have toyed around with the Accessibility Features on the iPhone, is there a mode that will speak out what you are tapping on?
yawz 4 days ago 1 reply      
Could someone who has used the app tell us about the real-life experience please?
Cieplak 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of http://pornfortheblind.org/ nsfw) which is a service where people watch and narrate videos for blind people.
thret 3 days ago 0 replies      
It might be nice if your SO/parent/etc could get first priority, and then outsource if they are not available. That way couples could use the app for their own convenience too.
fredley 3 days ago 0 replies      
I watched Charlie Brooker's new Black Mirror episode 'White Christmas' recently, and it deals with technology not entirely dissimilar to this. Well worth a watch.
troymc 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's a similar market to connect students with tutors, e.g. "I'm stuck on this physics homework problem, can you help me right now?"




tobiasdm 3 days ago 0 replies      
The entire project is Open Source check it out on http://github.com/bemyeyes/ !
nagiek 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why would a blind person carry a touch screen phone??
djb_hackernews 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great application of remote crowdsourced guidance.

Of course the end game is to allow remote "workers" to take control of appliances in your home to do certain tasks that aren't easy to automate yet, ie clear the dinner table, wash the dishes, clean up after the dog, etc.

Another lucrative application would be remote operation of heavy machinery. Imagine road work with no "Men at Work" signs.

frantzmiccoli 4 days ago 1 reply      
I have installed the app on my iPhone 6, tried to use my Facebook account (but I prefer OAuth to setting up a Facebook account on my device), so I have created an account (through email address) and now the application just crashes every time I launch it.

I have uninstalled it and logged in again, but the crash loop is coming back.

Otherwise your concept is great, but the app needs improvements from here.

wiradikusuma 3 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like a novel idea! I'm wondering what's the purpose of giving "points" to the helpers? I can't find anywhere in the website mentioning the points' purpose.

It's a non-profit/charity, and (I think) people understand they won't get anything in return (other than good feeling), what's with the points? (pure curiosity)

chiurox 3 days ago 0 replies      
This would not work in Brazil, at least currently, where our 3G/4G are laughable... But it's a good start. The machine learning applicability could be awesome. Maybe one day we can have a smartphone guiding the blind without the need for an actual human to be on the other side.
putzdown 3 days ago 2 replies      
Curious: a couple of the images of "blind" eyes show eyes with no pupils. Forgive my ignorance, but is this common among blind people, or is it a Photoshopism? If a Photoshopism, then is it wise for a website offering services for the blind to misrepresent the physiology of blindness?
ctdonath 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a prime candidate for Amazon's Mechanical Turks. Vet & train a core group, and pay them to narrate pictures/video. Not hard work, not high pay, but (as a friend has found) there are competent people willing to do such work for humble pay.
tersiag 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea guys, this will benefit the visual impairment community greatly :). I had a similar idea several years ago but for the web. Where you could use a sighted person's eyes to navigate a webpage.
ianferrel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just downloaded it, and I'm stuck at the "please enable the following to fully join the Be My Eyes network". I approved all the permissions. Nothing's happening.

iOS 8.something on an iPhone5.

MrBra 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now that's one of those ideas that are so ingenious that it's actually giving me chills.Also, it's always great when IT improves people health condition.
RIMR 3 days ago 1 reply      
Watch out for 4chan. They posted a bunch of strobing GIFs in a epilepsy forum a while back. I wouldn't put it past them to find exploiting this app hilarious...
jsta 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only person that saw this app and immediately thought of google glass?
hellbanner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Mostly sighted users on this app.. when will I be able to see for someone?
josephjrobison 3 days ago 0 replies      
This seems amazing and world changing. Would love to see more apps like this. Downloading now...
Oras 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea, very pleased to see app with this passion to help and change. Great work
jdstafford 3 days ago 0 replies      
Crossing the street? Really??
elwell 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now my eyes are watering. Good job on the introduction video.
dyeje 4 days ago 0 replies      
Any chance of an Android version?

Edit: Sorry, should have looked at the FAQ.

armed10 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does the app keep in mind that it's nearly impossible for blind people to operate a smartphone? There's no keyboard or braille on such a device.
dimman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks, really, for showing hope for humanity.
bvanslyke 3 days ago 0 replies      
The small heading "Blind Requests Assistance" should probably be rephrased. You don't wanna use a disability as a noun like that.
beauzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok...that is just cool.
ohaio 3 days ago 0 replies      
Oh what happens if a serial killer uses it to lure blind people in?
yellowapple 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yet another iPhone-only application. I guess I won't be helping blind people as an Android peasant ;)

Great concept, though, and it being FOSS is a huge plus in my book (and will probably help with developing more applications around this for non-iOS platforms).

What Doesn't Seem Like Work?
points by achariam  2 days ago   304 comments top 66
dxbydt 2 days ago 16 replies      
This excerpt -

"what he really liked was solving problems. The text of each chapter was just some advice about solving them. He said that as soon as he got a new textbook he'd immediately work out all the problemsto the slight annoyance of his teacher, since the class was supposed to work through the book gradually."

is literally me. I did that. Every year at my school I did exactly that. Once I actually turned in my solutions and my math teacher was quite upset because she didn't know what I'd do for the rest of the year in her class. She thought I was being arrogant and I should take in the material slowly, not swallow it all like a whale. But I wasn't arrogant or anything, because unfortunately this skill didn't transfer to the rest of my classes. I wasn't particularly good at history or physics or anything else, only math. Even now, I have tons of Schaums at my home. Like this one - http://www.amazon.com/Schaums-000-Solved-Problems-Calculus/d... I work problems in it just because it is a craving - I simply have to solve it. Sadly, society doesn't pay for this sort of addiction. I have been a professional programmer for the past 2 decades to pay the bills, but I secretly hate programming, debugging, programmers, git, the whole enterprise - just seems so stupid & futile. But hey, atleast I can spend my salary on Schaums.

delluminatus 2 days ago 9 replies      
Personally, I experienced this with programming. When I learned to program in high school, it never struck me as a chore; it was always just interesting and I enjoyed it.

However, I think the only reason I was able to enjoy learning programming was because of how adept I already was with computers as a "power user", because it gave me the physical skills and conceptual underpinnings required to appreciate the field.

To me, this raises an important question.

If you lack the physical skills or are a novice in a field, it can be frustrating or intimidating to learn even if you would otherwise enjoy being competent. For example, learning to draw: should one accept their dislike of basic beginning drawing practice to imply that drawing is not an appropriate vocation for them? Difficult question; probably depends on the person. The only way to know if you love drawing at a competent level is to reach that level. In a sense it begs the question: how can you tell if you will enjoy doing something until you have the ability to actually do it?

I don't think there is an easy way to solve this problem; you simply have to put the effort into practicing new things even if you don't enjoy the practice. That's where you get into willpower, commitment, etc. My experience of the world is that you simply cannot expect to be successful by only doing things that don't feel like work; sometimes, you have to actually do the work.

stegosaurus 2 days ago 6 replies      
What if the idea of work itself is what you dislike?

There are plenty of activities I can enjoy, and some, quite a few of them in fact, are profitable.

Once you shoe-horn them into the power dynamic situation of a traditional job (with the bureaucracy that entails unless you're dealing with Actual People as opposed to corporations), suddenly a lot of the luster disappears.

As a ridiculous example - I enjoy reading. It's not really work at all, right?

Ask me to read 9am-5pm and I'd start to find it frustrating. Or add in a commute, or very low pay.

The actual job itself is very rarely the issue for me. It's what you miss out on, and also the fact that it invariably involves submission, acceptance of being subordinate, etc.

edit: To be clear here; I'm not talking about work ethic in the sense of 'pushing through something you find difficult'.

More the general idea of not wanting to be a part of a machine, a construct that you don't agree with. Large corporations and their 'policy documents', for example. I don't want to work for a company in which my boss doesn't have the autonomy to speak to me as a human being - this stands regardless of whether my job is backbreaking labour or eating chocolate bars.

cryptoz 2 days ago 5 replies      
This dichotomy, and the realization that it can fuel smart people to use their abilities to do amazing things in the world, is what upsets me most about the startup ecosystem. I'm a programmer. Writing weather software doesn't seem like work to me. However, since going through a startup accelerator, I'm supposed to all these things that are very much "work" - and it gets me down. Things that are important, for sure, like pitch decks, financial modelling, market research, raising capital in general. They're distracting me from the things I like doing but I do them because they're necessary for the business. My "fun work" quickly became "work that I don't like doing", and it's hard to stay in love with your startup after a lot of that.

I wish there were a way for startup founders to do what they love doing, and not what the VC/fundraising cycle tells them they should do.

If someone can solve that problem I'd be really really happy.

ritchiea 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ugh I hate stuff like this. Sometimes programming feels like work, sometimes it doesn't. I write, I make art. A lot of people wouldn't consider either of those real work. Yet sometimes each activity feels like work, other times the activity feels great and feels like something I could do forever uninterupted. Virtually all of the time you find something you enjoy, even if someone else thinks it's work, there will be parts of making it a career that will definitely be work (e.g. programming is always fun but maybe corresponding with your boss isn't).

I have a friend who will program all day. He spends all his time on Project Euler. He loves studying algorithms to understand them completely and trying to devise better algorithms. This is what he does in his free time. He does it all the time because he hasn't had a job in years. My friend is probably a much better programmer than I am but I have steady well paying work because sometimes I like programming and sometimes I like talking to people and the second part helps me work with clients and co-workers. My friend the obsessive programmer for whom it is always a hobby can't hold down a job for the life of him. I hope for his sake he finds something that can support him as well as fulfill him. But the advice pg presents in this article is so trite as to be useless.

chubot 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised that Paul Graham likes debugging. I tend to stereotype programmers into two camps: one that likes debugging, one that doesn't. I thought he was part of the latter group.

Some programmers are engineers: they deal with the world as it is -- messy, inconsistent, evolved. They are good at debugging, because they are in tune with how things actually work (not how people SAY they work.) They like trying things before reading about them.

Some programmers are philosophers and mathematicians: they like to consider things from first principles, read a lot, and build up systems in their head. They make huge breakthroughs because they question fundamental assumptions. But sometimes they over-model things and ignore how the world actually works, in favor of "elegant" ideas. They may not like debugging because it is often dealing with other people's broken assumptions (i.e. legacy code), and not any real fundamental idea.

So PG clearly seems to have the philosophical bent and has made breakthroughs. But if he really likes debugging, then that means he comes at programming from BOTH the engineering and philosophical traditions, which probably explains why he's a great programmer. (I just stumbled across a copy of ANSI Common Lisp at work -- looking forward to seeing his style more closely.)

I think to be really good at something, you have to understand it in two different ways. Same goes for being able to write code from scratch (maker perspective) and being able to hack into it (breaker perspective).

Although, I have to say, there is a big difference between debugging your OWN code and other people's code. Not sure if anyone likes debugging typical enterprise code. :)

zippergz 2 days ago 3 replies      
I found something that didn't feel like work, turned it into my career, and then realized that when there are real business outcomes riding on it, suddenly it feels like work. To the point that I now don't even like doing it as a hobby.
spike021 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've noticed somewhat similar issues with my peers in school studying to become programmers. They don't enjoy the long hours of debugging or coding. They seem to have come into the CS program expecting it to be a lot easier and less boring.

For me, I can get frustrated when I'm coding and can't figure out a bug right away. But on the other hand there's nothing I enjoy more than spending N time trying to understand what's going on, solving the problem, and feeling a spurt of elation at succeeding at my task. I'm not sure how people who don't see it the same way could handle that kind of work.

With that said, I do think there are areas where even if you don't initially enjoy the activity, you can come to appreciate it and eventually enjoy it.

rabbyte 2 days ago 9 replies      
Is it common for programmers to dislike debugging? I'm stunned. I never considered the possibility, it's always been something I enjoyed. I don't believe it impacts you either way in terms of capability but I imagine it impacts your desire to continue.
blahedo 2 days ago 4 replies      
I am surprised at how casually he dropped this in there:

"When I was in college I used to write papers for my friends. It was quite interesting to write a paper for a class I wasn't taking. Plus they were always so relieved."

Yikes. Really?

erikig 2 days ago 2 replies      
Reading HN never seems like work. I feel like I could do it all day.
Htsthbjig 2 days ago 2 replies      
The question is : Is that hardwired or is programmable?

I discovered early in my life that by changing the perspective of a problem you could transform something dull and tedious into something exciting and highly interesting.

For example , when I learned to visualize mathematical problems I become much better at solving them.

Mindmaps, and memory tools can make someone who struggle(and suffers as for example when he does not pass an exam) in something to fly around it.

I had a history teacher that went to wars in his youth as a news reporter, learned languages and traveled the world, studied history by correspondence(from a distance University), went back and settled with a young lady as a teacher.

History for us (the class he teached) changed forever. It was not about words on paper, but about real people, real places, interest and fights, and winners and losses, consequences. We saw photographs of the victims of the wars, some of them taked by him,the stories on how politics and decisions affected their lives and their families', other pics taken by his friends.

After that course, even with completely different teachers History was so easy to study, to remember.

About debugging. I believe the best programmer is the one who hates so much debugging that is able to work terribly hard in automating it and not have to debug EVER again.

People who loves debugging is a problem for me. I want things so well documented and well designed that debugging becomes almost non necessary.

The fact that people believe it is ok to have crappy documentation, crappy design, and spend months trying to catch problems(because they enjoy it) is a misfortune.

im3w1l 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love reading (and finding flaws in) proofs. Solving math problems is ok I guess but feels like work. The moment of insight is nice, but staring at the wall with a blank mind, mumbling "come forth, ideas" not so much.

Oh, and trading I love trading. All kinds of trading. I've spent many many nights trading items in various games. Oh, and programming a bitcoin arbitrage trading bot was super fun.

Hmm, it was good thinking these things over I guess.

dm8 2 days ago 1 reply      
How important is it to do something you love that helps you in live comfortable life?

For example, I always loved theatre and plays but I was told in young age that it's very hard to support comfortable life as a thespian (unless you are breakout success); so best not to take that as a career even though it may really work out for you.

CurtMonash 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've made a similar argument for a long time. About my fifth choice job coming out of academia was from an interview in which I was told that 90% of my job would be drudgery, but the same was true for everybody, even the CEO. So I decided that careers were not just about passions, but also about what you didn't hate.

I don't mind writing. I don't mind public speaking. I don't mind grappling with tough problems. I don't mind working alone. I don't mind being indoors.

I do mind physical labor. I do mind cold calling. I do mind having to worry a lot about people's feelings.

If you have different preferences from mine, then you probably should also be in a different line work.

arbuge 2 days ago 0 replies      
One wrinkle to this is that it is quite possible to become passionate about something which is initially a grind, at which point the state described in the article of it not feeling like work would kick in. In fact there are several successful entrepreneurs out there (eg. Mark Cuban) who openly advocate passion following work rather than the other way round.

If you do know of something which doesn't feel like work to you, but does feel like work to everybody else, there's indeed probably something there. But if you don't, it may be possible to create such a something...

yason 2 days ago 0 replies      
For me, programming is to build mechanisms. There's something similar there as in building mechanical constructs. That's the juicy bit for me.

Building mechanisms of course implies some core problem (i.e. how to model what you need to solve and how to compute the result) and interfacing (how to run that thing at all in a physical computing environment and how to talk to all the other), but those don't raise up as major appeals. One or both can even be trivial and I don't get bored yet.

The play of ideas and experience and using those to build something that works is highly enticing. So, the more I gain experience, the more rewarding programming has become, which in turn gives me more ideas that I try out or problems that I try to solve, which accumulates the experience, and so on.

The most boring part of programming is often interfacing. This means anything from negotiating with other people/teams to learning obscure one-off APIs just to get the juicy bits running.

The actual problem (think in terms of maths or CS) can sometimes be interesting but not necessarily per se. Rather, a tricky problem can serve as an excuse to build a very complex or advanced mechanism.

Debugging is just pure fun. It's like trying to find out that slightly loose part in the transmission of a car that sometimes makes the 2nd gear a bit difficult to engage. Debugging happens when the mechanism is mostly built but not yet completed. You can almost see it working, sans a few problems that you know are there. It's hard to imagine sources of greater motivation and mental satisfaction than debugging.

pw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm very glad to see that PG's departure from YC has led to a significant uptick in his essay output.
TrysterosEmp 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well this line of reasoning works beautifully for engineers, because solving the types of problems engineers love also HAPPENS to be extremely lucrative.

What if acting doesn't feel like work? Playing soccer? Hiking? It's extremely difficult to make money doing these things. "Follow your folly" career advice can work, or it can just make people feel terrible because they realize they're doing things they don't love because they can't make money doing the things they do love.

smoyer 1 day ago 0 replies      

I built electronic parts for Westinghouse's Nuclear Reactor Simulators (near Monroeville PA) in the mid 1980's. There were a ton of intelligent people working there and since every reactor built had to have an identical training simulator, there was quite a bit of knowledge required to make the systems realistic. Sometimes simulating the required behavior of a nuclear reactor was more complex than what occurred in the real reactor (simulating the pulse shape and randomness of a Geiger counter or driving a synchroscope with hopped up audio amplifiers).

In any case, those guys provided a lot of on-the-job education for a young engineer ... thank your dad for me as I might not have interacted with him, but surely some other "youngster" did.

jsprogrammer 2 days ago 0 replies      
>When I was in college I used to write papers for my friends. It was quite interesting to write a paper for a class I wasn't taking.

Sorry, did Paul just say that he helped people cheat in their college classes? Or did the professors know he was writing others' papers?

q845712 2 days ago 2 replies      
i enjoy chopping vegetables much more than most people, and i'm told i'm quite good at e.g. making sauerkraut - an activity i truly enjoy. but i get paid a lot more to write software, which is also reasonably fun.

to be honest i think i only enjoy writing software about as much as the next person! can we be honest that it's an absurdly good job currently?


emptytheory 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a lot of experience programming in high school. When I practiced on my own, it never seemed like work because it was fun and I had experience telling me that I could accomplish something meaningful. Something made me feel confident in my ability to produce and discover.

When I was an undergraduate, a lot of my peers who didn't have a similar CS background struggled. I experienced this myself when I transferred into the mathematics program. I never had a serious engagement with mathematics until I was in university.

I think reaching the stage where an activity becomes natural requires a serious personal engagement. That is, you have understand the questions which guide the activity (your interests have to align) and you have to have the freedom to ask and answer your own questions (being able to solve your own problems). The activity has to become personal in some sense.

heurist 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like figuring out what other people are thinking. They'll give me a bunch of requirements and I can look at them and their situation and crunch the requirements down into a tight, beautiful solution that addresses the needs they didn't know they had.

I also really enjoy the process of understanding things in general - figuring out the important/disparate parts, determining how they link together, exploring connections, etc. Once I understand something all of the possibilities hidden in that topic are open to me and my creativity.

But I'm terrible at taking time to create things. Once I have the solution it is very difficult to find the drive to actually continue and build on it. It's always a slog, as if I were a kid being forced to eat vegetables. I think I'm slowly improving, though.

stuff4ben 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a little late to the conversation, but I need to say this just for myself. But yeah I totally get this. As a rising fifth grader in the mid-80's, "somehow" I heard of or got invited to some summer school computer class. Basically for 4 weeks I went back to school and learned about computers on an Apple IIe. We played some lemonadestand game and even wrote BASIC on some Trash80's. That was my watershed moment. Ever since then I knew I was going to be a programmer. I remember as a senior in high school, the only computer class they had was on BASIC programming. Since I had literally been doing it for 7 years, I aced it. The teacher would hand out exams (yes on paper) and I would be done before she finished handing them out to the rest of the class. I hated that I was out in the sticks in highschool though. If only I had someone I could have been mentored from, there's no telling where I'd be now. But hey, I still enjoy programming (debugging MY code, creating code, etc). I'm attending way too many meetings now and I rarely open my IDE at work. But the thrill of creation and making the computer do what I tell it to do is pretty awesome after 30+ years. I need a side project...
duderific 2 days ago 2 replies      
Funny he used the example of popping zits as something that most people don't enjoy. I rather enjoy popping a nice juicy zit on the occasion that I get one - it's quite cathartic. I wonder if I can make a career of it.
davros 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you do something and get that 'doesn't seem like work' feeling - great! Like all the best heuristics it seems obvious once you say it clearly. My question, though, is about the case where something does feel like work - does this imply you should not pursue it? Or are there cases where sticking with it and over time you find the vocation? For example I hated people management at first, but its a huge component of the 'doesn't seem like work' vocation I'm following now. Are there signals to look for that would indicate there is the prospect for this transition?
hasenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are many activities that I enjoy doing as a hobby, but can't imagine doing them as a profession or for a living.

One of them for example: if I like a song in a foreign language I'm learning, I will look up the lyrics and try to translate it by carefully analyzing each sentence and using lots of dictionaries and Google searches (sometimes asking on Forums or asking native speakers in person). It takes anywhere from hours to days. It might seem to most people that this requires discipline and tenacity, but when I do it I just do it for fun.

I'm not so sure though that I would enjoy it the same way if I had to do that kind of work for a living.

dkrich 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think a lot of what makes something that seems like it is work to one person actually enjoyable to another is purely environmental.

For example- I knew from an early age that I liked tinkering around on computers. However when I got to college, I found programming monotonous and boring. When I worked as a software engineer for a large boring company I hated it even more. To the point that I actually quit and switched careers.

Then, a few years later I discovered Ruby on Rails and development on a new Mac. These seemingly small changes to a new environment rekindled my love of computers to a point that I spent nearly every weekend for three years teaching myself Rails. I remember one weekend I flew to a bachelor party in New Orleans and all the way there I read a book on Rails. It wasn't work anymore, but a hobby that I truly loved.

This is not to say that everyone is cut out to be or will enjoy being a programmer with just the right tools. However I think a lot of people take a first glance at something and give up on it without having a comprehensive understanding of the reality of doing the work in an ideal environment. To this day it annoys the hell out of me when non-technical friends ask me questions about coding as if it is some awful task that has to be done- "Why would you ever want to do that?" These people never actually have tried it so they don't know what is actually involved or whether they might actually enjoy it.

mkagenius 2 days ago 0 replies      
It can be about the crave to be "different".People want to do things that make them _different_ than others.

People hate programming when they do it with 1000 other colleagues. The same programming is rewarding when they do it alone - since, that lets them do things that no one in the world is doing.

That may be true for startups in general. Doing startups seem cool since only a handful (<10%) of total population is doing it. If everyone starts doing it, it may not be as cool.

teekert 2 days ago 0 replies      
I like playing with Linux and sometimes other OSs. I regularly set up servers, at home or on digital ocean. For fun I recently wrote a Dockerfile that would setup a Drupal install, it worked well on CoreOS. Doing this felt like relaxing, meditating. I like that feeling of having a fresh, secure system running smoothly. I can get pretty distracted and annoying if my systems are not running smoothly (when I was younger I'd skip a night getting Beryl to work on Gentoo with the beta Nvidia driver but those times are over now).

Recently I thought, I have to do something with this and I started a Drupal system for searching locally cultured vegetables for sale. It was fun in the beginning but my wife is a designer and pretty soon I was editing CSS all the time and I completely lost interest. It felt like work. I left it in an ugly, unusable state.

Still, I keep setting up servers with the occasional blog with some articles if my attention span allows it. Who knows what I might do with it some time. I have this vague vision of setting up a web services company with CMSs for sportsclubs but that will come with paper work and I know I will regret it. I have a nice job as a biophysicist by the way and I get to play with large Linux clusters from time to time and I try to take those chances as much as possible.

Some things just start feeling like work as soon as they become work, as soon as there are any milestones to catch or things to finish. To me things feel like work if I can't just quite half way into a "project".

genericone 2 days ago 0 replies      
Dell's origin story follows this idea. Many consumers don't enjoy building their own computer, Dell enjoyed building your computer for you at a fair price.
kabdib 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only time that programming seems like work are when I'm under an artificial deadline, or when I have to use something that is just irretrievably fucked-up (like this morning, an issue with SOAP and WSDL, which I loathe).

Even the artificial deadlines can be fun, though there is a definite cost to working an 80 hour week.

Most days are like playing, really. Sometimes you have to come into work and push a pencil, but hopefully those are rare.

sktrdie 1 day ago 0 replies      
I used to think this of software development. The problem is that when I started doing it "because I had to" instead of "because I wanted to" it took all the fun out of it.
gregfjohnson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am 60 and still cannot believe that people will actually pay you to play with computers and robots all day long! The robots I play with know how to breathe air, which involves a lot of interesting fluid dynamics in addition to all of the other interesting things that go into building and playing with robots. (The technical term for these robots is "intensive care unit ventilator".) I love and am probably addicted to programming. RE debugging: while the rush of relief and victory is satisfying when a problem is found and fixed, I find these days that it is more fun to do technical things differently. Consider a Venn diagram with two overlapping circles to describe a given technical problem. Circle A is "have something working happily, but may be overly simplistic." Circle B is "covers the real problem domain adequately, but may be buggy." The intersection is where you want to be. The question is, from which direction do you approach the intersection? I used to start from Circle B and debug to the intersection. Now, I start from Circle A and stay happy/working, expanding that state until it gets to the intersection. Especially in pair programming I find this to be the best way to go. If two pairing partners are "lost in the woods" trying to debug a problem, they can start stepping on each others' toes and get really unhappy. On the other hand, if they are collaboratively growing an ever-expanding "working/happy" program, things usually go an awful lot better. Related topic: I've come to realize that I am good at "really easy" mathematics, and bad at "really hard" mathematics. So, in struggling with a math problem or new area, my instinct is to massage and massage until the problem magically transforms from "really hard" to "really easy". Just last week I had that huge sweet "AHA" rush. In lambda calculus, there is a cute trick called Church numerals that allows you to encode the non-negative integers as functions. The functions to add, multiply, exponentiate, etc. are all easy, but the function to take the predecessor of a Church numeral is really tricky. I knew the predecessor formula and could mechanically apply it, but did not have any clear insight at all as to how or why it worked. Finally, KAPOW! Came up with a beautifully straightforward, satisfying, and intuitive way to derive the predecessor function of Church numerals.
smaccoun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very refreshing to see this on HN. Often I feel bewildered and sometimes even somewhat infuriated when I read about people demanding a new work week of X days/hours. For me, as long as I'm programming - which is almost all the time at my job - it never feels like I'm working. I often have to set timers to cap myself for working on a programming problem for too long, else I'll never go to the bathroom! So work is something I love to do and a huge part of my life that I often don't want to cut out.

Further, working with others who are passionate about what they do produces one of the most wonderful pleasures in life, as it blends deep community/social bonds while plugging into life!

paulvs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I spent the first 12 years of my life living onboard a boat with my family, and then on and off throughout my teenage years. My father wanted to give us kids an environment conducive to learning, so I grew up surrounded by his Shaums Outlines, IC pinout reference manuals (thankfully the Internet age has replaced those), dos and qbasic books, etc. and lots of old computers running windows and dos.While I don't think he ever excelled at these subjects, they were his hobby and he was always trying to get us interested in them, too. I remember after some of us kids displayed an interest in tearing out the cardboard subscription forms from his vast collection of Scientific American, he actively encouraged us to do so in the hope that the articles would catch our eye and we might also develop an interest in science at a young age.My siblings and I were rushed through the high school curriculum in a home schooled environment and at around the age of 13 started taking some long distance first-year math courses from universities (Monash University, Australia). I, being the youngest, waded heavily through after my siblings, but never was particularly interested. The temptation to move to a normal home, go to a normal school and have friends was growing, so at the age of 13 I enrolled in ninth-grade at a public school. In the whole time I was at school I never had an interest in maths or science and the library was definitely a no-go zone for me (trying to fit in was a full time job).I applied for uni with a score of 16 out of 25 (1 best and 25 worst). I scraped into environmental engineering with a vague idea of changing to electronics or it (which my score hadn't let me directly into, but it was possible to change engineering majors once in). Uni seemed boring until about 3rd year of electronics and computer engineering.Ever since then I have begun developing a steadily growing interest in programming, science and maths, although I'm not good at the latter two. I'm now two years out of uni, working as an iOS developer. I hope that as my interest grows my learning keeps up. I think my father gave me the spark, but now it's up to me to keep nurturing the interest to get its full enjoyment.
giis 2 days ago 1 reply      
>The stranger your tastes seem to other people, the stronger evidence they probably are of what you should do.

Completely agree. I came across similar thing 5 or 6 years back. When one-of my co-worker called me to debug/show a problem with his website-download module to export data as spreadsheet. The data came as some junk characters,even though site-page shows proper data and db-records are fine too.

I clearly remember the following conversion.When I tried, I also got spreadsheet with unreadable chars, and I said, "nice,that's interesting!!" and my co-worker laughed and responded "what? is this interesting???"

fisheuler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just misunderstand the meaning of the word "work".I intepreted it as a verb meaning dosn't operate normally. After reread other people's comment. I realized it's meaning : similar to the job.
lokeshk 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's a fair advice, but I wonder what if we start working on something that at first does not seem like work, but later we realize was merely a hobby? For instance, I enjoy cooking. I love figuring out the recipes of intricate Indian curries, and then I will cook them. I enjoy eating curries even more! :D However, if I was to translate that to a full time job, I would probably hate it. I love my job as a programmer, and cooking just does not have the same breadth of intellectual stimulation, or excitement in it for me.

How do you separate hobby from a potential work/job?

drawkbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoy:

Creating useful things, or something that is fun to do.

Making something come to life, a product, a character, a moment, that people use or enjoy experiencing.

It could be in programming, art, a system, a product, something digital, something physical, anything useful that removes part of the monotony of life, reduces drag, and improves the thrust of life.

To me a comic strip, a rocket ship, a new game, a system that takes away boring tedious parts of life, quality of life improvements, and anything helpful to make the day more of an adventure, are all on the same plane.

karlb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jerry Seinfeld says[1]: Your blessing in life is when you find the torture youre comfortable with. Jerry describes writing comedy as The torture I love.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2GW2JS_A4g&t=32m20s

tegeek 2 days ago 2 replies      
I grew up in a remote rural area of a third world country. My mother & father taught me to read. And I developed interest in reading books at the age of 6 or 7.

When I was 9 or 10 years old, someone (may be my cousin or my fathers' uncle) gave me a book on simple electronics (it was in my native language). That was the first time I read about P-Type & N-Type materials and some other physics. It was so fascinated to me that I used to read it all the time to understand. The book also included about very simple digital logic design and concepts like NAND Gate etc.

I didn't understood at all what it is all about. But It developed my interest in Physics and Electronics.

By the age of 13 or 14 I learned myself about soldering, creating very simple chips and some LEDs on-off work. I never learned any math or could develop any mental model about true electronics but all that work created an infinite desire to know about the nature of "materials" & physics behind everything.

My parents put me in school which was 12 KM from my village, I used to bike every day 24 KM two way with some other friends no matter if it was summer with 43 degrees or winter with -2 degrees. And I was just 9 years old young kid. I started skipping school and start searching more books like that great Electronics books. I bought many but couldn't understand the foundations at all.

That same book had chapters how you can create a sequence of LEDs which keep going on & off one after other and make some interesting visual. I opened every electronic device at home and tried to understand its chips but couldn't get at all what is going on.

None of my friends studies beyond class 8 but I kept going. I started studying physics at the age of 15 at school but it was all so bookish and memorisation that I never liked school at all.

But I studied Physics, Biology & Chemistry myself and enjoyed every single moment of that time. That was the only time I studied Sciences and developed an intuition about the scientific world.

My parents took loan and sent me to a bigger city for my Bachelors degree. But the education was so artificial that I couldn't learn anything more at all. Every single book was in English (which is not my native or national language) I feel so empty & everything useless. At the same time my parents were sending me more money than they could afford.

I went into depression & at some point in my Bachelors' degree I found out about Internet & "Software". I started learning about Web Site development. I learned HTML, Adobe Dreamweaver & Fireworks. Then I learned a bit of C++ & C#. (I remember I started learning about C# in April 2002).

I got a job as a programmer in an off-shore office of a USA company. I then saved some money and escaped from that country and came to Sweden because of free education.

I studied Computer Science & developed an intense love with Mathematics (even though I'm not good in maths) & Programming Languages. Now I'm working as a Software Engineer but I have deep love with Electronics & Physics. And that all goes back to the days when I was reading that simple electronics book.

ribs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Paul talks about this subject like it's a breaking of the code or something, but it's just economics. If there's a commodity you can get for cheaper than other people, you stand to gain. In this case the commodity is pleasure, which you can buy for negative money.
DenisM 2 days ago 0 replies      
>But you may have to like debugging to like programming, considering the degree to which programming consists of it.

Odd. I barely do any debugging at all. If it compiles, it's usually right, and when it's not, I just kick back and think. Thinking takes a lot more of my time than writing or debugging. Perhaps that's because I work largely by myself on those components - there is no one else's intent to grasp.

dluan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if it's possible to do things that others don't like, but doesn't pay - that then ends up becoming something that does pay. I wonder why PG didn't charge his friends for writing papers.

Not sure where this is going, but imagine something like the first public musician. Or the first ever commissioned artist. It must've been valuable, because someone funded them to make it happen.

amelius 2 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with programming is: in the beginning it seems like fun; but then the system gets bigger, and suddenly it seems like work...
stickhandle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lesson learned from having 3 kids in hockey: Until you reach a level of "good enough" to participate in "the game", its not much fun. Once there, the better you get, the more fun it becomes and turns into a virtuous circle of try_harder->get_better->more_fun->try_harder->get_better ...
nnd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Finding to do what you love is easy. I mean anyone can do that by iterating through different activities to find "what doesn't feel like work".

Getting paid for it is difficult. Arguably one has to become extremely good at a particular skill which is in demand and be able to promote himself.

flipside 2 days ago 1 reply      
Edge cases, I love exploring edge cases and even better, the intersection of edge cases (corner cases?). The more edge cases there are, the more interesting something is and sometimes they lead to discovering entire new spaces. I consider myself lucky to have stumbled into an opportunity with my startup that I find endlessly fascinating.
rjammala 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of the time when I solved most of the problems in this book just for the fun of it:


callesgg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have always had the image that debugging is like this thing that one has to do when one has fucked up.

But thinking of it after reading the last part of the article i realized that i actually find that debugging is quite fun, i have never really thought of it until now.

dogweather 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm like this, and other successful programmers I know are like this. But I wonder how applicable this is to people in other industries. Does everyone have something they like to do for which the market will reward them?
alexholehouse 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly, I think this is perhaps the only (?) reason to stay in academia any more (albeit a very good one).
noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is also why it's difficult for some of us around here to charge customers what our work is worth. It doesn't seem like work to us at all. It feels just like reading comics and playing WoW. It's hard to feel like we should be paid for such things.
capex 2 days ago 3 replies      
Does entrepreneurship feel like work to anyone?
elwell 2 days ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed the short length and poetry of this 'essay'; kind of different from PG.
meigwilym 23 hours ago 0 replies      
OT: siarad Cymraeg Paul?
lisper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ron's second law: the hardest part of getting what you want is figuring out what it is.
BrainInAJar 2 days ago 1 reply      
What if you don't have anything like this?
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
You are a product of your environment.
thisjustin2015 2 days ago 1 reply      
This just in: do what you love
timetraveller 2 days ago 1 reply      
What the hell Paul? Why you're using image for the title. I can send it to my Kindle.
CmonDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
Being a VC.
dreamdu5t 2 days ago 1 reply      
You can get paid to do that kind of math. But what about stuff that doesn't pay? The things that don't seem like work to me aren't profitable or even monetizable. And please don't tell me something to the effect of "I'm not trying hard enough".
nnq 2 days ago 0 replies      
So if I absolutely hate debugging, it means I'm not meant to be a programmer after all (even if I otherwise love everything about programming)?!

I hate debugging (and more generally "diagnostic reasoning" in general... also went through med school long time ago), that I've actually become a "language geek", researching language after language and programming pattern after pattern in order to find strategies to reduce as much as possible the debugging work that I have to do. I've learned Lisp. I've started learning Haskell. Rust is on my "to learn" list now too. And my absolute hate for debugging work makes me research new things every day in the search for that nirvana where code that compiles always works and where you don't have to work 5x as hard to please the compiler either...

Command-line tools can be faster than your Hadoop cluster
points by wglb  20 hours ago   255 comments top 47
MrBuddyCasino 18 hours ago 4 replies      
To quote the memorable Ted Dziuba[0]:

"Here's a concrete example: suppose you have millions of web pages that you want to download and save to disk for later processing. How do you do it? The cool-kids answer is to write a distributed crawler in Clojure and run it on EC2, handing out jobs with a message queue like SQS or ZeroMQ.

The Taco Bell answer? xargs and wget. In the rare case that you saturate the network connection, add some split and rsync. A "distributed crawler" is really only like 10 lines of shell script."

[0] since his blog is gone: http://readwrite.com/2011/01/22/data-mining-and-taco-bell-pr...

danso 19 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm becoming a stronger and stronger advocate of teaching command-line interfaces to even programmers at the novice level...it's easier in many ways to think of how data is being worked on by "filters" and "pipes"...and more importantly, every time you try a step, something happens...making it much easier to interactively iterate through a process.

That it also happens to very fast and powerful (when memory isn't a limiting factor) is nice icing on the cake. I moved over to doing much more on CLI after realizing that doing something as simple as "head -n 1 massive.csv" to inspect headers of corrupt multi-gb CSV files made my data-munging life substantially more enjoyable than opening them up in Sublime Text.

thehal84 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
A similar article that articulated this well.


crcsmnky 20 hours ago 5 replies      
Perhaps I'm missing something. It appears that the author is recommending against using Hadoop (and related tools) for processing 3.5GB of data. Who in the world thought that would be a good idea to begin with?

The underlying problem here isn't unique to Hadoop. People who are minimally familiar with how technology works and who are very much into BuzzWords will always throw around the wrong tool for the job so they can sound intelligent with a certain segment of the population.

That said, I like seeing how people put together their own CLI-based processing pipelines.

a3_nm 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it is unsafe to parallelize grep with xargs as in done in the article, because, beyond delivery order shuffling, the output of the parallel greps could get mixed up (the beginning of a line is by one grep and the end of a line is from a different grep, so, reading line by line afterwards, you get garbled lines).

See https://www.gnu.org/software/parallel/man.html#DIFFERENCES-B...

zokier 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Author begins with fairly idiomatic shell pipeline, but in the search for performance the pipeline transforms to a awk script. Not that I have anything against awk, but I feel like that kinda runs against the premise of the article. The article ends up demonstrating the power of awk over pipelines of small utilities.

Another interesting note is that there is a possibility that the script as-is could mis-parse the data. The grep should use '^\[Result' instead of 'Result'. I think this demonstrates nicely the fragility of these sorts of ad-hoc parsers that are common in shell pipelines.

aadrake 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi all, original author here.

Some have questioned why I would spend the time advocating against the use of Hadoop for such small data processing tasks as that's clearly not when it should be used anyway. Sadly, Big Data (tm) frameworks are often recommended, required, or used more often than they should be. I know to many of us it seems crazy, but it's true. The worst I've seen was Hadoop used for a processing task of less than 1MB. Seriously.

Also, much agreement with those saying there should be more education effort when it comes to teaching command line tools. O'Reilly even has a book out on the topic: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920032823.do

Thank you for all the comments and support.

pkrumins 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The example in the article with cat, grep and awk:

    cat *.pgn | \    grep "Result" | \    awk '     {        split($0, a, "-");        res = substr(a[1], length(a[1]), 1);        if (res == 1) white++;        if (res == 0) black++;        if (res == 2) draw++;      }      END { print white+black+draw, white, black, draw }    '
Can be written much more succinctly with just awk, and you don't even need to split the string or use substr:

    awk '      /Result/ {        if (/1\/2/) draw++;        else if (/1-0/) white++;        else if (/0-1/) black++;      }      END { print white+black+draw, white, black, draw }    ' *.pgn

notpeter 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This article echoes a talk Bryan Cantrill gave two years ago:https://youtu.be/S0mviKhVmBI

It's about how Joyent took the concept of a UNIX pipeline as a true powertool and built a distributed version atop an object filesystem with some little map/reduce syntactic sugar to replace Hadoop jobs with pipelines.

The Bryan Cantrill talk is definitely worth your time, but you can get an understanding of Manta with their 3m screencast: https://youtu.be/d2KQ2SQLQgg

rkwasny 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Bottom line is - you do not need hadoop until you cross 2TB of data to be processed (uncompressed).Modern servers ( bare metal ones, not what AWS sells you ) are REALLY FAST and can crunch massive amounts of data.

Just use a proper tools, well optimized code written in C/C++/Go/etc - not all the crappy JAVA framework-in-a-framework^N architecture that abstracts thinking about the CPU speed.

Bottom line, the popular saying is true:"Hadoop is about writing crappy code and then running it on a massive scale."

ricardobeat 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't shoot me, but out of curiosity I wrote the thing in javascript: https://gist.github.com/ricardobeat/ee2fb2a6d704205446b7

Results: 4.4GB[1] processed in 47 seconds. Around 96mb/s, can probably be made faster, and nodejs is not the best at munging data...

[1] 3201 files taken from http://github.com/rozim/ChessData

sam_lowry_ 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Next to using `xargs -P 8 -n 1` to parallellize jobs locally, take a look at paexec, GNU parallel replacement that just works.

See https://github.com/cheusov/paexec

mabbo 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I had an intern over the summer, working on a basic A/B Testing framework for our application (a very simple industrial handscanner tool used inside warehouses by a few thousand employees).

When we came to the last stage, analysis, he was keen to use MapReduce so we let him. In the end though, his analysis didn't work well, took ages to process when it did, and didn't provide the answers we needed. The code wasn't maintainable or reusable. shrug It happens. I had worse internships.

I put together some command line scripts to parse the files instead- grep, awk, sed, really basic stuff piped into each other and written to other files. They took 10 minutes or so to process, and provided reliable answers. The scripts were added as an appendix to the report I provided on the A/B test, and after formatting and explanations, took up a couple pages.

jacquesm 17 hours ago 0 replies      
See this very good comment by Bane:


impostervt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Any decent tutorials out there to get me up to speed on CL tools? I use grep and a few others regularly, but have avoided sed and awk as they seem difficult to jump into.
NyxWulf 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This also isn't a straight either or proposition. I build local command line pipelines and do testing and/or processing. When either the amount of data needed to be processed passes into the range where memory or network bandwidth makes the processing more efficient on a Hadoop cluster I make some fairly minimal conversions and run the stream processing on the Hadoop cluster in streaming mode. It hasn't been uncommon for my jobs to be much faster than the same jobs run on the cluster with Hive or some other framework. Much of the speed boils down to the optimizer and the planner.

Overall I find it very efficient to use the same toolset locally and then scale it up to a cluster when and if I need to.

TeeWEE 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The gotcha here is: He is talking about 1.75GB of data. Off course you dont use hadoop for this. Hadoop is for BigData, not for a few gigs.

Use the right tool for the job. If you think you will scale to TeraByte size, dont start out with command line tools.

sleepythread 7 hours ago 1 reply      
One common misconception about using Hadoop is that use Hadoop if your data is large. Usage of Hadoop should be more driven based on the growth of data rather than size.

I agree that for the given use case, the solution is appropriate and works fine. Problem mentioned in the given post is not a Big Data problem.

Hadoop will be helpful in case if there are millions of games are played everyday and we need to update the statistics daily e.t.c. For this case, the given solution will hit bottleneck and there will be some optimisation/code change needed to keep running the code.

Hadoop and its ecosystem are not a silver bullet and hence should not be used for everything. The problem has to be a Big Data problem

2ion 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Data analysis using a shell can be amazingly productive. We also had a talk about this at TLUG (http://tlug.jp/wiki/Meetings:2014:05#Living_on_the_command_l...).
philgoetz 10 hours ago 0 replies      
First, you don't score points with me for saying not to use Hadoop when you don't need to use Hadoop.

Second, you don't get to pretend you invented shell scripting because you came up with a new name for it.

Third, there are very few cases if any where writing a shell script is better than writing a Perl script.

linuxhansl 14 hours ago 1 reply      
So don't use Hadoop to crunch data that fits on a memory stick, or that a single disk spindle can read in few seconds.

Why is this first on the HN front-page?

Reminds me of the C++ is better than Java, Go is better than C++, etc, pieces.

Yes, the right tool for the right job. That's what makes a good engineer.

Somebody who thinks there is _no_ valid use case for Hadoop is a fool. (The author did not say that, but many of the comments here seem to imply that view)

kylek 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel ag (silver surfer, a grep-ish alternative) should be mentioned (even though he dropped it in his final awk/mawk commands) as it tends to be much faster than grep, and considering he cites performance throughout.
decisiveness 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If bash is the shell (assuming recursive search is required), maybe it would be even faster to just do:

    shopt -s globstar    mawk '/Result/ {        game++        split($0, a, "-")        res = substr(a[1], length(a[1]), 1)        if(res == 1)            white++        if(res == 0)            black++        if(res == 2)            draw++    } END {        print game, white, black, draw    }' **/*.pgn?

wglb 17 hours ago 0 replies      
A similar story: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/philg/2009/05/18/ruby-on-rails-...: Tools used not quite the right way.

edit: with HN commentary: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=615587

sgt101 20 hours ago 2 replies      
on a couple of GB this is true, actually if you have ssd's I'd expect any non compute bound task to be faster on a single machine up to ~10gb after which the disk parallelism should kick in and Hadoop should start to win.
sabalaba 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I've had the pleasure and displeasure of working with small datasets (~7.5GB of images) in shell. One often needs to send SIGINT to the shell when it starts to glob expand or tab complete a folder with millions of files. But besides minor issues like that, command line tools get the job done.
colin_mccabe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
About 5 years ago I worked at a company that took the "pile of shell scripts" approach to processing data. Our data was big enough and our algorithms computationally heavy enough that a single machine wasn't a good solution. So we had a bunch of little binaries that were glued together with sed, awk, perl, and pbsnodes.

It was horrible. It was tough to maintain-- we all know how hard to read even the best awk and perl are. It was difficult to optimize, and you always found yourself worrying about things like the maximum length of command lines, how to figure out what the "real" error was in a bash pipeline, and so on. When parts of the job failed, we had to manually figure out what parts of the job had failed, and re-run them. Then we had to copy the files over to the right place to create the full final output.

The company was a startup and the next VC milestone or pivot was always just around the corner. There was never any time to clean things up. A lot of the code had come out of early tech demos that management just asked us to "just scale up." But oops, you can't do that with a pile of shell scripts and custom C binaries. So the technical debt just kept piling up. I would advise anyone in this situation not to do this. Yeah, shell scripts are great for making rough guesses about things in a pile of data. They are great for ad hoc exploration on small data or on individual log files. But that's it. Do not check them into a source code repo and don't use them in production. The moment someone tries to check in a shell script longer than a page, you need to drop the hammer. Ask them to rewrite it in a language (and ideally, framework), that is maintainable in the long term.

Now I work on Hadoop, mostly on the storage side of things. Hadoop is many things-- a storage system, a set of computation frameworks that are robust against node failures, a Java API. But above all it's a framework for doing things in a standardized way so that you can understand what you've done 6 months from now. And you will be able to scale up by adding more nodes, when your data is 2x or 4x as big down the line. On average, the customers we work with are seeing their data grow by 2x every year.

I feel like people on Hacker News often don't have a clear picture of how people interact with Hadoop. Writing MapReduce jobs is very 2008. Nowadays, more than half of our users write SQL that gets processed by an execution engine such as Hive or Impala. Most users are not developers, they're analysts. If you have needs that go beyond SQL, you would use something like Spark, which has a great and very concise API based on functional programming. Reading about how clunky MR jobs is just feels to me like reading an article about how hard it is to make boot and root floppy disks for Linux. Nobody's done that in years.

uxcn 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This kind of approach can probably scale out pretty far before actually needing to resort to true distributed processing. Compression, simple transforms, R, etc... You can probably get away with even more by just using a networked filesystem and inotify.
liotier 19 hours ago 1 reply      
'xargs -n' elicits fond memories of spawning large jobs to my Openmosix cluster ! I miss Openmosix.
weitzj 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There is also an interesting and fun talk to watch by John Graham Cumming from CloudFlare. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woCg2zaIVzQ using Go instead of xargs. Kind of fits into: "Using the right tool for the job". There is no Big Data involved but it shows a sweetspot where it might make sense(make it easier) to not use a shell script (i.e retries, network failure
zobzu 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Heres a probably unpopular opinion....Pipes make things a bit slow. A native pipeless program would be a good bit faster - incl. an acid db. Note that doing this in python and expecting it to beat grep wont work...

The other thing is that hadoop - and some others are slow on big data (peta, or more) vs own tools. Theyre necessary/used because of massive clustering (10x the hardware deployed easily beats making ur own financially).

I suspect its a general lack of understanding the way computers work (hardware, os ie system architecture) vs "why care it works and python/go/java/etc are easy for me i dont need to know what happens under the hood".

dundun 14 hours ago 0 replies      
What is missed in the article and many of these comments is that Hadoop isn't always going the best tool for one job. It shines in its multitenancy- when many users are running many jobs-each developed in their favorite framework or language(bash/awk pipeline? No problem) running over datasets bigger than single machines can handle.

It also comes in handy when your dataset grows dramatically in size.

raincom 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Hadoop is replacing many datawarehousing dbs like netezza, teradata, exadata. In the process, many datwarehousing developers have become hadoop developers, who write sql code; after all, hadoop got a sql interface via hive.

Informatica (another ETL tool) also provides another tool called powerexchange, which automatically generates MR code for hadoop.

Whenever you hear hadoop, first ask yourself whether it is another disguised datawarehousing stuff.

JensRantil 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of "filemap" - a commandline-like map/reduce tool: https://github.com/mfisk/filemap
dkarapetyan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh ya and it turns out when all is said and done the average data set for most hadoop jobs is no more than 20GB which can again fit comfortably on a modern desktop machine.
nraynaud 7 hours ago 0 replies      
on a tangential note, sometimes I use a slower methods for UI reasons. For example avoiding blocking the UI, or allowing for canceling the computation, or displaying partial results during the computation (that last one might completely trash the cache).
greenyoda 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Shell commands are great for data processing pipelines because you get parallelism for free. For proof, try a simple example in your terminal.

    sleep 3 | echo "Hello world."
That doesn't really prove anything about data processing pipelines, since echo "Hello world." doesn't need to wait for any input from the other process; it can run as soon as the process is forked.

    cat *.pgn | grep "Result" | sort | uniq -c
Does this have any advantage over the more straightforward verson below?

    grep -h "Result" *.pgn | sort | uniq -c
Either the cat process or the grep process is going to be waiting for disk I/Os to complete before any of the later processes have data to work on, so splitting it into two processes doesn't seem to buy you any additional concurrency. You would, however, be spending extra time in the kernel to execute the read() and write() system calls to do the interprocess communication on the pipe between cat and grep.

Also, the parallelism of a data processing pipeline is going to be constrained by the speed of the slowest process in it: all the processes after it are going to be idle while waiting for the slow process to produce output, and all the processes before it are going to be idle once the slow process has filled its pipe's input buffers. So if one of the processes in the pipeline takes 100 times as long as the other three, Amdahl's Law[1] suggests that you won't get a big win from breaking it up into multiple processes.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amdahl%27s_law

Edit: As someone pointed out, my example needed "grep -h". Fixed.

robbles 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a cached version of the original article that's referenced in this anywhere? Site appears to be down.
davecheney 10 hours ago 0 replies      
1.75gb is not big data. It's not even small data.
haddr 18 hours ago 1 reply      
great article!PS. probably some hardcore unix guy would tell you that you are abusing cat. The first cat can be avoided, and you might gain even better performance. Also using gnu grep seems to be faster.
vander_elst 19 hours ago 0 replies      
until ~10 GB you'd better keep on going with single core machines, you'll see some improvementes with bigger sets > 100 GB
exabrial 19 hours ago 2 replies      
tl;dr: You do not have a big data problem.
skynetv2 18 hours ago 0 replies      
its a sensational headline ... the reality is someone applied a wrong tool and got bad results.
dschiptsov 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Everyone with basic knowledge of CS could realize that Hadoop is a waste.

Unfortunately, it isn't about efficiency at all. It just memeization. Bigdata? Hadoop! Runs everywhere. Same BS like Webscale? MongoDB! meme.

ronreiter 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Hadoop is highly inefficient when using default MapReduce configuration. And a single Macbook Pro machine is much stronger than 7 c1.medium instances.

Bottom line - run the same thing over Apache Tez with a cluster that has the same computational resources as your laptop, and I'm pretty sure you'll see the same results.

smegel 18 hours ago 2 replies      
What about if you are processing 100 Petabytes? And you are comparing to a 1000-node Hadoop cluster with each node running 64 cores and 1TB of main memory?
wallflower 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Awk and Sed aren't very accessible to most people who did not grow up learning those tools.

The whole point of tools built on top of Hadoop (Hive/Pig/HBase) is to make large scale data processing more accessible (by hiding the map-reduce as much as possible). Not everyone will want to write a Java map-reduce in Hadoop. However, many can write a HiveQL statement or Pig textual script. Amazon Redshift brings it even farther - they are a Postgres compatible database, meaning you can connect your Crystal Reports/Tableau data analysis tool to it, treating it like a traditional SQL database.

Moved ~/.local/share/steam. Ran steam. It deleted everything owned by user
points by stkhlm  3 days ago   267 comments top 36
Chris_Newton 3 days ago 8 replies      
This seems like yet another good example of why robust application-level access control would be a helpful thing to build into modern operating systems, in addition to the typical user-based controls. This may have been both a rookie mistake and a regrettable failure of code review processes, but in any case it simply shouldnt be possible for an application running on a modern system to wipe out all user data without warning in such a sweeping way.

I have often made this argument in the context of sandboxing communications software like browsers and e-mail clients, where it is relatively unusual to need access to local files except for their own data. In that context, restricting access to other parts of the filesystem unless explicitly approved would be a useful defence against security vulnerabilities being exploited by data from remote sources. Its hard to encrypt someones data and hold it for ransom or to upload sensitive documents if your malware-infected process gets killed the moment it starts poking around where it has no business being.

More generally, I see no reason that we shouldnt limit applications access to any system by default, following the basic security principle of least privilege. We have useful access control lists based on concepts of ownership by users and groups and reserving different parts of the filesystem for different people. Why cant we also have something analogous where different files or other system resources are only accessible to applications that have been approved for that access?

akamaka 3 days ago 9 replies      
Here's the offending shell script code:

  # figure out the absolute path to the script being run a bit  # non-obvious, the ${0%/*} pulls the path out of $0, cd's into the  # specified directory, then uses $PWD to figure out where that  # directory lives - and all this in a subshell, so we don't affect  # $PWD  STEAMROOT="$(cd "${0%/*}" && echo $PWD)"  [...]  # Scary!  rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"*
The programmer knew the danger and did nothing but write the "Scary!" comment. Sad, but all-too-familiar.

preconsider 3 days ago 7 replies      
To those name-calling the author of the script:

The product/update is hyped and the release date is set in stone. Tensions are high and your boss has already let you know that you're on thin ice and not delivering on the project goals.

A last-minute showstopper bug comes in, caused by file leaks. Everyone is scrambling, and the file belongs to you so its on you to fix it alone. There is no time for code review, and delaying isn't an option (so says management). "I'm afraid if we keep seeing these delays in your components, we might have to consider rehiring your position".

The rm rf works -- it's a little bit scary, but it works. You write a test case, and everything passes. Still, you add the "scary" line for good measure. You have two more bugs for fix today and you'll be lucky if you're home by midnight and see your wife or kids. You've been stuck in the office and haven't seen them in days.

Are you an "idiot", "talentless" engineer that "deserves to have his software engineering license permanently revoked"? How do you know this wasn't the genesis of this line of code?

BoppreH 3 days ago 2 replies      
A while ago I made a small program to cache Steam's grid images and search missing ones (https://github.com/boppreh/steamgrid). More of an experiment in programming in Go, really, but it works and makes Steam a little better.

When I tried on Linux, it threw a permission error. Turns out Steam installs the folder "~/.local/share/Steam/userdata/[userid]/config/grid" without the executable permission bit. Without this bit no one can create files in there, Steam included, and the custom images feature gets broken.

I reported the problem, saying they should fix their installer, and got a "have you tried reinstalling it?" spiel. When I said I did, and manually changing the permission fixes the problem, so it must really be it, they closed the ticket with "I am glad that the issue is resolved".

This was a ticket at support.steampowered.com, because I didn't know Valve had a github account. I would open an issue there, but I don't have a linux installation to test again and this sort of misunderstanding burns a lot of goodwill.

Xylemon 3 days ago 2 replies      
Something like this with Steam happened to my friend not too long ago. It was very saddening because he literally lost years of files (including personal projects) and salvaged what he could. That was with the Steam Beta and I caught Steam doing this myself (after he told me what happened). I was lucky to stop the script and switched out of the beta. At the time he reported this to Valve themselves and said they were "investigating the issue and knew of it". Seems to still be here, sigh.

I know the morale here is keep your files backed up but come on, this is a ridiculous issue Valve still hasn't fixed.

kazinator 3 days ago 2 replies      

   rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"*
This is why serious bash scripts use

   set -u # trap uses of unset variables
Won't help with deliberately blank ones, of course.

Scripting languages in which all variables are defined if you so much as breathe their names are such a scourge ...

I did this once in a build script. It wiped out all of /usr/lib. Of course, it was running as root! That machine was saved by a sysadmin who had a similar installation; we copied some libs from his machine and everything was cool.

tomaskafka 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another beautiful example of developer/user priority inversion.

All system architects ever:

1) System data are sacred, we must build a secure system of privileges disallowing anyone to touch them

2) User data are completely disposable, any user's program can delete anything.

All users ever:

1) What? I can reinstall that thing in 20 minutes, there's like 100 million copies worldwide of these files.

2) These are my unique and precious files worth years of work, no one can touch them without my permission!

stevewilhelm 3 days ago 3 replies      
Many of the comments mentioned this should have been caught in the code review. I suspect they don't perform code reviews.

Makes me wonder, is there a tool, system, service for auditing how many 'pair of eyes' have reviewed a given line of code. This would be hard to determine, but could be useful. I am envisioning a heatmap bar or overlay that indicates the number of reviews a line of code has received.

douche 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why are we still running bash scripts? The only thing worse might be DOS batch files.

It's not like python isn't available on every major linux distro. It's a little harder to ensure it's on windows, but when Steam is installing every point release of the Visual C++ runtime that has ever existed on my system, why not bundle python in there too?

Bahamut 3 days ago 0 replies      
It should be noted, as listed in that issue thread, this is apparently also present on Windows (same bug in two different shell scripts!).
leni536 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well I'm on the guy's side but this worth noting:

Including my 3tb external drive I back everything up to that was mounted under /media.

Well maybe it was just unfortunate and the drive just happened to be mounted or the "backup" is always online. If it is the latter it is a really bad idea. If your computer is compromised you risk all of your backup. A proper backup should protect your data from these occasions.

pjc50 3 days ago 2 replies      
For those of you worried about important files, chattr +i is a useful defence. No easy way of applying this automatically.

Long ago I had a kernel hack that would kill any process that attempted to delete a canary file. Worked OK but no chance of it ever going mainstream.

jtokoph 3 days ago 3 replies      
The biggest lesson here is that backing up your files is extremely important. Both local backups and remote backups.

I like the 3-2-1 rule:

  At least three copies,  In two different formats,  with one of those copies off-site.
Software is written by humans who will undoubtably miss a corner case and not think of every possible environment.

colanderman 3 days ago 4 replies      

    # Scary!    rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"*
Anybody who writes a line like this deserves their software engineer license revoked. This isn't the first time I've seen shit like this (I've seen it in scripts expected to be run as root, no less); it makes my blood boil.

Seriously. "xargs rm -df -- < MANIFEST" is not that hard.

EDIT: I shouldn't be so harsh, if it weren't for the comment admitting knowing how poor an idea this line is.

bcantrill 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wow, an awful bug -- and brings back memories of a very similar bug that we had back in the late 1990s at Sun. Operating system patches on Solaris were added with a program called patchadd(1M), which, as it turns out, was actually a horrific shell script, and had a line that did this:

  rm -rf $1/$2
Under certain kinds of bad input, the function that had this line would be called without any arguments -- and this (like the bug here) would become into "rm -rf /".

This horrible, horrible bug lay in wait, until one day the compiler group shipped a patch that looked, felt and smelled like an OS patch that one would add with patchadd(1M) -- but it was in fact a tarball that needed to be applied with tar(1). One of the first systems administrators to download this patch (naturally) tried to apply it with patchadd(1M), and fell into the error case above. She had applied this on her local workstation before attempting it anywhere else, and as her machine started to rumble, she naturally assumed that the patch was busily being applied, and stepped away for a cup of coffee. You can only imagine the feeling that she must have had when she returned to a system to find that patchadd(1M) was complaining about not being able to remove certain device nodes and, most peculiarly, not being able to remove remote filesystems (!). Yes, "rm -rf /" will destroy your entire network if you let it -- and you can only imagine the administrator's reaction as it dawned on her that this was blowing away her system.

Back at Sun, we were obviously horrified to hear of this. We fixed the bug (though the engineer who introduced it did try for about a second and a half to defend it), and then had a broader discussion: why the hell does the system allow itself to be blown away with "rm -rf /"?! A self-destruct button really doesn't make sense, especially when it could so easily be mistakenly pressed by a shell script.

So we resolved to make "rm -rf /" error out, and we were getting the wheels turning on this when our representative to the standards bodies got wind of our effort. He pointed out that we couldn't simply do this -- that if the user asked for a recursive remove of the root directory, that's what we had to do. It's a tribute to the engineer who picked this up that he refused to be daunted by this, and he read the standard very closely. The standard says a couple of key things:

1. If an rm(1) implies the removal of multiple files, the order of that removal is undefined

2. If an rm(1) implies the removal of multiple files, and a removal of one of those files fails, the behavior with respect to the other files is undefined (that is, maybe they're removed, maybe they're not -- the whole command fails.

3. It's always illegal to remove the current directory.

You might be able to imagine where we went with this: because "rm -rf /" always implies a removal of the current directory which will always fail, we "defined" our implementation to attempt this removal "first" and fail the entire operation if (when) it "failed".

The net of it is that "rm -rf /" fails explicitly on Solaris and its modern derivatives (illumos, SmartOS, OmniOS, etc.):

  # uname -a  SunOS headnode 5.11 joyent_20150113T200918Z i86pc i386 i86pc  # rm -rf /  rm of / is not allowed
May every OS everywhere make the same improvement!

fsaintjacques 3 days ago 3 replies      
Note to all, prepend all your bash script with

"set -o errexit -o nounset -o pipefail"

It'll save you headaches.

mtsmithhn 3 days ago 2 replies      
The sad sad part of all this is that Half-life 1 had a similar bug in their windows installer and would wipe your program files if not careful http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?t=479484
nodesocket 3 days ago 4 replies      
What is this magic doing?

   $(cd "${0%/*}")

rndn 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't want to blame anyone, but maybe there should be foolproof default security measures that prevent something like this from happening. For example rm -rf called on a home, documents, music, photos etc. directory could require an additional confirmation, perhaps through a GUI.
izietto 3 days ago 0 replies      
IT reminds me the Bumblebee Project bug: https://github.com/MrMEEE/bumblebee-Old-and-abbandoned/issue...

Spoiler: due to a forgotten space the entire /usr folder was deleted

Alupis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've done something like this before, with my own build scripts. Except I was running as root (a requirement for some parts of the build).

Part of the scripts installed a bunch of files into what was supposed to be a fakeroot, however I did not have bash's 'set -u' configured and an incorrectly spelled path variable was null, meaning something like: "${FAKEROOT}/etc" was translated into "/etc". Before I realized it, it had clobbered most of my /etc directory.

When the build failed, I was puzzled. I only noticed there was an issue when I opened a new shell and instead of seeing "myuser@host ~]#" I got "noname@unknown ~]#". Uh oh...

Needless to say I know do my development of those scripts from within a VM.

deeviant 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a bug with the Myth II uninstaller immortalized by the following Penny Arcade cartoon:


Basically, they called delete tree. If the user installed or moved the game to a different location, say, the root, it would delete tree away somebody's whole computer. Fun times.

iopq 3 days ago 1 reply      
Since this kind of thing keeps happening, isn't there a need for a safer tool than shell scripts? Maybe with a little bit more safety around null/empty variables and not as stringly typed?
im3w1l 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just wanted to remind everyone that deleted files can be recovered until their space is reclaimed for something else.

So if you notice something like this happening, shut down computer asap, so they can't be overwritten. Plug drive into another computer but do not mount it. Instead run some file recovery program on it.

For an SSD it becomes murkier though, what with their trimming and automatic garbage collection.

winslow 3 days ago 0 replies      
We all make mistakes when coding. However, knowing an engineer at Valve did this in a way makes me feel a little bit better about my abilities as a software engineer. At the end of the day we are all human and makes something like working at Valve/Google/Big Name Corp a little less daunting.
keruspe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty sure shellcheck ( http://www.shellcheck.net/ ) has a lot to say about this faulty script...
natrius 3 days ago 0 replies      
When are we moving to the mobile security model on the desktop? I love knowing that nothing I install on my phone can ever to anything like this or access data that belongs to another program in general.
lago 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is clearly programmer error, but it's multiplied by a random variable: the Degree of Misery of the programming language, (in this case) bash.
blueskin_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is an amateur mistake. Makes me wonder what horrors lurk inside Steam itself...
lifeisstillgood 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a danger of me-ware being used before it becomes software. Software assumes and defends against others using and running it. Me-ware makes no assumptions because me is the only one running it.

The transition from meware to software is a hard one - and usually it's how we get terrible reputations as an industry. Basically it's a prototype till it's burned enough beta users.

EditOMG - that is actually Steam from valve - I take it back - this is supposed to be software.

orblivion 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for reminding me to unmount my backup drive.
codemac 3 days ago 0 replies      
Steam in docker, anyone?
orbitingpluto 3 days ago 0 replies      
Horrible life lesson. Saved by my own laziness.
chj 3 days ago 0 replies      
This could be quick hack, maybe the dev just forgot to put it on the issue list.
mofle 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've written a short guide on how you should safeguard `rm`: https://github.com/sindresorhus/guides/blob/master/how-not-t...
eastbayjake 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're curious about who the "Scary!" guy is, someone pointed to where the code was checked in: https://github.com/lrusak/steam_latest/commit/21cc14158c171f...
SpaceX: Close, but no cigar. This time
points by ggonweb  2 days ago   268 comments top 29
sixQuarks 2 days ago 11 replies      
Sorry for sounding like such a fanboy, but during my 40 years on this earth, I have never been more impressed with a human being.

The guy is pushing the envelope on perhaps the most difficult engineering/technological endeavor ever attempted by a private company - and he's making it look cool and futuristic.

As if that wasn't enough, he's doing this in two different industries simultaneously.

I'm not saying he can do no wrong, but I'm just flabbergasted that there are still so many armchair critics and naysayers when it comes to Elon Musk.

grecy 2 days ago 5 replies      
Interesting. It had quite the lean, And close to zero vertical velocity. Then it looks like it accelerated at the last second in an attempt to move sideways back the center of the barge.

I wonder if the top of the rocket was at or very near the center?

Also you can clearly see the landing legs deployed, jeez they look tiny.

Must just tweeted "Next rocket landing on drone ship in 2 to 3 weeks w way more hydraulic fluid. At least it shd explode for a diff reason."


jacquesm 2 days ago 3 replies      
Looks like it did not come down vertically but at a slant, but they got the positioning better than I thought they would on this try. One thing to note is that it is from now on officially a very bad idea to piss off Elon Musk if he knows where you live, being able to hit stuff with this kind of accuracy using rockets from space is normally enough to get you placed on the 'axis of evil' list. Incredible precision.
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
That is awesome! I appears the stage has maybe 10 m/s horizontal velocity and less than that vertical, but at that angle I can see how difficult it would be for just engine gimballing to get get it vertical again. I wonder if the barge is equipped to record a downlink of telemetry from stage. Once it gets close enough you should be able to shoot over at least some data which the barge could presumably keep 'safe' in a blast protected storage system.
downandout 2 days ago 3 replies      
Could an aeronautics person kindly explain why it's so hard to get this thing to land as it's supposed to? I'm not being judgmental at all here; I am saying that as a software engineer with no aeronautics experience, I simply don't understand the problem. Assuming all of the sensors indicating tilt, altitude, etc. are accurate, the software portion coordinating where and how much thrust needs to deployed to keep it level and descending at an appropriate speed should be relatively straightforward to write. And yet, with at least dozens of undoubtedly brilliant people working on this very problem, the result is the world's most expensive fireworks show.
ufmace 2 days ago 10 replies      
Cool video! Just what we've been waiting to see.

I wonder what actually exploded there? Part of the argument for why the landing was supposed to be relatively safe was that the stage would be mostly empty of fuel by the time that it landed, so there wouldn't be much to explode if something went wrong. So is that an explosion of the remaining fuel in the rocket, or something on deck?

notjustanymike 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed it's taken this long for innovation to happen in rocketry. Here's an entire industry that -expects- your production model to explode and crash after one use. Literally anything that doesn't explode and crash is a step forward. And it's been this way for 50 years!
jefurii 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, they struck a glancing blow to that barge! From space!
eyeareque 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think its awesome that they are open and show off their failures like this. This is one company that I am rooting for.
ChrisBland 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, what an amazing feat to come this close. To think just ~100 years ago humans took flight for the first time. Now we are able to launch a rocket in orbit, then fly the first stage to land on a small platform floating in the middle of the ocean.
butwhy 2 days ago 5 replies      
I still don't understand how hydraulic fuel is used in this case and how lack of it caused this failed landing.
goshx 2 days ago 4 replies      
Could someone please explain the "no cigar"?
nickhalfasleep 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder what the cost savings to space there are for buying a trip for a satellite on a "used" booster. Also if SpaceX is recycling the 1st stage, I wonder if they have plans to "Recycle" the 2nd stage in orbit.
simias 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm annoyed by this trend of having posts with 0 context or analysis on the top of the frontpage. Yesterday we had a link to some bitcoin chart showing a sudden drop in price (why? I still don't know). A few days ago it was a gif of a flowchart for some brainfuck interpreter (I had to dig into the comments to find the link to the source code). And now... Vine?!

The problem with that kind of submissions (images, short videos...) is that they're quick to overtake more in depth articles because people upload it in seconds without 2nd thought. I don't want the front page of HN be overtaken by imgur posts, if you see what I mean.

Pro_bity 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why the landing pad is run autonomously.
32faction 2 days ago 2 replies      
I feel if the 1st stage booster had an attitude control system toward the top like the BRAHMOS missile [1], the lean could've been corrected to at least have the rocket be upright when it impacted the platform. Although the choice to add an attitude control system would probably take up more space and add mass which is critical for a stage rocket.

[1] http://i.imgur.com/5RWkvem.gif

grondilu 2 days ago 1 reply      
On this video the trajectory seems a bit weird. It looks like the rocket does its approach slightly to the right and afar, and then when it gets closer it changes direction and goes towards the camera, more or less in the direction of its tilt. As if the rocket began to tilt only around the end to a point the engine could not compensate anymore except by adding a large horizontal acceleration.
wickedlogic 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is the weight on the rocket? It seems like towers with something like cable lasso's would help with the final descent stabilizing by securing the top of the rocket, or weighted arms/blocks that box in the rocket during final. So it never has to 'land', just hover.
jonalmeida 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone explain what the rocket was trying to do? Was it trying to correct itself to land vertically thrusters-first? I also don't understand how it got in that particular trajectory either from this vine.
krmboya 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe OP, but if Elon Musk makes actual technical contributions to his companies, I'd be super impressed.
XJOKOLAT 2 days ago 1 reply      
Great video. Exploding rockets and failed attempts give plenty to talk about and get excited about.

But Spacex have already launched a rocket and landed it in a similar way as they are doing here.

Ok, so they are flying it somewhere else, GPS'ing, and landing it somewhere else.

I enjoyed the video but ... just seems like a small progression in the grand scheme of things.

Cool, but no cigar. This time.

fluffheadsr 2 days ago 1 reply      
love that they're trying something new and exciting.. you're gonna fail when you're going for it.. but at least someones going for it. looking forward to hyper loop.
kylerpalmer 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just like KSP
mjs 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is that in realtime?
whoisthemachine 2 days ago 0 replies      
Explosions are cool
ForHackernews 2 days ago 2 replies      
HN when SpaceX screws up: "Wow, what an amazing job they've done learning from this mistake and moving forward!"

HN when NASA screws up: "Wow, this shows how government can't do anything right. They should privatize everything and outsource it to SpaceX."

rvennar 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the rocket just explodes and the trash goes in the ocean? Thanks for polluting our oceans. Can I take all my household trash and just dump it in your living room?
thescorer 2 days ago 4 replies      
This was "close?"
sandworm 2 days ago 3 replies      
SpaceX is certainly doing great things, but where was this vid a couple days ago?

When I first heard of the hard landing I jumped online to see the vid. But no vid appeared. Then I realized what was happening. A vid of a crashing rocket is never a good thing for a spacelaunch company. It's just bad PR. Thinking back, we don't see many vids from SpaceX that aren't unqualified successes.

They surely had this vid withing minutes, of not seconds of the landing attempt. But they delayed its release until the media and the public were educated sufficiently to understand that, despite the flames, this landing was not a failure.

Goodbye Photoshop and Hello Krita at University Paris 8
points by buovjaga  3 days ago   197 comments top 26
huuu 3 days ago 23 replies      
If you are doing art Krita is a fine Photoshop replacement. So I can understand the switch.

But I'm also a little amazed that there still isn't a good Photoshop replacement.I think that's because a lot of developers think Photoshop is layers and blend modes. But imho the real strength of Photoshop is the interface. Not only the GUI but also the interaction design.

I can do with Gimp what I can do with Photoshop but it will take a lot more time. In-place text editing, attaching effects to layers (drop shadows), non destructive editing, it's all missing from most Photoshop alternatives.

Also check out Natron (mentioned in the article): https://natron.inria.fr/ I never heard of it but it's looking great!

bsaul 3 days ago 3 replies      
Offtopic :I recently visited paris 8 university, and eventhough i'm used to the insanely sad state of french universities, this one won by a large margin. This university is the closest thing you can imagine from a war zone leftover. I was attending a presentation of an intern, and i had to ask people if the building i was in really was still in use...

You probably have to read "inadequate support by adobe" as " we didn't have the money for the licence anymore, and adobe didn't want to give the software for free".

DigitalSea 3 days ago 6 replies      
Krita actually resembles Photoshop quite a lot, and while the feature list is impressive, I don't think it replaces Photoshop 1:1 or is even meant too for that matter. Krita is more aimed at digital painting, Photoshop isn't a digital painting application, if anything, that's what Illustrator is for.

For a free application you have to give props to Krita, it looks fantastic and plenty of digital artists and illustrators have been raving on about how great it is since it came out. It definitely appeals to me more than Gimp, but I would still probably use Gimp over Krita for general photo touching and editing though. Even the about page on the Krita site itself speaks of illustrators and more drawing purposes. I mean if it works as a Photoshop replacement for some, then that's great. Undoubtedly a cool application.

onion2k 3 days ago 1 reply      
Krita's site is under a lot of pressure right now. If you've never heard of it, learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krita

It's a Photoshop alternative in the same way Word is an alternative to vim. You can use them both to make a text file, but they have very different specialisms. Krita is a very capable drawing package while Photoshop is a print finishing app that got really bloated.

Morgawr 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you are interested about Krita, may I also recommend checking out MyPaint? The two programs are similar but very different also, I routinely use them both.

What I like about Krita is that it's very powerful, its interface has a lot of stuff going on (not a bad thing, it's very easy to understand and use) and it's definitely the better digital painting application out of the two.

What I think works better in MyPaint is sketching and quick notes/drawing. It has the concept of infinite canvas where you can keep drawing and drawing and drawing. I also prefer its preset brushes over Krita's, but that's just personal preference. My normal workflow is, if I want to draw some painting with definite proportions and size and everything, I use Krita. If I just want to sketch something or jot down some notes, I use MyPaint. My last infinite canvas with MyPaint ended up being over 200MB of png with a very ridiculous resolution because I kept writing and writing and zooming and zooming all my notes and I didn't notice how big it actually became (I use it as a big whiteboard for sketching my projects).

ehurrell 3 days ago 1 reply      
While I think Krita looks really great what I've found is that artist and designers are some of the most entrenched software users around. The sentiment "you'll want to use Photoshop, because it's the industry standard" is tough to beat. I know some that use Manga Studio, but never without Photoshop to double-check the results.
Coding_Cat 3 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely adore Krita, it really is one of my favourite programs. It's very intuitive in its controls and very good at "getting out of the way" when you're painting.

For example, it has a quick-selection wheel that pops up when you press right mouse button. It's a radial design with the outer layer being your favourite brushes, then your last used colours and in the middle it has a colour-selection triangle.This means that if you're drawing in full-screen mode (hiding all the controls) you hardly ever have to switch back to the menus to tweak stuff (changing brush size is also done by holding shift and dragging), only to switch layers really. (that is my work-flow at least)

And, if anyone is looking for an OSS project to contribute too: Development is very active and open, it's written in C++ Qt/KDE. :)

michaelbuddy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Krita has a few unique features. I love the tiling mode to help you draw seamless textures. I love all the brushes out of the box. I do not love the performance on Windows. Maybe Linux is better but both 2.8 and the new beta if you start drawing with big brushes on a big canvas, even with a late model computer setup, it bogs really bad. Now you could argue that a 4K image is gonna take performance. BUT it's the first preset document with like 3-4 brushstrokes and it's starting to lag bad. I would consider my experience with the windows version Alpha at best due to performance issues.

If you like graphics and want to do something to save money on a lot of licenses - look at replacing illustrator with Xara on Windows or Affinity Designer on Mac. Or try to roll back to an earlier Photoshop like CS2. I really really want to love Krita and I'll give it a shot on Linux when I get the chance but sheesh, any classroom wanting to adopt it en masse is definitely trading one evil for another.

I have no desire to buy photoshop cc at this moment in time, I like to purchase licenses. I'll stick with CS6 as absolutely long as possible. But educational pricing on Adobe software has always been pretty good. Time spent in school is impermanent so it fits pretty well with the CC model.

raverbashing 3 days ago 2 replies      
"but because of inadequate support from the company the department decided toreplace that."

I read that as "Adobe got greedy"

Well, good for Krita.

Part of PS/AI success is that students use it at Uni (and later on at work, and most of the workflow, even going to printing uses it)

muraiki 3 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work at a college and had experience of this firsthand. When Adobe launched the Creative Cloud suite, they switched to a SaaS model in the guise of being able to offer updates more often, along with providing some small features like storage of files in their cloud. Basically, they wanted to charge yearly since users would generally skip a version or two before seeing enough of a motivating feature improvement. (Prior to this Adobe tried x.5 upgrades) The cost of licenses varies depending upon an institution's bargaining ability.

For the "benefit" of getting SaaS we could either pay an extraordinary amount over our previous license in order to get the same number of licenses, or we could get a site license for only a fairly large amount more than our previous license. Mind you that we had little warning about this change, and academic budgets tend not to follow the typical business cycle.

Now the benefit of the site license is that all your users can become dependent upon Adobe, so when they raise the cost in the future you'll be more than obligated to agree.

Upon hearing about this changes, which brought _no real benefit to users_, one local school actually had Adobe's salesperson ejected from campus. :)

In terms of support, CC had a special enterprise edition with its own installer that generated CC packages for deployment. It was not the smoothest deployment for many institutions, it was difficult to maintain, and when I ran into a problem with licensing it took running into a higher level Adobe rep at a conference before I could make progress (our own rep eventually stopped helping). Also, there was some software included in Enterprise CC -- software that could actually benefit from "the cloud" in creating websites -- that would not work out in a mult-user environment unless you wanted your users to erase each other's Adobe cloud hosted websites. Yes, this behavior was documented, but being that it was one of the few useful "cloud" features CC offered, it was pretty disappointing for it to be unusable with our site license.

Entrepreneurs, listen. I know education is a tough nut to crack. But I'm sure it's not just education that is fed up with Adobe. Remember that Quark was once one of the big guys, but their licensing and support was so bad that InDesign took over. Yes, I had teachers complaining about Quark's licensing -- not the cost, but the horrible, broken license server. These kinds of things can destroy your business.

PS: You would not believe how many users ask for Adobe Acrobat just to save Word files as PDFs. Office has (or at least had) a built-in plugin to do this, and OS X supports exporting to PDFs natively via print.

aidos 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks nice, never seen it before but I'll try to find the time to have a play with it.

Photoshop, like other well established tools, is nearly impossible to replace. There are whole industries born with it in their hands, and you'd have to pry it from their cold dead bodies.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with PS. It does so much more than I could ever imagine, with features I will never know about.

For web development it's a bit suboptimal, but it's still the standard. It's not streamlined - we have pages with standard headers etc, I know there's some support for embedding PS files in other PS files but it's not the promoted way of working. It allows people create graphics that are unsuitable for the web / hard to unpick into layers that you can use (better css support has made things better but I spent over a decade trying to get suitable flat images out of PS files).

These days, no longer working with designers in an agency, I just do everything straight to html/css so that it works without jumping through any hoops.

jjcm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Krita is great for what it is, but saying 'Goodbye Photoshop, hello Krita' is akin to saying 'Goodbye tractor, hello vespa'. If all you're doing is trying to get from A to B, a vespa certainly may be a better option, but don't think that a vespa can do what a tractor can do.

Even GIMP is far behind what Photoshop can provide. Want a really good look at what the differences are between the two? Look at GIMP's development roadmap: http://wiki.gimp.org/index.php/Roadmap

It's usually a pretty quick view of the delta between the two programs. Krita is missing most if not all of these too. Some of the big features Krita and Gimp are missing:

1.) Non-destructive editing capabilities. Krita and GIMP have masks, which is a start, but neither support smart objects (dynamically sized/edited objects that don't destroy/replace pixel data on resize) or adjustment layers. This is huge. Unless you're a painter, no one in the industry uses destructive editing techniques.

2.) High bit depth. This is another big one. Since most of the crowd on HN are more familiar with code than design, I'll put it in code terms: pretend that you had to do precision work, but a Math.floor() function was called every time you did any arithmetic. When you're doing light adjustments/corrections, blending, color correction, and such, the work can introduce heavy banding when you're working in 8bits per channel. By switching to 16bits per channel you provide way more fidelity on the individual pixel level, eliminating a lot of banding in your final product. Even if you have a monitor that can only display 8bit color, working in 16 can change your end result drastically.

There are some minor features too that bug me. The inability to add a mask to layer groups is a big one for me. Layer effects (while often overused and gaudy) can be really helpful for design work - need to change the color of an icon that's raster art? Just drop a color overlay on it. If you have style swatches, it can be really easy to do fast mockups using this. This in conjunction with Layer Comps (also something missing in Gimp right now) can really help in switching between two or more alts.

These programs are a long way off from being Photoshop. Whenever I see a story like this where Photoshop is replaced by GIMP/Krita, what I see isn't that these things have the capability to replace Photoshop, but rather that the people who replaced it were only using a tiny subset of Photoshop's capabilities, and found something more suited to their usecase.

unhammer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Getting a presentation from http://davidrevoy.com/ sounds like a motivating way to start using the program :-)
JeremyMorgan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been really surprised recently by Paint.Net. It actually does a lot of the "basic" photoshop stuff really well. It may be difficult to create graphical masterpiece type stuff but for the basics it's great.

Would be nice to see something like that cross platform with a decent UI. Gimp is cool and I've spent countless hours with it but the interface is simply clunky.

Will definitely check this out.

amelius 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm looking for a system that can do calligraphic pens along paths. (I use this for cartoons).

I know Adobe Illustrator can do this. But Inkscape can't. (Yes, it has a calligraphic pen, but it is too direct, i.e., it doesn't allow the paths to be changed using the anchorpoints; it also doesn't allow the calligraphic strokes to be converted to paths).

zirkonit 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whoa, today is the first time I've heard about Krita. Visually, seems very powerful, original, and a much more interesting PS replacement than Gimp is.

Gotta download and try it out!

stefanix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Discovered Krita a while a ago. The brush parameter system is excellent. You can really go nuts with all the settings. Defaults are good too.
alphadevx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Never used it before, on first glance it reminds me of Manga Studio (which I love). Anyone ever use both and can offer a comparison?
zak_mc_kracken 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suspect the cost had more to do with the switch than the product itself but it's a bit mystifying to me while a school focused on art and image editing wouldn't teach Photoshop to their students since there's a 100% chance they will have to work with it on their job.
awjr 3 days ago 2 replies      
The Krita website is running a tad slow https://krita.org/download/krita-desktop/ however download is possible if you are patient.

Looks like a very interesting tool for creating art/comics.

otikik 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just to let you know, I confirm that Krita is very unstable in a Mac. The "fatal failure and you lost everything you did" kind of unstable. So far I can not recommend Krita+Mac for anything other than tinkering around.
frankzander 3 days ago 3 replies      
Krita is not an Photoshop surrogat ... it's not even a surrogat for Gimp.
iamcreasy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone knows if we can access the 4 hour long David Revoy presentation? It would have been awesome!
ThinkBeat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Krita doesnt have proper support or Macs yet.
evo_9 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obligatory Pixelmater mention.
forrestthewoods 2 days ago 0 replies      
What a load of bullshit. Photoshop for students is $10 a month. That's $120 a year. Most students at most schools are throwing away probably $1000/year on textbooks (in the US).

Krita doesn't even work on OS X for crying out loud. This is not good for the students. Not good at all.

But Where Do People Work in This Office?
points by strangetimes  4 days ago   310 comments top 58
numlocked 4 days ago 22 replies      
I was the engineering manager at my previous employer and we were reconfiguring our office layout. I talked to the engineers and with one exception each person wanted private offices. We set up one floor of the office with high cubicle walls, and a lot of sound isolation. So not exactly private offices, but really a pretty nice setup (with the best equipment and furniture available).

On a separate floor we had a bullpen with ops folks, people who were on the phone a lot, etc. One by one, each engineer gravitated towards the bullpen until no one spent more than perhaps 1 day per week in the dedicated office space. The part of the office that each engineer had claimed to want to work in became abandoned.

I think, in spite of the theoretical want for quiet space and isolation, there's a very human need at work to be in the middle of the action -- to hear what's going on, and to be connected to your colleagues. There were certain tasks and problems for which engineers would walk downstairs and make use of the dedicated space, but it was ultimately not where folks wanted to be on a daily basis.

rilita 4 days ago 6 replies      
Generally software developers at any level are treated as the lowest level of person at companies, even when the company specializes in software. As a result, they are packed in wherever they fit.

The theory seems that developers benefit from feeling like a frathouse of some sort, where they play in most of their area, but otherwise cram together to study for a bit, so that they can go back to goofing off afterwards.

Developers are not treated as professionals. They are treated as animals; herded together to make them work, but otherwise just giving them big grassy fields.

basicallydan 4 days ago 8 replies      
Check out Fog Creek's office: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/12/29.html

> Gobs of well-lit perimeter offices. Every developer, tester, and program manager is in a private office; all except two have direct windows to the outside (the two that don't get plenty of daylight through two glass walls).

The longer I spend in this environment (coming up to five years) the less I like it. I like the idea of having large, interesting open spaces for more social activities including work, but most of the work I do lends itself well to being not surrounded by people having conversations or - in some cases - literally just messing around all day.

There's gotta be a balance.

davidu 4 days ago 6 replies      
People do the open office floor plan because it's efficient and economical, not because it's the the best for the workers.

We designed a ton of cubbies (like in your university library), 1 person private rooms, 2 person conference rooms, etc. in our office to accommodate for the fact that many people need to more privacy and quiet than just headphones. We also break up the main open plans to help quiet the noise and distraction.

We have about 45,000 sq. ft today, and will be adding another 45,000 sq. ft this year. When we do, there will be much less open floor plan. I do think there's a happy medium, with team rooms of 6 to 15 people, depending on role and requirements.

jarcane 4 days ago 2 replies      
Having worked in offices like these (in a call center, of all things), I really don't understand how the hell you could get any work done. We had people going home with migraines after two days in conditions like that Facebook photo, and that was just reading scripts into a phone headset for 8 hours. Actually producing anything like an intelligent thought in that kind of corporate tuna can is unthinkable to me.

"We have our own indoor artisanal cheese maker! ... but our actual workspace looks like it was cobbled together after a day of frantic Costco purchases." How about sparing the free Sun Chips and putting some walls in, eh?

geebee 4 days ago 0 replies      
Open floor plan offices are generally pretty unpleasant, but some of the negative effects can be mitigated.

I worked at Sun Micro a while ago (the place that is now Facebook), and we all had offices at the time. However, Sun had also started to create numerous drop-in work centers. One of them was in downtown SF, just south of market.

This was an "open" office with three largish rooms with cubicles and desks, and a smaller number of offices with doors that close (reservable or walk in).

Here's what made it work - one of the rooms was designated a "zone of silence", and it really was enforced. The two outer rooms had phones at each desk, the quiet room did not. Sales people and other workers who needed to make noise worked in the outer rooms, programmers and other heads down people worked in the quiet room.

Not surprisingly, there were plenty of people who wanted to break the rules. This generally happened when all the desks in the loud room were taken. Then you'd get people trying to take phone calls in the quiet room on their cell phones. Some felt that as long as they spoke in a relatively hushed tone of voice, it would be ok (though everyone could still hear their conversation). Others figured that the phone could ring, and they could start their conversation in the room, as long as they were actively walking outside the room as they talked.

What saved it was an office manager who simply wouldn't tolerate it. She would absolutely tell people that they couldn't do this, and that their right to work from the drop in center would be revoked if they continued to do it. She didn't care about their rank, or if they liked her.

I did have a couple of ugly moments about it. I very politely asked people on a couple of occasions not to use their phones in the designated quiet room (with signs everywhere about it), and more than once, they started in on how much more important their work was than mine.

But it was relatively rare, because the signage and vibe of the room really was pretty clear about it, and the office manager was very strict and just didn't have the kind of personality that was easily pushed around.

bane 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm currently working at a place where I have 4 locations I can work from:

1 - my office (shared with one other person)

2 - a team room, about 10 people right now

3 - an office across from my client, it's a "guest cube" in a cube farm

4 - from home

Plus the normal mix of conference rooms.

I find that in any given week, I'll rotate through about 3 of those pretty comfortably. My officemate also has a similar work schedule, so I'm alone in my office most of the time, so I use it for deep concentration. It's too isolated though to spend all my time there.

The team room is great if I need to collaborate, or get my energy up. It's also not too bad if I need to concentrate as everybody there is working.

The guest cube is where I go if I need to do document editing, presentations, client meetings...stuff that's so distracting I can't get any technical work done anyway.

And home, because well, who doesn't want to work from home every once in a while?

So far, it's the best workplace I've ever been, and this includes about 5 years of working from home, various client sites, cubes, personal offices, open floor plans. The best part is that it doesn't cost the company a fortune, but I get flexibility, privacy when I need it, collaboration when I need it, different work contexts etc.

I've been more productive in the few months I've been here than I've been anywhere else in my career.

benihana 3 days ago 0 replies      
This resonates with me so much. I currently work in a 'creative' and 'collaborative' open office and I just don't enjoy it. It's loud, distracting, frustrating and worst of all, it makes me a hypocrite. I hate the noise, but I am just as much a part of the problem as everyone else. I talk to teammates and make jokes when other people are working, just as they do when I'm working. I can't keep count of how many times per day I'm deep in thought and then get startlingly pulled out of it when I notice my line-of-sight goes right through someone and they're looking at me.

I find myself coming up with reasons to work from home, where I am much more productive, much more comfortable and (I think) much more creative. I can take the time I need, I can think out loud, I can pace, I can drop to the floor and do some pushups (which I find helps reset my brain state and get a new line of thoughts flowing) without distracting other people.

A private or semi private office wouldn't fix all these issues, but it would go a long way in making me want to come into the office.

uniformlyrandom 4 days ago 2 replies      
It depends on your responsibilities. If you are in devops, ops or support, open office is great for you.

If you are a coder, an engineer, or an architect, then open office is painful.

If you are a manager, then open office is embarrassing.

georgeecollins 4 days ago 1 reply      
Managers like bullpens because they are very cheap. They cram a lot of people into a small space. They don't require the maintence of door locks or even cube walls. People can be moved around very easily.

I think they also like that everyone can look over everyone else's shoulder very easily, which creates peer pressure to work. In my experience, the maangers that advocate this are often the ones that are really spending all their time in special break-out rooms or conference rooms.

aswanson 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's funny how most of these places hire the top cs grads and dont realize they're implemented an n^2 noise generation (audio and visual) algorithm for their developers, deoptimizing the very thing you hired them for: concentrated brain power.

Maybe the best thing to do is layout things like a microprocessor, where everyone gets their own isolated location (ram/register address), a place where people who need to be associated come together periodically (a local cache), and a meeting place for larger groups (an ALU) for bigger operations.

sibelius7th 4 days ago 2 replies      
Why does it have to be either or? Why not provide a variety of different work environments, encourage employees to find the one that best suits them, and work there? I think back to my days at the University. Sometimes a louder, open space was great so I'd head to the student union or the group floor of the library. Or maybe I needed some isolated quiet time, find a private room in the library so I could think. I've worked in places that had only open spaces, and it was very difficult to find any quiet, more private rooms. There are times that I like a more open environment, and I get work done there, but when there are no quiet places I can retreat to when I need it, then it can become very frustrating to get any work done. And no, don't tell me you provide me headphones to 'block out' the noise. Sometimes its quiet I want, not louder noises to block out the existing noises (not to mention the fact that it doesn't block out visual stimulation which can be equally distracting).
ghshephard 4 days ago 1 reply      
We should have someone like Ben Horowitz who has been a line manager of engineers, CEO of a large company that cranks out code - both the pure "New technology" type code, as well as the "Lots of framework code" type engineering, comment on this. But, from memory, I think he said something like this:

"Engineering productivity, counterintuitively, appears to increase as you move them out of private offices into contact with one another, both through cross-pollination of different ideas, as well as the energy inherent in working in a team environment. This graph of productivity, though, does have a maxima as density increases, until it begins to once again decrease as the distractions become a dominating effect. With that said, not all engineers are alike, and there are some individuals that are far more effective in a quiet room, than those who benefit from the open office layout. The efficient engineering organization should make opportunities for both types of engineers to excel."

gdulli 4 days ago 1 reply      
I never thought I'd feel thankful for having high cubicle walls, but here we are.
morgante 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately corporate culture has shifted to the point that it's seen as incredibly wasteful to give people private offices. Literally the only technology company I know of which provides private offices for everyone is Fog Creek.

Moreover, even if a startups wants to give their engineers private offices, external forces make it challenging. VCs think it's unnecessary overhead, and even some developers are turned off by the prospect when recruiting (particularly new grads).

So far the solution we've found is to have a separate "sanctuary" room. It's located right next to our main office, but it's kept completely silent. All conversations have to be kept out in the open office or conference rooms. So far it's working pretty wellwhen you want to hunker down and work, there's space for that but we can also collaborate easily.

It's also interesting to see where people have set up their "desk" (ie. default location, with their monitor). The majority of the company gravitates towards the open office by default, but a few writers and one engineer default to the sanctuary. Perhaps the open office is more attractive, even if it's less productive.

Personally, I put my desk in the sanctuary but end up spending most of my time in the open office.

Morgawr 4 days ago 5 replies      
I am currently working at Google as an intern and I'm probably going to be the contradicting opinion in this thread but I really appreciate the openspace office we have here. Maybe because it's my first "real" office job, but I do not find much of a problem working here. When I want to be on my own to think on stuff, I just put my headphones on (sometimes with music, sometimes without, since they are good at canceling noise anyway) and it's like being in my own isolated office. And if that is not enough, we have small cubicle-like mini-rooms where you can go and isolate yourself, most people use them to have phone conversations or do interviews, but nothing stops you from working in there with your laptop.

All in all, though, maybe it's my floor that is very quiet but there's not much distraction or annoying background noise as most people are busy working. When they are not working, they go somewhere else (the pub, the relax rooms, etc etc). If they want to have a work-related conversation that lasts more than 5-10 minutes, we have open areas with whiteboards separated from the desk area, or we have separate conference rooms you can use. Most of the time, I enjoy taking my headphones off and listening to a couple of coworkers making remarks on stuff (either work or non-work related), it helps me relieve stress and boredom much more than just staring at a wall or reading some articles online.

Ironically, the major source of annoyance in our floor recently has been the old AC system that sometimes starts making very loud noises and bothers everybody, but this is not the fault of the openspace office so it doesn't count :)

chrisbennet 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like this trend toward giant open plan offices - it gives us folks who work in our own quite offices a competitive advantage. :-)
kateho 4 days ago 1 reply      
As much as it pains for me to say it, I do think small, quiet 1-2 person offices are great for thinking and getting real work done. I believe the IDEO offices in the Bay Area have a combination of a centralised area for discussions and collaboration, but a set of smaller offices for more focused work time. Something which would actually be quite nice to see more of ...
bixmix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is it a generation gap? Old programmer vs new? The open office trend may be the death of my 2 decade career in writing software.

I do not need a spacious office: a room with a door, a distinct lack of distracting windows, and a 4x6 desk and an overflow side table would be perfect. Closing a door means I can focus and block out traffic, noise and the general hubbub of an office.

gook 4 days ago 6 replies      
Has this guy even worked in any of these environments? I've worked at Facebook and it is surprisingly quiet. If people want to have meetings or talk, there are plenty of conference rooms to take advantage of. Worst case, the free Sennheisers in the tech vending machines takes care of any other noises that you might not like.

I personally work better in an open office environment. I work off the energy of others and it allows me to focus more than being alone in an office.

While I understand if people legitimately don't like an open office environment, this type of article seems like it is just trying to put down these companies with little knowledge about how loud it really is in these offices.

And if you don't like the environment at Facebook/Google/Twitter/etc, just move to another company. Let's not pretend that it is hard to get another job with one of those companies on your resume.

k-mcgrady 4 days ago 0 replies      
Those office all look nice - until you get to the place where work actually takes place. I don't care if the foosball table is in a nice room or if the kitchen is fancy. I spend 95% of my time at my desk. Focus some energy on making that area bearable.
jayess 4 days ago 0 replies      
I look at those wide-open office spaces and get anxious. I need my lonely, quiet space to work.
skynetv2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have a semi-private office (two of us) in a ~15X15 office with a door, I would not give it up for anything in the world. openspaces are terrible for productivity. too many distractions.
markolschesky 4 days ago 0 replies      
I used to work at Epic (the Health IT company), which is known for its interesting office design and giving its staff individual offices [1]. Now that I've been working for startups, I've worked in more bullpen-type offices.

A few things:

1) Having my own office did not mean that there weren't distractions. It's impractical to build sound-proof walls between offices and the guy across from me loved to try to sing opera for hours a day. I eventually moved offices to another part of campus for that reason.

2) Likewise, I've worked in open offices that were pretty monastic. Engineers are quiet, everyone is wired in and most people talk on Slack/HipChat. The only interruption was when the mailman would drop off the daily mail.

3) I think the worst thing about open offices are the logistics of staff that need to take phone calls. As a customer-facing programmer that does sales support and configuration assistance it's sub-optimal not having a dedicated space for phone calls. When the perfect storm arises of too many people needing to take calls, everything flies into anarchy where I'm forced to take a call in a common space and try to be quiet. A bullpen that has some separation and accommodation for those needs is ok. A bullpen that doesn't have that is not.

[1] http://www.xconomy.com/wisconsin/2014/09/19/epic-hopes-wi-ca...

bunderbunder 4 days ago 1 reply      
My company recently built out a schmancy new open plan office and moved a bunch of people from my team there. Based on what I've seen so far the answer is that people don't work in that office. They work from home, because that's the only place you can get any actual work done. They do come into the office one or two days a week, but only so that management doesn't feel like they wasted money on all those ping-pong and pool tables.
kylec 4 days ago 2 replies      
Wherever my next job is, I'll make sure to take a tour of the working environment. If it looks anything like these photos, I'll decline an offer.
blktiger 3 days ago 3 replies      
The author is incredulous that any of these companies get any work done. Yet. All of these companies are tremendously successful and produce great software. Obviously there is quite a bit of disconnect between what the author thinks and what happens in reality.

Personally I think it's because none of these places are about productivity. In fact I think it's the exact opposite. Take Google for instance. If you think about working on improving Google search what kinds of things do you think are important? Productivity? Or Creativity? My bet is on creativity which I think is where these kinds of workspaces excel.

You are in a room full of smart people who are all collaborating on the same set of problems. Innovative solutions are more likely to occur in that environment than closed off in a personal office. Personally, I like the trend of offering both kinds of workspaces. Private offices for when you just need some time to think. Public workspaces for collaboration and creativity. Conference rooms for meetings. Leave it up to the individual to determine when they need to work in each space.

mellery451 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've worked in a bunch of these kinds of spaces - all utterly distracting. Turns out I'm more productive in my own quiet space at home. If you are doing this to your workers, give 'em the option to work from home and save the rent.
Haul4ss 3 days ago 2 replies      
If those office layouts don't appeal to you, it's because those companies don't want to recruit you.

Deep-pocketed companies like Facebook (who surely have enough money to build any kind of office space) choose to build open layouts as a signal. They want to attract a certain kind of developer, and they probably have a platoon of operations researchers telling them they need to arrange their offices like this to get them.

If you like quiet private offices then you will not work at Facebook. But that's okay because Facebook doesn't want you anyway.

tessierashpool 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a remote worker, I sometimes work at my desk, I sometimes work at coffee shops, and I get a nice blend that way. Sometimes I log into IRC, sometimes I don't, and again, I'm able to find the balance which works for me personally.

Background noise is up to me. Interacting with co-workers is up to me (to a point, of course).

Some of my rent will be tax-deductible for me personally, none of it will be an expense for my employer.

Meanwhile, none of the existing research supports open-plan offices. Yet it's the norm in the industry.

TheSageMage 3 days ago 0 replies      
Personally, I think that most office designers take the concept of open offices too far. From what I've seen of several offices, as a Software Engineer, is that Open Office is meant to be entirely open. This means that the only dividers/partitions are for things like meeting rooms. The rest of the office is open, such as halls, cafeterias/break rooms, etc. This is what causes my hatred of open offices.

I am on the fence about cubicles/private offices, because I do like the fact that my team is close by and I can have a conversation by turning around and talking to them. The annoying noise for me is all the idle chatter from people in meeting rooms near by coming out of their meeting and deciding to carry on a conversation right outside the meeting room, or while walking back to their desk.

Ideally, I'd like an open office to mean that it's open for my team, where we are partition/sectioned together, but that there is a door or some way of keeping out all the ambient office noise/sights. I believe if I had this, I would be able to get a lot more work done as I'm not having to wear headphones to cut out the general clutter of distractions from my environment.

rodeoclown 3 days ago 1 reply      
Scalability is a reason that many growing companies use open floors. When you are growing rapidly, you're often put in a situation where you need the most flexible possible floor plan, otherwise you have to move offices. Having way more offices than employees sitting empty waiting for the hiring to happen in the next few years feels too much like a waste of space. This makes the open office plan very seductive when making decisions about how to lay out the floors.
codingdave 4 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite space was the one we laid out for our startup back in the dotcom boom.

We had large cubicles that housed 4 developers each. We each had a corner, and there was a small conference table in the middle so we could just turn around and collaborate. It was a great mix of a shared environment and private, where it was easy to talk to the folks on your team, but also easy for everyone to just work quietly for much of the time.

eugenez 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not about individual productivity - it's about team and company productivity.

I doubt anyone questions whether individual effectiveness suffers from an open layout. However open layouts have several benefits that more than compensate:- Impromptu conversations are easy. The barrier to ask someone a question is lower - it's faster to get unblocked.- Shared context. With conversations happening in the open, others will often overhear, sometimes learn, and often will choose to participate.- Impromptu socialization leads to better morale. Someone drops by to chat socially, others join in, people build personal relationships.- Function-specific spaces. The space saved by having a denser desk layout is allocated to having everything from kitchens to massage chair rooms to ping-pong tables. At the same cost per employee, an open space layout has more 'perks'.

I've worked in both offices and open spaces and I far prefer open spaces with a good etiquette about when to interrupt someone.

njloof 3 days ago 1 reply      
And bathrooms. Why are there never enough bathrooms in tech companies?
mbesto 4 days ago 2 replies      
1. These are clearly marketing pictures taken by professional photographers. Well done ones I might add. They are meant to demonstrate (perception/reality) what daily life of an any employee is. Not every big tech company is a composed of 99% engineers. Cassandra and HHVM were built there (or somewhere similar), yet people whose only evidence is a bunch of marketing pictures decide to question the design decisions of people with intimate knowledge about their company's organization.

2. There is yet to be conclusive evidence that open offices work or don't work, and I don't expect this to change anytime soon. What is clear to me is that the correlation between good code and office does not exist. Think of how much code has been written in kitchens, garages, vans, etc that may have changed the world...

austenallred 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think there's a balance to be struck.

I used to think that programmers complaining about open office spaces were just nitpicking... then I learned how to program. Open offices are a reason for headphones at best and a nightmare at worst.

That having been said, I've worked in spaces where everyone had their own private office. It was great for productivity, but I felt like I never got to know anyone. All communication was forced, which caused a lot of annoying and unnecessary meetings.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but it's probably somewhere in the middle.

noir_lord 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't stand open plan offices, I can just about cope with a shared office as long as phone calls are very rare/none existent.

My current office http://imgur.com/a/KmHEO is about perfect, Apart from the computer I spent essentially nothing on it, the desk was off freecycle, the chair inherited from previous tenant etc.

It's warm and quiet and beyond that I'm not fussed about architectural masterpieces.

snlacks 4 days ago 2 replies      
They are kept in Bull Pens because they treat their employees as sterile commodities to be herded around.

You don't become WalMart/Facebook/Twitter by treating your employees well. You become big and profitable by cutting as many corners as you can and keeping revenue up. Publicly traded companies generally get into this-quarter frenzy that never leaves and kills any sort of long term viability as being a company of and for people.

IshKebab 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ha, this is where I work:


That photo is quite old. There are about 80% more desks in that room now (around 1000 in total). It's pretty loud. I put up with it though because the job is otherwise pretty awesome.

jim_greco 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's few if any private offices in trading. Even those who have them don't use them except for meetings.

As an introvert I can understand the need for quiet time, but part of what makes work 'fun' (and frankly tolerable) is the interaction with your teammates who are working on similarly challenging problems. I definitely miss the back and forth now that it's just me and my co-founder in a private office.

ThrustVectoring 4 days ago 0 replies      
I code in an open office. My solution: headphones, and three 27 inch monitors angled inward. It's not quite as good as walls, but it cuts out enough visual distraction that it works well enough. I've also got an adjustable-height desk that I leave at standing height, so there's not much going on above monitor height.

A big chunk of the benefit of having an office is keeping your visual field entirely work-related.

abecedarius 3 days ago 0 replies      
That Dropbox office was a big damper on my enthusiasm interviewing there. "Wow, this is the most beautiful office I've seen... but how do you all concentrate?" They had some answers, fwiw, and maybe I'd have adapted, though my experience of similar setups over a few months says no.

This is a real problem for recruiting if the recruitee is me.

TheRealDunkirk 3 days ago 0 replies      
As I commented on the article: I used to work at DeveloperTown (http://developertown.com) in Indianapolis. Their "house" setup is both unique and awesome. Any article discussing office space for programmers and designers needs to reference them.
tarikjn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here is what I think about when someone says open office: http://www.belarus.by/relimages/000914_392548.jpg
edpichler 4 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one here that does not like too much silent offices? I like to feel my environment alive, I don't want silence, I want the low noise of smart people discussing, sharing and interacting.
peterwwillis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why do people like working in coffee shops?

It's cramped. It's noisy. There's barely enough power outlets (if at all). Uncomfortable chairs. Annoying conversations. Hipster baristas.

Yet people all over the world cram into coffee shops like Starbucks, sucking up the free wifi with a grande half-calf mocha latte, churning out a report or answering e-mails, sometimes even on a conference call. Conditions that could border on sweatshop if it weren't for the food and drink. It seems completely unintuitive.

Are there benefits to this environment? Perhaps.

For one thing, you don't know anyone there; nobody is going to interrupt you, or tell loud inappropriate jokes while tossing a football, and you are so close to people you are forced to focus on what is right in front of you. You get the comfort of being near other humans without any requirement to ever interact with them. Then there's the convenience of easy access to food, a bathroom, and that miracle drug we're all dependent on. Add the internet and a table and chair and it's like some utopian Japanese vision of the future of all offices. The music is a nice bonus.

But there's one thing I think really makes the coffee shop an ideal place to work: no expectations.

You can come and go as you please. No assigned seats. No meetings. No interruptions. Nothing but your coffee and chair and table space and internet. Who cares if it's loud? Who cares if it's impractical to stay there? If you just need to get something done and break away from the commitment to a typical monotonous working life, this is your hideaway.

I think all offices should just be giant coffee shops.

spinlock 3 days ago 0 replies      
I put on headphones if I want quiet. What I really need to get away from is flowdock/hipchat/etc... invading my screen. That kills my flow worse than anything else.
skatenerd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is this some extension / perversion of the original XP principles? I feel like XP Explained talks a lot about office layout and how it can foster communication and teamwork.
diziet 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am not sure if the author visited any of the offices in question, but they do have plenty of rooms/floors/isolated areas where people do work.
l-jenkins 3 days ago 0 replies      
We are set up in offices with 2-5 developers per room. Works out nicely. If work styles don't meld, you can request to move (given there is space).
segmondy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I work in an open office and I love it, when this space was designed, we all hated it, we cried, we moaned and grunted about it. We left our nice comfy cozy private spaces and have to rub elbows with others. More than a year later, I will pick it any day over any other space, collaboration at it's best. For the first time I find myself enjoying to work more with others than to work alone. So whilst some may not like it, please do realize that there are those of us that love it.
motbob 4 days ago 0 replies      
Would collaboration be hurt by spreading things out?
jheriko 3 days ago 0 replies      
clearly the author does not understand how important both vanity and greed are to most people - especially decision makers. XD
Kiro 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see the problem. When I put on my headphones it's like I'm sitting in a private office.
txu 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what do people who disagree with open floor plans think the desks should be like?
sogen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Introverts prefer a quiet place to be able to focus and work, a lot.
jedanbik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've done some impressive work... From my bed.
Defense in Silk Road Trial Says Mt. Gox CEO Was the Real Dread Pirate Roberts
points by jordn  3 days ago   230 comments top 27
clogston 3 days ago 5 replies      
For those not reading the article, please note this isn't just a claim made by the defense. This came out of cross examination of a DHS agent.

  "You thought you had probable cause that Mark Karpeles   was intimately involved, as the head of Silk    Road, correct?" Dratel asked Homeland Security agent   Jared Der-Yeghiayan.  "By the contents of that affidavityes," he answered.

jlrubin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Breaking News: Mark Karpeles says that Ross Ulbricht is responsible for Mt. Gox theft, was actually the CEO of the the failed exchange the whole time.

That said, this is actually a great defense.

copsarebastards 3 days ago 2 replies      
This headline seems unbelievable, but if all the evidence in the article it is actually real, it does cast some reasonable doubt.

An alternative which hasn't been discussed yet is that maybe Karpeles was the Dread Pirate Roberts and then Ulbricht was. It has long been theorized that, like the original name from The Princess Bride, the title "Dread Pirate Roberts" was passed from person to person. DerYeghiayan seems to have had some reason to believe that Karpeles was DPR, while the prosecution seems to have reason to believe that Ulbricht is DPR. Why not both?

t0dd 3 days ago 3 replies      
From The Verge article (http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/15/7553591/silk-road-trial-ro...):

"One of Karpeles' companies had registered 'Silkroadmarket.org,' leading investigators to consider him as a suspect."

Silk Road launched in February 2011: that's the same month Karpeles (or his associate at Mutum Sigilum) registered the domain


DigitalSea 3 days ago 5 replies      
I wonder if this play will hold up? When they busted Ulbricht at a public library, didn't they catch him in the act of talking to agent DerYeghiayan via Pidgin who told Ross to check out a support ticket? I thought they had screenshots of the chat as well as Ulbricht being logged into the site itself. They have conclusively linked Ulbricht to the site, however, they have failed to conclusively prove that he is the mastermind of the site itself and that there weren't others involved.

So my limited understanding here and what this case is actually about is that it is not so much trying to prove that Ulbricht had anything to do with the site (because the association was proven), but rather who actually was the mastermind behind the site (and pocketing large sums of cash from transactions). Seems association with such a site would carry a lesser charge than being the one who was profiting off of the marketplace and behind its original conception (this is my limited understanding and it could be wrong).

This story is absolutely insane, it will be interesting to see where this case heads. From what I gather, the bust in the library, screenshots of the chat and admin panel of the site and supposedly a few scrunched up pieces of paper found in the bin of Ulbrichts home are all they have (that we know about). There is nothing that actually proves or disproves that either Ulbricht or Karpeles, are the owners of Silk Road.

Now we just need the defence to come out and claim that Karpeles is actually Satoshi Nakamoto and then we've got ourselves a super interesting case. There is undoubtedly a movie script in here somewhere once the case is finished.

downandout 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's an interesting tactic, but will likely fall upon deaf ears. They arrested him at the library while he was logged into the site as an admin. That, combined with the fact that he possessed a Bitcoin wallet with ~144,000 BTC (worth ~$28.5 million at the time) in it, will likely carry more weight than any argument that other people were possibly running it. They also admitted on day 1 of the trial that he created SR - they are just saying that he turned it over to someone else and wasn't running it. All the government has to prove now is that he profited from it, which seems like a very low hurdle given the amount of BTC he had.

Based upon all of this, I'd say he has a 99.9% chance of conviction, and will receive a sentence that will amount to life in prison. This judge will make an example out of him.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is slowly developing the patina of an academy award winning movie :-). Sad for the folks involved by interesting to watch.
malloreon 3 days ago 1 reply      
If this is true then nearly all of bitcoin's growth over the last 3 years can be directly attributable to Mark Karpeles, either in the form of outright price manipulation, or the running of illegal goods marketplaces.
adamnemecek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Someone call Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher to get in on this.
mhomde 3 days ago 0 replies      
If this theory wouldn't make a an awesome yarn for a Sorkin/Fincher movie I don't know what would. Karpeles to be played by Paul Giamatti and Ulbricht by Robert Pattinson.
jmtame 3 days ago 1 reply      
Up next, Satoshi Nakamoto is revealed to be Mark Karpeles
ipsin 3 days ago 1 reply      
One thing I haven't see in the legal analysis: If Ulbricht is guilty of the things that the defense has stipulated (building and running SilkRoad for some period of time), doesn't that mean he's admitted to most of the relevant charges?

I'm not sure what the "I'm not the kingpin" defense actually buys.

Cub3 3 days ago 0 replies      
This would be an insane story if true but will wait for the facts to come out before jumping to conclusions
jedanbik 3 days ago 0 replies      
So does this mean that Karpeles will/could be summoned for examination? I am very intrigued by this juicy turn of events.
CodeWriter23 3 days ago 0 replies      
The subtle implication here is "throw some shit at the wall and see what sticks" was Der-Yeghiayan's investigative method of choice. Always good to discredit the prosecution's lead witnesses if you can.
rudolf0 3 days ago 6 replies      
I don't think there was anything fundamentally unethical about Silk Road (other than the owner very likely attempting to have several people murdered, of course), but the defense is clearly grasping at straws here.
sandworm 3 days ago 2 replies      
Lol. When I was at school this tactic, creating doubt by blaming someone else, was called "Plan B" after a plot line from the TV series The Practice.
josu 3 days ago 0 replies      
A slightly different take on the news from The Verge: http://www.theverge.com/2015/1/15/7553591/silk-road-trial-ro...
ErrantX 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only chance Ulbricht seems to have at this stage, admittedly from where I am sitting, seems to be one where his team employs "defence through obscurity". If they can bog the trial down in technical details, question the witness credibility, and point fingers toward others then it will distract from harder evidence to counter.

It's a fairly common trial strategy, and sometimes it works.

obilgic 3 days ago 3 replies      
Both Silk Road and mt.gox were written in PHP which Mark Karpeles is fan of.
jmtame 3 days ago 0 replies      
I called Mark Karpeles the DPR on Twitter and he replied "PHP is good for the right job." He's obviously guilty.
svs 3 days ago 0 replies      
DPR Karpeles = DPRK = Democratic People's Republic of Korea = North Korea! I knew the North Koreans would be somehow involved!
at-fates-hands 2 days ago 0 replies      
This has become the Tech Industries version of the OJ Trial.

As someone who followed that trial very closely, I think the coverage of this trial has been really good.

taternuts 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now that's an obscure reference
negamax 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is very interesting.
lexcorvus 3 days ago 3 replies      
Not one but two (nearly identical) references to "The Princess Bride" have been flagkilled. I understand not wanting to devolve into reddit, but is HN really so humorless? This is life imitating art, people. In this context, such references are 100% on-point.

He wasn't the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. The real Roberts has been retired fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia.

spiralpolitik 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are they really trying the "Chewbacca defense" ? Johnnie Cochran would be proud.
Awk in 20 Minutes
points by craigkerstiens  3 days ago   83 comments top 27
na85 3 days ago 0 replies      
Story time.

Back in ~2005 when I was still very new to Linux I had this old Dell that I put Gentoo on. It was a 900MHz Intel Coppermine with a minuscule amount of memory, so things compiled very slow. Being the wise Linux guru that I was back then, I decided that I would emerge (compile) all of X, fluxbox, OpenOffice, and probably 1 or 2 other things.

I didn't have distcc set up. It compiled for days.

One thing I really did enjoy was watching the cryptic messages crawl by, and one that always mystified me was during the configure stages:

   checking for gawk... gawk
It seemed like a total nonsense word. To this day I still have fond memories every time someone mentions (g)awk.

chris_wot 3 days ago 3 replies      
You are awesome. That's seriously the easiest bit of technical reading I've ever done. I tip my hat to you!
sea6ear 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also Awk has one of the best bite sized tutorial/references out there. Up there with Programming in Lua in terms of awesomeness per page count.


freditup 3 days ago 10 replies      
Very well done article.

General question: when would one choose to use an awk script over something more general purpose such as a python or ruby script? To me it would make sense to use the latter in most cases.

kespindler 3 days ago 1 reply      
Going to put a shameless plug here for the python awk replacement I made.


Instead of learning a new language and new syntax, just use python!

michaelmcmillan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Piping things in and out of awk is really powerful and fast! Check out how Gary Bernhardt utilizes different Unix-commands (including awk) to filter out dead links on his blog: http://vimeo.com/11202537
proveanegative 3 days ago 2 replies      
This seems like a good thread to ask: are there more featureful languages that derive from Awk (edit: i.e., can work in a data driven mode) but don'tdiverge as much as much as Perl did in terms of syntax?
lotsofcows 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice write-up!

A couple of points:

On CentOS, at least, gawk == awk which falsifies "patterns cannot capture specific groups to make them available in the ACTIONS part of the code". Eg: echo "abcdef" | gawk 'match($0, /b(.*)e/, a) { print a[1]; }'

You missed the match and not match operators ~ and !~ in your list.

Finally, I find people better understand the flexibility of awk when they realise that awk '/bob/ { print }' is shorthand for awk '$0~/bob/ { print $0; }'. This makes it clear that the pattern element is not limited to regexs or matching the whole line.

reacweb 3 days ago 1 reply      
I use awk only for trivial commands that fit in one line. Here is my last one.

awk -F : '/^OPS1:/{print $2}' < machinelist

I think the article could add an example of this kind of simple usages.

coliveira 3 days ago 2 replies      
The best introduction to awk is its man page. It is such a concise language that you can find pretty much everything you want to learn about it in just a few pages.
vram22 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a UNIX one-liner I wrote a while ago that uses awk, sed and grep for a real-life need:

UNIX one-liner to kill a hanging Firefox process:http://jugad2.blogspot.in/2008/09/unix-one-liner-to-kill-han...

The comments on that post are also of interest.

decisiveness 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is probably the most concise introduction to awk I've read.

For more extensions[0] and advanced features like arrays of arrays and array sorting, there's also gawk. And for larger files there's performance driven mawk which can drastically increase processing speed[1].



Friedduck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Were I to have had this instead of the O'Rielly book (Sed & Awk) that I learned from. The time I could have saved.

My goal: to be able to write as clearly as this.

gesman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Excellent tutorial.

I'm actually working on (about to finish) free Splunk app that monitors HTTP traffic via Apache logs on WHM/Cpanel based hosting servers and visualizes traffic and activity trends and patterns between IP addresses and sites.

Awk would be an excellent tool to quickly play and "debug" logs content alongside with visual tool.

Additionally I think I'd want to utilize it for malware detection.

+ On my "to practice" list.

kasperset 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awk is also used a lot in Bioinformatics where you need one-liners to extract/format the data. Ofcourse, Perl/Python/R/Ruby can also be used but in some cases Awk is just simple and graceful.
wazoox 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use perl one-liners, thanks to the power of -n, -i and -p switches.

  perl -n -e <expression> <file>
runs the expression on each and every line of <file> (can be STDIN of course).

  perl -p -e <expression> <file>
prints out every line for which the expression returns true. The -i option allows treating files in place. Add -i<extension> to create a <file>.<extension> backup, just in case.


  perl -p -e '/admin/' file  perl -p -e '^/admin/' file
behaves exactly like the basic awk examples. We can also replace stuff :

  perl -p -e 's/admin/bozo/g' file
print all lines matching 'admin', replacing 'admin' with 'bozo'.

Now if you just want to replace all occurrences of 'admin' with 'bozo' in the file:

  perl -pi -e 's/admin/bozo/g' file
For instance perl allows you to use a different separator than / for regexps, very useful when manipulating paths:

  perl -pi -e 's#/some/path/#/different/path/#g' file
Of course instead of a simple awk/sed substitute, you can run more elaborate code, and even use perl modules in your one liners with the -M switch:

  perl -MData::Dumper -n -e 'print Dumper $1 if m/^(admin .w+)/' file
Lastly, perl allows you to use q(string) instead of 'string' and qq(string) instead of "string", that avoids lots of escaping when typing in oneliners, so instead of:

  perl -n -e 'print \'found\' if m/admin/' file

  perl -n -e 'print q(found) if m/admin/' file

patrickg_zill 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have been very happy in using awk, have used it to generate real results. It is fast, a little clunky at first, but since it is a smaller language it is quick to get up to speed on.
101914 3 days ago 1 reply      
BEGIN and END are somewhat like what is above the first %% and below the second %% in a yylex "source" file. Or maybe not. I need to review the documentation.

This brief AWK intro entices me to try making a similar one for (f)lex using the author's concise format as a model.

In any event, Pattern --> Action is common to both programs.

tieTYT 3 days ago 3 replies      
The one thing this is missing is a search/replace example. That's a very common thing to do and annoyingly clunky in Awk.
carapace 3 days ago 0 replies      
The second comma in the second sentence has got to go. "on files, usually structured" <-- that one. There are some other ones too. Other than that this is really great!
joshbaptiste 3 days ago 0 replies      
#awk on irc Freenode great is a great place for general or advanced help
jacquesm 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is written by the same person that wrote 'learn you some erlang for great good'.
hayksaakian 3 days ago 0 replies      
someone should add this to


OneOneOneOne 3 days ago 2 replies      
AWK is very easy for C programmers to learn.

You can also try 'info gawk' from the Unix or Cygwin prompt for a good tutorial.

baldfat 3 days ago 5 replies      
Awk & SED I have a hard time think about one without the other. I think they should be married.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Use gawk for processing large data files
qodeninja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finally, something useful.
What happens when you type Google.com into your browser and press enter?
points by xvirk  2 days ago   128 comments top 32
cursork 2 days ago 9 replies      
Love it! One of my favourite bad interview questions. I got asked this in an interview ~5 years ago. My response was to look shocked... Pause. Then ask: "What do you mean? What detail do you need? DNS? SYN / ACK? HTTP?"

At the point I started talking about syn/acks they just cut me off and moved on to the next question.

Same company (different person) started the phone screen with 'oh so your CV says you know linux, what's the difference between a hard link and a soft link' and was shocked when I knew the answer, declaring the rest of the phone interview pretty pointless - he'd obviously had a bad morning and started with his hardest question.

I've now learnt to see such interview questions as a sign of a workplace with little-to-no learning on the job. Most places that actively encourage learning don't try such things.

eblume 2 days ago 2 replies      
This question always reminded me of the (excellent) book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". The author explores the philosophy of engineering as being the art of separating things in to their components. At the risk of spoiling some of the book, a major struggle the author goes through is the paradox that there seems to be an infinite number of ways to split some kinds of systems, with no productive work ever being done. This question feels like that... you can split it down to the tiniest discrete system and you'll find you haven't gained much.

That's not to say that you wouldn't gain SOMETHING, nor that it's a bad interview question. I actually like it. It's just not terribly productive, in an engineering sense.

felipesabino 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is also a very good introductory answer in this subject by Jean-Baptiste Quru in 2013 [1] where he takes the revers approach of when the page is displayed, then talks about connection, OS, etc. "simplifying" the answer and going down several levels of abstraction and complexities to give the proper overwhelming sense that this question should impose.

It is a very fun text to read and I really recommend it.

[1] https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JeanBaptisteQueru/posts/dfydM2C...

Animats 2 days ago 5 replies      
So far, nobody has filled in the section on how a key-press event works its way through the OS, up to the window system, to the application, and to the code handling the input text box.

Then there's what's happening at the Google end. Before search personalization, popular queries ("google", "Britney Spears") were handled by caches the first Google machine you talked to, and never even reached the search engine. Since search personalization, there's some cookie traffic, and then your personal dossier is retrieved from storage at Google for use in interpreting your query.

Then, in the middle, your query probably travels through five to ten routers (try a traceroute) just to get to Google. Packets move from local Ethernet or WiFi to DSL to fiber to bigger fiber to gigabit Ethernet within a Google data center.

And where is "google.com" for you? That's hard to find out. For me, today, it's at "nuq04s19-in-f14.1e100.net", wherever that is. My connection routed from Silicon Valley to Santa Rosa to San Jose before reaching a Google point of presence at Equinix in San Jose.

Somebody also needs to talk about what's happening in the CPUs, with 3 billion or so instructions per CPU core every second, all devoted to looking up a cat video for you.

When you play a cat video, more computation occurs than was done in the history of the world prior to 1940.

toadi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't remember how many jobs I did where the interview questions were the hardest part of the job. In the beginning you think wow I'm going to get a nice and existing job.

Just to be dissapointed again because the job consists of fixing bugs in crappy legacy code and writing CRUD code.

bobajett 2 days ago 3 replies      
I would really like to know what happens when Im driving down a highway at say 60mph and browsing the web on my smartphone (or well let's say my wife is doing the driving and Im browsing the web :-) ). What kind of communication is happening between me and the cellphone towers? What data is my phone sending to the different cellphone towers as I drive by them? How does the cellphone tower send that data to the internet?Does someone have a good pointer to a resource that would answer these questions?
TheLoneWolfling 2 days ago 4 replies      
It frustrates me that it just goes "Interrupt fires".

There's a whole lot that goes on between the USB bus receiving the packet and HID driver - I mean, even making the processor branch is non-trivial.

cek 2 days ago 0 replies      
I needed a break so I used this as an excuse to try to remember how Windows actually handled keyboard input. I submitted a pull request:


sufianrhazi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope people don't study this. The answer to this question doesn't matter.

The whole point of this question is to (1) gauge the clarity of the candidate's communication when explaining complex systems and (2) have them get to a place where they simply doesn't know and must start making assumptions of how things work and weigh the various tradeoffs. That's where things get interesting.

lnanek2 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty common to fail someone out at that point. If you wanted to be charitable you could try to ask them questions as much like homework questions from university as possible. "Write out in [psuedo] code how you would add two numbers and display the result on the screen using system interrupts" or something. You may have to pay the ultimate price and be stuck working with the person after that, though.
bbarn 2 days ago 1 reply      
By far my favorite question to ask (and be asked) in an interview. As others point out, it's practically impossible to understand the entire system. At one point or another in my career I've been exposed to at least descriptions of most of the components, but if I wanted a processor engineer, I'd be looking for a different answer than a web developer, or a networking guy, etc. Essentially anyone involved in the modern world of IT has to be able to answer something they're good at - and more importantly, admit the parts they don't understand. You can't cheat your way through the question, hell, you could even know it's coming and you still can't "beat" it. You don't know if I'm looking for hyper-detail about something, business sense to skip over irrelevant (to the position) details of a certain level, etc.
a3_nm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be more convenient for people to contribute if this were set up as a wiki?
egypturnash 2 days ago 1 reply      
> The keyboard controller then encodes the keycode for transport to the computer. This is now almost universally over a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection, but historically has been over PS/2 or ADB connections.

What about Bluetooth keyboards?

jwatte 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have asked this question (more or less,) and the point is to get the candidate to singer point where they don't know the answer, and then the real question comes: "so how would you design that next piece?" That's the interesting part!
stephen_g 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lots of interesting things happen in between your computer and Google's servers - like ISPs exchanging routing information using BGP, so the routers can determine a route through each different AS (provider/transit network) it has to go through to actually Fong the machine with that IP, and the kinds of physical and data layers it goes through (cable or DSL, fibre, and Ethernet, SONET/SDH, maybe tunnelling over MPLS at some point) etc.
robertcope 2 days ago 1 reply      
I didn't know this was so popular of a question. I've been asking it for many years. I love it because anyone with expertise in any part of the system should be able to answer it. Are you a networking guru? If so, you should be able to talk a long time about the network bits. Are you a kernel guru? Same. Etc. It also gives me a good idea how broad the interviewee is.

It is always amazing to me how many people fail the question so badly. I've really had only one person answer it reasonably in all these years.

stfp 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just thought I'd point out that this is an old repo from 2013.

Probably should update the title before people starting submitting PRs in a doomed attempt to "not skip on anything".

ph0rque 2 days ago 1 reply      
the time-to-live value for a datagram reaches zero at which point the packet is dropped

Someone should write a Victorian-style novel on the hard, short, but virutous life of a packet.

kyled 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it's a test to see how well you can communicate? I would of given a very brief high level overview, such as...

A request is sent to Google's severs for their "new search" page. Google then responds with the necessary data in order for your Web browser to display the Web page . There's a lot more to the full story, but I can go into detail if you would like.

I would offer diving into the important parts related to the position.

felipesabino 2 days ago 0 replies      
Computerphile made a good vide on the same subject ~a month ago called "What Happens When You Click a Link?" [1]

It is obviously not as deep in content as the article is aiming to be, specially because it focus only on the first things that happens like DNS resolving and the socket connection, however, it is still fun video.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keo0dglCj7I

ekr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This would make a great subject for a book, along the lines of NAND2Tetris, starting at the transistor level or below.
mattdesl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even something as simple as the images and rectangles composited in hardware/software with Skia would take a thesis to explain.
arkaine 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lack of arp/layer 2 isp, routing.

There is also a mistake inside the DNS part. DNS queries are done from the client - and this is actually true for a majority of client/server requests - by opening a dynamic random port above 49152.

dead10ck 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, judging from the comments in here, there are a lot of people that are in management positions that are horrible judges of technical ability and value. This question asks so many things that it doesn't really ask anything at all. No matter which field they decide dive into, if they can dive into any at all, it sheds no light whatsoever on their ability to solve problems, or their ability to learn new difficult concepts. Moreover, making assumptions about where their specialties lie because of the topic they chose to answer in is wrong--if they answered well, they could be skilled in many other topics as well, and if they didn't, that doesn't mean they're incompetent--it means they didn't know how to answer what is essentially a trick question.
MarcScott 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm going to watch this carefully. Once it's complete I plan to base a scheme of work on it for my secondary school CS students.
dogweather 2 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer to ask open-ended questions more calculated to give me an idea of where the interviewee's head is at:

"What's your favorite programming language? Why?"

avmich 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see a detailed description of sockets work.
imaginenore 2 days ago 1 reply      
The first part is already outdated. A lot depends on the browser. Chrome will look up stuff as you type it, and by the time you press <enter>, the DNS lookup will likely have happened already. And, likely, the actual request to the page.

It's probably even more complicated than that, I believe "google.com" is a very special case in Chrome.

jodrellblank 1 day ago 0 replies      
People look at you strangely and explain how browser URL bars search for you in all recent browsers, making the Google homepage irrelevant.

Maybe they explain how home pages and bookmarks and bookmarklets work and set one up for you.

Nobody explains anything technical; the sort of person who types Google.com into a URL bar in 2015 isn't very computer literate, and wouldn't care about the details - any details.

hadrian 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I don't normally watch github projects, but when i do, it's projects like these :D "
nzealand 2 days ago 0 replies      
His emphasis on lower level protocols is not what I would expect a python programmer.

I wonder what the following would say about me in an interview situation...

Device specific rendering. Localization and Language logic. Image download and display. Screen rendering. Caching, cookies & browser history. Analytics integration. Account lookup. The search being saved on the backend.

_almosnow 2 days ago 2 replies      
>17.78 mA of this current is returned on either the D+ or D- pin (the middle 2) of the keyboard's USB connector.

Oh, so we will look at it at THAT level of detail, nice.

Then hardware interrupts, seems ok...

Then HSTS and DNS, yeah, no, you are skipping like 3 more pages of things that happen in between. Good luck with your naive experiment.

New Snowden Docs Indicate Scope of NSA Preparations for Cyber Battle
points by zmanian  1 day ago   269 comments top 24
lawnchair_larry 1 day ago 11 replies      
Here's a story for you.

I'm not a party to any of this. I've done nothing wrong, I've never been suspected of doing anything wrong, and I don't know anyone who has done anything wrong. I don't even mean that in the sense of "I pissed off the wrong people but technically haven't been charged." I mean that I am a vanilla, average, 9-5 working man of no interest to anybody. My geographical location is an accident of my birth. Even still, I wasn't accidentally born in a high-conflict area, and my government is not at war. I'm a sysadmin at a legitimate ISP and my job is to keep the internet up and running smoothly.

This agency has stalked me in my personal life, undermined my ability to trust my friends attempting to connect with me on LinkedIn, and infected my family's computer. They did this because they wanted to bypass legal channels and spy on a customer who pays for services from my employer. Wait, no, they wanted the ability to potentially spy on future customers. Actually, that is still not accurate - they wanted to spy on everybody in case there was a potentially bad person interacting with a customer.

After seeing their complete disregard for anybody else, their immense resources, and their extremely sophisticated exploits and backdoors - knowing they will stop at nothing, and knowing that I was personally targeted - I'll be damned if I can ever trust any electronic device I own ever again.

You all rationalize this by telling me that it "isn't surprising", and that I don't live in the [USA,UK] and therefore I have no rights.

I just have one question.

Are you people even human?



pa7ch 1 day ago 9 replies      
Looking at the comments in support of the NSA here makes me suspect an astroturfing campaign is happening.

Edit: I should add that my suspicion came from noticing that the vast majority of the comments when this was first posted seemed aligned in favor of the NSA's mission.

It wasn't the presence of pro-NSA comments that was interesting but rather that these opinions were the overwhelming majority. This is, of course, how astroturfing becomes effective, it is not the rhetoric that is important but the cognitive bias imparted by the facade of so many people falling to one side of an issue.

This is of course, only a suspicion, but it seemed worth noting.

pdknsk 1 day ago 3 replies      
There was a long interview with Snowden posted recently, which didn't make it to the frontpage. I guess because of Snowden penalty on HN and Snowden fatigue. Anyway, he kept repeating a point which is quite easy to understand for the public I think.


And the reality is when it comes to cyber conflicts [...], we have more to lose.

We spend more on research and development than these other countries, so we shouldnt be making the internet a more hostile, a more aggressive territory. We should be cooling down the tensions, making it a more trusted environment, making it a more secure environment, making it a more reliable environment, because thats the foundation of our economy and our future.


The concept there is that theres not much value to us attacking Chinese systems. We might take a few computers offline. We might take a factory offline. We might steal secrets from a university research programs, and even something high-tech. But how much more does the United States spend on research and development than China does? Defending ourselves from internet-based attacks, internet-originated attacks, is much, much more important than our ability to launch attacks against similar targets in foreign countries [...].


When you look at the problem of the U.S. prioritizing offense over defense, imagine you have two bank vaults, the United States bank vault and the Bank of China. But the U.S. bank vault is completely full. It goes all the way up to the sky. And the Chinese bank vault or the Russian bank vault of the African bank vault or whoever the adversary of the day is, theirs is only half full or a quarter full or a tenth full.

But the U.S. wants to get into their bank vault. So what they do is they build backdoors into every bank vault in the world. But the problem is their vault, the U.S. bank vault, has the same backdoor. So while were sneaking over to China and taking things out of their vault, theyre also sneaking over to the United States and taking things out of our vault. And the problem is, because our vault is full, we have so much more to lose. So in relative terms, we gain much less from breaking into the vaults of others than we do from having others break into our vaults.

fidotron 1 day ago 9 replies      
To be fair here, the NSA should very well be doing these things, for the purpose of attacking other states. The reason is very clear as the Russian attacks on Estonia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_cyberattacks_on_Estonia ) demonstrate a clear need for defensive capability in this area, and where you have defence you end up needing offence.

This persistent confusion between legitimate NSA operations such as preparing to intercept communications of foreign governments and illegitimate such as mass slurping of everyone's email merely serves to discredit the entire privacy defending position, and in the long run will just play into the hands of those that want to read everyone's email for nefarious purposes.

Animats 1 day ago 7 replies      
Everything at the lowest levels needs to be tightened up now.

Buffer overflows in trusted code have to go. This means getting rid of the languages with buffer overflow problems. Mostly C and C++. Fortunately we have Go and Rust, plus all the semi-interpreted languages, now, and can do it.

We need something that runs Docker-like containers and, all the way down the bare metal, has no unsafe code. We need dumber server boards, with BIOS and NIC code that's simpler and well-understood. The big cloud companies, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are already doing their own server boards.

Companies which put in "backdoors" should face felony criminal prosecution. That doesn't happen by accident.

Latest CERT advisory: "Vulnerability Note VU#936356 Ceragon FiberAir IP-10 Microwave Bridge contains a hard-coded root password ... Ceragon FiberAir IP-10 Microwave Bridges contain an undocumented default root password. The root account can be accessed through ssh, telnet, command line interface, or via HTTP. ... CERT/CC has attempted to contact the vendor prior to publication without success."

All Ceragon customers should demand their money back, and their products should be seized at US customs as supporting terrorism.

zmanian 1 day ago 1 reply      
There are a number of objectionable elements to the NSA foreign operations.

- Mass surveillance of all humans is objectionable on human rights terms.

- Attacks on civilian infrastructure. The NSA is executing military operations against civilian infrastructure even in NATO countries.

It isn't conventional foreign policy or warfare for a military agency to be actively and continuously attack the civilian cultural and economic infrastructure in preparation for war.

jacquesm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Judging by the scope of the attack on Belgacom in 2011 that battle is already underway, the surprise I guess should be that it is the allies attacking each other. If China or North Korea would have made an attack like this it would be trumpeted as an act of war, but because it is the UK with NSA assistance it's downplayed as much as possible.
jakeogh 1 day ago 1 reply      
The premise that we need "beneolvient power" to "protect us" from "evil doers" is the oldest trick in the book. If there is no threat, one will be generated. Almost organically, it does not even take overt orginization. The players know cui bono.
Briguy2k 1 day ago 1 reply      
Speaking as a citizen, the problem with the US's newest brand of digital weapons, is that they can be used on US population under the radar and w/o killing anyone. This may justify legally their extended use for surveillance unfortunately. The development of the atom bomb and chemical weapons had no "convenient" use on the USs own citizens, and they clearly couldn't get away with it. However, these weapons do, and they are being developed with all the same force, purpose, and financial backing as the a-bomb and chemical weapons were ~100 years ago.
tete 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I find really frightening is where they write:

From a military perspective, surveillance of the Internet is merely "Phase 0" in the US digital war strategy.


This enables them to "control/destroy critical systems & networks at will through pre-positioned accesses (laid in Phase 0)." Critical infrastructure is considered by the agency to be anything that is important in keeping a society running: energy, communications and transportation. The internal documents state that the ultimate goal is "real time controlled escalation".

This isn't about fighting terrorism. It's also not about the usual warfare it's more like the infrastructure or a set of tools to control nearly every other country or the planet or at least make sure that the US will always be able to keep them from disagreeing.

thefreeman 1 day ago 2 replies      
The NSA should just leak documents showing all of the other governments doing this stuff so we can move on from the Anti US/UK circle jerk. Seriously if you think your government hasn't invested serious time and money in digital subterfuge you are living in a dream world and need to wake up.
benstein 1 day ago 6 replies      
How is this whistleblowing? What benefit do we as the public gain from this knowledge?
junto 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty late to the party here but there are some fascinating parallels between the USG's actions in the physical world, as in the digital one.

First to USG has made a concerted and successful attempts to place secret digital strongholds and black sites across the globe, including some 'behind the enemy lines' so to speak. In the physical world these are the equivalent to CIA black sites and safe houses, from which you can attack and spy on the enemy, feed in extra weaponry to partisans and rebels (similar to the CIA Benghazi compound, sorry 'consulate', sorry 'embassy'.

The NSA has all these smart dangerous and arguably immoral minds employed to defend the digital borders of the US. But in truth these minds are busier establishing secret pathways through the digital trenchlines in order to have a definive and effective advantage when the cyberwar comes (which of course they are actively encouraging to validate their position, historical actions and future funding).

At the same time they are making a concerted effort to make sure that the security protocols everyone uses are undermined and backdoored. In effect they are making sure that the digital nuclear weapons held by their enemies aren't going to get in the air when the time comes.

Through strong encryption we could make sure that we have the digital equivalent of mutually assured security, but as ever the US isn't interested in this, because the reality is that the military industrial compound aims to make billions of dollars from the industry.

In a world where all communications and hardware devices were secure, they wouldn't make any money. A secure, stable and safe world just isn't profitable.

tosser002 1 day ago 5 replies      
I can understand the support of Snowden for blowing the whistle on domestic spying, but how is this defensible?
ancarda 1 day ago 2 replies      
> the only law that applies is the survival of the fittest.

Is this such a problem? In a world where exploits are used to break infrastructure, isn't the best solution simply to build increasingly more secure code? If that won't solve the problem I don't know if legislation will. Right now a determined hacker can harm a company via the internet (e.g. Sony). Are laws really going to stop that from happening?

If not, please correct me. I know little about cyber warfare and would love to know more.

stickhandle 1 day ago 0 replies      
The last 2 articles I read were this one and the earlier piece on Google and neural nets [1]. It's easy to connect the two, add the pervasive integration of technology in our lives, mix in a healthy dose of paranoia --> see a SkyNet future.


amirmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
At best this seems like an arms race but at worst, there are actually battles being fought (of a kind). I wonder what the digital equivalent of a nuke would be such that govts decide that diplomacy is better. Some kind of Digitally Affected Mutual Destruction (DAMD).
kgarten 18 hours ago 0 replies      
seems to me a lot of people flaged the story (443 points, 1 day ago, on page 3 with a couple of stories with 200 points also 1 day ago) ... wondering why conspiracy theories ;)
philip1209 1 day ago 1 reply      
Domestic surveillance was controversial and surprising. Is a spy agency preparing ways to attack and cripple foreign infrastructure that unexpected or contentious?
ajcarpy2005 1 day ago 1 reply      
How should NSA spying figure into the public's view of Obama's efforts to help municipalities build out competitively priced broadband networks?
SCHiM 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing to be said about the offence vs defence side of this story is that the adage the best defence is a good offence definitively applies here. It's so much easier to attack another system than defend your own. It's inherent to the way systems are set up:

A computer system has many services, programs and tasks running on it. Only one of these needs to contain a flaw for a system to be vulnerable, obviously this means that on a secure system everything must be perfect, for 1 flaw compromises everything.

Therefore I don't find it strange that the NSA allocates the resources it does to research and expand it's offensive capabilities, since trying to defend the systems of the US is probably a lost cause. The question remains if this is ethical and/or legitimate. Being a non us-citizen I'm certainly opposed to the practises of weakening standards and harvesting/exploiting services on the internet.

I also find the double-speak of the US government deplorable, on the one hand we have the government declaring that in many ways a cyber-attack will, and can, be reacted upon as if it were a conventional attack. And on the other hand we have the US government attacking and targeting civilians (Belgacom Sysadmins). I fail to see how attacks against the US can be labelled as a conventional attack, but that attacks from the US against civilians are apparently OK.

squozzer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I won't pretend to know what's going on here or its implications. So far humanity has lucked out considering our capacity for building some pretty nasty weaponry. We'll probably go through a series of cyberwars before we come to our senses.

I don't blame the NSA for trying to be ready to fight a cyberwar. Other nations probably wouldn't stop their programs even if the US did. Our culture isn't the only one infected with a sense of Manifest Destiny.

Where we might consider drawing the line begins with necessity. Deciding which actions are necessary and which are gratuitous might prove difficult, assuming we even know, which is why I find it hard to fault Snowden for leaking this information.

As fearsome as the NSA sounds, certainly they have some limits. For instance, why don't they just clean out everyone's bank accounts? Might pay their bills for a few days anyway. But why haven't they gone after certain criminals? Many shady operations keep their money in jurisdictions that probably can't compete with our cyberwar capabilities. Maybe these operations enjoy the protection of a powerful entity but probably not all of them do. And probably many operations still use cash and couriers but the US and others seem to have gotten better at tracking movements of people so it's doubtful such tactics will remain viable forever.

Maybe in the end we have to somehow conquer the notion of distrust. Not sure how it can be done except through telepathy and even then the transition to a telepathic society will probably be full of misery.

UhUhUhUh 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is also this very American reassuring belief that quantity will somehow take you to quality.
qatester 1 day ago 0 replies      
For me the only bunch of people who wants and loves to start war is USA government, note I am not saying americans, I am saying US government. Why should you prepare if you dont have intention of war? "defense", from whom? from people where you started war? directly with Afghanistan, Iraq and some others, indirectly with Syria, even with Russia (started economically) and many others where they got governments with bribes. Now preparing for D war. Every war started with flag of "Demo hypocracy", defense and some other pseudo defensive words, reality is USA starts war and government fuckingly loves when people die. Probably you are going to downvote, thats because you didnt lost any of your brother, sister or even relatives and friends in such wars which just started because they wanted more oil and more money.
Google Glass sales halted
points by kerrsclyde  3 days ago   259 comments top 47
saosebastiao 3 days ago 21 replies      
Google Glass took a good idea for some contexts and mass marketed it to a completely different context where it's primary feature was mostly useless. HUDs and AR make a ton of sense when you need to augment human knowledge, intelligence, and sensory in real time with voice as the primary user interaction. Flying fighter jets, driving race cars, fighting on a battlefield, working in complex and unsafe industrial operations, etc.

AR doesn't significantly augment your experience of riding the bus to work, ordering dinner at a restaurant, taking a walk around the block, or even most forms of labor (manual or otherwise). So not only did Google Glass not have much of a benefit, but it had the drawback of annoying countless people who had to be around the glasshole who never stopped yapping at their glasses.

donpdonp 3 days ago 3 replies      
Google Glass was ahead of its time, for a while. They re-engineered the guts of a cellphone to fit into an eyeglass frame. The visual 'cube' that forms the display was a novelty and kept the project within the bounds of whats possible to be manufactured today.

Then Google came across a fiber optic eye-ball projector that made the Glass visual interface look like an 8-Track of the Doobie Brothers. They immediately realized this and dumped a half billion dollars on the project, Magic Leap.


Some day, Google will spring a productized version of this on the public and it'll be like nothing before, including Oculus. Its the best shot we've got at 'true' augmented reality.

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 2 replies      
So some speculation (since we on the outside can never be sure, and when I worked at Google it was always interesting to see the difference between what was reported vs the reality inside the company.)

I've always felt that consumer products were going to be really hard for Google to pull off. It reminded me of Intel trying to make an LED wristwatch in the early 80's. Too much consumer 'hands on', too much industrial design. Neither of which Google are strengths.

I expect glass is dead, all the money they might have invested in making it real they spent on Magic Leap, and now its up to the Leap guys to be the 'visual interface to Google.' The small android experience will fold into the IoT part of Google (Nest) and that will be that.

xacaxulu 3 days ago 2 replies      
"calls end to" apparently equals "moved to another division for continued development on different timeline". Linkbaitish title.
amikula 3 days ago 2 replies      
It seems to me that Glass wouldn't have suffered half the backlash it got if the original release had excluded the camera. Even if everybody was just grumbling about how useless the product was without a camera, people still would have bought it, and it probably wouldn't have gotten half the bans or negative press it ended up getting.
alextgordon 3 days ago 4 replies      
If Google wanted to sell it to the world, they should have first made it without the camera. Later on when people are comfortable with the form factor: add the camera.

This is how we have ended up with mobile phones with cameras that nobody seems to mind about. Phones only got cameras halfway through their life. By then, it was too late to stop.

fidotron 3 days ago 3 replies      
Aside from the mismanagement of the software/hardware associated directly with Google Glass the true problem it had was the contradiction between the benefits of the user and those around the user. The single greatest thing about Glass, and it really was brilliant, was the ability to take pictures that almost perfectly captured your field of vision. This is, however, the precise feature those around you might take objection to. Take that feature away and Glass really has no use at all.

The irony of this is it's not hard to conceal cameras on people in order to record their surroundings if you're so inclined, and the reception to Glass just demonstrated how opposed people are to this when it's a visible intrusion, regardless of the actual threat presented.

psbp 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure what it means for the future of Glass, but doesn't the title and most of the content of the article undermine that it's being moved to an actual product division?
ereckers 3 days ago 0 replies      
I see it as something like Google Wave, a bit before the market is ready for it with a terrible form factor. However the technology and intent is correct.

These things will be back, but they won't be Google Glass, they'll be the "GoPro of Google Glass". Probably single function at first, cool looking, wearable/usable, with modders and hobbyists starting to build out functionality piecemeal until they have something really cool.

And back to that form factor, I'm just a regular guy, and I wouldn't be caught dead in these things. When the visual impression of your product is Robert Scoble wearing them in the shower, you know you're doomed.

untog 3 days ago 1 reply      
And by "Glass programme" they mean the Explorers program, not the entirity of Glass itself, which is being moved from Google X to something less R&D-y, in the hands of the Nest CEO.

Probably about time - Glass needs to sink or swim already.

chaostheory 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I didn't read this line I would feel that it would be a dead product:

> She and the Glass team will report to Tony Fadell, the chief executive of the home automation business Nest

It sounds like they're just transitioning the responsibility to an Apple vet who has good taste.

bitemix 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think we place too much emphasis on visuals simply because they're more readily at-hand for the individual user, even when doing so forces those around that individual far outside their comfort zone. It creates a barrier, putting both sides on the defensive, at odds with each other.

Meanwhile, we drastically underestimate the potential utility of non-visual sensory augmentation. For instance, a hidden device providing vibrotactile information could provide far subtler, lower-level cues about the world around us, even to the point of widening the human experience to nearly limitless novel senses [0].

That's the direction I'd love to see us move wearables and technology in general: pervasive, yet unobtrusive.


tmwh91 3 days ago 0 replies      
The glass team sent this email to Explorers:


tldr; all XE development stopped as of Monday

huhtenberg 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's the camera.

Google made a massive mistake by bundling the Glass with the camera. Camera is the reason for the backlash and the seriously tainted brand ("glassholes" and such). Of course they couldn't launch it as is. Though I wonder if they learned the lesson or if they will just hold a pause and relaunch it with no hardware changes.

sambeau 3 days ago 3 replies      
So, is this good news or bad news for current Glass owners?

If it was me I think I'd be upset to see that my expensive piece of kit had effectively (if not officially) been end-of-lifed. (if not for Google themselves but almost certainly for any 3rd-party developers.)

But, I suspect some people would like the new exclusivity and perhaps the rare collectibility?

Isamu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was hoping this would be useful at some point for my daughter, who has low vision.

So I am hoping that augmented vision catches on, in more than just niche categories, so that the hardware can evolve more quickly.

It probably needs to be carefully separated from the recording capability, to work around the "creepy" factor.

jonpress 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Instead it will focus on 'future versions of Glass' with work carried out by a different division to before."

Is that division made up of people from Magic Leap by any chance? http://gizmodo.com/how-magic-leap-is-secretly-creating-a-new...

The next step is to project 3D images directly into the eyeballs!

auvi 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a speculation but I think Google is dropping Glass because they are convinced that Magic Leap will be the winner. We have to wait to see what comes out from Magic Leap.
SocksCanClose 3 days ago 0 replies      
augmented reality's first home run will be in the mundane industrial sector where it can be used for training, inventory management, logistics, and any number of other things.

i take this as a cautionary tale of product-market fit. as mark andreessen says, where a market exists and a competent but not visionary startup finds itself, the market will often "pull the product out of the startup."

that obviously didn't happen here. i think it is because glass was both narrative AND product. narrative meaning that glass was supposed to be a transformational product, meant to elevate google from a search company to a product company.

they weren't going to let the product find its market (my thesis: industrial). instead, pushed it to the market they wanted it pushed to (consumer), because it fit a narrative they _wanted_ to be true.

aledalgrande 3 days ago 0 replies      
I bought one for dev purposes, and I was never really convinced about the design (even being a prototype). It looks nice, but it is unbalanced on a side, they could have put an extra battery on the other side, the official blog was just talking about Instagram-like uses (who is that had that horrible idea?) and the screen was not great.
mmanfrin 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google's Lisa. Maybe I can recoup the cost 20 years down the road as a collectors item.
lgleason 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the glass-community forums they are not shutting down and will still support existing warranties etc..... My understanding is that there are some exciting things in store for the platform.
mrslx 3 days ago 0 replies      
i would absolutely love to use my glass at my desk when working. would do wonders to clear away all the apps i'm running for notifications and constantly checking my phone to see if i got a text or missed call from a client while i was in a meeting or drafting an email.. the major prob is the product is heavily focused on google services. if they came out swinging with a mac notifications app and ios app - i would use it all day. but they didnt, it sits in my drawer as something i use for show and tell.
rbrogan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wondering if Google had always expected this and Glass was a long-term strategic move or if this was unexpected and should be considered a blunder.
tdicola 3 days ago 0 replies      
Weren't they building some insane barge in San Francisco and New York to be a consumer showcase for Glass? Guess that's sunk now.
cddotdotslash 3 days ago 4 replies      
Sometimes, technology is simply ahead of its time. Honestly, I don't see a fit for Google Glass in society right now. That will likely change in three or five years, but right now, I feel there needs to be some kind of evolution to where Google Glass is considered "normal." It has already started with wearables - smart watches, fitness bands, etc. But it needs to expand in a more logical way before Glass can be included in that list.
Pxtl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Glass should not have been pushed at the cellphone consumer-good fashion-accessory market until they had something swanky that actually looked tasteful on a set of glasses.

At the current price-point? Enterprise would be the only market that would pay $1000 in decent quantities for such a niche device. If they could get it down to $200? It could be great for the GoPro set.

owenwil 3 days ago 1 reply      
Based on what Google's implying with this Glass news, seems it wasn't happy with the product and wants to change course. Now that it's an actual product division and they're killing the current iteration, I'd expect we don't hear anything for a long while until there's something new.
emodendroket 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow! Who could have anticipated this? Shocking.
dghughes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sales halted of something I could never buy even if I had the money.
uptown 3 days ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: I never tried glass. But the actual product screens I saw never seemed to come close to the slick marketing demo they showed with the parachuting guys.
jimrandomh 3 days ago 1 reply      
The sad thing is, many of the problems which sank this incarnation of Glass would have been fixed by the community if only they'd released the source code.
mkawia 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why don't they just pivot . GoPro is not a mainstream product but they are very successful
cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google should rename Google Glass to "Googly Eyes".
owly 3 days ago 0 replies      
yay! no more glassholes. seriosly though, they should have given them away to every popular actor and musician out there and pay them to use at events and concerts.
thankyouu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank the lord.
koolkoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Glass doesn't add any value to your life
DonHopkins 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's a narcissistic douchebag to do for attention, now?


hnriot 3 days ago 0 replies      
not a big surprise, they've all but completely disappeared from sight around S. Another Segway, but I doubt Google were ever serious about Glass, it was a demonstration of Google as committed to being a futuristic hi tech company.

The problem with the product is that people like the compartmentalization of the smartphone, you take it out of your pocket to take a photo, nothing surreptitious. And to be honest, the smartphone just does a lot more. This is going to be the challenge that the Apple Watch will also face, it competes with the smartphone for your attention and has to add enough additional value to justify the product segment.

Meanwhile, it's no big deal, products come and go and some end up with much smaller target customer base, although I suspect Glass is (as Segway was) being considered for a few specific markets but over the coming year or two will just vanish only to be revisited in a decade but with holographic projection (a la R2D2) and streetview-like surround-camera and built in plethora of biometric sensors that all feed into the big post-Singularity GoolgleBrain to provide it's eyes, ears and voice...

yupyupnice 3 days ago 0 replies      
let us rejoice ;)
3_2__1 3 days ago 0 replies      
"An update on Google Glass..."
tedunangst 3 days ago 0 replies      
So what will Scoble do when his pair breaks? How will he live?
jtlienwis1 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know what to say about Google glass, but the women at 3:57 of the BBC video is IDDG, intellectually drop dead gorgeous. Capturing her smile with $1500 glasses would be worth it.
radicalbyte 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the largest supermarkets in the UK have just released their own Google Glass app.


Nice timing.

stevebot 3 days ago 0 replies      
I remember when it first came out and developers in my area would kind of gloat over it and being one of the chosen "glass explorers". they would wear it to meetups and brag about the apps they were developing for it.

I'm kind of glad that it flopped in its current form and that those days are over.

tgb29 3 days ago 1 reply      
The first day I wore my glasses I was to busy looking at my screen and ran into a rock with my knee. There was not sufficient warning or instructions on how to interact with the world while wearing glasses. I've been running for 10 years and had no injuries and no every time I kneel on my left knee I feel pain.
zirkonit 3 days ago 3 replies      
Not really unexpected, the writing was on the wall.

It's a shame though, Glass hate is coming from the old school, technophobe camp. While it _is_ a clunky, underdesigned, underpowered piece of tech, we should aim for sleeker, more powerful, more useful head-mounted computers instead for no HMC at all.

What taking my daughter to a comic book store taught me
points by chaghalibaghali  3 days ago   344 comments top 55
po 3 days ago 15 replies      
I can already hear the debate raging about weather or not the images or particular examples in this article are acceptable or defensible or not. I think it's totally fine for the comics that this one shop has are there. Artistic freedom! Great! What's not super is that it's really the only kind. It's like netflix with only action movies.

This article should feature a bunch of blank photos representing the comics that don't exist. Those are the problem. It's ok to have super sexed-up comics in the store, but it's really sad that's all they have.

Japanese manga is fully of sexy, weird, objectifying stuff that most people really wouldn't want their kids to see, but go to a bookstore in Japan and you'll also see bookcase after bookcase of manga totally appropriate for all ages with young girls pressing their nose into them. Stories about teenage girls getting picked on at school or trying to meet the right guy or saying stupid things in class. Stories about girls who are in bands and office workers and every possible thing.

I think the comic industry, video games, tech, and geek culture in general are all going through growing pains as they find adoption in a larger market. We need more articles like this helping people realize what a "normal" comic shop could look like. The comics we have today would still be in there, there would just be more variety and the market for comics would be healthier.

It's actually a better scenario for everyone.

perakojotgenije 3 days ago 16 replies      
I've never understood Americans' obsession with superhero comics. When I was a kid I was reading Asterix[1], Gaston Lagaffe[2], Spirou et Fantasio[3], Lucky Luke[4], Prince Valiant[5], The Phantom[6] and similar stuff. Of course, I've read Superman, Batman and Spiderman also but at least I've had a choice. I can't understand why they don't exist in US, why are the only comic books Americans know superhero comics?







vertex-four 3 days ago 2 replies      
For those who honestly believe that women will never want to read comics - look into webcomics. A huge proportion of the reader base for a good, PG-13(-ish) webcomic will likely be female, and there's a number of webcomics that are targeted towards women. A number of these comics will eventually be printed and sold, usually via the Internet, sometimes at conventions.

I went to the Thoughtbubble Comic Convention last year in the UK, and returned with a hefty bag full of comics that do not exaggerate sexual characteristics (or, in fact, mention sex at all in most cases), focusing on good art and a compelling storyline. Some of these are webcomics, some were designed to be sold as graphic novels and serial comics.

The comic book store is a remarkably poor selection of what's out there, and I think they might've got themselves into a recursive image problem - they stock primarily comics for a certain audience, so only that audience go there, so any change is not welcomed.

vidarh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having recently been on a comics binge after 20+ years of reading very few US comics and only slightly more European comics, and definitively not being very sensitive to this issue, I must admit it's still very much more noticeable today. The number of "lets make sure her ass shows" "shots" is much higher than I remember. Occasionally you even have characters comment on it. I'd think that if this was as prevalent when I was in my teens, I'd have much more vivid memories of it.

Most of the characters that were clearly targeted at children when I grew up are now clearly targeted at adults or at least teenagers. E.g. compare X-Men, Spiderman or Avengers from the last 10 years with the 1980's. The dialogue and over-exposition and extensive abuse of soliloquies alone in the 80's Marvel was something I didn't even remember from when reading it as a kid, but which makes a lot of them unreadable to me except for the nostalgia today (compare with Alan Moore's legendary Swamp Thing run which has kept fantastically), but the drawings were also lot less "realistic" and so I at least don't remember the same amount of overly sexualized images.

But at the same time, as some of the commenters on the article points out, there are also a number of titles with characters that fit better for younger readers, and some of them with female leads, and generally more diverse such as the new Ms Marvel (which is a teenage muslim girl of pakistani descent) as Marvel in particular seems to want to capture a wider audience.

cwyers 2 days ago 1 reply      
My daughter is seven, and she comes with me to the comic book shop several times a month. She has 2-3 comics a week on her pull list -- Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo Team-Up, Adventure Time, Regular Show, Tiny Titans (until it goes back on hiatus again), My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. We just got into an arguement the other day -- I am NOT buying two copies of Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl a month, she can just borrow mine. Get yourself a copy of the Diamond catalog (it's right there in the store, or you can normally find the solicits on the publisher's websites -- look for Boom and IDW especially, in addition to the Big Two), find stuff your daughter might like, and tell the store to order it for you. Or go to a different comic book store, if they won't. I've been going to the same comic book shop for years now, even though there's five shops closer (I drive by at least one comic book shop on the way to my regular shop), because they'll order what I want, and they even let me know when there's things they think she might want to read.
clarkevans 3 days ago 2 replies      
I might tend to disagree with the author's final conclusion, that his daughter is too young to understand (at least about sexism and double standards, if not sex). Talking about this subject with your daughter when she brings it up is absolutely appropriate. There is lots of societal pressure on very young girls to fit a specific mold. It starts with very mundane differences... like short/long hair.

Two weeks ago, for example, my daughter and I had a play date with a friend and his son. As we're leaving the basketball court, and putting on our winter jackets, my daughter says to him: "that's a cool jacket". To which the son replies: "this is a BOY jacket". My daughter laughed and said: "that's silly".

Anyway, speaking of Comics, PaperCutz has some very nice ones that my 5 year old daughter loves: http://papercutz.com/comics/monster

tsmarsh 3 days ago 4 replies      
I had a similar 'revelation' with violence in video games. I knew a lot of games were violent, but it wasn't until I found my 2 year old son watching me murder human after human with a crossbow in Tomb Raider that I 'got it'. It has ruined AAA video games for me.

I solved the problem by buying a Wii U. I'm not sure why that's better. I have killed hundreds of pikmin, squashed hundreds of goomba and worst of all, used the blue shell in anger. It's still incredibly violent, but I'm not willfully enjoying a murder simulator.

spuz 3 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe it's me but I cannot figure out what point the post is making. What exactly does the author 'get' now? How does the sexualisation of comic book characters relate to how women experience the tech industry? I'm not saying there isn't a link, but the author doesn't explain it from his point of view.

I have to admit I am a little discouraged by the way the author handles his interactions with his daughter. To explain something to your child as being for "older people" and to dismiss her questions with "Daddy's thinking, don't worry about it" seems to parallel the way adult women are treated by men. It's not my place to criticise how a parent behaves with their children but in an article that talks about the problems of empathy and understanding another's point of view it still seems that the author doesn't quite 'get it'.

virtualritz 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is an American problem. In Europe I grew up with Tin Tin, Jo, Zette & Joko but also John Difool and Nikopol.

Got to a comic store in Paris an there's an abundance of comics that are 'real' and kids friendly. No boobies or asses etc.

josefresco 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok so I have a daughter about the same age, and recently introduced her to comics (I was never a comic person).

I randomly picked up some weird Disney themed comic books at a flea market and showed them to my daughter who kept them in her bed. She ended up liking them, and so I casually started searching for comics for younger children.

In the city I am not, so my shopping started at Amazon.com - where I easily found a comic appropriate: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1401216684/

So yes, there is a large segment of comic books that is marketed towards horny teenagers, and overgrown horny teenagers and yes, you local comic shop probably doesn't cater to the under 10/female crowd. However, the content is easy to find, and it doesn't involve exposing your children to your creepy local comic store.

k-mcgrady 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised at the number of comments in this thread excusing it because of the market. The fact that nearly everyone who has made that point felt the need to create a new account to do so is very telling.

The market is influenced heavily by human beings. And no human being is morally perfect. There are lots of comics that sexualise women because there are lots of guys who, for some reason, enjoy seeing sexual cartoons. The people who draw comics, for some reason, also seem to enjoy drawing comics like this. That doesn't excuse the problem. There have been markets for plenty of things that we decided as a society aren't morally right to sell anymore.

rostasteve 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had a similar realization a few months ago. On special occasions people at the office will photoshop someone's face onto a superhero and send it around.

When it came time for my female manager's face to be put on a superhero, I had a seriously hard time finding a SINGLE non sexualized picture of a well known female superhero. Try it -- pick a female superhero and do a google image search. Then count the number of pages you have to navigate before you find a picture that you'd photoshop your manager onto.

johnchristopher 3 days ago 2 replies      
That feels weird to me because I like comics (I am from Europe, so "european comics" is a weird name for what I'd roughly translate to `Drawn stories` or `graphic novels`) and there are a lot of interesting indie or ya comics out there (edit: I mean, in the US too).

I suppose comics bookstore are just dump ground for Marvel/DC/Images/DH production of the week ?

For a 8-12 years-old, of the top of my mind: http://www.mouseguard.net/ and lmgt.

There are also the translated comics from Europe.

But I understand these are not weekly `updated` and that might not appeal to an american audience (cultural heritage).

ChicagoDave 2 days ago 0 replies      
I had the exact same experience about 6 years ago...my second oldest daughter (I have four) wanted comic books. She'd found some cool ones about Mary Jane Watson that were probably young adult-ish in story, but the drawings were pretty okay (nothing overtly sexual).

So we went to a comic book store and immediately the guy behind the counter jumped out and steered my kids to a very small corner in the front of his store. He looked me in the eye and said, "They really need to stay in this section."

I look at the rest of this very large store and it's a few teenagers, but mostly middle-aged men. The image I got in my head was not one of the defensible comic-book reader, but of a soft-porn environment.

So we looked at the kids comics and it was Archie and stuff. Nothing that my daughter wanted because she wanted the "drama" and "serious" tone...without the hyper-sexualized stories and images. We asked the owner and he said there was no market for those comics. They (the publishers) tried a few, and he named the exact comic my daughter had found, but those just didn't sell.

So we left with a handful of replacement comics, but we never went again and my daughter moved on, never even considering a comic book again. She reads YA novels now.

The YA novel industry is huge. I really don't understand why there's no market for YA comic books (not graphic novels). It seems odd and sad.

daktanis 3 days ago 0 replies      
I worked at a comic shop for 4 years, we pride ourselves on having a good "Kids/all ages" section of stuff that was more in line with what kids saw on TV; Justice League, The Avengers, Young Justice, Batman Brave and the Bold, avatar the last Airbender, adventure time, etc. That shop sounds like they need to stock better.
bane 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's no coincidence that Comic Books and Video Games have gone hand in hand. A long time ago there used to be quite a number of comics that targeted young kids, girls and people other than the 11-15 year old male demographic. There's also been lots of effort put into making games that will appeal to people outside of that demographic.

You could say, numbers don't lie, that those titles weren't being sold in enough quantities to keep them alive...and in some sense that's true. But how many ultra-niche comics with bizarre indie storylines stay alive year after year?

Actually a very large number of women I know ended up just reading Manga, they managed to find storylines and characterizations that they enjoyed. And now those women are watching cartoons, movies and dramas based on those same Manga. Most comic book stores you go into have a Manga section these days. But Manga is also full of titles with lots of sexualization. Like anything you have to be a smart consumer and not write off an entire class of entertainment, like movies, just because adult film stores exist.

It's the same with video games, after decades of struggle to find the market, some surveys are showing that women make up a significant portion of computer-game players: with leading games like The Sims, Bejeweled and WoW having huge populations of women playing them.

So the market is there, it's just that the makers are not doing a good enough job of hitting that market. Console game makers are just now starting to learn from computer game makers, and we're starting to see decent titles (mostly PC ports) to woo the other 50% of the market. But they too have really put out some crap trying to find that market.

But here's the truth, the women in mainstream super hero comic books are barely anatomically correct, but so are the men. Average characters possess exaggerated musculature not even the Greek gods possessed. And everybody has fantastical powers. These aren't meant to be forms of entertainment that represent reality...even a little bit. They're meant to be highly exaggerated depictions of reality, but the vector of exaggeration is very obviously on stereotypical male vectors.

fifthesteight 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's really sad to me how all of us in our industry are getting slapped across the face day in and day out about how unfairly, unequally and unjustly women are treated in our industry and peripheries.

You gents are too smart to still 'not get it.' I'm at the point where I see it as willful ignorance.

And I'm tired of all of it.

mansilladev 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having a daughter will teach you a lot of things, and give you more perspectives. Music lyrics, YouTube videos, ads on the billboard/bus, cartoons and even comics. They'll notice. And you'll notice them noticing.
rthomas6 3 days ago 1 reply      
For a young girl, it looks like the new Batgirl might fit the bill well [1]. Not trying to minimize the issue, I just thought the author might like this for their daughter.

[1]: http://36.media.tumblr.com/98dffc116ba398dd71703e02abd7518b/...


edwinjm 3 days ago 1 reply      
topbanana 3 days ago 0 replies      
These comics aren't aimed at young children, of any gender.

There are comics available for younger ones. Here in the UK my two read The Phoenix. It would benefit from more female characters, but they both enjoy it (boy 7, girl 6)


spb 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just recommended the author check out Ryan North's comics: https://twitter.com/ryanqnorth

Ryan North's the guy who does Dinosaur Comics (http://www.qwantz.com), and has since been hired to write the Adventure Time comic and the most recent run of Marvel's Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.


This is how I want to see more people solving this problem: not by trying to shout down the ones responsible (which goads people into defending institutional sexism to shout back in their defense, ugh), but by just doing it right.

prof_hobart 3 days ago 1 reply      
I agree that there's an awful lot of comics aimed squarely at the adolescent male, but at least in the comic store that my 8 year old daughter likes to go to, there's also a fair amount that she loves.

Her favourites at the moment are the Happy Happy Clover series, the Powerpuff Girls and Adventure Time, but there's quite a few others that she's enjoyed as well. That's alongside all of the books and merchandise for things like Studio Ghibli, and (nerdy) girl-friendly sci-fi like Dr Who and Star Wars.

As she gets older, I can see that she'll probably start to struggle to find stuff she still wants to read, but if that comic book store is offering nothing more than Hello Kitty and Monster High for young girls, you might want to see if you can find a better comic book store.

misterdai 3 days ago 0 replies      
A bit shocked that he seemed to be allowing his 5 year old son to buy Batman comics. I recently played catch up on the New 52 Batman series and found them pretty violent in places, enough that I wouldn't let any young child read them.
agentultra 2 days ago 0 replies      
In Toronto and surrounding cities (Canada) things are getting better with comic stores catering to independent publishers and artists (e.g.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beguiling).

Many local independent bookstores also contain a "graphic novel" section that tend to carry independent, literate examples of the medium.

I guess if you haven't been interested in comics for some time it can be disorienting to walk into any shop without doing a little research first.

Go indie! You'll do much better. One series I'm looking forward to getting my kids into is Mouseguard. But I also have comics about the fantastic women pioneers in science, the manhattan project, fairy tales, and so on.

robertwalsh0 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've only glanced at the top comments so I may have missed it if someone already said what I'm gonna. Can we just admit that it's stupid that superhero female characters are anatomically comical and wearing things they could never ever fight in?
MichaelMoser123 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hello? they have the Winx comics series http://winx.wikia.com/wiki/Winx_Club_Comic_SeriesHere the main heroes are girl fairies in high school (greetings from Harry Potter) and they even have a fairy of technology who has to fix things; my daughters (five and eight) like these.

Also in Germany they have Donald Duck series (quite popular); don't know why they don't have that in the US

chasing 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like he went to the wrong comic store. Or something.

Superhero comics don't interest me in the least (with the exception of the Watchmen, which I really enjoyed). But there's a ton of more "literary" comic books out there that are awesome.

In fact, the last comic I read was "Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller" -- and it was great! Something a young girl might find really interesting.


jrs235 3 days ago 0 replies      
Glyptodon 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's kind of interesting - I can think of a number of comics that don't fall into the sexualized gender trap, but they're all comics that have no business being read by a 7 year old, which seems almost backwards.

In a lot of ways I guess comics aren't really for kids anymore, which seems kind of sad.

rathernot 3 days ago 0 replies      
If the OP is reading this (I had a connection error when I tried to register to comment there) check out the Mary Jane comic aimed at teenage girls. [0]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider-Man_Loves_Mary_Jane

misterdai 3 days ago 3 replies      
While I can understand how part of his post is about the way women are portrayed physically in those comics. I'm not so sure on his examples he picked in reference to his children and their unsuitability. I already commented on how I wasn't sure if Batman was suitable for his 5 year old, given the nature of some lines, but some examples he picked in reference to his 7 year old daughter were a stretch.

Power Girl: Haven't fully checked but appears to be part of a line rated T for Teen.

Harley Quinn (Batman Detective Comics): Rated T for Teen.http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MTYwMFg5MDA=/z/axsAAOSwD0lUlJHV/$_...

Perhaps comic book stores should designate areas for different ratings of comics. Or comic companies should agree to make the rating larger. Or some parents need to become more aware that comics are just for kids, the same way that computer games aren't either.

rayiner 3 days ago 4 replies      
As the father of a daughter, and someone who normally gets worked up about this sort of thing, I don't see the big deal. I've always viewed comics as equivalent to daytime soap operas made more pornographic to suit teenage male tastes. What value is there in trying to capture this bit of culture for girls? Is it going to lead to higher paying jobs or more equal gender roles in the home? Is it going to lead to greater fulfillment in their personal lives?

To me, asking how we can get girls more interested in comics or sci-fi is like asking how we can address the gender imbalance in ditch digging jobs.

pdpi 3 days ago 3 replies      
The curves themselves are excessive, but look at the outfits and your argument comes tumbling down. Male superheroes are rarely portrayed in a sexually suggestive manner. Female superheroes see physically impossible cleavage and tons of skin as par for the course.

The exaggerated features make male superheroes look powerful, while female superheroes look like playboy bunnies. It's like you're supposed to identify with the former and lust after the latter they're both drawn to male sensitivities.

djent 2 days ago 0 replies      
It seems like comic books are not what you are looking for for your child. Try graphic novels
moomin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quite a lot of people appear to be under the impression this is about comics.
SeanLuke 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh. This website has modified the behavior of two-fingered scrolling and broke two-fingered magnification on OS X. How do I send glitter to the idiot who decided to break Mac users' conventions?
ck2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Harvey Quinn isn't a superhero or "role model" either like Superman/Batman.

Ms. Marvel is a good character but of course drawn for men.

And I am bracing myself for the WW movie, I've got a really bad feeling. Wish it had been Joss Whedon running that show.

Speaking of Whedon, it is too grown up concepts for a seven year old perhaps but Buffy Season Eight in comic form is pretty great.

RemoteWorker 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Error establishing a database connection"
peterwwillis 3 days ago 0 replies      
He's JUST NOW REALIZING this? Modern comics are the most sexually objectifying medium in the world, second only to straight pornography.

I always thought it was fucked up, even as a kid, how crazily unrealistic and sexualized comics were. Like, I knew it was wrong that women were being portrayed this way. But I still bought the comics of course.

If you think the way women are portrayed in video games and comics is normal, you are honestly messed up. The most scary thing about this article is that it took him this long to figure this out.

jccalhoun 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know who thought thought the new Harley Quinn outfit was better than the old one but they were wrong.
JohnE008 3 days ago 1 reply      
Breaking news! Father takes 7-year old daughter to a comic shop for older, male audiences. Daughter is offended! Misogyny, etc! Males are creeps! Sexualizing women in comics is offensive to women and therefore immoral! It's not like women can choose not to read such comics. It is a sign that you live a life of highest quality if you can worry about sexualization in fictional comics.
graycat 3 days ago 0 replies      
The seven year old girl was correct: It was not really a comic book store in the sense she had in mind. Instead it was a store with comic books for teenage boys and men and even there a fairly narrowaudience. The store was definitely not for children,especially not for grade school or younger girls.

A lesson she might have learned: It's a bigworld out there, and some of it, e.g., theview of women in that store, is not good, andsometimes, too often, in life wehave to be selective.

It's been a while since my brother and I were in gradeschool and he was collecting comic books. So, only vaguelydo I remember Donald Duck and Batman, and thosecomic booksweren't right up against the line, the other sideof which was porn.

Instead, say, take your seven year old daughter toa music store, not one for pop music butone where seven year old girls have a nice violinsand are learning the "Preludio" to the Bach E majorPartita for unaccompanied violin,


with Hillary Hahn, the Chaconne of Vitali,


with David Oistrakh, the Bach "Chaconne"


with Alina Ibragimova, or the Bach Busoni piano version


with Valentina Lisitsa, a store where the seven year old violin students are lookingforward to playing the violin part to theWagner "Prelude to Act I" of Lohengrin


with Otto Klemperer, also from thesame opera In fernem land


with Peter Anders and, of course, especiallysince she is a seven year old girl, startingat about 3:00, the bridal chorus


with Andris Nelsons. Of course, alsotell her the story of Lohengrin.

More? Sure: Camille Saint Saens "Mon coeur s'ouvre ta voix" from Samson et Dalila


with Elina Garancas.

More generally expose her to placesand media content wheregirls and women are actuallydoing things, good things. E.g.,currently there is the Nova programon he LHC and the Higgs boson at


Two detectors there found the same basicresult, and one of the detector groupswas led by a woman. That programhas more examples of women doing things.

Yes, there's a lot out there where the women are all interestedin nose jobs, breast implants, micro skirts, andthong panties, but there's also a lot outthere for women being productive,building a home and family with love,victory over loneliness, being productive, and withpride in accomplishments andemotional and financial security.

Get her a copy of the classicE. Fromm, The Art of Lovingwhich is about getting emotionalsecurity, exchanging knowledge,caring, respect, and responsiveness,and a role for religion -- best thingI ever read to understand peopleand personality.

Maybe take her to some Saturdayclasses in cooking school whereshe can learn to make, say, somereally good cookies she couldmake and share with her friends,e.g., at school. If I were 7-9 anda girl 7 gave me 2-3 really good cookiesshe had baked herself, then she wouldhave a good friend for years, prom dates, etc.If she could play classical musicon piano or violin or sing opera,even better.

How to get her interested in workinghard on, say, piano or violin? One way:Let her hear some of the music that iseasy to like. Then let her see some peopleworking hard on learning piano or violinand liking it. Example: A sister in lawtried to get her daughter interested inpiano. No luck. At the farm at Christmas,I was upstairs working on the Bach"Chaconne", and a niece, about 7, came upto watch. I put my violin under her leftchin, showed her how to hold the violin andthe bow, and to draw the bow across the strings.The next day her father asked me: "How muchis a violin going to cost me?". It works.

More? Sure: Get her the DVD of theAustralian Ballet performanceof Coppelia -- it's a total sweetheartstory, nearly all about young women,and where nearly everyone onstage is a young woman. And theactualyoung women on the stage, the realperformers and not the characters they play in the story,are examples of astoundingly hard work,productivity, and, in particular,are just fantastic as actresses,artists, and athletes, especiallyaerobic athletes.

Of course, at Christmas, get her all dressed up in some sort of a princessoutfit -- when I was that age the style wasdresses with red or black velvet withlots of satin ribbons and bows --and take her to a good performance ofThe Nutcracker. Also get her aNutcracker doll. It could be one of thehappiest times of her life, make herfeel more secure as a girl,and be a memory she will have andvalue forever.

Also get her DVDs of some of themovies from American Girl. Theymay also have some retail storesit would be better for her to visitthan that fake comic book store.

For books, maybe Nancy Drew?Or something similar but more recent?

Since she's seven, a girl, andbright, it may be that she could get good at Frenchwith blinding speed -- try tofind a way. Talk to some peoplewho know about how a girl of sevencould learn French.Maybe have her join a group, e.g., where also shecould meet other girls learning French.Maybe try a local Alliance Franaise.Maybe try some Internet learning materials.

Connection with her beinga girl? At that age, typicallygirls have much better verbalaptitude than the boysand are just fantastic at learninga language.

Be sure to have her learn touch typing --one of the best skills to have in life now.Talk to some people who know how a girl ofseven could learn touch typing, get her some materials, and pay attention her efforts,encourage and praise them, and help herlearn.

Then encourage and praise her inwriting: Have her start writingon nearly anything -- letters tograndma, how to train a kitten or puppy,how to bake terrific cookies,how to tie a bow tie,how to wash out stains,how to iron a dress,how to sew on a button,how to use a text editor,how to use Facebook,blog posts (anonymous),etc. Then get her started onEnglish grammar -- sentences,subjects, verbs, prepositions andprepositional phrases,adjectives and adverbs.Then make friends witha high school English teacher (nearly all women, right?) and have that teacherhelp your daughter improve herwriting. Then have your daughterwrite some longer pieces withsections, subsections, table ofcontents, figures, references,etc. on anything: If your familymoves, then have her write onmoving to a new house. Ongetting a puppy or kitten.Whatever. Get her going onwriting, then reading, themore in writing, then more inreading.

For being better in talking to her,and to others, too, get, read,study, think about, and use

Thomas Gordon,Parent Effectiveness Training:The Tested New Way to Raise Responsible Children.

also called reflective listening.

For more, get her several, usedwill be fine, high school textsin plane geometry, pick a favorite,use the others for alternative sources,and work through plane geometrywith her, that is, get thefun of doing the proofs. Emphasize orthogonality and thePythagorean theorem: Orthogonalityis one of the most important ideasin all of pure and applied mathematics, mathematical physics,engineering, multi-variate statistic, and best approximation, e.g., in computing, right up to howto do ad targeting on the Internet,Fourier theory, the fast Fouriertransform, digital filtering, etc.Sure: Quite generally every closedconvex set has a unique element ofminimum norm, and quickly get toa supporting hyperplane withorthogonality. Sure, one of thebiggest results in college mathis the polar decomposition inlinear algebra and, right,about orthogonal eigen vectors.Can get going on orthogonalityright there in high schoolplane geometry, and she likelyhas all the prerequisites.If not, in a few places takeout a few minutes and get hercaught up.

Give her a little onelectrons, protons, neutrons,atoms, energy and energylevels, and chemical bonds.Then, right, presto, bingo,guide her to the Internet videos of theEric Landerlectures on biology at MIT, say,


Also, don't have her miss (get hera bowl of popcorn for theoccasion)



April 19, 2010,

Eric Lander: "Secrets of the Human Genome"

Sure, have her watch some Brian Greenevideos.

Get her a freshman college chemistrybook and help her work through it,learn about NaCl, CaCO3,C-H bonds and methane, gasoline, and converting O and C-H bondedhydrocarbons to CO2 and H2O --e.g., as in heating the house,powering the car, flying an airplane, etc.

Look at the GED materials andget her through all of themby the time she is 8-9. A brightgirl of seven should be able toget through all of that in onenot very busy summer.

The GED materials are minimal --in particular in addition she will need toget through algebra I and II andtrigonometry and high school physics.

Then, to heck with high school --then get some good advice andguide her in home schoolingthrough, say, at least the firsttwo years of college. So, for calculus,just get her some good collegecalculus books (my view ofAP calculus is that it is to beavoided, skipped, ignored becausethe authorsdidn't understand calculus verywell -- similarly for Khan Academy --repeat, just get some good collegecalculus books, period), and, sure,make friends with a college mathprof to help her not get stuck andto stay on track. Then, sure,have her do college freshman physics --that's heavily just what calculusis for.

Then when she goes to college she willbe nicely ahead.

"Youth is such a wonderful timeof life. Too bad it's wasted onyoung people."

Don't have her waste hers.

elberto34 3 days ago 4 replies      
Garfield, Dilbert, Foxtrot and Calvin and Hobbes is about the extent of my comic repertoire

Taking a 7 year old to a comic store is like tasking her to a pg 13 movie.. . Not too surprised it didn't work out. Comics tend to deal with adult themes and are aimed at older people.

oldmanjay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Or "The Continuing Saga of Those Who Feel That Everything Must Be For EVERYONE"

Now with extra moralizing and breathless rhetorical style free of charge.

kbart 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why comics? There are plenty of good books (even with pictures) for the girls of that age. Comics were never supposed to be educational or have any non-entertainment value and primary tarted at hormones soaked male teens. Take her to the books store instead. You don't complain that nobody does piano recital during pop concerts -- either go there or not. Actually, I find annoying the trend of complaining about anything that does not suite somebody's needs or attitudes.
facepalm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Except that it's not true that no comics with "normal" female heroines exist. We had Yoko Tsuno when we were kids, for example. The most recent comics I bought were Buffy and Fray. You don't have to buy cheesy sex comics - I don't.

That lots of men enjoy comics with exaggerated sex symbols has no bearing on the offering for the female target democratic.

Same goes for books and movies and so on btw.

In the same vein, it doesn't bother me as a man that there are thousands of women's magazines, and only very few men's magazines. I just don't care - nobody is forcing me to buy them, after all. In fact there are zillions of products in the world I don't care for, and that doesn't make me feel discriminated against.

yarou 2 days ago 1 reply      
Articles like this further reinforce that we have major issues here in America around sexuality. Why can't we teach our children that sexuality is a positive thing, not something that's akin to commiting a capital offense? When we reinforce the negative aspects of sexuality, that leads to abnormal behaviors like nymphomania and self-destructive tendencies. i understand that there are gender objectification issues, but I think that misses the point entirely.
tiquortoo 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the demographics swing at the edges of the market the center will respond. Particularly if there is social pressure to do so. This is not a malicious endeavor it is a market response and we frankly don't have to be so hand-wringy about it.
transfire 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just be honest. Seven year old girls aren't stupid. "Most comics are made for older guys and teen age boys that don't have girlfriends. So they try to make them feel better about it by making comics with half-naked big boobed women. Sad perhaps, but such is life." Then proceed to show her the many comics she would like, from Archie to Oz, there are still plenty of options. The new Ms. Marvel is a particular stand out.

Trying to convey this as some sort of social ailment is rather silly. It's simply human nature. And unless you think we should all become asexual, it isn't going to change.

savanaly 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's kind of a shame for the minority of women or men who prefer to see women depicted realistically in the comics they read. But that contingent is small enough that I fear it just isn't viable to serve them. The comics market has been around awhile and is fiercely competitive, so I think we can be confident it is delivering the efficient solution as it stands. That said, gradually shifting the tastes of everyone around you by writing countless articles and making speeches at conventions etc. is legitimate if you feel that strongly about it, so more power to them I guess.
mojuba 3 days ago 1 reply      
Terrible writing... Some people code like this. You look at what they did and just wonder why something that can be written in 3 lines is written in 200 lines of code.
everyone 3 days ago 1 reply      
I dont see this as an issue. Putting it very bluntly. Comics are (in general) of low quality (in terms of writing, ideas* ), aimed (in general) at a specific creepy contingent of society composed of teenage boys or men who still act like teenage boys.So, who cares about them!? Contemporary media, games, tv shows, films, music, are filled with and largely composed of terrible dross. If you're discerning that involves ignoring 99% of media and almost completely ignoring comics.

*Obviously there are some good comics which I've read (Akira is a good example) but, in my experience, the soaring heights of the greatest writing in comics would be seen as mediocre in another domain.

talmand 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a father of daughters, I'm waiting for the series of articles that will help me understand the proper way to have a conversation with them about the fact that their boyfriends, when they are old enough to have them, do not have the muscular build nor the attractive looks of common comic book characters such as Batman, Superman, and so on that they constantly see. Never mind when they see movies with all those overly attractive male stars.

But all I get are articles about how certain comic books, that they probably shouldn't be reading anyway, gives them unrealistic expectations of what their bodies should look like. Plus the fact that will somehow prevent them from getting a career they want to have.

Anyway, I often take my daughters to the local comic book store that I feel has an adequate range of comics for all ages and gender. I let them loose to get what they want. The older one goes for things like Monster High and My Little Pony. The younger goes for those as well as TMNT and Transformers. I just let them decide for themselves what kind of comic book reader they want to be. I feel they'll mostly work it out for themselves. Some people shouldn't worry so much over such details because in the end it only stifles your kid's growth as a person. Trying to shield them from the world they live in doesn't help them in the long run.

Presenting the Most Over-Engineered Blog Ever
points by jlongster  3 days ago   77 comments top 27
kderbe 3 days ago 7 replies      
The most over-engineered blog that I know of is Casey Muratori's at http://mollyrocket.com/casey/ . "View source" and you'll see a long list of auto-generated variables and function calls, unlike anything else you've probably seen for any website.

Casey attempts to explain what he did in a podcast[1]. Apparently, he was frustrated enough with CSS's margins that he built a layout engine in C that calculates offsets for every piece of text in the page, then generates hundreds of lines of Javascript that apply fixed positioning to arrange the text.

[1] transcript: http://mollyrocket.com/jacs/jacs_0004_0010.html

tekacs 3 days ago 1 reply      
It might be worth turning your GitHub links in the article into permalinks (hit 'y' in the GH interface once you've targeted the file and line) so they don't fall out of date.

Nice work!

DomKM 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great stuff!

You're correct about it being sort of awkward at first when you are figuring out how to structure an isomorphic applications. It gets even weirder when you only use JavaScript as a compilation target.

I created an example isomorphic Clojure and ClojureScript application (https://github.com/domkm/omelette) and wrote about how it works (http://domkm.com/posts/2014-06-15-isomorphic-clojure-1/). It was an interesting experience. I wouldn't recommend it for production quite yet but I'm looking forward (and working toward) the day when we can easily deploy isomorphic applications that are not written in JavaScript.

bsimpson 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm also experimenting with isomorphic React apps. I'll be presenting some of my work at React Conf at the end of the month (so this isn't yet as well documented as it should be), but here's what I'm trying to handle async data with ReactRouter:

- Have the data your view depends on expressed as a named parameter in routes.jsx: https://github.com/appsforartists/ambidex-example--bike-inde...

- Use those named parameters to resolve which stores need to be populated before rendering: https://github.com/appsforartists/ambidex-example--bike-inde...

- Don't render the page on the server until those routes are populated: https://github.com/appsforartists/Ambidex/blob/master/src/ca...

In that example, the editBike view depends on bikeID. actionsForRouterState makes sure that the viewBike action is called to populate the CurrentBike store before any route that includes bikeID is rendered.

bevacqua 3 days ago 2 replies      
More over-engineered than http://ponyfoo.com?

https://github.com/ponyfoo/ponyfoo has over 2k commits

iso8859-1 3 days ago 3 replies      
Would this make it possible to have the whole page in <noscript> tags to make it crawlable by all bots and browsable in Links, Lynx, Dillo, w3m and offByOne?
Xophmeister 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been doing something similar using Backbone and Ezel[1] (I first started using Rendr[2], but couldn't get into it): As the OP says, it can be a bit confusing to get your mind around. Particularly the routing; part of my intention was to use the "isomorphic" technique -- btw, as a mathematician, I really hate that this term is used...but I digress -- to create a SPA that falls back to a traditional multipage site if/when JavaScript is disabled. It was a bit of a hurdle, but ultimately proved possible.

I might give React a closer look, having read this.

[1] http://ezeljs.com/

[2] https://github.com/rendrjs/rendr

gcanti 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm also experimenting with "isomorphic" apps. I wrote a router with an expressjs/hapijs like API (middlewares included). The main point is handling the state before choosing the view. The concept is general enough to avoid being tied to React although React makes things easier. Once you have such a router, handling nested views (a la react-router) is a trivial particular case.

Here's my lab https://github.com/gcanti/tom

feedjoelpie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yes, yes, yes. At my company we've been switching everything over to React for both client/server rendering using our own ExecJS rendering engine for Ruby on Rails. It certainly adds a bunch of complexity to the stack, but every improvement we make provides new benefits in terms of the ease with which we can keep the API stack we like while cranking out rich UI while worrying much less about the client/server distinction.

Needless to say, I am a React fan.

That said, here are some things you will run into as you build more complex applications with this architecture. Some are related to shared browser/server JavaScript and some are React in general:

* You will find that some JavaScript libraries you want to use should not be loaded into the server context.

* On occasion, you will need to add server-vs-browser conditionals. And creating components to deal with browser-focused JS libraries (think Google Maps) will require some liberal and sometimes awkward use of React component lifecycle methods.

* Until there's a nice, agreed-upon open-source layering library for React out there, or you make your own, things like click-based (not hover-based, which can work with just CSS) dropdowns and non-modal dialogs are weirder to get to dismiss (when clicking outside of them) than they should be. Just because of the way React events happen and are bound.

* Also because of the way events are bound, it's awkward to write nice reusable form components. Without some trickery, you can only bind events from the component you're writing to its descendents. You can't bind events from one descendent to another. You end up writing a new component for each form every time, which isn't necessarily terrible until you want to make a fancy form builder like Rails provides in ERB. I've tried every which way around this, and I've had some success, but the solution always feels wrong and ugly no matter how I do it.

* This is really more of a good thing, but it's so enabling that you'll never really be done adding convenience features. There are just so many "Wouldn't it be nice if ____ just worked?" scenarios that get you thinking about the next reusable tool you want. I spend a LOT of time trying to create the "perfect" browser-side data store abstraction and the "perfect" lazy loader/renderer component for not-yet-fetched models.

The tradeoffs thus far have been worth it, but we haven't yet found or built the holy grail. So many things are so much easier than the old ways, but sometimes they're harder.

mattdesl 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice writeup. I can definitely see "isomorphic" or client/server frameworks (React and Ember especially) being the go-to choice for new sites.

I guess an exception would be richer "experiential" type of apps and toys, where some DOM might be replaced with Canvas/WebGL, and transitions/animations/etc take precedence over SEO and initial load time. I haven't seen much innovation in terms of MVCs or frameworks that target these types of sites.

jxm262 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great job! Also love the write up you gave and that you shared the code. I tried doing something similar a while back but never got around to finishing it, so I'll definitely dig through this source for some inspiration. I'm very curious how you'll develop the integration between webpack and gulp (or whatever you plan on using) as I tried doing something similar with Grunt but eventually gave up. Having only one build step would be awesome.
crm416 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. I've played around with React's server-side rendering [1] and was really impressed once I'd hooked it all up. To see React hook up the event handlers and render nothing at all was really satisfying.

I haven't had a chance to use react-router, but it's great to hear that they've put in the work to make server-side rendering a reality. I only hear positive things. Kudos.

[1] http://www.crmarsh.com/react-ssr/

cstrat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool, I haven't ready looked into react. I have just started with meteor and it's been fun and a big learning experience. My previous background was all with php and traditional client/server nteractions. It's quite hard overcoming that way of thinking. Not really sure if it's relevant but my first meteor app was completely built with calla & methods rather than realising the client/server boundary isn't what it used to be...
JDiculous 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool stuff. Was planning to do something similar but never got around to implementing the client-side rendering bit (http://www.jbernier.com). The codebase I work on at work is also isomorphic JS with React. Sharing client/server code is definitely the way to go.
mjackson 3 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome stuff James :) I've been having a lot of those weird client vs. server realizations myself. Still getting used to thinking about stuff that renders in both places.

I'm particularly interested in hearing about your ansible + docker setup. I've been using both a lot lately, and trying to figure out the best way to use them together.

passfree 3 days ago 2 replies      
Yes it is over-engineered. Heck, even WordPress is engineered. Blogs are essentially static pages with the comments as a moving part (i.e. dynamic). Most blogs can happily leave on a static web folder if bound to something like Disqus or whatever you decide to use.
bagosm 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very nice! A question though: it does need a knowledge of client state right? How big is that data per session? Is it viable to keep the data on client and send with each request via a cookie so that you don't need more server resources?
slashnull 3 days ago 0 replies      
My god so many incredible links of crazy blogs here...

I took a certain pleasure in the opposite recently, by writing on a few simple .html files on an Apache server with headers in <h\d> and content in either <p> or <ul>

backspaces 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, JavaScript is approaching science fiction levels of sophistication! Love the idea of moving functionality from client to server or reverse. Knew about Docker but not Ansible, thanks for that. Now we need some Sweet Macros to help too.
Touche 3 days ago 3 replies      
> Unfortunately, full client-side apps (or "single page apps") suffer from slow startup time and lack of discoverability from search engines.

This is simply not true. Google announced that they can crawl single page apps just fine nearly a year ago (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/05/understan...) and although Bing hasn't announced anything they are likely working on the same thing if it's not already rolled out.

Google does this already; it works. Rendering on the server has little actual value in 2015 but it some how became a critical feature all of the JS frameworks are fighting for without proper explanation of its benefit.

EDIT: It's fine if you disagree and I don't even mind being downvoted, but please do explain.

Xeoncross 3 days ago 0 replies      
In addition to server-rendered blogs and this isomorphic blog, I wrote a client-side blog called "Jr" (https://github.com/Xeoncross/jr)
arenaninja 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been doing this for a private project, and a LOT of my time is sunk into thinking how my app should be structured. It's an absolute nightmare, but also great fun!
esMazer 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is a really cool idea, however I can see how some people would try to abuse the app playing pranks on other people and the like.. I don't have an iphone so I can't check if there are some ways that the users are verified (basically a test to see if they are really blind) seems extreme but this might be better to help grow a more 'healthy' community
rbanffy 3 days ago 0 replies      
And I was thinking using Plone for my blog was overkill...

Wel... "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing".

dcre 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post. Why didn't you use JSX?
pandeiro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Add some immutable data and sweet.js macros and you've nearly got ClojureScript!
stopachka 3 days ago 0 replies      
haha, this is awesome!
Facebook open-sources deep-learning modules
points by darklrd  2 days ago   71 comments top 8
DannyBee 2 days ago 6 replies      
Sadly, this has facebook's new, horrible patent clause.

For those who aren't aware, it says

1. If facebook sues you, and you counterclaim over patents (whether about software or not), you will lose rights under all these patent grants.

So essentially you can't defend yourself.

This is different than the typical apache style patent grant, which instead would say "if you sue me over patents in apache licensed software x, you lose rights to software x" (IE it's limited to software, and limited to the thing you sued over)

2. It terminates if you challenge the validity of any facebook patent in any way.So no shitty software patent busting!

bpodgursky 2 days ago 4 replies      
I appreciate that Facebook open-sources their libraries, but they have an awful habit of dumping source code on Github and then continuing to develop it internally without pushing those changes back out.

For example, Facebook open-sourced Thrift, then proceeded to develop it internally, and recently released out a fork of thrift, not merging anything back into the original tree.

Likewise, they open-sourced Corona a few years ago, their Hadoop fork, and I'm pretty sure that branch has been abandoned too.

So I'm really hesitant to start using any projects out of Facebook unless they develop some processes to actually maintain these projects.

nightski 2 days ago 2 replies      
Too bad it is Torch. Working in the lua environment is not enjoyable at all. Every error becomes a long procedure of looking deep into the source of the framework since there is no type information or stack traces to go off whatsoever. You are constantly guessing about the shape of the data or what parameters are supposed to look like.
vonnik 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a recruiting move. Facebook is building its DL team, and to do that, they need to grow the community using their tools.
technologia 2 days ago 3 replies      
We've been using Torch for a while at work, really appreciate Facebook doing this. Some of us had a hard time adjusting to Lua, but it was well worth it.
UXDork 2 days ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know what Facebook is using the AI for?
frik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow great. I dreamed of an AI platform based on LuaJIT a few years ago. Torch and FB's deep-learning module sound amazing!
contingencies 2 days ago 1 reply      
Paper with proper summary: http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.7580
In surprise FCC filing, Sprint endorses net neutrality
points by larubbio  2 days ago   65 comments top 12
drawkbox 2 days ago 2 replies      
Best marketing Sprint has ever done.

Granted this position probably helps them against the bigger competitors, that is why competition is good.

Already we are seeing network providers start to jockey for competitive positions just at the hint of change. Imagine the competition when this actually happens.

This position stands in stark contrast to what other carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, have espoused. In particular, the carriers have warned that Title II would provide a major disincentive to invest in upgrades to their internet offerings.

They are arguing that our current market setup is encouraging investment in upgrades? Where are they? The current system hasn't spawned investment and new upgrades, but competition will surely do this. Here in Phoenix (Tempe/Scottsdale), the moment Google announced Phoenix would be a possible Fiber market, Cox Gigablast initiative was launched, before that crickets.

xnull1guest 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's a sort of an accepted insanity that the positions which these large businesses take are considered important.

Certainly information from these businesses on how they believe different legislation will effect them is useful to voters, their representatives and their appointees in performing a legislative calculus.

But what certain companies 'advocate' for? This is hardly useful information for the design of legislation (it's a single bit, and a complicated one). As these large businesses should have no direct say in how they are regulated, I don't see why we the people should care what companies 'endorse'. They don't get a vote.

Whether Google or Sprint or AT&T or Comcast sanctions or opposes net neutrality should mean nothing and should not be worthy of news. The companies that happen agree with the general public do not do so on the ground of ideals or liberty or heroism but on the ground of profit. They are not the stewards of public interest or champions of the public - only the public can do and be this. We can't count on Sprint or Google or any other company to get the legislation we want passed - because if we condone that we also condone their passing of legislation we don't.

mwsherman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sprint understands that it hurts their competitors more than themselves. NN is unlikely to be strong on the mobile side, and Sprint has little in the way of consumer wireline business. Verizon and AT&T have more substantial wireline businesses.

Similar to Walmart supporting a higher minimum wage. Hurts the other guys more. And a nice bit of PR.

HCIdivision17 2 days ago 0 replies      
Note the repitition in the letter: 'light touch' and 'allow differentiation'. I think this is likely reasonable, but it certainly gives the carriers enough wiggle room to still play shenanigans. Which is likely fine; Sprint's right that there needs to be room for having differing services. But the good news is they clearly signaled that if they have to, they'll differentiate at the network layer instead of giving up at the services layer. (That's what I read into it - time will tell if it's merely a political gambit :)
r00fus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not mentioned in the article (and perhaps Legere will change his mind) but TMobile is aligned with AT&T and Verizon in opposing Title II reclassification.

Disappointed with that stance, since otherwise, I'm thrilled with TMobile from a customer standpoint.

chimeracoder 2 days ago 1 reply      
> So long as the FCC continues to allow wireless carriers to manage our networks and differentiate our products, Sprint will continue to invest in data networks regardless of whether they are regulated by Title II, Section 706, or some other light touch regulatory regime.

This is really huge, because it endorses applying Title II to wireless networks, not just wired broadband.

Much of the discourse so far has been around wired broadband, and many of the proposals so far (including the FCC regulations that were shot down last year in court) carved out special exemptions for wireless networks.

surge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not that surprised, they own a minority share of the market and infrastructure, in their case its too their advantage that they be able to use other's networks uninhibited (roaming, long distance fiber, etc).
LargeCompanies 2 days ago 1 reply      
Was a Sprint customer for two years then last year I kept seeing all these great deals pop up due to T-Mobile. I kept calling them asking if they had anything competitive. The only thing they had was this terrible framily plan where I had to work to find people/anyone to join this plan with. Even deadbeats. Stupid & when I started to travel I noticed how bad their network is!

I have since switched to an ATT family plan. 15 Gigs split between 4 users, free WiFi hotspot (had to pay $15 additional a month to Sprint for that) and I pay less then $50 a month. ATT coverage is solid everywhere in this state and up and down the east coast.

grandalf 2 days ago 1 reply      
All this means is that Sprint thinks it is on the losing end of some deals made by competitors.
forrestthewoods 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is this a case of wireless vs wired? Most Title II talks are with respect to wired connections due to last mile issues. Wireless doesn't have that particular issue. And right now wireless has plenty of roaring competition so there's certainly less of a need for a regulatory hand.
derek00 2 days ago 0 replies      
I live in SF. Get fast LTE everywhere in the city. A bit slower elsewhere in the Bay Area, but well worth it given the significantly cheaper prices.
bwb 2 days ago 0 replies      
kick ass Sprint!
What Blocks Ruby and Python from Getting to JavaScript V8 Speed?
points by luu  2 days ago   150 comments top 24
nostrademons 2 days ago 8 replies      
The other major issue is backwards compatibility. Ruby and Python have large API surfaces on both the C API and scripting language sides, with many libraries making use of obscure language features. If any single one of those features doesn't work, the library won't. Witness how tough the Python3 migration has been.

I talked with the Unladen Swallow guys sometime after the project was canceled. They said that the main issue was not getting Python to run fast on LLVM, where they said they had some really encouraging results. Instead, it was:

1. Bugs in LLVM which they had to spend a lot of engineering effort working around. This is probably much less of an issue now, with Clang, XCode, Julia, and Rust all being used in production with a good deal of success.

2. Compatibility with the C API. This was considered a "non-negotiable" for Unladen Swallow's design, and one major reason they started by forking CPython rather than building from scratch on LLVM. The problem is, the C API makes a lot of assumptions about how objects are laid out in memory, how they are memory-managed, how they are accessed, etc. If you must support defining & calling methods from C, there's a lot less freedom to, say, stick a trampoline in the method preamble or a PIC at the call site or switch to using a tagged representation of pointers and ints. That means that the VM has to fall back on the interpreter (and possibly waste cycles converting & marshalling data) for a lot of things that are supposed to be fast, which kills many of the real-world performance gains.

V8 had the luxury of defining its own C interface. I've often wondered whether a Python that gives up C extension compatibility could get similar speed gains - I even ran the idea by a former Python core team member who worked on my team at Google, and he said there was no theoretical reason why not. But then, Python without C extension compatibility would be Python without Numpy, Scipy, scikit-learn, PIL/Pillow, JSON, StringIO, and many other critical packages. At that point you might as well start over with a new language.

nkurz 2 days ago 5 replies      

  Put on hold as too broad by rene, davidism, vaultah, Sam, iCodez 2 hours ago  There are either too many possible answers, or good answers   would be too long for this format. Please add details to   narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be   answered in a few paragraphs.  If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the   help center, please edit the question or leave a comment.
Meta: It's interesting that 5 users thought that it would benefit the SO community to put this question on hold, while 100+ thought it was an interesting question. In one way, SO does keep the noise down pretty well, but this doesn't feel to me like noise. Does avoiding questions like these actually make SO a better place? Is there a reworded version of this question that would actually elicit better responses? Or is this just the joy of playing the enforcer?

chaoky 2 days ago 2 replies      
The public domain CMUCL/SBCL line of compilers (as well as most commercial common lisps) are notorious for being the fastest dynamic/interactive systems since the 1990's. Most dynamic languages are still nowhere near the speed of the assembly code produced by most common lisp compilers while still retaining the impressive dynamic & incremental aspect of the language (although every year they are closing in). In the end, it comes down to how much effort was put into these compilers, rather than the language itself. For years DARPA spent loads of money on a highly trained team of compiler experts to work on CMUCL (later SBCL) led by Scott Fahlman. I doubt Ruby and Python will be able to attain JS speed until more effort goes into on these systems, which so far are still defined by a canonical, byte-code interpreted implementation.
Symmetry 2 days ago 3 replies      
If the difference in speed comes down to money, as the first two answers suggest, then why is LuaJIT even faster than V8? I'm pretty sure PyPy has had far more money invested in it than LuaJIT has.
overgard 2 days ago 1 reply      
For context: this question was asked in '11. PyPy is really really fast now. I'm not sure exactly how it stacks up against v8, but it definitely holds its own. It's roughly 7 times faster than cpython.
spullara 2 days ago 0 replies      
IMHO, a few things:

1) Python & Ruby have lots of dependencies on the C FFI PyPy is great, but not replacing CPython because of this.

2) A huge amount of effort is going into v8. Perhaps that level of effort will catch up to the effort put into the JVM.

3) Using esoteric, hard to optimize features in Python and Ruby is apparently a sign of cleverness. And those features are used in the major frameworks like RoR.

4) Incompatibility between other engines. Right now though you have to be backwards compatible with the web, it is acceptable to implement a small subset of the new features. People wouldn't be happy with several versions of Java / Python / Ruby all implementing some of the new features but not all of them.

But really, besides a highly optimized regex engine, v8 is still kind of slow. Just happens to be the fastest of the slow.

bkeroack 2 days ago 1 reply      
When Ruby or Python is too slow you can switch to something else. When JavaScript is too slow you have to either pay someone to make your code faster or pay someone to make the browser faster.
andrewchambers 2 days ago 0 replies      
Keep an eye on this new python implementation:


munificent 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the top answer is pretty spot-on.

Also, JavaScript has a much smaller API surface area. In addition to optimizing core code execution, a decent amount of work goes into optimizing the core libraries and built-in types: RegExps, string operations, collections, hashes, etc.

In JavaScript, that set of stuff is pretty small. In Ruby and Python, it's enormous.

emmelaich 2 days ago 0 replies      
V8 needs to be as fast as possible because the running time is dominated by processing.

Python only needs to be fast enough because the running time of a typical program is largely affected by i/o time.

ponytech 2 days ago 0 replies      
This question is from 2011 (missing in the link title).Does things have changed since then ?
KaiserPro 2 days ago 1 reply      
Its more deep grained that "the VM is slow" The default python interpreter is really quite fast, but biggest performance problem with python is that everything is an object.

Don't believe me? look here: https://jakevdp.github.io/blog/2014/05/09/why-python-is-slow...

perl is not much older, but in a majority of tasks its faster than python, even c-API python. (it even threads!)

Yes it could be engineered around, I assume thats what pypy is doing (although STM is is going to limit performance in a threaded environment)

Javascript was designed to be an embedded language, so it was had to be quick to initialize, and have a simple object model.

Python was designed to be an easy object oriented language.

darkarmani 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is V8 speed? Without actually quantifying anything this is all just bull shitting. For all I know V8 is slower and they are asking why python and ruby aren't as slow as V8.

Secondly, if we assume the question is saying that V8 is faster, is it faster than vectorized numpy functions? Without specifics in mind, this question is just to start a language war.

bshimmin 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the accepted answer: "Given that at least IronRuby, JRuby, MagLev, MacRuby and Rubinius have either monomorphic (IronRuby) or polymorphic inline caching, the answer is obviously no."

What an amazing "obviously"!

amelius 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is a pity that V8 is so entangled with the language Javascript.

In my opinion, V8 would have been much more powerful if it was fully parameterizable in all the types that it supports, etc. In that case Python could simply be translated into V8 intermediate code (or javascript).

nhebb 2 days ago 4 replies      
It sounds like Lars Bak needs to write a book on VM design.
Dirlewanger 2 days ago 3 replies      
In short: money, money, and money.

Ruby has what, a handful (if that?) of people at Heroku who work on Ruby some of the time? Not sure if Matz does full-time or not.

walshemj 1 day ago 0 replies      
For quite a few python use cases on the tech side you just recode your python prototype in fortran (and use the full fat Intel compiler)
gcb0 2 days ago 0 replies      
short answer: features.
TheCondor 2 days ago 1 reply      
Pypy is slower than v8?
hellbanner 2 days ago 2 replies      
When can we run Ruby & Python code in the browser?
agounaris 2 days ago 2 replies      
have you guys actually tried anything else than serving web requests with node...because for any other backend procedure node is not faster....and definitely the code is not cleaner!

Check also atom vs sublime text as desktop applications...

DevFactor 2 days ago 3 replies      
Crazy thing is, Ruby is already so much more powerful than Javascript. Javascript is fast, easy to implement and relatively easy to learn - but it is so limited.

As a programming language, Ruby really pushes the limits of what we are used to.

Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with police
points by dthal  2 days ago   125 comments top 21
clavalle 2 days ago 3 replies      

I really don't understand how this practice persisted for so long next when we have the right to due process.

For people who think it only happened to drug dealers who were difficult to prosecute; it happened to my elderly parents.

My grandfather died suddenly in Georgia and we were the closest family at the time. My parents packed up their car in a hurry and started from Texas down I-10. In Mississippi they ran into a drunk driving checkpoint. They, being elderly conservative Republican business owners driving a luxury sedan that never conceived that the police would not be on their side, consented to a search of their car. The police found an antique revolver (my dad is an avid collector) locked in its case in the trunk. That plus the $800 he had in his wallet as travel money was enough to get them thrown in jail for the weekend and their property seized as suspected drug dealers.

$8000 in local lawyer fees later they got their car back but the antique gun had 'gone missing' along with the cash. Their lawyer said they were lucky to get the car back.

WalterBright 2 days ago 3 replies      
> Police do not need evidence of a crime to use it, because it is a civil action against an object, such as currency or a car, rather than a person.

This is just so wrong. It essentially denies there's any such thing as property rights.

ingler 2 days ago 5 replies      
> "Forfeiture has its basis in British admiralty law"

British admiralty law is the bane of the American legal system:

"Next to revenue (taxes) itself, the late extensions of the jurisdiction of the admiralty are our greatest grievance. The American Courts of Admiralty seem to be forming by degrees into a system that is to overturn our Constitution and to deprive us of our best inheritance, the laws of the land. It would be thought in England a dangerous innovation if the trial, of any matter on land was given to the admiralty."

-- Jackson v. Magnolia, 20 How. 296 315, 342 (U.S. 1852)

adwf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember seeing this on John Oliver and thinking that it was no different than highway robbery.

I've literally seen shakedowns in third world countries that weren't as bad as what the police have been doing in the US. They just take a bribe and move on, you'd still have your car and most of your wallet.

The acts of the police in the US make me wonder why they even joined the police force in the first place?

dthal 2 days ago 2 replies      
I think all of the cynics on here (including me) should pause for a moment and reflect on what is happening in this case: the government is going to do something that will cost it revenue, just because its the right thing to do and the people wanted it.
nekopa 2 days ago 0 replies      
This quote is why I will never go back to the USA unless somethings radically change:

It seems like a continual barrage against police, said John W. Thompson, interim executive director of the National Sheriffs Association. Im not saying theres no wrongdoing, but there is wrongdoing in everything.

This is the head of a police organisation basically saying stop picking on us because other people rob citizens too. By the way I am an American and left in the years after 9/11 because shit like this was starting to become more and more common. It was bad for me there because I had a strange accent - I was raised in London, and I am half black.

Before 9/11 conversations would be like "Where are you from? Oh, Europe! Why I you here? I've always heard wonderful things about the place?" Afterwards it turned to "WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHY ARE YOU HERE!?!

It was sad to see a lot of Americans I met go from a totally open, inquisitive nature to closed paranoia. Really makes me depressed about the future of my country.

will_brown 2 days ago 3 replies      
>Holder said there is also less need for the Equitable Sharing program.

>Today, however, every state has either criminal or civil forfeiture laws, making the federal adoption process less necessary, Holders statement said.

> ...police can continue to make seizures under their own state laws, the federal program was easy to use and required most of the proceeds from the seizures to go to local and state police departments.

In other words, no longer will your rights be violated vis-a-vis the forfeiture of assets - without proof of a crime - under Federal Law. Rather, local police will be violating rights and taking assets under State Law.

Reading between the lines (e.g. following the money), it is clear the State's are behind this change and not the outrage of law makers at the notion police forces are strong-arm robbing ordinary citizens. Whereas under the Federal law money goes direct to the police agency and under state laws the money goes to a State fund where presumably the State law makers can get their greedy little hands on the money.

rayiner 2 days ago 1 reply      
Republicans are going to blow this because they hate Obama and Holder. Police departments and their unions are a huge component of the pension liability blowing a hole in state budgets. With all the blowback recently, now is the perfect time to knock them down a peg or two in a way that's going to get bipartisan support if the message is crafted right.
mhuffman 2 days ago 2 replies      
Obama is killing it as a lame duck President. If he would have nutted up and acted this way throughout his Presidency, Democrats would be golden right not and not fighting for their political lives.
briandh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am happy about this, but note that besides the (fairly narrow) "public safety" exception mentioned in the article the order also exempts joint task forces and joint federal-state investigations [1]. I don't know how those work, but my cynical expectation is for those activities to increase to make up for some of the lost revenue.

[1] http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/AGassetforfetureorder.p...

epochwolf 2 days ago 2 replies      
So... how long is this going to last? The article says Holder's leaving his office. When he leaves, what stops the next person from simply reinstating this policy?
knowtheory 2 days ago 0 replies      
Steve Rich posted all the documents on DocumentCloud and all the data on Github too.

The post about the documents (which you can search) and the data: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2015/01/1...

tempVariable 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember a radio show on Canadian CBC, which talked about the danger of having goods, cash or otherwise being confiscated by less savoury deputies of the law in U.S.

It aired just last year, but I don't remember the exact name of the broadcast.

toyg 2 days ago 0 replies      
I know this is good news, but when I read it, the first thing I thought was "this would have saved quite a bit of trouble for Clay Davis' driver in The Wire". Which is not actually true, to be fair -- it could still happen in the same way, the only thing changing is what happens to the money after it's seized (well, the bits that Herc and Carver won't stuff in their pockets, at least).
discardorama 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of course, Holder does this as he is leaving, to score some brownie points. What was stopping him from doing this earlier? Nothing. The WaPo did a huge expose a few months back about the abuses in this system, but nobody cared. And others have been complaining about it for many years.

So now that he doesn't need the backing of the LEO community, but wants to line up speaking engagements after he retires, he throws the people a bone.

bluedino 2 days ago 8 replies      
To see both sides of this issue, you have to understand the thinking that brought this sort of legislation into use. Let's say you have some bad guy, whether he/she's a low-level crack dealer that sells on the streets or a gang leader who has all kinds of stuff going on.

When you arrest this person, what happens to their assets that they've (assumingly) illegally obtained? The hundred thousand in drug money? The guns, high end electronics, luxury cars, etc?

You weaken the individual criminal and their gangs by taking their money away. It's far to easy to just pass those assets on to another person and they can simply assume the role. And after the person does their 5-10 years in prison should they be released back to what they had obtained through illegal activity?

tomohawk 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is good news, but I hope it doesn't take the wind out of the sails of the effort to actually change the law.

Executive decisions such as this are a poor substitute for settled law.

kevin_thibedeau 2 days ago 1 reply      
Won't change a thing. All it will take is the good old standby of "disorderly conduct" to determine that a crime has been committed as justification for a seizure. Look at a cop the wrong way and your cash is as good as gone.
carrja99 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a big deal!
ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
The whole problem with this is when he is gone, it could be back again, ie. 2016

Justice for all is such an complete illusion in this country and the worst part is the people who breathlessly defend police until suddenly one day they get an eye opener and then it is too late.

NoMoreNicksLeft 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'll have to watch to make sure that this isn't something sneaky, but if he's really putting a stop to it this could be significant.

Some states have already legislated to prohibit this, but the federal program allowed their own police forces to sidestep the prohibitions... effectively making it impossible to fix at the state level.

Don't get me wrong, Obama and Holder are both shitbags, but this makes them slightly less shitbaggish, even in my own eyes. Two or three more things like this, I might even be forced to change my opinion of them.

The Fine Art of Bullshit, Killed by Google
points by JacobAldridge  2 days ago   117 comments top 38
jdietrich 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Where can I find a women's shelter?"

"Is it normal to be attracted to other boys?"

"Can I claim food stamps?"

"Is my employer allowed to deduct breakages from my pay?"

"How much is cassava selling for in Lagos?"

Knowledge changes lives. As technologists, we are at the forefront of a revolution that has the potential to banish ignorance forever, for everyone. We have a basic moral duty to honour that responsibility, to recognise the real risks of what we are doing, and to work for the benefit of humanity.

The fun of bullshitting is something I am happy to accept as a casualty of war. Frankly, I think it's rather bourgeois to gripe about it.

I'm far more concerned about personalised search results inadvertently working to intellectually ghettoise us and reinforce prejudices. I'm concerned about the effect that paywalled academic journals might be having on the spread of pseudoscience. I'm concerned that IT systems are being designed predominantly by middle-class Americans in liberal cities, who are often ignorant of how their design decisions might affect people who are living in more repressive environments.

Bullshit should die unmourned, because we've got more important things to worry about.

mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it difficult to relate to negative comments (for easy access to information) in this thread.

A story that might be interesting: We live in Arizona. Last year two old guys (really old, about my age :-) got out of their pickup truck and walked over to me while I was gassing up our car and asked for directions to some obscure little town. After asking why they were travelling (they were on the way to some distant relative's house for a party) I pulled out my droid phone and used the voice interface to Google Now to ask for driving directions; we also got a warning about a road closure. Neither of these guys had ever owned a computer so they asked the obvious questions of how much would a similar phone cost and where to get one. I would bet that they had a smart phone within days. +1 for easy access to information.

JoshTriplett 2 days ago 2 replies      
The story posted in the article provides a romanticized illustration of how finding knowledge in a world without easy access to it can produce an adventure. (I like that it doesn't directly say which of the 1994 or 2014 versions was better, though there's sure an implication from how they're painted.) On the other hand, access to information can produce an adventure, as well; so can many other things. In the end, the right group of friends can end up on wild adventures for any number of reasons.

That's leaving aside the implications of having easy access to information to answer more important questions.

Questions for which there's a known right answer should get resolved as quickly as possible. That leaves more time for the questions that the Internet and all the other resources we have available can help answer, but which still require work. (Whether those questions are useful or just amusingly absurd is up to you.)

Just look at XKCD's What If (https://what-if.xkcd.com/), which references online information but nonetheless puts it together in novel ways (density of seawater and approximate volume of a bowling ball gives the minimum weight required for a bowling ball to sink). In the future, that post (https://what-if.xkcd.com/125/) will show up on the other end of a very strange set of search terms, but there will always be many more questions where that came from, and there are myriad examples online of detailed reasoning from fictional premises. For instance, see http://www.intuitor.com/moviephysics/ , http://physicswithportals.com/ , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ig_Nobel_Prize , or https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-uG3_RgX9JA0/TboU21S9gNI/AAAAAAAAD... .

chris_wot 2 days ago 5 replies      
I once tried to find out on Wikipedia whether goldfish really have ten second attention spans. I learned that in Nix vs. Heddon the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit.
polarix 2 days ago 5 replies      
I'm struggling to identify what it is about this nostalgia that infuriates me so deeply. Perhaps it's just fascinating to me that so many people find it fun to be in stupid situations. I find it barbaric and twisted.

More productively, I wonder how people would respond to this after having grown up with the boundary of their 30s knowledge horizon roughly equivalent to that of humanity's experts 10yr prior. Anyone born since ~2000 perhaps is in this situation. Will they have eliminated this kind of "fun" "bullshit" from their behavior completely?

coldtea 2 days ago 1 reply      
Actually Google (and Wikipedia et al) enabled an even more evolved form of bullshit.

The kind were people with shallow (or none) knowledge of a topic check some reference source they half understand and try to pass of as experts in the subject matter...

At least with reference books you had to own them in the first place and get into the trouble to locate a reference in their index etc.

Now any bozo can check an obscure lemma in a matter of seconds and pretend he knows what he's talking about in an online discussion (and often offline), going back to check more details in the process any time his bluff is close to be discovered.

crazygringo 2 days ago 11 replies      
I have a rule I always follow, and have convinced many friends of too -- no Googling/Wikipedia-ing in social settings. If nobody knows something (trivia-like), it's almost always a lot more fun to continue not knowing.

Sure, look it up when you get home. But a little group self-discipline goes far in keeping the fine art of bullshitting alive.

(And it's not just the answer that kills the conversation, but also the fact that someone is right and someone is wrong, game over. Much better to keep the game going!)

xianshou 2 days ago 1 reply      
The world, pre-Google, abounded in serendipitous quests to find one piece of information offline.

The world, post-Google, abounds in serendipitous quests to find many pieces of information online, such as starting at a given book on Amazon and moving down the chain of Amazon's "Customers Also Bought", or embarking on a semi-infinite dive through Wikipedia.

Any of these can turn into a game given the right mindset. Who can connect Klein bottles to the Gettysburg address in the fewest links?

Of course, that's not to disparage the fun of lacking access to proper information. Just look at these bodybuilders arguing over the number of days in a week: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/233107/two-body-builders-arg...

ummonkwatz 2 days ago 3 replies      
The bullshit didn't even have to be believable: "Marilyn Manson was the kid that played Paul from the Wonder Years. Also, he had a rib removed so he could perform autofellatio." Kids everywhere believed that. Hilarious.
k__ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm happy that it's over.

My step-dad always posed with his fact-knowledge as if it was the holy grail of wisdom. It even led to this bullshitting in the link. If he didn't know something, he made it up. Or he would tell us about some (anecdotical!) evidence for this and that.

Today, I just flip out my smartphone and look it up and after that, everyone learned something.

Sometimes the facts are so ridiculous or shocking that knowing the truth can be funny or exciting too :)

moultano 1 day ago 0 replies      
I mostly see upsides. Instead of uncertainty about random trivia, the conversation can be based on certainty about amazing trivia.

Did you know that early South-Americans used the shells of giant turtle-like mammals as houses? Isn't that crazy? Here, check out a picture of one. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cb/Glyptodon...

Or as xkcd put it, you are one of the lucky 10,000! http://xkcd.com/1053/

noonespecial 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its actually become a fun game around here. Someone makes an outrageous claim and it starts a race to be the first to call them on it. Phones get drawn like six-guns and its on! We call this little victory of fact finding the "fonesnope". (Or "getting fonesnoped" if you happen to be the claimant). Its a fun party game. Try it.
increment_i 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a kid I remember family discussions surrounding the legitimacy of certain pieces of trivia, often reaching the point where people began trying to shout over each other. Eventually, my uncle would pick up the phone, dial a random number and say, "Hi there, you wouldn't happen to know who directed Casablanca would you?"
KaiserPro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sadly google hasn't killed "the bullshit". The rise of personal/social media means that we can live in our own bubble of whatever view we choose.

This was exposed quite starkly with this story: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/...

If you exclude the pro/cons comments (and the abuse) you're left with loads of "charities have the cure, they are holding them back"

they defy sense, yet are reassured by the people about them.

nl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Drop bears are a carnivorous, highly aggressive cousin of the Koala.

1) Koalas are from Australia, and in Australia every animal tries to kill you.

2) The AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM[1] has an entire page on them[2].

3) Australian Geographic (the Australian cousin of National Geographic) has a long post about how they tend to target non-native homo-sapiens[3]

4) This study[4] shows how they are best tracked by indirect means. PDF available at [5]

[1] http://australianmuseum.net.au/

[2] http://australianmuseum.net.au/Drop-Bear

[3] http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/2013/03/drop-bea...

[4] http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00049182.2012.731...

[5] http://eprints.utas.edu.au/16293/1/2013_Janssen_APAS2013_pro...

hayksaakian 2 days ago 0 replies      
All that's changed is the bar for creativity.

There are claims which have no proof or disproof on the web.

You have to be more creative in 2015.

pervycreeper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good riddance?

I believe I'm missing some profound point that the TFA is apparently making.

uniclaude 2 days ago 1 reply      
For those looking for never ending talks and debates about what is true or not, we still have philosophy, religion, and of course politics. Moreover, there's a lot of room the "The Fine Art of Bullshit" there.
robobro 2 days ago 0 replies      
Funnily enough, the Guinness Book of World Records started for a similar reason, settling barroom trivia bets
mrweasel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bullshit hasn't gone anywhere, sadly. Politicians, the media, companies and people in general spew out more bullshit than ever before, despite the fact that we have easier access to facts than ever before.

No one care to check: "it's in the news, so it must be true". Or the alternative, we assume it's all bullshit, even when it's not.

It often seems that we don't care if somethings is bullshit. If it appeals to us we don't want to run the risk of being proven wrong. If we don't like the bullshit that's coming our way there's no point in proving it wrong, because "everyone knows that it's bullshit".

IvyMike 2 days ago 1 reply      
Comedian Pete Holmes' take on this from a few years ago:


everyone 2 days ago 1 reply      
You can still bullshit. You just cant do it by inventing random easily unverified factoids. You need to be a bit more inventive and creative these days.
stana 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not only bullshit. I remember in one of the Beatles interviews how early on they found out that some guy in town knew the B7 guitar chord. They would get on a bus to meet this guy to learn the chord. This journey would not exist today :(
meesterdude 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found myself thinking "the fine art of bullshit, as told by a bullshitter" while reading this article. I was annoyed because there is no subheading or useful intro that tells me what this is about so i can decide if I want to read it or not. Just a vague title and a vague picture. The writer might think this is clever -- I think its misplaced.
yzzxy 2 days ago 0 replies      
_why wrote about this phenomenon in CLOSURE:


The segment in question runs from about page 29 through 34.

    I unfolded my napkin and got the silverware out. "I don't remember."    She got out her phone.    "No, don't go there."    "I. M. D. B." Her fingers.    "Oh, Cristian Douglas," I said. "It was Cristian Douglas."    Still typing, head leaned back, under the spell of her phone.

teddyh 1 day ago 0 replies      
What did we do before Google?

We wondered about stupid stuff all day until we forgot about it.


(From http://www.absurdnotions.org/page112.html)

Alex_Jiang 2 days ago 1 reply      
If anything google made all types of bullshit more accessible. Just search for articles about: Non-stick pans, chem-trails, hollow-earth theory, etc. etc.
anigbrowl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read any newspaper article on global warming - the comments section is guaranteed to contain humongous amounts of bullshit. Actually, the comments section on just about any news article is guaranteed to contain humongous amounts of bullshit.

OK, it's not really the fun entertaining sort of bullshit, but you've got to take what you can get.

drawkbox 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was a comedian that talked about this a couple years ago.

The old 'Swear to God' that would prove any piece of fine BS to your friends, is no longer valid. Swear to Google is the new 'believe me'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoVxOLew_cU towards the end).

gsam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now known as the finer art of bullshit.
bussiere 2 days ago 0 replies      
Except if you find a conspiracy website that say that they are, and your friend will tell you that's a conspiracy and THEY are sibling. That's juste what they want you to believe.

Here in france we have a lot of people that believe theses websites

rey12rey 2 days ago 0 replies      
This art is well and truly alive in football(soccer) pubs today, at least in the 10+ ones I frequent on occasion. No one there respects stats or facts or whatever. Everyone is always right.
LargeCompanies 2 days ago 0 replies      
Holy moly, the Internet thrives on bullshit.

You best not believe much you see on the Internet! So much crap is made up and goes viral for surprise the almighty dollar.

swang 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Oh great, now we don't have a reason to go out"... SAID NO ONE EVER.
Jugurtha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool narrative :
lotsofmangos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Given the plethora of competing bullshit-castles being constructed online, a google search could easily end with them believing that Steven Tyler and Mary Tyler Moore are not only brother and sister, but are also secret agents of the Illuminated Seers of Bavaria.
user02 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is stupid, you're all stupid.
ciupicri 2 days ago 2 replies      
If he wants to engage people he should switch to trolling.
Salary negotiations for techies (2011)
points by pmoriarty  21 hours ago   174 comments top 34
vproman 4 hours ago 6 replies      

Recruiters always ask this up front and INSIST that they must know. I have NEVER been denied the opportunity to interview for refusing to give a number upfront.

If you're applying at a company, it means you've done at least a little research on what they should be expected to pay and you see somewhere around that range as acceptable. You don't have to tell them that you've researched their rates and find them acceptable, because that too would be like giving them a range, instead the research is simply to avoid wasting your time. You wouldn't want to interview for a job that pays the position with compensation worth at most $60k when you're already making at least $100k.

This way, you have an advantage: you know roughly how much they pay but they have almost no idea how much (i.e. how little) you will accept as compensation. Best case scenario, they offer you MORE than what your research said they would, and you negotiate a little more on top of it and accept, assuming you actually like the job. Even if they say no to your counter offer, you're still ahead. Worst case scenario, they offer you less, they say no to your counter offers, and you have to decline. Either your research was wrong or they were lowballing you, either way you've got multiple other interviews in process (right?) so move on. If you find your research is repeatedly off the mark, find better sources.

No matter what, don't give them a number. Make them give you a number first and negotiate from there.

No1 18 hours ago 8 replies      
The main tenet of this blog post is that you should argue for your compensation based on the amount of value you add to the company.

That's nice in theory, but the techies' dilemma is that it's often difficult or impossible to put a hard number on the value they have added.

How many customers were retained because you decreased response times by 100ms? How many customers were gained because of that slick UI you created? How many discounts were not handed out because of downtime that wasn't suffered because of your cautious error handling and exemplary testing? How much money was saved because of that documentation you made that helped the new hire ramp up faster?

Even when you can put a hard number on work you've done, like decreasing hosting costs by $15k per month, isn't that why you're paid so handsomely already? How are you going to do that again next year? (Why haven't you done it already?) Wasn't it a group effort?

The reality is, you're basically going to get paid based upon what your employer has deemed everyone else in your position is earning, plus or minus some % based upon experience level, your reputation, and how badly the company needs the position filled. If you don't like that, time to go into management or sales.

NinjaTime 17 hours ago 8 replies      
Another B.S. article about negotiating IT salary's.If IT salary's kept pace back before the Dot bomb days everyone would be making 150k starting.

Here is why we don't

IT has for the most part never been a money maker of a lot of companies. They see it as a loss leader.IT is seen as the "Oh boy here comes the IT budget again."Unless of course your business is making software for the masses. But then I have been at 3 companies like that and IT was always the first on the chopping block.You are paid only as much as it takes to replace you, unless you walk on water then you should be at Google or FaceBook.

The only way to get a 20 to 25k raise is to find another job. Unless of course you are doing the job of 4 people which in IT 99.9% of the times you are.Don't believe me? Go ask for a 20k raise if their eyebrows shoot up like Mr. Spock then you know how much you are worth. I sure hope you have another job lined up because that's the queue to them you are looking.

This has been my experience and I have done exactly what I have stated above.

I now do security and compliance. No more wake up calls, no more you can't go on vacation because Oct. through January is the time of the year where we make our money.

Oh and that 100K salary mark gets very hard to justify every year especially when the CFO looks at the books and has a list of who is making over 100K per year. Unless of course you live in California and NewYork then that's welfare wages.

nadam 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
"the first is that they usually actually like their jobs. As long as they get to work with the cool tech and the neat toys, theyll sleep under their desks if they have to."

I have never seen anyone like that who for example have a family... Only very young and very naive people do this; maybe there are lots of them, but I don't think they are the majority.

"our average programmer approaches salary negotiations like this:(1) I need x to survive.(2) It would be nice to save a bit.(3) I need to pay my taxes."

That seems to be a strawman. I mean some very young and very naive programmers would do that, but all my programmer friends do this:

(1) I am a fairly good C++ developer.(2) I ask all my fairly good C++ programmer friends how much they are paid in the country where I live. I also ask them which are the companies which pay wel, so that I will apply to those.(3) I try to ask for the upper part of that range, at the companies I have heard pay well. I try multiple companies.

And basically that's what you can do. Bigger companies are mostly looking for replacable people. They mostly need 'good C++ programmers'/'good enterprise java developers'/'good web developers' etc... and will train you in their special systems. They will not care about your reasoning about how much business value you bring to their company: First that is so hard to measure that you cannot measure that, second they just do dozens of interviews with other people, and will simply hire other people if you want bigger pay than the realistic market range.

When you are a big gun or a specialist with some very unique skills, or when you are talking to a smaller company who have no established policy on developer salaries than there is more to it. But for most people at most companies: You just have to know the typical salary 'your kind' can get, and you have to ask for that, and that is all to it.

Programmers are mostly a commodity, but a quite well paid commodity at most companies. Which means that you can get a quite good salary without having extremely good negotiation skills (just using the heuristic I described), but you cannot get much more whatever negotiation skills you have.

frodopwns 20 hours ago 3 replies      
Here is another similar guide. Easier said than done of course. http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/
clairity 20 hours ago 1 reply      
this post can be summarized by two concepts that are typically taught in business schools:

1) do value based pricing not cost-plus for your labor (ask for what the market will bear, not your cost of living plus some small 'profit' on top of that)

2) have a batna (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_alternative_to_a_negoti...), i.e., another offer so you have leverage in the negotiation

i've ignored these tenets exactly once, and that remains an unpleasant memory for me. every other time, it's resulted in increases of 10-40% in comp & benefits. of course, you should balance comp with qualitative advantages, but the point is not to just let yourself get screwed. =)

dustingetz 16 hours ago 3 replies      
here's an idea:

The market for developers is a lemon's market.

That means, if you have 100 good cars selling at $2000, and 100 lemon cars selling at $1000, all the lemons will sell first, because the people making purchasing decisions aren't expert enough to tell the difference.

So it is very rare to be paid based on value, because why would a [CEO|CTO|hiring manager|whatever] pay $1M for this guy, when he can pay $150k for that guy, and he can't really tell the difference between them?

Just an idea, I haven't seen this discussed anywhere, what do you guys think?

zupa-hu 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In (my) theory your salary is between the company's best alternative (hiring someone else for X) and your best alternative (go work for other company for Y).

Companies do well as they interview many candidates. Developers generally do worse as they go to less interviews - obviously due to resource constrains.

If you are shit hot good, both X and Y go up. The black magic of negotiating is a rounding error compared to how great & unique you are.

galfarragem 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> Technology people are without a doubt the most inept group when it comes to negotiating for compensation.

I would rephrase it as:

People that love what they do are without a doubt the most inept group when it comes to negotiating for compensation.

I think it doesn't matter if you are from IT, an architect or any other job. If you really like what you do, you don't mind to do it for minimal money and business people will exploit that weakness. For example, in architectural field, relevant architects are sometimes invited to be guest teachers in colleges. Once one said during his class:

If they discover that I like to come here, they will stop paying me.

mikerichards 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, there's all sorts of factors involved, but I've found that the more you know about the company, the better you are at negotiating. That sounds like a no-brainer, but that's probably just as important as market value.

For example, I was contracting a company that had most of their software development teams working as contractors. About 6 months into contracting there, I learned that they had made a strategic decision to try and hire everybody instead of contracting and the reason they did that was to save on money and more importantly, retention.

So they would ask me to convert, and I would pretty much blow them off for a couple months, and they would ask me again a couple months later. So after a few times of this routine, I knew I was in a better position to start the negotiations. Also, I had waited for several other contractors to convert and got some tidbits from them.

At the end of the day, I negotiated for much more than average salary in my market.

If you're contracting, it pays to be contracting with a staffing firm that knows the decision makers in the company.

gaius 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Free food is such a no-brainer, if you're a manager. For 5 of pizza you can get 50-100 of work, easy, and the workers think they're getting the better deal...
heisenzombie 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Nice advice, but I feel like articles like this make marginal improvements to my comfort and skill at negotiation.

I think perhaps it boils down to unfamiliarity: I've done it a very small number of times, and it feels alien and weird. Especially some of the language used. Compare that with a manager who has hired $x employees a month for a decade, and doesn't think anything of it.

I wonder: Are there any videos available of negotiations (real or realistically faked) where one could build familiarity with what a successful negotiation looks and sounds like? I think that might be a useful addition to textual "how to" guides like this.

Bahamut 21 hours ago 1 reply      
There is one danger to taking stock that should be made more explicit - you weaken your future negotiation power with the company, since payment by stock already ties your hands some, especially if you haven't gotten past the 1 year cliff.
watty 19 hours ago 8 replies      
I'm about to ask for a raise for the first time but I'm not entirely sure how to handle it. I've been with this company for 7 years and only received 2-3% increases the past 3 years. I interviewed at a competitor and they offered me a 20% increase, which I turned down.

During negotiations should I simply ask for them to match? I don't want them to think I'm actively looking for a new job but want to get paid my worth.

ryanmonroe 18 hours ago 1 reply      
siliconc0w 14 hours ago 0 replies      
my short version:

Every two to three years start looking for another job - chances are you are being underpaid and holding out for a meaningful raise or promotion is usually a bad idea. Few companies seem to keep salaries properly indexed to the market. At least in IT.

When you get an offer - always always counter it. No reasonable business is going to withdraw an offer if you counter. Figure out what you're worth and add 5-10%. If the first offer is already on the 'high end' of the spectrum still counter and ask for a signing bonus, options, better year end bonus, or more vacation. That will most likely be the most profitable email/phone-call you'll have - at least until you repeat the process in 2-3 years.

Mandatum 17 hours ago 0 replies      
As an intermediate developer I've managed to quadruple my wage after going from full-time (40 hours) to contracting rates (30+ hours, 6-month term). I brought up the fact that my side projects are starting to gain traction, but I know the work I'm doing for the company is important and I'd like to finish what I started.

I also brought up that I've had a few job offers with highly reputable firms, and my current career growth had stagnated where I was currently positioned.

Basically; me me me.

atom-morgan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This post is a condensed version of an already short book I recently read - Breaking the Time Barrier [1]. I recommend reading both.

Like the author of this post says, calculating the value you're adding with your work is the only true way to accurately price yourself. It may not be as easy to do as someone who works in sales but it's worth your time to do so.

Shortly after reading BtTB, I had a new contract opportunity come my way. I doubled my hourly rate.

[1] https://www.freshbooks.com/breaking-the-time-barrier

pmoriarty 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Does just receiving an annual performance bonus make your negotiating position stronger or weaker?

How long would you wait after the bonus to ask for a raise?

What if you don't want to stay at your company much longer? Should you still ask for a raise, and would you feel unethical for leaving soon after getting a raise?

z3t4 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Make sure you start high then request a 5% raise Every year! If you wait five years and request 25% it's Never gonna happen!If possible, try to get 2.5% every six month.
wallflower 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As long as you do not own what is being produced you will always be in a 'time for money' situation. You are trading your time for money (sometimes 5% more a year - or 15% more a year, if you strategically play chess with the job market and your skills niche).

I believe we are all much better off if we focus on building our own niche community/product (a.k.a. http://javascriptweekly.com - the number of subscribers is not as important as the quality of the subscribers).

jerguismi 8 hours ago 0 replies      
You have to take into account, that it is very difficult for the employer as well to evaluate the value of the techies to the company.
azakai 17 hours ago 1 reply      
> Typically, in a mature company the salaries of the dev team are a rounding error on the total operation.

I don't think that's true at all. From small startups to large successful no-longer-startups, often dev salaries dominate spending, from what I usually hear.

Perhaps my experience is limited? Or perhaps the author means something specific by "mature company"?

montz1 16 hours ago 2 replies      
If you want to know what companies offer as base salaries check this website I made that uses H1B wage data. The tech companies have a very wide range for negotiation at each level and it's important to know that when you go into salary negotiations. Although this is H1B data, for top companies these are the same base salaries that US residents are also making, and they are pretty damn high....Look at google for example: http://salarytalk.org/search#%7B%22qcompanyName%22%3A%22goog...
zyxley 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm very happy to be with a company that has a standard policy of yearly 10-15% pay increases. We tend to do unexciting and sometimes just plain weird contract work for other companies, so my company has to pay us what we're worth to keep us around.
curiously 18 hours ago 2 replies      
A tech employer in Vancouver once told me that if an engineer tries to negotiate for a higher salary that is a signal that they care only about money and that they wouldn't be good hire, regardless of their experience and skillset. This is one of the "big" tech companies in Vancouver, BC. Never mind the hundreds of small sweatshops here.
beachstartup 18 hours ago 2 replies      
as a business owner/operator involved in everything from sales to hiring to vendor purchasing, here's the most important thing:

if you can't walk away from a negotiation, it's not really a negotiation. if you feel, at any point, compelled to stay even though your interests are not being met in a reasonable matter, you're going to get screwed - and it's your fault, not the other person's.

in a true negotiation both parties are attempting to find an optimum solution that solves for 2 sets of 'peer to peer' requirements. it's supposed to be a cooperative endeavor. if at any point it turns contentious, you back out immediately. the opportunity was never there. it was just an illusion. this is the hard thing for people to grasp.

unfortunately, for most people these are things you learn by doing. "not all that glitters is gold".

mikekchar 9 hours ago 2 replies      
In something like 25 years in this industry I have seen this opinion time and time again. "I am not being paid what I'm worth". You can negotiate to higher levels of compensation, but there is more to life (and your job) than money. I have often seen people price themselves out of a job.

A normal high tech company runs an R&D budget that is less than 10% of earnings. The rest of the money goes to cost of sales, infrastructure (building, chairs, etc) and various other things. This means that on average your contribution needs to pull in at least 10x your cost in order for you to be seen as being worth it. There are also a lot of costs for hiring employees -- employee tax, insurance, benefits, etc, etc. So if you make $100K in salary, then your contribution has to bring in maybe $1.2 - $1.5 million.

You may think "Oh those bastard sales people are making way too much and aren't providing any benefit", but you will find that the company will still budget less than 10% of earnings for R&D. Whether it is justified or not, quite a few of the people in the "management side" identify a lot better with sales and understand their value a lot more. Unless you think of a way to significantly increase earnings, then you are depleting the pool of cash for R&D when you ask for a raise.

"Not my problem," you think.

Except Jane down the corridor appears to be very nearly as productive as you are (whether it is true or not is completely beside the point because everything will be judged by its appearances). She makes something like 60% of what you make. She's a freaking bargain! You, on the other hand, bitch and moan that you can't make ends meet on $100K and that you are living out of garbage bins. Plus you see yourself as the saviour of the company and without you everything will just collapse. Managers think, "God, please don't make me talk to that guy again".

The order comes down from above -- either 1) Our competitors are kicking our ass and we need to downsize R&D OR 2) We need to ramp up explosively to hit the next big business wave, so we need more programmers!

How will we reduce our expenditures or hire more programmers with the same amount of money? Easy! We'll do away with those bitchy-moany prima donnas and hire more of the absolute bargains that never complain.

Here's a secret I've learned. Being seen as worth significantly more than you are paid means your boss always approaches you with a sense of gratitude. In fact, creating a sense of solidarity with management in this respect shows loyalty. While it is true that, in general, companies do not return such loyalty, individuals in management will tend to select a handful of people that they trust and "can not do without". Those people will not be the guys that constantly threaten to leave for greener pastures, or that constant complain that they aren't appreciated.

I have never negotiated salary. I have either taken what has been offered and then worked hard to become an integral member of the team or I have refused the job. I have left jobs that I didn't like, but I have never left to make more money. Nor have I ever threatened to do so. I probably get paid less than I might if I pushed hard, but I can tell you that I enjoy the privileges of being "that dependable guy" much more than any salary could provide.

100timesthis 17 hours ago 0 replies      
another angle: How much would the company loose if they had to recruit another person exactly like you? The headhunters get 20% of your salary the first year, than it's cost time and working hours to find new employee, bring them up to speed, the insecurity that the new guy is not the right person, etc..
ddingus 16 hours ago 1 reply      
First, know things and people are worth what others will pay for them

As a floor, you need to fund a modest life, and that means retirement, healthcare, personal improvemwnt, food, home, etc...

Add some small margin onto that for quality of life.

Second, get business minded. It helps to take an interest in the company, know it's financials, and it's goals. This helps you position your value in direct, meaningful terms.

I very strongly agree with being ready to walk when it comes time for salary discussions. If you can't walk, you will get the lowest comp, unless you have some relationship or other leverage to play on.

The bigger the increase, the more this matters.

The idea that you are as valuable as a replacement and training is false. This ignores you as a person, relationships you have, etc... this is often the framing, but do not be afraid to expand the discussion.

Set goals and justify them. This is something sales people do all the time. They are motivated by those goals and communicate them easily and consistently.

Ie: I need 200k this year to fund my travel and home investment plans.

A tech person may have identical goals, or maybe is wanting to build something, or send a kid to school.

Value these and frame your motivation to work in terms of your goals, company, love of the work, etc... Managers, and higher level people in the company understand and respect goal oriented people. Make sure your goals and the company align, or make basic sense and there are no conflicts.

This all speaks to the work being worth it and it also speaks to reasonable expectations as opposed to just greed. Greed isn't bad. Clear, meaningful goals are easier to sell and for others to identify with. When others identify with your life purposes, they can value them and very easily see how you are inclined to stay and work for them. They also nicely dodge the "how much is enough?" Type questions.

Get your other offers and or secure relationships needed to know you can land on your feet should you need to make a change.

Be flexible. The company isn't seeing it's goals play out all at once, and you won't either, but there should be a path to get there that is realistic.

All of this boils down to a "this is where I need to be and why it matters" conversation.

Shared and aligned goals is a great basis for a loyalty type arrangement. People will work hard for others who take care of them and seeing that play out is worth a lot.

Another advantage of goals is there sometimes is more than one way to get there besides cash. Nice to have options on the table.

If it goes well, great. If not, you have your fall back.

You may be able to contract too. Where a company really cannot pay you what you need to realize your goals, perhaps a more flexible arrangement can leave you empowered to do it your self.

This does not need to be a conflict of interest, particularly where you may have more skills not being used, or relationships where you can add value in atomic, easy to execute ways.

Another consideration is involvement with sales and marketing. If you can take some risk, you may find opportunities to capture nice rewards by being part of that process. This takes some people skills, but getting them is worth it.

Ask sales how valuable a tech person who can handle and understand the sales process is. They could be your most potent value advocates.

You help them close a big one, and it directly benefits them. You leaving will present an opportunity cost they will have zero problem justifying.

Of course there are spiffs and such potentially mixed up in this and it all depends on who you are. Taking some risk will differentiate you from other techs and that can be worth a lot.

The first time you walk it is hard. The first time you cultivate advocates is hard. The first time you take risk is hard, and the first time you get a nice increase is hard.

All worth it. Actually it all is as worth it as you think it is. And people count on those things being hard enough and not worth it enough to keep you inexpensive.

What is worth what? That is your primary question to answer. Sort your life goals out, value them, decide on risk and alternatives, and then proceed to have the dialog needed to get you there.

Once you start down this path, you do not stop. It becomes part of you and others will see that mindset and treat you accordingly.

geuis 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Very timely repost. Just had coffee with an old female colleague an hour ago about negotiating salary at a company she's joining. I remember reading this a few years ago and it's been helpful advice.
hnriot 13 hours ago 6 replies      
interesting to read all these from the engineer's perspective. from the manager's side of the table things are quite different. If an employee comes to me and asks for a raise then I begin the process to replace them. We give reasonable raises, we pay fair market value and an engineer might make a little more elsewhere but they'll be giving back their RSUs and the opportunity to work on really cool stuff. If, however, they want something else then good luck to them, people are all different and it's a free country, but asking for raises means they aren't happy so they will leave anyway, either way, I begin looking.

when someone joins, unless they are at vp level they really don't have much negotiating opportunity, we make a decent offer and they either take it or leave it. we very seldom adjust the offer.

eoghan 20 hours ago 2 replies      
"If they cant pay you what youre worth, consider being paid in part in stock, but only if you truly believe in the product, the management, and the company as a whole."

Successful "techies" never work at companies they don't believe in.

It's quite telling that the author includes this "only if" clause.

How Amazon Tricks You into Thinking It Always Has the Lowest Prices
points by xmpir  1 day ago   94 comments top 24
ecaron 23 hours ago 5 replies      
When I started working on https://trackif.com, I thought the premise was thin because prices couldn't fluctuate that much. I assumed everything gradually declined in price, and that it'd primarily be driven by store-A vs store-B price dropping.

Nope. Retailers are just gaming us 24/7. I've become very aware of all the different timeframes retailers offer post-purchase price-matches (published at http://blog.trackif.com/trackif-smart-shopping-guide-store-p... since I felt like I was hoarding knowledge.)

Have retailers always played games like this? Or it just a side-effect of sales moving online?

TheLoneWolfling 23 hours ago 3 replies      

(Amazon price tracking.) Very useful if/when you want to buy something and want to check historical prices. (You can also set email alerts when something drops to below a certain price.)

Edit: linkified. (Thanks, canvia!)

dominotw 22 hours ago 4 replies      
I buy from amazon for their predictable shipping and insanely awesome customer service.
GabrielF00 22 hours ago 2 replies      
They mention HDMI cables specifically. I just went into a Best Buy and asked for their cheapest HDMI cable. The salesman showed me one for $15. The Amazon basics cable is $5.49. If you've got Prime and you factor in the shipping costs of using another website, it's hard to beat Amazon's price.
DougWebb 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure Amazon is constantly adjusting their prices in order to maximize their sales and revenue; they even have some price automation tools as part of their inventory management system for people who sell their stuff through Amazon.

However I'm not sure these adjustments are meant to make people perceive that Amazon has the lowest prices. Instead it seems like they're meant to ensure that Amazon actually has the lowest prices on the most popular and high volume items. On those items they are pricing for high volume, while on the lower volume items they need a higher price to get an equivalent margin. That's what this looks like to me: maximizing margins across products with different sales volumes.

peteretep 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I am willing to pay a significant premium to Amazin for the no-bullshit customer support. If my transaction doesn't delight me, I know they will make good on it.
Tarang 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not only amazon that does this with loss leader pricing, it its also my local grocery store with milk and bread.

For me what gives me the impression amazon has the lowest prices are their nearly nonexistent profits. Whatever's up may not the the cheapest but it's always difficult to find something cheaper elsewhere, even if it does exist.

steven2012 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Surprisingly most home improvement things are cheaper at Home Depot rather than Amazon. I learned this one the hard way. Also Amazon routinely displays "original" prices that are much higher than other places and with the "discount" falls in the same price range.
WizzleKake 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Amazon jacks the price around on a lot of the household items that I buy. There one item that I last purchased for $11.94. I have seen it as high as $29 and some change. Right now it is $23.94.

I've wised up to this tactic and will buy extra when the price is low enough to make it a better deal than buying at the grocery store.

gdulli 20 hours ago 0 replies      
When I decided I didn't feel great about supporting Amazon any longer due to its reported treatment of its business partners, corporate employees, and warehouse employees, I started shopping around and was surprised to find it wasn't so hard to find deals just as good or better elsewhere.

Sometimes prices are just lower elsewhere, sometimes free shipping comes without a requirement to make a $35 order. (Or pay a high annual fee for free shipping that wouldn't amortize well for me.)

And sometimes Amazon still is the cheapest, but not by so much that it feels imperative to shop there if I have reasons not to.

WalterBright 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is all old, old news. Back in the 1970's, a friend of mine was shopping for a nice SLR camera. He knew which camera he wanted, and diligently researched ad after ad, finally settling on one with the cheapest price. We all piled into his car to go get it.

Sure enough, he bought the camera body dirt cheap. But he walked out of the store with a lense, filter, case, flash, film, and a few other accessories. When back home, he ruefully discovered that the total price he shelled out was higher! He didn't realize that the accessories were priced higher than the competition. People simply are not price sensitive to add-ons, and salesmen have known that for centuries.

Gillette is famous for pretty much giving away the razor and making money on the blades.

There's even a word for it: "loss leader".

All Amazon has done is automate it. Pretty much all retailers do it.

zeeshanm 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I read on NPR a while ago some guys found an arbitrage opportunity in book prices. So - he would track the most sought after books, buy them when price were low, usually around July/August, and then sell them back on Amazon when prices were high, around the time of September and January. Makes sense.
JoachimSchipper 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Pricing the most-seen items lower is not quite as nefarious as "trick" would suggest, IMHO - and part of it is probably just driven by various advantages of selling a lot of some particular product.
WalterBright 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Another common sales technique is to have 3 models in a line - the stripper, the standard, and the deluxe. The stripper was barely functional, and its sole purpose was to have a cheap price to attract customers to the showroom. The deluxe had every silly feature the manufacturer could think of, like pinstriping on a dishwasher. It had a very high price. It's sole purpose was to 'frame' the price of the standard model and make it look like a bargain.

The standard model was the one the manufacturer expected to sell. Of course, the rare price-insensitive customer would buy the deluxe, and the salesman was happy to sell that and collect the large commission.

kmfrk 22 hours ago 0 replies      
As has been said, this should be no surprise at all - especially if you've followed phenomenons like the Harry Potter books that got the same treatment.

Amazon underbid competitors on the short tail and make it up on the long tail.

Amazon also stand the benefit that nothing is technically "upsale", since it's all horizontally in the same basket, so they can't get accused of selling you extra stuff the way other vendors might.

eurusd 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I also like the simple but effective Keepa http://keepa.com to compare amazon prices in different countries at the same time.In Europe for example, Hometheater amps are 50% cheaper in Germany than france, while france is cheaper on something else and UK is cheaper on tools and sometimes projectors (depending of FX rates)
known 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Amazon is emulating http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26P_500
xenadu02 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This has been WalMart's strategy for decades so it shouldn't surprise anyone.
tmalsburg2 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> The startup wants to help Amazon competitors think about pricing in as sophisticated a way as Amazon does.

The catch is that if several big retailers apply the Amazon strategy, a self-reinforcing feedback loop will drive the prices for popular products to zero and the prices for less popular products to +inf. This will make popular products even more popular, which further strengthens the effect. The question that this startup has to answer is thus how they are going to keep the market from exploding and how they can benefit several clients at the same time.

kenjackson 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Lego pricing on Amazon is generally bad. Often much worse than what Lego sells the sets for. That is one area I'd love to see Amazon change.
DiabloD3 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I dont get why they use HDMI cables as their first example: we keep buying HDMI cables because they get busted, not because we need more.

AmazonBasics is currently the best cheap cable (replacing Monoprice's now that they aren't nearly as good as they used to be).

Also, why does the article call them HD cables. Whats an HD cable? None of my ports say HD, they say HDMI.

And it doesn't even get into how Prime games S&H over the long term.

known 8 hours ago 0 replies      
You'll buy anything you think Amazon is losing money on.
milesf 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I use http://camelcamelcamel.com to track stuff I'm looking to buy. Here's a screenshot from my price tracking last year on a WD 6TB drive:


otterley 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The technical term is "loss leader." It's a venerable technique.
Lost Beagle2 probe found 'intact' on Mars
points by mhw  3 days ago   44 comments top 10
mrcarrot 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hadn't realised Colin Pillinger had died. I've found the news oddly affecting considering I never met the guy. :(

(For anyone interested in the background to the Beagle2 probe, 'Backroom Boys'[1] includes a great chapter on it, and Prof Pillinger's involvement .)

[1]: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Backroom-Boys-Secret-Return-British-...

graupel 3 days ago 4 replies      
This seems like something right out of The Martian (which I am 75% through reading, and highly recommend) - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18007564-the-martian
allcentury 2 days ago 4 replies      
One time in a interview I got asked "If two robots are lost on mars and can't communicate with one another, how do they find each other? - please write a program outlining your thoughts"

I just want to be clear it took an actual space agency 11 years to pull this off and the company I interviewed at just backed up data for people.

zaroth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was it just chance that the cameras would pass over that location, or was fuel spent, or other priorities diverted to discover this? That would be interesting to know, because I somewhat hope someone had to make sure we got these images and answers.
XorNot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Part of me hears stuff like this and just goes "let's get Curiosity to motor on over and..."

I am kind of hoping that at some point we'll drop a high-speed rover of some sort on Mars. Even if you took 6 months or a year, being able to cover a decent chunk of the planet would be a heck of a capability.

netcraft 3 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like it might be as simple as one of the solar panels not flipping out to expose the radio. Such bad luck. Really goes to show how many things on a mission like this has to go right.
theandrewbailey 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a good 'accidental' postmortem and provides a good example of how to not design a probe. Having many large parts move before radio contact is possible is bad design.

I have a new project: compare designs of Martian missions that succeeded, and contrast against those that didn't.

kefka 3 days ago 1 reply      
Look north(?) of the probe about 6m. There's a white spot that seems to match the probe.

After reading the description regarding incomplete petal opening, it appears that one of the petals separated.

Houshalter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any chance it still works at all? Probably not but I'm just curious. They said the problem was that the antenna was blocked under the solar panel.
eterm 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing that separates this place from reddit is the down-voting of jokes since submissions are largely cross-polinated.
Show HN: Adopted a dog, had no clue what meds she needed, did some research
points by youngj  1 day ago   71 comments top 29
Amorymeltzer 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I just want to say that this is an beautiful example of the hacker ethos being put to use. The creator got into a new field, saw a hole in information, and put together a neat, useful resource. Just perfect.
r1ch 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I would recommend adding a warning for Hartz products - they are notoriously toxic and kill pets. http://www.hartzvictims.org/
unreal37 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Nice site. Interesting to see the information clearly laid out like that. This should exist for everything as a decision making tool.

It's not an either-or. We have a vet, but we still do our research on everything they recommend to understand the decisions that are being made. It all works very well for us. We're informed, but we also have a trusted adviser.

dkhenry 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't want to be a downer, but I don't like this concept. I understand the desire to educate yourself about the medicine you need for your pet, but the best thing you can do is find a good vet that you trust to give you this advice. In fact the mechanism that you have where by you allow the user to buy said medication from Amazon makes it seem like your putting this list out as an alternative to proper medical care.

There is much more to taking care of a pet then reading the packages of some medication and then buying it from amazon.

k-mcgrady 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting to read this thread to see that lots of people have to medicate their dogs. Is this a regional thing? I've had my dog 8 years and apart from the required injections it has never needed any medication.
akshaykarthik 23 hours ago 5 replies      
Is there an algorithm that would find the minimum subset of these to cover every parasite/bug?
tallanvor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If the place you adopted the dog from didn't give you information, you should talk to a vet about what parasites are common in your region and what treatment options there are. --Many times vets will offer a couple of options for non-prescription treatment and prevention.

If you're in a region that doesn't have fleas and ticks, there's no reason to treat your dog for them. The same goes for many of the other parasites listed.

NiklasPersson 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Problem found, solution created. See, you don't need to create ridiculously overfunded ( - exuse my language -) bullshit products in order to "put a dent in the universe". Just try provide a solution to a real problem. Thumbs up!
clumsysmurf 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The NRDC has a listing of various products and safety concerns at:


I'm using NexGard(not listed - just approved in 2014) and seems to be working fine so far - but since its new there isn't much data on it. I preferred the oral over a topical so I didn't have to worry about topical applications transferring to the home, others, clothing etc.

zumtar 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really great, thank you for doing this.

Could you please add Advantix, Scalibor, Kiltix and Foresto for us Europeans :)

We use most of the others here also, but those I have listed above are used alongside the ones you have listed.

madsushi 23 hours ago 4 replies      
Trifexis is awesome and what I use for my active dog (and we have never had flea problems). The problem is that the pill smells very, very strongly of mold. I have to smash up the pill and mix it into peanut butter for my dog to even look at it. I also administer it outside and use gloves, because it will have your house smelling of mold for days. With a smaller dog (thus smaller dose/pill), you could force it down, but a 30+ lb dog will have too big of a pill and won't eat it normally for any reason.
throwaway5752 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Heardgard and Frontline are usually all that anyone needs.
joelrunyon 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you have a template of this. I can think of 20 other areas where something like this would be useful. Nice work.
edmack 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice! It'd be helpful if one could check the column headers for the things you need to treat, and then the list is filtered for what is effective against those :)
nlh 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Nerd question -- can you talk a bit about how you made it? Tech stack used, etc.? Always curious about that stuff, especially when on Show HN.
jakobegger 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Would be really awesome if there was some way to provide feedback on the effectiveness. My experience with cat medicine showed that what it says on the package is not to be trusted (for example all the "natural" stuff against fleas was completely useless)
JoshGlazebrook 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting that nothing protects from everything. Is that just not possible or is that on purpose?
jat850 22 hours ago 0 replies      
In your research, did you explore other common immunizations like bordetella, parvo, rabies? (I realize these wouldn't fit into any overlapping things like you have here, I'm just curious if you might add it at some point.)
WolfieZero 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome idea! Just a suggestion to the developer (if reading this), would be good to also have a list of what is okay to use on what breed/group (such as advocate for pastoral breeds).
kephra 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The main question is: In what area/country are the parasites resistant against those toxins. e.g. in Bremen neither advantage nor frontline works against fleas.

And I'm missing ARDAP by Shell in this list.

NDizzle 21 hours ago 7 replies      
While this is a good list, these medications are kind of snake oily.

I've had 5 dogs in my lifetime that have lived to age 15+. All I do is take them to the vet yearly and feed them good quality dry dog food.

I have lived in rural Arkansas to the east bay California, as far as exposure to various things. I've had a half wolf dog in AR that would routinely kill and eat armadillos, opossums, terapins, and all kinds of small wildlife. He was probably exposed to all kinds of nasty things.

Never did I give him any of these dog preventative medications that seems to be so popular today.

fiatjaf 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Why not do something like that for humans?
GFK_of_xmaspast 23 hours ago 1 reply      
We just asked our vet.
SaulOfTheJungle 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty neat! Care to share with us what type of tech you used in the backend?
fiatjaf 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I started clicking randomly, expecting it to change the Xs into Vs and vice-versa.
GigabyteCoin 22 hours ago 0 replies      
That dog will be alright. Great job you did there on the website.
seesomesense 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Would you do this to your child ?See a vet.
marincounty 19 hours ago 0 replies      
A Veterinarian with reasonable prices is greatly valued. So valuable, with the right marketing I feel people would leave their estates to your business; I would. That's all I really have to say toVeterinarians, but I feel a lot of you need to ask for some businees advise. I see a lot of people skipping the trips to the vet because they just can't afford the high priced boutiqe veterinarian practice. I know people are inherintly cheep, but I think most just want to be treated fair. I also know what happens when vet hospitals offer too much for free.(SFSPCA offered a "no kill" policy. People started to abandon their animals, and ruined a great organization.)I will pass along-- I've always had big dogs. A Bullmastiff, and mixed breed American Bulldog/Pit. They look sturdy, but they are fragile. The purebred Bull Mastiff was always at the veterinarian. She had multiple problems fromhuge paws that attracted Foxtails/grass seeds to Entropian.I had a great income so going to the vet was no problem. I now have a low income and thank goodness for the mixed breeds.They are still fragile, but don't need to go to the vet as often. I still hear vets telling big breed dog owners about the benefits of exercise. Yes, exercise the dog, but let them choose when and where. All my dogs were over 100lbs, and when I exercized them too much their bodies fell apart.For the Bull Mastiff, a walk around a small lake was too muchon a summer day with a gallon of water. She just dropped half way around. I sat with her until dusk, and then we just made it back to the car. My point is they, especially the Bulldog breeds are fragile.
beachstartup 20 hours ago 0 replies      
this is cool. i adopted a shelter mutt about 2 years ago and i love him to death.

comment/feedback on the table: make the headers float with scroll, so that when you get to the bottom of the table, you can still see what the columns are.

Undeveloped Film from a Soldier in WWII Discovered and Processed
points by benbreen  1 day ago   120 comments top 11
jdnier 1 day ago 0 replies      
It pains me to see him unwrapping paper-backed rolls of film in room light, then using a strobe to document the appearance of the the roll (before developing). The fogging you see at the top and bottom edges of some rolls is from light leaking around the edges of loosely-rolled spools; it happens even with modern 120 roll film. There's a good chance he's fogging some of the rolls due to his handling.
dghughes 1 day ago 6 replies      
Hey! I know that clicky clicky sound well as you ratchet on the film onto the wheel I even have a similar style developer tank only a bit smaller.

I really miss doing that it's been I get 20 years since I've developed any film it's amazing how time flies. Digital photography just doesn't have the soul of actual film photography it's missing the physical connection. Although I don't miss the stink of the fixer.

It's 120 rollfim too for medium a format camera which would give a nice image since it quite a bit larger and has more surface area than a 35mm negative.

For such old film I figured this would have been done in a lab not in a kitchen I'd be concerned with water temperature with such old film. Maybe even soak the film in water to let it hydrate a bit maybe since he indicate they rolls may stick they've been rolled up for so long.

I do wish I had a better method to scan my old negatives and skip the printing part I did try it without much success in the mid 1990s with my first flatbed scanner.

Interesting stuff! It makes me want to pick up the old cameras again.

ncza 1 day ago 0 replies      
Direct link instead of "relevant third-party content rehosted in a company blog": http://www.rescuedfilm.com/
TomGullen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great project, and fascinating to see them:http://www.rescuedfilm.com/#!rescuedwwii/c1d05

What I like about them is they are obviously taken by an amateur (I don't profess to be any good myself!). Things like wonky horizon lines stand out to me and help bring a bit more or a human connection to these photos and events depicted I otherwise feel quite disconnected from.

They remind me of photos for example my family and friends take on holiday, and make me realise it's just pure luck that it wasn't me, my family or friends who found ourselves in those difficult years.

CamperBob2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Irony: Site called "petapixel.com" posts images in glorious 1989-era VGA resolution.

As someone else mentioned, these images were basically stolen from http://www.rescuedfilm.com/ , where they can be viewed at higher quality.

markbnj 1 day ago 3 replies      
I've read about this project before. This isn't the first collection of film from a soldier's belongings that he has located. The most melancholy thought, for me, is that there is likely only one reason why the images were never developed by their creator.
userbinator 1 day ago 5 replies      
This makes me wonder if photos left on an SD card now would still be readable in 70 years... considering the relative fragility of modern flash memory (guaranteed retention specs are at less than a decade now), I'm not so optimistic.
jordanpg 1 day ago 1 reply      
The recovery of these images is a great story to be sure, but the WWII photos remind me of the kind of photos that I usually take: terrible ones. Mostly just pictures of uninspired landscapes, buildings, and nondescript groups of people. Glad to know that ineptitude with a camera began long before they became ubiquitous.
coldtea 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this is artistically fitting to the story:


rquantz 1 day ago 2 replies      
Yay Hacker News. Top thread: what is the legality of who owns this film? Second thread: debating the longevity of flash memory. Third thread (no responses): direct link to content. Last thread (no replies): the only person who directly engages with the content of the linked article even remotely.
delinka 1 day ago 9 replies      
The overlapped images: are these simply because the film didn't wind a fill frame?

Also: "Copyright of All Images On This Website is Owned By The Rescued Film Project."

I have doubts about this statement. Can someone with more expertise in this matter explain? It seems to me that the photographer holds the copyright unless the copyright was properly transferred. Simple discovering the film and processing it does not a copyright holder make.

EDIT: there form for donating unprocessed film contains the following: "By donating your rescued film to The Rescued Film Project [] you agree to release full print and publish copyright of all images recovered from the film to The Rescued Film Project and its proprietor(s)."

This suggests to me that someone else may have obtained and donated the film to TRFP.

Announcing TypeScript 1.4
points by numo16  2 days ago   44 comments top 11
spion 2 days ago 3 replies      
TypeScript is pretty amazing. In a few weeks, it turned our node project from an unruly mess (with tests) to a well organized and compact codebase with nice interfaces that formalize the various data types that flow around.

We just changed the extensions of all of our files to `ts` and added some type definition files (most from DefinitelyTyped) to our project; then started gradually adding types to the codebase. The compiler complains about type errors, but always generates JS from code that is still valid JS, so the project was fully operational during the migration.

Once that was done, moving code around, renaming things and changing entire interfaces became really easy.

The structural type system (basically formalized duck types) is a great fit for JS, and features such as generics ensure that the typesystem is expressive enough to model common functional code (no higher kinded types though, look into purescript for that).

Its not perfect (all types nullable by default; function arguments are bivariant wrt input/output params and some other weirdness here and there) but its a remarkable improvement over plain JS.

guscost 2 days ago 0 replies      
TypeScript has been great. With plain JavaScript you have to be outstandingly organized and diligent to maintain any sort of medium to large project. But this part of the process tends to get neglected, and eventually a point is reached where you can either a) break stuff at run-time in unpredictable ways, b) stop refactoring and deal with the consequences, or c) have a proper suite of unit tests. c) requires almost as much discipline as keeping the code clean in the first place, and a) or b) are not great options.

Luckily TypeScript helps out quite a lot and basically for free. Converting an existing JavaScript project to "naive" TypeScript takes hardly any effort, and as the project evolves it is easy to add type annotations and interfaces at any pace. Once a module is properly typed it (almost) stops breaking at run-time, yay! It's also very clear what will be executing in the browser. Using a cross-compiled language that follows the principle of least astonishment is a real treat.

Obviously it can't prevent compile-time errors, generate unit tests, or build a good application for you, but you do get quite a lot of help with the problems it can solve.

gisenberg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some shameless promotion for a PR I worked on: If you're using the AMD features of TypeScript, support for named AMD modules also made it out in TypeScript 1.4. An example of the syntax can be found in the following file: https://github.com/Microsoft/TypeScript/blob/v1.4/tests/case...
dopamean 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the union type thing is cool. As someone who has never worked with something like that before I have to say that I'm not sure I like the conditional inside the function to check the type. I feel like it would be cool if there was some other construct to match on the argument type and then send the arguments to more specifically typed functions.
McP 2 days ago 3 replies      
I am most excited about template strings, simply because they let you write multiline strings.

e.g. instead of

"hello\n" +





zoomerang 2 days ago 1 reply      
Typescript is really starting to look quite compelling. If we could have null-safety and ADTs I'd be using it in a heartbeat.
xxyyzz3d 2 days ago 2 replies      

  TypeScript now supports using let and const in addition  to var. These currently require the ES6 output mode, but  were are investigating relaxing this restriction in future  versions.
Would be quite nice to be able to use 'let', and just use variable renaming to generate ES5 code with unique names in the case where scopes overlap. I guess it might be coming?

nine_k 2 days ago 3 replies      
Frankly, use of "typeof" to tell between explicitly named types baffled me a bit. I hope they'll introduce pattern matching on type some time later.
hammerandtongs 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have any guidance on navigating es6 output mode vs where firefox and chromium are these days?

Ie whats in typescript es6 output that will have issues?

WhitneyLand 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is the relationship between the upcoming TypeScript 2.0 and ES6? Are they trying to achieve parity or keep evolving as a superset of standard JS?
tonetheman 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do you update to this version if you just use the node version?
Ask HN: How do you find freelance/contract gigs?
points by eatonphil  21 hours ago   79 comments top 44
keithwarren 20 hours ago 7 replies      
I have been on my own for 15 years. I bill around 150/hr give or take 20% depending on the situation. Most of the work is Microsoft stack web related but mobile apps and api building has been steadily increasing for a several years now to the point that probably 20% of my 2014 revenue was in that space.

50-60% of my revenue is sub-contracting. I have a few firms that often take on projects that they are not suited for or do not want to increase staff to cover and they often sub out all or parts of the project to me. These relationships were built through networking with other developers who worked for these companies - never the bosses per se. Meet other devs and when the company needs help, they remember and recommend. In my experience this kind of introduction is about 5x as fertile as a cold intro.

Roughly 30% of my revenue is from direct relationships between myself and another company. These tend to merit a higher rate but also increased risk.

Very few of my direct relationships start from cold calling/intro (not sure if any ever did actually); most came via word of mouth recommendations of other people. Networking at the right kinds of events can also increase your profile and help you meet the right people.

ProTip: Networking at networking events is a terrible idea.

Lacking a sales force the best pseudo sales force you can create are acquaintances who understand your skill set and respect you as a person. They don't need to see your work, they don't need to have hired you before - to drop your name to someone who asks. They need to know your name, what you do and have a generally good feeling about you. If you pay them back for this, even with a simple thank you or lunch - they will continue to be an advocate for you.

Another tip which probably falls into the anecdotal evidence category - get off of ODesk and ELance. You are right about the price war. Your name and value to people also gets damaged because you seem to be just another guy among thousands who need to find work that way - it is a 'dime a dozen' mentality and they will always see you as that.

msutherl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Pro tip: when people say "build a network," they really mean "make friends in your and related industries." Like, actual friends: people you go out for drinks with and enjoy talking to. The trust you build, as friends, will lead to work.

Normally you meet these people in unexpected ways. Just today I was offered a potential job from a girl I met while auditioning apartments. I've also gotten jobs from people I've met on dating websites, on the train at 2am coming home from a party, and on unrelated online forums.

Leave the house, keep an open mind, be friendly.

USNetizen 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Network, network, network. Referrals are the prime driver of business for many, if not most, freelancers. When you get a client and have done good work, ask them "what three other people do you know who could use my services?"...things like that. Don't be afraid to ask for it. Get out of the home office and attend events and conferences. Start meeting people and ASK for their business. Don't be shy about it.

Also, don't expect much from cold emails. It's way too impersonal. Telephone calls are only slightly better, but in-person events are by far the best. Your goal should be to MEET as many people in-person as possible.

notduncansmith 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I do business pretty exclusively through referrals in my network. Every now and again someone will find me through my site, but I do 0 outbound marketing/sales. Caveat: if I were consulting full-time, I would be doing content marketing and have an autoresponder series.

Actionable tip #1: whenever you do work for someone, be sure to get a testimonial. If possible, do a full case-study on your engagement. Feature these prominently on your site. Then, just keep in touch with everyone you do business with. DON'T directly ask for referrals. Just ask how their business is doing. Make it about them. They'll remember this and like you for it, and you'll be at the front of their mind when the topic of consultants comes up.

Actionable tip #2: read this blog post by Patrick McKenzie, the man's advice is pure gold. http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-pro...

Loic 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Build your network and nurture it. Then, after a while it will come along nicely. I run my business in the field of chemical properties, fluid phase equilibria, so really a niche market, but every year, I send a card to all my contacts in the field (100+ cards) and I try to write a personal note for each person. I takes time, but it now a kind of tradition I do not want to break (started for 2008). On the back of the card, I have a link to a summary of my year and what is coming next. 80% of my contracts are coming after such card.

Front of my 2015 card:


I use Moo to print the cards, quality is great and service excellent. This is a referral link, just remove the /share... if you do not want to follow the referral.


dmarques1 19 hours ago 1 reply      
There are a few services now that scour dozens of sites around the web for freelance dev jobs, haven't tried one yet but have considered:https://freelanceinbox.com





asgeo1 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I get most of my leads from either:

* My website. I rank reasonably well in Google for search phrases such as "Freelance Developer in $mycity". Probably if I blogged I would get more traffic. But it doesn't hurt to get a website going, and see if you can get ranked in Google for a particular geographic area. I suppose it's only really useful if you live in a city large enough that businesses are trying to find developers in via Google.

Also I've found that the people who do search Google for developers in a geographic area, are generally doing this because they want someone local, and have often previously tried offshore developers and not liked the results.

* LinkedIn / Github / Stackoverflow - occasionally I get leads from these sites. LinkedIn is easily the best of the three. I don't think you even need many connections on LinkedIn (I've only got 60). I think I just show up in the search results. Usually LinkedIn you will get recruiters looking to fill a contract job. Github/Stackoverflow are usually other developers from a company looking for someone to help out on a project.

I'm a bit disappointed in Stackoveflow Careers - I've never had a lead from there, which is odd.

* Referrals. This is probably the best way to get work - it would be hard if you were young and just starting out I guess. I've found that now and then clients will mention you to other potential clients, and it does kind of snowball a bit once you've worked for enough people.

FigBug 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been contracting for 4 years. I have received 1 job via my website. The rest have been through contacts, primarily through people I previously worked for when I was a full time employee. I've got a few through people I know from cycling. Cycling is apparently the new golf. http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2013/04/business-net...

I find events and conferences to not be much use, unless they are very specific to your industry.

sheraz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm late to the game here, but I'll chime in. There is a general consensus here that networking is the fastest path to that first dollar, and I agree.

The freelance marketplace is a big reason I created 3cosystem[1] - the biggest and most comprehensive tech and startup event calendar.

See if your metro area is listed. There are certainly a number of events popping up around you. Show up early and talk to the organizers. They might mention you in their pre-game presentations.

[1] - http://www.3cosystem.com

netaustin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I run a medium-sized digital agency that started as side work that my co-founder and I basically fell into. We ran our business on the side for about a year before going full-time. I would advocate stepping back and asking what you're really looking for out of the time you have and proceeding carefully.

Selling software development services as an individual is extremely risky, especially if you are selling services to buyers who are not tech-savvy. It takes patience and energy, and software developers have a finite amount of these resources.

Serious consulting generally requires daytime availability. It's a slippery slope from "side hustle" to "leading a double life." If extra income is what you're after, is it an option to change jobs for better pay, or to get more income from your day job?

One bit of advice if you stick with this plan: you can make the sideline nature of the contract work a benefit in your clients' eyes if you set your rates at a level where they feel like they're getting a good deal compared to what you'd be charging if you worked full-time as a consultant. You can also mitigate the cost to your performance at your day job if you consult on a different technology than you use at work.

But if your day job is in professional services, I strongly recommend against contracting on the side. If it's all you do, work-for-hire will slowly kill you.

dannyr 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I did contracting for over 2 years. All my contracts were through a referral from my network.

I never had to do cold-emails.

I live in the Bay Area though where there are a lot of companies looking for somebody to build their Android app.

What's great with the network though is that I never had to negotiate rates since there's already some trust established.

Those who found me through LinkedIn though seem to negotiate a lot with rates which can be a pain.

lwhalen 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Not to hijack someone else's thread or anything, but if folks have a line on a site that pairs 'people who need *nix-based system administration/automation/devops-anything' with 'system administrators/automaters/devops engineers' and could post it, I would be deeply grateful.
asfarley 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I've had some success on elance. The trick is to be extremely selective about who you will talk to. Also, refuse to compete on price. The good clients will see the difference; if they're comparing you against a large firm, you will be competitive on price even if you're making a reasonable hourly rate.

Lately I'm starting to think that both of these points apply to freelancing/contracting whether it's online or through some other channel.

Also, build a decent portfolio of your work.

mcv 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Mostly my gigs tend to find me. A recruiter calls me, and if I'm available (rarely), I discuss details and rate, go talk with the client, and sign a contract. This does make me very dependent on recruiters, and some recruiters are absolute scum, but there are also some good ones. My CV is out there on Linkedin, Monster, etc, and people apparently know how to find me. It's the lazy way to freelancing, I guess, it works for me. At 70/hr I'm apparently a bit cheaper than some other people here, but it's still better than what a lot of my salaried friends make.
raeldc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I became a freelancer shortly after graduating college. Though sites like Elance/Odesk/Freelancer.com(GetAFreelancer back then) provided me a platform to start with, it didn't take long before the cutthroat prices made it unsustainable.

The answer, which has been mentioned already by other commenters, is network. You need a great network and a great reputation. The real question is how do you build a great network? And how do you build a great reputation? As an introvert geek with only a drop of marketing prowess in my DNA, I struggled about the same questions.

One way I built my network is through Open Source Communities. Joomla! was just forked out of Mambo back then and there was an opportunity to participate in the then small community. So I joined the community, made friends with the right people, and I made a living out of building Joomla! Extensions. I also participated in other OS communities like Django, Kohana, and many others. The more I participated, the more my connection and reputation grows. The flow of projects from the connections I got from those communities allowed me to survive, and also thrive, which enabled be to build my own web development company (https://www.wizmedia.net).

I think that marketplace sites like oDesk/Elance/99designs/TaskRabbit etc are horrible place to be in for creative people particularly programmers and designers. I've been looking for alternative places to go to but didn't find any that is fair for both Clients and Freelancers. So it became an idea for my Startup that I'm building right now. That is Creatizens - http://www.creatizens.com. It's still under development, but you can read more about it here https://angel.co/creatizens. The idea is based on the fact that the most profitable freelancers get their projects from their professional network - mostly from colleagues who has overflow projects, or ex-coworker whose company needs contractors. I don't want to talk too much about it since I'm bordering on spammy so I leave it at that.


tomasien 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I almost entirely use my network to get jobs - if you possibly can, build a personal network, because that network will start referring you to people as an expert. This will allow you to rapidly increase the price of your services. I know this is difficult to get started - but whatever you do to get your first few jobs, make those people into contacts and over deliver.

As a side note: anyone doing freelancing that is struggling with the tax part of it, would love to get your feedback on http://painless1099.com - a smart bank account for your 1099 income that does automatic withholding and helps make your tax situation more like that of a W2's. Product is deep in development by some awesome folks (I'm advising) and they still need more sophisticated eyes on it to get the alpha right.

robwilliams88 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I run workshop (a service mentioned already: http://letsworkshop.com that delivers freelance consulting opportunities)

I've seen this question come up a lot and its part of the reason I started workshop. For me emailing companies who specifically said they were looking was great because I was able to control it directly.

Since starting workshop I've helped hundred of freelancers make a lot of money, but some continue to make nothing. It mostly has to do with the emails they send and a few big common mistakes:

-- emails too long -- blab on about themselves-- obviously scripted-- don't propose a next step

It's easy to focus on the wrong things. "What's the Best job board?" "There's not my exact perfect match" "there's not enough opportunities"

But if you focus on emailing one person everyday that needs help, and write an email focused on their problem and not you, you CAN and WILL make a lot of money.

I've seen it with hundreds in your position

wsc981 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Some companies (in the Netherlands) don't want to deal directly with freelancers, for legal reasons. Also, they don't want to bother looking for developers themselves, while at the same time they are not interested in providing developers with any permanent positions. Usually they use a middle man to find appropriate developers for a fixed fee. Such a middle man might be able to provide you with several clients you'd not be able to contact yourself directly.

Some headhunters don't mind dealing with freelancers either. Currently I'm freelancing through Computer Futures.

up_and_up 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been moonlighting/contracting on the side for a couple years now: http://www.featlabs.com

I drum up work by:

* Posting myself on the Monthly HN Whois hiring Freelancers thread (1st of month)

* http://www.authenticjobs.com/

* Attending and doing talks at meetups - got a recent retainer from doing this.

* Old contacts pinging me about projects (rare)

Odesk and Elance, IMHO, are not worth my time. It is a race to the bottom honestly.

I get at least 3 hits a month from my HN posting of which one is solid enough to move forward with in some fashion. Since its part time I dont need more than two clients at a time.

mafellows 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Avoid eLance and oDesk. You're positioning yourself on the low-end of the market just by being on the site. Network locally and get to know entrepreneurs in your area. Reaching out to other dev shops can also be a great way to get consistent contract work. Don't underestimate the value of remote clients either. Services like letsworkshop.com send out quality remote web development opportunities. They're not perfect, but they can be well worth the cost. iOSLeads.com and AndroidLeads.net are a couple of services I started for mobile devs. Happy to answer any questions.
damm 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been a 'Contractor' since 2012 and I haven't gotten thrown out of my hose for non-payment of rent so I guess I am doing good.

First off:

There really is no good 'job' site for Contracts. There are a lot of 'Work From Home/Work Remotely' sites; but there is not one for contracting exactly.

What I do:

I network through people I know; cold calling can work if you see the company has a problem and you tailor yourself as the fix. But often those are short term gigs unless they love you.

Other than that.

Don't be afraid to post yourself on the monthly who's hiring and who wants to get hired. Making yourself visible will net a few responses that maybe gold.

Lastly, Stackoverflow Careers job has bene helpful.

Really last comment: http://thenubbyadmin.com/2014/01/20/best-list-of-remote-sysa...

jules 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Referrals, and some gigs found me after I wrote some technical articles. I have not done any cold calling and I have not used any freelancer sites. If you're good then it's a bad idea to participate in a lemons market. It's much better to start from a position where you don't have to convince your client that you are capable of delivering value.
phillytom 20 hours ago 0 replies      
When I consulted I also offered training on different technologies, languages, etc. Training itself is not very lucrative, but it's great for lead generation.

Also, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned this yet, post in the HN Freelance thread on the first of every month. I've hired a number of freelancers from there.

tejay 17 hours ago 1 reply      
No doubt, the best freelance gigs are the result of close, pre-existing relationships. Easier said than done tho if you're just getting your start.

Try using the sites mentioned within the thread - pickcrew, gun.io, etc. - these sites generally have higher-priced contracts and more interesting work than the classic variants. Use these sites at first to discover what work you like and build long-terms relationships with a few key clients.

1. Remember that the comms overhead with freelance work can be really lumpy and unpredictable. Programming is the fun part - the phone calls and emails can get painful really quickly

2. Avoid hourly pricing whenever possible. Do value-based pricing. Just trust me on this one.

scrollaway 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used Peopleperhour.com to build my career. It has a good community and isn't a "php-farm" like the other freelance sites (though it has been going downhill a bit lately). I still would highly recommend it but you will need a good profile before you start getting jobs. Though, once I did have a good profile, potential clients kept inviting me to bid to all sorts of jobs, so it's not hard to get good income out of it once you get started.

I don't use it much anymore since I found a full-time job, but it kept me in great shape for almost four years.

Below is an affiliate link if you're OK with it.


woohoo7676 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been contracting for about 3 years now, one I found via StackOverflow Careers, and the other was via a co-working space.

I think the general consensus here is right. Avoid finding jobs on contractor bidding sites like Elance/Odesk (they're devaluing your work/skills). Put yourself in positions where you can tell people about your skills/services, and where people might be looking for said skills. I'd start with tech meetups, co-working spaces, other places where people you might want to work with are. Good luck!

pablo-massa 20 hours ago 0 replies      
https://angel.co/jobs has given me results.You can filter by "Remote OK" and the job position, also subscribe to email notifications for that filter.
tebeka 12 hours ago 0 replies      
One way to network is to go to job interviews. Be open about the fact that you're mostly interested in contracting and maybe you'll consider joining after a time (which is true in my case - there's a lot of overhead in contracting).
alexjeffrey 21 hours ago 0 replies      
in my experience, if you can grab a couple of not-too-underpriced gigs on a freelancing website (my preference is PeoplePerHour as it's less price-war-y) and can get a few regular clients from that, they'll be more happy to pay a reasonable fee for a reliable and familiar developer. Bear in mind that there are a LOT of unreliable and flaky developers on these sites so once you've proven your value to someone they'll be more likely to pay higher rates to retain you.
stevejohnson 20 hours ago 1 reply      
This has been asked a few times over the years. Look over the HN search results for some ideas. https://hn.algolia.com/?q=how+do+you+find+freelance#!/story/...

(This is not to say it's not a question worth asking again! I look forward to today's responses.)

gargarplex 21 hours ago 1 reply      
What kind of software do you build? How much do you charge? Are you willing to work on legacy code bases?

As a hiring manager, I currently have an availability to hire a freelancer. I just need someone responsible, mature and professional who's willing to roll up their sleeves and go from "receiving requirements" to shipping and thoroughly testing.

callmekatootie 10 hours ago 0 replies      
http://www.topcoder.com - apart from the algorithm competitions that it is known for, it also has "challenges" where you compete with other participants and work on building applications.
jqm 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Don't contract as a contractor to businesses that are programming themselves. Build things for businesses that will be the end user. Most of these types of businesses have less of a notion of how to go about getting tools that will help their business in the first place and it can be a hard sell unless they have an immediate need. Sometimes you have to really learn about the specifics of how the business functions and this can be a pain. But once you build a few small accounting apps that export to CSV or inventory management tools specific to the business...stuff of that nature, you have a good point to take off from and examples to show. You do have to deliver though... a finished product, not just code. But I stay pretty busy like this.
godzillabrennus 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Talk to small recruitment/staffing companies in your area to drum up some clients. Best part is they do the collections and handle the sales. You just set the rate.
walshemj 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Normally via recruitment agency's they quite often have perm and contract teams.
hellbanner 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Are you near any major cities you can attend conferences of major industries?
icpmacdo 20 hours ago 1 reply      
What level of skill did you have in Web Dev before you started freelancing(to freelancers in general)?
homakov 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Simply have a blog, post cool stuff, and clients find you not the other way around.
cweagans 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Gun.io is pretty good, IMO. I'd stay away from odesk and elance.
EGreg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Networking and being known as the go-to guy for something many people need. For me it's been social media and apps, I've worked with startups and interactive agencies and seen it all. It often helps to give a free consultation and send in your own proposal to be paid corp-to-corp, then hire people to help you. It helps even more to have a small shop with a portfolio and be listed prominently for that particular technology.

If you want to go to the next level, create an open source project or start a blog, to get a reputation. The more people hear about you the more some of them will convert to potential customers, increasing ambient demand.

Look at Yehuda Katz with Ember for instance, or the guy Bob who wrote nvd3. Having a niche that can help businesses improve their bottom line pays very well.

dsfreed 18 hours ago 0 replies      
hashtag 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Check your local contracting agencies
cshipley 17 hours ago 0 replies      
A great place to start is posting something on the find a freelancer thread here on HN every first of the month. I get a fair number of inquiries from that.

As others have mentioned, meeting people and letting them know what you do. Most of these will not be direct clients. Rather they will either know of someone who is seeking help, or will remember your name.

It can take some time to get your name out and get the ball rolling. When I started up again, it took about two months. When you talk to someone, you never know how long it will take to turn into something. I have had conversations with clients that took 6 months to come to fruition. Others in just a week. The moral of that story is to always be looking, not just when you need work. Get in the habit of always saying yes, and then just manage your availability.

There is a spectrum of the kind of work you can do. I don't mean which language/platform. I mean straight staff augmentation to managing projects. It is easier to find the staff augmentation gigs. These are easier since someone will just be telling you what to work on, and you do it. You will make less for these and this sort of work doesn't scale as well. I would only ever do this for straight a straight hourly rate.

Managing projects doesn't mean you will (necessarily) be managing people, just managing the project. With this, someone needs something built, but may not know how. It requires an additional skill set of knowing a bit of sales, knowing how to set/re-set expectations and how to negotiate. You can get a much higher rate for this, and it is possible to scale this a bit better because you can sub out some of the work.

Another thing you will run into very quickly is how to structure the relationship. There are people out there who are incompetent and others who are nefarious. It is important to know how to protect yourself legally and practically for both. For the legal aspect, find a local attorney who can look over contracts and help you craft a reusable template. Always have an attorney look over contracts before you sign. Most of the time someone gives you a contract to sign, it will be written to be in their best interests. Other times, they will just be poorly written.

For the practical aspect, understand there is a difference between working with someone in-state, out-of-state and out of country. You have the most legal recourse with someone in-state. If they are out-of-state, you may have to go there to pursue any legal action. (which is a massive pain) If they are out of country you may not have any legal recourse. So you will want to structure the business relationship to protect yourself, which might be as simple as half of the estimate up-front. The remainder on completion, and they get no code until it is complete.

A lot of times I structure it by milestone or iteration, with time limits, requiring permission to continue, but all billed hourly. Each iteration or milestone delivers something tangible. They get code on payment. This way I get paid for the work I do, and they won't get unexpected costs and they always have a pretty good idea where things are. Risk is mitigated in both directions. At any point, they can decide to pull the plug and they still have something for what they've paid so far.

It is not uncommon for potential clients to ask for fixed-bids. My advice is to steer away from them. They require you to be able to make good estimates then inflate them to cover your risk. That risk is all on you. They also require you to have tight definitions and manage scope changes mercilessly. If you don't, then you eat it. That said, some people like them because they're really easy.

Some other pieces of advice:

* You're not dedicated to a particular project until either they've given you a deposit, or something is set up legally so that if you start working, you'll get paid.

* Generally ask for a deposit from new clients.

* It is ok to drop bad clients. Sometimes they're not worth the trouble.

* Think about it in terms of collecting/building long term relationships rather than "work". Once you get an established base of good clients, the work will tend to come to you.

* Remember, you're not their friend and not their employee. You are in it because it is a business relationship that has mutual benefit.

* Keep good records of time, expenses and income.

Email me at curtis [at] saltydogtechnology [dot] com if you have more questions. What sort of work are you looking for?

cuckol333 14 hours ago 0 replies      
MY STRATEGY works somewhat? but is old and dusty.old and dusty warning and YMWV - mileage will vary.

-1.) It has nothing to do with your willpower or even yourskillsets.

0.) the key strategy is rule out - some big companies,even stingy and the case of CIO chef info officer is clueless - AVOID THEM like the plague. U get a great job.affter change of bosses - once every 9 months for 3 years;you get 'fired' and put on the blacklist.


1.) it's all about MBA work, screening and positioning.get to know the rankings of the S&P 500 rank listing well.this is ONLY a template and guide. oh by the way,over 51 + 7 years of experience; various fields, and someodd experiences.

4.) before I get to the GOOD SEXY FREE MILLIONAIRE STUFF,figure out how to crash the local conferences/convensions.Yes, pay off the low part time work who moved goods. I ama substitute.

get the business card. say NADADADA! research the hell outof them. then it is mano a mano. eyeball to eyeball.i know u need this. this is what your competitors knowhere a ANONYMOUS QUOTE.

oh, no i am not a journalist. media, lawyer, stranger,etc etc. U R DOING THEM A FAVOR.

5.) ask reasonable questions. no i dont need the moneybut i really love programming / s?redacted? x, etc etc

6.) remember the obscure system engineer who does unixor the assoc vp does not want a referral free. Grass isalways greener on the other side.

7.) it's just me but five dimensional programming code on an origama (YES I AM ASIAN) ORIGAMA ball /can be be fun.and a nice prop. wave it around like a big CIGAR.

8.) most of the workplace have the 'hacks'; unix engineerslike i former trying to become a database engineer consultetc. cold mail and cold call - is fine, but the wallstreet method rule applies - 250 dials a day. 4 days awekk on various times. wt ???? 250??? is a lot.note - this is dials and yes i have done freelance 'boilerroom similar looking like work' - i am not a stock brokerfilm db BOILER ROOM !! yeahhhh baaaabbyy

9.) the MEAT the millionaire the sexy the GOOD STUFF.please delete this comment. or the censors may take it out.ok with me.

here it is......the Rotary Club works on a non-compete, diversifiedP2P network. ROTARY CLUB. non-compete since onlyone real estate agent in any one circle.

THE SCENARIO:my good 'friend' and associate REAL ESTATE AGENT or fill inblank spends a lot of time in the WOMAN CLUB. So, thewife of the VP of the data center mentions how ASTOUNDINGis this person.

the VP, is a man married and will give you at least a courtesy interview. Provide value, turn down 20% of thejobs.. shadddde the truth???? but

i have read at least 20 of the top books. compiled linuxkernel,blah blah learn a new language Haskell with succkybooks so the problems are NEVER technical or delivery.

it has only to do with some clueless CIOsss who barelypassed certification Micosoft exams.sorry, no person offense meant.IT HAS ONLY at least in USA, to do with somesystem engineer who WANTS U DESPERATELY but has aoutsource contract with a guy who cannot understandcode comments in ENGLISH or deal with HR where talent TALENT talent is a priority.

and of course, U are DOOMED. sorry to say.the extra income and part time jobs / health benefits /DESTRUCTION OF THE USA MIDDLE CLASS continues!

PS. full time -?? been there, done tthat kinda.i always allocate at least 10% to make boss look good;frills and bells; make the code look pretty and beautiful;and othher WORTHLESS GARBAGE. this is called the hiddentax.

also, 20% for learning and at least finding HOLES IN THECOMPANY SOFTWARE. logic flaws, security flaws, bad code,bad process, bad procedures, bad SQL, bad db architecture,

warninggg! this can be dangerous. doing the job of the cluelesss CIO chief inof officer can lead to BLACKLIST.

does tthzyat help?

Arch Linux on MacBook Pro Retina 2014
points by loicp  2 days ago   140 comments top 18
darren0 2 days ago 11 replies      
After running Linux on MacBooks for the past 5 years I would strongly recommend against it. The basics usually work fine but you are constantly dealing with issues. Each MacBook revision introduces some new issue. For example the webcam recently switched from being usb attached to being attached to the PCI bus and Linux doesn't have drivers yet. Other things like GPU switching, multi monitor, display brightness, all have quirks.

Just recently I gave up getting MacBooks to work with Linux and went back to ThinkPads and I couldn't be more happy. Granted you can still buy ThinkPads that have similar issues as the MacBooks. The difference is that you can find a ThinkPad (or some other brand) that works practically flawlessly. With the current line of MacBooks, not a single one doesn't have huge issues (like the webcam).

bithush 2 days ago 4 replies      
Maybe I am just getting old but in 2015 it shouldn't be this much work to get an OS installed on a computer. Getting pretty much any Linux or Windows installed on my ThinkPad is a piece of cake. As pretty as a Bacbook Pro is I just don't have the time for this kind of thing anymore.

#GetOffMyLawn ;)

Nexxxeh 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author asks for language corrections on his documentation.

>English is not my native language, corrections and fixes will be greatly appreciated.

There's nothing really bad that I could see. No potentially ambiguous instructions at least.

Two typos ("Thunderbold" and "actuel"), a missing "to" ("on a second USB") and a spurious "s" ("informations"). What's the best way to provide the feedback?

Edit: Looks like submitter is author, so this may be a solved problem.

robbles 1 day ago 1 reply      
Totally unrelated to the subject matter, sorry:

what is the service that generates the author's picture on the top left? I've been seeing them a lot lately and I don't really understand why people use them in place of a real photo.

insaneirish 1 day ago 3 replies      
As an academic exercise, bravo. As a practical matter, articles like this boggle my mind.

I really struggle to find a single reason how Linux makes sense on a laptop in 2015 as a primary OS when OS X is an option.

If you feel that strongly about running a Linux desktop, just do it in a VM.

dsqrt 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have the same machine as the author of this post and I have been wondering about installing Linux on it for quite some time. I was wondering: wouldn't it be simpler to use virtualization (no problems with the hardware, ease in sharing data between Linux/OS-X no need to partition the disk and so on)? What am I missing?
shawn-butler 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think I would trust for very long any system spitting out those ATA errors.

The interrupts are also probably the cause of the abnormally high kworker CPU usage.

cmurf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Core Storage volumes can be resized with 'diskutil cs resizevolume' even if they're encrypted. It's not documented in the diskutil man page, and thus probably not supported. I've done this maybe a dozen times and on one of those attempts it totally imploded the file system and couldn't be salvaged - so it works most of the time but a backup is still wise.
wampus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Instead backing up the raw disk with dd, you can create a USB installer in OS X. The trick is to download Yosemite from the App Store and prevent it from running. There are plenty of articles describing the process. If you also have data to preserve, connect an external disk and do a Time Machine backup. If anything goes wrong, you can reinstall OS X from scratch and restore your data (and even restrict the size of your OS X partition so you don't have to resize it again).
edcastro 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why use powertop instead of tlp? I've been using tlp on my macbook for a few months and everything works smoothly. Good battery life and suspend works perfectly using all tlp related programs (tlp, tlp-sleep, tlp-rdw). :)
floatboth 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd like to install FreeBSD on my MacBook Air. Unfortunately, Broadcom Wi-Fi. Still no driver.
seyz 2 days ago 3 replies      
Nice job. I'm running on Archlinux on a Mac Book Air 2014.

The only thing that doesn't work is my webcam. Does yours work?

tuananh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Getting an OS on a laptop shouldn't be this much trouble.
shpx 1 day ago 1 reply      
lvcreate --extentes 100%FREE -n root vgcrypt

unrecognized option '--extentes'

I think you meant '--extents'

ratsimihah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great post!

re "You can leave me a tip for hosting fees, thank you :)":

There are 10000 free alternatives to host your blog. Look into Jekyll+Github pages for example.

akacase 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dell Latitude E4300 with OpenBSD.
jkot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice list, I liked part about powertop.

BTW I would like to see similar list howto install OSX on Thinkpad.

ctrlfreak 1 day ago 0 replies      
great lesson. there has to be a buyer for every seller and a seller for every buyer.
BBC uses RIPA terrorism laws to catch TV licence fee dodgers in Northern Ireland
points by k-mcgrady  3 days ago   85 comments top 14
pjc50 3 days ago 3 replies      
"The BBC declined to give any details about its use of RIPA"

Nothing like transparency. The rest of the article strongly suggests this is to do with the detector vans. This is partially confirmed by a FOI query: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/prosecutions_from_tel...

It sounds like everyone in authority believes that the use of detector vans is regulated by RIPA. I think this is due to section 2:

(2)For the purposes of this Act, but subject to the following provisions of this section, a person intercepts a communication in the course of its transmission by means of a telecommunication system if, and only if, he

(a)so modifies or interferes with the system, or its operation,

(b)so monitors transmissions made by means of the system, or

(c)so monitors transmissions made by wireless telegraphy to or from apparatus comprised in the system,

as to make some or all of the contents of the communication available, while being transmitted, to a person other than the sender or intended recipient of the communication.

The detector vans are rumored to work by picking up the IF of the TV's heterodyne receiver. I guess this counts as "interception" of a signal, even though it's a signal that was publicly broadcast in the first place.

This could all be cleared up by a clear statement from someone about what surveillance is taking place, but of course everyone loves secrecy and there's no honesty in public debate.

tempodox 3 days ago 2 replies      
A perfect example of bad cases making bad law and bad law then being abused.

British truants and TV watchers alike now have the honour of being treated as terrorists. The fact that it's not some overreaching surveillance body, but a pedestrian mob like the BBC who is abusing this law so blatantly, shows how badly made this law really is. Obviously, it has no safeguards against this kind of misuse. The lawmakers who built this travesty should be sent back to primary school.

ha292 3 days ago 3 replies      
Let us pause for a second an think what could possibly happen with anti-terrorism laws like this in not-so-advanced democracies where there is little protection of the average citizen from the abuse of state power.

Let us also think about how the leading democracies export the "democratic software" (laws) and they get copied/cited in not-so-advanced democracies in making their own laws. It is very easy for a barely-democratic state to cite a western democracy's law as a precedence.

Let us then think about how many people live under democratic laws (and under strong rule of law) and compare that to the number of people without that.


I fear that these badly written anti-terrorism laws are like software flaws that will flow from system to system and harm many more people than we can see right now.

noonespecial 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think maybe "terrorism" is just the new term for crime of all levels now. Because crime makes people afraid right? Perhaps I'm terrified that if too many of those rotten tax dodgers skip out on thier tv tax there might not be another season of Doctor Who. Scary stuff.
vidarh 3 days ago 1 reply      
From the sounds of it ("detection equipment") this appears to be the use of detection vans that was done for decades prior to RIPA, but that now is being done subject to RIPA because RIPA covers that activity.

RIPA is an awful, awful law for a lot of reasons, but the article seems to sensationalise it in that RIPA does not appear to have suddenly allowed the BBC (or rather TV Licensing, which is a separate organization) to do something they weren't allowed to do before in this case (unless something much worse is hidden behind the "detection equipment" name).

jayess 3 days ago 3 replies      
For those of us outside the UK, they are required to pay for a license when they own a TV and watch live television. It's about $215 a year.


rmc 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not like there's a history of state abuses in Northern Ireland "to combat terrorism"....
k-mcgrady 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly I'm not surprised and I don't think it'll change now that it's been exposed. It's a good example how these powers can be abused for idiotic reasons and why we need to be wary of them.
ingler 2 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't seen van Eck phreaking[0] or Tempest[1] mentioned yet. Not that the BBC would use the tech, but it seems pertinent.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Eck_phreaking

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempest_(codename)

wmt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Strange it's news now, as BBC has been already pretty openly abusing the spirit of the RIPA legislation to hunt down petty fee dodgers. Here's a word from the BBC from 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/aboutthebbc/posts/how-does-the-bb...
jacquesm 2 days ago 2 replies      
Aren't compulsory fees to support local broadcasters a bit out-dated? (Regardless of the blatant abuse of the law here.)
blueflow 3 days ago 0 replies      
Im not much surprised. A lot of people told that things like this will happen.
squozzer 2 days ago 0 replies      
The BBC has dragged Western Civilization to a new low. Certainly not the finest hour in the long history of the British Empire, is it?
ender89 2 days ago 1 reply      
The craziest part of this is that in the UK you need to pay a fee to pick up publicly broadcasted unencrypted television signals. I wonder what the hell is the basis of this "fee"?
New Revelations U.S. Tracked Americans Calls for Over a Decade
points by peter123  2 days ago   55 comments top 12
0x5f3759df-i 2 days ago 5 replies      
The key point of this is that the database of calls was collected without court oversight.

So all the defense the government used with the NSA database being overseen by the FISA court doesn't apply, there was no court oversight of this program.

It did not target specific individuals and there was no probable cause before the collection of this data.

This is a clear violation of the 4th Amendment in my view.

>The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

declan 2 days ago 0 replies      
So DEA has a secret database of some significant subset of American's phone records compiled with zero court oversight. Lovely. But the first question that springs to mind is: Wy would DEA not try to vacuum up email and other metadata records too?

The law the DEA used to vacuum up Americans phone records is 21 USC 876, which authorizes it to demand any info the Attorney General finds relevant or material to the investigation. (No room for misuse there, right?)

But if 21 USC 876 lets DEA nab one metadata database, why not others? Cell phone tower records? SMS records? Email To:/From: lines?

One answer is that Silicon Valley companies tend to push back against legally dubious surveillance requests. (Yes, it's true that if they lose they have to comply or go to jail, but at least they tend to fight.)

Examples I can think of offhand: Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook began requiring warrants for email content in 2010 even though the law remains unsettled nationally. There was Google vs. DOJ in 2006, Yahoo vs NSA in 2007-2008, Amazon vs DOJ in 2007, Facebook vs. Virginia in 2009, and Twitter vs DOJ in 2010 (though I recall that was notification, not litigation). My CNET article in early 2013 disclosed Google was fighting the FBI over NSLs in two different courts: http://www.cnet.com/news/justice-department-tries-to-force-g...

On the other hand, AT&T/VZ/etc. -- which also provide email hosting! -- have long-standing surveillance partnerships with the Feds, as I wrote about here: http://www.cnet.com/news/surveillance-partnership-between-ns...


PS: A NYT article covering much the same ground, for those of you who don't subscribe to the WSJ: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/17/us/dea-kept-telephone-reco...

kefs 2 days ago 2 replies      
While searching for a non-paywalled version, I stumbled on this gem from 9 years ago..


ThinkBeat 2 days ago 0 replies      
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
"If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the USA. They don't care." --Nelson Mandela


rurban 2 days ago 0 replies      
James Risen published that already, it was the very first Snowden document on day 1, the "PSP" - the presidents surveillance program, and the fact that they destroyed the call record database at the justice dpmt probably just means that they have now warrantless access to the NSA call databases, which are bigger (full content) and searchable with much better tools.
pistle 2 days ago 1 reply      
Buried on a Friday
rnernento 2 days ago 1 reply      
Paywall :(
shomyo 2 days ago 0 replies      
To Read the Full Story, Subscribe or Log In
icantthinkofone 2 days ago 1 reply      
So about half as long as the German, Russian, Chinese and British.

By "Americans" they mean those who called overseas to areas known for terrorist and other illegal activities. Not ALL calls as the title would lead you to believe.

In this day and age, terrorist activities are moving faster than the law that NEEDS to keep up with it. For every terrorist success there is an unknown number of society wins due to this activity.

Monitoring of calls is not done for the hell of it. There is no little man in a back room listening to your every word. It's not happening to everyone and not to all calls.

More but I'm bored.

crazychrome 2 days ago 0 replies      
A surprise?
theltrj 2 days ago 0 replies      
boo paywall
RadioShack Prepares Bankruptcy Filing
points by dewitt  4 days ago   221 comments top 50
copsarebastards 3 days ago 10 replies      
A lot of people think RadioShack should have made the transition to internet sales, but I think that they actually started failing earlier, when they expanded into a non-technical market.

In the 80s and 90s I could go into a Radio Shack and buy resistors, fuses, soldering equipment, breadboards, various controllers and sensors, hard drives, processors: everything I needed to assemble an electronics project, fix a computer, make something.

But in the mid-late 90s they started switching over to a more general consumer model. Bins of parts were replaced by shiny cell-phone display cases. Knowledgeable fat bearded nerds were replaced by skinny college students working a retail job until they got their degree. The last time I went into a RadioShack I just wanted a potentiometer and they literally didn't have any electronics parts.

The tragedy here is that this transition completed at about the same time the maker movement started to emerge a little after the turn of the millennium.

DanBlake 3 days ago 8 replies      
Nobody seems to have a good answer for what RS should become to avoid shutting down. The most common answer is to go back to its roots and embrace the maker market and stock up on things like 3d printers, breadboards and arduinos. I think this is the wrong idea, since the market is nowhere near large enough to support the vast amounts of stores RS has.

I think if I was the CEO, I would focus on being a boutique shop for neat stuff. Kind of like a brookstone for electronics. They would have google glass, nest, wearables, smart home stuff. They would have things you cant buy at best buy like high end headphones and microphones. Not only that, but it would have knowledgeable staff who could tell me why I should go with the Denon headphones and the Fiio amplifier and skip the sonys. Broadly, alot of the type of stuff you see on kickstarter would feel like their inventory.

Yes, you would have 3d printers and filament in the store also, but the new RS store would not revolve around that- It would be there because it was 'cool'. I would much rather see way less capacitors and fuses and more fuut hammocks and 4th design titanium iphone cases.

But you would also see high end stuff you normally cant buy in best buy because its too expensive to have the inventory floated to all their stores. There is a surprising amount of laptops that are 'too high end' to ever show up in BB and only rarely appear in microsoft stores. That is also the case with audio equipment in spades.

Thats a store I would go to.

I write a bit more about this here : http://harknesslabs.com/post/108193041064/how-to-save-radio-...

wycklendt14 3 days ago 4 replies      
I worked at RadioShack for 2 years in college in 2003 and I can say with out a doubt that the upper management lead the downfall of that company. They abandoned their core customers of electronics hobbyists and turned there employees into salesmen. I got paid $5.50 an hour but was told that was OK because I made commissions from cell phone sales which maybe upped my pay to $6.00 on a good day. No wonder there constantly rated as one of the worst companies to work for... If they would have paid employees better they may have been able to get people that could actually help customers and they might still be around today. Good bye RadioShack, I won't miss you.
gtjay 3 days ago 3 replies      
Having moved to Australia in recent years, I was very happy to see that JayCar, their equivalent to Radio Shack, seemed to be doing quite well. This is judging by what I've seen of the stores in what is considered a fairly backwards part of Australia (Queensland).

The difference seems to be two-fold. First, Jaycar didn't go through an insane expansion (there are only 12 or so locations per state). Second, they've grown "out" from their core market of electronics hobbyist instead of betraying it. Just a few examples: custom car stereos, solar panel accessories, camping/RV electronics, boating electronics, and DJ-stuff like laser projectors. This is all in addition to the arduino and 3D printing stuff that you'd expect. There's a huge amount of cross-over between these markets, which works out great for Jaycar.

There is one additional factor keeping Jaycar healthy that probably shouldn't be underplayed. Due to mining and a less crypto-facist view of unions, Australia has not (yet) completely gutted it's blue-collar market and culture. Jaycar advertises almost exclusively to this "tradie" (as the Australians call it) demographic. Jaycar is marketed as a "manly" thing, not a "nerd" or "tech" thing. In fact, it's even drummed up minor controversy from feminist as being exclusionary with ads focusing on "leaving her to go to your man-cave" and whatnot. This part of Jaycar's success probably can't be replicated stateside. The market of people who have the skills to fix a small electric outboard motor and can still afford one died with the rest of blue-collar culture and jobs.

sharkweek 3 days ago 3 replies      
One of my favorite writers covered his tenure at RadioShack back in the early/mid augts


It's one of the funniest/most heartbreaking articles I have ever read, but also explains a lot about RadioShack's slow spiraling collapse.

sizzzzlerz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Let's stop with all the nostalgia for the Radio Shack of old. They haven't been that way for 20 years. Their management has completely misread the market, they abuse their employees, they offer nothing you can't get elsewhere, usually at better prices, and, frankly, they have become like your crazy uncle: prone to doing something odd, smells bad, and is constantly embarrassing the family.

Stick a fork in them, they're done. They won't be missed because there is nothing there to miss.

GCA10 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm amazed they lasted this long. There's a Radio Shack two doors down from my office. I go in about 5x/year to buy batteries, USB cables or such stuff. Each time there's a new manager. Or a new clerk. Some are polite; some don't bother -- but nobody has a clue.

The stores seem totally dependent on weird promotions (buy 16 batteries; get 8 free) or copycat cell-phone deals in an era where there's always a specialized AT&T or Verizon store within a two minute walk. Meanwhile, they've deskilled the places to the point that customers can get much better advice from the reviews on Amazon than from a Radio Shack clerk.

specialp 3 days ago 2 replies      
Radio Shack cannot make money selling hobbyist things to support their expensive retail locations. We all love that kind of stuff but admit it, that business has gone online to places like Adafruit. Even hardcore electronic component retailers that were in low rent industrial parks, or in my case a guy that operated out of his basement when he could not afford the rent in his industrial park have closed.

For years cell phones and people not smart enough to order cables from Monoprice and the like had powered their business. People like me would go to Radio Shack to buy emergency things like a common transistor, or solder, and also to gobble up their ancient hobbyist stuff on clearance.

There is no model for small electronics stores anymore selling any type of good. Hell even the big box places like Best Buy are under immense pressure from online retailers.

jhulla 3 days ago 0 replies      
Radio Shack has a warm place in my childhood: the Radio Shack Battery Club.

As a poor nerdlet in the early 80s, all my electronic projects were built with scavenged parts. Even so, I needed batteries. Batteries were not cheap - say compared to buying a gallon of milk for the family.

So, I had my parents and siblings sign up with me for the Radio Shack battery club at the two Radio Shacks nearby. These battery cards entitled you to a free battery once a month. My family supported my habit - and between the two stores and our cards - I had a steady supply of batteries. Those batteries powered my devices and my development as an engineer.

The first time I saw Fry's and WeirdStuff in the Bay Area in the early 90s, I think my heart skipped multiple beats. Seeing a DigiKey catalog for the first time had a similar effect.

I haven't stepped in a RS in more than a decade. I am sorry to see them go.

gregd 4 days ago 3 replies      
I graduated from high school in the 80s. My first computer was a TRS-80 WITH a cassette tape to save my programs to. How RS went from being ubiquitous to a laughing stock is beyond me, but I remember seeing the downfall during the 90s when they started offering really cheap toys (like remote controlled cars).

They almost became embarrassing.

quadstick 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a Geezer Geek, this breaks my heart. When I was eight years old, my mom dragged me along to the Tandy Leather Company so my sister could buy some leather for some stupid project. In the corner of that huge store was a section with all kinds of electronic parts. I was fascinated. My mom bought me a crystal radio kit, some books and a CK722 germanium transistor, and later, an Ocean Hopper shortwave receiver (all of which I still have). For another generation, it will be the TRS-80 that was their first love, electronically speaking.Before they lost their way, Radio Shack started a lot of engineers down their career path and it is very sad to see this outcome.
whistlerbrk 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why couldn't they just stay a hobbyist store instead of schlepping cell phones? This stuff is cyclical and we're on the up-cycle now as they are going bankrupt. Instead of having their employees push plans they could have had them grow and share their knowledge of electronics. Sad, this place was near and dear to me for a bit.
joeyh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good riddance. May whatever small void it leaves be filled by a diversity of mom-and-pop electronics stores. There's one such store in my area that seems to do well enough catering to the professional/hobby markets, with a couple locations, and has been around for decades. (Oddly it also has free popcorn.)
DigitalSea 3 days ago 0 replies      
I live in Australia, so when I was a kid it wasn't called Radioshack here, but rather Tandy Electronics (same company though, different name). You could by electronic components; resistors, LED's, hobbyist kits, breadboards and all kinds of electric items. Then they started moving out of the space into more consumer focused electronics, eventually you couldn't even buy a a packet of LED's like you once could. Eventually forgoing non-consumer focused electronic components altogether.

Such a shame that a company as iconic as Radioshack is filing for bankruptcy. Would things have been different if they stayed in the electronic component/hobbyist side of things? Who knows. They obviously got out of the components game for a reason. Here in Australia we have Jaycar Electronics which is exactly how I remember Tandy being when I was a kid. Electronic components, educational breadboard/electronic kits, weird gadgets, DIY kits and more. They seem to be doing fairly well and best of all: no televisions or computers in sight.

tankenmate 4 days ago 0 replies      
Lack of vision; blinkers on and plow forward. Of all the customer bases out there you would think that most Radio Shack customers would be far more favourable to ordering via the Internet and preferring delivery. I'm a bit surprised they didn't move more towards a RS / Farnell business with the occasional small shop front combined with a warehouse model (a la Argos).
Animats 3 days ago 2 replies      
This bankruptcy has been long anticipated. It's time.

There was a time when it was hard for hobbyists to buy parts. Even in Silicon Valley. I used to have a commercial account with Hamilton/Avnet just so I could order and pick up at will-call. The alternative was ordering from Allied Radio, with two week delivery and a 5% error rate. Now, anybody can order from Digi-Key, and get delivery tomorrow if you pay for express shipping. There's not even a minimum order.

If you're looking for a business model, consider a hobbyist front end to Digi-Key and Mouser. Digi-Key has about 40 options for a 1/10 watt 100 ohm leaded resistor. This overwhelms many hobbyists. (Do I need flame resistance?) Octopart does some of this, but a social component is needed. Something like Github for hardware, with design files, bills of materials, issue tracking, etc.

jack-r-abbit 3 days ago 1 reply      
The day before Christmas I found myself at a Radio Shack looking for jumper wires to go with an Arduino/breadboard kit I bought my daughter for Christmas. (A mix up with my wife's Amazon order left us suddenly without jumpers. Desperate times, desperate measures.) What a sad place. I ended up with some crappy jumpers that cost 2x more than the good ones we wanted from Amazon. The component section of RS is a joke. They used to be my go to in college (early 90s) when I needed components for a project. Now they are just trash. I left there Christmas Eve thankful I had some jumpers but they have now joined Walmart on my list of places I will only go if I am truly desperate and have exhausted all other options.
ssharp 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was building an electronics project last year and found it to be very helpful to go to my local RadioShack and just browse the components. Although they didn't have a huge selection and the employees knew nothing about any of it, any selection is greater than the selection anywhere else. For people who don't live in a big city, many don't have access to electronic components offline. You can get stuff on Amazon and SparkFun, with much more selection, but sometimes it's nicer to just browse in person, even if it's tucked away in the back corner.
zackmorris 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm late to the game on this but Radio Shack has one thing the rest of us don't, and that's access to capital. I think they should sell the company to their employees and form a collective with borrowing power in order to fund some of the more compelling technologies that are sorely needed today like rooftop wifi meshnets or burner wimax cell phones that can be used to tether laptops for free. There are so many crowdfunded projects that would benefit from a technology co-op taking the place of institutional investors.

Then go back to their roots as a local store that keeps certain niche products in stock. For example, when I need parts from microchip.com, I should be able to have them sent to my local Radio Shack and pick them up the next day (if they aren't already there). So basically their business model would be to be a local subsidiary of amazon.com that specializes in up and coming technology. The information about whos buying what and what they are building could be more valuable than sales.

I guess to summarize they would be a farmers market for technology, where people could buy shelf space and showcase their creations, which as far as I can tell doesnt exist in most cities. We came close where I live during the Great Recession when big box stores were closing like crazy and the space was converted to bazaars. Unfortunately there were a lot more nicknacks than crafts because nobody had any money to buy anything. It would have been so awesome to be able to buy things like solar panels or hydroponics garden kits but usually wed spend our money on a chair or whatever.

bythe4mile 3 days ago 3 replies      
With the maker movement picking up, I almost feel that RadioShack could have done so much more in the hobbyist electronics market. They could have had Arduino kits and additions, 3D printers, drone parts etc, instead of just the go to store for cables.

I can almost see the RadioShack of the bygone days that hosted electronic clubs which could have had a comeback.

funkdobiest 3 days ago 2 replies      
Last time I was in RadioShack was in the 90's in Washington DC, and I went there for a connector, and there were literally 20 people in line all buying minutes for cell phones, with only one person in the store. I thought this was some sort of hidden camera reality/joke tv show. I just put the item down and left.
moron4hire 4 days ago 0 replies      
Last time I was at a Radio Shack, I was just starting to learn electronics. I bought parts to build a battery-powered guitar amplifier: LM386 IC, a small loud speaker, a handful of capacitors and resistors, a roll of wire, a project enclosure, a couple of potentiometers, knobs for them, and a switch. Just the sort of stuff one would expect to find at a Radio Shack (though, increasingly, cannot find). The store manager checked me out and made some crack about, "what are you making? Some kind of bomb?"

This was around the time that the city of Boston decided to go completely nutso and assume everything that had a wire sticking out of it was a bomb, find the people who made it, and then destroy their lives for "making a bomb hoax", regardless of what the item actually was. I had a flash of an image in my head of some soccer mom walking by the store in the mall, hearing the "bomb" quip, and calling the cops to send in the SWAT team.

I didn't expect the manager to know that speakers and amplifier chips don't go in a bomb. I mean, he was a manager at a Radio Shack, we're not talking about the cream of the crop here. But I did expect him to have a little tact and not make the sort of stupid jokes that our trigger-happy, security-theater-conscious society has demonstrated a gleeful willingness to destroy lives over.

tommccabe 3 days ago 1 reply      
How soon until Amazon buys the entire chain in order to get a distribution presence across the country?
whoopdedo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone is thinking about the consumer retail service of Radio Shack. But there's a lot of small contractors who basically use them as an outsourced inventory. Phone techs, alarm and AV installers, three out of five times I'm going to see Radio Shack connectors and resistors in their tool kit. I imagine the reason most stores keep those parts is not for amateurs but professionals who don't want to have to wait for UPS and deal with an impatient client.

That must be a business opportunity. If a Radio Shack store near you closes, stock up on F connectors, solder, and the most common resistor sizes then call around to contractors letting them know you can supply parts on demand.

analog31 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the proliferation of component types, even for hobbyists, would just be overwhelming for a brick and mortar store. As a kid, I shopped at Radio Shack all the time. I designed things around the parts that I knew they had, but it was still a pretty small selection.

When I got my first Digi-Key catalog (remember when it was about 1/4 inch thick?) I was just astounded by the variety of parts that I had no idea even existed, such as interesting IC's. Jameco and Mouser each had their own spin on what goodies I might like to have.

So I wonder if brick-and-mortar hobbyist electronics parts really still makes sense in this day and age.

joshstrange 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know a lot of people here will defend RS for selling phones/plans because "They had to" but it marked the LAST time I set foot in a RS when I went to buy some parts I needed and they tried to sell me a Voyager because "It was better than an iPhone" (Verizon's "iPhone" they released soon after the iPhone released). From that moment on I have just ordered what I wanted online.

That coupled with the fact that they stopped staffing with people who knew anything at all and instead staffed them with people who could sell more phones.

pkaye 3 days ago 0 replies      
It was mentioned by someone here or on Reddit previously that there is a lot of financial bets going on on whether RadioShack survives or not. In many cases in the past those who are betting that they survive have given RadioShack a lifeline in terms of loans and financing in order for them to survive so that the investors win their bets. I'm sure this is still going on still and it is no longer a question of fundamentals for RadioShack and rather a high stakes power game in the financial markets.
gregd 3 days ago 1 reply      
RadioShack could make a comeback if the Heathkit resurgence ever comes to fruition: http://www.heathkit.com/

They should partner with them!

anigbrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nearly three years of losses and sales at their lowest levels in decades had forced the electronics chain to turn to debt investors for financial lifelines to stay in business. Objections from some of those same lenders prevented the company from closing hundreds of stores it felt it needed to shut down to stay afloat.

Sounds like they want to asset-strip the business and only lent money in order to have more leverage than they would get by purchasing equity on the open market.

jakejake 3 days ago 0 replies      
This kinda sucks because, even though Radio Shack has always sold kinda cheap quality components, there were always there when you needed an adapter or plug or cable immediately.

It seems like there are a lot of good ideas here about what market radio shack can go after, from the 3D maker crowd, to boutique electronics, etc. I think it would take quite a visionary high up in the RS corporation to make that happen, but it would be cool.

aceperry 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a shame. RS doesn't really have much anymore in the way of electronics components, but they have some parts which cater to the arduino/maker community which helps when in a pinch. I really missed being able to get just about any electronic component when I moved from the southbay to SF. RS is now the only place where I could get the bare essentials in San Francisco.
brudgers 3 days ago 1 reply      
If I were CEO, I'd become the Linux Store to compete with the Apple Stores and the Windows Stores -- there are some of those aren't there? There is a market for main-stream Linux and there's no retail presence.

Going further Radio-Shack has a computer brand, "TRS". Get some low-end white-box laptops, slap Ubuntu on them and hire a few one-eyed-man-in-the-land-of-the-blind Linux "gurus" and have at it. It's the modern analogue of HeathKit but with a more fundamentally useful demographic.

Their real-estate holdings are a match for computer shops - second and third tier retail space with small footprints. Apple has validated the idea that computer shops are viable...it's not just the Apple branding that makes them work, it's also the fact that if you're looking for a computer, you're not in a place with most of its floor space devoted to televisions.

The other big change is that smartphones and tablets have proved that operating systems are not that important to users. A lot of people are fine with an old version of Android rather than something more polished...never mind the Kindle's success...or all the variation between website widgets and app interfaces . People have been exposed to a lot of variation, and have learned adaptation techniques. A computer doesn't need to look like Windows or OSX to keep people from freaking out.

RadioShack has the experience in high-touch sales and the infrastructure to pull it off. All that's needed is the will.

claystu 3 days ago 0 replies      
The best part about this thread are all the recommendations for websites to replace RadioShack.
janesvilleseo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Late to the party, but it may be interesting if Best Buy buys them and turns them all into their Best Buy Mobile stores.

RS already sells a ton of cell phones. Their locations are set up well for this, and the staff already trained to sell them.

drum 3 days ago 0 replies      
RadioShack sounds like an incredible opportunity for a blue chip software company wanting to get into hardware with a brick and mortar presence. Thousands of retail locations ready to go, all across the US has to be worth something to somebody.
nickysielicki 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wanted to get a Beagle Bone Black over the holidays for some project. Didn't want to wait the 2 days for amazon, I wanted it that same day.

They wanted $100... So I got mine off of amazon for $54. Nuff said.

api 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is very sad. Radio Shack was my toy store as a kid, and bears some of the blame for making me who/what I am today.
harmonicon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Urh, anyone think Amazon might buy them? It would be nice for Amazon to have a physical store to demo Fire products.
pnathan 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you live near Seattle, I recommend Vetco on the Eastside. It's what RadioShack should be.
smackfu 4 days ago 2 replies      
What happens to the franchise stores when the parent company goes bankrupt?
zwieback 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's about time - the RadioShack I grew up with died years ago.
kaa2102 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be sad to see my go-to electronics DIY-spot go away.
shams93 3 days ago 0 replies      
time to grab an arduino for like $10 just before the local one closes its doors lmfao
aaronem 3 days ago 0 replies      
The clearance sales will be fun.
ck2 4 days ago 0 replies      
I still miss Heathkit

Radio Shack not so much in the age of the internet.

dlss 3 days ago 0 replies      
farewell old friend
dewitt 3 days ago 8 replies      
Apologies about the link to a restricted site. I didn't notice it since I landed on the article via a search.

Out of curiosity, since several comments here complained about the paywall ("paywalls are nsfl"), and an equal number or more on HN run adblockers and/or openly dislike ads in general (the whole "you are the product" meme), how do you think news sites should monetize?

Seems like newspapers still add value in our lives (I know the WSJ does for me), but if they don't find a way to make money, either through paid subscriptions or advertisements, they'll be out of business just as fast as RadioShack.

ben174 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business


debacle 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can we not link to stories behind the WSJ paywall?
       cached 19 January 2015 16:11:03 GMT