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FCC Chairman: This Is How We Will Ensure Net Neutrality
points by Libertatea  12 hours ago   383 comments top 43
mikegioia 12 hours ago 9 replies      

    Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest    open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable,    bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and     throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully     applyfor the first time everthose bright-line rules to mobile     broadband. My proposal assures the rights of internet users to go    where they want, when they want, and the rights of innovators to     introduce new products without asking anyones permission.
I can't believe I'm reading those words!

legutierr 12 hours ago 3 replies      

  I personally learned the importance of open networks the   hard way. In the mid-1980s I was president of a startup,   NABU: The Home Computer Network. My company was using new   technology to deliver high-speed data to home computers   over cable television lines....But NABU went broke while   AOL became very successful....While delivering better   service, NABU had to depend on cable television operators   granting access to their systems....The phone network was   open whereas the cable networks were closed. End of story."
A person can't go through an experience like this without having it fundamentally affect their worldview. I wonder why, with all of the coverage the lead-up to this decision has gotten, I have not read this story before.

notdonspaulding 11 hours ago 4 replies      

    The internet wouldnt have emerged as it did, for instance,    if the FCC hadnt mandated open access for network equipment    in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone    from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. 
By the 1960s AT&T was a well-established government-sanctioned monopoly [0]. It's a bold claim that says we wouldn't have gotten an internet without FCC regulation of AT&T. An easier conclusion to draw is that we wouldn't have needed an FCC if we hadn't given Ma Bell a pass on being a monopoly for the previous 5 decades and instead focused on policies that encourage innovation and investment at the local level.

Yes, the last-mile is a natural monopoly, but there's a wide gulf of possible solutions between "Let AT&T kill all competitors" as they have been for the last century and "Have the FCC regulate competition into existence" as they did in 1996 [1]. Neither of those extremes worked, and to the extent that this policy seems to understand that, it looks like a good outcome. The line about "no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling" is especially promising in this regard.

However, the proof is in the pudding, and I think we have yet to see an FCC that is truly effective in inspiring local broadband competition through regulatory policies.

[0]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsbury_Commitment

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_Act_of_1996

nostromo 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Apparently I'm in the minority here, but I have some concerns.

1) The problem this fixes is largely non-existent today. The threat of fast and slow-lanes is one I've yet to experience.

2) Opening the door for more internet regulation seems risky. At first, things may go swimmingly, but I suspect regulatory capture will creep up on this industry, just as it has so many others. You may trust Obama and the current FCC head, but if and when the next Nixon comes to power, will you be as comfortable with his appointee?

3) The language "lawful content and services" seems like the kind of opening that could be the death of services like Bit Torrent or Tor.

4) Holding up the old telephonic lines as having been improved by regulation seems specious. In fact, the telephone system has been frozen in amber for decades. Perhaps overregulation is part of the reason we get our high-speed internet via the much less regulated cable lines and not phone lines.

evanb 12 hours ago 9 replies      
I violated Responsible Reading Of The Internet Rule #1 and accidentally looked at the comments. I am having a hard time reconciling the vehement anti-net-neutrality anti-government hair-on-fire screaming there with the reasoned discussion and general attitude here---I would have thought the majority of readers of Wired would be of similar mind to HN readers.
cjslep 12 hours ago 2 replies      
So as someone who has been lightly following the debate, and is not familiar with the FCC's process, what are the next steps to actually start enforcing mobile and landline broadband as Title II? I also wonder how long it will take for the reclassification to become enforceable, and how long the existing companies will have to "become compliant".
shortformblog 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The comments on this post are some of the most depressing things I've ever read in response to a regulatory decision. References to Tom Wheeler being a Nazi. Someone calling the plan "Obama-fi." A user who says this:

> tom wheeler, seriously, it would be a great thing if you and everyone like you contracted ebola and died a horrible death.

This is like giving the entire U.S. population free pizza for a year, and half the population complaining because there's cheese on it.

Eric_WVGG 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The New Yorker, last May: Obamas Bad Pick: A Former Lobbyist at the F.C.C. http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/obamas-bad-pick-a...

Rewarding campaign contributors is par for the course in Washington, of course. Usually, though, the prizes are ambassadorships or appointments to obscure boards rather than the chairmanship of a big federal regulatory agency. Thats another thing that makes Wheelers appointment look like just the sort of Washington inside job that Obama used to decry as a candidate. [] Perhaps the best that can be said about his nomination is that, assuming hes confirmed, hell have an incentive to demonstrate that he isnt a patsy for the companies he used to lobby for.

pmontra 12 hours ago 4 replies      
No last mile unbundling: does it mean that every operator has to deploy its own cable from street to home?
ArtDev 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Obama deserves some credit for pushing and supporting Wheeler on this!
gdne 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> The proposal I present to the commission will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future, for all Americans.

I really wish they would acknowledge that this type of decision isn't just "for Americans". Pretty much the entire world was watching to see how they were going to handle it.

pnathan 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, I believe this kicks off the biggest lobbying effort seen in a long time to get this to not happen. I certainly hope that the US internet gets Title II.
kordless 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This thread is old, and has tons of comments. I searched for "paid prioritization" to see if anyone else had the thought I just did about what may be happening here. I don't believe anyone has yet, so either I'm wrong about my assertion or I'm the first to post. :)

> These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization

'Prioritize' means arranging things in order of their relative importance. Paid prioritization means arranging delivery of goods (Internet services for example) by order of the relative amount you charge for things that are important to you. Revenue, for example. Or no revenue, more specifically.

My gut says that free Internet should be a basic human right. Period. Nobody should be able to charge for it. I'm not sure how in the hell we're going to put that into practice though. I'm thinking about it.

As for compute services, well, those aren't free to run. And those compute jobs require bandwidth to complete. Should those be free? I think not. Should someone be allowed to use their 'free' allowance of Internet when it takes away from the compute services interconnects? No.

I could be off on a wrong tangent, so I'll just stop now.

delinka 7 hours ago 0 replies      
ArsTechnica's article[0] mentions this:

"To preserve incentives for broadband operators to invest in their networks, my proposal will modernize Title II, tailoring it for the 21st century..."

This concerns me. What kinds of changes are coming to Title II?

0 - http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/02/why-the-ex-cable-lob...

jonny_eh 12 hours ago 2 replies      
"there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling"


dantheman 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This looks much better than what I feared. I'm glad they're just not regulating it under Title II, but are modernizing it:

   For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling.

karatekidd32v 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This is all pretty great. For the first time in a while I feel optimistic about the future of the open internet. My only concern is a small detail: "These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services."

The specification of 'lawful content and services' seems a bit ominous to me. Does this imply there may be ways to monitor/limit/restrict internet traffic? To use his example, would this language be used to describe the open phone network?

cheald 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So, will this make it illegal for GoGo to block streaming video sites on airplanes during domestic flights?

200 people trying to stream Netflix over a satellite downlink? That should be a riot.

jalopy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I read this as beneficial to the wireless data carriers. Toward the bottom:

  "there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling"
Meaning no more MVNOs and no more competition other than the "big 4". Read the arstech article here: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/06/we-dont-need-net-... to see how unbundling would have been best for the consumer; without it, looks like the wireless co's win big actually.

jrochkind1 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> The internet wouldnt have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadnt mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open.

DAMN right.

nickthemagicman 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Why are libertarians so pro- free market when this is a perfect example of how the 'unregulated free market' has no problem manipulating in the name of greed and control at the expense of consumers?

This seems to be strong evidence that government is better at keeping trade free than an 'unregulated free market'?

zirkonit 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Holy shit. We did it.
SandroG 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you, Tom Wheeler. Today is a good day for the Internet.
toast0 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"For example, there will be no rate regulation, no tariffs, no last-mile unbundling."

No last-mile unbundling means instead of fostering better service through competition, we're attempting to foster better service through regulation.

someITguyWI 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Careful here boys and girls. Words matter, and the word to focus on in his statement is "lawful" content and services. What exactly is defined as lawful? Is porn lawful? What about torrents to pirated software? What about stuff the government just doesn't like. This same paragraph could be read in China and be just as accurate, but China has a very different definition of "lawful content and services".
gxs 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think I've ever cussed on my HN account, but unfuckingbelievable.

I'm in complete and utter awe that they listened to the people and not the rich corporations for once.

marssaxman 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is the first time in my life that I've been happy about and excited by news of government action concerning the Internet.
wnevets 11 hours ago 3 replies      
> ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.

Too bad the regulation isnt simply this one line of text without the "lawful" caveat

grecy 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I like how many times he says "Congress gave us the power to make this decision".

Kind of like he's daring them to try and stop him.

sparaker 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Good to see someone make an effort in this regard.
kevinchen 11 hours ago 1 reply      
> my proposal includes a general conduct rule that can be used to stop new and novel threats to the internet. This means the action we take will be strong enough and flexible enough not only to deal with the realities of today, but also to establish ground rules for the as yet unimagined.

What does that mean? Sounds like a euphemism for an Internet kill switch?

bmoresbest55 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very nice but I hope that it will be able to withstand the impending lawsuits by the ISPs. One can only hope.
forgotAgain 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As I'm writing this the stock market is having the opposite take on this than I Would have expected. Netflix is down while the providers (ATT, Verizon, Comcast) are up.

Is there something going on here that's not obvious?

datashovel 9 hours ago 0 replies      
In general I think this is a sign that many people in D.C. actually do want to do the right thing, but have (for too long) let the wrong people tell them what the right thing is.
andrewrice 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is usage-based internet billing a possibility now (e.g., $0.05 per gigabyte of data), just as electric companies charge per kilowatt-hour?
markthethomas 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really encouraging. Having trouble not assuming it'll get torn down by 'interested parties', though.
chiph 12 hours ago 3 replies      
What does the phrase "bright-line rules" mean?
my3681 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This, to me, is one of the most interesting topics of our time, and I find it fascinating the similarities (both philosophically and economically) to that of the railroads at the turn of the 20th century.

Much like net neutrality is the topic of the FCC, cargo neutrality on rail lines was the topic of the ICC [1] in their day. The problem of the early 1900s began with a bounty of riches in the highly competitive American Railway sector. Merchants using the railways were demanding "rebates" from railway companies for large shipments threatening to take business elsewhere and driving their shipping costs down. Of course, the same leverage was not available to smaller shippers, making their rates much higher and forcing them to raise the prices of their goods. The system was out of balance.

In 1903, congress and President Theodore Roosevelt, passed the Elkins Act [2], which eliminated rebates, but had the unfortunate side-effect of increasing price collusion between shippers and the railroads. The Elkins act did not establish a fixed rate, leaving interests to make deals that, again, were disadvantageous for smaller businesses. The only metric of discrimination was the diverting from a fixed railway schedule [3].

To correct the problems of the Elkins Act, the Hepburn Act was passed in 1906 greatly expanding the power of the ICC to regulate the Railroad Industry. The result was fixed prices on shipping deemed "just and reasonable" by the ICC, increased penalties for non-compliance, and an open and standard accounting system for the railroad companies. (As an aside, the depreciation of railway companies contributed to the Panic of 1907. A good word on that here: [4])

If all this back and forth sounds familiar, it is because we are facing the same problem today shipping bits that we were shipping coal and shirts all those years ago. The idea of prioritized delivery is not new or novel, but was dealt with before Netflix and Verizon began suing one another. What interests me is whether we will see legislation similar to the Elkins and Hepburn act for digital goods and services. I doubt very seriously that we will get fixed $/(Mbps) or $/GB mandates from the FCC, but already we are seeing definitions being made and lines being drawn [5]. There is already language from Wheeler about "responsibility to the 20 percent [without 25down/3up]", just as there was strong language from Roosevelt about the railway industries.

2015 will be an interesting year indeed.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Commerce_Commission[2] http://www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org/Learn-About-TR/TR-Enc...[3] http://books.google.com/books?id=g-pCAAAAIAAJ&dq=elkins%20ac...[4] http://books.google.com/books?id=R3koAAAAYAAJ&hl=en[5] http://www.fiercetelecom.com/story/broadband-now-defined-25-...

beauzero 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The "thoughts and feelings" are in the right direction...now let's wait for the actual proposal.
xophe 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Tom Wheeler for president
geekamongus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The comments on the article make me really, really sad.
innguest 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Read the history of the FCC, folks. You're being lead on like sheeple. "I can't believe how good this sounds". No kidding.
Randgalt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Make a deal with the Devil and you'll only get burned. The FCC regulating the internet, what could go wrong?
CoreCLR is now open source
points by xyziemba  1 day ago   319 comments top 27
fsloth 1 day ago 2 replies      
De-Ballmerization and Microsoft is oozing delicious developer love. What the hell happened. It's like Skeletor became He-Mans best buddy all of a sudden and started helping everyone.

I'm thrilled. The MS tooling is really, really good and the only thing stopping me from committing to the stack fully has been it's lack of open sourceness (vendor lock in is still feasible but getting less of an issue).

Edit: Pardon the fanboyism but I've tried a set of feasible Non-MS language options for my particular domain and F# in Visual Studio beats for me, my particular use case and coding style Scala, Clojure, Ruby, Python, Haskell, "browser technologies"...

Nelkins 1 day ago 10 replies      
I would be curious to see the effects of completely open-sourcing Windows. Businesses would continue to use it, because it's Microsoft and they want enterprise support. I think it would get even more love than it already does from the development community. Piracy of Windows is already rampant, so they're not really in a worse position from that (plus I think that most people who can pay for Windows do so already). Foreign governments who are concerned about NSA backdoors would have their fears allayed. Is there any way it could seriously damage their business model?
pmontra 1 day ago 7 replies      
I wonder how this strategy is going to affect the bottom line of Microsoft. People writing with CLR languages are deploying web apps mainly (or only) to Windows now. They're going to have an option to deploy to Linux soon. This means less revenues from OS and DB licenses, so it looks bad. Do they expect a large number of people leaving Java, Node, Python, Ruby and picking up C# because of the Linux deploys? Those people would probably have to buy Windows and VisualStudio licenses to code in C# in a VM or just ditch Macs for PCs. More desktop licenses could make up for lost server ones but if I googled well a server costs more than a desktop. Or maybe they're playing a longer game: open source as much as they can, hope some network effect builds up, find out how to profit from it. In the medium term they might be losing money tough. Am I missing something obvious?
felixrieseberg 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This post is a few hours old, but I just want to put it out there: We're hiring OPEN SOURCE ENGINEERS. I'm one and our job is awesome[1]. Please get in touch with me if you're interested[2].

[1]: http://instagram.com/p/yqQe0bK3Bq/[2]: felix.rieseberg@microsoft.com

stevecalifornia 1 day ago 3 replies      
I am really interested to see what happens once ASP.Net is running on Linux. C# and Visual Studio are fantastic, mature tools and I think a lot of developers would enjoy using them whereas they might be hesitant at the moment due to OS lock-in on the code they are writing.
josteink 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Noteworthy from the source: Microsoft does NOT use (unmergable) SLN-files for their projects, but instead scripts-msbuild invocations against specific projects:



I guess this explains why they saw no need to fix the somewhat broken SLN file-format in the first place, but actually did something about project-files. They don't share their customers pain on this point.

benreic 1 day ago 6 replies      
Quick link to what I think is the most interesting class in the CLR:


sz4kerto 1 day ago 2 replies      
Interesting commit:


"This change fixes a potential problem in unwinding on Linux"

dkarapetyan 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really like the new Microsoft. Ballmer was really trying to run the company into the ground.
phkahler 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's actually Free Software, not just open source. MIT license.
j_baker 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is on github. Does this mean that MS is abandoning CodePlex?
Touche 1 day ago 2 replies      
And they have Issues and Pull Requests turned on.
ixtli 1 day ago 1 reply      
Even more reason to port all of your C/C++ code to CMake. I'm excited to see upstream contribution from MS.
NicoJuicy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This has all been set in motion during Ballmer.. Not from Ballmer himselve, but from inside out ( a lot of good employees there).

Now one of the guys pushing it, is CEO of Microsoft and we are finally seeing a (real) difference.. I joined the MS community a long time ago and this is (again) a heart warming addition!

Good job Microsoft, you're a bit late to the party. But no doubt, the ROI will show sooner or later! ;-)

saosebastiao 1 day ago 2 replies      
So I'm still a little fuzzy as to what this means. Is this basically the same thing that Mono is trying to provide? Would it now be possible to have the F# front end link to the CoreCLR backend on Linux?
camkego 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Mixed mode assemblies on Linux??

Has anyone heard or seen whether MSFT is planning to support this?

Halienja 12 hours ago 0 replies      
So I am not sure what this means to the end user but as another reader pointed out, Google and other companies in future could use .Net/C# as part of their mobile architecture. You could host .net sites on OSX or Linux, test them on a Mac. What else?
yellowapple 1 day ago 1 reply      
MIT-licensed, even.
josh2600 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made a snapshot of a CentOS 6 box with CoreCLR cloned if anyone wants to play with it: https://www.terminal.com/snapshot/f34341a1b529a9141529cda006...

Note: You'll need a terminal account to boot it, but it only takes 10 seconds to come online once you do that.

cm2187 1 day ago 2 replies      
Should we expect more zero days against .net as a short term effect of the source code becoming available?
giancarlostoro 1 day ago 5 replies      
I wonder how this would aid projects such as IronPython and IronRuby if at all, just out of curiosity. My only dream is that they eventually have VS on Linux.
frik 1 day ago 5 replies      
Next step, WinForms
jader201 1 day ago 0 replies      
lukasm 1 day ago 3 replies      
bJGVygG7MQVF8c 1 day ago 0 replies      
_random_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
If they could add native C#(+HTML5) support to Spartan now that would be amazing...
vinceyuan 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Great, but it's too late. .NET will still be the Windows-only technology. (I do know Mono) .NET becomes too big and too complex. I don't think it's easy to make it cross-platform.
Google Is Developing Its Own Uber Competitor
points by geoffwoo  2 days ago   276 comments top 59
dojomouse 2 days ago 3 replies      
So much criticism of Google! My question: Why on earth would Google want to cede any significant chunk of the personal transport value stream to Uber - or acquire them at a $40Bil+ valuation - when the main (only?) semi-uniquely valuable thing Uber have (a large network of drivers) is worth approximately zero dollars in a self-driving vehicle scenario. Uber are valuable and effective in a human-driven vehicle model because they have achieved critical mass in the pool of human drivers on their network, and are in a position to grow that pool. In a self driving vehicle model critical mass of vehicles/drivers is available to anyone with a decent line of credit.
softdev12 2 days ago 10 replies      
I'm glad that the article highlighted how valuable the mapping information is that Google collects. While Uber probably could still run its current operations without Google map data, there is a much smaller probability that they would be able to run a self-driving car service without a highly accurate mapping product. And to build a mapping product is really difficult and expensive. I was surprised when Google starting putting money into mapping the streets because it's a giant effort with major barriers to entry. Nokia bought a company called Navteq that was the clear leader (and basically a monopolist) in driving the streets and collecting the data (they originally supplied data to Google Maps). Navteq supplemented the data with satellite images and other sources, but the roads change often enough that you need people driving on the streets.

So, Uber really needs to start thinking about the mapping aspect. Perhaps they can incent their current drivers to start reporting back all the street info as they pick up their passengers. Of course, this would bring up problems if the drivers eventually realize that this data could be used to replace them. It would be interesting to see uber cars with Google StreetView style cameras on their hoods.

hosay123 2 days ago 5 replies      
My inner paranoid finds this interesting from the perspective of Google entering yet another domain where they have high accuracy data on the present/future whereabouts and private concerns of a large number of people.. add it to the hundred other properties they maintain that appear to have no direct business value other than capturing masses of sensitive data that was previously nicely decentralized and private.

Can't book a flight (ITA), order a taxi (this), book a hotel or chat with a friend (Gmail), or pay for dinner (Wallet) without generating an activity log with a single company.

Even if (and perhaps even probably) Google weren't doing this intentionally, they've already demonstrated through failing to encrypt their inter-DC connections how they're becoming a massive single point of failure (remember Snowden showed us the NSA were tapping Google's internal network already). Whether the end result is an intelligence service tap, or some legislative measure affecting the company done in the open, I'll simply never be comfortable with one company concentrating so much personal data affecting so many people.

fidotron 2 days ago 2 replies      
Uber have struck me before as a bigger potential headache for Google than even Facebook were/are, and I suspect this is all an effort to acquire them and drive the price down.

There is something about the automated dispatch at giant scale business which overlaps with the search as interface idea. "Get me to [wherever]" is a natural extension of what you might do after searching. Furthermore, the act of finding a driver is itself a search. Feed the driver information back into search and it gets entertaining, with queries like "What are the restaurants right now with 80% rating, tables available and will cost me less than $20 to get to?" That's a query you can only answer with the driver and price data. As such Uber have the hard bit and can grow the rest, Google face a move into a physical world full of people, which is pretty much their Achilles heel.

Vermeulen 2 days ago 2 replies      
Google seems unable to have a partner without eventually entering their market and becoming enemies. Apple before Android, Twitter before Google+ - I guess it's inevitable with how many different industries Google tries to tackle. I think if this service is entirely defined by autonomous vehicles it's really a complete different service than Uber. No more driver ratings or passenger ratings, all the same car type, and it's own vast legal challenges
bcantrill 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is not at all a surprise, and I fully expect Amazon to also ultimately enter this space. (I have no insider knowledge of either company.) It's amazing to me how many people think that Uber is somehow building a deep moat when these other companies (Google, Amazon, etc.) have a much deeper connection with their customers -- to say nothing of the data that have collected. Given perfect rider competition and (especially) perfect driver competition, how does the advantage not lie with the established company and brand? Given Uber's nose-bleed valuation, I suspect that they may become the Webvan-esque poster child of this bubble: visionary, but ultimately a ludicrous valuation and absurd misallocation of capital that was obvious to all only in retrospect.
k-mcgrady 2 days ago 5 replies      
If Google competes directly with a company they are invested in via GV they're going to really damage the reputation of GV. Why would you accept investment from them if they're going to get access to your private info and then turn around and screw you.
billsimpson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Many people here are suggesting that Google views Uber as a threat or a competitor. My take is that (a) Google wants to follow through on its self-driving car experiment, (b) public transportation would be a natural fit this product, and (c) Google doesn't want to be reliant on Uber, Lyft, or any other middleman for introducing self-driving car to the word. Initially, it will be a tightly-controlled roll-out that will eliminate as many variables and risk factors as possible.

This is their way of getting a head start in that direction, and smoothing the transition of the technology to partners like Uber down the road.

ajju 2 days ago 2 replies      
Google is the only company with a potential edge over Uber right now. The point in time at which self-driving cars are usable by the the public is the only visible inflection point where Uber's hegemony is truly threatened.

(edit) The article suggest self driving cars, and by extension Google's ridesharing service won't be ready for 2-5 more years.

xivzgrev 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm really surprised. G ventures puts ton of money into uber, uber makes a huge pre order for google cars, uber gets put into google maps.

And now this. I guess google is like "well we got the hard part, self driving cars. Why not just go after this ourselves?"

What is the thing google really wants? Is it more valuable to try to directly monetize all this vehicle traffic, or be the platform every else uses? Google could set up rev share, get access to all the vehicle data (even if they don't use google maps), and set google as default software in the car web experience.

It seems greedy, arrogant, and unaligned with their core ways of making money. They're trying to be vertically integrated player which can work if you control all supply but once Google introduces the tech how long is it going to take for a rival to copy, parents aside?

relaxatorium 2 days ago 1 reply      
They've well and truly inherited the 90s Microsoft banner of being the tech company that wants to be in every line of business at all times.
rottyguy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one thinking a targeted convergence with driverless cars down the road (no pun intended)? Once you remove the largest cost factor (the human), does pricing reduce to $.56/mi (or whatever the Standard Mileage Rate, or derivative thereof, is at the time).

Added with Express to overload deliveries to maximize utility (maybe offer riders a discount if they can make an express stop along the way...)

sushirain 1 day ago 0 replies      
The key words are "long term". I am concerned that these obstacles will not be overcome in "3 to 5 years":

* "Chris Urmson of Google has said that the lidar technology cannot spot potholes or humans, such as a police officer, signaling the car to stop." [1]

* "Another big problem for Google is the current cost of its driverless car, which is reportedly outfitted with a whopping $250,000 in equipment." [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car

[2] http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/01/21/3-reasons-g...

bhaumik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google replied to the Bloomberg article with a cryptic tweet.

"@business We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time."


geoffwoo 2 days ago 8 replies      
Google could cut Uber down hard by pulling Google Maps API access. Ballsiest play Google has ever done if they execute on this. Love it.
rottyguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sure this has been discussed on a different (uber/lyft) thread but being a nyc'er and amazed at the prices of taxi medallions through the years, I'm glad to see this bubble finally popping (prices are still insane mind you)!-- now if we can do the same for the cost of higher education... With google coming into the fray, this can only drop further.


wkcamp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Out of curiosity, are there any companies in previous history that model the approach Google has done thus far, such as expanding into a vast amount of industries and successfully becoming a contender in those?

Anyway, I'm sure Google has enough money to support any failures (this point was made in a previous article about the multi-tool card). But, in the long run, how will Google prevent itself from appearing to look like a monopoly (such as Apple's iPhones in the earlier days)?

haberman 2 days ago 4 replies      
> David Drummond, Googles chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, joined the Uber board of directors in 2013, and has served on it ever since.

Not super related to this story, but I always have to wonder: why do powerful people join boards? What's in it for them? It seems like an awful lot of work, responsibility, and potential for conflict of interest. What do board members get out of it?

don_draper 2 days ago 0 replies      
The very definition of being a victim of their own success
dannymick 1 day ago 3 replies      
You can talk about valuations or Google becoming a cheeky competitor to Uber but there are some deep economic implications. Millions of cab drivers or anyone who drives for a living will be losing their jobs, as a result of this.
kanamekun 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes a lot more sense now why they bought Waze. It wasn't just to snatch it out of the hands of Apple and Facebook to protect the Google Maps franchise. It was to play keepaway from Uber, and prepare for the enteral launch of Google (Autonomous) Car.
andy_ppp 2 days ago 0 replies      
I misread the headline; I actually think that all big companies should attempt to set up their own competitor (with a very small flat team, but resources, users, internal datasets etc.). It would be a big investment but would cement monopoly positions and make it even harder for competitors to gain any sort of traction.

A new search engine from Google written with different goals and views of how things should be done would be very interesting and probably gain a good portion of Bing and Yahoo! Users in the process. This applies to a lot of businesses of course.

An Uber from Google could also be great too but their once clear idea of what they are is getting fragmented and that'll show in the implementation and UX of Google Cabs.

mathattack 2 days ago 1 reply      
I look at this with great anticipation. This will be an enormous reducer of congestion. Driverless cars will remove many of the headaches and hassles of high-density commutes. Imagine being able to pop a beer in the backseat as an automated car drives you home.
obilgic 2 days ago 1 reply      
Google maps has already started showing Uber price estimates when you enter a route
CPLX 2 days ago 1 reply      
Every single time there is a big discussion thread about Uber on HN about half the commentary is about self-driving cars and how various decisions are being made now based on the inevitability of self driving cars. Every time this happens I always wonder why nobody seems to recognize the obvious fact that self driving cars have nothing to do with any of this stuff and won't make economic sense for a company like Uber in any time horizon that it makes business sense to take into account now.
bbody 2 days ago 0 replies      
You didn't read the article did you?
domoarevil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why don't G just _block_ all Uber drivers from utilizing Google Maps, forcing them to an inferior Mapping/Route product, lowering the quality of the Uber experience. (Only Uber'd a few times and I'm sure the drivers had G maps, but I may be wrong, I was surely drunk.)
tkrupicka 2 days ago 0 replies      
This concept seems like the next logical step for Google's push for mapping/autonomous vehicles. I think the most interesting challenge they'll have going forward is dealing with the same union/labor opposition that Uber has had to deal with. If they can push their driverless technology it would really change the landscape of adoption in cities.
jackgavigan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile, Uber is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to build self-driving cars: http://blog.uber.com/carnegie-mellon

HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8987441

comrade1 2 days ago 4 replies      
On the one hand, this is great. Competition and I couldn't wish Google's infinite pockets on a more terrible group of people.

On the other hand, Google has only been successful with search and advertising and are known for terrible customer service. I mean, who are you going to call when your driver rapes you? You'll never be able to talk to a human.

xixixao 2 days ago 1 reply      
I also don't understand how this is news to anyone. The fact that Google wasn't planning on selling its driverless cars but instead provide a service was discussed months ago, including the fact that the way this service would be purchased via a phone. I am especially doubtful Uber's board wouldn't notice this...
miguelrochefort 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there anything special about Uber, other than its brand?

How hard can it be to implement an Uber clone? Like a week?

What's stopping anyone from entering this space? Is it technology? Marketing? Regulation? Trust? A secret sauce?

I'd love to understand.

deepGem 1 day ago 1 reply      
Regarding mapping - one overlooked aspect is the fine grain detail required for driverless cars. For example - current precision is for a road, required precision for driverless cars is for a lane. Not sure how Google can leverage Uber to solve this.
S_A_P 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just think what a cash cow it would be to have google self driving cars run an uber like service...
avodonosov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shuld Facebook be afraid of Google Plus, and Amazon of Google App Engine?

Google wants to be everywhere, but it looks like it doesn't have enough good developers.

I think Uber has chance to overcome Google, even if Google really decided to compete in this area.

IgorPartola 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is the long game here to have self-driving cars everywhere so that the driver can spend more time on their phone and therefore clicking on their ads?
kunle 2 days ago 0 replies      
Imagining a shorter path here would be Google buying Lyft and integrating into maps?
patronagezero 2 days ago 0 replies      
Your very own government sponsored taxi, less city and state control and now with improved tracking and information awareness! Red or blue pill, they'll choke 'em both down with a few sips of progress.
msoad 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google proved that it can do logistic-heavy business with it's Google Express. I'm sure if they do something like Uber, it would be as good as Google Express.
bhartzer 1 day ago 1 reply      
What are the chances that Google's "uber" program will involve self-driving cars?
shinamee 1 day ago 0 replies      
It does actually makes sense since they have all the resources (MAP,CAR,MONEY)
Animats 2 days ago 0 replies      
Google General Services. Whatever you want done, whenever you want it done, Google will find someone to do it.

"We also walk dogs."

rmc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe it will be as good as Google's Facebook compeditor
sparkzilla 2 days ago 1 reply      
Meanwhile Google's core search business is looking increasingly vulnerable.
akurilin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Either way, I will be happy to be driven around by my digital overlords.
zkhalique 1 day ago 0 replies      
How much can Google squeeze its Maps customers without antitrust kicking in? Could they just cut off Uber the same way FB or Twitter or Apple can revoke an app's access to their platform?
cjbenedikt 1 day ago 1 reply      
makes you wonder if Uber disclosed this to Goldman or their clients when raising money???
kumarski 2 days ago 0 replies      
hahahahaha. Good luck google.

Anyone game to take longbets on Google building a successful product internally and scaling it with their traditional approach?

I'm always doubtful.

jbigelow76 2 days ago 0 replies      
Will I have to have a Google+ account to ride?
oimaz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do partners from google ventures have a board seat in Uber. If so, isn't this a conflict, as Google is privy to all the internal strategy at Uber
nakedrobot2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Considering how many people hate Uber, I can't imagine much sympathy being headed in their direction with this news.
BobMarz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad Google Drive is taken.
xacaxulu 1 day ago 0 replies      
joering2 2 days ago 1 reply      
Imagine you wake up Monday morning and your Android tells you that it automatically upgraded (beautyness of default settings) the default Google Map app on your phone, you tap it out of curiosity, and it asks you "would you like the cab downstairs in 5 minutes?"

Oh well; there goes Uber's 50 billion dollars valuation...

FrankenPC 2 days ago 0 replies      
Guber. I like it!
xiaoma 1 day ago 0 replies      
rev_null 2 days ago 0 replies      
inmyunix 2 days ago 1 reply      
this is the least surprising news of the decade.
closetnerd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good god, that'd we way too much power in the hands of a single company. They're awfully close to Googlizing the world. Which I think is theoretically the closest civilization could get to utopia. But I'm not one for utopia.
Join the U.S. Digital Service
points by danso  2 days ago   231 comments top 36
inmygarage 2 days ago 3 replies      
I saw Mikey Dickerson (in the video) speak to a group of ~200 people last summer about the work that he and his team did on healthcare.gov. He was at Google for nearly 8 years and left to run the recovery team for healthcare.gov. Their team is the real deal -- they saved the site in just a few months and now over 6 million people have signed up. Read the Time Magazine story for the full account.

He does not seem like the type of guy that willingly puts up with government b.s. He gets it, and after seeing him speak I believe in him.

When their talk was finished they got a ~5 minute standing ovation and even a few stray tears.

I know it's cheesy but the government simply needs to catch up and I think they are finally ready to try.

I applaud the effort and hope to help out in some way.

joelanman 1 day ago 6 replies      
I work for the UK Government Digital Service - my views don't necessarily represent my employer.

There are lots of comments here around the idea of whether you would work for a government if you disagreed with their political views.

What I love about working on GDS projects is the potential to improve so many people's lives. People often don't have a choice when it comes to interacting with government - it's often a legal requirement, and there's only one way to do it.

So, even if sometimes I may disagree with aspects of policy, the reality is there is going to be a digital service based on it. And I can help a lot of people by being part of making it as simple as possible.

wpietri 2 days ago 6 replies      
I have met some of the 18F folks here in San Francisco, and I have gradually become convinced that there is a lot of substance to this effort. People, apparently including people at the highest levels, recognize that information technology has made enormous leaps in the private sector, and they are serious about helping government catch up.

One of the most interesting bits to me was something said by Todd Park, a former CTO of the US and still a White House advisor. I was, frankly, suspicious that Washington's culture could really accept a lot of the Agile and Lean notions that are commonplace in the high-tech world. But he pointed out, correctly, that waterfall projects are enormously risky. A big reason Lean Startup advocates place such a strong emphasis on frequent small releases is that it helps us reduce risk by finding and fixing problems early. He pointed out that if bureaucrats really want to play it safe, using agile, iterative approaches is exactly what they'll have to do.

I don't know enough about Washington to say if this really will work, but improving government efficiency through smart use of tech strikes me as exactly the kind of thing people from all parties can get behind. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

gyardley 1 day ago 8 replies      
Let's say it's January 2017 and President Bush or Rubio or Paul or Walker is being inaugurated. Does the 'U.S. Digital Service' actually keep getting funded? If it does, do the staff actually want to stay? Will any of them be willing to work on government objectives that might not be in line with their personal politics?

I'll believe this is actually what it claims it is when I see it and its staff persist through a change of political control in the White House. Until then, I'm more than a little skeptical.

tdaltonc 2 days ago 4 replies      
It would be really great to fix the IRS's digital presence. Make TurboTax obsolete. I hate TurboTax.
sloanesturz 1 day ago 3 replies      
I would love to see a program like ROTC -- the government pays for you to get a CS degree and then you work for the Digital Service to start your career.

You end up being 26 with a great education and a solid work experience under your belt. Seems like a win-win!

gm3dmo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked a year on the UK government digital service, they really were trying to do things differently, it was a really great experience with real teams working in a supportive atmosphere. I think the 2 services share some DNA and If you get the opportunity to work at the USDS then you should grab it with both hands.
joshdotsmith 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wish there were something like this akin to the National Guard. If I could serve a weekend a month (or maybe even more, if it were something closer to my civilian skill set), I probably would have opted for this over joining the Army.

Hell, if they did that, I'd probably serve after my time in the Guard is up.

tdaltonc 1 day ago 1 reply      
The US digital Service should also make and maintain a framework that state and local governments can implement. Paying a parking ticket in Los Angeles is a trip to the 90's.
anarchitect 1 day ago 3 replies      
Would anyone from the Government Digital Service [1] in the UK care to comment on this? GDS is a world-class operation which has many smart people using modern technology to solve real problems for UK citizens. Much (all?) of the work is open source [2].

[1] https://gds.blog.gov.uk/about/[2] https://github.com/alphagov

danso 2 days ago 1 reply      
While I've been initially skeptical of the White House's digital efforts because of my assumption that tech development, especially when it comes to public information, will always be handicapped by bureaucracy and politics...the 18F group has been doing some great work, the kind that is not at all a bad standard for private startups to follow...certainly much better than the kind of things that were rolling out in 2009-2010 (such as the overhyped petitions.whitehouse.gov and the first CTO's pushing of Drupal)

The 18F Github contains a lot of interesting work, with reliance on contemporary frameworks and practices (Jekyll seems to be their choice for microsites) https://github.com/18f

I loved 18F's work with overhauling the Federal Register site (https://www.federalregister.gov/)...and even if you think the federal government's data efforts are paltry...then you haven't seen what existed before 2009...which is pretty much nothing. The wide array of data and information that has been machine-readable and public accessible via the Internet is pretty astonishing, and while I doubt that President Obama has made it a point to keep tabs on his IT, whoever has been whispering in his ear has been very effective.

Edit: a cool project I noticed on 18F's github: https://github.com/18f/mirage ...a Django/PostgreSQL project to assist procurement officers in surveying the market for vendors...another 18F repo contains the Chef recipe for its deployment.

ipsin 1 day ago 5 replies      
Two things I wonder about:

1) Is an outfit like the U.S. Digital Service considering people who don't have undergraduate degrees, but have a consistent track record or are a part of established teams?

2) Is the salary roughly comparable with what's available in the private sector? I understand that the government might pay less in return for some of the perks of government work, but how close are they coming these days?

kazagistar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is what worries me:

Right now, the complexity of regulations and procedures is kept in check by the inability for bureaucrats to manually execute them. Full automation might not lead to a simplification of how people interact with the government; it might just result in the ability to add even more regulation, beyond normal human capabilities.

We have a world where bureaucratic complexity means few people can navigate it, but we might just be growing a world where no one can navigate it without paying a lot of money to established software companies to do it for them.

Automation is good, but we shouldn't let it hide the need to simplify.

_cudgel 1 day ago 5 replies      
Does joining the US Digital Service require a clearance, and if so does occasional marijuana consumption automatically disqualify you?
efriese 1 day ago 0 replies      
So what is this? I love the idea of contributing to something like this, but they don't make the process clear. Is this a job? Can I work part time on specific tasks? There are people willing to leave the private sector to do this work, but that's not always an option. They need to find a way to leverage people's spare cycles. They also don't mention anything about security. The skill gap in security is MUCH larger than development. They are missing an opportunity there...
sneak 1 day ago 2 replies      
Remember, y'all: this is the government that brought you PRISM and XKEYSCORE and TAO. This is the government with the department who tortured Manning and is pressuring the UK to illegally interfere with Assange's right to asylum.

Think twice before you provide material aid to the enemy.

mattdeboard 1 day ago 1 reply      
Too bad the VA positions are only open in DC and Boston. I'm a veteran and a software developer. I'd love to be able to help out but I'm in Austin and unwilling to move my family again. Bummer.
netman21 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am of two minds here. On the one hand making the onerous task of complying with government regulations, paying taxes, and receiving benefits is all good. It even has the potential of reducing the overal burden the government imposes on our everyday life. On the other hand, anything that reduces the frustration of dealing with the government puts off the time when there will be fewer government bodies, regulations, and inefficiency. I hope that the smart people employed by US Digital Service ask the question: "Do we really need this?" Before they set about fixing particular inefficiencies.
kalvin 1 day ago 4 replies      
(I've been working on Healthcare.gov for the past year and know some of the people at USDS; I was also YC S11 and appreciate the great parts of startup culture even more now)

PSA: I know it's not easy to tell from the outside, or from a website, but this is the real deal. Things are starting to change; by government standards, at ludicrous speed. The Healthcare.gov crisis really started a useful fire.

Todd Park, Mikey Dickerson, and the team he's building at USDS and the people he's placing into new "digital services" teams at other agencies like the VA-- if you meet them you'll quickly find out why they were superstars at their tech companies.

One important thing to understand is: yes, things really can be vastly improved IRL, not just in theory. It's not that government IT services ("IT") suck because the people responsible for it don't care. They're just in a completely different world, expectations and otherwise, and don't know how much better it could be.

E.g., they don't know there exists a hosting option that is more secure, more reliable, and less risky (and costs 90%/$90M less per year). Or that there exist software people who can build a far better user experience (#1: the worst UX is downtime, #2: product lead needs a) exist, and b) fight for the user on every decision), while still meeting all business requirements (for 80%/$20M less per year).

Some people do know, but they can't do it themselves [0], and they also don't have access to the right people to do it for them; their practical options are Lockheed Martin's "small-business" subsidiary, or ACRONYM's federal IT division.

USDS and 18F are fixing this, and much more. They need your help. I'm not sure what's public, but the progress is incredible. It's still going to take a long time. Most of all it's going to take more software engineers, designers, PMs, etc. The tech gap between Silicon Valley and DC is unbelievable until you've experienced it. Go east! (Or west [1])

It's definitely frustrating to work for/with the government (not sure how it compares to other institutions that provide many real-world services to a diverse 300+ million population), but if you're put in a position where you can actually change things, the impact is enormous. And now you can do that as a software engineer/technologist with no existing clue about government, because USDS/18F has leverage and the ability to place you where you can make that impact. [2]

The federal government deeply impacts all of our lives [3] and whether you think it should do more or less, there's no reason for what exists to be so incredibly inefficient and customer-unfriendly, especially when there's a huge pool of tech people with the skills needed to fix it, and now, a pipeline that can get them (you!) to the right place. Please apply!

(There's also small teams of engineers [4] on the inside tackling this problem, if you prefer that (less direct, but avoids gov. pay being capped at ~$150k or so and the strict background checks.) Contact me if you want more details.)


[0] They're also too busy trying to keep their heads above water in a bureaucratic system that seems to function only because many of the people in it work so hard, but I digress.

[1] AFAIK, USDS is based in DC (and I think has positions in Boston), 18F is mostly in SF (Civic Center) and DC, with a few remote people around the US.

[2] Imagine if you could direct and organize a team of people to rescue expanded healthcare coverage in the US (oops, Mikey did that already)

Imagine if you could help 22 million veterans get the care they deserve on time, instead of hundreds of days late

Imagine if you could help "fix" the IRS with auto-prepped tax returns (definitely seems like the hardest one on this list-- but it's also one that everyone wants to see happen. And yes it's a policy problem, but it's also a technical problem-- imagine policymakers having to trust the system that resulted in the original healthcare.gov. And informed engineering opinions have much more weight than you'd imagine.)

[3] Yes I know there's a whole world outside of the US, especially on the Internet :)

[4] "startups" and "small businesses" both have connotations on HN that I'm trying to avoid...

jrochkind1 1 day ago 1 reply      
But does it require a drug test?
kzahel 1 day ago 2 replies      
I would seriously consider joining as a developer. If it didn't mean moving to DC. I couldn't determine if there were any remote opportunities or positions in the Bay Area.
canterburry 1 day ago 1 reply      
While I do not doubt the intentions are honest and government is waking up to the new reality of digital, until the new CTO has any kind of budgetary powers...this is just a dream.
zedpm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any specifics anywhere regarding the positions, desired skill sets, or anything other than generic descriptions? I've seen a few people comment here about positions being in D.C., but I can't find any details like that.
karmacondon 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just find the name "U.S. Digital Service" to be god damn inspirational. It reminds me of Kennedy creating the Peace Corps. "Ask not what your country can do for you" and all that. I understand that in reality this is essentially a rebranding of the traditional government job, but it seems like it could be so much more.

I know that during the Healthcare.gov debacle, many people with software experience legitimately wanted to help. We look around at our communities, cities and states and see problems that could be fixed and software that's dying to use common sense modern best practices. But government bureaucracy is an impermeable wall, sometimes for the right reasons but often due to turf protection, intransigence and lack of funding. I would be happy to volunteer my time and experience, to work collaboratively with others and to work within strict standards and specifications in order to improve the quality of government technology for everyone. But the information about how to do so is hard to find and the process isn't very encouraging. I understand that this is a bit off topic, but when I hear "US Digital Service" I think "Peace Corps" for technology.

From wikipedia: "The stated mission of the Peace Corps includes providing technical assistance, helping people outside the United States to understand American culture, and helping Americans to understand the cultures of other countries."

WTF aren't we doing this for technology? Provide assistance, help the government to understand tech culture and help tech people understand government culture. If we train volunteers then we don't need to give high priority projects like Healthcare.gov to the contracting firm with the lowest bid and the snazziest powerpoint presentation. Government agencies would have their pick of people who'd proven their technical skills and reliability on projects at the local, state and federal levels. Citizen programmers could feel like they were making a difference for their country, even just a small one, which is something you can't put a price on. Government at all levels would reap huge benefits and improve services for a fraction of the cost, which would increase the general satisfaction of millions of non-technically inclined citizens.

The obvious problem with volunteer labor is that it's hard to hold someone accountable if things go wrong, and the speed and quality of ongoing maintenance and support can vary. But my thought is, the current system isn't exactly working out great either. We have catastrophic disasters at the national level and outdated and incomplete software at the local level. There are millions of people who could help, and working together they can do more good than harm. The greatest asset of the United States has always been the ingenuity and dedication of its human resources. If technology isn't the greatest opportunity and threat of the 21st century then I don't know what is, and it seems like a good time to marshall those resources to make the most of it.

coin 1 day ago 0 replies      
-1 for disabling zoom on mobile devices
bowlich 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone whose gone through the hiring process for the USDA and Dept. of Interior, how is it that the USDS is bypassing the normal usajobs hiring process?
mcguire 1 day ago 2 replies      
I notice the two magical questions on the application page:

"Are you eligible for veteran preference?

"Are you a current or former federal employee?"

Are these civil service positions?

einrealist 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is great. I wish my country has something like that. Is there a way to join as a foreigner and become a US citizen after a time? ;)
tsaoutourpants 2 days ago 2 replies      
Will work for fedgov once fedgov stops using tech to violate the people. Until then, GFYS.
ancarda 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing it's not possible for non-US citizens to join this?
in3xes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really BIG, COMPLEX, DIFFICULT problems! :-o
piratebroadcast 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks like the entire whitehouse.gov site is built in Drupal, which is about as insecure as a site can possibly be.
DanielBMarkham 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm upvoting this because the issue deserves more attention and discussion. I am somewhat leery of implementation details, having tons of experience working for both large governmental and private organizations. Large organizations are notoriously difficult to deal with -- large government organizations are an order of magnitude (or two) worse. Them's just the facts.

I am completely supportive of any effort to cut through the BS and make the government more transparent and accessible. So easy-to-use portals, apps for accessing benefits, publish-subscribe services to find opportunities? Dang, there's a lot of cool stuff folks could do. Great idea. Let's go do it.

I am completely concerned about the idea of both automating enforcement and the collection/cross-indexing of data. I have a choice whether or not I let Facebook rape my privacy and anonymity online. I do not have a choice about what I report to the IRS. I'm extremely unhappy with the Facebook situation, and the government is a completely different animal.

Laws and regulations -- centuries of them by now -- were made to be enforced by humans, not computers. That's why we have so many of them and they overlap so much. Anything that takes us closer to automatically fining me when I drive 5 mph over the speed limit, schedules an audit if I make a math mistake on my taxes, or tells me what I can do or not do based on data processing that was impossible ten years ago? Screw that. I want no part of it. In fact, I would make a strong case that such activity is antithetical to a free and just society.

I'm also concerned over the difference between a PR move and something tangible. Show me the next idiot in the White House of a different party that's doing this, and I'll be much happier. Otherwise, not only do I have the reservations that I currently have, I've now added a new one: that all of this automation and assistance is only happening by supporters of one political party. Not good.

Don't get me wrong: I like the idea. I want to see some clear ethical guidelines and permanence across political parties before I could support this, however. Right now it looks like a bunch of political BS.

ekianjo 2 days ago 1 reply      
> XXX NAME> Engineer, Healthcare.gov

Not sure you actually want to put that on record with your own picture there. Knowing what a massive mess the whole thing is.

elnate 2 days ago 1 reply      
For curiosities sake, I decided to take a look at healthcare.gov, put in a random ZIP code picked from New York in google maps. When I tried to look at individual cover I got an ACCESS DENIED. Is it restricted to US IPs? Seems like an odd thing to lock down.


[edit]I got to that link from this working site: http://healthbenefitexchange.ny.gov/ which I got to from Healthcare.gov

jinushaun 2 days ago 9 replies      
I'd imagine that this is a hard sell given the govts track record. They want to recruit us, but they still don't get it. Why would we want to work for the bad guys? Why would we want to be second class citizens to clueless politicians that dictate directives from above instead of working in an industry that respects us and views us as leaders?
Alan Turing's notes found being used as roof insulation at Bletchley Park
points by antimora  1 day ago   86 comments top 10
Animats 1 day ago 5 replies      
The restoration effort at Bletchley Park has gone over the top. I visited the place on a weekday in 2002, when almost nobody went there unless they were really into crypto history. It was run down, and there were only about 10 people visiting that day. The tour guide was more into the architecture of the mansion than the crypto, although they had a bombe model (a prop made for a 2001 movie) and had started on the Colossus rebuild. The only thing that worked back then was one Enigma machine. A non-working Lorenz machine and some other gear was in glass cases. The guide pointed out where various of the huts had been. It was just one of those obscure, slightly run down historical spots one visits in England, with the usual lake and swans.

Then they got National Lottery funding. Now they've rebuild most of the huts in brick, re-landscaped the grounds, have elaborate displays, added the "National Museum of Computing", renamed it "Historic Bletchley Park", put in a visitor's center, a children's playground, a cafe, and, of course, a gift shop. There's "Turing Gate" "Colossus Way", "Enigma Place", two memorials, and more stuff under construction.

All this is on the Bletchley Park side. The Colossus rebuild is at the National Museum of Computing, which is on the same property but has separate staff and funding. (http://www.tnmoc.org/) They don't get along with the Bletchley Park tourist operation and don't have public funding. ("Other exhibitions are available at Bletchley Park, but operated independently of the Bletchley Park Trust.", says the Trust site.)

toddsiegel 1 day ago 4 replies      
Back in the old days anything they could stuff in a wall was insulation. I was a volunteer firefighter years back. We had a call in the old part of town, with buildings dating back to the 1700s (George Washington slept here!). We had to open up the walls in a few spots and really cool old bottles, papers, and other stuff came out.
reality_czech 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought Mr. Turing worked on the foundations of computer science, not on the roof.
ekanes 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone's interested in Bletchley Park, or the intersection between encryption and WWII, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is a fantastic book.
DanBC 1 day ago 1 reply      
They've only just (the past few years) declassified some of his papers from GCHQ so it's nice that we get to see these without much of a wait.


throwaway8899 1 day ago 3 replies      
Something to think about ...

Alan Turing wasn't a national security risk because he was gay, but he actually was a risk because he was that good.

Anybody who could break rotor ciphers circa WW2 was very valuable indeed.

dang 1 day ago 5 replies      
This site (edit: I mean the site of the current URL) seems to have stolen the content and contains no attribution. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/turing-papers-tha... has the story, so we changed to that, but its paywall seems worse than what HN will tolerate, so we put it back. This is unsatisfactory.

Can anyone suggest a better URL?

Edit: Sorry, it seems I got this wrong and the original post was just fine: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8993631. (That might mean it was other sites ripping off MKWeb and not the other way around. So I'm glad we didn't change the URL after all.)

logicallee 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is something really interesting about this title (phrasing or how it reads) but I can't put my finger on it.


j2kun 1 day ago 1 reply      
These notes don't particularly seem very important. On the other hand, I always thought it would be interesting to have an art piece that is like "famous mathematicians notes at the moment when the inspiration struck."
clapas 1 day ago 1 reply      
This man was literally inventing modern computing and cryptography. Those papers must be very valuable for collectionists. This reminds me that I got to know recently about the famous Turing test being passed. Amazing. What a vision.
A Software Engineers Adventures in Learning Mathematics
points by hecubus  19 hours ago   205 comments top 39
decasteve 15 hours ago 8 replies      
This topic comes up every so often. I think my previous comment applies here [1]:

I started a Math degree after 16 years of programming without any Math beyond high school (the highest being high school calculus). Most of my work as a software developer didn't require any "higher" Maths.

Once I began studying math, including Modern Algebra, Analysis, Graph Theory, Category Theory, etc., I realized I understood many topics on an informal level, in a non-rigorous sort of way, through programming. I had a good sense of major algorithms and data structures as well as their running times. Once I did have more math under my belt, things did become easier, and I started to see connections and commonality between problems across different domains, i.e. more than one way to skin a cat.

Part of the reason I began studying math, is that I felt it was my limiting factor. The range of problems I could tackle as a programmer was limited by math. It turns out this was partly true.

The biggest misconception is that in Math there is one "correct" answer. This is almost never the case. Some of the most interesting solutions in Computer Science come directly from Math topics that were once considered "abstract". Likewise, some of the most interesting problems are solved through approximation algorithms of seemingly intractable problems, often requiring a bit of "hacking" and real world experience beyond what you'd get from a formal education in Math or Computer Science.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7104566

csirac2 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Mary L Boas "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences" [1] has absolutely been my favorite and most-used maths text in the 9 years since graduating uni. It's like a reference manual of just about all the non-CS (i.e. continuous/non-discrete) mathematical techniques required in my career. Highly accessible. It's a little too terse in places but I prefer this style of presentation over the insane long-form verbiage in other books I've since discarded which can make even simple topics seem overwhelming: the "Boas" book gets right to the point.

Edit: Calling it a mini-TAOCP of most of the maths needed for physics/EE work might be a bit of a stretch, but I've yet to see another maths text that does better as a highly readable, self-contained and compact reference.

Edit2: I moved house once and thought I'd lost my copy from university. I eventually found it, and yes, I have two copies... It's that important to me for brushing off the things I've forgotten :)

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Mathematical-Methods-Physical-Sciences...

bitL 14 hours ago 6 replies      
What I understood after studying CS for over 10 years at a few universities regularly ranked highly at ACM ICPC is that math is unnecessarily obfuscated to most people. There is even an excellent book "Concrete Mathematics" from Stanford that tries to bring fun back to math instead of drying people with some formal stuff without explaining how people over the centuries got to that structure.

I honestly believe math language is seriously outdated. It's like using COBOL to express everything. Yes, you can do that, but would you really want to given a choice? The most trivial things are so insanely complicated in math it's unbelievable (try to describe geometrical objects with the current math formal language if you do computer vision), yet there is very little work on developing better formal language of math. It's like with Turing machines and the complexity theory - who is going to move around a tape in the real world besides some specialized biological systems, not mentioning magical 'oracles'? Those abstractions were useful in their day, brought their fruits, but why do we still stick to them and just increase the gulf between more and more closed-unto-itself-theory and reality? Yes, it's great some theory is super cool but what do we do when we find in 20-30 years that the set of objects satisfying this omnipotent theory is empty? And when somebody like Mochizuki invents their own formal language to solve some cool problem like ABC conjecture, we all hate him, refusing to read the proof because it doesn't follow our outdated formal ways...

bndr 18 hours ago 9 replies      
I always thought that being an Engineer assumes you have knowledge of mathematics. The way this word is being used in Software ist kind of strange. "I built a blog in php, I'm a Software Engineer" - this feels kind of awkward to me.
lovelearning 17 hours ago 2 replies      
About 2 years ago, I had an intense urge to learn linear algebra, statistics and probability in depth for much the same reasons as the author - to improve my machine learning and computer vision skills.

Really glad to see I'm not the only one.

I don't have any recommendations for linear algebra, but for stats and probability (which I always found intimidating in the past), Allen Downey's "Think Stats" and "Think Bayes" did the trick.

agentultra 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome. Good for you. Keep at it. Keep a journal. Share with others what you learn. Learn from others when they share it.

I'd add a few of books to your list:

Graph Theory by W. T. Tufte: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/product/9780521794...

On Numbers and Games by John H. Conway: http://www.amazon.com/On-Numbers-Games-John-Conway/dp/156881...

And for good re-introduction to geometry and it's practical application to computer graphics: http://www.amazon.com/Primer-Graphics-Development-Wordware-L...

I think maths is amazing. It's a useful tool to have in one's arsenal regardless of your profession or walk in life. It's also not the sole domain of the highly educated elite. Anyone can do it.

It's not important to be "correct" all of the time so much as it is to be curious and willing to learn -- and willing to share.

Keep at it! There's so many cool things you can do as you learn more!

brudgers 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I lost interest in mathematics starting in tenth grade. Looking back into the haze, it wasn't so much mathematics as high school in general and by extension industrialized education. Boredom begat indifference. Chaos reoriented priorities across starts and fits with mathematics in post-secondary education.

I enrolled in Coursera's Discreet Optimization about a year ago. It was way beyond my ability [No SoA], but I learned a hell of a lot about computing and solving hard computational problems. It also suggested that mathematics might be important when grappling interesting problems.

For fun I watched a number of Strang's Open-Courseware videos on matrices. I hit Chapter 1 of TAoCP. I treated it like programming - it was ok to only partially understand. I took an Algorithms MOOC or two. I actually enjoyed following the analysis even formal analysis is not something I would do for pleasure.

The turning point though was when Lamport's "Thinking for Programmers" [Lamport: Thinking] hit HN. It threw down the gauntlet. Specification is a prerequisite for a commitment to getting it right, where the it is computing. And when the it is computing, we are talking about math whether we like it or not.

It's not that the math and specification replaces testing. It's that tests are ad hoc without a mathematical understanding of the computation.

[Lamport: Thinking] http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Build/2014/3-642

nadam 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Well written, this resonated with me. My day job is a software engineer. At night I have started to build a speech synthesizer. I had some math knowledge before, but I need to constantly improve it. (in the territory of signal processing and everything machine learning related.)
nabla9 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Usually good books travel from English speaking world to other languages as translations.

One of the masterpieces that has gone the opposite direction is:

Mathematics: Its Content, Methods and Meaning (three volumes bound as one) by A. D. Aleksandrov, A. N. Kolmogorov, M. A. Lavrent'ev (18 authors total)http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Content-Methods-Meaning-Do...

This book is really good companion for autodidacts. It's basically overview of mathematics.

aethertap 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I am doing this too, with Macdonald's "Linear and Geometric Algebra" and "Vector and Geometric Calculus" along with "Networks, Crowds, and Markets" and "Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics." It's slow going, but very enjoyable.

The most interesting side effect I've noticed from doing this is a dramatic improvement in my ability to focus. I had been suffering from a general scatterbrained, distracted feeling for a while before I started. I think it was due to the way I consume content online, trying to follow too many interests at once. I set aside about an hour a night to work on these math courses and within a couple of weeks I noticed that my focus was greatly improved. For that reason alone I'm counting this project as a major win, regardless of whether I master these topics or not. Having something to study seems to be extremely valuable for general mental health, at least for me.

calebm 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I can personally strongly recommend the book, "Who is Fourier?" for learning math: http://www.amazon.com/Who-Fourier-Mathematical-Adventure-Edi.... It is the best math book I have ever read.
pjmlp 16 hours ago 4 replies      
I don't get the title.

At least on my home country, a Software Engineer job title implies a CS degree with at least two years full of math.

tel 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Given everyone recommending books for math autodidacts interested in learning the "breadth" of mathematics, I cannot recommend more highly Saunder's MacLane's "Mathematics, Form and Function".

It reads as a high level false-historical account of how math might have been developed, in its entirety, if it unfolded in the most direct and logical way from the human experiences we all share (guided by understanding of where mathematics has ended up in the modern age).

The false-historical expose is fantastic. The goal becomes less to express things as accurately and comprehensively as modernly possiblewhich you'll experience as you take on graduate level books or modern papersbut instead to demonstrate large-scope intuition for why whole fields evolved as they did and how they are all intermingled.

henrik_w 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Barbara Oakley mentioned in the text teaches the course "Learning How to Learn" on Coursera [1]. It is about the science of learning in general, not just learning math, but it is very accessible. It's only 4 weeks, and the lectures are easy to understand. I knew most of the techniques before (spaced repetition, recall, proper sleep etc), but it was still good with a review.

[1] https://class.coursera.org/learning-003

uncultured 18 hours ago 2 replies      
If anyone is interested in how mathematicians think and do proofs there are many helpful books. For example,

Mathematical Proofs: A Transition to Advanced Mathematics by Chartrand and others.

How to Prove It: A Structured Approach by Velleman.

Learning to Reason: An Introduction to Logic, Sets, and Relations by Nancy Rodgers.

Elementary Discrete Math books make for great intro to proofs and math thought:

Discrete Mathematics with Applications by Epp.

Mathematics: A Discrete Introduction by Scheinerman.

There are tons of terrific introductory books on other subjects in math if anyone's interested.

otakucode 12 hours ago 0 replies      
When I pick up a book and start to learn something new (which is pretty much what I do in my free time), I usually do it with an IDE at hand. I try to implement as much of what I learn in code. If I can teach the computer how to do it, then I am sure I really understand it, and it often helps me find holes in my understanding.

I have significant trouble with doing this with mathematics, though. Programming languages (at least the ones I know) just don't seem to be good for expressing things like identities and invariants. Anyone have any suggestions on how to handle such things?

bradneuberg 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great article. I've recently been self-teaching myself machine learning the same way. I found that it started to get difficult in the middle of the course staying on track.

I decided to "scratch an itch" in open source parlance and start a study group I call colearning. Colearning provides a place for people doing remote education (or working on their own projects or writing) to have structured time to study and move forward towards their goals. It helps provide the positive pressure that a real physical class provides.

Our colearning group currently meets at Borderlands Books in San Francisco on Sunday's from 11 am to 4 pm. Message me and you can come join!

I've done this to help provide the structure I need to keep learning; its already helped me advance greatly in my own studies as I make forward progress every week.

Years ago I also identified a need for community while being self employed and started the coworking movement.

andyjohnson0 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A related "Ask HN" from a couple of months ago: How or where to begin learning mathematics from first principles? [1]

I'm at the very start of what I hope might be a similar journey, and have signed-up for a Coursera "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" course. I'm hoping it might give me some insight to build on. The course starts in about ten days, so apprehension hasn't kicked-in yet.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8697772

[2] https://www.coursera.org/course/maththink

tpaksoy 16 hours ago 2 replies      
As a software developer who also started learning Mathematics for the same purpose (Machine Learning), I just could not do it with books. It is strange to explain, but I need someone with me to study.

I need that person to say: "I don't understand it". Even if I don't understand it myself, as I try explaining it to my study partner, it starts clicking in my brain. I suddenly start to understand these parts as I'm explaining it. Hands down the best way for me to learn: explain to others.

grecy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting someone who studied Software Engineering didn't get a solid math education at university.

I studied Software Engineering, and am a certified engineer. I sat next to the Aerospace, Chemical and Mechanical engineers for all 4 years of "Engineering Math". (They did crazy physics and chem that I didn't)

How can you call yourself a "Software Engineer" without having studied a huge amount of math?

stared 17 hours ago 0 replies      
For information theory, a really recommend: Thomas M. Cover, Joy A. Thomas "Elements of Information Theory" - it starts elementarily, has direct examples, straightforward definitions and readable notation.

(And first recommendation by Cosma Shalizi: http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notabene/infor...)

jxm262 15 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't mean to go off track here, but as someone who's been casually interested in math, I'm wondering which branches of math are the most applicable to software development. I've taken Discrete Mathematics, Stats, and Calc in college, but now I've been working in the field for a few years and want to try learning a bit more. I've been thinking of trying some courses on Cryptography, but it would be a major shift from my current background (web dev).

I feel like there's so many different directions to take, but which ones are the most applicable to practical Software Development? Particularly in the realm of Web Development?

Editing my question to ask what's the most applicable math subjects regarding the _PRACTICAL_ applications of software development, hopefully clears it up a bit.

henrik_w 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I am currently taking a great Coursera course that is meant as a mathematics refresher course. It's called "Mathematical Methods for Quantitative Finance"[1]. As the name implies, it's meant as a foundation for financial calculations like options pricing, but a lot of it is just pure maths, like limits, derivation and integration.

The lectures are quite clear and easy to follow. I did do all this math at university, but that was over 20 years ago, so I had forgotten a lot, so for me this course is perfect. But I think it can be quite useful even if the concepts a re new to you.

[1] https://www.coursera.org/course/mathematicalmethods

manish_gill 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been doing project Euler problems and I realise it really really helps to know Number Theory to get to an optimal solution for problems. Can anyone recommend good books on the subject? While learning via problem-solving is fun, most of the time it boils down to me sitting with a naive, brute-force solution that's too slow and then google how to make it fast, discover a new number theory axiom/tool and then changing the algorithm. There's gotta be a better way to learn...
praveenhm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I am software engineer for last 10 years, I am interested in Phd in statics/Math and live in silicon valley. what is the starting point for any courses or degree, any recommendation would help.
aswanson 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I hated math from elementary up until i learned Fourier theory. That was a pivotal moment in my education ; math went from wrote excercise to pure beauty in a single lecture. Now im trying to self learn lie algebra. I need to find out what prerequisites i need. A ton of math at this level is notation and terminology.
Bjorkbat 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The comments are amusing. It seems there's a popular opinion that to be an engineer requires a higher understanding of mathematics than what most mere mortals require.

My understanding was that to call yourself an engineer one must be capable of building robust and efficient things, whether that thing is a plane, or a bridge, complex software, even a website, matters not, so long as it is robust and efficient.

The degree to which you understand mathematics is useful only in how greatly it can enable you to build something robust and efficient. Thus, if you know more linear algebra than 90% of all mere mortals, but write inefficient programs, then at best you are a bad Software Engineer, at worst you're simply not a Software Engineer.

For that reason, at my current job I was asked to replace a man who earned his PhD in Computer Science from Georgia Tech who's job was to build an maintain an API in Go, despite the fact that I'm a college dropout. Smart man, with a far better understanding of mathematics, but ultimately I could build things more robustly and efficiently. I had stronger engineering skills.

Going back to OP, right on man. I personally didn't enjoy math until I learned it using my own rules, by own rules I mean I shunned the established method of repetition until you memorized the process, instead opting to understand the underlying concept and keep my thoughts written away somewhere for future reference, knowing all too well by now that memorization is futile given how frequently I have to reference Stack Overflow.

DennisP 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I just started this Coursera linear algebra course designed for software engineers, which looks really good: https://www.coursera.org/course/matrix

So far it tracks the matching textbook pretty closely. The first little set of lectures covered the first 62 pages.

jafingi 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Math is really important for SE's. I had multiple courses in discrete mathematics when studying MSc in Software Engineering.

I love math.

peter303 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I didnt really learn math until I had to use it in my work.For example my thesis worked used a lot of complex analysis and wave equations. I had had those in Physic and math calss, but really didnt obtain full understanding until using it.
matt2000 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Has anyone had any experiences learning different mathematical techniques using Mathematica? I was wondering if it might be more enjoyable to learn some areas without the manual arithmetic usually involved in school. Any recommendations on books or courses appreciated, thanks!
stared 15 hours ago 0 replies      
For general introduction to mathematics, there is R. Courant "What is mathematics?" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Is_Mathematics%3F.
sshillo 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Solving fibonacci using eigenvalues [1] was posted a few days ago. A great example of how powerful math can be.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8980546

mrcactu5 15 hours ago 0 replies      
originally a die-hard math major and now, hacking and dealing with hackers, I have and to question the foundations of my own subjects. I have come to some tentative conclusions:

computer science is computer program, when you abstract away all context so it is just a bunch of symbols

statistics is mathematics applied to the "real world" data, and the art of turning it into form suitable for computer.

Actually, from Lao Tzu's "Art of War", he put's it this way:

    In respect of military method,    firstly, Measurement;     secondly, Estimation of quantity;     thirdly, Calculation;     fourthly, Balancing of chances;     fifthly, Victory.
a solid 2000 years before the computer.

graycat 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Part I -- General

> Why not quit my job and go back toschool? Well, thats not really for me.Reading books at my own pace lets me try asubject out without fully committing to itand making it a necessity that I find workbased off of it.

I respond here in three parts, the firstgeneral, the second more specific andabout linear algebra, and the third aboutstatistics.

Really, in school, you still have to learnthe stuff. And, there a class might helpbut won't be enough; so, right, again,during the course and in the hours not inthe class, you still have to study andlearn the stuff. Or for the class,"mathematics is not a spectator sport".That means you still have to study thestuff, get it between your ears,understand it.

Eventually you can conclude that mostlycollege and its courses are more forcertification than education. For theeducation, that's heavily up to you.

But there are some dangers in selflearning: Not all the ideas and learningmaterials are good; the really good onesare only a small fraction of all the onesyou will likely encounter.

So, in praise of college and profs, theycan (1) get you on a good track with goodideas and learning materials and (2) getyou unstuck and keep you on track. Insuch study, it's possible to do too muchor too little -- from some experts you cansee about what is the right amount to do.

I said "college"; revise that to read "oneof the world's best researchuniversities", say, in the US, 1-2 dozen.The ideas and materials you will see insuch a university really do stand to bebetter than nearly all you will encounterotherwise. Such learning is where there'snot much substitute for quality. But,still, just to learn the material, youdon't really have to enroll in such auniversity and, instead, just borrow fromtheir course descriptions and materials.Indeed, some of the best such universitiesare working hard to make their learningmaterials available to all for free overthe Internet. Why? Because thoseuniversities want to concentrate onpushing forward with research.

Here's a way: Show up at such auniversity and appropriate department, inyour case, applied math, mathematicalsciences, operations research, statistics,whatever. Maybe show up at some publicdepartment seminars. Talk with some ofthe students. Say you have a careergoing, for your career are interested inwhat the department is doing, and want tolearn more about the program and themathematical content. So, get some of thestudents to talk and explain.

Then for some of the courses you areinterested in, see who the profs are andlook at the course materials, say, texts,handouts, on-line files, etc.

Then after looking at the materials and,say, have made some progress with them,try to get 15 minutes to chat with a prof.

Then take what you just got from thatdepartment for free -- broad directions,what they regard as more/less important,texts, course materials, etc. -- and gooff and study on your own. When you thinkthat maybe you have some course studiedwell, try to get a copy of the coursefinal exam or Ph.D. qualifying exam, workthrough it, and, if it appears you didwell, ask a prof to check your solution toa few of the most difficult questions. Ifyour solutions look good, then you willstart to look good and may get asked ifyou would like to apply as a student inthe department. So, here you and the profand department are interviewing eachother.

Such things worked for me: (A) In mycareer I kept running into the work ofJohn Tukey at Princeton and Bell Labs.So, it was stepwise regression,exploratory data analysis, power spectralestimation, convergence and uniformity intopology, his statement equivalent to theaxiom of choice, etc. So, I wrote him atPrinceton asking about graduate study,mentioned those topics, and got back anice letter from the department Chairbasically inviting me to apply.

(B) I applied to Cornell and got rejected.But largely independently I visited a profthere to discuss optimization, asked aboutbeing a grad student, and soon got anotherletter accepting me to grad study.

(C) At least at one time, the Web site ofthe Princeton math department said,"Graduate courses are introductions toresearch by experts in their fields. Nocourses are given for preparation for thequalifying exams. Students are expectedto prepare for the qualifying exams ontheir own." or some such.

Lesson: In grad school at Princeton, arestill expected to learn the qualifyingexam materials on your own. Well, to dothat, don't have to be in the high rentarea around Princeton, NJ.

When I did go to grad school and got myPh.D., what really saved my tail featherswas what I had done and did on my own asindependent study. Some of the courseshelped in providing high qualitydirections and materials, but the realwork was nearly all independent.

And, one of the crucial inflectionpoints was when I took a problem in acourse but not solved in the course, didsome research, and found a solution.The solution was novel, and word spreadaround the department quickly. My halogot a high polish, and that greatly easedmy path through my Ph.D. That is, I hadproven results on the most importantresearch academic and Ph.D. bottom line-- I'd done good, novel, "new, correct,significant" research. Then my hair cutor lack there of, sloppy hand writing,occasional upchuck at some bad coursematerial, etc. no longer mattered.

My research looked publishable, and it was-- I did publish it later, in one of thebest journals, easily, no revisions. So,lesson: That inflection point was fromindependent work.

So, don't feel that your independent workis inferior to enrolling as a student.Instead, in the best universities, as astudent, nearly all the work is for you todo independently anyway.

Still, I'd repeat -- try to pick thebrains, for free, without hurting yourpresent career, of the courses, profs, andmaterials at a world class department in aworld class research university.

Why a research university? World classresearch is a very high bar and some ofthe best evidence of good expertise,insight, and judgment in the field -- andyou don't want the opposites.

sonabinu 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome! My personal experience has been that it is a lonely road but a worthwhile journey.
gtani 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I read this the first time posted (didn't get any comments), very poignant, especially the part about relearning trig/geometry, precalc. There's boundless resources for learning now but you don't get little endorphin/epinephrine releases like you do when your gcc/clang/VS compile succeeds, it's still mostly notebooks, whiteboards, pencils and 4-color pens (tho i've seen lots of cool JS animations, ipython notebooks, and libs in R, matlab/octave and now julia)

- a few universities have put (many/most) of lecture notes and student notes up: http://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/studentreps/res/notes.html as well as study guides: http://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/undergrad/studyskills/text.pdf

- books about how to think like a mathematician: Keith Devlin, Kolmogorov/Alexandrov et al did 2 Dover books, and Houston: http://www.amazon.com/How-Think-Like-Mathematician-Undergrad... and http://www.amazon.com/How-Study-as-Mathematics-Major/dp/0199... and Ellenberg: http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Be-Wrong-Mathematical/dp/15942...

- Concrete Math by Patashkin, Knuth et al; Streetfighting Math by Mahajan and his newer, freely available: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/art-insight-science-and-engine...

- this machine learning/data science list: http://www.reddit.com/r/MachineLearning/comments/1jeawf/mach...

- Cal newport blog: http://calnewport.com/blog/2012/10/26/mastering-linear-algeb...

- besides Dover, Schaum Outlines are a good cheap resource abundantly available in used bookstores(tho there are in fact some type-ridden ones also)


the best advice general advice i've seen is the same as what they tell you in college: form study groups and make commitments to regular discussion. Stronger students strengthen their understanding by tutoring others at the whiteboard. There's lots of machine learning and data sciencey meetups and informal groups springing up e.g.http://machine-learning.meetup.com/

icantthinkofone 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This guy claims to be a software engineer but then asks this question, "Why spend your spare time learning math, which is challenging and sometimes dry?"

The question invalidates anything he has to say on the subject and makes me question his claim of being a software engineer. No self-respecting person in that position would ever need to ask that question or write an article about it. Nor is it worth wasting anyone's time to read past the first paragraph.

mcguire 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Get your fundamentals on lock so that you can start getting into the ill advanced shit. This is universally applicable.Earl Sweatshirt"

"ill advanced shit"? I know, I know, it's a quote and probably intended to be funny. Heck, it might be.

But I swear, if I start hearing people say that without an awful lot of irony, I'm going to be kicking people in the testicles.

The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment
points by mudil  1 day ago   211 comments top 44
me2i81 1 day ago 17 replies      
The BLS puts out 6 different unemployment statistics for every period. U3 is the "official rate", but you can also look at the other ones, including U4 = U3 + "discouraged workers", U5 = U4 + "marginally attached" workers, U6 = U5 + part time workers who would like to be full time. You can make arguments about which measurement is "right", but putting out an editorial implying that there is sleight-of-hand going on is silly--all the measurements are available, and comparing a single one to itself over time as a "headline rate" is completely reasonable.
med00d 1 day ago 1 reply      
The standard rate (U3) doesn't take underemployed or those who give up looking for work into account, but the U6 rate does. The U6 rate in January of 2009 was 14.2% and it is now down to 11.2% from its peak at 17.1% at the end of 2009/early 2010. Is the economy still struggling? Sure. Is unemployment headed in the right direction? Absolutely.

Edit: One thing that people commonly like to do is compare the U6 rate to the U3 rates of the past. "Unemployment isn't 5.6%, it's really closer to 12% ..." That's foolish because it's an apples to oranges comparison. Yes 11.2% is high unemployment, but what we judge as the low/satisfactory unemployment rate would come in somewhere around 7-7.5% when looking at the U6 rate -vs- the 4-4.5% that's considered low/satisfactory using the U3 rate.

Source: http://portalseven.com/employment/unemployment_rate_u6.jsp

"The U6 unemployment rate counts not only people without work seeking full-time employment (the more familiar U-3 rate), but also counts "marginally attached workers and those working part-time for economic reasons." Note that some of these part-time workers counted as employed by U-3 could be working as little as an hour a week. And the "marginally attached workers" include those who have gotten discouraged and stopped looking, but still want to work. The age considered for this calculation is 16 years and over."

seizethecheese 1 day ago 3 replies      
Economics student here.

One reason Economists are interested in Unemployment is because when it reaches a certain level it puts pressure on prices through upwards wage pressure (fewer people looking for work means employers need to pay more.) Defining Unemployment narrowly as only those actively looking for work and recently unemployed provides for a statistic best measures the labor market's functioning.

As others have noted, there are many other statistics that are collected which can elucidate social concerns.

nostromo 1 day ago 5 replies      
Take a look at this chart:


I fear that 1999 was "peak labor" -- the point at which technology started to destroy more jobs than it created.

We HN types live in a bubble in which times couldn't be better -- but in the larger economy there are fewer jobs paying and they're paying lower wages. It's troubling.

kwhitefoot 17 hours ago 0 replies      
On the subject of Basic Income. I think most people are missing some very important points by concentrating so hard on the costs, that is, the money provided to the recipients of the Basic Income.

- Poor people spend pretty much everything they get and they do so locally, so a very large proportion of the BI will be immediately spent in the local economy thus increasing the opportunities for people to provide goods and services.

- Having an income that will prevent you starving to death or having your house or car repossessed means that you have the opportunity to turn down a poorly paid or dangerous job. This will go some way to rectifying the imbalance of power between employees and employers and drive up wages at the bottom end

- BI is not charity and is generally not intended to be means tested; every citizen gets it rich and poor alike. It is income and taxable in the normal way.

Animats 1 day ago 2 replies      
Realistic numbers for unemployment and other economic statistics are available at "http://www.shadowstats.com". These are mostly computed from older Government definitions. Over the years, the way some key numbers are computed have been changed to make them look better. Shadowstats uses the old computation methods, which are more honest. It's a paid service ($175 a year) for people and businesses who need better numbers.

Their unemployment rate, currently at 23%, includes long-term discouraged workers, which the BLS stopped counting in 1994.

Their inflation value is based on the way inflation was computed before 1980. It includes house prices. Their value is currently 8%. This compares to the official number of 2%. Shadowstats has it right - increasing real estate prices are inflation.

ptaipale 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that so often everyone talks about how unemployment develops, but not how employment develops.

Unemployment statistics are not so useful, precisely for the reason given: people who've given up hope of finding employment are often excluded.

Employment statistics are much more real, because the taxman wants his own, so it covers everyone who actually works. Of course, there are imperfections here as well: people may be working part-time when they actually would like to have a full time job.

During the years 2000 - 2012, employment rate in United States has gone down from 74.1 % to 67.1 % [0].

In Germany, the rate has gone up from 65.6 % to 72.8 %. [1]

In Sweden, it is relatively unchanged, 74.3 % to 73.8 %. [2]

In Greece, the numbers have always been much lower: from 55.9 % down to 51.3 %. [3]

E.g. Korea and France are surprisingly low, in the 60's. Israel has increased during this decade a lot, and it seems to be due to more women working.

[0] http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/howdoesyourcountrycompare-united...

[1] http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/howdoesyourcountrycompare-german...

[2] http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/howdoesyourcountrycompare-sweden...

[3] http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/howdoesyourcountrycompare-greece...

Short-term comparisons of OECD here:http://stats.oecd.org/Index.aspx?DataSetCode=STLABOUR

jobu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some people would argue that Social Security Disability Insurance is soaking up a huge number of people that would rather be working as well: http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/

"But, in most cases, going on disability means you will not work, you will not get a raise, you will not get whatever meaning people get from work. Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal. And it's a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for."

scottkduncan 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck."

Perhaps this definition hasn't caught up with the increase in freelancing and self-employment. Underemployment, particularly among lower skilled workers, surely is an issue in the U.S. but Gallup's approach could be undercounting some newer types of "good" jobs.

rilita 1 day ago 1 reply      
"many Americans... don't know... Few Americans know this"

"wondering what hollowed out the middle class"

Perhaps the clueless people who don't know anything about what things mean ( the people this article is targeted at ) are the same people who are unemployed/under-employed ( notably also the group this is targeted at )

Summary of tfa: "The number news refers to as unemployment does not mean what you thought it means; it means X" Great, now how does this tell us anything we couldn't learn by looking up "unemployment rate" on wikipedia?

declan 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is well-known, I think, in economic circles. If you want another, arguably more accurate measure based on the government's previous (pre-1995) methodology, check out Shadowstats.com:http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-chart...

It shows the real unemployment rate, counting short-term discouraged and marginally attached workers, to be around 22-23% today. That's up from around 12-13% before the 2008 recession.

smackfu 1 day ago 7 replies      
Boy, a polling org putting up political opinion pieces sure seems like a terrible idea.
dkrich 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This article reads like a transcript of a drunk guy at a bar explaining his political point of view. Lots of stated assumptions about what other people don't know, backed up with zero facts to substantiate any claims made therein.

He claims repeatedly that "most people don't know [some fact about what goes into calculating the unemployment rate]." I think actually most people who read the news do, in fact, know that people who have been chronically out of work and given up looking are not counted among the unemployed. How could they not? It was hammered home over and over in the midst of the recession.

He never provides any numbers to support the claim that a large percentage of people fall into that category. He just states that it's left out of the calculation, that few people know it, and then leaves you to assume that therefore this must be a significant percentage of the population.

Stupid article.

bayesianhorse 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Touting these unemployment numbers as a "big lie" is equally misleading. Especially when comparing this number to a past situation of which we don't know the disappointing details.

Just saying "only 44% of adults have a good job" doesn't sound like a good number either. This doesn't seem to count mothers, "house wifes" (if they choose that occupation voluntarily and gladly), college students and probably not even grad students.

joelhaus 1 day ago 0 replies      
The delta is the most relatable conclusion the average person can draw from the unemployment rate reports. Otherwise, without taking some economics classes, you're doomed to misinterpret.
dredmorbius 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Workforce participation, median, minimum, and bottom decile wage are in many ways vastly more informative than unemployment numbers. Yes, even the expanded U6 values BLS provides.

Participation tells you how many people are working. Minimum wage tells you how well the worst-paid fare (and as Adam Smith notes in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, "A man must always live by his work" -- which he expands to mean: wages must provide not only for the laborer, but for a spouse, children, and the education of those children to provide for the next generation of workers.

Median wage tells you where the typical worker is. It's not skewed upwards by a few highly-compensated individuals as mean would be. If you and I are at a bar and Bill Gates walks in, the mean wealth has just jumped tremendously, the median not so much.

Bottom decile tells you how those at the bottom rung of the compensation ladder, though not necessarily at minimum wage, are doing. Smith has a considerable amount to say on this as well.

The biggest problem with unemployment (and other economic / econometric metrics) is that once defined they become political, and an change to more meaningful statistics tends to make the administration in power look worse.

alyandon 1 day ago 0 replies      
The various unemployment rates are pretty clearly defined and U3 is arguably not the most meaningful one to use but it is considered the "official" rate.

More information here:


bibabo 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Most interesting is this: Many people compare other countries unemployment to US U3 not US U6/U5 while countries with gov. unemployement benefits (unemployed are people who get money, which includes people not looking or with a small amount of income) have numbers more in tune with U6/U5 and should be compared to U6/U5.

This makes the US economy always looks nicer.

(Same for GDP with chained dollars btw.)

msoad 1 day ago 3 replies      
All these facts were true when unemployment rate was higher. So even if the numbers are off by some offset they improved.
acd 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Before the 2008 financial crisis 1 of 8 american children where on food stamps. 2015 1 of 5 children are on food stamps. In short this is bad. I bet banker bonuses have went in the totally opposite direction, ie up since the financial crisis.

Here is the articlehttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/28/us-usa-economy-fam...

goorpyguy 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've been thinking for a while that there need to be incentives put in place for companies who short-change their their employees (and by extension, the public as a whole) by hiring 3 part-time workers instead of one full-time.

This goes towards the "good job" / "American Dream" aspect of the article. People shouldn't have to work 2 or 3 part-time jobs to make a living if they don't want to, just because those are the jobs available. If somebody wants full-time employment (for which they are otherwise qualified), it would be better for them to have that.

Of course, it is cheaper for the corporations to use part-time, because it keeps them flexible with scheduling/substitutes and due to added costs like benefits etc.

I have been trying to figure out whether it makes sense to offer tax incentives/penalties which would push the balance towards more full-time jobs instead of part-time. One piece I have envisioned is forcing employers to offer the benefits a full-time employee would receive prorated to part-timers, with a penalty added for splitting it up. Make them want to offer a full-time job instead.

The part I am worried about is whether the effect is too strong and prevents somebody who actually only wants part-time work from finding employment (e.g.: a student, full-time parent, senior citizen or handicapped person). There needs to be some part-time work available, but generally a member of the workforce probably wants a full-time job.

danans 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some of the hypothetical examples of out-of-work people the author uses are pretty unlikely, and seem intended to cast an artificially wide net for his argument: i.e. engineers and health-care workers and math degree holders probably have lower than average unemployment rates, yet the author paints a picture of them mowing lawns and losing unemployment (i'm not saying it doesn't happen, just that it's unlikely).

In a way, the author is committing the same sin as those he criticizes: he also oversimplifies the employment situation. The unemployment rate and the labor force participation rate vary dramatically by region and by profession (in California alone, compare the Bay Area to the Imperial Valley).

It's much better for some highly skilled individuals, especially in booming metros, and much worse for others, who are in either low skilled, or in regions experiencing secular decline.

Also, Gallup's own underemployment numbers (cited in the article) show both the unemployment rate and the underemployment rate at 7.1% and 15.9%, which is lower than where they were in Feb 2010, and that it is almost certainly lower than what they were in the depths of the great recession.

Nobody would argue that these stats aren't as good as they should be, but to say that things haven't improved at all is very disingenuous, which is why this reads more like political anger-rousing article than a well-reasoned op/ed. The latter isn't surprising considering that the first rumbles of the next presidential election cycle are here.


SeanLuke 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't get this argument. Let's put aside that the author seems to be unaware that the BLS puts out multiple unemployment statistics. It seems to me that what really matters is not what statistic is being used but rather that the statistic being used is consistent from year to year so we can see what the trend in employment is.
ThomPete 1 day ago 1 reply      
I must say I am chocked at how many people seem to defend the U3 definition vs. U6

As far as can tell the number of actual fulltime jobs is decreasing and the number of jobs that aren't providing full time income is increasing.

Unless you have a political agenda why would you insist that U3 is better than U6?

tezza 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Others have mentioned U6 etc.

The issue of the headline figure not capturing certain key features is mentioned as nauseum on CNBC a or any decent financial news source.

Gallup and the person who posted this is trying to make it sound like a revelation. Further almost all types of employment has improved.

Here in the UK we have a similar obfuscation technique where the opposition says more women are out of work than ever, whereas the government says more women are in work than ever. Both are true, but behind the scenes it is because there is the largest population of work aged women ever.

jpetersonmn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I personally don't know anyone that doesn't already understand the things this article is pointing out.
debrice 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're getting unemployment benefit but do some undeclared job, you are employed but count as unemployed.

If you're not looking for a job, it's fair to not be counted as unemployed. Otherwise you can also count any kid in age of working in the statistics or family who have decided to have one member employed and the other taking care of the family.

The writer (CEO of gallup) pretty much explains that the stats behind the title is not what HE thinks it is.

This statistic describes those who want to work and cannot find a job.

pkaye 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was once trying to compare US unemployment to other countries but was not sure which "U" statistic is closest to how others measure unemployment. Anyone has an idea for example within the EU?
samspot 1 day ago 0 replies      
> None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you've stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn't count you as unemployed

Even the local news gives this disclaimer almost every time they mention the unemployment rate. Maybe it's not that nobody tells you, but that the author just didn't notice it.

chipuni 1 day ago 0 replies      
I look at Gallup's web page about U.S. employment (http://www.gallup.com/poll/125639/Gallup-Daily-Workforce.asp...), and I have a question:

The sum of their "% Payroll to population", "% Underemployed", and "% Unemployed" appears to be about 70%. If they're disjoint categories, what is the other 30%?

yohann305 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is far from being perfect metrics, I agree. However, it is a good way to compare unemployment fluctuation over time as long as we keep the same paramaters over time.
franciscop 1 day ago 0 replies      
If we counted Spanish unemployment like that it would surely not be the same rate as it is today, 23.7%. This definitely includes people that has given up hope about finding a job.

On the other hand, it doesn't include those who are working without a legal contract, which I am sure would lower the percentage significantly since it's not uncommon.

clarkmoody 1 day ago 1 reply      
Whether or not this information is always available each time BLS publishes the statistics is not the issue here.

The potentially alarming angle is whether the drop in unemployment is attributed to people finding jobs or to people leaving the workforce.

The current reporting of unemployment numbers certainly leaves room for spin, depending on how you want to package the news.

pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Right-leaning Gallup of course "forgets" to note that baby boomers retiring is making a material contribution.
brohee 1 day ago 3 replies      
That's why the number of people 18-70 employed full time would be a much more interesting number.

No removing of prisoners, people on disability, housewifes, people that worked just one paid hour this week...

The picture painted by that number would be bleak in most of the developing word, that's why it's not readily published.

neves 1 day ago 2 replies      
I always thought that the great lie in the employment statistics was due to high percentage of the American population that is in jail. USA has the greatest number of prisoners of the developed countries, and it skews the statistics.
marquis 1 day ago 0 replies      
This American Life has an excellent expos on this topic, from 2013:http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/490/t...
tjradcliffe 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure why this is being reported as new or interesting. "They don't count people who have stopped looking for work" has been reported to death for decades (always, year after year, decade after decade, as if no one had ever pointed this out before... it's one of those strange "perpetually surprising" stories, like "engineers look to nature for inspiration".)

What is new and interesting is that in the past six years the American labour participation rate--the fraction of the working-age-adult population that is either employed or looking for work--has plummeted from 66% to 63%: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

To get a sense of what a big deal this is, you can re-run that chart to cover the full range of data from 1948-2014. After being flat at about 59% for two decades, the LPR begins to ramp up in the late 60's as Boomer women entered the workforce. It exhibits a broad flat peak from 1990 to 2008 at about the 66-67% level, and then starts its dramatic decline in sync with the financial crisis, and is now back at a level not seen since 1978.

This is a demographic shift of enormous proportions, and the answer to "Why" is not known: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/06/t...

There is a fairly desperate attempt to spin this as "Boomers retiring" but that runs into a problem of simple arithmetic: the population of the United States was 203 million in 1970, when the ramp-up in the LPR began. It is now 320 million, a factor of 1.5 higher. So for every Boomer retiring, there should be 1.5 new workers entering the workforce. Where are they?

yason 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is how it's in Europe as well: unemployment rates can be redefined to include or exclude certain people depending on what are the desired results. I usually look at employment rates instead which comes with its own peculiarities.
PythonicAlpha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Same as in Germany: Every government invents new possibilities to "count people out" of the official statistics. So the numbers fall, but unemployment stays the same or even rises.
stalcottsmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author is not a dummy. He is CEO of a top tier polling organization. Surely he understands U3 and U6, etc. He may have partisan leanings to the extent that this can be taken as a criticism of the current administration. Current policies may not be helping but I'm not sure that any partisan solutions provide the answers needed.

The bigger picture here is that the US sacrificed some broad-based increase in prosperity over the last 20+ years while helping the developing world to climb out of true poverty. You cannot bring 1 billion Chinese (and to a lesser extent other peoples) into the "middle class" through trade while at the same time sustaining the exceptionally high standard of living of so many Americans -- at least not without some major, hopefully-temporary dislocations.

At the same time, somewhat related to this, we are witnessing the passing of a period in which America enjoyed unique competitive advantages which are unlikely to re-occur in a similar form. No amount of IT innovation can make up for the passing of peak-US-cheap-oil-production (1970s), or the loss or diminishing of the dollar's reserve status and the US's central role in global trade (ongoing), or the temporary advantage of economic competitors being crushed in WWII (50's and 60's)...

The Americans worst affected by these policies were bought off to some extent with cheap imported consumer goods (think Walmart), oodles of credit, the spread of two income households and of course benefit programs.

Now, if you were to try to address this problem sincerely from a position that jobs and employment are desirable social goods you wish to maximize, you might aim for sensible policies that would reduce the cost of living for typical Americans (allowing them to attain desirable, economically justifiable employment at globally competitive wages), increase labor mobility (ability to move for opportunity), and reduce the barriers to employment at the bottom of the employment ladder. Secondary policy objectives might include simplifying the tax system, encouraging household formation, and restructuring education so that expensive college degrees are less necessary.

A lot of this has to do with how people are living in what kind of housing, how that housing is financed and what kind of transport they use to get to work and what kind of shape they are in mentally, physically and perhaps even spiritually to be be productive. I think major changes are needed to achieve broad-based 21st century prosperity growth in the US. Some of these changes would be deeply unpalatable and will only be considered if economic conditions worsen substantially.

Some here seem to think we are entering a post-employment society where jobs will be increasingly scarce because they are not needed and that this is a good thing. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. This kind of thing is the hallmark of privileged bubble thinking. If you really remove the dignity of work from so many, you run the risk of making the people themselves seem redundant.

jordache 1 day ago 0 replies      
it's funny that some right winger would link this ridiculous article here, thinking it would fool the HN collective.
zkhalique 1 day ago 1 reply      
Deficit is dropping like a stone, but republicans aren't looking to bring back government jobs, they are just looking to use the flavor of the day to make people afraid of the Obama administration.
pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Right-leaning Gallup of course "forgets" to note that baby boomers retiring is making a material contribution. Also that the recession gave employers a good opportunity to automate workers out.
Research into psychedelics, shut down for decades, is yielding results
points by juanplusjuan  1 day ago   143 comments top 18
cubano 1 day ago 9 replies      
I took a ton of acid (blotter) in the late 70's and early 80's as a teen, and then again in the late 90's (window pane and liquid eyedrops), and I just have to say, I, personally, have mixed feelings about this sort of thing being heralded as some sort of metaphysical panacea.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I became addicted to opiates in the mid 2000's and lived as a zombified-but-somehow-functional heroin addict for about 4 years.

There is no doubt, in my personal case, that acid and mushrooms (that I often hand-picked in cow pastures after rainstorms here in central Florida) gateway-ed me into harder, destructive "escapes", and for that reason, I cannot fully endorse this sort of thing.

I've had amazing trips where I literally felt as one with the group of friends I was chilling with and created deep, transcendent bonds, and I've had a select few shit ones where I felt totally alienated from every living soul (but not nature, interestingly) on earth.

They did expand my consciousness, but looking back, I see now that it introduced into my psyche a fairly deep distrust of authority and convention which, under sober scrutiny, perhaps did little to help me always successfully nagivate my life.

Treating the very sick and/or terminally ill with psychedelics makes great sense to me; anything to ease those pains, but my own experience makes me want to throw at least a dart of caution into the mix when it comes to making a blanket statement about the benefits of LSD and such.

snikeris 1 day ago 1 reply      
Includes an interesting account of Robert Jesse's (former Oracle VP, software engineer) efforts to resurrect this research:

When the history of second-wave psychedelic research is written, Bob Jesse will be remembered as one of two scientific outsiders who worked for years, mostly behind the scenes, to get it off the ground.

Pyret 1 day ago 3 replies      
I didnt want there to be an easy way out, she recently told me. I wanted him to fight.

Attitude that keeps everything stagnant and backwards.

state 1 day ago 2 replies      
"During each session, which would last the better part of a day, Mettes would lie on the couch wearing an eye mask and listening through headphones to a carefully curated playlistBrian Eno, Philip Glass, Pat Metheny, Ravi Shankar."

This strikes me as sort of funny. For someone completely unfamiliar with this stuff I would imagine encountering it to be pretty trippy on its own.

joncooper 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're interested in this, check out MAPS: http://www.maps.org/

They are doing a great deal to push this research forward and have been for decades.

benten10 1 day ago 2 replies      
While this is undoubtedly exciting, lets not forget what should be for us (specially people in the technology who have seen waves of the same 'fad' come over and go) this paragraph from the article:

>The first wave of research into psychedelics was doomed by an excessive exuberance about their potential. For people working with these remarkable molecules, it was difficult not to conclude that they were suddenly in possession of news with the power to change the worlda psychedelic gospel[...]It didnt take long for once respectable scientists such as Leary to grow impatient with the rigmarole of objective science. He came to see science as just another societal game, a conventional box it was time to blow upalong with all the others.

Special emphasis on the last sentence.

shanra88 1 day ago 1 reply      
Mention of "ego-less" state etc sound just like the teachings of hindu masters like Ramana Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj...
superobserver 1 day ago 2 replies      
Fascinating research. I just hope the same mistakes aren't repeated and a really rigorous and robust effort is made to find what sorts of applications these substances can be used for. I'm reminded of LSD microdosing by scientists to improve innovation that had been done before, but I am unaware of to what degree it really bore any viable fruit.
skidoo 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I learned more about the world from DMT than in all my years of school.
FranOntanaya 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The data are still being analyzed and have not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review"

Maybe the NewYorker could have waited for that to happen.

dwaltrip 1 day ago 1 reply      
With the proper approach and care, these substances can be incredibly powerful and beneficial. I can't wait until the research eventually forces the hand of those who mistakenly believe otherwise. Psylocybin and perhaps LSD should be legal on some level in our lifetime hopefully.
lorddoig 1 day ago 1 reply      
With other recent news in mind, I wonder what effect compounds like these might have on religious extremists. I wonder whether - assuming some kind of method of administration is figured out (a love bomb?) - they might stop burning people alive in cages after a decent trip.
bunkydoo 1 day ago 7 replies      
As someone who has done their fair share of psychedelics - I would feel like a coward consuming these substances if I had a terminal illness. If I knew damn straight that I was gonna die, I wouldn't want to numb it up with a substance. I'd want every minute of pain, suffering, and emotional baggage to be taken on with a sober mind.

But that is my personal choice. I would say it's probably a very positive thing on the other hand for people like Patrick who never consumed these substances. DMT might be the best one for someone who is dying, as it is hypothesized that pineal gland floods an endogenous version of this chemical into your bloodstream upon death. Consuming it prior to death could potentially work as a "practice run" to help cope with the real thing as sad as it sounds.

clapas 1 day ago 0 replies      
TL;DR I grow magic mushrooms myself and can asure there is a mystic experience on eating them. I do not eat them often, but it helps me everytime with a new perspective.
eli_gottlieb 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the drugs can have therapeutic uses. I'm also just as sure that they don't reveal any kind of metaphysical Higher Reality, and we should stop addressing them as if they did. They merely alter your brain functioning in certain ways.
lsdaccounthn 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Using a throwaway as while I'll talk openly to some friends/family, I don't want my handle and lsd to show up together on Google.

This is a story, an anecdote, and while my view on LSD is positive as a result, definitely shouldn't be read as an endorsement of my actions.

I'm the perfect example of somebody who shouldn't go near psychedelics. I've suffered depression most of my life, and was recently diagnosed as bipolar, though I've only had two real manic episodes. But.. I'm also someone who does stupid things, possibly because of not just despite those things. I've abused coke, benzodiazepines, mdma, alcohol and weed. But never to an extent people around me might notice a problem.

A little while ago, I fell in love with my best friend. It was really fucking hard to deal with (after a few months of hoping it would go away I told her, talked it through and we set about trying to get rid of the awkwardness of staying friends), harder than any other life/love problems I've had. For 6 months I was depressed, had no appetite.. I was forcing myself to eat one meal a day because despite never getting hungry I knew I needed to. Friends told me the appetite was related to my feelings, but I stubbornly dismissed that as pop science - meanwhile I was kind of happy about the appetite, as I was losing inches from my waist.

Then I took LSD for the first time. It was nothing like I'd expected it to be (in my imagination it would be like entering a new world, not just altering the way your mind works in the current world), but it was lovely. A few hours into that trip, I started thinking about my friend. I realised that while I still felt the same way about her.. it didn't hurt any more. It was like this clarity just appeared over the situation that there's nothing I can do about it, so I shouldn't let it hurt me. While under the influence I realised it would probably be back to normal when I woke up the next day, but then it wasn't. I woke up feeling the same way I had while tripping, went into the office, and by lunchtime I was feeling hungry for literally the first time in half a year.

Now I'm in a slightly different place. I'm no longer abusing <something> on a daily basis (the last thing to go was daily weed smoking). I've no interest in benzos or MDMA. I still love coke, but hardly ever do it (twice in the last 18 months, both times someone else's suggestion, both times I didn't want more the next day). And psychedelics... I haven't done them much lately, but have an order on-route from dark net markets of LSD and DMT, largely motivated by wanting some more internal soul searching.

I was hugely grateful to the LSD for that effect it had on me. I've used it quite a few times since then, though it's never made such an impact since. But lately I've been starting to feel down about her again. I don't know if it can help me again.

Long story short... I'm not saying any of my actions were/are sensible or the results deserved. Nor that LSD would help everyone who was in my situation. But as a single anecdote (and hopefully interesting story), it opened my eyes to believing in the sort of trials being described by this article. My pre-existing mental conditions mean I'm probably unlikely to get approved for anything like this, even when it reaches wider access, but if I could, I'd jump at the chance to go through psychedelic therapy with expert scientists guiding me rather than doing it on my own.

(Incidentally: who knows, maybe my next tab will turn me into a schizophrenic: but in the ~15 trips I've had on acid, I'm yet to have a single "bad trip". Same goes for the few times I've tried DMT.)

anonbanker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Replying as breadcrumbs to the militant anti-drug members of HN trolling the pro-drug threads.

Seriously. Look at his posting history.

AngrySkillzz 1 day ago 4 replies      
Problem? Drugs are interesting because the brain is interesting. As a community that probably collectively spends a lot of time thinking, an interest in the brain makes sense.
Testosterone is the drug of the future
points by mparramon  19 hours ago   268 comments top 27
davak 17 hours ago 16 replies      
MD here. Just remember that women live longer than men. Although it'll never be proven that hormones are part of that provess, I think it's a good assumption.

Many males as they get older become more lovable and more pleasent to be around because of natural hormone declines.

There are a ton of health issues such as balding, coronary artery disease, prostate cancer, obstructive sleep apnea that are related to testosterone. Whether these clinics can find the correct cocktail to find a healthy balance isn't clear.

I'm neither pro nor con. I've seen people who have been positively and negatively impacted by steroid supplementation.

freshfey 18 hours ago 9 replies      
As someone who went from 430 ng/dl to 1024 ng/dl naturally in about two years time (from age 23 to 25) the only thing I can say is don't jump to too many conclusions here.

- Your testosterone should be naturally high if you're below 30 (and male)

- If not, something is wrong and you need to fix it (start with blood work, check your diet, move)

- If you testosterone is in the normal ranges (blood work recommends between 600 and 1200, which is ridiculous), you'll feel good 80-90% of the time

- the 10-20% are probably psychological worries that you might have, start meditating

- I didn't get huge muscles or less body fat with more testosterone (huge myth that I thought would change for me)

- TRT is used heavily in pro-sports (look for UFC fighters and bodybuilders, they have the most experience, since a lot of them are doing it)

- TRT is a problem if you keep going for too long, because your body just doesn't produce testosterone as it used to, because it expects it from the outside, so below 35 or rather below 40 year olds: don't sign up for this too quickly.

- Cold showers/baths do work, but probably not for increasing your testosterone, still, do it from time to time :)

- Intermittent Fasting helps immensely with boosting your testosterone naturally.

I can provide more info or details/specifics if wanted/needed.

johnward 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm 28 now and I have hypogonadisn and have experience using T and other options like clomid. My total T was <120nd/dl. The lab range for this is usually 300-1000ng/dl. I was severely depressed. Moody and very angry. I experience "roid rage" in the opposite of what most people think. When my T is low I am a completely different, awful person. I literally thought I was going to kill myself.

I finally went to the doc. Got the blood work and was put ona low dosage of Testosterone. Enough to get me to the 500ng/dl range. My quality of life improved dramatically and I was the happy and productive person I used to be. I felt like I did in my early 20s instead of like I was approaching 50. Now I have to take clomiphene because the T kills my fertility. Clomid gets my hormones to the 500ng/dl range but I do not feel the same. My brain is "foggy". I'm not as sharp as I was. I'm up and down with my mood. On a higher dosage of clomid I even had experience where my brain just didn't make sane decisions. I rammed a car one time in traffic. I ran over my mailbox backing out of my garage, even though I did this thousands of times before.

Testosterone can be a miracle for some people. It saddens me that it get such a bad rep for being used/abused by athletes.

stevepotter 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I went through a major testosterone-related health scare when I was 31 (4 years ago). I was in the midst of launching a startup. Stressed out, financially strained, hardly sleeping, hardly exercising, drinking too much. I thought I was eating right but turns out I wasn't. I began feeling like an empty shell of my former self. And yes, it totally affected my sex drive. Went to doc and had blood work done. My test levels were about 200, which would be acceptable had I been 70 years old. I was terrified.

After ruling things out, the doc prescribed me Androgel, a gel-based test delivery system. You rub it on your shoulders and it absorbs in. But you have to be careful to not let it get on other people. I had a baby girl on the way and sat there thinking that I never want to worry about touching my wife or daughter. Plus this wasn't a temporary treatment. You are a slave to it, and pay about $10/day for it. Oh, and it turns out people, especially younger men, have a higher chance of stroke on that stuff. That's no life, so I decided to try and cure it naturally.

And I did. My testosterone is normal now (forget the exact number). And I feel great. It was simple. First, I started strength training. Weights, especially compound moves like squats, will build test levels. And helps with sleep. Check out stronglifts.com if you want a good starting point.

Second I fixed my diet. Check out the book The Perfect Health Diet. I learned I was not eating enough good fat. I started using more olive oil, coconut, ghee (butter), and quality rumen meat. It made a huge difference.

Finally I cut out the stress. The startup ended up not succeeding but that had nothing to do with me deciding to ease up. I'm happy I did and learned a valuable lesson that health comes first.

So there's my story. If you are going to supplement, be prepared for a long bumpy ride. And remember you can boost it naturally.

hellodevnull 16 hours ago 7 replies      
>I was just at the gym watching the 30-year-olds at the pull-up bar building muscles in three weeks. And Im at the pull up bar and nothings happening

While many of you are thinking that he's making excuses (he might be) or that the other guys worked long and hard to build muscle, I can relate: I've been lifting weights three times a week for the last four years. I still look average, and yes I'm eating and exercising properly.

I believe it might be something to do with testosterone. I was always skinny, high body fat and frail. I worked super hard to even start exercising, eventually I was able to get into routine but still now I feel like I should look much better after all this time.

What's the deal with testosterone in UK? I'm 27, is it likely that I can get it? Are there home test kits I can get (reliable ones)? Do testosterone boosters actually work (I can't verify without testing)?

ajarmst 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This article seems pretty imbalanced. Modifying your natural endocrine levels (and the decline of testosterone with age in men is natural) can have significant unanticipated long-term effects (witness the problem with estrogen replacement therapy in women).

A quick Google Scholar search pops up paper with titles like "Serum testosterone is associated with aggressive prostate cancer in older men", "Increased heart attacks in men using testosterone: the UK importantly lags far behind the US in prescribing testosterone", "High Estrogen in Men After Injectable Testosterone Therapy" and "A review on the relationship between testosterone and life-course persistent antisocial behavior". There is clearly medical literature that contradicts the rosy view indicated by the article's sources.

I would have liked to see the article discuss those issues and the associated studies.

jesstify 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Transwoman here, and I have some personal experience in this regard. I've been on T blockers for about 2 years, and I have seen significant mood, hair, and skin improvements, not to mention a lower resting heart rate. My chances of getting prostate cancer have been reduced to basically nil, which is pretty great. A significant portion of the benefits are from the estrogen, but just reducing bioavailable T does make a big difference in skin, mood, and hair.On the flipside, a close friend who is a transman (meaning he is on T), and when he went on it, he became very aggressive and prone to angry outburts, developed significant acne, and a very significant increase in body hair.So... ya know, just be careful so you don't end up having crazy moodswings and back-ne
normloman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this article misrepresents the research. At my last job at a small ad agency, I wrote ad copy for a group of doctors who were opening an "age management" clinic (and their treatments consisted almost entirely of testosterone injections). My impression, after pouring into the research, was that there's still a lot we don't understand about testosterone's role in aging. There were also studies finding an increased risks of heart attacks and stroke in people finding testosterone. It's possible these risks can be mitigated, and perhaps one day we will discover that testosterone really does fight aging. But if you're getting older, and still feel healthy, I see no reason to insist on T injections. (People with hypogonadism, transmen, and other people with special conditions still obviously need testosterone).

Just to give you an idea of who practices anti aging medicine, these same doctors also offered reiki, homeopathic medicine, and accupuncture. Their target market was rich older people, usually already in good health, who would spend any amount of money to "feel younger," which I assume meant improving their sex drive. Could just be a coincidence, but I wouldn't be surprised if these low level testosterone injections were found to be pseudoscience.

toadi 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Read about it 15 years ago in a Belgian magazine. A Belgian doctor was claiming the same.

To be quite honest I use it already for 15 years and indeed it changes you. It helps me to be in "sana in corpore sano". Let's hope the negative health impacts on long term are not to bet so my body stays sano :)

codingdave 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I am overly cynical, but...

There are a lot of reasons that people may be tired and not in optimal health as they age, testosterone being just one. So when testosterone comes around, and is being pimped by high-cost cash-only doctors, it looks to me as much of a way for a doctor who hates the current medical industry to escape it, and build a high income private practice, as much as a truly holistic approach to improving their patient's lives.

I just have some inherent distrust of people who get rich quick when I blindly accept whatever they are selling.

yummyfajitas 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone link to a gwern-style review of it?

Unfortunately a google search for the same just yields a bunch of T-Nation style spam aimed at wannabe bodybuilders.

DonCarlitos 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't forget that Testosterone "feeds" prostate cancer, and that most men will have one variety of prostate cancer or another by age 75. It's often slow growing, but if one feeds it, a different story. So potential "T" users should think twice about messing with this particular hormone.
return0 18 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if it is possible to compare today's T levels with men of 100 years ago or even more. It could be that the industrialization and urbanization has caused a massive change in T levels because of natural reasons (less sun, less exercise, less anxiety, processed foods, tight clothing, what have you)
dr_ 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Assuming there are a significant number of men on here who hope to some day have a family, it's inportant to note that a significant side effect of exogenous testosterone administration is male infertility. Simplified, the excess testosterone in the blood stream sends signals that shut down the hormones essential for sperm production. This may not matter if you are mid life or older and already have children, or if you don't plan on having any, but otherwise do NOT take exogenous testosterone.
Xcelerate 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a hard time believing this. My testosterone level is 1,114 ng/dL naturally and I sure don't feel pumped full of energy and ready to go all the time (I'm 24). And I was even a D1 athlete. All it means for me is a greater risk of prostate cancer (which both my grandfathers had). My doctor was concerned about it being that high.

Also, I think the rumors about men with high testosterone being aggressive or having a "player/alpha" mentality have been disproven; I don't remember which journal that study was in. I'm about the least aggressive person I know. If anything, I'm too passive and have a difficult time expressing what I want.

ninguem2 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Be very careful. Usually low T has no discernible cause but sometimes it is caused by a (treatable but potentially very serious) cancer of the pituitary called a prolactinoma. Testosterone treatment can mask the symptoms until is too late. See an endocrinologist before embarking on these "over the counter" treatments.
basicallydan 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I totally get the argument for using testosterone for sex changes.

But as a man who takes his health and fitness into his own hands, I can't help but wonder if something like testosterone would become slightly addictive. Is it something one can use to get out of a slump and then stop taking, or is it more that when one gets to a certain age, it becomes necessary for staying at desired fitness levels?

jriley 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I found DHEA in the natural aisle of local grocery store under $10. I take a low dose daily (in my early 30s). Worth researching.


tormeh 18 hours ago 3 replies      
It would be nice to have broader shoulders, but an increased sex drive sounds inconvenient. Life is just more dignified without so much neediness. I don't get why anyone (without a more sex-hungry partner, ie most men) would want that. Is it just a gender stereotype / bro thing?
adrianoconnor 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Presumably if you go this route you can't enter any organised sporting events or do any form of competitive racing? Just saying, because as you get older, if you start getting some fitness back you'll possibly want to start challenging yourself this way -- look how many vets enter triathlons and marathons, ride gran fondos etc. I'd see supplements like this as a last resort, for when a changed diet/exercise regime etc. haven't worked.
nether 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You can get (expensive) testosterone (DHT) cream from dhtcream.com. No prescription, legal everywhere.
whizzrd 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Read the leaflets for this product: side effects may differ depending on the region of application ;)

AU: http://www.besins-healthcare.com/pdf/testogel%20patient%20in...

US: http://www.besins-healthcare.com/pdf/androgel_PI.pdf

lafar6502 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what will be the effects of all these tons of testosterone goingh through humans into water, soil and all other organisms.
alecco 17 hours ago 4 replies      
This is quack science. I wouldn't exchange temporary muscular gains for getting bald and other nasty long term side effects.
6stringmerc 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Big fan of supplementation...growing up as a couch potato that medical professionals said should never, ever lift weights due to a physical handicap, I had a lot of body image issues. The fact I really enjoyed comic books didn't help my perception either. Just take a look for yourself and the way the Super Hero bodytype looks like. Straight up juiced[1].

Then, I started natural using a book from the library. Weightlifting actually helped manage a lot of my physical handicap - by being stronger, I was reducing the wear and tear on my body. Well, because I still wanted to break through to another level, I started researching supplements. Using the mind to grow the body.

Protein, Glutamine, BCAAs, Tribulus, ZMA - all of them are natural ways to increase physical strength and also grow into a lean, muscular person. They were good, and eventually I found my way to some PH products. If 19-Norandro was good enough for Mark McGwire (it wasn't he was on the real stuff, that was just a cover story), then I was game to try it! Worked great, enjoyed it but also knew that doing so over a long period of time would have side effects. Eventually 19-Norandro got banned. There are chemists doing great work in the field (I've got my eye on one vendor in particular), and they'll always be 1 step ahead of the law, IMO.

I did a couple more different products but never stacked to the point where I'd need PCT. Honestly, I think budget and liver damage fears were my driving motives. Just look at Arnold - he had to have heart surgery, and I'd bet a lot of money it's related to the muscle being exposed to years of heavy steroid doses[2].

These days I avoid PH or the juice outright. As I age, I might get back into the scene, but it's a crap shoot. There are far, far too many placebo type products out there, and the really good stuff has side effects that must be planned for, otherwise the whole quality of life part goes down, and where's the fun in that?

Overall, I'd say TRT/PH/Juice are definitely not for everybody, but they're not inherently evil. Sort of like alcohol. Not everybody can knock back a dozen beers during a weekend marathon session at home and still be productive / nice / etc, but it's possible depending on the individual.

[1] Freshman year of University the next door neighbor was a Pre-Med, about 5'2" and 205 lbs. We became pals and he let me in on the steroid secrets (cycling, GHB for sleep, etc). We did have a good laugh talking about how comic book characters reflected different steroids: Want to be Captain America? Deca. Wolverine? Winstrol. Sabretooth? Deca + Winstrol! It was a joke in a lot of ways, but kind of not...

[2] Arnold is coming! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sHvWYAzIRo

svantana 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me, or did this article completely assume that it's reader is male?
Show HN: Matterhorn Your new project manager
points by Linnea  1 day ago   204 comments top 58
SEMW 1 day ago 11 replies      
First thought: you've priced it quite ambitiously. A 10 user team would be $90/month, compared to $20 for JIRA + JIRA Agile, $42 for Asana premium, $50 for Trello business (or free for normal trello), $35 for Pivotal Tracker, ...

(Which isn't to say it necessarily should be cheaper, only that it seems surprising to see that price without any attempt to compare or justify why you believe that e.g. it's already, at launch, worth 3x as much as Pivotal Tracker).

eranation 1 day ago 2 replies      
Looks great, very appealing landing page, message is passed clearly.

Feedback stuff:

1) agree with pricing plan, too high for large teams

2) call for action - I saw the "sign in" button immediately, but had to scroll all the way down for sign up, will be nice to have a floating sign up button just next to sign in, and in the sign in page, have a link such as "not registered? sign up here" in case people click the wrong button.

3) this is more due to my personal taste, but no gmail sign up is lowering my will to spend time to test the product. I want to click click, play with it a few mins, and if it's good suggest it to my team. I don't have time to fill a form (I'm exaggerating a little, but this goes through a lot of people's mind, filling forms is annoying for some people)

4) I'd like to see a demo the product. having a dummy project that anyone can see with a "guest" login will be really great. (good if you are not willing to add gmail login for any reason)

5) if not a demo, at least a video. the gif is great, so I think a longer video will be even better, seems like a very slick UI.

all in all looks great, I like the hybrid approach, will give it a look.

adamgravitis 1 day ago 2 replies      
The rule of thumb with this kind of thing is you try to use plausible data in your screen shots. Having "moar project" and "even more project", and "super project" and "new project" makes it hard to envision what your product is really useful for.
dnlmzw 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think your landingpage looks good, but overall I have a hard time seeing exactly how it makes life easier for me.

I have worked in most of the roles you describe, but even after having scrolled to the bottom, I don't exactly understand how it is tailored to the roles.

What I was left with is that you have boards and progressbars. Doesn't really compare to the stuff I already use.

Maybe you could explain even better how each role can tailor an interface to meet their needs, and what you provide better than other software out there.

noodle 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The number of people balking at $9/mo in this thread is amazing. $9 is nothing compared to salaries. If it saves you 1 hour of productivity per month, you get 10x return on that cost straight away.
eastbayjake 1 day ago 3 replies      
The fact that this post has made it to #2 despite the huge number of PM tools out there reveals two things:

(1) Project Management is painful and the existing providers still don't fully grasp what the market needs/wants

(2) Matterhorn must be doing something right to get over the noise, so kudos to your team! For me, it's your realization that not everyone manages their workflow in the same way, so being able to coordinate while giving people their personal preferences is really powerful. I wish I could see a demo!

eterm 1 day ago 2 replies      
Disappointed to see it's a saas app with no ability to self-host. For project management I think information is too confidential to be using a third party cloud provider.

I'll keep it bookmarked though, perhaps my attitude in this regard is out of date.

uniclaude 1 day ago 1 reply      
This page does a very good job at explaining what this project is about. I'd like to have a comparison of features with the competition somewhere (on another page maybe?), but this is very good.

Interesting project, I'll give it a try.

dsr_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
No visible privacy/security policy. I'm going to trust confidential company information to somebody on the net who doesn't address privacy and security concerns on the very first page? No, I'm not.
thejosh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Your signup form no worky.

Mixed Content: The page at 'https://matterhorn.io/register' was loaded over HTTPS, but requested an insecure XMLHttpRequest endpoint 'http://api.matterhorn.dev/users.json'. This request has been blocked; the content must be served over HTTPS.app-6c6e7022ec9660d68ebd624054790399.js:3 sendapp-6c6e7022ec9660d68ebd624054790399.js:3 p.extend.ajaxapp-6c6e7022ec9660d68ebd624054790399.js:6467 (anonymous function)app-6c6e7022ec9660d68ebd624054790399.js:3 p.event.dispatchapp-6c6e7022ec9660d68ebd624054790399.js:3 g.handle.h

Bedon292 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks nice, but was sorely disappointed there was no self hosting option. I would be very interested if I could keep my data on my servers, but cannot move to this otherwise.
sergiotapia 1 day ago 1 reply      
This service looks really cool, I like that it's flexible for different preferences. Some guys on my team like Trello's columns better while others like full blown tickets a la JIRA.

Will you offer some sort of micro plan for small teams of 5 or 6?

Here's a good comparison of the various PM tools so you can compare Matterhorn to the established players. http://stackshare.io/stackups/trello-vs-asana-vs-basecamp-vs...

efriese 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like it. Here are a few thoughts:1. I agree about the price point. If it were $5 I might be a buyer. I know it's insignificant, but it adds up when you have a team of people.2. I would run this entire site on SSL. There's some good stuff to sniff here.3. I don't like having to type in the name of a project and clicking the + to get to the form. I would rather just click + and get the form. Didn't seem intuitive to me.4. When leaving comments on a feature, it was duplicating the comment. My username was there and then the same comment with blank user data.5. On the "dashboard" or whatever you want to call it, tickets that I have assigned to myself for today aren't showing up. I have to go to the planner.6. I clicked "Board" and then all of the links died. Refresh got me to the board.7. When I move things in the Planner, they don't seem to take effect. I can't seem to get a ticket into Today.

Overall, I like what you've done here. I like being able to segment by customer and the board. Simple interface that is good once you learn the workflow.

Jun8 1 day ago 6 replies      
I've been looking for a long a time for a good PM software that is standalone (personal use) or can be self-hosted (easy setup a must). Cloud hosting is a show-stopper when you're in a large company.
Maro 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Designer, Developer, Copywriter, Project Manager, Strategist, Accountant, Client Relations"

Maybe it'd be better to concentrate on one usa-case. Say Accountant. That way you have more focus. Once you talked to 10-100 accountants and made sure the product is good for them, move on to the next use-case.

bdg 1 day ago 0 replies      
From a sales perspective I can't tell the difference between this and trello in less than 60 seconds.

When I load the page I see I can "try it" but I don't want to invest the time. Show me exactly why your product is going to be more valuable and worth the time to migrate over.

fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 1 reply      
How about educational licensing? I'm forever trying to fit real PM tools into my curriculum but it is hard to do.

Also subscriptions are really hard to deal with at an .edu, and at 16weeks/semester (14 really) so 4 months x $9.00 x nStudents

q2 1 day ago 0 replies      
As others listed, in project management space, there are already various tools like Jira,Asana ...etc.

Personally, this space appear more crowded. So far, I have read only positive feedback on existing tools like Jira/trello ...etc and I have not read many bad experiences (may be I have limited exposure). Is there really a window/space for new entrant?

To the current users of other tools: Are these tools (Jira/trello ...etc) fundamentally different to each other or just incremental differences while fundamentally similar?

catern 1 day ago 0 replies      
> You all have slightly different workflows: workflows that enable you to do your thing in the best way possible.

> You could force everyone to track their time and their progress in exactly the same way, even if it doesn't fit their workflow

These lines briefly made me hopeful that this was some clever layer in front of all the various project management systems that would allow them to talk to each other.

I would value this because I vastly prefer the seemingly uncommon terminal-based workflow, and such a layer would presumably be able to talk to Emacs org-mode or whatever, just as it talks to Jira.

As it is, this is just another project management system that doesn't fit my workflow.

benmccann 1 day ago 1 reply      
I got a 404 when clicking the reset password link that was emailed to me.

The create new project button was broken.

It's unclear what the pricing is. The homepage says $9/user/month. When I logged in I think the price was 9/user/month

cpursley 1 day ago 5 replies      
Isn't project management software a solved problem already?

Seems like all this effort on these type of pm systems could have been applied to some niche market that's still using custom MS Access systems built in the early 2000s.

kudu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do you have any discounts or even free hosting for nonprofits? I run one which could really benefit from something like this but it's way out of our budget.
frik 1 day ago 2 replies      
A British SaaS named after a mountain in Switzerland. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matterhorn

It seems Uber started a new hype repurposing German words. The opposite is happening in German speaking countries: "handy" for cell phone and "public viewing" for watching a live TV event on a projected wall.

Can one integrate his mailbox? Outlook and MS project server/Sharepoint are a good example, though there is room for improvements.

capex 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's so attractive about project management tools? Why do we see so many companies doing the same thing with slight variations?
karka91 1 day ago 1 reply      
I see nothing about integrations or an API. Thats a bit dissapointing
emiller829 1 day ago 2 replies      
This may be nitpicking, but I really liked the marketing material here, aside from this phrase:

"Do you need a way to divide your resources across multiple projects[...]"

It's a pet peeve of mine that so many processes and tools use the phrase "resource" in place of person. It may not have been what was meant by "resources" here, but that's how it reads.

How about:

"Do you need a way to manage multiple projects[...]"


"Do you need a way to divide your time between multiple projects[...]"

gk1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can you explain the benefits of using this over any of the other project management apps like Trello and Basecamp?

Also: The centered text is annoying to read when there's a series of paragraphs.

peterevans 1 day ago 0 replies      
Definitely more information about your integrations would be really helpful. For software like this, having an integration with Zendesk to bring tickets into the tracker or Github Issues into the tracker is essential; to the point where having an open API is great, but you're probably going to have to do the legwork for those integrations.

Having said that, I think there's a lot of room for improvement in the issue tracking space. Good luck!

Animats 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aw, it's just a project management tool. I was expecting a automated project manager, like Microsoft Middle Manager 3.0.
apunic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see that many upvotes and comments--can anyone summarize in few bullets why this tool is superior to the hundreds of other project management tools?

The landing page and product though very nice and stylish seem not offer any outstanding feature or did I miss something?

Edit: this comment was downranked in the thread in less than 50 seconds, anyone has an idea why?

devonoel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Honestly, my biggest issue with this landing page is the dummy text in the screenshots. Its nitpicking for sure, but it would look nicer if you took the time to give the projects realistic names in the screenshots and whatnot. Also that Sign In button needs another 5-10px of margin at the top.

Otherwise its a very nice landing page in my opinion.

cheald 1 day ago 0 replies      
The screenshots need to be not-test-data. Make up some fake company with fake tasks; looking at screenshots of a development environment leave me underwhelmed.

What I want to know is "Why should I use this over Asana?"; the copy doesn't address it, and the screenshots leave me unsure as to the specific use cases for the product.

subpixel 1 day ago 2 replies      
First thought: show me more app when I load your page, less aspirational lifestyle props. (Is that a moustache brush?)
cvburgess 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if this does (or has plans to) integrate with GitHub / GitHub issues? I have a pretty similar setup with Trello right now that feeds off of various repos, but this would be a simpler setup if it integrated nicely.
colinmegill 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel like this is already picked apart by more focused competitors that already exist. For instance, the todos part of this app is competing with Todoist et. al., the kanban board competes with Trello et. al., etc.
untilHellbanned 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks nice but sign in being http, whereas landing page being https is backwards.
ssmoot 1 day ago 0 replies      
The copy needs a fair bit of work. It needs to be more brief. The sentence fragments are difficult to read. It only works if I imagine two voices, like one of those commercials employing a fake conversation.
dccoolgai 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks promising. Seems vaguely Trello-ish. Can you compare and contrast? Specifically, why would I pay for this when I get Trello for free? And Trello has a really good API. Anything comparable here?
teh_klev 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a "project management" tool, can this do critical path analysis, resource allocation, Gantt charts (gotta love a Gantt chart) etc. The usual PM stuff we use in MS Project?
Linnea 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for giving Matterhorn a chance! It's really good for us to see feedback on the price point. We've been completely bootstrapped up to this point and are trying to find a price point that would be good for our users but at the same time generate what we need to keep the project going and allow us to refine and develop it's features.

Would be great to hear any feedback you have on the features, as you seem to know what you want from pm tools.

saukrates 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks interesting, but lack of task dependency would be a deal breaker. One of the reasons our team has stuck with Smartsheets.

I agree with earlier comment asking for a demo project.

sdrothrock 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are there any tools like this that support Japanese? The only one I've found so far is JIRA.
LandoCalrissian 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks very nice. Small deal, but the web fonts appear to be getting blocked for me so you may want to host those on the same domain. Keep up the good work!
temuze 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd make it freemium, like Slack or Trello. I'm hesitant to sign up for anything or pay for something without trying it.
digital-rubber 19 hours ago 0 replies      
While reading others' first thoughts,

My first thought was hey is this an add-on for gitlab? Does look a lot like it. So my initial quest was to look where i could download the community edition of this, but there is not?

teachingaway 1 day ago 2 replies      
Gray text on a light-gray background is difficult to read.


Guthur 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I was really hoping from the title that I could finally find a way to get rid of our PMs.

But it's just another SCRUM/agile board which seem to just give PMs the means to layer more complex processes on top of my job.

hsuresh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats on the launch! How is it different from asana/trello and a host of other tools? Why should someone use this over those tools?

All the best!

brandon272 1 day ago 1 reply      
Get a demo online ASAP. I have no interest in signing up, confirming email, etc. just to see what the product even looks like.
tehabe 1 day ago 1 reply      
why is it so hard to tell who is making all this, where are they, where is this app hosted, where is the company.

I mean this is not aimed at causal users but to people who might want to use this on a daily basis with very important stuff.

And they are suppose to trust an anonymous website?

This is really confusing for me.

thejosh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Really cool.

Looks like Asana?, but with a focus for agencies who have multiple projects / deadlines?

pritianka 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Love the name
schuettla 17 hours ago 0 replies      
interface looks nice and slick. gonna give it a try
amalhotra123 1 day ago 2 replies      
registration page doesn't work
higherpurpose 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would you be able to offer it for free for up to 5 members? I figure this would spread the word of mouth quicker and once startups begin using it, and have enough money after they increase their team beyond 5 members, they'll just upgrade to it, rather than switch.

Or do you think free members aren't worth the hassle?

VLM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looks intra-team. How does it handle inter-team access control and/or some kind of read only for non-paying users who just want to know whats up?
AngryMike 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's really annoying viewing a website (especially one that asks for cash) and not finding a page that talks about the team members behind the project. No accountability, No way I'd sign up
niels_bom 1 day ago 2 replies      
Side note:

The avatars are quite stereotypical: male developer, female designer, male project manager. Why don't you switch it up? There's female developers too.

The curious case of disappearing Polish S
points by radley  2 days ago   117 comments top 23
blahedo 1 day ago 8 replies      
I do not have sufficient profanity in my verbal arsenal for websites that override basic, fundamental browser behaviour because they think they know better than I do what I actually meant to do. I have noticed Medium being a regular perpetrator of this sort of broken behaviour before.

That one of the developers at Medium could run into such a glowing example of one of the many reasons it's nasty to override browser behaviour, and take the lesson from it that oh hey, we just need to make our override logic more complicated... the blindness and idiocy and sheer bloodymindedness of this response I just can't even.


kosma 2 days ago 2 replies      
I initially planned to put a TL;DR here, but it's the best bug analysis I've seen in months - a pleasure to read! - so I'm leaving it for others to savour.

The very same bug used to be present in early Windows mobile GPU drivers - with global hotkeys making it impossible to enter (with Intel GMA 950) and (with ATI Catalyst). Being a Polish geek, I used to earn lots of free dinners from frustrated friends who were forced to copy-paste those letters on their brand new laptops. Funny how the same bug recurs in different types of software due to an obscure locale-dependent edge case - and it's much less known than, for example, the Turkish dotted/dotless I.

seppo0010 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think the article is too verbose when knowing the context the bug is trivial: you intercepted meta+s and ctrl+s and in the way you broke alt+s.

I find the save dialog useless for web browsers as well, but I think preventing its use is a bad idea in general. Overriding the browser's shortcut is uncomfortable. For example, wordpress likes to capture cmd+<number> to change the font style, but that's how I usually change the active tab. It also disables ctrl+tab, the other way I use to escape while the text area is active.

People use their browsers and have their workflow in them. Breaking them needs to have a really good excuse. http://xkcd.com/1172/

nathell 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Our extra characters might look very much like Latin equivalents, and amount to only about 8% of letter distribution (you will hate them playing Scrabble)

Polish competitive Scrabble player here. It's not so much hate as a love-hate relationship. While it can be frustrating to be left with a vowelless rack containing a in the endgame, for the most part these letters are quite desirable. Indeed, three of them (, , ) are vowels worth 5 points each, and only two of them ( and ) don't appear in any two-letter word. Even the is fairly easy to get rid of, given an open enough (read: not completely blocked) board. They're nowhere near as irritating as the Q (and to a lesser extent Z) in English Scrabble.

Sami_Lehtinen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Noticed similar issues with official Australian VISA / immigration pages. You can't simply fill some forms with your email address using Finnish keyboard. Why? Because they block usage of AltGr button on their page. They also prevent using clipboard blocking copy paste option for that sign. User has to be smart enough to switch to US keyboard and then enter @ sign and then switch back. So this is nothing new, but it's absolutely rude from part of the site designers to vandalize basic functionality like that. Normally @ is produced by AltGr + 2. I guess they got BOFH department, let's make this really annoying and prevent people from getting their business done, laugh.
V-2 1 day ago 3 replies      
"While France, Germany, and other countries got their early PC with customized keyboards whose layouts mirrored closely the typewriters that came before [...] in Poland, we had to find another way of inputting the extra 9 diacritics unique to our language."

Did we? I dare to say that your historical account is inaccurate. We stuck to our traditional layout for a while. What does it matter if the keyboard wasn't customized in physical sense anyway? You should be looking at the screen, not at the keys. If I recall well, Polish typewriter layout (PN-87) was still available on Windows 95/98. The now prevalent >Alt + something< one was called "programmer's layout", and the name itself indicates that it wasn't originally thought of as everyman's layout.

Domestic software certainly used the typewriter layout - for instance http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/TAG_%28edytor_tekstu%29, once a very popular word processor for PC, last version released in 1996.

The typewriter layout finally got extinct, but what spelled its ultimate demise was the internet, I believe.

Early netiquette actually forbid using Polish diacritics, because of encoding issues - in that era you could never be sure whether the other person would read "gwd" or "gwd", so it was considered good practice to stick to Latin characters only.

Meaning that users didn't get to feel the pain of having to press Alt + whatever all the time, and so they got hooked on default QWERTY.

As the last of Mohicans, I use the typewriter layout to this very day (for typing in Polish; I alternate), only I had to recreate it myself (using Microsoft Keyboard Layout Editor)*

It allows for much faster typing in compare to these inconvenient right-Alt shortcuts. Swapping Y with Z by itself is a win for a Polish speaker (writer), given that Z is much more common in Polish. While its frequency is at mere 0.07% in English, it reaches 4.9% in Polish, placing it in the top 10. Thus putting it under the weakest finger of all - your left pinky - isn't very considerate.


* Funnily enough - I'm not flame baiting - when I decided to try Linux, hailed for its customizability, I found out that recreating my favorite layout wasn't as easy. I got lots of advice on various forums, but noone had a simple receipt for me. Admittedly this was few years back.

hawat 1 day ago 1 reply      
1) There is something called "polish typewriter keyboard", now is more like a unicorn than computer part but... I really had one in 1995. 2) in `80 Poland produce some computers "on it`s own", like elwro:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/65/Elwro_800...And they had polish typewriter keyboard...3) And, there was a polish made clone of IBM PC:http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mazovia_%28komputer%29#mediavie...and, yes - it has a polish typewriter keyboard...
qewrffewqwfqew 2 days ago 3 replies      
Yet another example of why websites shouldn't be able to hijack keys that have meaning outside them (in the browser itself, or in the desktop environment). It still blows my mind that browsers permit this and don't provide an easy option to stop such abusive (and dangerous!) behaviour.

The workaround is typical of web stuff as well: deal with the symptoms one by one while leaving the underlying problem unquestioned.

dredmorbius 1 day ago 1 reply      
Or, as I found on a BBC news page earlier today (and reported via feedback), my middle mouse button on link to open in new tab wasn't -- the page was opening in the present tab.

Don't break user controls.

Seriously. Fucking. Annoying.

The tendency of sites to also force all links to open in a new tab is similarly annoying. I've got the means to choose. Leave it to me.

Another argument for disabling JS pretty much everywhere.

59nadir 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The much bigger problem is that browsers out there are crap and won't let you re-map your keys as you want them.

How is it that we're well into the 2010's and I still can't get (my own) emacs keybindings in Firefox/Chrome without some silly extension that doesn't work 100%?

I can download uzbl, dwb or any other browser like it and edit my keys as I see fit, for emacs/vim keybinding behavior, without limits.

I don't know about Medium, but I also find that most websites have these hidden shortcuts and you can't even re-map those. Why is there no choice in all this? Browser developers and websites can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on UX/UI research, but can't figure out that I might want to re-map some keybindings.

Spoom 2 days ago 0 replies      
What an interesting article. I don't think many people outside of our field realize how obscure some bugs can be, and the lengths needed to diagnose them. Not every bug, of course; not even 95% of bugs. But every now and again, you get something that really tries your problem solving skills... and inevitably it ends up being something small like not checking the state of every meta key.
ojanik 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is how you type euro sign on a lot of keyboard layouts, no communism needed.

Looking at your code, you're also blocking Win+S on Windows and Ctrl+S on Mac for no good reason.

Extrapolating from your experience: What about shift key?

When you decide to block default behaviour, do your research, not everyone is on a Mac with American layout.

cysun 1 day ago 1 reply      
I use regularly English, German and Romanian. I find it easier to learn using the two extra standard layouts (not the programmer version) and change between them by ALT-SHIFT than pressing ALT-X for every diacritic. The WPM count falls drastically using the ALT key all the time.
zokier 1 day ago 4 replies      
While most commentary is (fairly) focused on browser behavior and keyboard hijacking, I'd point out another viewpoint: why the frak does every latin alphabet using nation need its own keyboard layout? Couple of diacritics is hardly a good reason to reshuffle the whole keyboard.
viraptor 2 days ago 0 replies      
> To find room for the extra letters, typewriters needed to dispense with some punctuation, most notably semicolons (comma + backspace + colon), and parentheses (replaced in common use by slashes).

I've seen the slashes-as-parentheses on many (mostly older) documents before, but never knew why. Suddenly this makes so much sense. Unfortunately what makes less sense is official translators still using // for () these days.

odiroot 1 day ago 2 replies      
Oh nice, an article about my native language on HN's front page.

Currently living in Germany I actually find our approach to special characters really elegant. I was surprised how much different are German (and French) keyboards.

I wonder whether these different layouts can affect for example your programming prowess.

CalRobert 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reading this reminded me of how incredibly annoying it is that new OS'es don't always underline the shortcut key. It's maddening! I can't seem to get it to work in Unity; auto-mnemonic true or false makes no difference.
frik 1 day ago 0 replies      
German keyboard has the AltGr key too, it like pressing Ctrl + Alt, though there is no special character mapped on the "s" key.
w__m 1 day ago 0 replies      
still, how about choosing font that does support latin-ext characters properly for medium.com/polish ?

just saying.

DogeDogeDoge 1 day ago 2 replies      
We Polish people have a hard language :(
rvennar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ok, but Polish is a dying language, so I don't think it matters that much.
moron4hire 1 day ago 0 replies      
I first learned about this issue while working on Primrose.

Things get really hairy in the browser when you start talking about JavaScript, the keyboard, and international support.

For example, there is no way to know what keyboard layout a user is using. With Primrose, I guess based on the user's default language, but even that isn't perfect as a lot of not-US English speakers just show up as "en", with no further locale description, so I also provide a select list with all of the available choices.

It's very difficult to know with certainty what character a user is intending to type. KeyCode 51 with no modifier keys is "3" on most keyboards, except French, where it is "#" (they essentially swap the casing of the number row).

The number pad numbers send different keycodes than the number row numbers, but the number pad arrows (if you turn off the numlock) send the same keycodes as the arrow keys.

In languages with deadkey support for diacritics (such as French and German), the deadkey keyCode isn't sent until the second key is typed. Then, they are sent in rapid succession.

There is absolutely no way to know what is going on with IMEs.

And there is no reliable way to interact with the soft keyboard on mobile devices. Some versions of soft keyboards don't send the arrow key keyCodes. There is no standardization of what keys should be available, so you can't guarantee that your user will easily be able to type your shortcuts (I know of only one keyboard on Android that even has CTRL or ALT). And it's nearly impossible to know how much space the soft keyboard is going to take up on the screen (you can figure it out on Android, eventually. It's impossible on iOS.).

So, you have one of two choices, if you're trying to implement any sort of browser-based application that involves heavy use of the keyboard.

Option 1: You can either create a hidden, surrogate text area in which the user actually types, unbeknownst to them, and run a sync process between the content they type and the content you display. This has several problems: you have to wait for keyUp to activate shortcut commands. The sync process can be costly (especially in the context for which Primrose exists: WebVR) and it is difficult to keep the cursor view in sync when dealing with mouse/touch interactions. Oh, speaking of pointer actions, you have to make sure your surrogate text area is positioned exactly under the displayed text field, with the text appearing the same apparent size as the displayed text, because when it gains focus the browser will scroll the view to it.

But it will work, except for certain use cases. It won't work well on mobile, and it won't play nicely with WebVR (which is the entire point of Primrose, anyway), especially for Asian users using an IME.

So Option 1 isn't a good option.

Option 2: completely reimplement the key input stack, i.e. create all the keyboards and soft keyboards and IMEs your users will ever need. Completely ignore what the OS and the browser tell you, take only the raw keyCodes, and reconstruct what is happening. It's a lot of work, a lot to debug, but at least there is a path to actually solve every problem.

guard-of-terra 2 days ago 2 replies      
I would theorize that second used slavic language is not Ukrainian but Serbo-Croatian, at risk of getting hated by everybody mentioned.

It also has a rare property of coming with two alphabets - cyrillic and latin.

PyPy 2.5.0 released
points by cyber1  1 day ago   62 comments top 9
aidos 18 hours ago 2 replies      
"We would like to thank our donors for the continued support of the PyPy project, and for those who donate to our three sub-projects, as well as our volunteers and contributors (10 new commiters joined PyPy since the last release). Weve shown quite a bit of progress, but were slowly running out of funds. Please consider donating more, or even better convince your employer to donate, so we can finish those projects! The three sub-projects are:"

PyPy are doing such incredible work and they seem to ask for very little in the way of funding to make it happen (and they're very explicit about where they're going to spend the money).

Why is it that there aren't more donations from the industry? Is it just a marketing issue? Do they need to do a snazzy kickstarter video to build the hype?

Fede_V 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm really looking forward to the numpy specific announcements. Numpy is THE basic building for every single scientific library - if pypy can get a high performance numpy, that will go a long way towards allowing scientific users to use pypy (there is still the detail of libraries that use the c-api to wrap c libraries, but cffi is pretty neat).
kbd 1 day ago 4 replies      
Congrats to the PyPy team on what sounds like a pretty big release!

Something in the release notes caught my eye:

> The past months have seen pypy mature and grow, as rpython becomes the goto solution for writing fast dynamic language interpreters.

I asked this question[1] on the Perl 6 thread from a few days ago but didn't get an answer. Does anyone know why on earth the Perl 6 folks created yet another dynamic language VM+JIT with MoarVM instead of taking advantage of all the great work done with PyPy? Does anyone know whether PyPy was even considered as a target before writing MoarVM?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8982229

mrmagooey 1 day ago 1 reply      
Assuming trunk and 2.5.0 are roughly the same thing it seems like a decent performance increase http://speed.pypy.org/
rcarmo 1 day ago 1 reply      
FYI, you'll still need to compile a specific gevent branch if you want to use it with this. lxml built fine, uWSGI seems OK too (except for the lack of gevent workers in my build).

Things seem adequately speedy, haven't investigated the network throughput tweaks yet.

bmoresbest55 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very exciting. I will have to look into using PyPy more regularly.
ldng 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Now if only someone could fix swig to be compatible with Pypy ..
ngoldbaum 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have any experience with numpypy? Is it useful for real work yet?
tbrock 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wish you could compile scons with pypi.
Layoff Underway at IBM
points by ajarmst  1 day ago   186 comments top 19
obtino 1 day ago 6 replies      
Before the IBM apologists start commenting:I was an IBM employee a few years ago and I would never recommend it as a good place to work. You were constantly worried about your job and there were cuts to basic resources all the time. It's not at all surprising to see this happen. IBM only cares about its shareholders and not its employees or customers.
Jgrubb 1 day ago 5 replies      
> Of course, the appearance of the situation, in the eyes of employees and the public, is not being helped by the fact amid IBMs actions comes the boards announcement on Friday of a big raise for CEO Ginni Rometty.
smackfu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Reminder that Cringeley's original claim from Jan 22nd was:

To fix its business problems and speed up its transformation, next week about 26 percent of IBMs employees will be getting phone calls from their managers. A few hours later a package will appear on their doorsteps with all the paperwork. Project Chrome will hit many of the worldwide services operations. The USA will be hit hard, but so will other locations. IBMs contractors can expect regular furloughs in 2015. One in four IBMers reading this column will probably start looking for a new job next week. Those employees will all be gone by the end of February.

Now he's trying to spin that he never said "layoffs". Not sure why the IEEE is still trusting him.

anonbanker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nobody ever got fired for choosing IBM.

Except as an employer.

Someone1234 1 day ago 3 replies      
But nobody will admit that there is a massive ageism problem in technology..? It is nice that some countries have moved to protect against ageism, it is an extremely common problem that few wish to address or take seriously.
mkozlows 1 day ago 3 replies      
"IBM said there would be thousands of layoffs. We believe there have been 5,000 layoffs. Clearly IBM was lying."


TeMPOraL 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wait what... does that mean that management at IBM suddenly realized they don't need 1/4 of the company? Since they rather won't be hiring new people in place of all laid off, I wonder what is going on there? Did they recently have an extremely successful merger with a very similar company? Did 1/4 of the company provide zero output? Or did Watson get so good it can actually replace engineers and sales people?
sciurus 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ouch. I lived in Columbia, Missouri for a couple years starting in 2012. The IBM office had just opened in 2010 and was a big deal. The city and state gave them large tax incentives to open it there. If IBM really laid of 150 people in it, that's a huge cut.



kjs3 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Cringly said in his article that a quarter of the IBM workforce would "get their paperwork" to be laid off in the last week of January or so. He was very specific and he's not even close. At some point, the layoffs may total a quarter of the workforce, but that's not what his histrionic diatribe said. If he now gets to backpedal and "restate" what he said and be right in his predictions, then so were the forecasters who said New York was going to be buried in snow and yet only got dusted.

People have been predicting the imminent death of IBM, with detailed litanies of the myriad of ways it's unrecoverable failures, pretty much every day of the 30 years I've been in IT. The thing about predicting the end of the world, is that if you do it long enough and lack the humility to be ashamed of all the times you were wrong, you'll eventually get to be right.

aceperry 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be nice to hear from honest IBM managers, who are doing the firing and downgrading of employees, what is really going on. Though I'm pretty sure most people know what the score is.
bronson 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is the tone of the comments on this story so different from those of just last week?


One hypothesis... some of the IBM managers who were commenting on that story now realize Cringely was at least partly right?

bhouston 1 day ago 1 reply      
Still no real confirmation of figures but I guess there is purposeful obfuscation here.
orionblastar 1 day ago 0 replies      
IBM didn't take the microcomputer seriously, until it saw how well Apple did and then made an IBM PC to compete with it.

They made a deal with Microsoft for DOS, but didn't make the deal exclusive so Microsoft sold their own version of DOS to the PC Cloners.

IBM made the PS/2 series with Microchannel as Clone Killers. VGA was a better video, and Creative Labs had the Sound Blaster for better audio. IBM's Microchannel flopped because people wanted to still use their ISA cards. IBM had OS/2 and Microsoft had their own version of OS/2 and Windows, and Microsoft took their OS/2 NT 3.0 and made Windows NT 3.1 out of it and stabbed IBM in the back for a second time.

IBM sold their printer line to Lexmark, and their PC X86/X64 line to Lenovo, IBM didn't know how to turn a profit on them.

When IBM couldn't supply the PowerPC chips to Apple for their Macintosh line, because IBM was making PowerPC chips for video game consoles as a priority, Apple switched to Intel chips. Then later video game consoles switched to Intel or AMD chips. IBM open sourced their PowerPC chips eventually.

IBM bought out Lotus and basically ran it into the ground and let Excel replace Lotus 123, and Lotus Smartsuite was never updated to compete with Microsoft Office and for modern Windows systems so it fell away and IBM forked OpenOffice.Org to make Lotus Symphony. That also went nowhere.

IBM still earns money from mainframes and contract support. I think IBM got into Linux and Java contracting as well.

But IBM has changed over the decades and it is not the same company it once was. It fell into a trap of maximizing shareholder values rather than making the customer experience a better one like Apple did. Microsoft also suffers from the same sort of thing that IBM does which explains why Microsoft Surface sales tanked.

IBM needs a big reboot, and to focus on making the customer experience better. Mobile apps is an area they could focus on, make the IBM Cloud and then make IBM Lotus Symphony for iOS and Android and store the documents on the IBM Cloud and offer subscriptions for more storage. They should also make Lotus Domino and Lotus Notes for mobile devices, and make a set of developer tools to make Android and iOS apps easier to program.

rodgerd 1 day ago 0 replies      
So maybe not uncritically accepting IBM's press releases would be a good idea?
e0m 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a remarkable collapse from the "Big Blue" of the 1960s. Is there really anything sexier then then thought of brand new IBM 360 getting loading into a PanAm jet-powered aircraft.
akurilin 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this impact SoftLayer in any way?
Elrac 1 day ago 0 replies      
A goodly chunk of the company I work at was recently sold to IBM. Not my chunk, but still - color me deeply un-reassured!
q2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Recently, Apple announced highest quarterly income in corporate history and now, IBM is going through biggest layoffs in corporate history. It seems to be the season of superlatives in corporate history.

But what a contrast between Apple and IBM!!!

drawkbox 1 day ago 1 reply      
IBM seems like it would be a terrifying place to work, Initech level. With the 1,2,3 system there is also probably tons of project protectionism going on, and you probably have to wear a tie.
Ross Ulbricht Convicted of Running Silk Road as Dread Pirate Roberts
points by DavidChouinard  8 hours ago   248 comments top 15
comex 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a good explanation of how the defense totally screwed up:


Basically, the evidence was massively damning, so their only serious hope of winning was by challenging the curiously nonspecific way the FBI found the Silk Road server; but they gave up their ability to do so for some dubious benefits.

freakyterrorist 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Hardly surprising, his defense was in tatters after having his experts denied and his line of inquiry into mark karples blocked. The prosecution tracing bitcoins directly from silk rd to his personal wallet was just icing on their cake. This is a warning to everyone involved in these enterprises, OPSEC OPSEC OPSEC!!!
rdl 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Anti-forensics seem like a good idea if you're running a transnational drug empire. A simple electronic leash would have gone a long way; some level of compartmented logins, such that when you're sitting in a cafe you're not always logged in with all of your credentials (probably separated by VMs), would be the next step after that.

Using online tools correctly to becoming a subject of in-person investigation would have been of course great, too, but there should be strong backstops before "convicted" as well.

(Or you could just not do the crime.)

damon_c 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Obviously he broke the law and was not the most morally pure individual.

But, what about 100 years from now? Do you think the people of the future will think we are being silly to put him in prison for 25+ years for running an unregulated online marketplace?

brotoss 8 hours ago 5 replies      
So is life in prison a possibility?
recibe 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ross made the decision, now Ross pays the price.

Lots of people could have done this, and lots of people were smart enough not to.

notadocta 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I want to feel bad for the guy, almost, but I don't.

I just wish he got away with it, I wish he were smarter about it.

eyeareque 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The story of Silk Road and Ross Ulbricht will make for a great movie.
mark-r 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Extradition is a thing too. You don't have to live in the US to break laws in the US, and you can bet that the government would have stopped at nothing to shut him down.
jMyles 7 hours ago 8 replies      
It's hard for me to have anything but contempt for this entire proceeding. None of these actions are a crime in a free society. And if they were, there'd be no need to dictate what can and can't be introduced as a defense. No "politics?" What garbage. Every line of code that DPR wrote was political.

Free Ross.

jqm 7 hours ago 6 replies      
He seems like a smart guy and a good guy overall...(yes, I know he allegedly attempted to hire a hit-man and we can't tolerate crime etc. etc.).

It's a shame to see his entire life wasted for an (admittedly rather large) youthful indiscretion. I keep thinking there has to be a more efficient, a more just way of discouraging criminal activity.

As an aside... Sometimes it apparently doesn't pay to be overly smart. Or rather, smart enough to get into trouble, but not smart enough to avoid the dangers.

bunkydoo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Could have seen that coming long long ago.
pcrh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like he's going to have to learn how to break out of jail...
ffn 8 hours ago 0 replies      
RIP in pieces, Dread Pirate Roberts, the Blackbeard of our era. May we meet again in 5 or so years on the silver screen.
lectrick 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> and even tried to arrange the murder of five people who threatened the anonymity of buyers and sellers.

1) No one was murdered

2) If drug trade was somehow regulated legally and decriminalized like in Portugal instead of being outright illegal, there would be no perverse incentive to murder to begin with... and there would probably also be no incentive for a Silk Road

When is US law going to realize that overly strict punishments (come on, does this guy really deserve life in prison?) simply create a perverse incentive to harm in order to ensure people stay quiet, and that creating black markets results in negative externalities? If the punishments were less severe (or even simply allowed but highly taxed/regulated) then there would be less murder of witnesses, period.

I can't find a tremendous amount of evidence around this, except for this: https://www.econ.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/yablon_dan...

(I think I'm becoming libertarian?)

Harper Lee to publish Mockingbird 'sequel'
points by InternetGiant  1 day ago   77 comments top 18
chimeracoder 1 day ago 3 replies      
I was incredibly excited to see this news upon seeing the headline in the New York Times, and surprised, because Harper Lee has been a recluse for almost her entire life since writing To Kill a Mockingbird, and has repeatedly insisted that she had no desire to publish another book ("I wouldn't go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill a Mockingbird for any amount of money. Second, I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again."[0])

After doing a bit of digging, however, I'm a bit concerned. Now, Lee is almost 90, and has suffered a stroke that seems to have had lasting effects. She filed a lawsuit in 2007 against the son-in-law of her former agent, claiming that he took advantage of her mental state during her recovery and duped her into assigning him the copyright to To Kill a Mockingbird[1]. For much of her adult life, her sister handled press relations and shielded Lee from these pressures. Her sister passed away three months ago, and suddenly this new book comes to light[2].

I really hope these suspicions are wrong, and that there's nothing shady at play here. I'm excited to read the book, but I can't help but be skeptical of the timing.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harper_Lee#After_To_Kill_a_Moc...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harper_Lee#Lawsuit_to_regain_c...

[2] (I dislike linking to Gawker Media sites on principle, but Jezebel actually wrote a good post digging into the details of this - "Be Suspicious of the New Harper Lee Novel".)

nathanb 1 day ago 1 reply      
Embarrassingly, I first misread this as Harper Lee working on a sequel to the Hunger Games finale Mockingjay, and I was so confused....

I was forced to read To Kill a Mockingbird for school. I started reading it with a bad attitude. After I finished it, I immediately turned back to the first page and reread it, not with a school mindset but with a "this is amazing literature that I need in my life" mindset.

If she was writing this "sequel" at the same time she was writing the original, they're likely to contain the same themes and the same timeless way of looking at life, society, and what it means to be human. I don't know if any novel could survive the pressure of being a long-delayed sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird, but I'm definitely willing to let it try!

TwiztidK 1 day ago 1 reply      
A writer working on a biography of Harper Lee came to my high school 6 or 7 years ago to give a presentation about her. He told us that she had written another book but didn't want to publish it due to the pressure she felt from the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, so she planned on having it published after she died. This is probably the book he was talking about.

I can't remember exactly who the writer was, but he spoke about his experience interviewing Kurt Vonnegut for his biography, so it was probably Charles Shields.

chengiz 1 day ago 4 replies      
It seems everybody here loves "To Kill a Mockingbird". To me, it's a well written but ultimately shallow novel. Finch is your typical woman's fantasy man: great at fatherhood, great at his work, morally upright, totally scrupulous, and yes, best shot in the county. The black people in the novel rarely get a voice, except one of platitudes, and the race relations stuff is totally black and white (excuse the pun), with no particular insight. It counts as literature only because of its propitious timing around the Civil Rights movement. It's a fine school reading list book but that is all it is.
xianshou 1 day ago 2 replies      
On the basis of regression to the mean (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean), or what we might call the "J.K. Rowling effect," it would be far too much to hope that the sequel will match the original. Nonetheless, this has got to set some sort of record for the gap between a novel and its sequel.

Interestingly, there is a list of gaps between film sequels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_longest_gaps_betwee...), and the longest gap is over 63 years, but there is no such list for books!

fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 0 replies      
For anyone who hasn't seen it. "Hey Boo" is a pretty good documentary about Mockingbird and features Harper Lee. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/harper-lee-...
renglis 1 day ago 0 replies      
60 years on and it remains relevant and insightful into the events of today. We should all reread it.

I look forward to the new book.

pervycreeper 1 day ago 1 reply      
Despite widespread changes in social attitudes on some topics, To Kill a Mockingbird is still as relevant to today's world as it was when it was originally published.
wmeredith 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'd be interested to hear more about the creative dynamic between this new book and To Kill a Mocking Bird. It says she put this new one aside 60 years ago to write TKaMB, but it features the characters later in their lives. I wonder if she was sketching out backstory to flesh out the characters and that was more compelling, so she pivoted and wrote To Kill a Mocking Bird instead?
fmax30 1 day ago 1 reply      
To kill a mocking bird was the first novel i read in my life. I was only 11 (in 6th grade) at the time and took around 3-4 months (summer break) to complete it, to be honest this was the book that made me realize that reading english literature can be an extremely amazing and insightful experience. Granted i didn't understand many things that were in it at the time but it kept me hooked.

Also i remember thinking that jean was a boy till i was 20-30 pages in realizing that she was in fact a girl.

etep 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Am currently reading "The Mockingbird Next Door" by Marja Mills. Brifely, Marja gained unprecedented access to the private life of Nelle Harper Lee. It is extremely interesting, and I am quite surprised at this turn of events. Good news!
ojbyrne 1 day ago 1 reply      
I thought I was seeing an onion headline at first.
samatman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Perhaps David Gerrold will complete the War Against the Cthorr after all! We've only been waiting on that for twenty years...
jqm 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the first book was very good but I never read it and feel negatively about it. Why? Simple. Because it was on the high school required reading list. I looked around at the teachers, looked around at the town, looked around at the larger society in which I lived, and decided very early I was having no part of indoctrination.

It's too bad. Because it probably is a good book. The bible might be as well. But I'll never know because suspicion of indoctrination ruined it for me. Maybe this is a personal failing. But putting books on the high school required reading list is a good way to make thinking people suspicious of motive in my view.

icantthinkofone 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great. But what does this have to do with Hacker News?
bshimmin 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this will be a massive seller, though (depressingly) probably nothing in comparison to a new Harry Potter.

I also think it'll be great.

taivare 1 day ago 0 replies      
ask HN: seems to be down, sorry, off topic, I want to publish eBook/only, and have all revenues go to charity. not a lot of info on web, regarding this subject. One author who put a Link on the end of his eBook is all.
mw44118 1 day ago 4 replies      
To Kill a Mockingbird perpetuates the idea that women make false rape accusations. We shouldn't celebrate such a hurtful topic.
Why Learning to Code Is So Damn Hard
points by vike27  11 hours ago   212 comments top 60
bad_user 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Here's where I disagree with other people - software development is special in that it requires focus, relentlessness, intelligence, creativity and I also find it interesting that many software developers tend to suffer conditions from the autistic spectrum. To me that's a clear sign that software development requires the mind to be hardwired in a certain way.

And the thing is - I never needed handholding, which is why I have mixed feelings about such educational efforts. For me that desert of despair was fun and nothing could have stopped me. For me entering a couple of lines of code that made the computer do something was like a game and felt like magic, with each piece of knowledge learned increasing my skill, in a sort of real-life RPG game. This started before high-school, I remember begging my parents for a PC and I started reading books on hardware and one on BASIC before having that PC, so that's how desperate I was.

And my story is very similar to others. It's undeniable that some people have an inclination towards software development, like a deep internal urge that must be satisfied, much like a drug addiction. This is why you'll find many developers saying that even if they wouldn't need to work, they'd do it for free.

To me educational efforts for adults are misplaced. If you want more people to become software developers, you need to show them the magic while they are young. As for most adults, I believe that the ship has sailed already.

rcthompson 9 hours ago 9 replies      
When I was in college, one CS professor explained the difficulty of coding to me in terms of discreteness vs continuity. In the real world, things are continuous. If you accidentally build your structure with 9 supports instead of 10, then you only lose 10% of the strength of the structure, more or less. The strength varies continuously with the amount of support. But if you're writing a 10-line program and you forget one of the lines (or even one character), the program isn't 10% wrong, it's 100% wrong. (For example, instead of compiling and running correctly, it doesn't compile at all. Completely different results.)

Of course this logic doesn't hold up all the time. Sometimes you can remove a critical support and collapse a structure, and sometimes removing a line of code has little to no effect, but the point is that in programming, a small change can have an unboundedly large effect, which is the definition of discontinuity.

(I believe it was this professor, who was my teacher for discrete math: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~jck/ )

codingdave 9 hours ago 8 replies      
Many of the coders I know (which is mostly folk in their 40s) never learned from scratch. More often, we started in support roles, and slowly worked into the code. First, learning to read it to help troubleshoot issue, then making basic changes, and slowly picking up more and more of a specific codebase. Once the basics were understood, we'd start making basic apps on our own, often while still supporting more complex apps. After a year or two, we'd be competent enough to do things from scratch, and then we'd move into a full-time coding role.

I know that few people learn like this these days. I've heard extreme negative criticism when I tell people that a few years of 2nd/3rd tier support on a large codebase is actually a good start to a coding career.

But I also never experienced the troubles described in this article. There were hard times, which would have been eased with today's online content. But it wasn't hard because of a downturn in confidence, and resulting "despair" that is described - it was a slow, but steady increase in confidence and abilities.

So are people better off today? Maybe. They certainly are coding at younger ages... but I have no complaints about my path. I still was fully competent in my early 20s, did a startup at 26, etc.

So there are many paths to developing your career. I'd recommend people keep an open mind to all options, and do what works for them personally.

ibebrett 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This may be thinking back on things with rose tinted glasses, but I learned to code in qbasic when I was 12 or so at a Boys and Girls club after school and fell in love. It was entirely effortless and fun to me. I think the difference is at that point I wasn't trying to program to enter some lucrative career and be a startup guy (where are these "coders" going to be once the market dies down and a new industry is hot? probably trying to do that). For me it was something I loved immediately, and while obviously there are really hard problems, the coding part was effortless
greggman 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I was never told learning to code was hard. I never found it hard. I found it fun. I was introduced in 8th grade by a friend who brought a listing to school of a small program he wrote in BASIC and it took off from there. I didn't have all the resources of the internet to help (this was 1980)

Like the article mentions there's just a ton to learn. 6 months of Code Academy will help you learn basic stuff, variables, loops, conditionals, maybe even objects and classes but only experience will help you with databases, files, sorting, patterns, threads, memory issues, debugging, big O thinking, cache coherence, performance, etc, etc and all the other stuff.

That comes from doing and doing over years and years.

Maybe it's something about certain people? I watched a guy with almost zero programming experience go through some tutorials online and then apply for a software engineering position at google. From everything he said he seemed confident he was going to get the job and was going to be very depressed if he didn't. All I could think was "REALLY? You really think 3 months of study makes you a programmer ready for Google?". I didn't say anything. Who am I to step on his dreams. Maybe he'd some how fake his way in.

He didn't

But it made me wonder why did he believe that that was all he needed in the first place? I think that's actually the more interesting discussion. There's a ton to learn in programming. You can learn some basic stuff quickly and maybe make some lights light up on your arduino art project but why would anyone think 2 to 6 months of study would make them ready for a programming job? Is that a new thing? Where did it come from?

spain 8 hours ago 5 replies      
I feel like I'm in the "Desert of Despair" and I'm not quite sure where to go. So far I'm self-taught in C, C++, Python, Lisp (a few of them) and some shell stuff. I have the basic syntax nailed in all of those. I don't know any of them well enough to be able to write simple programs without constantly looking up StackOverflow articles or reading references. I haven't even touched GUI programming.

It doesn't help that I always try and obsessively look for the "best" or "proper" way to do something. I know this is a good virtue to have but I also feel like it also gets in the way of getting things done.

It's such a weird place. On one hand I feel like I know a lot more than before but if any of my friends ever mention how "good" I am at coding I am quick to correct them by saying I'm really not. I could really do with some sense of direction, but I suppose that's on my shoulders since nobody else can decide for me what sort of developer I ought to be. I'm not sure what to focus on.

I initially got interested in coding just because of how interesting and fun it was in itself. I want to continue to pursue it because I feel like it's the first thing I'm really good at. I always got mediocre grades in school, I didn't learn any instruments or have any hobbies, then I started learning how to code and it just clicked with me and for the first time in my life I had an idea of what I might do for a living.

Sorry if that strayed a little too far from discussing the article, I wanted to try and write my thoughts down.

jeremysmyth 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Having taught many non-programmers to start their programming journey, this article rings very true.

The "cliff of confusion" he describes is a function of the Dunning-Kruger effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect), which indicates that you don't know how bad you are at something until you get better at it. As an educator, the challenge is to make that cliff as unscary as possible and chart a path through the "desert of despair" so that you're not pushing too much at one time.

On the other hand, as a self-learner it's really really hard to get past the point where you've learned enough to know how much you have yet to learn, or in terms of the article, when you look over the cliff and see how HUGE your journey is becoming.

To a large extent, the article is an advertisement (in more ways than one) for guided learning, expressed in a pretty clear way.

_greim_ 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This seems like a symptom of learning to code for the sake of being able to code, versus learning to code because you enjoy coding. It's just as much work in an absolute sense, but the process in the latter case seems more effortless and fun.

There's a similar thing in the music world. Some people want to be good at guitar, others like playing guitar. The former get bogged down in despair, the latter fiddle around on their instruments every night without even thinking. Guess which ones end up getting good?

[edit] cholmon makes a good point; the enjoyment is more in creating things than in simply writing code.

mamcx 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post.

Something to add: This cycle not happened only once in a programmer life.


Every time you start with a new language or tool or job, the cycle start again.

But is added ANOTHER step: Overconfidence and blind arrogant OR indifference.

This is revealed when somebody dismiss the new language/tool/programing job and because is more-or-less similar to previous knowledge and could learn the basics of it in days/hours then think it nailed again. Is possible to be in this new honey-moon for a while (or forever somethings), but could eventually and suddenly hit hard that you are NOT A MASTER OF 2 SKILLS, you are a (maybe) a MASTER of 1 and a noob of 2.

The arrogant & indifferent mind also is revealed in the condesending thinking towards who are outside the "guild" or "below" us. Is very easy to believe you are in the laters steps, when is really not.

The key point in this article is the problem of "you don't know what you don't know". For years I imagine I was a decent developer (and could have said similar things as others in this threads) but is only in the last 2 years where I realize how misplaced my understanding was. I was in the "The Cliff of Confusion" and very happy about it ;)

stegosaurus 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This article is a really odd read for me.

What sticks out is the idea of learning to code with the idea of becoming 'Job Ready'. As others have said, seemingly treating the process as a means to an end rather than a journey in and of itself.

No one learns to walk in order to hike up mountains. We start out with a fuzzy basic idea that it'd be cool if we could just move across the floor a bit and get closer to somewhere. And oh, isn't it fun to watch the world fly by!

Programming has always been that way for me. Making a computer print Hello World on the screen, and then draw a circle, and maybe calculate some primes, and so on... the entire process is learning. You're always learning. In those early days I had no magazines, no Internet, no peers to compare myself to... I just sat at a screen and tinkered, cobbling together bits from various scripts and tinkering.

Mastering it - now that's a different kettle of fish entirely.

Maybe it's some sort of capitalistic artifact, the drive to push faster and harder and more efficiently. Not being able to sit back and just, be, without constant comparison or anxiety.

kcole16 10 hours ago 3 replies      
For me, by far the hardest part was finding the time. Learning to code on nights and weekends, when you've spent your most productive and focused hours at your job, is a nightmare. It wasn't until I was actually hired as a dev that I started to hit a steep learning curve, and I attribute much of that to spending 50 of my best hours/week coding, rather than maybe 20 of my worst.
analog31 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I learned to program in BASIC, in 1981. I think that while learning to program has become more accessible thanks to the Web, it has also probably gotten harder do to the exponential increase in complexity of the systems that we program. There is also much more to software development than just programming.

In my day (taking the liberty of revisionist exaggeration), one could write cool and useful programs with a simple language and text based i/o. Programming and software development were nearly the same thing, and were exactly the same if you were an amateur like me.

Today, languages are necessarily more complex in order to interface with ... enormous systems and libraries of exponentially increasing complexity. At least, that's what it seems like from where I sit. And software development goes way beyond programming. Once you learn to program, there's a whole 'nother stage of learning how to use big code libraries, frameworks, IDE's, and so forth. I'm not sure anybody has figured out how to teach someone else to approach a big code library.

Maybe there should be a set of lessons in Code Academy, whose point is to learn how to get stuff done using the documentation and related lore (StackOverflow, etc.) for a complex library like MatPlotLib. I did something similar when I agreed to teach a review session for a math course that I had never taken. I had no choice but to show how to approach a textbook as a resource for solving problems. Maybe my students got more out of that, than they would have from just memorizing formulas.

For kids, a way around this problem might be to strip away the complexity by teaching programming on a platform that just doesn't have all of that stuff, e.g., Arduino.

GrinningFool 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Warning, unpopular opinion based on experience lies ahead.

The ability to program (and can we please stop calling it 'coding' as a career path? Writing code is the smallest part of programming) is something that either comes naturally to you or it doesn't.

If it does, you wonder why everyone says it's hard - to you, it's almost literally how you think. The pieces just fall into place.

If it doesn't, it's always an uphill battle. You can acquire proficiency through a lot of hard, painful work. Most people who fit this category can do the job, but they do it through rote following of procedure as opposed to exploration and intuition that comes from putting the pieces together without consciously thinking about it.

This isn't a matter of intelligence. it's just a certain way of thinking that some seem to have and some don't. Plenty of extremely smart people aren't built for programming.

On the other hand, if we accepted this, then there wouldn't be much of a business model left for the likes of vikingcodeschool.com ;)

chrstphrhrt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This seems true of any relationship with something outside yourself.

Perhaps the curve of familiarity with the other for any empiricist.

Look at a totally foreign thing. First comes cautiousness about whether it exists, but then just by looking you get a vague notion that it's a coherent thing. Then curiosity draws you closer to it and therefore you see the thing in greater detail. Some of the newly visible bits mess with your idealised picture of the thing from before. Only if you decide to persevere in understanding this other do you start to integrate these discordant stimuli into the currently running model of it. As the thing comes into clearer focus you realise that the discoveries are slowly revealing negative entropy. It's safe there. Following the trail inevitably results in reaching the end of it.

If only there were a standardised protocol for consuming the universe.

dschiptsov 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Because learning "to Code" is nonsense, and learning "to Program" is damn hard because it is a whole new set of new mental habits, like an ability to zoom thorough multiple levels of abstractions, without losing understanding. Think of following of a flow of data from, say, linux TCP stack, to nginx, then via fastcgi to some backend, then to, say, postgres, then back to code, then back to client, remembering about memory allocations, data encoding, data-structures build up, etc. Or, even better, think of how your code (interpreted or compiled) would be executed, how syscalls would be made, would code block during a syscall, is there another theread, what they are doing, is there are locks, which kind, etc.

The idea that there is some Java which allows you not to think about all the important details is just nonsense. You have to understand what are you doing and why, and this is so damn hard.

btw, Robert M. Pirsig has a whole book about why everything is so damn hard.

john_butts 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Speaking as a rockstar bacon ninja Viking pirate robot code fu guru unicorn damn hell aged and wise app developer, many of these problems could be mitigated or eliminated in the web dev world if the web dev community could just slow down a little and clean up their existing messes before inventing twice as many new slightly shinier messes every funding cycle or so.
adregan 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As a self taught developer, I'm so thankful I first thought I wanted to be a designer. HTML and CSS made sense to me (the backend, even frontend js, forget it. I'd try to hack around it) and I sought deeper knowledge on the subject. Build systems and preprocessors were a gateway to command line tools and good organization skills.

Once I was thrown into full stack development, I at least had something to lean on while the backend programming caught up with the frontend. Then I started applying the things I learned programming backend applications to frontend applications (where do I keep all this state?). I think I spent a lot of time in the desert of despair wrt. certain types of programming but was never entirely there.

I think it's important to have something to feel confident in while you struggle.

zaphar 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one effective way to navigate the "Desert of Despair" is to join another project first. That gives you the focus you need and set of practices and libraries/language/frameworks to learn deeply. And as you learn how senior people in the project make their decisions and hear stories about the history of the project you gain context and valuable information for the next stage.

Much of what I've learned I learned by working with or lurking in the communities of open source projects.

DanielKehoe 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've had the pleasure of co-teaching Rails classes with Erik Trautman (OP) and he's a smart, dedicated guy. He's written a thoughtful article but underplays a key point. Learning to code would not be "so damn hard" if there were better learning resources. There's too much "learn to code" crap for beginners (as Erik points out), and not enough resources for advanced education (the "resource density" in the "Desert of Despair," as he points out). Learning to code would be easier if someone produced better advanced tutorials, books, and courses. I've been doing this for two years with the RailsApps tutorials [1]. And my "fluffy cat" book, "Learn Ruby on Rails," [2] provides guidance for writing apps from scratch without tutorials. Erik's article would be totally irrelevant if authors and teachers delivered better educational content. Erik's trying to do it with Viking Code School, and I've been trying to do it with my own writing, too. It's educators and authors that have to get smarter and work harder, not learners.

[1] https://tutorials.railsapps.org/[2] "Learn Ruby on Rails" on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QK2T1SY

erikb 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel I hit the job ready part and started to work as a software engineer and I think I'm about as productive as I cost the company. Actually I feel a little better than that and my colleagues a little worse than that, but I guess that's how everybody in the middle feels.

The thing is, after that job ready upwards slope there is the next downswing. You're able to get something done, but what you envision is not what the company needs. You also realise that to be productive you need a lot of skills you never learned in school time at all, e.g. packaging, shipping code to customers, versioning, and actually create a tool that another person can, reading code of other people, and finally using the tools your coworkers build which are only marginally more productive than doing it manually or writing your own tools, and only after learning the arcane ways in that they are designed (much like the tools of your design, and quite different from the billion dollar applications you are used to in daily life). Also you will really become slower, because all the meetings and compromises drain your energy more than the coding, but there is no way around it if you work in a team. Is there another high coming after that? From looking at my coworkers it seems this down swing will last.

tl;dr the job ready high is not the end.

sklarsa 5 hours ago 0 replies      
From my experience as someone who is primarily self-taught, I think that having a more experienced programmer who can act as a mentor is vital to one's own growth as a developer. My first experiences programming in a professional capacity consisted of writing VBA macros to either automate tasks like moving or reformatting data, or in one instance, run an iterative algorithm that could not be expressed simply with excel formulas. Looking back, I was stuck at that level for several years, until I was given some new assignments that were signficantly harder than my previous ones, and I had no idea where to begin. I discussed some of my current assignments with a colleague who had some programming experience, and he gave me a few basic lessons (in VBA) about object-oriented programming and communicating with SQL databases using the OLEDB library. Based on this knowledge, I set out to build some advanced, database-enabled spreadsheets, relying heavily on Google, Stack Overflow, and various blogs whenever I hit a snag. As I was progressing, I would bounce architecture ideas off my mentor and he would give me some topics to research in more depth. I would then go back to my online resources to figure out how to apply these new concepts to help solve my problem. As time went on and I became more confident in my skills, with the advice of my mentor, I moved from Access to SQL Server and from VBA to C# and the .NET Framework, eventually reaching a point where I became a self-sufficient programmer developing full scale applications used across my firm.

For a motivated student, I think this method of teaching can yield tremendous results. With the vast amount of detailed information out there from tons of easily accessible sources, having a more experienced mentor create a path for the novice to follow but also letting the student figure out the implementation details on his/her own can be very rewarding. It allows the student to develop strong problem-solving skills within a smaller context (so the student doesn't get overwhelmed with indecision) yet also provides a support system when the student truly is stuck on a problem. I'm not suggesting that this is the BEST or ONLY way programming should be taught, but for someone like me, who learns best by doing, it can be a great way to get started in the field.

threatofrain 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling a lot of why people fail with these online resources is motivation, and I think it's why Khan Academy, while it is a forward-looking treasure of education, has failed to achieve revolution despite dramatically improving the access of education.

A lot of people need external mechanisms to keep themselves motivated, such as parental pressure, peer pressure, shame, and so on. As soon as people leave college, most people never learn a tall order of knowledge ever again, and most people let their existing knowledge rapidly decay. And then they're going to tell you a story about how everything they learned in college is useless, and how jobs want something entirely different.

Whatever human nature is going on inside of them that explains the outwardly visible behavior is part of the cliff people are walking toward.

bigger_cheese 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a difference between knowing how to write code and being a "software developer". I think a lot of people confuse the two. I am an Engineer (not the software kind) I write code almost every day in my job but I do not identify myself as a programmer. For me code is a tool to be used to solve a problem, like Calculus or Linear Algebra.

When I was at Uni we were required to take two subjects through the computer science faculty, "Intro to algorithms and data structures" and "Fundamentals of Software Engineering". The first subject was hugely interesting and I "Got it" right away. It was basically teaching you how to represent a problem computationally, we learnt about Binary and floating point representaion, what a stack was that sort of thing. This is heap sort, this is bubble sort, this is O(N) this is O(Log N) it clicked for me.

The second subject not so much. It was all about Unit tests, object oriented programming, the waterfall model. We had to write an essay about Ariane V failure. The lecturer was really big on a guy called Bertrand Meyer and his ideas about design by contract. The subject was really hard to engage with and almost caused me to lose interest completely. It was probably a good subject to learn if you were planning a career in software development but for a first year engineer not so much.

As cruel as it sounds I think the best way to teach someone to code is to explain algorithms and data to them. "Here's a Ruby tutorial try to follow along and you to can be a programmer" is dishonest and in my opinion not learning the fundamentals up front is what causes that "chasm of dispair" the article aludes to.

SteB 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Super interesting article. I used to be a big fan of Codecademy and other online website to learn to code. The author is right, at some point you need motivation, like in any new thing, and that's where I think most of them are failing.

Without a real project or a constant progress that you can follow, you easily end up abandoning that site.

I built CloudAcademy.com more than a year ago and even if we are focues on Cloud Computing platforms like AWS, one the things we are trying to solve is providing good, constant information to our students on their progresses. That's the most important thing. In our case they really need those skills to they have a very high motivation to complete the courses, but still, I see this as a priority for an e-learning platform.

parenthetically 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Really good discussion of what falls apart when these "anyone can learn to code!" tutorials leave you high and dry, and how to get past that next huge hurdle of self-sufficiency.
jussij 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Why programming is hard is why everything is hard.

Youre not going to get good at anything unless you work hard at it.

All these hand holding sites are worthless because all the stuff on them is so easy. But they are popular because people are always looking for the easy option.

Want to be a good programmer. Buy a well-recommended book and spend 3 hours a day, 7 days a week trying to write code. Start with hello world and then build from there.

After three 3 months of that hard grind you'll either have some idea on how to write code or you will find you don't have the aptitude to be a programmer.

The bad news is even if you do find you can write code, the hard grind has just started.

You'll have to repeat the process for other programming topics like data structures, programming patterns, testing strategies, understanding database design etc etc.

Move forward five years and you're well on the way to being a well rounded developer.

tsumnia 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Currently I teach Java courses (up to Data Structures) and I give the warning at the beginning of the semester. I don't use it as a scare tactic to be mean, but to help instill the sense of difficulty in the course.

Programming is only hard because it is simultaneously a basic IT, foreign language, applied mathematics and logic class wrapped into one! Also, since its 100% cumulative, every class they miss can be a death sentence. How can you understand Inheritance if you missed the lecture on Objects (or Conditionals if you missed Variables)? I've specifically told my students not to use an IDE for the first month so they get an understanding of how command line operates.

I think another issue is simply underestimating the time it takes to complete a simple assignment like implementing the distance formula. Taking an algorithm you understand and translating it correctly can be an exponential problem.

I try to model my courses very similar to the MOOCs I've used for practice (edX, Codecademy, and Udacity) - I am a developer turned instructor, so I use these courses as guidelines as what to do. Also, I look at something like MIT's edX courses and think "if this is what they teach, why shouldn't try to model that?"

The one thing I like about the courses are that they each uses a constant engagement tactic to ensure the user did learn what they heard. 5-7 minute video, then immediately a quiz or 'lecture exercise' designed to make sure you get the material (not just repeat a definition).

Again looking at MIT's edX 6.00x course, you are given "Problem Sets" (homework) that is given a week to be completed. Each part builds to a grand finale. For example, the distance formula mentioned above is then used in my course to implement a crude version of collision detection (www.youtube.com/watch?v=W84QzXUxcL0). I use collision detection because one of the key demographics of CS courses are nerdy gamers (not an insult, I love Binding of Isaac, but that's one of the people that go into CS).

One of the other things I try to do is follow the structure of my martial arts classes. In aikido, we start each class with "tai sabaki" (basic body movements). Since these are the core fundamentals of the art, practice makes permanent. I want to start adding basic keyboarding exercises of basic syntax to get them in the habit writing the words that look like english, but aren't.

Dove 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Huh. This must be a generational thing. When I started learning to code 20 years ago, there wasn't any hand-holding. There were college courses and textbooks and sometimes mentors and ultimately your own ability to work things out from documentation and first principles. My projects grew in scope as I got better at it, but I never thought it was anything but awesome.

Then again, I never set out to "be a developer". I was bitten by the coding bug as a kid, and tripped over the discovery, as an adult, that it paid pretty well.

blueside 5 hours ago 0 replies      
For many years, I thought everything was very complex and would be difficult to learn and perhaps I wasn't smart enough to gain a full cognition on the subject matter

But I was able to take a big step back one day and realize everything isn't always complex, a lot of the times it is just over complicated and over engineered. Whether it's true or not, it has helped me immensely in my approach to look at new code from a more advantageous angle and more importantly, supply me with the confidence.

jared314 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I always thought the "Desert of Despair" was the point at which you should find a mentor with professional experience, instead of waiting for the "Upswing of Awesome".
yodsanklai 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think "coding" professionally involves a lot more than being able to write simple programs for fun on his own. That's why I don't really like the term "coding".

I considered myself a good programmer, but during my first job as an intern, I was confronted to million of lines of barely documented C++ code (a C compiler for some obscure micro-controler). Most of my time was spent trying to understand what this code was doing, and praying that I didn't break anything. The days were long with no distraction and I had a lot of pressure from my boss. It was horrible.

Second job (still as an intern) was the opposite. I was supposed to design a prototype website for a bank. There were a lot of boring meetings and nothing really interesting to do.

I didn't feel I could be successful or happy in such an environment (and I ended up in academia). On the other hand, I had schoolmates that weren't passionate about programming and that learned it much later than I did, and did quite well (being persistent with good social skills).

I always wonder if I could have had a better experience in different companies.

Animats 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's an ad. At the end: Our core program is specifically designed to bridge this whole process. ... Sign up below.Worse, the training just creates junior web developers. There's a glut of junior web developers.

The concept of Ruby on Rails was to make the whole process of web site development a tutorial-level job from start to finish. How did that work out?

adamzerner 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> Unfortunately, in later phases the density of resources drops off fast. Anyone who's made the jump from beginner to intermediate can attest that there is a BIG difference between the amount of resources available when you first start out versus when you're first looking for help building things on your own without too much hand-holding.

Scarcity = opportunity!

snake_plissken 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Also, for rookies and veterans alike, when you are learning something new (especially tech stuff) and it's getting progressively more difficult, remember to take it easy on yourself and to relax. Those stress induced tension headaches from squinting, furrowing your brow and getting overwhelmed from the unavoidable and apparent decrease in your progress are productivity killers.

Relax, and remember that at some time, everyone is a neophyte.

pjbrunet 10 hours ago 2 replies      
It's only hard once you realize the commitment required, partly due to the pace of innovation, the depth and breadth of information available and the fact you're competing with the entire world, not just people in your city/state, and there's nobody regulating the influx of competition. A significant chunk of your life will be spent looking at a screen and there's a chance you could end up with a crippling case of carpal tunnel. It's a sacrifice and most people won't make it. In the same amount of time you RTFM, you could have learned to be a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist and a lawyer. And once you have it all figured out, half of everything you learned gets flushed down the toilet because there's some new platform. If you think it's hard and you're not enjoying yourself, don't even bother, there's easier ways to make money.
cubano 9 hours ago 0 replies      
> Phase III: The Desert of Despair

I've been programming for 30+ years, and have yet to ever leave this phase. ;-)

skylark 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The ease with which you code is directly related to your general problem solving ability. The better you are at solving problems, the more simple and straightforward you'll find programming, because coding is simply an extension of the thoughts which are already floating through your head.

This is why learning to program is so difficult for some people. If you have poor problem solving ability, putting a second abstraction layer over it (thoughts -> something the computer can understand) can be ridiculously difficult. This is especially true for abstractions which don't map directly to thoughts human beings typically have (recursion, pointers, etc.)

This is also why learning to program is so effortless and simple for others.

Eleutheria 5 hours ago 0 replies      
No, it's not hard.

You can make practically any program with just four constructs: assign, condition, loop and function.

The rest is just imagination.

paulhauggis 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I was lucky because I started coding at 13 (Pascal and C). At that point in my life, I could spend all of my free time developing something cool just for fun (and learning a good foundation in the process).

By the time I got to college, new concepts took me a fraction of the time because I already had that foundation.

Even now, I went from 10+ years of PHP development to building full Python apps in a short amount of time. Aside from some newer features, it's mostly a syntax change. The basics are the same in every language.

I don't think I could start from knowing nothing. I just don't have the time.

msc96 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Personally I find the confidence vs competence graph to reflect my feelings when learning things in general, although not necessarily for the same reasons. There's always a period of eager discovery followed by the stark realization of how far away mastery is and finally the gradual slow crawl toward success.
cossatot 10 hours ago 1 reply      
In my experience, one thing that can make the path feel more progressive and monotonic is having a set of problems that need to be solved, with a wide range of difficulties. This provides consistent short-term gratification while also providing long-term gratification and utility.

For me, as an earth scientist, there have always been small calculations or simulations that are quite valuable, even though they are not overly difficult or complex. This provided the motivation to learn basic Matlab. As my skills and ambition grew, and I learned new languages and techniques, the class of problems that I wanted to solve grew in scope and complexity. I also learned to recognize new problems and their probable solutions as my tools developed. Programming changed the way I look at the earth, and at statistics, personal finance and a range of other things in which quantification is enlightening.

In contrast, I have had a hard time picking up new languages or programming paradigms when I don't have an immediate need. I've spent time mucking around on various 'learn to code' websites, and read and sometimes completed tutorials on databases or Haskell or whatever, but it feels very different: meandering, non-essential, hard to gauge in scope (how much do I need to know to be useful, how deep is the water really), hard to link up to the rest of my life. Programming for me is a powerful and enjoyable means to many ends, but not something that I am inclined to do for its own sake.

I think if I had said, "I want to learn to program so I can build web apps" without actually having a simple and truly useful web app that needed to be built, I would very quickly move on. If I had said, "I want to learn to program so I can find a new job that pays more money" I would stick with it for a bit longer but it would be incredibly frustrating, because it doesn't seem like there is a very straight path without formal guidance (such as going to school of some sort).

I suspect many people feel the same, but I don't necessarily know how smaller, less formal education systems can work on that. Students always need some amount of self-motivation, and useful results are a long ways off in some areas.

ayushgta 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminded me of another well written article from last year. Posting it here for others who might have missed it: http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/24/dont-believe-anyone-who-tel... Yes its from TechCrunch, but its actually good
bnb 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Hey there, really, really great article! It really spoke to me. I've got a small question for you, though: I'm in the Cliff of Confusion, but I have a serious problem. I can't even build a program. I know syntax, structure, etc., but I don't know how to pull all of it together to actually build something that serves a purpose. Do you have any advice for me?
austenallred 10 hours ago 3 replies      
The hard thing about learning to program is that to create anything even vaguely useful you have to learn a million things in parallel.

Say you wanted to build the simplest of Rails apps - you're simultaneously learning not only what the terminal and a text editor is, but how unix commands work, what an MVC framework is, probably a little of HTML and CSS, database migrations (maybe some SQL), asset management/pipeline, some random Rails-specific syntax, probably git, and if the creator of the tutorial is feeling ambitious he/she may throw in some TDD and testing frameworks. And that doesn't even begin to go into Ruby -- the entire programming aspect of programming.

So you're thrown out into the middle of the ocean, and blindly writing code you don't understand (because there's no way any tutorial could fully explain everything you're learning without being 2,000 pages long). You follow the tutorial, you get your little app running, then you realize, "I have no fucking idea what I just did." There's no way on earth you could do it again.

The other approach is to bring you from the bottom up, starting with language/syntax Codecademy style. So you spend a month learning how to almost be able to write a for loop in JavaScript, and then you realize you have no idea why you would ever need to know what a for loop is, and even less of an idea of why it's useful.

I got stuck bouncing back and forth between the two for years (literally), wondering how the other programmers were possibly smart enough that they could grasp meaning from random blobs of tutorial code, or how they possibly had the patience to grind through enough JavaScript tutorials enough that they could actually create something. I finally decided to throw away the crutches and venture out on my own. I think that was the single biggest step in becoming a (decent) programmer.

The timid, "I don't know how to program" side of me said, "Wait, I have no idea how to do this yet. You need to read up on it." But I finally bit the bullet and said, "You know what, I'm building this app right now. No, I don't know how to do a lot of it, yes, my friends that are a lot smarter would probably mock my code if they saw it, but I don't care. I'm building this." I don't think you can ever truly learn to program without saying, "I don't care, I'm building this." It took a long time and more Stack Overflow than anyone should ever care to read, but things finally started clicking. I built a few apps (Rails and iOS), went back to the tutorials, and said, "Are you kidding me? That's what they were trying to teach me?"

There was no way I would have remembered that crap if there was someone guiding me through or holding my hand. Sometimes you just have to start, having no idea what you're doing, and figure it out as you go. That's a foreign concept to people who aren't used to creating things, but I'm convinced it's the only way to truly learn.

shanecleveland 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"You can make that application work but what's happening beneath the surface? Your code is duct tape and string and, worst of all, you dont even know which parts are terrible and which are actually just fine."

I commonly get to this point after just wanting to proof out a concept and get something working. And then I realize I need to go back and do the unglamorous work of getting it right. But I learn the most then, and helps enormously on future projects.

harpb 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Learning to code is not hard if you define the code to a smaller step of problem. Learning to code is impossible if you define it as "program for voice recognizition in english and spanish'. If problem is defined as "print Hello World' then you know how to code once you learn to solve that problem. Further more, it is easier problem to solve.
curyous 9 hours ago 8 replies      
Learning to code is not hard. At all. Not relative to things that actually are hard. Having trained as an electronic engineer, programming is by far one of the easiest things I've ever done, by an order of magnitude. You can tell by the number of teenagers that can code, how many teenagers can design a nuclear submarine? That is much harder to learn.
noarchy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Even with years of experience in a given language under your belt, heading into a new job and facing a new set of frameworks can lead to issues. It isn't quite like starting from zero again, but you have re-learn how to do the most trivial of things, as it may not even remotely resemble how you were used to doing it.
FLUX-YOU 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In my experience, this graph looks similar if you get hired at the first peak, but the desert of despair doesn't dip as low as long as you have some form of mentor or reviewer for your code. You can, of course, get hired to a bad job and the desert will dip further down (and your risk of leaving the industry increases).
callesgg 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no memory of the basic concept of coding being hard to learn.I do remember thinking it was cool that I could make stuff happen by itself.
shittyanalogy 10 hours ago 2 replies      

If you don't have the motivation you'll never be able to do it. If you can't sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day reading documentation and hunting for syntax errors you're not going to be able to do it. If re-writing algorithms doesn't give you an intrinsic satisfaction, you're not going to be able to do it. No amount of everybody can code tutorials is going to help. They should all be, "how to find the motivation to keep coding" tutorials.

Unrelated, but related to the article, the word sociopath get's misused a lot and this article is no exception. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sociopath

peter303 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I never found it that hard, either back in the 1970s or now.
vishalzone2002 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is probably true for a lot of other things. Learning an instrument, learning karate, etc. basically its easy to get started than to keep going.
aarant 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Haven't read the article so it might be just random rant.

I find most articles confuse 'code' (producing code) and 'program' (making programs).

I would argue the first one is relatively easy once you grasp concepts and turing-cturing-completness.

The later however takes years if not decades.

cturner 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"... was convinced that the seemingly normal programmers I ran into were actually sociopaths who had experienced, then repressed, the trauma of learning to code."

It's true. The saddest part is that we forget who we were before we crossed over, and lose the ability to sympathise with people who haven't been through it.

z3t4 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The more your learn, the more there is to learn!
dccoolgai 10 hours ago 1 reply      
When someone asks me "How do I learn to code?" I always say "You don't. You just code."
xornor 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Learning to code is not so hard, but learning to code well is extremely hard - almost impossible. I have been doing software development years and years also in some well known companies and I am not sure if I have yet met a good developer.
rismay 8 hours ago 0 replies      
vike22 Awesome! Keep it up!
Lawtonfogle 8 hours ago 0 replies      
What are we comparing when we are comparing coding? I could teach a child to code a simple text based game, but designing a massive software for a critical system is just as hard as building the rest of that system.

Most any teen can take building materials and build a dog house. That doesn't mean skyscraper construction is child's play.

Uber Opening Robotics Research Facility in Pittsburgh to Build Self-Driving Cars
points by foobarqux  2 days ago   138 comments top 18
krschultz 2 days ago 10 replies      
Google opens an Uber competitor. Uber opens a Google (research) competitor.

It will be interesting to see which one can commodize the other. I feel that what Google has built (self-driving cars) is harder to replicate, but Google doesn't have the killer instinct that Uber does.

If Android is any guide, Google would rather spread their innovation around to partners rather than to use it to build a killer first party product. I imagine Google will license their future self driving-car stack to the existing car manufacturers, Uber, et al.

mkempe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Back in 1987, Carnegie Mellon already had robotic vans [1] trying to drive around the campus. They were slow-moving, so students had ample time to cross the road as they approached. I probably have a picture in a box, somewhere. As I recall a major issue was how to stay on the road. [2]

[1] https://www.ri.cmu.edu/pub_files/pub2/thorpe_charles_1988_1/...

[2] https://www.ri.cmu.edu/pub_files/pub3/thorpe_charles_1988_1/...

omarforgotpwd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Google probably wants to run a big data center that coordinates and organizes all the world's cars. A reliable centrally coordinated self driving vehicle network would greatly canabalize air and train travel and cargo, so the winners in this space will control the world's transporation network. Google will probably win, but either way the world economy will benefit massively from the reduction in transportation costs.
Qworg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actual Uber announcement: http://blog.uber.com/carnegie-mellon

I'm not sure a "partnership" qualifies as "cleaning out".

Animats 2 days ago 1 reply      
That makes sense. CMU has been working with Cadillac on self-driving cars, and has demoed them in Washington DC traffic. The CMU/Cadillac car has nothing visible externally which marks it as a self-driving car. They may be closer to a production product than Google.
ThomPete 2 days ago 3 replies      
So Uber is using low wage drivers to make money so they can invest in self driving cars to completely make the drivers obsolete.

Talk about a moral paradox.

seanp2k2 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm imagining a future where there are self-driving busses that route themselves based on where people are and where they want to go. For a dense urban area, I think this has real potential to increase route efficiency and bus utilization while decreasing crowding and unpopulated bus trips.
loceng 2 days ago 5 replies      
This feels a bit strange, no? Shouldn't all of their drivers immediately stop using Uber?
coldcode 1 day ago 2 replies      
Self-driving cars in a world where all cars are self-driving is doable. Self-driving cars sharing the road with the morons I deal with every day is not going to happen any time soon, much less dealing with accidents, road closures, ice, snow, rain and the occasional angry politician.
enahs-sf 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it interesting that Google will probably mint a nice ROI from it's Uber investment and ostensibly dump it all right back into research for robotic cars (I get this isn't how it works, but the idea is novel). CMU has some of the most brilliant minds in robotics - It should be very interesting to see who wins this arms race.
terravion 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like this should be easy to source... should we call the robotics institute? Cleaned out seems a bit hyperbolic.
NittLion78 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're one step closer to Johnny Cab, though I suspect it will work a little better than the version in Total Recall.


fspacef 1 day ago 0 replies      
Either way, Google vs. Uber means cheaper cab rides for all of us...
monkeyninja 1 day ago 0 replies      
Imaging that, we can get rid of all drivers, must be brilliant...
Intoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
soon techcrunch headlines would be: UBER DRIVERS LAID-OFF, REPLACED BY SELF-DRIVING CARS
Zigurd 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to see comments of the nature of "Google doesn't have the killer instinct that Uber does."

This is a fight over the businesses of logistics and transportation in general, and on a global scale. You can expect Amazon to join the fight. This is not limited to driving people across town, and winning is vastly more valuable. Nobody is going to hold back.

zobzu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Heh so thats what this uber job offer was about.. i should have replied! ;)
clientbiller 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sniff Sniff... I smell a buyout coming.
Prometheus: An open-source service monitoring system and time series database
points by jjwiseman  21 hours ago   105 comments top 20
SEJeff 14 hours ago 3 replies      
As a graphite maintainer, see my other post about problems with graphite:


I'm super excited about prometheus, and can't wait to get some time to see if I can make it work on my rasberry pi. That being said, I'm also going to likely eventually work on a graphite-web / graphite-api pluggable backend to use prometheus as the backend storage platform.

The more OSS metrics solutions, the better!

ggambetta 21 hours ago 3 replies      
"Those who cannot remember the Borgmon are doomed to repeat it" ;)

Just kidding, this is looking really good, I hope to get some hands-on experience with it soon.

clarkevans 19 hours ago 6 replies      
We've been looking for something like this, unfortunately the "pull" model won't work for us. We really need a push model so that our statistics server doesn't need access to every single producer. I see the pushgateway, but it seems deliberately not a centralized storage.

I wonder what InfluxDB means by "distributed", that is, if I could use it to implement a push (where distributed agents push to a centralized metric server) model.

mbell 14 hours ago 2 replies      
From the storage system docs:

> which organizes sample data in chunks of constant size (1024 bytes payload). These chunks are then stored on disk in one file per time series.

That is concerning, is this going to have the same problem with disk IO that graphite does? i.e. Every metric update requires a disk IO due to this one file per metric structure.

bhuga 15 hours ago 3 replies      
It's great to see new entrants into the monitoring and graphing space. These are problems that every company has, and yet there's no solution as widely accepted for monitoring, notifications or graphing as nginx is for a web server.

Not that I'd do a better job, but every time I further configure our monitoring system, I get that feeling that we're missing something as an industry. It's a space with lots of tools that feel too big or too small; only graphite feels like it's doing one job fairly well.

Alerting is the worst of it. Nagios and all the other alerting solutions I've played with feel just a bit off. They're either doing too much or carve out a role at boundaries that aren't quite right. This results in other systems wanting to do alerting, making it tough to compare tools.

As an example, Prometheus has an alert manager under development: https://github.com/prometheus/alertmanager. Why isn't doing a great job at graphing enough of a goal? Is it a problem with the alerting tools, or is it a problem with boundaries between alerting, graphing, and notifications?

simple10 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks really promising for smaller clusters. However, the pull/scraping model for stats could be problematic for larger scale.

I've been experimenting with metrics collection using heka (node) -> amqp -> heka (aggregator) -> influxdb -> grafana. It works extremely well and scales nicely but requires writing lua code for anomaly detection and alerts good or bad depending on your preference.

I highly recommend considering Heka[1] for shipping logs to both ElasticSearch and InfluxDB if you need more scale and flexibility than Prometheus currently provides.

[1] https://github.com/mozilla-services/heka

perlgeek 20 hours ago 3 replies      
This looks very interesting.

From http://prometheus.io/docs/introduction/getting_started/

> Prometheus collects metrics from monitored targets by scraping metrics HTTP endpoints on these targets.

I wonder if we'll see some plugins that allow data collection via snmp or nagios monitoring scripts or so. That would make it much easier to switch large existing monitoring systems over to prometheus.

e12e 19 hours ago 2 replies      
So... how does this compare to http://riemann.io/ ? I just re-discovered riemann... and was thinking of pairing it with logstash and have a go. It would seem prometheus does something... similar?
paulasmuth 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug: This looks quite similar to FnordMetric, which also supports labels/multi dimensional time series, is StatsD wire compatible and supports SQL as a query language (so you won't have to learn yet another DSL)
mhax 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a little wary of a monolithic solutions to monitoring/graphing/time series data storage - it gives me flashbacks of nagios/zabbix ;)

I currently use a combination of sensu/graphite/grafana which allows a lot of flexability (albeit with some initial wrangling with the setup)

tinco 17 hours ago 2 replies      
In your architecture I see a single monolithic database server called 'Prometheus'. Does it shard? I can't find it in the documentation. You mention it's compatible with TSDB, why did you choose to implement your own backend, or is this a fork of TSDB?

The tech does look awesome though!

kanwisher 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Would be interesting how this compares to InfluxDb
xfalcox 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Guys, I've seen the libs for collecting services info, but how do I get OS level info, like load average, disk utilization, ram etc..?

I suppose that there's a simple service that we need to deploy on each server?

Any tips on this use case?

rgj 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it me or is it impossible to navigate the documentation on an iPad?
secure 20 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to use InfluxDB + a custom program to scrape HTTP endpoints and insert them into InfluxDB before.

After playing around with Prometheus for a day or so, Im convinced I need to switch to Prometheus :). The query language is so much better than what InfluxDB and others provide.

XorNot 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Huh, how fortuitous. I've been looking for this exact type of thing and HN gives me a great starting place to evaluate.
corford 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks great! Is an official Python client library on the roadmap?
reinhardt1053 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Promdash, the dashboard builder for Prometheus, is written in Ruby on Rails https://github.com/prometheus/promdash
0xdeadbeefbabe 8 hours ago 1 reply      
While monitoring is obviously useful, I'm not understanding the obvious importance of a time series database. Can you collect enough measurements for the time series database to be useful? I worry that I would have lots of metrics to backup my wrong conclusions. I also worry that so much irrelevant data would drown out the relevant stuff, and cause the humans to ignore the system in time. I work with computers and servers, and not airplanes or trains.
Amazon Is in Talks to Buy RadioShack Stores, Report Says
points by swohns  1 day ago   135 comments top 30
blt 1 day ago 3 replies      
Please, please, Amazon, leave 1/16 of the shelf space for electronic components! Pack them densely, don't offer customer support, and charge high prices. We need brick and mortar places to buy components. It might be worth a lot of goodwill from electronics tinkerers. Although I guess that's not a big enough group to matter, but who knows...
Spooky23 1 day ago 8 replies      
Sounds fishy to me.

Radio Shack tends to have old leases in 2nd tier shopping centers. Why would they buy a marginal retailer with poor footprint, when you could just lease stores yourself?

There was a time when getting space in malls and strip shopping centers was tough. This isn't one of those times.

vhost- 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wonder if this is their in for B&M stores. I can also see this as part of their plan to start shipping items before you even buy them. I click checkout and it tells me to just go pick up the item from Radio Shack on 6th and Weidler.
DigitalSea 1 day ago 2 replies      
This could be very interesting if it proves to be true. Seeing Amazon purchase Radioshack and then miraculously return it to its former glory and exclusively sell electronic components, hobbyist kits and stop selling things like TV and phones would be a move that I would wholeheartedly support as would my inner 7 year old self who has fond memories of going to Radioshack with my dad and buying a bag of LED's and various electronic components to build things.

As a bonus they could use it to locally store popular items, use the stores as pick-up and drop-off zones (as the site suggests) and have a few computers consumers can come in and use to order directly off of Amazon. I would hate to see Radioshack die, it kind of makes me sad to think the brand could just vanish.

MilnerRoute 1 day ago 2 replies      
It'd be easier for Amazon to sell Amazon smartphones if their customers could first actually hold one in their hands at the local mall.
CyberDildonics 1 day ago 0 replies      
They should treat the stores as a cache for whatever people in the area order. If someone orders something, send two and put one in the store. That should make things interesting.
bastian 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty sure that Amazon will use the best positioned stores as forward stocking locations. They experimented with a similar concept at WebVan i believe. I also think they now realize that what Postmates and Instacart are doing today (using the city as a warehouse) is actually working and can be attractive to customers.
sosuke 1 day ago 4 replies      
Oh no I sure hope not, the tax will be back and that is enough to move me to other sites in several cases.

Edit: To clarify, no sales tax was one of the first things Amazon and other online retailers had on their side. They could sell things cheaper, even by a little, and the rest would be made up by not having to pay sales tax. If they have a presence in a state though they have to collect sales tax. If you buy a lot from Amazon it is kind of like taking a 8.5% pay cut in buying power. If you remember back in 1997-8 there were several bills popping up around it. My Google-fu is failing me, but this is a real issue. Amazon even discontinued the associates programs in some states to avoid taxes.


e0m 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like the idea that one of the shipping options could be:

"2 day shipping (free with Prime)"

"1 day shipping $3.99"

"Get off your butt and go get it yourself (closest 2 miles)"

BendertheRobot 1 day ago 4 replies      
This would mean sales tax in all 50 states for amazon purchases.
7952 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon sells so many different things that it is difficult to find products within a particular niche. When you look for educational toys on Amazon you will not presented with electronic kits (for example) because mostly that is not what a generic customer wants. Even if you go looking for a particular niche it can be very tricky.

There are lots of sites that sell the same products Amazon do but target a particular niche. A brand like RadioShack could use the Amazon backend and only expose a particular type of product that fits within the traditional RadioShack ethos.

chrisgd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Says RadioShack equity holders
Shivetya 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Would this be a precursor to their delivering items themselves? I wonder if it would allow them to effectively have mini warehouses which are just behind a convenient store front. Something like Amazon Basics, simple items Amazon users buy all the time just now in your neighborhood shopping center.

Hell they could do shipping and receiving like UPS stores if they want. The possibilities are endless.

harmonicon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I have always wanted Amazon to have a store so I can play with their kindle products before pulling the trigger. Hopefully this deal can make that happen.
fubarred 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Bezos could refocus on DIY, hobbyists and maker culture... classes (or sponsorship thereof) would be a good direction to get the cash register filling. It's hard to compete with online, open-source, but there are some things people would pay for (and want) in-person.
julianpye 1 day ago 0 replies      
Scott Galloway talked about this at last week's DLD. You can hear his points and arguments at 6:50 -very insightful video on why Amazon has reached a point where they must make a brick and mortar acquisition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCvwCcEP74Q
raycloyd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Perhaps Amazon Local could expand and extend as a storefront hub that connects with the city's businesses. Or maybe I just wish I could get local goods in Amazon's purchase model
fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Sears & Roebuck dealer store (Smaller Sears stores in typically in rural locations) remade as an Amazon Prime depot/storefront?
VLM 1 day ago 1 reply      
Pump n dump. There's a story on bloomberg that radioshack had been a target for months of leveraged buyout rumors in pump n dump schemes and now, finally, "woosh sound of relaxation" thats all over. LOL little optimistic, not done beating this dead horse yet.
Animats 1 day ago 0 replies      
This makes little sense for Amazon. They have a huge product line. What items would they put in a retail outlet? Unless it's a desperate attempt to push their phone/tablet line.
bhartzer 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would make sense for Amazon to do this, they could stock a limited inventory and expand their quick-delivery option for a limited set of products.
mhuffman 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like to see Amazon Direct-to-Store pickup locations at all existing radioshacks. Do you hear me Amazon!
analog31 1 day ago 0 replies      
So does a retail presence in every state mean that Amazon will pay sales tax?
johansch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Perhaps Amazon is looking to use these locations as pickup-up-places for shipped packages?
mitchell_h 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bloomberg is reporting that "THE SHACK!" is in talks to close half its stores and sell the rest to Sprint.


genopharmix 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a brilliant PR move.
schnevets 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sure Amazon is eying every struggling retailer the exact same way.
sidcool 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I would be much more excited if Google bought it. Google lacks a physical presence that Apple has, and they need it.
tn13 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a good example of why we should let failed companies fail and let good companies then salvage the good assets.

Imagine US government had taken over RadioShack to "protect the jobs" using taxpayers money and spent billions for a so called turnaround.

pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, AmAShack or Radiozon?

I'm not sure I see the logic/advantage of taking over existing RadioShack locations as opposed to just making real estate decisions based upon Amazon's own requirements.

A select subset of their stores might be quite select (and limited in number).

Atom now using Io.js
points by skyllo  1 day ago   130 comments top 11
juddlyon 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those of you who like me who aren't sure what this is about: Atom - text editor from Github, Io.js - node.js fork.
dshankar 1 day ago 2 replies      
This isn't particularly surprising, NW.js (previously called node-webkit) switched to IO.js as well.

Edit: to clarify, this is relevant because both Atom and NW.js use a webkit shell.

sigzero 1 day ago 8 replies      
Until they fix the 2MB limitation on editing files. No way.
joshstrange 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is good news but I'm a little confused, if Io.js supports ES6 why do you need 6to5?
jbrooksuk 1 day ago 1 reply      
What does this mean for Atom? Is it faster? Is the compiled size now smaller?
kikki 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is interesting, and a very big business move to make the switch. Does this say something for the future of Node?
luisrudge 1 day ago 1 reply      
plus 6to5 support! :)
crucialfelix 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was just wondering today when this might happen. specifically because I want to use generators in a plugin (supercollider ide). great job guys !
visarga 23 hours ago 2 replies      
90% of my work is on remote files by SFTP/SSH. How's that working in Atom?
jbeja 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who cares? Is going to be slow an unusable non the less.
jtth 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why would I ever use a text editor that uses even node.js, let alone some even newer thing? I don't understand how people can commit to such a thing.
Microsoft Acquires Calendar App Sunrise for North of $100M
points by jonas21  9 hours ago   87 comments top 24
aresant 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Very interesting.

A key feature of Sunrise is ""Users can access their calendars from Google, iCloud, and Microsoft Exchange, as well as connecting to a wide range of other third-party apps. "

Microsoft clearly understands that data-portability is becoming a major feature / factor in purchasing decisions.

Google, on the other hand, keeps trimming portability - particularly with MSFT.

In august, for instance, they killed Google Calendar Sync which made for simplified syncing with Outlook Calendar. (1)

If portability is what's driving this acquisition and strategy I am excited to see what's coming next.

(1) https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/6054804?hl=en

justin 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Congrats to the Sunrise team! They built the calendar app I always wanted Kiko to be. Pretty cool to see startups succeed in this space.
sz4kerto 9 hours ago 4 replies      
We can expect something similar to what happened to Acompli: rebranding first, quick release then a probable tighter integration with MS products.

It's incredible though that a calendar app is worth >$100M.

habosa 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I see some comments like 'how can a calendar app be worth $100M?' but I'd suspect those people have never used Sunrise.

When you first download Sunrise you think 'wow, I can actually enjoy my calendar app!'. It's beautiful, fast, works on every platform and with every calendar provider.

Then you integrate it with all of your other services and you see how calendar can rival email as the center of your digital life. If you think about it, we should be checking our calendars to find out what we need to do, not our email.

Congrats to Joey (shoutout to HackNY!) and the rest of the team. This is a great reward for building a great app in an essential category.

sergiotapia 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Tried to use it, but god damn!

"Sunrise Calendar will receive the following info: your public profile, friend list, email address, birthday, work history, education history, events, groups and current city and your friends' birthdays, work histories and education histories."

Yeah, not gonna happen.

cheriot 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know what's different/interesting about their calendar? The company home page and app store pages don't bother with a product overview.
SeanKilleen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my most indispensable apps on iOS. I use it multiple times per day. I hope the excellent integration remains. My guess is that Sunrise will stay on its own or become the next version of Outlook's calendar on iOS (which is fine by me as long as it remains free and usable with my Google Calendar as well.)

Congratulations to the team!

tdicola 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Wow what drives up the valuation that much, is it a big userbase, lots of investors to pay back, or something else?
mcmancini 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As with Acompli, Sunrise looks nice and has some nice features, but I can't get over the privacy/security problems. I'm interested to see how Microsoft can improve things.
tw04 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this was the wrong purchase. Sunrise has no ability to dial conference calls from the calendar, the #1 feature for business users. And based on their response to my RFE, they have no plans of implementing it. I don't understand why they didn't go for tempo calendar. Sunrise looks nice, but the feature set is severely lacking compared to its competitors.

Oh internet warriors, I'd love to hear why my opinion is "wrong" rather than trying to bury a legitimate comment that applies directly to the discussion at hand.

harisamin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Met one of the founders at a google business growth event. Really well spoken and nice guy. Good for them. Happy for the team :)
gtirloni 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Just noticed they require read and write access to public and private repositories for GitHub integration. Is it really necessary?
Raphael 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I would have made a calendar app if I had known it would be worth that much.

Edit: It features the JQueryUI date picker. Funny how such value can come from free software.

walterbell 8 hours ago 1 reply      
We need support for CalDav open-source servers, e.g. owncloud, zimbra. Nov 2014 status was "not yet": https://twitter.com/mathur_anurag/status/434729199144689665
nilkn 9 hours ago 1 reply      
While I'll always be amazed to see apps like this selling for such huge sums of money, I have to say Microsoft has good taste in apps. First Accompli, now Sunrise. They're basically going down the list of my favorite third-party Android apps.
vassvdm 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats Pierre, Jeremy and team!
dmix 8 hours ago 1 reply      
One reason why: to integrate with Cortana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Cortana
bmoresbest55 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I just started using this app. I hope that they don't shutdown the service and make it Microsoft only. Keep with the way Skype is going. Fingers crossed.
xe4l 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This acquisition likely had a bit to do with the access sunrise has to so many non-microsoft calendar accounts.
frio 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not surprised. The calendar in the new iOS Outlook app is almost 1:1 with Sunrise's UX.
desireco42 8 hours ago 0 replies      
While congrats and good for them, it seems that some companies have money to burn.
eriksie 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Best calendar app for android.
hobonumber1 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I use Sunrise and I hope they dont shut this app down, but I'm pretty sure they will.
slykat 9 hours ago 7 replies      
Anyone concerned they will pull gCal support to drive customers towards MSFT products?
Knightmare: A DevOps CautionaryTale (2014)
points by strzalek  1 day ago   83 comments top 18
vijucat 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I once shut down an algorithmic trading server by hastily typing (in bash):

- Ctrl-r for reverse-search through history

- typing 'ps' to find the process status utility (of course)

- pressing Enter,....and realizing that Ctrl-r actually found 'stopserver.sh' in history instead. (There's a ps inside stoPServer.sh)

I got a call from the head Sales Trader within 5 seconds asking why his GUI showed that all Orders were paused. Luckily, our recovery code was robust and I could restart the server and resume trading in half a minute or so.

That's $250 million to $400 million of orders on pause for half a minute. Not to mention my heartbeat.

Renamed stopserver.sh to stop_server.sh after that incident :|

P.S. typing speed is not merely overrated, but dangerous in some contexts. Haste makes waste.

ratsbane 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't read something like this without feeling really bad for everyone involved and taking a quick mental inventory of things I've screwed up in the past or potentially might in the future. Pressing the enter key on anything that affects a big-dollar production system is (and should be) slightly terrifying.
NhanH 1 day ago 5 replies      
Everytime I'm reading the story, there is one question that I've never understood: why can't the just shutdown the servers itself? There ought to be some mechanism to do that. I mean, $400 millions is a lot of money to not just bash the server with a hammer. It seems like they realized the issue early on and was debugging for at least part of the 45 minutes. I know they might not have physical access to the server, but wouldn't there be any way to do a hard reboot?
otakucode 1 day ago 1 reply      
While articles like this are very interesting for explaining the technical side of things, I am always left wondering about the organizational/managerial side of things. Had anyone at Knight Capital Group argued for the need of an automated and verifiable deployment process? If so, why were their concerns ignored? Was it seen as a worthless expenditure of resources? Given how common automated deployment is, I think it would be unlikely that none of the engineers involved ever recommended moving to a more automated system.

I encountered something like this about a year ago at work. We were deploying an extremely large new system to replace a legacy one. The portion of the system which I work on required a great deal of DBA involvement for deployment. We, of course, practiced the deployment. We ran it more than 20 times against multiple different non-production environments. Not once in any of those attempts was the DBA portion of the deployment completed without error. There were around 130 steps involved and some of them would always get skipped. We also had the issue that the production environment contained some significant differences from the non-production environments (over the past decade we had, for example, delivered software fixes/enhancements which required database columns to be dropped... this was done on the non-production systems, but was not done on the production environment because dropping the columns would take a great deal of time). Myself and others tried to raise concerns about this, but in the end we were left to simply expect to do cleanup after problems were encountered. Luckily we were able to do the cleanup and the errors (of which there were a few) were able to be fixed in a timely manner. We also benefitted from other portions of the system having more severe issues, giving us some cover while we fixed up the new system. The result, however, could have been very bad. And since it wasn't, management is growing increasingly enamored with the idea of by-the-seat-of-your-pants development, hotfixes, etc. When it eventually bites us as I expect it will, I fear that no one will realize it was these practices that put us in danger.

ooOOoo 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The post is quite poor and suffer a lot from hindsight bias.Following article is so much better:http://www.kitchensoap.com/2013/10/29/counterfactuals-knight...
rgj 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Repurposing a flag should be spread over two deployments. First remove the code using the old flag, then verify, then introduce code reusing the flag.

Even if the deployment was done correctly, during the deployment there would be old and new code in the system.

serve_yay 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you fill the basement with oily rags for ten years, when the building goes up in flames, is it the fault of the guy who lit a cigarette?
gunnark01 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to work in the HFT, and I dont understand is why there was no risk controls. They way we did it was to have explicit shutdown/pause rules (pause meaning that the strategy will only try to get flat).

The rules where things like: - Too many trades in one direction (AKA. big pos) - P/L down by X over Y - P/L up by X over Y - Orders way off the current price

When ever there was a shutdown/pause a human/trader would need to assess the situation and decide to continue or not.

Mandatum 1 day ago 2 replies      
I remember reading a summary of this when it occurred in 2012. It's obvious to everyone here what SHOULD have been done, and I find this pretty surprising in the finance sector..

Also your submission should probably have (2014) in the title.

solarmist 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why would they repurpose an old flag at all? That seems crazy to me unless it was something hardware bound.
beat 22 hours ago 0 replies      
It's nice to see a more detailed technical explanation of this. I've used the story of Knight Capital is part of my pitching for my own startup, which addresses (among other things) consistency between server configurations.

This isn't just a deployment problem. It's a monitoring problem. What mechanism did they have to tell if the servers were out of sync? Manual review is the recommended approach. Seriously? You're going to trust human eyeballs for the thousands of different configuration parameters?

Have computers do what computers do well - like compare complex system configurations to find things that are out of sync. Have humans do what humans do well - deciding what to do when things don't look right.

narrator 1 day ago 2 replies      
Somebody was on the other side of all those trades and they made a lot of money that day. That's finance. Nobody loses money, no physical damage gets done and somebody on the other side of the poker table gets all the money somebody else lost.
__abc 1 day ago 1 reply      
This must be an old wives tale. I live in Chicago and a trading form on the floor beneath us went bankrupt, in roughly the same time, with a similar "repurposed bit" story.

Maybe it's the same one .....

bevacqua 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ah yes, this story is legendary. I discuss it in my JavaScript Application Design book[1]. Chaos-monkey server-ball-wrecking sounds like a reasonable way to mitigate this kind of issues (and sane development/deployment processes, obviously)

[1]: http://bevacqua.io/bf

aosmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wasn't Knight in trouble for some other things as well?
recursive 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Power Peg"? More like powder keg.
danbruc 1 day ago 1 reply      
What really looks broken to me in this story is the financial system. It has become an completely artificial and lunatic system that has almost nothing to do with the real - goods and services producing - economy.
hcarvalhoalves 1 day ago 2 replies      
As usual in catastrophic failures, a series of bad decisions had to occur:

- They had dead code in the system

- They repurposed a flag for a previous functionality

- They (apparently) didn't had code reviews

- They didn't had a staging environment

- They didn't had a tested deployment process

- They didn't had a contingency plan to revert the deploy

It could be minimized or avoided altogether by fixing just one of the points. Incredible.

First NetHack bot ascension
points by ivank  1 day ago   82 comments top 12
statico 1 day ago 2 replies      
You can watch players (and bots) play NetHack in real time:

    telnet nethack.alt.org
...then hit "w" to watch games that are in progress. You might need to resize your window, and some players might be using a different character set than your terminal.

If you want to start playing, telnet there, create an account, hit "p" to play a game and then "?" to read basic help. http://nethack.alt.org/ will keep logs of your game as well as other stats.

This post also mentions previous bot attempts such as the Tactical Amulet Extraction Bot (TAEB), which is also worth looking at: http://taeb.github.io/

Warning, SPOILERS: If you're okay with spoiling the game to some extent (e.g., solutions to common puzzles, which corpses are safe to eat, strategies), check out the NetHackWiki: http://nethackwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page

jashkenas 1 day ago 2 replies      
Folks, do yourself a favor, and check out the bot's source: https://github.com/krajj7/BotHack/blob/master/src/bothack/bo...

It's really, really neat. Even to those of us who know little or nothing about the game, from the nested Englishy descriptors piled up into short conditions for things-the-bot-might-want-to-do, the basic strategies can be discerned...

jedberg 1 day ago 7 replies      
At the risk of losing my nerd card, I've never played Nethack.

I read the reddit thread, and while it was in English, it made not a lick of sense to me. Now I know how non-engineers feel sometimes. :)

BTW, can someone tell me why this is such an amazing accomplishment? I know Nethack is very old, so is this a case of a complex problem space or just no one has tried before?

jere 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you find this interesting, take note that people were writing bots to beat Rogue over 30 years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_(video_game)#Automated_pl...
bkcooper 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good stuff.

There's a bot with several wins in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, another roguelike. The combinations it has won are pretty rote, but it's still very impressive, particularly since I don't think it's even capable of knowing that much about the game (it uses Lua handles to pick up information about the state and I believe there's a fair chunk of the game that isn't exposed that way.)

riffraff 1 day ago 0 replies      
> the bot has already managed to reach Rodney without farming and can get to the Castle and beyond fairly reliably, maybe 1 in 10 runs or so

so, the bot is also a better player than me.

th0br0 1 day ago 2 replies      
Reading through the comments, I realized that people even do speedruns in Nethack... impressive.
fjarlq 1 day ago 0 replies      
Video of the winning game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unCQHAbGsAA

The author's list of milestones illustrates the key components of this achievement, as well as some limitations:


Awesome work, Jan Krajicek!

guelo 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the difficulties for a human playing Nethack is remembering all the potions and amulets and wands and scrolls and rings and monsters and their effects and many, many, many combinations. In a way a bot should have an easier time since it has basically unlimited memory.
nkuttler 1 day ago 1 reply      
That is truly impressive. I remember what a colossal achievement my first ascension felt like. Nethack is such a complex game, but the most important skill is probably patience and planning single moves, something a bot can be perfect or very good at. Now I feel like playing again.
samfoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really amazing achievement, kudos to duke-nh!

For those of you who are looking to get into nethack, or play it all the time... (shameless plug) I've been working on a project for some years that helps ease some of the monotony of playing.


For example, it keeps track of where you see shops, so you can come back, maps out levels and what you've seen on them, and auto-price identifies things you pick up.

There's a rudimentary plugin system so you can write your own extensions (more coming soon).

mkramlich 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm the creator of a Rogue-like game (Dead By Zombie) and love NetHack, consider it one of the masterpieces of game design I've tried to study and learn from. Lessons baked into it both in terms of game design and software. Has a lot of bang per buck, in terms of fun/value per LOC, and per square inch of screen real estate.

If anybody gets introduced to Rogue-like UI for the first time because of this article, and likes it, I also recommend checking out Dwarf Fortress. Similar but very very different in ways that people tend to either love or hate.

Laravel 5 released
points by pyprism  14 hours ago   101 comments top 19
colinramsay 14 hours ago 2 replies      
There's an article specifically about the release here:


It might be a better way to get an overview of this release as it links to various other articles about v5.

An article specifically on the changes:


rdoherty 13 hours ago 4 replies      
After using Laravel 4 for an internal company tool I have a hard time recommending it (sadly, I was hopeful). I found the docs to be uneven in quality/scope, some key features (mostly around the ORM) missing and the 'feel' to be slightly off.

It's hard to quantify, but I have used CakePHP, Yii, Rails (0.9 through 4), Django and plenty of home-grown 'frameworks'. From all those the most cohesive and understandable to me was Rails followed by Yii (surprisingly).

Maybe it's the docs or structure, but Rails and Yii have a strong opinion and it seems their developers have both CS smarts and industry experience, which shows in the structure and code.

I'm sure in time Laravel will mature and improve. Currently it just feels like there's a lot more hype than it merits.

saluki 13 hours ago 3 replies      
If you're new to Laravel or want to learn more check out http://Laracasts.com. Jeff Way does a great job. (Just a fan/current subscriber).
lukeholder 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Laravel represents what modern PHP can do and be. Clean, organised, fully object-oriented. Kudos to what Taylor Otwell has created both from a marketing perspective and technical standpoint.
ianhawes 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Having watched Laravel 5 throughout development, I'm personally unhappy with the fact that most of the nice features of Laravel have been removed.

For example, the default version of Laravel 4.x shipped with the "Whoops" PHP stack trace view, which is far superior to the L5-default Symfony stack trace view. Other features were removed too, including the HTML library. Blade tags were changed for no reason.

Overall, it feels like instead of adding requested features, Taylor decided to redesign the architecture for no reason.

iN7h33nD 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like Laravel, it makes getting things started easier. I am glad I finally have a good way to manage my assets from within Laravel so that I don't have to deal with all of that myself every time. The only thing I find Laravel lacking is Web Socket support and every time I tried to implement something I would basically give up and switch to Node.js. Is there anything that can get web sockets working in Laravel?
ponyous 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the `Architecture Foundations` section in documentation [1]. I wonder why more frameworks don't do this. It happens a lot that I have no idea where to put files when I start with some frameworks. I am still not sure how good it is but I am reading through it right now.

[1] http://laravel.com/docs/master/providers

mcmillion 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I tend to use Laravel when the client/project forces me to use PHP rather than Rails. It's not bad when coming from the Rails world.

I also have a bit of pride that it's made in Arkansas. Yes, we have computers and the internet here.

gude 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Laracasts has a series of introductory screencasts on Laravel 5: https://laracasts.com/series/laravel-5-fundamentals
leftnode 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a fan of Symfony but love that there are several advanced frameworks pushing the state of the art forward (Symfony, Laravel, ZF2).
brianbreslin 13 hours ago 8 replies      
What are the main advantages of Laravel over say Cake or Symfony?
emilsundberg 14 hours ago 0 replies      
graystevens 14 hours ago 0 replies      
For those currently using Laravel, here are some upgrade guides due to the large changes from 4 -> 5



vruiz 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks like some links are broken.For example http://laravel.com/docs/authentication redirects to -> http://laravel.com/docs/4.2/authentication which is 404.
whatsthatyousay 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Ive been so excited about this! Though I kinda miss the call to action buttons that they had on the old site. Scrolled down the page looking for the quickstart button before I had a "duh" moment and clicked on documentation.
import 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Bad to see, Laravel still doesn't have an LTS version. Upgrading is a pain.
dieg0 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome news, been expecting this since a mysterious twit last week, Laravel is awesome, can't wait to check v5


Scarbutt 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Can you really write beautiful code in PHP?
debaserab2 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Deal-breakers for me with Laravel:

- Blade templating language. I don't need yet another templating syntax to learn, especially one that isn't analogous to others I know and are common among other frameworks.

- I really can't imagine going back to an active record based ORM. I've learned too many hard performance lessons from Doctrine1 and rails at this point.

- Facade/proxy pattern based classes. I think as they are implemented in the actual framework, these are done correctly. However, I think the userland understanding of this pattern is often lacking and leads to a lot of glorified singletons that are some how touted as acceptable because they call them facade/proxy based.

In the giant lineup of frameworks, ranging from something as simple as SlimPHP or silex, all the way to enterprise targeted frameworks like Zend Framework 2, I just don't see why I'd ever pick Laravel as the go-to solution in any use case.

Debian Jessie on Raspberry Pi 2
points by EmanueleAina  1 day ago   68 comments top 12
mik3y 1 day ago 3 replies      
For those interested in rolling their own RPi rootfs builds:

- Spindle is a collection of scripts that's used to build the 'official' Raspbian images. It's hardly stripped-down as-is, and far from my favorite rootfs building strategy, but is a starting point: https://github.com/asb/spindle

- Yocto / OpenEmbedded recipes are available for truly stripped-down build possibilities. Here's a random blog post specific to RPi: https://delog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/embedded-linux-system...

- The resin.io folks are trying to do "docker for embedded devices", with RPi as one of the initial targets. They have a pre-built rootfs that pulls your docker images via their (proprietary) cloud service. https://resin.io/

xorcist 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know if the ethernet port still hangs off the USB bus? The CPU usage of that thing killed the last use case I had. (Not to mention the stability. The BeagleBone turned out to be solid in it's place.)
awjr 1 day ago 4 replies      
I have to say, the Pi 2 comes across less as a bit of fun and more as something you can really start doing interesting things with.

Currently investigating image processing and ANPR using OpenCV.

falcolas 1 day ago 3 replies      
How the hell is a "really basic" Linux distro 3G in size? To me, a "really basic" Linux install, particularly one which is just capable of providing a prompt, should come in at less than 1/10th of that size: Kernel & modules, basic shared libraries, standard linux command line tools... what else?

For comparison, my ubuntu VM is under 1.5G, and that's not been a "really basic" install even when it was first created.

[EDIT] Thanks, it's the whole disk partition image, not the distro itself.

lamby 1 day ago 1 reply      
No script to reproduce this image? We would all jump down sjoerd's throat if he asked us to "curl | sudo sh -", but this is almost equivalent :)
IgorPartola 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if the RPi 2 has hardware accelerated crypto? A project of mine that serves HTTPS video streams from an RPi was not usable on a model B with more than 8 users.

By comparison, I know CubieBoard has accelerated crypto but I don't want to switch horses half way, so to speak.

leni536 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well I'm not a Pi user but thanks for bmap-tools. How did I not know about this before?
AlyssaRowan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Good start. Doesn't the BCM firmware have initramfs support already? Try ORGing it in at a00000 with config.txt.

Mainline wasn't that far behind but uses bcm2835 instead of bcm2708. That might change/need an update now - not sure? Will find out in a few days!

rcarmo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice, although I'd rather have a mini Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Ubuntu on ARMv7 is great, and I'd like a minimal distribution to get started.

There's Snappy Core, but to be honest I don't want to run that on a Pi just yet.

hayd 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder what the chances of playstation 2 emulation working on RPi2 ?? :s
listic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Will this RPi2 support get upstream into Debian Jessie? That would be awesome.
dmritard96 1 day ago 1 reply      
been using jessie on older pis for a while with lessbian
SWEATSHOP I cant take any more
points by sphericalgames  1 day ago   224 comments top 26
nkoren 1 day ago 7 replies      
I'm an American with a left-wing upbringing and still broadly left-wing politics. When I graduated from architecture school in 2001, I wanted some international experience, so I moved to India. What I saw there utterly transformed my preconceptions of sweatshops -- because I saw it before the sweatshops began opening.

One of the projects I was helping to design was a "science city" tech campus. The workers lived in an encampment next to the construction site. They worked from dawn until dusk for 6.5 days per week -- half a day off on Sunday -- every day of the month except for the new moon. Children as young as 6 were working -- moving and sorting materials, but quite dangerous inasmuch as it was on a live construction site. The standard wage was roughly $3 per MONTH (although food and very nominal shelter -- really more like "camping space" -- were provided for free). These were not outrageously abusive labour practices -- they were absolutely bog-standard practice of local industry, preferable to many of the alternatives for these people.

Seeing this situation with my own eyes, I realised that if these people had the option to work in one of those $1/day sweatshops I'd heard anti-globalisation activists go on about -- in line with my own sympathies -- it would be an absolute DREAM. Since then, I've been rabidly pro-globalisation. These days, I get incensed when I see people going on about the horrors of globalisation, with absolutely ZERO understanding of the counter-factual. Utter ignorance of how bad it would be otherwise.

The one case where I'll allow that sweatshops are problematic is when their owners become so powerful that they corrupt the local politics and take steps to ensure that that the population cannot develop its economy any further. This has happened in some places, creating locked-in populations for whom the sweatshop is not the bottom rung of the ladder, but the top. That's an actual problem, where it has happened -- but in most of the world (eg. India, China, most of the rest of East Asia), that's NOT the story that's played out, and sweatshops have been a vital (but temporary) step in economic development.

bruna597 1 day ago 8 replies      
Something that bothers me is the fact that even though they have cried on the show and said that they were going to do something to help, if you search for them on the internet, its clear that they aren't doing anything about it! Even the girl who has a fashion blog, she is still writing about the trademarks that use this kind of abusive job to make their clothes...
JonnieCache 1 day ago 4 replies      
The BBC did their own version of this in 2008 called Blood Sweat and T Shirts.


The gimmick was that most of the kids were ludicrous pampered upper middle class fashion students with no sense of perspective, or at least the programme was edited to portray them as such. Much of the entertainment came from watching them subjected to backbreaking labor while their self-contained worldviews crumbled around them.

foobar2020 1 day ago 9 replies      
I really don't understand this problem. Why does everybody think people in Asia are forced to do this kind of work? These people would be incredibly poor if not for western companies. Actually most of them would die being children as a result of their poverty: malnutrition, accidents, preventable diseases such as polio or measles.

Go now and check what was China's annual GDP per capita in Mao Zedong times. Just see it. Apparently a lot of people need this kind of basic history education.

Yaron Brook has more knowledge on the topic:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwb8m_ZbU-U&feature=youtu.be...

macarthy12 1 day ago 2 replies      
Honestly I would imagine those 3 Millennials having an issue with most hard work.

I live in Asia, I look though a different lens,

- Imagine being loaded on to a truck and brought to factory everyday -- You mean a free ride to work?

- Imagine your kids roaming the factory floor -- No child care costs?

- Imagine having to working 12 hours a day -- I can pay for my kids to go to school ?

- Imagine being stuck in a factory all day -- not under the sun planting rice/corn etc..

Obviously there are a lot of macro and micro-economic factors at work, I just saw a truck delivering a automated t-shirt embroidering machine, so that economic switch has tilted, but do you think the talk will be, "we are free!" or "where did the work go?"

nhangen 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's funny to me that the same HN continually bashing Google for being evil, Uber for being sexist, and startups in general for treating workers like slaves, is the same HN that generalizes and rationalizes this type of behavior.

We complain that minimum wage workers here aren't paid enough in the US, and yet we're OK with people making $3/day, pushed to their limit by a boss that might as well be a warden.

This may not be slavery, but it is indentured servitude.

And I say this as someone lacking a single liberal bone in my body.

tellarin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Better link: http://www.aftenposten.no/webtv/serier-og-programmer/sweatsh...

This one shows the whole thing. One can watch all episodes online with English subtitles.

auganov 1 day ago 4 replies      
Am I a bad person for thinking it was going to be a post about a techie fed up with working at a software consultancy?
colmvp 1 day ago 9 replies      
So, I remember seeing this on Reddit a few weeks back.

Some commenters mentioned that sweatshops are a necessary evil for developing nations. It's better to have a shitty job than to have the alternative of being jobless and resorting to theft/prostitution for sustenance.

How true is such an argument?

3454359009 1 day ago 1 reply      
Kind of funny. I started in similar conditions. But I hear constantly to "check my privilege" from someone with $100K+ income, university and $500 handbag.
Sakes 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is emotionally confusing for me. It seems like the general consensus on HN is that this is a necessary evil. I can get on board with that, but it still feels wrong.

I guess the only way to think about it is progress is progress, so if sweatshops are an improvement for these people, then there is good in it for them... for now...

We have seen China over a few decades transition from textiles, to tech manufacturing, and now developing IP products and services. Is this the norm? Or the exception?

I just have questions at this point, but I guess for the time being... back to work.

Kenji 1 day ago 5 replies      
I wonder, how can we in the first world change our behaviour here to stop things like that? Does the very way we live cause this or are the causes local?
unimportant 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sweatshops themselves aren't the problem, but rather the fact that the game is rigged against the average person.

They could just farm self sustainably, however they lack the knowledge and large landowners own the land. They also tend to have too many kids as well.

You can choose between being a peasant that is given some land to work as farmland in exchange for a shack to dwell in and some very basic food or be slightly less worse off in a sweatshop. You get fucked either way and there is no way out as education is a joke in cambodia and the like and there is no industry to employ any higher educated people to begin with.

known 1 day ago 1 reply      
Unlike Capitalism, Globalization is Zero-sum WITHOUT http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income
sleepyhead 1 day ago 0 replies      
I lived in Phnom Penh where this was filmed. The trucks carrying workers at the end of the day is a normal sight in the outskirts of the city. The average pay for this type of job is about $100 depending on how much extra overtime you put in.

How to fix it? I have some ideas but that would be on a much smaller scale. Basically a more direct model. The fashion industry needs to be disrupted and consumers must get more information about how brands produce clothes.

The problem today is that the government in Cambodia is extremely corrupt. They can't be relied on to improve conditions or put up the minimum wage (well they have a little bit but it is still under what can be considered a liveable wage). The big brands however point the finger at the government (H&M, Nike, Puma all put out press releases that blame laws and government practices). They say it is the job of government to improve. They sit in their nice offices in New York and Stockholm, in cities that were built over a long time with a long history of democracy and with a society that was built bit for bit. That took a long time. It is incomparable to the state of Cambodia (which started on a blank slate 30 years ago or so). Thus the government there is not qualified to make the required changes. The brands however are. They are in countries with good laws and fairly decent labour practices. They should take responsibility. They should not hide behind their suppliers. They can easily define contracts that require suppliers to have better minimum standards and wages for workers. It would not mean much difference in profits for these companies. A lady makes a shirt and earns $3/day, does it really matter if she is paid $5/day? Would the $50 shirt cost much more at the store? Nope.

I think the most pragmatic solution is that developed countries introduce taxes for clothes that are not ethically produced. That $15 t-shirt from H&M should be $17 and with $2 clearly labeled as non-ethical tax on the price tag.

Also I see some commentators here saying it's much better to work in a factory than to work on the rice fields. 20 years ago you could earn enough as a small farmer. Today that is not the case. Also the rising cost in Cambodia and elsewhere makes the small pay even more a problem than before. The workers earn $100. Rent is easily $30. I used to eat lunch at the market every day in Phnom Penh. It was about $1.50 for noodle soup. You can get a cheaper meal (I'm white and I added some better quality meat). But add that up. And consider you need to buy a towel. That's easily $4. A new pan? $5 for a cheaper one. I lived in Phnom Penh in 2012 and then in 2014. Even I as a foreigner noticed the inflation.

RaffRaff 1 day ago 2 replies      
That's why I keep clear of "ecommerce import from China" businesses.

I just cant do it knowing people suffer while I profit

dandare 1 day ago 3 replies      
And the solution to the problem of poverty in undeveloped nations is.... ?

(hint: it's not aid or communism)

beseth 1 day ago 0 replies      
beseth 1 day ago 0 replies      
pablovidal85 1 day ago 0 replies      
We are the puppet people, put it on our TV, it's true. Sorry but the people that really care about these problems are anywhere but crying on TV.
vdaniuk 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am depressed that significant part of collective intelligence of the most intelligent and influential tech communities on the internet is advocating for sweatshops because the alternative is worse. False dichotomy, if I ever seen one.
cpursley 1 day ago 1 reply      
Idk, still beats wallowing around in the mud waiting for UN handouts. Europe and developed Asia have all been through this stage of development. It's what it takes to modernize.

* I'm not arguing for abuse or child labor of course. There are limits.

pweissbrod 1 day ago 0 replies      
any link for those of us that refuse to install adobe flash?
mkaroumi 1 day ago 4 replies      

Swedish guy here. Any link to a non-Norwegian page with this content?

chippy 1 day ago 3 replies      
In terms of a large profit making company, the company has to make ever increasing profits for the shareholders or else it becomes pretty much illegal. Thus, currently these conditions are necessary, there is nothing to stop them, because to stop them means that a corporation is not operating properly. It is necessary because to not allow it means that a corporation is behaving badly. Like it or not, and in this example most of us hate it, a corporation has to make every effort to increase profit and decrease waste.

How do we change it? As consumers we make it clear to these companies that it's not on. We vote with our money. But the tried and tested solution is via our politicians. We have to make it possible for our corporations to improve the conditions of their suppliers and not incur the wrath of their shareholders.

edits - wow, please read both paragraphs.

One Mans Quest to Rid Wikipedia of Exactly One Grammatical Mistake
points by interkats  1 day ago   171 comments top 28
jeremysalwen 1 day ago 7 replies      
I looked this up, because I was confused about what authority deemed this part of the English language a "grammatical mistake". Meriam Webster notes

>Although it has been in use since the late 18th century, sense 3 is still attacked as wrong. Why it has been singled out is not clear, but until comparatively recent times it was found chiefly in scientific or technical writing rather than belles lettres. Our current evidence shows a slight shift in usage: sense 3 is somewhat more frequent in recent literary use than the earlier senses. You should be aware, however, that if you use sense 3 you may be subject to criticism for doing so, and you may want to choose a safer synonym such as compose or make up.

So it's not even an issue of grammar, it's just a meaning of "comprised" that some people reject. And it's a usage which is clear, widely used, and doesn't have logical issues (like "could care less"). Go figure.

jedberg 1 day ago 4 replies      
> About 8 million English Wikipedia articles are visited every hour, yet only a tiny fraction of readers click the edit button in the top right corner of every page. And only 30,000 or so people make at least five edits per month to the quickly growing site.

You know, I used to make edits all the time. I stopped doing it because every single one was reverted. I'm willing to accept that maybe a few of the edits were possibly incorrect, but I know for sure most of them were correct. And yet the "owners" of the page are so uppity that they revert them anyway, so I gave up.

ashark 1 day ago 2 replies      
> He has, like, 15,000 edits, and hes done almost nothing except fix the incorrect use of comprised of in articles.

Oh man, truly that is God's work. It's likely too late, but it would be nice to save "to comprise" as a distinctive word with its own shades of meaning and differing usage from "to be composed of". Should one become a perfect synonym for the other the English language will have suffered a loss.

josu 1 day ago 0 replies      
The mistake:

>Although comprise is used primarily to mean to include, it is also often stretched to mean is made up ofa meaning that some critics object to. The most cautious route is to avoid using of after any form of comprise and substitute is composed of in sentences like this: Jimmys paper on Marxism was composed entirely of sentences copied off the Marx Brothers Home Page.

>Theres a lot of disagreement about the proper use of comprise, but most authorities agree that the whole comprises the parts: Our pets comprise one dog, two cats, and a turtle. The whole comes first, then comprise followed by the parts. But theres so much confusion surrounding the usage of this word that it may be better to avoid it altogether.


c0ur7n3y 1 day ago 11 replies      
Language is comprised of rules that change over time. If everyone understands a sentence, how can it be incorrect? I suppose I'm just confused by crusades like this.
gnu8 1 day ago 1 reply      
I went on this crusade once, and it was completely unrewarding. I failed utterly to either stomp out the error I was targeting, or to piss anyone off.

The best way to enjoy Wikipedia is just to log out and read articles.

jobu 1 day ago 2 replies      
Filing this away in my memory for future reference. It will be interesting to see if one man can change the direction of a language, even in a small way.

Language is a fluid thing, and the phrase "comprised of" seems perfectly natural to me (and probably most people). Once something like that happens it's usually on the way to becoming grammatically correct, regardless of what the current grammar rules state.

realusername 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sadly there is just no way to prevent a language to evolve, even with an official language body. As a French speaker, they tried that with a very conservative body which is deciding what is good and what is wrong (Acadmie franaise).

The result is that the written language is now separated from the spoken language and both evolved separately. (that's also why the vocal recognition in French does not work well but that's another story). So the alternative is much worse than just accepting that the language is changing.

TillE 1 day ago 3 replies      
The article doesn't even properly explain the mistake. Though it's easy enough to look it up in a dictionary and see that the "of" is superfluous.
leephillips 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a lot of sympathy with this guy and his hopeless quest.But when he says,"It's illogical for a word to mean two opposite things",surely he knows that never stopped anyone:http://lee-phillips.org/literallyEgregious/
DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel sorry for this editor now that these edits are known.

It'll be interesting to see if their edits start attracting reverts and discussion.

Perhaps someone with skills could do before and after charts of edits that stick and exits that got reverted?

jongraehl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's leave aside the current crop of folks who're still reclining in the easy insight of "there is no objective truth".

If you don't want to seem like an idiot, then don't write like an idiot just because recent descriptivist dictionaries were pleased to take note of the increasingly widespread misuse. You will be judged and you won't always have time to explain your principled write-like-an-idiot stance.

Unless you couldn't care less how you come off, because you already care the minimum possible amount.

Aoyagi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah, well, I keep removing apostrophes from (most) plurals. It's a plague. Except I'm not proficient enough to make any software that could help me, so I do that only when I happen to stumble upon it, heh.
cletus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Obligatory xkcd: http://xkcd.com/1108/

Age old argument of whether grammar is prescriptive or descriptive [1]. Anyone who has seen or read Shakespeare should be aware of how English has changed in the last few hundred years. Go back 1000 years and Old English would be utterly unintelligible to any modern English speaker.

Often I encounter people who get a bee in their bonnet about using nouns as verbs or people who are too persnickety about "less" and "fewer". Or the New York Times getting a bug up its posterior about "tweet" [2].

I find the effort some people, including the "comprised of" guy here, spend on this kind of thing somewhat bizarre and a little sad.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_prescription

[2]: http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/15/the-tweet-...

josefresco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one extremely bothered by the "By hand, manually. No tools!" line?

Read the article, tools everywhere!

"He begins by running a software program that he wrote himself"..."he used Google to find the 15,000 or so instances of the phrase"

Surely in the very, very beginning he was doing it "manually" but it seems he's built his own tools, and is blurring the lines between bot/human.

gayprogrammer 1 day ago 0 replies      
We need a GNU Grammar Compiler for the entire English language. Then all we need to ask is, "Does it compile?"
carlob 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks very similar to a question I asked yesterday about enthuse :)


PaulHoule 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is pretty funny that if squash "it's" to "its" 100% of the time you get superhuman performance compared to average people.
bartozone 1 day ago 0 replies      
If Webster added an additional meaning of comprised to actually make this phrase grammatically correct, I wonder if his world would fall apart? ...
js2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why doesn't the wikipedia have a style guide to address language issues such as this?
jorjordandan 1 day ago 0 replies      
reminded of the brilliant David Foster Wallace essay "Tense Present" which is THE BEST


kazinator 1 day ago 1 reply      
This bizarrely obsessed gentleman is very wrong.

The alleged mistake is exemplified in the article like this:

> The Wikipedia editorial community is comprised of many interesting people.

Supposedly, this should be "composed of" or "made up of".

However, that is incorrect. The verb "comprise" is simply being turned into a passive form according to an established pattern which generalizes over many, many English verbs:

    subject verb+tense object    -->    object "to be"+tense verb+pp preposition subject
For instance:

    A eats B       ->   B is eaten by A    A includes B   ->   B is included by A    A included B   ->   B was included by A    A had included B -> B had been included by A    A makes up B   ->   B is made up of A (composed)                   ->   B is made up by A (invented, tidied)
Under this transformation, the preposition has to be suitably chosen to match the verb. It is related to its semantics. For instance "of" doesn't go with "include". And the "make up" example shows that multiple prepositions are possible, depending on the semantics.

To insist that we may not apply this pattern to "comprise" is a very bad case of prescriptivism. It's right up there with insisting that a diaeresis be used in writing words like cooperation, that sentences may not end with prepositions, or that infinitives may not be split.

Here is the real issue:

In modern English, "to comprise" has two meanings which are opposite! It means both "to constitute" (be a part of some whole: to make up) and "to contain" (be a whole, containing something else: to be made up of). The passive construction "to be comprised of" applies to only one of these meanings. It does not work with the "contain" meaning, regardless of what preposition is chosen. For instance:

    This country comprises twenty states. (contains)    * Twenty states are comprised {of, by} this country.

    Twenty states comprise this country. (constitute)    This country is comprised of twenty states.
We cannot indiscriminately wage editorial war on "comprised of" based on the assumption "comprised" always means "contains"! "The Wikipedia editorial community is comprised of many interesting people" is simply the passive form of "many interesting people comprise (constitute, not contain!) the Wikipedia community".

raldi 1 day ago 0 replies      
Are we looking at the next winner of the Ig Nobel prize for literature?
javajosh 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Henderson was born in Olympia, Washington, the middle child of a father who worked for the state government and a mother who taught math in middle school...

Is it just me or do other people have this curious fascination with the manner in which reporters describe the obscure everyman subject? It's kind of a unique thing, when you think about it, boiling down an entire person to a few superficial data points. It shares something with minimalist Eastern art, you know, the sort that uses like two brush strokes to represent a lion. And yet these reporter "brush strokes" inevitably seem far less descriptive than the art, and far less expressive of the reporter's "artistic" intentions--it's like there's an algorithm somewhere that generates these descriptions (perhaps described in a handbook of reporter style?).

NoMoreNicksLeft 1 day ago 0 replies      
Legally, he should be permitted to beat people with a crowbar if they protest his edits.
bbarn 1 day ago 0 replies      
On the one hand, it's dedication. On the other, it looks a little like Aspergers or something on the Autism Spectrum. The man is so strict in a routine that he wears the exact same clothes and follows the exact same schedule every day. He's obsessed with an incredibly minor detail to the point of making a life commitment to change it.
learnstats2 1 day ago 2 replies      
One Man's Quest to ensure that his way is the only way. This illustrates a serious problem with Wikipedia.

It does not allow diversity of thought or opinion - here, it doesn't even allow natural evolution of language over time - if a "wikignome" has decided something is canonical for Wikipedia, then it is. No argument.

No matter how many people believe this is now acceptable usage, one person - typically one white man - has the right to sanction every single one of them.

We are supposed to tell wikignomes that their work is valued (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiGnome). But I don't think this work should be valued.

intortus 1 day ago 2 replies      
You're trying to show how the active and passive sense of verbs contrast, but your examples are inconsistent. Let's keep A and B fixed.

"A eats B" -> "B is eaten by A". Makes total sense!

"A comprises B" -> "B is comprised by A". This makes sense too!

However, no one uses "comprised of" this way. The overwhelmingly common usage is "A is comprised of B", when what is really meant is "A comprises B". In other words, people rarely use the active form of "to comprise", and when they use the passive form they usually invert its meaning.

Arguably that's just how language works, and of course I can carry a conversation with someone who speaks this way without skipping a beat. But the written compendium of all the world's knowledge should aspire to slightly higher formality.

Apple's original business plan
points by sirteno  2 days ago   69 comments top 14
NhanH 2 days ago 5 replies      
The plan itself looks reasonable to me. It's fairly buzzword-free (comparing to the plans nowadays), but maybe the buzzword back then just became common vocabulary to us.

The most interesting thing on the plan to me is the staff page: specifically how non-impressive the credentials of everyone on the team is. It's fun to think that Jobs might have embellish a little there (attended Stanford part) just to look better. Even the one with most credentials (Markkula, I believe) just read like a normal upper-middle management bio nowadays. And Woz & Jobs ... well, I don't think any company nowadays would be able to raise fund if the founder s' bios look like that.

Am I wrong?

eddywebs 2 days ago 1 reply      
The source of this document is computer history muesem website. linky >> http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/text/2009/10271...
swamp40 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder why "Apple" is whited out? The "Staff" page pretty much gives it away.
coreyh14444 2 days ago 3 replies      
Modern conventional wisdom would tell them to "focus".
ezl 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wouldn't invest. That growth curve doesn't seem reasonable.

VC's: I don't really see there being an interest in this. What's the viral coefficient?

maxsavin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting - Jobs went to Stanford?

Also, surprising he let him self be #3 on the list after apparently picking a fight with Woz about who would be employee #1

chrispeel 2 days ago 0 replies      
From a couple of sources it looks like their revenue forecasts for the PC market were too low:http://www.etforecasts.com/products/ES_pcww1203.htm

I'm curious who the target of this was; was this aimed at the banks who they got the $250k loan from that Markkula signed for?

caublestone 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't think this is Apple. On page 5 it specifically calls out Apple as being part of the Hobbyist market. That right there makes this even more interesting as this thorough business plan was beat out by a company recognized as Hobbyist instead of a pc manufacturer.

So who is this?

staunch 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Because of the applications development ability of the software oriented hobbyist, Apple will continue to service his needs.

Developers. Developers. Developers. Developers. Developers.

nsxwolf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Whatever that reader app they are using is... Wow does it suck on iOS Safari. I can't figure out what the heck is going on.
mraison 1 day ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see that the "growth curve" was already a thing back then.
fit2rule 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it usable as a template for a business plan today?
mkaroumi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Omg, THANKS for sharing this!
Hard Drive Data Sets
points by epistasis  10 hours ago   56 comments top 14
budmang 10 hours ago 2 replies      
At Backblaze, we've done a lot of our own analyses on our hard drives to look at which ones are most reliable, whether temperature affects reliability, etc. However, we kept being asked for the raw data so people could run their own analyses.

This data set releases 500 million data points on 41,000 drives. I imagine you guys here at YCombinator/Hacker News are the ones who'd find this data amongst the most useful. Enjoy and let us know what you find!

L_Rahman 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you haven't already come across Backblaze's series of blog posts based on these data sets, they're worth reading. Invaluable in helping me make an HDD purchasing decision and full of well presented data.


DanBC 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Thanks for this!

I'd be interested in whether shucking drives from external enclosures has any noticible effect on drive life. But the data doesn't seem to capture whether the drivers were shucked or not?

Is that something Backblaze has investigated? Or is the need for drives such that it doesn't matter if shucking does cause shorter life?

miduil 2 hours ago 1 reply      
@brianwski [Offtopic] Is backblaze going to implement delta copy or something similar in soon future? The last time I checked it definitely didn't. This becomes a real issue if I'm working on bigger binary files, since backblaze is syncing the whole file again - instead of only it's difference...PS: Found this interesting comparison of backup services:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_online_backup_se...
ilzmastr 2 hours ago 1 reply      
thanks for sharing this! A few quick questions:

- Do you guys do any precise prediction on if a particular drive will fail soon and replace it?

- I notice a lot of sparsity in some rows, that is different than a 0 in that field I assume? Does that mean anything else interesting?

- Also under the "inconsistent fields" section you say "drive manufacturers don't generally disclose what their specific numbers mean," can you give a hint as to one of the drive models that has a minimally sparse smart readout and has information available from the manufacturer on what those smart numbers signify?

I figure if anyone has collected the references on what the metadata means, and for which models it is available, it's you guys :)

peterebailey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I merged the two years of data into a single R data file for convenience:


alsocasey 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very much appreciated:

1. As mentioned by others, there really is very little data on HD failure rates.

2. When you first published your blog on failure rates across HD brands/models and SMART attributes many, myself included, suggested it might be more illuminating as a predictive modelling exercise. This data allows others to do that now, which is great!

skore 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Nitpicking: It seems you might have an issue with font loading - for me (Firefox on Linux), it reverts to font-weight 100, making the text (which is missing <p> tags, by the way) almost completely unreadable.

Fig A.: http://i.imgur.com/9rLQwQQ.png

justcommenting 8 hours ago 1 reply      
as someone who made previous comments on backblaze data analyses posted on HN, i wanted to say thanks. this is fantastic, and i'm looking forward to digging into these data! and even though i share some of the same sentiments from other commenters, i'm sorry you've gotten so many bike shed remarks from other commenters.
avani 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm really looking forward to playing with these; thanks for releasing them, especially since there is so little failure data out there.
aceperry 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice. Glad to see more info out there for people to see and use. Backblaze has done a great service for everyone including the hard disk industry.
mischanix 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Minor nitpick: using LZMA to compress large text files like this before distribution is normally better; here 7z is LZMA, zip is DEFLATE:

    739M    2013_data    37M     2013_data.7z    78M     2013_data.zip
Using [1] for reference, if the download speed is less than ~20MB/s, LZMA is faster than DEFLATE. Though, the data there is a bit less compressible than these csv files, so the break-even point for transfer rate would be higher here; even so, in my case, the download speed was much slower than 20MB/s.

1. http://richg42.blogspot.com/2015/01/parallelized-downloaddec...

mturmon 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Releasing this data is a real service, thanks.

I'm unable to explain the plethora of comments nearby about peripheral issues. Weird.

moe 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great resource, Thank you!
Announcing MongoDB 3.0
points by meghan  1 day ago   140 comments top 26
davidw 1 day ago 4 replies      
> a database so powerful, flexible, and easy to manage that it can be the new DBMS standard for any team, in any industry.

It's good to see they haven't sacrificed the hype while working on other features :-/

harel 1 day ago 1 reply      
OK, I'll provide a user's perspective as we are invested in Mongo as a storage system for statistical data and have been using it for a good few years now. MongoDb has been, so far, very good to us. I did not experience any of the problems people sometimes cry so very vocally about. My main concern about Mongo is actually one that is addressed by this release so I'm quite excited to try it out - data compression. Mongo is generally quite irresponsible about disk space usage. Yes disks are cheap but I rather not have a 2TB dataset if I can have half the size, thank you very much.

As a side note, the hype from MongoDb the company equals the anti-hype you get on places like HN, so I guess they even out.

jimbokun 1 day ago 3 replies      
"We will continue to push the envelope in data interaction semantics, by implementing a transaction system for the distributed document model."

So...Mongo "can be the new DBMS standard for any team, in any industry", and they don't even support transactions yet?

nevi-me 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm excited to see 3.0, but from what I've seen on JIRA, there might still be some issues with WiredTiger (fair considering how they moved from RocksDB to WT in a short period). Will be interesting to see if they'll close out those issues before they drop 3.0 in March.

A few months ago they closed up some of JIRA (comments and a bit epics/sprints), so some issues would be created and have no comments exposed. I thought they were working on transactions in this release (while they were still around 2.7.3 or so), but I guess that's not the case.

Lastly, I wonder how this will impact TokuMX, both positively and negatively? Really whether they'll be making their crown improvements into a pluggable storage type/engine, and if users would be able to take that and plug it into Mongo without patent issues on their fractal tree indexing.

Nonetheless, exciting news for some of us who are building on web-scale, MVCCABCD databases which operate at the speed of hype and web-scale :)

EDIT: saw that Tokutek has created TokuMXse, only after my post

james33 1 day ago 3 replies      
I feel like the vast majority of people that bash on MongoDB didn't fully understand it and what it was good for when they tried it. We've been using it in production for nearly 3 years in online games and have had nothing but good experiences with it. This 3.0 release will be yet another big step forward and we are excited to reap the continued benefits.
kosma 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Reduces operational overhead up to 95%

And 40% more hip. Gotta love those numbers. Also, don't forget about the new WiredTiger storage engine - sounds way cooler than, say, InnoDB! Hype is strong with this one.

Kiro 1 day ago 6 replies      
Am I the only one using MongoDB who think it works great? I'm really happy with it.
lesingerouge 1 day ago 0 replies      
Somebody at MongoDB must have read the early Oracle story.Start with one consumer niche (in mongo's case I think it's the common building-cms-based-websites web developer), improve the product, market ruthlessly.

Granted, their product is not excellent and it has major flaws and lacks some common DB features, but they have the advantage of developer-ease-of-use and low barrier to use.

I think this product is simply not yet "DONE".

ericingram 1 day ago 1 reply      
We've been using TokuMX for a while and I highly recommend others take a serious look there. It already contains the benefits cited for MongoDB 3 and more. Toku also has a release candidate for the new Mongo storage engine API named TokuMXse, though it's interesting to see that TokuMX proper still outperforms it: http://www.tokutek.com/2015/01/first-tokumxse-performance-nu...
mlschmitt23 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree this announcement is dripping with hype, but all the same I'm excited to get my hands on this. Seems like they're trying to address (some) common pain points.
jungleg 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'll add to what @harel says below. If it wasn't for MongoDB, my last company would have probably not survived. Sure, our usecase was very specific (very write-heavy app) but MongoDB delivered and still delivers without any problems. I think there can be usecases where MongoDB is not the best fit, but for wide number of applications, MongoDB is the perfect fit.
alexgaribay 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can some people who have used Mongo in production elaborate on their experiences where Mongo worked well or didn't work well? I see a lot of more hate than I do love for Mongo on HN and I'm curious why.
jimbokun 1 day ago 1 reply      
The differences between mongodb.com and mongodb.org are striking.

I was confused about why there was no links to documentation on the .com, until I stumbled onto the .org, which lists actual features right on the home page.

Also striking: no mention of 3.0 on the .org home page at all, and on the downloads page, you have to scroll down to "Development Releases (unstable)" to find any reference to the 3.0 builds.


Quite the split personality between the two sites.

ddorian43 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can build a slow product and when you make it normal-speed you say 5x faster!
vkjv 1 day ago 1 reply      
Am I the only person that things the sheer number of people that have had scaling issues with mongo is a GOOD thing? I think it speaks to changing technology landscape and attitude towards data.

Many more people are collecting and working on larger data sets than they would have ever dreamed of years ago. I credit MongoDB, in part, to allowing developers to do this and encourage them to try. Sure it has it's limitations and may not be as great in areas as other databases, but, wow have a lot of people tried and succeeded.

tl;dr, If reverse survivor-ship bias is a thing, I think mongodb has it.

tankerdude 1 day ago 0 replies      
The announcement, to me, was way over the top. There was so much noise in the announcement with very little in terms of signal. It reads almost like vaporware, even though it probably was not.

Just give us facts, plain and simple. What it improves and how it improves it. When there are that many adjectives about the project, it just causes me to tune out a bit.

Was this supposed to be part of a sales deck or something? (An as aside, I use mongo and know its pluses and minuses so reading all that hoopla is just unseemly.)

cheald 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm actually fairly interested in the WiredTiger integration. I switched from MongoDB to TokuMX about a year ago because of disk space and atomicity concerns, and Toku's been really good to me. Mongo 3.0 promises to catch up in many respects; if it does, then it might actually solve the vast majority of the complaints that people have historically had with it.

The marketing copy still pretends that TokuMX doesn't exist, though - it's had these features and more (including transactions) for quite some time now.

endijs 1 day ago 0 replies      
"MongoDB 3.0 will be generally available in March, when we finish putting it through its paces. Stay tuned for our latest release candidate, we would love it if you would try it out and give us feedback."So... no 3.0 final yet. That's disappointing. However - I'm really excited about 3.0. Initial tests show way better performance than 2.6. Plus data takes just 1/4th of disk space. That's amazing. I hope this is just beginning and each next release will add more and more features based on what WT can deliver.
nnain 1 day ago 0 replies      
Slightly off topic: I prepared this MongoDB Quick Reference Card last year; never put it online before. Hope it'll be useful to someone looking for a quick peek into how mongo db commands work - https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/58502821/mongodb_qrc.pdf
fasteo 1 day ago 0 replies      
MongoDB seems to be a love/hate relation. I haven't used it myself, but I found this article[1] very useful. My conclusion is that MongoDB works, but you need to understand it and take some time to plan the deployment.

[1] https://blog.serverdensity.com/does-everyone-hate-mongodb/

astral303 1 day ago 1 reply      
Comment threads like these help me learn how different the HN groupthink/prevailing thought is from the reality on the ground.

In reality, MongoDB works well enough to be where they are, armed with the money they have.

vegabook 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm writing 20000 financial ticks per second into Mongo on commodity hardware, namely a bog-standard i7 with 32 gig costing less than 2k. I don't have a big budget. I don't have a lot of time to mess with ACID. There is no way postgres will do this for under 10-20k, without twice the work. I just need to keep up with the firehose of data I get from my financial application. I'm talking about my own big-data issue and even if a few records were ever to get lost, I don't care, because that's what big data is about: statistical sampling. And that does not require 100% in 100% of cases safety of every data point. That by the way, is the truth of big data. Who cares if a few records theoretically can be lost? I just need to capture as much as possible as fast as possible. Mongo fits perfectly. Redis would work, but I'd need 512 gig of RAM.....

I don't understand all the angst against this technology. If you need rollback-able transaction-guaranteed, exactly-once consistency, normalised schema with triggers left right and centre, you knew long ago that this wasn't the tech for you. Why is everyone so negative? I for one cannot wait to be able to store 4x more data on the same SSD, and using less RAM. In my view, Mongo is a massive enabling technology for startups on limited budget.

je42 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anybody knows how FoundationDB compares to MongoDB 3.0 ?
jedberg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do they still value speed over durability? If so, thanks but no thanks. I prefer my database to be durable. If I want speed, I use RAM.
iagooar 1 day ago 4 replies      
You got your chance, Mongo, and you screwed it up.

I tried getting the most out of you. I treated you like a princess, I indulged you, your wishes became my wishes and your thoughts were my thoughts. I stopped listening to all that criticism around you and thought of you as of a misunderstood child, even as you would refuse to do even the easiest tasks one could imagine.

I gave you everything there is to give, but you broke my heart. You left me in the most critical moments. I trusted you, but you would go your own way. Tears were shed and countless sleepless nights were to follow.

Remember that night you disappeared without leaving a sign? I sent you messages which got a response only after many hours. You didn't give a damn about my needs. One you told me: "it's not me, it's you". And I believed you, I truly did.

It's over now. It's been some time without you, and I'm getting better. I have discovered, that not everyone is like you. Some DBs care, they really do. You can trust them, they give you their everything.

I'm still struggling falling in love again, but it's getting better. Don't write me back. Goodbye.

slantview 1 day ago 0 replies      
So I heard this means it's webscale now?
       cached 5 February 2015 05:11:01 GMT