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Megaprocessor megaprocessor.com
725 points by waterlesscloud  2 days ago   123 comments top 35
1
JamesNewman 1 day ago 5 replies      
I hadn't realised people would be so interested ! I'll try and answer some of the questions that have been asked.

I just use a single type of MOSFET, the 2N7000.I did look at BJTs (in fact the whole thing started because I wanted to teach myself about "proper" transistors) but working out what resistor values to use to cope with varying fanouts/ins etc was too scary for me. One of the fundamental drivers when making design choices was that I really really want it to work when its built, it'll be heartbreaking if/when it doesn't, so I try to favour robustness.

The single MOSFET is also, I'm currently guessing, the cause of the slow speed. If you look at how the professionals (chip makers) do gates they tend to have two versions of the logic, one driving the positive case and the other driving the negative using both P and N MOSFETS. So the output is actively driven either way. My circuits only actively drive in one direction and rely on a pullup resistor (the 10ks) to generate a 1 output. Halves the number of transistors I need, but cripples the speed. I need to do some experiments to prove/disprove that.

I am planning on putting the design files on the website.

And I'm in Cambridge UK as opposed to Cambridge MA.

2
justwannasing 2 days ago 0 replies      
Back in the 1970s, I worked on the original (or nearly so?) TOW missile system at Emerson Electric in St. Louis. The electronics were composed of a number of encapsulated blocks of (what could be) crumbly black material. These cubes could be thought of as integrated circuits but were actually composed of discrete transistors, resistors, capacitors, etc. inside.

Not as ambitious but I often dealt with building computer systems, including the processor, from the TTL chip level back then. They were still sophisticated, along the lines of what would be called RISC architecture.

You really, really knew how computers and their processors worked back then and God how I miss it.

3
bthornbury 2 days ago 2 replies      
Fantastic work, this is an amazing project. I think myself and every other Cs / electrical eng student has dreamed of this at one time or another. It's a gigantic undertaking though and it's exciting to see it done.

The implications for teaching are great too. Having this physical reference would really cut the learning curve in computer architecture.

4
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 3 replies      
Sort of kicking it old school. Timing will be fun, there is a notion of 'lumped' versus not lumped circuits (and this is especially true of logic) where you want the entire circuit to fit within one wavelength of the fastest clock (where that is determined by the speed of light) otherwise you end up with really hard to debug timing skew problems. At 9 meters your CPU will be challenged to run at > 33 Khz but you will be able to do better than that with good layout and floor planning.

Quite the project, I look forward to the final report.

5
IvyMike 2 days ago 2 replies      
Not nearly as large or ambitious, but if you're into the "solder hundreds of parts together to get something you could buy for a dollar" aspect, the "Transistor clock" is a pretty cool kit. I'm a lot better at soldering, now, too.

http://www.transistorclock.com/

6
pepijndevos 2 days ago 3 replies      
In Berlin, the son of Konrad Zuse is recreating the Z3 using modern relays. https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Z3_(computer)

You can visit it in the museum. Forgot the name, has a plane on the roof.

He gave a talk when I was there, and afterwards, we where allowed to add some numbers on the computer. You can see the memory banks and hear the relais clicking and blinking.

An interesting fact is that it is a 32 bit floating point machine. Though when I was there he had some issues with synchronising the clocks, so it only did integers then.

7
rmc 2 days ago 1 reply      
For those who want to learn how CPUs and computers work, Nand2Tetris is a great book that takes you from logic gates (NAND) to making a CPU that plays tetis

http://www.nand2tetris.org/

8
sqeaky 1 day ago 1 reply      
I want this guy to get some help and have some team build a JVM on his machine.

So I could play Minecraft, at about 1 FPH(frame per hour) and load that simulation of a 70s era CPU made from redstone. Google for "minecraft redstone processor" and watch the first youtube video.

9
carlesfe 2 days ago 2 replies      
How interesting! Just look at the estimated size of the complete megaprocessor. It wouldn't fit in any room at a regular home!

It's a really cool exercise, however, I imagine that James must spend about 99% of the time soldering, so it's more like an artisanal process than an engineering one. An amazing feat nonetheless.

10
signa11 2 days ago 0 replies      
wow ! in an almost same vein: http://www.homebrewcpu.com, doesn't use discrete-transistors, but starts with 7400 series ttl chips. 'slightly' easier :)

edit: and this is with complete s/w "stack" as well, including ansi-c compiler, multi-user port of minix-2, tcp/ip stack...

11
rootbear 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm fascinated by projects like this. I'd never have the time or skills to pull it off myself, sadly. No one has yet mentioned the similar relay based computer by Harry Porter, which I'm sure has been mentioned on HN before, but not yet in this discussion.

http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~harry/Relay

12
Aardwolf 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Power ~500W This is dominated by the power needed to drive all the LEDs. The logic itself doesn't take very much."

Did you consider ultrabright low power LEDs? Like WP710A10LSRD or WP710A10SRD/E here: http://www.digikey.com/catalog/en/partgroup/3mm-t-1-round-wi...

These give visible light with at less than 1mA.

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jhallenworld 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about schematics for the gates and particularly the registers. Is it using bipolar or mosfet transistors, for example?

It's not easy to make good reliable registers. Take a look at DEC's flip-chip designs for example.

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tempodox 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this. Understanding a CPU gets more complex with each cache layer and each instruction pipeline, so building a model of the pure, unadulterated principle does make sense.
15
VLM 2 days ago 1 reply      
TTL logic? I see 10K and 470 ohm resistors in the pix, or the color codes are messed up by the camera, and 5V supplies and not a diode in sight and the layout doesn't look RTL to me. This makes the project interesting because "most" retro builders do DTL. So that's cool. Takes a thundering lot more transistors (admittedly no diodes) and the noise budget and fanout aren't as easy but it'll work... I suppose from a parts minimization standpoint you could use the inherent diode in a bipolar transistor to build DTL using only transistors.

AFAIK (and I've studied this for awhile) no one has built anything substantial at the transistor level using CMOS architecture. Virtually everyone does DTL, there's plenty of relay based work, this guy is the only discrete TTL family I'm aware of, and I've seen a little RTL logic family out there. That would be interesting.

I always thought the totem output stage of a TTL gate would be "too hard" compared to the other logic families so I got to hand it to this guy, impressive.

A better "vital statistics" comparison would be the DTL logic straight-8 original DEC PDP8 which would vaguely fit on a desk and used about 1500 transistors, 10K or so diodes. It looks like this:

http://www.pdp8.net/straight8/functional_restore.shtml

In my infinite spare time I'm going to build a straight-8 using all SMD components (so my cards will be half business card sized rather than half a sheet of paper sized). I'm sure I'll get to that right about 2080 or so at this rate. The advantage of cloning an existing architecture is vast piles of software ready to use.

The disadvantage of using modern high beta, high Ft transistors instead of 60s era transistors is I'm likely to build some great VHF/UHF oscillators instead of logic gates. OP seems to have gotten past this problem, or hasn't run into it yet.

WRT moving parts and "make it like a book" comments, the last thing you want with 50K or so wire jumpers is movement, even if every bend only breaks 0.01% of wires per "fold" that going to multiply up into pain if you swing 10K wires open and closed 1K times. Ribbon cable and standard connectors could help.

16
cing 2 days ago 3 replies      
Taken to the extreme, does anyone know the engineering limitations on how large you could make a functioning CPU?
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falcolas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty awesome. However, I think that this is one spot where VR will become fantastically useful - suddenly we will be capable of becoming a few nanometers tall, and have the ability to visualize electricity flowing through ICs.

I look forward to this particular use...

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sbierwagen 2 days ago 0 replies      
See also: a single board computer built out of relays: http://relaysbc.sourceforge.net/

(I see uBlock blocks sourceforge now, amusing)

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empressplay 2 days ago 1 reply      
Reminded me of the Hartwell Dekatron at the National Museum of Computing http://www.tnmoc.org/explore/large-systems
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nthState 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you so much for this, I've wanted to see something like this for a long time. I was hoping Steve Wozniak would real something like this in an unreleased book on how he made the mac.
21
yati 2 days ago 0 replies      
That diagram brought "Von Neumann" to my mind and then in the footer, I saw this dude is called Newman :)

Awesome project! I felt nostalgic when I saw the adder -- it's right out of a textbook.

22
PhasmaFelis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me a bit of the BMOW (Big Mess O' Wires) (http://www.bigmessowires.com/2009/02/02/wire-wrap-photos/), which was/is a functional desktop computer made of hand-wrapped wire on a 12x7 wire-wrap board. Of course the Mega-processor is on a much larger scale, but in terms of unique hand-built computers I think they're comparable.
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aswanson 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Why? Because I want to." Awesome. I want to port the JVM or Python to it once he gets done. That has to be easier than soldering everything.
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blueatlas 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. Having a mental model of how things work will always ease the learning curve. For visualizing how a microprocessor works, this is spot on.
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lasermike026 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's beautiful. I could look over it all day.
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batou 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh wow. Nice work.

I aways has ambitions of building something like this but never the motivation.

I built a full adder and that was as far as I could stomach the job.

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feld 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope he runs NetBSD on it :-)
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nly 2 days ago 2 replies      
Imagine debugging this thing when a single component goes bad.
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oldpond 1 day ago 0 replies      
Brilliant! Just brilliant! I love it!
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awjr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This belongs in a science museum. So so so cool.
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SixSigma 2 days ago 1 reply      
That will be awesome, I want one.

I shall keep an eye on the progress

http://www.megaprocessor.com/progress.html

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amelius 2 days ago 1 reply      
Better idea: program this into a computer and use VR goggles to look at the result.
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yellowapple 1 day ago 0 replies      
It should be called a "macroprocessor" instead (in direct contrast with "microprocessors").
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fit2rule 2 days ago 0 replies      
Man I was scrolling and scrolling hoping this was from a few years ago and the whole thing is finished. Ah well, I will be surely glad to keep up with this project, because it is truly amazing. Simply waiting to have my mind blown by this is blowing my mind.

I had a boss once who recycled a bunch of arrays from an old phone switch and built a fully working CPU system with 12-bit word lengths and 1024 words of storage. Took days to run some things, but such things are a true joy to have on in the background during coding sessions.

Anyway, thumbs up .. go Megaprocessor, go!

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pedrox 2 days ago 1 reply      
Of great value, if we were in the 70s.
Organizing complexity is the most important skill in software development johndcook.com
720 points by speg  2 days ago   273 comments top 62
1
msandford 2 days ago 11 replies      
This is incredibly true. I once turned 60kLoC of classic ASP in VBScript into about 20kLoC of python/django including templates. And added a bunch of features that would have been impossible on the old code-base.

It turned the job from hellish (features were impossible to add) to very nearly boring (there wasn't much to do anymore). So with this newfound freedom I built some machines to automate the data entry and once that got rolling the job got even more boring. Because it was a small company with a very long learning curve the owner didn't let people go, but instead kept them on so that he didn't have to hire and train new people as growth accelerated.

But with all the automation some slack found its way into the system and problems that had normally required me to stop working on my normal job and help put out fires now got handled by people who weren't stretched a little too thin.

Sadly there's (seemingly) no way to interview people for this ability so we're stuck with the standard "write some algorithm on a whiteboard" type problems that are in no way indicative of real world capabilities.

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knodi123 1 day ago 1 reply      
Mirror since the site is currently down:

The most important skill in software development

Posted on 18 June 2015 by JohnHeres an insightful paragraph from James Hagues blog post Organization skills beat algorithmic wizardry:

When it comes to writing code, the number one most important skill is how to keep a tangle of features from collapsing under the weight of its own complexity. Ive worked on large telecommunications systems, console games, blogging software, a bunch of personal tools, and very rarely is there some tricky data structure or algorithm that casts a looming shadow over everything else. But theres always lots of state to keep track of, rearranging of values, handling special cases, and carefully working out how all the pieces of a system interact. To a great extent the act of coding is one of organization. Refactoring. Simplifying. Figuring out how to remove extraneous manipulations here and there.

Algorithmic wizardry is easier to teach and easier to blog about than organizational skill, so we teach and blog about it instead. A one-hour class, or a blog post, can showcase a clever algorithm. But how do you present a clever bit of organization? If you jump to the solution, its unimpressive. Heres something simple I came up with. It may not look like much, but trust me, it was really hard to realize this was all I needed to do. Or worse, Heres a moderately complicated pile of code, but you should have seen how much more complicated it was before. At least now someone stands a shot of understanding it. Ho hum. I guess you had to be there.

You cant appreciate a feat of organization until you experience the disorganization. But its hard to have the patience to wrap your head around a disorganized mess that you dont care about. Only if the disorganized mess is your responsibility, something that means more to you than a case study, can you wrap your head around it and appreciate improvements. This means that while you can learn algorithmic wizardry through homework assignments, youre unlikely to learn organization skills unless you work on a large project you care about, most likely because youre paid to care about it.

3
bbotond 2 days ago 1 reply      
The site seems to be down.

Cached version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Mf9074z...

4
userbinator 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd say it's not really about "organizing complexity" - because that tends to just push it around somewhere else - but reducing complexity which is most important.

In my experience it has been that designs which look "locally simple" because they have such a high level of abstraction are actually the most complex overall. Such simplicity is deceptive. I think it's this deceptive simplicity which causes people to write a dozen classes with 2-3 methods of 2-3 lines each to do something that should only take a dozen lines of code (this is not that extreme - I've seen and rewritten such things before.)

Perhaps we should be focusing on teaching the techniques for reducing complexity more than hiding it, and that abstraction is more of a necessary evil than something to be applied liberally. From the beginning, programmers should be exposed to simple solutions so they can develop a good estimate of how much code it really takes to solve a problem, as seeing massively overcomplex solutions tends to distort their perspective on this; at the least, if more of them would be asking things like "why do I need to write all this code just to print 'Hello world', and the binary require over a million bytes of memory to run? Isn't that a bit too much?", that would be a good start.

5
dsr_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
The most important skill in operations: systematic debugging. If the developers did well at organizing, this is much easier.

The most important skill in low-level technical support: diplomacy.

The most important skill in high-level technical support: figuring out what people are actually complaining about.

Note that many low-level technical support problems look like high-level problems, and vice versa.

6
edw519 2 days ago 7 replies      
the number one most important skill is how to keep a tangle of features from collapsing under the weight of its own complexity

Agreed.

very rarely is there some tricky data structure or algorithm that casts a looming shadow over everything else

Agreed, BUT...

In order to organize, sooner or later, you will have to get clever (with tricky data structures or algorithms).

How I have always built something big and/or complex:

 1. Add lines of code. 2. Add lines of code. 3. Add lines of code. 4. Holy shit! What have I done? 5. Refactor. 6. Combine similar sections. 7. Genericize with parameter-driven modules. 8. Still too many lines of code! Optimize Step #7 with something clever. 9. Go to Step 1.
2 years later: What the hell was this clever parameter-driven multi-nested process for? Why didn't I just code it straight up?

For me, organizing complex code has always been a delicate balance between readibility and cleverness.

Don't remove enough lines of code and it's too much to navigate. Remove too many and it's too much to comprehend.

Organization + Cleverness + Balance = Long Term Maintainability

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rsuelzer 1 day ago 1 reply      
This times 1000! The really sad thing is that 9.9 out of 10 technical interviews are all about how many Algo's you know. Even if your job will never require actually implementing a single one.

These interviewers do not seem to care at all about the actual process of writing and refactoring code, or what your finished products actually look like.

I know plenty of programmers who can write highly optimized code, but do so in a way where it is completely impossible to maintain.

It's especially heightened when you are given a problem such as "validate if this uses valid brackets, and you have 10 minutes." When under time constraints to solve what is basically an algorithm 99% of programmers are not going write their best code or write code in the way they would normally write code.

If you are using lots of algo's on your programming interviews, I suggest you take a step back and determine if those skills are actually what you want to be testing for in this job. Odds are that it is NOT algo's. Give your interviewer some really sloppy code to refactor into something beautiful. Give them a few hours to work on it, watch how they put the pieces together.

If your position isn't going to require someone to write advanced algorithms on daily basis, testing for them only cuts out a huge swath of potential talent. I also think it probably leads to less diversity in your work place, which is a bad thing.

A Web Developer will never need to solve the towers of Hanoi problem, but they will need to write clean code that can be maintained by others.

</rant>

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wskinner 1 day ago 1 reply      
Heres something simple I came up with. It may not look like much, but trust me, it was really hard to realize this was all I needed to do.

This reminds me of something Scott Shenker, my computer networking professor at Berkeley, drilled into us every chance he got: Don't manage complexity. Extract simplicity.

Finding complex solutions to complex problems is comparatively easy. Finding simple solutions to complex problems is hard.

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jondubois 2 days ago 3 replies      
I agree that it is an important skill in engineering to recognize when the complexity got too high - At that point you need to take a step back (or several steps back) and find a different path to the solution - Sometimes that means throwing away large amounts of code. It's about acknowledging (and correcting) small mistakes to make sure that they don't pile up into a giant, disastrous one.

Another thing I learned is that dumb, explicit code is highly desirable - It's better to have 10 dumb components to handle 10 different use cases than 1 clever component that can handle all 10 cases.

I think the most important skill is being able to break down problems into their essential parts and then addressing each part individually but without losing track of the big picture.

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ak39 2 days ago 3 replies      
Organisational skill is actually an entrepreneurial skill. I'm learning the hard way that there are two diametrically opposing skills you need to master for both running a business and programming effectively:

1. Skills in Creating2. Skills in Organising those creations

The thing is, the Creating part is always exciting but it's disruptive in nature. The Organising part is boring because it's about taming or tempering the creation in such a way that it can be referenced later on (just like filing your invoices, or timesheets - yuck - but necessary).

Unless you've got a systematic method to organise your creations, you will always be alone with your ideas, find it hard to resume creative chains of efforts and ultimately flounder without profit.

Both in business and in programming.

Damn right it's the most important software development skill.

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jimbokun 1 day ago 0 replies      
I disagree with the premise that organizing code is not a recognized or appreciated skill among developers.

At least not since this was published:

http://www.amazon.com/Refactoring-Improving-Design-Existing-...

Martin Fowler really struck a chord all the developers trying to do the right thing by cleaning up badly structured code, by giving the practice a name and explaining why it's important. Refactoring is definitely a widely acknowledged and accepted practice today, although probably more so in some communities than others.

12
mathattack 1 day ago 2 replies      
This has been my experience too. I've been involved cleaning up a half dozen or so projects that got out of control. In each case, technical complexity was blamed as the reason. After digging in, I found that following commonalities:

- Incomplete, conflicting and misunderstood requirements.

- Lots of "We never thought we would need to do X".

- Poor team communication.

- Mistrust, frequently well earned.

- Harmony valued over truth.

Once these were winnowed away, the problems rarely overwhelmed the technical teams. This isn't to diminish the importance of technical skills. Rather - when everything else is f*cked up, you can't blame the technology or expect a 10xer to pull you out of it.

13
humbleMouse 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like this little article a lot. Personally, I try to write code in a way that reads like a book. Lots of comments, explicit function names, explicit variable names, object names, class names, ect. Talking about languages higher level than C/assembly here obviously.

I am amazed at all the code I see that has terrible/too generic names for functions and variables and objects. Some people get so obsessed over short function names, one character variable names, and complicated looking one liner evaluations.

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linkregister 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google cache, for those experiencing connectivity issues.

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Mf9074z...

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matt_s 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is just a nice magical moment though when you grok what an application does and how it is organized, especially when you didn't write it, which is likely the most often case.

I think a large issue is when an application has new people working on it or entirely new teams that maintain it. That is when the original authors methodology and organization of the application falls to the immediate need of the day.

The functionality of the software should speak for itself. Commenting your code with why you are doing something is important to help other maintainers later on, including yourself, understand what you were thinking when it was written.

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joshburgess 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The art of programming is the art of organizing complexity, of mastering multitude and avoiding its bastard chaos as effectively as possible." --Dijkstra

:)

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agounaris 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would add to the conversation the fact that most projects fail on the set of the initial requirements. In my experience so far I have seen that constantly changing what you want the app to do creates a huge mess in the codebase even if you use latest tool and methodologies.

Looks like there is a great value to organise your app in way to be able to throw away large chunks of code and start over in case there is a big design change.

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aspirin 2 days ago 5 replies      
Organization is the hardest part for me personally in getting better as a developer. How to build a structure that is easy to change and extend. Any tips where to find good books or online sources?
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Beltiras 1 day ago 0 replies      
I disagree. Communication is the most important. It's the number one cause of failed software project. Miscommunicated features, capabilities, scope, failure to name a few. My favourite is the last one. Not standing up and recognizing that an approach is not working due to fear has to stand out as a big one.
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mkramlich 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree that complexity is far up there. But also risk. Also long term thinking. And net cost or net profit. The more years I have under my belt, I think more and more not only about complexity, but also risk, cost, profit. Code and hardware is just a means to an end. Not the end itself.

But yes, seek the minimum amount of complexity to materialize the inherent, necessary complexity. But don't allow a drop of complexity more than that. Architecture astronauts, pattern fashionistas, I'm looking at you. KISS. Spend your complexity dollars where it gives you something you truly need or want. Don't do things Just Because.

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sgt101 2 days ago 0 replies      
Which is why jupyter/ipython is so great -> you can do some fantastic documentation of code with working examples and visualisation, you can do it while you write it !
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petejansson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Relevant: http://www.safetyresearch.net/blog/articles/toyota-unintende...

Summary: Toyota settled an unintended acceleration lawsuit connected with analysis of the source code for a 2005 Toyota Camry showed it was defective "spaghetti code."

There'a a lot of poorly-organized code in the world, and a typical excuse for not cleaning it up is that "it works" so there would be no return on fixing it. In the Toyota case, the code may have contributed to unintended acceleration, and did result in a legal exposure for which Toyota felt it was necessary to settle a lawsuit.

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varchar 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting. Most comments seem focused on code complexity. In real life situations the complexity is blend of human interactions (attitude, consistency,team,leads, peers, family, emotions) business, market, competition, budget, time, attrition, unexpected events, and more.

Life is complex. Business and workplace dynamics can be complex. People are complex with their own strengths, quirks and situations. Having a broad outlook, developing patience and skills to deal with life and work is part of becoming mature.

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anton_gogolev 2 days ago 0 replies      
This can be reduced to:

 Do Not Program Yourself into a Corner

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jaequery 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice post, organization definitely is one of the most overlooked aspects of programming. It takes a lot of experience and thinking to be able to organize properly. It's really what separates the beginner programmers and the experienced ones.
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abc_lisper 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is always a good idea. Here are some of the things I do

- Establish conventions early; Conventions in managing projects, conventions in code. And stick to those conventions. Be predictable,in the code. Use simple names.

- Protect your interfaces. By this I mean, use a central place like a wiki to document your interfaces, so all involved parties may agree upon. Write unit-tests for interfaces. Use libraries like mockito and hamcrest that make it a breeze.(You would lock your home every time you go out, don't you?)

- I mentioned this in the previous bullet, but write tests. Write lots of them, write tests that document any tricky, magical behavior.Cover all the cases(A boat with one hole is bad as one with two holes). Cover all the invariants, any thing that you notice but didn't mention in the source code. Write tests for the bugs you just fixed.

- If you are developing in Java, please use an IDE. I use Intellij, but Eclipse is good too. It makes refactoring code much easier.Rename fields, pull classes up the hierarchy, create abstract classes, create getters and setters automatically with refactoring tools. I am not against emacs or vi, but it is hard to manage Java's sprawl with them.

One of the best programmers I know writes code like it has been generated with a program. It is boring, dull and looks alike in every direction. Every field and method is documented, it says what its purpose is, and why it is needed. He is very fast(fast for a startup, not your average enterprise), accurate and gets a lot of stuff done without magic.

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blazespin 2 days ago 2 replies      
Design patterns by the Gang of Four was great for this.
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bcheung 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't load the page, but I would definitely agree with the title.

From my own experience programming here are some the most common and best ways to better organize complexity:

1) Create DSLs. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the theory that an individual's thoughts and actions are determined by the language or languages that individual speaks. By creating DSLs we are able to reason about a problem domain with increased efficiency.

2) Reduce cognitive load by reducing state. By reducing the number of variables in a given section of code we can more easily reason about it. values.map (x) -> x * x is a lot more understandable than newArr = [] ; for (i=0; i<values.length; i++) { newArr.push( values[i] * values[i] ); }

3) Build tools to build tools. The history of computing is one of building tools on top of tools. From assembly language to C to high level languages. What is is the next step? I suspect it is some kind of polyglot environment that is a hodgepodge of languages all working together combined with automated code creation from AI.

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bikamonki 2 days ago 1 reply      
No part of a system is the most important part, from a car to a huge organization, all parts are equally required to interact and hence make such system 'work'.

Having a clear functional organization at the start (and respect it throughout development) is very important, but after that is equally important to code clean and efficient code, to test, to debug, etc. Then, going up and dow on the solution stack is important to make the right decision on hardware, OS, server, services, etc.

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DevPad 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah, the best developers I've ever seen are about simplifying things, avoid overcomplication for too much "flexibility".

The zen of Python https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0020/ say:

 Simple is better than complex.

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stinos 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not only is it the most important skill (unless for small home projects maybe), it's also the one which takes the longest to learn and hence the one you really improve on during the years and which distinguishes the experienced ones from the lesser experienced ones. Coincidently, it's also the skill for which you won't find a ready-made answer on stackoverflow or any other site/book.

thinking of it, I've also seen this as a typical difference between fresh CS graduates and those who have been programming for 10+ years. The latter would sometime take way longer to come up with clever math-oriented algorythms than the first, because the graduate has been trained for it and still has it fresh in memory, but experienced programmer would make up for that by being able to use the algorithms in all proper 'best practice' ways one can think of. Whereas the graduate would just slam it in somewhere and call it a day even though there are now x more dependencies and whatnot, you get the picture.

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kriro 1 day ago 0 replies      
"""But theres always lots of state to keep track of, rearranging of values, handling special cases, and carefully working out how all the pieces of a system interact."""

I'm not a functional programming evangelist but that reads like a very good reason to go for FP. I think a similar point was made in "Functional JavaScript". I don't remember it exactly and it's on my shelf at home but there was some passage about the biggest downside of typical OOP codebases being the mental effort of keeping track of values and value changes.

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crimsonalucard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since so many people prioritize getting then task done than writing organized/beautiful code more often then not we get code that isn't organized properly.

Thus, as a result: Interpreting complexity is by far the most important skill in software development. More-so then organizing complexity.

34
jackreichert 2 days ago 0 replies      
For those not able the view it.[Cacheview](http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...)
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zackangelo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aside from personal discipline and experience, Ive found that using strongly typed and compiled languages combined with good tools are the best way to accomplish this.

Being able to search for and manipulate symbols at the AST level goes a long way towards eliminating any resistance to refactoring.

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tome 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I love Haskell. Haskell seems to increase my ability to manage complexity by one level.

Disclaimer: Haskell is not a silver bullet, not a panacea and I'm only claiming a modest increase, not miracles, but it helps me deal with complexity better than any other language I know.

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AdieuToLogic 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.(source: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/laotzu398196.html...)

This applies to systems as much as any thing else it possibly could.

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grandalf 1 day ago 1 reply      
In a recent job I ended up rewriting some of the codebase with this kind of stuff in mind... the results:

- 10% of the LOC as previously

- Code significantly more understandable

- Jr. developer on the team suddenly became a rockstar b/c he could understand what was going on.

39
o_nate 1 day ago 1 reply      
Or in other words: code should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. I guess you could call it organization or readability or just good design. It requires deeply understanding what you're trying to accomplish and structuring your code to reflect that. I don't think there's any rote, step-by-step procedure that will get you there. Often it is a flash of creative insight that breaks the log-jam and reveals the hidden inner structure of the problem. Once that is revealed the code writes itself. In other words, good code should always make the problem that was solved look easy.
40
jdimov9 2 days ago 3 replies      
I agree that most complexity in software systems comes from managing state. So here is a simple solution - stop doing it. Stop managing state.

Use the right tools for the job. Most mainstream programming languages are ridiculously inadequate for building any production software of any significant complexity without introducing more problems than you are trying to solve.

Use a mature functional programming language that works with immutable data and is designed for building complex industrial systems.

Use a language that was designed from the beginning with the understanding that your software WILL be full of bugs and errors, yet systems must always continue to run.

Use Erlang.

41
autotune 1 day ago 0 replies      
I take it from his site not loading that the most important skill is learning how to scale your site and ensuring it remains accessible during high load times, or using CloudFlare to at least ensure it gets cached.
42
jblow 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is a reasonable point that organization is important but I have to disagree about "most important".

The most important skill in software development, by far, is managing your own psychology.

43
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
And Metalevel complexity. I may have been able to craft beautiful code, but I sensed chaos in the way I operate and manages my own resources / tools. I've seen people being organized at many, if not all, layers, solving problem and solving how to help solving problems. Witnessing that makes me feel calm and envious at the same time.

ps: it's also reminiscent of recursion, dogfooding etc.

44
BerislavLopac 2 days ago 0 replies      
This pretty much aligns with my take on that from four years ago: http://berislav.lopac.net/post/13061099545/the-most-importan...

As wise men said: All problems in software can be solved with more layers of abstraction, except of the problem of too many layers of abstraction.

45
jtwebman 1 day ago 0 replies      
The website is down but here is a link from the archive.org site. http://web.archive.org/web/20150622134205/http://www.johndco...
46
ademarre 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Organizing complexity is the most important skill in software development

I agree with this profoundly. Unfortunately, complexity is in the eye of the beholder. When comparing solutions to a problem, different developers will not always agree on which is the least complex.

47
markbnj 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a very important skill for a programmer to have, especially in the modern environment where distributed systems built from many integrated components are the norm. That said, it's awfully difficult to disentangle the various skills needed for programming and assign an importance to each one, mush less to determine which of them is actually most important of all.
48
edpichler 1 day ago 0 replies      
Our humans are "comparing machines". For this reason we tend to valuate people that solve problems more than the ones who never create them. This is really bad.

Also, in business, if someone is really good administrator, it seems he never does nothing.

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brazzlemobile 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the Google cache if someone is looking for a mirror: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:www.joh...
51
thewarrior 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yeah this is so true.

I worked on a system where we had to support imperial and metric units. It was done in a pretty bolted on fashion with if statements all over the place. And sometimes it isn't even clear if it could be done in any other way.

Any HN'ers have suggestions on how to do it elegantly.

52
Omnipresent 2 days ago 3 replies      
On the topic of organization and related to another post about good Software Development books. What are some books that teach code organization as discussed in this post. One I can think of is "Refactoring" by Martin Fowler.

What are some others?

53
ljk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was thinking that recently. The way I try to stay organized is to comment(with timestamp) every time something is changed so I can refer to it later. Does anyone have more tips on how to stay more organized?
54
signa11 2 days ago 1 reply      
there is an excellent book by jon lakos called 'large scale c++ design' which treats organizational or physical design of large scale c++ projects (> 1giga loc). highly recommended.
55
justonepost 2 days ago 3 replies      
Arguably, this is what higher level languages like Java and C++ provide. Tight organizational language metaphors that help implement design patterns in a thoughtful, consistently structured manner.
56
headShrinker 1 day ago 0 replies      
google cache record: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Mf9074z...

The server seems to be getting hammered.

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snarfy 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is a term for it. It's called managing scope. I'm surprised the article didn't mention this.
58
Stratoscope 1 day ago 2 replies      
Out of all the things I know how to do in programming, reducing complexity is probably the one I'm best at. So how do I get a job doing this? Or a series of lucrative consulting gigs? :-)

I'm pretty sure I'm not as smart as I used to be, and I'm definitely not as smart or productive as some of the younger programmers I've worked with. (Sorry for the ageist remark!)

This may be my secret advantage: I have to keep my code simple enough that even I can understand it.

Here's a fun example that I've seen more than a few times in various forms: four-way navigation, either involving up/down/left/right or north/south/east/west, or both.

In one (somewhat disguised) project it worked like this: the code had several different modules to provide a keyboard interface for geographic navigation, while keeping the geo code separated from the low level details of key codes and events and such.

There was a keyboard manager that mapped keycodes to readable names that were defined in an enum:

 switch( keyCode ) { case 37: return KEY_LEFT; case 38: return KEY_UP; case 39: return KEY_RIGHT; case 40: return KEY_DOWN; }
Then an event manager broadcast navigation messages based on the KEY_xxxx codes:

 switch( keyEnum ) { case KEY_LEFT: BroadcastMessage( 'keyLeft' ); case KEY_RIGHT: BroadcastMessage( 'keyRight' ); case KEY_UP: BroadcastMessage( 'keyUp' ); case KEY_DOWN: BroadcastMessage( 'keyDown' ); }
A navigation manager received these messages and called individual navigation functions:

 // Don't forget to reverse the directions here events.on( 'keyLeft', function() { moveRight(); }); events.on( 'keyRight', function() { moveLeft(); }); events.on( 'keyUp', function() { moveDown(); }); events.on( 'keyDown', function() { moveUp(); });
These navigation functions panned a map in one compass direction or another:

 function moveUp() { map.pan( maps.DIRECTION_NORTH ); } function moveDown() { map.pan( maps.DIRECTION_SOUTH ); } function moveLeft() { map.pan( maps.DIRECTION_WEST ); } function moveRight() { map.pan( maps.DIRECTION_EAST ); }
Of course most of you reading this can see the problem at a glance: Besides having so many layers of code, how many different names can we give to the same concept? We've got KEY_LEFT, keyLeft, moveLeft, and DIRECTION_WEST that all mean pretty much the same thing!

Imagine if math worked like this: You'd have to have two of every function, one for the positive numbers and another one for negative numbers. And probably four different functions if you are dealing with a complex number!

That of course suggests a solution: use numbers instead of names, +1 for up and -1 for down, ditto for right and left. And pass these numbers on through any of these layers of code so you only need half the functions. If you need to flip directions along the way (like the left arrow key navigating right), just multiply by -1 to reverse it instead of having to make special cases for each direction name.

You might even decide to combine the two axes, so instead of vertical and horizontal, you've got +1 and -1 there too (or 1 and 0, or something that lets you handle both axes with one piece of code). Now you could be down to a quarter of the original code.

Unfortunately, I was brought in on this project near the end to help wrap up a few other tricky problems, and all this navigation code was already set in stone. (And to be fair, working and tested, and who wants to go back and rewrite proven code, even if it is four times the code you need?)

But this would make a pretty good "how would you clean this code up" interview question!

59
brobdingnagian 1 day ago 1 reply      
Important according to what metric? Making the software developer feel good, or making the company money? The former is almost certainly true, the latter is almost certainly not.
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evandrix 1 day ago 1 reply      
page not found
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brightball 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great read. 100% agree.
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yessql 2 days ago 1 reply      
Oh, I thought the most important skill in software development would be SCRUM.
SSD Prices in a Free Fall networkcomputing.com
567 points by nkurz  1 day ago   320 comments top 28
1
discardorama 1 day ago 19 replies      
Cheapest 1 TB SSD on Amazon: $350

Cheapest 1 TB HDD on Amazon: $40

Expecting a 10x drop in prices in 1 year is ludicrous. Even if the prices follow a pseudo Moore's law and fall by half every 18 months, you're looking at at least 5 years before they reach parity. And in the meantimg HDDs would have gotten cheaper; so expect even more time for parity.

In other words: ain't happenin' in 2016.

2
awwducks 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems like a prime case for using a (bar/line/etc) graph to show the trend. I'm strangely disappointed in not seeing one.
3
fencepost 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can't comprehend trusting data to a (single) 30TB SSD or even 10TB SSDs given the regularly reported failure modes of "It's not a drive anymore."

Perhaps it's because I'm not doing anything where massive storage is a requirement, but having data striped in RAID6 makes me happy. I'd be happy to use SSD for the underlying medium, but I want something that's less prone to single points of failure. Backups are all well and good, but what's the interface speed of a drive like that? How long to restore a 20+TB backup?

4
hbbio 1 day ago 8 replies      
In a side-note in the article, the author mentions that Amazon Glacier runs on tape. Although I'm not sure Amazon officially explained the technology, I heard (and read on Wikipedia) that they store data on conventional HDDs, that are however kept "offline".

Has anyone here some more knowledge about that?

5
wmf 1 day ago 1 reply      
The article predicts that SSD prices will fall from 30c/GB to under 5c/GB in 18 months. This seems like a case of citation needed.
6
peter303 1 day ago 3 replies      
HP is working on a memrister based SSD with density of Flash and the speed of transistors http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/536786/machine....
7
monksy 1 day ago 3 replies      
Could someone explain the 3d storage innovation to me?

Wouldn't stacking flash cells like that be susceptible to interference? (Heat/magnetic or electrical noise?)

8
ksec 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are talking as if 3D NAND is free. The maximum of 64 layers is not yet production ready AFAIK. Even the 32 is too expensive, we are talking about 8 or 16 layers coming soon , which when you include two nodes step back you are talking about 2x to 4x improvement. 3D NAND isn't free to manufacture either. When you add up the cost, 3D NAND will be no more then a continuation of SSD falling prices according to its current tends in the coming years.

P.S - It just means it will prolongs the life of NAND and SSD will continue to get faster, higher capacity and cheaper before hitting its limits.

9
ryanmarsh 1 day ago 6 replies      
So does this mean Apple will finally stop shipping a 16GB iPhone as entry level?
10
pacquiao882 1 day ago 0 replies      
They are just getting rid of stock before NVMe M.2 SSD's go mainstream with 10x performance and lower production costs compared to AHCI SATA3 SSD's.

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2015/03/24/where_ssd_market_h...

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bwy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find great irony in statements like these when the motivation of every party is considered. The idea is that prices are "in a free fall," i.e., they haven't fallen completely yet. But this will encourage people to buy SSDs and drive them in the very free fall of which the article speaks!

Experienced the same principle in my life a few weeks ago - I moved to a place described as "gentrifying." Realized a week into staying there that I was one of those people who was actually contributing to its gentrification! By no means was it gentrified, though.

12
sneak 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article makes a previously unasserted claim that Glacier uses tape. Is this accurate? What is the source?
13
yuhong 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I am really interested is when SSDs will be cheap enough to be in common OEM systems.
14
ghshephard 1 day ago 0 replies      
I find it surprising that most people aren't recognizing that SSDs don't even need to come close to price parity to completely replace hard drives. Random access alone makes them so much more valuable, and a good SSD is now worth more than extra memory in terms of increasing the performance of a computer system.
15
Turbo_hedgehog 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is keeping a SSD powered on enough to prevent bit rot?
16
adibchoudhury 1 day ago 0 replies      
These estimates seem a bit exaggerated at this point. SSD is still lagging in terms of capacity, and in my household we only have a handful of devices using SSD. While it's become more widely-adopted for sure, HDD's are not "doomed" until SSD capacity goes up and prices plummet. Still too expensive for an SSD.
17
rorykoehler 1 day ago 2 replies      
Having had a failure rate above what I was used to with hdds I'd prefer to see an increase in quality rather than a fall in price. It gets annoying having to replace my os ssd every 18 months or so. My most recent phone's memory also died after 30 months.
18
markhahn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Flash has had a drop in price because it gained mainstream utility, and therefore serious volume production. It's entirely unclear whether this will continue.

The physics of flash cells is not all that promising: there's certainly no Moore's gravy-train. 3D is a decent tweak, but it's not like 4D is coming next. As flash cells shrink, they become flakier (which might not hurt drive-writes-per-day, but is that the right metric?)

19
abandonliberty 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder how reliability is doing; Unlike HDDs SSDs have a very unpredictable failure pattern, including sudden death rather than slow degradation.

If you want to ensure data is safe you need to run a raid 1 or online backup service.

20
tuzemec 1 day ago 0 replies      
Also the noise of the HDDs is killing me.I have quite a silent rig (fiddling with music/audio in my spare time) and the most noisy thing was the HDD where my audio samples were. So I've moved everything to SSD and I'm looking for another 512GB to add.
21
mirimir 1 day ago 0 replies      
Total cost of ownership is another issue:

> Also, with much lower power use, there is a TCO saving to be added to the equation. Power savings work out at around $8/drive-year, so add another $40 to the 5-year TCO balance and the hard-drive doesn't look so good.

And I wonder if Mr. O'Reilly has included the cost of power for cooling.

22
bifrost 1 day ago 5 replies      
SSD technology still has a reliability hurdle, you can nuke one in a month if you write to it constantly. Spinning media has much longer read/write durability. Until there is parity its still a bit of an arms race for capacity.

Hybrid drives are pretty awful so I don't think they'll stick around. I could see Hierarchical Storage Management make a comeback and an entry to the consumer space, but thats been esoteric at best.

23
MCRed 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't wait. Once I can reasonably replace everything with SSDs I will.

And then I'll never buy spinning rust again.

I dreamed of this eventuality in the 1990s. I didn't know what technology would be used. I never expected EEPROMs would evolve in this direction (now marketed as "FLASH") as they were so fickle and unreliable in those days.

This will allow lots of interesting things.

Imagine a laptop that's got its main RAM backed on a dedicated bit of high speed flash... so it instantly powers off completely and instantly powers back on completely.

Soon, we'll have the massive increase in storage capacity much like we've had a massive increase in compute capacity to the point where you no longer really think about it-- all computers are "fast".

24
mirimir 1 day ago 0 replies      
Consumer SDDs are now inexpensive enough for desktop RAID. On Amazon, decent consumer 240GB-1TB SDDs are available at $0.32-$0.40 per GB. And in my experience, SSDs are so fast that even RAID6 arrays rebuild very quickly after replacing a member. I use Linux software RAID.
25
kylorhall 1 day ago 1 reply      
I bought my 180GB SSDs for < 50 cents per GB like 3 years ago and it's barely better than that right now. Storage in general has more to do with availability and demand than technology, there's plenty of times when they've gone up in price.
26
robocat 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fab manufacturing capacity doesn't magically increase because of 3D chips.
27
bcheung 1 day ago 0 replies      
I surprised they didn't include any graphs. I'm very curious to see the trends visually.

Prices per GB are still very far off. It's hard to believe they will achieve parity that soon. Here's hoping though.

28
forscha 1 day ago 4 replies      
Is the hdd demise indeed expected so quickly?
Docker, CoreOS, Google, Microsoft, Amazon to Develop Common Container Standard techcrunch.com
573 points by yurisagalov  1 day ago   116 comments top 16
1
joslin01 1 day ago 8 replies      
I am a big believer in containerization technology from a practical standpoint. It has allowed me to create repositories that act as services. Database, search, api, admin, etc.. they are all their own service. I do not have to configure any servers this way; instead, I declare what the system ought to be and Docker makes it happen. I don't even have to configure init scripts because a proper Dockerfile will contain a start mechanism usually in the form of any other executable: `docker run your/api --port 80 --host host.company.com`.

The only thing that matters then between services is their bindings, which gives you the ability to use any programming language for any service. Deployment with ECS has been going well so far for me. My flow:

1.) Push code to GitHub

2.) GitHub tells Docker, which builds a private image

3.) Docker tells my build server

4.) Build server tells ECS to update the given service

5.) ECS pulls from DockerHub, stops service, starts service

The only thing missing is that DockerHub doesn't tell my build server what tag it just built! It builds tags like dev / staging for the given branches, but doesn't relay that info over its webhook. There's a ticket open about this already and I'm sure they'll get to it soon.

Nevertheless, I'm able to administer any system -- things like Elasticsearch, db, api -- from code on a branch. This is powerful to me because I have to administer environments for everything. Rather than do all this work with Puppet, Chef, or even Ansible, I can just declare what the systems ought to be and cluster them within code branches.

With ECS coming into picture, you're encouraged to forget you even have physical boxes in the first place. If you think of the power at your finger tips that results from this development workflow, I believe it's a no brainer for everyone to jump on board and get this as good as it can be. It's going to be a huge boon to the software community and enable more services sharing.

2
mpdehaan2 1 day ago 6 replies      
Hmm, interesting.

I'm unclear what value this adds in the end

Yes container images would become portable between systems, but if you hide the underlying system enough under abstraction layers what makes me choose between CoreOS or Docker or the future thing? What's the value difference?

Containers are useful if you have the build systems in source control, but if you don't, you don't know how to rebuild them or what is in them - they become dangerous in that case. They become scary "golden images".

Docker files were already very easy to regenerate things -- and I think interface wise, one of the more compelling wins. If there were other systems it's still likely they would have different provisioners.

It seems the (excuse me for the buzzword) value add then quickly becomes in the people providing management software for Docker, rather than in Docker, and Docker becomes more or less a subcommitee of a standards body.

I'm sure that's NOT true, but it's confusing why they wouldn't want to seek differentiation to me and what this means for valuation purposes.

3
deathhand 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is great news and a shift in the way business is traditionally done. If containers were a thing 20 years ago there would be fierce vendor lock-in and patent/lawsuits flying everywhere. People would chose which cloud platform to deploy based upon which tools they prefer.

Docker has fundamentally changed the way they think of the way they fit in the tech eco-system. Instead of selling a set of containers that only work with their tools they've opened up the platform strengthening their position as the go-to solution for management. Prudent move on their part. It limits their potential market cap but solidifies them as an entrenched member for the foreseeable future.

4
gtirloni 1 day ago 2 replies      
5
vezzy-fnord 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was going to ask why IBM weren't in, but read on to see that it's a general Linux Foundation collaboration, and so naturally they're part of it.

So I guess we're going to have libcontainer support for AIX Workload Partitions and OS/400 LPARs? It's gonna be interesting to see just how big the Docker libs become.

6
jakejake 1 day ago 3 replies      
Serious question. We have a master DB and a slave, two memcache servers and 3 webservers behind a load balancer. We're not a public-facing company and so have no reason to be building for "web scale" or whatever, we're well within capacity.

Deploying new code (happens weekely) is just as simple as clicking one deploy button in our version control system (which does a "git pull" on the web servers). DB changes (which are very rare, once or twice a year) we run manually. The cache servers never change. All of the server run automated security updates on the OS. Otherwise we upgrade non-essential packages every few months.

Is there a way that using Docker could make things better for us? I feeling the "you should be using Docker" coming at me from every angle. Our deployment is certainly not very sexy but it is simple and doesn't take a major amount of effort. Is there a use case for a company like mine?

7
bobsky 1 day ago 3 replies      
The proof is in the pudding. Overall this is very positive for the ecosystem as a whole, and glad to see them all come together. But I thought a big selling point of a standard means it's written down, currently the spec returns a 404 on github [1] seems like a lot of unknowns on what's actually being proposed.

Its confusing why the App Container (appc) spec which is written down [2] and has maintainers from RedHat, Twitter, Google, Apcera, CoreOS [3] is not being promoted - what's the new OCP standard offering that isn't in the appc spec?

[1] https://github.com/opencontainers/specs[2] https://github.com/appc/spec[3] http://www.infoq.com/news/2015/05/appc-spec-gains-support

8
TheMagicHorsey 1 day ago 2 replies      
What does this mean for vendors like VMWare that want VMs to be the unit of deployment that developers interface with?

Seems to me that VMWare's VM management technology is still needed, but the clock is now running on how long it will be before their part of the stack is irrelevant, as all the smarts move into the container-management layer.

9
ape4 1 day ago 4 replies      
Lots of cooks.I hope its not a huge mess.
10
castell 1 day ago 0 replies      
What's next? Develop a common executable standard? Develop a common UI standard?
11
erikpukinskis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If I was the NSA I would be drooling at this opportunity.
12
rbanffy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would anyone care to explain how Microsoft fits on this picture?
13
olalonde 1 day ago 4 replies      
Weird to see Microsoft in that list. On a related note, will this new container standard support non-Linux kernels? Would be nice to be able to run containers directly on OS X without having to go through the boot2docker VM.
14
abritishguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hope from this we get a really well engineered standard and not some silly mess.
15
vacri 1 day ago 1 reply      
If Docker's heavily screwed-up tag system becomes locked into a standard, I may as well slit my wrists now.
16
justignore 1 day ago 3 replies      
I spent the last 15 years trying to become an American and failed vox.com
484 points by anu_gupta  1 day ago   557 comments top 68
1
shas3 22 hours ago 4 replies      
The US legal immigration system is perfectly described by the adjective, Kafkaesque. In terms of the arbitrariness of bureaucracy, it has more in common with what I saw in the socialist days of India and what one reads in books by Solzhenitsyn and Kafka. The iniquities have been discussed repeatedly in popular press, with almost no changes wrought in the process. Many years ago (yes, 2011 was 4 years ago) Newsweek ran a story about how irrational bureaucratic delays derailed a guy's career in a consulting firm: http://www.newsweek.com/story-one-mans-immigration-ordeal-66...

I know at least 6 other people who have had similar experiences: well qualified people in great skill-specific jobs who were caught up in bureaucratic nightmares. Unlike the subject of the Newsweek article, these people had employees who could afford to keep them on the payroll.

New York Times also ran an article on this issue, of a Google employee who had to move to Canada because of arbitrary bureaucratic rules concerning the work visa. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/business/12immig.html?page...

Further, green card applications have country quotas, which, in the context of citizenship were deemed unconstitutional during JFK/LBJ's civil rights actions.

In spite of such iniquities, there seem to be no political efforts to fix the system.

2
diego_moita 17 hours ago 12 replies      
Disclaimer: I am a Canadian permanent resident.

> I like it here.

This is the real problem, you have a severe case of non-reciprocal love. In that case the answer is obvious: move over, find another love, come to Canada or go to Northern Europe.

U.S. immigration is an American problem,since they are the ones loosing talent and entrepreneurial people. It is not an immigrant's problem, since they don't have the powers to fix it.

Here in Canada we have a much more open immigration policy and, IMHO, better quality of life. I strongly suggest you considering coming to Canada.

3
murbard2 23 hours ago 15 replies      
I personally consider that opening borders is a moral imperative, but I understand why it is controversial. I understand that the arguments against "letting everyone in" have some merit, though I ultimately disagree with them.

What is a real head scratcher to me is the US policy on highly-skilled immigrants. There are certainly some political constituencies in favor of those, but I can't think of anyone against, at least not one with a modicum of political pull.

One could imagine a regulatory capture scenario where large companies benefit from the regime, because they have an easier time obtaining visas than their smaller competitors, but in practice even those lobby for more, not less immigration.

So who's lobbying against this exactly?

4
ashwinaj 14 hours ago 1 reply      
As a foreigner (including myself) the OP should have realized what's required to stay in the US beyond the H1B. In his case, it was applying for the green card lottery and employment based green card. Since he is a citizen of NZ, if he had applied for an employment based green card, he would've obtained it in less than 2 years.This might sound harsh, but there is no point complaining about the immigration system which we have no control over. It was his responsibility to make sure he accept a job offer with written commitment by the company to apply for his green card (this is commonplace in STEM, I'm not sure about law firms, but hey anything is negotiable). If they said no or stalled at his request, move on to the next employer. I know I'm making it sound as if it's easy to get another job, but wishful thinking or being lackadaisical is not a solution either.
5
hippich 14 hours ago 0 replies      
US immigration process is cumbersome, and painful for people born in some countries (like India and China,) but certainly not prohibitive.

Quote:

 Additionally, an H1-B visa (the most common form of work visa and the only form available to most) is only valid for three years and renewable only once. This means that the skilled legal immigrant must obtain permanent residency or a green card if he or she wishes to stay for more than a few years. Again, an employer can sponsor an employee's green card, but the employer must again bear the costs, which can run to the tens of thousands of dollars, and again the employee cannot offer to pay the cost.
I personally was able to find online (!) lawyer who did all the greencard paperwork required for about $1,500 (most of it indeed had to be paid by company, but not all of it.) About the same had to be paid to federal government by company, and few hunder later to actually adjust status and receive greencard (paid by me.)

Unlike OP I had no money to pay for college, so I found Austin company, worked for them as a freelancer and then convinced to sponsor H-1B visa. Unlike OP I had no way to just come over to talk with potential employers while on tourist visa - US embassy twice refused to give one to me because of a high risk me staying illegally in their opinion. So, sorry, but this story is just a story about "how privileged i feel, i got two degrees", not about "impossible to get citizenship". It is weird that after obtaining two degrees OP still could not follow bureaucratic process...

6
aineko 21 hours ago 3 replies      
As a New Zealander going through the US immigration process, this whole post rings extremely true to me. People who have not gone through immigration before have no idea what its like for your entire life to be dictated by the whims of an opaque bureaucratic system. The most frustrating thing about it is that you have essentially no opportunities to better your situation via your own initiative. Don't like your job, well you can't go and find a new one unless they are willing to sponsor you for a visa. Want to start a side business - nope, thats a grey area that I've had immigration laywers advise me against. Think you deserve a promotion - nope, your residency application was for a particular job description. The list goes on.

A few months ago, I came very close to being deported due to the business unit I worked in being divested to another company - this isn't a problem for H1B employees, but I had an L1 which is non-transferrable to a new company, and since my job at my existing company was no longer present I would be made redundant if I couldn't get employment at the aquiring company. Luckily for me, my residency application became current 2 weeks before the aquisition closed (I had been waiting on this application for almost 3 years), so I was able to move into another immigration status that allowed me to move over to the acquiring company.

If that hadn't happened I would have been left with no job, A pregnant wife (who would also lose her job - as her work auth is tied to my visa) and facing an expensive move back to NZ (relocating a family internationally is really expensive btw). Fortunately for me I'm now on the home stretch (I hope) and I check my mailbox religiously waiting for the day my greencard turns up, and I can start living life on my own terms.

7
KingMob 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Without discussing the larger issue of immigration, might I suggest that the right outcome was reached in this particular case?

Job opportunities in the legal profession have decreased drastically in the last decade, and for all his rhetoric of "America wanting the best and brightest", it may have been hard to justify letting him stay when there is a glut of lawyers. This probably factored into the decision of his bosses not to pursue a green card for him.

8
lancewiggs 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm also from New Zealand, also went to Yale (albeit as a graduate not undergrad), and also had my mother tell me I was "very American". And I also ran out of options for US visas after 5 years (10 years away from NZ in total), despite a Yale MBA and McKinsey on my resume.

More to the point I stopped trying, seeing that the system was structured against me, and that my ambition of starting my own company(s) was not going to be doable in the USA. (I'd previously started a company in Canada, and already knew that stable immigration status is a prerequisite for a stable/growing business.)

I've been in New Zealand since 2003. It's increasingly wonderful here.

It's so easy to start businesses (I've co-founded several), to invest in businesses (over 20 so far) and to get things done. The early stage eco-system is taking off, led by companies like Xero, Trade Me, Orion Health and Vend, and with others like Timely (@timely), Raygun.io and a growing ecosystem around Xero following. We have seen successful start of crowdfunding, but raising money is still not as easy as it could be (I'm trying to help change that).

Meanwhile the politicians are accessible and not corrupt or extreme, the country is staggeringly beautiful, the food delicious and nutritional, and the economy floated through the GFC as our bankers were sensible and bolstered by solid laws. Auckland is increasingly multicultural and we have free trade agreements with China and many other countries - over 2 billion people worth. And we consistently get near the top of the World Bank's Doing Business rankings and Transparency International's (lack of) Corruption Index - justifiably. I hope the author comes home - NZ is a different place 15 years on.

Investor in some of these, directly or through Punakaikifund.co.nz.

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nicolas_t 23 hours ago 6 replies      
I work for customers in the US as a software consultant (paid at New York rates) but because of the hassle and difficulties to get a visa there, I do not live there. This means that I get money from the US but I do not reinject it in the economy, I also do not pay taxes in the US. I'm a net loss for this country all because of the visa policies.
10
smutticus 17 hours ago 4 replies      
As an American who immigrated to The Netherlands I would like to know of this mythical country in the world with a working immigration system. AFAICT they're all rather broken.

US immigration might be broken in different ways than some other countries, but from the many stories I've heard of friends moving all over the world, they all pretty much suck.

11
markbnj 23 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that labor is at a significant disadvantage when capital can move from country to country and is welcomed with open arms wherever it goes, but workers are locked into whatever situation they were born into.
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c2the3rd 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If he came illegally from Mexico, there would be plenty of people fighting for him to stay.

Drawing on this story and [others](http://politicaloutcast.com/2013/02/usa-trying-to-deport-chr...), it seems immigrants are only protected if they are willing to break U.S. law. It is a very dangerous incentive to deport those not breaking the law and welcome those who do. People might get the wrong idea.

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vonklaus 1 day ago 2 replies      
A friend of mine works in shipping at a reputable and profitable firm. His roommate, a Greek national also engaged with the firm, was "deported". Twice. He wasn't literally thrown out of the country but it amounted to as much, having similar visa issues.

His employer, unlike the author, sponsored him. However, two separate lawyers were unable to secure him a place in the country. One made a costly mistake and was fired, however the damage was done. My friends roommate made it back to the company for a month or so, before having to permanently relocate to one of the other offices, again, this time permanently.

These stories are not unique. People who are well educated and top performers in their sector are being turned away. Look at many successful entrepreneurs, Levchin, Musk, Collison, etc. and it is obvious the US benefits extremely well from allowing well qualified individuals immigrate.

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rburhum 16 hours ago 0 replies      
As somebody who has lived 18 years in this country and just _barely_ managed to get a green card 2 years ago, I completely understand what you are going through. I am sorry it has come to this - it sucks big time and most people will not understand how little you can do about this. IMHO, the best course of action would be to find an employer and apply for a visa next April. If you are lucky, you'll be able to get back here by September. I hope it all works out.
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ayushgta 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a slow evening and I was curious about how many times people mentioned different places (countries) in the comments to this post. So I ran the Stanford (Named Entity) Analyzer on the copy of the comments so far.

Here is what I got so far (a gist is here: https://gist.github.com/ayush/6efe681ba968123605fd):

US 108Canada 42America 42U.S. 25Zealand 20Europe 18NZ 17Japan 16China 13France 12India 11UK 10USA 10nAustralia 10EU 9Germany 9United 8Switzerland 7States 6us 6Netherlands 5Korea 5South 5Asia 5area 4York 4Auckland 4Mexico 4California 3Italy 3Spain 3china 3U.S 3Bay 3Brazil 2bay 2London 2Ireland 2Norway 2Denmark 2kameez 1Usano 1america 1Francisco 1Arabia 1North 1Vatican 1Colombia 1devouredSouth 1Berlin 1Africa 1Britain 1U.S.Another 1City 1Hollywood 1Turkey 1Saudi 1Tesla 1Honduras 1U.S.A. 1S. 1Amazon 1Oregon 1San 1south 1shalwar 1Pakistan 1Amsterdan 1PERM 1Amsterdam 1Numbeo 1Nigeria 1Croatia 1Philippines 1StatesFolks 1Samoa 1States7 1GOSPLAN 1earth 1Israel 1Schleswig-Holstein 1

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sparkzilla 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I am in a similar situation, except I am an entrepreneur. I came to the US in 2007 on an L-1 visa to start up a new business here. The business needed to reach ten full-time employees to allow me to transfer to a Green Card, but after six years and hundreds of thousands of dollars investment of my own money, the business failed, and with it my visa and any chance of the Green Card disappeared. So now, after all that investment, and years of employing U.S citizens, I have to start the entire process again from zero. I have to leave the U.S. and re-apply. That said, it's worth it because the U.S. market is where the action is. I hope that the entrepreneur visa will come along soon and make it a little easier for job creators like me to be able to stay here.
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mkempe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a feudal, authoritarian immigration system. I suggest a return to pre-1914 policies: any peaceful, healthy, productive individual is welcome. (Footnote: this means abolishing the Welfare State. Ready?)
18
rbreve 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Reading this types of cases and I really don't understand the american immigration system, I am from Honduras and there have been hundred of thousands hondurans migrating illegally to the US since the 90s, and a lot of them became legal due to threaties like the TPS, and most of them don't even have university degrees
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duncan_bayne 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's one solution: http://www.hblist.com/immigr.htm

"This is a defense of a policy of absolutely open immigration, without border patrols, border police, border checks, or passports."

20
toolsadmin 19 hours ago 3 replies      
It would actually be a great experiment to create a new libertarian nation which could let in everybody who is willing to contribute (work/business experience/bank account statement as proof) and see how that turns out. Something like a new US/Singapore started from a fresh slate.
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peterayemi 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This strikes too close to home. I am packing my bags and heading out soon too.I have spent 5 years here and have a masters in computer science from a top ranked school. The H1B visa is essentially a lottery which locks out talent from American companies. I failed to get a visa through the lottery process and I have to head back home too.
22
rbcgerard 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Articles like this describe one of my biggest problems with proposed immigration reforms. How many countless people have left the U.S. due to losing their legal status - or been outright denied a visa to begin with? It seems to me that giving status to people that have already broken the law is downright unjust to those that have followed it...
23
scott_s 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I agree with the author that the process is absurd, as many of my colleagues have gone through it. But, as far as I understand it, employer sponsorship is not the only path to a green card. One colleague and friend works at a startup, and he is pursuing his green card himself, through an immigration lawyer he hired. It is not cheap - with lawyer fees and all, I believe it's in the $20,000 range - and it requires making the case that you're a top performer in your field.

At the least, if you find yourself in the author's position, consult an immigration lawyer.

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pierotofy 1 day ago 3 replies      
Yes the immigration system is broken; it's difficult to obtain sponsorship from an employer. But I feel like the author gave up after asking the few places where he worked. Sometimes you need to try harder.
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overgard 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, as an american I find this situation intolerably embarrassing. People like this built this country, and the fact that some useless bureaucratic entity designed by xenophobes and racists is kicking people out is incredibly depressing. I'd rather deport the inventors of these idiotic rules, we'd all be better off for that.
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keerthiko 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This article hit so close to home, and it brought a tear to my eye for the author. Just minutes before I saw this show up on my feed, I got an email from USCIS saying that my O1 petition has been approved after having attempted to get a visa for about 4 years (I know, it's kind of magically short in the grand scheme of things) down a variety of paths. It's still kind of surreal and hasn't fully registered, I can't wait to go back to the only place I've ever called home, the Bay Area.

My heart goes out to anyone else who is going through or will have to go through what I had to for the last 2-3 years, trying to work on my startup remotely as a digital nomad. It sounds like a romantic lifestyle, but it's wrought with difficulties leaving one on the edge of depression the whole time.

I'm happy to lend an understanding ear to anyone going through this right now. Having a government whimsically decide what direction your life takes professionally, socially, and culturally with no say of your own really makes you feel powerless.

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warmcat 23 hours ago 1 reply      
For people from some countries like India and China, the wait after finding an employer willing to sponsor green card is still a big killer. Typically people have to wait for 6-7 years now to get green card after first filing it. While I agree with the author, I feel he did not try to find someone willing to sponsor his green card with other employers. If your employer does not respond favorably to your requests about sponsoring your green card, find another employer willing to sponsor it while you still have time left on your current visa. And since the author is from NZ, it would not have taken him more than a year to get his green card had he found someone willing to sponsor him.
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hagmonk 22 hours ago 1 reply      
The article comes across as whiny because he's a New Zealander. So cut the guy some slack, he can't help it :)

As an Australian working for a large tech company, I totally feel this guy's position. It never leaves me, the sense of being an imposter in this country on limited time. I've paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes in this country, hired dozens of Americans as a manager, and mentored many of them to greater heights. I am lucky to work for a company with deep pockets that wants to invest in my green card process, but if I step outside this bubble I step immediately into the world this author describes.

It is madness for the United States to put road blocks in front of skilled immigration. As a hiring manager, I can tell you that I always prefer to hire a local American where possible, simply because it's easier. That in itself is not great - to serve this large American company's interests on American soil, I should hire the best possible talent, not the most convenient talent, no matter their origin.

But in my case there is little American talent to hire. It is not because I'm a picky arsehole (although some would say I am), but just a function of the kind of positions I hire for and the place I do it. Once you cut it down to:

1) people who want to relocate to the Bay Area

2) people who want to work in the South Bay

3) people who want to work for this company

4) people who want the job

5) people who can actually do the job

There is just a tiny trickle of people left, and frequently I'm in competition with other tech companies to acquire them. And for foreign candidates, you can tack two small items on to that list:

6) people who want to move to the United States

7) people who qualify to get a work visa for the United States

Folks carry around this assumption that foreign workers are cheap Indians on H-1Bs who can blow in and out of the country on a whim, and that a large % of unemployed Americans are waiting in the wings to swoop in and take those positions if tech companies only paid the prevailing wage to attract them. The reality is way more complex than that. Not every immigrant is an Indian and not every unemployed American is a reprogrammable robot, able to do any open position I have on my books.

What I want to bring to this country - not that the United States government factors this in to my immigration status - is growth. That is what gave me the opportunities that got me here, and that is what I want to give back. Right now, I can go talk to my boss and create a job. I can create a job out of thin air! That pays >$100k a year! Me, a foreigner, I can do this. There is always more work to do.

And if I can hire the best and brightest then I can be more successful, and create more jobs. I stand a decent chance to create economic circumstances that bring opportunities across a spectrum of skills inside and outside my company. With more jobs, I can take risks on hiring under-qualified Americans to train them, just like people took a risk on me, a university drop out. And with more success I can attract more of the best and brightest Americans too.

My tangible contribution to this conversation is that work visa holders should have a full year to find another position, and should be allowed to start companies during that year. That would enable valuable economic risk taking for the people already here. For those trying to get in to the US, that's a diatribe for another day.

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pkaye 23 hours ago 4 replies      
Is it much easier in the EU? For example, can I go to Switzerland or France and easily get permanent residency?
30
philliphaydon 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm a New Zealand citizen. It's true. We do dream like that. But I visited America and I don't think I'll ever go back. I didn't see any culture. But I live in Asia now. There's heaps of culture here.
31
ambrood 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This hits home in so many ways than one. I came to this country at 17 to attend college, 2 degrees and 8 years later I was recently let go. Thankfully I'm an Engineer in SF so it shouldn't be too bad to find another employer and get back, but still I'm looking at a good 6-7 weeks out of the country in order to get a new visa for a new employer before I can transfer my status.
32
lafar6502 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I suppose immigrant laws are very scrupulously applied in case of immigrant lawyers. Why make it easier for foreign competition?
33
matiu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Come to Australia. If you have two degrees and speak English, should be reasonably easy. Also Australia is better than America :)
34
CalRobert 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I spent 2.5 years living in Europe and just moved back to the US because my wife couldn't find a job there. After two months back in a place with values (buy all the things) and culture (work all your life) I find abhorrent, I'm terrified we won't be able to get back in.
35
ex3ndr 13 hours ago 0 replies      
For me most awful thing in immigration that i can't marry green card holder at all. Because we need to wait 5 years abroad and she can't leave country for more than half year for conversion Green Card to citizenship and i can't came to US because i am married in permanent resident. Why, hell, i can't may woman that i love and with whom i want to make family? I am extremely skilled worker and done two businesses in my country and i wanted to make more in US.
36
prewett 21 hours ago 2 replies      
How different is American immigration policy than other similar countries, like Canada, the UK, Australia, and the author's New Zealand? I'm sympathetic to everyone trying to immigrate to the US, but I'm guessing he would have similar issues in any country. Probably less frustrating, though.
37
throwaway12132 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Also a New Zealander. I did a 3 month internship in the Valley, and then did a 1 year internship after graduating - the idea was for me to get a H1B and stay on after that, but due to the cap being reached and losing out on the lottery my application was returned unprocessed. So I returned back to NZ and started a company here instead, we recently made our first two hires.

I still love the US and would much prefer to be building my company in the valley, but apparently I'm not wanted even after paying over a hundred thousand in taxes within a year of being there. The stress caused from not being able to stay in the country where I was building my life due to purely random chance, with nothing I could do about it, was massive.

I do hope to return to the US permanently at some point and that the system will be improved, but it seems that will take a while.

38
azinman2 18 hours ago 1 reply      
So no one seems to mentioning the one obvious fact (to me)... it seems like it's working as designed and there is a good reason why:

Part of US diplomacy is to educate foreigners and let them go back to their own countries so that those who are improving/leading said countries are more friendly to the US. It also is part of diplomacy to spread education so that the rest of the world can buy into our model of functional capitalist countries so we can have trade and not war or famine.

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mavdev32 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The biggest factor in one's chances of success in life depends upon one's country of citizenship. That's a fact. It should be obvious so I am not stating any sources or research data.
40
FrankenPC 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Again, an employer can sponsor an employee's green card, but the employer must again bear the costs, which can run to the tens of thousands of dollars, and again the employee cannot offer to pay the cost."

Why don't you just reimburse the employer the costs?

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josefresco 23 hours ago 4 replies      
Honest question: If the author "had come to America to attend Yale." didn't they also research the requirements for citizenship or an extended stay? Did they decide the benefits outweigh the cons or did they just "hope" things would work out? Maybe they made the decision after attending Yale - was this decision not well informed?

I think criticism of the immigration system is warranted and valid, just that potential immigrants need to understand the flaws in the system before they invest in a new life within America's borders.

42
felipel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Possibly more important, "becoming an American" (which seems to mean Usano as I am an American because I live in one of and have citizenship in one of the countries of America) means you get to pay US incometaxes on your income anywhere in the world for the rest of your life.
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tosseraccount 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Moderate, specific levels of immigration, legal only.Weighted point system; random draw.

Capital can move to where labor is cheaper.No need for USA to have population density of Japan, China or India.

I can't blame people for wanting to flee corruption, but some people staying and fighting is a better way to make the world better.

44
mcguire 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Are there any countries where the immigration system is not "broken" in this way?

I have seen some in the past with "entrepreneur" or "retirement" visas: you are allowed to stay in the country if you promise to spend a lot of money, but that doesn't seem optimal for this kind of case. I've also heard of places desperately seeking workers, but that also doesn't seem to fit the current American situation.

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adomanico 14 hours ago 0 replies      
As a Canadian here on a work visa, this was sad to read.

Luckily us Canadians have NAFTA so its easy to get a work permit. It's sad that this great country is turning really intelligent people away.

46
bane 22 hours ago 5 replies      
I sympathize with the author, the path to a green card is ridiculous. [1] But that's where my sympathies stop.

It's not a hidden process either. If staying here matters to you better work tirelessly to put yourself on a path to permanent residency and you better be the one to push it daily or it won't happen.

Here we have a highly educated, Ivy Leaguer with a LAW DEGREE, who didn't.

But about 500,000 people a year do and I can guarantee that very few of those people have the kind of education chops this guy has.

> From college to law school to professional life, from student visa to work visa, I have scrupulously followed every immigration regulation, paid all my taxes, filed all the papers I had to file, and have not so much as received a parking ticket.

Fantastic, thanks for being a conscientious visitor. None of these things are part of getting permanent residency.

It sucks, but here's the options for somebody in this pickle:

1 - Only take a job that's willing to put you on a path to a Greencard. It costs your employer money, so be willing to take a pay-cut to compensate. It might suck, but deal with it because once you get your papers you're home free and can go out and pursue other work on the market at higher pay. It might take years to get it, but you need to keep pressing this issue if it matters to you. It mattered to the author, and he left it up to the whims of other people.

2 - Marry a citizen/permanent resident. Welcome to America, we have literally tens of millions of prospects for you. In this case the author had 15 years to hit the dating scene. (this is how my wife immigrated, and we were stupid college kids without a lawyer or any degree, before there were several major simplifications to the process and we managed it on our first try by using the novel technique of reading instructions, following them, then following up with immigration to make sure things were progressing. It took us about 3 solid years, but we managed it. I understand from other people who've been through the process more recently that it's much simpler and faster than what we went through back in the stone age)

> But if you wish to follow the rules, as I do, then it must be a bona fide marriage. And if you take important personal decisions such as marriage seriously, then you may not wish to have their timing dictated by Homeland Security...And now is not the right time for marriage.

Insert snarky response about not finding somebody after 15 years of hitting the dating scene. It can't be that bad.

3 - Apply for the Lottery. 50,000 Green-cards are issues yearly.

It doesn't appear that in 15 years, the author bothered to do that. [2]

Sorry that's the way it is. But it is what it is. I have a hard time stirring up any more sympathy. This is an essay of excuses.

So given the three available options, two of which the author appears to be aware of (and learning about the 3rd took me all of 35 seconds), he didn't strongly pursue any of them? Part of the American Religion is figuring this stuff out. And the hundreds of thousands of issued green-cards per year, often to people who don't even speak the majority language, is testament that this is not only achievable, but is regularly achievable -- it just takes a little tenacity.

It's a terrible system, possibly the worst in American government, but it's not like it's unknowable or unachievable. In fact here's the website to do it [3]

Reading is hard, action is harder.

1 - http://immigrationroad.com/green-card/immigration-flowchart-...

2 - http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/other-ways-get-green-card/gr...

3 - http://www.uscis.gov/greencard

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istvan__ 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah similar story is happening to me. The USCIS denying my VISA transfer requests for no reason. They fail to provide anything other than utter bullshit.
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anocendi 22 hours ago 2 replies      
It is kind of surprising to learn that those Big Law Firms rolling in huge piles of cash minute by the minute do not want to spend a mere couple of thousands for a member of their team.

Is it because petitioning for a candidate without a STEM degree is that much harder?

49
legohead 17 hours ago 2 replies      
The article mentions we kick out the brightest, but there's actually a way to specifically immigrate using your educational prowess [1]. Basically, you need a masters of higher.

You got 2 degrees, were here for ~15 years.. surely research was done to find out how to immigrate? If you spent the time to get 2 degrees, I'd figure getting a masters would have been the more obvious choice...

[1]: http://www.workpermit.com/us/employer_eb2.htm

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dudul 22 hours ago 1 reply      
"Numerous American friends, when the subject of my immigration status came up, have said to me things to the effect of, "Why don't you just become a citizen?""

I totally recognize my own friends in this. Americans have no clue how difficult it is to obtain a green card or a citizenship.

One of my friends was dating a girl from Asia, she was in the US under a work or student visa. She decided to attend a school in Europe for 2 years, their plan was to do the long distance thing for 2 years and then she would come back. I told him many times "Dude, if she leaves and gives up her visa she won't be able to come back". They ignored me, naively thinking that she would just get a new visa. 2 years later, she couldn't make it back to the US and stayed in Europe (or moved back to Asia, not sure).

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toephu2 15 hours ago 1 reply      
and the reverse? how hard is it to become a citizen of New Zealand?
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vonnik 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I spent 14 years in France on the same fool's errand. Same situation.
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ericdschmidt 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"I have two Ivy League degrees. And I am on the verge of deportation."

So you obviously deserve to come here, while the people living on $1 a day in extreme poverty and under oppressive regimes, they should be kept out? No, you didn't say all that, but I'm passionate about the cause of open borders (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/08/the_efficient_e...., http://www.openborders.info), and I can tell you a lot of Americans think exactly that way - they have a poor understanding of economics and they imagine that importing relatively unskilled laborers into our country would somehow 'taint' or bring down our economy toward their levels of poverty. (See here: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/02/always_keep_you.... if you have yet to be disabused of this fallacy.) And your suggestion that you should be allowed in because of your degrees is suggestive of that kind of broken thinking. Productivity is the root of societal prosperity. And labor, whether skilled or unskilled -- in fact, especially unskilled labor -- is able to be much more productive when allowed to move to the first world. That extra productivity benefits everyone. Economists estimate, on average, that a move from the status quo to fully liberalized migration (open borders) would result in a DOUBLING OF GLOBAL GDP. That's an INSANE silver bullet.

And most of those gains would go to the extreme poor: in fact, it would be by far the most effective step we could take to reduce extreme poverty - which a lot of people don't realize is the single worst humanitarian crisis of all time, killing ~10 million people per year, a higher rate than WWII, which was the deadliest war ever. Open border should be foremost on every smart, informed, ethical person's mind, and it's a crying shame that it isn't. Instead you see people whining about the plight of 1st-world Uber drivers and middle class Americans and not being able to stay in the US with their Ivy League degrees. Spoiler alert: all those people are crazy rich relative to the extreme poor. There are ~1 billion people, 1/7th of the world's population, living in extreme poverty, which is defined as making less than $1.25 per day. That's PER DAY, NOT PER HOUR. They are literally starving, malnourished, have no clean water, no education - they have practically nothing. So unless you can show me evidence that you've spent many hours worrying about open borders and the extreme poor, screw your first world problem.

And by the way, I'm a rich american with an Ivy League degree myself, so this is not coming from a place of ivy-envy or anything. I've just spent a lot of time reading and thinking about open borders and the state of the world and I'm disappointed in my fellow educated first worlders that they're so oblivious, apathetic, uncaring, so this gets me angry.

Please see my other comments in this thread for more of my thoughts.

Great links: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/01/sitting_on_an_o....https://vimeo.com/15000835http://www.bottombillionfund.org/extreme_poverty.htmlhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/magazine/debunking-the-myt...http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/if-...http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2011/08/the_efficient_e....http://www.openborders.info

54
pottytalk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry that gnu had to be born that way. To save the mothership.
55
ryandrake 1 day ago 1 reply      
US immigration rules would be much saner if people born here had to jump through the same hoops, wait in the same lines, fill out the same forms, and go through the same process for citizenship, as people not born here.
56
pottytalk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry you were born that way.
57
cletus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I am fortunate enough to work for an employer who does sponsor employment-based residency. I'm also fortunate to be in the home stretch (should get my PR later this year). I'm also fortunate to be born in a country that doesn't have a massive backlog that add years to the process (those countries being India and China primarily).

Even so, by the end it will have taken almost 4 years. This isn't bad by the standards of what others have gone through but it's terrible we're in a situation where 4 years for PR is defined as "not terrible".

So I sympathize. I want to stay here too. But there are three things I want to say here.

1. As another poster said: maybe this is how it should end up. There is, after all, a glut of lawyers. This makes it difficult for an employer to justify the expense of going through the process;

2. Job losses and an abundance of qualified applicants make getting an LC far from certain. This isn't really a problem for tech companies. I imagine it's a huge problem for a law firm;

3. I see no mention of the DV lottery. I don't know the exact probabilities but applying 10-15 times from New Zealand must have a decent chance of your number coming up. Did he ever apply? If not, why not?

Contrary to what at least one poster said, it absolutely has zero impact on your nonimmigrant visa applications to have entered the DV lottery. over the years I applied probably 6 times? My number never came up. Not unexpected. I've met several people whose number did come up.

How long is the typical career in corporate law? How long does a job typically last with a law firm? I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. Is it 5-10 years? If not, will the employee still be around at the end? It seems reasonably likely they won't be.

So, my sympathies. It's a shame you're not Australian, because we have it easiest of probably anyone barring arguably Canadians.

58
cooleng 15 hours ago 0 replies      
cannot agree more
59
stefantalpalaru 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I get it that a degree in US law is only relevant in the US, but after 15 years you should really take a hint and move on.
60
drzaiusapelord 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Considering U-6 unemployment is about 12% right now, perhaps this is a feature and not a bug. I still don't understand why Disney and others are allowed to do the things they do with abusing H1B's. Or why firms think they need someone with some fraudulent/substandard foreign degree instead of investing in domestic workers.

There's a discussion about labor to be had here and it should be focused on domestic labor abuses. Unfortunately, these things are rarely discussed and H1B and other abusive programs only rarely flare up in the news, everyone sees them for what they are, but there's no political will to fight them.

Immigration's external costs are ignored as well. The source country is constantly having a brain drain, for example. Its amusing to me to see HN'ers with this pretentious global perspective who have no problem taking the top 20% of the people from countries that need them and thinking themselves humanitarians because they got them a coding job in the valley.

If we started being serious about cutting immigration, there would be more political pressure for these foreign countries to get their shit straight. More local entrepreneurs, more devs focusing on local problems, etc. The status quo right now of fleeing to Western ecomomies just guarantees poor outcomes in poorer nations. We shouldn't be proud of that. Jogesh shouldn't be writing disposable freemium games for some rich guy's son who thinks himself "the next Steve Jobs," he should be helping Indians and the Indian economy with his skills.

61
vinceguidry 23 hours ago 1 reply      
He's thinking like a desperate poor person and not as the affluent American he aspires to be.

If I were in this position, I'd start a company to employ me and get an investor to foot the bill for keeping me in the US. Someone as smart and well-connected as the author should be able to manage that. It's difficult to get personal goals to align with the government's wishes, but it's not difficult at all to throw money at the problem.

There are scores of ways to get into and stay in the US, the problem is understanding and navigating the bureaucracy. He managed for 15 years. I read stories all the time of creative strategies yielding a green card and eventual citizenship. I don't even ask the many non-Hispanic immigrants I meet whether they have citizenship or not, they all managed to work the system.

62
solve 1 day ago 2 replies      
The slavery-like dynamics of the immigration system is a surprising mismatch, versus the typical American business culture.

For comparison, I've spent time in a few countries where a slavery-like relationship with employers is completely expected and even supported by the employees. (Culture shock!) They imagine that it's the only way that businesses can function.

This isn't the type of business culture you want to live in, no matter the perceived benefits.

63
iLemming 18 hours ago 1 reply      
There a lot of things "broken" in this country: healthcare system, elementary/middle school education, guns out of control, racial issues, etc. Still probably the best place in the world.
64
hahamrfunnyguy 21 hours ago 0 replies      
He's doing it wrong. He just needs to get married.
65
izztmzzt 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Not enough job supply for all of the law school graduates and this guy is surprised that they dont allow foreign competition to immigrate. Sorry to break it, we dont need more lawyers at the moment. Maybe try again in 10 years?
66
normand1 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Should have just snuck across the border in Mexico. People who follow the law are treated like criminals and those who break it are treated like heroes in California.
67
pthreads 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I fail to see how your complaint is valid beyond just a personal disappointment and/or frustration. The two main bullet points in your post and my comments are :-

1. When the rest of the world sends America its best and brightest, America says, "Go away" : No country/entity sent you here. You came here of your own volition. You said that you have lived here legally. That means you followed the law. The US immigration enforcement agency also has a law to follow and they are precisely doing that. As a result of the law you are not qualified to become a permanent resident or citizen (yet). There is absolutely no law here that says the US is required to absorb all of the world's best and most skilled. It is not in the US constitution.

2. American immigration law leaves the skilled immigrant feeling like an indentured serf : I disagree w.r.t skilled immigration. It cannot be true as a blanket statement. All the labor laws treat US workers equally regardless of their immigration status. Some corporations misuse loopholes or down right violate them. That is not the fault of the immigration system. It is against the law and the law will punish those corporations/businesses to the extent that is practically possible (not an excuse for failure to do so). And where the laborers, skilled or otherwise, are being exploited it becomes the duty of lawmakers and enforcers to take action.

Each country has their own laws with regard to immigration. It is their right as a sovereign nation to craft laws as they see fit. In come countries it is almost impossible to permanently immigrate unless you are born there and in others you could virtually buy citizenship. Even the country you come from has immigration laws and I am certain that many find it burdensome or extremely difficult. But it is still within their right.

68
rrss1122 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I'll supply an anecdote of my own. My parents both immigrated to the US, both obtained permanent residency, and are both on the path to citizenship.

This guy has been trying for 15 years. It doesn't explain in the article why he doesn't at least have his residency yet.

Wooden combination lock woodgears.ca
435 points by chaosmachine  2 days ago   58 comments top 11
1
MatthiasWandel 2 days ago 10 replies      
Hi, it's Matthias here (I built the lock). Got any questions for me?
2
cliffwarden 2 days ago 2 replies      
3
agumonkey 2 days ago 2 replies      
All these rotating pieces reminded me of Sussman's talk on watches http://video.mit.edu/watch/an-electrical-engineering-view-of...
4
morgante 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is an awesome educational tool: the large size makes it really easy to see and understand how combination locks work.
5
ak39 2 days ago 3 replies      
Awesome. How long does it take to achieve skills of this calibre in woodwork?
6
mullingitover 2 days ago 3 replies      
I'm skeptical of a security mechanism that can be defeated with a match and some lighter fluid.

However, as an art piece this is impressive.

7
kitd 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic! The whole site is great. My kids have been pestering me to let them do stuff like this and I didn't really know where to start.

Bookmarked.

8
vvpan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not to diminish Matthias' amazing abilities, but only to highlight the challenges that go into making anything out of wood: plywood, isn't really wood per se. If you built things out of wood you'd have to worry about grain direction, because cross-grain strength in wood is very low. This adds a whole another level of complexity to the engineering process.
9
bhudman 2 days ago 0 replies      
I try to visit his site every Friday. I like his no nonsense videos.
10
wlmsng 2 days ago 1 reply      
Really interesting! What got you into woodworking?
11
owly 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool!
DoJ's Gag Order on Reason Has Been Lifted popehat.com
383 points by danielsiders  1 day ago   101 comments top 8
1
jedberg 1 day ago 6 replies      
This happens all the time. At reddit we would get requests from law enforcement asking for email addresses and other private information. Luckily in our case we could simply reply that we didn't know, since we didn't require any personal information to sign up and didn't keep IP address logs that long.

But having been on the other side of the coin, investigating computer crime, I can tell you why it happens. It's really easy to make a request for information, and in most cases, the person you're asking will just willingly give it up even though they don't legally have to, either because they want to be helpful or because they don't know about their legal rights. Even if the evidence can't be used to build a case against the person in court, it can still be used to lead down a path towards finding the person and gathering evidence that is admissible.

2
barney54 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is a really big deal and the story deserves more coverage since apparently it happens all the time. Who would have thought that we have to continue to foment for free speech even in 2015, but apparently we have to!
3
ddp 1 day ago 0 replies      
TL;DR - Judge rubber stamps DoJ's gag order without any basis. He does this because he is friends with another judge who was the target of someone's First Amendment rant in a forum on Reason.
4
AndrewBissell 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Hit n Run commenters had a fun reaction to the whole thing involving changing their handles to variations on the word "woodchipper."
5
vermontdevil 1 day ago 0 replies      
Problem is our society rewards aggressive prosecutors greatly in a variety of ways. But we don't hold them accountable when they are caught doing the wrong things.

The worst I can remember is disbarring that prosecutor in North Carolina in the Duke Lacrosse case.

So we have a system of overly aggressive prosecutors thinking this is the best career path regardless of legal ethics, respect to the Constitution, etc.

It'll never end until we start pushing them back and demand better professionalism and respect.

6
ohitsdom 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent perspective on how even an innocent US attorney could be unknowingly using their power to bully. A request or recommendation is read as a threat by most.
7
beedogs 1 day ago 3 replies      
Wow. Just when I thought Obama's DoJ couldn't come off looking any more amateurish. They're really an embarrassment.
8
dimino 1 day ago 2 replies      
I get that I shouldn't really expect anything else from popehat, but how alienating is this article to people who aren't already onboard with this point of view?
The man with 1,000 klein bottles under his house [video] youtube.com
375 points by cevn  1 day ago   118 comments top 32
1
el_benhameen 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I went to Cliff's house a few years back to buy one of his bottles as a gift for my dad. He was just as effusive, welcoming, and excited for one visitor he'd never met as he was in the video.

I thought I was just swinging by to pick up the bottle and pay the check, but I ended up staying for about 45 minutes (because he just kept going!), chatting about the crawlspace, the robot, and life in general. He talked about eschewing a big career so that he and his wife could focus on making life great for their kids. And it certainly seemed to have paid off for both kids and dad: I've never met anyone who seemed to be having so damned much fun just existing. It was refreshing to see that it's totally possible to be driven almost entirely by intrinsic factors and still exist in the real world. He left an impression as being an all-around fantastic human being. The bottle was pretty cool, too.

2
noonespecial 1 day ago 2 replies      
His tiny robotic warehouse in the crawlspace of his house is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time.

Pure distilled mad science. He's like a living cartoon. I want to be him when I get old so very much!

3
slyall 1 day ago 7 replies      
Cliff Stoll in case people were wondering:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford_Stoll

I have his original book my shelf, it was fascinating when it came out.

His Klein Bottle company is here:

http://www.kleinbottle.com/

4
acron0 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is incredible. I LOVE stuff like this. It makes me so happy that people like this still exist in the world. I say 'still' because I feel like they're a dying breed. The rationale behind everything he's done is laid bare and it makes sense! People like this don't ever let a detail like "I have no idea how to achieve this" stand in their way. Everything is a challenge or problem that needs solving.
5
craigching 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ok, never heard of klein bottles before, watched the video and I learned about something new today. Awesome robot and storage area as well :)

But, aside from that, when I went to youtube to watch the video, the ad I had to watch was this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYhdbxj-yoI

First time I watched a youtube ad all the way through :p

6
jay-saint 1 day ago 0 replies      
Check out his job postings for his Acme Klein Bottle company http://www.kleinbottle.com/jobs.html

My favorite: PENTIUM PROCESSOR. Must know all pentium processes, including preprocessing, postprocessing, and past-pluperfect processing. Ideal candidate pent up at the Pentagon, penthouse, or penitentiary. Pays pennies. Penurious benefits include Pension, Pencil. Pentel, Pentax, and Pentaflex. Write to pensive@kleinbottle.con

7
devinmontgomery 1 day ago 1 reply      
This NOVA episode with Cliff is what got me interested in the Internet when I was 8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcKxaq1FTac
8
bambax 1 day ago 4 replies      
Real life Gyro Gearloose!!!

In the next video he talks about how a Klein bottle is made, and how, contrary to a bottle, it has no edge.

I'm not sure I understand why a bottle "has to" have an edge? Surely it's possible to make a bottle with no edge? For example, if one takes a sphere and progressively turns it into a bowl (by punching into it), and then makes the bowl deeper, it still has just one surface and no edge, no?

9
dwarman 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I do like Cliff. This reminds me, I dropped my bottle last year; time to replace it.

If Klein bottles catch your fanvcy, there's another and very different artist doing metal and glass algorithmic artwork in 3D printers: Bathsheba (at http://bathsheba.com). I had Cliff's bottle sitting on top of her laser etched known universe cube at work. Each contains the other. Too bad nobody there gets the joke. But I saw the same combo in a documentary about String Theory, in one of the scientists' office, so I'm not alone :)

10
DanBC 1 day ago 1 reply      
The klein bottles are awesome, but they are the least awesome thing about his under-floor space. That was amazing.
11
hrayr 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this guy, I first saw him in his TED talk [1]. He kinda reminds me of Richard Feynman (similar mannerisms and enthusiasm for science).

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj8IA6xOpSk

12
e0m 1 day ago 0 replies      
Definitely subscribe to Numberphile if you thought that was interesting. One of my favorite YouTube channels.
13
tempodox 1 day ago 2 replies      
I got one of those Klein bottles from him, and it's really beautifully done. If you are careful, you can even store some liquid or other stuff in it. I wonder if the mathematical original could do that, too.
14
nedwin 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Acme Klein Bottles - where yesterday's future is here today!" http://www.kleinbottle.com/
15
zafka 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, I just bought mine! It warms my heart to contribute to such a great life style. I aspire to a similar future myself.
16
graffitici 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Perfect model for Amazon's new distribution system! Transform people's basements into small warehouses, complete with autonomous robots. Then ship everything locally, as they are needed!
17
dmd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, synchronicity -- I just received a klein bottle order in the mail from him YESTERDAY.
18
chii 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Now with a LIFETIME GUARANTEE - we guarantee that you will live your entire life OR YOUR MONEY BACK!

ROFL - that site is awesome. You don't need no fancy javascript, graphics or special effects. Just pure humor and good content!

19
guard-of-terra 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is it glass wool hanging down from his underfloor ceiling in insane qualities?

I was raised to believe it's extremely dangerous to health, people crawling there scare me. Of course it's easier with forklift.

20
MagnumCI 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I went to a talk from Stoll years ago where he basically danced on tables, his enthusiasm is contagious.

I've always been amused by his 'Internet commerce will never work, give up' essay

http://www.newsweek.com/clifford-stoll-why-web-wont-be-nirva...

21
naggie 19 hours ago 0 replies      
He sounds like the scientist from X-COM: Enforcer!Random gameplay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O0Z8Fv31l0
22
kazinator 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Jim Croce should have written the lyrics "If I could save time in Klein's bottle ...":

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/jimcroce/timeinabottle.html

Eternity ... looping. Doh!

23
konradb 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I bought one of these a few years ago and was touched by the personal note written in it. I hadn't realised until now that it was Clifford Stoll who actually sent these! Fascinating video.
24
harel 1 day ago 2 replies      
What would be a practical use for such a feat of inter dimension glass containerism?
25
mattyohe 1 day ago 2 replies      
Clifford's TED talk is quite entertaining too: https://youtu.be/dSGHZ4YHP54
26
Shivetya 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I see that little robot and I get images of the little guy from Silent Running tending his plants
27
iuguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Clifford Stoll is always a fascinating character to watch.
28
hakcermani 1 day ago 0 replies      
The clicking noises from that robot, its brilliant !
29
Morendil 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I own one of those. They're rad.
30
wodenokoto 1 day ago 1 reply      
I want a reality show about this guy, this is amazing!
31
onion2k 1 day ago 0 replies      
He is awesome.
32
DrScump 1 day ago 1 reply      
a warning: the volume on this is REALLY. LOUD.
We Tried Slack and Regretted It freecodecamp.com
329 points by mochtar  2 days ago   185 comments top 46
1
derefr 2 days ago 3 replies      
It's pretty clear that Slack is not, and never will be, built for this use-case. Slack is for teams: small groups where everyone knows one-another by name, can be trusted with one-another's email-addresses and other contact information, can be trusted to only use @everyone triggers for important things, etc. A lot of Slack's features are built to assume this "small group with a shared purpose where everyone can be trusted to fiddle with things" paradigm.

Slack can handle "communities"effectively groups with a "team"-sized aristocracy and a bunch of rarely-visiting people who mainly interact in a hub-and-spoke fashion with the team. But it's still not built for that.

Slack is emphatically not for societies: groups big enough that people only know a small percentage of others, groups that must create "laws" to prevent random strangers abusing your shared infrastructure, etc.

In fact, very few pieces of software are designed to cope with use by societies. Maybe Usenet (as a whole), IRC (an entire server, not a single channel), and Reddit (the code-base, run on your own server) are for societies.

If I were to come up with a way to host a chat adjacent to a MOOC, though, I'd still probably use Slack; I'd just have one Slack team for each instance of each course. (The one thing I do think Slack is missing, is a way to easily share your "Slack identity" (username, avatar, client display prefs, etc.) between multiple Slack teams you're concurrently logged into. Then you could be in two "classes" and be sure the same person is the same person in both; or Slack could even consolidate their Direct Message threads into a single one shared between both teams.)

2
greenyoda 2 days ago 4 replies      
"The only way to make this go away is to pay slack's cheapest plan, which is $5 per user, per month. That's $5 x 12 months x 8,462 campers = $507,720 per year, just for our current campers. Until then, Slack aggressively archived messages, sometimes only minutes after they were sent."

Do people really expect to receive full service and support for 8462 users for free? How can a company like Slack survive if it gives away resources like this? Usually, "freemium" services are offered so that users can try out the service without having to pay for it, but if you expect unlimited support for 8462 users, it makes sense to have to pay.

3
mbesto 2 days ago 2 replies      
Here's the problem I have with this:

1. You have an organization (can't tell if for profit or non-for-profit) that explicitly states that it helps people "become a Software Engineer".

2. Yet, one of the organizers of the company (?) states "we blithely shepherded 300 to 500 new campers into our Slack every day, hopeful that this messaging company, now worth $2.8 billion, would hire more engineers to flog their LAMP stack application into shape."

Thanks for this...you're now creating a culture of developers who "blithely" makes architectural decisions with little proper thought and publicly trash technology choices (in this case, LAMP).

EDIT: Upon further review it looks like the person in question has a bit of an agenda...

http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-MEAN-java...

http://www.quora.com/Having-built-web-stuff-the-old-way-PHP-...

I appreciate that people are stepping up to the plate and getting more people involved in coding, but this is seriously dogmatic and potentially harmful.

4
andmarios 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think you should have ran the math before switching to Slack.

A max limit of 10,000 messages history for your 8,500 free users, premium cost at $60/user/year.

An engineer designs a product for the specifications she/he is given. Slack's engineers were given the specs above and obviously designed and optimized their product for much smaller teams than yours.

5
comrade1 2 days ago 4 replies      
Jesus, what a mess. Sounds like someone made a decision without doing even a modicum of research into pricing. Bowing to peer pressure just means someone is managing by consensus.
6
nodesocket 2 days ago 2 replies      
A perfect illustration of the "entitled developer complex". Failure to properly research Slack, a bad use-case, complain about pricing, then publicly bash.

I've seen this repeatedly with my own startup (https://commando.io), and honestly this user profile is the worst. They won't pay, or will pay very little, and expect the most. They complain about the underlying codebase and stack (PHP), and fail to solve actual problems. They get stuck on details that don't matter.

7
cddotdotslash 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, this should be a textbook example of how not to make a decision. Zero forethought of future needs? Check. Picking a solution not designed for the problem? Check. Complaining that something that wasn't designed to do x isn't doing x? Check.
8
jonathanmarcus 2 days ago 2 replies      
What a hyperbolic post. There is no reason to put a company on blast like this. There is a real team of people likely working exceptionally hard to operate Slack. You could have just written a post extolling the benefits of Gitter, and gone about your day of adding more campers to your project. I'm guessing Slack didn't beg for your business or community endorsements.
9
dubcanada 2 days ago 4 replies      
Why not just use IRC? Is it not made for the sole purpose of having lots of users talk with each other.
10
neilellis 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm very disappointed with the level of comments here - the emotional attachment to Slack is just not neccessary; same for the ad hominem comments. For sure they have a great tool that I love and use but they have been slow to act upon the fact that many communities are using their free option with huge numbers. Rightly or wrongly.

Slack just simply need to decide whether they are supporting this model or are happy to hand it over to Gitter to deal with. I suspect Gitter will be more than happy.

Personally I think they could offer a fixed fee for public rooms. But hey that's up to them, it's their business model to decide.

I think the problem is just the lack of clarity about how they are going to manage what they definitely know is going on (I have asked).

11
coned88 2 days ago 0 replies      
Personally we use slack at work and it's a terrible product. Yes it's nice that we can see pictures and gifs inline with the text but the client is not great. The mobile client is even worse. The bloody thing just doesn't work. I'll get a message via the desktop app and 10-15 minutes later get the push notification on my phone. Then I can only see some of the push notification on my phone and when I go to click the notification to read it. The entire channel or DM it came from is not up to date. So if I do have service which I may not have I have to then wait for the messages to download and for it to reconcile what has been read.

Any irc or xmpp clients do not have these issues. products like Whatsapp and telegram don't have these issues.

12
dmourati 2 days ago 1 reply      
Two things.

1. The decision making process here was unsound. You need to follow the one, some, all approach of rolling out changes. Jumping in on multiple thousands of users was irresponsible.

2. Slack should provide some guidance earlier in the process about user limits. They are known for their friendly UI/UX. An email to the admin saying: "Hey, we've noticed you reached 50% of our maximum users for your instance, are you sure you are on the right path?" would have gone a long way.

13
michaelq 2 days ago 1 reply      
Look what I found: Slack's free tier pricing page explicitly states "There's no limit on how many people you can add to your team on Slack." https://twitter.com/FreeCodeCamp/status/612758062214950912
14
skybrian 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love reading stories like this. While it could have been worded better, it's important to share information about migration failures, so that other people can learn from them. When done right, it's called a postmortem. We need more of them.

I also think it's proper to point out that bandwagon effects played a role. Marketing shouldn't be used an excuse to skip due diligence, but in practice, it's often a factor in bad decisions.

15
morgante 2 days ago 1 reply      
It sounds like they didn't do any research into what Slack's limitations are.

Also, frankly, if I were Slack I would not invest in supporting this use case at all. Massive free chat rooms are not a profitable space to be in.

16
hrayr 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can't really use a product outside of it's use case, then complain about it when you reach "outside" it's walls.. I mean you can complain all you want about it, but don't blame it on the product itself. The manual invitation form is clearly designed to discourage mass open ended invitations. A product designed for teams with 500-1000 users in mind, is probably going to get bogged down by 10,000+ users.
17
Sir_Cmpwn 2 days ago 1 reply      
Every chat system since IRC has been worse than IRC. Without fail. Just use IRC, people, stop chasing shiny things.
18
cactusface 2 days ago 0 replies      
This was actually a really entertaining telling of a boring old story about capitalist competition. Act I: We tried A, then we outgrew it. Someone said B was better. Act II: We tried B, then we outgrew it. Act III: By this time A had caught up to our needs, so we went back to A. End Credits
19
cechmaster 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yeah dude, wtf, 5000 users and you think you can get away for free?
20
modarts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Drama Queen post of the year, good lord. Why don't you try figuring out what parameters the software you're using is designed to operate in before throwing such a public shit fit?
21
lsc 2 days ago 0 replies      
I find it super weird that new chat and messaging applications keep finding popularity.

It seems like most of the features could be had by using a sufficiently featurefull IRC and email client.

hmm. That could be an interesting project. Implement a social network using nntp, using public-key cryptography (with tight integration in the client) for access control. But seriously, I can see how some features of social networks would be hard to implement with nntp and clients... but I'm kind of missing out on why most of the newer chat networks are better than IRC.

22
niteshade 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've had the pleasure of dealing with the Gitter team, and they are an awesomely talented bunch of devs.
23
partiallypro 2 days ago 1 reply      
We have adopted Slack recently with a small 12 person (and everyone knows everyone) team and it works great. It really brings down distraction of people coming over to ask questions, they can just ask the question of a group and get it resolved by someone. We have Lync as a company wide (1000s) community messenger but for small teams this works great for collaboration of small groups. I am actually shocked that Microsoft doesn't have a solution like Slack built into Lync (Skype for Business now.) I mean it's possible they could buy Slack...but anyhow Slack is made for smaller teams. If you want a community use IRC (non-corporate), Skype or Google (corporate), etc.
24
mcguire 2 days ago 0 replies      
"No way were we going to spread our community across a bunch of disparate Slack instances. The entire point of a chat room app is convenient real time conversation."

5000 users, plus 300-500 new users per day. In a chat.

Convenient real time communication, that is not.

25
Axsuul 2 days ago 0 replies      
Using Slack for communities and groups of people who don't know each other is incredibly clunky. It still feels like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Slack is made for teams who communicate furiously. Large communities are typically more passive and casual.

26
libraryatnight 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really like Slack. Where I work each team has its own Slack chat with various channels. I work in IT, our more general team is about 30 people and my more focused team is 7 people. We have specific channels for each focus group, and then a general channel for the entire team.

Since we've used Slack I feel more up to date and more in the know because I can keep up with what everyone is talking about. I have keywords that give me an alert when someone mentions my name or specific things in which I specialize. I've been able to quickly offer help to those who might not have immediately thought to bring their issue directly to me as a result, and have had the same happen in regard to problems I bring up in channel. It reminds me very much of hanging out on IRC when I was a teenager, but an IRC built for business.

Sharing files, code, screencaptures, etc is easy and intuitive. The integrations are useful: GitHub, Zoom video conferencing, Dropbox - having these items easily available only make Slack blend more seamlessly into my day.

I like Slack, and reading this blog post I couldn't help but feel this was more a mismatch for the author's use-case than a problem with the application.

27
dev1n 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been using Circuit [1] for a while and have to say I've been impressed, if the people over at Free Code Camp are reading this. The document sharing and solidly built iOS app sold me on it. Switching teams on the iOS app for Circuit vs Slack was far faster too which I always found frustrating on the Slack app. Document searching was really well built on Circuit too.

[1] https://www.yourcircuit.com/

28
hokkos 2 days ago 0 replies      
BabelJS support chat that used gitter moved to slack, Reactiflux a React community uses slack. If think there is a real opportunity for slack to do like reddit with their subs for opensource software, they could monetize it with jobs offers. But for now if slack is more slick and fast than gitter we loose google searching, history.
29
shalmanese 2 days ago 0 replies      
Their first clue that maybe this was an issue is they had to hack an undocumented API to even get people onto the system. Slack is going to need to do something about this because they're increasingly being used for communities of strangers around a common interest.

Despite Slack doing everything they can to discourage this use case, there's a clear need there which Slack is filling. I'm currently part of 3 separate slack groups where this is the case. Either a "Slack for communities" forms to absorb that niche or Slack needs to start thinking of a service offering for these communities because they aren't going to go away and they're going to complain as vocally as free code camp when they don't get their way.

30
sergiotapia 2 days ago 2 replies      
What did you expect? You can't expect to hit such a ridiculously large number and not pay anything.
31
neumino 2 days ago 0 replies      
I kind of think that Gitter is a joke and I'm not convinced they can do better than Slack. I mean their Android app has the balls to ask you to write your GitHub credentials.

Maybe Asana/plain IRC is a better solution.

32
seanp2k2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why not use IRC or some form of XMPP? Heck, just make a channel on Freenode and call it a day. Want integrations? Everything works with IRC already (maybe not all the one-click integrations).
33
gnoway 2 days ago 0 replies      
Site does not resolve for me, here is the google cache link:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:94NVni1...

34
tosbourn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am guessing there will be a post slamming blogger soon since that is the only page that is currently working.
35
Bahamut 2 days ago 3 replies      
The one thing that has me mostly abandoning Gitter is that switching channels is incredibly slow on the browser.

If Gitter had a standalone client, I'd be willing to give it another shot, but until then, I'm a proponent of using IRC & Slack.

36
serve_yay 2 days ago 0 replies      
It does seem to be a bad fit. That's too bad for them, I really enjoy using Slack.
37
JustSomeNobody 2 days ago 0 replies      
After reading this I have but one request; please stop teaching people to code.

Your solution to a problem you have with some software is to suggest they simple throw engineers at it is sadly pathetic.

38
logicallee 2 days ago 0 replies      
This title is extremely misleading and should read "We Switched Our 8,000 Campers to Free Slack and Regretted It".

Even in a tiny organization (like <50 people) that starts using Slack, the plan would be to switch to eventually paying for it or look very hard at the limitations. Who builds a freemium service tier into their stack without looking at the limits!

It's not like slack is ad-supported, free is not its basic model.

39
a-dub 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really wonder what the din of an 8500 person chatroom would be like...
40
utuxia 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is what IRC if for numb nuts.
41
kolev 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've always wondered why Slack gets so much love from engineers! It's noisy, it's expensive, and did I mention "noisy". It started as a copycat and didn't do much beyond that. The only thing I'm thankful to Slack about is that it's pushing HipChat to innovate. Finally we got multi-account support in there! Yes, I openly do like HipChat better - it's free, it's less noisy, it's coming from Atlassian, it integrates nicely into the Atlassian ecosystem, but there are alternatives like the open-source Rocket Chat [0] and Let's Chat [1], but Gitter is [2] is the best of those (like most of us) who use GitHub most of the day. Not sure why it doesn't get the love it deserves (but Gitter is expensive as well)!

[0] https://sdelements.github.io/lets-chat/

[1] http://rocket.chat/

[2] https://gitter.im/

42
vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Slack's "sticker shock" is pretty big. I'm not sure if it's autodetecting and giving me Australian dollars in it's pricing, but in the first paid band it's showing me $6.67/user/mo for annual (who knows how many users a small team will have in a year?) or $8/user/mo for month-to-month (the usual pricing). $8/user/month for chat. And it's double that to get business-level SLAs. With 25 users in the account, including external teams and contractors, that would mean we're paying $200/month ($400 for business SLAs). Per month. For chat. Crazy.

And slackbot keeps on claiming any "thank you" that someone says, even if specified @someone, the greedy little bugger.

43
philippnagel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does Slack really use LAMP?
44
ExpiredLink 2 days ago 2 replies      
WTF is Slack???
45
chris_wot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is the author paying for this service? If so - oh boy. Slack should have been more closely monitoring clients this big to ensure they don't reach self-imposed limits. That's just, heh, slack.
46
ksk 2 days ago 2 replies      
OK sure, I get that Slack wants to make money and doesn't want too many 'free' users. The restrictions themselves are acceptable to me.

However, their platform seems super brittle and janky if it can't handle the users in the first place. Seriously? 5000 users, 10,000 messages is a "Use Case" now? Sending out emails without fucking up needs "engineering"? Um. OK. Personally, I would be embarrassed if I put my name on a product that couldn't handle such an extremely light load for a platform that basically transmits text.

Three hundred programming interviews in thirty days triplebyte.com
318 points by uptown  20 hours ago   229 comments top 44
1
protonfish 19 hours ago 16 replies      
It's great to see some objective research being done on this, and I am very interested in following the results.

They mention evaluating the effectiveness of giving a candidate a project to do "in their own time." I recently had a interview that included this and I can share the result: I accepted an offer from a different company that didn't require it. I doubt my life is that different than anyone else's, with a full-time job and a full-time life outside of work. Spending that much time to qualify for a single job is too much to ask of anyone. If it were to pass a generic proficiency certification applicable to many positions, I would consider it, but this does not scale if a candidate is applying for multiple positions.

2
jasode 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Imo, this post did not organize its data and findings into a coherent presentation.

For example...

>The fizzbuzz-style coding problems, however, did not perform as well. While the confidence intervals are large, the current data shows less correlation with interview results. [...] The coding problems were also harder for people to finish. We saw twice the drop off rate on the coding problems as we saw on the quiz.

I read that paragraph several times and I don't understand what he's actually saying. If those candidates "dropped off" on the fizzbuzz, were they also still kept for further evaluation in the following extended coding session? A later paragraph says...

>So we started following up with interviews where we asked people to write code. Suddenly, a significant percentage of the people who had spoken well about impressive-sounding projects failed, in some cases spectacularly, when given relatively simple programming tasks. Conversely, people who spoke about very trivial sounding projects (or communicated so poorly we had little idea what they had worked on) were among the best at actual programming.

For the fizzbuzz failures to be non-correlative and counterintuitive, it means he did not reject them for failing fizzbuzz and they later ended up doing spectacularly well in the larger coding sessions. If that's what happened, then yes, that is a very counterintuitive result. What were the topics of the larger coding sessions?

3
RogerL 19 hours ago 1 reply      
"as soon as we started doing them however, I saw a problem. Almost everyone was passing."

Why is that a problem? Maybe almost everyone is decently good (as evidenced by having a string of jobs, and presumably, references), and your interviews are creating tons of false negatives.Or heck, vice versa. You don't know.

You are presuming your conclusions. You have no basis to make conclusions yet, you just have incomplete data. It's iteresting data, and I'm gleefully happy that somebody is looking at this in the context of programmers (too many studies are very broad, across many different career/job type, IMO). But I think all you have right now is data. Fishing for correlations at this point is nearly bound to lead you astray.

With that aside, I'm very interested in the eventual correlation with test performance and job performance. I'm biased - I dislike IQ tests, but I must admit there is a lot of research on them out there. For me personally, I perform spectacularly on this sort of test, pretty poorly in whiteboard tests, so-so in pair program to get a job, and generally top of the heap in actual job performance. It would definitely help me personally if these tests were true. Yet, still, I wonder, do they measure "get things done"? Do they measure "don't piss off the CEO/customer" skills? There's a ton of things that I think are important beyond pure cognitive skills.

4
notacoward 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's the part that really seems to matter the most.

 This does create some danger of circular reasoning (perhaps we're just carefully describing our own biases). But we have to start somewhere, and basing our evaluations on how people write actual code seems like a good place.The really exciting point comes when we can re-run all this analysis, basing it on actual job performance, rather than interview results.
Absolutely. Results on the earlier screens and results on the later interview aren't exactly independent variables, and neither is the one that really seems to matter - subsequent on-the-job success. There are all sorts of biases and confounding factors likely to be shared between them, especially since there's no indication that the later interviews were even done blind w.r.t. the earlier screens. Until then, we're just measuring correlations between different interview techniques, and it should be no surprise that two different kinds of code-focused interviews show the highest correlation.

5
jbangert 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Very interesting methodology, but it would be very nice to correlate this data with long-term job performance. Interview decisions (of which of course you get more than long-term results, and they are clearer to quantify) are hopefully, but not necessarily an indicator of whether an employee works out for your company. Otherwise you run the risk of optimizing the quiz/screening process around metrics that influence your interview (i.e. test for how you personally weigh performance indicators, not for how these performance indicators actually affect performance)
6
mbesto 19 hours ago 2 replies      
> In our first 30 days, we've come up with a replacement for resume screens, and shown that it works well.

What's the metric that shows it works well?

> The really exciting point comes when we can re-run all this analysis, basing it on actual job performance, rather than interview results.

And how precisely do you measure job performance? If this is achievable, I've got a line of companies out my door that would love to pay for a service that systematically measures job performance.

7
obfk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the most enjoyable and mutually effective interviews I had included a one-hour pairing session which was language agnostic that required me to describe how I'd implement a basic data structure. The interviewer drove and implemented. This was then followed by a day long session of pairing on real problems with a number of different interviewers. Lunch was spent with some of the other team members, where we discussed basic things like culture, day-to-day affairs, and each of our histories.

This was a great approach to me, because it didn't particularly focus on anything outside of the present. We worked on solving real problems, and contributing to the project. It's a great, low-stress, method of gauging if someone has the chops for what is typically the "day-to-day" life at the given shop.

8
jordigg 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I really think technical, or any other kind of hiring is broken. As you showed best indicators are questions (like your quizzes) or by showing "live" you can rather than a pretty CV, certificate or a fancy university name (I'm talking about tech not medicine, construction engineering or others that really require those).

I have been rejected many, many, many times because the first screening (CV check by non-technical recruiter). My last example was at a well know tech startup were I had to hack my way to get noticed in order to get the first interview. The funny thing is that I was the fasted candidate to get hired + I won a company-wide award for my work at the company just 4 months after joining.

I haven't finished a degree because I thought was boring and I was learning things I already taught myself before, but this fact makes my resume go down the list very fast. Because interviewers don't have time to lose and thousands of candidates to check I'm sure they will find very useful the use of technology on getting those good prospects in front of everyone else.

Something I've seen many times at my past jobs is having good technical applicants, some of them are even referred by one team member and are turned down later because culture. I don't know why but engineers and technical people are more likely to fail at those than others. The surprising thing is that they check culture as the last step because those who can run those type of interview are a few and can't become full-time culture keepers. This is an enormous waste of time and resources for the applicant, the interviewers and the company itself.

9
dadrian 19 hours ago 0 replies      
>Suddenly, a significant percentage of the people who had spoken well about impressive-sounding projects failed, in some cases spectacularly, when given relatively simple programming tasks.

This indicates to me that either the "simple programming tasks" are not well-designed, or the the discussion about the past projects was not long enough. It still sounds like this interview process is only identifying candidates who are good at coding while someone is watching over their shoulder.

However, what I find to be the bigger issue with this article is that "success" is considered to be "passed the interview". Ultimately, all this article tells us are what currently correlates with qualities Triplebyte likes to see in candidates, not what correlates with good hires. To be fair, they do mention this at the end of the article.

10
mwfunk 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Preamble: not middlebrow dismissal, I really like what they're doing here and will pay attention to them going forward. This is just picking a nit that my hypersensitive self just can't resist:

"Fizz buzz style coding problems are less predictive of ability to do well in a programming interview"

I'm sure this is 100% true, but I thought the point of fizzbuzz-type problems were to weed out people who couldn't program at all? It's not to identify good programmers or even competent ones, it's to identify blatantly incompetent ones, which are surprisingly common even when hiring in SV.

I've never personally asked fizzbuzz when interviewing because my company's hiring process seems to do well enough to not require it. However, based on what I read here it's also very good for filtering out narcissistic divas (i.e., the occasional HN posters who pop a monocle when they get asked fizzbuzz: "how dare someone ask a dumb question that is beneath me?!? Needless to say, I walked out of the interview immediately! Harrumph!").

Maybe Triplebyte's article is using the term "fizzbuzz-type problem" to refer to any contrived programming problem, but in common usage fizzbuzz-type problems are bozo filters that serve no higher purpose than filtering out bozos.

11
wheaties 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The skill of the interviewer in interviewing candidates should correlate just as strongly with everything else. How are you capturing that? I ask because our #1 determinant after an at home code sample is the #3 thing you find are not predictive.

Are they asking critical questions on what decisions and trade-offs were made? Their past projects, can they explain well the reasoning for choice of tools used? Can they talk about what types of improvements they wanted to see in the pipeline process of build-test-deploy?

I'm just surprised that this question is singled out as "poor."

12
Naomarik 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I got a phone interview with Harj and wasn't considered for anything further.

I'm not sure what kind of hackers they were looking for, but I've been directly involved with creating the infrastructure used in marketing campaigns with the likes of CNN, McDonalds, Infiniti, and more. I've turned an idea into a company with 8 full time employees and have investors seriously interested in one of my side projects. I'm currently involved with leading a project that integrates with a large bank.

I'm a full stack ruby dev learning clojure in my spare time and heavily involved with self improvement. Anyone who watches me for a moment can see that I can solve problems very quickly. I didn't care much about being selected, I have a solid job and offers coming in.

Would anyone who got selected by Triplebyte care to list their credentials/achievements? My main motivation was to see how I compare against others at my current level.

13
choppaface 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I've done over 1000 interviews and my experience agrees with their findings that talking about a project is not a good predictor of coding. I usually left detailed resume questions for the end since so many candidates would bomb the coding part of the interview.

I'm surprised they didn't get stronger results from fizz buzz, but I noticed among the candidates I saw that the percentage of 'non-coders' is substantial but not a majority.

One thing missing from this investigation is a measure of solution quality. A good portion of candidates who actually finished coding questions with me ended without thoroughly understanding how their code worked and/or had code that would be hard to maintain. Other candidates would write top-notch code but were unable to explain their thought process to some extent. These are critical pieces to the interview that contribute much more 'color' than 'score' and are important to note.

14
majormajor 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like they're only evaluating phone screen methods against their pre-designed coding interview problem? But what if there are issues with that problem?

There seems to be a big assumption that "our programming questions are going to be good and predictive, even if everyone else's are bad." What if being able to describe in-depth a past (real) project correlates just as well (or better) to on-the-job performance as being able to design and code one of their artificial ones? Or what if those artificial ones just don't correlate that well with on-the-job performance in the first place?

It is definitely harder to BS-detect/grade, though.

They want to re-run against actual job performance in the future, that's nice, but it seems like they're throwing ideas out awfully early, then.

15
dikaiosune 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat idea, especially for someone like me who's trying to get out of support and into development.

From Triplebytes' FAQ:

"When do I meet companies?

If we decided to work together after giving you feedback post our technical interviews, we'll start introducing you to the companies and guiding you through their hiring process."

So, just to be clear, first you quiz/screenshare/interview with Triplebyte, and then you still have to go through each company's search process? Or do companies partner with Triplebyte to fast-track candidates who've already been vetted?

16
m3mnoch 17 hours ago 2 replies      
while this process feels like it's hitting the sweet spot for finding out who can write brilliant code, that's half or less of the battle in hiring people. personally (and as a hiring manager), i feel like a majority of the hiring process is dependent (obviously) on the environment you're hiring into.

hiring for that small startup? you'll want multi-hat wearing people first, brilliant programmers second.

hiring for a large enterprise team? you'll want to hire for "plays well with others" first, and brilliant programmers second.

that's not to say you should hire schleps, for sure. they should at least be competent programmers. i guess what i'm saying is (despite how it sounds), hiring someone who can program brilliantly is important, but not as important as hiring someone who can navigate your company's software-making requirements successfully.

firing the brilliant engineer who thinks he's more talented than everyone else in the small company so he keeps demanding to be put in charge? yup, that's a thing. firing the brilliant engineer who fights tooth-and-nail over some inconsequential feature the product team wants to change? that's a thing too. assigning a brilliant engineer to crap, meaningless work because no one else on the team wants to work with them? yuppers -- seen it.

in any organization, you are either the only one in charge or you're following someone else's orders -- both of which require different aspects around working well with others.

17
jameshart 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Correlation between testing and interviewing success tells you nothing about the correlation between either of them and actual work performance.
18
seajosh 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I personally hate the "take home test" approach to interviewing. I've had multiple such tests that take anywhere from 10-25 hours to complete because simply answering the question isn't enough; you need to give textbook correct answers and your code must be formatted perfectly with the requisite comments and documentation. In short, it's pretty similar to an upper-level college course's final exam; however, in college, you can get a good grade with a few mistakes; in interviewing, you get rejected for a few mistakes. I'm done giving a company 15 hours of my time just to get to a first interview; this is arrogant, condescending, and completely devalues my time.

The reality of hiring is you're going to make mistakes, like every other part of running a business. Even in an extended "interview" such as dating for a potential life partner, people make mistakes so I'm not sure how the hiring process can be quantified to remove said error. The interview process is so excruciating these days I often hate the companies I'm talking with.

While we're at it, the skills requirements listed with jobs today are astounding. My experience is that a company wants to hire a programmer with at least a journeymen's level of expertise in 6-8 skills. If you have 5 and are comfortable you can learn the other 3, you're dead in the water. Let's be honest, the latest Javascript framework isn't that complicated. The latest NoSQL database isn't that hard to learn.

The truly hard parts of joining a new company are learning how projects are managed, getting the political lay of the land, finding a sherpa to answer your questions in the first couple of weeks, and learning where you fit within the organization.

19
kriro 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I glanced over it but who did the candidates interview for? Were those just simulated interviews or are they working with companies that actually hire people?Or are they hiring for themselves?I'm very confused by what "success" means. The last paragraph indicates that it wasn't actually used for a hiring process? I see a commenter on their site has the exact same reaction.

Either way I applaud every afford to improve the hiring process. However I'm a tad bit skeptical. They should release the dataset (unless I missed it) because it's pretty convenient that the results seem to indicate that hiring can be improved by a quiz which they could build and sell.

I'd be interested in the following screening filter:Have a programmer at the company read through the projects the candidates supplied (as a replacement to "read CV") and then come to a conclusion of yes/no.No projects = no job offer by default. You can always think of a different approach for people with no projects if you feel like you should hire from that group.Possibly have multiple programmers read the code and discuss it.

20
hueving 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait, how is this telling us anything? They don't seem to be predicting what determines the best candidate by looking at how he/she performed on the job. All this is doing is predicting how well they will do in a different part of the interview. Am I wrong?
21
tokenadult 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The blog post kindly shared here reports on a startup's experiments with offering a new kind of hiring screening service. "We launched Triplebyte one month ago, with the goal of improving the way programmers are hired. . . . Well, a little over a month has now passed. In the last 30 days, we've done 300 interviews. We've started to put our ideas into practice, to see what works and what doesn't, and to iterate on our process." They are currently validating what they are doing on the first steps just against what happens at the later steps in their process: "For now, we're evaluating all of our experiments against our final round interview decisions. This does create some danger of circular reasoning (perhaps we're just carefully describing our own biases)."

I agree with the blog post author that current hiring processes mostly show that "too many companies are content to do what they've always done." And the idea of a standardized, automated quiz of programming knowledge sounds interesting. But what has to happen next is to an actual validation study and find out if programmers hired by this process do better as programmers in actual workplaces than programmers hired by some other process.

Regular readers of HN are aware that I have a FAQ post about this topic of company hiring procedures.[1] Company hiring procedures are the research focus of industrial and organizational psychologists, who have almost a century of research to look back on with long-term, large n studies to provide data on what works and what doesn't work for hiring capable workers. It's a shame that most company human resource departments ignore basically all of that research.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4613543

22
etrautmann 18 hours ago 1 reply      
"The really exciting point comes when we can re-run all this analysis, basing it on actual job performance, rather than interview results"

I'm not sure how this gets around the circularity arguments though, since you never get to evaluate the job performance of someone you selected out already. Only the tiny fraction of coders that make it past the initial test get evaluated, which could serve to reinforce the potential biases rather than ameliorate them.

The one case in which this would work is if they hired a number of coders that didn't work out well, and could add or update a feature as a negative predictor of job success.

I'm assuming that they're not at the scale of a larger company with thousands of engineers, and that the observations going into a regression model are relatively sparse. If this is a startup with a 20 hires, I'd be surprised if there was much to do to refine the model after a round or two of evaluations, but would be excited to learn otherwise.

23
bjt 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It's very nice to see hiring advice based on data rather than anecdotes. But I wonder if the process described in the article is pre-selecting for people who are out of work and desperate, rather than currently employed and casually looking for something better.

From the article:> Our process has four steps:

> 1. Online technical screen.

> 2. 15-minute phone call discussing a technical project.

> 3. 45-minute screen share interview where the candidate writes code.

> 4. 2-hour screen share where they do a larger coding project.

Then later:

> ...we can't afford to send people we're unsure about to companies

Does every applicant in this system really have to go through four rounds of screening before even talking to someone who works at the actual company? I can't imagine doing that unless I was desperate.

24
michaelvkpdx 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Most of the problems of coding interviews can be solved by good reference checking. Code problems in isolation will never expose how a developer will do when faced with real-world issues, users, QA, and teammates.

Why are people so afraid to pick up the phone and talk to references? I'm always happy to give out my references, and always delighted to talk about the good devs I've worked with, with specifics about what they've done.

Standardized tests don't work for schools and don't work for jobs.

25
phkahler 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The chart is kind of dumb IMHO. It's nice that they show correlation between different factors and their final hiring decisions, that doesn't indicate the actual quality of the people hired. All it does is reveal an unwritten formula behind their hiring decisions. In other words, the time to complete a programming task is being ignored in their decision process and so should be removed from the process. That's independent of how well it indicates a good candidate. Or am I missing something?
26
senorprogrammer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Where I work, we ask candidates to do a take-home task after they've passed the first in-person interview. The take-home task is trivial, something most developers with a few years experience should be able to knock out in less than an hour. All components of it are easily googleable.

The advantage is that we're building a corpus of solutions to the same problem that we can compare against each other, which is interesting. More importantly, we're building a corpus of solutions that we can then pick from to have the candidate analyze in-person, and talk us through what they see, what they'd do differently, what they like/don't like, etc.

In short, we familiarize them with the problem via their own answer, and then ask them to analyze someone else's (anonymized) answer. Our sample set so far is too small to draw definitive conclusions from, but it feels better than our old ways of doing things.

27
blue11 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I found the article very interesting, but it seems to me that the metrics are the wrong ones. You cannot treat hire and no hire outcomes equally. Let's not forget that the goal of the interview process is to actually hire people. A successful hire is worth millions, a correct no-hire decision is just avoiding further losses of time and money. On the other hand, in terms of efficiency, a candidate that wasn't rejected early is the most expensive error. Well, not as expensive as actually hiring the wrong person, but it usually takes months to figure that out. Whereas the fact that a whole man-day was spent interviewing the wrong person on site becomes obvious in a few hours.

Here are the important metrics in my opinion, in order of decreasing importance:

- How many people were hired? Or what percentage of positions were filled? How long does it take to fill a position? Nothing in the article mentioned how many people were actually hired.

- False positives (people making it to the most expensive stage of the interview, typically a day-long on site interview, and being rejected there). What percentage of people that went to on site interviews got offers? Personally, I have always advocated processes that eliminate as many false positives as possible, even if it comes at the cost of some false negatives. Of course, you have to be careful not to filter out people too aggressively, because then you're just not going to hire anyone.

- False negatives (incorrectly rejecting good candidates early). By definition that's impossible to measure exactly. However, if you are not hiring fast enough, then maybe you have a problem with your screening process. At this point you could do an experiment and relax the screening process for half of the candidates and see what happens. But it could be just a sourcing problem, that is, you are not getting good candidates in the pipeline to begin with. It's very hard to tell whether you are being too harsh and not believing enough in people's abilities (or not willing to develop talent), or you are just not attractive to the kind of people that you want to hire.

Of course, all of the above is from the employer's point of view. If you are also trying to provide job seekers with a good service, then you can devise other metrics for success and for efficiency from their perspective.

(edited for formatting)

28
lackbeard 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Most candidates can speak well about interesting projects they'd worked on in the past, but a significant percentage of those can't pass a coding test.

Also, not being able to speak well about a past project is highly correlated with doing well on a coding test.

Sounds like one or the other should be thrown out. (Or maybe only the small percentage who do well on both will go on to do well on the job?)

29
dj_doh 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've had mixed reaction to this take home exercise. I've done that some 4 times and 3 of them resulted in getting called in for an onsite (Amazon). If problem is interesting and there's something to learn. I tend to go for it. But couple of them were lame. Neither it was a good use of my time, nor it was an indicative of my skills.

In near future, I'll be requesting exercises that can be treated and used as a micro library. They are free to use it and I get to post it on github.

30
fillskills 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There are different kinds of jobs and different kinds of work environments. Grouping all of the situations together and trying to find just a single way of interviewing people flies in face of diversity in human nature. While this research is great and startups in this field are doing well, I see this huge gap that no one so far is trying to address.
31
abalone 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a noble project but I'm concerned that it may not be a methodologically valid blind study.

Specifically, in order to be a blind study of the relationship between the screening exam and technical interview performance, the technical interviewers should not know the results of the screening exam before they make their decision. While they do not state this clearly, it seems possible that since the same 2 people were conducting all steps themselves, that they were not properly blinded.

Thus we cannot rule out confirmation bias in the interviewers themselves, i.e. that they were impressed by good performance on the programming quiz, not that it was an independent predictor of good performance in the technical interview.

Now, maybe one person did the screening and the other did the technical interview with no information sharing in every case, but this would need to be clarified.

32
gwbas1c 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Many fields require serious professional certification. You can't become a doctor unless you go through a board certification that includes simulated patient interaction. Likewise, you can't build a bridge or a dam without engineering certification.

IMO, this article demonstrates the need to certify software engineers; using a process similar to the interviewing process described. Therefore, when hiring, we can skip most of the "do you know how to code" and get down to cultural fit and mutual interest.

33
kenferry 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is interesting, but are they using "performance on a sample coding task" as the truth? If we knew that was a good proxy for being a good hire, we'd already be done.
35
avodonosov 18 hours ago 0 replies      
> The really exciting point comes when we can re-run all this analysis, basing it on actual job performance, rather than interview results.

Yes, this is when you have something real.

36
xamuel 19 hours ago 0 replies      
>Suddenly, a significant percentage of the people who had spoken well about impressive-sounding projects failed, in some cases spectacularly, when given relatively simple programming tasks.

I feel like this should be listed among the least surprising things in the world. Being a good programmer is about MAKING that hard project look easy, by approaching it in the correct way!

37
ccleve 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd really like to see how references correlate with the other factors. Did they not call references?
38
estomagordo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Great. So where can I do this quiz and these small programming tests? :)
39
BrandonY 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I should apologize to Triplebyte in the name of those of us, including me, who immediately created fake profiles and took the test just to see if we would do well against this new rubric.
40
brobdingnagian 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I interviewed with TripleByte and it was different from a normal job interview in some ways, but fundamentally also the same. There is just no culture fit aspect to the interview. Keep in mind that they are not addressing the problem that coding interviews do not predict on-the-job success. They are basically addressing the needs of a broken system.
41
apexkid 19 hours ago 0 replies      
OPEN LETTER================

Hi, I had a reading of the conclusions you made and I felt as if you defined a process of hiring machines to code rather than humans. So I took a few moments to read your manifesto(https://triplebyte.com/manifesto) (the premise on which your entire conclusion is made), and here is my take on it.

1. /"Whiteboard coding and algorithm questions aren't good predictors of how effective someone will be at writing real code."Whiteboard coding show how someone really thinks. It illustrates the though process of the person and that helps the interviewer to judge him on his rational thinking and his logical approaches. Algorithms add to this by illustrating the problem solving ability. A person may not be able to solve an Algorithm actually, but the attempt on a whiteboards speaks more than his implementation on a online platform.

2./ "Candidates deserve a consistent experience and consistent evaluation".The entire USP of an interview is the diversity which allows the interviewer to judge if someone is able to adapt to new situations and come out of his comfort zone. What you are suggesting is to change the interview process into a GRE exam which will only in-turn develop the culture among developers to prepare for that exam for 2 years.

3./"Hiring decisions should be made using a clear scoring system, not gut feelings"Most of the companies have a 3round or 4 round interview process. It is obvious enough to remove the gut feeling factor. If you wanna argue that it may be possible that a candidate got selected based on the gut feeling of all 4 interviewers then my counter argument is that he is worth being selected if he could generate that gut feeling in so many people.

4./"The hiring process should be focused on discovering strengths, not uncovering weaknesses"Agree to the point. However, the irony is that you are trying to define a particular process to hiring. I wonder if it could actually perform the "discovery" part.

5./"Candidates should be told exactly what to expect in an interview, and be allowed to prepare in advance. "So basically you want to hire the guy who has studied the most over the smartest guy in the room. From my experience, I can surely say if companies like "Google" and "Fb" used to follow that practice, I wouldn't be even writing their name here.

6./"truthful feedback on how they did so they know how they can improve"Agreed. Something that should be adapted by all companies in their recruiting process.

7./"Good programmers come from all types of background." You enforce my point with this statement. Good programmers need not be just people who could quickly write a program for a search in a large of data using hash maps but can also be people who have brilliant problem solving ability and are slow in transforming that into code, or people who are amazing in thinking software design and scalability and probably cannot remember code syntax so well. A company needs a good blend of all these people. Then only a good ecosystem to growth is created rather than just making a team of 10 machines who could transform a pseudo code into Java in 10 minutes.

8./" The software industry needs to experiment more with hiring processes and figure out what really works."I think many are already doing that by doing Tech Hackathons, online challenges, weekend projects, open source contribution references etc.So, not something new which you guys figured out.

9./"Candidates are at a fundamental disadvantage in salary and equity negotiations"Not sure what kind of companies you have surveyed. I think most well known companies maintain clear standards of salary and compensation plan. Though people will surely be flattered reading this. :)

10./"Companies should not have to make recruiting a core competency"Now you are just trying to open the market for yourself by yourself. No comments. :P

Would love to hear your counter arguments. Mail me. :-)

42
haversine 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Gosh I hope they are controlling for time-of-day, day-of-week, and weather considering how closely packed together those 300 interviews were.
43
jqm 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"suddenly, a significant percentage of the people who had spoken well about impressive-sounding projects failed, in some cases spectacularly, when given relatively simple programming tasks."

Unsurprising. Turns out talk really is cheap and doesn't indicate one can do. I've even seen people able to maintain jobs over a period of years by talk alone without ever really doing much. Or even being able to do much.

44
michaelvkpdx 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Without any demographic data about who the interviewees were, this is basically useless. Are they all under 30, white and Asian men? Where?
Samsung disabling Windows Update? bsodanalysis.blogspot.com
297 points by firloop  11 hours ago   123 comments top 25
1
pja 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is about as end-user hostile as the Lenovo Superfish thing. By the sounds of things, Samsung has managed to ship some of their laptops with devices that fail with the standard windows devices drivers, but dont have their own pci-id which would allow Samsung to ship a custom driver. Samsungs solution to this is not to issue a hardware recall & replace the laptops, but to expose their customers private personal information to every future malware author on the planet.

In some ways, this is worse than Superfish. Superfish was at least not deliberate; it seems pretty clear that Lenovo really didnt understand the full implications of what they were doing by installing it on their laptops. Theres no way that Samsung doesnt understand that by disabling Windows Update they are trading off their customers security against the cost of a hardware recall.

(It wouldnt surprise me to discover that Microsoft actually has ways of blacklisting driver updates under Windows Update & will liaise with OEMs to help them sort out problems like this - it wouldnt be that hard to maintain a list of 'if the hardware looks like this then install that driver instead of the standard one'. In which case Samsung is simply trading off a bit of management time against their customers security which is even more unacceptable.)

2
UnoriginalGuy 11 hours ago 3 replies      
If this is true (and frankly I know for a fact it is, as I just downloaded the linked file containing Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, which is signed by Samsung Electronics CO and downloaded from Samsung's own servers) then Microsoft should pick up the phone and threaten the heck out of Samsung, Microsoft while somewhat neutered by anti-trust still has a great deal of power over OEMs and stuff like this is a perfect time to [ab]use it.
3
vcarl 11 hours ago 3 replies      
> When you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware no laptop which may or may not work. For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates.

So they "fixed" the problem of their driver getting overwritten by disabling all OS level updates? Oof. Screams shoddy development if this is true.

4
nivla 10 hours ago 6 replies      
I don't understand, why is Samsung pulling stunts like this all the time? It would make sense if they were trying to get up the ladder but they are already there, they hold an unquestionably large market share of Android. Things like these won't do any good in the long run but only prompt consumers to actively avoid the brand.

Some of the things that really surprises me:

[1] http://gizmodo.com/samsung-rigged-the-s4-to-unnaturally-perf...

[2] http://www.neowin.net/news/samsungs-gamepad-is-a-microsoft-l...

[3] http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/09/technology/security/samsung-...

5
userbinator 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Samsung provides their own updating software? I'm not surprised... consumer hardware and the drivers associated with them is in general a horrible mess of workarounds and I feel it's only going to get worse.

For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates.

That's a pretty minor problem compared to what I've heard: automatic BIOS updates, which happen silently and brick the machine without any prior warning.

Ironically it is the "update culture" that brought us this whole mess in the first place; pushing out software (and hardware) that barely works "because we can always update it later", patching around bugs, and then realising that your patches break if someone else changes a piece you depend on, and so forth, thus leading to ultimatum situations like this.

6
vxNsr 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Well this is a truly terrifying turn of events, though the most amazing part is that chat agent was any help at all, I was expecting a recommendation that he call the support line or an outright denial. so samsung can at least be commended for giving their staff at least a little training.
7
bentcorner 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't there a method by which Samsung can deliver to Microsoft the set of drivers required for their hardware, to solve this exact problem?

Is this a matter of Samsung not wanting to go through the WHQL process?

8
ademarre 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm fed up with these hardware vendors incessantly messing with software. Why doesn't Microsoft tighten up its OEM licensing terms to put an end to this kind of thing?
9
lucb1e 8 hours ago 0 replies      
TL;DR: Samsung's software is meant to install device drivers for your laptop. Because there are also drivers in Windows Update that Samsung considers conflicting, they disabled all of Windows Update to prevent those drivers from being installed.
10
Animats 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Normally, you'd expect a major hardware vendor and a major software vendor to be talking enough to avoid such problems.Does this indicate that Microsoft and Samsung are not getting along? That's quite possible, since they compete in tablets now.
11
rossng 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not that surprised. SW Update and Easy Settings are among the two worst pieces of software I've ever used.

If I press the volume keys on my (i7, Ivy Bridge) Samsung laptop, I often have to wait several minutes before anything happens.

Better yet, a clean Windows install on that machine will always fail because for some reason the laptop lets Windows install the bootloader to the mini cache SSD - which the BIOS doesn't recognise.

I'm not going to be buying another Samsung PC.

12
smaili 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Fantastic discovery! Kind of makes me wonder if there are other OEMs doing the same kind of thing and we just never noticed it.
13
jug 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow...

> For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates.

Pretty sure this sentence causes brain damage just by reading it. I hope this receives Microsoft's attention. They take Windows Update very seriously these days and will probably flip over this.

14
Zekio 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Well at least nobody was surprised by this, so that is good right?

Jokes aside, this is ridiculously fucked up.

15
jriordan 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Microsoft owns Windows. Licenses it to OEMs. If Microsoft didn't have a problem with OEM's disabling Windows Update, then then would have prohibited it in their license agreement.
16
darkhorn 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If you install Turkcell's 3G connection app (which comes with the dongle) you will see that it disables internet sharing forever.
17
yrro 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed that you're allowed to do this and still ship with the Windows logo!
18
scrapcode 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course this is ridiculous in the lens of a privacy aware techie. In the lens of a consumer-first corporation such as Samsung, is this possibly the result of "convention over configuration" from the eyes of management demanding this kind of (de)functionality from their devs?

I think we should start focusing on a fundamental shift on what management means and how accountable that position is.

19
galfarragem 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it safe/efficient to uninstall all bloatware from a laptop? I own a Samsung and over the years I've unninstalled the obvious bloatware without any problem. I wonder if I can delete all of them.
20
gruez 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Why couldn't samsung's service just programmatically uninstall the default windows drivers and install their own? Was that too hard compared to just disabling windows update?
21
firloop 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Meta: I submitted this post with the article's title but it seems the mods have changed the title to something less loaded.
22
k2point0 7 hours ago 0 replies      
That's weird thing that I have heard about Samsung Windows Updates.
23
curiousnoob 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't quite understand why this is fucked up. Could someone elaborate? (I'm not doubting that it is fucked up at all. I would just like to understand it)

Is it that the developer of the OS is offering users a free better version and the OEM is preventing its users from benefiting? Why would Samsung do this? What could their incentive be?

24
Mikeb85 10 hours ago 1 reply      
To be fair, Windows generally updates itself at the worst times, rendering your computer inoperable for an absurdly long time (a typical Windows update often takes longer than updating to a completely new version of a typical Linux distro).

OEMs should just throw their weight behind one of the commercial Linuxes and be done with the madness. They want to compete with Apple and OSX, that's their chance.

25
frik 10 hours ago 5 replies      
If Samsung blocks the Windows 10 "important" nagware patch KB 3035583 that installs autimatically on Windows 7-8.1 (except on PC with Domain/AD) than it's a service to the user.

It replaces the Windows Update dialog with an Windows 10 advertisement and it adds a second start button to the startmenu that lauches an advertisement app. If you click the wrong button it will automatically download Windows 10 in the background - Microsoft's way to not repeat the Vista, Win8 and Win8.1 launch fiascos. To each their own, some also like the Ask toolbar that comes with Flash installer.

http://www.infoworld.com/article/2907472/operating-systems/w...

Going undercover as a sex worker aljazeera.com
291 points by simonebrunozzi  2 days ago   213 comments top 17
1
belorn 2 days ago 8 replies      
When reading works like this one I tend to find three stories being merged into one. It focuses on slavery where most of the evil aspects of humans tend to come out, as in order to reduce a human person into something that can be traded, everything that gives that person a social context must be torn down. This is where the "break down" period comes from and it's a common theme in everything from the African slave trade to forced labor camps. Slaves are broken down, displaced, and controlled in order to place them outside the social economics shared by everyone else.

The second story is one about social stigma. We live in a society which views sex trade to be worse than going into a life of crime. From a social standpoint, it means that providing a sexual service in return for money is worse than breaking the law and social order that society is built on.

The third, although one which often is used as an introduction, is one about poverty. In order to get food on the table people will agree to many kinds of dangerous, dirty, and unwanted lines of work. People have entered the death sentence called a coal mine, gone into work which has a life expectancy of months, but in contrast to prostitution those are often viewed as sacrifices rather than something shameful. I suspect this has something to do with gender roles, where a man who is forced by poverty to unwanted work is a hero while a woman doing the same is a victim.

2
tsunamifury 2 days ago 1 reply      
I worked with the author, Mimi, at UC Berkeley and she took enormous risks in the Middle East and Moldovia for the sake of getting her story. Several others did as well including my two collegues who spent two years locked up in Iran after being lured across the border while reporting in Iraq.

Funding for investigative journalism has all but completely dried up, due to disruption for Silicon Valley and other factors. Journalists like this are taking risks on their own now with no backing if something goes wrong.

3
dataker 2 days ago 4 replies      
I live in a country where prostitution is legal and not taken as taboo. All I can say is that it makes things easier for everybody.

Many use their bodies as a "small business", having their own personal marketing, credit card processor and online clients, increasing and improving their portfolio.

Because they have such leverage, they end up being strict on what they'd do and even who their client is. In case something goes wrong, they can still go to the police and report the incident.

4
hedgew 2 days ago 9 replies      
Much like with drugs, the best way to reduce human trafficking and abusive prostitution would be to fully legalize and regulate sex work. In countries where prostitution is accepted and legal, it's safer for both the sex workers and the customers, with less risk of disease and abuse. Sex workers are treated humanely and not condemned. Society in general benefits too, through properly paid taxes, lower crime rates, and reduced healthcare costs.
5
dimitar 2 days ago 1 reply      
What makes me very uncomfortable is that are enough men that not only not care about, but actually enjoy rape to make it a huge market.

This is not something that happens "between two consenting adults". If you read the article you'll see that there is no way in hell that they don't know what they are participating in. In fact many seek out the worst treated girls.

There looks to me that there are more than one type of prostitution and maybe going after a particular type of John is very reasonable.

6
nailer 2 days ago 3 replies      
> 'Going undercover as a sex worker'

This article is about human trafficking, not sex work. The title makes as much sense as 'Going undercover as a construction worker' and then writing about a construction worker kept as a slave in Dubai.

7
s_baby 2 days ago 1 reply      
This has been going on for a thousand years in the region. The Ottoman empire was constantly capturing slaves from the Balkans and East Europe. It was a cornerstone of their civilization. Slavery was abolished in the 19th century but the market just moved underground.
8
bruceb 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is the level of opportunity for these young women (and lets call them women that is what they usually, calling them girls makes them sound like less human and more of a commodity) in the origin countries.

Fighting pimps and such is all good but cut off supply then there is no need to deal with pimps. Are hiring laws enforced in these countries?

9
cryodesign 2 days ago 1 reply      
I can't really fully comprehend this. Did she actually work as a sex worker and exposed herself to all sort of STDs? And not only that - having to deal with all sorts of nasty people... what a brave woman.
10
conanbatt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Problems like this one, and other that rank as high in crimes against humanity, make me wish we had a global citizenship and effort, that everyone should have the right for safe passage into any place in the world.

Global rights of free passage would be a goal for all people under extreme opression and ilegality, from North Korea, ISIS, slavery, sex trafficking, people trafficking. If people could leave where they are and go somewhere: maybe not everywhere, but somewhere. A place they know they can go to.

Maybe someday.

11
sleepyhead 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to read more about modern day slavery, human trafficking and sex workers, I highly recommend "A Crime So Monstrous" by Benjamin Skinner.

http://acrimesomonstrous.com

12
netcan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the whole thing is very difficult to deal with while it is all criminalized and taboo, in the dark and so shameful. "It" can mean sex in general, not just prostitution.

I heard recently that prostitution in "the west" has gone off a cliff over the last few generations. Recreational sex, including homosexuality and other stigmatized tastes became a more normal part of our culture and demand for prostitution declined. We stopped demonizing extramarital sex (or women, really) and the "problem" got a lot smaller. Thousands of years and thousands of cultures and god-knows how many gods worth of banning, ostracizing, preaching and tut-tutting about prostitution or promiscuity and the one thing that actually made a dent makes a difference is getting sluttier as a culture.

I think this is a metaphor for (or a specific instance of) a bigger principle.

an example

I was at university when grameen bank won a nobel prize for micro-lending. This was around the same time many governments and regulators (in a bunch of places) were trying to pressure out "predatory lending practices." Normal banks got out of the high risk, small loan business. They had a reputation to maintain and $400 loans to the broke and unemployed is not particularly lucrative anyway.

The market was left to "payday loan" shops who tended to be a lot shadier. Then the financial crisis happened and business boomed. If payday loan shops get banned (as some want), the market will almost certainly be reborn as loan sharking, a traditionally criminal trade. The deeper the taboos & bans, the worse it will get. The actual thing won't go away though. Taboos, laws or fiery political rhetoric can't make it go away. The harder these things squeeze, the worse it will get. Terry Pratchett would have been the person to describe but alas

This is all quite ironic considering that a nobel prize was won by a bank basically doing payday loans, but with a totally different attitude. Ironic, but informative. Grameen bank has high interest rate and uses social pressure tactics to improve repayment rates, practices considered unethical in the larger financial world. Practices shared with others in this "sector" of small high risk loans to the people no "real" lender would bother with. The practices seem to be part and parcel of the market.

But, Grameen bank is not like loan sharks or payday loan shops at all, culturally. Their impact on their customers and their relationship with them (and society) is far more positive. So is their impact. They won the nobel peace prize.! The people working at grameen bank think and act completely different than the culture of the payday loan industry. Perception matters. It shapes the thing. The perception of the employees, society, etc. are all interlinked.

Criminalize an industry and it becomes more criminal (with violence, abuse and all the other things that go with criminality). Label someone a pariah and they will act like one.

Banning, or even stigmatizing payday loans doesn't make the industry go away, it just makes it uglier. Give it a nobel peace prize, and they become humanitarians. I'm simplifying, I know. But, I think this is a decent low resolution description of the concept.

It works the same way with drugs. Same with prostitution. The public perception of prostitutes, johns, madams and pimps. The taboos and laws, the disdain and ostracization. I think these things are a big part of why it is all so dark. Society tells us that it's dark. That might keep some people away, but if it doesn't The johns walk into it knowing they are doing something bad and act like it. The pimps act like pimps with the characteristic dehumanization of prostitutes and the prostitutes, knowing that they are the lowest of the low.. they act like it. Suicide, depression, drug abuse and general self abuse and self hate.

13
jensen123 2 days ago 1 reply      
You might want to google "rescue industry".
14
daymanstep 2 days ago 2 replies      
>I could elaborate

Please do.

15
dang 1 day ago 3 replies      
There were two good things about this bigoted comment and the nasty subthread it set off: one was that it fell straight to the bottom of the page, and the other was the good HN users aroundwho made it clear, via flagging and calm replies, that HN is not the place for this.

A third good thing is that, for such difficult and intense subject matter, the rest of the discussion on the page managed to be substantive and civil.

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mmrasheed 1 day ago 1 reply      
It is not only the imbalanced lust of few men that this horrible ecosystem is built around, the whole social structure is equally responsible for its existence and growth. Lack of strong social bond, lack of respect to the existence of other humans, lack of proper education on ethics and humanity, hypocrisy in the name of freedom, idea of living in the moments, greed etc are the reasons behind the existence of prostitution, pornography, and other sex related abuses. No government in the world can end this until the society acts as a whole to reject it. Perhaps the effective starting point to minimize it is to avoid double standards.

"O faithful! Why do you say one thing and do another? It is most hateful to God that you do not practise what you preach" (61: 2-3) -- the holy Quran

Don't do unto others what you don't want others to do unto you. -- Confucius

(Couldn't Quote from the Bible for the lack of knowledge in it.)

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rbanffy 2 days ago 0 replies      
> I was given an award for courage at the Lincoln Center in New York. I said they should have given me an award for anger instead. There is nothing courageous about what I've done.

That is courage. Not being afraid of dangerous things is not courage: it's stupidity.

The Unix Philosophy and Elixir as an Alternative to Go lebo.io
298 points by aaron-lebo  1 day ago   130 comments top 20
1
vezzy-fnord 1 day ago 6 replies      
Erlang (and by extension Elixir) are good languages for web development, I agree. Frameworks like Nitrogen and N2O even let you do frontend work directly from base Erlang constructs like records and functions to represent templates and JS callbacks, respectively.

However, they will not replace Go for a rather simple reason. Erlang is an application runtime first and a language second. It's not meant to play with the native OS all that well, instead relying on its own scheduling, semantics, process constructs and the OTP framework. It exports a minimum set of OS libs for things like file system interaction, but you wouldn't write a Unix subsystem daemon in it. Though, you certainly can - if you want to hack with NIFs, port drivers and C nodes. But then you put the global VM state at risk if some native caller blows up.

For this reason, Go will remain a dominant choice for infrastructure and systems programmers. It definitely is replacing C/C++ for lots of things above kernel space, contrary to your statement.

I'd honestly dispute the characterization that Elixir is a small language. Erlang is easier to fit into your head, not least of which is because of how essential pattern matching on tuples and lists is. It's a consistent and homoiconic design, more warty constructs like records aside.

Finally, Erlang/Elixir aren't Unix-y at all. Don't get me wrong, BEAM is a wonderful piece of engineering. But it's very well known for being opinionated and not interacting with the host environment well. This reflects its embedded heritage. For example, the Erlang VM has its own global signal handlers, which means processes themselves can't handle signals locally unless they talk to an external port driver.

2
aikah 1 day ago 1 reply      
> That being said, have you tried writing a web app in Go? You can do it, but it isn't exactly entertaining. All those nice form-handling libraries you are used to in Python and Ruby? Yeah, they aren't nearly as good. You can try writing some validation functions for different form inputs, but you'll probably run into limitations with the type system and find there are certain things you cannot express in the same way you could with the languages you came from. Database handling gets more verbose, models get very ugly with tags for JSON, databases, and whatever else. It isn't an ideal situation. I'm ready to embrace simplicity, but writing web apps is already pretty menial work, Go only exacerbates that with so many simple tasks.

This.

And don't even try to work around these limitations and share your work for free, or you're going to get trashed by the Go community( i.e. the Martini fiasco )

But think of go more as a blueprint. Go has great ideas(CSP,go routines,...)

Hopefully it can inspire a new wave of languages that don't rely on a VM, that are statically typed and safe without a fucked up syntax.

The language that succeeds in striking the right balance between minimalism and features with an excellent support for concurrency will be the next big thing.

3
odiroot 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Somewhere, however, that has been extrapolated to the idea that Go is a good language for writing web apps. I don't believe that's the case.

I have always had this feeling and thought why isn't more people speaking up about that.

For me it's a good improvement from C++ (and maybe C as well), somehow well-suited for systems programming.

I never understood how people can claim it to be natural "upgrade" from Python or Ruby. I have a feeling the opposite is actually the case. This of course is all in the web-development context, not in general one.

4
prasoon2211 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am utterly baffled by people who use the phrase "The Unix Philosophy" for justifying a piece of software but don't understand that Unix philosophy is in the context of software that can be composed together. That is why the other tenet of the Unix philosophy is to use text streams for all I/O.
5
jordan0day 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think Elixir and Go solve different problems -- but for the problem space the author mentions here, web services, Elixir is clearly superior.
6
oldpond 1 day ago 2 replies      
Thanks for that interesting viewpoint. I have also done the same survey, and I agree. I did a ChicagoBoss PoC last year, and Elixir and Phoenix are my goto for the next one.

It should also be noted that both are young languages and they are evolving rapidly. This makes them even more exciting to me. Also, I think Go's sweet spot may be a new approach to client/server i.e. applications that work across the network. This is quite different than the browser/app server model. Elixir has similar plumbing that fit this model as well, but what really excites me about Elixir and Phoenix is the ability to build a restful MVC application that can take advantage of Erlang/OTP's scalability.

7
andyl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Elixir and Phoenix are great for web-apps, REST API's and the like. Phoenix channels make real-time push super simple and scalable.
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jtwebman 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have been using Elixir for a while now! I'll never go back to Go or Node.js by choice.
9
applecore 1 day ago 1 reply      
> However, as we more and more turn servers into REST APIs that are supposed to deliver JSON to numerous clients, for many it is time to find an alternative.

Perhaps the alternative isn't more REST APIs that deliver JSON; given its inherent problems, it's more likely we'll be using a challenger to that entire model, like GraphQL.

https://facebook.github.io/react/blog/2015/05/01/graphql-int...

10
fiatjaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Code samples side-by-side comparison: http://rosetta.alhur.es/compare/go/elixir/#
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vinceguidry 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just keep using Ruby or, if you must, Node. Rails 5 is going to fit those use cases just fine. Web programming is entirely too complicated to roll your own stack unless you absolutely need to.
12
swagmeister 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Finally, JavaScript handles the modern web well, but it isn't perfect. If a request does something that is especially CPU-heavy, every single user of your application will be waiting.

One thing you might want to take into account is that ES2015 generators allow you to write long, blocking functions as generators that partially compute the result before deferring further computation to somewhere further along in the message queue. This allows you to spread out blocking computations so that you can still serve requests.

13
dschiptsov 1 day ago 6 replies      
Erlang is well-researched, pragmatical language (read the Armstrong Thesis at last) this is why it is "great". User-level runtime, which is trying to do kernel's job is a problem, but relying on message-passing and being mostly-functional it, at least, have no threading/locking problems - so it scales. Nothing much to talk about.

Go is also well-researched language with emphasis on keeping it simple and being good-enough and doing it right way (utf8 vs. other encodings) - a philosophy from Plan 9. Go has in it a lot of fine ideas, attention to details and good-enough minimalism - the basis for success. It is also pragmatic - that is why it is imperative and "simply" static-typed.

Criticism about lack of generics or is not essential, especially considering that generics in a static typed language is an awkward mess. Complexity of its user-space runtime is a problem, of course, but runtime is hard, especially when it is not mostly-functional.

Go is in some sense "back to the basics/essentials" approach, not just in programming but also in running the code, and even this is enough to be successful.

BTW, its syntactic clumsiness and shortcomings (hipsters are blogging about) came from being statically typed, just admit it. On the other side, being C-like and already having C-to-Go translators opens up the road to static-analyzing and other tools.

Go is the product of old-school (Bell labs) minds (like Smalltalk or Lisps) not of bunch of punks.)

14
georgeg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel that this discussion would be incomplete without mentioning D-lang (http://dlang.org) and the vibed framework (http://vibed.org) as alternatives to the technology platforms that the author mentioned.
15
bsaul 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about deployment ? How does it compare to "scp and i'm done" like in go ?

Also what about memory usage ? My latest go service was a 4 mo file with one single json config file. It consumed less than 4 mo in RAM, which let me deploy it on a base 500Mo instance with plenty of memory to spare.

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stefantalpalaru 1 day ago 2 replies      
Surprisingly favorable benchmark: https://github.com/mroth/phoenix-showdown

and related HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8672234

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4ydx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Models get ugly with tags? You don't have to have them unless the names are different.

This post is all about familiarity and the degree to which you are interested in using a language (just like every other post of its kind).

18
joshbuddy 1 day ago 1 reply      
Web workers are real concurrency and afaik, there is no GIL that spans across the main thread and the worker threads in any of the browser implementations of web workers.
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jbverschoor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Important to note is that Elixir is created y Jose Valim from plataformatec. An important person and company in the Ruby community
20
EdwardDiego 1 day ago 2 replies      
> We've known for years that Ruby and Python are slow, but we were willing to put up with that. However, as we more and more turn servers into REST APIs that are supposed to deliver JSON to numerous clients, for many it is time to find an alternative.

> You see a lot of competitors trying to fill this void. Some people are crazy enough to use Rust or Nim or Haskell for this work, and you see some interest in JVM based languages like Scala or Clojure (because the JVM actually handles threading exceptionally well), but by and far the languages you both hear discussed and derided the most are JavaScript via node and Go.

Meanwhile the Java programmers just keep on delivering with Jersey, Spring, Restlet etc. etc. so forth. Less blogging, more doing.

Just Wear Headphones mattblodgett.com
275 points by strangetimes  2 days ago   203 comments top 49
1
darylteo 2 days ago 6 replies      
The "being watched" feeling is the big one for me. I don't mind wearing headphones because I love listening to music and I don't listen to it that loudly, but the sensation of feeling someone's eyes on you (to catch you on the split second you've refreshed reddit or facebook or something) is incredibly profound on the time it takes to zone into zen mode.

Anecdotally funnily enough, the opposite seems to happen for me when I am pair programming: each person keeps the other in focus, but obviously this only works when both people have the same objective. Not really related to "open office" issue, but thought it was relevant.

Or maybe I'm just a filthy procrastinator...

2
chrisbennet 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure that employers that have open plan offices are actually "clueless". It apparently works well enough that they don't mind the productively hit. I think it is easier for developers to believe that their employers are clueless than to believe the truth - that they've weighed that costs and decided that disrespecting developers is worth the cost savings.

The open plan office sends the message: "To us, you're not a thinker [we have management for that!], you're just an expensive typist." The exception to that would be an startup that is forthright about needing the cost savings and doesn't try to sell this lack of respect as a "feature" (ease of collaboration!).

3
gcv 2 days ago 1 reply      
The rules of thumb about "60% of maximum volume for 60 minutes" and "if you can't hear your surroundings, it's too loud" are nonsense. Dangerous volume settings depend on a headphone's sensitivity, the output device power, the headphone's isolation ability, and the recording. These parameters vary. Wildly.

A well-fitting isolating IEM can slice off 25dB of noise, more than enough to (mostly) eliminate background conversation noise at any location short of a hip restaurant. These IEMs tend to be so sensitive that they become earsplitting at a tiny fraction of the maximum output volume, way less than 60%.

Learn approximate dB levels of various sounds, compare various noise with a meter (even an uncalibrated app will give you a ballpark idea of what you're dealing with), and listen to music at an average 65dB or less (this will obviously vary with dynamic range of your music; occasional 80-85dB peaks won't kill your hearing).

One trip to a dance club or rock concert without earplugs (100-110dB on average in my experience, 120+ has been known to happen) will do more hearing damage in a few minutes than a lot of headphone listening while working. I'm pretty sure the busy street near my home routinely hits a 90dB average at rush hour, solidly in the danger zone compared to reasonable headphone use.

Edit: To learn more, read the following:

- http://www.rane.com/pdf/old/note100.pdf

- http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/09/more-power.html

4
hoggle 2 days ago 3 replies      
At age 32 my hearing is apparently at the level of a 66 year old. I'm not much of a concert attender nor drug user so the only real explanation the doctor could give for my disappointing audiogram was my habit of regularly working with headphones on (I always took care of moderate volume, mind you).

I wasn't expecting this result at all, I actually thought my hearing was perfect but hearing loss starts at the highest frequencies and continues to the lower frequencies exponentially. The route towards "Sorry, what did you say?" doesn't take as long as you might suspect.

5
geebee 1 day ago 3 replies      
Is it time to get depressed yet? This has been a topic for such a long time. It was in people ware in 1987. I thought I discovered the topic when Joel (On Sofware) wrote about it in 2000. While a few people seem to enjoy open offices, the overwhelming majority of developers I know, or who chime in on HN, value a quiet place to work and dislike open offices.

And yet, not only has nothing changed, it seems to be getting worse. It couldn't be more clear to me that developers, at least on this issue, simply have no clout as a profession. There may be a few individuals who can make demands, but on the balance, these are decisions imposed on us, as a group, and we are apparently unable to do anything about it.

The really sad thing is, this isn't a situation where we're asking to fly first class, or for more vacation. We're talking about asking for something that will make us more productive and increase the value we largely hand over to our employers, simply because it's depressing to not be able to do a good job due to distractions.

So yeah, I'm depressed about it. There was a time when I read these essays and felt a bit more charged up, like people were starting to understand something important and that things would change. Well, now we have open offices.

I'll finish with another variant on my broken record: the industry talks constant about the critical shortage of software engineers, but it won't give them a quiet place to work. Actually, that last sentence is too optimistic - it won't allow them a quiet place to work. Those places exist, but companies often demand that their programmers spend 8 hours a day in places that are too noisy for focus.

6
AdamN 2 days ago 7 replies      
I used to use construction 'headphones'. They do nothing but dampen outside noise - no music. It's a pretty good solution ... but a solution to a stupid problem because the right solution is more productive working conditions.
7
kmfrk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Another seemingly imperceptible disruption is vibration, ie "physical noise". I had the bottom-of-the-totem-pole pleasure of having the (open) office space right by the restroom, kitchen, and coffee machine.

The major noises were not the main problem; the problem was the stress of people beelining for either of the three with the felicity of an elephant stampede.

Add to this office congestion the pleasure of a female stampede of high heels or male Italian shoes.

Which is not to say that a coffee machine can't shake the foundation of the building like a malcontent washing machine.

It's driven me up the fucking wall, and it is by far my biggest annoyance with an open office.

Keep this in mind, the next time you or someone else goes on about dress code - or taking things easy. Hell, give your employees the option of company-provided sneakers. Then you can still dictate style guidelines.

Either that or give people a goddamn vibration-dampened fastlane.

8
wcunning 1 day ago 2 replies      
As several commentors have mentioned, in ear monitor (IEM) type headphones have pretty good sound isolation properties. It's important to note that active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones increase the total sound pressure on your ear drums, while IEMs decrease it, overall. With ANC headphones, you have the environmental sound pressure added to the cancellation signal (which cancels according to perception, not according to physics) added to the pressure of your music. This tends to make them far more damaging to hearing, long term, than simply listening to music. The real solution, if you want to avoid hearing loss and drown out the environmental noise is to use something like Shure IEMs and a pair of shooting or industrial earmuffs. When I ran a lawn service in high school, I had a set of Shure headphones and equipment earmuffs, which blocked something like 50 dB of environmental noise and let me listen to podcasts at a reasonable volume while running a mower 8 hours a day.
9
jdietrich 2 days ago 1 reply      
Use noise-attenuating headphones rather than noise-cancelling headphones. A pair of properly fitted IEMs or a good pair of closed headphones will reduce background noise by ~25dB simply by providing a physical barrier to noise.

The distracting effects of music largely disappear if you listen to repetitive instrumental music - house or ambient music is ideal for this.

If you're concerned about noise-related hearing loss, Canford produce a range of high-quality headphones with integrated limiters. The limiting system was designed by the BBC, to enforce safe noise exposure for employees who use headphones all day.

While I agree that open plan offices are generally a bad idea, I think that OP is rather uninformed about the use of headphones.

10
GBond 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hope the open office trend dies soon. I've been to some swanky open offices with awesome perks but there are all designed to keep you in the office. I would not trade any of it for my current setup.I work from my home office and travel to a nearby coworking space to get an occasional dose of water-cooler level of human interaction.
11
vtlynch 2 days ago 5 replies      
Interesting question: How many companies who use open offices style floorplans have executives who still have their own offices?

Maybe this is just another permutation of the out of touch boss problem. Nothing makes it harder to understand the downfalls of an open office than not working in one yourself.

12
masklinn 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Physical Hearing Damage

That's the one that does me in. Not because headphones cause ongoing damage, but because my ears have been damaged by several rounds of tympanic perforations and ear infections since I was a wee one.

From these I retain (amongst a number of other issues though thankfully almost no loss of hearing) a serious inability to wear any kind of headphones for more than 10~15mn: past that and it starts to feel like I'm getting needles jabbed through the eardrum and scraping around (this is not so exaggerated, the first time it happened I literally threw my cans away from me thinking some sort of biting insect had gone in and I hadn't felt it until it took a bite of my eardrum)

13
mcculley 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm convinced that the ideal layout for developers is single offices, with doors, big enough for pair programming. Anything else is wasting developer attention and the opportunities for collaboration enabled while being in close proximity.
14
MetaCosm 1 day ago 8 replies      
I HATE open offices, but man is this article full of absolute nonsense. I mean that in a very literal way -- it has lots of stuff that can not be made sense of because it lacks context or any actual meaning.

> I stress to my patients and the parents of my patients that if you cant hear anything going on around you when listening to headphones, the decibel level is too high.

This is just stupid. It ignores type of headphone entirely. IEMs like the ER-4P (https://www.etymotic.com/consumer/earphones/er4.html) have insane noise isolation (up to 42 dB). When using them, I can't hear someone talking to me, standing right next to me, with no music! They physical block the ear canal and create a seal blocking outside noise.

> As a rule of thumb, you should only use [personal audio] devices at levels up to 60% of maximum volume for a total of 60 minutes a day. The louder the volume, the shorter your duration should be. At maximum volume, you should listen for only about five minutes a day.

Again, idiotic. "60%" is entirely meaningless. It might as well be "Don't listen above FALASFDABURAGA". Headphones vary in sensitivity vastly, on some sets of IEMs -- 60% would be ear bleeding, deafeningly, painfully loud. On a high impedance, low sensitivity set of big headphones, 60% is a whisper. As a "rule of thumb" all it does is reinforce that the person who gave that quote is an idiot.

> If you listen to music with earbuds or headphones at levels that block out normal discourse, you are in effect dealing lethal blows to the hair cells in your ears.

... again, quotes from people who have no understanding that there are different types of headphones. MAYBE you could claim with fully open headphones this to be the case... but what is the level of "discourse"... sigh. Again, literally nonsense because it is impossible to make sense of...

> ... Music Is Distracting (entire section) ...

There exists multiple categories of music WITHOUT WORDS! Shocking I know. Most developers I know listen to these types of music because, lyrics are distracting. That isn't a cut against headphones.

> ... Feeling of Vulnerability ...

Getting to some sad points. Again, I hate open office plans, but come on -- really -- the feeling of vulnerability being caused by headphones? It is caused by an open office layout.

15
melindajb 1 day ago 0 replies      
As someone with a life long case of VERY serious, diagnosed, and treated ADHD, one that is exacerbated by noise (I also have an auditory processing disorder); I often feel I have to take myself out of the running for any job in an open plan office.

Theoretically the Americans with Disabilities Act would allow me to ask for accommodation for this. Practically speaking, my coaches tell me never to ask for it, as employers don't get it and think you're making excuses.

But the fact is, I do have a disability and it's the cognitive equivalent of asking a person in a wheelchair to use steps to get to work.

And as an introvert, I find offices exhausting, the constant demand to be "On" is not only distracting but productivity limiting--especially pointless meetings where I have to work very hard to manage my limited attention span.

Yet another example of how silicon valley culture works for a tiny sliver of the population.

working from home is the best solution. I never go to a coffee shop--even that is too distracting. I schedule meetings with clients in chunks of time that are better for me (afternoons vs my very precious productive mornings) and I batch them so I'm not constantly context switching.

PS I'm not a developer--so you devs aren't the only ones suffering! Good writing and marketing needs thinking time too!

16
tezza 2 days ago 2 replies      

 "[Noise Cancelling Headphones] So while it may work to cancel the noise of your office air conditioner, its powerless against the voices of your co-workers (the real noise youd want to cancel in an office environment)."
Um, this doesn't match my experience at all. My Bose noise cancelling headphones[1] are really effective at cancelling conversations.

Not completely cancelling mind you, but All-But-Cancelling.

You are playing music then too which further removes the voices, and you can play at a much lower volume for similar block-out-effects.

This does lead to some hilarious Boss-at-Shoulder moments when they have come to get your attention.

[1] https://www.bose.co.uk/GB/en/home-and-personal-audio/headpho...

17
zamalek 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Side Note: Noise-Cancelling Headphones

What I've seen done by e-sports events such as WCS is to use earphones in combination with mufflers[1] to cut out the live spectator noise - yes the ones they use on a rifle range.

I can vouch that such a solution works as my room mate in residence would watch series up until ungodly hours of the morning: wearing no-name rifle range ear mufflers eliminated enough (broad-spectrum) noise to allow me to sleep with no issues whatsoever; I would assume it would cut out enough noise for concentration (given that they go as far as reducing the sounds of gun fire) - even without adding music to the equation.

[1]: http://catalogue.3m.eu/en_ZA/PPESafetyProducts/Ear_Plugs_and... - this specific model is frequently seen in WCS.

18
Raphmedia 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wear earplugs and then put your over the ears headphones over them. The sound of your music should still get through (mostly from around the ear, through your skull). I do that with classical music and it makes the music sounds like it's coming from very far. It's very zen. Like sitting in the void while having music come to you from a distant area.
19
kstenerud 2 days ago 2 replies      
"There are permanent physical consequences from prolonged headphone use. The effects accrue gradually, and as such people dont notice that its happening."

You don't have to actually drown out the ambient noise; you just have to put enough sound that you control into it such that your brain is lulled into ignoring the totality of sound around you.

"People conflate the positive psychological effects of creating a cocoon of their favorite sounds in an environment of noise they cant control with positive effects on their productivity."

The effects ARE positive, RELATIVE to the plain noisy environment they're stuck in. When I have an actually quiet workspace, I have no music playing at all, or at best something very, very low and without lyrics.

20
dbcooper 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've found Music for Programming's mixes to be pretty good.

http://musicforprogramming.net/

Dream Chimney's mixes on soundcloud also.

https://soundcloud.com/the-dream-chimney

In general, something classical, ambient, or minimal techno fits the bill.

21
dilap 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm personally more or less a fan of open offices, but the noise really is a problem and unfortunate -- I wish the social convention were to treat an open office like a library, and louder conversations happened in private offices.

In the meantime, I find that using ear-plugging headphones alone with some ear-muffs (for like construction work) over the top of the head, without actual music, is reasonably effective at stopping sound.

22
suttree 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just leaving this here:

https://www.somewhere.com/suttree/sparks/30629

The Isolator device looks amazing, better than headphones.

23
KaiserPro 2 days ago 1 reply      
this quote is basically it: Music Is Distracting

So, as someone who was taught from a young age that only one medium at one time was allowed, open plan offices are a pain in the tits for me.

I used to sit next to a bloke who play wonderful music, but it never stopped. Trying to debug anything complex was impossible.

Ultimately the only real way I could get round it was to use these: http://www.koss.com/en/products/headphones/full_size_headpho... This blocked out most of the noise.

To get over the last bit of detail I used a white noise generator: http://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/rainNoiseGenerator.php worth the support fee)

Now, this is still noise, but its constant and easily ignored.

24
erikb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I work in a 4 people office and already feel it's too noisy, too many people walking behind me etc. Maybe other people are smarter than me, but for me it's not a work environment if I should develop software. But my pay is not connected to my performance so I don't have much to complain about.
25
paulpauper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bring back the cubicles. Open offices are done not for collaboration and openness, but done to save money
26
mfringel 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Just wear headphones" is the new "Just hit delete."
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kylec 2 days ago 0 replies      
I completely agree, especially about the feeling of vulnerability. It's apparently something that not everyone experiences, but there's no way I'm going to wear something that removes my ability to hear someone walking up behind me.
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delinka 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've carefully tuned my use of headphones and music to my preferences and to minimize distractions. Here's my list:

 1. Earbuds that block sound, or over-the-ear headphones that block sound 2. Nothing with lyrics. Voices are distracting. I'm really just here for the noise that's not other humans having a conversation. 3. Use a streaming service that tailors the music to my preferences. Pandora was my favorite, but I'm currently on Spotify. I don't have to curate my own lists and I still get music that's all similar and not distracting. It usually ends up being trance-like. Anything "jammin" or "fun" is indeed distracting.
What I'm not getting here is how the generalization "music is a distraction" is justified. Was a large sample of music types used?

As for "being watched," I'm not particularly ashamed of my work habits. I do indeed post to HN (in case you didn't notice), read news, read comics (oh, forgot to catch up on those this morning...), keep up with my online peers, ... and I work. Watch me all day if you like. I'd prefer that you also get work done, though.

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kyberias 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hearing "just wear headphones" would mean I'd resign the same day.
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someone89987 1 day ago 0 replies      
I found this article to be worthless. I work in an open office that is fairlynoisy. Although we in this area are mostly separated from the call centerpeople (there is only one in this section, probably due to seniority), butthere are some developers who are frequently loud, horsing around with nerfguns, etc. My Shure IEMs block all of this easily. People around me haveconversations about which headphones they should buy, I show them mine, andthen they come back and say they want something with noise-canceling but thatdoesn't go in their ears. Sorry, you want water that isn't wet, and it can'tbe helped. Scared about having your back to the unknown? Get over it; it's apersonal fear that is able to be corrected. I used to be overlyself-self-conscious, but no longer. The One way, which is what worked for me,is to do absolutely nothing distracting while at work. Ant website I view formore than a minute is work-related in some small way and I have noreservations about doing that for as long as I want. Right now I'm typinginto a black screen that is not echoing anything that I type back to me, soanyone passing by me is only going to see what appears to be me pretending totype. Let them think that, it doesn't matter to me. A guy to my left justviews time-wasting websites all day, every day. He would be the first-fire ifI had any say in this, but I don't care about him. Back to theheadphones... All of these things that could be described as "earbuds" arejunk. They don't seal the ear canal, so you don't get sound isolation, then Iwould assume if there was noise in the environment's, you would be forced tocrank up the volume to compensate. I am listening to classical music from astreaming playlist that is running from an mpd server on my home computerthrough my phone (unlimited data). There is no distraction, as I have prunedthis playlist of opera and . Lyrical music and hip-hop is good, but too muchof it and you get the tape loops in your mind that can be distracting.
31
mcdougle 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Music is Distracting

Sometimes, the right kind of distraction is good. Even if having no distractions gives me the opportunity to have acute concentration on the subject, in practice, having the right kinds of distractions really do help me reach peak productivity.

If I don't have music or background noise of some kind, my mind wanders and I never really reach that "acute concentration" point anyways. But I work best with the right kind of music -- or even a TV show that's just interesting enough to be background noise (without capturing all of my attention).

That said, the wrong kinds of distractions truly are too distracting. The study mentioned that music with lyrics is more distracting; I know that my favorite songs (generally 70s classic rock) really do grab my attention away from work sometimes. Music where the words are unintelligible and fade into the sounds or music without words actually works a lot better. Also, obviously a really captivating TV show will definitely hurt productivity.

32
squigs25 1 day ago 0 replies      
For these reasons I have been using ear muffs (similar to the ones you would use for lawn mowing). Currently I am using Howard Leight Sync. It's basically an "over the ear" ear plug when it's not on. You can also use them as poor quality headphones.

It gets hot, but it seems to be one of the best solutions I have found.

33
neves 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use earplugs. They are cheap, comfortable e doesn't damage your ears. I started to use them when there was some construction work in my street. But I started to like it so much that now I use them on the plane, the bus, to sleep, and to work. 3M sells some cheap ones: http://solutions.3m.co.uk/wps/portal/3M/en_GB/PPE_SafetySolu...

The problems are: People won't notice you are using it, and start talking to you from your back. That's a sure way to get weird looking faces from your colleagues.

34
pbreit 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's extraordinarily presumptuous to suggest that headphones are an answer for many/most people. Fact is a lot of people do not like wearing headphones or listening to music/audio while working.
35
rdl 1 day ago 2 replies      
How would you even get "offices for everyone" as a 10 to 200 person growing startup these days (in SF or Seattle)? An open-plan space and then TI to build out offices? Find some 1940s non-tech building and rent there in multiple floors?

"Office with a door" would be worth $20-30k/yr in salary and $50-100k/yr in productivity to me as an employee/user, but on the supply side, it would be challenging to provide.

36
markbnj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey I have a better idea! Let's just wrap each person in thick, acoustically impenetrable foam. Then our open office plan will be a complete success.
37
Terr_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
All decent points, but I'm perplexed how the author acts/implies that all programmers are going to be listening to "pop songs" or songs with lyrics.

I am completely unsurprised that there are studies showing lyrics interfere with concentration--I've been avoiding them while working for years. I've even chosen usernames in some music-systems reflecting the fact.

38
thewarrior 1 day ago 0 replies      
I got to know how music retards your reflexes by playing a reaction time test.

Just try the humanbenchmark.com reaction time test with and without music. When you're listening to music your reaction times will always be higher.

That's when I realized that I listening to music could be counter productive. Maybe some ambient rain noise or something would be ideal.

39
pacomerh 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Science says we're full of it. Listening to music hurts our ability to recall other stimuli, and any pop song -- loud or soft -"

Not very useful article if they assume I'm gonna be listening to pop music. If the writer didn't even care to talk about other types of music this is basically a very poor written post.

40
jilted 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wear earplugs on a regular basis and they are great for drowning out excessive noise. I do remove them off and on, especially if I'm in a meeting with someone or if I have to hop on a call.

If I don't wear them, I tend to get distracted and irritated by various sounds. Now, you can still hear things, but they are dampened which is soothing for me at least.

41
jasonkostempski 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have glass at the top 1/4 of my cubical walls. They happen to be angled in such a way that I pretty much get 360 view of the office. The reflection is soft enough that it's not as distracting as a solid mirror would be. I feel, at least for me, this solves the feeling of vulnerability with or without headphones in.
42
Coding_Cat 2 days ago 0 replies      
>If you listen to music with earbuds or headphones at levels that block out normal discourse, you are in effect dealing lethal blows to the hair cells in your ears.

I can not have normal discourse with my headphones on, even if they're off. And these are just a pair of normal over-ear headphones (DT-770's).

43
lurkinggrue 1 day ago 0 replies      
The past year I just got an office and so happy I have my back to a wall. The amount of stress from people walking behind me was getting too much to take.

I tend to find it funny that management that proposes the Open Office idea tend to be the ones who are in offices.

44
josai 2 days ago 1 reply      
A pair of Bose QC25's has been my most objectively productive purchase this last year. I highly recommend anyone in an open plan office to buy some, or something like them - they're expensive but worth every cent.
45
iamwil 1 day ago 0 replies      
I end up wearing ear plugs inside of headphones to block out the noise. Sometimes I wear both because I'm afraid of hearing loss. But it's uncomfortable. I just feel like I have a stuffy sinus.
46
Paul_S 1 day ago 0 replies      
Go on, find me a single non-open plan employer (I live in the UK). I still remember the times when people had offices, it was fantastic.
47
justonepost 2 days ago 2 replies      
WFH + Open plans are great and should generally be encouraged. The open plan facilitates communications and general discussion. I encourage my team to spend at least 3 days a week at work during our 'core' time (12-5pm/MWF). It gets a bit noisy and productivity drops a bit, but team morale is good and there is a lot of cross pollination of ideas and knowledge. The only difficulty I've had is nearby teams haven't adopted this approach (they don't WFH) so we have to be careful about our volume level when we're in the office.
48
noir_lord 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bio-Ears-Silicone-EarPlugs-Protectio...

Used these for years to help me sleep (I have insomnia and the slightest background noise wakes me up).

They also work brilliantly at cutting out background noise when I'm trying to focus (even use them at home if I have the windows open), silence is golden!.

49
acconrad 2 days ago 4 replies      
Now to be fair I am in favor of giving employees isolated rooms to work in, however the reality is that at small startups they simply cannot afford that kind of office space. If you're concerned about noise and also the loudness of music playing in headphones, you can always get what construction workers use to block out noise:

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Howard-Leight-Thunder-T3-Noise-Bl...

They look pretty intense but it's certainly one way to solve the problem.

Mobile Changes Everything a16z.com
291 points by ryanb  1 day ago   203 comments top 24
1
haxel 1 day ago 19 replies      
"Everyone gets a pocket supercomputer" - Slide 8

I see this idea repeated so often, but it's unfortunate that we don't also have the _value_ of a supercomputer in our pocket. The sole purpose of a supercomputer is to advance the interests of its owner, who has exclusive control over it. Whether the purpose is prediction, or simulation, or to advance the state of the art, the benefit goes to the owner.

Yet we seem to have less and less control over our smart-phones. With so much information about each of us being siphoned off through the Internet, it's easy to wonder whose interest they serve.

With all of the advances in computing power, you'd think we'd put a bit more imagination into capturing more value for each individual smart-phone user, and less into centralized capture and analysis of our digital activity.

2
austenallred 1 day ago 3 replies      
Holy hell, hackers. This isn't about you.

Nearly all of the comments in this thread are extremely negative - ranging from hand-wavy about how valuable mobile is to expressing excitement that "[dumb] people will [again] be leaving the Internet." What an incredibly pessimistic and self-centric way of viewing the world.

The incredible thing about a supercomputer that fits in your hand isn't that we're putting them in the hand of hackers who went to MIT 40 years ago. It's not exciting for someone who was going to be sitting behind a Linux terminal anyway. This pretty much changes nothing for them.

But it changes everything for the kid in sub-Saharan Africa who has never had access to a computer. It changes everything for my friend's family in Iran - none of them ever had a computer, and now all of them have a smartphone.

It even changes everything for my father-in-law - a hay farmer who had little interest in using a computer, but inexplicably loves his iPad. He takes it out to the farm and performs what I would consider the most trivial of computing tasks, but it's something he never did before, even when PCs were cheap and ubiquitous and I spent hour after hour teaching him how to scroll and double-click.

Of course, hackers are right: That smartphone is not be as good at editing photos as your 15-inch Macbook Pro. And it's a horror to write code from. But, to borrow an analogy from Peter Thiel, the difference between editing photos on your phone and editing them on a computer may be a move from 1 to n for hackers. Hackers, who have been at n for years, are rational in not caring. For this Iranian family, and for my father-in-law, however, this is a move from 0 to 1. And that's a big deal.

Are the operating systems more closed than hackers would like them to be? Yes. But my friend's family in Iran has neither the interest nor the ability to hack on the kernel of some mobile operating system, so they don't really care. Is it harder for them to type on a phone than it is on a keyboard? Of course, but now they're typing something. It works, and they're using it, and that's a big, big deal.

This isn't necessarily a revolution of what it's possible to do with computers, but a revolution of who can do things with computers. We'll soon be reaching economies of scale we could never imagine. Access, where there previously was none.

That you can call an Uber because it's in your pocket and happens to include GPS, in my mind, is just a side-benefit.

3
jimduk 1 day ago 1 reply      
One comment from experience Slide 21 "The mobile supply chain dominates all tech" / Flood of smartphone components - Lego for technology

 The shiny Lego is only available for the major players. 
For the current key components - GPU/CPU/Camera sensor - you can't order them/get support/get docs unless you have scale or amazing connections. If you are a hardware startup your lego is 2/3 yrs behind the big players, and behind public perception.

This makes complete sense once you look at chip fab costs/profit models and the industry structure, but is not great for disruption from smaller players.

NB this was from a European perspective of doing things officially - it's possible there might be more 'unofficial' components and support if this is done in China with strong local support

4
whysonot 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case anybody is interested in the google books chart of the word "mobile":

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=mobile&year_st...

After the context is set, the most important page appears to be 44. It suggests that the next blessing[1] of unicorns will tackle enormous markets by building products around mobile. Didn't this shift already happen? I couldn't think of many major industries that don't already have mobile-first contenders.

Maybe I'm missing the point of the "tech is outgrowing tech' sentiment?

[1] http://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_group_of_unicorns_called

5
choppaface 1 day ago 1 reply      
The presentation touches on smartphone penetration and communication behaviors of teens but really doesn't grapple with that phenomenon with any novel amount of rigor. The talk is aimed at making us believe in (i.e. want to invest in) tech. The argument is that the opportunity is so big, even fools who just throw money in the pot stand to make money.

The trouble is that we're mostly aware of how awesome mobile penetration is and how vital social networks are. I'd much rather see the preso that brings new evidence and rigor to the table than the last ditched effort to pick up conservatives who have been ignoring tech for the past 7 years.

If a16z wants to chart progress, would love to see some of these graphs posted online and live-updated daily/monthly.

6
Animats 1 day ago 2 replies      
Mobile puts users back in their proper role as consumers, where they belong. The personal computer, and the Internet, were originally seen as subversive tools of empowerment. Remember those "manifestos of cyberspace" from the 1990s? Remember cyberpunk? Well, that didn't happen. Most Internet traffic today goes to the top 10 sites. None of those sites are even run by companies with a broad shareholder base. The billionaires are firmly in charge.

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." - Orwell.

7
CodingGuy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love mobile first - all idiots are leaving the web again! :
8
z3t4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mobiles and personal computers are different, but the difference will eventually blur.

What worries me though, is that currently mobiles are not as great as PC's when it comes to learning and creating. And that will slow technology growth, as todays youth are consumers rather then hackers/creators.

To make mobile software you still need a PC :P

9
gavanwoolery 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just because mobile is more prevalent does not make it more valuable, in fact, quite the opposite: the fact that it reaches more classes dilutes the spending power of the average user. What we have ended up with is a segment with extreme competition AND low app prices (the average PC app sells for at least 10x more than a mobile app).

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Although we have tried to app-ify everything, I still prefer doing 99 percent of tasks on a device with a real keyboard and enough horsepower to prevent lag (in spite of rapid improvements, I still find the lag on my mobile device (1 year old now - HTC One M8) to be frustrating).

10
baristaGeek 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty informative presentation, but the last slides are misleading.

It makes sense that the frequency of the word representing a certain technology in different books throughout time is modeled by a normal distribution. However, because the reason why they were included in a text creates such a huge bias/mental trap, such frequency shouldn't be a relevant indicator to measure the "sex appeal" of an industry.

11
oldpond 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to see a green screen interface on a phone, touchable, of course. sings I got a mainframe in my pocket...
12
quantisan 1 day ago 0 replies      
The $30 fully featured smartphone is already here. I've been using a Microsoft Lumia 635 ($30 with no contract, $50 unlocked in US) as my main driver for a month. Sure it doesn't take epic photos or play the latest mobile games. But everything you'd expect works surprisingly well. Compare it to a couple of years ago, even a $100 Android phone felt castrated back then.
13
cstuder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Additional food for thought: The newest statistics about landline and mobile adoption from the CDC: http://www.theverge.com/2015/6/23/8826159/wireless-only-hous...
14
danblick 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great presentation. This focuses on new business opportunities enabled by technology... but what kinds of political changes would you expect as half the world's population gets access to cheaper information and communication? Which institutions would you expect to gain or lose?
15
oneiric 19 hours ago 0 replies      
"Computerization"

Did anyone here ever use that term? Is it appropriately grouped with railways, steel and software?

16
mdpopescu 1 day ago 0 replies      
Seriously? "Microsoft is dead" again? Hasn't he learned from the last time he said that? :)
17
zargath 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it is very "dangerous" to say mobile = smartphone = iOS + Android, at least that is what I hear people say.

What about all the billion devices we get in clothe, toys, tracking, etc?

You can make insanely fast and small hardware today, and it will be used for awesome stuff. That is not just because you have a smart-phone in your nasty little pocketses. .-)

18
hathym 1 day ago 0 replies      
supercomputers to facebook and play candy crush, what a wonderful change
19
mathattack 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm a huge Benedict Evans fan, but is this news anymore?
20
pjmlp 1 day ago 3 replies      
Changes everything and yet they have a website that displays like crap on my mobile, forcing me to zoom in page sections.
21
Zigurd 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a lot of meditation on the meaning of "Everyone gets a pocket supercomputer" here.

Thing is, mobile devices are not pocket personal computers. You might wish they were, and maybe someday the few million of you, out of the 1.5-2 billion annual mobile device customers, worldwide who wish it will have mobile devices you really can take complete control of.

Heck, out of the 300 million annual PC customers, how many of them buy PCs thinking "This is my personal computer?"

And if we really want secure, controllable, personal computers, we'll need to re-invent them because PCs long ago sold out to IT and monitoring and compliance and all that.

22
graycat 1 day ago 4 replies      
=== Overview

"Mobile" -- an astoundingly popularcollection of new products? Yes.

"Changes everything"? No.

Mobile is new and popular? Yes, and atone time in the US so were tacos.

New and popular are not nearly the same aschanging everything.

=== Use a Smartphone?

Could I use a smartphone to buy fromAmazon? Yes. Would I? Very definitely,no!

Why not?

(1) If the user interface (UI) is a mobileapp instead of a Web page, no thanks.

Why? Because with a Web page and my Webbrowser and PC, I get to keep a copy ofthe relevant Web pages I used in theshopping and buying. And I very much wantto keep that data for the future.

(2) Want to keep those copies of Web pageson a mobile device? Not a chance.

Why? Because for such data, I want my PCwith its hardware and software. I wantthe Windows file system (NTFS), my texteditor and its many macros, and my meansof finding things in the file system.

My PC also gives me a large screen, a goodkeyboard, a good printer, a mouse (I don'twant to keep touching the screen -- infact, my PC screen is not quite closeenough for me to touch), ability toread/write CDs and DVDs, backup to a USBdevice, etc.

Do I want to backup to the cloud? Not achance. I backup to local devices.

Why? Because for cloud backup, money, acloud bureaucracy, the Internet, spooks,and lawyers could get involved.

=== Business

My business is a Web site. I'm developingthat on my PC, and will go live on a PC --in both cases, a PC, not a mobile device.

Mobile users of my Web site? Sure: MyWeb pages should look and work fine on anymobile device with a Web browser up todate as of, say, 10 years ago.

=== New Business for A16Z

It sounds like A16Z likes mobile becausefor 2+ billion poor people smartphones aretheir first computer and are new andpopular.

Okay, then, A16Z, here's another businessyou should like -- bar soap. Also, ofcourse, just from the OP, tooth brushes.No way should we forget -- salt. Okay, ofcourse -- sugar. Sure, one more -- toiletpaper. Naw, got to have one more, plasticknives, forks, spoons, and drinking cups.

Not to forget -- sell them batteries fortheir smartphones. Maybe even solar panelrecharging for their smartphones!

Especially for A16Z, got to have one more-- sure, Kool Aid.

=== Summary

A computer is the most important tool inmy life. Currently my PC is my computer.

A smartphone most definitely does notreplace my computer.

Actually, at present I have no use for asmartphone, a cell phone, or a mobiledevice and, so, have none.

Actually some years ago a friend gave me acell phone. Once I turned it on, and somecomplicated dialog came up about myreading some contract and sending money.I turned the thing off and haven't turnedit back on since.

Or, my PC has a network effect: It hasall my data and means of entering,storing, processing, communicating, andviewing data, all in one place. A mobiledevice cannot be that one place, and, dueto the network effect, I don't want tosplit off some of my data into a mobilesilo.

=== Denouement

This post was written, spell checked, etc.with my favorite text editor, using myfavorite spell checker, on my PC, and noway would I have wanted to have done thispost on a smartphone.

23
lucian 1 day ago 1 reply      
slide 31 / video min 16:07

------------------------------

Global SMS: 20 bn messages a day

WhatsApp: 30 bn messages a day.

(with just 40 engineers)

------------------------------

should be refactored:

------------------------------

Global SMS: 20 bn messages a day

(10.000 Engineers using C/C++/Java - just guessing)

WhatsApp: 30 bn messages a day

(with just 40 engineers using Erlang)

------------------------------

24
paulgayham 1 day ago 0 replies      
mobile is irrelevant and 'app's are mostly crap. My phone has flappy bird and that's it.
Happy 10th birthday to us redditblog.com
272 points by CapitalistCartr  20 hours ago   100 comments top 11
1
ilovecomputers 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I always feel strange being nostalgic about a website. Like I don't feel weird being nostalgic about a classic episode of The Simpsons or a rock concert, but for YouTube or Newgrounds or now Reddit, I do.

I've used reddit for like 7 years. Gleamed helpful info from it. Even won a contest off that site (still got that postcard of all the admin's autographs). Yet my continuing theme with that site was their social experiments. Some of them were one time events, like the Reddit Jet Blue Travels or naming a whale Mr. Splashy Pants or the Rally For Sanity (okay, we technically tagged along for that event, but I was the ones drawn to that pilgrimage). Most of them were short lived, like Soapier or The redditor zine. However, there were successful experiments like IAMA (we finally got the President in the end after making joke IAMA requests), Secret Santa, and shit, we even got Snoop Dogg as an honorary mod of /r/trees.

That was the thing with reddit, it was this general forum that various people showed up on who wanted to try new things or learn something new. Sometimes they took it too far and sometimes they had real life effects. Whatever redditors tried, it was something that broke the regular order of things. Hidden away in the subreddits, I can still see these attempts at trying something new. Try Paleo, donate a pizza, ask a scientist or historian for detailed answers, try not to jack off, meetup with like-minded people, try to be more productive with GTD, try to have this obscure politician win an election, or watch these obscure movies on netflix.

Now the site has gotten so big, so many stuff has been done on there, I'm likely just skimming the surface here.

Anyways, Jedberg, Raldi, if you're still on this thread, thanks for your early contributions to that site. It has brought me fond memories and even a few friends...who I can assure you are not the steretypical reddit weirdos. For reals!

2
vshan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Most people don't know this, but it was PG who gave Alexis and Steve the idea to make something like reddit, and also gave them the tagline "the front page of the internet".[0]

PG had vetoed their initial idea to create a food-delivery app and then called them back and asked them to come up with something new.

[0]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rZ8f3Bx6Po

3
thomson 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy Birthday Reddit!

I also really enjoyed this post from Alexis re: their journey [1]--particularly this excerpt:

"I talk about this a lot in my book, but it was PG who invited us to apply to the first ever round of Y Combinator and ultimately Jessica Livingston who banged on the table to accept us into the program after PG and the other partners rejected us.

I often think about what would have happened if she hadn't demanded that we be part of the program. There'd be no reddit, that's for sure."

This doesn't get repeated quite often enough as it should, but jl is probably one of the kindest, most intelligent, and most perceptive partners at YC, and probably in the entire venture capital industry.

[1] https://www.facebook.com/alexis.ohanian/posts/10102187402893...

4
avinassh 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Makes me sad that Admins did not mention Aaron Swartz[0]

- https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Swartz

5
minimaxir 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a GitHub repository released by Reddit of all the relevant Reddit metrics (uniques, page views, submissions etc.), by month: https://github.com/drunken-economist/reddit-10-year-data
6
ChrisArchitect 19 hours ago 5 replies      
all that matters in reddit history to me is the turning point when Digg botched their v4 design execution and caused a huge exodus to Reddit, who was struggling at the time. Changed everything
7
go1dfish 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I've asked this repeatedly at reddit and have still yet to ever receive an answer and I think it goes to the core of many of the concerns the reddit community has over the new direction.

Why is /r/TwoXChromosomes the only default subreddit to allow political advocacy?

Not a single default would have accepted kn0thing's first post in todays reddit.

Reddit as a political soapbox died around the time of Occupy Wall Street. It's as neutered as Facebook now.

8
eueueu 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Is Reddit still run to be profitable? It always seems like it fits more with a wikipedia type model of donations etc.
9
randall 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Blogspam?
11
sneak 16 hours ago 2 replies      
If every single vote on reddit (both up or down) over ten years were to equal Uber's ~$40bn market cap, each of ~19bn votes would have to be worth over $2.
Cryengine 3.8.1 Adds Support for Linux, OpenGL and Oculus Rift cryengine.com
281 points by jrepin  2 days ago   107 comments top 15
1
SwellJoe 2 days ago 2 replies      
I buy and play an order of magnitude more games these days now that there is a reasonably large library of games on Steam with Linux support. I don't know if it moves the revenue needle for them enough to notice it, but I spent about $10/year on games (sometimes I'd go more than a year between buying a game) before Linux support became a common thing. It's a heck of a lot more than that now, and would be higher still if more games I wanted to play were available for Linux.

I have Windows 7 on my laptop, but my desktop machine (which has a huge video card) only runs Linux. So, gaming happens on Linux or not at all (almost; I play Civ V on my laptop sometimes).

2
dijit 2 days ago 5 replies      
Slowly removing microsofts AAA game monopoly!

this is a great thing, as a person who only runs linux, I'm super excited at the idea of getting the older games updated to this version and potentially running on Linux. :)

3
mrmondo 2 days ago 3 replies      
About time. I am so sick of rebooting into Windows just to play the odd game. I find myself spending a lot of the time rebooting for windows updates, removing spyware or finding myself rebooting into OS X / Linux when needing to do work (ssh, git etc...)
4
anon4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, Oculus removed Linux&OSX support. Or at least put it on indefinite life-unsupport. https://www.oculus.com/en-us/blog/powering-the-rift/
5
malkia 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next step must be making the tools run on Linux/OSX.

I've been using Linux as a desktop at work, and it just works.

(Good HW configuration seems to be the key though, and Windows still is the leader of running almost on anything x86 out there)

6
tormeh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Whenever I see news about opengl these days I only think about how great vulkan is going to be. I know the spec won't be out until late this year, and drivers will probably need a good 6 months, but still everything opengl already feels outdated.
7
mladenkovacevic 1 day ago 0 replies      
Things are looking good for October when the pre-order Steam Controller and Steam Links should ship out :)

I don't play games on my desktop computer anymore because I prefer to do work there. After giving my old Xbox 360 to my nephew I've been hesitant to get another console, choosing instead to wait out Steam's living room experience (Steam's where most of my games are anyways). It'll be fun to fill some of my work breaks with a little bit of light gaming on the couch.

8
hitlin37 2 days ago 0 replies      
supporting your game engine for Linux is great for overall PC game ecosystem and not just Linux. Also, for a casual gamer, its a win as they can probably buy a 20$ game and run it on a Linux laptop without needing to buy the PS machine. I mean, most of us run a i5 8gig laptop as a dev machine anyway.
9
shmerl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not surprising. Demand is coming from developers, so all major engines are supporting Linux now. Those who don't will be less competitive.

Some middleware solutions however still lag behind. For instance Umbra 3D still has no Linux support: http://umbra3d.com/

I wonder how Witcher 3 developers plan to port it to Linux without Umbra.

10
erikb 2 days ago 2 replies      
Oh yes, another major step taken! I love how the whole world switches to Linux. Now I hope they start to leverage the GPU driver companies into better Linux support. At least on my computer it's still complicated as hell to get everything running and even then the performance is quite below of what Windows drivers would get done.
11
outworlder 1 day ago 0 replies      
> While you will still need Windows to use the Sandbox Editor

Bummer.

I suppose it's a good step forwards though.

12
lentil_soup 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's more in-depth information on the release notes: http://docs.cryengine.com/display/SDKDOC1/EaaS+3.8.1
13
fsloth 2 days ago 2 replies      
Microsoft has pretty strict conformance tests for all DirectX drivers. Is there anything comparable qualitywise for Opengl drivers on Linux?
14
BonoboBoner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does it run Crysis? Apparently now Linux can.
15
archagon 2 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't Crytek not in good financial shape? Seems a bit risky to rely on them right now.
Mattermost: Open source, on-premises, Slack-alternative mattermost.org
280 points by aviv  6 hours ago   128 comments top 21
1
javiercr 4 hours ago 5 replies      
> Were a YC-backed indie video game company releasing an open source alternative to Slack.

Don't want to troll you guys here, but if you're a video game company why are you spending so much time building a Slack clone?

I was expecting some short of explanation in your blog post like "we did this because this serves as a core piece of our company for X reason and Slack didn't fit our use case for Y reason".

2
volent 5 hours ago 17 replies      
I don't really get why there is so many Slack alternatives coming up these days.

On every post like this there is tons of comment linking to other Slack alternatives, it's not like this is gonna be _the_ Slack-alternative.

Here is a non exhaustive list :

RocketChat : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9624737

Let's Chat : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9040841

Friends : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9461504

Gitter : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6739074

3
andmarios 17 minutes ago 1 reply      
Once a month an insert something tech-related here company releases an open source slack clone.

While I am grateful to all you guys, how much free time do you have to work on these clones instead of your main product?

I've tried so far let's chat and rocketchat and I liked them. I will give a spin to mattermost and I am sure I will like it too.I think the one that matures first, will be a big hit because we need a slack clone as evidently shown. But also as with any other open source / free software project it will need commitment.

4
timdorr 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's the code: https://github.com/mattermost/platform

From the look of the screenshots ( http://www.mattermost.org/70-2/ ), I'd say there are some copyright concerns with the styles. This isn't a Slack alternative, it's a Slack clone. That's very problematic from a copyright stance. Why not create your own design style?

Gogs had (has?) this same issue: https://github.com/gogits/gogs/issues/1069

5
pluc 1 hour ago 1 reply      
You know what else is a great open-source on-premises Slack alternative? Most IRCds.
6
synchrone 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Also, there is http://getkaiwa.com/, with roughly the same features, open protocol and a built-in LDAP. Hubot integration is also possible.
7
uniclaude 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That's all good, but the differentiating factor of Slack over Hipchat & the like is how well it integrates with everything your team is likely to use. It works seamlessly with Github, Trello and IRC.

I don't mean to devalue this product at all, but This is not a viable Slack alternative, it's a generic (and good looking) communication tool. This said, I commend the open source approach, it could probably help the product evolve towards something much better and integrated.

8
tracker1 5 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing I really like and appreciate is that there's a dockerfile right in the root of the project, which makes spinning up a container a relatively nice experience... haven't run it or looked into the code though... that just struck out at me...

Looking at the dockerfile, it seems pretty big, and it also strikes me slightly that they have dependencies on node, ruby and go, along with mysql and redis. The UI appears to be react based.. not sure what's running in ruby.

9
ywecur 2 hours ago 1 reply      
There are many slack alternatives out already, as volent has pointed out. What I'd like to see is one that is based on Tox technology.

Having a decentralised network would be much better as it would remove all costs of self-hosting.

10
it33 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Mattermost team here. Thank you!! This feedback is awesome. Working on some replies...
11
DoubleMalt 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice project but the documentation is a bit terse (yet). We like https://github.com/sdelements/lets-chat atm.

Things that would be essential for me to use it in a company are

- LDAP or OAUTH integration- Hubot integration

I'm not sure Zapier integration cuts it for use cases where I want a self hosted solution.

12
jsmthrowaway 5 hours ago 2 replies      
> Teams who cant use SaaS rely on cryptic, decades-old technologies. As an example, the US Army uses myIRC to order missile strikes

"myIRC" doesn't exist. The name of the protocol is IRC. The name of a popular Windows client is mIRC. WikiLeaks called their leak "mIRC logs," which is where this trope came from.

The United States military (not just the Army) uses Internet Relay Chat for a whole lot of C2. It runs on a network, both IRC and IP, dedicated to the purpose. Given how long IRC has been in existence, that they've been doing it since the early 90s, that the use case is the perfect ideal for IRC, and that the average modern Web app is less reliable than my last Datsun, I have a hard time finding incredulity at sticking with something that works.

Even beyond that, IRC is text-based. It is not cryptic. An IRC client is a common first software project. About twenty lines of Go gets you a bot. You can make IRC look exactly like Mattermost with a week of hacking in your favorite framework of choice, and then you're not reinventing fanout. Entire products have been built atop IRC.

Even beyond that, guess how many protocols are decades old in just the software development workflow for this product. Pretty tired of "that's old, let's do it better," even though I hate finding myself on this side of defending IRC.

13
tyrion 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried to spin up the docker container locally and it worked until it had to send me a mail for registration.

Looking at the README it says that it does not work if my ISP is blocking port 25, which I don't think it is.

But anyway I created a droplet on digitalocean and ran the container there, but "MySQL init process failed."

I would love to try this project, or at least try a demo deployment somewhere :)

14
mosselman 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool :). It would have been nice to see some more screenshots or product videos in order to get a feel for it.
15
vijayrawatsan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Are you planning to open source you android client as well?
16
vishaldpatel 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Will there be plugin support so teams can share their add-ons?
17
ocdtrekkie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Awesome to see more companies questioning Slack, and developing their own solutions!
18
soasme 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Better to have slack-compatible APIs.
19
hitlin37 5 hours ago 2 replies      
can i run it on Linux?
20
UserRights 4 hours ago 0 replies      
no ldap?
21
richmarr 3 hours ago 2 replies      

 Unlike Slack, Mattermost is open source... Teams suffer when SaaS companies lose focus. Since its open source, Mattermost can endure through its community. If quality declines, anyone can fork the code and take stewardship.
Open source and focus are the wrong arguments here.

(a) Mattermost is built by a video game company, so there is no focus to start with.

(b) Moving from a SaaS product to a self-hosted open source component runs against the process of commoditisation so is ultimately only ever going to be of niche value. After all, why spend scarce and expensive engineering time setting up, maintaining, and potentially having to fork a product, when you could just pay $however-much/month and not have to worry about it.

RunC A lightweight universal runtime container, by the Open Container Project runc.io
256 points by tlrobinson  1 day ago   60 comments top 13
1
waffle_ss 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's not mentioned on this page, but these runc containers will also run on Windows[1], which is pretty amazing.

Not having to run the Docker daemon will also be pretty nice. Currently when I upgrade Docker, all containers have to be restarted on the host due to the daemon dependency. So to maintain uptime with Docker containers currently you better be running your stuff clustered (e.g. via Mesos/Marathon).

Standalone containers was something I felt rkt (alternate container format from CoreOS people) got right, so nice to see it carrying over here through the collaboration.

[1]: https://twitter.com/docker/status/613039532422864896

2
JackdawX 1 day ago 1 reply      
Sometimes, posts like this appear on hacker news that are completely impenetrable. I read the page for RunC and the only thing I could find out about it from that page is that it is a "Container", and these are its specs. A "Container" is something that is used by "Docker". "Docker" is a program that "allows you to compose your application from microservices". A "microservice" is "a software architecture style, in which complex applications are composed of small, independent processes" (we're down to wikipedia at this point). So a "microservice" is an abstraction of unix design, and finally we're on solid ground. If you were interested you might be able to work backwards through this list of projects, researching what each one does, and then you could find out what RunC actually is.
3
advanderveer 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is by far the most important announcement of the Keynote, it really shows that Alex (CoreOS) and Solomon (Docker) managed to come together and create this as part of a new open standard.

If there is ever gonna be a page in some book that covers server software development, I believe it will tell about this standard.

4
Animats 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's written in Go.

Another key bit of infrastructure moves to a safer language.

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

5
praveenster 1 day ago 2 replies      
"https://runc.azurewebsites.net""Copyright (c) 2015, Linux Foundation"

Interesting times

6
dubcanada 1 day ago 3 replies      
Speaking of containers I've always wondered if running a GUI app (something like a kiosk) would work in these sorts of containers? I know you can do it hackily in docker by playing with X and xfvb. But does any of them natively (easily) support it?
7
craneca0 1 day ago 2 replies      
What does this mean for rkt?
8
gtirloni 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's a little difficult to keep track of all the activity happening in the container area. The runC repo's history begins in June 2014? I believe rkt was announced in Dec 2014, right?
9
bjt 1 day ago 2 replies      
The sample manifest at https://github.com/opencontainers/runc makes it look like you just specify a big list of mounts, rather than it supporting the higher level concept of overlayed layers that both Docker and appc support.

Are layers not part of the opencontainers spec, or is the sample just missing that bit?

10
wereHamster 1 day ago 1 reply      
What's the relation between RunC and the AppContainer spec?
11
api 1 day ago 4 replies      
What we're seeing emerge here is a new universal binary format.

I've thought of Docker containers for a long time as gigantic statically linked binaries. This isn't necessarily a bad thing (though it does present issues). In some ways the process of installing the different moving pieces of a service and configuring them is a bit like manually "linking" something -- sub-services like MySQL, Redis, etc. are analogous to libraries.

Now what we're seeing is a runtime for this binary being ported around to different platforms. This could get interesting.

12
atonse 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great to see that AppC is joining too. That was going to be a weird splinter otherwise.
13
haosdent 1 day ago 1 reply      
runC is libcontainer.....
Commit messages are not titles antirez.com
221 points by cocoflunchy  1 day ago   163 comments top 42
1
stared 1 day ago 6 replies      
Dots, periods or starting with caps - it makes no difference (except for aesthetics, perhaps.) What does (or at least: did for me) is Angular-style commit messages: https://github.com/angular/angular.js/blob/master/CONTRIBUTI....

> <type>(<scope>): <subject>

> [...]

> feat: A new feature

> fix: A bug fix

> docs: Documentation only changes

> style: Changes that do not affect the meaning of the code (white-space, formatting, missing semi-colons, etc)

> refactor: A code change that neither fixes a bug or adds a feature

> perf: A code change that improves performance

> test: Adding missing tests

> chore: Changes to the build process or auxiliary tools and libraries such as documentation generation

There is a big difference in knowing if someone added a feature, fixed something, or did some refactoring.

2
kashyapc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Speaking of Git commit messages, it's worth pointing out this wiki[1], written and reviewed by some long time open source contributors. It's a bit verbose, but rewarding to the patient reader.

On writing Git commit subject lines, I've come to appreciate why the imperative mood is nicer (as opposed to the and indicative mood). Some related reasoning here[2].

[1] https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/GitCommitMessages[2] http://chris.beams.io/posts/git-commit/

3
BillinghamJ 1 day ago 13 replies      
Does anyone actually care whether commit messages contain a period or not? If they're lower case, title case, sentence case, it's completely irrelevant
4
knocte 1 day ago 1 reply      
As for me, I don't care about the style at all.

What I care is about the content. And the thing I hate the most are commit messages that explain the what, but not the why! (It's the equivalent to comments in the code that explain something obvious.) To me, this kind of commit messages express the same as if there was no commit message.

5
strictfp 1 day ago 2 replies      
Oh god, another commit message discussion.

It's funny how the ones who contribute the least to the functionality have the most outspoken opinions on commit messages. Perhaps it's easier to be puritan when you only handle trivial code changes.

I prefer productive people with messy commit messages over pedantic people with meticolous commit messages any day.

The picky ones usually refuse to touch anything surrounding their particular feature and end up increasing code complexity with every commit, whereas the productive people massage the code into the best possible state as they go along.

6
buster 1 day ago 2 replies      
Regardless of my opinion about this subject, i always find it good to see when people try to think out of the box.Nowadays most people just follow what is the current hype:

yeah, let's do semver! And it HAS TO BE react, agile and also it must be in Git, because... yeah, because what? Did you as a developer really think why you are following a certain practice and if it is beneficial to your project at hand? Most people don't. They just do what John Doe posts on his hipster blog about Web3.0.

7
chrisan 1 day ago 1 reply      
I really like bitbucket and JIRA for this in a business use case.

We use the format "JIRA-XXX commit message/title/synopsis/whatever you wish to call it" where JIRA is our project name in JIRA and XXX is the ticket number. Bitbucket then can turn that into a link to your JIRA project

All of the who/what/why is already in the JIRA ticket as more often than not there are non-coders who have input/insight around the issue. When I am looking at the commit log I see a brief summary and if I need more details I can go to JIRA and get the full history with screenshots, designs, reproducible steps, business cases, etc.

Another side effect of this is, when someone is searching in JIRA and finds a ticket they can easily see all of the commits related to that ticket. This also works with Github

The commit becomes simply the "how" "JIRA-XXX brief desc" was implemented

8
emodendroket 1 day ago 0 replies      
Way too much energy to expend on worrying about this.

I put Github issue numbers into my commits because I use Github. Anything is fine if you're consistent.

9
VeejayRampay 1 day ago 1 reply      
The first comment under the post is frankly outrageous.

This is precisely the reason why the rest of the world abhors programmers and the software community. Random strangers contributing nothing to the debate but their angry and immature bile. No wonder content creators are disabling comments one after another, why wouldn't you?

10
nandemo 1 day ago 1 reply      
In a previous gig, we had a simple rule: there must be a ticket number with a certain format at the beginning of the commit message. A summary follows.

The ticket has pretty much all the info you need, so there's usually no need to write a very detailed commit message.

This essentially mandates tickets for every single commit, which might sound too process heavy for some people, but ticketing was part of our process anyway for other reasons (change management, compliance, etc).

In the rare event that a commit is not originated by a ticket, you can still cheat by writing a fake ticket number.

11
StavrosK 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was recently advised to use the "commit messages are subjects" style, but I get a pang of... something, every time I have to omit the full stop (I always type it out of habit and then press backspace).

I agree completely with Antirez, messages are not subjects or titles, and we should make them as succinct as possible, not force ourselves to write something that leads into a full-text piece only to omit the latter.

If it can fit in one line, make it fit, otherwise summarize the change as well as you can. Our goal should be to have to read the least amount of text to understand what the change is doing, and the hierarchy is: short commit message > long commit message > diff.

12
teh_klev 1 day ago 1 reply      
> How many emails or articles you see with just the subject or the title? Very little, I guess

I hate to go OT and "well actually", but, well actually this is more common that you'd think. I first learned about "subject only" emails back in 1998 and most places I've worked at use them to convey succinct email messages where there's no need for extraneous words in the body. It's a real time saver when you have a busy inbox.

I've also worked in places that "EOM" (or some variant of) their message subjects to be explicit that there's nothing in the body [0].

WRT to the remainder of the article, I don't have any strong feelings either way.

[0]: http://lifehacker.com/5028808/how-eom-makes-your-email-more-...

13
sambe 1 day ago 0 replies      
I also prefer treating them as sentences and prickle at the level of enthusiasm for no dots. In the end consistency with others is more valuable though. However, the article is entirely unconvincing to me, despite being on his side - the removal of a dot and writing succinctly are not mutually exclusive.
14
przemoc 1 day ago 0 replies      
It always felt natural to put this dot at the end of (what antirez nicely called) commit synopsis, so AFAIR I always (or at least since I started using git and when was not forced by particular project's rules to do some other way) put it there and found advices to avoid it quite strange. The only exception (beside forgetting about full stop yet pushing to public repo, it does happen sometimes) I have is when the commit is sole version-bumping/releasing one, because then I usually go with following style

 PROJECT_NAME [v]VERSION
There are some half-broken SCM managers that always display whole commit message (sometimes even without respecting paragraphs) and then such synopsis without full stop yet followed by another sentences looks rather awful. YMMV

As some commenters here already wrote, it's not a grave matter, but it's good to have consistent style. It goes without saying, that having relatively short commit summary in one sentence separated with blank line from further details (if they are necessary) is far more important matter than the period or lack thereof, as it immensely eases groking commit log.

15
callmekatootie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Commit messages need to convey what will happen if you merge that commit in. Plain and simple. That's all that is needed of them. Of course, you need to tag the ticket number (in case you are using Cloud based solutions like Github) but I am more interested in what the changes will do if I merge them in.
16
jgrahamc 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think the body of the commit message is way more important than the title: http://blog.jgc.org/2013/07/write-good-commit-messages.html
17
maxehmookau 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm waiting for the 'Commit messages considered harmful' blog post.
18
zvrba 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about: if your message doesn't fit into a single sentence, the commit is too big. Split it. If it's a huge architectural change merged from another branch, describe it in a separate document referenced in the message.
19
anton_gogolev 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is it me or the entire "Kosher Commit Messages" movement really gained traction with the widespread adoption of DVCSes?

I really cannot recall contributors obsessing that much over SVN, CVS or VSS commit messages. Now, you could change these after the fact, but still.

20
tempodox 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems obvious that inside any given organisation, it makes sense to have a convention regarding the form of commit messages, so you know how to look for certain things.

However, pretending there is a one-size-fits-all rule is taking it too far.

21
hasteur 1 day ago 0 replies      
While I commend the poster's ideals, the method only works in the glass cathedrals model of development. One in which no commit gets made without having followed the process from inception, through requirements gathering, through unpressured development, through appropriate and thorough QA/code review, and deployment. In the street market bazzar you're left with thousands of micro commits that you don't have time to sit down and create an illuminated manuscript page for each commit explaining it's small description, and it's naritive history.
22
overgard 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I think people tend to overthink this. The only thing I need from a commit message is what you did and why you did it. (One might be implicit from the other). If there's more than that, you might be committing too much at once. People hardly ever go over commit history unless something got fucked up, and then those are the things you're interested in. Whenever people get OCD about the form or rules I cringe.
23
m0skit0 1 day ago 1 reply      
We use Redmine and just put the relevant issue number and the title of the issue. If more information is needed, you can go to Redmine to check more details or how to reproduce.
24
VieElm 1 day ago 1 reply      
The 50 character limit on the first line of a commit message really bugs me. I try to stay within 50 characters but sometimes I don't care. I can't always fit what I want in 50 chars and adding a second line can be too much. This is the worst kind of thing around tooling, these types of conventions, in this case because that's how Torvald's wants kernel git commits formatted. I am not committing to anything Torvald's cares about.
25
silveira 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is what I'm using now: http://seesparkbox.com/foundry/semantic_commit_messages.

chore: add Oyster build script

docs: explain hat wobble

feat: add beta sequence

fix: remove broken confirmation message

refactor: share logic between 4d3d3d3 and flarhgunnstow

style: convert tabs to spaces

test: ensure Tayne retains clothing

26
P4u1 1 day ago 0 replies      
At our company we use a svn hook with Jira, so all commit messages must contain a valid Jira issue ID which contains a detailed explanation of the commit itself. So our messages are always like: PROJ-0001 I did this.IMO does the job and is much easier for the developers.
27
velco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Right. Commit messages are not titles.

Commit messages ought to consist of a title, followed by an empty line and a short(-ish) summary.

28
doe88 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the two most important rules are:

1- The first line should give a good description of the commit

2- Avoid long lines (reading truncated commit messages is painful)

Other than that I think it's all common sense/good judgment and I'm not attached to a particular writing style or kind of sentences one should make.

29
macu 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I perceive the condensed sentence fragment (as requested for Angular) as a conceptual gist, which is all it really is (a few words to suggest the bigger picture), not a title (each commit is identified by its hash).
30
LoSboccacc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Linus on good git comments: https://gist.github.com/matthewhudson/1475276

The first line is special for a reason, it makes shortlog clean and clear.

31
scottjad 1 day ago 1 reply      
An option for git or magit that would automatically look at recent commits and maybe capitalize or add a period to my commit message so that it is consistent with the majority of the commits for the project would be nice.

Does something like that exist?

32
necrodawg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Commit messages are like tabs and spaces. However you write them, keep them the same across your repository.

But obviously lower case, present tense, no dot, 50 char limit, and usually starting with add/fix/refactor/update/remove is the way to go. ;)

33
fapjacks 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I ALWAYS commit message like this:

<action>: <brief explanation>

For example like this:

"refactor: tightened for() loop in networking code"

"added: feature #134"

"removed: debug cruft"

"fixed: one-off bug in string parser"

34
jsmthrowaway 1 day ago 1 reply      
When using Git's mail features -- remember, not everyone uses GitHub -- the first line of a commit is a subject line. It's good practice to just think of it that way. If you write sentences in your subject lines in e-mail, I guess, that's up to you. Don't take it from me, read the Tim Pope counterpoint, with eight extremely good reasons for concise subjects in the closing paragraph:

http://tbaggery.com/2008/04/19/a-note-about-git-commit-messa...

Strong disagree with antirez on this one. Even vim filetype gitcommit disagrees. (Try it on the "smart synopsis" example.)

35
nnoitra 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What's your blog theme?So cool and minimalistic.
36
mkawia 1 day ago 0 replies      
my commits are not only titles they are milestones , I have lolcommits installed and pose for the selfie and everything.

Could be because of I am new to git

37
jkot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Commit messages could have titles :-)

Most tools only shows first line of message. Rest of the message can contain whatever you want.

38
jlouis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have the following in my git config for handling these kinds of discussions:

 [jlouis@lady-of-pain ~]$ cat .gitconfig | grep phkphk = commit -a -m 'upd'

39
peterwwillis 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fuck it. From now on, all my first lines will be UTF-8 emoji.
40
Traut 1 day ago 1 reply      
why is this even important?
41
theVirginian 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is it that programmers invariably state their opinions as if they were facts.
42
seanhunter 1 day ago 1 reply      
How can anyone take the author's word on whether or not to put a full stop at the end of something when he puts a full stop at the end of the bullet points in his list? That's far worse usage than anything he's doing in the title/summary/smart synopsis. https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/words/bullet-points
Fourier series codepen.io
239 points by guiambros  1 day ago   47 comments top 23
1
dmvaldman 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Until Kepler, astronomers believed planets to move in circular paths, but this did not match up with experimental data. So it was postulated that they moved in epicycles (circles of circles of circles ..., as pictured in this codepen) of varying radii. This model was able to represent all the data astronomers collected, but did not explain why the radii were what they were.

When Fourier Analysis became a thing 300 years later, it was shown that indeed any periodic function can be modeled with epicycles of certain radii. That this epicycle "model" actually didn't simplify anything! It was an isomorphic way of phrasing the problem, not the solution.

Luckily by then, Kepler had already postulated planets move in ellipses, and Newton proved that even this was the consequence of the law of gravity.

Occam's Razor FTW.

2
jordigh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Huh, so I never though about it this way. The reason you can use epicycles to draw anything is because the trig functions form a complete orthonormal system. Because you can write a Fourier series for any piecewise continuous function, you can also draw Homer Simpson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVuU2YCwHjw

3
burger_moon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's another project that was posted here a while back that goes into details explaining different waveforms with examples. It's titled "SEEING CIRCLES, SINES, AND SIGNALSA COMPACT PRIMER ON DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING". It's really well put together.

http://jackschaedler.github.io/circles-sines-signals/dft_int...

4
725686 1 day ago 1 reply      
A great intro to fourier transforms with same type of animations: http://betterexplained.com/articles/an-interactive-guide-to-...
5
line-o 1 day ago 2 replies      
Wow. Beautiful math. Such insight. Thank you for sharing.

 var PI2 = Math.PI * 2.0;
That should be Math.TAU, right?

6
hemmer 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interestingly that the Gibbs phenomenon appears visually as a whiplash effect. You can see how it would only get worse as higher order terms are included.
7
somberi 1 day ago 2 replies      
One of my favorite questions to Math Candidates, that are potential employees:

In Fourier transform, what is being transformed to what? What is wrong with how it is that it needs to be transformed?

I am amused at the variety of answers this produces.

8
rtpg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love a gif version I saw of this recently, so fascinating.

I think this would be neater if it had a small text field, where you could put in a JS function, and it would do an approximate fourier series based off of a segment of the function.

Kind of feel like someone should make a page that fully explains all the levels of this graphic:

- the circles let you graph f(x)=a*sin(nx+phase) (cosine on the horizontal projection)

- attaching the circles is the same as adding, so you actually have a way of drawing out the first parts of a fourier series

- any periodic function can be represented through all these spinning circles

9
vruiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Woah. Where were all these cool visualizations when I was studying physics?!
10
aswanson 1 day ago 0 replies      
These kinds of visualizations are awesome; I remember a site back in the day during undergrad that helped visualize the fourier components using image processing. I learned so much more from that site than watching a professor scribble out the formulae on a chalkboard.
11
cousin_it 20 hours ago 2 replies      
So wavy, when all I wanted was a straight line! I'd like a series that can approximate not just the values of a function, but all its derivatives as well.
13
agumonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pseudo-Mechanical representations of Fourier series are everywhere these days, it's impressive how dry college math can hide the simplicity of an 'object', composition of rotations, turned into algebra.
14
fnordfnordfnord 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Another, prior art, so to speak. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAsM30MAHLg

A series of four videos detailing the operation of a mechanical computer for plotting Fourier series.

15
joe563323 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is just awesome. Thank you so much. I really wish to view more blog posts by the author of this code. Sadly it has been published as anonymous.
16
jcpst 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very cool. My only concern is if you have a screen with a lower resolution (1366 X 768), the drawer with the source code causes the user controls to be hidden, so it's not immediately obvious that those controls exist.
17
lancefisher 1 day ago 2 replies      
So are people dropping the data- prefix in custom attributes now? e.g. input[frequency]
18
cturhan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is another version[1] made by D3.js

[1] http://bl.ocks.org/jinroh/7524988

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bcheung 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone know how they figured out the coefficients for the Homer Simpson one?
20
bshimmin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd be seriously impressed if someone could do this just using CSS.

(I was pretty impressed already, to be fair.)

21
otoolep 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really cool.
22
mosdave 23 hours ago 0 replies      
damnit this would have been useful in my Signals I course...
23
sotaan 1 day ago 0 replies      
nice work!
The Way Humans Get Electricity Is About to Change bloomberg.com
218 points by chollida1  1 day ago   223 comments top 27
1
cfsc 23 hours ago 20 replies      
This article doesn't mention some serious problems that affect power grids reliant on renewable energies:

1 - The grids becomes vulnerable to the weather. There's no solar energy at night and it's greatly reduced in cloudy days. Wind power is unpredictable and closely matches the output of hydraulic power, so that the two sources can't complement each other. You can check Brazil in recent history to check the effects of droughts in the power grid.In the end there is a need of conventional power plants always ready to backup the grid when the renewable energy is not available.

2 - The majority of losses of the power distribution network are on the last mile, when the voltage is lower and the current is higher. If every house and electric car become consumers and providers to the grid, most power movements occur in the low voltage networks. There's also the issue of batteries storing energy for later consumption. Lithium batteries have a 80%-90% efficiency storing energy.

3 - Since we are talking of the environment, rare earth metals have a very pollutant and energy intensive extraction process which in most cases is not accounted in the environmental cost of solar panels.

Replacing the majority of energy production by renewable energies will result in an net efficiency loss. I would rather support a balanced production with nuclear (fusion?) power plants providing the fixed needs of the grid and renewable energies making up the rest.

2
cmsmith 1 day ago 7 replies      
This article does a pretty good job of synthesizing why I'm fairly optimistic about climate change despite believing the scientific models. I think that there is an austerity/flagellant meme within environmental circles that states that we have sinned against the environment, and unless the solution involves a heroic self-sacrifice (a la Kyoto protocol) then we cannot be saved.

In reality, all power is solar power, and innovation and market forces will eventually make it more efficient to skip the fossil-fuel middleman. The process could be accelerated by a carbon tax, but it will happen either way.

Responding to the 'Climate is still screwed' point, once we're on track to stabilizing emissions, geo-engineering methods that were dismissed as stopgaps can always be used to hold the climate over for the next century.

3
ThePhysicist 23 hours ago 1 reply      
As others have already pointed out, the article contains a lot of handwaving arguments and seemingly inaccurate claims.

So, for anyone interested in a more thorough and quantitative discussion of the problem I highly recommend David MacKay's book "Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air", which is available for free online:

http://www.withouthotair.com/

It contains detailed discussions of many of the problems that we would face when shifting our energy production to renewable sources and decentralizing it, and he provides a lot of data and calculations to give you a feeling of how to overcome them.

4
titzer 21 hours ago 0 replies      
How to lie with graphs: use a log/log plot. In this article the GDP/capita vs the energy consumed/GDP. I know they did this to cram a lot of data onto one compact space, but it's very misleading. Overall the trend is to the lower right, which sounds great, and it's mostly straight lines. But on a log/log plot, all polynomials are straight lines.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Log%E2%80%93log_plot

Second, the energy consumed per capita is not _going down_, it's actually still going up--it's just going up slower than GDP. The fact that GDP keeps going up would also seem to be a good thing, but it isn't always, e.g. if the economy is producing superfluous goods that don't actually improve the quality of life, and if life demands ever more services for basic necessities, this is also not a win.

The simple fact remains that the total resource consumption per person is still rising. And the population is still rising, too.

5
inetsee 1 day ago 3 replies      
The article was so optimistic, right up until the sixth section: "The Climate Is Still Screwed".
6
tdees40 23 hours ago 2 replies      
My problem with all of this is that, as renewables get cheaper, people use less fossil fuels. But this drives the price of fossil fuels down. Eventually all you're extracting is the low-hanging fruit that can be pulled out of the ground very cheaply and running tight margins on it. So you have kind of a vicious cycle. Meanwhile most people just assume that fossil fuel prices will increase inexorably. I doubt it.

In other words, absent regulation keeping fossil fuel costs high (carbon tax!), I think the shift to renewables will take longer than the optimists think.

8
lspears 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I work at ShaleApps http://shaleapps.com/ a Oil and Gas focused start up in West Virginia. Investment in the industry is plummeting because of low oil prices. The price of oil is around $60 a barrel right now, but the oil sands in North Dakota and Canada are only profitable at >$100. Coal is getting killed in the US for regulator reasons, but I don't see why other countries would make the massive investment to switch to natural gas. I think coal will like be seen as the "bridge fuel" by later generations.
9
netcan 23 hours ago 4 replies      
A question for one of you build-it types.

For large scale energy storage, what's wrong with pumping water up high and then making electricity on the way down. IE, make a dam. Make electricity at night. Refill the top part during the day.

10
sravfeyn 23 hours ago 6 replies      
This might be one of the most trivial questions, but I always tried to find the answer, failing always.

How is it that Solar energy is 'clean' and 'renewable', (or for that matter, any natural source of energy that plays a significant role on earth ecology), for if we make use of solar energy, will it not break the environmental equilibrium (temperatures, weather patterns etc) thereby making it 'unclean'? I see that using solar energy doesn't create any direct poisonous residue, but what about the unintended indirect effects? Did researchers already prove that there won'e be any effects or that the effects are far less significant than existing energy sources? (I would like to read actual research, apart from opinions/thoughts)

11
netcan 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Oil is constantly underestimated. Underestimated hopefully in most cases but underestimated nonetheless.

A - Demand for oil is notoriously inelastic. If demand drops a little, a big shift in price will "compensate." If solar starts genuinely digging into oil's market share the oil prices will drop by a lot, fast until almost the same amount of oil gets bought as before. Whatever you are assuming is the "cheaper than oil" flip point, is very likely to be too optimistic. It is likely to just be cheaper than the most expensive marginal 5%.

This is inherently speculative because economics and because real marginal costs of oil production are closely guarded secrets, but over the last 50+ years this has usually been correct. This isn't disruptive tech land where the cheaper-worser becomes the cheaper-better and wins total victory. This is substitutable commodity land where prices drop like rocks but total volume produced barely moves.

^Much cheaper power for slightly less carbon is still a good thing, but more on the prosperity front than the climate change front.

B - There is a lot of oil down there. Even "dry" wells are usually only slightly drier than they were when we started drilling them. We just got the easy oil out and then stopped. FInding oil really means finding "accessible" oil. Our methods of finding and our methods of accessing are technology too. It's advancing, like solar tech is.

This is what "fraking" is. It's a new way of accessing.

C - Speaking of fraking It's only just begun, probably. It's happening in the states because that's where it happens to have been invented. There is no reason to think that it is not equally applicable in Russia, S. America, the Persian Gulf or anywhere else with oil.

I like the elegance of solar though, and I hope it succeeds. Decentralization seems like it can take a big part of the residential market. In rich countries, a lot of people can afford it and with between incentives, people's general interest and the real estate value (people like investing in their home), it seems like it will have a good run.

In poor and/or dysfunctional places, going off grid is always a favored option. Solar power can do what mobile phone did. Anything that relies on less infrastructure is more suitable for these places. This is an especially attractive idea. Mobile phones/modems mean that phone infrastructure is much easier to come by. Solar + battery could mean the same for electricity. Add in rainwater + home purification systems (progress here too) and all we'll need is hover cars to deal with potholes.

12
hyperion2010 1 day ago 2 replies      
Decentralized solar might work in some places, but we have a long, long way to go before our existing grid can start to make use of it. We still need old school generating capacity (read: nuclear) to serve peak demand.

The other reason solar has become so attractive is because the spinup time is so much lower than for other traditional sources.

13
traviswingo 23 hours ago 0 replies      
With a combination of solar and energy storage overall consumption and demand can drop dramatically. Intelligent storage systems can curb demand and drastically reduce carbon footprint. I'm surprised that wasn't mentioned in the rift about cheap rooftop solar.
14
matdrewin 1 day ago 1 reply      
It'll be a while before it is cheaper than the hydro-electricity we generate here in Quebec.

But yeah, anywhere else it makes sense. Also wonder how cost effective it is in harsh climates where there is less sun.

15
TheSpiceIsLife 21 hours ago 0 replies      
From the article:

> So even as people rise from poverty to middle class faster than ever, BNEF predicts that global electricity consumption will remain relatively flat. In the next 25 years, global demand will grow about 1.8 percent a year, compared with 3 percent a year from 1990 to 2012. In wealthy OECD countries, power demand will actually decline.

The doubling time at 1.8% per year is 39 years.

This must be some alternate definition of the term 'flat' I was previously unaware of.

16
gameshot911 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Re: the essentially unavoidable coming climate change - Perhaps it will be the impetus to learn how to control the climate, knowledge which in turn could be applied to making Mars more habitable? Just fanciful pondering, but cool to think about nonetheless (while also recognizing that for that impetus to exist, we're going to go through some rough times climate-wise for a while).
17
txu 1 day ago 1 reply      
"The lifetime cost of a photovoltaic solar-power plant will drop by almost half over the next 25 years".

Can someone explain how big of an impact this is?

18
cmsmith 1 day ago 3 replies      
1. 3/4 of energy usage is outside the transportation sector.

2. If we switch 3/4 of energy production away from fossil fuels, that will make a huge dent and make renewables even cheaper.

3. Once renewables get cheap enough, it may be cheaper to use a few kWh of solar to produce one kWh of ethanol than it will be to dig 1 kWh of oil out of the ground.

19
autokad 23 hours ago 1 reply      
does anyone else have HUGE issues with their chart? it makes it seem like solar provides something like 20% of the world electricity and hydro electric is not even a mention. meanwhile, as far as I know (wikipedia) solar is only 1% of the worlds total electricity and hydro around 16%
20
badloginagain 23 hours ago 1 reply      
How do we get power at night? Batteries?
21
StronglyTyped 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The governments of the world will allow decentralization only to the point where it starts to cut into the tax proceeds of centralized energy. In the U.S., solar isn't going to move to rooftops, it's going to move to panel arrays on large swaths of government-owned land out west where it can still be metered and taxed.
22
brobdingnagian 21 hours ago 0 replies      
How can you make projections like "between now and 2040" with a straight face? It makes me instantly lose respect for an article attempting to be serious.
23
hngiszmo 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Who else thought the article might be about Skunk Works Fusion Reactor?
24
arca_vorago 1 day ago 1 reply      
My main issue is that electricity prices are not going to reflect the reduction in costs to the consumer, and instead, between stagnant companies fighting decentralization via corruption of local politics and big monopolies taking over, electricity will be high as ever.

A good example is my local town, where the city council are all bought out, don't even rely on the single electricity provider because they live in a different part of the city, but still keep voting on jacking up prices more and more all while the electrical company that was originally a publicly owned company, (pushed private by our congresscritter), is probably the most hated entity in town for it's shady business practices and constant rate hikes.

(For example, last summer they said they underbilled in May, but didn't catch it till June, and then added the new "back-owed" charges at the new rates in July, one of the hottest times of the year, handily raking in tons more money than they would have. No one did a thing because all our politicians are corrupt. Of course this is in one of the most conservative towns in America, where everyone pays jingoistic lip-service to "family values" like "honesty", but when it really comes down to it we're just as bad as the beltway.)

25
fapjacks 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Hasn't it been on the verge of changing forever forever?
26
breakyerself 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Not fast enough!
27
graycat 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Okay, let's consider some of that:

First, sure, for the usual renewables,need either storage or transmission linesacross continents and/or oceans. So,assume renewables need storage.

=== Home Batteries?

For residential electric power,why have home batteries instead ofgrid batteries? Likely grid batterieswill be cheaper due to economy ofscale and also, due to parallelismand better engineering and maintenance,better reliability.

=== Wholesale Electric Prices

We need to keep in mind, for someone inthe US paying their local electric utility12 cents per KWh, that the wholesale priceon the grid is surprisingly low. E.g., at

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/update/wholesale_mark...

can see that the wholesale price is often,depending on geographic location and time,ballpark 1-2 cents per KWh.

That's a current reference, but as Irecall not so many years ago the wholesaleprice was commonly 0.5 cents per KWh.

Lesson: In the US, electric power, theactual power itself, as generated, at theplant, and ready to put on the grid, issurprisingly cheap. So, talking aboutsomething cheaper has some challenges.

So where does the rest of the 12 cents go?Sure, to running the grid.

=== Charging for a Grid Connection

So, basically, assuming the wholesaleprice of 2 cents per KWh, for an electricbill of $100 at 12 cents per KWh,

 (10/12) * 100 = 83.33
dollars are for basically just the gridconnection alone.

So, if you tell your electric company thatyou want to use their power only whenthere is two feet of snow on your roof,then they will have their public utilitycommission let them tell you that, fine,and now, the good news, your cost ofelectricity is reduced from 12 cents perKWh to 2 cents per KWh but, the bad news,there is now a flat fee of $83.33 permonth for just the grid connection itself.

Else, ballpark, the electric company losesmoney, and the public utility commissiondoesn't much like that.

=== Rugged Rooftop Solar

Roof-top solar will need to be morereliable than asphalt shingles or willneed to be replaced, say, each 10 yearsdue just to wind and weather.

Just the labor cost for the replacementwill be significant even if the panels arejust dirt cheap. If they are cheaper thanasphalt shingles -- terrific! Somehow Idoubt that rooftop solar panels will becheaper per square foot than shingles; askthe shingle guys -- I doubt that they areworried!

Gotta keep those solar panels in goodshape. So, ballpark need a new roof each,maybe, 10 years.

=== Off the Grid!

Suppose want to have no grid connection atall. Four issues:

(1) If want electric cars, then need oneheck of a slug of electric power and thegrid again. Else get to drive forgroceries maybe once a month. Look up thearithmetic -- e.g., for charging stations,we're talking megawatts.

(2) I'm skeptical that rooftop solar candrive whole house A/C in warm climates.Then, what about the standard summerafternoon thunder storms -- the A/C willbe pulling one heck of a load out of thebatteries.

Uh, a lot of the load on A/C is not tocool the air but just to condense thehumidity as the air cools and keep thehumidity nicely below 100%. So, even ifthe thunder storms cool the air, the A/Cstill has to remove humidity.

Sure, a totally sealed up house, no airleaks at all, an air to air heatexchanger, special windows, fantasticinsulation, etc. can work wonders (if youare not over a radon source), but only atiny fraction of houses were built thatway.

(3) How to heat the house in the winter,say, the snow last winter in Boston? Nosunlight to the solar panels for days.So, no electric power even to drive thepump for burning fuel oil.

(4) If want electric heat in the winter(and I believe we should hope for that),then will need the grid again, at leastwhen have two feet of snow on the solarpanels. Then for the grid, will be backto that $83.33 a month fixed charge forthe grid connection.

=== Cover the US SW

So. sure, cover the US SW with solarpanels. Also put wind turbines on theRockies, all over Kansas, etc.

Assume all this is for free, both capexand opex.

Now, what will the batteries cost?

And the conversions between DC and AC?

Net, we need to hear about not just cheapsolar panels but about a lot of reallycheap batteries.

Also we're talking paying for thosebatteries -- capex plus opex -- withballpark 1 cent per KWh, maybe less, inwholesale electric prices.

=== Tests

To me, the OP fails both the sniff testand the giggle test.

=== The Hidden Agenda

So, what's really going on?

I smell carbon taxes and, net, higherelectric bills. No thanks.

=== High Speed Trains

Japan has high speed trains. So do theChinese. So does France. Just get onboard and zip to your destination --clean, modern, quiet, smooth, comfortable,fast, safe. Right?

Wouldn't you really like to see lots ofhigh speed trains, a nice grid, connectingall the important US cities? Pride of theUS! Great for the US infrastructure!Benefits beyond ability to count! Changeseverything! Why have we waited so long?

If China can build high speed trains, thensurely US engineering can also. Is theresomething wrong with US engineering; doesit need to catch up with China? Do weneed to wake up US engineering? Why doesthe US want to fall behind China?

What to do with the carbon taxes? Sure,high speed trains, general revenues, etc.

=== Cost/Benefit Analysis

Of course, there are problems with the USFederal Government building high speedtrains: About 100 years ago a lot ofpeople saw that could build big waterresource projects and make the desertbloom.

So, smart real estate entrepreneurs, buyup some cheap desert land, have the Fedsbuild a big water resource project, makethe desert bloom and that land valuable,sell the land, and retire rich, all fromthe generosity of the US taxpayers.

Well, that situation, I didn't actuallycall it a scam, was the case a few timestoo often, and then a law was passed about"cost/benefit analysis". Before such aproject, had to add up all the costs andall the benefits "to whomsoever they mayaccrue" and have the benefits bigger thanthe costs.

Presto. Bingo. Right away that littleratio killed off nearly all the Fed fundedwater resource projects.

For high speed trains? In the US, nearlyall projects for public transportation ofpeople lose buckets of money and would geta grade of flat F on any reasonablecost/benefit analysis. Indeed, in acourse I took, the optimal decision forthe Baltimore subway, already built andready to roll, was just to brick up theentrances and f'get about it because, evencounting the capex as $0.00, the projectfailed cost/benefit just from the opex.

States and cities can fund high speedtrains, but the Feds can't.

=== Summary

The OP is not about solar panels. Insteadit's about something it never mentions --carbon taxes.

Watch your wallet.

Columbia becomes the first US university to divest from private prison companies qz.com
219 points by shill  14 hours ago   56 comments top 9
1
Blackthorn 11 hours ago 4 replies      
While this is great news, I challenge Columbia to do one better.

My own alma mater, Bard College, created a program called the Bard Prison Initiative. This program teaches college courses for college credit to incarcerated prisoners in the state of New York, ultimately awarding either Associates or Bachelors degrees from Bard College. Education for prisoners is important from both a moral and economic perspective, dramatically reducing recidivism as well as saving money (a $1 investment in prison education reduces incarceration costs by $3-$4 in the first three years of an inmate's release[1]).

This is a great first step but it is not enough to simply not support the prison industry. There are proven steps that can be taken here to reduce recidivism and help society. Despite this, the Bard Prison Initiative is chronically underfunded despite support by governor Cuomo due to politicians not wanting to appear soft on crime. Columbia is a much wealthier university than Bard College, so I challenge them to join Bard in their initiative.

[1] http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-and-education-departme...

2
jflatow 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting article, but the first graph is one of the most blatantly misleading charts I have seen in a long time. Showing two graphs overlapping on completely different scales is a really nasty trick.
3
andrewstuart 11 hours ago 2 replies      
If the futile and counter productive prohibition of drugs comes to an end then all those prisons won't be needed.
4
slg 10 hours ago 2 replies      
While I admire the motivation, everything I have seen has stated divestment doesn't have much of an economic impact. If these companies are profitable, they will still be profitable. In fact, the profits will end up being concentrated with less morally minded investors, which can make the problem even worse. A moral stockholder can help drive the company in a moral direction. However if the only stockholders left put profit above all other motivations, the company has less and less incentive to make morally sound decisions.
5
wahsd 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
The thing about this is that as long as there is a private prison industry, or really any privatization of fundamental government functions, that makes profits, there will be investors that will replace anyone who makes some moral investment decisions.

I laud their efforts and there really should be more of these ethical decisions in investment by public organizations, but reality is those choices are simply a symptom of moral people compensating for the moral depravity of our own government.

6
chrisgd 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't understand why this matters? In every transaction, there is a buyer and a seller. Even if Columbia divests, someone else is buying in.

The bigger impact is if no one buys newly issued equity.

The biggest impact is stopping them from collecting revenue, i.e. stopping the government from having privately run, for-profit prisons.

7
cperkins 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice work, Colombia. I hope that others follow suit.

And maybe the awareness around this issue will then lead to a discussion of the high human cost of the War on Drugs, the greatest burden borne by our citizens of color. And maybe that will cause us to revisit our criminal justice system and end the war on drugs.

Private prisons are a symptom, not a cause. For a better understanding of the forces leading to prison privitization and a myriad of other woes and injustices I _strongly_ recommend reading "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander.

8
dsinsky 10 hours ago 6 replies      
Is there any reason to believe that private prisons are significantly worse than publicly run prisons?

I agree that the U.S. is badly in need of major reforms in its criminal justice system, but is there any reason to believe that society is better off with exclusively publicly run prisons?

Private prisons may do some regrettable lobbying on behalf of longer prison sentences, but I'm pretty sure that the corrections officers unions (most of whose membership works in publicly run prisons) is a far stronger political force.

It seems as though the students' activist energy would have been better used fighting the policies of mass incarceration rather than the private companies who do the government's bidding in applying them.

9
tempodox 3 hours ago 0 replies      
That makes a Plus in my book for Columbia. And I thank the students who set this in motion with their protests.
Google Play Music free, ad-supported radio officialandroid.blogspot.com
218 points by spankalee  22 hours ago   173 comments top 36
1
Someone1234 21 hours ago 12 replies      
This is a nice additional option, but I won't be cancelling my subscription. I hate ads.

What I want to see from Google Play Music (aside from a name change) is:

- Keep improving music discoverability. It has become better, but could be further improved.

- Family plan. I want to pay $15/month and give it to my wife and kid.

- Fix the strange YouTube bug, where if I hit pause on Play Music, and then start a YouTube video within a few seconds I get an error telling me I am already playing media on that device (or similar). What does YouTube have to do with Google Play Music anyway? YouTube is ad supported, Google Play isn't. There is no cross-over. This issue shouldn't be a "thing." Plus I might be watching a YouTube video muted and listening to music (yes, people do that!).

- The new interface is arguably a step backwards (just like every Google Maps update). You keep "simplifying" away functionality.

- The offline playback stuff continues to be pretty clunky to set up. If I know I am going on a road trip and will be driving out of range, actually adding that music to the device is a huge pain, and often the easiest way is just to leave the device playing music for days and let it build up a cache. Horrible.

2
jakebasile 22 hours ago 4 replies      
I enjoy Google Play Music and use it daily (the paid version). I prefer it over Spotify/Rdio/Beats because it works better with Google Now voice actions, and I can run it well on every device I care to.

My remaining problem with it is their device limit. You can have 10 total devices, but you can deauthorize only 4 per year. This sounds like a lot but if you switch phones often or flash new ROMs you can use it up pretty quickly. In addition, if you upload music to the service the computer you use counts as a device. Once you're at your limit there's little you can do and you have no information on when you'll get a device deauthorization "credit" again. I had to call Google to get a one-time reset of my authorizations but it would be nice if they could modernize this some; such as by only using an authorization if you download music to the device for offline listening.

3
neves 21 hours ago 2 replies      
My Google play killer feature happened other day and wasn't even announced. They increased the amount of music you can store from 20.000 to 50.000. I have a very large collection of independent Brazilian music. You can't find these kind of music in any streaming service. Now I can have a cloud backup of all my music for free! And I also can here it anywhere. I even bought a new CD reader and resumed to rip my music collection.

My great fear of these services is that you will have a less diverse music ecosystem. Sure the average Anglo-American listener has a lot more options, but if you want to learn about other cultures, you are toast.

4
andmarios 21 hours ago 2 replies      
A bit offtopic but I am a Google Play Music subscriber. I switched to them over Spotify because they had a much better UI and UX. I use these music services at the radio mode mostly and I am pretty sure Spotify's designers primary concern was how to make users' experience miserable.

Unfortunately Google seems to follow the trend nowadays. Take for example the Play Music Radio Page. There is a list with photos and titles of my favorite songs. For every song there are 4 links, one on the thumbnail, one on the play button inside the thumbnail, one on the title of the song and one under the thumbnail that opens a menu with additional options. The thing is that none of these links and options plays the song displayed. Clicking on the song's title, plays an entirely different song!

Even worse and I think this may indicates the absence of serious dogfooding, is that I can't anymore select text on the page. Same did spotify. So I can't play the song and I can't copy-paste its title in the search bar. Instead I either have to type the title manually or go and search my library.

5
mrinterweb 21 hours ago 9 replies      
My main issue with Google Play Music is that they don't have a desktop app. I wouldn't even care if their desktop app was a wrapper around their HTML player. I just want keyboard music controls from my desktop and the ability to Cmd+Tab to the music app instead of hunting down the browser tab. Without a desktop app, using Google Play Music is disruptive to my workflow.
6
infinitone 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Is there a full in depth comparison between all these streaming services? I use Spotify, but I'd like to know if I should switch- the main feature I'm looking for is better recommendations/discovery. Also it'd be nice to see actual # of songs each of these services actually have.
7
dimino 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Why is it always a surprise to folks that Google Play Music exists? Everyone talks about Pandora, Spotify, Apple, or Amazon, but Google Play Music is never in the conversation.

I use it and it's great.

8
whatok 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Being able to upload your own music has been the only reason why I use this. I have a lot of mixes that aren't commercially available so this is basically the only way I can listen to them without having the actual MP3s on whatever device I happen to be using.
9
ericdykstra 20 hours ago 7 replies      
I will never pay for one of these music streaming services.

You would think in a time when basic necessities are extremely cheap for a significant portion of the world population, people would be more willing to spend money on art. But instead, the vast majority would rather get something for free than pay for it. And the people who pay the $10/month for the convenience of Spotify or Google Play Music or Apple's music product don't care that only pennies of that actually goes to the artists.

All that the shift to all-you-can-eat streaming services has done is make it so that people feel they don't need to buy music (since they're paying for the right to stream any time, there's no value in purchasing a copy) and shift where the money goes away from artists.

I'm going to stick with supporting musicians directly, and do what I can to let people know that it's not that hard to do the same, and that artists appreciate even a little bit of support a LOT.

10
simon_weber 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what this means for the folks using unofficial clients? I know there are clients for Mopidy and Squeezebox built with https://github.com/simon-weber/gmusicapi.
11
Mahn 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I've been considering subscribing to a music service lately, but there are so many nowadays that I have honestly no idea how to decide. For those of you with experience in this area, what criteria would you recommend? what should I look for, other than the music itself?
12
tosseraccount 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatever happened to Icecast, Shoutcast and just listening to a stream from a radio station?
13
GI_Josh 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Now that a portion of the service is going free, I'm interested to see if they start to add offerings to the paid, all access tier. As a paying monthly customer, I'd love to have the option to enable lossless streaming, for example.
14
rip747 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Been an iHeartRadio fan for a few months now. Love the fact that they normal only play an ad when you first load it and thats it (and usually its an AllState ad with Dean Winters who was AWESOME in Oz).

Never really gave Google Play Music a shot since, quite honestly, no one every talks about it. I've tried Pandora and Spotify and they weren't all that great. Well Pandora was only good because if you install AdBlock you never got ads. I'll have to try it out and see if maybe a switch is in my future.

15
hedgew 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The main reason I won't use Google Music is the lack of playlist folders. There's no way to organize playlists, and the player becomes quite unusable if you have even a few dozen playlists.

I'm surely not the only one who likes making and sharing playlists for different moods and occasions. It would be interesting to know why such a simple yet important feature is missing.

16
sytelus 17 hours ago 0 replies      
What I would really like to see is some standards to share your preferences, ratings and playlists among music services. Pandora and most other services locks you down and won't let you get your data. I think Google has great opportunity to be different here.
17
albatross_down 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Is anyone else extremely annoyed by the album art animation? The animation zooms in so far that you can only see half of the album, which defeats the purpose.
18
hobarrera 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"free" and "ad-supported" are mutually exclusive if you ask me.
19
omouse 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there a reason why no one has tried to add 10 to 30 second spots to these streaming services? Is the temptation to have ad spots after every song too great to resist? Or are ad spots just too hard to measure and often times ineffective?
20
Yuioup 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"Free, ad-supported radio".

You mean like ... real radio right?

21
astaroth360 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Ha, awesome, hopefully this takes any wind that was there out of Apple's sails(and sales), heh. Once again, Apple puts out a feature 5 years late and is praised...
22
fenomas 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately still region locked where I am (Japan).

All the other various streaming services seem to work here - I wonder what the issue is for Google's?

23
baggachipz 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd gladly switch to this service if they didn't count it against my data allotment in Project Fi.
24
guelo 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It's smart marketing to have an announcement this week to steal some of Apple's free press.
25
zatkin 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The competition for music is heating up!
26
GI_Josh 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This exists, and is called Google Play Music All Access.
27
guelo 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been listening for an hour and haven't heard an ad. Weird.
28
0xFFC 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally I prefer Spotify over Google Play Music or Apple Music, I don't know, I really care about startups and I think Google and Apple becoming to a hungry companies which eats other ones idea with their unlimited budget.
29
mizzack 21 hours ago 1 reply      
These activity based stations/playlists are all available on Songza... Which, by the way, is free and ad-free. Not sure what I'm missing, here.
30
guelo 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Do they have Taylor Swift's stuff?
31
NoMoreNicksLeft 18 hours ago 0 replies      
The comments here are interesting.

They're from a bunch of people complaining about this or that issue/concern/worry/gripe from Play and a few of its competitors... but it seems like it never occurs to anyone that it's not 1958 anymore. You don't have to be a passive consumer that has to put up with this shit.

I run a Plex server at home, I can stream my music anywhere. I've even had a little luck streaming actual FM radio stations the same way (I haven't found one yet that doesn't do http streaming on their website, and if you extract those links and add them to Plex...).

32
thekevan 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Unless I'm missing something, this pretty much makes it a Pandora clone.
33
aikah 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Yay , more micro dollars for artists ...
34
Animats 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone working on an ad blocker?
35
makeitsuckless 21 hours ago 2 replies      
ad supported <> free

I wish people would stop echoing that. It would make it so much more possible to have a meaningful discourse about ad supported business models. We don't call anything else that requires something in return "free"

36
gress 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Google announces me too...
AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming during customers free trial period twitter.com
251 points by jflowers45  2 days ago   137 comments top 26
1
JohnTHaller 2 days ago 1 reply      
Eddy Cue clarified that artists will not be paid at the streaming rate they are paid during users paid memberships. They will be paid at a different rate that isn't being disclosed:http://recode.net/2015/06/21/apple-says-it-will-pay-taylor-s...

Also: "Cue says Apple will keep the existing royalty rates it has already hammered out with the three major music labels for subscribers."

2
batmanthehorse 2 days ago 3 replies      
First sentence of her letter was "I write this to explain why Ill be holding back my album, 1989, from the new streaming service, Apple Music."

So now, she needs to allow it on Apple Music or she'll look like a jerk. Apple will have this album that no other streaming service has, and they got a ton of press for it.

Probably worked out pretty well for them.

3
ghshephard 2 days ago 8 replies      
The extraordinarily cynical side of me wonders if this is all just a massive co-branding PR exercise to dominate the news cycle with "Taylor Swift", "Apple", "Free Music", "Apple Music." Highly unlikely because it's not the type of underhanded marketing that Apple engages in, but man - All I've been reading about, seeing in my twitter feed, is talk about the 90 Day free Music Trial with Apple coming up.

This has been far, far better marketing exercise than their WWDC keynote.

4
c-slice 2 days ago 0 replies      
Actually not that surprising, Taylor Swift was featured heavily in Apple's promo video (first album art featured), so clearly contracts were in place. TS was Apple's secret weapon and could be a key differentiator from Spotify. (TS has no music on Spotify.) I think TS was in a really good bargaining position. If she had pulled out, it would have been a big loss for Apple Music. Smart Move.
5
timothya 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good for Apple. It's too bad it needed a really high profile artist to come out against it, but I'm glad they could listen and make the right choice.

Taylor Swift has previously not put her music on other streaming services (despite them paying artists during the trial period); I wonder if she'll consider Apple Music for streaming now that they've changed their terms on this point (and if she does, will she also put her music on other streaming services?).

6
ekianjo 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Apple will always make sure Artists are Paid

You mean, except until yesterday where your plans said otherwise ? :)

7
doctoboggan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised and impressed with how quickly Apple did this about-face. I am also a little surprised that twitter was the medium they choose to announce it.
8
tfigueroa 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Pay artists" has a lot of room for interpretation. What does that mean? (I work at Pandora, so I see this as an overly simple response.)
9
flashman 2 days ago 0 replies      
This just confirms to me what a big deal Taylor Swift is.

Can anyone remember a time Apple reversed a business decision, or promised to fix some kind of technical issue, this quickly? (Critical security flaws notwithstanding.) Certainly not when Steve 'Hold Different' Jobs was still alive.[1]

[1] http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/24/apple-responds-over-iphon...

10
a-dub 1 day ago 0 replies      
So if I were to sign up for this thing, and only listen to one indie artist, would all the royalty money collected from me go to that artist (and related rightsholders), or would it be the same crap we already have where good ol' Taylor Swift gets a huge cut no matter what thanks to her "network effect"?

None of the press around Apple Music seems to even attempt to explain how the royalty pie is actually cut up, and to me at least, that's by far the most interesting part. (And why this space is ripe for disruption)

11
w4 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well look at that - good on Apple for correcting course and doing the right thing.
12
kdamken 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm really glad to hear that they changed their minds on this one, though it's sad they needed public shaming to do the right thing. Most people don't really appreciate how hard it is to make money with music, nor the insane amount of time and effort that goes into even a single, professional quality song. This isn't a win for the big name, Taylor Swift type artists, but rather the ones she mentioned in her blog post that are just trying to make ends meet, where every penny and possible source of income counts.
13
smegel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish he put ", period." at the end of that Tweet.
14
h_o 2 days ago 0 replies      
Apple must have calculated that her influence potential is greater than the value of if the free streaming wasn't paying the artists.

I mean, she has almost 60M followers on twitter - ~20% of the US' total population.

Now Apple can recalculate and pay them barely just enough to have their original projections corrected. The free press is great - and they'll probably even gain from it!

15
bobbles 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's great that they turned this around so quickly. I guess they realised that having people talking about the service for the music instead of the payment model would be better for them...
16
vermooten 2 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks that the Taylor Swift / Apple thing was just a PR stunt designed to benefit both parties? Free advertising.
17
beaner 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's too bad, larger artists pulling their listings during that period could have given less listened-to artists more promotion.
18
xname 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It's my opinion that music should not be free" - What a capitalist.
19
pablasso 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone has numbers on Apple Music royalties? how do they fare against Spotify, Rdio and the like?
20
pasta_2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Spotify is truly fucked if Apple is going to pay during the free trial AND pay higher overall royalties. When the negotiations come up again with Spotify, who is already running increasing losses, things will just get worse.
21
fezz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cleverly played by Apple and Swift to force Spotify into the bad guy spot.
22
cwyers 2 days ago 0 replies      
http://recode.net/2015/06/15/heres-what-happens-to-your-10-a...

"Apple wont pay music owners anything for the songs that are streamed during Apple Musics three-month trial period, a bone of contention with music labels during negotiations for the new service. But Kondrk says Apples payouts are a few percentage points higher than the industry standard, in part to account for the lengthy trial period; most paid subscription services offer a free one-month trial."

23
aamikalyan 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's what negotiating from the position of strength means.
24
jrlocke 2 days ago 0 replies      
One might say that their previous position was tone deaf
25
tgb29 2 days ago 1 reply      
As long as less money goes into Jay Z'a pocket then I'm happy. I will be a proud subscriber to AppleMusic.
26
bedhead 2 days ago 2 replies      
I really, really lament Apple caving in on this. The deal they had before was perfectly reasonable - everyone's interests were aligned and both sides brought something to the table. Apple wasn't paying royalties during the trial because it makes perfect sense to have a model that says, "you make money when we make money." Besides, we all know that streaming revenues for everyone except the top .1% of artists are largely irrelevant, especially during a mere three month window.

It's obvious that Taylor Swift was motivated by one thing and one thing only: maximizing her own revenue. That's it...and that's fine. But I cannot stand her disingenuous "won't someone think of the children?!" nonsense. It's like LeBron James publicly pleading for the NBA to share more of its revenue so that the younger players can be better off in retirement, while leaving out the fact that he'll personally take 90% of any incremental revenue. Taylor Swift seemed so concerned about other people, but I sure don't see her offering a pay cut or anything. Instead she successfully guilted Apple into paying because they've got a ton of money. Pathetic.

Show HN: Hypatia 0.2, a 2D adventure game engine
181 points by lillian-lemmer  1 day ago   35 comments top 13
1
Arjuna 23 hours ago 1 reply      
First off, Welcome to HN!

This is really cool, and... what an awesome first post! I'm probably biased, but I love seeing game-related "Show HN" posts!

Wishing you all the best!

P.S. dang is one of HN's admins/moderators. dang, if you're out there, a kind request to add "Show HN" to this post, if possible.

@lillian-lemmer, just so you know, the latest "Show HN" posts will surface here: https://news.ycombinator.com/show . This link ("Show") is at the top of the page.

2
reedlaw 1 day ago 3 replies      
I like how this is aimed at beginners (non-programmers). Although I don't think it's really possible for a complete neophyte to pick up this project and make something, it seems like it could become a part of an even more basic course. I find a lot of "beginner" resources make far too many assumptions. Today I was working with some students who had never used a keyboard before and I tried to find a typing tutorial they could use but most of them assumed too much. It's OK to have intermediate resources but they should at least point to more basic information. For example, a typing program is far more useful with a picture of a hand over the keyboard in the home position. It's even better with animation to show the proper fingering.
3
mhink 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This brings back SO many memories of the earliest "programming" I ever did: RPG Maker 2000. The stuff I wrote could barely even be called 'games' (after all, I was about 12 years old), but it's where I first experienced that magical 'spark' where you realize "Oh, MAN. So, you're telling me I can just write down what I want to happen, and the computer will DO it?!"

And from there, the rabbit hole just got deeper and deeper. :)

4
mtrpcic 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any idea of what kind of performance a game framework like this gets on various platforms? I've been curious about PyGame for a long time, but it always felt like it wasn't capable enough for even a moderate indie game. I'd love to see some benchmarks (how big can maps be? How much memory does the average map size take? How many animations can happen on one map at once before things slow down? etc.). I've made game engines as toy projects in the past, and this looks super interesting. Thanks for sharing!
5
zlatan_todoric 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Very interesting at first sight. Brings back memories of good old games :)

Just one suggestion, I think you should avoid the installation scripts for distros, and leave them to package maintainers (I would for example love to see this properly in Debian). Also the windows zip in demo would probably be patched out (maybe you should make it a separate download on your website).

Keep the good work! All best.

6
blingojames 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Loved the general idea and the non-programmer manual.Would also love if it will be ported to http://www.pygame.org/project-Pyjsdl-2888-4709.htmlin the future, so it could be played from browsers.
7
trishume 1 day ago 1 reply      
Neat! I like the idea of having both programmer and non-programmer customizability: it invites collaboration as well as people who start as non-programmers to expand their skills.

Side note: clever website domain (http://about.lillian.link/), I like it. The site itself is nice too, particularly the embedded video of Hypatia is much better than a long description.

8
hundunpao 1 day ago 1 reply      
Adventure and Action Adventure are completely different things in my book.
9
mattisdada 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks good so far! Have a look at unity for inspiration for gui, I've seen plenty of non programers use it very effectively because of how user friendly it is
10
skibz 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Well done on your work so far!
11
zem 20 hours ago 1 reply      
good stuff indeed :) brings back fond memories of that class of game.
12
scott_s 1 day ago 1 reply      
This should be a Show HN. If you can still edit the title, you can put "Show HN:" in the title. https://news.ycombinator.com/showhn.html
13
lnanek2 1 day ago 4 replies      
Doesn't seem to support iOS, so I wouldn't recommend it for any development where you are hoping to earn money, but could be a fun thing to play around with and learn, maybe, I guess.
Hagoromo president explains why he closed down his beloved chalk business nikkei.com
167 points by pwim  8 hours ago   58 comments top 9
1
kvcc01 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
I read the whole letter and loved the tone of it! It jumps at you right away that: (1) Here's a guy who really cares about his business, its future, his employees. (2) He talks candidly about the reasons for closing up: his declining health, sales volumes, even including awkward sentences like "So chalk is more environmentally friendly, I think." I am now a fan of Hagoromo.

It was rather refreshing at a time when I can't stand reading more than a paragraph of a typical press release of a BigCo written by lawyers or PR specialists. Unlike this essay, those are intended to obfuscate, not to inform.

2
kriro 4 hours ago 3 replies      
This whole saga pretty much has to inspire someone to build and reverse engineer the machine/recipe. The overlap of people who like to tinker with this stuff and people who love the chalk seems big enough.

It's also interesting that they seem to be somewhat oblivious of the US demand. At least it seemed like that. My guess is that they could have sold one of the machines to a US based entrepreneur. I can pretty much envision somone making that chalk in a garage and selling it to universities/individuals.

I also think that it's somewhat short sighted to assume procurement by the employer is needed. Especially in "brainy" jobs it's pretty common for people to be willing to spend their own money for tools they use on the job. If my school only provides chalk X I'm pretty much willing to spend some of my own money for the better chalk if I can't change their mind.

Maybe they were just "too big" and targeting a commodity market instead of going for the smaller premium market.

3
fsloth 5 hours ago 3 replies      
The main reason, apparently: "These days, local governments focus on bid prices rather than quality."

High quality commodities are considered nowadays luxury and not bare minimum. Quite sad, really.

4
a5seo 1 hour ago 1 reply      
About 20 years ago they should have created a grading standard for chalk so they could have avoided their commoditization, or at least only compete with others at similar quality (and presumably margins). Similar to organic standards.
5
qnaal 6 hours ago 2 replies      
OPEN SOURCE THE MAGIC CHALK RECIPE AND MACHINE PLANS
6
putchdes 27 minutes ago 1 reply      
When he said that people sent a flood of faxes, it made me totally cool with no more chalk.

When your customers are still sending faxes, that pretty much sums up your dire situation.

7
memming 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's amazing that they had just one set of machines to make all their chalk. I hope the South Korean version would be successful.
8
fnordfnordfnord 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope he shares his recipe.
9
x0x0 6 hours ago 3 replies      
reading that made me think of the Byrd's song

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

Apple's Indies elischiff.com
182 points by davidbarker  1 day ago   107 comments top 24
1
exelius 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the only reason Apple caved is that the dollar amount was too little to be worth any amount of negative PR.

Apple is a $300 billion/yr company. They will not risk that revenue stream (which is largely based on their positive brand image) for a few points of margin on a product that will probably never be more than 0.01% of their revenue.

Kudos to Apple for recognizing that this is something they absolutely don't care about. The value of their brand is worth more than this. I just worry about the volume of new products coming out of Apple these days and wonder how much care and thought goes into them.

2
k-mcgrady 1 day ago 8 replies      
This is pretty ridiculous. There's very little comparison.

1. Apple didn't respond to a letter from Taylor swift in < 24 hours - this had been building for a week or two as large indie labels made their opinions public and let's not forget it's rumoured that Apple was having difficulty signing any indie labels. I would be shocked if Apple hadn't been considering this for weeks already.

2. App devs - of which I am one - get a decent deal. It's simple, clear cut, and quite high especially when compared with how things are in brick and mortar stores.

3. There is no comparison here anyway. When Apple TELLS developers that you can only have your apps on the store if you give up 3 months of revenue then there is one.

3
hiou 1 day ago 1 reply      
The whole thing between Taylor Swift and Apple is so obviously staged. The fact that this was done over Twitter, the most shareable possible format, the "Love, Apple" bit the wording of all of it. The need for Apple to position itself as the Artists streaming service. How are we seriously talking about this as if this actually happened unscripted?

Edit: It's a common negotiation technique to add something that you know the other party will object to. Since there will always be push back it's good to have something you can sacrifice that you never really needed in the first place to appease the other side.

4
pbnjay 1 day ago 0 replies      
Apple wants access to Swift's market.Devs want access to Apple's market.

Simple supply and demand here - the demand side has to pay or otherwise they don't get in. Sure it sucks that the policies aren't very transparent and things are expensive, but them's the breaks.

5
drham 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not just about Taylor Swift having way more pull than any developer, she was also presenting Apple with a problem simple enough that it could literally be solved by throwing money at it.

As Rob Napier pointed out in a great blog post [1]: The app store sustainability problem is definitely not the sort of problem you can just throw money at, and thus can't be responded to by Apple with the same way.

Even in this article it is immediately apparent there is no consensus among the affected as to what the real problem is: Is it lack of free trials? Paid upgrades? Review times?

[1] http://robnapier.net/throw-money

6
pluckytree 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The likely reason for all this is Apple not wanting to be accused of engaging in anti-competitive behavior. Its illegal to use your market power and financial position to sell products below cost and thwart real competition in the market. This is why they offered higher royalties later and no royalties for 3 months. It was designed so artists would get the same amount in the end but unfortunately have to wait 3 months to start getting in.

Apples reverse in direction is interesting. Perhaps they feel the risk is not as high as they were expecting. Apple gets sued every day of the week, but something like this could be very costly. Perhaps they know the financial benefit outweighs the risk.

Claiming Apple doesnt care about artists is absolutely ridiculous. Except for a few high-profile critics, artists view iTunes as saving the music business and allowing even small-time artists to make a living without needing to sign with a label (other than with one of the labels that specialize in this sort of thing and for which artists dont need to qualify).

7
cpr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Seems like this is a lost cause. With nearly no action after 7+ years, Apple's not going to change the app store fundamentals.

But, boy was it exciting at the start! Shed a few tears and move on...

8
bedhead 1 day ago 3 replies      
Taylor Swift's got juice. Indie devs don't. In other news, the sun is hot.
9
vinceguidry 1 day ago 0 replies      
The author seems excessively concerned with the language people use to interact with Apple. It would seem to me that a simple application of "you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" is all that's at play here, and that the author is tilting at windmills.

Apple's a big, powerful company, it's hard for one hand to know what the other hand is doing sometimes. All such companies have to rely on their customer base to guide them. If you think about it, Apple is far more responsive than most other companies their size or in their segment. Jobs used to answer emails ferchrissakes.

10
serve_yay 21 hours ago 1 reply      
His criticism of Gruber (and others) is apt, and important. Even when these guys are being honest about the flaws in the things Apple makes, they offer very little structural critique of what has become the most profitable company in the world and a major driving force in the tech industry.
11
mosdave 23 hours ago 1 reply      
> most musicians do live shows out of necessity, not by choice.

This is absolutely a correct statement, but not in the way the author intended. A writer writes, a painter paints, a musician performs. Not by choice but out of necessity.

12
saturdaysaint 1 day ago 0 replies      
A request to tweak Apple's music contracts that amounts to a rounding error on their quarterly profits is not exactly analogous to requests to change Apple's software platform strategy (which the OP leaves annoyingly vague).
13
jusben1369 1 day ago 5 replies      
"Reminder: Apple uses music to make billions off hardware. Artists see nothing from this."

- I have never seen the exact numbers but I assume a lot more people have a portable music player with them at all times (iPod then iPhone) than they did a decade ago. I can only speak anecdotally but I buy more music because I know I'll have it with me at all times than I did in the portable CD/tape days.

14
PaulHoule 1 day ago 4 replies      
Not much new here.

Apple has been shafting developers since at least 1987.

15
joshstrange 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Look I agree with most of the points raised here but:

> 2. Apple can pivot in less than a day.

I seriously doubt this happened. I think it's crazy to believe that Apple changed it minds due to this one blog post. More likely they had been planning this announcement for some time and possibly moved it up a little bit due to Taylor.

16
allsystemsgo 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Would it not be mutually beneficial for Apple to relinquish their 30% cut from app sales? More developers would focus on iOS (because of the money), they'd make better quality apps, and Apple would sell more hardware.
17
Tloewald 1 day ago 1 reply      
I see a new trend emerging in response to the Swift letter / Apple response -- the idea that Apple is exploiting artists and is no better than anyone else in how it treats people.

The funny thing, it's everyone except Apple that gets a free ride from these discussions. First -- Apple is in fact offering a better deal to artists than pretty much anyone else. It's possible Amazon matches Apple in some cases -- as a book author, I know Amazon's "matching" of Apple's 70% is a sham (you only get it if you price your books low, lower than makes sense in many cases, otherwise your royalty is halved -- and even then they subtract "download fees" based on the size of your book from your 70% (or 35%)). When Apple entered the market, 70% was far and away the best deal in town. Since then it's only been exceeded by players trying to make a beach-head.

(Incidentally, Apple is going to pay the same percentage of its revenues to artists as everyone else -- but Apple Music has no free tier. In practice, Spotify and Pandora have minuscule revenues. 70% of almost nothing is nothing.)

A guy from Pandora chastising Apple for not being altruistic is simply disingenuous. Quoting that guy as an example of the industry being loath to criticize Apple for fear of ... something ... is even more dishonest. (Let's face it, at least part of the reason both Swift and the guy from Pandora couched their criticism in praise is that they aren't disinterested parties -- they're trying to make money too. Being nasty might just draw attention to the fact Taylor Swift is arguing for Apple to give her more money when they aren't collecting any. If a musician's agent or the record company has tickets to give away, do they pay for them? I doubt it.)

The bottom line argument is that Apple is offering a free trial loss leader and took the view that it would pay artists X% of what it collected, and X% of nothing is nothing. (A record label or hollywood studio would subtract accrued costs from future royalties, but hey who's counting?) Taylor Swift argues that Apple is taking more value away from the free trial than musicians -- she may be right, or it may be Ping all over again -- but she has a bazillion followers and she's Taylor Swift, so Apple immediately caves. (Hey, they named a programming language after her, what more could she want? j/k)

If you sell a CD through a record label, or a movie through a studio, or a game through a games company, you don't see royalties until production and marketing costs have been paid, and Hollywood and the Labels have become masters of padding their costs. For this reason, most artists use their albums as promotional tools for their live performances, and have done so since long before Apple.

18
nr152522 1 day ago 2 replies      
Developer reactions have been mixed: Daniel Jalkut of MarsEdit exclaimed, "Damn, I wish Taylor Swift were also a Mac App Store developer."

And perhaps build a new music app named 'Taylor' in Swift?

19
snowwrestler 1 day ago 0 replies      
At least some of the complaints of indie devs like Cabel Sasser relate to the technical restrictions that Apple places on Mac App Store apps. Based on statements by Apple, these restrictions are, to Apple, important from a security standpoint.

Thus it's probably going to take more than complaints to resolve them. It's going to take Apple engineers figuring out how to permit more power for good devs without creating holes for malware.

Apple is well aware of the shortcomings of the Mac App Store model, which is why they continue to provide an official, supported path for apps to be installed on Macs from outside of the App Store.

From a money standpoint, Taylor Swift is getting 1.5% more from Apple than App Store developers are...doesn't seem like that much to me. As far as I know, there is no "download and try it for 90 days" feature in the App Store.

20
ChrisLTD 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't it possible the Apple flattery is genuine?
21
rebootthesystem 22 hours ago 0 replies      
So...iOS app developers band together to protest the fact that Apple uses our apps for marketing purposes and to make the platform more attractive to buyers. Yet, they don't pay us a dime.

It's the same mechanism, isn't it? The iOS platform became attractive to buyers due to the HUGE investment on the part of developers who created free, freemium and paid apps for the platform. Apple has been using all of these apps in their marketing campaign since day one. The platform without apps is worthless. Ergo, the apps give them value and make them desirable.

And so, Apple created a slippery slope of an App Store model where just about the only way to have a shot is to give your work product away and hope to monetize it through paid upgrades or advertising. Failure on the App Store is the norm, not the exception. Yet, again, Apple still benefits from your free/mium app being there and they never pay you a dime for it.

Are there parallels between this and music? I think one could very well argue the case to be so.

22
higherpurpose 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unless it was all a PR stunt, then it all makes some sense. Let's see if Apple responds to the next music indie the same way.
23
skeltoac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pull request failed ingratiation testing.
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mesozoic 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess Apple is getting into making music now. They sure are playing Taylor Swift and the media like a fiddle.
Second U.S. Agent Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bitcoin Theft bloomberg.com
173 points by sidko  1 day ago   85 comments top 5
1
swombat 1 day ago 7 replies      
Looking at the other side of the coin, perhaps also worth asking (even if the answer is a negative):

Given what we know about the coercive nature of the plea system in the US, which frequently forces people to plead guilty even when they're innocent, to avoid a very expensive, long, and likely "unhappy-ending" trial, is it possible that these FBI agents are actually innocent and simply being coerced into filing guilty pleas to turn 20 year sentences into 5 year sentences?

I mean, this is almost a banana republic we're talking about here after all. What was the percentage of people putting in guilty pleas who are innocent? I can't find the article but I recall it was quite high. If we apply this line of thinking to people we like, we should also apply it to people we don't like.

2
ipsin 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'll be interested to see what a gross abuse of power gets you, in terms of sentencing.
3
cm2187 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is useful to get these regular reminders that the authorities to which we give every day more power, are as human as they have ever been. Reading this, it is not exactly outside of the realm of realism that an FBI/NSA/GCHQ/etc agent would sell private personal data collected in the name of anti-terrorism!
4
trhway 1 day ago 4 replies      
>In addition, prosecutors allege Force used his supervisors signature stamp on a subpoena to unfreeze one of his own accounts that had been blocked for suspicious activity.

...

>Bridges allegedly filed an affidavit for a warrant to seize the Mt. Gox Co. exchange, where Silk Road bitcoins were stored, and its owners bank accounts two days after he had taken his own money out of it, according to the criminal complaint.

this couple of bad FBI apples obviously can't cast any doubt onto the integrity of the rest of the FBI Silk Road team (consisting mainly of pure-breed white knights in shiny Lexuses) nor onto the integrity of the whole investigation and conviction....... The trial was 3 ring circus beyond reasonable doubt. F&cking clowns. It isn't the issue whether DPR was this guy or not, or whether he really hired a killer. The issue is that my taxes are extorted from me in order to, supposedly, finance justice process, and what i've got for my money was a show so lame that it wasn't worth even a rotten tomato to throw at it.

In the light of the so far surfaced crimes by the FBI agents the epic heroic story http://www.wired.com/2015/05/silk-road-2/ looks like a new story:

"DPR believed that Nob was a Puerto Rican cartel middleman named Eladio Guzman, but he was in fact DEA agent Carl Force. Force had spent more than a year developing his undercover identity on Silk Road in an effort to get close to DPR. Theyd become confidants, spending nights chatting at such length that DPR trusted Nob when he needed enforcement muscle.

It was Nob whom DPR hired to kill his employee, Curtis Green. Force then coerced Green into faking his own death as a ruse. Force was surprised to see DPRs moral collapse up close, but then again, hed seen this kind of thing before, during his younger DEA years in undercover. He too had experienced the temptations that came with a double identity. In fact, his secret life as a hard-partying operator had nearly destroyed his regular life. Hed left all that behind and recommitted himself to Christ. The Silk Road case was his first undercover role since those days, and it was a big one. Because of his tenure online as Nob, Force was able to carry out the supposed hit on Green, setting DPR up for a murder conspiracy indictment while at the same time cementing their relationship. Nob and DPR had become comrades-in-arms."

I mean, obviously, this heroic Force whose court testimonies and affidavits sent the guy for life couldn't be the same Force who stole the money. I mean we're talking about commitment to Christ after all... Did i mention clowns?

And this one is the icing - http://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahjeong/2015/03/31/force-and-...:

"A states witness took the fall for an agents theft, thus becoming the target for a murder-for-hirea murder that was then faked by the same agent. The Silk Road case was compromised again and again as Force and Bridges allegedly took every opportunity to embezzle and steal money. With so much bitcoin on their hands, the two had to coax various bitcoin and payments companies to help convert their ill-gotten gains to dollars. When companies resisted, investigations were launched, subpoenas were issued, and civil forfeitures were sought in retaliation."

5
spinlock 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm just glad these heroes are keeping us safe.
Popular Security Software Came Under NSA and GCHQ Attacks firstlook.org
182 points by doppp  1 day ago   50 comments top 12
1
acqq 1 day ago 3 replies      
The source, with more details and the links to the documents:

The Intercept: "Popular Security Software Came Under Relentless NSA and GCHQ Attacks"

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/22/nsa-gchq-targe...

The Intercept checked some claims themselves: "Testing performed by The Intercept last month on a trial copy of Kaspersky Small Business Security 4 determined that, while some traffic was indeed encrypted, a detailed report of the hosts hardware configuration and installed software was relayed back to Kaspersky entirely unencrypted. By the time of publication, Kaspersky told The Intercept via email, it was unable to reproduce these results."

2
bjt 1 day ago 3 replies      
The article confusingly conflates several very different things:

1. Reverse engineering popular antivirus software so the agencies can see what data it sends home.

2. Monitoring the emails of cybersecurity companies.

The first of those is totally fine. It's the agencies' whole mission. The question is not whether they're allowed to reverse engineer software, but who/what they start spying on using the things they learn. If they're spying on Al Qaeda, I don't care if they're using antivirus vulnerabilities, OS zero-days, or a wiretap at the ISP. Seems OK. The choice of technology doesn't seem relevant. And if they're spying on teenagers sending naughty pics to each other, it's equally as not OK no matter which of those technologies is being used.

The second set of behavior is far more worrying though. Our government shouldn't be spying on the internal communications of law abiding companies.

3
omgitstom 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not really surprised that the NSA would reverse engineer AV software, this seems like a no brainer article that I would expect from techcrunch.

The most surprising thing to see in the slides is 'DNS Interdiction' which isn't mentioned in the article at all. It seems like they are compromising the DNS system to have the request sent to the wrong location so they can log it. This probably leaks all sort of information about your AV set up.

4
vezzy-fnord 1 day ago 0 replies      
See also the various Attrition errata pages:

http://attrition.org/errata/autofail/ auto-update failures in AV software)

http://attrition.org/errata/cpo/ (vendors shipping compromised media)

http://attrition.org/errata/vulnerability.html (vulnerabilities in security software, sourced from OSVDB)

5
beloch 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is like the government randomly placing dynamite in a very small percentage of fire extinguishers. The overwhelming majority of people will not be affected by this, but it shakes confidence in an important safety item and may encourage large numbers of people to stop using AV software, to the detriment of their own computers and networks in general.

So, what AV software is safe?

6
mkempe 1 day ago 3 replies      
Meanwhile, how many NSA backdoors are there in US-made AV software? Note that no reverse-engineering effort targeting such companies was described in the memo.
7
porpoisemonkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tom's Guide has a pretty decent article on this same event: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/kaspersky-hack-israel-nsa,news-2...
8
nickbauman 1 day ago 0 replies      
The only thing worse than getting a computer virus is having to run anti-virus software.
9
hey1969 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some of L0pht (which was a community, which might be described now as a hackerspace/collective centered in Boston) became a security consulting shop @stake (atstake), which was the sold to B4 PwC and then sold to IBM (perhaps integrated into GBS, the consulting svcs arm that tends to accumulate exceptionally smart people.
10
Dolores12 1 day ago 2 replies      
So, they have a problem only with russian antivirus? All others are no problem?
11
kijin 1 day ago 1 reply      
It's scary how much information antivirus software nowadays send home every day. It's often marketed as "cloud-based heuristics" or something similarly nebulous. What it really means is that the antivirus software will send home a sample of anything it's not sure about. It could be a confidential document of yours. It could contain your personal information. Oh, and don't forget that MITMing your TLS connections is now a highly desirable feature. A lot of them have Superfish built right in!

In the past, if you bought an antivirus software, that was it. The antivirus would download new signatures at regular intervals, and not bug you until your subscription expired. Nowadays, every antivirus requires you to be logged in to your account all the time, ostensibly to ensure that your subscription is valid, but also in order to allow anyone with access to the web-based control panel to trigger all kinds of scary actions. Every vendor also tries to upsell at every opportunity, sometimes even after you've paid.

I tried to stick with Microsoft Security Essentials for the longest time, because if I had to open a backdoor to somebody, I might as well trust the company that wrote my OS in the first place. Also, MSE was pretty good when it first came out. But its detections rates have steadily gone down, and a number of people to whom I recommended it have gotten viruses that MSE couldn't catch. I use BitDefender on my Windows boxes now. It's the only antivirus I could find so far (apart from MSE) that doesn't constantly nag me to upgrade, but who knows? I might have just opened a backdoor for the Romanian government or something.

12
cekanoni 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is fucked up ...
       cached 24 June 2015 15:11:01 GMT