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Elon Musk on How to Build the Future ycombinator.com
1069 points by sama  3 days ago   496 comments top 54
johnloeber 3 days ago 7 replies      
I am surprised that YC would make this page so remarkably mobile-unfriendly. I don't have the time to listen to the interview, I just want to read the transcript. They could have just pasted it in a reader-friendly format, but instead it's in an annoying Scribd applet. I don't want to sign up for their service or download the app, not to mention that it's a terrible mobile reader anyway. This was very disappointing.
iMuzz 3 days ago 8 replies      
Question/Answer I found interesting:

Sama> How should someone figure out how they should be useful?

Elon> Whatever this thing is you are trying to create.. What would be the utility delta compared to the current state of the art times how many people it would affect?

rpedela 3 days ago 5 replies      
I would be far more interested in how to build a successful business. Everyone asks Elon about his big ideas, but how do you turn those big ideas into reality, specifically? I have never seen anyone ask him those questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with Jessica Livingston because that was the primary topic. A missed opportunity in my opinion. I hope the rest of the interviews are more about the nuts and bolts of how to build a successful business.


Ask him about the early days at PayPal. What are the lessons he learned that he applied to Tesla and SpaceX? What worked for PayPal but not the other companies and why?

zxcvvcxz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Some choice quotes:

"Do you think people who want to be useful should get a PhD?""Umm... Mostly not."

"Sometimes it [technology] gets worse... In '69 we were able to go to the moon.. Then the space shuttle could only take people to LEO, then the space shuttle retired... That trends to zero. People think technology automatically gets better every year but it actually doesn't, it gets better if smart people work like crazy to make it better... By itself if people don't work on it technology will decline. We look at Rome and how they were able to build these incredible roadways and aqueducts and indoor plumbing, and they forgot how to do all of those things.

Entropy is not on your side."

"I know a lot of people think I must spend a lot of time doing media and business-y things... But 80% of my time is spent on engineering and design."

"A very long time ago you took me on a tour of SpaceX. And the most impressive thing was that you knew every detail of the rocket and every pieces of engineering that went into it and I don't think many people get that about you."

"What really matters is the machine that builds the machine, the factory. That is at least 2 orders of magnitude harder than the vehicle itself."

djcooley 3 days ago 12 replies      
I have all the respect in the world for what Mr. Musk has accomplished, but it has come at an amazing cost to the people around him.

He is worshiped from afar but reviled by many the closer you get to his inner circle. Go read "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future."

The question I always ask myself with the people who move mountains is what cost did that progress come at? What would someone's spouse, kids, friends, etc. say about the person?

hbt 3 days ago 2 replies      
What amazes me about Elon is the level of self control, discipline, perseverance, resilience, willpower etc.

He's not the only one playing the game so effectively at that level but to me, he exemplifies rational behavior.

I wish more entrepreneurs like Page or Bezos were in the public eye as much as Musk. I believe those traits are common to achieve your goals.

messel 3 days ago 1 reply      
This was a bunch of fun.


Be useful, that's fine, no need to alter the world drastically.

Big Next shifts: AI & Genetic Modification (oh and a faster connection to our minds)

High probability of failure, not a problem. Tesla, Space X. Push the ball forward.

Democratization of AI is a best possible outcome (direct connection, we are the AI)

etendue 3 days ago 11 replies      
How would one go about meaningfully contributing to solving problems in genetics without having done the work leading to a MD or PhD (or both)?
mattbeckman 3 days ago 2 replies      
Having watched a good number of Elon Musk interviews, I wish more interviewers would ask more direct questions. Asking Elon general questions usually results in fairly similar responses to what you have heard before or read in his biography.
jernfrost 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it was interesting his comment about how he really isn't working like a CEO: "Yeah. I think a lot of people think I'm kind of a business person or something, which is fine. Business is fine. But really it's like at SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell is Chief Operating Officer. She manages legal, finance, sales, and general business activity. And then my time is almost entirely with the engineering team, working on improving the Falcon 9 and our Dragon spacecraft and developing the Mars Colonial architecture."

This seems very similar to Steve Jobs who said he became CEO so that nobody could tell him what he could or couldn't work on. But like Elon Musk he seemed most interested in creating things and not really running the business.

I think this is a clue to successful business. If you got leaders like that you retain focus on good products rather than getting caught up in optimizing financials without a strong focus on actually building quality stuff people want or need.

ravenstine 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like the things that Elon Musk has done and tried, but what irritates me are all the sycophants in the media who think he's a genius wizard rather than a smart entrepreneur and don't take some of his claims with a grain of salt.
kstenerud 3 days ago 11 replies      
It always saddens me when I see a slew of Debbie Downer comments from the HN crowd.

"Yes, he ushered in the electric car revolution, but the production carbon footprint is still huge!"

"Yes, he's building rockets, but he took a bunch of government money!"

"Yes, he's paving the way to Mars, but what has he done for world hunger?"

And it not just with Musk, but really with anyone who has been successful. I would have thought that the technologists were above such petty envy. We're here to improve humanity's lot, aren't we?

the_common_man 3 days ago 0 replies      
TIL that OpenAI was founded by Sam and Elon. Should get my resume polished :-)
aantix 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why do they discuss the speed of the line? Isn't the finalized output a much more useful metric? (e.g. one car per hour)?

If there's a ton of work done at the various checkpoints, the pace is slow but maybe the length of the line isn't very far?

faragon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like very much how humble and how easy and crystal clear are his responses.
weinzierl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Besides the part about the importance of being useful and how to be useful I find the following answer most interesting:

> So it's not that I think that the risk is that the AI would develop a will of its own right off the bat. I think the concern is that someone may use it in a way that is bad. Or even if they weren't going to use it in a way that's bad but somebody could take it from them and use it in a way that's bad, that, I think, is quite a big danger. So I think we must have democratization of AI technology to make it widely available. And that's the reason that obviously you, me, and the rest of the team created OpenAI was to help spread out AI technology so it doesn't get concentrated in the hands of a few.

kelvin0 3 days ago 2 replies      
Great interview, I'm always really interested in hearing what entrepreneurs like Musk have to say. However, none of the interviews ever seem to delve into the personal aspects of his life. I would love to have Elon go through a typical day and explain how achieves some balance in his life and what that looks like for him. Being a husband, a father and a friend must be quite challenging and I would love to hear more about how he views his life in general.
cinquemb 3 days ago 2 replies      
"But we're extremely bandwidth-constrained in that interface between the cortex and that tertiary digital form of yourself. And helping solve that bandwidth constraint would be, I think, very important in the future as well. Yeah."

After working and consulting with labs while building/hacking software/hardware for neural interfaces and seeing where the field is now, I have very little hope. Too much bureaucracy, and too much (darpa) money going after red queens races (lets not even get started at all the private/nih money flowing into some labs funding even more technologically incompetent PI's) at least in neuroimaging, and companies lining up to get MIT postdocs to peddle their latest and greatest toys.

I even had to find someone willing to write my grant and go through the submission process for an abstract (not even the full proposal) for DARPA-BAA-16-33, because despite calling for "BTO seeks unconventional approaches that are outside the mainstream, challenge assumptions, and have the potential to radically change established practice, lead to extraordinary outcomes, and create entirely new fields.", apparently an email submission is just not ok despite having co authored in this area and currently designing BCI related hardware and software in the open in my free time compared to a lot of newly minted assoc. profs struggling to get their matlab scripts (that someone else probably wrote years ago) to run on cluster their uni just spend 10's of millions on again this year expanding, forget understanding how any of the machines from which data is collected (and can barely analyze themselves) actually work

Yeah semonga berhasil ;)

edmundhuber 3 days ago 0 replies      
Paradromics (https://paradromics.com) is working on full-bandwidth neural interfaces.
keyle 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Most of my time is spent designing things".

Woah that hit home. I wish I could run a business without businessy things. How do you find the right people?! I'm a really good tech guy and designer. I can whip up anything, I've just never found the right person to sell it and deal with other humans.

feralmoan 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was a lot less insightful than I was hoping for. I understand he's naval gazing on the 'human condition' from a billion dollar vantage and trying to rationalize investment in his personal academic fetishes... but really? The world is burning and he's pontificating an ego expression of 1950's atomic age. No 1% left behind. Ridiculous.
pikachu_is_cool 3 days ago 0 replies      
This interview was pretty dry to me. It almost seemed rehearsed, as if Elon requested the questions go like this. They only scratched the surface of a bunch of general "big picture" subjects that anyone whose paying attention right now would already know about.
sama 3 days ago 6 replies      
Some HN commenters never cease to amaze with their negativity...
Ericson2314 2 days ago 1 reply      
Planet diversification and renewable energy are good priorities, and that not doing them narrows future options dramatically, but the other things on this list are pure sci-fi fandom. Cyborgs and whatnot will probably come around eventually bit I see no reason to hasten them. I'd like to fix our current problems before these things make them more intractable:

- inequality

- workaholism of upper classes skewing culture

- degredidation of biodiversity worldwide

If we move to Mars let's make this planet a temple. 50% earth surface no humans or something.

codecamper 2 days ago 1 reply      
Elon says we must be careful to get AI right.

However, the value of his company is already based on the premise of self driving cars.

Self driving cars will cause a pretty massive shift in the world. I'm all for it & really think that most people suck at driving. However...

I have a hard time following his advice of getting AI right while is plan is to profit immensely from AI.

Maybe his moral compass is telling him that AI will cause problems, but better to have a seat at the table once the oncoming deluge hits.

ReedJessen 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Humans are so slow... exactly..."- Elon Musk

Pretty sure Elon is a creature from outside of our simulation who has injected himself into our reality to teach us how to play the game better.

dpc_pw 3 days ago 3 replies      
Relevant: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-06/how-elon-musk-used-...

According to this, the answer to "How to Build the Future" is "make the story big, and get free money from government".

Note: I have not fact-checked it or anything. Just find it interesting and relevant, so don't expect me to argue about it, and don't flag me as a troll.

huuu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lately I'm very concerned about my posture. Now I'm watching two people who both have a bad posture like me (hunchback, forward head). And I'm sure this is becoming a problem in the 'read from a screen all day' age.

So the future of better interfaces (with your brain) Elon is talking about might be also much better for our health.

adamzerner 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you're somewhat familiar with Elon's thoughts and ideas, this interview probably won't teach you anything new.
Herodotus38 3 days ago 0 replies      
Apologies if this has already been answered but I couldn't find it in the comments below: does anyone know the date of this interview?

EDIT: Figured it out. Probably June or July as he mentions OpenAI was 6 months old and it was founded in December 2015.

vmk7 9 hours ago 0 replies      
can the thought of delta times the number of people be applied in the area of food ?
arca_vorago 3 days ago 1 reply      
Give the people with ideas funding and the future will happen. Instead what has been happening is the uber-elite have been hoarding their money and not putting it back into the economy. This is how to delay the future.

To me the future is welcomed with a guarded mentality, in that for all the benifits purported to follow it, but the reality is that as we progress technologically we are going to create a new wealth schism in the people of the world the blowback of that will come back one day and bite us. If we can push the future and lessen income inequality and increase the wealth, not of investors, but average people, that is the way forward.

aantix 3 days ago 3 replies      
Why does Elon continuously talk about AI as if it's taking over the world? At this point, Siri can barely understand me saying the word 'salad'.

Slow down Elon... slow down..

joe563323 2 days ago 0 replies      
Its sad that Elon does not have confidence on immortality. He is even thing about dying.
hristov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great now I have a mental image of Usain Bolt sprinting next to a Tesla production line with a wrench in hand trying to tighten a bolt.
ksashikumar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anybody know why the first approach to Mars is 20 light minutes? Musk mentioned that the fastest approach to Mars is 4 light minutes!
spectrum1234 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is this the Tesla factory in the background?
chipz 2 days ago 0 replies      
is it just me or this interview is kinda unprepared?the questions that sama asks, the way that musk answer & the way that interview stop.But overall, I enjoy this series, kudos!
d_burfoot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gads, what a terrible background for an interview.
unboxed_type 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks alot for sharing this!
kkotak 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know what you guys will do without Elon Musk. He's truly a gift to you all.
idlewords 3 days ago 5 replies      
I am very happy that there's a transcript. But I just spent two minutes trying to figure out how to cut and paste it into a textfile (Scribd won't let me download it without signing up).

My request to YC is to publish transcripts like this as text.

nojvek 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder why the transcript is linked from scribd. It makes me download their app and doesn't even open the document.

Why can't this just be good old HTML than a scribd walled garden? A horrible interface with ads shoved on your face.

mrfusion 3 days ago 1 reply      
Umm so there's no way to read the full transcript?
metamet 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm just here for the free energy drinks and VMware backpacks.
astazangasta 3 days ago 8 replies      
chorkpop 3 days ago 3 replies      
He also exploits people because he's "building the future." He is an evil capitalist with a cult of personality and doesn't deserve the worship he gets.
3 days ago 3 days ago 1 reply      
soufron 3 days ago 4 replies      
LordHumungous 3 days ago 10 replies      
>I think a lot of people think I must spend a lot of time with media or on businessy things. But actually almost all my time, like 80% of it, is spent on engineering and design.

Uh... that's not really a CEO's job though.

misterbishop 3 days ago 1 reply      
How to build the future: Take $5B in public subsidy for boondoggle technologies, and then tell everyone you're fiscally conservative.


dolguldur 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I would pray I'd pray for Elon. He's been such a source of inspiration to me. He's so brave in carrying his burden. May the fruits of his work prosper soon. Then he can take a break.
TbobbyZ 3 days ago 0 replies      
He's gained weight, look at his gut. Also, does he sleep? Look at his eyes. I would bet money he works 60+ hours a week.
tehchromic 3 days ago 1 reply      
What's interesting about a savant is how they can end up defined by what they don't see. I have nothing but respect for Elon, however I think he is working on the wrong problems. That's not his fault and he is most definitely making his best effort. However he's the paragon of a paradigm of a European culture which is as unsustainable as it is powerful.
Angular 2 Final Released angular.io
829 points by mikeryan52  4 days ago   429 comments top 51
EugeneOZ 3 days ago 9 replies      
I use Angular 2 in production since November 19, 2015 (alpha.46). Currently I've built 3 web apps (40, 60 and 20 components each), 3 mobile apps (with Ionic 2) and my employer have plans for more apps.

Breaking changes during alpha stage were expected, so I didn't have issues with it.

Most positive things I want to highlight:

1. Components are encapsulated and truly reusable (and without dependencies hell).

2. You don't need any "bridges" anymore to use 3-rd party JS libraries inside your Angular app. Nothing need to be "angularized" - twbs, D3, all just works out of the box. Maybe it's even most important part for me.

3. Idea of `(events)` and `[attributes]` is awesome, works really effective and makes code much more easy to read.

4. Performance is great.

5. Community is friendly and have a lot of fun and patience, even to newbies.

6. TypeScript gives a lot of bonuses with zero price - you don't need to learn anything (you can just rename js to ts and it will work) and additions to JS are simple and powerful.

7. Cool abilities like AOT-compilation, server-side rendering and tree-shaking.

Congrats to the all devs who are using Angular, congrats to the Angular team! :)

gkoberger 4 days ago 14 replies      
As someone who uses Angular 1 currently but would pick React for their next project, I'd love to see a list of reasons why I should use Angular 2 over React.

If nothing else, Angular just stranded all their developers, while React has a huge head start on mindshare/plugins/tutorials/etc.

petilon 3 days ago 13 replies      
I evaluated React and Angular 2 several months ago and picked React. Some of the issues I found in Angular 2:

The HTML template in Angular 2 is stored in a string. This has several disadvantages:

1. Editors can't do syntax coloring.

2. Editors can't do auto-indenting.

3. Editors can't offer "intellisense" suggestions.

4. Editors can't match tags.

You embed variables in this template string like this: '<div>{{hero.name}}</div>'.

This means:

1. Compilers can't find typos or find syntax errors at compile time.

2. If you make a typo in the variable name you don't get a compile-time or run-time error, instead the value is simply not displayed!

3. Tools can't refactor (i.e., rename) variables embedded inside the template.

4. No intellisense for the embedded expressions.

You have to learn weird syntax such as ngFor whereas in React you just use a JavaScript for loop.

In React you embed HTML inside the TypeScript and VisualStudio treats both the HTML and the TypeScript as first-class citizens. You get compile-time checks and intellisense for both the HTML and the TypeScript code! You can even put breakpoint inside the template and step through loops whereas in Angular you can't step through an ngFor.

Note that some of the above may have changed since I last looked at Angular 2.

electrotype 3 days ago 15 replies      
Serious question : Why are SPA frameworks so popular these days? When someone asks "What should I use for web development?", It's now all about React/Angular/Ember/etc.

But when I look at how are built the sites I like and visit frequently, I'd say 95% of them are not SPA, they are classic sites where the server generate each page (sometimes with one or two Ajax requests)!

The Single Page pattern is great for desktop-like applications such as Gmail, it's obvious. But otherwise, I don't know... I think I still prefere the "feel" of classic websites.

Yhippa 4 days ago 6 replies      
Front end development is crazy these days. I remember on my road to learning Java EE banging my head on the wall trying to put together things like dependency management with Maven, ORM's, and all sorts of arcane concepts and patterns. It took me a long time to get to that point but now it seems all too familiar.

As someone coming up to speed with frameworks like React and Angular 2 it feels like that all over again.

pramttl 3 days ago 5 replies      
I have been using Angular 2 for 3 months now and so far have loved it (except for the breaking changes in RC series and updating each time). Glad 2.0.0 is here. Here are the few things I loved, amongst other interesting features:

1. Typescript awesomeness: You can write plain JS or give type hints in Typescript. Typescript is awesome, because it is a superset of Javascript and compiles to Javascript. (Typescript > ES6 > ES5)

2. Modular code: It is is much easier to manage Angular code as it grows (compared to AngularJS). Components could be made independently and reused within other components using component interaction [1] (@Input, @Output)

3. Template Directives: .html template directives are available unlike ReactJS. A ReactJS vs Angular2 blog post online [1] argued that that putting HTML in Javascript is better than putting Javascript in HTML. I'd argue that template directives like ngFor, ngIf, etc are much simpler to understand. Also, it is easier to collaborate with a designer/half-developer who knows some html/scss and doesn't know Javascript than working in ReactJS where every collaborator has to know JS. This way, it is also easier for someone to gradually learn the framework. For me, template directives are a big win. If someone wants to construct templates with plain JS, that is still possible in Angular.

4. @angular/router is better than AngularJS routing and we don't have to use a 3rd party library (like ui-router was more popular in AngularJS than the angularjs router)

One thing that I have found annoying is that: UI libraries for Angular. Example: material2 (currently at alpha.8) [3] are not complete yet and lack several useful components. This can be a problem if you are looking to quickly build a complete, good looking UI. Hopefully, now with Angular 2.0.0 out; Angular team could focus on quicker development of material2, so we have all the AngularJS Material UI goodness with Angular.

[1] https://angular.io/docs/ts/latest/cookbook/component-communi...[2] https://medium.freecodecamp.com/angular-2-versus-react-there...[3] https://github.com/angular/material2

joshschreuder 4 days ago 1 reply      
There's more info on future plans here:https://angularjs.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/angular2-final.htm...


 > Bug fixes and non-breaking features for APIs marked as stable > More guides and live examples specific to your use cases > More work on animations > Angular Material 2 > Moving WebWorkers out of experimental > More features and more languages for Angular Universal > Even more speed and payload size improvements
And immediately:

 > Semantic Versioning

_alexander_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
As see I on github there are lot of issues - https://github.com/angular/angular/milestone/58 for final release., however they released it. These issues are not important? Who can clarify?
DigitalSea 3 days ago 2 replies      
Rob Eisenberg and his nimble team beat Angular 2 to the punch all the way back in July when Aurelia final was released. Before considering Angular, considering checking out http://aurelia.io - easier to learn, no third party dependencies and great support. I applaud the Angular team for sticking it out, but I am afraid they released far too late to compete with the likes of React, Vue and so on.
kensign 3 days ago 1 reply      
Before you consider Angular 2, do yourself a favor and check out http://aurelia.io.

Compare the differences and consider the trade offs with complexity vs simplicity. It's worth a consideration.

georgefrick 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a developer who didn't care for Angular 1.x and strongly argued in favor of a simple approach for years (Backbone, etc).

I've been using Angular 2 in a major enterprise project since RC1. Even with some of the headaches between RC releases; all of the reasoning behind those changes is technically sound.

It's easy to write components and wire everything, and even small things like async validators are fluid and easy to implement.

I'm loving it, and while the entire build system is still a bit of a dumpster fire; we're doing great on things like testing, code coverage; etc.

There are a lot of problems with lazy developers hoping a blog will tell them how to do every little thing. The source code is on Github. If you can't get something working right; maybe go read the source code of the classes you are interacting with. I've found 99% of the time now that simply reading through the code gives me not only the transparency needed, but a clear path to a better solution. Kudos to them on the new forms; they're awesome.

KyoChunho 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a fantastic framework and I'm looking forward to building a ton of cool stuff with it.

Though next week's announcement...

Angular 2.0.1 RC 1

It's Change Log will read:

 * Routing has been rebuilt.. all previous versions not compatible * We decided to rename the NgModule decorator to NgYouMAD? * All Internet tutorials no longer work... Good Luck relearning!

wcarss 4 days ago 4 replies      
Is there a definitive angular versus react versus ember (or others) pros/cons/community status page out there somewhere?
mgadams3 3 days ago 0 replies      
AngularClass's free project-based course on Angular 2 by Scott Moss has been pretty popular in the release candidate stage with 10k students so far. Will be getting updates with official release changes soon.


sturmeh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't wait for Angular 3!
jcadam 3 days ago 0 replies      
Never used Angular. I was considering it for one project, but the uncertainty around the whole Angular 1/2 thing made it too risky, so I stuck with what I knew at the time (Backbone/Marionette).

Tried Ember.js more recently, didn't much care for it. I think I'm just not a fan of large frameworks.

Now mithril.js (http://mithril.js.org/) has finally lured me away from Backbone :)

WA 3 days ago 1 reply      
Right now, I'm considering which works best for me. Requirements: App for Android & iPhone plus Web-based app. The most complex part is a Graph with interactions (such as highlighting a specific value). It should feel snappy, although I don't make heavy use of neither gestures nor OS-related features.

Ionic 2 + Angular 2 seem to be the best choice, since I can basically write the app once and release for all three platforms.

React Native has the downside that React and React Native are two different things. Be aware that there is no such thing as React Native for the web. There's something in development right now, but nothing stable.

Truly native: I can't support three platforms as a single developer and I don't feel like outsourcing it.

I'll go with Ionic 2 + Angular 2, although Ionic 2 still has quite a few bugs. For example, the zoom attribute on <ion-scroll> doesn't work which is critical for my app.

Sure, there are hacks and this reminds me on the discussion from the other day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12477190

Yes, it's all very hacky. But there's really no alternative I guess.

scotchio 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug: Free Getting Started Video Course on Scotch.io

Getting Started with Angular 2


sergiotapia 3 days ago 3 replies      
Question for Angular devs: Why would I use Angular 2 and risk being left in the wind like Google did with Angular 1?
mshenfield 4 days ago 0 replies      
Found this pretty helpful in grasping differences between angular 1 and 2.


cubef 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been developing a large web app with ng2 and Dart since april, no framework is perfect, but this combo is a joy to work with.

Did ng1 and react with JS before, react was more enjoyable but in the end it just doesn't compare.

Anyway, great to see the release :)

boxctim 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Loved by Millions" might be overstating things a bit
nsxwolf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested to hear people's experiences with running Angular 1 and 2 side by side in the same application for the purposes of incrementally migrating an Angular 1 codebase.
omouse 3 days ago 1 reply      
I heard that a particular company, Rangle, worked on AngularJS2 and from what I've heard of them they're an MVP/dev-agency so it isn't surprising to see some of the complaints here about broken backwards compatibility and bad documentation around testing.

Seems few people know how to steward a free/open source software project that has lasted over 5 yrs.

chillypenguin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what "Final" even means in this context. Google has already admitted that the Angular team uses the term "Release Candidate" to mean something completely different to how every other software company in the universe understands it. (Listen to Adventures in Angular podcast, episode 105.)

A very rocky road ahead, methinks.

chrisballinger 4 days ago 5 replies      
I expected angular.io to be a flashy example Angular 2 SPA and was disappointed when I realized it was just a regular old static HTML website. I guess most of the content is more suited for a static site. At least the search bar on the docs page looks like it has some Angular going on. Also it would be neat if the docs had dynamic examples instead of screenshots.
ergo14 3 days ago 3 replies      
It is interesting how people are debating here, angular this, react that...

Yet there is Polymer that just works, has a great ecosystem, awesome material design support and is a breeze to work with (+ its fast too).

Right now there was 2.0 announcement and new version really supports easy migration path unlike Angular 2.x.

waltero 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice, played around with Angular 1 and 2 - Angular2 with its use of components reminded me of making front-ends with the Apache Wicket framework some time ago.

This might appeal to java full stack/backend engineers that need to once in while show case a nice and shiny GUI. It my experience, the combo of Angular with Bootstrap/Font awesome works just fine for that.

Very positive to have static typing through TypeScript as well. But also here I am quite biased for I never liked the concept that 'everything is just a var' ;)

dschiptsov 3 days ago 1 reply      
How many hundreds of npm dependencies in the default install?

Is Leftpad included?

stevehiehn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yes!!, I was starting to get nervous I jumped the gun using it at work!
awjr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looking at https://github.com/angular/angular/milestones I was slightly surprised to see 30 outstanding issues. Reading the announcement they have been careful to bring semver into the mix. This should speed up release as well as start bringing through some of the 2.1 stuff quicker.
jiggly_piff 3 days ago 2 replies      
I dont understand why they claim you can make native mobile apps with angular2 ionic and native are two very different things
rukenshia 3 days ago 1 reply      
So I have never used Angular before but work with Vue. Looking at the tutorial, why is there the syntax of [(ngModel)] (equivalent would be v-model for me) and ngFor= (v-for)? Why are they different? It looks kind of unnecessary to me. I would really appreciate if someone explained it.
kabes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Look at the weekly meeting notes: http://g.co/ng/weekly-notes .So 3 days ago they were talking about an rc7 to test out and now all of the sudden we've got a final?
SonicSoul 3 days ago 1 reply      
congrats to ng-team!

funny i just spent an hour yesterday upgrading to 3.0.0-rc.7

I see their quick start has been updated to use the final. https://angular.io/docs/ts/latest/quickstart.html <= great way to get started.

agree with other comments that RxJS is a tough library to learn but I love that they used it instead of re-inventing that wheel. It is incredibly powerful and solves a lot of asynchronous programming problems. you can see all of the methods visualized with marbles here: http://rxmarbles.com/

nagarjun 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does the Angular CLI compare to the Ember CLI? Also, how does Angular 2 compare to Ember 2.8?
nbevans 3 days ago 0 replies      
At first I read this article title as "Angular 2 Finally Released" :)
doczoidberg 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nodody mentioned angular universal here. I think it's a big win to prerender the SPA on the server. It's faster, more mobile friendly and pages can be indexed by search engines.

IDEs have to implement better support for NG2 but this will come over time.

alabamamike 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks and congrats to the Angular2 team! We've been building on the release candidates since March, and we're happy to see the breaking changes come to an end.
partycoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Angular's module syntax, while it makes sense, it's just easiest way to get version control merge conflicts. Even easier than import statements... since these can be put into oneliners.
rochak 3 days ago 0 replies      
Was waiting for its final release. Recently built an app using it and the documentation kept changing. Found it hard to keep up.
huuu 3 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a way to download Angular2 as Javascript file? Last time I checked I had to install loads of software just to start a Angular project.
thewhitetulip 4 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone guide me about writing angularJS apps with Go backend? So far, I have not been able to find a good source to learn it.
leshow 3 days ago 0 replies      
the website is barely functional for me, the anchor links in the documentation don't even work.
xuwupeng2000 4 days ago 3 replies      
I am on the boat of Angular 1.I really want to move to React cuz I don't want to learn TypecScript.
martyn80 3 days ago 0 replies      
The angular website itself still uses 1.4.8?

I can't find a benchmark or size comparision somewhere.

gravypod 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like that they are selling the fact they have good ide support.
morsmodr 3 days ago 0 replies      
kingofhawks 3 days ago 0 replies      
BigJeffeRonaldo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Investing for Geeks kalzumeus.com
764 points by gk1  2 days ago   445 comments top 60
chollida1 2 days ago 13 replies      
Great post!!

I'd add a few things that I've learned over the years:

1) Always be invested in the market. Corollary, don't time the market. This is by far the largest mistake people make.

Investors typically pull money out at the bottom after they've suffered a physiologically devastating loss, like at the end of 2008 and hence they miss the rebound, like 2009-now.This isn't quite the same but it shows what missing the top 25 days in the market over the past 45 years does to your returns.


If you are an investor you need to be in the market, period.

2) Accept that you will lose money some years. If you are buying index funds then you will get market performance, ex fees. Markets go down sometimes. Stay the course.

3) Don't look every day or you will go nuts.

Keep in mind that the largest draw down (top to bottom) will be larger than what the returns look like if you just look year over year. Ie if you look and see the S&P lost 28% in 2008, understand that if you watched the S&P every day of 2008 then it probably lost more than 28% from its top to its bottom but rebounded slightly at the end of the year to make the year over year loss less than the maximum loss.

4) Have some exposure to outside of the US markets. Consider the scenario of investing all your money in the company you work for. In a rough time for your company you get the double whammy of losing money and possibly your job at the same time.

Similarly to how you are told to not invest all your money in the company you shouldn't invest solely in the country you live in, same principle.

EDIT see child comment, I mangled the English language in point 4

loteck 2 days ago 3 replies      
Read Goldstein's (edit: Bernstein's!) book "If You Can".

It's a whopping 16 page book of plain talk and he made it free on the internet, no strings. [1] It's the best introduction to planning for retirement, especially for those under 35, I've read so far.

[1] https://www.etf.com/docs/IfYouCan.pdf

hristov 2 days ago 7 replies      
I agree with most of this, except for the stuff on robo-advisors. You should be very careful about those.

First of all their fees are too high. Wealthfront's 0.25% fee seems rather small and it is smaller than what a lot of human advisers charge, but if you compute it over a lifetime of savings with the negative compounding effect it will cost you a lot.

Imagine you receive some money when you are 20 from a rich uncle and invest it for 40 years using the wealthfront fee structure. After 40 years you will have paid about 10% of your savings in fees. Or, in other words, you will have about 10% more savings if you had taken a couple of hours to sit down and decide which funds to invest in. Keep in mind that the wealthfront fees are in addition of any etf or mutual fund fees you have to pay to get into investment vehicles.

So yeah, compounding interest is a dangerous thing.

There is another problem with roboadvisers -- people put too much trust in them. In our society there is this implicit trust of the computer, probably bred from multiple sci-fi shows with all-wise computers. Well it is a very dangerous thing when it comes to your savings.

You may not be the best investor, but you should take responsibility in your investment choices. You should know what you are investing in and why. Even if the thing you are investing in is a boring simple S&P 500 fund (as it should be for most of you) you should know what it is and why you are investing in it. You shouldn't just blindly follow some algorithm programmed by god-knows who.

teej 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you're healthy enough to swing a high-deductible health plan, consider maxing out a "stealth IRA" aka health savings account. With a $3,350 individual / $6,750 contribution limit, it's a great tax-advantaged account that can be treated just like a Traditional IRA. If you use it for medical costs, which you are likely to have in retirement, you get tax advantage on both ends.


hundt 2 days ago 1 reply      
> You should open a SEP-IRA, which is a special account type that is similar to a 401k in mechanics but has very, very generous funding limits.

Actually, both account types have the same yearly limit; it's just that the employer can contribute much more than the employee, and when self-employed you can contribute as the employer.

In fact, the difference between SEP IRA and 401k is not the funding limits, but the fact that the SEP IRA allows only employer contributions. You can actually open a "solo 401k" for yourself if you are self-employed, and make both employer and employee contributions. That will let you put more money away for a given income than the SEP IRA, until you make 275k or so at which point you have hit the cap for both (and the cap is the same for both).

Edit: Vanguard has a calculator to show the difference:


atmosx 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Often when I told people I was building a (toy) stock exchange theyd ask me for stock advice, which is about as well-considered as asking a WoW guild to deal with your terrorism problem.

And you think that's problematic? I have relatives telling me that they'll go with X anti-thrombotic therapy because a cousin of the brother of a guy who they met in the supermarket took it 6 years ago and worked wonders for him. I'm a pharmacist and I have rather strong opinions about some drugs over others, but I can take advices from doctors, physicians, nurses or anyone with a minimum degree of knowledge on the topic. Still, many times I have to argue with with relatives, to the point where I get frustrated.

infinite8s 2 days ago 8 replies      
Question - is it fair to use the 8% historical market average when doing these calculations (which include some of the most spectacularly productive periods in the American economy)? All the predictions I've seen going forward look like the average will be much lower (at least for the current generation), and a rate of 4-5% means you need a much larger nest egg to drawdown a livable amount each year in retirement.

Edit: It's not clear from the essay, but I'm assuming Patrick's 8% rate is not adjusted for inflation (based on his 40k drawdown scenario - the other 3-4% would cover inflation).

maerF0x0 2 days ago 11 replies      
> "Open a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. The traditional IRA contributes pre-tax money, the Roth IRA post-tax money. The upshot is that if you believe your marginal rate at retirement to be higher than your present rate, you should pick a Roth IRA, otherwise, you should pick a traditional IRA. If you dont feel like forecasting that, take my word for it that 90% of you should have Roth IRAs."

I simply cannot fathom why he would state that. I cannot imagine a scenario where my retirement income would (nor should) be as high or higher than my peak earning years.

Typically in retirement you have a home and all sorts of hard goods (clothes, furniture, cars) paid off and thus need less money.

misnamed 2 days ago 2 replies      
Something else I would add - if you're working in the ups-and-downs world of startups and technology, you may have meaty and lean years and during the good years find you want to save more fore retirement than 401ks, SEP IRAs and ROTH IRAs (if you're not priced out) allow.

One handy way to extend your tax-advantaged space: buy Series I and Series EE bonds from Treasury Direct. Both are tax-deferred until you cash them in. You can purchase up to 10K of each type per year. They are government-backed, highly-safe fixed-income instruments.

I bonds will pace inflation (like TIPS) for up to 30 years. EE bonds have low 'normal' yields but they automatically double after 20 years (so around 3.5%/year annualized, better than the rates on 20-year Treasuries). These rates are better than what you get on the open market.

And unlike normal bonds, they won't kick out payments that are taxable along the way - you can save the tax bill until you have a lean year then cash them back out (in the case of I bonds at least), or save them to the end of their lifespan (or until they double in the case of EE bonds).

conorgil145 2 days ago 2 replies      
As some others in this thread have said (and Patrick discusses in the post), there are lots of things you can do to much more directly impact your change of becoming rich and retiring well/early than optimizing your investments: get a really good salary and don't spend a lot of money. One blog which I have read is Mr Money Mustache [1], which focuses on those same concepts. Many of the posts are good reads.

[1]: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/all-the-posts-since-the-begin...

pbreit 2 days ago 4 replies      
1. Pay off credit cards & loans

2. Max out 401k, IRA

3. Put most of your money in cheap index fund like https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/lifestrategy/#/

Note: this is not investment advice

EGreg 2 days ago 3 replies      
I want to ask something. People always ask me why I rent and "waste money" instead of getting a mortgage etc.

I explain to them that I put most of the money I make into my company, and have a greater ROI than if I put the money into real estate. But, since I have to live somewhere, I rent.

Yet, I am not sure this argument is correct. If I had money for a down payment, perhaps the strategy of getting a mortgage would win in the long run. So, instead of getting into the details, I usually mention I also like to be able to change apartments every year or so.

What are your thoughts - those of you who have now, or have had, growing startups?

tominous 2 days ago 1 reply      
From personal experience, before you put all your spare money in the stock market, make sure you have the basics covered. Ask yourself, "What would happen if my partner or I couldn't work for a few years?"

Money: Set up life insurance, income protection insurance, and decent medical coverage.

Accommodation: You don't need to own your own home, but have some money available to cover rent or mortgage if needed.

Social: Don't let your social life revolve exclusively around work colleagues. Invest time in family and broader groups. Find a way to have achievements outside of work.

So this happened to me. My wife and I went from a very comfortable double income to countless hospital visits and no time or energy for anything else. And this is just after we had kids.

I'll be forever grateful that my wife set up the safeguards above. I was 100% invested in work, financially and socially, so it has been a huge shock and could have been much worse.

dennisgorelik 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's a good investment guide, but I disagree with Patrick's advice on Roth IRA. Roth IRA (unlike Traditional IRA) almost never makes sense.It is very unlikely that tax rate at retirement would be higher than tax rate now, because if your income at retirement is already high (meaning high-tax rate) then you are very unlikely to get money out of your retirement fund.You are much more likely to get money from your retirement fund at your low-income years, when tax rate is quite low already.
loeg 2 days ago 2 replies      
Since you are all forum nerds, y'all might also enjoy:

* https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/commontopics ("I have $X, what do I do with it?") (and the rest of the PF wiki is a good general resource as well)

* https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/ (How do I save enough to be able to stop working?)

* https://www.bogleheads.org/

MarlonPro 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm on our company's 401K plan. If you know nothing about how the stock market works, then the target date retirement fund is the way to go. The worst thing you could do is not participating in your company's 401K plan, especially if the company offers you matching dollars (Read: FREE MONEY). I started with a target date retirement fund (managed by Schwab) but almost 2 years ago, I decided to re-allocate my fund into 3 mutual funds: S&P 500, US Small-Mid Cap, and International Large Cap. I'm happy that I re-allocated my fund. Ramith Seti's "I will Teach You to be Rich" book inspired me. And, another influence that made me re-allocate my fund is the "Three-Fund Portfolio" principle by Boglehead's Guide to Investing. I don't currently have access to the funds that Bogle suggested, but if I have extra money to invest, I'd open a Roth IRA account (alongside my 401K) and do the following:


or ETF's

VTI 60%VXUS 30%BND 10%

These allocations follow the Boglehead principle of 3-Fund portfolio / Lazy portfolio

Analemma_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Investing for non-investors: whatever the question, if you have to ask, the answer is index funds.
runamok 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised by the 90% should invest in a Roth IRA vs. Traditional if they do not have access to a 401k. I would expect the growth of pre-tax dollars would outweigh having to pay taxes when I withdrawal. Put another way, I expect my retirement income to be 1/2 or less than my current income...
orestis 2 days ago 4 replies      
What is a Vanguard, Betterment, WealthFront equivalent for EU-residents?

Local banks usually offer a very small selection of funds and the fees are usually 2%, which has a huge impact.

jbpetersen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Alternately, a lot of people around here no doubt have unique opportunities to speculate on how specific technologies will progress.

If you can spot something that's genuinely original in how it blends things together, has enough expert mindshare to be a leader in its domain for the foreseeable future, stands good odds of capturing a decent amount of the value it creates for those who support it, and offers a way for you to throw money at it: throw money at it.

It's a completely different game from trading in more mature markets where politics and statistics become major forces alongside original innovation in determining what happens next.

tharshan09 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is very US based. Does much of this advice change, say if I were a, UK citizen? (other than the obvious 401k etc)
zeveb 2 days ago 1 reply      
> I havent written too much recently, which was largely because I was quite busy with Starfighter. Sadly, that wound down. On a happier note, I will now have a lot more time for writing, both personally and on behalf of Stripe, which I joined earlier this week.

As an aside, I'm sorry to read that Starfighter is closing down. Seemed like an interesting idea, and one that could have been good for both employers & employees. My best to tptacek I know that he'd high hopes for it.

marpstar 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I was working at Best Buy in college I was employed part time and they offered 401k. My mother instructed me to contribute as much as would max out their match, explaining that it was essentially "free money". I don't remember what the match was. I eventually rolled the whopping $2,600 into an IRA that's grown pretty well the past 8 years. It's a ridiculously easy thing to do that pays off, literally.
paolav 2 days ago 2 replies      
Any tips / guides for non-USA / european citizens?
somic 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Your company will probably extend a term saying We will match your contributions up to N% of your salary. You should always and under every circumstance invest enough money to max out your employer match. It is free money if you take it."

This is a reasonable default option but not necessarily the best for everyone.

There is a flaw in this statement - you are encouraged to save more today in order to maximize amount of money in your retirement account, with side effect of some immediate tax savings (which btw will not be in absolute figures but will be in rate - if you save more to 401k, your tax rate will be lower but amount of tax you will pay will still be higher).

If you are too far from retirement and have other goals that will come before retirement that could be very important to you, it becomes a decision just like anything else, not a no-brainer.

This is because of tax law - you are very constrained in your ability to take money from 401k before retirement if you need it.

icedchai 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm currently investing $1000/week into Vanguard funds. I've been doing this since 2007, started at $500/week, and gradually moved up. The key is to always be investing. Currently I am focused on international and energy. I feel these are "low" and will come back in 5 or 10 years. Maybe I'm a fool.

Sometimes, it is difficult to resist trying to time things, and if the market drops 2% or 3%, I'll buy more. So far, it has worked out, but holding on through massive losses can really hurt. Throwing your money into a correction can feel really strange. In February, I was down probably 40 or 50K over a month. But I stuck it out. I even bought some individual stocks (mostly SaaS companies) that are up 40% or 50% (CRM, HUBS, etc.)

nojvek 2 days ago 2 replies      
There are lots of words in here that someone new to stocks wouldn't understand. From the gist I make vanguard is a good starting point. Is there someone you can call talk for a consultation to explain this in a layman's language?
ArtDev 2 days ago 0 replies      
If I don't know where the profits are coming from and for what cost, investing may not for me.

There are a few companies with good ethics, mostly in tech, that I would invest in. I don't see myself investing in a mutual fund or index fund though.

freditup 2 days ago 5 replies      
If your company doesn't do any 401k matching, how worth is is to put money into it vs. regular investing? In my case it's likely I may want access to the money before retirement age, so I'm not sure what the best option is.
p8donald 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am in the EU and I am investing my money in peer-to-peer lending.

You lend your money to other people through the marketplace and they pay it back with interest. The ROI is about 10% to 15% per year. I think it is low risk since you can choose the type of the loans you want to invest in (loans secured by real estate or short term loans with buy back guarantees). You can also diversify since the minimum investment is 10.

I don't think you can invest hundreds of thousands or millions of euros (the market is not so big) but the market can definitely support tens of thousands of euros.

SimonPStevens 1 day ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain why he says that 90% of people should expect to have a higher marginal rate of tax at retirement and so are better saving to a Roth pension with post tax money now?

I'm UK based but the principles seem the same, and I'm fairly sure I'm paying more tax now than I will be after I retire.

anovikov 2 days ago 2 replies      
Any advice for non-Americans? I'd like to get to Vanguard but...
rudyl313 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've written up my philosophy on beating the market, which is a little less conservative with respect to believing that markets are efficient and investing in the indices is the only prudent way to invest:


3pt14159 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm getting really sick of hearing programmers tell me about the efficient market hypothesis as if it is some very hard rule, like big O notation.

The market is not efficient. Full stop. Stop telling me that I'm not going to beat the market. I beat the market all the time. In 2007 I was telling everyone I know that the housing market was about to burst. I sold all of my family investing company's stocks (except for Apple) and I moved everything into money markets / bank accounts. Bought back in during 2009, road the wave up until about last year I started feeling a bit skiddish and sold off not everything, but many things. I routinely pick individual stocks, like Apple, Telsa, Amazon, Bitcoin; that I know are better. Apple: iPhone is better. I don't care if some analyst at Goldman knew this before me 90% of the public was still talking about how Blackberry had a keyboard. Telsa: the physics made sense, plus Elon had that Silicon Valley-ness to him. Amazon I knew would win with AWS and the whole "ecommerce is a bear" thing. Bitcoin: People like drugs and buying things online, bought in at $4 a coin, have since sold almost all of it.

It is actually really easy if you are smart enough to be a programmer to beat the market. Just make sure you understand the domain you are in really well, and be cautious of overall trends in the economy. I've averaged 18% year over year returns with a diversified portfolio (yes, more than a quarter of that is bonds or and another quarter is super low risk dividend companies like consumer staples).

"Survivorship bias" I hear you say.

Maybe there should be this other word "suvivorship bias bias" where one is incapable of having their view of the efficient market hypothesis challenged because this is the only thing that comes to mind when they talk to someone about investing.

There are ways to do better than the S&P 500. Patrick is right about one thing though, you won't pick winning stocks from reading the newspaper but you might miss a 2008/2009 if you read The Economist instead of Time Magazine.



ozim 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think this should be opening sentece, after which a lot of people can just skip all other investment advice: "Only invest money you wont touch for 10+ years."
BeetleB 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good points. I'll point out that a 10 year window is too short.

Look at this post to get an idea of 5 yr vs 10 yr vs 20 yr vs 30 yr windows:


10 years has enough volatility that you shouldn't use it to compare between funds.

wyclif 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's very, very rare that I say to myself, "Self, I'm glad I read that sign-up email this morning." Thanks, Patrick.
k2xl 2 days ago 1 reply      
One issue with the Roth IRA. You're contribution limit goes to zero after you make more than around 180K (depending on how you file).
lamby 2 days ago 1 reply      
Any similar articles specific to a UK resident?
jsonmez 2 days ago 8 replies      
So, I thought I'd type up a bit of more detailed explanation of my story and why I think real estate is a great investment for software developers, since my previous comment was a little lacked.

I bought my first house when I was 19.

It's a little two bedroom shack in Boise, Idaho, which I bought in 1999 for $68,000.

I still have that little shack. Today it's worth about $135,000 and the tenants I had in it essentially paid the mortgage on it and I own it free and clear.

I've actually got 26 total rental units and I generate about $10k a month of almost completely passive income off of them, net.

I made a ton of mistakes along the way, but I learned quite a bit--which I'm happy to share.

Over the years, I tried to buy one property every year.

At first I could only afford small properties and would put 10% down, so I was a bit leveraged.

But, eventually I was able to afford bigger properties and put more money down.

I always bought properties using 30 fixed loans and that ended up working out well.

I watched in horror as many of the other investors I knew--who were really speculators--went under, during the big housing crash.

I actually thrived during this time, picking up properties for cheap.

All the time I was working as a software developer, I had this goal of retiring early.

I kept saving as much as I could and investing real estate... little by little.

Like I said, I made mistakes, but learned from them and got smarter as I got more experienced.

Eventually, I had built up enough cash flow to actually "retire." This happened a few years ago.

Why is real estate such a good investment?

Well, I think there are two main factors: leverage and hedging against inflation.

Leverage is extremely powerful.

A bank will lend you a large amount of money, sometimes 90% or more, for you to invest--if you buy real estate.

This isn't the case with other investments.

So, you can buy a house for $100k, put $10k of your own money into it and if it goes up 10%, and is worth $110k, you make 100% return on your $10k.

That's insane. I don't know other investments where that is possible with such low risk--if you mitigate the risk properly.

Now, I don't depend on appreciation--and you can't count on it--but, you don't even need it.

Just the cash flow alone can get you excellent returns on your money. Again, with little risk and huge upsides.

Hedging against inflation is also a beautiful part of real estate investment.

Most other investments are hurt by inflation, real estate isn't.

In fact, if you owe money on a mortgage and inflation hits, you actually owe less.

Home values go up with inflation, as do rents.

I know it's a bit difficult to believe--I probably wouldn't if I hadn't done it myself--but, I have done it and I did escape the rat race.

Anyway, if you'd like to know more, let me know and I'll post the link to my YouTube videos and the video course (that is in beta) that I am releasing on specifically real estate investment for software developers.

cloudjacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Crowdfunding has a bit of an adverse selection problem, where only companies which are insufficiently attractive to more professional angels

They mean every idea that doesn't have a 10 billion market to disrupt and gain 1% of

Its crowded at the bottom, enjoy the liquidity preference!

pmorici 2 days ago 0 replies      
Whoa, startfighter.io is winding down? That is the first I've heard of that.
torkins 2 days ago 0 replies      
For an audience that might be interested in being a bit more self-directed, take a look at the approach of the guys at http://tastytrade.com.
simonista 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have suggested reading on what the estimates of 8% (or 7% or 5% or whatever gets used) are based on? Is there any data to support that the next 30 years will see those types of returns from the total market on average?
_audakel 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good point - on Should I Invest In Crowdfunding?

"Crowdfunding has a bit of an adverse selection problem, where only companies which are insufficiently attractive to more professional angels .... go"

vehementi 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a 3rd option which is to not eat robo advisor fees (0.6%-1%) and instead do the purchases yourself through a brokerage. Option #1 doesn't really dominate this.
eigenvalue 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another idea that has worked very well historically: buy spin-offs. As a category, they consistently outperform for a variety of structural reasons (forced selling, lack of awareness/coverage, perverse management incentives at the time of the spin that often lead to a low share price, better management from increased focus,etc.) This free site has a list of upcoming spins: http://www.stockspinoffs.com/upcoming-spinoffs/
DocG 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not a bad investment plan. I do real estate. Earn around market medium and will have initalt investment to pull out or give to children at my will.
seangrogg 2 days ago 2 replies      
A great post on the whole, but out of curiosity does anyone know how he arrived at $40k off of $1m with present-day examples?
neur0tek 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great post. Love Vanguard
YZF 1 day ago 2 replies      
I agree with some of the points but a note of caution. Stock markets today are significantly different than those of the past and the kind of low interest rate, low growth environment, we've been in over the last decade or so has no precedent.

"In the 10 year period from 2006 to 2015, the average return was a little lower than 8%"

From the peak of the '99 bubble till around today we have about 2% yearly return on the S&P 500 (excluding dividends). You would actually do much better if you were in bonds. Between '99 and '09 you would actually lose money. Two takeaways from these, one is that you can't just pick some period and build a theory over that, the second is that when you're invested in stocks there is a non-negligble probability of losing money over a 10 year horizon. The only reason stocks are so high these days is that their prices are supported by zero interest rates. That doesn't mean they can't go higher for various reasons but you need to be cautious. Everyone talks about buying stocks right about when things get frothy, not too many people post this sort of financial advice at the doom and gloom bottoms. Over long periods, dollar cost averaging, you'll do OK. Don't rush in at a top and obviously don't sell at a bottom, something a lot of people end up doing.

Privately held tech companies, especially startups, can actually have a better return vs. public companies. The problem is not the return, the problem is getting a strong, diversified portfolio. Unless you are a VC you can't really do that. In general small caps tend to outperform large caps and startups tend to outperform small caps, in aggregate, over long durations. It's really not about out-picking stocks, it's about being able to diversify.

There are a few factors affecting diversification. Different markets and asset classes tend not to be perfectly correlated. This means that some may be overvalued at the same time that some our undervalued. While it's not always easy to tell (sometimes it is easy, when no one wants to buy) I would think one should offset their weighting to areas they consider to have better value. As long as those areas are themselves well diversified (e.g. Europe or Emerging Markets) the long term risk you are taking is low. The other factor is that having multiple assets allows you to construct a better portfolio. This is known as the "Efficient Frontier". Assuming you have some information about how the different assets correlate with each other (which is a big assumption but still) you can combine those assets to create a higher returning portfolio with less risks.

Personally I'm invested in a mix of stocks (worldwide), fixed income, real estate (through funds) and bonds. I keep adding to this. I make some macro bets (e.g. I've been heavier Brazil, Greece, emerging markets, junk bonds ATM) through long term weighting of my portfolio and I keep an eye on those. Out of my current bets Greece hasn't worked out (yet) but the others have. YMMV. These are not the kind of bets where I can suffer heavy losses over extended periods (IMO) but there's certainly increased risk. I don't expect US stocks to have great returns over the next decade or so but I'm still in there with some portion of my investment. My horizon is 10-20 years and I very rarely sell anything (except the stock I get from work :). I try to buy when people are panicking but it's hard to find good panic these days ;)

bluetwo 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you are self-employed and incorporated, and are really crushing it, you can open both a 401k and a Roth 401k to maximize the amount you can stuff away.
perseusprime11 2 days ago 0 replies      
related topic but how important is having a financial advisor?
thr0waway1239 2 days ago 1 reply      
Just to play devil's advocate, what if Peter Schiff is right again? :-)
dschiptsov 1 day ago 1 reply      
jernejpregelj 2 days ago 2 replies      
jsonmez 2 days ago 2 replies      
asciihacker 2 days ago 4 replies      
Forex, Binary Options and Cryptocurrency can return in months what traditional investing takes decades to do.

I know which I prefer.

alejohausner 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why don't geeks read Mark Hulbert? Every time I see people discussing investing, it's usually about index funds. Stock picking is supposedly fool's gold, so you should buy the whole market, or so goes common wisdom.

But the market can be brutal. It can have decades-long stretches of terrible returns. If you had all your money in index funds, and retired in 1929, you would have made no money for 25 years. If you retired in 1967, 15 years. If 2000, 10 years. Do you have 10 years of living expenses saved up?

There are good stock pickers out there, people who focus on fundamentals. And you don't have to take their word for it. Mark Hulbert has been subscribing to many stock pickers' newsletters, trying out their picks, and reporting objectively on the results since 1980. Some libraries subscribe to his monthly report, but since investing is a very long-term process, the same handful of newsletters keep showing up in the report: you only need to look at a few recent Hulbert reports to find good stock pickers.

Tesla Wins Contract to Help Power the California Grid bloomberg.com
532 points by adventured  3 days ago   210 comments top 26
toomuchtodo 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think its important to note, for those who complain Tesla can't compete against pumped storage or other utility scale storage methods, that Tesla is able to have this deployed in 3 months (this is partly because Tesla can just drop racks of batteries on site and be up and running, and partly because of the regulatory environment after the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage complex leak fiasco).

Edit: This will replace the need for peaker plants first (generators of last resort, very expensive, only run a handful of hours a year), and as the cost drops, will slowly push out base load coal and natural gas (by increasing the capacity factor of solar and wind). "Batteries are the new peaker plants", as it were. [1] [2] [3]

This is what it looks like when batteries are used to offset fossil fuel generators (instead of curtailing excess wind and solar, it'll be soaked up by utility batteries such as these). Frequently, depending on renewables output, the spot of price of power can go negative. This means someone gets paid to use that power. This is where utility scale battery storage shines, as its happy to gobble up that power, being paid to do so, and can later be paid to release that power when demand is high.

Edit 2: If Tesla can book this revenue in Q3, combined with their vehicle sales push, they're going to be GAAP profitable for the quarter, which will allow them to close the Solar City acquisition. Well played.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaking_power_plant

[2] http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/dueling-charts-o...

[3] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-22/batteries-...

ChuckMcM 3 days ago 3 replies      
One of the things I wish I could buy would be a Bloom Energy 2kW natural gas fuel cell and a 50kWh LiON battery pack with whole house inverter.

The nice thing about the Bloom fuel cells is very efficient conversion of natural gas to electricity, the weakness is that it's response time is long (an hour or more to change its output by 50%). The nice thing about LiOn battery packs like the ones in Tesla cars are that they respond instantly to various power demands, can deliver massive amounts of power in a short period of time, and recharge again and again.

This combination would let me supply all of my house power under all circumstances using nothing but natural gas. That would take my house completely off the grid infrastructure for PG&E (although I would still be a gas customer).

C'mon Elon, make it possible! :-)

1024core 3 days ago 7 replies      
> Tesla's contribution is enough to power about 2,500 homes for a full day

This is < 0.1% of the total number of homes in SoCal, just to put it in perspective.

mirekrusin 2 days ago 1 reply      
So California gets big rechargeable batteries, interesting.

Does it mean Solar City (pending acquisition by Tesla) will speed up building Gigafactory and that's how Tesla will deliver it?

And does it mean that the market was wrong with recent Solar City stock drop?

I'm assuming this is just a "pilot" and, if executed happily, can keep doubling capacity every x months, driving battery prices down, leveraging it as an further advantage over fossil alternatives.

I'm assuming I'm completely wrong because I don't see any spikes in Solar City stock prices?

ps. Bit off-topic but when opening this article I've decided to disable adblock for bloomberg, just because they made bucklescript :P

foota 3 days ago 1 reply      
There was a really neat class I took in college on the economics of elctricity markets, and one of the things you discuss is base vs peak power generating plants (as discussed other places in this thread) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacity_factor seems to be a nice introduction to the idea.
h4nkoslo 3 days ago 6 replies      
Musk really does seem to be following his pattern of maximally engaging government contracts and subsidies.

(That's not necessarily a criticism, just an observation, and one others have made before.)

KamiCrit 2 days ago 4 replies      
I love Tesla and Elon Musk as much as the next person.

But isn't it a little crazy how much Elon is betting on 18650 lithium ion batteries.

I really hope I'm mistaken and they have a homemade battery package made up.

pkaye 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what happened to Bloom Energy. Wasn't their technology suited for this kind of use?
xyuuu 2 days ago 0 replies      
No doubt that Tesla is a great company although it face many serious problems right now.Tesla represents tomorrow and future.
giovannibonetti 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish reporters would know that (mega)watts is not an energy storage unit. I think they mean (mega)watt-hour.
honkhonkpants 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why doesn't Panasonic just cut out the middleman here? Are they afraid of making their own deals in america?
prawn 2 days ago 0 replies      
From the Tesla blog:

Addressing Peak Energy Demand with the Tesla Powerpackhttps://www.tesla.com/blog/addressing-peak-energy-demand-tes...

tbarbugli 2 days ago 1 reply      
"The deal fits into Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk's long-term vision of transforming Tesla from an an electric car company to a clean-energy company. That's the same motivation behind his pending deal to acquire SolarCity Corp., the rooftop solar company founded by his cousins, of which he is also chairman and the largest shareholder."

Yeah man, what a lucky coincidence your cousin can help you saving the planet!

dragontamer 2 days ago 0 replies      
To put some numbers into perspective. Texas recently purchased 317MW of CAES.



Pumped Hydro is 3GW (Giga-watts): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_County_Pumped_Storage_Sta...

And has a storage capacity of ~10 hours (that's 30GW approximately).


20MW isn't exactly "massive" in the utility scale.

Lagged2Death 2 days ago 0 replies      
A positive development, sure. But 80MWH is a little less than the amount of energy a 1GW power plant produces every five minutes.

I want alternative energy to work, but it's sobering to see the scale of the problems involved. It doesn't seem to me that laptop batteries scale up so well. If I were forced to place a bet on the future of grid-scale storage, I'd look for something else.

allendoerfer 3 days ago 1 reply      
I find it weird how technological process sometimes plays out. We have been complaining for decades about how green energy is unreliable and that we need innovative storage solutions. And now batteries somehow seem to be good enough and we are like: "Hey, why don't we put a bunch of batteries in a container?" Proving ones again that economy trumps technology.

The next really big thing after green energy will be recycling. Not that it matters to our generation.

oneplane 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why there are so many power grid issues in the USA. It's not that hard to generate power and make it go from A to B, yet for some reason (political? commercial? geological?) there seem to be decades of general issues in generating enough to meet demand. Does someone know what the actual issue is?
esemor 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think Tesla is a better contractor than when California tried something similat with Enron in the late 90's.
PatentTroll 2 days ago 0 replies      
It isn't mentioned in the article, but one of the advantages of something like battery storage is the ability to regulate consumption and production on a millisecond timescale to regulate grid frequency. Anyone know if that is a part of the project here?
Faaak 2 days ago 1 reply      
"will supply 20 megawatts (80 mWh) of energy"

Confusing milli and mega is not very serious for bloomberg..

nraynaud 2 days ago 1 reply      
So maybe it's time to re-open the debate on AC vs DC in power distribution? :p
Roritharr 2 days ago 1 reply      
Without reading this somewhere or having anything to back it up: This, combined with the acquisition of SolarCity, looks like a move to get Tesla into a different Asset Category to make it even cheaper to loan money. If they can be seen in the same risk/asset-category as a power utility, they can rely even more heavily on loans.

Does anyone know if that would be a viable strategy?

JoeAltmaier 3 days ago 2 replies      
OP seems confused, claims these battery packs will 'replace fossil fuels'. Under some misconception that the batteries get charged for free or something.
charlesetc 3 days ago 4 replies      
Why do you all rely on oil? Just use batteries...


I think it's important to note that they are not "replacing fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries".

They are putting fossil-fuel supplied electricity into batteries to use at a later date.

jgalt212 2 days ago 1 reply      
More corporate welfare for the Corporate Welfare Queen.
klakier 2 days ago 2 replies      
What a bullshit. I'd call this Russian way of doing business, where you benefit from unhealthy connections with state. 2500 houses? Go find out how many houses are there in California.
Old Geek Jobs: fighting against ageism in the industry oldgeekjobs.com
530 points by omouse  3 days ago   374 comments top 51
tjic 3 days ago 17 replies      
I think that the "Bay Area scene" is different from much of the world.

I think that part of human nature is that people like people who are like themselves, so you sometimes get these insular / discriminatory sub cultures that judge people on superficial traits instead of the quality of their minds. From both this article and the tales of many friends, San Francisco strikes as one of these low-tolerance / high-discrimination places.

I live in NH, on a farm and work (mostly) remotely. I've got a network of contacts, I get pinged w requests for contracting work, I do the job, I get paid. No one asks me about my age (45) or judges me because of it.

Personally, I dislike places where people are provincial and close-minded, so I'll stick to the rural countryside and leave SF to the bigots.

johnwheeler 3 days ago 8 replies      
Hi Everybody,

I'm the creator of the site the down blog in the OP links to https://oldgeekjobs.com. I developed it as an MVP last night in one hour.

The blog looks like it's getting crushed under load, so here's the content of the post:

Check out https://oldgeekjobs.com/ if youre over 30.

In the software development industry its hard to get hired when you get past 35 and are still just a developer. Employers look down on you because youre too smart, or they think youre too stupid because you never wanted to be a manager. Employers will use the excuse of culture fit to exclude you and get you out of the hiring pool. Youre too smart to be tricked into working 60 hours a week for zero equity and zero bonuses. Youre too smart to be working on a legacy code base that has low quality and will hurt your future career prospects. Employers know that which is why they love to hire fresh faces out of school and under 30s; give tech companies your young and naive to burn them out and make them piles of cash. Youre experienced enough to avoid that demoralizing burning out.

Check out https://oldgeekjobs.com/ because there may just be a job for you, a place where you wont be discriminated against just because youre getting older and wiser.

sAuronas 3 days ago 3 replies      
Old (40) geek here. I think I have two pennies-worth to share here. I came to the industry at 38. I left real estate development when I couldn't overcome the unemployment history gap in my resume, despite working for KB Home, Toll Brothers and on the largest redevelopment project in Chicago history (Stateway Gardens housing project to Park Boulevard). I was living in the Bay Area at the time I made the transition (finally). I can tell you first hand - the culture fit thing as a means to discriminate is real. I will say that I at least had interviews. Interviewing felt good after not even getting an email for - any - job applied for in real estate. I got a response for - every - job applied for the in Bay (minus FB and Pandora, you guys suck).

After 6 months of interviews in the Bay, I gave up (due to cost) and decided to try another market... less than 6 weeks and I had a job in Charlotte. I had my first iOS role at a startup another 6 months after that. Even after the startup coughed me up (thanks again Zomato), I was able to get another iOS job in a month. I won't mention (any other) names but I can say that the culture fit issue doesn't really exist outside the Bay.

And to any decision makers out there, you are making a mistake if you assume someone like me can't fit on a team of 18-30 y/o. I fit in so well, in fact, that almost all of my new connections on LinkedIn are these same 18-30 y/o. I have made more friends with interns than I did when I was the age to intern. And my 20 year-old friends have no fear in making fun of my age just as I have no fear in making fun of theirs. We even talk sH$@! about race (oh yeah, I'm also black).

The experience has been awesome for me as well as them (I believe). So, the next time you have a chance to hire an old dev who just wants to be a fu$!@E~!! DEV - just hire her.

makecheck 3 days ago 4 replies      
I think that age is correlation, not causation.

Whats really happening is two things. First, companies typically dont like paying people lots of money (even if they are great at blowing millions on other mindless things). Second, these companies do not understand that their unwillingness to hire expensive people is causing months of bug-chasing and monkey-patching in their products.

When your organization is under the impression that a developer is a developer, new college grads willing to work for peanuts are very attractive. It takes a good manager to understand that someones decades of experience or advanced degree really is worth a lot more money, and not just in the long run. Experienced people have seen more programming constructs in more languages, they have encountered more examples of APIs in more libraries, they have made more mistakes and learned from them, they are more likely to be able to apply suitable algorithms and data formats to problems, and so on. Also, having experienced people on staff actually gives your new developers somebody to learn from.

abz10 3 days ago 1 reply      
I worked at Microsoft Redmond in 2009. They have a private uber like transport system. Around once a week the driver would hand me their resume and ask that I pass it on to my manager. It turns out that many of them had worked in the industry and were trying to get back in. They had a lot of experience and big important job titles etc. Mostly from the 2001 tech boom. That was my wake up call. If I'm not careful someday I will be the one handing out resumes to passengers.

So I focused on skills and went into contracting as soon as I could. Now the reason I don't work for startups is that they keep trying to pay me with a mystery box of stock options and I'm not buying it.

Another bonus about contracting, apart from the money and flexibility, is that you get left out of company politics.

So tl;dr... Life doesn't owe you anything. And I recommend contracting as a career / lifestyle choice.

ravenstine 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's too bad that many of us(in general, not on HN) are too lazy to judge a person based on what they actually offer vs a number attributed to them. People who are 50+ are perfectly capable at learning and writing good code, and it really isn't hard to recognize someone with a sharp mind.

However, lots of people allow their minds and bodies to rot as they get older. My parents, as much as I love them, are not very employable at this point(at least not when compared to a younger candidate). They don't get much exercise and spend a large chunk of the day sitting in front of the boob tube. They are smart people, but their ability to learn new things has gone way down, and I have noticed they are a little more gullible than they used to be. Meanwhile, I have friends who are in their 50s and they have the energy, motivation, and learning abilities of someone in their 20s.

I wonder if this has something to do with the exercise they get, and the lack of TV watching. The calorie defecit from both those things probably slows their aging a tad too. I think if you want to be programming at age 50, you can easily add years, perhaps decades to your youthfulness by taking some basic care of both body and mind. It may seem like an obvious statement, but most people don't actually do this, and it shows in people my age who have the habits of my parents while also drinking heavily and smoking way too much. It's kind of spooky when I see people who were once youthful looking, in their 20s, quickly start to look like they are in their 40s because they don't really take care of themselves beyond basic hygiene.

daxfohl 3 days ago 3 replies      
Half of a coder's value is understanding "unspoken" requirements. In other words, "having experience in the industry". Or "domain-specific knowledge"

Back in the day, there were different industries to have experience in. Jet engines, medical devices, etc. Beyond that, nothing had/needed/understood software. For better or worse, it was a pinnacle.

These days "the industry" is "teens using snapchat". The further you are removed from that, the less valuable you are as a coder.

There are still of course jet engines and medical devices to be built, but (as a statement to our society?) those products and thus those skills are not as valuable as advertising.

Even more sadly, this trend is just the start. The current 40's-ish coders have their own industry experience to fall back on. The next generation of coders that will have nothing but 15secOfFame-centric jobs will have nothing to fall back on as younger 15msOfFame-centric things come in.

At some point we'll have to recognize coding as an NFL-style career. Get what you can while you can; you'll be a car salesman soon enough. Granted NFL players have 100x the pay plus public visibility that can help them after they retire.

None of this matters because the Earth will be sand in 20 years anyway. (Sorry I'm still digesting http://xkcd.com/1732/)

SadWebDeveloper 3 days ago 5 replies      
The sad part is that when you reach that age (31 here) is you start looking at the "new trend" (ex Angular, React and NodeJS) as unnecesary and the "new devs" that doesn't have any experience on making and maintaining long term projects (> 5 years) look at this as the holy grail technology and if you aren't using that technlogy it means you aren't as efficent as the "new guys" so you either migrate to management (which sucks), change industries or became a private just another entrepenur.
alex-yo 3 days ago 5 replies      
Well, a funny thing, I'm not old, I'm just 37. In my country I need to work for the next 30 years to retire.

However companies don't want to talk with me about getting a job regardless my 14 year of commercial experience. Sometimes I hear during an interview "oh, you did so many things, I wish I could have the same experience". And then I don't get this job.

And no, I'm not expensive. I usually don't get to the point where they ask me for the money.

I'm thinking about starting my own company with my own products. This will be much harder, but it's better to have this kind of job than none.

And I just stopped replying to the job adverts with "young team".

employee8000 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm in my mid 40s and have not had any problems getting interviews and job offers. It might depend on your attitude and your skill set. There might be a time when my age will become a factor but not yet.

I've more than accepted that kids half my age are very talented and I need to prove my worth. Boy there are 26 year olds that I work with that are so mature and intelligent that it makes me worry. But my experience does buy some benefits, namely in how careful I code and being able to spot architectural and code issues well before most of my coworkers.

Meanwhile I'm spending 1-2 hrs every night reading and programming and learning new tech so that I don't fall behind. And it's not easy to do this, believe me but if it keeps me employed then I have to do it.

mattkevan 3 days ago 1 reply      
The person who wrote this is 37.

Imagine how much harder it is for a Guy I know. He's in his early 60s and has been looking for a job for over six months. Every interview he's had goes really well until they realise he's not 23. Then it's all 'Err, we want someone less technical.' Or 'Err, you're too technical for the role.'

This is someone with over 40 years industry experience, from designing and building mainframes to working on cutting-edge image processing, to managing teams of engineers and more.

Incidentally, if anyone knows of a role which may be suitable for someone like him he'd be really interested.

fatdog 3 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone state honestly and pseudonymously why they don't hire oldz?

Speculating I would say:

- chose younger hire because cheaper and can be moulded into company specific role. - younger candidate more easily managed by less experienced (cheaper) manager.- wants to keep culture "pure," and needs kids to drink kool-aid. - values power and control over less experienced technically acceptable candidates.- get extra effort and all nighters out of people who think they need "experience." - want to leverage kids love of novelty to react and respond to developments that seem like minor details to people with experience.- younger people have less sensitivity to change. - early stage companies want to reduce exposure to risk from having to re-negotiate once key developer has them by balls.

If you are old, present as harmless. The more hippy dippy and spergy you come off as, the less threatening you will be, the more you will disarm clients/employers.

eranation 3 days ago 2 replies      
Could be just me but it seems to me that for some jobs (Architects, tech leads) in enterprise-ish industries (Big data / Java / Spring / Cloud) they look (at least from job posting) for ridiculous years of experience. I for one (nearing my 40's) didn't see any problem landing any job (non SF area, mostly Java/Scala/Spring and Spark/Hadoop on AWS). I get tons of LinkedIn recruiter spam, and it's easy to tell my age from my work/education history.

I did feel really a bad vibe interviewing for a couple of SF based startups, got rejected once for being "to enterprisy, won't fit our startup culture". I think it was because I mentioned using an IDE, God forbid.

So it might be a big issue in some cultures / areas. I don't see it in the Enterprise world at least.

arca_vorago 3 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I feel like ageism as an industry social thing doesn't properly reveal the details behind why businesses make the decision to get rid of or stay away from the greybeards.

In reality, greybeards are harder to manage, command higher salaries, and don't put up will bullshit. Basically, managers want a young pliant fool willing to spend three years putting in 60-70 hours a week before he realize he is fucking himself over.

So in this case, I would argue ageism in the industry is mostly about money and business-culture, not techno or geek-culture.

One lesson I learned early in life was to listen to the old timers, It applies here as well, we spurn the oldies at our peril, for they learned lessons we have forgotten and are trying to resolve.

ArtDev 3 days ago 0 replies      
When you are young you can get by as "just a developer". Luckily, for most of us, you end up honing into a specific technology given enough time.

Employers are willing to go great lengths to find the right kind of experience. Combine this with 100% remote jobs and you don't need to worry about getting old in this industry.

20yrs_no_equity 3 days ago 2 replies      
Unlike most engineers I want to be a manager. But it seems there is no opportunity for that. It seems that the non-engineers who are in the executive positions want non-engineers to manager engineers perpetuating the problems startups have.

There are few engineering management positions listed. The few I saw in the bay area resulted in excluding me because of my age (Stripe, I'm looking at you.)

It's frustrating to keep being pushed into individual contributor roles and then have low quality engineering managers hired in above you. (And I know I can do it because I end up leading teams all the time, they naturally form a round me. The members of the team are very happy with me- I have no authority but I end up leading them anyway.)

So I think the route for "old" folks is blocked also by the desire of non-engineers to make engineering management be done by non-engineers.

rdtsc 3 days ago 0 replies      
If your company doesn't have older geeks or is explicitly excluding them in the hiring process, it is missing out. Having worked in an environment with engineers of all ages, I learned a lot from older experience engineers.

Over the years they've seen and accumulated a lot of experience related to how systems work, how code works, domain knowledge. You'll never get that if you hire only college kids.

Someone I worked with just retired last year. He was perhaps not like the famous (infamous now) 10x programmer, but he was easily a 5x programmer. Because he learned how to learn better, he was also faster at picking up new technologies as well.

Also startups and many companies simply don't want to pay market rate for what an experienced engineer would demand. Also mature people are not as easy to bully and push around. It is harder to force them to work till 8pm every day.

bungie4 3 days ago 0 replies      
Coding a long day in and day out at 55 yrs old, I've been at it for 30+ years. Maintain and upgrade 911/Alarm/PERS/Telematics systems.

Self taught. I've never taken a computer course in any school. I do it because I love it.

jknoepfler 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who entered the industry at ~32 and was immediately hired into Amazon to work on a team in AWS where I am around the median age, I find this conversation peculiar. The job I worked myself through a second college degree with was on small software team that was all older than myself. I went on a round of interviews recently and got an offer from all of them... I definitely don't feel like I'm going to expire in 5 years.

Then again, I won't be an "SDE II" or whatever I am now in 5 years, I'll have started a business, gone into consulting, or gone back to school for a Ph.D (pick 2?). So I don't know.

I have yet to hear anyone I've worked with say something ageist or fearful about age at work. Everyone is very cheerful about their careers.

And to be clear, I'm very, very blunt with management and co-workers about work-life balance. I work 35-40 hours a week when things are slow and step it up when things get hot two or three times a year. I think it's irresponsible to work more hours (it stunts growth, limits productivity, and makes me unhappy).

I don't think that ageism isn't a problem, I guess I just haven't seen it. Then again I've always been sort of disgusted by gaggles of squirming kids, so I've probably self-selected where I've tried to find work. Why in the hell would anyone want to move to SV in their 40's+? That's like going to a college party to make friends or find a romantic partner in your 40's... the prospects are much greener and more attractive elsewhere.

This whole conversation strikes me as very odd.

gavanwoolery 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a good start (in fact I debated doing something similar after seeing all the recent articles on ageism).

But I think more than this, people need to understand why experience counts. Here is my opinion on the matter:

You can hire somebody young and they will probably be willing to work longer than an older person and probably get the job done sufficiently well, at a cheaper rate.

For many one-shot jobs, this is fine. But if you want to build something at scale, and have it be maintainable, and reduce your long term technical debt, you should get someone who has fought these battles before and understands the best way to take them on.

I'm speaking from the same experience that many others will: when we look at our younger selves, we realize how little we knew about organizing and maintaining a large project. Even as I age, I realize the me of just 3 years ago was relatively naive with regard to certain high-level tasks.

So, its not just about the hours you put in, how fast you can do competitive coding, and so forth. It is about the more nebulous parts of coding, the larger scope, the organization of a complex system. There is only one way to learn these things, the hard way: lots of time, lots of scars, etc.

enrmarc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Last time I read about age discrimination in software development, 40 (years) was the number. Now it seems it's 30. In 5 years I suspect that anyone above 25 will be considered "too old" for this profession.

Not so crazy if you think about it: right now, 30-year-old people have about 8 years of experience (assuming a 4-year degree) and, as this post suggests, are being discriminated. Now, imagine an 18-year-old guy that study a year (code camps?) to become a software developer and after that starts to work as one. At 25 he would have 6 years of real world experience (let's assume this guy likes the profession so he taught himself while working, in order to compare both developers). Who has more chance to be hired (under the assumption that age discrimination is still a thing in 2021)? 2 more years of experience doesn't seem too much and a 25-year-old guy seems to be more suitable to be tricked into working 60 hours a week for less money.

Update: grammar fix.

inestyne 3 days ago 0 replies      
Building from scratch since the early 80s. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that i've never really looked at my industry as a young man's sport. Young and dumb get chewed up and spit out on the first funding down-turn, which is about to happen again. They go out chasing shiney things, abused by ivy-leagues, and since they never had it to begin with, they don't come back. Seen it more that a few times so i'm not worried a bit.

So if your old and wise and still working congratulations! Maybe look back, if you can remember that far, and realize you've bern employed this entire time doing something you'd do for free if they didn't pay you.

Damm I love my job!

p.s. Remember the golden rule: Wait for critical mass, hijack, then do the same thing you did last time.


inputcoffee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I suspect we go from being too young and inexperienced to being too old and over-qualified without going through the Goldilocks sweet spot in between.
GrumpyNl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Started coding 35 years ago. Started some great companies in VRS(40 employees ), later internet(30 employees). Never left coding. Said goodbye to it all and became a freelance programmer. Love what i'm doing and i will still be coding in the future.
bikamonki 3 days ago 0 replies      
If I compare my me-now with my me-20-something I would definitely hire my me-now. I am now very productive b/c I've developed high focus, I make less mistakes, I've committed to a stack that solves most problems, I reuse my own code, I can see the big picture b/c I started coding in the mid 90's and I've developed the people/comm skills to actually understand what is required and translate that to code.

Experience matters a lot. I would also choose experience when selecting a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, etc.

We have a saying in Spanish: ms sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo ;)

nedsma 3 days ago 0 replies      
The ageism trend isn't supposed to live on. The average developer in the US (http://stackoverflow.com/research/developer-survey-2016#age-...) is 32. To young devs/execs employing someone who isn't close to their age range, may seem as not being the right culture fit. However, there are/there will be so many older developers, companies founded by older folks who will not shy away from their same age peers.
bphogan 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing that may help is for those with experience to do a lot more teaching and mentoring. A lot of the evangelism of new technology is done by younger, hungry people looking to advance their careers. The more experienced devs sound like complainers.

The people I respect and aspire to be are those who are currently in their late 40s or 50s talking about Elm and Elixir. They were the ones in their 30s and 40s telling me Ruby was it. They were right, because they used their experience.

SixSigma 3 days ago 0 replies      
Meanwhile in another thread [1]

California Today: San Diego Struggles to Keep Its Young Tech Talent [2]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12506131

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/15/us/california-today-techie...

exstudent2 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think a good path, not often discussed, is for older developers to dedicate some portion of their time developing side-projects that can create a passive (or not so passive) income stream.

Being "old" gives you a lot of time to try various ideas. Eventually some should stick if you're truly pushing your skills; not just programming skills but product/marketing skills as well.

Grangar 2 days ago 0 replies      
The sword cuts both ways. Meanwhile I'm 23, working in a webdeveloper job (not in the US, mind you) and housing is completely inaccessible to me. It seems like real estate owners value age over anything. I've been looking for 4 months now, been to 20 apartments, almost every time they chose someone else because they were older...

Both sides of the age spectrum have their merits. It sounds idiotic to me to argue that older people have it worse. Maybe in Silicon Valley they do, but I can't see that happening where I live (Netherlands)

whybroke 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish companies would post a spread of their developer ages on their careers page so we would know which ones not to waste time with. Because mere lip service about hiring solely on merit, even if the hirer somehow believes they are, really just wastes everyone's time.
user5994461 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't believe the lies a single second.

The truth is, it is NOT tough being 3X-4X in silicon valley.

What is tough is accepting to put up with startups about to fail, long hours, mediocre pay, little benefits and immature coworkers. That does limit the size of the job market.

That issue is faced by everyone, independently of their age. The youngers selves just happen to have lower standards in average

damaru 3 days ago 1 reply      
But don't ageism always happened to be reverse? I still roll my eyes when a early 20's try to sells me idea of marketing - and although you can have a lot of good ideas at that age, you still don't have life and work experience that is needed to go trough massive amount of stress or unknown situations. I think it's fine that kids who run new business don't want old folks in there. It's a bit of a return of the balance. If you're too old to get hired, how about starting a new business with other oldies?
marmot777 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's absurd. Most other industries, people get some respect for experience. I'd understand not hiring someone who had not kept up but people of any age can stop learning. If someone's on top of things, why would their age have anything to do with the hiring decision? Not being "into" the same things is flat out childish.
JohnLeTigre 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm no quiche eater, I will code until I die
smoyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only way to fight ageism is with reverse-ageism ... you can't meaningfully change the overall statistics without "penalizing those young'ins".

Disclaimer: I've got an AARP card so I'm obviously on the right side of this discrimination!

Uptrenda 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wish more websites were this clean and simple. I'm not being sarcastic but its genuinely nice not to have 10 million ads, banners, and tracking cookies load every time I refresh (and nice idea for the website too.)
bogomipz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is "cultural fit" a euphemism for age bias now? This is not the fist time I have her it used in this unfortunate context in the last few months. I feel bad that this happened to this person but I applaud his idea and hope it gains traction.
Pica_soO 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it would help alot to build the same stock of myths about old guys, who where let go and then had a come back on the youngsters. Most of this social machine is build from self-propelling myths, so if you would keep that up, agism dissolved.
mateo411 3 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose senior means something different on this job posting board.
PaulHoule 3 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, I know a lot of greybeards who stay in San Jose because they can afford to. They bought their house when prices were a lot less, and thanks to Prop 13 their taxes are low.
princetontiger 3 days ago 1 reply      
You know what? I worked for a large tech company (unnamed) a few years ago. There were tons of old people who viewed the younger folks in contempt. It can happen both ways.
gshakir 3 days ago 1 reply      
Come work for the government. Help to save tax payer's money and get paid well. Yes, the pace is slow but you can get lot accomplished in-between things.
dba7dba 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ageism is a clear and present bigotry. Just like racism, sexism, and etc.

And ageism was really born in Silicon Valley, of all places.

AStellersSeaCow 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think there's a fair amount of reporting bias in this issue, personally. I'd totally non-scientifically split older (over age 35) engineers into three rough categories. This is not meant to be comprehensive or empirical, it's just mirroring my anecdotal experiences as someone who has been in tech for 20 years:

- Average or better engineers. Between the facts that they are competent and have 10+ years of experience, they tend to have zero problem finding and keeping good, well-paying jobs. If they run into ageism, it gets lost in the flood of other offers they're likely to get in the same round of interviewing.

- Below average engineers. These may be the source of some of the ageism complaints, but it's missing the forest for the trees. They are a common sight in government/non-profit orgs or old first-mover companies: folks who may have "senior" in their title but have been doing simplistic work on the same outdated project for their whole career. Have trouble finding new jobs when they are inevitably laid off not because of their age, but because they simply aren't good engineers.

- Dinosaurs, ie- people who were good or even great engineers ten or twenty years ago, but have not kept their skills and knowledge base current. These are the people who are most likely to be affected by legit ageism, in my experience. A slightly fictionalized representative scenario from hiring a position at my last job, for work on a Java webservice: "Well, the 50-year-old blew through the whiteboarding in textbook C and can concisely enumerate the advantages of different caching policies off the top of his head, but has never used Java, worked on a web service, or used an RCS more modern than subversion. The 25-year-old struggled a bit in the coding exercise and gave an imperfect answer in the theory questions, but his resume has a link to his Github, which includes a RESTful webservice he wrote in Java. And the 50yo asked for the tip of the salary range, about 20% more."

I've faced that sort of decision quite a few times, and it's not easy. I could see why the older candidate would suspect ageism played a role if they didn't get the job. But the power is in the candidate's hands to create the better outcome: if the 50yo spends some time familiarizing themselves with marketable modern technologies then they get hired over less experienced candidates the vast majority of the time.

On a personal note, in the above scenario we did end up bringing on the 50yo with amazing fundamentals, and he was a total dud - possibly the worst hire I've ever made. Bungled almost every Git interaction, couldn't work in Linux and frequently screwed up deployments, great imperative code but all his architecture was early 90s-style spaghetti. The important takeaway that I tried to stress with the team wasn't that older devs can't learn and shouldn't be hired, just that THAT dev couldn't learn and shouldn't have been hired.

gregfjohnson 2 days ago 0 replies      
62-year-old developer here. I was at a small company until it lost funding and went under five years ago. At the age of 57, I was freaking out about finding a new job. Three weeks later, I was hired at my current company. Obviously this is a single data point, an anecdote, etc. However, I have seen the same scenario for several friends my age.

The place I work at needs to find and hire exceptionally talented people (embedded software in life-critical medical devices; sloppy or buggy code, someone could die.) It knows it does not have the allure of big names such as Google. So, it does something like the Oakland A's, and plays Money Ball. It goes for the pudgy, dumpy, overlooked players who always seem to get on base somehow. It knows it has no chance at the golden children, the 27-year-old Stanford PhD's who are perfect in every way. So, it casts a wide net, and looks closely at people who might be overlooked by other organizations.

I managed to luck into finding a great, well-connected recruiter. He was instrumental in helping me get placed quickly. And, as you've heard so many times you will probably scream if you hear it once more, "networking". A friend who already had a job at my new company put in a good word when I was going through the recruiting process.

I heard a great line about mathematicians: "Mathematics is a terrible profession. The only people who should do it are people who can't not do it." There are people out there who feel that way about programming. My daughter teases me that when I retire she knows exactly what I will do: spend more time hacking on open source projects.

The core truth of your inner being at some point overtakes you. If you live and breathe to code, if you still secretly wonder why people actually pay you to play all day with computers, you will be fine as you get older continuing to be a programmer.

One thing about getting older: You begin to realize, "Now is the time." No more resume padding, no more attempts at strategizing to optimize career moves down the road. No more doing things you hate in order to lay the groundwork for that ineffable special something that seems to beckon from just over the horizon.

Older people don't need to be told, "Be honest with yourself, find your passion" etc. Been there, done that. Life will do that to you. Expect that when you are in your 50's or 60's, you will have settled in to what really does work for you. For some, it is software development. For others, it is full-time church work. (My wife.) For others, it is gardening. (A retired former executive I wave to every morning as I'm heading out to work.)

Bottom line: You would not want to work at a place that is too arrogant and stupid to consider older job candidates, or that turns its nose up at anyone who does not fit a preconceived template, or that looks to monetize the naivete of young developers. Their loss. They are doing you a favor by passing you over. Screw them.

futureproofd 3 days ago 0 replies      
What geezer configured this webserver? Link is down >:(
karma_vaccum123 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm 46 now and holding out until I get to 50, at which point I fully intend to promote myself to employers as a token they can put in their diversity promotional material they promote as an antidote to criticisms.
tn13 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am 30 and I recently changed my apartment because there were simply too many old people in the complex. I want to live in apartments where there are plenty of girls who just crossed the legal age limit to drink.

We all love youth and there is a good reason for why so. But at the same time because we are older and we tend to have more money and control more stuff. Most of the 30 something coders will rise up to the higher positions in next 10 years.

vemv 3 days ago 11 replies      
You don't want to be coding by age 50 anyway. Sooner or later it has to end.

If you are a young programmer and your salary merely covers your costs of living (including leisure etc), it seems to me that you need a plan.

I gave commit rights to someone I didn't know jakewins.com
767 points by jakewins  1 day ago   91 comments top 30
perlgeek 21 hours ago 6 replies      
Let me tell you the story of how I got involved in the Perl 6 community.

I was trying to find out how Perl 6 was progressing, and found a broken link on a related website (pugscode.org, now defunct). So I went into the #perl6 IRC channel to report it.

Within three minutes, Audrey Tang (to become minister without portfolio in Taiwan in October) had committed a fix, somehow found an email address of mine, and sent me a commit bit to the central SVN repo that contained the Pugs project (the Perl 6 implementation in Haskell she was working on), the source to various websites, the Perl 6 test suite, and a lot of other stuff around the ecosystem. Just because I reported a broken link.

It was the most inclusive community I've ever experienced.

They had written a custom web app to manage email-based invites to an SVN repo, where everybody with commit access could invite somebody else.

Today, we try to carry on her inclusiveness, and give just about everybody who wants write access to all repos of the perl6 organization on github. We have a github team with more than 220 members and about 40 repos, including the Perl 6 design documents, the official test suite, the perl6.org website and the official docs. I haven't heard of a single instance of vandalism or other misuse of the trust.

Want to contribute to Perl 6? Just tell me your github username!

mjs7231 1 day ago 6 replies      
Ha, Same thing happened to me with the SAME contributor!! Benjamin Bach is an awesome dude. He helped me maintain django-dbbackup for quite some time then we found a third contributor, Anthony Monthe, who is also very interested in the project and I would say owns it now. It's been maintained by those two for quite some time now. I wish there was a way for me to buy them both a bunch of rounds of beer. :D
daurnimator 1 day ago 2 replies      
I did the same thing..... and then the contributor took contributions from others that added security holes, removed cross platform support, and had what I consider to be low code quality. I've now disowned that project.

Therefore, I'm extremely hesitant to hand out "commit bit"s again. To make up for it I try and review PRs the day of submission; even then I don't get a lot of contributions.

There seems to be a inherent trade off between security+quality and how welcoming you are to new contributors.

On the other hand, I have taken over maintainership for some projects; but it was after months of steady contributions.

nailer 1 day ago 2 replies      
Same thing happened to me: I wrote the module that does Microsoft Office files in Python. At the time, the solutions for doing it in Python were 'talk to some Java library' or 'talk to some .net library'. I read the openxml spec and made something which did basic creation, extracting text, modifying docs.

I totally didn't have time to maintain it, then Scanny took over. It's now hugely popular, the code handles non-Word OpenXML docs, and most of the code has been added or refactored under Scanny.


raphman_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
> I dont recall the author now, but the gist of the argument made was that were too protective of our code - if you give someone responsibility, show that you trust them, more often than not, your intuition about people abusing their freedom is way off.

Maybe it was some of Pieter Hintjens writing and/or the C4 process:

* https://rfc.zeromq.org/spec:42/C4/

* http://hintjens.com/blog:112

* http://hintjens.com/blog:106

Edit: oh, as the author mentions a blog post from 2012, it probably isn't any of the above posts (which are newer) but maybe something related to C4.

gramakri 1 day ago 0 replies      
Similar story - I wrote KDocker (https://git.girish.in/projects/kdocker). It was stuck to Qt3 and I had no motivation to move it to Qt4 since it was a lot of work. Out of blue, John comes along and does a full Qt4 port. I decided to take a chance and transferred ownership of the project to him. I trusted him only because he had already written a lot of code to improve the project. It turned out to be a great decision (or luck). I just checked how it's doing today and he is still keeping it alive after all these years! (https://github.com/user-none/KDocker). Thanks John!
jlgaddis 1 day ago 4 replies      
I was introduced to open source software in 1996 and have been a huge advocate since. About five years ago, I decided to quit my job and, shortly thereafter, went out in search of a project I could contribute to in my spare time (which was now much more abundant).

I quickly discovered that a particular piece of software I used daily wasn't really being maintained all that well, despite the fact that there were several contributors listed on its home page. A few dozen bugs reports (some even including patches!) had come in, yet only a few had even been acknowledged.

This seemed like exactly the type of project I was looking for -- something that I used every day and could help improve. I sent an e-mail to the developers stating that I was going to be devoting some time to the project, sending patches in for the bugs, etc., and asking if there was "anything I should know" before jumping in. I spent a lot of time reviewing the previous discussions on the mailing lists, examining their previous commits to see how they did things, and so on.

One of the developers finally replied -- about a week later -- and asked for my SSH key. I sent it to him and he quickly gave me commit access, thanked me for the assistance, yadda yadda.

I closed out umpteen bugs, responded to previously unanswered messages on the mailing lists, and sent patches to the developers list asking for feedback before I committed anything. Having received no responses, eventually I committed all the changes and pushed them into the master branch. Questions that I had to the other developers went unanswered, just like all the previous bug reports and user-submitted patches had.

After a while, I just quit spending any time on it. Perhaps a month after my latest fix, I look at my e-mail one day to see a flood of notification e-mails about commits. The lead developer had reverted every single commit I had made. I was looking for -- expecting -- some explanation but never received one, even after I finally directly asked, "WTF did I do wrong!?".

Nothing. No response, to this day. I eventually said "fuck it", deleted my private key, unsubscribed from the lists, and moved on. I just looked and there are still bugs open today that were open back then.

The sad part is that this piece of software is fairly widespread and a part of all of the major Linux distributions, installed by default on many of them. I think there's been one, maybe two, "releases" in the last five years.

adzicg 1 day ago 1 reply      
I did something similar with a project I lost interest in several years ago (https://github.com/dbfit/dbfit - table-oriented database unit testing). Just gave over commit rights, and there's a whole bunch of people writing code for it and maintaining it now, still going strong. I occasionally look at the github repo, and always end up amazed how much it's moved on.
watson 1 day ago 1 reply      
This concept awesome and already have a name. It's called Open Open Source: http://openopensource.org

It's especially essential when managing a high volume of open source projects on GitHub.

justinclift 1 day ago 0 replies      
DB Browser for SQLite (previously known as SQLite Browser) has a similar history:


It was unmaintained on SourceForge for years. Some guys put the code on GitHub and started fixing its problems. I became involved after them (to help on the OSX side initially), then contacted the original author. He was happy to see some people continuing it's development, so he gave us admin on the SourceForge project. That let us cleanly redirect people to the new GitHub project, and it's been growing decently from there (~4,600 stars on GitHub, 3.5Mill+ downloads, etc).

KenCochrane 1 day ago 0 replies      
What a small world, I worked with Greg at CashStar where he started the fork of django-money. I still remember the conversation we had in a meeting if we should fork the project or push our PR upstream to fix the issues we found. I'm glad our upstream PR started a trend to keep the library going. This is why I like open source, when you no longer need something you can hand it off to someone else who can take over, and let the code live on.
merlish 1 day ago 0 replies      
I did this for a (not very popular) Eclipse IDE autocomplete set for a certain Lua-based game engine.

I updated to 0.9.2d and forgot about it (stopped using the engine), and someone came in with a PR for 0.10.0. I made a couple of notes on the PR, and gave the guy commit access.

He cleaned it up, and has been rebuilding occasionally when new minor versions of the API definitions come in.

The vast majority of people are pretty nice. They aren't assholes. They're just people who have the same issues you had to build the project in the first place, and want to help.

grokys 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yep, something similar happened to me - I released what is now https://github.com/punker76/gong-wpf-dragdrop on google code in 2009 (I think) then pretty much lost interest. Forward on a few years and @punker76 had uploaded it to github, and continued working on it. It was a strange feeling when I first became aware of the fork - like seeing an inanimate object come to life.
mark_l_watson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great story. My similar experience was in the mid 1990s. I had written a tool call PicWeb Viewer that would recursively walk directories and subdirectories containing photos, create thumbnail images, and generate simple HTML to navigate everything. My code was so simple but worked fine. I released the source code and over the next few years several people contributed modifications that made my simple bit of code awesome.
mbrock 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using the Ratpoison window manager for more than ten years now, and I love it a lot.

Back in like 2003, I wanted to check out the CVS repository, probably because of some new feature, but the read-only CVS server at Savannah or whatever was down... so I asked in #ratpoison if someone could send me a tarball.

Instead, one of the authors and maintainers just gave me an account on the commit server, mostly out of laziness I think.

But it felt nice to be trusted. Loyal user ever since.

bbayles 1 day ago 0 replies      
I offered to take over a library that provides a Pythonic interface for Redis a little while ago. The original author accepted, and I've really enjoyed bringing the project back to life.

I'll probably do something like that again - it would be great if there were a good list of projects that are looking for maintainers.

Osmose 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Jazzband is a Python-focused group based around similar ideas: People can transfer their projects to the group, and anyone in the group can commit stuff and make releases.


donatj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had submitted several PRs to a Zip streaming library. The author gave me direct commit access after this. I've helped maintain it ever since. I think it can really work out in some cases.
pepijndevos 18 hours ago 0 replies      
To offer a different perspective: I did this with a library that's mostly used for short lived hacks, so while there are contributions from time to time, no one sticks with it for long enough to become a real maintainer. So I'm still the one pressing the merge button on new PRs.

A long time ago I wrote PyMouse, which someone added keyboard support to, which became PyUserInput. But then I ended up being the maintainer of the new combined project. So lately I've just been giving contributors commit access. So far the results are OK, but it's not like anyone took over the maintenance.

AshFurrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazing story! I maintain a network library on iOS where we have automated this process: a merged pull request earns the author an automatic invitation to join the project. The code is at https://github.com/Moya/Aeryn if anyone is interested.
barefootcoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
I shared mod privileges with somebody on reddit and my subreddit was closed for excessive spam within days -- I learned my lesson!
Zekio 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is awesome!

seeing something stay alive live this and grow due to people liking it

raesene9 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Whilst this is an interesting story and shows how open source software can work it leaves me wondering how large corp's handle their increasing use of open source software.

Traditional corporate development is very controlled with everyone getting background checks on hiring and code reviews and change control and a load of other stuff around managing what software runs their business.

Into that mix corps are adding loads of software that's developed by people who they have no control over and no knowledge of their motivations, affiliations or skill level. Even if they did a one-time check of all the developers who had contributed to libriaries they use (which would be a huge task) there's nothing to stop any of the maintainers from handing over to someone else the next day.

It's even a change from using things like RHEL where there's at least a contract with another company that you could point at if things go wrong...

It seems a very odd match up....

zobzu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Thats not how it works though. It's just called luck.If 90 out of 100 people will do correct commits and not fuck things up in various ways (from inserting a backdoor to just breaking code), then you've 90% chance that 1 person you give commit access to will not do anything wrong.

Are you willing to bet your 10% bad luck on this though? What if its not 10%? How much chance, when 1 become 1 000?

Now that is more like it.

x0x0 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I like how clickbait is actually in the url. Epic. In case it changes, as of the time of the comment it was


debt 23 hours ago 0 replies      
it's crazy how many millions/billions of dollars free softwarehas saved people.
jrochkind1 1 day ago 0 replies      
such an awesome story!
ncouture 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you for sharing this is awesome!
chris_wot 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have an EMF+ library I started the barebones of in LibreOffice. [1]

Largely due to my depression and desperate need to get a job, I never got much past an initial read of the EMF+ files, but I'd love to see someone take my branch on git, split it into its own library and then work with someone to integrate it into the Drawing Layer. [2]

1. https://cgit.freedesktop.org/libreoffice/core/commit/?h=priv...

2. https://people.freedesktop.org/~thorsten/talks/fosdem_2014_s...

judiso 23 hours ago 3 replies      
Old Geek tbray.org
453 points by kungfudoi  3 days ago   231 comments top 42
threepipeproblm 3 days ago 4 replies      
I just turned 40, and I do feel fortunate that I look young. But then I was also recently hired, by a 70 year old who is still himself programming for hire, to make some quirky database code work .

Perhaps this is an unpopular sentiment, but after 33 years of programming I have been observing more and more how many elements of a supposedly hyper-rational field function like religious beliefs or memes. I suspect that one reason people prefer working with young programmers is -- sometimes -- that they don't want push back on the beliefs that are underpinning their enterprises. To take a few simple examples, people with a lot at stake don't necessarily want to be told that something will probably take 3x longer than they think. Or that there are some philosophical issues at play in their strategy.

A truth that can hurt: people generally only consult nerds when they believe they have no other choice. To many people this means they only want programmers for "code monkey" style coding, i.e. I think there may actually be preference for inexperience in the wider world.

I'm sure age will take it's toll eventually, but in my case there is no doubt in my mind I write better code now than, say, 10 or 15 years ago.

Fortunately, there's a solution: freelance and work for people without these biases. It seems like there is no shortage once you leave groupthink environments behind.

jwr 3 days ago 11 replies      
There seem to be more articles about age popping up on HN lately. I find this both weird and disconcerting. As I wrote in a comment in another thread:

> This is idiotic. People over 40 trade one set of skills for another (source: I'm over 40). You lose short-term memory, can't juggle too many things simultaneously, and aren't always up to date on every latest fad. But what you gain is fantastically valuable: intuition, abstract thinking, systems thinking, ability to detect patterns in large systems, ability to notice that certain problems have been solved in a different field, and lots more. As I grow older, I notice these changes, and while I do regret not being able to remember IP addresses after switching to a different window (get a larger monitor, or just copy&paste), I am very happy with the overall shift.

To put this in other words, as I age, I found that yes, I do have less ability to do brilliant-late-night-ninja-coding stunts, but overall what I gained translates into Getting Things Done. Which is why I find this ageism trend mindboggling: is there a CEO out there that doesn't want his company to Get Things Done?

To give a tangible practical example: I just wrote and launched PartsBox.io (https://partsbox.io/) as a side project. I could only do it in the time constraints involved because I knew which shortcuts I could take and which code I should not write. My 25-year old self would likely have written brilliant ninja code (that no one would ever see), but would never have gotten the project shipped.

dstroot 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am 54, a former CTO, CIO and current CTO and love to code. I believe "now" is the most exciting time in tech ever (and I started on mainframes, went through client server, n tier, web and whatever we are now). I believe open source is truly changing the world in a massively positive way. I'm sure someone younger could do my job, but I think "perspective" matters. I love learning and just moved a bunch of production workload to Kubernetes. Not sure exactly why this touched me the way it did but I dread the day I hang up my spurs. The industry just gets more and more interesting to me.
jv22222 3 days ago 3 replies      
I no longer think of myself as having an age.

I moved the decimal point one place to the left and now I have a version:

I am version 4.7

Apparently by the time I'm version 6.5 my codebase will be a little bloated.


On another note, this age subject has come up a few times:

Programmers: Before you turn 40, get a plan B (2009)https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9361580

Silicon Valleys Dark Secret: Its All About Age (2010)https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9710936

I also wish I could copy paste this comment I already wrote:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9362508

micaksica 3 days ago 10 replies      
I am not really "old" (ie over 40), but I have interviewed older candidates for some technical roles at very different companies, and I've found there are either old people who believe they know better at everything whose skills have not improved much since their early 30s, and then old people who stay up to date on technologies, trends, and realize that programming is a field you never really ever master with time or age; it shifts too much to be able to ever fully grasp it.

The "old" people who are curmudgeonly and stuck on older technical stacks are the ones who don't fare well. The ones who are current in skillset never seem to have an issue and generally impress the people they meet, as they bring both experience and current technical knowledge to the table. Anecdotally, I would say 8/10 of the 40+ crowd I have interviewed fall into the "old technical stack" / "i know better" crowd, and I think these are the ones that poison the well for the good guys.

I am beginning to believe that the trick to software engineering as a career vs. management is to stay current above all else. If you let yourself become obsolesced, you will be thrown aside like an old PowerBook. That's the reality of the technology industry and has little to do with age.

blazespin 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am afraid the story is total and complete crap. The reality is that Amazon is Logan's run. Yes, PE engineers are old and yes they are a tiny percentage of the total army. What does that tell you? It tells you that they keep a tiny number around to make engineers believe there is a path. The reality is though that path is only for a very very select few..

<- Ex Amazon engineer.

gavanwoolery 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hate to say it, but I am approaching 35 and already feel too "old" for my own good.

Many of my bosses have been 5+ years younger than me.

I am eyeballing jobs that are paying exactly what I got paid 8 years ago, just because they are local/family friendly.

I am not experienced enough with management or executive roles to take one.

I am too much of a generalist to get a senior role in a given field, except the one field I specialize in, which is fairly useless when it comes to paid jobs.

I'm not a competitive coder, but I can meet any reasonable deadline. Unfortunately, the trend is now to value the former much more than the latter because it is easier to measure in the interview process.

The majority of jobs out there (frankly) do not require much skill for functional results, so there is someone out there 10 years younger than me who can put in more time for less pay.

Additionally, there are people with 2 or 3 years of industry programming experience making over $250k. It sets a weird baseline that makes it impossible to scale up for more experienced coders.

The most elite people in the valley struck it rich fresh out of college. These are the people who dictate the flow of cash in the software world. What reason do they have to believe that an old software engineer is valuable, even as they themselves grow older?

I don't expect the world to be fair. But I feel like there has to be some sort of value in experience?

qwtel 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm starting a new software consultancy that's hiring 40+ coders exclusively, at below market value, then leases them back to the companies that just got rid of them. The only difference is that I hide them away somewhere, call it "untapped talent" or something that doesn't give away the age and show up at meetings instead of them, with my 26 years and sneakers and a hoodie. Call it job market arbitrage.

But something doesn't add up here, does it?

pwinnski 3 days ago 3 replies      
Whenever this topic comes up, I see a rush to deny that ageism is a problem in the industry, or that it isn't ageism alone but bad choices made by certain people, or...

It would bother me, but I know that ageism is one form of discrimination that eventually hits us all. Beware, young people. The rationalization you do today will be used against you in a couple of decades. And you'll know better then, but you're not listening to the gray-hairs today, and probably neither will the people refusing to hire you then.

Fortunately, some companies treat their gray-hairs better than others, and while you'd think startups were the best route of all, since no boss can refuse to hire you then, it turns out that ageism is pretty widespread, and it can be hard to get funding for a startup, and even hard to land customers if you're the public face of a startup.

Every year, we all get a bit closer to it happening to us.

niftich 3 days ago 3 replies      
I chuckled at:

> If you help build something important and impactful, call it X, it's easy to slip into year after year of being the worlds greatest expert on X, and when X isn't important and impactful any more, you're in a bad place.

He, of course, was co-author of the XML spec.

johnwheeler 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't like reading articles like these. This article was the impetus I needed to create https://oldgeekjobs.com/ just now.

I'm 37 and just recently phone interviewed for a job with two twenty-somethings. I felt I got discriminated against not so much because of my age, but because I just wasn't into the same things as them and wouldn't have been a good 'cultural fit'. My age played a factor in that respect.

If you're cool working with old hackers, post your jobs on there for free. I'll circle back around tomorrow and make it classier.

muzster 3 days ago 1 reply      
That old meme again..

Some Stats from 2015 :-

Median Age / Profession

42.1Computer systems analysts

44.7Information security analysts

43.1Computer programmers

39.7Software developers, applications and systems software

35.9Web developers

40.5Computer support specialists

47.0Database administrators

41.2Network and computer systems administrators

41.6Computer network architects

41.2Computer occupations, all other

Source : http://www.bls.gov/cps/demographics.htm

willvarfar 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hmm, a depressing reminder of my own predicament: I hitting that midlife midcareer crisis point...

I'm forty this year and still coding. I dabbled in mgmt in my early thirties and didn't enjoy it, so stuck at coding.

I am extremely up-to-date and well-versed in everything modern - like most of us here, its my consuming passion too - but I'm completely underwhelmed by the JS frameworks so I can seem a bit "not with it" perhaps?

I do a lot of architecture - I've been a chief architect for big subsystems on a small OS, even. Not that I seem to have any impact or sway on mgmt, who keep repeating the technical mistakes I keep pointing out anyway..

So here's the nub: if I moved on, I doubt I'd be replaced. Companies don't feel they need people like me. And they can have someone young, cheap, without family and without work-life-balance and without strong opinions to point out technical flaws in plans etc. They'd all probably be relieved!

Leaving us "old geeks" unemployable in anywhere near the quantities soon available...

bootload 3 days ago 2 replies      
"There are all these little communities at Google: Gayglers, Jewglers, and my favorite, the Greyglers; thats the only T-shirt I took with me and still wear. The Greyglers are led by Vint Cerf, "

I see a lot of these articles, which I like reading btw, about technicians, too old to do the work. [0] Let's turn this idea on it's head: What about "Management, period". Management itself a big source of company inefficiency. [1]

What technology is being created to push down the cost of executive compensation in buiness?

[0] "Just 120 of the Audi factorys best employees qualify to work on the prestigious R8 assembly line. More than half of R8 workers are over 40. It is said that the easiest way to spot them is to look for the gray hair. The factory calls them silverliners." ~ http://natgeotv.com/ca/megafactories/audi-facts

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/executive-pay

koliber 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's a contest to find a hidden treasure in a forest. All that is given is a short description of the place where the treasure lies, and a couple of hints on how to get there.

A young kid, in tip-top shape stands next to an overweight graybeard. He snickers at the older fellow, confident that he will find the treasure first. The whistle blows, and off they go running. Or rather, the younger fellow goes running. The older guy stretches a bit more, buys a bottle of water, and huddles off into the woods. He walks at a fair pace, not really breaking a sweat, as he knows it's going to get hot in an hour, as the sun hits the middle of the sky. He's been in these woods plenty of times in the past thirty years.

The young kids runs here, runs there, looking for anything that may resemble the clues he was given. He is fast. He has the latest gear and newest gadget. However, he's not really sure where to begin.

The old guy has a hunch where to go. He knows where the blueberry bushes grow that were mentioned in the clue. He knows where the sunny clearing with the three rocks is. It takes him a bit of time, but he is going in the right direction. He rests in the shade for a bit and hydrates when the sun is at its harshest.

The young fellow is dehydrated. He's run over 12 km, he thinks he saw some of the mentioned clues, but he's not sure. He needs to get back to town to get a drink of water.

The afternoon sets in. The young fellow is covering a lot of ground, but is not rally getting anywhere. The graybeard, meanwhile, has found the little pond and the hollow trunk that holds the little treasure chest. It takes him some time to walk back to the finish line.

When doing anything, there is the experience and velocity aspect. If you're running fast but don't know which way is right, you will make many mistakes. Your speed will allow you to recover quickly. If you're experienced, you will likely plan better and your slower progress will be in a more correct direction.

What is better? I wish we could all be spry 90-year-old veterans with the speed and stamina of 18-year-olds. For most of us, it does not work that way. Different projects require different skills. More established companies don't want to risk key project on inexperienced talent. Young startups don't really know what is going to work, so making lots of mistakes and recovering quickly may be an advantage. It's getting the right mix of people for the job that is the key.

acdha 3 days ago 3 replies      
One option more people should consider: work for the government. There are strong legal and union protections against discrimination in many areas including age and most agencies are both desperately in need of good technical staff and have challenges and requirements which are more complicated than the average startup so your greater experience (both on the job and in life) is a selling point rather than a drawback.


littlethrowaway 3 days ago 1 reply      
This did strike a chord. I'm 37. I've been programming since leaving university. I had a stint of about 6 years in the middle of my career where I stagnated. While it was fun (I did a lot of climbing, biking, caving etc.), it was hard getting out of that hole, and I'm glad to be out.

Anyway, I'm now travelling for a year (my partner made me quit my job ;) which has been lots of fun. I've caught up on a lot of books, playing with elixir, sharpening tools. But, I'm wondering what to do when I go back home, and finding it hard to decide. I already have an offer, and I'm not particularly worried about having work, but more about having the _right_ work. I'm not sure how many more options to change I'll have. Coupled to that, I'd like to work on projects which I feel are doing something useful for society.


1. Work remotely for a company I've worked for before. Should be decent cash. Codebase is horrible legacy stuff (but improving). Just me and another (more junior) developer.2. Work for a pretty professional company in town. Excellent excellent team, I'd learn heaps, but it'd be just straight business work (not ticking the "useful to society" box.

I have a couple of options in both of those categories (I think ;). I've been stung before being a solo developer and I'm not that excited about being the most senior on the team. I'm an OK developer, but I know there are lots smarter, and I like learning from others.

So decisions decisions. It feels to me the older I get the fewer of these types of decisions I want to mess up.

yitchelle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reading the article feels like I am talking to my old neighbour who likes tell me about his good old days, which is a good thing.

Anyway, that advice at the end of the article is BS. Being older does not stop you from coding, and it does not stop you from being an engineer. Engineering is not age dependent, but practicing it as a job may be.

jonathanedwards 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let's put our money where our mouth is. I believe it is legal in the US to hire only people over 40. GeezerSoft - "because old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance"
bandrami 3 days ago 1 reply      
I just turned 40 and just got hired. I think the big difference between now and my last hiring in the oughts is that I was able to take a much more active role in my own career-path decisions (this one is interesting, that one used the word "rock star" so I won't bother, etc.). Part of that is because I'm now married and somewhat more financially secure, but, hey: that in itself is part of being older.

Now, I'm not a coder, except to the extent that every sysadmin is, and my field's definition of "output" is different (and for that matter ops in general is grayer than dev). But just personally I feel a confidence in my skills and experience that I didn't have even a decade ago at 30. And also I seem to have a longer attention span than I used to (9am HN commenting notwithstanding). I have a much better sense of how long an implementation will take, what its blockers might be, etc.

IOW I'm liking work at 40, at least personally.

mobiuscog 3 days ago 0 replies      
Experience used to be valuable.

These days, re-inventing the wheel and blogging (writing books, speaking at events) about how you solved 'your' problems, are the new way.

There are many very intelligent younger people (as there have always been), but most of them, brought up on the shoulders of giant, are no longer interested in what those giants did and think they can fix the world on their own.


ori_b 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Im one. Were not exactly common on the ground; my profession, apparently not content with having excluded a whole gender, is mostly doing without the services of a couple of generations.

The bulk of the problem is that the software field has been growing exponentially for a long time. If you double in size in 2 years, and the bulk of the new guys are actually new to the workforce (as seems to be the norm), then instead of a nice even distribution of ages, you'll end up with nearly half of your workforce less than 2 years out of school.

This isn't really a solvable problem, short of waiting for the size of the software industry to level out, and then waiting for the younguns to grow up.

I'm not saying that there's no discrimination -- I have no data -- but it's likely to be less rampant than this makes out.

lubonay 3 days ago 3 replies      
Robert C. Martin sometimes shares an observation in his talks - it's not that the industry is trying to avoid old programmers, it's just that they are orders of magnitude rarer than the young ones due to the exponential dev population growth.
mixmastamyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, if Bray and Gosling are feeling the pinch, what chance do the rest of us have?

Remember when graybeards were coveted for fellowship positions and authored the most important books? That was only fifteen years ago or so.

fsloth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow I feel the key to staying relevant is not programming skills but choosing a practical domain where the software is implemented, and becoming an expert in it. Mine's CAD. We have ton of older people, and no age discrimination that I can tell.

I'm not sure if this works in other fields. Probably in lots of niches.

Annatar 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the biggest issues I see with this mentality going forward is

a) lack of mentors for younger generations;

b) repeating the same mistakes our generation made.

a) is bad. b) is worse.

a) and b) combined lead to fads in which one burns tremendous amounts of time figuring out what it is and how it works, only to become obsolete by the time one masters it.

Old people like me pick their technology very carefully, because they've already burned exorbitant amounts of time mastering all kinds of technology fads during their lifetime, only to find that most of them don't fix, or make the problems even worse.

In plain English: we reject 99% of the fads out there because we can tell from experience what will work and what won't, and what the challenges and pathologies will be if we deploy on that particular fad. We don't reject fads a priori just because it is something new, but on the very simple metric:

could it be as bulletproof as possible, so I don't get a call at two o' clock in the morning?

Yes: continue research. Attempt breakage. Re-evaluate based on the results of breakage.

No: reject.

Where we, the old people failed: I take on apprentices. Most of my peers do not. That is why we end up with, for example,


...where a few lines of AWK code would do. And my peers are nowadays almost embarrassed to even mention such robust technology, instead of actively teaching and promoting it:


this is where we failed: to teach. To take on apprentices. This is why humanity keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over again, and nowhere does that appear to be so acute as in information technology.

We can do better. Take on apprentices, and have them commit to teaching others once they themselves become masters.

I don't mean casual mentorship; I mean a formal apprenticeship. Yes, that means you Bryan, and you Adam. And you Jerry. And you Max. And you Robert. You know who you are.

unexistance 3 days ago 3 replies      
from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-08/silicon-va...

Younger people are just smarter. - Mark

not wiser :D

My view is you need to be smart for the short-term solution / problem & unencumbered by obsolete boundaries / limit.

You need to be wise for the long-term stuff since it's human nature to repeat the same mistakes & not learning from it

p/s: I'm young

roschdal 3 days ago 2 replies      
The next presidential candidates in USA are 68 and 70 years old, while humble programmers are too old after 40 years of age.
Stratoscope 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder if I'll be the oldest one in this thread? I'm 64, turning 65 in January. Been programming since 1968.

I don't really like the term "coding", because when I got started, a coder was pretty close to the bottom rung. You had Systems Analysts who wrote specifications, Programmers who turned those specs into flowcharts, Coders who translated the flowcharts into actual code on coding forms [1], Keypunch Operators who punched that code onto punch cards, and finally the true high priests, the Computer Operators who ran your batch jobs and gave you back the printouts.

At least that's what they told us the serious enterprise software companies did. In truth, we were a bunch of hackers who punched our own programs on Teletype machines.

Later I got into writing DOS applications and TSRs and custom BIOSes, and then Windows programming starting with version 1.0. Some application programming, some language design, and some systems hacking like figuring out how to hook into the Windows font rendering before they had scalable fonts, so I could render Adobe's Type 1 fonts behind Windows' back. Worked on Visual Basic and created the VBX interface.

10-15 years later, I switched to web app development and had a pretty good run with that. Helped develop jQuery and taught a lot of people how to use it, got into GIS and mapmaking, did a bunch of election results maps for Google.

Then a funny thing happened: I got into VR, and it turned out all my Windows experience was relevant again. I was talking with a VR startup today and the CEO said "I thought you were just a VR developer - but you've done all this Windows systems hacking too? Maybe you can help us!" (They are trying to do some tricky DirectX system integration.) And the VR work also gave me a chance to get up to speed on Android and iOS development.

They say to leave everything more than 10 years ago off your resume so people won't realize how old you are. But if I did that, this VR company wouldn't have noticed my Windows experience from back in the day. And if you meet me you'll figure out my age soon enough!

At this point I've programmed in about 40 languages and a bunch of different platforms. If you ask me what my greatest strength is, maybe it's that I'm comfortable jumping around all sorts of languages and OSes, and I can pretty much always figure out a way to hook them together.

But I envy people who have become world-class experts in one important thing. One friend is a data scientist who does everything in Python. Another is an iOS expert who knows everything there is to know about Objective-C and never wants to use another language.

So maybe jumping around so much is my great weakness too. When I talk with companies, they are often looking for someone who is the best at one particular thing. It may be data science, Android or iOS development, web front end, or whatever, but they want that one specialty. They may talk about "full stack" developers, but it tends to be a pretty specific "full" stack.

What is the most productive role for someone like me who has worked on so many different kinds of systems that I've lost count?

[1] To get a taste of the old days, search for https://www.google.com/search?q=fortran+coding+form and you'll find some FORTRAN coding forms like this one: http://org.coloradomesa.edu/~lpayne/fall%202014/CS1/coding%2... - print it on some 8.5x14 paper, sharpen your pencil, and start coding!

stcredzero 3 days ago 1 reply      
40-plus women are basically not employable in the technology sector.

If this isn't prejudice, I don't know what is. It's not, "40-plus women are employable if they are competent." It's that being a 40-plus woman is enough of a signal, people feel justified enough to "err on the side of false negative." Really, how many 40-plus women have most 20-somethings actually encountered as coders in the workplace? How many 40-plus women have most 20-somethings actually encountered as managers in the workplace? I suspect this prejudice comes from outside the workplace.

yodsanklai 3 days ago 2 replies      
> But these days usually doesnt bother reaching out; 40-plus women are basically not employable in the technology sector.

So what to do if you're in that case? aren't their companies out there that hire people for their skills?

jeena 3 days ago 1 reply      
Weird, I just realized that I'm, with my 38 years of age are the oldest coder at my company, never thought of that. But I was over 30 when I started at the university doing computer science, so I still want to code a bit first.
shams93 3 days ago 0 replies      
You get to know the principles behind the code pretty well after 2 decades at it. In Los Angeles we just don't seem to have the same level of overt ageism. I've been coding since 1995 and haven't had to even dye my hair much less go for plastic surgery. If you're working your mind as hard as we do it keeps you sharp. Maybe other people your age couldn't learn this but your mind is much sharper than average and stays sharp thanks to daily mental workouts of solving hard engineering problems.
zeveb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but think of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz0o9clVQu8

It's actually pretty true to my experience. I'd rather work with someone who's confident and self-assured, rather than emotionally needy. I'd rather work with someone who's experienced. I'd rather work with someone who's professional.

In short, I think I'd rather work with Tim

pipio21 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is not ageism, it is supply and demand, as simple as that.

How many people had access to computers 25 - 30 years ago? Very few, like me, and we were privileged. Getting time to learn with a computer was expensive like getting knowledge about programming them. For example computer APIs were on books you had to buy.

You also had to spend so much time fixing your computer's BSD(blue screen of death), making your (software)modem to work, or your Linux distribution to install when it was all from the command line.

Now everybody can buy a Raspi for 40 dollars and connect it to TV and it just works. Everybody can access top quality tutorials on youtube, all the APIs and other documentation is online.

People in Ghana, Kenya or India can share a Raspi computer and learn. Chinese could also start buying them. While the West access to tech privilege persist, the gap is narrower and narrower over time.

This means there are a hundred times more programmers than in the past, specially young people. If they can compete with you watching youtube channels, they will, obviously.

If you have certain age with only programming knowledge you are not privileged anymore. This is tough for some people to understand.

I remember when knowing HTML alone could earn you lots of bucks. Not happening anymore.

3chelon 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm 48 and been a programmer since I was at school. I do contracting/consulting work so regularly change jobs, and I personally feel I have encountered surprisingly little ageism. I suppose a lot of it comes down to your attitude and enthusiasm.

I think the following generally helps:-

* Keep your CV/resume impressive. Nothing says "unemployable" like 10 years running an outdated DB system at a boring company;

* Change job or interview frequently;

* Don't try to adopt all the latest fads (impossible, anyway) - instead, play to your strengths and focus on your general area of expertise, and every few years learn a new relevant language or system in depth;

* Keep those old-school skills sharp! You can always impress a 21-year-old hacker in a hoodie if your command line / regex / disassembly / wireshark (or tcpdump!) skills are better than his.

adultSwim 3 days ago 0 replies      
The other side of this discussion is the exploitation of young engineers. Companies know they can pay them less and work them more.

Just look at the video game industry. Relies on a steady stream of suckers who can be used up and spit out. Their love of games is taken advantage of.

Many older workers are better, not worse, than their younger counterparts. They are discriminated against because they can't be so easily fooled (e.g. thinking a beer fridge is an acceptable trade for lots of unpaid overtime)

Experience matters. It took me years to even realize that programming is only half of my job. Though I'm not yet an OG, I'm a better engineer than when I started.

antirez 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm 39 and I'm so scared, also being in Sicily so very far from the IT scene, that I'm investing my savings to buy some land here to do agriculture when I'll no longer be able to pay my bills with programming.
BatFastard 3 days ago 0 replies      
As an over 50 developer, I find for me personally its better to start up a company, or join a small company as CTO. That way your useful experience is maximized from both a leadership and technical perspective.
p333347 3 days ago 0 replies      
Whenever I read such articles, I am completely at a loss as to what it means to code. Do they mean churning out code, like a codemonkey, for something that some architect has designed? Do they mean getting their hands dirty by pitching in to write some code for something that they themselves have architected? Do they mean doing the whole gig, starting from vague idea to producing a usable software, all by themselves and thus having to write all the code themselves instead of hiring a young ninja?
knocte 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not sure if it's because of the startup culture or simply because there are actually no older candidates.

In my case, 36yo, in a startup, I'm the oldest in it. But I've been interviewing many people and I think we only got 1 candidate which was older than me (we didn't hire because it was not a good fit, with so much experience but without much experience in our tech stack, we thought it would mean paying a fair amount for someone to be basically learning from us, as we were looking for coders, not architects/principals/leads).

stuaxo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems to be less of a problem in the UK (though may well still be a problem) - I guess I will find out soon.
Google HTML/CSS Style Guide Omit Optional Tags google.github.io
446 points by franze  1 day ago   271 comments top 60
kgtm 1 day ago 8 replies      
Maybe it will make more sense once it fully sinks in, but I think in general it is a mistake to make developers think about when and where certain things can be omitted. It's more straightforward to simply do one thing, consistently, following the "explicit is better than implicit" mantra.

What happened to optimizing for mental overhead instead of file size? This simply should be a build step, part of your minification and concatenation dance, not having to consider all of these when trying to decide if I should close my <p> tag or not:

A p element's end tag may be omitted if the p element is immediately followed by an address, article, aside, blockquote, details, div, dl, fieldset, figcaption, figure, footer, form, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, header, hgroup, hr, main, menu, nav, ol, p, pre, section, table, or ul element, or if there is no more content in the parent element and the parent element is an HTML element that is not an a, audio, del, ins, map, noscript, or video element, or an autonomous custom element.

Animats 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is one Google ad. Any questions?

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tedmiston 1 day ago 6 replies      
Just to put the code sample here...

 <!-- Not recommended --> <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <head> <title>Spending money, spending bytes</title> </head> <body> <p>Sic.</p> </body> </html> <!-- Recommended --> <!DOCTYPE html> <title>Saving money, saving bytes</title> <p>Qed.
Does the <head> tag really not matter anymore?

spdustin 1 day ago 2 replies      
The non-normative HTML 5 spec declares those words, ostensibly because <p> elements cannot contain other block-level elements, and so the user agent should infer a </p> tag when a block level open tag is seen within a <p> element.

I've always been of the school of thought that it's a bad practice to depend on non-obvious behaviors that, when taken in the context of so many other rules that are explicitly defined, seem like a bug that's been codified into a de-facto rule.

Granted, <p> elements are special snowflakes in the specification (not seen as precisely a block element because it's more limited in allowed content, a phrasing element, an inline element, etc.), but most online docs refer to it as a block level element, and in block level elements, you don't omit the closing tag.

Say what you will about XHTML (such things, I'll add, I'd likely join you in saying) but at least it had one thing going for it: a well-formed document was easy to test for. Note, I didn't say valid, I said well-formed. For that reason, I still write HTML as well-formed XML for easy linting, and then a tidy step later to turn it into plain-vanilla HTML (though, generally speaking, that last step isn't necessary).

yladiz 1 day ago 3 replies      
Like many other commenters have said, it makes a lot more sense to have this in a build step rather than doing by hand -- there's a lot of somewhat arbitrary rules (see when you can omit a "p" closing tag for example) that can be explicitly handled during building.

However, what does this really accomplish? Does it really save that much space and bandwidth? GZIP compresses text extremely well, so I don't see the usefulness in most cases. Sure, for really slow networks, e.g. in developing countries, it might matter, but the people that this guideline are targeting are likely not going to worry about that. Maybe at Google scale it makes a difference.

Beyond that, it really feels weird to omit the html tag and the head tags and I'd like to see how much more readable this optional tag omission is when you're dealing with a complex page with many meta tags and a ton of body content.

Pxtl 1 day ago 4 replies      
As somebody who does a lot of xml, I'm weirded out by the idea that the root tags are optional. I mean, get certain child elements and attributes being optional, but the parent ones? That's.... hard.
danjoc 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why doesn't Google produce an html formatter instead of a style guide, like gofmt for html? Applying style guidelines correctly and consistently is much easier to do in software than meatware.
the_mitsuhiko 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's the styleguide that Flask and other pallets docs always had for many years already. People keep opening pull requests to change it and are always surprised when I point ou that it's not only not wrong but also by the spec.

If you consider how the parser for HTML5 actually works many of the closing tags you would encounter don't actually add any value unless you have some trailing text that should be attached to the parent node.

niftich 1 day ago 4 replies      
I know that HTML5 deliberately throws out the SGML heritage (to say nothing of XHTML) and makes all of this valid, but this just feels like another micro-optimization that Google promotes because at their scale, every little bit helps.

Besides, isn't this "visual redundancy" (not to be confused with semantic redundancy) is what compression is supposed to solve, and has been solving since, effectively forever? So that we can code to reduce our (and the 'view source'-reader's) cognitive load, and let gzip or brotli or whatever new scheme work its compressive magic before it squirts our payload across a newfangled binary HTTP/2 protocol?

johndoe4589 1 day ago 3 replies      
Interestingly they don't seem to have a rule against one line declarations.

I alwats use this style, which imho is very handy, because of the tree structure and admittedly because I have a super cool macro in Vim that copies the characters from the line above, word by word so create rules that afect children of the rule above it requires just a few keystrokes:

 #some-div { margin:1em 0; } #some-div .inner { padding:5px 10px; } #some-div .inner p { font-size:90%; }
This makes the structure of the declarations more obvious imho, and I tend to have a nicely organized series of structures like that that are logically grouped together.

Obviously this applies more to components/widgets than the basic rules and layout.

If a declaration is long then I use newlines.. but even then I tend to group things together eg.

 #some-div { display:inline; margin: ...; padding: ...; border-radius: ...; border-color: ...; font-size:90%; text-align:center; }
Basically within a css rule I'll group together the layout properties, the text properties, etc.

jap 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been omitting optional tags for a while.

One thing I've noticed is that bing webmaster tools will report "The title is missing in the head section of the page" when there is a title, but no <head>. Maybe bing can't properly crawl pages without a <head>. Another service I've used had the same problem, but can't remember which.

So it might be worth being careful with omitting <head> - and maybe other tags, I'm reconsidering whether it's a good idea.

dubcanada 1 day ago 3 replies      
The only reason you would do this is to save space (ie minify). Out of everything you have in your entire stack is the 1kb you save by removing the optional tags really gonna matter? I mean wouldn't it make more sense to spend time reducing javascript, or css styles, or making your database faster?

I mean if you are Google, yes that 1kb matters a ton. But they've already optimized to the point where minifying their HTML makes sense.

LethargicStud 1 day ago 4 replies      
One thing I don't quite understand is omitting protocol. If you don't know the protocol, fine it makes sense to omit it. However if you know a resource can always be loaded via HTTPS (eg from CDN), isn't it safer to force HTTPS?
franze 1 day ago 1 reply      
here is an edge case: the <head>-tag might be optional, but HTML elements do have a different behavior when placed in the <head> section or the <body> section.

namely, the always beloved <noscript> tag https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Web/HTML/Element/noscr...

which is a flow content element in the body section

but if used in the <head> it might include links, style and meta-tags and then it should not be treated as content element.

as the <head> element therefore changes the behavior of its child-elements, does this make it non optional?

p.s.: i think DOMParser.parseFromString() in Chrome gets this <noscript> behaviour wrong in some cases (closes the <head>-section as it treats the <noscript>-tag as content-element, even though it is in the <head> with just links & style children, so it shoudn't close the <head>...)

parr0t 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a part time developer that is still at uni but learning the ways of how maintaining code is doing in a professional environment.

Just curious, how often are practices like these where the company you work for gives you a detailed overview of all the coding conventions you should follow? Is this absolutely expected to be followed strictly when you start any job as a developer? Is this something a lot of workplaces follow or mainly the big boys(Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc). If you miss maybe one or two coding conventions in a huge commit for instance, do you hear about it or does the reviewer just fix it and you can see what's changed?

Just curious as I'm still new to transitioning into the workplace when it comes to source control. I work with one other developer (my boss) who wrote for more or less the entire system himself and there is no such document - I just have to observe the patterns used and follow suit.

tangue 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ok, I've juste discovered that in the html5 specification you can omit tags. I've always been reluctant to push Jade to my coworker but it makes much more sense now.
kazinator 1 day ago 0 replies      
You won't see this in too many C style guides:

Emit all optional parentheses in expressions, unnecessary "break;" statements at the end of a switch, the type specifier keyword "int" when "unsigned" is already present in the declaration and other such fluff.

I've done plenty of web scraping in which it was helpful to look for the <body> element.

zwetan 1 day ago 1 reply      
To me this just prove that wether a spec or standard is in place. it does not really matter.

In this case we have the weight of Google that says "oh it's in the spec so we can do it".

In other case we have a standard like E4X, that everyone happily not implemented (Chrome) or removed (Firefox).

They could as well say "If we don't like it we will not do it, if we like it we will do it", that would be exactly the same.

sheriffderek 1 day ago 2 replies      
While we're at it, how about we lose the unnecessary uppercase for the doctype: <!DOCTYPE html> vs. <!doctype html>

Leaving out optional tags makes sense. These days, at least with web-apps, It's not like we are writing a <head> for every page. It's just a partial you rarely ever interact with anyway. Either leave them in or take them out. The only negative I could see is that some people may not know what's optionalthink you're a dummyand put them back in. Probably best to just follow the conventions of whatever framework you use. Save your fighting energy for trailing commas in JSON! :)

keeganjw 1 day ago 2 replies      
However weird it feels, this makes sense. Why did we ever have do things like use an HTML tag immediately after declaring the DOCTYPE as HTML anyway?
bryanph_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
For the love of god, can we please move on to more pressing matters.
sanketsaurav 1 day ago 1 reply      
It looks counter-intuitive, though -- even if it is the spec. Especially for beginners, who might feel completely out of place. As other people have pointed out here, it's better to be implemented as a step of the build process if you really want to save on those bytes. Counter-intuitive patterns are nightmares for devs.
imdsm 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps the option here is to write in explicitly verbose HTML as we do now, and then as you minify assets, so too do you minify HTML. If the last thing the output html went through was this reduction, then you wouldn't need to worry about developer overhead.
sootzoo 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's worth pointing out that this style rule itself is optional, which is to say they're not making a recommendation here, just providing an example of what applying the rule would look like. It carries the same weight as, say, the optional rule about grouping CSS sections and including a section comment[1].

[1] https://google.github.io/styleguide/htmlcssguide.xml?showone...

zbjornson 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised no one has compared this to omitting semicolons in js. In both cases it's a rather lengthy list of conditions the writer needs to know about in order to be absolutely sure you're coding correctly, and in both cases the benefits are debatable. (The list of conditions when js semis can't be omitted are obscure at least.)
innatepirate 1 day ago 1 reply      
In-spec or not, I don't like it
ClayFerguson 1 day ago 0 replies      
Omitting tags that 'unbalance' a document or stop it from being valid XML is a very dumb thing to do, even if it shaves a fraction of a millisecond off load time. We're talking about a few bytes of transfer here. Come on Google, you should have better judgement than that.
johndoe4589 1 day ago 1 reply      

How is adding a space after ":" any more consistent than having none? No space between property and value is more unique and searchable should you need to find something or do search/replace.

paradite 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can imagine many html crawlers and parsers breaking for these pages, searching for <head> or <body> but nothing to be found...
n-gauge 1 day ago 1 reply      
This to me is like:

if (x) { ... ...}someMethod()

Changed to :

if (x) { ... ...someMethod()

It's not as readable. Maybe as others have suggested, leave it to a compiler.

fresheyeball 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Google HTML Styleguide people, really should inform google.com that they are bloated.
EdSharkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's my page loading pattern, please tell me if this is good:

In the head tag, I intentionally load a small bootstrap javascript bundle (~50K) non-deferred. This bundle contains a subset of my CSS that styles all of the static tags the body below will first render with. This bootstrap bundle also starts an AJAX call for polyfills, if needed, and the main page script (which also contains the rest of my CSS.)

My goal is to have no unstyled tags in the body as it first renders and to kickoff loading the main body scripts ASAP before any other 3rd party scripts have a chance to get started loading.

huntermeyer 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really going to bother me:

 Use double ("") rather than single quotation marks ('') around attribute values

kalleboo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Web technologies are totally not piles of hacks on top of other hacks
isaac739 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google's parent company is still using <head> and <body> tags.https://abc.xyz
masswerk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Slightly amusing:

HTML4, XHTML: Make sure to include all optional tags, because scannability.

Now: For (...) scannability purposes, consider omitting optional tags.

ben_jones 1 day ago 0 replies      
Honest question: Why doesn't everyone use Jade markup if you already have a build step for your front-end code? It's much faster to write and much clearer to read.
hooph00p 1 day ago 1 reply      
I can get behind this.
dom96 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hrm, is anybody else's browser not navigating to the "Optional Tags" anchor?
chriscareycode 1 day ago 0 replies      
A good video from Paul Irish on the subject http://www.paulirish.com/2011/primitives-html5-video/
PaulHoule 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is solid html 5. Html 5 fills all the ambiguous parts of the code to DOM translation so you should give up on regexes, handlebars and such and instead run it through JSoup (or equivalent) and just work on the parse tree.
SimeVidas 1 day ago 0 replies      
Websites are bloated with excessive amounts of JavaScript and non-optimized images, and this is whats on top of Hacker News? Frickin optional tags? facepalm
z3t4 1 day ago 0 replies      
cant read the article because my browser thinks its a rss feed. But i want to stress the importance of semantics and clean html. Think alternative output devices like html to speach and future tech like direct to brain io and artificial intelligence. Also if u keep it simple, writing and editing also becoms easier and more available.dont mangle or minify your html. Also keep style out of it (in css).
moron4hire 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the grand scheme of things, this feels like throwing the baby out with the bath-water. The example shows a huge savings in file size, percentage-wise, because it's an extremely contrived one, being optimized for making sure these sort of optional things are a large proportion of the total document.

Real documents don't look anything like this example. They have lots of meta tags and they have footers and they are expected to be read by a wider variety of user agents than "Google Chrome on Windows" and "Google Chrome on Android".[0]

Part of the problem is that we treat HTML as a canonical data format, when it should be a rendered data format. That's not to say that you shouldn't hand-write HTML for your small site[1], but if you're deploying more pages than can be managed by hand, then you should be A) use a data format for your content that is as rich as absolutely possible, and B) statically rendering that data down to a transmission format.

[0] I shudder to think what screen readers might think of this sort of markup. I mean, I make VR applications in the browser, but I still make sure the data is semantic. It's our duty to do so.

[1] AKA "the vast majority of cases". I whole-heartedly believe that new ventures--before it is known how large they will be--should be hand-written.

reimertz 1 day ago 1 reply      
scripts in <head> tag works perfectly as well as long as you position scripts above elements you would put in the <body> . I will start doing this!

demo: http://jsbin.com/duqonahiyi/1/edit?html,console,output

andrewclunn 1 day ago 0 replies      
This just feels wrong. It's like only using one space after a sentence. Somewhere along the way it became technically correct, but there's just this visceral feeling that it's not right.
phil248 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hell, I'mm still convincing people to use <br> instead of <br/>!
ishener 1 day ago 0 replies      
what's this style guide even mean when google.com doesn't adhere to it?
simple10 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here's the direct github link if you want to fork or star:


snarfy 1 day ago 0 replies      

>Indent by 2 spaces at a time.

>Dont use tabs or mix tabs and spaces for indentation.

Let the wars begin.

original_idea 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is going to wreck havoc on XPATH selectors across the world.
ommunist 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Google will not punish websites by downranking those of us who still uses head tag. After all, why not take the bold move and tell everyone that <pre> is enough, so the whole html monstrosity could be deprecated and Google could save millions in serving his afs to asketic plain text websites, designed in the mood of the Berkshire Hathaway web presense.
draw_down 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not the first time I've seen this suggestion but I just don't understand it. Removing <head>, omitting quotes in attribute values... why? File size, really?!
ilaksh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very cool. I did not know that stuff was optional.

If its less code to type and send over the network then that's great. HTML 5 is not XML. Which is fine.

Kenji 1 day ago 2 replies      
Uhh... I wonder how large the percentage of users is that see a broken site if you strictly adhere to that principle.
mozumder 1 day ago 1 reply      
The rules are really complicated here. It's best to do this using a minifier instead of through hand-coding.
themartorana 1 day ago 0 replies      
Grammar nerd, apologies, but "Google's" with an apostrophe (unless I'm totally missing something). There should maybe be a better way to report this kind of stuff without cluttering the comment stream.
markdown 1 day ago 2 replies      
ebbv 1 day ago 3 replies      
Boo. Maybe it's over the top but for me the fact that something this awful made it into Google's official style guide tells me the nuts are really running the asylum over there. Was nobody in charge doing web development in the 90s or even the early 2000s? Has nobody there ever been put in charge of a legacy site that was written this way? There's a reason we all agreed to stick to standards and make our HTML verbose in the mid-2000s.
mschuster91 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's a screenscraping protection, too.

Documents malformed this way cannot be parsed e.g. with PHP's DOM functions without significant headache.

We Dont Simply Get Remote Jobs, We Join Remote Teams remotebase.io
338 points by stockkid  3 days ago   176 comments top 30
bad_user 2 days ago 2 replies      
I work remotely. I'm from Romania and we have a team that's distributed across the country, with some members from other European countries as well. We do have a small office where I live, but it is provided just as a place to come to in case you don't like working from home and I do go to our office almost daily, but most of the team is on the other end of a Gmail/Skype/Slack connection.

Today I got tired at 1 PM, got up from my desk, got my bike and went for a ride in the park nearby. Once in a while I would take the phone out of my pocket and give quick answers on Slack, but most of my time I enjoyed what is the beginning of autumn. You can feel it in the air, it's more chilly, the light gets warmer and the color of the trees start changing. It's by far the most beautiful time of the year for walking in parks. And it felt great. Now I'm back home and I'm thinking of finishing my work, but after I eat something.

And I do this all the time, while managing to get shit done. Many times I work late to finish this or that. But I'm a responsible software developer, I care about the project and I can work without somebody watching over my shoulder.

And surely there are those times where you need to do design sessions with the rest of the team. But we do those over Skype and every once in a while we travel in order to meet face to face. There are challenges in communication of course, but we make it work.

FuNe 2 days ago 9 replies      
I'm partially remote working (RW) at an organization that is slowly rolling back its RW culture(1). The motto for this goes like 'teams work better if they are collocated, yada, yada'. The real reason is that managers want to feel in control (plus they want to drive away a lot of people by taking RW away). "Culture" is used as a smoke screen for more sinister incentives. (I can say that with confidence because I can see that RW is working fine while what hinders productivity is mammoth bureaucracy and politics put forward by the same people that keep blabbing about "culture".

To me it's clear that remote working is (should be) the way to go (why on earth tech jobs and consequently tech workers should cluster in small geographic areas, spend hours in commuting and feed our salaries to landlord rentiers is beyond my understanding). Then again other things in the past were a no-brainer future (e.g. less working hours - see experiments in Kellogs) but the world spinned to a different direction.

PS: Of course RW makes your tech job even easier to offshore which makes the whole thing more of a mixed bag of blessings and curses - like everything else in life :) .

(1) I think the trend started off by M.Mayer's move to roll back RW in yahoo (<cynic>leading to the spectacular yahoo growth we all know of</cynic>) but I'm not sure.

NumberCruncher 2 days ago 2 replies      
It is somehow ironic that not so long ago we could send ships on a 4 month trip around the word, could manage the construction of amazing buildings or sent armies to fight wars on the end of the word without being able to communicate with the people doing their job/duty. Nowdays we can barely let change the font size of a button on a webpage without having a stand up meeting or a conference call.
matt_wulfeck 2 days ago 9 replies      
> In remote team, we get to experience the culture at its most naked form. There is no catered lunch or a hip office with table tennis table. Everything artificial is stripped away.

I totally disagree with this. The most naked form of communication is (and IMHO always will be) face to face. I can't tell how many countless times many emails were exchanged before simply speaking face to face solved the problem.

Working remotely is awesome. All power to remote workers, but no amount of collaborative tools replaces the value of face-to-face communication.

cephaslr 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love this topic. On one hand, many tech giants spent an exorbitant amount of money hiring and bringing their technical talent to one location. Easy examples such as Google and especially Amazon come to mind. On the other hand, any studies on the subject strongly imply anyone farther than 50 feet rarely speaks anyway so you are better off with remote teams as they are setup with better tooling (slack, et tal).


As a single data point my experience as a hiring manager and allowing remote candidates allowed for a much higher level of talent to draw upon. Furthermore, I have had remote teams develop a great culture merely by turning on their cameras during the daily standup.

Finally, I also question the productivity of team building 'dinners' and other one-off activities. Having been part of teams with lots of corporate dinners and teams without its hard for me to really call out any specific value.

I truly do want to be convinced otherwise, but the strongest argument I have seen here so far is a vague 'Face to face is superior' when I have had great remote teams with cameras on. Anyone have a more data driven argument? Even if its a few data points?

alex-yo 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is no shortage of remote job boards and job aggregators

That's true, there is just a shortage of the job offers. I'm looking for a remote job now. All the job boards have between 2 to 5 job offers per day. To each of them answer thousands of people.

The aggregators are even worse. They are automated. That's why they contain an ad even when it has no remote allowed.

jimmywanger 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the main point of this article (which could have been half the length) is that you can't just declare a job remote.

You have to have a culture and technology that supports it, or else if you take that remote job, you're getting set up for failure.

If everybody else is having water cooler conversations, and making binding decisions based on them without email or chat, any remote employee is going to be constantly blindsided, and not rewarded by the organization.

I worked on one (and am currently working on another) highly distributed team, and the amount of whip-cracking that my manager had to do to make sure everything was documented and accessible to everybody on the team was incredible.

agibsonccc 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've thought a lot about this. I am posting this in an attempt to give an example of what's worked for 1 company, not as a "guide" or "best practices". I post this in an attempt to give people ideas on what may work for them.

I operate an engineering team as a seed stage startup across 2 coasts of the US, multiple parts of APAC, and europe.

We are around 13 full time with a few part timers. We started as 2 people. Our first hire was co located with us. Our next one was remote.

From there we've made our hires only through referrals or our open source channel.

We did YC W16 this year as ~6 people and most of us remote.We've more than doubled the team after having raised nearly 3 million.

A few notes on what's worked for us:

Remote first office, no one (even if there is an office in your area) is required to come in (at all). We use https://gitter.im/ to interact with our open source community, partner companies, and team members.

Half of our hiring happens on gitter as well.

Some of us choose to for a separation of work and home.

We don't have job postings either. We do this on purpose. We tell engineers the same thing: Show up in our open source channel. This offends some people, but has worked for us.I won't claim this scales long term, but there have been fairly large companies (~800+) that have scaled this way just fine.

We've found productivity to be quite high overall. A lot less noise and very efficient communication.

Part of it is self management. The hires we make tend to have that part down pretty well. I've learned to spot bottlenecks. Part of that is just by keeping an eye on a lot of channels. Proactive reaching out if there are problems helps a lot. Periodic check ins are a must.

We do a weekly google hangout across 5 time zones that amounts to being a standup.

For scoping engineering work, we tend to have longer projects people are working on, usually a minimum of a week. This leads to less context switching.

Happy to answer questions or expand on anything that sounds interesting.

Domenic_S 2 days ago 2 replies      
My team just started a large project; a few of us work remotely and a few are in an office. For the project, we opened a Zoom video channel, and all sit there with video chat running on our second monitors. It's working out great. We very much have the be-able-to-pop-in-for-a-question thing going on like you would in a project war room.

I'm thinking of making it a standing thing one day weekly to work this way. There's certainly a distraction tradeoff, but the communication bandwidth is just phenomenal.

fitzwatermellow 2 days ago 0 replies      
I believe the real dichotomy is "async/sync" rather than "remote/local". There are individuals who require constant micro-coordination on every decision and others who get the big picture immediately and can implement details without specific instruction.

My best decision was probably offloading team coordination to a dedicated "community manager". Even an undergrad working part-time and using mobile Slack / GMail can be trained in an afternoon and be 110% effective. The amount of bandwidth it frees up so you can focus on strategy and product is a Godsend ;)

dasmoth 2 days ago 1 reply      
I get what this is saying, but there does seem to be a nearly-unspoken assumption here that the "perfect" working environment involves high-frequency communication, including regular synchronous communication -- i.e. replicating the open-plan/daily standups/short iterations model of programming that seems to be the current thing for in-office programming jobs. That's a perfectly reasonable model, and clearly suits a lot of people well, but I do hope there's still appetite for exploring coarser-grained "trust people to go off on their own to solve problems" models as well.
collyw 2 days ago 1 reply      
"Communicating with co-workers while working remotely is not as simple as going up to their desk and starting a conversation."

Probably the main reason I want to get a remote job. Constant disruptions.

robinhowlett 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone work in a remote team with an always-on video conference?

I really, really prefer being able to shout out a quick question but the friction costs (and fear of interrupting deep thought) about calling someone, sometimes even a Slack message, prevents communication at times.

The times where I've been pairing or on a long call "in the background" have been great I thought. Any downsides for those who do this regularly?

vonnik 2 days ago 0 replies      
To follow up on what @agibsonccc has been saying: Remote, open-source hiring is one of the best ways to match companies and candidates. I used to have to recruit for a closed-source company, and it was really hard to get good information - for the company and for the applicants.

Wrote about it here, if anyone's curious. Recruiting is a trail of tears: https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_03COrPtojnK4VxI2N1tX...

In open-source, you have nearly perfect information: the contributors see the company's code and how they operate as a team; the company see the contributor's code, persistence, reliability and friendliness. And anyway, it's open-source, so everyone is solving their own problems for their own reasons, so they get something out of it in the end no matter what.

ArtDev 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't see any valid reason why anyone vaguely technical should commute to an office.

I think this is really overvalued:"communicating with co-workers while working remotely is not as simple as going up to their desk and starting a conversation".

Anyone technical despises being interrupted when working. This is why Hipchat/Slack/irc is the best way to communicate, even when sitting right next to eachother.

Communicating by text is also better because you never have to say/type the same thing twice. You never forget what a teammate told you because you can look up the conversation.

Company "culture" must be something for people who don't have families or friends. Personally, I don't get it.

I have worked remotely for 3+ years as a contractor. The last office I worked at involved a long commute even though I mostly communicated by Hipchat.

I don't ever see going into an office again unless it my my own leased space. Remote work is the future!

DrNuke 2 days ago 1 reply      
I would be very happy to join a remote team as a data analyst / scientist but, whatever reason (skills, fit, pay, age, time zone), I am falling short. For what I see, many still consider employing remotely as a way to assemble a cheap sweatshop, preferably drones.
MarkMc 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love working remotely because it has allowed me to run my business while travelling around India. But I still feel my work would be more efficient if I was sitting next to my co-workers. There's some intangible quality involving instant feedback, body language and social interaction that would make our communication more direct and engaging.

Despite all the advances in technology for working remotely, face-to-face remains the best even for digital businesses. Facebook and Google are evidence of this: working remotely for these companies is the exception rather than the rule.

whamlastxmas 2 days ago 0 replies      
If only applying to a remote job didn't feel like putting my resume into a digital paper shredder.
sakopov 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am the only employee in a company of about 60/70 who is completely remote. I was actually working from the headquarters and then ended up relocating to a new city. While I enjoy the peace and quite and get 3 times more stuff done, I cannot shake the feeling of isolation. Some days I feel like i'm going fucking insane not having somebody to just walk up and talk to or go to lunch with.

Yeah there are coffee shops. But really how much time are you going to spend working out of a busy coffee shop? Maybe 3 or 4 hours before you realize that you can't hear anybody on a conference call or you're irritating someone next to you who's studying for an exam.

There are also co-working spaces, which cost on average about 25% of what I pay for my apartment. Seriously, if you're thinking about working remote REALLY consider what you're getting into. Being stuck in 4 walls 8 hours a day does amazing things to productivity but is ultimately a fucking mental torture.

Randgalt 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. The Digital Nomad future is upon us. I've been doing it for 3 years and it's wonderful. Live where you want. Get out of the Silicon Valley rat race.
aioprisan 2 days ago 0 replies      
It really depends on the type of work that you're doing. If the work requires a lot of communication and details that need to be hashes out with people from various disciplines (i.e. PM, UX, Eng), you need to be colocated to get the job done quickly. Doing this part remote will only lead to frustrations and missed deadlines. But if everything is fully spec'd out and split into bite-size pieces for engineers to simply fill in the wholes with code and follow the spec, then a remote team can work really well. I've seen this many times at past consulting companies and now a product company where we do have some remote workers.
oxide 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have almost no marketable skills to speak of, how can I work remotely?

I'll take phone calls, answer questions from a script, whatever I have to do.

Also, what marketable skills should I focus on developing if I want to work remotely in an actual, skill-required job?

I'm not incompetent: I'm proficient in plenty of basic office software, I can troubleshoot/fix a computer, and I can type 90wpm. You know, the fundamentals.

Thank you in advance.

archon810 2 days ago 2 replies      
If some of the site owners see this. I clicked on a random job by Gitlab. Two of the links at the end looked interesting. Both are dead.



Whose fail? Gitlab's or RemoteBase's?

abysmallyideal 2 days ago 0 replies      
At this one trench of a large corp where I had a minor contract, they had an office in multiple locations. The idea was, to avoid traffic jams people would work from the satellite offices until the traffic cleared. They opened these up in areas where a large number of their employees commuted from. It was pretty slick, with private sound proof rooms, open spaces for team meetups where they would work then carpool to the main offices, cubicles, lounges, super nice kitchens, etc... In fact it was a shitton nicer than the places they called their main office.

They ended up selling some of it, or downgrading because teams just stayed at the nicer satellites and some ended up getting poached by cunning recruiters and other internal teams.

Edit: The floorplan was pretty far out there and I think they were emulating some European layout. It was super dynamic, so people and teams could migrate between conference rooms, private enclosures, private shared offices, lounges, etc... as they needed or desired and remote conference to the main office. Though after some super important team that had the floor above us lost several key developers and admins to a local company , and people from the main offices were commuting to the satellite offices instead, they started selling off floors or closing off access.

JohnnyConatus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly getting rid of RW fixed Yahoo /s
JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend SococoRS for this issue (making remote work seem more like teamwork). It allows you to actually go up to a coworker's desk and say Hi. Unless their door is closed of course. Does screen share/vid conferencing and chat rooms, all in a simulation of a virtual office.

{ I own stock in Sococo }

jkot 2 days ago 1 reply      
In my experience it is best to create your own remote job.

You can start consulting / freelancing.

Or existing job can be made remote. Employer must trust you.

blubb-fish 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remote work is going to be the future - aided by VR technology collaboration in teams will become much easier.

I already look forward to living in a little house on cheap ground somewhere in the nowhere and do my fork from there :)

cwyers 3 days ago 2 replies      
Okay, look. This is easy. I can't pay rent or a mortgage with a team. When my kid asks me what's for dinner, I can't feed her some groceries I got with all the team spirit and esprit de corps that I've picked up. When I need to go to the doctor and he says I need something expensive, all my fellow teammembers aren't going to immediately offer to pitch in and help with those. The author says "I think that we mistakenly put jobs ahead of teams because we choose to ignore the obvious, and sometimes nuanced complications of remote work." No, it's because I've got bills to pay and people to provide for.
MrPatan 2 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft is now the leading company for open source contributions on GitHub businessinsider.com
336 points by gjmveloso  3 days ago   183 comments top 27
Illniyar 3 days ago 5 replies      
How is that calculated?

I mean Microsoft only has 2561 members (https://github.com/orgs/Microsoft/people) , so it isn't how many microsoft members contribute to open source.

Is it how many contributors their open source projects have? nope, FontAwesome has maybe 100 contributors to all of it's 5 projects but it's listed as having 9000+ contributors.

From what I can gather it's mostly based on the number of people that forked one of their projects (with some padding, maybe by the number of contributors to forks of the project? I have no idea)

This doesn't seem like a metric that is more meaningful then just the number of stars a repository has.

edpichler 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is very good, with this I learned that it's never too late to a company change. A very slow and large company like MS took decades to make this change, but they did well.And, they do that not because they are "good guys", but because this is the strategy to make them grow on their business. They are thinking on themselves.
aries1980 3 days ago 3 replies      
AFAIK Angular is part of Google.

But a quite decent improvement from the era when the company bribed government officials to purchase bulk licences for pupils and govn't, distorting the job market. This is a less harmful Microsoft than it was 5-10-20 years ago.

chha 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is quite an improvement from the olden days when a certain Microsoft executive described the GPL as a cancer, and open source in general as a thing to avoid
jdmoreira 3 days ago 2 replies      
When I was a script kiddie back in the mid nineties Microsoft was this evil corporate empire that all the linux kids hated.

Now I'm in my mid 30s and I respect them a lot and would definitely work for them.

I guess we both have changed.

DoofusOfDeath 3 days ago 3 replies      
Let's discuss Microsoft's software patents.

Any Github contributions they make are trivial in comparison.

executesorder66 3 days ago 7 replies      
It seems to me like they are only open sourcing the products they wish more people are using, and not their actually useful products like MSOffice and the Windows OS.

Edit: to be clear, I know it is in their best interest not to open source those products, because that's where most of their money comes from. But it really looks to me like the want to flood the market with random open source stuff, so that they seem more open source friendly. But in reality they are not actually contributing anything very useful to the community.

idm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I reached a similar conclusion regarding Microsoft, based upon my own analysis:


Despite being a latecomer to GitHub, Microsoft has risen to become the 4th most influential organization on GitHub in a very short amount of time.

TACIXAT 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using dotnetcore to prototype a project. I'm actually really impressed with it. Every time I build and run it on Linux I'm resurprised that the project started in Visual Studio and builds / runs on Linux. Neat stuff, now they just need to add support LDAP.

This is all coming from someone who only uses Windows for Overwatch, Office, and courses that require it.

knocte 3 days ago 0 replies      
And I'm guessing they're even still not counting the Xamarin employees?
ergo14 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great - did they stop suing linux users yet?
l0b0 3 days ago 1 reply      
Leaving aside the obvious methodology issues, whenever such a huge company starts using a third party extensively I start worrying that they will buy them and lay waste to the values of the original company. At least we'll have GitLab and the like.
thr0waway1239 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ballmer 2005: Let's kick open source's ass

(Many years of confusion, a realization that no company has the engineering chops to pull off such a feat, stagnant stock price, CEO change..)

Nadella 2015: Let's kiss open source's ass

vthallam 3 days ago 1 reply      
Microsoft is definitely trying to change its perception among the people, from hardcore closed box to trying to be the typical silicon valley company which opensources time to time to entice engineers working for them and yeah, greater good of the community.

But, as you see if you add Angular and Google's contributions, Google leads the list by a margin. So this looks more like a PR exercise and since when did we start taking BI articles on tech seriously(no offence to any readers).

spleeder 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling Microsoft will open source Windows soon.
smegel 3 days ago 1 reply      
Docker has 14,000+ employees?
omouse 3 days ago 0 replies      
Let the meaningless metrics wars begin.
ruffrey 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the article did the math to add Angular + Google, it would make them the top by a long shot.
akerro 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's a bit different when a corporation open sources their product because it brings them more business value than a corporation actually contributes to not their open source projects. Does MS do that?
vgt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let's note that the analysis was done on Google BigQuery's GitHub public dataset
davexunit 3 days ago 1 reply      
Yet they are still opposed to user freedom on computers. Microsoft hasn't changed.
boobek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Probably it's only a short term statistics.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Too little; Too late;
ActsJuvenile 1 day ago 1 reply      
rck404 3 days ago 0 replies      
GPL and Open Source are still a cancer purely from Business perspective especially on a short term perspective. This is exactly Steve Ballmer too, he is a business guy running a tech organization. He generated huge profits.Satya Nadella is a technical guy, who had seen the benefits of OSS tools, languages and platforms to know how they impact both the developer mindshare & long-term company perspective
maze-le 3 days ago 2 replies      
As long as key components like the official Microsoft NTFS implementation remain closed source, I see in this open source policy as a charade.
fs111 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good for them. I use exactly 0 lines of code from them. Seriously, who cares?
Washington Post Is First Paper to Call for Prosecution of Its Own Source theintercept.com
482 points by etiam  12 hours ago   145 comments top 18
eadz 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This is an important article and adds some real context to Washington Post's editorial. This quote sums it up.

 But still, if the Post editorial page editors now want to denounce these revelations, and even call for the imprisonment of their papers own source on this ground, then they should at least have the courage to acknowledge that it was The Washington Post not Edward Snowden who made the editorial and institutional choice to expose those programs to the public.
The Washington Post's editors decided these stories were in the public interest and should be published, not Snowden.

k-mcgrady 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It's pretty despicable to profit from printing the information and then argue that the person who provided it shouldn't have done so. Surely if you think Snowden should be prosecuted for providing you with the information you should equally be prosecuted from printing illegally obtained information that you don't think was in the public interest. And to make matters worse that information (specifically PRISM which they call out) is still being published by WaPo [1]. Talk about hypocrisy.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/prism-...

Aqueous 10 hours ago 2 replies      
To play the devil's advocate here: this entire article rests on the assumption that the only way public interest could be served by exposing a government program is if that secret program is criminal. But this isn't true - the public's interest could be served even if the program is not criminal. So in my view, Washington Post is not being inconsistent - it is taking the view that while it PriSM was not criminal program, it was in the public's interest to know that it exists.

A lot of times we seem to confuse 'is illegal' with 'should be illegal' - these are very different concepts. Washington Post did not necessarily take the position that PriSM was illegal in their articles, they merely supposed it was in the public's interest to know about it. Presumably to have a public debate about whether it should be illegal.

(Watches karma points tick downwards.)

oneloop 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Guys, we all know that Bezos is a micromanaging maniac. Because of this, he must have known (and approved) the stance that the Washington Post was taking on Snowden, right? What do you think?

I must say that I'm disappointed with Bezos...

(Separate point, I've recently been discovering that The Intercept is an outstanding paper. They have some real investigative journalism)

danso 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As Greenwald himself says, the editorial board does not speak for the reporting staff. Usually, few if any of the news editors are on the board. That's why you'll sometimes see the editorial board of a newspaper endorsing a candidate that their investigative reporting team just ransacked.

That said, this is probably a first.

raverbashing 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a good thing for future whistleblowers to know who should get their stories. WP just took themselves out of that list.
williamle8300 6 hours ago 0 replies      
PULITZER: "Hey WaPo you did a great service to the public with those Snowden articles. Take this Pulitzer Price for Public Service!"

WAPO: "Sure!"

[few months later]

WAPO: "Edward Snowden didn't do this country a public service. He should be prosecuted!"

conistonwater 11 hours ago 3 replies      
The title is a bit clickbaity, and I think Greenwald sometimes lets his politics get the better of him, but I think he makes a perfectly valid point here: it is not only difficult, but also impossible, to reconcile Washington Post's past reporting, together with their own claims of that reporting being in the public interest, with that editorial.

That said, I'm not sure I buy the explanation that it's about "protecting access". There are many cases where groupthink developed on its own just fine (like maybe the support for the Iraq war way back when), so it could be narrow self-serving interest, but it could also be incompetence. And don't attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity, and so on.

kazinator 1 hour ago 0 replies      
In its defense, it has Washington in its name. I.e. what's "in the box" is what the label says.
kordless 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The Post is in dissonance. Their comments are in conflict. They are speaking for the public's right to reasonable privacy that is not susceptible to what occurs when you exploit technology to gain an upper hand.

The game theory around government is that it thinks it has the right to "protect us" at some X% cost to trustworthiness between them and the public. Driven by that value, they will continue to rationalize higher levels of untrustworthiness.

tptacek 10 hours ago 5 replies      
Greenwald makes an important point and then sabotages it with over-the-top emotional appeals.

He's right that the Editorial Page editors should acknowledge the Post's own role in publicizing NSA foreign ops. He's probably right that Marty Baron would disagree with the Editorial. It is hypocritical for the Post to campaign against clemency for Snowden without acknowledging their (prominent) role in the leaks.

But it's not enough for Greenwald to make an interesting point. Anything interesting Greenwald has to say must be deployed in the service of his own campaign against the Post and the New York Times, against the journalistic establishment, and, ultimately, the US Government. So, interleaved among all the grafs establishing the Post's hypocrisy we have a parallel story of cowardice and betrayal, of the Post somehow setting new precedents in how papers handle sources. quelle horreur.

The Post can be hypocritical and still, potentially, correct in opining about clemency for Snowden.

The Post can be cowardly and still correct.

Criminals have been sources for newspapers for as long as there's been newspapers. A reporter takes on some obligations --- created by norms and barely if at all recognized by law --- when engaging a reluctant or vulnerable source. But none of those obligations include full-throated support for the sources interests moving forward. How would that even make sense?

Greenwald makes this critique even easier to write when he drags Frad Kaplan into his litany of cowardice. Kaplan wasn't one of the Post's Snowden-sourced journalists, and the piece that has Greenwald outraged is criticism of Oliver Stone's Snowden movie --- criticism that we can quibble with, but that is overall well-founded and seemingly absent from the discussion about the movie. Seemingly for the sole offense of having an opinion that differs from Greenwald's (and for being a member of the evil journalistic establishment), Kaplan too must join the league of cowardice.

What's most maddening to me is the narrative (because everything about Snowden needs to be a narrative, with an arc and a resolution that we all collectively evaluate to derive the Metacritic score for this part of American history) that Snowden has through bravery somehow transcended accountability, and that entities like the Post through cowardice have surrendered any future claim to reason or judgement.

We can argue all day about Snowden's bravery (the other side of the Snowden debate has another side of the bravery argument, too, and just as unproductive). But stipulate that he was unimpeachably courageous. So what? Lots of brave people do counterproductive things. Abortion clinic bombers are brave. Bank robbers are brave. The dude who phished all those celebrity iCloud accounts and published the photos --- I don't know if he knew how "brave" that was, but that took some stones. Firefighters are brave and so were the medics on the beaches of Normandy. In evaluating someone's actions, we need more data than "courage" or even best intentions to come to a conclusion.

There are no doubt many good arguments for total clemency for Snowden. I probably don't agree with them (cards on the table: in my own fictional narrative of the Snowden story, he's convicted of something meaningful and has his sentence immediately suspended). But none of those arguments should have much to do with "bravery".

marcoperaza 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a difference between the freedom to publish what is already leaked, and leaking in the first place. The former is protected by the First Amendment. The latter is not.
justafool 10 hours ago 2 replies      
mtgx 11 hours ago 2 replies      
WashPost has definitely been on a visible decline since Jeff Bezos bought it. Extremely partisan and it tends to argue for the government (infamous "golden key" editorial, etc), rather than against it (in case we've all forgotten by now, that was supposed to be the job of the press). A lot of its articles are also Buzzfeedy and factfree.
draw_down 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll agree with "ignominious".
aphextron 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Even as a vehemently anti-Trump person, I find the Washington Post has become insufferably partisan to the point of making the left look bad. This is the final nail in the coffin of their legitimacy, to me.
sunstone 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Besos is a shithead. Tell us something we don't know already.
jackgavigan 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Glenn Greenwald clearly doesn't understand the difference between journalism and editorialising. Does he seriously believe that the WaPo should have ignored the Snowden revelations about legitimate overseas intelligence operations, despite the fact that they knew that other news outlets were going to publish them? Does he not understand that the newspaper's job is to report the news?

What a douchenozzle.

HP Allegedly Time Bombs Unofficial Ink Cartridges from Working in Its Printers hothardware.com
404 points by defenestration  22 hours ago   265 comments top 63
noonespecial 13 hours ago 5 replies      
The best way to make a difference against this nastyness realistically available to us is probably the "one star review".

And when you do, resist writing 10 paragraphs about all the times HP has ever wronged you or a long story about how much you needed the printout when it refused to print.

One star, one sentence. "Expires full inks after only x months forcing you to buy new ones when you don't need them."

I know for certain these short, sweet reviews change the buying behavior of my non-techie family.

Make a difference. Write a product review today.

froh42 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Such behaviour is the reason I threw out a perfectly working HP OfficeJet one day and will never buy a single HP printer in my life.

In the OfficeJet in question I only used genuine cartridges, but every few year it would stop receiving black and white faxes because (the nearly full) color cartidge was passing its expiry date - forcing me to throw away the full color cartridge and buying a new one.

DavideNL 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Slightly offtopic, but, I've been using a HP printer for the past years (Photosmart D7360) and am also VERY annoyed, one example: whenever one of my color cartridges is past it's expiry date i can't print in black and white. Even though the black cartridge is brand new. I first have to go buy a new color cartridge (which i don't use) and then i can print in black again.The warning message says something like "if you print with an outdated cartridge it may damage the printer".

seriously, will never buy a HP printer again.

azarias 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Can confirm, this happened to our HP 6830 printer on September 13. Extremely annoyed because we only bought this printer in June, and was working fine with a replacement ink. I was actually researching legal precedents to this, and learned that Lexmark has been fighting something like this in court for over a decade[1].

[1] https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20160214/16294133605/after...

Animats 21 hours ago 5 replies      
There's the Epson Eco-Tank series. Ink is in four bottles at the side of the machine, good for about 4000-6000 pages. Refill with Epson ink bottles or (a bit more messily) from bulk ink. The printer costs about $279.

You do have to clean the print heads occasionally. That's the price of long life print heads.

Roboprog 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Somebody mentioned Brother printers elsewhere.

I replaced my HP laser with a Brother laser a while back (just printing "stuff", not photos)

I replaced my black cart on the HP (2600n) with a 3rd party product, and got away with it. However, when I replaced the color carts (one ran out), which I was forced to, since it wouldn't print B&W at all otherwise, the printer detected the alien carts, and immediately refused to clean itself or something - I started getting black streaks on my black text, even though the black cart worked just fine for months the day before.

Bye bye, HP, you ain't what you used to be.

josefresco 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Not sure if it was a time bomb, but HP does have an "auto update" feature that could seem like a time bomb.

We got nailed by this with our HP 8610. Were using 3rd party cartridges with much success for months. Last week my wife had a huge (for us) print job and encountered an annoying bug (prints blank sheets every other print). Updated the firmware hoping it would fix the problem. Next thing we know, cartridge error.

Spent 3-4 hours researching how to downgrade firmware with no luck.

No mentioned of new Sept 13 firmware on any HP driver website that I found.

3rd party is shipping us new cartridges for free, but it will be 2 weeks. Had to buy another printer.

Die in a fire HP.

bArray 17 hours ago 7 replies      
I think this calls for a cheap open source printer to be made. Nothing complex is needed initially, just black and white with low running costs. In reality, any liquid that stains the paper of a given consistency should be fine. It shouldn't be costing this much to replace ink.
JoeAltmaier 11 hours ago 2 replies      
How I get screwed: My HP printer will occasionally print a black-and-white page using all three colors of ink. Discovered this one day when I rubbed a fresh page and it smeared three colors. They call it 'wear leveling' or something. But we all know it means 'using up your expensive color ink instead of your cheap black ink'. What a crock.
nine_k 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Stop buying dirt-cheap printers that are sold at a loss. These are designed to be paid off by expensive toner / ink. These are designed to make you waste the supplies if you don't use them up fast enough. They are designed to reject third-party cheaper supplies.

Pay a couple hundred more upfront for a no-bullshit device. I hope those still exist.

Myce 1 hour ago 0 replies      
pmoriarty 21 hours ago 3 replies      
Are there any open hardware printers in the making?

I seem to recall some open hardware cell phone projects. No reason a similar effort couldn't be directed towards making an open printer, is there?

Also, it might not even require making a full open hardware printer, but just some key circuitry and maybe some drivers, right?

woliveirajr 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Laser OKI color printer isn't different.

Each toner (CMYK) has a life based on printed pages and stop working even if there's toner inside. No third part supplier, because the printer won't recognize it. And it's useless torefill it if you don't change some chip in each toner.

And then the fusor will also stop after some number of pages, no matter if the quality was still good. To replace it you spend more than you paid for the printer.

So OKI was in my banned list, now HP joins it.

eggy 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I haven't owned and HP printer in a while, but this article will stop me from making an HP printer my next purchase if and when I need one. What a dirty, cheap tactic by HP! They'll fire some low-wage earner worker and a mid-level manager over this, while the real culprit stays at his job I'm sure. Definitely class-action, and even criminal, no? Consumer fraud, deception?

Third-party replacements are running fine in my Samsung and Canon, without a complaint.

Sanddancer 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I wouldn't doubt it for a second. Printer makers use the razor/razorblade model for consumables, where the printer's dirt cheap, but the ink costs an arm and a leg. This is just the latest tactic for getting people to go OEM only.

At this point, I long for the good old days, when Canon embraced 3rd party ink vendors. Canon's cartridges were cheap because the print heads were a separate, replaceable, item, and the third parties were more than free to put out really interesting inks, like sets of greyscale for making really nice black and white prints.

Steeeve 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I've had nothing but great success using third party ink with Epson printers. Every two-three years I buy a new epson printer and either a continuous ink system or refillable cartridges. I never worry about the kids printing too much or the print cartridge getting dry and clogging.

Epson gets used a lot as a base in the third party space - for things like T-shirt printers and other textile based printing. The print heads are reliable and accurate.

tdkl 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Does this also happens with laser toner cartridges ? I really have no idea why people even buy those inkjet printers anymore, price per page is lower with laser printers and prices even for a color laser are in sub 200$ range.
schlowmo 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Old, but still so true:

"Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell To Make Us Miserable"


Had this one printed out (oh that irony) and taped it to our office wall when we had to deal with crappy printers on a daily basis working for a big DAX company.

proctor 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This kind of reminds me of how some of these companies disable the scanner portion of "All-in-One" type printers if the printer portion is out of ink.
jasonkostempski 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't even remotely surprising. in early 2000's work had 5 heavy duty color laser printers from HP to print B&W letters on. All carts stopped working after a certain page count. Even if the color wasn't used it would decrement the counter. We threw out THOUSANDS of full color toner cartridges.
dangjc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
In southeast Asia, you can get an Epson L300 tank printer for about $170 USD. Each tank refill costs $10 and lasts for 10,000 pages. This line of printers isn't offered in the US. It's market segmentation. I think it's indicative of the level of oligopoly in the printer industry that they can segment this well and get away with it.
ne01 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Liberate yourself from softwares/products like this!

We used to own the stuff we paid for! Now it's like you pay to be the product. I think this problem is worse in software.

Checkout fsf.org

legohead 11 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone tired of paying so much for ink replacements, look into a CISS (Continuous Ink Supply System) [1]. I got one for our Epson and it far outperforms ink cartridges and even the replacement ink is cheap.

I've had some issues with the printer recognizing the cartridges, but after fiddling around enough it eventually does. It's definitely worth the effort.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/XUANCAI-Continuous-cartridge-Printer-...

crististm 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it's time due for a rerun of Ken Thomson's reverse engineering of Mergenthaler Linotron.


dre85 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there any legitimate reason to be buying an inkjet versus a laser? I would personally never buy an inkjet again in my life regardless of the brand.
frou_dh 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Inkjet printers have been simply the most loathsome category of electronics I've encountered. Concluded some years ago to never own one again. Garbage! Zero tolerance!
pjc50 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm fairly sure this is illegal in the EU under one of the e-waste directives.
neotek 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't know how the DRM works on ink cartridges, but if all the off-brand cartridges just use the same mass-produced cloned DRM "chip" (or whatever it is), it not possible this is actually caused by a certificate expiring rather than an intentionally malicious act by HP?

I really don't have any clue what I'm talking about, just wondering if there's any alternative cause whatsoever.

dec0dedab0de 16 hours ago 9 replies      
As an aside, does anyone remember the last time they were happy with ANY HP product? Everytime I see that logo I get chills knowing what a pain in the ass it's going to be.

Edit: I am specifically thinking about HPSM, and HPNA here.

jmporcel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Reverse engineering is a must in this case. I cannot be accepted that you got an HP printer and now you cannot use generic ink.

I never liked HP but now, no way I will consider to buy HP products at all.

Mister_Snuggles 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I bought a Lexmark laser printer about 12 years ago. A few days ago I bought my very first replacement toner cartridge for it - until this point I have been using the included cartridge, which is probably a half-capacity one. As you can guess, I do a lot of printing.

The box for the cartridge actually says that it will:

1) Only dispense a certain amount of toner before the printer will stop printing and that there will still be some toner left in the cartridge when this happens.

2) Update the firmware on the printer so that it won't accept 3rd-party cartridges.

3) Stuff about me agreeing to return the used cartridge to Lexmark for recycling since I bought a "return program" cartridge. Lexmark sold the cartridge for a reduced price, returning it for recycling is my end of the bargain.

They didn't use these exact words, but it was very clearly written and seemed like it would be pretty understandable to a regular person.

On one hand, I have to give Lexmark props for full disclosure that doesn't hide behind a click-through license or any weasel-words/legalese. On the other hand, changing the printer after purchase to lock the owner into Lexmark cartridges seems kind of low.

I'm really not sure how I feel about this though. I don't mind buying the manufacturer's cartridges or packing up the old one to be returned. But at the same time I'm worried that, in another 12 years, Lexmark might no longer be making cartridges for this printer and I'll have to throw the printer away.

animex 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Also, don't forget to mark "helpful" the most popular reviews that align with your opinion of HP's current practices.
bedros 21 hours ago 0 replies      
just few days back (possible Sept 13th) I got the following error message

One or more cartridges appear to be damaged.Remove them and replace with new cartridges

I was using non-hp ink cartridges.

I've been HP customer for 20 years, and I'm done with HP for their dishonesty.

83457 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I gave up on inkjet printers a long time ago. Is there any justification for using inkjet over laser for black and white?
dinnouti 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The Amazon Basic is my go to brand, their are cheap and functional. I wish they get into printers.
jldugger 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There has to be enough former HP engineers to find one willing to answer this one definitively.
henrygrew 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Very dishonest practice from HP i'm never going to use any of their products again.
ClayFerguson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If this can be proven, and a class action lawsuit is filed, this would spell the end of HP. I don't think they would have any choice but to declare bankruptcy.
smhg 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the last HP printer I owned and the priceless reviews people wrote about it:


True, it was cheap, but the way in which it malfunctioned was so much over the top that I'll never buy HP printers again.

sly010 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Here is a (probably worthless) idea:

Create 1 or 2 good, serviceable network printer and experiment with different business models like subscriptions or pay-as-you-print, where the printer manufacturer _owns_ the printer an office or home just rents it.

In such a model, the companies incentives would align with the users values:

- Cheaper printing per page

- Less overhead on distribution

- No artificial costs and limitations

- Generally better printer:

 - More serviceable - Better software - Long term support
- More environmentally friendly

Most people I know doesn't own a printer and just use the office printer anyway,so why not make the office printer just-work?

Edit: formatting

t3ra 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Canon printers with a "Continuous Supply Ink Tank" FTW. Now they even have official versions of these tanks.
ausjke 12 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a little chip inside the cartridge, EPSON's chip was cloned in China so you can use the third-party inks "safely", however it's not the case for HP.

I had not bought any HP products for 10+ years.

tluyben2 18 hours ago 6 replies      
Not trolling, but why do you use printers? I haven't used paper for 5 odd years now. The gov here (Spain) gives me tons of paper; I photograph it and then leave it and have them print it out when needed. Outside that I have not needed paper since the ipad. Why do other people?
XCSme 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Just get a CISS printer. I got an Epson L300 when I started college (4 years ago) and the printer is still going strong and I still have one full bottle of black ink (it came with 3x black ink bottles in the box). It was about $150 when I bought it and I spent $0 on ink.
userbinator 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Because of this sudden influx of complaints, it didnt take long to trace the failures to a HP firmware update that was released during the spring.

I wonder how long it'll be until someone hacks it and releases a firmware that has the checks patched out. I vaguely remember this being done for a few other chipped-cartridge printers many years ago, although that was more intended for CIS ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_ink_system ) where it makes no sense for the printer to keep thinking it's using small cartridges.

snarfy 16 hours ago 0 replies      
For $69 it's easy enough to buy a different printer brand.

I buy a new ink cartridge and put it in my old printer and it doesn't work. Why should I assume the problem is the new ink cartridge and not the old printer?

raphaelh 15 hours ago 2 replies      
So what is a good brand of laser printers that work well under Linux and accepts unofficial toners?
denzell 20 hours ago 3 replies      
how is this legal? It's akin to a car shutting down if a non genuine part is used.
chris_wot 21 hours ago 2 replies      
If this is affecting printers in Australia, then HP are going to learn a very costly lesson in ethics. The ACCC will have to do an investigation, but the instant they confirm this has occurred they will face stiff fines for third line forcing and anti-competitive behaviour distorting the market.
FullMtlAlcoholc 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not a legal expert, but I want to believe that there is some law preventing manufacturers from sabotaging their own products in order to extract more coin from your consumers.

I want to believe...

scotu 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, on my mom Windows 10 pc hp software asked her if the cartridge was pirate (unofficial?). Well, actually it was original, the only thing is that I'm keeping an empty color cartridge instead of replacing it since I only use black... I'm wondering wtf happened there
tener 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how this will play out. This should get the attention of consumer rights watchdog at least, but possibly also class action suite.
rihac 3 hours ago 0 replies      
second sneaky thing I have heard about them recently, there was also a big thing about them disabling the printers when you unsubscribe from the instant ink package.
Ericson2314 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, I'm glad I basically don't need to print anymore. Not sure what luck got me here, but I sure as hell aren't going back.
kpil 20 hours ago 2 replies      
How is this legal?

As a side note, HP sells a (vintage) 256 MB DDR2 RAM module for $600 (USD) for it's new printers.

Sneakos 20 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're gonna do something sketchy like this, at least be smart about it.

HP could learn from Apple...

zimbatm 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there any brand of printer that that doesn't do that kind of thing?
threepipeproblm 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope HP can prevent all their future customers from talking to informed parties, or reading informed reviews. Seems rather self destructive of them.
mey 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Can anyone recommend a good Soho printer at this point?
roflchoppa 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like we have this discussion every week.
bluesign 16 hours ago 0 replies      
any hard evidence about pre-programmed date on firmware?

I think this is evil and smart, - people would by printers - some unofficial ink cartridge market will add good reviews etc (low printing cost)- increased cartridge sales for HP after set date

Sounds more like, unofficial iPhone cables not charging, but smarter (possibly illegal though)

edit: some google search reveals[1] more like firmware update at September 13 (auto update), then pre-set date. Pretty much like Apple and third party cable update.

edit2: More I read, I start to see 3rd party cartidge vendors didn't implement the chipset on cartridge fully compatible, instead they went easy way around.

Third party ink vendor says: "We do not yet have an updated chipset that will work with this new firmware version. . Customers can expect cartridge replacements with updated chipsets to be available in two to three weeks, possibly longer."

[1] http://www.therecycler.com/posts/hp-inc-firmware-update-lock...

pearjuice 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Sadly, HP doesn't have a reality distortion field. Apple would have gotten away with this and some clever marketing.
fred_is_fred 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure HP is smart enough to do this nefariously.
Faking your death linkedin.com
376 points by panic  2 days ago   212 comments top 24
jastanton 2 days ago 3 replies      
Reminds me of a DefCon speaker that talked about exploiting a bunch of websites to order death and birth certificates. Really eye opening, and potentially devastating if it's done to you.

Edit: https://youtu.be/9FdHq3WfJgs

hodgesrm 2 days ago 7 replies      
Fun article. The idea of faking your death has probably occurred to a lot of people in military service.

It sure did in my case--it only took two days of basic training to make clear that signing up for the US Air Force was the worst mistake of a heretofore untroubled life. It's gratifying to see my proposed method (an untimely hiking accident) so highly praised.

Just out of curiosity for anybody who has gone through this exercise what method(s) did you consider? Extra points for originality.

pjc50 2 days ago 7 replies      
A variant of this that I heard used to be a problem in India: have someone else declared dead. It can be remarkably hard to fix the problems created in a bureaucracy when that happens.


nommm-nommm 2 days ago 2 replies      
>A group of private investigators hired by Dateline NBC located McDermott when they noticed a centralized cluster of IP addresses originating near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, all clicking onto a site dedicated to tracing his whereabouts.

Protip, use a VPN/Tor and incognito mode preferably on someone else's Wifi with a burner laptop you bought from Craigslist with cash while Googling your crimes. I've heard of murder/kidnapping suspects being found out this way as well.

... or really, just resist the urge to Google your crimes.

devnull42 2 days ago 1 reply      
THe DefCon talk on this two years ago was pretty good.


Video of this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FdHq3WfJgs

mattcopp 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've wanted to fake my death in Facebook for some time. A kind of blaze of glory.

It seems remarkably simple, all I needed to do is to get an obituary in a local paper, and fill in this form https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/234739086860192. How hard can that be right?

Unfortunately my wife put a stop to it soon as I told her.

laktak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cached, for those without a linkedin account:


Blackthorn 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was going to link to Elizabeth Greenwood's fascinating book, then I clicked on the link and saw this was written by her! Fascinating subject from a great writer. There's a This American Life episode about it, where she talks about this. Very interesting stuff. I can't seem to find the episode or I'd link it :-(
jkot 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is not it easier to move abroad? In many countries student loans are included in personal bankruptcy. And you get citizenship with passport after 5 years of residency.
digikata 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently listened to a fascinating Radiolab episode which is the interesting flip side of this. The episode was about a girl who couldn't prove she existed (from a legal standpoint).


robot 2 days ago 1 reply      
" Ninety-nine percent of faked deaths are water accidents. In most drownings, the body is recovered. So why was this body not recovered? "

I had exactly this question when they mentioned that Osama was killed and his body thrown to the ocean. OK it's not a drowning, but why was it thrown to the ocean?

CM30 2 days ago 2 replies      
The flowchart was amusing, though perhaps a little over the top with the choices. Jokes about murder and suicide seem like they clash with the more serious tone of the article a bit.

Seriously though, this sort of thing is about as bad an idea as pretending to be dying of cancer on Facebook/a personal blog, especially when the internet makes it very easy to expose liars.

biztos 2 days ago 1 reply      
For most purposes, wouldn't it be easier to just go away somewhere and keep on being you, just with bad credit?
PaulHoule 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's much harder to do than it used to be.

It used to be you could find somebody who died, get their birth certificate, take over their social security number and you were golden.

Then they started publishing and invaliding social security numbers of dead people and it got a lot harder.

squozzer 2 days ago 1 reply      
It was among the least-expected articles I had ever read on LI, especially in light of LI's mission to promote "professional" networking.
rocket69 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting how the flowchart and the article differ a fair bit.
kazinator 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Don't Google Yourself:

> ...

> A group of private investigators hired by Dateline NBC located McDermott when they noticed a centralized cluster of IP addresses originating near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, all clicking onto a site dedicated to tracing his whereabouts.

I.e. do google yourself; just don't click on the results. Pull the content from Google's cache, or go through an anonymizer.

fet 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's surprising to me to see how popular this article is around all of my social media right now. I knew we were all stressed out but I didn't think we would be this fascinated.
lintiness 2 days ago 1 reply      
linkedin has become something very weird.
CarpetBench 2 days ago 3 replies      
I found it hilarious the number of comments that are tirades about student loans and "personal responsibility," like it was even a significant part of the article.
FLGMwt 2 days ago 3 replies      
From the headline and domain, I assumed this was about faking a death to stop LinkedIn emails.
ronjouch 2 days ago 1 reply      
<meta> Interesting to see this upvoted to the top of HN. What does it say about us?</meta>
icantdrive55 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why do I find sites that require login/signup hubristic? I guess because we have so many alternatives? Or, do I just dislike Linkedin?
FBI director: Cover up your webcam thehill.com
327 points by grej  4 days ago   288 comments top 47
6t6t6t6 4 days ago 19 replies      
From all they ways I can be spied, the webcam is the one that concerns me the least.

At the end, all they will see is a bearded man staring to the front. May they be able to see me naked? Well, probably, but I honestly don't think that they will make a lot of money by selling my naked pictures... My wife tells me that I still look good, but I suspect that she is being nice to me.

What would scare more is that they manage to capture what is on my screen, or install a keylogger, or activate the microphones to hear my conversations, or that they access my hard disks and steal data, including my private keys.

Hey, but putting a sticker on your webcam is a way to show how 1337 your are!

I prefer not to have to bother removing stickers every time I want to do a Skype call.

janvidar 3 days ago 3 replies      
Isn't this really just a sign of flawed hardware design?

In my opinion hardware should be designed so that the camera LED lamp should always be lit if the camera is used. If there is a malfunction with the LED, then the camera should also not work.Also there should be a hardware LED for when the microphone is being used which should work in the same fashion for laptops with built-in microphones.

In the webcam drivers I have looked at the LED is controlled independently of capturing, although drivers do enable the LED when the camera is used. This essentially means that hackers can record and disable the lamp.

I've been considering hacking together some piece of software that will continuously use the camera (/dev/video) in order to block it for other applications, and have it fail with visible alerts if unable to block the camera.Not sure if the same thing can be achieved for the audio recording devices due to multiplexing.

_Codemonkeyism 3 days ago 5 replies      
"The head of the FBI on Wednesday defended putting a piece of tape over his personal laptop's webcam, claiming the security step was a common sense one that most should take."

One needs to ask why is the head of the FBI telling you this? Cui bono?

This is a red herring.

The FBI has no interest in filming you through your webcam.

They want to listen to your microphone, watch your screen, get the keys you've typed, see the websites you've visited, read the emails you've sent.

Watch you on video? Nah. This is a red herring.

That is the reason the head of the FBI tells you to cover your webcam.

I wish the The Last Psychiatrist would come back.

ipsin 4 days ago 3 replies      
If you're so concerned about having your webcam subverted, it seems like the first step would be to insist on a hardware LED that can't be subverted in firmware. If nothing else, it would serve as a canary, indicating that your machine has been thoroughly compromised.
white-flame 4 days ago 2 replies      
I said it then, and I say it now:

- Encryption is our webcam tape.

That tape cannot be thwarted by any remote attacker, legally warranted or not. It's perfect, unbreakable security from webcam visuals being exfiltrated, exactly the security features that Comey says we shouldn't be allowed to have for our data.

meowface 4 days ago 2 replies      
I know this thread will probably get politicized, but I see nothing wrong (or necessarily hypocritical; he's law enforcement, not IC) with his advice here.
sotojuan 4 days ago 4 replies      
The webcam cover up is interesting to me because it's the only "weird privacy thing" I've seen regular, non-technical people do. A good amount of people at my university, most of which use social media liberally and don't care about encryption, cover their camera up.
benevol 3 days ago 3 replies      
Every electronic communication device (laptop, mobile, tablet, etc) should have 1 hardware switch per sensor (camera, mic, motion/acceleration, etc) which disables the sensor.

Why manufacturers still haven't introduced this is beyond me.

rdtsc 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is like the coal burning power plant telling you to make sure to sort your recyclables into appropriate containers, to make the environment cleaner.

Also people enjoy and feel good about accomplishing small things. Putting a sticker on your laptop is a small easy task. Do it and they feel more "secure" in an instant.

Hilyin 4 days ago 1 reply      
I guess this is just as good place as any to bring this up. In current OS X, you cannot disable your mic. You can turn down the input volume, but never disable. All malware needs to do is raise the input volume and it can listen to you to its hearts content.

And its worse with your iPhone.

ssebastianj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was looking for a way to cover the mics and webcam integrated in my laptop which doesn't require a tape. So, I grabbed a couple of those magnets stripes usually found on fridges and then , using a scissor, made two little rectangular stripes and a larger one. Next, I glued the little stripes on the laptop, near close the mics. The nice thing is that the large stripe covers both, the mics and webcam. For me, it's an easy way to cover/uncover fast.
boxkite 4 days ago 1 reply      
I keep mine covered because I work remotely a lot and I don't want to accidentally shirtless video chat someone from bed when I meant to make a different type of call.
conradev 4 days ago 1 reply      
I use a MacBook Pro as my daily driver, but I recently purchased a Lenovo ThinkPad to play around with. Sometimes I forget how awesome it is to have a repairable and modular computer.

I didn't want the webcam or microphone in the ThinkPad so I took 30 minutes and removed it. Easy as that.

greglindahl 3 days ago 0 replies      
I experimented a bit with an Apple laptop microphone, and it took 2 layers of electrical tape to block the mic. There doesn't appear to be any way to block an iPhone mic without blocking the speaker, too, and I'm not confident that it could be blocked at all.
mpetrovich 4 days ago 0 replies      
But what about his computer's built-in mic? Unless he's pantomiming all sensitive info...
neom 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty sad that he used the word "authority" in this sentence: You do that so that people who dont have authority dont look at you. I think thats a good thing.
throwaway13337 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's relatively common to have access to private security cameras. Some are even google indexed.

The software included relies on the users protect the web interface. Obviously, this is the vulnerability. Especially with things like default passwords.

Here's an article about it:http://www.networkworld.com/article/2844283/microsoft-subnet...

A lot of these cameras are controllable and have speakers.

People now do live video streams of pranking people through this means.

Pictures: http://imgur.com/a/0WImd

skybrian 4 days ago 0 replies      
Back in the day, SGI workstations had a hardware shutter. I still think it's a good idea.
24gttghh 3 days ago 0 replies      
My Asus 1015PEM netbook from 6 years ago has a physical screen that slides over the camera; sliding the screen also turns on the camera. Why don't more laptops have this feature if this is such a 'big deal'?
throw2016 3 days ago 0 replies      
The hacker news readership is focussed on startups and technology. It's a career, a business and in some cases an interest in technology.

So privacy as a social good may not be the primary perspective and it often devolves into how this affects readers personally rather than the society they live in or side tracks into technology nuances.

Technology is enabling new negative possibilities but it does not follow that technologists can make a difference. There is no ethical code of conduct. Like everyone else they are another cog in the wheel and software engineers may not have an interest or priority on privacy, social and political issues.

There are a large number of folks working in the nsa, gchq, google, facebook, palantir, hardware vendors and elsewhere actively enabling this.

Like technology itself politics, liberty, privacy and the evolution of modern system from the time of feudalism requires interest and priority. From this perspective the need to tape up your webcam may have completely different ramnifications.

xcasperx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with what most people are saying on here, but I believe there's a bigger picture to it.

Let's say that your computer has been completely 'pwned', and that you are currently reading an article with an ad for Cow Porn, or whatever, on the right hand hand side of the site. The hacker can write some code to check what your eyes, and eyebrows, did when you looked at the ad. If it peaked your interest, the hacker can maliciously add more 'Cow Porn' ads to sites you visit - via swapping out the regular ones.

Now one day you get curious and click on it, and boom they take a screen shot and try to blackmail you.

This is obviously quite outlandish but think about purposefully planting posts, lets say on reddit, by switching out posts. They then look at your head movements, and, or, eye movements then boom, you're added to some list that you wouldn't have be added to if it weren't for your eye movements.

dingo_bat 4 days ago 8 replies      
I have never covered my Webcam because I trust the light to come on if the camera turns on. Is it possible to bypass that led?
eosrei 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about the cameras in your phone and the microphones in everything? Security theater isn't security.
krinchan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm about to die laughing at the hoops people are jumping through in the comments to claim they've never pulled up some porn and enjoyed themselves in front of their laptop. Ever. EVER
laurent123456 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article describes how to turn off the led light on Windows, which is surprisingly easy:


TLDR: Webcams follow the UVC standard and, according to this standard, the LED indicator light is controlled by the host software. So a simple hack is to find the webcam driver DLL, find the function that controls the LED (such as TurnOnOffLED()), make it return immediately, done.

tedmiston 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone feel the need to cover their iPhone front facing camera?
foobarcrunch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unless you're using Prey[0] and want an opportunity to photograph would-be crooks.

[0] https://preyproject.com

markyc 3 days ago 4 replies      
in this day and age how come we don't see laptops carry a physical on/off switch for the microphone and camera?
awesomerobot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Also remove your microphone and don't use a keyboard? If I were hacking you I'd _much_ rather log your keystrokes or hear what you're saying.

The number of scenarios where having a visual would be useful would be incredibly low by comparison.

Putting a sticker over your webcam is like putting a lock on a screen door.

piedradura 3 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer to have a computer composed by parts, so I attach the webcam to the computer when I need to, same thing for the audio and many other applications.

I only need 1k of ram to send a secret message, so no virus or malware could be in my tiny computer.

zelos 3 days ago 0 replies      
Didn't all Sun webcams used to have little irises that you could close on them?

It seems like a sensible precaution: makes it less likely I'll accidentally log into a company conference call in my dressing gown with my camera enabled.

JustUhThought 3 days ago 1 reply      
At some of my house parties I require guests to check their phone at the door. Price of admission. (I keep a landline and am ok with giving that number out as an emergency contact number). Boy does this get the conversation started.

I can tape my phn camera, but what about the other 20 phns in the room? I have no control over them to keep them from posting photos of me drinking or whatnot during a party, photos I do not want online.

From the tin-hat perspective one must do (much) better than consider their personal devices. One must consider all devices in their personal proximity .

whitenoice 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just saw the prescreening of snowden movie with online live event with movie cast and snowden post movie, and this was exactly what was depicted in the movie and in the event talk.
andrewflnr 4 days ago 0 replies      
So the guy who decries "going dark" when it comes to encryption wants us to literally go dark with our webcams. It's like a dystopian comedy setup.
demonshreder 3 days ago 1 reply      
Aren't these attacks primarily for Windows? Would using Linux (say Arch) mitigate these?

Edit: Shouldn't we be more concerned about phones and tabs?

codethief 3 days ago 0 replies      
In case anyone's looking for something a little bit more sophisticated than a sticker to put on his/her webcam: https://soomz.io/detail/webcam_covers_a10 Been using it for a while and it works like a charm. (Though on a phone it does tend to attract a bit of dirt and the color wears off over time. If you keep your phone in the pocket of your pants, that is.)
chrischen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Quick question for HNers: why isn't something like the camera insicator light implemented for the microphone?
SG- 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know what kind of laptop he uses?
wickedlogic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please cover your webcam, it is distracting while we are trying to listen to what you are clicking on.
listentojohan 3 days ago 0 replies      
What I don't understand is why he has to defend it? (Yes, it might seem hypocritical.)
mangeletti 3 days ago 1 reply      
I swear this is a true story:

I worked at Staples when I was 19, and when I first started I was a "front end lead" (read: the only full-time cashier), so I would work behind the service counter at the front.

Once, I was standing up front while there were no customers when all of the sudden the voice of the general manager (we'll call him Bill) popped onto the phone's speaker, "Hey, Michael". I looked up and noticed the light next to "Manager's Office" was on. I instinctively replied, "Hey, Bill; what's up?", despite the fact that it nearly gave me a heart attack.

Bill proceeded to tell me to run something he needed to the back, which I did, and that was the end of that.

Then, one day I was helping a customer with some Cross pens behind the counter. I stood up to grab a key that was next to the register when I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the phone's "Manager's Office" intercom light was on. It made my heart jump because I hadn't talk to anybody through it, and I knew that Bill was in the back office. I immediately realized, 'oh my god, he's probably spying on me to see how my service is!'. It made me feel uncomfortable, until I realized it was an opportunity to be extraordinarily helpful and jovial with the customer and be "candidly" observed by my manager. So I did that. I rang the customer up and she left. The light went off after a few minutes of silence.

After that, I noticed the light come on a number of times on different days, which surprised me. I even ran to the back after helping a customer once, while the intercom light was still on, sneaked around the corner, and looked into his office window to see if it was really him. He was sitting there looking at his phone. I looked for just a moment when I heard from the speaker above, "<beep!> cashier to the front". I ran.

Bill was probably the greatest manager I've ever known, such a hard worker, a really cool guy to talk to, well respected by everyone, etc. In fact, if all managers were like him, Staples would probably still be a force to be reckoned with. So, it never bothered me the way it probably would have, had it been some creepy manager. This is necessary for the rest of the story, because had it not been the case, I would have probably called him out, etc.

Eventually I started being extra jovial all the time, because I never knew when I'd miss seeing the light come on and miss the opportunity to impress Bill.

Bill was so impressed with my service that I was given a raise and promoted to manager of the copy & print center about 6 months later, which eventually led to me opening my own print company and quitting Staples (after seeing how high the margins were), which led to me learning how to use Adobe Creative Suite and graphic design, which led to me shifting my focus to print design for clients (brochures, cards, etc.), which led to me meeting some guys who ran an Internet marketing company one day while trying to sell my print design services. They wanted to hire me full time, and did, so I began learning web design, then web development, then back end code, etc.

I always tell myself, 'I was probably destined for this kind of work', but the reality is that my entire life might have been changed by simply knowing I was being spied on by my Boss. I realize that it probably worked out for the better in my case, but the fact is, knowing that somebody is watching you causes you to change who you are. It's a form of control in and of itself. In fact, it doesn't even need to happen to you. Now that we have all seen that the government does spy on people, it's hard to imagine all the tiny ways that it might change your behavior and the things you say (e.g., online).

bobsoap 3 days ago 1 reply      
Instead of a sticker, one could also use this clever, simple, magnetic gadget (not affiliated):


mmaunder 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if he covers front and back cellphone cameras.
caub 3 days ago 0 replies      
Laptops have a LED showing when webcam is in use
stanislavb 4 days ago 0 replies      
orthogon 3 days ago 1 reply      
What about the part where we stop buying products with integrated cameras?

What about the part where we stop buying devices that we have seeemingly no hope of control over?

What about that?

Is boycott a word too strong?

Gee, you're right.

We should all just give up, and accept that what we're sold, is that which we must buy.

The building blocks of understanding are memorization and repetition nautil.us
328 points by rgun  3 days ago   93 comments top 28
tucaz 3 days ago 10 replies      
TL;DR: Study foundational blocks by repeating then until you understand. Keep repeating as you build knowledge and move to "harder" things.

I like the message, but not the messenger.

Articles like this, in my point of view, fail to delivery their messages in a better way because they are simply too long and with too much noise for my taste.

The point he is trying to get across could be explained in a simpler way without the necessity of explaining how he went to the army, what he did there and all his personal history.

All this information is completely irrelevant to the main goal of the article and turn it into a boring story instead of useful piece of practical advice.

westoncb 3 days ago 3 replies      
The author is arguing that 'the latest wave of educational reform in mathematics' (in the U.S.) is overemphasizing conceptual understanding, and that doing so will be damaging to students.

The author advocates instead using a memorization and repetition based approach.

I can see where she's coming from, but the argument she is making is flawed. She describes a process for developing fluency both in foreign language and mathematics, wherein she experiments and plays with the constructs being learnedthis is a great suggestion, but it's not in opposition to understanding: the two complement each other.

I think the error arises from making an overly strong identification between learning a foreign language and learning mathematics. If you take the representation of Euler's equation, for instance, and consider how much conceptual depth underlies it, versus a string of 20 Cyrillic characters meaning "I went to the store," or whateveryou can see the difference. You'd be wasting your time trying to get a deep understanding of the Russian phrase, but there's a reason to do it with the mathematical phrase.

Falkon1313 2 days ago 1 reply      
I liked this article because it was in direct opposition to my beliefs (based on my own experience) and yet it gave me a different point of view and convinced me that there was some truth and value there.

I grew up in an era when we wasted a lot of time on mindless rote repetition of meaningless things (meaningless because we were not taught to understand them, only to repeat them). It was boring and useless. I learned by understanding and then applying that understanding. If you understood it, then there was no need to memorize something like f = ma because it was then obvious. But this is a whole new way of looking at it:

>If m and a were big numbers, what did that do to f when I pushed it through the equation? If f was big and a was small, what did that do to m? How did the units match on each side?

That's not thoughtless memorization, that's gaining understanding. But the author did it by active exploration via repetitively examining something from different angles. Not just rote repetition (doing the multiplication over and over again), but seeking understanding. So in a sense, the author is arguing in favor of teaching by emphasizing understanding, but explaining how to use directed repetition to do so. That makes a lot of sense. The key is that it is not mindless rote repetition, but directed, inquisitive repetition.

dhawalhs 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article was written by Barbara Oakley who also teaches the most popular MOOC in the world and also my favourite MOOC called Learning How To Learn: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

She also a upcoming book titled 'Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential':https://www.amazon.com/Mindshift-Obstacles-Learning-Discover...

sireat 3 days ago 2 replies      
Author makes the point that repetition of a solid foundation is a necessary condition to reach unconscious mastery of some craft/skill.

I am just not sure it is sufficient. Age/talent/nature do play a big factor.

Also I suspect starting to learn serious math at age of 26 she is an outlier.

Russian is my 2nd language (English is my 3rd) and both I learned through repetition via reading prodigious amounts in each language.

My Spanish is horrible because I only studied it in high school and never did read any serious books in Spanish.

Now in my 40s I find that learning German is a formidable task even to read Brothers Grimm much less some philosophical works that I had hoped to.

Part of the problem is lack of time (6 months of Duolingo is not enough that's for sure) but also my brain seems to require more repetition to acquire the same knowledge that my daughter picks up near instantly.

fitzwatermellow 3 days ago 1 reply      
My latest hack is to return to paper and pencil. After going paperless about a decade ago, re-wiring these particular neural pathways is quite an obstacle in itself. But in terms of retention and creative flow it is unparalleled. I bring it up because I think the foundation for the memorization and repetition feedback cycle begins with elementary school lessons in handwriting, cursive, the alphabet and spelling. And then onto basic arithmetic and mathematics. The idea that "digital native" students would eschew hours of rote hand writing practice altogether puts humanity in danger of losing something elemental.
danso 3 days ago 1 reply      
> What I had done in learning Russian was to emphasize not just understanding of the language, but fluency. Fluency of something whole like a language requires a kind of familiarity that only repeated and varied interaction with the parts can develop. Where my language classmates had often been content to concentrate on simply understanding Russian they heard or read, I instead tried to gain an internalized, deep-rooted fluency with the words and language structure. I wouldnt just be satisfied to know that meant to understand. Id practice with the verbputting it through its paces by conjugating it repeatedly with all sorts of tenses, and then moving on to putting it into sentences, and then finally to understanding not only when to use this form of the verb, but also when not to use it.

Wow, what great timing. I remember reading this article when it was originally published (apparently in Sept. 2014) and I believe I read it because it made the HN front page back then. It's changed the way I think about teaching, especially technical skills to non-technical students.

The best students I've had so far are ones who are pretty smart and hard-working already, but by and large, they are also the ones who follow my advice to type out code by hand, run it, change it, repeat, break it, several times. And to memorize a few essential keyboard shortcuts (Tab for auto complete, Cmd-Tab for window switching, etc) so that the work of retyping and debugging code itself is much more frictionless.

Unfortunately, and understandably, most college students aren't thrilled with the idea of repetitive practice makes perfect (or at least, makes learning the important concepts much easier). This year I'm going to do a lot more testing involving writing code with pen and paper, on the theory that if you can actually write out code by hand, then you probably know the fundamental patterns (I'm talking fundamental, as in a common for-loop) essential for higher programming.

edit: One thing I should point out; this doesn't make me right but I do dogfood this approach myself when learning any new programming language. I'll write out a tutorial. Then write it the way I think it should work. If I'm half distracted, I'll write it backwards. The thing is, I'm an experienced enough programmer to know that taking the extra time to know how things work is always worth it in programming, because of how insignificant the work of physically writing code is compared to actual programming. Non-programmers do not realize this and approach it as if they were asked to write 20 pages about Hamlet, and then 20 pages about Hamlet using different adjectives.

piedradura 3 days ago 1 reply      
In maths you learn to solve problem by expanding the abstractions by adding new elements. There is a crucial difference between problems easy to solve by repetition and problems that require some insight.
cmillard 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone has their own roadblocks when it comes to learning. Looking at my understanding of programming I realize I have put too much an effort on self-study (rote memorization) and not enough emphasis on interaction (especially with people).

As a child I was always able to memorize something- whether it be classical music, or formulas. However, the deeper connections in learning that allow you to proceed outside of your box come from something else. True understanding is greater than the sum of it's parts.

I like the adage- see one, do one, teach one. Memorization is a requisite for all of them, but true understanding and mastery comes when you're able to take abstract concepts and impart them to other people.

No matter where you are the easiest way to benchmark your competency is to share it with someone else. They don't even need to be an expert, after all- it doesn't take a air traffic controller to see that a plane's landing gear isn't down.

daveloyall 3 days ago 0 replies      
The author attended DLI[0]?

Sounds like the way to learn math late in life is to be really smart. Nobody that attends DLI isn't.

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_Language_Institute

tsumnia 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's nice to see people agreeing with Oakley, considering I had developers ready to tar and feather me for suggesting code snippets should be images to prevent copy/paste.

By no means is memorization the end all be all. Oakley even writes "In the United States, the emphasis on understanding sometimes seems to have replaced rather than complemented older teaching methods". The techniques should be used hand and hand.

RangerScience said it best when he said "perfect practice makes perfect", I like to reword it so it reads "practice makes permanent". Obviously, practicing something wrong isn't going to help you advance.

Memorization should be "step one" for introducing a concept. I can explain how a for loop looks and show it to you, but forcing the student's hand to make a few loops before trying to implement it in a homework assignment can help build the neurological pathways (or motor engrams) so that they're no longer thinking about the syntax, just the chunk. "I need to type for(something;something;something)..." transitions to "I need a loop to go through this thing". The syntax is secondary as anyone who knows more than 1 programming language will tell you. Hell, I've build snippets into Sublime Text so I don't have to waste time with syntax either!

Some things just come from putting in the time and effort. No one gets their black belt after one class (otherwise I've been seriously doing it wrong for 10 years!)

sfink 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bleh. It was a good life story, but you could write out the conclusions either way, and the article is mostly successfully defeating a strawman. She makes a good point: if you define "understanding" narrowly, such as "whatever it takes to score well at Common Core", then it is important to realize that it is inadequate. Fluency is missing, and important.

But it's really just playing with definitions. I'll attack the contrapositive strawman: rote repetition and practice is useless if you don't first understand. You can memorize multiplication tables and the algorithm for multiplying multiple digit numbers, and yet make orders of magnitude mistakes without batting an eye. 40x25=100, right?

I would say that you need to understand the basics, then gain fluency, and from that gain an understanding of the depths and nuances. And I think her life story could back that description up just as well as it backs up hers.

ramblenode 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've found a lot of observations in this article to align with my own personal learning and teaching experiences. Memorization, even in analytical fields, is important because it allows us to chunk smaller bits of information together and skip evaluating every detail--it decreases the size of the "mental stack", if you will. Because recalling a fact from memory tends to be less demanding than applying rules to derive the fact, more cognitive reservoir remains for the novel parts of the larger problem.
apalmer 3 days ago 1 reply      
I agree with a lot of what she is saying, but two points:1) The basic solution outlined is 'do a lot of work'. Which is kind of a no brainer, you will learn if you do a lot of work. The tension is how do you get the most productive learning out of the time that the student has

2) The US only recently moved from memorization and rote learning to focus on understanding for a reason. The reason ultimately is the students werent excelling under that regime.

smartbit 2 days ago 0 replies      
Rule #5: Repeat to remember. http://www.brainrules.net/short-term-memory

Rule #6: Remember to repeat. http://www.brainrules.net/long-term-memory

From John Medina's book Brainrules. Highly recommended, translates scientific research into an accessible style. The videos are very humorous eg Whenever I feel like exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes :-D (1:40) http://brainrules.net/brain-rules-video

exmuslim 2 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely agree that memorization and repetition trump conceptual understanding when dealing with intermediate level of mathematics (I am taking a course on probability and integration and even though I have a good grasp of the basic concepts, if I don't keep up with the nitty gritty details and properties, I completely go astray when the teacher introduces a new concept built using those details.)

I.e. you need to master your tools (theorems, formulas etc) by repeating them so that you can use them to build something. Even if you knew what a hammer is good for (conceptual understanding) but didn't know how to hold it, it would still be pointless.

utefan001 3 days ago 0 replies      
I talk to a lot of young adults about their challenges in school. Many are interested in computer science but don't have a strong foundation to ace a C++ course. I wish I could convince them that failing the course is not as big a deal as it seems. Repeating the class is the right choice. Giving up is not the answer. Sometimes repetition means taking a class 3 times.


To help younger kids with repetitive learning, consider smartmadre.com (beta). Once configured, it will deactivate your child's access to time wasting websites. In order to get internet access back, the child has to spend a few minutes earning points on readtheory.org, quizlet.com, khanacademy.org or typingclub.com etc..


truth_sentinell 3 days ago 0 replies      
If this is true, then the spaced repitition learning technique is the best there's for learning.
perliosse 3 days ago 2 replies      
Important to note that repetitions are never exactly the same: new connections are found each time.

Also, choosing what to repeat seems important. Drilling in what is already understood may help you become a good teacher but how does one develop new and original ideas?

paublyrne 2 days ago 0 replies      
For someone who wasn't interested in Maths in school, but would like to learn the basics now (quadratic equations, trigonometry, etc), can any one recommend a good all round text?
kafkaesq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Number Twelve: What was the Treaty of Adrianople?

Number Six (looking puzzled, but answering automatically): September... 1829.

Number Twelve: Wrong. I said "What," not "When." You need some special coaching.


RangerScience 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Building blocks" sounds correct, but misleading.

It sounds like this is a lot of "perfect practice makes perfect" combined with "play begets understanding".

Memorization is a pre-requisite for perfect practice; and, if the core of what you're playing with isn't immediately at hand, how can you play with it? (If you have to look up every function every time, you'll have too many interruptions to grok much more).

I memorize in order to practive, and I repeatedly practice in order to understand.

Does that sound right?

hyperpallium 3 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of "mathematical maturity", that you can't understand mathematics on its own, but need much background. In this way, maths is more like an Arts than Science subject, and evaluated similarly.

And is perhaps a reason mathematics seems to simply and "unreasonably powerfully" explain the world - it's not simple.

adamnemecek 3 days ago 0 replies      
This mirrors my experience and this fundamentally proves that empiricists were right and rationalists were wrong. This also implies that your thinking isn't exactly logical.

Schools need to be adjusted for this, I think that currently schools are based on the rationalist point of view.

posterboy 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm starting to think that any head line starting with question words fall under the law that I forgot the name of. Even without a question mark it suggest that the author is still looking for an answer, except for idioms like how to.
anonymid 3 days ago 2 replies      
TLDR: This seems to be a strawman, at least in how it presents common core. However, I have to give a concession to the criticism that superficial understanding is often what common core implementations look like. Still, in my opinion fluency comes from understanding, not the other way around.

>The problem with focusing relentlessly on understanding is that math and science students can often grasp essentials of an important idea, but this understanding can quickly slip away without consolidation through practice and repetition. Worse, students often believe they understand something when, in fact, they dont. By championing the importance of understanding, teachers can inadvertently set their students up for failure as those students blunder in illusions of competence. As one (failing) engineering student recently told me: I just dont see how I could have done so poorly. I understood it when you taught it in class. My student may have thought hed understood it at the time, and perhaps he did, but hed never practiced using the concept to truly internalize it. He had not developed any kind of procedural fluency or ability to apply what he thought he understood.

Teaching for understanding means that teachers are responsible for ensuring that students are understanding. If a student is mistaken about understanding something, but the teacher doesn't probe their understanding to expose their misconceptions, that's not "teaching for understanding".

Common core encourages repetition through its focus on multiple representations. One might study linear growth as repeated adding, as a table, as a graph, and in applications to various real-life phenomena. Common core places emphasis on the student being fluent (as the author states, common core has fluency as one of its three major focal points) with all of these representations, and also in seeing the connections between them. This repeated exposure brings out misconceptions, builds understanding, and (over time) results in fluency.

I really don't see why the author has a bone to pick with common core since the sort of practice she describes would fit perfectly into a common core curriculum:

>I memorized the equation so I could carry it around with me in my head and play with it. If m and a were big numbers, what did that do to f when I pushed it through the equation? If f was big and a was small, what did that do to m? How did the units match on each side?

Common core (and contemporary education movements) are against "rote" or "procedural" learning. They would be against making up a song to memorize f=ma, and merely using that song to plug-and-chug through a small collection of problem types.

One recent example I saw (a colleague works on coaching teachers in common core) was a class of elementary students who could correctly multiply 4/7 * 5/9, but couldn't shade in 1/4 of a square. They memorized and rehearsed the procedure for multiplication, but never built understanding of what they were doing.

The unfortunate thing is that they are able to demonstrate fluency in this skill - and they will likely score well on standardized tests as a consequence of this fluency. This skill, however, is shallow - and will be easily forgotten without continued practice. Furthermore, when the time comes to learn proportional reasoning, or rates of growth, or any other thing that has to do with fractions, they will have nothing to build their understanding on.

I have to make a concession to the author, however. It is easy to get this impression of common core from the sidelines. Most teachers, departments, and schools were dumped into the core (which is merely a set of standards) without much support or training. Implementing the core requires a major shift in how one approaches teaching, and whether it is due to a lack of understanding, a lack of will, or most likely - a lack of resources, many classrooms are merely cargo-culting the sorts of things that common core demands.

My favorite introductory book to the subject is https://amzn.com/0325052875 happy to chat!

edtechdev 3 days ago 0 replies      
The title is completely false and not even the title of the essay.

But see the author's Learning How to Learn MOOC.

dredmorbius 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reading this, I'm finding a few elements matching my own learning process critically missing.

Yes. Memorisation and repetition are useful. But of and by themselves, they are not enough, at least not for a deep understanding. That Ms. Oakley is a linguist makes the omission particularly glaring to me: it's finding a systemic understanding, that is, understanding the knowledge's grammar.

I've picked up a few skills over my life. Some music (poorly). A little bit of foreign language -- not much, but enough in a couple to get by as a tourist. Sport. A great deal of spatial knowledge. Some physics and economics, at uni. Programming and systems administration, some data management and analysis. More recently, synthesising numerous elements looking at questions of sustainability, collapse, or various modes of splitting the difference.

Some knowledge is almost mechanical. Music, sport, spelling, multiplication tables. X comes in, Y goes out. But simple repetition isn't fully sufficient -- this is what a good coach, in maths, music, or sport, offers. They know what you should be doing, see what you are doing, and then offer the cues necessary to get you to where you ought to be. The cues might themselves not make much sense overtly, but are the adjustment necessary to reach the desired result.

Practice without that intervention, and focusing on the right cues, only drills in the bad practices. And unlearning non-useful patterns is exceptionally difficult.

I'm tempted to say that easy learners are all alike. At the very least, none of them encounter the limits or barriers to learning (though it's possible each has some particular fast track to results). It's when learning comes hard that it's crucial to identify where and what the fault is, and to either correct it or bypass it.

In my current studies -- economics, political theory, ecology, energy, systems, and more -- what I'm finding most useful is to cover a great deal of ground, much of which is essentially circling a central problem sphere, but giving views on it from different directions. I'm quite literally finding myself re-acquainting myself with concepts, lessons, materials, and more, from the past 40+ years, and both dis-integrating and re-integrating them. I've described it as "refactoring my worldview" (mentioned on HN in a comment recently, also at https://dredmorbius.reddit.com), more to describe what the experience is like.

But the crucial element is not simply to repeatedly encounter facts until they're memorised, it is to create the structure into which they naturally fall. Or at least that's what I've found.

Some "systems" are less systemic than others. Virtually all have at least some path dependency, so history, law, politics, and literature will, in aggregate, at least follow some sort of path of low energy, if not an entirely logical route. In maths, logic, physics, chemistry, and electical engineering, the structure is more overt.

Again: Oakley approaches this concept, but never quite gets there. I found that disappointing.

Municipal ISP forced to shut off fiber-to-the-home Internet after court ruling arstechnica.com
326 points by johnhenry  2 days ago   160 comments top 19
grahamburger 2 days ago 6 replies      
I've spent most of my career (15+ years now) building and maintaining private regional ISPs that compete with big TelCos, with considerable success. It's surprisingly feasible to start an ISP in your garage with a few thousand dollars and grow it to a few hundred customers just by providing decent customer service and a working product. If you've ever been curious about what it takes to get started with something like that I'm happy to answer questions - here or email in my profile.
openasocket 2 days ago 2 replies      
It should be noted that it's not like this ISP is shutting down, it's just being barred from serving customers outside its county. This action shuts off service for about 200 people, but the ISP will continue to serve over 7,000. Still pretty bad, but not as bad as the headline makes it seem.
lucaspiller 1 day ago 3 replies      
> There are laws in about 20 states that restrict municipal broadband, benefiting private ISPs that often donate heavily to state legislators.

I'm not that clear on how US politics and 'lobbying' works, but why don't you just call it what it is - a bribe? In this case 200 families will be back to slow speeds and poor service ISP (who no doubt will be putting their prices up) just because said ISP has enough spare cash to bribe the politicians. How is that fair?

jrowley 2 days ago 2 replies      
This seems like a fairly clean cut case of corruption. It's amazing how external money can drive legislation and political action. Why would these politicians ever try to block this on their own accord? Do they really fear a government monopoly that much? Or maybe they just love small government (with the exception of the military/military contractors, which need to be bigger of course).
bcheung 2 days ago 2 replies      
One thing to point out that I think people are missing is that the ruling was that a government could not operate a business in a different jurisdiction.

It has nothing to do with free market or net neutrality concerns.

xupybd 2 days ago 5 replies      
How is lobbying still legal in the USA? Isn't it clear as day corruption, where you pay for influence over the government? I thought Americans valued freedom?
johnhenry 2 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately, the idea of government assisted monopolies rarely makes it into the net neutrality debate. :.
michaelbuddy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Followed by a more expensive subpar service. I typically lean towards getting governmetn out of most business, but these muni ISPs have always struck me as more grassroots democratic very american bootstrap sort of thing and commercial ISPs who fail to serve their customers exhibiting very anti-american behavior.
dpark 2 days ago 2 replies      
What stops Pinetops from forming a municipal broadband corp that simply subcontracts everything to Greenlight?
ams6110 2 days ago 3 replies      
I call BS on this:

The Vick Family Farms predicament was described in a recent New York Times article. The business has used Greenlight's faster Internet to support a high-tech packing plant that automatically sorts sweet potatoes by size and quality, with each spud tagged with its own bar code. Were very worried because there is no way we could run this equipment on the Internet service we used to have, and we cant imagine the loss well have to the business, farm sales head Charlotte Vick said.

Potato-sorting and tagging does not require internet access.

beached_whale 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if these municipal broadband networks can be sold to a new not for profit that does the same function
AnsemWise 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have nothing to add other than my voice of agreement about the clear corruption of these laws.

What is the benefit, to the people of North Carolina, of restricting municipal ISP growth?What rights are being protected by these laws?I am disgusted by the clear disregard of the people of NC's interests, but also by the lack of action by the people themselves.

DasIch 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if the necessary prerequisites for a free market will ever become common knowledge. This approach of just not regulating markets in the hope that a free market magically appears seems insane to me. It is like hitting a screw with a hammer and hoping the screw turns into a nail before the hammer connects. It never happens and you'll always get a huge fucking mess everyone somehow is surprised about.

Health care is the best example. The only thing unexpected and worrisome about it is that the executives at pharma companies have just now realized that they can increase prices this way. Doesn't exactly speak well for their knowledge of economics.

plandis 2 days ago 1 reply      
This seems almost by definition of government working for corporations over its citizens. What a sad day.
Animats 1 day ago 0 replies      
This shutdown increases the "economic liberty" index slightly.[1]

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12518783

vpeters25 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't how how the actual law is written but maybe the Muni could just supply dark fiber and allow private ISPs to provide the actual broadband service.
lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 0 replies      
"""There are laws in about 20 states that restrict municipal broadband, benefiting private ISPs that often donate heavily to state legislators."""

Aha! And all became clear.

duncan_bayne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Good. The fewer coercively funded projects like these the better.

To describe this as "community" broadband as some commentators do is really propaganda. Consider how absurd it'd sound if someone spoke of a "community Air Force".

20yrs_no_equity 2 days ago 3 replies      
So long as there are levers of control, people will attempt to exploit them. The government at every level, should have no power to prohibit entities, whether government or not, from providing internet service.

Freedom of transaction is a basic human right (whether the Bill of Rights talks about it or not, read the Preamble to the Bill of Rights and you'll see the Bill of Rights doesn't create rights, according to the Bill of Rights, it creates limitations on government from violating those rights.)

Even if you disagree with the above, the First Amendment is unquestionably part of the constitution and thus this is a violation of freedom of speech (internet is speech.)

Dear Al-Jazeera: Why Steal Our Code? scrollytelling.io
366 points by tilsammans  15 hours ago   147 comments top 31
HillRat 14 hours ago 3 replies      
This ... is not the best way to take advantage of what is basically a sales lead. After all, Scrollytelling is a small company with only a handful of clients, of whom De Volkskrant appears to the most important, so why barge in with DMCA takedowns and angry allegations before you have to?

This would have been a great opportunity to work through Scrollytelling's existing relationships with their clients (and their clients' reporters) to get in front of AJ and make a case for their platform (and only go for the lawyers if talks broke down). Instead they've now ensured that, regardless of anything else, at least one reporter is never going to use their platform again and is going to be one hell of a net detractor. For a small company, garnering a reputation as being troublesome loose cannons isn't a good way to grow market share.

gulbanana 14 hours ago 8 replies      
https://mobile.twitter.com/Hiddemhigh/status/769636034749558...it appears the journalist works for both de volkskrant and al-jazeera. scrollytelling is mad that they haven't got paid twice.
ricardobeat 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like a) journalists using their platform don't really understand what they are paying for [1]: a license to use the story platform, when they expect to use it as a content creation tool and fully own the result. And b) either Al-Jazeera has copied them before [2] or there is some mutual stealing going on...

[1] https://mobile.twitter.com/Hiddemhigh/status/777509638002634...

[2] http://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2015/BanishedNepal/

chillydawg 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I'd start serving hilarious, huge pictures of dicks and boobs on the dodgy asset links or injecting js that does silly (but not malicious) things to browsers.
dewey 15 hours ago 5 replies      
"We knew there must be some mistake, so we quickly sent you a DMCA takedown requests and waited patiently."

That does not seem like the best way to start a business relationship...

user5994461 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Lesson #1 - It will be hilarious when they'll discover that Al-Jazeera is actually paying a license to them. Just under a different name. (Yes, big international companies have many legal names and subsidiaries and buying departments).

Lesson #2 - Seriously. Do NOT let 20 yo bro-grammers handle the business and marketing.

Noone could care less about your code + The DMCA notice is plain silly. This is exactly how you SHOULD NOT handle business leads and customers.

hiou 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I almost cared until I read the snarky, passive aggressive tone this article took along with the fact that it intentionally attempts to frame the entire situation differently from how it actually happened. This is not randomly scraping some content and then re-publishing it. It's a contract dispute about whether the original publisher had rights to redistribute it. What a bunch of brats. Grown up. Yuck
jstanley 15 hours ago 1 reply      
> We knew there must be some mistake, so we quickly sent you a DMCA takedown requests

Is that really the most appropriate way to start?

mlinksva 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Al-Jazeera: 1) instruct your developers to only use open source code so as to avoid situations like this 2) slideshows are terrible, lots of work for viewer to get through. text or video work great, stick to them, don't use a format only suited for demo-ing the limited capabilities of cd-roms circa 25 years ago.
hcho3 12 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm really shocked how many people here are blaming the victim here...
fivesigma 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Someone should make a blacklist with websites that hijack scrolling. Or an /etc/hosts.
csomar 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Take down the AJ flag with swords. Russians will see it as someone is acknowledging that Qatar is supporting ISIS. I'm not kidding.
awinder 13 hours ago 1 reply      
What's up with the Al Jazeera logo with swords underneath it? Might be misunderstanding but I thought misappropriating branding logos was usually something that was a touchy subject (i.e., no license to modify the brand logo).
t_fatus 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Whoa ... I'm sure you've thought about changing the urls of your assets and update you code before publishing it again, then why haven't you done this ?
webwanderings 12 hours ago 0 replies      
How does one scroll on a laptop without the browser's scroll bar on the right? What's the point of the "software" if you take away the base feature of a browser?
leke 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to hear the AJ response to this. I hope they are allowed to make it public.
baybal2 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Good luck enforcing an dmca on a website code vs a foreign company. The court history of such cases is rather funny. From cases thrown out of the court, to unenforceable defaults
emptystacks 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It might be wise to just hire an attorney and file a copyright infringement claim. You have a pretty solid case.
microcolonel 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Al-Jazeera is owned by the government of Qatar, the only country in the world with a major slavery problem in 2016; I don't think plagiarism is what you should be worried about.
calimac 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Scumb bags
qz_ 15 hours ago 2 replies      
They also translated the whole article from De Volkskrant and used the exact same images. So, plagiarism and theft, nice.
zeckalpha 14 hours ago 1 reply      
What's with the flag?
nxzero 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Something feels off about this whole post, but can't put my finger on it.

For example, appears the company makes money selling their code to online newspapers, but when a major media company uses their code the response is to tell them to stop doing it.

I would be curious to see the take down notice that was sent literally said.

witty_username 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This is slightly off-topic, but why does this website hijack the middle-click button? It's pretty annoying.
puppetmaster3 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Each Andorid app is obfuscated by ProGurd.

If I'm in the jury and I can easily cut/paste - than that is on you. Obfuscation has to get better in HTML5. There are now some paid tools that obfuscate CSS and HTML5 variables, not just Base64, and inject that it can run on only one domain.

Did they do any of that?

homoSapiens 15 hours ago 0 replies      
sneak 15 hours ago 2 replies      
You still have your code, so your accusations of theft don't really hold up.
batrat 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice storytelling. (couldn't stop it)
lumberjack 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Copying front-end code is hardly "stealing".

At best you can call them out for not properly attributing merit where merit is due.

OJFord 15 hours ago 2 replies      

 > What Happened to Journalistic Integrity?
Did Al-Jazeera ever have any?

FullMtlAlcoholc 14 hours ago 4 replies      
EDIT: I understand the comparison to books and other creative works. However, many writers don't outright copy someone else's work word for word, they appropriate the tone, style, setting, etc.

The point I was trying to make is that front-end devs are like the creators of Stranger Things. We may not outright copy code character for character on the front-end, but we sure do give a lot of nods to the greatest hits. And the web is a better place for it

Is your SSH password revealed when you attempt to connect to the wrong server? stackexchange.com
317 points by based2  2 days ago   160 comments top 20
alexk 2 days ago 7 replies      
I highly recommend to move off password-based SSH at all in favor of SSH keys or (even better, certificates).

Here are some projects to help you roll out new infrastructure without SSH passwords:

https://github.com/gravitational/teleport ( I work on this one with our team) and https://github.com/Netflix/bless (heard great things about it, especially if you are using AWS)

russell_h 2 days ago 3 replies      
SSH is like a candy store for advanced attackers.

Password auth discloses your password to the server. Clearly this is unfortunate if you connect to the wrong server, but it also means that a compromised server can intercept the passwords of anyone logging in.

The same extends to anyone using password auth with LDAP. In practice this means that if an organization uses LDAP with passwords for SSH authentication, the ability to execute arbitrary code on one server (combined with a routine privilege escalation) implies complete access to any infrastructure accessible with the same password. Most MFA schemes simply force the attacker to act quickly to utilize an intercepted token on a higher value target. Probably this means trying to find a copy of the private key that the devops team is using to run Ansible without having to MFA to every single server.

For small scale use private keys are a simple way to combat this, but at scale they're difficult to manage, and tend to result in high value static credentials lying around on laptops.

A lot of companies are combatting this using SSH certificates. Certificates can be short-lived (as low as minutes given the right tooling), and the CA that issues them can be heavily audited and linked to an existing identity system.

Netflix has open-sourced BLESS: https://github.com/Netflix/bless

Lyft has adapted BLESS for use without a bastion, start at slide 28: http://www.slideshare.net/aspyker/netflix-open-source-meetup...

Facebook has their own certificate scheme: https://code.facebook.com/posts/365787980419535/scalable-and...

Google has something they don't talk about that seems to be along the same lines.

Quick plug:

At ScaleFT we're building a commercial solution that uses very short lived certificates: https://www.scaleft.com/

We're hiring if anyone is interested, my email is in my profile.

rsync 1 day ago 3 replies      
What about the password you have entered before you press "enter" ?

I think that's a more interesting question ... presumably most SSH users know not to connect when the server keys mismatch and you get the BIG NASTY WARNING.

However, let's say you connect properly to a host you typically use, but through inattention or confusion you start to enter a password for some other SSH host ... and then hit ctrl-C.

I think I have understood that the remote SSH server actually receives the keystrokes character by character, but does it decrypt that all at once after you hit enter, or is it decrypting the characters one by one ?

dotBen 2 days ago 1 reply      
While this question is aimed at SSH, be careful about a similar vector happening on more standard http username/email and password logins at any website.

Most people use the same username or email address for all sites. It's pretty common to attempt to log in with the wrong password for that site, but one that is valid for other sites with the same credentials. While that password attempt shouldn't be logged, there's no guaranteeing it isn't - perhaps even via rouge admin and unbeknownst to the rest of the company.

The biggest threat here is email addresses as usernames, and attempting to login with the password that's actually used for the email account. Very easy to automate any incorrect (or correct) passwords against the original email account.

watermoose 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the answers mentioned:https://livesshattack.net/

On which there are leaderboards for password attempts:https://livesshattack.net/leaderboards

A password that was tried 11633 times, almost as much as 11684 times that 'password' was tried is 'wubao'.

That led me here:https://ewedaa.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/what-the-heck-is-wub...

which indicated that this is one of the two first passwords used by sshPsycho when attempting a brute force attack.

According to the poster these two passwords are tried often:

> wubao = , means something wrongly reported

> jiamima = , can mean add password or encryption code

Discussion about the use of kippo to log ssh login attempts:http://www.cubieforums.com/index.php?topic=3739.0

Kippo is available here:https://github.com/desaster/kippo

Hondor 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've often wondered if this is a vulnerability in all kinds of services. Try to log in to some website with the wrong password and you're probably giving them your Facebook password by accident.
mindslight 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yes. To fix this generally, we'd have to stop hashing passwords for storage so we could use a ZK proof to verify.

There is a hacky middleground whereby a ssh client could hash what you think is your password with the server's identity to derive your actual password. But there's the issue of coming up with a canonical identity for a server, and if we merely trust the server to provide it then the scheme fails to a malicious one. Nevermind it would require special setup on the server, and the utility of password auth is for before you've setup public key auth.

alienth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thankfully, if someone is MITM'ing you, or has acquired the IP of your host, then the SSH fingerprint check against your known_hosts will prevent them from snagging your password in this manner. (provided the host's private key hasn't also been stolen)

That is, as long as you don't ignore the "IT IS POSSIBLE THAT SOMEONE IS DOING SOMETHING NASTY!" message.

bluedino 2 days ago 3 replies      
What about if you sign into one with key based authentication? Does that server now know your key?
xurukefi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why isn't the password hashed before it is sent to the server? Is it because the client cannot know how the passwords are hashed on the server side? If so, couldn't the password hashing method be sent to the client?
acchow 2 days ago 4 replies      
This seems like an odd vulnerability. I use SSH keys instead, but I always imagined that if I used a password instead then my password would be used (on both the server and the client) to help derive private keys. If I have the wrong password, the encrypted messages we send to each other would just be garbled nonsense.
andersonmvd 1 day ago 1 reply      
Really surprised that a simple and perhaps intuitive question got 131 points. You can just reframe it to "if I send my password to the wrong website, will it be able to read it?" and answer is still yes. Maybe it's 'of course'.
nullc 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, because for some inexplicable reason almost no one has adopted zero-knowledge password agreement protocols (like SRP).
qwertyuiop924 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder of we can get SSH to bcrypt/scrypt the password clientside.

Of course, if you've got a bunch of computers, you can just configure SSH to use Kerberos auth. The capability is there, IIRC, and not through PAM either.

aaron695 1 day ago 2 replies      
Correct answer is no, absolutly not.

Except a small percentage of servers that are malicious.

Security people are so pie in the sky sometimes.

bengalister 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a challenge response authentication scheme. The authentication method can be enforced on the client but not sure if you can exclude completely password based authentication and enforce certifcate or challenge response authentication, servers need to be configured accordingly.
dendory 2 days ago 0 replies      
Private key stored in a passworded file on an encrypted disk, plus a key fob as second factor.

Pretty hard to get better security.

linsomniac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Of course not! Because you have password authentication disabled and never type your login password in to SSH, right? You use ssh keys and ssh-agent, right? :-)
stuxnet79 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is frightening that I never realized this up until now. I always thought that this information was not exposed during the authentication process. But I can't see how it can be an issue unless you are intentionally trying to connect to a place that you are not supposed to ...
h4nkoslo 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's possible to set up multi-factor auth in SSH - I use both SSH keyfile & password to log into my home server.
A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art (2015) dinofarmgames.com
351 points by bpierre  3 days ago   113 comments top 26
Keyframe 3 days ago 11 replies      
I draw, I paint (more than draw), I animate. Daily. So, I have a bit of a different perspective on this. Pixel art is one of the hardest disciplines I've tried. It's ridiculous. I wouldn't do it again. I only spent with it a bit to see what it takes, and it takes A LOT. If it's not outstanding, it won't get noticed as well. So, it's really tough on psyche. Somewhat like animation.

There's another thing I want to mention. I have a broadcast-quality CRT with consoles of ye olde hooked up, and pixels you see on sprites, especially on the edges, aren't there on CRTs. Magical scanline blends them together and looking at the pixel art on CRT is different than on anything else. Almost like they are anti-aliased, but they're not (smudged). I think that's a key component today we are missing from enjoying pixel art. When it was dominant in game industry, you couldn't see actual pixels. Today, they are fetishised.

Adverblessly 3 days ago 4 replies      
I like pixel art, for many of the reasons mentioned in the article. In fact, for 2d games it is my favorite style.

With that said, I think the example art the article provides for their game is not very good. Specifically I think there's far too much dithering going on, making it look like it was originally drawn in 32-bit color but then had the number of colors reduced by the pixel editing software (as opposed to the beauty of manually placed pixels). This is especially glaring in the UI elements, and is not the only fault in my opinion.

I realize different people have different preferences, and I realize that pixel art is experiencing a surge in unpopularity, but I can't help but think they'd have better luck if their pixel art was better...

billyjobob 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think his problem is that he is stuck in the uncanny valley of 90s 16 bit pixel art, half way between the classic 8 bit style and modern photorealistic style. If you release a game in current_year with 320x200 resolution or lower and 16 colors I think it's obvious you were aiming for that aesthetic. If you go 640x480 256 or more colors then people can mistake that for an attempt at photorealism that just was badly implemented.
projektir 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm having trouble being convinced that this isn't more subjective than the author implies. I never liked how SFIV looked, either, but not because it works or doesn't work with the medium, I just think it looks awful.

It may be problematic if one has to do things that are not really compatible with the medium, such as trying to put high poly models on a low-poly screen, but a lot of games cannot really achieve the right feel by working with the medium. One of the issues I have with a lot of retro-style games is that they're almost automatically limited into certain genres and feels.

Diablo using properly pixelated art just wouldn't be Diablo anymore, and for all the muddy, I love how it looks to this day. I always liked the 2.5D style, really. But for me, this is subjective either way.

parenthephobia 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the problem here is that there's a distinction between "pixel art" and "art created observing obsolete technical limitations". Additionally, just because a piece of art is technically impressive, doesn't mean people should find it artistically impressive.

When we only had 16 colours, it was harder to make great-looking art, but that difficulty didn't make the art look better. The essence of pixel art is that (it seems that) every pixel is placed with care. An image which uses 45 colours but looks like a dithered version of a full-colour image does not look like every pixel is placed with care. Quite the opposite: it looks like the image you're looking at isn't even the image the artist wanted you to see.

Hyper Light Drifter has great "pixel art", but couldn't have been achieved on a 16-bit display (without either noticeable banding or dithering). But, the way it uses colour is clearly inspired by great 4-bit artistry. Although there are many more than 16 colors, neighbouring hues are contrasting, blending is used to indicate glows or shadows, and blurring is used to indicate depth.

scandox 3 days ago 1 reply      
> what I intended doesnt matter at all

I think it is very sad to hear any artist saying this. I think he's being noble and he certainly has rationalized the situation very convincingly ("embracing the medium").

It's a very delicate balance. On the one hand, yes you do not deserve an audience. All too often contempt for the audience is merely the sign of a lazy artist. On the other hand sometimes you must bite the hand that feeds - and keep biting. The best I know have that mixture: they desire glory and at the same time they have a tyrannical disregard for what others think.

Ultimately, he's courting the high opinion of people whose opinions he doesn't respect, because they are influential.

mikejmoffitt 2 days ago 0 replies      
High-res pixel art is tough - to create, and sometimes to enjoy. When the goal of pixel art is to create something interesting when imposing resolution constraints, the significance of a single pixel is reduced when working with such a high resolution.

Further, if the viewer's display is _close_ to the art's native resolution, but not at least one integer multiple higher, the art is going to be smeared as no scaling technique will deal with such a small scaling transition well.

With that in mind, Auro looks like it'd have trouble looking good on any of the devices it was intended for, and indeed looking more like aliasing ("pixellation") to the average user. The author acknowledges this in the article: "Some devices blur Auro. Some devices stretch it. Some devices letterbox it. No matter how hard I worked to make the art in Auro as good as I could, theres no way a given person should be expected to see past all those roadblocks."

osi 3 days ago 1 reply      
carsongross 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations."

--Orson Welles

int_19h 3 days ago 0 replies      
IMO, a lot of people who say they like pixel art, don't actually want the pixellation or the low color count. What they want is the overall drawing style that it produces, with prominent contours and bright but soft colors. This all is also achievable with ultra-high resolutions and millions of colors - it just doesn't happen "automatically".
musesum 3 days ago 1 reply      
I used to hand anti-alias pixel fonts. There was a tool called Grasp that our shop used to create animated ads back in the early 90's. It only supported two color pixel fonts.

Wrote a tool to take a single font sheet bitmap and parse out each letter. Each letter had 4 shades of grey. So, would create 4 fonts that would render in 4 passes.

To make a master bitmap, we'd scan a font sheet into a PCX file hand it over to an artist with the instructions: "make it smooth". Hours upon hours of: zoom-in-click-click-click-zoom-out-review-repeat. Poor artist.

I wonder what kind of lament a vector artist will have, decades from now. And what will take its place.

[edit] vector

teekert 3 days ago 1 reply      
If you like such games, play Radiant [0] I love that game, bought it years ago, keep returning to it. It's pixelated but it couldn't be more beautiful.

[0] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.hexage.rad...

wccrawford 3 days ago 1 reply      
>It takes a lot effort to explain how this:>has much better art than this:

... Shitty dither. That didn't take long. Even in Bubsy, the things that weren't dithered weren't nearly as bad as the ones that were.

It has other problems, too, but they would become more apparent if the artist had refused to dither. Then they'd be a lot easier to talk about, such as the horrible shapes for everything except bubsy himself.

The problem with that background in bubsy wasn't the "pixel art", it was the art. I'm betting that artist couldn't draw well in any medium.

runeb 3 days ago 1 reply      
Have not read the article yet, but just wanted to say I'm really excited about Thimbleweed Park, the new adventure game from Ron Gilbert (maker of Manic Mansion and Monkey Island, among others). Pixel art and all.


galfarragem 3 days ago 0 replies      
'Stop looking for happiness in the same place where you lost it.'
reedlaw 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with pixel art games is they tend to emphasize style over content. Game designers should strive to make the best possible game and allow a style to emerge from that, not the other way around.
greggman 3 days ago 0 replies      
lots of people (myself included) like pixel art. Hey, I'm going to this (http://pixelartpark.com/)

I think one issue is that most people don't appreciate or understand the limits. This comes up in the demoscene. The demoscene makes realtime demos. The fact that they are realtime (or 4k or 1k or 256b) makes them interesting to people who understand the limits. But to most people outside the scene they're just mediocre effects because they aren't aware of the limits and instead are used to Star Wars: the Force Awakens effects or Pixar or whatever.

The same is true for pixel art. Many people like pixel art because of nostalgia. Others like it for the creativity within limits. But, probably most people, aren't aware of the limits so to them it's just not latest AAA game level of art.

It kinda sucks but there's lots of things the masses don't like/don't get. Fortunately there seem to be enough who do like these types of things.

sgarman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this is simply what happens when you mix art and creating a commodity. It's Britney Spears vs (your favorite artist). They are both art of course but one targets a much larger demographic then the other. Seems like our author realizes he has more passion for creating a popular and understandable game then he does for art.
fzeroracer 3 days ago 0 replies      
It reads like the artist was looking for an excuse to stop drawing pixel art rather than any sort of further introspection as to why Auro might be encountering issues. It's utterly ridiculous that he thinks that the retro-game market is somehow splintering on the issue of making the pixels go away as increasingly sprite filters are being viewed in a negative light versus getting the experience as it actually was at the time.

The whole 'But customers want HD!' era has long since ended, with many of the most popular hits on PC games being pixel-based. The issue was never fully the artwork, but the cutthroat nature of the mobile market.

That said, the artwork of Auro reeks of faux-retroism and unlike Shovel Knight which embraced it, it seems like they were only really willing to go half-way.

egypturnash 3 days ago 0 replies      
IIRC this was the second time Reynolds has announced he was pretty much Done with pixel art. I seem to remember a post like this around the time they finished 100 Trials. And then they did Auro, with everything obsessively pixelled.

Looks like it stuck this time; http://www.dinofarmgames.com/forum/index.php?threads/battle-... is a thread on Dino Farms' forums with some bits from a game they're working on. Personally I'm not sure the comic booky ink outline style is working for him yet but hey, he's learning an entire new way of working, possibly an entirely new art toolchain, and that takes time.

zeveb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really like the look of good, B&W pixel art. I think that games like Dark Castle and interfaces like HyperCard really benefited from it.

Maybe I'm just old-fashioned though

sly010 3 days ago 0 replies      
I am not a gamer, but when I play I go with indie games.I really enjoyed the visuals of "The Last Door" and "Fez" and "Superbrothers - Sword & Sworcery" much more so than any 3d game.

The sad truth is 3D games are now cheaper to produce and work at arbitrary resolution,so the big studios will just keep popping them out because it's just so easy.

jbb555 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting article but very subjective. I don't really agree with his idea of what is "better".
bobsgame 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love this article. Having invested myself into making a large pixel art game, it really inspires and resonates with me.
anc84 3 days ago 0 replies      
Devid2014 3 days ago 3 replies      
Pixel art is really treble, I just hurt looking at it in some cases.

So some people likes pixels and call it art and use such word combinations like HD fetishism.

But I would say Pixels fetishism and HD Art.Of course badly made HD content can be bad too.

P.S.: This is my purely subjective and personal taste. Other will disagree with this because they have other taste.

Why the Apple II ProDOS 2.4 Release Is the OS News of the Year textfiles.com
294 points by bootload  3 days ago   117 comments top 12
SwellJoe 2 days ago 5 replies      
I have so much admiration for the people who keep old platforms alive. I tinker with a Commodore 64 (a real one) now and then, and I'm just blown away by the community that still exists around it. People still write new software, build new hardware (I have a MSSIAH synth/MIDI interface cartridge and it's a blast to play with), make new demos and intros, discover new graphics modes and sound techniques, etc. The landscape is pretty well mapped out, but people still manage to find new ways to look at it every now and then.

I've always wanted an Apple IIgs, because it had a built-in FM synth that was really powerful for the time (I have a fascination with electronic music and equipment from that era, which is why I have the C64 and MSSIAH, as well as a Gameboy with LSDJ). Maybe now is a good time to start looking around for one.

This is a fantastic story...I want to play with it, just because.

slyrus 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. This brings back memories of my first job at Apple working on the IIe emulation board for the Mac LC.
ultramancool 3 days ago 3 replies      
Sounds similar to the China Dos Union MS-DOS "7.1" which used the DOS from Windows 98 and included FAT32 support, long file names and a CD-based installer.


endgame 3 days ago 2 replies      
Old apple stuff isn't my thing but I applaud any efforts to preserve our history. Jason makes a number of good points about the sorry state of modern OSes in his article, and it's worth a read for that alone.
StillBored 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm, Still looks like it has the 32M (IIRC) partition limit. There are GSOS drivers to work around this, but not for generic 8-bit prodos (AFAIK).

Frankly, the II line was always slow moving (the IIE was sold commercially longer than any other computer without any significant upgrades). Which is why was such a great learning computer, there were only a couple models, very well documented, and hacked on to uncover every tiny little trick/edge case. Now days, I look at 6502 assembly and wonder how I managed to get anything done with such a restrictive stack/etc.

micro_softy 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's an interesting retweet from ProDOS's author last month.

 @JBrooksBSI [59]Aug 17 Was MS-DOS copied from CP/M? [60]embedded.com/electronics-bl... 60. https://t.co/mOR5mLBHwC

partycoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another heroic effort was the posthumous release of Star Fox II.A community took the Japanese alpha of Star Fox II, patched all the bugs, made it fully playable, and translated it into English. I finished it and I can tell you it was better than Star Fox 64.
exlurker 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this kind of stuff! Related is the reverse engineered GEOS (C64) available at github: https://github.com/mist64/geos

The maintainers are gearing up to support more platforms, CPUs, repair and extend!

watermoose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you John Brooks!! You are the best!!

Warning: this is going to get mushy...

While my first computer was the TRS-80 COCO I, I spent more time coding on my second computer, the Apple IIe, coming home each afternoon after school to just program and play games constantly. I owe my current occupation to that, and my family and friends that benefit from my salary I all owe to those two computers.

I love the Apple II line along with the TRS-80 COCO line and my heart is full that there are those that continue to develop for them.

cpeterso 2 days ago 1 reply      
So how does one fix bugs in ProDOS 2.0.3? I assume John Brooks does not have the ProDOS source code. Is he patching the old binaries?
stinos 2 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting read, but no mention at all of what this thing is, or will be, used for. Anyone?
bronson 2 days ago 3 replies      
FTA, on why this is important:

Next is that this is an operating system upgrade free of commercial and marketing constraints and drives. Compared with, say, an iOS upgrade that trumpets the addition of a search function or blares out a proud announcement that they broke maps because Google kissed another boy at recess. Or Windows 10, the 1968 Democratic Convention Riot of Operating Systems, which was designed from the ground up to be compatible with a variety of mobile/tablet products that are on the way out, and which were shoved down the throats of current users with a cajoling, insulting methodology with misleading opt-out routes and freakier and freakier fake-countdowns.

So true. :/

Bash 4.4 released gnu.org
232 points by okket  2 days ago   79 comments top 17
olau 2 days ago 3 replies      
A little anecdote: there was a case of O(N^2) in readline with long lines. Essentially a bug in the redisplay logic. It affected Bash, mysql/psql, Python, etc.

After having suffered from this for some years, last year that annoyed me enough to start digging into readline to figure out what was causing it. In the end, that prompted Chet Ramey to come up with a fix which looks like it is now being released!

I promised myself that when this one was fixed, I'd look into why most readline shells can go nuts when you resize them - somehow they don't always discover that the line width has changed.

p4bl0 2 days ago 5 replies      
I really like this one:

 jj. New prompt string: PS0. Expanded and displayed by interactive shells after reading a complete command but before executing it.
I currently use my PS1 for a lot of dirty things that would have their place in such a PS0 :).

Now, I just have to wait until Bash 4.4 lands in Debian

ramblenode 2 days ago 4 replies      
One Readline feature I have been looking forward to:

> c. The editing mode indicators can now be strings and are user-settable (new `emacs-mode-string', `vi-cmd-mode-string' and `vi-ins-mode-string' variables). Mode strings can contain invisible character sequences. Setting mode strings to null strings restores the defaults.

So now I can get the prompt to change color depending on the mode!

_jomo 2 days ago 0 replies      
_jomo 2 days ago 1 reply      
> ll. Posix-mode shells now allow double quotes to quote the history expansion character.

Yikes, finally you can use `echo "Hello World!"`

atdt 2 days ago 2 replies      
> The shell now allows `time ; othercommand' to time null commands.

Uh, what? Could someone explain this one, please?

tambourine_man 2 days ago 3 replies      
OS X has been stuck in 3.2.57 for years due to licensing.

I like being able to SSH into a fresh Linux box and feel at home, but at some point, they'll be so different that I might as well permanently switch to Zsh.

I keep hoping for Apple to adopt Fish, last I heard the guy works there, and it's totally Apple's thing to have its own shell. It would be fun at least.

agentgt 2 days ago 2 replies      

 o. There is a new address@hidden family of operators to transform the value of `parameter'.
Can anyone show an example of that? I'm not sure I understand that feature.

erelde 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool stuff.Weird numbering though.
0xmohit 2 days ago 1 reply      
I was led to think that Chet's bash page [0] might contain details about the 4.4 release. Unfortunately, not.

(Chet Ramey [1] is the primary maintainer of GNU bash.)

[0] https://tiswww.case.edu/php/chet/bash/bashtop.html

[1] https://tiswww.case.edu/php/chet/

euphoria83 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the most important open-source projects in my view. Great work!
smcdow 2 days ago 0 replies      
Still waiting on a formal way to denote namespaces in bash
nanis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Really, posting a link to `git.savannah.gnu.org/cgit/` was probably not a nice thing.
pgl 2 days ago 0 replies      
abysmallyideal 2 days ago 1 reply      
i4k 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Bash now checks $INSIDE_EMACS as well as $EMACS > when deciding whether or> not bash is being run in a GNU Emacs shell window.


Next release it will check the variables $INSIDE_ACME, $INSIDE_SUBLIME and $INSIDE_NOTEPADPLUSPLUS

EU Court: Open WiFi Operator Not Liable for Pirate Users torrentfreak.com
181 points by chewymouse  2 days ago   24 comments top 2
zaroth 2 days ago 5 replies      
So you can offer free internet access at your business in order to attract customers (e.g. Starbucks or McDonalds);

 The Court holds, first of all, that making a Wi-Fi network available to the general public free of charge in order to draw the attention of potential customers to the goods and services of a shop constitutes an information society service under the directive on [electronic commerce], the decision reads.
However copyright holders can still obtain an injunction forcing the provider to institute some measure of access control which must collect the identities of end-users to provide a deterrent. TFA does not mention any requirements on retention or access to this tracking data.

 "The Court nevertheless underlines that, in order to ensure that deterrent effect, it is necessary to require users to reveal their identity to be prevented from acting anonymously before obtaining the required password, the ruling adds.
So in essence they want to treat open WiFi APs as a type of mini-ISP. I'd say this is extremely problematic.

If you have to disclose your identity in order to use free WiFi it pretty much kills free WiFi. The court seemed to understand that terminating the service was not an appropriate remedy, but then proceeded to shoot it in the back.

bluesign 2 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect this logic can also apply to tor exit nodes, which is more troublesome.
Scientists Have Found Another Species of Crow That Uses Tools theatlantic.com
196 points by okket  4 days ago   104 comments top 16
redwards510 4 days ago 7 replies      
> Also, every year, the zoo staff try to weigh the birds by baiting a weighing scale with fruitand the crows would often foil them by just raking the fruit off with a stick.

This sounds like evidence of a playful sense of humor, unless there was a different reason the crows didn't want to get on the scale!

They say tool use is a sign of intelligence, but it is probably more accurate (and intriguing) to say it is a sign of a higher level of consciousness. Using a tool means you are not just running on pure instinct, reacting to the environment. The crows see those inaccessible grubs and think "Cant get that food. But I can use this stick to poke them!"

I am fascinated by crows and have begun carrying a ziploc bag of peanuts around in my car in case I stumble across any. They are extremely wary birds (unlike seagulls), so you have to be very subtle in how you feed them. At first I would just throw the peanuts in their direction, which scared them. This can be really bad if you do it with crows near your house because they remember faces and share that knowledge with others, so one incident can make you a "bad person" for a long time!

M_Grey 4 days ago 4 replies      
At some point we're going to have to take something like responsibility for our actions in the face of other sentient species... Or accept that we do things only because we can, and abandon even the semblance of ethics. It's starting to become very clear even with a strong degree of skepticism, that while we may be the most advanced intelligence on Earth, we're not the only ones.

That should have implications for our species, if we let it.

yumraj 4 days ago 1 reply      
We have a birdbath in our front yard. A few weeks ago I saw a crow which had ~2 inch long piece of something which looked like dried white bread in its beak. As I watched it from inside, it moved around the birdbath on the railings, very carefully, for sometime, making sure that there was no danger. Then, it sat on the edge of the birdbath and dropped the piece in water - waited 1-2 seconds and picked it up and then ate it.

I'm really bummed that I didn't capture it on video but to me it was a sign of intelligence that the crow knew that it could soften that piece of bread by dipping in water so that it could eat it.

Symmetry 4 days ago 0 replies      
It was recently discovered that birds, like primates, have a number of neurons in their brains that scales linearly with brain volume.


That's pretty impressive in the animal kingdom.

lossolo 4 days ago 7 replies      
I've heard about crows that take a nut to the street, leave it on street, wait for a car to get over it then wait for red light and get the nut. Such an intelligence in such a small brain, incredible.
ori_b 4 days ago 0 replies      
The interesting part for me is this:

> The captive adults all did so spontaneously and exactingly. Rutz even tested seven recently hatched chicks, which had never used sticks before and had no chances to observe tool-proficient adults. Their human keepers had been briefed to never use tools in front of them.

> And yet, when confronted with a weekly baited log, all the chicks picked up nearby objects and tried their luck at probing.

I'm very curious how much of the tool use is instinctive, how well they generalize to other situations, and how they learn and pass on concepts.

MichaelMoser123 3 days ago 0 replies      
There is an interesting popular book on Ethology by Frans De Waal.

Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are?


Here is a great review of this book http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/05/how-anim...

the passage that got me hooked: a better way to think about other creatures would be to ask ourselves how different species have developed different kinds of minds to solve different adaptive problems. Children and chimps and crows and octopuses are ultimately so interesting not because they are mini-mes, but because they are aliensnot because they are smart like us, but because they are smart in ways we havent even considered"

for example different species have different approaches to problem solving: Chimpanzees try to comprehend/model a problem while Monkeys are solving tool building problems by trial and error (that's from the book)

raddad 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the 70's in high school we saw a film where a crow dropped pebbles into a glass of water in order to raise the level of water so it could get a drink.
fl0wenol 4 days ago 1 reply      
I was under the impression just as the scientists at the reserve in Hawaii that the tool use was more common than in just the broad-faced island crows.

Also, I'm rooting for the captive alal population to grow more robust. I enjoy living in proximity to crows and hate to hear of them struggling.

lamarkia 4 days ago 1 reply      
If humans were to grow up without social structure or education, they would not be very effective at survival.It is due to learning skills through education, etc that makes humans effective.

What we have here is specific populations of corvid species that grew up in relative isolation/protection that enabled them to have social structure to exist between generations.

It should be feasible to influence other corvid populations to show such remarkable feats. As long as there is no big mortality, the younger birds should learn from the older.

joering2 4 days ago 6 replies      
The ending of the video is interesting -- while first Crow helped another, the second one that got the food out of the hole didn't share it. The first did not do anything other than help the second one once again... and again didn't get the food.

Wonder if it means that the might be very skilled but also can be very dumb?

jarmitage 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why this genre of news still frames this as surprise...

Have scientists found a species of crow (or other probably-more-sentient-than-we-realised species) that DOES NOT use tools? That would be surprising

SurrealSoul 4 days ago 6 replies      
How many more years until we can arm the crows and start a private bird militia?
andrewflnr 4 days ago 0 replies      

 ...and some even modified their tools to improve them.
Dang. I think they may have buried the lede. I wish they had more details on this.

avodonosov 4 days ago 0 replies      
Building nests - is it a use of tools?
conistonwater 4 days ago 1 reply      
I found it confusing, but it's a crow species, not just one crow.
What San Francisco Says About America nytimes.com
274 points by imartin2k  1 day ago   277 comments top 30
habosa 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you live in SF (like me) and want to do something to help, consider donating time or money to a local charity focused on homelessness. My personal recommendation is Larkin Street Youth Services [0].

There are ~2000 homeless youth (age < 25) in San Francisco on any given night. These young people were often the victims of terrible family situations and have no support network. Larkin Street helps to provide shelter, counseling, education, and anything else they may need to get off the streets for good. More than 70% of the people who "graduate" from Larkin Street leave street life forever.

I know on Hacker News we like to talk about the political causes and solutions to a problem like this. But tomorrow's laws won't change the fact that there are homeless people sleeping on the street every night who need help. Charitable organizations are there to help meet these immediate needs.

[0] - http://larkinstreetyouth.org/

Camillo 1 day ago 8 replies      
San Francisco spends $241 million a year[1] on the homeless. Perhaps what it says about America is that you can't solve these kinds of problems by throwing more and more money at them, but that won't keep politicians from trying.

[1: http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/S-F-spends-record...]

brianmcconnell 1 day ago 10 replies      
I moved to SF in the early 90s. I think you can pin the large homeless population on several things. One is the climate. If you had to pick a place to be homeless, this would be one of the best places. Another is it is relatively safe compared to other cities. But most importantly you can blame Ronald Reagan for dismantling the states mental health infrastructure. Institutionalizing people has its downsides, but its more humane than letting people overdose on a sidewalk. It also doesn't help that other municipalities have a habit of dumping their social services burdens on San Francisco (one way buses from Nevada, etc). I don't see anything changing until we have a national or at least regional mental health system that can actually deal with the scale of the problem.
raldi 1 day ago 1 reply      
There at a lot of places in the world that have a smaller inequality gap than San Francisco not for any noble reason, but simply because they drove out all their poor people.

Show me a city with massive inequality, and I'll show you a city that has found a way to allow its least-fortunate citizens to make a way of life there.

aminok 1 day ago 1 reply      
>It seems a terrible statement about my home country that my children will encounter homelessness and mental illness much more vividly in the wealthiest nation in the world than they did in Thailand, where we previously lived.

>During a trip back to Bangkok I spoke about this paradox with Nopphan Phromsri, the secretary general of the Human Settlement Foundation, an organization that assists the homeless there.

>Greater Bangkok, a sprawling metropolis with more than 10 million people, has 1,300 homeless people, a survey this year found.

* Thailand spends far less on subsidies for the poor.

* The government intervention that does take place in Thailand to address homelessness is much more balanced in the authoritarianism it imposes on taxpayer vs tax recipient. Drug addicts can't receive welfare their entire life with zero accountability. Instead they are enrolled into compulsory treatment programs.

Western culture considers compulsory treatment a human rights violation, but does not consider throwing someone in prison for refusing to hand over a share of the currency they receive in private trade, to pay for welfare, similarly a human rights violation. This irrational, ideology based approach to human rights is behind this imbalanced approach to drug abuse and welfare.

* Thailand has far less effective enforcement of authoritarian economic prohibitions, like prohibitions on running an unlicensed business. This provides more space for the poor, who have more difficulty meeting licensing requirements, to participate in economically productive activity. That's why Thailand has bustling street markets and an informal economy (derogatorily referred to as a "shadow economy" in some circles) that provides stable sources of income for millions of people.

bsder 1 day ago 3 replies      
There is also a tension between "helping" someone and "infringing their rights as a human."

Somehow I think that Thailand/Bangkok doesn't worry all that much about the "rights" side of that balance.

At what point do you declare someone with mental illness "sick and unfit"? This is not an easy question. Family members, who would know a person best, can't always answer that question well.

morgante 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's pretty ludicrous to write an article about "What San Francisco Says About America" and then fixate on the things which most distinguish San Francisco from the rest of the US.

San Francisco is a huge outlier in many respects. Some of the most notable things which the article talks about are unheard of elsewhere: almost anywhere else in the country you will not see visible homeless and you definitely won't see marijuana advertisements.

cylinder 1 day ago 1 reply      
Well, what does it say? The article seems to abruptly end without laying out a thesis or conclusion.
weerd 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a complicated problem and I admit that I don't have a good understanding of law or social studies... so take this with a grain of salt.

I sometimes wonder if we have a little too much freedom in this country. Heroine/meth/alcohol mixed with mental issues have demolished the lives of many people. They turn bitter and blue. Life becomes a loop of temporary satisfaction through chemical escape.

The ones that end on the streets are often not violent, and I don't believe they belong in prison. But defiling public spaces with needles and shit is not acceptable. Fines and nights in jail don't matter to them, but freedom on the other hand...

I imagine a state institution somewhere between jail and trade school. Drug use would be tolerated to some extent. Food, shelter, and hopefully some sense of community are provided, along with opportunities to learn useful skills.

I realize this is idealistic and that the monetary cost would probably be immense. I'm just sick of all the biohazards strewn across the city and felt like wondering out loud.

mmanfrin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it is unfair to look at the homelessness of SF as an attribute or failing of the city or to extrapolate out as if it were synecdocheic of the country.

Homelessness in the whole state gravitates to SF because of the climate: sure, it's cold in SF, but it's never freezing. Sf has (one of if not) the mildest winters of any city in North America; the record cold is 28F. And the record high is 103F. Some of the homelessness moves around the state, but a lot settles in SF because of the climate.

Additionally, there are instances of homeless people being bussed to SF (like Nevada did).

SF tries very hard to deal with homelessness, but it's dealing with the homelessness of a much larger area and population than the population of SF can afford to help. The US itself needs to step up (like refunding a national mental health institution, to remedy one of the most braindead things Reagan ever did).

smallnamespace 22 hours ago 1 reply      
About a decade ago, I spent a few summers volunteering at a soup kitchen (St. Anthony's Foundation) in the Tenderloin, and they had an orientation for new volunteers that explained exactly why lowering the permanent homeless population in SF is so difficult:

- Homeless population is bimodal in distribution of time they've been homeless

- Most homeless people actually cycle out of homelessness quite quickly; they lost a job or got sick, went bankrupt, family's on the streets, but they're basically motivated and get back on their feet quickly (within months)

- The longer you've been homeless, the more likely you are to stay homeless

- Among the long-term population, a significant fraction (like half) of the population have mental illnesses (clinically diagnosable e.g. schizophrenia, PTSD); a large fraction were also vets; drug addiction is rampant

- The veteran stat was very surprising for me and IMO a particularly shameful part of our country's history: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/veterans.html '33% of male homeless population are veterans' '47% Vietnam Era' '67% served three or more years'

- The closure of mental institutions and sharp reduction in bed counts in the 80s put a lot of mentally ill people directly on the street; since they had been institutionalized, many of their own family support networks were also gone

- It's very hard to transition back to normal society once you've been out of work for a decade; to even apply and interview for a job, you need to give a return address and phone number, and applications have moved online; a lot of homeless have no computer skills

- Even the very basic logistics of getting a shower, decent clothes, a clean shave, and showing up to an interview is difficult for someone who has lived on the streets for a long time

- For those reasons above, to a first approximation, most long term homeless are unemployable

- SF is an expensive city; a decade ago, a room in the Tenderloin would run >$1k a month; this makes it even more difficult to transition back to regular society without outside support

Basically, to get someone employed and back on their feet is a very large investment (and for many homeless it's more or less impossible), and probably a significant fraction of the homeless should be in a state mental institution of some kind (with all its attendant downsides and potential for abuse) rather than out on the streets.

gavanwoolery 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Im confounded how to explain to my two children why a wealthy society allows its most vulnerable citizens to languish on the streets."

Well, here is part of the problem. You are asking what your society can do, not what YOU can do. Meanwhile you are busy racking up your credit card on consumer goods you don't really need (yes, he does admit this - read the article).

Nothing would prevent people from pooling their money for a cause. And this does indeed exist - it is called a charity. Many charities exist to aid the homeless, and if none of them suit your needs you can start a new one with a new goal.

The good thing about charities is that they compete with each other. If a charity is corrupt (like the Red Cross? [1]) you do not have to donate to it. Tax dollars, on the other hand - you realistically have little choice where they are going in spite of whatever guise of democracy you think you are operating under.

[1] https://www.propublica.org/article/how-the-red-cross-raised-...

nitwit005 1 day ago 0 replies      
SF actually attracts homeless people. The last homeless count done showed 29% of homeless people in SF lost their housing outside the city, with 10% of that from out of state:

https://sfgov.org/lhcb/sites/default/files/2015%20San%20Fran... (search for "place of residence")

I rather suspect SF is a nice place to be homeless, as people seem to be "voting with their feet" and going there.

vonnik 1 day ago 4 replies      
Tom Fuller is one of the best reporters at The New York Times. He covered the Arab Spring in North Africa. He covered the military junta in Myanmar, sneaking over the Thai border. His life work deserves a Pulitzer, and now we're lucky to have him in SF. I've worked with him directly, and he's the real deal and also a nice guy.

The big questions about San Francisco are: How does it manage to be so rich and so poor at the same time? What does it mean for a city to have one of the highest number of millionaires per capita among its inhabitants, and also a large and growing homeless population?

When you think about San Francisco, you think about tech and homelessness. It's a city that's the seat of a global industry trying to grapple with a regional problem. That is, both the tech and the homelessness are part of larger systems over which San Francisco has little control.

The city has more to offer the homeless than many other US cities: weather that won't kill you, laws that support free healthcare, a citizenry that, until recently at least, believed the problem should not be swept under the rug or erased like LA took care of Skid Row.

But the weird thing about SF is how the city is becoming more and more disjointed. It has become a city that attracts people from around the world with economic opportunity. The tech workers that form the middle and upper middle class here don't have much else in common besides the economic opportunity they sought. They didn't come to solve homelessness in SF, and we can't blame them for that. And the homeless themselves come from many other places in the US.

So tech workers and homeless come to a city, but many of them are not from here, and therefore don't identify as belonging to the same community, a community which under other historical conditions might have tried to care for itself and solve its own problems.

I'm aware of a few attempts in SF to address homelessness: Handup, LavaMae, etc. And they're great, but they aren't the norm for tech.

There's also something strange about tech as an industry, which shapes its impact on SF. Older industries like carmakers employed hundreds of thousands of people, and employed them locally (at least until NAFTA). That is, organizations devoted to the accumulation of capital were also the source of a lot of employment in the cities where they were based.

Tech is different. Google employs an order of magnitude less than that. And it is addressing a global market rather than a national or local one. The bits at the base of its business have no ties to SF. It's solving problems and offering services worldwide, and doesn't really have to think much about the state and fate of the local economy. Maybe that's just the weirdness of globalization.

Implicated 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why is it that one city can 'say' anything about America as a whole?

People (this author included) seem to forget the vastness of America's size and the depth of it's diversity. People and society in San Francisco are nothing like that of Birmingham Alabama or Fargo North Dakota.

Seems to me like stereotypes and generalizations being leveraged for views/clicks.

ftrflyr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure if you have seen Milton Freidman's talks on Poverty and Equality, but I would highly recommend them.


To summarize:

How free are the poor and what is the government's role?

[1] Governments don't have responsibility, people have responsibility.

[2] The free-market is the most effective system towards ending poverty.

[3] Bad government failures result in welfare schemes has been machine to produce poor people.

jokoon 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The most powerful societies are the ones who put high value on citizens conforming to certain values.

Homeless people are just individuals who can't conform to social norms, and thus they end up being excluded.

Let's be frank: most voters don't want their tax dollars being given to the poorest. Redistribution sounds like some kind of soviet communism, and people considers than everyone has the free will to become successful.

The most vivid image I have is a motivational speaker in front of an audience of homeless people.

11thEarlOfMar 1 day ago 0 replies      
>>It was as if there was a symmetry across the Pacific between the producers and the consumers, between the factory and the cash register.

Conceptually, transportation and warehousing are artifices of the distance between producers and consumers. So why not think of the end of the manufacturing line being the cash register?

pcmaffey 1 day ago 0 replies      
Migrants are a global issue. Their numbers have increased drastically everywhere this decade, and will continue to do so at alarming rates. Even potentially epochal rates once the rising seas displace a billion or 2 people.
gbog 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Uh, the title is ambiguous, is it about America the two continents? North America the continent? Or about the U.S.A., the nameless, official-language-less country?

I know of many South Americans who would prefer the ambiguity to be solved so they can have their American identity not hijacked by the biggest and most powerful country on the same longitude.

davidf18 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Much of the homelessness problem in SF (and also NYC, LA, Boston, DC, ....) can be solved by not spending more money, but by simply reversing "economic rents" sought be landlords to create zoning density restrictions. These zoning density restrictions create a politically induced scarcity of housing and other real estate which results in a regressive tax transferring wealth and income from renters to landlords.

"Economic rents" are a type of "market failure" of an efficient market. Much of fixing the economy can be stimulated by identifying market failures that are often created by special interest groups (in this case landlords like Donald Trump). Instead of focusing on wealth creation, they use political connections to create artificial scarcity with the resulting higher housing and office costs to benefit them but hurt the overall economy.

Interestingly, there was a prominent NYTimes article which demonstrated how Trump received $885 million in tax abatements, etc. but there have never been articles by the NYTimes about the fact that Trump and other wealthy landlords are realizing far more than they would if the "economic rents" were fixed.


Renters spend more money on rent and less money on goods and services.

Reversing the politically induced housing scarcity by eliminating the "rent seeking" laws would in addition to freeing up money that renters spend making landlords wealthier on goods and services stimulating the economy while at the same time would stimulate a housing boom.

See Harvard Economist Edward Glaeser's article about building affordable housing in NYC (which of course applies to SF and other cities as well).

Glaeser: Build Big, Billhttp://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/build-big-bill-article-1....

In general "market failures" such as this one are a "brake" on economic growth and costs no money to fix, simply take away bad laws that serve the few, well connected, over the many. Before trying stimulus, raising minimum wage, etc. simply reverse laws that create "market failure" benefiting special interests such as landlords and let the economy to its thing when the markets are made more efficient again.

djhworld 18 hours ago 1 reply      
> It almost seems that we have created needs so that we can cater to them.

I think this statement sums up the type of consumerism we have today, across the developed world.

LargeCompanies 22 hours ago 0 replies      
In terms of homeless San Fran is the Mecca. It's shocking and sad to experience!
whybroke 1 day ago 6 replies      
I too lived overseas for several years and returned to the Bay Area recently to be astonished in the same ways.

Another surprise that the article does not reveal was that in speaking to long standing friends who remained in the Bay Area, I have commonly heard them say homeless people choose to be homeless. These are normal bay area professional class people who read the Atlantic and the NYT. But to hear repeatedly such notions form well education otherwise forward thing people is something I still can not remotely comprehend. And how they would develop such views is even more incomprehensible.

miraj 1 day ago 0 replies      
isn't there a duplicate posting filter in HN? I posted the same article (atleast an hour or two before the current one) earlier (1). this happened few times now!

or am I missing something obvious? thought the filter is supposed to prevent dupe posts?! @dang ? @sctb ?

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12521824

bogomipz 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I took issue with many of the points:

Firstly San Francisco isn't America though the same way that London isn't the England. They are aberrations and not representative of the majority of the country.

I took issue with some of his other points:

"Blindingly white teeth. The burrito that was so huge it felt as if it would break my wrist. Police officers covered in tattoos."

I don't even understand these. White teeth are not a salient characteristic of San Franciscans, neither is a police force covered in tattoos. I think the burrito he's referring to is Pancho Villas in the Mission and that is no way a normal portion even by America's generally larger portion sizes.

"Im confounded how to explain to my two children why a wealthy society allows its most vulnerable citizens to languish on the streets."

He could be equally confounded on how to explain how a Buddhists society could refuse to help the Rohingyas drifting off the shore in the southern part of Thailand. Or why Thailand doesn't do more to keep its young girls from being stunted and exploited by the sex industry there. Paradox is not the exclusive domain of either S.F or the US.

Then this overwrought closing:

"I stood in the checkout line and watched milk-fed Americans unloading their carts onto the conveyor belt. My mind flashed back to the diminutive workers in a factory I visited in Tianjin, China, who for a few hundred dollars a month stitched leather boots and who giggled when they thought about the giant feet that would one day fill them."

Milk-fed? Why is that relevant? Dairy isn't as common in Asia because the majority of Asia is lactose-intolerant. Diminutive? What is that a reference to? People in Northern China have the same average height as do people in the US.

debt 23 hours ago 0 replies      
heroin is a huge problem in san francisco among the homeless. apparently it's cheaper than it's ever been and it seems to be attracting a lot of very bad people.

i love it here but i've never seen it this bad.

tn13 1 day ago 0 replies      
What San Francisco Says about America is logical equivalent of "What Osama says about muslim people" or what "Donald Trump says about White people." It is stereotyping and we should avoid it.
sandworm101 1 day ago 2 replies      
noahmbarr 1 day ago 0 replies      
What does America say about San Francisco?
Twitter: It is too late for it to become the giant people expected economist.com
216 points by noir-york  2 days ago   246 comments top 45
dasil003 2 days ago 17 replies      
There's something so sad to me about the general tech press attitude (let alone the Wall Street attitude) towards Twitter.

Twitter is forever judged by Facebook's bar, using Facebook's KPIs. Nevermind that the average high profile tweet is much more culturally significant than the averge high profile Facebook post. Heck most of Facebook isn't even original content, it's just really slick distribution for content from elsewhere.

Obviously Facebook has cracked engagement in a way that Twitter never has and never will. But, Twitter has cracked public discourse in a way that no other company has period. Think about it, all previous internet fora have imploded as they've grown large, or collapsed into micro-communities like sub-reddits. Twitter has definitely faced challenges with trolling and witch-hunts, etc, but by and large they've put together a super interesting product. The only problem is that it's not going to displace Facebook because it's a different thing that's not quite as big. This demand for growth is also why Twitter's management took their eye off the ball and failed to recognize and improve the core problems that hurt the product and community. It's just a really sad statement on modern business culture that Twitter isn't allowed to be considered a success as a medium-sized company that punches way above its weight among influencers.

rsp1984 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is probably an unpopular opinion and for certain I lack the qualification to run a public company of about 4000 people and hence to make snarky comments on the internet.

However it's my common sense that tells me there's something going very wrong with Twitter: let's be honest, their product is a message server with a fancy website wrapped around it and an attached ad-business. There's absolutely NO WAY it takes 4000 employees to run this thing! For comparison Whatsapp had ~ 60 employees when it was bought by FB and Instagram had 13. And I'd venture to say that both of these companies had more data to manage than Twitter has now.

Because he is often working at Square, many managers arrive late, depart early and generally show up just to punch the time card, says one former senior executive who has sold all of his shares.

And my common sense tells me it's probably not just the managers but also about 90% of the engineers. I don't mean to be derogatory towards Twitter employees but I truly wonder what everybody at this company is doing all day. The product is not improving in any meaningful way. The few innovations that they launched were all acquired businesses.

Twitters quarterly expenses are now around 700 million. Let me make a very conservative estimate: It would probably not take more than 100 million per quarter to run the business (including their ad business). Likely much less. Their revenue is 600 million per quarter. If Twitter were a properly run company they could be making half a billion per quarter in profit which they could use to explore new business opportunities, products, or if there's a total lack of ideas, pay out to shareholders. I'd argue that any of these options would be a whole lot better than the status right now.

rrggrr 2 days ago 2 replies      
Maddening how incompetent Twitter is at strategic thought. They have arguably the most politically and civically important property on the internet but wish they were Facebook.

Twitter is a Bentley in a market that wrongly thinks it should be Honda. The value of a network is as much the value of its participants as it is size. There is nothing wrong with Twitter, quite the opposite

Twitter's key users are making, reporting and breaking news. The second and third order effects of this are enormous, far surpassing Facebook.

The perceived monetization "problem" is painfully and frustratingly easy to rectify if Twitter would simply embrace their role and stop trying to compete in the social media gutter.


electic 2 days ago 4 replies      
The problem with Twitter is that the demolished their developer ecosystem. The attacked the very developers and companies that taught people how to use Twitter and developed solutions that made it a viable use case. Without those myriad of solutions built upon it, Twitter is a very basic SMS broadcast medium. It has a sloppy unsegmented home feed full of noise and its mechanics are horrible so it does a poor job of burying hate.

With that in mind, the numbers show. The people that get it are on it. Most of the rest of us just see glimmers of it embedded in news articles. Sadly, it is too late to reverse this. Trust has been lost.

overcast 2 days ago 5 replies      
I believe the problem with Twitter, as it's always been, is that it's just too polarizing. Either people get it, or they don't. It's not general enough, the mechanics of hash tags, nonsensical short messages, retweeting, the signal to noise ratio is horrible, coupled with an often confusing interface, don't allow for the second half of the adoption curve to ever happen. For such a simple mechanic, they make it difficult for a lot of people to just "get it".

I've got multiple accounts for various projects, my own personal account, and I still don't see the value in it for me personally.

brian-armstrong 2 days ago 2 replies      
Twitter makes me think of a public good on the internet. It's fun to imagine it being funded by tax dollars instead of investment money, with no ads whatsoever and 1/20th of its staff size. The priorities would have to be different entirely, but I think it would be for the better.

Actually, I can imagine a few internet properties that might make more sense to be run like this. Some things just don't really make sense when you try to do them for profit.

chollida1 2 days ago 5 replies      
Twitter is a really strange company.

I find so much value in it, mostly in the form of tweet deck with multiple columns giving me real time "news" on multiple different subjects/companies.

Yet, I don't pay for it and I can't see why anyone would pay for it. Advertising doesn't seem like a viable business model as I have yet to see any add that is of any value what so ever from the main site.

Can anyone make the case that within 2 years Twitter isn't owned by one of Google, Microsoft, or Facebook? With Steve Balmer's large investment Microsoft seems like the leader here.

Or one of the big media companies, though I like this idea less as I can't see them wanting to subsidies the company forever.

I mean what is Twitter's business model?

Can they really make a go of advertising?

I mean they've done prety well so far but IMHO I wouldn't be surprised that the ad money they've made so far is from people who feel like they need to advertise on Google and Facebook and Twitter. And once they get a few year of data to show which ads are actually helping, the twitter ad money is the first to be yanked.

Do the go the financial markets model and sell their data/firehose? Does that generate anywhere near the amount they'd need?

If/when the advertising dollars go away, what does Twitter do? Or is Twitter banking on being able to compete directly with Facebook and Google for ad dollars as an equal?

seanca 2 days ago 2 replies      
Twitter is really only useful for following influencers, famous public figures, popular people, however you'd like to describe them. There isn't that much of a reason for a more normal user with a few hundred followers (maybe) to engage on it other than interact with more prominent users. Everything people go to Twitter for therefore can be done without having an actual account yourself; everything is public, so why have an account other than to curate a list of things prominent users say.

Which might not even be a bad model if you think about it. To have it be the premier "find out what they said" space, without the hoopla from idiots, trolls, etc. Would people pay to visit a site like that? I'm not sure. Would there be a way to monetize that sort of experience? I think so. Just my $0.02.

agentgt 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have always felt Twitter could do a better job doing recommendations. Sort of help me find things I like better. Not just content. I have really started to like Four Square automatically giving me tips when I walk into places. It seems like Twitter should know more about what I like/dislike perhaps even more than Facebook, Amazon, and Google considering I have actively told it so.

Going back to Four Square... Twitter also really doesn't leverage geo. Why the hell doesn't it show me tweets near me in real time? That would be pretty damn useful. It could be the event engine. I can't tell you how many times some body says to me "I have this great idea for startup that shows you cool things happening right near you" ... and yet twitter could have this now.

adotjdotr 2 days ago 1 reply      
All sorts of very mis guided comments below. Here are some points:

1/ Im an advertiser I can tell you that big brands still love the platform (and spend heavily)2/ Revenue is $2bn+ a year, how is this not successful?3/ Balance sheet has $1bn+4/ NFL deal is huge, ditto bloomberg streaming5/ Product needs to ship much quicker than Facebook does to stay relevant6/ It is the only place that has nailed real time properly, if there is a bomb in a major city you will hear it first on twitter no where else has this edge, nowhere7/ The worlds most important people are on this platform and readily accessible in most cases, not true on FB in terms of accessibility8/ 80% Gross Margin business9/ Needs to stay independent and ramp up advertising spend once logged out tweets ad product rolls out10/ True reach of Twitter is almost 1bn users when we consider tweets appearing on TV, off the platform, in newspapers etc. This is comparable to FB

Some of the ignorant stuff people are saying about all the employees is disrespectful.

WhatsApp and IG when they were acquired were making very little money, if they had stayed independent and no one acquired them they would not be running today (they would exhaust the capital chain). WhatsApp maybe was making 10ml a year but was losing money; IG was making 0. I can tell you with certainty if they were independent and around today the growth would be stalling and there is a high chance they would not be able to continue raising venture money, it is very easy to grow products to 1bn users when you add FB growth's team which is best in class to an already solid product.

Twitter has been generating solid revenue from around 2009/10 (someone correct me if im off here) and big brands love it and there is lots of data I have seen to support the value to advertisers around the world.

Twitter does however need to tell its story a lot better afterall a Tweet means many different things to many people, its just not as easy to communicate as Facebook to an outside but this doesn't mean it is not valuable or should not exist independently.

macandcheese 2 days ago 0 replies      
Streaming live events with partnerships can be big for them. They streamed the NFL Thursday Night Football game last night and quality was impeccable (aside from my Bills getting the L). Much better experience IMO than Facebook's attempts at streaming sports.
zeveb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the core problem is that Twitter should be a protocol, not a company. There's just no need for there to be any servers: users could send messages to one another, each running his own agents.

Since the Twitter experience doesn't need the Twitter corporation, there's always going to be friction and centrifugal force.

noir-york 2 days ago 4 replies      
Real-world friends are the basis for your FBK graph, work colleagues are the basis for Linkedin. But Twitter? What's the community?

Regarding monetization: Twitter creates a lot of value - but its hard to monetize because the value is primarily positive externalities. News media benefits by publishing news on twitter, celebs reach their fans, politicians use it as a campaign tool. And Twitter makes very little from all this.

The irony: while telcos are fighting hard to avoid becoming commoditized dumb pipes; Twitter by design are a dumb pipe ferrying tweets.

niftich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter, deep down, has the exact same problem as Blogger or Reddit or Livejournal or Tumblr. It's ultimately a community where people post text posts. This is notoriously hard to monetize. But it has another big problem that doesn't manifest as strongly in those platforms: the pressure of virality.

Twitter has managed to attract quite a number of VIPs, 'influencers' who draw followers to them and generate traffic and interest and engagement. These are your celebrities, your media personalities, industry and academia people who are very important in their fields -- people who either have a Wikipedia article, or a blog, or a Youtube channel. These are the people who buoy Twitter, so these are the people who were most likely to get a Verified mark. Being on Twitter allows you to feel close to them, like their posts, reblog them on your feed, so you can project to your friends that you like this person and feel an affinity to what they do. These influencers also provide a natural place for promoted content, which has so far been under-utilized.

But somehow, Twitter has been saddled with the misconception that anyone can be famous with just a single tweet -- it's true that this can happen because it happened multiple times before, but when people join with the expectation that this may be the case, everyone loses. Maybe it's in analogue with Instagram, where if you post a Really Attractive selfie or take an incredible photograph, you may indeed accumulate a bunch of likes; but this aspiration doesn't translate nearly as well to quick-reply threads branching off of some influencer's post, which is the only way for an average person to attain enough eyeballs to have a shot at their post going viral.

This creates an incentive structure where no one truly wins:

- Influencers have attract a lot of traffic, but a lot of it is people trying to be clever

- Low-activity people -- the long tail of Twitter -- are either unaware of what's going on, or are caught up in the post flurry

- The leftover group is people aggressively looking for their 15 minutes of fame

This also explains the myriad articles about people who "don't get Twitter" -- they join and expect to accumulate followers naturally, despite not being notable on their own right or offering exceptional content. Sorry, you've been misled. Twitter will amplify your social reach, but it won't create one for you.

johan_larson 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't get why the board OKed having a part-time CEO. It just seems like a bizarre thing to do. Was there really no credible candidate who was willing to run Twitter full time?
talideon 2 days ago 2 replies      
Any way to fix the title? The 'the' after 'for' looks like it ought to have come after 'become'.
raverbashing 2 days ago 2 replies      
OK, here goes.

Twitter was Great. Yes, with a captial G. In 2008/9 up until, let's say, 2012 (or even 14)?

It got a lot of early adopters, it got groups together on it (real groups, people that meet in real life), it was a medium of conversation.

It still has some important aspects, some discussions work great there.

But I think people moved onto other platforms and most (of the cool people) left.

Twitter (company) needs to go beyond Twitter (the product). Fb knows this better (while moving the product forward, but it's visible they're reaching a limit there as well)

Both Twitter products, Vine and Periscope offer an inferior experience to Instagram videos and Fb live. (Especially Vine. It seems as bad as a Java plugin)

calinet6 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, points for the Economist's title 'Twitter in retweet.' That's some fine pun-crafting right there.

No comment on the service itself. I love it. It's one of the only methods of public one-to-many distributed communication that actually works well and stays relatively balanced (mainly due to the limitation on message length and size). I hope another service with a similar dynamic pops up in its place should it collapse.

spectrum1234 2 days ago 1 reply      
Twitter's huge value is the ability to follow without needing a follow back (friend relationship).

However they need to find a way to offer both short and long form content while doing this. It's crazy they haven't tried anything else yet. Perhaps there is an opportunity for communities to form naturally as well but again they haven't given this any thought.

So many things they should be trying, its too bad. The concept is amazing but they are butchering it.

daxfohl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Same for Apple two decades ago. Yeah they never went anywhere.

Which spontaneously makes me think, maybe this CI stuff is the wrong way to go. Maybe a big-bang release every year where you can make a marketing statement "imagine if" "now you can" sort of thing.

In fact, as part of the minority 40+ contingent on HN, I'd love if all services I used released updates only annually and I could know precisely what they are.

throw2016 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter is a great service for broadcasting information. Celebrities connecting with their fans bypassing press and other middlemen, that's huge value for them and they love it. Public officials making emergency and other announcements, custom tags for large events.

The average celeb promotion, public dept or event budget can easily afford to pay twitter for engagement and value adds like analytics or any other value adds they can come up with for these profiles. They just need an excuse to pay. Forget ads, focus on this.

simbalion 2 days ago 1 reply      
First, the article is dumb, twitter is already a giant. Twitter is bigger in social media than facebook because it is open to the public, while facebook is a gated community.

Second, "the problem with twitter" as commentors have been saying, is that Twitter is a glorified instant messenger, and they have done everything wrong.

They're a giant corporation with too many employees. They have a huge overhead cost for servers and offices and electricity and so on. And their only product is social media, for free.

This is the era of ad-filtering. Substaining a company on advertising is a dead model, it will never work again. It's dying slower in some areas than in others, but rest assured it is dead. Furthermore, nobody using twitter wants to see ads. Users will aggressively persue means to eliminate ads from the "social" experience.

Twitter is the digital equivalent of opening a number of sports arenas and inviting everyone to come in to mingle, without ever charging admission fees. Eventually, the power bill and lease is going to shut them down.

This is a reality check. You cannot make money by giving things away for free. You can make money from free products, but you have to do things to monetize it, for example selling expert support for free software.

Commentors keep comparing Twitter to Facebook. Twitter and Facebook are exactly the same in one way, neither one makes any money from social media. Facebook is profitable because Facebook is not a social media product, it is a portal product that offers social media. Facebook makes money from selling "microtransaction" games, which are a huge ripoff, and using their enormous size to convince business owners that investing in advertising is somehow worthwhile. Again, nobody wants to see ads during their "social" time.

Social Media is not a business. Social media is a chat room with a slightly re-defined UX. You cannot make a profit from social media without charging admission. It is impossible.

In the post-advertising era the only way businesses will be successful is if they produce products or services of actual real-world value to their customers. Parasitic businesses, middle-men, advertisers, they are all going to die. And good riddance. Money should be earned by the creation of value, and nothing else.

vegabook 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Economist has a knack for getting on the case of sectors / companies whenever their price is at an extreme - and being wrong. It's actually a good contra-indicator, as we've seen with oil, shale, gold, more recently Deutsche bank, and now Twitter.
JonnieCache 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've still never encountered a single person who posts to twitter except as part of their job or to promote themselves or one of their projects. Supposedly these people exist in their millions but I've no idea where they're hiding. Are they mostly schoolchildren?
tomkin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter lost me when they dumped on their ecosystem. The changes made to the platform in recent years are obvious grasp at straws rather than anything revolutionary. It's clear that investors have become Twitter's main concern to a point where even something like a paywall or subscription wouldn't surprise me.

Twitter does not need to have as many employees as it does, and has them solely to rise to some zero sum pissing match.

conistonwater 2 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds of something Aswath Damodaran pointed out a while back, that software companies that rely on advertising are collectively overvalued, in that they would need to altogether capture more than 100% of the market in order to justify each individual valuation. So any failure to "exceed expectations" results in a seemingly unreasonable drop in market value. [1]

[1] http://aswathdamodaran.blogspot.ca/2013/10/when-pieces-dont-...

evanjacobs 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would have liked to see Twitter become the product that Slack is now for many people: great direct message and group message capabilities, fun interface, great API for enabling bot integration, etc.
icc97 2 days ago 0 replies      
The one thing that surprises me is that twitter isn't doing better given how unrelevant the facebook adverts are compared to the twitter adverts.

I find twitter adverts to be on a similar level to Google ads. I might not be interested in the adverts right now, but often the promoted tweets are at least relevant.

Facebook on the other hand gives me adverts about adopting a pony to celebrate my dead father.

paulsutter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter is important, useful, and will never be as big a business as Facebook.

The problem is that they can't admit this and are pushing to be something they cannot be. Thats why they have so many product managers showing each other powerpoints, each of whose responsibilities are so small that no forward progress can be made.

freewizard 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a pity this article didn't but I assume it'll be interesting to compare Twitter with its copy cat Weibo in China, who went public Q2 2014, 6 months after Twitter, and started to see profit quarters since Q4 of the same year.
Mendenhall 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is interesting to me to hear how many say it doesnt have value to them. For me one aspect alone is worth it and that is real time news. It makes everything else look archiac.You can also scan a wide range of peoples opinions and find varied sources and angles fast.
tangue 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reading all this, I miss Jaiku. Google miss social in the same was MS miss the Internet.
andriesm 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if their deplatforming of several well known but controversial public figures played any role in the fall of twitter. If you say something unpopular or un-pc we'll ban you. Note how reddit almost went into a similar death spiral around the time they upped their standards of what is deemed "acceptable" speech. Note I'm not expressing my opinion here that hate speech is a good (or bad) thing, merely noting a correlation. May not be causation, but an interesting data point nontheless.
swiftisthebest 2 days ago 1 reply      
Twitter should've been a protocol.
animex 2 days ago 0 replies      
...And they destroyed their 3rd party app/developer ecosystem which would have helped their growth.
fairpx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter should do what Odeo did. Odeo was failing, they started working on other ideas. One of those sideprojects was... Twitter. In the same spirit of experimentation and discovery, Twitter should work on tiny sideprojects and make more small bets.
startupflix 2 days ago 3 replies      
Twitter is loosing users because of lack of innovation. They aren't adding necessary new features. Even the existing investors aren't happy.

What features should they introduce. any suggestion?

thr0waway1239 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love the title. Economist article titles are an endless source of word puns. Someone should start a thread just to post the best Economist titles.
sjg007 2 days ago 0 replies      
You want the global conversation to take place on Twitter. Tweets can run on an event, at an event, and when live streaming or restreaming an event.
randomsearch 2 days ago 0 replies      
What is Twitter doing wrong? This is an interesting question.

Answers posted so far:

- it's polarizing... this may be true, but would simply mean a smaller market, not an existential risk.

- they demolished the dev ecosystem. I totally agree with this, and think it was dumb. They thought they were Facebook. But I don't think this fully explains why their core product isn't a big success.

- they don't have a strong enough business model. This is a bit of a tautology - we wouldn't be discussing it otherwise - but not having a strong business model does not explain why the core product doesn't _feel right_.

And that's the thing, you look at Facebook or Instagram and everyone "gets it". They may not _like_ it, but they understand what it's about.

But Twitter doesn't feel like that. It doesn't feel intuitive. It feels like a mess, like a lot of different use cases rolled into one big disorganised poorly designed app.

I read a bit about Twitter's history and my theory is that the problem stems right back to the beginning, when there was an argument amongst the founders about whether Twitter was for "micro-blogging" or for "news" (for some definition of what is newsworthy).

Both these seem like good ideas. We're all interested in our friends' opinions on various things, and what they're up to right now, and add to that the opinions and activities of people we choose to follow because we respect them and find what they say interesting, that sounds like a compelling product.

Likewise, keeping track of all the news on a variety of topics from many sources, hearing the news unfiltered from the actors involved, that is another very compelling product. Put me in direct contact with Elon Musk about what's happening at SpaceX, let me tweet Sam Altman to ask him something about YC. Cool.

It's interesting to consider that clearly selecting one of these use cases would solve many of Twitter's biggest problems. If you're following your friends and some famous people's microblogs, why not enforce real-world ID? If you're after the latest news, do you really need to be able to spam or message everyone? Both situations allow for a reduction in trolling and the negative behaviours that have made Twitter (as one unforgiving observer put it) "the cesspool of the internet".

Problem is Twitter doesn't set out to do either of these things, because it can't decide what it wants to be. So it has compromised and floundered with no clear vision. How can the employees work effectively if they don't know which way to row?

The solution for Twitter _would_ have been to split into multiple services/views/subsystems, or abandon the least interesting one to a sibling startup or a competitor. As Sam A puts it so brilliantly: "focus + intensity". Still time. Not much time.

personjerry 2 days ago 0 replies      
Time for someone to build the Facebook to Twitter's MySpace
shmerl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Diaspora* on the other hand continues growing, even if not rapidly.
twsted 2 days ago 0 replies      
Twitter _is_ a giant.

Facebook is an anomaly.

It is matter of perspective.

andreygrehov 2 days ago 0 replies      
The submission has 140 points at this very moment. I find it ironic :)
ComputerGuru 2 days ago 2 replies      
There is a typo in the title that completely fried my neural circuits for a full 5 seconds or so.

> It is too late for the it to become giant people expected

Should obviously be "It is too late for it to become the giant people expected"

(Sidebar: I hope this isn't what it feels like to be dyslexic, it wasn't fun!)

Arch Linux adapted for Windows Subsystem for Linux github.com
262 points by hunterwerlla  4 days ago   159 comments top 18
supernintendo 4 days ago 8 replies      
Maybe I'm in the minority but I prefer keeping my GNU/Linux and Windows installations separate, with each OS on its own drive. My Linux setup is secure, free of proprietary software and under my full control. When I run tcpdump, I'm met with a clean log where every packet is one I recognize. I get to use my favorite window manager (awesomewm) and I don't have to worry about forced updates. My Windows install is quite a different beast - automatic updates, mostly proprietary software and no major customizations other than performance tweaks and what the OS allows. I use it for gaming and media, and it works great. Boot times are very short with SSDs so restarting is not a problem. No compatibility issues, no fussing about with drivers and no need for translation layers like the Windows Subsystem or WINE; just two independent OSs that never let me down.

That said, no hate toward this project. Arch Linux is probably my favorite distro (although I'm on Xubuntu at the moment).

kozikow 4 days ago 5 replies      
I am currently dual booting between Arch Linux and Windows 10.

Moving to something like this one day makes me conflicted. On one hand I feel like I would betray open source, on the other hand I wouldn't have to restart my machine to play games...

Longhanks 4 days ago 5 replies      
This pulls something from https://cdn.turbo.run/alwsl/alwsl.sfs - what's this URL? How can anyone tell this is related to Arch Linux? Why do the readmes link to 404s? All of this seems rather unfinished. Could have polished at least the github presence a little.

Also, what are the advantages compared to solution like https://github.com/RoliSoft/WSL-Distribution-Switcher, which allows selecting different distributions, including Arch Linux?

rl3 4 days ago 0 replies      
I really hope Microsoft continues development on WSL until it's production-ready. Right now both piping and filesystem interop need a lot of work.
prirun 3 days ago 0 replies      
If WSL were truly Linux compatible, then why would anyone need to adapt Linux software to run under it?

This is the first step: embrace. The next step: extend. Apparently it's already happening, as people scurry to adapt shit so that it works with WSL. Next you'll have companies requesting that all Linux software be "adapted" to work under WSL, and if it isn't, they won't buy it.

Once this happens, Microsoft can proceed to step 3: Extinguish. How? Easy - by adding incompatible shit to WSL. If companies succeed in forcing Linux software vendors to provide a WSL-specific version, they will have to be compatible with these WSL extension. Voila - now they are supporting a new Microsoft platform that Microsoft controls.

Back before many of you were born, Microsoft killed entire product categories and companies by providing free versions of Office when it was first introduced, and making it compatible with competitors' file formats. Is it free now? Hell no, it's their main source of revenue!

Can they repeat the same hat trick with Linux? Who knows, but they damn sure are gonna try. Anyone who thinks "Microsoft loves Linux" needs to take a history lesson. The only Linux Microsoft would love would have a dead penguin for a logo.

ladzoppelin 4 days ago 1 reply      
WSL is really amazing, I hope they keep going. The devs have done a really good job and seem to be very open to suggestions.
shmerl 4 days ago 2 replies      
WSL is useful for some, but personally I'm more interested in reverse (Wine), mostly for some games without native Linux releases.
0x0 4 days ago 2 replies      
What's that certutil and public key thing at the bottom of the .bat?
sha666sum 3 days ago 1 reply      
The screenshot on the github page shows running _yaourt_ as _root_. I can't see how doing it on Windows makes it less horrifying than on Arch.
teekert 3 days ago 1 reply      
Main advantage I see above Ubuntu would be the Arch User Repo (AUR) which contains almost all software you can think of. Although that can change when Snap picks up speed. Snapd is also available under Arch though. Moreover, Arch will be much more current in general.
sidegrid 4 days ago 1 reply      
Care to explain what this is? FAQ = 404
yellow_postit 4 days ago 1 reply      
The FAQ link is broken on the page, any ELI5 on what this brings beyond using Arch's package manager and the general goodness of choice? Both of which are awesome in and of themselves, just wasn't sure if there's more here before I jump in.
angvp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good job man, despite all the hate from linux users to windows, truth to be told, this might be helpful instead of running arch on a vm..
partycoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting to see a Windows Subsystem for what they once called cancer.
jinmingjian 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ubuntu is crying^_^
jlebrech 3 days ago 1 reply      
would this allow for a SteamOS with all windows games support?
mangix 4 days ago 0 replies      
yay something that doesn't suck. hope it gets better.
Mozilla Thimble mozilla.org
276 points by MaxLeiter  7 hours ago   46 comments top 12
tedmiston 6 hours ago 4 replies      
From the video this looks like Mozilla's version of JSFiddle or JS Bin, but with four major differences:

1. Mozilla's awesome docs built-in

2. Integrated tutorials while you code

3. Mobile screen size preview

4. Completely free and no ads

These are some nice differentiators IMO. I'll definitely give it a try.

lawpoop 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I made a thing:


Bash cheat sheet-- keyboard shortcuts for jumping and deleting words

skybrian 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't know how up to date it is, but it looks like there is more about the technology at [1].

[1] http://blog.humphd.org/thimble-and-bramble/

JD557 3 hours ago 1 reply      
It would be pretty neat if this was collaborative (like google docs). That would be a nice way to teach HTML+CSS+JS remotely.

I was actually expecting that feature when I saw that it was developed by Mozilla, as they made Together.js[1].

[1] https://togetherjs.com/

superpope99 4 hours ago 0 replies      
They've clearly made an effort to appeal to a young audience and that should be commended
rgtk 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Considering this as JSFiddle or Codepen alternative, I would find difficulties in using it, having in mind all of these projects that Mozilla killed lately.

I hope that Mozilla will finally figure out exactly what are their goals. They won't gain trust by releasing something promising and dropping it while after because it didn't match their expectations.

JulienRbrt 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Isn't it exactly what was Mozilla Webmaker some years ago ?
baby 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This thing is getting old now. It's the best way to learn HTML + CSS imo. Not Bracket or not any other coding school-like page.

Now would you use that as a jsfiddle or a IDE? No. This is to learn only. And it is awesome.

chipz 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Should keep in mind that this just for learning purpose, can't really compare Thimble to an IDE or full pledged editor like Sublime or Atom
rosstex 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me, I've been using Brackets for a while and have been mostly satisfied. Should I make a switch?
sergiotapia 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Thought this was going to be a Windows Live Writer competitor. Man, I miss that software.
djstein 3 hours ago 0 replies      
thought this was the codepen beta..
Researchers achieve speech recognition milestone microsoft.com
208 points by gzweig  4 days ago   134 comments top 14
josho 4 days ago 6 replies      
For those not familiar with the NIST 2000 Switchboard evaluation[1] it is a series of 8kHz audio recordings (ie. crappy phone quality samples) of a conversation, including things like "uhhuh" and other pause words. So, 6% seems pretty good.

[1] http://www.itl.nist.gov/iad/mig/tests/ctr/2000/h5_2000_v1.3....

gok 4 days ago 3 replies      
6.3% on Switchboard. This is of course in response to IBM getting 6.6%, which was in turn in response to Baidu getting...

Switchboard is kind of a lame evaluation set. It's narrowband, old, and doesn't contain all that much training data (100s of hours, whereas many newer systems are trained on 1000s or 10Ks of hours). And the quest for a lower Switchboard WER to publish means teams are now throwing extra training data at the problem, or using frankly unlikely-to-be-deployed techniques like speaker adaptation, impractically slow language models, or bidirectional acoustic models (which require the entire utterance before they can emit any results).

I really wish they would have stuck to just publishing a paper explaining was actually new here (ResNet for acoustic models? Cool!) rather than just a "let's see how low we can push this 20 year old benchmark" paper.

dmreedy 4 days ago 1 reply      
I would love to see a breakdown of the kinds of errors these systems make. WER is an interesting broad stroke, but it doesn't necessarily tell me how useful a given system will be for some given application[0] (unless, of course, it is 0). It'd be even more interesting to see comparative error analysis across the selection of these systems. A 0.06 point improvement is certainly impressive, especially this close to the end of the scale, but I'd be curious to see if it lost anything in getting there. It's one thing if this system is strictly better than it's predecessor. It's entirely another if it is now 10% better at recognizing instances of the word 'it', but has lost the ability to distinguish 'their' and 'they're'[1].


[0] It is like that any viability analysis would be on an by-application basis, so I don't pretend like I'm asking for an insignificant amount of work here!

[1] a crude, toy, and likely inaccurate example. Not trying to belittle the work.

nshm 4 days ago 4 replies      
Open source Kaldi gives you 7.8%, Microsoft didn't went too far.

Also, major issue with this kind of research is that they combined several systems in order to get best results. Most practical systems don't use combinations, they are too slow.

rngesus 3 days ago 0 replies      
The paper itself can be found here https://arxiv.org/pdf/1609.03528v1.pdf quite interesting to see that the failure rate is lower than the average human failure rate, can't wait to see how this will improve over the coming years.
random42 4 days ago 1 reply      
Speech-to-text has to still go a long way when it comes to foreign accents. Google now's "Ok Google" initializer has about 3/10 hit-rate for my Indian accent speech.
mintplant 4 days ago 2 replies      
How about the inverse process -- speech synthesis? Anyone know what the state of the art is in that field? The tech has been getting steadily better but we still seem a ways away from passable machine-generated audiobooks, for example.
cbasoglu 2 days ago 1 reply      
From the linked arxiv paper, http://arxiv.org/abs/1609.03528 this is a very interesting use of CNTK to adapt image CNN techniques to speech recognition. Surprising that CNNs worked so well on speech audio. Full disclosure: I am a MSFT employee.
0xdeadbeefbabe 4 days ago 7 replies      
If these speech to computer interfaces are so important, why don't we develop a dialect for humans to speak to computers more efficiently, kind of like the grafiti alphabet on the palm pilot but for speech?
yalogin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Didn't google announce some speech breakthrough last week?
Dwolb 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are speech recognition systems also paired with vision recognition systems to determine intent? Seems like that would be where research would be headed.
wodenokoto 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this score a milestone?
ausjke 4 days ago 2 replies      
is Microsoft's speech cloud api supporting this so that we can use it?
danielvf 4 days ago 7 replies      
The best [speech] recognition engine in the world, and it hears the wrong word more than 6% of the time. Ouch.

I would have though the state of the art would be better, given anecdotal evidence from friends who write with speech to text programs, and love them.

Perhaps some of this is due to deliberately bad audio quality in the switchboard samples.

Valve Bans Game Publisher After It Sues Players That Gave It Bad Steam Reviews vice.com
220 points by r721  1 day ago   33 comments top 8
oxide 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is, simply put, a direct result of the Steam Greenlight system.

Since anyone with access to $100 and an asset pack is able to become a self-published con artist, it was only a matter of time before one of these con artists had enough money for a hired gun lawyer to try and silence what they perceive as attacks from users and critics.

The publisher is question is Digital Homicide. Enjoy a bit of the context and backstory below.

(to be viewed chronologically): [1] [2] [3] [4]

1) http://www.thejimquisition.com/the-jimquisition-the-slaughte...

2) http://www.thejimquisition.com/steam-vote-rigging-and-shady-...

3) http://www.thejimquisition.com/digital-homicide-and-the-case...

4) http://www.thejimquisition.com/the-jimquisition-homicide/

Good on Valve for taking action.

WhoBeI 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hang on.. so if you say something bad about a company in a forum that's enough for a judge to give that company your name and address?

So if I were to associate my various accounts on forums with a corporation I own then I should be able to get the names and address of all who ever criticized a comment of mine on reddit, yes?

Probably not but still.. wtf?

xiaoma 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm normally a bit wary about platforms such as Steam wielding their power over the marketplace but in this case, I'll be the first to congratulate them!

Bravo! Please keep your store empty of publishers who sue their dissatisfied customers.

helthanatos 1 day ago 4 replies      
Better title: Game Publisher Banned By Valve After Suing Players That Gave It Bad Stean Reviews. The original title is ambiguous and can imply Valve is suing the players...
allendoerfer 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Not necessarily in this case but in general I am more on the side of the one being criticized. There are so many issues with marketplaces and communities like Ebay, Yelp, iTunes and so on. Very little oversight combined with the power to destroy whole businesses.

Ratings can sometimes be bought, fake or resulting from the customer being incompetent or just a dick. It is often times very hard to get rid of them.

I myself currently have an issue on a marketplace where someone owes me money, but I do not really know how to handle it, because the resulting bad rating would probably cost me even more. I asked the platform what to do about the possibly bad review and they just said, they won't do anything about it. So I get suing.

Platforms should take measures that ensure reviews are real and fair, publish rules and have a way to clear violations. Especially in Valves case, since we are talking about children here and you want to avoid them getting sued. Even though being hold accountable and having to think about how your actions affect others is probably a valuable lesson.

Agathos 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lawsuits are the continuation of flame wars by other means. -- Carl von Clausewitz (not really)
CM30 6 hours ago 0 replies      
And now they're apparently threatening Valve with legal action in response:


'Brilliant' move there guys!

qwertyuiop924 1 day ago 1 reply      
Ah, Digital Homocide. This sounded like them from the start.

It's been pretty entertaining watching them trying and failing to beat up on people thus far. When they're successful, it's not funny, but when they're beating up on Jim Sterling without a case, or pulling crap that gets them dropped off Steam, it's pretty hilarious. But their continued attempt at beating on Jim is downright comical at this point.

Because he's Jim Motherf#%king Sterling, Son. And the irony embedded in that catchphrase just makes it that much more delicious.

Microservices basho.com
292 points by otoolep  3 days ago   144 comments top 32
rdsubhas 3 days ago 11 replies      
You need to be this tall to use [micro] services:

* Basic Monitoring, instrumentation, health checks

* Distributed logging, tracing

* Ready to isolate not just code, but whole build+test+package+promote for every service

* Can define upstream/downstream/compile-time/runtime dependencies clearly for each service

* Know how to build, expose and maintain good APIs and contracts

* Ready to honor b/w and f/w compatibility, even if you're the same person consuming this service on the other side

* Good unit testing skills and readiness to do more (as you add more microservices it gets harder to bring everything up, hence more unit/contract/api test driven and lesser e2e driven)

* Aware of [micro] service vs modules vs libraries, distributed monolith, coordinated releases, database-driven integration, etc

* Know infrastructure automation (you'll need more of it)

* Have working CI/CD infrastructure

* Have or ready to invest in development tooling, shared libraries, internal artifact registries, etc

* Have engineering methodologies and process-tools to split down features and develop/track/release them across multiple services (xp, pivotal, scrum, etc)

* A lot more that doesn't come to mind immediately

Thing is - these are all generally good engineering practices.

But with monoliths, you can get away without having to do them. There is the "login to server, clone, run some commands, start a stupid nohup daemon and run ps/top/tail to monitor" way. But with microservices, your average engineering standards have to be really high. Its not enough if you have good developers. You need great engineers.

throwaway13337 3 days ago 6 replies      
Microservices, like nosql databases, and complex deployment systems (docker) are very important solutions to problems a very small percentage of the development community has.

It just so happens that the portion of the community is the one most looked up to by the rest of the community so a sort of cargo cult mentality forms around them.

A differentiator in your productivity as a non-huge-company could well be in not using these tools. There are exceptions, of course, where the problem does call for huge-company solutions, but they're rarer than most people expect.

phs318u 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm a little long in the tooth so aren't as up to date with every new fangled technique to land in IT. Some of you may find this anecdote interesting and somewhat pertinent.Many years ago the electric utility I worked at had a home-grown set of batch-run Pro-C and PL/SQL programs that ran various metrology operations on large volumes of meter data. These things were interdependent, ran single-threaded and created a real "peak-CPU-demand" problem for our compute hardware (the irony was not lost). Our industry was facing an explosion in data due to the switch to smart metering. What to do?

Our apps all depended on an Oracle DB. Oracle had recently introduced Advanced Queuing. So I figured I'd de-batch and decouple these things using AQ. Every program (C++) was broken into "atomic", stateless business tasks. Every task was fed by a "task queue". Tasks would take a work-item off a queue, do their thing and depending on the outcome, would look up a destination queue (destinations could only be "business state" queues; task queues could only be subscribed to state queues (topics)), dropping the task outcome onto the state queue. Being stateless and callback driven by AQ, we could run these things together and ramp them up and down as demand required.

The overall structure and dependency of the various tasks was externalised through the data-driven queue network. The resulting solution was far more maintainable, provided "free" user-exits (by virtue of being able to plumb new tasks to existing "business state" queues), and was eminently horizontally scalable. In hindsight this was definitely not state of the art. But we were a pretty conservative business with a bunch of pretty unworldly C and PL/SQL programmers. None of us had used Java at that point. But with this approach were able to cope with a massive increase in data volume and make use of all our expensive Sun cores most of the time.

No Java, no REST, no HTML, no SOAP. But we called these queue micro services :-)

mey 3 days ago 6 replies      
From personal experienceMicroservices enforce a clear interface and isolation pattern. This is achievable many ways, but having discrete deployed code makes it very hard to violate rather than being disciplined.

Licensing costs can go drastically up as most modern licensing is node/core based. As can deployment procedures get more complicated.

I would love to understand how this article believes that the modules in a monolithic system can be scaled horizontally if they are actually a single code base in a single system. Either the system isn't monolithic, or it they have never really done it. Sticking a load balancer in front of a micro service and scaling based on measured load requires tools and technologies, but is very scalable. It also allows you to do rolling deployments of draining/rotate out/update/rotate in that allows you to get near no planned downtime.

Distributed transactions are the devil, but you don't need to do them in a microservice design. It requires design work on the front end to clarify what the system of record is, but if each service has a domain it controls, and all other services treat it as the truth, it's rather simple. I say this having researched doing payment transactions across geographically diverse colo's and we treated that as a sharding/replication/routing issue very successfully.

Ninja edit: Starting with a microservice design is most likely overkill for a lot of systems, but either way, clear interface/boundaries in your system are good and healthy

oelmekki 3 days ago 3 replies      
Instead of microservices, I split my projects in tons of libraries and think of them as products, enforcing a well thought of and consistent api (usage api, not http one). I call that an atomized monolith.

I get the cool things about microservices: properly isolated functionalities, ability to assign a team on it, simplicity of code and considering each feature as important, not just "that thing in the codebase".

But it also have all the good parts of monolith: easy deployment and local setup, aggregation made easy, and ability to run integration tests.

For my rails projects, geminabox was of great use for me to achieve this, as it allowed me to host private gems. Lately, I've done a lot of golang, and was surprised to see how it's a natural pattern with go packages.

Only hurting part for ruby projects: keeping dependencies up to date in all those libs (since they all have their test suite, it means that I at least have to update them for test dependencies). To solve this, I've built some tooling that will update all my project automatically and create merge requests for them, running from a cron task.

blackoil 3 days ago 5 replies      
My approach is to design like microservices and develop like a monolith. Thinking about microservices will force you to define module, their boundary and interfaces. A monolith will simplify deployment, refactoring. Once your code matures, you'll know if any microservice has to be taken out and deployed seperately.
fishtoaster 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's some good points here and some I disagree with. One area, though, where I think he misses the point, is:

> Additionally, many of these stories about performance gains are actually touting the benefits of a new language or technology stack entirely, and not just the concept of building out code to live in a microservice. Rewriting an old Ruby on Rails, or Django, or NodeJS app into a language like Scala or Go (two popular choices for a microservice architecture) is going to have a lot of performance improvements inherent to the choice of technology itself.

Languages and tech stacks generally have tradeoffs. Considering Rails vs Go, you could consider the (massively over-simplified) tradeoff to be that rails is better for prototyping and iterating quickly, while Go is better for performance. In an ideal world, you'd write your webapp in Rails, but put the performance-intensive stuff in Go. You'd need to communicate between the two by, say, http. Suddenly you have services.

The performance gains of using a new stack aren't orthogonal to services they're actually one of the key selling points of services: you can use whatever stack is most appropriate for the task at hand without needing to commit the entire project to it. You can use postgres for the 99% of your app that's CRUDy and, I dunno, cassandra for the 1% where it makes sense. It's difficult (although not impossible) to do that cleanly within a monolith.

sr228822 3 days ago 0 replies      
A interesting article with some good points. I think the important takeaway is understanding that monoliths are probably better for smaller companies, with less total code, and fewer total engineers. At small scales, the "costs" of microservices (network overhead, distributed transaction management, RPC complexity, dev-environment complexity) outweigh any benefits. A monolith lets you develop quickly, pivot, easily build cross-domain features, and is more efficient up to a point.

That said, I believe there is a point where monoliths begin to break down.

First, It is tough to keep code well structure in a monolith, and eventually things bleed between domains. That means, as mentioned, engineers must understand the entire codebase. This isn't practical for 100k+ LOC codebases. Strict boundaries, in the form of interfaces, limit the scope of code that every engineer must understand. You probably still need gurus who can fathom the entire ecosystem, but a new eng can jump into one service and make changes.

Second, deployment is a mess with any more than a few hundred engineers on a given code base.

Third, it becomes increasingly difficult to incrementally upgrade any part of your tech stack in a monolith. Large monoliths have this tendency to run on 3-year-old releases of everything. This has performance and security implications. It also becomes difficult to changes components within your monolith without versioned interfaces.

Fourth, failure isolation is much harder in a monolith. If any portion of code is re-used between components, thats a single point of failure. If your monolith shares DBs or hardware between components, those are also points of common failure. Circuit-breaking or rate-limiting is less intuitive inside of a monolith then between services.

TLDR; start with a monolith, migrate to micro-services when it becomes too painful.

jedberg 3 days ago 3 replies      
This could be titled "If you do things wrong it won't be good".

A lot of his examples are of people doing things poorly or incorrectly. I could make the same arguments about object oriented programming my saying it's bad because someone makes every function a public function.

For example, microservices are absolutely more scalable if done correctly with bulkheading and proper fallbacks and backoffs, and proper monitoring, altering, and scaling.

But those things are hard to do and hard to get right.

BillinghamJ 3 days ago 1 reply      
Raises some good points, but I think the title isn't really correct. It's not "don't use microservices" - it's more about making sure you understand the implications of having a microservice architecture, and making sure it's not an excuse for not writing a monolith (or SOA) properly.
TickleSteve 3 days ago 1 reply      
You dont need to introduce a network boundary as an excuse to write better code

Absolutely this!

microservices is just decoupling by another name.... and you do not need a network-boundary to enforce this.

Monolithic code can also be nicely decoupled too.

ivan_gammel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cannot agree more with this based on experience of small startup. Let's say, you want to develop a mobile app and REST API for it hosted somewhere in cloud. There's so much hype about it, so you want to do it "right" (it's right indeed, but for some distant future until which your startup needs to survive). So, the possible solution is to take some common stack, like Spring Cloud, and build a number of microservices with service discovery, config server, OAuth and API gateway.

It appears, it's not so easy: 1. First, documentation as always is not the best, and you'll have to spend time figuring out how to wire together different parts of the system and build various configurations of it for local development, CI build and production.2. Then, there's debugging issue. Once you've figured out how to work with Docker (good news, it's really easy today), you may want to do some debugging in IDE, but it becomes really painful to launch everything correctly with attached debugger if the services interact with each other. 3. Finally, it's production deployment setup and associated costs. Besides the complexity of deployment, do you really want to pay for 14-20 EC2 instances at the time of the launch of your service and burn the money on 0% CPU activity? It will take months, probably years to get user base sufficient for utilizing this power.

The better approach is to develop single server app with future scalability in mind. You can still have separate components for each part of domain, you just wire them together at packaging time. This server app still can scale in cloud, with correctly set up load balancer and database shared between nodes.

Fortunately, we spent not much time on building microservices (about 1m/w to figure out the costs and benefits) and were able to refactor the code to simpler design, but many developers should not care about them at all at early days of their company.

mahyarm 3 days ago 1 reply      
You use microservices when your project expands beyond the monkeysphere number where everyone knows everyone else.

It allows teams to work in their own world without having to coordinate as much with other teams or people.

Microservices are good for large companies. If you're small you don't need them.

reacharavindh 3 days ago 1 reply      
I for one, feel the same way when someone tells me they are building "microservices" for a small application that they don't ever plan to scale to that levels. IMO, amongst us, there is a wide-spread issue of "Here's the new cool thing - My application/system has to do it". The other day, a friend was talking on and on about setting up a Hadoop cluster for what I saw as a one-time use batch script.
jsmith0295 3 days ago 0 replies      
One suggestion I would make if you are going to use microservices is to consider using gRPC rather than REST. You can save yourself a lot of the hassle involved in the communication that way AND make things quite a bit faster.
jimjimjim 3 days ago 0 replies      
like all things, one size doesn't fit all. not everything is a nail regardless of how shiny the hammer is. Having said that when the situation is right, microservices are great.

some of us have been through this all before with soa or in my case with com.Each individual component is simpler but the documentation between the components becomes absolutely vital.

we ended up keeping a copies of the interfaces in a central location (with documentation of all changes per version) so that everyone would know how to talk to all the other systems.

and don't think that the interfaces won't change. they will. and often across many systems/components. like a ripple.

partycoder 3 days ago 1 reply      
The problem is to define the scope of each service. And it is still possible to create spaghetti out of how the services interact and how coupled they are with each other.

If done poorly it is like trading one problem with another problem.

bunnymancer 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone working with this setup right now, coming from what is fondly referred to around here as the God-Monolith of our 1.0 version, I couldn't disagree more....

But as always, this is an artform, writing and designing, not laying down pavement.

There's no "right" way, and any blanket statement about anything is false.

Don't use microservices where they don't make sense, make educated decisions, and choose the best option for your situation.

It made sense in our situation, because all our services have very very very specific rules and boundaries and there's no overlap anywhere.

yandrypozo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nice compilation of fallacies on micro-services, something that we cannot ignore; but after be reading a little about kubernetes I think much of those problems may be resolved using kubernetes and some of common sense.


abglassman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Stabby! Several thumbs up to the point #1, that interface boundaries needn't be coincident with service boundaries. In my experience, the benefit of breaking out microservices is the decoupled deployment. A heuristic is, if you have fixes/features that are waiting to be pushed to production until unrelated code is passing/QA'd, you've got a good candidate for a separate service.
mavelikara 3 days ago 1 reply      
@StabbyCutyou, how does Basho's choice of Erlang as the primary language affect it choice. My (naive) understanding is that Erlang forces one to build a single-process system as if it were a multi-process system from Day 1. Does this make the monolith -> microservices switch easier for Erlang systems than it is for others?
AdieuToLogic 3 days ago 0 replies      
While this and many other writings about microservices are largely concerned with network-based environments, there exists another microservice exemplar specific to the JVM world:


I mention it mostly to assit those wanting to explore the concept of microservices itself, as opposed to assuming a network transport is always involved. Being JVM specific, "kicking the tires" on it naturally requires that environment. Perhaps, though, some of the writings discussing it would be of benefit to those using other tech stacks.

Of course, OSGi does not preclude distributed processing (and often is employed for such).

0 - https://www.osgi.org/

1 - http://www.theserverside.com/news/1363825/OSGi-for-Beginners

vhost- 3 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't have to be messy. I've worked in monoliths that are a complete disaster. I've worked in micro-architectures that are a complete disaster. It's the same kinds of people and management practices making these disasters.

I will say the only clean systems I've worked in have been microservice oriented. All monolithic systems I've worked on never scaled properly and always had bugs with 1000 function deep stacktraces.

I've talked to people who have worked in excellent monoliths (rails and django). I know they exist.

Moral is: do it right and have good development practices.

euske 3 days ago 0 replies      
I heard about microservices about a year ago, and now it said the hype has ended before I even noticed? Admittedly I'm not in the loop, and it's hard to track all the trends from outside.
roman_sf 1 day ago 0 replies      
You need almost none of that scary list to start building microservices. Lambda functions can be created in minutes, even in UI console. And they have almost everything from that scary list by default.

Lots of people are still in denial regarding microservices...

deathanatos 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Fallacy #5: Better for Scalability

> However, its incorrect to say that you can only do this with something like a microservice. Monolithic applications work with this approach as well. You can create logical clusters of your monolith which only handle a certain subset of your traffic. For example, inbound API requests, your dashboard front end, and your background jobs servers might all share the same codebase, but you dont need to handle all 3 subsets of work on every box.

This makes little to no sense to me, and feel like we're bending the definition of "monolith" to mean "microservice" so that we can tick the bullet point. How, exactly, do I achieve this, when my code is mashed together and all running together?

I have a monolithic app today: an internal website, which is so small that it could be served (ignoring that this would make it a SPoF) from a single machine. But it's so closely bound to the rest of the system, it is stuck alongside the main API. So, it gets deployed everywhere.

If it were discrete enough that I could run and scale that internal service separately, I wouldn't be calling it a monolith. At that point, they're separate executables, and scalable independently that's practically the definition of microservice. And I can't do this if (where they need to) they don't talk over the network (one of the earlier bullet points).

ai_ja_nai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why would someone push for those "5 thruths"? The point of microservices is to ease Ops life, so that deploying is less of a "big bang"-like event and more geared towards incremental and local evolutions.
josh_carterPDX 3 days ago 1 reply      
My thought is that this comparison between a monolithic code base vs a microservices code base is a bit subjective. If you're starting out chances are your code base hasn't even gotten to the level of being monolithic. So those thinking about how they're going to architect their platform may begin to think that a microservice setup could help for future changes to their code. It really depends on each team, their background, and how they want to think about their platform in the future. To list out the pros and cons of both to draw a conclusion that one is better than the other is certainly setting a bias that I believe to be a bit unfair. Just look at Netflix and their container services. It's a platform adopted by a ton of companies including Nike. So for some a microservices approach makes a lot of sense.
ScottAS 2 days ago 0 replies      
If this person used microservices perhaps their site wouldn't be down right now...
seibelj 3 days ago 2 replies      
I swear, the HN front page algorithm is easily gamed, this gets a few points quickly and it rises straight to the front page. I don't know if HN is accounting for vote rings but some penalizing should be implemented.
gjolund 3 days ago 3 replies      
The title should be "I've never implemented microservices properly, so you should avoid them."
       cached 19 September 2016 04:11:01 GMT