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OpenAI Universe openai.com
912 points by sama  20 hours ago   117 comments top 27
llSourcell 19 hours ago 5 replies      
Hey guys, it's Siraj. OpenAI asked me to make a promotional video for it on my Youtube channel and I gladly said yes! You can check it out here:


mulcahey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
With this platform (and Gym) it seems like a large part of their strategy for "democratizing AI" is to grow the amateur research community. By making it easier for an individual to play around and conduct experiments, they are hoping enable progress to emerge from anywhere instead of just from wealthy companies and elite universities.

It is also a great way to be able to track and organize what is being created rather than having to sort through amateur projects scattered across the web or research publications that often lack accompanying code.


Some key ways they're making it easier for amateurs:

* Starting point for problems to solve

* Way to get noticed (instead of needing a university/company brand)

* Technological infrastructure for building and testing. The diversity of tools they brought together to build this platform is very impressive.

d_burfoot 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Disclaimers: I cannot see the future. These are just my opinions. I really appreciate the work and money that SamA, Elon, and others have put into the OpenAI project. The Universe work in particular might help encourage young people, many of whom love video games, to study AI.

But I feel that contrarians, such as myself, have an ethical commitment to young people to voice our doubts and criticisms, so that they can avoid making a long journey down a career/research path that leads to a dead end. That being said, I think this project leads in a very unpromising direction. Here are some reasons:

1. Games aren't a good testbed for studying intelligence. In a game the main challenge is to map an input percept to an output action (am I drifting off the side of the road? Okay swerve right). The real challenge of intelligence is to find hidden abstractions and patterns in large quantities of mostly undifferentiated data (language, vision, and science all share this goal).

2. This platform is not going to help "democratize" AI. To succeed in one of these domains, contestants will need to use VAST amounts of computing power to simulate many games and to train their DL and/or RL algos. DeepMind and others will sufficient CPU/GPU power will almost certainly dominate in all of these settings.

3. Deep Learning, as it is practiced, isn't intellectually deep. With a few exceptions, there is nothing comparable to the great discoveries of physics, not even anything comparable to the big ideas of previous AI work (A*, belief propagation, VC theory, MaxEnt, boosting, etc). Progress in DL mostly comes from architecture hacking: tweak the network setup, run the training algo, and see if we get a better result. The apparent success of DL doesn't depend on any special scientific insight, but on the fact that DL algos can run on the GPU. That, combined with the fact that, except for the GPU, Moore's Law broke down roughly 10 years ago, means that relative to everything else, DL looks amazingly successful - because all other approaches to AI are frozen in time in terms of computing power.

flaviojuvenal 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Related but slightly off-topic, there is a great sci-fi story by Ted Chiang (the same author who made the story behind Arrival film) about humans raising AIs in an artificial world. The premise is that if we want AIs to act like humans, we must teach them like we teach humans: http://subterraneanpress.com/magazine/fall_2010/fiction_the_...
state_less 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to see AI, using games, master the art of determining a depth for objects in the scene. If you ask a person, "about how far away is that car?", they often give you an okay answer that is at least in the same magnitude as the actual distance 1 m, 10 m, 100 m, 1000 m. If AI could do that, you could then navigate an environment in the real world better using only a camera or two. So you start with a virtual world that looks real, train up the bot, then use it to navigate in the real world. Has this already been accomplished?
Cybiote 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is astounding!

If requests are being taken, it would be useful to be able to search through the listed environments. And a poker environ for the internet section would be a good balance of fun, widely appreciable and a straight forward but very non-trivial environment.

soared 6 hours ago 0 replies      
http://reddit.com/r/WatchMachinesLearn is about to get a lot more popular. I can't wait. Also from the linked blog post, you can play with (against?) your agent in realtime:

>You can keep your own VNC connection open, and watch the agent play, or even use the keyboard and mouse alongside the agent in a human/agent co-op mode.

poppingtonic 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This is amazing! I was thinking of this problem when I saw a friend making a stop-motion video. The steps are super repetitive and I asked him, "maybe an DeepMind Atari-style RL agent can learn how to do this?" But I didn't want to do what DeepMind did to emulate Atari games with an Adobe editing tool. This is an experiment that I can now run.
NhanH 19 hours ago 4 replies      
This is a bit out there, but it would be fun if OpenAI can get one of the mega popular multiplayer games under this (WoW, League of Legends, DOTA etc.).

Imagine an AI team in League of Legends world championship!

shykes 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This is perhaps my favorite use of Docker ever.
minimaxir 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting announcement timing at 10:30 PM PST on a Sunday. :P

The list of third-party gaming partners is extremely impressive, and a Docker config helps resolve the dependency hell that some of the AI packages require.

jclay 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I noticed the OpenAI team wrote their own VNC driver in Go for performance reasons[0].

I would love to hear more about how they were able to achieve increased performance over other VNC drivers.


CodinM 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll just go on a limb and consider this to be fucking awesome.
grondilu 19 hours ago 0 replies      
All the listed PC games environments are tagged as "coming-soon"


noobermin 13 hours ago 1 reply      
>other applications

Any applications with a keyboard and mouse? Can I use emacs and have it start learning to code?

cing 19 hours ago 2 replies      
End game; I'd really like an AI agent for "in real life" tabletop games (like boardgames).
jakozaur 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Browser tasks seems to be a greenfield field with amazing potential.

What if AI can do anything what can human do you with a browser over the phone?

Also love "bring your own Docker container format".

aratno 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I just hope no self-driving vehicle is applying anything learned in GTA.
swah 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Layman question: isn't adjusting "hyperparameters" similar to writing a algorithm for playing a game, using human intelligence?

Related to the blog post: https://openai.com/blog/universe/

mariusz79 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I might be wrong but I think this was created mainly to monitor progress in AI research. If someone uses OpenAI Universe and can get better results than virtually everyone else, they will be able to get to them first.
BaronSamedi 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Unless I missed something it looks like the AI has to learn from screen pixels instead of getting game state data. I don't like that approach at all. I understand that it's easy to implement for OpenAI but I think having the game developers provide a real bot-capable API is much better. I hope the latter is what Blizzard will provide for their DeepMind collaboration.
iotb 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Does OpenAI Universe communicate in any way with OpenAI remotely regarding activity in OpenAI Universe? Essentially, are there any call-home aspects to the code base? Or, is it possible to run this locally without any outside communication?

If there is remote communication, can you detail why and where it exists in code?

mrfusion 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the users ai responsible for parsing the screen pixels that come back or does each game give you relevant events?
NamTaf 13 hours ago 3 replies      
From my initial reading, the end user can't create environments? Is that a feature that I can expect will eventually come?
naveen99 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Too bad Iphone doesn't support a vnc server.Would be nice to add some android apps if they could get permission.
daveloyall 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Didn't we all agree to NOT let the AGI out of its box?

...That being said...

Instead of presenting the agent with a 2d plane of pixels, they should be presented with a sphere of pixels, with their POV inside.

Hydraulix989 19 hours ago 2 replies      
What is state of the art in reinforcement learning right now?


Is there a way to deal with "sparse" training data (state, action, reward) triples -- sparse in "state"?

Amazon Go amazon.com
1193 points by mangoman  12 hours ago   935 comments top 116
nihonde 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
This strikes me as yet another over-engineered workaround for a problem with society. In Japan, I rarely wait in line at a grocery store or convenience store. If I do, it's a short wait, and my interactions with the staff often brighten my day a little bit.

Why is Japan different? For one thing, they use a checkout system that is designed to move lines quickly. Two employees can work concurrently, one ringing up a customer and the other handling money exchange with another customer. Customers do their own bagging in a seperate area. The POS system takes cash in and spits out the correct change, and also handles IC cards, credit cards, Apple Pay, etc seamlessly and usually without requiring anything more than a PIN at most. And of course, customers can prepare exact change or get their cards out and place it on the tray while the cashier is still ringing them up. And the final, most important element is the people--polite, attentive, careful, and professional. Cashiers are trained to call out every item and price, and offer extras such as ice packs for cold items, dry ice for ice cream, utensils for ready to eat items, and so on. A quick, efficient, pleasant interaction that ends with a bow and a gracious thank you goes a long way toward encouraging everyone to treat each other well. And, by the way, the money that would be sunk into Amazon's infrastructure and inevitable support services goes to keeping people in jobs.

elicash 11 hours ago 24 replies      
I worked at a grocery store for several years, and one thing I recall is customers CONSTANTLY putting items back in a random aisle, rather than where they found it.

I wonder how this tech deals with that? Maybe they figured that out, too. But I was amused in the video when I saw the customer putting it back where it belonged, because that's not how I remember that going...

All that said, this is fantastic and exciting.

Edit: I also hope they're already thinking about EBT cards and WIC.

Merad 11 hours ago 10 replies      
I hate it when companies offer a "how this works" section that doesn't actually tell you a damned thing about how it works.

* How does my Amazon account get associated with the items I take?

* How are items detected when leaving the store? If my friend and I walk out side by side, how does it know (if it does) which items are mine and which are hers?

* What happens when someone picks up an item and leaves without first doing whatever check-in/registration/setup is necessary?

delegate 9 hours ago 70 replies      
Look, I know this might not be a popular view here on HN, but I think this is useless. And bad.

I'm not talking about the technology behind it (I think it's an amazing achievement)..

I live in Barcelona and I have at least 5 medium-sized supermarkets within 5 minutes walking distance from my home. Plus there are several smaller shops that sell fruits and vegetables.

I know all the people who work in these supermarkets. The cashier in the supermarket downstairs always sings a quiet song while she scans my products, she knows my daughter and she's always nice and friendly.

The cashier in the other store talks to the customers. She stops scanning and starts talking while the line waits. Some customers might join the conversation. I know she has an old cat that eats an unlimited amount of food if allowed to do so...

There are similar stories about other shops in the neighbourhood - they come to work, they serve the people in the neighbourhood, they go home. They do this until they retire.

These people like their jobs because we respect them for what they do, so they feel useful and they work hard.

I don't mind waiting in line for 3 minutes. Or 5. It's never longer than that, even if the cashier discusses the latest news with the old lady.

The humanity of it has value for us here and that value is greater than the time we'd save by removing the people from the shops.

Someone1234 11 hours ago 15 replies      
Companies have been discussing "checkout-less" stores since forever, but nobody has been brave enough to do it due to the perceived threat of shoplifting.

And while shoplifting is a legitimate threat, are non-shoplifters going to be turned into shoplifters without a checkout? Are normal shoplifters stopped by checkouts? These are the core questions, and until it is tested nobody will know for sure.

Target is getting awfully close to this. With their Cartwheel app you're meant to scan all your items as you shop (so it auto-applies coupons and discounts); but they haven't taken it to the next logical step and allowed you to provide your Cartwheel output at the checkout for checking out.

I will say that the way Target has implemented smartphone barcode scanning makes me think that there might be a future in all this. It is extremely painless, they just need to stop kicking you out of the scan screen when it finds a discount (i.e. it doesn't kick you out if no discount is found, but does when a discount IS found, that's problematic for efficiency reasons).

vyrotek 11 hours ago 6 replies      
They will most certainly be tracking a lot more than just you picking up your item. The data they collect about shopping behavior will be interesting.

Like, how long I hesitated before I picked up something, what I had already in my "cart" at the time, what deals I looked at but passed on, etc.

spyckie2 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's my speculation on the technology behind it:

Tracking. A lot of tracking.

You don't need deep learning and car sensor technology to do simple rfid tag pick up/drop offs to detect what you have in your cart.

No, this technology probably fully tracking your every movement in the store. It may use rfid tags to detect what you have, but that is not the main tech.

When you walk in and scan your phone, a camera array will scan you to create a footprint on who you are and link it to your ID. Then your every movement will be tracked by various cameras throughout the store.

You walked 3 steps, took a step back and looked at the advertising on the right? We recorded it.

You went to the cereal aisle first? Picked up a box of cereal and then put it back in favor of another one? Yup, we recorded it too.

If this is indeed the case, then the correctness of what is in your shopping cart is going to be very, very high and there will be no need for an honor system, randomized checks, or other mechanisms to prevent inaccuracies.

Shoplifters will probably get away with the first shoplifting but will probably get profiled immediately and unable to do it multiple times.

helipad 11 hours ago 7 replies      
Technology aside, shoppers are going to feel so weird doing this at the beginning.

There's already social anxiety when people pay for things and walk past a security guard, or a security barrier. Whether it's an airport, or a clothes store, or a ticket barrier, there's always a nervousness about being called out.

It's bad enough in the Apple Store where you can pay and walk out, this will take some real getting used to.

blackaspen 11 hours ago 6 replies      
Here's an ad from IBM circa 2006 predicting(?) this:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eob532iEpqk

Crazy to think we're actually here now. And even sans-RFID.

patrickg 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Not many comments about privacy. This is how I see it: You are identified when you enter the shop and amazon knows exactly the products you buy.

If you have the choice to buy or not to buy at the shop, that's fine, it is your decision. But let's imagine that in the not so far future, all shops in your neighborhood are like this. No way to go shopping whithout given exact trace of you, your location, the stuff you buy, the time you buy, the amount of food etc.

We all know that too much data is not good for us (yes, I am looking at you, my government).

While I like the idea of not standing in a line and wait, I really wish that these shops offer a prepaid anonymous card for those who don't want to be totally tracked.

bennettfeely 9 hours ago 3 replies      
What happens when my phone battery runs out while shopping in the store?

What happens if I don't replace an item in the exact same place I picked it up? I'm charged for it I assume.

How do you purchase produce or vegetables, all these thing need to be packaged individually I assume. So much for concern for the environment...

Is the occasional line in a store really worth having your every movement tracked by Amazon and your image taken throughout your time at this store? Sounds like a store straight out of 1984.

Are you poor or without "a supported smartphone"? Forget about it.

Amazon is a company that tries new things and that's good, but here we have yet another example of tech nerds "solving" a problem that doesn't exist.

tom_pei 9 hours ago 0 replies      
So it seems that most people assume that this kind of shop is a replacement to major grocery stores. I dont think that this is what their initial customer base is going to be. I see this more inline with "Fresh & Easy" kind of markets where on the go customers can just stop by for a quick bite or a quick pick up of resources like a 7/11 or something similar. I can see that they may want to expand to supermarkets but I think this is more addressing the quick easy supermarket market and focusing on easy pickups rather then full fledged supermarkets for all grocery needs. I may have missed something but that would be the most logical and successful way for Amazon to introduce this technology.
owenversteeg 10 hours ago 4 replies      
How has nobody mentioned the worry that you'll get overcharged? I'm sure computer vision isn't perfect, however close it may be, and once you've left the store (presumably when you'd check your receipt) there's no way to prove you didn't take whatever you were charged for. I'd be pretty worried about accidentally "buying" something I didn't actually take, even if that's statistically unlikely. (Yeah, I know, it doesn't make sense to worry about a 1 in 10,000 event, but people aren't rational.)

Or, if they decide to side with the consumer and give you your money back, then that opens them up to theft - go in, buy stuff, "oh I didn't buy $expensive_item!", get money.

jtcond13 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Your periodic reminder that 'retail salesperson' is the most common job in America (~4.5 million).


excalibur 11 hours ago 5 replies      
What happens when you don't have enough money available to Amazon to cover all the things you grabbed? Do they give you a window to return items before banning you from the store and/or notifying police?
MatekCopatek 11 hours ago 2 replies      
When I started reading the description, I thought: "someone finally delivered on that RFID pitch of just walking out of the store". Was surprised that it's actually computer vision.
JackFr 11 hours ago 1 reply      
What do you do with your children? What about your non-Amazon co workers who came out with you to get lunch? Do they stand on the sidewalk while you shop? Do you swipe them in? Do they get swiped in as guests (who then shoplift cupcakes?)

Don't get me wrong -- this is exciting and impressive -- but needing to swipe in to enter a store is, I think, a very significant change to how we think of stores as public places.

halotrope 11 hours ago 1 reply      
So technically they built something to automatically detect shoplifting (but charge to customer in the process).

If this worked in generic stores they could make a killing with theft detection services.

syphilis2 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This has been in the eye of retailers for a long time (such as the bar code scanner guns some stores let shoppers use) in part because it makes it very easy for shoppers to (over)spend. Retailers are always looking to eliminate barriers to customers purchasing things. Amazon has a few convenient innovations that make shopping faster: one click purchases, subscription services, the dash button, and possibly one day a grab-n-go grocery. This post doesn't intend to demonize Amazon, these are all innovations that make shopping easier, but I think it's good financially for customers to be cognizant of how this convenience impacts behavior.
ChaseT 7 hours ago 0 replies      
NPR's Planet Money podcast did a story two months ago with the inventor of the self checkout machine, Howard Schneider.

At the end of the end of the episode he was asked what his "dream" supermarket would be, and he said one where people don't have to check items out. They walk in, grab something, walk out, and are automatically charged.

This seems to be exactly what Amazon has done. Pretty amazing to see the realization of his dream be announced only two months after his interview.

tristanho 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning."

Very interesting choice of comparison ha... I suppose this is Amazon trying to attract the tech crowd? It almost sounds satirical.

Not to downplay the tech -- this looks incredible.

MertsA 10 hours ago 2 replies      
So what happens when someone asks a good samaritan to help them get some expensive item off of a high shelf? How does this deal with things like a couple shopping together, one with an Amazon account and one without where both of them are getting items off of the shelves?

Even if all of the video was monitored by a human I can still envision several pitfalls to this where it's hard to know who to bill for what without interacting with the customer.

kennystone 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The queues at stores have always been the worst part of the experience. You put stuff in a bag, which is effectively a queue, then you wait in a line - a human queue, then you de-queue your cart on a belt, which is another queue, it gets scanned item by item and then placed right back into a similar bag to where it started. Good job Amazon for finally working to eliminate the queues.
sytse 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is amazing, I admire Amazon for their boldness. It seems very practical for users. I assume that you can dispute charges with the app and that they store the footage of you to resolve disputes. I'm sure they'll need some times to tune the algorithms. But disputing a charge via an app is better than to wait in line. Kudos to Amazon for innovating.
20tibbygt06 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What happens when parents walk in with kids? Does little Bobby need his own account for everything he's going to touch and pickup?

What if I walk in with a friend on our way to somewhere else and they don't have an account and I'm just getting something quick, do they not get in and wait outside? Everybody in the video was just one person or all had an account/phone.

Overall, I hope this works and expands. Checkout lines can be a hassle at times.

tdaltonc 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Is the basic idea that there are cameras everywhere and they watch and record everything you touch?

Now I can't stop thinking about the behavioral analytics. Can they get rough pupil dilation data? I'm sure they can get facial expressions and maybe gaze tracking.

Next step is using kiva bots to rearrange/restock the isles when no one is looking.

iainmerrick 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It's amazing how this combines just about every cutting-edge trend and hot topic in technology, both good and bad:

- Elimination of low-level jobs

- Elimination of cash

- Deep surveillance (cameras everywhere, online tracking)

- Assuming it works, it will seem pretty magical!

(edit: formatting)

mrcabada 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems easy to outsmart or confuse.

What if I go with someone that doesn't have an Amazon Go account grabs some stuff for me and throw it to me?

Or how about I go with someone that has an Amazon Go account too and we divide in two, he goes for the milks I go for the cereals. We meet just before the "check-out" and he gives me my milk I give him his cereal.

I'd need to know more about the technical stuff to know how it could be confused, or to know if it's even possible to.

rewrew 8 hours ago 0 replies      
A bunch of grocery stores here on the West Coast are replacing their self checkout lines and going back to checkers. They're saying that it's to "improve the customer experience" but people in the industry know (due to tests done by other retailers who bypassed the technology once they tested it, like Costco), its because of product loss/shoplifting. I know it's not apples and oranges but I do think that the loss margin is going to be so high on this that only Amazon will be able to eat this -- and I think they know this.
teaearlgraycold 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Am I normally unaware of Amazon's new products, or have they been releasing an abnormally high amount of new offerings recently?
makecheck 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder how much extra revenue a typical store can expect from the impulse buy sections at checkout counters? Unless the entire exit to the store is littered with impulse-buy displays, they might be losing that chunk of revenue and have to make up for it somehow.

Also, it already seemed more convenient to not go to the store in the first place (ordering online), especially for the kinds of items in packages that would work well at this type of store. The missing convenience was one that store employees could give you: let you pick out the fresh things you want (like produce and baked goods) and have someone box those up for you and even ship them to your house.

jedberg 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I suspect during the beta they've asked their employees to try and steal things amd move things to the wrong place -- really push the software.

At least I hope they did. I assume they are going into this expecting a loss while they work out the kinks.

microDude 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Ok Amazon, why not do this?

Skip the whole stocked shelf thing entirely. Have a website setup that customers can build a shopping cart, then just show up and pickup their "pre-bagged" groceries. The benefits to this are obvious.

1) No shop lifting.2) Car friendly (you could have multiple drive-thru pickup lines)3) Convenience for the shopper (saved lists, common items, don't have to walk around the store)4) The store, could just effectively be a warehouse.5) Possible to automate almost all of the work.

And before you say "what about produce?". Well, you could have a automated "imaging" station upon goods receipt that customers could use when building their cart. Or, offer really good return policies. Either way, the convenience would far outweigh the produce problem.

jakozaur 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Wow. So groceries without checkout.

I thought that at some point RFID would replace barcodes providing similar experience. However, this system claim to be based on cameras and image recognition.

CodeSheikh 10 hours ago 7 replies      
Guys this is not good. As much as I love the convenience of pick-and-go, this eventually will prove out to be drastic for a variety of bad socioeconomic reasons, that most of us are already aware of. Small businesses were already suffering at the hands of Amazon Prime. Now Amazon Go wants to not only kick out those businesses out of the block but it also wants to take away jobs of small retail salesperson. Unacceptable. This can perhaps work at Amazon headquarters but I hope, I really hope it does not make its way to major metro cities like NYC and if it does then Amazon should promise to create certain number of jobs and revenue that it intends to displace. Just because an average reader of HN does not do such jobs or had held such jobs for only a brief period in his/her life, this does not mean that lot of people don't rely on such small time jobs for their livelihood.

Places I can see this working are with low footprints such as cafes at hospitals etc.

Amazon Go, please Go away.

Updated: Grammar correction.

masthead 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If there's an Amazon employee who has visited the store, please tell us the experience.
oaktowner 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting that they say "Amazon Go is currently open to Amazon employees in our Beta program, and will open to the public in early 2017."

Generally "beta" implies that non-employees are using it. This is more of a dogfooding program (though maybe they wanted to avoid that term since they're selling human food this way!).

Keverw 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this idea! I hate how stores only have like 1 or 2 registers opened.

I wonder how it would react to a family shopping, is it tracking people or the bag? Hopefully it'd bill who ever has the bag in case your kid puts in a bunch of junk food. Supporting carts for larger purchases seems like somthing is missing.

But yeah I love this. I hope we move towards the future when repetitive jobs are all automated and we have some sort of basic income. So the human race can be more innovative and everyone can unlock their true potential instead of being a corporate drones for a job they never liked and can't figure out how to get out of it.

Edit: Wanted to add real quick - as things do get more automated. I do hope there's a easy way to get ahold of human in case of things acting up or if you just need some help. I know tons of sites seem to not even provide support or make it super hard to even find a contact. Amazon itself seems to have good support from what I've heard, never really had to use it but in general companies should focus on support also, with or without automation. Just seems like somthing generally lacking to me in the tech industry.

lsiebert 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this potentially ignores the needs of disabled shoppers who rely on supermarket workers.

What if you have mobility issues and need someone to grab items for you? What if you have vision issues and need someone to read an ingredient list?

jonlucc 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It already feels very weird to me to walk into an Apple store, check out on my own phone, and just walk out with product. This will take some getting used to.
jaypaulynice 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm guessing it's not as simple as they make it look in the video...unless the food tags have some kind of RFID/Bluetooth to communicate with the phone in your pocket...maybe the grocery bags? Even with cashiers sometimes they don't know what the price is...also some things are sold by the pounds...where is the scale? What if you pay then walk back in again? You get double charged?
edkennedy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What I like about this is it encourages the European style of grocery shopping. That is, visiting a grocery store daily to make dinner with fresher foods. The longer the lines, wait, and commute, the larger grocery orders will get and the further people are pushed towards Costco style grocery purchasing.
SonicSoul 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this could work if cart or your app confirms your selection before checkout. Otherwise people would be too stressed out / unsure about discounted items to roll the dice.
kowdermeister 10 hours ago 0 replies      
RFID alone is not enough. It must have some kind of video tracking component to it, otherwise I could easily fabricate a Faraday cage inside my bag and just leave with the goods.
SCHiM 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Haha yes, hackers are going to have a field day with this!! I'm sure it's good enough for users which don't actively try to game the system through technical means, but I suspect it won't stand a chance against someone who's taken the time to understand and undermine the system.

On another more on-topic note, what an awesome time to be alive! :) When I was younger concepts like this were usually paired with flying cars and space travel in cartoons, but now it's real.

vit05 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What I do not understand is: Why do they need to know that it was me who got something off the shelf?They need to know when something has left the shelf, so they can refuel, and they need to know when something leaves the store, so they can charge.

But do they really need to know when you pull out an item and then give up buying it?

superuser2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
The futuristic supermarket I imagined as a kid was a warehouse-scale vending machine. Robotic carts roll down the aisles on tracks, and the shelves push the requested items out onto them. You show up after that's done and collect your cart.

Probably need some human labor for the produce section.

This is interesting but the checkout line is nothing compared to the time in the aisles.

dmvaldman 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is this a machine learning problem? Why not use some low-power tag for items, and scan all items on customer exit?

Personal opinion: Amazon is not interested in creating supermarkets/wal-marts. Instead it wants to sell an ML solution to other brick & mortar stores, and this current effort is to prove plausibility. Selling an ML solution, with cameras and software, is harder to compete with than a tagging solution (especially if based on open and accessible hardware).

xs 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If I bring the whole family shopping with me, does everyone need a phone app and stuff?
Roritharr 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting, i've read about these Store Concepts for years as Test Projects from Rewe in Germany, but they never rolled them out widely. Probably sticking RFID on everything was too expensive. This camera based solution might be better suited for a wide rollout.
shaydoc 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously, this will basically make lots of low skill workers redundant. Yes it fabulous innovation, but surely automation along these lines is dangerous for the fabric of society.When I say this, I mean, whats the plan for dealing with all the lay offs caused by tech automation ?
highprofit 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is impressive. How did it know which products were inside the woman's shopping bag? As customer grabs items how does it associate the items to that customer's virtual cart instantly? Aren't customers supposed to scan the products?
rad_gruchalski 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout?"

And yet they're not first doing this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3465767/Now-s...

xaduha 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Supermarket retail has razor thin margins, last I heard. If it's going to save money in the long run, then it's the future.
pjc50 11 hours ago 0 replies      
So it's a surveillance scheme good enough to track every product on every shelf?
ISNIT 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"No lines"I'm just imagining a huge group of people standing by the door waiting to download the app so they can buy eggs.
glup 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If the justification for merging the produce stand, bakery, fishmonger, butcher, etc. into one is the efficiency of a shared POS and delivery system, this could provide the justification for splitting them back out, at least in upscale markets. Rather than cashiers, you would have "consultants." And you get richer data for supply chain decisions.
Sir_Cmpwn 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I only run open source software on my phone. I can't wait for the day when I can't even buy groceries without a proprietary app.
nether 6 hours ago 0 replies      
31reasons 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon "All Store Jobs" Go! Not sure how new administration going to respond to this.
richartruddie 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I embrace and trust all that Amazon does. As Jeff Bezos is proud of saying (not direct quote): you're not failing you're not trying enough difficult things.
bluelu 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Maybe they also weight you when enter and leave the store. They can then cross check your weight with the weight of the items you have bought.
sndean 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Other interesting possible implications of this:

1) The inability to pay with cash (or debit, or check, etc..).2) No need to carry any form of money in the store.

Taken to an extreme where every store runs this way, will people have a need for cash, credit cards, or anything else? Why not just have your bank account attached to your Amazon (and every other account) and have money taken out directly?

agentgt 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I know this is fairly impossible in urban areas but I find myself shopping much more frequently in what I call grocery farms. If you live in affluent suburbias I'm sure you have seen them. They are basically high end grocery stores that sells the produce they grow along with other things they buy from other local farms. Some of the produce is grown inside and seasonal things are grown outside.

Yeah some of them are just for show and an excuse to sell high end stonewall kitchen stuff but others actually grow their own stuff or sell other farms stuff.

The problem with local food (produce and meat) is that they are often not in plastic containers (which I prefer). It looks like Amazon Go requires very prepackaged stuff.

I really would love to see someway to have more farm+grocery stores (that is grow right in the store or very near by). Figuring out a way (even if it requires some GMO) to grow food right in the store would be an amazing thing for the environment, health, and food quality.

The other things is I know people are in a rush with everything but over the last few years I find grocery shopping rather cathartic and I think people used to enjoy grocery shopping (you know go to the butcher and then to the baker kind of european lifestyle). It is shame we have to make something even more "on the go" that I'm not sure needs to be.

mrfusion 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really exciting. I've always wanted to see this.

It makes me wonder someday if money will be completely invisible.

8draco8 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks cool but one major question:

Who can go in to the store? If only people that have phone + app then technically I can't go in with my wife, allow her to pick and choose her yogurt while I'm looking for a coffee, put our groceries in to one bag and pay for it from my account.

warrenmiller 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The future is now! This advert 10 years ago:https://youtu.be/pmAr23yZP9Y
zouhair 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice and all but I don't want a store to get my personal info just so I can shop at their place.
bhewes 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I can see this being useful by freeing up staff to provide value added services instead of being stuck at the register. I can see stores having category experts.
yalogin 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is what people expected when RFID technology came up. They somehow thought its going to be this panacea but quickly realized its not. Amazon might have the solution but I can't say unless I see the implementation.
koolba 11 hours ago 0 replies      
How do they know you're you? Do you scan your phone on the way in / out and get tracked via RFID or do they do facial recognition?

If it's the latter there's no way I'd use something like this. I love Amazon (as a retail customer) and AWS, but no way I'm self registering my face with them.

Blue3Wheeler 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this technology is something our society doesn't need in this moment. Reducing jobs only because people can't wait in the line is not a big step to humanity. We need to see what are the consequences for future generations instead of trying to look "futuristic".
vlunkr 9 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone who regularly takes kids to the grocery store, this would be a nightmare. You'd get charged for every random thing your kid decided to pull off a shelf and stuff somewhere else. Unless their AI ignores kids or something.
throw7 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is bad. I can't really support this because it requires a smartphone. And it literally looks like you must have the Amazon Go app to enter the store. No.
kristofferR 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It's really weird that the prices are printed on paper labels. Why aren't they digital?

I guess it's not that big of an issue though, since this is a single store and not a chain. The employees need stuff to do.

deusofnull 10 hours ago 1 reply      
What happens if someone sneaks into the store without an amazon account and walks right the hell out with whatever they want? Not a criticism, just curious what we speculate the theft prevention systems used here might be.
celticninja 8 hours ago 0 replies      
im not sure this is a problem that needed to be solved. The issue of ordering groceries has been solved by existing supermarkets, in my case i can order everything I need on a weekly basis from Tesco for a small delivery fee. The last thing i want to do is go back to shopping in store, there are smaller local shops for little items but i cant see me using Amazon go in lieu of my existing grocery store that delivers.
mholmes680 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I would have liked to be in the scrum meeting, and proposed the David Blaine use-case.
carrja99 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh lame I was expecting this to be an announcement of Go support on AWS Lambda.
learned 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I got excited when I thought this would be about Go usage on AWS, but this is way cooler.
sytelus 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon app currently already has barcode scanning. My guess is that they are replacing POS with app. If you think about it no one needs those arcane point of sell machines because smartphones can do scanning as well as payment processing. The only thing left is detecting unscanned items which is fairly well solved problem using RFIDs. May be later can be combined as well with measuring weight of person identified when entering.

This is brilliant as-in how no one else thought about it. Lot of small shops have limit on their open schedule because of staffing issues. I am assuming Amazon will set up few experimental shops and then sell technology to other stores. This can certainly revolutionize retail if they persist on executing right.

estrabd 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Alert, alert you are too poor to be in here."
rmurthy 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What happens if my smartphone is switched off after I enter the retail warehouse?
clifanatic 11 hours ago 0 replies      
So, you drive around trying to catch Amazons on your phone?
jefe_ 7 hours ago 0 replies      
amazon go skydive - just hop on the plane!

amazon go swim - just dive right in!

amazon go kennels - just drop and drive!

amazon go restoration hardware - good luck!

amazon go lite - just grab and checkout and go!

amazon go guns - just grab and go!

i assume they will eventually open this up to other retailers / service providers?

losteverything 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The packaging or company that creates products conducive to "go" (cashierless) will be required for chains like walmart.
malditojavi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Now the question is: would Bezos keep this tech for himself or give access to it to other big retailers?
mooveprince 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is cool. Interested to know how customers can return their product once they come out of the store. Just place it back ?
dingdongding 8 hours ago 0 replies      
How does this scale. Would camera be able to follow 100 people at the same time?
hellbanner 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it use a phone app & GPS/NFC for knowing when to charge the customer?
anacleto 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Software is eating the world and Amazon is eating software.
josephby 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Why announce this 3 months ahead of the scheduled opening?
smcg 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So how long before someone starts claiming this is the mark of the beast?
acomar 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how they plan to deal with fraud... some kind of check-in process instead?
junke 10 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot safer than the "Just Run Out" low-tech approach.
edward 7 hours ago 0 replies      
How does Amazon Go handle alcohol sales?
retube 9 hours ago 2 replies      
why is "deep learning" and "computer vision" required here? Surely a RFID tag on each item would suffice?
alvil 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm going to be depressed. Stamped Sheeps.
sevmardi 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Someone cares to explain the technology behind this?
ta11ey 9 hours ago 0 replies      
1 million Merits.
lexap 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Selfycart's valuation just skyrocketed.
throwaway77127 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If the merchandise is as bad as the books they ship (faded pages, water damage, ..), no thanks.

I don't need Deep Learning[tm] when I go to a supermarket. Also, they should really have integrated The Blockchain[tm] in the buzzwords.

Nevertheless, this is good for Bitcoin.

cwkoss 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I wear a Jeff Bezos mask into the store to get free groceries?
estrabd 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What Would Glenda Do?
ocdtrekkie 11 hours ago 3 replies      
My first thought is: I don't have a supported smartphone.

The current checkout process entails the acceptance of common legal tender, but this process will require I have their app, and presumably allow it quite a bit of tracking permission.

A cool demo, sure, but I think I'll stick to shopping like the normal folks.

Blue3Wheeler 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This encourages consumerism. It will be hard to take a count of what you're spending. While I wait in the line I always rethink about what I'm buying, sometimes I realize I'm buying something I don't need.
samstave 8 hours ago 0 replies      

What if I have a large shopping run, like for Thanksgiving? I have a ~$400 cart worth of loot. Where will I sort and bag my goods?

They should make Amazon Go like a 7-11 rather than a Whole Foods.

Are the item prices any less?

hourislate 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I like to take my time shopping. Look around read labels, check what are people are buying.

The part that kills me is checking out. I have always wondered why the cart can't scan your items and when you push it through a reader at checkout it just has everything totaled and charges you. The cashier can now bag your groceries. You could even have the cart recheck your purchase amount when the items are removed to be packed.

Someone out there hurry up and figure out the details :)

kesor 10 hours ago 0 replies      
About time.
HillaryBriss 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the video. But I wonder where they put all the middle aged and elderly customers. Probably in the food.
thesimpsons1022 9 hours ago 0 replies      
this is great! since the election my one purpose in life has been to automate every job of the "white working class" because of what they've decided to do to us. With this and Otto and Uber it won't be long.
anonbanker 9 hours ago 2 replies      
slaveofallah93 8 hours ago 3 replies      
TurboHaskal 11 hours ago 1 reply      
pierre_d528 10 hours ago 1 reply      

 1984 anyone?

colept 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Shut up and take my money.
Tell HN: Political Detox Week No politics on HN for one week
1321 points by dang  7 hours ago   910 comments top 292
nneonneo 6 hours ago 10 replies      
Many of the top-level comments here are against this move. I, on the other hand, would like to express my strong support for this move.

Hacker News has never been an anything-goes site. Tight moderation, considerate rules, and low tolerance for bullshit have made this a great site to talk about interesting technical topics and ideas. Remember that we all abide by the rules of the site, and that this isn't a magic free speech zone. If you want to talk political topics, the Internet has more than enough outlets.

Political discourse is antithetical to rational, intelligent discussion. This is not an opinion; look only to sites that allow political discourse (Slashdot?), or even our own comments to see how quickly rational discussion can devolve into flaming. One of the major selling points when I introduce HN to other people is the _absence_ of political topics or discussion: leaving the politics out just produces better technical content.

Also, please consider the idea that politics are regional and differ between countries. In Canada, where I'm from, many of the US political topics would never come up; many European countries might feel even more strongly. As a Canadian, I find American political musings and arguments even less relevant and noisy. By contrast, technological topics are always interesting to me - I can appreciate these, and I love that there's this corner of the Internet where I can participate in a reasoned, interesting technical community. Please don't ruin it with politics, especially the polarizing American variant.

I appreciate that the site is willing to take this step, and I sincerely hope it can keep this site useful, interesting and level-headed for the future.

idlewords 5 hours ago 10 replies      
This is a terrible decision. The tech industry has built powerful tools of social control, and runs vast databases of private data on pretty much everyone in the country. We have a golden period of forty-some days before a new administration comes to power that has shown every intent of using that information to deport people and create a national Muslim registry.

We need to be talking about the political implications of what we've built, and figuring out how to fix our mess. This is like the period before the hurricane: everyone should be busy boarding up windows, and you can't do that if you decide you're just not going to talk about the coming storm because it makes you feel bad.

minimuffins 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The idea that we can carve out a space that exists outside of politics and ideology is delusional.

Ideology is present everywhere. It's built in to the ways we relate to each other, to our employers, to the public and private institutions and technologies we interact with all the time, and especially the way we work and conceive of work. Ideology is often tacit, baked into our assumptions even in "non-political" areas.

Squelching political discussion won't cause us all to transcend ideology, it'll just make it impossible to discuss or critique a dominant ideology whenever one shows up in someone's unstated assumptions.

This is a bad idea and a little dystopian (the world is upside down, but think happy thoughts, folks! Here's a TED talk!)

Not to mention I didn't really see a huge problem on the site, so in a time when politics and ideology are on everyone's minds for good reason, it seems you've chosen to solve a non-problem with censorship.

tarikjn 7 hours ago 33 replies      
I find this experiment a bit strange/disturbing, avoiding political subjects is a way of putting the head in the sand. HN is a community of hackers and entrepreneurs and politics affects these subjects one way or another wether we want to avoid it or not, and are an important component of entrepreneurial and technical subjects. It might be fine if HN was a scientific community, but it is not the case, and even then politics do interact with science, as one can conduct scientific experiments on government decisions, or politics can attack scientific community positions (e.g. climate change).

The way this sounds is that you are more concerned about politics as in people who take party positions and may feel excluded as a group when the majority of the community takes a different position. This is a slightly different issue i.e. party politics, and I think it is fine/a good thing, but it is also important to distinguish the two. This should essentially be under the same umbrella as personal attacks, as they are essentially the same thing.

opsiprogram 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
While I see the point, and I can agree with the points made that HN shouldn't be a "battlefield" for person opinion, I cannot accept that we will concede politics to be a topic to be too difficult for discussion, difficult conversations are the most important ones to have.

In the view you've put forward, you say that politics is the problem, a topic that when discussed causes fights and it can damage the culture of HN. I disagree. If we don't know how to talk about politics with strangers, we stop trying to persuade each other, and we bottle up our disagreement, and we go online and yell at someone else, or we vote for the candidate who screams our view... because we don't know how else to express it, to find the nuance in it, and ask ourselves hard questions. We'd rather have an opinion than not stand for something. All of the flaming is a way of expressing it...

We can suppress the conversations on HN to focus only on specific science or technology, but on a technology website in this age, and right now that seems like we'd be the website equivalent of a child covering their ears when they don't want to hear something. Blockchain tech, cryto, AI, mesh networking, job loss from automation, cyberwar, Quantum C. Seems incorrect to suggest that technology and politics can be separated easily (especially at a big picture).

Of course this is the internet, people come here to troll and fight. But we as individuals can always walk away. We can douse the flames by not engaging in it ourselves. We can always handle a conversation with care, it's not the topic that is emotional, it's us. It isn't up to the community to stop people from talking about touchy subjects, so that we all get along, it's up to us to learn how to talk about these things better. On the net, just like in the world.

The experiment shouldn't be to stop political discourse, but encourage it. See where we go, go forth and be critical thinkers and talk about the hardest topics facing human civ right now. Lets see what happens. Maybe that is naive, but we gotta start somewhere. Discouraging the conversation isn't a start, its an end.

rustyfe 7 hours ago 8 replies      
One question that interests/concerns me is making judgement calls about what is/is not a political story.

Some links will be cut and dry, some will not. Some comments will be immediately identified as political, some will just be politics adjacent.

For instance, on a story about self driving cars, will it be appropriate to talk about UBI? On a story about cryptography, will it be acceptable to talk about how it applies to political dissidents?

Still, I have always found HN moderation to be reasonable, and I expect this to be the same. This is also something I think is desperately needed, we could all use a cooling off period, and it'll be nice not to be bombarded with US politics from yet another angle.

Hoping for the best, thanks dang + crew!

lsy 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The idea that you can somehow separate "political" from "non-political" stories seems poorly-thought-out and censorious. Who will make these decisions? It seems clear that many posts that are nominally "about tech and only tech" are pushing some political viewpoint, whether it be the benefits of mass computerization, workaholic tips and tricks, or protection from civil rights violations using encryption.

HN pretends to be largely apolitical, but the quick disappearance of certain threads or topics seems to show that it has a heavy slant towards a sort of techno-utopian quasi-libertarianism that wants to work its way out of challenges to its ideas by sort of putting its fingers in its ears. Instead of attempting to "depoliticize" itself, maybe HN should spend time developing a better understanding and clarification of the extremely political stance it takes every day?

kristianc 5 hours ago 2 replies      
It's not possible for HN to have "no political position" on issues such as tech.

As the Amazon Go thread, and this comment from PG demonstrate, the default position - where there is no discussion of race / gender / class / diversity - is for the protections that minority groups enjoy to disappear.

Either because no-one thinks to protect them (as white working classes feel has happened to them) or because SV bigwigs see those protections as an inconvenient fact that should be swept away by technological disruption.

pg: "Any industry that still has unions has potential energy that could be released by startups."


It's a fallacy to think that HN and hackers can somehow obsolve themselves from that responsibility any more than it thinks it can obsolve itself from responsibility toward homeless in SF.

By all means take the decision you feel you need to to maintain your community - but don't under any circumstances pretend it's a politically neutral one because it just cannot be.

bargl 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm seeing a lot of people say this is a bad idea. I completely disagree. TL;DR; If HN is your only news source, you have bigger issues than this experiment, go subscribe to another source of political news.

Hacker news is a news aggregation medium for "Hacker News." The purpose of this site is to get your fix of tech news that you can't get other places. It isn't burying your head in the sand to ONLY have "Hacker" news on your Hacker News site. It's sticking your head in the sand not to read any other news sources. That is on the individual. It is not the job of Hacker News to educate you on politics. The responsibility of getting good news is on the user not the medium. HN doesn't claim to be a one stop shop for all of your news.

More importantly, this is an experiment, on a site that is very interested in Science and Programming. It completely makes sense to have an experiment like this to see if it affects the quality of the comments. Being against this experiment is like my dad trying to tell me that God Created the earth 5000 years ago from parts of other planets (complete hyperbole). WTH? It doesn't matter it's one week and then it's over.

I'm assuming a good experiment will THEN make assertions and consult with the community to see if this worked, was bad/good/etc. At that point voice your concerns, but not yet, there is no evidence it's all conjecture.

jowiar 6 hours ago 5 replies      
When "politics" is treated as "things that affect other people that we opine about", this decision makes sense.

But this decision is the epitome of privilege. To enter a space thinking "I'm not going to think about politics" is to be someone whose sheer existence in that space isn't a political statement in and of itself. And for many, such a space is "The United States", "The Tech Community", "HN", or whatnot.

Saying "We're going to forget y'all for a week" is... just... fucking... terrible. And whoever conceived of it should be fired on the spot.

reflexive 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Based on Agnolia, these are the most popular stories from the past week on HN that might be construed as "political":

#17 Tell HN: Political Detox Week No politics on HN for a week https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13108404

#23 Canadian journalist's detention at US border raises press freedom alarms https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13092330

#29 Help Us Keep the Archive Free, Accessible, and Private https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13065599

#37 Facebooks Walled Wonderland Is Inherently Incompatible with News https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13103611

#49 War Is a Racket by General Smedley D. Butler (1933) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13068641

#59 FBI to gain expanded hacking powers as Senate effort to block fails https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13074285

haukilup 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As an experiment, I love the idea!

Personally, I've found it hard to escape US politics on many of the sites I frequent. The comments/discussion often end up relating the topic to the last US election in some manner - and an unproductive conversation follows.

Just my experience, but again - love the idea of running an experiment here.

ForrestN 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am a hacker and a part of this community and have been for many years. My little family is gay and mixed race, and because I work for a non-profit relies on the government for health insurance. My in-laws are brown people living in a hostile part of the United States where vicious hate crimes are spiking.

Why don't I qualify as part of the community? Politics is now more and more bearing down on my family, oppressing us, threatening us. We are afraid and depressed every day, even while probably cowering from fully facing the gravity of the threat this administration poses. It is hard to code when you are terrified.

Why doesn't HN care about me? Why aren't its powerful, its brilliant, its wealthy, abandoning all other projects to protect me? Why? I need you to save my family. Please.

japhyr 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the sentiment here, but it sounds a little...wishful.

Our political climate is affecting all of us in many ways, and we need to process what's happening. We need to do that carefully and constructively. I want to know the subtle political aspects of many of the stories I read on HN.

That said, I'll play along for the week. I hope what comes out of this is a push to encourage critical thinking about the political aspects of important stories, not to push political conversation off of HN entirely.

threatofrain 7 hours ago 2 replies      
If anything, Hacker News should be more political, and it ought to get its political act together. People here are always talking about moral issues, implications of technology on the working class, climate issues, accessibility, etc.

Well, talking about those issues is just moral posturing without <power>, and politics is the negotiation of power.

These are all political issues. If you care about your fellow person, you already have the seeds of a <political> motivation. You want to change the way the world works -- but that takes power, power like the AMA or AARP has.

People who duck their heads in the sand and scorn politics and power as something dirty are counterproductive to this highly disorganized technical community with almost zero union potential.

aburan28 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Why? Political conflicts cause harm here. The values of Hacker News are intellectual curiosity and thoughtful conversation. Those things are lost when political emotions seize control. Our values are fragilethey're like plants that get forgotten, then trampled and scorched in combat. HN is a garden, politics is war by other means, and war and gardening don't mix."

This is so misguided and absurd. What is the definition of politics here? Trump stories? Or are fake news stories also political? Alot of the HN community came to value intellectual curiosity and thoughtful conversation from political ends

Arcsech 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Who decides what's "political"? Are discussions of regulations surrounding Uber political? The ongoing Tesla/dealership feuds? Using machine learning to detect fake news? New immigration policy that impacts H1B tech workers? The impact of Brexit on tech companies? Restrictions on cryptography?

I'm split on this: On one hand, firm moderation and keeping things on-topic makes for a good forum for discussion. On the other, this could easily be used by YC as a tool to say, silence criticism of YC for not disavowing Peter Thiel. Either way, there need to be clearer guidelines around what's allowed and what's not.

tunesmith 7 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm not really a fan of this move. I don't see it as an addiction that reduces its power over us by abstaining for a period of time. I also don't agree with applying system effects to individuals - while political discussion can appear to create a dulling or muting effect overall it doesn't mean that individual people aren't being positively influenced, in ways that might have even larger positive effects on the system over time. Similarly, preventing short term conflict might have negative longer term system effects over time.

The detox/immune-system metaphor seems really suspect in other words. You could just as easily argue that there is a "virus" (the changing political realities, new realities dawning on us), and that ignoring the "virus" or "symptoms" will make the adjustment that much more traumatic, the later we accept that it's happening. Or to switch the connotation, perhaps instead of a "virus", look at it as a "disruptive innovation" - where if we act as an entrenched incumbent, we will be disrupted as our competitors rewrite the rules, and we will be too far behind to pivot successfully.

Letting the community process the new inputs vigorously might seem more traumatic in the short term but it could also make us stronger overall.

This just seems counter to the principles that I appreciate at HN.

TrevorJ 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Given that ycombinator does specifically involve themselves in issues of policy such as universal basic income and others, I find this move to be at odds with what ycombinator actually is.

Once some ideas are too 'dangerous' or too contentions to be discussed, there is little hope of ever moving forward in solving the very real problems we have in this world.

Characterizing values as fragile things which cannot withstand the rigors of robust debate is also a troubling viewpoint.

edit: typo.

woodhull 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Do you really think that the techno-capitalist libertarian utopia that many in silicon valley seem to be trying to build is a-political, immune from regulation or popular backlash?

Anything political or critical of YC already gets disappeared from this site quite quickly. I had assumed that this policy (which always seemed misguided to me) was already in effect.

I think the historical moment we find ourselves in is a time to make ourselves more uncomfortable rather than retreat and pretend that the only things that matter are software and how we might make more money on the internet.

Politics is about coming together to find common solutions to problems and make sure that no one gets left behind. Isn't it the job of a responsible community (even a VC sponsored one dedicated to making money with tech as HN is) to lean in when things start to feel hard rather than tune out and ignore our responsibilities as citizens and fellow humans?

ForrestN 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
I flagged this post because supressing political speech systematically, and even ignoring it, is actually active political discourse. Politics is not and never will be a separated topic, it is inextricable from everything we care about. This Tell HN is arguing for a specific political position about the nature of public discourse (that it is best stewarded from the top down by extremely rich people who overwhelmingly skew white, straight and male), and is arguing that intellectual curiosity and conflict are generally exclusive. This post is one tribe within the broader community of HN exerting its dominance over other tribes while pretending to be high-minded in resistance to tribalism.

Don't confuse yourselves: your tribe doesn't feel in immanent danger, doesn't think this community is in a unique position to help the world in a dangerous moment, and wants to stop being bothered by the imposition of reality on the dominant tribe that seems able to weather the storm and continue peacefully enriching itself. That is the tribe that owns HN, that seems to be the tribe that is in control of Silicon Valley's immense resources which are, to the profound shame of the entire industry, not being used to try to save its country.

The president is deeply unstable, lies constantly and has hired a team of bigoted, addled, corrupt old white men to serve him. Autocracy is incredibly dangerous. But it won't affect the leaders of the tribe who wrote this shameful post. Rich straight white people will almost certainly be safe from suffering. My family won't be and already isn't in vast swaths of the country.

This post and others in the last month have taught me that HN is not a community of smart people interested in technology. It is an apparatus of a few privileged people and their businesses that serves mostly one narrow community (engineers who are focused on earning money and/or luxuriating in their own preoccupations) that the owners want things from (talent and money). We can't learn together by hiding from this moment.

When talking politics means talking about the internment of muslims, talking about a conspiracy of Jews puppeteering the global economy, talking about refusing to enforce any civil rights laws that happen to mostly protect black people, when politics means the destabilization of the global economy and the global military equilibrium established since Workd War II, well then enforcing the state of not talking about politics is itself an act of violence.

sean_patel 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I really welcome this move. I couldn't get out of bed on Nov 9th and a few hours of introspection later, I realized I have no control over any of the Political changes and that I shouldn't be causing myself so much stress.

So I stopped watching the news -- both online and on TV -- since Nov 9th. It's been an incredible month for me since then.

I've made significant progress on my languishing side-projects ( a Show HN coming soon in Jan 2017!!!) and am generally less stressed and more mindful and happy.

I made a conscious effort to stop watching news and ride out the next 8 years (I expect Trump, like Dubya, will get Re-elected in 2020). I still need my "tech" fix, and visit only HN since I gave up the news. Yet I found a few Trump stories on HN recently, so this is a great move.

Thanks mods!

peterkelly 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Political Detox Week

I don't understand how so many people have missed the word "week" in this sentence.

This is an experiment, and it's going to last a very short period of time; I support it. I oppose banning political articles & discussion on HN in the long-term, but that's not what this is. It seems the distinction has been missed in most of the comments.

One option I would like to suggest is an option whereby people can enable or disable a filter for political stories. This way if you just want to come and geek out about tech, you can do so, or if you want to follow political issues you have that option as well. I'd use both modes at different times depending on my mood.

AndrewKemendo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
As a frequent commenter I think this is a good experiment, but I think it's worth considering what kind of platform HN considers itself.

Technology and politics are intimately linked, even if it's not always obvious. Technology's impact on politics is only going to grow in my opinion so I think the "political" discussions - as they relate to technology - are vital for the community at large.

If we as a community are going to be "disrupters" whether intentionally or not, we need to understand and discuss the social and political landscape and impacts of our work better, so that we can implement our technology in a way that doesn't spurn backlash from the communities and thus their political leaders.

Talk about political scandals and the like don't do service to this community, so I think those topics should be sequestered. However discussions on encryption, automation etc... are perfect topics for this community in my opinion.

pmoriarty 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I am concerned that in the long run political stories about HN and Y Combinator, and about the tech scene will be excluded.

Where better to talk about the politics of HN and Y Combinator than on HN? As far as political stories go, these are the most relevant ones to HN readers. Political stories about the tech scene, and related topics (such as political reactions to tech employees grabbing up all the real estate in certain tech-heavy cities like SF) are also very relevant.

I would be more ok with the banning of non-tech-related political stories/threads. But, I think a better solution than censorship would be tagging. Tagging would allow every reader to do their own filtering, and include/exclude what they felt was appropriate, rather than have those decisions dictated top-down.

On the other hand, I also understand the desire of the site owners/admins to guide the site to be what they want it to be, rather than what its users want it to be. That's definitely their prerogative, and much of it I agree with - particularly the censorship of hate speech, flaming, and trolling.

The guiding of this site towards more tech and less politics is also a desire I understand and commiserate with. There definitely are plenty of other political sites out there, where you can argue this stuff 'till the cows come home. But personally, I don't visit those sites, and would like to be able to discuss at least some of those topics -- the ones relevant to tech and to HN/YC, on HN itself.

pshc 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Tribalism is so toxic. I'm all for this. But for flagging purposes what's the boundary between a political/non-political story?

EDIT: @dang in another comment: Let me clarify. The main concern here is pure politics: the conflicts around party, ideology, nation, race, and religion that get people hot and turn into flamewars on the internet. We're not so concerned about stories on other things that happen to have political aspectslike, say, software patents.

guildwriter 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This feels a lot like closing the barn doors after the horses have already gotten loose. This kind of action was sorely needed weeks ago, especially when political articles turned into flame wars populated by 140 char political emotional screeds. It was really disheartening to see HN turn towards the same kind of political discussion I have to endure on other sites. Especially when commentators who tended to post thoughtfully completely devolved.

These days it feels rarer to see the same kind of inflammatory articles gain traction. The same kind of discussion is there but the flaming feels less rampant than it once was. With passions cooled I feel that the community is slowly returning to normal. Though it's likely with such a contentious president, especially to the de facto SV culture, it's not going to be smooth waters.

More brush fires might just be the new normal for now. I think that controlling the burning in this case is more advantageous to the community than trying to stamp it out entirely. Giving the silent treatment to unpopular views is partially how we ended up where we are.

I'm always up for a short term experiment though.

lossolo 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I am running tech site with 10k users on which i made surveys about politics with possibility to comment by users. I've stopped because there were so many conflicts, such bad emotions, then users moved their personal conflicts to other discussions on forum. After stopping the political surveys everything is a lot more stable and people are nicer to each other, without any biases, they discuss about software, hardware etc. This was very good decision, will it work for HN? Probably yes, it worked for us.
rcavezza 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I disagree. I think if there was ever a time in the history of the world where more political discourse needs to occur, it should be now. I think this is especially true with such a smart group of individuals trying to change the world in many different arenas.
minimaxir 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It's worth noting that in order to flag a comment, you must click the permalink first.

I've seen political stories flagged pretty quickly during normal HN usage, but rarely comment threads.

4rtemis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is a bad idea, even as an experiment. Treating groups of ideas as off-limits, immutable or in need of protection from other groups does more harm than good. Your analogy of "politics [being] war by other means" is exactly why we should foster political discussion just as any other intellectual pursuit. Arbitrary isolation between the political or religious self and our intellectual self is, I believe, why politics is so violent and difficult to talk about. You don't need homogeneity for a good discussion and you shouldn't assume chaos when heterogenous people start talking.

We talk about important things here and should do so in a way that is conducive to engaging conversation. Topics shouldn't be off the table.

Also, what is 'political'?

Edit: typo

gjkood 6 hours ago 3 replies      
To tell you the truth, I put myself into a politics news vacuum the day after the elections and the results were announced.

I no longer frequent the politics sites (left and right) that I used to visit being a politics addict. I now no longer want to listen to any politics for the next 4 or 8 years (whichever the term may end up being).

I have stuck my fingers in my ears and am spouting "la la la la...." loudly whenever I go near a political discussion.

No more politics for me (at least till I am ready to come out of my self imposed exile).

ProAm 7 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm a little skeptical of this.... What's the ulterior motive here? We all know SamA was very anti-trump, is this an alternative method to keep the new US political regime from affecting YC? It's almost a weird form of discussion censorship. Whose idea was this?
mindcrime 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I say make this permanent. A couple of years ago, politics was mostly verboten here, at least unofficially. It's been a slow, steady transition to the current state where political stories have become so prominent.

None of that is to say that politics isn't important, or that I don't enjoy discussing the subject. It just isn't mainly why I come to HN, and I honestly feel a little dirty every time I get drawn into a political discussion here.

brilliantcode 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a slippery slope, I read it as "lets censor ourselves for this week and everybody should do their part".

Tech is like any other industry, it's rife with politics. I don't agree with trolling but obviously this place isn't reddit, lot of political debates are valuable and offer insights for those less politically inclined.

If we agree to this policy what guarantee is there in the future that other topics that HN leadership doesn't like will be censored?

This is censorship pure and simple. Shame on you Dang for even suggesting it, my question is:

Is HN an America based community that reflects the core beliefs in freedom of speech & expression?

If yes, we shouldn't even have this kind of thread. Let trolls be flagged but everyone else having meaningful discussion should not be collectively punished.

PravlageTiem 6 hours ago 0 replies      
When most people talk about "politics" what they really mean is they want to recite talking points told to them from their favorite dying old media echo chamber.

Reddit went full political and I left.The chans went full political and I left.Facebook went full political and I left.Twitter went full political and I left.

I go on the internet to escape being repeatedly told I'm not doing enough to live up to the moral supremacist standards set by the Baby Boomers in the 1960s.

Nearly every single massive social network on the internet exists and have for a decade to cater to your daily fill of Silicon Valley bicoastal "look down the nose of the flyover plebs" equality porn. Go there for your schadenfreude. Don't bring it here.

Spirituality means having an imaginary friend. Politics means having imaginary enemies.

abathur 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's your prerogative to enforce HN's own rules about political posts, but I think identifying "politics" as a "topic" is a misguided (political) gesture.

It's one thing to say pogo sticks are off-topic in a unicycling forum, and quite another to say basic human drives (thought, sex, hunger, curiosity, creation, expression, socializing, prediction, story-telling, bonding, power, respect, exploration...) that pervade everything we do are "off-topic".

On the road to pathologizing and demonizing people who don't agree with us, this kind of compartmentalization is itself a mechanism we use to flatten and stereotype away the human needs, desires, and drives that animate others.

You may benefit HN (and society) more by acknowledging these entanglements and focusing instead on how to model, shape, and cultivate responsible civic discourse.

aikah 6 hours ago 1 reply      
> Why? Political conflicts cause harm here

Unfortunately this a consequence of people trying to shove politics everywhere, including in unrelated communities. I don't want to point fingers but a specific camp has mastered the art of forcing their political beliefs upon others in the name of "the right side of history". The result is now, you can't be just a developer, or a techie. You have to be a techie + or a developer + qnd also support a specific political agenda, or "you're not a decent human being". Maybe people should stop doing that at first place. The same thing happened in atheist communities or gaming and it permanently ruined these communities, because it forced everybody to take sides. HN is no different. The dev community will suffer the same fate if people don't come to their senses before it's too late.

Maybe political subjects that are totally unrelated to tech should be banned from HN. I don't like censorship, but if the goal is to keep a community united and focused well, I'm open for alternative suggestions...

stevethyc 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me, I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times but that is not for them to decide, All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."

Information/Internet technology is inseparable from politics now. I never asked for that and neither did any of us, but that's the inescapable reality.Our inventions are being used to both enhance and disrupt democracy, and they are causing real people real pain along with the huge benefits to millions of others.Like many, my own productivity has taken a huge hit in the last year because of all of the political news. I resent this in the same way I'd resent a hurricane hitting my house, but pretending it isn't happening won't help.HN being a blend of pure tech stories along with political+tech stories is absolutely the right blend because IT REFLECTS THE REALITY OF TODAY'S WORLD.Trump's election is the biggest change in politics in the last 50 years, and IT was at the heart of that election, in terms of the forces that have caused the desire for change (e.g. worker displacement, cultural upheaval), and the mechanics of the election itself (e.g. Twitter, news feeds, fake news, media manipulation, big data, etc.).We, the IT workers of the world, are the new weapons-makers. That we never meant our work to be used that way is immaterial. Everybody in tech should now be politically informed. We should be tuned in. We should know details. We should learn the facts. I'd love to spend 100% of my time learning about new frameworks and hardware, and that's what I enjoy doing.We have the ring now, even if we never wanted it. Now it's our job to keep it out of hands of evil.

P.S. I started writing this response with, "Good! I am so sick of reading about politics everywhere. Great move, HN!". Then I changed my response to the one above.

danso 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I respect that HN wants to stay away from the burning dumpsters that have been online political discussions lately. I probably post more than my fair share of political discussion here, but i try to do so only when I see it being relevant to the general aims of HN, even if you're here only for the tech and entrepreneurship. A lot of tech and business is influenced by political machinations, and I value the HN quality commentary on it.

But yeah, partisanship, not so much. Maybe a week of non-politics will help level the conversations here, though it's still a relative oasis compared to just about anywhere else online.

Jeaye 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I come here to talk and learn about tech and science, not banter about politics. I'm all for a politic-free HN.

Find just about any article on the hacker mindset and politics, aside from the desire for freedom, won't be anywhere near the top of the list. Nothing about Republicans, Democrats, race, etc.

Some examples:


BinaryIdiot 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel some irony was lost with the posting of this topic. The relationship the actions HN moderation takes against HN users is, by definition, political. So, by definition, this post should be removed.

Yes the moderation team is going to be handling this on a case by case basis and a thread like this isn't actually going to be shut down but I think it illustrates my point: politics is woven through society at virtually every level. There are very few stories that lack at least some form of politics.

So why not let the community decide what they feel it a topic worth discussion and what is not by flagging posts (like what they do today)? Why must there be interference to steer the community in a specific, editorialized direction?

andrewljohnson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you, I'll happily flag down politics on HN.

Politics has caused me to start using new software so I can filter Twitter, change my subreddits, and aggressively unfollow people on Facebook (even family at this point).

And still I can't avoid it... though perhaps for the best, since social media by-and-large is just a distraction from real work and real life. I'm far better off coding, reading books, and playing go than reading garbage political news nd opinions from shrill internet denizens.

notadoc 7 hours ago 0 replies      

My 2 cents: unless it's directly related to tech (net neutrality, SOPA, surveillance, security, etc), it shouldn't be on here.

feral 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Technologists have above average wealth, and have influence on the future of technology and society. There are many here. At some point the size and power of a news site increases beyond the point where its just a toy - like it or not (see Facebook).

And with power comes responsibility.

I can understand adjusting the amount of political discussion, but banning it seems like a derogation of responsibility - certainly if the ban were to persist.

Alternatively, if another leak like Snowden's comes out this week, would discussion be prohibited? What if a big tech company was found to be building a Muslim registry? Could you please clarify whether stories that are both technology and political will remain?

> What Hacker News is: a place for stories that gratify intellectual curiosity and civil, substantive comments.

If that's the clear extent of the mission, that's a pity.

I'd argue there was always a subtext on HN, whereby hackers giving prominence to their intellectual curiosity is justified because this path also eventually produces Good Stuff, technology which solves real problems, and eventually creates wealth and makes people's lives better. I would thus recommend against drawing a bright line around 'gratify intellectual curiosity'.

If we're just clicking stories purely because it gratifies us, how's it different to just eating candy? It'd be a pity if that was all the community is intended to be.

nerfhammer 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Politics stories seem to get flagkilled 95% of the time already, and despite the difficulty of discussing it politics affects our daily lives a lot more than the latest release of some javascript framework.
rokosbasilisk 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I support this even permanently. Not everything is political as some people believe.

Hackernews articles and comments about flask, django, and mongo helped me get my first job. Ask hn helped me learn about consulting. I love reading the comments about the em drive to help me understand when the mainstream media doesnt explain or misrepresents.

Even today I still learn so much about js frameworks, and cool plugins or tips and tricks, seeing all this swamped by politics sucks.

crucini 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's probably a good move. Of course I wish we could have intelligent, calm discussions - if not of political ideals per se, then of the peripheral issues like polling, voting machines, etc. But political rage and snark always get injected. And more subtly, individual biases are smuggled in under reasonable sounding language.
jrnichols 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I have no complaints. This is where I come more and more often because I am so fed up with endless political bickering on Facebook, Twitter, and, well, pretty much every other place I go that has some sort of comment section or forum. It's frustrating. For me, this is the last bastion of rational discussion.
rick_perez 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I find this part of the main problem with the recent US election. You only want political discussions when you agree with it. No matter how civil a person is, it's considered 'uncivil' when it's against San Francisco politics.

When this happens, many people are forced to get their news from the sites deemed 'fake'. The mass banning of opposing viewpoints (which has been happening for a couple of years now) has pushed more people towards these sites and may have actually won Trump the election. If you want to change it, stop silencing all opposing views.

The problem is that politics is in every part of our lives. If you ban politics and religion, people still get political and religious about other things. It's part of human nature (GNU VS BSD), (VI VS Emacs).

s_q_b 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This will be my final comment on HN.

As my parting words from this site, I would ask that you please pay close attention to what is happening politically with regard to the laws which shape technology: the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Criminal Rule of Procedure 41, PATRIOT Act 215, FISA 702, and Executive Order 12333, but just as importantly, the individuals in the NSC, DNI, DCIA, DNSA and DIA/DCS leadership positions.

Community members, remember it is crucial for engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs to have a voice in the forthcoming discussions of digital privacy, the extent of state power, and the policies that will be chosen. If you wish to conduct this experiment, perhaps a different time period would be better, as these officials are being chosen now, and the policies will be decided very soon.

Moderators, I ask you to use your power judiciously, and allow the maximum free discourse that you feel appropriate. Remember that you yourselves are not immune to the cognitive defects inherent in human nature. If you do adopt a more narrow curation policy, please guard against those passions carefully. Protect well this place you have built. It is more special than you realize.

Founders, design your technologies with an eye to how they shape public discourse, promote fact, and expose deception. Be better than my generation. Pursue ideals more noble than mere monetary profit. Don't just make something people want. Make something that matters.

Build the change you wish to see in the world. You did not risk everything to sell digital sugar water.

Others of greater tact than I will shape these discussions as they evolve here. But I myself will not abet censorship without objection, particularly at this moment in time. The time has come to vote with my feet. It has been a pleasure to know you all.

I wish you well in the days to come.

Futurebot 6 hours ago 0 replies      
No objection whatsoever to a pause period, but it's important for people to realize there's no separation between politics and anything else, including technology. "Everything is political" is a cliche, but it happens to be true.

"Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won't leave you alone." -RMS

jressey 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with this idea, the point where I consider it cowardly. This is a forum for a community, so let us talk about what we want to, and upvote it if it's good content. If this is actually a concern about a problem happening like on Reddit with upvote bots, then let's talk about that.

C'mon, hearing people talk positively about working with JS lights a fire inside me and my veins pop, so I just don't upvote their comments. Pretty simple.

smoyer 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That will give us all more time to discuss religion (the other topic my parents always said was verboten between casual acquaintances).

More seriously, I'm not going to rock the boat (and won't miss the discussions about politics) but I always figured those stories would disappear from the front page when the community at large didn't want to discuss them. It's a dangerous slope since you can also make the argument that other topics are also too dominant. I personally would like to see fewer articles on Angular but I wouldn't have suggested that they be off-topic for a week. I guess I assumed the up-voters wanted them.

OFF-TOPIC: Any chance we can down-vote articles with enough karma?

EDIT: I guess I should also note that I rarely flag articles since that seems like it should be reserved for some sort of abuse. My thought about down-votes is that it's the opposite of an up-vote ("I'm not interested in this" versus "this is interesting").

ixtli 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won't leave you alone."

-- RMS, "O'Reilly Open Source Conference: Day 3" by Paul Weinstein, in Apache Week (26 July 2002)

fdgdasfadsf 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I get what you are doing - HN has been in eternal September mode for a while now. I'm not sure it will work but I hope it does I don't want to have to find a new message board.

My question is what counts as political? HN has been an important place for me to get news about censorship, surveillance and copyright issues that are just not covered by my country's press (UK). I would be sad to lose this news source.

komali2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the idea of it being a detox and nothing more. I understand that political discussions can drag a site down, just look at reddit, but in the long term ignoring everything political can only hurt us. When it comes to topics like net neutrality, environment, and security/encryption, we can be doing the job of the government itself by crippling our grassroots/discussion efforts.

Being aware of the government stepping in our gardens is important, and if the side effect is sometimes we get mad at eachother, well, at least we're aware.

pizza 7 hours ago 0 replies      
We all share a responsibility to behave like adults. Is this really the way to deal with some people being quick to anger? What's the difference between people debating over the best political theory vs, say, unproven quantum theory, or lay speculation on economics, or on history, or on aesthetics, or on evolutionary post hoc rationalization, or on predictions of the future?

And as per the US-centrism aspect, personally, I can't see how muting political debate will shift the average discussion away from US-centric politics, in general..

pjlegato 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This supposes that legimitately intellectual and civil political discourse is simply not possible, that some sort of "primitive brain" must always take over in any political discussion. This is empirically false. Hacker News generates much more calm and rational political discourse than otherwise.

Of course people sometimes get angry and flame each other in political threads. That should be flagged. For that matter, people flame each other on "Technology A versus Technology B" threads all the time, too, and many other topics.

The way to promote more civil political discourse is to promote more civil political discourse, not to ban political discourse as a dirty, taboo topic altogether.

estsauver 5 hours ago 3 replies      
This doesn't feel nonpartisan, it feels like it's actively quashing what little political traction can be gained here.

And frankly, a 'detox' is absolutely the wrong word for it. The emotions for me at least come from feeling scared. I have several family members who will lose coverage if the ACA is repealed and I have muslim friends who are looking at the prospect of being sent to interment camps.

This is anger and fear that should be cultivated, not extinguished.

 sudo bash -c 'echo " news.ycombinator.com" >> /etc/hosts'

bradleyjg 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been hesitant to go into new and just start flagging all the terrible stories because I've read about people that lost the ability to flag. So I only flag on relatively rare occasion. Does such an overuse mechanism actually exist?
freddyc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The beauty (in my eyes at least) of Hacker News has always been that the most interesting/relevant stories and discussions find their way to the top of the feed. I've discovered topics and perspectives (including those I disagree with) that I otherwise wouldn't have been exposed to if it weren't for HN. I've always felt there is something of a built-in filter present, so this move feels a little forced and unnecessary to me.
dkural 6 hours ago 0 replies      
How do you draw boundaries of what's political? Everything is political - rules for how and where Cars can drive, rules for who can host whom in their house, gender equality and the job market, drones, and accountability abroad, encryption and government surveillance. It's impossible to have a conversation about Uber, AirBnB, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter without talking about whom it affects and how.
delegate 2 hours ago 0 replies      
All censorship is done with good intentions. Things are censored because they are somehow against a certain set of values or they threaten the well-being of the establishment.

So this move is on thin ice.

But I also think that politics and politicians in particular are getting a lot more media exposure than they deserve or need.

Politicians are the new rock stars... but they shouldn't be. They should be spending time working on actual societal problems - the things they've been elected for.

All the rest of us, too, should give them a lot less attention and focus our attention on issues rather than people.

Political affiliation is a very subjective thing, similar to tastes in music or art or sex. There's no perfect solution to all the problems we're facing and that's why we disagree on things.

So often political discussion is a futile attempt to convince the other side that the worst (their point of view) is the best (our point of view). Which is a waste of energy and time and should be avoided.

Considering all of these factors, with a shade of worry I think this is the right thing to do.

alistproducer2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Politics was definitely a problem right after the election, but it seems to have calmed down a lot and nakedly political stories don't seem to make it to the front page anymore.

I would hope this purge would not include stories related to privacy legislation, as I think the topic is very relevant to the community.

gopher2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What exactly defines a story as political?

Some recent topics I can think of... Facebook + fake news is about technology and user behavior, and also very political. Government use of surveillance technology is both technological and political in nature. Role of social media in elections has technological, sociological, politic aspects to it that can be discussed.

To me, being "political" is both what you're talking about, and how you're talking about it.

I enjoy reading what the HN audience has to say about the above examples. I'd be disappointed if they're considered too political and off limits going forward.

Interested to see how this experiment goes.

tyingq 7 hours ago 1 reply      
How broadly are we defining "politics" here? Some topics I see here frequently...are these flaggable for the week?

Uber Contractor vs Employee, AirBnb vs Zoning Laws, Universal Basic Income, Privacy Issues

stcredzero 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In recent threads, I've made some factual observations, only to have people imagine a slant or motivation, then argue with that commenter of their imagination. I think HN is succumbing to the "Arguments as Soliders" antipattern:


jc_811 5 hours ago 1 reply      
A submission on climate change was flagged and removed due to these political guidelines. Is this really considered political? Wouldn't it be more justified to call it 'scientific'?

How is anyone supposed to realistically draw the line between what is political and what is not? Couldn't any topic in the world be related back to politics one way or another?

This seems like a blatant plot to censor 'unwanted' topics and articles. A huge downvote from me.

celticninja 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I approve, politics tends to be US centric on HN and whilst I like to keep informed there are plenty of other dedicate sources for that sort of information. Also as this isn't a politics site inevitably the debate is a bit of an echo chamber.
pavlov 7 hours ago 1 reply      
... war and gardening don't mix.

Well, victory gardens were a thing not very long ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

stenl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Why isn't this exactly like playing "Nearer My God to Thee" on the deck of the Titanic? The ship is sinking and we're going to talk not about the water rushing in through the hole in the hull, but about ...gardening?

By all means let's have a civilized conversation but we're in a political crisis and "we" as "hackers" need to help fix it, not wish it wasn't so.

rjdevereux 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the sentiment, and promoting civil discourse is a wonderful goal. But the way forward is figuring out how to promote the good, and discourage the bad, not disengagement.

I don't think I can say why it is important to engage better than Charles Krauthammer, so I'll just put his words here.

"While science, medicine, art, poetry, architecture, chess, space, sports, number theory and all things hard and beautiful promise purity, elegance and sometimes even transcendence, they are fundamentally subordinate. In the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics.

Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything because, in the end, everything high and low and, most especially, high lives or dies by politics. You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933 Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians. Fail to keep them at bay, and everything burns."

mesto 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I just wanted to say that I'm incredibly disappointed in this decision and even more so by its rationale.

The idea that Hacker News or tech in general is a 'garden' which should exist separately from politics is simply naive and very privileged. Taking no position, or worse suppressing opposition is itself a position. This is a critical time of political organization and resistance in the days before the Trump administration takes control.

Even 7 days lost in this process, allowing the readers of this site to ignore the reality outside their doorstep is a concrete injury to the disadvantaged communities which will be targeted in the first weeks of the Trump administration.

headcanon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A lot of people seem to be reacting to the idea that all political discussion will always be banned forever on HN. Politics is important and affects everything in its own way, but this is just a post-election cooldown from all the super-polarizing Trump bullshit that has been preoccupying America for the past eighteen months. We're going to have plenty more to talk about starting January; I for one, welcome the break.
pfooti 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a couple of problems.

1) Many things are political on some level. Consider encryption, the future of technology, automation, global trade. What counts as political?

2) Not discussing things that are deemed "political" is itself a political act - you're basically saying, "we don't need to talk about these things that are actively causing harm." Often times, this is a show of support for the status quo - it's the privileged who get to say what conversations can and cannot be had, and they rarely say, 'let us stop talking about this subject that deeply affects us'. They say that about things that don't matter to them, because they're worried about civility.

3) Some people are actually actively fighting for their very right to exist, politically and in the physical world. Consider the current administration's (especially the VP) stance toward LGBTQIA people, or toward abortion, or consider the active physical harm perpetrated on the bodies of non-white people by institutions and corporations. If you're upset because people are getting their feelings hurt, consider the people whose actual bodies are being hurt, whom you are now potentially silencing.

Sure, maybe hackernews should be a place where people post stuff like "Show HN: Version 1.2 of my parsing state machine" and nothing else. Maybe we yearn for the yester-days of freshmeat or whatever.

I don't operate under the assumption that HN is a free space or a space for me in particular or demand the right to say anything I want on its platform. I did appreciate its relative openness and the general quality of its commentariat. But this experiment has radically altered my opinion of HN as an online space. I'm going to re-evaluate that, I guess.

This really does feel like someone grumpily saying, "keep it down, kids, we're trying to eat dinner here!"

pelario 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the limit that defines "politics" from everything else ? I personally believe that (more or less) "everything is politics", therefore it is quite difficult to follow this directive.

Actually, the OP is very politic, as it is about how HN is governed, should we flag this post and should you kill the story?

This may sound pedantic, but the example shows the importance of defining what you consider is the limit between "politics" and "everything else"

abtinf 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea. I assumed that political discussion would die down a bit after the election, but it only seems to have escalated. Detox is the right word for what is needed.
giardini 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Not a gripe but an idea: rather than ban persons from HN for bad behavior, would it possibly be better to "emprison" them, that is, disallow them from posting for awhile and then, after a few days or weeks, permit them to resume posting?

Reason I ask this is that I recently encountered an HN situation where someone who appeared to be a productive member of the HN community was banned from posting because of (truly) poor etiquette, if not outright bad behavior. However, seeing that he had for over a year been a contributing member, I felt that a total ban was heavy-handed and that simply being punished temporarily for a transgression might have served better.

Is anyone familiar with an online forum that merely temporarily punishes transgressors w/o permanently banning them? Does anyone else think banning is sometimes a bit too much punishment?

mmaunder 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I wasn't aware there is a problem.
pmiller2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What counts as political? My only real concern is that this is pretty vaguely specified. E.g can we discuss net neutrality? The economy? Economics in general? Professional licensing requirements? Arbitration agreements? All of these have produced interesting discussions in the past, and, while I could stand to go a week without, I'd hate to ding someone's account for posting them.
criley2 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a half measure and it won't help much.

Hackernews is like reddit before subreddits.

It's too big now, too many people, too disparate of subjects, too much noise and not enough signal.

Over the past couple years, definitely in the past 2, hackernews has gone from say a reddit SV subreddit, to a generalized, worldnews/politics/general news generic reddit.

That's not what this is. And when hackernews becomes what reddit.com/r/reddit.com used to be, it dilutes the userbase and invites/attracts people who have nothing to do with the hackernews ideology and culture.

This is a positive first step, but far too little and maybe too late.

This site is becoming a generic catch-all subreddit for all news, and with that change the userbase is reflecting the lack of focus on SV/technology/hacker culture.

Without dramatic intervention, the tides will turn and hackernews will not be an attractive place for real hackers, real innovators. Won't be worth their time anymore. They'll find greener pastures. Many already are.

anon987 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Why are they allowed, period?

Is the community OK with turning HN into Reddit-lite - because that's clearly what's happening based on the topics that get upvoted.

jonahrd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of the most politically important events and eras were defined and made possible by the technology and engineering that came out of these periods. In the past, engineering has been taught as a separate entity, focusing on monetary and technological risks/rewards. This leads to impressive engineering projects that sometimes devastate communities, wildlife, marginalized groups, etc.

But the truth is that engineering is intrinsically linked to the impacts it has on the environment, its social impacts, its political impacts, and everything else that it affects in this complex web that is reality. When engineering is taught in schools now, these impacts are a major focus. In civil engineering this means that projects are planned that at least take into account the people and communities they are displacing. In industrial engineering, it means sourcing materials from the right places, focusing on environmental impact, etc.

It's absolutely no different in software engineering, or high tech in general. By enforcing an 'apolitical' atmosphere in a tech discussion, you're consciously shifting the intelligence and nuance of the discussion back to a period before we started to consider the impact that technology has on society. This is a dangerous shift, and dumbs down the level of discussion that's achievable by muting voices that connect the discussion with its impacts in other areas. In effect, this actively enforces the status quo, and doesn't allow our discussion here to progress the industry as a whole.

I come to HN because it's a great resource to find interesting tech articles. It's also a great way to stay informed with the latest tech related news. But equally, I find discussion so engaging here because it seems to be so deeply ingrained the heart of the tech community, and because of that, can affect the way the tech world operates as a whole (even just slightly). Stripping down the discussion to a frankly old-fashioned apolitical "tech doesn't affect anything except tech" would be a sad thing for me to witness happen to HN.

therealgimli 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am disappointed by this decision, but I don't love HN any less for it.

Many comments have pointed out that there are plenty of places on the web to have discussions about political topics, so let's keep the HN about tech.

I see the merit in this sentiment, but for me reading the political discussions within this community is something I value greatly. For one thing, there are a great many non-US based people here. In my experience I have been exposed to a relatively balanced set of perspectives, and generally commenters are thoughtful and un-troll-like.

In short, I learn many things from other folks in this community, and that includes political topics.

KirinDave 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the profound affect tech has had on the last US election cycle, it is difficult not to read this ban as the execution of a political agenda.

The idea that the two can be extricated from one another is absurd on its face.

But what's also notable is the boldness of saying it out loud. It has always been the policy of HN to flag out the majority of "politics" before it resides in the new queue for more than an hour or two.

This "experiment" will surely quash conflict, but by banning anyone who has any reason to express contention. The burden of social censure has always been placed firmly on the head of the aggrieved on HN, but it's been an unofficial policy until now. People like me are rate limited for being "too contentious" on political subjects already. Now we're outright forbidden from talking about it.

epaga 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Though I do not consider this a wise move, it is limited to a week so I don't think the "harm" will be that great (however, nor do I think the benefit will be at all worth the effort of explaining the flags to people who didn't see this Tell HN).

The reason I don't consider it wise is that I think the current political situation is completely unique at least in my lifetime (<40 years) and is not the typical political camps bickering with each other over simply "politics".

Rather, this time around there are Real Issues that are Important. The current trend of populism will have global ramifications for many decades to come. Not allowing discussion on these topics seems counter-productive to me.

rubicon33 7 hours ago 0 replies      
While I don't general like censorship... I think this is great. I don't come to this forum for political discussions. I come here to here interesting stories from like minded scientists and inquisitive people. Politics is incredibly divisive and very rarely results in intriguing conversations, more usually name calling and flaming. Nice bold move from HN Mods.
RA_Fisher 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Politics is about the distribution of power, in that way it's much broader than government. It goes all the way from UN, WHO through nation-states down to the community, home and even bedroom. The personal is indeed political as they say [0].

Speech is a form of power. Decisions about which speech is allowed affect the distributions of power and it's easy to see how the decision to ban politics is itself political.

In this sense it's not possible to ban politics from HN, only to change the distribution of politics.

We should examine the ways that a ban like this might change the distributions of politics and power among the HN community. I suspect we'd find it reduces the power among marginalized communities. Even if you're not from one of those communities you can really benefit by reading their writings. In that case to cut off those voices is a shame. It's a loss.

Who's deciding what counts as political and not? Moderators. We should examine that. "Banning politics" essentially becomes "Moderators politics."

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_personal_is_political

jprzybyl 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this is a good idea. I realize that, you know, freedom of speech and all, but this is called HACKER NEWS.

I would personally like it best if the political news just lessened overall, rather than stopping entirely for a week, but what can you do. Can't just tell people "actually, the political thermometer is at 25C, gotta let it cool down to 21C."

grandalf 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> Have at this in the thread and if you have concerns we'll try to allay them. This really is an experiment; we don't have an opinion yet about longer-term changes. Our hope is that we can learn together by watching what happens when we try something new.

What are the criteria you've established for evaluating whether the experiment was a success? Do you have evidence of HN being used to seed political clickbait stories? Voting rings? Etc.?

justinzollars 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Please god. Great idea. Also I'm sick of reading about "Fake News". Please stop it. Please.
rileyriley 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the time for making ourselves uncomfortable and leaving room for others to speak.

It's dangerous to avoid short-term pain by stifling conflict. HN is about technology news and I don't think we should separate the "oh cool" part from the "how will this affect our neighbors" part.

taurath 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Discussing politics is truly a bit of a black hole - we have unlimited ability to argue for our principles but the truth is that if the sides are relatively secure in their positions and have data they trust to back it up there is no point in discussing further.

I applaud the admins for attempting something like this - communities need to develop strong opinions to survive, or else they will be torn apart by infighting when it becomes big enough that people no longer assume goodwill. This creates an ever-more toxic environment and poisons the well. At least then people are making a conscious choice to agree or disagree with the purpose/opinions of the community.

bluetwo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear lord yes.

I've been off Facebook for most of the year, and have noticed how many people have dropped Facebook like a rock after the election.

I have to wonder if their stats are going to suffer as a result.

ada1981 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems like yet another symptom of a culture that doesn't see the value of emotional states and thus tries to prevent triggers to such states. I think perhaps a system of encouraging rational thought and healing the underlying issues would be more effective. Also, politics is about how resources are allocated in society -- that means everything has a political implication for the most part. Politics doesn't have to be war. If hacker news is a garden, then politics is how we decide who gets to enjoy the fruits of the garden and who doesn't.

I see a need for an upgrade in political discourse, yet I'm not convinced eliminating conversations entirely is the answer.

Alex3917 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> Political conflicts cause harm here.

If not the ideal scenario, this certainly isn't the worst possible outcome. To paraphrase Martin Niemller, if you don't speak up for other people then who's going to be left to speak up for you?

Although it may appear the politics and gardening are unrelated or in opposition, there is actually an important link. PG always lists Kenneth Clark as one of his biggest influences. And if you actually watch Civilisation, in the first episode he says that it's a misconception that art arises whenever people have the resources to do things other than working or whatever. Rather, making art (loosely defined) always entails an enormous personal sacrifice, one which people only undertake when they have faith in the longterm stability of society.

ozten 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Politics are against the guidelines of HN. That is why I created Commit https://commit.ws/ after the election.

Everyone wanting to continue these conversations, please join us there.

jljljl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here's an article that was on the front page when I clicked into this discussion:


Is this political?

kanzure 6 hours ago 0 replies      
bootload 1 hour ago 0 replies      
While I agree with the idea, HN as a whole cannot totally avoid these kinds of issues: "Tech Companies Delay Diversity Reports to Rethink Goals". I haven't posted the link because it's not in the spirit of the detox and it's only one week. Do we avoid these types of discussions because they are ambiguous and hard?

 "Fashion is mistaken for good design; moral fashion is mistaken for good."
I understand the re-calibration of HN here. The choice of topics drift over periods of time and a reminder of the rationale is good hygiene.

 "Moral fashions more often seem to be created deliberately. When there's something we can't say, it's often because some group doesn't want us to."
I'm also reminded of a great essay [0] that for today should be mandatory reading.

[0] "What you can't Say" ~ http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html

t1mg 5 hours ago 0 replies      
HN has long gone from being dedicated just to programming and tech news. Why is it just now that you want it to be so "on-topic"?

In turbulent times like these, with hate speech, racism and sexism out of the shadows and in it's highest, it is crucial to be having conversations.

Being silent, burying head in the sand - not much different than siding on the side of the oppressor.

Whatever news are posted here - is a reflection of a community. If politics are posted, that is what people read. Instead, concentrate your efforts to battle those who game your algorithms for rankings.

spinchange 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I appreciate this effort and get the gist of the experiment. At the risk of being too philosophical, I'd just say, everything is inherently political, so drawing a line may prove to be tough in some cases. "Politics" can expressed in subtle ways and not necessarily as the central topic at hand, but imbued into it.

I'm reminded of Ted Nelson's notion that politics, loosely defined, is "clash and reconciliation of agendas" and, "If software is successful, it steers the path that many users take, and selects among many possibilities to further the creator's agenda...Suppressing the other possibilities may also be part of the agenda."


In any case, I get & appreciate the practical goal here and what you're looking to accomplish. I know I specifically need a Trump-related detox, in general (although not because of anything I've seen on HN).

matheweis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Politics are deeply engrained in the fabric of HN. Just a few examples that come immediately to mind:

* Peter Thiel's support of Trump.* Mass Surveillance Laws.* Net Neutrality.

Are we going to simply avoid any and all potentially controversial subjects?

jlebar 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> Why don't we have some politics but discuss it in thoughtful ways? Well, that's exactly what the HN guidelines call for, but it's insufficient to stop people from flaming each other when political conflicts activate the primitive brain

The unfortunate fact is that political discourse in America (and, I understand, in many places elsewhere), has been reduced to lizard-brain questions.

In particular, but certainly not as the only example, the US president-elect ran on a platform that many of us would characterize as playing off machismo and fight-or-flight, rather than actual policy proposals.

HN is a good thing not because it's a way to waste time at work, but because discussing technology ultimately helps us create better technology. But the assumption in this decision seems to be that discussing politics doesn't help us make better political decisions.

I think it's clear to most of us that tech's recent success is due in large part to communities -- open source, StackOverflow, and yes, HN. We learn from each other, and this makes us all better.

If we think this model doesn't apply to politics, that each of us is better left to make up our minds independently, and that we cannot learn from each other, I fear for the future of democracy.

tzs 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's not clear to me what is politics.

For instance, I just came across this interesting article from The Brookings Institution: "Another Clinton-Trump divide: High-output America vs low-output America" [1].

It's a look at how the election broke down by county. Clinton won 472 counties, Trump won 2584. The counties Clinton won produce 64% of the country's GDP, with Trump's counties producing 36%. With the exceptions of the Phoenix, Fort Worth, and a big chunk of Long Island, Clinton won all the counties that have large economies.

They have a neat visualization of all the counties by size of contribution to GDP and who won them.

The discuss how this big a divide is "unprecedented in the era of modern economic statistics".

The article itself is not taking any political position. It is just providing a way to perhaps get some insight into how the election came out the way it did.

Would this article count as politics and so be subject to this week's ban? Or is it an interesting look at data that happens to be data about a political event?

[1] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2016/11/29/another...

aroberge 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you very much for attempting this experiment.

Notwithstanding the enormous influence the U.S. has on the world, as someone living in another country, I welcome this very much. In my opinion, HN shines when it comes to discussions of technology, it does an ok job when it comes to discussing scientific topics, but it tends to break out into parochial cliques (with full cultural blinders on) when discussing topics like politics. This is worst (again, imo) when this happens in comments on other topics; when it is the main topic, at least one can easily avoid it.

aaachilless 5 hours ago 0 replies      
To toe the line between censorship and curation is an incredibly difficult task and I think, as a civilization, it's a fundamental problem. The thought and care and effort that's going into this problem right now is deeply important and I'm grateful towards those who take it seriously, and it's clear that dang (and other HN moderators) are of this class of people.

So my only piece of (hopefully) constructive criticism is that I think there's a prima facie less biased stance to take with an announcement like this. It might go like:

Dear HN,

HN, as a public discussion forum, is a dynamical system that's always "attempting" to spiral out of control. Hence, we have moderators. Our moderators can only inject so much stabilizing energy into HN, and we've noticed that many or most political discussions are more energized than we can handle. So, we're going to see what HN looks like from a moderator's POV when we disable political discussions.

I guess this too sounds a little alarming, but my point is that I think there could be a way to talk about the issue at hand in terms of pure magnitudes instead of using language that says anything qualitative about different types of discussions. Something about the idea that "we have certain values, these discussions aren't aligned with our values, these discussions don't belong here" is a little off-putting.

All that said, it's not at all ridiculous to test whether or not banning political debate may in fact make HN a more robust and effective knowledge hub. Hopefully this experiment will yield interesting results.

johngalt 4 hours ago 0 replies      
There are dozens of comments saying in effect "but politics are important!!!!"

That could certainly be true, but does that mean that they are important and appropriate in all circumstances? Are no areas allowed to have a politics free discussion?

I applaud this change. The only criticism I have is that it's limited to a week.

KingOfMyRoom 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not look at Wikipedia and see how they are tackling controversial topics? Here it sounds like a disappointing ostrich experiment. Let's bury our head in sand, let the storm pass away and see what happens.

I think it's a good think that people are indignant on both side. Let's organise ourself. We have the tools, the concepts, the technology. I am sure it's possible to find some common ground and have some data-driven debates/discussions and form some more balance opinions/belief.

politician 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi dang. About 45m ago, I added a comment [1] in the Amazon GO mega-thread that mentions the concept of religion. Is this comment acceptable per new policy?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13108455

(Aside: I believe that this detox experiment is treading on dangerous ground, that it will be a struggle to contain the amount of censorship that will happen as a result of encouraging people to flag each other in this way, and that the effects will linger beyond the 1 week time limit.)

jrubinovitz 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"Why don't we have some politics but discuss it in thoughtful ways? Well, that's exactly what the HN guidelines call for, but it's insufficient to stop people from flaming each other when political conflicts activate the primitive brain. Under such conditions, we become tribal creatures, not intellectually curious ones. We can't be both at the same time."

I think this calls for more moderation so users that can speak civilly and intellectually about politics can do so, not banning speaking of politics entirely. "Conflict activat[ing] the primitive brain" is rather infantilizing, gaslighting, and not true.

russelluresti 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> Those things are lost when political emotions seize control

> but it's insufficient to stop people from flaming each other when political conflicts activate the primitive brain.

Wait, is the entire premise behind this the idea that political differences can't be discussed in a respectful manner? History would disagree with you on this statement. People are capable of having political discussion without having a flame war, it happens all the time. You're taking the actions of a minority group and saying that because a few people are disrespectful we all have to bury our heads in the sand and avoid politics completely.

This is ridiculous.

madgar 7 hours ago 0 replies      
And to think, HN is already where I go to get away from politics. The site already only barely tracks the daily/weekly news cycle.
jimjimjim 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Yay, I fully endorse this policy and hope that it gets extended forever.

Would you always try to car discussions in a baseball forum?

They are both valid topics. But there is a reason why forums specialize on particular topics.

hooande 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems like you're doing a dry run of your ability to censor the community. By asking members to flag posts pertaining to politics, you're going to drastically offer what people see by default.

And when are you going to use this newfound ability again? When you arbitrarily get tired of some other topic? And even if you use this responsibly, what about the person who has your job next?

I've been active on this site for over eight years now. We've managed to govern ourselves just fine. I really hope this isn't a moment we all point back to in the future.

elcapitan 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we have a Javascript framework detox week the week after?
schoen 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This item immediately came up with the really great news that the California drought is ending:


So, that immediately prompted follow-up comments about rivalries between northern and southern Californians over water use (edit: including whether the choice of this metric is southern-Californian political propaganda!), about whether Californians can manage to reduce the amount of water that we need, about whether the west has too much human settlement, etc. While those may not align very well with political ideologies that have been the most controversial here, they could be seen as political questions (and they could potentially lead to flamewarring over different aspects of environmentalism).

How does this kind of topic fit in with this plan, dang?

netcraft 5 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the experiment? What is the hypothesis and what are the metrics we will be using to measure success or failure? I cannot understand how this is healthy or beneficial. If there are disrespectful comments, moderate them. But saying "some people cannot talk about these things constructively so lets not talk about these things at all" is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
bjourne 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think not talking about politics is counter-productive. I think if more people would talk to each other about political topics, then liars like Donald Trump wouldn't get elected.

Btw, if there are any Trump supporters on HN, it would be interesting to hear their views. Likely, due to how the community works they can't be heard due to downvoting and/or flagging which I think is a shame. I prefer more debate over less.

sixstringtheory 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Was this decision made top-down or in response to the desire of the community?

As someone who values the contributors to HN and appreciates the diverse set of opinions, perspectives and critical thinking I find here, which are all handled 99% of the time with decent respectfulness as far as I can tell, I find this effort kind of sad.

Hopefully we learn something good from this, but not sure what that could be, how to decide if it's good, or if it will be worth the effort.

nico_h 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A big part of today's media environment is mediated through tech's most popular and/or biggest companies (Facebook and Google, Reddit, probably to a smaller degree Apple), with the internal choices of tech's last big success (Facebook) having likely strongly influenced the last election.

I disagree strongly with suppression. You break it, you own it. the point of view of most younger and not so young people is nowadays mediated through tech via social media. Here is the place where it is most important to have a debate about that.

If you want to moderate it differently from other subjects, add a different set of tags or karma reservoir so that it doesn't spill over from it. I think it's important to keep the political stories on the front page, especially as this election's outcome will create incredible changes.

spoiledtechie 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you need political discourse in your week with something just like HN, feel free to go http://swintonreport.com

Sister site to HN the way it looks.

binarysolo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I get it, the spate of political discussion on HN is stressful as politics is people and the recent change in political climate means a musical chair of winners and losers of the process.

But I disagree about the approach -- what is politics anyways? Most polarizing these days: probably gender, race, and socioeconomic status, and the various parties cater to those human categories. We all inherently have these things that form the basis of our thoughts and how we see the world -- so I honestly don't think it's easy to separate.

If the cost of thoughtful conversations on politics is dealing with flame, then many of us are glad to pay the cost of doing business -- and I hope you'd find a majority of people here would behave similarly.

narrator 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I know an engineer from Iran. He's a great guy, not particularly religious at all. Pretty much a totally normal guy. I asked him about politics in Iran. He said when he was going to school for engineering in Iran where he grew up, his friends all made a pact to completely ignore and stay out of politics. He said it with a smile on his face and absolutely no regret.
bendmorris 3 hours ago 0 replies      
>...it's insufficient to stop people from flaming each other when political conflicts activate the primitive brain. Under such conditions, we become tribal creatures, not intellectually curious ones. We can't be both at the same time.

I 100% agree with this analysis, but is the answer really to avoid discussion of politics altogether? I don't agree, and I think of the forums I visit, this one has the best chance of maintaining a high percentage of rational discussion to tribal noise.

irickt 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I have had the feeling that HN has been surreptiously invaded by a troll army, specifically tasked with corrupting the ongoing discovery of consensus.
masterponomo 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand, and I know HN has the right to control speech in the forum it owns. So I will only write this in the thread where I have been invited to write it (and will note that I am a Libertarian so I of course did not vote for Trump): The major theme of the media and in many comment threads on many sites has been to decry the totalitarian, authoritarian nature of the coming Trump regime. I find it ironic that the response of HN is to implement thought control by suppressing an entire genre of thought. After all, once you rise above the level of bits and bytes, you are going to get into political speech.But go ahead.It's a free country.Just not a free forum (here, that is).
dragonwriter 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this some special narrow definition of "political", or is the expectation really that everything touching in any way upon government or public affairs of any country will be deemed off-topic and killed?

Because a very large share of HN stories and comments have political content in the dictionary definition (it's hard to address the societal impact of anything even in a descriptive way, much less to discuss views of the merits of such impacts, without such content.)

knowtheory 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey Dan,

This seems like a dramatically misguided attempt to rectify conversational tone.

You can't de-program or disregard people's politics, it's shot throughout everything. Politics frame the foundational approach to recommending policy, how we make decisions and the stories and topics we care about.

It's important to find common ground and ways to discuss topics in spite of politics, not deny the fact that politics pervades everything.

27182818284 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I welcome this experiment. There are so many other places for discussion and news about politics, but less so about startups and technology-hacker-related stories.
derefr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting experiment. I personally think decreasing the political "tone" of HN is a sensible goal, but I don't expect that this approach will do well for meeting that goal. Specifically, I don't think the people who most want HN to be political will respond well to this.

There is a reason the shadow-ban was invented: when loudmouthed/trollish users are allowed to realize they are unwelcome, they get angry, and express that anger by defacing, defaming, DDoSing, etc. the community that has rejected them.

My personal belief is that the best thing to do is to not disallow this content altogether, but rather to ghettoize it.

Two examples of this:

How Metafilter treats posts about Metafilter: they're allowed, but they have to go into a special "meta" ghetto, separate from regular content, where only people who want to see that kind of thing will have to see it.

4chan frequently makes new boardsnew "homes" for certain content typesjust to quarantine content it doesn't like. For example, /soc/ was not created because the 4chan moderators think 4chan should have a meetups+dating board, but rather because such threads were incessant on /b/.


Now, HN already has something quite like these approaches, but IMHO better: the "showdead" system for negative-scored posts, which ghettoizes posts but also individual comment subthreads of posts, in a very granular way.

Here's the experiment I'd like to see done, re-using the "showdead" code:

Split downvotes into an "irrelevant/Obviously Did Not Read The Article" button and a separate "is political" button (where you can press either or both on any given post.) Track the totals separately.

If a post's (upvotes - irrelevant) is negative, then it's "dead" as happens now, and you have to have "showdead" on to see it.

If a post's (upvotes - is_political) is negative, then it's "politics", and you have to have "showpolitics" on to see it.

If both scores are negative, then you have to have both filters on to see the post.

Posts would sort/rank according to (upvotes - sqrt(irrelevant^2 + is_political^2)).

I think this alternative would ensure that the people who most want to get into tribal flamewars would "go quietly into the night" (from everyone else's perspective), rather than becoming the sworn nemesis of the community.

js8 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is slightly off topic, but I think what would be interesting if someone would build a website with news that are actually _actionable_ by readers. So no politicians saying this or that, no crimes or disasters, no gossip. On the other hand, they would carry things like events that you can attend, petitions you can sign, rallies that you can participate in, items/services you can actually buy (as opposed to things you can buy next week), and so on.
pklausler 4 hours ago 0 replies      
What I really fear is that simple statements of fact, e.g. "average global temperatures are increasing", will be flagged as being (scare quotes) political (end scare quotes).
nunez 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes! This is awesome. All of the politics is tiring.
mnx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
To all the people saying there are lot's of other places to discuss politics - what good quality ones (with reasonable moderation, not total echo chambers, accessible to normal people) would you recommend? I'm genuinely asking, I feel like they are not that easy to be found. For my part, I like slatestarcodex.
alphonsegaston 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I fail to see how encouraging this kind of mentality, even in this small of a dose, doesn't further the historically disastrous mentality that engineering is separate from a social and historical context. There are scenarios now where the digital infrastructure of Google, Facebook, et al are seized upon (even more so) for widely destructive ends that have spiked in their probability. Apple is already showing signs of caving. And given the examples of companies like IBM, I'm not terribly optimistic that there's gonna be some kind of ground swell rebellion against the worse possible outcomes.
llamataboot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There's no such thing as a "non-political" story.
ben_jones 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I read HN multiple times a day and I feel like I'd have to go out of my way to find a post that was political, or even a comment that was political. Yes people will go off about anything NIMBYism, housing markets, javascript saturation etc, but what are the numbers? How much politics is really going on here?

Admittedly I'm probably at the point where I don't even see it when it's right in front of me, but it would be interesting to here from the mods of people who frequent /new.

int_19h 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting that comments seem to be either strongly in favor, or strongly against. I'll buck the trend and say that I personally don't actually care all that much.

I do like talking about politics, especially when it's polite and level-headed discussion (which seems to be the norm here in NH), and a lot of my comments are on that subject. So yes, it would be somewhat sad to see that go.

But the bulk of HN's value lies mostly elsewhere, and not being able to talk about politics here would still keep it a valuable platform and an interesting community to participate in.

So it's really not a big deal one way or the other.

karmacondon 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't know why we couldn't have voted on this. Whether it's a good idea or not, trying to impose something so broad on a community of hackers is an exercise in masochism.

I agree with everyone who has said that we're capable of making up our own minds about what to talk about. I don't think political discussions were ever a problem

grey-area 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I do think you should clarify what you mean by politics.

Clearly you don't mean stories touched by politics like uber tracking users or everything tech would be offtopic. Clearly you do mean stories about Trump. Somewhere in the middle a line has to be drawn.

twalling 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I think its a sad day that we can't attempt to be intellectually curious just because its politically related. This last election has prompted me to start reading more on both sides and has lead me to some other readings such as the constitution, economic theory, history, etc.

It is possible to talk about these topics from an academic perspective and it feels like banning it for a week is equivalent to putting your head in the sand and ignoring it because its too hard to have a conversation about it. This is exactly the behavior I was motivated to try and change in myself (stick to tech only, ignore other issues).

Yes, its very difficult to talk about some politics in thoughtful ways but I would hope a community like HN has the people needed to try and address some of the issues coming up. Be it technical (detecting fake news, biases, etc) or intellectual commentary.

ehh314156 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> Political conflicts cause harm here.

Preventing political discussions causes far more harm than it prevents. I understand the intent. I understand the problem. Flame wars are not productive. But I think this is a poor response to a valid problem.

abvdasker 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think this moment officially marks the point at which the American tech industry disappeared up its own asshole.
tomkat0789 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Even if they don't totally ban politics on HN forever, what if we keep a week/a few days a month where no politics are allowed - just as an occasional reminder that this is isn't supposed to be a political website. Maybe we can make Fridays politics free or something to remind people to chill.

I support the experiment! This is the sort of creativity and character that brings me to this site! I'm OK with topics with too much political overtone being a little stigmatized.

mrbill 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is welcome and refreshing.
csdreamer7 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree. As other have said, there is a great deal of anxiety over Trump's victory and what it means for our industry.

Arbitrarily banning relevant political topics could take away alot of the value I get from Hacker News. I expect news on Trump banning net neutrality to be on Hacker News. I expect news on fully automated McDonalds to be on Hacker News or Amazon suffering a bot revolt.

I can understand a need to flag unrelated political comments on non-political topics.

tomwrenn 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm worried about how this will effect civictech, edtech, govtech story coverage which has been great in recent years on HN and are important for helping the community to be informed of how it's contributing and how individuals can contribute to addressing societal issues.
protomyth 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It might be a very boring week for stories, and I do share drzaiusapelord's concern this is happening when a new cabinet is being announced. Plus some troubling laws out of Australia and the UK.

Science without philosophy is dangerous, and philosophy without science has no use. The political implications of technology are a big part of the discussion.

I guess I don't believe this step would have been taken if someone else won, and that belief, justified or unjustified, troubles me.

But, I guess anything that gets the damn pipeline news off HN is fine. I'm getting a little sick of the distortion field and do gooders that are going to leave people high-and-dry on that one.

[I voted 3rd party for the top spot in ND if it matters]

wyldfire 7 hours ago 0 replies      
shrug, I haven't seen any submissions or threads I'd consider political for over a week.
clackanon 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Hacker News: the place were conservative viewpoints are not welcome.

It's not discourse here. It's we shoot the messenger if they don't agree with us on everything.

I welcome the detox.

SloughFeg 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Politics (outside of those that affect tech) should have never been allowed in the first place. Any place where politics isn't specifically forbidden always degenerates into this sort of situation.
godmodus 6 hours ago 0 replies      
a welcomed move really.

i come here to read tech news and be part of one of the least toxic communities that's not my old irc channels.

as to politics, there's futurology and discussing sociology, and there's left vs right, "make mericuh gr8 agin" vs "gief all monies to poor" politics, which would put HN on some political brigade's list.

i don't have anything against future speculation and theorizing about conservative\liberal angles to automation and rise of AI or voting machine tech.

it'll be interesting to see what results the detox week will bear!

wu-ikkyu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
No force is affecting the sociopolitical landscape more than technology. Ignoring this weakens the community.

Carl Sagan, Buckminster Fuller, Thoreau, MLK and many others all spoke about how our technological development is far outpacing our sociopolitical development, to our own demise.

Arbitrarily attempting to censor and separate the two is grossly negligent.

unclesaamm 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Can we migrate to an open-source alternative to Hacker News already?
thegrandwizard 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The values of Hacker News are intellectual curiosity and thoughtful conversation.

Thank you for reminding us here about that. Let's make it a month? A year? :-)

markkhazanov 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Statements like this are exactly the reason why I have always been hesitant about having a relationship with Y Combinator. Reminders to be courteous are welcome, but a ban of political "stories" is completely inappropriate especially at a time when minority voices are already consistently silenced.
prewett 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As a one-off thing, this sounds good. Implemented longer, term, though, I think it would be trying to solve a problem by treating the symptoms. Politics isn't the problem, since politics is simply the process of making group decisions. The problem is not the topic but the behavior.

So what does good, relevant, political discussion on HN look like? What does bad (but relevant) political discussion look like? Then update the guidelines accordingly. Maybe the guidelines could even have examples.

vic-traill 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how I feel about the idea. [Rumination Required]

However, I definitely like that you're trying it out.

6stringmerc 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Considering the consistent nature of at least one very prominent YCombinator staff member (leader) inserting themselves into political and/or low-rent gossipy slap-fights, I can both appreciate the "sentiment" or "rationale" behind a Detox Week on HN, and concurrently derisively laugh at the ignorant hypocrisy deploying such an edict reflects in practice.

I mean, yeah I get it's probably a lot of work to moderate all the political related discourse and keep the lanes wide enough for a lot of different voices, but it's the catch that comes with having a "community" in the first place.

If this is the first of a series of "experiments" I wonder which other "conflicts" might "cause harm here" - Identity Discussions? Health care in the US? As cheap as it might sound to pull out a slippery-slope card here, it seems rather apropos.

I get a lot of flack for it here, but if you don't think Politics and Tech are coiled together in significant ways - eg. DMCA and Copyright - then you're just ignorant, childish, and a fool. SV and tech culture is actively using the "Political System" just like every other special interest. Pretending there's some kind of effin' halo over the Hacker News community where such conversations are "below" or "too conflict loaded" then just shut down the forum altogether.

Man discovers fire. Man burns self. Man puts out fire. The end.

armenarmen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Are we talking just us election controversy stuff? If so, this sounds like a welcomed reprieve.

However if this blackout includes government level censorship and attacks on internet freedom it seems like a bad move

oxide 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I fully support this and think it's been a long time coming.

Civil discussion and political discussion are fully incompatible.

CN7R 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree.

Detox will not strengthen the immune system of HN.

Immunity is conferred when the 'garden' is threatened and unifies to counter a problem.

That problem? Inflammatory, unsubstantiated comments that cause people to upvote and downvote not based on the validity of the comment but whether it's favorable to their ideological values.

I believe people can have civilized discussions about politics in HN -- I've seen it before.

lettergram 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Most of the politics on HN has been significantly less than previous years. Previously, I could go to HN and get knowledge about various topics related to election results, polling bias, etc. Now, it's pretty limited, literally I saw/see zero items related to politics most days. Honestly, I think politics has as much to do about "hacking" as just about everything else.

Also, who decides what's political. I'm sick of hearing about socialist ideology, and I consider it politics, but I'm guessing that's not what you mean...

debergalis 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a most unfortunate framing. Politics is not toxic. It is the means by which our society discusses and makes big decisions. Perhaps s/Detox/Vacation/ could have worked?

Certain types of political discussion most certainly can be toxic. I'd support any effort to keep HN free of that. I'd also respect a choice to keep HN completely free of politics if you chose to go in that direction, though I'd rather see a more positive attempt to get the HN community more engaged with the serious political issues of our time.

keepper 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Who says you get to ask why? No, really!

If hacker news is getting political, that is a function of it's users ( and the social climate ). A community is built by its members. For better or worse.

Work on addressing the issues that make the discourse toxic. What does covering the sun with the censorship finger actually accomplish?

d3k 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I had always seen HN as a place where people curious about technology, culture and society share article links and comment about them. The moderation is what makes it work. I really do not see why censorship (or detox if you prefer) on political matters should be necessary. if HN really needs this, it might even mean that its audience needs to be educated. And if that is the case it might mean the level you get in here is deemed to decline.
mesozoic 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you this is fantastic. I try to keep political discussions separate from technology and being unable to read hacker news without facing political discussions is taxing.
grandalf 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is all well and good unless this happens to be the week our government passes a law to require muslims to register, etc.

Considering the low quality of political discussion in general (and especially on the internet), HN is one of the few places where there are generally reasonable, well-thought-out views.

Obviously YC doesn't want HN to discuss politics because it could create a divisive atmosphere and alienate people, resulting in lower levels of engagement and harm to the YC brand.

btbuildem 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Sure, bury your heads in the sand. Your country is taking a shortcut to Mad Max land, and there's not much to be done at this point anyway.
a3n 4 hours ago 0 replies      
And when the experiment is over, please remember ... If you don't like political posts, they're usually obvious and you don't have to read (or upvote) them. The front page goes by slowly enough that the news you like won't get crowded out.
lez 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I was planning to delay the point when I get to know who the winner was on the elections... (I live in Europe) In work nobody speaks about politics. I don't read traditional news sites. I was just curious who will tell me first. Then I opened Hacker News...
shaunol 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure what to think about this in the context of HN. I've seen other such stances in other communities where it just ends up being a way to enforce/preserve a political bias. Where some stories get a pass for special reasons "oh, this is noteworthy, and from a credible source!", it's just laughable. I hope this doesn't happen here.
julian_1 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent decision. You only need to look at what happened on reddit in /r/politics or /r/the_donald. The polarization is poison for creating a shared culture for intelligent discussion of topical issues. To be sure - these debates are important - but it's not like there's a shortage of forums that do cater to this stuff.
Dowwie 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Uh oh! Now you've really thrown down the gauntlet! If the message forum has an immune system, you're one tough white blood cell.
Findeton 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you, I'd also prefer HN is only tangentially political. I don't want it to become reddit.
legostormtroopr 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone on the left is calling this oppression and suppression.

Everyone on the right is calling this an affront to free speech.

When you piss off everyone, you are probably doing the right thing.

binarymax 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you please give specific examples of what "politics" entails, aside from the obvious (so we know where to draw the line)?

For example, as of writing, the #3 post is "Silicon Valleys Culture, Not Its Companies, Dominates in China (nytimes.com)". I would classify this as political, but others might not.

--EDIT-- I would also classify this front page post as (internally) political: "Dear JavaScript (medium.com)"

mgalka 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it's a great idea. Will this be posted publicly somewhere so people who did not see this post will know not to submit political stories?
qguv 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a mistake. The sort of problems we have in the US can't be solved with censorship and earplugs. If anything, we need more conversation, not less.

Ditto to the many commenters who point out that nothing is apolitical and that such censorship would be subjective anyway.

Don't do this.

jmcgough 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Does this include local bay area news (housing discussion etc)? A lot of that can be borderline political but still very relevant to startuppers.
kafkaesq 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a worthwhile enough experiment. And at the risk of sounding political: what better time than now?

Either way, we'll see how it goes.

feedjoelpie 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Are you trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist except for the most hardcore HN users?

Because I haven't lately noticed much of the phenomenon you're talking about. And in the first 3 pages I just skimmed over, I didn't see anything that was so political as to be flamewar fodder.

Are you sure you're not trying to solve a problem that your average user doesn't even have?

Isamu 7 hours ago 0 replies      
We could, I dunno, talk about tech, I suppose ...
adzicg 3 hours ago 0 replies      
being outside US, I strongly support this. I couldn't care less about who leads team america world police, it's all the same anyway. HN is my tech news site, and politics is just a distraction. I understand that US citizens feel strongly about their government, but it's not really tech news.
ajamesm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> For one week, political stories are off-topic. Please flag them. Please also flag political threads on non-political stories. For our part, we'll kill such stories and threads when we see them. Then we'll watch together to see what happens.

Okay, I've flagged this one thread titled "Tell HN: Political Detox Week No politics on HN for one week". It was this strange and laborious screed about how political speech is harmful or something?

Privileging "non-political" speech is an implicit endorsement of the status-quo, and thereby, an incredibly political action.

davidw 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you!
sebastianconcpt 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The metaphor is good and the approach and description is actually great. The challenge is that this issue doesn't only happen in the political domain, it can happen in the philosophical and intellectual domains too via the cultural competition (AKA cultural war)
fillskills 5 hours ago 0 replies      
As an experiment and a temporary detox, I am all for it. Totally worth testing. But something to keep in mind is that politics is something that needs the help HN community can provide with a thoughtful discussion
robinduckett 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I would argue that any startup or financial news is political, in that politics shapes the capitalist foundation of our society. HN is Politics, and to try and separate and moderate this type of news is exactly the kind of thing that makes people leave your site in droves.
shawndumas 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we have an objective criteria with which to judge which comments/stories are political?

Examples would be helpful as well...

JoeAltmaier 5 hours ago 0 replies      
No need; the new 'hide' feature lets me ignore all that for days at a time. The flamers are burning somewhere, but I don't see it and I don't get singed.
ClassyJacket 4 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a shame. I don't want to see Hacker News become reddit, with anything that has the slightest chance of upsetting someone being banned.
scblock 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a bad idea. I don't know how you managed to convince yourself that it's not.
redthrowaway 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the political issues that are of extreme interest to people here that aren't toxic (crypto backdoors, h1b, etc), why not modify the rule to be "no election discussion, broadly defined" rather than "no politics"?
rudolf0 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd rather there be some kind of isolation of political discussion rather than an outright ban for a week.

Maybe just have a permanent/rotating "politics/culture/society" thread for people to share whatever?

whack 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this idea as a short-term experiment. Here's another in the same vein: stories with voting enabled but comments disabled. Kind of like a focus group where you just listen to others, without jumping in to assert your own viewpoints.
fractalwrench 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What happens if something incredibly important happens during this week in politics, is it simply not up for discussion at all? For example, what happens if a world leader is assassinated or a conflict breaks out?
Gargoyle 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I 100% support this and would like to see it made permanent.
fatdog 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Can we train up a sentiment analyzer on the delta between the stories and comments this week vs. all others, and then apply it to discovering "political discussion?"
denom 6 hours ago 0 replies      
We live in a political world. Any attempt for the HN community to bisect the set of stories that make up our everyday experience will only illustrate the political bias of the aggregate opinion.
Lagged2Death 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Making an "is politics / is not politics" judgement is itself a political act. The goal itself is sort of impossible-in-principle.
ccarter84 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Wish you'd wait til voting machine tapering allegations were cleared, but hey, go nuts.
ryancnelson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This'll be interesting. What defines "political topics"?

Is climate change news political? Edward Snowden news? Wikileaks? A new build of the Signal app? Hyperloop news?

clamprecht 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish we could do this on the Internet for a week (or more).
drewrv 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What's considered political and what's considered non-political?

Can we discuss ethics? Is saying "racism is bad" political?

What about facts? "Torture is ineffective" or "carbon emissions harm the planet"?

dannyr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It is such a great privilege that to some people, politics is just noise that you can turn off.

To some people, their livelihood and survival are on line based on what our politicians do.

eli_gottlieb 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Aye-aye sir. I'll be following the new rule with enthusiasm, actually. It'll be nice to have fewer discussions of $POLITICAL_THING_RUINING_THE_WORLD and more about interesting stuff like OpenAI.
mmanfrin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the line? Does Net Neutrality count as 'politics'? It is a very political topic, but also one that is important to this community. How are you drawing the line?
fredgrott 4 hours ago 0 replies      
avoiding what is coming is no way to critically think..its like say oh holding technology to this loft position without acknowledging jobs due to technology progress and government's lack of solutions..

The flames,etc are symptoms..and this is just as bad..

We need a somewhat deeper solution and the discussion of one...

johnhess 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there data (say a drastically increased flag rate, number of flame wars, etc.) that show that today is different than 2 months ago?
metaphorm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I appreciate the sentiment but I fear a slippery slope. What counts as "politics"?
justathought123 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If you think political conflicts cause harm, maybe you should change how you approach conflict rather than pretending it doesn't exist?
slater 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Can we have an Amazon/AWS "news" detox week, too? :D
maxxxxx 6 hours ago 0 replies      
How about not using the words liberal/conservative/Democrat/ Republican/socialist/racist and discuss issues instead?
Uhhrrr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I like this experiment, so long as we can have exceptions for obviously relevant new material, i.e. "Trump advocates backdoor for Linux kernel" or some such.
ronnier 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks. I stop reading facebook because I've grown so tired of the political posts and comments. As for reddit, thankfully I can filter out political reddits now.
yk 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the experiment, even if I am not too fond of the idea. However it is 2016, so is there a procedure when politics becomes very clearly relevant in the coming week?
zacharycohn 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war."
Jach 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Yay, my five year old request for a moratorium (though it was for 2 months, not just a week...) is being honored. :) But really thanks for trying it, I hope it does good.
tdutreui 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Experimenting it just 1 week cannot hurt.That said, defining the scope of what should be banned is tricky.Exemple on recent Amazon Go article and the so famous "Is massive automation implying jobs removing a good thing" :This question is not about politics but will led to "tribal behaviour" as you call it.Will you also ban such debates? If so where is your censor power limit?
smkellat 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Politics? Are we referring to Clinton versus Trump or vi versus emacs? :-)
unimpressive 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't have a lot to say, except that I support this measure and wanted to comment so that's in the record.
kakarot 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, and we can have safer sex too if we just don't have sex.
jcoffland 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought this was already every week on HN. There are very few politics related articles. Pushing the point is a bit much IMO.
newobj 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Hacker News is OVER
user5994461 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The title could have been: Let's make HN great again!
sosuke 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What metrics are you planning on using to measure the results of this experiment?

I'm all for it, yay experiments!

donohoe 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I want to register my disgust at this suggestion.
losteverything 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Growing up


All "no nos"

Still Good Advice!!

Now I add

Money, abortion, Hitler, the holocaust, child care, and elder care.

tristanb 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is ridiculous. Becoming an Ostrich is never a solution. Shame on you.
Fiahil 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What about non-American politics?
nemof 7 hours ago 0 replies      
when one of the most significant figures in politics right now uses twitter as their platform for communicating with their support base, for better or worse, the idea of being politics agnostic just seems silly.
adamfeldman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Much needed
Mz 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I have almost zero interest in politics. I can think of one politically-framed piece I posted recently because of the GIS content and it was flagged to death promptly. I wish I could have found a non political write up of the project, which I believe predated the political situation that the article spun it around. Perhaps I shall look a little harder today to see if such a thing exists.

I am totally cool with this experiment. It is hard enough to foster good discussion online even without politics.


calibraxis 1 hour ago 0 replies      
> What Hacker News is: a place for stories that gratify intellectual curiosity and civil, substantive comments.

It's "startup news": computing for capitalism. We work on social media without knowing anything about sociology. We work on advertising, which is corporate propaganda. We have no vision of the future, unlike technologists in a sane world, so we build a dystopian bureaucratic nightmare where I'm literally filling out a form right now.

Anyway, politics is for billionaires.

neom 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you! I hope we can still talk about Leonard Cohen though.
AlexCoventry 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Overall, I think this is a good idea, but it probably needs to be made more precise for it to work. What is a political topic, exactly? Are IETF politics off-topic this week? What about advice for NSA employees trying to pull a Snowden?
hackuser 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> Why don't we have some politics but discuss it in thoughtful ways? Well, that's exactly what the HN guidelines call for, but it's insufficient ...

Agreed. I've been thinking about how communities can handle this problem for awhile. A solution to it would be revolutionary, in a very good way for the entire Internet, and what better place to experiment with and develop a solution than HN. Here's my over-ambitious shot at a solution, based only on experience in online communities:


I propose that we have different rules, much higher standards for commenting, for hot button issues. When these situations come up, our moderators could post something like,

 ** Hot button rules apply **
(Or make up a different name: 'Cool head rules' 'Ice down rules' 'Rationality'?) For those issues, the guidelines would add the following and be strictly enforced:


1) Be precise: Who? Did? What?

Who should be a proper noun; only individuals (and in some cases, specific organizations like 'Acmesoft') actually have thoughts, motives, and perform actions; groups do none of those things - we are not hive minds. This eliminates lazily broad statements with huge implications that provoke anger and fear, stereotype large groups, and don't make us any better informed. 'Tennesseans hate Kentuckyians' doesn't inform anyone - there is nothing all Tennesseans agree on, and nobody can possibly read all their minds, and we know nothing more after reading it than we did before - but '60% of Tennesseans who responded to this survey say they have stopped visiting Kentucky' is fine.

Did: HN readers mostly grasp empirical science and should be able to understand: Only actions are observable, not other people's thoughts and feelings - though you can observe what they say about their thoughts.

What, used precisely, eliminates sloppy characterizations. 'Tennessee Governor Jane Jones despises Kentucky BBQ.' No, what actually happened? 'Tennessee Governor Jane Jones said, "I despise seeing Kentucky BBQ taking jobs from hardworking Tennessee chefs."'

Finally, Be precise also means: No hyperbole.


2) Context is required: Where and when

Where and when are essential context. Think of your high school writing guidelines: Who, what, where, when, etc. 'Tennessee Governor Jane Jones said, "I despise seeing Kentucky BBQ taking jobs from hardworking Tennessee chefs."': It is essential to know when she said that (1985? 2010? Before the Kentucky-Tennessee trade war began or after?) and where (On a campaign stop in a TN BBQ restaurant? The title of a book? A tweet? A warm-up joke for a speech?); otherwise, we have no idea what really happened.


3) Back it up:

The burden of proof is much higher, and on the commenter: Respected scholarly research (not someone's self-published book) or highly respected news media, and not in a column or editorial. Wikipedia's Reliable Source rules may help here, but with higher standards for sources (and also actually applied here; Wikipedia articles often ignore the standards).



4) Be 100% respectful, as if talking to someone important to you whom you respect. No exceptions; no grey areas; stay well away from this line.


5) The only idea we don't tolerate is intolerance itself. See Karl Popper's Paradox of Intolerance if you want to go deeper on this. Or a simpler way to approach it: Tolerance is a social contract - you tolerate me and I'll tolerate you.


6) These rules apply to anyone you quote, also. You can't say 'Kentuckians suck', and you can't quote someone else saying it (except to talk about the quoted person's habit of broad stereotypes).


Comments violating these guidelines are immediately, mercilessly killed dead. Busy moderators may not have time to explain why, but in most cases you can find the reason(s) here pretty easily. Feel free to rewrite according to the guidelines and try again.


By now you may be thinking: 'With those standards, I won't have much to say on inflammatory topic X!' or 'Those will be much shorter threads!' or 'I'd really need some good information and think it through in order to comment!' Good; you understand. Imagine if we restricted those discussions to only valuable, informative content. The contents of the threads could actually advance our knowledge about inflammatory, often very important, issues. It's almost hard conceive of. We could actually, in the heat of an issue, advance rational public discussion - a goal that has seemed so intractable that it's almost forgotten; it seems almost fanciful. The perfect challenge.

It also eliminates the prominent problem of people making endless wild allegations for others to refute (see rule #3 - they must back up what they post). So instead of endlessly repeating the same low-value information back and forth, we'd actually gain real knowledge from each other. And if some threads are very short, then what have we lost? A bunch of low-value comments from uniformed commenters? Ideological rants? Things we've heard a thousand times before? It even will save some disk space and bandwidth, and reduce page load times.

Finally, if it works - which not at all a sure thing and will require fine-tuning at the very least - the concept could be used by other online communities. What we develop here - not software, but guidelines for community interaction - it could change the world, in a way that it badly needs and longs for.

Jd 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Next up, Rilke week? ;)
arca_vorago 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Technology is inherently political, you cannot separate hackers from politics, and to try is a fools errand.

That being said, I think I understand where this is coming from, so I have empathy with dang and the hn team about it, but I disagree with this move on principle, especially now, at a time when some very important techno-political moves are being made.

For example, the FBI now claims to have the ability to use 0-days to hack thousands of computers on a single search warrant! It's completely unconstitutional, and that is a huge deal, technologically, and politically, that I haven't seen addressed by any crowd very well, and it's the kind of discussion HN needs to have, not to avoid. To suddenly have a non-political week when some of the most important things, time sensitive things, are happening right now is not good at all.

The timing of this also feels suspicious, and there is something else that feels suspicious to me as well, and that's the algorithm that controls what is on the front page. I've seen repeatedly, enough to no longer call it just coincidence, that stories of techno-political important, like the FBI one, get ~250/500+ points and have ~100/300 comments, that are completely off the front page long before is normal for more mundane stuff. I think the hn userbase deserve more transparency on this front.

HN is an American based forum, so while I understand the want to lean towards a type of globalistic technocratic neutrality, I think that is a mistake and fails to take into account the primary user-base, and I think the hackers and geeks of the world, but in particular America, have a duty to participate in the political discussion that is going to be needed to steer policy of our American system, because the revolutionary nature of technology is quickly getting out of control for ordinary citizens and politicians, and our system impacts the rest of the world.

We need more politics, not less, but we need it in the unique HN style where people can have good manners on the discourse, which is much more conducive to intellectual conversation than just about any other internet forum I can think of other than slashdot in it's heyday.

With the increasing totalitarian surveillance society that we as hackers have handed to the politicians through technology, I think we have a duty to also protect the citizen-victims of our technology run amok in the hands of others. We can't, and shouldn't, hand a technological nuclear weapon to nation states and just walk away and say, but we just want to talk about the technology of the thing. It's a naive and fundamentally flawed process of thinking. I also think it's time for the HN team and it's users to have a more serious discussion about how they want to participate in the future of the internet, and the dystopian society it is enabling, piece by piece.

I also have a single question for the HN team:

Have you been pressured by the US government in any way shape or form on this subject?

In protest of this move, I will not be participating on HN until the week is up.

ohstopitu 6 hours ago 0 replies      
if this is happening, could we have a weekly political thread?

(kind of like how we have monthly who's hiring thread)

That way we can have the cake and eat it too.

drivingmenuts 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I already did my detox. Deleted my bookmarks to political news sites, unfriended some IMHO toxic people on FB and have generally refrained from commenting on politics, of any kind, since the election.

Kind of plan on staying that course.

Keep the political links, discussions, etc. It's not like I have to read them or comment on them if they appear.

And neither do you.

guelo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A "safe space" if you will.
chillingeffect 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If this is an experiment, what is the hypothesis? And how will we know if it was successful or not?

"Our hope is that we can learn together by watching what happens when we try something new." is very vague.

This sounds more like an exercise of power.

baq 6 hours ago 1 reply      
might as well declare 'emotion detox week' and bury everything not written by robots.

this decision is actively contributing to erosion of the free world, as if not talking about politics makes them go away. hint: it's not and technology and hackers are changing the world so much politics necessarily enters the debate and it just can't be worked around.

ps. is uber breaking labor laws around the world politics or not?

smpetrey 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a bad idea.
LordFrith 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad you didn't announce this last week. Then it would have been AWS articles only!
mschuster91 5 hours ago 0 replies      

my personal POV is that a lot of issues affecting the tech community at large resolve to politics in the end - be it the fight of cities and entire countries against AirBnB and Uber for example, the infamous Flint water disaster, the "fake news" battle, internet censorship, snoopers' overreach, the role of Big Data in elections, voting machine fraud...

Nearly every story (even those about new startups "disrupting" a specific market - markets ripe for disruption are usually created by political decisions, be it Republicans or Democrats!) has its base in politics, and I believe it is our duty as citizens and educated people to call politicians and their parties out when they mess stuff up.

Therefore, I believe that prohibiting political discussions outright is a dangerous move - I'm all fine with penalties or flagging if a discussion devolves into outright fight, but not for simply bringing up the topic.

geff82 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice idea in the current climate. If we now also stopped talking about religion, we'd have a freemason-like room for open conversation.
cryoshon 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Just passing by this thread to register intense negativity against this plan. HN shouldn't be a "safe space".

Shutting down discussion of "politics"-- the methodology of distribution of resources within a society-- is the complete opposite of gratifying intellectual curiosity and having substantive comments. How is it possible to gratify curiosity, when you're not allowed to start the discussion? How can the substance of your comments be displayed when the topic is verboten? Perhaps what dang is upset about is the tone with which these comments are conducted. Sure, they're shrill, sometimes. But isn't it natural to be shrill when discussing issues of morality and heavy consequence?

As far as HN not being intended for use as a political or ideological battlefield: that dream is dead. Technology touches every aspect of humankind, and yes, that means it's political.

whybroke 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Very true, high emotions preclude clear thinking and this week will be a worthwhile experiment. But unfortunately web technologies are at the core of recent political events making this a very hard problem. For example will discussion on the following topics be disallowed for the week?

-Discussions of intrusions into US infrastructure by Russia which, curiously, always engender enormous political controversy.

-Manipulation of social media for political ends both manual and automated.

-Policy changes on net neutrality proposed by the president elect or others.

-Governmental surveillance as is and as likely to evolve.

-Trolling as a political tool to disrupt opposing communities.

One level up, there is also the possibility that calm well informed discussion is the exact thing that is targeted for destruction. But perhaps this week's experiment will take some steps towards thinking about that.

facepalm 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope that includes stories about alleged racism and sexism in the tech industry...
freshflowers 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Politics isn't some isolated thing. Politics is about everything we do and say. A techie elite deciding what they do isn't political, or worse, beyond politics, is part of what got us to this point in the first place.

> HN is a garden, politics is war by other means

Denial, denial, denial. This is like the arms dealers selling to both sides in third world conflict and claiming they are ethically above the killing.

You claim intellectual curiosity, but you peddle intellectual dishonesty.

Thank you, btw. I left HN months ago, and today come back to see exactly the pathetic hypocrisy that turned me off in the first place. Shit like this makes me be ashamed to be part of the tech community.

Sure, let's hide from the real world and pretend it isn't happening.

CalChris 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I disagree but those are the rules.
pfarnsworth 7 hours ago 1 reply      
dang, doing things like this is turning HN more into reddit with heavy-handing modding, than just letting the community dictate for itself what it wants to see. The community has existed and guided itself a lot longer than the time you've been around, I think you should trust us.
johanneskanybal 3 hours ago 0 replies      
livestyle 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this policy would be coming down the pipe of Madame President were elected..
ocdtrekkie 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds awesome. Politics has weighed heavily on here at times, even on topics that... just aren't relevant to the tech industry.

It'll be interesting to see where this line falls on tech politics stories this week. Is a post about like... the FCC transition team in or out this week? It's definitely political, but also very tech.

hooph00p 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is cowardly.
kaeluka 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this experiment!
pessimizer 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Anything even vaguely political gets flagged to hell within minutes anyway, even if they're directly applicable to technology such as labor issues, electronic surveillance, antitrust, FCC news, the editorial control of news in walled gardens, electronic voting, domestic organized commenting squads (as opposed to Russian and Chinese, which are always fair game.) The idea that it's somehow clogging up HN more than the endless glut of random light WaPo, NYT and Nautilus science articles is weird.

I'd be interested in examples of what a political story or a political thread are, because none were given.

SFJulie 4 hours ago 0 replies      
So I love Condorcet's works .... on voting. Nothing politics ... just maths.

So I love Plato's work on SiFi hypothesis : what it means to be invsible and the implication on moralilty (cf privacy) ... just philosophy.

So I love Jeremy Bentham nerdy works of architecture on how to build perfect jails where the one in power can watch everything the others do without being watched ... just architecture.

Finally, I love Gary Gigax (D&D) quote : evil (or politic) is in the eye of the beholder!

zeveb 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My biggest concern is the question of what is politics? Surely partisan political issues are politics, but is the position of women in tech also politics? Is climate science? I can see good arguments in either direction. The problem, then, is that it places too much power in the hands of those who answer the question of whether something is politics or not.

HN is already pretty bad at silencing opinions outside the groupthink common wisdom; I think this would just make it worse.

tn13 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> Why? Political conflicts cause harm here. The values of Hacker News are intellectual curiosity and thoughtful conversation. Those things are lost when political emotions seize control.

Decides and all wise and smart moderator. People on HN somehow are capable of perfectly logical and intellectually enlightening arguments when discussing Javascript frameworks, best practices of team management, recruiting processes and if women are less paid in tech industry and their love and devotion for Elon Musk.

> Worse, these harsher patterns can spread through the rest of the culture, threatening the community as a whole. A detox week seems like a good way to strengthen the immune system and to see how HN functions under altered conditions.

How a detox week helps compared to outright banning it ? Isnt that better ?

This is how I read above comment:

Some HN users might be feeling triggered to hear opinions that go against their own political opinions. Such people might be in large numbers. Censoring political opinions might help HN to keep these users. But HN moderators are not sure if this hurts HN very badly. This detox week is basically an A/B test to see if HN does indeed lose by censoring political opinions.

This must be renamed to "Political Safe Space Week to figure out if we can outright ban political speech on HN".

anotheryou 6 hours ago 0 replies      
only if we do a no tech week after that :)
bambax 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> HN is a garden

and Attila is going to trample all over it.

markharris99 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Honestly not surprised about this. I'm a long time reader, short time commentator.

HN is a left liberal leaning website. They believe in a borderless world, where all countries should take regugees and have their native society be diluted. Too big to fail government and regulation, except when they can come in and disrupt something. It's ok for them and their investors to reap the rewards where the little guy suffers losing his job.

Sure the little guy can retrain in STEM, doesn't matter if he racks up masses of debt and takes 10+ years. Oh, he can't do that, well there's always basic income.

I expect to be downvoted here, but lets just say. If you are against everything I said. You'd fit well here. Nevermind that America just voted and said a big NO to NY and CA.

Oh and consider this account abandoned. Looks like I've been warned by dang with my last post. Which was sarcasm. But because I attacked his beloved Hillary Cliton, Nancy Pelosi, Jill Stein.

Seriously CA cannot go bankrupt fast enough! A pox on your house.

ebbv 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the motives behind this decision but after deliberating for the last two hours I have to say I think it's a bad decision.

HN should stand up for values it believes in, not just tech as if it exists in a vacuum. If HN believes in diversity and LGBT rights, it should stand up for it. If HN believes in corporate deregulation and dismantling of the EPA, it should stand up for it.

The idea that HN is neutral on all these issues is just false. HN is the people who run it. They have views and a vision for the site. What kind of site do they want it to be? Stand up for that vision. People who don't like it can go elsewhere.

Reddit and Twitter and other sites have made a huge mistake in the past allowing racism and hate to fester in their midst. They should have thrown those people off years ago. They have other sites to go to.

Anyway, that's my view. It's time for people to stand up for what they believe in.

thesimpsons1022 2 hours ago 0 replies      
perfect week for trump to trample digital rights and we have to stay quiet about it because crybaby racists who voted him in don't want their feelings hurt.
throw2016 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. This camel in the sand approach clamors to roll back to a time when tech was not political.

But now tech is political, surveillance and the surveillance economy being built by SV companies is political, techologists working for the government building invasive surveillance systems is political, the betrayal of people by a technical elite is political, the censorship advocated by social media based out of sv is political, AI is political.

Ignoring this is like an arms supplier turning a blind eye to his weapons used to kill innocents choosing to focus on specifications. ie a world without morality. That's not protecting values or intellectual curiosity, its killing it.

The kind of forum HN has morphed into for lack of an alternative cannot be run by an organization with commercial interests. Then you get knee jerk arbitary decisions like this that begets a culture of passivity accepting what ever is handed down to you. I think the technical voice needs more robust expression and to speak as one with the rest of the population rather than seek isolation and alienation.

vacri 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Good show, I say. Should have gone for a month though, not a week (can't please everyone, eh?)

About 15 years ago I was part of a general forum run by a kiwi, who was frustrated at US politics overtaking his site (which was the bulk of political talk there). He implemented a month-long ban on US politics... and the site got more peaceful and more interesting. The effect lasted afterwards, too, though the userbase was < 100.

boneheadmed 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Hear, hear!
geuis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with this. Trying to divorce issues related to the tech industry from HN is irresponsible. We can't bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best.

Purely political posts rarely make it to the front page anyway. And having those discussions in comments is what comments are there for.

The only thing I'm going to flag is this post.

Karunamon 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One concern I immediately have is that what is politics to one person might not be politics to another, and given that too many flags that are judged to be inaccurate result in the removal of the user's ability to flag...

You see where I'm going with this. It may be worth rescinding that policy during the testing period.

SixSigma 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Life is politics here's 2 from the current front page :

8 - Silicon Valleys Culture, Not Its Companies, Dominates in China (nytimes.com)

21 - Russian deaths from malnutrition rate 5x lower than in the US (worldlifeexpectancy.com)

MrZongle2 6 hours ago 1 reply      
God, where was this two weeks ago?
banach 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Good idea.
paulddraper 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> It's over. After 20 months it's finally over...I'm free.


s_q_b 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I live in Northwest Washington, D.C. I am a technologist, a government contractor, and an HN member for many years under various accounts since 2008.

I respectfully disagree.

Yesterday someone motivated by the "Pizzagate" story, spread and enabled by the social media systems we designed, fired multiple shots from a semi-automatic weapon into a crowded restaurant near my home.

My partner and I passed the crime scene shortly thereafter on our way back to our apartment.

The new National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, endorsed the totally false rumors that led to this shooting. He will soon be empowered by the full force of the nation's intelligence agencies.

I want you to very carefully consider the implications of what he could do with access to that power, and the potential result of blocking discussion of such issues, particularly at this moment in time.

kushti 7 hours ago 1 reply      
jamez1 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this because the HN preferred candidate lost? HN staff are upset and censor things in response?

I'm disappointed, if you can't handle politics how are you meant to disrupt an industry? Everything about our industry is political.. how are we meant to navigate our world if we can't debate one of the most defining aspects of it.

If you can't stand the heat stay out of the kitchen. Don't censor important relevant discussions because of your emotions! You are failing your community

shitgoose 7 hours ago 1 reply      
so HN users admit that they are incapable of carrying out a civilized discussion on political issues? sad.

banning all political topics just because current state of affairs upsets someone is ridiculous. country is split in the middle, so what, when liberals win we will ban political topics again just because now the other side feels offended? how about you stop feeling offended and start listening to each other?

anonbanker 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I need to preface this by saying I voted for Jill Stein.

You're right that HN should be a place for intellectual curiosity and substantive comments. But here's what I've seen in the past year:

* Flagrantly allow anti-prop-8 posts and submissions to assist in the smearing of Brendan Eich.

* Flagrantly allow pro-clinton posts and link submissions to thrive on HN.

* Never step-in to stop downvoting brigades on pro-conservative/libertarian/tea party posts.

* After unpopular (with silicon valley) president is elected, ban political conversations on the site.

I won't call you biased, because you've been a damn good mod, but this is probably your worst decision, because it looks like sour-grapes-in-retrospect.

Perhaps you're doing it because the pro-clinton camp is actually becoming too toxic to tolerate. Perhaps you're doing it to avoid the 4chan brigade from promoting Trump. Either way, this is a site full of people skilled at reading between the lines, and, correct or not, this action doesn't look like a way of promoting reasonable discussion.

eevilspock 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So HN is yet another filter bubble?

> We become tribal creatures, not intellectually curious ones.

HN is designed to be a tribe. The HN tribe and the Silicon Valley ethos it espouses are by their nature very political, having profound effects on the direction of our economy, our society, and our world. By censoring challenges to this ethos, you are reinforcing the tribal boundaries, and members of the tribe continue on without the constant challenge and testing that is the very nature of truth finding and even science.

This Tell HN is itself a political act.

honkhonkpants 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I for one think the imminent demise of human civilization is of interest to the intellectually curious and thoughtful readers of HN. I also believe that hurting the feelings of willful climate change deniers and suchlike people is a really good idea.
camperman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Top kek.
kingkawn 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Lol the primitive brain, the entire premise of this worldview is wack peace
jksmith 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Far more interesting is to post your favorite SNL political clips. We need a levity injection attack around here.
johnchristopher 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Well. Let me just flag this post since its a political one.
Crypto 101 Introductory course on cryptography crypto101.io
901 points by zerognowl  3 days ago   140 comments top 27
eponeponepon 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is about to eat my weekend, I think! :)

Quite seriously, this is exactly what the tech world needs - personally, I know that in terms of understanding of crypto I'm streets ahead of the average Joe, but orders of magnitude behind people who actually know the field. I'm certain I'm far from alone in that set, but the way the world's going means that we with the generalised technical know-how have a moral impetus to bring the rest of the world up to speed with the whys and wherefores.

PeterisP 3 days ago 1 reply      
The old Cryptopals challenges (http://cryptopals.com/) seem to cover the same material in a pedagogically very different way - they don't feed you the information as this book does, but give you a practical task which can be easily done with e.g. reading the specification of an algorithm from wikipedia, but figuring out the implementation of the attack yourself gives a much better understanding than simply reading about it.

Although this book claims a "Learn by doing" approach, I didn't find any specific assignments or data samples to facilitate that.

stcredzero 3 days ago 8 replies      
When I was taking Aikido, there was a day when the sensei was going through all of our techniques and showed how the uke (initiator of the attack, receiver of the technique) could turn things around on the tori. (receiver of the attack, initiator of the technique) It seemed like there were a half dozen ways each that a technique could go seriously wrong, and that many of them didn't require much skill, only determination and the opportunity provided by a mistake. That day made me question the validity of the entire notion of self defense.

I wonder if there shouldn't be a software engineering class where people try to set up a secure web app, with their own homegrown algorithms and protocols, which is then attacked by a tiger team which includes a conspirator on the inside? Perhaps there are such classes now.

TrinaryWorksToo 3 days ago 5 replies      
With everything in Crypto I have to wonder: Is the information correct? I really have no way of verifying if I'm learning the correct DHE, and I know that it's easy to get wrong. Perhaps I can do some testing in code, but I may test it incorrectly too, and those small errors can be exploited.
kanzure 3 days ago 1 reply      
Also here is is a Dan Boneh cryptography playlist https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9oqNDMzcMClAPkwrn5dm...
steamer25 3 days ago 0 replies      
Applied Cryptography is also one of the free advanced courses on Udacity:


theschwa 3 days ago 0 replies      
There seems to be a lot of comments asking about the quality of this piece. I read through this the last time it was posted to HN, and I just have to say that this is the perfect balance of having enough detail to understand how things work, but not so much that it's overwhelming. That's a really difficult balance when it comes to crypto, so major props to the author. Fantastic work.
lhnz 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever I have taken the small amount of cryptography knowledge I already have and tried to use it in a project, I've often been shutdown with "the system already does that" when it doesn't, or "this will be too complicated for the user, instead lets just roll our own [ad-hoc cryptography method]".

For those reading:

How do you convince people that it's worth using best practices?

Is there a good heuristic to measure the value of something, when deciding how much time and money to spend on securing it?

What are good library/SaaS solutions to help build secure applications with less chance of shooting yourself in the foot, better UX and lower cost? (Keybase, etc.)

sambe 2 days ago 0 replies      
The video claims that the Python standard library doesn't check certificates by default. In fact, it has done for at least a couple of years ([0] quotes the documentation as saying that it changed two years ago - in 2.7.9 and 3.4.3).

Although the video is marked 2015, the overlay at the start shows it's from PyCon 2013.

[0]: http://stackoverflow.com/a/28325763/2492

Raed667 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really disappointed that (9.4) Elliptic curve cryptography is still under TODO.

If anyone is interested in ECC, ars has a pretty good introduction [0].

[0] : http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/10/a-relatively-easy-to...

gespadas 3 days ago 1 reply      
Suggestion: Add some notification medium for when the book is ready.
LaurensBER 3 days ago 1 reply      
I checked the PDF and this looks very interesting and comprehensive, any change you could give an eta for the final release and more specific the epub release?


CameronBanga 3 days ago 2 replies      
Quick question, I had apparently Pinboarded this in March 2014. I see the PDF is still pre-release. Has anything changed with this, or is it kinda just coming up again because of recent political climate.

I'm fine either way, just curious if this has changed drastically from what I had looked at previously.

bogomipz 2 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone interested I found this to be a good book on working through some cryto implementations in Go:


Its free to read online but its also very reasonably priced. Its written by an engineer over at Cloudflare.

zappo2938 3 days ago 0 replies      
For idiots like myself, I found this video, Public key cryptography - Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange (full version), to be completely enlightening using mixed colors to explain the most basic features of a cryptography algorithm.[0]

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEBfamv-_do

bogomipz 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great! Kudos to the author and thanks Rackspace for sponsoring this as well.

It's really encouraging to see this increased democratization of crypto not necessarily in the engineering of it per se but rather the awareness and understanding of it.

chetanahuja 3 days ago 0 replies      
I put this pdf on my phone and read through interesting sections over a vacation involving long flights. It's a very nicely written text that you can read over a few days with some basic computer-science/mathematical background.
southphillyman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this my guy! Maybe I'm telling on myself here, but I get the impression that your average developer doesn't know much about security outside of the basic (sql injection/cross site scripting)
qwertyuiop924 3 days ago 4 replies      
Can any crypto people here on HN verify that this gets it right?
cponeill 3 days ago 1 reply      
I downloaded this about a year ago and loved it. Incredibly informative. Is this an updated version?
mrcactu5 3 days ago 0 replies      
cryptography textbooks get very difficult. I get lost in a sea of hashes and the prime number theorem
truth_sentinell 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why is the url a hash? Also I'm getting privacy error on chrome mobile.

Thanks for this, seems pretty useful.

paulddraper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks interesting, but I can't open it with Adobe Reader on my Android.
Dowwie 3 days ago 0 replies      
good work, lvh
markild 3 days ago 3 replies      
zimmerfrei 3 days ago 4 replies      
Maybe I am being too harsh, but it is clear the author does not have a formal education in the subject [0] nor any track in breaking non-toy crypto implementations [1]. This alone makes me a bit wary of any recommendation one may read in the material.

There seems to be more attention to listing all the beasts in the cryptographic zoo than to the few fundamental tools required to really understand the mechanics (e.g. birthday paradox, PRFs, some prime number theory).

Sure, I can't spot anything fundamentally wrong and it all reads pretty smoothly, but calling this a "course" is highly misleading. If the intention is to guide people in selecting good crypto primitives, then maybe "guide" is a more honest word?

For those interested, I would strongly recommend to bite the bullet and dedicate time to Boneh's course on Coursera.

[0] I don't have any either[1] Ditto

seycombi 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is currently on edx. Its more advanced that the courses mentioned here. I do not know what edx will do after the course ends, but if you want it you can get it while it ss still available.


Quantum Cryptographyby Thomas Vidick (Caltech) and Stephanie Wehner (Delft University)

This AI Boom Will Also Bust overcomingbias.com
646 points by KKKKkkkk1  2 days ago   301 comments top 55
ma2rten 2 days ago 5 replies      
I think this field is suffering from some confusion of terminology. In my mind there are three subfields that are crystallizing that each have different goals and thus different methods.

The first one is Data Science. More and more businesses store their data electronically. Data Scientists aim to analyze this data to derive insights from it. Machine Learning is one of the tools in their tool belt, however often they prefer models that are understandable and not a black box. Sometimes they prefer statistics because it tells you if your insights are significant.

The second one is Machine Learning Engineering. ML Engineers are Software Engineers that use Machine Learning to build products. They might work on spam detection, recommendation engines or news feeds. They care about building products that scale and are reliable. They will run A/B tests to see how metrics are impacted. They might use Deep Learning, but they will weight the pros and cons against other methods.

Then there are AI Researchers. Their goal is to push the boundaries of what computers can do. They might work on letting computers recognize images, understand speech and translate languages. Their method of choice is often Deep Learning because it has unlocked a lot of new applications.

I feel like this post is essentially someone from the first group criticizing the last group, saying their methods are not applicable to him. That is expected.

Phait 2 days ago 5 replies      
I understand that most people working with deep learning wouldn't want this type of thinking to spread amongst the public, and I surely don't want it either.But you have to be totally unaware of reality to think that DL is the definitive tool for AI. Most impressive results in DL in the past 2 years happended like this:

>deepmind steals people from the top ML research teams in univerisites around the world

>these people are given an incredible amount of money to solve an incredibly complex task

>a 6000 layers deep network is run for 6 months on a GPU cluster the size of Texas

>Google drops in their marketing team

>media says Google solved the AI problem

>repeat every 6 months to keep the company hot and keep the people flow constant

>get accepted at every conference on earth because you're deepmind (seriously, have you seen the crap that they get to present at NIPS and ICML? The ddqn paper is literally a single line modification to another paper's algorithm, while we plebeians have to struggle like hell to get the originality points)

I'll be impressed when they solve Pacman on a Raspberry Pi, otherwise they are simply grownups playing with very expensive toys.

Deep learning is cool, I truly believe that, and I love working with neural networks, but anyone with a base knowledge of ML knows better than to praise it as the saviour of AI research.

Rant over, I'm gonna go check how my autoencoder is learning now ;)

pesenti 2 days ago 2 replies      
When I was at Watson this is the first thing I told every customer: before you start with AI are you already doing the more mundane data science on your structured data? If not, you shouldn't go right away for the shiny object.

This said I still believe the article is mistaken in its evaluation of potential impact (and its fuzzy metaphore of pipes). Unstructured or semi-structured or dirty data is much more prevalent than cleaned structured data on which you can do simple regression to get insight.

Ultimately the class of problems solved by more advanced AI will be incommensurably bigger than the class of problems solved by simple machine learning. I could make a big laundry list but just start thinking of anything that involves images, sound, or text (ie most form of human communication).

brudgers 2 days ago 1 reply      
Most firms that think they want advanced AI/ML really just need linear regression

That's how AI always looks in the rearview mirror. Like a trivial part of today's furniture. Pointing a phone at a random person on the street and getting their identity is already in the realm of "just machine learning" and my phone recognizing faces is simply "that's how phones work, duh" ordinary. When I first started reading Hacker News a handful of years ago, one of the hot topics was computer vision at the level of industrial applications like assembly lines. Today, my face unlocks the phone in my pocket...and, statistically, yours does not. AI is just what we call the cutting edge.

Open the first edition of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach and there's a fair bit of effort to apply linear regression selectively in order to be computationally feasible. That just linear regression is just linear regression these days because my laptop only has 1.6 teraflops of GPU and that's measley compared to what $20k would buy.

The way in which AI booms go bust is that after a few years everybody accepts that computers can beat humans at checkers. The next boom ends and everybody accepts that computers can beat humans at chess. After this one, it will be Go and when that happens computers will still be better at checkers and chess too.

vonnik 2 days ago 4 replies      
[Disclosure: I work for a deep-learning company.]

Robin's post reveals a couple fundamental misunderstandings. While he may be correct that, for now, many small firms should apply linear regression rather than deep learning to their limited datasets, he is wrong in his prediction of an AI bust. If it happens, it will not be for the reasons he cites.

He is skeptical that deep learning and other forms of advanced AI 1) will be applicable to smaller and smaller datasets, and that 2) they will become easier to use.

And yet some great research is being done that will prove him wrong on his first point.


One-shot learning, or learning from a few examples, is a field where we're making rapid progress, which means that in the near future, we'll obtain much higher accuracy on smaller datasets. So the immense performance gains we've seen by applying deep learning to big data will someday extend to smaller data as well.

Secondly, Robin is skeptical that deep learning will be a tool most firms can adopt, given the lack of specialists. For now, that talent is scarce and salaries are high. But this is a problem that job markets know how to fix. The data science academies popping up in San Francisco exist for a reason: to satisfy that demand.

And to go one step further, the history of technology suggests that we find ways to wrap powerful technology in usable packages for less technical people. AI is going to be just one component that fits into a larger data stack, infusing products invisibly until we don't even think about it.

And fwiw, his phrase "deep machine learning" isn't a thing. Nobody says that, because it's redundant. All deep learning is a subset of machine learning.

jeyoor 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article matches what I've been seeing anecdotally (especially at smaller tech firms and universities in the Midwest US).

I've been hearing more folks in research and industry express the importance of applying simpler techniques (like linear regression and decision trees) before reaching for the latest state-of-the-art approach.

See also this response to the author's tweet on the subject: https://twitter.com/anderssandberg/status/803311515717738496

WhitneyLand 2 days ago 2 replies      
This article is tries to be right about something big, by arguing about things that are small and that do not necessarily prove the thesis.

Notice now you can cogently disagree with the main idea while agreeing with most of the sub points (paraphrasing below):

1) Most impactful point: The economic impact innovations in AI/machine learning will have over the next ~2 decades are being overestimated.


2) Subpoint : Overhyped (fashion-induced) tech causes companies to waste time and money.

AGREE (well, yes, but does anyone not know this?)

3) Subpoint: Most firms that want AI/ML really just need linear regression on cleaned-up data.

PROBABLY (but this doesn't prove or even support (1))

4) Subpoint: Obstacles limit applications (though incompetence)

AGREE (but it's irrelevant to (1), and also a pretty old conjecture.)

5) Subpoint: It's not true that 47 percent of total US employment is at risk .. to computerisation .. perhaps over the next decade or two.

PROBABLY (that this number/timeframe is optimistic means very little. one decade after the Internet many people said it hadn't upended industry as predicted. whether it took 10, 20, or 30 years, the important fact is that the revolution happened.)

It would be interesting to know if those who are agree in the comments agree with the sensational headline or point 1, or the more obvious and less consequential points 2-5.

randcraw 2 days ago 0 replies      
After a good look behind the curtain of Deep Learning, I've come to agree with Robin. No, Deep Learning will not fail. But it will fail to live up to its promise to revolutionize AI, and it won't replace statistics or GOFAI in many tasks that require intelligence.

Yes, DL has proven itself to perform (most?) gradient-based tasks better than any other algorithm. It maximizes the value in large data, minimizing error brilliantly. But ask it to address a single feature not present in the zillion images in ImageNet, and it's lost. (E.g. Where is the person in the image looking? To the left? The right? No DN using labels from ImageNet could say.) This is classic AI brittleness.

With all the hoolpa surrounding DL's successes at single task challenges (mostly on images), we've failed to notice that nothing has really changed in AI. The info available from raw data remains as thin as ever. I think soon we'll all see that even ginormous quantities of thinly labeled supervised data can take your AI agent only so far -- a truly useful AI agent will need info that isn't present in all the labeled images on the planet. In the end the agent still needs a rich internal model of the world that it can further enrich with curated data (teaching) to master each new task or transfer the skill to a related domain. And to do that, it needs the ability to infer cause and effect, and explore possible worlds. Without that, any big-data-trained AI will always remain a one trick pony.

Alas, Deep Learning (alone) can't fill that void. The relevant information and inferential capability needed to apply it to solve new problems and variations on them -- these skills just aren't present in the nets or the big data available to train them to high levels of broad competence. To create a mind capable of performing multiple diverse tasks, like the kinds a robot needs in order to repair a broken toaster, I think we'll all soon realize that DL has not replaced GOFAI at all. A truly useful intelligent agent still must learn hierarchies of concepts and use logic, if it's to do more than play board games.

chime 2 days ago 9 replies      
> Good CS expert says: Most firms that think they want advanced AI/ML really just need linear regression on cleaned-up data.

Cleaning up data is very expensive. And without that, the analysis is good for nothing. AI helps provide good analysis without having to cleaning up data manually. I don't see how that is going away.

felippee 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is a never ending confusion caused by the term "AI" to begin with. Term coined by John McCarthy to raise money in the 60's is really good at driving imagination, yet at the same time causes hype and over-expecations.

This field is notorious for its hype-bust cycles and I don't see any reason why this time would be different. There are obviously applications and advancements no doubt about it, but the question is do those justify the level of excitement, and the answer is probably "no".

When people hear AI they inevitably think "sentient robots". This will likely not happen within the next 2-3 hype cycles and certainly not in this one.

Check out this blog for a hype-free, reasonable evaluation of the current AI:


rampage101 2 days ago 2 replies      
The more I get into machine learning and deep learning it seems like there is an incredible amount of configuration to get some decent results. Cleaning and storing the data takes a long time. And then you need to figure out exactly what you want to predict. If you predict some feature with any sort of error in your process the entire results will be flawed.

There are a few very nice applications of the AI techniques, however most data sets don't fit well with machine learning. What you see is that in tutorials use the Iris data set so much because it breaks into categories very easily. In the real world, most things are in a maybe state rather than yes/no.

shmageggy 2 days ago 6 replies      
Here's why the pipes metaphor is a bad one: we already are doing everything we can and ever will do with pipes. Pipes have been around for a really long time, we know what they are capable of, we've explored all of their uses.

OTOH, the current progress in AI has enabled us to do things we couldn't do before and is pointing towards totally new applications. It's not about making existing functionality cheaper, or incrementally improving results in existing areas, it's about doing things that have been heretofore impossible.

I agree that deep nets are overkill for lots of data analysis problems, but the AI boom is not about existing data analysis problems.

tim333 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems a little odd that the author is focusing on machine learning not being terribly good for prediction from data to counter the "this time is different" argument. The reason this time is different is we are in a period when AI is surpassing human intelligence field by field and that only happens once in the history of the planet. AI is better at chess and go for example, is slowly getting there in driving and will probably surpass general thinking at some point in the future though there's a big question mark as to when.
jondubois 2 days ago 1 reply      
Journalists and investors only seem to get excited about buzzwords - Maybe that's because they don't actually understand technology.

To say that technology is like an iceberg is a major understatement.

The buzzwords which tech journalists, tech investors and even tech recruiters use to make decisions are shallow and meaningless.

I spoke to a tech recruiter before and he told me that the way recruiters qualify resumes is just by looking for keywords, buzzwords and company names; they don't actually understand what most of the terms mean. This approach is probably good enough for a lot of cases, but it means that you're probably going to miss out on really awesome candidates (who don't use these buzzwords to describe themselves).

The same rule applies to investors. By only evaluating things based on buzzwords; you might miss out on great contenders.

AndrewKemendo 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry but I'm not buying it.

ML companies are already tackling tasks which have major cost implications:



Those are just the two I had off the top of my head. We apply ML tasks for object/scene classification and they blow away humans. Not only that we're already structuring a GAN for "procedural" 3D model generation - in theory this will decimate the manual 3D reconstruction process.

RushAndAPush 2 days ago 4 replies      
I've read every comment in this thread and its filled mostly with peoples self congratulatory intellectual views. Nobody, not even Robin Hansen himself has given a good, detailed argument as to why the current progress in Machine learning will stop.
yegle 2 days ago 1 reply      
I started question the credibility of the article when the author mentioned "deep machine learning". Not an expert in ML, but it should be "deep learning" referring to a type of neural network based machine learning technique with deep hidden layers.
h43k3r 2 days ago 5 replies      
A little off topic but I think the VR boom will bust much more sooner than AI.

I can't think of normal people wearing those heavy gears in their normal life. There will be its use cases in specialized applications like education, industry, games but I don't think it will get popular like an iPhone.

AR is still OK since it augments real life but there is a long way before it will become mainstream.

zamalek 2 days ago 2 replies      
One of two eventualities exist:

* The article is correct and the current singularity (as described by Kurzweil) will hit a plateau. No further progress will be made and we'll have machines that are forever dumber than humans.

* The singularity will continue up until SAI. So help them human race if we shackle it with human ideologies and ignorance.

There is no way to tell. AlphaGo immensely surprised me - from my perspective the singularity is happening, but there is no telling just how far it can go. AlphaGo changed my perspective of Kurzweil from a lunatic to someone who might actually have a point.

Where the line is drawn is "goal-less AI," possibly the most important step toward SAI. Currently, all AI is governed by a goal (be it a goal or a fitness function). The recent development regarding Starcraft and ML is ripe for the picking, either the AI wins or not - a fantastic fitness function. The question is, how would we apply it to something like Skyrim: where mere continuation of existence and prosperity are equally as viable goals (as-per the human race). "Getting food" may become a local minimum that obscures any further progress - resulting in monkey agents in the game (assuming the AI optimizes for the food minimum). In a word, what we are really questioning is: sapience.

I'm a big critic of Bitcoin, yet so far I am still wrong. The same principle might apply here. It's simply too early to tell.

lowglow 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're building an applied AI business by creating an experience through both hardware and software. You don't set out to create something with as big a breadth of vision by worrying about booms and busts. You continue your journey unwavering because the potential impact and fruitfulness of development is worth it.

This is why you should work on something you're passionate about. Your time on earth is limited, so strive to leave good work and contribute to the progress of humanity on a larger scale.

euske 1 day ago 2 replies      
I have a hard time understanding why even technical people use the term "AI" today. Its use should be limited to sensational media and cheesy sci-fi. It's roughly equivalent to saying "computery thingamabob". I would call a pocket calculator an AI too. Why not? It carries out certain mental tasks better than our brains do.
kpwagner 2 days ago 1 reply      
AI is overhyped... sure that's probably true.

But data science is here to stay in the same way that computer science is here to stay.

Houshalter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Robotics and automation have been improving for a long time, and especially recently. Look at the rise in consumer drones, enabled by improvements in batteries, sensors, and computers.

But the main thing holding them back is a lack of AI. Robots can do a rote action over and over again, but they have a hard time identifying where objects are, planning, and reacting to their environment. Just solving machine vision would be a massive step forward and enable a ton of applications.

And that has sort of already happened. The best nets are already exceeding humans at vision tasks. They are learning to play video games at expert level, which is not conceptually distant from robot control. Its taking time to move this research out of the lab and into real applications, but it is happening.

And so I totally believe that at least 50% of current jobs could be automated in 10 to 15 years. How many people are employed doing relatively simple, repetitive tasks, over and over again? Me and most people I know have jobs like that.

iwritestuff 2 days ago 6 replies      
I plan to enter a PhD program in 1-2 years to specialize in ML/Deep Learning. Assuming it'll take 5-6 years to complete my degree how applicable should my skill sets be in industry at that point?
unignorant 2 days ago 1 reply      
Along similar lines, we did some work investigating public perception of AI over the past thirty years: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1609.04904.pdf

From Figure 1, it's clear we are now in a boom.

skywhopper 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think what we're seeing is an explosion of new approaches to computerized problem solving made possible by huge amounts of data and enormous computing resources. A lot of what has become possible in the last couple of decades is indeed new, but the apparent rapid advance is really just a matter of applying the brute force of a massively upgraded ability to process huge quantities of data in parallel, and this has led us to make erroneous assumptions about future progress in these areas.

Basically, these are new solutions to new problems, and we're rapidly seeing the easy 80% of this new generation of "AI" happen and it seems magical. But soon enough we'll hit the wall where further progress becomes harder and harder and brute force approaches are no longer sufficient to achieve interesting results.

siliconc0w 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty much every large firm has multiple problems ML can solve better than linear/logistic regression. Smaller firms may still have one or two. In some industries the core competency will be how good your ML model is as everything else becomes a commodity. There are new advents that make ML better for small data-sets as well as opportunities for data-brokerage to increase access to data. And these are just current applications, new applications are still nascent (i.e self driving cars). Treating ML as a software problem instead of a science project - with a pipeline of adding/creating data, cleaning, modeling, analyzing, learning, and iterating is also incredibly important but it's not like most companies are doing this particularly well either.
rsimons 1 day ago 1 reply      
I recently made an appointment through an AI secretary to set up a meeting with them; it worked surprisingly well.. They are not hiring a secretary any time soon. Real effect. Also: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/01/stephe...
willsher 1 day ago 0 replies      
It seems the nature of this and VR that they come to boom for a while and then bust, having stagnated. They then wait for the next alignment of underpinning technology, knowledge and culture to emerge again. Last last one I'm aware of was mid-late 1990s, where VRML was gaining traction and new ways of thinking about AI were emerging.

IBM Watson or similar (if I recall IBM was still calling their business AI system Watson back then) seems to be promenant in these two booms and both times the results it gives haven't matches it's marketing hype.

The technology, having been significantly furthered fades into the day to day of computing somewhat until the next boom that drives more short burst innovation and awareness.

Conscious AI and realistic VR is some way off, if we ever see it. Culturally and ethically we are not ready to answer the questions it poses and the cyclical nature gives us more time to digest the latest raft of questions in light of the progress.

mwfunk 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm very curious to what degree there even is an AI boom right now, vs. AI and machine learning going through a phase as the buzzwords du jour used in corporate PR. People have doing all sorts of fascinating things with machine learning for decades, and (for example) Google has been arguably an AI-focused company from day one.

In the tech press recently, I keep hearing how every huge tech company needs to have some sort of AI strategy going forward, so they don't miss out on an industrywide windfall, or even become irrelevant because they didn't hop on the AI bandwagon.

I suspect that there are a few more people working in AI nowadays than we're doing so 10 years ago, but that quite a bit of the narrative surrounding AI in the press is some combination of corporate marketing and journalists eager to have something to write about.

I'm not saying AI isn't important, rather that it's an important field that's only a little more important than it already was 10 years ago. The difference seems to be how often it pops up in PR and tech journalism vs. 10 years ago. Just a theory of course; I would love to know what the reality is.

eva1984 2 days ago 0 replies      
>> Good CS expert says: Most firms that think they want advanced AI/ML really just need linear regression on cleaned-up data

Not nearly true. The simple counter-argument is that prior to DL, we don't have good approach to really 'clean' data like images.

The author states this fact as if cleaning data is a piece of cake. No, it is surely not. In fact, part of the DL's magic trick is the ability to automatically learn to generalize useful features from data. From another perspective, the whole DL frontend, prior the very last layer, can be viewed as a data cleaning pipeline, which is learnt during the training process, optimized to pick the useful signals.

The author clearly isn't an expert on the matters he trying to put claims on. Yet his statement comes with such big confidence or ignorance. This shows why this revolution will be a truly impactful one, for even some of the claimed intellectuals cannot understand its importance and divergence of its predecessors. They will be caught off-guard then left behind. It would be very enjoyable to watch what their reaction would be once it happens.

muyuu 2 days ago 0 replies      
The immense availability of financial instruments and VC makes investment in any mildly promising technology overshoot. There's nothing really mysterious about this, especially after the dot com bubble. Is the web useless? no, but there's a limit to the number of players doing the same things the same way successfully - because that's what hype does, make people focus in not just a technology but a particular way.

3d-printing, mobile apps, tablet devices, VR, cryptocurrency, 3D TV, Neural Networks (in the 70s, then again in the mid 80s, then in the late 90s, and now), you name it.

These are perfectly applicable technologies that may or may not warrant the swings in investment they attract, but they are valid and defensible nonetheless. They may also be monetisable - not always useful stuff brings proportional profit in the market. And of course, there's also timing. The exact same idea may work years later in a different environment. But the only way to find out is to try, and maybe try too much at some point.

januscap 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the article and the discussions are focusing on the wrong semantic definition of AI.

Unsupervised learning is where the revolution is. Learning has nothing to do with boom or bust.

mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the boom in AI jobs will go bust, when tools for data cleaning and injection, and for automatically building models will get so good that experts will no longer be required to use them. I have so frequently set up customers with procedures and code for ML, that I have seriously thought of writing a system to replace people like myself.

Until there is real AGI however, there will be jobs for high end AI researchers and developers.

Entangled 2 days ago 1 reply      
It won't. It will get better.

In a couple of years you will be able to take a picture of a rash in your arm and get exact diagnosis with treatment instructions. You will be able to take a pic of a flower, a leaf or any tree and get accurate info about its species, plagues and best techniques for growing them. You will be able to take a pic of any insect, spider, snake, animal, or anything that moves, any mineral, element or anything at all and get accurate info about that.

AI is not only about robots thinking, it is about collecting information and making it available on demand. Agriculture and health will be the first beneficiaries, finances in a close second.

Data mining is where the first stage of AI is, and Google is moving ahead of everybody else with their search engine, maps, translation, and all the information collecting tools. Once you have enough data, knowledge is just a couple of programs away.

ig1 2 days ago 0 replies      
While the article is right that in many situations a linear regression or tree based approach will be more effective, it downplays the real value add of deep learning which has been clearly demonstrated with image data and is likely to have significant impact in other areas (audio, biodata, etc.) where traditional statistical methods have failed.
srinikoganti 1 day ago 0 replies      
What is "new this time" is that computers/machines can see and hear and even speak, whether we call it AI or "Deep Learning" or "Machine learning". So there is going to be more impact from Vision/Voice based applications rather than data analytics/predictions. Eg. Self Driving Cars, Medical Diagnosis, Video Analytics, Autonomous machines/Robotics, Voiced based interactions. All of these combined could be as disruptive as Internet itself.
kodisha 2 days ago 0 replies      
So, imagine that in 2011, 5 years ago, you approach some VC and say:

"Hey, we are building this VR hardware and games for it, we would need ~1M to finish it".

I think that there is high chance that you would get some weird looks, and possibly few remarks how that is a "dead technology, tried once, and obviously failed".

And then, fast forward couple of years there is whole industry around VR, jobs, hardware, software, the whole eco system.

You only need one strong player in a field, and suddenly everyone and your neighbour kid is doing it.

itissid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thomson Reuter's ET&O and Risk division laid off 2000 people recently to fund a new center near university of Waterloo to provide "answers"(Its their mission statement) by recruiting people to provide deep learning solutions. NY suffered deep cuts. The sad part is it seems the leadership just want to use deep learning as a way to justify doing what they are doing, which is "starting from scratch"
DelTaco 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would argue that it would often be easier to implement a ML solution on regular data than try and clean the data and then use linear regression
spsgtn 2 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of the stem cell research boom and bust of the late 90s and 00s. It turns out that the new and shiny toy doesn't work for everything. However, it's not really a bust, as AI, similar to stem cells applications, will continue to do wonders where it is the best tool for the job.
Animats 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hard to say. I'm seeing too many billboards near SF for "big data" and "machine learning". AI-type grinding on your stored business data is sometimes useful, but not always profitable. Everybody big already has good ad targeting technology, after all.
intrasight 2 days ago 1 reply      
First, there is no "AI boom" because there is no AI - there is machine learning.

Second, booms that produce real, tangible results don't normally go bust.

Finally, we've only just scratched the surface of what machine learning is capable of delivering, so no bust is to be expected.

erikj 2 days ago 0 replies      
We already had the AI winter before. The worst thing about it is the death of Symbolics. The latest AI resurgence, unfortunately, created nothing comparable to the legendary Lisp machines.
pmrd 2 days ago 1 reply      
Also - must remember that AI is a programmer on the sidelines letting data do the logic. It required a fairly different frame of mind than traditional programming
sjg007 1 day ago 0 replies      
No. Image and audio recognition in many specific cases are now solved problems. This is substantial progress.
antirez 2 days ago 0 replies      
Recent AI progresses are a clear technological advancement. To meter them in terms of bay area biZZness meters is lame.
tootie 2 days ago 0 replies      
My company has hitched itself to the AI hype train, but they're talking about NLP and conversational UIs not data analysis.
danielrm26 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think a key differentiation between ML and more common statistics is that ML is designed to improve itself based on data. Statistical methods don't do that.

So maybe they're trying to do very similar things in a lot of cases, but self improvement is a major differentiator.

blazespin 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ml comes in big in cleaning up the data and making recommendations on what to look at.
RandyRanderson 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm old enough to have seen a lot of these boom/hype/bust cycles. I'm convinced that this time is, in fact, different.

To temper this I believe most decent user-visible changes will take ~5 years (as most actually useful software does) but the changes will be huge:

* The author cites computer driven cars. I think this will take place mostly on long-haul highway trucking instead of in cities first. Even so, this could mean a massive swath of truckers without work in a short 5yr epoch.

* We've already seem the effects of heavy astro-turfing/disingenuous information/etc in the last US election. This certainly changed the "national psyche" and may have changed the election outcome. There is heavy ML research going into making the agglomeration of ads and content almost compulsively watchable. Our monkey brains can likely only handle a few simple dimensions and only boolean or maybe linear relations and they certainly get trapped in local maxima/minima. Even trivial ML techniques can bring this compulsion from say 50% effectiveness to 95%+ (by some reasonable measure). Imagine a web that is so completely tailored to the user such that search results, ads and content is completely tailored to you. Verbs, adjectives entire copy all written to get you to that next click. This is different.

* Bots that seem like real ppl will be rampant. Are those 100 followers/likes/retweets actual ppl? Even years ago reddit (to gain popularity) faked users. Certainly this has only accelerated and will continue to as commercial and state actors see value to moving public opinion with these virtual actors. (ironically maybe only bots will have read this far?)

* Financial Product innovation - Few ppl actually understand this market (even within the banks) however the deals are usually in the 100+ million range. The products take advantage of tax incentives, fx, swaps, interest rates, etc in an ever increasing complexity. These divisions are still some of the most profitable parts of banks. It's likely that on deals where profits are measured in tens of millions on a single deal (several are made per quarter, per major bank). It's likely that ML algos will be put to use here as well not only optimizing current products but in current prod elaborations. I beleive these products to be a major source of inflation. Whereas the official numbers are ~2% I believe the actual inflation (tm) felt by most is more in the 7%+ range.

* State Surveillance and Actions - I hear ppl saying that mass surveillance hasn't been effective in stopping "terrorism", as if it would be ok if it did. Well, it will be effective and it will get very, very good at it. Of course terrorism is not defined anywhere so ...

* Customer Support - this, like transportation, is a major employer of unqualified workers. I believe in 10 years there will be maybe 1% of the current workforce in CSR work. The technology is here the software just has to be written.

It's not just the number of jobs displaced it's the velocity. If we look to the effective Predator-prey modeling:


We see that the generally the solution takes 2 modes:

* stability - wolf/rabbit populations wax and wane together* crash - the wolves kill enough rabbits to make the remaining pop crash

Now I don't believe there will be a 'crash' but likely there will be a new normal (equilibrium) and getting there will not be pleasant.

Disclaimer: Yes, I do work in ML.

master_yoda_1 2 days ago 1 reply      
marcoperaza 2 days ago 2 replies      
Until the taboo on talking about consciousness is broken and we seek to understand what role this incredible phenomenon plays in human cognition, there will be no progress towards the holy grail: true general purpose AI. That is my falsifiable prediction.
mmkx 2 days ago 0 replies      
The technological singularity arrived November 15th. Plenty of AI/robots to come.
Chrome 55 uses 30% less memory than 54 prerender.cloud
375 points by jotto  2 days ago   214 comments top 26
ikeboy 2 days ago 6 replies      
Wow. My normal session now leaves me with around 8gb free out of 16, compared to 1-2gb free previously. Gmail is using less than 1GB again. I might even disable The Great Suspender, and stop killing tabs that use up lots of memory.

Whoever worked on this, you deserve a raise. QOL improvements for so many people.

barnacs 2 days ago 3 replies      
Great news! A simple weather website, with about 1 MB worth of actual content (text, markup, images, layout) now only uses 250 MB of memory. And it only takes a few seconds to load on a 100Mbps+ connection whenever I click a menu item (that's with all ads and tracking blocked and most of the stuff already cached).

I'm sorry, I just don't see any reason to celebrate.

dirkg 1 day ago 2 replies      
Chrome can't even begin to compare to Firefox when it comes to handling anything >10 tabs, which is I think what 99% of people max out at, so Chrome doesn't bother about the rest even though people have been begging for years.

- no multiple tab rows

- when you launch, it reloads every single tab vs loading only the active one (the only sane option), causing massive slowdown and network traffic

- as a result in Firefox you can have 100's of tabs, open the browser, work in a few and close, without affecting anything.

- Firefox had Tab groups, an awesome visual representation, before they made it optional due to everyone copying Chrome's limited feature set.

- Chrome still uses much more memory

- Firefox extensions are by design much more powerful. e.g. Session Manager. And things like Tree style tabs etc.

niij 2 days ago 6 replies      
They mentioned that weather.com crashed their website. Their website is always extremely slow for me as well. It's ridiculous how poorly designed their website can be for such a simple service.
ausjke 2 days ago 7 replies      
awesome news then, chrome really needs to improve memory usage, especially when I have lots of tabs open.

under firefox I normally had 120 tabs open all the time, and it's fine. with chrome, I dare not to exceed 60 tabs. chrome triggers heavy swap all the time still, which renders the system very sluggish.

Tempest1981 2 days ago 5 replies      
Any way to set the minimum tab width yet? Once I get 7+ tabs in a window, they're truncated to a useless width.
dirkg 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is only for low memory devices. From the linked article -

"All the improvements discussed above reduce the Chrome 55 overall memory consumption by up to 35% on low-memory devices compared to Chrome 53. Other device segments will only benefit from the zone memory improvements."

smegel 2 days ago 1 reply      
Also, if you are not yet using 64-bit Chrome, you really should. It is more stable and avoids internal "out of memory" errors individual tabs can sometimes return. Not the default Chrome for some reason!
hemancuso 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone have any perspective as to whether these gains will flow toElectron?
spacehacker 2 days ago 1 reply      
How does this compare to Firefox?
kfrzcode 2 days ago 1 reply      
For the layman web developer with little knowledge of browser internals, how does this compare to Firefox's memory usage?
tbrock 2 days ago 0 replies      
AWS Console went from 284 to < 150 but that was the only tab that broke 100mb. Not sure what all of you with 100s of 250mb+ tabs are doing.

Excited for electron + node to get this improvement.

amelius 2 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds too good to be true. Are there any downsides to this improvement?
edblarney 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm still getting full white and black screens on Chrome 54.

It's 2016.

rjain15 1 day ago 1 reply      
More exciting news coming in Chrome 56 with complete optimization.. V8 can optimize the entirety of the JavaScript language. Can't wait for Christmas presents
olegkikin 2 days ago 3 replies      
It also looks like the UI shrunk 30%, and there's no way to change it, except by changing the DPI of the whole OS.
leeoniya 2 days ago 0 replies      
from my testing, there's also a bit of a dip in js perf. maybe due to GC aggressiveness tweaks.
chrija 2 days ago 0 replies      
My own tests confirm these numbers.
bogomipz 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have a question - should the same also be true on the latest Chromium?
known 1 day ago 0 replies      
gf263 2 days ago 4 replies      
does this help the battery life in any way?
desireco42 1 day ago 0 replies      
That is welcome change, I already switched to Opera and happy with it, but we really need a lot of choices always and that is why I welcome this change.
piotrjurkiewicz 2 days ago 0 replies      
> heap snapshot87 KB85 KB3%

Are those really kilobytes? Not megabytes?

wfunction 2 days ago 1 reply      
[edit: removing comment as people made it unreadable anyway.]
RaitoBezarius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Typo in the title of the article linked : It's not Chome, it's Chrome.
agentgt 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice... but why is it faster/memory is more important to me. I suppose I could look at the changelog but it would have been nice if the post guessed why.
Canadian journalist's detention at US border raises press freedom alarms nytimes.com
435 points by anigbrowl  3 days ago   241 comments top 30
jliptzin 3 days ago 20 replies      
Don't be fooled, Canadian border patrol proudly engages in this as well. I was recently driving across the border to Montreal on vacation when Canadian border agents, in addition to searching my car and personal belongings, demanded to see my cell phone and turn over the password. I simply asked why, since I didn't think I was doing anything suspicious, at which point the agent angrily responded "because I can and now I'm going to search it extra thoroughly." I asked what would happen if I didn't turn the password over and just went back home to the US, they told me they'd seize the device and put me in prison until they break into it. So, I gave the password, 3 agents took it in the back for 45 minutes, came back and questioned me about some texts I had with a friend from months ago who was talking about marijuana, and eventually let me pass to Canada. Hopefully they didn't hold on to all my personal data or install backdoors but just in case I wiped the phone and reinstalled from a backup.

In any case, this was extremely intrusive and I couldn't stop thinking about it the whole trip. I wondered what would happen if I had actually forgotten my phone password - just weeks before I changed from a 6 digit numeric code to a longer alphanumeric and almost forgot it since it had been a while since the last time I restarted my phone requiring password entry. I had a lot of very private photos and conversations on there with my SO. Definitely ruined my whole vacation.

Edit: Also, they didn't just stick to private photos and messages, they even opened up dating apps checking for messages there, opened up unread snap and kik messages too.

loceng 3 days ago 1 reply      
'Agents requested access to his phones and to look through his photos so that they could make sure he was not posing next to any dead bodies, he said. When he refused, citing the need to protect his sources as a journalist, they took the phones, he said.

The phones were later returned and showed signs that the SIM cards had been replaced, he said. Giving up the contents of his private phone would be akin to a doctor giving up confidential patient information, he said.

Im not going to open my phone for any other country, Mr. Ou, a New York Times contributor who was an intern for the news organization in 2010, said in a phone interview on Thursday from Nunavut, Canada. I cant be expected to do the same for the U.S.

Jason Givens, a United States Customs and Border Protection spokesman, declined to comment on Mr. Ous case, citing privacy laws.'


nostromo 3 days ago 13 replies      
I'm so embarrassed how America treats people entering the U.S.

It's the first experience foreigners have in our country, and we make it one of the worst experiences in the developed world.

Industries that benefit from tourism should lobby the Federal Government to improve the travel experience to, from, and within the US. I personally would fly at least a few more times a year if the TSA/CBP process treated people with urgency and dignity.

tristor 3 days ago 1 reply      
I work remotely and travel the world. I'm also a staunch privacy advocate. My mode for travel is to ensure any device I bring with me has a minimum of data on it, has full encryption, and is powered off before crossing any security boundary.

If the device is powered off it requires a complete pass phrase to decrypt and is not susceptible to cold boot attacks. Beyond that I will adamantly refuse to turn over my passwords to ANYONE, EVER. Anybody who has a legitimate need to bypass my authentication has the ability to do so without my passwords (ala SSO at work). If that ends up with me being unjustly imprisoned, I will fight that battle when it happens.

My findings though are there are two types of border agents that ask inanely stupid things like having you login to a device. The first are bullies on a power trip. These guys will make spurious claims and try to hold you to them, hopefully their supervisors are more reasonable or things go South fast.

The second type are wheedling opportunists. These guys will ask for unreasonable things as an opening to negotiate a large bribe or because they think you'll play along and let them display a power trip to their nearby cronies. If you're adamant and serious, they'll usually just not target you.

The fact this sort of behavior is becoming commonplace in the "more civilized" parts of the world is truly worrisome though. Corruption in most Western governments tends to be at the top, not officers taking bribes. That means this behavior has the full backing of the law (or at least some semblance) and you play a real risk of your entire life being ruined if you don't comply. Personally I still plan to refuse and not give in, but that's not a reasonable choice for most people in this situation. The whole thing is disgusting.

ericthor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another case from 2013...

US Citizens, Phones stolen, detained without explanation, and officers refused to give names.

"OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman, her family, and her friends were detained for hours by US Customs and Border Protection on their way home from Canada. Everyone being held was a US citizen, and no one received an explanation. Sarah tells the story of their detainment, and her difficulty getting any answers from one of the least transparent agencies in the country."

It's an audio podcasts, but there are transcript as well.


More on the subject.http://www.wnyc.org/story/on-the-media-2014-02-28/

leeoniya 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Keeping America safe and enforcing our nations laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the U.S.,"

What does "lawfully" even mean in this context? It's one of those words used specifically to excuse legally questionable practices at best, and outright illegal or unethical behavior by people in positions of authority, like parallel construction and evidence suppression.

You can say we lawfully performed a civil forfieture. Or lawfully detained a suspect for 8 months.

NotSammyHagar 3 days ago 2 replies      
This appears to be a horrifying development. There has been similar treatment of journalists writing about Edward Snowden. I wish there was will to change our laws to restrict such searches, but it aint happening right now.
colmvp 3 days ago 3 replies      
I tried arguing this persons privacy yet I got highly downvoted on /r/canada, for points that I felt I couldn't refute, specifically that crossing a nations border is not a right but a privilege, and that most Western nations have similar POVs when it comes to the right for border officers to inspect laptops/phones.

I know that the ACLU and EFF have fought to defend Americans from having their laptops/phones inspected at the border, but I believe I read they haven't had much success in the legal system.

I still don't understand the rationale behind being able to inspect someones computer/mobile phone. Even in the case of say, possessing child pornography, I would assume most people are caught by tracked websites than random searches at the border?

Aloha 3 days ago 0 replies      
As an American, I find this extremely disconcerting. I've long been deeply bothered by the unlimited power the border patrol has, and the lack of transparency it shows when it takes action. Nor am I comfortable how far beyond the border these extended powers are claimed by CBP to exist either.

Frankly, entering the country should be a much more transparent process - and barring something I dont know, I see no reason why this journalist should have been denied entry, other than someone at the border got a hair up their ass about it.

sqeaky 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am deeply concerned for the state of my country people say stupid shit like this:

> Keeping America safe and enforcing our nations laws in an increasingly digital world depends on our ability to lawfully examine all materials entering the U.S., Mr. Givens said in a statement on Thursday.

People who say this fail to realize they are the threat.

yladiz 3 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't mention in the article if he had a work visa, but I imagine he did if he was assigned by CBC to cover the event. It's pretty terrible that a journalist would be denied entry into a country that supposedly has high press freedom on an official assignment because the government (or maybe just the officer who denied him) doesn't like what's happening in Standing Rock. It's even stranger that 1) he is a well known Canadian journalist, so he's probably as low risk as someone could be, and 2) if this would have been a problem, I'm sure that CBC would have taken care of it ahead of time and made sure everything was in order, but it must be so routine for journalists to come from Canada that there wasn't any other necessary preparations besides getting the visa (which should be enough anyway...). We might not have "minders" while we're in the country, but it seems we now have them when entering.
buildbot 3 days ago 1 reply      
Given how everything in most phones is by default encrypted these days, I wonder how diffult I would be for someone like Apple to offer a border crossing mode that has whatever apps you deem acceptable, while firewalling off others in an undetectable way?
vijayp 3 days ago 1 reply      
If he actually flew out of YVR, he was probably in a us preclearance area -- us customs are located in some Canadian airports so flights can go directly into us domestic terminals.

Since those screenings are on Canadian territory, us agents do not have police powers or the right to detain people. They can deny entry but people can leave at any time unless they have violated Canadian law. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_border_preclea...)

If this was the case, he could have simply left the airport at any time.

TazeTSchnitzel 3 days ago 3 replies      
Interestingly, even US citizens aren't exempted from this. Constitutional rights seemingly don't apply at the border.
plg 3 days ago 2 replies      
Q: do customs agents (in either USA or Canada) have the right to ask for social network passwords, even if you don't cross with a device? e.g. Facebook? Gmail? what about Dropbox? I suppose you could try "I don't have an account on that" but what if they know you do?
spinlock 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sure the journalist would have used a burner phone if he were traveling to China or North Korea. He just needs to understand that the United States of America has a similar view of his human rights.
pasbesoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
OT but pertaining to increasing frictions at/across borders.

I'm in the U.S. Today -- for the first time in quite some time -- I went to the post office to mail a small box to an old friend in Belgium. Five paperback books and an inexpensive ceramic dish with a catchy/inspiring quote on it. $38 worth of gifts. Weighed in at 3 lbs, 10 oz.

I'm used to being able to mail something like that for, I don't know, $15 -$20. Maybe $25.

Today, the cheapest option they have for such a thing is "first class". $50. For less than four pounds, in a small cardboard box.

The postal clerk told me she herself has been shocked by the increases. The supposed explanation: "Security."

As I commented elsewhere, it's almost like they don't want us to have international family and friends, anymore.

kazinator 3 days ago 0 replies      
> questioned about whether he had seen anyone die.

"Why, yes; that 151 foot copper lady standing between New York and Jersey, what's'erface."

intro-b 3 days ago 0 replies      
search, interrogation, and intimidation are timeless and scary-effective ways of maintaining control of narratives and perspectives

the maintenance of physical borders is not only about the physicality of keeping people out, but ideas and expression, the conceptual border guard, too

hysan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having recently returned to the US after moving abroad 5 years ago, I was pretty shocked by how much more security there was in the airports. Not only that, the manner and air of the various security workers made it feel like everyone was a terrorist threat. I felt guilty when being checked even though I had nothing to be guilty of. Has the American populace really become used to this level of treatment like a frog slowly being boiled alive?

Compare this to the many countries I visited on vacation and while some, for example China, have similarly strict and high levels of security, none of them made me feel like I was some sort of terrorist. It makes me wonder what sort of training the security staff goes through. Are they taught to treat people like this? Or are people skills simply not a requirement for a job that requires talking to people all day?

huangc10 3 days ago 2 replies      
As a Canadian living in the US, I've had a lot of trouble with US Customs at both airports (YVR, YYZ) and border crossing (Vancouver, Niagara).

However, I don't deny that it is at times necessary for Customs officers to be more strict. I would rather the officers do their jobs correctly and prevent incidents (drug smuggling, terrorism etc.) from happening.

Although at times they do seem to be unnecessarily aggressive.

refurb 3 days ago 1 reply      
That wall of navet that I had about the freedom of the press in the U.S. kind of shattered at that moment.

Freedom of the press means reporters can publish whatever they like. The CBP isn't stopping him from doing that. It certainly doesn't mean that reporters are free from searches that the average citizen has to put up with.

nickthemagicman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Journalists should start publishing under anonymous public/private keys over VPN's and Tor...or something along those lines Satoshi style.

I have a feeling with all this ugly Nationalism starting to rear its head in the world, journalists publishing unpopular opinions towards the mainstream Zeitgeist are going to be vulnerable to witch hunts.

fatdog 2 days ago 0 replies      
What kind of mobile filesystem wipers and SIM wipers are available?

I use Signal for txts, and while I believe it does not store plaintext txts on the SIM card (haven't analyzed it), SSDs strew cleartext data all over the place. Border guards using a disk imager like EnCase or something similar would get significant fragments of browser and communications history.

Key thing is if you have an iPhone, don't use TouchID, or as I call it, "Apple Bad Touch," because they can just hold you down and run your finger over it.

It's best to travel with a burner. Maybe we need a cyanogenmod image that includes a "duress key" like TC had, and old RSA tokens, but if there is anything on your phone that could be used against people you know, don't take it across borders.

neom 3 days ago 0 replies      
I clicked this expecting to read that they wanted to know if he was allowed to work there or that he needed some obscure work permit or something, however what unfolded is truly bizarre, especially the part about looking for photos with dead bodies. Tangentially: I've crossed the border from Canada to the US so many times, applied for multiple visas etc. Sometimes I feel like if the enforcement officers wonder that they themselves are ignorant of the law (I do imagine there is some complexity and nuance to approving crossings outside of the standard tourist or B1 visa) they go into random and long checks to figure out what they are supposed to do, but on the traveler side it feels like they're figuring out if you are doing the right thing (if that makes sense).
kakashi19 2 days ago 0 replies      
When you're entering the U.S. or Canada, you surrender your rights by default. The border agents can search all your belongings, including any of your digital device. At the border, less is more; bring less, tell less. Once they start digging, be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
negrit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a truecrypt for iPhone?
debt 3 days ago 3 replies      
why would they tamper with or replace the sim cards?

seems like it'd be smarter these days to be more covert about your photojournalism career; might be smart to have a cover.

also standing rock is reaching a boiling point. it's obviously becoming a national security issue if they're stopping people at the border.

mzw_mzw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Disclaimer: US border control, including in this case, is in my view terrible, unjust, and counterproductive. That being said:

There's a weird "OMG A JOURNALIST WAS HASSLED!" angle to the story that, frankly, smells of aristocratic entitlement. Journalists aren't some superior class entitled to swan about the world freely while us filthy plebeians wait in line for toilet paper; at least in America, they're citizens with no more -- and no fewer -- rights than anyone else, and that's the way it should be. The First Amendment is for every citizen, not just those who've managed to get credentials with someone.

Indeed, anyone advocating a reduction to border search insanity is likely harming their cause by linking it to journalists in particular, since journalists are such a widely despised group. There's going to be a nonzero number of people who are going to hear about a journalist being given trouble at the border, even unjustly, and think "good," not "wow, that could happen to me."

Facebooks Walled Wonderland Is Inherently Incompatible with News mondaynote.com
354 points by drallison  21 hours ago   226 comments top 23
andrewvijay 19 hours ago 10 replies      
> We are not in the business of picking which issues the world should read about. We are in the business of connecting people and ideasand matching people with the stories they find most meaningful. Our integrity depends on being inclusive of all perspectives and view points, and using ranking to connect people with the stories and sources they find the most meaningful and engaging.

Simply incredible. They are asserting themselves only as a business and not emotional influencers. The emotional influences that facebook brings in people is very powerful. I have seen so many of my friends just vanishing from my feed and almost all of my feed is filled with a couple of pages that I see/interact often. The bubbles are getting incredibly smaller that its very worrying.

A very good example that I saw is the `demonetisation of higher denominations` in India. I was shocked to see the amount of ignorance my close friends showed on how the poor people of our country were left to suffer. So many never read any sort of arguments against the govt's move. They read only pro posts. They were quite visibly upset when being told about how 70+ people have died because of this and all that. I saw a bubble being burst with my own eyes. When there is no way to argue then its not a democracy at all. It favors fanatics because hate/fear spreads faster than love/acceptance.

Facebook simply kills democracy for their own benefit.

bionsuba 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Hideo Kojima keeps getting proved right:

 But in the current, digitized world, trivial information is accumulating every second. Preserved in all its triteness. Never fading, always accessible. The digital society furthers human flaws and selectively rewards development of convenient half-truths. You exercise your right to "freedom" and this is the result. All rhetoric to avoid conflict and protect each other from hurt. The untested truths spun by different interests continue to churn and accumulate in the sandbox of political correctness and value systems. Everyone withdraws into their own small gated community, afraid of a larger forum. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever "truth" suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large. The different cardinal truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but nobody is right. Not even natural selection can take place here. The world is being engulfed in "truth."

NeutronBoy 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Facebook censor news!

Facebook removes human censors

Facebook allow fake news on their platform!

One a serious note: Fake news is a different problem to news 'bubbles' designed to create positive emotions. Sure they're closely linked, but you can have either without the other. I read this article and it seems to switch between them both. I appreciate the viewpoint but I found it hard to follow.

herbst 14 hours ago 5 replies      
This is just getting more stupid everday. Facebook is no and never was a news platform. It is a crappy social network and only reflects your inner friend circle.

Why anyone and especially facebook should care about fake news is beyond me.

twhb 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Going on a tangent for a moment, please don't take it as a comment on Facebook, Facebook's culpability, what Facebook should do, etc.

Say we have a Facebook alternative X which implements no filter, makes no effort to garner views and shares (let's elide financials for now). Say X, like Facebook, has news published on it, which users may subscribe to and receive. Is it not true that most users will more often follow news sources they're interested in, effectively self-filtering? Is it not true that news sources are financially motivated to appeal to said users by self-filtering, or even manifesting as multiple brands with different biases?

And finally, say there's no X, and each news source has its own separate channel to its users - like websites or newspapers. Are both of the above effects not still true?

Back to Facebook, we need to figure out what a solution looks like before we tell Facebook which direction to turn.

moomin 18 hours ago 1 reply      
The broader point is that this analysis applies not just to Facebook, but Twitter and Reddit as well. Engagement is a revenue driver and veracity isn't.

What's worse, the same applies to regular news as well as aggregators. It always has to a certain extent, but improving technology, changing social attitudes and razor-thin margins have weaponised this.

But we're not even finished there: the US and the UK are geographically sorting their populations by political affiliation. Want to see a political bubble? Look outside.

exwebtina 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"Trump campaign made use of fake news" NPR tracked down one of them - Democrat. http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/23/503...
vivekd 9 hours ago 1 reply      
To be fair, if an individual's primary source of news is facebook, it doesn't seem like such an individual would be all that informed about the world around them with or without facebook.
794CD01 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Another article that avoids talking about the root cause because it's too unpalatable. Blaming facebook is misguided. Free speech is inherently incompatible with news.
ivanhoe 18 hours ago 3 replies      
How is this different from news sites? They also earn the most of money from advertisers and the main criteria for those advertisers are page views. We still completely lack a viable internet business model that would strongly encourage the quality and not quantity...
earthly10x 20 hours ago 1 reply      
That's yet another reason why it's the next AOL.
dpandey 12 hours ago 1 reply      
A huge part of the story seems to be around confirmation bias (people like reading stuff that supports what they already believe).

While confirmation bias is a fact of life, reading fake stories to confirm your bias is not something that anybody wants to do, regardless of how irrational the bias is. Facebook obviously doesn't want to be seen as having influenced the election so they're unwilling to say anything that admits responsibility. But Zuckerberg has shown boldness and maturity as one of the best CEOs time and again, and I'd expect them to start filtering out fake news before the next presidential election. This is not an issue that's going to go away because it's going to get worse and it's going to get a lot more attention now that everyone knows about it.

A core part of Facebooks stand is that they don't want to be seen as taking editorial responsibility (they can't afford to). Part of the problem there is precisely defining 'fake news'. For example, if I am a conspiracy theorist and I write a blog about how NASA never landed a rover on Mars, should Facebook delete it? At what point does irrational writing turn to fake news? Anecdotally we know that the article that claimed an informer who reported on clintons emails was murdered was obviously false. Or that the pope didn't endorse trump. The key is to build a framework that allows a company like Facebook to flag these without being seen as editors.

It doesn't sound like a problem Facebook can't solve. And it has to. There's no escaping it now because political and public opinion are both going to pressure them. And it'd be unwise to ignore them.

UI wise, a clean way to do this might be to put a red banner on a corner of the article with the words 'possibly false'. So Facebook doesn't delete the article, but labels it and you can challenge it if you want. It's going to be hugely discouraging to fakers.

SuperPaintMan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Just as a curiosity, the feeds shown through FBs various channels are different. I've switched to the mobile site after using the dedicated app and noticed much less random things-tangentially-interesting in my feed but with more of a focus on my immediate friends. It's surprisingly made FB a much more enjoyable medium for me as I can keep tabs on the personal lives of a few close members in a fairly chronological view.

Anyone know possibly why there is these differences or can explain exactly what's going on here?

Super_Jambo 14 hours ago 1 reply      
My personal view is that low regulation advertising is simply not compatible with Western Democracy. If you don't regulate away emotive and brand advertising you're corrupting all the systems that are supposed to regulate our societies (for brevity "advertising" refers to brand and emotive advertising in the below).

The basic idea of how information flows & control works in western market driven democratic republics:

People -> Government -> Markets <- People

The People Elect their Government. The Government controls the rules of "The Market". The People decide what they want in their day to day lives, demand it from actors in "The Market". Those who fulfill these needs are rewarded and copied. Information moves from consumers to market actors rapidly, this information is hard to fake.

This is very much how markets that don't have much advertising work, take rice, wheat, logistics. Success demands you provide a better product at lower cost. People can easily compare products so you _must_ compete on price, the companies get very efficient they make stuff people want cheaply.

What does advertising do to the above system? Firstly your market starts rewarding the best liars and cheats. Make cheap crappy sewing machines whilst buying out previously good sewing machine brands and running their name into the dirt? FANTASTIC! HUGE REWARD! DO MORE OF THIS. Make soft drinks of dubious health value but persuade people that their consumption is necessary to their social lives? FANTASTIC! HUGE REWARD!

If this wasn't bad enough the advertisers are able to give away entertainment and news content for free. Most people do not want to pay for things and aren't aware how subtle and pervasive the lies are. So most people lap this free information up, so now the advertisers hold the purse strings on every media channel out there. The advertisers control the people, the advertisers control the market.

Adverts -> Government -> Market <- Adverts.

The final negative impact is the huge swaths of people who are working incredibly hard at a net loss for society at large. People who aren't working making things other people want. People who are working at making other people want things they otherwise wouldn't. Wonder why we aren't working 15 hour weeks as predicted by Keynes? Blame all the people making adverts and everyone who's making content funded by those adverts.

Fake news & Facebook are the latest and worst examples of this corruption. But really it's just a symptom of the underlying disease. After we've perfected mechanization and economies of scale large profits require you fool people into making bad decisions. Doing this is lucrative and since our markets are evolutionary optimizing machines we are going to see it get worse unless we take action to stop it.

DanielBMarkham 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting when Zuck says that "...Weve gone from a world of isolated communities to one global community, and were all better off for it..." he's exactly wrong. FB has created much more stronger community segmentation.

Were you that weird guy in your village who believe aliens built the pyramids? Before, you'd have to interact with those villagers. They'd have to interact with you. Neither of you would like it, but they might be reminded to be more compassionate to others. You might be reminded that the vast majority of people think you're a nut. Both of these effects are socially worthwhile, yet unpleasant.

But not anymore. Now you can log into Facebook from the comfort of your house and instantly be in a community of ten thousand other people who think aliens built the pyramids. You can share videos, pictures, links, theories, and generally rant about how stupid most people are.

The villagers? Dude. You don't exist anymore. After a few years of that, most of the villagers probably wouldn't even believe people like you exist. After a decade or two the next generation would think of you as being sick, dangerous, and in need of societal intervention.

This is a really, really bad thing we're creating. Yes, you can make a cute and useful app that lets people communicate. But don't rationalize and bullshit your way into thinking that somehow you are changing the world. What you're doing is ignoring centuries of mankind learning how the species gets better over time in favor of making a few bucks with advertising. Dressing it up and trying to sell it like it's nirvana is evil.

edblarney 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I do not accept the author's premise that 'personalized curation' inherently implies 'false news'.
john_mac 12 hours ago 0 replies      
There really is an alternative - crowd curated news by Virwire - https://virwire.com - bypasses the whole media bias thing with good old wisdom of the crowds. (shameless plug, I'm the developer)
rimantas 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The urge to flag any post that has "Walled X" in it gets stronger every day.
hanso 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Arguments occur to be weak. Some reasons are given, but cannot be said to appear to be complete. Verdict: arbitrary gossip.
tmptmp 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I am not a fan of FB but it must be understood that FB is not a news agency.

Another thing to consider here is: FB may be wallgardened, but what about the mainstream news organizations that are sold out to various parties? (e.g. Saudi Islamists have many huge investments/shares in many mainstream news organizations)

Many mainstream news organizations are worse than FB when it comes to spread lies and propaganda in the name of news. We can already feel the influence of Saudi money in the US mainstream media. The mainstream US media is suppressing any criticism of Islam under the flimsy arguments like racism and islamophobia. This is already creating a suffocating atmosphere for true liberals.

A factor to note here is even though the mainstream news organizations claim that they are liberal and left-leaning, they act like barbaric people when it comes to Islam. I do not see any criticism of Islam (e.g. horrendous treatment of women, homosexuals in Islam) in the mainstream media. Not even the discussion of problematic aspects of Islamic scriptures has any place in the mainstream media.

Why should a common man trust the mainstream media news media?

Then you see that it's the social media (FB, whatsapp, twitter, reddit etc) that gives the people what they think is needed to be reported/argued/discussed.

e.g. FB (along with many other social media sites) has helped lot of people to learn the dangers posed by Islamism.

How and why someone as lowly as Trump got elected? This may be very complex topic to analyze as there are many contributing factors but one factor played very important role in his win is the "outright dishonest approach by mainstream news media towards the issue of dangers posed by Islam".

Sam Harris has put it quite aptly: Liberals failure to talk honestly about Islam is responsible for the rise of Trump [1]

I have learnt over the years to not trust many of the pseudo-liberal news organizations like NY times, Guardian etc. e.g. When Charlie Hebdo people were killed by the Islamists, most of these left-leaning pseudo-liberal news agencies were/are very much partial and acted like outright sold-out to Islamists (Saudi funders) when it comes to deal with news related to the vicious and barbaric aspects of Islam and various Islamic cultures.

We must also understand that it's finally the reader's responsibility to filter all news, whether it's from FB or from other established news agencies/organizations.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YCWf0tHy7M

Ygg2 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a huge problem with this article. I don't think anything it says cannot be applied to people using Internet without Facebook or Google.

Internet is the filter bubble. Facebook is just its latest upgrade.

mozumder 19 hours ago 3 replies      
Social media sites always end up turning toxic. The problem is that they give a voice to all the mindless idiots of society.

These people should never be given a voice. There is no justification for that. Voices should always be edited and filtered by higher powers.

The common opinion is worth nothing, since we already know what it is, so why repeat it?

anabis 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I think people are being unreasonably demanding of FaceBook.

Fake-news, I can see the problem.

However snobbishly trolling with risque art and historical pictures, and slamming FB because the overworked mods were not sophisticated enough to recognize them seems like bullying to me.

Open-sourcing DeepMind Lab deepmind.com
337 points by happy-go-lucky  17 hours ago   26 comments top 9
jakozaur 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like OpenAI set some standards. E.g. OpenAI Gym that encourage others like DeepMind to open-soure more training sets.

Also gaming seems to be driving a lot of innovation. In 1990s games drove CPU/GPU advances, while now they seems to be perfect training for future AI deep-learning algorithms.

saycheese 14 hours ago 1 reply      
In case it's not obvious, DeepMind is Google:

>> "DeepMind was founded in London in 2010 and backed by some of the most successful technology entrepreneurs in the world. Having been acquired by Google in 2014, we are now part of the Alphabet group. We continue to be based in our hometown of London, alongside some of the country's leading academic, cultural and scientific organisations in the King's Cross Knowledge Quarter."

modeless 7 hours ago 0 replies      
From the paper:

DeepMind Lab is built on top of id softwares Quake III Arena (id software, 1999)engine using the ioquake3 (Nussel et al., 2016) version of the codebase, which isactively maintained by enthusiasts in the open source community. DeepMind Labalso includes tools from q3map2 (GtkRadiant, 2016) and bspc (bspc, 2016) for levelgeneration. The bot scripts are based on code from the OpenArena (OpenArena,2016) project.

amelius 16 hours ago 4 replies      
This sounds ambitious.

I wonder if they can also address the following problem. Currently, deep learning toolkits need thousands of training images to classify images of, e.g., dogs and cats. A human, in contrast, could learn the difference between a dog and a cat by looking just at a single example (or perhaps a few). So right now, deep learning is too much "simple" pattern matching, and too little real "AI".

cee_el1234 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this meant to be a competitor to the just released OpenAI Universe ? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13103742
pedalpete 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I find it interesting that they specify "3D vision from a first person viewpoint". Can somebody explain to me the significance of first person viewpoint vs 3rd person (or other)?
iotb 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is there such low activity on this thread vs the OpenAI thread?
faragon 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Where is the source code?
rahrahrah 15 hours ago 2 replies      
> There are two parts to this research program: (1) designing ever-more intelligent agents capable of more-and-more sophisticated cognitive skills, and (2) building increasingly complex environments where agents can be trained and evaluated.

I find this puzzling. If your goal were to create an human-like AI (which I always assume is at least partly implicit in these ambitious projects), it seems to me that the trickiest part is to determine what rewards make an optimization algorithm "human". How rewards weight and interact amongst themselves is where the mistery is, isn't it? So why isn't this part of the research program? Any deepminder wants to weight in on this?

Disassembling Sublime Text thume.ca
403 points by trishume  1 day ago   137 comments top 15
halotrope 1 day ago 2 replies      
Ah Sublime2 was my first binary-cracking project. After countless hours of debugging with GDB and trying to understand assembly in Hopper I managed to disable the nag and patch the binary. (Purely for fun. I bought a license shortly after, of course I did not distribute this in any way). Will never forget how proud and satisfied I felt when it finally worked.

While mostly using Jetbrains or Atom with VIM plugin for development these days I still value Sublime for being able to handle really big files a million times better than Java/Web based editors.

userbinator 1 day ago 2 replies      
I also tried to figure out how some parts of the editor work and why they are so fast, but I couldnt figure out much from the assembly.

Those who are interested in text editor design may find this series and the links therein useful:


khedoros1 1 day ago 0 replies      
> If I spent an entire day I might be able to reverse engineer one function

Yep, that's kind of the way it works, when you start out. Then you get used to some of the patterns that the compiler uses, and you can get through several in a day, if you're lucky!

Zaheer 1 day ago 10 replies      
I recently installed VSCode just to try and was pleasantly surprised. For Sublime users there's a plugin to remap all keyboard shortcuts to Sublime ones (when available ex. multi-line edit isn't just yet). VSCode is getting updates on a monthly basis it seems and I have no doubt it'll catch up to Sublime in the next 6-12 months.
Shugyousha 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The sregex the page mentions is most likely this one:


Its distinguishing feature is that it's a regex library that matches streams (hence 's'regex).

yread 1 day ago 6 replies      
What is a modern disassembler on windows nowadays if I'm too cheap for IDA?
jewbacca 1 day ago 2 replies      

 "draw_shadows": false
Fuck yes. I run into this as a (minor) problem all the time. Should be exposed by default.

What a cool exercise in general.

nailer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> draw_debug

> A boolean that if true enables a special debugging text renderer. It seems to turn sections of the document either blue or red, and within the sections it turns tokens alternating light and dark shades of those colours. Note you have to set the setting to false to turn it off, not just delete it. These change sometimes when scrolling and editing but I cant figure out when and why.

That sounds exactly like GPU layers in web development - green is GPU accelerated, red is unaccelerated.

adamrezich 1 day ago 3 replies      
Slightly OT: I've never heard of Skia before, but a few years ago I was trying to find a good vector graphics solution for realtime video games... can it be used for that?
mungoid 1 day ago 0 replies      
About once a year I get a hankering to mess with disassembling something but usually after countless screenshots, open tabs, notes, etc. I remember that I am terribly slow with assembly.
mcpherrinm 1 day ago 0 replies      
> snappy: Fast compression, not sure what it is used for

Quite possibly leveldb, listed immediately above snappy, which can optionally compress content with snappy.

hthh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, in a happy coincidence syntect is exactly what I was looking for all last week! Now I just need to figure out Rust.
ncdr 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is this legal?
vuanotinb 1 day ago 7 replies      
Nice, but I wonder how much time has Sublime left now that VSCode, which is better and free, is out.
c-smile 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am wondering why someone even want to disassemble any editor these days...

There is no mystery in principle. Take Scintilla if you want to study editor in source code. That is straightforward implementation but works well enough.

As of syntax highlighting ...

You can use either regexp'es or, which is better, some predefined tokenizers.

Pretty much all programming languages have concepts of NMTOKENs (keywords variable names), string literals, numbers, comments. You can write very fast tokeneizers/scanners that will give you basic blocks. If needed you can pass these blocks to regexp for further processing. That will give you very fast processing.

If to deal with markup languages then use separate tokenizer. Almost 10 years ago I've written this: https://www.codeproject.com/Articles/14076/Fast-and-Compact-... , tens of megabytes of XML/HTML processing per second...

Four Million Commutes Reveal New U.S. 'Megaregions' nationalgeographic.com
313 points by nopinsight  1 day ago   248 comments top 26
bane 1 day ago 13 replies      
Coming form the mid-Atlantic region, I'm continuously surprised at what a non-entity Baltimore has turned out to be. It seems to have been entirely subsumed by its more well known neighbors: D.C. and Philly -- yet being so near to those two seems to have almost entirely escaped the economic and social revival that's happened in those two major regions as well.

One other thought, the artificial, and somewhat arbitrary drawing of state boundaries has also made urban planning needlessly complex. If the U.S. had a method to redraw state boundaries every 20-30 years, these regions would be just about the right size to be states, and this would greatly simplify the planning and coordination of everything from transit to education delivery.

Instead, most of these regions cut across these administrative boundaries and medium sized 5 year projects turn into multi-decade, highly wasteful, high friction programs with an extraordinary high chance of failure.

niftich 1 day ago 2 replies      
The arbitrary choice of 50 regions results in some fairly generous interpretations of 'regions'.

Namely, this method produces two kinds of regions: ones that are clustered around a single metropolitan area that has a higher-than-average commuter pull around its hinterland, and ones that are slightly too far from a major metro and lump together a chain of areas that form a loose "commuter continuum" of areas where commuters have two or more equally plausible choices to commuter to -- this chain then hops along interstate highways, grouping unrelated towns across hundreds of miles into the same region.

Take the one that they call 'Corn Belt', encompassing Des Moines, Davenport/Moline, and every single city in Illinois on I-74 (including Urbana-Champaign!). In no universe do people commute hundreds of miles along I-74. In truth, this is a polycentric area with many distinct loci which attract their own, distinct set of commuters: Des Moines/Ames; Cedar Rapids/Iowa City; Quad Cities; Peoria; Urbana-Champaign. The "cohesiveness" of the region exists solely in contrast to its neighbors: that more populous metros on the region's fringes are all too far out of sane commuting distance.

Or the Appalachians: Roanoke in Virginia forms a vital locus for much of west-central Virginia and yet is swallowed into a much larger region including Greensboro, Raleigh, and Wilmington(!), because people living midway between Roanoke and Greensboro (like in Danville, VA, or Martinsville, VA), have two equally plausible larger job centers to commute to. The same can be said about Charleston, WV, which forms a job hub in West Virginia, but is grouped together with Columbus and most of Ohio because smaller towns along the Ohio River are roughly equidistant from either.

It helps me to look at each of their regions and think "people rarely commute outside of their region", rather than the more natural interpretation of "people commute along their region".

cwp 1 day ago 7 replies      
This sort of thing is fascinating to me. I think that somehow, humanity needs to transition to a political structure where cities are the primary unit of governance, rather than nations. That won't happen quickly or soon, but someday...

More immediately, it's becoming increasingly clear that the "polarization" that we're seeing in U.S. politics isn't really between left and right or Ds and Rs. It's between the urban and rural. I'd love to see a version of this that drew boundaries between urban centres and the countryside. That would give us a way to start thinking about how to craft policy that recognizes the differences between them.

davidw 1 day ago 8 replies      
I really don't get what this is supposed to represent, exactly.

No one commutes from Ashland, Oregon to Portland Oregon - it's a 4+ hour drive. Yet they're in the same pink area. Meanwhile, no one really commutes from Bend to Portland either (2.5 hour drive in good weather), but we're brown over here.

There's certainly some more cultural affinity between cities in Oregon's Willamette Valley than with the more conservative central and eastern part of the state, but even that only holds for the larger cities - there are plenty of pretty 'red' places down the I-5 corridor.

owenversteeg 1 day ago 2 replies      
From personal experience (I've lived in 3 places in the US), some of these make sense and some don't at all. For example, the little light green region over Idaho Falls/Pocatello area makes sense as a region and looks nice. But Burlington and Albany being one region? They're three hours apart, separated by a whole lotta nothing - I know because I lived a bit east of that nothing. Or the adjacent "economic area" (in green, covering Boston/NH/Maine), which also makes no sense. There's no way that far-north Maine, western NH, and Boston are one economic area.

And aside from making connections that aren't there, there are some connections that should be there that aren't. The Upper Valley is definitely either one economic region (or a a subset of a larger region) and it's literally split in half, in two separate regions. It's pretty funny, the way the map splits the economic zones down the Connecticut river you'd think we didn't have bridges.

Fun unrelated fact: Pocatello has "the worst flag of North America" according to the North American Vexillological Association: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_Pocatello_Idaho.jpg

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 2 replies      
I think it shows us once again how clustering algorithms fail which isn't very useful. I can think of several methodologies that would make for a better analysis for urban planning.

However the one thing it did suggest is that Google would be in an interesting position to create such data sets using their maps navigation data. Take every commercial address in a region and the compute the commute time to and from every residential address in the same region. Pick some arbitrary one-way commute cut offs like 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, and 120 minutes. Then plot them on a spectrum from based on the weighted average of commute times (so if a site had 6,000 30 minute commutes, 40,000 60 minute commutes, and 250,000 90 minute commutes it would get one score higher than a place that only had 1000 30 minute commutes and 300,000 90 minute commutes.

wjossey 1 day ago 1 reply      
A couple points of clarification for those who found this interesting:

[1] Data around commuting time can be found in the American Community Survey (ACS), which is released annually with 1, 3, and 5 year rollups (for general blending of accuracy vs. recency). [2] This data is looking specifically at work commute times, not any personal travel.

I've been taking a couple months off between jobs, and learning the ACS has become a hobby during that time. Lots of interesting and fascinating data that we collect on ourselves as a country.

Reference: https://www.census.gov/hhes/commuting/

erikpukinskis 1 day ago 0 replies      
You can call this "research" but it's not science. When you do science you can't just run your data, decide the numbers don't look right, and then tweak them until the picture produced looks publishable.

That is a way to make art that reflects your worldview, but it won't have any science content left in it.

If they wanted to do science they would need to devise a model of megaregions, form hypotheses, design tests ahead of time to confirm or refute those hypothesis, and only then run the data.

Spooky23 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool maps that correlate with my acendotal experience.

When you take the early (5-6 am) morning train from Albany to Penn Station regularly, it's easy to spot the small number off small number commuters from the more typical government workers, lawyers and salesmen. It's about a 50/50 mix of construction guys and attorneys.

I sat with one of the constructions guys once and we chatted. He was an electrician and actually drove another 45 minutes from his home to the train. Had a big family and couldn't afford NY metro costs. Claimed that a majority of the guys he worked with either lived in the Hudson Valley or Pennsylvania for the same reason.

That really says a lot... I think a commuter pass costs like $800/mo for that trip!

applecore 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Northeast Boswash megalopolis[1] is a narrow 400-mile strip of land that encompasses a population of over 50 million people.

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

pizza 1 day ago 0 replies      
Looking at the map that shows Santa Cruz, I can't help but imagine how many more commutes there would be "over the hill" on Highway 17 if there weren't such a hilly, windy road via that commute. Eventually it might become economically feasible to physically "move mountains" so to speak for the purpose of unlocking greater personal transport... I wonder how much terraforming might affect future projects across all the world, let alone Northern California.
taeric 1 day ago 0 replies      
The lack of a name in the giant section in the northwest on the final map is... interesting. I think I get why it has no name. Still odd.

Similarly, the "deep south" feels like a shoutout to Futurama. (Though, Atlanta is already named. I guess it is "pre move to the ocean." :) )

umanwizard 1 day ago 0 replies      
I want to meet the people who are supposedly commuting to Phoenix from north of the Grand Canyon. Do they commute by helicopter?
762236 1 day ago 0 replies      
I live in Menlo Park in the Bay Area, and have given specialized jobs to contractors that drove 2 to 3 hours to fix my house. These guys target this area, despite being so far away, and use phablets to stay connected and maintain their Yelp presence.
kriro 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Lubbock, Spokane...looks like it's mostly around universities in the "nowhere land" regions?
e2e4 1 day ago 0 replies      
somehow it is not mentioned which software was used to generate the graphics; not even in the original article: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal....
deathhand 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oh look they published the future Hyper-loop map. How nice of them.
Pica_soO 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is the landfilling trend in san francisco- i wonder- is there a point where its more economical to extend a city in underwater suburbs?
btbuildem 1 day ago 0 replies      
This information would be useful when planning the next-gen transportation network..
yellowapple 1 day ago 0 replies      
"And Im not convinced the Bay Area-Sacramento megaregion where I live should extend all the way to Nevada."

I agree with this. I live in Truckee, and would be much more inclined to commute to Reno (which is 30 minutes away) than Sacramento (which is 1 hour 30 minutes away). The more likely border would at the very least be near Donner Pass.

The algorithms used are likely being influenced by the Sierras (and particularly Tahoe) being a popular tourist destination for Sacramento and Bay Area residents.

schiffern 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of what Christopher Alexander et. al. wrote in A Pattern Language. Made up of 253 patterns organized by scale, the largest scale discussed (and therefore Pattern #1) is "Independent Regions:"

Do what you can to establish a world government, with a thousand independent regions, instead of Metropolitan regions will not come to balance until each one is small and autonomous enough to be an independent sphere of culture.

There are four separate arguments which have led us to this conclusion: I. The nature and limits of human government. 2. Equity among regions in a world community. 3. Regional planning considerations. 4. Support for the intensity and diversity of human cultures.

I. There are natural limits to the size of groups that can govern themselves in a human way. The biologist J. B. S. Haldane has remarked on this in his paper, "On Being the Right Size":

> ...just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. . . . (J. B. S Haldane, "On Being the Right Size," The World of Mathematics, Vol. II, J. R. Newman, ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956, pp. 962-67).

It is not hard to see why the government of a region becomes less and less manageable with size. In a population of N persons, there are of the order of N^2 person-to-person links needed to keep channels of communication open. Naturally, when N goes beyond a certain limit, the channels of communication needed for democracy and justice and information are simply too clogged, and too complex; bureaucracy overwhelms human processes.

And, of course, as N grows the number of levels in the hierarchy of government increases too. In small countries like Denmark there are so few levels, that any private citizen can have access to the Minister of Education. But this kind of direct access is quite impossible in larger countries like England or the United States.

We believe the limits are reached when the population of a region reaches some 2 to 10 million. Beyond this size, people become remote from the large-scale processes of government. Our estimate may seem extraordinary in the light of modern history: the nation-states have grown mightily and their governments hold power over tens of millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, of people. But these huge powers cannot claim to have a natural size.

54 regions, total population 318.9m. So that averages 5.9 million per, right smack in the middle. A more complete analysis with a histogram would be interesting.

xyzzy4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why don't they give the map in high resolution? Really irritating.
dbg31415 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Rapid City gets a region but not Austin? Uh?
easychewie 1 day ago 0 replies      
See previous work by Munroe: https://www.xkcd.com/1138/
beedogs 1 day ago 0 replies      
The big takeaway here for me is that a lot of people travel far too great a distance to get to what's most likely a terrible job.
benibela 1 day ago 1 reply      
So this is where people live? https://xkcd.com/1138/

Nothing going on Montana?

Rust: 128 bit integers preparing to be released github.com
274 points by geoffreyiy1  2 days ago   160 comments top 10
amelius 1 day ago 3 replies      
Perhaps a stupid question, but can't this be generalized to arbitrary size integers?
andars 1 day ago 1 reply      
In case anyone else is interested in reading it, the relevant RFC is here: https://github.com/rust-lang/rfcs/blob/master/text/1504-int1...
aroman 1 day ago 14 replies      
What sorts of applications/domains need or benefit from having 128 bit integers?
searealist 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why was this feature accepted whereas 128 bit floats were removed from Rust?
bluejekyll 1 day ago 3 replies      
Sweet! IPv6 perfection. besides GPUs, does anyone have experience with any processors that support 128 natively?
steveklabnik 1 day ago 1 reply      
This title implies some things that aren't quite right. Let's take a step back.

The current release of stable Rust is 1.13, beta is 1.14, nightly is 1.15.

New features land on master, hence 1.15. So this means that, if it does land, it will become available on nightly soon. But it's still behind a feature flag. So it won't actually come out in Rust 1.15.

I am not on the relevant subteam here, so I am not 100% sure of the procedure, but usually, stuff has to sit in nightly for a full release cycle to be eligible for stabilization. So if this lands tonight, it'll be in nightly 1.15, 1.16 will be its full cycle, and it'll be elligible for release in 1.17, which would be March 16, 2017.

foota 1 day ago 3 replies      
A fun rule of thumb is that 1 decimal digit is roughly 3 binary digits (because 2^3 is eight, which is almost ten.)
qwertyuiop924 1 day ago 0 replies      
...And once we get Emotion Engine support, Rust will at long last be usable for PS2 hacking.
partycoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you like this subject take a look at gmplib (gnu multiple precision big number library)
cyphreak 1 day ago 4 replies      
How I Wrote the Screenplay for Arrival and What I Learned Doing It thetalkhouse.com
343 points by espeed  1 day ago   116 comments top 12
mdorazio 1 day ago 5 replies      
This is a really great analysis of how hard it is to write a really good screenplay. As an occasional screenwriter myself, it's always frustrating when producers and directors repeatedly want to dumb down a script or "make it more exciting" to keep ADD audiences engaged. It's understandable, of course - traditional genre movies for the masses make more money, and entertainment is a business. But the fact that Eric Heisserer was able to keep everything in his screenplay at the intellectual and emotional level that he did really says something about the passion he had for the source material.

Also, the note about the limitations of screenwriting software is spot on. The fact that Final Draft costs $250 and can't even support image embedding is ridiculous.

gwern 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised he didn't discuss his decision to turn it into a time-travel story. That's a major alteration to the plot and meaning of the story, and I'm curious when, why, and how that was made. Did he make it right from the start when he realized that he'd never be able to explain the stuff about the least-time principle and Sapir-Whorf and whatnot, or did he try and fail, or did someone else make him or what?
idlewords 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's remarkable how much better this movie was than the story it's based on [http://robertomunizdias.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Ted-C...]. In particular, the story has the main characters encounter their alien interlocutors almost without anxiety, or fear.

The first half of the movie, on the other hand, conveys the feeling of dread wonderfully.

iandanforth 1 day ago 4 replies      
Did I black out or did the circle signature not make it into the movie? I remember the line about dreams and not being fit, but I don't remember seeing that image.
musesum 1 day ago 1 reply      
A side benefit of the movie was that it prompted me to read Ted Chiang's story again. The first time, I had skipped past the bit about Variational Calculus. Now, I'm intrigued by Fermat's Calculus of Variations. http://www.askamathematician.com/2011/08/q-why-does-light-ch...

I wonder: given that a Photon travels at the speed of light, then everything happens instantaneously, from its point of view. So, is choosing the path that takes the shortest time like a standing wave?

joggery 1 day ago 1 reply      
I like because it gives due credit to Chiang. Painfully modest though he may be, this enterprise sprang out of his imagination.
yodon 1 day ago 3 replies      
I may get pounded for this, but I believe the implied request for image embedding in screenwriting software in this article is an example of a reasonable customer request that should not be implemented (or at least should not be implemented in the way the customer thinks they want).

Screenwriting software is ridiculously constrained. Margin sizes, line sizes, font sizes, font weights, everything, is ridiculously locked down. In the physical world, there were (are?) equally ridiculous constraints on things as minor as the binding of the scripts (which is to be done with brass "brads" [0]). It's absurd and absolutely intentional because it's what the real, ultimate customers of the screenwriting software want.

The real customers of the screenwriting software are the people who read and ultimately buy the scripts, and they want all these constraints in place. 99.99% of all screenplays never get bought, and 99.9999% of purchased screenplays never make it into theaters as a film [1]. In that sort of environment, the top goal of every screenplay buyer is to avoid wasting their time on screenplays that aren't worth reading.

If you send your genius script to people in Hollywood set in Helvetica or Gil Sans or whatever other font you favor, it will not get read. Period. That's an absolute deal killer for potential buyers. The reasons are a mix of process (constraining margins, font size, line spacing, font keening, etc. makes documents instantly comparable - look at the page count and you know the running time) and sociology (filmmaking is an incredibly complex and expensive multi-player art form with each project involving hundreds of people working together to build a product for millions or hundreds of millions of consumers, and the person considering buying your script wants to know do you understand how that works well enough for your idea to have a chance of surviving).

It's kind of like the way I put a footnote reference in my first paragraph starting with [0] instead of [1] or * the way the rest of the world would have if they wanted to put a footnote in plain text like this, it's an early visual cue that I might be a writer who gets how HN works. Ditto for the [1] footnote around the obviously made up, quantitatively inaccurate but qualitatively accurate stats on screenplays (the WGA does occasionally publish stats on the number of people who earn a "full time salary" writing screenplays and the numbers are amazingly depressingly small).

It doesn't matter how great your idea is, or how unique your personal creative vision is. If you put pictures in your screenplay, you are putting a giant HTML <blink> tag in your script that screams to every serious reader "My screenplay isn't worth your time to read, because I don't know what I'm doing." It's all well and good to be a special snowflake in your own mind, but if you want to be taken seriously in an incredibly sophisticated multi billion dollar industry where >99% of screenwriters never produce a script that gets produced, you distinguish yourself not by showing you know how to use blink tags but by showing you know how to grab people's hearts without them.

If you are a writer and you must have visuals, keep it to a single page, called a one sheet, with a single powerful evocative image on it to help the people you pitch to remember the concept for your story (and then try not to use or show it). Directors are buying your script, not your visuals.

When you're ready to produce and/or direct your own screenplay, then you can assemble your own visuals, but you still want to keep them out of the screenplay. Put them first in a mood board that conveys the feel of the story without the constraints of the script. Then put them in storyboards that convey the visual telling of the story at a high level (initially) to facilitate a deeper conversation with all the parties involved in the effort. Then produce a story reel, communicating the feel and pacing of the story. Or ditch them all and just make the film. The choice is yours if you are a producer/director but it's theirs if you are a writer. This is a big, complex, sophisticated industry you're working in. It's not always going to be optimized for you or your needs because it's optimized for the total needs of the set of all players in the industry.

All of which means please don't put images or blink tags in your screenplays and please don't put image embedding tools in your screenwriting software unless you want the people using your software to fail at their ultimate goal of having their screenplays made into actual films.

[0] https://www.writersstore.com/screenplay-fasteners/

[1] we'll come back to this in a moment

wyager 1 day ago 1 reply      
I was a little disappointed that they left variational physics out of the movie (which meant that the physicist character was basically useless in the movie). I understand that that's a lot harder to make accessible than basic linguistics, but (spoilers) when they discovered that the aliens only knew time-independent variational physics, that was one of the biggest "whoa dude" moments in the book.
notadoc 1 day ago 2 replies      
I enjoyed Story Of Your Life, will have to watch Arrival when it makes it onto a streaming service.
enjoyitasus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great article on perverance and prototying, getting feedback and knowing how to challenge conventional processes.
powertower 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stephen Wolfram worked on the language design (logograms) and wrote a lengthy post about it and making everything scientifically plausible -http://blog.stephenwolfram.com/2016/11/quick-how-might-the-a...
ilhank 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was not a good movie or story, so I don't care.
Jq Work with JSON on the command line 200ok.ch
341 points by preek  3 days ago   80 comments top 31
haswell 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's always surprising when I learn that this isn't more widely known - it's such a core part of my daily workflow!

The links to the project aren't immediately obvious, so here they are:


jedisct1 3 days ago 3 replies      
An alternative that completely replaced jq for me: rq https://github.com/dflemstr/rq

Not limited to JSON, and super fast.

asamarin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I _love_ jq. It's been an incredibly useful tool for me since I discovered it ~6 months ago. However, article mentions "jq -n"; I personally find jq syntax less appealing when it comes to generating JSON instead of parsing it. For that particular task, I prefer using "jo":


jq & jo are the Calvin & Hobbes of the shell: lots of fun together!

A few examples:

- Generate a simple JSON object:

 $ jo foo=12 bar=true baz=null {"foo":12,"bar":true,"baz":"null"}
- Want a nested object?

 $ jo foo=12 bar=true baz=null thing=$(jo number=57 test=string) {"foo":12,"bar":true,"baz":"null","thing":{"number":57,"test":"string"}}
- What about arrays?

 $ jo thing=$(jo number=57 test=string) anarray=$(jo -a 1 2 3 4 5) {"thing":{"number":57,"test":"string"},"anarray":[1,2,3,4,5]}
- Now let's add some jq magic to sum all the values in the array together:

 $ jo thing=$(jo number=57 test=string) anarray=$(jo -a 1 2 3 4 5) | jq '.anarray | add' 15
Great stuff :)

13of40 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm sure someone's going to throw a shoe at me for this, but...this sort of thing is why you want an object-oriented shell.

PS C:\> $x = ConvertFrom-Json -InputObject '[{"banana" : {"stem" : "brown", "peel" : "yellow", "flesh" : "white"}}]'

PS C:\> $x.banana.peel


iopuy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hey guys, I work with JSON on a daily basis on machines that don't have access to jq. My advice to you in similar situations is as follows:

To pretty print JSON:

 cat myjson.json | python -m json.tool > prettyPrinted.json
To validate json:

 cat myjson.json | python -m json.tool echo $?
If the result is 0 it is well formed and 1 otherwise. You can also pretty print JSON by opening the scratchpad in firefox and clicking the "Pretty print" button.

nikolay 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you use AWS CLI [0], you can embed JMESPath [1] queries via the --query switch, i.e. you don't ned jq. I was a loyal supporter of it, but switched to JMESPath [1], and I love its query languages more.

[0]: https://aws.amazon.com/cli/

[1]: http://jmespath.org/

dasil003 3 days ago 1 reply      
jq is awesome, but what stands out to me in the article is the use of curl. You can shrink those ~200 bytes of curl by 2/3rds using HTTPie(https://httpie.org/):

 http put your.api.endpoint email=your@email.address password=swaggerrocks
HTTPie and jq go together like peanut butter and chocolate, except without the caloric bloat.

dekhn 3 days ago 1 reply      
i want to love this tool but it's almost impossible to do anything complicated. the docs have a lot of examples but they sort of stop sort
edmundhuber 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hi, I wrote a similar tool: https://github.com/edmund-huber/jsonq
a3n 3 days ago 3 replies      
Looking at the jq github repo led me to also find ag, an ack-grep replacement. Both are in my distro's repositories.



"The command name is 33% shorter than ack!"

vemv 3 days ago 1 reply      
My jq killer:

 function ruby_json { ruby -e "require 'json'; require 'active_support/all'; puts JSON.parse(STDIN.read)$1" }
Performs/prints arbitrary ruby over a readily available representation of the JSON object coming from stdin.


 curl the_endpoint | ruby_json "['funnels'].map{|a| puts a.to_i * 2 }"

kbenson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Related HN discussion, but more encompassing of things you might need to do on the command line with data: Command-line tools for data science (2013) [1]

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6412190

smetj 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Wishbone event stream processing framework(http://wishbone.readthedocs.io) has the wishbone.flow.jq module(https://github.com/smetj/wishbone-flow-jq) to do pattern matching on JSONstreams. The articlehttp://smetj.net/processing_webhooks_using_wishbone_part_2.h... shows how it'sused.
ericHosick 3 days ago 0 replies      
Friend wrote a feedforward neural network using jq.


zyang 3 days ago 0 replies      
Recently discovered jq and it has been indispensable part of my toolbox. A lot of json tasks I used to write scripts for, such as filtering and multi file concat, are now possible for a short command.
s_m 3 days ago 0 replies      
A few months ago I wrote a blog post about how to use jq in conjuction with pup to debug HTML-in-JSON endpoints: https://the1x.engineer/2016/08/20/efficient-endpoint-testing...

jq is one of my favourite tools - can't recommend it enough.

koolba 3 days ago 1 reply      
jq is awesome. While it can do a lot of really cool processing to filter out nested details, the majority of my usage of it is:

Which simply pretty prints the JSON input with two spaces per indentation. Also, $PROGRAM_THAT_OUTPUTS_JSON is usually a script that simply outputs the clipboard (alias for "xclip -o").

preek 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually awesome for demos in lectures! Great to have better tooling for such a regular task on the command line.
zimbatm 2 days ago 0 replies      
For shell scripting, jshon is also very useful ( http://kmkeen.com/jshon ).
purple-dragon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Conceptually similar is Mike Bostock's wonderful ndjson-cli[0]

[0]: https://github.com/mbostock/ndjson-cli

abraae 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish jq was available from Java. We built a microservice recently that was just an aggregator of a bunch of other api calls. Jq would have been perfect.
DrAwesome 3 days ago 0 replies      
I actually just discovered this tool a few days ago when I wanted to do something with the Gitlab API from a bash script. It's really cool!
bootload 3 days ago 0 replies      
Q? How does Jq handle crap (malformed) JSON? ... quickly scanned the docs, tutorial and readme. I see no FAQ.
taormina 3 days ago 0 replies      
For all of you on Macs, it's as easy as `brew install jq`. One of the first things I grab on a new box.
foota 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like you could totally write a graphql command line utility to filter through json output.
spinningarrow 2 days ago 0 replies      
jq is really nice and I always install it as part of my tool chain. However I don't use it very frequently because of which I can never remember the syntax which imho is not very intuitive :(
Zombieball 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone here used jsawk that could compare and contrast to jq?
chewmieser 3 days ago 1 reply      
This basically becomes a necessity when working with the AWS cli. Great tool!
agumonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
jq embeds fp bits, you can define functions too, crazy.
telmich 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice!
Best Wifi Mesh Network Kits thewirecutter.com
284 points by caseyf7  1 day ago   140 comments top 18
vxxzy 1 day ago 13 replies      
I'd recommend Ubiquiti's UniFi. I installed three total units (one as base, two satellites). The setup spans 15,000sqft across two stories and split building (connected by breezeway). We get full speed on every corner and crevice. It has a great management interface. The cost was only 199. Well worth it.
nodesocket 1 day ago 6 replies      
No mention or review of Google WiFi [1]? Anybody try it?


LeoPanthera 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised there's no system that features integrated Homeplug[1], so base stations pass data to each other over your power lines. This seems like an obvious solution.

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

myrandomcomment 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I have the UniFi system. 3 story house. One AP each level centered. One AP in the external office (building attached to external garage). I use one UniFi PoE switch in the house and one in the office (2xCat6A between them). FreeNAS mini attached via 2x1G (4x4TB disc, 2x128G SSD as L2ARC & ZIL). UniFi CloudKey and UniFi Security Gateway. I am an engineer ;)

For my less technical friends I highly recommend them Eero system.

exhilaration 1 day ago 6 replies      
Is there a DIY solution that can do this? With all features in DD-WRT or OpenWRT, I would have thought the community would have already solved this problem for cheap.
JustSomeNobody 13 hours ago 1 reply      
> Every other kit we tested relies on a smartphone app and cloud services for configuration, which means if your Internet goes down, your home networkpartially or even entirelygoes down with it.

I am getting so tired of this. Why are engineers working for companies that build stuff like this? This is consumer hostile.

bugmen0t 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Most wifi hardware supports being both AP and client at the same time. This way, I've extended my wifi signal for just 20 bucks(Bought a netgear ex2700 and flashed openwrt. I made it join my existing wifi and create an AP with a distinct SSID on the same interface and channel)
hashin 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Have anyone tried building a Mesh using ESP8266 and custom hardware for signal enhancement?

I am working on a similar project and is interested to know if anyone have had success with hardware addons like external antenna to build a reliable solution?

The chip capabilities are enough to run any low level to moderate load applications like monitoring, actuating and streaming. It is the hardware that I am doubtful about.

Yizahi 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I had tried once building something like this mesh - a router with several wifi range extenders sold separately. In my case it was a setup in the apartment with lots of metal in concrete panels, so wireless reception is awful (50-100% signal loss after a single wall). Well it didn't work at all - REs started and worked ok and I did see high WiFi signal, but throughput was horrible - very low speed and regular pauses when no traffic at all was passing through REs. Settings, RE positioning, channels or bands didn't matter.

In the end I just used wired network with access points, more expensive but at least it works. I suggest that all these mesh kits should be bought only when return option is available because they may not work in some cases.

ausjke 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Built a wisp-mesh product a few years ago for a client, in the past mesh-wifi was really just for enterprise and city-wide projects, and never got widely deployed anywhere. Surprisingly it is getting into homes these days, assuming the covering area is large.

For me I'm using AP + a few extenders these days and they worked just fine and are much cheaper.

pricechild 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> Its the only mesh kit we tested that is fully configurable and usable without an Internet connection, and its also the only one that provides the full, deep feature set that technical users expect from a high-end router, including plenty of Ethernet ports on both units.

I'm amazed... "and usable" implies some of these kits will go down if you lose your internet connection. Not just that they won't be configurable?

Domenic_S 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm connected to a non-HD Amplifi right now over 802.11ac. Dunno what they're smoking over there.

Says so right on the product page: https://store.amplifi.com/amplifi/amplifi-119.html

sunjain 23 hours ago 0 replies      
In terms of ease of setup, I don't think any of these can beat Eero. And in spite of Netgear marketing dollars behind, Orbi, I hope EERO maintains the lead in this space, as they were the first one to push for mesh networking in consumer Wifi space.
WhitneyLand 1 day ago 3 replies      
Wireless routers can't really do gigabit speeds? That doesn't sound right.

Also he says a separate high bandwidth signal coordinates the units, would that limit range? Why not a lower bandwidth signal?

asdf333 22 hours ago 0 replies      
do these things handle moving from one zone to another while something like facetime is running? this has always been an issue i haven't been able to solve.
known 23 hours ago 1 reply      
electic 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about http://plumewifi.com. Anyone have this?
woogiewonka 1 day ago 6 replies      
Does Wirecutter ever feature a non affiliate product? If not, they are not to be trusted.
Why does calloc exist? vorpus.org
315 points by wyldfire  7 hours ago   72 comments top 20
_RPM 4 hours ago 1 reply      

 buf = calloc(huge, huge); if (errno) perror("calloc failed"); printf("calloc(huge, huge) returned: %p\n", buf); free(buf);
This has a flaw. errno doesn't magically get reset to zero. You should check the return value of calloc, then use errno. Checking if(errno) is not the right way to determine if there was an error.

bluefox 6 hours ago 3 replies      
That's a nice alternative history fiction.

Here's an early implementation: https://github.com/dspinellis/unix-history-repo/blob/Researc...

wyldfire 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> So basically, calloc exists because it lets the memory allocator and kernel engage in a sneaky conspiracy to make your code faster and use less memory. You should let it! Don't use malloc+memset!

On the flip side, if your critical metric is latency then these tricks of calloc's and the OS's are exactly what you try to avoid. memset() the buffer, and if you have the privileges you should mlock() it to prevent it from being paged out. Of course, this all presumes that it's not an ephemeral buffer to begin with. Best to change your design to leverage a long-lived resource if possible.

Animats 6 hours ago 2 replies      
The real reason "calloc" exists was that it was really easy to hit 16-bit overflow back in the PDP-11 days.
nicolast 2 hours ago 0 replies      
And then there's of course when calloc returns non-zeroed memory once in a while, which causes... 'interesting' bugs.


ben_bai 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> Plus, if we wanted to, we could certainly write our own wrapper for malloc that took two arguments and multiplied them together with overflow checking. And in fact if we want an overflow-safe version of realloc, or if we don't want the memory to be zero-initialized, then... we still have to do that.

Like reallocarray(3) does?

 buf = malloc(x * y); // becomes buf = reallocarray(NULL, x, y); newbuf = realloc(buf, (x * y)); // becomes newbuf = reallocarray(buf, x, y);

IgorPartola 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I don't get it. The two behaviors are completely orthogonal. Why can't I have a malloc() that does lazy copy-on-write for large arrays and why can't I have an error checking malloc() and why can't I have a calloc() that allocates the memory up front and doesn't zero it out? I get the "it's historic" argument, but this seems like a silly distinction. Sounds like what you want to do practically is basically just make your malloc() wrap a calloc() with size 1, and stop explicitly memset()ing. Or just introduce your own functions:

 moarmem(n) // malloc(n) moarmemslower(n) // p = malloc(n); memset(p, 0); moarmemfaster(n) // calloc(n, 1) evenmoarmem(p, n); // realloc() fuggetaboutit(p) // free()

AceJohnny2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> And at least we aren't trashing the cache hierarchy up front if we delay the zero'ing until we were going to write to the pages anyway, then that means both writes happen at the same time, so we only have to pay one set of TLB / L2 cache / etc. misses.

Ooh, nice one. My first impression was that calloc was just lazy-allocating, which is fine in most cases but when you want precise control over timing, maybe you want to be sure that memory is zero'd at allocating time rather than pay the cost unexpectedly at use time.

But the cache-awareness makes that a moot point. You'd be paying double cache-eviction costs if you were clearing that memory up front: once at clearing time, and once at actual-writing time. This implementation of calloc avoids that.

Manishearth 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always been surprised that memset is usually just a nonmagical for loop. I used to expect that the OS does things to magically make it faster (running lazily, etc).
Const-me 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Lets see what happens after the allocation.

With malloc + memset, the OS will likely allocate that memory in huge pages, on PC that would be 2-4MB / page depending on the architecture, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_(computer_memory)#Huge_pa...

If I calloc then write, the OS cant give me huge pages because of that copy on write thing. Instead, the OS will gradually give me the memory in tiny 4kb pages. For large buffers you should expect TLB cache misses, therefore slowing down all operations with that memory.

duaneb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great example of why _alloc is an abstraction over virtual memory.

What this doesn't express is that dealing with page allocation directly can be quite annoying to get correct cross platform. You generally don't want to do that unless a) you're optimizing past the "knuth level" and know you need to for performance (e.g. mapping files to memory), b) you're writing something where you run dynamic code (JIT or dynamic recompilation) or c) you're writing your own allocator and/or using page faults to get some functionality, ala Go's stop-the-world hack.

Basically, don't bypass _alloc unless you have a reason.

jblow 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Sorry, but this is just goofy and bad.

If you depend on copy-on-write functionality, then you need to use an API that is specced to guarantee copy-on-write functionality. If that means you use an #ifdef per platform and do OS-specific stuff, then that is what you do.

Anything else is amateur hour.

If copy-on-write is a desirable feature, then as the API creator, your job is to expose this functionality in the clearest and simplest way possible, not to hack it in obscurely via the implementation details of some random routine. (And then surprise people who didn't expect copy-on-write with the associated performance penalties.)

This is why we can't have nice things.

jedisct1 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Good operating systems also provide `reallocarray()`.
MaulingMonkey 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's harder to forget to multiply by sizeof(T) when calloc-ing as well.
dimman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
There are some unfortunate statements in there (if taken out of context) that requires you to read the whole thing for it to make sense. Like "...but most of the array is still zeros, so it isn't actually taking up any memory..." which is a bit ambigious if not read in the complete context, then it makes sense.
notacoward 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I always thought it was because of padding. An array of M structures each N bytes long could require more than M*N bytes (certainly has on some architectures I've worked with). But I guess that's not it after all.
rcthompson 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I you calloc some memory and then the first thing you do is write to it, can the compiler optimize away the initial write of zeros since they will just be overwritten?
edblarney 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do so many people disagree on something that should be nearly empirical?
wfunction 4 hours ago 0 replies      
No, the 2 GB array should still take a quota of 2 GB. It just wouldn't take 2 GB's worth of time to initialize. The overcommit "feature" in Linux is a bug that crashes C programs in places that violate the language's guarantees (such as when a write occurs to a location in memory that was allocated correctly).
smegel 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> But calloc lives inside the memory allocator, so it knows whether the memory it's returning is fresh from the operating system, and if it is then it skips calling memset. And this is why calloc has to be built into the standard library, and you can't fake it yourself.


Practical Common Lisp (2005) gigamonkeys.com
292 points by tosh  2 days ago   155 comments top 22
lukego 2 days ago 2 replies      
The Lisp world is really lucky that Peter came along and wrote this book. It was amazing to watch him tease out, soak up, and internalize Lisp culture from all the available sources and then write such a canonical book to share it all with the rest of us.

I wish that he would write some more books :).

aidenn0 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone is using windows and wants to go through PCL, I believe the lisp box linked to is way out of date. I've generated a portable zips that are more up to date:



nabla9 2 days ago 4 replies      
Practical Common Lisp is intro + recipes.

I think Paul Grahams ANSI Common Lisp is the best if you are learning Common Lisp and Lisp. The language reference in the end is the extremely handy compact reference for CL. http://www.paulgraham.com/acl.html

Common Lisp Recipes is better as a pure recipe book. http://weitz.de/cl-recipes/

Shorel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sorry but I never liked PCL that much.

It certainly shows some impressive Lisp techniques, and surely it will impress anyone who reads it about Lisp capabilities. The PCL made me feel awe about what Lisp can do. But not about what I could do with Lisp myself.

PCL doesn't really help the reader to really understand how all that code works to the point where the reader could write it without the writer's help.

I found this book: Lisp, An Interactive Approach https://www.cse.buffalo.edu/~shapiro/Commonlisp/a better pedagogical tool to learn Lisp, and it guides the reader all the way, tests him, and makes him write all the needed code before going to the next chapter. It's not a showcase like the PCL book, but it imparts the reader with the ability to write a similar showcase himself.

The 'An Interactive Approach' book made me grok the power of Lisp in a way no other book could. It made me feel powerful and confident about what I could do with Lisp.

_ph_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Over 10 years old, but still the best modern Common Lisp book. It helps, that it has been written by someone who had a lot of experience with other languages (Java), so less captured in a Lisp ivory tower, showing a truly practical approach.

Highly recommended!

Koshkin 2 days ago 1 reply      
A wonderful book, well worth studying. If only in order to gain a wider perspective on programming languages, and perhaps forget, at least for a while, about the language wars and the ongoing "C bashing."

It may be not obvious to those who may only have had a limited experience with it, Common Lisp, in itself, is an extremely expressive and powerful programming language. Also, there are compilers, such as SBCL, that generate a very efficient machine code; others, such as ECL ("embeddable Common Lisp"), make it very easy to combine lisp code with code written in C, thereby providing the ability to seamlessly integrate high-level and easy-to-use constructs with low-level, performance-critical pieces of code.

wtbob 1 day ago 0 replies      
Practical Common Lisp, along with pg's essays on Lisp, can be credited with inspiring the Lisp renaissance of the mid-2000s. It's an incredibly good book, showing Lisp (unlike Scheme) is a practical programming language, with the ability to go from low-level bit-twiddling all the way up to very high levels of abstraction.

Reading it was eye-opening. I had no idea up until that point that Lisp is a real, industrial-grade language (as opposed to a very interesting didactic tool).

Even if you don't have an intention of programming in Lisp, you should read PCL for an idea of how much better the language you're programming in could be. Hopefully, it'll inspire you to write some Lisp, but even if it doesn't you'll be a better programmer for it. You'll be able to understand why static languages like Java have such arcane ecosystems; you'll be able to see how very little new there is under the sun.

znpy 2 days ago 5 replies      
The biggest problem in spreading lisp nowadays is the fragmentation of the documentation.

"Lisp" means so little when you're writing real code.

Each implementation has its own quirks and even venerable books fall when confronted with real world code at learning.

For example: I was reading the SICP and using racket that looks like an interesting runtime nowadays. Turns out that a while a go the dev team made cons immutable and that's okay I guess but it broke (at least for me) the experience of reading SICP because I now have to pause and learn this quirk of this specific lisp implementation.

And don't even get me started on common lisp. There are at least 5 or 6 major common lisp runtimes, each of them incompatible somehow (try and read some of the StumpWM "makefiles" and you'll have a taste of what I'm talking about).

Also, common things (threads, for example) are still not provided in a uniform way across all of the implementations, and are often more or less quick hacks.

Scheme? Cool! Srfi! What part of scheme does your scheme actually implements?Would you use a C compiler without structures? And write code so that it can be compiled with another C compiler that has structures but doesn't have foot loops (only while loops are provided).

Lisps are awesome languages, but for me, no wonder they remain niche languages.

And before you downvote, please keep in mind that I am now booing Lisp, I would just love it to be more "sane" minded and less schizophrenic as a language/runtime, and more real-world-usable.

lisper 2 days ago 2 replies      
I started working on this a while back:


Currently very low on my priority list but it would not take a lot of encouragement for me to pick it back up again.

fovc 2 days ago 10 replies      
I've been working in JS full time for a couple of months now, except for a short break to build a JSX parser for Emacs. Switching to lisp was such a breath of fresh air. The code was denser, and every line took longer to write, so not sure about overall productivity, but man was it more enjoyable to write!

I wish there were an update to this book. I seriously looked into giving up on JS and using Parenscript and Wookie or Hunchentoont but it seemed like I'd be taking on a lot of yak hair. Does anyone here use any lisp for Web Development? What's the modern lisp (CL or otherwise) stack?

qwertyuiop924 2 days ago 0 replies      
PCL is still one of the best books for learning Lisp. Although I actually got my start with Conrad Barski's The Land of Lisp, which is also excellent.
chris_wot 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it just me, or is there a typo in the following?

 CL-USER> (remove-if-not #'(lambda (cd) (equal (getf cd :artist) "Dixie Chicks")) *db*) ((:TITLE "Home" :ARTIST "Dixie Chicks" :RATING 9 :RIPPED T) (:TITLE "Fly" :ARTIST "Dixie Chicks" :RATING 8 :RIPPED T))
It seems to be missing a single quote... shouldn't it be:

 CL-USER> (remove-if-not #'(lambda (cd) (equal (getf cd :artist) "Dixie Chicks"))' *db*) ((:TITLE "Home" :ARTIST "Dixie Chicks" :RATING 9 :RIPPED T) (:TITLE "Fly" :ARTIST "Dixie Chicks" :RATING 8 :RIPPED T))
If this is a typo, it merely shows how incredibly well written this is, because I have literally never read lisp code in any seriousness in my life!

spdegabrielle 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A great(fun!) book.

I wonder if it can take any credit for the resurgence of lisps! (especially Clojure)

It certainly was an influence on the student writen 'Realm of Racket'.

sealedmail 19 hours ago 0 replies      
If I may suggest, please add 'next' and 'previous' links within the chapters of the online book. It's a little annoying to have to navigate back and then click on the next chapter to read on.
gaurav-gupta 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an awesome book. I read it online back in 2006 (one of the few books I followed from start to end). Even though I mostly programmed in other languages, the approach and techniques in this book enormously improved me as a programmer.

Thank you for writing this book and sharing it with the world!

int_19h 2 days ago 2 replies      
What is the current state of affairs with regard to Common Lisp on Windows?

I remember that when I was last trying to explore it, that was the single biggest hurdle - all the recommended freely available "industrial strength" implementations (SBCL, CMUCL) were either unavailable on Windows outright, or considered experimental and highly unstable there. The stuff that was available was either proprietary (and costly), or its performance was not deemed sufficient for production use (e.g. CLisp).

But that was several years ago. Did anything change?

z0ltan 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a good book in parts, but very dry and almost reference-like in others. All in all, pretty decent.

I much preferred Land of Lisp by Barsky for the basics and Edi Wietz' Common Lisp recipes for specific use cases.

saurabhjha 1 day ago 2 replies      
This book looks good from a cursory glance. Can anyone please tell me if I should read this one or Paul Graham's ANSI common lisp. I have some background in scheme due to SICP.


splesjaz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Recently bought ; Land of Lisp and it should arrive next week.Heard it's a pretty good book to do some fun with Common Liso
Qwertystop 2 days ago 3 replies      
Tried to use this to learn Lisp (previous experience: one semester of Racket). Couldn't really motivate to keep going. Might just be me, though.
wyclif 2 days ago 2 replies      
What's the current best CL implementation on macOS/OS X? Is it still SBCL or something else?
Annatar 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there any material exploring the possibility of using LISP as a systems programming language?
Amazon States Language A JSON-based language to describe state machines states-language.net
287 points by another  3 days ago   96 comments top 23
termie 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The Step Functions free tier includes 4,000 free state transitions per month." .. "$0.025 per 1,000 state transitions thereafter"

So Amazon has created a new calling convention, where conditional logic now also requires a context switch and JSON serialization. Then they charge you for the call .. $tdcall?

This will certainly have some useful applications, maybe someone will build an inexpensive data processing pipeline on top of it. Having seen many visual workflow tools through the years, most are simplifying complex underlying process, but these step functions and state transitions are modeling basic internal control flow with complex abstractions and little benefit other than retries with backoff.

The pure functional immutable nature of the data flow is ideally nice but tainted by the JSON. The parallelism is interesting, but it seems bolted on instead of a more powerful central part of the design.

DigitalJack 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why do something like this in JSON? I don't work in javascript, but surely it would have been far simpler to use. Restrict it to a subset if you have to, but this is absurd:

 "ChoiceStateX": { "Type" : "Choice", "Choices": [ { "Not": { "Variable": "$.type", "StringEquals": "Private" }, "Next": "Public" }, { "And": [ { "Variable": "$.value", "NumericGreaterThanEquals": 20 }, { "Variable": "$.value", "NumericLessThan": 30 } ], "Next": "ValueInTwenties" } ], "Default": "DefaultState" }

ChrisRus 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have been working on a moon-shot project for more than a decade that seeks to model distributed systems as if they were digital logic circuits. One of the natural areas of interest is of course FSM's - in particular declarative specifications of FSM's. I continue to believe (although it's a wildly unpopular notion among some of my machine learning friends) that this obsession with the mechanics of declaring design intent with models and then synthesizing runtime code will fundamentally transform software engineering over time. But, declarative FSM's aren't enough to make it practical IMHO.

I wrote a short essay about this work in which I argue that the software engineering community needs to embrace the design methodologies and rigour of hardware designers: https://medium.com/@alpinelakes/on-monday-i-learned-i-got-ac...

See also: http://blog.encapsule.org/early-encapsule-project-history/20... (old code but same ideas as what I'm building now in Node.js/HTML5 @Encapsule).

Several things I believe are actually essential to make use of any of these ideas at scale:

- There needs to be an ad-hoc extensible standard for notating serialized data with markers, tags, semantics, metadata (whatever you care to call it). It is not practical to do unsupervised feature extraction on internal message streams. And, it's _insanity_ to write/test/maintain custom validation/normalization logic.

- Given the above, FSM declarations must be encoded with labels (as above) so that generic code can easily affect interop.

- Small FSM's are reasonably easy to comprehend. But, very few systems can be modeled with simple FSM's. Rather, real systems can be modeled as complex directed graphs where edges represent the flow of observable state from one FSM to another (vertices represent individual FSM).

- Given that real systems can be modeled using non-trivial graph models of FSM (as above), building reusable components by splicing and dicing the graph up is logically possible. But, this is not something that mortals can do by hand. Considerable tooling is required to make it practical to design systems like this.

If you're interested in these topics, and want to help, look me up @Encapsule.

lacampbell 2 days ago 3 replies      
A new market to disrupt - undergraduate computer science projects as a service.

Wait until you guys check out my hashtable implementation in the cloud.

lobster_johnson 3 days ago 3 replies      
Interesting that they're using JSONPath, which isn't even specified formally anywhere. The only other major implementor that I know about is Kubernetes, which has some odd extensions for templating. (JSONPath itself, of course, isn't very well designed in the first place.)

We're working on a new variant of JSONPath that we're hoping to publish as a formal, comprehensive specification. It's essentially a superset of JSONPath with some syntax warts fixed (like the need to start with $). I wrote a little about it on HN a week ago [1].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13032391

Marazan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Remember when we used XML, and then people started making DSLs in XML and XML was the worst and too 'heavy' and having to write schemas was enterprise and awful and we are totes using lightweight schema free sexy JSON now?

I wonder what the new thing to replace enterprise JSON will be.

tonylucas 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is interesting, has a lot of similarities (not surprisingly) with how the state machine we build workflows on our bot platform, although of course ours is specifically fixed around chat/messages as a key interaction point.

Major differences that I can see are we enable multiple functions to be sent per state, and that the output data from any state is referenceable by any other state, not just passing it down in turn through the states.

We support fallback states but in a different way, and don't support the retry concept directly within the state language itself, has to be built as a set of states to perform a loop to attempt a retry.

We don't support parallel stages, but do support branches, and remerging of those branches.

Probably the final difference I can see, is one of our options when running a function allows you to actually append additional states to the machine during the runtime process.

Swizec 3 days ago 2 replies      
I did it better 5 years ago. https://swizec.com/blog/a-turing-machine-in-133-bytes-of-jav...

133 byte interpreter in JavaScript. Input is JSON specifying state name, write, move direction, and next state. Turing machines, basically.

Mine was for fun, but why is Amazon doing this?

timbray 2 days ago 0 replies      
Glad to hear that so many people already did this (only better), years ago. Nice to have company.

The only thing new or interesting about States is it has a product behind it that implements it at scale, available now; give it a try.

I think it's quite likely that this syntax is state-machine assembler, and smart people will find nicer expressions of this and compile them down.

In particular, some people prefer dependency graphs to explicit state machines for this sort of thing.

nighthawk454 3 days ago 0 replies      
trickyager 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon has also created a ruby gem to lint JSON state machines. https://github.com/awslabs/statelint
TeMPOraL 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wait, did they just made a Lisp in JSON?
hacker_9 3 days ago 6 replies      
"This document describes a JSON-based language used to describe state machines declaratively. The state machines thus defined may be executed by software. In this document, the software is referred to as the interpreter."

Oh no.

devj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wondering why they aren't using their own data format(Amazon Ion - https://amznlabs.github.io/ion-docs/spec.html) instead of JSON.
flaviuspopan 3 days ago 1 reply      
This strikes me as the underlying spec for the new Batch service mentioned at re:invent.
neurostimulant 2 days ago 0 replies      
This could be useful. Currently there is no easy way to add delay when invoking lambdas from an event. Perhaps this could be used to create a delayed execution triggers (e.g. Invoking a lambda 10 minutes after a dynamodb entries updated).
avodonosov 3 days ago 1 reply      
JSON? Somebody forbade s-expressions?
rhizome 3 days ago 1 reply      
swehner 2 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't look too pretty, ugly in parts. Something strange about it. The ARN business looks very suspicious.

Maybe this is supposed to be pre-alpha?

Consistent with the Tim Bray blog article saying the validator's "implementation is kind of gross."

But then again: stay out of trouble, avoid Amazon.

shoefly 2 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like any other brittle FSM. It's missing an important layer of logic. And yeah, I'm bias because I'm finishing up an FSM that crushes that brittleness.
elcct 2 days ago 0 replies      
Language? That's bold
bbcbasic 2 days ago 2 replies      
Bah! Why JSON not XML?
Show HN: Handicareers.com A simple job board for disabled people handicareers.com
302 points by therealcoffee  2 days ago   83 comments top 16
mwcampbell 2 days ago 7 replies      
As a person with a disability myself (legally blind), I have a couple of concerns with this idea.

First, the category of people with disabilities is quite broad. There are not only different categories of disability, but also a broad spectrum of severity for any given disability. Why would an employer post to a job board for people with disabilities in general, except out of a misguided sense of charity, or perhaps to meet some kind of quota?

And that brings me to the bigger concern: Why do people with disabilities need a special job board just for us anyway? Surely that is a failure to fully integrate us into mainstream society, which I think is ultimately the best thing for everyone.

By the way, though I hate the clunkiness of terminology like "people with disabilities", I think it's justified in this case. For me, the word "disabled", particularly in the context of employment, has the connotation of being unable to be productive. Some people's disabilities are severe enough that that's true of them, but that's not all of us, not by a long shot. Maybe I'm being over-sensitive about that, but I'm just telling you how I see it, for what it's worth.

escapologybb 2 days ago 3 replies      
Man, I'm quadriplegic and I had to set up my business as it was basically the only way I could get a job. People with severe disabilities don't tend to make the most reliable employees timekeeping wise because you just can't guarantee that you will be at a place at a given time, I cannot in any way guarantee that I will be fit for work at 9 AM on Monday morning, it's just the nature of the disability. And that's the same for most people with severe disabilities. That just won't fly with most employers. I'd be really interested where you've found a stock of sympathetic employers willing to deal with these issues, because I've not found many.

Also, why separate out disabled people from "normal" people, I'm genuinely curious? I mean I appreciate the effort of you trying to find us work, but don't you see how you are coming at it from the wrong angle. If you are going to separate out disabled people from the rest of the job market, how about a board where disabled people post their skills, the hours they can guarantee per week to work and the wage they are willing to work for just like other niche job markets? What separates out this job market from the others in the space?

Also, by disabled do you mean blind and deaf or do you mean anybody with any type of disability? The type of disability will have a huge impact on the type of job. You don't have any jobs listed so I can't get a handle on who exactly this is meant for you see.

I'm not trying to be a dick, I'm really not and I'm sure this effort comes from a good place but if you haven't got a group of employers willing to employ disabled people then you are really going to struggle. I wish you luck.

I have lots of questions, I may also have answers, hit me up if you want to chat.

gtirloni 2 days ago 2 replies      
For your niche, you should run your website through a few of these checkers and make sure it passes with flying colors:


ekarulf 2 days ago 1 reply      

I would suggest changing the branding to "a simple job board for people with disabilities." For many people the disability is a part of who they are - it's not how they self identify.

See some of the existing non-profits in this space like http://www.bestbuddies.org

DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the forms mentions London, thus some UK advice.

"handicareers" seems like a play on the handicapped word. You might need to know that word is strongly rejected by large numbers of the UK population. This is possibly going to attract strongly negative attention.

You might want to link employers and potential employees to advice about Access to Work, and to best current practice about reasonable adjustments, and to advice about the Equality Act.

kaa2102 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really LOVE this concept. I think it is much needed. I've seen studies of entire customer service departments staffed by disabled individuals who showed extreme patience and empathy with customers resulting in higher satisfaction.

One consideration to improve the user experience is to make sure that the website is Section 508 Compliant (www.section508.gov) so that it is easier to access for individuals with hearing and visual disabilities.

tensymbols 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like in Firefox page completely disappears when you turn all three right side toggles on and there's no way to roll back.
deutronium 2 days ago 1 reply      
This sounds like a cool idea, good luck!

Am I right in thinking there's no jobs on there at the moment though, I couldn't seem to see any.

Edit: Getting a DB error now, but could see the page before

t4nkd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Much needed. I will forward this to a few good friends.
mettamage 2 days ago 0 replies      
Curious question: how do you deal with people who post stuff that isn't relevant?
Goldenromeo 2 days ago 1 reply      
good job, but please try to fix ssh. I tried accessing the https version of your site but it didn't work. First chrome complained it was unsafe, and later your host returned a generic page for new sites.
jukkakoskinen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice idea. Can you tell a little about what got you started?
thefaketea 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think that it's a very interesting idea!
orionblastar 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am mentally ill and disabled because of it. When companies have a disabled plan it is for people in wheelchairs, the blibd, and the deaf but not the mentally ill.

I have good days and bad days with my mental illness and sometimes lose track of what I am doing if interrupted too much. I know I have to take interruptions from my work for help desk assistance and other things like team members.

My mental illness has some things in common with high functioning autism, and bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia and is so rare that half of 1% get it, schixoaffective disorder. Nobody seems to know how to accomodate it and nobody wants someone with it to be a 50K or 150K a year programmer with it.

If only that job board worked, i tried searching jobs and waited over an hour for it to stop the circle spinning.

homero 1 day ago 0 replies      
Love it
milankragujevic 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's offline... And powered by WordPress...

> Error establishing a database connection

Dear JavaScript medium.com
356 points by johnwards  10 hours ago   215 comments top 52
fusiongyro 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't want to distract from the main thrust of the article, which was that we should be decent to each other even with our criticism, but I think both his examples (Babel 6 and Angular 2) had something in common that lead to a lot more anxiety: they changed the essence of the software in a way that a major version bump is not enough to communicate.

I'm speaking especially of Angular 2 here. It's essentially a completely different framework. You don't expect going from Postgres 8 to Postgres 9 that the underlying query language is going to be switched out for a different one. Regularly communicating with your users, as Angular and Babel did, only reaches the engaged part of the community. A lot of workaday programmers are not that deeply engaged. You're just moving their cheese, and it makes them mad.

A better approach is to spin off a new system and give it a new name. This is what happened with Express and Koa, and it gives you a way to gauge whether people actually want the change you're making or not. I predict Angular 1 is going to be the Windows XP of front end development: lingering on for much longer than anyone expects. Slow and principled change is not a common thing in Javascript-land but it is what legions of software engineers expect. A lot of front-end development, like it or not, is being done by full-stack engineers or other engineers who are not front-end developers exclusively. Asking your echo chamber if they like your ideas is not really a sufficient sounding process, especially if you're making a deep cut.

nkw 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I was commenting to a colleague the other day how amazed I was at the sheer quantity of github "issues" that I was seeing posted to a few popular open source repositories that were rants about why feature X wasn't available yet or a priority yet, or demanding that someone walk them through some installation issue because the poster couldn't understand (or didn't read) the README. None of the people that posted this stuff appeared to have ever contributed to that project (or any project), but thought they were entitled to what were essentially support requests or re-tasking of developers to meet their demanded schedule.

Our discussion eventually thought it was due to two things: 1) Github, while making the open source process visible and easy to use for many, also makes the process pretty open and barrier free to people who may not yet have the technical (or social) ability to meaningfully contribute to a project; what once would have required posting to a dev mailing list is now just a couple of clicks; and 2) a cultural mindset that some people seem to have that free or open source software is some kind of entitlement (or at least due to communication issues, and the ambiguity of the written word on the Internet that is how I thought it came off). I think the sheer volume of freely available amazing software has caused some to forget the whole reason we have this stuff is someone somewhere spent a lot of time working on it and then decided to give it away.

I don't know if this is really a javascript thing, but I think it manifests itself there more than others simply because javascript might be the first place a lot of people start in their career/learning.

jasode 10 hours ago 4 replies      
> But when someone starts to insult me in mock my hard work, when they criticize me and my work in a way that is extremely negative, it gets to me.

That seems to be the essence of his entire essay. He wants people to be nicer. Yes, criticism is often necessary and often motivates progress, but the criticism should be nicer.

Well, that's an ideal but his lament isn't limited to Javascript specifically. Nasty complaining is part of the universal human condition. Instead of "Dear Javascript", it's more like "Dear All of Humanity" ... stop being so mean-spirited.

In the same vein, we could generalize BS's quote:

"There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses." -Bjarne Stroustrup

... to ...

"There are only two kinds of github projects: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses." -every maintainer

pavlov 10 hours ago 7 replies      
Ive always been advised to avoid these sub-communities like /r/javascript and Hacker News. Maintainers say they are filled with assholes who dont know what they are talking about, angry idiots shouting at everything and everyone, cesspools, giant piles of trash burning in the wind.

Is HN really that bad? I mean, it must be, if people maintaining popular open source projects think so... But why does it feel much more useful to me than a "pile of trash burning in the wind"?

I guess my experience as a commenter is so different because I've learned to tune out the negative stuff and it's not aimed at me.

forgottenpass 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It felt like every day I had a notification waiting to be opened about how badly we had fucked up.

It's interesting that the author phrases it this way, and dove tails nicely into a thought I've been having about interaction on the internet for a while. I don't say this specifically to the author, but generically, it's even something I'm working on being more aware of.

Social tools and other apps have turned notifications into a Pavlovian variable-interval reward loop. This makes negativity even harder to handle. But seeing the system laid bare makes it easier to make decisions about.

The notification loop sort of evolved that way with texts, but is also a purposeful tool of manipulation. We politely don't conceptualize it as "manipulation" because there is weight to that word, and we don't necessarily assume the app designer is acting in bad faith. But it's still manipulative.

Think of it like this: Who _needs_ to be able to interrupt you every waking moment of your life? Then why are you letting a single person more? Disable notifications, and just set a recurring calendar event to check email/twitter/whatever.

atemerev 9 hours ago 6 replies      
Dear James,

I understand that hearing rants about your brainchild that took so much hard work is hard and depressing. I was in your shoes, too. And being a head of popular open source project is very emotionally unrewarding, to say the least. And thank you for your hard work like nearly every front end developer out there, I used Babel, and it did it job, eventually.

However, I am one of those people who think that Babel6 is terrible, that it "broke the web", and it marked the beginning of the entire JavaScript fatigue era. Babel6 transition took three days of my life, filled it with misery and rage, lost me a customer, and led to my desire to never touch JavaScript again if I can help it. (I moved to ScalaJS eventually).

I ranted about it, too. Like nearly everyone else, I forgot that there are live people behind every project, with their dreams, hopes and justifications for every decision. I didn't want to attack you personally I just vented my (very real) rage against Babel6 itself, without thinking anything about its author. So, well, nice to meet you.

And I still stand by what I said. Despite your good intentions, it is still terrible, and unintuitive, and definitely not a "something for everyone", unless frustration is something. And I can't think of any way of fixing it, except of moving to another stack (which I did). If there were many people ranting about Babel6 like I did, (and I can imagine), I am truly sorry for the mental suffering you had to endure.

You are cool. You are significantly more competent developer than I am. I use your software, not the other way around. And it is free. But Babel6 is still terrible, and no input from your side can change my opinion. Or perhaps it could, if you provided some technical justification for what you did. But this article is the request to stop ranting about your work, as it hurts you.

For that, I am sorry.

dweinus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I think there is a lot of truth here. I can't help but feel that you just diagnosed a great deal of the internet, far beyond javascript or dev. We need better communities and better communication. I wish I knew how to make that actionable.
nxrabl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
What is going on in this thread?

"Just don't come here"

"Just turn off your notifications"

"But Angular 2/Babel 6/Literally all of Javascript really does suck"

"Developers can't take criticism"

"Open source communities are bubbles"

"Every community is like this"

"All people are like this"

"Sorry, but..."

Didn't our mommas teach us that when you apologize, you actually apologize? Even if you and I personally didn't do anything like this, this man here says there's a problem. Let's work on the problem.

When you use an open source project, you pay for it with your contributions to the project, whether those are code commits, bug reports, or just general feedback - and maybe that feedback doesn't need to be sunshine and roses all the time, but it should at least be concrete. Venting feels good, but it doesn't help anyone, not even yourself [0][1]. The least we can do is to stop normalizing knee-jerk, entitled, ad-hominem anger in our public fora. Because that's what this article is asking for. No one is saying we need to go out and fix all of human nature for a weekend project. We just have to stop upvoting rudeness. Is that so controversial?

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23249241[1] http://psp.sagepub.com/content/28/6/724.abstract

kowdermeister 9 hours ago 1 reply      
There is no "fix" to this. This is how people work. Some like things some don't, you have to deal with it or look for a more secluded hobby. If you can call it a hobby. Maybe behind every angry post there is a frustrated developer who've thought or been told that XY framework "is-the-shit" and and it will rock the way he works. Then he tries it and faces a series of problems. One consequence might be that he feels stupid, inadequate or incompetent. But there are some who dare to criticize. I thing that's a good thing. The moment when your mainstream project stops receiving criticism is probably the day it's dead. And by criticism I don't mean personal attacks (screw those idiots). By criticism I mean people with constructive feedback. The "angular 2 is terrible" article had plenty of it, besides the title it was a good read and insight how A2 really works.

If you want to reduce developer frustration, then try these things first:

- Write a clear scope what your project is about and how you intend it to used. Many times devs realize that the tool is a bad fit for them only after attempting to use it many times

- Write exceptional, up to date documentation

- Visually display core architecture explanations

- Provide clear getting started examples that work out of the box

- Communicate well breaking changes, updates, milestones

beejiu 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I think it works both ways, too. Unfortunately there are some developers that take any form of criticism as negativity.

Some time ago I discovered a major XSS security vulnerability in a very popular WordPress plugin (used on over 100,000 blogs). I notified the author and got it fixed, and published a blog post about the issue 12 months later. The article itself was entirely factual and described the nature of the issue, how I discovered it and what the fix was. Unfortunately, the author took this as a personal attack (the email he sent me made that clear) and I decided to take the post down.

The thing is, I had actually spend many hours going through every single line of code to look for other security vulnerabilities. Sure, I hadn't written any code, and I wasn't the maintainer, but it was still an "open source contribution" in some sense.

EdSharkey 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a bug tracker is where the rubber meets the road. Blog posts people write or hecklers on forums are potential avenues to take feedback, but a bug tracker is where you can expect the most actionable feedback.

Since that's the maintainers' domain, I don't see why they shouldn't just close issues as "will-not-fix" with tags like RUDE or SUBMISSION_GUIDELINES. If someone is taking the time to file a bug report, and they genuinely want to see their problem get better, they'll follow the bug submission guidelines and give you a detailed report. Heck, if they really want to see change, maybe they'll even file a pull request with a patch. If someone just wants to flame or be snarky, close their bug and hopefully they'll try again with a more business-like, respectful post. Never forget, they are coming to you, and the customer isn't always right even if they are paying you.

It's okay to blow people off who are just in the game to tear you a new one; life's too short to give them the satisfaction of your care and your craft. Trust me, the harshest thing you can do to someone like that is to ignore them completely as they've just wasted their time and energy flaming you. You can take some satisfaction in that.

carsongross 10 hours ago 2 replies      
In the vein of "Worse is Better"[1]'s MIT/New Jersey split, my theory is that the online javascript community reflects a lot of what I would call the San Francisco/UI Design attitude (in contrast with, say, Java, which reflects the Palo Alto attitude.)

The SF attitude is more driven by fashion, marketing and art/design world factors and less by raw commercial or technical aspects. This introduces a lot of subjectivity and, as with the art world, snobbery, vicious infighting and out-grouping. Much of the online shittalking reminds me of the various post-war -isms trying to box out the other groups.

There are, of course, many things going on: the rise of the online troll, increasing churn and chaos in the javascript community, bifurcation into the haves and have nots in technology, even the recent presidental election and the attendant insecurities. But this is what I see.

[1] - https://www.jwz.org/doc/worse-is-better.html

EDIT: and I should say, I fall victim to exactly what the author describes when I'm going off on one of my YAGNI react/angular rants.

juice_bus 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember reading that Angular 2 thread and walking away disappointed with the baby-like, nonconstructive screaming. (disclaimer: I'm using NG2 and enjoy it).

This article has reminded me that there are people behind these projects, even the ones I don't like.

mwfunk 7 hours ago 0 replies      
One reading of this is that people in open source JS community should be more professional, but I think you could make similar complaints about electronic communities in general. A blogger in 1999 writing about woodworking might have had similar complaints about feedback from random readers on the Internet.

If you put anything out there on the Internet and encourage people to read it/use it/whatever, you will inevitably be surprised and repulsed by how nonconstructive and uninformed some of the feedback is. Web development might be worse than other fields in this respect because there's just that many more amateur, narcissistic, toxic teenagers (in spirit at least) who don't know what they don't know diving into it, who are going to be somewhat more focused on getting cheap upvotes on Reddit with angry rants than actually creating things.

I don't know what the solution is. Some forums have higher SNRs than others, and while I often enjoy Reddit, I have no expectation that the people posting to programming subreddits are any better as a group than people who posted to Slashdot in 1999. If you do anything and tell anyone about it, some bonehead on Reddit is going to take issue with it and write an angry, uninformed, thoughtless screed about how everything is terrible and it's all your fault. You'll find some gems in places like Reddit as well, but it's just such a random stew of people that you have to take it all with a huge grain of salt.

I agree with just about everything in the article, but given the number of Reddit quotes used as examples, part of the author's problem is taking Reddit too seriously or assuming that a given community on Reddit is a reflection of a larger programming community, whereas often the opposite is true. Oftentimes the people that post the most have the least to say, on Reddit (and the Internet in general), as in life.

20years 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think part of the problem is junior developers think they need to use these frameworks for every project, which results in frustration and running around in circles. They then blame the framework or developers because the framework wasn't really right for their use case or doesn't give them exactly what they want.

Maybe the community needs to do a better job at communicating best use cases for these frameworks.

Are you developing a Gmail type app with multiple devs? Okay, maybe an Angular type framework is a good option.

Are you developing a simple CRUD app? Probably not the best to use a heavy framework then. A framework in this case may actually slow you down.

Single page apps and frameworks are not needed for everything. Probably not even needed for most web apps that people are using them for.

LyndsySimon 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This sort of thing isn't unique to software. The same human behaviors that first-line tech support has to deal with on a daily basis are driving this; it's especially bad in F/OSS because it's often the case that the developers and the supporters are the same people.
throwayawnotime 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I strongly suspect that the competitive environment in Javascript frameworks and :s/tool/fool/ing is the main source of the negativity: Trolls have the explicit agenda to demolish/demotivate what they're trolling in order to push their own project/framework.
allendoerfer 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I do not think that every blog post about a piece of software has to have actionable advice for the maintainers. Sometimes you just want write a review and tell other people that something sucks.

It is true, that this is a community where people are working for free and I would personally try to consider that, when I say something online. It is generally good advice to assume, that other people are intelligent, too, and assume "there are valid reasons for this" before "they had other things to do" before "they are stupid".

Doing something for free however does not free you from criticism. Imagine a studio releasing a movie. Critics hate it, because it sucks. If the studio now sets the price to zero, does that automatically mean all critics have to be positive and friendly? No it does not. If something sucks, it sucks and you are allowed to write about it.

ceedan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like OSS projects need a better way to moderate issues. If github had a setting to force issues to go through a moderator feedback/approval cycle before becoming public, it could reduce this behavior. Wouldn't help for Twitter and whatnot, but at least it would help somewhere.
rpeden 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As others have pointed out, people being mean, angry complainers when something doesn't work the way they want it to isn't unique to the programming or open source communities.

I think some of us are bothered by it because we tend to to think of ourselves as logical and rational, and we expect others like us to behave in the same way.

From observing things over the past decade, it appears to me that there are plenty of developers who are willing to fly off the handle and write whiny rants about things that irritate them.

Maybe part of it is that the posts that sound like they're written by a petulant child get the most attention. I often find myself disagreeing with points in them, but have never felt the need to spout insults about libraries and frameworks or their creators.

Up 'til now, I've been content to reply to these rants on HN and Reddit, and try to inject a bit of reason and calm into the discussion. I think it's time to be more courageous.

I'd like to start writing rebuttal blog posts in which I tell the authors they sound like whiny ingrates and demonstrate how they could have written their criticism constructively. I'm just not sure whether trying be be reasonable will actually help the community, or will just get me lots of nasty replies and e-mails.

bryanrasmussen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought the purpose of the Angular 2 is awful article was not to get the Angular 2 people to improve it but to make an argument for why people should not use it.

Just as in art you can say that there are technologies that you believe are not to your taste and ones that you believe are bad (and there can also be technologies that aside from these categories are also morally bad - AMP). Angular seems to me to be one of those technologies people often think are bad. In the interest of avoiding pointless argumentation (god I'm getting old!) I guess I won't put my opinion here.

igotsideas 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Some people tend to forget that a lot of time goes into all these tools and they are free to use. Some of these engineers spend time fixing OSS problems instead of hanging out with their kids. Good read..
jmcdiesel 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As with seemingly ever problem over this last few years, this just comes back to the same basic problem. Entitlement.

People feel entitled that your library works the way THEY want it to work. They are entitled to feeling that changes you make should agree with THEIR project workflow. They feel entitled to complain when its not exactly what they want.

Entitlement is going to be this period in time's label...

jondubois 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I dislike all JavaScript transpilers. I still cannot get my head around how CoffeeScript ever got so popular. The complexity and friction that transpilers add is not worth the tiny benefits that they offer. I've worked on many projects where I had to wait for like 20 seconds for the code to compile each time I made a change to it.

From my point of view, it sounds like the author of this article is merely feeling the reality catching up to the hype.

Transpilers like CoffeeScript and Babel should never have become popular to begin with. Something unnatural happened in the evolution of those projects which allowed them to capture a lot of attention very quickly; and much of the initial adoption was driven by hype and network effects instead of real needs.

datashovel 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the context everyone needs to start taking with internet comments / blogs / etc. is that "everyone can be part of any open community". The other important thing to take is "everyone can voice their opinion". This, if the majority of us really dig deep, is what we wanted and why we invested so much time / energy into the web.

I would say that only in recent years has it felt like the most ignorant are really starting to ratchet up their rhetoric. I still see it as a truly powerful thing even when it can / is used destructively.

Also, given the ad-driven world of online, my guess is a large number of "relatively intelligent" rants we see online ramp up their tone only to drive more traffic. It's sad state of affairs, but true. My belief is the internet is still very much a meritocracy. As long as good work continues, it will continue to get well-deserved attention and praise. The thing that is changing and the way I think we (oss contributors in general) need to adapt is by making sure we don't let the noise rattle us.

EDIT: In terms of how the particular issues arose (backlash) for Babel 6, I would say the only thing you'd probably want to do is assess the project's methodology for how word gets out and how easy it is for people in the community to participate in discussions of changes that will affect users. Perhaps making it explicit on the project websites which channels are "official" channels where the project's work occurs.

In the end decisions / progress needs to be made. If everything is done as "above board" as possible given resource constraints of the project, don't ever let the backlash make you feel so guilty that it might change your mind about whether to contribute. Those who are the loudest are probably the least involved and sadly the most dispensable. Of course you don't want to think in those terms, but I think it's a lot worse to try too hard to appease loud / ignorant / uninvolved community members. That is probably the main thing that will lead the core team to want to disband the project altogether.

z3t4 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The best way is to get a bunch of people to answer messages for you, and filter out personal insults. Also you do not need to read the news, it's possible to live under a rock and still write the best software.If you want to talk to other like minded, conferences are nice, and also IRC, there's always nice guys lurking there and if you write something interesting they will wake up, just be patient.

Then there are community management, everything you say or write can be used against you, and there are trolls trying to make you look bad. The community can be very powerful if managed though, thousands of people can achieve a lot together.

When you make something successful, people will love you, and we all want attention, so it will be hard not to become a public figure, but you're better off not to, because there will also be haters and if you make a bad move, those fans can easily turn into an angry mob.

tnones 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the author's frustrations. Open source is lovely when it works, and communities can be fun when you're part of them. But I understand the other side too. Most people don't care, and they shouldn't have to care, yet they are told to regardless.

The flipside to all this griping about entitlement is that most open source ecosystems are set up as an explicit groupthink and infrastructure to which you must defer. You can't just grab something and keep playing by yourself, no, you must keep moving in lockstep with everyone else, or things will break. That's why people get frustrated and angry, and that's why they barge into issue queues feeling miffed. They gave up too much control to too big an entity, and it bit them in the ass. Angular 1 should be a big lesson here: people abandoned the entire framework in droves simply because the _promise_ of future updates was taken away. The beautiful carriage turned back into the pumpkin it always was, and now the rot was starting to set in.

Even something like node.js with its fractally versioned npm packages has this problem. Drop-in compatibility is only true as long as you're in the sweet spot of doing what most other people do, on the version most widely installed. Not too bleeding edge that you can't expect StackOverflow to have gotten there before you, but not too far behind that you lose compatibility with the important dependencies.

The author concludes "If we focus on solutions, focus on helping others, focus on sharing ideas, well be in a better place." I disagree, because too much sharing is what got us into this mess. The answer is more self-sufficiency, with enough affordances for going at it by yourself if you want to. Alas, that doesn't jibe with the latest fad of inclusiveness, so I'm afraid the same people griping about civility are the ones doomed to recruit more ineffective members into their congregation.

kazinator 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> Hacker News often rewards negativity.

Hacker News has a very good mechanism for combating negativity. However, the moderation mechanisms of Hacker News cannot suppress the mass hatred of something.

When we see, on HN, a pattern of seething negativity against something leaking through the fine moderation system, maybe that something has some property which induces negativity. Be it completely unfair, or be it rationally justified, there it is.

There is a way not to be confronted with anything negative, while staying online: join one of those social networks whose job is to feed you ads, surrounded only by content that you like, based on your liking history.

dsego 9 hours ago 0 replies      
When you try to sell something as the next best thing since sliced bread, expect some criticism if it doesn't deliver.
Kequc 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't to say people shouldn't ideally be nice to each other whenever possible. I'm so tired of hearing about how someone was slighted on the internet. Whatever it is you put out there will potentially be seen by up to 6 billion people. So "every day" you log in and see "yet another" negative comment? Grow up! There's no nice way to say that.

There's going to be negative comments on the internet please please stop complaining about it. I've been hearing people complain about negative comments on the internet for years it is not going to stop. Find another way of dealing with it.

ggregoire 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The people who appreciate your projects and would love to thank you everyday for your amazing work are the silent majority.

See Font Awesome 5. When they announced the KickStarter on HN, a minority criticized the existing library (like how the lib is shitty) or their future plans (like how having a pro version is wrong). But at the end, they raised almost $1 million. That shows how the biggest part of the community is really thankful.

If FA5 can raise $1M, I can't even imagine how much could raise Babel, Webpack or Homebrew. You made our lives so much easier.


Also, can't recommend enough this book:

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - https://www.amazon.com/Subtle-Art-Not-Giving-Counterintuitiv...

halis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This isn't unique to open source software development. Anytime you're a public figure or a public company or otherwise working in some highly visible capacity, there are going to be haters in the building.

It doesn't matter what you do, you could say that you're against the strangulation and drowning of kittens and there would be someone(s) out there shouting to the sky that you should be shot in the head for saying so.

Fuck em! Ignore it. Move on.

bjornlouser 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Some of the best [experiences] include being invited to conferences around the world to speak getting to travel to places I never thought I would and making friends from around the world."

Are the motivations of maintainers aligned with the developers using their software?

vorpalhex 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems there are two things going on here.

1. Upset that people are now reacting negatively to this change as opposed to voicing criticism earlier

2. Being upset that criticism exists

(2) is the sort of problem I can't help with except to say maybe grow a thicker skin or be a bit more aware of what it was you signed up for, but in regards to (1) -

It's important to note that the people heavily invested in your project (enough to follow every new issue on Github and respond to them and have opinions) will be very different from your mainstream users. There is no shortage of people who heavily use a project and yet probably don't follow them in any way. So it's important to note that using that source of feedback likely subjects us to bias.

jondubois 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm the creator of a popular open source project (but not Babel-popular). I don't have a problem with people complaining about my work; if anything, I wish they would complain more - That way I would have a better idea about which parts need to be improved!

I think that the author has no grounds to complain here; he's one of the lucky ones. I wish I was in his shoes and have people yell at me in desperation so that I could fix their problems (whilst travelling around the world). That sounds like a dream to me.

usurpers 10 hours ago 2 replies      
> It almost feels like youre a politician at times.

Because that's what he is. He's a self-chosen software politician who admits he loves his job. He's paid to travel the world and interact with his constituents.

But he is upset that his audience sometimes writes a blog post, or worse, nominally approves of adding an arbitrary number to a database associated with a blog post. Somehow this is construed as a problem with the community.

It seems the community is functioning as intended, and grievances are being hashed out. However, the author does not want to deal with the challenges of listening to and interacting with the people he is being paid to interact with.

codezero 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have any suggestions on alternative communities that are more positive?

Reddit and HN are easy because they are pretty consolidated, my best guess is that these other communities are small and hard to find.

rygine 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I usually don't comment about these type of posts, but I felt I had to speak out here when the author of this article has been an offender of the things he's trying to promote. Perhaps he has just "seen the light," but I have my reservations.

Specifically, these lines got to me:

>If we focus on solutions, focus on helping others, focus on sharing ideas, well be in a better place. Were all part of a broader community and we all have an impact on it. We can either have a positive impact or a negative one. Its entirely up to us.

> This is the reality the community faces. We can either work to fix it or we can continue digging a deeper hole for ourselves.

At my company, we were using Lerna [1], a library to help manage mono repos. It wasn't perfect, but it worked. So I thought I'd contribute. I spent a good deal of time replying to issues, fixing bugs, and working on new features.

This was at a time when the author was mostly absent. Without the amazing help of gigabo [2] and hzoo [3], the project would have grinded to a halt. As new users rushed in to use this relatively new tool, there were many new issues and feature requests.

When the author did make his presence known, he was not very helpful [4] [5]. These are just the examples that stood out to me as a contributor. Most people understand that 1 person can't be expected to maintain a big project like this, especially when they are busy at Facebook bootcamp. That's why it had 2 additional members to help. Unfortunately, as a result of [5] above, the author decided he no longer wanted [2]'s help and removed him from the project. He removed a huge contributor because he disagreed with him and failed to openly discuss the issue. Ironic. I stopped contributing immediately. As a result, Asini [6] was born.

The thing that really pisses me off about this post from the author is that he's promoting open communication, sharing, helping others, etc... when it's the complete opposite of my experience with him. Maybe he just had a bad day on those days, maybe it was something else. I don't know him personally, I can only assume things based my interactions. Regardless, this was some extremely poor handling of an open source project.

It looks like he's active on the project again, but it doesn't look like much has changed. [7] [8] [9]

Mr. Kyle, if you're reading this, I really hope you'll follow your own advice. If I have misunderstood your actions in the past, I'm open to being wrong.

[1] https://github.com/lerna/lerna[2] https://github.com/gigabo[3] https://github.com/hzoo[4] https://github.com/lerna/lerna/pull/255#issuecomment-2289545...[5] https://github.com/lerna/lerna/issues/334#issuecomment-24639...[6] https://github.com/asini/asini[7] https://github.com/lerna/lerna/pull/255#issuecomment-2523322...[8] https://github.com/lerna/lerna/pull/386#issuecomment-2640725...[9] https://github.com/lerna/lerna/issues/408

erikpukinskis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a powerful skill we could probably use a bit more of in this day and age:

Recognize when you're just the flashpoint for someone's anger, not the cause of it, and don't take it personally.

Abuse shouldn't be tolerated of course. But sometimes you're just the straw that broke the camel's back. And in those moments, if you can let yourself off the hook, and realize that there is a bigger issue going on, you can often redirect the conversation toward that bigger issue.

Maybe if OP spent less time defending himself, less time taking the complaints personally, and more time just commiserating with people about the changes in the JavaScript community and how we should deal with them... maybe those interactions would've gone better and he'd be less burnt out.

I realize this is victim blaming, from the perspective of someone who was just bullied. So, please don't take this as a critique of OP. It's just a path I am trying to keep in mind.

STRiDEX 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I remember that angular 2 thread. Half of the problems were the breaking changes between release candidates. I was one of those early adopters, pushing my code along between releases. It was bad, but nothing I didn't expect. They talked about the changes and explained the motives clearly.

I think the problem is people want to be bleeding edge without joining the community.

Edit: question for James. What did you build with angular 2? Is it public?

tomkadwill 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post. Open source maintainers clearly have some responsibility but we need to remember that they contribute their free time to make users lives easier
yegortimoshenko 9 hours ago 1 reply      
> When we launched Babel 6, we made an API change that we had planned for awhile. We moved from having an implicit (works out of the box) behavior to an explicit (will work for everyone) behavior.

Just like Rich Hickey said in his last talk (see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13085952), breaking changes are broken. For greater good or not, it's no surprise people complain when you break their code/workflow.

> I want to talk to you about an article that was written the other day titled Angular 2 is terrible. For starters, that title alone is an attack on the maintainers. Surely the author wants a set of problems addressed. But why should the maintainers want to even click on that link, let alone try to address the problems?

I too think that Angular 2 is terrible. It is not an attack on the maintainers, it is just a piece of (IMO) bad technology with maintainers feeling attached to it.

It is a very crucial skill in life to be able to withstand critique and take it to your advantage. There is a lot of usually unnoticed utility hidden in critique, waiting for someone to reap its benefits.

wattt 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Rather than acknowledge some of the criticisms are true the author complains that complainers are the problem. Can't see the forest through the trees.
adrianlmm 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The "Angular 2 is Terrible" article was not a clik-bait and it wasn't exagerating, Angular 2 is indeed, terrible.
_asciiker_ 8 hours ago 1 reply      
hey now ...

"Ive always been advised to avoid these sub-communities like /r/javascript and Hacker News. Maintainers say they are filled with assholes who dont know what they are talking about, angry idiots shouting at everything and everyone, cesspools, giant piles of trash burning in the wind."

I find that HN has one of the most sober comment sections I could ever wish for, it's certainly better than Reddit. I mostly come here for the comments.

shanemhansen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think there's a fundamental mistake the author is making. Sometimes complaints about frameworks are not directed at framework authors, but at users. Sometimes people need to be warned away from bad software.

Specifically the author references a NG2 article that is trying to warn developers, not bash maintainers. https://meebleforp.com/blog/36/angular-2-is-terrible

qwertyuiop924 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think I can say much about the article's main point that hasn't already been said. But I do have a question:

Why the flying blue !@#$ would anybody think that Babel 6's Configuration over Convention decision was the wrong way to go? It was absolutely the right thing to do. It made Babel a far more uniform and simple piece of software, and actually made it easier to use.


mschuster91 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem with the JS learning curve is the HUGE amount of StackOverflow and blog posts that are insanely outdated, with no way for the casual reader to check if the question or the answers are actually usable on a modern version.

I believe that this, combined with complex, incomplete or outright missing documentation (hello Webpack, though the situation has improved since a couple of months) is something that holds the JS community back very hard - also because people complain all the time to framework authors "the example I c&p d from stackoverflow doesn't work" and answering these complaints takes nerve and time.

The PHP community suffers from the same fate, btw - remember mysql_*? People still find it in the top 10 Google results for some questions.

The only environments that have managed to resist this problem are Win32 and the userspace part of the Linux Kernel. In a lot of cases one is able to even open a VC6 project in a modern Visual Studio, have it converted and building - or at least just having to mess with the VC build process, but thanks to a hell of #ifdef's, the Win32 code still builds - and runs! For what it's worth, I can run Windows 95-era EarthSiege 2 on a 64-bit processor and the only things broken are the joystick input (by disassembly I believe the responsible code suffers from a bad version check on a struct) and some timer that binds a specific movement to the framerate and naturally overspeeds as a modern system can easily hit 100 FPS.

Same holds true for the Linux kernel, it's amazing that a statically compiled game like UT2004 still runs on a modern day Linux system.

In contrast, JavaScript - "npm install <whatever>", as many tutorials describe, is likely to already give an incompatible (with the instructions) package when the book finally gets printed. I have the feeling that like with libraries, major versions should always be backwards-compatible for their subversions, and have different NAMES for their major versions, e.g. "npm install angularjs1" vs "npm install angularjs2".

zeveb 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Has the author considered that maybe, just maybe, negativity can be justified? Sometimes when one sees people wasting yet another man-decade in yet another attempt to make JavaScript not fundamentally broken the only thing that can possibly work is to say, 'your project is stupid, because you're trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.' If reasoning doesn't work, if polite criticism doesn't work, then maybe being direct will work.

Or maybe not. I generally try to reason through this kind of thing. But after awhile one realises that if every programmer has to learn why JavaScript and single page apps are both fundamentally and accidentally broken, then thousands of years of cumulative programmer effort will be completely wasted. Maybe it'd be faster just to say, 'that's stupid: do it this way' and short-circuit the whole process. It'd be even better to say, 'that's ill-advised, here's why, and here's how to do it better.' But if the other part won't listen to the long explanation and doesn't wish to learn then it seems to me that the last-ditch mechanism is rudeness.

marknadal 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought I agreed but then I read this guy's pinned tweet thread, and he is being very demeaning of other people "Shut up David, no one likes you" https://twitter.com/thejameskyle/status/788799662438227969 (I don't care if he's being sarcastic or teasing, this isn't the attitude that makes people feel uplifted).
xamuel 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Apologies to the author, but rants serve a purpose. They comfort those of us forced to use a framework we don't like. If they demotivate you, that's your problem, not the world's. Move your site to Facebook if you want nothing but likes.
GoToRO 8 hours ago 0 replies      
People are angry because you waste their time! Every single time you release some garbage but you write on the label that it's the next big thing people will lose time with it. And time is something you can not get back, no matter how much money you have.

As an irony the only people that really profited from OSS are... the big corporations.

Welcome to the World of Software Defined Radio robertputt.co.uk
289 points by robputt796  1 day ago   79 comments top 23
mmaunder 1 day ago 6 replies      
SDR is fun and the way of the future. I'd say we're getting close to a very low cost SDR that also brings together usability and excellent RX/TX and filtering capability. We're not there yet and so my Kenwood TS-2000 and Yaesu 857D and 817ND still kicks the butt of low cost SDR's.

You'll find as you set up the base station your focus quickly moves to antennas. And then you become obsessed with antennas.

Definitely get into amateur satellites. http://amsat.org/status/Go get a cheap handheld arrow dual band antenna with built-in diplexer to get started. I use macdoppler and also Ham Radio Deluxe's Satellite module. They are Mac and Windows respectively - I use them both for different things. Mostly I use macdoppler to make the doppler corrections automatically on my Yaesu 817ND and I use HRD for my TS-2000.

Also, build yourself a HF monoband dipole antenna tuned to 14.3MHZ and then listen in to the ham band from 14.00 to 14.150 for digital/cw and from 14.150 to 14.300 for voice. It'll cost you about 20 bucks for the coax and a few bucks for the wire. You don't need a balun if you're using low enough power for TX.

If you want to be a bit naughty (this is HN afterall) google around and learn about FLTSATCOM 7 and 8. It's an old US milsat that is basically an open repeater. They're geosynchronous birds that are used for encrypted comms but Brazilian criminal gangs periodically use them for free communication. They build antennas out of spare parts and use down-converters/up-converters to deal with the 250mhz frequency which is outside normal VHF/UHF. With your SDR you can build your own cheap home depot antenna and listen in without a converter. Just do absolutely not broadcast because you'll get arrested - someone already has. You can sometimes pick up used special forces directional portable antennas for a reasonable price on ebay for 250mhz.

I'm a radio amateur, callsign WT1J. If you're into this stuff and find yourself able to TX on HF or satellite, drop me a line and we can set up a schedule.


heywire 1 day ago 3 replies      
SDR has been an endless source of fun for me. I have a half a dozen different rtl dongles hooked up to raspberry pis and my laptop at any one time. Most recently I wrote a program to read the 900MHz broadcasts from my electric and water meters [1]. I'm also using an existing program to monitor our gas meter [2]. rtl_433 is another fun one [3].

[1] https://github.com/shaunhey/ea_receiver[2] https://github.com/bemasher/rtlamr[3] https://github.com/merbanan/rtl_433

edejong 1 day ago 2 replies      
If you like SDR, you should definitely have a look at GNU Radio Companion (GRC) [1]. A nice introduction into the methods of GRC is given by Michael Ossmann [2], which is really worth checking out.

[1] http://gnuradio.org/redmine/projects/gnuradio/wiki/GNURadioC...[2] http://greatscottgadgets.com/sdr/1/

w8rbt 1 day ago 2 replies      
"Ill be honest I have always thought radio related stuff is a bit of a strange and boring hobby, the electronics side fine, but sitting and chatting to people in a slow and often poor quality conversation didnt really seem that interesting to me"


You can send data over radio links and do other very interesting things... All without using a network! Just two nodes transmitting and receiving data via antennas at the speed of light. You don't have to talk at all. A lot of people don't get this when they think about radio.

Radio is not just old, retired guys talking about health problems on VHF/UHF repeaters. Rather, it's a world-wide network, that has no infrastructure dependencies, transmitting data at the speed of light.

tmescic 16 hours ago 0 replies      
A fun way to use one of these is to decode images sent from weather satellites. We built a system to decode images from a Russian Meteor-M2 satellite by using a RTL-SDR, home made antenna and GNU radio (image gallery : http://meteor.amphinicy.com/). Unfortunately, we are located in the city center with a lot of RF noise and interference so images are not as clean as they could be.
buserror 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny that, I've played all week-end with a RTL stick[0], and a 30 'weather station' thing from amazon[1]. Using rtl_433[2] it took no time at all to be able to receive what the sensor pods are sending over, it's really pretty cool!

I've also ordered some 433mhz wall/light switches, I hope to be able to receive/transmit and log all of that stuff, from what I can see, with a bit of tweaking you can integrate quite a few vendor's kit, and even integrate it with amazon Alexa for voice control.

Also started to 'explore' the spectrum using gqrx/gnuradio, I can see how it could become addictive :-)

[0]: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/152142033580

[1]: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00SIZZBDK [ whoops sorry went up in price, cyber week is over :( ]

[2]: http://www.rtl-sdr.com/using-rtl-sdr-rtl_433-decode-various-...

deutronium 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really wish there were cheaper Tx capable SDRs, as they look like a lot of fun! The cheapest ones I've seen at the moment seem to be around $200 hackrfs from aliexpress.
jonah 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I just got my Ham license a couple weeks ago and picked up an updated version of the SDR dongle he's using a few days ago[0][1]. I've just started playing with it but even if you're not that into radio, it's worth $20 and a couple hours with to explore the invisible radio frequency world around us.

[0] Be sure to get one with a TCXO (Temperature Compensated Crystal Oscillator) which reduces frequency drift.

[1] His link actually goes to the newer, improved, Mini 2+.

gerryk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been through a number of SDRs - Softrock, RTLSDR, HackRF, and more recently I have a Red Pitaya (http://redpitaya.com/) and am ICOM 7300 (http://www.icomamerica.com/en/products/amateur/hf/7300/defau...), which is a traditional looking radio with SDR at its core.

The flexibility offered by doing all the work in software is ground-breaking... really only limited by imagination.

Tempest1981 1 day ago 6 replies      
How do Ham radio operators feel about SDR? (In general)

Do they think it's interesting and cool, or do they reject it for being different and inferior vs. more expensive and sensitive equipment?

mindentropy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I am interested in using a SDR for exploring the PHY in software. This includes having to sniff the GSM, bluetooth etc. I have a Nooelec SDR USB dongle but I am yet to experiment with it. I have used to listen to FM radio and that's it.

I am thinking of starting decoding FM radio by myself to understand the basics.I do not want to use GNU radio except for better understanding. I would like to learn and have an understanding of things from scratch so that I get an intuitive feel when I am developing sniffers. Is this a good way to start? I really love wireless protocols but have worked from link layer upwards and would love to understand wireless PHY implementations.

mrkgnao 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Apparently antirez is a radio enthusiast.


fosco 1 day ago 0 replies      
Think this bookmark of an intro to SDR is appropriate


periodicfunc 16 hours ago 0 replies      
For those interested in ADSB#, I believe it was renamed ADSB Spy and is now included with SDR# available at airspy.com.

SDR# has a bit of a messy history and at one time was completely open source but was later closed after some dispute between the developers (to the best of my knowledge).

If you look hard enough you can still find the source code of the older versions of SDR# and ADSB# which is handy if you want to learn how they work, although its all C# .NET and there is some wild stuff going on to try and squeeze enough performance out of the code. This is where I started learning though being a .NET developer, and from there moved on to GNU Radio and now learning C++.

Fascinating subject.

gbtw 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The University of Twente SDR is pretty neat too:http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/
madengr 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a KiwiSDR going here on the HF band:

Also wrote a GNU Radio based scanner that will work with the SDR dongles:


photogrammetry 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Strange that he couldn't find ADSB# - I used it just a few months ago. Perhaps it's been merged with another repository. If he wants the zip I used for installation I can send it to him, just give me an email address.
phkahler 1 day ago 1 reply      
Can't you decode OTA TV? I know GNU radio was doing that years ago, but not in real time yet. I would think that's possible now.
metaphor 1 day ago 0 replies      
Snapshots depict sub -100dBm noise floor...on a $21 DVB-T receiver...mkay, sure.
qwertyuiop924 1 day ago 1 reply      
...You can totally listen in to HAMs using RTL-SDR. 10m, 6m, 2m, 1.25m, 70cm, 33cm, and 23cm all fall within the ranges mentioned.

As much as the HAM radio is traditionally an HF affair, the easiest to obtain licence (Technician class) actually pretty much only allows for VHF and UHF transmission. Not only that, but even among Generals and Extras, 10, 6, and 2 are very popular, especially for local communication (usually through a repeater), whereas HF is more commonly used for DXing.

You can even listen in to APRS, which is message stream that carries a lot of interesting data (mostly GPS stuff, but you'll catch a few text, email, or general messages through it every once in a while).

devereaux 1 day ago 1 reply      
I will leap as soon as I can get something like the https://xtrx.io/ with a mini PCIe interface or expresscard interface. I want to do the processing on my laptop without the limitation of a slow bus.

Also I would love some solution to nicely expose the ufl connectors. expresscard would seem a better choice to me that mini PCIe, to connect antennas on the side of the laptop or the back of the desktop when using a PCIe to expresscard adapter.

partycoder 16 hours ago 0 replies      
On Linux there's Cubic SDR (among others).http://cubicsdr.readthedocs.io/en/latest/

Make sure to use it with a supported device. The device in the article is supported I think (by the SoapyRTLSDR module).

Data Science: CSCI E-109 Publication Listing harvard.edu
278 points by tempw  1 day ago   18 comments top 4
minimaxir 1 day ago 0 replies      
The URL was changed from http://cs109.github.io/2015/pages/videos.html , which has more information and links to the corresponding repositories.
davidwihl 1 day ago 1 reply      
My project is at 28:00 of the final project presentations. We won overall that year. I'm TF (teaching fellow) for the current course and Head TF for the advanced course (CS109b) in the Spring. AMA.
jamesblonde 1 day ago 6 replies      
Looks like a kitchen sink course. The deep learning lecture tried to summarize all of deep learning into 1 hour. Didn't do it for me.
bertomartin 1 day ago 2 replies      
Really great, would be cool if it were on youtube though
The FBI Can Now Legally Hack Everywhere Around the World saintlad.com
212 points by jakekovoor  1 day ago   91 comments top 20
sklivvz1971 1 day ago 3 replies      
"Legally"? Seriously misleading title, a foreign nation state hacking people has not been made legal outside the US at all. It might be legal in the US, but surely it's still computer crime where it's committed.
pash 1 day ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know whether the Supreme Court has provided any clarification about whether the amended rules purport to allow American officials to search computers in foreign countries? Or whether the Justice Department has indicated how it will interpret the new rules?

I asked this question in a thread here when the rules were proposed earlier this year, but received no replies because the topic was deleted as a duplicate. In the months since then, I've seen plenty of speculation in reporting on the issue, but nothing close to an answer to the questionso let me repeat it:

Do these new rules expand the claimed foreign jurisdiction of US federal courts, or not?

The amended rules provide new authorities for issuing warrants when "the district where the media or information is located has been concealed through technological means". In other words, the new rules seem to expand the authority of federal courts when there is a question of which district court has jurisdiction. But what do these new rules mean for cases in which the location of the information is clearly outside of the jurisdiction of any US federal district court, or when there is a question of whether it might be?

Apparently the rules were previously amended to remove the definition of "district court" [0], making this question still more subtle. Note also that the rules explicitly expand the jurisdiction of US federal courts to issue warrants "inside or outside" the geography of their districts in cases of terrorism, but not explicitly otherwise. I believe that rule has been interpreted to mean that federal courts may issue warrants worldwide, without regard to sovereign geography, in terrorist cases.

0. See the note pertaining to Rule 1(b) of the 2002 amendment, at https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcrmp/rule_1

crb002 1 day ago 2 replies      
The FBI couldn't be trusted to take down Silk Road without lining the pockets of their agents. This is a recipe for massive corporate espionage.
cesarb 1 day ago 4 replies      
"[...] the FBI can now legally hack [...], and even overseas, [...]"

I don't think that's really true. If for instance a FBI agent hacks into a computer located in Brazil and owned by a Brazilian citizen, he is still breaking Brazilian law, no matter what a USA judge says.

gtirloni 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm no lawyer but this does not say the FBI can hack anyone anywhere in the world. It explicit says a judge may authorize the search warrant if, among other things (mostly related to where the target is within the US):

(B) the premisesno matter who owns themof a United States diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state, including any appurtenant building, part of a building, or land used for the mission's purposes; or

(C) a residence and any appurtenant land owned or leased by the United States and used by United States personnel assigned to a United States diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state.

So it says clearly "owned, leased, used by... US diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state". Not that any laws have prevented the FBI/NSA from doing any of this already.

Apparently, citizens of other countries should not be worried (with this particular law). Could anyone with more knowledge in this area double check this?

benevol 1 day ago 1 reply      
Probably again making legal what has been going on illegally for a long time.
tzs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Almost everyone who analyzes the change to rule 41 just looks at the change to Rule 41(b). There is also a change to Rule 41(f)(1)(C), which concerns serving a warrant. The pre-change version is:

> The officer executing the warrant must give a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property taken to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken or leave a copy of the warrant and receipt at the place where the officer took the property.

The post-change version appends another sentence to that:

> For a warrant to use remote access to search electronic storage media and seize or copy electronically stored information, the officer must make reasonable efforts to serve a copy of the warrant on the person whose property was searched or whose information was seized or copied. Service may be accomplished by any means, including electronic means, reasonably calculated to reach that person.

saberlynx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Growing up under an authoritian government I learned the subtle difference between rule of law, where everyone has to obey the laws we enact in our society, and rule by law, whereby the powers that be enact laws that allow them to do whatever they want. It seems that in the US the distinction is quickly eroding, if it ever existed in the first place. And of course the establishment will call it rule of law. The law is convenient in this case. If it were not they'd just ignore it. The numerous leaks that came out within the past decade demonstrate this.
mercora 1 day ago 1 reply      
I once had this idea that all these revelations done with the documents given by Snowden could be done on purpose by the government itself in order to make what was previously secretly done common knowledge and thus easier to use later on. There would be a period of time of outrage and maybe some regulation that wasn't there before, but in the end they could do more or less the same thing publicly and everybody would be like "yeah sure, that is what it is like". Not that i believe this is really what happened but it certainly feels like this is where it is going to.
LinuxBender 1 day ago 1 reply      
While this is sub-optimal, I would suggest that everyone should assume this is where most countries will eventually land. I would not waste too much energy debating this, in my humble opinion.

Even if we don't all end up in dystopian bubbles that have some legal tie back to the U.S., the focus should be around proper architecture, defense in depth, plausible deniability by design, etc. If you are not required to keep logs, then don't. If you are, encrypt them with half of a key. You get half of the key and your customers get half of the key. Yes, logs per tenant. This is getting _somewhat_ easier to do these days. Design decentralized or partially centralized systems that permit delegation of control over encryption of data so that lawful intercept is less useful and so that hacking a thing is less effective both technically and legally. I.e. encrypted data-stores that you and your customers can partake in the legal custody of the data. Once you receive the NSL, you won't be able to talk about it and warrant canaries may not always be feasible either, so design your systems with that in mind.

If you code products that folks will use to protect their families freedom and/or way of life, then please consider the attack vectors and generalize your way out of them and/or create really easy to read docs that people can take away action items from and implement.

I only mention this because HN is full of intelligent creative thinkers, engineers, architects and highly experienced attorneys. Hopefully a few doc/tech writers too!

...now back to my really bad coffee.

chrismcb 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Will let's ignore this definition of "legal" this rule only pertains if the location of the server has been deliverability hidden, or if computers in more than five districts have been affected.This is not a blanket "hack anyone, anywhere"
rayiner 1 day ago 3 replies      
There is a lot of ink being spilled on what is really a pretty minor technical change. The FBI can break into your house so long as it gets a search warrant. So why shouldn't it be able to hack into your computer with a warrant too? What the rule changes do is just change the jurisdictional requirements for obtaining those warrants. Those changes make sense: the FBI may have no idea what district a particular computer is in. Under those circumstances, the rules permit the FBI to get a warrant from a judge in any district.
truth_sentinell 1 day ago 0 replies      
My doubt is how do they hack the computers and how do they know the ip of the target? Maybe they have a secret list of vulnerabilities of linux and windows?
wineisfine 1 day ago 0 replies      
Who signs off on this stuff, btw?

It seems even the president isn't fully aware of whats going on.

pessimizer 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sure that President Trump will be a wise and careful steward of his all-pervasive intelligence apparatus.
arca_vorago 1 day ago 0 replies      
The relevant part of article six of the United States Constitution.

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

Therefor, being that such a warrant system is in violation of the fourth amendment (they key here, for those naively claiming this isn't such a big deal, is the interpretation by the executive that such warrants give them the power to hack thousands of computers without description of their location, their probable cause, and the person that owns them):

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The FBI and every congress-scumbag who passed this, or blocked the delays, is very close to being in violation of their oath, technically and in spirit. Now, for congress they must sign an affidavit that (5 U.S.C. 3333) will not violate their oath while in office, the punishment of which (18 U.S.C. 1918) is removal from office and confinement or a fine, but the criteria is hard to pin down legally.

(5 U.S. Code 7311) "An individual may not accept or hold a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia if he(1) advocates the overthrow of our constitutional form of government;(2) is a member of an organization that he knows advocates the overthrow of our constitutional form of government;(3) participates in a strike, or asserts the right to strike, against the Government of the United States"

My question is, are the executive officers also supposed to sign that affadavit? If so, that's a starting point, but if not, what punishment is there, what legal recourse, to get rid of people in the executive or judicial who are pushing or acquiescing to blatantly unconstitutional expansions of power?

Bonus question: does the third amendment apply here as well, since they are putting their own malware in our houses?

"No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

revelation 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's amazing, on the back of technical ignorance they have combined unprecedented powers (this isn't merely a "search") with a crass reduction in warrant requirements. It's squaring the circle, do more with even less oversight.
sioadfjafsdaf 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here come the tin foil hats with the extremist title that is intentionally misrepresenting the truth.

Information distribution on the web is broken. Where's the startup to fix that?

No Spanking, No Time-Out, No Problems theatlantic.com
270 points by behoove  1 day ago   413 comments top 50
marcell 1 day ago 24 replies      
Quoting the article:

> "Sarah, put on the green coat or the red sweater. We're going to go out, okay?" Choice among humans increases the likelihood of compliance. And choice isn't important, it's the appearance of choice that's important.

I've gotten this exact advice from so many articles and pop psych pieces. Maybe they are written by non-parents or their children are much easier, but it never works for me. My 4 year will always ask for a 3rd option that isn't there, or just reject the framing entirely.

I suspect much of this advice depends on your child's temperament. Tips that work for one family will not work for another, and it will even vary between kids in the same family. For me personally, having kids has resolved the nature vs nurture debate squarely in the "nature" side.

3131s 1 day ago 4 replies      
I live in a very poor Asian country where most every parent has never given a single thought to behavior theory or been exposed to the whole parenting industry. It's mostly just feed your kid, let them run around unsupervised with other kids outside, and have the oldest child handle certain responsibilities like getting everybody to school on time. Having worked with kids back in the US and here, the contrast in behavioral problems and social anxiety is so markedly different that it's definitely shaped the way I'll parent my own children. The kids here are much less needy and so much more confident and independent, whereas I can barely spend two minutes around a western kid without getting royally annoyed. My own parents were very hands-off and I plan to be even more so.
SerLava 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Lets say you have an adolescent daughter and she says to you, Mom, you are such a bitch. What have you ever done for me? You only think of yourself.

> The teen may be at the dinner table and just being quiet and not saying negative things. Well, when you're starting out, one of the positive-opposites can sometimes be reinforcing the non-occurrence of the behavior. And you just say, Marion, it's nice having dinner with you, it's nice that you're here. What that does is reinforce the likelihood that Marion will be at the dinner table and not say negative things.

So, I love this here.

Taming the 4 year old requires a psychological trick on the 4 year old. Taming the 14 year old apparently requires a psychological trick on the 40 year old.

For the teens, the psychologist's advice is literally "Well, maybe don't be such a bitch in the first place, Mom."

junto 1 day ago 6 replies      
> Tone of voice dictates whether you're going to get compliance or not. "Sarah, put on the green coat or the red sweater. We're going to go out, okay?" Choice among humans increases the likelihood of compliance. And choice isn't important, it's the appearance of choice that's important. Having real choice is not the issue, humans don't feel too strongly about that, but having the feeling that you have a choice makes a difference.

My son has dry skin and has to have a special cream on his face before he goes to bed - normally when he's tired and terribly uncooperative.

In order to get him to allow us to put the cream on his face, we often just give him the choice of which side of the face we should start with. I don't give him the choice to have the cream or not. It works brilliantly. A friend told us that tip. Awesome.

theli0nheart 1 day ago 4 replies      
> Punishment might make you feel better, but it wont change the kids behavior. Instead, he advocates for a radical technique in which parents positively reinforce the behavior they do want to see until the negative behavior eventually goes away.

We adopted a puppy a little more than a year ago and this was the exact advice we were given for how to train her. Puppies and little kids are remarkably similar, and the key to training a dog is not to "punish" them when they do something wrong (they'll just get scared of you), but rather to reinforce the good behaviors, reward them when they listen, and essentially just ignore them when they don't.

In practice, after a year, this technique has worked great. Our puppy listens to us, respects us, and despite being absolutely crazy, will drop everything if she hears us call her. We didn't even need to train her to avoid eating the baby's toys since I think she understood that she received more praise when playing with "her" toys.

Our baby is only six months old so we'll have to report back in a decade as to whether this approach works well with kids too. :)

JonnieCache 1 day ago 2 replies      
While this is framed here as a "radical" technique, it's just BF Skinner's Operant Conditioning, which has been one of the foundations of behavioral psychology for nigh on 100 years.

If you're wondering if it really works, yes, it does. One of the key elements of it, especially when using it on people, is accepting that the subject is likely to execute the behavior badly for the first few iterations, but you have to positively reinforce it just the same as if they'd done it perfectly if you want them to get better. If you can't manage this, and you get angry at them, you're jeopardising the whole thing.

There's a nice clip from one of Jordan Peterson's lectures here, talking about these techniques in the context of intimate relationships:


gkafkg8y8 1 day ago 0 replies      
What I've learned about parenting:

* Your kids may grow up to act like you, so act in a way that you want your children to emulate.

* Talk to them in a way and have expecations of them that are developmentally appropriate. Use your wisdom and conscience to determine how to do this.

* Expect your children to have certain responsibilties and behave in a certain way, to start working for the familiy or for others when they become old enough (possibly to make their own money), volunteer to help others, and respect their parents, family, others, and themselves.

Beyond that, it just depends on the situation.

I've seen some bad parenting, though. It usually involves anger, psychosis, manipulation, spoiling, irrationally defending their child, drug use, etc. If you or your child is the common thread in problems, it's probable that you or your child are at fault. If you can't handle things, get outside help. And if your kid is exhibiting bad or dangerous behavior to themselves or others, get help.

JamesHurburgh 1 day ago 2 replies      
I couldn't read more than a paragraph of this article it's so ridiculous. The idea that positive reinforcement is a radical idea? Ridiculous. The idea that you can ignore destructive behaviour until it goes away? Ridiculous.

It's about addressing the situation. As a parent the best thing is when I get to positively reinforce my child's behaviour, because it means I've seen them do something wonderful. (Helping a sibling, taking initiative, etc.) But if I didn't stop them when they are throwing toys at their little brother or sister then we've got bigger problems.

ivanhoe 12 hours ago 4 replies      
This is possibly a good long term approach, but what to do when you need to put the situation under the control quickly, and kids just don't cooperate? I had such experience when my 4yo kid was at some point fascinated by kitchen stove, turning the gas knobs on/off. It's just something that you can't slowly teach him not to do, you need to draw the line right away, for his own safety. You can't reason with kid that small, and it's too dangerous to let him learn the lesson by trying, so you just have to scare him out of it.
biofox 1 day ago 6 replies      
"Sarah, put on the green coat or the red sweater. We're going to go out, okay?" Choice among humans increases the likelihood of compliance. And choice isn't important, it's the appearance of choice that's important. Having real choice is not the issue, humans don't feel too strongly about that, but having the feeling that you have a choice makes a difference.

This was the main take away for me. It seems like it might be useful for managing employees / colleagues too.

agarden 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I like some of the ideas in this article, but brushing off punishment as ineffective seems short-sighted.

For parents with kids who end up at a clinic because of problem behavior, punishment is ineffective. There is a selection bias going on here. Punishment, as noted in the article, is the first go-to for most parents. In situations where that works, they don't end up at a clinic for problem behavior.

If the first go-to for parents were offering shallow choices and rewarding desirable behavior, clinicians would probably find that problem behavior can't be solved that way. They might even be finding that the most effective way to deal with problem behavior is to just punish it immediately and decisively.

In other words, there is a large toolkit to be used to solve behavioral problems. Different tools work in different situations.

xbryanx 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're implementing the 'positive reinforcement over negative' approach into your life, it's important to trust the large body of research that demonstrates its effectiveness. Be skeptical of your own internal perception of its effects. I find that when I'm working to make positive reinforcement work, the outlier failures stand out so much larger in my mind. I struggle to understand that it's working in the long run despite my infrequent emotional reactions of anger, frustration, failure, etc.

There's some fascinating reading on the cognitive biases that are at play here in Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

coryfklein 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As a parent of 3 boys, something the article doesn't mention is that "time out" is very often not used as a punishment, but just as a strategy to help the parent gather their senses.

When you have several kids screaming and breaking things, it's extremely unlikely you'll have the mental capacity to react in a positive healthy manner. Separating the children and doing a 5-minute time out gives just enough time for me to breathe and gather my senses. Then I'm much more likely to follow up with positive parental strategies.

Usually something like, "Oh you stayed in your room quietly for the whole 5 minutes! Great job, I love you so much. Give me a hug. I'm sorry daddy was so stressed and we had to do a time out. Why don't we read a book to help us all feel better?"

That kind of 5-minute break + positive dialog almost always results in a 180 degree change in mood in the house.

bsder 1 day ago 2 replies      
"No negative reinforcement" is what gives us kids that run screaming around in restaurants and stores. Sorry, I disagree with an absolute ban.

As a parent, I think that there is something far more important than positive or negative reinforcement. In my opinion, the fact that the child should believe at a very deep level that you are far more stubborn than they are is the single most important thing.

Without that, the child knows they can avoid the consequences altogether.

ThrustVectoring 1 day ago 1 reply      
How you modify your children's behavior is beside the point, IMO. What's really important is whether the modification is in the child's best interest, or merely convenient or beneficial to the parent.

Some folks get it and won't fuck up their kids too badly, even with bad technique. Others don't and will do lasting harm, even without using abusive techniques to get compliance.

Dagwoodie 1 day ago 6 replies      
This article is dangerous. On the surface it may sound good, but there is behavior so vile and harmful to the child, family or neighbors that never showing negative reinforcement is extremely dangerous with some children.

It does have some merits though, showing plenty of positive reinforcement will likely reduce the amount of negative reinforcement needed.

tzs 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Punishment might make you feel better, but it wont change the kids behavior. Instead, he advocates for a radical technique in which parents positively reinforce the behavior they do want to see until the negative behavior eventually goes away.

The first sentence as written is incomplete. Of course punishment changes behavior. This is well established through a long line of experiments going back to the 1940s or earlier. To complete the sentence, there should be a "permanently" added to it somewhere, since the association between the punishment and the behavior wears off over time.

The association between positive reinforcement and behavior also wears off over time, but that is easy to maintain by occasionally rewarding the good behavior. You don't have to reward it every time. You might reward frequently when trying to to teach the good behavior and then you can decrease the frequency.

I think a good way to think of reward and punishment is that reward encourages repeating the behavior that is rewarded, whereas punishment encourages not repeating the behavior that is being punished. When you punish a bad behavior, that doesn't necessarily lead toward good behavior. It could simply lead to different bad behavior.

That's not to say that there is no room for punishment of bad behavior. Rather, it should depend on how bad the behavior is. If the behavior is something that is very bad, in the sense that it seriously harms people or animals or causes major economic damage, then punishment might be appropriate. For instance, if you have a kid who has taken to lighting cats and dogs (or smaller children) on fire, then severe immediate punishment might be appropriate, to get that behavior to stop now. That gives you a window until the association between the bad behavior and the punishment wears off to try to reward enough good behavior that the kid won't have time to go back to the bad behavior later.

Elvie 17 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not about punishing, it should be about discipline - discipline comes from teaching - we should be teaching our children in every situation and not punishing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_discipline"The word discipline is defined as imparting knowledge and skill, in other words, to teach"

I have a nearly 5yo and a nearly 2yo and i have to admit it has been tough, but we have managed without time outs and punishments and spankings

I grew up afraid of "the slipper" and "the wooden spoon" and don't have a good relationship with my parents and do not want that to my children

we practise time in, instead of time out when you leave the child by themselves and they don't have the maturity to realise what they have done wrong, we remove them from the situation and sit with them and explain what the issue was after they have calmed down - as talking to them mid-tantrum will not have any effect as they won't be able to process anything we say

dpandey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
The core of the article is hard to disagree with: positive reinforcement is much more important effective than punishment.

But what if the kid just doesn't want to do what you want to reinforce? Just repeating your preferred choices aren't going to work. Kids are not stupid: they can tell that you're just trying to ignore what they want and push your choices. They'll frequently resist either actively or passively.

My approach to my son is: I praise him when he does something that looks right to me. When I disagree, I argue and reason with him like an adult. I try to project him on the receiving end to show how he's being unreasonable.

A large part of it is just understanding the kid's temperament and style of thinking and finding out effective ways of dealing with it through experimentation. A lot of empathy. When they see you're trying to understand their frustration they become more thoughtful.

This article has many good ideas but generalizing them sounds like an immature approach.

nitwit005 1 day ago 1 reply      
This sort of thing needs a part 2: "What to do when you child sees through your tricks".

I'm not joking about that one. It will happen. Even pets figure out some training techniques, causing them to stop being effective.

kriro 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Step 0: Always treat your kid like an actual human being (apply Kant).

Step 1: Identify if your kid leans introvert or extrovert (lemon squeeze at a very young age seems to work but it shouldn't be hard to figure it out with other methods).

Step 2: Structure the reward structure accordingly. Guess what, some kids want to go to the zoo and some kids would rather play with Legos by themselves.

Hot fixes like providing choices to give an incentive to go outside seem a bit broken to me. I'd much rather provide a good reason to go outside (or figure out that the child actually wants to stay inside and...stay inside).

tl;dr: If in doubt spend more time with the child. I feel very strongly that as a parent the thing you should optimize for is "will this allow me to spend more time with the child?" If you are already in a rush in the morning to make your important meeting there's a fundamental flaw in your approach.

jernfrost 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Many interesting comments here. I think to a large part I came to the conclusions in this article myself by trial and error. I agree as someone said here that you have to really become a student of your child. Don't just try the same old rubbish that doesn't work. Try other approaches and make mental notes of what works.

I don't naturally get angry, so I simulated anger just to see if it worked. My experience is that anger and scolding sort of kind of works but is very inefficient and often has diminishing returns. You reach a point where simply getting more angry doesn't work. Quite the opposite it just makes things worse.

I was positively surprised by how much more efficient positive reinforcement was. Just a little bit could often create a lot bigger change than lots of screaming and shouting could produce.

The problem is that it is often far more complicated to do. It requires more thinking, because it is not always obvious what the opposite of the bad behavior is and when you should praise.

E.g. my second child would go ballistic on the changing table. It became almost completely impossible to put him there because he had so many negative associations from being held in place while being changed. I realized I had to make it into a positive experience. My solution was to bring him there when he didn't need clothing or diaper changes and only put him there to do fun things. Gradually I got him to think positively about lying on the changing table, and then I could actually start praising him for complying with getting changed. But just realizing I had to take him there to do something entirely different from what the purpose of the changing table is wasn't obvious to me at first.

So my advice is, try to figure out how you child thinks. A lot of this comes down to having empathy with your child and seeing the world from their perspective. Once you know that you can more effectively employ various best practices.

guest2143 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This book really helped me address problem behavior:


When you can sing a couple and the kid puts away their shoes, it makes it feel like magic.

carsongross 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's thought to be very adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint. If you have a partner, significant other, or a child, if they do 10 nice things, that 11th one that you didn't like, you're going to really be all over.

One wonders how, if it doesn't work, it was so adaptive.

anotherhacker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone who writes this kind of stuff needs to disclose that:

1) They are a parent.2) They have used their suggested technique on their own children.

sciurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
For more information, here is the website for the center run by tge psychologist being interviewed: http://yaleparentingcenter.yale.edu/
riffraff 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't understand: how do you reinforce behaviour that is the default?

Do you tell your kids every minute "I appreciate you didn't break the window/throw the glass on the floor/pour milk on the carpet/put play-doh in the washing machine"?

I get that it works for clearly delimited things like "put on your clothes properly" or "don't make a mess during dinner" but that doesn't cover 90% of the time that I need to tell my daughter "don't do that" :( .

employee8000 1 day ago 0 replies      
My youngest is not motivated by rewards or punishment. He just doesn't care. If I reward him with something good, he will accept it, but the loss of the reward will not motivate him to do things. Similarly he won't like being punished but the punishment won't stop him from doing things that he wants to. His teachers told us the same thing, which creates problems because when he decides he wants to misbehave, there's nothing that will motivate him to behave until he chooses to behave.

I don't spank him, but I'll give him timeouts but I've come to terms with the fact that he is motivated by different things than other kids. The techniques in the article won't work for my child at all. Hopefully he will mature and we can reason with him in other ways.

manarth 1 day ago 3 replies      
So much of this sounds like "control".

 > "it's BF Skinner's Operant Conditioning" > "Choice increases the likelihood of compliance" > "There are a whole bunch of things that happenand you can get the child to comply"
Most parents would want the best for their child, but there's a massive gulf between wanting the best for someone, and using psychological tricks to force them into complying with expectations.

agentgt 14 hours ago 1 reply      
We are about 3-4 days (due the 7th) away from having our first child and this article is a terrifying reminder of what is to come.

I have a rather good temperament and equanimity (ironic given the above) but my wife despite being brilliant sadly does not (in all other things she is superior to me).

Luckily we have a very good behavioral therapist and or already familiar with the psychology of punishment/reward. That being said my wife's biggest fear is having a child with the same temperament as she does.

KaiserPro 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a yes, but.

You must re-enforce the behaviour you want, however you can't tolerate bad behaviour.

You are not there to be friends with your kid. If the child has hit you, sit it in time out.

Why is this good? A) the child learns that it wastes time, and b) it puts space between you and your child. reduces the chance of antagonising each over.

On the flipside you must take an interest in your child.

manmal 1 day ago 1 reply      
My fiance recently graduated in psychology, and we have two kids. This article basically mirrors our current sentiment of how we want to raise our kids.

I have one thing to add: Don't beat yourself up if you fail to do it right. After things escalated, talk to the kid honestly, tell her what you felt, and ask her what she felt. And try to do it better the next time over.

rm_dash_rf 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Have kids. Validate their feelings. Set boundaries. Enforce boundaries. Talk with your kids. Teach them. Don't try to change them. Embrace them.

Spanking and timeouts are not required for this.

kstenerud 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What this teaches your kid is that there are no consequences to selfishness and antisocial behavior.
hyperpallium 1 day ago 0 replies      
How can this be applied to internet forums?

In the early/ier days of HN, one response to an unsubstantiated comment was "Can you elaborate?", which shows interest, respect, and gives guidance - instead of a blind downvote (numerically negative feedback).

Mz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Choice increases the likelihood of compliance. And choice isn't important, it's the appearance of choice.

Oh, ha ha ha. Maybe for some kids, but not for most high IQ kids. They tend to not fall for that, recognize they are being gamed and "what's good for the goose (parent) is good for the gander (offspring)." So let the games begin! Because they will take that and run with it.

That sort of manipulative crap isn't even good parenting. It's a nice trick sometimes, but it is often badly misused by parents who have no real intentions of doing right by their kids and are just trying to figure out what's most convenient for the parent.

sunjain 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was explained very well decades back in "Punished By Rewards" - one of the most useful book I've read.
balabaster 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Having only read part of the article and having gone through toddler years with 2 kids having ADHD and ODD my only insights are:

Get good at child psychology the art of manipulation. You're a team against the kids - keep up a united front, regardless of your marital situation. If you don't learn to manipulate those kids into doing what you want, they will very quickly learn to manipulate you into doing what they want. If you don't consistently maintain a united front, they will play one of you off against the other, every. single. time. and one of you will become the enemy they hate and the other their best friend. This isn't fair to the parent that ends up the enemy and is detrimental to their relationship.

Some kids are easy going laid back and compliant. Most of them have their own free will and will largely do what they want, regardless of what you want them to. Get used to not having complete control at all times, because if you try and maintain control at all times, one thing I can guarantee is that your kids will feel powerless and ultimately begin to despise you.

Give them compassion and understanding and try to give them enough rope to run without hanging themselves. YouTube has plenty enough videos to scare the crap out of them from doing stupid shit that will hurt or kill them. It's also got a great many videos that will inspire and educate them. It's a great tool. Use it as liberally as you need.

I can count on one hand the number of times my kids have been spanked. They're now 8 and almost 7. Those spankings yielded almost zero result and reflects more on my inability to maintain control of myself under the stress they put me under than their behaviour. All it did was exacerbate already intolerable behaviour. Did they deserve it? Yes. Did it yield the result I wanted? No. Should I have held my temper? Probably. The fact that it didn't yield the result I wanted says it was a futile exercise. It didn't teach them anything, they didn't respect me for it, they feared me for it. Do I want my kids to fear me? Absolutely not. Plus, they were some age less than 8 and 6. They're expected to act out. They're kids. I'm an adult, I should be able to control myself better - and I largely do.

No amount of framing decisions to stimulate cooperation work. No amount of forcing them to comply works. Neither one of them seem to have any sense of guilt unless they think they've really hurt you and you show them real honest vulnerability... and you can't show that card too often or they'll just think you're unable to stand up for yourself and then they'll never learn to respect you.

Okay, so there's not so much advice there. But I'll tell you, every kid is different. Some tools work on some and have counter effects on others. You need an arsenal of techniques and you need to pick and choose them for each situation, like a Marine, you don't take the same tools into every operation, you pick the best tool in your arsenal to complete your mission.

Sometimes spanking will work on some kids, other times it will just make the situation ten times worse. Sometimes timeout will work, other times it'll just drag out the torture for both of you. Sometimes shutting down the argument and dictating how things are going to happen is the only way. Other times, you just have to pick your battles and say to yourself - does the outcome of this situation even really matter? Why do I feel the need to argue and enforce my will here? If you're worried about how they dress reflects on you, let them watch shows like "What not to wear" so they learn a sense of style. But honestly, they're kids, does it really matter? Their friends will tell them if they look like an idiot. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing.

Sometimes the easiest path is just relinquishing control of everything inconsequential and only controlling the things that really matter: Don't let them hurt or kill themselves or anyone else and don't let them damage or destroy anything that doesn't belong to them.

andrewclunn 1 day ago 0 replies      
How to get your kids to do the right thing, convince them that it's the right thing to do. Child too young / stupid to understand moral or ethical questions? Try not to fuck them up too much while you hope they grow out of it.

That's what all these things boil down to. I get that a huge part of good parenting is not letting the, "Why don't you understand?!" frustration get to you. All this advice comes from a place of not wanting parents to beat their kids. The experts should perhaps realize that their own conescending, obviously taken too far advice only serves to make parents not trust them. Of course seeing that would require that they understand the human psychology they insist underlies their advice.

simplexion 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why do so many of these child psychologists not have children of their own?

Edit: This is hyperbole. I am talking about this particular child psychologist not having children. I understand it doesn't mean he might not have a great understanding of how a child's mind works but it means he has never had the stress of raising a child and knowing how hard it is to keep your cool with them. Especially when they are as energetic as my own children.

dang 1 day ago 5 replies      
(Edit: I'm detaching this from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13101402 and marking it off-topic. That example wasn't a clear enough one to make the point about, because the commenter wasn't being snarky or doing anything particularly wrong. Maybe next time it comes up more clearly I'll try again.)

I know it's nitpicky, but please don't use quotation marks when you're not quoting, and especially not when putting words in someone's mouth for rhetorical effect. (That generally isn't a great thing to do either, but was harmless in this case because you did it to praise, not denounce.)

We ask this, partly because the internet is stateless and text fragments are prone to misinterpretation, but also because it's one of those things that subtly degrade substantive discussion.

beedogs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow. Add The Atlantic to the growing list of sites I'll never visit anymore, thanks to what must be the world's most obnoxious ad-begging landing/redirect page I've seen in my entire life. Totally objectionable.
davedx 1 day ago 3 replies      
Positive reinforcement is hardly "radical".
e-we 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What? Would this be news to anyone 2016?
msimpson 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's kind of ironic that this is the most apt way to train pets, as well.
eltoozero 22 hours ago 0 replies      
My Mom "fined" me, taking away or reducing my allowance.

If all the punishments I could have endured, this really worked.

johanneskanybal 23 hours ago 1 reply      
That this could be considered "controversial" 2016 is just mind blowing to me.
c3534l 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I recall there was a bit of a reaction against the strictness of Victorian parenting in the 1800s that advocated essentially this. That children are precious little things who should be allowed freedom and not be punished. Those kids were known to have serious impulse control issues as adults and often had difficulty working in structured or formal environments like offices or courthouses. So it strikes me that if you're never going to give time outs for uncontrolled and inappropriate or destructive behavior, then you need to replace it with something significantly more powerful than what is being offered in the article. I think the psychologist is taking the position that positive reinforcement is better than negative and taking it to an extreme that I have a seriously hard time believing will be beneficial to the long-term mental health of the child.
AndrewKemendo 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The most successful, caring, well educated and thoughtful people I know came from the worst upbringings. They grew up in households with abusive parents, homelessness as a child and general chaos.

At the same time the biggest burnouts, felons, drug-addicts and the like that I know personally (and in the statistics) came from ... the worst upbringings. They grew up in households with abusive parents, homelessness as a child and general chaos.

On the flip side, most of the people I know who were raised in peace, calm, consistent love, and wealth are generally pretty middling and while they live a fine life aren't really making huge impacts as I see from group 1 above. Maybe it's that the story isn't as compelling so we don't read about those as much. Chalk it up to sampling error.

From a social scientist perspective, group 3 is the ideal upbringing because it's consistent and the lower bound outcome is generally still desirable.

However there is just something about the ridiculous struggle that seems to either make diamonds or spent coal. From the perspective of population distribution for groups 1 and 2 it's overwhelmingly spent coal that comes out, but that 1% that becomes diamonds are really spectacular.

My Favorite Books of 2016 gatesnotes.com
272 points by taylorwc  5 hours ago   74 comments top 14
knz 4 hours ago 4 replies      
"Honorable mention: The Grid, by Gretchen Bakke. This book, about our aging electrical grid, fits in one of my favorite genres: Books About Mundane Stuff That Are Actually Fascinating. "

The author of this book was on NPR/Fresh Air in August. It was a great listen/read if you are interested in the subject.


I heard it a couple of days after a weather related power cut and ended up in the rabbit hole of the risk from cyber warfare/terrorism and solar flares. I'm not sure I would recommend that rabbit hole if you have any concerns about the reliance of society on technology and just in time shipping!

roymurdock 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I really like the way he limits his list to 4 books. Most other thought leaders/influencers/CEOs do lists of 10, 20 "hot topic" books that you know they probably haven't read. I find the volume also diminishes the individual importance of each book on the list.

I'll have to pick up String Theory (I love that Bill Gates reads DFW) and The Grid per his recommendations.

jackfrodo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Awesome to see DFW on HN. Infinite Jest's tennis scenes helped shape the way I view the world. There's one particularly great one where a father is giving some life lessons to his son via tennis. And it is excellent Here's a link to (most of) the scene: https://books.google.com/books?id=Nhe2yvx6hP8C&pg=PT200&lpg=...
bduerst 3 hours ago 6 replies      
Side topic: Does anyone know any good podcasts that fit his genre of Podcasts About Mundane Stuff That Are Actually Fascinating"?
wowsig 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
So many book recommendations. Really suggest people to create the list of books they read in 2016 over at http://shelfjoy.com so that others can bookmark them and this thread is kept alive.
40acres 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Shoe Dog might have been my favorite read of the year, its a very inspiring and highly entertaining story. Regardless of what you think of Nike you can learn a lot about determination and grit from this book. I would recommend it to anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
ericzawo 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I can confirm Shoe Dog is an incredible book. Bill's summation is right - a how-to on building a company this is not, but it's still very much worth reading.
kirk211 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Here is my list:

- Endurance: The story about an expedition to Antartica... gone wrong (http://amzn.to/2g26L5i)

- Crucial conversations: Learn how to argue with people without starting fights. Allowed me to look at the situation more objectively (http://amzn.to/2h8w4yN)

- Making of the atomic bomb (http://amzn.to/2gJF6VU)

- Relentless: the personal coach of Michael Jordan talks about how you can become a cleaner. Great if you want to understand how great athletes think (http://amzn.to/2gJCerW)

- Make: rockets. Some cool stuff to do with the kids (http://amzn.to/2gZyQaQ)

- How to make a spaceship: The history of the Ansari XPRIZE. Interesting read about how hard it was to build this spaceship. (http://amzn.to/2h8xMzY)

rubicon33 2 hours ago 6 replies      
I wonder, did he read this much when he was founding Microsoft? I ask because, as someone who would love to read, I feel like I never have the time. And strangely, I feel morally guilty for prioritizing other things like career growth etc.
billconan 2 hours ago 2 replies      
sigh, as an engineer, I don't seem to have time to read books.

Did he read this many books before retirement?

qwertyuiop924 2 hours ago 0 replies      
While these all do look like excellent books, none of them really seem to be of particular interest to me.

Except maybe "The Grid". Technical infrastructure is always fascinating and awe-inspiring.

...Which brings me to one of the two books that I reccomend on HN every time the subject comes up, because they're just that good.

Exploding the Phone, a fascinating dive into the world of phone phreaking that really needs more attention. It not only discusses the people and culture of the phreaking scene, but also the technology that drew them to the phone. It really manages to capture a bit of the magic that entranced people of the time: If you're not a little bit in awe of the A4 crossbar switch by the end of it... You should be.

ggregoire 3 hours ago 4 replies      
The content of the blog seems blocked by uBlock Origin. (More precisely: the scripts from gatesnotes.com, and the content is loaded in JS)
anonbanker 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Another great list from billg.

I consider Bill Gates to be a modern eugenicist, and quite possibly one of the most damaging influences on technology, vaccines (I'm pro-vax), and education. But here I am, reading another list of his favorite books of the year. They're always interesting.

ForrestN 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Flagged for undesirable ideas/politics:

"Myth of the Strong Leader, by Archie Brown. This years fierce election battle prompted me to pick up this 2014 book, by an Oxford University scholar who has studied political leadershipgood, bad, and uglyfor more than 50 years. Brown shows that the leaders who make the biggest contributions to history and humanity generally are not the ones we perceive to be strong leaders. Instead, they tend to be the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiateand recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers. Brown could not have predicted how resonant his book would become in 2016."

PouchDB, the JavaScript Database That Syncs pouchdb.com
306 points by dkarapetyan  1 day ago   87 comments top 16
PaulMest 1 day ago 4 replies      
I've been using PouchDB in a React Native app for about 6 months with SQLite as its backing store so that we can use more than 50MB of storage on the device. It has been working pretty well to persist data into an offline cache and then sync to a CouchDB 2.0 database in Digital Ocean.

Getting it to work inside React Native was initially very challenging. Keeping our shim up to date with the recent changes to PouchDB has also been challenging. We are currently using PouchDB 5.4.5 because there was a breaking change in 6.x and I haven't had a chance to dive into it to figure out what is going wrong.

The PouchDB community (especially Nolan Lawson) does a great job of showing examples, answering questions, and responding to feedback.

ojanik 1 day ago 4 replies      
We've been running PouchDB in production for ~15 months now. We chose it because it was a greenfield project and it gave us 2 things: Easy offline support and real-time syncing that makes it easy to create collaboration a-la Google Docs. Because the entire thing is a web app with app cache manifest deploying new versions is very little hassle.

In terms of architecture we have about 250 tenants with separate Couch databases per each. We're still running Couch 1.6. We have yet to evaluate Couch 2.0.

It's been mostly smooth ride for the most part but this being a very unusual architecture we had to tackle few interesting problems that came along.

1. Load times. Once you get over certain db size the initial load time from clean slate takes ages due to PouchDB being super chatty. I'm talking about 15-30 mins to do initial sync of 20-30mb database. We had to resort to pouch-dump to produce dump files periodically. That helped a lot. I think this issue has been rectified with Couch 2.0 and sync protocol update.

2. Browser limits. Once we hit the inherent capacity of some browsers (namely Safari on iOS, 50mb) we had to get creative. Now we're running 2 CouchDB databases for each tenant where 1 has full data and the other only contains last 7-8 days. Pouch syncs to the latter one. We run filtered replications between the full db and the reduced db and do periodic purging. On the client side if a customer tries to go back more than 7 days we just use the Pouch in online only mode where it acts as a client library to remote couch and doesn't sync locally.

3. Dealing with conflicts. This might matter or it might not depending on the domain but you have to be aware of data conflicts. Because CouchDB/PouchDb is eventually consistent multi-master setup and you will get data conflicts where people update the same entity based on the same source revision. PouchDB has nice hooks to let you deal with this but you have to architect for it.

4. Custom back-end logic. Because Pouch talks directly to Couch you can't exactly execute custom back-end logic when needed. We had to introduce a REST back-channel to make sure our back-end runs extra logic when needed.

5. We had some nasty one-off surprises. Last one was with an object that had 1700 or so revisions in couch and once it synced to PouchDB it would crash the Chrome tab in a matter of seconds. Due to the way PouchDB stores revision tree (lot's of nested arrays) Chrome would choke during JSON.parse() call and eat up memory until crash. We resolved this one by reducing the revision history limit that is kept.

daleharvey 1 day ago 3 replies      
Surprised to see this on HN, but I am one of the maintainers of this (I expect Nolan will end up finding this too) so happy to answer any questions about it.
awjr 1 day ago 1 reply      
For one of the best uses of PouchDB that blew my mind when I read about it, read this http://www.pocketjavascript.com/blog/2015/11/23/introducing-...
rahilsondhi 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm interested in PouchDB to make my JavaScript app easily sync to the server, but I don't want to switch my server's database from Postgres to CouchDB. Surely I'm not the only one in this situation?
aeharding 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been running PouchDB + CouchDB 2.0 in production for a while now (financier.io). It's worked great, and I really recommend you to check it out. A couple things:

1. CouchDB 2.0 is still rough around the edges, particularly with its new Fauxton interface (ex: completely broken when proxied into subfolder).

2. CouchDB 2.0 brings the _bulk_get API which has improved sync by an order of magnitude(s).

3. I do have custom logic for logging in overriding the _session API in order to do rate limiting. (I proxy with nginx for IP rate limiting and node.js for failed password attempts rate limiting.) I also have custom logic for provisioning a new CouchDB database per user and setting up permissions.

4. I host on Digital Ocean but I use their new block storage solution so that a growing db does not become unwieldy/expensive.

5. My SaaS subscription system is kind of unique: When your subscription expires you'll simply lose write access to the server (CouchDB), but you can still pull down your data to PouchDB.

espeed 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Datomic-ClojureScript in the browser backed by PouchDB would be killer.

Datomic already has a CouchDB-compatible datastore via its support for Couchbase. That would mean Datomic-ClojureScript on PouchDB could run in the browser and sync with Datomic-Clojure backed by CouchDB/Couchbase on the the server -- that would be killer and give Datomic massive reach.

Has the Datomic team considered PouchDB as a possible datastore for Datomic-ClojureScript in the browser?

NB: Just posted the question to the Datomic discussion group: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/datomic/uqBQE4QlnzI/VuZ14pqO...

azr89 21 hours ago 1 reply      
We've been using Pouch in a progressive web app designed to be used on the field in remote locations, and while there was a learning curve in understanding how the replication protocol works, and as highlighted in another comment the way Chrome stores data for a web app - we can't be happier with pouch/couch.

Additionally, moving out of Cloudant and into CouchDB with an openresty based reverse proxy has made things even better, and really fun. This is one of those stacks that feels easy and simple at the same time. (Ref:https://www.infoq.com/presentations/Simple-Made-Easy).

mike-cardwell 1 day ago 4 replies      
Anyone use this system in production? Care to share your experiences?
imtringued 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Could I in theory host my own pouchdb instance to keep using applications that are no longer supported by their vendors? Imagine an IoT vendor uses pouchdb shuts down. My devices don't work anymore but I can host my own pouchdb instance. A javascript based database is a bit heavy but it's an acceptable tradeoff to me.
krrishd 1 day ago 4 replies      
My bad if the answer is obvious but (besides backward compatibility/shims + abstraction), what's the benefit of using PouchDB as opposed to vanilla localStorage functionality?
cyberferret 1 day ago 0 replies      
Been experimenting with PouchDB for a while and really liking the simplicity of the project. Looking to implement it in a mobile hybrid app to allow users to take data 'offline' then sync up later.

The only downside I've found so far is that the PouchDB Inspector on my Chrome browser tends to go rogue from time to time and suck up > 50% of the CPU time and has to be shutdown manually.

ioquatix 1 day ago 2 replies      
Since when did arguments become functions?

IMHO, should be

 db.replicate(to: 'http://example.com/mydb');

crooked-v 20 hours ago 1 reply      
PouchDB's replication capability is interesting, but is there a way to make it lazy load to the local DB instead of doing everything up front? I hesitate to use it for a web project with 10+ MB of docs where it would otherwise be ideal.
dmihal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool library! I'm a huge fan of Meteor.js, which provides a similar isomorphic database. Cool to see this implemented in such a lightweight package!
daurnimator 1 day ago 2 replies      
I really love the project, but I never used it in production due to the large file size :(
Azure Jupyter Notebooks azure.com
287 points by douche  18 hours ago   122 comments top 30
smortaz 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Hi folks - Thanks for taking a look at Azure notebooks. Here's some background info:

What is it?

It's an offshoot of Azure ML Studio which has Jupyter support. We asked the powers that be if we could also instantiate it also as a free service - "yes" was the answer.

Who is it aimed at?

Students, faculty, casual users, folks that want to give webinars, classrooms, etc & want to skip software install headaches.

What does it support?

Currently R, Py2, Py3, F#. Python is backed by the Anaconda distro. More kernels will be added based on user feedback. Environment runs on Linux/docker.

Is it free?


I need an account?

Not to view content (a la nbviewer). To run, create notebooks, etc. you need a Microsoft account (xbox, outlook, hotmail, ...). Sample notebook to view (click on the eyeball):


I don't like the UI!

We are admittedly not UI people and are grateful to our summer intern for the current UI! Please send feedback to nbhelp@microsoft.com and we'll improve it!

[EDIT: additions:]

Can I get a bash prompt, install linux pkgs?

Yes! In Jupyter, you can click on Terminal & you are in bash (ubuntu).

Can I use pip, install.packages(), nuget, ... ?

In Python/R/F#, you can use each environment's pkg mgr to install pkgs. EG "!pip install pkg", install.packages("ggplot2"), etc. See Py examples here:


Is my environments saved?

Currently, your notebooks are saved based on your login. Proper data, load github repo, etc. support is coming.

For a bit more info, please view the faq:



reacharavindh 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Did not expect this to happen with Microsoft.

Giving away access to a public Jupyter Server (open source project)

Running it in Linux (Ubuntu) and letting users have a play with it.

I for one am super happy to play with it however long this lasts.

Some info so far.

!free -h

 total used free shared buff/cache available Mem: 55G 7.5G 26G 70M 21G 44G Swap: 99G 0B 99G
!uname -a

 Linux nbserver 4.4.0-51-generic #72-Ubuntu SMP Thu Nov 24 18:29:54 UTC 2016 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
Look! I can even install stuff I want from pip...

!pip install terminaltables

Collecting terminaltables Downloading terminaltables-3.1.0.tar.gzBuilding wheels for collected packages: terminaltables Running setup.py bdist_wheel for terminaltables ... - \ done Stored in directory: /home/nbuser/.cache/pip/wheels/96/0c/9a/0ec2bcad2ac1fb1d0e4695879386460cec1a947cd7413d1b17Successfully built terminaltablesInstalling collected packages: terminaltablesSuccessfully installed terminaltables-3.1.0You are using pip version 8.1.2, however version 9.0.1 is available.You should consider upgrading via the 'pip install --upgrade pip' command.

nickcw 15 hours ago 6 replies      
I've been experimenting with Jupyter notebooks recently so I thought I'd try uploading one I made which solves a wooden puzzle. It seemed to work just fine!


I had to host the images in the notebook elsewhere rather than upload them with the notebook. It looks like that is possible but then I'd have to grapple with Azure blobs...

AdamSC1 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I am a huge fan of Jupyter notebooks, the idea of being able to run my code easily alongside natural prose is crucial when telling the story of data.

But, Jupyter faces most of it's challenges in the word-editor part of their product rather than in the code part.

I'd love to see a partnership between them and the Eve programming language (http://witheve.com/) who have absolutely mastered the IDE interface in early renditions of their product.

I know a lot of people are against the concept of Eve from a purist perspective of code not needing to be humanized. But, one of the common goals in data is to communicate insights and solutions through visually crafted and accessible stories. I think there is still a long way we can come in that.

enricosada 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Awesome to see F# supported, based on OSS F# for Jupyter Notebooks (https://github.com/fsprojects/IfSharp) work.

It's really lovely when a tool written in another tech (Python there) can be used/extended with others stack/tech, because was written as language agnostic. That should be a rule for good design in oss tooling. Not starting using language specific communication, but extensibile from day0 in design (obv default language can be bundled)

closeparen 6 hours ago 2 replies      
One of my physics major friends uses a Chromebook (and a shitty Windows laptop he prefers not to deal with). I set up a DigitalOcean droplet for him to run Jupyter. One of the big problems is that it's not safe for him to share Jupyter notebooks by URL, since anyone to whom he discloses the web UI password gets remote code execution (exec and friends work).

A professionally maintained, sufficiently sandboxed Jupyter environment could be awesome for people who want to work on and share Jupyter notebooks, but not be responsible for servers.

mmsmatt 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Clicked link from IE11. Got this:

> "Internet Explorer is not supported by Jupyter: For best results use Microsoft Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or another modern browser."

This makes me so happy - MS products leaving old browsers behind gives all web developers a ball and bat in the same fight.

matt4077 17 hours ago 9 replies      
The concept of Jupyer Notebooks is absolute fantastic. The product, unfortunately, fails at the basics of being a text editor.

I'd wish the VSCode team could somehow integrate the concept. They seem to be excellent at execution.

(Or, if they finish their work on "html zones" (block decorators in atom), I'll start doing it myself)

rem1313 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Excited! Let's load some data and try it out!

Ok, let's use OneDrive to load data. Where is that option?

Nvm, let's use Dropbox instead. Does not work "Something went wrong. Please refresh the page."

Maybe Azure storage? Trying to sign-up, filled sign-up form, verified account via SMS, entered CC data. Nope! "Cannot proceed with signup due to issue with your account. Contact support". (tried multiple times)

Contacting support.. creating incident, describing the issue. When trying to attach screenshot I get "The file upload service server is not available at this time. Wait a few minutes and then try it again."

Seriously, Microsoft??

JayOtter 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Or, if you prefer your interactive notebooks not to rely on a backend service: http://www.joelotter.com/kajero/
hatmatrix 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Is this just a hosting solution for Jupyter Notebooks? Or does it add something to the standard Jupyter Notebooks?
rjbwork 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting. I just put some R code into production on Azure via MS R Server (DeployR), and it was not a particularly fun experience. I really want to see them do a hosted R service where we can just take these Jupyter Notebooks and expose it as a web service on a PAYG basis.
dandare 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I have not visited any Microsoft property for some time now and I have this strange feeling about the UX. Sadly I can not say if it is my deeply rooted aversion against everything Microsoft or if the UX is really odd.
anc84 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it possible to share them publically, without the need for a Microsoft account for the user?
asadm 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is amazing, I had set up a jupyter hub using some docker hacks to allow my students to access their own personal instance(running inside a new container) using github login. This might be a good low-cost alternative. Thanks Azure!
askvictor 16 hours ago 1 reply      
And today I was just about to spin up a jupyterhub server for my class...
tedmiston 10 hours ago 2 replies      
This is an awesome offering from MS.

I'm not sure I understand this bit though by "data" do they mean they'll delete a notebook not accesssed for 60 days?

> Storage: We reserve the right to remove your data from our storage after 60 days of inactivity to avoid storing unused/abandoned user data

stcredzero 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like a Microsoft hosted cloud based "Dynabook."


Is that what it basically is?

sixhobbits 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks really nice. I've always hated how buggy the free hosted Jupyter notebook services are, and setting up a remote server yourself is definitely not a one-click experience. Surprised to see how unrestricted this is (for now anyway). They'll probably see some abuse of the resources soon and add more restrictions. The "etc" from the restrictions section of the faq is pretty broad.

"Usage should be limited to learning, research, general computing, etc."

bargl 12 hours ago 0 replies      
OK this is freaking awesome. I've been working on some Machine Learning courses and they use Jupyter. I have the issue where whenever I switch computers I have to sync files and all that jazz. I'm so excited about this tool I can't even contain myself.
fonnesbeck 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems like they did something to the notebook interface to make it more responsive on tablets. I usually cannot manipulate Jupyter notebooks from an iPad, but I can here. Is this just a MS modification?
pjmlp 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Great to see F# on the samples list.
dobin 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty interesting as a tool to learn Python or other things. I'm intrigued.

I'm doing something similar with exploit development learning, but with a javascript based terminal and linux containers, and a markdown writeup (https://exploit.courses for anyone interested). But the close interaction of code and text in Jupyter is much more advanced, and useful :-)

mrmondo 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Sorry to sound cynical but haven't they taken something that's existed for a long time and spent money on marketing it to add / repair value to their brand? It feels a little obvious to me to be honest?
karl42 11 hours ago 1 reply      
There's also https://wakari.io/ by continuum analytics. Can anyone summarize the differences?
luzvioleta 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I use notebooks a lot, but with Julia. In any case, this is <3 amazing news !
FLGMwt 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Supported languages are: Python (2/3), R, F#
cbHXBY1D 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The "Import from Dropbox" feature is currently broken. Shame because it would be useful for data scientists...
tonyedgecombe 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Yet another product where I haven't got a clue what it is after reading the front page.
zargath 15 hours ago 1 reply      
just small bug

1: Click "sign in". 2: Choose account I want to signin with3: Click "cancel". 4: I get "500, Runtime Error" without custom error page.

Anyway, looks interresting

One Dollar Glasses Help for 150M people onedollarglasses.org
316 points by tiplus  3 days ago   114 comments top 23
Arcsech 3 days ago 20 replies      
Glasses are a total racket. Purchasing your glasses online is many, many times cheaper than going to Lenscrafters or basically any other brick & mortar store in the US. I've been buying online for years and they're every bit as good as usual ones. You do need your pupillary distance, but you either measure this yourself with the help of a friend, or ask your optometrist. If they refuse or tell you how evil buying glasses online is, get a new optometrist.

The best sites I'm aware of are:

http://www.zennioptical.com/ (what I use)



Johnny555 3 days ago 2 replies      
My glasses cost $39 from one of the many online cheap glasses makers. So now I have more money to donate to the $1 glasses campaign :)

Last time I got glasses, I tried a test, I bought the $300 glasses from my eye doctor ("only" $200 after insurance), and I bought a pair of $39 glasses online. I found no difference between the two other than price (and the ones I bought online arrived by mail the day before the expensive pair was ready from my eye doctor).

And I bought a second pair of backup glasses for less than my eye doctor wanted for his "lens protection insurance".

Though admittedly, I have a simple, low-power prescription (< -3.0, no astigmatism), so your milage might vary with a more complex prescription.

nickff 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic, and I will definitely be making a donation, but I think they would benefit from taking a page out of the Lucky Iron Fish book, and sending a pair of the glasses to donors who contribute 50 dollars or more. I have found the Lucky Iron Fish I have to be helpful in convincing others to donate, and I think having a pair of these glasses could similarly make the project more tangible to prospective donors.


sboselli 3 days ago 1 reply      
Why aren't these kind of hardware driven campaign fully open source?

Why is there not a pdf with plans and clear cut instructions on how to build the wire bender (which at 2500 Euros is absolutely insane)?

I understand using the money for funding more glasses makes sense, but in reality if your mission is for this hardware breakthrough to improve everyone's life all around the world, why hide and hog the design?

I'd like to build this in my machine shop in the other corner of the world, why send 2500 Euros to Germany? I just don't get it. It makes me think of ulterior motives and when that happens I quickly lose faith in the organization. Everyone loses, the cause itself being the most affected.

Animats 3 days ago 1 reply      
How do they do cylindrical axis with a small inventory of lenses and non-round lenses? The three parameters for lenses are spherical radius, cylindrical radius, and axis of the cylinder. A complete set of a good range in all three is large, which is what leads to custom lenses.

There's a known way to cut costs with round lenses. With round lenses, you can have a small inventory of premade lenses with only two parameters. The axis is set with a little notcher that makes a notch which locks it to a bump in the frame, so it can't rotate. These have been used in India for decades. There's an optical store in an attache case.

If the One Dollar Glasses guys only use 25 different lenses, are they just blowing off the cylindrical correction entirely? Are these just "readers" like the ones available cheaply at most drugstores? Those you can get on Alibaba for $0.75 each in bulk.[1]

[1] https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/Premade-Distance-Glas...

rosstex 3 days ago 0 replies      

Luxottica currently owns 80% of the eyeglass business

tiplus 3 days ago 0 replies      
The guy is a physics teacher who invented a small wire bending device which is used to make the glasses locally anywhere at material costs of 1$.
saboot 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's pretty amazing how much extra cost most glasses cost. And this comes at a very steep cost for most people. I've worked with a charity organization called Remote Area Medical (RAM) which provides free medical, dental, and vision care. Lots of people are there because they can no longer see, cannot get a job because of it, and thus have no money. RAM can create a vision prescription, prepare the lenses on the spot, and give a patient glasses for a cost of $15 in an hour, patients dont pay anything. We really need to do more in making cheap glasses more available to people in the US.

Here is one person's struggle in getting glasses while poor (clip from 2008, but we see this at clinics constantly) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TfraBGSGg8

randyrand 3 days ago 2 replies      
I got 4 pairs of glasses on amazon (needed the opposite of reading glasses which are hard to find in stores) for $8. I was pretty darn impressed by how cheap the free market is vs doctors offices.
HoyaSaxa 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is obviously a really admirable cause, and as someone who wears contacts, I couldn't imagine not having access to corrective lenses.

Just a word of caution to anyone considering making a donation, their donations page is not served over HTTPS. Their unsecured page renders an iframe [1] from their payment processor that is served over HTTPS though. I haven't tested it, but you should be able to make a donation securely via that link.

I reached out to them to let them know and offered some assistance.

[1] https://secure.fundraisingbox.com/app/payment?hash=UuYpAgAJ0...

Tempest1981 1 day ago 0 replies      
Related: work is also being done on a $1 microscope -- to identify disease in poor countries, and/or for education/classrooms. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/525471/the-1-origami-micr... andhttp://www.popsci.com/article/gadgets/origami-microscope-les...
fmavituna 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a bit (actually a lot) worrying that their donation page that you enter personal and credit card info is not over HTTPS. Possibly it will significantly decrease the donations they'll receive online.
ren01r 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am using prescribed glasses since I was in 3rd grade. I feel like I'm wasting money when I spend more than 1000 INR (around 15 USD) on glasses. I can't imagine spending 700 USD on glasses. I can live on that money for about 4 months with that money.
PinguTS 3 days ago 0 replies      
The comments are very interesting. I think glasses are a very specific issue. The question is: do want perfect view or just want to see something better.

For better view this is great.

But for the developed world it is not comparable. Either because the eyeglass frame should follow some trend, or the glasses itself needs some additional threatment.

For example, my glasses are 'cheap' even as I need special glasses. Yes, the diopter are different between left and right. But much more important is the parallax compensation for me. My optician exchanges the glasses even for free, if they don't fit. So online, is realy not an option.

dirkg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Buying glasses in Asia or online is so much cheaper than the scam run by Lenscrafters, most optometrists in the US. Its sold as a designer product where you spend $$$ on frames, the glass material with fancy treatments, and they charge you maybe 5-10x the actual costs.

I have ordered from Goggles4u, Zenni etc and these places must have razor thin profit margins, they always have coupons and its dirt cheap, never had issues with the quality of the lenses. You can always go to any optometrist/Costco etc and get the lens checked out to confirm.

StephenConnell 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have found purchasing glasses can be hit or miss weather I buy $600 glasses or less that twenty dollar glasses. I may miss a bit more with cheap glasses, but I can take a lot more shots.

I've used zennioptical.com and it has worked really well. I've run into frames that do not fit, but they were cheap mistakes and once I found something I liked, I just reorder every few years.

Paying attention to the frame measurements is pretty important if you buy online.

ohstopitu 3 days ago 0 replies      
I will definitely be donating. I've had glasses since I was 3 and I understand how expensive they can be. (as a kid, I used to break mine often and my parents would have to pay insane amounts of money to get new ones).

From what I understand, the frames themselves are just overpriced[0]

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7H-_8UkmFU

dingleberry 3 days ago 0 replies      
mass produced chinese glasses beat it first

i bought a dozen negative glasses for $15 five years ago at chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia; should be cheaper in china.

same model, same power, but can't choose color.

the retail is available so i can choose model, power, color, etc for $2 per glasses

I also bought a +4 glasses for less than $1, metal frame. positive glasses are cheaper maybe because there's less demand.

their quality depend solely on material, not price. my more stylish glasses (no-frame-around-glass, flexible handle) lasts about 3-6 months on heavy use. sturdier styles (harry-potter-styele, thicker plastic frame) lasted more than a year till my-then-baby-boy tore it forcefully from my face. my <$1 positive metal frame glasses seem to last forever.

nb: i wear positive lens everyday for my eye training and choose to no longer wear negative lens; therefore, i haven't bought any lenses for about three years; however, the prices are still about the same last time i checked at jakarta's chinatown.

dba7dba 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've heard that all these different brands in eye glasses industry are mostly owned by just a few holding companies. Hence the high price for everything related to eye glasses.

Never bothered to actually check but I remember hearing that in a podcast.

Namrog84 3 days ago 1 reply      
The site makes it look like exclusively a charity? I can donate and that means someone gets glasses. But can I buy them for myself or a friend as well? I couldn't find the answer (on mobile)
kefka 3 days ago 4 replies      
So, where can I buy high quality sunglasses (have 20/15 vision)? Obviously junk doesn't cut it, and I really don't want to feed the Luxottica monster.
rtfs 3 days ago 3 replies      
why are these glasses so cheap?
sangd 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wore cheap glasses for the last ~15 years, my eyes are still 20/20 the last time I checked which was ~3 months ago.
Leaflet: An open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps leafletjs.com
317 points by vmorgulis  2 days ago   70 comments top 23
katabasis 2 days ago 2 replies      
Leaflet is an amazingly powerful tool. As others have mentioned, it makes it easy to use a variety of sources for the underlying map tiles; in my case I was able to replace the modern-day base map with a map of the Roman Empire for an interactive academic publication[1].

Another great feature that doesn't get as much attention is Leaflet's ability to handle non-geographic images. In the same publication I'm also using it as a general-purpose deep zoom viewer for displaying artifacts[2]. It's great to just use a single library to handle all of this.

Kudos to the Leaflet developers for continuing to improve such a great library!

[1]: http://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/catalogue/ita...[2]: http://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/catalogue/1/

harry-wood 2 days ago 0 replies      
LeafletJS is awesome. It's an important open source offering within the OpenStreetMap ecosystem. If you're looking for an "OpenStreetMap API" for embedding a map, then you're looking for LeafletJS! ...or another one called OpenLayers, or various other lesser used options. You have a choice! With OpenStreetMap you also have a choice of where you get your map "tiles" from, or you can render and host them yourself. Check out this website which explains a lot more about the various options for making the switch to OpenStreetMap:


mourner 2 days ago 5 replies      
Leaflet author here. Thanks for the kind words everyone! A few core developers are here too. Ask us anything. :)
kh_hk 2 days ago 4 replies      
In my experience the best thing about Leaflet is the possibility of using CSS to style, transform and animate markers.

Shameless plug, see for instance this map using css 'explosions': https://citybik.es

nathcd 2 days ago 3 replies      
Here are three things I'd like to do with Leaflet, or generally just have from an online mapping tool:

1. Use WebTorrent[1] as the tile provider (would probably need a canonical WebTorrent server so that all tiles would always have at least one seeder).

2. A Progressive Web Map (teehee) so that users can store tiles offline and use the mapping service while offline. Obviously not a new concept but AFAIK there isn't a map provider that does it in the browser.

3. Client-side routing/navigation. This could start as a simple Dijkstra in JavaScript (like is demonstrated in [2]), but maybe could be made more powerful and capable soon with WebAssembly.

Is anybody working on these sorts of things? Is anybody interested in them? I've heard of peermaps[3] but it hasn't been updated in over 6 months. I'd be interested in contributing or teaming up with others on these sorts of things.

[1] https://webtorrent.io/

[2] https://christophercliff.com/dijkstra/

[3] https://peermaps.github.io/

buckhx 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite tricks with leaflet is to tie into the ontileload event. You can index your data by tile id or quadkey and seamlessly load your data in for the specific data that is in view.
nezza-_- 2 days ago 3 replies      
Works quite well (on iOS), really good work! Here is a small issue I experience on a lot of mobile sites with embedded maps and also on yours:

If I zoom the page outside of the map and then scroll so that the map fills the full screen there is no way to zoom out/get away from the map again. You will just scroll and zoom the map and eventually will have to reload the page.It also allows to scroll far out of bounds of the world which can be a bit confusing.

Waterluvian 2 days ago 1 reply      
Leaflet is awesome and what I'd recommend for any starter or simpler project. But also be aware of the existence of OpenLayers when your needs start to grow considerably. I find it much more featured and closer to a GIS than just a mapping interface.
simopaa 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Leaflet for about a year now for my map editor project (http://makemaps.online/) and it's been a pleasure. The community and the plugins are awesome, and the library itself is built well and performs nicely.
hopfog 2 days ago 0 replies      
Leaflet is really nice. I used it to render a big map of my drawing game ScribbleGrid:


I used Node.js Canvas to render a file of each room, ImageMagick morgify/montage to add grid borders as well as combine them into one big image and GDAL2Tiles to split the image up into parts in a "z / x / y" folder structure for Leaflet to fetch.

abustamam 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really love Leaflet as a tool, and the ecosystem is amazing, but I find integrating it within a React environment to be quite tough. I can integrate the react leaflet components pretty well but once I start doing things like using plug-ins (for edge markers or heat maps or something) then it's no longer easy to use, primarily because very few leaflet plug-ins use npm.

Is there an easy way to integrate leaflet plug-ins using react? My best attempt was to download the plug-in script and modify it such that it takes the Leaflet object as a parameter (instead of the IIFE) but this causes a lot of overhead for using plug-ins.

Any tips from a fellow react developer?

CalRobert 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm working on a project right now and using ui-leaflet for Angular, which sadly is getting pretty stale. I suppose it's not a huge surprise for an Angular 1 project, but it's still worth checking out if you use Angular and Leaflet.
danielbeeke 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like it very much, also the underlaying structure of extending and monkey patching inside the plugins is very useful.

Here are some maps we have made:https://green-giraffe.eu/projectshttp://www.danielbeeke.nl/inbraken-in-uw-buurt/#12/52.0553/5...

verandaguy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I worked on a Leaflet project a while back (about a year and a half ago). While the project didn't rely on Leaflet heavily enough to use all of its features, I've gotta say, it's ridiculously easy to use if you want to get something useful up and running.
socmag 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes Leaflet is just awesome. Vlad (Mourner) and the other contributors have done an amazing job at keeping focused on making leaflet super lightweight and really easy to use.

The stuff they are doing with MapBox is super awesome as well, especially the OpenGL work.

Deeply appreciate the effort.

chillly 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've just used Leaflet to create a map for a music festival. It was a joy to use, works well on mobile devices easy to deploy and has been well recieved. Thanks to @mourner and the team for superb library. Small, neat, well documented and changes are improvements not bloat.
jxm262 2 days ago 0 replies      
I made a Scala.js facade of this recently for my work :) It's still not _completely_ done, but covers alot of the API. If anyone's interested in Scala on the front end and would like to check it out - https://github.com/cibotech/leaflet-facade

Most of the stuff I saw online was for previous versions of Leaflet, I wanted to make something that uses this new release

drumttocs8 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anybody using Mapbox GL JS? Basically Leaflet with WebGL and some other useful tricks.
Kozmik1 2 days ago 1 reply      
We've been looking for a good bathymetric layer (with depth contours) for Leaflet. Has anyone done this?
draw_down 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really great. Especially if you've ever gotten stuck using an old, busted library like Polymaps.
mickael-kerjean 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to be heavy user of leaflet but the lack of webgl support is a non starter anymore comparing to mapbox gl.any plan to support this in the future?
leonatan 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one not getting retina tiles? On an iPhone 7 Plus, the map on leaflets.com looks terrible.
singularity2001 2 days ago 3 replies      
Doesn't work at all on desktop with blocked Twitter / Google
Ask HN: Are there any systematic and scientific ways to develop a habit?
317 points by sammyjiang  2 days ago   126 comments top 58
kstenerud 2 days ago 8 replies      
1. Build a routine. Set a specific, repeating time when you will do the thing in your calendar. Keep that slot clear, ALWAYS. Never let something interrupt this task.

2. Learn to say no. If someone wants you to do something else during this time slot, say no, and tell them why.

3. Never break the routine. Breaking it once makes it MUCH easier to break the next scheduled time. If you do break it, feel bad about it and get back on the horse IMMEDIATELY.

4. Use the power of accountability to reinforce the routine. If you can find someone who will hold you accountable, do it. Someone who does the routine with you, or a coach who will call you out if you make excuses.

5. One thing at a time. Don't build some huge routine of 15 tasks at once. Ease into it one task at a time.

6. Don't overload yourself. Leave time in your schedule for play. If it gets to be too much, decide CONSCIOUSLY which one you will drop permanently (and not right before the schedule to do it).

Edit: I'll also say this: Overcoming adversity builds discipline. A tough life that forces you to fight for what you want builds this naturally. An easy, carefree life doesn't make you tough. Seek out tough things to toughen yourself up.

katzgrau 2 days ago 6 replies      
Have a read, great book on the topic: https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081...

Systematic, definitely. Scientific? Not really sure, but I find it extremely effective. If I could boil it down to "what works" for me, it'd be:

- Pick a task or thing that you want to accomplish. Let's say running (mine is running/lifting).

- Pick a "cue," or something that signals when you perform said task. The more apparent the cue the better. Mine is waking up. Working out is the first thing I do.

- Follow this routine religiously for about 21 days. That's the magic number according to people who are into this kind of thing, and I agree. At this point you kind of forget what your old habit was when you woke up, and you naturally go to perform your new task.

And lastly, there will be some days when you don't want to perform the task. Do it anyway. A streak of not performing that task is really just the (re)formation of a bad habit.

serhatozgel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was the same and now, after reading a lot about these things, I believe I am able to actually develop habits I want. What worked for me:

- I stopped trying to develop all the habits at once and sticked to a single habit. Preferably the easiest one.

- I discovered I get used to doing something by repeating it a lot. For e.g. at the beginning, I was targeting doing yoga once a week because I was thinking that the more often I target, the more difficult it would be and I would fail. It did not work out because doing something once a week did not turn into a habit. Instead, I switched to doing 3 minutes of yoga, but every single day. And I did not target increasing it at all. After a period, I was automatically increasing it without noticing it.

- I cannot develop habits when my life is busy and unstable. For e.g. if I am not coming home at the same hour everyday, and targeting to read at the same time but missing it because I was not at home at that hour, it did not turn in to a habit. When I could do it at the same time everyday for a period, then it started to stick.

- I started giving a habit at least 3 months to develop. I reserve the next three months for a single habit, if I can do it, say 60 times in 90 days, I tend to stick to it after that period and am now able to add a new one, because the feeling of "I am now trying to develop a habit" disappears for the old one.

- Also I discovered that once I make something a habit, I can decrease the frequency and still able to stick with it. E.g. I developed a habit of running 3-4 times a week, now I want to do it once a week and I can easily stick to it.

DenisM 2 days ago 1 reply      
Couple of life-hacks to help you along:

- Pay for things. I'm been paying $400/month for fitness classes and rest assured I never missed one. Haven't even been late.

- Develop a single meta-habit: check your checklist. I have a morning checklist of things that I need to check off before I feel my morning is complete and my day is off to a good start. I don't forget my vitamins anymore.

- Talk things through with someone who listens. As you're talking out loud you will get a better perspective and ideas on how to make new habits stick will pop out of nowhere.

0xcde4c3db 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know of any "how to" type material, but the scientific topic here is operant conditioning. The basic idea is that you reward behaviors that are desired and/or punish behaviors that aren't desired. There's an interesting dichotomy, though: the fastest way to learn a behavior is to have a reinforcement (a reward or foregoing something unpleasant) that is consistently provided with/after the behavior and not at other times. However, the most effective way to maintain a behavior is for the reward to be provided at a random ratio to the behavior (but still only in conjunction with the desired behavior) [1].

A lot of people want to believe that humans are somehow "above" operant conditioning, but there's a lot of evidence that we aren't.

Language nitpick: the word you want is systematic [2].

[1] http://open.lib.umn.edu/intropsyc/chapter/7-2-changing-behav...

[2] http://www.public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/systemic.html

CapitalistCartr 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wanted a particular job; I wanted to get it and succeed at it once I had it. I wanted it more than any job I'd ever wanted. The commute was 44 miles, work started at 7 AM. I quickly realized I could eat breakfast, read the paper at home, then fight rush hour traffic, or reverse that and avoid rush hour. I searched and found a nice deli/diner 1.1 miles from work. That meant getting up at 4:30 AM, which meant going to bed at 8:30 PM. My (now ex) girlfriend picked a pointless fight with me at 8:20 twice the first week. But at 8:30 I went to bed.

All of this might sound crazy, but I wanted it badly, made it paramount, so all the rest flowed from that. If you really want your life to be different, decide what you want and accept the decisions that flow from the goal. People will get in your way, including yourself. I've had the weirdest effects myself of suddenly unable to focus on getting out the door, forgetting where my keys or such are, etc. But keep at it. Make the goal paramount, break through whatever bizzareness appears, and you'll have what you want.

mtw 2 days ago 0 replies      
The biggest challenges I found are distractions. It's easy to get going with running, reading or exercise but as long as TV is there, Netflix or the Internet, we are easily tempted to follow the easy path.

Once you get distracted by something, it's very easy to continue to be distracted. I'm thinking of binge-watching Netflix, or checking out the reddit front-page etc. After, we forget what is the work and what are the todos. Even if we have to go back to a productive state, then we are not in the zone, and it is still very easy to go back in distraction mode.

Based on all this, what worked for me was being productive right from the beginning. Waking up, I do something productive, often creative writing. When I begin to work, I do not check news or email. I start with a to-dos that are quick to do. You do a streak and then continue on the bigger todos. News, emails, blogs, social media are much later in the day, if at all.

In this framework, if I want to develop a new habit, I would wake up early and put 30mn of time into it. I won't open up my phone or have any social interaction before finishing it.

TheTaytay 2 days ago 1 reply      
BJ Fog is a Stanford researcher who is studying exactly that. Check out his "tiny habits" program, which is a one week course in which you will learn 3 new tiny habits. It is free and enlightening: tinyhabits.com
simonw 2 days ago 1 reply      
Get a dog. Our dog needs to go out first thing in the morning. It sounds silly, but she succeeded in injecting an element of schedule into my days that I hadn't had before. I feel like I've found it easier to develop other daily habits as a result.
3feetfromgold 2 days ago 0 replies      
Also about the pain vs. pleasure response.

Ultimately, we as humans, are always trying to either obtain more pleasure or avoid some level of pain. This is true for every task and decision we make in life.

If we take the task of going to the gym for instance, some people associate going to the gym with "pain". I.e. I don't want to run because I"m tired. Whereas others associate going to the gym with "I want to feel good and have more energy".

The trick is being able to combine the power of habit (cue) with pain and pleasure.

All of this can be read in Awaken the Giant Within by T. Robbins. Oldie but a goodie classic on this stuff.

c3RlcGhlbnI_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Quickly trying to bootstrap my knowledge of the field I have a few things for you.

First of all as such the examples you have given aren't quite habits. A habit is generally defined in the research as a sort of automatic response to contextual cues. So running just "every day" can never be habitual, however running as a specific part of your morning routine can become habitual.

Secondly the cue is the essential part in making the habitual behaviour override your conscious intentions. It is however both necessary and sufficient, so you don't necessarily need to worry too much about rewards or accountability to make things stick. Just developing the association between cue and behaviour is enough.

And that is basically all we know for certain so far. At least as far as I can learn skimming the first related literature review that popped up (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17437199.2013.87...) and some of the associated papers.

If you are not the kind of person who can through willpower alone get yourself to set up the cue and do the action it may benefit you to get help from someone who is better at that kind of thing until the habit is automatic.

nickjj 2 days ago 3 replies      
I think you need a complete change in mindset, because you're just setting yourself up for failure.

You shouldn't need to develop a habit like reading or exercise. If you don't truly want to do these things then you'll stick to your systematic habit for a few days and it'll fizzle out, then it's back to the drawing board.

I've been walking/jogging a few miles a day for the last 5 years or so. Now it's part of my life because I straight up enjoy it. I also quit smoking cigarettes cold turkey after smoking a pack a day for a long time.

Both were honestly really easy to do because deep down I wanted to do them. I woke up one day and the room was spinning which is something I never encountered before. It scared the shit out of me, so I immediately changed my life style.

You should be asking yourself why you want to read and exercise more. Is it because of a long term goal? Good, write that goal down and stick to doing things that point you towards it. That's all there is to it.

If you find that too difficult, then your goal is not really something you care about, so think harder. Keep repeating that until you find what you really want.

hollander 2 days ago 0 replies      
On Reddit there are several groups that try to do this. It's called the X-Effect. It works by creating a habit by doing a small task daily. One of the most important things is to start small.

You have to start so small that is seems stupid, but as it's all about positive reinforcement, you better start small (five minute tasks like clean your desk) and succeed, than a little bigger and fail. You may think that you could do 30 minutes and do more, but the goal here is to do this each and every day. If you do more one day, that's great. But this is the minimum. You have to set yourself to do this every day for five minutes.

You repeat this for 50 days, and the idea is that by then you have created a habit. Then you can start a new goal.

It sounds stupid, but it's not. It's really easy to let this go for one day, and think tomorrow I'll do 15 minutes to compensate. Or maybe you had a good day yesterday, and you worked 30 minutes on your goal. This is not a good idea. It's a trigger to let go, and stop the routine. Soon you're doing this 5 minute task only every other day, and then suddenly you stop alltogether.

And of course I take a stupid example here. You may choose another task that takes more time, and maybe you don't set a time limit, but something like walk the dog three times a day, or read one chapter of a book each day.



some1else 2 days ago 0 replies      
BJ Fogg has a few insights regarding good habit retention: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g56aKi-z05w

Basically if you look at it as a process, making sure not to overwhelm yourself before the habit becomes second nature, you have a better chance of succeeding at it.

lexpar 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is an excellent app for android called 'Loop - Habit Tracker' (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.isoron.uha...) which has a really great interface for keeping track of habits. It's very well designed. The interface is simple and snappy. Best app I've found anywhere for keeping track of even small daily habits (like flossing). It takes about 3 seconds to check off a habit, it can remind you every day, and you can consult graphs to see how you've been doing. It's also free and has no ads.

I didn't make this project. But it's great. I've picked up quite a few habits using it.

BrandiATMuhkuh 2 days ago 0 replies      
BJ Fogg's tiny habits is a good way. You might know him as author of the book "persuasive technologies". But his habit tools are well studied and tested (according to him ;) http://tinyhabits.com/
helentoomik 1 day ago 0 replies      
A book that I have found very useful for both developing new habits and breaking existing unproductive habits is "Self-Directed Behavior" by Watson & Tharp. It's based on scientific research, but the ideas are presented clearly and in a practically useful way. It's also about more than just the introduction or changing of habits - it also helps you analyze them, understand them, measure them, reinforce them, etc.

It appears to be sold as a college textbook so the latest edition is horrendously expensive, but this also means you can easily find used copies of older editions. Mine is at least 15 years old and still very useful.


dpandey 2 days ago 1 reply      
After trying to build a healthy habit app for several years, we have found that the most effective way to do it is to turn what you're trying to do into a game. It doesn't need to use technology - you could just be doing it on a piece of paper.

There's an important psychological reason behind this. When we usually try to build a habit(or 'change a behavior'), we're going against our default nature. If that weren't the case, you'd already have acquired that habit.

Now going against your nature takes willpower. And research has established [1] that we have a limited amount (budget) of willpower everyday. Expend the budget on one thing, and you have no more of it for another. In experiments, people are more easily tempted by an unhealthy snack after a hard day, because they've already used up their willpower for the day. Bottomline: willpower based behavior change is very hard to sustain.

Also, we usually interpret our failings to keep up with our behavior change effort as guilt and failure, rather than the budget of willpower drying up, which is what it actually is. That starts a negative connotation with the very thing that was supposed to bring a positive change to our lives.

I don't want to sound promotional, but we're seeing incredible change in people's walking behavior by turning it into a fun engaging game/app [2]. It just seems to work where an 'endless willpower' driven approach fails.

The interesting insight into this process is that the healthy habit needs to be a side effect of this game. It cannot be the main focus of the game. In other words, there must be a strong gaming core loop that's just fun and sticky by itself, and which is what people think of when they think of the game. The core loop is basically going to be fed by (among other things) elements of your healthy habit.

[1] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/willpower-facts

[2] http://battlesteps.com

DeBraid 2 days ago 0 replies      
See Tim Ferriss and his various podcasts/books. This is basically what he's spent 10-15 years studying, does a good job distilling information into the most impactful and substantive bits.

A good starting point: this podcast with Naval Ravikant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7J-Gwc9pVg

Naval is a deep thinker, talks about happiness, habits, learnings, etc.

Then, check out Derek Sivers (also w/ Tim) http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/11/21/tools-of-titans-derek...

lj3 2 days ago 1 reply      
The book "Superhuman by habit" is the best book I've read on the subject. It's well researched and comes with lots of practical advice for developing habits, not just the research and theory.
geoffreyfloyd 2 days ago 0 replies      
If there were a short answer to this, we'd all be amazing. There are strategies for building good habits, such as adding a small amount to your daily load at a time (to avoid overextending your will power, and build it up slowly), and logging your actions in a journal everyday, which causes you to recognize your accomplishments and confirm your goals. Also, there are methods of setting very specific, measurable goals that can be achieved in relatively short spans (days and weeks, not months and years) so that you continue to push forward at a visible pace.
Singletoned 2 days ago 0 replies      
I doubt there is any 100% reliable way, or any way that works for everyone (cause people are different), so it's partly a case of finding out what works for you.

A useful discovery for me was that emotion is a greater driving force that rationality. Rather than making a list of all the reasons that exercise will be good for you, spend time visualising exactly how wonderful you will feel (in as much detail as possible) when you are fit, and spend time visualising how bad you will feel if you don't get fit.

It might not work for you, but if it does it can be very powerful.

ryanmarsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes and it's explained in awesome book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

You need a cue/craving -> response -> reward cycle

The reward should be slightly unpredictable to make the habit really addicting.

So best way to build (or deprogram) a habit: keep a log of how you feel before you do (or don't do) something you want to change. Become aware of your "cue" or craving. Begin to introduce a different response that comes with a reward.

For instance, if you don't feel great after leaving the gym you'll never make it an unconscious habit.

shock 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've read the book The Power of Habit and found it enlightening, but the bits I'm having most trouble with are choosing rewards and getting started. The part about choosing rewards is, by far, the most difficult for me. Everybody keeps saying "make sure to reward yourself after doing the thing you want to make habitual" but nobody provides actual examples of rewards that work and are not harmful (no, I don't want to eat a cookie each time I do the habit).
codethief 2 days ago 0 replies      
Following up on katzgrau's recommendation for "The Power of Habit", I think it's important to stress that you should prioritize and choose the most important habit first and focus on that 100%. In the book, Charles Duhigg mentions "key habits" that, if changed, will lead you to change other habits as well.

I've been down the road of changing habits multiple times and I think the most important habit you can adopt is actually to continuously watch your progress, adjust your routines if necessary and, more generally, give you time to think about where you're moving with your life on a grand scheme of things.

Whenever I tried to get into a new habit, I found that the hardest thing was actually to come up with and take counter-measures if the routine wasn't sticking as expected. I would often try a new routine and if it failed to stick, I would automatically fall back into my old (bad) routine.

So my advice is this: Set aside time to reflect upon your routines (and your life in general). Make this your very first habit to get into. Personally, I've found that doing it once a week is by far not enough for me (and it's also a difficult habit to maintain), so I decided to do it once a day and, since I rarely find the time at night, I decided to get up a bit earlier in the morning and go for a 30min walk. This has the added benefit that you get a bit of exercise and lots of fresh air. I also use that time to decide on my most important task for the day that I will work on right after the walk.

bryanrasmussen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was going to be a jerk and just say 'heroin' but then thinking about it, addictive properties does indicate one of the signatures of successful habits. The times that I have developed exercise habits is because I managed to get over the first week hump and then wanted the adrenaline rush that came with it.

One pertinent aspect of developing any sort of exercise habit is that the routine needs to vary enough - not just to help you grow - but also to keep giving you that adrenaline feedback. This is why a martial art of some sort is a good exercise routine, because of the variation that tends to naturally occur ( I prefer capoeira )

But I guess the most systematic and scientific way to develop a habit is operant conditioning http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html

RoboTeddy 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's worked for me for running (2x/week), pushups (2x/week), pullups (2x/week), stretching (daily), going to bed by a certain time (daily), and other things:

* focusing on consistency: if you do any tiny amount of the thing (even if it's just one pushup), that totally counts. once you have the habit, you can build intensity as you please.

* specific deadlines: (e.g. run Tues/Fri by 1pm), since then I don't have a series of "I'm in the middle of something, I'll do it in a bit"'s that are kind of unpleasant and attention-consuming.

* It's kind of stupid, but I wrote a little app where I can press a button after I've done a habit -- if I don't press the button before the deadline, it sends a text to my brother. I don't wanna bug him, so for me, this helps make the deadline more "real". If I'm super busy or really don't feel like it, it's totally fine if I just do a tiny bit of the habit and then press the button-- but that rarely happens.

It's kinda nice to have all this running on autopilot; it's been working well for about a year, and it doesn't take any sort of willpower at this point. I find it especially useful for keeping my routine after something that would normally disrupt it, like travel.

tdaltonc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes! In addition to some of the awesome answers already posted here I wanted to mention how important the schedule of reinforcement is habit formation.

If you're building a product, optimizing when and how it rewards users can double your retention and engagement. I make a tool to help with this: http://useDopamine.com

auganov 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very sorry that I don't have citations handy [0]. But there are studies that explored affecting one's propensity to do what they rationally believe to be right. The common theme of these studies has been that feeling observed by others greatly improved it. The most memorable result has show that merely placing someone in front of a mirror improved it too (a testament to how salient the effect is)!My point being that if all else fails, it's worth trying to structure your social environment in a way that motivates you. It's easy to slack off when nobody's watching. It's easy to not deliver your side project on Friday if nobody's gonna care anyways!

[0] that's the playlist where I heard about it, I'm not sure if it's the right video, though. Sorry just don't have the time to dig through it. I greatly suggest everyone watching the whole playlist. The subject matter explores a lot of concepts tangential to procrastination from a philosophical angle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reZA81S0zfI&list=PL3F6BC200B...

snoonan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Look into CBT in terms of efficacy.

A bit of a PSA... For anyone who relates to this very strongly, some people with extreme difficulty in forming positive habits have executive function disorders such as ADHD. This is a primary symptom and is often viewed as lack of willpower or laziness vs. a treatable condition. Forming habits under treatment is much more effective.

partycoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
For reading there's this product:https://www.amazon.com/Mark-My-Time-Digital-Bookmark-Neon-Bl... . It's a bookmark that allows you to set any target reading time, and it displays a countdown... You can do the same with your phone eventually, and it might be unpractical to have one per book... I use playing cards as bookmarks. You can read before going to sleep, and make it a habit to read while catching some sleep...

Running/exercising... there are many apps such as Runkeeper and such that allow you to set weekly goals. Running might better in the morning.

Another one is to get a wall calendar in a visible place at home and mark the days where you have been active in whatever habit. If you see no marks it means you have dropped your habit. You can also use a calendar app and set reminders... but those are easy to ignore.

rawnlq 2 days ago 0 replies      
imron 2 days ago 0 replies      
Don't break the chain - http://dontbreakthechain.com

In the same vein, I made an app called 100% for doing something similar: https://www.imralsoftware.com/100

bootload 2 days ago 0 replies      
"I want to develop many daily habits, such as running, reading, or exercise every day"

Done that. Do the hardest thing first.

The simple hack I've found useful is to repeat the activity ^no matter^ how you feel. I found the biggest point of failure is ^just before^ you start and if you get over that hump of avoidance you'll succeed.

You have to repeat this every day. Every day you start is another point of failure. ~ http://seldomlogical.com/2009/OCT/29/do-the-hardest-thing-fi... (on 2770/3000km for this year, 10km at a time.)

ohyoutravel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know if there is a scientific way, but I can say what works for me. To start, I essentially resign myself to doing whatever habit I want to build, making it in my mind so I have no choice so there's no getting out of it. Then I just do it, rain or shine, no matter what, which can be super difficult. After a while, it becomes easier.

One example is running. I just told myself that I needed to run for one hour every weekday at 6am. Extremely difficult as I normally sleep in until 7, but I just told myself I have no choice. So I started getting out of bed at 6 and running until 7. After a couple weeks it got easier, after a month I did it without much thought. After about two months, I feel weird if I don't do it and miss it.

I am also interested in whether there's more to building a habit than this.

dorfsmay 2 days ago 0 replies      
They touch on this in the "Learning how to learn" online course. One of the point is to learn to recognise patterns:


mildbow 2 days ago