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Developers side projects joelonsoftware.com
1024 points by grabeh  3 days ago   386 comments top 82
alexmingoia 3 days ago 14 replies      
> Not related to your employers line of work. Um, wait. Whats the definition of related? [...] I dont know. Its a big enough ambiguity that you could drive a truck through it.

No, it's not that ambiguous at all. The courts rarely side with the company, and only in cases where it's quite obvious the work was directly related. If your side project isn't directly related to the work you are doing, then you don't need to worry.

Don't let Joel or any other tech CEO scare you into not working on side-projects. Don't even tell your employer about side projects. Leave them out of the loop entirely.

sgentle 3 days ago 5 replies      
I find this mindset totally disgusting, but I'm glad it's been summed up in such a concise way.

> Being an employee of a high tech company whose product is intellectual means that you have decided that you want to sell your intellectual output, and maybe thats OK, and maybe its not, but its a free choice.

Let's clarify that phrase, "sell your intellectual output". Keep in mind that earlier in the article we discovered that "during work hours" or "related to your work" are not limits on its scope. What are the limits? The evident conclusion is that there are none. You are selling all of your intellectual output.

A situation where every idea you come up with, everything you think, every last shred of creativity is owned by someone else is one of the most profoundly dystopian things I can imagine. But this isn't a sci-fi story, this is standard business practice.

Selling all your intellectual output is selling yourself, and I think it's unconscionable. If you don't even own your own thoughts, what do you have left?

nostromo 3 days ago 6 replies      
This is a good article, but the "let them eat cake"-iness of the last paragraph is pretty chilling.

> the only way to gain independence is to be independent. Being an employee of a high tech company whose product is intellectual means that you have decided that you want to sell your intellectual output, and maybe thats OK, and maybe its not, but its a free choice.

I was hoping for a closing argument about how thoughtful employers could accommodate their legal requirements while also respecting independent employee creations.

Instead he seems to just be saying that employees that want to keep their side projects should just quit.

Reading that might give me pause about taking a position at Fog Creek.

tetrep 3 days ago 2 replies      
> Your game designer works for a year and invents 7 games. At the end of the year, she sues you, claiming that she owns 4 of them, because those particular games were invented between 5pm and 9am, when she wasnt on duty.

> ...

> So before you hire this developer, you agree, hey listen, I know that inventing happens all the time, and its impossible to prove whether you invented something while you were sitting in the chair I supplied in the cubicle I supplied or not. I dont just want to buy your 9:00-5:00 inventions. I want them all, and Im going to pay you a nice salary to get them all, and she agrees to that, so now you want to sign something that says that all her inventions belong to the company for as long as she is employed by the company.

Wait, what? Wouldn't the fix for this just to say, "You transfer the rights to any games you give us" (or whatever the legal wording for that is)?

It seems incredibly odd to go from "you gave us a game but kept the IP" to "we own all IP of games you make".

swalsh 3 days ago 4 replies      
The hope that one of my side projects will some day succeed, and I can leave my 9-5 is the only thing that drives me. If I said, "welp, legal" i'd die inside. Some people have church, I have side projects.
OliverJones 3 days ago 10 replies      
Joel doesn't often miss things, but with respect I think he missed something here.

If you, the employee, are working for an employer you respect, and vice versa, YOU CAN HAVE A CONVERSATION!

If your day job is, say, maintaining high-capacity forum software in dotnet, and you have this hankering to develop, say, a WordPress plugin to show the time of sunrise, you can talk about it.

If you respect your boss and she respects you, the conversation will be fruitful. She may say, "please don't do that," and you'll understand why not. She may say "go ahead."

If you DON'T respect your boss, there's lots of advice here about how to proceed. But why not start out assuming mutual respect?

ChicagoDave 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've been a contractor and entrepreneur for many years. I do like the higher income that I can command as a contractor, but it's also a matter of principal that any work I do on my own for my own endeavors belong to me.

My current client and I have talked about going "full-time" and I've even discussed it with their legal department. The problem is they have a culture of standard employment contracts and are extremely uncomfortable with the idea of someone having a non-standard employment contract. They said it was "possible", but I'd have to list the projects to be excluded from their interests.

That precludes any opportunity to pursue any new ideas I would come up with.

That's just a flat out non-starter for me. I come up with new ideas all the time and I pursue or network those ideas all the time.

This is definitely a problem with my client and other large corporations. They understand that entrepreneurship is a growing interest of my many technical people and it has become a barrier to attracting those types of people. Something every corporation needs...people who think outside the box.

Of course the primary issue is leverage. If you need the company/paycheck and don't have enough of a background to command a change in the standard employment contract, then you have to sign away all rights. Or you can just decide to be a contractor and explicitly state (where it's necessary), that the work you're assigning rights to is in some amendment and is listed in detail. All other creations/works are yours.

Or you have a strong background with proven results and the corporation is interested in your services enough so that they will work with you on a non-standard employment contract.

pfranz 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was at a larger company and tried to play ball with their policies for personal work. My contract gave them "right of first refusal" and had a space for exclusions of things you were working on outside of work. Some friends weren't allowed to continue contributing to a few Open Source projects...which seemed excessive, but makes sense if they're overly cautious.

I mentioned I was helping a friend on a short film. I was just showing up on set and possibly doing technical stuff on editing and mixing. I asked, "It's not my project, I'm just helping out. What would you like to see from the project?" "Everything" "Really? We haven't started shooting. Does that mean the script? Raw footage? The final edit?" "Everything" I don't think they actually knew anything at all about what I was talking about (even though it was multi-gigabytes of information) and they handed it all over to a co-worker.

I think the lesson is to think about where they're coming from. The lawyer is paid to cover the company's ass and they may not even have the expertise to make the right call, so they'll error on the side of being safe.

joeljumpedshark 2 days ago 1 reply      
Joel is both asserting that a particular state of affairs presently exists that quite likely doesn't--specifically that employers have a strong rather than tenuous legal claim to all side projects produced by their developers due to the vagueness of the relatedness clause of the California law and the contracts incorporating it--and also attempting to convince his readers, most of whom are developers, that this is entirely appropriate and that they should just accept it as a normal consequence of salaried employment.

This really does change my opinion of both Joel and FogCreek, and certainly for the worse. I wonder, did FogCreek actually prevent Ted Unangst from contributing to OpenBSD as a side project while he was with them? If so, that's horrible. And how much have FogCreek, StackOverflow, and other companies that seek to greedily arrogate the entire creative output of their employees benefited from open source software began and continued as the very side projects this blog post cautions against? Utterly hypocritical.

I second the call of another poster: we need a professional association (union) of the kind that lawyers, doctors, and dentists have. IEEE and ACM could easily function as such, and in fact, they already provide many of the same practice standardization and continuing education functions that other professional associations do. All that's missing is the rent-seeking behavior to ensure we earn what we're worth and keep employers like Joel honest.

brilliantcode 3 days ago 2 replies      
I feel like this article grossly exaggerated the nature of the laws and relationship between you and the employer. I think it's a good thing that Joel isn't a lawyer because anyone following his advice will lead to implosion.

First, there is a very high bar for what is regarded the property of the company vs your own work. Even if you created your own open source project website and pushed code on your own github account using their laptop, as long as it doesn't directly compete or use portions of proprietary code, there is zero chance it will stand in court. Non compete clauses are next to impossible to uphold unless they literally sold trade secrets or company's code directly for profit. Even if they made a near identical version, it would be a tough uphill climb if you didn't copy & paste their code directly in your own source code.

Of course, the Goldman Sachs vs open source dev was a very interesting and a rare case. I don't have more insight into that case but if somebody could that 'd be great.

But for the most part, Joel's piece is spreading FUD into innocent developer's dreams and projects, and you don't need to heed attention.

For the truly paranoid and follower of Joel's flawed legal analysis which looks at syntax than the semantics or spirit behind the written law which almost always the overwhelming use:

1) Incorporate your own company

2) Purchase laptop under your new corp

3) Do your work on there.

Disclaimer: This is not a legal advice. I'm not a lawyer. I could be wrong. Check with a real lawyer and do your own due diligence.

rjurney 3 days ago 2 replies      
You ALL need to read California Labor Code 2870!

Surprised nobody has mentioned the most essential thing to know about regarding this stuff in California. The site is down at the moment, but the link is: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&gr...

CA 2870 is attached to any such agreement you sign in California, and protects independent invention. You should read it. This law forms the legal basis for innovation in Silicon Valley.

eel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I thought I recognized this article. Here is Joel's original answer (2011) on a Stack Exchange site with some comments: https://web.archive.org/web/20130329010105/http://answers.on...

Here is a previous discussion on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2208056

ThomPete 3 days ago 1 reply      
When I ran my design studio at it's height of 80 people I would encourage everyone to have side projects. When you reach that size people coming and going starts to become the norm. Just as each employer is not going to be valued as when you are a much smaller company, neither should the employee be forced to some sort of fake commitment to a company who is no longer able to care for others as a small tight band of brothers might do. So it's better to have people be able to do whatever they like to do in life. It's up to you to capture as much value out of them as possible and it's often quite telling about the position they have whether they end up wanting to spend more time on sideprojects than their main one.

You have to expect people leaving you, because the reasons they join a bigger company is much different than a smaller one and it's quite shortsighted as a CEO of a company of the size of fog creek to think like that.

Luckily there are other companies doing great encouraging side projects too.

ascotan 2 days ago 1 reply      
This article is FUD.

Employer contracts are concerned that you are attempting to take company proprietary information and repackage it on your own time for sale. This sort of behavior clearly falls into 'inventions'.

However, most of the contracts I've seen have a clause which states that the invention must be related to the business of the company. If you work in the games industry and make games on your own time for sale, your employer might take issue with that.

If you work at a games company and run a real estate business on the side, who cares? Similarly, if you work at a games company and write real estate software, they're still not likely to care.

The issue arises:

- where the customer you are getting money from is the same customer (potential customer) of your current employer.

- where the IP in your side project has potential business value to your current employer.

If in doubt, you simply tell your employer up front and get it in writing (email) that it's o.k. I've done this in the past, and the HR department usually will defer the decision to your Manager, who has to make a determination if the work you're doing has potential cross-cutting business concerns. The bigger issue (from an employer standpoint) is that you are not devoting 100% effort to your current employer.

So as long as:

- you make it clear that there are no customer overlaps

- there is no IP that the company would ever be interested in

- that this is done own your own time (and off-premises)

No one should care what you do in your own time.

ThatGeoGuy 3 days ago 2 replies      
As a Canadian I don't even know what the requirements are, or protections if any. But I did notice one thing in particular: you need your own equipment (no company equipment) to qualify under the Californian protections.

How does this factor into bring your own device (BYOD)? At what point is it your employers equipment, and at what point is it yours? I think BYOD is a terrible idea for several reasons (usually leveraged as a cost-saving measure, can't 100% verify that all company data is wiped at end of employment, etc), but this seems like it muddles the whole thing further. If you only own the devices that you use to work, does everything belong to your employer and how can you draw a line?

guelo 3 days ago 0 replies      
The conclusion of this article hinges on the vagueness of "related to your employers line of work". From that he concludes that all employee developers have effectively sold their total intellectual output. But that is bullshit. The vagueness doesn't make the law meaningless. He admits that a judge and jury would probably side with the employee but still picks the company's side for his conclusion (the sarcastic "big bad Google" gives away his mindset). It is true that a company will generally have more resources than you and can grind you down legally, but in general they don't because, besides the money, it's a time suck for everybody, potentially bad press, and really bad for morale
oelmekki 2 days ago 0 replies      
I encountered such clause in my contracts twice, in France. I'm glad to finally know the reason why, it just looked suspicious to me (and when I asked about it, each time I was answered: "this is standard contracts").

The two times, I asked to change it. First time I asked to mention that I keep ownership of my opensource projects, since it was what I was doing mainly with my free time.

The second time was less obvious, because I was cofounder/CTO, and I didn't really have a distinction between my "work for company" time and "work outside" time. I also was working on a side project meant to become a business. I took it that they wanted me to transfer IP to the company, but didn't want to let the ownership of my other project go as well.

So what I asked was to change text to say that company had ownership for all my non opensource code that was effectively used by the company. This gave them ownership of everything I was writing for them while at home, while still securing my ownership on my totally unrelated project (without any ambiguity possible).

jbrazile 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am surprised nobody here has yet mentioned the real case of what happened to Evan Brown, the former president of the Dallas Ft Worth Unix Users Group who worked at a telephone switch company as a system administrator and had an idea for a generic code translator.

Maybe the New York Times tells it best:


a_e_k 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where I work, there's a fairly streamlined process for getting waivers for side projects, including open source contributions. Fill out a page-long form broadly describing the intended side project and send it to Legal. If approved (and I've never had one rejected), a couple of weeks later they send back two copies of a document signed by them saying that the employee promises not to use company time or resources for that project and in return they agree to disavow any interest in it. Sign and date both copies, send one back, keep the other. Done. Everyone knows where they stand.
tc 3 days ago 0 replies      
This presents a false dilemma. There are other options than "own everything" or "be negligent and get sued."

Contracts can say almost anything. You can agree to grant the company a liberal license to anything you deliver to the company or incorporate into any product of the company. You can make a similarly protective agreement on the patent front.

There, now you own what you do on your own time and the company isn't at risk of a lawsuit from you.

tdeck 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just started at Google this week, and this is something I'm terrified of. Side projects are vital to my personal identity and development, and knowing that I own them is vital to my motivation. The thought that my employer might try to claim ownership of work I've done all on my own fills me with apprehension and I still haven't figured out what I will do about it.

My old employer was one I felt that I could trust to not abuse its power.

st3v3r 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have to say, I'm really, really sick of the entitled mentality that companies take towards those that actually do the work keeping their business afloat.
kcl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is Joel a supervillain? Why is Joel writing this and, given his obvious conflict of interest, addressing it to developers as if it were friendly advice, when it is not?

I advise people not to work for Joel or his companies. This is developer-hostile advice from someone who should know better. You don't want to work for a guy like this or his companies.

x3al 2 days ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.

In some countries, it's quite different. In Russia, you own anything you made as long as

* you don't touch it while you're on duty

* you don't use the employer's equipment

Obviously, you still can't use any information classified as 'trade secrets' at your current job because it's covered under another law.

You can even work in a directly competing company (or start one) WHILE being employed because job contract can't legally regulate your off-duty time and you can have unlimited number of side-jobs, as long as it's under 20-hours-a-week, in addition to your current full-time job. You don't even have to notify your full-time employer about it. The 'non compete clause' doesn't work. And your full-time employer can't even fire you (legally) just because you work in/own a competing company, as long as you follow all the regulations.

Even the 'I dont just want to buy your 9:00-5:00 inventions. I want them all' in the job contract can't work if I understand the Russian laws correctly.

vesak 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is why programmers need unions! Or a guild. Or something! That employers totally dictate everything in a field that is in such high demand is absolutely unacceptable.
mojomark 3 days ago 1 reply      
As an engineer at a defense contractor, I recently had to go through the process of having my company waive my 100% IP ownership clause so that I could work with a startup on my own time without fear of putting them in jeopardy. It took about 3 weeks to process the paperwork, and answer a lot of questions, but eventually the paperwork was signed. It only allows me to work freely with the one startup.

However, the important issue here is the opportunity companies are missing by not offering any significant profit sharing from disclosed inventions. If I submit IP to my company and it gets patented, I get a $500 check. That's idiitic because it dissincentivises significant innovation, but it's unfortunately commonplace.

To solve the dilema, companies simply need to get their greedy heads out of their rears and offer inventors a profit share percentage such as 10%. If they don't accept, the inventor should be able to do with the invention as they please, which includes selling or licensing.

maerF0x0 3 days ago 4 replies      
This gets super muddied when you consider doing FOSS contributions as part of your work. Sure you can sign a contributor agreement, but its not yours to give away. The employer owns the code you contributed to a FOSS project. The project got the signature from the wrong entity.
cauterized 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm fortunate enough to have a friend who is an employment lawyer and as a favor will read through any new employment contract before I sign it.

She'll point out any clauses (not just IP clauses) designed or phrased in such a way as to be unfair in the employer's favor, and will suggest alternative language that protects both them and me.

I have yet to encounter an employer who wouldn't accept a few small changes to an overly broad IP clause, and print and sign a fresh copy of the contract with the changes incorporated.

My current employer took very little convincing to accept the idea that they only wanted the IP created for them, not all IP created during the period of my employment.

After all, as I pointed out, they have no more interest in owning the code or design of my block association's website than I have in giving it to them. And it's unreasonable to expect me to cease to be its maintainer just because of a job switch from a fashion startup to an entertainment industry startup. As long as I don't work on it during work hours or using a work computer/internet/etc, why should they care what I do with my evenings and weekends?

So they accepted a modification. Of course, we might have trouble if I tried to compete with them in some way. But even if in my spare time I create a tool or library that eventually ends up being useful in building their own software, I retain the IP to that library. I might not get away with licensing something like that to them for a fee (good faith cuts both ways), but if it's already BSD licensed anyway, they can add it as a dependency and everyone's happy.

And if I want to be paid for contract work for an unrelated startup on weekends, well, that wasn't the use case I used to convince them. But the contract modifications give me the right to do so without turning the IP over to them. And again, if it's not competing, why should they care?

TLDR: Read and understand contracts before you sign them. Get help understanding if you need it. Don't sign something you don't want to be held to the letter of. Sometimes employers are flexible.

stevesun21 3 days ago 1 reply      
I got a little confused of this article. Firstly, the author try to say that side projects are belong to the company hires you as full time employee, and, then throw the game designer example, but it sounds to me like the game designer is contractor not a full-time employee, so, it follows the default copyright, I am ok with that, and then, the author start using this case to approve the relationship between your side project and your employer as you are a full time employee. Am I missed some info?

I remember that in Canada, the full time employee contract mentions something like, 40 hours per week, and also explicitly mention if you use company's property or equipments to produce some, or you produce some at company venue, then all copyright belongs to the company.

spacelizard 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's disappointing that there are no conventions or legislation to rectify this situation. I have several side projects going right now, and it gets frustrating going to interviews and being asked to give up all of it just for the supposed "privilege" of being able to write code for a larger company. The solution I've found is freelancing, but this has the problem of not really providing steady work.
mombul 3 days ago 0 replies      
I want to ask the author, Joel, what is their stance on the matter at StackOverflow and Fog Creek?
anonymousDan 3 days ago 1 reply      
What would people think of a website that collates instances of companies taking legal action against employees regarding side projects and then ranks them with respect to 'side-project' friendliness? Would a bad rating for a company impact your decision to take a job there?

Also, it would be cool if there was some widely available standard 'developer friendly' contract (or even addendum to a contract) that software engineers could table when negotiating a new job. It should be fair to the employer too of course, but it would give less experienced developers or those in a weaker negotiating position for whatever reason something well thought out to use.

caseysoftware 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another key thing here, it doesn't matter if your boss says "sure, go ahead and do it!"

That is NOT protection.

Odds are your boss isn't authorized to say that. And further, it's not in writing so it's your word against theirs.

Illniyar 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've had to reject an offer I wanted because the IP terms were draconian (even beyond what I consider standard) and the company wouldn't badge on it.Other companies did agree to make changes to get an otherwise unacceptable contract bearable.

This situation has taught me 2 things:1 - most developers don't care, those that do know about it, don't think it's a big deal.2 - because it has basically become industry standard developers assume it's OK and that no one would sue them.

stefek99 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Most developers think that the work they do at work belongs to their employer, but anything they work on at home or on their own time is theirs."


I dread the time when in order to pay my bills I had to sign a contract...

Released all my ideas to the public domain: https://github.com/genesisdotre/wiki/wiki/Ideas-released-to-...

"original matter, work or creation" - on my occasions I wanted to ask how about:1) cake recipes2) gardening3) drawing with my kids4) urine and excrements5) photography

(if I was to create YouTube channel talking about philosophy that would inevitably belong to them as well)

Can we please introduce employment contracts that are fair to both sides?

andrewstuart 3 days ago 0 replies      
One idea for tackling this is for the employer to say to the employee "We own everything you do 365 X 24, but we will give you exclusions for pretty much anything as long as you identify the side project name and description in writing."

This means that just about all side projects are permitted, but must be identified in writing in advance, and gives the employer the chance to decline to approve, and in that circumstance then the employee can leave if they want.

xvilka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, why not just go development and collaborative way of doing things and not make a gist/repo with a list of companies friendly to side projects, and unfriendly? Like Glassdoor it will add more clarity and competition to those companies, since people would know what they're signing for _before_ sending CV, going to interview or signing the offer.
johnwheeler 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's just so wrong on so many levels to deny anyone their shot at independence.

Companies taking advantage of ambiguities in the law or making employees live in fear of innovating on their own terms is wage slavery in its illest form.

anondev77 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm in this exact situation right now where I worked as a developer for a small company. I did a side project, and they demanded I hand over the project so they benefit from it. I refused, and we are deep in a costly legal battle. But it is a matter of principal that I won't let those a*holes benefit from something I did at home, on my equipment, without any of their IP, and unrelated to the work I did. I can tell you I've learnt a valuable lesson and will never sign an generic software development employment contract like that again.
chrshawkes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Joel's exposure and 100 million dollar mindset is frustrating. I created a video response expressing my distaste for such contracts Joel feels should be the status quo and really feel we need to come together to make sure laws are passed to protect the creative freedoms of all developers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6ypPpk9ymg

The ball shouldn't just be in the employers court for all intellectual property created while employed. Joel is just another uber rich techie doing what he can to make sure nobody under his staff is able to build the next big thing.

I'm boycotting StackOverflow & all of StackExchange as well.

ns8sl 2 days ago 0 replies      
And of course, nothing stops an employer from harassing you legally.

I was working on a personal project once and it seemed to make sense to join it with another product from another company. We collaborated on the combination design, but never moved forward with it. I never joined the company and I was never compensated in any way. No joint product or code or anything was ever produced.

However, the CEO of that company threatened me with legal action when I joined a different company to implement what I was working on. He sent a cease and desist to me and the company. I had to retain a lawyer to fend that off. Luckily, the accusations were so ridiculous it wasn't hard.

LeanderK 3 days ago 7 replies      
this is an absurd agreement, i have never heard of something like this in germany. Is this common in other countries?
makecheck 3 days ago 0 replies      
No topic for a side project is really safe, which is why I hope most laws focus on what you do for a company and not what your company might ever do.

I mean, imagine for instance that you simply had a band and tried to sell a few songs. And that you were an engineer. At some point in history, it would have made perfect sense to do this at Apple, with no overlap at all. Heck, I remember the ongoing lawsuits over the years from Apple Music just because of the name of Apple Computer at the time, and I think at one point they reached an agreement simply because Apple Computer was not going to be in the music business. And at the time, this seemed like a no-brainer, crazy to imagine Apple doing anything in music. And then, oops. So no, on a company-wide basis, no side project is really safe; companies can and do enter new lines of business, even things that seemed implausible at some point in the past.

avmich 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about a situation when you develop something in a company, then company doesn't show interest in it and effectively shelve it, and then you leave the company and want to come back to developing it? Be it in another company, which is yours or not?

Technically it's a property of the previous company. However if you later enhanced and expanded it further, you ought to have a share. And in practice, don't we have some good examples of startups which were built on ideas initially rejected?

schwarrrtz 3 days ago 2 replies      
At my last job working for a small software company, I was able to get my boss to modify the employment contract such that a specific list of other projects (attached as an appendix to the contract) was excluded from the work product & IP ownership clauses. The idea was that if I wanted to work on a side project, I would clear it with him first, and then we would sign a quick amending agreement to the original contract which added the new side project to the list.

Major caveats: I haven't ever tested this method in an actual legal dispute. Also, the negotiation involved a shouting match in a crowded bar. YMMV.

paulrosenzweig 3 days ago 5 replies      
I haven't heard about many disputed cases. I'd hope that if Google went around suing for possession of unrelated side projects, we'd hear about it.

Maybe the possibility of being publicly shamed is a deterrent from pursing ownership.

Buttons840 3 days ago 0 replies      
What happens if you and a few friends work on a side project and then your employer tries to claim ownership?

Do your friends get to remove their contributions while you turn over a gutted and completely broken project?

Xeoncross 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've had three companies rewrite or append something about past IP or even current IP on the weekends unrelated to the company, the company's hardware, or the company's time.

If you approach it right (sometimes I show them how this limits our ability to work with OpenSource software) you can often swing it. Admittedly, the larger companies are less likely to entertain the request of some new hire.

I think more people should bring this up in the hiring process (you don't have to push it), but lets teach companies that it's not just vacation that maters to us.

tptacek 3 days ago 0 replies      
My experience with employment contracts has been that in addition to the "anything related to employer's business" clause, there will also usually be a schedule at the end of the contract where you can list specific side projects you're working on --- and that schedule can be amended (or extended with a clause like "anything agreed to in writing with your manager") later on.

It's not ideal from an employee's perspective, but it's at least less unpredictable.

solatic 2 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't there a relatively easy way to solve this problem?

As an employer, when you decide to hire someone to produce software for you, you assign them a private key tied to a certificate issued by the employer's certificate authority. The employer then has tooling which requires all commits to the employer's repositories to be signed with a certificate issued by the employer's certificate authority.

Then it's very simple: any code which has been signed by those certificates unambiguously belongs to the employer. Any code which has not been signed by those certificates does not belong to the employer.

Employers can demand that employees sign their work with these certificates in order to consider the work done, so employees who refuse to sign the work with those certificates risk giving up their salary for breach of contract. Employees are then free to sign whichever code they want on their free time, and assert ownership by virtue of it not being signed with their employer's certificate.

malikNF 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of something I read awhile back.

(Companies, not employees, to get credit for inventions if merit system in place)


dfraser992 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you read the fine print, software can't fall under the 'work for hire' provisions. At all. People think so, but just saying 'work-for-hire' in a contract isn't valid (enough). There has to be a explicit copyright transfer process backed up by paperwork.

I ran into this myself, but decided not to get in a tussle with this client who turned out to be ripping off customers, not paying me, etc. etc. Things had been progressing along under the assumption the company owned the copyright, or I was implicitly transferring copyright, and to go and try claw back everything I'd written would have been perhaps futile (the courts would not have thought much of my change of mind) and a very big time and money black hole.

I thoroughly pay attention to contract matters now. I never had a bad client before and none of the stuff I'd developed before either seemed valuable enough. But writing _all_ the code for a startup that ... oh, I don't want to take about it :)

ed_blackburn 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems completely alien to me that a third party could claim ownership of something I've built because I'm using a craft / skill that they pay me to use too. I live in the U.K. And work as a contractor. I've seen odd looking IP clauses in contracts but have amended them or felt confident I can sign them irrespective.
kodisha 1 day ago 0 replies      
At the moment I am not working at any side project, but occasionally I have idea or two, and I was just waiting for a right time to start working on them.

Reading this was quite devastating, not even started, and I feel like I already lost, even though my side project has next to nothing to do with my current industry.

andy_ppp 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see some clear legal advice from YC on this; my guess would be if you are taking a first employee the idea that they would have any time to do anything other than the startup means they were the wrong first, second or even twentieth employee.

After that YC what is the score?

red_admiral 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not familiar with the US legal system but this sounds to me like solving the wrong problem. Take the example of the game developer - why can't you create a contract that says you pay her for 6 game ideas, including the IP to these games?

It shouldn't matter if she comes up with those ideas during 9-5 or any other time. It shouldn't matter if she comes up with another 4 ideas of her own on the side, or even works part-time for someone else too. You're paying for an outcome, 6 games including all associated IP because that's what you're going to sell on to the public.

aorloff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Usually when you sign that inventions assignment agreement (the dreaded PIAA), there is a place where it says, now list on Appendix A all the inventions you previously created PRIOR to coming to work here.

And THAT'S the place to leave truck-sized holes to drive through, especially if you have a good idea of what your side project interests are at that point.

ivanhoe 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why not just ask for a permission from the management? Drop 'em an email, explain what kind of side projects you plan and that the work will be done strictly in your free time and not interfere with you work for them. It's 99% that they'll answer it's OK, it's at that early point insignificant issue for them, and later that email response is legally binding as much as any contract. Of course, it's a smart move that you get a legal advice how to phrase the question to cover your ass properly for your state/country laws.
dustinmoris 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was totally biased bs. Not all companies try to own all your intellectual work and if they do then look for a new employer. And in 99.9% of cases it's super easy to understand what is related work and what is not. If your company builds an online casino and you write code for a slot from 9-5 then the next social network, airbnb or uber you do at home is completely unrelated. Only a total jerk would try to claim the right on such a side project and only an even greater jerk would try to justify it with a biased blog post.
hellofunk 2 days ago 0 replies      
My three colleagues and I just took a look at our contracts after reading this. We are contractors, not employees. We saw this interesting phrase:

"Contractor may provide services to third parties so long as Contractor does not provide any software development services to other entities. "

"Other entities" is an interesting term. Since the contractor is explicitly mentioned in the text separate from these third parties or other entities, it would seem the contract does not prohibit the contractor doing work for himself.

ommunist 3 days ago 1 reply      
I always thought of Joel as one of important Excel authors. I was very much surprised to see he is CEO of Stack Overflow now. Giving context of the article, I am going to re-read carefully Stack Overflow ToS.
knocte 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's a loophole in most of these draconian contracts: they might own the copyright of what you do in your spare time, but they don't get to decide the license you use for your software (at least I've never seen any clause about this, ever). Then the solution is to use a liberal opensource license (MIT), and publish it somewhere. If you decide to reuse that code in the future for your own venture, you can just use it, the license allows you to do so even if the copyright is owned by your previous employer.
staticelf 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the country I live in (Sweden), such contracts are very rare and I don't even think they would be valid in court here. What you do in your spare time is your own shit.

In Sweden, you cannot force a worker to only have one job for example because that is illegal.

tbabb 3 days ago 0 replies      
He doesn't mention that many companies who want to be friendly to their creative tech employees' habits have a legal/approval process for carving out specific side projects.
BuuQu9hu 3 days ago 0 replies      
SFC is working on a project called ContractPatch to show that it is possible to (re-)negotiate your employment agreements so that you own copyright on your work and to help developers go through that process. Some information about ContractPatch is in this recent podcast episode and the show notes:


epynonymous 2 days ago 0 replies      
it seems to me if the technology is unrelated, for example, if you work for an enterprise software company and you created a web app for consumers regarding your hobby of sports. i think what joel's saying is if that they're sick enough and the employer wants to sue you, they definitely can, they have the legal ballast to take you to town. but would they? i guess that question depends on a couple things, one if they have some personal vendetta against you, they want nothing more than to make your life miserable. or two, they think what you've built is lucrative and they want a piece of it.

i'm just curious if there are precedents where someone's side project, completely unrelated to their company's product/market/customer base, but it ended up being lucrative and the company negotiated some shares/ownership of the side project become startup.

klausjensen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does NOLO nontract in

 "...this particular clause is built into the standard Nolo contract and most..."
...refer to the website nolo.com (which seems to be about legal stuff like contracts), or is it an acronym for something else?

sbov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Do companies really want this?

Doesn't this mean I can host my side project on company infrastructure? Commit it to company repositories? Submit it for code review which will probably be done on company time?

lowglow 3 days ago 3 replies      
IIRC california if you don't use company assets, side projects are yours.

Speaking of, I'd like some collaborators to help with my side project "Terra Plant": https://baqqer.com/collaborate

mingabunga 2 days ago 0 replies      
We share a lot in my company - I don't mind if the devs want to use some of the stuff we make and in turn they offer stuff they make to me. Works well and there's a lot of trust. we cover it legally too.
elihu 3 days ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that the right to work on side projects that aren't in direct competition to the work you were hired to do for a company is the sort of thing that unions might advocate for, if tech workers had unions.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
ausjke 3 days ago 0 replies      
A good write definitely and I have been cautious on those, i.e. if I want to make some real products I do not work for anyone in-between to stay clean. Side-project is too tricky for both sides.
thebspatrol 3 days ago 2 replies      
This topic is very interesting to me.

With that said, which employer wants their employee watching TV and not breathing software 24/7? I really struggle to imagine the risk here is greater than the reward.

alfonsodev 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great, more reasons to procrastinate on our side projects :(
stevesun21 3 days ago 0 replies      
after i figured that he is CEO and cofounder of many famous startups, I feel bias in this article and I will make sure I will not work him in the future for sure :-)
danjoc 3 days ago 1 reply      
I negotiated IP assignment out of my employment contract before taking my job. I wouldn't take a job that tried to lay claim to my work outside of work.
jpmcglone 3 days ago 2 replies      
What if the company does work out of San Francisco California, is incorporated in Delaware, but I live in North Carolina? Am I still protected?
iamcreasy 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does it affect the side projects(open/closed source) that you were already working on before taking up the new job?
hasenj 3 days ago 0 replies      
Off topic, but I was surprised at the end of the article to realize this was Joel Spolsky's blog! I like the new design.
max_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
WOW! I like the new layout! :)
jacques_chester 3 days ago 2 replies      
Briefly: consult a lawyer.
John Glenn has died dispatch.com
797 points by oaf357  4 days ago   152 comments top 31
kumarski 4 days ago 3 replies      
I grew up next to mission control and many of my neighbors and friends' parents were involved in Mission Control and/or Astronauts or both. Oddly, in the middle of nowhere Texas - Clear Lake. This gave me some interesting run-ins with cosmonauts, astronauts, physicists etc...

I was lucky enough to meet John Glenn on 3 separate occasions.

The first time, I discussed Plutonium 238 and my worries for satellite power given decommissioning of mission critical battery fodder for satellites on earth.

The second time, the viability of a colorblind astronaut.(I have deuteranopia and he explained to me the structure of the consoles and the switching costs of changing out colors and the follow on risk/reward of color confusion).

The third time, how we could keep more funding for NASA scale projects without having to keep offices in 50 different states for political pressure. He said he could go on for hours about this.

All 3 times, he was sharp, inspiring, and a pleasure to be around.

Today, humanity has lost the Lee Iacocca of Space.

One of my favorite quotes by him that I think is incredibly relevant right now: "The most important thing we can do is inspire young minds and to advance the kind of science, math and technology education that will help youngsters take us to the next phase of space travel."

Huhty 4 days ago 3 replies      
"As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind - every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder." - John Glenn.

RIP sir.

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 5 replies      
This deserves a black bar (IMO)

John Glenn was very influential on me as a student. He gave a talk at my high school about how learning as much as you could prepared you for the unexpected. He certainly put that to the test (as all of the astronauts then and now) do. The stakes are high, the resources limited, and time for a solution is finite. God speed John Glenn.

rmason 4 days ago 2 replies      
John Glenn was one of my boyhood heroes. I remember as a young boy listening to reports of him taking off and making those three orbits of the earth.

My uncle gave me a crystal radio shaped like Glenn's Friendship 7 capsule that ignited a fierce passion into radio that led to a ham radio license and a lifelong interest in science.

It was a time in America when the future seemed endless, anything was possible. A lot has changed since then but that sense of optimism has never completely left me and may be the reason despite one crash and burn that I am still an entrepreneur. Still hopeful for a better future.

owenversteeg 4 days ago 1 reply      
He was an amazing man.

Fun fact: the most popular years for babies named Glenn and John was 1962 and 1963 respectively [0,1], and you can see a little spike in births for both around the time John Glenn orbited the earth. Glenn entered the NASA test program without the required degree in a scientific field. He was the oldest man to fly in space, at age 77, and one of the last people to receive a ticker tape parade (the last one to receive multiple ticker-tape parades)

IMHO if he qualified as one of a handful of people to get a ticker-tape parade, he definitely qualifies for a black bar.

[0] https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=first+name+john

[1] https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=first+name+glenn

thearn4 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm saddened to hear this, but it's also not exactly out of the blue given his age.

Godspeed, Sen. (Col.) Glenn. It's an honor to work at your namesake NASA facility.

koenigdavidmj 4 days ago 0 replies      
When he went up again in '98, it was another big justification to talk about it in schools. I wasn't alive for Challenger, but this (I was still in elementary school) was another one of those moments I really remember getting me excited about STEM.
jason_slack 4 days ago 11 replies      

I have to wonder, these first missions, did the astronauts have any assurance they would make it back to earth? What was it like to say goodbye to family, not knowing if you would return or not.

Am I way off here? Was this mission uncertain or did NASA have reasonable assurances?

larrydag 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you ever get a chance go to Washington DC Air and Space Museum and find the Friendship 7 which is right at the main entrance. John Glenn literally flew around the Earth in space in a vehicle the size of a refrigerator. It is so staggering. The man is a legend.
Animats 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's the last of the Original Seven from the Mercury program.
libria 4 days ago 0 replies      
Surprised the article didn't mention it, but he was the last living member of the Mercury 7.
cs02rm0 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sad news. My dad (a fast jet pilot) took us to Florida, from the UK, to watch him go up in 1998.

I didn't really know who he was at the time but it's not often I've seen my dad look up (no pun intended) to someone. Left an impression on me and is probably no small part of the reason my own 4 year old son was running round with a rocket and a model astronaut ("Tim Peake") this morning.


rpledge 4 days ago 1 reply      
Godspeed, John Glenn....
efrafa 4 days ago 1 reply      
He was great in one episode of Frasier.
billmalarky 4 days ago 0 replies      
"a remarkably healthy life spent almost from the cradle with Annie, his beloved wife of 73 years, who survives."

His marriage lasted longer than global average life expectancy! Truly a remarkable man.

kristofferR 4 days ago 1 reply      
Those who haven't heard about him should watch "When We Left Earth", a fantastic documentary miniseries about NASA.

He was one of the many NASA astronauts interviewed.

grandwigg 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish I had something profound, but all I have is the VHS I taped over Power Rangers to see the first senior citizen in space, along with the coverage taking about his historic orbits. I do what is amazing is with all our advances, all we seem to do is chunk metal into orbit. Still, he and his cohort have inspired many to do what I cannot, so perhaps I will someday see another space milestone.
Fezzik 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps not totally on-topic, but he was also hilarious and charasmatic, as evidenced by his guest appearance on Frasier. I knew his name when I saw the episdoe years ago, but his charm got me to read much more about him.


sizzzzlerz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another of my childhood heroes is gone. I was 8 years old when Glenn went up into space and I still remember the black and white images of the launch, landing, and parades that ensued. I've been obsessed with space and its exploration ever since. Glenn is truly an American hero in every sense of the word.
oxide 4 days ago 0 replies      
I lived in the Imperial Valley for a few years, from the way they talk about John Glenn I thought he was born and raised there.

Nope, he's from Ohio. He passed over the valley (El Centro, specifically, IIRC) when he re-entered the atmosphere, it was just a claim to fame to attract tourists to the middle of nowhere.

mabbo 4 days ago 0 replies      
To live half the live that man did is to live a hell of a live.


FullMtlAlcoholc 4 days ago 0 replies      
People like John Glenn are the reason why I became infatuated with the space program and STEM. He showed the heights humanity could reach by using science and knowledge to become masters of our own destiny instead of victims of nature and fate. Before personal computers, before the Internet, before cellphones, humans landed on the moon & live streamed it to 600 million people. EDIT: I feel the same way for artists like H.R. Giger, William Gibson, James Cameron, and Neal Stephenson. It's become fashionable for many to deride the value of a non-STEM education. But if it weren't for them and their creation of the cyberpunk ethos/genre and tech-noir, I'd most likely be working at a bank or a hedge fund in a decidely non-technical role.

I also highly commend and greatly respect him for his efforts in nuclear non-proliferation. I imagine when you've seen earth from the view he had, you can't help seeing how small our differences actually are. That said, he wasn't perfect. His testimony in favor of excluding women from the astronaut program kept them from going on a mission until the 80's. To his credit, by the 1970's he had changed his mind and began supporting a female astronaut (Judith Resnick...interestingly she was recruited into the program by none than Lt. Uhura/Nichelle Nichols ) in her endeavors to join the astronaut program. Ultimately and unfortunately, she was a member of the ill-fated Challenger crew. Glenn gave a touching and inspirational speech at her memorial service that is worth reading: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/about/memorial.html

Off topic rant: As I hear this news, I'm reminded of the whole Buzz Aldrin dustup. While I'm no advocate of violence, I was inspired when he decked that looney conspiracy theorist who claimed the moon landings were faked. Despite the fact that you can literally shine lasers on the pieces of spacecraft left on the Moon and see the reflections, there are still those forces of ignorance who refuse to accept reality even as it stares them right in the eye. Most people in his position and especially at his age would simply try to avoid that confrontation and be content to let charlatans spread their destructive, nonsensical fictions. John Glenn was not that man. For some reason, that incident is what truly sticks out in my mind about him and I always associate him with this image: http://www.themarysue.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/3779149...It's probably because I associate him with being the last of a dying breed, a modern hero in an increasingly cynical, post-modern society.

imode 4 days ago 0 replies      
as your body lay here on earth,your soul has touched the stars.

thanks for spending time with us.

rest in peace.

rbanffy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Damn you, 2016. :-(
halcyondaze 4 days ago 0 replies      
RIP to a true boss.
ffk 4 days ago 1 reply      
[Removing, comment was about someone else, sorry]
AnimalMuppet 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was born three days after his flight. There was a large upsurge in the names "John" and "Glenn" for newborn males, which I somehow escaped...
giodamelio 4 days ago 1 reply      
I think he deserves a black bar if anyone does.
Lucas123 4 days ago 0 replies      
John Glenn was a true American hero.

He was a U.S. Marine fighter pilot who flew 59 combat missions over the South Pacific during WWII and 63 combat missions during the Korean War. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism or extraordinary achievement six times! In Korea, he got the nickname "magnet ass" because he attracted so much enemy flak on his missions.

Oh yeah, and then he went on to become a test pilot, the first American to orbit the Earth, a five-term U.S. senator, and the oldest man to ever enter space.

If you're ever looking for someone for your kids to look up to, this is the man.

rcarmo 4 days ago 0 replies      
"At 77, he orbited the Earth with six astronauts aboard shuttle Discovery, once again rendering his body and mind to the study of science, providing insight into how the oldest man ever launched into space held up. Glenn, remarkably fit, became an inspiration once again to mankind."

I teared up at this bit. The right stuff, indeed.

alaskamiller 4 days ago 1 reply      
Bose Hearphones bose.com
828 points by akramhussein  3 days ago   404 comments top 64
boobsbr 3 days ago 39 replies      
Wow, this address a major problem I have.

I have decent hearing, but when I'm in a noisy environment like a bar, I can hear but can't understand what other people are saying. It's why I don't like going to bars/pubs with live performances or ambient music.

People think I'm bored or brooding because I'm not talking to anyone, but I just can't understand anything anyone says, so I can't participate in a conversation.

randlet 3 days ago 7 replies      
For what it's worth, this tech has been available in hearing aids for a long time already. I carry a remote that can:

* switch my hearing aids between 5 different programs depending on the environment.

* play "fractal" like tones to combat my tinnitus

* adjust the volume including muting the outside world

* play music from anything with a 3.5mm jack (bluetooth also available)

* hear calls from my phone

* probably more I'm forgetting

If it wasn't for the being hearing impaired part, having hearing aids is pretty cool :)

It looks like Bose is trying to bring this technology to a bigger market which is cool.

_fs 3 days ago 13 replies      
I really wish someone was working to solve the problem of tinnitus. Would it be possible to generate anti phase wave out of these things to cancel out tinnitus? I would pay anything and/or wear any goofy device in my ears to live life tinnitus free.
KaiserPro 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm a drummer. Fortunately before I destroyed my hearing my dad forced me to wear ear defenders.

since then it's been a habit. These look nice and all, but basically all you really need are ear plugs.


comfy, snug and 32db (depending on version) of attenuation. That means that you can go to a loud gigs (95db) without the risk of tinitus.

same goes for bars. Loud noises are draining, have your hearing shattered by someone shouting in your ears is a pain.

Yes, if you choose the colourful ones its obvious. there are natural colours.

Bose makes a lot of song and dance about how you can adjust for noise, your ears do that already. The advantage of normal ear plugs is that you still retain some of the dimensionality that earphones loose.

Sadly I've had a child, and all that shrill screaming has basically killed off 10db of sensitivity of my hearing. but I'm 10db up form most of my musician friends

musesum 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, same market as the DopplerLabs Hear One?

I am the ideal customer: some hearing loss from my VJ days, but still appreciate frequency response. I render all my music at 192Khz.

Basic hearing aids suck at frequency response. Most drop off at around 8KHz Meanwhile, Apple has created a pipeline for hearing aid. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201466 I haven't used it.

I often work out of noisy cafes. So, I wear Bose Quiet Comfort 20 earbuds. If I forget, I will go back home to fetch them. Have even taken the QC 20's to public concerts to use the noise cancellation feature instead of earplugs.

ElijahLynn 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was reading this paragraph.

"...and people always talk much louder to compensate for the noise. I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to hear the server without any extra effort..."

And initially was wondering how he got an audio feed to his server in a restaurant and then was like "Why would he want to listen to his server". And then realized that there are human servers in restaurants.

afshinmeh 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can't open the website.

PDOException: SQLSTATE[HY000] [1040] Too many connections in lock_may_be_available() (line 167 of /var/app/current/hearphones/includes/lock.inc).

h4nkoslo 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is basically the same idea as electronic ear protection of the kind typically used for shooting sports, with the addition of a directional microphone to the existing global microphone.

It works extremely well in that form factor, basically like having Superman ears. Conversations are audible, you can turn up the sensitivity to where you can hear footsteps clearly in a house, and gunshots are reduced to the level of, eg, a heavy book falling off a shelf.


nkrumm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hard to tell exactly what this entails, but there is a very functional low-cost solution already on the market called the Pocket Talker (https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Talker-Ultra-System-Headphone/...)
borisjabes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Bose smells the same opportunity as Doppler Labs with their "Here One" https://hereplus.me
falcolas 3 days ago 9 replies      
Someone will have to explain the difference between these and your average hearing aids, which perform a very similar function, but tuned by an audiologist to your needs.
mikestew 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Youre one of the select few invited to the Bose Corporate Center facilities to demo Bose Hearphones for yourself."

Wow, I feel so special, and all I did was click a link on HN. This sounds like the Bose version of those cheap late-night "as seen in TV" amplifiers. Yeah, Bose is overpriced for what you get, but at least their stuff is if decent quality. Dunno, after too many years of standing in front of a Marshall stack, be it my own or other's, I could see myself interested in this.

Neliquat 3 days ago 2 replies      
Bose has not delivered in tech since the 70s. Color me skeptical, but this seems like a cheap hack for an existing product of theirs with a crapload of dodgy marketing.
mschip 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the side affects of prolonged usage would be. As in, would my ability to block out ambient noises without the device decline from not using the ability?
farnsworth 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not hard of hearing but I often have trouble understanding people at noisy meetups or conferences (or hell, parties). This sounds like an awesome solution. I'm sure I'm not the only one. But what compounds the problem is that I seem to be worse than most at understanding accents (thanks, growing up in middle America). I've gotten better recently, but still.
andy318 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is cool. Something i've wished for. Its kinda sad that many restaurants/bars are so noisy that one cannot enjoy a conversation - http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB100014240527487040228045750410...
cvigoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me strongly of when cigarette companies started to produce nicotine patches. Without sounding too cynical (it does look like a product that could be useful for people who just happen to be in noisey environments a lot) , I can't help but think Bose are trying to position themselves at the top of a new product line: hearing aids for people who damaged their own hearing through excessively loud earphone music but rebranded to not be considered so obviously as "hearing aids" in the current sense. Not that that's necessary all that bad, it makes sense for a top consumer audio company to tackle this "problem" if it is a thing; I'm by no means an ear expert but I wouldn't be surprised if a surge in hearing aid demand is due as the effects of prolonged earphone usage starts to surface.
sprokolopolis 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who is unilaterally deaf, this is very interesting to me. I hear fine in one ear, but am completely deaf in the other.

People who hear in stereo seem to isolate particular sounds (like a voice) much easier from background noise without any/much conscious thought; whereas, I have to consciously focus on filtering out the ambient noise. Having 2 audio channels seems to allow for a sort of spacial filtering/differentiation to pinpoint particular streams of sounds. I have found that turning my head in space allows me some ability to differentiate foreground/background noise by comparing their relative change in volumes as my ear changes direction. That is more fit for deciphering sounds coming from a distance and not helpful in the case of a close conversation. If I am having trouble with a conversation in a noisy setting I normally revert to lip-reading. Unfortunately lip-reading makes it difficult to read body language and facial expressions.

As a young kid I felt a bit left out of the experience of stereo music. I experimented with setting up several of my family's radios around my room and tuning their equalizers differently to roughly separate parts of the music. By moving and turning through the room, I was able to experience the music in a slightly more spacial way.

scandox 3 days ago 2 replies      
I never understood my poor ability to focus sound could be a thing until I read Douglas Coupland's account of sneezing out a lump of...well..his lung...his brain? I don't really know...but it's a great anecdote:


joel-stages 3 days ago 1 reply      
Long time reader, first time caller...er commenter. I might be biased since I work for them, but at www.stages.co we've JUST unveiled a headphone and a tabletop product (that lets you use any existing headphones) that I think this thread would find relevant. Directional listening, noice cancellation, noise reduction, high quality audio, user configurable admittance criteria - we have it all.
kriro 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have Bose noise cancelling headphones...possibly the best purchase I have ever made since they allow me to basically turn off the environment when on a train (or plane but I commute about 1h each way daily via train so that's where they shine). My soundy friends tell me Bose sound quality is not in the upper echolon (my hearing is not fine grained enough to hear a difference so I don't really care) but the filtering is really amazing. Not surprised they improve on that and branch out a bit. I usually listen to stuff without vocals (X meets metal: https://www.youtube.com/user/331Erock) when reading as I can't concentrate if there's lyrics.
daenney 3 days ago 2 replies      
Aren't these just the QC35's with their companion app? What am I missing?
FreedomToCreate 3 days ago 0 replies      
So basically this is augmentation of the ear. Focus sounds you want to ear, block the ones you don't. Pretty cool, but at the same time its kind of the first step towards the concept shown in Black Mirror where you just block out people you don't want to hear or see. They just become a muffled background noise.
bsmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
These seem to me, at least, to be a clever, premium re-branding of hearing aids. I found myself wanting some despite having only moderate (if detectable) hearing loss, especially for the ability to focus in on a conversation in a loud environment. That is a very draining situation for me to find myself in.
andy_ppp 3 days ago 1 reply      
If they could just remember someone's name for me the first time they say it that would be great ;-)
sundvor 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not limited to those with bad hearing, auditory processing issues are common amongst those with ASD / autism spectrum disorders / Aspergers / The Geek Syndrome.

This looks like an excellent product, and great work to their engineers.

raz32dust 2 days ago 0 replies      
Kudos to Bose for marketing. Can't wait to see the execution.

Today, people who wore glasses or had to wear hearing aid were those with vision and hearing problems. We are moving to an era where we would voluntarily wear visual/hearing aid all the time because they enhance our natural abilities so much that it would be hard to do without it. We are now starting to augment the most basic senses with technology, in a way that is affordable enough that everyone will be doing it. In that sense, this is the dawn of an era of bioelectronic super humans.

jluk 3 days ago 2 replies      
Neat prospect, but I'm not convinced this is a big enough problem for the majority of people which is how this is marketed. I would also expect a price point comparative to other hearing aids to further distance the average consumer.
6stringmerc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hm, okay. Not quite Google-Glass level overkill personal tech in the wild, but I'm not sure these will find a good patch of target market. Not quite hearing aids, not nearly as cool as headphones intending to keep the world out...I just have my doubts as to how well these are going to be adopted.

Oh, and if there comes a time when there are YouTube/Vine videos of jerks coming up behind people wearing these and screaming and/or otherwise messing with them, well, I wouldn't be surprised. Not that I'd approve, mind you. But would I laugh? No comment.

fapjacks 3 days ago 0 replies      
We have similar directional, sound-suppressing "headphones" for use in the military. Specifically I used them as a gunner on a Bradley (BFV) and a gunner on a regular ole Humvee gun truck. This kind of thing is pretty impressive. I could talk to other gunners in other turrets in our security element that were reasonably close without using the radio. You could still hear everything happening around you -- incredibly important -- without blast sounds and weapons fire causing your ears to ring.
pluglus 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am totally bothered by noise in the bars. Or the fact that you go to sports bar, but you cannot hear the audio. I was thinking of building on Pi something that would plug to TVs audio output, and then broadcast that to local Wifi in the bar. So that smartphone that's connected to same wifi could receive the audio and you could listen to it on your smartphone. Turns out there is someone already doing it: http://www.limeonair.com
gravypod 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are they calling these headphones to avoid medical device testing? These aren't headphones and that's not their main feature.
blauditore 3 days ago 3 replies      
OT: I've seen an error page when opening it for the first time:

 PDOException: SQLSTATE[HY000] [1040] Too many connections in lock_may_be_available() (line 167 of /var/app/current/hearphones/includes/lock.inc).
Reloading once made it work.

Out of curiosity, is this an amost-hug of death or something else broken? (I know nothing about Drupal.)

bshimmin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I humbly submit that they need to work on the name. I've had a long day and not much sleep and my eyes didn't recognise the difference between "hearphones" and "headphones"; the two even sound pretty similar. I know it's intentional and clever, but it's quite subtle. Especially if you don't have good hearing...
callesgg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I actually use my normal noice cancelling BOSE headphones for this sometimes.

If one presses the passthrogh button it has a somewhat enhancing effect.

_glass 2 days ago 0 replies      
If they can't do the acoustics right, this is the solution. But the focus should be to push good architectural design. Which is lacking almost everywhere.
bks 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess that we hugged them too hard, connection error - http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://...
Mankhool 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have always used my QC20 noise cancelling earbuds in this way so I'm glad it will get better. Just last weekend in a noisy eatery I put them in and my SO and her friend thought I was listening to music, but I said, "No, now I can hear YOU". Cool.
LyalinDotCom 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who lost hearing in one ear as a young kid Its always exciting to see companies work on this space. Honestly from their marketing websites its not 100% clear where this is going but I do look forward to seeing
lancewiggs 2 days ago 0 replies      
The hard problem to solve there is not the filtering - but the calibration. That's going to be the interesting bit to observe.
disposablezero 2 days ago 0 replies      
When I go with family to the shooting club, we have these hearing protectors that double as hearing enhancement. This seems like a natural extension off the range.
logicallee 3 days ago 4 replies      
they need to get into something they can rent at clubs and concert venues. Clubs are ridiculous. Every time I go to a club, I don't wear hearing protection, and this means that I am consciously making a choice to lose some of my hearing. I should be able to get some foam things that reduce my hearing damage to something reasonable.

but imagine if I could rent some kind of insert that actually lets me talk with others who also have theirs (because it filters using also a microphone.) how awesome would that be.

clubs and concerts, dance halls etc suck. waaay too loud.

beepboopbeep 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be interested to see what happens to the noise level of a bar room with everyone using these. Would the clarity of sound reduce everyone's volume to conversational?
dotnetisnotdead 3 days ago 0 replies      
really interested in the technology behind this. Obviously non voice frequencies can be filtered but how are they determining which voices are too far away to matter?

I'm sure I could probably read up more, but if these work it's definitely a "shut up and take my money" situation for me. I'm about as ADD as it gets and I have a really hard time when there are multiple conversations going and I try to listen to them all.

TACIXAT 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's so weird that we create personal products to address noise in public spaces rather than addressing the unnecessary noise first.
WhitneyLand 3 days ago 0 replies      
What is this? Hearing aid, directional headset, hybrid?
Coincoin 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if that could be useful for people with misophonia. Having power over what sound one ears could have a dramatic effect.
gesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Experience new [potentially] super [maybe] coolexotic headphones by coming to Bose event in MA.

Ok. Duh?

Why so many points to this story?

brak1 3 days ago 0 replies      
So are these just like normal hearing aids (with a diff design), designed/marketed by Bose?
kozak 3 days ago 1 reply      
The military already uses similar tech to be able to shoot and hear voice at the same time.
oAlbe 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one that seeing those things thought of the Seashells from Fahrenheit 451?
themihai 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bragio has had this feature for a while. What's the innovation/news?
chuckreynolds 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yessssss... can just turn people and environments down... love it! WANT!
ElijahLynn 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is augmented reality.
tbarbugli 2 days ago 0 replies      
Not going to be awkward at all!
pkstn 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Error messagePDOException: SQLSTATE[HY000] [1040] Too many connections in lock_may_be_available() (line 167 of /var/app/current/hearphones/includes/lock.inc).
agumonkey 3 days ago 0 replies      
archive is case of DDoS http://archive.is/iFcM7
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hasn't China ventured into this?
imranq 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow - this is hololens for your ears!
0xCMP 3 days ago 1 reply      
How is this on the top of HN? It's barely clear what these actually be like or how they work? Am I missing something?
vadym909 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can pretend to be listening to the wife while my ears focus on the game score from the TV?
doublevea 3 days ago 0 replies      
Buy Other Sound Equipment. Bose is largely overpriced given the quality of headphones.
artur_makly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a hard time hearing only my wife.

It's like an fine-tuned harmonic anti-sound barrier that turns on automatically after 4 secs.. Wifephones please.

soared 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or does this landing page suck? The top banner doesn't go all the way to the edges, logo is square but buttons are circular, grey icons on a black background, only black and white, etc, etc. Then you get this absolutely butchered review:

> I was with my husband at Smokey Bones

What is that?

> The room was very noisy as it always is there because they have tv's going and lots of music and people always talk much louder to compensate for the noise.

I'll let this one slide

> I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to hear the server without any extra effort order my meal with smooth going.

With smooth going eh?

> My husband and my conversation was not strained

Glad to hear your husband were comfortable

I am not a self-made man facebook.com
780 points by sergiotapia  3 days ago   260 comments top 33
state_less 3 days ago 4 replies      
Suppose any rich man wakes up in the Amazon jungle with nothing to his name, no clothes and no money. He may in fact be the richest man on earth, but in the jungle it doesn't matter.

Society is their wealth. It's even the source of their language and ability to express themselves. In the past, Athenians realized this idea. They realized that Athens is what gave wealth any meaning at all. Literally the word wealth and also the supernatural amounts of wealth that some individuals accrued.

It's through this lens that we should consider a wholistic approach. Let Athens first take care of itself, then reward those who helped her grow better and stronger. Don't let a few wealthy athenians confuse you and say, because I'm wealthy, I get to make decisions legally and in the clear that enrich me and hurt Athens. No, we should not allow Athenian wealth be destroyed for the sake of a few Athenians!

Personally I count opportunity cost too, so all this time that wealth is being siphoned off into a few hands is creating a different future that we might otherwise have. What if we didn't siphon a trillion dollars into an expensive war in Iraq? What if my friend had not died on the battlefield? That stain still hasn't quite come out of our fabric yet.

jokoon 3 days ago 5 replies      
When individualism fails, all you end up with is egoism. The problem with individualism, is that it's only some form of organized egoism. People are content when their self-interest meet with others, but when they don't the whole thing crumbles and people blame the government and don't pay their taxes, because it's not their fault anymore.

Individualism is a really misleading word, because it easily is an excuse to dismiss the system entirely, pat yourself in the back, and blame all the ones who did not make it like you did. It is worse than egoism. Individualism becomes an excuse where people deserve their bad situation.

Individualism literally becomes the "no excuse". You're not a star? No excuse, did not work hard enough. No job, no friends? No excuse, you have a bad personality and are weak minded. TV appearance is the established ideology of success.

TheAlchemist 3 days ago 7 replies      
This guy is one of the most under-rated celebrities out there. Sure the films in which he played didn't help - I actually felt to the trap too.

His autobiography is just amazing - you realize he's just extremely smart, hardworking dude that also happens to have a vision.

bluedino 3 days ago 1 reply      
How does the bill burr joke go?

Move to a country where you can barely speak their language, become a millionaire, win their bodybuilding competitions for 5 years, become the biggest movie star, marry into their royalty, and then become governor of their largest state.

That's what Arnold did

schappim 3 days ago 4 replies      
That's some meticulously planned marketing by Tim Ferriss, right before his new book launch: "This essay was my foreword for the new book by Tim Ferris, Tools of Titans."Nice work!
koliber 3 days ago 6 replies      
Excellent way to illustrate an important concept.

Keep in mind that what he is effectively saying is that not one person on this planet is self-made.

Anyone who lives to an age to be able to express such sentiment is already indebted to their parents. They are indebted to anyone who has lent a help raising them. They are indebted to the society that provided the infrastructure that got them to where they are.

People need to take the cards that they are dealt. You can't change the past. You must be humble and thankful and not let your ego get the best of you.

That being said, the term "self-made" does have a meaning. It does not literally mean that someone is responsible for every piece of success. There is literally not one such person. Unfortunately, some people do take it to mean that. Pity and educate them.

The meaning it has is that they worked hard to take them from where they started to where they are. It describes the relative effort they exerted to advance. There is always help and luck involved along the way. Most of the time though, external help and luck will not be enough to arrive at success. Hard work is required.

Arnold is a self-made man. He did work hard to get where he is. I am happy he wrote this article to express gratitude for all those that helped him get there. The world would be a better place if more successful people realized that.

agentgt 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a child of the very early 80's besides my father Arnold was one of my role models growing up.

Given that I'm not at all a bodybuilder and prefer academic things I have generally avoided admitting that but the 80s were a different time.

In college I tried explaining my liking for Arnold and so many superficial things would come up that I would quickly dismiss the topic.

Many individuals are truly impressive if you take a deep holistic perspective of their accomplishment and who they are as person even with faults (on the other hand there are many that probably deserve less praise).

Yeah Arnold has been a sexist and I don't agree on his political stances but many of the greats I'm sure have some serious character flaws (e.g. Isaac Newton, Edison and Jobs were not exactly saints).

jstoja 3 days ago 1 reply      
To me, this is just being humble and I don't get the negative reactions of other comments.
iagooar 3 days ago 7 replies      
Using the topic, how is it that Tim Ferriss has such a huge following / impact? To me he lives in a fairy tale world, his pieces of advice are usually laughable and unrealistic. Basically, all he seems to do is so disconnected from real life.

Or am I missing something?

ceejay 3 days ago 0 replies      
As far as my experience tells me, it is hard to become truly successful in life. Where the history books will take note of what you became and what you accomplished. It boggles my mind that even with such great odds there are so many who actively work to prevent it, or work to cripple the ecosystems that are supposed to exist to enable people to become what they want to become and accomplish what they want to accomplish.
forgottenacc57 3 days ago 0 replies      
Arnold comes across as a genuine sort of person. You'd have to know him personally to know if that's true, but it's certainly the way he appears.
mshenfield 3 days ago 1 reply      
A subset of the "self-made" myth is that of the "self-taught". There are very few people (like the great lost mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan) who discover the things they know off of first principles, intuition, and curiosity.
andrewclunn 3 days ago 0 replies      
"To make apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." - Carl Sagan
6stringmerc 3 days ago 1 reply      
Arnold is quite the curiosity to me; in some ways he helped establish the myth vs. reality of "Work hard, eat your protein, lift weights, and you can be the muscle man too!" which isn't to be ignored, nor should the role of anabolic steroids in enabling the outcome seen on screen. He's grown a little more vocal recently about how massive the bodybuilding guys are now and rather distorted (possible ex: Seth Feroce), but it was his generation that helped bring in the modern era. I don't think Arnold has shied away from his past in this regard (hard to when having heart surgery more than likely linked to anabolic use), which, I guess I find refreshing.
danr4 3 days ago 6 replies      
Slightly off the main topic - has Tim Ferriss actually created something of value that didn't exist before? It seems everything he is about is telling about how other people create value.
qplex 3 days ago 0 replies      
I don't especially like his values when it comes to "bigger is better".

Don't get me wrong, it's good to be healthy and have muscle mass, but extreme bodybuilding is like burning rubber on a parking lot and never going anywhere with it.

Fuel and food is quite precious, at least on the scale of our spaceship earth.

ant6n 3 days ago 0 replies      
hellofunk 3 days ago 5 replies      
All this love on here for Arnold, but whenever I think of him, I can't get out of my head his debates and interviews during his campaign for Governor. He refused to let other candidates speak their turn, constantly interrupting with lots of bombast. He was rude and inconsiderate, and then I saw him on Ellen with his wife, and she had to physically cover his mouth with her hand because of the awful stuff he was saying. His wife eventually left him.

So while this is a great little article, it is just that: a crafted, written piece, well-edited and promoted. Perhaps it is sincere, but it is not the whole picture. And "humble" is not the word I'd have ever used to describe Arnold.

Torgo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Arnold might not be a self-made man, but he took what he was given, and did a million times more with it than I would have. And that counts for something.
hassy 3 days ago 4 replies      
Great message, but "self-made" never meant someone who became successful with no outside help. One is self-made if their fortune wasn't inherited, that's it.
known 3 days ago 1 reply      
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" --Isaac Newton
raheemm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Tim Ferris, the master marketer.
notadoc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nobody is.
sidcool 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ayn Rand would be intrigued to read this article.
uhtred 3 days ago 0 replies      
Calling it an essay is a bit far fetched.
gonvaled 3 days ago 0 replies      
As opposed to Peter Thiel ...
brakmic 3 days ago 7 replies      
So, this guy from Austria says Nelson Mandela is one of his idols?!

Freedom, Peace, Humanity....

Let's quote Wikipedia:

"On December 13, 2005, Williams was executed by lethal injection after clemency and a four-week stay of execution were both rejected by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, amid debate over the death penalty. Williams was the second inmate in California to be executed in 2005."


Usually, we call this Hypocrisy.

jdimov10 3 days ago 1 reply      
milansuk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Of course He is not a self-made man, he will be make by Skynet and travel back in time.
fagnerbrack 3 days ago 1 reply      
If this was marketing, it was a very good one.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), Narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), Psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), Sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others);
CPLX 3 days ago 2 replies      
Some good friends and advisors, incredible hard work, Primobolan, Deca Durabolin, and Dianabol, and you're all set.
Launchaco Instantly generate a responsive, free, website launchaco.com
924 points by marclave  5 days ago   164 comments top 59
ndarilek 5 days ago 11 replies      
This is interesting. I'm blind, and while I can think of ideas for products/side projects, designing a nice-looking website is such a huge momentum-killer. I mean, I know that I could just focus on features, keep the site design simple, and build a good design later. Then I visit <insert random Show HN here>, and half the comments are about how some UI element or other breaks on some combination of browser or other, and the last thing I want is to have my idea dismissed because it's ugly. I thought Bootstrap would help with this, but when my sighted GF takes one look at my attempts at site design, her first comments revolve around lack of color, and I don't even know where to begin with that. And yes, I know about themes, but sometimes that feels like I'd have to make my idea fit the theme, whereas this seems to let me pick and choose what elements I want.

Unfortunately, when asked to select a hero block, I'm greeted with a series of images. Would you consider adding alt attributes to these? If I knew roughly what they looked like, I could probably pick and choose something semi-appropriate for a given project. I don't know what other issues I'm likely to hit, but I'd be interested in providing additional feedback if this at all seems like a viable direction.

Also, just noticed I can't select a hero block via the keyboard. Items aren't tab-focusable and keyboard-selectable. Maybe this won't work at all for me, but I'd really like something between "Here's a fully-formed theme" and "Here's a completely inaccessible website builder that gives you a blank canvas and assumes you don't want to touch the final HTML." :) If anyone knows of anything like that, please do share.

prawn 5 days ago 3 replies      
Brilliant execution and so refreshing to just be given everything needed at the end rather than a download link via email. Throw in an optional donation button (so people can tip you $20, $50, $100, $150, etc) and careful hosting upsells to make it painless and this will become a solid earner. Well done and good luck - you're on the right track.
shostack 5 days ago 1 reply      
Really fantastic UI. And I LOVE party parrot at the end. Made me smile.

Depending on your target audience, I'd love to see some tooling to help with a signup form. Maybe offer some integration options (and an affiliate link) for Mailchimp or something else?

I'd also love the ability to easily create multiple pages linked to each other within the app. Sure I can create separate pages, but would be nice to have that done for me and add some basic organization.

Overall this is really awesome. Would love to know more about what technology you used to build this, why you built it, and what your future product/monetization plans are.

codingdave 5 days ago 2 replies      
Once I figured out what was going on, I liked it. But at first, I thought you were really trying to sell me domains the whole time. I thought it was a big marketing page for a hosting/domain service, and did not realize it was actually all editable. You really need to make it clear what is going on if you want to open this to a larger audience.
jwcrux 5 days ago 4 replies      
This is fantastic. One argument people will make (just like they did with Bootstrap) is that if every product used something like this, all the webpages would look the same.

To be honest, if all product webpages looked like this, I'd be quite alright with it, because this look great.

Well done!

gschier 5 days ago 1 reply      
The builder works very well once you realize what you're supposed to do. After designing the first block, I didn't realize I had to keep going. Maybe a more apparent CTA would be appropriate?

I'm curious, will you be adding a hosting option for these? Right now they provide a good starting point, but I would love a one-click hosting option so that I can quickly made a page and push it live. The ability to plug in things like Google Analytics token would also be awesome.

soneca 5 days ago 2 replies      
Asking for my email after letting me download my template??

I'm not sure if it is the most effective way to collect emails, but it sure is a good UX. As a reward, I included my email :)

dested 5 days ago 2 replies      
This is the most simple and intuitive template builder I have ever played with.
dbg31415 5 days ago 1 reply      
Really well done. Few quick questions...

Why not use an off-the-shelf grid system like Bootstrap or Foundation? Would probably make this easier to edit / extend for people already familiar with those layout frameworks.

For SEO... things like Page Title, Meta Description, OG/Sharing Meta Data... those would be good to add somehow. "Click here to add your fav icon / bookmark icon / social share icon / etc." At least adding them as empty fields so people know to add them in manually...

Could you add in semantic elements? Wouldn't take long to add those to the base template... http://www.w3schools.com/html/html5_semantic_elements.asp

Really nice tool, can see a lot of people getting use out of this.

wzy 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was pleasantly surprised this worked as well as it did, without the need for me signing up or providing an email.
annnnd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now THIS is how it should be done! Congrats to author! Where can we pay you? :)

This hits a sweet spot for me because I am in full control of HTML if I want it, but I can still put together a responsive page in literally a minute.

About missing colors and stuff - yeah, it would be nice if we could select background images, set more colors and similar, but that's secondary. Building a responsive skeleton is what this tool does for me, and first impression is great. Kudos!

drew-y 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice! Really easy to use and the templates look great. One question though:

> Launchaco website builder is licensed under CC0

Does that mean both the website builder itself and the website you build with it are CC0? And is the source to the builder available anywhere?

aaronpk 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was pleasantly surprised to receive a .zip file with the site after I made it to the bottom, rather than a call-to-action pushing me to sign up for some hosting plan! Well done.
0vermorrow 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love this. Also a super fan of the UI. Seamlessly led me to a download button with the source. They've coupled it with an awesome hosting setup process. I can promise you I will use this service for the very next project of mine.

Commoditisation of design cannot come soon enough! ( at least the web design part :) )

the_wheel 5 days ago 1 reply      
I noticed you posted Launchaco a few months ago. Why do you think this post succeeded in generating traction while the previous failed? Love the product!
tomschlick 5 days ago 0 replies      
nitpick: please enable HTTPS

I just had some issues on airline wifi because they man-in-the-middle the connection to inject their crappy "flight tracker" menubar and it covered some of the builder controls. That wouldn't happen with SSL and your visitors would be more secure.

navs 4 days ago 0 replies      
I absolutely love this and thats coming from a "professional" web developer.

I gave this to a client of mine to try for one of her personal projects and she was somewhat confused. After I pointed out the steps vs previews, she got the hang of it. But by that time she'd made a bit of a mess with a lot of extra feature blocks/steps.

She wanted a clean slate but it looks like you're storing progress in a cookie. Can we have a reset all?

While I'd love an arbitrary HTML block, the ability to add meta tags, custom fonts, blah blah...don't. If people want that kind of power there's a lot of alternative static site tools/CMS' out there.

pbrumm 5 days ago 2 replies      
Very interesting. I did loose track of the 4 steps and was confused on how to finish the project.
mxuribe 4 days ago 0 replies      
Holy smokes, this is such a useful tool! For any little updates that could certainly be applied in the future (e.g. adding more accessibility aspects, other color palettes, etc.), the sheer ease and speed with which I was able to create a website was absolutely astonishing, and overshadows any shortfall. I seldom share my email but submitted it in this case, because I believe this is a solid product, and I have this feeling the authors behind this tool really know what they're doing (as far as product dev.). Kudos to the creators! Great job!
moh_maya 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is just what I was looking for! I needed a simple landing page for our startup, and the layouts / design are perfect.

Quick noob question though: Do you have / are you planning to include templates where I can add video (hosted on Vimeo / Youtube) instead of the computer / browser images?

I know I can edit the HTML / CSS files, but my background is statistics / R, and I am wary of mucking up the code and spoiling the layout.

I signed up with my email. Looking forward to seeing where this goes, and would gladly pay for the service as & when you start accepting payments.

Thank you! :)

marclave 5 days ago 1 reply      
Fun fact: Every device is in pure css, this means adding your own app images is dead simple.
uberstuber 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love the builder! Wish I had seen this a week ago.
huula 5 days ago 1 reply      
Nice work! Really like the way you provide color palette instead wild crazy color selector for your user, that simplifies things so much! However, A common problem with this product and a lot of other template based website builders like Squarespace, Weebly, Wix is, you will end up creating so many sites that looks just the same. If you just want a clone, then I have nothing to say. But more customization and more unique intelligent generation certainly needs advanced models other than naive templates.
aaronm14 5 days ago 2 replies      
Really awesome. Surprised by how much time I spent on there. I noticed when I tried to download it in Safari, it didn't work because I don't think fetch is supported. Would have been good to get a notice about that earlier on. Would also be nice to see what exactly the download button is going to provide (just a zip of HTML/css/JS files I assume?)

Thanks for sharing, will probably come back to this. Happy to sign up for email updates

reacharavindh 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very efficiently done!

Love that you didn't force me with any annoying pop-ups or interfering spaces to ask for email. I gave you anyway, with my 100% will.

Looking forward to your finished product. My girlfriend wants to build a Yoga website to put in all her stuff and promote her private lessons. I was going to build it myself, but your product is so intuitive that I might give her this and ask her to build it herself!

beardog 5 days ago 1 reply      
Doesn't load at all without JavaScript :)
arikrak 5 days ago 0 replies      
This looks great but was a little confusing at first. Maybe make it clearer to the user what's going on so they know they're just building their own site.

I think it's nice not to have to enter an email at the end, but you'll miss out on a lot of emails. Maybe provide the prompt to enter an email first, but let them skip it.

voycey 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is great - I am literally just finishing a site that looks exactly like this (single product site). I would 100% use this for future things!

I agree about the donation buttons as well - even keep it to micro-donating - you would be surprised at how many people would use it!

vishyav 5 days ago 0 replies      
whoa this is the fastest product website process ever.
transposed 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool - I've had ideas for a few sites, but when the time came to create the site and get a half decent design going, I found myself running out of time to work on the actual content. Best of luck to your idea/service
Procrastes 5 days ago 0 replies      
Great idea. This could save me all sorts of wasteful dithering. Looks like it's broken right now. When I try to download, I get a file called "download.txt" which contains the text "Internal Server Error"
gilstroem 5 days ago 0 replies      
Super cool idea - Though one of my first interactions was to search for an emoji, which failed completely as it deleted my query when I typed more than one letter. (MacOS Sierra, Safari.) Other than that, thumbs up on the delicious UX.
emrahayanoglu 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's one of the brilliant service as I have ever tried.

Actually, I'll also consider to pay something to this wonderful service. I think producer should consider about adding premium staff for small prices.

colbyh 5 days ago 0 replies      
would like to point out that the author has not only built a tool that is making a bunch of people happy, but is also responding brilliantly to all comments with a super helpful tone. very cool all around.
nodesocket 4 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome job! It would be great if you added a pricing feature block.
keyle 5 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely put that "download" file as "template.zip" or something.

I was baffled getting a file without extension, and Windows 10 didn't see it as a zip, but just a binary blob.

forgetsusername 5 days ago 0 replies      
I haven't even checked the site out (yet, hear me out), but this is one of the most positive reactions I've seen on HN. So congrats on that already.
pqdbr 5 days ago 1 reply      
Could you please make it possible to add more than one social template and more than one footer template, just like you do with the feature blocks?
nedwin 5 days ago 1 reply      
Looks awesome. Have reviewed a ton of website builders and this is one of the easier ones.

Only problem is when I hit the download button the .txt file is blank.

ffef 5 days ago 0 replies      
When dark theme is activated you cannot see the headings "Name Your Business" or "Build Your Website" on the homepage.
blunte 4 days ago 2 replies      
I'm pretty used to being different from most people, but I'm not used to being so utterly different from the hackernews crowd as I feel right now.

Am I seeing a different website than everyone is talking about? All I see is a bunch of different boxes with links, where most links just shove me to some external service (GoDaddy, Twitter, Google Fonts, etc.)

Where's the "website builder"?

telekid 5 days ago 0 replies      
Holy hell this is well done. Congrats.
minhajuddin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Shameless plug, I made something related which makes testing out public static sites pretty easy. You can check it out at https://slugex.com/ It also allows you to deploy via the terminal. All you need is bash and curl :)
ayh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nice UI. Bad idea to do domain lookups on a site without SSL.
drivingmenuts 5 days ago 0 replies      
How do we make money?


Seriously, though. This is an interesting idea, but what's the endgame?

0x1d 5 days ago 0 replies      
Really good job! It turned out better than most templates.
demircancelebi 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great work. Do you have any plans to make it open source?
gavi 5 days ago 0 replies      
Very nice. For creating a quick app site, this is perfect!
Mgardepe 5 days ago 2 replies      
Reason I'm not getting into web development.
bgnm2000 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic.
Warp__ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Very Cool. Thank you. Will sign up :)
ekevjn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Find some excited site which you like and fit your business. Right click and there your template done!
SimianLogic2 5 days ago 0 replies      
looks great! could definitely see myself using this as a starter
izzydoesizzy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Holy shit this is incredible!
btcboss 5 days ago 0 replies      
T H I S I S E P I C !!!!!
manish7 3 days ago 0 replies      
nice product.
black2night 4 days ago 0 replies      
great work
kmeade 5 days ago 1 reply      
Sorry to be negative, but I'm honestly mystified by the complimentary comments.

First, attempting to set up a domain name sends me to some site named shareasale.com. The site is blocked on my system because I'm using the winhelp2002.mvps.org HOSTS file to block shady web sites.

Next, I follow the 4 steps to select the Hero, Feature, Social and Footer templates. How I'm supposed to make an intelligent choice based on the shadowy outlines is beyond me.

Finally, I'm apparently supposed to click the Download... link. This gets me a little "success" message - but the end result is a file called "download" with no extension. Renaming the download to download.zip gives me something to extract which is... a single HTML file plus css and image folders. Clicking on the HTML gives me a local copy of the launchaco main page with no sort of customizations or anything.


necrodawg 5 days ago 0 replies      
dude this is hella crazy nice yo. gonna use this for my next landing page
Google Makes So Much Money, It Never Had to Worry About Financial Discipline bloomberg.com
628 points by kjhughes  4 days ago   439 comments top 37
Periodic 4 days ago 22 replies      
So many companies try to emulate how Google works. There are multiple books, hundreds or thousands of articles. People speculate on the perks, the review structure, the hierarchy, the autonomy.

However, when other companies try to imitate Google they always fail because they're missing a crucial piece:

Billions of dollars in ad revenue

Google doesn't work the way it does to be successful. It works that way because it is successful.

I found this no more evident than when I worked on Google Search itself.

GCA10 4 days ago 7 replies      
Big companies seem to step in the same puddle, every time they try to set up one of these "breakthrough incubator" projects. They pick fascinating projects. They hire lots of smart people and give them great autonomy. But they inadvertently set up incentives that lead to the repeated creation of LINS (lavishly impractical non-solutions). And then the plug gets pulled.

I think the key problem is that the research team starts optimizing for periodic demo days with the boss. That's a sheltered environment in which clever (and easy to demonstrate) technical features are rewarded, and real-world annoyances involving customers, social norms, regulators, pricing, etc. are put off for "later." Not only are ecosystem problems not addressed, they aren't even vigorously considered.

The technology behind Google Glass was quite clever and some variant of that idea may eventually work. But what arrived on the market was LINS to an extreme. You can find similar failures in Detroit's concept cars, Paul Allen's first go at Vulcan, Xerox Parc's grossly overpriced STAR, etc.

I'm not sure how to fix this. Within the big-company budgeting system, it takes a daring CEO to allow super-innovative projects to break the usual rules about desired five-year ROIs. Once such a CEO takes a stand, it's really hard for him/her to get out of the way.

Suppose these CEOs do miraculously set up a system that approximates the scrappy, minimum-viable experiments of a true startup, with the marketplace being the true boss. That still is problematic. When a big company is pushing MVPs into the marketplace, the public scrutiny and scorn makes it really hard to recover from an awkward start -- and keep iterating in peace.

georgespencer 4 days ago 5 replies      
There's an interesting fiscal corollary of having unbridled ambition matched by enormous firepower which brings the world's smartest engineers and hackers together: a Xoogler who was early in the business once told me about how engineers would hack/exploit the travel allowance policy.

Google allowed folks to book their own flight and accommodation, and had an algorithm which determined rewards for folks travelling with financial efficiency.

The measure of 'financial efficiency' was an invisible coefficient tied to average hotel and flight prices in an area. So if the average cost of a trip from Mountain View to Boston for three days was $1,500, and you managed to do it for less, then you got back a cut of the difference either as a cash bonus or in points to spend on upgrades for hotels and flights.

After a while someone realised that a group of engineers were consistently booking shitty travel around the same time, and then travelling first class the rest of the year.

They had worked out what the algorithm was doing, and started scraping hotel prices themselves. They booked (spurious) cheap earlybird flights and hotels during conference season in various cities, sometimes years in advance, and took huge numbers of internal points from doing so.

The person describing the situation to me said there was a lot of discussion as to whether they should be fired or rewarded.

espadrine 4 days ago 9 replies      
Contrast Google's old way of managing bets with Tesla.

When Google started working on self-driving cars, they went about it academically. They did not plan a sequence of stepping stones that they could sell. They meant to have a product in an indeterminate future which should be immediately perfect and better than a human, essentially not needing a wheel.

Tesla went about it with an engineering perspective. First, cars that can send accumulated data over the Internet. Then, equipped with cameras. Then, with limited assistance, warning the user to take the wheel back in difficult situations. And sporadic updates adding support for more complex cases.

The end goal is identical; but they make money along the way.

focusgroup0 4 days ago 2 replies      
Xoogler here.

About a week after joining, and having partaken of the food, massages, meditation rooms, fitness centers, shuttle bus, sports facility, arcade, juice bar, tech stops, shwag etc. - I remember thinking to myself "whatever we do here must be ridiculously lucrative".

There weren't signs of obvious waste (at least in my org.), and coming from other corporate gigs where you had to pay for coffee it really opened my eyes to what a difference it makes for employee morale / productivity.

Animats 4 days ago 6 replies      
No one wants to face the reality that this is an advertising company with a bunch of hobbies.

Remember Nokia. They produced mobile phones with excellent quality, extreme ruggedness, good battery life, and good voice quality. Their manufacturing was highly automated and their costs were low. They focused on their core business. Recently, their CEO said "We did everything right, and we lost anyway".

On the other hand, Google has repeatedly failed to develop a second big money-making product. They failed at social. They failed at fiber-to-the-home. Android is a loss leader to drive ad traffic. Automatic driving may pay off, but that is being a component supplier to an car company, not a high-profit business. Google's second venture into smartphones might be a success, but that remains to be seen.

throwaway40483 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is the killer quote:

No one wants to face the reality that this is an advertising company with a bunch of hobbies.

It's so brutal but (IMHO) sums up Alphabet in one sentence.

Afforess 4 days ago 8 replies      
Google has a fundamental problem with solving challenging issues, especially those in the realm of physical "meat-space". Really hard problems, problems that might reveal that Google is not omnipotent, where Google might not succeed, Google pulls back from. In areas where Google is, Google dominates the landscape. In all others, Google does not deign to participate. If Google can't dominate a market, it is not interested.

> Former employees say Page became frustrated with Fibers lack of progress. Larry just thought it wasnt game-changing enough, says a former Page adviser. Theres no flying-saucer shit in laying fiber.

The issue with the physical world is that fundamentally, compared to a lot of software or hardware technology, it _is_ fairly boring. Boring work is also some of the most important work; the synchronization of traffic lights, the scheduling of flight paths, the minutiae of power line access, these are all boring, important things. A common reaction to boring problems by technologists is to throw computers at them. Build an algorithm to synchronize traffic lights. Build an AI to schedule flight paths more efficiently. I understand these reactions, the impulse to replace existing, less-optimal processes with stronger, more efficient, automated ones. Google does a really great job at automating things, its their core competency. However, automation can't solve all problems. You can't automate away political processes. You can't automate away property rights and fair access to power lines, and contracting construction work. Page clearly feels uncomfortable with this, and so he abandoned Fiber.

Honestly I am not sure Page was wrong to abandon Fiber. Google's core competency is automation and if they can't automate a problem, maybe they shouldn't be involved in the space. Or maybe Google should get a new core competency and learn new things. Teaching an old company new tricks is hard though. Very hard. So hard that most companies fail before they can ever adapt. Without being able to solve problems in the physical space, Google is fundamentally "locked-in" to only being able to solve digital problems in the digital world. This is why Google has no physical stores, no physical products (which are not manufactured by someone else - Chromebooks, Pixel, etc do not count. Prototyping is easy. Selling to customers in a retail store is hard). Microsoft had the same problem as Google once. It was hard for Microsoft to learn how to run stores, build its own products; it took Microsoft over a decade. Let's hope Google can learn too.

nunez 4 days ago 1 reply      
Yup. There was SOOOOOOOOO much bullshit work being done there that could ONLY be done because Google can afford so much top-notch talent to work on research, even if it reinvents the wheel. It was a big part of the reason why I left.

That being said, at least they didn't invest their dollars on loads of red tape, though to be fair it isn't like all of Google is incredibly regulated unlike many other multi-billion dollar companies

zigzigzag 4 days ago 2 replies      
The robotics effort sounds like an absolute disaster. How shareholders haven't been demanding answers there is beyond me. Acquiring 11 companies to, apparently, satisfy Rubin's obsession with robots (it's named Android for a reason) and then trying to shut them all down or flog them off ... but nobody wants them? Yikes. How did they get so starry-eyed about Rubin that keeping him (also failed) was apparently worth such a huge effort? Yes, he ran a successful operating systems project and fully demands enormous praise for Android's wild success. But where are the limits to retention efforts?
paulddraper 4 days ago 0 replies      
Really? "Never"

What about 18 months ago?

> Google Earnings: Profits Soar As The Company Reins In Cost


> Google shares surge on talk of cost discipline


Whatever, keep the narrative.

pritambarhate 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this article is trying to unnecessarily create issue out of something very obvious. It's very clear that Google's main source of revenue is ads. But that is backed by very strong products which are an integral part of billions of people's daily lives. Search, You Tube, Android, Gmail, Maps and a few others. As long as they maintain their lead in these products, their ad revenue is not going to go anywhere.

What's even more encouraging is that most of these products are improving with great speed every year. They are fighting the Cloud Battle very hard. So I think it is OK that some of the big dreams they have tried like Google glass and autonomous cars have failed. One needs to take big risks to get big wins. I think if they stopped these moon shot projects then it will be a thing of big concern, then they would have stopped innovating. Innovation is what give the Google "brand" it's aura, which makes people believe that whatever Google produces must be good. It gives them the edge.

cooper12 4 days ago 4 replies      
I'm no businessman, but does anyone else feel this will kill a lot of potential innovation? Not every project pays dividends immediately, and some are worth pursuing even at a long-term loss. (imagine if we all had fiber today and bandwidth was ridiculously abundant. Just how different would the internet be, just as when electricity became abundant?) Also I understand that Google is a business, but the need for a business model for research might stymy forays into interesting tangents. (I can't currently list any, but history is full of examples of things that were invented while looking for a solution to a different problem) Sure a company shouldn't be hemorrhaging money or throwing it at anything that moves, but it also shouldn't be completely beholden to (my generalization of) investors who can be quite short-term-thinking and risk-averse.
__derek__ 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was surprised to see no mention of Bell Labs or Xerox PARC in the article.
CM30 3 days ago 1 reply      
To some degree, this is like anything else in life, isn't it? The more successful/skilled/good you are at anything, the less you have to worry about whether you're doing things the 'right' way.

See for example, sports. A gifted athlete could quite easily defeat a far less gifted one with more 'technical knowhow' because they're simply more skilled by default and can hence make up for their inefficiencies or mistakes.

Or maybe any RPG game ever made. Come across a super powerful character or grind your party 100 levels higher than everything else, and it doesn't matter what tactics you use; you're simply too powerful to lose.


And the same obviously with companies, individuals and money. Enough money means even a lot of stupid decisions will work out well, whereas a competitor with much less will simply falter in the same situation.

throwawaygooglr 4 days ago 0 replies      
This thread being here today is rather ironically timed, given that Google announced internally today it isn't giving its employees any Christmas gift for the first time in its corporate history, presumably because of the financial impact.
bane 4 days ago 2 replies      
One of the problems with companies that have cash cow revenue streams is that it sometimes doesn't matter what kinds of decisions the executives make, poor or good, the money will keep rolling in...until one day it doesn't and nobody has a clue how to actually manage the rapidly sinking ship.

I've been studying Atari for quite a while, there's so many interesting pieces to the company and their success and failure, and it's all been so well documented and autopsied that it makes for a marvelous case study that still has amazing applicability today.

serge2k 4 days ago 1 reply      
> No one wants to face the reality that this is an advertising company with a bunch of hobbies.

great line.

> Many former X employees blame overexuberance on the part of Googles marketing division for the hostile reception that greeted Google Glass

it was $3000, hard to get, and what were people really going to do with it?

Sure. Marketing.

> He notes that although Glass was marketed to the public as the Explorer Edition, many people assumed it was a finished product.

Fair point, but how many years are people supposed to eagerly wait?

> The effort, known internally as Tableau and championed by Brin, had been a plan to create gigantic TV screens.

what? lol.

wrice314 4 days ago 0 replies      
Plenty of companies make so much money. Google didn't have to worry about financial discipline, not because it had so much money, but because it has an unassailable competitive position that is not aligned with its cost structure. Put simply, if you had the mandate to bankrupt a company through competition and had an infinite amount of money, I believe it would cost more to bankrupt Google than any other business.
digi_owl 4 days ago 1 reply      
Best i recall, the Glass problem was more Brin over-hyping than the tech itself.

And i do not recall reading about the car getting into trouble while under computer control. Either someone ran into it or it ran into something while human operated.

ftio 4 days ago 0 replies      
As the saying goes, Revenue Solves Everything.
brilliantcode 4 days ago 2 replies      
I feel like Google is still stuck in 2005. Not much has changed from top of my head.

All of their products are still based on their end-user being the product since everything is free and people expect it to be that way.

I don't see anything changing because they are literally printing money from their monopoly on online advertising. They have no serious competition and no, Facebook is not really great for targeted advertising unless you are a big brand.

Without any real external pressure as a result of their own success, it's beginning to look a lot like Microsoft of 2005.

Even from a developer's point of view, Amazon has usurped the cloud space with Azure now playing catchup and winning.

Much as Satella realized that Microsoft needs to stop being like Google and more B2B like Oracle, Google needs to find it's new place.

Vast majority of the public is unlikely to give a shit about their privacy in return for free productivity and entertainment but demographics change.

spitfire 4 days ago 0 replies      
Success is a very cruel mistress.

Without some sort of feed back cycle - usually given by the market, things grow in strange and perverse ways fast.

The trick is to develop a feedback cycle that isn't as harsh as the open market (manage by quarters!) without giving absolute free hand.

LiweiZ 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think Google has been trying to somewhat imitate how life under nature selection works. Bring basic-but-extensiable-happy-route-scoped projects to life to test markets and wait and see which one would have the DNA for the next boom. From this perspective, I think they actually allocate their resources very carefully and intelligently. But the next emerging DNA perhaps needs more than just luck. Maybe more persistent and focused effort. I guess W. Brian Arthur's work has not small influence on its strategy. In fact, if I recall correctly, he is/was some kind of advisor to Google. Just my personal speculation.
draw_down 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's funny to me that investors and biz press are surprised that Brin & Page meant what they said in the 2004 letter.
kwijibob 4 days ago 0 replies      
Google has some killer products that aren't just about adsense for the web:

Youtube - incredible future for revenueGoogle Docs/Spreadsheet/Slides - the future of productivity suites - easily monetisable when neededAndroid - dominating this space bodes very well

They are gently providing an entire computing stack that covers all a simple user might need: android/chrome OS/chrome browser/cloud

Yes they have a bunch of crazy hobbies. But they are dominating in a number of key spaces.

baccheion 4 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with it's lack of financial discipline is that the money isn't going to anything worthwhile. Everything they've advertised they're investing in that seems to be worth something either fails to go anywhere, or was just outright BS.

They essentially have a bunch of people doing nothing much in particular, going nowhere in particular, while acting on their whim and whatever their hand position happens to be on that day. It's even worse as they constantly try to claim they are about-- something greater.

It's hilarious. It's not that they are wasting money (ie, doing something worth something but that may not provide any returns, or something big and unconventional but that doesn't seem relevant at the time), it's that they are wasting money (ie, wasting money).

They are either doing what they're doing to make more money or to protect their revenue stream, or to be once again doing the dumbest thing.

Nothing really gets funding unless it's going to make more money, or serve as good PR to distract from how full of it they are or to try to brush aside failure.

These days, when their products fail, all I see is failure. That is, it probably took 2 years to develop whatever crap was released, rather than it being "early days" and them "trying many different things." They picked one thing, spent an eternity on it, pushed out absolute garbage, then failed.

Everything else that went somewhere or that could go somewhere gets caught in political gridlock, as the idiots descend to try to claim credit, while really trying to be the cliche they've always been: stomp out anything that's going anywhere, because... <insert whiny bitching here>.

nemo44x 4 days ago 0 replies      
Google is an oil state. They setup shop and pretty much hit a cash gusher.
nobrains 4 days ago 1 reply      
Innovation usually happens when there is scarcity of resources.
skizm 4 days ago 3 replies      
I always wondered if Google just fired all their engineers except a few top guys, and focused on their core money making products like search / ads / etc. and tried to stay as lean as possible (lean being a relative term), how much profit they could make.
randpeck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Brilliant article. Larry Page isn't impressed with Fiber because "it wasnt game-changing enough, and that Theres no flying-saucer shit in laying fiber. Definitely gives you a peak into the thought process of this giant.
mwexler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Funny, Microsoft used to talk this way in the 90s when IE and Windows ruled the roost. While they are still strong, they do now appear to worry more about financial discipline. Worrisome predictor for today's darlings?
return0 4 days ago 0 replies      
And it's not only ad revenue, it's also tax-avoided profits.
VeejayRampay 4 days ago 5 replies      
That Porat person is a serious contender for buzzkill of the year. Google makes tons of money with ads and spends it on geeky experiments to try to push a futuristic envelope (and create an environments where they can sell more ads, like a self-driving car) we'll all benefit from eventually and she gets to be the person that locks the toys away because "financial discipline".
nojvek 4 days ago 0 replies      
> The flying saucers will have to pay for themselves. If you work for me, you better understand that, he says.

While I'm all for commercialization. I think a lot of game changing technology takes a while to develop before they can be commercialized.

But google having too much money can be a curse as well. Best innovation comes when you think like a cockroach to survive.

serge2k 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Bill Maris, the CEO of its venture capital arm, GV

isn't google ventures doing pretty well though?

puzzle 4 days ago 0 replies      
Except in 2008, during a developing worldwide financial crisis, when the new CFO Patrick Pichette started figuring how much was actually getting spent on things such as cafeterias and childcare subsidies (for the onsite service).

So, yeah, never.

Things You Notice When You Quit the News raptitude.com
801 points by ysarbabi  1 day ago   464 comments top 85
cyberferret 1 day ago 8 replies      
I haven't had a TV in the house for nearly 8 years now, and don't miss it at all. The biggest problem to me, seems to be the 24 hour news cycle for things like wars, elections and the like.

I was visiting friends during a couple of major air accidents in the past couple of years (The MH370 and MH17 incidents in particular), and was astounded at the propensity for news stations on ALL channels to fill every minute of the day with news 'updates' on the events that eventually descended into getting quotes and theories from just about anyone they could get to talk in front of a camera.

I was only exposed to that for a few hours at a time, but I found it absolutely exhausting to be bombarded like that. Not only that, I used to be a commercial pilot, and I could not believe the amount of disinformation and outright ridiculous theories being bandied about by so called 'reputable' news sources.

No thanks. I would rather control my own news firehose, and be selective about the information that I want to learn more about.

pipio21 1 day ago 7 replies      
5. You are being manipulated by mainstream news.

You can learn Arabic or Russian and go to Ukraine or Syria or Iraq and inform yourself talking to the people there, both sides of the story, or you can let the TV media tell you what is happening.

I have done it(I don't know much Arabic and a little Russian but I have traveled there) and it is quite an astonishment that what TV shows you has nothing to do with reality. I remember talking with a Syrian showing me a CNN video from US News of a Syrian manifestation(from natives that were being flood by foreigners with bad intentions), they reduced the audio volume and told everybody the manifestation was from the other side(the side that US was supporting).

The fact is that people that understood Arabic could listen what the protesters were saying and they(CNN) DID NOT CARE.

They did not care because it is a numbers thing, most Americans don't know Arabic, and millions of them will watch the channel and make themselves an idea from the eyes and ears that people in power have chosen for them.

The city where the protesters went into war and was bombarded for years and nobody displayed it on the news. Now it is displayed every single day because the people the US is supporting is losing there. Now it is so important civilians in this city, when for years they simply did not exist.

If you control the perception, you control the emotions that people will feel, and you could make them do exactly what you want. They will even believe they are "free", because they are to behave as they wish, but they are not because emotions are quite automatic.

wu-ikkyu 13 hours ago 1 reply      
>nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. the real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knolege with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live & die in the belief that they have known something of what has been passing in the world in their time: whereas the accounts they have read in newspapers are just as true a history of any other period of the world as of the present, except that the real names of the day are affixed to their fables. general facts may indeed be collected from them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great portion of Europe to his will &c &c. but no details can be relied on. I will add that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. he who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.

-From Thomas Jefferson to John Norvell, 11 June 1807


ideonexus 15 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the contributors of FiveThirtyEight made an observation that, along with this article, has convinced me to start filtering out the news. They were discussing what public policy initiatives we could expect from the incoming administration, and she said that she could not speculate on the subject because Donald Trump's signal-to-noise ratio in his public statements was so low as to render forecasting initiatives impossible.

That's the problem here. The signal-to-noise ratio is too low in the news in general. I've spent the whole last year reading speculation about Clinton's emails, Trump's cabinet picks, and shocking news from "anonymous sources" that turned out to be 99% noise when the final draft of the news came out. Why did I waste so many hours reading baseless speculation masquerading as authoritative information?

I'm not wasting my time on noise anymore.

bshimmin 19 hours ago 15 replies      
I can't really get onboard with this. A lot of the comments here, and the commentary in the article itself, talk about how depressing the news is, how biased it is, about Gell-Mann amnesia -- and they're all right. But from my own experience, the people I know who don't follow the news (either at all, or extremely minimally) are spectacularly ill-informed; they get their news either third-hand (which suffers from all of the aforementioned problems plus being re-reported poorly), or not at all, and operate with only the sketchiest understanding of what's happening in the world. They aren't going to "read three books on a topic" (from the article), they're just going to remain oblivious. And that's far worse, in my opinion.
codingdave 1 day ago 6 replies      
I quit watching the news right around 1999. My family once challenged me how I knew about important events, and I told them that people in my life would let me know if anything occurred that I needed to know. They challenged me by quizzing me on major recent events. When they did find one that I had no idea about, they asked, "See? Nobody told you about that!" I replied, "You just did." And they have not argued about it again. They do continue to inform me, though, and it all works out.
athenot 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I stopped watching TV news about 15 years ago. But I was an avid consummer of news on the Web until about 2 years ago and severely curbed it to preserve time and mental bandwidth.

But I realized that I would still read articles based on whatever was in my social media feed, and that tended to gravitate towards the affect-driven news that I fled when I stopped watching TV news.

So recently I subscribed to a good old-fashioned newspaper (NYTimes). It kills trees, it's not real-time, it gets wet outside. But I get to read news in a different mind-set:

- I found I'm now reading news to understand, not to prepare a witty reply/comment.

- I enjoy the dryness of the paper medium as it further decreases the emotional appeal.

- Op-Eds/columns are clearly marked as such; I find the distinction more obvious than online where the context of "today's paper" doesn't really exist. I still read them but I'm placing their contents in a better context.

- Reading the news has become more efficient. Instead of using news as a time-filler between holes in my day (and invariably getting distracted), it's a one-time review that takes just a few minutes depending on how much I want to read. It's counter-intuitive but the by-product is that now I'm happy to ignore news articles when they come across my feed online (unless it's some specialty topic). That ends up being a time-saver.

booleandilemma 1 day ago 2 replies      
In Neal Stephenson's novel Anathem, there are different groups of intellectuals that have been cloistered from society, and they may only re-enter it for a short time every year, decade, century, or millennium, depending on what group they're in.

Because of this, they only get summaries of the most important things that have happened, and they are left with plenty of time for scientific pursuits.

mmaunder 1 day ago 3 replies      
Agreed there is a lot of garbage news. The trouble comes about if you aren't up to speed on current events that affect you.

Just a simple example from today: The CIA's claims regarding Russian election hacking. I'm the CEO of a cyber security company and I'd hate to think what would happen if someone asked me about that and I wasn't aware of it. It's not just CEO's that need to stay current. If you're in PR, policy, marketing, communications, law, research - all of those professionals benefit in many ways by knowing what is going on right now.

Our company heard about the Mossack Fonseca data breach earlier this year and went and figured out a likely vector they used to gain entry within 24 hours and published. I had journalists from the AP on the phone within a few hours.

Certainly there are jobs that can get away with a news blackout. But I'd consider carefully if you're one of those. And I must agree that many days I wish I could just turn it off. The signal to noise ratio, particularly on the mainstream news outlets, is atrocious.

imranq 1 day ago 1 reply      
TV is one of worst forms of media out there. It is practically the definition of mind control and although there are multiple channels, there is a strange sense of groupthink.

This is similar to the Murray Gell-Mann amnesia effect, where famed quark discoverer Murray Gell-Mann opens the newspaper and reads a physics article. He is disgusted at the lack of research, the blatant misinformation, and random theories disguised as respectable reporting. Then he flips to another section - like politics or war - and reads it as if it was somehow more accurate than the nonsense he just read.

alistproducer2 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is incredibly relevant to me rn. I recently cut the cord and quit FB. I legitimately do feel much happier. My FB feed was just a stream of things to get pissed about and MSNBC was just filling my head with other people's opinions.

Here's my daily routine:

skim thehill.com, politico.com, reddit.com/r/news for headlines

zerohedge.com when I want to see what's going on in right-wing land

newsblok.com if I want to see what the crazies are talking about without giving them clicks

thenation.com and theatlantic.com to see what liberals are pissed about today

slate.com for mainstream opinion pieces

verysmartbrotha.com for a laugh

salon.com and rawstory.com for the lulz

truthdig.com and counterpunch.org for neoliberal bashing essays

cnbc.com to check the markets

eutropia 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the movie Nightcrawler(2014) really nailed that creepy feeling I get from TV News. There's an aura of desperation, of lowest-common-denominator, hits-you-in-the-amygdala kinds of coverage."

Nina: We find our viewers are more interested in urban crime creeping into the suburbs. What that means is a victim, or victims, preferably well off and white, injured at the hands of the poor or minority.

Lou Bloom(Jake Gyllenhaal): Just crime?

Nina: No, accidents play, cars, busses, trains, planes, fires

Lou Bloom: But bloody

Nina: Well, graphic, the best and clearest way that I can phrase it to you, Lou, to capture the spirit of what we air is think of our newscast as a screaming woman, running down the street with her throat cut.

Lou Bloom: I understand."

ssaunier_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
Must-(re)read: http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/hatethenews - it was 10 years ago.
veddox 18 hours ago 1 reply      
While I wholeheartedly agree with the author that we often spend way too much time "consuming" news, I do not agree with him that following the news is totally superfluous. As a citizen, I want to know what is going on in my country and what the government is doing about it, so that I can take an informed decision come the next election. I also want to know what is going on abroad because I have friends scattered all over the world, and I want to know if there is anything major that might affect them. (Quite apart from the fact that global news often impacts national government.)

There was a time when I got my news from the BBC website (I have never really watched any TV). It was very interesting, I heard a lot that I wouldn't have otherwise heard - but in the end I used up hours of time without truly learning anything. Nowadays, I get a daily news digest via email; just one short paragraph telling what has happened and where (takes about two minutes to read). I have also subscribed to a respected national weekly newspaper that doesn't so much report news as comment on current developments (takes about four hours to read).

This combination of small daily updates plus detailed weekly analysis is working out very well for me. I stay abreast of current events while not wasting any time on half-baked articles, but also don't miss out on thought-provoking quality journalism. Not a bad situation, really.

gbog 1 day ago 3 replies      
I found out that having no news at all is not so good, because you don't want friends and colleagues to believe you're living in a cave. But you only need the two three important headlines in the week, and I get these from Wikipedia home page.

Also, if you are concerned by a topic, say war in Syria, just get your meat from Wikipedia article, it's not perfect but it beats all other info sources by very far.

habosa 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A few summers ago I went three weeks without any news at all. No TV, no internet, and even avoiding physical newspapers.

At the end of the three weeks I was excited to go online and see what I had missed. I found that I had not missed a single thing worth knowing about in the long term. All the energy I would have spent on the news in that time would have been for nothing.

I am back to being a daily news consumer but I wonder how much time I am wasting.

jtcond13 1 day ago 0 replies      
Americans used to have an institution that gave them a steady diet of relevant news. It gave them a healthy mix of local, state, federal and international news in reasonable doses that could be read over dinner. It mainly gave its readers reason to consider whether the darn politicians in $STATE_CAPITAL were doing their damn job or whether the town council really had any reason to be raising taxes. It was called the local newspaper.

~15 years ago, we abandoned this to spend our free time sharing Buzzfeed quizzes with one another.

gurneyHaleck 1 day ago 3 replies      
There was a period of time, starting upon the day of, and then continuing for some years after the 9/11 attacks, where "The News" was something you couldn't help but be engrossed by.

Growing up during an era of Johnny Carson, in a house with no cable, and attending high school in the 90's, "The News" was something very different prior to 9/11.

24 hour cable news started providing information on fast moving events, and that was relevent, in the lead up to the Iraq war, when everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It was obvious something bad would come out of 9/11, but what? There were hushed whispers of an Iraq invasion exfiltrating into grapevines by word of mouth (but not in the news, and not on TV) as early as January 2002, but would it become a reality? And if so, my god, why?

By summer, word of mouth was firm. Iraq was going to be a thing, according to people with family members in the military. And so, you waited for that to show up in the news.

By 2005, George W. Bush had been re-elected, and there was no longer any relevant information to be had.

The ruse was over. It was clear that cable news was a sham. Popcorn, for the mob attending yet another gladiator tournament at the colosseum.

twblalock 1 day ago 0 replies      
I stopped regularly watching the news a while ago. I read the news from a few online sources. The consequence of this is that most TV news looks like breathless hysteria and fear-mongering when I do happen to watch it.
cylinder 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't have much to add other than I agree with all these points and suggest more Americans ignore the so called "news" we're being pushed with into hysteria. Also your Facebook feed is probably a huge drain, I'd recommend unfollowing everyone or at least aggressively curating down to people and things you truly care about.
rdtsc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> Being concerned makes us feel like were doing something when were not

Corollary: retweeting about being concerned also does nothing. That is, retweeting about climate change won't reduce emission. It might feel good but does nothing. Retweeting about homelessness and telling everyone to be concerned about it does nothing to clothe, provide shelter or food. The article mentions about a substitute effect and I think it is even strong when it comes to spreading concern via social media, there it feels even more like "doing something".

nilved 1 day ago 1 reply      
I thought that "quitting the news" meant not consuming news, not simply abstaining from watching TV. At this point I feel like watching news programs is more unusual than not.
agumonkey 19 hours ago 1 reply      
What seals the deal about news is that for the vast majority mainstream medias are both late and innacurate[1] compared to just reading from upstream sources (medicine, technology, economy, geopolitical events). Also now twitter and the like are taking the night spot. Anything happening then won't be covered by most medias, or in a hurry which means they'll be as crude as a twitter feed.

Lots of wasted "brain" time.

[1] In fields I know it's completely useless to listen. Makes you wonder about other fields too .. It feels like entertainment rather than information.

ps: I'll add the neurotic swing of medias. So many crysis (greece, ...) you hear about for a month constantly. Then nothing. No follow up or so rarely. It just doesn't matter what they say.

secabeen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing about skipping the news completely is that it's dependent on you not being impacted by a black swan event that significantly and negatively impacts you. The White migrs from Russian in the early 20th century and the Jewish refugees from Germany in the 30's show clearly the value of paying attention to the news. Not doing so can cost you your life.
Steeeve 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Most important line in the article, in my opinion:

> Their selections exploit our negativity bias.

Which is true of a whole heck of a lot more than just mainstream news. Some people go overboard and try to get rid of all negative influences in their lives, but that's just going from one extreme to another.

A lot of social media is negative - because controversy inspires discussion, discussion means engagement, engagement means value.

There's too much focus in online engagement in the form of controversy and I'm of the opinion that it is a very bad thing. There's all kinds of room for innovation and disruption in the form of solutions that create healthier online engagement.

joescrepes 1 day ago 0 replies      
>And I wonder if theres a kind of substitution effect at work here. The sense of at least I care may actually prevent us from doing something concrete to help, because by watching sympathetically we dont quite have to confront the reality that were doing absolutely nothing about it.

This is something I heard mentioned a long time ago specifically relating to creative ideas. The concept was that you shouldn't rush to tell people about a new idea because that expression of it serves as a form of release.

ChuckMcM 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I really resonate with the 'read three books on a topic and you'll know 99% more than the rest of the world.'

That is a bit extreme but it is true that very few people actually try to learn about things that the news makes them concerned about. That said, I do record the news on my DVR, skip to the weather forecast and then fast through the sports highlights. That way when I go to the office if I'm asked about how the local team did or did I see that move or play I won't be completely clueless. And I don't leave without rain gear if its going to rain. Those are pieces of information I can use.

transposed 1 day ago 0 replies      
You're probably a few orders of magnitude more informed if you only read a handful of full length, investigative articles per year (compared to 1-2 hours of news every day). It's a big world, but every now and then I'll sit down and give my undivided attention to a well written piece where the journalist traveled to multiple locations to interview several or more people. Sometimes it's shocking, and most of the time I feel appalled by the end of the article, but I have to forget about my own minor struggles and learn about what real people are going through outside of my bubble.
wmccullough 1 day ago 1 reply      
If information was enough we'd all be billionaires with perfect abs.
kelvin0 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's my personal recipe:* Call cable company and cancel cable TV

* Buy an Ouya (I was a kicktstarter supporter!)

* Buy an older (non-smart) LCD flat screen TV

* Download BBC documentaries

Never have to watch news and ads again! And also you are getting to choose what you want to watch and when!

And seriously, what beats watching "Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity -- Jim Al-Khalili BBC Horizon" and geek out!

jokoon 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I've always thought that reading the news is only informing you of the very recent events, but by doing so, you lose the context of what is really important, which is the opposite of how history works.

One way to be better informed would be to read a daily digest of world history and contemporary geography. I often watch a german/french short TV show called "Le dessous des cartes" (translates to "Under the Maps"). This show is fabulous, because it explain a lot of political, economical and geographical context to explain the world and specific countries and their problems. It's backed up by scientific data, but is also able to do some geo-political analysis. I have not found any equivalent in the Anglo-saxon world.

Once you know about the basics of what countries have what regimes, their economies, their history, you realize you learn nothing by reading the news.

UhUhUhUh 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I grew up in a world where the "news" were streaming through teletypes from "agencies", themselves connected to field "reporters", to newspapers and radio or TV outlets. These were Reuters, AFP, UP, AP, Stass, etc.These news were the kernels from which outlets would develop their own interpretations.This kind of news still is, I contend, the only one worthy of the term, stimulates interest and does not provide any answer to the questions/problems they may raise. That's my job.My daily ration is composed of sources that are as close as possible to such format. Mostly scientific news, HN, and France24.Re. the OP, I think anyone could at least agree that not watching the "infoshows", as I think it is appropriate to call them, results in an improvement in one's mood.
ywecur 1 day ago 0 replies      
A good alternative to normal news is slow journalism


miobrien 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree with some of the points in the article. The "news" has become a hydra-headed monster - the media has turned everything into news. And it has also merged news with entertainment.

However, I don't think refraining from the news will solve these issues.

I think you don't need to read the news every day.

I think each person needs to diversify its consumption. IMO you can rely on any single source anymore. I'm not saying you need 100 different sources. But I think you should be actively jumping around to see what other outlets are saying.

Finally, although people should have opinions about a wide range of subjects, I think people need to realize that - a lot of the time - they just shouldn't have an opinion on an issue because they're not qualified to really make an informed one. In sum, opinions are cheap; be more open-minded.

Tempest1981 1 day ago 4 replies      
The local news seems to always be about murders and violence. Why is it beneficial to learn about every instance of "humans behaving badly"?

(Celebrities, ok, maybe, but random people?)

iUsedToCode 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I unplugged my antenna almost two years ago. The only time i switch the TV on is when i wanna watch a movie on a bigger screen -- but i only connect my laptop to it. The antenna is cut right through.

There were a couple of moments when i was exposed to news. I couldn't believe it's this much manipulated and in your face sensationalist. Watching this everyday must be toxic as hell.

I spend lots of time on the internet though, so it's not like am disconnected. I just dodge the most vulgar of manipulations (i hope).

yakult 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine if your demographic disproportionately heeds the author's advice while nobody else does. The first downside you might notice is when the next president gets elected on a platform of taxing your demographic into space, with zero opposition. You won't notice the coverage, obviously, but you will notice the decreased paycheck.

You have not had to do much about what's in the news because your demographic have been disproportionately media savvy.

mcshicks 1 day ago 0 replies      
I read the headlines of Google news. That way when someone invariably asks me if I heard about this or that I can say "yeah I read that in the headlines". Otherwise people sometimes tell you what they read which is worse than actually reading the article.
eigenbom 1 day ago 2 replies      
Hacker News, I could never quit you.
kriro 17 hours ago 0 replies      
"""Imagine if you spent that time learning a language, or reading books and essays about some of the issues they mention on the news."""

This seems like a bootstrapping problem. How do you know what issues you should study up on. As a thought experiment, let's imagine a person that is completely ignorant of the news. How would they even know that Syria is worth researching without stumbling upon it by accident or getting input from another person that consumes news?

I think the pledge here is for better news and not for no news. I strongly believe that staying informed about what's going on in the world has value. It builds empathy and curiosity about different cultures and problems other people may have.

Animats 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Ignoring local news has its downsides. I didn't find out that someone I knew was mayor of Palo Alto until his second term.
gpayal 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Point #5 is spot on. "Being concerned makes us feel like were doing something when were not". Just watching the news and feeling that I care so much actually makes us less likely to actually do something about it.
etrautmann 1 day ago 1 reply      
The biggest question for me is how to track important world or national events without tracking the 24 hour news cycle. I'd like to understand trends that unfold over weeks, but not days, like a low-pass filter on the news. The best I can come up with is reading the economist, but I'm looking for better ideas.
boggydepot 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Related, a documentary film by John Pilger about the news we get:


As for the "concern" topic. I believe it's an evidence that you have to do something about it. But first, one must seek out the truth just as Socrates advised us millennias ago. Living comfortably is just not possible in an unexamined life because we are by nature rational beings. You can probably ignore, as they say, ignorance is bliss, but only until it hits.

tomohawk 19 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why the break from political news on HN is so welcome. Just about any topic that has a partisan angle is going to be reported with a big slant, or outright fabricated.

There are plenty of other venues for that.

ivanhoe 17 hours ago 0 replies      
To me this is a bit like throwing out all the mirrors from your house because you don't like your new haircut. You can ignore all the news, but the world producing those news will still be out there, exactly the same (good/bad/evil) and you'll still have to live in it. Keeping your eyes shut can help your inner peace, but it will not stop outside problems from hitting you in the face just as hard as anyone else. Except that you will not see them coming...
jyriand 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I would suggest this as a 30 day challenge. Remember doing it a while back. Found out that I had no idea what my colleagues were talking about when they started discussing some recent events. I was buzzled for a few seconds, feeling like I must have missed something important, but then I remembered that I'm doing this challenge. But it's interesting to observe how people start talking about recent news as if this was common knowledge.
webwanderings 1 day ago 1 reply      
Last time I glanced over local news channel on TV, I was surprised to see some anchors look old, and some as same as I used to see them 10 plus years ago.

Sometimes when I'm in McDonald's or such places and I glance over their TV to see CNN running, I really wonder why in the world people spend their time watching these things.

Well, I have on multiple occasions gone as far as to not read the news for many days through my RSS (where I have all the sources of the world). That would make you feel even a lot better.

Aside from all the advantages listed there (all true) I'd say that the only disadvantage of not "watching" the news is, that you may miss out on the moving video scenes of some of the most iconic events in history, because TV repeats these things. But even that is not really a disadvantage.

pacomerh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Honesty yes. The news can affect peoples perception of other places to detriment. For example, often my friends or family who live in a other countries ask me about how bad crime is where I live, or how people are struggling with the economy etc. I mean, of course thats all they see, from my perspective everything looks pretty balanced out, yes I'll hear about something bad from time to time, but it's really not as bad as the sensationalism and extremist statistics they get from the news. So yes, the less news the better, if its that important you'll hear about it.
imartin2k 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I took a break from Twitter because of the community's obsession with (mostly depressing) day to day news and the outrage about it.
tbihl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know that I've ever properly followed the news. The closest I came was regularly reading Business Week as recently as ten or so years back. It was, then, approximately the same as reading the first 80% of each article in the economist. It didn't have that final segment where the writer acts so proud of him/herself for reaching obvious or silly conclusions, but it had the great information. Unfortunately Business Week started to grow increasingly lengthy, and the writing quality probably declined somewhat in the same time.
Arkaad 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't help but feel that this article was targeted toward TV news.I usually read the news online. And most of the time, reading only the title is enough to be informed.It just takes a few minutes per day.
alkonaut 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm thinking this article is US-centric, yes?

I haven't felt that my news are spun to be sensationalist, have a negative bias etc.

I watch public service news mostly. Do americans feel this way about C-Span or PBS?

masondixon 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I could not name any news outlet today that I would consider unbiased or trustworthy. Every news outlet seems to unashamedly have a clear political affiliation.

Can anyone suggest one?

Waterluvian 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Go to CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc. and count the number of "scary or negative" headlines/links. You can be the judge on what's scary/negative. I bet you it's probably near 90%.
rosege 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is QI - Philosopher Alain De Botton's take on the new industryhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKvOW6RwmFg
known 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If you don't read a newspaper you are uninformed. If you do read a newspaper, you are misinformed.
daxfohl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
News is one thing, political spin is another. I think news is good. Most "news" is really political spin though. As a US citizen, what I did was start only reading UK news. That helps because I'm not interested in UK politics, and articles about US politics there are both fewer and a little less spinny. So reading BBC/Guardian lets me focus more on the actual things happening in the world.
white-flame 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I find the best source for current events news is large general internet forums, if it's not related to some hyper-selective socially slanted cluster like social media groups. You tend to get multiple perspectives, but also a higher chance of having actual people close to or directly informed about the goings on, and hopefully decent moderation to keep the discussion sane.

Real perspective and information is nearly impossible to get from for-profit sources. It's not really what they peddle, but rather sizzle and shock value.

jeffdavis 1 day ago 0 replies      
How much of this applies to tech news, or in general, news targeted to your field of interest/employment?
dbg31415 1 day ago 0 replies      
6) Watching "the news" makes you mad because it just seems like sensationalized bullshit when it's on in the background. You wonder... "How do people watch this dribble?" or "How could anyone believe this?" If your "news" ever says that something is good or bad... it's just an opinion piece.

It's very hard to find impartial news outlets that aren't just pandering to confirmation bias, or that don't have an agenda. Sucks about all the competition for attention on the internet... people realized that they can catch more bugs with honey, and so they just tell their audiences what they want to hear.

Clubber 1 day ago 0 replies      
6. Anything important is obfuscated anyway. Most of what we get now is mostly just emotional filler.
graycat 1 day ago 1 reply      
IMHO, a lot of what is in the OP is correct, but I conclude that a more nuanced view is important.

Yes, I have long wanted, andstill want, to knowwhat is important, both to mepersonally and more generally, about whatis going on in the world sostill make efforts to be so"informed". Then, over time,I went through much of thenegative views about news in the OP: (1) One summer while in college, I was with my parents in DC and read The Washington Post,a lot of it,everyday andat the end of the summer concludedthat I'd learned next to nothing and99 44/100% had just wasted time. (2) Later, one day I counted and found that, in trying to be informed, I was getting 22 print periodicals,concluded that even the 22 were nottelling me much of value, and cutway back. (3) I happened tonotice in an Andy Hardymovie from the 1930s thatthen, too, apparently the movie makersbelieved that their audiencewould accept that the news wasjunk information. (4) I have left over fromthe past three quite goodTV sets and with my phone andInternet service have some TV servicefor no extra charge.Still, I have no TV set connected toa cable or any other source and haven't watched TV in years with one exception:I tried to watch the first Republicandebate on TV; mostly that wasa flop. I watched the debate lateron the Internet and got and reada transcript -- much better.

For the mainstream media, sayAP, Reuters, NYT, WaPo, Boston Globe, LAT, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC,NBC, Slate, Salon, Huffpo, Business Insider, and more,I have a triage:

(i) I am willing to glance at theheadlines if only to see whatnonsense the MSM is pushingonto the public now. And if therereally is a big story, say,a nuke exploded somewhere, thenI will want to know andlikely that will be in the headlines.Also I get somelessons by example in, say, PR nonsensefrom some experts in getting attention from even usually next tonothing in meaningful content! Like in the remark about writing news stories of the reporter in theoriginal version of the movieThe Thing, if the real storyis not good, then he "will make itgood". So, the news distortingthe truth is an old story. I also learn about "thecommon man in the street" --from the fact that millions ofpeople watch that stuff --maybe the most important thingcan learn from watching the newsis about peoplefrom the fact that each day hundredsof millions of people pay attentionto that stuff!

(ii) Any article written by a reporter or news organization,e.g., AP, I nearly always refuseto take seriously or even readat all anymore. From my hugesample of such articles I didread in the past, I assume that such an article failseven common high school termpaper writing standards formeaningful, trustworthy contentand that it is likelysome or all ofuninformed, misinformed,biased, and deliberately distorted, fabricated, orlying. I say that such articlesare (borrowing from theBogart movie The Maltese Falcon),with bitter contempt, by newsies and nearly alwaysrefuse to read them or, if read themfor some special reason,flatly refuse to take thecontent at face value.

(iii) I am eager to pay attentionto news stories on topicsI'm interested in and signedby people with high credibility. Mostly for such an article,I keep a copy on my computerwith a reference to the sourceand with an abstract and anentry in an index.

I believe that staying "informed"is important: E.g., here in theUS we just had an electionfor POTUS. IMHO, the two maincandidates were very differentand promised significantlydifferent, better/worse, results for the USand even my own life.

So, first,I tried to say informed and, tosome extent, more superficialthan I would like, did.And by watching the campaigns,the candidates, and the reactionsof the newsies and citizens, Idid get some educationin such things -- I got somemore insight into people, personalities, politics, e.g.,stuff I didn't learn muchabout studying mathematics!

And, second, I got involvedby practicing my writing andposting on-line --so, I tried to do better asa US citizen.

So, sure, now I get essentiallyall my news from the Internet.One important approach is touse HN as a filter to find more importantcontent.

Here at HN, often there are references to articles at the NYT. Unless such articles appear to besigned by peoplewith credibility andindependent of the NYT,I flatly, automatically refuseto read them. I have,maybe with one exceptiona decade, zip, zilch, and zero respectfor anything the NYTthinks or believes.

The Internet permits a newsorganization, maybejust some one person,to reach nearly everyonewho might be interestedin content from that person.From that fact,I am guessing that the Internet --that does permit deeperpresentations of information --is the key to anirresistible, radicaltransformation of publicunderstandingand effectiveness inthe US democracy.

So, net, with some nuance, I disagree with some of the OPand conclude that the news and staying informed,are important.

dba7dba 1 day ago 0 replies      
This 'old' book from last century (that is year 1999) sums up well why you don't need 'news'.


Excerpt from desc of the book:

Sommerville argues that news began to make us dumber when we insisted on having it daily. Now millions of column inches and airtime hours must be filled with information--every day, every hour, every minute. The news, Sommerville says, becomes the driving force for much of our public culture. News schedules turn politics into a perpetual campaign. News packaging influences the timing, content and perception of government initiatives. News frenzies make a superstition out of scientific and medical research. News polls and statistics create opinion as much as they gauge it. Lost in the tidal wave of information is our ability to discern truly significant news--and our ability to recognize and participate in true community.

open-source-ux 1 day ago 3 replies      
Well, I guess it depends on your news source. I'm from the UK and I've always thought the following about US news vs UK news (and this may be a bit stereotypical):

- US TV news: hopelessly biased and sensational, sometimes hysterical.

- US newspapers: outside of the tabloids, generally serious and reputable. Ethics and integrity are taken seriously within the profession (even if not always adhered to).

- UK national newspapers: hopelessly biased, shrieking headlines, foaming-at-the mouth hysteria, click-bait headlines galore. Self-centred, nasty, unpleasant, possibly the most racist press in Europe.

- UK TV news: far from perfect, but strives for impartiality, balance and even-handedness

- UK radio news (BBC dominates): possibly better than TV news because you don't get the emotive visuals. (But, of course, sometimes pictures can convey the magnitude or seriousness of an event more than just words.) Also, unlike TV, you can access BBC radio news wherever you are in the world for free.

CSMastermind 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I traded in TV news for The Wall St. Journal, New York Times, and Economist. I read Ars and Hacker News for tech stuff. I get my sports news from Reddit. Best decision I've ever made.
pow_pp_-1_v 1 day ago 1 reply      
I depend on NPR and PBS for the news. It might not be the most impartial source when it comes to U.S. involved foreign affairs but it is much better that all the rest that's available.
ianai 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who feels compelled to watch just to see whether another 9/11 is ongoing? Like after a while of being disconnected.
charlex815 1 day ago 0 replies      
Everything in balance.
partycoder 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is selective ignorance, and all people do it to some extent. An extreme example would be when you eat a bacon sandwich, or when you walk through a street without stray animals. You don't want to know exactly how it happened, for the sake of your own mental well being.

Now, what if everyone was selectively ignorant regarding news? Public opinion is a major deterrent for a lot of things. In great part net neutrality has been maintained thanks to pushback from the community. That is only one example, there are many many more.

ValleyOfTheMtns 1 day ago 0 replies      
Don't watch commercial news. News on publicly funded channels is much better.

However, I find that I even need to take a break from non-commercial news from time to time.

dghughes 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is highly subjective maybe US news but I find news here on Canada trustworthy.

US news is what the Enquirer was in the 80s. PBS news hour and BBC America are good.

norea-armozel 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I really hate the news for lots of reasons. But the one thing that always got under my skin is the false sense of being informed. If I wanted to know trivia, I'll just read the histories of Muslim scholars or the finer points of knot theory. At least those give some context for the world we live in whereas the mainstream news outlets on both wings of the political spectrum just insult me with doom and gloom (unless it's global warming then it's really not that worrying IMO). I know that's a pretty crappy way to look at the news because I like to know what happens around me but if the delivery is crap then I'm not going to bother trying to digest it. I got plenty of other things to keep my interest. Pretending to care for what I can't fix or what really isn't an existential threat to me is just dumb.
hartator 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Read three books on a topic and you know more about it than 99% of the world.


DanielBMarkham 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice thesis, especially since I agree with it :)

A few other things the author failed to note.

1. News delivery requires emotional engagement by the audience to keep them consuming and coming back. That means fear or people arguing. If you can get people arguing about things people are afraid of? Even better.

2. Investigative and beat reporters are being eliminated wholesale. Political reporters are the ones left. This means news outlets tend to tell stories in political terms -- even stories that may be technical in nature. Everything becomes politics. (Which we can then slot up people to fight about!)

3. Best form of journalism? Opinion pieces. That's because opinion pieces are required to show bias up front, have a thesis and some kind of logical structure to support that thesis, and provide contextual details from news and history as part of the argument. These details provide the context completely absent from most msm news sources.

4. Anything that can be used to drive engagement _will_ be used to drive engagement. Disgusting pictures, sexual titillation, mesmerizing graphics, misleading headlines... it's all fair game. This means that "fake news" is a sliding scale. On one end we have people admitting their bias and trying to report anyway, even if what they have to say is boring. On the other end we have people who have a bias and motives that are completely unknown to us trying to create any kind of content required to get us clicking.

Quitting news is probably the easiest thing to do to get a boost in mental health, and as long as you love reading, ironically you'll actually end up much more informed than before you quit.

known 20 hours ago 0 replies      

"Media does not spread free opinion; It generates opinion" --Oswald, 1918 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_the_West

ultim8k 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Could not agree more!
thesimpsons1022 21 hours ago 0 replies      
when you quit the news you don't remember or know about the horrible track record of a certain party and ideology and elect it back into power. but hey, lets celebrate ignorance and have everyone learn everything from headlines on facebook.
serge2k 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is possibly the most pretentious thing I've ever read.
sean_patel 1 day ago 1 reply      

1) You feel better

2) You were never actually accomplishing anything by watching the news

3) Most current-events-related conversations are just people talking out of their asses

4) There are much better ways to be informed

5) Being concerned makes us feel like were doing something when were not

My own personal experience: I quit watching the news the day after the 2016 Election ended. I felt so ill the next day I couldn't even get out of Bed. So I googled stuff on "how to stop watching news" and came across this post by Buffer Co-founder Joel Gasgoine => http://joel.is/the-power-of-ignoring-mainstream-news/

It completely opened my eyes. Ever since I quit the news (everything incl. google news, reddit, huffpo 538, etc etc, except HN of course :) I've been feeling the following +ve effects

1) I am generally more happy and mindful, less stressed

2) I've finally made the most progress on my side-project that was languishing for years.

3) I am more mindful and get more things that are in my control, done. Related graphic => "Circle of Control vs Circle of Concern" http://www.jdroth.com/images/circle-concern-control.jpg

4) I smile more. I think this is because I finally realized that I can neither control, nor contain all the bad things that happen around the world, that we read about in the news.

Don't let the new "wash over you". Take control of the things you need to get done, for you and your family and friends and career and retirement and life, and start hacking away at them using all the time you would previous waste on following and watching "the news"

devsquid 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yay! More pride of ignorance...
sandworm101 1 day ago 2 replies      
Anyone who thinks they can disconnect from "the news" is kidding themselves. Unless you do the whole hermit thing, you are influences. Not watching CNN won't prevent other CNN-watchers from talking to you. Reading only paperback novels won't stop their authors, who also read newspapers, from influencing you.

Politics is everywhere. Take star trek. We all know the basic stories, and the thematic changes over the years. They map to changes in US politics. Even at home watching DVDs, you are engaged and influenced.

muzz 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lengthy example of "ignorance is bliss"
BuuQu9hu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I this reminds me I really need to quit reading HN.
cmarschner 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Media has an important function for society, that of creating an "agora", a place where society comes together. In essence, it is an information processing system - given that we surpassed the range of 400-or-so people societies where everybody knows everybody else, how can the individual get enough information so that she can function to serve the society? In the case of western societies this means for example being able to vote, or get voted for. An ill-informed, egotistical individual might become a danger for society as a whole, like we are seeing in current US politics and the discussion about the "post factual" society. The term itself hints towards a failure of the media system. And to that end, the filter bubbles of social networkd have a huge responsibility in it. Being informed means that one has to be confronted with inconvenient truths and become part of the quest to resolve them through argument and reason. Given that we now have unprecedented means to filter out diverging opinions, we as technologists have a new responsibility for this that we are not living up to. It might have to take a catastrophe first to hand off the power of making decisions here - eg new policies - that force social media companies to optimize for other metrics than just "engagement" to live up to this responsibility. Chanced are the catastrophe is just unfolding in front of our eyes.
'Clean your desk': My Amazon interview experience shivankaul.com
906 points by skaul  4 days ago   509 comments top 96
rescripting 4 days ago 12 replies      
I have a confession to make. I cheat at my job. I cheat all day, every day.

I have this little book next to my desk I use to write down ideas and notes, and then I refer back to it later. Sometimes my boss is standing right there! I get such a rush.

I found this website called Stack Overflow that has so many answers to problems I run in to. Sometimes I'll just copy the code directly from the site, without typing it out again myself!

Sometimes I even just walk up to colleagues and straight up ask them for help with a problem. They just tell me things I can use in my job, out loud, in a busy office, and we still haven't been caught!

I know that my cheating gives me an unfair advantage in the job market. I know this cheating makes me an inferior programmer. And now I know I can never work at Amazon because I can't get past their super scrupulous interview process. Oh well, I guess I'll just try and get by, cheating my way though life.

amzn-throw 4 days ago 15 replies      
Amazon SDE here. The SDES internally are PISSED about all of this, and I assure you many people are escalating with HR to have this new ProctorU-based interviewing process changed ASAP.

edit: I don't know if there'll be an official announcement, but as of right now we're pulling usage of ProctorU for intern loops.

For those asking how this happened, you simply do not understand the THOUSANDS of interns Amazon needs to interview every year over a couple of week period. It's a nightmare to scale. So, someone in HR thought they'd show some bias for action. Oops.

reacharavindh 4 days ago 5 replies      
All these show what kind of candidates Amazon is looking for. A bunch of desperate people who'd do anything for [money|Amazon brand value|Whatever else Amazon has]. I wouldn't want to work at a place that resembles an irrational hell with such people as coworkers anyway. If someone is really that desperate for a job && believe they are smart to work on things Amazon scale, why wouldn't they find other jobs or heck start a company themselves solving a genuine problem? I do know starting a company is not for everyone to be able to do, but other jobs?
baddox 4 days ago 7 replies      
I am amazed at how far you tolerated it. This is probably how I would have handled it:

> As preamble, the proctor made me download some software, one of which spun up a UI for chatting with the proctor and giving them access to my machine so they can take control of my entire computer, including mouse.

Nope. Goodbye.

q3k 4 days ago 6 replies      
Thankfully, I would fail this interview the moment they require me to own a Windows or OS X license.

> ProctorU currently supports Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.4 or newer version of those systems. At this time, ProctorU does not support any Linux operating systems such as Chrome OS, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.

edit: but I'd like to see them muck around with my linux.git .config to make sure I'm not cheating.

delegate 4 days ago 1 reply      
Clean your desk, please. Your institution [Amazon] has mandated that there cannot be any written material next to you while you take the exam.

To which I would reply "Fuck you and your institution".

Run a binary on my machine ?I think the interview should be over right there and not from my side. If an employee is willing to run binaries from random people on the Internet on their machines, then they're a security risk.

Is it really so dry out there that people are willing to go through this bullshit to work for Amazon ?

I know some of you are young and inexperienced, but know that you always have the choice to say 'No'. If people mistrust you from the get go - this is the environment you're signing up for. Don't settle for this.

Don't work for Amazon, don't let them establish this bullshit as the norm in the industry.

Trust me, the dream job will come if you know your value.

noonespecial 4 days ago 1 reply      
The worst part about all this is that even if you did submit to all of this garbage, all you'd earn is the right to work with a bunch of people who are either desperate/clueless enough to also submit or managers that think this sort of behavior is a-OK.

Maybe there was no training video. The test was to see if you'd surrender all privacy, your whole computer and let them waste your whole day on pointless bs. There was no spoon, Neo.

andrewguenther 4 days ago 3 replies      
I'm getting really sick of HN's attitude toward Amazon employees. Not Amazon, hate all you want on the company, but I really think the the "only a desperate moron would work at Amazon" type comments don't belong here.

I love my job, but reading HN makes me feel like I should hate it. This is a place that told me to "take as much time as I need" when I got married, told me the same thing again when my dad was taken to the hospital two months later, and again when my father-in-law had a heart attack a month after that. I will never forget the kindness I've been shown in one of the most difficult years of my life.

I know that my experience doesn't align with everyone's. But this broad categorization of Amazon employees as "desperate" or "corporate drones" is just false.

brilliantcode 4 days ago 2 replies      
Amazon SDE interviews were some of the biggest shit shows I've ever been through personally so this article really hits home.

The furthest I was qualified for with Amazon was in their warehouse, walking 10 hours every day from 8pm to 6 am with two 20 minute for eating and resting. We were not allowed to sit or stop at any point, even going to the bathroom to take a piss or shit were being factored into time. There were cameras everywhere, something like out of 1984. I was treated like a criminal when I had new pair of steel toe boots they paid for in a box and I couldn't represent a receipt. I was scanned with metal detectors, told to take off my shoes, and all in all it was a dehumanizing experience after 10 hours of work consistently.

I felt like HR and everybody else who were sitting around were looking down at us. One time, when a bunch of pickers were walking up stairs, one of the HR guys had a microphone and shouted "both hands on the rails" as he followed right behind the group of workers.

All while I couldn't get Jeff Bezo's smiling face laughing in my head. Fuck Amazon, seriously, except AWS.

krishicks 4 days ago 7 replies      
Is there a business opportunity here?

If Amazon wants complete control over the interview experience, maybe there's room for a service that rents out small office spaces, like ZipCar or AirBnB, but for a desk/small office with just a Chromebook, for this express purpose.

Amazon or any other company could say they need a desk close to some place on some date, and the service could make one available that meets the requirements (laptop, multiple camera feeds, etc).

Or maybe this already exists?

xabotage 4 days ago 1 reply      
Many companies don't understand that hiring on their end is almost as competitive as getting a job on our end. While I was going to school I applied for an internship to Epic Systems and another company.

Epic wanted to put me through a proctored, three hour long "assessment" in front of a microphone, camera, etc. before even getting on the phone with me.

The other company gave me a couple of 30 minute phone screens followed by an on site interview that gave me far more insight into who they were and what they did. They made the process as smooth as possible for me and were genuinely interested in making the most of my application. Guess who I ended up working for.

manacit 4 days ago 3 replies      
I mentioned this in the last post about this process, but this is not exclusive to Amazon. I did a ProctorU test for Epic a few years ago that followed the same requirements.

I installed LogMeIn, let them poke around my laptop, showed some ID and did a sweep of my room with my webcam. I did not quit however, and ended up taking a ~3 hour SAT-like test.

I don't dislike the idea of setting up a standard environment for a candidate to take an assessment, but this process feels a bit inhumane and intrusive, imho.

woliveirajr 4 days ago 3 replies      
> After about an hour of this, I tell the proctor that I am no longer interested in the interview, and that I want to quit. Im asked if I want to reschedule. I repeat that I want to quit. Im told that a Log Out Procedure(?) will have to be initiated.

Isn't enough to have total access to your computer, you also have to leave them enough time to clean up (?) any copyrighted material they might have downloaded on your equipment...

Interesting that you'll never know if they have uploaded some material from you, be it documents, photos or whatever.

ajamesm 4 days ago 2 replies      
This vividly reminded me of PLEASE DRINK VERIFICATION CAN
module0000 4 days ago 1 reply      
This may not be cost effective, but the way Redhat does remotely proctored exams isn't bad. Granted it's not a job interview, but it is an example of someone monitoring you remotely during an exam. It depends on you living nearby or traveling to one of the remote testing locations though(yes, I see the irony).

The experience is: you sit in a room at a standard monitor with a keyboard and mouse. There are video/audio monitors placed:

- above your head, roughly 2 feet, looking down

- in front of your face, able to observe your eyes

- to the left and right of you, about 2 feet

- behind you

Basically, you are watched from all angles, including what your eyeballs are looking at. I always feel like a probe is about to come whizzing out of the desk and begin prodding me when I begin, but the feeling subsides after awhile.

protip: As a male, asking the male proctor to stop looking down my shirt didn't have the humorous reception I intended.

nobleach 4 days ago 1 reply      
I do not want to hire a developer that knows everything off the top of her head. In my industry, best practices can change. One who is able to work without any research is probably not using the best methods... they're using the last greatest thing they learned. This isn't completely bad, I do like knowing how people solve problems... but I hate the "invert a binary tree on a whiteboard" mentality.
konart 4 days ago 5 replies      
I'd quit the moment I was told they need to have something more than just a "share your desktop".

The hell is this, really...

throwaway3893 4 days ago 2 replies      
Serious question. Given the US laws (compared to Europe) of easily hiring and firing employees regardless of probationary periods, do they really have so many "con artist" applicants who turn out to not deliver (skill or motivation lacking) that they void the trust during the interview phase by monitoring the applicant's machine? I've interviewed a small and large places, and if they really want to be sure about this part, they have you come onsite and sit in the same room with you.

Whenever I was asked to code something as the 2nd step of the interview process like homework assignment, I'm always glad if it's not a site like hackerrank with a timer running out and JavaScript monitoring what tabs I navigate to. Especially, if they already know and have seen my public code and revision history, I feel like I'm applying for public office of some sort when they remove trust and make your go through that in addition to spending your personal time to work on some little project for the interview.

The biggest paradox here is that industry regularly complains about the lack of qualified engineers while ignoring probationary periods and trying to replace them with a 4 or 6 step interview/examination process. In many European countries both parties can walk away from the partnership with zero hurdles during the probationary period. It varies from 1 month to 6 month in Europe and if the company fails to assess the employee in that time, you cannot blame the employee and make him go through increasingly more distrusting interview process. One has to consider that not everybody lives in San Francisco and has potential jobs lining the streets, so it's time inefficient for applicants to go through many interviews.

jknoepfler 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is interesting. Most of my interviews with other companies since I became a software engineer (with a "pedigree" at a big name company) have been informal chats on the phone or in person with 3-4 people about a combination of technical and professional matters.

I remember going through the degrading 6-hour IQ-tests, silly white-board interviews, etc. at a bunch of companies when I was first looking for a job, but even then there were a few companies that did a pretty good job. I had an interesting conversation about IoC and clean code at a consulting company, after which I interviewed with the company president and talked business. That interview stuck in my mind as being very respectful, and I'd seek the company out again if I moved back to the state.

My Amazon interview (which I got an offer from) was a quick round of 4 interviews with some tired engineers (they had been marathon interviewing on the road). I was asked some softball applied algorithms and data-structures problems, mostly to make sure that I didn't make easy problems too complicated from what I can tell. The reject rate on those interviews in very high, and there are probably a lot of false-negatives (and there is a lot of money at stake), so I think it's understandable that emotions can run pretty high about them.

A few years in: I turned down the last job that gave me an offer after a very silly whiteboarding session because I lost a lot of respect for the company after going through their interview process. Something like this "ProctorU" bullshit would cause me to quit the interview immediately and send a terse but polite message to HR at the company that their interview process was a non-starter for me, and that I would not consider working for a company that did not treat me as a professional.

metaphorm 4 days ago 1 reply      
honest question, I don't mean to be provocative, I'm just trying to understand.

what the hell is wrong with Amazon's company culture? I feel like I can't go three months without reading about some story about something with Amazon related to hiring, working conditions, or management style that is deeply offensive and alarming.

why does this keep happening over and over again? it's so notorious that the NYTimes has written magazine articles about it. it's so notorious that Bezos has to go write apologias in the annual newsletter. what's going on?

I'm asking because 4 or 5 times a year I get an offer from an Amazon recruiter to come in and interview for a position that otherwise looks appealing. I say NO every single time because of these issues I keep reading about.

apricot 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's weird that so many American schools and so many American companies seem to think the best model for them to follow is the one of a prison, with inflexible, arbitrary rules that dehumanize and disenfranchise.

Maybe the fact that America imprisons so many of its citizens is to blame for this.

binaryapparatus 4 days ago 0 replies      
At some point in history we, as a programmers, allowed that HR 'professionals' insert themselves between us and employers. Approach used in this interview is nothing that any half-decent programmer would choose as a reliable test. This has HR written all over it.

This has nothing to do with quality (of candidates) only to do with HR person ticking another interview done.

Being contractor, I don't accept any HR involvment for some time, if company insists on running stupid tests they can't count on me. I have never seen any HR like approach with hiring that made ANY sense.

If you need and want job done call me. If you want agile/scrum pretending to work its not for me...

gdulli 4 days ago 2 replies      
You'd think a company with massive turnover would try to remove barriers to finding new talent, not create them.


adrenalinelol 4 days ago 0 replies      
How you're treated during the interview is a good indication of how you'll be treated by the company if hired. Unless you really need employment, I'd stay away from Amazon.
afloatboat 4 days ago 1 reply      
I had a similar experience when taking Acquia Certification exams for Drupal a couple of months ago.

I was required to install an application called 'Sentinel' [1] that monitored my pc, could not have a second monitor or external keyboard attached and had to move my laptop to show that nothing was on my desk. If I remember correctly, I wasn't even allowed to use the built-in camera of my laptop.

At some point in the exam the monitor paused the exam because I was holding a pen (I use a wacom as a mouse) and I had to put it away in order to continue. When the exam crashed, they told me to just reboot the application. But you can't login again after a certain time has passed, so they had to reset my schedule.

I was able to successfully finish the exams, but it added unnecessary stress to the entire experience and the whole experience felt outdated.

[1] https://www.novell.com/training/courseware/ts_proj_info.jsp?...

joncp 4 days ago 0 replies      
This seems like an excellent interviewing technique if you invert the results. If someone actually lets you install spyware on their machine, they fail. If they raise no concerns about access to reference materials, they fail. The ones that pass would be security conscious and outspoken about how good software is written.

... well, except that it would be exceptionally adversarial.

repler 4 days ago 6 replies      
Amazon is truly awful at hiring. Their engineers often give strange programming puzzles to solve, then add arbitrary constraints like, "this needs to operate in 16MB of RAM".

If Amazon can't spring for a $15 stick of memory it's probably not going to be a great work experience.

I also wouldn't want to work with engineer who asked BS questions like that. Waste of time.

FussyZeus 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't mean this in an offensive way at all, but for me and a lot of my coworkers this would be extremely abnormal. About the time they asked to take full control of my machine I would've told them politely that there was no way on God's green Earth they were getting no holds barred access to my machine for any duration of time, especially with someone who I did not know, and if the security restrictions were so tight they were more than welcome to Fedex me a laptop on which I could take my interview tests.

Maybe it's just my privilege showing, I don't know. But employers need to have boundaries too. Just because you're giving me a paycheck (or at this point, just considering it) doesn't give you carte blanche to my fucking life.

1_2__3 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I worked at a $BigCo about 3 years ago I used to joke about what it'd be like if we worked like we required candidates to interview.

Me, in a meeting: "Hey Kate, that's a great idea! How about you code it up on the whiteboard right now."

Kate: "Sorry, what?"

Me: "Write it, on the board, right now. No bugs."

Kate: "Can I use my laptop?"

Me: "Of course not. Here's your pen. Hope you like drawing curly braces."

Cyph0n 4 days ago 0 replies      
The previous HN submission about an Amazon interviewee being monitored during an online test was kind of strange but not a big deal.

But this... this is absolutely horrific. Clean your desk?? Do you expect people to not use paper in the real world, or what exactly?

kinkrtyavimoodh 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've also had the annoyance of being 'interviewed' using this ProctorU method. They have this 'feature' where you are not allowed to navigate away from the webpage that has the test, and if you do, it 'blocks' you from doing anything until you message the proctor and have them reset it for you.

Except, in my case, this damn thing kept blocking up every few minutes, and I had no idea why. Contacting the proctor, having them diagnose it, and getting them to reset it, wasted a few minutes every time.

I finally realized what the 'problem' was. It was firing the 'navigate away' event every time the mouse went outside the boundary of the page. Since I often play with my mouse, moving it around the screen, it would block me any time the pointer left the page. I eventually figured it out, but it took me 34 block-contact-reset cycles.

All in all, a pretty annoying experience.

retube 4 days ago 0 replies      
This cannot be real. Seriously, every candidate asked to submit to this should tell the recruiter/employer to get f*cked. Totally unacceptable, unreasonable, patronising.
wyldfire 4 days ago 2 replies      
Semi-related tangent: I had a not-terribly-unpleasant experience when taking an online exam for a linux certification. The certification exam was effectively an interview round similar to this one because it was the first step the employer suggested after I submitted my resume for the job. The test proctor was unseen but could use my webcam to see me. It made me uncomfortable, for some reason I thought I'd be able to see and hear them if I needed anything. I suppose they might multiplex the proctors across multiple test takers. I knew in advance that they wanted a tidy area, so I used a guest bedroom with a small dresser that I set my laptop on.

I was logged into a VM through my browser and tasked with several simple sysadmin jobs. Unlike this person's Amazon interview, the technical difficulties that I encountered were all my own doing. On my server, I tried to be very disciplined and used 'sudo' sparingly (sudo for each command that I issued that required escalation. No "sudo -i", that doesn't leave quite as nice of an audit trail. Well, I fat-fingered something while in visudo (grant privileges to a user was one of the tasks). I forgot the user's name so just exited but I must've 'ZZ'd instead of :q!'d. visudo puts up big scary banners about the syntax error and I quickly dismissed them because I planned to go right back in fix it in a jif. Well, sure enough, those syntax errors effectively neuter sudo. Of course, that's the right behavior for sudo and I just hadn't thought it through. I couldn't complete the remainder of the exam's tasks without sudo. I thought for sure there's a way for the proctor to reset the system to neutral -- I'll just start the exam over and go through it quickly. No such luck. I can reboot the VM but there's no way to halt the VM during the bootloader. :(

I did whatever I could without privileges and wrote detailed text files about what I would have done for the ones that required privileges. The autograder gave me a failing grade and the human that told me to take the exam didn't seem to care about the problem I encountered (or believe me).

Lesson learned: leave a terminal open in the background with "sudo -i" for later. You never know when you might need it. [this advice is for exams and not real sysadmin]. And while you're at it, go slowly and heed that warning from visudo. ;)

squeaky-clean 4 days ago 1 reply      
Jesus Christ! Even when I entered programming competitions, which were supposed to be arbitrarily constrained, we were allowed any printed material, as long as it fit in a 1 foot-square cube. The world-finals disallowed printed material, but still let you write notes during the event and the documentation for each allowed language's standard library is pre-installed on each machine.

There is no possible scenario where this is useful.

newscracker 4 days ago 0 replies      
From the description this sounds very naive and stupid on the part of the hiring company.

What exactly are they wanting to test? Is it just a simple aptitude test to reduce (not eliminate) the chances of cheating? Do they also ask to look into the interviewee's ears for tiny bluetooth earpieces? What about the ceiling for hidden microphones and cameras?

The "show your room" part reminded me of (older) movies with funny situations where the person hiding is always behind the view of the person looking around.

If someone really wanted to cheat, I guess these people would need to do a much better jobor just get the person to an office and do the interview face-to-face.

radicalbyte 4 days ago 1 reply      
You should come to Holland, you get to work tax free (for 5 years) and there are lots of interesting companies in Amsterdam.

We're the #1 place for English speakers in Europe because the local population are smart and bilingual.

Oh, and I've never seen douchy things like this (I rejected the Amazon recruiter, not worth taking a pay cut to work for them).

ianai 4 days ago 1 reply      
My alma mater had an interesting way of dealing with cheating. They would allow every kind of reference material you thought you may need. The test was just going to be that difficult and have questions no cheating (outside of copying) would help. There was one final in particular that averaged 17 hours to complete.
zhte415 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is... the opposite of what I see sensible.

An opposite and goal:

tl;dr: Don't assume providing stress and isolation makes people work their best. Especially under stress. Taught a course in university, saw response to strict environments take a while for people to break out from.

Context: I have the chance to do quite a bit of campus work with local universities while working at a bank. Ops and IT. This usually involves working with final-year students, and can be quite hands-on.

Background: Working with a local finance university (top in country), I ran a final-year class on banking for around 40 students (and quite a bit of the faculty in attendance). Mainly banking operations, not technically hard. Visit the university with an AVP or VP expert in a varied function, different visitor and topic each week. Ops, Trade, Finance, HR, Tech, from fund transfer to letter of credit to dormant accounts to labor law. Basic banking and business but at a practitioner level.

Finals arrived: Not a member of the university, but asked to design and supervise the assessment. We'd covered a lot, and assigned essay answers for 3 of 10 questions over 2 hours, hand-written answers. Just answer it as fully as you liked. Some questions more numerical, some less. Really something for everyone.

I said I was busy with a call I couldn't refuse, and would be in the room next door. I wasn't. One hour later I returned to the room, to see each person hunched over their papers.

Books were not open. Phones were not doing checking. I was disappointed, but not unsurprised. To be caught 'cheating' in a university in China can mean the end of your degree. Still an hour to go, I encouraged opening of books (to protest) and full use of internet.

This seems the opposite of the Amazon policy.

The best papers that came in were a full 10 answers long (more than the required 3), photocopied, with multiple and varied signatures on each, and different handwriting in different paragraphs. Some individually submitted papers were very good. Choice had been achieved. Not only had books been opened, but collaboration had over-achieved. In only an hour remaining.

Hopefully this was a small lesson.

Ianvdl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a list of companies with over-the-top/invasive hiring practices somewhere?

It would make it easier to avoid them, and maybe send a message.

dudul 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm impressed by the author's patience. I usually slam the door shut after "we need you to spend 5 hours on this take-home exercise", or "here is a link to coderank for you to show how well you know how to implement bubble-sort and quick-sort".
YeGoblynQueenne 4 days ago 1 reply      
After reading this (and the previously posted piece from the same author) I'm thinking of applying to Amazon, not because I have any particular wish to work for them but because I just thought of a way to cheat their counter-cheating and I want to try it out.
praptak 4 days ago 0 replies      
The only way I'd agree to do that would be on a machine that I'd reimage before and after. Hopefully I'll never be that desperate for a job though.
foota 4 days ago 0 replies      
I recently also interviewed with Amazon, the experience, as the blog states, was surreal. I was very surprised when I received an offer email without actually having any interaction with a human that worked at Amazon.
markwillis82 4 days ago 0 replies      
I a similar scenario for my "Linux Foundation Certified Engineer" exam. Except I had to show 2 forms of photo ID for the examiner through my webcam and then put them the other side of the room so I couldn't use them as notes.

I was repeatedly told off for tapping on the table whilst problem solving. (A hard habit to break after years of doing it)

JulianMorrison 4 days ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I'd have simply told them to bleep off. That is so far beyond acceptable behaviour that it would make me certain the company itself was bureaucratic beyond satire. If you don't have a level of basic trust in my probity, we can't negotiate.
makecheck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes you need to prioritize yourself. This is one of those times: tell them no. Assuming they arent robotic enough to hang up on you immediately for refusing, politely educate them on how no other company on Earth has asked you to do anything remotely similar to this, and suggest that their process is way out of line. If they wont listen, send a polite letter to someone else (heck, even the CEO). They deserve a clue, at least.

Remember that there are a ton of companies out there and you owe it to yourself to explore as much as possible before submitting to any one companys ridiculous process.

Heck, years ago I used to look elsewhere just for being asked to format my rsum in a particular way.

berserkpi 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon mostly sucks at interviewing from what I'm told.
sergiotapia 4 days ago 1 reply      
I imagine Amazon pays engineers $450,000 because of all of these hoops?
isaacremuant 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm honestly shocked that someone would give them such access to their machine.

More than the absurd test rules, which seem quite common in some educational or testing environments, the fact the he would relinquish so much of his privacy and security makes me think he doesn't know his own worth.

It's OK to indulge them in some things but it's not OK to lose perspective and forget it's a negotiation. If you surrender to every demand, how can you negotiate later on? With what?

markbnj 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a cheater too. I confess to using Google, Stackoverflow, Hacker News, and tons of other online resources to look up stuff every day. This is obviously stuff I should know already, and be able to recall on-demand. I'm so ashamed.

Seriously, though, that is one of the most surreal things I've ever read about our industry. I would have quit the interview too, but probably earlier in the process.

ne01 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's why I only work for myself and rather fail at my company until I die, than to work for someone else and be treated like this!

This is the main reason I quit university to start my own company and the main reason I will never look for investors.

If I had no choice I would work part-time at a non-tech company for as long as it took for my company to take off.

tuwtuwtuw 4 days ago 1 reply      
Maybe you can spin up an EC2 instance and run the test from there.
fatjokes 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why would you do this to yourself, in this market for engineers?

If you're going to work at a BigCo, go for one that doesn't abuse you. Otherwise, work at a startup where at least you'll learn a ton and maybe get some equity. I can't see any advantage to working at Amazon.

skizm 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this at a specific location or something? From what I can tell, NYC and Seattle just do the standard code test on your own time (and allow you to use whatever external resources you want) then if you pass that, a day of in person interviews.
rm_-rf_slash 4 days ago 3 replies      
Putting up with the bullshit is a part of the test.
werber 4 days ago 0 replies      
At my last job a candidate was hired after having done their interview by moving their mouth on camera while someone off screen was actually talking. I believe they did the spin the computer around thing too, no system is foolproof
kawaiiru 4 days ago 0 replies      
Universities are moving towards using software like proctor u and other computer lockdown programs for online education. It's absolutely absurd and every single work around get patched up real quick.
Spooky23 4 days ago 0 replies      
The funny thing about this type of bullshit is that it's really similar to the stuff that Civil Service exams do -- quantitative evaluations of your reactions to workplace events, exams of your subject matter expertise.

Except when fast-mover companies like Amazon or their lobbyists show up to peddle their products to governments, the conversation ultimately moves to this topic. They usually get to a point where they're telling the government employees how dumb they are, and that they don't have archaic processes like exams for jobs, etc.

mempko 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ita not surreal. The word they were looking for is 'Kafkaesque'
jasode 4 days ago 0 replies      
FYI: same topic (not dupe) a few days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13076073
roystonvassey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've interviewed twice with Amazon and came away both times with bizarre stories to tell. Some great people work there but I wouldn't want to with the folks that interviewed me!
BigChiefSmokem 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon recruiters contact me all the time because I've worked with some big name companies and movie studios in and around the LA area. I immediately tell them I only have an associate's degree so they stop calling, texting, and emailing me.

That tells me everything I need to know about working for that company. I just wish they would just blacklist me and pass it around to their outsourced headhunters.

Wells Fargo is another one that has a love/hate relationship with my resume.

SonicSoul 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but wonder, what was the test like that you could prepare cheat sheets for? most dev interviews are problem solving that you can't simply lookup in 5 seconds

just curious why they are so paranoid about that. i do phone screens where i can hear people type to google for answers but it's usually pretty easy to tell that they don't know something and then they come back with textbook answer. but most questions are not the kind you can just ask google.

WalterBright 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't let anyone remotely take over my machine. I'd just go get a cheap used laptop from the pawn shop and use that for the interview.
jedisct1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I went through the AWS interview for an SDE position. And the whole experience wasn't that bad.

The online test didn't use ProctorU. I was told that a working webcam was required, but it actually wasn't. I didn't had to give them full control of my laptop.

I received clear explanations about every step of the process.

The onsite interview was well organized, although very impersonal and predictable.

a3n 4 days ago 0 replies      
Smith, Winston! Recite quicksort into the telescreen!
onion2k 4 days ago 0 replies      
If this was an article about a startup I'd write it up as the (quite reasonable) fear of the cost of a bad hire. When you've only got 6 months cash in the bank having someone who isn't up to their job on board could end your business. Amazon need to understand they can afford to make mistakes now so long as their review processes are good.
cannonpr 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon is doing many great things, however the way they are going about it is starting to freak me out a little bit. This is how we end up in the corporate dysutopias described in Neuromancer and Snowcrash...Don't we somehow have to take a step back and try to avoid this, rather than keep trying to optimise our hiring processes ?
russelluresti 4 days ago 0 replies      
My Amazon interview experience consisted of scheduling a time for a recruiter to call and having them not call, then reaching out to them to see if they needed to reschedule and set up a second time to call and having them (surprise!) not call a second time.

Fuck Amazon for the collective amount of wasted time they've caused.

leroy_masochist 4 days ago 0 replies      
I guess the key takeaway here is to set up a clean guest user account on your computer before you interview with Amazon.
tmaly 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of a case when we were hiring for a programming slot.

I have a simple set of tests on paper that you take in person. This guy came in, looked at the tests, handed them back to me and said he looks stuff up in books. He was a consultant, but he refused to take simple tests and just walked out.

pfarnsworth 4 days ago 0 replies      
lol what a joke, I'm never going to apply to Amazon if this is the interview experience. If this meant that I could avoid the onsite coding exercise, then I might be okay with it, but my guess is that I'd still have to whiteboard onsite, so what's the point.
swehner 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just avoid amazon.

It's really not that difficult.

unsignedint 4 days ago 0 replies      
I would argue if the candidate is taking their security light enough that they would submit to such invasive software to be installed on their machine, they should be automatically disqualified but I guessed Amazon has different opinion about it...
d3ckard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry for my language but this is just fucked up. I honestly don't get how Amazon got so successful at what they're doing(I mostly mean cloud services), if this is the corporate culture they promote. Something just doesn't add up.
hartator 4 days ago 0 replies      
Proctor sounds so much dystopian.
kirykl 4 days ago 0 replies      
Coming soon: Amazon automated testing centers featuring Amazon Go Store tracking AI
amai 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be possible to start a VM and connect to the proctor using the VM? Then the software you have to download would only be able to get control of the VM, but not the whole laptop.
ljk 3 days ago 0 replies      
1. could the user run this in a VM and avoid some of the hassle?

2. part of the hate should go toward the proctorU company too right? they're the company who made the software

NotQuantum 4 days ago 1 reply      
What happens if you don't have a webcam? Do they just deny you the position? I don't have a webcam or mic on my desktop currently... I guess I'm never going to work for Amazon :/
diegorbaquero 4 days ago 0 replies      
Now I know that I will need a ready-to-use VM when I apply to Amazon.

But seriously, what?

bborud 4 days ago 0 replies      
If this had been me it would have been a really short setup mostly consisting of me saying "go fuck yourself" and then writing an angry email telling Amazon to go fuck itself too.
notyourwork 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am sorry but this saga is tiresome. I have taken online certifications before and had similar trouble with my FIRST one. The proctor paused my test and called me to confirm everything was clear from my desk, my floor, etc. Even had to stand up and walk around. At the end of the day I had no choice which made me feel wronged but in hindsight this is their process for certifying you didn't cheat on a test.

They are allowed to have that process, if you don't like it don't use it. Better yet, if you don't like it how about brainstorming better solutions instead of being overly dramatic on the internet about someone closing your applications on your computer for you?

alfanick 4 days ago 0 replies      
Alright, so I had one HR smalltalk, a one technical over the phone with the manager, I am having onsite soon - none of these funny proctor stuff, but yeah your mileage may vary.
quantumtremor 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm very glad people are speaking up about this. This is horrifying. Good job on stopping the process when you felt uncomfortable, we should all be doing this.
monksy 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a perfect opportunity to outsource this job to a webcam guy/girl. Just pay the person to pretend to get off on this kind of humilation.
crististm 4 days ago 0 replies      
The ethics question you asked there is a tough one. I don't know what I would do if I would be forced to make such a choice.
shoefly 4 days ago 0 replies      
This made me think of IOI in Ready Player One.
akerro 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hah, he wasn't asked to drink a verification pill that Amazon sent him 2 week earlier.
givinguflac 4 days ago 0 replies      
Watching Amazon reps try to sugar coat everything in this thread is hysterical. I've heard bad things from several people I know who worked there briefly. Good to see this article and confirm I'll never apply there.
warrenm 4 days ago 0 replies      
wt bloody f?!

There is no way I'd go through the first steps of this stupidity, let alone as far as the OP did

wcummings 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does this software work on Linux?
setq 4 days ago 0 replies      
The moment they suggested installing remote control software on my kit, the interview would have been over.
savagebritt2261 2 days ago 0 replies      
g051051 4 days ago 3 replies      
How is this even a point of such outrage? No one is compelling you to interview with Amazon. If you don't like their conditions, just don't do it. Why write about it as if it was such a huge burden? It's their job, their rules, their conditions. If you don't like it, simply move on.
plandis 4 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon: Where we are all terrible and we kill puppies (probably, I don't know, I think I read it in an article somewhere)

^ I've summarized the comments

Ask HN: What was your best passive income in 2016?
724 points by djadmin  1 day ago   638 comments top 101
gottebp 1 day ago 9 replies      
Breville coffee grinders are impossible to get internal parts for. I designed a 3D printed upgrade for the main wear-part in their BCG800XL SmartGrinder.

The storefront is through ShapeWays[1] and I use ifixit[2] to drive the traffic. It's passively making ~$425/mo with about 10 minutes of work per week on my end. This all happened because my grinder failed and I couldn't get parts.

[1] https://www.shapeways.com/product/NASLAGCCP/breville-bcg800x...

[2] https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/BCG800XL+Grinder+Jamming+due+to...

jrheard 1 day ago 17 replies      
Young hackers who have a surplus of income and have funds to spare that aren't being channeled toward debt / family / donations, heed me: save as much of your salary as you can, and put it in boring investments (index funds / etc), probably through vanguard.com (no affiliation, I just use them and have heard nothing but good things from people I trust). You can pretty easily set up your job's direct-deposit system so that a portion of your salary goes directly into your investments without you ever seeing it, it's a good set-it-and-forget-it system. It adds up over time!

[Somewhat related: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-sim... ]

kohanz 1 day ago 3 replies      
This was pretty accidental, but to motivate myself to complete the arduous application process for my professional engineering license, I creates a WordPress blog documenting the process. Also because I thought I would learn something new (setting up WP blog) and this seemed very "shippable". I completed the application process over the course of a year and haven't written a blog post in over a year.

Thanks to a complete lack of material in this niche, the site (http://pengapplicant.ca) gets a decent amount of organic search traffic given the niche size (2k page views per month) and I make about $15/month in Adsense. Recently I was also contacted by someone who sells materials for the application and exam and have become an affiliate for them. It's only been one month, but i've already made one referral which netted me $100. So passive income on this after hosting costs is probably $220-ish and will be more in 2017 hopefully with more affiliate sales. Obviously very small potatoes, but I never set out to make any money for this and it looks like now it will at least cover my yearly professional dues ;)

To be honest, the best part is the messages I get from people saying how I helped them get their license. That's a much nicer feeling than the $.

caseysoftware 1 day ago 4 replies      
Previously, as a developer evangelist with Twilio, I had to know the tech events and tech leaders in my local community. While I didn't figure out a repeatable approach then, in late 2015, it hit me.

I built a bot network that reads tech events - mostly meetups, some conferences and workshops - for a given city from a variety of sources and tweets them. I use machine learning to determine hashtags, time of day to tweet, and new data sources. When I launched Austin - https://twitter.com/ATXTechEvents - in September 2015, I got 900 followers the first month. I suspected it was a fluke so launched Dallas FW and Houston to test. It wasn't a fluke.

In 2016, I've launched 45 different cities in the US and the network has 100k followers collectively, has its own automated weekly mailing list, and is generating 1.4M+ impressions/month. Revenue is affiliate fees for conferences (we are a media partner for O'Reilly) and workshops and selling the ad blocks in the newsletter. Almost all of that is automated. The revenue is pretty minor right now but growing and I spend 1-2 hours on it a week.

The landing page is here:https://techeventsnetwork.com/ (only some of the cities)and the full list of cities is here:https://twitter.com/TechEventsNet/following

inovica 1 day ago 1 reply      
I run a number of side projects and have done since the mid 1990's. I started in business when I was 21 and I'm now 47, so definitely considered 'old' to some of you on here! I've been o reader of HN since it came out, but rarely a contributor. A few comments from me and a link to some of what I've done and how they have done in 2016:

- Rich Dad, Poor Dad got me into the idea of 'passive' income. Nothing is truly passive of course, but it makes me think about what I do

- SourceGuardian. This is encryption software I set up in 2002 as I had a need myself and the nearest product was $6000 at the time. It has generated a great passive income since then. Enough to pay all my bills. 2016 was no different. I work with 2 other people on it, one of whom I've never met (he's in Russia) and it works well

- Competitor Monitor. This used to be a side-project 5 years ago, but it has grown significantly and in the past year we are up by 35% and we have grown our team. Strangely this has now become passive in the sense that I have created a structure and systemised the business (read The Emyth Revisited book) and that has allowed me to step out. I am not more of an investor than a day-to-day contributor

- UKscrap.com. This one died in 2016. The site is still there, but competition and my lack of interest killed it

As I said, nothing is truly passive, but you need to have a passion for whatever you do and I would try to create a 'passive index' for your ideas. How much time will they take to get off the ground, how much to run monthly, what is the product life cycle (if you can work that out!). From when I started there are a HUGE number of resources to help you also. Feel free to ask for help or advice, for what it's worth!

EDIT: I actually met my SourceGuardian partner once in Prague for 2 days. Forgot that when I wrote the above!

bootloop 1 day ago 2 replies      
Unfortunately not 2016, but two years ago when the Samsung Gear Watch came out a friend of mine got it right away. We went out drinking the same day and when we came back at night we put together a watch face while still being drunk. We uploaded it, set the lowest possible price 1$, and... Nothing happened. Everywhere in the admin panel it showed 0. 0 downloads, not a single dime earned, even after a few days. We were devastated.

But than I found another tab in the utterly shitty admin panel and it hit me like a rock. The numbers on the dashboard were a monthly overview and in fact we earned already hundreds of dollars and downloads in just a few days. I went back to the computer, but together an even better watch face, set it to 1$ again and watched it selling like hotcakes.

However it tried out quite quickly after that. People started to copy stuff and giving it away for free and I never bought the watch myself, I just used the emulator to test my apps. So I took them out of the store at the end because dealing with taxes and sharing the income does not make it worth it if you get support requests like "how can I change the time on my watch", "what do I care, its your shitty watch and Samsung's shitty interface"...So yea. That's my best story about unexpected passive income. Selling stuff fast on a new platform seem to work!

Edit:Found some screens.First one: https://i.imgur.com/TIVsPKO.pngBest selling one: https://i.imgur.com/9L8TetO.png

durkie 1 day ago 5 replies      
i own a decent amount of tesla stock and 2016 was a great year for lending it out.

since tesla is such a controversial company, lots of people want to own the stock (expecting it to go up) and lots of people want to short sell it (expecting it go down).

if you're a stock holder, certain places (like interactive brokers) will let you lend your stock holdings to people that want to sell it short. you earn a premium on this loan, but its basically risk-free since the brokerage bears the counter-party risk.

because short interest is so high, there was a substantial portion of 2016 where there weren't enough shares available to satisfy short sellers' demand. TSLA became classified as "hard to borrow" and borrowing premiums would be anywhere from 8% to 100+% depending on the day/demand. this is money short sellers pay on top of the cost to purchase the shares (and one more thing to bear on top of the risk of short-selling, but that's another story).

the premium is paid daily, and the brokerage usually takes a chunk of it (often half), so if you had $100k of tesla stock and the premium was 50%, you'd earn (100,000 * 50% * (1/2) / 365) = $68.50 for each day that someone borrowed your shares. the rate fluctuated daily, but this still netted me several thousand dollars of truly passive income, since i was planning to hold the stock either way. this is also a huge income stream for institutional shareholders that are sitting on millions of shares.

limedaring 1 day ago 4 replies      
I wrote Hello Web App and Hello Web App: Intermediate Concepts (http://hellowebapp.com, they're learn-to-build-a-web-app books using Django) and self-published both in 2015.

Just checked and this year I've made about $13,000 in profit. It's mostly passive this year I started using a fulfillment company so the majority of my work is sending them orders (and answering questions about the book.)

Hoping to continue the trend next year by launching a book on teaching design for engineers (http://hellowebdesignbook.com).

austenallred 1 day ago 6 replies      
I co-wrote a book on user acquisition and co-created an accompanying video course to climb out of debt left over from a failed startup.

Made $104,000 in revenue since June (turns out the user acquisition stuff actually works), about 87k of which is profit, so we'll say ~$11,000/month part-time. It still makes me a solid $2,000/month now with zero work, and hopefully more once the book is officially published. (It's done and delivered to backers, but won't be on bookshelves and Amazon until after it's typeset.)


I know the marketing will be over-the-top for HN. Just know it sells because the content is really, really good.

IAmEveryone 1 day ago 4 replies      
210,000 Euro, divided between me and a friend.

We started a small online shop about 10 years ago, and it's mostly automated. About 5 minutes/day + one week / year of work.

Before that, I had spent a few years (trying to) run rather big software projects (for me I was 18 or 19). They had cost me so many sleepless nights that I swore to never again take on customers paying me more than 100 Euro each. Now, if anybody complains, or gets on my nerves, they get their money back and are never heard from again.

My friends joke I'm the living example for an unconditional basic income. They haven't decided on the outcome yet, though.

rachelandrew 1 day ago 1 reply      
I put my CSS Layout knowledge into an online course at:


Interestingly it has been very popular with teams (so selling a set of licenses so a whole team of developers can use the material). I also teach the same material in person (either in-house or in open workshops) so I'm keeping the two in sync. I made some notes about that process on my blog: https://rachelandrew.co.uk/archives/2016/06/03/creating-an-e...

I intend to do a bit more marketing of both the in-person and online training in the new year.

As an independent (not working for a browser vendor) invited expert to the CSS Working Group, training and offering this course is really how I can fund doing that.

timbowhite 1 day ago 2 replies      
TLD List - https://tld-list.com

It's a price comparison website for top-level domains. Gross on average is $600/month through affiliate sales and data download subscriptions. Requires maybe 10-20 hours of work per month for maintenance and new features.

The most difficult part is tracking registrar affiliate earnings, and then actually getting paid by the registrar. Many require you to manually request a payout once you've reached the minimum payout threshold, others simply ignore your payout requests.

ThomPete 1 day ago 0 replies      
My side project http://www.ghostnoteapp.com is still growing.

It's a tricky product because the way the app work is not for everyone, at the same time when people use it they normally share it with their friends. So I get good organic traffic. The biggest issue is to explain whats unique about this productivity tool, but seeing the video normally do the job.

It's not able to pay for me not working yet as I live in NY so there are obvious reasons for that being hard.

But it does provide me with a healthy chunk of money. And through feedback from customers I have found a new product in the same area and that will be a SaaS product.

elcapitan 1 day ago 1 reply      
Being a developer in a large corporation.
refrigerator 1 day ago 3 replies      
My brother and I have built a couple of test prep sites for UK medical school entrance exams: https://www.bmat.ninja, https://www.ukcat.ninja . BMAT Ninja made about $25k this year (up from $16k last year) and UKCAT about $10k.

Didn't do any work on marketing really so it is pretty much passive, but I think with a bit of work they could both do a lot better. It's a very seasonal market - we only get customers for about 3 months per year (the 3 months leading up to the exams), so thinking of branching out into other exams that occur during other times of the year so the income is a bit more steady.

tove 1 day ago 2 replies      
My passive income is quite standard. Three apartments in a new block. I bought all of them four years ago when the construction was still unfinished. This got me a good price. I knew that the area would be under continuous development, therefore it won't be hard to find renters. I was right. Best part is that I didn't even have to furnish them. I managed to rent them all unfurnished.
dejv 1 day ago 2 replies      
I do have portfolio of small web apps: tools for learning music notes, non-latin alphabets, language flash cards and so forth.

They are making some nice money each year, but the trend is quite clear: given same traffic I am making about 50% less each year. Ad revenue is way down (more adblock users, less money per click, CTR is down), but paid premium plans are balancing it a bit.

These projects are still my biggest passive income stream, but they are going to die in few years. Other than that I am owning agriculture land (that I am renting), rental property and portfolio of p2p loans.

Those traditional assets are much more expensive to acquire, but then the yield is much predictable and stable. Still, the tech projects are my best source of income considering the amount of money/time required to create it.

yeahdef 1 day ago 6 replies      
http://dollarfuckyou.com/I've made about 300$ :/
tomschlick 1 day ago 1 reply      
ZoneWatcher - Side project of mine to monitor your/your clients' DNS services and alert when a change to a zone has been made. It serves as a revision history & alerting system which has been helpful when a client fucks with their DNS and expects you to put Humpty Dumpty back together quickly.

I launched it a few months ago and have a few smaller subscribers with a handful of larger subscribers.


Tharkun 1 day ago 1 reply      
My passive income has mostly dried up this year. Years ago I built an automated webshop deployment system for a bloke who makes hundreds of small websites a year, and dozens of webshops a year. The deal was that I'd build it for free, but I'd get a fee per shop he deployed. This worked out pretty well for a couple of years, but now he's swimming in money and is retiring, and my passive income source has dried up.

Of course, because of my laziness, I took the passiveness too far and it's now all but impossible to reuse it for another potential client.

It was fun while it lasted.

cesarb 1 day ago 3 replies      
Here in Brazil we have it easy. The most boring funds (the ones which track the interbank rate - CDI) easily return around 12% per year (depending on the administration fee; the smaller the administration fee, the higher the return). With the inflation around 6% per year, this gives around 6% returns before tax. If you stay with the fund for at least two years (and it's of the correct kind), the tax rate is 15% over the gains, so you have an after-tax return of around 5% per year above inflation. And that's for a fund which basically never gives negative returns.

You can go further and buy government bonds directly, through the Tesouro Direto system. Those indexed by the SELIC rate (which is sort of related to the CDI) are currently around 13.5% per year, before administration fees and taxes (in fact, the boring funds I mentioned above mostly invest in these SELIC-indexed government bonds).

This will change when (and if) rates get lower, but so far, investing in these funds or bonds is the simplest (and one of the best) way to have passive income.

PascLeRasc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Adding an optional buy button to my Chrome Extension has made me $0.59 so far, so technically that's my best.

My friend has made about $650 off of his AMD investment so far though and is thinking of moving all of it into Micron.

antr 1 day ago 4 replies      
In early 2016 I purchased commercial real estate, got a 25 year fixed rate mortgage, and leased it. This requires very little of my time every month, and the post-tax yield is above 5%. I couldn't be happier.

I'm now considering doing this again in 2017. Hopefully interest rates will remain as low as they have been in order to lock-in an attractive mortgage.

robius 1 day ago 2 replies      
I used to do index funds. Then I went looking for an active portfolio manager. After a few years I found one, he was good, but 6mo in he switched jobs and left for another career.

The next guy wasn't good and eventually didn't want to actively manage the account. I kept looking until this year when I found fractalgo, which is used by large institutional investors to trade through science without emotion and second-guessing.

Downside is you needed to be a qualified investor.

I called up the owner curious about how the fractal tech worked and found out he was setting up a service for everyone, not just the big guys.

After some research I moved my IRAs left over from previous 401Ks to a custodian that can do directed investments + broker and let the automated system go.

Couldn't be happier. No humans required once set up, and it keeps growing like a weed while I sleep.

Do your own research for what works for you and seek it out. You will find it, eventually.


Since doing so well, they just opened a fund using the same technology.


vladdanilov 1 day ago 5 replies      
Optimage a visually lossless image optimization tool


Released this week. Came unnoticed on HN but somehow got featured on PH. 1200+ downloads of free version and a few sales.

Not sure if that'll change. In that case, the best of 2016 will be one of the plugins for Sketch https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12319286.

Murkin 1 day ago 2 replies      
A self published book on "Redux". Still in progress but already sold for 3,160$ in revenue between me and a friend.

Hope to have it really pickup once done and turn profitable


1 day ago 1 day ago 2 replies      
frou_dh 1 day ago 1 reply      
2 (count 'em) dollars a month. For letting two people who don't want to run an instance of my OSS program themselves tap into my personal instance.
joemanaco 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm making between $3'000 and $10'000 Dollars with native apps/games and html5 games. I made much much more a few years ago but app store revenue is decreasing each month and all my latest apps made me nearly nothing. (My portfolio: http://intermediaware.com).
buf 1 day ago 2 replies      
https://www.castingcall.club Social network for amateur voice actors. I wrote about it here: https://medium.com/@buf/accidentally-built-a-successful-soci... Brings in about $2k/mo.

p2p lending is hit or miss for me: 3-10%

Index funds pull in the rest.

I've also moved temporarily to a very cheap COL country so that I can focus on some more side projects to pull in extra sources of income before I return to the work force.

jastr 1 day ago 3 replies      
TheSimplePostcard.com, makes me ~$220/month. Text it a photo and it sends a postcard. It took me a few long weekends to build using Django and Twilio.
alkonaut 1 day ago 1 reply      
Money in the bank, made me well over $100 over the whole year.

adjusts monocle

77yy77yy 1 day ago 2 replies      
Domain sales, over US$ 2M/yr that could have been mid 7 figures easily but still holding onto those other gems. With all the new extensions valuable .com domains is where it is. Brokers managing sales. Also not sure if falls into passive or not, sold a business few years ago and did the financing, still getting paid monthly for few more years.
Shrugs 1 day ago 3 replies      
I made http://fivestar.io/ a year or two ago; it's a better Amazon search.

It shines when you search for something that you want the best version of, without caring about the details; i.e., let the masses determine the quality for you. It weights results based on ratings, review volume, and some other stuff, segmenting the results by price range.

Helps me answer the question "I want the best phone mount for my bike, but I don't want to spend more than $20" without fiddling with Amazon's search parameters and then scanning the page.

Makes ~$100/month off of affiliate links.

pilom 1 day ago 1 reply      
I work remotely and moved into an RV to travel around North America with my wife. Started blogging about travel and working on the road at http://therecklesschoice.com and using Amazon affiliate links whenever appropriate that pull in about $50/month.
scolvin 1 day ago 3 replies      
Helpmanual.io is my first attempt at passive income. Launched 6 weeks ago and traffic is building nicely. There's still a fair bit to do but the delight of sites like this is you can make improvements when you want. Shame that ad income is less than it used to be but we'll see how it gets on.


thewhitetulip 1 day ago 1 reply      
After being encouraged by folks on HN

I published my tutorial on writing webapps with Go without a framework,


There isn't much income because I want the book to be free, I'm writing another tutorial migrating the same app taught in the book to use VueJS library.

vital101 1 day ago 0 replies      
Many years ago when I was still a PHP + Wordpress developer, I discovered that getting updates to private plugins and themes was a huge pain.

Fast-forward a few years and I finally built out https://kernl.us as a learning project (Mongo, Node.js, Angular). It's mostly passive income now, pulling in ~$450 per month.

andersthue 1 day ago 1 reply      
Still my 5 year old watermarking tool making around 3-5k$ a month.

My only new product this year was a 6 weeks video course [1] in productivity, it makes around $5000 every time I fill a class.

1. http://timeblock.com TimeBlock course

snadal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some years ago, I did some referral promotion for a webhosting company with nice results, around 70k.

Later, company rules changed and I stopped actively promoting it, but second level referrals still are generating 5-10k year with doing absolutely nothing of work.

bert2002 1 day ago 1 reply      
The best was a physical project - www.spypatch.com. A sticker for the camera on your laptop. I dont do any advertisement, but it sells through Amazon and the website. ~2k/y.
errozero 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I released the new version of my Acid Machine synth + drum machine web-app just under a month ago. It has made about 200 in the last month.

The web-based version is like a demo, it's free to use but saving and importing is disabled. I'm selling a downloadable desktop app version which has the restrictions removed.

I'm thinking of making it completely free and maybe selling ad-space on there instead.


kidproquo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Tasktopus, is a lightweight, task manager for the desktop (Mac OS X, Windows and Linux). Tasks are managed on a Kanban-style board with Backlog, Doing, Done and Archived columns.

Built with Qt. 14-day trial on Gumroad[0]. Also available on Mac App Store[1].

MAS version has made me 40$/month. Gumroad version is better (lets you try it and lets you use same license key on all 3 platforms). However, I have sold only one license on Gumroad! I guess the MAS has better discoverability.

[0] https://gumroad.com/l/ADWm/tasktopus[1] https://itunes.apple.com/in/app/tasktopus/id1039688985

neals 1 day ago 0 replies      
I build a small CMS / CRM + app as a freelancer, for a client. This was 6 years ago. I build it for almost nothing, because it's a really simple thing that took a week or two.

I agreed to automated billing with him and he pays per user. I also build API's so he can hire other developers to do stuff with the data and add features.

I myself haven't touched the code for years, but the growth of the database means an extra monthly $1250-ish comes in. Which is nice.

discreditable 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote a guide on how to get around my local ISP's requirement to use their crappy modem/router combo and recommended a verified-working router with an Amazon affiliate link. Since Jan 1. I've pulled in $160. Very nice since I host at nearlyfreespeech.net and the site has cost less than $1 in hosting this year, and $10 for the domain.
BorisMelnik 1 day ago 2 replies      
Started a hosting company: its very small and only offers shared hosting right now, but it is almost making money. I never wanted to get into hosting, but so many of my clients were using Godaddy etc I just had to get them away from that chaos.

Note: I'm also looking for a partner in this if anyone has any experience let me know.

jsaxton86 1 day ago 3 replies      
It seems like the vast majority of employment contracts prohibit side projects like this, or at the very least, require explicit company approval. I'm interested in hearing strategies on how to best pursue side projects without violating one's employment contract.
armenarmen 1 day ago 1 reply      
I built catelus.com a couple weeks ago and I've done $130 in revenue.

It's a domain name idea generator. You feed it a keyword and it translates it into 30+ languages and shows you .com's that are not being used. Trying now to get more eyeballs across it. Fun though!

herbst 1 day ago 4 replies      
I have a website with ads on it. Or actually a few, but one that mostly pays for my life right now.
odbol_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made about $10 from app sales of my Android Wear watchfaces https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.odbol.foun... and https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.odbol.oxwo...

$10... For the whole year. App sales aren't the golden goose everyone things they are.

loloferrari 1 day ago 0 replies      
Been trying to do this for years, never really succeeded.

In 2016 i've relaunched https://www.interssl.com/en/ but when i'm being honest there are just too many support incidents. So i just can't call it passive income anymore - even if that was the initial idea.

The margin of sales without support basically just covers the cost for the orders that require heavy support. Remaining income is basically blown for advertising and maintaining the site.

My conclusions:

a) think twice about potential time killers - even if the core business model per se is passive, it might turn out to be time intensive ...

b) i'd rather not go into reselling something anymore but rather sell my own product, gives me more financial headroom.

my 2 cents.

t0mislav 1 day ago 3 replies      
25$/month in Adsense. Not much, but it's passive and it grows.Everything started as a fun small project. http://random.country/
pfooti 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wrote a blog post about three years ago about doing single-sign-on stuff between salesforce and google by writing a google appengine app that acted as a SAML IDp. At the time, salesforce didn't speak OAUTH and google didn't natively speak SAML, so you had to do it on your own. I put it on an old blog I had laying around and turned on google adsense.

To date, I've made $6.31 from that blog post alone. Someday, I'll get over $100, so adsense will pay out.

sepharoth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Made a med school entrance exam prep platform with my brother last year (www.bmat.ninja) - $12k profit last year, $27k this year.

Once the website was setup, maintenance workload was pretty minimal (the occasional BugSnag report), so I guess that counts as passive.

averageweather 1 day ago 3 replies      

Only have made like $20 off Adsense, but I've got a lot more work to try and get this tool into passive mode:

* working on selecting a date range

* style up the site a bit more

* maybe have users so you can save searches etc

I get very valuable data that the travel industry would probably consider great leads, but I'm just figuring out what to do with it all.

Edit - and fill out these graphs: http://www.averageweather.io/monthly/boston/ma/12/

panorama 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote an ebook that helps Junior Developers get jobs - it's primarily targeted at bootcamp grads: https://kokev.in/hired-fast

In the past 8-10 months, it made about $5k+ through sales as well as partnerships with a couple online bootcamps. Not too shabby as I spent almost no time marketing it. Plus it was fun to write since I'm passionate about the topic and I've received some awesome feedback (of the "you actually changed my life"-sort). That was more than worth the hundreds of hours I spent writing it, the small bit of money aside.

joelrunyon 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been running https://UltimatePaleoGuide.com for a number of years now. This last year we launched https://PaleoMealPlans.com and it's been a great product / service so far in addition to the rest of our offerings.
wonderwonder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Built an saas document management & review site for a very large company 3 years ago. I have a monthly maintenance contract with them and receive about $3,500 per month. After expenses (insurance & hosting) and my partners split I net $1,300 per month. Over the last 2 years, I have invested an average of about 2 hours a month, most months I do no work at all.
AtticusTheGreat 1 day ago 1 reply      
I just recently launched a statuspage aggregator at https://statusbeacon.io which has been pretty cool to work on.

I've also got an online multiplayer boggle game that has made me low 3 digits per month since about 2008, http://serpentinegame.com, mostly ad revenue but also paid memberships.

georgiecasey 1 day ago 1 reply      
an android app that pulls in about 500 a month. i coded it years ago and literally have not thought about it this year until now. it used to bring in about 700-800 a month but i finally got some competition after a few years. i've noticed the app game is tightening up
boudra 1 day ago 1 reply      
Launched this small tool 5 weeks ago: http://sqlify.ioMade a few dollars with AdSense.
djaychela 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've written a book on using Cubase with a general grounding in music, recording and music technology [1]. Income has been very patchy, and never what I'd hoped for at any point. Best month has been around 450, but that's only happened a couple of times (I don't know why, either, unfortunately), usually it's more like 40. Made about 2000 in total, so definitely not something to retire on. Unsure as to whether it's the market for the book, the quality of the book (I hope not and don't think so given the positive feedback I have had from those who have bought it), or a total lack of marketing that's at fault. Not entirely passive as I've had to update it for each revision of the software that has come along, which takes around a week's full time work.


weichsel 1 day ago 0 replies      
I added an animated GIF exporter to my lossless screen recorder Claquette (macOS, https://www.peakstep.com/claquette).The project got some traction when Apple featured me in the Mac App Store this August. It also entered the Product Hunt front page and finished in the top 3 on launch day.Revenue is nothing spectacular, but it's a nice additional income.
pmorici 1 day ago 0 replies      
I design & build adapters for old server power supplies that make it super easy to reuse them as general purpose 12 volt power supplies.
kaa2102 1 day ago 0 replies      
Web and email hosting. Designed sites in 2015, hosted on Google Cloud and continued to take in monthly web and email hosting income in 2016.
brandables 1 day ago 1 reply      

I sold a domain I had intended to develop this year to a FB founder for $12,000 and another for $7,500. After researching I found there are few places to buy really good startup domains so I made brandfountain to passively fund my startup(s)!

xchaotic 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a rental property, it's not much, barely breaking even on mortgage payments, but the hope is I will have the principal as an asset when the mortgage is paid off and any payments coming in will be pure bonus.
nemoniac 1 day ago 0 replies      
So does Bitcoin not count as passive income?
grecy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wrote my first e-book [1] about how to save money to work less and live your dreams. I'm really happy for a first attempt, and it has inspired me to write more.

[1] http://amzn.to/2hcfuB7 - Work Less to Live Your Dreams

halcyondaze 1 day ago 1 reply      
~$2k/mo from an informational hobby-related website I run and monetize with affiliate sales. Growing, too!
vyoming 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have launched https://drilldb.com couple of months ago, got few paying users and growing each month.
jventura 1 day ago 0 replies      
I did an Android app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.flatangle....) earning me some 80 since August. Hope next year will be better!
cannin 1 day ago 1 reply      
Passive investing in commission-free index exchange traded funds (ETFs) along with a lazy portfolio explorer (http://portfolios.lunean.com/) to analyze ETF portfolios (e.g. backtesting, portfolio comparisons, and ETF correlations).
codecamper 1 day ago 2 replies      
I want to be able to invest in solar projects. These projects often have internal rates of return of 10%+.

However, this involves 20 or 30 year contracts to buy power from you after you have made the initial investment to purchase /rent land and install the panels.

Wish there were a way to securitize those deals & allow us to trade them like bonds.

soft_dev_person 1 day ago 0 replies      
I made some silly fan designs on CafePress many years ago. Haven't really touched it since then, but it still generates $50 per year. Provisions have been going down. though.

That being said, it's mostly 2 designs out of ~35 that sells anything at all.

I'm sure there's some potential in there, but it's kind of hit and miss.

ronnier 1 day ago 1 reply      
$2,550 in rental home income on a house that will be paid off in 3 months.
2throwaway2000 1 day ago 3 replies      
I make $1,400/mo from Google AdSense. I made a Wordpress website for people who want to find information about other people. I don't do anything on the site anymore besides perform Wordpress updates. It's basically changed my whole life and I am very fortunate/lucky. Throwaway account.
DictumMortuum 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am the person behind http://dictummortuum.blogspot.com

I reach the adsense threshold about once every year, so it's ~70 euro/year. Sad, but I don't spend a lot of time maintaining it.

sdfjkl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Amazon referrals. I made 40 or so.
alecmgo 1 day ago 1 reply      
http://www.siliconvalleyguide.org is a geeky tour guide to Silicon Valley. It makes about $10/month in ads.
37463892 1 day ago 1 reply      
I make about $80 a month from (http://redreport.org/), mainly from organic search traffic.
shellerik 1 day ago 1 reply      
$50k from investment earnings (index funds, mostly 401k - I'm in my 40s).

$20k from a website I built a couple years ago (searchable product catalog with Amazon affiliate links).

joshuak 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Investment" is not income, passive or otherwise.

Income is step one. Investment of that income is step two.

A "salary" is income that is bound to time worked.

"Passive income" is income that is not bound to time worked.

The key difference between passive income vs investing, is what is being invested. With passive income like salary _time_ is the investment, not money. That's why it's income.

All the comments discussing saving and investment strategies are rather missing the point of the question.

jccalhoun 1 day ago 0 replies      
i made like $125 in amazon gift cards between swagbucks and bing(now microsoft) rewards points.
wlievens 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stock appreciation and dividends.
buckhx 1 day ago 1 reply      
koyao 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sold a condo in California and bought two investment properties in Texas.
fratlas 1 day ago 1 reply      
Trump game! Not huge amount, but for the small amount of the effort it was great.
woodyb23 1 day ago 1 reply      
Bitcoin has been my most profitable.
jdmoreira 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm very curious to know how much both 64bites.com and buildyourownlisp.com made this year. Maybe the authors would like to comment? :)
wordpressdev 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maintaining a few websites, ranging from a gift ideas website based on (and earning from) Amazon, to some content sites, latest being www.americaundertrump.com
andreshb 1 day ago 0 replies      
Airbnb listings in NYC, BOG, MDE - make enough to live almost anywhere I want.
Nilzor 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is my portfolio :


None of them have made a lot of money, but one is still generating a small amount. Guess which. Hint: Income is not proportional with the shinyness of the technology stack

jeremyt 1 day ago 0 replies      
myroon5 1 day ago 1 reply      
Using Lendingrobot - an automated p2p lending service
ommunist 1 day ago 0 replies      
rent from real estate
dbg31415 1 day ago 3 replies      
Surprised nobody has mentioned getting married yet. Dual incomes is probably the easiest path to wealth. Just don't ever get divorced...
eevilspock 1 day ago 2 replies      
This post is what's wrong with Capitalism. Rent seeking. The Matthew Effect. Making money by making money.
estomagordo 1 day ago 0 replies      
2016 isn't over. Ask in 3 weeks time.
branchless 1 day ago 1 reply      
Passive income. So great that financiers gave people a nice name for extorsion. Some ideas on here are creating value and selling it over time. No problem with that.

Too many are rentier activity, costing everyone more in the long run. Appropriating wealth rather than creating it.

Hacker news seems to embrace this culture. Surely the antithesis of the early days of computing and the origin of hacker culture.

shadykiller 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't need to invest anywhere. My company invests for me in 401k and by the time i retire i will get $401,000 as the name suggests :)
Kent Beck: I get paid for code that works, not for tests (2013) istacee.wordpress.com
547 points by fagnerbrack  4 days ago   354 comments top 52
kornakiewicz 4 days ago 25 replies      
But we don't write tests to check if our code works. We write tests to be able to change it in the future with certain degree of confidence that we don't break anything and - if so - what exactly.

There are other techniques which can give similar confidence, but tests are the easiest one.

lordnacho 4 days ago 11 replies      
I'll put the question to the other readers:

How often do you find, despite having written tests, that there is some bug in your software? And how many of those times did you think that you should have considered it beforehand, rather than that it would be impossible to foresee?

In my experience the most useful tests are the ones that came from some unforeseen bug, which was then fixed and a test case built around it, so that it wouldn't get "unfixed".

The least useful tests are the ones for cases you know not to invoke, because they are obvious. Like how you know when you divide by a variable, you know it can't be zero. So you make sure it can't be zero, making the test case a bit moot.

rqebmm 4 days ago 1 reply      
People get too hung up on the question "to test or not to test" instead of asking the question "where and when should I test".

I started my career writing iOS clients, and the obsession with TDD was baffling. 80% of my code was usually either UI or simple Core Data manipulations, while the last 20% was mostly API parsing and a touch of business logic. I wrote a few tests for parsing corner cases or business logic, but they never really gave me any confidence or helped with refactoring, instead taking up time and adding overhead whenever I made changes. I supposed I didn't have enough coverage to get the benefits, but what tests would I write for my UI? What tests would I write for simple Core Data queries (which is assuredly unit tested already)? What tests would I write for my parsing libraries (which are already unit tested)?

Then I started working on the (Python + Flask) API backend, and tests were self-evidently necessary. Python is dynamically typed, which can result in lots of corner cases when doing simple data manipulations. Python is interpreted, which means the compiler/IDE won't warn you about syntax issues without running the code, and you can't catch even the simplest logic errors without running the function. Most importantly, the API's entire job is translating data, inputs are in the API parameters or database, and output is the JSON. It's a perfect function, and tests were obvious. I wrote something like 600 in a week, then used them to make some major refactors with confidence.

What I learned from those juxtapositions was that unit tests and automation are invaluable in certain circumstances. Specifically _any system that creates machine-readable output_ like JSON, populating a database, or even a non-trivial object factory should be unit tested like crazy. Any system that creates human-readable output, like views or changes in an unreachable database (something like an external API or a bank account) needs to be human-tested, there's just no way around it.

giis 4 days ago 5 replies      
As someone who worked as dev (4yrs) later moved as tester (4yrs) and finally returned to dev again.

Here's my personal thoughts/experiences:

- Testing job is underestimated.

- In General, Developers considered superior to testers.

- What makes Tester position difficult is 'repetitive tasks' . Yes you can automated tasks, but you still need to do some tasks that can't be automated. These are manual & repeated tasks, often boring.

- Some developers are so lazy. for ex: while testing we found 'python syntax issue!'

- Management thinks testers can be replaced once they automated everything. Obviously they push for this.

- I know for sure, there are projects with passionate developers but no-one can really take care of their testing side.

- Dev underestimate/avoid unit-tests & rely on testing team to find basic issues.

woliveirajr 4 days ago 2 replies      
And that's a fantastic observation.

When you get out a bit of the IT world, you'll find that people who demand software want to receive something: software. They bought an app, they want the app. Simple as that.

If you are good enough to have your code working without tests, good. If you don't need documentation, good. If you paint your walls with use cases, good. All that doesn't matter, if you deliver the app you were hired for.

And if your app doesn't work... well, everything you've done doesn't matter either. Because you were hired to deliver an app.

Of course tests are good, documentation is good, self-documenting code is good. But only for the IT. For non-IT people who's contracting you (you can be your company, too), he just want the app. The software. Working.

mikegerwitz 4 days ago 6 replies      
> "If I dont typically make a kind of mistake (like setting the wrong variables in a constructor), I dont test for it."

But for those of us who work on a team, it's far more complicated than that, and you have no idea who might be touching your code in the future.

kartan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I asked one time to my teammates why we had test. They just didn't answer. For them it was just a dogmatic approach.

That doesn't means that you should not have them. But you at least should be able to answer that question to be able to evaluate the value that they bring and how much tests do you need and where.

dekimir 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like Beck's vision for the future, and I agree that we should keep experimenting in order to learn which tests tend to work and why. But we don't need to do it all manually -- we can use computers to automate and speed up such experiments. To that end, I've started a project to automatically generate unit tests from C++ source: https://github.com/dekimir/RamFuzz

Right now the generated tests are pretty superficial and silly, but the key is that they are randomized. Because of this, we can run millions of variations, some of which will prove to be good tests. Right now I'm hacking an AI that will pick those good instances from many random test runs. If it works, we'll be able to simply take source code and produce (after burning enough CPU cycles) good unit tests for it. This will be a huge help in letting the human programmer only do "enough" test writing -- the AI will take care of the rest. Additionally, the solution can be unleashed on cruft code that no-one dares touch because of a lack of tests and understanding.

(Yes, there will be a business built around this, but that's for next year. :)

makecheck 4 days ago 0 replies      
It doesnt make sense to write no tests at all but I understand this sentiment based on problems with testing that I have seen before:

- 1. Test infrastructure is too complex. If I have to create a bunch of config files, obey a questionable directory structure, etc. before I can even write my test case, there is a problem. There should be very little magic between you and your test front-end.

- 2. Test infrastructure is too lacking. It is also a problem to have too little support. There should be at least enough consistency between tests that you can take a look at another test and emulate it. There should be clearly-identified tools for common operations such as pattern-excluding "diff", a "diff" that ignores small numerical differences, etc. depending on the purpose.

- 3. Existing tests should not be overly-brittle. Do NOT just "diff" a giant log file (or worse, several files), and call it a day; that means damn near any code change will cause the test to fail and create more work. Similarly, make absolutely certain when you develop the test that it can fail properly: temporarily force your failure condition so you know your error-detection logic is sound.

- 4. Tests should not be overly-large. Do not just take some entire product and throw it at your test, creating a half hour of run time and 40,000 possible failure points just because it happens to cover your function under test. It is vital to have a small, focused example.

If your test environment has problems like these, I fully understand the desire to balance time constraints against the hell of dealing with new or existing test cases, and wanting to avoid it completely.

And if youre in charge of such an environment, you owe it to yourself to devote serious time to fixing the test infrastructure itself.

mbreedlove 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think the biggest problem with TDD is that there are two types of code, trivial and non-trivial.

I think testing trivial code is a waste of time and does nothing but improve coverage numbers.

When you think about a non-trivial problem to write tests, you don't always know what the final code will look like. Maybe you forget an edge case or some small detail in the requirements that will cause you to restructure the code and approach the problem in a different way. In which case, you now need to re-write your tests. You might as well just write tests around the final version.

faragon 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad to read that. In my opinion, the problem starts when tests become a religion, e.g. forcing to put unit tests everywhere, no matter if it makes sense or not: just put tests, in order to justify that if whatever goes wrong, you can use the excuse of "it fails, but at least it is test covered".

In some case unit testing is necessary, e.g. for ensuring that a hash function works exactly as defined. However, there are other cases where unit testing is absurd, and black-box API tests or automated tests could do a better job on error coverage. As an example, imagine the Linux kernel filled with unit testing everywhere: plenty unit testing religion fun, but no guarantee of getting anything better, but a risk of new bugs because of the changes and increased code complexity.

paulddraper 4 days ago 2 replies      
"I get paid for code that works, not for maintainable code."

Ah, I get it. That explains the piece of s--- I'm looking at right now.

That said, the title might be sensationalist, but I agree with the holistic sentiment of the text.

fiatjaf 4 days ago 0 replies      
There are so many unneeded tests being written I can't even begin to point them out. Here's an example: http://entulho.fiatjaf.alhur.es/notes/the-unit-test-bubble/

I've seen dozens of GitHub repos with a "tests/" directory that only contains tests for the constructor and ignores all the parts that should be tested. You don't need to test a constructor, this is stupid. If your constructor is not working none of the other tests will -- BUT HEY, your constructor is working, it is not hard to see it.

halayli 4 days ago 0 replies      
One benefit of testing is that it can highlight whether your abstractions make sense. If you need to pull in the world to test a small module then probably your dependencies are not right and what you thought was a unit turns out to be more than that.

When I am writing a module/function, I tend to continuously think of how this can be tested, which helps me design better abstractions.

For example if you're writing a class that uses a socket read/write, when testing you probably need to mock them. If you weren't planning on writing tests then probably you'd have ended by having the methods embedded in the class itself as read/write/close when those methods don't belong to the class and should be in another module called Socket that inherits a Socket interface. Now that you have a socket interface it becomes easier to test your class by passing a mock Socket interface.

Cpoll 4 days ago 0 replies      
The title quote is a bit out of context...

> I get paid for code that works, not for tests, so my philosophy is to test as little as possible to reach a given level of confidence (I suspect this level of confidence is high compared to industry standards, but that could just be hubris). If I dont typically make a kind of mistake (like setting the wrong variables in a constructor), I dont test for it. I do tend to make sense of test errors, so Im extra careful when I have logic with complicated conditionals. When coding on a team, I modify my strategy to carefully test code that we, collectively, tend to get wrong.

DanielBMarkham 4 days ago 2 replies      
Mixing up business and tech.

On the business side, you don't get paid for code at all. You get paid to make something people want. The fact that you're using programming to do that is inconsequential.

On the tech side, you're not delivering anything unless somebody, somewhere can test it, even if only one time.

So yes, you are getting paid for tests. In fact, that's the only thing you are getting paid for. The nub of the question is what the tests look like and how many you should have.

w8rbt 4 days ago 3 replies      
The point is that there is a limit to testing. And some people go way overboard with it. You'll never get 100% coverage. It's simply not possible.

Now, that doesn't mean you should not test. It means you should understand the limits of unit testing and test what is important as best as you can. Most every software engineering class at universities will cover this in-depth.

at612 4 days ago 0 replies      
For me, the takeaway from that article is this:

> Different people will have different testing strategies based on this philosophy, but that seems reasonable to me given the immature state of understanding of how tests can best fit into the inner loop of coding. Ten or twenty years from now well likely have a more universal theory of which tests to write, which tests not to write, and how to tell the difference. In the meantime, experimentation seems in order.

Indeed, we still "don't know" how to testmore generally, and given the abundance of methodologies and their tendency to go through a hype and dump cycle, I would say we still "don't know" how to write code in the first place.

We'll get there eventually, but for now I would take whichever approach, methodology, tools, and language that I use as having a "best before" date, and invest in it accordingly.

qwertyuiop924 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't write tests for all my code. But if I'm not writing an automated test (frequently when I'm writing a single-use script, which is something I do a lot, as I'm merely a hobbyist), I still "test" my code, function by function, at a REPL.

I've long since learned the hard way that if you don't test the functions as you write them, the bugs get buried in the system, and become very hard to find. When you test your code as you write it and modify it (formally on larger projects, informally on smaller ones) this doesn't happen.

That's the advantage of tests, so I can get Beck's point: If the function is so painfully simple that you already know if it's right, (say, an accessor) just by looking, then it's not worth writing a test for it.

xiphias 4 days ago 0 replies      
The start of the comment is really out of context here.What he wrote about the team case (what most of us are payed for) is this:

When coding on a team, I modify my strategy to carefully test code that we, collectively, tend to get wrong.

kefka 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seems pretty simple, honestly. I've written enough unit tests to throw in my 2 bits.

Put a sane, normal value test. This will pass unless shit's broken.

Then test edge cases. Test min, max.

Then test some impossible values. If they correctly fail, you pass.

aryehof 2 days ago 0 replies      
I contend that tests need cover functional and non-functional requirements. Everything else is to some degree optional.

Of course given no formal requirements, all that is possible are tests of the technical implementation. Regression errors will still be inevitable for customers and stakeholders, despite the "programmer" being able to claim his or her tests passed.

We need to find a way to stop kidding ourselves and find a way to test the right thing.

lawpoop 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is like saying "I'm paid for code that works, not proper syntax."

But proper syntax is what gets you code that works. You aren't paid directly for it, though. Tests are not a direct path to code that works, but they can be a big help.

phkahler 4 days ago 1 reply      
The key to success with that attitude:

>>I get paid for code that works, not for tests, so my philosophy is to test as little as possible to reach a given level of confidence (I suspect this level of confidence is high compared to industry standards, but that could just be hubris).

Is the humility in the parenthetical. There is a difference between arrogance and confidence.

vesak 4 days ago 4 replies      
In other words "be smart, don't be stupid". Do you really need to write a test for that single expression setter?

But then again, it may be easier to just set a single round goal like 100% for test coverage. Writing that test for the single expression setter won't cost you a lot.

everyone 4 days ago 0 replies      
If someone posted that question on SO now it would be insta-downvoted and then removed for being vague.
acqq 4 days ago 1 reply      
There are enough people in the industry who are actually paid for writing the tests and discovering the potential failures of the mission critical code, where the tests are fundamentally important.

I've had a small team nicely paid for months only to prove and document the that the product my company was to deliver won't fail in some specific scenarios, specified by the contract.

Those who don't produce the mission critical code (or believe what they produce is not on the critical path) unsurprisingly see the investment in the tests questionable. Of course, there is always a real danger of doing something "just because it is done" even if there's no real need.

z5h 4 days ago 0 replies      
I happen to work in a team. So I get paid to write code that works, that other devolopers can make sense of and hack on as well. That's why I write lots of tests.

If Kent Beck is coding in a private bubble, he can do whatever he wants that makes code work.

efsavage 4 days ago 0 replies      
The full quote is a bit more nuanced and captures this, but the key to this mantra is properly defining what "works" means.

Code that "works" doesn't just mean it runs/compiles/passes CI/etc. It has to continuously add value. It can do this by running properly and efficiently across a wide variety of likely or infrequent conditions, as well as some exceptional scenarios. It can do this by being written clearly and not adding technical debt. It can do this by being as simple and/or as replaceable as possible. And ultimately, it can even add a final gasp of value by being easily deletable.

sauronlord 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is a begging comment and not clear what is said beyond "create some automated tests until you feel good"

Allow me to explain:

Production use of code IS testing (manual, etc). Because it is an observation of the system state.

All of the world is testing. Every system is inherently a quantum mechanical one (ie: the observer is constantly testing the state of various systems to ascertain some level of confidence)

If you are going to test anything... then you should test the Use Cases (ie: Interactor objects). Don't have Use Case/Interactor objects that encapsulate intent? Well, you better understand it since the world, and therefore software, is all about intent.

digi_owl 4 days ago 0 replies      
And yet programmers wants to be held in the same regard as engineers.


kafkaesq 4 days ago 0 replies      
I get paid for code that works, not for tests, so my philosophy is to test as little as possible to reach a given level of confidence (I suspect this level of confidence is high compared to industry standards, but that could just be hubris). If I dont typically make a kind of mistake (like setting the wrong variables in a constructor), I dont test for it.

Which is unfortunately complete opposite of how TDD was interpreted, especially in its glory days (and in some corners, up until the present day).

sporkenfang 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I advocate for end to end testing of a whole system's expected behavior to augment a small set of unit tests (the unit tests are for edge cases).

Nobody needs division by zero tests if there are already guards in place so that can't happen, but it's quite helpful to have a "A goes in, B should come out" view from a client/user perspective. As long as behavior appears correct to the client and is not exploitable you're good to go.

davewritescode 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not a big fan of this mentality. Writing enough tests to be bug free just isn't enough. Sure it's bug free today and that's great but will it be bug free tomorrow after a junior dev modifies it?

I'm not advocating testing getters/setters but not testing because "I don't write those kinds of bugs" can burn the next junior dev who might.

Testing is as much about finding bugs early as it is making your more agile in the future.

rubicon33 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Different people will have different testing strategies based on this philosophy, but that seems reasonable to me given the immature state of understanding of how tests can best fit into the inner loop of coding. "

The problem with comments like this is that they're too ambiguous. Someone who doesn't want to spend the time to write unit tests, will use this ambiguity as a mechanism for justifying their laziness.

alexjray 4 days ago 0 replies      
You get paid to make the best technical decision for the company/project/who ever it is that's paying you. You get paid to communicate and understand when test are needed and when they are not. Startups will probably have a lot less test than bigger companies ; unless your a security startup or something that needs a solid foundation that you can trust.

Its all a trade off that needs to be communicated to whoever is paying you.

____nope 4 days ago 1 reply      
You write tests to automate tests you would have to otherwise perform manually. That is the only reason tests exist, to automate the boring task of testing.

That's one problem with the TDD mindset. If you start by looking for things to test, you might come up with unlikely scenarios or cases that don't matter much for your user.

bvinc 4 days ago 0 replies      
"You get paid to write code, not tests" -My boss after telling me I should quit writing tests

I agree with Kent Beck mostly. I would add that tests can also be used to maintain invariants for future changes to increase maintainability. I just hope this quote isn't taken out of context.

beders 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is a stupid, broad statement without proper context.

It really depends on what your project is, what your goals for maintainability are and what programming language you use.

Two things about testing:- test to confirm your spec- if you have trouble writing tests, your design is probably flawed

rubicon33 4 days ago 0 replies      
I first write good code. I then write unit tests to protect my code from:

a) Bad team mates.b) Future developers.

I've been burned one too many times with junior devs making cavalier changes in code they don't understand. Unit tests were THE solution for catching these changes.

jasode 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just an fyi about some nuances of TDD that are overlooked based on the 60+ comments I see so far.

Most comments seem to equate:

 "regression tests"=="TDD"
... but it's really...

 "regression tests" is subset of "TDD"
I'm not a practitioner of TDD but I my understanding of its components are:

1) the ergonomics & design of the API you're building by way of writing the tests first. In this sense, the buzzword acronym could have been EDD (Ergonomics Driven Development). Writing the usage of the API first to see how the interface feels to subsequent programmers. Arguably, a lot of incoherent/inconsistent APIs out there could have benefitted from a little TDD (e.g. func1(src, dst) doesn't match func2(dst, src))

2) a sort of specification of behavior by usage examples ... again by writing the tests first. Consider the case of programmers trying to figure out how an unfamiliar function actually works. Let's say a newbie Javascript programmer wants to know how to use .IndexOf()[1] What do many programmers do? They skip all the intro paragraphs and just hit PageDown repeatedly until they get to the section subtitled as "EXAMPLES". With TDD, instead of examples being relegated to code comments "sqrt(64) // should print 8" , it formally encodes the "should print 8" into real syntax that's understood by the automated test tools. (Test unit frameworks typically use the keyword "Expect()" as the syntax.)

3) an IDE that's "TDD aware" because it creates a quick visual feedback loop (the code that's "red" turns to "green") during initial editing. The TDD "artifacts" can also act as a "dashboard" for subsequent automated builds alerting you that something broke.

So TDD is a "workflow" and from that, you address 3 areas: (1) design (2) documentation (3) quality assurance via regression tests. With that background, the original Stackoverflow question makes more sense: how many "test cases" do I write because it looks like I can get bogged down in the test case phase?!?


mmanfrin 4 days ago 0 replies      
O: my manager is the person who asked the StackOverflow question that prompted this.
Nomentatus 4 days ago 0 replies      
Funny thing is, the most frequent positive result of tests for me hasn't even been mentioned, I don't believe. The biggest benefit I got was an ongoing education about how the program I was writing ACTUALLY functioned - enabling me to correct my assumptions before the shit hit the fan. This isn't quite the same as catching errors, since often you still want the algorithm you wrote as you wrote it, but knowing more about what's really going on gives you a heads up to avoid future problems, conflicts, etc. Of course, you may program differently. I was always big on asserts back in the day, and two-thirds of my debugging (by instance not hours) was spent fixing asserts, and thereby learning that some assumption I was making about the program, was wrong at least some of the time. Always good to know.
andrewbinstock 4 days ago 0 replies      
Beck elaborates on this point of view in the current issue of Java Magazine: http://bit.ly/2g6YEo2 (loads slowly)
inputcoffee 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tests might help you write better code.To the extent they do, you should use them.

That's like saying "I get paid for functioning software, not writing code."

Yes, you get paid for the output of the act, not the act itself.

dnprock 4 days ago 0 replies      
Writing test is like investing. You have to pick the tests that return the most reward. Simply firing shots is wasteful.
Zelmor 4 days ago 0 replies      
>Indeed, since this answer, 5years ago, some big improvements have been made, but its still a great view from a inspiring person

Such as?

ninjakeyboard 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've referenced this stack post a few times too.I feel like it might be easy to take this out of context.
z3t4 4 days ago 0 replies      
you will know when and why to write tests ... The same bug keeps coming up, you spend most of your time manually testing, you are not sure this change will break anything, or you are too scared to touch the code.
emodendroket 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting comment although I don't feel like the article adds much to it.
amelius 4 days ago 1 reply      
That's why you need to pay another guy to find code that breaks :)
benyarb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why not get paid for both?
Ask HN: What problem in your industry is a potential startup?
644 points by takinola  3 days ago   694 comments top 76
chollida1 3 days ago 28 replies      
Data management.

1) Cleaning the data as it comes in rather than in batches so we can use it sooner, invalid data is discarded, outlier detection, normalizing inputs etc....

2) Warehousing of the data with proper indexes so you can perform some advanced queries on unstructured data

3) Some data is sent in bulk at the end of day, some of the data is streamed in fire hose style. How can we preprocess the fire hose data so that we don't have to wait until the end of the day to parse it all.

4) Oh and all of this data is unstructured and comes from 75 different sources.

Soon the average hedge fund will have more people just cleaning and managing data than they do in quantitative research, dev ops, software development and trading.

Oh and lots of the data is considered proprietary so while AWS/Azure, etc is fine, sending it to a third party to process is not.

TL/DRHelp me, I'm drowning in data. How do I get the time from when I acquire data to when I trade based on it down to a reasonable time frame, where reasonable is closer to hours rather than days/weeks.

tmsam 3 days ago 13 replies      
A family member is a lawyer in the Worker's Comp, SS, and Family Law space. THE software for lawyers in this space is called A1 Law. It solves a lot of real problems lawyers in that space have (form letter generation, calendar integration, case management)... but it's so slow to use new technologies. They advertise PalmOS integration. My family member has to have their own server in a closet running the server version of this so his team can use it! He has no idea how to manage a server, it's absurd that he has to.

Everyone I know in law is dissatisfied with every part of their tech stack. If someone could come up with an integrated SaaS solution, and be SUPER careful about compliance... they would be printing money.

ThomPete 3 days ago 4 replies      
I posted a similar question last year great discussion there too. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9799007

I would suggest we make a monthly of these as they provide important insight into industries.

athollywood 3 days ago 5 replies      
The oil and gas industry is ripe with potential start ups. Here are a few that come to mind:

1. A better system for automation and measurement. Current solutions aren't ideal when it comes to setting up new systems as well as updating and maintaining existing systems. We build several million dollar facilities a month and each one has automation and measurement equipment that has to be individually set up and programmed. Each technician does things a slightly different way, and the end result is a different set of automation and measurement logic at each facility.

2) Fiber optic DATS (distributed acoustic and temperature sensing) data handling and interpretation. This is a fairly new type of technology in which a fiber optic line is installed in the wellbore. The fiber optic line basically acts as a 15,000' strand of thermometers and microphones placed every 3'. The data from one installation is on the order of terabytes per hour. Oil and gas service companies that offer this service don't know how to handle this amount of data. The problem could probably be solved with S3 or something.

3) Drilling optimization. Create a software suite that utilizes ML/AI to help drilling engineers figure out the best way to drill a well is. It's a perfect ML/AI application. Lots and lots of training data available, easily defined input and output parameters, etc. Drilling engineering is full of hard, non-linear problems and humans are just really bad at it. The only way to be good at it is to drill lots and lots of wells and then listen to your gut.

ggcdn 3 days ago 10 replies      
As a structural engineer, I see a good opportunity to make reinforced concrete design software available in a SaaS format. The competition is outdated, clunky, requires local installation and messing about with licenses. Design firms are paying $1000-$3000/year per user/seat for what amounts to a pretty basic app.

Unfortunately, there are very few people that understand both computer science and structural engineering.

nsm 3 days ago 5 replies      

Every time I change jobs as an H1-B employee, I've to fill in the same ridiculous data with every law firms weird interface. I wish the US Digital Services would focus on streamlining forms and having auto-import from all the data they already have about me (e.g. automatically translate I-94 records to how much time I actually spent in the US, infer my past I-797 records automatically, have a one time education related upload since that obviously never changes). I realize there are certain valid reasons the agencies don't share data, but I find that hard to believe in an era of infinite surveillance, they can't use the surveilled data to at least make my life easier. I can see how the immigration law industry would never allow this, but I can hope.

The green card process is another minefield.

Also for Schengen countries, I've to apply for a visa every time I travel, and they make me list every time I visited the Schengen zone in the past 5 years, fill out the same application form across different countries, and get the same paystubs and letters from employers. Even a tool that could just machine read all the documentation a particular country requires for a specific visa, and just goes and pulls everything that can be pulled (bank statements, pay stubs, fill in travel dates based on the flight ticket emails in my inbox, hotel reservations and so on.) Just make it convenient for me to travel :)

scardine 3 days ago 8 replies      
A ticketing system that doesn't sux (I like RequestTracker, but it shows its age). Top players are ridiculously overpriced.

My management style is like this: every task/request is numbered, placed in a queue and assigned to a professional.

What I expect from my ticketing system:

- every manager should be able to assign tasks to someone and set the order they must be executed. He needs know what his team is doing and when they finish each task. - every professional should know what to do and what are the priorities. - everything is numbered and linked, all communication recorded.

Everything should be well integrated with email (please, don't send me a notification email about an answer and an url, send me the f* answer). If I answer the email, everything goes into the system, I should be able to send commands to the system by email (for example, add a keyword in order to make it a comment instead of answering).

ajepst 3 days ago 5 replies      
All the ballroom dance competitions use this old, disliked software to organize and run the events. The guy who wrote it isn't interested in making improvements, (and it can certainly use improvements) and is happy living off the income from people's per event usage rights. I am sure if something modern and regularly updated came out, it would get a lot of uptake. Thing is, the portion of it that runs during the event needs to be able to run offline since venues don't always have reliable internet, and that also means you would be going to at least the first few events for support.. And your tests better be good, since time is of the essence if some does go wrong mid event. I thought about it, and decided I was not interested in dealing with all that when my job pays pretty well. Still, it's a real opportunity.
dvdhnt 3 days ago 10 replies      
Semi-related... I work in wellness and healthcare.

I don't know about you, but I despise filling out the same forms over and over again when seeing new healthcare providers. I'd love to start a service modeled after granular smartphone permissions where

(a) I check in at a new office (scan a code, they scan my code, beacon, something like that)

(b) the office then requests x, y, and z information

(c) a push is sent to my phone where I can review the information and approve or disapprove some or all permissions

(d) a final step of either entering my pin at the office, using my thumbprint on my device, or something else.

The key components would be storing the data encrypted at rest, following HIPAA and then some, having a solid auth protocol (keys, jwts, etc).

I think adoption would be helped because the public are already used to permissions like these when installing apps.

The benefits are a lack of paper trail, no one is going to not shred my SSN, my most up to date data is now available, and instead of hosting N apps/databases, I'm storing 1 and can reduce my maintenance, customer support issues because one for all, all for one.

Edit: edited for readability.

AndrewKemendo 3 days ago 13 replies      
Rapid generation of high quality 3D models of existing objects. Process should be independent of object size eg. a coke can should use the same process as a car and process time should scale with object size.

Think somewhere on the order of 10,000 models per day throughput.

There's $BNs waiting for you. It's ridiculously hard.

tbrooks 2 days ago 3 replies      
I used to work in the keynote speaking industry as an agent.

This industry is horribly inefficient and intentionally so. It's mostly east-coast based - NY/DC but functions similarly to the LA entertainment industry.

The main problem is this:

You are a meeting planner (not your job title, you are actually a marketing person or executive assistant) and your boss just tasked you with find a speaker for your next company meeting.

What do you do? You can either:

1) Find a speaker yourself by searching Google and sifting through the mess of results

2) Call a speaker's bureau and get raked over the coals on price

3) ???

Ideally, there would be a marketplace for speakers. Where you would be able to search for talent that fit your criteria (available these dates, for this price, talks about these things, is well-regarded, etc.) and book them online.

Nothing like this exists.

scrollaway 3 days ago 7 replies      
Content and patch distribution for video games: Data integrity, progressive downloads, file-level patching, compression, encryption, and platform/version branching.

It's quite mind-boggling; nobody is really doing it on an industry-scale level. Every video game developer has their own way, all of which have their own problems.

It is a very hard problem. Blizzard actually came up with a very good system, but it's not in a state where it can be commercialized or open sourced.

I actually think whoever comes up with a system which solves these problems in a clean and consistent way will be sitting on a little revolution for content distribution.

Gruselbauer 3 days ago 5 replies      
I work for a small high end cosmetics business in the European Union. That particular industry has a lot of compliance and documentation rules imposed on it by Brussels. My predecessor in the line sadly pushed using Apple's Filemaker for that. It's not even that bad in the latest version and certainly offers some advantages over similar solutions but the guy was horribly in over his head. I'm talking fifty fields in a table having near identical names, undocumented... everything, no clear UI design paradigms, needlessly complicated UX and storing PDF as binary data in tables by the thousands.

But I feel like I'm stuck with repairing his shit because there's not a nice and clean solution anywhere in sight. I thought of Wiki systems but the actual data entry will be done by people who would be completely put off by any kind of syntax/markup whatsoever. I'm neither good enough a Web developer to roll something similar myself nor can I dream of creating something like an entire documentation system.

I think the problem might apply to other smaller businesses in the EU and especially Germany, too. Lots of docu to have ready in the unlikely but not impossible case of an inspection.

For the cosmetics industry it'd need to be able to track ingredients, lots of external evaluation docu, internal procedures and so on. While at the same time it would need to be usable by people who are far removed from tech literate.

NPMaxwell 2 days ago 2 replies      
As specific organs reduce functioning, some seniors living at home need to revise their recipes to avoid complex collections of foods just as TIAs and other problems reduce their ability to deal with the challenges. To-go food does not work. For some families, hospital-style food may mimic the diet they are accustomed to, but for immigrants, traditional hospital food may be horrific. Older people tend to rely on a very limited set of dishes, so that custom tailoring recipes may be cost effective. There are dietitian-run food delivery services, but not ones that create meals from clients' recipes. Affluent market tends to live away from their parents. The pain point is my co-worker telling me, "Food is killing my dad, and there is nothing I can do about it unless I quit this job and move home, which would be disastrous for my spouse and kids. As far as I can tell, I have to know how to solve the problem and just sit here, 3,000 miles away, and watch him die." I think this market would pay a premium.
cake93 3 days ago 3 replies      
AR/VR visualization of 3D and 4D microscopy data (multicolor 3D video, as well as 3D point clouds over time) for biological research.

Look for "lattice light sheet microscopy" or "superresolution microscopy" such as (3D)-STORM or STED.

These techniques are adopted at a high pace. Groups spent $ 500,000 and often more on the hardware. They can produce terabytes of data within days, but we hardly have any tools to view and interact with it. (And the people are overwhelmed with the analysis.)

Imagine a holographic video of living cell (potentially in near real time) where you can zoom by grabbing the hologram.

seancoleman 3 days ago 8 replies      
In real estate, developing with MLS data.

- There are over 900 regional MLS providers each with different schemas.

- You use RETS, a complicated, non web standards interface for downloading data.

- MLS data is plagued with errors and denormalized data making queries difficult.

6stringmerc 3 days ago 5 replies      
A monthly subscription service for a fee of $5 - $10 where every month I get a new kind of quirky instrument (shaker, wind, wood block and stick, whistle, triangle, or other noise maker) as a surprise by mail.

The point of the service in the music industry is to inspire new sounds and the device can either be kept or given away to somebody without a lot of second thought. Getting stuck is a big problem. Also in music it's important to collaborate and giving gifts is a good way to make connections and impressions.

Great tie-in with various Manufacturers or even retailers to get rid of excess stock / failed impulse buy items / etc.

zelon88 3 days ago 2 replies      
Not sure how much startup potential there is, but in my industry we struggle with adhering to procedures, and the root cause of that is because our procedures are written in the dark by management that doesn't always have a complete picture or much insight into what they're enforcing. The problem that creates is that employees only look for work-around's for the procedures (because they are misguided or misinformed most of the time) and it creates a bigger mess than if we had no procedures at all.

It's almost as though if we had a Procedural Consulting firm that could come in, look at the big picture, and help companies to create EFFICIENT and WORTHWHILE procedures that ACTUALLY do justice to the customer requirements without breaking the bank. Then they can sit everyone down and explain the procedures and enforce the assimilation that most companies usually have growing pains with.

I noticed that when moving to a new company that is trying to grow and achieve higher levels of accreditation. Management had intended a two-way assimilation to take place between my procedural knowledge and the procedures they already had in-place. What happened instead is old procedures are etched in stone and new ones are seen as an obstacle... The assimilation was one-way and the other middle-managers like myself are mainly concerned with keeping everything the same, despite there being improvements that could easily be made.

kapauldo 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is the best thread I've ever read on HN. It's like going to a conference without the time and cost spend. How about a product that does this thread once a week. Half therapy half happy hour.
Keyframe 3 days ago 1 reply      
In filmmaking, there's a space for a relatively small and potentially cheap(er) hybrid manual/motion control grip unit. Something between a panther dolly (no tracks), a crane and a milo motion control with a stabilised head. If you're into robotics, this is your space. Companies have started to work on these issues, but part at a time (like DJI's Ronin). It's not enough though.

Imagine a giant (3-5m reach) monitor arm that can be operated manually, but that can also remember the moves and repeat them. All of that on a mobile base that can do the same, along with a stabilisation head that can do a pitch/roll/yaw. Must be usable with and without power.

ramuta 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not a problem in industry, but rather in society: people rapidly losing jobs due to automation

We all know why this is happening. One way to try to "solve" this problem is fighting the change (Luddites), but this doesn't work. Also if people don't have enough income, they stop spending - who's going to buy products and services anymore?

Another possible solution would be that companies which automate most of it's work are owned by the community in which they operate.

Let's take banks for example. Most of the jobs in banking system can and will be automated. Imagine a country/state that has three banks - each of them is owned by a third of the population (shareholders). When a bank makes profit, each of the shareholders gets dividends out of it. The same example can be applied to other industries and in total people would get (in a form of dividends) the Universal Basic Income (which everybody is talking about these days).

Don't get me wrong, this is not communism. Companies would not be government owned, there would still be competition and private companies would still exist.

Anyway, there are also other ways to tackle the problem mentioned at the beginning. As Brexit and US elections showed us, it's starting to affect many people and needs to be addressed asap.

vegabook 3 days ago 1 reply      
Finance, specifically fixed income:

Regulations will unbundle research from liquidity provision starting sometime in 2018 (moving regulatory target, but theme seems clear). Sellside will have lower incentive to pay large research groups; buyside will have to pay explicit fees for research advisory. There is a big opportunity in providing platforms, with macro and market data live, where researchers can interact with capital managers, given that said researchers will likely find themselves bereft of their current distribution networks (bank sales forces) sometime in the next few years.

Equities already have a hybrid form of this where buyside earns "credits" to be allocated at the end of each year to research providers. But fixed income is at least twice as big as equities, is much more opaque because is essentially unlisted (mainly "OTC" = "over the counter" ie only those in the know), and therefore much more susceptible to disruption.

rmrm 3 days ago 9 replies      
My wife is a corporate attorney. They pass drafts of contracts around by email using MS word with change tracking enabled.

Some sort of attorney targeted simple revision tracking front end using git would be a mighty step forward.

huherto 3 days ago 5 replies      
Uber for cooks.

People cook food in their homes. You select the food from several cooks in your area in an app, drive to their house and pick the food.

I imagine a housewife/househusband that is already cooking for her/his family to prepare more portions. Snap a photo, a description, and price. It can be extra income for something that she/him is already doing.

People would use the product because it is convenient, saves times and they get more food variety.

ninjamayo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bret Victor-style dashboard and visualisation systems. I 've been using Qlikview, Tableau and Excel for years and they are all very limited in what they can do. New dashboard solutions come out every hour but everyone is copying each other. I want something that I can mould to my problem, that I can touch and fully interact with. Hard, hard problem but worth spending time on this. Make it work in real-time scenarios too please.
tommynicholas 3 days ago 4 replies      
BI for developers. Developers run many organizations and teams now, but most Business Intelligence-ish tools are either built for business people (Tableau, Domo) or for marketing (all analytics products, specifically GA).

I feel like there's a big opportunity for a tool/tools that are installed in apps as a package and then customized from there. Many teams build a version of this in house (Instacart open-sources theirs), and I think it should be a product.

costcopizza 3 days ago 2 replies      
A one stop service for moving.

Connecting/disconnecting utilities, address change, car registration, new laws I should be aware of.

End the piecemeal.

kolbe 3 days ago 4 replies      
Not my industry, but a friend of mine in law was discussing how incredible her in-house software is for managing billable hours relative to all her past companies. I poked around, and most law firms, even very deep pocketed ones, use somewhere between a bad tech system and no tech system to manage and track their work.

A small team could easily collaborate with some law firm (maybe take an investment from a few law firms), and create some very valuable software.

eli 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's still surprisingly hard to send email newsletters. I want software or a service that sits on top of mailgun/ses/my own SMTP server and handles list management, templating, link redirection, and analytics. And that stores everything in a way that makes further data mining easy.

Lots of services solved the just sending email part. And lots of mailchimp type services offer a complete product geared towards marketers. Not much in between and most existing players have laughably poor APIs that make custom integrations and extensions painful.

biztos 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is not the industry I work in, but one of which I'm often a customer:

A turnkey package tracking system for small-to-medium shippers.

In much of the world the shipping (as in DHL, FedEx) markets are still very fragmented and do not look like they're going to consolidate all that much. (As to why, I have guesses but I don't know for sure. I'm looking at Central Europe right now but I expect this is true in many other regions).

As far as I can tell the package tracking systems are something the companies compete on, with the result that a lot of them suck or (worst case) don't exist.

Case in point: I'm currently waiting for a shipment that the seller swears they gave to the shipper, but the shipper's system doesn't recognize the code. Both parties maintain it's probably just not "processed" yet at the shipper's, going on three days now.

As a software guy, I find it crazy that nobody has a generic white-label tracking system that any random shipper can use in combination with some smartphones/tablets for label scanning. It only has to cost less than the company pays the owner's cousin's teenage son to write the tracking PHP code these companies would otherwise use, and I bet you could upsell all kinds of premium add-ons if it worked well.

I would love to see this, and I think it's a big enough market to actually accommodate a startup.

bigmattystyles 3 days ago 8 replies      
Not in my industry but I'm part of an HOA and I swear 2/3 of what the people paid to administer it do seems streamlinable/automatable with lots of opportunity for making money along the way. Every time I deal with them I proclaim to myself, STARTUP! Then I forget about it..
agentgt 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm not in the industry but I would really love a better way of growing your own food indoors while minimizing as much space but growing enough to support two people a day.

Basically it is either build your own large messy setup or buy a complete novel piece of crap that will barely support a single meal... aka aerogarden.

It would be nice to have basically a large self contained opaque cabinet with drawers of growing food.

Basically I want a food growing appliance with plumbing and electrical hookups.

I would easily be willing to spend a couple grand on something like that.

contingencies 3 days ago 10 replies      
Normally I live in China, and rarely eat western breakfast.

Recently I returned to Australia to spend some Christmas time with my extended family.

A few mornings ago, I put some real bread I cut from a sourdough loaf in a toaster. Due to its irregular size, when it popped it didn't pop out completely, resulting in a sort of "toaster is too hot to insert fingers, toast is too hot to hold, toast is ready, find metallic implement to insert in to mains-powered device to extract toast" problem.

I mentally facepalmed.

Someone should really fix toasters.

lucaspiller 3 days ago 1 reply      
Surprised nobody has mentioned the elephant in our industry yet: recruiters and recruitment companies. I'm not talking about those employed by big companies, but those who are independent.

For the last year and a bit I've been contracting with a company, and the recruiter who found me has fees of around 10% per day of my work, which they bill the company.

They found me via LinkedIn, sent me a couple of emails, arranged a Skype call between me and the company, and sent me a bit of paperwork. Not bad for 10k.

NurAzhar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Uber for boat in Singapore please

Hard to find boat from pier to ship

Also cost prohibitive alot of unnecessary middle man

Old_Thrashbarg 2 days ago 0 replies      
My sibling was an architect in NYC for a couple years. He found it very difficult to keep on top of the different regulations which are amended occasionally. They come in books, PDFs, old janky online tools.

We're working on a startup to bring all together into a modern search engine. It's called UpCodes.

There's a lot of space in the area of construction compliance that needs improving.

protomyth 3 days ago 2 replies      
Not my industry, but in my area. I'm still looking for a good modular house that can be setup reasonably quickly, low cost, and can survive North Dakota winter and summer. Something suitable for a single person or a couple.
Avshalom 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's probably a SaaS in locksmithing.

http://masterkeypro.com/ is sort of the only entry in the market and cores/companies-that-need-key-schedules change just often enough that say $5-10 month could gain traction.

shinamee 3 days ago 4 replies      
Tech industry: I want to be able to go to Mars for the weekend... leaving on Friday and coming back early Monday morning.

This is still a big problem in tech industry.

jdc0589 3 days ago 1 reply      
Industry: Any tech company that hosts sensitive/regulated data.

The problem: privlidged access management and auditing.

The solution: Cyberark, but not $250k to cover 1,000 servers. Ain't nobody got money for that.

iamgopal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Government should allow company to pay part of the salary as life long Income bond. Company will have tax credit for that. Government will pay them fixed monthly income depend upon value of bond. I.e. Deferred inflation. But this can solve minimum income idea very easily.
Too 2 days ago 0 replies      
Software development tools/IDE have come a long way but are nothing compared to what they could be. Things like static analysis, syntax/context aware diff/merge, visualization of variable changes while debugging, visualizations in general, cross language understanding, instant compilation, reverse debugging, data store integration, remote debugging, hot reloading, dependency management, cross platform compatibility, documentation integration, design for async. List could go on forever.

It is somewhat "possible" to get a subset of the features above today but it always feels more like proof of concept rather than a complete product and you can never get all of them in one environment.

The problem is that there are so many free tools that are "good enough" so it becomes quite a luxury to pay for the last mile. Barrier to entry is very large because of this and because it is a very big and complex problem space. Would love to see some competition here, only serious actors today are intellij and VS.

mrdlin 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
richard___ 2 days ago 4 replies      
A meal prep service for bodybuilders. The hardest part of bodybuilding is eating right. Something that is affordable, nutritious, and calorie dense would be extremely valuable. There is no meal delivery service I know of that satisfies the last criterion. $10 should get you at least 1000 healthy calories
tlb 3 days ago 2 replies      
(AI research industry)

We'd like to run learning algorithms on robots, but there are no great options for hardware. (Happy to discuss in depth if someone wants to build it)

We want to train large models much faster than any GPU box you can buy. (There are several new things announced, but there's room for more).

jakub_g 3 days ago 2 replies      
Email parsing and extracting data from it, (input data in multiple languages), that is not strictly depending on predefined templates but being able to adjust itself. Think parsing emails from multiple providers of certain kind of service and exposing common data model. Looks like perfect usage of machine learning.
starik36 3 days ago 2 replies      
Radio Industry. I know it's a slowly dying business, but that's because the giants are too slow to turn.

I want to be able to go to a website, ask for demographics that I am looking for and be able to purchase an advertisement and hire talent to record my commercial.

As it stands, you have to deal with salespeople.

analog31 3 days ago 1 reply      
An easy way to design things using catalog mechanical parts.

I imagine being able to create a structure or assembly from stuff in the McMaster-Carr or ThorLabs catalogs without having to be a CAD expert. When I'm satisfied with the thing on my screen, I press a button, enter my credit card number, and the parts arrive from their respective vendors in a couple days.

A search feature would be vital, of course. Being able to modify some parts would be useful, e.g., if I need 14 inches of pipe, I can cut down a 24 inch piece. Drawing from multiple disciplines would be necessary, e.g., combining an electrical box, optical assembly, and structural framework.

Maybe you get paid via a little kickback from those vendors, who also agree to integrate their catalogs with your service.

JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 2 replies      
I do embedded Linux porting. The big job is writing drivers and building the device tree. This would be so much simpler if schematics could be annotated with scrapable clues about pin connections and device parameters (e.g. device tree fragments). Its all derivable from the schematic and chip specs, but that part could be automated almost completely.

It would put me out of a job, but better than shooting myself in the head next time I have to face 40 hours of slogging through data sheets.

scaramouche 3 days ago 4 replies      
A request/approval system. The current offerings are laughably unusable.
earthly10x 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in the AI industry and our problem is that we have so little grasp on what intelligence actually is, that we stumble in getting our machines to mimic portions of human cognition even on the vector space level.
probolsky 2 days ago 0 replies      
I recently had to reserve six hotel ballrooms/conf. rooms for focus groups. Hotel sales offices suck. They are not responsive, sometimes taking days to respond, they have old technology (if any). They require signatures on multiple documents (almost none use online forms). For some inexplicable reason sales and catering managers all have assistants, who by the way, cannot actually do anything or give you any information, they are just clerks to take info. It was a coordination nightmare to set up all six locations and dates. There is great opportunity here to automate and streamline this process.
Avshalom 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's not really start up material but Sage/MAS is basically crap for companies that need custom work. The door warehouse I worked at basically needed 2-3 parallel system (1-2 of them being us scribbling on paper) because we custom fabricated doors and MAS was basically useless for passing that kind of thing around.

P.S. If any of you are in Austin I recommend Hull Supply, they're good people.

Kaizyn 3 days ago 1 reply      
In the IT industry, finding good startup ideas is a hard problem.
braindead_in 3 days ago 1 reply      
We are an human powered audio/video transcription service and have lots of training data that can be used for training a speech recognition system. An ASR-as-a-Service in the cloud kind of platform where we can use our data to continuously train and improve the models would be very useful for us.
fatdog 3 days ago 1 reply      
Work in software, key problem in my industry is a lack of leadership.
mixedbit 3 days ago 1 reply      
Global CDN with a fixed monthly cost and a capped bandwidth. For example, pay 100$/month and get up to 1Gb/s, traffic above this limit is dropped.

Providers today offer uncapped bandwidth, some, like Amazon, without any cost cap, some, like KeyCDN, allow to set a cost cap, but take the resources off-line when the limit is exceeded.

cheriot 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's not my industry, but I've been thinking about my health habits and a WaPo article made me realize I don't even know what a healthy weight range to target is[1]. BMI ignores bone structure and muscle and the most popular/affordable body fat estimations are +-10%. Is there something else out there to help make an individualized weight goal? Or any other health goal?

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/12/01/nearl...

takinola 3 days ago 5 replies      
As a SaaS provider, one of the key indicators of a customer at risk of churn is the presence of another competitor in their account. A service which notifies you once an account signs up for a competing service would be immensely valuable in helping to target retention activities.
ausrname1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sales. It's crazy that selling products requires the build-out of entire sales, marketing, and support organizations when most companies could be well served by an Uber for Sales.
strobe 3 days ago 0 replies      
One problem from my past experience at architecture industry:every country has it own rules & regulations for represent drawings of designs(documentation)(many small things like floor plans, sizes, fonts, frames, symbols descriptions all are different) as result CAD software developed in one country very hard to use in another without lot of weird tricks which works only for subset of original functionality.I believe it may be solved be separating actual building model and view/render representation like AST and interpreter. But unfortunately is super hard to do just because that AST model should include lot of complex stuff.
0xdeadbeefbabe 3 days ago 2 replies      
A cheap durable texting cel phone with long battery life for use as a pager.

Edit: probably without android.

OliverJones 2 days ago 0 replies      
Antibotnet -- software products and hardware gizmos to detect when IoT gizmos get pwned, recruited into botnets, and then the botnets are activated to attack KrebsOnSecurity or somebody.

This stuff should be priced for home and small office use.

"BEEEP" Why is your laser printer's ethernet port issuing tons of SYN requests? Unplug that printer! Factory reset it!

Grow it into carrier-grade implementations.

woogiewonka 2 days ago 0 replies      
Vehicle purchaseing. I despise having to negotiate a lower price when both parties know what the vehicle is actually worth, what incentives are available and that the salesperson is bullshiting the buyer. My soul dies a little every time I have to buy another car. I wish someone would put dealerships out of business somehow.
bobosha 2 days ago 2 replies      
Enterprise passwords/keys sharing with an audit trail, non-repudiation, expiration and all that jazz. Most (all?) companies I know, including ours have challenges sharing such info. Current solution is mostly to use google drive or dropbox in most businesses I know.
komali2 3 days ago 2 replies      
Many doctor offices still have horrifying paper record systems, don't use e-invites, etc. Companies are fixing this but the market is still huge.

I don't know why the few companies that are in the IoT space for oil and gas aren't scooping up literally billions in missed opportunities for sticking cell-enabled sensors on oil platforms, fields, etc. Then there's the next billion dollars waiting for whoever starts sticking controllers next to the sensors on valves, etc.

Drone inspection and repair in oil and gas. People are doing this but it's taking way too long to take off for how much money is there just waiting to be picked up.

Sticking a laser scanner on a drone. Again, people are doing it, but what the fuck, there's so much money just sitting there.

If you're looking for contract work, just start browsing random EPC websites and calling up the shitty ones. Probably a good 10,000 at least that are still rocking 1995 crapsites, and not in the "good" "low functionality low load time" way, the "using tables for layout" way.

Trains should be automated. They already are in Taiwan for some lines, it's been feasible for years.

Motorcycle safety is still subpar for where we are in material science. There are a lot of riders out there that will pay buckets for greater safety. We've figured out how to not get our skin ripped off but I believe there's still a market for preventing broken bones, spinal snaps, decapitations, and the like.

Somehow we still don't have GUI HUDs in our moto helmets. Like BMW is working on something but honestly it would be a relatively simple and profitable thing for a very small startup (2 man team working part time). Literally even just casting your smartphone screen to the visor would be enough to get people buying so they can have a HUD map and shit.

Big market for motorcycle storage solutions. I giggle whenever I see someone with an ammo box strapped onto their sports bike. We already dropped hundreds on gear and thousands on the bike, we spend many more hundreds or thousands on modding the things, there's ample opportunity for more elegant and functional storage solutions.

VR allows for limitless desktop screen space in a portable package. I'd like to be able to bring an HTC vive and a tiny screenless box to plug it into that would allow me to have a "multi-monitor" setup while I travel. Some say the resolution isn't there yet, I say make the text bigger. I have no problem reading the stuff in steamVR.

I get made fun of every time I bring it up but I'm convinced people are stupidly ignoring lighter than air travel, transportation, and data distribution, especially in an automated sense. Google has their wifi balloon thing but they dropped their blimp transport truck project. I think it could've been a thing.

There may be some margins available in teaching low-income people how to cook and eat basic foods instead of frozen meals. It took me to getting scholarshipped into college to realize that we were losing buckets of money eating frozen meals and fast food because we thought it was the "cheapest option," not to mention how unhealthy we were for it. Think like somehow getting low-income folks to buy potatoes, onions, peppers, dried beans, cheap cuts of meat, etc and demonstrating how it's faster, cheaper, healthier, etc. Potentially a gov funding opportunity, would save on EBT and healthcare costs.

Kids learn by doing. Good luck changing anything about education in the USA though.

Someone would be able to take over any industry in Taiwan that they please if they start up the company and instantly pay 2x local salary, give PTO, and have other basic benefits that we take for granted here. It wouldn't be much, you'd be paying ~44k/year USD for an Engineer, for example. You'd be able to poach the best talent, you'd draw shitloads of negative press from pissed of old Taiwanese businesspeople (no press is bad press), everyone would be telling you you're wrong, and you'd Donald Trump your way straight to the top. Think Scranton Oakmont or Gordon Ramsay as well. Just don't break the law. Also learn Chinese.

ommunist 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too many startups are trying to disrupt the industry, thus creating the problem, that cannot be solved by one more startup. Its the same problem with, say, capitalism. You cannot solve it by organising one more political party. I am not saying capitalism is bad. Its a problem.
frodprefect 3 days ago 0 replies      
Industrial heat treating. PID controllers with expansive reporting software. Whole industry is scrambling right now to make their own or buy systems upwards of 10K.

Think Wi-Fi thermostats that record data.

mcgrill 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anything that has to do with mining engineering and the use of software is just ripe for startups, getting the industry to adopt thought is a different story.
joeld42 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the best places to look is where an emerging platform overlaps with existing specialty fields. For example, VR is currently an emerging platform, here's a few things that maybe someone is pursuing but there's no established solution for:

- 3D Storyboarding for VR cinematic storytelling (mixed desktop/VR)

- VR home tours for real estate

- VR sports training for golf/tennis/baseball

- Rehearsal/Staging VR for event planning.

- VR Training for DIY/Construction.

etc.. In particular if there is a field that you personally work in or know someone that's a great place to start.

danschumann 2 days ago 2 replies      
All these ideas are wrong, because they are cash grabs. Money will never satisfy you. Find a startup you love by looking back to your best memories(10 years ago or more) of creating something and seek to give people that experience. Then, even if you fail financially, you'll still have more great memories, 10 years from now.
weewooweewoo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Strippers, but for emotional labor.
kevinskii 3 days ago 2 replies      
xiaoma 3 days ago 4 replies      
Everyone is ignoring the low-end of the market.
treehau5 3 days ago 1 reply      
Not sure, but if it involves automating more jobs away, wank off.
saosebastiao 3 days ago 6 replies      
These questions pop up every now and then, and while I get the intent, you're not gonna get anything useful out of it. The idea that someone who knows how to code can disrupt an industry that they are not a part of is disingenuous, and the examples that you can find are exceptions, not the rule. It's also extremely naive and presumptuous...what makes you think people in the industry haven't already tried? People who fall ill to this delusion end up in one of two categories: those that attack easy problems with tiny markets, and those that attack hard problems and spend decades learning about and becoming a part of the industry before they solve them.

As someone in the supply chain and logistics industry, I can list for you hundreds of people that know the traveling salesman problem and precisely why its not applicable to their situation. I know hundreds of people that already know how to better manage their safety stock than someone who suggests using Gaussian demand models. I know hundreds of people who can optimize last mile delivery costs orders of magnitude better than a drone engineer. I know hundreds of people who can manage inventory distribution and ordering automation better than someone who knows databases.

And sure, there are companies out there that are doing everything ass backwards and could use some help, even if it is primitive and simplistic. And when they decide to look for it, who are they gonna choose: the guy who saved Amazon $500M/year with their truck load optimization expertise, or you, with your shiny website and a trick you learned from a textbook?

So as a piece of advice, if you aren't part of the industry already, don't try to do B2B in that industry. B2C is fine, because as a consumer you are ostensibly a part of the industry...but B2B is a death march.

Announcing TypeScript 2.1 microsoft.com
502 points by DanRosenwasser  5 days ago   221 comments top 43
timruffles 5 days ago 5 replies      
If you still haven't given TypeScript a go as a Javascripter, now is a great time to do so.

Whether you end up adopting it or not, it's interesting to get the types out of your mind and into the code. The first time you feel the speed/confidence of refactoring with accurate 'Find usages', you'll decide if the undeniable overhead of types is worth it.

edblarney 5 days ago 2 replies      
After trying TS, I basically never want to write JS again.

I know that 'OO' and 'typing' is not the solution to everything ... but aside from all the nice things you can do in TS ... the 'enforced architecture' of OO-ish paradigms, combined with typing, and essential obfuscation of the prototype paradigm ... has cut the time to development in half.

I can hardly think of a reason to use JS now that TS exists.

Of course - there are some reasons, in some specific situations, but by and large, TS is the future.

zdragnar 5 days ago 7 replies      
It's interesting to me that all of the initial reactions I've seen to this announcement have been around the introduction of async and object spread, which are available with babel, but the typescript specific features such as mapped types are completely ignored.

I don't really have any particular meaning behind that observation, only that it tickled my funny bone a little bit.

jensvdh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Typescript is a game changer for any serious project. Never going back to plain JS.
Noseshine 5 days ago 4 replies      

Is it possible to have a setup with TypeScript where it is guaranteed that no code changes occur other than removal of the type information?

I started using Flow, found what it can and can't do and would like to try TypeScript. But only if I can have "types-only", I don't want my code "translated" in any way. I'm writing for the latest node.js version and not for x different browsers, I want to use exactly what that version supports and have no code-changing steps.

With Flow I use flow-remove-types (https://github.com/leebyron/flow-remove-types) to remove the types. It leaves spaces where there was type-related code and doesn't touch the code itself.

msoad 5 days ago 0 replies      
We are using async await with 2.1 rc and it works flawlessly. I also love the keyof, with that we can remove tons of "any" types from our code base.

Amazing work TypeScript team! This release has been a lot of work!

tjbarbour 5 days ago 1 reply      
"We spread ourselves thin, but this is the moment youve been awaiting TypeScript 2.1 is here!"
ggregoire 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Object Rest & Spread

Great news! That will finally fix the syntax errors in VSCode. :)



n0us 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have been waiting for object rest and spread for ages. Thank you to the maintainers for working hard on this feature.
ohstopitu 5 days ago 0 replies      
I recently started using TS instead of JS and I've been loving it. I find errors much earlier and while the tooling could be a bit better, I honestly find it less exhausting than keeping up with Babel.
ng12 5 days ago 1 reply      
Hurrah for object spreads! Time to go grepping for calls to _.default and _.extend.
garysieling 5 days ago 1 reply      
TypeScript is great. I built https://www.findlectures.com over a year, starting in plain Javascript. Once the codebase was large enough that got stuck I added TypeScript, and it's been great for isolating defects.

It's nice paired with React (vs PropTypes) because the checking happens a lot earlier and is much richer.

lacampbell 5 days ago 3 replies      
How does the development cycle work? With plain JS I load up my html page in browser (chrome) and head to the console to check for errors in the JS. Then I do user testing.

Can type-script be debugged by a browser on a source code level - ie not on a transpiled level? If not, I am not sure if it's worth it. And I say that as someone who is a huge fan of explicit optional typing.

ken47 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Typescript for over a year, and the amount of improvement in that relatively short time span has been incredible. With 2.1, Typescript shows no signs of slowing down.
euroclydon 5 days ago 3 replies      
One thing I never understood with Babel is which features are shimmed in the output JS and which features are re-implemented?

What I means is: I didn't know how to tell Babel which browsers I was targeting, and I'm pretty sure that some of their feature implementations do not feature test the platform before activating, since they were so compiled in. Is that the case?

Also, do you have to tell TypeScript your target runtime for it to it to use it's ES3 async/await logic vs. it's ES2015 (which uses generators), or does it automatically figure it out?

jasonallen 5 days ago 6 replies      
Feels like Typescript is building (or has built up?) more momentum than Flow.
jtmarmon 5 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone comment on the difference in reliability between using typescript and a natively statically typed language like haskell or scala? Is there any? Or is the type safety really as good when you use ts
ihsw 5 days ago 0 replies      
Async/await support for most browsers and node-0.12+ is definitely a welcome feature, callback hell and tripping over promise chains is definitely one of the most painful experience in TS development IMO.
smrtinsert 5 days ago 0 replies      
Incredible release. Was definitely waiting for the spread/rest improvements as well as being curious about the async stuff.

TypeScript continues to be for me the clear winner of the alt.js languages.

boubiyeah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulation to the TS team. We are happily using it at work, it's such a tremendous upgrade over javascript, while keeping the entire ecosystem at hand.
seattle_spring 5 days ago 3 replies      
Seems like all of the new features have been available in Flow for quite a while now.
koolba 5 days ago 3 replies      
So can I finally banish babel from my build steps?
edblarney 5 days ago 2 replies      
Dear TS authors:

Thank you (!) for your amazing contributions. TS is the best new thing in tech.

That said:

Your linguistic genius is way ahead of the tooling.

I feel as though some of these 'new and cool' 2.1 things are a little bit intellectual, maybe useful in some cases ...

But getting TS to work in the real world, the various build configurations, tool-chains etc. - it's still clumsy.

It was difficult to grasp the difference between AMD and other paradigms. I still have problems with circular dependencies, or rather, things happening before modules are loaded.

Here's one pain point:

Creating a static attribute on a class and initializing it right there, as in:

class A { static b:B = new B();}

Means that 'new B()' will get executed right when that module is loaded, possibly before the module containing B is loaded.

It's ugly, mechanical - but it's not a 'fine point'. I think these are the kinds of issues which are more likely to hold people back, as opposed to the lack of some rather fancy new paradigms such as 'Mapped Types'.

Anyhow, keep up the good work. Lovin't it.

voltagex_ 5 days ago 0 replies      
What's the future of TypeScript in Visual Studio (not Code)?

I've got a project that just silently fails to build in VS - no errors, no warnings, build successful - but no output.

It seems like the Typescript tools inside VS2015 (even with the latest update) just aren't ready.

hashhar 5 days ago 0 replies      
Really happy with the development pace. I started using it by contributing to VSCode and was very pleased with the great tooling and sane language and syntactic sugar.
euroclydon 5 days ago 0 replies      
The proposal for async/await is education, to say the least. The specs for modern and older browser/js-engines are in there.

Turns out they implement two case statements, and handle every possible control structure.


mwcampbell 5 days ago 3 replies      
Any plans to add C#-like extension methods to TypeScript? Or is there a way to achieve the same thing already? I know that a previous suggestion to add extension methods was closed as out of scope. But maybe it's time to revisit that, since TypeScript is now doing significant code transformations for downlevel await support.
nojvek 5 days ago 2 replies      
Would be so cool if the js engines ignored types like python3.

Then I could just write Typescript and run it on node/browser

k__ 5 days ago 1 reply      
Are there any plans to catch something like this:

 function f(x: any): T { return x }

aj0strow 5 days ago 1 reply      
The easier imports solves my biggest issue with migrating an existing project over. I'd say TypeScript is "ready" now.

The last feature I'd want is an easy way to map nested json into classes rather than interfaces. Anyone know how?

crudbug 5 days ago 1 reply      
Coming from Java land, TS is a life saver for front-end development.

Any plans for .NET Core / CLR backend ?

I think, this will be the silver bullet. TS types should be able to generate statically compiled bytecode => native binary ?

thewhitetulip 4 days ago 1 reply      
I recently started learning JS, and now I am confused between TS and babel. Can anyone give me a reason why I should use either of the two and when I should use either of the two?
libria 5 days ago 3 replies      
I like the functionality of

 let merged = { ...foo, ...bar, ...baz };
But I've come to understand ... as variadic parameters in C++, Java and Go. Wish they'd used another token.

yulaow 5 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone knows any good resources to learn typescript? The tutorials on the official site are really... bad. Like I would not even call them tutorials.
netcraft 5 days ago 0 replies      
another anecdote - ive been using TS2.1 for the last month on three interconnected projects - a rest api, an express app and also for client side code in that express app - it has been a great experience. async/await is a godsend and @types/ makes what used to be a terrible process much more streamlined and easy. If you have to write JS, typescript is the best way ive ever found.
polskibus 5 days ago 1 reply      
Still no VS 2013 support? We're stuck on 1.8 for a while. It would be great if they supported VS 2013 at least until they release 2017.
time4tea 5 days ago 1 reply      
The noImplicitAny flag just doesn't make sense. You changed the new default behaviour to be the thing you don't recommend?
haapanen 5 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome! Been waiting for this for a long time!It's pretty interesting how much code gets generated for just async function() {} :)
avitzurel 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm getting a 404 on this. Anyone else?
daxfohl 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like a great foundation to build something like F# type providers on top of.
co_dh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I feel that the lookup types and mapped types are dependent types, am I right?
tkubacki 5 days ago 0 replies      
Dart 1.21 is out today too - with generic methods supportnews.dartlang.org
ausjke 5 days ago 3 replies      
Been a Linux developer for ages C# was never my taste, I'm still a bit Microsoft-hatred as of now(Visual Studio Code is the only item I adopted for JS development, the rest languages I still use vi/Geany). How tightly TS is related to C#? That has been the main reason I had not tried TS seriously so far. Don't want to have anything to do with C#. I know...
Saving the Internet 2000TB a Day: Fixing Font Awesomes Fonts pixelambacht.nl
504 points by mattiemass  3 days ago   148 comments top 26
jsnell 3 days ago 4 replies      
Is the 2000TB/day number reasonable, or just clickbait?

It's all based on coming up with two numbers that when multiplied say that this resource is downloaded 73 billion times a day. That's 20 times / day for every internet user (even those using it on a 2G connection once a year). Given a reasonable caching period of 1 month, that'd mean the average user visits 600 different sites a month. That seems like much more than one would expect.

Or to look at it another way, global IP traffic is apparently estimated at 72000 PB/month. That's 2400PB/day. This font alone would then be accounting for 0.3% of all internet traffic, or 1% of all non-video traffic. Again, that's a very high number.

But at least it doesn't appear to be a totally impossible number either, just an awfully implausible one.

fortawesome 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is a great article. Some of these are already on the agenda for FA5, but there's some new stuff there for us too. We'll dig in and it's a TODO on the FA5 roadmap now. :)

Another thing I'm super excited about is stray points in vectors. We found some new tools for Illustrator that make this a LOT easier and will have a very real impact on bandwidth as well.

Super fun.

anonymish 3 days ago 6 replies      
There are some really valid points in here and I dislike the idea of using the whole font when only a few icons are required.

But, isn't subsetting going to result in users now caching your subset instead of a cached copy of everything? I would think that does more harm than everyone grabbing a fully cached copy once from a cdn.

mosburger 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're only using a small subset of FontAwesome (as I suspect many people do), I'd imagine at some point it'd make a lot of sense to use data-uri's to effectively embed them directly in an existing request, which would be faster than a CDN?

I saw a talk by someone from Smashing Magazine where they basically did this for a subset of their WebFonts (downloading the entire font asynchronously afterward), then they cached their WebFonts in LocalStorage, but it seems like it make even more sense for an icon font where you're using a very small subset.

jessesuth81 3 days ago 2 replies      
Wouldn't the most obvious solution be to open-source FA fonts and include them in Linux, Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android? If they were installed on all systems then we wouldn't really have this issue at all. Given the ubiquity of some fonts this doesn't seem impossible.

Or and sorry to say cause I like FA, screw them and see if Apple/MS/Google can have an open standard icon font that doesn't suck.

usaphp 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using https://icomoon.io/app/ for years now to pick only the fonts I like and it can also generate icon fonts from svg so that I can merge different icon sets and pick the only icons I will use in my projects.
meirelles 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's a lot a bandwidth for a single thing. Makes me wonder, perhaps we should have a global repository of popular web libraries for browsers, all of them versioned, like happens on npm/bower. It's possible be backwards compatible with old browsers using a real and standardized URL. A single source of the truth. It's better than many CDNs providing the same thing over and over again... Being immutable packages browsers do not need check for updates (no more waste with 304 responses).
jordanielewski 3 days ago 1 reply      
I used http://fontello.com/ when I needed few icons
jstapels 3 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately I think a lot of the points in this article are lost if you assume that the CDN's serving up the TTF for FontAwesome are using GZIP compression.
proaralyst 3 days ago 4 replies      
What's the argument against icon fonts? Using actual SVGs?
che_shirecat 3 days ago 3 replies      
Stuff like this is like rearranging chairs on the titanic - 26 kilobytes is a drop in the bucket compared to the bloat created by all the other shit people slap on to their sites - ad scripts for example
BillBatw2 3 days ago 1 reply      
The font on this page is terrible. Bad legibility!
dmtroyer 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like they could now afford to have the author consult on the project.
Zelmor 3 days ago 2 replies      
One of the quoted sources is titled

>How Font Awesome 5 Became Kickstarters Most Funded Software Project

I checked their kickstarter, however.>35,550 backers pledged $1,076,960 to help bring this project to life.

Pillars of Eternity, most assuredly software, was a kickstarter I backed. Their campaign page reads to this day:

>73,986 backers pledged $3,986,929 to help bring this project to life.

Why make up such a shitty lie? Does it matter if you have the longest John in the pub? Is this something USA specific down the American Dream/Meritocracy/Competitiveness axis? I find most European projects to be more modest about these things.

No hate please! None intended here. It just feels weird to me.

et1337 3 days ago 0 replies      
People seem to be plugging font generator websites, so here's what I use and highly recommend: http://fontastic.me/
eriknstr 3 days ago 0 replies      
The fork commits only the modified font files, so as soon as the upstream project modifies the font files it will be out of date. Might it not be better to script the optimization passes?
cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can also serve the font files with the `Cache-Control: immutable` HTTP response header so the client never needs to revalidate with the server (even when the user forces a page reload). Use versioned filenames for immutable resources if you need to change them later.


Bahamut 3 days ago 0 replies      
We are actually in the process of changing our Font Awesome font usage into svg versions of the font (via Icomoon's free converter tool) due to some of our customers blocking web fonts on IE11 via Windows Registry settings, claiming security issues...

But one nice side-effect of changing it to svg versions is that our clients are now loading icons on demand and only the ones being used in the app, as opposed to the whole web font.

jasoncchild 3 days ago 0 replies      
Despite all the hand waiving about accuracy of the claims or the efficacy of CDN fronted caching, etc etc, it is good to see more initiatives around saving (especially mobile) bandwidth use. After moving from EE into full stack js I've been blown away as the duplication present
epx 3 days ago 0 replies      
I dropped web font after another HN post about how bw hogging they are. My site is not fashion anyway, and the mobile users are majority
megous 3 days ago 0 replies      
Save the internet by dropping icon fonts altogether. You save a lot of bandwidth, and you stop breaking the web.
amelius 2 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't we put resources like this on a CDN?
btbuildem 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ironically, they use a somewhat unreadable font on their website.
parasitid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Save Hexabytes a day by stopping this GIF everywhere mania!
sheeshkebab 3 days ago 0 replies      
allendoerfer 3 days ago 0 replies      
The FOSS web community should participate in a global feature freeze and stop creating new libraries and frameworks for a year or two to work on stuff like this instead. Just so much opportunity everywhere.
On Getting Older in Tech corgibytes.com
495 points by mindfulgeek  4 days ago   415 comments top 62
epalmer 3 days ago 7 replies      
I'm going to apologize ahead of time. this might be a ramble.

63 year old white guy with little hair and a lifelong beard that is now white. A tad overweight as well. I feel for so many people expressing angst about ageism. I've seen it elsewhere but not where I work now.

I suspect that at the faster growing companies and companies in tech centers, mostly on the coasts, see more pronounced ageism.

My last job was at a bank in Richmond VA and there was clear ageism in IT when I got their. I moved to compliance from IT for two years and I was very successful and never observed ageism.

At 53 I moved to a web development manager and developer role in Higher Ed. I took a gigantic pay cut, if you factor in bonuses and options to work in Higher Ed. But I got to send my oldest to college at a selective school for free. A $200K after tax benefit.

I don't look back. My life is so much better now with a 40 hour work week and being in control 100% on how we architect our web and backend eco-system. I spend more than 40 hours because I love learning but I choose when, where and what I learn and work on after 40 hours.

I read these comments from people that are 36, 40, 40+ and shake my head. That is not old. 63 is not even old. I plan on working till I am at least 67. I love my job and I especially love the people I work with.

I find these days I spend less time coding and I end up with better applications because I think through the design before coding.

I'm going to ask around in Richmond VA and see what ageism exists in industry here and report back.

Keep learning, try as hard as you can to stay in shape and engage in critical thinking. Good luck to each of you in staying employed and staying happy.

riprowan 3 days ago 6 replies      
48 yo here, started coding when I was 14, so that's 34 years of building things.

Here's where I'm at.

I look back at my career and I can tell you about great projects that I got to be part of, awards and plaudits that I won, big paybacks from projects that went well and literally saved the company. That's all nice to have war stories.

But I can't point to any of it and say, "I made that" because - and here's the kicker - it's all gone.

Software is ephemeral. One day your client does an upgrade, and then the thing that you spent years building and curating like a baby disappears. It isn't mothballed and put in the basement where visitors can walk by and see it. There's no photo of you standing by the thing that you can hang in the hallway and see every day. Your creation just completely vanishes without a trace.

All those years I've also been a musician and recording engineer. I've made a few dozen records none of which amount to anything that anyone else would care about. And all told I'm sure that I earned more money in one year of my IT work than my entire music career.

However, here is a collection of my work that I can point to and say, "I made that." It's a creation that I can reflect on years and years down the road.

I take much more satisfaction in my musical creations than from my software creations, even though I was much more famous and valued as a software architect.

blub 3 days ago 15 replies      
I don't find this post inspiring, I find it sad.

It's partly self-encouragment, part PR. The fact that it even exists is proof that the author is facing some issues, no matter how confident they would like to appear.

That recipe to stay current looks tiresome. Listen to two podcasts, two webcasts, subscribe to four magazines, teach courses, go to one conference per year, blog regularly, read blogs, follow the latest web trends. Your reward: you are still employable.

And why is it that most older people answering on these threads are so passionate about learning and about new technologies and the latest and greatest javascript frameworks. Do they really enjoy having such ephemeral knowledge and basically competing with anyone that's finished a bootcamp or not even that?

It all seems fake. Like they're trying to put on a brave face while at the same time being scared and trying to convince themselves that all this new and shiny tech that they work with is awesome.

Why not have an honest conversation instead of pretending that learning some thing or another will make everything ok in the end?

latchkey 3 days ago 4 replies      
Not a bad post at all and it definitely hit home for me.

I'm 43 and have been doing professional development for 20 years (actually 20 years). I moved permanently to Saigon just 1.5 months ago. I'm teaching the Pivotal software engineering process (agile / extreme) to a 100 person consultancy full of really smart ~20 year olds who didn't know or understand process at all.

I keep up on all the latest tech and I have a youthful mind and body (most people think I'm in my 30's). I'm the oldest guy in the company and the only American here. This has quickly lead to a lot of personal mentoring on many levels, not just software, but life in general. The culture in Vietnam is strong and my team wants to learn from me. It is very exciting and new for all of us. It has been an amazing experience so far and I look forward to the future.

The best additional advice? Just be nice. It is so simple. The culture here is to never raise your voice or get mad in public, so I've taken it to the other extreme and I just smile and laugh a lot. Even when the servers are melting down. Viet are shy and have poor personal communication skills. By being friendly and nice, they have learned to trust me and that has opened up them up a lot. It has infected my entire team and improved moral almost over night.

Being older has a lot of advantages. I'm loving my 40's way more than my 20's. Cheers! =)

delegate 3 days ago 6 replies      
Take acid and go to crazy festivals if you want to stay young. No really, do it once at least.

You need to bathe in youth from time to time in order to experience it - it's fantastic.

Of course you need to keep up to date, try to use your wisdom to understand which technology/language is going to survive the test of time.

For example, C/C++ is going to stick around for a while; make sure you're up to date (C++ 14 and C++ 17).

Pick technologies with a steep learning curves, don't try to compete with 20-year olds doing Javascript Bootcamps - go five steps deeper.

Broaden your horizon - read poetry, listen to all kinds of new music, watch experimental movies, travel around, talk to foreigners, eat weird food.

Study physics and philosophy, psychology and economy.

Have lots of sex - your wife will love you again :)

You have kids ? Great! Learn from them - everything. Try to teach them what they study at school - see if you can figure out a better explanation. Notice how much new stuff you learn about the subject, about yourself and your kid!

We're all getting old(er) every day - as we age this process seems to accelerate - and one day we will be no more.

But inside us lives the kid, the 20-year old, the 30-year old. It's still there, it can still be crazy and fun, we just need to remember to go on a date with our younger selves. All the rest will follow.

At least that's what I'm telling myself :)

soham 3 days ago 6 replies      
Elephant in the room, IMHO, is the technical interview process.

In software engineering roles at big/desirable/fast-growing companies, the interview process favors faster (by definition, younger) minds. Both young and old are put thru the same/similar coding interviews at many of these places, and often faster coders are younger, and get the job.

You can't fix ageism without fixing the interview process. Being jovial, healthy, nice and culturally sensitive are necessary and useful things to keep your job after you join, but the gatekeeping itself is biased on the other side, which reduces the intake to a trickle.

rifung 3 days ago 9 replies      
> lets look at the average age of IT workers at well-established companies. Facebook: 28. LinkedIn: 29. Google: 30

I had an interview at Google a couple months ago and noticed that most people were pretty young. When I asked the person who was in charge of taking me to lunch about this, he said that it's probably because there are just much more graduates of CS now than there were before, and that Google would very much like to hire senior people as well but they're much harder to find.

I wonder how much of what he said is true vs ageism.

On the other hand, I wonder how much of a natural bias there is against older people if they have to go through the same interview process because it felt like a mental marathon to me. Although the interview only lasts a day it took a couple days for me to recover.

ChicagoDave 3 days ago 3 replies      
Age will matter more in a loose job market (more people than jobs). In a tight market as it is today, your skills are front and center, not your age.

That said, the OP is correct. You're only as good as your last two years and even that's pushing it. If the tech changes, you have to adapt with it.

I'm 53 as of yesterday (the 8th). I started with PDP-11's in the 80's, then VAX's, then PC's, BASIC at first, then C, then Visual Basic, then ASP, then C#/ASP.NET, and now I'm deep into AWS (Lambda, DynamoDB, Redshift), NodeJS, AngularJS 1.x/2, ReactJS, and I'm still learning new technology all the time.

A lot of developers will transition to management and it's on my mind, but I'm also still drawn to solving problems at a code level. And there's always new toys to play with like Angular and React. Now we have .NET Core and all of its interesting avenues.

If you actually care about being a good developer, you will continue to work.

As long as there are jobs. Nothing will help you if the job market contracts. Then I do believe hiring becomes age-oriented with us older dev's labeled "over-qualified".

JTenerife 4 days ago 6 replies      
Younger people are not smarter. They might learn faster new things. On the other hand, older people understand related new things much better as they already have a large context (experience). The biggest difference of my current self (44) to my younger self is that I did spend much more energy in my projects when I was younger. I created results much faster at the cost of limited consideration. Now, I can still burn for a while, but not as long as when I was younger.
ash 3 days ago 4 replies      
Article mentions "RPG" many times: "RPG back-end", "RPG developer". For those who wonder what it it (like me), it is not a "Role Playing Game", it is IBM RPG language: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_RPG
lisper 3 days ago 6 replies      
One of the things that has made me old (52) and crotchety is that I learned Lisp very early in my career. That gave me the ability to see that 99% of "new" technologies were really just poor re-inventions of (parts of) Lisp. Even today, Common Lisp -- despite (or, as some would argue, because of) the fact that it hasn't been officially updated in decades is still not only a viable language but one of the best choices for many applications. But no one knows it because it's not the shiny new thing, and even young people still can't seem to get their heads around the fact that the parens are a feature, not a bug. And that makes me grumpy sometimes.

The good part was that I was able to build a very successful career while not having to suffer nearly as much pain as many of my contemporaries. The bad part is that now it's hard to find people to collaborate with. :-(

gumby 3 days ago 1 reply      
Ageism is real in the Vally but it can cut both ways. In my current company we did a SWOT analysis and one of our advantages was "many old farts, and many former colleagues friends".

Yes, if you haven't been using AWS and GPGPUs you will be of minimal use to us but it's really valuable if you have already made a bunch of mistakes on someone else's dime. And in your 50s you're probably an empty nester, and can easily put in a 50+ hour week when necessary (which it often is, but not all the time, in a startup) and get more done in 40 hours than the squirts do in 60+.

You need a mix of ages and backgrounds. A bias to youth is as bad as a bias towards time-in-grade, or any other such bias.

johnwheeler 4 days ago 2 replies      
It makes sense to plug https://oldgeekjobs.com

I've taken a small break from working on it, so the traffic has died down some, but feel free to post your tech jobs for free for the time being.

andriesm 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm 39, ageism is real, but I'm gonna tell you to quit whining grow a pair, and what the hell is wrong with you if you cannot sell your strengths, wisdom and experience?

(BTW: just so it's clear I apply this same rule to everyone - this is the same advice I would give to any discriminated group, whether women in tech, people of color, Jewish or Asian or whatever group that find themselves on the victim side of discrimination)

Stop thinking of yourself as a victim. Be razer clear what your value is.

Almost every one will have some or other circumstance where some trait of his/her counts against himself, that is life, but these are merely speedbumps on the way, not show stoppers.

If you can't overcome bias at one specific company or in one specific country, move or do whatever YOU can do to solve it. Crying aint gonna fix it.

WalterBright 3 days ago 0 replies      
An interesting thing happened to me in college. As I progressed through it, I found I learned more complex stuff with less effort. A big part of it was I was able to see what was important to learn and not waste time on irrelevant things.

As I get older in tech, I have a similar experience. Of course, one can go too far and think everything new is irrelevant :-)

nnain 3 days ago 1 reply      
Young software developers scope out the projects (time required to develop a project) very differently from older engineers. Seems like the industry has forgotten the role of the QA engineer! With experience, you know that you need time for architecture, risk planning and putting things in production. I see younger engineers quoting 1-2 months to just about every project; just earmarking enough time need to put together some frameworks and write a basic code. Cloud technologies and new frameworks definitely do make building projects easier. But scaling up a product is still not very easy and casual usage of several new frameworks, comes back to bite very often.

I just hope people stop being so hurried about seeing the first cut of their products. That itself would fix some issues around this topic.

djedipus 3 days ago 2 replies      
I think its more about not appreciating experience enough as opposed to discriminating against age. Im 31 with 13 years professional experience. Ive worked as an employee, contractor and as a single person start-up. Last year I interviewed for ~10 jobs in SV and I was rejected for all of them. None of the jobs valued my experience enough to consider my asking salary to be worth it. I make ~$300K USD contracting and was willing to take a pay cut to ~$240K to work at a big company and for access to big problems. I found out, via a friend, that one of the jobs I missed out on was due to my asking salary. They ended up hiring a guy with much less experience for ~$120K for the position. A year later and the project failed due to lack of experience costing many millions of dollars. I wanted them to succeed and I know that I could have done it but Im not going back to $120K - at $300K customers only let you work on important stuff, no busy work. This story gets repeated over and over. There is a culture problem that doesnt value experience. Its not my problem because I'll go to where my experienced is most valued; its SVs problem because it results in failed projects and wasted money.
jrjarrett 3 days ago 0 replies      
"I have taken big cuts in salary three or four times in my career. Im talking 10-20 thousand dollars a year." - HOW can you do that? How does one justify that kind of long-term damage to ever being in a position that you don't have to work?

I understand the idea of it; to move into a technology or business with more room for growth, but if you don't have the time in your career to benefit from that growth, how can you do it?

If you're in your late 40's, early 50's, with a mortgage and/or children, or that point where you can choose not to have to work anymore is dangerously close. One badly-timed layoff, one forced pay cut and you're stuck.

Especially if you're in that age range; the last generation that ever had some hope for long-term employment with an employer, the generation that saw pension plans converted to 401Ks and didn't understand just how much you personally needed to take over funding your retirement yourself. You're dangerously close to having one badly timed layoff or large pay cut snatch the choice of not having to work away from you.

karmajunkie 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm always curious whether Zuckerberg stands behind that quote or if he looks back on it today as part of a youthful hubris he regrets today. I know if I look back on my early 20s I remember a lot of similar arrogance that I hope I've shed at least some of today.
gesman 3 days ago 0 replies      
I worked at IBM Research where one of the top experts in malware research was a 60 y/o guy wearing a big copper bell hanging on the rope and he was diving into assembly level code like a water.

Smart companies want smart solutions to tough problems.

Assuming that solution is coming from certain audience, like age/race/gender based is a recipe to failure.

Smart companies are after smart people. Who cares about anything else.

toolslive 3 days ago 0 replies      
about the value of experience, I had it explained to me like this:

 If you see a toddler running after a ball that rolls under a coffee table, bending over to go under the table and to pick up the ball... You know what's going to happen next. That's experience. There are just different balls and coffee tables.

mxuribe 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a 42 year old technologist who just got laid off last week, and very much dread age discrimination. Although I'm told that I look about 8 or 10 years younger than I look, it still scares me. And, funny enough I'm about as energetic - or very close to it - as I was when I was 22. Beyond all the great notes that the blog post's author wrote, I think the parts about "exude energy...its crucial to be spirited." really hit home with me. Especially now with my current situation, i appreciate this blog post!
dwarman 1 day ago 0 replies      
Existence proof. Can avoid ageism. But likely only via competence, creativity, and rep.

I've been lucky, I guess.I would add to continuous learning: continuous invention. New stuff in the world, not just new to you. In my case, almost entirely unplanned drunkard's walk of a career that I don't recommend anyone emulates, but it sure has been a wild ride.

I'm 69 last month. Started 50 years ago inside discrete component technology mainframes. Done hardware logic design, firewire and Medialink FPGA, datacomms Hard Real Time embedded firmware, synchronous and asynchronous comms protocol design, real time networking design in the Music world (before anybody thought it possible, we showed em!:), created cool 4G visual programming languages, lately Audio DSP inside gaming consoles.

Moral: Keep inventing, keeps you young, moreso than just leaning new stuff you won't be using until it is obsolete. A wide T LI profile doesn't hurt either. But that is not an after-thought, it's a side effect of your lifetime of energy and obsessions.

Vaguely thinking of retiring when I'm 72 or so. Want to make more music, DSP takes too much time.

sleepingeights 3 days ago 0 replies      
"You know what they do with engineers when they turn forty? They take them out and shoot them." - Primer (2004)

One of the biggest killers of sedentary professions is heart disease, which is the number one killer in the US. People who work at Microsoft have told me they give free soda, sugared "juices" with artificial flavors, coffees and teas for free to their employees. These all are sources of heart disease, but the young engineers drink it up like a lost caravan in the desert. It's likely not that different in any of the other areas as well.

The cost for ailments such as heart disease is known to be one of the most expensive in the US. It requires extensive testing, support, medications and visits to the doctors and hospitals. Considering the extremely high health care costs the US enforces, this places a huge dent on insurance premiums companies pay as well as accommodation, etc.

These companies want them out before they have to pay more premiums on health-care and other factors related to health, age, seniority, etc...

andrewclunn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Get a job in an industry that uses tech, but isn't itself pure tech (healthcare IT for example). Then your years of domain experience matter.
ldev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Umh... http://www.kettlerusa.com/?fullSite=&cartId=&division=kettle...

The design. The url. Clicked "add to card" - default JS alert popup. Then some HTML pop up showed up saying something about my IP being banned because of BOTNET? What? Now refreshing the page I get a timeout.

This is literally the worst eshop I've seen in the past few years. I wouldn't hire a man who made this atrocity and sure as hell wouldn't like working with him.

timemachiner 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'll probably be ~36 by the time I complete a PhD in CS. Should I be OK in terms of finding jobs at hip companies upon graduation (big 4, etc)? My areas of interest is in ML, algorithms but I'm completely OK with normal software development positions.

Reason I'm older is I decided I had a passion for it in my late 20s / wanted to do research, but had to go back to school to take classes before enrolling into a PhD. Hope my age + PhD wouldn't hinder me for software development jobs?

zoom6628 2 days ago 0 replies      
Im closing in on 54. Having an absolute blast in tech now because i bring 4 decades of coding, life, and a number of different jobs to what i do today. And I devote every morning first thing to reading and learning something new - python, azure databases, IPC in C#, C and SBCs, ZigBee. There is so much out there at a price point that makes learning painless and fun.

In life i stay healthy as a vegetarian and practice yoga. Look after the body and the mind will largely follow suit but feed the mind with challenges daily and you will notice that you get better over time at a rate the javascript kiddies cant comprehend.

Maybe this ageism is jealousy from the kiddies because you think leagues ahead of them, and also jealousy from old managers who cant do anything productive now that their body of knowledge is no longer useful? Food for thought, for someone. I wont be wasting any time to think about it.

eanzenberg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes! The most important thing I learned in academia is to never stop learning and to always push yourself to never get stale. Learning doesn't stop at high school, college or grad school.
desireco42 3 days ago 1 reply      
Related to fitness. I never went to the gym. However I was working on fitness related site for some years and as a lead there, I wanted to be reflection of this site I cared much about. So I did what I like, walk and running up the stairs.

Whenever there are stairs, I would run up them. Now, again I am not super fit, but I don't lose breath, everyone else kind of does. This gives me great pleasure.

I am older developer, it is getting hard, I will not lie. But, I am on top of latest technologies, enjoy my work, I am pain in the but.

lliamander 3 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW, I'm still on the earlier side of my career (though certainly not just starting out) and the direction of my learning has been away from fads and towards older, more established technologies. Erlang, Unix, etc. have all been around for many years, and while they do receive active development are still pretty well established and based off of sound engineering principles.

I also try and get beyond the hype. REST/HATEOS is cool? What about the things it replaced? What are the edge cases? What was the original design intent?

I also read from/talk with older engineers (many of whom I have the privilege to work with) to understand what things were like during previous fads.

Ultimately, the problem is about staying marketable while giving fair due to our life outside of work (I prefer the term "unpaid responsibilities" to "leisure time"). I don't claim to have solved this problem, and I still have concerns about what the future holds, but my instinct is that staying on top of fads is a trap that I want to avoid.

ThomaszKrueger 3 days ago 0 replies      
54 yo here. Although I have a bachelor's in EE, I have been developing software since the beginning of my career. I am not necessarily nostalgic but I sometimes ponder about the real time assembly I wrote for a Telex switch, or the CHILL code I wrote for a telephony switch. All of it pretty much gone, not being produced anymore. Or the Windows 2 GUI written in C, the multi tier apps in VB6 and Powerbuilder. They are gone too.

However having participated in these projects give me a lot of perspective, and I notice that nowadays I tend to write less and be more thoughtful. I see others here with similar experiences.

Now as for getting old, there is one thing I recommend: get old but never allow yourself to look decrepit. Be always clean, well dressed. Don't complain about your back hurting, or show off the medicines you take. No one likes to be around sickness or weakness, so pretend to be healthy and strong (or try to be, even better). I aim for this reaction - "that guy looks good for his age". This usually helps with ageism, at least in my experience.

sh_tinh_hair 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yes,there is ageism but there is also some remnant of meritocracy in IT development and operations (though both the evolution of devops and enterprise agile + ci/cd tool culture will eventually kill that imo).

The only way to remain in the IT game at the age of 45+ is to learn constantly and use your aggregate experience to determine what is good and bad and necessary. When most of the 20+ year IT veterans are in set piece environments they enabled or abetted...technological advent and invention is the enemy.

All the musings on how great a person you really are contra|outside tech are band-aids on reality. If you make your living in technology: be better than the other guy or be useful to them. That's all there is. Otherwise your days are numbered.

We can ramble on about salad days and personal achievement but the younger guys snicker and say 'listen to this fossil' and do their thing. As you would have in their shoes.

markmckelvy 3 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who transitioned to tech from finance, I can tell you that this trend (preferring young workers to old) is not limited to tech. The fact is companies in general are going to prefer younger people for labor. Younger people are cheaper, tend to have fewer obligations outside of work, and are willing to put up with more on the job.

As someone getting older and more experienced, you can take this one of two ways. (i) You can try to "learn new tech" and "stay up to date" in an effort to compete with these younger workers or (ii) you can actually listen to the market. And what is the market telling you? Yes, younger workers are more valuable for the aforementioned reasons. But it's also telling you that by the time you are 40 or 50, you should be implementing your own ideas, not someone else's.

solatic 3 days ago 3 replies      
There's a reason why ageism exists in the industry and it isn't because of some undeserved stereotype about old dogs not being able to learn new tricks.

1) Most business-critical projects have long lifetimes. There's a reason why banks are still running COBOL and mainframes, and why Java's continued promise of backward compatibility with every new release is so valuable to companies.

2) Maintaining legacy systems is a bitch. Nobody likes maintaining legacy systems.

3) Therefore no employer wants to hire somebody who writes code which almost immediately turns into legacy code, either because it's not tested, or not written using modern language features designed to make the language safer, etc.

4) Learning to write code in a modern fashion requires continued education.

5) Employers will not budget or pay for this continued education in a no-compete-clauses-are-illegal environment where smart employees will take the training and run to another employer willing to pay for the benefit of another employer which already put in the legwork of investing in that employee.

6) Employees therefore need to spend significant time educating themselves on their own time. This is great for the minority who are computer geeks who treat it as a hobby and it's terrible for everyone else.

7) Most people will not spend personal time educating themselves, because they prefer to invest that time in friends and family. This is all the more true, not less true, after one's children are grown.

8) Therefore they slowly become unemployable as their skill set turns obsolete.

9) Therefore employers have a hard time finding older people who do have that combination of a modern skill set and decades of general industry experience. And it's for the same reason it was difficult to hire any programmers at all in the 90's, because the competent labor pool (then in general and now in the older age group) is basically limited to computer geeks.

10) Continued interviews of older people who did not bother to keep their skill set modern and honed creates a stereotype that old people aren't "smart".

It's not a problem that some Chief Diversity Officer at some Big Four company can solve, because they're either going to literally fight human nature (people desiring quality time with their families) or they're going to adapt an affirmative action policy that'll only make the problem worse, as prefer-false-negative hiring policies set up to protect codebases from incompetence get overturned for what's essentially a political reason, breeding resentment.

pfarnsworth 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, if the author is almost 60, it probably won't matter which career he's in, he would likely suffer from some sort of ageism. It doesn't matter if you're a programmer, or in finance, or working at Costco, if you're getting close to 60, most people will be skeptical as to whether you can really work as well as a 25 year old.
wobbleblob 3 days ago 1 reply      
Oh cool, he made a webshop with an RPG backend. I last did that about 15 years ago, it looked just as awful, and just like him, I was so proud of my achievement at the time, that I couldn't see what an abomination it really was. It's a pity, that customer deserved better.

I totally believe age discrimination is real, and the Corgibytes author hits the nail on the head with:

> Only as Good as Your Last Two Years of Accomplishments

> Kent Beck has suggested that, with consistent use of pair programming, the capabilities of programmers dont differ much after two years of experience.

Experience in our field rots away at an amazing rate. I don't think it's as short as 2 years, but if you're still regularly using techniques you mastered 10+ years ago, you're probably falling behind. I don't think lawyers, doctors or stock brokers have this problem.

vorg 2 days ago 0 replies      
> between 2008 and 2010, I was training Java developers at Circuit City on Groovy and Grails. These folk were mostly late 20s and early 30s, and they were just fine sticking with good-old, write-everything-yourself, dont-bother-with-frameworks, Java.

You're assuming Groovy and Grails are better to code in than Java and something like Spring. Grails began as a thin wrapper around Spring. Its business purpose was to chisel market share away from vanilla Spring so its backing company (G2One) would get bought by SpringSource, which eventually happened in late 2008.

paulsutter 3 days ago 4 replies      
Elon Musk is 45. Does that make him old? Doesn't seem to slow him down.

edit: just saying limits seem artificial, that's all

orionblastar 3 days ago 0 replies      
Getting older in tech, most of the stuff I learned is obsolete:http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/184668/readers_throw...

I'm a legacy software, retrocomputing expert now I guess?

Most of the old commercial software has released free and open source versions of itself or someone wrote a FOSS clone or whatever to do the same things.

I am 48 years old now, getting close to 50 in two years, and can apply for AARP and get better health insurance through them.

I ended up on disability, but been trying to learn new things and keep up with trends and patterns in the industry.

bungie4 3 days ago 0 replies      
While I believe their ageism in tech. So what. I'm 56, I've been programming professionally for 30+ years. Code is still code. Theirs not much new under the sun at a core level.

Consider this, many thousands of lives depend on my ability to write good, maintainable code everyday. I do Alarms, Telematics and 911 Systems.

So ageism. ya, it exists. But for every 50 year old coder, theirs 150 under 30 in the business. Its just the way it is. But I know, if I was in the hiring end of the game, I'd drop my dime on the old fart whose got a ton of REAL WORLD experience over some freshly minted grad every day of the week.

mixmastamyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's good advice to keep up to date and in shape, and always have, but unfortunately even that is often not sufficient.

Lately potential employers have been expressing surprise that I never went into management. I enjoy developing so was never interested---until I encountered a few truly incompetent bosses in the last few years and rethought my position. So I've read all the classics, such as MMM, Peopleware, etc... but found it is too late to be hired as a manager when you've never managed anyone.

blauditore 3 days ago 0 replies      
Out of the software devevelopers I know, only a few percent are 40+, so my sample set isn't very reliable. But from what I've seen, the average (or at least median) skill set was better for younger people, where the best ones I've met are in their 30s.

My assumption is that there has been a point where software/CS started booming and people started getting degrees in that field. Among the 40+ devs I know there's a higher percentage of carreer changers, and with a few exceptions those have been generally less skilled.

uhtred 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the strongest team members at my workplace, super smart, asks more questions than anyone else, thinks of the stuff the younger guys don't, basically would always want him on my team as he gets stuff done, is an older guy. I think he's prob in his mid 50s. (to be clear, I don't actually think mid 50s is old, but society sometimes suggests it is)
Icedcool 3 days ago 0 replies      
32yr old here. This is interesting to me, coming from times of 28kbps internet where the dude with a huge beard was a tech god.

Reading this and reading the posts, I'm aware of what occurs to be a trade off in young/age, in that young can be cutting edge while old tends to have wisdom/smarter about approach/worldlyness.

Seems shortsighted to think that young is better.

LargeCompanies 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's ok to get older in the tech industry as a whole just not in spaces like are Silly Valley and or places that are trying to be such and draw that crowd.

The best place in tech for older is a govt. job where age skewers older and you may even be a minority amongst your fellow laid back/no drama, hard working Indian co-workers. The pay is more then good too!

bluetwo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read a study in the 90's comparing more experienced and less experiences multimedia programmers given identical tasks. In short, it concluded that the more experienced ones took longer to do the tasks, but did them to a higher level of quality.

That has always rung true to me, and I see that happening today.

JustSomeNobody 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the industry you choose matters. I have done work in the Medical and Transportation industries and the devs there seem to be older. I tend to gravitate towards development where the code simply has to work correctly. This means proven technologies are used as opposed to the new and shiny.
Brian_Bassett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Fantastic article. I am lucky enough to work with Don and he is amazing. Probably one of the most simultaneously brave and curious people I've ever met.
gbencke 3 days ago 0 replies      
I get inspired by the japanese Shokunin work ethics, it is well described on the Jiro Dreams of Sushi movie, a explanation can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q78xvcnmIMw
losteverything 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Uncle, What do you think."

It's tech.this age thing.

Forced out of tech by invention/adoption of cell phone age is worshiped in my jobs today. Like Indians calling seniors "uncle" to show respect.

Age is my shield, my platform, my integrity and my perceived knowledge.

It's tech

sparrish 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've found out how to sidestep agism - work for yourself. Build it in whatever 'old' language you want, bring value, and profit.

Now I get to sit on the porch and yell at the youngin's "Get off my lawn!"

ForHackernews 3 days ago 0 replies      
> After years of scoffing at talk of prejudice in the information technology field...

It seems kind of ridiculous that white men won't believe in hiring prejudice/discrimination until it directly affects them.

JumpCrisscross 3 days ago 0 replies      
This cuts both ways. As a young founder and manager, I must be extremely conscious of hiding my age. Without knowing the number, my team is fine. Once they know all hell breaks loose, at least for a while.
qznc 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Im only as good as what Ive accomplished in the last two years

This implies no more salary increases after two years?

metafunctor 3 days ago 1 reply      
It just struck me that Zuckerberg is starting to get too old for himself.
oliv__ 3 days ago 0 replies      
Life is ageist.
known 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great post; You should focus more on Consulting jobs;
JakeAl 3 days ago 0 replies      
My advice to all is to keep an eye on the ball and understand where you are and where you expect to be every five years and have a plan. If you plan on being just an expert or individual contributor when you are 40 or 50, then expect to have to compete with those in their 20s. Not too easy when a 25 year old has fewer responsibilities at home (like teen-aged children) and can spend their spare time learning the latest fringe technology to make it more mainstream. Also not too easy to fit in culturally unless you have the developmental maturity of a 25 year old. (See my note about The Stakes at the bottom.) Adults with no responsibilities can drop acid and go to Burning Man without consequences. Responsible adults cannot without the risks they take impacting others. (in response to a poster's comment) That's what separates the men from the boys, to coin a phrase. No offense to ladies or others.

What I am not hearing in all of these discussions is talk of developing leadership fundamentals. They apply not just to one's job/career but to the individual and all aspects of their life.

There's 5 levels of leadership:

I. Individual Contributor Self-leadership. Responsible for producing work and getting along with others.

II. Expert/ManagerExpertBest at what they do. Work on more complex projects. Display a special talent. Design a plan for new products. Further develop their craft. Innovate on projects. Demonstrate readiness to tackle more challenges

ManagerManagers are tactical, focus on the short term.Lead individual contributors and experts. Develop staff. Focus is on improving upon weaknesses necessary to succeed at being more than an individual contributor or expert. Navigate organizational structures. Maximize talent of team. Think strategically about how team contributes to organization goals.

III. Leader of LeadersLeaders are strategic, focus on the long term. Focus shifts to training level IIs on their managing weaknesses. Training and developing (mentoring) experts and managers. Role is critical to the success of an organization. Poor managers have a huge and damaging impact because they leave high turnover and disengagement as well as low morale and productivity in their wake.Refined communication skills up and down the organization, acting as a reliable conduit for information to flow up and down. Develop business acumen. Develop organizational strategy. Develop new leadership opportunities.

IV. Leader of Functions/DivisionsMaximize the contributions of all groups within the function/division. Strategize the development of the function for the future of the whole organization. Builds a competitive strategy. Ensures long term growth. Mentor and engage direct reports. Build key relationships outside organization. Deepen their intimate knowledge of other functions. Attune to industry and market shaping factors (sector acumen).

V. Leader of OrganizationManages all functional leaders. Sets the vision and strategy. Ensures future success.CEO Build a team of differing strengths. Empower functional/division leaders. Create a motivating culture. Share the vision of the future. Position to be at front of trends.

As you move up 3 things change:- Scope of your view- The Stakes/impact of your decisions- Proportion of management and leadership

What skills do you need to maximize your potential?What skills do you need to develop for the next level?

Leveling up is growing up. If you don't like or want to be a manager or leader, figure out why not, starting with understanding your emotions and managing your stress and anxiety. This is usually what stifles one's development.

blacktulip 3 days ago 3 replies      
flavor8 3 days ago 2 replies      
sean_patel 4 days ago 12 replies      
My Pixel has a manufacturing defect 9to5google.com
539 points by ivank  2 days ago   343 comments top 56
ssijak 2 days ago 8 replies      
Google support and customer relationship is horrible.One day I enabled Youtube partnership out of curiosity (it was enabled for my country so I enabled it than on my account to see what it is about). Few days later I tried to login to my adsense account only to find it disabled! Problem is I have never enabled adsense on any website, I do not have or post youtube videos, or have done anything to violate the terms.

I am paying customer of gsuit, gcloud, google music, adwords, etc. I first tried with adsense complaint form, there are 2 of them, one if your account is disabled for invalid activity and one if you violated policies. I tried with invalid activity form because that is what my adsense login page says why my account is banned (evene when I do not have adsense enabled anywhere), but I get automated answer every time that the account is not disabled for invalid activity but for policy reasons and that is that. When I try the policy form, it sends automated answer that the account is disabled for invalid activity and that they can not investigate further...

Because I am paying customer of gsuit I tried support there. Guy from support tried for almost a week to get any human support from google regarding my case and he could not!!! Imagine that, support guy for a paying customer could not get help from inside his own company. That is such a fail for Google. He directed me in the end to the Youtube team to appeal there and wished me good luck.

Google must do something about it, this customer relationship is so bad. Why would I continue to pay for their other services if I can expect that they can ban me from them for no reason and without explanation or support?!

rfrey 2 days ago 11 replies      
If Google wants to charge Apple iPhone prices, they can't continue with Google level service.
X86BSD 2 days ago 5 replies      
First google is no apple. Don't expect that level of service. They simply don't care.

Second it's not just with their new phone the pixel they support poorly. Try having problems with google fiber. The stories of them taking a year and a half or over two years to deploy fiber 400 feet or to a house next to a house with it or an apartment already wired for it is insane. I don't think they have they really care about supporting their services or products. They just want you use them so they can monitize your data. Beyond that they aren't interested and it shows.

Their core soul is how to make money off data. That's it. Making the pixel was just another finger to capture more data. Android is a tire fire IMO. Google fiber is fast but pray nothing goes wrong. Any of their other services and you're pretty much on your own. I don't think google deserves to be anywhere as large as it is. But time will tell if they are able to stay relevant.

Lazare 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's a persistent story: Google reliably has the worst customer support of any large company, to the point that Comcast or your local DMV starts to look good in comparison. It's impressive, in its own way.

And as long as their consumer facing products were things like free webapps, they could get away with it.

...but if they want to sell a premium-priced handset, they can't get away with it. It's a USD$750 phone, come on. Telling the user that it's probably just a non-existent screen protector?

shakna 2 days ago 5 replies      
Waiting to see when this crops up here, and how it'll fly considering Consumer Rights [0]. It falls into minor, so Google will have to:

* free repair, (with a repair notice describing the fault)

* replacement (must be the same condition as the purchase, so no second hand!)

* refund (the same amount you have already paid, provided in the same form as your original payment.)

And of course, the kicker:

> You are entitled to return a product if you believe that there is a problem.

And the business you purchased from has to foot the costs of said return.

All of these things are things Google has tried very hard to avoid, but they're selling the Pixel here, so they have to play by the consumer-oriented laws.

It'd be interesting.

[0] https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees...

csallen 2 days ago 2 replies      
As a counter data point, my Pixel XL's speakers started malfunctioning about 3 weeks after I bought it. I called customer support, waited on hold for about 10 minutes, went through a series of debugging steps with the guy on the phone ("Have you tried restarting the device?"), and then they shipped me a replacement for free.

Also important to realize that the denominator matters. Seeing a murder on TV every day doesn't necessarily mean that the world is in chaos. And seeing a couple of anecdotes about an issue doesn't necessarily mean it's widespread.

That said, if I were the OP I'd be pissed and blogging about it, too.

joecool1029 2 days ago 2 replies      
Would love to hear if someone actually has had a positive support experience with Google.

My company has faced a bug in their location dashboard for over a year. We support local businesses and often get asked to update their Google business details. We're unable to delegate location dashboard access inside our Apps domain. My partner can send the invite to any gmail account, but can't send access to me inside the company. I can't even access my own company's panel through my paid Apps account.

We've had calls, emails, sent tweets. Repeatedly asked for supervisors or for the issue to be forwarded to an engineer. The typical response is to get blamed or deal with support confusion in India over what we're trying to achieve.

The end result of 'partner' support? They gave a 2 hour notice over a major rebrand to GSuite. The only way they could do it better is send us a postcard simply saying 'FUCK YOU!', and in smallprint 'but thanks for your money and information'. As said in other threads on this topic, Comcast offers better support. That's telling.

kutkloon7 2 days ago 5 replies      
Sorry for my pessimistic views, but I think big companies always have had the power to screw over anyone they want. This is especially the case in the US, where it seems to be quite accepted for companies to screw you over. Almost all countries lack an easy option for non-billionaires to take action against big companies. If you go to court, they will deliberately make the costs too high to pay for normal people, and even when the company is wrong, they will usually win the case. In the best case scenario, they will settle, and you become rich by being screwed over.
lgeek 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not saying that he's necessarily dropped it or that it's okay for the CS rep to have accused him of that, but my 4+ year old Galaxy S3 has the same sort of bubbles in two corners on which it has been dropped so I get why that was the first question asked.
stryk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anecdotal of course, but my one and only interaction with Google support was a positive experience. This was on the retail hardware side rather than in software/services (IDK if there are different support depts., I would assume so). I bought one of the v2 Chromecasts direct from Google Store when they came out. FedEx delivered it to the wrong address. Called support (which was, to my surprise, easy to find an actual phone number for, and I was speaking to an actual human being. Probably because this was 'retail' related), and after 1 phone conversation and 2 email exchanges he filed a case with FedEx - which required no involvement from me - and i was sent a replacement free of charge. About a week later my across-the-street neighbor knocks on my door and gives me a FedEx package with my name and address on it, it was the Chromecast. Turns out the FedEx delivery driver mistakenly delivered it to his house, which has only a 1-digit difference in Address. Honest mistake, it happens. I e-mail the support guy I talked with before -- to my surprise again, this was a direct e-mail address of his, not a randomly generated 'post only' email, so he actually responded. I explained the situation, and asked where I should ship the replacement one they sent back to. They tell me to just keep it and do whatever I want with it (the guy even specifically said "give it away, sell it on eBay, do whatever"). Granted, it's only a $35 device, and it likely costs Google far less than that, but still - I did appreciate it, and my sister does as well because she got a free Chromecast.
funnyfacts365 2 days ago 3 replies      
And now, after the PR shitstorm for reaching HN's frontpage, all will be solved in a couple hours...
dangero 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is something I cannot understand about Google and I think definitely needs to change. Here's the absolutely great thing about customer support that Google hasn't grasped yet: You let your customers talk to you and in turn you get the chance to remedy their problems and allow them to love your brand more. If you're getting a lot of support calls then you can know customers want something fixed and aren't happy. It's a feedback loop that in the end strengthens your brand. Apple has proven this. Since Google has the money, I cannot understand why they don't get this.
imchillyb 2 days ago 5 replies      
That phone was dropped.

Deep scratches are clearly visible, as are bits of concrete or asphalt that are embedded between the glass and the bezel.

The coloration of the plastic bezel is changed where a /buff-job/ was done in an attempt to remove said scratches.

That is a human error problem, not a manufacturer defect issue. I hope they take you to task for lying so blatantly and attempting to stir up trouble. If you've damaged their brand, I certainly hope they sue you for libel.


In case OP deletes the original pictures:



eganist 2 days ago 2 replies      
If Google won't repair a manufacturing defect, consider a chargeback (assuming you bought it from Google).

Services like American Express have purchase protection, but the limits I believe won't be enough to cover the Pixel. If you were sold a lemon and Google won't hash it out, go ahead and let the card company fight that battle for you.

If enough people start doing this, you can bet Google will double down on customer service as proper cost avoidance.

e40 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's not the first bad story of Pixel support I've ready, and for the money you have to pay for a Pixel, I think it's a deal killer for me.

I will say that I had my Nexus 5 replaced twice, the last time was on the last possible day of the year warranty (I didn't realize it until the guy told me I'd called a few hours before my support ran out).

Both times I got a new unit (refurb that was like new?) sent to me, before I sent my 5 back. Once I got the new 5, I boxed up and send the old one back. I would have had to pay for the new phone had I not returned it after 30 days.

My question: why don't they do this with the Pixel? Was this part of the Nexus support plan?

daveheq 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't know how many times I've heard of people going to Apple for a defect or problem and Apple will just switch the phone out; it doesn't cost them much to fix it and resell it. Google on the other hand still seems like amateurs that are treating their products like experiments, not professional products people rely on. Until they realize they need to put customer satisfaction first, they're going to keep stumbling and pulling us through this small-time garbage they think is good enough for their products and customers.
kbd 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is one of the most practical reasons why I always intend to own an iPhone. If I have a problem I can walk down to the Apple store in my local mall and get it fixed.

Recently, the battery in my old iPhone 5 was starting to swell. I got it replaced in a few hours. If I had an Android phone, I have no idea the hoops I'd have to go through.

A cell phone is an essential at this point and it's not worth using any brand but the most reliable and easy-to-get-fixed.

dbg31415 2 days ago 0 replies      
Friend I work with has this same problem. Will pass this on and ask him to post pictures here. His phone is white, bubble is smaller and harder to notice but you can see it if you tilt the screen just right.

He was complaining the other day because he took it back to where he bought it and they told him that he must have dropped it -- similar story -- and so they wouldn't let him exchange it.

jdavis703 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have to add an anecdotal counter point to the Google support is so terrible line.

My Nexus 6P had a screen defect (couldn't detect touches anymore). I called support and 20 minutes later they were shipping me a new phone and a box to send in my damaged phone.

I also had to contact them for support on their DFP product. Received an email back a couple of hours later with a detailed explanation of what was happening that answered all my questions.

Maybe I'm just an outlier, or maybe people don't write about their good support experiences.

bluedino 2 days ago 1 reply      
Take it to some store I've never heard of? This is why I will only buy a phone from a brick and motar, or online from a place with a brick and mortar presence (Apple, Verizon, Best Buy)
andr 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is certainly an area where tech companies can learn from retail. You've probably heard of the Nordstrom employee who allowed a customer to return a Bloomingdale's purchase. And it's no isolated accident - stores, hotels and other experience-oriented businesses give their employees a per-incident budget to make things right for the customer, even if it's entirely the customer's fault.

It's another question how to do that at scale and over the internet.

sergiotapia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just like everything related to Google their support sucks ass. It's why I won't use their new Domain registration service, why would I pay money to hop through automated support hoops.

They are automated to a fault, and people still fall for it.

warrenmiller 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Pixel also has a major camera problem: https://productforums.google.com/forum/m/?utm_medium=email&u...
ohyoutravel 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is pretty disturbing. I have a nexus 5x on Fi and would love a Pixel, but because of stories by this I haven't upgraded. Since I'm on Fi, I'm kind of stuck with Google phones unless I switch. But Fi is too friendly for international travel and data rates, and it's cheap generally.
WhitneyLand 2 days ago 0 replies      
The "easy" part of great support is top down commitment, and investing good money. The hard part is spending it optimally so it produces real value.

For example, do Google call center reps make $20/hr like Apple reps or close to minimum wage? Hire a little less, and pay a little more to avoid cable company quality.

How to make do with less reps? Use a fantastically convenient online system and drive people to it. Use machine learning to detect when a ticket should be immediately escalated to a real supervisor, or actually to an exec or the product team.

Constant social media scan and preemptively open tickets or escalate based on content.

All reps required to maintain a satisfaction review score of >= x. This rule would require empowering them to make good faith decisions as in case above.

donretag 2 days ago 1 reply      
"but in fact had never taken the plastic screen protector off of the display when I received the device"

Notwithstanding the awful condescending tone from the CS rep, I once did actually have this issue.

I purchased a cheap smart phone for an around the world trip since my CDMA/Sprint phone would not work overseas. I knew that the camera would not be iphone quality, but I felt that the images (8MP) could have been better. A couple of weeks into my trip, I discovered the thin plastic protector on the lens. Images were much better after it was removed!

annerajb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Scary This days i rather pay a good premium if it has better support.

On the good side my Nexus 5x broke 1 week before it's 1 year warranty expired. Apart from the hassle of them not shipping replacement to Puerto Rico they sent me a 1 day replacement. After forwarding from Florida to Puerto Rico +4days. it was a brand new phone and didn't give me any troubleI did have to spent like 5 days without phone while I did their troubleshooting steps.

I missed the days I had sprint where I would just go to the store and be out with a phone in a few hours.

sathackr 2 days ago 0 replies      
My droid Turbo 2 (with the 'indestructable' screen) is doing the same thing.

I thought it was a defect, but I had to replace the phone for a different reason(went swimming with it) and the new replacement is doing the same thing. It seems like the top layer of the screen is not adhering well.

I can make it go away for a couple of weeks by just pressing it back on with a fingernail and a good bit of pressure. Verizon told me to call Motorola, but I haven't bothered yet.

alkonaut 2 days ago 0 replies      
Compare this to buying a Samsung TV (exactly the same product only the screen is larger) - they answer the phone right away and are at your house with a friendly service guy in 1-2days.

They should obviously just take the phone and give him a replacement. If they saw obvious signs he dropped it they could just send him the bill.

This is a premium product (on the sticker). The service doesn't feel premium.

brador 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some tablets also have this issue.

We had it with the Iconia W700p tablet line from Acer. Bubbles form at random under the digitizer (months to years, single small bubble to multiple large bubbles). They move when heat is applied and over time, hinting that it's a digitizer glue issue as the product produces heat it is not capable of handling.

sickbeard 2 days ago 0 replies      
Customer service people aren't experts (even the higher level ones). They have scripts, list of defects and how to help you resolve them. This "bubble" is obviously something they have never seen before, unless a 1% of the phones start having this issue they will just blame you for it.
npstr 2 days ago 2 replies      
My experience with Google Customer Support in Germany:

I had a Nexus 5 with a broken dispaly (my fault), that also at one point after about 1 year and 9 months of usage got that nasty sticky on/off-button issue where it would be stuck in a bootloop with no means of me accessing it. The broken on/off-button is clearly a manufactoring defect. German laws demand that all stuff has to work properly for at least 2 years, if used correctly by the user.

So when I phoned Google about fixing that button I also mentioned that I had a crack in the display, but the display was working perfectly fine, and what I want them to fix is obviously only the button that's been a big issue on the internet and not related to the display crack, and not fix the display. Google then proceeded to tell me, that their warranty would not cover that, I need first to get the display fixed on my own cost, before they would fix the button (which they admitted is definitely a manufacturing defect).This is absurd. Here's a shitty analogy: Imagine you buy a toaster, and it's button stops working. You also made a minor scratch on it's hull. So the company making the toaster refuses to fix it's button unless you fix that scratch first. Ridiculous.

German legal stuff: In Germany, you have two choices when your product shows a manufacturing defect before the two years are over: Demand a brand new product, or a demand a repair from the dealer (not the manufactorer, thank god I bought my nexus at the play store and not at some shitty dealer). If two repairs don't fix your product or the dealer declines to fix/give you a new product you may demand the (usually) full price back.

Let's call this German 2-year-protection the legal warranty. There is some minor stuff involved about proving that it actually is a manufacturer defect (first half year the dealer has to prove it isn't, last one and a half years you have to prove that it is), but this wasn't an issue as Google had already confirmed to me that it indeed is a manufacturers defect, which I had asked them to confirm me in an email. Some dealers may try to trick you demanding expensive 3rd party surveys of the problem during that second phase where you have to prove it, thus scaring many customers away from executing their rights. Sadly this works in many cases, while the only 'proof' you would actually need is to say that you always used the device to its specifications, an expensive 3rd survey is just overkill.

So, what Google does is, they offer an additional, voluntary guarantee (I'm gonna call it like this because in German it is called "Garantie", while it usually in English is called warranty, to differentiate from the legal warranty which we call "Gewhrleistung"). That's that little booklet that you usually find in the original package of your phone saying something along the lines of 'warranty for some stuff, but not water damage and not broken displays'.German laws say that additional, voluntary guarantees like this are super awesome and totally allowed and stuff but they may never touch any rights that you have from that legal two-year-warranty.

So, Googles process of executing their additional guarantee is usually that they immediately send you a brand new/refurbished phone, while you have a couple of weeks to send them your old one. They require you to provide a credit card, and it will be charged full price of a new phone if you don't send your old one in/it happens to not fulfill their requirements for their additional guarantee (this is pretty brash imo btw, personally I used an empty prepaid credit card in case they were going to bitch about my phone when I finally was allowed to send it in).

Note that they do not have implemented a process to handle repairs. You will always get a different, brand new/refurbished phone than your old one. And this is where they clash with German law. While I theoretically could be a bitch and demand them to repair my specific device, and get the full price back because they wouldn't be able to, I did not. I said I'm willing to adapt to their existing processes, and allow them to send me that brand new/refurbished phone instead of doing a prefered repair.This conveniently would also mean I get a crack free display as a result of the process. But that is not my fault. I'd have been happy to have only the button repaired, but it's entirely Google fault that this was not possible.

So, the clerks at the phone were trying to keep me from sending that phone in, because Google doesn't want to eat all these probably very frequent display damages, while it is their own fault that they do. Also not a single of the phone clerks I reached (3 calls in total over several weeks) did knew of that legal two-year warranty, they were always refusing to give me a retour label or even an address to manually send the phone in referencing their additional guarantee that does not cover display damage (which, again, I was always emphasizing, was not what I wanted to be repaired). All of them admitted that they had not been taught about the German law of legal warranty, not even the supervisors.

So what I did is I set up a registered letter citing all the paragraphs by which I demanded a repair, or if not possible a new device, or if not possible my money back. Weeks of phoning did nothing, but two days after sending the letter I had that retour label without further comment in my inbox and everything went smoothly after that (with additional precaution of mine using an empty prepaid card; pretty sure that practice of Google is illegal by German laws too, but I had my low effort work around).

This happened during the fall of 2015. Refurbished phone is working alright. Additional benefit for the customer of getting a new device instead of a repair: your legal two-year warranty is reset.

novaleaf 2 days ago 0 replies      
To contrast, here's my experience with the Moto G4 I bought from Amazon:

1) Ordered a G4, free 2 day delivery, see that occasionally when it gets hot, it freaks out and registers false taps. RMA'd to amazon. RMA'd to amazon and a replacement arrived in about 2 days.

2) Replacement G4 spontanously reboots every day or two. RMA'd to Amazon and a replacement arrived in about 2 days.

3) New replacement works fine.

I'm honestly a little worried about the fact that the first two devices had defects (they arn't supposed to be refurbished or anything), but given a 1 year warranty and ease of RMA, I'm still a pretty happy customer

ak217 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be fair, I've had the opposite experience with Google Play Store support for my Nexus 5. I'm on my 4th Nexus 5 chassis, the previous 3 were taken back by Google (one broken glass, one sticky power button, and one water intrusion taken back due to a one time courtesy replacement policy). I don't feel great nor terrible about the phone, but clearly Google has spent substantial resources supporting my purchase. My phone calls with them were always very fast and to the point. (Their new hardware division in charge of Pixel may be doing things differently though.)
JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 2 replies      
My friends Grandpa (I know, hearsay) couldn't wear a regular watch, because the innards would become green goo in a couple of weeks and the watch would be ruined. So some people may just be out of luck on this one.
cybernytrix 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems to be cultural at Google. Apart from this, there are many instances that I've been hit by their "we know best, just deal with it" mentality. AMP debacle comes to mind.
Mikeb85 2 days ago 0 replies      
While I can't say anything about Google consumer service (all the Nexus products I've had performed flawlessly and admirably), there is one advantage to getting a device on-contract - they often have replacement plans which are quite abordable (and even cover damage), and take away the hassle of dealing with the manufacturer.
dkarapetyan 2 days ago 0 replies      
A manufacturing process which produces millions of phones manages to produce some with defective covers. Owner of one of these defective devices tries to rectify the situation through google's awesome customer service process because that is what google is known for. Results are less than stellar.
hagope 2 days ago 1 reply      
Mine does too, I'm on the phone with Verizon ordering a replacement. My problem, the audio just went out all of a sudden with a pop when I was on a call. Now none of the audio works. I started with Support on Google, they were good, then I transferred to Verizon, they were good too.
intrasight 2 days ago 1 reply      
>dont like cases because it takes away from the premium build and feel

One forsakes a case at one's own peril. No matter how much you "baby" your small, fragile, expensive phone, it's an accident waiting to happen if you don't have a case.

martin-adams 2 days ago 0 replies      
Microsoft did a similar thing to me with the Surface Book. It wouldn't charge properly and they tried to blame me.

Fortunately for me I got a free Surface Book out of the mistake!


jay_kyburz 2 days ago 1 reply      
You guys need an ACCC like we have in Australia. Refund or replacement for defective product is the law.


parfe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wonder what the odds are a phone review blogger receives a defective flagship device.
lightedman 2 days ago 0 replies      
Moxee has the EXACT same problem. The glass is so thin and not secured on properly, so when the phone heats up, the glass cracks where the adhesive failed.

So looks like the lesson to learn here is do not buy Google or Moxee-branded products.

mbrameld 2 days ago 0 replies      
Would a small claims court suit be a reasonable way to get relief here?
vacri 2 days ago 1 reply      
Something about the story doesn't smell right. The defect is probably genuine, but comparing "I baby my phone" against the weathered-looking edging?
gcb0 2 days ago 0 replies      
> single defect

lucky you!

my nexus one had a dozen or so. Half could have been fixed in software, like everyone claims google is good at, but never were.

Tempest1981 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can't you take a Pixel phone to Verizon for replacement? I thought Pixel was exclusive to Verizon.
csours 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why don't phones have accelerometer telemetry? Tesla's cars do!
hifier 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is what happens when you do business with a company who views you as the product.
ldev 2 days ago 1 reply      
Well, next time just buy an iPhone, the price is the same...
sabujp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yes, I agree the service was terrible, but if you can afford a $750 phone, you can afford to buy another one, and if you can't then you shouldn't have purchased a $750 phone. I buy my tech (esp. phones) cheap and hold onto it for years.
Waterluvian 2 days ago 3 replies      
That's quite a first sentence. I always felt that cases are expected and the design is based on letting the user decide what the case will be like.
Tech1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a pixel xl 128 owner too. As long as we're going down this route, has anyone else noticed weird 'refresh' lines drawing over top of images? They appear very briefly and very faintly (and only in chrome as far as I've noticed, may be a chrome(ium) bug).
protomyth 2 days ago 0 replies      
At some point a NTSB style part of government is going to be created to issue recalls on defective electronics if companies keep this crap up. I expect it to happen after the first IoT device defect affects a politician directly.

I don't want to see that because of possible affects on open source, but I get the feeling that won't matter.

davidf18 2 days ago 1 reply      
Very sorry to hear anyone going through this kind of trouble, but at least for US users and most readers of HN, they should be getting up-to-date iPhones on the Verizon network.

The costs are minimal and it helps to avoid hassles. I've had iPhone 5, 5s, 6+, 6s+, 7+, ever since iPhone had LTE on Verizon.

Each phone version is an improvement on previous models and the Verizon models are now much improved over the ATT/T-mobile, using the Qualcomm baseband modem over the Intel version. But Verizon has more spectrum in NYC at least and they have been investing in their network whereas AT&T has not been so much.

There are yearly upgrade programs offered by Apple and Verizon and perhaps others.

That said, I've had to bring iPhones into the store and they were replaced 3 times. The store is 10 mins from home and work and the service is excellent.

The only time there are problems with getting phone support generally is after they release the new iPhones in late Sept.

I've also had great service on Mac laptops since 2011.

If for some reason, you must use Android, then by all means....

But if for some reason, you do not absolutely have to use Android, then iPhone on the Verizon network is the way to go.

As for shopping, at least in my local store, it is very easy to just purchase something. If you want, you can also purchase things for in-store pickup.

In NYC where I live there is an Apple Store open 24/367 which shows Apple's dedication to service.

Talks that changed the way I think about programming opowell.com
586 points by greywolve  4 days ago   95 comments top 28
joaorico 4 days ago 1 reply      
Alan Kay's intro quote is from this interview to Dr.Dobb's [0]. Here's some more context to that quote:

"Binstock: Are you still programming?

Kay: I was never a great programmer. That's what got me into making more powerful programming languages. I do two kinds of programming. I do what you could call metaprogramming, and programming as children from the age of 9 to 13 or 14 would do. I spend a lot of time thinking about what children at those developmental levels can actually be powerful at, and what's the tradeoff betweenEducation is a double-edged sword. You have to start where people are, but if you stay there, you're not educating.

Extracting patterns from today's programming practices ennobles them in a way they don't deserveThe most disastrous thing about programming to pick one of the 10 most disastrous things about programming there's a very popular movement based on pattern languages. When Christopher Alexander first did that in architecture, he was looking at 2,000 years of ways that humans have made themselves comfortable. So there was actually something to it, because he was dealing with a genome that hasn't changed that much. I think he got a few hundred valuable patterns out of it. But the bug in trying to do that in computing is the assumption that we know anything at all about programming. So extracting patterns from today's programming practices ennobles them in a way they don't deserve. It actually gives them more cachet.

The best teacher I had in graduate school spent the whole semester destroying any beliefs we had about computing. He was a real iconoclast. He happened to be a genius, so we took it. At the end of the course, we were free because we didn't believe in anything. We had to learn everything, but then he destroyed it. He wanted us to understand what had been done, but he didn't want us to believe in it.

Binstock: Who was that?

Kay: That was Bob Barton, who was the designer of the Burroughs B5000. He's at the top of my list of people who should have received a Turing Award but didn't. The award is given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), so that is ridiculous, but it represents the academic bias and software bias that the ACM has developed. It wasn't always that way. Barton was probably the number-one person who was alive who deserved it. He died last year, so it's not going to happen unless they go to posthumous awards.

It's like the problem Christian religions have with how to get Socrates into heaven, right? You can't go to heaven unless you're baptized. If anyone deserves to go to heaven, it's Socrates, so this is a huge problem.Binstock: I don't think they do that.

Kay: They should. It's like the problem Christian religions have with how to get Socrates into heaven, right? You can't go to heaven unless you're baptized. If anyone deserves to go to heaven, it's Socrates, so this is a huge problem. But only the Mormons have solved this and they did it. They proxy-baptized Socrates.

Binstock: I didn't realize that. One can only imagine how thankful Socrates must be.

Kay: I thought it was pretty clever. It solves a thorny problem that the other churches haven't touched in 2,000 years."

[0] http://www.drdobbs.com/cpp/interview-with-alan-kay/240003442

thristian 4 days ago 4 replies      
I suspect a lot of these video are the most powerful when you encounter them at exactly the time you happen to be wrestling with those same ideas yourself.

Every time I design software, I'm think back to Gary Bernhardt's "Boundaries" talk and his practical, concrete suggestions for writing testable code. But I've never met anybody else who seemed as impressed as I was by the idea.

: https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/boundaries

pc86 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I was consulting full time, I happened to run into this video at exactly the right time. I shed two toxic clients and a few weeks later negotiated the largest contract I ever had to that point (and honestly, since).

Mike Monteiro: "F* you, pay me" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVkLVRt6c1U

tinco 4 days ago 5 replies      
These talks are a little skewed to the game/high performance programming side of the art, but still very interesting in general. Of the ones I've already seen I really like Mike Acton's talk.

Since this has become such a nice thread some additions I'd add:

* Sandi Metz going through the Gilded Rose or "All the small things"


I already subscribed to her programming style and the general Ruby TDD/BDD movement, but this talk captures all the important values in a single example. I think it made my programming style no longer based on vague things like experience or intuition, but just on concrete merit shown in this talk.

* Matthew Brecknell demonstrating Hole Driven Development


The programming style demonstrated in this video is a real mind bender. I think most Haskell programmers use a weaker version of this, Matthew takes it to the extreme. I didn't adapt this style, I don't think it's practical, but it's the sort of thing that some person someday will incorporate in some more comfortable way in a new language or platform as a revolutionary feature.

troels 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'll just leave this here:

* Growing a Language, by Guy Steele


GeertVL 4 days ago 1 reply      
I love this quote from Eskill's talk

"C++ is evil because it makes dumb people think they are clever."

Replace C++ with any "intelligent" framework or language.

crdoconnor 4 days ago 0 replies      
These two made an impression on me, especially regarding the delicate trade off between implicit and explicit.

Among other things, how and why to making things more implicit:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wf-BqAjZb8M (Beyond PEP8 by Raymond Hettinger)

When implicit goes too far:

https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat (wat by Gary Bernhardt)

edem 4 days ago 1 reply      
I really like that my two favorites from Rich Hickey are present. If you don't watch any of these you should at least watch 'Simple made easy'.
comboy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Relevant HN thread that is a goldmine: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12637239
ivank 4 days ago 0 replies      
Garret Smith - Writing Quality Code in Erlang


unwind 4 days ago 2 replies      
Fun to see Eskil (there's a typo but that's how you spell it) on here, that talk isn't very old.

It would be interesting with some more analysis from the OP, namely what was learned that changed their thinking, and how their thinking was changed.

tchow 4 days ago 5 replies      
He mentioned a lie of:

Code should be designed around a model of the world

but I didn't hear any reason why not to? The Key/Value pair being the only reason, but besides that being a optimization / preoptimization in high performance applications, is there any reason to not design code around a model of the world?

Seems to me it makes things easier to think about.

stock_toaster 4 days ago 1 reply      
The following talk about event sourcing (not listed in the article), really made an impact on me:

Event Sourcing - Greg Young


: Not that I really expected it to be I guess.

yazaddaruvala 4 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone have a link to Alan Kay's talk, where he demos UIs and a compiler for UIs in ridiculously small # lines of code?

There are a few talks like this, but there is one in particular where he goes into a lot of detail about it. I can't for the life of me find it again.

nottorp 4 days ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if you linked transcripts where available...
dkarapetyan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I know most of these. The common theme is emphasis on solving problems instead of getting caught up in religious wars over "the one true way".
hellofunk 4 days ago 0 replies      
I just watched the Blow talk. I had never seen him talk before and was really impressed by his perspective. I found myself agreeing with many of his points in a way that I never would have a couple years ago. I love how his main metric for optimization is developer time more than anything. I've learned how important this is in recent years.
awongh 4 days ago 1 reply      
This one by Bret Victor (or any of his other talks, really) also come to mind: https://vimeo.com/36579366
pbadenski 4 days ago 0 replies      
Additional two on "software design and evolution" that were hugely influential for me in my career:

* Responsive design, by Kent Beckhttps://www.infoq.com/presentations/responsive-design

* The Grand Unified Theory, by Jim Weirichhttps://vimeo.com/10837903

spacemanmatt 4 days ago 0 replies      
I gotta throw in one of my favorites, because I have not seen another that really speaks so directly to the value of craftsmanship in development. I also deeply enjoyed the allegory with woodworking tools.


gravypod 4 days ago 2 replies      
> Iterating over a two dimensional array by row is much faster than by column.

Another fun fact is staggering array accesses is faster then linear acesses.

Flimm 4 days ago 0 replies      
Are the start times on these YouTube links deliberate? Some of these link to the middle of the video, and I'm not sure why.
d1sciple 3 days ago 0 replies      
Guy Steele's, Sean Parent's C++ talks and Alex Stepanov's A9 course.
joemanaco 4 days ago 0 replies      
These are exactly the talks that had the most influence to the way I write software, too. Great list!
Insanity 4 days ago 0 replies      
I always hugely enjoy these lists, thanks for sharing this one as well. Great material in there :-)
SonicSoul 4 days ago 4 replies      
tried listening to why OOP is bad and it was painful. 10 minutes in and 0 insights. He kept saying things like "encapsulation doesn't work" and then moving on. Not willing to stay another 20 min to find out why.
pjc50 4 days ago 5 replies      
The theological second half of this is bizarre - I've never heard of this being considered a "problem", heaven (in the Christian tradition) is not a hall of fame that one nominates figures for. And the Mormon tradition of proxy-baptising people who are dead and never showed any sign of adherence to their tenets is highly questionable.
navyad 4 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing.
Pebble's next step getpebble.com
528 points by david-given  5 days ago   442 comments top 95
captainmuon 5 days ago 18 replies      
I'm quite angry. This sucks so bad. I "ordered" a Time 2 via Kickstarter.

I'm glad they are refunding me, but that makes me think... WTF, did they not produce any Time 2's? Or are they all going to the landfill? How long have they been knowing that they are going to be insolvent? This doesn't happen overnight! Was the last Kickstarter a gamble?

Why does everybody have to aim for total market dominance to be successful? They overreached and now the customers suffer. There should be a place for "small" manufacturer selling a niche product ("small" with a certain understatement like German "Mittelstand" enterprizes - I mean Pebble sold millions of units). If they had to increase the price by 10% to be sustainable, they still would have smashed the Kickstarter.

Sometimes I think there is a secret cabal conspiring so we can't have nice things ;-). The same one that decided that cell phone batteries have to be non-removable, touchscreens glossy, and wearables either mini-smartphones or bluetooth-step-counters.

TeMPOraL 5 days ago 9 replies      
I'm sad/angry/depressed as any Pebbler right now, so I won't repeat those comments. Instead, since this is HN after all, let me ask - what shall we do?

In a year or two, when my current Pebble Time fails, I'd love an equivalent smartwatch to be available. Since the market doesn't seem to want it, how can we make it happen anyway?

Features I'm looking for are, in order of priority:

 - always-on screen, preferably color (like Pebble Time), but monochromatic will do - open SDK for writing software for the watch - battery life at least the one like Pebble's - 5-7 days - *zero* dependency on cloud for it to work - basic, standard suite of sensors onboard - compass/magnetometer/accelerometer, maybe a mike - elegant form factor
Now I can go the DIY route (I have a friend with experience in making smartwatches from ground-up, though I'd look at some SOCs instead of going the uC + separate sensors route - to save on watch size). Many of us here could do it. But honestly, I have shit ton of other stuff to do, and I'd rather pay for such a watch and enjoy the ecosystem, just like I did with Pebbles. And if everyone goes the DIY route, and there won't be some standardization along the way, there will be no community. Any idea how to coordinate and make this happen? Maybe a community, open-hardware design + crowdfunding for production?

rtpg 5 days ago 6 replies      
I am so sad about this. I had told myself that at least I'd get a Time 2 and a Core, and stave myself off before the sadness hits again that Pebble is gone.

Pebble's products were an excellent example of lateral technology. No need for high DPI on your watch, because they made something that looks good with few pixels. Making battery life a priority in a world of WiFi-enabled pressure cookers.

Even when the battery ran out you still got 24 hours of a watch that would at least tell the time!

I have no idea if it is possible to produce something like Pebbles at low quantities, but I would love to see an open design with similar specs. I think these watches are better than anything else out there, and it's sad the design is going to disappear.

scblock 5 days ago 2 replies      
Considering that Pebble is stopping product development, cancelling orders, ending warranties, ending support, and essentially completely shutting down I find the positive tone of this post and the Kickstarter update post to be nearly unbelievable.

I know we see plenty of "our incredible journey" posts filled with optimism, but euphemistic language and dozens of photos of watches and happy people and more watches is jarring.

It's not a shame to try hard at something and fail. But it is a shame to fail and pretend you succeeded. We can see through you.

lettergram 5 days ago 6 replies      
You know, Pebble has garnered one of the best group of loyal customers I know of: well-off techies.

Had they came to the community and said, "hey we are losing sales and we need everyone to pitch in $10 / year for software support (maybe a web interface for fitness or something) I guarantee a few hundred thousand people would have done it.

Had they shared a coupon with the community (i.e. email add campaign, or add on watch - "buy one, get one half off" for christmas they would have probably had a large bump in orders. Although I recognize this would be a mild annoyance, I can also guarantee they would have sold plenty of units.

This simply seems like poor management and it's frustrating because it's the best smart watch I can find at the moment. It does exactly what I want, is cheaper than the competition, and is dead simple to use.

WTF pebble, you had the product people loved - you just didn't market it well.

mike-cardwell 5 days ago 1 reply      
Somebody pointed this out to me the other day:


I've not looked into it yet, but it is described as:

"A free and cloudless replacement for your gadget vendors' closed source Android applications. Pebble and Mi Band supported."

The feature list seems substantial. So hopefully we'll be able to continue to use our pebbles for some time.

alonsonic 5 days ago 6 replies      
I can't believe this, just got a Pebble 2 a week ago and now they are literally saying it may not work in the future.

If we rely on their cloud services for activity tracking and app downloads then it will be useless if FitBit doesn't maintain the platform.

I have to say I'm really disappointed and this is a huge blow to people that invest in startups offering hardware. If the company fails forget about the smart stuff you bought, it just won't work anymore.

We should look for ways to minimize the impact on backers. Sadly we'll see more of this in a future in which the products depend a lot on the company cloud services to operate.

tedajax 5 days ago 3 replies      
As someone who quite likes their time steel and who was patiently waiting for their time 2 this is incredibly frustrating. No other watches do what I want so I guess my foray into smart watches is over. It's a shame too because I appreciate the convenience it offers but I probably won't miss it much after a couple of weeks
hedora 5 days ago 3 replies      
Tldr: FitBit acquires() bankrupt pebble, lays of 60% of staff, cancels all pebble product lines. FitBit also cancels the warranties on already sold pebbles. FitBit may also have stiffed some holders of $27m of pebble's debt.

() due to legal shenanigans we must not call this an acquisition or an acqui-hire. Also, FitBit didn't do those things, a shell company created by this deal did, which is totally different somehow.

When things like this happen, I always hope that consumers that got screwed over by the deal (and people that hear about it) avoid the acquiring company after the fact. If they treat pebble customers like this, how will they treat their own customers later?

gregmac 5 days ago 2 replies      
> Pebble devices will continue to work as normal. No immediate changes to the Pebble user experience will happen at this time.> Pebble functionality or service quality may be reduced in the future.

That's very unfortunate. How much of Pebble relies on some online service? Is it still possible to install apps/updates without their infrastructure?

For companies that don't open source their stuff by default, it would be so nice if there was some kind of escrow service where upon dissolution of the company (sale, bankruptcy, etc) the required software to keep their hardware going would be released. I suspect the problem is while it's a win for consumers, not enough would care: the mass market is not going to only buy products that have this escrow service, and at the same time, it's handcuffs for the business, likely complicating a sale or liquidation of the company, and possibly turning investors off.

I hope the Pebble doesn't become a complete wristbrick, but it's always a shame to see perfectly good hardware crippled because there's no longer a piece of software running entirely outside the consumer's control.

LeanderK 5 days ago 0 replies      
this blog post is absurd. They are shutting down, not manufacturing/selling stuffy anymore. It's over, the bubble popped, icarus flew too high and crashed.

And yet everybody having fun with their pebbles on the pictures. Also featured: the energetic team, the diverse ecosystem with lots of developers. This is absurd. The only thing missing is the "our incredible journey"-phrase.

The whole blog-post if marketing BS, even the headline is a lie. "Pebble's next step", there is no next step, it's over for pebble! Some might work for fitbit in the future, but pebble is dead. They don't explain why and how, they are just glorifying their past and don't admit any mistakes.

pbnjay 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wow this is even worse than expected from the previous news articles... If they're winding down all support and warranties, PLEASE release as much of the watch operating system code as possible! I know some of the IP was sold, but if Fitbit won't be continuing support please help those of us who love our current watches keep them going!
fudgy73 5 days ago 1 reply      
I don't usually get upset about this stuff, business is business, but with my outstanding time 2 and core orders, I am definitely feeling bamboozled.

I always thought of pebbles fighting fitbits, the watch for 'us' vs the trackers for everyone. The open platform vs the locked in, the device that got just what you wanted done vs the not-really-a-watch.

It seemed like with pebble health and their relationship with Stanford things were on the up and up. Now ending warranties and such a trying to be nice but not really announcement. I expect nothing from fitbit. This sucks.

dijit 5 days ago 5 replies      
I'd like to know how this happened really. Pebbles were pretty decent and their successful campaigns definitely contributed to the rise of smart watches. But after having two hugely successful crowdfunding campaigns, how did they fail?
maxerickson 5 days ago 1 reply      
Ducks not quite in a straight line yet.

From text of announcement:

Pebble is no longer promoting, manufacturing, or selling any devices.

From header of getpebble.com:

Buy Now $99

Also, the store promoting Pebble has no prominent announcement that they aren't promoting Pebble anymore (the one watch I checked did say out of stock, so they aren't selling it at the moment).

denzil_correa 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Pebbles Migicovsky is planning to rejoin startup incubator Y Combinator as a partner advising early-stage companies on hardware development, people with knowledge of the matter said. Y Combinators hardware head recently left, Bloomberg News reported last month.

Pebble CEO seems to be joining YC.


sandis 5 days ago 3 replies      
> Warranty support is no longer available for Pebble watches.

That's not very nice.

wenbin 5 days ago 1 reply      
Just read previous posts on https://blog.getpebble.com/ .

Man, you really can't tell whether a startup is doing well or not from outside. Everything's AWESOME all the time:

* Oct 31, 2016: Get Spooky with Halloween Pebble Faces!

* Oct 18, 2016: Whats New in Pebbles 4.2 Firmware and Apps

* Oct 05, 2016: Pebble 2: Fit & Smart

* Sep 30, 2016: Pebble 2 Kickstarter Rewards Start Shipping

* Sep 14, 2016: Pebble Core = More Awesome with Amazon Alexa Expansion in the UK and Germany

... and then suddenly making big headline: "Dec 7, 2016: Pebble's next step".

IgorPartola 5 days ago 1 reply      
Would have been better if they had open sourced the OS and the server code. And the designs for that matter. Obviously the IP is worth quite a bit, but since it doesn't look like FitBit will be producing similar hardware, it sucks to essentially lose these designs and it sucks that at any point FitBit can just shutter the services that make the current watches work.

Also, the Core was going to be awesome. Too bad it didn't happen.

diego_moita 5 days ago 1 reply      
Pebbler here.

There is an old Italian anarchist poem[0] that sings: "date fiori ai ribelli caduti", "give flowers to the fallen rebels".

Flowers for you, rebels.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X0Rsf_7f0U

xs 5 days ago 0 replies      
I don't consider Pebble to be a startup anymore. I'm not sure why so many comments here use that term. They have found a repeatable, stable, and scalable business model that works and have been successful with it for years. Their watches are sold in Best Buy, Target, Walmart and other retail stores. Once you hit that level of main stream popularity I would say you're no longer a startup.

It was shocking to me to see Kickstarters for Pebble after their initial watch came out. After they had already been for sales in major retail stores. They should have solidified their business model by then and been profitable already. I feel like Kickstarter should be there to get your initial idea launched and if you can't take flight from there, don't do another.

Anyway, huge Pebble fan here, super sad to see them mismanage their assets that resulted in this.

engi_nerd 5 days ago 0 replies      
Why do these companies always phrase it as "our next step" or "what we're doing next"? As far as the outside world is concerned, Pebble is dead. There is no "next step". Maybe those same people will go on to work with Fitbit to make similar products, but they are abandoning their existing product.

I hate spin for the sake of public relations.

51Cards 5 days ago 0 replies      
My Pebble Time is brilliant... after an LG G, Moto 360, I settled on my Time being a perfect balance if functionality and usability. I was one of the first Time 2 backers and this really sucks to put it mildly. The Time 2 was going to fix my VERY few issues with the Time. In general they struck the perfect balance in a wearable for me and I was really excited about the future (Time 2, Google Assistant integration, etc). I rarely get truly sad about hardware announcements but this one is really disappointing.
europa 5 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever this kind of things happens. It will make all the more difficult for startups to acquire users because this reiterates "Startups are either going to be acquired and killed or die prematurely".
experimentsin 5 days ago 1 reply      
I note this from Pebble's developer blog, suggesting that a Fitbit-targeting successor to Pebble's app SDK may be a big part of the plan:

"Although this chapter in Pebbles developer story is closing, our team and ethos have found a new, welcoming home at Fitbit. We cant wait to have you alongside us for this next adventure. Third-party Pebble developers have a massive opportunity to drive how a Fitbit developer ecosystem will take shape. We hope youre as excited about seizing this opportunity as we are.

Over the coming months we will be working closely with our new friends at Fitbit, building the foundation for the next great wearable experiences. We want youour fantastic developer communityto keep playing a crucial role in our success. More information will follow soon, so stay tuned!"


ynniv 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'll trade my refund for a postmortem.
dom96 5 days ago 1 reply      
Many people seem to be calling for the release of Pebble OS source code. Of course that is unlikely to happen. So how about instead we reimplement it under a FOSS license?

Ever since I heard the rumours about this acquisition, I started wondering just how difficult that would be to do. I'm sure there are plenty of you here with experience in these types of things, is this a good idea or a waste of time?

twoquestions 5 days ago 2 replies      
So it looks like Fitbit acquihired the team from Pebble. Here's hoping Fitbit releases a product like the Pebbles, as it was much more safe and less attention-consuming to check a text message on my watch while driving than bringing out my phone, or asking a passenger to do this.

Are there any other things like it that we can migrate to, or will the world never see their like again?

pimterry 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is tragic; I was waiting on a Time 2, but looks like no longer.

What else is around in this niche now? Are there other relatively cheap, simple smart watches with good battery life that I should be looking at instead?

cableshaft 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'd love to see a P2P style open cloud service created, where companies that use cloud services can use that instead, and then even if their company fails or has to shut down their own support of their services, their products can live on with the P2P cloud.

(Or, even if it's just an auto-graceful downgrade solution, like it hits their servers first, but if that's not available it tries the other).

For example, I once worked on a multiplayer iOS game about collaboratively writing stories based on keywords, and we were going to create a service to do it, but in the end decided to use the built-in asynchronous turn support in iOS GameKit.

Eventually the company folded, and if we had done our own service, the game would be completely unplayable. But because we used Apple's built-in services, it's still playable today, even though the company is gone, and even though the app is no longer on the app store.

That's kind of what I'm thinking, but instead of Apple providing that service, it's an Open Cloud service.

I was even thinking of writing an API to play mobile apps via email, where JSON strings of game turn data being passed back and forth via email, possibly via dedicated email addresses that the apps are given user/passwords to. Since email is a basic protocol that isn't likely to go away anytime soon, it seemed like a good tech to base that on.

aub3bhat 5 days ago 0 replies      
Its really sad to see Pebble going under. I really feel for the founders and employees. Unlike other commenters here I dont think there is obvious way this could have been avoided. Certain markets/companies do require a specific scale of investments/growth/market-penetration to be sustainable. Wearables/Smart-watches have proven to be a very difficult market and I pepole behind Pebble should be commended for risk taking.
sreenadh 5 days ago 2 replies      
Can one please explain in simple english what actually happened? I did read that fitbit was interested in buying pebble. I assumed it will be like apple buying beats, and pebble will continue as usual.

Is fitbit shutting down pebble as pebble is a superior product over the crappy fitbits?

The core strength of Pebble was its simple OS and energy efficient device. I hope they opensource the OS.

mathrawka 5 days ago 0 replies      
A month before they made this announcement, I ordered a Time Steel. I waited 3 weeks for shipping, and the tracking code they sent me remained in "Waiting for package from shipper" Then one day I got an email from their support saying the package was returned to sender.... sure, they just didn't send it. I requested the order to be cancelled, but was ignored until I said I want the refund or will do a chargeback.

I contacted my friend that worked there and he said he was not surprised, their support team was being disbanded and he and his team received an offer to work elsewhere.

Too bad, Pebble was my favorite smartwatch out there (original one is dead) and now I am stuck watchless because the only decent options are watches that are 1 or 2 years old.

the_qbit 5 days ago 0 replies      
Right as I jumped on the bandwagon! Hurts.

Hopefully they have some influence over fitbit. I want to be able to make apps and install / test from my OpenBSD box!

CodexArcanum 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've been generally dissatisfied with the smart watch options in general, even more so than cell phones and the Sophie's choices for cell phones is pretty bad!

What factors prevent open source hardware from being viable? Like if the basic parts of the pebble (e-paper screens, small efficient processors, flat batteries, etc) were open hardware so that any number of manufacturers could just churn out the parts; and if there was a FOSS option for an OS to run that hardware; what prevents a vibrant community from forming around those options? We could have artisans putting together various nice watch options, and lots of little apps to run on them. Why don't we have that?

iamatworknow 5 days ago 1 reply      
I was a Kickstarter backer in 2012 and still have my original Pebble. There was a weird screen issue and I wanted to try other things, so I switched to the Gear 2 Neo which was absolute garbage. Then I moved on to the Moto 360, which also left me very disappointed when somehow the rear glass (the part that rests on your wrist) shattered.

So I went back to Pebble and got the Time Steel about a year ago and it's been flawless. Worked with my Note 4 and later (currently) with my iPhone 6S Plus. It's a shame that they're not going to be around anymore for the next time I get an itch to try something new. When this watch quits I'll probably just go back to my Citizen.

forvelin 5 days ago 0 replies      
their business strategy was terrible. -though, their developer support was awesome-

I still wear my time steel and will get my time 2 refund, but I am surely frustrated by how they screwed all it up. They did not open source any core bits, left with crappy update which drains batteries and openly admitted quality will get worse by time.

note-for-future : don't get into hype trains.

alexholehouse 5 days ago 2 replies      
One thought:

FitBit's customer service with me has been nothing but exceptional from start to finish, and is the reason I have bought several for family members.

I would hope that FitBit would recognize the loyalty they create based on this quality of service could be magnified by grandfathering Pebble's various services and by maintaining them, while helping Pebble users to transition at their convenience. This would allow Pebble users to continue to have functioning Pebble watches, with the likelihood of sticking with FitBit once the watch does finally break.

cwisecarver 5 days ago 0 replies      
I backed the Time 2 and the Core. I was way more excited about the Core. I have a 1st-gen Apple Watch and am perfectly happy with that. I was going to give the Time 2 to my father-in-law for Christmas. It's really disappointing. I'm really looking forward to someone explaining the what and whys of this. Based on Fitbit's stock price over the last year I can't imagine this acquisition will turn out good for either party, the developers going to Fitbit, or the wearable community in general.
ohyoutravel 5 days ago 0 replies      
I had two Basis (original and the newer one) watches and when they had a recall/shut down operations, they did a buy back of them. So I got a check for the original purchase price of each and mailed them into Basis. Now that I have a couple of presumably soon-to-be-useless Pebble watches sitting around, it would be nice if they did the same thing. I nearly ordered a Time 2, but am liking my Garmin Vivoactive HR, so thank goodness I didn't order one.
amirmansour 5 days ago 1 reply      
If FitBit wants current Pebble users to be their future customers, they should definitely consider not making current Pebble devices useless.

I understand this is not a trivial task, but it looks like FitBit mostly acquired Pebble's software engineers. So it would nice to see a new FitBit flavored OS update for Pebbles. The hardware is there, it just needs the software support. Pebble hardware with FitBit health/fitness services would a be great combo.

nepfvkej 5 days ago 0 replies      
Yet again, open-source to the rescue.

Current pebble users should look into Gadgetbridge[1].

Wrist computer enthusiasts trying to avoid future bricks should seek out and support projects like AsteroidOS[2].



kolemcrae 5 days ago 0 replies      
I got royally screwed. Yesterday my 4 month old Pebble Time Round burned my wrist and killed itself, today they announce they no loner honour the warranty.
rahoulb 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm genuinely saddened by this.

My Time Round is the only smart watch I've found that looks like a real watch (THIN) - they seemed to be the only ones that understood all the functionality in the world means nothing if you've got an ugly brick strapped to your wrist.

(And as for a screen that only switches on when you raise your wrist - it's like those people have no idea what a watch is for)

k2xl 5 days ago 1 reply      
I guess their latest Pebble version didn't get the sales they expected.

Definitely surprising that they weren't able to sell the company - they had the brand and a loyal customer base. As an owner of a Pebble Time, I was impressed by the integrations, simplicity of design, and battery life.

I wonder went wrong - hopefully, there will be some type of post-mortem on these "various factors" over the next few weeks.

valine 5 days ago 0 replies      
Citizen buying pebble would have been so incredibly awesome. This is about the worst possible ending imaginable for pebble. Sad day.
627467 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm still interested in getting a Time Round and/or Time Steel.

I love my Pebble Time, and the best features I use it for do required any cloud support: alarm, watchfaces, music control (to fast rewind/forward when listening to podcasts while on bike), I mostly switch-off notifications, but even those, I believe, won't require cloud support.

sundvor 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well I for one am extremely sad about this. I had the Pebble Steel, stolen, then Pebble Time Steel and now also the Pebble 2, with a Pebble Time 2 on order.

I've loved Pebble from the first day I read about their original kickstarter. Gutted to learn I'll never get my Time 2.. was it a manufacturing defect that sunk the company?

At any rate I just found and placed an order for a white Pebble 2 for my wife. I was going to wait a bit, but didn't want to take any chances on getting her one now. Love the contrast of my lime / grey one.

I can't see anything replacing the Pebble now; nothing else offers week long battery life and always on display.

Thanks to all the engineers and programmers for the work you've put in. I feel sad for how it all panned out.

jotjotzzz8 5 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious why they didn't take the Citizen offer for $700+ million. And then that Intel offer, which is now a better deal than what Fitbit offered. There must be more to the story. I feel that the CEO bears the blame for letting this company down, could it be hubris? Can't wait to read more when this story comes out.
Leszek 5 days ago 1 reply      
Very disappointing for this backer that the Time 2 will never come out. It makes you wonder where the kickstarter money went.
lgleason 5 days ago 0 replies      
The wearables market is trying to find it's sustainable model at the moment and we are at the low point of the hype cycle. Part of the issue has to do with the business model with hardware devices like this. IE: A one time hardware purchase that needs to fund all further software updates etc. and the reliance on continually selling new hardware to stay in business.

Then there was the issue of needing to learn another dev stack to write applications with it vs the Apple or Google offerings that leverage Android and IOS development skills. Right now the largest market in the space is with simple devices such as fitness trackers. The disappointing thing is that Fitbit isn't as open with their bluetooth stack/Gatt profiles, but that's another discussion.

pfooti 5 days ago 2 replies      
Well, this sucks. I really don't want a fitbit - I like the pebble formfactor and legit use it as a notifier. If I wanted a fitness tracker, I'd get a $15 pedometer.

I backed and received a pebble2 to replace my pebble1. (as a Under some circumstances, I'd be fine just ignoring the acquisition and continuing to use my p2. The real problem is when the pebble integrations stop working. If that happens in a few months, I'm not going to be particularly happy.

I get that kickstarter is a gamble, as is buying products from marginal manufacturers. But the pebble really is a product that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else. Can anyone recommend a wearable that:

1) displays full notifications (email, text, etc)

2) handles navigation turn-by-turn directions

3) controls my music stream

4) lasts for a week+ on one charge

5) works on android (or better, is platform agnostic)

aikah 5 days ago 0 replies      
Still taking orders on kickstarter right now...


jtruk 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Active Pebble watches will work normally for now. Functionality or service quality may be reduced down the road. We dont expect to release regular software updates or new Pebble features.

I hope they open source Pebble OS, maybe even the assets that drive the Pebble store.

dragonwriter 5 days ago 1 reply      
"Warranty support is no longer available" -- if items were purchased with a warranty, isn't that straight up breach of contract, for which Pebble (well, Fitbit, which bought Pebble and thus inherits its liabilities) will be liable?
cableshaft 5 days ago 1 reply      
I have a Pebble 2. I charged it last night. I have the Pebble Android app and I can't seem to get the two connected today. Is that because of this? Is there something on the backend that's required for notifications/sending already downloaded stuff from the app? I figured it did it all via the app on the client side, except the store.

If I can't even connect anymore, that's pretty screwed up, and I'm angry. If it just worked as it had before, just without the Pebble store or something, I can live with that.

Please just be some minor glitch. I'm very happy with the device as it was yesterday.

Anyone else having this problem?

takeda 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm starting to think that perhaps kickstart (or another kickstart like service should be created) should only back projects that are open source (source code of software, designs of hardware etc.).

Right now, when people are backing projects it essentially comes down to store like behavior, where you essentially purchasing a product and are not even guaranteed to receive it. If kickstarted products would instead be open, community would own them, and many of them could continue to thrive.

Pebble seems like is a product that would be much more successful if it was open sourced.

gnicholas 5 days ago 0 replies      
any idea how long before Fitbit can be expected to come out with a product that integrates some of Pebble's goodies? I have been waiting on a Time Steel 2 since June, but I don't want to wait another 12 months for the teams to integrate and a product to be released (and hope the first effort won't be a frankenwatch).

I guess I'll have to look into the Apple Watch againI didn't love it when I first tried it, but that was with the old OS and slow processor. Hope Fitbit can get something out the door before my Time Steel kicks the bucket!

dkroy 5 days ago 0 replies      
Is there an alternative out there right now with comparable battery life and features? It looks like I won't be receiving my next pebble so I am looking for something similar.
toxican 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm devastated. I remember being so excited when the first kickstarter happened, but I was broke and couldn't buy one. Then finally after years of waiting and following them with interest, my wife bought me a Pebble Time for our anniversary. That was 2 months ago and now the future of this amazing device on my arm is completely up in the air. And what is the alternative? Some over-priced, under-featured piece of garbage fitbit? No thanks.
headgasket 5 days ago 2 replies      
I also blame Apple. When you are a 1T$ company, I think it's a social responsibility to not be ruthless in your pricing with small innovating competitors running on the midnight oil. It's a page out of MS playbook. I feel like a traitor for owning an apple watch. But at this rate, with their ipadification (dropped all ports off the mbp) and product lineup explosion, Apple is going where it was in the 90s anyway...
mattmaroon 5 days ago 0 replies      
I know how heartbreaking that must be for the founders, but at least they're going out the classy way. I'm sure we'll hear from them again.
linsomniac 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love the Pebble, so sad to see it go. I had one of the originals, and now have a Time Steel I love. Feel a little bit like they shot themselves in the foot because I'd have been willing to pay $200 for the watch, but there were tons of refurb ones for under $100 available, so that's the one my Fiance got me. I tried one of the Android watches, but hated it. The Pebble was soooo much better.
afrancis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Love my Pebble. Has almost everything I wanted in a watch. Found it a pity that on the marketing front, Pebble never seemed to get top of mind (or anything near there). My current's watch's display is starting to shred. Debating buying a second watch while they are still available. Downloaded the SDK and will grab the tutorials. Hopefully Fitbit will keep this information around.
joshstrange 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have a first gen Apple Watch after having the Pebble Steel and I was very much considering going back to Pebble, this is very sad news.
sickbeard 5 days ago 2 replies      
What's the point of warranties and cloud services if you can just be like "oops, goodbye"? Can they be sued for this?
dudisbrie 5 days ago 0 replies      
What a great story from Kickstarter's most valuable player to a debt monster that make every of its loyal customer angry
headgasket 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is so sad. I had the new time2 with the core on kickstarter. This would have been a truly innovative product, why oh why? I see on crunchbase they had only raised 15M-- so theres G$ available for a nth round of evernote or dropbox and not a few M$ to help these guys see it to market? This is a terrible day for innovation.
trapperkeeper79 5 days ago 1 reply      
The iFixit was very interesting. It has a freakin FPGA?? A comment said it was there to drive the e-ink display, while the MCU slept. Any confirmation on that? Also, what the heck was the smart strap supposed to be?

This is sad because I was just about to get a Pebble (had tried beefier watches but felt battery life was too limited).

jscheel 5 days ago 0 replies      
So, basically, there will be no way to load watchfaces or apps when their servers go down, and a lot of other things will also stop working. I've been a big advocate of Pebble for a long time. This is a great middle finger to all of us that have been with them from the beginning.
rdl 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is the most orderly shutdown of a hardware+services company I've seen. Congrats to Team Pebble for that.

It has to suck to end this way after 8 years. :(

I hope someone builds a product like Pebble Core; I'm not sure how generally viable that is, but I'd love to have it myself.

digi_owl 5 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but wonder if the whole timeline thing overcomplicated the pebble platform. I for one lost a bit of interest in the whole thing once i learned they where heading in that direction with future products.
kingosticks 5 days ago 1 reply      
That's a real shame. The search for a small Spotify-enabled device continues.
bryanlarsen 5 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any way to get a Pebble 2 instead of a refund on my Time 2 pledge?
merpnderp 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sad I'm not getting my Time 2, but that is really awesome of them to refund my money from their Spring Kickstarter. They didn't have to do that, which is much appreciated.
JustSomeNobody 5 days ago 0 replies      
I wanted that Pebble core. This is sad.

I sincerely hope all the Pebble employees are able to transition to other jobs with minimal impact to their lives. Good luck in your future endeavors!

reustle 5 days ago 1 reply      
For those curious, you can still buy the Pebble 2 online via BestBuy, Walmart, Amazon, etc.

Did the Pebble Time 2 ever get completed? Did anyone receive one? I was really looking forward to it...

iblaine 5 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how to react to this news. I have 3 pebble watches and 2 of them are broken. If fitbit can fix the pebble quality problem then I may buy more.
imode 4 days ago 0 replies      
in the words of Jason Scott...

"I can summarize this for you... uh...

..."FUCK"... and uh.. "YOU"."

another victim of "our incredible journey."

yalogin 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was looking at Pebble before but this shuts that down.

Coincidentally I noticed that the market for luxury watches has heated up ever since Apple Watch was released.

DiabloD3 5 days ago 3 replies      
But I thought Fitbit was exiting the wearable market?
ecesena 5 days ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: hardware won't be produced anymore (currently working hw will still work).

Software will work on fitbit. Details here: https://developer.pebble.com/blog/2016/12/06/developer-commu...

tokenizerrr 5 days ago 0 replies      
I actually had a Peddle around my wrist a few months ago, decided I didn't like it and sent it back. Really glad I did.
lucaspottersky 5 days ago 0 replies      

this sounds like "yeah, f*ck ya'all up, we are leaving this boat".

i guess that's what you get from "small startups".

djhworld 5 days ago 2 replies      
I've had my Pebble Time (1) for about 18 months now, sad to hear this.

No other smartwatch can boast 4-5 day battery life.

tezza 5 days ago 0 replies      
So do the existing hardware watches become collectors items or second draw fillers ?
deegles 5 days ago 1 reply      
Did Pebble employees have stock options? Is there any money left for them?
gabrielcsapo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Open source what should have originally been open sourced?
ausjke 5 days ago 0 replies      
what's the core reason, wearable is not as popular as it is thought to be? too early for the generic public? Apple iwatch competition? something else?
gerryk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sad to see the failure of a truly alternative product.
distantsounds 5 days ago 0 replies      
"66,673 backers pledged $12,779,843 to help bring this project to life."


pwelch 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is sad to hear. It was a really cool product.
delroekid 5 days ago 0 replies      
damn.. i felt bad about this
m4tthumphrey 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow that didn't take long.
Why Google Pixel lags 10x more than Moto Z glek.net
478 points by tapper  23 hours ago   190 comments top 27
darren_ 21 hours ago 4 replies      
The title is "Why Google Pixel lags 10x more than Moto Z" but the content is just a microbenchmark of fsync() without anything resembling a measurement of UI lag or that the 10x slowdown in fsync() actually means a 10x (or any) increase in said lag.

The author's previous blogpost (http://taras.glek.net/post/Laggy-phones-and-misleading-bench...) contends that 4K writes are a good proxy for phone lag, but has no evidence or measurements either, just the author's contention.

It could all well be true! And it's great the author's dug up some concrete areas the pixel team could potentially improve at (dumb question: couldn't the pixel be updated to use most of these FS tweaks? could an in-use pixel FS be converted to use f2fs?). But I don't think the author has done a good job demonstrating an actual relation to UI lag or anything to do with the phone's perceived performance.

disclaimer: googler, but I do iOS things.

comex 22 hours ago 6 replies      
> The key option is nobarrier. This effectively makes fsync() a no-op and explains most of the difference in performance.

In other words, because the Moto Z cheats.

I suppose it's understandable... nobody should ever be blocking GUI animations on fsync, much less two of them in a row, but here we are.

archivator 18 hours ago 3 replies      
This articles conflates a lot of things but it also has the priorities somewhat wrong.

1) fsync cost. Yes, fsyncs are dangerously slow in any Android app. (SQLite for example is a common culprit. Shared Prefs are another). HOWEVER, it's possible that flushes cause reads to be queued behind them (either in the kernel or on the device itself) which is even worse because

2) Random read cost is super super important. Android mmap's literally everything and demand paging is particularly common AND horrendous as a workflow. To add insult to injury, Android does not madvise the byte code or the resources as MADV_RANDOM, so read-ahead (or read-around) kicks in and you end up paging in 16KB-32KB where you only wanted 4KB.

Also, history has shown custom flash-based file system on Android to be a world of pain. yaffs, jffs have some pretty atrocious bugs/quirks. I'd much rather see the world unify on common file systems, optimized for flash-like storage, rather than OEMs shipping their own in-house broken file "systems" (I'm looking at you, Samsung).

bitmapbrother 10 hours ago 0 replies      
From Tim Murray, performance engineer on Pixel:

>that fsync blog post floating around is pretty much bogus. also nobody should use nobarrier, it's not safe at all


moonlander 16 hours ago 2 replies      
This makes very little sense. The author shows a fsync() benchmark comparing an actualy fsync (Pixel on ext4 without nobarrier) with a nobarrier (no-op fsync) alternative. The only thing this benchmark shows is that a no-op is faster than the real thing.
Grazester 16 hours ago 7 replies      
"try to avoid buying devices that will slow down to point of being unusable as NAND wears out (ala Nexus 7, Nexus 6)"

Has anyone experienced this issue with their Nexus 6? My phone is more than 2 years old and I have no noticeable slowdown.The pixel might have the slower storage option but it has no effect on usability. From what I have read its UI performance is the best of any Android phone yet.

"The Pixels are fast noticeably faster than Samsung's Galaxy S7. On performance alone, these are easily the best Android phones you can buy."http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/18/13304090/google-pixel-pho...

codedokode 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't think this could be interpreted as a visual lag. fsync() is usually used by databases, not UI libraries. So the title is misleading.

My chinese Android phone has a more annoying hardware lag - a delay between touching the screen and touch event processing is over 100 ms. Any drum app is unusable. And if you try to scroll something up and down fast it is easy to see how the content on the screen lags behind finger movements.

kibwen 21 hours ago 4 replies      
Offtopic: I love my old Moto G, but I've been reluctant to buy any new phones from Motorola since its purchase by Lenovo, due to Lenovo's history of shipping computers with rootkits and malware. Should I suspect that Motorola phones are compromised, or am I just being unreasonably paranoid?
Animats 22 hours ago 2 replies      
"They drove development of the filesystem specifically by Twitter/FB/etc workloads captured from the phone."

Why would Twitter or Facebook apps need to write much to persistent storage? They don't do so in a browser.

joosters 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Other comments are querying the relevance of fsync() as a 'lag' benchmark, but I want to query whether fsync() is even meaningful at multiple calls per second.

I know fsync() ensures data gets written to disk, but why does anyone care that it can happen so often? When a device crashes, some data (prior to the sync) may be lost, but do we really need multiple checkpoints per second to ensure only sub-second data loss?

I'd be content with a couple of minutes worth of loss even on my main PC, with its lack of battery backup. To enforce rapid syncs on a phone seems utterly pointless.

Keep the syncs for meaningful checkpoints, like buying something in an app or marking a message as sent. Multiple fsync() calls per second are a total waste.

mda 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Any real proof that this actually causes user visible issues at all?
colanderman 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The fundamental problem sounds like it's that SQLite insists on not running in its own thread. This, coupled with the fact that Linux has no way to issue a true (i.e., non-blocking) write barrier, means that there is no way to implement write barriers in user space.

Whereas, if SQLite did issue I/O from a separate thread, one could easily implement an "async commit" function which guaranteed consistency and ordering but not necessarily durability (i.e. a write barrier). This would suffice I suspect for 95% of usage in applications: users will probably be OK if their phone loses the last few seconds of user input before an OS crash, so long as everything else is left intact.

EDIT: In fact, Postgresql has an option to permit exactly this behavior: https://www.postgresql.org/docs/9.6/static/wal-async-commit.... This is possible in Postgresql because, unlike SQLite, I/O does not run in the client thread.

bitmapbrother 11 hours ago 1 reply      
If f2fs is so superior to ext4 then why doesn't its creator, Samsung, use it on their phones?
agumonkey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't see the hard link between GUI smoothness and io. You can have perfectly smooth 12000fps rendering and crappy IO, everything will just be "loading...".
wodenokoto 21 hours ago 3 replies      
My old 4S runs annoyingly slow. According to the article,the NAND, as it ages will slow down the phone, so will replacing my storage make my iPhone fast again?
ElijahLynn 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I always wondered why my wife's Moto X is still buttery smooth after 3 years!! I love that phone. I have a Pixel but she still has her Moto X and it is really great at being smooth, plus the wave to wake and other gestures are really unmatched by the Pixel.

Love this write up/research! Hopefully it will teach the Pixel team a few things, or maybe they already knew but will now have the ammo to take to Product and change things!!

kozak 14 hours ago 1 reply      
So this might be the reason why some mobile devices (like my ASUS TF700T tablet) degrade in performance so badly over time. Interesting.
digi_owl 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I suspect it is not the fsync directly that leads to lag. But that when a fsync comes through, Linux stops doing anything else for the duration.
Tepix 21 hours ago 2 replies      
I hadn't heard about f2fs before. Sounds useful even on a notebook with SSD.
bla2 17 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're calling fsync on your painting thread, you're going to have trouble hitting 60FPS no matter what. What a clickbaity post.
pas 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there an Android sample app that show how to do I/O properly (off the main thread, and so on)?

I know there's some kind of system to prevent network I/O on the main thread... w... why... I dare to ask the obvious, w-wwhy isn't there a warning for simple disk I/O too?

blunte 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if this is why my Sony Xperia Z5 is so sluggish sometimes, despite having a Snapdragon 810 8-core CPU...
kasabali 16 hours ago 1 reply      
> ... noatime,nodiratime, ...

noatime implies nodiratime. I shrug off when I see newbies copy pasting this to their /etc/fstab but this is in a mainstream Android device??

carrot 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What does it matter?
relics443 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Kinda makes me regret getting a Pixel to replace my Moto Z. Except the reception was terrible on the Z. Oh well.

How is it that no one has made a worthy successor to the OG Turbo. That was a monster of a phone across the board.

terrywang 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Nexus 5X running rooted AOSP 7.1.1

/storage/emulated fuse/dev/block/dm-0 /data ext4 rw,seclabel,nosuid,nodev,noatime,noauto_da_alloc,errors=panic,data=ordered,inode_readahead_blks=8 (no nobarrier mount option)

In theory Google should be able to easily change the /data ext4 mount option, why didn't Google?

1213486160 has a friend: 1195725856 rachelbythebay.com
522 points by TimWolla  4 days ago   99 comments top 8
ChuckMcM 4 days ago 9 replies      
Hah, one of the side effects of doing embedded programming is spending a lot of time staring at hex dumps with ascii in them, hex on the left actual characters on the right. As a result you start recognizing a lot of ASCII characters when you see the hex codes for them.

I was debugging a library that was a 'native' library for a scripting language and the code seemed to have a much bigger running footprint than I expected. It kept allocating this odd sized buffer, a bit over 13,000 bytes in size. Walking it back to the scripting language interface to C code the buffer it wanted was '32' bytes long but the scripting language was passing it as a string so 0x3332 bytes long. oops! Reading hex and seeing ASCII is a very useful skill to develop.

jstanley 4 days ago 5 replies      
Passing the very first 4 bytes you receive straight to malloc with no sanity checking? I suspect that application is riddled with other vulnerabilities!
lbrandy 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you search either of these numbers on google you see a ton of errors and people asking befuddled questions. We're literally doing a public service to future versions of ourselves by juicing the google results for this post. For once, it's totally appropriate to upvote for visibility. Upvotes to the left.
cesarb 4 days ago 1 reply      
The lesson from this would be: when creating a network protocol, always start the stream or packet with a magic number, in both directions. If the magic number doesn't match, drop the packet or close the connection.

In fact, one could say that these are HTTP's magic numbers: 'HTTP/' for the response, and a few ('GET ', 'HEAD ', 'POST ', 'PUT ', and so on) for the request. IIRC, one trick web servers use to speed up parsing a request is to treat the first four bytes as an integer, and switch on its value to determine the HTTP method.

bgrainger 4 days ago 0 replies      
For completeness, we should add 542393671 (0x20544547) and 1347703880 (0x50545448), i.e., the little endian versions, to the list. Googling those numbers also turns up a lot of people with strange error messages (caused by deserializing "GET " or "HTTP" as a 32-bit integer).
hullo 4 days ago 0 replies      
I was personally expecting a piece about a baffling resurgence in the use of ICQ.
lziest 4 days ago 0 replies      
Previously, Go's TLS library will report "tls oversized record received with length 20527" when the remote address was not actually handling TLS connections. The magic number is simply because https://github.com/golang/go/issues/11111. Even better, when you google that error, you get all docker-related issues. Poor docker.
ebbv 4 days ago 2 replies      
From the title I was expecting this to be some math post about strange factors or something. I was really disappointed. Is the youth today really fascinated by merely translating ASCII strings into numeric translations?
Censored Photographs of FDRs Japanese Concentration Camps anchoreditions.com
447 points by jhull  3 days ago   327 comments top 39
hkt 3 days ago 4 replies      
Just another example of the extreme moral ambiguity of the West. We regularly ignore our own standards around giving people a fair trial when it suits the executive of the day or when some stupid condition applies ("race" in this case, geography and citizenship for eg Guantanamo bay). Not to mention "strategic" alliances with dictators down the years that have usually proven to be murderous. It is sad to think that the myth of our moral superiority has never been anything else.

Great photography, though.

clarkmoody 3 days ago 2 replies      
One of the many reasons to oppose war.

Others include:

+ Control of the economy, price controls, rationing, shortages

+ Suspension of most (all?) of the Bill of Rights

+ Wholesale slaughter of civilian populations abroad (so much for "all men are created equal ... with unalienable rights")

But perhaps the most nefarious is the idea that "we all pulled together and sacrificed to defeat the enemy." The government schools teach the children the greatness of our national effort, priming them to accept the destruction of liberty again when the next war comes. The state forever uses a victory in war to foster national pride and patriotism, as if the society made those choices to sacrifice willingly.

Speak out against the war? Prison. Fail to comply with economic controls? Prison. Don't want to fight after being drafted? Execution. Have friends who just happen to belong to the enemy country? You're a spy.

And then the icing on the cake is when the government steals the money to pay for the war through inflation and currency devaluation through the subsequent years.

katkattac 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken." General John L. DeWitt, head of the U.S. Armys Western Defense Command

Insane reasoning.

kofejnik 3 days ago 2 replies      
This was appalling and obviously sucked a lot for people who underwent such treatment; however as someone born in USSR I'd say that it was surprisingly humane (hot water not always available) compared to how people were treated in the USSR around the same period.

Case in point: Ukrainian Holodomor (genocide by famine) http://www.rferl.org/a/holodomor-ukraine/25174454.html

Edit: also, Chechen and Krimean Tatar deportations, and many many others

mgkimsal 3 days ago 7 replies      
"The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken."

THAT is disturbing "logic".

openasocket 3 days ago 2 replies      
The most absurd thing I read on here was that they were still subjected to the draft. So that Japanese couldn't be trusted to live in the United States without armed guards, but we can totally give them guns and send them off to fight the enemy?!
datalus 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there is any connection between the internment camps for Japanese people living in the US & the CO camps. Were they both run by the Selective Service? I know, at least, the CO camps were. The government had really botched handling COs in WWI, to the point that it created a lobby group that when WWII broke out they eventually were able to successfully pass the Burke-Wadsworth Bill with a section that created the Civilian Public Service.

As an aside, WWI conscientious objectors were sent to federal prisons. There they were starved, put into solitary, or physically abused, resulting in some ending up dead. WWII COs were instead sent to camps to do things like farm, fight forest fires, build equipment, etc. in place of service.

okreallywtf 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would be interested to hear the perspective of some of the MP's that had to guard these camps. It would seem like such a waste, not least of which because with the labor shortages and so many other young men serving overseas, to not only be stuck guarding a camp but to be guarding camps full of people who would otherwise be helping to fill those huge labor shortages and support the war effort.

I just finished reading The Girls of Atomic City[1] and its a really conflicting story because (totally discounting the moral implications of the atomic bomb) on the one hand it is an amazing story of ingenuity and hard work and everyone coming together with a common purpose (even if most people did not know what that purpose was), but then you find out about how the black workers were treated compared to the white workers and how they weren't even able to serve their country as equals.

If you have a selective memory or perception you can look back and be proud of a lot in our history but I think you have to fully appreciate our highs and lows to really know what kind of country we have.

ekianjo 3 days ago 4 replies      
For a country standing for Freedom and Human Rights, this kind of action is appalling. The quotes in the article from officials and three letters agencies stink of utter racism (even though no sabotage operations was ever undertaken).
ComputerGuru 3 days ago 1 reply      
I did not know the ACLU fought against the Japanese internment camps. Donation forthcoming.
hornbaker 3 days ago 6 replies      
Most of them were Japanese Americans, born in America. One wonders why German Americans weren't given similar treatment.
caio1982 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thank you for posting this, for real, all of these photographs are truly beautiful in their own way. That is, they remind me a lot about Sebastio Salgado's work on portraying human beings in such emotionally harsh conditions [1] (which in fact was quite possibly inspired by people like Dorothea). I don't know what is most disturbing in that page though, the stories behind the photos or the quotes... man, the quotes... :-(

[1] I cannot recommend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Salt_of_the_Earth_(2014_fi... enough if you are interested in this

king_magic 3 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone that doubts that America is capable of truly awful, horrifying things, well, guess what, we are.
emmelaich 3 days ago 0 replies      
Australia also interned Japanese as well as Germans and Italians during the wars.


The museum at Berrima is a good visit for people interested in war history.


cooper12 3 days ago 0 replies      
> They got to a point where they said, Okay, were going to take you out. And it was obvious that he was going before a firing squad with MPs ready with rifles. He was asked if he wanted a cigarette; he said no. You want a blindfold? No. They said, Stand up here, and they went as far as saying, Ready, aim, fire, and pulling the trigger, but the rifles had no bullets. They just went click. Ben Takeshita, recounting his older brothers ordeal at Tule Lake Relocation Center, where he was segregated for causing trouble


susan_hall 3 days ago 1 reply      
Regarding Muslims in the USA, I worry about those in government who might revive this line of thinking:

"The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken."

General John L. DeWitt, head of the U.S. Armys Western Defense Command

coldcode 3 days ago 1 reply      
A viper is nonetheless a viper wherever the egg is hatchedso a Japanese-American, born of Japanese parentsgrows up to be a Japanese, not an American. Los Angeles Times, February 2, 1942

Depressing to think this is going to happen again, in some way.

altendo 3 days ago 2 replies      
The recent speculation about a national registry for Muslims - and what that may look like - makes this even more poignant. The times may have changed, but fear and ignorance have not.
djschnei 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yay FDR! (And this guy still blesses the "Occupy Democrats" facebook page profile pic...)
DVassallo 3 days ago 1 reply      
The Nuremberg trials determined that "deportations and persecutions on racial grounds" were crimes against humanity [1]. I don't understand how FDR's executive order to deport Japanese-Americans to internment camps allowed the Nuremberg judges to punish Nazi members on this charge.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_principles#Principle...

Animats 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want the book from 2006, it's available on Amazon.[1] Most of this material is available on line, from the National Archives or the University of California.[2][3] It's not new.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Impounded-Dorothea-Censored-Japanese-...[2] https://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/military/ja...[3] https://calisphere.org/exhibitions/t11/jarda/

lottin 3 days ago 0 replies      
It may seem frivolous, but the first thing that strikes me when looking at these photos is how well dressed the ordinary people were back then, compared with nowadays when apparently everybody dresses in rags. I can't help but think at some point something went very wrong.
theptip 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.

Orwellian logic. I always found this suspension of rationality particularly disturbing when reading about the internment camps.

johndunne 3 days ago 2 replies      
With today's political climate I can't help but think that something like this could happen again.
blackbagboys 3 days ago 1 reply      
Putting the obligatory moral condemnation of our deluded and evil forbears to one side for a moment, one can't help but notice that our darkest and most shameful national mistakes are nevertheless vastly more humane and benign than those of comparable societies. I would hope that episodes such as this inspire in modern Americans, beyond pure disgust, a desire to identify and nurture the national characteristics that enforced such comparative restraint.
csomar 3 days ago 0 replies      
You know what is really disturbing? We don't know if such a thing can happen again today. It seems that the new US president got wiser, but what if he was real with his threats to people who believes in a particular religion.

I'm not too immersed in US politics, but how likely is such a move? How are they going to determine them (possible suspicion?) and what kind of reaction will the civil society have?

mordant 3 days ago 0 replies      
The interments didn't happen in a vacuum:


It's also interesting to note that J. Edgar Hoover was opposed to the interments, but FDR overruled him.

FrancoDiaz 3 days ago 1 reply      
The politics ban is lifted, and as usual, a complete degradation into the usual rhetoric.

People write a comment and think somebody's mind will be changed. Nope, not gonna happen. Just look at comments and replies.

It's just delusional thinking to think that HN is somehow above the fray when it comes to this stuff.

Koshkin 3 days ago 1 reply      
It is somewhat interesting that the term 'internment camps' is never used in the original quotes, it is rather 'concentration camps'. (It is possible that the latter term may have been used specifically in reference to the places of internment of the Japanese.)
relieferator 3 days ago 2 replies      
If this kind of crap has to be done it should be done right. Provide adequate housing, food, transportation. Treat humans as humans, not animals.
flexie 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great to see that the HN week of censoring politics is over.
cpr 3 days ago 3 replies      
GunboatDiplomat 3 days ago 2 replies      
brilliantcode 3 days ago 4 replies      
The Japanese pre-Cold War were treated unfairly but this pales in comparison to the many hell the Asian region have suffered under Japanese Imperialism.

At least they didn't get gassed like the Jews did. At least they didn't get bayonetted like the Chinese in Nanjing en masse in graves or a military unit performing live surgery on them or forcing hundreds of thousands of young Korean women to sexual slavery.

It didn't help that there was heavy animosity towards Japanese from Chinese & Korean Americans who felt compelled and directly/indirectly suffered as a result of Imperial Japan. There was probably deep desire for schadenfreude that contributed to Japanese Americans downfall.

But all that aside is clearly a small drop in the bucket. The view of Japanese and Asian Americans were explicitly racist. Nazi Germany was bad but the same elements of racial white superiority is a continuing theme even until the late 60s, where African American celebrities were forced to sleep in trailer parks while their white co-actors would lounge in swanky hotels (particularly angering Frank Sinatra).

There has been a miniscule effort from Reagan handing out 20k and an apology for the immense inter-generational trauma directly caused by the USG. There's little apology for Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims. This suggests to me a serious lack of reflection and it's evidenced by the fact that Muslim Americans today are facing a similar treatment.

I love the US but shit like this makes me pause for a bit. However, it still is nowhere near the atrocities committed by Imperial Japan & Nazi Germany. But it's curious to see the stark difference in the way Japanese and German Americans were treated. German Americans weren't sent to interment camps and had their assets seized in the same manner as the Japanese Americans.

All in all, a tragedy and showing that a melting pot we-are-all-americans is a flawed policy-where everyone is American but some less American than others. Canada is no better off as they also had Japanese interment camps and showed little remorse.

Sometimes I wonder as Asian Canadian, are we truly accepted by the mainstream North American society? It makes me question what the Canadian/American dream. I think about just how much easier it is when your skin color matches the mainstream crowd and you don't stand out or have any biases held against you. The Japanese interment camp is just one of those many items that raises existential questions of being in North America, and it's not all that clear whether it's in the rearview mirror seeing how Muslim Americans are being treated today in the West.

I still do think North America is relatively a very accepting and open place. It's hard to fathom such level of integration in Europe or Asia.

golemotron 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was no politics week.
mgkimsal 3 days ago 3 replies      
expected the 'notice' signs to be in japanese... ?

YES - I know that most of the folks were american-born-english speaking. But the paranoia against them was that they were all working for the Japanese govt and all secret agents and whatnot. Would have made more sense to try to present info in their "own language".

Stating that you couldn't read the Japanese writing would be PROOF that you are, in fact, a Japanese spy.

kmeade 3 days ago 2 replies      
FDR's Japanese Concentration Camps? FDR's?

That's a blatant attempt to simplify a historical event and manipulate the modern reader.

Please spare me another rehash of how mean we became during the GOD-DAMN SECOND WORLD WAR, when our country and culture were under REAL threat. Please spend that energy examining our modern forms of prejudice and crazy fearfulness.

Also -- Why does no one ever want to rehash the post-war US-Japan relationship? In just a few years we transitioned from vicious, no-holds-barred warfare to a cordial relationship that became delightfully friendly. It's an amazingly positive story that belies the sort of institutionalized racism that some people feel the need to believe in.

wehadfun 3 days ago 3 replies      
It seems uncomfortable, but how does it compare to how the Japanese treated the Chinese during the war?

Its easy to look back now and think America was terrible but lets not forget that World War Freaking 2 was happening at the time. If your beloved son just got killed at Perl Harbor you probably would have no issue with this at all. Hell you probably feel like it is not bad enough.

Its just like all these self righteous people who want to call Bush an idiot for the wars. If your Wife, kids, friends were under a pile of cement in downtown Manhattan on 9/11 you would probably have no issue with bombing the f* out of who ever you were told was responsible.

godson_drafty 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever looking at these pictures, it's worthwhile to consider how white (or any other color) Americans living in Japan were treated after war was declared.

Oh, that's right. There weren't any! The American government had some unique challenges in maximizing their chances of winning the war against a zealous and absolutely ruthless enemy (Japan). It would have been extremely irresponsible not to at least attempt to neutralize the threat posed by the population of first-generation citizens.

American authorities acted within their rights in making a reasonable effort to neutralize domestic saboteurs or collaborators by interning these people. Of course it's sad that it happened, but remember that battles such as Midway were won through superior intelligence and code-breaking. A single Japanese acting as a spy might have overturned that. It would have been very bad for east Asia had Japan won. They were committing numerous, documented war crimes and would have continued to do so.

UW engineers achieve Wi-Fi at 10,000 times lower power washington.edu
395 points by jonbaer  4 days ago   66 comments top 14
tux1968 4 days ago 5 replies      
The low-power devices don't actually generate any signal at all thus don't have to pay that expensive power cost. Instead a passive antenna is modulated to reflect or absorb ambient signal, the reflected signal conforms to traditional 802.11 packets. The ambient signals are created by a relatively high-powered device that is plugged into wall power.

Here is a 2 minute video showing an early prototype of their work from 2014:


ajhc112 4 days ago 2 replies      
This article is a few months old. The technology is now being commercialized by the same authors, as Jeeva Wireless: http://www.jeevawireless.com/
sgentle 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if you could use this technique to make a completely passive wi-fi device. Ie, no battery or plug of any kind, just using the power of the wifi emitter. I guess it would be similar to passive NFC, but at a longer range and driven by a separate device from the one that does the receiving. Or would the power requirements be too high?

Edit: I just realised that the earlier prototype video from the comments indicates that's the goal, but it's not mentioned in this more recent one. Instead they just talk about higher power efficiency. I wonder if that means they tried it and it wasn't feasible.

Edit 2: Aha, got it. There are three separate projects:

1. Ambient Backscatter (2013): no external power, no base station (uses ambient frequencies like TV), not wifi, low data rate (1Kbps) and short range (<1 metre) [http://abc.cs.washington.edu/]

2. Wi-Fi Backscatter (2014): no external power, base station, kinda wifi (encodes data in the CSI/RSSI metadata and presence/absence of packets), low data rate (1Kbps) and slightly less short range(<3 metres) [http://iotwifi.cs.washington.edu/]

3. Passive Wi-Fi (2016): low external power, base station, actual wifi (802.11b packets), high data rate (11Mbps) and long range (<30 metres) [http://passivewifi.cs.washington.edu/]

MrBra 3 days ago 5 replies      
I invented a coffee machine which works using 10000 times less power: it works by deferring the actual coffee making to another machine you plug into another wall socket.
Namrog84 4 days ago 2 replies      
10,000 times lower power, but achieving speeds up to 11Mbps

Being named passive wifi. Quite neat and could be useful for IoT considering also approx 100 ft distance

vmarsy 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is great research!

10,000 times lower power is only for the "passive wifi" devices, but these passive wifi devices require a "heavy-lifting and power-consuming plugged-in device" nearby.

Assuming that device consumes no more than a traditional wifi device, then the overall system would consume:

 [usual consumption of 1 wifi device] + [# of passive devices] * [usual consumption] / 10000
So, if we want to calculate per passive device it would consume around

 [usual consumption of 1 wifi device] / [# of passive devices]
In other words, the more of these devices, the better. Too few devices might not offset the plugged-in device energy cost.

Scaevolus 4 days ago 2 replies      
It looks like this can only transmit, not actually receive and interpret data-- and if you listen carefully, this is the kind of applications they're suggesting.

That's good for sensor nodes reporting status, but not so good for interactivity.

Animats 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea. Things like this generally need a bigger antenna, since they're getting power from it. It probably means the base station has to run at high power most of the time, rather than throttling down for short range transmissions. If it went all the way to full wireless power, like some RFID tags, it would be more useful.

High data rate capability probably doesn't matter. Anything that's receiving or sending a substantial amount of data is probably using more power doing something with it than sending it.

tonyplee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Love to see someone makes watch/heart rate monitor with this technology that last months/years or maybe forever with tiny solar panel like what's on solar calculator.
amazon_not 3 days ago 0 replies      
It would be great if this could be used in (new) mobile phones and tablets in a low power mode when you don't need high data rates.
omegaworks 4 days ago 1 reply      
>Now, paper towels, coffee or sugar can communicate their status using WiFi.

Internet of edibles?

God help us all :)

yuhong 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder why there isn't a WEP-like protocol using AES-CCMP. (of course, without the problems of WEP)
maranatha84 3 days ago 0 replies      
old news. I guess I remember this news in February here at HN
sandworm101 4 days ago 2 replies      
This seem another wifi achievement only replicable in a desert environment, during a solar maximum, on the dark side of the moon, while holding a black cat.

If you are using a "wifi" antenna then that antenna is going to be picking up all sorts of little things. Normally these aren't much of an issue, but at these sensitivities suddenly that phone down the hall, the one not running at a 10e-3 power setting, is a real issue.

Also, February 2016?

What Makes a Senior Software Developer? professorbeekums.com
494 points by beekums  1 day ago   211 comments top 57
marktangotango 1 day ago 7 replies      
I also had the pleasure of arguing for a team members promotion once. The domain our team of 5 worked in was pretty challenging (heavy algorithmic stuff). I spent a year trying to train up my team, and although they improved, I still felt like I had to do the hard stuff myself. With the exception of one developer. For example if a project was particularly hairy or the time frame was too short, it was either me or him doing it. And I couldn't give him all the hard stuff so I ended doing a lot more coding than I had time for.

I went to my boss and said, X is carrying my team, he does more than any two other developers combined. He needs a raise, I can't lose him! And he got it.

To me that's what senior boils down, they can do the hard stuff, they keep the ball moving forward, and not get bogged down in the irrelevant stuff.

sytse 23 hours ago 7 replies      
At GitLab we have the following criteria to be a senior:

Senior Developers are experienced developers who meet the following criteria:

Are able to write modular, well-tested, and maintainable code

Know a domain really well and radiate that knowledge

Begins to show architectural perspective

Leads the design for medium to large projects with feedback

from other engineers

Leaves code in substantially better shape than before

Fixes bugs/regressions quickly

Monitors overall code quality/build failures

Creates test plans

Provides thorough and timely code feedback for peers

Able to communicate clearly on technical topics

Keeps issues up-to-date with progress

Helps guide other merge requests to completion

Helps with recruiting


eaq 1 day ago 2 replies      
I like the table that 18F uses to distinguish between the federal pay scale levels[0]. I.e. Comparisons like

> Your supervisor reviews your work from an overall standpoint to ensure its effectiveness in meeting requirements


> The results of your work are considered technically authoritative and can be used to establish best practices

0: https://pages.18f.gov/joining-18f/pay-grades/

delegate 18 hours ago 3 replies      
> You follow your gut. The problem is that this approach can be prone to favouritism.

What's wrong with favouritism ? If a person does his job well and helps you (the manager) do your job better AND you get along well - that's the silver bullet right there.

Like it or not, this is how groups of humans tend to coagulate. All the other considerations are secondary.

Promote the ones you personally like (avoid idiots of course). This how you build a 'gang' of friends and you get promoted yourself.

"Moral Mazes" is a great book which explains the nitty gritty details of corporate power structures (warning: I quit my job after I read this book!). It all boils down to personal relationship between people in an organisation. Technical skills and everything else are complementary but not mandatory (except geniuses - maybe in 0.1% of the cases).

"Corporate confidential" is another interesting book, which is more about the HR side of things, but it also gives some pointers about how teams are assembled

muse900 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone with 5+ years of writing production code should be a Senior Software developer.

Then obviously you can say he is an average developer or a very good developer or a genius or whatever. I don't really get why developers should have different qualifications than other fields.

If you are working e.g in finance for more than 5 years you'll be prolly a senior something, what does it matter? Of course then someone can evaluate how good you are or not at what you do but thats it.

Now what makes a senior developer? Well someone that can take on a project and complete it from start to finish, for me is a senior developer or developer or whatever you wanna call it. Its very vague question, usually if you understand the whole lifecycle of a program and can understand the bigger picture then you are a senior software developer.

franze 1 day ago 3 replies      
Junior Dev: knows how to do stuff ... in a way, kinda. Hopefully asks a lot of questions.

Mid. Dev: Knows Best Practices and how to implement them. Knows what questions to ask.

Experienced Dev: Understands why best practices are best practices. Can give insightfull answers.

Senior Dev: Pushes the boundaries of best practices and when to ignore them. Questions him/herself a lot.

And then there are D. Knuth level developers which I still have to figure out.

alistproducer2 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm dealing with something similar to what the article talks about. I've been with my company for 3 years. I wa shired as a "new college hire." I am ~6 years older than a typical grad and had worked in the industry prior to joining my company.

Ever the course of my time I've:

1. Learned C# in order to rewrite an app I wrote in Java2. Self-organized a team to implement a UI in HTML/CSS using a JavaScript tool I wrote myself that allowed different team members to work on components a layout and have the partials dynamically reconstructed.3. wrote a connection pool class in C# from scratch that has been in production for 2 years without a hiccup.

The list goes on. I suppose I've been rewarded by my manager with substantial raises and he always says he notices my work but in 3 years the only responsibility I've had was when I took it on myself to bring coworkers together to implement the UI (which we delivered in 2 weeks as opposed to the 3 months they had blocked for it).

Am I wrong to feel slighted when far less capable people have been promoted to leadership positions? My boss does stuff like take me to events where I'll meet big wigs, but I don't care about that stuff. I just want to be in charge of producing good, maintainable code.

somecallitblues 1 day ago 1 reply      
TLDR: "To me, what makes a senior developer is when you can trust them to get things done without you."

This is a good conclusion. I've seen people write some amazing code, implement innovative solutions and build something really solid, but they simply can't take the customer's requirements and run with them. I have to explain every single requirement in great detail.

chasenlehara 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The other problem with checklists is that they only work well if you have quantifiable metrics for being a senior developer.

Checklists can combine qualitative and quantitative data in this scenario too: when judging the experience of a developer, you can incorporate how many times someone has displayed a quality in your checklist.

I really like Matt Briggs take on senior developers: http://mattbriggs.net/blog/2015/06/01/the-role-of-a-senior-d...

Once you get a good feel for what qualities youre looking for, you can measure how many times someone displays those qualities. When youre hiring, youre depending on the interviewee to show theyve demonstrated those qualities; when someones been at your company for a while, you might depend on their team members to confirm whether theyre showing the qualities youre looking for.

I think the article is right in saying that its mostly subjective, but that doesnt mean you cant break up those subjective feelings into smaller parts to judge them better.

xamuel 1 day ago 2 replies      
An intermediate developer knows how to abstract things.

A senior knows when not to.

scotty79 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I became senior developer when my financial expectations didn't fit into regular developer salary bracket at the company that wanted to hire me.

No one has offered me lower position ever since.

thefastlane 1 day ago 1 reply      
moving beyond entry-level is about learning to do your job without any handholding. this usually doesn't take that long.

but any title progression beyond that depends on getting good at navigating the politics of your work environment. you won't get far without people skills. banks actually do a good job of mapping out what this looks like for analysts coming in, in terms of leadership skills etc expected for different titles. technical organizations, however, tend to leave their staff in the dark about this sort of thing -- which is a political move in itself, i suppose.

brightball 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Ability to weigh non-technical factors in technical decisions, such as time cost, cost of technical debt, potential risk and business need.

And the critical skill to go along with all of that is the ability to communicate those factors to different groups of people as needed.

m0llusk 1 day ago 1 reply      
The sombrero indicates a senior developer.
cerrelio 1 day ago 1 reply      
These modifiers are always a touchy point with me. They aren't applied consistently and imply greater experience and ability, when they often signify time spent at a company or political acumen. Over my 15 years in engineering, I've seen several engineers without senior or lead titles who provide more value than those with the modifier.

I prefer "staff engineer" for engineers who are capable of producing useful, working systems with a team. "Lead" should not be a modifier to a title, just an indicator who makes final technical decisions on a team.

On my resume I only have "software engineer." If I have to negotiate a higher salary after an offer, I point to my accomplishments and not my title.

drawkbox 1 day ago 0 replies      
- Someone that can get hard things done and ship, preferably multiple times.

- Someone that can build products that run after ship and be maintained.

- Someone that can take something from start to finish and make it better.

- Someone that also knows about business and product side and that is the ultimate product not just the tech.

- Someone that has been developing long enough to know that good ideas and input/feedback come from customers, team members and stakeholders.

adamlett 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The article fails to address the fundamental question: What is the purpose of the title? Without answering that, any definition of what makes a senior developer is meaningless.

In my own experience, having worked in consulting, the answer to the question is that the title enables the company to charge a higher hourly rate for a particular developer, with the client's understanding that this developer's time will be worth more, because she is more experienced. If the client insists that a project should include a certain number of "senior developers", and if the consultancy is short that amount, then magically the most experienced junior developers will find the title bestowed upon them.

Outside of consulting, I have a hard time seeing any legitimate purpose to the title, unless it is formally attached to a bump in salary.

wellpast 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This post self-admittedly fumbles as do many efforts at trying to tackle this question. The question is wrong: What makes a Senior Software Dev? That's a title, subject to the vagaries, needs, politics, and culture of a specific business or organization.

We can and should be more precise. The real question is, what are the professional skill sets? And what do they look like at varying levels of competency?

This post reminds me of the famous Joel Spolsky post from over a decade ago where he says the Senior Engineer is one who (1) is smart; and (2) gets things done. That's all you need is the gist. But these should be the table stakes, not the criteria. There's a whole bunch of acquired skills that are missing in these kind of answers.

It's pretty easy to be smart and get things done. It takes years of practice to not make a mess of your work. To not build a money pit of a house whose plumbing is leaking behind the walls, whose structure is buckling. But the market is so short on these kind of professionals with real skills that we feel lucky if we've found one who meets this paltry criteria of smart, gets shit done, makes me not stress when I go on vacation...

blindhippo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A couple metrics I've come to look for in seniors:

- knows when to push back on stakeholders/management, especially on technology decisions

- knows when to adhere to industry best practices, and when to ignore it because it doesn't apply to the domain/problem at hand

- fights, strongly, against cargo-cult programming

- actively seeks to improve the knowledge and skills of his/her team members

- delivers solid, reliable, working code that can be trusted to work when they say it works

- is able to work effectively with peers who they disagree with

Promoting anyone to the senior title when they aren't remotely close to the bar is damaging to the team and to the company overall. It's especially damaging since if you promote the wrong seniors, they will effectively put a lock on the capabilities of your team, preventing team members they disagree with from achieving the same title, leading to a talent drain.

bitwize 1 day ago 0 replies      
Look for the gray hair and the world-weary look in their eyes.
pjc50 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I got promoted en passant in my first job, three months after graduating. My employer was putting together a consultancy proposal including a list of team members and decided to inflate our seniority...
amcrouch 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I have always worked along the lines of most people here and the article. A Senior Developer is one that has amassed not only solid development experience across multiple projects but also has a solid knowledge of your product code base. Someone that can just get stuff done and leads by example. Applies best practices and is pragmatic and always add's value to the code base.

I agree that titles are handed out too easily however, developers are partly to blame here. I have held numerous titles over my career but they are meaningless. Experience is built over years for learning and applying your trade and for those that want to continue doing that where do they go after "senior"? If developer's were not so desperate for the title then this discussion and the questions being raised would be moot and we'd all be back coding.

mcv 20 hours ago 0 replies      
A senior developer doesn't even have to be a great programmer. They need to be good of course; they need to write code that works and is suitable for production, but I've heard of plenty of excellent, talented coders who can solve complex problems and rapidly stamp out a prototype, but can't finish the job, and end up with badly tested, hard to maintain code that still needs someone else to finish up the loose ends.

On the other hand, a friend of mine recently retrained to become a programmer, joined a startup where he's clearly the least experienced programmer, but he is now their lead developer, because he has the right attitude. He's honest (unlike their previous lead who left a mess) and he listens to to and learns from other developers, and he can make sure the code is actually finished in a way that doesn't fall apart when the customer pokes at it. He may not be the fastest or most knowledgeable, but he does deliver what's needed, and ultimately, that's what counts.

latchkey 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a huge fan of the blog post as it left things in a nebulous state.

The thought of a senior person being someone who finishes tasks on his/her own time seems like a bad metric in the world of pair programming. As a senior developer, I prefer to get input from all of my coworkers rather than work alone. Two or more minds is always better than one, no matter how senior you are.

The thought of someone taking on more responsibilities than the rest also seems like a bad metric. A junior person has the potential to do just as much as a senior person. It can also create an environment where you are encouraged to work hard and not smart.

In software engineering, there is always 10+ ways to solve a problem, but there is typically only one or two actual correct solutions. I like to think of a senior person as the person who can evaluate all the options quickly and chooses the right one. This is a skill that takes a lot of experience to master.

limeyx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
To me, the chain from developer to senior to lead to principal etc is mostly driven by the desire to change from being "reactive" to "proactive" and offloading other people (higher and parallel etc) in the chain.
ronreiter 22 hours ago 2 replies      
For us, a Senior Software Engineer is someone who can finish tasks on his own and on time, and make good architectural decisions for his tasks.
MPiccinato 14 hours ago 0 replies      
As always it depends on the organization or team.

I have worked on teams where the title was nothing more than a title and didn't relate to their skill level or work ethic.

One of my favorite posts on the subject comes from John Allspaw: http://www.kitchensoap.com/2012/10/25/on-being-a-senior-engi...

An important part of the equation is a companies engineering structure. Camille Fournier has a great set of slides about creating structure earlier rather than later and why it is needed: http://www.slideshare.net/CamilleFournier1/how-to-go-from-st...

_ao789 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I have found it to be often nothing more than just a title unfortunately. So many developers I work with have the 'senior' title but struggle to do actual development, often spending most of their time talking or 'pair programming' which has completely put me off the concept as they hide behind others helping them all the time but claim they are 'senior' purely because the hiring manager filled that gap. Pathetic.
jonstewart 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I disagree with the article. Perhaps I'm too strict of a grader, but a developer who meets the qualitative criterion here--essentially, a developer you don't have to manage much--is not yet a senior developer. She is on her way, but to me the distinguishing factor is the extent to which the developer can mentor junior developers.

If a developer meets the criterion of TFA, then she helps her manager grow the team linearly, as the manager can then focus more on others. But if a developer can effectively mentor junior developers, then the team can scale. This is not to say that a senior developer must be a "manager", but a senior developer not only understands the importance of craft and can practice it, she helps apprentices appreciate the craft as well.

roysvork 20 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a meaningless term. Senior implies 'qualified' which is not an end-state. Developers are always learning, our journey does not end.
hunterloftis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Nobody wants junior engineers (or: get "senior" in your title as soon as possible):


lmcnish14 1 day ago 1 reply      
They'll tell you.
raz32dust 22 hours ago 1 reply      
The question "What Makes a Senior Software Developer?" would only make sense given the context of what grades of engineers are present in a company. The definition will be different for a company with just 3 levels compared to one with 6 levels. I side with more levels. This is because, while we may argue that a "senior" engineer should have these 10 qualities, an engineer with 6 of those qualities is still better than one with just 2 of those qualities. So it makes sense to have the engineer with 6 qualities at a higher level than one with 2 of those qualities.

The question then becomes what are these N traits of a good engineer. The whole process of promotion and "senior"ity is irreleva