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1
Stories that Hacker News removes from the front page sangaline.com
1228 points by foob  15 hours ago   301 comments top 56
1
dang 13 hours ago 15 replies      
The story the OP is complaining about was flagged by users. Moderators never saw it (edit: wrong, we put 2010 on the title by mistake, see downthread [1]). Had we seen it, we would have turned off the flags. There's a long tradition of people looking at HN data and posting about it. Edit #2: since the 2010 thing was our mistake (an accident of sleep deprivation by the looks of it!) I've invited foob to repost the original article using the second-chance mechanism described at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11662380 and the links there. I think he's planning to do that tomorrow.

The [flagged] annotation only shows up on stories that are heavily flagged, i.e. enough to kill the post. User flags have downweighting effects long before that.

Story rank on HN is determined by upvotes, flags, software, and moderators. Moderators downweight stories to the degree that they don't fit the site guidelines. This doesn't happen by upvotes alone, unfortunately; certain stories routinely get tons of upvotes regardless of how good they are for HNe.g. anything sensational, indignant, or meta. If we didn't have a compensating factor, those stories would dominate the front page every day and HN would no longer follow its primary rule: "anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity". Of course that means HN is subject to our interpretation of what counts as "intellectual curiosity". HN has always worked that way; before we did it, pg did, and he trained us to do it so it would work as before. There's no way around the need for moderator intervention on a site like HNthe clue is in the word 'moderator' itself: left to its own devices the system runs to extremes and it needs a negative feedback loop to dampen it.

When YC is involved, we do this less than usual as a matter of principle. When HN itself is involved it's a little bit different, because the hypnotic power of all things meta causes HN upvoters to go into an upvoting trance. Meta is basically crack, so we routinely downweight such postsbut only so much, to compensate for the crack effect. That's what I've done here, which is why the post is now at #7 rather than #1. It should probably be lower, but I want to illustrate the point that we intervene less, not more, when judgments about ourselves are involved. As a further example, a moderator actually turned off software penalties and user flags on this post this morning, which is probably why it went to #1 in the first place. That's more than I would have done but it shows how seriously we take that principle.

None of this is new information, btw. I've posted about it plenty over the years and am always happy to answer questions.

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20downweight&sort=byDa...

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20countervail&sort=byD...

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20constitutional&sort=...

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20curate&sort=byPopula...

1. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13858850

2
falcolas 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Obligatory pimping of a tool I use (not mine, though): http://hckrnews.com/

Shows stories which have hit the front page ever, in the order of their posting. If it's currently on the front page, the link is orange. If it's not, it's black. It's very interesting to watch how frequently highly upvoted and commented posts turn black, while their temporal peers remain.

Anecdotally, there appears to be trend of positive/neutral news about YC companies remaining on the front page the longest, the latest shiny technology sticks around for awhile longer than average, and pretty much any negative news disappears almost instantly.

For example, as of this instant in time, there is an article about Angular2 which remains on the front page while more highly upvoted and commented articles about laptop security, AT&T discrimination, and a Nintendo Switch CVE discussion are all gone from the front page.

3
laurent123456 15 hours ago 6 replies      
As much as I like HN, I'm not a big fan of the secrecy around moderator interventions - what gets censored, what posts get re-titled, etc.

I can understand they might want to keep the ranking algorithm and anti-spam techniques secret, but stuff that are manually censored by a moderator should be indicated as such, maybe by some automatic message like "This post was removed due to [reason]".

Some websites manage to fight spam while remaining reasonably transparent (eg. StackExchange, where pretty much everything is documented - flags, closing reasons, edits, etc.).

4
hardwaresofton 15 hours ago 6 replies      
The site is being crushed by traffic right now -- but without reading the article, I've also found that some stories that I thought were important that were scrubbed from HN's front page just about as soon as I saw it (when I doubled back to read the comments)...

While I realize I'm not entitled to explanations, some transparency would be appreciated. Maybe it could even be automatic, whenever a mod removed something forcibly from front, they could leave a comment and it'd show up on some page?

[EDIT] - After reading the article, if a mod did indeed take down the post because it discussed reverse engineering the rank algorithm, I think that's pretty naive. Security through obscurity isn't a thing, and the better response is just to make a better algorithm, not try and suppress knowledge about it.

I say this naively myself, as I've never had to maintain a ranking algorithm with these many users who depend on it (or any at all for that matter), but surely the problem isn't intractable?

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ploggingdev 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I can comment on the "Books that Aaron Swartz read, loved and hated" story. OP posted that link to HN and it made the front page. The story was soon flagged by the community (people viewed it as Amazon affiliate spam) and it fell off the rankings. When the moderator dang noticed that the story had been flagged, he decided to restore it (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13840869). So yeah, that explains why this particular story fell off the front page quickly but does not have any [flagged] or [dupe] tags attached now.

I've learned that it's best not to jump to conclusions based on what you think is true (however sound your analysis might be). Always ask the other side(s) for an explanation. In this case, you could have sent an email to the mods asking for an explanation. If you find their response unsatisfactory, go ahead and write a post explaining why.

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johnlbevan2 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Other theories:

- This is a bug / happens randomly; you just noticed it because you were looking (i.e. as you analyse this data); all the posts it's happened to before and since went unnoticed. That's supported by the evidence of your analysis; most of the results don't look any different to other posts.

- It's not the link, but the related activity. Presumably if you're running analysis on HN data, there are a lot of HN requests coming from your machine. Maybe any posts made by your IP are therefore treated as suspect (i.e. the sort of protection you'd expect to avoid automated posting or upvoting... just without that extra sophistication). Perhaps the other posters had something similar... Would be good to see if any of those posts were by the same author; as that may add weight to this theory.

- Other variables... Maybe the algorithm has rules which cause this behaviour under some conditions; e.g. posts made the previous day (not 24 hours ago; but rather before midnight UTC / something like that) lose weight when midnight hits; so posts made moments before suddenly lose enough score to knock them off the top spot; whilst those which had more score before midnight, or were posted just after survive... Many other possibilities such as this may exist; and we'd only know by looking at those variables in the data... What else is common about the posts which are in your post's club vs those which aren't?

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Sir_Cmpwn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
A few months ago I wrote a tool that scrapes HN and detects moderator activity (and provides interesting stats in general). I posted it twice and it didn't receive much attention, and the database storage requirements starting to get out of hand, so I killed it. It seems like an appropriate time to bring it up again. The source code is here:

https://github.com/SirCmpwn/hn-transparency

Some screenshots:

https://sr.ht/WBEt.png

https://sr.ht/30Tv.png

If there's interest, I can put this back up and start pruning old data so it's more maintainable. The data I collected shows a lot of questionable moderator activity and a lot of abuse of flagging. I'm also unhappy with HN sending all comments on paywalled posts (which are against the rules) to /dev/null, when they're usually at least willing to talk about things.

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iplaw 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I didn't understand why the guy's PayPal story was removed from the front page -- the one about PayPal seizing a $40k USD balance without warning, allegedly due to a 2% chargeback rate over several years of doing business and hundreds of thousands of dollars in successful transactions.

I thought that the point of HN was auto-moderation? Perhaps now that HN has seen great increases in popularity, the quality of content has to be more carefully controlled, lest the quality of posts on the HN front page slowly enter a death spiral towards that of reddit.

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that. George Carlin

9
minimaxir 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Historically, the mods have not killed a post for discussing Hacker News meta, although on occasion they apply a penalty to meta submissions. (the original post only had 32 upvotes, which is enough to get swallowed)

Indeed, HN recently allowed a post that advocated gaming the system because it encouraged debate: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13676362

A conspiracy theory, even backed by data, is not the best application of Occam's Razor.

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laktak 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Don't forget that HN tries to detect vote fraud.

So some articles might simply disappear because the OP asked too many friends for upvotes or because of false positives.

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moomin 15 hours ago 2 replies      
It's very interesting to note the number one pulled story: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13741276.

If you take a look at the comments, it's theorized there that the story got pulled not because of moderator action, but because people abused the flagging mechanism. Given the content, and given the principal person under discussion, this seems pretty likely to me.

12
yAnonymous 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The main problem I have with this is that similar to Reddit, HN is advertised as open-minded, free-talking place by the team themselves.

When you then secretly censor stuff, because it doesn't fit your agenda, be it politically or financially, it makes you look even more like a hypocrite.

Branding yourself liberal while employing fascist methods (censoring and banning) seems to be a trend, not only on the internet.

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ifdefdebug 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The list of stories the author claims "have moderator fingerprints on them" does not seem to have any kind of common pattern at all which would support such a claim.

Edit: to be clear, with common pattern I mean the topics of the submission (obviously they have one common pattern, which is dropping out of the front page quickly). They do not reveal some secret agenda moderators might follow or something like that.

14
probably_wrong 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Apparently I'm going to go against the flow to say that I'm perfectly fine with the way HN is moderated. In fact, I think the moderation is probably the reason why I come here. If magazines, TV shows, and journals have editors, it seems completely natural to me that a quality website should have one too.

More often than not, keeping a community from turning into 4chan requires some heavy moderation (reddit's AskHistorians comes to mind, with entire threads nuked at once), and it's often a thankless job. I'm happy that HN managed to keep it's overall spirit, and I thank the mod team for that.

15
Sean1708 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think I understand your figures correctly, because none of them (except the last) seem to show any significant drop. There's a drop of about 10 positions in one of them but I wouldn't call that particularly significant, and it even climbs back up after twenty minutes or so.
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j_s 13 hours ago 0 replies      
http://hnrankings.info is a nice UI to see this happening in real time.

Here is an example of three submissions, two flagged enough to get kicked off the front page (for poor use of sources on a contentious topic) but not get marked as 'flagged':

http://hnrankings.info/13714928,13714987,13715552/

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kens 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wrote in detail in 2013 about how the Hacker News algorithm works and the penalties that can drop stories from the front page. My analysis was based on reverse engineering the algorithm from observed behavior and comparing with the published Arc code. This latest analysis seems kind of reinventing the wheel.

http://www.righto.com/2013/11/how-hacker-news-ranking-really...

Interestingly, my 2013 article also suddenly dropped off the front page. Apparently it somehow triggered "voting ring detection" and was penalized. (I'm not part of a voting ring of course.)

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euphoria83 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I had, in the past, found that a post was deleted. I was so enraged by that action that I had abandoned HN for almost a year. It wasn't my post. But, I found the action arbitrary. I do understand that it is important to keep the spirit of HN and actively discourage posts that might take HN the same way as infinite other internet forums. Since the guidelines cannot be clearly interpreted, there will always be some controversy about what should or should not have been removed. This case is different though, because the post was down-voted out by the community.
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mirimir 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Conversely, I've wondered how some stories (e.g., https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13857880) hit the top of the front page with only a few points.

Edit: Thanks all. I get it now :)

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PleaseHelpMe 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> The stories that Hacker News removes from the front page (sangaline.com)

is : http://sangaline.com/post/reverse-engineering-the-hacker-new...

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Paul-ish 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Could it be that moderators see things we can't, eg vote manipulation and astro-turfing?
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eli 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I find this sort of conspiratorial meta complaint boring and (IMHO) off topic. I didn't flag it, but I'd understand if others did.
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leot 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been wondering what happened to this story, which was doing better than most but didn't appear anywhere on first 15 hn pages.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12557020

https://twitter.com/trottiest/status/779036903517491200

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Jerry2 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting. Another aspect of HN that I've noticed are stories that are not censored but actually promoted. Some time ago, I've noticed that some stories were few hours old and had 4 votes yet they were in top 15 position on HN. I never understood how that's possible without some kind of manipulation.

I've collected some of these anomalies. Peruse them and analyze them in this album:

https://imgur.com/a/6OvnE

Maybe OP can find a pattern in these.

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crablar 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why we are working on Mineranker, an open source newsfeed and ranking platform: https://github.com/francisypl/mineranker

If you are interested in more open newsfeed ranking systems, check it out.

27
jonathanstrange 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty happy with the way HackerNews handles posts and can only recommend to them to aggressively moderate in the future, too.

There are way to many toxic users, trolls, shills, astro-turfers, voting rings, paid advertising, political organisations, disinformation campaigns, and other 'special interest' parties on the Net to be able to do without strong moderation.

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aaronhoffman 11 hours ago 0 replies      
@foob, thought you might be interested in this "visual front page" of HN https://www.sizzleanalytics.com/HackerNews
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omouse 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Mention "unions" or "professionalism" or anything that involves giving the actual value that a developer produces to the developer and the story will disappear very quickly. Maybe that's because of the mods or maybe it's because of the flagging by readers who have the pro-state-capitalist argument so ingrained in them. Whatever it is, it biases Hacker News in a bad way.
30
UhUhUhUh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting discussion, and therefore, logically, interesting post. Oddly, I begin to wonder whether a variation on a bet system wouldn't be useful. Flagging or up-voting don't come with any cost attached. The only current cost I can see is related to pissing off a group or sub-group, which is not conducive to productive exchange. Just a thought from someone who has never flagged anything.
31
aaronchall 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me that the stories (all headlines read as controversial, as do the texts that I dug into) are removed due to flagging by users.

It would seem to me that if you're looking to grind your political axe, this is not the best place to do so.

32
paulpauper 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It's probably a combination of flagging and other factors. Obvious the mods aren't going to want to make their algos transparent. Flagging removes story completely but perhaps mods have the power to bump a story off the page but without flagging it.
33
anotheryou 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know why some posts have a rel="nofollow" in the link? (not just these no-comment ycombinator promotional posts)

I asked this before and a mod said I should ask again via mail, but never got a response from hn@ycombinator.com.

34
grimmdude 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Good writeup. Ironic that this story is #1 on the front page now.
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threepipeproblm 14 hours ago 0 replies      
>> Thats about 2.1% so its not a particularly common occurrence but it is happening on a daily basis.

I would say that 1/50 front page stories being buried is particularly common.

36
kristopolous 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I had something that was removed from the front page of reddit and hn nearly simultaneously in 2011 - and I hadn't posted it on either, it was just my content. I saw it in the logs; some giant cliff.

I've always wondered if there's cross collaboration since then.

37
pvaldes 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Some of those links are closed for voting for some reason.It seems that you can upwote the rest (including this "Stories that HN removes..." thread) but the vote count will not change anyway. Maybe is just a bug, maybe not. I don't know.

Updated: Probably just a bandwidth issue. After 20 minutes the vote count is changing again.

38
DanBC 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This blog suggest that moderator action must have been necessary, but seems to say that flags are unimportant.

I disagree. Just a few flags can cause a story to drop off the front page.

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c3534l 13 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a subreddit for pages that get deleted from their front page. There's often good discussion around those pages and it's usually for a good reason they were removed. But sometimes there does appear to be real bias. It'd be nice if I could see what sort of stuff is getting removed and be able to discuss why.
40
timthelion 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I've had one post removed from the top spot on the front page:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5576041

I origionally posted with the title "For a moment, I thought bing was down" or something (I don't remember the origional title). The title was later changed to:

Title: "Bing doesn't support SSL"https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5576041

Later, the story was was removed entirely after I wrote the following comment:

" Actually, it's been like this a really long time. I just noticed, that HN stories which have nondescript titles fare better, so I decided to conduct a little experiment. 1st spot on the front page seems to confirm my hypothesis."https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5576342

I certainly understand why the mods removed the "story", but at the same time, I felt that the discussion of the "non-descript title bias" would have been an interesting one to have.

41
qznc 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Afaik there is a mechanism to remove flame bait articles. If a link gets too many comments too quickly, it gets removed.
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pooptasticpoop 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad I saw this here. HN has some of the strangest draconian moderation of any website i've ever visited.

Though, i'm continually driven back here because of the insanely high quality of the comments here.

43
DanBC 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If you notice something weird happening with your submissions you should email the mods. They're happy to explain what's going on and to have a look to see if the flags are fair.
44
intralizee 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Transparency is nice but most social news sites don't care for it.

If there was a middle ground it probably would be a section where you can specifically view threads that were removed from view.

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turc1656 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I would like to see a monthly version of this post, similar to the recurring "Who's Hiring" that happens every month.
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brudgers 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A useful data point missing from the article would have been the moderator's response to an email inquiring as to the story's history.
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65827 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Was it critical of Google or one of the other mega corps? I've noticed oftentimes info that is disappears quickly on here.
48
wookoouk 14 hours ago 0 replies      
My universities firewall blocked the link :(
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golemotron 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I predict that one of the biggest issues in tech over the next few years will be 'silent moderation.' Tech companies like to present the illusion that it is all 'just an algorithm' but that is deceptive.

Silent curation and other practices like shadow-bannning are unethical and symptomatic of a mentality that seeks to avoid confrontation. If things go well we'll see more transparency over time. A good start for a site like HN would be to create another page that shows just the titles of the submissions rejected (no links). People can google for those titles if they are interested.

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jacquesm 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice article. Not so nice to rip the HN comments and display them below the article.
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codr4life 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Hacker News is nothing but a censored echo chamber, pretending otherwise at this point is pure ignorance. Anything that doesn't fit the narrative will be beaten down or removed.
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logicallee 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This is called "burying" and it is unremarkable. (This story is likely to be buried.)

The stories that are buried are not appropriate for the front page. The reason you come to Hacker News is because it has a better front page, with better comments under it, than other places. You experience the benefit of this editorial intervention each and every day.

I've had a story buried as it was gaining a lot of traction very quickly: this one. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11920431

The quality of the comments was inordinately low and it didn't look like it would be improving, which is the reason it was buried.

No complaints from me around this. You can email the moderators if you want to know their reasoning. (I'm not one.)

People here need to understand and be thankful for the extraordinary and ongoing work that the moderators do every single day to keep this place an appropriate place for interesting, deep discussion along the editorial lines chosen. It is not a democracy (see: reddit) but I find the moderators generally extremely fair.

As far as I understand the moderators bury tons of stories (often political, link-bait, etc), which do however get traction quickly until they do so. It is easy to get traction through click-bait.

Generating serious discussion is harder. For example, this title promises "the stories that Hacker News removes" -- but is not really about the stories that Hacker News removes. For example the author does not analyze the comments under them or see why it derails or is not a good contribution to HN.

It is more of a click-bait title is bait-and-switch, and is designed to generate easy outrage.

There's nothing remarkable here despite the traction this story is getting. It is part of the hidden workings that keep HN great. Dan and Scott (the moderators) do an extremely good and thankless job keeping the principles of this place alive.

You have no idea how hard they work and I've seen them make difficult and intricate decisions. (Sometimes as simple as detaching a thread that was derailing an important discussion.) In my opinion this story does not belong on the front page.

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midgetjones 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess the acid test will be what happens to this post. If the first one was removed via manual intervention for whatever reason, then this one surely will be too.
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fidla 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I think it was removed because of the blatant linking to your site, considered spam by most of us
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danso 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't find this particular OP to be as enlightening as its current upvote count suggests, but the previous post that was supposedly disappeared was very interesting and well-written. Considering how many upvotes this OP gotten, the purported short-shrift the previous post got was fortuitous ;)
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paulpauper 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Posting on a social news site is a privilege, not a right. I've had stuff removed from Reddit and a few from Hacker News that got flagged after going on the front page...I've had stories on Reddit that got many upvotes and still removed just as it was going viral because the mods didn't like it...it's just the way it goes. It def. can seem unfair at times. No question about it.
2
How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing (2013) propublica.org
766 points by apsec112  1 day ago   431 comments top 38
1
xupybd 1 day ago 11 replies      
I live in New Zealand. I don't have to file taxes if my income is a standard wage my tax payments are automatic. My employer deducts them from my wage and they are sent to the IRD (Our government tax dept). My student loan and super payments are also automatic. If there is anything wrong then at the end of the tax year I can file to correct things.

I also get donations rebates, this is a one page form that lists all my charitable donations. Very easy very quick.

All my details are available to me online. All transactions are there and it's very transparent.

Why would anyone oppose a simple system like this?

2
harryh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Intuit certainly does this, but blaming them for our overly complex taxes is wrong. They might move the needle a little bit but they aren't the primary driver. The primary driver is all the constituencies of all the little things in our taxes that add up to make them complicated.

Like ObamaCare? That came with two additional forms.Live in a high tax state and like deducting your state taxes? That makes things more complicated.Big fan of deductions to for education or child care? That comes with complexities.I could go on and on....

Now maybe your answer to all of these questions was "no", but there are a lot of people that say "yes" to a lot of these questions. It's really hard to upset that apple cart. Lobbying doesn't have much to do with it.

3
schainks 1 day ago 1 reply      
So, just for a different perspective, Taiwan has a relatively simple tax filing experience, and the government invests significant resources to make as simple as possible (which does result in many people paying their taxes properly, on time).

While their digital tools for filing taxes make the telegraph feel modern, the "in person" experience is full of helpful people and takes about 90 minutes including travel time.

My main criticisms of the filing process:

1. Tax bureau has a one month timeframe where you can go, in person, to file "on time", but only during business hours. Any 9-5 worker must take time off to go file in person. It's a pretty nice customer experience - The volunteers in the bureau help you file your taxes with highest deductions possible, it gets crosschecked by a government tax clerk, and you're done.

2. Make the software work better on a modern OS and give it modern usability. It's _really_ crap UI, and I only run it in a VM just in case because the download site is also shady looking.

3. Locals gaming the system can make your life harder as a working-from-home small business owner. Many landlords don't pay income taxes on their properties, which means tenants cannot register business addresses at their homes, and must "rent" an address for about $100 / month.

4. Withholdings on foreigners, by default, are artificially high as a "precaution".

5. Refunds process in August after filing in May. Because they still process every return much by hand.

6. Double taxation on people like US citizens. The tax clerk has asked friends of mine, while filing, to show their US tax return to make sure there are not more taxes owed. They can ask, but it's not enforceable. So why do it? Because the tax rate on that income earned elsewhere can be as high as 30-40%! The tax clerk gets to decide how bad of an offender you are. GLHF.

7. If your income goes down compared to the year before as a foreigner, you will probably pay a penalty for "making less money" because they suspect tax evasion. Pay the fine (less than $USD 100) and walk away, or they dig your records hard and you could wind up in a situation like #6 above.

4
tuna-piano 23 hours ago 5 replies      
I haven't read a legitimate argument against the IRS calculating taxes automatically, but here it is.

The more invisible taxes are to the individual person, the less they think about that money (and the higher taxes can go without them complaining too much).

Rent feels expensive because every month you write a check for rent. However, for many people, taxes are a much bigger expense than rent. But taxes don't feel as painful, because people don't write a check every month for taxes. Taxes are just invisibly withdrawn from your paycheck.

The easier and more invisible it is to pay taxes, the more you forget about how much money that really is. If you believe in constrained government, there's a good case to be made that we should make tax payments more visible, not less.

5
tschwimmer 1 day ago 11 replies      
Serious question: Is it possible for society to criminalize rent seeking behaviors like this? It seems clear that there's no benefit to keeping the status quo tax filing system except for the benefit of tax preparers. What's stopping the US from creating a law that says if a company attempts to lobby for something in bad faith (like the tax example), they will face sanction?
6
mb_72 20 hours ago 3 replies      
I have experience as a tax payer in Estonia (employee only) and Australia (employee and business owner). In Estonia I login to my bank with my citizens ID card, click through a few screens ... and my tax return is done. All the financial information supplied by my employer to the government is immediately visible and checkable, not to mention donations made to tax-deductable organisations is also immediately visible. It is incredibly quick and convenient. In Australia it's just easier to leave everything to my accountant as they already have my quarterly business returns information; cost is still pretty reasonable (500AUD or so for the yearly business returns and the personal returns for my wife and I). But ... yeah ... in Estonia it just rocks. The ID-card based functionality for banking, digital signatures, tax ... just awesome.
7
hackuser 1 day ago 6 replies      
A tangential issue: It seems almost impossible to me that the systems of tax preparation services, whether cloud-based, local software, or offline, are secure.

The standard of security is, make the target more expensive to breach than it's worth to the attacker. How much would it be worth to have access to the tax returns of large swaths of the population?

I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing it's easily worth billions of dollars. Foreign intelligence services would very much like that information, as well as sophisticated criminals.

I am very doubtful that Intuit or H&R Block, for example, invest in security sufficient to protect themselves against that level of attack.

8
azernik 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a fascinating article linked from this one: https://www.propublica.org/article/turbotax-maker-linked-to-...

See the final paragraphs, which I've copied below - it's essentially a version of the Citogenesis effect.

-----------------------------

"Dennis Huang, executive director of the L.A.-based Asian Business Association, also told ProPublica he was solicited by a lobbyist to write about return-free filing. When the lobbyist sent him a suggested op-ed last summer and told him the proposal would hurt small businesses, Huang wrote an op-ed in the Asian Journal that claimed Asian-owned businesses would not only spend more time paying taxes, but they'd also get less of a refund each year.

Huang declined to disclose the lobbyist's name, but acknowledged he didn't really do his own research. "There's some homework needed," he said.

Oregon's Martin did some research on return-free filing and now supports it. She also co-published a post about the issue and the PR efforts related to it because, she says, she was alarmed that other nonprofits could easily agree to endorse a position they did not fully understand.

"You get one or two prominent nonprofits to use their name, and busy advocates will extend trust and say sure, us too," Martin said."

9
elberto34 1 day ago 1 reply      
the deep cynicism here is how people think Turbo tax is doing a pubic service by making taxes easier and cheaper, that's how effective their marketing is. Convince the public there is a problem that only said company can solve.
10
Upvoter33 1 day ago 2 replies      
well, of course. imagine you are a business and the govmt could change a law and put you out of business. wouldn't you put as much money as you could into preventing that change?this is why money in politics causes problems...
11
sshumaker 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is one of the reasons Credit Karma launched a totally free online tax product this year (https://creditkarma.com/tax). (We view this similarly to credit scores a decade ago, when everyone advertising "free" was a bait and switch).
12
nojvek 1 day ago 1 reply      
If trump administration actually manages to simplify tax code and kill the stupidity corporations induce via lobbying such that I can file my own taxes. I would have a lot of respect for him.
13
jaypaulynice 22 hours ago 0 replies      
You can do your taxes for free using this: https://www.freefilefillableforms.com/#/fd, but it's a huge pain unless you know what you're doing. I did it last year, but it took 10+ times to submit it correctly and the errors were straight from programming errors (i.e: tax_status is not valid, etc.)

Massachusetts had free tax filing, but got rid of it this year. It was really great and fastest refund I ever received.

14
grexe 19 hours ago 0 replies      
In Austria, since I think 2016, you also get automatic tax returns as an employee, but these are calculated based on a minimum standard wage and parameters, so you want to do the math on your own anyway, but it's very simple and straight forward, at least once you validated your account, which is a very official procedure but ok for security reasons.There's a simple online form where you basically only have to put 4 sums for each tax category and that's it, the rest is already sent by your employer. Always a nice and welcome surprise and a rewarding experience
15
pag 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm really happy with how the Canadian Revenue Agency handles things. You file online, there's plenty of free services to do your taxes. They support auto-fill where the CRA can send them the tax info it already knows about you (e.g. from banks and employers), etc. I filed my a few weeks ago and they assessed my returns by the next afternoon. Last week I received a cheque in the mail, but that's only because I forgot to fill out the direct deposit info on the CRA website. The husband of a former colleague used to fill out junk on their tax returns because they knew that the CRA would just fix it all up, and then tell them what they owed (or what they would be refundend) in their notice of assessment.
16
startupdiscuss 1 day ago 0 replies      
A lot of the comments here are conflating two different things:

1. The complexity of the tax code

2. The complexity of filing

They are not the same thing.

You have to go through some process to file now. Let the government go through that laborious process.

For those who are not conflating the two, this point does not apply.

17
twblalock 21 hours ago 0 replies      
The fact that taxes are complex is the government's fault.

The fact that companies can manipulate the government into keeping the taxes complex is also the government's fault.

18
mlinksva 1 day ago 0 replies      
Many tech companies are members of CCIA and should demand it stop advocating for Intuit's civilization-destroying agenda.

It's been one of their issues for a long time eg http://www.ccianet.org/2011/09/irs-tax-prep-not-a-budget-sol... and http://www.ccianet.org/2002/01/treasury-irs-announce-efforts... ... and it's a major activity of theirs http://sunlightfoundation.com/2013/04/15/tax-preparers-lobby...

> The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), of which Intuit is a member, represents its members on a wide range of technology issues, but spends a significant amount of its $6.7 million in lobbying on tax simplification. As ProPublica's piece points out, the group operates the website "Stop IRS Takeover" which bashes the idea of pre-filed returns. Disclosures indicate the CCIA has focused on "issues pertaining to tax preparation services" and legislation involving simple filing. It lobbied in support of Rep. Lofgren's bill that would have barred government-filed returns, and rallied against Sen. Akaka's bill that would have let taxpayers file directly through the IRS "without the use of an intermediary."The CCIA is an active political giver as well, doling out over $650,000 over the past 20 years with 91% going to Democrats. Silicon Valley-based Rep. Lofgren, an opponent of IRS-prepared returns, has been the biggest beneficiary of CCIA donation, collecting over $12,000. The group also opposed John Chiang in the 2006 California controller election, chipping in $50,000 to the Alliance for California's Tomorrow the same group that received $1 million from Intuit.

CCIA also gets lots of mentions in https://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/Tax_Maze_Repor...

19
rushabh 23 hours ago 0 replies      
While the focus of this discussion here is on the taxes, I think the bigger story is the unethical behaviour of companies like Intuit. And its not only Intuit, but also companies like SAP [1] that engage in such behaviour at the cost of tax payers.

The finanical might takes away so much from the commons and also pushes back adoption of good Open Source software. We constantly under-estimate the damage done by these mega-corps.

[1] http://blogs.wsj.com/riskandcompliance/2015/08/12/former-sap...[2] http://www.iafrikan.com/2017/02/21/sap-south-africas-managin...

20
thewhitetulip 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am in India and tax filing here is as simple as 1 2 3. We have the Form16, which has the data to be entered in an excel sheet that you can download from the govt website, punch in the numbers and voil, they tell you tax you owe! Pay via net banking and you are done.
21
rayiner 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not really a credible idea that an industry accounting for 0.05% of U.S. GDP somehow manages to out-lobby the industries representing the other 99.95% of GDP, so as to keep tax filing complicated when otherwise there would be a critical mass in favor of simplification.
22
dennis_jeeves 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting, that in all income tax discussions the underlying premise of income tax is not questioned.

For me it's a form of extortion. If I avail of certain services provided by the government, I would expect a bill only for the services I availed. And just like my ISP I should have the option of not opting for the for their services.

23
randyrand 1 day ago 0 replies      
The maker of tax return software doesn't want to lose business? news at 11.
24
rodionos 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Aggregate filing statistics for US tax returns 1990-2014:

https://apps.axibase.com/chartlab/bbca48dc#fullscreen

Percentage of all reports filed electronically reached 86% in 2014. Big relief for USPS.

25
frogpelt 1 day ago 0 replies      
As strange it may seem, a portion of people/corporations are always pro-privatization and anti-nationalization.

This helps explain why there is an anti-net-neutrality faction. It's not just because people don't understand. And it's not just because people are bought and paid for. There are actually legitimate arguments for privatizing things and then regulating them rather than nationalizing and trusting the government to manage effectively.

26
shakencrew 1 day ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion on Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5443203
27
kumarski 1 day ago 0 replies      
I once contemplated buying NovoNordisk and investing millions to open subsidized donut shops for the wealthy.....
28
the_cat_kittles 1 day ago 3 replies      
slightly off topic, but... you can file for free using any number of tax prep software if you make less than ~64k a year: https://www.irs.gov/uac/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-...
29
alkonaut 1 day ago 1 reply      
TIL how I file my taxes (log in and submit a pre-filled web form, or send a text message approving it) was the exception, not the norm.

I would have expected at least most of western Europe to have reached that point.

30
em3rgent0rdr 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem is not who prepares your taxes. The problem is how complicated taxes are.
31
orless 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I live and work (not self-employed) in Germany, which has one of the most complex tax systems in the world. Normally, a certain amount is deducted from my salary upfront automatically so I pay my most of my taxes through the year. The deducted percentage is defined by so-called "tax class" (1 for singles, 3/5, 4/4 or 5/3 for married or "registered partnership" couples).

When the year is over you MAY file a tax declaration if you had 1 or 4/4 combo - or you MUST file it if you had 3/5 or 5/3 combo (because then you have normally underpayed the taxes through the year as a couple). If you have 1 or 4/4 you have normally overpayed taxes so if you don't file, the goverment is happy.

The tax code in Germany is mindbloggingly complex. And it's not just laws, its' also "common practices", knowing what the Tax Authority (Finanzamt) accepts and what not. It's also knowing the current lawsuit which may be potentially applicable to your declaration. Every year there's a few dozen such tax lawsuits where the results are applicable to large groups of taxpayers.

When I was single I either didn't file the tax declaration or filed it myself with the help of software and a few books. There's a bestselling book "1000 absolutely legal tax tricks" (https://www.amazon.de/Konz-1000-ganz-legale-Steuertricks/dp/...) which is a a good starter.

Nowadays with family and kids we must file a tax declaration, but now there are so many special cases we're either subject to or can profit from that it's not realistic to do it on our own. We outsource our tax declaration, it costs us around 300 a year and is absolutely worth it. Our tax consultant routinely argues with the Finanzamt over two-digit sums, basically fights for every cent.

Honestly I don't think we'd better off if the tax system in Germany would have been simpler. We profit from a number of special cases like "extraorinary burden" because of the disabled child, so I think in the "one size fits all" system we'd probably lose. I'm totally fine with 300 fee for the tax consultant, she allows us to use the benefits of the system. By the ways, this fee is considered the next year, we get out tax back from the fee.

If I remember correctly, a few years ago politicians discussed a "no-file" option: you declare that you don't file you tax declaration this year and get some bonus back (I think the proposed sum was around 300). The Finanzamt has less work to process declarations, so probably this was worth it. I don't think it was implemented, however.

32
shmerl 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's really disgusting, and the reason I'm not using TurboTax.
33
joering2 1 day ago 2 replies      
I always love reading absurd statements made by otherwise reasonable people who - of course - a salary depends on being unreasonable.

Here:

> Intuit argues that allowing the IRS to act as a tax preparer could result in taxpayers paying more money.

Majority of work will be done automatically by some free jQuery and PHP scripts (hello Obamacare website) and taxpayers have only shell-out initial cost. Even if TurboTax is $19 per year, I have a hard time believing that 200MM tax payers X $19 will be less than running an enterprise servers for online consumers.

> [...] "STOP IRS TAKEOVER" campaign and a website calling return-free filing a "massive expansion of the U.S. government through a big government program."

I honestly laugh at this one. Just exactly which part of information that IRS process is not already in the IRS possession? With that statement -- they really reach out for the dumbest people hearing them out.

> Explaining the company's stance, Intuit spokeswoman Miller told the Los Angeles Times in 2006 that it was "a fundamental conflict of interest for the state's tax collector and enforcer to also become people's tax preparer."

I have to place a call to intuit maybe they will sponsor my idea that I should fill out and asses my own respondibility when it comes to a parking ticket. I mean you cannot trust the government that they will be fair to you - so I should get note "you violated parking zone - fill out this form and return to us with own assessment of your penalty". Gosh imagine wild wild west we would be living in if you stretch it to criminal law.

34
camperman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Institutions prolong problems to which they themselves are the solution- Systemantics.
35
unclebucknasty 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me that raw capitalism isn't the answer to every problem.

Kind of like the current healthcare debate in the U.S., where the problem seems to be "how do we allow insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, etc. to make maximum profits while providing healthcare for the maximim number of people at minimum cost?"

36
transfire 1 day ago 5 replies      
I have a better idea. Simplify the tax code so anyone can do theirs on an index card. There is absolutely no reason for the gargantuan tax code in a free society.
37
yawz 1 day ago 1 reply      
When I read this, unfortunately I'm thinking "don't hate the player, hate the game". Lobbying is a double-edged sword, and it is a game played very well by the powerful and the rich.
38
tacostakohashi 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's pretty much the same as the situation with taxi medallion owners now that Uber has come along.

If you ask me, the correct answer is for the government to either give some one-off compensation to Intuit (or buy the company from its existing shareholders), and then shut it down, and reform the system.

Why should the government pay money to a private corporation or shareholders? Because they created this mess ("opportunity") in the first place with a ridiculous tax code. It's just the actual, realized, dollar-value cost of the mess that was created, instead of externalizing the cost onto taxpayers. Once that cost has been paid, the system can be fixed.

3
The Uber Bombshell About to Drop danielcompton.net
903 points by dantiberian  9 hours ago   425 comments top 54
1
harryh 8 hours ago 9 replies      
Uber passengers only pay 41% of the cost of trips, with investor capital making up the difference

FWIW this assertion (which isn't really core to the central thesis of the post, but still) is wrong. That number comes from

https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/12/01/2180647/the-taxi-unic...

but the author of that story misread the data. Uber only counts their cut as revenue not the full cost of the ride.

Despite this repetition (now corrected, thx!) of this incorrect data I find the overall thesis of the post compelling! As a disinterested bystander, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

EDIT: It turns out the original 41% statement comes from http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/can-uber-ever-deliver... not from the Financial Times. It can be hard to trace these things back sometimes.

2
bedhead 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Among the circumstantial evidence, the self-funding aspect is what jumped out at me the most. This is the equivalent of a hedge fund manage buying something based on inside information, but only for his personal account. Why cut other people in on the wink-and-nod-guaranteed payday? Besides, Lewandowski couldn't realistically raise money through proper channels if his pitch amounted to, "I stole stuff from Waymo."
3
Analemma_ 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Yeah, this is a big deal. Uber has gambled everything on self-driving cars, what with their absurd burn rate and all. If that gets shut down because of trade secret injunctions, I don't think they have time to pivot to another strategy, especially after their reputation has nosedived.
4
mmanfrin 8 hours ago 10 replies      
Outside of the case, the most striking thing to me about this is the level of detail that Google has over the logs and actions of their laptop. They were able to tell that a memory card was plugged in for 8 hours a year ago?

I have trouble finding exactly how a customer encountered a 500 10 minutes ago.

5
GCA10 8 hours ago 3 replies      
For all the noise and excitement at the start of these clashes, don't they usually get settled with a licensing agreement that both sides can live with?

Sometimes we also see a medium-sized payment (not ruinous) to address the allegedly bad conduct. That usually gets paired with some lawyer-like phrases that amount to a blend of quasi-apology and face-saving evasions.

It's still an interesting suit. But after Apple/Samsung, Oracle/SAP and many others, it's hard to expect that the eventual resolution lives up to the pre-trial buildup.

6
wyldfire 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This part looks to be the most smoking-gun:

> December 13, 2016 - A Waymo employee was accidentally copied on an email from one of its LiDAR-component vendors titled OTTO FILES. The email contained a drawing of what appeared to be an Otto circuit board that resembled Waymos LiDAR board and shared several unique characteristics with it. (Filing 59)

7
mikepurvis 1 hour ago 1 reply      
No relationship between Uber's Ottomotto and the self-driving vehicles of OTTO Motors: https://www.ottomotors.com/company/newsroom/press-releases/o...

Disclosure: employee of Clearpath, the company behind OTTO Motors.

8
flylib 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"That Otto hadnt received funding from any VCs is unusual. With 91 employees, getting paid $150k/year (this might even be too low given they are working on self-driving cars, one of the hottest spaces in tech right now), they would have had a $13.6 million/year burn rate just on salaries. Otto always aimed to get to market quickly, but getting to profitability without funding seems like it would have been very hard, especially on the accelerated timescale they were working towards and the need to likely hire many more people to get to production. All of Ottos public self-driving car and truck competitors have taken venture funding. However, as someone working on a bootstrapped SaaS application, Im sympathetic to wanting to self-fund."

Anthony Levandowski has a personal net worth in the hundreds of millions, that is not counting the other founders plus they could raise money at a whim, or get acquired whenever they wanted

"The next day, January 15, 2016, Mr. Levandowskis venture 280 Systems - which

became OttoMotto LLC - was officially formed (though it remained in stealth mode for several

months). On January 27, 2016, Mr. Levandowski resigned from Waymo without notice. And on

February 1, 2016, Mr. Levandowskis venture Otto Trucking was officially formed (also

remaining in stealth mode for several months)."

not sure if that timeline is accurate, any way to check when the ot.to website was registered? the site used for looking up http://whois.domaintools.com/280systems.com doesn't work for ot.to

9
rsp1984 5 hours ago 0 replies      
(Possible) Consequences: ... Without any way to raise more money or reduce their costs, Uber runs out of money and folds.

Highly unlikely. Why? Investors who stomach multi-billion dollar annual losses will probably just shrug off a mere lawsuit or a "bad media narrative". If the choice is to either write off $15 billion or to give another couple to help the company go through a rough patch (what a buying opportunity!) I think I know what investors are going to do.

They may demand Kalanick's head in the process (and I think they will -- not that it would really hurt him much personally though...) but seriously a whole nother level of crap would have to happen before investors start getting comfortable with the thought of letting go those $15 billion.

10
booleanbetrayal 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I can't imagine what Lewandowski and Uber were thinking here. The timeline is just too constrained to even be taken seriously.
11
d--b 8 hours ago 4 replies      
It's not a bigger bombshell than what was already in the news. We know what stealing means. The guy is an engineer at Waymo and plugs a USB stick in a laptop to download 9GB of code. And he hoped to get away with this? I'm pretty sure everyone at Google knew, they were just waiting to time it right.

"Hey, what about now? When Uber is taking fire from all directions?"

12
salimmadjd 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I actually think this might be a blessing in disguise for Uber. I always argued self-driving cars would destroy Uber should Apple or Google want to enter this space.

Why? Because self-driving cars are basically a fleet service driven by a software. Once you remove the driver (where Uber spent so much acquiring) The only differentiator is the consumer facing experience. Neither Uber or Lyft will have as much power as Apple and Google since they ultimately own the mobile experience.

I ultimately envision this business as kind of a Kayak mobile on the phone managed by Siri or Google/Apple maps that will call the nearest taxi or the cheaper rate aggregating from multiple possible vendors. Larger fleets (Uber, Apple, Google) to smaller individually manage fleets. Car companies might decide to also enter that market in collaboration with financial underwriter.

So having a network of drivers ultimately gives Uber some leverage and removing them from the equation, I think it'll actually destroy Uber. This is why I think, this could be a blessing in disguise.

13
Animats 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Uber, in their usual rule-breaking way, may come out OK on this. Suppose everything in the complaint against Uber is proven true. Google/Alphabet/Waymo gets an injunction against Uber using their rotating LIDAR, a clunky technology that's on the way out. (The future of high-volume 3D LIDAR is either flash with a staring sensor or MEMS with chip-sized moving mirrors.) G/A/W gets paid a few billion dollars, but far less than the $16 billion Intel just paid for Mobileye's inferior technology. Uber has enough cash for that.
14
payne92 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I'll be curious to see if the Uber-Otto acquisition gets strained.

It's common for the acquired company to make specific "representations and warranties", particularly around IP.

"We own our IP and didn't steal it" is typical, and some percentage of the deal is held back for ~1-2 years in case there is a problem.

But if there's fraud, all bets are off.

Does Uber throw Otto under the bus? It would be "The Uber Way", based on what's been published recently.

15
matt_wulfeck 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> December 3, 2015 - Mr Levandowski searched for instructions on how to access Waymos design server on his work laptop. Based on Gary Browns deposition (a Google forensic security engineer) this was an SVN server. (Brown 15)

> December 11, 2015 - Anthony Levandowski installed TortoiseSVN and downloaded 9.7 GB of data from the SVN repository. (Brown 17)

> December 14, 2015 - A USB card reader was attached to the laptop for eight hours. Google doesnt appear to have logged what the laptop did over that time, but the implication is that data was copied from the laptop to a memory card. (Brown 18)

If these three things are true, then that looks extremely bad for Otto. I imagine they'll be a lot of questions regarding the purpose of that USB stick.

16
patmcguire 8 hours ago 6 replies      
How credible are all these logs? Email records (came up in Oracle Android case) are one thing, emails are a known thing. But how trustworthy are Google Drive logs, a record that only exists within Google, when what they've recorded helps their case? I'm not casting aspersions, just curious how a new kind of evidence plays out.
17
free_everybody 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I read the whole article and it was very interesting. Thanks for the info! However, could someone explain to me why Uber is losing money from their taxi services? Obviously the drivers take home a large chunk of revenue, but what about the rest of the money they receive from the fares? Shouldn't that be enough to cover the overhead of running a mobile app? Are they trying to do too much? What gives?
18
hossbeast 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The most horrifying aspect of this story is people using SVN in 2016.
19
vkou 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Related HN thread on Uber acquiring Otto (From 7 months ago):

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12315205

The consensus seems to be: "Huh, that's weird."

20
aresant 8 hours ago 1 reply      
- Google's recently revised goal for their program is to license to existing manufacturers vs. building a car. (1)

- It's unlikely that whichever automotive company achieves autonomy first is going to immediately get into the ride sharing game, except perhaps Tesla but they don't have enough manufacturing capability (yet, or anytime soon) to be a global threat to Uber.

- Uber is never going to be a manufacturer but they have partnered with Volvo and Daimler (2) recently who seem very amenable to licensing / leveraging third party tech to continue to be competitive in selling automobiles.

- Why does Uber need to build autonomous tech vs license it? Are they concerned that the Google / Ford partnership is going to leave them out / decimated?

(1) http://www.techtimes.com/articles/188654/20161213/alphabet-l...

(2) http://www.theverge.com/2017/1/31/14453704/uber-daimler-part...

21
sevensor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So at this point, Uber's name is mud, and they're getting tons of bad press. Does there exist a contrary interpretation of recent events in which Uber is still somehow OK as an employer or a business? In my news bubble, I haven't seen any.
22
orbitingpluto 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Hey, it's all part of the "sharing economy".

Driver satisfaction will improve once it's composed entirely of autonomous vehicles.

As for the real drivers, who are paid less than taxi drivers, I'm wondering how that put them into the red when they pay less than taxi companies and skirt regulations. They must have interesting books.

23
acchow 9 hours ago 3 replies      
> "Uber gets dealt an injunction on their self-driving car project. They have to start again, a long way behind other companies."

How is this actually implemented? How do you prevent a new project starting from scratch with the same employees from ending up with the exact same tech as before?

24
andrewrice 8 hours ago 2 replies      
What is the possibility of criminal charges being brought forth if it's determined that Kalanick actively conspired with Lewandowski?
25
nvr219 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Does this have the potential to kill Uber?
26
peterjlee 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Off topic but I'm going to assume anyone who misspelled Levandowski as Lewandowski is a soccer fan.
27
aarontyree 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The internet is being absorbed by greed and hunger for power. I hope that somewhere in northern Finland, there is an awkward teenager writing something that will later be known as, "The Great Decentralizer"
28
olegious 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"the information" had a great article on Uber's finances recently. One of the stats cited was from an internal Uber study that said moving to a fleet of self driving cars would only achieve a 5-10% profit margin for the company.
29
cft 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Sounds terrible but probably Uber will pay $200mm confidential settlement and have the know how. Sounds like a win for Uber...
30
coleca 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What happened with Uber's Pittsburgh research facility? I thought that was the hub for their self-driving car program?

http://fortune.com/2016/03/21/uber-carnegie-mellon-partnersh...

31
Havoc 8 hours ago 2 replies      
>Uber passengers only pay 41% of the cost of trips, with investor capital making up the difference.

Holy hell. That's not exactly a sound business model.

32
tmsldd 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fumus boni iuris
33
Apocryphon 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Would an implosion of Uber be the first step of the end of this tech bubble?
34
ryandrake 8 hours ago 1 reply      
> By the time Otto was acquired, they had 91 employees. This seems like a lot of salary commitment to take on via self-funding by Ottos four co-founders (all ex-Google).

Were these founders previously Google executives or "9th engineer from the left" individual contributors? If you were getting exec pay, it might be semi-believable that you could come out of it and be able to self-fund salaries for 91 employees, but if the latter, I can't see how. Sure, Google pays engineers a lot but come on...

35
jgalt212 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Was the Otto sale the quickest $680MM ever made? Has anyone gone from zero that amount (exit price, mind you) in that short a period of time?

For those reasons alone, I think there is definitely something fishy going on. Perhaps not as fishy as Daniel claims, but something just does not smell right here.

36
achikin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Where is my confidential and proprietary information, Levandowski? Where is it?
37
pfarnsworth 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Another big bombshell is that apparently Google laptops store every single thing you do on it, including whether you attach a USB drive, etc. That's pretty scary if you're an employee.
38
pyb 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmm, he got the name of one of the main protagonists wrong. Pierre Yves => Pierre-Yves Droz.

You need to demonstrate some attention to detail, if you're going to claim an ability to 'read between the lines' in this dossier.

39
hossbeast 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Does Levandowski go to prison if this all bears out in court?
40
spikels 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I just hope this doesn't somehow delay the deployment of much safer driving technology. The death, injury and property damage statistic are staggering:

 Global Annual Estimates: Deaths: 1.25 million Injuries: 20-50 million Cost: $580 billion
https://www.cdc.gov/features/globalroadsafety/

41
drdre2001 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Why didn't Uber hire Levandowski, instead of having him build a startup they could buy for hundreds of millions?
42
tylercubell 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like a bunch of circumstantial evidence. The two LiDAR boards need to be compared to prove that Otto stole Waymo's IP.
43
arzt 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If this goes to a jury, could the damages shut uber down?
44
nuggien 8 hours ago 0 replies      
if it plays out that Lewandowski did intentionally steal trade secrets, the way he went about it was pretty boneheaded.
45
forgottenpass 8 hours ago 1 reply      
[replying to a deleted post]

I also found the SVN allegation to be circumstantial at best in the coverage that didn't focus on any other points. Installing a tool and downloading gigs of design data is a nuts-and-bolts operation for many disciplines (even for those that don't normally use version control but interact with a team that does).

If Levandowski didn't typically access SVN on a frequent basis, it's still very circumstantial on it's own. Seeing this all laid out in the context of the surrounding allegations, it becomes an important and fairly damning point.

46
vfclists 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Does Daniel Compton live in the Far East, like Japan, New Zealand or something?

The date of the blog post is March 14th. Is his calendar a day ahead?

47
beering 9 hours ago 2 replies      
TL;DR: The "Bombshell" is Alphabet/Waymo's lawsuit against Lewandowski and Uber for stealing trade secrets, and an interpretation that Lewandowski formed Otto basically as a cover to get a big payday from Uber in exchange for the secrets.
48
transfire 8 hours ago 0 replies      
> August 2016 - Levandowski received his final multi-million dollar payment from Google (presumably a bonus?)

That's a pretty fat check for someone who just ran away with the crown jewels. How do we know Google didn't have Lavandowski do all this on purpose to lure Uber into a compromised position by buying Otto? Unless the courts are rigged, doesn't Google have to prove Uber acquired Otto with full knowledge that they were buying stolen property?

49
transfire 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Entitled "The Witch Hunt Continues" or "Why Americans can't have Nice things".
50
eternalban 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The bombshell is that Google uses SVN.
51
multinglets 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The notion that these companies are meaningfully suing each other over "trade secrets" as opposed to "government help" is rather laughable to me. Fuck Google and their attempted U.S.-sanctioned digital monopoly on Earth.
52
chaser7016 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Burn Uber and leave only ashes in KalaDick's hands to teach him humility! Lyft and others will rightfully take its place.

No one more deserves and needs this type of lesson then that sociopath!

53
randyrand 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I still love Uber and will continue to use them. They provide a great service: point A to B at a good price and no hassles. That's why I use them.

I don't care at all about the rest of the drama. It's hard to even keep up with it. I suspect most people are the same.

54
temp246810 9 hours ago 6 replies      
Not related - but I do find it ironic that google is up in arms about stolen tech given Steve Jobs' vendetta against google over stolen smart phone ideas. And yes I realize that the gravity of the situation here is different but it's still an amusing thought - not sure why everyone is so offended by this comment.

Regarding the lawsuit - I've learned that we have no clue what is going on behind the scenes, so why stress over it. For all I know this is a power play by google or some evil scheme by Uber. Let's just wait and see how it plays out.

4
What the CIA WikiLeaks Dump Tells Us: Encryption Works nytimes.com
659 points by kungfudoi  2 days ago   255 comments top 27
1
andai 2 days ago 12 replies      
I don't see any mention of quantum computers in here so I thought I'd mention:

the NSA themselves are concerned that quantum computing will be a great threat to encryption in the near future.

Keep in mind that the NSA and god knows who else are storing encrypted communications to break them later.

Quantum computing will defeat RSA, DH, ECC, asymmetric crypto, but it will only weaken symmetric crypto (eg. AES) by a factor of two.

So according to my Internet research: if your symmetric crypto is twice as secure (key size) as needs be, it is future proof.

Also (and please correct me if I'm wrong) I believe the triple encryption Serpent(Twofish(AES)) available in VeraCrypt (TrueCrypt fork) even protects against weaknesses which may be discovered in any of these cryptosystems: they would have to defeat all three.

2
dromenkoning 2 days ago 9 replies      
The article mentions WhatsApp multiple times as a service that successfully made the transition to end-to-end encryption, but it always seemed to me that this claim is rather meaningless when we don't have the possibility of auditing their source code.
3
alister 2 days ago 2 replies      
What a welcome shift in public sentiment. Mainstream media is starting to recommend end-to-end encryption, without back doors, for everybody. (Though the New York Times might represent the leading edge of the change in popular opinion.)
4
CapacitorSet 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember reading a poll where European Parliament members claimed that encryption (esp. HTTPS and E2E) was the biggest obstacle to espionage. I'm glad to see that this is a widespread sentiment.
5
bgrohman 2 days ago 1 reply      
Original article on AP News in case your NY Times free article count is up:

https://apnews.com/cf84bf54c2954de8baaa5fb6931a84d0/What-the...

6
raymondh 2 days ago 2 replies      
The CIA WikiLeaks dump might only tell us the breaking through other parts of the communication chain are easier than decryption.
7
thedatamonger 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Encryption has grown so strong that even the FBI had to seek Apple's help last year in cracking the locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. "

Nope, that was about setting precedent using a case that is very hard to argue against morally, so that they can erode privacy and protections on a wider scale.

8
Synaesthesia 2 days ago 1 reply      
Another thing is important: trust. As a naive user I have no idea what's going on on my phone, hardware or software wise We are essentially trusting these companies with everything. Encryption is no good if Apple and Google provide backdoors to their systems to the CIA or NSA.
9
espeed 2 days ago 1 reply      
That's not what it tells us. Encryption works to the degree it has always worked -- and cracking ciphertext has never been the weakest link -- but that's not the message we should be taking. The real message is often only evident in hindsight, years later, after it has been shaped, after the effects have percolated through the system and the effect on behavior becomes evident. It's non-linear system dynamics. The cause and effect are rarely obvious.
10
Asdfbla 2 days ago 0 replies      
So the same thing the Snowden leak told us years ago. The fact that governments can't break state-of-the-art encryption itself shouldn't come as a surprise nowadays.
11
mtgx 2 days ago 0 replies      
If it didn't you wouldn't see Comey all over the place trying to promote his encryption backdoors.

Ironically enough, he's promoting them while saying "Americans don't have absolute privacy."

Yes, we know. That's why we're trying to use encryption more...But thanks for reminding us, James.

12
twelvechairs 2 days ago 0 replies      
It also tells us that Wikileaks is (still) important
13
Pica_soO 2 days ago 0 replies      
Conclusion: Goverments always must push for centralization, monopols, weak clients and against free software, to keep control. Thus free software projects can not benefit from any longterm relationship with even a democratic state entity.
14
tranv94 2 days ago 1 reply      
Or is that what they want us to think
15
guest 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't the headline be that; if you have a safe system encryption can work?

Because as long as encryption that has been broken (or systems that have been compromised) is used what you are basically doing is giving mr V is a receipt that you have made a transaction...

16
kakwa_ 2 days ago 0 replies      
Crypto Won't Save You Either, Peter Gutmann:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ahcUuNO4so
17
throw2016 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not just software but hardware. There have been persistent controversies about encryption, random number generators, standards, organized infiltration and things like Intel ME and basebands in phones.

It's simply not possible for individuals or groups to vet this against nation state adversaries on an ongoing basis. I think its high time technologists accept this instead of trying to lull themselves and others into a false sense of security.

There are multiple layers of social trust in action which are broken because security services are now brazen and face no consequences.

There is no 'hacking' your way out of this. The solution is to try to restore the social trust by first understanding why its suddenly ok to run mass surveillance operations in a 'free democratic country' and refusing to accept it. And then try to restore some of the trust by making sure there are consequences, proper oversight and due process.

18
jfhcc 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's possible defeating encryption is the responsibility of another top secret department whose work remains unleaked.
19
Traubenfuchs 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does it? Maybe it's a huge false flag campaign.

You should always operate under the assumption that "they" can see everything they want to see on your internet connected device if they deem you important enough.

For example, what's with that one news story about government agencies being unable to break TrueCrypt. How did that get out? Sounds like a huge bullshit campaign to me, aimed at creating trust in TrueCrypt! (Yes thank you very much I know about VeraCrypt)

20
throwaway287391 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not to suggest this is what's happening in this particular case, but if the CIA (or any other intelligence agency) did figure out a way to break some particular encryption protocol, wouldn't it be in their best interest to create fake internal documentation claiming they couldn't break that form of encryption, and "leak" that to Wikileaks?
21
Spooky23 2 days ago 1 reply      
It only tells you that encryption works against the tools included in the leak. It doesn't seem credible to me that the US government's tooling in this area is pretty much the same as what is generally available, given the billions invested in cyber stuff.

There are many reasons beyond self interest (like the viability of online commerce) that would lead an organization like the CIA to compartmentalize more advanced/strategic methods.

22
1001101 2 days ago 2 replies      
The only encryption I truly trust is one-time pad. Discrete log may be NP-intermediate (if P!=NP, which is open), and we know from the Snowden disclosures that NSA was working with U Maryland on a quantum computer which will be a reality at some point (Shor's algorithm). With 'collect it all,' today's ciphertext is tomorrow's plaintext. Always be skeptical.
23
andai 2 days ago 4 replies      
Does anyone here have an air-gapped computer setup?

I'm thinking of doing something with raspberry pi.

I'm stuck at the part where it communicates (for my purposes, small amounts of ascii) with a non airgapped computer without using USB or networking.

I'm thinking about giving both machines a little speaker and microphone and using high frequency pulses to transfer the text.

Why, you may be wondering?

1. Airgapped system is impervious to penetration

2. Can be used for literally unbreakable communications.

24
how-bizarre 2 days ago 0 replies      
The CIA Cyber Security division is a joke compared to the NSA and Mosad.
25
aburan28 2 days ago 0 replies      
And the campaign against encryption Comey talked about last fall has begun. If the United States wants to maintain economic dominance over IT sector globally we must defend our data
26
developer2 2 days ago 4 replies      
This world we live in... the Associated Press permeates through nearly all of the US's media. They are the same reason you can find newscasts about some random throwaway story being repeated word-for-word verbatim. When you have dozens of news anchors across the country reading the exact same words from a teleprompter to push a story, something is very very wrong.

I mean, it's nice that the NY Times specifies "By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS" at the top of the article, but why is it even considered acceptable for the NY Times to publish articles that don't originate from themselves?

Sigh.

27
whatnotests 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously - does it?
5
Teach Yourself Computer Science teachyourselfcs.com
790 points by kruse-tim  7 hours ago   141 comments top 29
1
scandox 5 hours ago 6 replies      
This is a really good list. I love the simplicity. I also agree that it is both worthwhile and very interesting to learn the fundamentals of CS.

That said, I think it is a mistake to assume that lots of Type 2 developers wander around in a perpetual state of under-achievement. Most of these people are indeed a different class of developer (I think the word engineer is positively abused), but many of them really have almost no professional requirement to understand fundamentals. Any more than they need to understand particle physics.

These developers are a class of systems integrators and they produce a lot of usable systems, at a quality level that represents appropriate trade-offs to the business case they are employed to address.

Yes, many will say this is a less elevated pursuit. It has its own challenges and mindset. It lives at a particular level of abstraction and its very existence assumes stability of that layer of abstraction. The fact that this breaks down sometimes is besides the point.

The reality is most developers probably do Type 2 work, though very many may have or aspire to have a Type 1 level of knowledge and insight. However I think it's unfair to portray a contented Type 2 developer as lacking in some essential.

2
Impossible 6 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a solid list, but its a shame that no computer graphics resources are even mentioned. Although the reason for the omission is mentioned in the FAQ, I'd argue that computer graphics basics (images, basic rasterization, color spaces, etc.) are as fundamental as networking or databases. A link to Computer Graphics Principles and Practice (https://www.amazon.com/Computer-Graphics-Principles-Practice...) would have been nice.

I understand that most graphics resources out there focus on real-time 3D rendering for games or writing raytracers, which I agree are currently industry specific topics. Your average developer isn't going to write a vector graphics library as part of their day job, but the browser abstracts computer graphics in the same way it abstracts networking or compilers, so if the goal is to understand the underlying principles of software platforms you'll be working on every day I think computer graphics is a strange, biased, omission.

3
ghufran_syed 5 hours ago 3 replies      
For those who need the structure of a formal course, or who want a CS degree for career reasons, the University of London's International program is a great option - it's very flexible, so easy to combine with full-time work, and costs around $2500 per year for 3 years.I'm around 2/3 of the way through, and find it helps force me to learn things I know I need to know, but might not make the time for otherwise

http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/g...

The creative computing has a slightly more art/graphics emphasis, but is still rigorous:http://www.londoninternational.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/g...

4
hackermailman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The best way I found was to go through the CMU BSc requirements (or other university), look up the public course pages and pair the lecture notes (and occasionally lecture vids) w/TAoCP series looking up the same topics but getting a thorough drilling in the topic by trying the problems in the book. Before I started doing this I kept forgetting material after taking it a few weeks later like when I had to rewatch a lecture on floating point to remember what the bias was.

If you look up 15-213 and get the book CS:App that accompanies the course it will more than prepare you to understand the MMIX fasicle (or orig MIX if you want) http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/academic/class/15213-f16/www/sc...

5
rezashirazian 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great list that covers the basics. For anyone interested to expand I would suggest the following:

(the description is taken from the corresponding courses I took in college which I found super helpful)

Programming paradigms: Examination of the basic principles of the major programming language paradigms. Focus on declarative paradigms such as functional and logic programming. Data types, control expressions, loops, types of references, lazy evaluation, different interpretation principles, information hiding.

Textbook on Haskell and prolog would be recommended.

Computability: An introduction to abstract models of sequential computation, including finite automata, regular expressions, context-free grammars, and Turing machines. Formal languages, including regular, context-free, and recursive languages, methods for classifying languages according to these types, and relationships among these classes.

Introduction to the Theory of Computation by Michael Sipser

Explorations in Information Security: A broad survey of topics in information security and privacy, with the purpose of cultivating an appropriate mindset for approaching security and privacy issues. Topics will be motivated by recreational puzzles. Legal and ethical considerations will be introduced as necessary.

Someone already mentioned computer graphics which I excluded. I personally had the most fun in college in my graphics courses. They were hard but super rewarding and a ton of fun!

6
gravypod 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish there was a way to include "What could have been" or "What could be" into the "What is" of an "education" in Computer Science.

Distributed Systems, Databases, Networking and Architecture all have a past with much better solutions that were never adopted because of patents, cost, or some such other that grow fainter with every coming day.

If courses like these cosnsited of "History" in parallel I think I'd be a more well-rounded graduate.

7
calcsam 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Ozan and Myles also teach this stuff in-person in SF: http://bradfieldcs.com/.

I just finished their databases course and it was excellent.

8
mettamage 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Couple of things about the distributed systems course.

1. Maarten van Steen -- one of the authors -- recorded screencasts in 2012 (see https://www.distributed-systems.net/index.php/books/distribu... ).

2. Maarten van Steen released an updated version of the book this year about distributed systems.

Full disclosure: I followed Maarten van Steen's lectures back in the day :)

9
gigatexal 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Having bombed the programming interview for a Google cloud position and like a kid seemingly suffering from stockholm-syndrome I think the value to having arbitrarily abstract and difficult interviews are overall a good thing -- getting through one is like getting through basic training, it shows you have the grit to persevere. And in the case of programming you at least can understand data structures well enough to answer the canned questions. I know the initial reasoning behind it all was to show people who could think analytically but also be competent in the role. The downside I think is the process biases people who might be valuable members of a team who don't care about implementing a linked list but understand the pros and cons of one having used such a data structure or a similar one in production applications.
10
busterarm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The book that I recommend for Networking, and that has been recommended to me by every fulltime NetEng I've ever asked, has been Interconnections.

https://www.amazon.com/Interconnections-Bridges-Switches-Int...

Yes, the material is a bit dated. Yes, it won't give you the ins and outs of what you need to know. What it will give you is the why and from there you can figure out everything else you need to know.

11
esfandia 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this. It has a Back to Basics, no BS approach to CS that appeals to me. I agree with all the recommendations. A couple of tiny comments:

- I know that learning C is not strictly speaking part of Computer Science, but it is a nice counterpart to SICP, ties in with other topics (such as computer architecture and OS) and should definitely belong to this curriculum. The authors of this site themselves have defended C in another blog post. Like pg would say, all you need is Lisp and C.

- IMO a better option for learning databases is Jennifer Widom's MOOC: http://cs.stanford.edu/people/widom/DB-mooc.html

12
gerry_shaw 5 hours ago 4 replies      
FYI... The video content for SICP seems to be going away in a couple of days...https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3E89002AA9B9879E
13
mamcx 2 hours ago 1 reply      
About the part on databases:

 "but we suggest just writing a simple relational database management system from scratch"
This part is the one I'm more interested, but also the most hard to get.

As explained there, is very hard to get information about databases (all is hunting material here and there). So, how do this? How build a "basic RDBMS"?

Probably looking at sqlite will be the default answer, but that is not the ideal. Is hard to see how was the thinking process after a materialized and realized piece of code.

14
aqibgatoo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Wow awesome list first time i have seen some explaining why they gave preferences to particular things over others in such a lucid and simple way ...
15
psiclops 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I know of the people behind this, who founded a CS school. I've heard good things, but I hadn't seen this before!
16
barking 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Are all those CS61 lectures from Berkeley shortly going to disappear from youtube?
17
crench 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This could do without the "Why learn computer science?" section entirely.
18
BeetleB 1 hour ago 1 reply      
You know, as a former academic, I was reading this list and I immediately knew: This is written by someone in academia (and sure enough, you find out at the bottom it is).

I don't have a problem with this list per se. For all I know, it may be a good list and the designation of Type 1 and Type 2 engineers may be accurate.

But I wish I read a post from a Type 1 engineer in industry that mirrored what academics often write. I hardly find one. Why the disconnect? If the academics are so right, why is it mostly academics who preach this? There are more Type 1 engineers than academics, I'm sure.

Take my story: Was pursuing a PhD in physics/engineering and dropped out. Heavy on mathematics. And programming was always a hobby/passion. Went into industry in my discipline (not programming). Then decided to change careers into software.

Going in, I had the impostor syndrome. I had read quite a bit of CLRS in grad school on my own, but remembered little. So I took a bunch of Coursera courses to review all the basic algorithms, graph theory, etc.

My goal was that this was the bare minimum to survive, and I would work for a while and figure out what to focus on next (architecture? networking, OS? databases?).

Well, I've been working a bunch of years now, and there is no "next thing". Even the algorithms courses I took, while a lot of fun and interesting, play little role beyond what most Type 2 engineers will know!

That's just the reality: Most software jobs do not require you to know much beyond the basic data structures (hash, sets, lists, etc) and the complexity of their storage/operations. I looked for ways to use all the extra stuff I had learned (in essentially introductory algorithms courses), and did not find opportunities. I'm facing the inverse problem: Someone who knows some of this (or wants to), and having trouble finding a job where this knowledge actually leads to more robust systems.

And it's hard to find the jobs where these things matter, and it is rare that they are paid more. Difficulty and complexity does not equate to higher pay. Market rules do. Trust me, I know. I was doing more challenging work before I became a software engineer, but I get paid more now because there were few challenging jobs.

I know people say it often, but I'll say it too: Communication and negotiation skills are more valuable than the topics on the page. Why spend your nights on diminishing returns when you can get pretty far with just the basics of negotiation? Most engineers are overeducated in terms of what they need to know when it comes to technical skills. But other important skills? We're very undereducated. Why work hard to be even more overeducated, while ignoring the deficiencies?

19
ousmanedev 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved this list so much that I created a public Trello board that summarizes it, and helps you track your progress if you're following the curriculum.https://github.com/ousmanedev/teach-yourself-computer-scienc...
20
johnhenry 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I kept two text books after graduating college -- one was Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. I also remember going back through Harvey's videos online whenever I missed lecture... are those being taken down too? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13768856
21
autorun 2 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a good list of books, but it's terrible to start with. I'm pro-reading, pro-book, but I mean, you can't be motivated on learning computer science knowing that you SHOULD read all those books.
22
rerx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
As a physicist breaking into software engineering, but lacking education in CS, this list is extremely welcome to me.
23
willbw 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Appreciate the short list and not hundreds of links to resources.
24
mzzter 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
THANK YOU.
25
partycoder 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Personally I think one of the problems with self-learning are gaps in knowledge.

As a part of a formal education you get to learn what you like, as well as what you do not like much.

My advice to self-learners is: never engage in "cargo-cult programming". This means: do not touch or reuse code that you do not understand. Force yourself to understand. If you lack the time, write it down and follow up later.

26
james_niro 4 hours ago 0 replies      
ITunesU have great computer science classes which is offered my major universities
27
sidcool 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I am a self taught programmer with 10 years experience. Would this help me?
28
javajosh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I strongly feel that Erlang really, really needs more visibility in the world. It is an important language for distributed systems, but the language itself is startlingly spare, using recursion and pattern-matching in lieu of conditionals. There are two resources that I like, a 3 week Future Learn course [1] and Learn You Some Erlang [2].

It is my belief that the Erlang "process" is a true object, as opposed to Ruby/Java/C++ etc object which is, ultimately, a thin easily-torn veneer over global spaghetti.

WhatsApp's acquisition for $1B for a 57-person team that could run a large, world-wide messaging system with Erlang should also be considered a resounding endorsement.

Last but not least, I personally have come to see the overall trend toward statelessness is a coping mechanism to deal with bad technology.

(If I could change my name to ErlangJosh, and if it sounded good, I would.)

1. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/functional-programming-e...

2. http://learnyousomeerlang.com/

29
suyash 6 hours ago 1 reply      
There are almost dozen blogs and websites promising to teach yourself CS - great initiative but most people are either saying the same things or missing few key points here and there. Everyone seems to tell it as if they know it best.
6
Rand Paul: NSA Routinely Monitors Americans Communications Without Warrants theintercept.com
496 points by remx  12 hours ago   204 comments top 13
1
grandalf 11 hours ago 8 replies      
While this article offers the clearest presentation of the issue I've seen to date, I think the key point (which the article points out halfway in) is that the truth of Trump's claim that he was wiretapped does not depend on the presence or absence of a FISA warrant.

The system is designed to be used without warrant, so those harping on the detail of whether or not a warrant existed that had Trump in scope are not focused on the core issue.

It would be nice if all surveillance could be traced back to FISA warrants, but Snowden's revelations make it clear this is absolutely not the case.

2
exabrial 12 hours ago 7 replies      
My opinion on hn was unpopular when I spoke out against Apple during the San Bernardino affair, because the FBI seemed to have the proper DOJ signoff and I think the motivation was obvious.

However this is unacceptable. We are a society of laws, and one of them is due process. Spying likely started during the Bush years, and Obama somehow escaped scrutiny for continuing the program (even with Snowden leaks). Hopefully it finally gets shut down during the Trump administration, even if merely because the media seems far less tolerant of his transgressions.

3
mgamache 12 hours ago 6 replies      
The problem with the press coverage of this topic is a lack of personalization. What does the government know about me and why is that important? I think most US citizens would be shocked to learn that most of our personal information is accessible without a warrant. (phone records / bank account / email / web history / phone location data / Car location / Purchase history / Facebook etc....). Also, how much the government can interpret from that information.
4
1001101 12 hours ago 2 replies      
It's interesting that the article mentions then Sen. Obama's change of heart re: the FISA Amendments Act - saying he would filibuster it and then voting for it. I wonder what led to his change of heart. I haven't heard that explained.
5
emehrkay 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Where exactly does Paul stand on issues of privacy like this? You'd think we is against it, but he is also okay with ISPs selling your browsing history.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/03/gop-senators-new...

6
linkregister 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The author of this article did a poor job of refuting Susan Hennessey's statement that reverse targeting is unlawful and not practiced. Taking an excerpt of a Hayden speech and then highlighting his statement that "communications with one end in the U.S." are the most interesting doesn't really prove this.

The author would have a stronger argument by sticking to the facts. Searches of U.S. persons without a warrant are directly at odds with the language in the 4th amendment of the Constitution, full stop.

7
Darthy 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Of course the other 7.2 billion people in the world are also routinely monitored, but since this is an action on foreign territory, these 7.2 billion people have no recourse against this practice.
8
lordnacho 11 hours ago 6 replies      
I have a question about this whole government intrusion thing. Perhaps a lawyer can explain:

Suppose the government gets a warrant to wiretap some guy. He happens to get a call from his lawyer, and the government overhears that he's committed some crime.

Now there's an attorney/client privilege preventing you from directly producing the tape (is there?) so you can't just do that. But the fact that you've heard this means as an investigator you'll probably pursue this guy much more aggressively, and perhaps gather other evidence rather than give up.

How does that work?

9
wallace_f 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
The world would be a much worse place without people like Greenwald.
10
willvarfar 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Why aren't politicians and their staff using end-to-end encrypted VOIP?
11
caycep 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Dana Priest and William Arkin's project documents a lot of the issues w/ the intelligence bureaucract.... http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/
12
youdontknowtho 11 hours ago 6 replies      
13
strictnein 11 hours ago 1 reply      
One feels that Paul doesn't quite have a full grasp of the techniques he's describing (and it sounds like he's conflating a lot of stuff that Snowden leaked), but that headline sure gets the clicks, so let's go with it. Especially since it's Greenwald, who uses Paul's jumbled mess of an explanation to burn everything down.

Doesn't even make sense what he's proposing:Instead of getting a warrant to record the American, the NSA targets the foreigner? But what if they call someone else overseas? Or call people in the US? Seems like a really suboptimal way of targeting someone. And a low-level employee could unmask the caller? Sure, and that could also lead to that employee getting fired and prosecuted. I can access lots of data at work, but I would be shown the door and possibly sued if I did so.

7
Build a digital clock in Conway's Life stackexchange.com
707 points by ChuckMcM  2 days ago   83 comments top 13
2
nickcw 2 days ago 0 replies      
What fun!

I did a similar project in minecraft with my teenaged son a few years ago. We started by designing gates (made of torches and redstone), then a clock, then a divider chain, then a demulitiplexer which drove the 7 digit segments. We cheated slightly because the clock counted in hexadecimal. It was a great father son bonding project, being able to teach each other about minecraft and electronics!

It looks a whole lot harder in life though, but I guess when you've mastered the basic gates it must build up the same way. Building it in 2d makes an extra challenge though.

3
saganus 2 days ago 5 replies      
Since Conway's Life is Turing Complete (IIRC), it would be theoretically possible for someone to write a compiler for it, no?

This seems obviously very hard, but since this seems to be catching up, how long until someone decides it's "easier" to write some sort of language + compiler that outputs the initial state needed to do whatever you want in a Life's board?

On another note...this is truly mind-blasting. So, what else do people like him/her do when looking for a challenge? I can't even start to fathom what kind of intelligence level do you need for this, let alone imagine what would I find challenging if I were able to reach these level of mental performance.

Or maybe it's just my puny brain trying to make sense of it... but it just seems so amazing to me the type of minds that you can encounter when public forums like SO are there for almost everyone to access.

4
kator 1 day ago 0 replies      
Direct link to the clock running in a browser:

https://copy.sh/life/?gist=f3413564b1fa9c69f2bad4b0400b8090&...

5
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm once again amazed at how "routine" this stuff seems to be. In the top solution go to the life simulator and paste in a copy of the gist and then click 'fit pattern' and run. Amazing stuff.
6
Aardwolf 1 day ago 0 replies      
The code is copypastable into the program Golly, which can run it much faster than Javascript.

The reason that this is great, is that it is awesome to try to mess with such patterns in life, by breaking something in one location by locally altering a few pixels and seeing how the failure slowly spreads throughout the whole mechanism.

Hashlife in javascript starts hicking up on that, Golly can simulate it at very watchable speed :)

7
westoncb 2 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone would like to see/interact with some more interesting patterns (often with explanations), I just finished this WebGL Conway's app a couple weeks ago: http://symbolflux.com/conwayz/
8
omegaworks 2 days ago 0 replies      
An entire society is my alarm clock :D

"That's just slavery with extra steps!"

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igravious 2 days ago 1 reply      
Terrific find ChuckMcM. Only took 7 months to answer. Next up, Tetris.
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agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Talking about Conway's. I've seen a small talk by Nicolas Schabanel about gliders with DNA bricks. Quite madenning.
11
ryanwatkins 1 day ago 0 replies      
Google Easter has a nice little easter egg when you search for for "conways game of life".
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coldcode 2 days ago 2 replies      
Amazing. Sadly I work 7 days a week and have no time for fun stuff like this.
13
Eerie 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now build a digital clock in Dwarf Fortress.
8
Study: Immigrants Founded 51% of U.S. Billion-Dollar Startups wsj.com
543 points by dankohn1  12 hours ago   584 comments top 56
1
bayesian_horse 11 hours ago 29 replies      
One of the basic premises of anti-immigrant policies is that you can somehow influence the ratio of "useful" vs "not-useful" immigrants.

Apart from the idea of sorting people into useful and useless being inhumane, it also seems to be counterproductive. It looks like every kind of screening of immigrants will deter the more desirable ones, as far as that determination is possible on their arrival at all.

2
Cuuugi 12 hours ago 17 replies      
Whenever I see "Immigration" in the title, i think anti-Trump and get sad.

No one is trying to stop legal immigration.

Tech companies are mad because they are cracking down on H1-B Visa abuse. This is not a bad thing.

3
capocannoniere 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I assume what they really mean by Immigrants Founded 51% of U.S. Billion-Dollar Startups is that 51% of $1B+ U.S. startups have at least one immigrant founder, right? (as opposed to 51% of unicorn founders are immigrants)
4
dankohn1 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I appreciate Matt Yglesias's snarky tweet[0]: "Depriving Americans of valuable founder opportunities". The lump of unicorns fallacy is a nice update to the lump of labor fallacy [1].

[0] https://twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/841305139440959488[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lump_of_labour_fallacy

5
bogomipz 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I have an honest question as I was not familiar National Foundation for American Policy before today.

Does anybody know how they are funded in general or who funded this study?

From some cursory research I see that Stuart Anderson, the person behind the NFAP worked on the Hill in the INS Office of Policy and Planning during the first term of George W. Bush. And his organization now regularly releases studies on public policy. This kind of screams lobbyist to me or at least retained by lobbyists.

I am not making any judgements on anything in the study or any statements about the current political climate I am just trying to read critically. I am curious to hear what other's might know about Stuart Anderson or the NFAP.

6
lumberjack 4 hours ago 1 reply      
All pretension aside, you cannot presume to publicly forment xenophobic sentiments against brown people, implying that they are all kinds of evil, while at the same time presuming to make yourself attractive to highly-skilled tech workers from all around the world.

If you embolden racists, they will start harassing and attacking all kinds of non-white people and that includes, legal recidents from all around the world because frankly racists don't care.

7
TuringNYC 11 hours ago 3 replies      
The irony here:

Some people see studies like this and think, wow, think of how much we'd lose if we didnt let in immigrants. Our economy would be smaller, we'd have fewer jobs, etc.

Other people see studies like this and think, wow, only us locals should own, run, and be employed by these Billion-Dollar Startups. Bannon has explicitly noted this as a goal!

8
bluthru 10 hours ago 2 replies      
If you want world prosperity this isn't a simple issue at all.

Why should the richest country in the world get richer by taking the best and brightest who could have helped elevate their own countries? Isn't this just contributing to a world stratification of wealth?

9
ralmidani 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm appalled by the need for statistics showing how "useful" immigrants are.

Combating xenophobia should be a moral issue, not a utilitarian one.

I understand some people will not be swayed by moral arguments, but society doesn't seem to try anymore. Utilitarian arguments have become the default.

10
ctdonath 10 hours ago 2 replies      
For the eleventy-millionth time:

Most of those accused of being "anti-immigrant" aren't against immigrants, but are against illegal immigrants. There must be an orderly process to entry, primarily to prevent criminals & diseases, and also to keep the numbers assimilate-able.

The headline alone seems designed to invoke consternation where none existed, or to construe a common position as anti-immigrant which isn't.

11
EternalData 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I would argue that the very act of immigration means you're getting a higher-than-average selection of a country's population. Immigrants, after all, are a self-selecting group. People who are willing to upend everything in their lives in order to better themselves and their families would seem, to me, to be quite well-suited for entrepreneurship.

The other reality is that traditional means of economic ascendancy in countries are often restricted to immigrants. Best example I can think of is the non-acknowledgement of certain foreign degrees in America.

12
jws 12 hours ago 0 replies      
A link to the study for those without WSJ subscriptions: http://nfap.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Immigrants-and-Bi... [PDF]
13
xt_cube 6 hours ago 2 replies      
This argument is weak...

In my humble opinion not only are we doing a terrible job at educating our youth; but we are also condemning large numbers of them to a live of poverty.

Who is to say what our underprivileged youth could accomplish with the proper support and education?

Yes, this country was built by immigrants; but things have changed, we must accept that. Long gone are the days of prosperity for all. I would argue that today, our system is failing large portions of the population and addressing these failures should be our top concern.

The current environment of despair and hopelessness that suffocates many Americans makes it difficult to have a constructive dialog about immigration. Would you have this discussion in Flint, Michigan? Do homeless veterans have access to free Airbnb? Do aging Americans who on a daily basis must decide between food or medicine find this discussion fair? And you know I could go on and on...

I realize that modernizing our infrastructure or fixing our education system are very hard problems, addressing poverty and restoring faith in the system will be even harder. And yes, bringing prosperity and hope to all seems almost impossible; but these aren't reasons not to try.

My apologies for the rant; but I think many of the discussions around immigration fail to recognize that America is much more than the wealthy coasts. There is real suffering out there and we should be sympathetic to that and realize that despite our real or perceived cultural differences with the millions of disenfranchised Americans; this country is theirs too!

14
swanson 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The linked study has one "key finding" that "The billion dollar startup companies with an immigrant founder excel at job creation" but I don't see anything in the study to indicate how the job creation at these immigrant founded companies compares to "non-immigrant" founded companies. The provided data appears to just be a table listing how many jobs were created at these companies with no mechanism for relative comparison.

Does anyone know of existing evidence to support this claim?

15
iconjack 11 hours ago 2 replies      
None from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan or Yemen.
16
dmode 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the link to the actual study http://nfap.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Immigrants-and-Bi...

Indian immigrants seem to lead the pack, but it is still the tip of the iceberg. If the current shackles are taken off from Indian immigrants, I bet there will be way more entrepreneurs. I would love the calculate the impact on US GDP based on immigrants who are not allowed to start a company

17
rs1234 11 hours ago 3 replies      
A bunch of folks on this forum love to bash the H1B visa. But that visa is not so new - this is how America has always filled her need for labor. Please take a few moments to read about "indentured servants" - immigrants from Britain and other parts of Europe who came to the US in 1800s. They were required to serve 5 to 7 years working in fields. After that they were given land and free to work for themselves. The H1B visa has similarities. Guess what is the duration of stay for a H1B visa? 6 years. During this time they are pretty much tied to the company that sponsored their visa. After that they are given the green card, which lets them work for any company.

http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Indentured_Servants_in_C...

18
Mikeb85 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Good study and all, but I think it misses the point of the current sentiment in the US. Regardless, yes, immigrants are more likely to found businesses than natives. Whether or not their businesses become billion dollar startups because of their efforts or venture capitalists is another question, but yes, they help the economy (As much as those who are a drag on it? Who knows).

I wrote a lengthy post about the effects of immigration recently, so here's I'll just focus on the issue of human capital.

Immigration creates a situation for rich countries to be able to draw from a much larger pool of talent than they otherwise would since they take talent from other countries. This is a great situation for the host country, and devastates developing economies. It's basically colonialism all over, except instead of stealing physical commodities you're stealing human capital.

Relevant article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_capital_flight

And of course, there are negative effects in the host country, namely that there's more competition for jobs, which can drive wages down, eliminate some jobs for natives altogether, etc... The hope is that this effect is offset by the job creation effect, sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. The US rust belt certainly doesn't seem to be gaining much, but other areas are.

Anyhow, the whole point of this is that there's well known pros and cons to immigration. It's not all pro, nor all con. You need to ask exactly what you want the end-game to be - not just for the US, but for the world. Human capital flight is the single biggest obstacle to development for the third world. At the same time, it allows the west to gather all the brightest minds in the world to maintain its hegemony. What's more important - maintaining a dominant place in the world, or more equal development that doesn't leave anyone behind? (I mean, I know the answer - we're willing to destroy countries who go against western hegemony and simply absorb the migrants)

19
nerdponx 12 hours ago 3 replies      
What percentage of all startups are founded by immigrants? If it's on the order of 51%, you can't rule out the possibility that this number just reflects the base occurrence rate of immigrants in the "population" of all startup founders.
20
kolbe 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd be careful with this information. It did not serve German Jews in the 30's very well to emphasize the fact that they had become important elements of media, finance and science. Instead of showing appreciation, there was a backlash by Germans who felt they were being excluded from these things. It's even easier to see how that same misguided victim sentiment could be applied to immigrants "taking" the opportunities to create and own tech from American.
21
DodgyEggplant 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A 250 years study found that immigrants and their descendants founded 100% of any U.S. business
22
drumttocs8 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't it be more useful to see the percentage of total startups- and even better, the percentage of GDP created by these startups? That would seem to include key measures such as job creation, etc. Simply measuring the percentage of giant companies doesn't seem as useful.
23
Steeeve 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Wait a second.

You can come to the US, start a company, employ yourself, and support your own h1-b?

24
vikiomega9 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I was unable to get past the paywall (with the web option) but I'm wondering if race and inherent privilege that comes with it is considered in the study.
25
notadoc 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If you go back far enough, immigrants or children of immigrants founded likely 99% of US companies. Is this really surprising given the US is a almost entirely a nation of immigrants?
26
that_guy1 12 hours ago 1 reply      
And the amoutn of U.S. Billion-Dollar Startups founded by illegal immigrants?
27
DarkKomunalec 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Now that we know immigrants are better businesspeople than those US-born, the next logical step is to find out which immigrants are the best, and preferentially allow those...
28
mavdi 9 hours ago 0 replies      
So 49% were founded by native Americans?
29
virtuabhi 11 hours ago 0 replies      
For the people saying why an article from 2016 is on the front page, here is why this issue is still relevant:

"Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." - Congressman Steve King, Republican Iowa, 12th March, https://twitter.com/SteveKingIA/status/840980755236999169

30
eugeneionesco 11 hours ago 1 reply      
How many of them were illegal immigrants? Can't read the article because it's behind a paywall for me.
31
tapatio 7 hours ago 0 replies      
When you have nothing to lose, you take large risks.
32
coder007 10 hours ago 0 replies      
To Read the Full Story, Subscribe or Sign In. No thanks!
33
shas3 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is from 2016.
34
hvmonk 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Who exactly is not an immigrant in the states? If one traverse lineage of any of these so called "non-immigrants", within 3-4 generations one will see they were an immigrant too.
35
mediocrejoker 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is from March, 2016
36
rebootthesystem 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This dovetails nicely into another discussion [1] I got tangled into because I don't view the world as the average HN user seems to. It's about the claim that the richest n% take-up the bulk of opportunities (or some versions thereof).

The same HN readership who believes this narrative also gets on board with the idea that we need immigrants in order to innovate.

If the latter is true it very much supports my claim that opportunity in the US has never been greater and that the rich are not keeping anyone from reaching for the stars.

It also supports the idea that rising inequality has nothing to do with the rich doing things the rich do but rather a complex set of factors, ranging from education to lack of drive and motivation. Some choose to blame others (the rich) for their ailments instead of going after root causes. The latter is far more difficult and time consuming.

Immigrants arrive at our shores devoid of these pre-conditions. Why, then, is it that they excel and thrive? Simple: Drive, motivation, dedication, commitment, grit and lack of victim mentality.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who understands subjects such as competitive sports. Often the difference between athletes of similar physical capabilities is in their minds far more than anything else. Same characteristics I listed above: Drive, motivation, dedication, commitment and grit.

A few months ago I could not dead-lift 325 lbs when just a few days earlier I had done 320. I could not get the damn thing off the ground. My trainer looked at me and said: "Dude, it's all in your head. Take five minutes and think about that". Minutes later I completed my set as if nothing had happened.

If it is true that we need to "import" innovators and entrepreneurs this is a sign that our approach to education (and other areas) need a serious pivot. With over 300 million people this country should not need to import entrepreneurs or well qualified candidates. Tech companies would not be crying for qualified people if our educational system was doing a good job.

How many high school kids graduate with a solid understanding of how business, money and finances work? Virtually none.

Our kids graduate with, for the most part, a binary view of the world ahead: Enlist in the military or be a good employee for life. The vast majority of them have trouble calculating a tip at a restaurant and couldn't tell you what simple interest is if their life depended on it. They know more about Kim Kardashian than they do about business, finance, investment and career building.

How can this be good for the US?

And we blame the rich for a gap in equality? How about we stop living in fantasy and address real problems?

Interestingly enough, another thread on HN today [2] echoes some of the issues with education as it pertains to opportunity. A quote I like from the current top comment:

"At the same time, we have a public school system that after 18 years with a child...has not actually prepared them to get a job. That's borderline criminal IMHO."

Clearly some understand the realities of where we are failing while others prefer the simpler path of blaming others for all problems.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13847775

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13858508

37
notliketherest 10 hours ago 0 replies      
*LEGAL immigrants.
38
pascalxus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Persons with Brown eyes founded 51% [XX%] of Billion-Dollar Startups.
39
OniBait 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Why is a study from a year ago being brought up now?
40
kingmanaz 10 hours ago 1 reply      
>Immigrants Founded 51% of U.S. Billion-Dollar Startups

Curious if the overwhelmingly-Jewish editorialists at WSJ would likewise rationalize unlimited non-Jewish immigration to Israel based on spurious "greater good" economic arguments.

Maybe there's something more important than the economy at stake when deciding the fate of a national inheritance?

41
kingmanaz 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Place a moratorium on legal immigration. The economy is a means rather than an end, and, three-hundred-million people is more than enough for North America.
42
xname2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
How about Canada? They have a point system. Should they have even a higher percentage?
43
draw_down 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think immigrants are good even when they don't found billion dollar companies.
44
frozenport 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Proof that immigrants are stealing our unicorn jobs!
45
h4nkoslo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's fascinating to see how the people pushing this argument prioritize economic nationalism exactly to the extent it promotes open borders, and exactly no further.
46
kingmanaz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Immigrants" also destroyed Southern California.

Try making distinctions.

47
rs1234 12 hours ago 3 replies      
48
awt 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this is true in China and Japan as well.
49
ugabugawoowop 11 hours ago 0 replies      
so since when wsj compares legal immigrants to illegal immigrants, there is bias right there.
50
randyrand 11 hours ago 0 replies      
which of those were illegal immigrants? isn't tha particularly what trump wants to stop?
51
jbverschoor 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Immigrants founded 100% of U.S.
52
somid3 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Title says it all. That is why the US is kicking immigrants out.
53
jecjec 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Therefore, we need unbridled in-migration of Hispanics and Arabs!
54
dominotw 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Thwarted by paywall but why does there need to be a "study" on this? Can't you just gather this info from govt databases?
55
partiallypro 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This is true but it needs perspective, and I am by no means anti-immigrant. I'm actually a pretty open border person, and am 100% against Trump's proposals (though perhaps there are some instances of H1B being abuse [see Disney].) However, this study should have a big caveat, for starters there are significantly more tax benefits for starting a business if you are an immigrant. Secondly, immigrants don't have entrenched interests or preoccupations that would otherwise give them a very high opportunity cost to starting their own business. So the start-up industry is a bit skewed in favor of immigrants naturally.

I would love for us to equal the playing field, not by blocking immigrants, but by leveling the field on tax benefits and subsidies (ideally getting rid of subsidies and flattening the structure) and have reforms that lower the opportunity cost of all Americans that allows them to start their own business. There are way more reforms needed too outside of that, which everyone already has to deal with in regards to starting a business.

So, imo, the complaint or point here shouldn't be that immigrants are better, or Americans are worse or there's only so much of the pie etc...it should be that we need reforms that makes it easier for everyone to start a business.

56
smdz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
By attracting and immigrating the best and brightest, the US actually does injustice towards its citizens.

And then its also an unfair act against other countries. The other countries that send immigrants technically stay poorer and weaker - because their talent is gone!!!

Make a choice - Do we want to keep pouring in the best and brightest from the globe - or Do we want to keep our citizens employed? - Can't have both in longer term. Keep it unsolved and something extreme might happen to resolve it.

9
SEC Rejects Rule Change for Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund [pdf] sec.gov
566 points by jrbedard  3 days ago   336 comments top 43
1
chollida1 3 days ago 18 replies      
Bitcoin just went from a high of 1327.1926 to 995.9575 in the blink of an eye.

Wow.

From the ruling....

> First, the exchange must have surveillance-sharing agreements with significant markets for trading the underlying commodity or derivatives on that commodity. And second, those markets must be regulated.

> Based on the record before it, the Commission believes that the significant markets for bitcoin are unregulated.I'm not sure I entirely understand if they mean that Bitcoin itself must be regulated or just that the SEC needs to see that the major exchanges are regulated.

If its the former, then I think this is game over, if its the later then............hmmm I really don't know.

EDIT Having gone through the ruling it looks like they have a few reservations.

1) Most of the bitcoin trading happens on unregulated markets

2) Most of the volume happends in China and not the us and is therefore hard to regulate.

3) The ETF is tied to the Winklevoss own Gemini exchange which has little volume and often inferior pricing to other more liquid exchanges.

4) They bring up the lack of a liquid futures market, though I'm not sure this is really a concern.

> The Commission has, in past approvals of commodity-trust ETPs, emphasized theimportance of surveillance-sharing agreements between the national securities exchange listingand trading the ETP, and significant markets relating to the underlying asset.144 Such agreements,which are a necessary tool to enable the ETP-listing exchange to detect and deter manipulativeconduct, enable the exchange to meet its obligation under Section 6(b)(5) of the Exchange Act tohave rules that are designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices and toprotect investors and the public interest

So until bitcoin markets are regulated by the SEC or similar no ETP/ETF products I suppose.

I'm a bit disappointed that there is no ETF but this is pretty darn reasonable.

2
subverter 3 days ago 2 replies      
Coin Center executive director Jerry Brito:

> The Winklevoss ETF proposal was rejected because the SEC found that the significant markets for Bitcoin tend to be unregulated overseas markets that are potentially subject to price manipulation. But this creates a chicken and egg problem. How do we develop well-capitalized and regulated markets in the U.S. and Europe if financial innovators arent allowed to bring products to market that grow domestic demand for digital currencies like Bitcoin?

Source: https://coincenter.org/link/coin-etf-statement

3
johnyzee 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a pretty big blow.

The ETF has been the talk of the town for the last four years, and it is not unreasonable to think that it has been holding the hand under the price, since to a lot of people it represented the coveted inflow of institutional investment into bitcoin.

With this gone, the immediate outlook for bitcoin is bleak. There is little market adoption to speak of, in fact bitcoin is probably losing market share, as the initial hype and attention grabbing announcements of bitcoin support have died down, and a lot of merchants have decided that the miniscule business it drives is not worth the trouble. Also, the network is straining even under the current load, leading to (much) longer transaction confirmation times and higher fees. The average fee for a bitcoin transaction is now almost one dollar - this rules out a lot of use cases that previously people would have said were ideal for bitcoin.

Which leads me to the even bigger problem: The bitcoin community and ecosystem is in a massive deadlock, between two sides that are equally rabid and antagonistic, and dividing the project down the middle, between the developers and the mining operators. Few outsiders likely know how bad it has become, but visit r/bitcoin and r/btc on reddit if you're curious. This would be concerning in itself for the future of the project, but it also means that right now no major updates can be made to the bitcoin network, because each camp runs a big percentage of the network and block any new initiative from the other side.

All of this makes me very bearish for bitcoin in the medium term. I am very sure that bitcoin has a future, but how long out that is, and how big it is, remains doubtful and could well be influenced negatively by particularly the issue of governance. Satoshi once said something like "in ten years bitcoin is either worth a huge amount or nothing". I'm starting to fear that might not be true - bitcoin could also become a small niche platform for a very limited set of use cases.

4
gregshap 3 days ago 5 replies      
So what are the expected benefits of a bitcoin ETF? Many of the traditional benefits of ETFs are obsolete when you can just buy and hold an equivalent amount of bitcoin

The biggest benefit I can think of is that some institutional investors have restrictions on the types of securities that they can buy.

Someone could solve this by creating a company to buy lots of bitcoin, and then having an IPO to list that company on a public market. Then pension funds would be allowed to buy it, Jane Doe could buy some in her IRA, etc.

Any reason this wouldn't be just as good as an ETF?

5
mahyarm 3 days ago 2 replies      
So if you have a rare-earth metal commodity ETF that can be dug from the ground in conflict areas and have exchange markets in these wild areas, would the SEC deny that commodity ETF then because they wouldn't have surveillance-sharing agreements with those markets?
6
JoshTriplett 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's interesting, based on the rest of the ruling, that they're not particularly concerned with any other aspects of it as a commodity (they acknowledge various interesting properties of it but note that those wouldn't themselves prevent them from approving this), but instead solely concerned that the rest of the Bitcoin market isn't controlled and monitored well enough for them to regulate activities on it.
7
politician 3 days ago 1 reply      
"The Commission believes that, in order to meet this standard, an exchange that lists and trades shares of commodity-trust exchange-traded products (ETPs) must, in addition to other applicable requirements, satisfy two requirements that are dispositive in this matter. First, the exchange must have surveillance-sharing agreements with significant markets for trading the underlying commodity or derivatives on that commodity. And second, those markets must be regulated.

Based on the record before it, the Commission believes that the significant markets for bitcoin are unregulated."

8
JamieF1 3 days ago 3 replies      
Yet the price has only dropped around 80 dollars compared to yesterday. Not too bad. For a few minutes it dropped by around 250 dollars but it picked up quickly somehow.
9
Taek 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a good thing for Bitcoin. The ETF rules in my opinion gave too much power to miners. The rules stated that the ETF would follow the chain with the most work after just 48 hours.

Miners need income, because mining is actively expensive. In the long term, this means they have to mine on the chain with the most valuable block reward. This means the economy really gets to decide the longest chain, not the miners.

But the ETF likely would have been large enough to tip the scales. Miners can stomach 48 hours of loss to push an agenda.

And it's probably not good to have such a huge portion of the economy in one place anyway. An ETF will make more sense when bitcoin has more maturity.

10
mrb 3 days ago 0 replies      
In summary: "First, the exchange must have surveillance-sharing agreements with significant markets for trading the underlying commodity or derivatives on that commodity. And second, those markets must be regulated."
11
waynenilsen 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am surprised to see how many people on HN do not understand the value proposition of Bitcoin.
12
HMehr 1 day ago 0 replies      
I very much agree with SEC's decesion, just for other reasons.

The usuall ETFs are baskets of bonds, stocks and commodities. Regardless of the level of volatility, they are all priced per the capacity of those stocks/bonds/commodities to create economical value. That means you have a solid economical logic to price them. Of course, supply and demand impacts the price, but even if no one wants to buy a certain stock, that stock has a marketable value. You can take the assets of that company, sell them and divine the cash by the number of stocks out there. Without going to too much details, I fail to understand how bitcoin can be treated like a stock/bond/commodities? Bitcoin value is purely based on the supply and demand forces. Without supply and demand, bitcoin has no value. On its own, it has no value generation power and therefore cannot be compared or traded like a stock, neither can be packaged into an ETF.

As much as I do not like to agree with SEC, this one is a right decesion!

13
niklasbuschmann 3 days ago 0 replies      
https://cryptowatch.de/kraken/btcusd - chart

gravity is strong here

14
jacquesm 3 days ago 0 replies      
> First, the exchange must have surveillance-sharing agreements with significant markets for trading the underlying commodity or derivatives on that commodity.

> And second, those markets must be regulated.

So, essentially: bitcoin does not and can not satisfy these two conditions (nor can any other such scheme) and therefore you can't trade anything that is directly or indirectly representing bitcoins.

15
EternalData 2 days ago 0 replies      
The volatility of bitcoin to regulatory announcements is basically sky-high, and I imagine a money making opportunity.

Checked Coinbase right about 30 minutes after it cratered down to 995. Text price alerts don't seem to be working :/

16
delieum 2 days ago 0 replies      
This seems to be a victory for bitcoin. Why would a government entity know what to do with a purposely designed non governmental decentralized currency? Especially a profit seeing ETP loaded on top with 0.xx% commission? It's ludicrous to imagine the SEC jumping on this train, BTC will outlive them. As for the Wrinkles twins, they are profit seekers, nothing more. The purpose of a decentralized currency is to be a decentralized currency, enabling peer to peer outside of sovereign intervention economics. This is a non sovereign movement regulated by supply, demand, peers sprinkled with occasional robbery here and there. This digital currency which will outlive many sovereign states that currently exist.
17
jtlien1 3 days ago 2 replies      
Something useful like bitcoin etf gets rejected. But look at some of the stocks that are allowed to trade...Magnegas for example has been an ongoing fraud for 17 years. Fake delivery of machines to Kazahkstan. It would be easy to prove this a fraud but the SEC does not care.
18
mbrookes 3 days ago 1 reply      
This ruling should win an award for plain English - it's exceptionally well written. (not /s)
19
nonbel 2 days ago 0 replies      
There is another proposed ETF being ruled on in a couple weeks:

>"The Commission, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act,9 designates March 30, 2017 as the date by which the Commission should either approve or disapprove the proposed rule change."

https://news.bitcoin.com/sec-delays-decision-solidx-bitcoin-...

20
tormeh 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can't they just file in another country? I mean, it doesn't really matter where it's traded; any decent bank will give you access to at least the LSE and Xetra in addition to the two big American exchanges.
21
aphextron 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can someone please explain to me the logic in treating Bitcoin as an investment vehicle? I get that fiat currencies are traded like equity, but this is not that. I also understand that there is a huge potential for short term gains, but the risk is just as great for a total loss.

Bitcoin is a means of transferring wealth. It is a tool, not a commodity. When are people going to stop this speculation and treat it as such?

22
appcloud 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Bitcoin markets don't have to be regulated for this ETF to be tradable. The Winklevoss could still list their ETF on the OTC Markets and anyone with a brokerage account would still be able to trade it. There's already a Bitcoin Investment trust that is currently tradable on the OTC market though as one commenter mentioned it's currently trading at a premium.
23
choxi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could someone explain what a Bitcoin ETF is? My understanding is that ETFs are like index funds, which group other stocks into one basket. There's only one Bitcoin though, so what would a Bitcoin ETF collate? The "Description of the Proposal" didn't really make that clear to me.
24
dhosek 3 days ago 7 replies      
Here's the basic thing: Bitcoin is fatally flawed. Is it meant to be a payment method (in which case an ETF or otherwise treating it as an investment vehicle is roughly as nonsensical as having an ETF that deals with blank checks) or is it an investment (and if it's an investment, what on earth are people investing in?). The volatility of Bitcoin plus the constrained supply leading towards upwards pressure on the price of bitcoins mean that it's a deflationary currency and deflation is a bad thing as it creates an incentive to not spend. This means that the only real reason to spend Bitcoin or otherwise use it as a payment is for situations where that's the only option and right now, and for the foreseeable future, that means assorted illegal or at best borderline illegal products, which gives it a halo if unrespectability that the Winkelvoss twins are not going to erase. Perhaps a blockchain-based cryptocurrency might in the future resolve these issues, but otherwise it's a doomed product that I wouldn't put a single penny (or watt of household electricity) into.
25
nassirkhan 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what assets are resistant to mass systemic failures arising due to calamities such as war etc. Bitcoin: without the internet, it would be hard to transactFine Art and Gold: hard to carry aroundDollars, land, guns, alcohol?
26
jbmorgado 3 days ago 2 replies      
As usual in the bitcoin universe we are going to get a lot of people trying to explain you why something they were saying it would be so great for bitcoin until 1h ago, is actually a very bad thing for bitcoin and that this was actually the best possible scenario.
27
jabgrabdthrow 2 days ago 0 replies      
That's a bummer I always hoped I could invest into an Exchange Traded version of exposure to Bitcoin

ha ha ha, now china gets all the exchange data, morons

28
jzig 3 days ago 6 replies      
Coinbase is down.
29
hisabness 3 days ago 0 replies      
How did you find this? I was unable to do so from the SEC's main page.
30
cgb223 2 days ago 1 reply      
Whats the advantage to buying into a Bitcoin ETF vs just buying the same value directly in Bitcoin?
31
saycheese 3 days ago 9 replies      
What is the best real-time source for Bitcoin's value?
32
h1d 2 days ago 0 replies      
PBoC must be pissed if their intention of suspending leverages from Chinese exchanges was to smooth out the ETF approval.
33
wnevets 3 days ago 3 replies      
Bitcoin fans will still try to spin this as good for bitcoin and that everyone needs to buy bitcoin now
34
bellajbadr 3 days ago 1 reply      
i don't know why people get surprised it was obvious from the begining sec won't approve the request i am afraid it was just a trader manipulatioin
35
nikolay 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bubbles burst. Even the current price is pumped by China and the miners who can't survive at a low price. The crash to $0 is way overdue.
36
Mikeb85 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good. It makes no sense to base an ETF on an unregulated crypto-currency. It was pretty much just a scam to juice the Bitcoin price...
37
PaulHoule 3 days ago 0 replies      
At least somebody has some sense.
38
antocv 3 days ago 1 reply      
Time for people to start using https://byteball.org
39
joecool1029 3 days ago 2 replies      
that was great to watch, went from $1300 to $975 in about 90 seconds.

We'll see how long the dead cat lasts.

See you at $600.

40
hirokiky 3 days ago 0 replies      
I selled my BTC in these days but I didn't know this topic.Always charts of BTC is too reactive so I think it's not for investment...
41
paulpauper 3 days ago 4 replies      
This is the same committee that approved VXX and UVXX ,which have lost 99.999% of their value

There is an OTC fund that holds Bitcoin...but at a large premium to NAV

42
aric 3 days ago 0 replies      
Unrealistic security should be the only reason to disapprove of a bitcoin ETF governed by the SEC. Not only is it poorly suited for reckless centralization by thousands of indirect investors, but bitcoin as a whole would be setup up for massive government retaliation once the keys are compromised. MtGox x 10,000.
43
brilliantcode 3 days ago 1 reply      
Having sold all of my bitcoin at ~800 at a small loss (a significant portion coming from commission fee( ~$150+ to convert low four digit USD amount of bitcoins to fiat.) I am paying attention to the bitcoin prices closely. As USD gains more interest it's going to put downward pressure on gold and bitcoin.

There's no way this is going to gain mass adoption by being this expensive.

More importantly, this signals strong government regulation in the bitcoin and cryptocoin industry in general. I wouldn't be surprised if we started seeing security laws being applied retroactively to all the scams like initial coin offering (like IPO but unregulated and heavily manipulated) on Bitcoin and Ethereum.

To the wary trend watcher, this is exactly what VC's feared and noted by the significant decline in VC investment in blockchain and cryptocurrency startups.

10
Ask HN: What are some good technology blogs to follow?
835 points by buddies2705  1 day ago   173 comments top 81
1
jamesblonde 1 day ago 4 replies      
The morning paper (in Computer Science):https://blog.acolyer.org/
2
jjude 1 day ago 5 replies      
These are the three technology sites I visit (almost) daily:

1. https://dev.to/2. http://highscalability.com/3. https://www.oreilly.com/ideas

3
patgenzler 1 day ago 0 replies      
https://stratechery.com/ - best tech blog on the Internet. Nothing related to coding but thorough and thoughtful take on every-day-happenings in the tech industry.
4
jsmeaton 1 day ago 1 reply      
Steve Yegge was one of the best bloggers I've read. Other than a post from November it'd been dark for a few years. Still a good read though.

https://steve-yegge.blogspot.com.au/

https://sites.google.com/site/steveyegge2/blog-rants

5
6
yuribro 1 day ago 2 replies      
OpenBSD related - http://www.tedunangst.com/flak/

Weekly aggregations:

- http://chneukirchen.org/trivium/

- http://www.dragonflydigest.com/ (Look for the weekly "Lazy Readings" post)

7
smcl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Raymond Chen's posts are excellent https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/
8
toomanybeersies 1 day ago 0 replies      
Troy Hunt: https://www.troyhunt.com/

He writes great articles on security and is the man behind https://haveibeenpwned.com/

9
erlehmann_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
https://blog.fefe.de comes to mind, but it is in German.

For a weekly HN digest, I read this: http://n-gate.com/hackernews/

10
neurocroc 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am keeping a mind map of all blogs that I want to read and follow (https://my.mindnode.com/Lr33AxQg1yTrPzYJrAbFD7E6Wr7cM6YyoUfX...)

It's part of a bigger mind map I am making (https://github.com/nikitavoloboev/knowledge-map)

11
relics443 1 day ago 4 replies      
Coding Horror [1], and Joel on Software [2] are my favorites.

[1] https://blog.codinghorror.com/[2] https://www.joelonsoftware.com/

12
ddebernardy 1 day ago 4 replies      
John Gruber's blog, Daring Fireball, is pretty good if you don't mind the occasional (ok, near systematic) pro-Apple biais.

Likewise for the Macalope's column.

13
dmit 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ted Unangst does a great job aggregating links to tech content over at http://www.tedunangst.com/inks/. His own blog is great as well.

Also, previously: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11563516.

14
geerlingguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://hackaday.com Has a lot of good content for IoT and hardware hacking. Lately some spot-on articles summarizing various electronics and RF terminology for the layperson.
15
scottpiper 1 day ago 0 replies      
From https://summitroute.com/blog/2017/01/07/news_summaries/ , some have already been mentioned.

- Downclimb (my own), for weekly infosec news summaries: https://summitroute.com/blog/2017/03/12/downclimb/

- Bulletproof TLS, monthly, for crypto and TLS news: https://www.feistyduck.com/bulletproof-tls-newsletter/issue_...

- Mobile security news, monthly: http://www.mulliner.org/blog/blosxom.cgi/security/mobile_sec...

- This week in 4n6, weekly DFIR: https://thisweekin4n6.com/2017/03/12/week-10-2017/

16
heisenbit 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://semiengineering.com/ as I think we are at an inflection point of Moore's Law and it is worth understanding how that plays out at the lower layers of the stack.
17
msangi 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://joeduffyblog.com is great, albeit it's far from being daily. It has long posts about operating system and programming language design
18
idahasen 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Dev networks that are part of my daily dose of information

- https://hashnode.com- http://coderwall.com- http://reddit.com/r/webdev/- https://hackernoon.com

19
jyriand 1 day ago 14 replies      
Somewhat related to following blogs. But how do I follow blogs anyway? Is there any good Google Reader like apps, that are easy to use?
20
remx 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Take your pick from this list here:

https://github.com/kilimchoi/engineering-blogs

21
mappingbabeljc 1 day ago 0 replies      
I write a weekly AI newsletter called Import AI which is also cross-published to this WP blog. I try to cover a mixture of fundamental research papers and applied stuff. It also includes some OpenAI updates: https://jack-clark.net/
22
rekwah 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would recommend https://hackernoon.com/
23
allenleein 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favorites:

1. Freecodecamp: https://medium.freecodecamp.com/2. Hackernoon: https://hackernoon.com/3. The morning paper: https://blog.acolyer.org/4. Codinghorror: https://blog.codinghorror.com/5. a16z: http://a16z.com/6. Ben Thompson :https://stratechery.com/

24
fauria 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have a public list of engineering techblogs at Twitter: https://twitter.com/fauria/lists/techblogs/members
25
JCDenton2052 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some of the blogs from my RSS feed, mainly but not exclusively .NET:

Scott Hanselman

Martin Fowler

Coding horror

Fabulous adventures in coding (Eric Lippert)

Zed Shaw (still on my list even though he seems to have largely abandoned tech)

Ayende Rahien

Steve Yegge

Schneier on security

The Light Cone (Brian Beckman)

The Shade Tree developer (Jeremy Miller)

27
OJFord 1 day ago 1 reply      
This list highlights and confirms a mild annoyance I have every time I see (or get recommended) a blog I might want to follow: it's rarely easy to get an overview of historical posts.

Almost everyone seems to go for the 'no summaries, home page is the latest post in full, followed by the one before in full, ...' format.

Notable exceptions mentioned here: antirez (brief summaries) and danluu (list of titles). Both of these approaches are far better IMO.

28
Fannon 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://www.2ality.com/ for deeper insight in JavaScript and its current development.
29
watwut 1 day ago 1 reply      
https://dzone.com/ actually technical articles for people who prefer tech over pop and culture.
31
xylon 1 day ago 0 replies      
LWN.net - news for the Free Software community
32
benkarst 1 day ago 0 replies      
33
sureshn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would recommend benedict Evans weekly news letter , it gives the best news and updates from the tech world. Unlike a blog site which can be monolithic this news letters covers the top tech happenings of the week and it feels very complete for me
34
jakubgarfield 1 day ago 0 replies      
I publish 4 weekly digests with only 5 links per each every Monday (so you have one article a day).

Programming Digest - https://programmingdigest.net/

C# Digest - https://csharpdigest.net/

Elixir Digest - https://elixirdigest.net/

React Digest - https://reactdigest.net/

35
vgy7ujm 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://perltricks.com is very good.
36
Mojah 1 day ago 1 reply      
Self promotion: https://ma.ttias.be

Not daily, but plenty of links to follow-up on.

Alternatively, weekly summary of all things Linux & open source (RSS feed available); https://cronweekly.com

37
angadsg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stack Overflow newsletters[1] are great as well. It sends you top questions of the week, both answered and unanswered. Great way to learn small things about things you love. Its the perfect application of "Knowledge should be bite-sized".

I subscribe to RPi, Net Eng, CS, theoretical CS and Code Golf news letters. Any other suggestions?

http://stackexchange.com/newsletters

edit: Added link

38
acemarke 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wrote a big list of React/Redux-related blogs in a Reddit comment about a month ago: https://www.reddit.com/r/reactjs/comments/5t8loz/what_are_yo... . Most of them aren't daily, but the content is excellent.
39
nvartolomei 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not exactly a blog, but worth checking https://www.infoq.com
40
franverona 1 day ago 0 replies      
I follow a blog/podcast called Scale Your Code (https://scaleyourcode.com/). The host interviews a lot of interesting people like DHH or Jeff Atwood. He didn't post every day, but interviews are pure gold (last one was with Nick Craver from Stack Overflow).
41
madetech 1 day ago 0 replies      
42
urig 1 day ago 0 replies      
I pretty much scanned through the entire list of comments and i cant believe no one's mentioned www.hanselminutes.com. That is an excellent podcast and blog from Microsoft's Scott Hanselman who's an excellent interviewer and student ofn technology as well as a mentsch. Highly recommended.
43
maurits 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://nuit-blanche.blogspot.com

Specialized in compressive sensing, matrix factorization and machine learning.

Don't let the blue color put you of, the author reads and reviews an unbelievable amount of research every week and maintains a huge repository of papers, implementations, talks and video's.

44
mpiedrav 1 day ago 0 replies      
Specifically on InfoSec, I would recommend:

Krebs on Securityhttps://krebsonsecurity.com

Daniel Miesslerhttps://danielmiessler.com/blog

45
Gammarays 1 day ago 0 replies      
I put together a votable list of most of the sites recommended by HN users so its easier to see which blogs are the most popular/recommended (anyone can vote).

https://www.diffur.com/which-programming-blogs-do-you-follow

46
icefo 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's updated monthly but really worth to have in your rss feed http://spritesmods.com/

The guy hacks and create stuff from time to time and it's very interesting to read. It's also more on the hardware side of things (I had to Google what's a shift register and how they work to understand one of the article)

47
skazka16 1 day ago 0 replies      
No one has mentioned https://kukuruku.co/. We translate popular and interesting tech articles to English. We are also working on letting users write and publish their own posts.
48
thelgevold 1 day ago 0 replies      
Blog about JavaScript topics like frameworks and web performance: http://www.syntaxsuccess.com/
49
sciencesama 11 hours ago 0 replies      
techmeme.com is a very good collection of all the conversation catchers that are happening in tech industry !
50
joshlemer 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you are interested at all in Scala, lihaoyi's blog (http://www.lihaoyi.com/) is phenominal.
51
davidiach 1 day ago 0 replies      
I subscribe to Benedict Evans newsletter. It's basically a collection of interesting tech related links with commentary.

It's not daily though.

http://ben-evans.com/newsletter/

52
mike-- 1 day ago 0 replies      
54
petra 1 day ago 0 replies      
For deeper insight about technology in general, not specifically software: https://www.reddit.com/r/DeeperTech/
55
eDameXxX 1 day ago 1 reply      
The tittle should be:

"How can I become a master procrastinator"

OR

"Websites that can steal all my free time"

56
jjuhl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'd recommend "Embedded in Academia" - https://blog.regehr.org/
57
inka 1 day ago 0 replies      
https://mysteriouscode.io/blog/ - for stuff around AWS but also FreeBSD and general IT security.
58
ReviewDeeper 1 day ago 1 reply      
You can check https://reviewdeeper.com it provides information about useful but unnoticed apps and other trending topics in the tech world
59
SodaDezign 1 day ago 1 reply      
https://www.google.com/alerts

A great way to follow interesting subjects (eg. FPGA, Singel Board Computers... )

60
sciencesama 11 hours ago 0 replies      
any such decent ones for networking ?? networking as in computer networking.
61
adamnemecek 1 day ago 1 reply      
62
Amivit 1 day ago 1 reply      
How do you guys manage all the various blogs to keep up on new posts? RSS? Which tool(s)?
63
Lind5 1 day ago 0 replies      
Semiconductor Engineering http://semiengineering.com/
64
aslammuet 1 day ago 0 replies      
May this be helpful.http://www.theserverside.com/
65
rrobukef 1 day ago 0 replies      
https://hackerfactor.com

A blog on security, privacy and (foto) forensics.

66
bitmedley 1 day ago 0 replies      
Liliputing is quite good for tech news: https://liliputing.com/
67
shthed 1 day ago 0 replies      
http://alterslash.org a readable slashdot digest
69
lobasaurusrex 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love digitaltrends.com. Good writing and a lot of interesting pieces on new technology.
70
luckysideburn 1 day ago 1 reply      
this site (it is still a pilot project) collects trend words together inside dashboards http://www.congruit.io/... I have written it for fun, because I don't want read tons of blogs :)
71
vondelphia 1 day ago 0 replies      
You may want to take all this advice, and create a news feed rss widget on http://start.me - that's what I just did.
72
yostrovs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Medgadget.com for medical tech
73
known 1 day ago 0 replies      
74
RayofLight 1 day ago 0 replies      
techmeme.com good to get the tech news of the day.
75
sandworm101 1 day ago 0 replies      
Torrentfreak.com

It is a niche area but covers an intersection of law, technology, consumer protections and software development.

76
perseusprime11 1 day ago 6 replies      
A related question, what tool do you use to manage your feeds? Instapaper is good for one time links, overcast is good for podcast feeds but I am still struggling to find a decent one after Google retired reader.
77
npguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
78
icemelt8 1 day ago 2 replies      
79
sametmax 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you can read french, http://sebsauvage.net/links/ is a nice generalist IT blog.

I'm the author of http://sametmax.com. And I like to brag, saying it's probably the highest quality blog on python. And I mean it. But it's in french and also talk about porn so you've been warned.

80
purpleidea 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a big fan of "The Technical Blog of James" https://ttboj.wordpress.com/ but I'm pretty biased. Check it out and LMK!
81
DrNuke 1 day ago 3 replies      
I am in awe of many resources you are sharing here now but my question is how they are going to monetise their effort? Some of these are run on a volunteering basis and while it is good for the community, I am not sure it is healthy and sustainable in the long term. Any sort of funding provided?
11
FBI Used Best Buy's Geek Squad to Increase Secret Public Surveillance ocweekly.com
472 points by randomname2  3 days ago   175 comments top 22
1
mnm1 3 days ago 8 replies      
I only want to know one thing: how does the government intend to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the Geek Squad employees themselves didn't put the alleged porn pictures on the device? Does Geek Squad have a chain of custody and other such procedures? Was the device tracked every single moment and NEVER, not even for a second, allowed alone with anyone outside the government (this actually seems impossible unless agents were present when the device was taken in)? Seems to me like that would be a good way for Geek Squad scumbags to make some extra cash from the government while the government looks the other way and tries to convict innocent people. Also seems to me like this case should have been dismissed already based on these concerns.
2
dbot 3 days ago 5 replies      
There is a reason that safeguards like attorney-client, priest-penitent, and spousal privilege exist. For most of civilization, these are the people with whom we entrust our deepest secrets. Society doesn't work if these relationships aren't respected.

Today, our deepest secrets are usually stored somewhere on a hard drive. When we turn them over to the "priests" of PC repair, there is no real protection beyond the terms of a one-sided, clickwrap contract. I've never used a repair service for this reason - I'll either fix the problem myself or throw the device away. It sucks, but articles like this suggest it's not a bad idea...

3
finnn 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Would you like to share you location with this site?" holy shit that's malicious.

On an article about surveillance, no less

4
throw2016 3 days ago 1 reply      
The chances of a specific geek squad 'operative' chancing upon a 'target' the FBI is interested in is so low and minuscule one has to wonder how its worth it unless they are operating a dragnet or the FBI has too many people on staff.

If the bar is so low one has to wonder how many high value companies are not infiltrated by FBI, NSA and other 3 letter agencies.

When commentators here suggest the answer to privacy or surveillance is 'technical' it comes across as false empowerment. How can individuals or groups win against nation state actors with near endless resources, time, influence, power and armies of bureaucrats and engineers working 24/7 to achieve objectives? It's a nonstarter and the solution has to be socio-political.

The law doesn't stop them, if anything they are adept at skirting around laws, misleading judges, working the system and banding together to protect themselves. Even worse there is zero consequence when things blow up, and its those leaking information who are hounded.

5
rrggrr 3 days ago 1 reply      
How long before some disgruntled geek squadette plants illegal content on an innocent person's hard drive? From time to time analogous incidents occur in food preparation (contaminating food), medicine (injuring patients), and even law enforcement. The problem with digital crime is the difficulty in determining who did what, when, with certainty.
6
clarkcox3 3 days ago 4 replies      
If you're repairing someone else's computer and come across child porn, aren't you obligated to report it? (if only to cover your own ass, as technically you are now in possession of cp).
7
jdavis703 3 days ago 2 replies      
I sent my Macbook into the Apple Store's Genius Bar to be fixed (yay unibody design). They wanted the drive's encryption password so that they could "backup" my data and add it to a new drive if needed. It looked as if they just store this password in the "notes" field. Of course I didn't give it to them, but it pays to be extra paranoid, even about services from companies you think you should trust.
8
TACIXAT 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just want to post a few excerpts from court documents that always seem to be missing from these articles. Warning, descriptions of sexual imagery of children.

>The picture in question was of a fully nude, white prepubescent female on her hands and knees on a bed, with a brown choker-type collar around her neck. (Dkt. 152 at 7.) Presumably in the form of thumbnails, Agent Riley also saw partial images of genitalia of young girls and states that [i]t appeared there was a lot of [child pornography] as the tech didnt have to scroll, the window popped up with image after image of [child pornography] and child erotica/grooming images. [1]

>A later search of the iPhone revealed alleged child pornography that is charged in Count 2 of the Indictment. [2]

On the classification of Best Buy workers as CHS

>During 2007 and 2008, I am aware of four employees of Best Buy Geek Squad in Brooks, Kentucky, who contacted us regarding child pornography on customers' devices. To best track the relationship with these individuals and document contacts the FBI had with them, we classified these individuals as confidential human sources ("CHS's"), though they were simply employees at the Best Buy Geek Squad who happened to be in a position to report child pornography that technicians had come across on devices during the course of repair. [3]

1. Case 8:14-cr-00188-CJC / Document 173 / Filed 12/19/16

2. Case 8:14-cr-00188-CJC / Document 76 / Filed 10/30/15

3. Case 8:14-cr-00188-CJC / Document 176-1 / Filed 01/05/17

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butterfi 3 days ago 1 reply      
To my knowledge, Geek Squad had a shaky reputation to start with, I can't imagine this is going to help.
10
vermontdevil 3 days ago 3 replies      
Best Buy is in trouble PR wise. Even non-tech people on NextDoor in my area are telling others to avoid Geek Squad for computer repairs due to this.
11
jMyles 2 days ago 0 replies      
> shared lists of targeted citizens

Wait, what? The story says this and then nothing more about it. What do we know about this? Where are these lists?

12
ramblenode 3 days ago 0 replies      
13
lizavp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Went to Best Buy to purchase a laptop for my Mom. Geek Squad had installed the "free anti-virus" that came with the laptop. They opened a brand new factory sealed laptop. I noped right out the door.
14
mirimir 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what "'not exactly' child porn" means.

I mean, some child beauty pageant stuff seems iffy. Consider JonBent Ramsey: https://goo.gl/images/50otkX

15
tomohawk 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if that's how they bugged Sharyl Attkisson

https://sharylattkisson.com/reporter-wars-my-secrecy-battles...

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linkregister 3 days ago 0 replies      
This story is shocking and deserves public exposure.

The OC Weekly seems like the bizarre indie magazines available at a Communist coffeeshop in Berkeley, CA. Maybe it's just the illustrations. Either way, the medium distracts from the message.

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brightball 3 days ago 0 replies      
So they watched Chuck on NBC?
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EdSharkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Like Best Buy doesn't have enough problems. What a shame.
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ravenstine 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't hand my computer over to anyone, Geek Squad or not. It's handing the keys to your life over to some person whose motivations you have no idea of. Rather than repair my computer, I would buy a new one. I recommend everyone do the same. Think of it as insurance for your livelihood, and the most guaranteed insurance at that. Well worth the money, especially considering the average lifetime of a laptop.
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arrty88 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know if apple's geniuses work with the feds?
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huffmsa 3 days ago 0 replies      
Posse comitatus act for the 21st century.

"And the meek shall inherit the earth"

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bluesmoon 3 days ago 4 replies      
That's nothing. The Buy More in Burbank has a joint CIA/NSA lair hidden beneath it and the Nerd Herd are operatives. There's even this one guy with some kind of Database (possibly NoSQL) installed in his brain.
12
New ways to foot the hefty bill for making old ships less polluting economist.com
373 points by ghosh  1 day ago   212 comments top 28
1
CalChris 1 day ago 4 replies      
Slow steaming is an improvement and it saves quite a bit of bunker. But while bunker is cheap, it's really noxious; the Cosco Busan spilled bunker when it hit the Delta tower of the Bay Bridge.

Boats are supposed to switch over to a cleaner fuel when they enter port. For example, Port of Oakland is upwind of residential housing in Oakland. So this is a public health issue. Even the terminal tractors (port trucks) idling are an issue. Hopefully they'll switch over to EVs:

https://orangeev.com/

Boats are designed for a critical hull speed. Emma Maersk cruises at 31 mi/h on the open ocean.

http://www.emma-maersk.com/specification/

That bulbous nose on container ships sets up a counter bow wave to lower drag but only at a certain cruising speed. However, shippers weren't paying a premium for that higher speed and although it's more efficient for that hull it was still costly.

So new boats are tuned to a more efficient lower speed (slow steaming) with less powerful engines and even older boats are getting hauled into dry dock and re-nosed for a lower speed. Overall shipping speeds are down and shipping costs are also down.

http://www.seatrade-maritime.com/news/americas/the-economics...

While the new Panama Canal extension could be a fiasco in its own right (100 years later and not nearly as well built; it leaks) new canals could improve things. The Thai Canal could make the Suez route more competitive than the Panama route for Asia to Europe.

Lastly, like airlines, it's really hard to make money in shipping. Witness the Hanjin bankruptcy:

http://gcaptain.com/south-korea-court-hanjin-to-declare-bank...

The City of Oakland owns the Port of Oakland and we don't make much money off of it either. $16M/yr for both the airport and the port, last time I checked.

2
kogepathic 1 day ago 8 replies      
> That also imperils banks across the world, which have lent $400bn secured on smoke-spewing ships.

So, why should we care? Presumably the banks have paid analysts to determine that was a sound investment.

If governments are doing their jobs, banks should be able to eat this kind of loss without becoming insolvent. Otherwise why bother having regulations at all, if every minor hiccup means taxpayers have to bail out the banks?

Why do I care if shipping companies go out of business because of over capacity? Isn't that what market forces are all about?

So we should keep dangerously polluting ships running, because the banks that loan the shippers money will lose their shirts for several quarters if the shipping company goes bust?

3
userbinator 1 day ago 2 replies      
It is interesting to note that the types of engines used in these large ships are among the most efficient:

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

The pollution has more to do with the type of fuel used.

4
Broken_Hippo 1 day ago 4 replies      
I've hit my limit for the economist this month, so I went and looked up the article. It seems these articles have been coming out since at least 2009, and the gist is that because these (older) ships burn heavy fuel, which isn't refined like gasoline.

And it seems the fix is to urge the companies to update their ships by not allowing them in ports, but considering how long these articles have been coming out, it looks like progress is slow on that front - and if it has changed. Shipping companies have been selling off some of their stock, and it would seem that at least a few of the older ships should have been included.

5
anonu 1 day ago 1 reply      
A bit of clarification on which oxides, from the article: By burning heavy fuel oil, just 15 of the biggest ships emit more oxides of nitrogen and sulphurgases much worse for global warming than carbon dioxidethan all the worlds cars put together
6
upofadown 1 day ago 0 replies      
>just 15 of the biggest ships emit more oxides of nitrogen and sulphurgases much worse for global warming than carbon dioxide...

Oxides of sulphur are not greenhouse gasses. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas but it doesn't come from burning fuel.

These links go into the actual reasons these sorts of pollutants are bad:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOx#Environmental_effects

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_dioxide#As_an_air_pollu...

Interestingly enough, there is some thought that nitrogen oxide emissions from ships actually cause global cooling.

7
goodcanadian 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that many comments here are missing the point. To be fair, the article also seems to get it wrong. The problem with sulphur and nitrogen oxides isn't just global warming (though apparently N2O is a real problem, there). To my mind, the real problem is good old fashioned pollution as we talked about in the 80s. Acid rain, anyone?
8
deepGem 1 day ago 6 replies      
Isn't it feasible for container ships to go electric ? They have such massive surface areas for batteries. I thought of solar but then the container loading/unloading aspects will become quite cumbersome, unless you could somehow put solar panels on individual container roofs and load those on the top. A logistical nightmare nonetheless.

A crude search yields this about Emma Maersk, one of the largest container ships.

She is powered by a Wrtsil-Sulzer 14RTFLEX96-C engine, the world's largest single diesel unit, weighing 2,300 tonnes and capable of 81 MW (109,000 hp) when burning 14,000 litres (3,600 US gal)[31] of heavy fuel oil per hour. At economical speed, fuel consumption is 0.260 bs/hphour (1,660 gal/hour).[32] She has features to lower environmental damage, including exhaust heat recovery and cogeneration.[33] Some of the exhaust gases are returned to the engine to improve economy and lower emissions,[34] and some are passed through a steam generator which then powers a Peter Brotherhood steam turbine and electrical generators. This creates an electrical output of 8.5 MW,[35] equivalent to about 12% of the main engine power output. Some of this steam is used directly as shipboard heat.[36] Five diesel generators together produce 20.8 MW,[35] giving a total electric output of 29 MW.[26] Two 9 MW electric motors augment the power on the main propeller shaft

So you need about 285 Tesla Models P100D motors to power a ship of this size. Doable I guess. Again, I'm no expert on shipping.

9
richdougherty 1 day ago 1 reply      
"The problem, he adds, is one of incentives. Ship owners, who would normally borrow for such upgrades, do not benefit from lower fuel bills. It is the firms chartering the vessels that enjoy the savings. But their contracts are not long enough to make it worthwhile to invest in green upgrades. The average retrofit has a payback time of three years, whereas 80% of ship charters are for two years or less."

"Hence the interest in new green-lending structures. ... The idea is to share the fuel savings between the shipowner and the charterer over a longer contract, giving both an incentive to make the upgrades. Such schemes used to be thwarted by the difficulty of measuring exact fuel consumption on ships. New technologies allow more accurate readings."

This is the exact same problem that arises in landlord/tenant relationships when it comes to things like insulating a property. Insulation might be relatively cheap and pay itself back in a few years. But the landlord doesn't have an incentive to insulate because the benefit goes to the tenant. The current tenant also won't insulate because they'll probably leave before they can realise all the benefit of their investment.

In theory, landlords or shipowners should have an incentive to invest, since it should improve their property and therefore allow them to increase their rents or charter fees, but for some reason this doesn't happen. Possibly consumers can't accurately assess the value of improvements so they are reluctant to pay more.

The measurement devices mentioned should allow both parties to have a more accurate way to share in the benefits.

It's a complicated dance of incentives and information...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externalityhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_asymmetry

10
djsumdog 1 day ago 4 replies      
> Such schemes used to be thwarted by the difficulty of measuring exact fuel consumption on ships. New technologies allow more accurate readings.

Why is it so difficult to measure fuel consumption on ships?

11
Bud 1 day ago 0 replies      
This comment thread illustrates why HN posters shouldn't presume to write their own headlines for an article unless they really know what they are doing.
12
rs999gti 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe it's time to re-examine using nuclear reactors on cargo ships?

https://www.flexport.com/blog/nuclear-powered-cargo-ships/

13
seizethecheese 1 day ago 2 replies      
Warning: I'm totally ignorant on the subject.

It seems like oil gets refined with gasoline going to cars and heavier fuels going to ships. Can we really say that cars are so much cleaner? Their fuel is surely subsidized by a market for the heavier fuels.

14
Radle 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Carrying more than 90% of the worlds trade, ocean-going vessels produce just 3% of its greenhouse-gas emissions."The article says itself, shipping is super efficient.
15
wcoenen 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article seems to imply in its first paragraph that sulfer dioxide is a greenhouse gas. But doesn't SO2 have a cooling effect on the climate?

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

16
reacweb 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Increase the price of petrol. Many conflicts in the world are related to petrol. A significant part of military budget can be seen as a subsidize to petrol. There should be enough taxes to compensate all these hidden costs.
17
WalterBright 1 day ago 1 reply      
I read 30 years ago that some cargo ships were being equipped with computer operated sails, which would substantially reduce fuel use. I wonder what happened to that.
18
ianai 1 day ago 1 reply      
These ships could be nuclear powered - like subs/other vessels are already. That ought to make a huge impact on carbon footprint.
19
hendler 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Checkout "Freightened" - https://vimeo.com/202104276
20
igravious 1 day ago 0 replies      
15 Biggest Ships Create More Pollution Than All Cars in the World (2013)

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10716102

128 points by danboarder 457 days ago | 65 comments

21
pfarnsworth 1 day ago 1 reply      
What would be the economic repercussions if these ships were immediately shut down?
22
tener 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not just tax them for the excessive pollution?
23
ajarmst 1 day ago 5 replies      
The lede is false and misleading on its face. Excluding "carbon dioxide" from your list of "oxides" when discussing (and comparing with) automobile greenhouse gas emissions is absurd. The misleading claim is also clearly intentional, so none of the other claims can be accepted at face value. (No, shutting down 15 ships would not do more to address greenhouse oxide emissions than banning automobiles world-wide.) More than disappointing, and never should have been published.
24
marcusarmstrong 1 day ago 3 replies      
IMO, the title should note that "oxides" does not include "Carbon Dioxide".
25
hellbanner 1 day ago 0 replies      
Flagged, use the given title from the page.
26
holydude 1 day ago 4 replies      
Which makes danes one of the biggest hypocrites on planet earth.
27
jerkstate 1 day ago 7 replies      
you know what's even more interesting, it seems like shipping fuel is heavily subsidized. The international price for bunker fuel is about $330 per ton. Oil is $50 per barrel, a barrel is about 300 lbs, so 7.5 barrels make a ton. That's $375. Why is the refined product cheaper than the raw product?

edit: many have responded calling residual fuel a "waste product" - it is useful and being used so calling a waste product strikes me as semantically incorrect. If it were being sold opportunistically, like a large proportion of it was going to waste but some was being sold, I would agree with that, but it seems like it's all being sold, right?

28
malchow 1 day ago 2 replies      
Would anyone care to link to evidence that carbon dioxide causes an increase in temperatures? I'd be curious to read some of this literature.
13
Ask HN: How do you set prices?
570 points by fnbr  3 days ago   174 comments top 65
1
compumike 3 days ago 15 replies      
(Note: cofounder responsible for pricing decisions many times.)

The closest thing to a "methodology" I've found is asking these four questions and having the users generate their own pricing curve [1]:

Here's a real set of curves this process generated for me recently: http://imgur.com/lPKLk53 ($ values redacted)

The four questions are:

1. At what price would you consider [the product/service] to be so expensive that you would not consider buying it?

2. At what price would you consider [the product/service] to be priced so low that you would feel the quality couldnt be very good?

3. At what price would you consider [the product/service] starting to get expensive, so that it is not out of the question, but you would have to give some thought to buying it?

4. At what price would you consider [the product/service] to be a bargaina great buy for the money?

Require a specific $ amount as the answer to each question.

Take ~100 users, ask them all four of these questions, and then compile the results. You really have to do this on a subset of your own qualified potential customers to get any meaningful data.

The neat thing about this is that this creates a price sensitivity curve without anchoring the interviewee with any prior numeric values.

At the end of the day, it's still a gut call about where to place your price point relative to the user's alternatives, and testing is encouraged, but these four questions are a decent start.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Westendorp%27s_Price_Sensi...

2
patio11 3 days ago 1 reply      
I should really about this in a more formal fashion, but here's the HN comment version of several years of doing pricing for SaaS companies:

Price higher than you feel comfortable with. Approximately every SaaS team devalues their software because, unlike their clients, they were actually capable of writing it. Your clients don't care that it was "only a few weeks of work" or "really not as good as $UNRELATED_SOFTWARE_YOU_COMPARE_IT_TO" or "not as polished as Apple." Also, if you haven't run a business before, you have no idea how much businesses pay for pedestrian services like e.g. trash takeout, business insurance, monthly bookkeeping, etc.

Concretely, my standard "knowing nothing else" pricing for B2B SaaS is a three plan grid with $49/$99/$249 . If you're servicing informal firms like e.g. many Shopify sellers, you can add in a $29 price point. You don't want to service businesses for below $29 a month; you will suffer enormous pain in doing so and you will find that they churn and burn through software for a variety of reasons unrelated to you, for example because they go out of business, they have such severe cash-flow constraints such that sending you an email asking for a $5 discount is a good use of their time, etc.

You're not going to get pricing right the first time around. No one does. This is fine. Over time, you are likely going to raise prices across the board, as you improve your product, get a tighter focus on which customers benefit from you (which is isometric to improving the product, from the customer's perspective -- c.f. a below comment from tptacek on packaging), and get more confident in your team/offering. There is a simple way in SaaS to make price increases a non-event: grandfather in existing customers at their existing price. If your company is growing, your revenue for the next month is dominated by existing clients but your revenue as T goes to infinity is dominated by new clients, so I tend to just recommend people grandfather indefinitely. Yes, this does result in a couple of early adopters getting $1k a month of services for (in some cases) $19; I consider that a marketing expense to reward people for loyalty.

There are a lot of microtactical things you should build to support experimentation with prices. One is backend infrastructure to allow your CS team to change someone's plan at any time; another is some sort of crediting feature or special one-off pricing (one-time or ongoing), because as T goes to infinity you'll probably want to do both of them. I'll write about them some day.

You can track churn rates by the plan people are on, but I find that that isn't terribly useful early in the life of a business, since you'll have relatively few accounts in any bucket. For this reason, I often have a shadow attribute on plans to do "bucket by relative size of account", such that e.g. folks on Small Business at $49, Small Business (March vintage) at $34, Starter Edition For YC Companies at $45, etc all bucket into the same place for churn calculations.

Prefer giving people free things (exceptional acts of service, for example) to giving people discounts. They'll remember them for longer and you absorb the costs once, early in the relationship, rather than every month. Any recurring discount you issue in SaaS is essentially a liability on your books. (And existing happy accounts are a de facto asset, though GAAP doesn't treat them that way.)

3
capocannoniere 3 days ago 1 reply      
Joel Spolsky has written a great article on software pricing: https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2004/12/15/camels-and-rubber-... This article was part of the reading list at Stanford's Startup Engineering CS184 course.

Another resource with lots of actionable advice: A Gigantic List of Psychological Pricing Strategies: https://www.nickkolenda.com/psychological-pricing-strategies...

4
pccampbell 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hey Everyone - Patrick Campbell here, CEO/Founder of Price Intelligently. We've been in the pricing trenches for the better part of five years now working on the pricing for anyone from Atlassian and Autodesk to Lyft and Blue Bottle Coffee.

Pricing is ultimately a process, similar to product or marketing development. We've written extensively on it at priceintelligently.com, but here's a bunch of topics you should look through that will ultimately give you a solid foundation. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that there aren't any tips or tricks that are going to help you win - you need to quantify your buyer personas and price based on them accordingly. If you ever have any questions, always up for getting on the phone - patrick[at]priceintelligently[dot]com.

Value based pricing 101 - overview of how you should be thinking of your pricing (not based on costs or competitors): http://www.priceintelligently.com/blog/bid/162160/Value-Base...

Pricing Process: Here's a 130 page ebook we wrote on how to collect the data you'll need, how to structure things, and a bunch of other pieces. This isn't the final cut of the ebook, but given the conversation I thought I'd share early (no lead form): https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/120299/Price-Intelligently-Sa...

Here's also a webinar recording that walks through the above process if you prefer to watch: https://pi.wistia.com/medias/79lpgnqd2f

Survey design is absolutely crucial. We've sent around 20M using our pricing software at this point, but here are some lessons we wrote through at the 5M mark: http://blog.profitwell.com/lessons-from-sending-5m-saas-cust...

5
joegosse 3 days ago 3 replies      
Use good invoicing/billing software that allows you to discount on a per customer basis.

Start with two price points: one targeted at price sensitive customers, call it price A, and one targeted at price-insensitive customers (think enterprise), call it price C.

Set price A lower than you think - you can always add features and raise later to the point that people start to scream.

Set price C at much higher than you think - use volume discounting to offer discounting where needed, but this is your anchor point for conversations with big customers.

Consider whether price A is your acquisition channel or if you will have a "free" tier. If you don't have a free tier, you can feel fine with a lower than optimal price for tier A, as this is your conversion channel to price C.

Eventually you'll want a tier between A & C (call it B) to anchor pricing and encourage people to choose A or C. Refer to research on movie popcorn prices.

6
Scorpiion 3 days ago 1 reply      
Pricing sounds so simple but it is a surprisingly complex thing to get "right". I read an article from Sequoia recently that I thought was very well written. Not sure if it's relatively new or if it's been there for ages. I recommend it anyways, great read.

# The Sequoia Guide to Pricinghttps://www.sequoiacap.com/article/pricing-your-product/

7
luckydude 3 days ago 0 replies      
(I was responsible for pricing)

We built developer tools and we figured that by using them people were at least 10% more productive (pretty easily verified). We leased (we offered to sell it as well but priced it unattractively) and priced an annual lease at about 1-2% of an engineer's salary. So about $1500/year.

It wasn't an easy sell back in the day and it's almost an impossible sell today. People want everything to be $8/month which is 10-15x less than what we were charging. Good thing I'm retired, eh? :)

One side not, amusing maybe, is that before I did business to business sales I was under the impression that a dollar is a dollar no matter who you area. Boy, was I wrong. We quickly figured out which customers were pleasant, gave us good bug reports, read the docs, and which customers were sort of lame, and which customers were complete assholes. It was not very long before we had the "nice guy price" and the "asshole price". It was eye opening to me, I had no idea how much everything is negotiable and how much that was influenced by how pleasant people were or were not.

8
amorphid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Do you have customers who value and use the product/service now? Do they value it? Consider talking to the customers who need and value it.

When I ran my consulting business, I was always afraid to raise the price. I discussed this fear with one of my customers, and he told me that I was too cheap, and that I should raise the price by 50%. He depended of the service, and wanted me to stay in business. I did raise the price 50%, and I don't think I lost a single customer.

To answer your original question, I don't know of any specific tools for pricing. How a company decides to price a service tends to be pretty confidential. It's also normal to base pricing on how much competitors charge. For something new, it is tough. Get customers interested, sell it for more than it costs to make (before you run out of money), figure why customers like it, and eventually you'll have a pretty good idea of what to charge.

9
tylery 2 days ago 0 replies      
(I consult on topics like this for startups)

A lot of the comments are focused on figuring out price points, i.e. how much.

You should also spend time figuring out the right pricing metric, to make sure that as your customer gets more value out of your product, you continue to get a fair share of that value.

By pricing metric I mean things like per user, per server, per API call, etc.

Take for example a SaaS app that helps you create project proposals.

If you charge per user at $10/month, and one user generates 1,000 proposal a month, effectively that user is paying 1 cent per proposal.

In this case the proxy for value for your product is number of proposals.

The user is getting a lot of value from your product, but you're getting a flat share of that value. Regardless of how many proposals the user create, you still only get $10.

So in this example, it makes more sense for you to charge by proposal first and foremost.

Gets more complex as you think about secondary metrics but that's the principle.

10
souldzin 3 days ago 0 replies      
TL;DR - Price is not a function of cost, and is ideally set before your product is built. Do not attempt to set a price unless you have a profile for your target market. Then, price according to what your customer is willing to pay.

IMO, this is a marketing question and here's a good entrepreneurial process for profiling the market and your target price. First, ask yourself these questions:

* What actual value does the product give to the customer?

* What are the competitors / substitutions to the product?

* What makes this product sustainable?

* What does the customer currently pay for comparable solutions - in money, time, and effort?

This should give you a good feel for what your customer is willing to pay. Then, set some financial profit targets which is your total revenue - total expenses (don't factor investment money as revenue). Finally, bend your product / process to this target price (not the other way around).

I would encourage any engineer to research courses on Marketing and Entrepreneurial Finance. The best marketers merge the engineering process (i.e. research, statistic, and financial analysis) with psychology (i.e. the feels).

Anyways, good question and it should not be taken lightly. I've stalked HN for some time now, but this question caused me to finally create an account.

11
insickness 3 days ago 2 replies      
How I did it for an ebook:

1. Set up Google Ads for your product to drive some traffic to an hidden web page

2. Set up A/B testing for your product with a range of different prices. I set up six web pages with prices ranging between $5 and $100.

3. When users click 'Buy now', have a page saying that the product is not available but record the number of people who clicked it.

4. Calculate which setup generated the most income.

12
rebootthesystem 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pricing can be one of the most complex topics in business. About twenty years ago I read through what I consider to be THE book on the subject, "The Strategy and Tactics of Pricing":

https://www.amazon.com/Strategy-Tactics-Pricing-Growing-Prof...

What I learned was invaluable. I do have to warn you, the book lays it all out. This is excellent, of course. However, what happens is your level of confusion as to how and why to price using a certain approach will grow as you progress through the book.

Somewhere past the middle things start to coalesce and your choices become clearer. Again, this depends on the nature of the product.

Please note this is not a critique of the book at all, it's excellent, this is a complex topic and it is only natural to be confused before reaching clarity.

13
pbreit 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're new and don't really know what you're doing, price it just below what alternatives are charging. Make it a non-issue, learn as you go and adjust. Don't get too fancy. If you are able to attract & delight customers you will have nearly unlimited flexibility to adjust pricing.

If you are experienced and have a strong vision on the service you are offering and how it should be priced, you can think about premium or non-traditional pricing schemes.

14
hayksaakian 3 days ago 2 replies      
Call for Pricing is code for "starting at $1000"

Call all your competitors and pretend to be a customer. Get quotes from all of them.

Position yourself based on their pricing. If you're trying to be high end, charge more. If you want to be seen as affordable charge slightly less.

15
nilanp 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ha - @TransferWise... we approach this slightly differently.

Most of the discussion here is about - setting to price to optimise for an objective. e.g. how to optimise for revenue, profit - or cash that you can invest in marketing.

Ultimately all these approaches seek to optimise for growth - depending on the definition / time frame / risk profile.

So what you think about growth as an OUTCOME, not an OUTPUT of the model.

We describe ourselves as a mission driven startup - with the mission of making the worlds money move at the touch of the button, instantly for almost nothing.

We invest in making international payments faster, cheaper and less of a pain.

As we reduce our costs, our price drops (obviously money isn't free and we need to have a small margin to cover our costs and continue to invest in the platform)

Hence - there isn't anyone here thinking, lets drop price by 1% and see if we get 1% more volume. We've built a conviction that if we continue to invest in aggressively dropping price customers will switch to us.

Note - if we approach this in a very data centric way will not move with the speed and aggression we are on this. Also our authenticity on this mission would be questioned by our customers.

This authenticity, and conviction - on not focussing on maximising the amount of value we can extract from our customers - is what driven our Word of Mouth growth rate. More on this here - https://www.slideshare.net/pnilan/slides-from-jam-london

16
quirkot 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ill take a different tack than most other comments. Assuming youre B2BStep 1: Determine how much value your product creates for your customerStep 2: Set your price at a majority chunk of that

Example: How much money would you be willing to pay for a lead list that could make you $100 in sales? Assuming you have no internal cost to acquire (for sake of simplicity), if you paid $90 for that list, youd make a 11% ROI. What sort of ROI do your customers need in order to bite?

17
df3 3 days ago 1 reply      
Working with a PhD student to do economic analysis is overkill for an early stage startup.

I would use the methods outlined by other commenters to create a set of potential price points. Pick the highest one and revise downward (or upward) as needed.

If you're solving a real pain point, there's a set of early adopters who will pay a high price for your solution. If this isn't true then I would examine product / market fit.

Mistakes to avoid:

1. Doing a "name your price" promotion.

2. Thinking you've found the golden ticket of pricing and sticking with it. Pricing should be scrutinized early and often.

3. Charging too little. At least some users and reviewers of your product should be commenting that perhaps your pricing is too high. You're charging too little if no one is complaining about pricing. Of course, you've charged too much if everyone complains.

Finally, how you present the value of your product is perhaps more important than the pricing. See here:https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704240004575085...

18
mitchellshow 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's a neat trick I've used a few times when facing this exact issue.

First, set up a survey on Google Surveys (https://www.google.com/analytics/surveys/) and select the most appropriate audience for your concept. Set the first question as a screener of who you think this product is for. So if your business wants to sell to pet stores, you might set the audience to "Small Business / SMB owners" and have the screener question be "Do you own a pet store?" and screen out anyone who says "no."

Then, briefly describe your product and ask a straightforward question about how much they would pay for it. So, something like "What is the maximum you would pay for a service that handled the logistics of mailing pet food to your customers?" Then make the answers to that question your possible price points - "$9.99/month", "$19.99/month", etc. Make sure to include a "I would not pay for the service" or "$0" option - this is an excellent gauge of whether or not your service is actually something people will pay for. If you run a pricing survey like this and 95% of people say $0, that's pretty telling.

When you look at the results, you'll see a clear curve from the higher prices to the lower prices / not interested option, but you'll be able to see what a relatively targeted group would pay. So if 40% of people would pay $9.99/month, and 10% would pay $79.99/month, that tells a story you can interpret into a basic pricing strategy.

Depending on your budget, run 3-5 of these with different prices, different pricing anchors, different wordings, etc. - get as much data as you can.

I used this method for my last startup, when we were trying to figure out how much a specific niche would pay for our product. The pricing research we did through these surveys led us to a conclusion of about $29 per product, which was actually much higher than we had anticipated (we were going to sell it for $9), so we priced it 3x higher than we were going to. Very long story short, we made the right choice - people bought it and we had very few complaints about pricing too high. We even raised prices eventually after adding new features.

Now obviously, there is a delta between what people say they will pay and what they will actually pay, but this method might help get to a starting point, or add a layer to your existing research.

Admittedly, I do this sometimes when I have random dumb ideas for companies and I want to see if there's a market for it without really committing anything.

19
fab1an 2 days ago 0 replies      
My #1 advice on pricing (esp for bootstrapping SaaS/software) is to think about your Customer Acquisition Cost (=CAC) first, as in: how many customers will you reasonably be able to acquire given your marketing/sales plan and at what cost? Don't cheat here, but consider the fully loaded cost of doing sales+marketing and divide that number by the number of customers you'll be getting within the same cost period.

That'll give you a lower boundary of what you absolutely will have to charge to break even + an idea of the multiples on this you'll need in order to become a successful business.

20
kirvyteo 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you read the book "Thinking fast and slow" (excellent book btw), one of the concepts is a baseline price. For example, if nobody knows the worth of your product, they tend to compare with an alternative - the closest competitive product or substitute. This gives you an idea of what you can charge. That defines your product price range. You cannot avoid the comparison because everyone googles, and if they can't find the equivalent, they will find the closest. This approach is not really scientific but I find that I can relate to this very easily then reading "X% says they will pay $100 for this" in a survey. Hope this helps.
21
gyey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I saw what Envato elements did with their pricing. They started off at $19 a month, and declared that their prices would increase as they came out of beta, had a full launch, etc. but the older customers would retain their lower prices. Their pricing was to go up from $19 to $49, so there was a lot of incentive for early customers to lock into the lower price.

If you look at the pricing page now, the price is fixed at $29. So maybe mentioning the $49 price point was just a marketing trick to lure customers in to the lower price. They also give a discounted price of $19 at cybermonday, etc.. What do you think of this approach? Can approaches like this be considered ethical?

23
dfauchier 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is literally what we do.

There's a lot of methodologies out there you can look at, but in our experience - pricing is an art. How you price is unique to every company, and it's interconnected with product, marketing and positioning. Lesson #1: don't think about pricing in a silo.

Beyond that, there's all sorts of ways of thinking about it. Get in touch if you want to run through some of them for 30 mins (gratis).

https://fantasticmrwolf.com

Good luck!

David

24
ArturT 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend nice book "Don't just roll the dice" by Neil Davidson.

http://download.red-gate.com/ebooks/DJRTD_eBook.pdf

25
taprun 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been focusing on pricing for years and just delivered a presentation on "bad pricing pages" this afternoon. [0]

Pricing can be very complex, but here are three points that many folks don't know:

* The best price for you will often depend upon your goal (maximize profits, break into a new field, prevent competition, etc)

* Economics textbooks lie! Lower prices don't always correlate to more sales. Sometimes buyers will see a low price and assume the buyer is junk.

* The way you present your prices is often at least as important as the actual prices themselves.

[0] https://taprun.com/talks/

26
DeBraid 2 days ago 0 replies      
IMO, be aggressive to a fault.

Most service providers (esp. w/ repeating customers/ recurring revenue) will under price.

Key assumption: competition is thin/weak/lazy/etc.

Aggressive pricing is part of doing business. The "value" of a given service is EXTREMELY hard to pin down to a specific #. Thus, aggressively-high pricing is the best way to go.

If the feedback from (potential) customers consistently returns to price, then lower prices.

Otherwise, consistently provide a great service at a medium-high price until your competitors start grabbing your market share.

27
partycoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
You do not have to necessarily have a single price.

You can present different prices through A/B testing and see which one is more profitable.

Then, devise a way to make sure all features pull their weight. Get rid of the features nobody uses or improve them, but don't invest on development and maintenance of features nobody needs (feature creep).

Feature creep translates directly into unaccountable product people and software rot. Software rot translates into checked out engineers that either hate their job or don't care about the project, and heavy/inefficient organizations.

28
renegadesensei 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a really good question. I have made a few web services and never had a good answer. Always felt like guess work. My instinct was to try to answer this question: How expensive is the problem my product solves? You start from there and then go down because customers are not going to perceive or feel that cost equally. So even if I make a tool that could save someone weeks of work or replace some existing $500 standard solution, I may still only charge $20 for it.

I agree with the sentiment that it's better to start higher and then come down though. You really are in a sense picking your audience. This is why I am very cautious about "free" services. It isn't just the fear of how the company might actually be trying to monetize by selling my data or using ads. Rather it's fear of the sort of community attracted by the promise of free stuff.

29
nicholas73 3 days ago 0 replies      
At the high end is the marginal benefit to your customer. At the low end is your competitor price or your own cost of production. A lot of hot air is in between, and that is where it gets complicated.

Some general considerations are your market strategy, your financial situation, your customer's finances, pain that you would solve, whether your solution results in growth or strategic advantage vs. back-office savings, ... and neither last or least, the emotional wins of the buyer.

30
beat 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is relevant to my interests.

Building an enterprise-oriented product, pricing is really a baffling mystery. Especially since I can't find a good single-factor usage control.

31
jmedwards 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend the book Monetizing Innovation. It'll equip you well to talk about and think about pricing and value.

In my opinion, the hardest part of the problem is getting away from the psychology that pricing "uncomfortably high" is somehow cheating people. It isn't - your product is more often than not more valuable than the sum of its parts.

32
burchtanir 1 day ago 0 replies      
hey everyone,

this is Burc Tanir - the co-founder and CEO of a competitor price tracking software called Prisync (http://prisync.com/).my answer is more for products sold through e-commerce, or more specifically online retail.in e-commerce worldwide, most of the companies want to have the lowest prices - of course, while remaining profitable - but its hard to be sure about that without knowing the competitors' dynamic prices. with our solution that works for e-commerce companies of all sizes, it's possible to be the lowest in an efficient way.

also, other than automating competitor price tracking, we previously crafted an in-depth article to give more detailed information on this topic, so feel free to check that out too:

https://blog.prisync.com/ecommerce-pricing-strategies/

33
ace_of_spades 2 days ago 0 replies      
To be honest I have no experience in pricing anything but myself (as an employee) but I would recommend to not put too much effort into it. Thinking about pricing often amounts to zero-sum thinking which drives you to fight about the breadcrumbs instead of focusing on the creation of value (for everyone). I mean I get that pricing is a necessary means of coordination but please don't succumb to the fallacy that it is a game that needs to be won AGAINST someone. If you create value, simply have an open discourse with your customers and you will find a viable strategy.
34
orasis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Product mix is more important than hitting the single "best" price.

Each customer has an amount that they want to pay. If you want to maximize profits you need to allow customers to pay as much as they are willing. This means that you need a product mix that allows the higher spenders to increase utilization up to their spending limit.

Think about how Amazon sells AWS or how a high earning mobile game has zillions of product bundles.

If you really need a single best price and are doing something with 10,000+ users, you can check out a tutorial I wrote here for mobile app price optimization: https://docs.improve.ai/docs/basic-price-optimization

35
cmalpeli 2 days ago 0 replies      
We've continually raised the price on our product as we grow and add features. It was nerve wracking at first, but now are confident enough in our product that we feel good standing behind our pricing.

We are targeting larger, more stable customers, and have historically found the ones that say our pricing is too expensive are the ones that require much more support and maintenance. Have no issue seeing them go to cheaper competitors - while our target clients don't bat an eye at our pricing (which is still probably too low for that segment).

36
gigatexal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Economist here: other than doing a field test with a given price (break even + some margin determined more or less ad hoc) you just set a price and see what the market says. If too low you'll sell a ton, if too high you will sell few or none.
37
grenoire 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just take the equilibrium point for the Marshallian demand curves of the 'industry' you are located in.

Of course, once you achieve monopoly status, you can set the price at the intersection of your marginal costs and marginal revenue to maximise profits.

38
epa 3 days ago 0 replies      
If it is SaaS based, the guys over at Price Intelligently are a smart group to work with..
39
jv22222 3 days ago 0 replies      
I ask these questions and it works well:

1) What is a price for this product that would be too low for you to trust?

2) What is a maximum price for this product that would that would still seem like good value?

3) What would be a maximum possible price for a this product?

They can help to get you to a good starting point regarding your pricing strategy.

Also this is a great article about it:

https://training.kalzumeus.com/newsletters/archive/saas_pric...

40
usav 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great book for this: Monetizing Innovation (https://www.amazon.ca/Monetizing-Innovation-Companies-Design...)
41
antaviana 3 days ago 0 replies      
We once did a Dutch auction promotion. The strike price was a 30% of our regular subscription price. We then decided to offer the strike price to all users, not only the winners and that was the month by revenue, three times our MRR at the time. Two years later our MRR is getting close to that record revenue.

We decided not to change our regular price, but probably setting it at 2 times the strike price could be a good regular price point based on the Dutch auction information gathered.

42
rudimental 3 days ago 0 replies      
A recent thread on find the pricing through experiments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13756302

They recommend Amplitude if you can't build everything yourself. They say it lets you have cohorts and compare behavior between cohorts, so it probably helps compare common metrics. I don't know if it makes suggestions for experiments or helps to run them.

43
ransom1538 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend the book "priceless." It goes through the psychology behind how you set a price. E.g. Why there are expensive wines on a wine list.

https://www.amazon.com/Priceless-Myth-Fair-Value-Advantage/d...

44
jiiam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Just a tip: remember that the price is always the output of an algorithm based on the product you offer. Always think "What should the price of this product be?" rather than "What should I offer to reach this price tag?".
45
kazinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Found this book laying around at work; maybe it's of use:

http://download.red-gate.com/ebooks/DJRTD_eBook.pdf

46
markatkinson 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm starring this to read every single comment once I get home cause this is a huge stumbling block for me. My current strategy is to take my right thumb and suck a number out of it and due to my nature I tend to undercut myself quite badly.
47
ninjakeyboard 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think first you want a market strategy - are you competing on price or quality (features, speed or whatever.) Then the rest of the market is a guidepost for this - if competing on quality, accept you will make less sales but have higher margins.
48
bxtt 3 days ago 0 replies      
(Worked many years in product pricing for startup to IPO company)

To even begin on a baseline of how you're going to price a product, you need to understand the unit economics of your product. I think too many people fall into the economics trap and apply a theoretical approach into revenue management, when in reality it's more about understanding your business model, how you expect to grow, and the finances; then you apply economic models.

Understanding the financial aspect will allow to create at least a cost based pricing model or margin based pricing; from there it can grow into a value based model where you figure out the value proposition for each customer/market segmentation.

But, obviously all of this is developed mid-stage, and early stage just figure out what gets the customers in the door.

There are a lot of good resources online about this subject.

49
sachinag 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wrote about pricing tiers many years ago: http://sachinagarwal.com/setting-pricing-for-a-startup-the-r...
50
donald123 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can set initial price based on your cost and expected/preferred margin. And you can always use discount/promotions later to mark down the price, based on the market and feedback, etc.
51
phuangcn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just finish my SaaS product pricing last week. Exit strategy plays here. You can set the price by % of the customer value or the cost + margin if you don't want to hack the business model.
52
dtjohnnymonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have an app that is market-priced. The more paying customers, the higher the price goes. This is fun for a hobby site but probably not suitable for a real business.
53
sandworm101 2 days ago 0 replies      
Start with breaking even. Sell first. Then set prices. Raise prices only when you have more demand than product.
54
matheweis 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you have enough volume* you can do simple a/b testing to find the demand curve.

*this is probably less than you might think; at low volumes you can run a for a week then b for another week.

55
andy_ppp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Slightly off topic but I think I'd pay for slack if I could have the premium features on all of the conversations I have with people...
56
jmedwards 3 days ago 0 replies      
I recommend the book "Monetizing Innovation". It won't give you an answer, but it will equip you to understand value and think about pricing.
57
anigbrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Currently, they work with a PhD student to do some economic analysis, but they're not really happy with it.

That's the sign of a risk-averse team.

58
mythrwy 2 days ago 0 replies      
59
mbesto 3 days ago 0 replies      
Golden rule - always price higher than you think. It's 100x easier to discount pricing than it is to increase pricing.
60
sleepychu 2 days ago 0 replies      
My dad's sage advice: Think of a number, then double it. People will always pay more.
61
z3t4 3 days ago 0 replies      
you charge what your customers are willing to pay. no micro economic theories or price psychology is going to change that. if you charge too low though, people will wonder where the catch is. so dont charge low unless its easy to judge the quality.

to find out what they are willing to pay, ask for budget.

62
gingerlime 3 days ago 0 replies      
Hey Finbarr! Is this related to our chat? :)

Even if not, some great advice here! Thanks! ...but I think most of it is B2B focused primarily. I'm curios (and can't find much info) about subscription pricing for consumers in particular... And especially for products that aren't as wide spread as Spotify or Netflix.

63
sjg007 3 days ago 0 replies      
You can do surveys. You can call potential customers and ask what they would pay.
64
franze 3 days ago 0 replies      
Invisible Hand, works like magic.
65
pryelluw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Email me Ill help.
14
LLVM 4.0.0 llvm.org
390 points by zmodem  10 hours ago   112 comments top 11
1
bajsejohannes 10 hours ago 2 replies      
> thanks to Zhendong Su and his team whose fuzz testing prevented many bugs going into the release.

http://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~su/ claims 1228 bugs found (counting both LLVM and GCC). Impressive!

2
opt-viewer 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like it didn't make the release notes but one of the features new for this release is opt-viewer. It's useful for finding the rationale why some bit of code was/wasn't optimized. It's a WIP but usable today.

I made a demo [1] for this tool.

[1] https://github.com/androm3da/optviewer-demo

3
pjmlp 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Love the improvements to clang-tidy!

http://releases.llvm.org/4.0.0/tools/clang/tools/extra/docs/...

Congratulations on the work. Also nice to see that OCaml bindings are still being taken care of.

4
grassfedcode 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm trying to add support for lldb to a gdb frontend (https://github.com/cs01/gdbgui/), and need a gdb-mi compatible interface to do it.

lldb-mi exists, but its compatibility with gdb's mi2 api is incomplete. Does anyone know of a more compatible api to gdb-mi2 commands, or if there are plans to improve lldb-mi's?

5
falcolas 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> Stable updates to this release will be versioned 4.0.x

/nit Semantic versioning (or communication) failure. I would think that "stable updates" would represent minor releases (i.e. 4.x.0), not bugfix-style patches. Unless all new features will be present in major releases instead of "stable updates"?

6
lossolo 10 hours ago 4 replies      
LLVM Coroutines - This is the most exciting thing for me. Gor Nishanov in his videos explains how coroutines are implemented and how are optimized by LLVM. Asynchronous IO code will be so easy to write and so efficient. Context switch in cost of function call, you can have billions of those coroutines, heap allocation elision (in certain cases). Can't wait for coroutines to land in Clang.

I am a big fan of Go gorutines so Networking TS and Coroutines TS made me very happy, connecting both and having it in standard will be great. Just a shame that for Networking TS integration we will need to wait for C++20.

7
javajosh 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Ha, was just reading http://aosabook.org/en/llvm.html.

(Really like that LLVM IR. Does anyone code in it directly? Was also thinking it would be interesting to port Knuth's MMIX examples to it.)

8
amyjess 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish they'd do what GCC does and just eliminate the middle number entirely.
9
mark-r 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Too bad they didn't use more aggressive aggressive grammar checking.
10
futurix 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Version number inflation strikes another software package, although at least it is not as bad as Chrome or Firefox.
11
aslammuet 10 hours ago 3 replies      
http://llvm.org/demo/

Demo page is not working. Is there any other page that makes me understand what really is it and where it is helpful.

15
Pi-hole A black hole for Internet advertisements pi-hole.net
468 points by goblin89  14 hours ago   273 comments top 39
1
laumars 10 hours ago 4 replies      
For those of us - myself included - who run a hosts file list (either using dnsmasq like Pi-hole or directly), here are the sources that Pi-hole use so you can add to your own solution:

https://github.com/pi-hole/pi-hole/blob/master/adlists.defau...

There's a few on there I don't use and will look to implement. There's also a few they seem to have missed (perhaps intentionally?) so below I have included the lists I use in case it's useful for anyone else:

 http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/hosts http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt http://adaway.org/hosts.txt http://pgl.yoyo.org/adservers/serverlist.php?hostformat=hosts&showintro=0&mimetype=plaintext&useip=127.0.0.1 https://raw.githubusercontent.com/StevenBlack/hosts/master/data/StevenBlack/hosts http://www.malwaredomainlist.com/hostslist/hosts.txt http://www.montanamenagerie.org/hostsfile/hosts.txt

2
QuadrupleA 9 hours ago 8 replies      
I definitely hate ads like anyone, but it should be acknowledged that ads serve a purpose too, of creating an economy for free content and giving people an avenue to get some income in exchange for their efforts, and possibly be able to devote their full attention to a free project and not have to support themselves with other income. Ads give creators some incentive to create stuff - although the income generally isn't great unless your audience is massive.

That said, the ad networks out there seem pretty awful in terms of privacy, slow-running javascript code mess, huge images or videos adding megabytes to the size of what should be a simple text page, etc. So if it's not doing it already perhaps this project can filter and put some pressure on the ad networks to clean up their mess a bit and not harm the user experience so much, and if an ad network is playing nicely, allow it through as a way to support free projects and their creators.

3
nkkollaw 12 hours ago 14 replies      
With all the ad blocking technologies that are coming up, I wonder if Google is devising something to counteract these efforts.

For instance, since browser-based ad blockers work from what I know by blocking known domain names, couldn't Google create random subdomains and serve the code from a different subdomain every day or even every few hours, as well as change the way their JavaScript and HTML looks?

Even something very expensive to run would be justified with all the money that advertising brings in.

If Google can create software that can tell what's in a picture, or if a person in a picture is happy or not, why can't they find a way to fool ad blockers..?

4
staunch 7 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing is for certain, ad blocking is going to become more and more prevalent and never less.

The end game for ad blocking is to all but eliminate advertising. An ad blocking client could, ultimately, just block any domain that has aggressive anti-ad block features.

With enough users doing this, new sites that are ad free would quickly replace the old ad driven sites. Some of the ad driven sites would modernize.

Ads are a failed path. By eliminating ads we open the door to novel solutions. Only a cynical fool could believe technology isn't up to solving this minor problem. There are already a dozen potential solutions waiting for the incentives to change.

5
ckastner 13 hours ago 7 replies      
The installation shortcut given is

 curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash
and one is expected to execute this as root.

Yes, I know this is supposed to be a convenience thing, but I wish people wouldn't actively encourage this pattern.

6
gwu78 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Default settings use remote, shared DNS caches run by an advertising company.

Regardless, this is a step in the right direction. DNS is highly effective for this filtering out advertising.

Personally I just run my own authoritative nameserver(s) with all the IP addresses I need. No recursive cache.

When I browse to websites where I have never been and may not return, I am never using graphical browser that loads "resources" automatically from any random domain.

I am using a browser I compiled myself. I am only reading text.

Binary resources, e.g., video, can be downloaded non-interactively with an ftp/http client.

If it is an important website that I use repeatedly, then I have all the IP addresses for the resources the website's pages will need stored in a zone files. Then it is "safe" to use a browser written by an organization company that makes money from ads. All DNS requests are answered by my server(s).

I can retrieve (refresh) the IP addresses for my zone files very quickly with custom software I wrote to do this. My lookups are faster than a cold recursive cache and send out fewer requests.

IMO, the way to think about "ad-blocking" is not to try to imagine how to block every possible ad server. Instead, just focus on what web content you want and figure out what addresses you need to get it.

At one point a certain browser written by an advertising company had its own DNS resolver. Imagine your /etc/resolv.conf being completely ignored. Food for thought.

7
Animats 10 hours ago 5 replies      
This is just a DNS filter. Why is it a big deal? DNS filters sort of work, but they're not new or magic. They trigger some ad-blocking detectors when the ads don't load.
8
j_s 12 hours ago 1 reply      
You may have missed the precursor discussion this past weekend, a walkthrough of setting up pihole on VPS:

Set up a cheap cloud hosted adblocker in an hour for $2.50 a month

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13852109

Of particular added value there was mention of Android apps that can be setup to self-host an ad-blocking VPN / hosts filtering without rooting: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13853408

https://github.com/M66B/NetGuard

NetGuard is the first free and open source no-root firewall for Android.

9
allendoerfer 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I love how they recommend curl-bash-piping, but then put a disclaimer beneath it, even with a detailed post about it. As if people would not just copy paste it anyway. I think they were just trying to dodge the usual curl-pipe-bash-is-evil comment thread unsuccessfully, since I started it anyway.
10
nikon 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Using this at home. Really interesting to see the blocked domains on the dashboard. Realised my two Samsung Smart TV's were constantly calling home for example. You'll eventually whitelist some things that break like Spotify/Sonos IIRC.

I may switch to an Odroid C2 if I go with a permanent VPN connection as the throughput of the RPi3 network port is not the best.

11
kuon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been running a DNS based ad blocking for ages, but I realized that recently, youtube has been serving ads from the same domain as regular videos. I wonder if anybody has seen this.
12
24gttghh 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I went so far as to set up Dnscrypt with a pi-hole setup recently and it was almost as painless as advertised. And it finally gave me something productive to do with my RPi3! https://github.com/pi-hole/pi-hole/wiki/DNSCrypt could use a little wordsmithing, but it wasn't too bad.
13
JustSomeNobody 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, somebody here hates the author. Every one of their comments is down voted to death.

What gives? Did they do something to make people mad? I'm really confused.

14
a3n 10 hours ago 3 replies      
This could be in response to any number of comments on this page:

I use uBO and a few other blockers. I almost never see an ad.

A few days ago I saw an ad, and I was surprised. It was for Cadillac cars. I hovered over the ad, and it seemed to go directly to cadillac.com. And I was sort of OK with that.

The page, and the ad, seemed to be designed like any other legitimate link to another page or site. I don't know how the image made its way on to the page and in to my browser, but it appeared much less intrusive than a totally ad network-served ad.

Certainly the 1st party site could collect data about my visit and send it somewhere, but at least they appear to be more in the loop than just opening their site to all comers.

And if I clicked through to cadillac.com, they could do the same.

Anyway, that's more along the lines of what I've been wishing for as a consumer in web ads.

15
Walf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Network-level means no easy opt-out on a per-site basis. You cannot choose to support certain sites or view occasional sites that, understandably detect ad-blocking.
16
crorella 12 hours ago 2 replies      
When I tried pi-hole I often noted some urls were added 'automagically' to the whitelist, they will show up a few days after I removed them. All of them were weird domains.
17
seedifferently 11 hours ago 1 reply      
For anyone interested in a cross-platform single-binary alternative to Pi-hole, I've been hacking on this: https://github.com/seedifferently/nogo

(Disclaimer: I am the author of nogo)

18
ThenAsNow 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I have to admit to doing as little as possible from web browsers on phones, but on the desktop I rely extensively on uMatrix + NoScript (don't know if adding PrivacyBadger on top would buy me anything). However, NoScript for Android seems to be moribund and I don't think there is a uMatrix for Android either. DNS-based ad-blocking seems very 90s (i.e., designed for an era that's less invasive than today), and there's a ton of javascript content that really needs to be filtered as well if you want to counter all the ads + tracking. Is there any equivalent to NoScript + uMatrix on Android?
19
gcb0 13 hours ago 2 replies      
solution that doesn't require a dns server (or can be a dns server local cache)

http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/

I add this to my modem/wifi ap. and then just let every device use it to resolve. if the device allows to set a hostfile, I also add a local copy for when iam not in my network.

20
WhizzoButter 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The Connectify Hotspot app added a similar feature recently. It'll block ads for all clients connected to the hotspot. It's Windows-only though:https://www.connectify.me/blog/block-annoying-ads-connectify...
22
vxNsr 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How are people dealing with whitelisting when a website becomes broken because of an over zealous block. I find myself turning off ublock for some websites at least once a day, not because there are ads on the page but because they're issuing a dependency somewhere that has been blacklisted.
23
verdverm 5 hours ago 0 replies      
https://github.com/looterz/grimd

Is a golang ad-hole. I've found it to be more performant in both the DNS/server and UI

24
ryandrake 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been doing this at home for probably close to 10 years or so, set up manually using dnsmasq, and periodically fetching new blacklists. Nice to see it wrapped in a tidy package--great work.
25
__oz 13 hours ago 3 replies      
+1 for pfSense port.

Also, not sure how I feel about having this device as my primary DNS server for my entire internal network. What if the project gets compromised and injects a number of malicious DNS entries, now my entire network is toast?

26
no_wizard 12 hours ago 1 reply      
PiHole is pretty cool, very 'plug n play' which I like. A sufficiently advanced average user can set it up without too much trouble just following on a guide, even a relatively tech savvy 'lay' person can do this.

If you like a more technical solution I prefer something like running a Unbound + NSD server

Here's some great tutorials on that:

(Kudos to the people who write Calomel, i really liked these tutorials, it was a great way for me to get started and look into these services deeper once understanding what was going on here)

https://calomel.org/nsd_dns.html

https://calomel.org/unbound_dns.html

Pairing that with squid proxy can be the ultimate win:

https://calomel.org/squid.html

https://calomel.org/squid_adservers.html

https://calomel.org/squid_ua_random.html

and don't forget dnscrypt people!

https://dnscrypt.org/

I'm really big into having ones own DNS server on the network instead of completely using outside solutions. There is little overhead with a sufficiently modern implementation.

Also, these solutions run on FreeBSD/OpenBSD for those who prefer.

As a complete aside. Aren't most routers, esp. business class routers, running modified Unix/Linux anyway? Why on earth hasn't a reputable company made a guns ready router that lets you have access to the Linux/Unix underpinnings without flashing (albeit awesome) Open Source alternatives? I would think in the 'business/enterprise' class hardware side this would be more prevalent.

Maybe I just don't know of any solutions like that available stateside. I found one in Europe:

https://omnia.turris.cz/en/

Can't get it stateside though :(

I instead custom built most of my networking hardware...but still.

27
toad_tyrrant 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I just set this up at home yesterday (using an Odroid C2). A very pleasant experience so far.

I'm trying to find other services that are worth running in a similar fashion. Any ideas?

28
philplckthun 13 hours ago 3 replies      
This is really neat! I'm wondering why the name is so Raspberry Pi-specific ;)

Is there a docker container for it already, by any chance?

29
jerrac 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if there's any way to integrate this with OPNSense firewall. I already have that set up as my LAN's dns server so I can name my internal computers.
30
pix64 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel like this is a bit dangerous because it doesn't allow the end user to disable it if it breaks a website which is quite common.
31
zakk 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Stupid question: how does it work when the majority of traffic is through SSL, making a request to an ad and a request to actual content indistinguishable?

I don't think all websites serve ads from a different host. Do they?

32
jedisct1 6 hours ago 0 replies      
dnscrypt-proxy can do filtering as well: https://github.com/jedisct1/dnscrypt-proxy/wiki/Filtering
33
vanekjar 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Cool project! Great idea and nice UI. I have tried recently and it works fine with HTTP.

The problem is with ads served via HTTPS and since today most of the pages are using HTTPS protocol pi-hole is kinda useless.

For reference on this topichttps://discourse.pi-hole.net/t/websites-hanging-timing-out-...

34
SnaKeZ 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Link to the Android Client (unofficial):

https://github.com/friimaind/pi-hole-droid

35
libeclipse 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I used this for a while but I found that it was unbearably slow. Perhaps it's too much to ask from a RaspberryPi3.
36
gravypod 13 hours ago 2 replies      
What kind of minimum resources are required to run this? Can I run this on my 128MB VM?
37
mirimir 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Porting this to FreeBSD/pfSense would be cool.
38
geuis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I haven't had time to look at the code yet. I have some questions though.

As an experiment a while back I wrote a simple dns server that blocked ad-related domains. https://github.com/geuis/lead-dns. While it technically worked, it made using the web almost non functional. Nearly every site was broken in some way. So blocking purely by domain isn't going to work. I wonder how pi-hole is dealing with it.

39
noja 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> Error establishing a database connection

Looks like someone has shut the Pi-hole.

16
Facebooks code quality problem (2015) darkcoding.net
469 points by setra  18 hours ago   211 comments top 45
1
combatentropy 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I look at programming as all design, whether deliberate or not. Martin Fowler drove the point home for me (https://www.martinfowler.com/articles/newMethodology.html).

He said that some people drew inspiration from construction, where there are designers and builders. One or two highly paid architects draw up the plans. Then you can hire a bunch of cheap labor to build it, say a bridge. This belief leads to a dichotomy in software companies, where one person is the "architect" and others are just "regular" programmers --- often outsourced to the lowest bidder.

From Jack Reeves he cites the epiphany "that in fact the source code is a design document and that the construction phase is actually the use of the compiler and linker." There is little repetitive, mindless work in programming, because as most of you know, "anything that you can treat as construction can and should be automated." Therefore, "In software all the effort is design . . ."

2
charleslmunger 12 hours ago 4 replies      
"Exhibit C: Our site works when the engineers go on holiday"

Is not all so different from "Fewer patients die when heart surgeons are on vacation". Of course your site is going to be more reliable when nobody is changing it! You should be worried if reliable isn't the steady state, and it requires constant changes to stay up!

3
paganel 16 hours ago 3 replies      
I read Richard Gabriel's "Worse Is Better" essay in my first month hired as a professional programmer, that was almost 12 years ago. Since that time the lessons of that essay have only increased in significance for me, with this FB story as additional proof.

Their back-end code might be bollocks, and I can certainly believe that judging by how sluggish their FB app feels on my phone, but the fact is that they've conquered the Internet (together with Google and a couple of other companies). It's a fact that I personally hate, but they're still winners in the end.

4
thedevil 14 hours ago 6 replies      
It's hard to argue with the business sense of pushing out features quickly at the cost of code quality.

But I've learned that that there are two kinds of development teams:

(A) the teams that are "moving fast and breaking things" while "creating business value"

and

(B) the teams that are "only maintaining legacy code", "not getting anything done", "costing a lot of money" and "complaining too much" about code quality that team A wrote.

As an engineer, I've learned that it's less work and more rewarding to be on the (A) teams than on the (B) teams.

5
zo7 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Some of FB's ~18,000 Obj-C header files from a post linked in the article: [1]

* FBFeedAwesomizerProfileListCardViewControllerListenerAnnouncer.h

* FBBoostedComponentCreateInputDataCreativeObjectStorySpecLinkDataCallToActionValue.h

* FBEventUpdateNotificationSubscriptionLevelMutationOptimisticPayloadFactoryProtocol-Protocol.h

* FBGroupUpdateRequestToJoinSubscriptionLevelMutationOptimisticPayloadFactoryProtocol-Protocol.h

* FBMemReactionAcornSportsContentSettingsSetShouldNotPushNotificationsResponsePayloadBuilder.h

* FBProfileSetEventsCalendarSubscriptionStatusInputDataContextEventActionHistory.h

* FBReactionUnitUserSettingsDisableUnitTypeMutationOptimisticPayloadFactoryProtocol-Protocol.h

oh my god

[1]: http://quellish.tumblr.com/post/126712999812/how-on-earth-th...

6
dawidloubser 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I would like to argue that, in most of these cases, it's not "code quality" that is at fault, but "design quality" (before coding) - which is often absent entirely.

The problem with design, in software, is not that most people forget to do it. It's that they never learn to do it. It always comes back to bite you.

I don't want to start a discussion on design, and how most people mess it up because of lack of skill or experience therein. But hacker culture seems to be allergic to design, and hacker culture seems to be what everybody strives for these days.

7
whack 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I do think that FB, and most large orgs, have code quality problems. But the article does a pretty bad job at making its case.

> "Thats 429 people working, in some way, on the Facebook iOS app. Rather than take the obvious lesson that there are too many people working on this application, the presentation goes on to blame everything from git to Xcode for those 18,000 classes."

How does the author know that 429 is too many? How does the author know that FB's goals and functionality can be best achieved with fewer people/classes. This just reads like a classic "Why is Google so big, I can do that in a weekend" comment (https://danluu.com/sounds-easy/)

> "Our site works when the engineers go on holiday"

This is pretty much universally true for any dynamic site where engineers are constantly adding new features. Change always comes with risks. Changing code is always more likely to break something in the very-short-term, compared to not changing code. I have a hobby site (shameless plug, http://thecaucus.net) which has been running in auto-pilot for the past year, and almost never breaks, because there are virtually no moving pieces. The fact that the FB site breaks more often when engineers are making changes to it, is just repeating a universal law of software development.

I do think that the organizational structures at most large companies are bloated, inefficient, non-transparent, and produce sub-par code. I had high hopes when I read the article's headline, but the arguments presented simply aren't very persuasive.

8
fishnchips 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I spent a few months at Facebook and left because of that. Not necessarily because of poor code quality but because of all the issues it was causing, and a culture of turning a blind eye to (or worse still, being proud of!) those issues. It's obviously true that quality of their code does not affect their market position, but it sure affects who they hire and who they retain.
9
userbinator 17 hours ago 2 replies      
It is ironic that a codebase with so many classes is likely to occur precisely because of dogmatic adherence to those "best practices" which were originally intended to improve code quality --- aggressive refactoring/modularisation being a likely culprit. What I think they really need is not more design, not more architecture, not more of anything but KISS and YAGNI.
10
rumcajz 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I believe "our site works when the engineers go on holiday" thing is not fair. Of course that application is less stable when it's actively modified. There's no way to make it more reliable on weekdays than on weekends except for stopping the development altogether or maybe deploying on weekends.
11
ptero 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Code quality is important, but for an organization the size of the FB good systems engineering is much more important than good software engineering. If the overall system is organized sanely, failures of subcomponents (which happen due to software bugs, hardware, humans, etc.) can be isolated, firewalled and fixed in reasonable time without bringing the system down.
12
BinaryIdiot 17 hours ago 2 replies      
As pointed out this is from 2015 but I'd love to hear some updated. Has any Facebook employee created newer presentations that discussed, say, their 18,000 iOS classes and the fact that in a single week 429 people contributed to the same iOS app?

I'd also love to hear an update to the "Our site works when the engineers go on holiday" claim.

13
aqibgatoo 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
bob martin a.k.a uncle bob always says that people consider patterns like mvvm,mvc,mvp etc as Architecture which actually are just for the ui layer.It happens commonly in mobile development.
14
planetjones 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Well when there is a codebase of the scale of Facebook's, with so many activate contributors of course there will be a code quality problem. I see so much stuff at Google breaking or becoming inconsistent too (away from the core search features).

Even if they didn't move fast and break things, they would still have code quality issues. It's just the nature of a huge codebase like they have. And let's face facts - the development process needs to be suitable to the type of problem being solved. This is not a life and death situation and users would value new features, more than extreme reliability and consistency.

15
pablo_fiesta 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
Rub lavender oil on the servers, say "web-scale" 3 times, click you heals and everything will be OK. Oh wait, but the Russians.
16
mybrid 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It is worth noting that when something goes viral we still don't know why. Facebook represents the ultimate in viral success. Given we do not understand why things go viral then it stands to reason that the underlying software methodology is not causation. This means that the fickle finger of fate could easily be visited upon Facebook the same as with MySpace and Facebook will be in no control. This is independent of the any software methodology they use.

Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

17
aamederen 16 hours ago 6 replies      
I believe, from time to time, you just need to stop developing new stuff for a period of time and dedicate the team to improve the overall quality, pay technical depts, hunt bugs, remove legacy code and refactor still existing ones.
18
ChrisRus 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> From Jack Reeves he cites the epiphany "that in fact the source code is a design document and that the construction phase is actually the use of the compiler and linker."

Ha. That is laughable. If it were so, then we would be able to automatically graft features from one product to another. I contend this is exactly how SoC are designed and there's no reason why we shouldn't copy the methods of the digital design community (proven to scale or you wouldn't be reading this).

19
amelius 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It also seems that improvements in code quality caused by React happened not because they were driven by management, but because a few "heroic" engineers thought it was an interesting side-project. At least, that's my impression from the publicly available talks they gave.
20
bobbyi_settv 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> The second exhibit is from Facebook Research... wouldnt you just write your disk files to a ramdisk? Surely they noticed this too

I'm not sure the author understand what a Research team is and what it does. Trying out a new solution to an existing problem is sort of their job. I'm also not sure how a research team publishing a paper discussing an alternate solution indicates anything about the company's "code quality".

21
watwut 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Reality check is that most companies, including most startups, attempting to create software of such size end up tangled in their own mess way sooner and fail. Keeping it maintainable at such scale is not as easy as keeping it maintainable when there are four of you.
22
segmondy 16 hours ago 18 replies      
So?

I've become very cynical since the past year or so because there is a lot of noise/articles on the net, all knowing what's best for you or wrong with what you are doing. Yet without context or true authority to talk about it. My question these days when I read such article, "What has the author done that is equivalent?" There is rarely anything to be found.

Facebook might have a "code quality problem." But until you have worked at an organization that is big like Facebook please hold forth your tongues or fingers in this case. Startup principles don't apply nor academia. Facebook's "code problem" is what really does happen in the real world with such humongous business enterprises. Lot's of moving pieces in code, in people, in ideas and the amalgamation of these results in what most programmers will see as "code quality problem" yet the market sees as billions of dollars.

23
chiefalchemist 15 hours ago 0 replies      
But seriously (i.e., ref to my previous comment). All the tools. All the talent. All the leadership and management. All the money. And still even the mighty FB struggles.

Point being: This shit might not be rocket scientist hard, but it ain't easy either. And when you don't have the war chest of the likes of FB you're in for an ongoing and never ending (quality) battle.

24
sz4kerto 17 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to note though that they have code quality problems but that doesn't prevent them from being massively successful.
25
raygelogic 14 hours ago 0 replies      
this strikes me the same way as the story of the guys who figured out where to add armor to bombers during WW2. the places on the plane that had bullet holes after a mission clearly were operational enough to return to base. the places that never had any damage were probably critical, so that's where armor was added.

if a company can make billions with a poor-quality codebase, clearly quality isn't a bottom-line concern.

what is a concern is shipping the damn product.

26
norswap 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I was doing iOS dev three years ago, and the Facebook lib for iOS was the worst piece of shit I ever had to deal with.

Their app also used to be unbearably sluggish despite not doing anything too fancy.

27
p0nce 12 hours ago 0 replies      
At this point it is clear that software size increase linearly with the size of your software team, whatever the problem you solve.

This affects every organization and is something that should be actively fight against. Having accidental, unplanned, unaccounted costs should not be the default path.

28
strken 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Can someone explain the example with the ramdisk? It's not clear to me how a ramdisk is relevant to the problems put forward in the paper, i.e. disk is too slow, they rely on lazy page allocation, and they have insufficient ram to hold two copies of everything simultaneously.
29
badpenny 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I recommend reading They Write the Right Stuff[1] to anybody interested in NASA's approach to writing software.

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/28121/they-write-right-stuff

30
tomkin 12 hours ago 0 replies      
It's important to understand that Facebook is incredibly large, and the fact that any software scaled with them to the point they are presently at, is a "on the shoulders of giants" situation that seems to actually be working well enough for them to become a billion dollar enterprise.

Also, the building of infrastructure that takes on scale that's not yet been required is somewhat inefficient. But it does beg the question: If Facebook is limited by its infrastructure, what responsibilities do they have to build software that continues to scale for future organizations?

31
jheriko 16 hours ago 0 replies      
one look at hhvm tells me they have poor quality development practices. :P

i get the impression that they use the struct keyword to avoid having to type public everywhere for instance...

32
dep_b 17 hours ago 0 replies      
code quality can't handle our scale
33
peletiah 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Makes me wonder how their decision for an open-plan office is related with this...
34
sushobhan 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think all the things discussed are still relevant as it's a fairly old post. Also, "best practices" are not always best depending on the scalability of the problem itself.
35
Bahamut 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Anecdotal evidence, but I have a friend who complained that some critical parts don't have tests, and a lot of developers are loathe to write them. He got bit by it when he made a change in an area with no test coverage and broke the spam filter.
36
baggachipz 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> The Hack and Move fast and break things culture must make it very hard for developers to focus on quality.

Well, yeah, that's what the "break things" part means. The problem is when people/companies try to have it both ways. "Move fast and have high quality" isn't possible.

37
alex- 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> "when Facebook employees are not actively making changes . . . the site experiences higher levels of reliability."

This seems like a great thing to me. i.e. The system is stable and the error budget is being used to facilitate change.

38
jyriand 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Only Kent Beck can save them. :)
39
typetypetype 14 hours ago 0 replies      
What's the point of an app? Generating high quality code or generating revenue? Until you hit intersections where revenue can be increased by changing code, the priority will always be on new or changed features.
40
chiefalchemist 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Move fast...and just leave things broken. Users be damned.
41
linkmotif 8 hours ago 0 replies      
While the author wrote this article FB made millions of dollars.
42
dwils098 12 hours ago 0 replies      
links to slides are all dead... in parent articles and reference articles
43
_pmf_ 16 hours ago 0 replies      
> The article moves on, without wondering whether releases regularly breaking your app are a normal part of the software engineering process.

To be fair, that's absolutely their call to make. Nothing of value is ever lost if your platform does not provide any non-ephemeral value.

44
neals 17 hours ago 0 replies      
[2015]
45
_pmf_ 17 hours ago 2 replies      
If a company hails React as a sane way to develop software, you know where it stands.
17
Introducing Create React Native App facebook.github.io
474 points by dikaiosune  9 hours ago   120 comments top 17
1
hasenj 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I started a project in React Native a few months ago, then I left it for a couple weeks, then when I came back to it, I did the usual chore of updating libraries, and found that I could no longer compile/run the project. Purged and re created my npm_modules folder to no avail. Things kept getting worse and I simply have no clue what is going on. Started a fresh RN project and even that would not run.

I got the feeling that it's layers upon layers of leaky abstractions and the whole thing seems rather fragile.

2
dikaiosune 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Hi! I wrote a bunch of the code for CRNA (although it obviously builds on a lot of great work from Facebook and Expo people). Happy to answer questions.

I'll be doing a brief demo during my lightning talk at ReactConf -- livestreamed at ~5:45pm pacific time today at http://conf.reactjs.org/livestream.

3
baron816 6 hours ago 11 replies      
What are people's feelings towards React Native vs actual native mobile development these days? Are people starting to get the sense that this is the future and coding in Swift/Objective-C/Java for mobile is dying off?
4
RubenSandwich 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm a bit unsure about this decision. Because this is tying React Native to a private entity, namely Expo, that has not open sourced it's toolchain used here. Expo takes your code and builds it on their servers and then serves it to you. That toolchain unlike React Native is not open source. This is creating a walled garden around Expo who can easily decide to charge for their server fees. Yes it is a much easier of an boarding experience then installing Xcode and Android Studio but at least with Xcode and Android Studio you own the whole toolchain. Because of this fact I don't think this is comparable to React Create App, which is excellent.

Edit: Expo has open sourced their code, see below. And CRNA does not build code on their servers, I assumed it had the same workflow as their XDE tool. It does not. But I'm still unsure of this decision. It makes Expo a vital part of React Native, or at least puts them in the position to have that position.

5
sAbakumoff 37 minutes ago 1 reply      
What is it with React Native? HN's front page today:

2. React Native Navigation Library (airbnb.io)

3. Introducing Create React Native App (facebook.github.io)

8. Wix Releases a React Native Physics Engine (github.com)

6
donjh 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Create React App was a great addition to the React ecosystem and definitely made the library more approachable. Excited to check this out!
7
brilliantcode 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Has the Android side improved with React Native? The last time I took a look at this which was last year, the consensus was the Android result wasn't optimal.
8
sprite 6 hours ago 2 replies      
A bit off topic but how is react native performance compared to native? Lets say you did an Instagram type timeline, would you be able to get the same scrolling performance with RN as going native?
9
fleshweasel 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't see why there can't be React-like libraries written and used in languages that compile to native. I'm not expecting to have JSX but I should be able to write component classes and implement their render methods, returning view trees written with some kind of object/array literal syntax.

To get as good of a development experience as React, it would require some work by the compiler and runtime people to basically let you do something like hot loading--Android has something like this now, and maybe Apple will get it too, though I'm not holding my breath.

I think it's a no-brainer for web development these days to do React because 1. you can opt out of it for parts of the page it's not going to work with for whatever reason and 2. the performance is pretty damn good compared to lots of alternatives, including writing all the UI state management logic yourself. However, I've not been convinced that the buy-in is worth it for native mobile development. Can someone who knows more tell me: is it fairly easy to do something like say "I can't/don't want to use React Native for this view controller--I'm going to implement it in code and use it and everything will just work."

10
hypercluster 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Always interesting to see how cross platform is evolving (this and also Xamarin update recently), wonder how the Google and Apple regard this. Anyway, I just tried out the Expo App on iOS and noticed that the back swipe animation does not seem to be native in the examples. Is there a reason for that? (that's something I always try out of I want to check if an app is native).
11
andrewfong 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Are there any tutorials or documentation on integrating Expo with a different RN build process? For example, if we have an existing setup with TypeScript or want to use Mocha instead of Jest or whatever.
12
ourcat 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Didn't Apple start rejecting apps recently which do 'hot code' pushes to update apps remotely? (As the video on the Expo.io site says)
13
eeeze 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the great work on it! Will definitely check it out.

As for someone who was using Expo for a while, how's that different from the exp start and the rest of the platform? Seems like an interface or another entry point -question if necessary?

14
Traubenfuchs 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Crashed my phone (An infinite amount of "Loading js bundle" popups appeared, creating a solid black background from all the shadows) and then it killed my server (EDIS/waveride vserver -now unreachable from outside, probably some kind of overusage protection).

Nice.

15
swah 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting, this probably kills Phonegap now :) :(
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rtw1981 3 hours ago 0 replies      
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Kiro 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any reason to use this rather than "New Project" in the XDE if you're already an Expo user?
18
We didnt lose control of the Web it was stolen ar.al
392 points by imartin2k  1 day ago   143 comments top 26
1
notlisted 16 hours ago 3 replies      
FB did steal the web and your social network. Remember how FB grew? If not, let me remind you: "See which of your friends are also on FB! Just give us your Google and Yahoo contacts". Yes, you gave FB permission to check your contacts, but FB omitted to tell us that they would be HOLDING ON to your contacts forever and ever. FB then sent those contacts, without your permission and not per your request, an email saying YOU were on FB or and email that YOU had asked them to join. Initially there was a little quid-pro-quo, you could also export contacts from FB to Goole and/or Yahoo. This was closed down soon after they gobbled up the contact lists of the world[1][2].

Of course, LinkedIn later did a similar thing, and grew in a similar fashion, but at least there you could, and can, REMOVE the contacts you've handed over without full disclosure.

I willingly GAVE my contacts to Google/Yahoo, and they provided a service for me, GMAIL/YMAIL. Facebook STOLE what I gave to google/yahoo, and they used dark patterns.

The cat is out of the bag, but let's not forget our history.

PS Articles have even claimed that shadow-profiles were created for those who had not signed up yet, which could be matched with actual sign-ups at a later date.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2010/11/04/facebook-google-contacts/

[2] http://searchengineland.com/facebook-you-have-no-right-to-ex...

2
subjectsigma 1 day ago 2 replies      
I agree with the sentiment of this article, but only to a degree.

I recommend anyone interested in this to read Open Standards and the Digital Age, by Andrew Russel. The book is a partial refutation of the idea of an 'open web' using historical examples, the most shocking being the failure of open and democratic methods to build an open Internet standard versus the success of Serf and Kahn inventing TCP/IP in a closed and corporate environment, funded by the military. The reality is that some systems critical to the operation of the Internet, such as DNS, are highly centralized, un-open, un-private and un-free, or at least when compared with cyberlibertarian expectations of how the Internet should be. It also addresses other perversions of 'open', such as the irony that some of FLOSS's biggest customers are megacorps like Apple and Microsoft, who up until recently contributed way less back than what they took.

I don't think the web was 'stolen' from 'us', I think people just don't realize how controlling it was before. They're mistaking an epiphany for an actual loss of freedom that may or may not have been there in the first place. We need to fight for a free and open Internet, but let's not kid ourselves with inaccurate and misleading language.

3
jstewartmobile 22 hours ago 1 reply      
The worst part is that if you're employed, it's probably a job requirement to use at least one of these surveillance capitalism platforms.

Most people I know in tech have to be on Slack. Most people I know in advertising and PR have to be on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For some jobs, like journalism, even the "troops on the ground" are required to post and tweet. Even for jobs without the social media taint, a lot of companies use corporate gmail, so now Google is way up in your business.

In 2007, you could probably just chalk it all up to poor personal choices. In 2017, I don't know if that's entirely true. We're in a situation that cries out for regulation, although that will probably not happen in the US until after a calamity, since regulation is seen as one of the heads of the beast in our money religion.

edit: Slightly off-topic, but both mainstream mobile platforms have chilling surveillance and control aspects that make most of the web seem benign in comparison.

4
jacquesm 1 day ago 1 reply      
It all went wrong at the firewall. As soon as peer-to-peer was over and NAT became a security layer as well as a technological construct to put more than one host behind one public IP it was essentially game-over.

If you want to reboot the web then you need to reboot the internet first, solve the insecurity of privately hosted servers first and convince ISPs that symmetric connectivity should be the rule.

After that you have a fighting chance.

5
bambax 18 hours ago 11 replies      
While I agree with the gist of the article, I have a problem conflating Google and Facebook in the same evil bag.

Facebook is the evilest of evil, not only for the reasons stated, but also because information entered into Facebook never comes out. You have to have an account on FB to see anything on the platform. That is contrary to everything the Web ever stood for.

Since I don't have a Facebook account, most of my friends don't either, and I will prevent my kids from having one for as long as humanely possible, I'm not sure what kind of benefit it provides. (I'm aware that 25% of all of humanity is on Facebook so they must find something in it. I just don't know what it is, and would rather not find out.)

But, to me, Google is quite different. Not only is Google Search is unparalleled, it's also quite open. Yes, Google constantly tries to have you "login" and turn on search history, etc., but one can still use Google Search completely anonymously. That's not a detail, that is a very important feature of Google Search.

* * *

Now about fighting back, what about starving the beast with adblock? Everyone concerned by any of this should not only use adblock but heavily promote it to everyone. That's probably not the complete solution but it's obviously part of it.

6
vinceguidry 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is just unnecessarily divisive. Look, this is the way commerce works. Checks on corporate behavior come in two realms, legal and ethical. Companies will violate ethics if everybody else is doing it. Companies violate the law if they are the proverbial bad eggs.

If unethical practices become normal, the thing to do is to get a law passed. It's the way this has always worked. Laws change the entire landscape of commerce. They shake things up enough to where a new status quo is found. Law isn't perfect but it can shift the ethical regime more in the direction of the people.

The author's recommendation of a world without kings is a fantasy. If you eliminate hierarchy that means everybody must become an institution. Being an institution is not fun. It's fun to fantasize about building your own house but only the really motivated actually do it. Kings do us a favor by creating structure where there once was none. Silicon Valley is ultimately a force for good.

7
vtange 1 day ago 2 replies      
There seems to be a lot of antagonism directed at Google and Facebook in this piece, making it sound as if those companies knowingly stole or forced people to fork over data.

I know sometimes it's easy to play the evil mega-corp card, but we need to ask ourselves the question: what is the goal here, to take down Google and Facebook? 'Cause if you're worried about an internet with extra surveillance and restrictions, taking down Google and Facebook doesn't really solve things.

Plus, even in a world with Google and Facebook out of the picture, there will still be political trolls hired by other companies and nation-states. There are also alternate-Googles that can just swoop in and fill the void you create if say you do take down Google. They are not necessarily better than Google today.

8
zitterbewegung 1 day ago 2 replies      
The web wasn't stolen we gave it to them. You didn't have to sign up for Facebook. You don't have to sign up for googles services. Look how people like RMS use the web .
9
empath75 1 day ago 9 replies      
I've been thinking of closing my Facebook account, but I'd lose contact with so many friends and family. They don't use email or any kind of instant messenger any more, and nobody makes phone calls any more. If you're not on Facebook you might as well not exist.
10
ams6110 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The original, open, non-privacy-invading web is still there. There are many sites sharing and hyperlinking academic research and relevant practitioner information that do not have advertising and do not track you.

We are the ones who voted with our clicks to use the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google.

11
wyldfire 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just like the Newton and the Palm Pilot -- the solutions to this problem came too soon. Diaspora, GNU social, Ello (?) probably others. Perhaps in ten or twenty years a breaking point will come along.

That said, I think there's a real market for closed content like FB's. And even though I find a decentralized system more appealing, I can imagine a new, closed/centralized system taking FB's place in the future.

12
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H4CK3RM4N 1 day ago 0 replies      
I really like the comment at the bottom which mentions the structural flaws in attempting to democratise the web while client-server architecture is still king.
14
simplehuman 1 day ago 1 reply      
Have any visionaries written what an alternative web looks like I.e we still need the services of Google and Facebook but done in a privacy conscious way.
15
Keverw 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think we really need more regulations in this area. There is already a bunch of privacy related laws on the books.

Plus using data to improve the user experience, recommendations(YouTube, Netflix), targeted ads seems pretty neat(I prefer ads about tech products, my interests compared to makeup or pads). The products get better and improve. Facebook doesn't sell your information, they let advertisers use it to target you. Probably more profitable to let companies use the data instead of selling it.

Companies like LexisNexis and Acxiom are the ones I'd be really worried about. Some states DMV's even sell databases. I'd be more worried about them, Google and Facebook are way better corporate citizens than these mega databroker companies would be. At least Google and Facebook you can opt-out of. LexisNexis, good luck opting-out. Last time I checked only law enforcement who fear they are in danger can opt-out.

Regulations are what kills innovation. Probably since the government has mainly left the internet alone is probably why it's one of the most innovative industries. Imagine having to read a 300 page 2 column paged document and wait on a lengthly process before you are even allowed to put up even a blog.

Then all of this talk lately about "fake news" just seems like censorship. I am worried that some day the internet will be over regulated and censored it will be just like cable television at some point.

16
dorfsmay 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't the problem that that you need money/time to make good, easy to use platforms?

How many people here still use usenet vs reddit/HN ?

17
barnacs 1 day ago 0 replies      
It wasn't stolen, we're giving it away. And not just the web, but our freedom.

If you're using services that support surveillance capitalism or you are working on such products, please stop. Thank you!

18
d--b 23 hours ago 1 reply      
The argument is an angry version of "if it's free, you're the product," which at this stage is very uncontroversial, and only comments on the "we've lost control of our data" point made in the original post. The link between what author calls "people farming" and "surveillance" is not compelling.

That said, I personally agree with the author in identifying the main problem of the web as people tracking. In my opinion, Tim Bernes-Lee points about misinformation and political advertising are not specific to the medium, but rather to the times we live in. People are pissed, people are scared, they need something to blame, they need some fantasy to believe in, they make up scary news, they vote for the guy that gives them a dream.

What's specific to the web though, (and that is starting to spread out of the web) is the data tracking. Whether for advertising ends or for surveillance purposes, data tracking creates a power imbalance between people and systems that is unbearable.

That power imbalance is the weirdness you felt the first time you saw a gmail ad related to the email you were reading. It's the anger that heats up your cheeks when the sales guy asks for your email address when you just want to buy shoes. It's the 2-hour phone call to the customer service that ends in "I'm sorry there is nothing I can do for you". It's the "late fee" mails you automatically receive for a service that you cancelled. It's realizing that the app your employer installed on your phone can tell them your location at all times. It's the swatting that reminds you not to shop for pressure cookers online. It's the cameras. It's the cars. It's the lightbulbs.

We as people are weak. I don't think Silicon Valley intended it that way. I think they genuinely wanted to improve the world. And in order to keep it cheap, they found money where they could, and in the process, they undermined people's privacy in a way that is making the world a lot worse than it was.

I personally feel hopeful. Countries are made of people. And I think that people are starting to get it. We need rules to prevent this. Laws that force companies to automatically give you the option not to track you. The same laws that forced mailing list senders to have the unsubscribe button (thank god for the unsubscribe button!). For this to happen, we need lobbying, we need awareness. We need a "this website is not tracking you" label. We need privacy checks.

19
z3t4 19 hours ago 0 replies      
At least Google cares for the web because of the revenue it gets from the Google search engine. Google wants everything to be a web app, while Facebook wants everything to be a Facebook app, and Microsoft wants everything to be a dot.net app.
20
panglott 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The older Web wasn't much harder to use, but it was overrun with spam and content farms and the threats of anonymous communication were far more visible.
21
epigramx 21 hours ago 0 replies      
When TV was the main mass communication system you needed a single antenna or a single satellite to project to unlimited people in the projected area. While that was one-way and the internet is two-way, the internet introduced the requirement for the projector to have the infrastructure to support millions of users individually. That means the main technological reason Google and Facebook took over was that you need money to take over the internet, you can't just do it for free, and those like Wikipedia that did it in a less profitable way had to be very proficient in collecting donations.
22
xor1 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Richard Stallman and Hideo Kojima were right.
23
sushobhan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Web becoming much like the economy where there are big players who control the web and others who are shouting for equality. There is another group, largest amongst these three, almost 90% of general population, who don't bother/understand and go with the wind.With big data come into the scene, things get out of hands as these "big guns" are on a spree to collect more and more of our personal details. IOT is another thing that will surely make situation much worse, as they are meant to be our personal assistance, we are allowing them to learn our behavior and act accordingly.When we see an advertisement related to our 3days earlier search, it's not the ad that is get promoted instead we are getting sold.
24
HugoDaniel 17 hours ago 0 replies      
What about porn ? He forgot to mention the "free" porn industry.
25
tannhaeuser 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Could it be that US antitrust regulation policies and authorities, or lack thereof, are part of the problem?

Edit: not saying it is, but what about the WA deal?

26
unlmtd 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Google doesn't exist. There are only people who work under an umbrella termed "Google". Those people do not agree with each others on everything. So, Yes, we can work with some of them. After all, wasn't Snowden 'The NSA' !?
19
Can sleep deprivation cure depression? nytimes.com
394 points by hvo  2 days ago   208 comments top 33
1
JasonSage 2 days ago 9 replies      
> Most peoples natural cycle is somewhat longer than the 24-hour solar day, which means that, left to our own devices, we would get quickly get out of sync with the external world.

I've always had very bad issues sleeping and waking "on time." In school this led to me regularly missing class and eventually dropping school entirely, and with regular work schedules I hardly ever got good sleep.

A little while ago, I made a commitment to myself to sleep when I was tired and to get up when I was rested. I eased into a schedule where every day I got up and went to bed about an hour later every day.

This has been my schedule for the past 9 months or so. I sleep 8 to 10 hours per night. Every night I go to bed about an hour later than the night before. My schedule rotates about 6-8 hours per week, and about 12-14 hours every two weeks, meaning I do a complete rotation about once a month.

During this time I've been vastly more productive and happy, I've had many fewer emotional swings toward anger or sadness, and I'm much more calm and less anxious in general.

My sleep schedule is easy to adhere to and self-corrects if I ever need to be up early/late or at a certain time. I even have an easier time making scheduled meeting times because I'm rested enough to be able to get up early when I need to.

Interestingly, I'm consistently well-rested and alert with my schedule despite having zero dependence on the natural sunlight cycle. I think this is because sunlight has a much smaller effect on me in the morning than computer light does in the evening.

2
stretchwithme 2 days ago 4 replies      
I don't know about sleep and depression. My Mom was bipolar and the topic never came up, other than her being up to all hours when she was manic.

But I recently read an interesting article about vitamin D and that lead me to supplement magnesium and vitamins D, A and K. I only do it once every three days to be conservative.

 http://www.precisionnutrition.com/stop-vitamin-d
And I've found I'm much more decisive and likely to take action. In fact, last December I became a morning person using early morning light and exercise. Instead of getting to the office after 10, I now get in by 8 most days. I keep to it on weekends too and go to a coffee shop.

I also recently changed my evening routine during the week, cutting out TV and stopped eating chips after dinner.

For the morning and the evening changes, I devised a routine of things I do that make doing the hard parts easier. In the morning, I turn the light on, use the restroom, drink some water, set a timer for ten minutes, relax until it goes off, exercise, shower, dress and get out the door. I try to stick to this every day.

3
anigbrowl 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sure it works great for some people and very poorly for others. I am disappointed by this headline though. While the story is interesting, 'can X CURE depression?!'is basically clickbaity bullshit, and if the NYT is serious about the value of journalism it should abandon clickbaiting as a strategy, for two reasons. One, it's because of shullshit headlines like this that people in general distrust the media in general. Two, people who suffer from depression are really suffering, and exploiting that (and the suffering of their caregivers) for an eye-grabbing headline that's basically bullshit is an unethical exploitation of their medical condition for profit.
4
update 2 days ago 9 replies      
> Tbingen who was hospitalized for depression and claimed that she normally kept her symptoms in check by taking all-night bike rides. He subsequently demonstrated in a group of depressed patients that a night of complete sleep deprivation produced an immediate, significant improvement in mood in about 60 percent of the group.

I thought this bit was neat. I'd heard that sleep deprivation can bring on a feeling of euphoria, and anecdotally, it has worked for me

5
adamnemecek 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm hoping that society will adjust to recognize this because it feels like in certain circles, saying that you need to sleep seems to be seen a weakness.
6
roywiggins 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder what damage our twice yearly clock changes do. An hour doesn't seem like much but, giving an entire population a little bit of jet lag simultaneously has to be bad for us, right?
7
make3 2 days ago 3 replies      
Thinking of the recent reproducibility crisis in psychology, I'm wondering how you can prove this without the placebo effect. How does someone try not sleeping without knowing if they are not sleeping? Or do you compare with people doing something else that is known to be useless? like a sugar pill. Thinking about how different colors of placebo in antidepressants have more or less intense effects, I wonder if the fact that using a placebo so different from the actual thing makes it pointless.
8
palavsen 2 days ago 3 replies      
My experience is sleep deprivation increases depression
9
failrate 2 days ago 0 replies      
My experience is that sleep deprivation leads me into a manic episode, but any benefits are outweighed by the inevitable crash. My depression is generally treated effectively by a rigid sleep schedule and lots of sunlight.
10
tabeth 2 days ago 8 replies      
I wonder how much coffee plays into this. I've yet to meet someone who sleeps consistently more than 8 hours per night who feels the need to drink coffee.

edit: 8 quality hours of sleep, e.g. you wake up and you're not tired.

11
iharhajster 2 days ago 0 replies      
My anxiety and depression kicked in in 2006, after several triggers coincided. Some that I remember now are: dissapointment in my "friends", my inability to digest some college courses that had been way above my level of comprehension, falling in love with person A, while person B had fallen in love with me, alcohol overdose habit, stopping going to Sunday sermons after being dissapointed with local priest, pressure from my enviornment and myself to be best at everything I do, and so on. After that day X, I spent a whole week in bed, and started to behave strange.

So that left my parents no other option, but to eventually take me to psychiatrist.

When she put me on antidepressants, I started to act even worse.I wrote and drew on blackboards at college breaks, once asked a profssor in the middle of his lecture " what is time?", I wrote in my sister's chat while she was afk and talked nonsence to she's friends, I started to have all sorts of crazy ideas and I wrote on all walls and furniture in my room.

I can't really know exacly what happened, but my brain started a roller coaster ride between being uterlly depressed to extreme overthinking and I had a thought that I somehow controlled the reality by changing the mood I was in. At the same time all inhibitors were gone.A part of the feeling I had I can relate to a movie "A beautiful mind". That part of it that scares the uninformed viewer.So after regulating my treatment, my state become good enough for my parents to send me to the psychologist. Too bad she passed a few years latter. RIP. I mean she was top class. I had about 7-8 90-minutes sessions until my state became a-well-functioning-member-of-society again. My family's support was unprecendented. After a few more months I satrted team gaming heavily. After a year more my psychiatrist removed my therapy alltogether. After 1 more year I returned to church (other one) to youth choir and never had this thing again. The main thing that kept me alive and sane through my darkest hours was thought that I was once happy, and if God existed, he would not let me perish. This was just a hell one has to go through to get to heaven.Sorry for being a little off topic, I just wanted to share what had helped me. Oh, one thing, if you are diagnosed with anxiety and depression, hang in there and talk to somebody. It's not permanent. It passes. I wish you the best. ih

12
3pt14159 2 days ago 4 replies      
My father, brother and I all only need about 5 or 6 hours of sleep. We all just wake up, no matter when we go to bed or how light or dark the room is at night or in the morning. I strongly suspect we have that gene that lets you sleep less, but NYT is indicating that they think I'm depressed based on the embedded interactive.

I don't feel depressed.

Short of a genomic test, how can one differentiate?

13
392c91e8165b 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sleep deprivation would be a bad idea for me because sleep helps the immune system, and my immune system needs all the help it can get (because of my chronic infectious disease).

I have found however that _listening to music_ during sleep will prevent my sleeping a lot from having a depressant effect on my mood. I recommend avoiding music contain exciting or bracing passages; you don't want your sympathetic nervous system to become active during sleep.

If I learn something that I want to retain, then I don't listen to music that night, because the same process (REM sleep?) that tends to depress the mood also helps with the consolidation of new learnings and new skills.

14
ryanmarsh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Que: people who deprive themselves of sleep and then fall into depression because that's what happens when you don't get enough sleep over a long enough period
15
mwpmaybe 2 days ago 1 reply      
As an interesting anecdatum, I've noticed that when I binge-sleep, i.e. for more than 8.5 hours, I feel depressed.
16
baus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Jet lag was a major contributing factor to a bipolar episode I had in Brazil late last year (1), but I will admit to being skeptical of the advice to avoid sleep.

As much as I love to travel, at this point I have to cognizant of how it affects my mental health

https://crisisofthemind.com/fallout-from-an-international-bi...

17
emersonrsantos 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is very interesting. I hope to see treatments that not only uses melatonin and environmental light, but one that also modifies artificial light (indoor/computer/phone/TV/etc...) to optimize wellness. Kind of a F.lux of Things.
18
psyc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Seems like curing pain in your foot by hitting your thumb with a hammer.
19
peterburkimsher 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sleep deprivation amplifies my emotions. The highs become higher, and the lows are lower. Like an op-amp.

Prayer and music helps to cope with the lows. Like a diode.

Sleeping less to wake up early and pray before work has had a huge emotional benefit. It's like an half-wave rectifier.

20
iharhajster 2 days ago 0 replies      
About jet lag and so forth, why not try forget about DST and time zones and use UTC?There are already people working night shifts and feeding babies :), everywhere, so we can assume, the number on our watch doesn't correlate to a certain mood-I-must-be-in-at-this-hour.After all, if we ever leave for another planet, having single clock for single planet sure shall make communication easier than having time zones. Somebody always has eye bags.
21
nabla9 2 days ago 0 replies      
Inpatient wake therapy has been used to treat hospitalized patients to jumpstart the antidepressant. Relapse happens soon after the treatment ends.
22
imissmyjuno 1 day ago 0 replies      
I always get euphoric during sleep deprivation as well, however even if it is a "cure" it is not sustainable.

I believe this effect during sleep deprivation is due to dopaminergic supersensitivity.

23
clbrook 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not an expert in either of these areas (VR or depression), but after reading this I began to wonder if virtual reality could somehow provide a solution or at least mitigate the effects of a jet lagged traveler and/or a person suffering from depression by 'normalizing' their circadian rhythm.
24
nlh 2 days ago 2 replies      
The section in the article on jet lag mitigation was extremely confusing -- the author wrote of evening light and morning light but was unclear which time zone he was referring to.

Can someone explain a bit more clearly? If someone is traveling from SF to Europe or SF to Asia, when should melatonin and light be used optimally?

25
benevol 2 days ago 4 replies      
If you suffer from depression, you should thoroughly research LSD and then make your fully informed personal decision.

On the negative side, this substance may become one of the reasons the pharmaceutical industry will lose recurrent revenues from disappearing dependency on expensive anti-depressants.

26
nkkollaw 1 day ago 0 replies      
My GF has major depression, and slept 3-4 hours/night for months before she started taking sleeping pills.

Didn't seem to help with her depression in the slightest.

27
WastedSanity 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it does help, but it can also be really detrimental as well.
28
lormayna 2 days ago 0 replies      
For my experience sleep deprivation increase aggressivity and nervousness.
29
always_good 2 days ago 0 replies      
To chime in among the other comments, most of which don't address the article either:

I was a night owl + stimulant fiend until I started working out in the morning. Decided to pull the trigger on a daily 9am Crossfit habit.

Now I'm too tired to stay awake past 11pm or so.

30
demonshalo 2 days ago 0 replies      
weed cures my depression. so why deprive myself of something I enjoy doing?
31
ringe 2 days ago 0 replies      
No.
32
valuearb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I thought this was interesting until I saw the author was a psychiatrist, and psychiatry has zero scientific validity. And his article is just referencing a bunch of tiny sample size studies of dubious merit.
33
dominotw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I know the answer without even reading the article. NO.
20
Paypal Horror Story 40k Frozen No Answers
390 points by sabslaurent  1 day ago   234 comments top 33
1
JumpCrisscross 1 day ago 5 replies      
Under U.S. federal law, PayPal is not a bank [1]. This is important. From the government's perspective, you give PayPal money and then PayPal gives you money. Between those events, it's not your money. PayPal has enormous discretion around what they can do with those funds, how and under what circumstances they get to decide to give it to you and if they get to keep it forever.

What state do you live in? Do you do business through an entity, e.g. an LLC? If so, where is it registered?

PayPal is, varyingly, registered as some form of a money transmitter in many states [2]. While your federal protections are probably limited to antifraud, protections you're probably outside of (PayPal has good lawyers--you agreed to surrender lots of privileges when you opened an account), there may be state regulations you can use to, if not force action, encourage it.

Going forward, I tend to consider any business using PayPal for mission critical processes as being negligent with important risks. If you can't avoid using PayPal for certain lines of business, set up a nightly sweep from PayPal to a proper bank account.

[1] http://www.zdnet.com/article/fdic-decides-paypals-no-bank/

[2] http://law.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1153&cont...

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Only a lawyer can give you good legal advice. Don't take legal advice from Internet comments.

2
sabslaurent 1 day ago 1 reply      
An update for anyone who cares...I tweeted this link and tagged Paypal, they reached out saying they are sorry to hear and submitted my case for a review. I replied via DM how can they review ny case without asking any new information or telling me what the issue is, got no reply back. Just got an email saying "Appeal Denied" Paypal account closed for security reasons.

Which security reasons I have absolutely no idea. There's no contact info on the email, just says it's a do not reply address.

3
ziszis 1 day ago 2 replies      
Traditional customer service channels are increasingly broken since they are seen as a cost center to be reduced by many companies. In particular, if you are trying to cancel service or withdraw money it is even "worse" because not only do they have to pay the salary for the rep, they also lose money helping you.

If after one or two calls you don't get what you want, it is not worth retrying. I gave up after being placed in queue for an hour with Comcast. After finally getting ready to speak to a rep, I was informed by an automated message that they were closed for the day and to call back tomorrow.

Here is what I find works:1) Least likely - Traditional customer support channel. Try once or twice at most.2) More likely - Contact publicly on social media like Twitter (Comcast is actual great about this).3) Most likely - Getting upvoted and written about here and elsewhere.

I would wait to engage with a lawyer as there is a good chance that someone from Paypal will popup in this thread. It is probably already surfacing in some internal emails at Paypal now. Good luck.

4
oblib 1 day ago 3 replies      
I make invoicing software that I sell using PayPal and it lets my users add a "Pay with PayPal" button to their invoices and over the years several of my clients have called me and related stories similar to this and they all had some common traits.

They all processed quite a bit of money via PayPal and they all had issues with customer's requesting refunds which they disputed or didn't issue in a timely manner, and they all sold something which had the potential to be a bit shady. One of them sold aircraft parts to Iran, which may have had some legal restrictions that applied. Another sold guns.

Since I sell access to web based software I don't have to ship anything and the product is "delivered" instantly. I also process refunds immediately and without any question.

PayPal most certainly doesn't like getting caught up in refund issues. In my case most of the customers who've requested a refund contacted me first and I issued it promptly with a "Thanks for trying my software" note attached.

The few that have contacted PayPal first resulted in PayPal sending me a notice about the request for a refund and, again, I issued it immediately, but their notice makes it clear that is what they expect and if I recall correctly they put a time limit on that.

Take from this what you want but what I've taken from it is when a customer requests a refund issue the refund as quickly as possible and try hard to make that as easy as possible for your customers and to minimize the potential for them asking for one.

5
mhoad 1 day ago 2 replies      
I very recently (as in this was resolved about 72 hrs ago) was in a a similar situation where I had $20k withheld by PayPal.

I would switch all of my business billing to stripe in a second if they had the ability to pay out to accounts in different currencies like I can do with PayPal.

Despite the fact that I run an Australian business I usually bill in USD but because I travel so much sometimes I'd like to have it in EUR or GBP etc for practical purposes. However with Stripe I am forced to convert it into AUD before I can do anything at all with it meaning I usually have to eat currency conversion fees twice before I can use it in a practical sense. Hence PayPal sadly....

6
fermigier 1 day ago 3 replies      
IIRC this is not the first time this kind of bad behaviour has been reported about Paypal. I suppose you were aware of that. Did you consider Paypal's reputation when you chose to do business with them? Were there alternatives that you considered at the time and if so, why did you stick with Paypal?
7
rgbrenner 1 day ago 1 reply      
2% dispute rate?! That would get you shut down at every merchant account provider I've ever dealt with. In fact, it's usually 0.5% or 1% max. One major bank gave me 0.25% max. I've never seen an agreement that said 2% was ok.

That's a very serious fraud problem.

I've run an ecommerce store -- the chargeback rate was 0.1% (seriously, I calculated this from actual #s).

Nothing in this story (except maybe the customer service issues) would be out of the ordinary for any merchant account.

Edit: fixed chargeback rate

8
mastazi 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't understand, this post has no link and no text body, just a recursive link to this discussion page. Where is the "horror story" mentioned in the title?

EDIT: Oh I see, the original post is buried down in the thread, because it has been posted as a comment. Perhaps the mods could fix this?

9
mstaoru 1 day ago 1 reply      
If you're outside of the US, it gets even more interesting.

First, you need to be VERY careful about using VPN or letting remote team members access Paypal. One misstep with, say, Hong Kong account being accessed from Ukrainian IPs, and you're blocked for a security review which drags for days and weeks.

Second, they completely neglect any special international shipping methods' unique constraints. Sometimes when you ship from China, the tracking will only appear when the package reaches destination country. This is considered an outright fraud by Paypal, which promptly returns money to the client and you're left with a loss.

On top of that, they will impose 3% commission for currency conversion. Did you ever hear of a bank taking 3% to convert between your multi-currency accounts? Well, "Paypal is not a bank".

Add to the mix their robotic support with that condescending tone.

No. I wouldn't touch Paypal with a ten-foot pole.

10
sabslaurent 1 day ago 14 replies      
I've processed successfully hundreds of thousands of dollars with my Paypal account over the pat 4-5 years. My account has been on review a few different times because of volume spikes (around the holiday season, I do ecommerce). When that happens, I usually reach out to Paypal and we discuss like humans, I explain where I'm coming from, they make suggestions and we get it settled. Around November 2016 Paypal reached out and told me due to the disputes coming in they need a $5000 set reserve + a 10% rolling reserve which will be released 90 days after a transaction.I accepted and since then Paypal has called me on 3 different occasions to check up on me and my efforts to reduce the dispute rate. We discussed and the calls seemed to go very well without them having any requests or EVER telling me my account is at risk of being limited and shut down due to disputes.

Towards the end of January I myself realized I tired of the disputes (seemed to be a quality issue with the product which got hundreds of 5 star reviews on my site but still disputes were coming in at around 2%) so I slowly stopped the business meaning I stopped advertising and the only sales coming in were trickling in organically. My volume went down from $200k a month to about $10k a month.

On Wednesday I log in to my Paypal account and it says it's limited they need more information.

They asked for Photo ID, bank statement, proof of address, supplier invoice, supplier contact info and proof of delivery for the last 5 transactions.

I provided everything but the proof of delivery for the last 5 transactions. From the resolution center whenever I clicked proof of delivery it brought me to a page with no transactions so of course I could not provide proof of delivery for transactions that don't exist.

I contacted Paypal letting them know I submitted everything but proof of delivery since there's a bug in their system, they said no worries i'll get an email requesting the transactions they need tracking for and I could just reply back.

I never got that email, but I did wake up Thursday morning with an Appeal Denied automated email saying my account is closed and the money will be frozen for 180 days. That's $20k CAD in my reserve + $15k USD in my available balance. Keep in mind in the past 30 days I processed less than $10k usd on Paypal in total.

I reached out to a supervisor at Paypal and told him what his happening simply doesn't make sense, i provided everything they needed except for what their system was unable to request/receive and that if they had any issue with what I provided they should tell me what it is and help me resolve instead of giving me the hammer for no reason. He said he couldn't help me but opened a ticket for both his supervisor and a supervisor from the limitation team to call me within 24 hours.

The limitation department supervisor never called me back but the business support manager called me back a few hours later. He called me from an unknown number in the evening, told me there's been a mistake, they added a second set of eyes to my account and they agree with me the limitation was unnecessary and wrongfully made. He said he just has a few questions and I will either get a restored access email in a couple hours or a call asking for more information in order to get it settled but he said there's a small chance of that happening, realistically the account will just be restored within a couple hours.

I never got an email or call again, so I called the following day. When I called the rep basically told me there's no evidence of a call and there are no notes on my account from that person/call and nothing was moved forward for a review.

I told him that is nonsense and to look harder. He eventually tells me there's evidence of a call but no notes, they tried to reach out to that supervisor and he wasn't available so there's nothing they could do for me, the decision is final.

I'm being treated like a fraud and a criminal when I'm a legitimate entrepreneur who's processed 10's of thousands of transactions successfully. I also paid them thousands of dollars in fees, never had a negative balance or anything of the sort that would put Paypal at risk.

Now whenever I call they are extremely rude telling me the account is closed they're holding the money and there's absolutely nothing I can do.

They have been rude, lying, inconsistent, unfair and have made 0 effort to resolve this amicably.

They have 0 logical reason to hold $40k of my money for 180 days, the only reason I can think of is they do this on 10's of thousands of accounts and gain big money off the interest.

When I log in to my account there's a notification saying they need more information from me. When I click on that notification it brings me to a page that says the account is limited because they need more information regarding my recent sales, they do not say what information or how to provide information. That is straight up illegal and a complete abuse of power.

I know there are thousands of Paypal horror stories but I genuinely feel abused. I have expenses, a family and so on and need that cash flow and no one at Paypal can be consistent for more than one phone call or help me resolve my issue, it's pathetic.

Just had to vent and hopefully this will give them some of the negative attention they deserve.

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teilo 12 hours ago 2 replies      
If the OP were running an entirely legitimate business, they would have no issue revealing what product they are selling. They clearly do not want us to know what that product is. This is no doubt because we would have no sympathy for them if we knew.

That being the case, I'm calling bullshit.

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kelvin0 1 day ago 1 reply      
OK, so when I click this post, I go directly to HN's comments section. Where is the original story? Missing URL?
13
ahmetyas01 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked with paypal almost 10 years. I can tell you this. Paypal is an evil company.
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dawhizkid 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had this happen to me. I filed a complaint with the CFPB and within a week had my account unfrozen (i.e. still shut down but ability to transfer funds out)
15
jccooper 1 day ago 1 reply      
We use PayPal for a few scattered customers who have problems paying with a card and the occasional eBay sale, so I don't pay much attention to it. Whenever I see a PayPal horror story, I transfer all funds out of there to my bank. It's not the most effective sweep method, but it works depressingly well. I wonder what PayPal's cash balance would be if it had a reputation as being a safe place to keep a balance?
16
coupdejarnac 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm looking at using Paypal for my next business, and it scares me that there is no recourse whenever an issue arises. I need to receive payments and send payments to workers, mostly in Europe. I'm doing a marketplace for jobs kind of like Upwork. I'm based in the USA, so Paypal makes it possible. Are there any alternatives to Paypal? I've been talking with Payoneer, but they have not inspired much confidence. I had my paypal account frozen about 10 years ago for a bullshit reason, and I'd like to avoid using them again.
17
TimMeade 1 day ago 1 reply      
We quit using paypal 8 years ago for exactly this kind of treatment. Seems it has not changed.
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remx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't move large volumes through Paypal. PP is useful for small donations and shuttling small amounts around, but not for the amounts being discussed here, because the larger the amount, the more it hurts you when things go awry.
19
Markoff 21 hours ago 0 replies      
yeah, lifting my limits work further verification was online ordeal for like 2 or more weeks since apparently my ID card with address and full name issued months ago is not good enough, my printed bank record from internet banking is not enough, in the end had to send them two other bank records from different bank to have my bank account back to regular

also don't get me started they steal 5% of my income and don't have live chat service to resolve issues and their FAQ is referring to website layout from years ago with most of the steps wrong

sadly still two of my vendors don't offer to me other payment solutions (well one does wire transfer but only for large amounts i can collect in months) so i still have to use this horrible service to not lose income

20
funkyy 1 day ago 0 replies      
It might sound bad, but usually, when I was doing volume, and I would travel to the different country, region, I would call PayPal central and let them know. While I am all about privacy, this always made them put some comment on my account that helped me pass all the bad things. "We need more documents" issue? Solved in hours. $20K spike of revenue in few days? Not a problem!
21
grahamburger 1 day ago 2 replies      
One of my top-ten rules for staying sane on the Internet is 'Never leave any money in your PayPal account.' Served me well so far - I had my account frozen but there was only $2 in the account. PayPal is horrible.
22
eonw 1 day ago 0 replies      
this has been going on as long as paypal has been around. i never allow anyone to send more then a $1k to my paypal, everything larger than that gets check or wire. First time i got a $5k wire, they locked me out and held my monies for 90 days.... doesnt really help a growing business to have money locked. this was in 2002.
23
kaffee 1 day ago 1 reply      
As someone paying for products, I detest PayPal. I'm forced to do it rarely enough that I would pay 5-10% extra to avoid doing it. I realize I'm just one data point but perhaps there's a market here?

One case where it's especially frustrating is Etsy. There are many vendors on Etsy who refuse to accept any payment other than PayPal. (One can't use an Etsy gift card.)

Edit: add etsy note

24
uptown 1 day ago 1 reply      
Apparently no details either. Where's the story?
25
lquist 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned from HN was to autosweep my PayPal account. I am thankful that I was fortunate enough to learn this lesson before starting my company and running tens of millions through PayPal. I can't say for sure that I would still be in business if I hadn't.
27
Exuma 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah... pretty much the exact reason I don't leave any significant amount of money in PayPal at one time.
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Buge 1 day ago 1 reply      
Where is the story? This post doesn't link to any article or anything.
29
adamio 1 day ago 2 replies      
You stopped advertising and still had passive income of 10k monthly ?
30
joeclark77 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Queen Victoria supposedly told her daughter on her wedding night, "Just lie back and think of England." Whenever I have to deal with PayPal, I think to myself "Just lie back and think of SpaceX." If Paypal helps Elon Musk take us to Mars, maybe it's worth putting up with at least occasionally. (You can think of Tesla if you prefer.)
31
ArtDev 1 day ago 0 replies      
I deleted my Paypal business account, never going back.
32
elastic_church 1 day ago 0 replies      
How surprising, I've never heard of this happening before

(this is sarcasm, for people who actually never heard of this happening before)

33
wayn3 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a case of KYC. Paypal wants to get to know you. Just talk to them. This looks scary to people who dont deal with banks and entities that act like banks, but paypal is doing this because they need to protect themselves from aiding people in money laundering, which is a pretty big deal.

If you explain to them what youre doing and come up with some proof, they will release your money. They do not want to steal it. Almost all these cases revolve around someone not communicating with paypal and then acting surprised when they freeze funds.

Any bank would do that. If my bank is hit wit ha 100k transfer and I don't say a word about it and then appear at the local branch and demand to cash it all out without an explanation of whats going on, they will refuse that, as well. And probably call the cops just to cover their asses. Seriously. Talk to them.

21
I invented the web. Here are three things we need to change to save it theguardian.com
373 points by perseusprime11  2 days ago   237 comments top 29
1
ThePhysicist 1 day ago 10 replies      
Surprised that no one mentioned the new EU data protection directive, which goes a long way to fix the first issue mentioned in the article, the loss of control over our personal data (only for users in Europe though). I studied it in detail as I work in data analysis and consult companies on this, and I honestly think it is one of the best laws produced by the EU so far:

It gives users a multitude of rights such as being informed about exactly which kind of data a company has about them (and even get a digital copy of that data), how the company uses that data and for which purposes it is used. And if you're subjected to algorithmic decision making (e.g. an algorithm decides if the bank should award you a credit) you have the right to know which kind of algorithms were used in the process and to contest the decision. You also have the right to demand the deletion of your personal data and to revoke the right of a company to process it, as well as to demand correction of inaccurate data. The legislation also allows for severe fines and punishments for companies not respecting the regulation (up to 4 % of yearly turnover of the whole company group), so even companies the size of Google or Facebook should have strong incentives to follow the regulation.

2
Andrenid 2 days ago 15 replies      
I would truly love a new "web" which is effectively style-free. I think the existing one is fine to continue for the general public, online shopping, social networks, etc.. but a parallel information-dense system that uses ultra light weight browsers that work on every device and platform, accessing machine-readable data with some standard stylesheet that concentrates in readability, and the "good" bits of the modern web, without the fluff.

It would be great for technical blogs and news, project sites, wiki type data stores, discussion forums, etc.

Maybe everything in this "new" web is static, no stylesheets except browser-side for users to customise themselves.

I'm not sure what the actual answer is but I know the existing web is broken beyond repair.

3
K0nserv 1 day ago 5 replies      
> Today marks 28 years since I submitted my original proposal for the worldwide web. I imagined the web as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries.

Seems to me that the above and the points raised in point 2 sit on opposite sides of the spectrum. Either you get a free and open internet where everyone can publish content as they like or you police who and want can be published. The spread of misinformation seems to be a direct result of the democratic nature of the internet.

4
pdimitar 1 day ago 2 replies      
As much as I'd love to help projects like IPFS (for example), truth is that most people simply don't care and are entirely clueless on the impact of the continued centralization and surveillance of the Internet on their lives. Sitting with random people on a table, they giggle and smirk saying "I've got nothing to hide, you're too paranoid, bro, cheer up!" and I quickly give up. They have zero idea about how much info is collected about them. If tomorrow somebody pulled out that info in a fabricated trial against them, they'll sing another tune but it will be way too late. Nobody ever listens until it impacts them directly. Sad reality about Homo Sapiens. Another one is the echo chamber effect -- people absolutely LOVE their social echo chambers and they can legitimately punch in you the face if you point them at a source that disagrees with them.

As a second and last point to the above, I can't afford donating all my free time to help progress the decentralized internet anymore. I am 37 and I have a very happy personal life but need to work on my health a lot, I am very tired and burned out and I am finding myself unable (even if I want) to work for free without any reward in sight (not even talking about money; I am sure I wouldn't even be thanked). I imagine many others are in a similar position -- in terms of finances, in the health department, or in their general mental stance.

I very much like the idea of creating a "home internet box" which is a self-contained fanless machine connected to an UPS -- and it contains router, firewall, own website, own mailserver, own private Dropbox, a universal P2P node (BitTorrent / IPFS) etc., but as others have pointed out, our current stack of network technologies is way too bloated and full of incomplete standards -- which in turn are likely full of exploits and dark corners -- that right now the only seemingly appropriate course of action is to get rid of it all -- except the physical layer protocols -- and start over.

Try making an API app that works with anything else than HTTP and HTML/JSON. Tell me how that went for you. Try using ASN.1 as a data format, or a compressed secured IP layer protocol. Yes it's possible but it's much slower than it should be. Seems us humans always want to have one "universal truth".

It's extremely sad and I am afraid we'll live to see very oppresive times pretty soon.

5
mpweiher 1 day ago 0 replies      
The letter:

http://webfoundation.org/2017/03/web-turns-28-letter/

Referenced by the W3C, but surprisingly without a direct hyperlink, only by title. A bit strange considering the organization:

https://www.w3.org/blog/2017/03/28th-birthday-of-the-web/

6
fiatjaf 1 day ago 7 replies      
Does anyone else see as problem that web browsers are getting so feature-rich? That means that if anyone wants to write a new web browser he won't be able to.
7
tomohawk 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's interesting that one of the great things about the web is the promise of it distributed nature, and yet his prescribed 'fix' for misinformation sounds like the establishment of some sort of central authority to regulate content.
8
chippy 1 day ago 2 replies      
The current narrative of misinformation as a news item is a new thing, which arrived in our world during the recent US election process. The issue gets my suspicion-radar bleeping. The whole narrative smells funny to me.

It's not really a global issue, it's a current affairs issue and one particular to a specific geography. And its not really an internet issue I think but a human one.

What I find interesting is that Trump is adopting the narrative that emerged to criticise him, to criticise media bias in general. That's interesting because political bias and misinformation can be separated - actual wrong reporting of facts vs bias of interpretation, but they can be argued to produce the same effect.

9
return0 1 day ago 1 reply      
The web needs more anarchy, not less. Less spoon-feeding people with the truth, let them bear the brunt of their failures. All the problems he mentions are political, stemming from too much power in governments which makes political candidates ruthless.
10
mborch 1 day ago 3 replies      
The new web needs to be distributed in a privacy-preserving sense. Today, you can't realistically browse the web without getting identified and generally speaking geolocated.

What we need is a model where you pull information you request from distributed and diverse pools of public domain content.

11
kyledrake 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been getting increasingly concerned about the future of the web as well https://arstechnica.co.uk/information-technology/2017/02/fut...
12
fiatjaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
> "Its too easy for misinformation to spread on the web"

It's too easy for misinformation to spread everywhere.

13
bnolsen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Except for the private data part, I found this not very constructive. Too political. IMHO biggest problem with the web itself is snooping, tracking all driving an insane amount of bloat which clogs the internet. Any extra bandwidth or horsepower is immediately sucked and then some up by advertisers and tracking. There's nothing lean and mean about it anymore.

The internet exists as an information resource that people need to be able to sift through themselves, not something that governments or other self selected groups decide to arbitrarily censor for whatever selfish reasons they have.

14
ajdlinux 1 day ago 1 reply      
As commerce has become more mechanised, we've lost the ability to bargain and haggle in consumer business relationships. Forget about sacrosanct privacy rights, I can't even choose to pay to opt out of a lot of data collection. We need better options than all-or-nothing.
15
hackuser 2 days ago 2 replies      
The marketplace won't sort out the security issues, any more than it sorted out unstable banks. Consumers lack the ability to obtain information, understand the issues, and make good decisions.

Computer systems should be regulated for safety, which includes confidentiality and integrity, like everything else.

16
fiatjaf 1 day ago 2 replies      
> "Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding"

As if that wasn't a problem outside the web. Defenders of democracies like to dream about "transparency and understanding".

17
curiousgeorgio 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's refreshing to read Berners-Lee's proposed solutions as they point toward more technical and market-based approaches rather than the typical "we need more legislation to fix these issues" incantation.

I often hear many of the same people fighting "against government overreach in surveillance laws" (as Berners-Lee mentions) while at the same time advocating more legislation to govern information use/misuse on the web. I don't think it's realistic to expect government overreach to magically work where we want it and stop right where we don't.

Many of these problems aren't on the forefront of most people's minds (yet), but as the issues become more publicized and people begin to understand their importance, then we (as in "the people", not the government) will have a greater voice - and more importantly, power through informed choices - to make a difference.

18
toadkicker 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just wanted to add some positive comments here complaining the state of the web as we know it today vs. the people who are working on the solutions to the problems. There are well defined paradigms for building distributed systems. While much of the web was built in the belief these distributed systems would take root, lots of engineering went into client-server configurations. There are a ton of psychological reasons why these decisions were made. They don't have to keep being made though. We can all embrace distributed applications (some call them serverless applications) and free the web once again. Here's a lot of great projects that are trying to do just that: http://github.com/toadkicker/awesome-ethereum
19
simplehuman 1 day ago 3 replies      
For a start we need to get rid of this ad driven model. But this is not going to happen because people are addicted to free. Its like a drug.
20
Oxitendwe 1 day ago 2 replies      
If Tim Berners-Lee really wanted to save the web, he wouldn't support DRM in our web standards.[1] It's absolutely disgusting as well that they would argue that "fake news" is somehow a threat to the internet, provide no evidence whatsoever to explain why, and then link to a panel run by a media company considered untrustworthy by about half of American voters.[2]

[1] https://www.w3.org/blog/2017/02/on-eme-in-html5/

[2] http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/gene...

21
sauronlord 1 day ago 1 reply      
He is advocating for censorship.

Misinformation spreads everywhere not just the web. Who decides what is "misinformation"?

All speech and information is political, because man is a political creature. Who decides what is "political"?

His first point about losing control of our personal data is right on though.

Even so called "heroes of the web/freedom" are on the "fake news bandwagon".

What the hell have we come to when this is considered enlightening discourse.

We're all in deep shit and this is a taste of things to come this century.

22
nsxwolf 1 day ago 0 replies      
It sounds like he's just trying to put the genie back in the bottle now. First he creates a system that gives everyone total freedom and now he's like, whoah, that's way too much freedom.
23
liopleurodon 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tim Berners-Lee. Thank God, I was worried they had interviewed Al Gore
24
chengiz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Berners-Lee seems to want to stay relevant, I mean he invented the web but does that give credibility to his announcments and concerns and predictions now? I mean we all know how the semantic web turned out.
25
inetknght 2 days ago 2 replies      
Irony: can't view the page with an adblocker.
26
kahrkunne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Publishing this in The Guardian, what beautiful irony
27
perseusprime11 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't Facebook the biggest culprit of web? Their walled garden approach and lack of social network portability is what I feel is killing web more than anything.
28
Tylerosaurus 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought Al Gore invented the internet
29
SomeStupidPoint 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Imagine that Big Brother scenario extended to the millions of smart devices such as digital thermostats and fire alarms feeding the Internet of Things ecosystem, and you have a problem that could eviscerate the privacy of billions of people, say security experts.

Is this anything but opportunistic scare-mongering?

"Spy agency own spy tools. Wouldn't it be scary if they used them on you?!?!?"

22
Problem Solving with Algorithms and Data Structures using Python (2015) interactivepython.org
436 points by sonabinu  1 day ago   32 comments top 13
1
gspetr 22 hours ago 1 reply      
If you enjoyed this, I highly recommend also giving this a try: https://github.com/donnemartin/interactive-coding-challenges

It's in the same spirit, has some things covered in even more detail and it even has tests you can run on your solutions to verify correctness and instantly receive feedback.

2
riknos314 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm one of the students of Brad Miller, creator of this platform, and worked on developing it for a summer. Feel free to ask questions!
3
mattfrommars 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm about to complete Introduction to Computer Science with Python on Edx {about to begins it's Algorithm lecture week}, should I begin reading this book after it or should I dive into other things?

Does the book constitute of "Data Structures I & II" and "Algorithms I & II"?

I have degree in non computer science field and want to become a software developer.

4
riknos314 1 day ago 3 replies      
Also, Interactive python is open source! If you like it, help make it better!

https://github.com/RunestoneInteractive

5
git-pull 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's more than a book.

If you click into a section, you can run the python code and get the output.

6
Avaclon 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone know what version of Python is this in? It's hard to tell since it's not mentioned in the book. Try doing import sys on the example frames doesn't work either. Trying to see if it aligns with the version some of us use at work.
7
sothym 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm currently studying python so this is going to come in handy, awesome.
8
knob_07 1 day ago 0 replies      
We used this for an introductory programming course in university. Very informative.
9
TheHeadMaster 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have used this. To prepare for my interviews and it definitely helped. Kudos.
10
JMBarrett 18 hours ago 0 replies      
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nurettin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a java version of this?
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sunilkumarc 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Github version of this would be awesome! To fork this and keep. Is it available?
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throwaway_374 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I really appreciated this resource for learning Python for interviewing.

My only criticism is in some cases particularly with the more advanced structures (graphs, trees) it approaches the matter as a literal translation of "data structures with python", as opposed to "pythonic data structures". A lazy example is probably Linked Lists which don't really serve any purpose in Python. Presumably that was the intention?

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A comment left on Slashdot chaosinmotion.com
407 points by panic  1 day ago   274 comments top 47
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pleasecalllater 20 hours ago 16 replies      
The funny problem is that when I was 32 I heard from one recruiter "Oh, so you are still a programmer? I'm sorry, we cannot offer you sending your cv to our client. You see, we have hundreds of cvs from people of your age, and all are managers, so if you are not, then there is something wrong with you".

Yea, 32 years old programmer is just too old, 32 years old surgeon is usually too young to work alone.

I keep on learning, I have accumulated lots of knowledge working in different areas of programming like system administration, database administration, programming etc. I have been payed to program using over a dozen of programming languages... At interviews I still hear "oh, you know, I'd love to have experience like yours"...

And I still hear "you are too old". What's more funny - people are not embarrassed saying that. Even though that's illegal where I live. Writing "we want to hire a woman/man only" is also illegal, but people still write that, and no one reacts.

I'm afraid I will be totally unemployable in a couple of years, just after my 40, which will come too soon. And I don't want to get into management only position (which is also hard, as I cannot get a management job "because you haven't worked on such a position, and you are too old to start that".

That's hilarious, but on the other hand that explains a couple of things like a-brand-new-hyped-technology, which is just a rewrite of what we had 20 years ago.

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noonespecial 22 hours ago 3 replies      
The problem is that the management can't tell who's any good. They see "the guru" struggle for several months on a "very difficult project" and then finally come through (with an added bonus that only the guru can understand the system afterwards so it MUST be very complicated) and just assume that he's been walking on water. He's young and went to a very good school... But then you find out it's a simple inventory control merging with the UPS API to ship widgets.

They took that old saw about only the grandkids being able to make the VCR stop blinking 12 and applied it to the entire frikkin world and they are unable to tell that it isn't even remotely true.

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kemiller2002 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm almost 40, and I don't let articles like this scare me. Everyone has this fear they are going to be rejected for some reason or another. It's just another idea that you can obsess over at night wondering if you are going to be able to continue living the life you want.

Is this article true? Yes, partially. There will be companies and people out there who won't hire older programmers, and this is true for almost every other profession as well. 15 years ago there was the scare about offshoring all our jobs too. We were constantly told that the people in India were smarter, worked harder, and had cheaper salaries. They said we were lucky to keep our jobs. Is this true, yeah partially, but anyone who as any good found another job at a better company. Are the people in India hard workers and smart? Yeah there are a lot of them that are. I've worked with a lot of people from India, and many of them are great people. They are smart, passionate about what they do, and nice. Heck there is a woman from India sitting 10 feet from me who is brilliant, and a hard worker. Am I afraid of this? No. Sure there are companies that will pick her over me strictly because she is younger, but I don't want to work there anyway. A lot of times companies making decisions like that are the ones that are in real trouble and do it, because they know that older and more experience people won't stay long. You can keep those companies. I've already lived through that. Getting rejected by a company doesn't bother me, especially for a silly reason like that. I'll see where they are in a year, and I'll most likely get the last laugh.

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hackuser 22 hours ago 6 replies      
The marketplace always seems to fail in situations like this one. There are always groups that are discriminated against, based on race, gender, age, etc. Therefore a business seeking talent should view those excluded groups as a goldmine of available talent.

For example, imagine if most baseball teams started excluding non-white athletes again. If I owned a team, I'd immediately start hiring those athletes; I'd have by far the best team in baseball in short order (EDIT: To be clear, I'd have the best team because I'd have the market cornered on a large portion of the talent; it wouldn't be because of some imagined (and false) racial differences in performance.)

But in business (and in sports) it never works out that way. Certainly some executives have discriminatory attitudes, but that doesn't account for all. Certainly some will give into and/or are more exposed to social pressures, but not all. With the very high demand for talent, why aren't there businesses snapping up the older developers?

(There also is another problem: Excluded groups tend to avoid that marketplace. They are discouraged by their parents, teachers and peers, and they may not want to have to deal with discrimination every day for their whole careers. But that shouldn't apply as much to middle-aged developers; that labor supply is already in the pipeline.)

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notacoward 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Point 1: I see a lot of highly-upvoted comments blaming management for why engineers are messed up. Hardly surprising for such a venue, I guess. If we're going to blame management, though, perhaps we should look at why the managers themselves are messed up. Personally I think it might have something to do with the conceit that management is the uber-skill, so important in itself that a couple of years (at most) of generic training in management qualifies a person to manage any activity effectively even without a shred of domain knowledge. Pfeh.

Point 2: maybe not all of the blame lies with management, and the most important exercise for a crowd of technical people involves introspection instead of blaming others. We get enough of that in politics; we don't need a bunch of little techie-Trumps playing the same tune. Some of the blame belongs with the engineers themselves, who hoodwink naive managers or exert peer pressure to create a culture of deliberate ignorance. When "disruption" is one of the most popular words within an industry, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that even one's thoroughly disrupted predecessors knew a thing or two worth learning. Good software engineering is a lot like recycling - instead of incinerating all "legacy" code just because it's legacy, find the parts (ideas) that can be used as part of something new. New solutions to old problems can be found without having to reintroduce the old problems in new code.

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arca_vorago 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Honestly I think its just economic decisions by short sighted management disguised to others as a social issue.

Not to discredit the real ageism that exists, but far more often I think its the fact that older, saltier people are going to demand a higher wage, more work life balance, and see through bullshit easier. All of those things are negatives for a middle manager trying to fill a role. That's right, they become more focused on the task of filling a role than about solving the companies issues.

I'd wager that if you got old farts to agree to the same bullshit terms pushed on younger people because they missed Legal Contracts 101, the gap would shrink.

What's funny to me is that a contractor I was the dude picking up the pieces after the technical debt inevitably bit them in the ass, so in the long run companies that make decisions like that end up paying more for them.

I actually gave up my share of my first startup because it was built on exploiting this fact, and I felt a proper counciling of the customer would include something along the lines of "we are more expensive than a full time person, but do less than a tenth of the work of one since we split our time between many clients, therefore we should be a temporary stopgap and a continuing advisory position", which obviously didn't go well for an msp style it support company.

I'm increasingly convinced the business world is full of short sighted incompetence.

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pnathan 22 hours ago 1 reply      
A solid solution is to have a professional union/association with a meaningful exam for entrance, meaningful certifications for specialties, and the mandate to avoid committing professional malpractice (strike/walkout enforced). The ACM could do that, but has chosen not to: the IEEE's attempt is sort of a joke.

Having spent the last 3 months totally involved in the US medical field regarding a family member's life-critical condition, I can say with confidence: the professional credential/certification process works really well when built well, and software engineers with an interest in seeing our field should strongly consider the medical community as a working example - remember - "rough consensus and running code".

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afpx 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I certainly can relate to everything that the author expresses. However, I'm also quite certain that this is not exclusive to the software engineering disciplines. Somewhere around 2004 or so, I began seeing many US companies (including many large ones) abandoning analysis and planning and lots of other proven PMBOK type activities in favor of more reactionary methods.

When I talk to many people under 35, across fields, they often complain about workplace disorder, mismanagement, and lack of planning. They also complain of an overload of work and of working too many hours. I don't think this is a coincidence.

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jessaustin 23 hours ago 3 replies      
In other industries, the the wisdom of experienced workers is the only thing that keeps capital from completely fucking over labor. Why don't experienced workers play the same role here? When I read stuff like this by experienced workers, I sometimes hope to see that question answered...
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thriftwy 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Being a Software Developer, a "socially invulnerable" person, I won't be bothered by people saying something as misguided as "all your experience is obsolete". I'll have a good laugh.

I think some of us take themselves a bit too much seriously. As a programmer, you have not just First World, but actually Zeroth World problems. In the world of struggle we are having a guilt-free easy ride.

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ahallock 12 hours ago 1 reply      
> (Ive met programmers with years of experience who couldnt write code to maintain a linked list.

FFS, our industry is huge and there are many problem domains and many specialized areas of expertise, most of which don't require you to write linked lists. It's like expecting someone who's building windshield wipers for a car to also know how build an alternator (this analogy may not be great, but you get the idea).

I'm sure if someone spent half an hour brushing up on linked lists, they could easily create one. If you don't do something a lot, you forget. You get rusty. Why is this so hard to understand? This is true in any discipline.

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jurassic 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe the trends the author has pointed out are not just the failings of the tech industry but are part of a larger cultural backlash against expertise.

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2017-0...

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OliverJones 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Some say this youth-culture obsession is a US workplace problem. That may be true.

To my way of thinking it's a Sili Valley workplace culture problem. Sili Valley is a high-rent district, and doesn't favor people who need more than minimal housing, unless they've already made it big.

Also, Sili Valley is all about the new new things. It will be interesting to see what happens to the present crop of Sili Valley giants in 20 years. What happens when Page, Brin, and Zuckerberg turn 55? What happens when the rapid growth of their companies slows?

Maybe they retire and start concerning themselves with scenic easements and other perqs of the hyper-rich. Or maybe they try to keep reinventing themselves and the companies.

They may make the same mistake Digital Equipment made: responding to a slowdown with a hiring freeze. Once a hiring freeze is imposed, a company loses access to new people and the ideas they bring. The median age increases by one year for every calendar year that goes by. There's nothing wrong with older folks, but not all of us can be managers.

They may make the mistake MSFT made in the first few post-Gates years, and that AAPL is in danger of making now: laurel-resting and inward-turning.

One of the problems of measuring age distribution is this: Averages don't mean anything. Many effective orgs have lots and lots of fresh young faces and a dramatically tapering age pyramid. Military services are a case in point: Sure, the median age is 22. That's because they have vast numbers of 19 year olds. But they also have lots of 30 year old captains, 35 year old majors, and even older colonels and generals.

I'm a developer who started on Hollerith 80-column punch cards. I'm still doing good work. Others can too. But not in Sili Valley: we have too much sense to jump on the latest js framework.

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gumby 22 hours ago 1 reply      
(side point: in my new company we did a SWOT analysis and one strength was "old farts" -- we've already made tons of mistakes and have learned a lot.)

I didn't see the original slashdot discussion so didn't have context, but IMHO the phenomenon described is more that programming in the USA and Europe has become a blue collar job, as it has been in Japan for decades. I think this is great -- the tools have become strong enough that someone with limited (but nonzero) training can produce solid apprentice and journeyman work. (masters, well, I know I will never be even close to some of the master machinists I've been lucky to work with; they can't craft code like I do).

The fact is you don't need a programmer to throw together a viable web site. Isn't that great!?

Innovation is still coming out of computer science and trickling down into the real world. And highly experienced programmers are also contributing cool stuff. But as programming has opened up as a discipline to a significantly larger pool of people, is it any wonder the density of new ideas per capita would go down?

(oh, and CS has always scorned reading the literature, to its detriment).

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hergin 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I believe much of the problem mentioned in the article is about us not being software engineers but only programmers/coders. If we, as an industry, would have adopted engineering discipline instead of producing systems in light speed by just coding, what we are talking now would be different things.
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yAnonymous 18 hours ago 1 reply      
The author is quite arrogant himself. What's wrong with looking up solutions for complex problems on StackOverflow? It saves a lot of time and in most cases will end up better than what you come up with on your own, because it has been tested and improved by hundreds of users. And if you manage to find an improvement, share it to make the code better.

Reinventing the wheel every time is stupid and it really seems more like he's the one not able to adapt. When I can do the same things faster and better than you, because I make use of available resources, then I'll be the better choice for most employers, regardless of the age.

Experience is good, but constantly learning and adapting is even more important in this industry and he seems to think he doesn't need to do that.

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ot 21 hours ago 0 replies      
In case anyone else is wondering, this is the original Slashdot discussion: https://ask.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=10352645&cid=540224...

I don't think it was linked in the post.

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cjCamel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I've always wondered whether the descriptor young startup /young company etc. in a job post is put in to warn off older (>30) people from applying.

Which can be depressing when you search http://stackoverflow.com/jobs/ for the word "young".

Interestingly, companies don't tend to describe themselves as "male startup", or "white startup"...

tl;dr Language matters.

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11thEarlOfMar 22 hours ago 1 reply      
One factor that I think plays into this dialog is that we learn quite a bit over time without realizing it. As I grow older, I sometimes find myself thinking, "I know this, but I know I didn't intentionally learn it."

What I realize is that I know it because of life experience and there is no way I could have learned it (or maybe it's a realization, not a learning) without having lived through all those winters.

The impact of this is that as we gain experience, we can be more deliberate and selective about where we focus our talents and energy, entering into fewer endeavors, but have a higher success rate per endeavor.

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ternaryoperator 20 hours ago 0 replies      
One of his points is key and seemingly goes unmentioned in these comments. The total disregard for software engineering (the field of study, that is) by developers. Even the very basics of software engineering are unknown, and if mentioned, frequently discarded if they don't fit with the zeigeist.
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mgrennan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
How we got here: Tech bobble gold rush, big tech (google/s) takes best talent, investors only want good enough (build to a price), young bro-grammers fill need, flood of millennials (like the Chinese army) take over IT. Now we are moving as fast as we can, in the cheapest vehicle we can build, caring other people's property.Some of this is good. (SpaceX?) Some is pandering gossip (Facebook?) Some are rubber dog turds. (Ha.. sh-- sells)The pendulum swings: Mainframes connected to dumb terminals sending CICS to real time computing (PCs) to AWS connect to browsers sending HTML/CSS. So the bro-grammers think they are inventing something new. Wisdom is learning from other's mistakes. Developers today think of anything older then 5 years as obsolete. They are excited by what they think is NEW but really they are just naive. Time is the flame in which or lives burn. If only more would take a moment and seek wisdom their products and lives would be enriched.

I've been IT for 40+ years. Still working. Still seeing the same mistakes made over and over again. I have a few young people I mentor and I've seen them move way above their co-workers.

So here is some words of wisdom if your new in IT. Find a co-worker over 50 and ask for advise.

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busterarm 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I seriously considered getting an IEEE membership for a long time, but decided after several long conversations with people in the field who had one that it was not worth it.
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austinz 21 hours ago 0 replies      
For someone who laments the failure of modern programmers to learn from the work of the past, the author seems to completely ignore the contributions of ML, ML-style type systems, and related languages to the profession of software engineering. Perhaps this explains the snide (and, frankly, uninformed) dismissal of Swift as a hype-ridden "subset of Lisp".

Aside from that, I agree with the author's points.

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woodandsteel 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems to me the solution for this is for the older-than-young programmers to get together and start companies that produce better software.
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fujipadam 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This perception causes discrimination which is illegal (if you can prove it)

This is why there are a host of lawsuits for ageism and a bunch of job portal like https://www.giantsforhire.com/ or https://oldgeekjobs.com/ poping up

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smsm42 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it really true anymore that '30 is considered old'? I've worked with many people that are 30+ in the industry, and working with many right now, and I don't see any tendency to regard them as "old". Maybe it's my own bubble or more localized phenomenon, but I don't think it's true anymore.
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blauditore 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I keep on reading about ageism in this industry, but haven't observed it myself. Yes, devs are over-proportionally young in the companies I've seen, but from my (limited) insight into recruiting, this roughly reflects applications. Also, it's not that most of the devs in the companies I've been are just fresh out of university; about half of them are 30+ years old. My impression has always been that this just reflects the growth of the industry and related increase in graduates.

Quite possibly, this "young, dynamic, better" culture is more prevalent in startup-heavy areas like the US or eastern Europe, as opposed to western Europe where I live.

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falsedan 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> when they run into an interesting problem tend to search Github or Stack Overflow, even when it is a basic algorithm problem (Ive met programmers with years of experience who couldnt write code to maintain a linked list)

This comment feels incongruous with the rest of the article: why wouldn't I refer to a standard implementation rather than trying to solve it on my own? Isn't that a commendable case of not ignoring the 'old junk'?

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ViViDboarder 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sure there's some kind of problem here... But from a person trying to hire a more experienced engineer, I can tell you getting someone in the door is hard.

I've had an open spot for someone with 5+ years of experience for nearly 6 months. I've done maybe a dozen interviews and made two offers. Still unfilled. At this point I really need more people and may have to start looking for new grads instead.

I don't doubt that there are experienced engineers unable to find jobs, but I wonder if there are other regional factors at play. I'm in San Francisco, so it's possible (probable even) that more established companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel, etc. are recruiting for the same people.

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gwbas1c 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Our industry needs to require certification.

Doctors have to go through a pretty rigorous certification process that is independent from medical school and career work.

We need a similar certification process that requires that we know a lot of the things we need to know; and breaks the misconception that the industry is always changing.

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mr_overalls 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Are sysadmins, network/data engineers, or other back-end techs subject to the same age discrimination as programmers?

As an aging jack-of-all-trades, I've been wondering if I should refocus more on back-end skills (and skills lower down the software stack) and start transitioning away from app development - especially web development.

I'm also wondering if Woody's observations of ageism mostly apply to 1) Silicon valley, 2) startup companies, and 3) web development.

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josephagoss 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Also remember that of all of the professional industries, ours is young and still maturing.

I believe that being an old programmer will become accepted in time. I believe that posts like these help to bring this issue to the forefront and it's good that it's being discussed.

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monkmonk 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Except most of the design patterns you're caught on are wrong too. Programming just keeps getting more nuanced, making it harder for new people to learn about what is considered "the right way!"
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wsy 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Anybody who read "Disrupted" by Dan Lyons knows that not only software engineers suffer from this ignorance. It is amazing that nowadays startup companies can become successful even if the ignorance level of their employees is quite high.
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js8 18 hours ago 1 reply      
If you enjoyed the OP, especially the comments about how unscientific SWE is, I think you will enjoy anything from Greg Wilson, such as:

https://vimeo.com/9270320

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtKO619O5g0

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mathattack 16 hours ago 0 replies      
For better or worse I only had a couple years to be a heads down programmer. After management hit, programming became more of a hobby. Some of the gray beards really just repeat 1 year of experience over and over, but many are worth their weight in gold.
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sikhnerd 23 hours ago 0 replies      
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lkrubner 22 hours ago 1 reply      
About this:

"Im not bitter; I just believe weve fallen into a bunch of bad habits in our industry which need a good recession and some creative destruction to weed out what is limping along."

A recession might actually make things even worse. At least part of the problem in the industry is the growing power of monopoly. Firms are increasingly protected from competition, and therefore bad habits can thrive because the bad habits are not enough to bring down the firm. That is, there isn't enough competition for the firm to be hurt by its own bad habits. And this lack of competition goes back to the declining rate of new company formation:

http://www.governing.com/topics/mgmt/gov-businesses-economic...

Also, see this chart:

http://www.smashcompany.com/business/the-decline-of-usa-inve...

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peterwwillis 22 hours ago 1 reply      
We don't really have a great required body of knowledge or mandatory licensing for people to work in the field. The whole industry is still in the Middle Ages in terms of how we choose people to build things.
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danso 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Programming, and computer science, is inherently about information. And because information as it relates to the young is so valuable (think about how TV shows value the 18 to 35 demographic is), it's not surprising that leaders in the work of programming can skew young.

The example of Facebook immediately comes to mind. I'm sure everyone has read articles about "TheFacebook" on the Harvard Crimson's website for a good chuckle. But reading those 2004 articles give insight to how Mark Zuckerberg succeeded despite not being a better programmer or computer science thinker than others (including faculty) at Harvard. He was not only competing with an already dominant MySpace, but Harvard computing services:

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2004/2/9/hundreds-register...

> Im pretty happy with the amount of people that have been to it so far, [Zuckerberg] said. The nature of the site is that each users experience improves if they can get their friends to join it.

> But Director of Residential Computing Kevin S. Davis 98 said that the creation of a Harvard facebook was not as far off as Zuckerberg predicted.

> There is a project internally with computer services to create a facebook, Davis said. Weve been in touch with the Undergraduate Council, and this is a very high priority for the College. We have every intention of completing the facebook by the end of the spring semester.

Doesn't seem like that Harvard-built-and-funded Facebook got very far. I'm also struck by how mundane the work of Facebook sounded (including the low salary), as described in this old article, when you compare it to, say, Clinkle:

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2004/3/1/facebook-expands-...

> In order to expand, Moskovitz and Zuckerberg had to write computer programs that would parse the course catalogs and student newspapers of the additional schools. Following Columbia, Stanford and Yale, which Zuckerberg said took about three hours each to set up, he hopes to open the site up to Boston-area schools like Boston University and MIT.

As I get older, yes, I start to appreciate the foundational concepts as the OP does. But I think that programming's seemingly youth-centered churn of knowledge is not unrelated to how personal and malleable -- i.e. how varied the goal of programming is, because of how programming is so directly related to the work of how humans consume and disseminate knowledge.

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Shivetya 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Well there are many programming opportunities out there for people of all age. You just need to broaden your horizons if not your choices of languages, tools, and even platforms.

at fifty plus the only thing I note with difficulty in moving to a new job is that it is harder to change. learning something new, language, etc, isn't that difficult but I do have to fit in. It is the idea of changing environments that I do not care for.

Many people I know in the placement of developers look not only as skills but how long you have been where you are, because apparently I am not alone in being reluctant to leave even if I say I am willing

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vacri 21 hours ago 0 replies      
> The problem is that our industry, unlike every other single industry except acting and modeling (and note neither are known for intelligence) worship at the altar of youth

Popular music, athletics, professional team sports, combat sports, hospitality, beauticians, the military (a big one, that one), until recently airline hostesses... there's tons of them.

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partycoder 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Until the early 90s you couldn't push updates for released software as easily as today, so software had to be launched with a high standard of quality.

Then, after the Internet became more ubiquitous the industry started pushing towards "minimum viable products" that get fixed over time, but can still make revenue. Usually keeping the product low profile with low to no marketing.

But after a couple of years, the agile enthusiasts took over and decided that everything should add "customer value", and everything else should be neglected. The Scrum proponents were also very inclusive, inviting non-technical people to become certified... and that's when things went south and the beginning of the low quality doctrine started.

As digital distribution starts becoming more popular, business people no longer wanted to keep a low profile launching a minimum viable product. Now they want to launch their prototype with full marketing and user acquisition.

Post-launch, software gets bloated with additional features nobody requires, rather than finally fixing long-standing bugs. In addition, developers get the blame for defects and if they want a solution they have to fix them on their own time.

Any non-engineer can become certified in Scrum, and that has had an impact in the way Scrum has been implemented. Suddenly, a certification involving 16 hours of training to pass a 35 question exam with 68% passing score is more important than an engineering degree. Then, the vast majority of people who criticize non-Scrum methodologies has not actually been curious enough to try them and form their own opinion. It is the herbalife of software.

A Scrum certification without a software engineering degree should not lead to a managerial position in software. You can hire the best engineers, but with mediocre leadership results will be mediocre.

It is time to acknowledge Scrum has been hijacked by greed and has produced a huge software quality crisis.

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unsayable 22 hours ago 8 replies      
Throwaway account here... but I think the real reason for this is because I've noticed two distinct types of developers:

1) Hackers that grew up with technology that are typically very proficient and employable before entering university or having much work experience.

2) People who went to CS school in order to get a job as a developer because the pay is pretty decent and they were always kind of good with computers.

I'd much prefer to work with people that grew up as hackers than people who learned later in life. It's a cultural thing more than an age thing, but I feel like it's very hard to see the big picture if you weren't indoctrinated into it on IRC or forums when you were a teen. I'd imagine it's sort of like growing up on a farm vs going to agriculture school.

Because of this, it's very hard to tell as people get older which camp they came from. If someone is young and knows a ton, it's clear that they grew up in hacker culture and likely have a breadth of knowledge. If someone studied hard for years and never was part of the culture, IMO they will be harder to work with and not have as much general knowledge.

As a bonus, if you grew up in the culture and you're applying for an entry level job, you probably already have a decade of hacking under your belt, and that's work experience that's totally unaccounted for on a resume.

The result of this is that if you see someone young and surprisingly knowledgeable in many computer related areas, they probably grew up steeped in hacker culture and have tons more useful general knowledge than someone without that extra decade of experience.

BTW, I'm not advocating for age discrimination, but it may actually be more of undocumented experience discrimination than age discrimination.

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pweissbrod 13 hours ago 0 replies      
So the author left a comment on slashdot and received an ignorant knee-jerk response from someone with an inflated sense of superiority.

That's not reflective of the industry! Thats the slashdot community and you should expect such treatment. There are several sites like this and unless you have a pension for online flame wars its pretty much a waste of time to read :(

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bluejekyll 20 hours ago 2 replies      
"... back then we saw support staff (such as QA and QAE and tech writers) who worked alongside software developers;"

I've personally been working in the industry for 20 years, full time for 17. I Can't believe I just read someone asking for QA/QAE/QE. Modern dev shops should be relying on automation for test coverage, and the developers of the code should be the ones writing the tests for their code. There is a place for QE, those are Software Engineers focused on tooling around the automation for tests and such.

Relying on QE is an antiquated relic of the bad, very bad, Waterfall days. In those days release cycles were long because shipping software meant that there were releases timed to marketing and cyclical sales. Now software is shipped online. the role of QE has changed to not take crappy code a Dev wrote and validate it, but to be the one responsible for making sure Dev's are actually testing their code and that the code is being measured for quality.

The easiest way to make this obvious, go write some code, say a few files worth, and then try to add tests to it later. You need to go back and refactor, in some cases significantly, to make the code testable. Code needs to be written from the beginning as testable. I always felt bad for QA/QE folk, because they would just get handed crap and be expected to do something with it. This is no longer cool.

(btw Documentation is also a requirement for all code and should be done earlier, not later. Use your own software and try and figure out how others will use it, and document that. Tech Writers should be dealing with well understood systems...)

24
Ask HN: How do I start my own consulting firm?
463 points by cosmorocket  2 days ago   107 comments top 55
1
WhitneyLand 2 days ago 5 replies      
Here are some things to consider about consulting:

Sales/Selling is the last thing on your list and salesperson is only a maybe. Reverse all of your priorities because selling and relationships are the most difficult things to master for a consulting company and you will die without those skills.

In consulting, tech talent < sales/relationship talent. In fact, if you're great at the latter go ahead and get started now because there are lots of great tech people who don't want to do it and will come work for you on a nice contract rate.

To give you an example of this I once worked with a consultant who was a technical rock star, and another consultant who was supposed to be technical but was actually pretty below average. The below average guy was more successful because he was great when talking with the customers and they loved him. He knew enough to talk through problems at a high level, explained things well, and made them feel comfortable that things we're on the right track. If he didn't know something, no problem, he just went and found someone with the answer.

Besides those soft skills he knew how to set and manage expectations. You may be used to the best results winning, but if you don't manage and then exceed expectations it doesn't matter. People love you when they expect 80 out of 100 and you deliver 88. They will not be happy and often fire you if expecting 100 out of 100 and you deliver 92. You will wonder how you just lost to a competitor who is not "as good" as you.

Even if you have pretty good soft skills, do you want to spend time constantly using them? I thought you liked the tech side? If you like both then great because someone has to spends tons of time doing it to sell, maintain, and expand the work and your success depends on how good they are at it.

For many people this will all be hard to believe, or they think it's exaggerated, or that it's easy to just hire someone to do it. That's fine, I hope you have great success. Drop me a line in a couple years to say how things turned out.

2
PeterisP 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'd rather go entirely opposite.

1. Get clients and start working for them. If you don't have more than one clear customer who already wants you, you're not ready for anything further in this list.

2. Incorporate and handle the core legal and financial stuff (only when #1 is solidly working!)

3. Setup the business processes and workflow;

4. Start aggressively looking for more projects - not online, though. The projects available there are not the projects you want.

5. "Prepare the basement in form of a site with portfolio, our focus, expertise and articles." - this is fluff that can wait, it's a bit useful for marketing but not strictly necessary. You won't get clients from cold sales or random advertising anyway, you'll get them by personal contacts and word of mouth where this won't matter much; and if you won't get clients from personal contacts and word of mouth, then you'll fail anyway and this won't help you. The connections and reputation to get offline clients is your primary competency as a consulting team, so work hard on that. The technical skills of your team are important but clearly in the second place, they're necessary but not sufficient for success; there's a good reason why successful consulting businesses usually are started only after a decade or two in the industry as that's one of the few ways how a new company can get the required reputation to get started on decent contracts.

6. Hire a salesperson to look for projects when your existing projects can cover multiple full-time developers, i.e. when your business is working and you've decided that you want to scale to a larger volume. Before that, you'll have to do the sales yourself, as your own personal reputation and expertise will be the main reason why others hire your company; you'll have to convince customers that you/your company has expert skills and that you can do things that they can't do in-house and a salesperson can't really do that until you have a solid reputation and lots of prior clients.

3
chrisrohlf 2 days ago 2 replies      
I built and sold (acquihired) a small successful security consultancy from 2011-2014. My experience is seen through the lens of security consulting. I should really write all this down in a longer form but heres the important take aways in my experience and my answer to some of the questions listed.

1) Your tech skills matter less than you think they do. Customers want good work of course but they also need a reliable partner who will answer the phone and provide guidance beyond just handing over code or a report. Be professional above all else.

2) Don't fool yourself that you're only consulting while you build a product. Its two entirely separate types of businesses. If you try to do both you run the risk of doing them both poorly.

3) Figure out your growth plan before even thinking about a sales person. You probably wont need one for awhile.

4) Yes you want mentors, preferably people who have built something similar to what you're trying to build now. Even better if they failed at it.

5) Don't rush into subcontracting. You will lock yourself out of big contracts that way. Large companies want a varied list of vendors to choose from. Only do this when it makes strategic sense for your longer term plans.

A small consultancy is a great lifestyle business. Be realistic about your goals for it. Scaling up a consultancy is mostly limited by how many experts you can hire. And if you do your job right its only a matter of time before your best people start their own thing.

4
philiphodgen 2 days ago 1 reply      
Might I suggest Step 0?

0.1 Start marketing. Something as prosaic as a blog, if necessary. Demonstrate your capability. (Capability does not mean technical skill. It means your empathy with another human to understand his/her pain, and show him/her that you care. You demonstrate caring by talking simply and clearly. If someone understands you, they feel good about themselves. If you are talking simply and clearly, that means you have taken the time to really give a shit about the other person).

0.2 Get a customer. For really really cheap if necessary. Train people to give you a small amount of money in return for some help.

. . . onward and upward.

I personally would not take on a partner and employees for a while. I can tell you from personal experience that it is a profound psychic burden to be responsible for other people eating and paying the rent. In addition, the HR component of having employees is pure, unadulterated shit swimming in a pool of pee. It's as if our government wants to discourage employment. California (where I am) is the worst.

5
Murkin 2 days ago 1 reply      
- Short intro:

Spent 2 years as freelance and 4.5 years building a 20 people consulting company (1). During this time met dozens of CEOs of various size consulting companies to share knowledge and learn.

- The why:

Think hard and long before you get into this field.

1. Turning into a product company statistically never happens.

2. You will become profitable only after a year+ (most consulting companies get stuck at 3-6 people and are NOT profitable). Profitable = you earn more than working full time for someone else.

3. With each year you will spend more time managing and less developing.

4. Its not like a startup - but you will have highs, lows, worries and sleepless nights.

5. Its all about building a name - takes years.

6. If you want to build your own product, stop reading here and don't even start with consulting.

7. Location matters - you didn't mention yours.

6
umarniz 2 days ago 0 replies      
4 years of consulting experience here with a similar situation to yours.

Step 5 is elusive and almost impossible. Lost 2 products to the services mindset with further strain by partners to bring in capital by doing services. The chicken-egg issue becomes much harder when you are working hand to mouth.

The problem roots from 2 main things, services/consultation mindset and in-consistent projects.

The people who outsource or consult other teams to build their solutions start with a bidding process which inherently means that the cheaper and faster the better. This sole focus on cheap/fast is fun at the start as you become creative to work with tight deadlines and I atleast started doing more automation than ever before but can be useless considering how varying the projects are in nature and how the clients sole motivation is to be cheap & fast. This results in repetitive unchallenging work which is highly demotivating.

Inconsistent Projects. Our first year we landed a huge chain of projects from a massive global brand giving us enough capital to last a couple of years. But with clients there is no guarantee, we couldn't display most projects we did in the first 2 years cause their launches were delayed and NDAs were signed which means nothing to show as portfolio of big names. Finally when we could, most of our project contacts were going dry meaning more inconsistency.

For your question of sales, we had business developers who would get commission for each project who would spam companies to get us in the door. Mainly marketing agencies or contractors who would sub-contract us projects. The only reason we could get a lot of projects was because one of our business dev was an industry veteran wanting to do exactly what we were doing and we worked together though giving up high margins.

If your end goal is to build products, i would recommend go straight with a product. Find something you love to build, take out weekends for it with your team and try to get it into an accelerator for more advice/exposure.

7
tptacek 2 days ago 3 replies      
Did this before (Matasano). Doing it now (Latacora). Answers:

- The two most important words in your business plan are "segmentation" and "qualification". While being open to lots of different kinds of projects, try to pick 1 or 2 kinds of projects that you can standardize and package. It's easier to succeed selling a couple things well than it is to succeed selling everything just adequately.

- Pick a kind of customer you want to work with. Aim on the higher-end side. Build collateral that will appeal to those customers: case studies, how-tos, industry news bulletins, open source packages. Find places to meet those kinds of customers and introduce yourself to them. You'll get wildly different answers on how well cold-calling and cold emails work (nobody will disagree that LinkedIn private messages do not work). My take is: if you're good at cold calling, cold call; otherwise, don't bother.

- Which you prioritize depends on where you are, but I'd prioritize content and collateral that you can use either locally or online. Again: build packaging around just a few offerings, and try to make that packaging unique. It should feel producty, and the way in which you turn your team into a product should communicate something interesting about your worldview.

- I don't think you should sell yourselves an available subcontractor. For the subs, good sub relationships are bought, not sold: if you advertise yourself as being willing to sub, you're communicating something about your willingness to get rolled. Your best sub relationships will come from bumping into people at shared large clients.

- No, don't have mentors or coaches, at least in a formal way.

- No, do not hire a salesperson. The world of employed account managers is divided into good salespeople, who can work anywhere they want to and don't want to work for your small consulting firm, and bad salespeople whose real talent is selling people like you on getting paid a salary without helping the business. It's incredibly hard to hire and manage a sales team and most consulting shops --- let alone the young ones --- don't have sales teams. The ones that do tend to have been founded in part by a salesperson. Since that's not you, good news: you're many years away from having to worry about this. Act like salespeople don't exist.

Bonus advice:

- Bill weekly, or at worst daily. Never bill hourly.

- Raise your rates.

8
kleinsch 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been freelancing for years, spent some time working with a guy that used to run a design consulting firm. I was thinking about starting a dev consulting firm, and his suggestions on how to find project were:

Identify complementing firms, see about partnering with them to do the stuff they don't do. Partner with a design firm to do the dev part of their gigs. Partner with a marketing firm to do dev work on App campaigns. Etc.

Identify much larger competing firms, see if they can toss you the projects that are too small for them. If you're a 20M/year big consulting firm, a $15K project might not be worth the hassle, so if you know the people that review the projects, they can refer people to you when they turn them down.

9
somecallitblues 2 days ago 0 replies      
From my own experience: do not build a product until you find someone to pay for it. Unless you are really cashed up but even then you need a customer to drive it.

Take everything you can at the beginning and occasionally charge in beer for small things that took 20 minutes. Some of my biggest jobs came from some of those customers.

If you get along well with your colleague then partner up. You'll help each other out when going gets hard.

Don't be afraid to make drastic changes, like abandoning a product that doesn't sell.

Creative agencies without inhouse devs are your bread and butter until you get that recurring revenue from your products.

Expect to productize the most random stuff you would never think off.

Excel is your biggest competitor.

Go for it! Good luck!

10
alberth 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wait, you need to understand your risks. Consulting services has some extremely difficulty challenges unlike most businesses.

1. Cash flow / making payroll will be a constant issue.

Even when you win a gig, you won't be paid for 45-60 until after you start. And that will be trailing your work. Do you have enough cash reserves to float 2 months salary.

Now think about when you grow your team and now you have 10 employees, do you have enough cash reserves to pay 10 employees for 2 months until you receive your first installment check?

2. Sales cycles can be long and costly

Keep in mind you won't win all sales cycles. And sales cycles might take 6-12 months to win. During that time you'll probably have to fly to the customer, pay for travel,etc.

No of this pre-sales expenses are reimbursable. It's just a cost of business. Do you have enough cash reserves.

3. What to do when you don't have billable work?

For ever day you don't have billable work, you still have to pay your staff. Do you have enough cash reserves to pay your staff for months on end without billable work?

TLDR; consulting requires huge cash reverses. Also keep in mind it's hard to get credit lines in consulting businesses because you don't have inventory assets.

11
nodesocket 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just founded Elastic Byte (shameless plug https://elasticbyte.net) which is a DevOps-as-a-service and infrastructure consulting startup.

The biggest challenge in starting a consulting business is indeed building relationships and selling. It is very different than running my other company a traditional web SaaS. I'm spending lots of time in CRM (managing inbound leads), communication with leads, and setting up phone calls and Google Hangouts. It is absolutely critical though that YOU do these tasks to start. Don't try and hire a sales guy too early and push everything off to him. You must interact with the clients at the start to discover pain points, processes, and pattern matching.

In terms of partnerships, I'd say don't get bogged down in that. Companies will reach out wanting you to use or pitch their products, all good, but don't waste time setting up partnership meetings yet.

12
devdad 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been doing digital consultancy for about a year now in my own firm. Me and my co-founder started with a client from connections we made when we were salaried consultants, and took it from there.

Here's what I've learned since I started that I haven't seen others mention.

- Paid networks are great. We pay about 2-4k USD / year for gold memberships. The companies there only send their executive branches or other people with deciding power, so you'll meet relevant business contacts from the start. We've gotten business worth ~35k from these in two months, so 31k+ with ten months to go of the year for a 4k investment.

- Being able to speak in front audiences will give you leads. We generally just speak about digital stuff to our paid networks.

- The more people see you as a friend, the more likely you are to get big referrals. I go running with the CEO of large company in our field and we've become friends. About 200k coming from his referrals this year.

13
bigmanwalter 2 days ago 1 reply      
Welcome to the dark side :)

Starting a services firm is all about building up a client base that can sustain you. Your big challenge is to get into the best referral circles, as the best projects come via word of mouth.

My suggestion is to take whatever you can get at first. Take as many coffee meetings as possible and network like crazy. You never know where your first big lead will come from.

Expect most potential clients to be sceptical of your ability to deliver until you have portfolio pieces that are of both a similar level of complexity to the clients' needs as well as written in similar technologies. Clients will be sceptical of anything that you wrote while still employed unfortunately.

For me, this meant that I had to take projects at a loss or on razor thin margins at the beginning. I was strategic about it though and this allowed me to build up the type of portfolio I needed to get my ideal contracts.

Online markets are very competitive. Expect to be up against 200 other bidders. It can be fruitful, but I consider it to be a full time job in itself.

Until you're established, you'll need to follow up on every potential sales channel you can think of. If you have sufficient capital to float sales people, it's always a great thing to have, but be careful as employees will spend your money faster than you make it at first. Contractors, freelancers, and commission only sales can help you out here.

I found most of my first clients by announcing my availability to my network. There may be some less saturated job boards on Facebook that are localized to your specific city as well.

You may need to take on smaller projects than you would like at first. It will feel useless but it is actually valuable networking. Some of my 1 day projects have turned into handsome referrals :)

Get as much mentorship and help as you can find. There will be hard times before the operation is running smoothly.

If you ever want to chat about it, you can hit me up at eric@dualgravity.com

14
sandworm101 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do you want to create your own product or do you want to consult?

My customers are sick of consultants who are really just pitch men for products, products they probably do not need. When i consult i openly say that i am not tied to any product, that while i do suggest and evaluate products i never accept comissions. That's pure consulting. The client comes first.

The other type of consulting is to offer consulting services as a way of getting your foot in the door. These are the people that bid low (or free) with the goal of selling product later. I dislike this approach. I find it dishonest and so do my clients.

15
smdz 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Setup the business processes and make the workflow stable and profitable.

This should be the top priority. You personally don't want to be tied up to any client/project. You could help developers as time permits. But your priority should be about getting projects, hiring, managing cashflow keeping it profitable. Not very "engineer-ish". If you are a hardcore developer - you will (almost) hate doing this.Assuming you can get high value projects - executing those projects while keeping the customer and the team happy - is a perpetual challenge.

> Should I prioritize our online sales channels over local ones?

Local ones are always better and surprisingly easier compared to online sales that are highly competitive. The only discomfort is to actually move out of your office and meet people in person. The exception is if local ones are financially infeasible. You should also do online sales - And people (top 5-10%) do earn money from online projects too, so do not let myths discourage you from going online.

> Should I hire a salesperson to look for projects?

After some time - Yes. You should be the first sales person for your firm. Later you will be able to define sales-team profile that you need

> Should we have mentors/coaches?

I believe the answer is Yes in longer term. And by this time you would have been already successful but the growth might feel stagnant (or just boring).

> Switch from contract work to our products gradually.

A product guy is usually always good at consulting - but moving from consulting to products is pretty difficult. And it's definitely not because of the lack of execution capability.

If your goal is to do products - do just that and don't get into consulting. And it is easier to start validating, building product as an employee - compared to owning a consulting firm.

16
adrianmacneil 2 days ago 0 replies      
Decide whether you want to start a consulting firm or work on a product. Then do that. Don't start a consulting firm with the idea that you will work on products in your "spare" time.

If you want to work on product ideas, you are much better doing that while you still have a day job, rather than trying to do it while you are also worrying about where your next contract is going to come from.

17
bitexploder 2 days ago 0 replies      
I started this journey 3 years ago. Information security consulting, but the challenges are largely the same.

I could write a book about this. You can find me pretty easily (search my hn handle in Google, find my company, mail info@, and we can exchange other contact info), and I will happily talk with you via voice chat, my time is limited to get this out.

3. is hard, if you are primarily a technology person do not assume that because you are good at tech you can just figure all this business stuff (you can, but ... it is non-trivial)

4. This is a beautiful idea, but much harder than it sounds. I have seen it done successfully and can tell you how I have been a part of a team that made this happen

5. See 4.

Sales: Another book-worthy topic. Basically, you need to talk to people and be at every event vaguely related to technology to network with people. Go to mainframe user groups. Go to toastmasters. Network. Also if you are good at what you do you might be surprised at when and how work will magically end up in your lap once the world knows you are for hire (don't expect this to get you started, but it is neat to see in effect).

Partnering with other firms never worked for us.

Mentors/coaches... heavens yes. Find /good/ business consultants. People that can help you crystallize the outcomes you want and help you keep your eye on the ball. If you want to do more than just a one man shop, this is really helpful.

Hire a sales person? Technical sales of development and infosec consulting services is /hard/. The good ones are really expensive. Part time sales and referral type relationships rarely work (though they can some of the time, it has rarely worked for us).

That is all I have time for, will chat more later if you track me down.

edit: welcome to the big show. I can't ever imagine going back to working for anyone other than myself and my employees. It is a weird inversion to finally truly get how special and important running a business is. I do it for me, but I also do it for my employees and our freedom to live in a world with minimal red tape.

18
jondubois 2 days ago 0 replies      
Me and a fellow open source contributor just started offering services around a real-time open source project we created/worked on and we've seen an increase of inquiries recently.See http://socketcluster.io/#!/services - Maybe get in touch (email form is linked from the bottom of the page) - We're looking to build connections with people who have expertise with real-time systems. We're literally at the very beginning so anything is possible.
19
ryanmarsh 2 days ago 0 replies      
All of my colleagues who transitioned to running their own consulting firms did so by leveraging existing relationships with their employer's ex-clients. This is in conflict with every one of their non-competes. Since then they've built their businesses mostly on referrals. This is not what anyone would advise you to do but it's what I've seen pay the bills. YMMV.
20
htormey 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm doing this right now in the Bay Area. Most of my early clients came through me reaching out to a lot of people in my network.

I also had a lot of luck on angellist. My strategy there was to apply to jobs and then ask to meet the head of engineering for coffee. I got one of my best customers through that method.

If you don't have a strong network you need to be going to a lot of meetups or other events where hiring managers are present.

21
sixdimensional 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sorry it doesn't directly address your questions, but I have one comment based on observations of people who have tried to go from starting a consulting firm to their own products. That observation is, they get so busy running the consulting firm it takes all their time and energy and they never got to making their own products.

Thought to consider - if you really want to make your own products to sell, just jump right to working on that and spend all your energy doing that. Unless you genuinely want to do consulting work, of course.

Consider that starting and running a business is the same amount of work from the paperwork perspective. And a consulting firm just sells services where results are often owned by the client- whereas the product you make for your own company can be owned by you.

That's not to dissuade you at all if it is your dream to take this path. Just food for thought about what your dream really is and how much time/money you have to pursuse it.

22
wjessup 2 days ago 0 replies      
I started a consulting business about 10 years ago. We're >80 people now and only do full team projects that include design, product management and engineering.

As others have said in this thread it's all about relationships and sales. Technical ability will help you retain clients and build bigger things over longer timescales, but won't help you get clients in the first place. Also, technical ability rarely leads to happy clients - they don't review your code - but a focus on helping the client achieve their mission is the key to success.

You need to start by getting 1 client. Then 2, and so on. You don't need a website, or even the name of a company to do this. I didn't know the name of my consultancy until about 6 months into it after we were 5 full time people.

Subcontracting with other firms when you start is possible, but is mostly based on relationships, not capability. When I started I had a relationship with a design agency and they subcontracted us their heavy engineering work. In reverse, I saw this as outsourcing sales and account management to them.

To grow the business I started a meetup.com group back when meetup was just starting. There were no other groups at the time and I was able to make a good name for myself in the community which lead to word of mouth business. Once a month I would have a different big name company in town host an event where I would bring 50-80 engineer types and do some tech talks for about an hour. It took about 5 hours to organize per month and barely any out of pocket costs since companies were happy to open their spaces to technical types and provide food.

You need to figure out what you're willing to sell. Staff augmentation? Time & Materials? Contracts based on scope? They're all very different in sales process and delivery.

You need to think about account management as a real thing. Developing the empathy and focus around happy customers over "best code" or "ideal features" is critical.

Developing your sales beyond word of mouth is the hardest thing to do. Hiring a sales person alone won't do it. There are way too many small consultancies reaching out to potential customers everyday and you can't distinguish yourself from the noise. If you have a clearly differentiated product offering or services approach that a sales person can leverage to make a clear pitch that's not just "we can do your projects!" then it can work.

23
finkin1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I manage a 2-person remote design and development team that seems similar to yours. We all got started doing individual freelance work, and then we raised some money as a team to pursue building our own software product. When we ran out of money, we went back to individual freelancing. We decided to actually start a consulting firm when we landed a big client that required combining all of our skills. We still actually operate with individual S-Corps which contract with our consulting firm LLC, which we own equally. Sometimes we still do individual freelance work outside of our firm. You may want to talk to a CPA about the best way to set things up for your particular goals.

- Look for projects everywhere. Even if someone is looking for an individual freelancer, there's no harm in presenting yourself as a team and trying to get the gig anyway.

- Local, remote, doesn't matter. The quality of the project is what matters most in my experience. Burnout matters even more when your team is small and everyone is relying on getting income from a project.

- Definitely reach out to other agencies, particularly local ones. Tell them you can help with overload and custom coding problems they might not have the in-house talent to tackle.

- I've never had a mentor/coach, so I can't really say if it's worth it.

- You should probably start by doing the outreach yourselves. Try subscribing to some paid curated lead generation services for freelancers/agencies. For a couple hundred dollars a month you can get dozens of leads sent to your inbox every day and a few of those might be promising. Follow up with everyone relentlessly. I use a service called Cloze for this.

Other thoughts:

- Keep expenses other than payroll in mind as they can add up. You can probably start with less, but there are a lot of great tools that can streamline things and save your team a lot of time. We pay for a co-working space, DocuSign, Slack, GetHarvest, UberConference, Google Apps, and Cloze, to name the ones I can remember right now.

- It's a really good idea to have a written contract with all of your clients. This is my favorite video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3RJhoqgK8. The lawyer in that video, Gabe, reviews all of our contracts and he really is my favorite person to pay.

Best of luck!

24
wehriam 2 days ago 0 replies      
Check out Thoughtbot's "playbook" - https://thoughtbot.com/playbook - it's a thorough and up-to-date guide to running a consulting firm.
25
awinter-py 2 days ago 0 replies      
Consulting will murder you. You'll never build a product while consulting.

Read your employment contract and talk to a lawyer. Don't put anything on paper before you leave. I'm not a lawyer but you have 3 problems:

-- if you design products while employed, your contract may assign ownership of those 'thoughts, ideas and inventions whether reduced to practice or not' to your boss

-- you're planning to recruit your coworkers to come with you? may violate your non-solicitation clause.

-- if you're a senior employee and your new company is in the same area as the old company, your old company may be able to stop you from working (period) under your noncompete.

26
tedmiston 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hey cosmorocket I've gone on a similar endeavor last year starting my own full-time, one-man company focusing on contract software development. Most of my work is independent contracting vs freelance though I'm starting to experiment more. I'm also doing related work such as (paid) technical writing. Having this flexibility is perhaps the biggest advantage to me. So far all work is purely contracting, not consulting, though the terms seem to be thrown around interchangeably these days. My business website is sparse but is at [1] for reference.

I've found that finding clients is not as big of a challenge as envisioned. Marketing / sales / and all that turned out to be pretty irrelevant in my use case. I also didn't bother making a portfolio my best work is private low-level backend dev that can't easily be shared and often not even discussed (this is a challenge). So far I've received most work based on personal reputation as opposed to any type of proposal or competitive process.

Partnerships are very helpful being able to recommend a front end dev or graphic designer on a whim is a big service to your clients. This one I underestimated initially and am still working on developing a nice organized rolodex (and currently seeking software to simplify the approach).

Feel free to reach out if I can provide any other relevant thoughts from my experience (email in profile).

[1]: http://www.edmistonsoftware.com/

27
caherrerapa 2 days ago 0 replies      
#2 You are in the right direction. Take your time to find the right first clients to define your niche.

#3 You must be profitable in the first couple months if you are doing services. It doesn't make sense to make a service business and not being profitable.

#4 At least a year before that.

#5 it's not as easy as it seems. But it's good u look to get out of non-recurring revenue.

As soon as you have your first decent client, you should commit full time otherwise your priorities are wrong (burn the bridges).

Quality and word of mouth sale more than a sales person if you are doing service. For a product it's a different story (mkt., sales, etc.). It's way harder with a product.

Partnerships never work, they are a big distraction and a way for your competitors to gain insights about your business. Focus on getting off the ground.

You need to define which niche you wanna target. You should have a network that knows what's your next move in order to make it work.

Started 3 years ago, going great, we are based in Bangkok with decent revenue. Successful internal products are elusive tho. Good luck with your next step.

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instaheat 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm a Loan Officer (Mortgage Banker) with IT experience (5 years) Ran my own IT consulting firm for a year before giving it up. It was hard to do it on my own. I had 4 clients under contract doing both the Technical side and sales side.

Let me know if you would be interested in working together. I would be interested in being a salesperson.

Certainly qualified to do so, originating mortgage loans in 11 states.

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mathattack 2 days ago 0 replies      
IMHO - 2 thoughts...

1) The way to find out if this is a pipe dream is to see if you can get a first client. Get a first client for yourself. If you can't, nothing else matters.

2) There is a huge fight in consulting companies between investing in "products" versus serving existing clients. This is why it's so rare for consulting companies to create products of their own. The best people wind up serving clients, and the internal products get sidelined. It only works if you're 100% explicit from Day 1 that the consulting exists purely to bootstrap the product. That's admirable, but if you're really into products, why not just get VC money?

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bmmayer1 2 days ago 1 reply      
Full time freelance consultant here, specializing in product strategy and early customer acquisition. This should apply to your situation as well. What other people have said in this thread is mostly accurate: consulting is 100% about client development, and 70% of client development is doing good work for the clients you do have, because almost all your clients will be word of mouth.

But, that doesn't answer the question of how you get your first clients. Here's what I suggest:

- Start networking. Set up meetings. Lots of meetings. With everyone you've ever met, at all levels. Depending on who you are talking to, float the possibility of leaving your current job to 'see what opportunities are out there'. In some cases you can be more specific ("I want to go freelance"). In other cases you can be more declarative ("I am freelance now.") The purpose of these meetings is connecting with people, most of whom you probably haven't talked to in a while. The purpose of networking is making friends. You want to catch up with people and slip into the conversation that you're going freelance now or already are. You don't have to ask them for work; work will find you. It's important to realize that networking is ultimately about increasing the number of nodes in your network so when one of your nodes has a friend who is looking for work, your name is top-of-mind for a referral. The best sales come from INCOMING connections, not outgoing ones. Engage in your networking activities to maximize your incoming referrals.

- How do you start networking? I'm sure you have friends at work who won't go blabbing to management about your desire to leave your job. Ask them to connect you with people because you're looking for new opportunities. You don't even have to mention consulting--saying something like "I've been working here for a while, and I'd like to see what else is out there. Do you know any people I can talk to who are doing something interesting?" will work. This will be your initial word-of-mouth funnel that will lead to clients.

- Use meetings as a way to get to more meetings. It will come up naturally in the conversation. "Oh, the work that Acme Inc is doing with data warehousing is really interesting. I would love to find out more about that!" Make the goal of every meeting to get a new meeting.

- Go to networking events. Not coding meetups, where you'll only meet other engineers, but boring industry-related networking events where you'll meet real companies who can hire you. If you work in a real estate tech company, go to a real estate industry event. Go to tech industry events like Techweek. When you're there, meet people. Make friends. Make sure they know what you do, and you know what they do. Get their business cards. Follow up with people you like. Set up more meetings. Etc, etc.

- One thing that could work for you: there's nothing wrong with taking job interviews, especially at small companies that can't necessarily afford to pay for a full time person. If you establish yourself as a freelancer and do a good job, it's easier to get freelance work at higher levels. Many companies who bring you in for an interview will be responsive to something like "I can't really take on something full time right now but all you need to do is deploy a new framework for your site, so I can do that in two months for $X,000. How does that sound?" Boom, your first fixed bid contract.

- In summary: you should spend 100% of your time outside your job networking. I promise you will get clients quickly.

Those are some DOs. Here are some DO NOTs:

- Do NOT try to sell to anyone in your network. This seems counterintuitive, but you will almost NEVER hard sell consulting services to someone you already know. Networking is not about sales; networking is about making friends, and you will LOSE friends if you try to sell freelance services to your friends. Instead, like I wrote above, maximize incoming connections. I guarantee you will meet with someone and halfway through the conversation they'll say, "hey, I have this friend who's building an X, can you help with that?" Boom, instant sale, and the best part is, their friend is referring you so your reputation will start warm rather than cold.

- Do NOT hire a salesperson. You are not a company, even if you have a logo. Your company is YOU. Clients will hire you because they trust and like YOU. Until you have 10+ clients full time, you will be indistinguishable from your firm. There's a reason why even major consulting firms (McKinsey, Bain, LEK) are named after their founding people, decades later. Oh, and by the way, those firms don't have salespeople either.

- Do NOT waste time on marketing, research, positioning in a market, etc. Your market will be determined by your unique skillset and your referrals. Treat this like a MVP startup: let the customer guide you to a product-market fit. You can spend 2 months building a website that no one will visit, or you can spend 2 months building a network of thousands of people. Choose the latter.

- Depending on your cash situation, I wouldn't quit your job yet. Until you have a client or clients willing to pay you at least half of what you're making now, pretend your current job is your current client. Use it as an opportunity to get new clients.

=====

TL;DR: Spend all your time networking until you have clients. When you have clients, do amazing work and they will introduce you to more clients. Never try to make a sale. Sales will find you. Good luck!

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crystalPalace 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recently started a remote development team with a friend(http://whiteboarddynamics.co/). We use 2 lead generation services as well as the monthly HN threads for freelancing and hiring. I find that spending time every day working on the business and searching for clients is key. I think that it is important to be able to market yourself, in relation to hiring salespeople. You know your business best so you won't over or under sell it.
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redbeard0x0a 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are a lot of things that you need to do to start your own consulting firm.

One of those things to do needs to be:

* Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h3RJhoqgK8

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phkahler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Almost all of your questions come down to relationships, so the answer from WhitneyLand is important, but I'll be specific:

>> How do I identify that a company might be in need...?

By having connections and a solid reputation, they may actually start coming to you. For now talk to people you know to see if they have a need you can fill.

>> Should I partner up with firms like ours? ....

Yes. But they will need to know your reputation before they are willing to do so. So it's connections again.

>>Should I hire a salesperson?

Probably not. You will be your own best salesperson and will start with your own network.

34
issa 2 days ago 0 replies      
If your ultimate goal is to build your own product, then starting a consulting business is a distraction. Maybe it helps to just focus on the goal? How you make money while you pursue the goal is not important. So keep your day job and work on the product as your side project. I'm almost certain your day job is MUCH easier than starting a consulting firm, so you'd have more time to devote to the goal. It's also much more stable and predictable in terms of income.

Good luck!

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nunez 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Be a consultant first. I didn't think it was as tricky of an industry as it is, but it is.
36
geniium 2 days ago 0 replies      
Your plan is nice, but you'll never get to 5. You will most probably get stuck in doing client work with that strategy.

I would rather continue in your current position and prepare everything to not "Switch from contract work to our products gradually" but switch from a known and secure context to your new product. Either gradually or abruptly if you have enough cash.

Haven't replied to the other questions due to blocking point 5. But mentor and coaches are great to have an external point of view : try to use them wisely.

Good luck!

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yed 2 days ago 0 replies      
> Willing to find projects for a small team (2-4 members) of developers/designers should I look for larger projects in a different way?

Selling yourself as a team is to ultimate goal, but initially you may need to focus on leveraging your experience as a freelancer. Sell the same way you sold as a freelancer, but twice as much and contracted through your company, and expect your partner to do the same. As you gain relationships with customers, look for opportunities to pivot into larger projects or staffing two freelance positions with the same client. This base of work will keep you afloat while you figure out how to sell larger projects or build up a software portfolio. Ideally you'd find an anchor customer willing to commit to an extended contract to take some of the pressure off.

> How do I identify that a company might be in need of a team like ours? I dont want to spam everybody trying to catch a project.

Same as above, this is something you'll need to learn from experience. Start with the skills you know from freelancing and the connections you've gained. Don't worry too much about "spamming" people, your hardest job now is marketing and selling yourselves. You may be surprised how willing some people are to help out a fledgling company.

> Should I prioritize our online sales channels over local ones?

Sell any way you can and keep what works, ditch what doesn't.

> Should I partner up with firms like ours? Contact them and show our offer so that they could be interested in subcontracting with us?

If you have opportunities to partner with a larger established consultancy, then yes this is a good way to grow while letting the bigger guys do the selling for you. This works especially when you have relationships in the industry you can leverage and/or specialized skill sets that other consultancies need to backfill. Otherwise, consultancies generally try to avoid subcontracting so it may be a difficult nut to crack.

> Should we have mentors/coaches?

Absolutely.

> Should I hire a salesperson to look for projects?

If you and your partner can't sell yourselves then your company won't survive. You shouldn't worry about dedicated sales people until your quite a bit bigger. That will be you and your partners job for the time being.

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matchagaucho 2 days ago 0 replies      
If front-end UI components for enterprise apps are your "niche", then I'd suggest a 2-pronged approach:

1) Publish a library of pre-built, generic UI components suited to a particular domain. Use a license like Creative Commons to charge for commercial use, but make the library available for free trials.

2) Offer hourly consulting services to enhance/adapt the components to specific needs.

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djangowithme 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lets say that you're a small start up past the MVP stage. What would be the types of tasks that you would outsource to a consulting firm? Isn't it much more likely that you would try to hire full time and build a team / culture? Does consulting even work for this market segment?
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lsjdfkljdfwkwdf 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about working for the same employer, but as a consultant (usually involves leaving and coming back) while working for other clients on the side? Having seen quite a few people going this route, they seem to be doing pretty good.
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fnbr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I work for a reasonably high end software consulting firm. We find most of the work through word of mouth or in-bound responses due to projects we've put on the web.

Two suggestions:

1. Patrick McKenzie (http://www.kalzumeus.com/; patio11 on HN) has a lot of brilliant work up talking about his consulting work, consulting work in general. Give him a read.

2. Focus on solving business problems, not technical problems, and start approaching people that you think would make a lot of money if you solved one of their problems. Customers rarely push back if you make them more money than you cost them (to an absurd degree- it's shocking how much you can charge for a recent grad's time).

Regarding your plan:

- I don't know if you need to prepare a portfolio site. If you have a strong portfolio & can offer references/testimonials, that's probably sufficient.

- I don't even know if you need to make the workflow stable as long as it's profitable. If you have the product people working as contractors, then you can get by with instability. Also, charging large amounts helps substantially as you can spread out the cash over time rather than having to constantly search for work.

Regarding your questions:

- As mentioned above, you want to find people who have business problems that you can solve. The best way to do that is to meet lots of people and ask them about their business problems. Lecture 19 of "How to Start a Startup" has a good discussion of this [1, 2]. I would start looking at large organizations in your area who aren't tech companies. Governments will often have public bid processes that you can start applying for.

I would not prioritize online sales channels over local ones. I think consulting really only works when it's enterprise focused, as that's when you can charge the large rates to justify your time & overhead. That's going to necessarily be in person due to the way that enterprise sales works (unfortunately). However, internet marketing can work well. We've had a lot of success attracting in-bound interest from viral posts on social media (visualizations, projects, etc.).

- I wouldn't partner up with firms like yours. I would partner up with firms that lack the expertise. e.g. large management consultancies like Deloitte (easier said than done).

I'm happy to provide more specific advice over email. My email's in my profile.

[1]: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/[2]: Transcript: https://genius.com/Tyler-bosmeny-lecture-19-sales-and-market...

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peter303 2 days ago 0 replies      
Write a business plan to focus your energy. It doesnt have to be long or fancy. Include your resources, your market, your one-year and five-year goals. There are guides and samples on the web. You may revise on an annual basis.
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clueless123 2 days ago 1 reply      
Sales, sales, sales.

* Your are a developer, so everything else, you can figure out on your own.

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tootie 2 days ago 0 replies      
The thing you're missing is project and product management and sales. Those parts can be really hard. You're coding skills are worthless if you can't deliver the right thing on budget.
45
mee_too 2 days ago 0 replies      
You're not in a good position to start consulting - you have no understanding how that business works.

If you really want to build a product, start building a product right away.

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4sellff 1 day ago 0 replies      
I have interest in speaking with you about a consulting opportunity. Please e-mail me: ron.michel at vmconfig.com
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dbg31415 2 days ago 0 replies      
I see a lot of good answers here already... but understand the reason you want your own firm... and the reason why it sucks to be a developer at most agencies... is the same as why it's really hard to be a developer out on your own. It's not talent that matters, it's the ability to sell. The sales guys have all the power because, without them, there is no viable firm.

Now... you can say, "Oh without delivery talent there isn't a firm either..." and you're not wrong. But, a firm can always fake it until they make it -- many do. Then scramble to hire devs once they get a sale. It's not a discussion around what comes first -- the chicken or the egg... it's sales that comes first.

If you're just looking to freelance, find a "cash cow" client or two. Bend over backwards to keep them happy. You'll make an OK living billing out at your hourly for them. If you have time, try and grow... but at some point you'll have to make the call if you want to do sales or delivery work -- and if it's the later you'll never have time to do the former correctly.

So to keep a client happy... you have to talk to the project manager on their side, the VP on their side, the C-level folks on their side... all the lunches and emails and gifts and crap that you never see because the sales / accounts team handled it for you. And if you don't do it... rest assured someone else is, and you'll end up losing your contract to someone who is willing to waste a day playing golf and building multi-layer relationships.

Having done my own business for a number of years... it's empowering to be your own boss, but even getting all my clients through reputation / word of mouth... it's a never-ending struggle to keep up with sales / accounts and it takes a lot more of my time than I ever thought it would.

It takes a lot more than just doing the job right for them. Let's face it... most of the higher up folks making the decisions about budgets... they aren't perfectly in tune with delivery anyway, so when someone comes along who tells them they can do it cheaper, faster, better, whatever... and turns on the charm... your relationship with the client's project manager isn't going to mean all that much.

It's exhausting having to be so aggressively inquisitive about my clients' businesses so I can get out ahead of them before they send out an RFP or invite another contractor in that could be trying to vie for my job. At the end of the day... is it worth it? Sure -- for me -- for the freedom. But I'd probably have more money, and a lot more free time, if I just worked for someone else.

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igolden 2 days ago 0 replies      
A great resource for burning through your idea and getting your business setup/organized -> startuprocket.com. Free, too.
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xkenneth 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have run a consulting firm for the last 8 years. Feel free to email me.

Ken@erdosmiller.com

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lwhalen 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let me save you 18+ months of agony by recommending: expensiveproblem.com/hbin

worth every penny, IMHO. Been freelancing 3+ years, getting off of hourly and onto value-based billing has been life-changing.

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dfcarney 2 days ago 0 replies      
First and foremost, if you have an idea for a good product then just work on that. Don't complicate your life with consulting unless there's a dire need to save up a bunch of cash. It'll be easier to work on that while maintaining a 9-to-5 job, as opposed to trying to build a product while running a consulting business.

That said, consulting is a great way to learn a lot, gain experience, make good money, and figure out what you don't want to be doing. If you want to go this route, read on...

Speaking from experience (having incorporated two software consulting firms and worked at that for a few years), I completely agree with the comments about sales/selling be such an important part of things. If you don't enjoy this (or have someone on your team who does), then you're going to get worn out pretty quickly. However, if you can land 1-2 big clients and setup some kind of continuous (ex. retainer-based) relationship then you're golden.

One option is to try and contract from your current employer. You obviously have the experience and the relationships already in place. Your employer won't be happy about you leaving, but might be amenable to hiring you on a short-term gig.

An alternative is to subcontract. Expect your rates to be lower, but you'll have more opportunity to gain valuable experience and won't bear the risk/burden of landing clients yourself. It's a lot easier to find your own contracts once you have a few projects (and a network of contacts) under your belt.

Regardless of your approach, advice I always give to people when they ask me about starting a business are: get a good lawyer ; and get a good accountant. Don't take the cheapest options because you'll regret it later. Find people in the space who come recommended, whom you like, and who have a track-record in dealing in your line of work.

Whether or not you decide to incorporate is up to you (talk to the aforementioned lawyer), but in my experience it's a no-brainer.

In terms of legal, you'll also want your lawyer to provide you with a standard NDA and contract that you can use in all of your engagements. Any lawyer with experience should be able to provide this pretty cheaply (at a fixed rate, hopefully).

In terms of an accountant (or a small accounting firm), you won't need much to get started, but a 1-2 hour consultation to get your bookkeeping and invoicing setup will save you a lot of time (and grief) later. Make sure that you can hand easily hand your invoices, bank statements, receipts, etc. to your accountant when it comes time to file your taxes. Again, if you cheap-out on this it's going to cause you a lot of pain down the road.

Other notes from experience:

- Switching from consulting to product is difficult and almost always fails unless you're willing to make a clean break. As a consultant you eat what you kill; as soon as you stop working then your revenue stream drops to zero. I've seen people try to work around this by expanding their consulting firm to handle larger and larger projects, but then the people at the top just spend more time managing everything and have even less time to work on products.

- You'll eventually come up with a good product idea, at which point you should be willing (and able) to completely stop consulting to work on it. This transition will hurt, but you should have enough cash saved up to make a go of it.

- It's okay (in Canada, at least) to start working as a sole proprietor on some (smaller) contracts, but don't expect any client to be amenable to you changing the nature of your relationship with them half way through a contract (for instance, if you decide to incorporate).

- The larger the client/contract, the more likely you'll need insurance (errors & omissions, liability, etc). This doesn't come cheap. I recommend starting with smaller clients and projects to mitigate this.

- Figure out what taxes (if any) you need to charge ahead of time and be very upfront about this (and your rates).

- If someone wants you to be on-call (ex. 2-hour response time to a phone call), then great. Charge them more for it.

- If someone wants you on retainer (ex. 20 hours/month for dev ops), wonderful. Consider giving them a discount for multi-month agreements because it's a low-risk and guaranteed revenue stream.

- Make it very easy for clients to pay you. Include all of your payment information on each invoice. Have multiple payment options, if possible.

- Expect to terminate agreements with some clients. This sucks, but it's sometimes necessary.

- In your contract, be sure to state that the client doesn't own the work product (copyright, etc) until they pay you. This doesn't mean you don't deliver things according to schedule if payment is a little behind schedule, but you have some recourse if things ever get nasty.

- Finally, be sure to check your current employment agreement to make sure there's nothing that would get you (or your colleague) in trouble if you both decide to leave and start a company. Two things come to mind: there might be some onerous (and probably unenforceable) non-solicitation clause that a lawyer could twist to state that you solicited your colleague (or vice versa) to leave (this probably won't be an issue); and there might be some non-compete that you have to be careful about if you're consulting on similar products/features to your current employer. In both cases, I think this would be low-risk, but talk to your lawyer.

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wyc 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you've been successfully freelancing for 7 years, then it's likely that you already know much of what I'm about to write. I'd say scrap partnerships and salespeople, and focus on what sales channels are best for you, online or local, whatever works. The two most important lessons I've learned in consulting so far are:

(1) It's really all about trust. The client wants someone who can reliably solve their problem, and tooting your own horn has a very limited effectiveness in building that credibility. Trust heavily impacts what projects people will give you, and how much you can charge. It's common that a company will somehow find 2-3x budget to hire a partner who they know will get the job done.

(2) Referrals and good deeds are the fastest way to build trust. When you come well-recommended by a prospect's trusted friend or partner, then a good amount of that trust gets instantly transferred to you. This transitivity of trust is key to building a good referral network that will consistently send work your way. If you don't have this, then you have somewhat of a cold start problem. In this case, providing value to people on a regular basis could really help with establishing your credibility. I don't mean doing projects for free, but more like offering people free 30-minute consultations about how to build their things, or sending them resources (articles or books) on a consistent basis that would really benefit them. This demonstrates that you can already deliver value, and makes it more convincing that you would do much more of that if you actually got paid for it.

Here are some more resources that could help someone get a start:

[1] Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss is a little antiquated, but talks about what's important in getting your firm going and how to think about your work's impact on your client. (https://www.amazon.com/Getting-Started-Consulting-Alan-Weiss...)

[2] Book Yourself Solid by Micheal Port talks about the best ways to build these client relationships that will result in trust. (https://www.amazon.com/Book-Yourself-Solid-Reliable-Marketin...)

[3] Double Your Freelancing by Brennan Dunn actually has very good information about the tactics of pricing and the business side of project management. It's pricey. The accompanying podcast has good information for free. (https://doubleyourfreelancing.com/)

There are thousands of different info products online about this stuff, but this bundle should give you the most core knowledge for your money.

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wushupork 1 day ago 0 replies      
Started on my consulting firm around 5 years ago - quite organically. (I was a freelancer taking on more work than I could handle so I hired help). Now we have around 40 people, a pretty remote team, some big Fortune 500 clients as well as lots of startups. We're also incubating our own SaaS products.

I'll address your questions as well as offer my own experience as lessons / pitfalls.

As many have said, sales and BD (business development) doesn't seem like a priority for you, but it probably takes a good 70% percent of my time nowadays. The other 30% are a mosh of running the company, maintaining relationships, and figuring out more sustainable avenues for the future (ie SaaS products).

Should you look for larger projects? Yes. Look for projects that will feed a big team. The 80/20 rule applies here. I would say 30% of my clients are responsible for 70% of the revenue. The double edged sword here is, make sure that 30% is not just 1 huge customer which happened to my friend. He learned the hard way that when 80% of your revenue comes from one customer and that customer goes away, you're toast. I lost a big whale which took out a HUGE chunk of revenue, but we were pretty diversified. Otherwise we would have been in real trouble. It sucked, and it was painful, but we recovered.

How do I identify that a company might be in need of a team like ours? Should I prioritize our online sales channels over local ones? - I'm 5 years into the business, and I have to say, most of the business I get is still from referrals and relationships. Almost nothing is from online channels, although that is SLOWLY starting to happen because of some marketing channels. Also I didn't really have much of a marketing team until recently. And even then, it will take some time to figure out the right marketing activities to focus on. If you are still small, you might be out of business by the time you figure it out. Most of your business will come through relationships. Hit up all your friends who work at big companies.

Should I partner up with firms like ours? - if you look on our site we have several impressive partnerships, but I can tell you exactly how much business they've brought - a big 0. Partnerships are hard. The partner is having enough trouble dealing with bringing money for themselves, much less worrying about bringing you money. I've never seen it work out in consulting. If you sell a product, there's no end to people who want to resell your product via VARs (value added reseller) or affiliates.

Should we have mentors/coaches? YES. I constantly talk to others who have had much bigger consultancies who are not my direct competitors (not in the same geographic space etc). I try to talk to them when I have specific issues - that they've probably run into before, or regularly so that I have a sounding board. I constantly ask for feedback on things I'm trying to implement etc. Learn from people who've done it before. Nowadays I also spend a lot of time with SaaS mentors because that's where I want to be.

Should I hire a salesperson to look for projects? I've not seen any small agency early on have success with a salesperson. This is because you'll probably only be able to attract mediocre or subpar salespeople with your small projects and small commissions. The best salespeople tend to work for companies like Salesforce so they can earn HUGE commissions and drive expensive cars and afford expensive watches. Also, everyone I've known in consultancies go through multiple sales people before they find the right one. You'll burn a lot of money before you do. Even after 5 years, I still do most of the sales myself. When you are this small, people want to deal with the owner. Also you are still figuring things out - your unique value prop, what you sell and truth be told, a salesperson who's not technical, won't be able to explain what you sell or even know how to sell it until you figure it out and systematize it for them.

As for products, I've always budgeted time and money for products since the very beginning and I've had MANY failed products. The nice thing about consulting is that it does give you runway to experiment. However the experiments will take more time and run slower. However, I would say you have more runway that "traditionally" raising some angel or seed. In helping lots of startups, I see a lot of this happen. People have an idea, they want to do a product. They find a team, raise a small amount of capital, and try it out. It doesn't work for whatever reason - maybe the hypothesis was wrong, they couldn't execute, they couldn't market, whatever. They run out of runway and investors don't throw in more money. They disband and usually end up getting jobs in more stable startups or big companies. That's it - game over. Or if they disband and try again, it's usually with a different team etc. To me that's a hugely disruptive way to do it. If you have a team you work well with, ideally I'd like to keep that team regardless of whether 1 idea works out or not. Remember, these are experiments. So the consultancy let's me keep my team intact while I iterate through different ideas.

Business process, (and technical processes). When you are small, and all sitting in the same room, you'll have a lot of tribal knowledge you pass on when you look over the shoulder. That doesn't scale, so the sooner you capture that into a document or process, the better. If you have to do something more than once, don't expect other people to know how to do it like you do it or like you want them to, so best to document it. We probably started that way too late but we have some processes now and we're still implementing new processes.

I want to end by stressing RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS, RELATIONSHIPS (read with Steve Ballmer's enthusiasm). This applies both in clients and talent. Most of my clients have come through relationships. We did a good job for someone and that someone knew someone who needed help in a similar area. A lot of our talent also come through relationships. Good people know other good people and want to work with those good people. If you have a good work environment, your team will recommend their old coworkers who they want to work with.

Hope that helps.

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amygdyl 1 day ago 0 replies      
cosmorocket,

i owe you something i can't explain:

the mass of answers here are all brilliant in their ways,

but they are touching my memory of a very long time ago, in my twenties, when i first was throwing my all into business, my own startup, which i was indescribably lucky to keep from trashing..

i had the benefit of insane experience around me. By accident of a very long story, i had 200 years of multi national board level experience advising me, and i started silly young.

And i sounded nothing as good as, but really like pretty much all of the above.

Now, is many many years later.

Please nobody take this in any way meaning anything down on the true effusion of positive comment, above,

but for me it is a nostalgia trip,

i just got reconnected with a barely twenty something me

the outpouring here is amazing

i so wish there was anything like such a community, anyplace, the poles i'd relocate..

.. the energies i read above, are what i yearned for, when starting out

and yet despite i had the most amazing advice, counsel, business partners even, i only now realize to the extent at which they nurtured me, were patient with me, and how- long after each of those great guys retired or we parted ways - only now do i actually sound a little like they did, and it is so unlike the brilliance here, so much tempered, so much becalmed by blows and booms i never could have imagined, so much moderated by - not really cynicism, but by simply the experience of years distilling everything to the shortest short hand I could... Now i know how hard it was for my mentors to expand arguments they had reduced to great simplicity. I seem to have come full circle.

Oh, this isn't coming across how I wanted. But i mean without the slightest ill comment, to say how reading this discussion reminds me of me, what i wanted for colleagues, when young, but now i find, decades later, i think entirely differently, and feel so distant from the first energies I tried to let run in the world, and i rather have become what i once thought was cynicism in my elders. I hope i've not appeared cynical. But I really really want to say to cosmorocket, whose life may be changed by this, that a great deal of the replies here are exactly what my mentors railed against, were aghast against, when i expressed myself similarly. That does not invalidate any replies, but without addressing any individually, i really see the critical elements as missing in the debate entirely, which i note in my above comment. And my company survived because I was babysat by guys retired form boards of multinationals (fluke, fluke times a million, very difficult to believe, my story, really) who somehow tolerated me. But I was wrong, and i sounded like - rather I wanted to sound like but also be as confident, as what seems to majority here. And it took me all this time to learn why that ain't the full ticket, by some long way.

55
amygdyl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this isn't read as a off color comment,

but from reading cosmorocket's statement of inquiry,

I would say that he has to loose referring to anything as "stuff" right out the gate, from this morning's coffee on, and forever.

I mean to illustrate a more valid, less snarky, point, however:

When people hire consultants,

very often, if not prototypically, it is because they want to understand something that is outside their domain or their immediate efficient use of time, or to learn about something they are unsure whether it may meet their needs.

Hand waving and calling anything, "back end stuff"...

well, it rather blows as a pitch.

Certainly it fails at making a impression of confidence in our own knowledge, whether that is unfair doesn't much matter, if you don;t get the chance to expatiate further.

Knowledge != knowing what something is, and how it works. at least not in any consulting gig I think worth the name.

Knowledge is, very definitely, the breadth and depth of understanding a domain specialty sufficiently to relate and connect that to as yet undefined but potentially complimentary scenarios.

I want to be very very harsh, here, towards cosmorocket,

and this is intended well,

but all cosmorocket's questions are about the mechanics,

and it is utterly transparent to the reader that the absent component is appreciation for what it is that cosmorocket can bring to the table.

At least in the above question for HN, the reality of the quantity for sale is sorely absent.

I think this is why we've got a busy discussion full of anecdotes about corporate life, but nothing much at first glance that answers, "sure, you can do this, so you put it like that, and take home that". Hmm, in a roundabout way, some answers are a bit like that. But to really work, a proposition has to be simple enough at its core to be a one liner. The most sophisticated product in existence, can still be sold as "solves all your storage deployment problems whilst making IOPs a commodity you control, and compliance facility and data discovery and data loss guarantees a fixed affordable price".

Many people admire the sophistication of big sales outfits.

Corporate sales is not something many actually encounter, in life. Being pitched by EMC on a roll, eager to sell you dozens if not hundreds of TB or mainframe class storage in the nineties is a spectacular memory, like going to a grand opera. But it does all boil down to people who can cut through the chaff in a instant, so that what is too easily dismissed as frippery and trappings, are really aides and props for detailed discussions, not valueless glossy blurb. Great salespeople use their tools in ways not immediately obvious, and with skills akin almost to artistry. I may gush a bit much for your taste, but having been pitched by full on gung-ho teams, and felt at times overwhelmed by the sheer onslaught of energy and attrition of new supporting roles that a major enterprise sales effort fields to win your PO, i developed a real respect for the orchestration. I'm saying this by way of a analogy, that the casual onlooker might see glossy brochures that are terrible at defining anything, but their purpose is more discussion prompts, than hard data points.

I'd like to take cosmorocket aside, grab a empty conference room, and brain dump a whole 30 years of stories.

But the one thing I hope cosmorocket might get from my putative one on one, is the one i can give right now, just it won't seem like a hill of beans: If you want to be a consultant, and the adjective successful is a condition, because a unsuccessful consultant doesn't exist any more, or never did, you need one fundamental skill: to be able to relate to people by understandng hw they understand the technology you are discussing, so that you can get into their minds how they see their use, and whilst adding a core skillset and experience base, and maybe some tech sauce you might have rolled yourself, such as tools for cloud deployments you scripted, read back to your customer a interpretation of both what you can add, and what they might be missing, evaluated against as hard data as you can find, so that they understand the value to them of the next step they take with the technology you discuss.

Consulting is about making people understand the values of technlogy that matter to them, and educating them about tools that leverage technology to aide their needs, which needs you have to understand both from their appreciation of their needs, as well as what that adds up to in reality in practical as well as technical terms (i.e. sanity check, and eval whether they are risking expensive or dangerous poor assessments or make bad assumptions...) and explaining this in a way they can accept with the least impact for the biggest result your bill plus any extra dollars spent, can get your customer.

Selling to the next customer (i do prefer that word, even if people would say I got clients, not customers, because saying "customer" makes you focus on a product delivery, not wishy washy relationships, that frankly are strong only when you deliver as if you were shipping product) you get the next sale by opening up how you got the last, not by detail, but by example, and that is your pitch, then: "I did x for Z Corp, by this method, and they got a, b, and c, and i can give you this ROI for my work, and this customer reference."

Bu the first customer youwill get, probably you will best emphasize that you have a command directly of tech, that you have extensive domain experience in, where you see a edge that youlearned through your work, that is not widely enough deployed or accepted to be able to offer exceptional returns, and with a very low (relative, but do not ever sell yourself low, that is fatal, you must charge a market rate, even if you think big consultant rates are ridiculous for the customer you pitch, you need to be relatively in the same order as that, or else offer a discount plus earn out / bonus on other results that can add a big multiplier, if not a zero, to your contract payout) initial cost. As one man, you almost guaranteed got the low initial cost (another reason to watch tonor pitch yourself low) so you must move fast top the steak of your offer: which is "I do this with that, and it rocks your ___blank___ to the next level, and we can measure that, and we can do thisby performance in next to no time." To get a start, you must optimize time as a component. Your hours get multiplied by everyone you touch with the work you do hours. Your $400 hourly rate (not ridiculous a number) can touch and cause cost at $4,000 /hr moment you interact with any significant team in any operation.

I started very down / skeptical, but you have to.

Biggest and only advice I would ever personally offer:

there is nothing like the wrath (and bad PR effect) of a upset client for your consulting. Everybody will dump on your head.

cosmorocket, i've been harsh, sorry, but i mean well, i got not stacks but enough time to kick about, if you wanted to email me, i'll shoot at explaining better why I am right down on how you pitched this question, but also why that, and maybe the answers that arose from that, are not end of world is negative, or foreboding. But i would not encourage you to be optimistic for enthusiasm's sake. Consulting has fewer pom pom girls than startups. And far less of that, directly or indirectly, is allowed around any scenario i reckon you might find yourself in. Anyhow, I' be happy to traduce any optimistic cynicism I can, if you shout me. Good luck!

25
Silent Data Corruption Is Real complete.org
315 points by Ianvdl  1 day ago   141 comments top 20
1
elfchief 1 day ago 11 replies      
It really bugs me (and has for a while) that there is still no mainstream linux filesystem that supports data block checksumming. Silent corruption is not exactly new, and the odds of running into it have grown significantly as drives have gotten bigger. It's a bit maddening that nobody seems to care (or maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places)

(...sure, you could call zfs or btrfs "mainstream", I suppose, but when I say "mainstream" I mean something along the lines of "officially supported by RedHat". zfs isn't, and RH considers btrfs to still be "experimental".)

2
kabdib 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oh, yes. Silent bit errors are tons of fun to track down.

I spent a day chasing what turned out to be a bad bit in the cache of a disk drive; bits would get set to zero in random sectors, but always at a specific sector offset. The drive firmware didn't bother doing any kind of memory test; even a simple stuck-at test would have found this and preserved the customer's data.

In another case, we had Merkle-tree integrity checking in a file system, to prevent attackers from tampering with data. The unasked-for feature was that it was a memory test, too, and we found a bunch of systems with bad RAM. ECC would have made this a non-issue, but this was consumer-level hardware with very small cost margins.

It's fun (well maybe "fun" isn't the right word) to watch the different ways that large populations of systems fail. Crash reports from 50M machines will shake your trust in anything more powerful than a pocket calculator.

3
nisa 1 day ago 1 reply      
ZFS is also crazy good on surviving disks with bad sectors (as long as they still respond fast). Check out this paper: https://research.cs.wisc.edu/wind/Publications/zfs-corruptio...

They even spread the metadata across the disk by default. I'm running on some old WD-Greens with 1500+ of bad sectors and it's cruising along with RAIDZ just fine.

There is also failmode=continue where ZFS doesn't hang when it can't read something. If you have a distributed layer above ZFS that also checksums (like HDFS) you can go pretty far even without RAID and quite broken disks. There is also copies=n. When ZFS broke, the disk usally stopped talking or died a few days later. btrs, ext4 just choke and remount ro quite fast (probably the best and correct course of action) but you can tell ZFS to just carry on! Great piece of engineering!

4
Malic 1 day ago 2 replies      
It's articles like this that re-enforce my disappointment that Apple is choosing to NOT implement checksums in their new file system, APFS.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11934457

5
swinglock 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I were to run ZFS on my laptop with a single disk and copies=1, and a file becomes corrupted, can I recover it (partially)?

My assumption is the read will fail and the error logged but there is no redundancy so it will stay unreadable.

Will ZFS attempt to read the file again, in case the error is transient? If not, can I make ZFS retry reading? Can I "unlock" the file and read it even though it is corrupted, or get a copy of the file? If I restore the file from backup, can ZFS make sure the backup is good using the checksum it expects the file to have?

Single disk users seem to be unusual so it's not obvious how to do this, all documentation assumes a highly available installation rather than laptop, but I think there's value in ZFS even with a single disk - if only I understood exactly how it fails and how to scavenge for pieces when it does.

6
pmarreck 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course, my ZFS NAS backup is sound until a file that got bitrotted on my non-ZFS computer is touched and then backed up to it :/

It's kind of (literally?) like immutability. If you allow even a little mutability, it ruins it.

I think all filesystems should be able to add error-correction data to ensure data integrity.

7
danjoc 1 day ago 3 replies      
Closed source firmware on drives contain bugs that corrupt data. Are there any drives, available anywhere, that have open source firmware?
8
mrb 1 day ago 1 reply      
The exact same silent data corruption issues just happened to my 6 x 5TB ZFS FreeBSD fileserver. But unlike what the poster concluded, mine were caused by bad (ECC!) RAM. I kept meticulous notes, so here is my story...

I scrub on a weekly basis. One day ZFS started reporting silent errors on disk ada3, just 4kB:

 pool: tank state: ONLINE status: One or more devices has experienced an unrecoverable error. An attempt was made to correct the error. Applications are unaffected. action: Determine if the device needs to be replaced, and clear the errors using 'zpool clear' or replace the device with 'zpool replace'. see: http://illumos.org/msg/ZFS-8000-9P scan: scrub repaired 4K in 21h05m with 0 errors on Mon Aug 29 20:52:45 2016 config: NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM tank ONLINE 0 0 0 raidz2-0 ONLINE 0 0 0 ada3 ONLINE 0 0 2 <--- ada4 ONLINE 0 0 0 ada6 ONLINE 0 0 0 ada1 ONLINE 0 0 0 ada2 ONLINE 0 0 0 ada5 ONLINE 0 0 0
I monitored the situation. But every week, subsequent scrubs would continue to find errors on ada3, and on more data (100-5000kB):

 2016-09-05: 1.7MB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-09-12: 5.2MB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-09-19: 300kB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-09-26: 1.8MB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-10-03: 3.1MB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-10-10: 84kB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-10-17: 204kB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-10-24: 388kB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178) 2016-11-07: 3.9MB silently corrupted on ada3 (ST5000DM000-1FK178)
The next week. The server became unreachable during a scrub. I attempted to access the console over IPMI but it just showed a blank screen and was unresponsive. I rebooted it.

The next week the server again became unreachable during a scrub. I could access the console over IPMI but the network seemed non-working even though the link was up. I checked the IPMI event logs and saw multiple correctable memory ECC errors:

 Correctable Memory ECC @ DIMM1A(CPU1) - Asserted
The kernel logs reported muliple Machine Check Architecture errors:

 MCA: Bank 4, Status 0xdc00400080080813 MCA: Global Cap 0x0000000000000106, Status 0x0000000000000000 MCA: Vendor "AuthenticAMD", ID 0x100f80, APIC ID 0 MCA: CPU 0 COR OVER BUSLG Source RD Memory MCA: Address 0x5462930 MCA: Misc 0xe00c0f2b01000000
At this point I could not even reboot remotely the server via IPMI. Also, I theorized that in addition to correctable memory ECC errors, maybe the DIMM experienced uncorrectable/undetected ones that were really messing up the OS but also IPMI. So I physically removed the module in "DIMM1A", and the server has been working perfectly well since then.

The reason these memory errors always happened on ada3 is not because of a bad drive or bad cables, but likely due to the way FreeBSD allocates buffer memory to cache drive data: the data for ada3 was probably located right on defective physical memory page(s), and the kernel never moves that data around. So it's always ada3 data that seems corrupted.

PS: the really nice combinatorial property of raidz2 with 6 drives is that when silent corruption occurs, the kernel has 15 different ways to attempt to rebuild the data ("6 choose 4 = 15").

9
RX14 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know for sure that btrfs scrub found 8 correctable errors on my home server filesystem last July. This is obviously great news for me. Contrary to a lot of people here I've personally found btrfs to be really stable (as long as you don't use raid5/6 though).
10
kev009 1 day ago 0 replies      
People grossly under-intuit the channel error rate of the SATA. At datacenter scale it's alarmingly high http://www.enterprisestorageforum.com/imagesvr_ce/8069/sas-s...
11
platosrepublic 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not a database expert, but this seems like something I should worry about, at least a bit. Is this a problem if you store all your persistent data in a database like MySQL?
12
lasermike026 1 day ago 2 replies      
Shouldn't RAID 1,5,6 protect against data corruption because of disk errors?
13
ksec 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, it is VERY real. Because no one gives a damn. Most people ( consumers ) would just ignore that corrupted Jpeg.

I am in the minority group that gets very frustrated and paranoid when my Video or Photos gets corrupted.

Synology has Btrfs on some range of their NAS. But most of them are expensive.

I really want a Consumer NAS, or preferably even Time Capsule ( with two 2.5" HDD instead of one drive ) with built in ZFS and ECC Memory, by default weekly scrub drive. And alert you when there is problem.

And lastly, do any of those consumer Cloud Storage, OneDrive, DropBox, Amazon, iCloud have these protection in place? Because I would much rather Data Corruption be someone else problem then complexity at my end.

14
blablabloe 13 hours ago 2 replies      
The story here is not how Silent Data Corruption is real.The story is that somebody did a bad home brew server build and fucked up.

So ZFS protects against end-user mistakes.

I was really hoping about a story on some large-scale study on silent data corruption, but no, just an ankedote.

Sad!

:D

15
meesterdude 1 day ago 2 replies      
interesting find! I wonder what would be a good safeguard to this. I feel like just backing up your data would offer something - but a file could silently change and become corrupted in the backup too.
16
dredmorbius 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Data tends to corrupt. Absolute data tends to corrupt absolutely."

In both sense of the word.

Many moons ago, in one of my first professional assignments, I was tasked with what was, for the organisation, myself, and the provisioned equipment, a stupidly large data processing task. One of the problems encountered was a failure of a critical hard drive -- this on a system with no concept of a filesystem integrity check (think a particularly culpable damned operating system, and yes, I said that everything about this was stupid). The process of both tracking down, and then demonstrating convincingly to management (I said ...) the nature of the problem was infuriating.

And that was with hardware which was reliably and replicably bad. Transient data corruption ... because cosmic rays ... gets to be one of those particularly annoying failure modes.

Yes, checksums and redundancy, please.

17
hawski 1 day ago 0 replies      
That gives me more reasons to experiment with DragonFly BSD by building a NAS using HAMMER file system.
18
greenshackle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Uh. My ZFS-backed BSD NAS also has the hostname 'alexandria'.
19
_RPM 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just like data black markets.
20
h2hn 1 day ago 1 reply      
I started a really simple and effective project the last month to be able to fix from bitrot in linux(MacOs/Unix?). It's "almost done" just need more real testing and make the systemd service. I've been pretty busy the last weeks so I've only been able to improve the bitrot performance.

https://github.com/liloman/heal-bitrots

Unfortunatly, btrfs is not stable and zfs needs a "super computer" or at least as much GBs of ECC RAM as you can buy. This solution is designed to any machine and any FS.

26
Linting HTML using CSS bitsofco.de
321 points by basename  2 days ago   49 comments top 15
1
nates 2 days ago 0 replies      
2
oneeyedpigeon 1 day ago 1 reply      
I toyed with something similar a few years ago, although didn't pursue it to this depth. One issue, though: border is definitely not the right way to highlight elements in this manner since it affects layout. I'd go with outline instead.
3
tannhaeuser 1 day ago 3 replies      
Soundly checking HTML, including all kinds of customization and more is possible using SGML.

[1]: http://sgmljs.net/blog/blog1701.html

4
SpaceManiac 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is a good choice of selectors, but I wonder what styles one should apply to <meta>, <script>, or <link> tags that will get them to actually display anything. Some fiddling in Firefox didn't reveal the solution.
5
bennettfeely 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a reason the * selector is needed on the first example or am I missing something? I believe [style] { } would get the same result.
6
yokohummer7 1 day ago 3 replies      

 a:not([href]) a[href="#"], a[href=""], a[href*="javascript:void(0)"] { }
Wait, what should I use instead then?

7
remy_luisant 1 day ago 4 replies      
Reminds me how some video games would use really garish default textures, so that the errors in texturing stand out.

I believe Thief 1 and 2 have done this, but I may be wrong.

8
jwdunne 1 day ago 0 replies      
Interesting idea though I think the best choice is a VLI linting tool configured to check these and editor integration.

You could also use JS and log the info to console. Last thing you want to do is this making its way into production and it probably will: sods law.

I just think the most efficient approach is to log violations to a console with exact line numbers.

9
lendk 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi guys i already made a github repo as a follow up from this article you can check it here: https://github.com/lendk/Lint-HTML-with-SCSS-CSS
10
nodesocket 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool trick. If interested, there is a node cli module which tests against W3.

 npm install html-validator-cli -g cd "$HOME"/Sites/mysite html-validator --verbose --file=index.html

11
grav 1 day ago 0 replies      
Inline styles are what keeps my React code maintainable :-)
12
jzig 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why isn't there an HTML linter in the same way there is ESLint for JavaScript?
13
5_minutes 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be nice if this was all bundled in some easy to include package
14
adzicg 2 days ago 3 replies      
broken XML leading to browsers applying inconsistent closing tags is a much bigger issue than missing attributes or inline CSS

this kind of linting can't spot broken document structure

15
combatentropy 2 days ago 4 replies      
If you have to apply CSS to find elements with inline styles, I think you have a more serious problem.

And telling everyone that every one of their images must have an alt tag is draconian. Sometimes an image is purely decorative. Sometimes an image doesn't convey any more than the paragraph beside it. Often an alt tag is written in a perfunctory way, or even when it isn't, it doesn't truly make things better for the blind person. I think they should be at the writer's discretion.

27
After CIA leak, Intel Security releases detection tool for EFI rootkits pcworld.com
224 points by pttrsmrt  3 days ago   56 comments top 13
1
trendia 3 days ago 3 replies      
No amount of EFI rootkit detection will ever remove the possibility that malicious code is running inside the Intel Management Engine (ME), because code inside the ME would run side-by-side with the bootloader and with unlimited permissions.

Unless Intel provides source code for the ME, it is impossible to 100% know whether unauthorized code is running.

2
sounds 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a better link (it is Intel's original blog post):

https://securingtomorrow.mcafee.com/business/chipsec-support...

It includes a few more details about what was released:

 It extracts EFI firmware from flash ROM memory automatically if the firmware file is not specified. We recommend generating an EFI whitelist after purchasing a system or when you are sure it has not been infected: # chipsec_main -m tools.uefi.whitelist -a generate Then check the EFI firmware on your system periodically or whenever you are concerned, such as when a laptop was left unattended:
...

An analysis of the approach they are taking would lead to some pretty easy improvements.

3
etiam 3 days ago 2 replies      
Finally some tools for this. Very good.Would this be the first reasonably doable method for extracting all the blobs? Seem like it must be a well-needed foundation to build on for security companies.

But...

 We recommend generating an EFI whitelist after purchasing a system or when you are sure it has not been infected
Not that I have a better suggestion, but with interdicted shipments and other vulnerable points along the supply chain before a system is in the care of its owner, it doesn't exactly seem like a sure bet that it's clean on arrival.How would one otherwise be "sure it has not been infected"? Any feasible ways?

Next step would be to provide lists of known good signatures from some controlled environment, or at least a consensus system to know whether the version one finds matches the version others have?

4
partycoder 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they also release System Management Mode (aka ring -2) rootkit detection tools.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_Management_Mode#Problem...

That in combination with the Management Engine are ways in which people have been disowned of their own machines.

5
mempko 3 days ago 4 replies      
And what if intel is compromised? Mass rootkit installation!
6
xvilka 3 days ago 1 reply      
This can be done manually using flashrom [1] tool to read (and write) the SPI (and not only SPI) flash and UEFITool [2] to unpack the corresponding image. I've even done some patching for better support of Intel platforms here [3]. Now doesn't have much time to rebase/cleanup/improve it, but hopefully someone will start from where I've finished. Both tools clearly need more love, and I hope current revelations will help to do that.

[1] http://flashrom.org/

[2] https://github.com/LongSoft/UEFITool/tree/new_engine (use 'new_engine' branch)

[3] https://github.com/XVilka/flashrom/tree/layout_descriptor (use 'layout_descriptor' branch)

7
ardaozkal 3 days ago 1 reply      
What does it mean to get this? https://s.ave.zone/066.png

[CHIPSEC] Modules failed 1:[-] FAILED: chipsec.modules.common.uefi.s3bootscript

8
bitmapbrother 3 days ago 4 replies      
Nice try CIA and Intel, but I'm not falling for this.
9
throwaway2048 3 days ago 0 replies      
does this code rely on UEFI interfaces to fetch this data? If so, cant the rootkit code just lie to it?
10
psyburr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why has Intel not released this tool before? EFI rootkits have always been a threat...
11
cmurf 3 days ago 1 reply      
Macs lack Secure Boot. This tools seems to be for non-Secure Boot computers. IF it's a Secure Boot system, rootkits aren't supposed to happen, and if they do then there's a hole somewhere that needs fixing.
12
bogomipz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know the attack vector for this root kit?
13
multinglets 3 days ago 0 replies      
Because Intel is totally on our side.
28
MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award mit.edu
281 points by rbanffy  2 days ago   157 comments top 39
1
saycheese 2 days ago 1 reply      
As someone that actively engages in disobedience it is disheartening that they'd award $250k to a single winner instead of $50k to five, $10k to twenty-five, etc.

So many people struggle to make a difference, no matter how small, and being honored for their efforts, when it's most likely that it rarely if ever happens in real life, would be inspiring to them to keep up what they're doing.

For those interested in reading about the original post covering in detail the thoughts behind the award, see this blog post:

https://joi.ito.com/weblog/2016/03/21/on-disobedience.html

2
toastednz 2 days ago 7 replies      
I've nominated Alexandra Elbakyan of sci-hub and encourage everyone else to do the same.

I'd also be happy if Aaron Swartz won!

3
slg 1 day ago 2 replies      
After reading the comments on this page, I am a little disheartened that apparently most people want to give what is basically a work grant to a dead guy. Regardless of what you think of someone like Aaron Swartz, there are plenty of people who are currently doing good work who could greatly benefit from something like this. Giving it to a dead person simply to make a political statement diminishes any impact this award could have.
4
glomek 2 days ago 3 replies      
It doesn't matter if Aaron Swartz is ineligible. We should still nominate him. We should nominate him so many times that granting the award to anyone else makes this award an obviously disingenuous publicity stunt.
5
YeGoblynQueenne 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see a lot of support for nominating Aaron Swartz on this page. Why not Chelsea Manning instead?

Consider this: her actions parallel Swartz's actions (she liberated information), except that they could potentially benefit many, many more people the world over; Swartz's disobedience would primarily benefit academics (though of course the benefits would sort of trickle down to the rest of the population, eventually).

Additionally, Chelsea Manning is alive, and would benefit from the award. Nominating Aaron Swartz post-humously seems to me like nothing more than an attempt to rub MIT's nose into its own mess ...except of course that the people involved with the award are not the people responsible for Aaron Swartz's treatment.

6
reachtarunhere 1 day ago 0 replies      
How about Alexandra Elbakyan who started sci-hub. Her work is pretty similar to Aaron's. I feel that by defying the rules sci-hub has really helped bring the cause of open-access to everyone's attention and we are all watching it change the system for good.
7
snsr 2 days ago 3 replies      
MIT was complicit in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz for seemingly qualifying activities.
8
curyous 2 days ago 2 replies      
Aren't these the people that failed to defend Aaron Swartz?
9
bluetwo 2 days ago 1 reply      
I appreciate the spirit of the award, however it seems to be coming from an odd place for an odd amount.

I'm not sure what part of the mission of the MIT Media Lab is really involved with rocking the boat. And 250k seems like a heck of a lot of cash to do this. 50k seems like a good amount. I would rather see 5 winners.

10
bane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I feel like a disobedience award should be met with a little disobedience. I'm not sure what all the chit-chat about rules and eligibility is around here, I've nominated Aaron Swartz -- fuck the rules.
11
iandanforth 2 days ago 0 replies      
I nominated Edward Snowden. I'm sure I wasn't the first.
12
aristus 2 days ago 2 replies      
Seems like a great way to catch a nasty case of conspiracy to commit a felony. The reason the Nobel committee can give an award to a political prisoner in another country is that they are in another country.
13
erinniehaus 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I nominate Fiskkit.com A new site which is a BS filter for news/online content and lets there be a discussion of an article or text that favors facts and logic. Kinda cool. Anyone can tag news article for true/false/bias and nine other things...democratizing civic engagement and disobedience by putting BS filter into hands of anyone. I know they are looking for help to try and root out the crap that passes for news and discourse online and get people more engaged.
14
justinclift 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wonder how many times Edward Snowden will be nominated? :)
15
slim 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why is this award not named after Aaron Swartz?
16
revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
Todays radical act of disobedience for me was disabling JavaScript on this site. Quelle surprise, it promptly broke and was all black, despite being literally a form.
17
Wonderdonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
White type on black background made my eyes disobey my wish to have functioning vision for about three minutes after I clicked away.
18
dominotw 1 day ago 0 replies      
> ethical disobedience

Isn't this ironic. Basically saying, Your disobedience must be obedient to our criteria of ethics. Isn't every disobedience unethical to someone?

Typical 'better than you' attitude of elites, we know what the best kind of disobedience is, based on our narrowly defined ideals.

19
perfmode 2 days ago 0 replies      
Remember Aaron.
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Mithaldu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ah good, another page that renders literally nothing without JS. Only this one is black instead of white.
21
holografix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Give it to the white helmets. They disobey their basic human survival instincts everyday.
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SagelyGuru 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is hard not to be cynical about this, coming from an organisation that called the cops on Aaron Swartz and let the attorneys hound him to his death.It looks like a belated PR exercise to ease their conscience or public image. If they at least named the prize after him, then it might come across as more genuine.
23
alexmlamb2 2 days ago 3 replies      
The winner is almost guaranteed to be a conformist, given that the organization selecting the winner is part of the dominant, mainstream power structure.

So expect the winner to be, paradoxically, someone who is completely obedient.

24
williamle8300 2 days ago 0 replies      
We're always going to remember Aaron Swartz...
25
sergiotapia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz should be declared the winner.
26
hxgb 2 days ago 0 replies      
Of course I'm nominating Ross Ulbricht
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ingenieros 1 day ago 1 reply      
How ironic that the page won't open because I'm running Privacy Badger on my browser.
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rubberstamp 2 days ago 0 replies      
A better name would've been TakeNoBullshit award. Because that is what which rots the world and Aaron tried to fight it to save others from being subjected to the same bullshit.

Like 2muchcoffeeman commented:

>>The award is clearly for people who are being disobedient for the benefit of society.Breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules is just anarchy or trolling. You're just inconveniencing people who set out to recognise real contributions to society.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13848430

29
ouid 1 day ago 0 replies      
How can a disobedience award be a thing? Aren't those concepts fundamentally incompatible?
30
nullnilvoid 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would vote for Julian Assange and Edward Snowden in a heartbeat.
31
ape4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds interesting but I disobeyed the [START] button.
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joelg 2 days ago 1 reply      
How are so many people bringing up Aaron Swartz? Media Lab !== MIT and this is probably entirely Joi's idea. And the MIT administration has changed significantly since 2013.
33
ldehaan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz
34
rrggrr 2 days ago 0 replies      
If Boaty McBoatface can win a ship naming contest with almost 130,000 votes, certainly Aaron Swarz can be nominated with 2x that number - win or lose.
35
mroll 2 days ago 0 replies      
Vote for Aaron Swartz
36
ehudla 1 day ago 0 replies      
Noam Chomsky.
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RcouF1uZ4gsC 2 days ago 5 replies      
I just nominated Donald J Trump. He has disobeyed all political conventions in regard to his election campaign and especially in regard to his relationship with the media. In fact, many people believe he has disobeyed the supreme law of the United States: the Constitution with regards to the emoluments clause and not having a religious test with regards to his immigration ban executive order. He has taken personal risk of failure and being the object of ridicule by tens of millions of people throughout the world.

In regards to what good he has done, he is ostensibly trying to make America great. Less controversially, it is agreed by virtually everybody that he has been the cause for dramatically increased political engagement by the complacent American population and has served to expose multiple vulnerabilities in the American political system especially with regards to Presidential powers, that many people assumed were not a threat to democracy.

38
suyash 1 day ago 2 replies      
The President is the most deserving winner of this award. Please vote for Donald Trump now.
39
jabgrabdthrow 2 days ago 0 replies      
Winner will be a sheep

"You are not being nuanced by calling them sheep, consider these perspectives on power structures"

Winner will be a sheep =]

I bet MIT will be very brave and give Swartz and Snowden prizes after they get permission from trump

29
A little-known iPhone feature that lets blind people see with their fingers yahoo.com
303 points by Tomte  2 days ago   106 comments top 22
1
james_pm 2 days ago 2 replies      
My daughter who has Fragile X Syndrome, has used an iPod touch for years now. She's 14, and reads at about a grade one level. Between the screen reader that will read articles, texts and almost anything else on the screen, and the predictive typing and dictation, the iPod is an incredible device for her.

She has an Android phone, but it's not even close in terms of the accessibility options provided. Apple is excellent in this regard.

2
joshaidan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I had a user once request that I add VoiceOver support to my app. I was surprised by how easy and simple it was to add it. If I recall correctly, it was just a few fields you have to fill out on your UI components. So once I learned how to use them, I always fill out to fields on future projects.
3
hackuser 2 days ago 2 replies      
When I see stories like this one, read here how good the accessibility is in iPhones, and read about how good their security is for end users, I don't understand why it's trendy to tear down Apple and Tim Cook.

What a great citizen of the IT community and the world. It would be a great loss if new management came in and decided that all of this wasn't profitable.

4
e28eta 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find VoiceOver handy while driving. I'm never doing anything complicated, but it's an awesome complement to Siri for getting things done with minimal distractions.

 - Easy to turn on/off with triple tap home button shortcut - Doesn't require looking at the screen at all - Double, two finger tap to play/pause podcast player or music - Automatically reads incoming notifications
I highly discourage trying to learn to use VoiceOver while driving. But if you're reasonably familiar with it (say, from testing iOS apps for basic compatibility), it can be useful.

5
conradev 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you're interested in learning more about VoiceOver, AppleVis is a great community resource for learning more about it: http://www.applevis.com

If you want to see more of it in action, you can check out the Apple Design awards, where VoiceOver engineers demo apps:

https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2015/103/ (36:30, disclaimer: I work on this app)

https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2016/103/ (55:45)

6
musesum 2 days ago 1 reply      
A friend is blind. The iPhone+voiceover is his primary means of conducting business. We've often talked about UX. Here's what I've learned:

Voiceover is currently an extra layer over a visual interface. So, it amplifies the gesture cost of a visual+touch UI.

After writing a NLP interface for a productivity app, I learned that most of the verbal interaction took less time the visual alternative. It didn't matter if you were sighted or blind. Fitt's law meant that navigating a visual+touch UI was too slow.

So, I'm now working on a verbal+touch UI. In that regard, voiceover users are power users.

7
bo1024 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is only tangentially related, but VizWiz[1] is an app developed by researchers to help blind people "see" objects around them.

The user takes a picture of the object with their phone and asks a query, and it is uploaded to a crowdsourcing platform (Mechanical Turk, I think) where workers answer the query, e.g. "What are the ingredients in this can of food?"

[1] http://www.vizwiz.org/

8
m1el 2 days ago 14 replies      
I have mixed feelings about this. On one side, I'm very happy for blind people being enabled by software and hardware.

On the other side, I'm concerned that people have to use proprietary software to enable their sight. I doubt that there is open source software for blind people of similar quality. Am I wrong? I hope there is such software.

What would RMS do if he had a choice between using a mobile phone with proprietary software to enable sight and remaining blind?

9
gcr 2 days ago 0 replies      
The iPhone is full of wonderful affordances like this for low-vision folks.

My favorite option I've discovered is the magnifier. When it's on, you can triple-tap the home button to open the camera and turn the iPhone into a little hand lens, even if it's locked. The shutter button doesn't save the picture; it just freezes it (with some fancy optical stabilization) so you can pinch and zoom even further with your fingers. This is more convenient than swiping around on the lock screen to open the ordinary camera.

It's really helpful to read signs and restaurant menus. Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Magnifier.

10
Tomte 2 days ago 2 replies      
I love that part: "And heres the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phones battery lasted forever."
11
djhworld 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's a bit in the video that displays the guys emails, and then a list of phone numbers from his missed call list. Hopefully he gave consent for that to be shown on camera?

Anyway, it's really cool how well the VO stuff seems to work on Apple devices, including OSX. A lot of companies tend to just do the bare minimum to meet regulatory code.

12
mariusc23 2 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what the story of accessibility is like for React Native apps? Hope it's not as sad as it generally is on the web. I imagine it's about as good as native apps, but curious if anyone knows specifics.
13
lima 2 days ago 0 replies      
Blind friend of mine uses it all the time. Has a navigation app that tells him the distance to certain waypoints, it's fascinating.

Allows him to do a lot of stuff that wasn't possible before.

14
Sir_Cmpwn 2 days ago 0 replies      
There was a cool talk at HOPE 2016 about this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoevABNU5DI&list=PLcajvRZA8E...

15
WalterBright 2 days ago 2 replies      
It would be cool to have a device that instead of pixels, had bumps that raise up or down. Point the phone's camera at a scene, and you can 'see' the scene with your finger.
16
WalterBright 2 days ago 4 replies      
This is a very nice feature. I soon found a bug in it, though. It wouldn't read PDF files in iBooks. PDF support always seems to be a sorry stepchild in every operating system.
17
twunde 2 days ago 0 replies      
Things like this make me simultaneously excited to be a dev and disappointed that I'm not working on something as life changing as this.
18
bm98 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a web developer, I wonder if this class of accessibility functionality renders the web accessibility guidelines [1] obsolete? Many of the guidelines have to do with organizing content and following rules that make it easier for older (inferior) screen readers to handle. But I just enabled this feature on my iPhone, and browsed some sites that I know are ridiculously noncompliant, and it handled them beautifully. Even guidelines having to do with describing photos and avoiding text in images could be rendered obsolete with some of the third-party apps that perform OCR and use AI describe photos.

[1] https://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/wcag

19
RobMurray 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know of an HN client that works well with Voiceover?
20
wingerlang 2 days ago 0 replies      
I tried it out a while ago and it's really easy to use. I can definitely see how someone using it day in and day out are really speedy with it.
21
zakki 2 days ago 2 replies      
Idea:Haptic feedbac mimicking braille characters.
22
Tajnymag 2 days ago 3 replies      
I feel like Google Talkback can do basically the same with. You hover over the screen and Talkback tells you, what's underneath your finger. It can even notifications out loud. I would even go that far and say that it can do at least 90% of what VoiceOver can.

Yes, it might not work magically in every app, but with a good choice of apps, a blind person should be able to do most of the normal activities.

If I'm wrong, please, let me now.

30
Both geniuses and madmen pay attention to what others ignore nautil.us
241 points by lingben  2 days ago   192 comments top 24
1
sverige 2 days ago 23 replies      
Every time I read one of these articles about genius and madness, I become smug for a little while, then I get depressed because I realize that I haven't accomplished anything noteworthy, then I'm mildly reassured because occasionally my wife will spontaneously aver (contrary to all expectation) that I am a genius, then I get distracted and start chasing some ideas, then I get depressed again because, well, shit, I still haven't accomplished anything that anyone but my wife knows about, and anyway these ideas I chase are very interesting but once I've figured it out, I am satisfied and don't share it with anyone, because I don't really give a shit about becoming known as a genius, if I even am (which I doubt seriously).

Then, as a general rule, I start drinking if I have no obligations for the evening. Thankfully this evening I started drinking before I read this, so I can skip all the other stuff and just enjoy this awful feeling as I contemplate several of my friends who have accomplished things, and one of whom is actually a genius, unlike me.

Edit: Thank goodness for whisky. (Did I mention that I predicted Trump's victory back in August 2015? I'm pretty good at political predictions.) (No, I don't vote, and my predictions don't imply endorsement. All politicians suck, even those who aren't (or weren't) politicians.)

Also, if I ever accomplish anything noteworthy, I will let you poor HN comment readers know immediately.

2
vxxzy 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm surprised Hemmingway was used as an example in this piece. He did believe he was being monitored or 'stalked' by the FBI. His wife/family did have him subjected to electro-shock therapy. Wasn't it later proven that Hemmingway was followed and 'harrassed' by the FBI?
3
CuriouslyC 2 days ago 5 replies      
Truthfully, I've found that the real difference in intelligence between people isn't so large as many people think it is. People don't generally come along and solve "intractable" problems because they're so much smarter than all the people who've tacked the problem prior to them. Instead, they approach the problem in a way that is fundamentally different. This is why outsiders are so frequently the people who make major breakthroughs in a field, and "genius" is correlated with eccentricity.
4
Pica_soO 1 day ago 0 replies      
The pattern-matching gone haywire visible in schizophrenia, applied in mild dosages on principles not related is in my opinion the secrect ingredient that allowed in the early days of science for the "genius" myth to occur.

So madmen might be usefull- but not all the time, and not in all situations. The true art in project managment is to keep the madmen around against all resistence ("That guy is constantly reinventing the wheel"), prevent the usual specialization silos from walling off against this and get a stuck project to "shift gears" as in, temporarily withdraw the usual project-management ("We need fast, easy solutions- not something custom made") - and get the recombined stuff at least discussed.

5
taneq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Well, they do say that the only way to distinguish genius from madness is by observing the results.
6
dkarapetyan 1 day ago 2 replies      
Evolution is probably the worst way to design anything and yet all of biology is driven by it. It is basically a random walk that just flips bits and every so often it is inevitable that some of those flipped bits will have something to do with the brain's default networks and modes of operation. But I think genius is an unstable optimum and things inevitably slide downhill. There is no such thing as heritable genius, crazy or otherwise.
7
rhizome 2 days ago 2 replies      
This seems quite all over the place and I'm not sure what the point was. Was it that sometimes mental illness and creativity are coincident? Everything else seemed like a bunch of worldbuilding.
8
fritzw 2 days ago 1 reply      
The article attacks the idea that genius is normal, and it maybe suggests that it would be hard to be normal and genius.

Taking the title at face value, Your not a genius if you think you are. I will say that dealing with people who don't have basic math, science, logic, physics, chemistry and philosophy understanding it's pretty easy to convince yourself that your both genius and crazy.

9
Psychthowaway 2 days ago 9 replies      
As a public figure, it wasn't worth burning my reputation to type this out, but I think that speaks to the state of discourse around mental health today.

The article is uses the word "psychopathology" which is a general term for the study of mental disorders. However I want to talk specifically about Psychopathy as a disorder, because I recently came to understand that I am a psychopath. My guess is that there are probably a bunch of psychopaths reading this too that don't even realize what they are.

I also scored in the "Genius" level on IQ tests in middle school (whatever the hell those are worth), and have made a non-trivial creative dent in the world.

The challenge is that, for the average person, if you hear "psychopath" or "sociopath" all you think is murderers and rapists. While most institutionalized (ie. caught) murderers and rapists do fit that profile, 90% of sociopaths are out there in the world and struggling to fit in. In fact almost half of CEOs would fit the diagnosis: Lack of empathy, remorse or guilt. Because that's all it is, it's not based on behavior (even though that is usually part of a formal diagnosis).

I have gone through my whole life with what in retrospect feels like a handicap that I have to make up for in every way. Not being able to feel empathy, remorse, guilt etc... means that every movie that the whole crowd is in tears at, every funeral of a family member, you are basically saying to yourself "What is with all these emotional people?" When relationships deteriorate because the best way you know how to deal with people is to act like you care, to manipulate them to thinking you care and then when the "mask of sanity" slips temporarily it blows your whole life apart.

Therein lies the rub, cause there is no sympathy there, and you know if you reveal who you are you won't get any breaks, because you are seen as a predator. So you spend your whole life studying people to see how they respond in certain situations so that, like a robot, you can try and emulate them - and because you're so smart you can actually pull it off. Genius level sociopaths/psychopaths look like the best of us because it takes that level of intellect to play a character 24 hours a day without taking a break.

And you don't reveal yourself - because what would the benefit be? You don't get a chance to be yourself because who you are is broken and ugly. So you continue to play the game and get into higher and higher stakes. You start to run a company, maybe even a big one with thousands of employees, you get married, have children etc...and your ability to manipulate and control just get wider and wider. And you see that your contemporaries are also psychopaths, so you think, well I guess that's what it takes to make a big impact. So your goals and ambitions, those "delusions" get bigger as you accomplish the "delusions" you previously had and see that you can accomplish a lot that others can't.

This is something that needs to be discussed because from where I stand, it's pretty clear that psychopaths like me "rule the world." It's not from a place of malice or hate though, but adaptation and if we can have that conversation and we can start to recognize and cope with psychopathy then I think everyone would be better off. It's tiring as hell to live this life.

10
epalmer 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Instances such as these have led many to suppose that creativity and psychopathology are intimately related.

I wonder if this is true is that why some think that using psychedelics have helped them see the world from different perspectives and be creative in their work world?

11
geoka9 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think the fact that this submission is on the first page is pretty damning of the community ;)
12
Mendenhall 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I pondered if I was a genius I realized the list of things I will not know will always be vastly larger than that which I do. Anyone swathed in that much ignorance cant be a genius IMO. To me its a battle to be less ignorant.
13
baron816 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is the rate of mental illness really any higher among those deemed genius than in the general population? I doubt it. Lots of people have mental illness, it's bound that some of those will do great things.
14
dennis_jeeves 1 day ago 0 replies      
A corollary to this is that the regular masses have somewhat collectively the same delusions.
15
erikbye 1 day ago 0 replies      
There was never a genius without a tincture of madness-Aristotle
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known 1 day ago 0 replies      
"We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about." -Einstein
17
zghst 2 days ago 0 replies      
I believe I'm crazy but far from a genius...
18
dredmorbius 1 day ago 0 replies      
Creativity, a component of genius, and problem solving (likewise) are of themselves both in part skills and not necessarily some innate talent.

I've been poking around the Skills and Creativity pages on Wikipedia for the past few days, as well as their references, looking at the state of art and understanding of these topics.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's five-phase model of creativity seems pretty accurate: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, elaboration. (Creativity: Flow and the psychology of discovery and invention).

I'm also quite captivated by Liane Gabora's "honing theory", which ... gets into a whole mess of areas: world models, systems theory, epistemology, evolution, communications theory, and more. I've only just run across it but it's quite exciting, as is much the rest of her work (bio page with links below).

Another element I'm finding useful is to have a useful concepts and interests capture system, for which I've gone retro: 4x6 index cards and a series of file boxes. The immediacy, free-form nature, adaptability, and physicality of the system make it hugely useful (my HN user submissions history includes a link to a POIC, "pile of index cards", data management system). And the list of people who've relied on index cards, starting with Carl Linneaus who invented the damned idea, is pretty impressive. (I particularly recommend John McPhee's essay, "Structure".)

I've known researchers myself who've used the method and am coming to understand its merits. And yes, search and grep are challenges, but the review such attempts trigger seems to be a more-than-ofsetting advantage.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/creativity-the-psychology-of-...

https://people.ok.ubc.ca/lgabora/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creativity

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skill

19
koolba 2 days ago 2 replies      
While not every crazy person I know is a genius, every genius that I know is crazy.

Pretty sure people that know me would place me in at least one of those categories as well.

20
mkempe 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only a madman would see fundamental commonality between genius and insanity. This mis-integration is on a par with a theory grouping cigars, the aura of saints, and the moon -- they're all round.
21
charles-salvia 1 day ago 1 reply      
As much as some of us might feel some misguided excitement over the idea of being some kind of tech savvy Hannibal Lecter, the reality is that there is no real correlation between psychopathy and intelligence (perhaps even a negative correlation.)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16178679

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23551975

http://www.soc.iastate.edu/staff/delisi/Hannibal%20Lecter%20...

In other words, psychopathic people aren't necessarily smarter. In fact, contrary to the Hollywood idea of the "super-intelligent serial killer", most actual serial killers were basically kind of idiots who got caught in stupid ways, with a few notable exceptions.

It's also hard to read anything Einstein (an actual genius) wrote and conclude the man was bereft of warmth and empathy.

22
funthree 1 day ago 0 replies      
Please quit judging upward. How many thousands of years have geniuses been hounded by those with smaller brains? How many great sorcerers, magicians, electricians and plumbers have been lost because of this thing where people think they have the right to speak confidently and negatively of men who are of higher caliber?

Maybe geniuses are kooky because of how outnumbered they are by irrational people? Or something else like that.

23
ikeboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is sad that the state of statistical knowledge is so low that the third and forth paragraphs are necessary.
24
trentmb 1 day ago 2 replies      
       cached 14 March 2017 04:11:01 GMT