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On average, skipping college and investing tuition costs nets a higher return erikrood.com
713 points by qwerty2020  1 day ago   608 comments top 108
habitue 1 day ago 11 replies      
I think a lot of people are looking at this as "maybe this article is offering advice" instead, the way I'm looking at it is this is giving us a rough quantification of what we all know intuitively: that college is so expensive it's reaching a natural ceiling.

The way this manifests in reality isn't millions of people all doing a cost/benefit calculus like this and coming to the rational conclusion they can skip college. What happens is that slowly, the meme that "Jim went to college and he doesn't seem better off" seeps into the collective consciousness. More and more people start running into this evidence, and reconsider mortgaging the house (figuratively) to send their kids to college, and the upward pressure on college tuition starts to lessen.

After a while this meme that college is a tradeoff becomes well established, and it becomes common knowledge that you think hard about it before you send your kid to college. The underlying reason is something like "You can make a better return in principle investing in the S&P" but the way it becomes a force in the real world is by a collective bayesian reasoning process we all engage in as a society.

krakensden 1 day ago 14 replies      
As a culture, we really need to stop telling 17 year olds to not worry about money, go to college, and figure something out. There is always someone ready with a romantic appeal to a classical education, and it is so frustrating for me.

Wasting four years is a huge cost. Years, decades of debt is a huge cost. Going to college with no plan about money? The costs are assured.

Plus, the degrees people are actually getting aren't necessarily worth all that much to the educational romantics. Business administration is what it is.

sillysaurus3 1 day ago 9 replies      
How do you skip college and invest the tuition in the S&P 500?

Ah, you can't: Of course, lenders won't give out large loans for an individual to skip college and dump tuition into the stock market, this is just a hypothetical scenario.

So this article is unrealistic.

splitrocket 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Probably the mostdangerous thing about college education, at least in my own case, is that itenables my tendency to over-intellectualize stuff, to get lost in abstractarguments inside my head instead of simply paying attention to what'sgoing on right in front of me. Paying attention to what's going on insideme. As I'm sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alertand attentive instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologueinside your own head. Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come2gradually to understand that the liberal-arts clich about teaching you howto think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea:Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some controlover how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enoughto choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you constructmeaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind ofchoice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old clich aboutthe mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like manyclichs, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a greatand terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults whocommit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head.And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long beforethey pull the trigger. And I submit that this is what the real, no-bull- valueof your liberal-arts education is supposed to be about: How to keep fromgoing through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead,unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default-setting ofbeing uniquely, completely, imperially alone, day in and day out."

David Foster Wallace: This is Waterhttp://www.metastatic.org/text/This%20is%20Water.pdf

whyenot 1 day ago 5 replies      
Tuition at a California State University is only $5,472 a year. That is pretty darn close to free. Many other state schools have low tuition. Nearly 500,000 students in California attend a CSU. Almost twice as many students as attend a UC school. Yet, in these kind of analyses, these low cost state schools always seem to get the shaft when in fact they educate a tremendous number of students at very low cost.


tvural 1 day ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of Robin Hanson's criticism of medical spending - exercise and diet are much better predictors of health than money spent on healthcare, meaning that there's a large amount of waste in the system. I suspect something similar here, the amount of money people spend on education is uncorrelated from what they get out of it. The other factors, like whether you went to a top school and what you did in college dominate the ROI. There is a tendency to treat education as an insurance policy, where all you have to do is buy in, and you are somehow protected from falling through the cracks in society. It seems that college as an insurance policy has stopped working if it ever did work, and it exposes a fact that's somewhat uncomfortable, you can't just pay these colleges money to have your career set, you have to figure out what to do yourself.
adpoe 1 day ago 1 reply      

Just like the stock market, college is also an investment. There is risk involved.

One of the main problems is that this is NOT communicated well. (If it all.)

Too many people take on huge long-shot risks that are unlikely to pay off.

Yes, if you get an English degree and become a professional writer selling books and screenplays at $1MM a pop -- that's an awesome and incredible gig. But not many people can get it. The $30k - $150k for that degree is a very risky investment.

On the other hand, spending $30k for a degree in engineering, CS, physics, math, etc... is much less risky. And it's a better investment. However--even in this case--maybe it's not worth the extra $100k for a private college. Maybe Big State U is good enough, and a safer bet with similar outcomes.

When I first went to college, everyone around me said: "it doesn't matter what you major in, just get a degree and you'll be fine." They were wrong. It doesn't work that way anymore (if it ever did).

Communicating this risk/reward tradeoff, and what it means for one's future, is the source of most college-related money problems.

---Personal anecdote: I have a CS degree, but started out in a liberal arts discipline. So those experiences form my opinions.

fastaguy88 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This article, and the one it cites, have two serious flaws:(1) Their "ROI" for college is based on some average of high-school earnings. But average high-school only earnings is the wrong number. We don't care about what 50-65 year-old union employees with a high-school education are getting today, we care about earnings over the next 20 years for today's high-achool, non-college, graduate. That number is dropping, as the number of good paying high-school only jobs decreases. Jobs that a generation ago only required a high-school education now want college (deservedly or not).

(2) The distribution of ROI is based on numbers of institutions, not numbers of graduates. There are far more students graduating from large, cheaper, public schools than Harvard or Princeton, but there are many more small private schools in the distribution of costs. But ROI is not based on a distribution of graduates, it is based on a distribution of schools.

While it does not make sense to take out large loans to finance poor-paying occupations, and it certainly makes more sense to spend less money on college, these articles are very misleading.

Houshalter 1 day ago 0 replies      
This ignores selection effects. The kinds of people that go to college would probably earn more even if they didn't go to college. It's confusing correlation and causation.

Even if college does increase earnings some, there's societal effects. If we eliminated all college education, employers wouldn't be able to rely on that as certification. And so you wouldn't have to compete against that if you chose not to go to college.

dsjoerg 1 day ago 2 replies      
This article doesn't explain why we should believe that stockmarket performance, going forward, will be anything like the S&P's performance from 1993 to now.

It's also not clear why we should believe the Payscale College ROI figures. I clicked around a bunch and couldn't find any description of their actual methodology for computing it. In particular, before we can take it seriously we need to know how well they've done at estimating the true counterfactual earnings of people who could have gone to University X but did not. And that's really hard to do! (Without multiple universes handy)

iron0012 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is a massive body of existing literature (the kind that's published in peer reviewed journals) examining the returns to education. A lot of that research, maybe most of it, suggests that going to college is a very, very good idea financially.

PLEASE, before you let a blog post dictate your position on this issue--and certainly before you recommend to an impressionable 17-18 year old that they not go to college--take the time to properly educate yourself.

IanCal 13 hours ago 0 replies      
An enormous missing part of this seems to be that you are comparing the "return" of something that pays annually and a lump sum result at the end of the 20 years.

You'd need to compare it to an investment where you're also withdrawing the difference with the higher salary per year. Or, equivalently for this, have the extra money earned paid into investments each year.

Really, part of what this is doing is comparing invested money to non-invested money.

Edit - for a quick figure, let's assume you're getting the equivalent of a 4% annualised return on a $100k investment. That means you're earning $219k over the 20 years more, for simplicity I'm going to assume that's an even $11k each year. Our 7% example would be $507k over 24 years, invested all up front.

Instead of $219k, we're actually at $480k.

The two line up once you hit roughly 22 years in the workforce, at 23 you're slightly ahead. By 40 years of working, investing upfront is $400k behind, at a little over $2.3M vs ~$1.9M

A way of phrasing the question to ignore working / etc, is which works out better

$X invested at $Y as a lump sum.

$Z invested each year at $Y.

The question the article appears to ask is the better of

$X invested at $Y as a lump sum.

$Z kept as cash each year.

thefourthchime 1 day ago 3 replies      
TL;DR; Didn't go to college, at first people thought it was a liability, but after working my way up people are blown away.

Here is my experience:

Dad got a masters in Math, couldn't get a job, became a Taxi driver and then took 6mo of community college and got a job writing BASIC in the mid 1980s.

Dad didn't encourage me to go to college, I was a bad student, but taught myself coding and really liked it. Had a C average in high school.

Got a job at the small company my dad worked at, got paid $7 an hour, then $14 an hour the next year.

Decided I needed to go to college to really make it, put my resume out for fun. Got an offer for $65k to work at Microsoft via a recruiter. This was in 1998.

Been working since, learning, making contacts. I make $180k with bonuses now at a Fortune 100 company, I could work into upper management as many have, but I like coding, hate email, hate meetings. I have a Director title.

When people hear that I don't have a college education they are blown away.

cperciva 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's even worse than that: Colleges draw their applicants from a pool who are likely to earn above-average incomes to begin with.
GCA10 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a provocative but deeply misleading calculation. It assumes that our no-college-S&P-investor is a stoic enough soul to live on truck drivers' wages for 24 years, so that the stock market can do its magic, before collecting what genuinely would be a giant windfall.

That's really hard to imagine. Missing out on the more robust income of a college graduate in your late-20s and early-30s means making sacrifices in terms of the clothes you wear, the vacations you take, the car you drive, the type of person who's likely to marry you; your dental care; your children's schooling, etc., etc.

The temptation to start plucking out money from the S&P honeypot -- in the name of having a better life -- would be fierce. Nothing wrong with that. But if that big knot of savings is used to help pay for a better standard of living at age 25, or 29, or 34, then that means settling for a zero or negative return for that segment of money going forward. Goodbye to the fabled 7.1%.

Bear in mind, too, that the stock market doesn't deliver 7.1%, year after year, with the happy predictability of a government bond. If your start year was 1999 ... and you waited 10 years to see how you were doing, you'd be looking at about a 30% drop in your portfolio. (You would have caught both the dot-com mess and the bankster mess.) http://www.multpl.com/s-p-500-historical-prices/table/by-yea...

It's easy, with hindsight, to say: "Just wait it out." But at the time, the pressure to get out of stocks is intense. And the anxiety about having bet your lifelong well-being on a market index going haywire would be excruciating.

roguecoder 1 day ago 1 reply      
I do notice that this doesn't take into account race and gender. The premium White and Asian men get from a college degree are higher than for any other group (citation: http://images.dailykos.com/images/125386/large/wage_gap_race...) This could be true for some people but not others, in predictable ways.
heynk 1 day ago 1 reply      
Definitely an interesting thought experiment. This article assumes 7.1% annually, and gets that by choosing an arbitrary start and end date of stock returns. In reality, it seems to be more like ~4%, which makes this conclusion much different.


Alex3917 1 day ago 1 reply      
Skipping all of school has even higher returns. If you just invested all the money that would normally go to pay for your K-12 school and college each year, then by age 25 or so you'd have enough money to retire.

The problem is that even if your parents home school you, they're generally not allowed to just not pay millage.

avallark 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The cornerstone of this statistical conclusion is that you will invest the money you will use for college, however the fact is if you try and loan out the money that you need to go to college for any other purpose, that loan will be a lot more expensive that what you would get from a student loan. Also, the chances of you getting that loan is slim.

If you already have that kind of money with you and you are going to invest you own money for college then these arguments have a little more statistical weight. However, if you have that kind of money, you are probably already rich and wealthy at which point, you already have a good business/income and this delta that you would invest into that business will not yield you significantly more income than what you already have. At this point, its still better to go get a college degree.

alkonaut 1 day ago 1 reply      
First of all, instead of going all the way to free higher education in one go, try a better loan system.

Basically since educated youth is a national interest, set up an authority that lends money to students with very reasonable interest rates and repayment.

Interest rate can be set at the inflation level plus a small margin, repayment is set as a fraction of annual income, and the loans should not count against future credit. Remaining debt at 65 is written off and absorbed by the public.

This is how I funded my education (or rather, the rent/food/books as there was no tuition).

ChuckMcM 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The analysis has a huge gap in that it looks only a pay differences and not at employment differences. The pay gap is large (37K vs 71K) [1] and the unemployment gap is over 2 percentage points [2]. Being unemployed for 6 months wipes out most of the nominal 'gain' by investing your tuition in equities. (and of course it depends on when you invest etc etc).

[1] https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_education_summary.htm

[2] https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

bhouston 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some jobs are only accessible with a college degree (dental hygenist, etc.) If you didn't have a college degree you couldn't get access to those jobs and you then may have a more competitive job market for those jobs that do not require a college degree. Thus without college there would be more people in the bottom pool of job seekers thus increasing competition and likely lowering wages in that bottom pool, and it will likely raise the wages of those who do have college education when they are seeking jobs that require that degree.

It sort of seems like we have too many educated people and not enough good jobs that require that education. That seems like the fundamental problem.

whiskers08xmt 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder how different the ROI is between college degrees. I could see a large number of degrees having practically no ROI, compared to just entering the labor market, while others will be more substantial.
soup10 1 day ago 0 replies      
If that isn't evidence for capitalism being a joke I don't know what is. By all means go to college, get an education, all so vultures can use your brain to enrich themselves while paying the minimum.

To say nothing of the finance industry which has made an art of skimming off the top.

lazyjones 20 hours ago 1 reply      
- educated people live longer (Harvard study etc. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/educated-people-live-longe...)

- the S&P is possibly driven by people who went to college and started companies; if nobody did that, where would it be?

- average results tell the individual nothing about his/her best choice, so the headline is a bit detrimental. There are successful UHNW entrepreneurs both with and without college degrees and plenty of unsuccessful people with college degrees

- note that Payscale uses median pay to calculate ROI from colleges; all extremely successful people with very high incomes are not reflected in the data.

rsp1984 1 day ago 0 replies      
This whole discussion is very US-centric.

When looking beyond US borders it turns out you can have it both ways: Get a degree from a very good university without paying tuition fees (or at least not much).

For example in Germany international students can study basically for free. It's similar in other EU countries and the universities are typically much better than US state universities. I truly wonder why not more Americans are taking advantage of this.

prirun 15 hours ago 1 reply      
In 2007, the Fed balance sheet was $858B. From http://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/10/understand...:

"The Fed had assets worth $858 billion on its book in the week ended on Aug 1, 2007 just before the start of the financial crisis"

From http://www.investopedia.com/insights/how-will-fed-reduce-bal..., the Fed now has $4.5 TRILLION in assets. IOW, they have injected $3.6T into the economy by pushing buttons on computers to buy shit from banks so banks wouldn't have to keep them on their books and take risks.

These extra dollars have created inflation IMO, including higher college tuition. Just to get an idea of scale, M1, the US money supply, is $3.4T as of Apr 2017: https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/default.h...

rphlx 20 hours ago 0 replies      
One obvious issue with this post is that it uses historical S&P500 returns from a period of high performance. To be predictive, it would have been helpful to also examine expected future returns for the next 10-20 years, which are generally considered to be lower (based on valuation metrics such as mkt cap to GDP, P/B, CAPE10, etc). To put a number on that, perhaps 4-6% nominal, instead of 7%+ from 1993-2017.

It would have been helpful to model tax effects as well. Those generally do favor investment over labor, but with a positive first derivative (the top US cap gains tax rates are rising much faster than labor rates, e.g. from 15% to 23.8% from 2012 to 2017).

davismwfl 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not saying anyone going to college isn't good (I have a son going to college now). But frankly is this really surprising?

I have known this for years. I have a college education but NEVER advertise it because it has absolutely ZERO to do with my career. And I rarely have told anyone that I graduated. Even straight out of school I relied on my capability not an education and that capability got me a better job offer at a higher salary then I could have reasonably expected if I claimed a new grad.

Not saying school is bad or not worthwhile, there are things I wish I would've taken the time to learn earlier but the reality is at some point it becomes useless compared to if you can do the job. When I hire, I absolutely never care about the education except that if you have one I expect certain answers that if you have experience I wouldn't expect.

cbhl 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder how much of this is just a result of US tuition costs being out of control.

Does this analysis hold for coding bootcamps? What about Canadian colleges (say, Waterloo, Queens or Toronto)? What about community college? Restricted to only CS/EE degrees? Becoming a doctor? Does it account for the probability of dropping out of various college progams?

dingo_bat 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem is I don't have that money to invest. I'm going to take a loan, which is only available for college. So the choice becomes "don't go to college and earn zero" or "go to college with bank's $ and earn a nice salary later".
AstralStorm 20 hours ago 0 replies      
On average, US is the happiest country in the world. /s

Use proper statistics that are geared towards heavy tailed distributions which income adheres to.

A good start would be a median.

Not too mention pure ROI ignores the fact that on the stock market you lose everything, investing in education is supposed to result in intangibles like gasp better education and adaptability to the market. In other words, lower risk.

2% gain for risk of losing everything in one bad go is a bad deal.

Of course just like bad investments in the market there are also bad investments in education.

bcheung 11 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the other things that will start entering the social consciousness is that a lot of the information (lectures, books) is available online for free.

This is especially true for computer science / programming.

Unless you need hands on access to equipment or to physically interact with people for your chosen field of study, the college format is a very inefficient means learning.

The "Cone of Learning" states the best way to learn is (in order):

 - Teach others - Practice doing - Discussion - Demonstration - Audiovisual - Reading - Lecture
What does college do the most of? The last 2.

anovikov 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Good; it will result in only the people who are actually likely to make some benefit from the education to get one, not everyone who has money or wishes to get deeply in debt.

College education is not for everyone, it doesn't pay for the simple and stupid reason that you can't buy yourself better brains, or better personality traits. If lower fraction of people go to college, ROI will increase as these will be people better suited to benefit from education, it will also make prices fall due to natural law of supply and demand.

It is sad to see a ton of young people wasting best years of their lives for something which is of no benefit for them anyway. I did it too.

jondubois 1 day ago 0 replies      
Our economic system is currently over-delivering on solutions to simple problems and not delivering enough when it comes to solutions to difficult problems.

Instead of shifting their efforts towards solving difficult problems (to add value), companies today prefer to focus on already-solved simple problems and to focus on optimizing existing solutions (to capture value from competitors); what that means is that humans collectively spend more effort merely competing against each other (zero-sum games) instead of collaborating to create new value.

If companies don't invest more money into finding solutions to difficult problems, the skills required to solve those problems will lose value on the marketplace - And by association, the education required to attain those skills will also lose value.

damm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately he might have a good point; but the path he took doesn't really show it.

It would be more difficult because you should be looking at the cost of education; the average income of the person who has graduated.

Unfortunately you will need to do something for each skin color because they discriminate against minorities and other different variations. (Not being straight; too flamboyant, etc)

discrimination is a very big thing in America; lots of false sense of entitlement.

No need to call it racism; it's much bigger than that.

> Footnote; I have a form of Autism that makes lenders not want to work with me.

Happens in all shapes and forms. If you are a woman or if you are black; if you go to a Chinese banker you will have better luck as a asian or white person.

Something we need to work on; it's going to take hundreds of years and we need to keep at it.

Glyptodon 1 day ago 0 replies      
So... I know the author put a note about it being hypothetical, but I think it bears repeating: I don't believe that most of us who go/went to college would have anywhere near the means to invest what tuition costs if we chose not to attend. Which makes the premise seem only applicable to the wealthy.

I'm far from sold on the necessity of attending college, but befrickenbejeezus, if somebody can study engineering or computer science, get decent grades, and come out with a little debt, it's got to beat working multiple minimum wages jobs for the rest of their life.

dorianm 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Only ~10% of the ~1250 colleges listed on Payscale generate an average ROI higher than the 7.1% generated by foregoing college and investing that money

Most of anything is not great by definition :)

It's all really funny when schools like 42 are free (42 is a private university in France)

rllin 1 day ago 0 replies      
The price of milk and college tuition have diverged. The quality of neither have increased.

Milk is subsidized on the supply side while college tuition is subsidized on the demand side.

My biggest gripe with Bernie was his free tuition rant that was scant on details.

dkarapetyan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Went to community college then went to university for upper division classes. I'd say it was worthwhile investment and was pretty cheap.
hutch120 1 day ago 1 reply      
There is something seriously wrong with society when accountants run the world. Money is a tool, education provides long term wealth and stability. Providing fuel for people considering skipping collage is very short sighted.
nfriedly 1 day ago 0 replies      
The down side of this is that most kids are spending money they don't actually have - the loans are for college only, so investing it isn't an option.

I'm personally very grateful that I was able to graduate without any debt. Things that helped me included:

* Starting at a community college (2 years @ ~$3k/yr) then switching to a state school (3 years @ ~$10k/yr)

* Grants and scholarships that paid for around 1/3 of my costs

* Money from my parents (~$2k)

* Freelancing at $45/hr+

* Getting married (because the government stopped counting my parents money against me, and so I was eligible for more grant money)

theprop 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a huge, spirited discussion. There was a very similar discussion with many of the same points when child labor was outlawed and education was made mandatory a bit over 100 years ago.

All the points against college education made here...they just as easily apply to that case as well. So we should stop funding public schools, invest it in the S&P 500 and start letting 12 year olds maximize lifetime income by beginning professional life early?

Steeeve 1 day ago 1 reply      
Skip college, invest in stock market.

People love to chart out how great it is to invest in the stock market and how historically it generates great returns. Nobody seems to remember everyone around them losing enormous amounts of money whenever the economy tanks.

Where were all those 7.1% earnings going when the banks were getting bailed out and people were camping on wall street because their houses were foreclosed? Who pays that 7.1% that everybody wins every year? It must come from tax dollars if nobody is losing any money in the market. Or maybe so much money is being generated from all that business that everything is just dandy and there's more money than there used to be. Or maybe the big investment firms are just handing it out to everybody who participates in the market.

I don't know and I guess it doesn't matter. I should tell my kids to forget college and invest instead. They can learn about how it works as they go. Heck, high school is definitely more advanced than when I went. Maybe they teach kids how to invest now. It's so easy to make 7.1% every year that I'm sure the old shop teacher can cover it since they killed the shop program due to lack of funding. I guess the state didn't know that you just had to put your money in the market to have it grow 7.1% every year. Someone should let them know.

intrasight 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think the key phrase is "on average". If everyone invested in index funds instead researching and investing in individual companies, there would be no market to index. Likewise if everyone did the "average" thing with college - perhaps skipping it and banking the funds (in an index fund), there would be no higher education, and no new companies to bring to market.

The only thing worse than anecdotes when making a decision is averages.

luckydude 18 hours ago 0 replies      
"On average". That includes a bunch of degrees that, while perfectly fine, aren't going to generate a lot of money for most people. An english degree, in the hands of the right person, could make boatloads. For most people, it won't. The ROI for $200K+ english degree is awful.

On the other hand, a CS degree, robotics, genetics, biology (medical), any of those, again, in the hands of the right person, will far outpace the S&P, it has for me.

But I can't say it enough, the person needs to be

 a) motivated b) reasonably intelligent c) lucky
If that sort of person gets a degree and a masters or a PhD, I think the ROI can be better.

nibstwo 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is what I did. It worked well (for me). I would recommend it to someone like me. If you are smart and hard working, University or no University you will eventually be reasonably successful in the right circumstances. If you want to do something abstract, like invent or do business, it probably makes more sense to skip University. If you want to do something more professional or conventional, like engineering or medicine, you probably have to do University. For the most part, the implicated disparity is actually priced into jobs. Part of doctors income implicates paying off tons of debt and opportunity cost. Likewise, through compounding, hard work and networking, you can end up with the same net worth by other means. The key is to approach it in a self aware way. People rarely make any decisions on a purely rational basis, why start with University? University is easily reversible. Spend less time worrying about what major you take or college you attend. Spend more time worrying about being self aware, choosing a life partner and taking care of your physical and mental health.
leoplct 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As you have considered the cost of financing for your tuition you should consider the cost of financing for invest in the stock market.
cletus 1 day ago 0 replies      
The real problem here is the culture of telling people how amazing they are without them actually having achieved anything, which is really the basis for the negative views people have about millenials.

For example, the hordes of people who chase their dreams of becoming famous by acting, singing or, worst of all, just for being famous (aka the Kardashians). The dark side of all this pops up as many of these people get spit out. Some turn to drugs (I saw a show about meth usage in Hollywood and there were an awful lot of addicts of people who moved to LA to pursue their dream).

Not weighing up the cost of college is a big one. It's not that college has to have a positive ROI. There's something to be said for quality of life and the actual experience but still, we're asking 18 year olds to be realistic of how they'll pay for this eventually and that's a lot to ask of an 18 year old who has been told their entire life to follow their dreams and how amazing they are.

It's fair enough for something like this post to try and quantify the true cost of college but don't that having more money and working as a truck driver is not necessarily a better outcome for that person.

kebman 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems he gently skipped over the fact that getting a job is supposed to be easier if you have college. Thus he would have to take into consideration all those people who can't get a job without it, or who would have to accept sub-par employment with low pay.

Suppose also that you will only do well in College, and thus be elligible for those well-paying jobs afterwards, if you already did very good at primary school. If we suppose that only pupils with high grades from primary school can "make it" with College, then that would also be another point that I think the article explored only weakly.

brians 1 day ago 0 replies      
Its making some assumptions that don't seem right, accounting for people having safety nets, minimum livable standards, and (for ages 16-66) more sweat-equity to invest tomorrow. If all that money's going into the stock market, compounding, how do you eat? Don't you put some of your higher salary on graduating into the market too?

How long will the no-college person spend unemployed, and will they bounce off bankruptcy?

somberi 19 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my nephews graduated from one of the Top-5 US universities with a B.S Degree in Computer science, last week. It costed him ~250K USD for the entire course (living expenses, all included). He got an offer from one of the Top-3 tech companies in the Valley and the salary he will be making, makes it possible for him to pay back the entire university expenses in 2-3 years.

This is just a small sliver, and I understand this is no way representative of university education. But in this small sliver, it seems like University education is amazing in the value it offers, purely in a dollar sense.

carrja99 1 day ago 0 replies      
Today this is true more than ever with easy access to tutorials, training videos, etc. What people really need post-high school is a mentor who either is willing to take them under their wing or give them guidance on how to pursue their career.

For me, I feel if I had discovered the many mailing lists and irc channels that learned through in high school instead of college I could have saved five years of my time.

totony 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I just graduated college and I tell all my friends not to go to higher education since 2 years, I dont think any of them listened to me...
moultano 1 day ago 0 replies      
No mention of discount rate? I don't think wages appreciate competitively with the stock market, so time preference strongly biases this.
madsbuch 1 day ago 1 reply      
In Denmark the cost of a masters degree is negative 45487.64 USD (That is, you get paid). And so it should be (at least!) in all countries.
knicholes 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Purely financially I can see how this applies to many people. There are other ways going to college benefits one's life "financially"that aren't directly visible, like improved health care and possibly a job that doesn't wear down your body so quickly (to save on medical expenses later).
pyrale 21 hours ago 0 replies      
This article neglects the fact that people don't get money to gamble.

Student loans are, along with home loans and a select few others, the only financial leveraging tools available regardless of one's background.

gbersac 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If you don't want to invest a lot of money in tuition and want to learn programation, I went to the 42 school which is free and it made me an excellent programmer : https://www.42.us.org/
ada1981 1 day ago 2 replies      
Consider an undergraduate program where ~150 people each contributed say $50,000 each to collectively buy a large parcel of land and create their own eco-regenerative village. That would be $7.5 MM dollars.

Over the course of a few years they would build micro-homes, permaculture farms, invent, build, hack, create art, take free online courses, host traveling scholars, incubate start-up ideas, etc. They'd be a self-sustaining techno-tribal commune.

After 4 years, they'd have the skills to live sustainably, work together, and would have basic food, shelter and community needs taken care of for the rest of their lives, and they would be free to invent, create art, do activist work, help other students boot up similar learning communities, travel among other similar villages the world over, etc.

jxub 1 day ago 0 replies      
I paid 35EUR for first year of CS here in Spain. Next ones will cost me ~1500EUR (no scholarship assumed). Pretty good deal even then though, to what adds up low cost of living.

Maybe get out of the US: Germany, Italy, France, Poland, Spain. Sometimes, the grass may be greener and costs/ROI better.

3stripe 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd like to hear Mr. Money Mustache's take on this.
alexchantavy 1 day ago 1 reply      
College and academia as a whole is meant for higher learning and knowledge - not necessarily to allow people to make more money. That many higher paying jobs require skills associated with a college education is a side effect.
AdamN 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I went to grad school in the middle of a startup. Probably cost me a million dollars. I learned so much, met great people, and met my future wife. I wouldn't have made a different decision any day of the week.
nikdaheratik 1 day ago 0 replies      
As someone who grew up from a poor background, I don't believe I was ever given the option of "investing" tuition costs. I did however get both academic and need-based scholarships to go to college. There really wasn't much cost-benefit analysis involved there.

Also, there's the larger question of whether good entry level jobs and investment opportunities are available at the same level if everyone were to start to put money into stocks, or whatever, at the same level they do for higher education. There is undoubtedly a ceiling on investment just as there is one for increased income for higher education.

mncolinlee 1 day ago 0 replies      
We should have a system more like what Thomas Paine advocated. The system he described sounds like Social Security, except it's not limited to retirees. He suggested that everyone 21 years old was due a "natural inheritance" for having been dispossessed of land and property which would offer a chance to succeed. Likewise, America should have scholarships available for anyone willing to work hard and learn. If college were free, ROI would be very high indeed.


hutch120 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is something seriously wrong with society when accountants run the world. Money is a tool, education provides long term wealth and stability. Providing fuel for people considering skipping collage is short sighted.
wwarner 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe college is too expensive -- maybe it's expensive because there is a very high demand for well educated people. In other words, in my field, computer science, you will meet very few immigrants without a hard won master's degree or better. They are paying premium prices for these degrees, and they are getting the jobs that come with them. You can't simultaneously argue that the job market is being divided by STEM knowledge and that learning about STEM is a waste of time.
jtcond13 1 day ago 0 replies      
These calculations seem fishy, for reasons stated above and others (e.g. why 20-year ROI? why exclude graduate degree holders?).

However, it is true that rising education costs are eating much of the ROI of attendance and lack of transparency has made it harder to see where that crossover point is.

But in a world in which the equity and college wage premiums are headed in the directions that they're headed, I would not give this advice to an intelligent 18-year-old.

nodesocket 1 day ago 0 replies      
Except that college is more about becoming an adult, making friends, some partying, meeting co-eds, and learning how to learn. The social benefits should not be downplayed.
ascendingPig 1 day ago 0 replies      
Another entry in the already-saturated genre of people who went to college but squandered the educational opportunity telling the rest of us that college is a waste.
seasonalgrit 1 day ago 0 replies      
if the subtext here is that university tuition is much higher than it should be, i agree. but the point of going to college isn't merely to achieve a monetary ROI.
sopooneo 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I have always assumed that going to college is not necessarily the ideal financial path for any particular individual, but rather that an educated populace is better for everyone. In other words, it is a collective good that "we" have a "liberal" education.

And I stand by by that assumption.

anothercomment 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Funny, as I have sometimes thought of going to college as a kind of counterargument to the efficient market hypothesis. Since going to college or not is an investment decision, it seemed that going to college is obviously the better decision. Except, apparently it isn't.
musikele 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I would suggest to US citizens to come in EU, study in the best colleges (there are some that are just great and cheap) and come back. I expect the exepence to be half. At that point the ROI should be greater
udkl 1 day ago 0 replies      
The post make a good observation but shouldn't be taken as advice.

For one, the majority of people will take out a loan to fund their studies. They do not have cash laying around to invest.

Second, a very minority of the population, especially when young, has the patience and rigor it takes to be invested through the tantrums of the market over a long period.

Third, past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.

Aqueous 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately I suspect this ends up being similar to the "paradox of thrift" [1]. It might make sense for one person to do this, but if people did it en masse, it would be catastrophic for our economy and therefore for each of us individually.

[1] I learned about the paradox of thrift in college.

gozur88 1 day ago 0 replies      
For a few years now I've been thinking as a high school graduate you'd learn far more by taking your college money and starting a business or two. Assuming, of course, you didn't want to do something highly technical like medicine, law, or, you know, advanced materials construction.
hasenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
University degrees are absolutely necessary for medicine, law, and STEM fields.

For everything else, going to University makes no sense at all IMO.

Yes, philosophy and linguistics are interesting subjects, but not worth spending tens of thousands of dollars to major in.

waspear 1 day ago 1 reply      
Some experiences in college is priceless.
apapli 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd rather see a median figure than an average.

A single ultra successful person's income will make up for a full suburb of people who are struggling using averages.

xux 23 hours ago 0 replies      
So where can I borrow $250,000 for me to invest in the stock market?
swsieber 1 day ago 1 reply      
solomatov 1 day ago 0 replies      
The problem is that keeping this investment and not spending it on useless things like new car, fancy apartment, designer clothing, etc, requires very large willpower. So, psychologically, it makes sense to get an education, and find some job.
elmar 1 day ago 2 replies      
The true value of a college education is intangible.


ggh5 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Problem: college tuition is too damn high.

Solution: universal, free or heavily subsidized access to quality higher education.

So, Americans, number 1 war economy and slaughterous rulers over our blood and minds, what exactly is your major political malfunction preventing this?

Animats 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only about half of new college graduates are getting jobs that require a college education. We've passed "peak school".

On the other hand, not going to college sucks even worse.

bpodgursky 1 day ago 1 reply      
If this was actually true, there would be no private college loan lenders -- they would all prefer to invest their money in the S&P 500 than in college students.
pfarnsworth 1 day ago 2 replies      
My tuition costs in 1995 were $2500/year for an engineering degree. So given the numbers the OP used, he would be wrong.

In today's environment, however, I might be inclined to agree. When I went to school, I could get a minimum wage job for the summer, and pay for tuition and dorm fees for the year. Education costs are wildly out of whack and something needs to be done to cut down these costs, because at this rate, I will NOT send my two kids to college. I'll tell them to open up a business or something, because it's simply not worth it.

killin_dan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Obvious epiphany to be had here is that you cannot use the government to subsidize your investment in S&P. At least not legally, and to my knowledge.

At college, you can live a pretty comfortable life. You get a place to live, food to eat, work to do, material to learn, friends to talk to, supervisory staff to help you with hard problems, etc.

I hate to say it, because I think US higher education costs are absolutely ridiculous, but I still think that higher education is more rewarding than working a salaried job for a couple years to dump some money into S&P. I'd even go so far as to argue that people who have graduated a college or university are more likely to be prepared to safely, responsibly handle problems that occur in the real world moreso than someone who just happens to have a lot of money from S&P. I know that's a bit vague, but I think my point is clear enough that having wealth is not a replacement for having a satisfactory, stimulating wealth of knowledge and a sense of purpose for one's life. Not to knock people in finance, I love finance, but it's not for everybody and if the whole next generation of college students just decided to structure their whole lives based on how much money they're LIKELY (ie, not necessarily guaranteed) to make, then it'll be a boring generation that the next one has to learn from.

Student loan debt regulations need a rethink. How can we:a) not lose money from paying for kids' school

b) not fuck kids over, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt for admittedly mediocre education (compared to some euro schools, or asian schools)

c) keep new system automated enough to reduce politician's potential for corruption by manipulating the money

and d) provide some sort of transition schedule to move current students (paying traditional loans off) to new system, without fucking over agencies/firms that are rightfully owed


We owe our kids better solution than this

mbrodersen 1 day ago 0 replies      
However moving to Germany for a few years and getting a free top quality University degree is even better. And yes it is free for non-German students.
vladletter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Maybe we could finally take the problem at its origin and make tuition free for people. Education is a right.
jonathankoren 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only an educated man with a high wage job would come up with this crap. It fit the old template of, "Only suckers do what's expected. I'm too smart for that. Here's my plan that conveniently ignores all practicalities."

Putting aside the gatekeeping that prevents non-college educated people into high wage jobs. Putting aside the unskilled jobs have seen real earnings decline over the past decades. Putting aside that skilled non-college jobs actually require post-high-school education. One huge reason why people who don't go to college don't do this is... (Wait for it...) They don't have the money to invest.

The reason why people graduate from college with a load of debt, is because they didn't have the money to pay for college. If they had the money to pay for college, they wouldn't have the debt. This is obvious.

So where are these people going to get the money to invest? A bank? No one is going to entrust money to a high school grad to invest. For gatekeeping reasons, if no other. Second, why would a bank make such a loan, since they have their own investment arm? This makes no sense, and has no public benefit.

We know this doesn't work, because you can simply ask your older fry cook at McDonald's if they're raking in the dough with their investments.

RoutinePlayer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would love to hear from non Americans on this, especially folks from countries where public colleges are free.
RandyRanderson 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I've long suspected this and am gland someone did the calc.

I'd love to see the breakdown by major!

codecamper 1 day ago 2 replies      
I found that investing in bitcoin has outperformed the average post college job. (I conducted my research by comparing 20,000 invested in a college in 2010 vs 20,000 invested into bitcoin in 2010.)
pjmorris 1 day ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't the analysis account for the value of S&P 500 companies managed and operated by people without college degrees?
shmerl 1 day ago 0 replies      
That assumes people have saved costs to invest. In practice, people can avoid accumulated debts, not saved costs.
matthewhall 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah but... Lots of Americans don't have the money too pay for college until after they graduate.
5706906c06c 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about entering the workforce, make enough to cover cost of living, and then go back to college?
foolrush 1 day ago 1 reply      
When all you have is Capitalism, everything is a market.

What sort of dark world are we living in where we are discouraging people from studying areas that don't have a monitary return on investment?

randyrand 1 day ago 0 replies      
The previous title was better. Why was it changed?
Mc_Big_G 23 hours ago 0 replies      
...and a terrible job for 40+ years
gravypod 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a Junior in college and I initially thought college wasn't worth it by the numbers. I was going here because.. well... I had no idea what to do. I've now come around.

College is absolutely useless unless you find every possible way to waste every other student's money on things you want to do. The education you'll get is going to be sub-par (unless you're going to a big-5), the professors are short tempered and provide poor service, and you're going to have to learn a hole bunch of things you honestly don't give a crap about.

At my college you need to take Calculus 2 to be able to take Linear Algebra..... If you follow the standard course layout you'll probably be taking Lin on your Senior year. This is after 2 courses in discrete math where you apply Lin!

It's a joke. It's a fares. We all know it's BS. But it's worth it if you take advantage of every single service.

 1. Use your college email to get software 2. Use your college email to get hardware (starving artist discount) 3. Take advantage of internal funding to do research you want to do. 4. Start clubs in your subject area. (My college provides $700/semester for each club!) 5. Talk to, and get to know, all of your good profs 6. Talk to, and get to know, researchers 7. Take advantage of student discounts (Amazon Prime, etc). 8. Your school will likely give you a laptop discount 9. Find the IT gift shop (trash room). Free hardware! 10. Find a job on campus if you otherwise have nothing to do.
So far, in my 2 full years of school, I've presented research findings at an international conference, funded my own research from an internal grant solicitation, obtained piles and piles of cheap software and hardware, I'm attempting to upgrade my Thinkpad to one of the new x260/x270s via a school program, and my next project is to start a Retro-Computer Club at NJIT.

I'm starting this club because I don't have $700/semester to spend on old hardware nor do I have the space to store old hardware in my shoebox apartment. You know who does? My school! Hopefully by my senior year I'll have created a mini-museum for the rest of the students. I'll have to brush off my old OS kernel I started and re-read my copy of Operating Systems Implementation and Design.

Unfortunately not every student can do all of these things. With my school's tuition being 20k/year I'm easily milking 5 to 10k/year back out of the university. If everyone did this then the money pot would run dry.

If you're not going to use everything you're paying for, you're getting ripped off. Classes aren't worth 5k/year, let alone whatever you're being charged.

ld00d 1 day ago 0 replies      
a) College isn't a vocational school.b) It should be free.
mowenz 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't it possible to create ultra low-cost, bootcamp-style, world-class degree programs in STEM fields?

Self-study on your own an outline provided, then take a highly competitive entrance exam to get into the bootcamp. Finish and get your world class degree.

It sounds like the type of non-profit I should invest in if I were a 1%'er.

vacri 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes, if you invest your tuition and never touch it for a quarter of a century, you'll have mildly more money than if you went to college. In the meantime you'll be doing... what... to put food in your mouth and improve your lifestyle? Civil engineering interests you? Oh well, here are some schlub jobs for you to do to wait out your quarter-century maturation.

And as we can't help but hear, so many students are complaining about their student loans. For these people, what is the P&L statement going to look like after not touching their tuition for 24 years? It's not usually a winning strategy to borrow money for long-term investment...

ryan-allen 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it just me or isn't this absolutely disgraceful?
A hands-on introduction to video technology: image, video, codec and more github.com
664 points by manorwar8  2 days ago   74 comments top 15
barrkel 2 days ago 4 replies      
Video compression is not understood well enough throughout the whole stack yet.

I recently got a 1080p projector for home use, so now movies / TV series in my home are viewed on a 100" screen. Content is mostly from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Netflix does a really good job with encoding. I cannot say the same for Amazon Prime Video; even with their exclusive (in UK) offerings, like American Gods or Mr Robot, the quality of the encode is quite poor when viewed on a big screen. Banding, shimmering blocky artifacts on subtle gradients, insufficient bit budget for dimly lit scenes - once you become aware of the issues, it becomes really distracting.

OTOH a really big screen is a fantastic ad for high quality high bitrate content. Anything less than 2GB/hour is noticeably poor.

thomastjeffery 2 days ago 4 replies      
Remember when we did this ugly interlacing thing, so that we could get a higher (50/60fps) framerate?

When did we decide that 24/25/30fps was good enough? Now we have a Blu-Ray standard that cannot handle greater than 30fps, and media corporations that are unwilling to release content via any other medium.

Put that together with ever-increasing resolutions, and the amount of pixels something moves across from one frame to the next becomes greater, and video looks more and more choppy.

Franky, this is a much bigger problem than NTSC ever was. Even with content (The Hobbit, Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk) being created at higher framerates, users have no way to get the content outside of a specialized theater because the Blu-Ray standard cannot handle it, and because people seem to honestly believe that higher framerates look bad.

I suppose we can only hope that creators take better advantage of digital mediums that do not have such moronic, and frankly harmful, arbitrary limitations.

ccommsxx 2 days ago 1 reply      
looks like this contains a bunch of creative commons (CC-BY-SA) content ripped from wikipedia without proper attribution. please add the missing attribution




profpandit 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's interesting to notethat the architecture of the first ISO codec MPEG (1)is almost identical to the one we have today H.265That codec was standardised in the late 90sSo this design has carried through for about 20 years.Most of the changes relate to the targeted parameterssuch as frame size, frame rate and bitrate.Only the last step 264 --> 265 seems to have added new features.

This is a very well written introduction

heydenberk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Xiph.org wrote fascinating stuff about video compression when working on their next-generation codec, Daala https://xiph.org/daala/
ilzmastr 2 days ago 1 reply      
This was also food for whiteboards in the show silicon valley. Compare: https://github.com/leandromoreira/digital_video_introduction...


city41 2 days ago 0 replies      
I liked that the green channel in Mario's picture was titled "Luigi". Nice touch :)
kozak 2 days ago 1 reply      
The frequency of 60/1001 Hz and the situation where we are stuck with it basically forever is a shame upon the entire profession of video engineers.
metaphor 2 days ago 1 reply      
Got really excited for a second thinking this was discussion on transport technology as opposed to encoding.
0xelectron 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is really great. We seriously lacked a good introduction to video technology.
alfg 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome. I work in the VOD space, specifically in content protection and this is great reference guide. I've been meaning to write a similar guide for DRM.
rasz 1 day ago 0 replies      
first example interlacing image is wrong, shows running dogo with simulated division into scan lines, but does not take into account timing difference - that was one of the mayor sources of deinterlacing artifacts. Alternating fields are 1/60 second apart in time.


callesgg 2 days ago 1 reply      
I believe the next step in video compression will be more on smarts like object tracking och object recognition.

Machine learning becoming more and more popular will probably help :)

m1el 2 days ago 0 replies      
How much of that repo is protected by patents and cannot be reused?
alextooter 2 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing work.
Network Protocols destroyallsoftware.com
807 points by signa11  3 days ago   73 comments top 16
djrogers 3 days ago 2 replies      
Evan as a 20+ year network engineer, I don't think I've run across an article about networking that balances depth and breadth so well. All of the information presented is high-level enough to retain (at least as a big picture), but detailed enough to avoid hand-wavy 'magic networks' descriptions.

Bravo - well done.

Edit - Also worth adding that this article is a rarity in that the details are actually accurate! Even things I read in networking books and trades often have egregious errors - usually due to the breadth of the topic matter.

have_faith 3 days ago 16 replies      
As a front-end web developer with no formal computer science background or traditional programming experience I find these kinds of articles extremely valuable. I like to understand as much as possible, at least conceptually, what happens throughout the stack even if I don't touch it. Does anyone have any links to anything similar? perhaps for the Linux kernel or other lower level systems but with a top down overview like this? Especially anything that would build on this article. Effects and unexpected phenomena that manifest in networks like this also would be interesting.
manigandham 3 days ago 0 replies      
I always recommend the High Performance Browser Networking book by Ilya Grigorik for a fantastic overview of modern web protocols. It's also free to read online.


devy 3 days ago 0 replies      
By the way, this is Gary Bernhardt's personal site. Hislightning talk "Wat"[1] from CodeMash 2012 was one of my all time favorite talks, witty and right on!

[1] https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat

andars 3 days ago 1 reply      
> In reality, our 5-volt CMOS system will consider anything above 1.67 volts to be a 1, and anything below 1.67 to be 0.

Worth noting that the region from 1.67 V to 3.33 V is undefined and systems in practice will not behave nicely for signals in this range. A CMOS logic 1 needs to be above 2/3 Vdd to be reliably recognized.

pololee 3 days ago 0 replies      
Very good reading.I'd also recommend Van Jacobson's talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqGEMQveoqgYou'll learn some good stories about internet history.

He has done a lot of work on TCP congestion control, especially the fast retransmission idea by using duplicate ACKs.

There is an interesting thing about TCP. A lot of popular TCP implementation use city names, e.g. TCP Reno, TCP Vegas, TCP Westwood.

TCP Westwood is a very interesting implementation. It has very intelligent way to estimate bandwidth, (not just based on duplicate ACKs). You may find this paper very interesting. http://netlab.cs.ucla.edu/internal/wiki-internal/files/rohit...

bogomipz 3 days ago 2 replies      
His articles are always fantastic. I wish he would consider publishing a book however as $29/month to subscribe to a blog feels a bit steep.
Alex3917 3 days ago 4 replies      
So does BGP consider the amount of time it takes to traverse each hop, or are routing tables built only based on the minimum number of hops it takes to reach each destination?
iajr39r4 3 days ago 2 replies      
A bit off topic but, I noticed most of the titles on destroyallsoftware are rendered as SVGs.

Why is that a better idea than just normal text?

Ericson2314 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's good, but... I wish it were more critical? Excluding the gross control plain (as it wasn't the focus), there's some awkward overlap between IP and Ethernet (link aspects).

My guess, that I'd love to see explicitly confirmed, is that it goes back to the internet as the internetworklingua franca between existing networks an idea predating the more technically-motivated concept of layed protocols providing compounding abstractions.

I don't want to sound like a nit of an otherwise great piece, but without criticism the history seems inevitable. Alternatives and hypotheticals are good to keep design space from atrophing in the face of collective amnesia.

tyingq 3 days ago 1 reply      
I assume it's not mentioned to keep the article brief, but most devices these days support MTU sizes greater than 1500 bytes. Jumbo Frames[1] allow for ethernet packets of up to 9216 bytes.

Since they have to be fragmented back down to 1500 for devices that don't support them, however, it's typically only used in closed internal networks, like a SAN. People typically see about a 5% to 10% bump in performance.


lttlrck 2 days ago 0 replies      
Alternative explanation of the 1500 byte MTU given in the last paragraph:


Myrmornis 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is great. Along similar lines, "Foundations of Network Programming" by Brandon Rhodes (and originally John Goerzen) is fantastic (and not just for python programmers as the python API is a pretty transparent wrapper over POSIX APIs).
paulddraper 2 days ago 0 replies      
> An interpacket gap of 96 bits (12 bytes) where the line is left idle. Presumably, this is to let the devices rest because they are tired.
notdonspaulding 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love Gary Bernhardt's stuff.

I love this article because of the depth and detail which can be expected of his work, but also because you get all the way to the last sentence before he reveals the question which inspired him to do the deep dive.

RubenSandwich 3 days ago 3 replies      
I hate to be that guy. But I don't think this link was meant to be for the general public. Gary Bernhardt, the author of this piece, posted this link to this Twitter followers about 2 weeks ago to receive feedback. Remove the hash at the end of the URL, '/97d3ba4c24d21147', and you'll see you'll be redirected to purchase a subscription to Gary's screencasts and articles.

So if you are enjoying this article consider purchasing a subscription and supporting more work like this.

Ask HN: What language-agnostic programming books should I read?
791 points by robschia  17 hours ago   312 comments top 124
DoofusOfDeath 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Some of the most interesting books I've read in support of my software-development work are:

* "Compilers: Principles, Techniques, & Tools" by Aho et al. (i.e., "the dragon book")

* "Data Flow Analysis: Theory and Practice" by Khedker et al.

* "Understanding MySQL Internals" by Sasha Pachev.

* "Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques" by Gray and Reuter.

* "Fundamentals of Wireless Communication" by Tse and Viswanath.

* "Genetic Programming: An Intrduction" by Banzhaf et al.

* "Applied Crytography" by Schneier.

EDIT: A few additional comments:

(1) Although these books are problem-domain specific, some of them had benefits outside of their problem domains:

* The Dataflow book has some great coverage of fixpoint algorithms. It's really helpful to recognize when some problems are best solved by fixpoint analysis.

* The "dragon book" takes a lot of the mystery out of compilers. That's somewhat helpful when writing code that needs to be fast. It's super helpful if you want to work with compiler-related technologies such as LLVM.

* Understanding the fundamental challenges of transaction processing helps you avoid massive misadventures when dealing with databases or concurrent / multithreaded systems.

(2) YMMV, but I've found it hard to soldier through these books unless I had a need to for my job or for school.

mikekchar 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers. It's a bit hard to wrap your brain around the Java and C++ examples unless you have experience with them, but the techniques are timeless. You may need to practice them extensively before you understand how important they are, though. In a recent book club we did at work, a common complaint was, "This just looks like common sense". Indeed it does... though the common sense is uncommonly hard to find when you are staring at the actual situations this book helps you with.
otodic 12 hours ago 1 reply      
d0m 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Program (it's written in scheme but it's mostly for convenience and its lack of syntax).

Definitely the best book I've read on programming.

petercooper 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Programming Pearls by Joe Bentley. And its followup. It's old but it does get you thinking about things.

I'd also recommend The Linux Programming Interface by Michael Kerrisk as it teaches so much about what makes modern Unix what it is but.. it's arguably quite oriented around C by necessity. It's not a "C book" by any means though.

henrik_w 16 hours ago 6 replies      
I really like:

- Code Complete by Steve McConnell

- The Effective Engineer by Edmond Lau

- The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

kris-s 16 hours ago 7 replies      
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold. I love this book.
brightball 13 hours ago 2 replies      
SQL Performance Explained - Markus Winand

- Excellent book that gets into the internals of what developers need to know about SQL and covers each part as it relates to the 4 major SQL databases (Oracle, SQL Server, Postgres, MySQL)

- Also has an online version: http://use-the-index-luke.com/sql/table-of-contents

The Code Book - Simon Singh

- It's just a good read that covers cryptography and message hiding throughout history. Probably a solid book for somebody around high school age.

pjmorris 14 hours ago 0 replies      
'Implementation Patterns', Kent Beck. A semi-language-agnostic extension of his 'Smalltalk Patterns'for how to clearly and consistently express what you're saying when you code.

'Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering', Robert Glass. Glass presents a list of things everybody knows, or ought to know, and gives both academic and opinionated support and/or critique for why they are and aren't so.

'Making Software', Oram and Wilson. An edited collection of papers on evidence-based software engineering.

'The Deadline', Tom DeMarco. A thinly disguised commercial for his advice on how to organize software development teams and organizations, packaged as light, light novel.

gtrubetskoy 15 hours ago 4 replies      
One that hasn't been mentioned yet: "Coders at Work". A very enlightening book about how some of the best programmers in the world approach the craft in their own words.
eriknstr 16 hours ago 1 reply      
"The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist" by Frederick P. Brooks [1] is language-agnostic and worth reading.

It's about software engineering but also about hardware and some different kinds of design outside of IT.

From an interview about the book [2]:

> Eoin: Your new book does talk about software design in places, but its really about design generally, and the case studies span buildings, organizations, hardware and software. Who is the book aimed at? Are you still writing primarily for people who design software or are you writing for a broader audience?

> Fred: Definitely for a broader audience. I have been surprised that The Mythical Man-Month, aimed at software engineers, seems to have resonated with a broader audience. Even doctors and lawyers find it speaks to some of their team problems. So I aimed this one more broadly.

Brooks is also the author of The Mythical Man-Month which is often mentioned on HN.

[1]: http://www.informit.com/store/design-of-design-essays-from-a...

[2]: http://www.informit.com/articles/article.aspx?p=1600886

alfiedotwtf 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Books I'll treasure forever:

 - Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment by Stevens - Operating Systems: Design and Implementation by Tanenbaum - The Art of Unix Programming by ESR - Parsing Techniques by Grune and Jacobs - Applied Cryptography by Schneier

solatic 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Nobody recommended The Phoenix Project yet by Gene Kim?

Unless you have some understanding of your system's architecture, how it's run in production, and why a production environment is Really Different and a Big Freaking Deal, and how operations is supposed to look like, you'll never be an effective programmer, no matter whether you run your own operations in a small start-up or work for a large enterprise with dedicated operations teams.

deepaksurti 14 hours ago 1 reply      
- The Elements of Computing Systems: Build the virtual hardware and software from scratch. Software includes writing a compiler in a language of your choice, so agnostic in that sense.- The Art of Metaobject Protocol: Extremely insightful treatment of OOP! Alan Kay called it as the 'best book in ten years' at OOPSLA 97.
fazkan 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Its odd that no one mentioned it but head first into design patterns is a great/light book on design patterns....
i_feel_great 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs.

I have attempted some of the problems in Lua, Python, Erlang and Ada. It is very doable. So not just for Scheme.

0xbadf00d 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I would recommend "Sorting and Searching" Volume 3 from Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming". Fantastic, in-depth read.
mtreis86 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Gdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter is about the intersection of music, math, and computers.
fatjonny 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been thoroughly enjoying "Designing Data-Intensive Applications" by Martin Kleppmann. It primarily deals with the current state of storing data (databases, etc) starting with storing data on one machine and expanding to distributed architectures...but most importantly it goes over the trade-offs between the various approaches. It is at a high level because of the amount of ground it covers, but it contains a ton of references to dig in deeper if you want to know more about a specific topic.
binarymax 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Programming Pearls.

Great short book to get you thinking creatively and how to dissect algorithmic problems, language agnostic with pseudocode examples.

Non-programming but still highly relevant for a professional programmer: Mythical Man Month, and Peopleware.

MikeTaylor 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Definitely, definitely, Kernighan and Plauger's 1976 book _Software Tools_. The code is in RATFOR (a structured dialect of FORTRAN) but all the ideas are language-independent. It remains, four decades on, the best book I have ever read on how to solve the real problems of real program development. Very practical, and covers a vast amount of ground. (As it happens, I am re-reading it right now.)
bphogan 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I plug my book, Exercises for Programmers? https://pragprog.com/book/bhwb/exercises-for-programmers

It's a collection of programming exercises I used when I taught introduction to programming. They start out incredibly trivial, ("prompt for a name, print "hello [name]" back to the screen. But the trivial part is, in my opinion, the fun part when you work with a new language.

That program is a two line program in Ruby. But it might be much more complicated if you implemented that as your first GUI app in Swift for iOS.

I wrote the book to teach beginners, but I and others use those exercises to learn new languages. The book has no answers, just the problem statements.

sgt 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Thinking Forth


Teaches you to think simple and elegant.

zimmund 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Introduction to algorithms[1] is a great book to improve how you think about code and the way you implement your solutions. Even if you are a seasoned programmer you'll find it useful.

[1]: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/introduction-algorithms

ctrlp 13 hours ago 1 reply      
If you consider C to be language-agnostic, here are some gems. These are personal favorites as much for their excellent writing as for their content.

The Unix Programming Environment was published in 1984. I read it over 20 years later and was astonished at how well it had aged. For a technical book from the 80's, it is amazingly lucid and well-written. It pre-dates modern unix, so things have changed but much that goes unstated in newer books (for brevity) is explicit in UPE. (Plus, the history itself is illuminating.) It gave me a much deeper understanding of how programs actually run over computer hardware. Examples in C are old-school and take a bit of close reading but oh so rewarding. https://www.amazon.com/Unix-Programming-Environment-Prentice...

Mastering Algorithms in C. Another fantastically well-written book that shows (with practical examples) how to implement common algorithms. This is just such a great book!https://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Algorithms-Techniques-Sorti...


Code (Petzold). This one is truly language-agnostic. Others have mentioned it already. Can't recommend enough if you're iffy on the internals of computers and programming.https://www.amazon.com/Code-Language-Computer-Hardware-Softw...

Write Great Code (Volumes I and II). Randall Hyde's books are fantastic explications of the underlying computer operations. Examples are in assembly or pseudo-code but easy to understand.https://www.amazon.com/Write-Great-Code-Understanding-Machin...

smcgraw 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Thinking Recursively" by Eric Roberts. Completely changed the way I think about recursive programming and easy to pick up.


dustingetz 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Joy of Clojure & SICP. To a lesser extent, Learn You a Haskell. 7 Languages in 7 Weeks is an excellent good baby step book if these are too daunting. 7in7 was my first intro to many new ideas.

Any language worth learning has this property of influencing the way you think forever. TDD, Code Complete &co are all very integrated into mainstream industry and are no longer novel. If you find yourself needing to recommend your colleagues to read Code Complete you might consider working on the skills to get a better job.

qpre 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a book per say, but "Out of The Tar Pit" by Moseley and Marks is definitely a must-read.


```Complexity is the single major difficulty in the successful developmentof large-scale software systems. Following Brooks we distinguishaccidental from essential difficulty, but disagree with his premise thatmost complexity remaining in contemporary systems is essential. Weidentify common causes of complexity and discuss general approacheswhich can be taken to eliminate them where they are accidental innature. To make things more concrete we then give an outline fora potential complexity-minimizing approach based on functional programmingand Codds relational model of data.```

Link: http://shaffner.us/cs/papers/tarpit.pdf

OJFord 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sipser's Theory of Computation. It covers automata and languages, computability, and complexity - and is brilliantly written, the proof style in particular: clear 'proof idea's followed by the details that can be easily skipped if you're not interested, or it is clear from the 'idea'.
happy-go-lucky 13 hours ago 1 reply      
No one has mentioned The Little Schemer.

Edit: Written in a question-answer style, its geared toward luring you into recursion and functional programming.

Rannath 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Not really programming books, but these have helped me with programming jobs.

-How to make friends and influence people. Anyone who works collaboratively with people needs to be able to communicate effectively.

-The Elements of style. Writing understandable code is similar to any other type of writing.

__bearMountain 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Agile Software Development, Principles, Patterns, and Practices - by Uncle Bob Martin

One of the most influential programming books I've ever read. The code is in Java, but it's east to follow even for a non-Java developer, and the truths are universal. Learn the most fundamental design and encapsulation patterns. Uncle Bob Martin is a legend. This book has probably made me tens of thousands of dollars.


agentultra 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Programming in the 1990s by Edward Cohen. A rather practical introduction to the calculation of programs from their specifications. Plenty of introductions to computer programming involve guessing your program into existence. This is one of those rare books that give a solid, pragmatic approach (with examples) of developing software from solid, mathematically sound specifications and avoiding errors by design.

Even if you don't adopt formal methods in your day-to-day work (often we're not building sky-scrapers) it's a useful book to give you insight into the kinds of questions one should be asking and thinking about when designing software systems.

bandrami 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Let Over Lambda. Not entirely agnostic, but delves into Forth, Smalltalk, C, Scheme, and Perl while overall being about Lisp. Fascinating book; really a look at metaprogramming (macros) and closures (that's what "let over lambda" is).
masterzachary 10 hours ago 0 replies      
* "Clean Code" Robert C. Martin (978-0132350884)

* "Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code" Martin Fowler (978-0201485677)

* "Computer Systems: A Programmers Perspective" Randal E. Bryant (978-0134092669)

demircancelebi 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have been reading Game Programming Patterns lately. It explains the design patterns with examples from games, and it is really well written by an engineer at Google (Bob Nystrom): http://gameprogrammingpatterns.com/

After I complete this book, I think I'll read his other book: Crafting Interpreters. This one teaches about implementing a programming language from scratch, once in Java and a second time in C.

sateesh 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The Cuckoo's Egg by Clifford Stoll. This book taught me how important it is to keep a log of events. These logs come in very handy when the problem one trying to debug spawns multiple complex systems.
lcuff 15 hours ago 2 replies      
An Introduction to General Systems Thinking. Gerald Weinberg. This book, now over 40 years old, addresses the 'core within the core' of the reality of systems. Unbelievably good, with a very light-hearted tone.
RossBencina 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I see you read Kent Beck's TDD book. A good follow-up might be Roy Osherove's "The Art of Unit Testing." I found it to have a lot of pragmatic, practical advice. It's not the final word, but it is a good next step after Kent Beck's book. It has some C#-specific material, but that stuff is interesting to read about even if you're working in other languages.

Lot's good suggestions in this thread, here's one I didn't see:

"Software Runaways - lessons learned from massive software project failures," by Robert L. Glass.

petra 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Sanzy Metz is a great teacher of object-oriented design. Read her ruby book.

"Introduction to algorithms : a creative approach" by Udi Manber. ". Great book to learn algorithm design.

paublyrne 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Practical Object-oriented Design in Ruby is a great read with a lot of advice on approaching design problems, approaching refactoring and thinking about how to model. It's in Ruby but I feel a lot of its advice is general.
euske 16 hours ago 2 replies      
The Psychology of Computer Programming by Gerald M. Weinberg

It's an old book but the most eye-opening one to me.

BFatts 14 hours ago 0 replies      
'The Pragmatic Programmer' is a fantastic language-agnostic manual that still applies heavily today.
jacquesm 16 hours ago 4 replies      
Any good book on statistics would be a huge asset, as well as a book about debugging strategies.
vitomd 15 hours ago 2 replies      
If you liked Clean Code, read Clean Coder. A quick summary:

Robert C. Martin introduces the disciplines, techniques, tools, and practices of true software craftsmanship. This book is packed with practical adviceabout everything from estimating and coding to refactoring and testing. It covers much more than technique: It is about attitude.

Insanity 16 hours ago 0 replies      
In addition to those already mentioned here, I enjoyed the book 'Algorithms' by Robert Sedgewick & Kevin Wayne.

The algorithms are explained, and demonstrated (in java). But with the knowledge of how the algorithm works you should be able to use them in another language.

(And even though henrik_w already mentioned it, Code Complete2 is a really good book to read!)

csneeky 16 hours ago 2 replies      
"Types and Programming Languages" (aka "tapl")
unfocused 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"How to Solve It" by George Plya
cakeface 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I really liked "Building Microservices" by Sam Newman. It's a good review on current software architecture and software development process in addition to going over microservices. Honestly microservices are a topic in the book but it could just be called "Software Architecture in 2016".
IndrekR 16 hours ago 3 replies      
"The Elements of Style" by Strunk & White. Not exactly a standard programming book. Not really language-agnostic either -- quite English-centric.

I here assume your source code will be read by others; or by yourself after more than three months has passed.

Jeaye 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The Reasoned Schemer: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/reasoned-schemer

Learning more and more about imperative programming, OOP, design patterns, etc is good, but branching out into declarative programming and the functional and logic paradigms will stretch your mind for the better.

The great thing, I think, about The Reasoned Schemer is that it tackles a complex topic with almost no prose. The whole book is basically one code example after another, in a Q/A style. "What does this do?" <allow you to think about it> "Here is what it does, and here's why." Rinse and repeat. I think more technical books should try this.

stcredzero 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Martin Fowler's Refactoring
g051051 16 hours ago 0 replies      
"Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams" by DeMarco and Lister.
jordigh 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not language-agnostic, but it's still a great book: The D Programming Language. The reason I recommend it is because Alexandrescu is a great writer who knows a lot about programming languages and the kinds of tradeoffs that a low-level, practical, and safe programming language like D must do.

Even if you never intend to program in D, I encourage you to read this book to get a different view on metaprogramming, memory safety, and concurrency.

fastbeef 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Not a programming book per se, but seeing that you had "The Healthy Programmer" in your list I'll throw it out there:

"The underachievers manifesto" - a short book that does wonders for your mental health in a world that values productivity and superficial, short-sighted goals over everything else.


pjmlp 13 hours ago 0 replies      
A few ones:

"Algorithms and Data Structures" from Niklaus Wirth.

"Introduction to Algorithms, 3rd Edition" from Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein.

"The Garbage Collection Handbook: The Art of Automatic Memory Management" from Richard Jones and Antony Hosking

"Code Complete" from Steve McConnell

"From Mathematics to Generic Programming" from Alexander Stepanov and Daniel Rose

dyarosla 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I've really enjoyed "Dependency Injection in .NET"- despite the name, the book itself is really 95% about Dependency Injection and relatively language agnostic. It exhibits a bottom-up approach to using inversion of control in a way that makes sense and is scalable.


timclark 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Domain Driven Design by Eric Evans

Implementing Domain Driven Design by Vaughn Vernon

Clean Code by Robert Martin

I think you will find some code in all of the books but the ideas are applicable almost everywhere.

neves 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Any computer themed book of Gerald M. Weinberg is a must read:https://leanpub.com/u/jerryweinberg

If at first sight my may think that they are outdated and superficial, but you can't be more wrong.

OliverJones 16 hours ago 1 reply      
An old standard: The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks.
mytec 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Smalltalk Best Practices by Kent Beck. I feel the advice and experience this book provides goes well beyond Smalltalk.
ranko 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Growing Object-Oriented Software Guided by Tests, by Steve Freeman and Nat Pryce. The examples are, IIRC, in Java, but the ideas about TDD are applicable to any OO language. It'll make you think more about how you write testable code and the test themselves.
tmaly 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Understanding the Four Rules of Simple Design by Cory Haines

I like the 4 simple rules, I think he originally got these from Kent Beck. It is easier to keep this system in your mind if it is just a few basic principles.

Working Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael Feathers

As others also mentioned this. I think this is becoming more important as people transition to new jobs where they have to take on existing software. Having a process to deal with code that lacks documentation and tests is really important.

svec 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry" by Susan Lammers.


This book is from 1989, but it's a timeless and fascinating look at the minds of Bill Gates, Andy Hertzfeld (apple/mac), Dan Bricklin (visicalc), and 16 others.

mathnode 15 hours ago 1 reply      
- The Pragmatic Programmer

- The Practice of Programming

- The Mythical Man Month

- The Cathedral and the Bazaar

- The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

- Introduction to Algorithms

- Hackers and Painters

Some of these do contain mixed language code examples, but they are expressed in a way to be agnostic. A problem is a problem; in any language.

aaronmu 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A couple fun ones that weren't mentioned yet:

JavaScript Allong, the "Six" Edition by Reginald Braithwaite

Are Your Lights On? by Gerald M. Weinberg

m-j-fox 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Not exactly language-agnostic, nor about programming per se, nor a book, but [Google Style Guides](https://github.com/google/styleguide) offer a lot of specific, opinionated, practical advice that you can apply immediately. It's like an MLA manual for programmers.
rajadigopula 15 hours ago 0 replies      
A short book (25 pages), but I find it worth mentioning here - 6 Things About Programming That Every Computer Programmer Should Know -https://www.amazon.co.uk/Things-Programming-Computer-Program...

A really well written short glimpse of things every programmer must know.

ishmaelahmed 15 hours ago 0 replies      
"The Pragmatic Programmer" by Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas
cestith 8 hours ago 0 replies      
- The Practice of Programming ; Kernighan and Pike

- The Advent of the Algorithm ; Berlinski

- Engineering a Compiler ; Torczon and Cooper

- Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment ; Stevens and Rago

- Databases, Types, and the Relational Model ; Date

- Code ; Petzold

mempko 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The Elements of Programming. They use C++ but it isn't about C++ at all
cstavish 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley.
heeton 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If I can suggest a talk rather than a book, "Hammock Driven Development" by Rich Hickey (creator of Clojure) is one of my favourites.
steego 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A really fun read is The New Turing Omnibus. I'd call it fun reading rather than required reading.

Basically, it's a collection of small fun loosely related chapters about various ideas in computer science. It's the kind of book where you can open it up in the middle and start reading.

Over the years, I must have purchased 5 or 6 copies because I keep giving them away.

vblord 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Best design pattern book i've read is "Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide". It's fun and very informative.
mighty_warrior 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Apprenticeship Patterns - A great book more focused on being an good software engineer and less on software specific details. Online for free at http://chimera.labs.oreilly.com/books/1234000001813/index.ht...
amadvance 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I recognized my experience, and really liked:

Software Craftsmanship - The New Imperative, Pete McBreen


cyrusfusion 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Unix Network Programming, vols 1 & 2, by W. Richard Stevens

Yea, I know the code examples are written in C, but he goes into detail about how networks and ipc work.

JCzynski 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Working Effectively With Unit Tests is quite useful. It's focused on Java but the advice given applies well beyond that.
swanandp 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Release It! by Micheal Nygard. Excellent advice and patterns about building robust software.
candiodari 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Purely functional data structures by Chris Okasaki

Let Over Lambda forgot by whom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nbkaYsR94c Not technically a book, but watch it anyway.

le-mark 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Algorithmics: the Spirit of Computing by David Harel[1] is really fantastic, can't recommend it enough.

[1] http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2378136.Algorithmics

ninjakeyboard 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Domain Driven Design by Evans

PoEAA by Fowler (read his blog posts for the sequel that never came into existence such as event sourcing and cqrs as well)

Refactoring by Fowler

Event Storming by Brandolini

devnonymous 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The Aosa series of books are brilliant imho:


Titles :

 * The Architecture of Open Source Applications (volumes I and II) * The Performance of Open Source Applications * 500 lines or less

gameguy43 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Something on data structures and algorithms.

I like /coding interview/ resources for this, because they skip the proofs and get to the point faster.

Cracking the coding interview is goodSo is interviewcake.com (disclosure: I made it)

l0stkn0wledge 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are writing code, you are doing yourself (and anyone using your code) a disservice if you do not read something on secure coding. There are not a ton of code agnostic resouces, but you may want to start with "Software Security: Building Security In"

I would then look for language specific options as well, because programming for security can vary a lot amongst languages. Writing securely for native applications running on a system is much different than writing secure web apps.

aracarie 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming - Peter Van Roy
mrwnmonm 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The Practice of Programming

and take a look at this https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13448818

timwaagh 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Beautiful Code is nice (O'Reilly, various authors). I'd recommend it. It is written in a lot of languages so will help open your eyes to new worlds.
aHernandezI 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved cracking the coding interview, even if you want to practice for an interview or not, with this book you can get a friendly reminder of data structures and algorithms, time complexity and related topics (and you can improve your problem-solving skills too). For me at least it was useful for feeling again a great interest in these topics and to love even more my job.
leozhang 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Introduction to functional programming 1st edition by Richard Bird
javabean22 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Programming Pearls (2nd Edition) by Jon Bentley

Effective Java (2nd Edition) by Joshua Bloch. It's a Java book but it's language-agnostinc in a way. A great book.

bstamour 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Though it uses a subset of C++ for the code examples, Elements of Programming by Stepanov and McJones. It shows how algebra can serve as an effective foundation for engineering generic, reusable programs.
shagie 16 hours ago 1 reply      
A Pattern Language by by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pattern_Language

From a blog post ( http://the-whiteboard.github.io/book/review/2016/02/17/five-... ) I wrote a bit ago...


The first thing that will come to mind when seeing that title is ug, another book on patterns. Or maybe I thought it was named Design Patterns - Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

This isnt anything like that book. Or maybe it should be. The full title of the book is A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction. Yes, this is a book about architecture - but not software architecture. It is about the houses and buildings that we walk live and work in.

The description of A Pattern Language is one that will sound very familiar to people familiar with Design Patterns:

> It is shown [in The Timeless Way of Building], that towns and buildings will not become alive, unless they are made by all the people in society, and unless these people share a common pattern language, within which to make these buildings, and unless this common pattern language is alive itself.

> In this book we present one possible pattern language, of the kind called for in The Timeless Way. This language is extremely practical. It is a language that we have distilled from our own building and planning efforts over the last eight years. You can use it to work with your neighbors, to improve your town and neighborhood. You can use it to design a house for yourself, with your family; or to work with other people to design an office or a workshop or a public building like a school. And you can use it to guide you in the actual process of construction.

> The elements of this language are entities called patterns. Each pattern describes a problem which occurs over and over again in our environment, and then describes the core of the solution to that problem, in such a way that you can use this solution a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice.This is the book that inspired Gamma, Helm, Johnson and Vissides.

By reading A Pattern Language you will be able to understand what the authors of Design Patterns were trying to do and how design patterns were intended to work.

Its a good book too, who knows what else you will find useful in it. Pattern #146 describes a flexible office space. Pattern #148 describes a workspace for small work groups, #151 is about small meeting rooms, #152 is a half private office. Everyone who works in todays world of computers and cubes, can use these ideas to conceptualize and consider improvements to the office.

thanatropism 13 hours ago 0 replies      
For our Algorithms class in Applied Mathematics we used:

Dasgupta, Papadimitriou and Vazirani: "Algorithms" (McGraw Hill)

Kleinberg, Tardos: "Algorithm Design" (Pearson)

LoSboccacc 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Code complete


Patterns of enterprise architecture

joshdev 15 hours ago 0 replies      
* Mythical Man Month

* Pragmatic Programmer

* Code Complete

lamg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"A Discipline of Programming" by Edsger Dijkstra.
deathtrader666 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Death March is a good one for understanding how and why projects fail.
patricklouys 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Effective Java (lots of good generic OOP advice)

Implementing Domain Driven Design

hikarudo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"The Art of Readable Code", by Dustin Boswell and Trevor Foucher. Simple ways to make code more readable.
dzuc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
whorleater 15 hours ago 0 replies      
- Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective
JustSomeNobody 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think "The Practice of Programming" was and is very good.


tomxor 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Thinking FORTH (yes it's language agnostic, even though it's about FORTH)
badperson 14 hours ago 0 replies      
this guy has a blog that recommends a lot of great bookshttp://www.catonmat.net/blog/top-100-books-part-one/
eru 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Fred Brook's "The Mythical Man Month".
type0 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The Annotated Turing by C. Petzold
bluetwo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Why New Systems Fail: Theory and Practice Collide by Phil Simon
trimbo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"Dynamics of Software Development" by Jim McCarthy
Animats 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Fundamental Algorithms", Knuth.
kentf 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas
agumonkey 16 hours ago 0 replies      
meta advice: read many, some book, even great and famous, don't click at first, read something else that clicks, reread the others later. iterate.
kitplummer 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Pragmatic Practices of an Agile Developer!
mezuzi 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Code, the Hidden... is a great read
danschumann 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I liked "founders at work"
beat 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Okay, here's some I haven't seen mentioned yet, although these may be pretty far afield for you:

Drift into Failure, by Sidney Dekker. Studies failure analysis in complex systems, and basically argues that our classic reductionist/scientific method approach is the wrong way to study complex engineering failures.

How Buildings Learn, by Stewart Brand. This isn't about programming. It's about architecture, in the build-a-building sense. It studies what happens to buildings over the course of their lives, as opposed to just when they're first built.

Enterprise Integration Patterns, by Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolf. Learn how to use message queues and service busses correctly. Honestly, just read the first couple of chapters (65 pages or so), and the rest is reference, to look up as needed, so it's not as imposing as it sounds.

Advanced Programming in the UNIX Environment, by W. Richard Stevens. This book was my bible back in the olden days before http and ssh and stuff (I'm olde). Knowing how sockets really work can be an absolute lifesaver, even in this modern world of giant protocol stacks. Especially in this modern world.

The Art of Computer Programming, vols 1-3, by Donald Knuth. Only a madman would actually read them all, but they're good to have to remind you that there are mountains you can't even begin to climb.

A Deepness in the Sky, by Vernor Vinge. A science fiction novel that is really about hacking, set thousands of years in the future, when Moore's Law is long defeated and programmers are basically archeologists.

Design Patterns (aka Gang of Four), by Gamma/Helm/Johnson/Vlissides. There are lots of good books on design patterns, but you should really read the one that started it all. (For extra credit, read A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander - a book about urban architecture that inspired it.)

Continuous Delivery, by Jez Humble and David Farley. Stop thinking about your program in isolation, and learn how to deploy effectively!

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini. This is DHH's favorite book. Learn how people think, and how to use that to design better products.

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Not creepy at all, despite how the title sounds in today's language. This book is the bible of how to get along with others. It's been in continuous print since before WWII, for good reason.

The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries. The best work you do is the work you find you don't need to do. Learn how to fail fast and save time on projects and product development, by building what customers want rather than what you think they need.

cessor 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are my recommendations. Each is a placeholder for a complete discussion :)

Psychology of Programming


1. "Psychology of Computer Programming" - Gerald M. Weinberg

2. "Software Design Cognitive Aspect" by Francoise Detienne

3. "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Kahneman and Tversky

4. "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates U" by Daniel Pink

Book 1 is a really nice read and touches a lot of the social and workplace aspects of computer programming. Book 2 is more focused on modern research of program comprehension in relation to cognition. It's a little older, and often just scratches the surface, but they both nicely show that a lot of social and psychological factors are relevant for programming, independent of the programming languages developers use. 3. and 4. add some more background infos to it if you want to dive deeper.

Career Development


- "Hackers and Painters" - Paul Graham

- "The Passionate Programmer" - Chad Fowler

In addition to the Pragmatic Programmer which has been mentioned in other comments, these books really helped me understand where I wanted to be as a programmer.



With a stronger focus on technology I recommend:

- "Language Implementation Patterns" - Terence Parr

- "A Retargetable C Compiler: Design and Implementation" - Hanson, Fraser

I found them more helpful than the Red Dragon Book. The latter is good, but as a beginner I felt a little lost and Terence Parr's book was much more helpful.

Practice & Karate


- "Elegant Objects" by Yegor Bugayenko

- "Working Effectively With Legacy Code" - Michael Feathers

- "Growing OO Software, Guided by tests" - Pryce, Freeman

- "Test Driven Development" by Kent Beck

And, this last one I can't recommend enough:

"XUnit Test Patterns" by Gerard Meszaros

Kent Beck's TDD is good book to start with. Even if you feel like you have got testing figured out, you should try TDD. It has more to do with discipline and getting things done, rather than writing code fast or smart or efficiently. Someone I follow on twitter once called it "thinking at sustainable pace", which is really what TDD is about. A lot of people are simply offended by the idea to "test first". To me, "test first" is roughly equivalent to "think before you code". Maybe this is what others find offensive.

As for an advanced view on testing, Gerard Meszaros's book is really good. It is a catalogue of testing patterns that helps to structure testing code in a nice way.

Depending on OP's skill I would recommend the following: Be very carefull with the following books:

- Design Patterns - Gang of Four

- Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

- {Doing Anything with} Domain Driven Design

These books are really valuable, but somewhat problematic. Sometimes they will give you a hammer and make everything look like a nail. Sometimes they make it easy to focus on the wrong things. They come over as precise and clear, but really aren't, which will cause discussions and poor choices. On the surface, they sound nice, simple and friendly, but on a deeper level, they are really difficult to understand.

If you want to read them, I encourage you to do so with your colleague and discuss them critically. Maybe you can have a wednesday afternoon bookclub meeting at your company. We once did that for "Working Effectively with Legacy Code".

I collected some more suggestions on a trello board a while ago, which should be accessible here:


If you wish to contribute, just let me know. Then initial collection started when we got together after an open space.

BTW: Thank you all for your suggestions! I will add some of your recommendations to the trello board.

bybjorn 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The Pragmatic Programmer
suyash 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd also recommend Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach written by Stuart J. Russell and Peter Norvig.
known 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Check reading lists in https://www.joelonsoftware.com/
autoreleasepool 10 hours ago 1 reply      
W0lf 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I've gathered all the book titles in this thread and created Amazon affiliate links (if you don't mind. Otherwise you still have all the titles together :-) )

A Pattern Language, Alexander and Ishikawa and Silverstein http://amzn.to/2s9aSSc

Advanced Programming in the Unix Environment , Stevens http://amzn.to/2qPOMjN

Algorithmics: the Spirit of Computing, Harel http://amzn.to/2rW5FNS

Applied Crytography, Wiley http://amzn.to/2rsULxS

Clean Code, Martin http://amzn.to/2sIOWtQ

Clean Coder, Martin http://amzn.to/2rWgbEP

Code Complete, McConnel http://amzn.to/2qSUIwE

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, Petzold http://amzn.to/2rWfR9d

Coders at Work, Seibel http://amzn.to/2qPCasZ

Compilers: Principles, Techniques, & Tools, Aho http://amzn.to/2rCSUVA

Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective, O'Hallaron and Bryant http://amzn.to/2qPY5jH

Data Flow Analysis: Theory and Practice, Khedker http://amzn.to/2qTnSvr

Dependency Injection in .NET, Seemann http://amzn.to/2rCz0tV

Domain Driven Design, Evans http://amzn.to/2sIGM4N

Fundamentals of Wireless Communication, Tse and Viswanath http://amzn.to/2rCTmTM

Genetic Programming: An Intrduction, Banzhaf http://amzn.to/2s9sdut

Head First Design Patterns, O'Reilly http://amzn.to/2rCISUB

Implementing Domain-Driven Design, Vernon http://amzn.to/2qQ2G5u

Intrduction to Algorithms, CLRS http://amzn.to/2qXmSBU

Introduction to General Systems Thinking, Weinberg http://amzn.to/2qTuGJw

Joy of Clojure, Fogus and Houser http://amzn.to/2qPL4qr

Let over Lambda, Hoyte http://amzn.to/2rWljcp

Operating Systems: Design and Implementation, Tanenbaum http://amzn.to/2rKudsw

Parsing Techniques, Grune and Jacobs http://amzn.to/2rKNXfn

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams, DeMarco and Lister http://amzn.to/2qTu86F

Programming Pearls, Bentley http://amzn.to/2sIRPe9

Software Process Design: Out of the Tar Pit, McGraw-Hill http://amzn.to/2rVX0v0

Software Runaways, Glass http://amzn.to/2qT2mHn

Sorting and Searching, Knuth http://amzn.to/2qQ4NWQ

Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Abelson and Sussman http://amzn.to/2qTflsk

The Art of Unit Testing, Manning http://amzn.to/2rsERDu

The Art of Unix Programming, ESR http://amzn.to/2sIAXUZ

The Design of Design: Essays from a Computer Scientist, Brooks http://amzn.to/2rsPjev

The Effective Engineer, Lau http://amzn.to/2s9fY0X

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White http://amzn.to/2svB3Qz

The Healthy Programmer, Kutner http://amzn.to/2qQ2MtQ

The Linux Programming Interface, Kerrisk http://amzn.to/2rsF8Xi

The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks http://amzn.to/2rt0dAR

The Practice of Programming, Kernighan and Pike http://amzn.to/2qTje0C

The Pragmatic Programmer, Hunt and Thomas http://amzn.to/2s9dlvS

The Psychology of Computer Programming, Weinberg http://amzn.to/2rsPypy

Transaction Processing: Concepts and Techniques, Gray and Reuter http://amzn.to/

Types and Programming Languages, Pierce http://amzn.to/2qT2d6G

Understanding MySQL Internals, Pachev http://amzn.to/2svXuFo

Working Effectively with Legacy Code, Feathers http://amzn.to/2sIr09R

Zen of graphics programming, Abrash http://amzn.to/2rKIW6Q

tomerbd 16 hours ago 2 replies      
moby dick by herman mellvile

the bible / unknown author

the new testament / various

Accidentally destroyed production database on first day of a job reddit.com
705 points by whistlerbrk  2 days ago   262 comments top 72
Rezo 2 days ago 8 replies      
Sorry, but if a junior dev can blow away your prod database by running a script on his _local_ dev environment while following your documentation, you have no one to blame but yourself. Why is your prod database even reachable from his local env? What does the rest of your security look like? Swiss cheese I bet.

The CTO further demonstrates his ineptitude by firing the junior dev. Apparently he never heard the famous IBM story, and will surely live to repeat his mistakes:

After an employee made a mistake that cost the company $10 million, he walked into the office of Tom Watson, the C.E.O., expecting to get fired. Fire you? Mr. Watson asked. I just spent $10 million educating you.

knodi123 2 days ago 5 replies      
I was on a production DB once, and ran SHOW FULL PROCESSLIST, and saw "delete from events" had been running for 4 seconds. I killed the query, and set up that processlist command to run ever 2 seconds. Sure enough, the delete kept reappearing shortly after I killed it. I wasn't on a laptop, but I knew the culprit was somewhere on my floor of the building, so I grabbed our HR woman who was walking by and told her to watch the query window, and if she saw delete, I showed her how to kill the process. Then I ran out and searched office to office until I found the culprit -

Our CTO thought he was on his local dev box, and was frustrated that "something" was keeping him from clearing out his testing DB.

Did I get a medal for that? No. Nobody wanted to talk about it ever again.

sethammons 2 days ago 3 replies      
My comment I left there:

Lots of folks here are saying they should have fired the CTO or the DBA or the person who wrote the doc instead of the new dev. Let me offer a counter point. Not that it will happen here ;)

They should have run a post mortem. The idea behind it should be to understand the processes that led to a situation where this incident could happen. Gather stories, understand how things came to be.

With this information, folks can then address the issues. Maybe it shows that there is a serially incompetent individual who needs to be let go. Or maybe it shows a house of cards with each card placement making sense at the time and it is time for new, better processes and an audit of other systems.

The point being is that this is a massive learning opportunity for all those involved. The dev should not have been fired. The CTO should not have lost his shit. The DB should have regularly tested back ups. Permissions and access needs to be updated. Docs should be updated to not have sensitive information. The dev does need to contact the company to arrange surrender of the laptop. The dev should document everything just in case. The dev should have a beer with friends and relax for the weekend and get back on the job hunt next week. Later, laugh and tell of the time you destroyed prod on your first day (and what you learned from it).

xoa 2 days ago 1 reply      
>"i instead for whatever reason used the values the document had."

>They put full access plaintext credentials for their production database in their tutorial documentation

WHAT THE HELL. Wow. I'd be shocked at that sort of thing being written out in a non-secure setting, like, anywhere, at all, never mind in freaking documentation. Making sure examples in documentation are never real and will hard fail if anyone tries to use them directly is not some new idea, heck there's an entire IETF RFC (#2606) devoted to reserving TLDs specifically for testing and example usage. Just mind blowing, and yeah there are plenty of WTFs there that have already been commented on in terms of backups, general authentication, etc. But even above all that, if those credentials had full access then "merely" having their entire db deleted might even have been a good case scenario vs having the entire thing stolen which seems quite likely if their auth is nothing more then a name/pass and they're letting credentials float around like that.

It's a real bummer this guy had such an utterly awful first day on a first job, particularly since he said he engaged in a huge move and sunk quite a bit of personal capital from the sound of it in taking that job. At the same time that sounds like a pretty shocking place to work and it might have taught a ton of bad habits. I don't think it's salvageable but I'm not even sure he should try, they likely had every right to fire him but threatening him at all with "legal" for that is very unprofessional and dickish. I hope he'll be able to bounce back and actually end up in a much better position a decade down the line, having some unusually strong caution and extra care baked into him at a very junior level.

plesiv 2 days ago 2 replies      
Plot twist: CTO or senior staff needed to cover something up (maybe a previous loss of critical business data) and arranged for this travesty to likely happen permitted sufficient number of junior devs went through "local db setup guide" mockery of a doc.

Either that or this is a "Worst fuckup on the first day on job" fantasy piece - I refuse to acknowledge living in the world where alternatives have any meaningful non-zero probability of occurring.

ice109 2 days ago 19 replies      
Lots of people in the thread are commenting how surprised they are that a junior dev has access to production db. Both jobs I've had since graduating gave me more or less complete access to production systems from day one. I think in startup land - where devops takes a back seat to product - it's probably very common.
matwood 2 days ago 3 replies      
People will screw up, so you have to do simple things to make screwing up hard. The production credentials should never have been in the document. Letting a junior have prod level access is not that far out of the normal in a small startup environment, but don't make them part of the setup guide. Sounds like they also have backup issues, which points to overall poor devops knowledge.

Not part of this story, but another pet peeve of mine is when I see scripts checking strings like "if env = 'test' else <runs against prod>". This sets up another WTF situation if someone typos 'test' now the script hits prod.

quizotic 2 days ago 2 replies      
Yeah, another case of "blame the person" instead of "blame the lack of systems". A while back, there was a thread here on how Amazon handled their s3 outage, caused by a devops typo. They didn't blame the DevOp guy, and instead beefed up their tooling.

I wonder whether that single difference - blame the person vs fix the system/tools predicts the failure or success of an enterprise?

ajarmst 2 days ago 2 replies      
Assuming the details are correct, this should be considered a win by the junior dev. It only took a day to realize that this is a company he really, really doesn't want to try to learn his profession at.
markbnj 2 days ago 0 replies      
Guaranteed the CTO is busily rewriting the developer quide and excising all production DB credentials from the docs so that he can pretend they were never there. While the new guy's mistake was unfortunate in a very small way, the errors made by the CTO and his team were unfortunate in a very big way. The vague threat of legal action is laughable, and the reaction of firing the junior dev who stumbled into their swamp of incompetency on his first day speaks volumes about the quality or the organization and the people who run it. My advice... learn something from the mistake, but otherwise walk away from that joint and never look back. It was a lucky thing that you found out what a mess they are on day 1.
danmaz74 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The CTO told me to leave and never come back. He also informed me that apparently legal would need to get involved due to severity of the data loss.

I don't know if I should laugh or cry here.

nstj 2 days ago 2 replies      
No disrespect to the OP but this sounds pretty fake. If the database in question was important enough to fire someone immediately over then there wouldn't have been the creds floating around on an onboarding pdf. And involving legal? Has anyone here heard of anything similar? I'm just 1 datapoint but I know I haven't.
gcb0 2 days ago 1 reply      
plot twist: dev will learn Monday this is a initialization joke and the whole company is laughing of all the threads he or she starts here and on reddit.
femto113 2 days ago 0 replies      
For some years now I've stopped bothering with database passwords. If technically required I just make them the same as the username (or the database name, or all three the same if possible). Why? Because the security offered by such passwords is invariably a fiction in practice, I've never seen an org where they couldn't be dug out of docs or a wiki or test code. Instead database access should be enforced by network architecture: the production database can only be accessed by the production applications, running in the production LAN/VPC. With this setup no amount of accidental (or malicious) commands run by anyone from their local machine (or any other non production environment) could possibly damage the production data.
cbanek 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's not the CTO's fault. It's the document's fault! We should never have documentation again, this is what it has done to us! We need to revert to tribal knowledge to protect ourselves. If we didn't document these values, people wouldn't be pasting them in places they shouldn't be!


daxfohl 2 days ago 5 replies      
Side question, as a dev with zero previous ops experience, now the solo techie for a small company and learning ops on the fly, we're obviously in the situation where "all devs have direct, easy access to prod", since I'm the only dev. What steps should I take before bringing on a junior dev?
spudlyo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Several years back I worked as a DBA at a managed database services company, and something very similar happened to one of our customers who ran a fairly successful startup. When we first onboarded them I strongly recommended that the first thing we do is get their DB backups happening on a fixed schedule, rather than an ad-hoc basis, as their last backup was several months old. The CEO shuts me down, and instead insists that we focus on finding a subtle bug (you can't nest transactions in MySQL) in one of their massive stored procedures.

It turns out their production and QA database instances shared the same credentials, and one day somebody pointed a script that initializes the QA instances (truncate all tables, insert some dummy data) at the production master. Those TRUNCATE TABLE statements replicated to all their DB replicas, and within a few minutes their entire production DB cluster was completely hosed.

Their data thankfully still existed inside the InnoDB files on disk, but all the organizational metadata data was gone. I spent a week of 12 hour days working with folks from Percona to recover the data from the ibdata files. The old backup was of no use to us since it was several months old, but it was helpful in that it provided us a mapping of the old table names to their InnoDB tablespace ids, a mapping destroyed by the TRUNCATE TABLE statements.

Etheryte 2 days ago 1 reply      
The author should get their own legal in line - does the contract even allow termination on the spot. If not, the employer is just adding to their own pile of ridiculous mistakes.
thomastjeffery 2 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of my first dev job, when I got a call during lunch:

"The server has been down all day, and you are the only one who hasn't noticed. What did you break?"

"Well, I saw that all the files were moved to `/var/www/`, and figured it was on purpose."

Suffice it to say, I got that business to go from Filezilla as root to BitBucket with git and some update scripts.

roadbeats 2 days ago 0 replies      
The ending with taking the laptop to home though... He is a modern time Dostoevsky.
scarface74 2 days ago 0 replies      
One of the questions I asked my manager during the interview process was how did he feel about mistakes?

I knew I was being brought in to rearchitect the entire development process for an IT department and that I would make architectural mistakes no matter how careful I was and that I would probably make mistakes that would have to be explained to CxOs.

Whatever the answer he gave me, I remember being satisfied with it.

dk8996 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool story but I think this is fake. Since there are 40 people in the company, it seems like at least a few people before him followed the onboarding instruction. I just don't believe that there would be that many people that a) didn't do the same thing he did or b) change the document.
Jare 2 days ago 0 replies      
Something tells me their production password was nothing like a 20-char random string...
user5994461 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am the only one who is surprised that he can get the keys to the kingdom on day 1?

Day 1 is when you setup your desk and get your login. Then go back to HR to do the last hiring paperwork.

It should take a good week before a new employee is able to fuck up anything. Really.

runnr_az 2 days ago 2 replies      
Hilarious. I wonder if it's true.
andreasgonewild 2 days ago 0 replies      
I did the same thing early on in my career. Shut down several major ski-resorts in Sweden for an entire day during booking season by doing what we always did, running untested code in production to put out fires. Luckily, my company and our customers took that as a cue to tighten up the procedures instead of finding someone to blame. I hear this is how it works in aviation as well, no one gets blamed for mistakes since that only prevents them from being dealt with properly. Most of us are humans, humans make mistakes. The goal is to minimize the risk for mistakes.
sitepodmatt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Name and shame.. The CTO stinks of incompetence, and surprised he/she has managed to retain any competent staff (perhaps he/she actually hasn't). What a douchebag. You are not to blame.
draw_down 2 days ago 0 replies      
I worked with someone who did this, early in my career. His bacon was saved by the fact that a backup had happened very soon before his mistake.

His was worse though, because he had specifically written a script to nuke all the data in the DB, intending it for test DBs of course. But after all that work, he was careless and ran it against the live DB.

It was actually kind of enlightening to watch, because he was considered the "genius" or whatever of my cohort. To wit, there are different kinds of intelligence.

orliesaurus 2 days ago 2 replies      
I stopped believing reddit posts a long time ago
vinceguidry 2 days ago 1 reply      
Technical infrastructure is often the ultimate in hostile work environments. Every edge is sharp, and great fire-breathing dragons hide in the most innocuous of places. If it's your shop, then you are going to have a basic understanding of the safety pitfalls, but you're going to have no clue as to the true severity of the situation.

If you introduce a junior dev into this environment, then it's him that is going to discover those pitfalls, in the most catastrophic ways possible. But even experienced developers can blunder into pitfalls. At least twice I've accidentally deployed to production, or otherwise ran a powerful command intended to be used in a development environment on production.

Each time, I carefully analyze the steps that led up to running that command and implemented safety checks to keep that from happening again. I put all of my configuration into a single environment file so I see with a glance the state of my shop. I make little tweaks to the project all the time to maintain this, which can be difficult because the three devs on the project work in slightly different ways and the codebase has to be able to accommodate all of us.

While this is all well and good, my project has a positively decadent level of funding. I can lavish all the time I want in making my shop nice and pretty and safe.

A growing business concern can not afford to hire junior devs fresh out of code school / college. That's the real problem here. Not the CTO's incompetence, any new-ish CTO in a startup is going to be incompetent.

The startup simply hired too fast.

gregopet 1 day ago 0 replies      
I destroyed an accounting database at a company during a high school summer job.

A mentor was supervising me and continually told me to work slower but I was doing great performing some minor maintenance on a Clipper application and didn't even need his "stupid" help ... until I typed 'del .db' instead of 'del .bak'. Oooops!

Luckily the woman whose computer we were working on clicked 'Backup my data' every single day before going home, bless her heart, and we could copy the database back from a backup folder. A 16 year old me was left utterly embarrassed and cured of flaunting his 1337 skillz.

jjm 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is purely the fault of the entire leadership stack.

From Sr dev/lead dev, dev manager, architect, ops stack, all the directors, A/S/VPs, and finally the CTO. You could even blame the CEO for not knowing how to manage or qualify a CTO. Even more embarrassing is if your company is a tech company.

I think a proper due diligence would find the fault in the existing company.

It is not secure to give production access and passwords to a junior dev. And if you do, you put controls in place. I think if there is insurance in place some of the requirements would have to be reasonable access controls.

This company might find itself sued by customers for their prior and obviously premeditated negligence from lack of access controls (the doc, the fact they told you 'how' to handle the doc).

ww520 2 days ago 0 replies      
When it comes to backup, there are two types of people, ones who do backup and ones who will do backup.
jacquesm 2 days ago 0 replies      
This company has a completely different problem: no separation of duties. Start with talking to the CTO how this could have happened in the first place, re-hire the junior dev.

After all, if the junior dev could do it, so can everybody else (and whoever manages to get their account credentials).

dennisgorelik 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously this is mostly CTO's screw up.

But the junior dev is not fully innocent either: he should have been careful about following instructions.

For extra points (to prove that he is a good developer) - he should have caught that screw up with username/passwords in the instruction. Here's approximate line of reasoning:


What is that username in the instruction responsible for? For production environment? Then what would happen if I actually run my setup script in production environment? Production database would be wiped? Shouldn't we update setup instruction and some other practices in order to make sure it would not happen by accident?).


But he it is very unlikely that this junior dev would be legally responsible for the screw up.

blackflame7000 2 days ago 0 replies      
After adding up the number of egerious errors made by the company, I'd almost be inclined to say the employee has grounds for wrongful termination or at least fraudulent representation to recoup moving expenses.
icedchai 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously not the new engineer's fault. Unfortunately, aspects of this are incredibly common. On three jobs I've had, I've had full production access on day one. By that, I mean everyone had it...
Myrmornis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Story sounds fictional to me.
codezero 2 days ago 2 replies      
Here's why I think this is fake:

A company with 40 devs and over 100 employees that lost an entire production db would have surfaced here from the downtime. Other devs would corroborate the story.

pjdemers 2 days ago 0 replies      
Even startups have contracts with their customers about protecting the customer's data. If it is consumer data, there are even stricter privacy laws.Leaving the production database password lying around in plain text is probably explicitly prohibited by the contracts, and certainly by privacy laws.The CTO should pay him for the rest of the year and give him a great reference for his next job, in return for him to never, ever, ever, tell anyone where he found the production password.
learntofly 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't work in tech but I'm an avid HN reader.

I'm surprised a junior dev on his first day isn't buddied up with an existing team member.

In my line of work, an existing employee whoTransferred from another location would probably be thrown in at the deep end but someone who is new would spend some time working alongside someone who is friendly and knowledgable. This seems the decent thing to do as humans.

OOPMan 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. What a train wreck. This is why the documentation I write contains database URIs like:


watwut 2 days ago 0 replies      
He needs to return the laptop asap, like now. They are in full emotional mode and can overreact to what they might perceive as another bad act too.
siliconc0w 2 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah this infra/config management sounds like land-mine / time bomb incompetence territory. You just were the unlucky one to trigger it. Luckily this gives you an opportunity to work elsewhere and hopefully be in a better place to learn some good practices - which is really what you're after as a junior dev anyway.
consultSKI 2 days ago 0 replies      
Repeat after me, while clicking your heels together three times, "It is not my fault. It is not my fault. It is not my fault." It was obvious as I read your account that you would be fired. A company that allowed this scenario to unfold would not understand that is was their fault.
laithshadeed 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would suggest you, once this sorted out, to publicly mention the company name so no other Engineer will fail in this trap again. This will be lesson for them to properly follow basic practices for data storage.
anorsich 2 days ago 1 reply      
Lucky junior dev! He has figured out a bad company to work for in his first work day. Good luck finding a new job!
tacostakohashi 2 days ago 4 replies      
Everybody agrees that the instructions shouldn't have even had credentials for the production database, and the lion's share of the blame goes to whoever was responsible for that.

There is still a valuable lesson for the developer here though - double check everything, and don't screw up. Over the course of a programming career, there will be times when you're operating directly on a production environment, and one misstep can spell disaster - meaning you need to follow plans and instructions precisely.

Setting up your development environment on your first day shouldn't be one of those times, but those times do exist. Over the course of a job or career at a stable company, it's generally not the "rockstar" developers and risk-takers that ahead, it's the slow and steady people that take the extra time and never mess up.

Although firing this guy seems really harsh, especially as he had just moved and everything, the thought process of the company was probably not so much that he messed up the database that day, but that they'd never be able to trust him with actual production work down the line.

aidos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Ahhhhh haaaa yeah.....I've done that.

It was the second day, and I only wiped out a column from a table, but it was enough to bring business for several hundred people down for a few hours. It was embarrassing all round really. Live and learn though - at least I didn't get fired!

posterboy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would assume this was mocked to test if the intern could follow simple instructions, to provide a lecture for the huge consequences of small mistakes and to have a viable reason to fire consequently; but I'm wearing my tin foil hat right now, too.
chmike 2 days ago 0 replies      
It is really unfair to have fired him. The OP is not the one that sould have been fired. The guy in charge of the db should be fired and the manager who fired the OP should be fired too. And, by the way, the guy in charge of the backups too.
justicezyx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this new person deserve a peer bonus by discovering a production risk?
feinstruktur 1 day ago 0 replies      
Should have job title changed to Junior Penetration Tester and be rewarded for exposing an outfit of highly questionable competence.
kilroy123 2 days ago 0 replies      
He's / she's better off not working at this place. So many things wrong. Not having a backup is the number 1 thing.

I could see having a backup that is hours old, and losing many hours of data, but not everything.

stevesun21 2 days ago 0 replies      
The CTO should be fired immediately!

If I didn't read wrong, they write poduction db credential in first day local dev env instruction! WTF.

This CTO sounds to me even worse than this junior developer.

albertini_89 2 days ago 0 replies      
Unfortunately, software companies like that are everywhere, the guy is learning and screws up a terribly designed system, the blame is on the "senior" engineers that set up that enviroment.
jlebrech 2 days ago 0 replies      
I fucked up a table once by setting the column of every record to true, but I had asked about changing the code to require a manual sql query a few weeks prior so it could have been prevented.
jaunkst 2 days ago 0 replies      
So a script practically set up the machine with the nuclear football by default, and then you where expected to diffuse it before using it. That is not your fault.
b33pr 1 day ago 0 replies      
So the company's fault. Embarrassing they tried to blame the new guy. So many things wrong with this.
alexfi 2 days ago 0 replies      
I always wonder, why IT companies don't test their backups? Even if it's the prod db, it should be tested on a regular base. No blame to the dev.
seattle_spring 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling the CTO was actually one of those "I just graduated bootcamp and started a website, so I can inflate my title 10x" types.
sandGorgon 2 days ago 0 replies      
We were paying for RDS right from when we were a 2 man startup. Zero reasons to not have a dB service that is backed frequently by a competent team.
Spooky23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Firing the guy seems drastic but understandable. Implying that they are going to take legal action against him is ridiculous!
knodi123 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was only granted read-only access to the Prod DB last week, after achieving 6 months of seniority.
askz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I really suggest that OP sends this thread to HR & others. And this isn't sarcasm
Grazester 2 days ago 3 replies      
It was their fault, plain and simple.
holydude 2 days ago 0 replies      
People are designed to make mistakes. We should learn from them and try to be more understanding.
nojvek 2 days ago 0 replies      
What company is this? CTO deserves some internet slapping.
jksmith 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously not a ssae 16 environment.
pier25 2 days ago 0 replies      
Either the CTO and his dev team are ridiculously stupid, or this was on purpose.
gonzo41 2 days ago 1 reply      
Understandable that hey got fired. I image there would have been a quite emotional response from the business when this happened, but that doesn't mean it was necessarily the most appropriate response.

--Unfortunately apparently those values were actually for the production database (why they are documented in the dev setup guide i have no idea).--

Someone else should have been fired if this is true.

Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets blog.google
496 points by pmcpinto  3 days ago   99 comments top 23
mbesto 3 days ago 7 replies      
When I worked for SAP back in 2007 (I was a fresh grad at the time), I was working in the business intelligence (reporting, analytics, and data warehousing) group and noticed how cumbersome it was for organizations to simply create and view reports (we're talking millions of dollars). I once said to my boss "you realize that in the future we'll simply just write 'show me a line graph for sales in the northeast'".

And so here we are now.

harshaw 3 days ago 1 reply      
I played around with this the other day. I have a spreadsheet with a bunch of columns. It wasn't immediately obvious how to use the explore feature intuitively. It graphed data but not really the ones I wanted. I was also hampered by it using only about 200 pixels on the right side of the screen.

I started typing in a question but it couldn't guess what I was interested in. YMMV. Perhaps with a fairly simple spreadsheet you can intuit things? Back 10 years ago I built a google spreadsheet competitor called Numbler (well, I didn't know if was a competitor, google sheets came out a couple of months later). But one of the things I learned is that people use spreadsheets for just about everything, and it can be in the wierdest format.

teej 3 days ago 5 replies      
Can we talk about getting data into Google Sheets? Is there a standard way to build a pipe from, say, a reporting database to dump aggregates into Google Sheets?

I built a private Add-on for my company that surfaces specific aggregates as Sheets functions (i.e. getSalesByDay(...)) and I have found so many bugs with that whole ecosystem. Deploys are completely manual and require copy-paste, you can't reliably tell what version is being invoked in a sheet, invisible cell-level caching that caches error state, concurrency limits that are too low and impossible to work around, and more. It all kinda sorta works but Google doesn't make it easy.

inthewoods 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cool stuff - someone else mentioned Thoughtspot - that was my initial thought as well. Very similar idea.

I wish that Google would take the same sort of "embed" idea further in G-Suite. I find it amazing that I can't (as far I know) reference slides from another deck in Google Slides. The use case would be putting together a series of "core" slides that are updated across your organization as they change. Given the web nature of G-Suite, this, to me, would seem like a no brainer.

Also, inserting charts from Google Sheets into Google Presentations looks pretty terrible. I often revert to Excel because the charting is fair superior imho (though just as challenging to wrangle).

wyck 3 days ago 2 replies      
They are solving a problem that doesn't really exist, the challenge is not the last step of a data report, it's the steps involved in the beginning, getting good data in, formatting, joining multiple sources, automation, dealing with junk data, procedures,etc.

I don't understand the example, what's the difference between typing "Show me a line graph" and clicking a button in excel that does the same thing.

vgt 3 days ago 1 reply      
Mandatory shameless plug - Google Sheets integrates with Google BigQuery.

You can:

- Query data in Google Sheets from BigQuery

- Create virtual views in BigQuery that are powered by Google Sheets

- One-click export data from BigQuery to Google Sheets (< 20k rows or so)

- Using AppScript, build dashboards and reports in Sheets that query BigQuery for results.

(work at G)

taylorwc 3 days ago 2 replies      
Oh, wow. I love where this is headed. Spreadsheets are one of the most abused products in a normal business--used for everything, and then some poor excel jockey ends up being forced to create a semblance of order from the chaos.
uberneo 3 days ago 3 replies      
Well charts is a good addon but just wanted to understand how they are able to do this ... i mean Machine Learning part , for example if somebody asks "Show me sales of X product in last year" , from machine learning perspective how this gets interpreted in actual SQL query ..
andrea_s 3 days ago 2 replies      
Kind of goes in the direction of what Thoughtspot (https://www.thoughtspot.com/) is doing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-y_EjFsDuk)
pbreit 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is very neat.

But the best, still-mostly-hidden feature I've found recently is App Scripting and especially the ability to do a UrlFetch.

I use it as an "API Runner" to run various batch jobs against APIs.


darwhy 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm wondering how Microsoft is responding to this. Do they expect their current Excel dominance to continue despite competitors constantly catching up to feature parity and even extra goodies, like this one?
froindt 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if we will see more software including query based input like their charts, and what sort of speed improvement we could see? At first I was not excited to type something where I could click a couple buttons, but then I recognized the other enhancements such as applying a filter right away.

I'm not convinced it's better just because it has machine learning on the back end, but if excel would learn how I want my graphs made from how I manually adjust the graphs (adding axis labels and a title, color preferences, never a 3d bar or pie chart), that'd be a nice enhancement. I'm sure there's a setting, but I haven't searched for it.

zitterbewegung 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought Explore in google sheets has had this feature for awhile? I remember it suggesting visualizations in sheets a few months ago.
f00_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is similar to statsbot.co 's Slack bot

You would message the bot something like "sessions for this month", and it would send back a graph.

wonder if you could make a similar bot with google sheets if they provide an api


gsvclass 3 days ago 1 reply      
There's a lot of basic stuff like column titles, moving columns about, filtering, search that I found had a quite a learning curve with sheets. I built and use this instead. Bell+Cat https://bellpluscat.com
blazespin 3 days ago 0 replies      
This sort of thing it's easy to get to 80% but good luck getting that last 20% without formalisms. Might be useful for getting a quick feel for a data set to confirm some intuitions, but not really useful beyond that.
sandGorgon 3 days ago 1 reply      
does anyone know how this kind of stuff gets built ? I'm considering a spreadsheet-y internal admin dashboard for my startup. I was looking at https://github.com/JoshData/jot to be able to sync stuff on the client side to the server.

has anyone worked on something like this ? the big challenge is synchronization - between server and multiple clients - while being able to offload a lot of computations on to the client.

I wonder how is the security built ? if i maliciously change the formulas in my browser.. will the backend datastore still accept the data ?

shostack 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there any way yet to sort values in a pivot table? Kind of ridiculous that we still need to resort to the query function...
synaesthesisx 3 days ago 0 replies      
The next major of Tableau should be implementing NLP in similar fashion.
KaoruAoiShiho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow amazing, when will this be available as a javascript library?
2_listerine_pls 3 days ago 0 replies      
still no tables. How hard is it?
p90puma 3 days ago 0 replies      
404 for me on the link.
mariogintili 3 days ago 1 reply      
how many corporate secretes will be leaked into this?
4D Toys: a box of four-dimensional toys marctenbosch.com
565 points by hcs  3 days ago   138 comments top 32
yathern 3 days ago 5 replies      
This looks fantastic. If I had a VR device I would get this immediately. I've always had a fascination with trying to grok higher dimensions. I think it's just about impossible to have an intuitive understanding of it - 3D spacial reasoning is in our wiring through both nature and experience.

You know the theory of how language shapes your thinking? For example, in societies where there is no separate word for orange and red, they have extreme trouble telling the difference between them. In some native tribe where they use cardinal directions (North, South) - not relative (Left, Right) - they have an almost supernatural ability to know which direction they are without needing any other cues (sunlight, stars).

Point being - would being able to completely think in four dimensions have an impact on how you understand the world?

chmod775 3 days ago 3 replies      
I'm curious how this would look if the 4D space was projected onto the 3D space instead of taking a cross-section, much like we already project 3D space onto 2D space (your display), to create "3d" graphics.
js8 3 days ago 4 replies      
If you make a Kickstarter to 4D print them, I would support it for my kids. I think for kids, it's more important to play with real-world physical objects rather than their virtual computer representation.
hcs 3 days ago 0 replies      
I considered linking to the game's site at http://4dtoys.com/ , but this blog post introducing it has more design details that I think will interest HN.
pmilla1606 3 days ago 1 reply      
This looks like fun, going to try this out over the weekend.

This is the same person who made this game (that also looks like good fun): http://miegakure.com/ that I remember reading about some years ago but never got a chance to play with

zitterbewegung 3 days ago 1 reply      
As a person who studied knot theory and sitting through other peoples presentations about higher dimensional knots this looks like a neat treat! After hearing about the concept I bought the game and tried it out. I like how you replace actual physical actions to objects in 4 dimentions. Usually this is projected on the time axis but with this interface it makes it much more fun to play with it instead of having basically a generic slider.
mihaifm 3 days ago 1 reply      
The video explaining it is really well made, but for some reason I still can't grasp the 4th dimension. Perhaps it's one of those things that you only need to know they exist at the theoretical level.
tyingq 3 days ago 1 reply      
Reminded of this Carl Sagan video that I watched as a kid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTL02N9EHzU
gmuslera 3 days ago 3 replies      
Now is a good moment to reread Lewis Padgett's Mimsy were the Borogoves, specially if your children start playing with those toys.
drewolbrich 3 days ago 0 replies      
Related: (iOS only) http://www.fourthdimensionapp.comIf you email me at temp6 at traipse.com I will send you a promo code for a free copy.
rjeli 3 days ago 1 reply      
Love the idea! Unfortunately it's not compatible with iOS plus-sized screens :(
prbuckley 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very cool. It reminds me of the classic geometry novel Flatland. If you like thinking about dimensionality I highly recommend it...


gene-h 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now it's a cool toy, but there might be more practical applications for a 4D rigid body physics engine. Some materials design approaches[0] involve iterating through shape space to determine what shape a particle should be to get it to assemble into a desired structure. A 4D physics engine might be useful for this shape space iteration, as movement through shape space could be accomplished by moving a 4d rigid body along the 4th axis.


dmix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Easily the hardest part of learning about string theory for me (via reading "The Elegant Universe" [1]) was grasping the idea of multiple other dimensions.

The book tried it's best to explain it by exploring a world starting with 1D and evolving to 3D, but it's still quite difficult to visualize, especially ones shaped like a "CalabiYau manifold" [2].

The one good thing I got out of learning about Calabi-Yau manifolds (and randomly reading another layman story involving Yau's clash with the guy who solved Poincar conjecture) was a new interest in learning more about math and a getting a laymans grasp of topology. Although I later learned manifolds are quite an advanced subset of topology.

I enjoyed the linked video, I was looking for a way to better understand 4+D in a way I could wrap my head around and an interactive game makes a lot of sense.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Elegant-Universe-Superstrings-Dimensi...

[2] https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Calabi%E2%80%93Yau_manifold

nautilus12 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is so cool, but its driving me crazy. I was wondering if someone could provide me with more resources that help intuit about 4d space. For example, in Miegekure, he walks through the 4th dimension to get to the other side of the wall, but thats assuming that no part of the wall extends into the forth dimension (aside from rubble). What would happen if he switched back to the normal 3 dimensions in the middle of the wall. In miegekure everything is kind of discretized (grassy area to desert area), but in reality that would be continuous. What would that actually look like, for example, the area right next to the wall? How would this work at a subatomic level, would electrons be traveling in and out of the 4th dimension? Could this explain things like action at a distance or black holes? How does the explain shared surfaces in the 4th dimension? I can't even answer a basic question like, if I were sitting in an easy chair and started looking down the 4th dimension what would happen. Since it has to share one cross section of the easy chair would it have to be simply a fatter or skinnier easy chair? But that is true for any cross section of the chair correct? The easy chair is the 3d cross section of the 4d object then what (would/could) the 3d cross section exchanging one of our spatial dimensions for the hidden one look like? How does gravity work in those 3 dimensions (2 of our spatial dimensions + 1 of the hidden dimension). Supposing the world was like this, wouldn't it be obvious if any object was extending into the 4th dimension thus we can stand to reason our world must be strictly 3 dimensional? If there were 4 dimensions since we can't see or interact with it, does it stand to reason that the spatial extent of any object doesn't extend into the 4th dimension?For example, since the three dimensional projection of a hypersphere changes diameter, does that mean the 4d dimensional analogues of earth are just different size earths?I also notice that in one of the miegekure videos the windmill in the new 3d space is like a cross section of the windmill but extending for a distance, Im guessing this is a product of the way the 4th dimension is discretized but Im wondering, what would that really look like if the game weren't made that way?
KeyboardFire 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's a shame it's only for iOS and Vive. I wonder how difficult it would be to make an open source desktop/browser version? Even if it's a lot simpler, it would be neat to feel what it'd be like to play around in 4 dimensions.
ghusbands 2 days ago 0 replies      
This and Miegekure show cross-sections or projections of a 4d space that are common but that show details that could not possibly be seen by functional 4D eyes. Are there any attempts out there at showing a 3D representation of what 4D eyes could see? (For example, if you have a solid 4D cube, you can only see the outside of it, but the cross-section shows parts of the inside, as happens you take 2D cross-sections of a 3D cube)
JoeDaDude 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are several 4D games, but the one I found gave me the best grasp of the 4D world is this one [1], a puzzle in which you manipulate a hypercube. You first play in 2D and 3D before going to 4D. You end up with an intuitive understanding of 4D.

[1] http://harmen.vanderwal.eu/hypercube/

Qantourisc 3 days ago 3 replies      
What annoys me most: "thing disappear" I don't recall 3D -> 2D mapping making things disappear, just surfaces hiding other surfaces. But this might not work in 4D?

With the 2D->3D they are taking cross-section, I really don't like these. Just throw it all on there ! This would also mean you project your 4D world on a 3D camera, you project on a 2D surface to display.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVo2igbFSPE <= this method is "saner" imo.

drewrv 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the first things I thought of when I got a vive is building an app to let one intuitively navigate and understand four dimensional space. I never had the time or talent to hack something together though so I'm glad this exists.

Something similar but less polished can be found here: http://www.albert-hwang.com/blog/2016/6/what-does-vr-reveal-...

Benjamin_Dobell 3 days ago 1 reply      
Odd. I just bought this on my wife's iPad. It opens, drops some shapes and then repeats. If you touch the screen it instantly crashes
wyager 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have any resources on orthographically projecting 4D objects to 3D or 2D spaces? I'm curious if it looks better than taking a cross-section.

It seems like it should work similarly; deform a 4-frustum into a 4-cube and drop one or two of the axes. I guess the number of axes you can drop depends on the symmetry of the frustum...

amelius 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if, after playing many hours with this game, the brain will suddenly "grasp" the concept of 4d.
aboodman 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't get this to run on iOS. Is it supposed to work? It just sits at the splash page playing a slightly interactive animation over and over. There's an arrow that I tried tapping and dragging and nothing happens.
throwaway135634 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that Flatland[0] wasn't mentioned in this


moopling 3 days ago 0 replies      
it would be interesting to see multiple views at the same time, like how when we try to represent 3d shapes in 2d (think mechanical design drawing, archetictural drawings, etc)
gyrgtyn 3 days ago 0 replies      
Might be useful for figuring out how to battle cthulu
Razengan 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm immensely interested in the prospect of higher spatial dimensions. Is it even possible to prove/disprove their existence from our 3D existence, and have there been any notable attempts to do so?
bbcbasic 3 days ago 0 replies      
He's going to make some coin from this.
microcolonel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why a box and not a hyperbox?
yev 3 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, it's so cool!
India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green nytimes.com
495 points by scdoshi  3 days ago   149 comments top 19
L_Rahman 3 days ago 5 replies      
Parts of the theory of disruption - specifically that an entity with less entrenched structures, can solve problems in more efficient ways - applies to nation states as well.

When 25% of your country has no electricity at all, you get to imagine parts of your grid from the ground up. If there's an expectation of load-shedding and your grid doesn't have to be at a 100% in all places, you have room to make mistakes. Most importantly, if the renewables aren't replacing but rather adding to your energy generation capacity, you don't have to fight entrenched fossil fuel businesses and associated regulatory capture to get started.

In many ways it's similar to how telephony spread in the developing world. They skipped landlines entirely and went straight to GSM.

I'm terribly excited about renewables in parts of Africa and the rural areas in South Asia. My family is originally from Bangladesh. The local grid is so unreliable in rural areas and Chinese solar equipment so cheap that most of my family members who live in villages just bought a solar installation instead of waiting around for the utilities to run wiring.

andrewwharton 3 days ago 4 replies      
Ha! Try telling this to the current Australian government...

The current narrative is that India desperately needs coal and our coal is the cleanest, so we need to dig it up [1] and sell it to them to help fight climate change, because otherwise they're going to get 'dirtier' coal from somewhere else. If you disagree, then you believe that Indians don't deserve electricity.

And this isn't a strawman, this is almost verbatim what's being said in Parliament. The cognitive dissonance with our current PM is strong.

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

pvsukale3 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am a young Indian. I have a dream . The dream that we are running electric vehicles. We have banned plastic everywhere. We have stopped burning our garbage. We have improved air quality. I think we can start with auto-rikshaws and public transport. Auto rickshaw constitute to a lot of traffic and pollution in the cities. We could replace them with smart electric ones. They move around only in cities so it won't be a big problem to build charging infrastructure. Then we could replace buses and increase their number. Ofcourse we need a lot of subsidies and incentives to make it happen. But it is POSSIBLE. but I need to build billion dollars companies ,sell them . Then use all that money to build this dream. I think someone did something like this in USA right? ;)
theprop 3 days ago 4 replies      
India is doing pretty well in green energy on the whole! India has the 4th largest energy generator from wind in the world. India has the largest solar power plant in the world (Kamuthi in Tamil Nadu). I at least hope that India is not inclined to return to coal with the US's exit from the Paris accord.


sandGorgon 3 days ago 0 replies      
One of the interesting segments was a feature made by a bearded David Letterman in Nov 2016 - around the problems with solar panel rooftops in the USA and the success these have in India.


The point it tries to make is that - the demand exists, the challenge is the govt and the policy makers.

One other point made in the same video is at the end by Prime Minister Modi - we need tech transfer from the US. Solar and nuclear . India is probably the only non-NPT country to be authorised by the US Congress for civilian nuclear technology sale.

But all bets are off now. One does not know how the current regime will operate due the "coal is best" rhetoric.

Of course, Tesla might still move to India given the repartee between Anand Mahindra (of Mahindra motors) and Elon Musk yesterday!


jpatokal 3 days ago 1 reply      
Last I checked, the reason India's coal power plants were running at 60% was not because of lack of demand, but because fixed prices make it uneconomical to produce coal and the government monopoly Coal India is utterly incompetent and inefficient even by Indian government standards...
xparadigm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah unless India influences corrupt politicians of neighboring countries to make coal based power plants in neighbouring countries and imports electricity from those plants. Search "Rampal Power Plant", "greatest mangrove forest of the planet" etc. Also please see: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/20...
Pxtl 3 days ago 5 replies      
One thing I learned on a trip to Kerala is that most people in the region actually burn their garbage - the government doesn't provide disposal service. While I'm sure the particulate and chemical emissions of this practice are awful, I'm curious about this carbon implications.
xrange 3 days ago 4 replies      
Anyone know more about India's nuclear story? At one time they were focusing on thorium. I wonder what we could do to spur on a little more competition with China.


Abishek_Muthian 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder why NYT conveniently chose to ignore the previous US administration's WTO complaint on India's local component requirements for solar panels and it's subsequent verdict against India.

India required US solar panel manufacturers to source cells from locally, which was challenged by US in WTO and subsequently awarded in it's favour. So it's not just India is moving forward with green energy in spite of 'unfair-share' in global climate policies but also moving against the hurdles imposed specifically targeting it's green energy movements.

rustoo 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an Indian, I'm really proud to read this. I'm hoping that they strategize this well and execute it well. India can easily harness wind and solar energy, create an really strong energy surplus and supply it to neighboring countries.

The whole region can benefit. India can be a beacon of peace and use it to stabilize the region and become a leader.

markaius 2 days ago 1 reply      
I know this is completely beyond the topic, and only relevant in regards to the website, but, as someone who has been convulsively clicking text while reading articles his whole life, this site design is absolute garbage. When i double click text I do not expect the site to interact. Double click in my world is known for highlighting. Not increasing font size. Sorry, end rant.
jklinger410 3 days ago 2 replies      
This seems precisely timed considering how Trump backed out of the Paris agreements partially because India was allowed to build MORE coal.
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
marze 3 days ago 0 replies      
Certainly not just India, the switch is nearly universal. Some countries are getting a faster start ditching big polluting coal plants than others. Three closed yesterday in the US, for instance.
NicoJuicy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Renewable energy is all automated and mining is innovation and creates jobs. India proves this


unsupak 2 days ago 1 reply      
Article headline is be misleading, India is still using 54% Coal in its Energy mix. India is still the top emitter of green house gases in the world.
hueving 3 days ago 4 replies      
India, "still a coal Goliath" is a better description. They burn a massive amount of coal compared to most countries.

They've just scaled slightly back on a massive coal consumption plan they implemented in the last few years. Nice, but hardly worth any recognition in the shadow of the damage they have already done.

robattila128 3 days ago 2 replies      
After watching this talk show with Alex Epstein I've realized the word 'green' is largely bs.


Green doesn't automatically mean better, and dirty does not mean coal and fossil fuels. It is how the technology is used. He argues alternative energy leads to deforestation, destruction of habitats, and deaths from vegetable oil which otherwise could be used to prevent some starvation.If you accept these things then alternative energy becomes extremely selfish by putting the burden out of your cities.

It's a good interview I hope you guys check it out.

Apple adds a tracker blocker to desktop Safari techcrunch.com
401 points by Allvitende  9 hours ago   224 comments top 25
code4tee 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Sounds like this is more in line with what they did with ApplePay vs traditional credit cards--I.e. They give you randomized IDs each time so the other party can't track you from transaction to transaction. Adds can still appear but they won't know who you are, so it's a direct shot at Google and others looking to give people "targeted" adds based on user behavior. I agree it's an issue that needs addressed. Just because I searched for X two days ago doesn't mean i want to see adverts on X for the next two months.
tannhaeuser 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Thumbs up for Apple distinguishing themselves by their pro-privacy stance, as opposed to MS, who don't have anything to win by Win10's excessive "telemetry" IMHO.
ghughes 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Here's the official blog post explaining the feature in depth: https://webkit.org/blog/7675/intelligent-tracking-prevention...
frio80 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks like this will stop (after 24 hours) some companies from doing an initial redirection to set cookies for tracking purposes... Example:

1. Search Google for hockey sticks

2. Click on search result hockeystick.com

3. hockeystick.com issues a 302 to adcompany.com which then issues a 302 back to hockeystick.com

Why the 302? Because in Safari, you could only access cookies in a 3rd party context if you've seen a domain in a 1st party context. Setting a cookie in adcompany.com in a 1st party context gives you the ability to read that cookie in a 3rd party context which could be used for tracking purposes.

vim_wannabe 9 hours ago 4 replies      
>Its not about blocking ads, the web behaves as it always did, but your privacy is protected, he added.

Does this mean browser fingerprint is somehow scrambled before it is sent to the tracker instead of blocking?

tptacek 8 hours ago 10 replies      
This is great, but unfortunately, until Apple ups its browser security game, Safari is a non-starter. On macOS, switching from any other browser to Chrome is in the top 3 things you can do to materially improve your security in ways that actually matter in the real world.
mmanfrin 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The cynic in me sees this as cutting off Google, and then tracking within the browser so they become the source of cross-internet tracking. I'd be on the lookout for any new 'personalization' feature that comes in to the browser. E.g. WWDC 2018: 'Today we're happy to announce Siri integration with safari! She will provide personalized recommendations and results by applying machine learning to your documents and data!'
tyingq 8 hours ago 5 replies      
The big question to me is whether it's enabled by default, and whether it blocks requests to Google Analytics. If so, that's an interesting shot across the bow.
floatboth 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Firefox (Nightly at least, I don't follow stable :D) also has built-in tracking protection, only in Private Browsing by default (about:config to enable everywhere).
theprop 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I read https://webkit.org/blog/7675/intelligent-tracking-prevention... which details this.

They're just being a little sophisticated in how they block third-party cookies. This will hardly stop other tracking scripts, tracking images, widely-used fingerprinting techniques and related js calls. So nothing remotely close to even Brave let alone a TOR or the Epic Privacy Browser.

Eric_WVGG 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It says a lot about the state of the web that both Apple and Google are looking at publishers and saying "Look, if you won't fix your websites, we'll fix them for you" (Google in the form of AMP on mobile devices). However, as one of those who subscribes to the opinion that AMP breaks the web, I greatly prefer Apple's approach.

It makes me wonder how many publishers at national newspapers and magazines are even aware of whats going on.

kgabis 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, I hope this becomes a common practice from other vendors as well.
hellofunk 9 hours ago 6 replies      
It's unclear to me how these "trackers" work? How do they track you, is it cookies, or what?
flukus 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Advertisers will finally move their tracking behind their CDN's, which was always the end goal for them and why they were free in the first place.

Then we have a problem where the industry is reliant enough on CDN's that browsers can't simply block access.

horsecaptin 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For those who are technically inclined:https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts
jasonkostempski 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Does Apple have access the data? Because that wouldn't be any better.
l0stkn0wledge 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, and in the same keynote, they let Siri track stuff down you 'might' be interested in based on patch searching.
suyash 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you Apple for taking a stand for user's privacy.
truth_speaker 7 hours ago 1 reply      
binthere 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Later they demoed they can track your interests in what you've read on the web to show you personalized news on their news app and keyboard autocompletion.
josefresco 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"the web behaves as it always did"

Uhhh, not really. Even if the behavior is unwanted, the web will not "behave" the same - otherwise the feature does nothing.

659087 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Glad to see a player big enough to cause some damage taking this up. At this point, anything that harms Facebook/Google and those trying to mimic their data collection tactics should be considered good for the web and internet.
webuser321 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Meanwhile Apple is tracking users 24/7.

There is no option to turn off phoning home to Apple in Apple's pre-installed operating systems. Every user of iOS is constantly pinging Apple servers all day every day.

Connect an iOS device to the internet and watch the network. The user is given no control over this. All users are assumed to need Apple's help setting the system time.

The networking functionality of NeXT/Apple's operating systems is based on open source BSD operating system code.

But BSD does not phone home to some organization when you install it. Why not? Surely Apple's approach is the best one for all users, right?

It is amusing to watch these companies proclaim they will block others from tracking and serving ads while continuing to siphon user data themselves, often in ways that are all but transparent to users. Apple can block everyone else, then I can block Apple. OK by me.

Someone in this thread made some comment about Microsoft Edge not tracking users. Do people seriously believe nonsense like that? MS was dumping debug output via DrWatson to the network long before collecting user data for profit was even a strategy.

Connect a Windows computer to the internet and watch the network. All on by default. Unlike Apple, they have no prepared explanation/justification why they need to do this.

And even if they did, who cares? Users prefer not to be tracked. Companies are admitting they know this.

Users could opt-in to tracking if they believed they were getting some benefit.

But that is not how this game works. There is no "opt-in". It is on by default. There was no intention to make tracking a "choice".

Probably because companies know what the choice of users would be and it would not be favorable to the company.

But that is not something we are allowed to discuss.

webuser321 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It is well-known that Apple uses Omniture (acquired by Adobe, aka SiteCatalyst, aka 2o7.net, etc.).

As in Remember, "SWF" stands for Small Web File. Yes, they actually tried to get users to swallow this when Shockwave Flash started to be used in devious ways, such as to track users.

Omniture's business is third party tracking cookies similar to Google Analytics or KISSmetrics. Not sure and don't care whether Flash is used so much anymore. If too young to rememeber search and ye shall find information about "permanent, Flash cookies" that could not be removed.

Apple is not saying "We will not engage with companies selling third party tracking cookie services." Clearly they are not opposed to third party tracking cookies in principle.

Instead they are announcing some change to their browser. Wow, exciting. It is not clear what exactly this announcement accomplishes for users. Probably nothing. If you are trying to avoid ads and tracking, popular browsers (without extensions, etc.) are not your friends.

quotemstr 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Do you want crappy ads? Then go ahead, make tracking more difficult. Tracking helps you see ads for things you actually want to see. It's not some kind of grand conspiracy.
Jean Sammet, co-creator of COBOL, has died nytimes.com
420 points by andrewbinstock  1 day ago   99 comments top 18
StevePerkins 1 day ago 7 replies      
I've been watching a TV called "Halt and Catch Fire", about the early PC industry in the 1980's. I've enjoyed it very much, but sometimes I feel like the writers sacrifice historical plausibility to create strong female leads for a contemporary audience.

Ironically, so many of the GIANTS of computing's earliest days were female. Even at the rank-and-file level, women made up an astonishing number of early programmers. If you talk to retirement age people in our field, you'll find that mainframe developers were commonly female all through the 1960's and 1970's. It wasn't until the PC revolution that the field shifted to become more exclusively male.

I wonder when we'll see writers and TV/film producers start to explore that period of history? I'm sure there are some amazing stories that could be told. The crazy thing is, even if you just presented the field as-is without any embellishment, most people would assume that you were re-writing history in the name of political correctness. Most of the general public (hell, most young professionals in our field) just has no idea about this.

maxharris 1 day ago 12 replies      
Dijkstra said it best in 1975: https://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/EWD/transcriptions/EWD04xx/E...

And before you get angry at me, answer this simple question: have you actually ever used COBOL? I spent a year of my life translating a COBOL mess into Delphi. It was horrible - the code I was working with had no functions (unless you think of a module defined in an entire file as a function), global scope on variables, and tons of ugly COBOL boilerplate, as dictated by the language.

And it's no surprise that COBOL was a historical dead-end. Unlike FORTRAN and Lisp, it begat nothing.

That's why I'm hard-pressed to venerate anyone that had anything to do with perpetuating that mess.

EamonnMR 1 day ago 1 reply      
Her work on the History of Programming Languages conference is enlightening. Good reading if you can get a hold of it.


nooyurrsdey 1 day ago 0 replies      
She had a large impact on modern business. My own mother works in IT and writes COBOL for a living.

Thanks for your contribution, Mrs. Sammet

Pxtl 1 day ago 2 replies      
I guess it says something sad about my prejudices that I saw the name "Jean" and assumed it was a man's name. I forgot that the field was so much more inclusive of women back then.
atemerev 1 day ago 3 replies      
Cobol's legacy lives as PL/SQL, ABAP, and other enterprise data handling languages. While everybody is quick to point that this is not "real programming", they required astonishing amounts of engineering efforts to make things work.

I would love to see a decent, modernized COBOL -- the same way they have modernized Fortran, so it is now a pretty decent numerical computing language. It would be a great hit.

edtechdev 1 day ago 1 reply      
She proposed natural language programming over 50 years ago.http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=365274

There still hasn't been a whole lot of progress, although there have been some research projects and some closed source applications like Inform7 and WolframAlpha.

rory096 1 day ago 0 replies      
breck 1 day ago 3 replies      
Her book "Programming Languages: History and Fundamentals" is not available as an eBook and is out of print and costs over $100 used on Amazon. Would be great if there was a cheaper way to read it.
smarks 1 day ago 0 replies      
Although Ms. Sammet's passing has been previously discussed here on HN, this new NYT article provides a different and somewhat more colorful perspective on the life of this remarkable woman. Worth a read.
ninjakeyboard 1 day ago 0 replies      
Black-bar worthy?
nthcolumn 1 day ago 0 replies      
COBOL was a foundation language in CS101 30 years ago and it was outdated then. There were jobs in legacy COBOL. Probably still are. It sucked but not as hard as RPG II.
killin_dan 1 day ago 0 replies      
No black bar? There's billions of lines of COBOL throughout the world. BILLIONS!
stesch 1 day ago 0 replies      
martincmartin 1 day ago 2 replies      
HN should have a black bar in honor of this.
jxub 1 day ago 4 replies      
To like COBOL, you need to posess a particular kind of rigid corporate mindset. I wonder whether it's fathers/mothers had the mentioned physic structure, or it was a fruit of 50's salaryman mental subjugation. No offense ment.
maxharris 1 day ago 2 replies      
"I think that, like species, languages will form evolutionary trees, with dead-ends branching off all over. We can see this happening already. Cobol, for all its sometime popularity, does not seem to have any intellectual descendants. It is an evolutionary dead-end-- a Neanderthal language."


WSJ Ends Google Users' Free Ride, Then Fades in Search Results bloomberg.com
351 points by mudil  8 hours ago   294 comments top 41
leggomylibro 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Makes sense from Google's point of view.

You are no longer providing value to our users. You will be quickly replaced with something that provides more value to our users.

Androider 8 hours ago 13 replies      
If you click a search result and end up seeing something completely different than what you expected based on the search result snippet, it shouldn't matter if you're the WSJ or a scam site trying to hack your Google rank. It's deceiving the user and inflating your search ranking at the expense of more deserving listings.
rory096 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Note that the Twitter workaround still works:



Just append site:twitter.com to your Google search, click through, and voila.

chollida1 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Watching this very closely, I pay for a WSJ subscription because I think their content is better than most, and also because I get sent alot of links to their content. Something about this later point feels like the argument people make about using Office because people still send them Excel and Word docs.

Similar to how software companies release free software to augment what makes them money, Bloomberg is able to spend a lot of money on producing content that is sponsored by their terminal subscriptions.

The WSJ might be in a unique situation where their primary audience will pay, often due to companies footing the bill for employee's, so perhaps they can be one of the few news producing companies that doesn't have to depend on Google for traffic in that their primary audience loads up their front page multiple times a day just to see what's there.

I wouldn't be surprised if they did a deal with Bloomberg to provide their content on terminals to further strengthen their ties to their core audience.

glitcher 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the tradeoff WSJ opted for, and it really doesn't make sense for it to work both ways. Web crawlers can't index content behind a paywall, end of story.

Where WSJ has a big advantage is that they already have brand name recognition. From the stats in the article it appears that this was a profitable choice for them, however, a lesser know content publisher seeking to monetize using paywalls is bound to have a much more significant challenge attracting users without decent search result rankings.

jasode 8 hours ago 3 replies      
>The Journal decided to stop letting people read articles free from Google after discovering nearly 1 million people each month were abusing the three-article limit. They would copy and paste Journal headlines into Google and read the articles for free, then clear their cookies to reset the meter and read more, Watford said.

After the harder paywall, what's the best guess of the percentage of those google-copy-pasters will convert[1] to subscribers paying $278 or $296.94 or $308.91 per year? My guess is less than 1/10th of 1%. I assume the vast majority of the 1 million are casual readers who don't have $300 discretionary income to splurge on a subscription. If they can't read for free with a workaround, they'll do without it.

In related trivia, I just read that The Economist's strategy is to allow the google-copy-pasters.

I'm not judging either company as right. It's interesting they go about it differently.

[1] 1 year costs must include full rate to the teaser introductory rates: https://buy.wsj.com/wsjusjune17/

exelius 8 hours ago 7 replies      
I reluctantly recognize that in order to have an unbiased press, we need news readers to pay the costs of operating a newspaper. I'm happy to pay for my news, because I want news to be truth, not propaganda.

Maybe the moral of the story is that Google News isn't the best source of news -- just the cheapest.

Though I do think it would make sense for historical articles (i.e. articles older than some arbitrary time period) should be removed from the paywall so as to be searchable and able to be referenced.

thetruthseeker1 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is free market capitalism that Rupert Murdoch's company Fox News promotes.

Google News fundamentally improved the online content publication system by making it cheaper to its consumers.

Earlier, there were too many news companies whose content didn't necessarily have an edge over some other news agency's and they charged money (which worked in an age where no internet existed), and google has fundamentally squeezed some of them including WSJ.

If the differentiating quality was present, more people might have been willing to pay for WSJ.

When Harrison Ford made cars, lots of businesses who built business around the inefficient means of transport (i.e the horse) like providing fodder for horses, and blacksmiths who were building horse shoes or the ones building horse carts got squeezed.

Same here. Internet and google has removed an inefficiency in the news system. They need to adapt and provide a differentiating quality, else they will perish - The principle of free market capitalism.

If WSJ needs google to behave a certain way so that it can make more money, that is not free market capitalism.

1024core 8 hours ago 2 replies      
> restricting the rest to its 2.2 million subscribers or people who arrive via social media.

So they're fine with people from "social media" getting a 'free ride' ?

sfilargi 8 hours ago 4 replies      
Forbes tried something similar a while ago, by preventing ad blocker users to access their articles. How did that work for them?
workerIbe 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This is great, for a while it seemed 80% of the top 5's were WSJ, I got really tired of clicking to read a headline and getting the pop up saying something like "Wow, you clicks us a lot, you must like us, how about you pay?", Well no, actually you are just over ranked on so many topics...
yjgyhj 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Online Adverts are a form of micropayment. It's currently the only way to charge sub-cent amounts from users. It requires the third party of an advertiser, which is a very expensive middle man.

If we can figure out how to do micropayments without users needing an account somewhere (like PayPal), we can get rid of ads. That is the ultimate solution to this long-winding conflict between users, advertisers and content creators.

27182818284 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This submission's headline left out the other part of the opening sentence

 After blocking Google users from reading free articles in February, the Wall Street Journals subscription business soared
So their views of free folks fell while paid subscriptions rose. I would think those subscriptions would be worth it, but as the article mentions "...argue that Googles policy is unfairly punishing them"

Personally, I would think that the subscribers would make it more worth it. Afterall, I ended up adding components on to my NYTimes subscription and often forget that I pay monthly for it because it isn't that expensive compared to, say, home Internet and such.

gumby 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved this at the end of the article:

> Tech companies are always going to do whats in the interest of their business,

As opposed to what businesses? Jeez, talk about a sense of priviledge.

mnm1 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Good. These articles should be discriminated against by Google and ranked on the second page at best. They are worthless. Without the subscription, the whole site is worthless. Google is just reflecting that. WSJ has no right to complain. If they don't like it, they should make their content not be worthless. Pretty damn simple solution but it seems they prefer to whine instead. If these idiots haven't yet understood the market for online content, it's pretty hopeless anyway. People don't want to pay money for content online, they will only pay with their privacy and personal data. There is enough content to fill up millions, maybe billions of lifetimes. What part of the supply / demand equation does the WSJ not get? Google is a search engine for finding information on the Internet, not their personal ad agency. When people search for news, they want to find news, not some paywall. How is it Google's duty to hurt their own business so they can show what are essentially foreign ads it makes no money on (nothing more, nothing less) to its users?
shaunol 4 hours ago 0 replies      
WSJ is discriminating against Google's user-base by blocking content that Google presumed the user would have access to. Yet WSJ thinks they're the ones being discriminated against. As WSJ is finding, Google will not even bother attempting to index, sort and recommend content that is unavailable to 99.999% of its user base. It's nice that they're supposedly better off, or at least the same off, without high Google results. Though I doubt this will stop them from endlessly attempting to game the system.
cornedor 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Google will be very helpful toward WSJ after they convinced a lot of companies to stop advertising on YouTube.
fourthark 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I find that the WSJ abstracts are usually enough - I'm just clicking to find out what was behind the bait.
breck 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe there's an opportunity for a coalition of sources (WSJ, NYT, Bloomberg, WP, et cetera), to get together with a SE like DuckDuckGo and allow deeper search integration in some type of paid membership plan.
mwexler 6 hours ago 2 replies      
This sounds a lot like the Net Neutrality argument: All content should be treated as equal, whether it's pay or not, whether it's powered or supplied by the search engine/ISP or not.

Is there harm in ranking good content appropriately high (if relevant to the search) if it's clear that there is a cost to access it? Could Google just sigil "paid content" with a $ or or whatnot?

Medaber 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure if this will hurt the paid subscription model. I pay for WSJ. People who want to rely on "free" news deserve the news they get.

While their google traffic may decrease, they may end up getting more paid subscribers.

edem 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Why would I pay for their articles when they are no better than the free alternatives? This is the same as Quora vs StackOverflow. Not only the latter is vastly superior it is also free.
eddyg 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank goodness there's one good use for AMP pages then, right?


snarfy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"You are definitely being discriminated against as a paid news site.

That's not discrimination.

AKluge 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how careful they were to distinguish between someone who cleared their cookies, and two people behind a nat. It's possible that the number of people abusing their system was smaller than they think.
0003 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Missing: links from Facebook increased significantly. (I imagine)
jasonkostempski 8 hours ago 1 reply      
About a year ago I made myself a little browser plug-in to remove all links to sites I never want to visit again, wsj.com was the first one I added.
meow_mix 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This "discrimination" is by design, they should quit crying
cft 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It allows to read with FB referrers. On desktop Chrome, use Referrer control extension with facebook.com http://www.jongales.com/blog/2014/02/13/how-to-get-around-th...

On mobile, make a private FB post visible only to yourself.

angry_octet 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Aptly demonstrates the effects of Trump think. A complete ignorance of network effects, the belief effect in decision making.
AngeloAnolin 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think WSJ is wrong in saying that they are being punished by Google for their paywalled articles appearing last in search results.

Google has algorithms that would need to actually crawl the entire content, to ensure that it will provide the most relevant result. If it is unable to crawl the entire content, then it becomes just as hard to rank the same in the result.

Changing the algorithms to rank simply on the title and the first few (free introductory) paragraphs of articles behind paid subscription can lead to more bogus results. Google knows that invalid search results in turn disengages their users from perusing their search engine.

realmcsae 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There's gotta be a way around this method...maybe letting bots view the whole article.
dangayle 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A time machine is the only solution. As a web developer for a family-owned newspaper who recently removed our failure of a metered-paywall, the only solution I've been able to come up with is a time machine that sends a killer robot back to 1995/1996 and remove the incompetents industry wide who decided to give away their expensive to produce content for free.
gnicholas 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My startup is about to launch a partnership with the Wall Street Journal that will give our users free, un-paywalled access to the WSJ site.

If you want to join our beta, which is ongoing, sign up at www.ReadAcrossTheAisle.com. The beta is free, and our app is free as well. Hopefully this is relevant/useful for folks in this thread.

m-p-3 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The decided to put their content behind a paywall, which makes the data needed to sort it accurately in the search results unavailable.

You can't have your cake and eat it too, WSJ.

magic5227 8 hours ago 4 replies      
As it should.

Paywalls present a worse user experience than say Bloomberg.com which shows its content for free.

majani 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like something that can be solved using special metadata for paywall sites, along with a process to approve those who claim to be paywall sites.
bpchaps 6 hours ago 0 replies      
@damn - Could you followup on your comment that you might disallow WSJ if they ever did this?


DanielBMarkham 7 hours ago 2 replies      
This is going to sound cold, but we need to have an honest chat here.

I would like a way never to see another WSJ or Forbes article on the internet.

I understand their need for profit, and I applaud them trying various things. They might be the best thing since sliced bread. I applaud a free press. They have a solid reputation, and I wish them the best.

However, I'm never going to pay. Ever. So I don't need to see their ads, I don't need to follow-through on Google clicks. I just need them to disappear from my internet experience completely. If you're going to run a paywall, I would like to never be exposed to your brand name or the fact you have content online. There are simply too many of you and too little minutes of concentration that I have to offer.

If one day I see a physical copy of one of these publications and decide to subscribe? That might be a lot of fun. But for now, don't waste any of my brain cells showing me stuff I'm never going to consume. Worse yet, leading me down some garden path only to be ambushed at the end with a paywall. Life's short. Your publications are not an important part of mine. I think part of the problem here was conflating the fact that X number of people clicked through with the assumption that somehow these were paying customers just freeloading (see the title of the article).

That was never the case.

mudil 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Google touts itself as a company that wants to catalog all the knowledge. How is it possible that WSJ content ranking falls after the introduction of the pay wall? Google has the ability to crawl behind the wall content, and yet it downgrades the WSJ content. In my opinion, this is an abuse of its search dominance position.
Jimmie_Rustle 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You are definitely being discriminated against as a paid news site.Jesus fucking christ, what a sentence. 'Google-bot can't index our pay-walled articles... DISCRIMINATION!!!' fuck wsj, seriously
Ask HN: Books you wish you had read earlier?
568 points by jmstfv  2 days ago   256 comments top 106
smaddox 2 days ago 2 replies      

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, because it changed my understanding of people for the better.

"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard Feynman, because it gave me a model for how to enjoy life.

"Models" by Mark Manson, because it helped shape my understanding of heterosexual relationships.

"An Introduction to General Systems Thinking" by Gerald Weinberg, because it illuminates the general laws underlying all systems.


"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A Heinlein, because it showed me a philosophy and "spirituality", for lack of a better word, that I could agree with.

"The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand, because they showed me how human systems break, and they provided human models for how to see and live in, through, and past those broken systems.

"Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality" by Eliezer Yudkowsky, because it set the bar (high) for all future fiction, especially when it comes to the insightful portrayal of the struggle between good and evil.

Houshalter 2 days ago 3 replies      
Rationality: from AI to Zombies really changed my way of thinking in many ways. It's very hard to describe it or sell it in a few sentences. Partly because it covers so many different things. And partly because I read it so long ago and have already absorbed many of the good ideas in it. They no longer seem exciting and new, and just feel obvious. But they certainly weren't when I first read it.

I constantly see places where an idea from the book is relevant and I want to make people read a chapter of it. Examples include insights into evolution, artificial intelligence, morality, and philosophy. There's a short section on how people tend to argue about the definitions of words and how unproductive this is, that I always find relevant. There's a lot of discussion on various human biases and how they affect our thinking. My favorite is hindsight bias, where people overestimate how obvious events were after they know the outcome. Or the planning fallacy, which explains why so many big projects fail or go over budget.

The author's writing style is somewhat polarizing. Some people love it and some people hate it, with fewer in between. He definitely has a lot of controversial ideas. Although in the 10 years since he started writing, a lot of his controversial opinions on AI have gone mainstream and become a lot more accepted than they were back then.

nindalf 2 days ago 2 replies      
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It gave me a good understanding of where we, as a species, came from. What did we do, why did we spread across the planet, how did we replace other hominids? What I really appreciated was his ability to explain some of the underpinnings of society like religion, nation states and currency with a relatively simple idea. Afterwards I felt like "damn that's so simple, I should have thought of that!" When you think that, you know you're on to something good.

On Writing by Stephen King. This a biography masquerading as a book on writing advice... Or its the other way around. Whichever it is, I think it's a great book for any aspiring writer to read. King explains the basics on how to get started, how to persevere and through his experiences, how not to handle success. Full of honesty and simple, effective advice.

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari. Most people agree that the War on Drugs is lost and has been lost for decades now. But why did we fight it in the first place? Why do some continue to believe it's the correct approach? How has it distorted outcomes in society and how can we recognise and prevent such grotesque policies in the future? This book offers some of those answers.

Only if you're Indian - India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha. Sadly almost every Indian I've met isn't well informed about anything that happened in India after 1947, the year India became independent. History stops there because that's the final page of high school history textbooks. An uninformed electorate leads to uninformed policy, like "encouraging" the use of a single language throughout the country. If I were dictator, I'd require every Indian to read this book.

cocktailpeanuts 2 days ago 2 replies      
The Master Switch : This really puts a lot of things into context, especially if you're in tech industry. It's basically a history of the entire Information Technology, and it's fascinating how same things happen over and over again, pendulums swing back and forth over and over again, and people keep making same mistakes over and over again. Also you can see the larger picture of why some large tech companies make the decisions they make, and how to successfully compete if you are into that.

You will become a pessimist for a while after reading this, just because it feels like there's no meaning in all this since everything repeats itself and nothing is forever, but when you recover from it you'll find yourself much more insightful about the industry and can make better decisions.

kristiandupont 2 days ago 0 replies      

I love all the answers in here but please, please answer with more than just a title! I want to know why I should care about a book -- sell it to me, don't just throw it out there and ask me to do the work.


gmunu 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.

You hear 'ancient wisdom' on how to lead the good life all the time. These ancient aphorisms came from a time before the scientific method and the idea of testing your hypotheses. Tradition has acted a sort of pre-conscious filter on the advice we get, so we can expect it to hold some value. But now, we can do better.

Haidt is a psychologist who read a large collection of the ancient texts of Western and Eastern religion and philosophy, highlighting all the 'psychological' statements. He organized a list of 'happiness hypotheses' from the ancients and then looked at the modern scientific literature to see if they hold water.

What he finds is they were often partially right, but that we know more. By the end of the book, you have some concrete suggestions on how to lead a happier life and you'll know to the studies that will convince you they work.

Haidt writes with that pop science long windedness that these books always have. Within that structure, he's an entertaining writer so I didn't mind.

gkya 1 day ago 5 replies      
The bible, cover to cover: if reading western literature or philosophy produced in whatever year A.D., the bible is required reading for comprehending many the references and various rhetorical modes. I'm irreligious from a muslim background myself but I'm reading it now. Same goes for the qoran, my family is not a practicing muslim family and thus I never read it, but it's a part of the canon, must be read. I'm not sure if I would like to have read these earlier tho, as now I have the consciousness to not be fooled by the stuff in these books.

Karen Armstrong's A Short History of Myth is a very nice guide into mythology and what that and religion are. It's like a vaccine for any sort of fundamentalism or bigotry, if read with some accompanying knowledge of mythological traditions.

vizvamitra 2 days ago 2 replies      
"The Design of Everyday Things" by Donald Norman.

Technically this book is about how humans interact with things, but actually it covers a lot more topics that one can think: how humans act, err, how they make descisions, how memory works, what are the responsibilities of conscious/subconscious. Also you'll start to dislike doors, kitchen stoves and their disigners)

tudorw 1 day ago 1 reply      
Man's Search for Meaning (published under a different title in 1959: From Death-Camp to Existentialism) by Viktor Frankl who survived the concentration camps to go on to develop logotherapy and existential analysis (considered the third Viennese School of Psychotherapy). "lack of meaning is the paramount existential stress. To him, existential neurosis is synonymous with a crisis of meaninglessness", an interesting read, it does not focus on the horrors of the event, instead recognising the human capacity to overcome and rise above.
bor0 2 days ago 1 reply      
"How to Prove It" by D. Velleman. Introduces logical reasoning, set theory, functions, relations, and proofs. It is the base for understanding any mathematical subject.
abalashov 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish I had read Real World Divorce, much of which can be found on realworlddivorce.com. It's notable for the fact that Philip Greenspun is a major contributor to it, which I found most surprising and intriguing.

I don't want to duplicate a lot of text, so I'll link to my Amazon review of it:


TL;DR it's the only bit of literature I've found that's got the real talk, and in data-and-comparison driven ways hackers will appreciate.

Yeah, obviously I'm going through a divorce, but I really think this book should be required reading for anyone before they get married in the US. I don't say that lightly or confer that kind of veneration unto books at the drop of a hat.

SirLJ 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wish as a kid I had access to the following:

"More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite" https://www.amazon.com/More-Money-Than-God-Relations/dp/0143...

Market Wizards, Updated: Interviews With Top Traders https://www.amazon.com/Market-Wizards-Updated-Interviews-Tra...

The New Market Wizards: Conversations with America's Top Traders https://www.amazon.com/New-Market-Wizards-Conversations-Amer...

Hedge Fund Market Wizards: How Winning Traders Win https://www.amazon.com/Hedge-Fund-Market-Wizards-Winning/dp/...

chegra 1 day ago 2 replies      
Mini Habits - It gave me a new perspective of how to go about making changes in my life, that aren't so burdensome.

I have developed several habits:

a. Writing a Gratitude Journal

b. Going to Gym in the morning

c. Programming in the morning

d. Reading in the morning

I copied some of my highlights here:


beagle3 2 days ago 2 replies      

The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind, / Julian Jaynes. Hard to tell if crazy or genius, but well worth a read. Read at 38, wish I had read this at 20 or so. Most of us take our inner voice for granted, but should we really? And what if there was evidence supporting the idea that there's another inner voice, but our modern upbringing suppresses it (but it does reappear with some illnesses, under duress, etc)?


Different Seasons / Stephen King. A collection of four stories, NOT your usuall King horror genre; one of which became the movie "Stand By Me". another became "The Shawshank Redemption", the third became "An Apt Pupil", and the fourth will likely never become a movie. All are excellent. I actually read it at 16, which was the right time, but I'll list it here anyway; if you've seen the movies and liked them, it's worth reading - the stories are (a) much more detailed than the movies, in a good way, and (b) related in small ways that make them into a bigger whole than the individual stories.

Management (software/hardware oriented):

Peopleware / Demarco & Lister - read after I was already managing dozens of people. Wish I had read it long before. This book is basically a list of observations (with some supporting evidence and conclusion) about what works and what doesn't when running a software team. Well written, and insightful.

The mythical man month / Fred Brooks - wish I had read this before first working in a team larger than 2 people. Written ages ago, just as true today; A tour-de-force of the idea that "man month" is a unit of cost, not a unit of productivity.

faragon 2 days ago 1 reply      
Eye-opening/shocking books:

"Science et Mthode" (Henri Poincar, 1908)

"The Conquest of Happiness" (Bertrand Russell, 1930)

"The Revolt of the Masses" (Jos Ortega y Gasset, 1930)

"Brave New World" (Aldous Huxley, 1932)

"Reason" (Isaac Asimov, 1941, short story)

"Animal Farm" (George Orwell, 1945)

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" (George Orwell, 1949)

"Starship Troopers" (Robert A. Heinlein, 1959)

"The Gods Themselves" (Isaac Asimov, 1972)

"Time Enough for Love" (Robert A. Heinlein, 1973)

chadcmulligan 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KK0PICK/ref=kinw_myk_...

It's about tidying up, but also about making your living space harmonious without clutter. It's not one of those get a box and put your pencils in it and then label it.

CamperBob2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Borges: Collected Fictions (https://www.amazon.com/Collected-Fictions-Jorge-Luis-Borges/...)

IMO you won't really understand the nature and limitations of fiction until you've read JLB. His work won't change your life, as such, but it will divide it into two parts: the part that took place before you read him, and the part that comes after. You'll always be conscious of that division.

mindcrime 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Four Steps To The Epiphany by Steve Blank. I've learned more about "what goes into building a startup" from reading this book than any other book I've read.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. One of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. A strong reminder to remain true to yourself in the face of all sorts of challenges and adversity.

Mastering The Complex Sale by Jeff Thull. I don't claim to be a great, or even good, salesman. But if I ever become any good at selling, I expect I'll credit this book for a lot of that. I really like Thull's approach with is "always be leaving" mantra and focus on diagnosis as opposed to "get the sale at any cost".

The Challenger Sale by Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon. Like Thull, these guys deviate from a lot of the standard sales wisdom of the past few decades and promote a different approach. And like Thull, a core element is realizing that your customer aren't necessarily fully equipped to diagnose their own problems and / or aren't necessarily aware of the range of possible solutions. These guys challenge you to, well, challenge, your customers pre-existing mindsets in the name of helping them create more value.

The Discipline of Market Leaders by Fred Wiersema and Michael Treacy. A good explanation of how there are other vectors for competition besides just price, or product attributes. Understanding the ideas in this book will (probably) lead you to understand why there may be room for your company even in what appears to be an already crowded market - you just have to choose a different market segment and compete on a different vector.

How to Measure Anything by Douglas Hubbard. It's pretty much what the title says. This is powerful stuff. Explains how to measure "things" that - at first blush - seem impossible (or really hard) to measure. Take something seemingly abstract like "morale". Hubbard shows how to use nth order effects, calibrated probability estimates, and monte carlo simulations, to construct rigorous models around the impact of tweaking such "immeasurable" metrics. The money quote "If it matters, it affects something. If it affects something, the something can be measured" (slightly paraphrased from memory).

I wish I'd read each of these much earlier. Each has influenced me, but I'd love to have been working of some of these ideas even longer.

lowpro 2 days ago 1 reply      
Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, especially good if you're feeling down or disallusioned.
JSeymourATL 13 hours ago 0 replies      
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams.

Turns out the creator of Dilbert was at one time a mid-senior level manager in Corporate America, who attempted several failed entrepreneurial ventures over the years. He's also a brilliant writer. Totally hooked by Chapter 3: Passion is Bullshit > http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17859574-how-to-fail-at-a...

huac 2 days ago 3 replies      
A non-tech, non-business recommendation: "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Milan Kundera. A beautiful story, told with equal parts philosophy, psychology, and humor, and honestly heartbreakingly beautiful.
williamstein 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers" by Geoffrey A. Moore and also his recent "Zone to win". His books explain some of the "deeper structure" to tech business, and is one of the few business-related books I've read that has any depth. By "depth", I mean in the sense that I'm used to from research mathematics (I'm a number theorist by training), where you learn something about a problem that lets you think about problems in a more detailed way.
nscalf 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Art of Learning by Joshua Waitzkin. I was definitely in the right place to take in the topic, but it was, more or less, a book on how you can be "good" without much effort, but to be great or the best, it takes a lot of hard work and time. This book helped me learn that lesson.

On top of that, some of Tim Ferriss' stuff on accelerated learning. Learn how to learn first, then learn everything else.

zem 2 days ago 2 replies      
i discovered 'the phantom tollbooth' in grad school (for some reason, it was pretty much unknown in india when i was growing up). i'm pretty sure kid me would have loved it even more than adult me did.
satwikhebbar 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The Self-aware Universe" by Amit Goswami. Opened my eyes to a new way of looking at the world around us, and finding new ways to react to events that affect us. Wish I'd read this when I was much younger - before I had decided with a high level of confidence that I am completely in control of everything I do, all that happens to me and how I react to events. Seeing yourself as a minuscule part of a whole you perhaps will never fathom, allows you to simply focus on doing your best when you can and not get overly possessed with results. One of the many mystic-physics books that were very much in fashion for a while, but the one that stuck to my consciousness the most.
WillPostForFood 2 days ago 0 replies      
Getting Real - got me out of the corporate grindSICP - got me out of the OO grind

Each one had a significant positive impact on my life. And both a free online!



paraschopra 1 day ago 0 replies      
_The Beginning of Infinity_ changed my worldview from thinking progress is slowing down or problems in the world are overpowering to a more hopeful one where problems always be there for humans to solve, and that through human activity we can keep making progress. It also gave hope that one day in future, we might be able to clearly see that good, bad, evil, love, beauty might be fundamental aspects of universe, just like gravity, atoms, and radioactivity is. It also walks through philosophy of science (v/s pseduo-science). All in all, I wish I had read it earlier.

_Feeling Good_ because of the tools it contains to battle self-defeating feelings that lead bouts of sadness or depression. I wish everyone would read that book so that they can build mental immunity against circular, depressing thoughts.

kabdib 1 day ago 0 replies      
_The Art of Electronics_. As a software guy who sometimes is involved in embedded systems, having a good understanding of what's going on at the resistor/capacitor/transistor level would have helped a lot. I did a bunch of hobby electronics as a teenager, but never had circuit theory. I knew a lot about digital design, but not the analog stuff that the whole world ultimately rests on.

So now, when I hear a switching power supply whine in protest, I will think of it as the squeals of pain of the engineers whose life I turned into a living hell because of my lack of appreciation for P = IV. Im truly sorry. I wasnt thinking. (And this is just the first chapter of that book).

tjalfi 2 days ago 2 replies      

 Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard Feynman What Do You Care What Other People Think? - Richard Feynman Crime and Guilt: Stories - Ferdinand von Schirach

 The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov

 Bulldog: A Compiler for VLIW Architectures - John Ellis

queeerkopf 1 day ago 0 replies      
To Have or To Be? by Erich Fromm.

I did read it fairly early and it had an quite an impact on my life and thinking. It put into words a lot of my discomfort with a life focused on materialistic success. And it was inspiring seeing an intelectual combining so many of the thoughts and topics he developed during his lifetime into one coherent and approachable book.

dinosaurs 1 day ago 0 replies      
On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

I read it at 18 and I wish I had read it way earlier. It taught me to be mad, to live life, to get out and see the world. But looking back at it, it also taught me how to be responsible and how to not to be a jerk.

It, above all, showed me what beautiful writing is.

Joeri 1 day ago 1 reply      
The left hand of darkness, by Ursula Le Guin.

I found it by working my way through the list of joint nebula and hugo award winners (which is a really fun project, because all of them are amazing books). It is my favorite sci-fi book. It changes the way you look at gender, especially if you haven't questioned the concept much before.

Schwolop 1 day ago 0 replies      
How to Become CEO: The Rules for Rising to the Top of Any Organization by Jeffrey J Fox

I found this book in a library's junk pile, evidently unread. It has one of those bad 80s covers that suggest it'll be terrible, but to my great surprise, it's great! It's 80 or so one page missives/dictums/edicts that'll take barely half an hour to read through - I re-read it every time I have a job interview coming up or a some kind of major life choice. The author's tone is abrasively direct; this is how it is, not how it should be. And the advice isn't just for wannabe CEOs, it's accessible and attainable for everyone.

alexilliamson 1 day ago 2 replies      
"The Silk Roads: A New History of the World" By Peter Frankopan. This book tackles essentially all of human history, tying together the world's major cultural shifts with the socioeconomic forces that brought them to pass. For readers who have implicitly come to believe that the center of the world has always been Western Europe (I had), this book will greatly shift your perspective (Eastward). I've never learned so much from a book, and damn is it entertainingly written.

"Getting Things Done" by David Allen. I'm sure everyone here is familiar with bits and pieces of GTD methodology, but I encourage you to check out the full text. There are a lot of great ideas in there there that I didn't find reading online about GTD. I have been a serious GTD user for more than a year now, and I feel amazingly more in control of my life. Everything I've done in that time - from planning my wedding, to projects at work, to completely organizing my house - has gone smoother than I can remember projects going ever before.

lorenzorhoades 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I always found this question pretty impossible to answer. There are so many books that i find myself wanting to recommend, and the list soon becomes unmanageable. So, instead i'm going to provide a different resource - Patrick collisons whole library. He color coats the books he thinks are great, and lists hundreds of books. https://patrickcollison.com/bookshelf
tmaly 2 days ago 1 reply      
4 Hour Work Week, it gave me some perspective on the 9-5 job I wish I had given more thought to earlier in my life when I had more time.

80/20 principle, while mentioned in the 4 hour work week, it really has a lot more to offer in the book. How you should go about leveraging your time. There was a real gem in there about how books are really the best way to acquire knowledge and a great way to approach reading in the university.

There was a speed readying and studying book I came across from a friend that owns a book store that really helped me. I wish I had that book before I entered high school. I can never recall the name, but I will try to find it.

henrik_w 2 days ago 0 replies      
How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie - a timeless classic for people skills, useful in almost all circumstances.
adekok 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Gift of Fear (Gavin Debecker) - how to deal with bad people

The War against Women (Marilyn French) - the underlying premise is wrong, but reading it is a good way to learn how to deal with semi-rational, but insane theses. And yes, I can defend this position with quotes / paraphrases from the book, with rational explanations as to why it's insane

How the Police generate false confessions (James Trainum) - former cop explains why harsh interrogation techniques are counter-productive, and how to defend yourself

Get the Truth (Philip Houston et all) - how to tell when people are lying, via simple techniques you can remember

rwieruch 2 days ago 1 reply      
ebcode 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Out of the Crisis" by W. Edwards Deming. The author was one of a handful of people who helped the Japanese apply methods of statistical control to their manufacturing processes, which in turn helped them to become an economic superpower after their country's occupation by the Allies. In the book the author takes a deep look at the problems of management in the United States, and provides a list of reforms that would lead businesses "out of the crisis". I only recently learned of W. Edwards Deming, and I wish that I had known about him much earlier.
pombrand 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise" because I've been learning ineffectively my whole life not knowing that I was. Should be required reading for every 15 year old. The best, most science based book I've ever read about learning effectively.
nihonde 1 day ago 0 replies      
Eric Hoffer, The True Believer. You will see applications for the principles in this book in all aspects of society and politics. Easy to read and unassailable insight into what makes people join a common cause.
widowlark 2 days ago 1 reply      
Metamagical Themas by Douglas Hofstadter. This book has taught me more about thinking differently than any other.
habosa 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Don Quixote. Specifically the translation by Edith Grossman.

In high school I was assigned this book but I didn't read it all, it seemed like a waste of time to read 1000+ pages about a silly knight.

A few years ago I got into reading a lot of fiction translated from Spanish and Don Quixote got back on my radar so I decided to give it another try. I was blown away. It's astounding that a book from 500 years ago is still so funny and engaging today. Grossman's translation makes the book accessible and very enjoyable. If you didn't know the history you'd believe it had been published in the last few decades.

I recommend this because it's the best example of how literature can be time travel. When I smile at one of the adventures in the book I know that I'm sharing an experience with readers across centuries. There's almost no other way to get that feeling.

ssohi 2 days ago 1 reply      
Fooled By Randomness & The Black Swan by Taleb
gingerjoos 22 hours ago 0 replies      
The Human Zoo - Desmond Morris ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/333063.The_Human_Zoo )

Morris uses his background as a zoologist to examine human beings as a regular animal; many books have come out of this approach. In this one he draws parallels between the city-dwelling human and the caged animal. This sort of perspective gives you self-awareness about your own tribalism and how we as a species deal with the opposing forces of individuality and longing to belong to a group. Also some ideas on the urban-rural divide that has consequences that leave people on either side puzzled (Brexit, Trump etc.)

davidgh 1 day ago 0 replies      
How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson. Walks you through a half dozen foundational inventions and the process through which they came to be. Fascinating to see what the inventors were trying to solve vs. how the world ended up applying their technology.

Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand. If you haven't read the book don't judge it by the (awful) movie.

The Liberators: My Life in the Soviet Army. Really opens your eyes to the problems and realities of communism. I love the author's dry sense of humor as he witnesses the absurdity of many of the things he encountered.

Sniper on the Eastern Front, Albrecht Wacker. A view of WWII through the eyes of a German sniper.

Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account, Miklos Nyiszli. A view of the holocaust through the eyes of a Jewish doctor in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

tedmiston 2 days ago 1 reply      
A popular recommendation here, but Getting Things Done by David Allen.
galfarragem 1 day ago 1 reply      
The book that I should have read (and re-read) earlier:

No more Mr. Nice Guy -- Robert Glover

edpichler 2 days ago 0 replies      
On the shortness of life, by Seneca.
miqkt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Rollo Tomassi The Rational Male

If my younger self had read this, I think my course of life would be very much different than it is right now. Just a caution that it might come off as misogynistic ramblings for some readers.

ozovehe 2 days ago 0 replies      
Animal farm by George Orwell: a revelation of the beginning and end of revolution and 'change'.Jewish wisdom for business success.Call of the wild by Jack London: it shows how possible it is to adapt in order to benefit maximally from change -- using a dog's (Buck) life.
arjmandi 21 hours ago 0 replies      
the hard thing about hard things(Ben Horowitz): This book is mostly recommended for managers but I found it very useful to adjust my estimations about life. Also, you will learn about silicon valley history and it's dynamics.

The fifth discipline (Peter Senge): This book is one of the systems thinking references and it helped me to learn more about hidden dynamics in the world around me. I truly wish I've read this when I was junior in college.

perfmode 2 days ago 1 reply      
A People's History of the United States
Razengan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Below The Root [0], by Zilpha Keatley Snyder.

A highly imaginative, original, and underrated, world setting.

Also had the distinction of having a sequel in the form of a video game, with the game's story written by the book author herself. [1]

The game (for the PC, Apple II and Commodore 64) was way ahead of its time in 1984: [2] and I only just heard of it and the books last month! It definitely needs more recognition.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Sky_Trilogy

[1] http://blog.stahlmandesign.com/below-the-root-a-story-a-comp...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdUBefQ1cT4

jxub 2 days ago 0 replies      
Think and Grow Rich. Amazing, though maybe simplistic, insights.
real-hacker 1 day ago 1 reply      
Books that are mentioned multiple times in this thread:The master switch; Sapiens/Homo Deus; How to Win Friends and Influence People; The animal farm; The lean startup; The Bible.

Ctrl+F these names in this page for rationale.

Is there an "awesome books" repo on Github? I wonder.

xparadigm 2 days ago 0 replies      
A Short History of Nearly Everything -- Bill Bryson
d0mine 1 day ago 0 replies      
"A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science" by Oakley http://barbaraoakley.com/books/a-mind-for-numbers/

Despite the title it is useful for learning how to learn in general (not just math). Simple techniques supported by the research. I wish I didn't had to reinvent them in high school, college.

xaedes 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The Hero with a Thousand Faces" from Joseph Campbell.

It opened my mind to understand metaphors and analogies in literature. It allowed me to peek under the surface of text. Seriously, every written piece I read after that was different for me than before.

It also gave me more insight in the human mind and psyche.

Being able to read and understand more literature also gave me more perspectives and deeper understanding of the world and place of mankind in it.

Some other nice reads:

"The Way of Zen" - Alan Watts

"The Book" (On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are) - Alan Watts

"Demian" - Hermann Hesse; but I wouldn't want to read it earlier. I think I read at the exact best time for me (in my late 20s).

Anand_S 17 hours ago 0 replies      
1. The One Thing. ~ Gary Keller2. Mini Habits. ~ Stephen Guise3. Learned Optimism. ~ Martin Seligman4. Spark. ~ John Ratey5. Miracle of Mindfulness. ~ Thich nhat hanh
feignix 1 day ago 0 replies      

1. Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyesbecause it's so beautifully written and made me experience a flood of emotions.

2. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-ExupryAgain, a very touching, charming book about a little kid's world(universe?) view, told through his adventures.


1. The subtle art of not giving a F*ck - Mark MansonOpened my eyes to what I was possibly doing wrong with my life.

2. Radical Acceptance - Tara BrachStill currently reading it, but I wish I'd found it earlier.

CodyReichert 2 days ago 0 replies      
1) Superintelligence. This is a really great read about the implications of AI, or general intelligence. It's really intriguing and brings up so many scenarios I've never thought about. Anyone interested in AI should definitely read this.

Similarly, On Intelligence is an absolutely brilliant book on what 'intelligence' is, how it works, and how to define it.

2) Hooked. Although it's very formulaic, Hooked provides a lot of good ideas and approaches on building a product.

3) REWORK. If you're a fan of 37 Signals and/or DHH, this is a succinct and enjoyable read about their principles on building and running a business.

Currently I'm reading SmartCuts and The Everything Store - both of which are great so far.

rachkovsky 1 day ago 0 replies      
No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. It's so good. I keep rereading it. Does wonders to my motivation and productivity.
Lordarminius 1 day ago 0 replies      
A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
ThomPete 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes

It was the first time I read someone who was thinking about the mind like I am and was able to put into words some of my own more vague thoughts.

It's definitely going to leave you thinking.

Amogha_IO 2 days ago 3 replies      
There are some books I keep coming back to when I am "feeling lost and/or hopeless", when my "back is up against the wall and/or feel cornered", when I feel like I have "hit rock bottom" or I just need to "escape reality"... This list contains books I have read/listened to more than a couple times:

!For inspiration:! 1. Loosing my virginity (Richard Branson)- Richard Branson's Autobiography. From student magazine to Virgin to crazy ballooning adventures and space! I keep coming back to this when I feel like I need a morale boost. There isn't an audible version for this book, but there is a summary-type version on Audible "Screw it, Let's do it"- does a good job curating the exciting parts.

 2. The Everything Store (Brad Stone) 
-AMAZON and the man leading the massive team behind it. Jeff Bezos is quite easily one of the most important and influential people in the world. His relentless pursuit to build Amazon (& it's various products) amid constant setbacks, losses and naysayers... I personally use Amazon and their products every day. It's a really interesting view of how things are run backstage.

 3. Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson) 
- One of the most popular books in the Valley. Almost all startup founders I have met has read this. They usually have a very polarized view of Jobs after reading this. Take the good stuff and leave out the bad/crazy. Jobs was a very polarizing person and so is his biography...This is a very long book. "The second Coming of Steve Jobs" by Alan Deutschman is another really good book and a much shorter read and not super-polarizing (leaves out some of the crazy stuff from early life). Other notable Steve Jobs books I have read & highly recommend: Becoming Steve Jobs & The Steve Jobs Way.

 4. Elon Musk (Ashlee Vance) 
-Another polarizing book. I am a Spacex & Tesla Fan-boy. I picked this up in 2015 the day it was launched! I have read this at least half a dozen times by now. Hard-work, perseverance and creativity to the max. A must read for every entrepreneur.

 5. iWoz (Steve Wozniak) 
-If you are a technical-founder, this is a must read! Gives a very interesting view of- behind the scenes at Apple during its inception and early years. I was really moved by how humble Woz was/is and I am inspired by his problem solving approach.

 6. How Google Works (Eric Schmidt, Alan Eagle & Jonathan Rosenberg) 
- A very good book to read after/before this: "In the Plex" by Steven Levy. Hands down the two most important / influential books while you are starting something new. I read these while I was contemplating conceiving my startup and giving up the "safety" (illusion of safety) of a "normal-job". A must read for anyone planing to start a company and want to take it to the stratosphere (or higher)!

 7. Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama) 
- Another polarizing personality. A short but powerful memoir by Obama. This gives a unique insight into Obama's thought processes. Most people can relate to this and every "Leader" must read this. It really helps clear some of the fog on- what makes an effective leader.

!Business & Management:!

 1. The Upstarts (Brad Stone) 
-An amazing story about AirBnB and Uber. Culture is key and culture is defined by the Founders and the first few hires. The two companies are extremely similar in many ways (timing, shared economy, disruptive) but radically different in the way they are run. This came out earlier this year and is probably one of the best "startup-books" of 2017!

 2. Zero to One (Peter Thiel)
-A very short book, a must read for every entrepreneur. Dives into "first principal" thinking & execution. A very good read after/before "Elon Musk" the biography by Ashlee Vance.

 3. The power of Habit (Charles Duhigg)
-I have always wondered how successful people get so much done. They have the same amount of time as everyone else, but they are able to get so much more done...how? This book answered that question. Ever since, I have been using "Habits" as my ultimate personal tool. Day & night difference when you figure out how habits are formed how they are broken and how you can influence the process. A good companion book (from the same author) "Smarter Faster Better".

 4. How to win friends & Influence people (Dale Carnegi)
- I bought this book freshman year in college. I tried reading it then and gave up / got bored after the first few pages. I really wish I had actually made an effort to read the whole thing. It sat on my shelf collecting dust. Luckily I picked up the book again and gave it another shot. I read this during a particularly "rough-patch" at our startup- really helped me cope with the "situation". What was once a boring book is now scribbled with notes, bookmarks and highlights. A very useful life-guide.

 5. How to win at the Sport of Business (Mark Cuban)
- A very entertaining yet eye-opening book. It is very short, finished it in a couple hours. A must read for every entrepreneur. I keep coming back to this when I feel like things are going dreadfully slow and I need a boost. If you follow Mark Cuban's blog, skip this. It is mostly a summary of his blog posts.

 6. Finding the next Steve Jobs (Nolan Bushnell)
- Finding good talent and retaining it is probably the single most important thing you will do as startup founders (especially if you are the CEO). Many things in this book seem obvious (if you are familiar with the Silicon-valley culture). A good read before you set out to hire your dream team of "rockstars". A good companion book: "Outliers" By Malcom Gladwell.

 7. The hard thing about hard things (Ben Horowitz)
-Are you in a startup? If the answer is YES, then read this NOW. Ties well with "Finding the next Steve Jobs". I wish I had read this before I started my company. I have lost track of how many times I have listened to this audio-book.

 8. Start with the Why (Simon Sinek) 
- Mid-late 2013 I came across Simon Sinek's ted talks on the golden-circle and my mind was blown. I bought the book the very next day and I keep coming back to my notes whenever we are starting a new project. Get the "Why?" right and the product will define itself. This is true for building companies as it is for building great products. A must read for every entrepreneur.

 9. Art of the Start (Guy Kawasaki)
-Getting ready to pitch? read this! Also watch Guy's many presentations/talks on YouTube. A good companion book- "Pitch Anything" By Oren Klaff

!Escaping Reality! 1. Hatching Twitter (Nick Bilton)-Sooooo much drama! Definitely learnt what not to do! Very interesting read.

 2. The accidental Billionaires (Ben Mezrcih) 
-I have heard that not everything in this book is "completely-true" (more distorted than others...) but still a great read!

 3. The Martian (Andy Weir)
- Hands down the best science fiction book I have read. I have lost count how many times I have listened to the audio-book (probably >15). I want to go to MARS!

 4. Harry Potter Series. 
-My go-to "background noise". I read the books as a kid. I use the audio-books to tune out the world when working on stuff that does not require my full attention (Listening Goblet of Fire as I type this)...

 5. Jurassic Park || The Lost world (Michael Crichton)
- Read the books as a kid. I usually listen to it while I am traveling. Still gets me as excited as it did when I first read the book. (The movies are nothing compared to the book...)

 6. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) 
- I am looking forward to reading the entire series. Read it once, listened to it many times (lost count). I love Space!

 7. Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)
-I picked this book up while I was working on a VR project back in 2014. An excellent book for re-reads and a nice place to get some inspiration.

!Other honorable mentions:! Actionable Gamification (Yu-Kai Chou) I invented the Modern Age (Richard Snow) Inside the tornado (Geoffrey Moore) Jony Ive (Leander Kahney) Sprint (Jake Knapp) The lean startup (Eric Ries) The selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins) Titan (Ron Chernow) The inevitable (Kevin Kelly) The Innovators (Walter Isaacson) Scrum (Jeff Sutherland)

!Most if not all have an audio-book version!

If you are in a startup or plan to start one soon, reading/listening to books should become a routine. I try to get through at least one book a week, sometimes two.

Good luck!

mattbettinson 1 day ago 0 replies      
The power of now changed my life. Hard to describe without sounding hokey
vecter 2 days ago 0 replies      
How To Be A 3% Man by Corey Wayne [0]

I'm 30 now. I wish I had read this when I was 20. It would've made dating in my 20s so much easier. I came across it last year and it's probably the single most important book I'll ever read in my entire life, for the sole reason that understanding women will allow me to have a successful marriage one day. I cannot recommend this enough.

[0] Free online: https://www.scribd.com/doc/33421576/How-To-Be-A-3-Man

novalis78 1 day ago 0 replies      
"How to get what you want", by Raymond Hull. Everything else follows, like a bootstrapping process. Wish I had found it 10 years earlier. Changed my life forever. I could recommend dozens other books, my walls are lined with shelves of books, but you and me are different and all you'd need is this one book to find everything else you'd need to read or do.
peternicky 1 day ago 0 replies      
In no particular order:

- So Good They Can't Ignore You- Deep Work- Hackers by Steven Levy (perhaps my favorite book)- Learning How To Learn- The Person and the Situation- The Art of Money Getting- Make It Stick- The Algorithm Design Manual- Moonwalking With Einstein- Extreme Ownership

mbrodersen 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"How Not To Die" by Dr Michael Greger, Gene Stone. It really changed my mind about how to achieve long term mental and physical health.
wowsig 1 day ago 0 replies      
Discovered a lot of fresh books and reasons for reading them.

I've collated the ones with interesting reasons for reading them here --> http://shelfjoy.com/sia_steel/books-hn-wished-they-had-read-...

BJanecke 1 day ago 0 replies      

The Mythical Man Month && Design Of Design by Fred Brooks

Everything else

Hitchhikers Guide (Existentialism does not have to be edgy)The Foundation Series (Bureaucracy and Institutionalization will never undermine Ingenuity)Dune Series (Plans within plans)

ankitank 2 days ago 1 reply      
A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami
pedrodelfino 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hackers and Painters from Paul Graham. I wish I had read that when I was 14 years old.
shivrajrath 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late

This book is a detailed research on what's wrong with the world and what can be still done. The chapter II brings inputs from various culture on approaches that could improve from ground up. Must read book for us and future generations.

Can someone suggest something similar to this book?

imsodrunklol 22 hours ago 0 replies      
A little late to the game but this book changed my perception of reality.

Saving the Appearances: A study in Idoltary by Owen Barfields

You won't regret it.

palerdot 23 hours ago 0 replies      
The slight edge

This is a very interesting book that emphasises how small persistent things matter in life. Changed my worldview for good.

pmoriarty 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish I'd read some good books on fitness and nutrition when I was younger. It could have saved me a whole host of health issues.
CamTin 1 day ago 0 replies      
/Cannery Row/ by Steinbeck. It's a short read, but it packs in a lot of insight about the human condition. I re-read it every year or so, and still learn new things.
Entangled 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Anatomy of the State" by Murray Rothbard.

We live in a world of thieves masqueraded as leaders.

razzaj 1 day ago 0 replies      
The upside of irrationality. Ariely

Germs guns and steel. Jared Diamond

Influence, the psychology of persuasion. Cialdini

Justice: what's the right thing to do. Sandel

QED. Fyenman

All of Feynman lectures on physics

The hard thing about hard things. Horowitz

Al muqqadimah. Ibn khaldun

wdr1 1 day ago 0 replies      
A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Helped me understand investing.
egonschiele 1 day ago 0 replies      
Evicted. Showed me how racism is still alive today, how bad it actually is to live in poverty even in a wealthy country in the USA. Tore down a lot of assumptions I had made.
du_bing 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Art of Computer Programming series, by Donald Knuth.They are so well written and full of humor, I can not think of any technical book(or any kind?) written as good as these.
makeset 2 days ago 1 reply      
Code Complete by Steve McConnell https://www.amazon.com/dp/0735619670
febin 2 days ago 2 replies      
The Holy Bible

Start With Why

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Think Like a Freak


zabana 1 day ago 0 replies      
Pretty much everything ever written by William Gibson should do.
gtirloni 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Denial of Death (Ernest Becker)
cmmn_nighthawk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Metaprogramming Ruby by Paolo Perrotta
johnsmith21006 1 day ago 0 replies      
The Goal and then the Phoenix project.
jinxedID 2 days ago 0 replies      
The Effective Executive.My company did not prepare me very well for being a team lead.
akulbe 1 day ago 1 reply      
The Personal MBA.

Deep Work.

How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Think and Grow Rich.

The E-Myth Revisited.

The Science of Selling.

(stuff about stoicism)

BevanR 2 days ago 1 reply      
The lean startup. How to win friends and influence people.
booleandilemma 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
K0SM0S 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Stoicism is by far the best philosophy I've ever encountered. Some people call it "the best operating system for the mind", and I very much agree with that statement.

It changed my life more than any other corpus of ideas. I can't overstate how much better I feel now that my brain is running on a 'Stoic OS', especially on an emotional level --which was the hardest to deal with as I'm rather hyper-sensitive; now my emotions have truly become an almost entirely positive force in my experience of life, regardless of their nature, good or bad, of said emotions; in fact I no longer even qualify emotions on this scale; and the same goes true for an overwhelming majority of my thinking.

This book is the personal journal of one of the greatest roman emperors, leader of the (western) world at the time. A rare enough occurrence in the history of leaders, he was deemed 'worthy of his position' on a human and philosophical level by most people who knew him.

A couple remarks: "philosophy" as seen by ancient authors and thinkers is not a strictly intellectual or abstract endeavor, not a scholarly matter, at least not at its core. Philosophy is the closest equivalent they had to what we'd call "self-development" today. It's very down to earth, 'life recipes' of sorts, simply to educate and help people deal with this elusive brain of ours. Seneca's and Epictetus writings are also excellent food for thought, food for one's mind. Imho, philosophy, litterally the "love of wisdom", is something we should deeply reappropriate, both as individuals and whole societies.

Relatingly, Stoicism used to be taught from childhood throughout most of human history in the western world (and it could be argued that Asia has its own equivalent philosophies). For some reason, we ceased teaching philosophy to children around the turn of of the 20th century, which leaves most people with a lack of means to deal with their emotional circumstances. I'm one of those who consider this to be a dire pity, especially in our day and age. I think it sorely shows in public discourse and interpersonal relationships, and the end result is too much suffering that is entirely preventable.

Meditations is easy enough to read, but if you want something more modern, I found The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday to be a very good introduction to Stoicism.


As A Man Thinketh by James Allen. It's as short as it is good for the mind, the building/making of one's persona. Well worth a read at least once in your life, there are many 20th and 21st century self-development books (e.g. How to Win Friends and Influence People) that I believe drew some of their teachings from this 1903 classic.


The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Regardless of where you find the information contained in this book (there are many works on the topic, both modern and throughout history), this book helps understanding that living in the present moment is critically important, and a key to happiness. Notwithstanding the 'wu-wu' aspects of Tolle's particular take, it just works. If you find yourself constantly dwelling on the past, or being a 'nostalgic of the future' (as I both used to do), knowing the value of living 'in the now' may be the difference between chronic depression and a fulfilling experience of life. It certainly is for me.

bonhasgone 1 day ago 0 replies      
The compound effect - Darren Hardy.
zedshaw 1 day ago 1 reply      
How to See Color and Paint It -- It taught me how to see color and paint it. Also how to use a palette knife which makes my paintings very different and fun.

Remembrance of Things Past -- I'm still reading this, as it's a massive stream of consciousness book, but I wish I'd started it when I was younger so that I'd be done with it by now. It's just so weird to read it and experience the writing that I enjoy it for simply being different. As you read it just remember that every ; is really a . and every . is really \n\n.

Van Gogh: The Life -- I absolutely hate the authors. They're great at research, but I feel they had a vendetta against Van Gogh of some kind. Throughout the book, at times when Van Gogh should be praised for an invention, they make him seem like a clueless dork. Ironically, their attempt to portray him as a dork who deserves his treatment ends up demonstrating more concretely how terrible his life was because he was different. I think if this book were around when I was younger I might have become an artist instead of a programmer.

A Confederacy of Dunces -- Absolutely brilliant book, and probably one of the greatest examples of comedic writing there is. It's also nearly impossible to explain to people except to say it's the greatest example of "and then hilarity ensues".

Mickey Baker's Complete Course in Jazz Guitar -- After a terrible guitar teacher damaged my left thumb I thought I'd never play guitar again. I found this book and was able to use it to learn to retrain how my left hand works and finally get back to playing. Mickey Baker's album also brought me to the Bass VI, which got me thinking I could build one, and then I did and now I've built 6 guitars. I play really weird because of this book and I love it. This book also inspired how I wrote my own books teaching programming and without it I'd still be a cube drone writing Python code for assholes. If I'd found this book when I was younger it most likely would have changed my life then too.

Reflections on A Pond -- It's just a book of this guy painting the same scene 365 times, one for each "day of the year" even though it took him many years to do it. All tiny little 6x8 impressions of the same scene. I learned so much about how little paint you need to do so much, and it's also impressive he was able to do it. I can't really think about anything I've done repetitively for every day of a year. I've attempted the same idea with self-portraits but the best I could do was about 3 month's worth before I went insane and started hating my own face.

Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting -- Instructionally this book isn't as good as How To See Color, but as a reference guide it is about the most thorough book on painting there is. It's so huge it's almost impossible to absorb all of it in one reading, so I've read it maybe 5 times over the years.

ctdavies 1 day ago 0 replies      
Das Kapital. You know why.
rom16384 2 days ago 1 reply      
The bible
balladeer 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anna Karenina, A Suitable Boy, and the like. Excellent books but after college it's been difficult to start and keep at them in a acceptable period of time given the time (or lack of it) is an issue now. I also wanted to read Ulysses. I am stuck around the ~20% of Dostoyevsky's Idiot since a long time. Off late I've had better success with shortner ones.

For me the reason is simple - it's just the daunting number of pages and it is a shame that I have not read/finished these books.

deepnet 1 day ago 0 replies      
"From Bacteria to Bach the evolution of minds" by Daniel Dennet.

Should be called How Minds Evolve as Heirarchies of Darwinian Turing Machines ( analagously to Deep Neural Nets (Dennet cites Geoff Hinton and Edinburgh's Andy Clarke).

"working computer models have been developed that can do a good job identifying handwrittenscribbled, reallydigits, involving a cascade of layers in which the higher layers make Bayesian predictions about what the next layer down in the system will see next; when the predictions prove false, they then generate error signals in response that lead to Bayesian revisions, which are then fed back down toward the input again and again, until the system settles on an identification (Hinton 2007). Practice makes perfect, and over time these systems get better and better at the job, the same way we doonly better" p.178 [1]

"Hierarchical, Bayesian predictive coding is a method for generating affordances galore: we expect solid objects to have backs that will come into view as we walk around them; we expect doors to open, stairs to afford climbing, and cups to hold liquid. These and all manner of other anticipations fall out of a network that doesnt sit passively waiting to be informed but constantly makes probabilistic guesses about what it is about to receive in the way of input from the level below it, based on what it has just received, and then treating feedback about the errors in its guesses as the chief source of new information, as a way to adjust its prior expectations for the next round of guessing."

Which echoes Richard Gregory's concept of vision (or perception) as a hypothesis continually tested against input.

This is Paradigm shifting; weltanschauung shattering stuff. Dennet very clearly lays out a methodology for how all aspects of minds can evolve using heirarchical compositions of wetware robots or :

"Si, abbiamo un anima. Ma fatta di tanti piccoli robot!(Yes, we have a soul, but its made of lots of tiny robots!)" p.24 [1]

[1] https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/253900/from-bacteria-to-bach...

1S9C8G4 1 day ago 0 replies      
metaphors we live by
Profragile 2 days ago 1 reply      
The Richest Man in Babylon.
A list of practical projects that anyone can solve in any programming language github.com
449 points by emersonrsantos  1 day ago   55 comments top 18
cylinder714 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Exercises for Programmers:57 Challenges to Develop Your Coding Skills by Brian P. Hogan


gruez 1 day ago 0 replies      
>SQL Query Analyzer - A utility application which a user can enter a query and have it run against a local database and look for ways to make it more efficient.

Non-trivial if "look for ways to make it more efficient" means non-trivial suggestions (ie. not "add moar indexes").

eridius 1 day ago 5 replies      
My go-to for this sort of thing has always been Project Euler (https://projecteuler.net/).
karangoeluw 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hi all. It's Karan here - the creator of this repo.

Thanks OP for posting the link; I'm glad to see people like it. I'll be reading comments here, so keep 'em coming. ;)

thearn4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for sharing. I'm putting together materials for a course on data structures that I'm teaching this fall.

I have the theory part covered, but I'm always on the lookout for things that could make for decent practical assignment problems - reasonably attainable in scope, but without being too contrived.

lanna 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Prime Factorization - Have the user enter a number and find all Prime Factors (if there are any) and display them.

not to sound pedantic, but for any integer greater than 1 there is always at least one prime factor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_theorem_of_arithme...

edit: for prime numbers, it is the number itself

slaymaker1907 1 day ago 0 replies      
You might add in some basic (useful) encryption like RSA. There's a running joke in the CS department at my university that every other class has to teach RSA, so it is not incredibly difficulty to do.
madsbuch 1 day ago 3 replies      
Great list for inspiration! Though, it is not true that all the problems can be solved in any programming language: try to make a "Bandwidth Monitor" in Coq.
ghubbard 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There's also http://exercism.io/ where you can solve problems and get/give feedback on the solutions.

The platform is all open source on Github.

djaychela 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this - I'm just beginning on the long journey of learning programming, and have been looking for challenges to set myself now that I have (some) of the basics down (but large, practical projects are still somewhat daunting).
megamindbrian 10 hours ago 0 replies      
How do you feel about actually solving them in any language and then documenting the solution?https://github.com/megamindbrian/jupytangular
bloaf 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd like to make a wikipedia-of-code where each page corresponds to a "project" like the ones listed here. The project entry would look like a Jupyter notebook, and you can edit/execute the code freely.
rtpg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've actually been working on this while trying to help a friend learn programming.

I've been looking for some meatier projects that still have good feedback loops, without requiring too much domain knowledge.

For example, I've been working through a project with the friend that involves scraping prices off of a website and trying to build a thing to automatically order things off of the websites.

Multiple distinct parts, each with their own, very visible, success state. But at the same time, not too many challenging domain specific issues (main issue was just explaining CSS selectors and form POSTs).

bonoetmalo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I really like Rosetta Code esque projects. Rosetta Code has been somewhat abandoned as of late recently though.
mekicha 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree. This is a great list. Will like to see some game projects as well, and more in the security section too.
jnbiche 1 day ago 5 replies      
Any other lists of projects like this?
grimmfang 1 day ago 1 reply      
Should one consider them self skilled if they can complete all of these projects with some amount of ease?
UK PM wants to ban crypto: here's what it would cost, and why it won't work anyway boingboing.net
398 points by ColinWright  1 day ago   216 comments top 45
firethief 1 day ago 5 replies      
> Theresa May says there should be no "means of communication" which "we cannot read"

The article focuses largely on the technical difficulties and implementation risks that make this goal impractical. I would like to point out that the goal in question is explicitly Orwell-style surveillance.

joshpadnick 1 day ago 6 replies      
I'm also deeply concerned about "backdoors for the good guys". Beyond just worrying about who else could get access, the "good guys" really just means government, and my comfort level with the current Trump administration using their "good guy" backdoor for a noble purpose currently sits at zero.

All that being said, how do we the tech community solve Theresa May's problem? Her philosophy is "if we knew more, we could have prevented this." Is that the right philosophy? Is there some other mechanism to authorize "legitimate" access to encrypted data?

hughw 1 day ago 3 replies      
Why even permit people to have secrets of any kind? The real "problem" is not encryption, but people keeping secrets. Encryption is just one way of keeping a secret. With a law banning private secrets, they could throw anyone in jail for not answering a question.

If the government has a back door to read all your messages, they are saying they don't want you to have any secrets at all -- but electronic messages are the only ones they know how to pry open.

kikoreis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here's an idea. Instead of spending the effort on a damaging, losing battle on the technology side.. let's invest in social inclusion, mental health and healthy foreign policy in the middle east.

Catching the madmen on the wrong side of the curve makes much less economic sense.

foreigner 1 day ago 3 replies      
It helps to give non-computer people a non-computer analogy: This is equivalent to requiring the walls of the houses we live in and the clothing we wear to be made out of special material which is opaque to us but see-through to the police. This will keep us all safe! Anybody got a problem with that?
nickbauman 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'd give her a chance to retract this anyway, but otherwise PM May has revealed that she is either a fool or an autocrat. Either should get her voted out of office.
brian-armstrong 1 day ago 4 replies      
You can hide meaning in plain English just by making it hard to read your intentions or the context that the sentence is given in. Take double entendres for example. Should we ban any grammatical construction that could possibly hide some second meaning?
pier25 1 day ago 1 reply      
"Terrorists can discuss things in private at their homes so we are going to put cameras on every home"

Same argument, just as ridiculous.

jacquesm 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, let's increase the size of the haystack. I've yet to see proof that having the ability to read each and every communication would have prevented any attack that from the last couple of years. For the most part the criminals communicated in clear text SMS or on open phone lines or in game chatrooms. If they needed advanced crypto that would prove at least that we have done everything else to make their lives harder, but so far it looks as if there is plenty of low hanging fruit.

Suggestion: reduce the size of the haystack further so that limited manpower can be concentrated on those cases where it is actually useful rather than to chase each and every 16 year old with a twitter account or a facebook page.

age_bronze 1 day ago 7 replies      
This propaganda about good guys backdoors being impossible again. This is cryptographic bullshit of the highest degree. We've had the DUAL_EC scandal, for once, as an example of NSA backdoor which as far as was proved, only the NSA could crack. And with the fact that the NSA had so many bad leaks, yet still everyone except the NSA can't crack it, proved that backdoors are not only possible, but were going on behind our backs.

Don't get me wrong - I'm completely against backdoors. But when you shift the argument into "we won't do it because it's impossible", you're already agreeing that it should be done, while your argument won't hold because it is in fact possible.

There's three kinds of people: 1. Non-technical people (theresea may) that want backdoors are don't care about whether it's possible or not.2. Technical users, with a vague general knowledge of cryptography, and the imprinted thumb rule of "backdoors are bad"3. People with actual knowledge in cryptography which had already been doing research about why it is possible for years. Just a teaser: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleptography

Of course, the real issue would be the scale and the distribution of access to the backdoor to various agencies.

659087 1 day ago 0 replies      
It really does seem that these people have lists of power grabbing desires ready and waiting for the next attack. I imagine this woman's first private reaction to the news of this attack was not sadness or concern for the victims, but joy/excitement about the possibility of exploiting the situation to achieve her political goals.
gaius 1 day ago 2 replies      
Think of something you don't do yourself, but would like to see banned. Could be guns, drugs, fox hunting, cars, eating meat, religion, anything, it doesn't matter.

Now consider there are people who feel exactly the same about your thing as you do about theirs. Civilisation absolutely requires that for them to leave you alone, you must be willing to do the same.

age_bronze 1 day ago 0 replies      
The real issue on putting backdoors, the way I see it, is that once you gave one government an access, you've already set a precedence and you can now be compelled by other governments to do the same.

Giving other governments backdoors would actually hurt the original country more than the backdoor could ever help it.

Segmenting the software according to which government is given backdoor will freeze the whole industry, and you would still have the unsolvable problem of imported protocols with different countries backdoors.

If the problem was only "good guys"-"bad guys" it would be solvable, but there are no good guys. There are so many countries, and each of them trust only themselves.

AdeptusAquinas 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Misses an additional point: they would need to ban software development. Or at least, dev by unapproved, unmonitored parties.

Code to encrypt using one (of the many) algorithms shipped in .NET (which is open source right down to the compiler, and so hard to tamper with):

 RijndaelManaged RMCrypto = new RijndaelManaged(); CryptoStream CryptStream = new CryptoStream(NetStream, RMCrypto.CreateEncryptor(Key, IV), CryptoStreamMode.Write);
Even if they banned everything else, people who want to create secure communications can do so with the aid of less than an hour of a capable developer's time.

lottin 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice of the author to spell 'Iphone' and 'Ios' in accordance with English capitalisation rules, refusing to submit to the idiotic dictates of some marketing department. Well done sir!
pacifika 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps we should no longer assume that politicians 'do not understand the internet' and assume they are asking for changes in the full understanding that they don't achieve the goal for which they're introduced.

As long as the situation that's being created is more favourable for them than the current one it's a net benefit.

Short-term politics is the biggest threat to UK society at the moment and the current government is particularly good at it.

wbillingsley 19 hours ago 2 replies      
It does not help that the tech companies preach a kind of false equivalence here. Part of their argument is that they are investing a lot in ensuring they can "take down" these posts quickly.

So, the legal system in most countries is that if you post something explicitly (not in jest, or metaphor, but quite deliberately and with the intent of other people's death) asking people to murder other people, that is something that you perhaps ought to be charged with an offence over.

Meanwhile Facebook, etc, essentially argue that ok, they posted a request for the murder of a lot of people, but hey, we took it down after only a few thousand people read it, and we've closed the account (until they open another one), so that's job done, no need to prosecute any further, you shouldn't ask us to cooperate with police, we've got adverts to sell here.

Small wonder that governments are changing the law, when tech companies regard requests to kill people as something that, if really pushed, they'll treat as equivalent to how they handle copyright infringement, but actually there's less money in it for them so would you mind if it was a bit further down the planned feature list.

kukabynd 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If 99.99% of made transactions are not malicious in nature why should people who made those transactions suffer? There are other means to detect suspects that dont ask for a cost of a privacy of the nation.

On the whole other point of this dont you think theres a chance to the possibility that certain terror/cyber attacks were made by some intelligence agency? Timing on this is too convenient.

Besides, there is no known method that can resolve all types of cryptographic methods thus it makes it useless spending of taxpayers money.

jimnotgym 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a good primer on the technical side of this madness. It is quite accessible and therefore a good one to share with people who don't yet realize that what May is trying to do will mean the end of the internet and tech industry in the UK.
imron 1 day ago 0 replies      
Mathematicians: 2 + 2 = 4

UK PM: We'd like you to make it so that 2 + 2 = 5.

Mathematicians: That's mathematically impossible

UK PM: You just need to try harder

_0ffh 20 hours ago 0 replies      
No sane non-UK company will want to do any R&D or other sensitive stuff in the UK anymore, lest GCHQ leak their communications to their UK-based competition.
cJ0th 1 day ago 0 replies      
The list which the author introduces with the words "This, then, is what Theresa May is proposing:" sounds mad to anyone who knows anything about cryptography but they (Theresa May doesn't differ much from her western colleagues here!) really mean it! So even though they will not be able to fully succeed in reaching their goal, they are going to make our digital lives very, very miserable if we don't find a way to short-circuit such insane plans asap!
alkonaut 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is obviously nonsense - but I'm not envious of someone who has to stand at a podium and say something that will make voters believe you'll sort this problem. NigelFarage just suggested internment camps (on Fox News). That's where we are now.

I don't think May's suggestion has any way of ever working - but her listeners don't understand that. This is populism in its purest form.

banku_brougham 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think by now our surveillance protectors already have total information awareness, well perhaps 90% of the information and not very great awareness. But i doubt lack of information is limitation on awareness. They could do a lot better even with less information, i suppose.

So why demand ever more intrusive powers? I think its just an excuse, and that they dont have great ideas to preempt attacks.

boyter 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do it May, I dare you.

It will launch the geek equiilivelent of the Manhattan project to find the master keys, and whoever does find them will become incredibly rich and powerful.

yodsanklai 19 hours ago 0 replies      
> If you want a preview of what a back door looks like, just look at the US Transportation Security Administrations master keys for the locks on our luggage

Good point. I have the same issue in my building. The postman has a master key to open the mailboxes. Apparently, these master keys are now well-spread and I can't order packages anymore as they get stolen.

laythea 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Even if this was actually possible to do without compromising our security, it would not achieve anything as the bad guys will just use alternative methods to achieve their goals.

End game: Society will be none the safer, and the government/puppet masters will have total surveillance.

pmoriarty 1 day ago 1 reply      
moomin 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The article is pretty sniffy about Hogwarts' security, but it's missing an important point: magic can detect intent. So yeah, it might be possible for Harry Potter to build what Theresa May is asking for, but a) he doesn't exists and b) I'm pretty sure it'd be against his progressive principles.
geff82 1 day ago 0 replies      
To all my still-EU-cocitizens: you still have the possibility to leave your neo-facist country for another part of Europe. It will not get better, as the anglo-saxon world is currently destructing itself.
jsjsjsjsjsjs 18 hours ago 0 replies      
If they ban secure software it surely will work as terrorists are law-abiding citizens. Right?
squarefoot 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Using fear to push for restrictive laws is not news, pretty much every government did it or will do it one day. It's just too tempting, people will accept the restrictions as a mean to fight terrorism/pedophiles/serial killers/$CURRENTENEMY etc. until the new laws will be slowly and silently used to quench dissent.
kradem 1 day ago 0 replies      
Imo this isn't about legislative of today, rather about the philosophy/politics of today responsible for the legislative of the future.

Today's cryptography is like the ice sculptures art, we could show a lot, but on unstable timeline.

The true art is going to come with the quantum computers and the governments will have to have legislative for someone sending messages to someone else because they won't have any other tool available.

jk2323 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Why do they want to ban crypto? Because of terrorism?Why does Poland or Hungary don't want to ban crypto and why don't they have terrorism?

Easy solution: Ban Islam and Muslim migration.

a_c 20 hours ago 0 replies      
About the Travelsentry locks, what happen if someone from the airport open your luggage, and tamper with the content?

How can one be sure that the content their luggage has not been tampered with? I assume the answer is no but would love to hear otherwise

davidf18 1 day ago 2 replies      
The truth is that Britain and the US has been funding Palestinian terror for years and PM May knows this but refuses to withdraw funding:


"The issue of payments to families of suicide bombers and others who commit violence has become a frequent complaint by Israel and its supporters.The Palestinian Authority spends about $315 million a year to distribute cash and benefits to 36,000 families"....

Only last week the Palestinians named a women's center after Dalal Mughrabi who hijacked a bus on Israels Coastal Road and killed 38 civilians, 13 of them children, and wounded over 70.

I feel the pain of the British from the terrorist attacks, but why don't they stop all funding to the Palestinians until we can be certain they are no longer funding terror nor glorifying terrorists? Why doesn't President Trump stop all funding if he is truly serious about combatting terror?

IvanK_net 1 day ago 1 reply      
If I had to explain the basics of "information" and "communication" to average people, I would say something like this.

There is no difference in the communication over the internet, over the letter mail, or verbal communication with voice. The encryption can be used in any form of communication. And the problem of banning it is always the same.

Banning the encryption is impossible simply because detecting the encryption is impossible. When you see two persons on the street, one says that the weather is nice, and the other responds that the grass is green, you can never know if there is some hidden message in their communication. Encrypted information can always be "tunneled" through unencrypted channels. Even if you ban all computer apps with encryption, you ban people from making own apps, make every person wear a microphone and a camera 24/7, there will always be a way to deliver information from one person to another without anybody else knowing about it.

Actually, banning encryption apps may be good for privacy, because you never know if the app maker made some backdoors in their encryption method and he already sells your information to somebody.

jimnotgym 1 day ago 0 replies      
Lots of discussion earlier here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14480758
logicallee 1 day ago 4 replies      
I don't want to make this too political, but I am really curious about people's perspectives. Please stay like close to the center in your response to my question, obviously it is easy to make a kneejerk response. (I address this at the end of this comment.)

So, we heard about a recent terrorist that he was banned from his Mosque (for being too radical), reported by other Muslims, and that the FBI also reported him to the UK.

What do you guys think that the UK should do in this case?

I mean let's take an absurd example of a petition by 50 people from mosques and community saying, "Hey, this person is not a member of our community but is spouting radical nonsense and wants to commit terror."

In this case what should be done?

I am drawing a complete blank, because it doesn't take long to prepare terrorist acts but until you do them you aren't really a terrorist.

The only thing I can think of is something that even I can see would be a joke. If the government came to me and said, "hey we received over 12 people asking us to watch you because you are a terrorist. We'd like you to voluntarily participate in civilization training to better understand why terrorism is wrong. You'll get 200 for participating."

But I can hardly type that without it sounding like a joke. I mean there's politeness but this sounds just absurd. (I added the 200 part because I think there is no way they would agree otherwise. But if it's not voluntary then that doesn't sit right with me either.)

So in this actual, real-world case, what should the UK have done?

I don't think increasing surveillance so that you catch someone between the 45 minutes it takes them to inform themselves how to perform terrorism, and going and doing it. People are pretty strong and powerful and have a million tools of every kind, more surveillance couldn't possibly help here, I mean the reaction time would have to be like seconds from when someone chooses to start googling how to do terrorism to making a concrete enough plot to be criminal. It's just not a solution.

So returning to my question -- for the case I mentioned, what should we done?

Note: I understand that it is easy to make a flippant, knee-jerk response. For example, it is easy to say, "if someone reports a muslim for radical speech the reported muslim should be thrown in prison without a trial, and throw away the key". I really don't want to start a thread like that so please don't respond if you have attitudes like this: I've represented your response in this last paragraph and ask you please not to derail this thread on this subject. Yes, it is very easy to deal with if totalitarianism is okay. I specifically say this because I know people in real life who would make exactly this response or one exactly like it. That is not my question and I've represented this position in this paragraph, no need to repeat it, and you would just get downvoted. In this comment I am asking for people's practical ideas that are close to the center, if they have any. Thank you.

dTal 1 day ago 2 replies      
>there's no back door that only lets good guys go through it.

Much as I agree with the general principle, this argument is flawed (except insofar as 'good guys' do not remain 'good'). What exactly is a crypto key, if not a "back door that only lets X go through it"?

id122015 21 hours ago 0 replies      
why not educating people instead of banning ?
sleavey 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Terrorism happened before the internet.
awqrre 1 day ago 0 replies      
everything should be public, especially Government secrets...
stesch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Fur fubhyq ona greebevfz.
blazespin 1 day ago 2 replies      
The solution is a drivers license to use the internet. No more anonymity. Can't create backdoors(that'd be like removing the steering wheels from cars), but the internet is a public space like our highways. You can cause a lot of damage there, so you should have a license or passport.

Controlling speech or disabling crypto is very Orwellian.

obfuscating crypto is trivial. God Kay must either be as dumb as Trump acts or think we are all stupid.

SeaGlass Enabling City-Wide IMSI-Catcher Detection washington.edu
359 points by risk  3 days ago   36 comments top 11
sasas 2 days ago 3 replies      
You could possibly achieve interesting results with a single handset to keep in your pocket as you go about your day. The Samsung Galaxy S3 is ideal due to the fact that Android apps are written to access low level data from it's baseband which is normally not available to end-user applications.

In fact there is a company that sells re-modded S3's at a decent price for this exact purpose [1].

Save some money and find an old handset and load on free IMSI catcher detection software. [2]

EDIT: It seems SnoopSnitch [3] which is used in the SeaGlass project works on rooted Android phones with that use Qualcomm chipsets.

[1] https://www.wired.com/2014/09/cryptophone-firewall-identifie...

[2] https://cellularprivacy.github.io/Android-IMSI-Catcher-Detec...

[3] https://opensource.srlabs.de/projects/snoopsnitch

rootsudo 2 days ago 0 replies      
This can also be done on CDMA via Qualcomm QXDM and qCAT for logging, enabling you to just have a single cell phone, a laptop and some scripting in QXDM to log.

Of course this would mean you have access to unlicensed Qualcomm software, know a bit about interfacing with the radio of CDMA phones and qCAT will correctly parse it to meaningful data.

On the other hand, you can also log numbers being actively dialed and even intercept text messages on the SMS paging channel if you happen to have the correct UM/AN on the phone (ESN/MEID not needed)

But with the eventual shut down of CDMA, this sort of phreaking is long lost and over.

jimnotgym 2 days ago 1 reply      
It would be interesting to push this out to the crowd of people interested in privacy. Maybe we could put a setup like this in our own cars, or at least run an app on our phones. It would really harm their surveillance efforts if 1000's of people were contributing to a global map.
samstave 2 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome - I actually saw this idea posed on Reddit recently:

">So there are factory methods in each cellphoe where you can get the tower ID and RSSI and other data from the tower... what is needed is an app that actively logs ALL that data with the GPS location of the phone regularly and pushes it to a DB in AWS - and you keep capturing all that data, and you compare geo-loc from al the phones and the towers they see/connect to when within that cells signal domain - the app should be able, after time, to "know" which tower it should be connected to based on GPS as it moves into and out f each cell... you get an alert if the phone connects to the non-predicted cell signature.


pm24601 2 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice if there was a way for cellphones to reject connection with the anomalous "base towers"
Scoundreller 2 days ago 3 replies      
Are they really running a DC->AC inverter, and then plugging SMPS AC->DC converters into it?
bicubic 2 days ago 0 replies      
Are the collected datasets available publicly?
1001101 2 days ago 0 replies      
Clone that github repo while you can.
JumpCrisscross 2 days ago 0 replies      
How come there hasn't been a serious hack or heist involving criminals with IMSI catchers?
nafizh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, this feels like something similar to the mechanism Batman uses to find Joker at the end of the dark knight movie. Instead of Joker, it's IMSI-Catchers.

It would be interesting to see how they validate their findings which should be a challenge I guess.

IshKebab 2 days ago 1 reply      
Off-topic, but I'm so sick of this website theme. Can you please make more than one sentence fit on the screen?
Python For Finance: Algorithmic Trading medium.com
367 points by pastefka  3 days ago   159 comments top 15
lowpro 3 days ago 11 replies      
The main issue I found in algo and financial aspects of programming is that the market is a zero sum game, and my intro knowledge of finance and algorithms, even when I know python, are no match for MIT PHD Quants who does it full time. There's no real way to compete with that, and therefore I would lose money, even if the data showed it might be successful in the future, firms and full time workers on algo trading would simply be faster, more focused, have more funding, and be able to quickly and constantly adapt at the scale an individual could not.

So despite the fact that the subject is interesting, I'd consider it a waste of time to try and gain anything but a basic understanding of the industry and how algo trading works.

pmart123 3 days ago 2 replies      
Personally, I struggle to see the competitive advantage Quantopian brings. They use retail brokerage platforms to facilitate trading, which rules out anything close to HFT. Then, they are tied to any financial data vendor (Morningstar in this case) to not offer too much visibility on the underlying data. As others have mentioned, this makes it tough to validate aspects like adjusted vs. as reported earnings, how delistings are handled, etc. From my experience, getting/making sure the data is accurate is a ton of work, even if it is from good sources and you can see all the actual data. The moment an investor/trader on the platform gets traction is the moment they want Compustat data, exchange data, Bloomberg for fixed income, and will trade through Instinet/Flextrade, etc. The moment the platform is successful is the moment Morningstar could pull the rug out from them. If someone has better understanding or knowledge on Quantopian in particular, I'd be interested to hear why.
hendzen 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you want to build a real algorithmic trading strategy.. please pick up a real textbook such as Qian's Quantitative Equity Portfolio Management.

You should understand the following concepts at a minimum:

- Markowitz portfolio optimization (mean-variance analysis)

- Beta-neutral portfolios (i.e. using MSCI BARRA, sector ETFs or PCA factors, etc)

- Alpha decay

- Time series analysis (autocorrelation, GARCH, ARMA processes)

- Basic price-based signals (momentum, volatility, value, etc)- etc, etc.

jaredbroad 3 days ago 2 replies      
QuantConnect recently announced full python library support; and we have launched https://www.quantconnect.com/tutorials to help people write quantiative strategies in Python.

QuantConnect & LEAN gives you ability to do tick->daily resolutions; for equity, morning-star, future, option, forex and cfd trading - all with a fully open source project which includes samples of data to get you started.

The grunt work is still done in C# so its faster than other full python based backtesting engines. Edit: I'm the Founder @ QC.

JabavuAdams 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, I got semi-seriously interested in this around the end of last year.

My takeaway is: it's not about implementing a couple of trading strategies. It's about implementing a pipeline that rapidly allows you to test what-if scenarios.

I might have like 10 ideas a day for strategies. How many of those can I rigorously validate per week? What about variations? I.e. tuning various hyper-parameters? Combinations?

How quickly can I recombine data from various sources into exactly the layout I need to train and test this or that strat?


1) Build some simple forecasting NNs.

2) Realize I need to be able to generate and test ideas waaay faster. Start working on infrastructure.

3) Get impatient -- get some "bright" ideas, do some manual trading.

4) Make some money on the first day, lose double that on the next two days.

5) Decide to ban myself from manual trading as obviously I'm an addict. Resolve to only do algorithmic trading.

6) Back to coding infrastructure. Get bored ... do some manual trades.

7) After losing around $20k, stop the trading madness, and go back to buying and holding great tech companies.

8) Enjoy my 25% returns.

tejaswiy 3 days ago 2 replies      
On a side note, the market continues to do well and I've been noticing this trend of active-trading, real-estate investing gurus crawl out of the wood work selling services.

Please do not try to trade actively unless that's your full-time job. Passive investing using index funds is definitely not sexy, but it gets the job done.

TACIXAT 3 days ago 3 replies      
I went to the Quantopian conference for their basic training on algorithmic trading. This blog post was pretty much what they covered, intro to pandas and a simple strategy. There is a lot of educational material on their site too (which is what you ended up getting in the paid training).

My biggest thing with the Python for Finance books - I know Python, I want to learn finance. All these books are the inverse of that, for people who know finance and want to learn Python. There is a good site for quantitative economics [1] that has tutorials in Python and Julia. I would love a mathematics of finance book that had the examples in Python.

1. https://lectures.quantecon.org/py/

ncyclopediae 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a dataset on Kaggle that can be used in this process https://www.kaggle.com/biomimic/periodic-table-of-elements-m...
kyleblarson 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is nothing more than gambling. Let's say you have 20k to play with. You would be far better off in the long run to put 15k in Wealthfront and use the other 5k as a bankroll of 25 buyins for 1/2 no limit holdem to learn the game.
brobinson 3 days ago 0 replies      
The article mentions a few of the pitfalls of backtesting, but it does not mention one of the best tools at your disposal in backtesting: Walk Forward Optimization/Analysis


See also: "The Evaluation and Optimization of Trading Strategies" by Robert Pardo

moonforeshot 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm wondering... why not scala?scala gives me type-checking tools (eg dependent types) so I don't shoot myself on foot
hagakure0c 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use R for almost all quantitative tasks but not as a trading platform. It's great for research and testing though.
NicoJuicy 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have a simple manual algorithm that took me from 650 to 1450 now (as test) in 2 months. Does someone here have experience with algo trading in c#?
nickthemagicman 3 days ago 4 replies      
How is algorithmic trading not equivalent to astrology?

Nothing can be predicted because there's way too many confounding factors.

SirLJ 3 days ago 4 replies      
It is a great article, but why on earth someone will use a service like Quantopian or similar service?

They are your competitor and who will prevent a disgruntle employee or a hacker to steel your successful trading strategy?

Just buy some data from eBay, you can get 20 years of historical stock market data for less than $100 and you can test any trading strategy or idea imaginable, including trend following, buy and hold ETFs, etc...

The barrier of entry is pretty low and you can develop a great lifestyle business with no customers, employees and investors around that...

MusicBrainz: an open music encyclopedia musicbrainz.org
419 points by hernantz  2 days ago   88 comments top 25
nononononono 2 days ago 4 replies      
Just to push home the awesomeness of crazy music nerds that together create MusicBrainz, please have a look at these two examples:

1. Number of releases per album individually tagged:https://musicbrainz.org/release-group/f5093c06-23e3-404f-aea...

2. The amount of metadata for an album:https://musicbrainz.org/release/b84ee12a-09ef-421b-82de-0441...

When you get used to this kind of high quality metadata, it's just so so sad to see how companies like Spotify treat metadata. As an example, look up Bob Marley & The Wailers on Spotify and try to find original releases, and then compare that to the list found here:


...and the sad part is that the metadata is freely available, with a permissive license.

Leo_Verto 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've been contributing data and code to MB and it's sibling projects for over two years now and the community has been great from day one!

Just to name a few of the other projects, there's AcousticBrainz [1] collecting acoustic information which may be pretty useful for machine learning, CritiqueBrainz [2] for collecting user reviews of songs, albums and more, ListenBrainz [3], an open scrobbling service a group of people including former last.fm employees initially hacked together in a weekend, and finally BookBrainz [4], which tries to be what MB is but for books.

During the last year the people running MB have worked on getting companies using the data to support the project resulting in a quite impressive list of supporters [5] including big names like Google, Spotify and the BBC.

MB has also collaborated with our fellow data nerds over at the Internet Archive to create the Cover Art Archive. [6]

In general the project is run by people who equally love both data and hacking. Feel free to stop by on the IRC channels #musicbrainz and #metabrainz on freenode!

[1]: https://acousticbrainz.org/[2]: https://critiquebrainz.org/[3]: https://listenbrainz.org/[4]: https://bookbrainz.org/[5]: https://metabrainz.org/supporters[6]: https://coverartarchive.org/

corford 2 days ago 2 replies      
Wow. This brings back memories. At uni in the early 2000's I hacked up a geeky "last.fm" inspired music stat service. The idea was to be able to reliably track music being played without needing a plugin for winamp/foobar2000/other media player and without needing the mp3 file to have meta data.

I lightly modified a version of the Filemon driver from Sysinternals and wrote a little C program that used the driver to monitor for mp3s being played and then grab the perceptual audio hash of the file using trm.exe from Musicbrainz. It then sent the resulting fingerprint off to my website (written in glorious PHP3 no less!) and you could login with an account to see stats on the music you'd been listening to (done with meta data pulled from Musicbrainz).

Surprisingly, it worked reasonably well ...though very sure if I looked at the code now I'd run away screaming.

Really cool to see they're still going strong after all these years!

unicornporn 2 days ago 4 replies      
What (and when something) ends up on the first page never ceases to surprise. I've used this I don't know how long. Could it be 15 years? Their official tagging client (Picard) is OK, but I prefer tagging using Mp3tag and the MusicBrainz database.
StavrosK 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'd just like to reiterate how utterly amazing MusicBrainz is. It's so extremely useful that I decided to make it the backbone of a new playlist format I developed[1], one which (roughly) uses MusicBrainz IDs instead of filenames for playlists.

This makes playlists resistant to filename changes, moves, or even losing all the actual audio tracks and having to buy them again, all because MusicBrainz provides so accurate metadata.

[1]: http://universalplaylist.stavros.io/

exogen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love MusicBrainz and have been using it for a project of mine for the past few years. In the course of developing that project, I ended up making a GraphQL interface to the MusicBrainz API: https://github.com/exogen/graphbrainz

You should try out the demo queries linked from that README if you want to get a sense of the depth of information available in their database.

half-kh-hacker 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've been using MusicBrainz' Picard to tag my music files (that I acquired 100% legitimately, I assure you.) for a few months now.

They seem to have everything I throw at them, except for:1) Extremely new releases (on the order of a-few-hours-after-release)2) Some niche songs that haven't been officially released (soundtracks for some Korean television shows)

camtarn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Heh. I was on a team of Amazon engineers in Edinburgh back in 2007 who were tasked with building "another IMDB that we can sell ads on", and we ended up using a MusicBrainz dump to start up a music encyclopedia website. The idea was to take the raw data but organise it in a more user friendly way, add easy click-to-edit user participation and gamification, etc.

I remember seeing Robert Kaye wandering around the office when he visited us to talk licensing terms, although as the most junior employee I didn't get to talk to him myself. We also chatted to Col Needham, the founder of IMDB, and asked him "so, how do you become a massive media-encyclopedia site?"; his answer was "it's easy, just start 17 years ago."

Really we had no idea what we were doing, and although we got some surprisingly dedicated users (we sent T-shirts to a couple who'd contributed hundreds of thousands of edits!), the site folded after a few years.

I'm very glad to see that MusicBrainz outlived us and continued to thrive :)


bgammon 2 days ago 2 replies      
I discovered MusicBrainz Picard about a year ago and it handled my collection pretty flawlessly.

I was always wanting to know since then if there are other maintained/curated music databases.

I also didn't realize at first that they offer a public API. The Picard client was decent, but I'd be interested in a command-line solution. Does anyone know if this exists?

NelsonMinar 2 days ago 2 replies      
Full props to Robert Kaye, the founder. He's been raising this child for 15 years now.
buu700 2 days ago 2 replies      
I used the MusicBrainz API a while back for a side project that got me sued for some reason (http://tcrn.ch/2rEox3h).

As I recall, it was pleasant to work with and did what I needed it to quite nicely, aside from a feature that my code had depended on being removed anonymous/unauthenticated search at which point the project was already basically dead and not worth trying to fix (that was just the last nail in the coffin). In any case, nice to see that it's still active.

hernantz 2 days ago 0 replies      
The code that runs it is open too: https://github.com/metabrainz/
ozzmotik 2 days ago 3 replies      
always nice to see something of such utility pop up. musicbrainz has most assuredly been around for what seems like forever now, and there's a reason for that. their tag database is second to none as far as im concerned. unfortunately for me, the only music I keep locally is my own music that I've made, and I can almost guarantee that that wouldn't be on there. plus i tag all my music properly to a point that might seem religious and obsessive because I hate music files without metadata (which is why I export in mp3 as well as wav; wav for higher quality, and mp3 for labeling purposes; I could probably just use flac but compressed audio like mp3 also has the benefit of being less space intensive).

either way, nice to see it

sriku 1 day ago 0 replies      
A related site - freesound.org

Both MusicBrainz and Freesound are truly international in scope. They cover metadata and sound for Indian classical music and such genres too. The CompMusic research team publishes to both of these.

Edit: CompMusic url - http://compmusic.upf.edu/

sod_uk 1 day ago 0 replies      
Whilst it is great to be able to tag music files with masses of MB metadata, I have a feeling that the true value of the MB database has yet to be realised.

Because of the underlying design and relationships between albums and recordings and musical pieces (or works), once it reaches some level of critical mass you can start to mine the data for things like:

Who has recorded versions of Vivaldi's Four Seasons Spring in London?

Which artists have recorded both Greig's Piano Concerto and Chopsticks?

Who has recorded "A Day in the Life" other than by the Beatles?

knownothing 2 days ago 4 replies      
Offtopic question: Is there a similar tool for managing or tagging metadata for movies and television?
theprop 2 days ago 2 replies      
I hope these guys don't flip like Gracenote did...Gracenote was all crowdsourced user contributions (for a long time at least) but then they closed off the data and sold it to Sony for $250+ million.
MobesMobes 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been trying to figure out which music metadata database is worth my time "improving", since there are three that are commonly used. MusicBrainz, Discogs and Rate Your Music. I use Discogs currently because you can expect high quality metadata, and I use that data in a Foobar2000 plugin to tag my music correctly.

It's the constant questioning I do for Wiki sites, since there are multiple for most subjects. Am I alone in this struggle? I wouldn't mind being talked out of using Discogs for the sake of creating / managing metadata that will be the most useful.

soulnothing 2 days ago 2 replies      
One of my side projects is a music recommendation system. Music brainz has been great for this. Tying together all the music services out there. In addition the biggest perk is you can do a slave of their database, and have it replicate on an interval.
Animats 1 day ago 1 reply      
This was done once before. It was called CDDB.[1] That went from open to limited access to totally proprietary. Fortunately, this new one is under GPLv3, which makes it tough to pull that one again.

There's FreeDB (http://www.freedb.org) which does roughly the same thing, starting from the old CDDB database before Gracenote, and then Sony, bought it. Their database dump is supposedly available.

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

frik 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's good that MusicBrainz exists as open data project and continues to stand up against Sony America & Sony DADC defacto monopoly on audio+video metadata and digital supply for the media industry.

MusicBrainz is the third project of it's kind. Two previous older projects got bought by the media industry (Sony and Magix). Such a database gets useless if it doesn't receive updates.

First there was CDDB, short for Compact Disc Database, is a database for software applications to look up audio CD (compact disc) information over the Internet. This is performed by a client which calculates a (nearly) unique disc ID and then queries the database. As a result, the client is able to display the artist name, CD title, track list and some additional information. CDDB was invented by Ti Kan around late 1993 as a local database that was delivered with his popular xmcd music player application. CDDB is a licensed trademark of Gracenote. In March 2001, CDDB, now owned by Gracenote, banned all unlicensed applications from accessing their database. As of June 2, 2008, Sony Corp. of America completed acquisition (full ownership) of Gracenote. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CDDB

Then there was freedb. freedb is a database of compact disc track listings, where all the content is under the GNU General Public License. To look up CD information over the Internet, a client program calculates a hash function from the CD table of contents and uses it as a disc ID to query the database. If the disc is in the database, the client is able to retrieve and display the artist, album title, track list and some additional information. It was originally based on the now-proprietary CDDB (Compact Disc DataBase). On October 4, 2006, freedb owner Michael Kaiser announced that Magix had acquired freedb. On June 25, 2007, MusicBrainz a project with similar goals officially released their freedb gateway. The latter allows users to harvest information from the MusicBrainz database rather than freedb. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedb

TekMol 1 day ago 1 reply      
I tried to play with the API, but I almost always get "The MusicBrainz web server is currently busy. Please try again later.".

Is there a more reliable way to query this data without running a full server on your own?

lauretas 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about http://linkedbrainz.org ? Is it a dead project?
original_idea 1 day ago 0 replies      
mappable.com uses this to allow users to build a hierarchical artist/album/song voronoi exploration tool.
reilly3000 2 days ago 1 reply      
Datomic, Rich Hickey's majestic datalog-driven, time traveling database uses musicbrainz data for their tutorials. Check it out if you want to play with this data in a really novel way.
Google Contributor: Buy an ad removal pass for the web contributor.google.com
323 points by sohkamyung  3 days ago   254 comments top 66
cptskippy 3 days ago 9 replies      
I've been participating in Google Contributor since it's inception, this is like the 3rd relaunch of the service. I have no doubt it will fail just like the past iterations because the fundamental flaw is that Google is the heart of the system and they're unwilling to extricate themselves from it. I don't think this type of service is the way forward and the solution will not come from Google or any other ad provider for a number of reasons. The first is that Google is not the only ad network and no one wants to be cut out. The second is that this does nothing to address the privacy or security issues people have today that drive them to ad blockers.

There aren't just a handful of Ad networks, there are thousands if not millions out there. On top of that, they utilize each other to push out ads in a horrid rat king like incestuous jumble. Any payments to avoid ads served by these companies would require compensating all of these companies, the end result predictably would be movie studio accounting that leaves the content provider with nothing in the end.

This setup does nothing to address the privacy issues people have with companies like Google tracking their comings and goings. Google is still at the heart of this system and still knows everything about you. To get any benefit from this system actually requires you to embrace Google. People want to maintain their privacy, they don't want to login to Google to get rid of ads.

It's easy to envision a system utilizing a crypto currency and a digital wallet held by your browser that you fill occasionally and that prompts you to pay a site similar to the manner in which Location Services work simply based on a meta tag a site provider puts in their page head containing their wallet and request pay amount and schedule. It's impossible to imagine Google, Apple, Facebook, or anyone who wants in your pants to allow themselves to be cut out of a revenue stream by such a system. Companies like this are double dipping by charging everyone else to be the broker and also by being the service provider being paid.

I honestly don't know if an ad free web is allowable. It's technically possible but everyone who isn't the content creator is going to do everything they can to stop it form happening.

BoiledCabbage 3 days ago 6 replies      
Whether it comes from Google, or someone else I believe this is the only way the web survives.

Content creators need to be able to charge different amounts for different quality content.

In depth, well researched reporting needs to be able to earn more than a buzzfeed article. That's not possible with a flat "per-eyeball" cost, where the revenue to the content creator is uncorrelated with the cost to create or the value/quality of the content.

I wish it weren't google (who also already owns advertising), but someone large is the only one who can make it happen.

A model like this is necessary to support quality content online.

r3bl 3 days ago 5 replies      
Maybe if Google went with "Pay us $10 per month for us not to show you any AdSense anywhere on the web", this would be successful. In this form, I highly doubt it.
kemonocode 3 days ago 2 replies      
Then naturally, as soon as I try to sign up for it, I get told "Contributor is not yet available in your country" as it seems to be US-only at the moment.

That's okay, uBlock Origin with its whitelist I compiled with sites I know won't violate my browser with ads is still available in my country.

Leynos 3 days ago 5 replies      
This doesn't seem that useful to me as only a small number of sites (none of which I visit) support it.

Hypothetical question: If I were allowed to bid on my own ad impressions - and if I won an auction, no ad would be shown - how much would it cost a month for me to see no adverts? (I realize this is heavily dependent upon the type of sites that are involved, so I guess take the average HN user as an example).

comm1 3 days ago 2 replies      
One has to mention the Brave browser for comparison: https://brave.com/ -- similar concept but using Bitcoin. The accounting at https://brave.com/publishers.html looks like you as the reader can DECIDE whether you want to issue micropayments to a particular site or not, and publishers don't have to explicitly opt-in beforehand (thereby instantly including all of the web). A publisher won't be able to charge different prices, but a publisher with goodwill (hence users opting on their own to pay that publisher) will make money. This seems like a better execution.
spiderfarmer 3 days ago 1 reply      
Cancelled already:


Google Contributor was a program run by Google that allowed users in the Google Network of content sites to view the websites without any advertisements that are administered, sorted, and maintained by Google.

The program started with prominent websites, like The Onion and Mashable among others, to test this service. After November 2015, the program opened up to any publisher who displayed ads on their websites through Google AdSense without requiring any sign-on from publishers.

Since November 2015, the program was available for everyone in the United States. Google Contributor stopped accepting new registrations after December 2016 in preparation for a new version launch in early 2017.[1] On January 17th, Google Contributor was shut down. As of January 17, 2017 8:40 AM no replacement had been announced.

chr4004 3 days ago 2 replies      
Don't know, feels a bit like ransom when coming from Google, not the publisher.
catskull 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wait so it only works on those 4 websites? I've only heard of Popular Mechanics, but I rarely (if ever) visit their site.

If this was more like Youtube Red, I'd be all over this. I would love to pay to remove all google ads. I get that uBlock exists, but I want to support the sites I use.

Unrelated: the sidenav thing is empty? WTF?

andy_ppp 3 days ago 1 reply      
A little concerned, I'm bootstrapping my own version of what they have built, but with a clearer charging model and no need to block Ads IMO. If you care about blocking ads you are already doing it.

It'll be launching in literally a week or two... it's very simple to integrate and comes with it's own Wordpress plugin (and instructions to integrate your own CMS).

What advice do people have about this per article payment space; I have a load of ideas I want to try so maybe while Google concentrate on ads I'll be able to look at various optional payment models.

Initially I want to just charge a flat 5% + whatever Stripe fees you use to top up your wallet, but I'm concerned I'll get a lot of noise/scaling issues if I don't charge a monthly fee? Thoughts?

time4tea 3 days ago 2 replies      
You can use pihole or pyhole to just block them for your home, then vpn from your phone. No more ads.

Then buy subscription to sites you like.

Dont give google a percentage of everything.

JetSpiegel 3 days ago 0 replies      
Remember when we were sold that ads payed for content so that could be free? Now you can pay extra to get ads anyway, the non Google networks don't care. The web is turning into cable, and it only took a few years.
justinjlynn 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, how much does this have to do with their announcement to add ad blocking to Chrome (only for other networks ads, I'm sure)? How have they not attracted regulator action yet? You'd think the EU would be all over that kind of behaviour.
waterflame 3 days ago 0 replies      
Everyone is forgetting that Google can provide such tool because of Chrome (60% market share); they don't need to track you. They already are.Google it's tightening it's grip on the web. Yesterday the announced that they will apply the Better Ad Standard by 2018. They said they'll ban intrusive ads that block the user from the content, ads that play sound automatically, and flashy ads... Now "flashy" is so vague.
Fiahil 3 days ago 4 replies      
I already have an ad removal pass, it's called uBlock origin.
omarforgotpwd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Good idea, extremely poor execution. Nobody is going to want to use it if different sites are charging you different amounts per page. People want predictable bills.
chx 3 days ago 2 replies      
cyphar 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really think a much better system would be for websites to adopt GNU Taler, and allow people to conduct micropayments using digital cash. The system is about as seamless as Flattr, except that the website can actually charge an amount rather than a fraction.

But, most importantly, Flattr guarantees the anonymity of consumers' transactions. So the big G won't have a log of what websites you paid to access.

nextlevelwizard 3 days ago 1 reply      
I like how Google doesn't remove ads from it's own sites
ghostbunnies 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hmmm - the service sounds a little bit like Flattr, the logo looks quite a bit like Flattr - now what?
technological 3 days ago 2 replies      
In simple terms , is this a moral way rather than using ad blocker ? Rather than using ad blocker I get this pass , where I won't be seeing ads and at same time feel I am letting publisher earn some money ?
ff_ 3 days ago 1 reply      
How is this different from paying for an adblocker? There is lots of good free ones.

I pay publishers I like for their content (buying newspapers, subscriptions, etc) and I don't get why Google should be the middleman in this.

yellowsir 3 days ago 3 replies      
the question is do i want to get tracked by google contributor or google ads?
xchaotic 3 days ago 0 replies      
With 12 websites out of which I visited 1, once, I suspect another Google abandoned project in 18 months.
ktta 3 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like I'm going to remember visiting this website for years to come. Either because this is will be future, or this is one of the biggest bets Google has made and failed.
nrjames 3 days ago 0 replies      
Somebody should do this for mobile game advertising. A player buys a $5 card with allows them to skip ads in all participating mobile games until such time as the $ is depleted. If that card worked across lots of games, it would be a great convenience. Considering ARPDAU from ads for mobile games isn't often more than $0.01, it would be a win-win for gamers who hate ads and want to play free mobile games.
intoverflow2 3 days ago 1 reply      
>a small portion is kept by Google to cover the cost of running the service

This is incredibly cheeky.

HXFIVE 3 days ago 0 replies      
I like the technology and pricing model, but I don't think that it is being put to its best use. I think a better use would be for news sites that require a login to view articles. At present I usually just go without viewing many as I can't afford to sign up to 10 different sites where I might view a couple of articles each week. If I could make a one off payment per article then I'd be all over it.
geraltofrivia 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, this is kinda like Blendle, but for the open web. I'm not too sure if this'll fly. Personally, there's a certain flinch, a certain decision before opening any article in Blendle as I evaluate if it's worth the price mentioned. I'm sure the same will manifest itself, perhaps in uglier forms if I set out to use Contributor. Do you guys think so?
azazel75 3 days ago 0 replies      
That's like a Google tax, with the plus that you consciously agree to let it track you more than ever... wtf!
bikamonki 3 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't this how the mob works? Pay us to protect you from us.
JustSomeNobody 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google: Nice internet ya got there. It'd be terrible if something were to happen to it like, say, ads everywhere. But if you just give me a few dollars I'll protect ya from 'em.


>How it worksYou load your pass with $5. Each time you visit a page without ads, a per-page fee is deducted from your pass to pay the creators of the website, after a small portion is kept by Google to cover the cost of running the service. The price per page is set by the creator of the site. You will be informed in advance if a site creator changes their price per page. Contributor is easy to update: change settings and add sites or remove them from your pass at any time.

I love the sound of this, I just do not like the idea that it is Google doing it. It feels ... dirty somehow. A third party doing this I have no problem with.

gabrielgoh 3 days ago 2 replies      
im not sure this is a good idea (as a consumer) anything which injects extra buying decisions in my life seems like a bad idea. Imagine having to wonder if I really wanted to spend that 0.01 cents on the next page of popular mechanics or not. I'd rather pay more for say, unlimited monthly access
ISL 3 days ago 0 replies      
How is this better than the old Contributor?

I've always wanted a way to simply specify the minimum bid (by bidding myself) for my attention into the ad exchange. This peer-reviewed pricing seems like it adds lots of cognitive overhead for me?

mtgx 3 days ago 1 reply      
It's U.S.-only? Are you kidding me? So this will actually restrict who can visit a website, as opposed to the ad-version?

Whoever came up with that bright idea?

awinter-py 3 days ago 0 replies      
Almost. I would pay money to NOT be tracked everywhere by a big company. It's easy to misunderstand.

Thanks, as always, for understanding privacy big G.

ptr_void 3 days ago 0 replies      
Google at it again to kill the web, now making commodization of web contents mainstream.

You WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EYE what GOOGLE will do NEXT! - $0.5

jerianasmith 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good content will always find it's audience. Readers are far more likely to come back, if the content is engaging enough.
peteretep 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the idea, but go to some lengths to try and stop Google sucking in my web history, and I don't think this will help.
spullara 3 days ago 0 replies      
My idea in this space is to launch the no-ad-network. Basically you would pay them to bid on your behalf across all exchanges for your cookie. It would either display nothing, nice photos or maybe even some customized data about the site you are on. Everyone wins.
kraig911 3 days ago 0 replies      
It simply isn't worth it as Google doesn't actually enable content creators unless you create content on their sites. We need a better way to say give content creators something akin to Patreon but easier.
nottorp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it me, or the pricing per page view isn't displayed anywhere in the overview?

Of course, if i click on the links to the actual enrolled sites i get 'this service is not available in your country' so it may be there.

skinnyTotonyo 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is terrible. This is where Google is trying to control the web even more than they do already. If this sticks around, if this actually happens, then this will destroy what so many have worked to achieve.

Let's actually sit down and think about this. If this happened, there would be some big changes to the web. (Note- this is a quick response. I should write a real paper about this)

First of all, now that people would be paying for no ads, websites will overload their sites with ads, because Google will have the solution that "everyone is choosing anyway". It would make it "OK" to have tons of ads on your site, because there's a solution.

Then, your web experience becomes terrible. For a "small fee", you can keep a "nice" experience- one that used to, and always should, be free. However, if you don't give Google your money, then your web experience is going to be so filled with ads that content will take forever to load. And even if it does load, it'll take 30 minutes to read an article, because every 30 seconds you'll have your regular add popups. Then, you'll have the sidebar ads that follow you. Or the mobile ones that get in your way as you scroll. You won't be able to view content, because ads will have taken over even more than they already have.

Now, in this terrible future, what about those that can't afford Google's "small fee"? They'll be condemned to the ad version of the entire web- one that doesn't load properly, that people have started to discard. The true "web" will be the one where you pay to view. These people won't have access. And, if they aren't able to pay the small fee, then most likely they're accessing the internet from a slow connection. Maybe it's a library that can't afford the fee either. Or maybe it's in the home, and they can only afford small internet speeds and second hand computers. Not everyone has the money to buy a brand spanking new macbook /pro/air from Apple.

So now, 5 years down the road, there's two versions of the web. The one that Google controls and tracks 100% (oh yeah, we didn't even get to that yet), and the one that is so ruined with ads, that the people make a decision. A big one. Let's just get rid of the ad version of the web. You can't use it anyway, so there's no use. The only way to go- is to give your monthly payment to Google, so that you can access the web. Now, you gotta pay to view the web at all. The free web is gone. Google took it away.

There's also Google, sitting on their even exponential growth pile of money, tracking every web user. Sure, there may be other competing services that let you "into" the web, but they're also gunna track you. No doubt about that.

There's so much more that I haven't even said. How will websites determine how much a "view" is? What about requests that are half loaded? How will you know how much it costs to view a webpage? Not all web content is created equal. Definitely not.

There's so many more things. So many more.

We can't let this happen.

sbergot 3 days ago 0 replies      
"sorry, contributor is not available in your country" (france)
ctz 3 days ago 1 reply      
So, does this work with YouTube and all the other google properties?
sdrothrock 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what kind of reaction site owners will have to this; I can think of a lot of smaller sites or forums that rely on Google ads + premium access with no ads for revenue.
draw_down 3 days ago 0 replies      
Problem is you have to be logged in to use this, same problem as with Youtube red. As soon as you open something in an incognito window.... who are you??
sandov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not just donate to the sites whose content you value?
youdontknowtho 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. I'm really (sounds strange saying this to myself) excited about this Google project.

I really hope this works out. As much as I dislike advertising...and Google...something has to happen. The "ad blocker" - "ad blocker blocker" arms race is patently stupid. There has to be a way to get money to content providers so they can opt out of the madness. Google will still be able to provide them with all the sweet sweet surveillance data that they thrive on.

One problem at a time, I guess.

nsnick 3 days ago 0 replies      
The reason this will fail is that it competes with free. Why pay google when you can install an ad blocker?
GabrielBerlin 3 days ago 0 replies      
We also thought about this at Steady (www.steadyHQ.com). We built a system for recurring payments to independent creators and some of our publishers allow users to pay for not bugging them with their adblocker detectors. This generates additional turnover from users that normally do not get served any ads b/c they use adblockers, but I believe such an offering should encompass all ads, not just Google AdSense (why would you pay just to reduce the amount ofads), and it should include removing paywalls (e.g. at a higher price point, to monetize "superfans").
ryandrake 3 days ago 2 replies      
What's the advantage for the end user of this, over an ad blocker which is a free ad removal pass?
obeleh 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've got a new productname for this: Google Paywall
caogecym 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's too expensive for consumers.
a_imho 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sure there will be people taking this seriously because it is Google, but they are getting a bit desperate.
stephen123 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this spotify premium for web pages ?
45h34jh53k4j 3 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks Google, but im going to stick with ublock/umatrix and get ad removal for free
themihai 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess you also need a google account...how does it work with "do not track"?
davb 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure how much value I derive from ad-funded websites, besides maybe Google Search. There was a time most websites were free and run for the good of the community, not for profit and not as a full-time job. I could buy my high-quality content in the form of magazines and newspapers. Maybe that's the paradigm worth investigating - community generated, ad-free content on the web but paid-for, bundled (magazine-style) high quality content for sale. Delivered not through the browser but through some other, open platform (think zines, PDFs, epub/mobi).

For me, this is what an ideal web would look like. My ad-blocker would barely get a workout, and I'd happily pay for bundled (not pay-walled, bundled, downloadable) content as I did for many years with magazines.

No-one wants high quality content to disappear, but advertising and web paywalls are not the only options.

bunnymancer 3 days ago 0 replies      
So it's Flattr but run by the same company that also serves ads..


whyagaindavid 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting choice of background image with a macbook air!
yolo66 3 days ago 0 replies      
People will likely hesitate as it comes from Google.
tannerwj 3 days ago 1 reply      
This comes just after the BAT ICO? Interesting
designium 3 days ago 0 replies      
It doesn't work for Canada.
diimdeep 3 days ago 0 replies      
laughable uBlock alternative.
redxblood 3 days ago 0 replies      
Nope. Trash. uBlock origin.
Base65536 encoding github.com
331 points by rahiel  3 days ago   118 comments top 24
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 4 replies      
256 byte packet and a 192 bit authentication hash, why use fast flux dns to run C&C on your botnet when you can just make them twitter followers.

EDIT: And in case that isn't clear. Imagine you have a botnet, and all of the individual members create a twitter account. All of the twitter botnet accounts follow the 'master'. Who can tweet a command (and corresponding authentication key) to the botnet to say "follow chuck and do up to n things for him, here is his public key". Now Chuck suddenly has all these followers and when the time is right he tweets out his command, "ddos my greatest enemy" and adds his 'proof'. Off they go and blast his enemy. If he was only allotted one command then they all un-follow him.

Basically its social media for botnets.

pfraze 3 days ago 4 replies      
Yeah but what you really want is base-emoji. https://github.com/pfrazee/base-emoji
anderskaseorg 3 days ago 1 reply      
See also:


Twitter characters can actually store up to nearly 31 bits each, if youre using the JSON API. (Or at least, this was true in 2010. I dont know whether this is still true.)



Base-122 encoding is 87.5% efficient in UTF-8, better than anything listed in the base65536 repositorys comparison table.

matt_wulfeck 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think they missed a great opportunity to call it "base64k" encoding.
girst 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm the one who made the C / UNIX Shell implementation - it was a fun and quick thing to make.


I'd appreciate some feedback.

Asdfbla 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't seem to get the efficiency table (or how efficiency is defined here?). Since Base65536 encodes 16 bits, why can't it encode UTF-16 with 100% efficiency? It says the efficiency is 64% instead.

I'm sure it's true, just curious why.

bcoates 3 days ago 1 reply      
At first I thought this was going to be a joke, then I thought it was going to be stupid, but it's actually brilliant.
carry_bit 3 days ago 1 reply      
You could expand the encoding further if you didn't restrict yourself to a whole number of bits per character.
jxy 3 days ago 4 replies      
Since when did people start to label C implementation as "Unix shell"?
fiatjaf 3 days ago 1 reply      
I hate this game.

Manage to make 1 point at


prophesi 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, anyone got any good HATETRIS replays? I'll edit my post if I find myself getting a good one.https://qntm.org/files/hatetris/hatetris.html

Edit: If you didn't look at the repo, this encoding was made to post HATERIS replays on Twitter.

Edit: Only 3 points so far

eponeponepon 3 days ago 1 reply      
Crikey, I thought this was going to be a joke project, but it isn't. Is it..?

Either way, it's a neat piece of thinking.

dheera 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you really want to put binary data on Twitter, why not encode it in an image? You could probably get several tens of kilobytes of binary data reliably encoded in a JPEG of the maximum size Twitter allows.
supernintendo 3 days ago 1 reply      
Neat. I see a lot of mention of Twitter but the first thing I thought of was packet compression. A ~50 byte packet shaves off around 20 bytes with this. Those are good savings although I haven't looked into the encoder / decoder enough to know if it's worth the tradeoff of having to translate every packet on both ends. I can also see UDP datagrams being a pain in the ass to work with when you're throwing around streams of Unicode characters.

Overall though, I like it and look forward to Base131072 being possible!

shemnon42 3 days ago 1 reply      
All those stats and one lingering question: whats the Weissman Score?
gvx 2 days ago 0 replies      
Last year, I did a similar project: https://github.com/gvx/base116676

It had a feature where it automatically would try a couple of compression algorithms on the text to be able to cram even more into a single tweet.

I don't think it has a practical use, but it was fun to make.

stcredzero 3 days ago 2 replies      
Base 32768 has a very sexy 93.75% efficiency! Maybe I should use that with my browser game?
marcosdumay 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like we should create some other 20k emoji.
comboy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Do not try playing this game. You're welcome.
pbhjpbhj 3 days ago 0 replies      
"See a need, fill a need" (Bigweld).
dzuc 3 days ago 0 replies      
Enantiomorphic tetris!
terminado 3 days ago 0 replies      
What, no Java?
jheriko 3 days ago 0 replies      
a sad sign of our times... what a nonsense.
bitwize 3 days ago 1 reply      
What surprises me is that this encoding was developed to allow people to share replays of an illegal, and very pathological, Tetris variant. Hackers gonna hack.
Manualslib Database of More Than 2.6M Manuals manualslib.com
341 points by dabber  13 hours ago   56 comments top 14
ryandrake 11 hours ago 6 replies      
This looks like a great resource. I buy a lot of used tools on Craigslist, and of course, nobody ever keeps the manuals. So it's always the same time-consuming task:

1. Go to the manufacturer's web site, if they still exist, and see if they have a manual there

2. Search Google for "MODEL# pdf". Wade through pages of pond scum search engine spam and paid sites for a half hour. Apparently, enough people search for manuals to make this profitable.

3. Do some web research to find similar product model numbers (maybe 8029A manual would cover 8029B too?) and repeat 1-2 above.

4. Start searching through forums and other hard-to-index parts of the web.

5. Check torrent sites? (now I'm getting desperate!)

It's crazy how tough it can be to find a user manual. In many cases, I end up finding one scanned by another end-user and posted online to be helpful. It's also a shame that 1/2 the comments here are about copyright. I can't see how taking a site like this down would in any way benefit a manufacturer whose manual is available. Unless the manufacturer is trying to make money selling their user manual, in which case to hell with that shitty company.

Mister_Snuggles 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I've started saving electronic copies of manuals, assembly instructions, etc for anything that I purchase. If there's no electronic copy available, I'll scan the paper manual. In all cases, I'm putting the documents into an instance of Mayan EDMS[0]. Mayan also automatically does OCR on everything that comes in, so even if the PDFs are non-OCR'd scans they're still searchable.

This is part of a larger project to significantly reduce the amount of paper that I'm keeping, which is why I'm using a document management system as opposed to a Dropbox folder. My goal is to divide the mounds of paper into things I need to keep for a long time (e.g., tax documents), and things that I can shred after a year (e.g., bills, receipts, etc). In all cases, I want the documents searchable and backed up.

[0] http://mayan-edms.org/

devrandomguy 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The manuals have a big watermark right through the center of each page, which isn't even translucent; it completely obscures the content behind it. See https://www.manualslib.com/manual/464698/Honda-Civic.html?pa... for a random example, where the watermark completely obscures the model number of the Honda Civic's automatic transmission.

Is there some way to pay to remove the watermark? Is that how this works, these manuals are effectively just free previews?

mynegation 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Copyright worries notwithstanding, it is a great resource. The first thing I do unpacking anything new is searching the internet for a manual (usually PDF) and saving it to my Dropbox. I keep paper manuals around for a while but recycle them after the end of warranty period to reduce clutter.

I wish every manual was mandated to come with QR-code or at least short URL to its own electronic version.

vesinisa 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Incredible.. I was literally yesterday looking for a manual for my 80's boat motor of unknown model. A quick lookup and visual approximation allowed me to match the model on the manufacturer's site and download the series user's manual from here.

The PDF has been OCR scanned and allows searching. This is way easier than ordering the manual from a reseller. Copy to cloud, and now I have online copy of the manual always in my pocket..

I understand it is copyright infringement, but still super-useful. And I might still order a physical copy if the digital copy proves helpful.

disconnected 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Uh, I hate to be that guy, but isn't this just one big copyright lawsuit waiting to happen?

I think you can find most of these online in their respective manufacturer's sites for free, but I'm not entirely sure they would be cool with people lifting them and slapping them on another site.

IANAL, of course.

skrebbel 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Just out of curiosity, does anyone know where they source their manuals? The "about" page describes them as developers, not hardcore collectors or warezy types.

I mean, most sites like this are about sharing, but this one just provides content freely and that's it. I couldn't find an "upload" button. Great for us though, but I'm still curious :-)

xbryanx 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What a phenomenal resource. I'm really surprised at how comprehensive and fast it is.

Anyone know how they support something like this? There's got to be a bit of cost associated with the hosting and processing. Are they selling a commercial version of their software platform?

arjie 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I love you. You are a good person. A wonderful person.

This is a problem I've had for ages when buying old hardware. Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

gesman 10 hours ago 0 replies      
ManualsLib watermark plastered over every page is distracting - however I understand the purpose.

PDF rendering looks crippled from quick check on some pages.

Otherwise - looks like promising repository.

theklub 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I made something like this for car manuals but got scared of a lawsuit and shut it down. It was really popular anyway but I learned a lot about cars in the process.
banku_brougham 12 hours ago 1 reply      
i just used this for a new washing machine. the Electrolux support site requires one to provide the exact model number to search manuals--no browse, no index. rather than go downstairs to read the number off the machine i searched the web and found manualslib.

so to the point besides being annoyed by crappy manufacturer websites: should i be worried about exploits buried in pdfs? isnt it possible to hide rootkit attacks in a pdf?

pawanpe 10 hours ago 0 replies      
good job!
bungie4 13 hours ago 0 replies      
You can probably use deep learning even if you don't have a lot of data beamandrew.github.io
383 points by deepnotderp  1 day ago   76 comments top 11
rkaplan 23 hours ago 8 replies      
This post doesn't even mention the easiest way to use deep learning without a lot of data: download a pretrained model and fine-tune the last few layers on your small dataset. In many domains (like image classification, the task in this blog post) fine-tuning works extremely well, because the pretrained model has learned generic features in the early layers that are useful for many datasets, not just the one trained on.

Even the best skin cancer classifier [1] was pretrained on ImageNet.

[1]: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature21056

shadowmint 21 hours ago 0 replies      
You probably can... but is that really the issue?

I think the problem isnt that you cant solve problems with small amounts of data; its that you can't solve 'the problem' at a small scale and then just apply that solution at large scale... and that's not what people want or expect.

People expect that if you have an industrial welder than can assemble areoplanes (apparently), then you should easily be able to check it out by welding a few sheets of metal together, and if it welds well on a small scale, it should be representative of how well it welds entire vehicles.

...but thats not how DNN models work. Each solution is a specific selection of hyperparameters for the specific data and specific shape of that data. As we see here, specific even to the volume of data available.

It doesnt scale up and it doesn't scale down.

To solve a problem you just have to sort of.... just mess around with different solutions until you get a good one. ...and even then, you've got no really strong proof your solution is good; just that its better than the other solutions you've tried.

Thats the problem; its really hard to know when DNN are the wrong choice, vs. you're just 'doing it wrong'

erickscott 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Andrew Beam's post offered very persuasive evidence that Jeff Leek's intuition (deep learning yields poor performance with small sample sizes) is incorrect. The error bars and the consistent trend of higher accuracy with a properly implemented deep learning model, particularly with smaller sample sizes, is devastating to Leek's original post.

I think this is a fantastic example of the speed and self-correcting nature of science in the internet-age.

As an aside, @simplystats blocked me on Twitter, which I assume is in response to this tweet: https://twitter.com/ErickRScott/status/871586233599893505 and it seems that I'm likely not the only one blocked: https://twitter.com/jtleek/status/871693250947624961

What's most concerning about @simplystats blocking activity is the chilling effect it has on discourse between differing perspectives. I've tried to come up with a rationale for why highlighting the most recent evidence in reply to someone who sympathized with Leek's original post (btw, @thomasp85 liked the tweet) is grounds for blocking , but I can't come up with a reasonable idea.

Further aside, is irq11 Rafael Irizarry?

Update: after emailing the members of @simplystats they have removed the block on my account and offered a reasonable explanation. SimplyStats is a force for good in the world (https://simplystatistics.org/courses/) and I look forward to their future contributions.

ska 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's an interesting conversation but really weakened by failing to take on the generalization problem head on. This is something I see in a lot of discussions about deep nets on smaller data sets, whether transfer or not. The answer "it's built in" is particularly unsatisfying.

The plots shown certainly should raise the spectre of overtraining - and rather than handwaving about techniques to avoid it, it would be great to see a detailed discussion of how you convince yourself (i.e. with additional data) that you are reasonably generalizable. Deep learning techniques are no panacea here.

m3kw9 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Ppl keep saying a lot without even thinking is a relative term. For images a lot means enough to get to x percentage accuracy, for OCR for a single font, a lot means 26 letters + special chars and numbers. Stop saying a lot blindly like every one underatands.
irq11 23 hours ago 4 replies      
...but why would you?

The fact that there are people "getting their jimmies up" on questions of training massively paramterized statistical models on tiny amounts of data should tell you exactly where we are on the deep-learning hype cycle. For a while there, SVMs were the thing, but now the True Faithful have moved on to neural networks.

The argument this writer is making is essentially: "yes, there are lots of free parameters to train, and that means that using it with small data is a bad idea in general, but neural networks have overfitting tools now and they're flexible soyou should use them with small data anyway." This is literally the story told by the bulleted points.

Neural networks are a tool. Don't use the tool if it isn't appropriate to your work. Maybe you can find a way to hammer a nail with a blowtorch, but it's still a bad idea.

j7ake 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Of course you can use it but does it perform better than "shallow" methods such as Gaussian processes, SVMs, and multivariate linear regression ? either through theoretical or empirical evidence ?
zensavona 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe what you should do is deep learn some data and then do some deep learning with your deep learned [deep] data.


known 15 hours ago 0 replies      
aka Wisdom of Crowds
aub3bhat 19 hours ago 1 reply      
This debate is meaningless for several reasons:

1. The original argument is a strawman. What do they mean by "data"? Is it survey results, microarrays, "Natural" images, "Natural" language text or readings from an audio sensor? No ML researcher would argue that applying complex models such as CNNs is useful for say survey data. But if the data is domain specific, such as Natural Language text, images taken in particular context, etc. using a model and parameters that exhibit good performance is a good starting point.

2. Unlike how statisticians view data (as say a matrix of measurements or "Data Frame"), machine learning researchers view data at a higher level of representation. E.g. An image is not merely a matrix but rather an object that can be augmented by horizontally flipping, changing contrast etc. In case of text you can render characters using different fonts, colors etc.

3. Finally the example used in the initial blog post, of predicting 1 vs 0 from images is itself incorrect. Sure a statistician would "train" a linear model to predict 1 vs 0, however I as an ML researcher would NOT train any model at all and would just use [1] which has state of the art performance in character recognition in widely varying conditions. When you have only 80 images, why risk assuming that they are sampled in an IID manner from population, instead why not simply use a model thats trained on far larger population.

Now the final argument might look suspicious but its crucial in understanding the difference between AI/ML/CV vs Statistics. In AI/ML/CV the assumption is that there are higher level problems (Character recognition, Object recognition, Scene understanding, Audio recognition) which when solved enable us to apply them in wide variety of situations where they appear. Thus when you encounter a problem like digit recognition the answer an ML researcher would give is to use a state of the art model.

[1] https://github.com/bgshih/crnn

deepnotderp 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Also, not to mention transfer learning is a big one.

Case in point, the silicon valley "not hotdog" classifier which they stopped at hotdog or not due to lack of training data when in reality they could've just used a pre trained net on imagenet. Lol, I was literally cringing through that episode so hard xD

Wal-Mart will pay employees to deliver packages on their way home bloomberg.com
247 points by bko  3 days ago   370 comments top 30
matt_wulfeck 3 days ago 12 replies      
> Workers can opt in to earn extra money by making deliveries using their own cars. Theyre assigned packages based on where they live so the route aligns with their commute home

The headline makes it sound coercive but that actually sounds like an efficient use of time and energy (less big trucks on the road, less miles driven, more money for people who want it).

I wouldn't mind dropping a few things off on my way home and earning a few extra bucks as long as it made sense financially. I'm very interested to see what incentive they have for it.

yourapostasy 3 days ago 5 replies      
Questions I haven't seen answered yet:

* Employee gets a destination with no parking available, who gets dinged for non-delivery?

* Employee gets a destination with no parking available, but is told to double-park by local manager. Gets ticketed. Who gets dinged?

* Does this constitute a non-CDL delivery service, or courier service? Will Wal-Mart handle licensing and insurance coverage of personal employee vehicles?

* What exactly constitutes "on their way"? A block out of their way? Several kilometers out of their way?

* What guarantees are in place that the definition of "on their way" isn't expanded without due consideration in the future?

* Is the compensation piece work, or based upon time? If piece work as implied by the 10-package maximum, and an unforeseen traffic stoppage takes up employee's time, does employee have flexibility to bail on delivery and do some shopping while waiting for stoppage to clear? If there is no such flexibility, I can practically count upon the absence of "surge compensation".

* Do recipients have the option to view a picture of employee and vehicle, with map showing location as delivery draws near, ensuring security and privacy?

* Employee slips on stairs while walking down them after completing last delivery on way to their car, breaks a leg. Is this covered by worker's compensation, or is employee on their own?

* Employee is assaulted by dog/perp while making delivery. Who pays?

This is a laudable effort, I like the general idea, but this is all but guaranteed open to worker abuses in the future as management "optimizes" it, in a "pray I don't alter it further"-fashioned deal. I don't expect Wal-Mart stocker staff for example, to think of these and many other contingencies when signing up, for which they will almost certainly be hung out to dry if their number comes up.

losteverything 3 days ago 3 replies      
As a professional delivery worker and an employee of the everyone-hates retailer i have this view:

This is an experiment. Only. Lore has said that 75% of delivery cost is labor related.

Wal-Mart is insane about not working off the clock. They won't force associates to do this.

From the delivery aspect:

When we get a new delivery person they suck for months. There are so many variables that make failure probable: unmarked addresses; multiple units; obstacles (including dogs); access; daylight; wrong address labels; "who gives a sh#t" attitude ("i just cant return with my delivery"); scanning failures

Plus. Ups fedex and usps are trusted with access-walking on peoples properties without question.

Imo lore is good at pushing things and this test will be called off.

santoshalper 3 days ago 3 replies      
The discomfort I have with this is that Wal-Mart has a long history of sensible corporate policies (seriously, Wal-Mart at the corporate level has been surprisingly progressive on a lot of issues) that turn into draconian mandates by regional or store managers who are under intense pressure to maximize profit-per-employee. This just sounds like another good idea by corporate that will inevitably be crammed down workers throats.
djrogers 3 days ago 0 replies      
FTA: "Workers can opt in to earn extra money by making deliveries using their own cars. Theyre assigned packages based on where they live so the route aligns with their commute home"

This sounds like a really good strategy - Walmart has thousands of locations and hundreds of thousands of people driving home form those locations. If they can leverage that into some efficiencies in the delivery chain, for either faster or cheaper delivery, that'd be awesome for them and their e-commerce customers.

david927 3 days ago 2 replies      
What are the liability concerns for this? If they get in a car crash on their way home, does Wal-Mart pay? And if not, why not?

To me, personally, this smacks of late-stage capitalism. How long until "voluntary and paid" becomes "coerced and paid little"?

Nelkins 3 days ago 2 replies      
Fun fact: the mobile app for associate delivery was written in F# using Xamarin.

Source: I work at Jet, but not on this team.

nugget 3 days ago 0 replies      
It took Wal-Mart a long time to wake up and realize they have one of the largest captive workforces in the world (and that there's a lot of untapped on-demand value therein). Great move on their part to start experimenting with this.
TACIXAT 3 days ago 5 replies      
I think my biggest complaint is that someone making minimum wager or near minimum wage will value money above their time, so many will take this opportunity. Most will take up any reasonable opportunity to earn a few extra dollars. However, this takes away from time that could be spent with family or used to better their skills. The working poor are in a tough position and this program takes advantage of that.
kstrauser 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sure, I don't mind running errands during my commute so long as that time's on the clock.
swanson 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sam Walton, in the early days of WalMart, got a pilot's license so he could fly between store locations (vs a much slower commute by car). He noticed while flying that he could see traffic patterns and scout out new store locations for his expanding business. I think Sam would be proud that the same out-of-the-box, resourceful thinking is still happening today.
ensiferum 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice one, They could also ask them to drive to work on their days off to pick up some deliveries ;-)
tuna-piano 3 days ago 3 replies      
Amazon has a program, "Fulfillment By Amazon", where you can pay Amazon $2.50-$4.00 to pick, pack and ship an item for you[1]. Would Wal-Mart be better off just paying Amazon than paying all the people involved in its process? I'd imagine Wal-Mart is paying its people at least $3 per delivery, in addition to paying the people in its stores to pick/pack the item...

Does turning Wal-Mart stores into distribution centers and retail employees into pickers and delivery people beat dedicated DC's and delivery people? I'd guess not.


HarryHirsch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone remember Parcelnet from Britain 15 years ago? It was mums and retired people delivering packages for several retailers, and it was a complete disaster. Your orders just wouldn't show up. That's on top of the sharing economy exploitation.
lightbyte 3 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe this is just me, but I wouldn't want some random person that lives near me to know what I'm ordering from Walmart and have them hand deliver it to me.
eganist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting detail I haven't seen mentioned here:

There's not just added income per delivery (or whatever model Walmart chooses to employ here); there's also the tax write-offs employees can take on mileage driven between their Walmart location and the final delivery stop assuming that mileage hasn't been specifically covered by Walmart directly.

Can an accountant check me here? My thinking is this also helps with commuting costs for quite a number of low-wage employees.

antihero 3 days ago 1 reply      
Who assumes liability? If they fall foul of some regulation (using their cars as commercial vehicles), will Wallmart have their backs?
Taylor_OD 3 days ago 0 replies      
My initial guy reaction is that this is really weird and I wouldnt want my package to be delivered by a stranger. Then I remembered my packages are already delivered by people I dont know. It seems like a nice way for Wal-Mart to cut down on shipping costs and a good way for their employees to pick up a little extra cash.
bsiemon 3 days ago 1 reply      
UPS/FedEx drivers make decent salaries. I wonder how much base pay impacts desire to steal obviously valuable packages. For a Walmart employee the pay is much lower but they will end up with the same knowledge of where/when packages arrive.
menacingly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm a fan of the idea, but unless the data is completely hidden from local management, it's difficult to imagine this not being mandatory in practice. No matter what the posters in the breakrooms say.
amelius 3 days ago 0 replies      
Will they, from now on, hire people strategically based on where they live?
nnutter 3 days ago 0 replies      
Next step could be to use employees homes, cars, etc. as a distribution of drone base stations.
logfromblammo 3 days ago 0 replies      
As long as you pay me at least $0.54/mile, pay me my regular wage for the entire time spent driving, and insure me and my vehicle until I get home, I would have no problem with this.

That said, I doubt Wal-Mart would be avoiding dedicated delivery drivers if they intended to do all that.

michaelmrose 3 days ago 0 replies      
Having worked for walmart I fully expect many walmarts to have a goal for buy in to this program and employees to be pressured to make deliveries without compensation.

They are the worst company I have ever worked for, just bad people.

rbanffy 3 days ago 0 replies      
So... Will they lay off their delivery drivers?
SurrealSoul 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like some internal manager won their "Its like uber but with packages" pitch.

I wonder how self-driving cars will leave my mail on my doorstep in a couple years

eiji 3 days ago 0 replies      
a) How many employee commute routes will map to affluent delivery buyers?b) More none-descriptive cars and persons in residential neighborhoods knocking on doors, waiting to be shot through the closed door. (I'm not even kidding.)
ge96 3 days ago 0 replies      
What package? haha
Ensorceled 3 days ago 1 reply      
My hate for Wal-Mart is white hot, but this is a very uncharitable headline. This would have been better:

"Wal-Mart will pay employees to deliver packages on their way home"

sabujp 3 days ago 2 replies      
Comparing Bandwidth Costs of Amazon, Google and Microsoft Cloud Computing arador.com
280 points by xref  4 hours ago   157 comments top 32
mikiem 1 hour ago 2 replies      
As a provider of IaaS Cloud and of dedicated servers and colo, I hear this argument all the time. No one ever seems to include the Network Engineers, monitoring systems, the routers (better have more than 1!), the switches (distribution and access layers), the maintenance, software licenses (where applicable), customer support, cost of IP addresses, Account Payable, ARIN membership, RADB membership, cross-connects, optics, spares and/or support contracts, etc... and finally, you do not use a 1Mbps at 100% for 24hrs per day, so while 1Mbps for a month is ~320GB, in reality, the way most people transfer data, 320GB would look more like 3Mbps at 95th percentile (the way burstable bandwidth is billed)

A basic 1Gbps commit on a 10Gbps port in a data center might cost you from $0.50/Mbps (something like Cogent) to maybe $1.50/Mbps (let's say Level 3), other providers could be $4+/Mbps. By the time you factor in all of the above overhead costs, the true cost of the bandwidth is much much higher on a per Mbps basis.

Don't forget to significantly over-build your stuff, or you might get knocked off-line for anomalies or DoS attacks.

Admittedly, the scale of Google, AWS, Azure makes the cost per Mbps much much lower, but when as others have pointed out, AWS, Google, Azure don't need to charge less than they do.

Lazare 3 hours ago 3 replies      

The big cloud platforms offer a rich selection of different offerings, which (just like in every other industry) cross subsidize each other.

When I go to a restaurant, I don't expect that they will be making the same profit margin on every item on the final bill, and in fact, they almost never do. Drinks tend to have a very high profit margin, some labour intensive items may be a break even at best, and the complimentary bread sticks or chips and salsa (if offered) will certainly be a loss.

I guess I could write a very upset article about how my local mexican restaurant is SERIOUSLY SCREWING ME OVER with their drink prices, but if I don't write the companion piece about their cheap burritos (subsidized, of course, by the drink prices), it would only show half the picture.

The reality is that I'm buying a whole package (at AWS or a restaurant) and I should evaluate the whole picture. Yes, I can get bandwidth cheaper outside AWS (or a can of coke a lot cheaper from a big box retailer). But I can't really get the total package of integrated, managed services outside AWS (certainly not for the cost they charge), any more than I can get someone else to show up in my kitchen and cook a three piece meal and then do all the dishes. (Which is to say, I totally could hire a chef to do that, but it would cost me a lot more. I could BUILD an internal SQS clone if I had to, but my employer would never break even on the cost of getting me to do so.)

AWS is very cheap for some things and very expensive for others. Depending on your usage and workload it may or may not be economical to buy the package they offer. If it is, go for it. If not, don't. Just like, you know, every other good or service you purchase in both your personal and professional life.

mankash666 3 hours ago 7 replies      
"Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Google Gloud Platform are all seriously screwing their customers over when it comes to bandwidth charges."

Disagree. There's no false advertising here, they're making you pay for their service and convenience of using a combined [Paas, Iaas, Saas ..etc]. It's unfair to view these services as a singular function, you typically touch MANY features/products in production. The cost includes the convenience of offering everything under one roof, because, face it, doing everything by yourself at the SLAs provided by the giants is no trivial task.

Unless you're a BIG company that likes to distract itself with infrastructure instead of building and sharpening the core offerings, chances are that you will NEVER really build anything as reliable, inter-operable, configurable and manageable at cost.

Terretta 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Router? Gateway? Firewall? Network Access Control? VLANs? Ability to manage all this through declarative version controlled code w/ rollback?

The costs of doing those (well) yourself are not cheap.

Getting them from a provider that's certified to do them well while giving you software control also isn't cheap.

You're comparing cost of gas per gallon to to expense of miles driven per gallon. Pretty sure on your IRS or corporate expense report those aren't the same.

shiftpgdn 4 hours ago 12 replies      
I have posted a few times about how absurdly expensive all the cloud providers are. If you have a baseline load you should be co-locating bare metal. Any excess capacity you need should spill over into your AWS/GCE/Azure account.

For example: A dedicated m4.16xLarge EC2 instance in AWS is $3987/month. You could build that same server for $15,000 through Dell, lease it at $400/month (OpEx), and colo it with a 1GB/s blended bandwidth connection billed at the 95th percentile for $150/month.

thebestman 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This analysis is way too oversimplified. It completely ignores the shape of the traffic (real apps have peaks and valleys of usage - they don't pump exactly 100 Mbps every second of every day). Cloud providers charge the same amount regardless of how bursty your app is, and they have to provision capacity so that all customers get good performance even under unusual spikes (the more spiky your traffic, the better a deal per-MB pricing is for you). And of course it ignores all the ancillary networking HW and SW that supports these services, and all the labor you save by not having to manage that stuff yourself.

I've analyzed the cost of cloud services to death (I've worked for a couple of them) and the only way they aren't great deals is if you don't need high quality operations (i.e. if you can deal with slow-downs or occasional outages then you can do better elsewhere). Otherwise, if you're small-scale then these marginal cost differences don't matter, and if you're larger scale then call up these cloud providers and get yourself a discount off the list price.

desdiv 4 hours ago 1 reply      
(Bandwidth is ambiguous in this context so I'll use "data transfers" instead)

I personally don't see the outrage. AmaGoogSoft overcharges for data transfers because they know they can get away with it and that lowering it won't attract more customers.

Customers with transfer-heavy applications will always buy their servers from providers with unlimited transfers like OVH[0][1], where you can do hundreds of terabytes a month with no extra charges (1.5 Gbps * 3600 * 24 * 30 = 486 TB). Even if AmaGoogSoft lowered their transfer prices by 100 fold their pricing still can't compete with OVH.

Companies with enough engineering resources can always go with the best of both worlds: transfer-heavy servers on OVH, and "regular" servers on AmaGoogSoft. The expensive data transfers will only hit smaller outfits, but these customers won't switch because it's not worth the hassle to split your hosting across two providers.

[0] https://www.ovh.com/us/private-cloud/options/bandwidth.xml

[1] https://www.ovh.co.uk/web-hosting/unlimited_traffic

slackingoff2017 4 hours ago 2 replies      
How is this is a surprise to anyone? The big players are all pushing their clouds because its a cash bonanza. It's the SaaS model for hardware, make money forever because your customers never own anything.

I've done the math many times and it's orders of magnitude cheaper to colocate as long as you can afford an IT guy and the upfront cost of hardware.

QUFB 4 hours ago 0 replies      
pierrec 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
If your EC2 instance uses lots of bandwidth, you're doing it wrong. Use them as API endpoints, only handling data when strictly necessary, and offloading the storage and serving to static storage like S3. Depending on the use case, it can actually be cheap.

If your use case absolutely requires processing and transfer to be tightly coupled, then pick an adapted provider like DO, OVH, Linode, MNX, etm.

benwilber0 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Worth noting that Digital Ocean doesn't actually bill for bandwidth. They say they do in their Droplet template descriptions, but they really don't. I've pushed many many terabytes to/from my Droplets and never received a bill for it. But you need to cap your individual Droplet bandwidth using something like tc[0] around ~400MB/s or they'll shut off the network interface (DDoS detection).

[0] http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Traffic-Control-HOWTO/intro.html

elevensies 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Back of the envelope calculation:

- assume $100/TB for cloud data transfer

- assume one employee full time equivalent to manage colo'd servers ($10,000/mo), plus $30/TB data transfer

The break even point for the colo'd setup from a networking perspective is:

 10,000 + 30X = 100X X = 10,000/70 = 142 (TB/month)
At 1MB per "request" I believe this works out to about 50 requests per second average to reach this traffic level.

Weaknesses of this model:

- Data transfer only. Depending on what else you're doing you could also save a lot on compute and storage.

- I don't know that much about how colocated data transfer would be priced ... i.e. do you need overprovision to guarantee availability, etc.

- one employee to handle servers to replicate the Amazon AWS experience ... could be highly variable depending on what AWS features you are using.

cobookman 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I dont think its fair to compare GCP's egress costs to a colo's. A collocation is simply sending your packets straight to the internet, where-as GCP routes your packets over private fiber to its closet POP to your user. Giving you better latency.
mrkurt 4 hours ago 0 replies      
When you buy in mbps, you're actually billed based on 95th percentile usage. So this comparison is way off, depending on traffic patterns, 1mb/s committed can work out to about 120GB in a month on average. If you use reasonable GB per mb/s numbers the cloud providers don't look all that bad.
llukas 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Pitchfork mode on: Outgoing bandwidth should be even more expensive! Then maybe, just maybe my mobile data cap wouldn't be drained that quickly by bloated webpages and stuff.


clhodapp 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've always figured that the point of this was to allow a) overall costs to generally scale with the "size" of the customer while simultaneously creating a sticker shock effect on migrating out of whatever cloud. For example, looking at Google, the cost to transfer a terabyte out of their Cloud Storage product is six times the cost of just keeping it there for month. Of course some of this collapses if you really look into it (e.g. you are going to pay that egress anyway if people are actually accessing the data) but I'm not sure that that is always clear to execs doing back of envelope math. I think that to some degree this desire for lock-in is explicitly visible in the asymmetric ingress/egress pricing but I do think that it's a little bit underhanded if I am right because it would mean that slightly-deflated e.g. instance prices would be subsidized by lockin.
abalone 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fundamental methodological error: It compares provisioned capacity (colo & Google Fiber) to utilization.

In order for this comparison to be valid you'd need to get 100% utilization of your colo or Google Fiber pipe. You only pay for what you use with AWS et al. And quite obviously the pricing of GF and Amazon Lightsail assumes less than 100%. Nobody's getting "screwed".

dddchk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Cannot agree more with title. I did a comparative model of AWS bills and colo bills in the context of companies of different sizes (https://blog.paxautoma.com/buy-or-rent-the-cost-model-hostin...). It turned out frequently overlooked costs for bandwidth and provisioned IOPS can be responsible of large chunk of the EC2 bill.
havetocharge 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Screwing their customers? What kind of entitled attitude is this? This is a highly competitive market and the customers are voting with their own dollars. Don't like it? Don't eat it.
Arador 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As the author of this post I need to clarify something. I love Amazon AWS, and I love the flexibility and awesomeness of cloud computing. I just don't like the bandwidth pricing ;) Sorry for the interruption, feel free to continue crucifying me. P.S. If someone has more accurate data I'd be happy to update the post or add a guest post. Cheers, Love Arador xoxox
zengid 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
So is Lightsail really worth jumping into?
mmalone 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Keep in mind that with cloud providers you're also paying for the SDN that makes dynamic provisioning of VMs and logical network segmentation possible. Scalable SDN is much harder / more expensive than traditional networking.
geetfun 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's suffice to say that the cloud providers have a different set of customers in mind. I have servers on both OVH/Linode variety of service providers as well as one single app running on AWS. For the products I run on OVH/Linode, I sell the service at less than $20/month. The one on AWS sells for $200+ per month. Again, it's because of the requirements/SLAs. Based on experience, AWS is a lot more robust for what I'm using it for.
bkruse 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I mentioned this in the price reductions of S3 announcement

People fail to realize the true cost of operating on S3, specifically when hundreds of TB of usable data is in play

"By putting the "tax" on bandwidth, a lot of these business cases are solved. I see why Amazon does that.AWS is great, but as you get into high scale (specifically in storage - 2PB+), it becomes extremely cost prohibitive."

cagenut 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a super irritating feature of "enterprise" vendor pricing. What almost everyone on these platforms is doing is moving most of their bandwidth out of one of the CDN services (like say cloudfront) and then negotiating custom pricing on that bandwidth that is often as much as a full decimal place cheaper as long as you sign a couple grand a month yearly commit. There's still this massive massive pricing cusp between using the cloud as a utility and jumping into the suits & drinks & lunches sales guy game.
nodesocket 3 hours ago 0 replies      
While public bandwidth is indeed significantly more expensive on clouds, not all traffic needs to be public and different clouds charge different amounts.

I wrote a blog post on Google Cloud latency and pricing across zones and regions which may be useful for others:


Dylan16807 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If colocation actually cost that much, it would make sense for a connection that allows extreme bursting to charge 3x as much per byte.

The real number to compare to is the google data for business rate. You can do lots of colocation in that price range. And that is why the cloud prices are unreasonable.

venning 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Since Lightsail is mentioned, it's probably worth including Digital Ocean since they offer almost identical network transfer for the money [1].

[1] https://www.digitalocean.com/pricing/

m-j-fox 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> Google Fiber for Business

Maybe worth renting an office in Provo just to get the deal.

FLUX-YOU 3 hours ago 0 replies      
New fun:

Take credit card churning and apply it to cloud data. Build tools to seamlessly move apps between cloud providers.

bitmapbrother 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Did he factor in latency? if you want to ride in first class you have to pay more.
sdenton4 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Houses are such a rip-off! Just look how much more expensive they are than a pile of wood!
No politics please, we're hackers, too busy to improve the world jacquesmattheij.com
413 points by Xylakant  3 days ago   272 comments top 51
jasode 3 days ago 12 replies      
Jacques M,

Presumably, you have read through the comments of the referenced thread[1]. If so, your essay omits a perspective about politics dicussion that many HN participants have. I'll attempt to summarize that position:

1) Yes, politics is extremely important.

2) Yes, politics touches every subject.

3) Yes, HN readers perform technical work in programming and hardware that affects politics, and vice versa.

4) All that said, the politics discussion on HN and similar sites is low quality, bad signal-to-noise ratio, full of emotional comments instead of insightful ones.

5) The overall net effect of political discussion on HN is negative and we'd rather not have 1 of the valuable 30 slots of the front page taken up by a political story (e.g. "Trump denies climate change.")

To reiterate the points above, it does not mean "climate change" is unimportant or that HN posters are "burying their head in the sand". That's a 1-dimensional caricature of the people who'd rather get their diet of political discourse from somewhere else besides HN.

Therefore, it's possible to simultaneously hold the view that politics is super important and they don't want it on HN. Your essay doesn't address this perspective.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13108404

johngalt 3 days ago 10 replies      
You know how you have that hacker meetup, or small conference that starts off as all meaty tech topics? How great that feels to be able to learn/teach/demonstrate advanced topics knowing that everyone is on the same page. Then gradually money/business interests get involved to the point that the fundamental flavor of the group changes, and the first ones to leave are the most interesting. Five years later it's just a bunch of business/sales guys in suits giving power point presentations to each other. Of course no one would say that money, or business interests aren't important, but something has been lost here that is difficult to rebuild.

It's true that we should all consider the ethical ramifications of what we do, but opening the floodgates on politics will have the cost of reducing the utility of HN. The most hyper specialized and interesting hackers are also the least likely to have time to waste arguing about the political battle of the day.

I miss Erlang day.


0xcoffee 3 days ago 7 replies      
What makes HN so great is that when a topic is discussed, often someone with direct participation in the topic is somewhere in the thread, to give an inside view.

What I miss about mixing HN and politics, is that HN doesn't have politicians who can pop in and say 'oh hi guys I wrote this bill feel free to ask me some questions'.

(I'm not saying nobody on HN participates on politics, I remember reading an interesting post about someone who ran for governor(?), but those posts are rare).

For example, a podcast I love is Planet Money, and they take the time to interview economists on both sides, people who write some controversial bills, people who take part in lobbying, and even senators. This approach has really opened my eyes to the political process and I have heard many well formed counter arguments which made me reconsider some of my positions.

I cannot say I have ever experienced this on an online forum.

erikb 3 days ago 4 replies      
I love how this article became an example exactly of what's wrong in politics in general. There is a huge group of people in every political unity, that doesn't care about general consensus, understanding problems, considering different points of view. Yet, these people tend to turn on their political flak cannons from time to time and march into the political landscape like elephants into a porcelain shop (thinking about a funny picture with Trump here).

Many IT guys are like this. They hope their desires are simply well known by everybody and the results ought to be handed to them. That there is a self-responsible process going on that desires not just the fulfillment of a single person's desire but group consensus is just outside their spectrum. They don't even see that it exists.

So instead of discussing about responsibility they decide to use the consesus finding methods like flagging a post to just shut down what is oncomfortable to them, no matter what the results for the group are.

I'm really confused about what could be done with these people. They have the highest amount of participation options anybody ever had on the planet. Yet they don't want to participate. They just want to get fed. And you can't just ignore them because they are so many.

sbuttgereit 3 days ago 2 replies      
Oh dear. I couldn't disagree more with the assessment of this story's position on Hacker News.

There is a difference between sticking your head in the sand politically and having a forum where people with differing political opinions can come together and discuss ideas in other areas than politics. You can both be politically active AND participate in a forum that avoids politics. Hacker News policy and avoidance of most political issues is precisely right in this regard. I know I come here to listen to stories dealing with computer technology and expert/practitioner commentary on those stories and business people engaged in the business of technology, particularly start-ups. At those times public policy has direct bearing to these subjects, such as patent law or net neutrality, I do expect to see discussion here.

Some here have been saying this has to do with US/Paris Accords. I agree with those topics being purged from this forum. I mean, really! How many readers of Hacker News do you think are on the fence about this subject: probably not zero, but my money says pretty damn close. I would wager that most here not only have already formed opinions on the subject, but strongly held opinions on the subject. If that's the case what possible value is yet another place to shout how right you are and wrong the other guy is at the top of your lungs given the number of other venues for such virtue signaling? I doubt you move the needle in one direction or the other on such terms.

So, what can you possibly achieve by being political in all venues and discussion forums? I suppose you can further entrench the move to ideological purity in all endeavors, further degrade any ability to find common ground with people that don't otherwise agree with you, further degrade the political discourse, and achieve a flourishing sense of tribalism in a large, complex society.

Is politics important? Sure it is. But so is time and place.

atemerev 3 days ago 5 replies      
Right. But are you comfortable with the fact that not all hackers will be on the same political side?

I wouldn't go as far as voting for Trump, but I am one of those crazy ultra-libertarians you occasionally encounter (I support tax cuts AND free migration). There are some well-educated people, even some with PhDs, who actually _did_ vote for Trump (I know a few), and most certainly, there are many Trump supporters right here on HN. Will you be comfortable with that, enabling political discourse?

Everyone wants to change the world, but not everyone is sharing your direction of change.

Overtonwindow 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am a lobbyist and I work in Washington, so I'm surrounded by politics every day. I think what makes HN great is that it avoids politics, for the most part, and true intellectual stories and debate is able to take place. Politics is extremely polarized, and permeates every aspect of our society to the point of extreme. I prefer an HN sans politics, without incendiary articles and commentary, because I learn a lot more about the world and society that way.
humanrebar 3 days ago 1 reply      
The irony in this entire thread is that sufficiently broad technical leadership is indistinguishable from organizational politics. It's all about talking stakeholders into doing "the right thing".

I would love to just be able to solve Big Problems by hacking on them, but the more experience I get, the more I find that the biggest roadblocks involve changing minds, not changing code.

5thaccount 3 days ago 0 replies      
Coverage of political machinations is pointless, but information on political outcomes is invaluable - there is a massive difference. Chomsky has said the only paper that tells the truth is the Financial Times, in part because you don't make money with lies, whereas most news is designed to push an agenda and obfuscate anything real.

Understanding political outcomes is very different to listening to political debate/punditry/noise, and learning, for example, that certain subsidies are ending is not the same as reading political arguments on the environment, and they shouldn't be confused.

Knowing that Trump is president means one can predict certain things - the Paris accord ending - but not others, for example budgets are far less fungible than people think, and a lot of the budget of any nation is kinda locked in, so a lot of the noise on funding cuts and changes is unlikely to come to fruition. If you read a lot online/watch a lot, how do you know which of the multitude of BS will come to fruition?

I reckon if more news focussed on "this is the debate, these are the likely outcomes, these industries would be affected in these ways", then reading more would be invaluable. OTOH, Covfefe coverage? I'll Pass.

franciscop 3 days ago 3 replies      
TL;DR: I think the appropriate thing to do is talking about ETHICS here as that's universal and some times it will involve politics, but not just politics for the sake of it.

From an opposite point of view to this article, politics vary greatly around the world and I'm guessing that by politics the article mainly refers to USA politics. For instance I ignore my country's politics talk since it's too old fashion and USA politics talk since it feels quite pointless arguing/bashing for the sake of it most of the times. I do enjoy a meaningful politics discussion from time to time, normally in person and with someone I trust already.

While I do agree on the big picture--USA is one of the most influential countries, politics there affect all the world--this article seems to be setting the prerogative to get into everyday politics. I do not really care whether or not Hillary or Trump were talking about their cat on Twitter (metaphor) during the elections and for many months after it and it became quite unbearable at points TBH.

So I would say that the things we should continue doing is talking about ethics (especially when it is related with hacker ethics). My short list of rules for HN topics are (the more the better):

- It is about hackers/startup/programmers/IT/privacy/etc.

- It is interesting for a global audience.

- It is something new or happening right now.

- It is noteworthy or at least interesting/geek.

qudat 3 days ago 0 replies      
From my point of view, discussing politics is a waste of time. We don't make progress by discussing the daily musings of the people who appear to wield power in the world.

I'm more interested in the technology that will eventually render their power useless: counter economics.

For me the goal isn't to find the right people at the right time to seat the power of nation-states, but to make it impossible for them to wield any meaningful power at all.

I am deeply interested in politics, governance, and the way humans interact at scale, but that doesn't mean I'm interested in what bills get passed, who gets elected, or what Trump said in a tweet. While these small blips in history do have an impact, I think technologies such as bitcoin, uber, etc., have a much bigger impact on the world because they usurp political power.

justin_vanw 3 days ago 1 reply      
Lets all waste time virtue-signalling about things we have no experience or expertise in, that are dominated by charismatic dummies we can barely communicate with, and that we'll have no measurable impact on!

Or we can keep doing what we can do well and has actually, fundamentally changed the world for the better and made us rich.

eternal_intern 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure if I agree with the author. Hackers do care about political issues. My question is whether political discussions over short form text do more harm than good to a community.To me, HN detoxing politics seems more like the librarian enforcing a rule of silence rather than encouraging ostriching. And polarizing topics like politics, especially over short form text, to me, seems like it would destroy that ideal of HN.

That being said, the Internet sure could use a proper forum for political discussions.

wand3r 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think one must devote themselves to politics. However, this thoughtful essay by regular contributor here should be UNFLAGGED. It is piercing, but measured and in line with the ideals here on this site AND the reasonable discussion.

If dang or another moderator could weigh in; this is not how I believed flags were meant to be used. We defend free speech here unless we have a strong reason.

Lio 3 days ago 1 reply      
<personalOpinion>The problem with political or religious discussion is that much of it is irrationally about 'tribes' and self image.

Some positions cannot be easily influenced with mere 'facts' because you're arguing against people's feelings and cognitive dissonance is very powerful.

Bringing politics up on Hacker News will rarely positively influence anyone's opinion but will almost always be divisive and distracting.</personalOpinion>

maaaats 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm sad the posts about USA withdrawing from the Paris deal all got purged fro the front page yesterday. Yes, some political issues aren't relevant on HN, but this I think was.

Edit: Kinda ironic that this post is now having the title [FLAGGED] and being dropped from the fp as well. Edit2: Still flagged but back up, interesting

tonyedgecombe 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm interested in politics, I follow it closely and I am a member of a political party. But I don't want to see it here, I don't think HN is a good venue for it.
mmjaa 3 days ago 1 reply      
One of the reasons I think that we hackers like to stay out of politics is we feel that politics itself, as a subject, is broken - and we can fix it by computerising everything.

This may or may not be true. In the meantime, computer programmers all over the world are working on computerising subjects that are traditionally used to having political power/influence involved. Pulling the humans out and replacing them with shell scripts, in this scenario, is of course a source of contention.

Fundamentally, governments and politics are broken. Computers can be used to fix them. However, this is one of the most controversial areas of computerisation and - like politics itself, along with governance - a cause of never-ending social strife.

Its almost like something, "ethical", is missing in the equation.

spion 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are two different types of politics and we often conflate both. The type that many people hate is "politics the art of manipulating people".

The second meaning refers to actual policies and their effect on people's quality of life. I don't think anyone would have trouble discussing that - that is, if it were somehow magically separated from the manipulation. But often its not.

If you look at the first meaning, things like "detox week" make a lot of sense - its about getting rid of the manipulation so that your brain can process information better again. "Squelching political debate" means stopping discussion that attempts to manipulate, and so on.

Since the tools used for manipulation are currently better than ever before, and we don't like manipulation, I suppose the best approach would be to work on things that expose manipulation and/or defend people from it.

edit: exercise - try to replace the word "politics" with "manipulation" in the article and re-read it. The point that we shouldn't burry our head in the sand still stands, but the reasons why that happens become much clearer.

hawski 3 days ago 1 reply      
We're hackers, too busy helping extract wealth from the population as efficiently as possible.
lgleason 3 days ago 0 replies      
--A bit of a Rant---

I would argue that politics have infiltrated tech too much already.

Don't believe me, try being a open, vocal Trump supporter or conservative at a major tech company in Silicon valley. You will be labeled a hateful, racist (fill in your favorite derogatory term) based on your political beliefs irregardless of your actual actions both at work or even in your personal life. Most people who are conservative are afraid to talk about their political beliefs due to the very real threat of losing their job.

Look at Larry Garfield with Drupal. In the course of things stuff went as far as people in the Drupal association actively trying to ban conservatives among other things.

The ruby community is just as bad. Rails Girls, Rails Bridge and later on tech404.io banned a woman because she was conservative https://code.likeagirl.io/thoughts-from-the-editor-172e93ecc.... Then there was Opalgate where a community diversity leader tried to get a key contributor banned over his personal conservative beliefs.

At this years Lambdaconf a black, first time speaker and military veteran, who grew up dirt poor in the projects, but pulled himself up by his bootstraps was blasted by a group of people because in his personal life he believes in the red pill, specifically, in his own words seeking the truth, not being anti-woman.

As a moderate I really don't need to be concerned about someone's personal beliefs work with people or to even have a friendship with them. People are messy imperfect beings and there are many shades of grey with people and beliefs even when they hold views that I'm against. The only time that becomes an issue is if someone acts on it. IE: they steal from the company or murder someone etc. but that is not what I am talking about here. In all of the cases I mentioned here, these people did not act inappropriately in a professional setting. They didn't harass people, try to convince people about their personal beliefs, make sexist statements etc..

People who dedicate their lives to parsing out complex political/moral issues have a tough time doing it. If I go to a tech event I'm there to talk about tech not a political conference. The irony is that if people on all sides of the political issues have a place where they came come together and see someone as a human it also may be more effective than the division that the politicization of tech has been creating. Could that open us up to some bad, maybe, but politics being combined with tech are causing a lot of damage to the industry and people already. More importantly its not working. ---Rant over--

varjag 3 days ago 3 replies      
We can argue all we want, but it is clear that in 2016, blocking one Twitter account could alter the course of history.
cyphunk 3 days ago 1 reply      
Let's start with the techno-essentialism that many in the tech world depend on for their mental well being: Yes developers impact the world, no they do not impact them as much as TV (still), comedians and most other fields of science. Dumping movies, 0days, user databases online, developing some new prediction market with whatever cryptocurrency doesn't change that. Still, I completely agree one should be aware of the ethical implications in the code they write.

Relevant quotes from article:

> and that hackers, more than any other profession, create the tools and the means with which vast changes in the political landscape are effected.

> The ability to influence with disproportional effect on the outcome of all kinds of political affairs compared to someone not active in IT, the ability to reach large numbers of people, the ability to pull on very long levers, far longer than youd normally be able to achieve

> Between Wikileaks and Cambridge Analytica it should be more than clear by now

stop this. Go back and look over CA's marketing material. They brag about taking Ted Cruz from a field of 20+ into 3. Not exactly a winning pony. And I'm sure there were plenty of other analytic companies that would have used it to their marketing benifit if their pony got further instead. The "we predict you better than your mother with just 300 likes" is a line people already wanted to believe. Someone just made a good story for us to bite into it.

Still, I do agree "everything has a political dimension"

forgottenpass 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does it ever occur to people who want to introduce explicitly political conversation to a project, that a "lets focus on the task at hand" policy might be for their own good? That bringing the political dimension in might chase away contributors with whom their interests were temporarily aligned?

I can understand bringing up politics when the topic is something like deliberately using psychological manipulation against their users. Because if you think it's morally wrong, your interests were never even slightly aligned, and the goal is to be off-putting. Hopefully in a way that puts people off of what they're building, rather than putting them off of venues where you can converse with them.

But using that case as rhetorical cover for bikeshedding a minor slight that occurred in the context of an otherwise noncontroversial piece of software? That is why people hate "politics."

(I wish I had the link to where I saw this argument presented first, but I'll guess my poorly rephrased version will have to do.)

mnarayan01 3 days ago 0 replies      
Political discussion tends to be of a fundamentally different type vis--vis technical discussion. Discussion mechanics like voting and flagging (particularly apropos here) which work well for technical discussions are often...lacking...when it comes to political ones. This is literally what much of the article is complaining about.

If someone is pounding in nails with a screwdriver, I might suggest that they use a hammer instead. That doesn't mean that I think nails are beneath me.

yellowapple 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The ability to influence with disproportional effect on the outcome of all kinds of political affairs compared to someone not active in IT, the ability to reach large numbers of people, the ability to pull on very long levers, far longer than youd normally be able to achieve comes with some obligations."

If this is true, then "some obligations" would almost certainly include a reluctance to abuse those long levers or alienate a large swath of users. Power ought to be used responsibly.

Back to reality, though, the reason why hackers and other tech-minded folk are averse to politics is the exacy reason why they're hackers: because politics is about as far away from the hacker ethic as possible. It'd be like asking a racecar driver to take up an interest in gardening; yeah, some NASCAR drivers can probably grow one hell of a vegetable patch, but it ain't exactly something one could or should expect them to do.

Hackers would rather focus on being immune to politics. It should be no surprise, then, that they tend gravitate toward things like cryptocurrencies and other technologies resistant to governmental control (or providing a means for such resistance).

guscost 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are you kidding me? It's not that I'm not political, but this isn't a place for doing anything with politics, it's for hacking and talking about that. Go away with this crap.

Politics is OK to get into but I skip over any comments that directly provoke flame wars. I don't flag articles but I sure did flag this. And I deleted a personal insult from that first part. What are you thinking??

masondixon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Politics divides us. The more we can do together whilst holding opposing world views the better.

If the left didn't excommunicate anyone they disagree with maybe there would be more a chance to have reasoned political discussions, but so far, anywhere online where there is a left-wing community, all opposing viewpoints are silenced. See Reddit, etc.

thedevil 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's not that politics don't matter, it's that political discussions are not just useless - they're harmful.

Political discussions almost always become emotional, rather than intellectual, discussions. They work on the wrong part of the brain.

Virtually everyone takes absurd positions and then viciously attacks their fellow human beings who take a different absurd position.

randallsquared 3 days ago 0 replies      
Explicitly talking about politics is exactly what everyone who doesn't have any access to long levers is doing. Using those levers to accomplish something doesn't necessarily look like "doing politics". It might instead look like writing the bitcoin whitepaper, or running some tor exit nodes, or just improving wikipedia.
scandox 3 days ago 1 reply      
I never saw an article that was both flagged and still on the homepage...Didn't know that could happen. Badge of honour really.
luord 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm yet to see a political discussion among people not dedicated to that or with no in-depth knowledge that actually accomplished[1] something. Several (hundreds) of posts/comments asserting opinions before dying out, or turning into a flamewar of insults, doesn't do much to change the world, as far as I see anyway.

With that in mind, I don't see the point of promoting even more (it's not as if there isn't plenty of it already) political talk in HN.

Is it important to be aware of political ramifications? Maybe, and that's why I personally follow several general news publications in my RSS feeds and not only tech blogs. Is it important to discuss it? Following what I said above, not, in my opinion.

[1]: Even among knowledgeable persons, most of the accomplishment is swaying people from one side to the other and that can be good or bad.

ivanhoe 3 days ago 0 replies      
In many people's view just being broadly aware of political situation around you is not enough anymore, they seem to believe that you need to have a strong emotions about (certain) political subjects, you need to take actions... even though for the most of time they don't do anything constructive about it either, except for venting off the frustrations on twitter or with friends over a beer. Which is perfectly OK, I do it all the time, but you need to be aware that some people just don't get that much emotionally involved in politics as you do. And that it's perfectly OK, because not taking active part in politics is also a form of politics. IMHO one should be free to choose his role in the society, without being forced into one or the other by peer pressure.
euske 3 days ago 1 reply      
I tend to think of politics as resource arbitration. Say, you have limited resources (as we all do) and there are too many contenders who want to settle this without resorting to any sort of violence, then you need pretty much politics.

Technically, a kernel scheduling algorithm or packet forwarding algorithm are politics too (hence they're called "policy"). The problem is that the real world is so messy and complex and has too many variables unlike CS stuff that we can hardly reach any sensible solution in a timely way. In theory we can tackle on politics in a somewhat objective manner but it's typically waay harder than any software project.

cpt1138 3 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with politics and a great many other things is that talking about it is just talk. The vast majority of these problems are so outside the scope of any one's frame of reference and that creates two problems. Even the most educated of all people are only able to say "it's complicated" and most people only have opinions. It's glib to say that it will just turn into FB with everyone spouting their own un-educated opinions. But the reality is that unless you have actionable YES/NO type ideas, no one in the tech industry (or any other group) cares much about opinions other than their own.
appleflaxen 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this title would be so much better without the ironic voice (or whatever the english term should be for saying one thing but meaning another).

Something like "All technologists should care about politics" is so much more meaningful.

thinkingemote 3 days ago 0 replies      
two things, firstly don't confuse hackernews with hackers as a group.

secondly and the most important is that politics posts here usually devolve into flame wars, and people don't like that.

Finally this submission has already been flagged, I notice.

braft 3 days ago 1 reply      
There are two claims here that should be considered separately.

1. Hackers are reluctant to acknowledge that their work has political ramifications. I believe this is true, and a problem.

2. Politics should be discussed more on HN. This is what most in the comments are disagreeing with, and I think with good reason. I like that HN avoids politics for the most part, but I'm also very glad to see someone point out that too many intelligent and technologically-inclined people insulate themselves from taking questions of values seriously.

jokoon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Even the Snowden leaks seemed not so important to me. Unless there is good oversight of who views what as long as there is due process, I don't see any reason to view those things as politically charged.

Honestly I prefer having a nihilist point of view about politics in general, having a minimum amount of trust towards separation of power, always weighing the pro and cons, trying to guess what public opinion wants. It's much more freeing to see voters as children expecting things.

Geopolitics are much more interesting honestly.

notzorbo3 3 days ago 3 replies      
The tools we create can be used for both good and evil. It's not my place to decide who can and can't use the tools I create and what they can use it for. Frankly, I simply don't care at all about any kind of politics, which is why I got into programming in the first place.

And if the author doesn't like that, than that's just too bad for them.

c-smile 3 days ago 0 replies      
Technology development does directly affect trajectory of where the humanity go as the whole. Yes.

But I think that HN shall be the place where we can discuss how AI moves us from post-industrial to post-human world for example rather than particular fluctuations of the trajectory (a.k.a. realpolitik).

overgard 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm pretty sure a lot of my favorite blogs on political subjects I discovered from reading hacker news, so im a bit skeptical of the premise. What I see get (mostly) rejected here is outright political activism -- but it doesn't seem like the place for that.
snth 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hacker News is a high quality forum because it disallows political discussion.

Maybe someone could build a forum that enforces civil discussion on political issues, either with automated or manual moderation, but Hacker News' moderation isn't nearly strict enough.

happy-go-lucky 3 days ago 0 replies      
> too busy to improve the world

I would say I'm just busy trying to improve the world.

retox 3 days ago 0 replies      
Politics is driving people away from the Google homepage.
elorant 3 days ago 3 replies      
Hackers don't bother with politics because they understand that it's the people who change the world and not the politicians. Politicians' job is to get re-elected, everything else is irrelevant.
wordupmaking 3 days ago 3 replies      
You're downvoted because you're exactly right. People on here generally can't handle inconvenient truths that include themselves. Never trust a person who can't rend their garments.

> This generation

No. Resoundingly NO! These smug clowns can't speak for anything and anyone. They're not even a generation, just farts in the wind. Even just 1% of the people paying attention outweigh them easily, and at any rate, the world belongs to those who genuinely care about it. Period, anyone who disagrees can come fight me. Think less "no child left behind" and more "Noah's Ark"; they had their chance, they made their choice, let's not be held hostage by them. At the very least, let them queue after those who are not ungrateful.

baizuo 3 days ago 2 replies      
kradem 3 days ago 0 replies      
You guys, what would be the crucial ingredient in "socdem" vs. "libdem" diff that makes you so angry when someone compares it to "angular" vs. "react" diff?
cyphunk 3 days ago 0 replies      
That HN flag's this post but not some VC B.S. about company valuations is ironic. Can we call a moritorium on posts entirely about finance and money as well as posts like this one here about politics?
chicob 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hackers have nothing to do with politics.

Just as much as whistleblowing and exposing fraud, espionage, or illegal activities has nothing to do with journalism and transparency. Let alone politics.

In general, software has nothing to do with anything but software itself. Take encryption: it has nothing to do with privacy, which has nothing to do with with surveillance which has nothing to do with politics.

Also - Startups also have nothing to do with the economy; Automation and design has nothing to do with the industry.

And while we're at it: Science has nothing to do with politics. That's why politicians ignore climatologists, physicists and biologists.

Too many people are buying cars using financial products they do not understand timharford.com
253 points by DanBC  2 days ago   311 comments top 28
evilDagmar 2 days ago 13 replies      
I was under the impression that the whole point of auto-financing was to get even even more money out of the consumer. When I bought my last car, I just bought it outright (because it wasn't particularly expensive) which appeared to baffle the dealership. I was actually a little concerned that the dealership told me it was the largest check they'd ever seen (for ~$14k).

Getting people to sign off on a contract they don't really understand is a great way to get more money out of the consumer than they'd otherwise spend.

jacquesm 2 days ago 2 replies      
This goes for many things outside of cars. Insurances, Mortgates, student debt, lottery tickets, consumer debt, credit cards and so on.

In general people are sitting ducks when it comes to being fleeced by parties with a plan.

I always wonder why schools don't even teach the beginnings of finance to everybody. You'd almost think there is a reason why it explicitly is not being taught.

PuffinBlue 2 days ago 5 replies      
Maybe I didn't understand the deal I bought a car with, or maybe it's an unusual deal, but I'm happy with it.

My car costs me a set amount per month that I can afford, an amount that is actually equal to the monthly depreciation it would face anyway (on average) over a three year period (including the initial low value deposit I paid, this is still true).

Even if I bought it outright, which I couldn't afford to do, I'd 'lose' the same amount of money _in total_ thanks to that depreciation. Effectively I'm 'renting' the car for the same 'cost' as owning it, just without the upfront payment.

Further, GAP insurance purchased at a one off price of about 100 (which was far more tricky to make sure I got the correct thing) will cover any difference in the 'hand back' price at the end of my term and the value of the final payment. So basically if the car does depreciate below the value of the final payment then the GAP insurance will make up the difference. Likewise if I have an accident etc.

I reject the idea that PCP deals are like 'buying and selling a series of homes using interest-only mortgages'. Cars lose value, always. Whether you buy it outright or not, it'll depreciate in value (save for some hyper rare beasts you aren't going to be buying on PCP anyway). But the article doesn't address this point at all as far as I can see and it's an important part of the value proposition of using these types of deal.

cperciva 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm not familiar with this particular structure, but it sounds like the sequence of cash flows are:

1. Customer receives car.

2. Customer pays monthly amount based on the prevailing interest rate and predicted depreciation of the car.

3. Customer returns car after X years, at which time the depreciated value of the car along with the payments they've made pays for the car they received X years earlier.

Can someone explain to me how this is functionally different from a fixed-term lease?

dazc 2 days ago 1 reply      
People are buying cars they can't really afford because the monthly payments seem to be affordable. I think they know it's an expensive way to have a nice car but the alternative (because they don't have the capital) may be buying an old banger or having no car at all.
Pica_soO 1 day ago 1 reply      
My aunt lectures at a nursing and hospital-school. Many of her pupils are stuck in the "Car"-Deal. They all leased or lend a expensive car to show off, got into accidents or expensive repairs, could not pay off the accumulating debt, and now are basically indentured in debt-slavery to the car industry with half of their monthly paycheck.
wnevets 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obligatory john oliver episode on the subject https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4U2eDJnwz_s
ghufran_syed 2 days ago 3 replies      
I feel like there is a natural tension between adults having the right to make their own decisions, and 'protecting' them from making bad decisions. Maybe what we need is a two-part market for financial services, a tightly regulated one where only regulator-approved, simple products can be sold, and one with much looser regulation, but that only those consumers willing to take a financial literacy exam are eligible for (with the financial firm being responsible for checking, and contracts being void if sold to unqualified buyers). After all, even brokers and traders have to take an exam before they are allowed to trade more complicated financial instruments (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Series_7_exam). We also don't allow people to drive a car without proving they can do so reasonably safely.

The public could reasonably assume that the government might provide guarantees for products in the first group, in the way they do for bank accounts. Products in the second group would explicitly be excluded from any government guarantee - if you passed the exam, and want to risk your own money, totally up to you, but don't come expecting your fellow citizens to bail you out if things go terribly wrong later.

So for example, interest-only home mortgages are almost always a bad choice for most consumers, so they would probably be in the second group. So you could still get them if you really wanted one, but you would have to prove you knew what you were doing, and were willing to give up any hope of a government bailout.

ethbro 2 days ago 1 reply      
> What auto finance needs what most consumer finance needs is for key information to be made simple and salient. Competition cannot work if consumers struggle to understand what theyre being sold and what it will cost.

And if you agree with that, then let me tell you a story about the healthcare industry...

EternalData 2 days ago 0 replies      
I liked the term "junk finance". There's a subset of financial products that are essentially the equivalent of going to McDonalds every day, and ordering a Big Mac to go.
Shivetya 2 days ago 1 reply      
While car contracts can be unnecessarily confusing they are not the only opportunity for reform. Service contracts need simplification as well, whether your agreement for internet or cell service, to merely using one of the online streaming services. There is a lot of boiler plate in there that could be minimized with some good changes to the law.

This story is UK based, is there no Truth In Lending type act to help simplify these contracts into terms people can readily understand? A recent car purchase I made in Georgia (US) was very easy to understand, all the numbers on one sheet.

sunstone 2 days ago 0 replies      
I bought a prius recently and where they were hoping to make the money was on the extended warranty. I demurred on that so I got a 3 year 0% lease.

In addition when you consider the prius' high gas mileage, low maintenance, high lifetime (over 500k miles) and high resale value it's a great deal if you're planning on driving quite a bit.

jordanb 2 days ago 4 replies      
So I guess the whole car thing is probably going to be this cycle's mortgage bubble? Considering car sales are falling off a cliff I guess we're in 2007 right now.
MikeTaylor 2 days ago 1 reply      
The two-step plan for effortlessly being better off than you otherwise would be (I won't say getting rich):1. Buy the cheapest car you're OK with.2. But the best house you can afford.

This is simple. Cars (especially new cars) depreciate super-fast; and houses have appreciated at crazy rates at least for the last few decades. Don't put your money in a fancy car.

forinti 2 days ago 1 reply      
Which is why contracts should include warnings, as Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed.

Dangerous equipment should have warnings so that you don't lose your fingers and financial tools should have warnings so that you don't lose your shirt.

A decade ago I bought a Fiat (in Brazil) and was offered financing at 0,99% a month. This was worth it, as fixed income investments were paying more than 1% a month. Except that the administrative fees made the effective rate something like 1,99% (which was not worth it). The salesperson argued that I could pay the fees in installments too. It made me angry that they are allowed to do this to people who can't do the maths.

draw_down 2 days ago 0 replies      
I noticed that the people saying this type of financing is a good deal, were comparing it against just buying a new car outright. But, you don't have to buy a new car.
Twisell 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't the European version of the APR exactly designed to overcome that problem? (It's mandatory for every loan in the European Union)https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annual_percentage_rate
hartror 1 day ago 0 replies      
Tim Harford does a fantastic podcast called 50 things that made the modern economy. It is some of the usual suspects but mostly things you would not have considered before. Highly recommended.


aiyodev 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can't believe the car bubble isn't a bigger story. I know a waitress who is single, can barely afford an apartment, can't afford internet service, and who just financed a brand new Jeep. This reckless lending is setting the country up for catastrophe. The next economic downturn will cause people to lose their homes and their cars.
barrkel 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think it may be easy to buy a relatively bad PCP deal, because of the difficulty in comparing like for like when there's a lot of variables in the deal. But I'm not sure that PCP is often a bad deal compared with outright purchase (whether on finance or not), because it creates a lot of certainty, particularly with good gap insurance, and doesn't require a lot of capital.
andrewflnr 2 days ago 0 replies      
The bit about banning complex contracts is funny, especially contrasted with the alternative of having machine readable versions. My guess is that a machine readable format sufficient to express all the complexities of these contracts, especially conditional payments, is going to be Turing-complete, or pretty close to it. Anyway, it's going to be really hard to do that third-party comparison. The obvious solution is to only allow contracts that can be analyzed in some tractable logical framework... but limiting complexity is where we started.
lxmorj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Headline has too many words. Feel free to remove "cars using"
lacampbell 2 days ago 1 reply      
The idea of not paying cash for a car is insane to me. A could justify a loan for a house, or even an education. But a car?! I just don't even understand this mindset.
no_wizard 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think that this would be as large scale an issue in the United States at least if public transportation was as good as say, Japan's.

That would put a lot of pressure on the industry indirectly to be more transparent to the average consumer. I would think anyway. I don't have anything except anecdotal evidence and a gut feeling to back this up.

I think car ownership being needed outside the major 12 cities (Lookin' at you NYC!) that have good public transit is a national crime in and of itself.

IkmoIkmo 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some examples would've been nice.
watertorock 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds a bit like mortgages circa 05
awqrre 2 days ago 0 replies      
that is not the biggest problem in the way we buy cars...
DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
A better title might be "too many people are buying cars using financial products they do not fully understand."
Secretive Billionaire Makes The Cheese For Pizza Hut, Domino's And Papa John's forbes.com
270 points by breck  3 days ago   174 comments top 18
alaskamiller 2 days ago 4 replies      
Reminds me of the last boss I worked for that works diligently since high school to build a hundred million dollar business in an unsexy industry with factories across America. Aside from growing up in silicon valley, he's the only other inspiration that rich is attainable and accessible.

Unflashy and unassuming, he doesn't try to draw press, hired older folks to be the faces. It's just like watching someone that's really good at playing this video game called spreadsheet. Patiently stacking and stacking day in and day out the same thing, but bigger and bigger.

 consistency and scalability... Leprino made himself indispensable
That's all it is.

transitorykris 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this story. Yes, building unsexy things can be lucrative. It's also amazing that him and his partner has spent their lives producing a product that within a margin of error has fed everyone in America at some point. But, it gave me time to stop and reflect, I've personally (and unknowingly until now) worked with about 25k lbs of his cheese during my tenure at Pizza Hut.
deepnotderp 2 days ago 4 replies      
It's sad that the engineer that made everything happen, Lester Kielsmeier, only got a tiny fraction of the overall wealth. Maybe this can change someday? I'm not hopeful though...
burntrelish1273 2 days ago 6 replies      
Just an FYI: cheese is the most expensive ingredient in/on a pizza, so this makes perfect sense.

Reason: think of all the gallons of milk and processing it takes to make an unit of cheese.

Source: Someone whom worked at a Pizza Hut in South San Jose in high-school.

PS: Another interesting business model (in Texas) is Braum's, which is a large co-op ice cream/restaurant/convenience store chain run on behalf of a consortium of dairy farmers. This cuts out middlemen and is basically direct-to-consumer. The prices are much lower than similar SKUs in local grocery stores and the quality is quite high.

NelsonMinar 2 days ago 1 reply      
See also from 2014 "New Mexico dairy shuts down after undercover activist videotape". A dairy that supplied Leprino was caught on video treating cows horribly. Leprino seems to have responded reasonably.

> On Thursday, Denver-based Leprino Foods, for whom Winchester Dairy was a supplier, announced a program that requires its dairy suppliers and farmers to comply with new company guidelines regarding animal care. Leprino, the worlds largest producer of mozzarella cheese and a supplier to fast-food chains nationwide, has said that it was extremely repulsed by the video.


puranjay 2 days ago 3 replies      
Aside: screw Forbes. Between the pre-load ad screen and the autolay ad video (which for some reason I couldn't even close), their site is downright unusable.
tomcam 2 days ago 3 replies      
I admire the business idea... but, rapacious capitalist though I may be, it fails my personal "would this business embarrass your children" test because what unifies all of these products is that the quality of the cheese is terrible IMHO.
salemh 2 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone parse this sentence for me?

*Instead, he hired Lester Kielsmeier, who had run a cheese factory in Wisconsin only to find out that it was sold during his stint in the Air Force during World War II, because his dad believed he'd been killed in action. "When Lester came, I went downtown to the junkyard and I bought a couple bigger cheese vats to make it look like we were really in the business," Leprino says.

Leprino's dad thought Lester Kielsmeier died in WWII, or?

threepipeproblm 2 days ago 0 replies      
These are precisely the 3 pizza joints I cannot convince my room mate to order from. I guess he doesn't like the secret billionaire cheese.

EDIT: Not sure why this is being downvoted. Analysis of the mass market pizza industry as a race to the bottom, in terms of ingredient quality, is an old idea. Couldn't the secrecy, fake differentiation of leading megacorps, and low quality cheese be connected? Are we supposed to be impressed at this way of making money?

blazespin 2 days ago 4 replies      
He was private because his buyers wanted it that way. Do they really want everyone knowing they use the same cheese? I wonder what changed for him to come out like this.
kensai 2 days ago 1 reply      
Punchline: combine science with sales! ;)
nodesocket 2 days ago 0 replies      
Thank god for the Willy Wonka of cheese.
deepnotderp 2 days ago 5 replies      
Wait, what's the "technology" that's being talked about in this cheese? Isn't it just normal cheese? Am I missing something here or is this artificial faux cheese?
faragon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Buffalo milk cheese is amazing for pizzas (after you have the pizza cooked, put a bit of buffalo milk cheese on top).
ShabbosGoy 2 days ago 6 replies      
homero 2 days ago 0 replies      
I swear it was government cheese caves
danjoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
hobarrera 2 days ago 3 replies      
I find it disgusting to think that such a horrible industry that pillars on exploiting sentient animals up to the point of their death from exhaustion handles so Billions.

It's even sadder how people seem not to care at all, and are okay with all the torture and mutilation that goes behind the milk/cheese industry if they've something tasty in front of them.

Hacker, Hack Thyself codinghorror.com
301 points by darwhy  3 days ago   113 comments top 17
g_sch 3 days ago 7 replies      
I saw a very interesting talk last year from someone who, as part of a company's security team, had set up a system that continually attacked the hashes of every employee's Active Directory passwords. If one was cracked, the employee would receive an automated email with a note containing the last few characters of their password and a suggestion to change it.

I recall they also spoke on some security aspects of the system's design, like how the cracked passwords never touched disk and had to be destroyed as soon as possible, etc.

I wish I could find a recording or a writeup on this somewhere, as I thought it was a pretty cool (and effective) approach.

sriku 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't trust myself enough to manage passwords properly for some small services I run 'cos I simply don't have the spare time to invest compared to investing in functionality.

For that reason I've been trying out a password-less login for a while now (works via email) and so far non tech folks haven't complained too.

It is pretty much as though you always used the "forgot password" mechanism to login.

Wrote about it here - http://sriku.org/blog/2017/04/29/forget-password/

mwcampbell 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Jeff and his team know about Dropbox's password strength estimator: https://github.com/dropbox/zxcvbn
whoami_nr 3 days ago 5 replies      
I am not an expert on password hashing but I was wondering why can't the websites hash their passwords twice using two different hash algorithms. That way when the hashes are exposed, the attackers have to go through two algorithms. Is the time complexity increase only marginal that people don't do this ?
tbabb 3 days ago 1 reply      
IANA security researcher, but isn't it a bad idea to publicly post a list of known-good passwords associated with accounts on your own site?

I raised an eyebrow at the hash/salt table alone.

orng 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is my math failing me or wouldn't 8 digits result in 10^8 possibilities rather than 8^10?
dukedougal 3 days ago 3 replies      
I built my latest application using Amazon Cognito for user management. My application and database don't ever know anything about the passwords. Amazon's problem.
peterwwillis 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm comfortable using passwords <20 characters distributed among a range of sites because I have a realistic view: if one gets compromised, not every account does, and most accounts are not critical. Some are luggage keys, some are Medeco.

But those are bad comparisons. A key and lock is an asynchronous single use authentication+authorization mechanism. Passwords are just the authentication part, so trying to replace these just requires we have a secure way to authenticate ourselves.

We have the benefit that we are using digital systems, so our authentication can be digital, too. We can also rely on multiple factors to improve how authentic this process is. Biometrics, digital files, access to other accounts and networks, offline code generators, and personal information all provide lots of authentication data and multiply the effort needed to defeat the system. By combining all these factors, we can create a new digital key that is far more difficult to defeat than old methods by themselves, and ultimately is more flexible because it can be made up of any of these things.

The problem mainly seems to be that we live in a world of different locks, and most locks don't accept this particular kind of digital key. We've hacked around this problem and made some attempts at more compatible solutions, but they really fall short of their true potential.

In the future, you should simply be able to use any system and know that it will authenticate you in a way that can't be copied or cracked. Today that just isn't the case. So for now, maybe we should move the goal posts. We can keep making our keys more unwieldy, but we can also get more guard dogs.

The guard dogs need to exist not only to protect the locks, but the keys, too. If you go to unlock a door, a thief can knock you out and steal your key. Each aspect of our digital access needs guard dogs. We can no longer accept insecure communication methods, nor insecure computing platforms, to exchange our authentication. I think the real challenge going forward is rethinking how we process data altogether.

Qub3d 3 days ago 2 replies      
Suuuper nitpicky, but in the paragraph directly below Dark Helmet, Jeff calls his Graphics Card a 1080 GTX Ti. The GTX goes in front of 1080, since GTX is the general product line.
dzdt 3 days ago 4 replies      
What this shows is that even with best practices passwords are a fairly weak security control. We need a standardised second factor id.

The FCC or corresponding body elsewhere should mandate that phone networks and phones support a secure messenging protocol which could guarantee that a message could be sent to a phone number and only be received by that device.

Password-only authentication is like locks on luggage, even with best practices.

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tarr11 3 days ago 0 replies      
Has anyone ever done an analysis of what impact these kinds of breaches (like OneLogin for example) have on either end users or the company?

Ie, we often describe breaches as "really bad" but it would be good to quantify in terms of things like:

- Revenue Lost (Company)

- Reputation Lost (Company)

- Time Lost (Company + User)

- Increased Costs and Penalties (Company)

- Assets lost (Company + User)

novaleaf 3 days ago 1 reply      
very surprised nobody here or the author mentions Argon2, which is like scrypt except better, and is hardened against GPU attacks.


Sniffnoy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Most of those passwords that got cracked, my reaction is, OK, of course that's a weak password... but "1qaz2wsx3e" and "A3eilm2s2y"? Geez! How'd they get those?
git_SHA 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would it be a bad security practice to keep a database of the SHA hashes of maybe the 10 000 most common passwords then alert users who try to use them? Obviously you would do the comparison before applying your actual bcrypt/PBKDF2 function with salt.
peterclary 3 days ago 2 replies      
Encrypting the hashes in the database would make it safer. That way the password hashes can't be attacked in this way unless they can decrypt them first.
eriknstr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Once they have the hash type table in place they should switch to Argon2.
New research indicates Unicorns are overvalued stanford.edu
252 points by good_vibes  3 days ago   71 comments top 25
cjlars 3 days ago 3 replies      
The key issue is that a lot of startups use various contractual terms -- things like options on exit, liquidation preferences and others -- to take money into into the business at high nominal valuations, while still offering downside protection (optionality) to investors. The public at large usually just quotes the nominal valuation and goes from there. However, the optionality of those terms has substantial financial value, so the nominal valuation is often far from the truth.

These authors have developed a system to tease out the optionality using standard financial methods (using methods like Black-Scholes, for example), which can give us all a better understanding of the true worth of these companies. Far overdue in my opinion.

gjem97 3 days ago 5 replies      
> The average unicorn, the researchers note, has eight stock classes for different types of investors, including founders, employees, venture capitalists, mutual funds, and others.

As an aside, this is why I think that any effort of a prospective employee to divine the value of a stock option package is likely in vain. Without a detailed accounting of the ins and outs of the preferred stock that is senior to your common shares, it is nigh impossible to tell how much the common shares (and options thereon) are worth.

arjie 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think when a model is presented like this, it should also show the examples where it fails. In the article, they show Square (Series E valuation at 6 B, pre-IPO 2.66 B) where the "fair valuation" correctly models closer to pre-IPO at 2.2 B.

However, let's look at another example. Take Nutanix (Series E valuation at 2 B, pre-IPO at 2.1 B). This model values it at 0.8 B on their table, almost a third of the IPO price.

There is no explanation forthcoming in this article as to why that's the case. This makes it seem like the Square example was cherry-picked.

I picked NTNX at random, so I don't know if it's the one exception. I'm not going to exhaustively check every result, however. I expect them to do that for me and not sell me a story without pointing out the terrible exceptions.

sebleon 3 days ago 2 replies      
The deal terms for unicorn investment rounds are less about company fundamentals, and more about the scarcity of great startups.

There's more money than there are good deals in Silicon Valley, so later stage investors are forced to offer more money for less equity in order to beat other term sheets. This ends up looking like sky-high valuations, since investors that offer fair-market-valuations are unlikely to get picked. Founders naturally gravitate towards minimizing dilution.

WestCoastJustin 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you are looking for the table of companies, like I was, then download the report via https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2955455 and skip to page 48.
neom 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was fundraising last year for the company I work at and one of the investors asked me if I'd consider doing XYZ. I said, well that would put our share price to such that you would create a massive valuation on the business, so no. They seemed confused and said but wouldn't you want to make the company that valuable. I smiled and ended the meeting. What they wanted would introduce an enormous amount of risk to the business because Valuation != valuable. I would imagine this type of conversation is how founders end up on that list. I think our business is great, but I'm not delusional.
artellectual 3 days ago 3 replies      
The key thing here isn't about the fact that they are overvalued. It's more important to discuss the repercussions and what anyone is doing about it. It's not just Sillicon Valley, it's the startup scene all over the world.

How much is something really worth. Well how much is the next person willing to pay, that's really what this is all about. I've been down the road of VCs, exits etc... before and to be honest most of it is just fluff people make up, loop holes in the way things are valued, forget basic business and accounting they literally are making this up as they go.

Most VCs I feel have a detrimental effect on startups, the only thing a lot of them provide is money, which isn't always what a startup needs. It doesn't matter to the VCs that they are mostly wrong, they just have to be right once.

The question we need to ask here is what happens when it all crumbles down, due to the fact that all this is going on. How valuable something is ultimately depends on how many lives it improves. Whether something is valuable or not is measured by the amount of pain inflicted on society if the startup didn't exist, and ultimately if something is not needed, it wont survive anyway. The market is cruel like that, and having VC money shields entrepreneurs away from that crucial factor. All this fluffed up valuation has nothing to do with the survival of a business anyway.

singaraja 3 days ago 0 replies      
Square is valued at 8.69B in https://beta.finance.yahoo.com/quote/sq

So if this article is to be trusted it is overvalued by 4.4 B $. that is another square.

dmourati 3 days ago 0 replies      
May I recommend anyone wishing to understand more about valuation read the book Venture Deals?


The subtitle is tongue in cheek but also gives you a sense of how much you can learn and how rare company you are in once you understand the details.

surrealize 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you've been an employee at a unicorn and have common shares/options, check out table 8 (page 48) that lists common share valuations according to their model.

AIUI, the common share FMV they list should be comparable to the 409A common share valuations you may have gotten. Roughly speaking, assuming the funding round in the table is close in time to the 409A valuation.

markm248 3 days ago 0 replies      
New research indicates lottery tickets are overvalued.
pascalxus 3 days ago 0 replies      
The subject title seems about right, but I take issue with the use of the word "new". they just found this out?

Nevertheless, it's not that much: 50-100%. that's hardly a dot-com bubble bust.

TrickyRick 3 days ago 1 reply      
Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of what is essentially a new IT bubble? After all, it bears all the traits of the last bubble so all that's missing is a trigger.
theprop 3 days ago 0 replies      
More details on how they calculated everything would be nice. A better place went bankrupt!
hectorr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe all asset classes are undervalued relative to the currencies they are priced in.
tomblomfield 3 days ago 1 reply      
TL;DR it is not fair to take the per-share valuation at the last round of funding and apply it to all stock if the newly issued stock has preferential rights.

10 apples are worth $100. 90 oranges are not therefore worth $900.

JackPoach 3 days ago 1 reply      
No shit, Sherlock
skdotdan 3 days ago 0 replies      
You don't say?
fs111 3 days ago 0 replies      
news at 11
maxehmookau 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bears shit in woods.Pope catholic.
romanovcode 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, in other news - sky is blue!
EGreg 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is what Edgser Dijklmnopqstra was saying back before these unicorns existed.

We have drifted far from the vision of people building up computing.

gcb0 3 days ago 0 replies      
you know how Nigerian scammers write bad English on purpose so they don't draw smart people by mistake and waste time dealing with them?

unicorn valuation is the same mechanism.

do it so obviously wrong that you only draw dumb people who think they are the only ones smart enough to see the valuation is off so they buy thinking they can profit from their clever and unique insight. and the scam is complete.

charred_toast 3 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, when fucking websites are worth more than real estate it takes a genius to figure out there is something amiss. /s
TypeScript support in Electron atom.io
242 points by Garbage  3 days ago   96 comments top 11
habitue 3 days ago 6 replies      
Flowtype is seeming more and more like the Mercurial to Typescript's git.

(That is, in terms of inertia, it seems like the community has decided on a winner)

mohamedmansour 3 days ago 0 replies      
Best thing I done in my spare time 5 years ago was converting the entire JavaScript code base in Bing to TypeScript, that improved agility 10000x
dgreensp 3 days ago 1 reply      
Resources for getting started with Electron+TypeScript are still not great, contrary to the tone of this article. I'm working on getting electron-compile up and running, and I currently have compilation but no type-checking. I don't expect it will be too hard to figure out, but it's not a five-minute task where you just start with a repo or follow a tutorial. There are various quick-start repos but they appear old. Someone let me know if I'm looking in the wrong place. This article and the accompanying video talk exclusively about the experience of editing code, not compiling it.
cies 3 days ago 2 replies      
Next up: BuckleScript/ReasonML support :)
nahtnam 3 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone know what editor and theme they used in the screenshots? It looks like VS Code.
pfooti 2 days ago 1 reply      
My only wish for TS (which I use on the daily and love) is for some way to export type annotations at runtime. Like I'd love to inspect a class property and see if it is annotated as "this is a date" (in particular for deserializing JSON, which is a constant bugaboo for me). Right now, I just generate two parallel schema definitions, one that typescript uses to provide compile-time type safety, and another that's just a pojo to access at runtime to get more data.
supernintendo 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is exactly what I've been looking for! The only available type definitions for Electron I could find (up until now) were outdated. I'll be making good use of this. Thanks.
moron4hire 3 days ago 1 reply      
With nodemon and live-reload, why is this an issue? I've been able to do TypeScript apps in Electron for months. Both adding TypeScript and Electron to my build process were afternoon projects. No, I'm not running TypeScript natively. But where else do we ever run TypeScript natively? Retranspiling on file changes works pretty well.
z3t4 3 days ago 4 replies      
does typescript know if a parameter is undefined (misspelled) or does it only find errors like 1+'1' ?
donatj 3 days ago 0 replies      
From the video "Use --save-exact because [] we don't follow Semver"
vorpalhex 3 days ago 5 replies      
Why should I be cursed with the weight of your type system when I chose a language without types?

If I wanted a typed language, I would use a typed language. JS has a lot of benefits. Being able to use JS to make native-ish apps has it's place. Being able to use typed JS to make native-ish apps probably means you should be using a different language.

Netflix Leaving Battle for Net Neutrality Shows Why We Need It inverse.com
265 points by prawn  1 day ago   76 comments top 16
dsacco 23 hours ago 4 replies      
For an article that seems to be in such favor of net neutrality, the author is not making any attempt to be neutral in presenting the material.

I read the Recode article this article is citing and watched the conference discussion. Here is what Hastings actually said:

Its not narrowly important to us because were big enough to get the deals we want, Hastings said.

This article presents that subtly differently, by omitting the first sentence and shifting around the context (and thereby altering the tone). It also conveniently fails to include the broader discussion in which Hastings made this statement. If you look at the actual conference dialogue, Hastings didn't outright dismiss net neutrality categorically. Rather, he was forthright in admitting that it's not a priority within the context of Netflix's current goals due to a resignation that it's not a fight worth the resources, which is far less cavalier and hypocritical than portrayed. The Recode article continues with more nuanced coverage:

Perhaps another reason Netflix is being a little quieter about fighting to keep current net neutrality rules is that Hastings knows its already a lost cause. His best guess at what will happen is exactly what FCC chair Ajit Pai has been hinting at: It might be that ISPs just accept the principles [of net neutrality] and its not enshrined formally, he said. I think the FCC is going to unwind Title II, he added later. And he believes that its in the ISPs long term interest to respect net neutrality principles, so maybe theyll just do it on their own.

While we're at it, Hastings was also quoted saying, The Trump FCC is going to unwind the rules no matter what anybody says."

I'm not taking a side on Netflix's course of action here, but I personally feel this article presented the facts in a particularly disingenuous way. There are legitimate arguments that blindly throwing resources at fighting the FCC is an unproductive use of time and money, even if you are pro-net neutrality. You can disagree with those arguments, but it's really unfair to mischaracterize them as sympathy and hypocrisy. For those of you readying hashtags and boycotts, consider that there can be valid opposition to the FCC that looks more nuanced than, for example, Tim Cook's letter to the US government.

marklawrutgers 23 hours ago 2 replies      
I dropped Netflix back when they decided to blacklist VPN IP addresses. Using a VPN address for my own country was pretty much the only way I would be able to access content without it being throttled or manipulated by my ISP.

Then they went ahead and worked with T-Mobile on Binge-On where they would throttle speeds and cap the resolution to 480p on their network which was also a troubling sign.

Unfortunately the outrage and backlash wasn't enough then as the CEO brushed it off as only a very small minority that would actually cancel over net neutrality concerns like these so it didn't make much difference.

And unfortunately, here we are today, where I'm worried it still won't make a difference.

pg_bot 23 hours ago 3 replies      
I unsubscribed from Netflix due to their backtracking on Net Neutrality. If you are an engineer at any company I would suggest organizing a walk out if your company is abandoning a free and open internet.
bko 18 hours ago 2 replies      
I never understood when corporations buying influence with politicians (for admittedly their own self interest) is good or bad. Is it just based on the cause? If a corporation speaks out and lobbies for policies that I agree with its fine? But if its something I don't agree with, its corporatism and corruption?

I get that net neutrality is popular among many in the tech crowd, but perhaps large corporations aren't shining nights and we shouldn't be applauding increased lobbying because their interests align with ours.

graphememes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cancelling my subscription. Hope others do the same, this is the only way we can show businesses that they didn't get there without us.
richardknop 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I have unsubscribed from Netflix 1.5-2 years ago because I have watched all interesting content they had and it made no sense for me to pay them monthly anymore as I reached the point when I rarely ever opened Netflix app to watch anything.

I'd probably do the same with other similar services like HBO or Amazon Prime. Subscribe for 6 months to 1 year, watch all the content I am interested in and then cancel my subscription.

shard972 1 day ago 0 replies      
They realize that they don't have a chance with this current congress to get them to change the laws to benefit their business model.

I guess they will just have to suck it up and build some peering infrastructure.

kev009 1 day ago 0 replies      
I guess it's inevitable for dominant companies to become toxic.
morsmodr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties

source - Their own original series

Principe 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This shows that corporations can't be trusted to have any principle other that "FU, I got mine."
random3 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sad. All I can do is #unsubscribenetflix
josteink 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it's worth keeping in mind that this is the company that poisoned HTML with DRM.

That pretty much sets the bar for what I expect from them.

meesterdude 1 day ago 0 replies      
Such a shame. A blemish the otherwise stellar company will never shed.
pasbesoin 1 day ago 0 replies      
"I got mine..."
pg_is_a_butt 1 day ago 0 replies      
uh... netflix already pays the extortion fees to ISPs so they can host their own boxes in any datacenter that will have them. rather than routing over the wider internet, the requests can be routed locally.

netflix has absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality... if anything, they are the example that ISPs are using to justify their lobbying.

you're all idiots.

remotehack 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Is Net Neutrality a 100% known quantity? I'm pretty sure it isn't. There are a lot of subjective considerations surrounding it and how it's perceived by both technical and non-technical people.
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