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1
Alex Honnold Scales El Capitan Without Ropes, and the Climbing World Reels npr.org
912 points by merraksh  2 days ago   493 comments top 5
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patejam 2 days ago 5 replies      
By far the best article I've seen to supplement this: https://www.outsideonline.com/2190306/why-alex-honnolds-free...

As a climber, there are very few people that I trust to have a more useful opinion on all this than Tommy Caldwell, a close friend and long time climbing partner of Honnold. It's so out there for most people that most jump to conclusions without proper knowledge of the subject.

Caldwell is in an interesting position of having to balance supporting his friend, and trying to get over the fact that he very well could die doing these attempts. His article does a great job expressing this.

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lflux 2 days ago 8 replies      
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bogomipz 2 days ago 5 replies      
If you are interested in this or the history of climbing in Yosemite and and El Capitan I highly recommend the documentary "Valley Uprising." Even if you aren't necessarily interested in climbing its a beautiful documentary. It's available on Netflix.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3784160/

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ChicagoBoy11 2 days ago 4 replies      
The thing that I've most loved while following Alex's exploits over the past few year is how he talks about his mental preparation. He always seems very well prepared for whatever route that he is climbing. To me, the biggest evidence of that is the fact that he quit doing this exact climb a few weeks ago because he felt conditions weren't right. That's really hard to do with media, etc. on your tail, even IF your life is literally at stake.

It would be one thing if he were just incredibly bold and daring and were getting away with it; instead, its clear that his method is a very slow, methodical process in which he manages to practically guarantee that he will have a safe and effortless climb. Even in the interviews after this, it is clear that he is committed to his routine and managed to set-up this climb in such a way that it simply represented a comfortable, natural step in his evolution as a climber. He talks about it almost matter-of-factly.

Truly awe-inspiring.

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vkou 2 days ago 17 replies      
As a climber, I wish this were less widely publicized. Free soloing is extremely dangerous, and dozens of climbers - including experienced ones die doing it every year.
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Let her speak please facebook.com
974 points by devnonymous  1 day ago   621 comments top 3
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jasonshen 1 day ago 9 replies      
Edit: I watched the video. The moderator goes on and on and the "let her speak please" sounds very polite.

This is a painfully frustrating reminder that women get talked over by men. It's one thing to have one panelist talk over another, but to have the moderator, who is explicitly in charge of facilitating a panel discussion, be the one to drown out a panelist is just unacceptable. Yes, "not all men" do this, but the fact that this continues to happen in such visible and public settings, where presumably people are on "their best behavior", would suggest that it happens even more in more private situations. Research has shown that groups where speaking is more distributed are more successful at solving problems, and explicitly teams with more women are more successful: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/the-sec...

I will take this story as another reminder to be aware of situations where I might be dominating a conversation, and I hope you will too.

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token_throwaway 1 day ago 5 replies      
Ugh, I watched the video, jesus the host might be the least self-aware person who's ever been asked to host anything. I was unreasonably annoyed listening to him.

Anyway I want to share something, made this throwaway account specifically for this. I'm the only female at my company, and a developer to boot. I'm assertive in general, I make sure I'm heard. In fact, I try to be hyper-aware of how much I'm talking in a meeting setting, just to be respectful of others. I also feel that I am virtually unaware of my gender at work. I've been lucky in that respect -- trust me, sexism in the world and sexism in STEM is real, and it's not always easy being a female -- but I'm in agreeance with the author that intent matters, and generally that assumed sexist intent can get a bit dramatic. Whether my personality affects my perception, I can't say.

I work with a lot of very introverted and quiet males -- and a small handful of overpowering, extraverted males. I've found myself doing this exact thing quite often. Weekly even. "Let's let him finish his point", "I'm interested in hearing more from {quiet_guy}", "{quiet_guy}, is {contribution_of_loud_guy} what you meant by that?", et cetera.

I would like to believe that if the panel person was a male, it would have elicited the same building irritation from the audience. Although, I'm less sure that someone would have spoken up. I think someone would have needed to feel personally antagonized in order to speak up, which is exactly what happened here.

Bit of a ramble, sorry. My bottom line is that we should all be looking out for those who speak up less, if we sense that those people are being out-talked. My feeling is that people in that category might be more female than not... but I'm also saying that it doesn't matter either way.

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andai 1 day ago 8 replies      
> You may be amazed to hear it, but during this panel session I genuinely did not feel affronted or discriminated by the moderators behavior. It seemed more amusing to see him try posing a question in a way that at the same time tried answering it. Its true that this made the question a bit of a moving target for me (and therefore harder to address coherently), but I dont a-priori assume that the incident was rooted in sexism. Maybe Im too naive, but I simply gave him the benefit of doubt that he was so excited by the newly-learned idea of the duality that he couldnt resist, and that the same might have occurred had the panelist been a male instead of me. So it didnt bother me.

...

> Please understand that Im not trying to say that sexism in science is a myth. It is real and we should all aspire to diminish it. But I am trying to say that it need not pose as much of an impediment as you might fear and that you might be in more control over its influence yourself than you might think. Just as you put up with long lines to see a great show, or with sore feet or mosquitos to have a great hike etc., the annoyance of otherwise abominable behavior diminishes in the larger perspective of doing something you really enjoy.

https://web.facebook.com/marilee.talkington/posts/1015505138...

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Show HN: Monica, an open-source CRM to manage friends and family monicahq.com
1057 points by robinhood  2 days ago   562 comments top 5
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danielvf 2 days ago 9 replies      
My uncle died suddenly this year. He was unbelievably caring - and not just to family - but to everyone he ever met. His funeral was jam packed with everyone from homeless people to executives of multi-billion dollar companies.

I always thought that his ability to always have you, and whatever you had last talked about with him, on his mind at any moment was some kind of supernatural gift. I was surprised to find out at his funeral that he actually kept an excel spreadsheet of everyone he met and what they needed and were going through. He reviewed this constantly.

It didn't lessen his genuine love for everyone, just let him be a little more super human.

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robinhood 2 days ago 36 replies      
Founder here. Here to answer any questions you might have. The site is not perfect, it's not mobile optimized, there are probably bugs, there is a gazillion features missing, no APIs but it's a labour of love, open-source and I hope it will help people other than me. I want to grow this product but I need to know what you need, people.Edit: sorry for the bugs I see on my server popping here and there. Didnt expect that much users and traffic.
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rsync 2 days ago 5 replies      
I built one of these for myself in 1995 and have been happily using it ever since. Here's the source code:

 0 0 19 7 * /usr/bin/mail -s "REMINDER: john T. birthday" me@mydomain.com 0 0 1 8 * /usr/bin/mail -s "REMINDER: MAKE xmas hotel reservations NOW for good pricing..." me@mydomain.com

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rrggrr 2 days ago 1 reply      
IMHO: You want to pivot this product, now, to compete with ourfamilywizard.com. OFW is a great concept but the site runs slow, its search and reporting is erratic and basic, and the UI can be difficult. It is, however, the only game in town for managing divorced families and its about $200 per year. It also features:

- Timestamped and hashed communications and records.- Lower price point than OFW.- More intuitive reporting.

This will NOT have widespread appeal under its current use, and will be tough to make money from.

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cperciva 2 days ago 13 replies      
Is anyone else getting a dystopian vibe from the idea of "managing" friends and family?

I can definitely see this service being useful, but that branding makes me feel very uncomfortable.

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On average, skipping college and investing tuition costs nets a higher return erikrood.com
731 points by qwerty2020  4 days ago   638 comments top 2
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habitue 4 days 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.

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krakensden 4 days 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.

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Americans from Both Political Parties Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality mozilla.org
617 points by joeyespo  1 day ago   200 comments top 23
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throwawayjava 1 day ago 15 replies      
The problem with this sort of poll is that rhetoric, for a huge number of voters, has a much greater impact than facts about issues. Even and especially if they aren't aware this is the case.

This poll reminds me of those ACA polls which concluded overwhelming support by focusing on particular aspects of the Act instead of just coming right out an asking "Obamacare: repeal or keep?" with no preface.

If you truly want to gauge public opinion as it will matter in election years -- which is pretty much the only way it matters -- you shouldn't define net neutrality and you definitely shouldn't ask a sequence of potentially priming questions. Instead, you should just ask: "Do you support Net Neutrality?" and nothing else!

Of course, the results of this survey are still important. But they might not be predictive of how the average person really feels when asked, over a beer, whether we should "keep internet Obamacare" or "let Comcast censor our speech"

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19guid 1 day ago 5 replies      
I oppose net neutrality regulation. In principle, I don't think there's anything wrong with an ISP prioritizing certain kinds of traffic over others, so long as it does not have an anti-competitive effect.

For example, I don't see how Netflix paying Comcast to zero-rate Netflix traffic is fundamentally different from Amazon contracting with mail carriers to subsidize the cost of shipping for Amazon purchases, or even -- to use an example another commenter made -- an appliance manufacturer contracting with electrical utilities to subsidize the cost of electricity used by their appliances. So long as Comcast makes its zero-rating program available to all content providers -- including their own -- on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms, I don't think there are any competition issues.

I've heard people argue that zero-rating makes it harder for smaller content providers to compete, since they won't have the resources to subsidize their customers' traffic. As I said in another comment, that's just the nature of business. Being big affords you certain advantages, like economies of scale. This makes it easier to compete on price. Smaller companies have to compete in other ways.

In my view, the real problem with the telecom industry in the United States is a lack of competition [0], a problem caused at least in part by municipal [1] and state [2] governments. With more competition, net neutrality would be a non-issue. Consumers would just stop using ISPs that unfairly discriminate between traffic.

[0] http://www.nationalreview.com/article/410353/net-neutrality-...

[1] https://www.wired.com/2013/07/we-need-to-stop-focusing-on-ju...

[2] http://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadblock...

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StillBored 1 day ago 3 replies      
Nothing really new here, much of what the government has been doing for at least the last 25 years is unpopular with not only a majority of people, but a majority of both democrats and republicans.

What is s surprising is that, in many ways, the last 4 presidents all ran on a "change" message and have been unsuccessful at changing many of the things that both sides agree needs changing.

Why is a deeper discussion, with plenty of blame, but the best way to summarize it, might just be to call it a bad marriage, where two people can no longer give the other side the benefit of the doubt in conversation, so everything being said sounds like personal attacks.

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RcouF1uZ4gsC 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the results would be if it were phrased:

"Do you think the government should make it illegal for a cell phone company to allow it's customers to stream unlimited music and movies from Netflix and Spotify with no data charges?"

"Do you think the government should make it illegal for an Internet service company to willingly partner with a content provider to provide faster service for that content?"

5
cubano 1 day ago 5 replies      
Who, when asked, wouldn't support "Net Neutrality?"

It sounds like something everyone should be for.."hey, Net Neutrality hell yeah and we shouldn't club baby seals either!"

As always, its the policies that really matter...having a catchy must-be-for-it-for-virtue-signaling moniker hardly explains what going on in the back rooms where the legislation is being written.

It's like the "Affordable Care Act"...who doesn't want affordable-fucking-care?

We are all currently learning, however, that this "care" is hardly that and "affordable" is nowhere in sight.

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empath75 1 day ago 5 replies      
I'm skeptical that most people have sufficient information upon which to make a decision. They just like the way it sounds.

Here's the definition they provided:

> Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers providing consumer connection to the Internet should treat all data on the internet the same, not giving specific advantages or penalties in access by user, content, website, platform, or application.

Doesn't this seem like it makes any sort of QOS prioritization impossible? What if an ISP wanted to prioritize all real time traffic (voip, videogames, streaming video)?

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baron816 1 day ago 2 replies      
Our problem is that Net Neutrality just isn't a big enough issue. Even if almost 100% of the people support it, not enough of them will change their vote on its account.

American democracy is broken because we're always only given two choices. You're never allowed to vote for someone who is going to represent everything you believe in.

Things could be different. If we had a system in which you could vote for whomever you want (regardless of where they're from) and that person had voting power in the legislature that was proportional to the share of votes they got, then the laws we would get would actually reflect the will of the people.

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glitcher 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't know much about statistics, but is the sample size of 1000 people surveyed here significant enough to be drawing conclusions from? It feels small to me, would anyone with a stronger background in this area care to comment?
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likelynew 1 day ago 0 replies      
I am from India and I am closely aware of the wave that started with comedy groups in youtube of youtube and ended up defeating facebook's internet.org. I am little ambivalent about internet.org, but ended up converting 2 people to support internet.org. The common complaint here is this will make unpaid sites slow. This is partially borrowed by netflix event. They use "net neutrality" term, which most of the people have no idea what it means, and they get their entire idea from watching videos which shows faster and slower pipe. On asking them, for whom internet.org specifically is bad, they just don't have anything to say. I have to make them understand that this fight is not about a thing that will make their internet slow. The whole point of a million mails sent is not great care for the internet, but a feel good protest. They would have a much greater effect if they protested for better speeds for local websites, which kind of sucks more in India than one would expect. People are not very sad for seconds of delay, but are more concerned that some company will use faster lane to reduce delay by 10ms-20ms, which is of no use for company in a country which can tolerate very slow sites.

Anyways, my point here is this term sound more of a fundamental characteristic of internet that we are loosing, than it is. The commonly envisioned future that we have to pay by services is not happening. Until that, we have far more important thing to protest against. I personally think better privacy and less data processing by machines is what we should protest for more often.

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diogenescynic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Politicians don't care what their constituents want. Americans overwhelmingly support basic gun-control laws, access to legal abortion, single-payer healthcare, and lots of other issues. Politicians only care about what their lobbyists and financial donors tell them to care about. That's the sad truth. We created this perverse system, so we can reform it when we choose. The only way to reverse this is to make elections publicly funded and reform campaign finance.
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geodel 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think similar surveys like cheaper healthcare, healthier food, lesser college tuitions, better salaries and lower rents will also get similar support from both parties. Everyone like good stuff for them and bad effects can be pushed to other people/state/country and so on.
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tehwebguy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah, we want these government sponsored & subsidized monopolies to stay the hell out of our packets.

Ajit Pai knows this, he just doesn't care.

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gm-conspiracy 1 day ago 1 reply      
In America, only two political parties?
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clashmoore 1 day ago 0 replies      
I recall the GOP publishing their support for Net Neutrality in a previous election cycle platform and then abruptly changing it within a week to the opposite.

Google is failing me in finding that original platform.

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jaggi1 1 day ago 0 replies      
They obviously would. It gives them more control over the internet.
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n8n3k 1 day ago 0 replies      
Satisfied my intellectual curiosity for the day ...
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malloryerik 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised that only one person here has mentioned campaign finance as the true issue here -- and they were downvoted.

As horsecaptin noted on this thread, "No one is going to lose an election for not supporting net-neutrality."

They do stand to lose serious campaign funding, however. Congressmen and Senators spend a majority of their time raising funds for their campaigns. If it weren't so important to them, they wouldn't. House representatives -- incumbents, no less -- need to raise about $20,000 a week to hold onto their positions, and Senators about $10,000.

In 2014, the top four cable providers spent twice as much on campaign "donations" than the top five pharmaceutical companies. I'm not sure about 2016 but imagine it was similar.

--- Some links

How Much Money Big Cable Gave the Politicians Who Oversee the Internet [2014]

http://gizmodo.com/how-much-money-big-cable-gave-the-politic...

House Rep. Pushing To Set Back Online Privacy Rakes In Industry Funds

http://www.vocativ.com/415350/house-rep-pushing-to-set-back-...

The Campaign Cash That Can Kill the Open Internet [2015]All but two of the 31 co-sponsors of a House bill to kill net neutrality received thousands from telecoms in just the last election.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-campaign-cash-that-can-kill...

Half of Anti-Net Neutrality Comments From "Shadowy" Koch Bros. Group

http://gizmodo.com/half-of-anti-net-neutrality-comments-came...

Koch-affiliated astroturfers call Net Neutrality "Marxist" [2014]

http://boingboing.net/2014/08/26/koch-affiliated-astroturfer...

Vote correlation: Internet privacy resolution and telecom contributions

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2017/03/vote-correlation-in...

The 265 members of Congress who sold you out to ISPs, and how much it cost to buy them

https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/29/15100620/congress-fcc-isp...

Internet Firms Are Far Behind Cable Companies in Political Donations

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/upshot/internet-firms-are... [2014]

The Humiliating Fundraising Existence of a Member of Congress [2014]

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/06/the-hum...

Are members of Congress becoming telemarketers?

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-are-members-of-congre...

How much time do politicians spend fundraising?

https://www.quora.com/How-much-time-do-politicians-spend-fun...

18
horsecaptin 1 day ago 1 reply      
No one is going to lose an election for not supporting net-neutrality.
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Shivetya 1 day ago 1 reply      
I support it, but only partially and with caveats.

If we are going to regulate service providers then why not limit what content providers can do as well? Why should they get a completely free ride?

Here is that NN results in. Permanent protection from competition for internet providers as long as they agree to not be too profitable. In return for having their rates called into question and rate increases reviewed they are protected from having anyone being able to undercut them because those same would be subject to the same rates and rules.

Which means, what you got now is what you will have for a long time. NN does not guarantee, in fact it slows, the chance for higher speeds because there won't be competition to deliver such to you.

So those are my caveats. I would like to see additional pricing for content providers limited but not at the point they can free ride the net. We are just adding dollars to the content people's wallets and for what? So we can feel good about sticking it to Comcast (which I don't use).

This didn't work for railroads or long distance, it took us a century for the former and nearly half for the latter to fix

20
pvnick 1 day ago 0 replies      
The results are contradictory and highlight technical illiteracy of the respondents.

Another conclusion: Americans trust ISPs to protect access to the internet more than they do any branch of government.

These issues are complicated and susceptible to populist whims. It's a good thing America is not a direct democracy.

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muninn_ 1 day ago 5 replies      
And just to show how disconnected our government is, the Democrats barely support it, and the Republicans outright do not support it.

Ridiculous. But hey, continue not voting for a third party. That will sure fix things.

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killin_dan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Net neutrality is bad for the market. What people think they want does not supercede decades of economics.

Regulating ISPs will do irreparable damage to the web, and it could be a decade or more before the average consumer can afford to be a part of a meshnet internet.

Y'all just don't understand the level of manipulation happening. Point at the comcast boogieman (and rightfully so, tbh) as they strip ISPs of their liberties and force a certain business model on them.

I have been somewhat disappointed with my fellow citizens before, and there's always been a certain kinship between Americans, but this is just too far.

I guess we will learn econ 101 the hard way.

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miguelrochefort 1 day ago 9 replies      
I don't understand why anyone would support Net Neutrality.

What's the difference between forcing a TV cable provider to provide all channels, forcing Netflix to provide all movies, forcing Spotify to provide all albums, forcing Amazon to sell all products, forcing Fedex to ship anywhere, forcing libraries to carry all books, forcing AT&T to let me call anyone (at no additional cost), and forcing Comcast to provide all websites?

What if some ISP build their own protocol, are they subject to Net Neutrality's regulations? Why?

Why prevent content providers from working with ISPs to better distribute their content? How is it different than allowing stores to associate with arbitrary shipping companies?

6
A subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire ca. 125 AD sashat.me
656 points by curtis  22 hours ago   95 comments top 31
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IngoBlechschmid 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Dear Sasha,

this is brilliant. I know the perfect person to give your map as a present and will buy the high-quality PDF no matter what. But let's try an experiment!

Can you name a price for setting the map free? By which I mean, releasing it and all source materials under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license of your choosing?

If so, then, dear Internet, let's crowdfund at https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/... (just based on the honor system, from both sides). If you love Sasha's subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads as much as I do, then consider pledging a certain amount at that Etherpad for setting the map free.

Cheers,Ingo

Update: Sasha replied to a private mail of mine in a very kind way. He won't set the map free right now. Please still consider supporting him if you like his work. :-)

2
kybernetikos 18 hours ago 5 replies      
Tabula Peutingeriana is a road map of Europe which is a copy of a Roman original thought to have been based on a map prepared by Agrippa.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/TabulaPe...

It also has a 'subway' feel, given that not much attention has been paid to getting the shapes correct.

3
johan_larson 17 hours ago 7 replies      
It's strange there are so many coastal routes. Shipping virtually anything by sea has been cheaper than moving it over land for a long time, and that probably includes troops. I would have expected roads to connect coastal settlements inland, not along the coast.
4
gtrubetskoy 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a github-hosted copy that isn't subject to the hosting rate-limits until we sort out what to do:

https://sashatrubetskoy.github.io/romanmap/

Edit: I am not the author, I'm too old for this :)

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trynewideas 21 hours ago 1 reply      
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_Codemonkeyism 20 hours ago 4 replies      
Very happily my hometown of Cambodunum is there, feeling strangishly proud. Sadly in 125AD we we're no longer a capital of Raetia, lost that to Augusta Vindelicorum.
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duncans 15 hours ago 0 replies      
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Akarnani 10 hours ago 4 replies      
ASK HN: what's the service you use, ideally over the web, where you send a high-quality picture file and they return beautifully printed, large format, frameable prints?

Just contributed and need to send this files somewhere for printing and then find a framer. Thoughts?

9
vinceguidry 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I want to play MiniMetro on this map with Roman chariots instead of subway cars.
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m_st 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Great to see the "major" city of Aventicum indirectly mentioned on HN :-) We can still enjoy the amphitheatre for open air concerts and opera.
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rusanu 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Tangential: George Dow[0] and Harry Beck[1] created the 'Tube map'.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Dow[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Beck

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xchaotic 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Do you find subway-style to be a good method of conveying information?People seem to have agreed that the use of distinct colors is good, but are there more efficient ways of conveying the same info, for a given size?For example London tube map doesn't waste space to show actual distance and I am looking for other ideas on how to compress this.
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jedimastert 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've started to see more and more of these "Tube map" style maps, and I've started to think about how one would go about making one pragmatically. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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boardmad 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Being hosted on #HN has killed it
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sumobob 21 hours ago 2 replies      
ordered! Super awesome work, love it! Question: Did you build this programmatically querying Orbis or just drew it by hand?
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oskarth 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really neat. It'd be awesome to see famous people's hometown and traveling routes on top of this.
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singularity2001 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Vienna seems very off?
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bluetwo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone else see the basis for a really cool game here?
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mtokunaga 10 hours ago 0 replies      
It's more like a Highspeed Railway System Map. ;-)
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KTamasEnty 13 hours ago 0 replies      
mirror: https://sashatrubetskoy.github.io/romanmap/ (mods: can you update the link?)
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f_allwein 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Might help to add present-day names as well? I found it hard to research some of these on Wikipedia...
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campuscodi 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Any mirrors? The site appears to be down.
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flukus 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Do the colors represent anything? It feels like they could have continued on in many places.
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justinzollars 21 hours ago 0 replies      
florentia is where its at.
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minademian 18 hours ago 0 replies      
truly brilliant.
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vikas5914 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice
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emiliobumachar 16 hours ago 1 reply      
"The web service to this account has been limited temporarily!"

HN hug of death strikes again?

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weberc2 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm on vacation in Lutetia right now!
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fsiefken 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is Jerusalem not marked? Was the city not big enough at the time?
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falsedan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> The way we travel on roads is very different from rail, which is a slight flaw in the concept of the map

You said it, author!

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Options vs. Cash danluu.com
672 points by darwhy  1 day ago   301 comments top 33
1
paul 1 day ago 4 replies      
"If you look at companies that have made a lot of people rich, like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, almost none of the employees who became rich had an instrumental role in the companys success. "

100% false.

2
i_dont_know_ 1 day ago 7 replies      
I started off once thinking "yay, X% means I get X% of the company!" and then I found out the shares can be diluted. Then I learned "non-dillutable".

Then I learned about vesting periods, windows for exercising options, and a whole slew of financial terms and devices; each one seemed to come with its own unique "gotcha" that, if you didn't know about, would cost you nearly everything.

Everyone I talk to about these always says "well, don't do that one thing, or if you do that one thing be sure you do it in this way and you're set". The cumulative knowledge you need becomes pretty high pretty quickly though, and the chances of me doing the right legal and financial incantation at the right moment becomes lower.

Nowadays I go with cash. I don't get 'golden handcuffs' that hold me to a job I don't like because it might pay off later. I can calculate the expected value and risks with cash without tons of research. I know my legal recourses if I get screwed out of cash.

3
htormey 1 day ago 3 replies      
Working at a startup as an employee with the expectation your gonna get rich is a fools game.

Negotiate for the best deal on options you can get (I.e quantity, terms like early excercise etc) but treat them as a lottery ticket.

A startup is a good way to learn rapidly so focus more on the quality of the people you will be working with, technologies used, what your role will be, vcs backing it etc.

In the long run the network and experience you build from doing this will probably have a greater impact on your networth. Especially if you yourself want to start a startup.

4
asah 1 day ago 9 replies      
I know 100+ people from a dozen companies who've made $1mm+ on equity. None of my friends would write a post like this.

That said, valuing equity is complicated:

- most offers include a healthy mix of cash and equity and benefits. Evaluate the whole package.

- unless you can pre-exercise via 83(b), I generally avoid options. RSUs are fine and many companies are offering them. Clever hack: counter the offer with a demand that the company pay 2% of the cost of exercising for each month you're employed, grossed up for taxes.

- watch out for illiquidity: whales often delay IPO which locks up employees. This compounds the exercise issue. Clever hack: counter the offer with a requirement that the company offer to buy back the equity at the most recent preferred share price, if the company accepts investment at a valuation exceeding $100mm.

Stay positive!

5
mabbo 1 day ago 1 reply      
Oh look, the thing I should have read before joining a startup.

I left [large corporation], who had been paying me very well, to go try out the startup world. I found a cool local company doing something that sounded neat. I looked at the pay (better on a per-paycheck basis) and the options (better than the stock I was getting in the corporate world) and said "this is a great idea! If the startup succeeds, the options will be worth a lot!".

It's a great company with great people and I don't regret that, but the financial implications of the change are starting to sink in. I'm getting a bit more per paycheck, but on the whole I suspect my tax returns over the next few years will add up to less than I was making before, even if the startup succeeds.

6
martincmartin 1 day ago 1 reply      
"...compensation package has a higher expected value..."

Expected value is a good measure when you're summing over lots of instances, e.g. if you're a VC fund investing in lots of startups.

As an employee, where you're working for a single startup at a time, robust statistics[1] suggests that the median is a better measure of what you'll expect to make: you have a 50/50 chance of making more/less than the median.

More than half of startups either fail, or don't succeed wildly enough for options to be worth more than the equivalent salary.

(If you work for 5 startups in your career, the best measure might be "sample 5 startups and sum the options payout to produce a value; repeat that many times and take the median of the result." But that's a lot harder to intuit, and is no doubt closer to the median than the expected value.)

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

7
drblast 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nobody would ever advise you to take a large percentage of your income and buy options or even stock in a single company in the hopes that that company succeeds enough to make you rich. That's gambling.

Being an employee of the company in question doesn't suddenly make that a good idea. It's an even worse idea since your entire financial future is tied to the company's outcome.

They should pay you more to take that kind of risk.

8
jonbarker 1 day ago 1 reply      
In startups your risk is that 95% of the value of your labor goes into a pool of options whose underlying security (startup stock) never achieves any liquidity event. Also, you do have to factor into your analysis the fact that the tech giants also have options, which are likely not to expire worthless, and also have some upside as well, since they are listed on public exchanges. If startups thought more like Buffett "preferred holding period is forever" they would counterintuitively actually compensate employees with cash more competitively once they achieved positive cash flow (this actually seems to be occurring in a few companies, there are just too few positive cash flow startup examples for quality analysis on this front). More startup employees I know are actually just enjoying their work and salary instead of making a giant sacrifice on a longshot bet in exchange for work they don't think is sustainable. That being said I think what Bezos wrote about amazon's work ethic will always hold true "you can choose to work harder, longer, or smarter but in our case you can't choose 2 out of 3" - paraphrased from memory. Ultimately startups and big companies are trying to design compensation packages that create maximum productivity and the best description I've heard of this is to "take the issue of money off the table". Hard to do that with under market salaries and iffy stock options.
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lostcolony 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting way to flip the perspective, to ask why do startups think offers of options are enticing (as compared to just cash).

But for the potential employee, the advice remains the same; ignore the options when it comes to evaluating a compensation package (and only those who are informed enough to go "weeeeelll..." and have actual reasons for why in a ~particular~ instance they should do differently, should ever consider doing otherwise).

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tschellenbach 1 day ago 3 replies      
Options are a complex topic, this article gets a lot wrong.

1. The base offer. Many startups pay competitive or close to competitive salaries + equity.2. The value of the options depends on your ability to pick the right startup and you believe that you can make a difference to the company. I have a friend who picked the right startup 4 times in a row.3. Stock options are typically priced at 25% of the last round. The reason this is possible via 409a valuations has to do with the differences between common stock and preferred.4. Issues with investors right impacting the value of your stock options are more problematic with later stage startups. Warning signs are companies that raised a lot of capital but didn't live up to their expectations. Those companies will often be under pressure to accept terms in later stage financing that could destroy founder and stock option pool upside.5. Venture Deals by Brad Feld is a great read to understand different investment terms. 6. Yes you get more equity if you create your own company. Doing so is extremely risky, stressful and hard though. I'd guess that even with the extra equity, on average, you'll make more money working for one of the big companies.7. So in a nutshell, starting companies, joining early stage companies. It really depends on your ability to pick the right company and perhaps more importantly your ability to make a difference.

Well that, and a bit of luck :)

11
walshemj 1 day ago 3 replies      
What strikes me as odd given the USA's reputation as the home of the self made millionaire that the taxation of employee options is so broken.

Treating options on shares as Income when they are not is just stupid options are a high risk instrument that well be worth nothing as opposed to a higher sallery.

Why is there not a PAC made up of tech industry employees lobbying for reform of Federal and state laws and arguable tech employers should be doing this.

And I should point out that politicaly I am on the left here compared to 95% f the average HN reader.

12
zone411 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a very interesting discussion for me, as I'm about to incorporate a new AI startup and I'm thinking how to spend my own seed money.

The author's argument in the "Incentive alignment" section doesn't seem strong. "However, as far as I can tell, paying people in options almost totally decouples job performance and compensation." Is there any data to support this or just this author's feelings? Just because the masseuse from Google made millions, it doesn't mean that other people who did well, like their chief legal officer, business operations, and product management executives, who made $160 million, were not instrumental in its success. It just means that not all options were optimally allocated.

13
Waterluvian 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm treating my options like a free lottery ticket with not decent odds. That's it. They don't exist when I plan my finances.

I doubt this is optimal, as options can be evaluated to some extent and risk can be appropriately brought on and managed. But it works for me when trying to do math about my present and future opportunities.

14
geoffreyy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would making secondary market accessible to employees after a cliff - i.e. 2 years - solve this issue of "lottery tickets" we hear all the time?

If we let employees access liquidity events by having the board organizing restricted secondary sales every year, then their options will have a higher probability to have real value?

After all, VCs have lot less risk than employees... We can't diversify our portfolio like they can. They want to invest their money, we want liquidity. Giving us financial flexibility would have only pros IMO and would be a powerful recruiting tool as well.

At my current company, I pushed a lot for employees to get 10yr exercise window extension, which we now have. Now we need to push to get liquidity. I feel like it is our responsibility as employees to keep things moving for a fairer future.

We help adding value to the company, I think it will be fair to be able to sell our options even if the company is still private.

There are also companies like Equity Zen [1] that help giving employees liquidity. I wonder if that is a good alternative too?

Basically if we can unlock the value of options before an exit, options stop being lottery tickets and everyone is happy.

[1] https://equityzen.com

15
allsunny 1 day ago 1 reply      
This isnt my unique thought, I read it somewhere on the internet at some point where it was put much more eloquently, but it makes sense intuitively: The idea is that if you do enough start-ups, one (or if youre lucky, more) of them will hit. Ive been to a few rodeos at this point in my career. Ive had one minor hit, and one big hit. It certainly worked better for me than if Id worked for just cash. YMMV, but I will say not all start-ups are created equal. Sniff out the finances and product viability as much as you can before you join. I like the lottery ticket analogy because its true that youre gambling a bit, I dont like the analogy because the odds are nowhere even close to the same.
16
izolate 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is there any way to nicely state that you're not interested in equity and prefer cash? I haven't found it. It seems to put off employers who think of equity as an incentive.

And I've met some fantastic companies who have done this, so it's not about bad employers either.

17
gtrubetskoy 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're having to debate in your head "options vs cash", then the answer is definitely cash. Because if the options were worth something, that thought wouldn't even come up. Also, companies where options are of actual value generally do not give you such a choice, they give you plenty of both (provided you are worth it), the objective is to retain you because you are valuable, not to pay you the minimum possible value by presenting tricky choices of "options or cash".
18
Mikho 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just week ago there was discussion about options and people shared this tool (https://tldroptions.io/) to calculate amount of money an employee gets based on round and % of the company as options.

Despite the fact that in reality even in best case scenario the sum is rather small -- like 0.01% of a Series A startup with $1B exit will give you like $40K for your 6 year work -- more important issue is different liquidation preferences VCs get for their money.

So, each of many many VCs that invested in a startup by the time of exit exercises own liquidation preferences to scrape every possible dollar -- and in many cases disproportionately more than their fair shares of the startup due to liquidation preferences. As a result there is not so much money left to share among employees after all investors in aggregate get out their money and exercised preferences.

And this is best case scenario. So, a startup needs to have multi-billion exit for employees could make any real money.

19
tdeck 1 day ago 0 replies      
> A company that gives you 1M options with a strike price of $10 might claim that those are worth $10M.

I've had a perspective employer make this exact claim to me. I.E. that I could value my options package by multiplying the strike price by the number of options. I had to go back and clarify that, in fact, those options are worth $0 at the current strike price.

It's hard to see this as anything other than gross incompetence or deliberate deception at this point. Options aren't some new thing that only a few people are doing. Besides, if you're giving them out, you had better bother to learn how they work. I'm curious as to how common these claims are because it's pretty egregious.

(and yes, they were options and not RSUs)

20
rguzman 1 day ago 3 replies      
i think options do a couple of things:1) they let employees invest in startups using their time instead of their money, which is handy when you aren't rich and 2) they allow the company to have a legal framework around an IOU: take less salary now, bigger payout later maybe.

thought experiment: knowing everything you know about e.g. stripe right now, would you buy $100k worth of stripe back in ~2012? in 2012 it was a risky proposition to do so, but many people at the time understood why stripe was likely to be big and successful and invested money in it. i'd rather live in the world where there is a mechanism to invest in such a company besides being an accredited investor with access.

many people go wrong when thinking about options in that they don't try to consider the fundamentals of the investment. working at an early-stage startup isn't just a job, it is a way to do risky investments using your time.

all that said, what Dan proposes at the beginning makes a lot of sense: the startup should be willing to give you cash instead of options (provided they have the cash).

21
georgeecollins 1 day ago 1 reply      
"..why shouldnt the startup go to an investor, sell their options for what they claim their options to be worth, and then pay me in cash?"

Because an option held by an employee has more value because it functions as an incentive.

22
ares2012 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't want to jump into a debate on a clearly biased post, but I feel that a few things need to be clear:- Many employees prefer options to cash, as it provides the opportunity to make a lot of money. The chances that happens are very low but many people want to take the chance. Just because it's not your preference doesn't mean it's not attractive. - Salaries increase over the life of the company, so if you join a startup today with a lower salary but many options then in a few years you'll have the salary you want AND the options. So the question is whether the difference in salary for those years is worth the opportunity for a big return. - There is a different feeling of working somewhere where you have ownership vs just a paycheck. In the early stages of a company this is important to employees who really believe in the mission. - Most companies do sell shares to investors for cash to pay employees, that is where the money for salaries come from. However, that investment comes with many terms attached, including liquidation preferences, which reduce the returns to employees long term. Giving employees options is the most direct transfer of value if the company does have an exit.

Overall, it's a more complex issue than this post presents. If you don't want equity, don't accept offers that include equity. If you do want equity, then do. Simple.

23
pmontra 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've been asked today if I'd take equity instead of some cash. My answer was a polite no.

If I could work at the same time for ten startups then I would hedge the risk. Most would fail, one would succeed, it could be worth it. But I can work for only one startup so it's like betting on who would win 2018 NFL. There are better choices than others, still it's down to luck.

24
TimPC 1 day ago 0 replies      
It just goes to show that just because you think you know how to evaluate stock doesn't mean you do. I have a pretty good understanding of dilution, tax implications, liquidation preferences and so on. But that 5% of equity issued to employees => equity actually acted issued is shocking to me (I would have guessed 35-40%). A friend once told me: unless you're a founder the right estimate of equity is $0 (By which he meant: be comfortable with an offer in every other aspect, then take equity. If you only have a 1/20 chance of getting your equity I'd say that advice is more true than I initially thought.)
25
tristanho 1 day ago 1 reply      
> If you look at companies that have made a lot of people rich, like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook, almost none of the employees who became rich had an instrumental role in the companys success.

Is this true? Dan seems to kind of skim over this point without much proof or thought (which is unlike him!)

I don't have any data on this either, but it seems like a pretty big assumption to take for granted. The implication is that the early employees added little value compared to investors/founders, but in my experience this is the opposite. The team is literally who built the vast majority of the product.

26
justin_vanw 1 day ago 0 replies      
For one thing, the reason that options/shares aren't traded widely in earlier stage companies is regulatory. If you have too many investors, or something, you have more regulatory overhead to deal with. Small companies don't want to have 5000 investors for this reason. However, I personally know people who have sold their vested options at a significant profit in very early startups (just after an A round).

Options are worth more than cash IF AND ONLY IF you have insights and evidence that the company is going to outperform the current valuation of the company, after being adjusted for risk.

For example, if you see that it is the best team ever assembled. Most startup CEOs says their team is the best ever, but if you interact with the team for a bit and see it is probably true.

For example, if the company needs you really badly, and they are able to give you options based on a valuation that based on current information is a huge underestimate. For example, a drug company that found out yesterday that they got their FDA approval for their new blockbuster drug, and for some reason they need to hire you very badly. This is iffy because they are probably not able to offer any options if they are already far along on being acquired.

Overall, there are certainly startups where the signals would be available to someone thinking of working there such that they would be able to determine if it is likely that options have a promising expected value. I think this is going to be a very low % of startups where that expected value is even remotely close to what you would get at a large company, and very very few where it would be much higher.

27
code4tee 1 day ago 1 reply      
Cash is nearly always better for the employee. Startups like options because:

1. They can "pay" people with "free" pieces of paper that effectively cost nothing from a cash standpoint

2. It helps keep staff onboard by slapping golden handcuffs on

3. In the event that these paper options turn into something with actual value that only happens if the founders and investors make a ton of money first, so at that point they don't really care what the options "cost". It's like writing a paycheck that can only be cashed if the founders/investors get rich. A great deal for them, not so great for you.

Net net all these things benefit the founders/investors and not the person receiving the options. In nearly all cases people are getting options as part of core comp because the company can't afford to pay out all that cash. It's important potential employees understand that when agreeing to a base package that is heavily in options vs cold cash. Options should be treated as a bonus that may pay off but very likely won't, not base comp.

28
123aswin123 1 day ago 1 reply      
Cash is king any day! If you aren't in the founding team!
29
pjc50 1 day ago 0 replies      
Options first really got started as a tax avoidance measure, but that loophole was closed decades ago.
30
EternalData 1 day ago 0 replies      
Always good to break down how startup equity really works. It quickly becomes apparent that working at startups isn't a great cash game (though it is a decently good skills game).
31
silverlake 1 day ago 0 replies      
What we need is a way to pool employee stock options across startup companies to diversify risk. Surely there's a financial engineer somewhere who can create such a thing.
32
gleb 1 day ago 2 replies      
Paying with options is equivalent to the start up selling stock to investors, paying employee with cash, and then having employee invest the money back into the company. As the article points out.

But there are differences. Avoiding income tax. Deferral of compensation to drive retention. Giving employees a better deal than the investors. Letting employees invest into an asset class the government normally prohibits them from investing into. Those are some of the big ones.

33
moron4hire 1 day ago 2 replies      
You don't have to over-complicate the analysis. The fact that they give you the options instead of cash is proof the options are worth less than the cash. This is Econ 101: bad currency drives out good as good currency gets horded.
8
List of Printers Which Do or Do Not Display Tracking Dots eff.org
577 points by prawn  2 days ago   204 comments top 45
1
schoen 2 days ago 8 replies      
I wrote this article/originally created this list, and I would like to emphasize that there is a second generation of this technology that probably uses dithering parameters or something of that sort, and that does not produce visible dots but still creates a tracking code. We don't know the details but we do know that some companies told governments that they were going to do this, and that some newer printers from companies that the government agencies said were onboard with forensic marking no longer print yellow dots.

That makes me think that it may have been a mistake to create this list in the first place, because the main practical use of the list would be to help people buy color laser printers that don't do forensic tracking, yet it's not clear that any such printers are actually commercially available.

2
nathanvanfleet 2 days ago 2 replies      
The Lives of Others, which takes place in East Germany and includes a typewriter which is not registered with the government; was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. And it's ultimately the live we'll live as tracking technologies continue to get better.
3
ProfessorLayton 2 days ago 4 replies      
It would be neat if there was a privacy printing app that added random yellow dots to a document to obscure the info.

Perhaps simply printing a single yellow dot through a few different printers would be enough to accomplish the same thing. Then using the resulting paper for "real" prints.

The more I think about it, this could even be a service. "Preprinted" paper that went though a bunch of printers, each adding their own unique identifier each time, then sold and distributed.

That or just paying cash for a printer.

4
i336_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
I just realized something.

- Office IT maintenance all hate printers

- I'm sure you've gaped at the control software that came with the little $40 inkjet you bought (or had to use) at some point

- Even the creator of MINIX cited "buggy printer drivers" as his rationale behind prferring nanokernel architecture (all drivers run in userspace) instead of monolithic approach (all drivers run in ring 0; printer driver sits next to crypto keyring).

So. Printers are terrible.

Remember Brinks' fireproof safes that were absolutely rock-solid but were running fully unpatched WinXP and had a USB port on the side of the keypad for "security updates"? Hackable with a keyboard stuffer that looked like a flash drive. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9961024

I remember reading (somewhere) a conclusion that went along the lines of, Brinks are awesome at making safes - and this safe was truly amazing - but they weren't a software company, to a profound extent.

It's clear to me that printer companies are similarly really, really bad at software design too.

So, reverse-engineering the firmware to figure out what things printers are doing use probably wouldn't be all too difficult.

The printer companies were told to write the code, not write it perfectly and make it impossible to unravel as well.

Of course, if anyone actually take a crack at this (excuse the pun) that'll make things change a bit, but printer firmware is probably at the "open sesame in a big way" stage right now, and the printer industry is huge and slow to change, which suggests reverse engineering could remain trivial for a little while, even with publishing.

5
kylehotchkiss 2 days ago 2 replies      
It could just print the mac addresses of all the nearby wifi networks. One subpoena to google's mapping service and you know exactly where the paper was printed. Yay, surveillance.
6
bobsam 2 days ago 1 reply      
The real question you should be asking yourself is how hard it is to fake these. If I get hold of someones copies, can I use them as template?
7
woof1971 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Would printing on yellow paper solve the yellow-dot problem, or would the still be detectable?
8
tiku 1 day ago 0 replies      
We could just sell "tracking dotted white paper", with 150 different patterns on it.. Or just release a pdf that has them embedded so you can print that first.
9
bo1024 1 day ago 2 replies      
FOSS seems to be the best, if not only, solution. (As usual, when it comes to freedom and privacy...)
10
icholy 1 day ago 1 reply      
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kazinator 2 days ago 4 replies      
Paying cash for the printer should mitigate things. At best they can tell something like that the page was printed by something that passed through a BestBuy warehouse in your town in the first quarter of last year, and that's it.

Buy a printer hundreds of miles away from home while on a road trip, pay cash, and then do whatever you want with it: print yourself a hundred million dollars and enjoy your print-irement. :)

Simply the awareness about the possibility of tracking goes a long way.

12
JulianMorrison 1 day ago 1 reply      
If your printer has tracking dots, this doesn't tell the people reading the tracking dots on the printout anything, unless they either

- already suspect you, or

- can trace the serial back to the purchase.

Conclusion: buy your printer second hand and don't get caught.

13
mattpavelle 2 days ago 1 reply      
My cursory research into this topic (this morning...) lead me to believe inkjet printers may be uncompromised (not printing steganographic dots). The NYTimes believed this to be the case as well back in 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/24/technology/personaltech/24...) - anyone with more knowledge of the subject have information about this?
14
higginss 1 day ago 0 replies      
We need an open source / hardware 2d printer
15
codezero 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it possible to add yellow dots or the opposite of yellow dots (assuming they are additive?) to the printed content such that the existing dots become noise?
16
whiw 1 day ago 1 reply      
So if we swap our yellow and (say) blue cartidges then these dots will become more apparent?
17
tarikozket 1 day ago 0 replies      
For people wondering what the dots looks like: http://static.snopes.com/app/uploads/2017/06/printer_EFF_dot...
18
FatAmericanDev 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there an open source printing platform that allows the printer to be sure no codes are inserted?
19
dmitrygr 2 days ago 2 replies      
Time to start printing full yellow background instead of white. Con: lots of yellow toner needed. Pro: no tracking.

Or maybe never refill Yellow toner and then dots fail to appear.

20
c3833174 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why not just use dot matrix printers?

Can be had for free from business throwing them out, ribbons are readily available, plus they can be used as generic printers (limited graphics capability, but supported both on windows and CUPS) or by writing directly to /dev/lp0

21
kazinator 2 days ago 1 reply      
> the source of documents produced with other printing technologies are also possible, but, as far as we know, other kinds of printers do not deliberately encode their serial numbers in their output.

To clarify, other here refers to anything other than a color laser?

Also, are color LED printers included as color laser? (I would think so).

22
Cieplak 2 days ago 0 replies      
Time to start reverse engineering printer firmware :)
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alkonaut 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's basically impossible to rule out that an image (or anything rasterized) is watermarked.

The best way of ensuring this isn't to test it, but to simply ask the producer whether they would do this. If they say "no" or refuse to answer then don't buy that product. Not even if you had a printer from a manufacturer that had public firmware and driver code could you be sure by just inspecting the code and the printed output.

If they clearly say they don't watermark output then you probably have to trust them or simply not use printers.

24
dang 1 day ago 0 replies      
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amiga-workbench 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are there any known forensic marking methods used by monochrome laser printers?
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em3rgent0rdr 1 day ago 0 replies      
this is why open-source printers are so essential.
27
fiatjaf 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't understand what could be done by governments with this kind of information. Please enlight me.
28
codedokode 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder what is the motivation for printer manufacturers to implement this kind of tracking?
29
amq 1 day ago 1 reply      
Even without deliberate watermarking, it is probably provable that an x document comes from a y printer, based on the way how letters look under microscope. Relevant, for example, if one would be dumb enough to print secret documents at home.
30
jakub_g 1 day ago 0 replies      
ICYMI this is linked to this thread from yesterday:

"Secret Dots from Printer Outed NSA Leaker"

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14494818

31
sedachv 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone here tried building a laser printer following Horace Labadie's book Build Your Own Postscript Laser Printer and Save a Bundle?
32
lsiebert 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder if printing the exact same document on the same paper might mess up watermarks
33
dgudkov 1 day ago 0 replies      
Matrix printers may suddenly get back in fashion.
34
adventist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why create such a list? It seems like things like this should just be in the background to be used by people who may need this information in the future.
35
barking 1 day ago 0 replies      
The best bet is to assume that everything is traceable.Best you can do is do ocr on what you've printed and pass that on, i'd say.
36
pbhjpbhj 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do scanners also add unique identifiers to output, that seems like the low-hanging fruit in this space.
37
kristianp 1 day ago 1 reply      
This seems to be only color printers. Does that mean B&W printers are too hard to add the tracking information to?
38
JammyDodger 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Privacy printer startup anyone?
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5_minutes 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks, handy to know for my ransom notes.
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cowpig 2 days ago 2 replies      
Is there a reason that this would be a bad thing, pragmatically speaking?
41
ouid 2 days ago 1 reply      
can I just use up all my yellow ink to solve the problem?
42
jlebrech 1 day ago 0 replies      
anyway to make it print someone else's dots?
43
_pmf_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
There might still be statistically significant alterations that allow tracking; I'd be very careful.
44
chris_wot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Makes the following book pretty fascinating reading:

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=1XKqCAAAQBAJ

45
mtgx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Samsung printer business was just sold to HP, so there goes that option.
9
Ask HN: What language-agnostic programming books should I read?
895 points by robschia  3 days ago   329 comments top 70
1
DoofusOfDeath 3 days ago 6 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.

2
mikekchar 3 days 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.
3
otodic 3 days ago 1 reply      
4
d0m 3 days 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.

5
petercooper 3 days 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.

6
henrik_w 3 days 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

7
kris-s 3 days ago 8 replies      
Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software by Charles Petzold. I love this book.
8
eriknstr 3 days 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

9
alfiedotwtf 3 days 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

10
brightball 3 days 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.

11
pjmorris 3 days 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.

12
gtrubetskoy 3 days 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.
13
solatic 3 days 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.

14
fazkan 3 days ago 3 replies      
Its odd that no one mentioned it but head first into design patterns is a great/light book on design patterns....
15
deepaksurti 3 days 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.
16
i_feel_great 3 days 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.

17
0xbadf00d 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would recommend "Sorting and Searching" Volume 3 from Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming". Fantastic, in-depth read.
18
qpre 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not a book per say, but "Out of The Tar Pit" by Moseley and Marks is definitely a must-read.

Abstract:

```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

19
mtreis86 3 days ago 1 reply      
Gdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter is about the intersection of music, math, and computers.
20
binarymax 3 days 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.

21
smcgraw 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Thinking Recursively" by Eric Roberts. Completely changed the way I think about recursive programming and easy to pick up.

https://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/books/ThinkingRecurs...

22
MikeTaylor 3 days 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.)
23
fatjonny 3 days 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.
24
__bearMountain 3 days 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.

https://www.amazon.com/Software-Development-Principles-Patte...

25
sgt 3 days ago 2 replies      
Thinking Forth

http://thinking-forth.sourceforge.net/

Teaches you to think simple and elegant.

26
devnonymous 3 days ago 0 replies      
The Aosa series of books are brilliant imho:

http://aosabook.org/en/index.html

Titles :

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

27
zimmund 3 days 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

28
dustingetz 3 days 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.

29
sateesh 3 days 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.
30
lcuff 3 days 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.
31
bphogan 3 days 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.

32
ctrlp 3 days 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...

Also:

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...

33
Rannath 3 days 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.

34
bandrami 3 days 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).
35
happy-go-lucky 3 days 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.

36
agentultra 3 days 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.

37
JustSomeNobody 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think "The Practice of Programming" was and is very good.

https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Programming-Addison-Wesley-P...

38
Insanity 3 days ago 1 reply      
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!)

39
RossBencina 3 days 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.

40
gmiller123456 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The Elements of Computing Systems" and the accompanying course Nand2Tetris on Coursera. It's a course that starts with just nand gates, and leads you through the development of higher level logic gates, then an ALU, then a CPU, the an assembler, then a high level language compiler, and finally an operating system.

I've seen the "dragon book" mentioned several times, and I think it (and similar books) are good if you really do plan to (re-)invent a real world, large scale, programming language. If you really just want to get a feel for what's going on under the hood, the language presented in Nand2Tetris is specifically designed to have the necessary complexity to cover most of the details, but not so many special cases that you end up "chasing dragons". And the course is modular enough that you can jump right in and just implement the compiler if you want.

41
demircancelebi 3 days 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.

42
petra 3 days 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.

43
euske 3 days 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.

44
paublyrne 3 days 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.
45
masterzachary 3 days 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)

46
jacquesm 3 days ago 4 replies      
Any good book on statistics would be a huge asset, as well as a book about debugging strategies.
47
vitomd 3 days 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.

48
csneeky 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Types and Programming Languages" (aka "tapl")
49
BFatts 3 days ago 0 replies      
'The Pragmatic Programmer' is a fantastic language-agnostic manual that still applies heavily today.
50
IndrekR 3 days 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.

51
unfocused 3 days ago 0 replies      
"How to Solve It" by George Plya
52
g051051 3 days ago 0 replies      
"Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams" by DeMarco and Lister.
53
OliverJones 3 days ago 1 reply      
An old standard: The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks.
54
fastbeef 3 days 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.

https://www.amazon.com/Underachievers-Manifesto-Accomplishin...

55
jordigh 3 days 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.

56
dyarosla 3 days 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.

https://www.manning.com/books/dependency-injection-in-dot-ne...

57
timclark 3 days 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.

58
stcredzero 3 days ago 0 replies      
Martin Fowler's Refactoring
59
OJFord 3 days 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'.
60
pjmlp 3 days 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

61
cakeface 3 days 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".
62
mytec 3 days ago 0 replies      
Smalltalk Best Practices by Kent Beck. I feel the advice and experience this book provides goes well beyond Smalltalk.
63
Jeaye 3 days 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.

64
neves 3 days 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.

65
ranko 3 days 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.
66
smyatkin_maxim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Excellent question btw. Language-agnostic books don't get out-dated that fast and I'd give them higher priority.Personally:

- Code complete

- Pragmatic programmer

- Design patterns

- Programming pearls

- If you're going for hardcore programming: the dragon book, something on modern hardware and something on OS internals.

67
mathnode 3 days 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.

68
sAbakumoff 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Practices of an Agile Developer: Working in the Real World" - this book was like the Bible for me when I started my career in IT 10 years ago. I re-read it multiple times and I still stick to the practices described in this book. They are language agnostic, they are pretty clear and easy to follow and they can really improve your skills.
69
maksa 2 days ago 0 replies      
- Pragmatic Programmer, From Journeyman To Master

- Code Complete 2nd Ed.

- Quality Software Management Vol 1-4, by Gerald M. Weinberg

I'd also throw in: Code Reading - The Open Source Perspective

70
rajadigopula 3 days 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.

10
Housing a prisoner in California costs more than a year at Harvard latimes.com
522 points by omegaworks  2 days ago   405 comments top 5
1
csmark 2 days ago 9 replies      
The USA has ~5% of the world's population but 22% of the world's prisoners.

Financial profiting from prisoners:Prison Labor - paid $0.93-0.16/hrCalifornia Prisons didn't want to release prisoners because they would loose cheap labor..Courts said they had to: https://thinkprogress.org/california-tells-court-it-cant-rel...

30% of California forest firefighters are prisoners .. The state argued against parole credit for these prisoners as it would draw down the labor force and lead to depletion of the firefighter force.

Someone already mentioned the profit of commissaries. Some are actually run by private companies operating inside the prison

2
flexie 2 days ago 5 replies      
I get it - it's tempting to solve the Harvard Business School issue by sending the MBA students to prison before they wreck havoc on the economy. But I'm not sure their dads would pay the exceeding tuition.

Also, there is the whole question of whether it would be fair to the other prisoners. Pretty soon the prison economy would be infested with cigarette derivatives and yard swaps.

3
gabemart 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is a cheap, sensational headline and an article that lacks depth and analysis.

At the end of 2006, there were ~160,000 people in prison "institutions" in the state of California[1]. The design capacity of those institutions was ~79,000 people[1], so the occupation was ~204% of the design capacity.

At the end of 2016, there were ~114k people in prison institutions[2], which was ~134% of the design capacity.

Obviously, if prisons are vastly overcrowded, and over time the number of people in prison is reduced substantially, the per-prisoner cost will sharply increase. There are no financial savings on infrastructure because institutional capacity is still vastly exceeded, and the savings in other areas will not be proportional to the overall drop in prison population because the people released early tend to be less expensive to imprison, as they tend to be incarcerated for less serious crimes.

Whatever one's political allegiance, the fact that the prison system in the state of California has been running at a minimum over 130% of design capacity for the last decade is a tremendously serious issue, and it feels trivialising to make a nonsensical comparison to the cost of university tuition, and to present the fact that per-prisoner costs have risen while prisoner numbers have fallen as anything less than blindingly obvious.

A discussion of the prison crisis in California seems completely worthy of Hacker News, but it shouldn't be based on an article like this.

 [1] http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/Offender_Information_Services_Branch/Monthly/TPOP1A/TPOP1Ad0612.pdf [2] http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Reports_Research/Offender_Information_Services_Branch/Monthly/TPOP1A/TPOP1Ad1612.pdf

4
1024core 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think the Prison Industry should be judged by their recidivism rate. The Prison Guards union in Cali is very, very strong (they were behind the '3 strikes' law, ensuring a lifetime of "clients"). Their pay and benefits should be tied to the recidivism rate.

Prisons should not be training grounds for future criminals, but they are today.

Also: prisons should be shuffled periodically, mixing up the population. That'll prevent the formation of criminal gangs inside. Outside, they'll be living in a diverse, mixed environment anyways; might as well get them started on that inside.

5
FullMtlAlcoholc 2 days ago 7 replies      
Think about that for a second...$75K/yr for abhorrent, yet improving conditions and you'll come to the correct conclusion that contractors are absolutely fleecing not only the prisons tax payers, but the prisoners themselves.

Half a lifetime ago, I had to spend a weekend in jail while visiting a friend in California (accused of theft by a drunk lady who couldn't find her credit cards and fingered me instead of realizing that she may have left it at the bar. The best part was when I had to fly back out for a court date, they told me they were dropping the charge for an obvious lack of evidence. This decision was made on the actual court date, so I got to waste even more money on airfare and travel ). I was surprised at the entrepreneurial zeal of those who have no issue profiting from misery and suffering. In the LA area at least, many former/older celebrities are investors or owners of prison supply companies. Most notable was Bob Barker's company which sold travel-sized generic toothpaste for $7. In this case, the price is wrong, Bob.

The fingerprinting machine was the size of a ultra-deluxe 70's Xerox machine, regularly needed service, and looked like it had a sticker price around 5 figures (a feature that is just an add-on to $500 phones.) I think that 10x-20x inflation is pretty consistent across the board in the American penal system. The collect calling system is also beyond ridiculous given the near zero cost of landline telecommunications and that most cell phones can't receive collect calls. The food you're eating is the absolute worst (in terms of taste of course) nutritionally. Nearly everything is processed and is done so in the cheapest way possible. When I say as cheap as possible, I mean that the $.49 Nissin Ramen is an actual delicacy (No exaggeration. Some of the inmates would pool their resources together and "cook" the ramen in a giant plastic bag with hot water that surely must be leeching pcb's and/or phthalates from the container.) After a few months of that diet, even the most physically fit people developed a weird type of gut and loss of musculature.I didn't eat anything while there, but I observed that the only nutritional guideline that could possibly be met that of 2K+ calories/day. I know it's not Club Med, but that type of diet is a blocker for any type of rehabilitation. It was depressing to look at and had the effect of making one more docile and depressed.

So while California may spend $75K per prisoner, the value they spend is probably closer to $7K. It's kind of brilliant in a sadistic way, as if the prisons, their programs, food, and environment were designed to maximize recidivism.

Now that I think about it, I wouldn't be surprised if some elements were designed in this way

11
A hands-on introduction to video technology: image, video, codec and more github.com
686 points by manorwar8  5 days ago   74 comments top 15
1
barrkel 5 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.

2
thomastjeffery 5 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.

3
ccommsxx 5 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

https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pixel_geometry_01_Pengo.j...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chroma_subsampling#/media/File...

etc

4
profpandit 5 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

5
heydenberk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Xiph.org wrote fascinating stuff about video compression when working on their next-generation codec, Daala https://xiph.org/daala/
6
ilzmastr 5 days ago 1 reply      
This was also food for whiteboards in the show silicon valley. Compare: https://github.com/leandromoreira/digital_video_introduction...

with:http://imgur.com/a/Sne89

7
city41 5 days ago 0 replies      
I liked that the green channel in Mario's picture was titled "Luigi". Nice touch :)
8
kozak 5 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.
9
metaphor 5 days ago 1 reply      
Got really excited for a second thinking this was discussion on transport technology as opposed to encoding.
10
0xelectron 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is really great. We seriously lacked a good introduction to video technology.
11
alfg 5 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.
12
rasz 4 days 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.

http://www.onlinevideo.net/2011/05/learn-the-basics-of-deint...

13
callesgg 5 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 :)

14
m1el 5 days ago 0 replies      
How much of that repo is protected by patents and cannot be reused?
15
alextooter 5 days ago 0 replies      
Amazing work.
12
Network Protocols destroyallsoftware.com
831 points by signa11  6 days ago   73 comments top 16
1
djrogers 6 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.

2
have_faith 6 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.
3
manigandham 6 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.

https://hpbn.co/

4
devy 6 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

5
andars 6 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.

6
pololee 6 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...

7
bogomipz 6 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.
8
Alex3917 6 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?
9
iajr39r4 6 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?

10
Ericson2314 5 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.

11
tyingq 6 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.

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

12
Myrmornis 5 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).
13
lttlrck 5 days ago 0 replies      
Alternative explanation of the 1500 byte MTU given in the last paragraph:

https://networkengineering.stackexchange.com/a/2964

14
notdonspaulding 6 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.

15
paulddraper 5 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.
16
RubenSandwich 6 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.

13
Accidentally destroyed production database on first day of a job reddit.com
724 points by whistlerbrk  5 days ago   262 comments top 66
1
Rezo 5 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.

2
knodi123 5 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.

3
sethammons 5 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).

4
xoa 5 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.

5
plesiv 5 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.

6
ice109 5 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.
7
matwood 5 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.

8
quizotic 5 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?

9
ajarmst 5 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.
10
markbnj 5 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.
11
danmaz74 5 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.

12
nstj 5 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.
13
gcb0 5 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.
14
cbanek 5 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!

/s

15
femto113 5 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.
16
daxfohl 5 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?
17
spudlyo 5 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.

18
Etheryte 5 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.
19
roadbeats 5 days ago 0 replies      
The ending with taking the laptop to home though... He is a modern time Dostoevsky.
20
scarface74 5 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.

21
thomastjeffery 5 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.

23
Jare 5 days ago 0 replies      
Something tells me their production password was nothing like a 20-char random string...
24
user5994461 5 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.

25
runnr_az 5 days ago 2 replies      
Hilarious. I wonder if it's true.
26
andreasgonewild 5 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.
27
sitepodmatt 5 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.
28
draw_down 5 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.

29
orliesaurus 5 days ago 2 replies      
I stopped believing reddit posts a long time ago
30
vinceguidry 5 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.

31
jjm 5 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).

32
ww520 5 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.
33
jacquesm 5 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).

34
gregopet 4 days 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.

35
dennisgorelik 5 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.

36
blackflame7000 5 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.
37
icedchai 5 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...
38
dk8996 3 days 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.
39
Myrmornis 5 days ago 0 replies      
Story sounds fictional to me.
40
codezero 5 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.

41
pjdemers 5 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.
42
learntofly 5 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.

43
watwut 5 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.
44
siliconc0w 5 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.
45
anorsich 5 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!
46
consultSKI 5 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.
47
tacostakohashi 5 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.

48
aidos 5 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!

49
posterboy 5 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.
50
laithshadeed 4 days 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.
51
chmike 5 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.
52
justicezyx 5 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this new person deserve a peer bonus by discovering a production risk?
53
kilroy123 5 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.

54
albertini_89 5 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.
55
jlebrech 5 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.
56
stevesun21 5 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.

57
jaunkst 5 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.
58
OOPMan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow. What a train wreck. This is why the documentation I write contains database URIs like:

USER@HOST:PORT/SCHEMA

59
feinstruktur 4 days ago 0 replies      
Should have job title changed to Junior Penetration Tester and be rewarded for exposing an outfit of highly questionable competence.
60
alexfi 5 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.
61
seattle_spring 5 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.
62
sandGorgon 5 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.
63
b33pr 4 days ago 0 replies      
So the company's fault. Embarrassing they tried to blame the new guy. So many things wrong with this.
64
Spooky23 5 days ago 0 replies      
Firing the guy seems drastic but understandable. Implying that they are going to take legal action against him is ridiculous!
65
knodi123 5 days ago 0 replies      
I was only granted read-only access to the Prod DB last week, after achieving 6 months of seniority.
66
Grazester 5 days ago 3 replies      
It was their fault, plain and simple.
14
Apple adds a tracker blocker to desktop Safari techcrunch.com
515 points by Allvitende  3 days ago   286 comments top 15
1
code4tee 3 days ago 5 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.
2
tannhaeuser 3 days ago 7 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.
3
ghughes 3 days ago 3 replies      
Here's the official blog post explaining the feature in depth: https://webkit.org/blog/7675/intelligent-tracking-prevention...
4
tptacek 3 days 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.
5
vim_wannabe 3 days 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?

6
frio80 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

7
theprop 3 days ago 2 replies      
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.

8
tyingq 3 days ago 6 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.
9
mmanfrin 3 days 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!'
10
floatboth 3 days 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).
11
Eric_WVGG 3 days 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.

12
webuser321 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is well-known that Apple uses Omniture (acquired by Adobe, aka SiteCatalyst, aka 2o7.net, etc.).

As in 192.168.0.2o7.net. 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.

13
flukus 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.

14
kgabis 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finally, I hope this becomes a common practice from other vendors as well.
15
hellofunk 3 days ago 6 replies      
It's unclear to me how these "trackers" work? How do they track you, is it cookies, or what?
15
WSJ Ends Google Users' Free Ride, Then Fades in Search Results bloomberg.com
464 points by mudil  3 days ago   381 comments top 4
1
leggomylibro 3 days ago 8 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.

2
Androider 3 days ago 14 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.
3
rory096 3 days ago 4 replies      
Note that the Twitter workaround still works:

https://t.co/2t073JIAWe

https://www.wsj.com/articles/british-police-identify-london-...

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

4
chollida1 3 days ago 4 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.

16
Visualize data instantly with machine learning in Google Sheets blog.google
506 points by pmcpinto  6 days ago   102 comments top 23
1
mbesto 6 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.

2
harshaw 6 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.

3
teej 6 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.

4
inthewoods 6 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).

5
wyck 6 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.

6
vgt 6 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)

7
taylorwc 6 days ago 3 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.
8
uberneo 6 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 ..
9
andrea_s 6 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)
10
pbreit 6 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.

https://developers.google.com/apps-script/reference/url-fetc...

11
darwhy 6 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?
12
froindt 6 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.

13
zitterbewegung 6 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.
14
f00_ 6 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

https://statsbot.co/slackhttps://medium.com/slack-developer-blog/bots-you-can-count-o...

15
gsvclass 6 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
16
blazespin 6 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.
17
sandGorgon 6 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 ?

18
shostack 6 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...
19
synaesthesisx 6 days ago 0 replies      
The next major of Tableau should be implementing NLP in similar fashion.
20
KaoruAoiShiho 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow amazing, when will this be available as a javascript library?
21
2_listerine_pls 6 days ago 0 replies      
still no tables. How hard is it?
22
p90puma 6 days ago 0 replies      
404 for me on the link.
23
mariogintili 6 days ago 1 reply      
how many corporate secretes will be leaked into this?
17
WebAssembly 101: A developers first steps openbloc.fr
564 points by blaze33  2 days ago   147 comments top 23
1
almostdigital 2 days ago 4 replies      
I recommend anyone wanting to experiment with WASM to check out https://github.com/dcodeIO/webassembly which takes a lot of pain out of setting up the toolchain and lets you produce much leaner binaries as well.

Also keep an eye on https://github.com/dcodeIO/AssemblyScript :)

2
AriaMinaei 2 days ago 4 replies      
I wonder how it would be, had capability-based system architectures taken off and become mainstream. I guess we wouldn't need WebAssembly to run untrusted code safely, because in such a system, all objects from whole programs to an object as small as the number 4 would be safe and sealed off from each other on a hardware level.

I'm reading Capability-Based Computer Systems [0] by Henry M. Levy (1984), motivated by wanting to learn about the Burroughs B5000 that Alan Kay has praised multiple times. I've only started to learn about these things and I don't understand the implications, but if I'm reading it correctly, such architectures would obviate the need for web-style safety measures such as process-sandboxing ala Chrome, shader sanitizing ala WebGL, etc, because everything in the system would be safe that way.

[0] https://books.google.de/books/about/Capability_Based_Compute...

More about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capability-based_security and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capability-based_addressing

3
jordigh 2 days ago 7 replies      
Remember when you could hit "View Source" to see how the web was built? I don't like where this is going. Minification was bad enough, now we're going to be getting more non-free blobs shoved into our browsers and this is being touted as a great new feature for us.

It will end up being a tool of control and surveillance like always.

This guy says it a bit more eloquently than I can:

https://lobste.rs/s/wjtu7c/webassembly_mozilla_won#c_yqsej7

4
ThePhysicist 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm trying to use asm.js to port Python to JS as a shared library, which would allow us to load and run arbitrary CPython modules (compiled for JS) in the browser. I generate code using emscripten, which is also able to generate WASM (which I'm not using at the moment though).

My experience so far:

Emscripten is quite mature and compiles even very complex C/C++ code without complaining. Statically linking code works fine, while dynamically loading shared libraries is still a bit problematic it seems.

Here's the Github project btw, help is very welcome:

https://github.com/adewes/cpython-emscripten

5
DamonHD 2 days ago 3 replies      
Nice!

With a BBC Micro (6502, 1MHz) I was able to achieve about the same FPS (I was genlocked for UK PAL TV transmission so either 25FPS or 50FPS) but only for a 40x25 grid, using 6502 assembler embedded in BASIC!

6
Cakez0r 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not very reassuring that two of the first steps are "copy and paste this stuff from stack overflow to make it work", without any explanation as to why it's needed.
7
johngruber 2 days ago 2 replies      
This can probably only be expected to get better and better. While JS engines are squeezing hard to get some extra performance, WASM is just beginning its life.

It'd be great if someone would make (when it's technological feasible) a way to integrate this natively in node, something like:

const wasm = require('wasm-native');

(async () => {

 const mymodule = await wasm('mymodule.c'); // use mymodule here
})();

8
mediocrejoker 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was disappointed that this doesn't really explain what webassembly is, and the link that says 'if you don't know what webassembly is, click here' just redirects to a tank game with no explanation.

I thought maybe it was some way to write x86 assembly in the browser, but apparently it's a tank game.

9
BenoitEssiambre 2 days ago 10 replies      
I wonder where the world is going with this. At first glance it looks like webassembly is a potential faster replacement for javascript in the browser. However, javascript is an increasingly popular language everywhere. I'm not sure people will want to move away from it for most development. The part that is actually causing performance problems with web application is the HTML/CSS/DOM layer which was not designed as a UI widget library but as a document rendering and styling framework.

Webassembly/Webgl standardization enables the creation high performance replacements for HTML/CSS/dom.

We might end up with applications that are still mostly written in javascript but that call into new webassembly/webgl ui frameworks for rendering instead of into the html/css/dom layer.

10
radarsat1 2 days ago 0 replies      
I actually went through all the steps of getting rustc and emscripten working, got it set up in Docker. It actually works, I was able to compile a rust program to wasm. But.. because emscripten uses a custom version of LLVM and clang, the image took up 25 GB of my harddrive! I just don't have that kind of space to leave it lying around, so I'll have to wait until they integrate into upstream I guess.

I might work a bit in Rust by itself and compile using emscripten later on the server, but kind of hard to do that if I want to access DOM/canvas/webGL, etc.

11
NiLSPACE 2 days ago 0 replies      
I also found this which I'd like to try out later today: https://github.com/anowell/quasar
12
drumttocs8 2 days ago 0 replies      
Will this eventually let us use jQuery and have it perform just as well as the latest framework? ;)
13
flavio81 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am very excited by this project, it opens up a lot of possibilities. Finally we can use our users' web browsers to the maximum potential, in the language of choice.

Consider: If a good javascript engine like V8 can go as far as being able to emulate hardware, how far can we go with something like webassembly?

All the power to Webassembly!

14
MichaelBurge 2 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like the spec is here:

https://webassembly.github.io/spec/introduction/index.html

I feel like writing a mini-compiler after glancing through it. It looks closer to a binary AST than an instruction set, though.

15
toni 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there any about:config flag in Firefox to disable WASM all together?
16
jlebrech 2 days ago 0 replies      
someone port cocoa or a xib library to webassembler or even xlib.
17
pmontra 2 days ago 3 replies      
I hope they add support for garbage collected languages soon. I don't feel like going back to work with malloc and free after 20 years.
18
_pmf_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why isn't the Emscripten SDK distributed via npm? Doesn't npm support host specific binary artifacts?
19
baq 2 days ago 0 replies      
i've seen one blogpost where the author tried and apparently successfully managed to run a QT app compiled to wasm. has anyone here tried that?
20
madrafi 2 days ago 2 replies      
So now I have to write C code ? XD
21
wcummings 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm sorta afraid of what people will do with wasm. I'm fairly sure 99% of web programmers won't need this but will use it to ship all kinds of stupid garbage that will inevitably wind up executing on some page I'm debugging.
22
analognoise 2 days ago 2 replies      
Near native performance - what a joke.
23
dennykane 2 days ago 0 replies      
You can play my favorite arcade game ever in a wasm gameboy emulator (credit goes to Ben Smith of Google: https://github.com/binji/binjgb) in a web-based OS I've been working on for 5 years. This is known to work in current Chrome and Firefox. Keyboard game controls: 'w'=up 'a'=left 's'=down 'd'=right '.'=A ','=B space=start enter=select. Also, standard (17 button, 4 axis) USB gamepads should "just work" via plug'n'play.

Go to this link to test it out:

https://linuxontheweb.org/desk?desk_init=bHMgL3B1YjtvcGVuIEF...

The argument in the URL is the base64 encoding of an initialization script that is being passed to the desktop environment. Going to the link in current Edge should just open the "Arcade" app, with nothing else happening.

You should be able to drag-n-drop ".gb" or ".nes" ROM game files from your native desktop right onto the Arcade app window, and it should just start playing. You can also just drop them onto the web desktop to save them there, then just double-click them when you want to play. That way, the file is kept in the site's local storage.

Learn more about how to use the web-based OS here:https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZkhPP7327fXcSsjD_lt67w

If anybody has wasm-capable Edge or Safari, let me know if you can play the game.

18
4D Toys: a box of four-dimensional toys marctenbosch.com
573 points by hcs  6 days ago   138 comments top 32
1
yathern 6 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?

2
chmod775 6 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.
3
js8 6 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.
4
hcs 6 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.
5
pmilla1606 6 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

6
zitterbewegung 6 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.
7
mihaifm 6 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.
8
tyingq 6 days ago 1 reply      
Reminded of this Carl Sagan video that I watched as a kid. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTL02N9EHzU
9
gmuslera 6 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.
10
drewolbrich 6 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.
11
rjeli 6 days ago 1 reply      
Love the idea! Unfortunately it's not compatible with iOS plus-sized screens :(
12
prbuckley 6 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...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland

13
gene-h 6 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.

[0]http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/acsnano.5b04181

14
dmix 6 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

15
nautilus12 6 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?
16
KeyboardFire 6 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.
17
Qantourisc 6 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.

18
drewrv 6 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-...

19
ghusbands 5 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)
20
JoeDaDude 5 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/

21
Benjamin_Dobell 6 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
23
wyager 6 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...

24
amelius 6 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if, after playing many hours with this game, the brain will suddenly "grasp" the concept of 4d.
25
aboodman 6 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.
26
throwaway135634 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised that Flatland[0] wasn't mentioned in this

[0]http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/201

27
moopling 6 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)
28
gyrgtyn 6 days ago 0 replies      
Might be useful for figuring out how to battle cthulu
29
Razengan 6 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?
30
bbcbasic 6 days ago 0 replies      
He's going to make some coin from this.
31
microcolonel 6 days ago 0 replies      
Why a box and not a hyperbox?
32
yev 6 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, it's so cool!
19
India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green nytimes.com
503 points by scdoshi  6 days ago   150 comments top 19
1
L_Rahman 6 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.

2
andrewwharton 6 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

3
pvsukale3 5 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? ;)
4
theprop 6 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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_by_countryhttp://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/12/02/india-solar-power-pl...

5
sandGorgon 5 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.

https://youtu.be/bW_eGAwnfeI

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!

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/870570686409920512

6
jpatokal 6 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...
7
xparadigm 6 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...
8
Pxtl 6 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.
9
xrange 6 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.

http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and...

10
Abishek_Muthian 5 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.

11
rustoo 5 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.

12
markaius 5 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.
13
jklinger410 5 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.
14
known 5 days ago 0 replies      
15
marze 6 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.
16
NicoJuicy 6 days ago 0 replies      
Renewable energy is all automated and mining is innovation and creates jobs. India proves this

/s

17
unsupak 5 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.
18
hueving 6 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.

19
robattila128 5 days ago 2 replies      
After watching this talk show with Alex Epstein I've realized the word 'green' is largely bs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw-1ohbRDrE

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.

20
Secret Dots from Printer Outed NSA Leaker erratasec.com
473 points by banku_brougham  2 days ago   211 comments top 21
1
NamTaf 2 days ago 6 replies      
The arrest warrant says nothing about printer dots, actually. It says that once they saw it was printed (per the Intercept showing them a copy to confirm its legitimacy) they simply looked at who'd printed the original document. Upon looking into the desk computers of those 6 people, she was the only person who'd had email contact with the Intercept.

They didn't even need the yellow dots. She literally emailed the Intercept from her work email and was one of a trivial number of people who'd printed it in the first place.

2
jacquesm 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is a really nice bit from TFA:

"FBI special agent Justin Garrick told a federal court that Winner a cross-fit fan who graduated high school in 2011 and was in the US Air Force apparently as a linguist confessed to reading and printing out the document, despite having no permission to do so. "

So, she joined the company 3 months prior, and it was 'permission' rather than enforced access rights that they relied on for new trainees not to color outside of the lines.

It's not about 'permission', it is all about 'capabilities'.

3
FatalLogic 2 days ago 1 reply      
According to the FBI arrest affidavit, only six people printed that document, and she emailed The Intercept from her own work computer.

So she would have been identified even if she or The Intercept had the sense to remove or alter the DocuColor dots.

"The U.S. Government Agency conducted an internal audit to determine who accessed the intelligence reporting since its publication. The U.S. Government Agency determined that six individuals printed this reporting. WINNER was one of these six individuals. A further audit of the six individuals' desk computers revealed that WINNER had e-mail contact with the News Outlet. The audit did not reveal that any of the other individuals had e-mail contact with the News Outlet"

4
gszathmari 2 days ago 1 reply      
I have submitted a PR to 'pdf-redact-tools' tonight. The new feature removes the yellow printer dots by converting the document to black and white: https://github.com/firstlookmedia/pdf-redact-tools/pull/23
5
e2e8 2 days ago 1 reply      
The arstechnica article[1] reports, based on the FBI document, that the NSA determined who leaked the info by finding creases in the documents provided to them for authentication by the Intercept demonstrating that they were leaked by being printed out.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/security/2017/06/leaked-nsa-report-s...

6
jagermo 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't get it. These kind of dots are not news, they have been around for ages, the EFF cracked the code in 2005 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printer_steganography)

Why did no one at the intercept check for them? Its trivial and they have to know about this kind of stuff?

7
Simulacra 2 days ago 3 replies      
"Yes, this code the government forces into our printers is a violation of our 3rd Amendment rights"

FYI: The 3rd Amendment reads as follows:

"No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

I don't see the connection. Why does this violate our 3rd amendment rights?

8
russdill 2 days ago 4 replies      
Or more accurately, the Intercept either though ineptitude or malice burned their source.
9
rl3 2 days ago 3 replies      
>To fix this yellow-dot problem, use a black-and-white printer, black-and-white scanner, or convert to black-and-white with an image editor.

I'm not convinced that would be sufficient, especially the latter option.

Also this is the NSA. If they're smart, they have backup fingerprinting that isn't publicly known.

10
yborg 2 days ago 2 replies      
So this is the "extraordinary law enforcement effort" Rosenstein referred to. Check printer logs, send FBI to leaker's house.

This will certainly make anybody thinking of leaking to the Intercept think twice.

11
Jonnax 2 days ago 1 reply      
With all the talk of scanning in black and white, photocopying, taking a photo with a camera or retyping as means to get around the printer dots.

Why not use OCR?

12
bsenftner 2 days ago 3 replies      
What did she reveal? That's what's important. Everything is focusing on how she was caught. Nice distraction.
13
rwmj 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can someone explain the reference to the Third Amendment at the end of the article? Looking on Wikipedia, the 3rd Amendment is something to do with quartering soldiers in private homes.
14
reacweb 2 days ago 3 replies      
For privacy purpose, we should have free (open source) printers.
15
mrb 2 days ago 0 replies      
I remember a HN thread years ago on these yellow dots watermarks, where an employee at a printer manufacturer said there was no indication this was ever used by law enforcement to track who printed what because, for one, the team who implemented the watermarking never documented or taught anyone how to decode these watermarks.

Well, here we are today with this NSA story.

I think it's possible that US-based printer manufacturers implemented watermarking on special request from the NSA. That would also explain why the printer manufacturer employees never needed to teach anyone how to decode them. It wasn't their specs in the first place.

16
rdtsc 2 days ago 0 replies      
As someone else pointed out already there is no evidence the dots were used. Only 6 people viewed the document and she was the one who printed it. Then they found logs of her emailing it from her work computer.
17
coldtea 2 days ago 0 replies      
Arresting the leaker is part of making this seem legit leaking?
18
bgribble 2 days ago 1 reply      
So there are definitely printer dots in the posted images, but how do we know they are from a printer at NSA? They could be from a printer at The Intercept, a public copy and print shop, or anywhere else, intentionally left in as a red herring.

Of course, as others have posted, she doesn't appear to have tried hard to cover her tracks at NSA so that doesn't seem too likely. But stating that she accidentally left in the printer dots is assuming several facts not in evidence.

19
danso 2 days ago 2 replies      
tl;dr: the dots may have exposed metadata of the printing, but from what we know officially, NSA's internal access control system was all that was needed to argue probable cause against Reality Winner.

So the dots don't look good in terms of The Intercept's opsec, but from what we know from the Justice Department's affidavit [0] and the search warrant [1], those dots were likely inconsequential as evidence compared to the audit trail that Winner left when she accessed and printed the file. It's not unreasonable to believe that the NSA and its contractors can track access activity by user, post-Snowden; I mean, it's a feature built into states' DMV systems, which is how cops get busted in the occasional scandal of unauthorized lookup of citizen info [2].

The warrant and affidavit allude to such a system when describing the audit that was done as soon as the NSA was made aware (because the Intercept reached out to them) that the document was out in the wild. At that point, it doesn't seem hard to query their own logs to find all users who accessed and/or printed out the document. Unfortunately for Winner, it seems that very few (1 in 6) NSA employees printed out the document, and I'm sure it didn't help that her background (former Air Force, fluent in several Middle Eastern languages) would indicate that her job did not require her to have a physical copy of this particular document.

The affidavit and warrant mention "physical" metadata that they say supports their case, but it's all circumstantial

1. The documents show evidence of creases/folding, which indicates that someone had to secret it out physically (i.e. they printed it first) from the NSA. But that folding/creasing could come from the reporters printing out their own copies of the document.

2. The affidavit says that of the 6 employees to have had printed out the document, Winner was the only one to have email contact with The intercept. But the warrant specifies that this email contact occurred using her private GMail address in March, and it was limited to 2 emails: her subscribing the The Intercept podcast, and a confirmation email. i.e. she didn't use email (that we know of) to talk to the Intercept.

There's no mention of the yellow dots, which, sure, we could argue that the NSA is just keeping that bit of tradecraft secret. But keep in mind that the NSA started their investigation last week, with the FBI interviewing Winner just a few days ago (on a Saturday no less).

The other key point is that, according to the warrant, the Intercept journalist sent along the leaked documents to a NSA source for confirmation using a smartphone, i.e. they texted smartphone photos of the documents. It seems possible that that kind of ad hoc scanning would make the yellow dots illegible, depending on how much care was taken to photograph the documents.

At any rate, it's kind of irrelevant. Assuming Winner used her own NSA credentials to peruse the system, the access control logs were all that were needed to out her as fast as the NSA and FBI were able to. However, it's worth noting that if the NSA had been clueless until the Intercept's published report, the actual published document apparently did reveal the yellow dots. This means that if even if Winner were one of many NSA employees to print out the documents, the yellow-dot timestamp would greatly help in narrowing the list of suspects.

So, it's wrong to say the Intercept outed her, because we don't know what would've happened in an alternative reality in which the NSA didn't start its investigation until after seeing the published report. It is OK, probably, to speculate that the Intercept was sloppy in handling the documents...but that's not what led to Winner being outed so quickly.

[0] https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/federal-government-contractor...

[1] http://blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/how-intercept-outed-realit...

[2] https://apnews.com/699236946e3140659fff8a2362e16f43/ap-acros...

20
basicplus2 2 days ago 3 replies      
Convert the white background to yellow
21
qq66 2 days ago 6 replies      
Something smells fishy here. How did the Intercept maintain enough opsec to stay in contact with Snowden (who would have dropped them like a hot potato if they didn't seem competent) and then do this, with the same general staff in place?
21
Jean Sammet, co-creator of COBOL, has died nytimes.com
428 points by andrewbinstock  4 days ago   105 comments top 20
1
StevePerkins 4 days 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.

2
maxharris 4 days 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.

3
EamonnMR 4 days ago 1 reply      
Her work on the History of Programming Languages conference is enlightening. Good reading if you can get a hold of it.

http://research.ihost.com/hopl/HOPL-I.html

4
nooyurrsdey 4 days 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

5
Pxtl 3 days 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.
6
atemerev 4 days ago 4 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.

7
rory096 4 days ago 0 replies      
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edtechdev 4 days 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.

9
smarks 4 days 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.
10
breck 4 days 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.
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cobol9999 1 day ago 0 replies      
Jean Sammet- Your contribution to Software Industry will always be remembered. I really love Cobol. We developers salute to you. RIP Sr. Vice President - IT https://www.globaliim.com/32-it-management-certificates/gene...www.sc-digital-engineering.com
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cobol999 1 day ago 0 replies      
Janet your contribution to Software Industry will always be remembered. I really love Cobol.We developers salute to you.RIPSr. Vice President - IT GIIMhttps://www.globaliim.com/32-it-management-certificates/gene...www.sc-digital-engineering.com
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ninjakeyboard 4 days ago 0 replies      
Black-bar worthy?
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killin_dan 4 days ago 0 replies      
No black bar? There's billions of lines of COBOL throughout the world. BILLIONS!
15
nthcolumn 4 days 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.
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stesch 4 days ago 0 replies      
DISPLAY SPACES UPON CRT.
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martincmartin 4 days ago 2 replies      
HN should have a black bar in honor of this.
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jxub 4 days 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.
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maxharris 4 days 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."

http://www.paulgraham.com/hundred.html

22
Comparing Bandwidth Costs of Amazon, Google and Microsoft Cloud Computing arador.com
451 points by xref  3 days ago   217 comments top 38
1
Lazare 3 days ago 5 replies      
Meh.

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.

2
mikiem 2 days ago 7 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.

3
mankash666 3 days 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.

4
Terretta 3 days 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.

5
shiftpgdn 3 days 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.

6
thebestman 3 days 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.

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desdiv 3 days 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

8
slackingoff2017 3 days 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.

9
benwilber0 3 days ago 1 reply      
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

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QUFB 3 days ago 0 replies      
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cobookman 3 days 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.
12
elevensies 3 days 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.

13
dddchk 3 days 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.
14
mrkurt 3 days 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.
15
deafcalculus 2 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect the high bandwidth price is a targeting tool and is primarily for repelling those wanting to host seed boxes, porn sites and the like. You can probably get a much better deal if you're paying > 10k$/mo.

Even then, cloud bandwidth is insanely expensive. For example, Hetzner offers 1.3$/TB (if you happen to exceed their generous 30 TB quota). In comparison, Amazon is 70x more expensive at 90$/TB.

16
llukas 3 days 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.

;)

17
mmalone 3 days 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.
18
havetocharge 3 days 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.
19
kev009 2 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW cost for a small biz at most major metro US facilities is closer to $1/mbit for a multi-carrier (which means generally multi-route and high quality with some caveats), and $0.20 if you do something like he.net. For higher volume customers you can easily cut both of those rates in half right now. And you can also participate on public peering switches for generally just a low setup fee at the best facilities.

AWS, GCE, azure seem like the platforms of yesteryear in all dimensions when compared to something like packet.net. I think these providers could be in a rock and a hard place due to the unsuitability of native Linux containers for secure multi-tenancy. This does leave a nice runway for Joyent as both a provider and software vendor for at least a little bit, but I think packet.net is really going to change the economy of infra.

20
nodesocket 3 days 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:

https://blog.elasticbyte.net/comparing-bandwidth-prices-and-...

21
geetfun 3 days 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.
22
radimm 2 days ago 0 replies      
As others have pointed out, this view is extremely short sighted.

To add to the mix - what if you need a multiple data-center deployment/replication? Both Amazon and Google will provide you a greatly discounted traffic there $0.02 / $0.01. And that's only start. You can easily migrate from one data center to another, with no or little cost attached to it (try that in colo).

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clhodapp 2 days 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.
24
sbov 2 days ago 0 replies      
This subject is never productive on HN because almost every reply argues with a certain use case in mind but people never actually outline that use case. Those who read your post and reply do so with their own use case in mind and obviously what that other person suggested is madness (in your scenario that you never actually verbalize). Ultimately no one learns anything because they all think everyone is in exactly the same scenario as they are. Or maybe they think their personal choice is a "silver bullet". Probably depends on the poster.

Then it all repeats next week.

25
kernelsanderz 2 days ago 0 replies      
I would imagine contention ratios would also factor into pricing. At least in Australia you might have a 8:1 ratio of actual bandwidth available for a consumer plan, and 3:1 for a business plan. I'd imagine that you pretty much get all the bandwidth you pay for in a data centre. I've certainly saturated 100mbps connections on servers in the past, 24x7. But perhaps people more knowledgeable than me could comment on this?
26
abalone 2 days 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".

27
Arador 2 days 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
28
bkruse 3 days 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."

29
Dylan16807 3 days 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.

30
FLUX-YOU 3 days ago 0 replies      
New fun:

Take credit card churning and apply it to cloud data. Build tools to seamlessly move apps between cloud providers.

31
venning 3 days 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/

32
throwaway-1209 2 days ago 1 reply      
Amazing to see the number of people who try hard to justify this blatant rip off pricing. This is coming from the same group of people who complain endlessly about the cost of wireless data and telco data caps.
33
m-j-fox 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Google Fiber for Business

Maybe worth renting an office in Provo just to get the deal.

34
zero_intp 2 days ago 0 replies      
As an ISP architect, I think you overlook a great many cost centers in your apples-to-doughnuts explanation.
35
bitmapbrother 3 days ago 0 replies      
Did he factor in latency? if you want to ride in first class you have to pay more.
36
zengid 2 days ago 0 replies      
So is Lightsail really worth jumping into?
37
sdenton4 3 days ago 0 replies      
Houses are such a rip-off! Just look how much more expensive they are than a pile of wood!
38
cagenut 3 days 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.
23
Uber Fires More Than 20 Employees in Harassment Probe bloomberg.com
394 points by umeshunni  2 days ago   265 comments top 15
1
ThrustVectoring 2 days ago 7 replies      
The article doesn't discuss the seniority of the fired employees. It's very hard to distinguish between scapegoating and actually working to fix the problem without that information.

The problem with Uber isn't that some employees engage in sexual harassment. The problem is that there's a culture where sexual harassment isn't taken seriously, is tolerated if the perpetrators are "high performing" in other respects, and there's common knowledge that being "high performing" covers all sorts of other ills. No amount of firing of the low-level scum that grows in this environment will fix this issue.

2
djsumdog 2 days ago 5 replies      
Feels somewhat symbolic at this point. The massively corrupt shop decides to fire a bunch of people who max out the acceptable level of corruption.

Even how they hired Holder feels like a PR tactic; a man who was against all the US torture techniques (http://fightthefuture.org/articles/the-rescue-of-eric-holder...) and yet prosecuted no one. He is the image of a career, PR frontman.

I'm still going to take Lyft over Uber in cities that have it, and that's only if I simply can't wait for the bus.

3
hueving 2 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder if events like this turn Uber employees who leave around this time into a market of lemons. Obviously nobody will put on their resume that they were fired for sexual harassment so hiring managers will have to wonder if a person who left Uber recently was fed up or fired.

Seems risky to hire a recent Uber employee at this point because bringing a toxic sexist into the company can inflict massive damage.

4
ramshanker 2 days ago 5 replies      
Does it make having "Uber" in your Career Profile look bad now?

Even if someone wants to genuinely switch job within next few month out of Uber, It would raise eyebrows at next interview table. So Uber gonna have very mall attrition rate now. Every action has both side of coin. :)

5
ProfessorLayton 2 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting how this contrasts with what Uber's new HR head said 2.5 weeks ago:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/05/25/ubers-bi...

Its also great to see that no company is too big to be raked over the coals over workplace sexual harassment.

6
timbuckley 2 days ago 1 reply      
I guess other companies should be wary of persons who leave Uber in the past few weeks or so.
7
graphememes 1 day ago 4 replies      
Controversial opinion here...

Why are the vocal hacker news commenters against segregated groups? For instance, what would be the issue with places that have selective hiring for individuals that meet their cultural composition and why does that bother you specifically?

Isn't that the case in every location?

In this case, there was harassment, however generally it is understood that "birds of a feather flock together" so wouldn't it make sense to simply find your flock rather than trying to force yourself to mold to someone else's?

I am genuinely curious about this as it seems to be a rising trend where the vocal minority want to enforce their idea of culture and beliefs onto others as if it were a religious or cult like movement that I have seen before in Christian groups.

8
bgun 2 days ago 1 reply      
The article contains so little information (that isn't already revealed in the nicely succinct headline) that clicking through is almost certainly not worth your time.
9
ChuckMcM 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if this helps encourage the senior leadership of other companies that have issues with harrasment not being punished to step up and discipline the harrassers.
10
jlebrech 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not detracting from the real sexual harassment that occurred but looking for naughty people to fire is one of the first steps before redundancies. All it takes is for the IT department to scour the exchange server for ignored or rejected emails asking a female colleague if she wants a coffee, and making them the cost free fires.
11
jlg23 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can we please live in a time where this is not news but common sense?
12
pyronik 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are we really at the point in society if someone asks a coworker out on a date its sexual harassment? I imagine the answer to that is whether she said yes or not. Rule #1 ... be attractive.
13
belovedeagle 2 days ago 1 reply      
14
rwmj 2 days ago 9 replies      
12,000 employees in Uber? (I'm assuming that doesn't include the drivers). What do they do all day?
15
randyrand 2 days ago 8 replies      
I just want to say, for every person in disgust of Uber and their sexual harassment scenario, there are many more of us that just don't care.

Of course, most that don't care don't comment. So the comment section is not a good view of public opinion. Just the vocal minority.

24
In 1957, Five Men Agreed to Stand Under an Exploding Nuclear Bomb (2012) npr.org
490 points by sjcsjc  1 day ago   199 comments top 26
1
nylonstrung 1 day ago 11 replies      
Both my paternal grandparents were some of the downwinders in Utah it alludes to. They were exposed to fallout from around 200 atmospheric nuclear tests, the vast majority of which were far more powerful than Fat Man and Little Boy. That is an amount of radiation many orders of magnitude greater than Fukushima. I've researched it extensively and am convinced it is genuinely one of the darkest and most disturbing parts of US 20th Century history and one that remains glossed over to this day

The Atomic Energy Commission had plenty of evidence to believe that the fallout would be harmful to anyone downwind yet reassured the local populations that it was actually healthy due to "hormesis" and encouraged them to watch the detonations and drink contaminated milk while they themselves wore protective gear and followed proper protocol. There were several proposed test sites that would have sent the fallout relatively harmlessly into the Atlantic yet they chose one in an extremely dusty area upwind of population centers which were almost entirely Native Americans and Mormons. At best it was a blatant disregard for human life that prioritized the budget of the AEC over minimizing harm to innocent people and at worst it was an intentional case of unethical human experimentation. It certainly was when they forced infantry to march through mushroom clouds without any decontamination or protective gear.

As for my grandparents, one lost his stomach and gallbladder and went from a muscular ~200 lb outdoorsman to a 90lb skeleton dependent on a feeding tube. Our grandmother died unexpectedly from a horrific variety of lung cancer 10 years later. He lived another 10 years in absolute misery. There are thousands of stories like these in Utah, many of them even more tragic. Despite their oncologists testifying that it was essentially impossible for their cancers to have been caused by anything other than nuclear weapons exposure, neither received the paltry $50,000 compensation because of bureaucratic technicalities.

2
sillysaurus3 1 day ago 7 replies      
Here's a little mystery for HN. Have you seen the fictional BBCsegment someone produced about an escalating conflict between Russiaand NATO?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VZ3LGfSMhA

It made the rounds on HN a couple months ago:https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14101405

It's the only piece of fiction that has made me feel deathly ill inquite the same way Threads did.

The video is incredible. It's one of the best pieces of realisticfiction I've ever seen.

But how was it made? Who made it? And why? I counted at least 10professional-quality actors with convincing, in-character costumes.See this timestamp: https://youtu.be/2VZ3LGfSMhA?t=1053

The uploader of the video is "Ben Marking", only 8k subscribers, andno online presence. They left a comment:http://i.imgur.com/MJVh31d.png Other than that, no one's takingcredit.

So why make it? It's wonderful art, but is there anything more to it?

Whoever's behind this has also uploaded nine revisions since lastyear: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA9r2NNlWMitk1hhR7yj8SA/vid...including a Canadian and Australian version.

3
epalmer 1 day ago 4 replies      
My dad witnessed one of the Bikini Atoll nuclear bomb tests and was on the Atoll 24 hours later measuring background radiation. He never got cancer and lived till he was 83 and died of old age with his organs just shutting down. He was almost never sick. Many of the people that were with him died early of cancer. I hope I have some of his gene pool protection.

He also worked on the Manhattan project. He really never wanted to talk about either experience other than the days when he was assigned to the Manhattan project but before then got to Oakridge Tenn. He had some funny stories to tell about being stationed in NYC before transport to Tenn.

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

4
eunoia 1 day ago 5 replies      
Somewhat on topic, but in Colorado we have 6 of the original Titan I nuclear complexes. Abandoned since 1965, each complex has probably a mile of tunnels, huge underground rooms and 3 massive silos. They're absolutely fascinating to explore.

Some random photos from the last time we went in to one.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLysXzHjG58/?taken-by=hamonacob

https://www.instagram.com/p/BK3fsXFjwE6/?taken-by=hamonacob

https://www.instagram.com/p/BCqaiG-KHGF/?taken-by=hamonacob

Happy to answer any questions for the curious.

5
yourapostasy 1 day ago 4 replies      
Especially informative was the side comment on what an atomic bomb really sounds like to those on the ground observing from a distance. Forget the media representations (shocker, right?). The all-encompassing, blinding light of the sun part in fictional portrayals is mostly realistic. The sound however, is completely different, and I've never heard a fictional one like it [1], with its higher-toned sharp bang preceding the growling aftermath that is also higher-toned than I expected based upon conditioned memory from entertainment media.

It's like most entertainment media portrayals of drowning: not useful, not actionable, not educational, and not informative; would be more enriching if the entertainment industry reversed that predilection.

[1] https://youtu.be/U_nLNcEbIC8?t=141

6
mabbo 1 day ago 4 replies      
> It was shot by the U.S. Air Force ... to demonstrate the relative safety of a low-grade nuclear exchange in the atmosphere.

> the U.S. government has paid some $813 million to more than 16,000 "downwinders" to compensate them for illnesses presumably connected to the bomb testing program.

I can only hope that the lessons learned from these programs are still remembered today, as the POTUS talks about resuming building nuclear weapons.

7
advisedwang 1 day ago 3 replies      
This was around the time that the US started to put Nuclear warheads on anti-balistic missile systems. Nike Hercules would have used high-altitude low-yield nuclear blasts within 100 miles of US cities to stop incoming ICBMs.

My guess is that this is what the author is referring to when he says "Air Force wanted to reassure people that it was OK to use atomic weapons to counter similar weapons being developed in Russia."

8
angrygoat 1 day ago 1 reply      
> "Quite a few have died from cancer," he told reporter Bill Broad. "No doubt it was related to the testing."

Here in Australia, veterans of nuclear testing only just received access to the 'Gold Card' which covers all healthcare costs. Of course, many of those exposed have now died.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/story-streams/federal-budget-2017...

The people in the photo might have known what they were signing up for, and an idea of the risk, but many service people had no idea at all.

9
fnordfnordfnord 1 day ago 1 reply      
Notably, the cameraman did not volunteer for the job.

This article from 2010 was linked in the OP: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14atom.html?pagewa...

10
Dove 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I realized only recently the degree and specificity to which this scenario forms the backstory to the classic arcade game Missile Command.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJA5YjvHDU

11
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 0 replies      
As the article points out, much of the fallout from the nuclear tests headed south and east over Utah and St. George Utah in particular. There has been a number of research studies on the population there. What is less well known is that these studies, and some longitudinal studies of Japanese survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs are nearly all of the data sets available for understanding the effects of environmental nuclear exposure on humans.
12
jessriedel 1 day ago 1 reply      
FYI: The article mentions that this weapon had a 2 kiloton yield. This is to be compared to the 15-20 kiloton yields of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and modern thermonuclear warheads which typically have maximum yields in the 300-500 kiloton range.
13
Simulacra 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a fascinating book called "How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb" [1] that delves into exactly how they made all of those photos, and movies. It's really not as simple as one might think.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Photograph-Atomic-Bomb-Peter-Kuran/dp...

15
jdcarr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Radiolab had a great episode about nuclear weapons in the US.

At the ~51:26 mark of the episode http://www.wnyc.org/radio/#/747788 there's a great description of what the explosion of a hydrogen bomb was like.

16
atemerev 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'd volunteered. People make larger risks with paragliding or mountain climbing, but there at least was a chance to make history.
17
jshmrsn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was just reading about the Genie a few days ago, funny to see it on HN.

Unguided air-to-air missile with a nuclear warhead. A great icon for era it came from.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIR-2_Genie

18
hagakure0c 1 day ago 0 replies      
Same kind of people playing around with weaponized AI today, what could possibly go wrong.
19
fokinsean 1 day ago 0 replies      
On a related note, here is a time lapse of all the nuclear detonations since 1945.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLCF7vPanrY

20
thatwebdude 1 day ago 0 replies      
Guy in middle with sunglasses had the right idea.

I'd really like to know how dark they were though, he didn't even flinch at that flash.

21
LordKano 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is fantastic. I can only imagine the kind of courage it would have taken to volunteer for this 60 years ago.
22
krath94 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would an actual detonation happen at that height? If so, how does it actually kill other than radiation?
23
ianai 1 day ago 1 reply      
It was a starkly different time back then.
24
dredmorbius 1 day ago 0 replies      
Ground Zero, population six.

More on the cameraman, civillian photographer Akira "George" Yoshitake. On the test footage shown: "he was not aware of what his assignment would entail, until arriving at the test center that day."

An interview:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/george-yoshitake-nu...

His obituary, 2013.

http://lompocrecord.com/lifestyles/announcements/obituaries/...

George died in Santa Barbara. From his name, it's evident that he's of Japanese ancestry. As the obit states, his family were interned along with other West Coast American citizens of Japanese descent, during World War II.

25
musgrove 1 day ago 0 replies      
The first 5 inductees into the Darwin Awards?
26
25
iOS 11 Location Privacy: "Only While Using" is now always an option for users twitter.com
456 points by runesoerensen  2 days ago   177 comments top 17
1
DavideNL 1 day ago 6 replies      
I really like Apples pro-privacy stance, in contrary to Google & Microsoft.

Hopefully sometime soon Apple will also encrypt iCloud contents so data from non-american people (europe in my case) is protected against the US government prying eyes.

Our data/privacy seems pretty well protected inside Europe, but in America we seem to have 0 privacy rights (America first...!)

2
659087 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm leaning towards picking up an iPhone next, just to show some support for the solid pro-privacy stance Apple has taken in recent times. Uber isn't going to be happy with this at all, and that's a great thing.
3
gigatexal 2 days ago 7 replies      
Fantastic. Screw Uber for only having the option to always use or never use.
4
dingo_bat 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is amazing. I hope Google takes a lesson from this for Android o. I manually deny location permission to uber after every ride.
5
winteriscoming 2 days ago 3 replies      
I like all the new things coming in iOS11, including this. I recently got my first iPhone and it's on iOS10. Do users like me get to upgrade just the OS on the same handset when they release iOS11? I haven't found the answer to this on some of the apple articles I have browsed.
6
micheljansen 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great. There are a lot of apps that are a hassle to use, because I have to enable/disable their location access before/after using them to protect my privacy and battery. Looking at you Waze et al.
7
runesoerensen 2 days ago 2 replies      
Relevant HN discussion for context https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13085098

Related screenshots:

* Uber requesting location access: https://twitter.com/joeduvall4/status/872007928844345344

* Apps using background location now displayed more prominently: https://twitter.com/ow/status/872145515386982400

8
apexalpha 1 day ago 2 replies      
I hope this comes to Android. I always thought it worked like this until someone showed me: https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?pb

I see way more locations and rides than I actually navigated to with Maps. For most of the time, it is just installed.

I now manually disable all location services.

9
breatheoften 1 day ago 1 reply      
Yay! I almost always use lyft now because Uber only allowed the "always on/never" location options. Occasionally I'd be somewhere where Uber was the only option and it was annoying to go into location services and manually perform what should be a system function ...
10
HugThem 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wish there was a way to make apps only able to do anything when I use them and nothing when I don't use them.
11
yakult 1 day ago 4 replies      
Do apps still have access to location history data? If so this is a nothingburger.
12
NietTim 1 day ago 0 replies      
Awesome! I never ever turn on location, but this one app requires it, and there is no way to set it to 'only while using', got annoyed and now I toggle it, not ideal. This is great.
13
ksk 1 day ago 1 reply      
While this is an awesome feature, they're also going to start disabling 32bit apps that I paid for, and use regularly. Damn!
14
crsmith 1 day ago 2 replies      
To users, will this affect location-based actions? (Like Google Inbox delivering an email upon arrival to a location.)
15
rem1313 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes, finally!! Can't wait for the final version
16
deagle50 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice, I might start using Uber again.
17
hprotagonist 1 day ago 0 replies      
i bet uber is _thrilled_.
26
Ask HN: Books you wish you had read earlier?
607 points by jmstfv  5 days ago   266 comments top 106
1
smaddox 5 days ago 2 replies      
Non-Fiction:

"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.

Fiction:

"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.

2
Houshalter 4 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.

3
nindalf 5 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.

4
cocktailpeanuts 5 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.

5
kristiandupont 5 days ago 0 replies      
<meta>

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.

</meta>

6
gkya 4 days 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.

7
vizvamitra 5 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)

8
gmunu 4 days 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.

9
tripu 10 hours ago 1 reply      
On Liberty (John Stuart Mill) for political enlightenment and an impeccable defence of [classical!] liberalism. It's packed with simple but enormously powerful ideas that are also timeless, thus applicable today and to so many aspects of life.

Don Quixote (Cervantes): unanimously considered the best work of fiction in the Spanish-speaking world and on many lists, even #1 of world literature, ever (!). Often overlooked (at least in Spain) by young folks as it is long, the language is archaic, and its themes appear quaint and silly today at first sight. But there's a reason it has been praised for centuries. It's funny and tender. Themes are also modern, and Cervantes' style is playful and innovative, making use of devices such as meta-references, alternative pasts, removal of the fourth wall, etc. I'm not sure how much non-native audiences can enjoy translations, though.

The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) for the original epic and touching fantasy. (I know many people devour it in their teens, or in their early youth But I read it as an adult; quite late. Mainly because it seemed to be the only difficult book that many of my friends bothered to read, and that predisposed me negatively towards it. Also, my family hadn't read it, and there was no copy of it in our house.)

Brief History of Time (Stephen Hawking): mind-boggling introduction to (astro-)physics, modern cosmogony, etc.

10
SirLJ 5 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/...

11
tudorw 4 days 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.
12
bor0 5 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.
13
abalashov 4 days 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:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2UKHDY7L4NPSV/re...

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.

14
beagle3 5 days ago 2 replies      
Philosophy/Psychology:

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)?

Fiction:

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.

15
faragon 5 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)

16
CamperBob2 5 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.

17
chegra 4 days 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:

http://www.chestergrant.com/26-highlights-from-mini-habits-b...

18
chadcmulligan 5 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.

19
mindcrime 5 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.

20
lowpro 5 days ago 1 reply      
Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, especially good if you're feeling down or disallusioned.
21
williamstein 5 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.
22
nscalf 5 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.

23
huac 4 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.
24
zem 5 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.
26
WillPostForFood 5 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!

https://gettingreal.37signals.com/

http://sarabander.github.io/sicp/

27
JSeymourATL 3 days 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...

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tjalfi 5 days ago 2 replies      
Autobiography/Memoirs:

 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
Fiction:

 The Master and Margarita - Mikhail Bulgakov
Technical:

 Bulldog: A Compiler for VLIW Architectures - John Ellis

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paraschopra 4 days 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.

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satwikhebbar 4 days 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.
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kabdib 4 days 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).

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queeerkopf 4 days 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.

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Joeri 4 days 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.

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tmaly 5 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.

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henrik_w 5 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.
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adekok 5 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

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dinosaurs 4 days 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.

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rwieruch 5 days ago 1 reply      
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alexilliamson 4 days 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.

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widowlark 5 days ago 1 reply      
Metamagical Themas by Douglas Hofstadter. This book has taught me more about thinking differently than any other.
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nihonde 4 days 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.
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joeclark77 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Shop Class as Soulcraft", by Matthew Crawford

It discusses the intrinsic characteristics of work that lead to satisfaction, growth, mastery, and ultimately happiness. The author is a PhD, worked at a think tank, and quit the white-collar life to go work on motorcycles. He discusses how white-collar work has been hollowed out, transforming "professionals" into "clerks", why so many of us "knowledge workers" feel unsatisfied with our work. The book has helped me figure out how to change my work to be more intrinsically rewarding, and as an IT developer whose technology affects other people's work, it also helps me think more about how to make the end user's life better.

Another great book along these lines is Joanne Ciulla's (2000) "The Working Life", which is a bit more academic and has less motorcycles but is nevertheless very readable.

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Schwolop 3 days 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.

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ssohi 5 days ago 1 reply      
Fooled By Randomness & The Black Swan by Taleb
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tedmiston 5 days ago 1 reply      
A popular recommendation here, but Getting Things Done by David Allen.
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davidgh 4 days 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.

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edpichler 5 days ago 0 replies      
On the shortness of life, by Seneca.
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ebcode 4 days 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.
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ozovehe 5 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.
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architek1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nature of Order Volumes 1-4, Christoper Alexander. <30 yrs old, as I believe I would be able to understand the organization of life and how to make better art. Even though I'm only on volume 1, as soon as I started it I wish I would've read this sooner.

I would add more but I think these volumes will keep you busy for awhile ;)

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lorenzorhoades 3 days 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
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galfarragem 4 days ago 1 reply      
The book that I should have read (and re-read) earlier:

No more Mr. Nice Guy -- Robert Glover

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miqkt 4 days 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.

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perfmode 5 days ago 1 reply      
A People's History of the United States
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habosa 3 days 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.

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jxub 5 days ago 0 replies      
Think and Grow Rich. Amazing, though maybe simplistic, insights.
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gingerjoos 3 days 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.)

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Razengan 4 days 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

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xparadigm 5 days ago 0 replies      
A Short History of Nearly Everything -- Bill Bryson
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real-hacker 4 days 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.

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xaedes 4 days 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).

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CodyReichert 5 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.

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arjmandi 3 days ago 1 reply      
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.

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deepnet 4 days 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...

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balladeer 4 days 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.

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d0mine 4 days 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.

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vecter 5 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

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Lordarminius 4 days ago 0 replies      
A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
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Amogha_IO 5 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!

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feignix 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fiction:

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.

Non-fiction:

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.

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pombrand 3 days 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.
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rachkovsky 4 days 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.
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ankitank 5 days ago 1 reply      
A wild sheep chase by Haruki Murakami
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novalis78 4 days 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.
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shivrajrath 4 days 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?

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wowsig 4 days 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-...

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peternicky 4 days 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

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pmoriarty 5 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.
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ThomPete 4 days 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.

80
pedrodelfino 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hackers and Painters from Paul Graham. I wish I had read that when I was 14 years old.
81
BJanecke 4 days ago 0 replies      
Software

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)

82
mattbettinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
The power of now changed my life. Hard to describe without sounding hokey
83
Anand_S 3 days 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
84
Entangled 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Anatomy of the State" by Murray Rothbard.

We live in a world of thieves masqueraded as leaders.

85
mbrodersen 3 days 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.
86
CamTin 4 days 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.
87
wdr1 4 days ago 0 replies      
A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Helped me understand investing.
88
imsodrunklol 3 days 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.

89
razzaj 4 days 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

90
du_bing 4 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.
91
egonschiele 4 days 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.
92
makeset 5 days ago 1 reply      
Code Complete by Steve McConnell https://www.amazon.com/dp/0735619670
93
palerdot 3 days 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.

94
febin 5 days ago 2 replies      
The Holy Bible

Start With Why

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Think Like a Freak

SmartCuts

95
cmmn_nighthawk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Metaprogramming Ruby by Paolo Perrotta
96
gtirloni 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Denial of Death (Ernest Becker)
97
jinxedID 5 days ago 0 replies      
The Effective Executive.My company did not prepare me very well for being a team lead.
98
zabana 4 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty much everything ever written by William Gibson should do.
99
ctdavies 4 days ago 0 replies      
Das Kapital. You know why.
100
BevanR 5 days ago 1 reply      
The lean startup. How to win friends and influence people.
101
akulbe 4 days 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)

102
johnsmith21006 4 days ago 0 replies      
The Goal and then the Phoenix project.
103
booleandilemma 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand.
104
bonhasgone 4 days ago 0 replies      
The compound effect - Darren Hardy.
105
zedshaw 4 days ago 2 replies      
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.

106
rom16384 5 days ago 1 reply      
The bible
27
Manualslib Database of More Than 2.6M Manuals manualslib.com
416 points by dabber  3 days ago   64 comments top 18
1
ryandrake 3 days 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.

2
Mister_Snuggles 3 days 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/

3
devrandomguy 3 days 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?

4
mynegation 3 days 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.

5
vesinisa 3 days 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.

6
disconnected 3 days 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.

7
skrebbel 3 days 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 :-)

8
xbryanx 3 days 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?

9
peterburkimsher 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can see some in French and Spanish. Is there a way to sort by language? I think this would be a good data source of bilingual text for my Chinese translator app.
10
armstrong 2 days ago 0 replies      
https://manualsbrain.com/ looks better. What do you think guys?
11
gesman 3 days 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.

12
theklub 3 days 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.
13
banku_brougham 3 days 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?

14
arjie 3 days 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.

15
zmix 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just checked, whether I can find a service manual for my SONY BDVN-7100WB, but only user guides, nothing for technicians. :-(
16
armstrong 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's perfect!
17
pawanpe 3 days ago 0 replies      
good job!
18
bungie4 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bookmarked!
28
A list of practical projects that anyone can solve in any programming language github.com
472 points by emersonrsantos  4 days ago   57 comments top 18
1
eridius 4 days ago 5 replies      
My go-to for this sort of thing has always been Project Euler (https://projecteuler.net/).
2
gruez 4 days 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").

3
karangoeluw 3 days 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. ;)

4
thearn4 4 days 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.

5
lanna 4 days 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

7
madsbuch 4 days 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.
8
slaymaker1907 4 days 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.
9
ghubbard 3 days 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.

10
djaychela 4 days 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).
11
bloaf 3 days 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.
12
rtpg 4 days 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).

13
cylinder714 2 days ago 0 replies      
Exercises for Programmers:57 Challenges to Develop Your Coding Skills by Brian P. Hogan

https://pragprog.com/book/bhwb/exercises-for-programmers

14
megamindbrian 3 days ago 0 replies      
How do you feel about actually solving them in any language and then documenting the solution?https://github.com/megamindbrian/jupytangular
15
bonoetmalo 3 days ago 0 replies      
I really like Rosetta Code esque projects. Rosetta Code has been somewhat abandoned as of late recently though.
16
mekicha 4 days 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.
17
jnbiche 4 days ago 5 replies      
Any other lists of projects like this?
18
grimmfang 4 days ago 1 reply      
Should one consider them self skilled if they can complete all of these projects with some amount of ease?
29
Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical-Thinking Skills wsj.com
391 points by guildwriter  2 days ago   310 comments top 23
1
jseliger 2 days ago 13 replies      
I've taught college. This study is wildly unsurprising. I've written about this in various places (e.g. https://jakeseliger.com/2014/04/27/paying-for-the-party-eliz...), but most colleges have evolved majors and paths that are designed to move students through the system, collect their tuition money, and graduate them.

In re-reading the previous sentence, I think I sound opposed to this. I am a little bit, maybe, but mostly I'm opposed to the way no one explicitly tells this to students. A lot of the brighter or better prepared ones figure it out, but many, it seems, never do.

2
danielford 2 days ago 4 replies      
I teach community college biology, and I agree that we're really bad at teaching critical thinking. But the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) cited by this article was graded by a computer last time I checked. Here's a direct quote from one of their papers a few years ago:

"Beginning in fall 2010, we moved to automated scoring exclusively, using Pearsons Intelligent Essay Assessor (IEA). IEA is the automated scoring engine developed by Pearson Knowledge Technologies to evaluate the meaning of text, not just writing mechanics. Pearson has trained IEA for the CLA using real CLA responses and scores to ensure its consistency with scores generated by human raters."

Link below:https://www.pdf-archive.com/2017/06/06/cla/cla.pdf

Most of you are more knowledgeable about technology than I am. So I'll leave it to you to decide if using an algorithm to grade an essay-based exam of critical thinking is a valid approach to this problem.

3
davidf18 2 days ago 7 replies      
Why wait for college to teach critical thinking skills? My father is a prof at a major university and we grew up discussing ideas, but high schools can teach critical thinking skills and problem solving. My high school was owned by the university and we did a lot of critical thinking.

Jewish religious schools (Yeshivas) teach critical thinking skills by studying the Talmud [1]. A number of Yeshiva students take the LSATs and skip college altogether to go directly to law school so powerful is the process of learning Talmud.

Basically Talmud is full of (often) legal arguments and stories and a lot of time is spent on thinking through/arguing edge conditions (e.g., a piece of property is found overlapping public space and private space).

The point is that college is absolutely not necessary to teach critical thinking skills and in my opinion this should be started at a much younger age.

Incidentally, I have found even graduates of Ivy League schools seem to not understand basic fundamentals. For example, in Economics, they don't seem to understand why housing is so expensive in certain cities and don't seem to have the analytical skills to understand why prices are high.

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

4
Nickersf 2 days ago 3 replies      
Every time a college sucks article gets published I think the same things:

Look at the college enrollment rates since the 1960's.Look at the tuition rates since the 1960'sLook at the distribution of majors since the 1960's

Then precede to look at the labor market. It all becomes very clear. There's millions of great young people roaming the halls of colleges who are not engaged in higher learning. Great young people who would develop critical thinking skills from work, family and good on the job training.

Many of these young people are told from an early age that college is a must in order to get anywhere. Whether that's true, I can't answer with confidence. I waited to go to college. After high school I decided to work, pay bills and taxes. In my late 20's I went back for a CS degree and am productive and happy now. Had I gone right out of high school I would have wasted a lot of time and money.

Is there even a solution to this issue outside of the family? Is the focus and quality of k-12 in the wrong place? Is it a mixture? Who knows?

5
Fricken 2 days ago 4 replies      
The problem isn't critical thinking skills. You can get together any 5 jokers and ask them 'what's the best way to build a backyard patio?', and they'll all start stroking their chins. But when thinking critically interferes with some sort of strong emotion, or pre-conceived belief system, then forget it. It doesn't matter how much education you have, if entertaining a particular problem causes your amygdala to start firing then your ability to think critically is out the window.
6
ThomPete 2 days ago 5 replies      
Critical thinking is an important skill but I'd like to caution against this fixation on critical thinking thought in collage as some sort of beacon for society.

Critical thinking is something people develop over the years and it starts early IMO. It's not just a 4 year course. It's a whole approach to the world around you. There are many critical thinkers in my experience outside of collage. And I don't see it a problem as such.

Also it doesn't matter how good a critical thinker you are we all have blind spots and biases that makes it impossible to be critical thinkers in all contexts. Will need to look at the study to see how it's actually measuring the critical thinking skills.

Many of those who do learn critical thinking first when they get to college end up getting such a aha moment that they think critical thinking is the same as constructive thinking and should be applied to everything.

You often meet them in the big companies or management. Many of them like to play the devils advocate poking holes in everything around them but aren't able to come up with solutions themselves.

In my view critical thinking is best learned by reading philosophy and seeing how philosophers historically either improved or created new theories. Because here critical thinking and constructive thinking goes hand in hand. If you read the right progression of philosophers through time you end up understanding how they didn't just critique but put forward their theories which could then be critiqued.

In my view critical thinking without constructive thinking is as big a problem as no critical thinking.

7
ergothus 2 days ago 3 replies      
I remember the moment I unlocked the critical thinking I do have.

It was 7th grade, and I was in a home-ec-like class. The day before we had learned how to order from mail order catalogues (showing my age there). This day the teacher passed out magazines, told us to pick an ad, and then find 5 ways it was misleading.

Easy, right? Sex, money, Fame, these associations are in a bunch of ads, and everyone knows about them. But it turns out that 5 is a pretty high number for some ads. You had to really look. And even that didn't change anything for me.

Then we presented to others. And one girl showed an ad for Bayer, and said "4 out of 5 doctors recommend. Who picked the 5 doctors?".

My mind was blown. I think it was the moment where I considered myself a good judge and then was shown a point I had never even considered. I had thought all about having careful wording on the survey, not mentioning any negative results, but I had never considered that the very basis of it could be manipulated to the point of meaninglessness.

I think that moment of fundamental distrust, in both what I'm being told, as well as in my own certainty, did the trick.

Perhaps too well - I'm hypersensitive to being manipulated. I rejected any career that involved deliberate group manipulation, such as military, law enforcement, and legal. I recognize that EVERYTHING is manipulative to some degree and can't be avoided, but I try to avoid anything that does it very explicitly, so I can't for example, watch most documentaries. The moment the vocal pacing and background music starts something in my brains starts shouting "YOU ARE BEING MANIPULATED!" and I try to fight that manipulation, which is largely impossible so I generally end up turning it off. Ditto political speeches (I'll skim the transcripts, thanks), most anything out of marketing, etc.

I don't really think we can "teach" critical thinking, but we can provide opportunity for it again and again. I think our school system in the US (no experience elsewhere) is very poorly set up to do that, be it college or pre-college.

8
camelNotation 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Results of a standardized measure of reasoning ability show many students fail to improve...

The irony of this sentence is painful. The entire reason most colleges fail to improve reasoning - something everyone has known for a while now - is because of standardization and industry-oriented training. They've transformed into advanced trade schools, caring more about selling products (graduates) than producing well-rounded, capable leaders. The entire idea of a standardized test is to produce the very metrics they use to sell those products.

And you know what the worst part about it all is? They are using the old college model (4-year baccalaureate programs) to do what could be done just as effectively in about two years. So they aren't even good at what they are TRYING to do.

9
aphextron 2 days ago 4 replies      
The thing that most struck me after signing up for a few college courses this past semester for the first time is how little emphasis there is on actually learning the material. Especially in math classes. The entire focus is on passing a test. It seems like the entire system is just set up as a means of "testing" whether you already know enough to pass a given course, rather than the focus being on learning and developing new skills.
10
unabst 2 days ago 1 reply      
I went to MIT, and I'm pretty sure everyone already had critical thinking skills. In fact, I just assumed that's part of what the admissions office was looking for.

> at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table

Is this what defines critical thinking? Because if these are the skills they want to teach, they should just explicitly teach them. Philosophy taught me a bit about arguments, but it wasn't writing class. In writing class we wrote, but they didn't teach structured arguments.

Personally, I loved solving logic puzzles as a kid, and I'd read. Also my mother raised me to think carefully and objectively. I don't ever remember being taught "critical thinking" at school though - not in college or anywhere else. I'm not aware of any workplace that teaches it either.

Maybe that's why we're screwed!?

11
xchip 2 days ago 2 replies      
Critical thinking skills are not taught because they teach you how to question authority, and that means criticizing parents, teachers and the system.

Socrates already tried doing that and was accused of corrupting youth (and got him condemned to death)

12
ReinholdNiebuhr 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always wondered if going to college immediately at 18 is the wisest of choices. Personally I worked numerous jobs until 30 and earned my bachelors in history and political economy. I always appreciated each class and all that was offered while everyone else around me being way younger were recovering from the night of partying before. I know how I was at 18, I was tired of high school and ready to just explore the world. I did and when I went to college it was on my own dime and when it felt right.

Granted what was learned would be considered soft, nothing that could really show in the coding world.. and I get it.. you go to get technical skills to get a good job. To me though if this is what college is about then perhaps we should aim for more of an apprenticeship type set up like Germany. Liberal arts colleges can exist still, but it'll be to teach for a more mature crowd able to pay out of pocket and not being something made almost as a requirement. That's not to say you need a college degree to succeed.. I was already set up in my career at the time without any college experience. Considering now I'm trying to start an aquaculture company I probably should of majored in marine biology... then again.. I really didn't become passionate about over-fishing until I took a political course on it. Shrug.

13
raleighm 2 days ago 4 replies      
Many comments here are about the value of higher ed generally and are fascinating to read, but I'm interested in critical reasoning particularly, and this study doesn't surprise me.

(1) Critical reasoning is rarely taught directly, especially to students who don't major in or take a philosophy course.

(2) Even when critical reasoning is taught directly, it's poorly taught. Compare an introductory text on critical reasoning from fifty years ago with one today. You will find that the former feels like it's written for a user of reasoning (which is as it should be written) and the latter is written for explainers of reasoning (colleagues or future academics, I guess?). Jargony, technical, prolix, etc.

(3) Too many professors in the humanities are influenced by a conception of argumentation-as-narrative rather than argumentation-as-truthseeking, or deny there's a distinction or that the latter is possible. Quality of indirect/incidental critical reasoning education is not what it used to be.

(4) STEM education overemphasizes formal logic. Most of our daily reasoning that's worthy of being called "logic" is informal logic.

Outside of university is more important, but things don't look great there either, for reasons everyone here is already familiar with. Echo chambers. Loss of nuance as deliberation is framed in terms that can easily be liked/hearted/shared/retweeted. Curious what, if anything, folks here think could be done to turn things around.

[Edited for clarity.]

14
WheelsAtLarge 2 days ago 1 reply      
The article is about college but what about the previous 12 years of school. Why don't students learn critical thinking during those years. 12 years of school and students lack learning skills, critical thinking skills and what burns me most high school graduates don't have a marketable skill they can use to get a job if they have to start working.

Last year's election focus on some very irrelevant subjects yet our graduates aren't ready for the world they have to face. School reform should be a hot subject yet it's not at the top of the list. Start up jockeys take note the US school system is ready for disruption. I hope it happens soon.

15
Radim 2 days ago 1 reply      
The mandatory Jordan Peterson link:

"Why You Go To College"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANtPUg37f04

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shirro 2 days ago 2 replies      
If people had critical thinking skills they wouldn't be taking out outrageous loans to pay for often worthless degrees.
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seibelj 2 days ago 5 replies      
I went to Boston University for undergrad. When I went, tuition and board were 46k, which I thought was absurd. Fast forward a decade and it's 70k. At this rate, in less than 10 years it will be 100k per year. How does any of this make sense?!?!?!?
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jstewartmobile 2 days ago 1 reply      
Not the biggest fan of higher ed, but why put this on the colleges? Why not the high schools? Eighteen was practically middle-aged in the 19th century. We just keep dropping that bar and infantilizing people so much that WSJ will be writing this about PhD programs in a few more years.
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happy-go-lucky 2 days ago 1 reply      
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_education

> Thomas Jefferson proposed "establishing free schools to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, and from these schools those of intellectual ability, regardless of background or economic status, would receive a college education paid for by the state."

> In the United States, the first free public institution of higher education, the Free Academy of the City of New York (today the City College of New York), was founded in 1847 with the aim of providing free education to the urban poor, immigrants and their children. Its graduates went on to receive 10 Nobel Prizes, more than at any other public university.

https://www.ccny.cuny.edu/about/history

> City's academic excellence and status as a working-class school earned it the titles "Harvard of the Proletariat," "the poor man's Harvard," and "Harvard-on-the-Hudson." Ten CCNY graduates went on to win Nobel Prizes.

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almonj 2 days ago 0 replies      
It isn't just that people aren't taught thinking skills, it's that people are actively attacked and coerced into suppressing that kind of thinking style. Going through normal public schooling systems most people are taught during key developmental phases that questioning the world around you causes punishment. If it isn't your parents, it's your teachers or the government constantly shoving stupid thought-suppressing ideas in your head. During these phases your immune system learns to associate free thinking with abuse and pain. When you are an adult it becomes very difficult to undo this. An adult who gets very emotional when their beliefs are questioned likely got abuse and punishment when they questioned the beliefs of those around them in youth.
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suneilp 2 days ago 2 replies      
It took me a long time to really develop critical thinking skills. I'm still behind where I think I want to be. One thing I've noticed is spending more time on the right sites, like HN, has helped tremendously. Even if they aren't perfect. Another thing that has really helped is spending more time with critical thinking friends.

So what really makes the top colleges so great. Is it really just the professors and curriculum or is the real value in that more bright minds are all grouped together.

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pieterk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Why should we believe that their critical thinking evaluation is accurate?
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Why Infrastructure Is So Expensive strongtowns.org
377 points by swivelmaster  22 hours ago   179 comments top 17
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BjoernKW 17 hours ago 7 replies      
Lack of accountability is an important, perhaps even the most important, part of the problem:

With private projects if a project is overdue or if it is exceeding the originally projected costs either of the parties will be held accountable, either through civil liability enforced by a contract or in simple economic terms.

With public projects there generally is no such accountability. If a public project is delayed and it costs more than planned the public purchaser (the state, city, you name it) - and by extension taxpayers will simply cough up the money, put up with the inconvenience of yet another unfinished and out-of-repair piece of infrastructure and move on.

If we want to change that creating the right incentives is only one side of the coin. The other side is holding both civil servants and politicians accountable for the public projects they're responsible for.

Given the amount of money typically involved in these projects personal financial liability wouldn't be practical. Disciplinary consequences for gross negligence or the outright nepotism rampant with that sort of projects shouldn't be out of the question though. I find it unacceptable that civil servants and politicians who demonstrably and deliberately waste tax money continue to climb the ladder with apparently no care for the damage they cause.

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devwastaken 12 hours ago 4 replies      
The first part of the article talks about Healthcare with this:"Which is why, on the healthcare island, the conversation is about costs. Your preferences don't matter, except where they are aligned with the objectives of those on the island. Substitution doesn't matter; there are no competing services. Obscene profit margins don't invite competitors; they invite consolidation. Justifying costs to third party payers, instead of prices to patrons, is the name of the game. It's a bizarre world that doesn't make any sense to people like Goldhill when they take a critical look at it."

I haven't read the book, but it looks to me they're making the age-old argument that 'third parties' shouldn't pay for healthcare because thats why its screwed up now. But, this is far too simplistic to be true. Healthcare is not a product, its a service. That service changes depending upon the person. Its not mass-producable or competable down because of demand in many cases. And, even if it were a product, you still have the eternal problem that people cannot negotiate for their own healthcare. You can't. You physically need it, and may die without it, and there is no process by which to negotiate or even many times know what price you will be paying. That is what universal healthcare strives to solve in other countries, and does so decently.

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solatic 20 hours ago 9 replies      
TL:DR - the way to combat rising costs is to constrain the supply of capital.

This isn't going to work. Infrastructure contractors will just turtle up and say that it can't be done at the lower price. Lowest-bid mechanisms are intended to harness Adam Smith's invisible hand, but aren't working as intended.

The essay touches upon two distinct points:a) the private developer cared deeply about how his money was spent, but the public developer did notb) general incompetence of public management, by misunderstanding how contractors manipulated costs to reach their estimates and establishing perverse incentives

The way you typically solve this kind of problem, at least in the private sector, is to set up a way for the manager to personally earn a fraction of what he saves the organization - the organization still saves a lot of money overall, even after paying the bonus. But if you bring up the concept of performance-based pay for public employees, you find massive opposition - both from a public worried about corruption and graft, and from public employees themselves, many of whom were drawn to public work in the first place specifically because of the stability and security of a public paycheck.

That's when you understand that what really needs to be talked about is a culture change in public work culture, and when you understand that, you understand just how high the mountain is that needs to be surmounted.

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analog31 21 hours ago 4 replies      
With health care, I have a hunch that it's so expensive because the system is such a tangled web of business entities, that we have no idea where the money is actually going, or what anything costs. As a result, everybody can accuse everybody else of gouging us.

I wonder if infrastructure is the same way. However, one difference is that infrastructure, while expensive, costs all of us more or less progressively, even if it costs too much. In a sense, I like that better than the health care system, which is designed to place individuals at risk of ruinous costs.

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chrismealy 21 hours ago 4 replies      
We know it's cheaper outside of America. Instead of playing Not Invented Here why not just ask what other countries are doing better?
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woodandsteel 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting and disturbing article.

The author ends with some ideas about how to solve the problem. I would like to make a suggestion.

To start, I think it is a good principle that whenever there is a problem in this country, we should look at other countries to see if they handle it better, and if any do, look in detail at how they do it, and then think about adopting their methods to the US. My suggestion is simply we do this with the infrastructure construction problem.

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throwaway-1209 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Because of the law of budgets: use it or you'll get less next year. We have a few streets here which have been undergoing "repairs" pretty much constantly for the past decade. They aren't getting wider or better, perfectly serviceable pavement gets torn up again and again, several times a year. Why? Hell if I know. The most plausible explanation is someone needs to "use up the budget".
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andrewaprice 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like the blame too often goes to insurance companies, but insurance companies are a natural player in a free market system. When you are sick, last thing you will do is shop around 10 different doctors and compare prices, instead insurance companies do this for you. They negotiate a price with the provider, and if the insurance company isn't happy the provider risks not being in-network and loosing a large pool of patients. In an ideal world, this system should work.

What I'm worried about is hospital consolidation.https://image.slidesharecdn.com/annenberg-frakt-150324142714...

We have created a regulatory environment with high fixed overheads, so:a) consolidation lowers the fixed costs, encouraging entities to centralize these fixed costs to minimize themb) makes it difficult for new independent players to enter the market

Rather than a metro area having 8 independent hospitals all competing against each other (giving insurance companies a lot of leverage in negotating prices with providers), that metro area might have 2 companies with 4 hospitals each, so you have 2 companies that know what the other's hospital charges for services, and in their own interest of profit aren't interested in getting into a price war with the other.

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vlehto 13 hours ago 0 replies      
>Tolls, maintenance districts and direct user fees are less popular but actually more empowering for people in that it allows them to speak their preferences more forcefully and clearly.

How about land tax? This way you can still provide free movement to poor people, but you can collect funds very locally. ( I can admit I'm die hard Gergist.)

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zkms 21 hours ago 3 replies      
> He goes through and dismisses all of the usual suspects. Union wages drive up infrastructure costs (yet not true in countries paying equivalent wages). It's expensive to acquire land in the property-rights-obsessed United States (yet countries with weaker eminent domain laws have cheaper land acquisition costs). America's too spread out or our cities are too dense (arguments that cancel each other out). Our environmental review processes are too extensive (yet other advanced countries do extensive environmental reviews with far less delay). I concur with all these points, by the way.

> Smith concludes with this:

> That suggests that U.S. costs are high due to general inefficiency -- inefficient project management, an inefficient government contracting process, and inefficient regulation. It suggests that construction, like health care or asset management or education, is an area where Americans have simply ponied up more and more cash over the years while ignoring the fact that they were getting less and less for their money. To fix the problems choking U.S. construction, reformers are going to have to go through the system and rip out the inefficiencies root and branch.

A thing that isn't mentioned (but might be mentioned in the book) is the obstructionist effect of NIMBYism. To them, the above-mentioned "inefficiencies" are a critical feature and not a bug. Why does shit (the kind that can't be built overseas and transported here in a shipping container) cost so much in US? Obstructionist NIMBYs (and the laws that enable them, like zoning / land use regulations) play a nontrivial role. There's nothing wrong with regulations that, say, preventing wanton dumping of toxic chemicals in the air/ground/water, but NIMBYs are scum that pervert well-intentioned environmental-protection laws to prevent harmless and critical infrastructure from being built.

NIMBYs will oppose everything -- regardless if it's an airport (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dr-gridlock/wp/2016/03/0...), rail rights of way, high-density housing (whether public or private), medical clinics, cell sites, and literal clothes lines (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothes_line#Controversy_in_No...). You got that right, clothes lines.

Cell sites don't pollute, aren't used by equipment that pollutes, don't create noise (OK maybe if you're sitting next to it you can hear fans), don't litter, don't have any sort of odour, and really...don't hurt anyone. It's difficult to find more innocuous infrastructure! Of course, increasing the cost of building out infrastructure (the kind that needs to be local to the area served) decreases supply and decreases quality (and increases cost) -- but the NIMBYs are happy because their precious feelings are preserved because they don't have to see a cell tower or whatever. They don't care if your cell phone bill is higher than it'd otherwise be, or if you get shitty cell service. They don't care if a rail line doesn't get built, they don't care if land use regulation means that real-estate costs for your doctor are huge and thus so is your healthcare costs. They do, however, care if your rent is super high -- in fact, it's what they love to be the case, because it means that their damn single-family home has more worth. NIMBYism -- this desire to prevent one's fellow citizen from benefiting from slightly better and cheaper public goods and infrastructure -- on this scale is incompatible with any sort of high-trust society.

A society cannot have this many citizens with this much power and desire to obstruct the construction/maintenance of critical infrastructure that most citizens benefit from. It's antisocial backstabbery, pure and simple, and to indulge in it (as the US has done) is a horrific corrosive mistake and poisons society from the bottom up. Infrastructure -- health care, transportation (of people, material goods, of data), housing -- should be a nation's pride!

Until NIMBYs are forced to relinquish the obstructionist powers that they so preciously hold, infrastructure construction/maintenance will keep being expensive and inefficient. Any reform that doesn't explicitly address NIMBYs (either via the carrot or the stick) will fall prey to NIMBYs who will somehow reintroduce inefficiencies so their goals of preventing construction will be met.

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Robotbeat 20 hours ago 5 replies      
The article is very high level, looking at root causes and (correctly) pointing out the flawed incentives in how America builds infrastructure. Here are some lower level observations:

I've been watching construction and similar projects at a government site lately. It seems that there are always more people watching than working. But that's not too bad, as often construction projects will languish with no one working on them for months (meanwhile, the site gets dirty due to rain water filling the site, etc) due to red tape requiring certain people to do certain parts of the job (such as cost exceeding a certain amount and thus the work needs to be put out to bid instead of using the on site contractor).

The exception is if it's something simple, like erecting a temporary meeting tent rented by some company. In that case, it seems like EVERYONE is busy and is doing something. Stuff gets done rather quickly. Maybe they have a lot more practice? I bet they also do multiple types of job, i.e. a guy doesn't just tie the tent down, but also helps unroll the fabric from the truck or moves chairs to the seating area, etc.

Regular road projects seem to be not so bad, more people working than during a building construction. But I noticed another thing: huge machines which must cost almost a million dollars sitting idle with no one using them.

I think the secret might be just to ensure that work starts and finishes on a project as soon as possible, that both people and expensive equipment have work ready for them so they can keep busy constantly until the job is finished. This probably would require a responsive, competitive, well-managed, and very well practiced company to do this. And maybe it'd help if people were cross-trained to do multiple trades, so that after one task is completed, they could immediately go work on another. But if people & machines were simply kept busy constantly on the project, I've gotta think the project could be done for far, FAR less money (and time).

And the author is correct that the way to establish those is via the proper incentives. Constructing a building by contract with a government agency is not a very dynamic environment. Renting a meeting tent, on the other hand, is something very amenable to competition even if the customer happens to be the government.

I'd really like to see some sort of study that simply observed construction projects and crews, on-site, in multiple locations in the world and multiple types of projects. We could get some decent answers.

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scythe 19 hours ago 2 replies      
>The more lane miles a state has, the more federal transportation dollars that state qualifies for. What is the incentive? It is, of course, to build more lane miles. Add to this the fact that federal transportation programs generally pay 90%+ for new construction, but only ~50% for maintenance, and we have a system that encourages states to build more than they can ever maintain.

This is a microcosm of a larger systemic problem with state budgets that started with the Sixteenth Amendment. Not because income taxes are bad (they're fine) but because that was the first step in a process where nearly all revenue in the United States is collected by the federal government. This was a shift from the original situation where the government was funded by excise taxes and most taxes were collected by the states. This didn't become a problem however until the federal government's fiscal advantage became so large that federal outlays began to dominate state budgets.

The result is a growing clusterfuck of incentives that would make Roman Polanski blush. State governments used to get more money by growing their states' economies. Now they pursue the twin goals of getting more money from Uncle Sam and generating more of the kinds of economic activity that they can most easily derive revenue from, because federal income taxes are too high for states to collect very much money from income tax, and because states compete against each other to lower taxes to attract businesses so are better off seeking federal funds than raising taxes. If a state raised its own taxes to build roads they'd never overbuild the network like this. It's completely insane.

It's possible that the election of Senators by state legislatures also served to prevent this slow transfer of fiscal power from happening during the first century of our country's existence.

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mschuster91 14 hours ago 1 reply      
In ye olde days in Germany, the municipalities had their own construction teams, employed by the municipality. That meant that e.g. road constructions were done by the government - which also means that the "feedback loops" were way shorter, and there was no incentive for the construction teams to delay the construction or similar.

Now, with the privatization trend and "cheapest-bidder-wins", it's a catastrophe. Especially when construction companies from foreign countries are involved (thanks to EU-wide tender crap)... the language barrier is a huge issue.

One thing the article totally leaves out: in ye olde days, there were next to no changes to a project when it was approved. Now replannings in all stages of a project are common - be it due to politicians trying to gain something, NIMBY morons, environmental protection or, the worst case as can be seen at BER, changing technological requirements. Every replanning causes delays and cost overruns.

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dadvocate 10 hours ago 0 replies      
because in good old days they got-by by exploiting cheap labor (in other words slavery). Things went down south since they couldn't do it anymore legally.
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fivestar 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a major point was missed: The reason for infrastructure projects is the meta effect called "jobs." There are no projects that don't take into consideration how many blue collar jobs get created/maintained. You look at all the road and bridge projects and everything else and those projects are rarely centered around need but rather "how many jobs are preserved or created." That's what Obama's "shovel ready projects" were about. A lot of jobs are a form of welfare doled out by government. Unlike the true welfare recipients, there are people who prefer to work because it gives them a sense of satisfaction but similar to out and out welfare queens, they are recipients of a further form of welfare which they do trade labor for. But, unlike the true private sector, those who oversee these workers make sure that some new project springs up each year to keep them employed. It's a weird system...
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known 20 hours ago 1 reply      
"If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." --Reagan
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adekok 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Because in badly managed projects, the managers have no idea what the project is about. They don't know how anything works. They can't distinguish good work from bad work.

Instead, they rely on rote rules and checklists to "prove" they've done their job. This happens in both public and private sectors.

For example, a friend's employer got bought by a large multinational. The multinational imposed all kinds of processes, checkpoints, checklists, etc. to "ensure product quality". They then got upset that the bids were triple the cost they were previously, and took twice as long.

And that's of course coupled with the fact that no one from the parent company paid any attention to the day to day activities of the (now) division. Instead, they relied on paperwork.

Well, paperwork is no substitute for feet on the ground.

One of my favorite books is "On the psychology of military incompetence". It uses military examples to show how organizations are run (bad vs good), and what quantitative differences there are between bad leaders and good leaders.

Paying attention to details, and ignoring superficial forms is a major differentiator between good leaders and bad leaders.

This is echoed in the story. The city didn't pay attention to the project, while the developer did.

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