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1
Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods for $13.7B bloomberg.com
1679 points by whatok  3 days ago   820 comments top 83
1
scotchio 3 days ago 34 replies      
Oof. I wonder what this means for Whole Foods culture and employees.

If you don't know, John Mackey, the CEO / founder, is a major believer in conscious capitalism and of empowering his employees.

Whole Food employees get paid pretty darn well with some crazy good benefits for their industry and line-of-work (UNION FREE most of the time too!).

WF banks on them being true believers and motivators of the cause - including dedicating a fair amount of paid time to trainings. I've heard mix stories about how Amazon treats employees. I wonder how that will mesh.

So I guess I'm asking:

* What is going to happen with employee culture?

* What is going to happen with all the "Fair Trade" deals WF has in place that might not be the most economical decision now?

* Here comes store automation and hefty lay-offs?

Source: Worked at WF for 3 years

2
AndrewDucker 3 days ago 12 replies      
https://twitter.com/dkberman/status/875701677504024576

"Amazon did not just buy Whole Foods grocery stores. It bought 431 upper-income, prime-location distribution nodes for everything it does."

3
harrisreynolds 3 days ago 4 replies      
HUGE news in the grocery delivery space.

Groceries are one of the few large markets that require some proximity to customers due to costs and spoilage. Each grocery store is a type of mini-distribution center for grocery products.

Shipt and Instacart have succeeded to date because they use existing distribution channels and set up marketplaces for the "last-mile" of delivery. This is in contrast to Webvan in the early 2000's who tried to do grocery delivery by building their own distribution and failed spectacularly.

Amazon has become an expert in distribution and logistics. But it is clear that using their current model doesn't generally work with groceries (RIP Webvan, 1998-2001). Bananas need to be treated much differently than books.

So what does Amazon do? But Whole Foods!! A moderate sized grocery store with a significant national footprint and lots of higher income customers.

Now they instantly have a pre-built distribution channel that is already optimized for the grocery business (which again is much different than non-perishable consumer goods etc).

Things definitely just got interesting in this space!! I still believe that Instacart and Shipt can succeed, but they need to maintain a laser focus on making their shoppers and customers happy! And grow as fast as possible while Amazon digests Whole Foods!

[Note: I was the early CTO for Shipt responsible for building their grocery delivery platform and initial engineering team. Go Shipt!]

4
StevePerkins 3 days ago 3 replies      
Wow... all the articles I've been reading about Whole Foods lately deal with how they're hurting, and losing market share to more affordable competitors like Trader Joe's.

If this is about Amazon thinking they can turn things around for Whole Foods, then it will certainly mean drastic changes to price, selection, and employee structure.

If this is about Amazon using a brick-and-mortar chain as a tool to help Amazon's own ventures (e.g. grocery delivery, local storage for same-day deliveries, product return and support locations, etc), then it will certainly mean drastic changes what a Whole Foods store even is.

Either way, I can't imagine a course in which Whole Foods as we know it isn't basically over. Which doesn't necessarily bother me (I migrated to Trader Joe's and similar competitors long ago), but does seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The grocery industry was heading in a Walmart-ish direction... and Whole Foods was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing a counterculture into the mainstream, and forcing all the other chains to reverse course and up their game.

5
lwlml 3 days ago 4 replies      
Amazon is now (or more so now) like Evil Corp in the Mr. Robot kind of way. You can ship your Evil groceries via Evil Prime purchased via voice-command with your Evil assistant device paid for with your Evil credit-card. Evil.

Frankly I don't buy as much from WF anymore considering that what they carry is much more like "organic junk-food" than actual food.

If you really want to support the "cause", find yourself a local farmer or CSA to buy from and support them directly.

https://www.localharvest.org/csa/

6
nfriedly 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bezos: "Alexa, buy me something from whole foods"

Alexa: "Buying Whole Foods"

Bezos: "Shit"

7
Geekette 3 days ago 1 reply      
You know the race for global trade dominance is heating up and playing out regionally when the same company tries to buy Slack and Whole Foods in the same week. While one is familiar with conglomerates holding a diverse array of businesses, it's fascinating and slightly unnerving (in terms of market power increasingly concentrated in fewer hands) to see it in motion.
8
tuna-piano 3 days ago 0 replies      
Some quotes from a 3 month old article about Amazon and physical grocery[1]

The whole premise [of online grocery] is that youre saving people a trip to the store, but people actually like going to the store to buy groceries.

A bunch of smart people at Amazon have been thinking about re-imagining the next phase of physical retail. They want more share of the wallet, and habitual, frequent use of Amazon for groceries is the ultimate goal.

"Long term, a stronger grocery business could position Amazon to become a wholesale food-distribution business serving supermarkets, convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and schools. "

"A group of Amazon executives met late last year to discuss the disadvantage Amazon faced compared with grocery competitors such as Wal-Mart and Kroger because of its lack of physical stores and customer apprehension about buying fresh foods online. They decided they needed something more to jump-start Amazons grocery push beyond plans already under way for the Amazon Go convenience store, modeled for urban areas, and drive-in grocery pick-up stations suited for the suburbs."

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-03-20/inside-am...

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dkrich 3 days ago 1 reply      
I don't mean to be a naysayer, I don't really know what this means. But with all of the euphoria I'm hearing regarding Amazon and the doom-and-gloom regarding "traditional" grocers, I can't help but remind myself how horribly bad people are at predicting the future. Most of the people I'm hearing make predictions about what this means have been wrong about everything to this point.

Not saying it won't be a game-changer, but it is fascinating to watch people extrapolate this out to the extremes as soon as the news hits the ticker.

To put it another way- if it were that obvious that buying Whole Foods was going to make Amazon the dominant grocery seller, why weren't people predicting that they would do it all along and asking what they were waiting for? It isn't until Amazon acts that people say "Oh yeah, that was the right move."

10
cercatrova 3 days ago 4 replies      
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA2-iMz479o

I watched this video a while ago about what Amazon Go is a precursor for. In summary, if AWS is renting out server infrastructure for people, then you can imagine that Amazon can make the infrastructure to lease out Amazon Go to other stores. They first integrate it with Whole Foods, then as customers expect no more checkout areas, they will only go to Whole Foods because it's faster and maybe cheaper. Then because customers want it everywhere, Amazon could force other stores like Walmart and Target to integrate Amazon Go infrastructure to their stores, without Amazon directly competing with these stores, and make a ton of money leasing it out without spending money on building whole new stores. Of course, the acquisition could also be like nodes for warehousing and delivery, but both avenues are not mutually exclusive.

11
tuna-piano 3 days ago 9 replies      
I'm confused.

Amazon is known to work backward from an imagined future press release, and then do the actions necessary to make that press release. How does Amazon see the future in this case?

-Amazon already has PrimeNow and Amazon Fresh, which offer a great grocery delivery service. For those who have tried these services, it's easy to see how addicting they are vs going to a physical store.

-I can't see Amazon using existing retail stores as distribution centers. I would think you really only need one grocery distribution center for each city in America, and PrimeNow (and AmazonFresh) already has that! Or, has Amazon determined that picking/packing from a retail store is actually efficient? Retail as a DC seems tough to automate, items are in the wrong spot, suspiciously missing, etc. I don't get it.

-I would have guessed that online grocery from highly automated distribution centers is where the majority of the market would be within ~20 years. Does Amazon, the king of online, not think that!?

-Or does Amazon just believe that they can run Whole Foods better than it is currently run?

-Do they just want the purchasing, existing relationships, etc to also sell their customers through other channels?

12
rmoriz 3 days ago 6 replies      
Looks to me like the ultimate war between grocery stores in the US will be fought out between Amazon/WFM (premium, delivery) and ALDI/Lidl (discount, no-frills).

As a German I'm amazed by the "food haul" videos on YouTube and the positive feedback for ALDI US (belongs to ALDI Sd), Trader Joe's (ALDI Nord) and Lidl (part of Schwarz Gruppe, they just started in the US yesterday).

13
dawhizkid 3 days ago 3 replies      
This is not good for Instacart. My understanding is WF was their biggest partner and source of revenue. No way amazon will use them.
14
hew 3 days ago 2 replies      
This is a Walmart counterattack. Walmart is on the verge of capturing large swathes of busy "middle-class buyer" pickup orders.

Amazon saw it and responded quickly.

15
nojvek 3 days ago 1 reply      
I quite like wholefoods. Now that Amazon will own it I feel less likely to support it.

Amazon is a cut throat profit making machine at the expense of human exploitation.

Wholefoods felt like the little guy who was trying to do things differently from mainstream supermarkets.

16
snowman311 3 days ago 0 replies      
AmazonFresh is an expensive service. The team is searching for routes to dominate the high-end grocery market (worth billions) before launching into the worldwide grocery market (worth hundreds of billions). AmazonFresh customers and Whole Foods customers value convenience and quality. They are much less price sensitive than most.

Whole Foods has millions of customers. Amazon will surely be advertising AmazonFresh or some re-branded form of it - such as "Whole Foods Direct" - to Whole Foods customers. Do Whole Foods turn into AmazonFresh warehouses? Possibly, but it's unclear how the two business will eventually integrate. It's also possible that Instacart gets acquired by Amazon, but for the most part I see them getting screwed in this deal. Instacart's business development deal is like bringing a knife to a bomb-fight.

The other major value this deal brings to Amazon is the industry-specific knowledge that the Whole Foods team brings. As a frequent East Coast, Whole Foods shopper, I am always amazed to see how much of their food comes from the West Coast/all over the world. I think the execs of AmazonFresh, who are mainly HomeGrocer/Webvan execs, appreciate the complicated logistics of doing the businesses. Amazon will be able to combine its software engineering knowledge/logistics knowledge with Whole Foods' expertise at creating an amazing grocery-shopping experience.

17
xutopia 3 days ago 1 reply      
Amazon wants to kill retail and their biggest threat is Walmart. Walmart currently uses groceries as a way to get people in stores and when they're in the store they buy other things as well.

Now imagine if you are Amazon and you'd like all those people going to Walmart to just use your services. If I could get my groceries delivered to my door and only need to go to stores once in a blue moon I'd be really happy.

18
bogomipz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting so they are looking to take on Costco in the organic grocery market then:

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/retail/costco-becomes-l...

I'm surprised the article didn't mention this.

19
joshfarrant 3 days ago 1 reply      
$13.7B is quite a satisfying amount.

That's $1 for every year since the Big Bang.

20
tmaly 3 days ago 1 reply      
Grocery stores are a tough market with razor thin margins. Whole Foods has a ton of competitors like Trader Joes that happens to still have organic options.

Since I did not see it asked, any idea if we will see some new Prime benefit at Wholefoods?

21
Robotbeat 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm from the Twin Cities in Minnesota which has tons of co-op grocery stores. They're successful and growing with cheaper prices than Whole Foods and much more progressive values (as well as giving regular folk an ownership stake in a crucial community institution). Whole Foods seemed to me to be just a poor copy of cooperative grocers. I'm surprised no one else has mentioned that in the comments here.

I'm not shedding any tears for Whole Foods' "culture" now that they've been bought by Amazon. They were always a sort of sham-progressive company. In the words of Portlandia, "Whole Foods is CORPORATE."

I suppose if you're going to be corporate, might as well go full Amazon. They do it very well.

22
lucb1e 3 days ago 0 replies      
Since the article doesn't mention it, Whole Foods is apparently:

> an American supermarket chain exclusively featuring foods without artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.

I was waiting for this to appear (a common grocery store with seen-as-healthy stuff) but it already exists. TIL.

23
rollingpebbles 3 days ago 0 replies      
WF has been struggling because they helped paved the way for mainstreaming of organic, sustainable, etc. They couldn't pivot really and everyone else was undercutting their high prices and they've been unable to increase profitable foot-traffic to stay alive. Amazon could basically use WF as a laboratory for deploying Amazon Go without having to build grocery logistics from scratch. Hope it works out.
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joveian 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing I haven't seen mentioned here yet is that I wonder if Amazon intends to sell on their regular online store some of the non-perishable items that Whole Foods sells. Currently, Amazon is not usually competitive vs. VitaCost, Lucky Vitamin, and Swanson Health. I didn't realize until checking just now that VitaCost is owned by Kroger.
25
cphoover 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think this might signal the walk in walk out payment paradigm of Amazon Go going national. If we could say goodbye to lines, I am all for it.
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dforrestwilson 3 days ago 0 replies      
What happens to Sprout's Farmers Market?

People seem to think it will be bought, but this would seem to be negative news because the price paid for Whole Foods was about half what Sprout's is trading at.

27
JumpCrisscross 3 days ago 3 replies      
Aw, poor Blue Apron.
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ShakataGaNai 3 days ago 0 replies      
The old joke is that it isn't "Whole Foods" but "Whole Paycheck" because of how expensive they are. I wonder how that will change with Amazon's typically price cutting ways. The two seem somewhat at odds with each other.
29
nihaar 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be curious about what this also means for Instacart given their strategic partnership with Whole Foods and their direct competition with Amazon Fresh.
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jarjoura 3 days ago 1 reply      
This might just be a strategic move to block Instacart as every WF I've been to recently had created an entire checkout section just for Instacart.
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coleca 3 days ago 1 reply      
If the brick and mortar grocers weren't scared of Amazon before, they sure are now.
32
djhworld 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if they'll roll out the tech they showed a few months ago for the store in Seattle where you didn't have to check out.
33
mickrussom 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've noticed that comments here that are critical of Bezos gets met with downvoting. Sad. Why Microsoft got the 3rd degree and Amazon gets a pass is beyond me. I guess that large unethical companies like Amazon can use AIs to police sentiments about them and do the needful. We should start looking for anti AI mechanisms in discourse as well as work to ensure paid sockpuppeting and gas lighting is not going on. The truth is going to be harder to get at these days.
34
tanilama 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, if successful, it will be a great leap forward for Amazon to advance its grocery vision. Maybe some kinda deal will be given to Prime members? Amazon Go Wholefoods? For the employees, it is neutral, if the company keeps underperforming Amazon will surely do something about it.
35
msoad 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is very bad news for InstaCart. I know most of InstaCart orders are WholeFoods and CostCo
36
sidegrid 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is another step in how an online book store slowly becomes the Umbrella Corporation.
37
plusbryan 3 days ago 1 reply      
What does this mean for Instacart I wonder? Will Amazon shut them off from their stores?
38
wcchandler 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now that they control the distribution, they should control the supply. Well functioning, scalable greenhouse solutions should definitely pique Bezo's interests. I'd love to be a head grower over a large operation like that.
39
aezell 3 days ago 0 replies      
In this part of the country, it seems like Kroger's ClickList service has been very successful. I'd imagine other larger chains in other parts of the country are doing similar things. Sure, it's not delivery but if you are driving right past the store on the way home and don't even have to get out of the car, it's a pretty close competitor. That's especially true in smaller communities where Amazon's grocery delivery doesn't yet make sense. Might this be a partial reason that Amazon is making a bet on the grocery market?
40
buryat 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder if they're going to implement Amazon Go in Whole Foods https://www.amazon.com/b?node=16008589011
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joycey 3 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait for drones to deliver organic quinoa straight to my door.
42
synaesthesisx 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know if they'll pilot Amazon Go approach at some of these stores? I don't think it's nearly ready for scale but could see it working out for certain locations...
43
bsder 3 days ago 0 replies      
People are also forgetting that CEO Mackey was about to get ousted or his wings significantly clipped.

I feel this is more Mackey cashing out than anything else.

Whole Foods is about to change a lot and quickly.

44
balozi 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nothing Amazon does makes sense immediately. Only in hindsight does the strategy emerge.

What would be also helpful would be for Amazon to disrupt the wine and liquor sector.

45
gigatexal 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well this is a huge exit for WholeFoods which was seeing fewer and fewer people enter it's stores and increased competition from value grocers introducing organic foods. A number of articles asked if WholeFoods had a future in this new environment. As for Amazon, I see this more as a real-estate play to help them further their new push into grocery and the no-checkout process.
46
codecamper 3 days ago 3 replies      
Amazon is getting too big.

How's this for an investment strategy... Long AMZN, short a basket of all other mid to large retailers & grocers.

47
panooper 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pretty good rundown of reactions and implications of this deal here: http://circulaat.com/main/amazon-to-acquire-whole-foods-in-1...
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skinnymuch 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wow all cash? Amazon's cash pile will be pretty small relatively speaking after this. Less than $10B.
49
20years 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else think that this purchase is largely in part so they can get AmazonFresh in a lot more places quickly?

In my area where there is a big college campus, they have been hiring for AmazonFresh devs for over a year. We have no AmazonFresh here but we do have a Whole Foods.

50
duxup 3 days ago 0 replies      
I buy things on amazon when I feel the price is good or better than I can get locally. Whole Foods doesn't fit that mold at all.... now maybe they provide different products but then Whole Foods isn't Whole Foods anymore.
51
logingone 3 days ago 0 replies      
Bezos will then start putting pressure on farmers. I don't know how these things work in the states, but the dairy industry would be the prime example in the UK.
52
dpratt 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how long until the first beta of Elastic Grocery System?
53
danm07 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if instead of Amazon building out their own stores, they're going to use Whole Food's... unlikely but possibility is there if they do it well.
54
davidiach 3 days ago 3 replies      
I wonder if they will keep the brand or change it to Amazon.
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tcbawo 3 days ago 2 replies      
Perishable goods like groceries are one of the few businesses that Amazon is not in yet. My guess is that Amazon is looking to take Pantry to the next level.
56
ckastner 3 days ago 0 replies      
What an exciting development! It will be interesting to watch Amazon apply its logistics experience to a large-scale groceries operation.
57
yuhong 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what happens to Whole Foods business code of conduct, including the Online Forums approval requirement I dislike.
58
gryz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Liked a joke from by spouse:

Mr. Bezos:- Alexa, buy me something from Whole FoodsAlexa:- Good. Buying Whole Foods.

59
ransom1538 3 days ago 0 replies      
Race to the bottom!

Amazon checklist:

1) Import cheap Chinese goods,

2) avoid sales tax,

3) destroy the environment (china),

4) destroy brick and mortar stores,

5) destroy small/medium business.

=== PROFIT!

60
good_vibes 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have a job interview with Amazon next week. Wish me luck, I'll be likely doing entry level work but I hope I can keep working on websites for clients (have 2 currently), keep learning data structures/algorithms, and build a personal project. All this to one day get hired by Amazon for UX or web developer.
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delaaxe 3 days ago 0 replies      
If there's ever going to be a world government, it's probably going to be Amazon.
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neonbat 3 days ago 0 replies      
i've been helping my friend with his channel and we were pitching for amazon to buy whole foods a few months ago:

https://youtu.be/fvZ8mGZZins

63
trophycase 3 days ago 1 reply      
Now, with a prime membership I'll never need to leave my house!
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guiomie 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The transaction also may help Amazon sideline Instacart Inc., a startup that has delivered grocery orders from Whole Foods stores in more than 20 states and Washington, D.C."

... I wonder how this will play. Is Instacart's business threaten by losing Whole Food as a client?

65
tgb29 3 days ago 0 replies      
I do my banking and food shopping at Walmart; I wonder if Whole Foods will offer this. Probably not, but I'm still excited to see Amazon moving into the food retail business.
66
codecamper 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is all Marc Andreessen's fault. If we had just left it at Gopher, none of this would have happened!
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awinter-py 3 days ago 0 replies      
ugh. In 1966 the supreme court forced the 3rd largest grocery chain in LA to divest the 6th-largest (which they bought in 1960). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vons
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hendzen 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why would they buy Whole Foods as opposed to Grubhub/Seamless. Seems like a better fit...
69
chaostheory 3 days ago 0 replies      
What percentage of instacart's business is tied to Whole Foods?
70
foobarbazetc 3 days ago 0 replies      
RIP Instacart.
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psadri 3 days ago 0 replies      
What will happen to Instacart?
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masonicb00m 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sucks for Instacart.
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phreeza 3 days ago 16 replies      
Somewhat off topic, but I have had a weird thought circulating in my head (triggered by reading Red Plenty) that I wanted to put out there:

What is the relationship between a centrally planned economy as for example Gosplan was trying to run in the USSR, and the presence of these huge market-like but centralized entities like Amazon and Wal-Mart inside a free-market economy? This becomes particularly interesting because Amazon apparently does not have any particular interest in turning a profit.

A central problem faced by Gosplan was the collection of high quality data about supply chains and the estimation of the utility function of consumers. I would say Amazon is in a pretty good position to do both right now.

Another question, somewhat related: At what point does it become profitable for Amazon to lobby for more redistributive taxation? This might sound paradoxical because you would assume that Amazon represents the interests of it's owners, who would probably suffer under such a taxation scheme. But shouldn't there be a point at which giving more disposable income to poor people will boost the overall income of an entity Amazon (since Amazon doesn't sells many flat-screen TVs but not as many mansions or yachts)?

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dkural 3 days ago 3 replies      
Better buy than Slack for $9B.
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salesguy222 3 days ago 2 replies      
Checkmate, brick and mortar!! Amazon is eating the world.
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wavefunction 3 days ago 4 replies      
I wouldn't say obviously. From my perspective Obamacare is fascist even as I support it compared to the alternatives save single-payer national healthcare.

What other ideology than fascism best describes government coercion of its citizens to engage in business relationships with the insurance companies to ensure their profits remain at certain levels?

77
aerovistae 3 days ago 2 replies      
If Hacker News had gold I would give it to you.
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ethbro 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Da $#&@?!"

Sometimes I forget just how big Amazon is.

... But it's nice to know I can get my artisanal, single-source, Fair Trade, organic, small-farm, no-GMO cucumber water with one day shipping now.

79
md2be 3 days ago 0 replies      
Instacarte is screwed
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Tokkemon 3 days ago 0 replies      
Just add it to the list of reasons to avoid Amazon.
81
collinmanderson 3 days ago 0 replies      
I love the Windows Updates restart warning in the video. :)
82
justinzollars 3 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon's Global conquest continues.
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pfarnsworth 3 days ago 0 replies      
What about Instacart? They had a sweet deal, if it continues then it means Amazon will buy them. If it gets cancelled it means Instacart is fucked.
2
Developers who use spaces make more money than those who use tabs stackoverflow.blog
876 points by edward  4 days ago   658 comments top 164
1
austenallred 4 days ago 5 replies      
Almost certainly a result of the spaces cabal and the (often unspoken of) prejudice against tab users. Don't think you make hiring decisions based on tabs vs spaces? Well you're part of the problem, then.

I'm building an app to help you easily email your congressperson and ask them to create legislation requiring space/tab equality. This has to stop. Please consider donating to my Patreon.

2
redm 4 days ago 13 replies      
The reason I use tabs is pretty simple. It's faster to move around only using the keyboard. It's also faster if I'm changing code that requires reformatting. Finally, when another developer looks at the code, their IDE will render the tabs as whatever its set up for, 2 spaces, 4 spaces, etc. In other words, it adds flexibility.

Brace yourself: I use two spaces after the end of sentences too. [1] I am quite the rebel.

Modern IDE's (Sublime Text) let you easily convert spaces to tabs (or vice versa) and intention length of existing code. [2]

[1] http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2011/01/...

[2] https://css-tricks.com/changing-spaces-tabs-sublime-text/

3
timhwang21 4 days ago 11 replies      
Well, of course. Only companies with fuck-you money can afford the extra bytes spaces take up versus tabs, so it follows logically that they'd pay their developers more.
4
piker 4 days ago 2 replies      
Could it be that a few large, well-compensating employers are shifting the result? (E.g., https://google.github.io/styleguide/cppguide.html#Spaces_vs....)
5
inanutshellus 4 days ago 6 replies      
= Why Grown-Ups Don't Use Tabs =

* Joe likes 4-space tabs, I like 2-space tabs, and Jane is old-school with 8-space tabs.

* All goes well until someone aligns something visually, like so:

 void someNiceMethod(
[tab][tab][tab][tab][space][space]int myParam...);

* Now it aligns perfectly on my machine, looks mostly ok on Joe's machine, and is ON MARS on Jane's machine.

Thus one-or-more of three futures happens:

* Someone implements a code re-formatter into version control

* Someone re-aligns the code, starting the process over again.

* Someone calls a meeting and demands we all switch to spaces

6
GavinAnderegg 4 days ago 6 replies      
I see a few arguments here which suggest people think tab-users might care less about their code and/or their fellow coder. As someone who slightly prefers tabs and abhors mixing of tabs/spaces, I find this frustrating.

I generally prefer tabs because I feel that they're more egalitarian: I like 4-space indentation, but don't want to force that on everyone encountering my code. Similarly, I find 2-space indentation very hard to parse in most languages, so I don't want that affecting me if I can get away with it. While this is possible with spaces and maybe a series of Git hooks, it's trivial with tabs.

On the other hand, I always use spaces in languages like Python or Ruby where there are well-codified style standards. I also always show invisible characters on any editor which allows it, and have cleanup scripts to ensure that whitespace is standardized across any non-vendor code in the project.

Maybe most tab users don't feel this way? Maybe most aren't as careful/picky as I am? Maybe tabs are more popular with younger devs? But I feel like tabs can offer more interoperability than spaces when many coders are working on the same project when the language/community doesn't strongly specify whitespace.

7
TekMol 4 days ago 8 replies      
This does not mean that changing from tabs to spaces will increase ones income.

I would expect there simply is a confounding factor that the author did not look at. Maybe the info is not in the data.

I can imagine that the space/tab choice is related to the "upbringing" of the developer. Maybe which language or editor they used first in their life.

Or maybe it's related to culture. For example when using IRC, tabs are usually not used to communicate. Maybe that impacts the general choice of tabs/spaces.

Or maybe more sophisticated users tend to exchange the tab key for something else:

https://xkcd.com/1806

8
nottorp 4 days ago 6 replies      
Pretty simple: you use spaces because you're aware that there is more than one IDE/editor in this world and who knows what your code will get opened with tomorrow.

This means you consider consequences beyond "but it works on my machine" so you're a better programmer. Ergo, higher salary.

9
lvoudour 4 days ago 5 replies      
>Developers who use spaces make more money than those who use tabs

Sure, but how many spaces? grabs popcorn

10
andrewfong 4 days ago 0 replies      
I blame whoever decided to make 8 spaces the default tab width on older systems. Yes, the beauty of tabs is that you can change the defaults and make one tab show up as whatever you want, but most people don't change the defaults. And 8 spaces is just too much more often than not.

From the Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tab_key):

> A common horizontal tab size of eight characters evolved, despite five characters being half an inch and the typical paragraph indentation of the time, because as a power of two it was easier to calculate in binary for the limited digital electronics available.

Why someone decided to round up to 8 instead of down to a much more sensible 4 spaces is beyond me.

11
Aaargh20318 4 days ago 2 replies      
Tabs vs. spaces. 2 vs. 4 spaces. It's an endless discussion.

We finally compromised and we're using 3 tabs.

12
fcanas 4 days ago 1 reply      
A possibility I haven't seen mentioned is that the style guide of their employer, together with a few employers who pay out-sized salaries (Google, Amazon, Facebook...) could account for the difference.
13
andrewla 4 days ago 3 replies      
The most confusing thing about this result is that go shows a high level of space-preferential salary difference. Go programmers who use spaces make ~20k more (at the median) than developers who don't.

Only, in Go, you don't have a choice -- gofmt enforces tabs only (with spaces for alignment). So something seems odd there.

14
delegate 4 days ago 2 replies      
Might also be that the space people, being irritatingly pedantic also include bonuses and/or stock compensation , while the tab people, always lazy and all over the place, just barfed the first number that came to mind.

The answer, as always, is: lisp with parinfer - makes the whole debate irrelevant.

15
Androider 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you're in the JS world check out https://github.com/prettier/prettier if you haven't. It's used by some big projects like React, Babel, webpack etc.

Unlike "traditional" formatters, it parses your code into a syntax tree completely disregarding any original formatting, meaning the output is entirely consistent. It's pretty liberating to devote zero time to manually formatting and can make code reviews more constructive and less superficial. It is what is is, and it's pretty opinionated based on Facebook's code style. Works great for us, enforced with a git hook.

16
coldcode 4 days ago 5 replies      
I needed a good laugh this morning. But of course this is pretty bogus relationship. People who drive Teslas make more money than those who drive Gremlins.
17
andrewSC 4 days ago 3 replies      
Well that settles that! We finally have proof that spaces are superior to tabs... ;)
18
Cerium 4 days ago 2 replies      
Of course professionals get paid more, but I'm surprised there are so many tab users out there! Time to add a new interview question.
19
jmkni 4 days ago 0 replies      
If I'm using an IDE that handles whitespace and indentation am I using spaces or tabs?

If a tree falls in the forest, etc

20
inanutshellus 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you use tabs, you work for a small team (or by yourself),. If you use spaces, it's because you're in a "big enough to stop trusting everyone" environment.

Case closed! :)

21
ajnas 4 days ago 0 replies      
The correct way to phrase this is "Developers who makes more money uses (or they are forced to use) spaces over tab".

Because bigger corps generally set company wide standards on the code indentation and that more often that not prescribes spaces.

22
tombert 4 days ago 0 replies      
I use spaces because literally every single time I've tried to propose tabs I get yelled at by someone... I generally prefer tabs, but I prefer having coworkers that don't complain more.
23
pklausler 4 days ago 0 replies      
Heh, you kids with your spaces and tabs. Real old-schoolers think in terms of columns 1-5 for the label, 6 for the continuation marker, 7-72 for the code, and 73-80 for the change number.
24
drblast 4 days ago 0 replies      
There's an obvious conclusion here we're all dancing around.

People who use spaces are just better than those who use tabs.

25
yAnonymous 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tabs were the default for a long time, so it can be argued that developers who use spaces make a conscious decision and care about clean code more than tab users who just go along with the default. I'm not arguing tabs vs spaces here, but exploring systems and caring about good organization.

If you care about clean code, being orderly and organized probably extends to other areas, too, and that helps you make more money.

In my experience, developers who mostly use default settings are often unorganized and easily confused. They also know very little about the systems they are working with, because everything outside their IDE doesn't interest them.

I'd also bet that many tab users had to check what they use, because they didn't know or care.

tl;dr: Developers who change the settings are more dedicated to their job.

26
oscarjd74 4 days ago 0 replies      
Developers who use spaces are more likely to lie and boast about their salary.
27
jelder 4 days ago 1 reply      
I've been using prettier.js in my JS projects for a few months and honestly I can't imagine going back to formatting my own code. It would be like making all of my own clothes or something. Who has time for that?

The Go community was on to something with gofmt (even if they did decide on tabs).

28
mnarayan01 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Indent with tabs, align with spaces" (e.g. [1]) would be my strong preference in a perfect world. In addition to its "ethereal" benefits, some languages which support HEREDOCs have nice "tab ignoring" versions (e.g. <<-).

That said, in the imperfect world we live in, I always use spaces. "Indent with tabs, align with spaces" is obviously not rocket science, but its just too opaque unless you have a strong code review process.

[1]: https://dmitryfrank.com/articles/indent_with_tabs_align_with...

29
_jal 4 days ago 1 reply      
For more surprising correlations: http://tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
30
Tomis02 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think people got it backwards. Brace yourselves. You don't earn less money because you use tabs, but instead you use spaces because you earn more money.

When I was working on my own small projects I was using tabs, or tabs combined with spaces, which yielded me not a lot of money.

Once I started working for a big corporation, the coding standards mandated by the company meant I could only use spaces, because people couldn't be trusted to use a nice space/tab combination.

31
dingo_bat 4 days ago 1 reply      
On a somewhat related note, if I had to ask a Genie for a wish, I'd ask him to magically convert all tabs in all codebases to spaces and make git forget the commit.
32
Udik 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somehow it doesn't surprise me that much. Software development is ridden with fads that fastidious, obsessive developers make a point of adopting enthusiastically (they used to call them "best practices" until somebody even more fussy came and suggested to call them just "good practices", because "no practice can be universally best").

These people have a particular gusto in constantly one-upping each other with the latest good practice; the one that adopts the highest number of good practices wins. Their constant talk of the latest fad and push for the "right ways" of doing things usually puts them in positions where they end up evaluating and hiring new developers (I got interviewed just the other day by somebody that didn't ask me to design or structure any code, but rather if I use == or ===).

Some of these are actually excellent developers nonetheless; others will drive entire teams into rewriting a perfectly working application into a completely useless mess of a thousand microservices. Endeavour that will end up in their CV anyway, helping them to find another excellently paid job once it's time to migrate.

33
heisenbit 4 days ago 0 replies      
We are suffering from space exhaustion. Experienced older programmers known earning more were able to gobble up spaces way back while they were still cheap and are now enjoying spreading them around. Younger coders on a budget have to be stingy with spaces and are forced to use the poor tab substitute. This leaves the less experience professionals at the mercy of tab expansion by greybeard hackers. Sad.
34
nikolay 1 day ago 0 replies      
A tab and a space have different semantics. Don't dumb things down, please! In Bash, for example, you need tabs for indented heredocs to avoid redundant leading spaces, which could be problematic in some cases - that's why I always use tabs with Bash.
35
iamNumber4 3 days ago 0 replies      
Not the be the voice of reason in a sea of crazy; but this is just stupid. correlation != causation - making an assumption on pay rate vs who uses tabs and who uses spaces makes my brain hurt thinking about what moron approved this article.

Set the tab stop to what ever your project/team style guides requires. Tabs to spaces is just plain stupid. Why on earth would you ignore the x09 character, a single character that exists for this exact reason, and replace it with multiple x20 in the file. Just set your tab stop to what you like to look at, be it 2, 4, or 42 characters. By the way the default is 4 characters for most editors/IDE's.

vim - :set tabstop=4vscode - to your settings add the following. "editor.tabSize": 4

Everyone else's comments are moot!

Debate over.

36
z3t4 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Could be those using spaces all live in Silicon Valley.
37
_Codemonkeyism 4 days ago 0 replies      
How much money do developers make who have no clue and do not care the least because they use the auto-layout of their IDE?
38
jayvanguard 4 days ago 0 replies      
When you're working in a large company with many developers spaces make more sense. Large companies generally pay more.

In a perfect world you'd use tabs for semantic indentation and spaces for stylistic indentation but this is too hard to implement in 100+ person teams and also can't be automated via an IDE style sheet.

39
Sandman 4 days ago 0 replies      
What I learned from the last chart is that Clojure devs earn the most money regardless of whether they use spaces or tabs.Being an Elixir programmer also pays off nicely but for heaven's sake don't use tabs unless you want to earn only half as much as you could if you used spaces.
40
mattpavelle 4 days ago 0 replies      
PEP 8 specifically recommends using spaces for Python development. And the vast majority of software developers I know follow most of PEP 8 for Python development. https://www.python.org/dev/peps/pep-0008/#tabs-or-spaces

I'm not a PHP guy (so I'm not sure about this) but it looks like PHP-FIG suggests it too... http://www.php-fig.org/psr/psr-2/

So are we really saying software developers who follow style guides earn more? That doesn't surprise me. Adhering to guidelines is a good way to work well on teams and thus become a more valuable team member.

41
sroussey 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'd rather see the results for those that don't participate in SO surveys: those making $200-500k.
42
minimaxir 4 days ago 0 replies      
The difference between the salaries of tab-users vs. space-users in David's report are too close to call, so I added bootstrapped 95% confidence intervals for the aggregate median salaries (which was easy to do since the code was open source): https://twitter.com/minimaxir/status/875386185350168577

If the 95% confidence intervals for tabs and the 95% confidence intervals for spaces intersect at a point, there is a possibility for failing to reject the hypothesis that the difference between the two is nonzero at the alpha = 0.05 level. Since there is little overlap in most cases, the original hypothesis holds.

43
kutkloon7 4 days ago 1 reply      
"The model estimated that using spaces instead of tabs leads to a 8.6% higher salary".

So the model actually predicts causality, instead of correlation? That's amazing. I'll start using spaces instead of tabs today and I will ask for a 8.6% raise.

According to this model, I should get it!

44
teddyh 4 days ago 1 reply      
I see its time to once again present the once-and-for-all solution to this tabs/spaces mess: Elastic Tabstops!

http://nickgravgaard.com/elastic-tabstops/

45
raquo 4 days ago 3 replies      
I would like to see a similar analysis for gif vs jif pronounciation. We need to settle this.
46
midnitewarrior 4 days ago 2 replies      
I use spaces.

Who do I contact for my check?

47
imron 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ooh, ooh, now compare salaries of vi vs emacs users.
48
RawData 4 days ago 0 replies      
Come on, we've known this for years. Do we really need a study to tell us that? Hell, the only interview question I've asked new hirees since around 2003 is: "do you indent with spaces or tabs". Really cuts through the BS. It's foolproof!

:-p

49
jpfed 4 days ago 0 replies      
This by itself disproves the Just World hypothesis.
50
kazinator 4 days ago 0 replies      
http://www.kylheku.com/cgit/c-snippets/tree/autotab.c

With this, I instantly conform to how the file is formatted. Is it 3 space indentation, made with a mixture of 8-tabs and spaces? Autotab will figure it out, spit out the Vim params, and you're modifying away without causing spurious diffs in version control.

You have to learn to use Ctrl-T for indent and Ctrl-D for deindent in Vim; those obey the shiftwidth and generate indentation according to the shiftwidth, tabsize and expandtab setting.

51
rdeboo 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's good that their data science team keeps tabs on these important matters.
52
DonHopkins 4 days ago 1 reply      
What if you control for the size of the space bar and the size of the tab key?
53
YZF 4 days ago 0 replies      
On IBM mainframe terminals (327X) tabs were used for moving between entry fields. So it is/was basically impossible to use tabs in text for formatting. I'm not even sure if EBCDIC has tabs?

I don't really care that much, Go says tabs so whatever. But spaces have the benefit (or drawback to some) of rendering exactly the same way for everyone (assuming fixed width fonts, does anyone code with proportional fonts?). Also I've always got two thumbs on the space bar. And it's much bigger than the tab key.

So settled then?

54
paulsutter 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this about whether you set your editor to convert tabs to spaces? (which is obviously tidier due to inconsistent treatment of tabs)

Or do some people actually use the space bar to indent code? (which is obviously insane)

55
tmsldd 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, in a team with a bunch of programmers each with their own preferences is kind of tedious to talk and enforce a single formatting standard...So, I just make sure a small script runs#astyle -A2SKnjfUHpk1cn -R .h .cppbefore their commits .. and it made my diff look much nicer.. I don't really discuss tabs or spaces anymore..

I never thought that such styling would really matter much ... I wonder how much a developer using a beautifier earns in average..

Anyhow, statistics sometimes brings up some weird conclusions.

56
greyfox 4 days ago 1 reply      
Doesnt using spaces to indent code waste a lot of time? I mean sure if you're only indenting once, it takes a few extra key presses to make 1 tab worth of space bar clicks but if your code gets really deep, then you're talking about wasting a lot of time hitting the space bar key per indent PER line...each subsequent line of indented code doubles the amount of space bar clicks...

Am i missing something here? this sounds really dumb, as tabs make the most sense, and it appears use less memory as well.

57
oftenwrong 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish editors handled indentation preferences intelligently. I prefer my indentations to appear 2-columns wide. I want to be able to open my editor, have everything appear as if it is 2-column-tab-indented while I work on it, but have it automatically written back to use the original indentation scheme of the file. Obviously there would be some ambiguous cases, which is acceptable.

I use vim with vim-sleuth now. If anybody knows how I can achieve what I described above in vim, please tell me how.

58
drumttocs8 4 days ago 0 replies      
Why didn't he test by age? Age is likely the variable most linked to salary. Older developers didn't use fancy IDEs- just a simple text editor is all you really need.
59
nailer 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who switched preferences: i used to hate tabs

Then somebody asked me why. The answer was that Sun Solaris was a crappy operating system which would fail to boot if you used tabs in files like /etc/vfstab.

For some odd reason, I carried around a weird bias about tabs rather than regarding Sun as being shitty.

I worked somewhere where a bunch of folks preferred four spaces (because they came from Python), others two (because they came from JS). Use tabs, set your preferred tab size, boom, everyone gets along.

60
animex 4 days ago 0 replies      
They can bill for that extra keypress time. Makes sense. Tab developers deliver projects on-time and under-budget. Space Developers over-charge, deliver late, but make more money. ;-)
61
aetherspawn 4 days ago 1 reply      
And here I was, thinking the title meant browser tabs vs OSX Spaces.
62
sqeaky 4 days ago 0 replies      
In the past ten years I have had 7 different development positions (and a few IT positions), I have never been at a place that used tabs. Ruby, C, C++, php, C#, SQL were the languages used and there positions were scattered across medical, Retail/Wholesale, Government/DoD.

That someone with this many different types of experience can have accidentally avoided encountering whole class of people and their code, really puts into perspective how small the experience of any 1 person is.

63
gthtjtkt 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how people can work with spaces. I had to reformat a colleague's query the other day and it was infuriating because all the tabs had somehow been converted to spaces. I had to edit it line by line instead of being able to easily shift entire blocks in either direction.

Do Visual Studio and SSMS support the space equivalent of "Select X rows and tab them all at once"? I just tried now and all the code is wiped out, replaced by a single space.

64
rcthompson 4 days ago 0 replies      
In terms of potential explanatory covariates, I think preferred editor/IDE would be one of the most likely to explain the trend, since different editors will have different defaults. The survey has this information, so someone could test this. It would probably help to group the editors by their default setting. I think you might need a mixed model with editor as a random effect to include both default setting and preferred editor in the same model.
65
tripzilch 3 days ago 0 replies      
I strictly use spaces for indentation (and alignment never) but I don't hate on tabs, they have a right to live in my code. So I like to sometimes place a sprinkle of 2 or 3 tabs at the end of lines where no one will notice them probably anyway.

I think it's the best of both worlds, really.

66
iainmerrick 4 days ago 0 replies      
In case people aren't aware of it (I only found it recently), check out EditorConfig: http://editorconfig.org

It lets you check in an .editorconfig file that specifies whether your project uses spaces or tabs. And a bunch of editors and IDEs already have built-in support for it!

Doesn't solve the holy wars, but it can sure help reduce the friction.

67
tracker1 4 days ago 0 replies      
package.json

 ... "format": "prettier-eslint --write --trailing-comma es5 --single-quote true \"_src/**/*.js\"", "lint": "eslint \"_src/**/*.js\"", "precommit": "npm run format && npm run lint" ...
problem solved...

68
JepZ 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well, pretty biased article. One example:

"There were 28,657 survey respondents who provided an answer to tabs versus spaces and who considered themselves a professional developer (as opposed to a student or former programmer). Within this group, 40.7% use tabs and 41.8% use spaces"

Without filtering to the 'professional developers', meaning overall, there are more tab users (32% vs. 28%).

69
om2 4 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like they didn't correct for multiple comparisons. Given the number of questions on the survey, there was bound to be at least one surprising correlation that looks significant without correction.

(Am I wrong? I would hope a Data Scientist would know a basic thing like this, but I don't know R so I can't tell for sure from their code.)

70
tripzilch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Of course you're gonna make less if you let other people control what your code looks like.
71
srett 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's 2017, that wage gap is outrageous and discriminating!

...but at least with tabs everyone can adjust the gap size to their liking. :>

72
TACIXAT 4 days ago 1 reply      
I just like to force my preferences on other people, so I use spaces. You like 8 width tabs? Too bad, you get 4 spaces.
73
Dove 4 days ago 0 replies      
That doesn't seem like a mystery to me. The argument in favor of tabs boils down to "tab damage won't happen". The argument in favor of spaces boils down to "tab damage will happen". I know which of those two philosophies I would prefer to have in charge of important things.
74
crpatino 4 days ago 0 replies      
As long as we are sharing crazy theories...

Boring corporations like boring spaces, and have to pay big, boring salaries to get any talent at all.

On the other hand, cool code slingers may or may not prefer tabs out of personal idiosyncracies, but as long as all of them get shortchanged by the VCs and/or startup founders...

75
tzury 4 days ago 1 reply      
Software developer must come to a flexible mindset in order to succeed.

Use whatever's right for you! And, if you come to a workplace where there are "rules" about that, try to obey them.

Never take part in any of those wars of Tabs vs Spaces, VIM vs Emacs vs Sublime vs whatever.

Spend time on writing more tests instead!

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tripzilch 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Put another way, using spaces instead of tabs was worth as much as an extra 2.4 years of experience.

It's because they get more keystrokes in!

Depending on your tab/indent settings you might get as much as 4x or even 8x the XP by using spaces.

77
rectang 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a spaces user, I have to acknowledge that I get irritated when I open a document with tabs and the formatting is messed up thanks to tab setting mismatches.

Is it possible that tab-aversive people making hiring decisions act on their aversions (consciously or unconsciously), while tab-friendly hiring managers do not?

78
eloone 4 days ago 0 replies      
79
Pitarou 4 days ago 0 replies      
My apologies to all you tab lovers, but I suspect that preferring spaces is a proxy for experience.
80
weddpros 4 days ago 0 replies      
Developers who use spaces cost more than those who use tabs...

Now that's a fact for your next job interview!

81
samblr 4 days ago 0 replies      
In your editor, select option to convert tabs to spaces - you turn rich even using tab(key)!
82
aiyodev 4 days ago 0 replies      
Alternative headline: Developers who use spaces more likely to lie about their income
83
anonymousiam 4 days ago 0 replies      
I believe the tool 'indent' was created in part to end this "holy war". I just checked my system (a relatively new LinuxMint install) and found that 'indent' is not installed by default, but it is in the repo.
84
ceocoder 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's it. I'm heading back home to get my bag of pitchforks, tar and feathers. See you back at the playground in an hour.

I mean how are we to achieve world peace when we still have people using and being awarded for wasting precious bytes.

85
dlanouette 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm going to go reformat all the files in my companies repo and wait for the raise.
86
lisper 4 days ago 0 replies      
And developers who use curly braces make more money than the ones who use parens :-(
87
ianai 4 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds like self selection bias. Only 12k of 28k respondents included their income. If you decrease a sample artificially then the resulting statistics are all suspect. (I stopped reading once I saw the attrition rate)
88
idlemind 4 days ago 1 reply      
What's going on with the salary disparity between US ($100k) and UK ($50k)?
89
bdamm 4 days ago 0 replies      
The number of respondents who included salary is almost half of the overall sample size. So it could just be that developers who use tabs make more and are less likely to hand out their salary.
90
mcculley 4 days ago 0 replies      
The tab character, ASCII code 9, should not appear in source code. What happens when you press the tab key to make the proper number of spaces appear is between you and your editor.
91
Nomentatus 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm guessing developers with more relatives on the Autism spectrum prefer spaces to get exactly the look they like, and are better (more picayune) programmers.
92
thatwebdude 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh boy. Editorconfig and I'm done. I sincerely don't care.
93
bitwize 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sexy languages, like Python or Node, encourage the use of spaces.

Tabs are more often used in languages like C and C++ which are more traditional and pay less despite being more technical.

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willand31 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is because people who use spaces have to use Stack Overflow more often, so there were more developers who use spaces when SO did their 2017 survey.
95
pcunite 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is the danger of statistical analysis, where you determine that drinking from lead laden dinnerware means you're a part of high society.

Indeed, it does means that.

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Radle 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd assume that tabs vs spaces is a localized argument.Thus in an area/company area and company there's higher salary and spaces are the default.
97
minusSeven 4 days ago 0 replies      
Correlation is not equal Causation. How in the hell are people taking this seriously? Also there is no reason given in the article to explain why it is so.
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altern8tif 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many man-hours (and by extension, wages) has been spent debating this potentially world-changing issue.

The internets giveth, and the internets taketh away.

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dkhenry 4 days ago 2 replies      
Good thing things like YAML have now trained me to only use spaces. Also for those looking to make a quick buck, emacs has `c-x h m-x untabify` enjoy
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TallGuyShort 4 days ago 0 replies      
And Silicon Valley becomes slightly less satirical.
101
jv22222 4 days ago 1 reply      
That's the median. I'd be really interested to see if that rings true when only taking the top 10% of earners into account.
102
winstonewert 4 days ago 0 replies      
A simple explanation that occours to me:

Many of those who answered tabs are actually using an IDE which inserts spaces when they push tab. They believe they are using tabs, because they've never realized that this is going on. People under that misapprehrension are likely to be less skilled.

Additionally, if a coder, is in fact, deliberately choosing the use tabs, they are going against the majority opion of coders and almost all style guides. That attitude might be correlated with lesser income.

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mattmanser 4 days ago 0 replies      
What surprises me most about those graphs is that US developers are paid twice as much as Canadian, UK or German developers.
104
guilhas 4 days ago 0 replies      
I prefer tabs, but use spaces. We use VisualStudio which has spaces by default, so the company just adopted as standard.
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tripzilch 3 days ago 0 replies      
The real question is, if correlation does not imply causation, then what does?
106
panzer_wyrm 4 days ago 0 replies      
But which write better code? If space guys are Baby Metal and tab users Meshuggah this would leave thing inconclusive
107
flipp3r 4 days ago 1 reply      
Jetbrains product users make more money? ;^)
108
solotronics 4 days ago 0 replies      
I reconfigured my linux to insert 4 spaces when I press tab.. am I doing it wrong by using the tab key for spaces?
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kaonashi 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anything more than two spaces is a waste of precious screen real-estate.
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richardknop 4 days ago 1 reply      
Golang uses tabs for indentation and Go developer jobs have good salaries but then again this might be an outlier.
111
vortico 4 days ago 1 reply      
This topic is the most tired debate ever. I'd rather talk about politics than indentation styles.
112
madiathomas 4 days ago 0 replies      
Plot twist: Dev Managers tracks your productivity by number of kepresses you make per day. The more the better.
113
delinka 4 days ago 0 replies      
I suppose, then, that this pre-commit hook I have for tabs <-> spaces conversion is borderline fraud.
114
BinaryIdiot 4 days ago 1 reply      
If one uses an editor which replaces tab key presses with spaces, is one using tabs or spaces or both?
115
daveheq 4 days ago 0 replies      
So how much per keypress are companies paying extra just for their developers to indent with spaces?
116
kalleboo 4 days ago 2 replies      
Am I alone in not even knowing what I use? I use the formatting standard that my IDE enforces.
117
my_ghola 4 days ago 1 reply      
I only use tabs in my Makefiles.
118
vbezhenar 4 days ago 0 replies      
But how many spaces for indentation yields more profit? That's the next question.
119
rosstex 4 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously, it's because programmers who use spaces work four times as hard.
120
11thEarlOfMar 4 days ago 0 replies      
I so wanted to post an ad for a Blood Boy in this month's Who Is Hiring.
121
exabrial 4 days ago 0 replies      
Tabs are for people that use soft wrap.

Spaces are for people still using 80 column monitors.

122
austincheney 4 days ago 0 replies      
How is this even a thing when there are code beautifiers that do a great job?
123
mtgx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ugh, could it be because those who use tabs are from a younger/less experienced/less paid generation that have learned to program with tabs, as opposed to programming veterans who were used to spaces?

I don't think the fact that you use spaces automatically makes you a richer programmer.

124
kbenson 4 days ago 0 replies      
Of course. That's why I vote spaces in every presidential election.
125
ajaimk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't Go & gofmt pretty much not allow for the use of spaces?
126
gcb0 4 days ago 0 replies      
the only right answer for "tabs vs space" question is "i put a modeline comment with the project accepted style on all files I touch. And that style guide better say tabs" :)
127
pasbesoin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Finally, a clear cut financial answer to this schism!

You tabbers are costing me money!

128
toast0 4 days ago 0 replies      
Clearly, you have to pay people more to use spaces, free market at work.
129
maxsavin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Perhaps programmers who use spaces also participate in satanic rituals
130
iLemming 4 days ago 0 replies      
Devs who use Vim and Emacs make more money than those who use IDEs
131
Shorel 4 days ago 0 replies      
As I put in another comment:

Use and respect .editorconfig files in your projects.

132
lotsoflumens 4 days ago 0 replies      
OK - now that's out of the way.

Let's move on to ASCII vs Unicode ....

133
linkmotif 4 days ago 0 replies      
Just asked myself, "It's not April 1st, is it?"
134
Wheaties466 4 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe it just means python programmers are paid more /s
135
jasonkostempski 4 days ago 0 replies      
I want all my characters to be the same width, except one.
136
collyw 3 days ago 0 replies      
Pay should be deducted for using tabs! :)
137
kmicklas 4 days ago 0 replies      
The real answer here is, text is a bad data structure.
138
josephagoss 4 days ago 0 replies      
What about using tabs that render as spaces in the IDE?
139
mcs_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have to stop converting spaces with tab in sublime
140
asab 3 days ago 0 replies      
A metalevel flame war on spaces vs tabs..
141
gmarx 4 days ago 0 replies      
Being honest, I don't know if I use tabs or spaces. My IDE mostly does it when I hit return and I reformat it every so often.

Are you guys all programming in vi or notepad or something?

142
valuearb 4 days ago 0 replies      
Money isn't everything. Tabs live forever!
143
rubayeet 4 days ago 0 replies      
Some men just want to watch the world burn.
144
keymone 4 days ago 1 reply      
wow, clojure is really well-paying language
145
spongeb00b 4 days ago 0 replies      
Yeah, but which programmers are happier.
146
watwut 4 days ago 1 reply      
Possible explanation: Tab vs space is likely to be correlated with technology (C vs Java vs JavaScript) and different technologies pay differently.
147
fergie 4 days ago 0 replies      
Vindication.
148
jmnicolas 4 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe it's an age thing : older devs tend to prefer spaces and are usually more paid than young devs.
149
red2awn 4 days ago 0 replies      
What about soft tabs?
150
emodendroket 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well that settles it.
151
fahadkhan 4 days ago 0 replies      
Oh no! Someone started the Tabs vs Spaces holy war on HN again.
152
Clubber 4 days ago 0 replies      
Developers who use the space bar aren't real automaters. :)
153
moomin 4 days ago 1 reply      
Remind me what Facebook and Google use :)
154
mmariani 4 days ago 0 replies      
Aaa
155
known 4 days ago 0 replies      
Python?
156
howscrewedami 4 days ago 5 replies      
correlation != causation
157
justforFranz 4 days ago 0 replies      
WOW!THANKSDEEP LEARNING!
158
ebbv 4 days ago 0 replies      
Of course they do because they are pig headed ignoramuses who are insist on getting their way in spite of all evidence that they're wrong. So of course they are good at getting raises. ;)
159
Twirrim 4 days ago 4 replies      
I used to work at a place where a huge argument occurred between staff, fighting over tabs vs spaces. It wasn't mentioned in the company code style.

Eventually leadership got annoyed at the amount of time developers were wasting punting code reviews back and forth over this silly nonsense, let alone the loud altercations around the office. Who ever could have guessed that developers would be such an opinionated bunch?

So they mandated spaces, and all was peaceful in the office.

For about a day.

Naively they put something along the lines of "spaces are to be used for indentation" in the code style document, but failed to specify howmany spaces.

So the new arguments started up amongst the office. 3 spaces or 4? Whoever could have guessed that a number of developers were actually belligerent types who would go out of their way to find something to argue about, and also stubborn? Such a rare trait in developers.

So the arguments raged again, and eventually management decided they'd had enough. After all the fuss and grumbling over making an arbitrary decision on the tabs vs spaces debate, they decided this time to be democratic.

They scheduled a big all-hands meeting for the developers, and tolerating no interruptions, outlined that a binding vote was going to be taken. The code style document would be updated to reflect the democratic consensus, and also warning that future arguments on any other points would result in verbal warnings, and potentially dismissal.

With the software development managers standing at the front each to independently do the count, they asked all developers in favour of 3 spaces to raise their right hand, and all developers in favour of 4 spaces to raise their left.

The count started, but soon the managers realised that with all the raised hands, they couldn't see the fours for the threes.

160
Scarbutt 4 days ago 0 replies      
Developers who use spaces are more pragmatic, hence more money.
161
jorgeleo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Repeat after me:

Correlation does not imply causation

Correlation does not imply causation

Correlation does not imply causation

162
SurrealSoul 4 days ago 0 replies      
File > Preferences > User Settings > Tabs place two spaces
163
omginternets 4 days ago 1 reply      
First thought: perhaps languages that officially recommend spaces (e.g. Python) predict higher salaries compared to those that recommend tabs (e.g. Go)?
164
IanDrake 4 days ago 2 replies      
Older people use spaces. Older people make more money because they are further along in their career. Thus it only appears spaces make more than tabs, when it's really about age.

Just a guess.

3
European leaders call for open access to all scientific papers by 2020 (2016) sciencemag.org
747 points by Tomte  2 days ago   99 comments top 16
1
aqsalose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now this is an interesting development! We shall observe what comes of it, though.

Meanwhile, a group of Finnish researchers are organizing a review boycott [1] against Elsevier, one of the reasons being Elsevier's unyielding opposition to the Finnish libraries' OA requests [2].

[1] http://www.nodealnoreview.org/

[2] https://www.kiwi.fi/display/finelib/Scholarly+publications+-...

2
bubblethink 2 days ago 6 replies      
This probably comes up all the time in these discussions, but any change in this area has to be top down. i.e., People with influence and job security like tenured faculty need to signal a change and move to open access. A grad student or an assistant professor isn't going to put his/her career on the line for ideals. I'm not too familiar with the journal culture, but at least in CS with conferences, all the critical work (program committee, reviews etc.) is done for free by everyone involved. That it can end up behind a paywall is quite sad.
3
denzil_correa 2 days ago 2 replies      
I am ambivalent about this. "Open Access" would definitely mean more access to articles but at what costs? The costs for OA in Elsevier (for example) could easily go beyond 1000$ [0]. Open Access does not mean access to articles at a higher costs. OA is to access articles for which you already paid for. Here, I see a sort of double payment - tax payer research funds + article access. Why should we pay exorbitant article access fees for research already funded by tax payers?

[0[ https://www.elsevier.com/__data/promis_misc/j.custom97.pdf

4
mirimir 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is limited to public-funded research results, I think.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/may/28/eu-ministers...

5
xvilka 2 days ago 1 reply      
Open Access (and better user interface/experience to be honest) - http://sci-hub.cc
6
sgt101 2 days ago 5 replies      
Getting papers refereed and distributed does cost. I think many journals are now charging more than 1k for accepting papers for open access, conferences charge fees ~.5k or more (+ travel). Of course you can submit to arXiv, but that's moderated - not refereed and is sponsored by wonderful people - but what if one day the people paying for it stop being so wonderful.

In the past the cost of papers was paid on the demand side and borne communally, now the cost is paid on the supply side. Science still values paper counts and citation counts - but it seems to me that folks who can afford publication now have an unhealthy advantage that they didn't used to!

7
galadran 2 days ago 0 replies      
The UK is already (getting) there. UK Universities are assessed by the "Research Excellence Framework" (REF). In order for work output (i.e. papers) to be considered by REF, final peer reviewed papers must be deposited into an open access repository within 3 months of acceptance.

Source: http://openaccess.ox.ac.uk/next-ref/

8
Keverw 2 days ago 3 replies      
Awesome. I do think all publicly funded research papers should be available. Research done by private companies using their own funds however shouldn't be.

Maybe if America had open access, things would of turned out a lot better for Aaron Swartz :(

9
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
No mention of it but I wonder if scihub has influenced this.
10
notadoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Sounds like a good goal, though it also sounds ripe for abuse. Will "fake scientific papers" be a new version of fake news? A surge of industry or agenda funded junk or cherry picked science?
11
ycomment 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anybody have an update? This is from a year ago.
12
mikehines 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aaron Swartz would be proud of this progress.
13
mtgx 2 days ago 0 replies      
China can't steal all of that IP if we release it to the public first!

Just kidding of course, this is great news. The EU should still be the main beneficiary of open access science following this policy.

14
okket 2 days ago 0 replies      
-> (2016)

 May. 27, 2016

15
Thobr 2 days ago 3 replies      
16
roadnottaken 2 days ago 12 replies      
I don't understand how governments have the authority to make private companies (journal publishers) give-away their product for free. The fact that much of the research is funded by taxpayers is not relevant -- scientists have voluntarily submitted their work to private publishers for publication. Going forward, perhaps they should stop doing that. But for work that was previously published? It's rightly owned by the publishers.

Note, that here the "product" I'm referring to is the final formatted article. If governments want to mandate that universities release internal versions of their published works that seems fine, but that work should be for the universities or governments to undertake. They should not be allowed to release Nature's formatted/published version. This is how Pubmed Central works currently in the US (unformatted manuscripts are released, not the journals' version). When Nature releases an article, they put a lot of work into formatting it for publication so it looks nice. That final product does and should belong to them.

It's fine if people think that publicly-funded research should be freely available. But the fact remains that scientists have been voluntarily publishing their work in private for-profit journals for 100+ years. You can't just "undo" that. And they're still doing it today. If scientists truly felt strongly about these issues they'd only publish in OA journals, but most of them don't care (source: I'm a scientist).

4
Telegram founder: US intelligence tried to bribe us to weaken encryption fastcompany.com
651 points by anjalik  4 days ago   205 comments top 25
1
otalp 4 days ago 8 replies      
>"It would be naive to think you can run an independent/secure cryptoapp based in the US."

This seems to be a shot at WhatsApp and Signal, implying that they have loopholes that allow the FBI to snoop in. I'm not sure how true that is. This might be an attempt to deflect from the fact that Telegram uses a home-baked encryption protocol which might be insecure, while WhatsApp uses the OWS protocol.

2
drawkbox 4 days ago 4 replies      
I am not sure about the claim here but the FBI has always been all over cryptography companies and products and this was well before Snowden, Phil Zimmermann (PGP) knows about this.

In 2003-2006, we built a service that was a financial system to exchange financial data through various means including AS/2 EDI over HTTP with big companies and the government suppliers such as AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange). Initially we had RSA, PGP and a custom encryption in there, the latter two for other features besides EDI. We got a letter from the FBI asking us to switch only to RSA, they wanted to know about our use of PGP and wanted to see our custom encryption if we continued to use it. Being a small/medium company we switched to just RSA to avoid any issues. It was an odd day, when I came into the office they told me I had an FBI letter on my desk and you can imagine what happens around an office when something like that happens. Very strange day indeed.

Moral of the story, if you create your own crypto or aren't using the ones you are supposed to use, in any capacity, expect some knocking.

3
angry_octet 4 days ago 1 reply      
Read the replies from all the serious crypto security people on twitter and you will see the overwhelming consensus is that the FSB/Spetssviaz and FBI/NSA probably love Telegram for its roll-your-own-crypto and server mediated group chats.

One also has to wonder if the FBI consider the Telegram team to be essentially undeclared Russian agents, and hence fair game.

4
strictnein 4 days ago 1 reply      
Cryptography experts like Matthew Green were having fun with some of his claims on Twitter a couple of days ago. I would read whatever Durov claims with a large amount of skepticism.

ex: https://twitter.com/matthew_d_green/status/87369621172278476...

5
throw2016 4 days ago 0 replies      
Governments never believed in privacy. Before they were opening envelopes and tapping phones. Now they are trying to keep up with technology and given the sheer scale of resources, manpower and power at hand operating 24/7 they will prevail.

A journalist like Poitras is on all sorts of lists and incessantly harassed. There are secret courts, secret laws and secret processes at play. And beyond this the power of harassment, intimidation, blackmail and bribery. Individuals and even organizations cannot prevail against the array of capabilities.

Its nice to think of democratic theory and the rights but these only exist when not exercised as talking points. The moment you start exercising them you end up on all sorts of lists, marked for harassment and basically have a target on your back. Dissent is squashed even before it can formulate.

6
tuna-piano 4 days ago 4 replies      
Assuming this isn't just PR, in some ways this is scary and disheartening.

But my first reaction was "Cool, our government really cares, is creative and has the necessary power to get things done."

For those of you who've worked with government, you've seen how insanely difficult the procurement process is. Being as specific as needing to get competitive bids for toilet paper purchases, etc. So the fact that they could get potentially large amounts of bribe money means (a)This goes to high levels in the organization (b)They've probably done this before.

I wonder how much they offered?

And I wonder how many other pieces of software have backdoors. I would think the first things they would try and get access to is (a)Certificate issuers and (b) VPN software.

Do we know that Godaddy,LetsEncrypt, OpenVPN, Cisco VPN, Juniper, etc don't have backdoors?

7
loceng 4 days ago 1 reply      
The ridiculousness of it all is it's unreasonable at its base to try to prevent encryption as a form of safety and security from violence.

Sure, you can lock up all communication for privacy reasons, and the government can spend all kinds of resources on trying to control to prevent or circumvent encryption - however it's a waste of resources as it's simply a bandaid.

If I wanted to do something violent or evil I/you can simply have regular meetings and use paper communication - the old spy-style stuff. Of course those networks can be infiltrated by governments with the resources, and they can maintain that presence by allowing certain acts within networks to occur vs. deciding which ones they should stop; it's how the war against Hitler was won once their encryption was broken - watch the very well-done The Imitation Game - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2084970/ - for a reference.

The only real solution is dealing with the root causes. I heard an analyst on TV (a rare occasion for me) mention after Trump's Saudi visit and speech, that he didn't mention that the Saudis should look into the root causes of why there is terrorist activity growing in their countries; of course a lot of it is historical karma and rage from violent acts against their families, however a lot is because people's basic needs aren't being met which prevents the higher levels of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs from being reached and maintained.

There's a solution and it requires building real community, locally, where you are now - and striving for people to become healthy so they don't develop bias and other coping mechanisms which prevent empathy and understanding and therefore compassion; preventing responsible ownership of weapons isn't useful either, not developing and supplying weapons on mass would be beneficial, however most attacks recently have been with vehicles or knives.

Universal Basic Income will also allow closer to a truly free work market and it can evolve from there, giving people the time to do what they feel is the most important in that moment for themselves, while not having to be forced to working in a shitty environment with shitty managers or co-workers; the health improvement and increased productivity here alone is worth it.

8
jquast 4 days ago 1 reply      
"a few months later i was offered an interview for a position at the fbi office for cyber-warfare in nyc who as well offered to fix my immigration status"

and, "before going to monterey and while exploring the beauty of san francisco i was contacted once by a us navy intelligence officer who seemingly unintentionally appeared next to me at the bar"

http://mickey.lucifier.net/b4ckd00r.html

9
19eightyfour 4 days ago 0 replies      
But wouldn't it be in the interests of mass surveillance to herd people toward a chat option that isn't secure, or that the surveillants have a backdoor to? You get two benefits: 1) chat people think is secret you can read, 2) people self-identify as selectors / targets by choosing to try to hide their communications, which you can actually read

And if such PR herding worked, wouldn't the surveillants be prepared to pay for such efforts to make their job easier?

So, what seems readily apparent is: Telegram takes state money, to offer an insecure option, while dissimulating to the world that it's: a) secure and b) turning down state money all the time.

I know why this perspective isn't discussed in MSM. But I don't get why it's not discussed more here. It seems obvious to me. And personally IMHO, I think that's a good thing. Catch more criminals / terrorists.

10
ricksharp 4 days ago 5 replies      
Can someone correct me if I am wrong, but it seems relatively easy to make an encrypted peer-to-peer messaging system.

I mean, simply use a public/private encryption algorithm that has proven to be highly secure:

- Share your public key openly

- Anyone can send a message to you using your public key to encrypt the message

- You decrypt with your private key on device

Do all the encryption/decryption on device and viola, secure messaging. (This is basically how https works.)

Of course this only allows a single device the ability to decrypt the message.

However, if you want to allow multiple devices to share a private key, they can simple send each other their own private keys using the same encrypted protocol.

In addition, for super paranoid use, a master password could be used to salt the private key so that would be required with the private key to enable decryption. (Which is similar to how password keepers basically work.)

What am I missing?

11
Callmenorm 4 days ago 1 reply      
There aren't a lot of places that are embracing truly end-to-end encryption for the masses. I think it would be tough in the U.S. but it's not clear to me where the better place.
12
custos 4 days ago 2 replies      
Option 1: Could be Russian/Telegram propaganda.

Option 2: Could be true because seriously, who trusts the FBI/NSA not to violate our privacy anymore?

Really not sure what to believe about this one.

13
prawn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Surely it's not just an issue of location but scale? Unless there is a huge team reviewing code, an individual or small team could be paid-off by an agency to provide a backdoor? For the right combination of large scale app by small team, there'd have to be a price at which many individuals capitulate? If the backdoor is somehow revealed, "doesn't matter, got my money".

I used to wonder whether some success of social media companies couldn't be explained by secret payments for backdoor access. You could be operating out of Europe or Africa and still get offered money, and other pressure carefully applied.

You might think you'd hold true to your plan of privacy-for-all, but if they offer $x00m or more?

14
amai 2 days ago 0 replies      
Pavel Durov is the guy who started vk.com which stores passwords in plain text: https://thehackernews.com/2016/06/vk-com-data-breach.htmlHe has no clue about security. Whatever he claims, I would never use Telegram.
15
retox 4 days ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a reasonable exit if noone wants to buy your popular e2e encrypted chat app. Take the bribe, shutdown and move on to the next iteration.
16
known 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it." --Einstein
17
pigeons 4 days ago 0 replies      
There isn't even any need to weaken the homebrew encryption, good luck using it. I don't even have the option on the Linux desktop client at least. The "secret chat" feature isn't available.
18
robert_foss 4 days ago 4 replies      
This is pretty alarming stuff.

Especially considering how that competitors like Signal are US based. Signal is owned by twitter which by no means is a small player, so it isn't likely to fly under anyones radar.

19
Asmod4n 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is no need for the US intelligence do to that, looking at the choices Telegram made on its own.
20
known 4 days ago 0 replies      
How Telegram is making money?
21
EternalData 4 days ago 1 reply      
The government has progressed from banning encryption to trying to subvert it :/
22
lngnmn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Good PR.
23
_RPM 4 days ago 1 reply      
24
killjoywashere 4 days ago 5 replies      
25
logicallee 4 days ago 3 replies      
The problem I have as an end user is that I want the infrastructure protecting me to be invisible. Let's return to this after the following paragraphs. I will make some pretty far-reaching conclusions.

I think we can all agree that if some totally below-the-radar crypto anarchist who happens to have a few million dollars from bitcoins figured out that they actually have enough access via the dark web to bribe a few Russian generals and long story short detonate a nuclear bomb a few miles outside New York City, just for shits and giggles, then they should be stopped at some point along the way. This will seem like a made-up example to you but I purposefully don't want to confuse the issue with practical examples. We can all agree that at some point this should be stopped.

A reasonable time to stop it might be if intelligence agencies get a literal screenshot from a darkweb chatroom (from a concerned participant, where the participant thinks they're really going too far) where this is being planned in exacting detail but more information is needed to be precise. (For example, suppose the source of the nuclear bomb were not Russia but not enough information was given to identify it. There are actually quite a few nuclear states and many of them are quite corrupt. A short list includes India, North Korea, Pakistan.)

I would think that this kind of actionable urgent intelligence should unlock whatever privacy safeguards are in place, but the issue is that if there is a correct "technical" solution (if cryptography works 'correctly' and is not broken, in an academic sense), then there is no technical possibility to unlock anything. If Tor, crypto currencies, and encryption "work" (in a binary, yes it works, or no, it's broken sense) then following the receipt of such a screenshot there is no technical means of any further step.

Here I'm going to be philosophical for a second. The future of technology is nearly infinite human power. You can already in the next few seconds initiate a crypto currency transfer to anyone anywhere in the world, who can receive it without any banking infrastructure or oversight.

The arc of technology has been personal human enablement. When individuals become nearly God-like and all-powerful, it is dangerous to be in a position where, like the Muslims reporting the madman banned from his U.K. mosque for radical insanity, the status quo is that if you report your friend to the authorities saying, "My online friend, God-like in his powers, is planning to murder a million people just for shits and giggles, and he's kind of insane. Unfortunately, I don't know where he is or what he's doing, but I'm pretty concerned. He has a lot of money from a few ponzi schemes he ran. It's pretty credible for the following specific reasons (screenshots, quotes, etc)." And the only response from the authorities is, "Thanks for all this. We don't know where he is either, in the grand scheme of things a million deaths isn't that much and if it happens we will look at preventing another such case."

That's a pretty silly response, isn't it? That the only possible response is, sorry, nothing can be done.

Okay, now I've laid out why there should probably be some infrastructure on the back-end.

What I don't like is that this translates to humans literally reading people's private correspondence, web searches, etc. It's not very good.

What is a good middle ground?

Can't the NSA make things that run locally, so that no human is reading your correspondence or web traffic, but as you start researching nuclear weapons and making plans on how to murder a million people, and start making those transactions, all this starts adding up and, to quote the Constitution, its tools can receive instructions "particularly describing the place to be searched, and things to be seized", so that after such a report, its perpetrator can be found, or at least enough information can be collected to stop it if it is actually taking place?

I think that all of us here could be okay with being stopped at some point between purchasing a hundred million dollars in anonymous currency, and detonating a nuclear bomb. It's sensible. That can be part of the social contract.

It's difficult. Nobody wants to live with a judge, jury, and executioner in their home looking at everything they are doing in case they break some law.

I am glad that I personally don't have to answer these questions. But we can all agree on the need for privacy (no human looks at what you're doing), and also on the reasonableness, as each individual online progresses toward infinite personal power, for protecting the rest of society from credible and immediate, specific threats.

I agree with cryptographers who think of cryptography as a tool that is either working or broken. (If it has a back door, it's 'broken').

Perhaps if tools included a certain portion that runs locally they could increase the extent to which the tools are not actually 'broken' (i.e. they are actually working, and actually not backdoored), while also increasing the safety every single person has from other individuals being able to plan or pay for their specific death anonymously, and with impunity.

I realize that my suggestions here are not specific enough to be actionable, they are not clear recommendations. But I don't even see these possibilities being discussed (at least publicly), so I wanted to at least move the conversation a bit in this direction.

EDIT:

---

I'm getting downvoted pretty heavily. Let me ask point-blank: are you okay with someone being able to spend two weeks on the dark-web researching how to make and detonate a bomb using totally innocent chemical purchases, and then your spouse, parents, relatives, or you, being an innocent victim of my exploding the results, or would you want that person to be stopped at some point after they started doing that? The future of information is that it is ubiquitous and easy to access[I edited this paragraph edited from first to third person.]

Actually secure communications would mean that it is technically impossible to see if someone has started communicating with people at ISIS who have overseen and helped people explode themselves. I am not saying communication should be weak and insecure, but should I really practically be able to start doing that if I want?

This is not some kind of false example, either.

Also, for downvoters: I think it is easier for you to agree with the other half of my statement, that nobody should be looking at our web traffic and correspondence, and that it should be actually secure, and also actually private.

5
Your own company? You can do it (2011) jacquesmattheij.com
679 points by oliv__  2 days ago   358 comments top 36
1
apatters 1 day ago 5 replies      
To anyone considering starting a business I would recommend reading a book called "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber. It's 20 years old, but it discusses one point in particular which I think is particularly relevant for HN's audience. Many people who go into business fail because they operate the business with the mindset of a "technician" -- someone who is very good at a particular skill, and enjoys and prioritizes performing that skill.

The abilities of a technician can be very valuable to a business, but especially as it begins to scale the owner/operator(s) need to adopt different mindsets in order to succeed. In short, if you don't like the idea of spending most of your time on business or marketing stuff, you should find someone who can handle those, or perhaps be a solo consultant/contractor. (I think this is a large part of why YC encourages cofounders so much.)

Exceptions certainly exist--there was a time when tech was a magical world and you could do magic things just by being an expert engineer--but increasingly I feel they are getting rarer.

2
raarts 1 day ago 3 replies      
For comparison: same Amsterdam, about the same timeframe. No drive to start my own business (initially!), because didn't even know that was possible for regular people.

Started out when I was eight, I got into electronics. Read all magazines, learned myself how to design electronic circuits from library books. Kept my own, hand written, library card system describing the specs of all transistors, ICs I could get my hands on. Designed/built and repaired devices for other people who paid me for the materials and for my trouble. I was 15. When I was 18 I went to university, switched majors multiple times.

And then the Dutch electronics magazine published the Junior computer, based on the 6502. I spent all my money on it, and learned assembler by inputting hex numbers. After that came the MSX computer (I disassembled the BASIC interpreter to grok how it worked) and I started searching for programmers jobs.

Found a job at KLM where I got out top of the class and entered a special called SMART. For special internal projects. All of us programmed in IBM S370 assembler, they tested C but it was too slow.

I was 25 by then. The following years went downhill. In IT. I changed jobs multiple times, but the companies kept going out of business. I was flabbergasted at the amount of incompetence I saw in salespeople and at C-level. I had no idea, coming from a blue collar background.

Side note: in 4 years I had 9 CEOs, 8 of which left their wife for their secretary in the time I worked there! I had a lot of respect for the 9th until I found out a couple of years later he'd done the same after I left.

So I decided why not start my own business i was capable of going bust as well couldn't do worse as those guys. So I started the first commercial ISP in the NL. One thing led to another and many companies later I now pulled out of most and again starting as a founder and learning all the new hot technologies.

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patryn20 1 day ago 15 replies      
I've done my own thing since high school with the exception of two years in offices (one as W2 and one as part time 1099). I'm now 35 and experiencing health issues and discovering that unless you earn "f$&! you money" group health insurance in the US is worth at least $75k a year in income. At least.

If you aren't in a country with proper healthcare and are not earning AT LEAST $300k USD a year (consistently), understand that all your years of work can be destroyed by one diagnosis. And plan accordingly.

I love my life. I've had a charmed existence moving to wonderful locales and doing what I wanted when I wanted; but the genetic lottery cannot be outwitted. You can be healthy one day and in debt the next.

Plan accordingly. Don't let youth and good health lull you into complacency.

It's completely possible and attainable for software developers to be independent anywhere on the globe, but understand the potential financial implications and limitations of the social safety nets of your country of citizenship/residence. Plan accordingly.

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encoderer 2 days ago 2 replies      
My POV:

1) You can keep your job. Just always build things on the side. It keeps you coding for play and not just for work.

2) Try to sell the things you build. You don't need to be fully polished on day one. In fact, you shouldn't be and can't be because you need real customers to really understand their needs.

3) you can find the numbers online, but my saas project Cronitor had just $500mrr after seven months. You need patience and to adjust your work factor to match the available outputs. By letting it coast a bit while it picked up momentum we prevented burnout. When it started to grow faster we could pour some attention in and level up the product.

4) grow it while you work your day job. This is easy at first and grows harder. Having a partner is important here. Alternative: a business where a little downtime is not a big deal.

5) when it gets stressful, know your commitments. Your day job gets first bite and when you can't do that anymore you know it's time to move on and do it full time.

Most importantly the tldr is: quit your job after you've replaced most of your salary. And before you quit enjoy the incremental income.

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ryandrake 2 days ago 11 replies      
So many "how I did my own thing" stories out there remind me of that old "How To Draw An Owl" meme[1]. It's always: 1. I quit my job one day and decided to [do a startup | independently contract] 2. Fast forward a few years and [I sold to Google! | I've got 5 contracts and I set my own schedule!] I mean, great work, and congratulations, but I think you skipped a few steps there.

1: http://i1.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/000/572/078/d6d...

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dharma1 1 day ago 0 replies      
"My first freelance job I got by accident. I was walking home one night in Amsterdam and two guys were lugging an Apple II from a car in to a house. Being of a curious nature I asked what they were doing (it looked rather suspicious!) and they said building an eye tracker. Whats that? I asked. Come along and see. Stuff like that happens in Amsterdam in the middle of the night."

"Ok, Im going to send you on this course, its a 20,000 guilder expense on my side. If you let me down, youre out and I never ever want to see you again, if you pass the examination at the end youve got a job as a junior programmer."

Stuff like this can make a world of difference to the trajectory a young person's life takes. Much respect to people who are open and inclusive like this

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thesagan 2 days ago 3 replies      
This works if you're young (health insurance is expensive, working/traveling away from family), have resources (for those unexpected expenses, and the slow payers), and are able to take your work with you on vacation (important customers need service); but for the vast majority of professionals it's just not possible any more, without significant financial support starting out.

You need a good chunk of capital to survive the first few years, before you even think about expanding. (Which, when it's time, you must do, or risk shrinking into oblivion. And not everybody is able and willing to expand forever. I wasn't.)

Just sharing my own little caveat; otherwise I think starting your own firm/consultancy is fantastic.

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Tade0 2 days ago 3 replies      
"When I was 17 and a high school drop-out I went to work for a bank."Last time this was possible it was the early 90's maybe.
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axonic 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Seriously, go run an Eve Online player corporation. Try setting up a persistent chat server, wiki, etc. for the corp and securing it. Try managing players in fleets from several time zones and scheduling engagements and operations. This is analogous to setting up collaboration infrastructure for remote teams in development settings, as well as scheduling for international workers, wrangling cats, and you will be fully qualified to wrestle Mongolian Tigers. These players are volunteers, which is synonymous with the real meaning of "employee" held by some of the people you may work with. Loosely held by honor, perhaps loyal based on their relationship with the organization, some are hard workers and motivated, others require a leader or mentor be assigned to them. Once your eyes bleed and you wish for death every night for ever deciding to be in charge, try also making it profitable. Use your knowledge of business practices to balance the corp accounts, make good deals, and save money where you can to be able to pay dividends to members of the corp. If you really want to do a "dry run" to test your mettle, that is one way. I'm not saying this will make you CEO of Intel material but you'll at least have the confidence to proceed and have some idea of what the minefield really looks like so you don't jump on every one.
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taysic 1 day ago 2 replies      
I agree with a lot of this though my journey has been really different. Running a business didn't interest me for a long time - then I realized I felt I was very skilled and I was just tired of working in the industry. So I came up with side projects on my free time. I think everyone has their own non-linear journey on how they get there.

The biggest thing I have learned so far is it's really not about "hard work". Imo, its much more about how well you balance work and life. Are you on an unsustainable path or are you on a sustainable one? Are you enjoying what you are doing? This is critical. Are you genuinely eager to work on it and can you sustain that after one year? If so, you're highly likely to succeed in my opinion. If you believe in it, and love what you're working on, it's very likely there are other people out there who do too.

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linker3000 1 day ago 2 replies      
Did it (in the UK). Started a sole consultancy, grew it into a training and courseware business employing around 10 people. Formalised what was previously an ad-hoc partnership with a US-based organisation into a franchise-type contract in exchange for a five-figure marketing kickstart from them, and tooled up (software and people) for a 'letter of intent' long-term joint contract with the US military in the UK for technical and personnel training, then found out that despite a written agreement, they were poaching our business in the UK. We started talking to them, they said we could forget the funding. We were small, they were corporate and basically told us to fuck off and sue if we had the cash to carry it through.

Had to fold the business. Nearly lost my house and marriage. This was in the late 1990s.

For every story, there's an equal and opposite one.

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IceDane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I appreciate the sentiment of this article, but for the most part it kind of comes off as a bunch of stuff about him tooting his own horn(handwritten assembler, editor light years ahead of anything else, etc), and then a single paragraph about how he started a business. Not really useful advice.
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gameshot911 2 days ago 1 reply      
Worth noting that the guy backed up all his passion with hard work. Just telling someone to "go for it" isn't worth much if they don't have the fire (or the potential for one) already within.
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sqldba 2 days ago 2 replies      
All I read was the article, "How I started my own company 30 years ago during the computer boom". I'm eagerly awaiting part 2 which is how this is even remotely relevant today when programming isn't a secret skill anymore.
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carsongross 2 days ago 1 reply      
There's a lot of survival bias, self-marketing and old economy steve in this post.

Statistically, you can't do it, and you'll waste a lot of time, money and prime earning years figuring that out. That's not to say you shouldn't try, but only to say you should be realistic about what you are likely sacrificing for that small chance of success.

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theparanoid 2 days ago 1 reply      
I freelance part-time and actually enjoy life. It's not difficult, with remote work, to make Silicon Valley wages and pay cheap housing.
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lazyjones 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a huge difference between "your own company" (freelancing) and "your own company with employees" though. The former is very easy and pretty much for everyone who can run a single household in a developed, bureaucratic country, the latter is much more demanding and requires certain personality traits that need to be present (in yourself or a co-founder).
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myth_buster 2 days ago 0 replies      
I agree with the sentiment and appreciate the motivation, but...

> If a high school drop-out with nothing but a typing diploma could do it, so can you. Now go do it.

this is not representative. From the reading you seem to be "smart" too apart from hard working. =D

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graycat 2 days ago 0 replies      
> "Your own company? You can do it"

In general, of course. In some specific cases, maybe not.

For you to have a job by being hired by an employer, someone else has to create that job. In the private sector, usually someone has to start and own a company, make it successful, and generate enough free cash to pay you.

So, if you are looking for a job at all, you are essentially admitting that it's possible, reasonable, common, doable, etc. to start and own a company and make it successful.

So, why not you? That is, if you want job, especially a good job, then consider creating that job for yourself.

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JokerDan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love to start up my own business, I am extremely hard working and dedicated, even in my every-day 9-5 which I end up doing like 8-6 and working weekends. I enjoy working, as a software dev and at 23 years old I have a fair bit of time ahead of me. My biggest downside is I lack the confidence, I have a bunch of ideas but then I decide, "It won't go anywhere";"I can't do that";"As if people would even bother with this"... I see so many things that could be so much better every day. How do I get past these barriers? Do I just run with an idea and even if it fails, oh well, move on?
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Grustaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a very impressive and inspiring story, but I think the title is misleading. You're clearly much more talented and/or hard working than most readers, and you also had the advantage of being one of very few programmers in a time when the need was increasing rapidly.
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jandrewrogers 2 days ago 0 replies      
This sounds astonishingly similar to how I got into the business. Great story. You can go a very long way as a scrapper with little to lose and a bit of talent.
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tomrod 2 days ago 0 replies      
I want to do it. I'm just not sure what problem to solve, or how to broadcast my skillset. I welcome suggestions!
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LordHumungous 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice to see some positivity on this topic. Yes, starting a company is hard. No it's not for everyone. That doesn't mean it can't be done.
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more_corn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just started my own company. I'm a bit worried that nobody will come. I'm offering contract Dev/Ops work. (I did DevOps at YouTube for 8 years, spent 2 years building AWS infrastructure for a startup)

I'm certain companies could benefit immensely by contracting with someone to help improve their Ops game, but I'm that awkward stage where I'm not 100% sure anyone will request my services.Wish me luck!

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rkunnamp 1 day ago 0 replies      
One thing that I want to remind everyone reading this, including myself is a thought from "Forrest Gump"

"I don't know if we each have a destiny,............or if we're all just floating around......accidental-like on a breeze.........But I think,......maybe it's both" - Do we have defined destiny? or Can we influence the destiny with our actions? The answer is not black and white.

Life is like that, it is part luck and part hard work/smart work. The context, the skill set etc is entirely different for every single individual. So you can't really learn much from patterns.

On an ending note-"- Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you're gonna be?-Who I'm gonna be?............. Yeah. .................Aren't I going to be me? "

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mshrewd 1 day ago 0 replies      
I won a boilerplate (ycombinator copycat) competition last year and it's helped me a lot in some ways. It was also kinda stupid.

I mean, my teammates all quit as soon as they realized how much hard work a startup requires... Life lesson!

And, in actuality I haven't made much progress toward an actual company. but, I mean, this has been pretty great in some ways. Best part is my mentor was an expert in my field (automation, robots, etc.) and has really had a lot of fantastic input for me.

My key takeaway from the competition? Don't try to build a start up on your own. You really MUST have a strong team backing you up.

I'm probably going to crumple up this owl and start another one soon. Most importantly if you want to get good at drawing owls, you have to love drawing.

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therealmarv 1 day ago 0 replies      
I agree. But this were different times. Nowadays competition and requirements (especially looking at good companies in e.g. Germany) are much higher in IT. Beeing a lateral entrant is (and will always be) possible but it is much much harder.
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realPubkey 2 days ago 9 replies      
Of you live in germany: don't do it, the bourecraty will kill you with a 360 no-scope.
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accountyaccount 2 days ago 0 replies      
also helps to have a big ol' safety net
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hellofunk 1 day ago 0 replies      
I must admit that I am getting a bit worse for wear from reading lots of self-congratulatory blog posts by software developers (and in other fields too), where they craft a very curated set of words to highlight the most attractive qualities of their life. Perhaps I am being bitter, but it just seems strange to me to have a personal website where you aggrandize yourself through the brief filter of a few paragraphs that I think ultimately exist to serve an ego.
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wincen 2 days ago 1 reply      
What about health insurance for those of us in the USA?
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stretchwithme 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great story.
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jt2190 1 day ago 0 replies      
(2011)
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Adam89 2 days ago 1 reply      
You sir were not talented at all, but instead you were a very hard worker, kudos
6
Georgia Tech's free math textbook collective gatech.edu
765 points by ColinWright  1 day ago   72 comments top 18
1
kaitai 1 day ago 2 replies      
There's a huge ecosystem of open textbooks, and two of my favorite math sources the AIM textbook initiative and the UMN open texts library.

American Institute of Mathematics Open Textbook Initiative -- note that they review the texts too and are a bit picky about what they list: https://aimath.org/textbooks/

More than just math: University of Minnesota open textbook initiative. Stats, CS, and humanities as well: https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/

Not a repository, but an individual free/open math text under development -- comments and feedback desired: https://www.softcover.io/read/bf34ea25/math_for_finance It starts with elementary probability and then combines probability and stats with linear algebra, multivariable calculus, and differential equations. Aimed at folks who have seen the math before but need a refresher and a viewpoint that unifies seemingly disparate topics. Note that it uses Softcover, a great way to publish technical texts to several formats at once.

2
mindcrime 1 day ago 3 replies      
Sadly, it seems that Professor Cain (the editor of this page) passed away in 2015[1]. The page had disappeared from the gatech.edu servers at one point, and I was afraid that without Professor Cain's presence, it might not ever be restored. Happy to see that it's online again.

[1]: http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.a...

3
hesdeadjim 1 day ago 8 replies      
This is awesome. At some point in the next five years I plan on taking a sabbatical and focusing almost exclusively on redoing my math education and moving deeper into advanced topics than I did as an undergraduate.

Is there anyone who has done something similar who might share some suggestions for success?

4
theCricketer 1 day ago 3 replies      
If you find it easier to keep at it and learn from lecture videos instead of from textbooks, here's a math curriculum of lecture videos I've curated. This covers calculus, linear algebra, probability, statistics, convex optimization and a math for ML course thrown in for the HN audience:

Calculus Revisited: Single Variable Calculus | MIT https://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-18-006-calculus-revisited-...

Calculus Revisited: Multivariable Calculus | MIT https://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-18-007-calculus-revisited-...

Complex Variables, Differential Equations, and Linear Algebra | MIT https://ocw.mit.edu/resources/res-18-008-calculus-revisited-...

Linear Algebra | MIT - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK3O402wf1c&list=PLE7DDD9101...

Introduction to Linear Dynamical Systems |Stanford https://see.stanford.edu/Course/EE263

Probability | Harvard https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2SOU6wwxB0uwwH80KTQ6...

Intermediate Statistics | CMU https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLcW8xNfZoh7eI7KSWneVW...

Convex Optimization I | Stanford https://see.stanford.edu/Course/EE364A

Math Background for ML | CMU https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7y-1rk2cCsA339crwXMW...

5
cr0sh 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Fellow HN readers, I humbly ask for some advice:

I'm currently working through Udacity's Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree; if everything goes well, I should be heading into Term 3 soon.

What is painfully known to me, before I started this course and now in the middle of it - is my lack of certain education in mathematics.

Particularly that of stats/probability - but lately understanding the basics of calculus, namely that of derivatives and integrals. So I would like some assistance - namely, what are your suggestions for me to remedy this, after I finish the Nanodegree?

My thoughts have been to take a reprieve from coursework, then maybe next year launch into something more. Maybe more MOOCs or other online course or resources (like these books) geared toward learning this material. Or perhaps taking a course or two at a local community college? Perhaps I could audit a local (ASU West here in Arizona would be closest) mathematics course? Or maybe do some other kind of formal online study (I have considered getting a BS then an MS via an online school).

I seem to do alright with MOOCs "at my own pace" - but I also do well in a more structured system, with a set syllabus, schedule, and testing.

I just want to see what others think might be the best approach, in order to assist my decision in the future. Thank you all for any suggestions and such.

6
Zhenya 1 day ago 4 replies      
Where was this when I was an undergrad at GaTech?

I'll never forget how the math professors would switch from edition x to edition x+1 with the only clearly visible difference being the homework assignment questions.

I truly hope that this is not just a trove of books, but also a signaling of the change in culture from opportunism at the expense of the students to openness.

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tzs 1 day ago 2 replies      
Some of these look pretty good, although the selection is rather limited. For those willing to pay a little to get a bigger selection there is a nice alternative between "free" and the insanity that is the pricing of most textbooks today.

That alternative is the books published or republished by Dover publications. They like to take older textbooks and purchase rights to republish them as relatively inexpensive paperback editions. A very large fraction of their books are under $20, with many under $12. A few are more expensive, but only rarely more than $30.

The level ranges from suitable for high school students to graduate level and beyond.

Here's their mathematics section: http://store.doverpublications.com/by-subject-mathematics.ht...

Don't overlook the "general" subcategory. They have some wonderful problem books there, such as Yaglom and Yaglom's "Challenging Mathematical Problems With Elementary Solutions" series.

They also do this for physics, chemistry, engineering, history, economics, computer science, biology, earth science and more.

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gtani 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's a subreddit for locating more: https://www.reddit.com/r/mathbooks/

___________________

This list's a couple years old, for machine learning, including basic lin.alg, prob/stats: https://www.reddit.com/r/MachineLearning/comments/1jeawf/mac...

Since then,

- Deep learning book by Goodfellow et al,http://www.deeplearningbook.org/ (the one by Michael Nielsen is good as well)

- Foundations, excellent text: http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/~shais/UnderstandingMachineLearning... Shalev-Shwartz, Ben-David

- https://www.cs.cornell.edu/jeh/bookMay2015.pdf, Blum, Hopcroft, Kannan, probably an older version

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gfredtech 1 day ago 4 replies      
I'm a high school graduate (2016, took a gap year) and I've been lurking on HN for almost a year in my free time. All the folks on here have really piqued my interest for math (I hear terms like category theory and abstract algebra being thrown around) and CS theory. If there's anything I'm thankful for from this community it's this thing. However I cannot bring myself to tackle such topics(because I feel that I'm not armed enough to learn them). How do you think I can overcome that?
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forkandwait 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not free but cheap and great, David Morin book on classical mechanics: https://www.physics.harvard.edu/node/386
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BenTheElder 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is one I remember using that I didn't see on there:

Professors William T. Trotter [1] and Mitchel T. Keller [2] Applied Combinatorics [3,4]

[1] http://people.math.gatech.edu/~trotter/

[2] http://rellek.net/home/

[3] http://rellek.net/book/app-comb.html

[4] https://people.math.gatech.edu/~trotter/book.pdf

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mhh__ 1 day ago 0 replies      
This (http://insti.physics.sunysb.edu/~siegel/errata.shtml) is a free (As in Beer and also possibly speech) field theory textbook. So far it's pretty good.

I can't comment on the deeper parts of the book, because I don't get it yet (I don't really have the time atm to slog through a 900 page book, as much as I'd love to)

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test6554 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This would be a much better resource if it was in tabular format (Title, Author, Description)
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stablemap 1 day ago 1 reply      
The AMS is trying its hand at curation as well. The project shifts some of the work onto authors and seems most useful for undergraduate subjects at the moment, but the names behind it should help.

https://www.ams.org/open-math-notes

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ice109 1 day ago 1 reply      
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aswanson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why is it so hard to have everything in a single pdf?
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jeena 22 hours ago 1 reply      
God damn it, every time I hear Georgia I thing of the country nearby Russia and then after some time I remember that there is a state in th US which is called the same too.
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Entangled 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wish they were a single html file, with nice typography and plenty of margins.
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If you cant explain something in simple terms, you dont understand it kottke.org
513 points by daschaefer  4 days ago   227 comments top 71
1
freddref 4 days ago 13 replies      
Feynman also said:

"Hell, if I could explain it to the average person, it wouldn't have been worth the Nobel prize." [1]

Showing a limitation of the maxim or Feynman's hubris?

[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman

2
ivanbakel 4 days ago 9 replies      
The problem I find with this outlook is that it takes technical terms being jargon at face value. If you can't fall back on progress in language which allows you to express more complex ideas, you're not going to reach the same depth of understanding in simpler words without it taking a lot longer anyways - with most of your time spent reestablishing what you just threw out the window.

If you rehash it in smaller words, just by information density alone, aren't you guaranteed to be losing some detail?

3
jknoepfler 4 days ago 18 replies      
This strikes me as raw arrogance. Complexity is intrinsic to many systems that are subject of expert study. To tell someone who has devoted their career to understanding a complex topic that they don't understand their subject because they can't express it in layman's terms without doing terrible violence to the underlying phenomenon is ludicrous.

This is the sort of thing you'd believe if you were an arrogant 20-something who thought they could learn any subject in a few hours, cushioned thoroughly by the illusion of understanding.

"Oh yeah, I understand the mechanisms of human vision. It's just rods and cones."

"I understand the causes of the American revolution. It was just people protecting their property."

"I understand Joyce's Ulysses. It's just follows three people from Dublin over a single day. I read the Cliffs notes."

"I understand why coffee makes me alert. It's just blocking some brain things that make you sleepy."

Now, I will agree that if you don't know how to break interactions down into teachable parts, you will probably have trouble as an engineer or scientist both advancing your own knowledge and introducing people to the field. But to suggest that your understanding of a subject hinges on being able to deliver an explanation in simple terms is just silly.

4
jancsika 4 days ago 0 replies      
This Feynman quote from the article is put in the wrong context:

> I really cant do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else youre more familiar with, because I dont understand it in terms of anything else youre more familiar with.

The article implies this is a case of the scientist expressing that he didn't understand a thing. But watching the video in full[1], one realizes he is saying something different:

"It's a force which is present all the time and very common and is a basic force.

[...]

I can't explain that attraction in terms of anything else that's familiar to you. For example if we say that magnets attract like as if they are connected by rubber bands I would be cheating you because they're not connected by rubber bands-- I should be in trouble if you soon ask me about the nature of the band. And secondly, if you were curious enough you would ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again, and I would end up explaining that in terms of electrical forces which are the very things that I'm trying to use the rubber bands to explain. So I have cheated very badly, you see."

In other words, for some phenomena the only simple examples are themselves instances of that same phenomena. So the only possible analogies are themselves merely tautologies.

I've noticed something less sweeping though similarly absurd with the internet. As more and more of people's daily lives depend on internet technologies, it becomes more difficult to find modern, simple examples for analogies that don't rely on similar internet technologies. So someone who wants to explain the wonders of packet switching compares it to long-distance telephone calls, but they then spend the bulk of that time explaining long-distance phone calls to people who have never used a wired phone.

1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM

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ChuckMcM 4 days ago 1 reply      
"What I cannot create, I do not understand."

This actually came up for me at the office. I was asking a bunch of questions about the Z transform and the Fast Fourier Transform. The person I was talking to said, "Hey, just call the function in MATLAB, it doesn't matter how it works, just that you understand what it is saying."

All of my life I have rebelled at this notion. My earliest recollection of running into it was when I was in grade school and took apart three wind up alarm clocks, each more carefully than the one previously. My Mom was curious what I was looking for and I told her, "How does a clock know how long one second is?" She didn't know, and I didn't know, and while I had mastered using a clock and accepting that it would go off when I set it to go off, I didn't really "know" how a clock worked until I had taken apart and identified, (and modified to validate the identification :), the escapement.

6
NumberSix 4 days ago 3 replies      
This is Feynman from the introduction to his Feynman Lectures on Physics:

The question, of course, is how well this experiment has succeeded. My own point of view which, however, does not seem to be shared by most of the people who worked with the students is pessimistic. I dont think I did very well by the students. When I look at the way the majority of the students handled the problems on the examinations, I think the system is a failure. Of course, my friends point out to me that there were one or two dozen students who very surprisingly understood almost everything in all of the lectures, and who were quite active in working with the material and worrying about the many points in an excited and interested way. These people have now, I believe, a first rate background in physics and they are, after all, the ones I was trying to get at. But then, The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous. (Gibbon)

Richard P. Feynman, 1963

http://feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_91.html

Note that by his own account, most of his students did not do well. James Gleick's biography of Feynman, Genius, has a longer discussion of the disappointing results of his lectures to undergraduates at Caltech, many of whom reportedly stopped attending the lectures as they were not getting anything useful out of them.

That Feynman in fact had difficulty explaining freshman physics to the highly qualified students at Caltech surely does not indicate he did not understand freshman physics.

Some topics are simply very complex. It is not clear that they can always be conveyed in simple terms. In some cases, a "big picture" explanation may be possible but the details remain complicated. In some cases, a hand-waving analogy to some everyday phenomenon may create the illusion of understanding but be misleading or wrong.

To give a specific modern example, a state of the art video codec such as H.264 is extremely complex, built of many complicated components and sub-algorithms. While it may be possible to explain the big picture in relatively simple terms, the detailed implementation and operation is not simple. The inability of someone who creates or implements a video codec to explain it in simple terms to a layman is not an indication that they do not understand it.

7
mikebenfield 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think this idea is basically nonsense. Some things are complicated. To "explain" them in simple terms you necessarily leave out a lot of information. If all that information isn't crucial to the core idea, maybe that's worthwhile. But sometimes that information is crucial.

Some people look at advanced mathematics or physics and wonder why it has to be so complicated and so full of jargon. It's complicated because it is. The jargon, believe it or not, is mostly an attempt to make it easier to communicate. It would be very, very difficult to wade through these ideas without introducing new words with precise definitions.

Then again, John von Neumann said, "In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them." So maybe the title is true for trivial reasons after all.

8
bo1024 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm in academia and get to listen to and interact with extremely smart people who are experts in their subject. This quote really hits home for me.

I'm not saying I'll take it as literally true in every situation. But what I love about the quote is that it sets the bar for "understanding" very high.

People sell themselves short on understanding - they reach a certain level and are satisfied that they understand something, when there is actually much deeper understanding to be had. For example, being able to write a proof of a theorem can be very far from understanding why it's true, but even mathematicians sometimes pretend it's the same.

So I like that this quote challenges us to understand things more deeply. And more often than not, I find it rings true.

(A basic example coming to mind is the determinant of a matrix. Can be explained in simple terms to children (at least the key idea), or in confusing terms to freshman linear algebra students....)

9
makecheck 4 days ago 2 replies      
It's not realistic to expect this. If everything could be simplified to this degree, you would never need experts.

It is also dangerous to assume this, because that is exactly how we reached the "my uninformed opinion is as valid as your years of experience" aspect of the current political climate. NO, things are NOT as simple as you think they are just because you saw it in the space of a tweet!

On the other hand, it is important to recognize expertise over bullshit. The easiest defense is having several experts, since at a certain point they would need to do an awful lot of collusion to just make things up between them (i.e. if enough of them agree then what they say is apparently correct).

10
startupdiscuss 4 days ago 2 replies      
This is generally true but I will add one wrinkle.

And there are three kinds of explanation:

1. visual

2. mathematical

3. linguistic

So sometimes, you understand something visually, or mathematically, but you are forced to put it into verbal terms (say, over a text only channel, or voice), and then you may seem not to be able to explain it even though you understand it.

11
marknadal 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ah, I love Feynman. I see some other people in this thread arguing against even bothering to do this, which is sad.

We've started doing Explorable Explanations / Animated Explainers, here are some we've done and some that others have done:

- Explaining how GIT works: http://gun.js.org/explainers/school/class.html

- How neurons work: http://ncase.me/neurons/

- How end-to-end cryptography works: http://gun.js.org/explainers/data/security.html

- How gerrymandering works: http://polytrope.com/district/ (by a friend of mine!)

- How sorting on partial data / data streams works: http://gun.js.org/explainers/basketball/basketball.html

And more! It is possible, it can be done. But it is hard. That is no excuse for not trying though. Big shout out to Bret Victor's work for starting a lot of this, and thanks to Feynman for encouraging and practicing what he teaches.

12
SiVal 4 days ago 1 reply      
Understanding something is having a good working model stored the way brains store models, which is quite a complex network. Explaining it requires finding a way to serialize it that makes it as easy as possible for a listener to reconstruct the model in his own mind.

I think the effort involved in trying to come up with a serialization causes us to more carefully examine our models, which usually improves them.

But I don't think the lack of a good serialization implies the lack of a good model.

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aeturnum 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is broadly true, but not in the way a lot of other commentators mean.

Explaining something in simple terms does not mean you _fully_ explain it. You explain the essence (or what you see as the essence) of the thing. Google search is: you type a question into a box and Google shows you the best answer. Google search is a lot more than that, of course, but if you can't "boil it down" you don't understand it.

This is the top line of a git commit v.s. the comments you leave in the source code. You can spend months working on thousands of lines of code, bur if you can't describe it in a single sentence (while leaving a lot out!) it's a bad sign.

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scandox 4 days ago 1 reply      
In job interviews I always zone in on the most complicated thing someone has worked on and then ask them to explain it to me. Often a thesis or a project or a large system or something low level to do with OS features etc...

It is amazing how rarely people can get it across to me in basic terms. In fact even the idea of breaking it down into non technical concepts seems to be surprising and alien to many people.

I really admire those who can.

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mabbo 4 days ago 2 replies      
Edit: apparently, I have been misinformed for a very long time. These are still excellent lectures to watch though!

The Feynman Lectures are now on Youtube[0], and I like to watch them (all of them) every few years. I highly recommend that if you've never seen them, you take some time and watch them- really watch them. Close the other windows, turn your phone to do not disturb, and really watch these masterpieces of education.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3mhkYbznBk

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octref 4 days ago 2 replies      
Or to quote PG's Write Like You Talk[0]:

And in my experience, the harder the subject, the more informally experts speak. Partly, I think, because they have less to prove, and partly because the harder the ideas you're talking about, the less you can afford to let language get in the way.

Informal language is the athletic clothing of ideas.

[0]: http://www.paulgraham.com/talk.html

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rdlecler1 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nassim Taleb makes a convincing argument that you first understand something implicitly and then later it becomes formalized. I'm not sure I buy into the idea that people with great communication skills have privileged understanding. The underlying assumption here is that understanding is verbal. I reject that hypothesis.
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Animats 4 days ago 2 replies      
That works for physics, which seems to be parsimonious with its base concepts. The equations which define most of physics fit on one sheet of paper.

It doesn't work for biology, which is complicated at the bottom. Evolution doesn't have the parsimony of physics. Nor does it have to be understandable by humans.

Whether it works for software is a design issue. It's certainly possible to create software which cannot be explained simply.

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arto 4 days ago 0 replies      
Counterpoint from Feynman himself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO0r930Sn_8

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pwaivers 4 days ago 1 reply      
Being able to explain something in simple terms is actually REALLY difficult to do. It is a skill in itself. Someone can intuitively understand math very well, but lack the skill to explain it to someone else at all.
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mncharity 3 days ago 0 replies      
> If you cant explain something in simple terms, you dont understand it

And an underappreciated corollary is...

If you want something explained well in simple terms, you have to find someone who understands it deeply.

In the sciences, that means someone who has it as their research focus. Because as you move away from that focus, understanding rapidly becomes ramshackle. Leave someone's subfield, and you might as well be talking with a random graduate student (in that field). And that's hopeless.

Thus many research talks have videos and stories which would nice to have in a K-12 classroom. And most all K-12 education content is incoherent wretchedness.

An old essay of mine: "Scientific expertise is not broadly distributed - an underappreciated obstacle to creating better content" http://www.clarifyscience.info/part/MHjx6 In which a 5-year old with finger paints wants to paint the Sun, but encounters astronomy graduate students.

"I am sorry for the length of my letter, but I had not the time to write a short one." - Blaise Pascal 1657

There's a sad little genre of low-quality science education research that goes: "I tried to teach topic T to students of age A. I taught it <really really badly>. Surprisingly, that didn't work! I've reach the obvious conclusion: students of age A are developmentally unready to learn topic T."

But understanding, while necessary, is not sufficient. At PhD poster session practice, it's often remarkably hard to help candidates develop an "elevator pitch". To clearly understand the core of what they've spent the last n years working on. I'm still amazed by how often one gets something like "wow, now I can explain it to my parents".

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zerr 4 days ago 0 replies      
No. The teaching ability is a completely different dimension, orthogonal to other skills/knowledge you have.
23
taurath 4 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite corollary (attribution unknown) -

"But if you can ONLY explain something in simple terms, you still don't understand it"

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combatentropy 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this statement is a tautology. To understand something is to know it in simple terms. To understand something is to have mentally broken down a complex subject into its simpler pieces. For example, to understand a car engine is to take it apart in your head and know each part, how it moves, and what it does.

Many think they understand something, when really they only know how to use it. For example, I understand how to use a computer, but that doesn't mean I understand how a processor works at the level of registers and assembly language. So if I were to try to teach someone a computer, then I could say things like "Click that, and this will happen," or "Type such and such, and then this other thing you want will happen." But if anyone asked me about how that actually works, to follow all the way how a physical mouse-click gets transformed into a change in the window on the screen, then I couldn't. Or, even if I could, it might take me half an hour to explain it, depending on how much they want to know.

So maybe it's that we undestand things, but at different levels. Few people understand something at its deepest level. In fact, physicists would say no one does.

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CatMtKing 4 days ago 0 replies      
I practice taijiquan, a martial art. My teacher often describes concepts that I can relate to basic mechanics. When I do, it feels like I understand, but as my teacher says -- until you can actually express it with your body, you don't really understand.

For example, a lever seems conceptually simple, but to create a lever in the body is extraordinarily hard. The joints have to be solidly connected and free to open or close. The direction must be precise and rotation must not wobble. There are so many things that can err and lots of places for force to leak out.

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throw2016 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is eternal. The expert paves the way to understanding. Its only because of their expertise that they can simplify and explain it in a way that others can understand. They have a firm grasp of the concept. Understanding is not equal to expertise, just the first step.

I think there are too many times when people affect a tone of authority and expertise and hide their lack of understanding in verbiage and complexity while making excuses for their inability to explain it to the layman.

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sh87 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting logic fallacy here. Consider this example.

Monkey eat => Monkey live.

Monkey live => Monkey eat.

Monkey not eat => Monkey not live.

Monkey not live => Monkey not eat.

Here "=>" is used as in "implies"/"because". The last statement is weird. There are more ways for monkey to "not live" than to "not eat".

Not being able to explain does not imply not being able to understand. Not understanding surely implies not being able to explain.

Correlation, Causation, get it ?

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killjoywashere 4 days ago 0 replies      
The author is not a student of physics and didn't go through Feynman's lectures. Some of the stuff Feynman said may sound like the droll wisdom of an ancient wizard to laymen, but if you've studied physics, it sounds more like a fun introductory confection. The layman hears genius, a journeyman hears the chef's description of this evening's specials.
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moarrgan 4 days ago 0 replies      
I feel like a lot of the commenters here are making a false assumption, arguing "just because you can explain something in simple terms doesn't mean you understand it - look how much nuance and complexity gets lost!" That statement makes the assumption that you must explain the subject to another individual to the point where they understand that subject as well as you do. Well, obviously you are going to lose complexity, just on the basis of explaining something in simple terms. The point is that if you cannot distill something to its core ideas to the point where someone else will gain a basic understanding of that concept, then you do not understand what its core ideas are, and therefore do not understand the concept itself. No one is arguing that what took you 10 years and a PhD to understand is something you can explain "simply" to someone and they will emerge with the same level of understanding as you have. No, they will emerge with a basic understanding of that concept if you have explained it well.
30
olegkikin 4 days ago 0 replies      
That's just not true, it's confusing explanation and oversimplification. Many complex things require years of study just to understand that thing even in the most simple terms. Try and explain string theory to someone who has no idea of particle physics, colliders, quantum theory. At best you can make up some abstraction which doesn't explain anything.
31
simlevesque 4 days ago 1 reply      
In french we have a saying which translates to: whatever is well conceived is clearly said... and the words to say it flow with ease
32
jjguy 4 days ago 0 replies      
Einstein said it first:

If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/19421-if-you-can-t-explain-...

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nebulous1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think some people (even lots of people) are pretty bad at explaining things, even things they understand.
34
keithnz 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think you can't explain something in simple terms if you don't understand it, is true, but the other way around isn't entirely true, or at least it's a bit more fuzzy.

Often, it takes a lot of awareness of what are the common mental models / mental blocks other people have when learning the concept you are trying to communicate. You have to structure things as a series of strategic progressions before tackling the most complicated form of something, all of that is more the art of teaching ( which of course requires good understanding )

Of course, if someone can do that, it's a brilliant proof they do understand something.

If they can't do it, then it can leave you with doubt what someone else understands. Which in Apples case may be considered entirely unacceptable.

35
leepowers 4 days ago 0 replies      
Feynman is an outlier, a very rare talent that could handle very complex maths and also communicate these concepts in an approachable, charming, and laid-back style. This is an in-born talent and also a skill that can be taught. But communicating complex systems is a separate proficiency from understanding those systems.

The main issue when explaining concepts (especially maths concepts) is switching from one formal context to another, deciding what details to omit, and determining what rules in both contexts should be treated as analogous.

Think of a translator. He/she/it needs proficiency in two languages to do a proper translation. Lacking a second language precludes translation. But it doesn't affect mastery of your native tongue.

36
jondubois 3 days ago 0 replies      
The term "simple terms" is subjective and depends on who the audience is.

A popular question to qualify for engineering job interviews is "describe in simple terms what happens when a user accesses a website on the Internet" - The question doesn't give any info on who the target audience is so you never know what level of detail you're supposed to go into. Because this is an engineering question, I tend to go into more detail but after a certain level, you can't really keep it simple because the reader has to understand what things like cache are... Else you will spend 20 pages just writing definitions.

37
timoth3y 4 days ago 0 replies      
There is no reason to believe this statement is true, and the article doesnt even try to make a case for it. It feels like it should be true, but the discussion is really just asserting the statement.

Skeptic: I understand X. Ive spent years working on it, and Im recognized as an expert in the field. but I cant explain X in simple terms.

Believer: Well, then you obviously dont really understand it. Can you prove to me that you do"

Being able to explain things in simple terms is a skill in and of itself. Many people do not possess this particular skill, but that does not mean they are unable to understand any subject.

38
NicoJuicy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Simple trick, you don't have to explain everything and use similar things ( when possible) in layman context. Explaining only cause and affect without the method used can greatly simplify things when talking to non-programmers / non-technical people

Eg. IP = A address like your home address. So the internet knows where to search. We use zipcodes, the web uses numbers.

Then: I need to adjust a dns-record with our IP. Becomes, I will point the website to our address.

If it's not obvious, then all my previous clients are lying ( just mentioning it, cause it's possible)

39
CalChris 4 days ago 0 replies      
I interviewed a woman once who'd graduated from Caltech. She was massively overqualified and a fine fit. So about 10 minutes into the interview I started just having a nice conversation.

She'd gone to Caltech. That was on her resume. So I asked her if she'd ever taken a class from Feynmann. That was actually unlikely but she had sat in on a seminar with Feynmann once. She said he could explain the most difficult material and that you would understand it. You would understand it walking away and this would last about 15 minutes during which time you confuse yourself.

40
flavio81 4 days ago 0 replies      
In science and engineering, there are some things that can't just be explained in a small amount of simple words to laymen.

Sadly it's 2017 and the popularity of TEDTalks make the laymen think otherwise.

41
nroach 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like the sentiment behind this article, but simplification (like lossy compression) omits information for the cause of simplicity, leading to an incomplete understanding.

Take for example legal concepts like securities law or environmental regulation. Yes, you can "simplify" an explanation of the Securities Act or the Paris Accord enough to fit them into a tweet, but you lose information necessary to formulating a full understanding.

If you're trying to have an informed debate about policy adoption, the details matter.

42
peterwwillis 4 days ago 2 replies      
I can simplify how a car engine works, but that doesn't mean I understand how the air to fuel ratio is obtained.

Opposite example: Simplify how walking works, and make sure to include the critical systems such as major muscle groups, stabilizers, vision, inner ear, thigh/knee/pelvis/hip construction, the curved spine and its connection to the head, and blood pressure flow/regulation.

43
lngnmn 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is how to distinguish a cosplay of intelligence from true intelligence, among other things.

The Buddha and the Upanishadic seers were exceptionally good with explaining complex phenomena in simple terms.

Apparent sophistication is a sign of a confusion. Clarity is an evidence [of deep understanding].

Nature is vastly complex but not complicated (a few fundamental laws at work). Only simple things work.

44
wolco 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you can explain something in simple terms you may not understand the complex details.

If you hold a complex idea in your head translating that into English can be difficult because part of the process is removing/altering information to fit into existing notions. That is why buzzwords are popular they can take an idea and put it in a relatable concepts for the masses.

45
zobzu 4 days ago 0 replies      
"or you just don't have good communication skills"It's a classic fallacy. While it has some truth to it it's not the only single reason to decide if you understand the subject or not.

In fact, "if you make this fallacy, you're a terrible human being" (which is sarcasm here since this very statement includes the exact same fallacy)

46
jpmattia 4 days ago 0 replies      
If curious: This Feynman quote was more specifically about the spin-statistics theorem.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin%E2%80%93statistics_theore...

And to be fair, it's pretty rough sledding even when you understand the operators involved.

47
bryanrasmussen 4 days ago 1 reply      
Or maybe you are just a really bad communicator.
48
onikolas 3 days ago 0 replies      
Explaining something is compressing information and then transmitting it. As we know, there are limits to how much we can losslessly compress information.

So, no, you cannot explain everything in simple terms. But you can find sweet spots when trading brevity for accuracy.

49
littlestymaar 4 days ago 0 replies      
IMHO, this statement never hold for Maths : since all math reasoning is just the construction of a logical and symbolic proof based on a set of existing theorems and the underlying axioms, it requires the student to :

1. be familiar to the logical reasoning : what implies or even for any x means. 2. know the relevant set of theorem and axioms used in the demonstration.

You could probably illustrate what a mathematical result implies in some real-life example, but you won't be explaining it.

Quantum physics is a really good example of this, because it's not that difficult to understand if you look at it with the mathematical PoV : it's basically linear algebra in infinite dimension, you have vectors (in the space of functions of |R) and linear applications on these vectors (with all properties of such applications, like eigenvalues and eigenvectors), etc. But if you try to explain it in simple terms, you're going to distort the reality to fit in the macroscopic-scaled human representation of the world and you'll probably say things that won't be true.

50
jasonthevillain 4 days ago 0 replies      
Likewise, just because you can explain something in simple terms, doesn't mean you understand it.
51
hiq 3 days ago 0 replies      
A related maxim by Nicolas Boileau (1636 - 1711):

Whatever is well conceived is clearly said,And the words to say it flow with ease.

Ce que l'on conoit bien s'nonce clairement,Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisment.

52
naikrovek 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is so untrue. If true, beings that can't speak or write can never understand anything.

I understood very early in life that if I cried I would be hit. I couldn't talk, write, or communicate my understanding in any way, but I understood clearly.

53
blakesterz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Kottke's one of the very few blogs I've been reading for what seems like forever. He's still doing good work. Recently he's been trying membership, which I've not seen on a site like his anywhere else.
54
elnygren 4 days ago 0 replies      
"had I more time, I would've written a shorter letter".

Remember that "in simple terms" does not mean easy or over simplifying something. To me it means making a to-the-point and jargon-free explanation.

55
imjustsaying 4 days ago 1 reply      
So people who can't teach their own language to foreigners in simple terms don't understand their own language?

I've witnessed dozen of people try and spectacularly fail at teaching their own language.

56
Ngunyan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Really? In simple terms, explain how this works concisely.
57
draw_down 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think I've about gotten my fill of this piece of, uh, wisdom. It strikes me as one of those things that sounds good but is less relevant than we'd like to think.
58
blackkettle 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you don't understand something and/or cannot explain or describe it, should you believe it? I think this is a very difficult question.
59
stretchwithme 3 days ago 0 replies      
People know a lot of things they don't necessarily know how to explain. A lot of people don't know how to teach.
60
tutufan 4 days ago 2 replies      
Linear time suffix tree construction. You have 90 seconds. Go!

:-P

61
williamle8300 4 days ago 0 replies      
Person A: Trump is colluding with Russia...

Person B: How?

Person A: You're a dummy! There's mountains of evidence!

Person B: Like...

Person A: You're killing the vibe brah.

62
known 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself Albert Einstein
63
matthberg 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is part of the beauty of simple.wikipedia.org. It is not only a way for laymen to understand complicated things, yet proof of the research being an actual understanding of the concept.

In the words of the xkcd on the subject, (check the title text):

"Actually, I think if all higher math professors had to write for the Simple English Wikipedia for a year, we'd be in much better shape academically."https://xkcd.com/547/

64
barce 4 days ago 0 replies      
Another way of putting this is: If you can't use lego blocks to build something, then you don't understand it. But why would anyone want to recreate Shakespeare using lego blocks, or recreate a motorcycle using lego blocks? I'm sure a 5 year old would love it to pieces. I would rather make a reproduction of a motorcycle with real metal.
65
std_throwaway 4 days ago 0 replies      
Keep it as simple as possible but don't try to make it more simple than it actually is.
66
Tomminn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Corollary: All ideas worth understanding are simple.
67
cryptozeus 4 days ago 0 replies      
"What I cannot create, I do not understand"
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danmaz74 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ok, so nobody understands quantum physics...
69
chrisallick 4 days ago 1 reply      
Someone explain cryptocurrency!
70
twelvedogs 3 days ago 0 replies      
lol, apparently i don't understand anything
71
juandazapata 4 days ago 1 reply      
What is a monad?
8
Debian 9 Stretch released debian.org
589 points by OberstKrueger  2 days ago   158 comments top 28
1
lamby 1 day ago 5 replies      
Chris Lamb here, Debian Project Leader for 2017. Would love to get your feedback on the parallel "Ask HN" thread here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14579080

2
RJIb8RBYxzAMX9u 1 day ago 3 replies      
Don't forget to verify the install medium, which is a little more involved with Debian.

If you're already running a trusted Debian system, then install the debian-keyring package. Packages are signed and verified, so those keys don't need further verification.

Otherwise, fetch the keys in [0] with gpg:

 $ gpg --keyserver keyring.debian.org --recv-keys <...> # e.g. 0x6294BE9B
Then, verify the key's fingerprint with [0]:

 $ gpg --fingerprint
Unless you don't trust your CA, this is good enough.

Finally download the checksum and their signature files, and verify their signatures:

 $ gpg --verify <...> # e.g. SHA512SUMS.sign $ gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/debian-role-keys.gpg --verify <...> # if using debian-keyring package
[0] https://www.debian.org/CD/verify

3
wichert 1 day ago 1 reply      
As a former Debian Project Leader from many years ago: congratulations on another fine release!
4
TekMol 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have been running a little "Single Server LAMP Lifestyle Business" for 15 years now and it has been happily crunching away on rock solid Debian all the time :) All in all I spend a few hours per week on it and it pays all my bills. Thank you, Debian team!

From what I read [1] Debian 8 will be supported until April 2020 and Debian 9 until June 2022.

So in 2020 I will have to decide to either switch to Debian 9 or to Debian 10 which probably will be out by then. Is that correct? My feeling is that it might make things easier for me to skip Debian 9 and go directly with Debian 10.

I did the same with 7. My server used Debian 6 until I switched to Debian 8.

[1]: https://wiki.debian.org/LTS

5
rkv 1 day ago 1 reply      
One of my favorite changes:

> If you use debhelper/9.20151219 or newer in Debian, it will generate debug symbol packages (as <package>-dbgsym) for you with no additional changes to your source package. These packages are not available from the main archive. Please fetch these from debian-debug or snapshot.debian.org.

No more shipping -dbg packages with full binaries. And less storage space is always a win.

6
tlikonen 1 day ago 0 replies      
My favourite change is the transition to GnuPG 2.1 as the default /usr/bin/gpg. Particularly the "trust on first use" (TOFU) trust model is a really good improvement.
7
scrollaway 1 day ago 2 replies      
Finally! Been eagerly waiting for this. Congrats Debian team.

This is surprising though:

> Python 2.7.13 and 3.5.3

I thought 3.6 was in Stretch out of the box. Why 3.5 only (especially on a LTS)? :\

8
ClashTheBunny 1 day ago 4 replies      
It seems you have committed to supporting Python 2.7 for two years longer than official support. Could you comment on that situation?
9
emilsedgh 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'd like to know if the Linux server landscape is changing in favor of Debian due to Docker. It seems most popular packages are based on Debian.

Although Alpine Linux is my personal choice.

10
stephenr 1 day ago 0 replies      
As I mentioned yesterday on the "Upcoming" comment thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14574287), if you're looking to start using Stretch in your Vagrant dev environment, we're uploading AMD64 & i386 boxes for both VirtualBox and Parallels providers to Atlas as I type this. (If you're reading this soon, make sure it's v1.2.0, v1.1.0 is based on RC5 from a few days ago)

Edit: the uploads are complete, v1.2.0 of debian9-amd64 and debian9-i386 are released.

https://atlas.hashicorp.com/koalephant

If there is user demand for it, we can look into vmware boxes, and possibly hyper-v too.

Apologies if anyone feels this is off-topic/opportunistic - AFAIK all other Debian 9 boxes on Atlas target Virtualbox only, and while projects like Boxcutter (which we forked from) do support Parallels/etc, they aren't always the quickest to produce new boxes.

11
aorth 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nice! I see it's already available on Linode.
12
boondaburrah 1 day ago 2 replies      
Well, my Tangerine iMac will be sad to see debian support go.
13
forlorn 1 day ago 1 reply      
How long does it usually take for things to settle down in Testing after a stable release? I heard it might take up to several months.
14
hitlin37 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thanks a ton to the whole debian team. You do amazing job that keeps the modern computing running day and night.
15
blfr 1 day ago 3 replies      
Chromium 59.0.3071.86

How well is Chromium supported on Debian?

I like it as a secondary browser for its excellent support of multiple profiles but I run Ubuntu and had to switch to Chrome because Chromium doesn't seem to be updated promptly.

16
milankragujevic 1 day ago 4 replies      
Downloading it, does anyone know how does Debian work on a MacBook Air 7,2?
17
ausjke 1 day ago 0 replies      
I use debian mainly for servers. Tried Debian 9 this morning for desktop, do not like the hidden-by-default-activities UI, also D9 does not recognize my dual LCDs(Ubuntu has no issues with that), so it will be the same for me: All servers will be upgraded to Debian 9, Ubuntu LTS for the desktop, and ArchWiki for documentations. Good for now and Thanks for the new release.
18
mayhew 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've been running Stretch for 6 months and can't remember a single crash or issue. Amazingly stable release, kudos and thanks to everyone involved.
19
stevekemp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice to see this release; I'd already started upgrading some of my lightly-loaded servers over the past few weeks but the "real" ones will wait a little longer.

One thing that is new in this release is the availability of mod_http2, for Apache. I'm looking forward to seeing if that will increase the response-time of my various websites.

20
mlcdf 1 day ago 3 replies      
Firefox is back.

Me: Yay!

In version 45 (released on March 8, 2016)

Me: WTF.

21
tamalsaha001 1 day ago 0 replies      
Really looking forward to this release. We run Kubernetes with Debian 8. One of the big pain points has been needing to enable Docker memory accounting. I read that memory accounting will be enabled by default in Debian 9. Is that still the case?
22
shmerl 1 day ago 2 replies      
At last the freeze is over. It started to be a bit annoying to build Mesa from source when stuff like newer llvm and libdrm are hard to squeeze into frozen Debian testing.

I suppose the idea of reducing freeze time with "always releasable testing" didn't really work out (lack of resources?).

23
wvh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Happy to report I updated last week already and even my cubox-i (arm) booted just fine on first attempt. Thanks and congratulations!
24
partycoder 1 day ago 3 replies      
fyi Debian names their releases after Toy Story characters.

Sid (Debian unstable) is named after the guy that breaks the toys.

25
hitlin37 1 day ago 0 replies      
Anyone else tried to get debian running on Macbook pro late 2016?
26
donatj 1 day ago 5 replies      
Golang 1.7... 1.9 is due out soon. Sigh, this is why I end up installing things myself without a package manager.
27
ensiferum 1 day ago 0 replies      
Does it support USB yet? ;-)
28
rxlim 1 day ago 2 replies      
Congratulations. The return of Firefox branding makes me feel nostalgic. I remember using Firefox 1.04 on Debian in the early 00's. This was in the golden age of Firefox, when every new release was an improvement and it was a lean non-bloated alternative to other browsers.

In the past Debian was considered to be one of the most stable Linux distributions available. Stability and quality was a priority above anything else. However, around 2014 something changed when systemd was forced into Debian in a way that would never have happened before the new generation of developers took over the project.

Maybe this is just something we have to get used to, young developers seems to value ease above quality and stability, this also explains the current flood of Electron apps.

9
Tesla Autopilot tesla.com
443 points by chetangole  3 days ago   335 comments top 30
1
Animats 2 days ago 9 replies      
Watch this at 0.25x speed or slower to see what's going on. This is a carefully chosen environment. Every place it drives has very clear highway centerline markings. It seems to be highly dependent on those for guidance. Sometimes it can't quite identify the road edge, but the centerline provides a position reference.

The inputs seem to be road line recognition, optical flow for the road, and solid object recognition, all vision-driven. Object recognition is limited. It doesn't recognize traffic cones as obstacles, either on the road centerline or on the road edge. Nor does it seem to be aware of guard rails or bridge railings just outside the road edge. It probably can't drive around an obstacle; we never see it do that in the video.

This looks like lane following plus smart cruise control plus GPS-based route guidance. That's nice, but it's not good enough that you can go to sleep while it's driving.

2
adanto6840 2 days ago 7 replies      
This is quite interesting, I hadn't seen or heard about their intention to restrict like this, prior reading it tonight:

"Please note also that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year."

3
billhathaway 2 days ago 6 replies      
Tesla sent out an email today.

Autopilot UpdatesWe just released the latest version of Autopilot. You can now experience Enhanced Autopilot features including Traffic-Aware Cruise Control, Autosteer, Auto Lane Change, Parallel + Perpendicular Autopark, and Summon. Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward + Side Collision Warning, and more advanced safety features are also active and standard.

All Tesla vehicles have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. And Tesla vehicles continue to improve with over-the-air software updates, introducing new features and improving existing functionality to make your vehicle safer and more capable over time.

4
ilaksh 2 days ago 2 replies      
From this you can see, they are selling, and people are buying, a self-driving car.

My theory is still that the demo video is actually from Nvidia's SDK and the actual autopilot they deployed is totally different and not actually in the 'self-driving' category at all at this point.

But they are very aggressively rolling out updates and new features for more autonomy and yes they do intend to push for a complete door-to-door self-drive ASAP, ideally before the end of 2017 (at least as a new alpha version they can demo). Otherwise they would not sell it as such. But they do not plan to take another year to get there, based on Musk's tweets and the fact so many already paid extra for a full self-driving ability.

5
manav 2 days ago 2 replies      
I have an AP1 car and a AP2 loaner (for the last month). This is just reaching parity to AP1 autopilot capabilities. AP2 has been crippled since launch.

There a few new features that my AP1 might not have like Perpendicular Autopark, but I won't know till I get it back. From what it seems it's just gotten to the level that they were with with the previous generation that was developed by or in conjunction with MobilEye.

I think they will need a hardware revision for actual full self driving perhaps 2 years away.

6
pilif 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is an old microsite from last October. Most features listed on that page are not available in production (or at all).
7
EngineerBetter 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is not news. Current Tesla vehicles with Autopilot 2 hardware can do nowhere near this aspirational list. My AP2 Model X cannot even tell when to turn the windscreen wipers on.

This is a statement of intent, and production vehicles are a long way from having software that enables this.

8
jonah 2 days ago 0 replies      
"All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you dont say anything, the car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination or just home if nothing is on the calendar." -- that'll teach you to make sure your schedule is up-to-date!
9
madengr 2 days ago 4 replies      
Will I get a DUI if I'm drunk and my car drives me home? Say I'm in the back seat.
10
rvalue 2 days ago 4 replies      
I don't think these autopilot systems will work well in crowded cities or cities with poor infrastructure for roads.

The amount of objects for detecting and avoiding will be way too high.

The tests shows almost clear conditions for driving. This should be tested on streets of NY or a busy city like Mumbai

11
jshap70 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love watching videos like the one they have on there. theres something almost hypnotic about it
12
YeGoblynQueenne 2 days ago 2 replies      
Self-driving cars' marketing pitch is that they could reduce road accidents,but if we really want to reduce road accidents, might we not have a betterchance at it if we removed cars from roads altogether? We could replace themwith, I don't know, some kind of overground system of personal pods on rails,or something like that.

I think one big selling point of cars has always been that they grant the usera great amount of autonomy (unprecedented, in their time, taken for grantednowadays). You can ride your car and go anywhere you like! The cost of thatautonomy of course is that some of us will be killed or maimed in roadaccidents, because you can't give silly little monkeys autonomy behind thecontrols of big powerful machines without death and carnage ensuing.

Self-driving cars propose to reduce this risk of death and injury by takingaway the autonomy we traded it for in the first place. What remains would bejust a mindless automatic system carting the user to and fro. Well, in thatcase- we don't need to wait around for full level-5 autonomy. We already havedumb machines that can do that: trains, trams, all sorts of vehicles-on-rails.

Why do we need self-driving cars, then?

Answer: we don't. And I haven't for a moment believed that any of this isanything to do with road safety. Note that nobody even discusses the other 900pound gorilla in the room: pollution.

Guess what? Taking cars off roads completely would also reduce air and noisepollution tremendously.

13
SigmundA 2 days ago 1 reply      
Hopefully better than AP1: http://imgur.com/gallery/T5j32i9
14
_up 2 days ago 1 reply      
Autopilot for Batteries. What I wonder is, why isn't anyone building self driving batteries that park near the road and can follow you and give you more range if needed. They only would need to implement some kind of follow mode witch should be relatively easy. Cars could be build light and inexpensive and at the same time come with infinitive range.
15
redthrowaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
That car is driving oddly. It stopped for pedestrians who were on the sidewalk, and several times it stopped after making a turn. I could see that being really frustrating for other drivers and even dangerous if it's doing unpredictable things no human driver would do in those circumstances.
16
PinguTS 2 days ago 4 replies      
"All Tesla vehicles produced in our factory, including Model 3, have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver."

That claim is strong and false. What about Roadster and the old Model S with the old AP1 hardware?

17
make3 2 days ago 0 replies      
Tesla plans to restrict the use of their car AI when it is for uber-like uses to their own to-be-announced network! That's probably the biggest news here, for me at least! "Please note also that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year."
18
bshimmin 2 days ago 1 reply      
I love the idea of Smart Summon - it reminds me of one of the Assassin's Creed games where you would whistle and your horse would magically appear a moment or two later!
19
arikr 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Please note that Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction. It is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval.

I wonder what the current status is, both in terms of software validation, and regulatory approval.

20
BatFastard 2 days ago 0 replies      
No one seems to be commenting on the fact that they are doing this all with camera's and ultrasonic sensors. No LIDAR at all, which in the short term certainly provides for a better looking car. And considering the fact that it lowers the car price by a significant factor, seems like a pretty amazing thing!
21
Waterluvian 2 days ago 0 replies      
Progress will of course be incremental. But I think about the delta between summer in California and Canadian winter driving conditions and I think there's still such a long long way to go to full full autonomy.
22
aerovistae 2 days ago 1 reply      
I don't think this is a new page on their site-- why is this suddenly at the top of HN? There's no new info here; this isn't an update or press release.
23
f0under 2 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone identify which road the car is driving on? Looks familiar like the area around Foothills but couldn't tell.
24
vosper 2 days ago 0 replies      
I sure hope it works, for the sake (and lives) of people who own them. And for the people who have to drive alongside them (everyone).
25
welpwelp 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's so much room for error I can't wait to see how this will turnout.
26
swah 2 days ago 0 replies      
What kind of hardware supports all this signal processing? FPGAs? GPUs?
27
aladine 2 days ago 0 replies      
that is amazing offer from Tesla as hardward+software upgrade as a package. I also love the design of "call to action" buttons for buying 2 new car models.
28
theprop 3 days ago 2 replies      
Can it self-drive in snow and rain?
29
stdcall83 2 days ago 0 replies      
Look ma! No hands!
30
neofromfut 2 days ago 0 replies      
Staged demo. Just driving on single lane, Occasional turns roads at best demonstrates advanced lane guidance. Do a cross country and you've shut everyone's mouth.
10
No correlation between headphone frequency response and retail price scitation.org
353 points by robmiller  4 days ago   346 comments top 40
1
beat 4 days ago 21 replies      
"Log sine sweeps rather than linear sine sweeps were employed to allow verification that non-linear distortion components were virtually absent."

And with that, this study is bullshit.

Human beings don't listen to linear sine sweeps. We listen to music. Recorded music has 8+ octaves of frequency range (the bottom octave plus a little extra is almost always rolled off in real-world recordings, to ease stress on downstream components that can't reproduce such low frequencies anyway), and 20-50db of useable dynamic range.

Sine wave measurements of audio gear ignore impulse response, intermodulation distortion, phase shift, and a host of other real-world physical device responses to real-world musical signals. Scientific, reductionist thinking is inadequate to get an accurate picture of the factors that matter to human listeners.

Frequency response and total harmonic distortion aren't measured in these cases because they're useful or relevant. They're measured because they're easy to measure. It's like looking in the wrong place, because the light is better there. And the results? It's like measuring a car's performance by how well it can drive in a straight line at 60mph. Acceleration, braking, and turning are too hard to measure, so we ignore them...

I'm a musician and record producer. I've engineered and produced numerous albums, and rely on multiple different types of headphones for different purposes. The article's claim that one headphone can be easily morphed into another through mere equalization is, frankly, bullshit. The two headphones I rely on the most (Beyerdynamic DT880 and AKG K240) sound wildly different. Neither is "accurate". Neither are the Tannoy System 12 DMT midfield studio monitors I use for mixing, or the stock Subaru car speakers I use for reference to check the mixes from the Tannoys.

Audio reproduction is incredibly complex and difficult stuff. Trying to isolate one factor and saying "That explains everything!" is bad thinking.

2
mmaunder 4 days ago 13 replies      
I've spent some time on frequency correction for headphones and reference monitors in my home studio. If you'd like awesome headphones that have a truly flat frequency response, that you can then adjust with EQ to your taste, one option is to get Sony MDR 7506's and run the audio output through a VST plugin (Using soundflower, ableton, etc) which corrects the EQ. You can either buy precalibrated headphones from sonarworks or use a generic but headphones specific calibration profile for the plugin.

It's really cool hearing what they heard in the studio control room for the final mix. And often surprising.

You can get a range of other precalibrated pro audio headphones or correction profiles from sonarworks.

Consumer headphones are just silly IMHO. Artificially boosted frequencies with prices up to $400. A set of precalibrated MDR7506's is around $220.

If you don't care about truly flat response with correction, you can get a set of AKG K240's for $100 bucks and they're super comfy, amazing sound and loved universally by audio pros.

3
fizixer 4 days ago 3 replies      
Related:

- Someone with online alias NwAvGuy put the whole AV industry (ok maybe not the whole, but some big players) in a loop by showing in online forums that a totally inexpensive DIY DAC (with a free design he/she shared) could be built with quality rivaling elite products worth thousands of dollars. [1] (well a hazy version of the story goes that he/she exposed various audiophile review sites and forums as being full of sponsored reviews, and that eventually lead to his/her ban from head-fi.org I think)

- As for capsule mics (commonly known as condenser mic), market is flooded with DIY designs and DIY kits which let you build/buy one for $200-$400 (the dominant cost being that of the capsule itself) that will rival the quality of multi-thousand dollar mics. They go by the names Neumann clones, etc. [2] (no affiliation), [3].

In retrospect, and given the shady things AV sellers do, like trying to sell you a USB or HDMI with gold-plated pins, claiming it to be superior, it should come as no surprise.

Though, no offense, but audiophile consumer base is filled to the brim with hipsters who judge the quality of a product by its price (and some of the "experts" were busted after they failed blind tests; I think opus vs flac, I'm mixing a lot of things now).

[1] http://spectrum.ieee.org/geek-life/profiles/nwavguy-the-audi...

[2] https://microphone-parts.com/

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtNH46jpwJo

4
stcredzero 4 days ago 2 replies      
Of course not! For one thing, as one's earning power increases, one's high frequency hearing deteriorates. So market forces could well be emphasizing features and capabilities other than frequency response. Fashion, build quality, social signals...these are all very significant factors in something you wear, the practical priorities of audiophiles and enthusiasts notwithstanding. In fact, those are probably stronger factors for that set of people! (Of which, I am a member.)

Headphones also have a serious empiricism issue. You can probably pass off one high end Sennheiser for another in an A/B test. But you couldn't pass off an Audeze for one and have a valid A/B test. Also, you will often read or hear an expert say, if the measurements say something is bad, but it sounds good, or vice versa, then it means we're measuring the wrong things. I'm not saying that the Harman response curve isn't valid. It's just not the whole story.

tl;dr -- Buy the cheapest headphones that you really like, and ignore whatever your coworkers say. ( Hell, there are actually Beats that are good headphones! https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/time-rethink-beats-sol... )

Things are going to change in significant ways in the future as the price of signal processing, compensation, and active correction drops, however. Combining those with advances in the cheaper manufacturing of better drivers will result in the headphones of 10 years from now making the high end headphones of today seem "meh" and today's typical headphones seem trashy.

5
arnaudsm 4 days ago 10 replies      
DSLRs got the same problem : just compare the Canon 70D ($900) with a Nikon D3300 ($400) on DxOMark.The Nikon has better image quality despite its low price and bad reviews.

We need objective benchmarks for everything. Especially when marketing is growing bigger each year. Even "Tech websites" are biased and not objective anymore.

6
AdmiralAsshat 4 days ago 7 replies      
It would be nice if we knew which headphones they tested. Since so much of a headphone's reputation these days relies on largely anecdotal evidence from self-professed audiophiles, some kind of objective rating on frequency response for major brands or well-known cans would be highly welcomed in the audio world.

It's very easy to say, "I can hear so much more of the song out of my ATH-M50's than I can a pair of Beats", and you may be right. But something objective to back it up would be great, too.

7
calichoochoo 4 days ago 3 replies      
I predict a lot of wrong conclusions will be drawn from this. This paper does not preclude the possibility that there exist high-priced headphones with better-than-average or even spectacularly good frequency response. It only says that if you bin together all of the high priced items, their aggregate quality is no better than any other price bin.
8
skywhopper 4 days ago 0 replies      
"Interestingly, sound quality does not seem to be a major attribute for purchase decisions."

This is a silly assumption, and easily explained.

1. Most headphone purchases aren't and cannot be made by comparing sound quality. Reviews of sound quality are so universally understood to be subjective that most consumers probably ignore those details.

2. There is no one subjective or objective standard that is meaningful for all listening material. Podcasts, modern pop music, older pop music, classical recordings, television shows, and movies all have wildly varying acoustic profiles between and among each genre.

3. The vast majority of headphones have Good Enough sound quality for the vast majority of consumers. Sound quality is highly unlikely to be the primary reason most consumers buy a set of headphones, and it's unlikely to be the reason they are dissatisfied with certain headphones.

4. Headphone design, form factor, build quality, fit, feature-set, and even color are all much more important factors in terms of consumer satisfaction with headphones. They are, after all, a highly noticeable part of your ensemble. They are intimately in contact with your body. And you want them to work without thinking about it too hard. In addition to being more important, most of these factors are far easier for consumers to judge between headphones than sound quality, so again it's no surprise that an arbitrary single standard of sound quality would fail to correlate with perceived value.

In other words, this is silly for reasons that have nothing to do with technical arguments about actual sound quality, whatever that means.

9
FfejL 4 days ago 4 replies      
Price has never been correlated with quality, for any product, ever.

Price is correlated with perceived value, which includes quality, brand recognition, brand opinion, current style, and a long list of other factors.

(And, yes, this is a horrible use of the word 'correlated.' 'Derived from' or 'based on' would be much better.)

10
svantana 4 days ago 0 replies      
This makes for a cute soundbite, but it doesn't mean what it implies. You could, for example, have a bunch of expensive headphones with frequency response that varies randomly in the [-1,+1] dB range, and a bunch of cheap headphones that are in the [-10,+10] dB range -- that would also show up as uncorrelated.

Indeed, they did find a significant difference in magnitude response _error_, although the effect was quite small.

11
flavio81 4 days ago 1 reply      
Audio nerd here

Study says:

"Nevertheless, assuming that the perceived audio quality is largely determined by the spectral magnitude response of headphones..."

This is a very wrong assumption.

Audio component designers have more or less a hard time picking up which measurements can correlate with audio quality. And frequency response measurements using sine sweeps, like in the cited study, are almost of no value for discriminating between two transducers (headphones, speakers) with regarding to 'audio quality'.

Also, the fact that one headphone can extend beyond 20KHz or that it can go below 20Hz will give zero guarantee of better audio quality.

Frequency response measurements using white/pink noise can give a slightly better hint because they can take a look at resonant peaks that might be annoying to the listener, but even this is not a law set in stone*

* Impulse measurements (and waterfall plots) can give you a clearer idea of how clear is the sound going to be; but then you can have a transducer with a fairly good impulse response but a slight resonant peak somewhere --- OR you can have sometimes a transducer which shows pretty flat frequency response but bad impulse response.

A good test for intermodulation distortion (the big white elephant in the audio room) will REALLY give you a hint of which headphone will be least annoying to the ear when listening to loud complex music like classical music, vocal music, etc.

It seems that the article has been written by experts in acoustics, but not really in "audio".

TL;DR: Freq response measured with sine sweeps can't really tell you anything helpful to discriminate headphones with regard to sound quality.

12
rb808 4 days ago 3 replies      
Many expensive headphones are overpriced, but there is a very obvious difference in sound quality between very cheap headphones and medium priced ones. Either they're measuring the wrong thing or their headphone sample isn't what I'd expect.
13
jmileham 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if there's any effect that in-ear headphones are cheaper to produce but have advantages in accurate low frequency response?

Of course all this is confounded by the fact that music will tend to sound best on speakers/headphones with a response curve most like the speakers/headphones that the mastering engineer used (or more accurately, the set of speakers/headphones that the engineer compromised among). You will probably tend to have the best experience listening to music with the popular devices within a given musical subculture, because mastering engineers will be targeting those devices.

14
untangle 4 days ago 0 replies      
> The target function suggested by Olive and Welti (2015) is fairly similar to the average headphone response found in this study, with the exception of a deviation of up to about 5dB for frequencies between 50Hz and 2 kHz.

I find little fault with the arguments laid out supporting the paper's thesis.

For those commenters making the jump to "sound quality" (which is not the topic of this paper), the quoted observation above conclusively proves that these headphones have differing tonal qualities. Even a casual listener will be able to hear a difference of 5dB in the critical freq range of human speech.

15
dep_b 4 days ago 0 replies      
I always buy studio oriented gear for listening to music. If it's good enough to mix the record on, then probably I'll hear enough detail as well. Speakers, headphones, amps. Still there's a difference between regularly priced headphones and the really expensive ones. They tend to be a bit too "honest" for some people, more tiring to listen to. They also might hurt your fashion senses.
16
pdkl95 4 days ago 4 replies      
I don't care about the accuracy of their response curve (I know it isn't flat) after I found Grado[1] headphones. They are the only headphones I've found that don't add a "headphone" quality to the sound. It's hard to describe what I mean - it's that most headphones don't sound like a proper set of (quality) speakers. I've speculated it's something to do with most headphones not being able to move enough air. Grado uses very large drivers (voice coil is about 4cm in diameter) in a supra-aural (open back) design, which may move more air? Whatever the reason, Grado Labs has discovered a design that I consider categorically better[2] than everything else.

[1] http://www.gradolabs.com/headphones/prestige-series/item/1-s...

[2] In terms of music quality. Other use cases may prefer designs that focus on other features.

17
mamon 4 days ago 4 replies      
What's funny is that people tend to buy headphones with insane top frequencies (20-22 kHz), even if most humans cannot really hear sound of such frequency. When you are a teenager and have right genetics then there's a chance that you might hear 19kHz tone. If you are over 30 years old you are probably limited to 17 kHz already. Of course it gets even worse with age.
18
anigbrowl 3 days ago 0 replies      
This shows the limits of quantitative studies. Just because you don't know how best to measure doesn't mean it doesn't matter, and there are strong preferences among people who are professionals in this area - of which I am one. I have spent years of my life listening to dialog on film sets; I like my favorite headphones because they have the least difference between how things sound with and without wearing them.

I could quantify that, but why bother unless I'm getting paid a hell of a lot to to do it? I don't see anyone here who's championing this naive approach offering to pay for a study designed by an experienced professional, so don't complain about a lack of scientific rigor if you're not prepared to pay for it. I prefer the more concrete feedback of people telling me it's the best soundtrack material they've ever received in post production.

You can talk about the scientific method all you like. I'm very fond of the scientific method. But rigorous testing costs money. If you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is, then accept the opinion of people who do this kind of thing for a living.

19
fffernan 4 days ago 1 reply      
How about correlation between the amount of marketing dollars spent compared to the price.
20
swayvil 4 days ago 5 replies      
My first though when I buy headphones is, "will these fall apart after a week?"
21
kev009 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's annoying that they provide the mfg of the acoustic model and DAC, but not the headphones which would be required to reproduce or filter the experiment.

Most consumer audio equipment is a scam. I'd be interested in the subset of equipment from Shure, AKG, Sennheiser, Sony, Beyerdynamic where the design was actually intended to produce a broad frequency range correctly.

22
kazinator 4 days ago 1 reply      
The mere frequency response range doesn't correlate with how flat is the frequency response, or with other measures like sensitivity, distortion and whatnot.

What's better: speakers that go to 40 kHz, but have a big dip at 4 kHz, versus ones that go flat to 15 kHz and roll off after that?

23
goodroot 4 days ago 0 replies      
Nifty! A few years ago, a friend and I created an application that allowed users to import their own MP3s. We scraped the frequency data from the mp3. Once imported, you could then pick two different headphones; for each headphone, we scraped frequency data from headphone.com.

The application allowed you to benchmark headphones in real-time, revealing "how accurately" your music was being recreated; you'd pit two headphones against one another: clash of cans!

Ultimately, yeah, there's the uber-uber high-end, the really clear low-end, and a +-$900 muddle of everything else.

24
dharma1 4 days ago 0 replies      
I own a bunch of headphones and generally the good headphones aren't cheap - not because it's expensive to make headphones but mostly because of R&D. It's not rocket science though, so you can also pick up very good headphones quite cheaply.

I like my Sennheiser HD600's (and MDR-1000x for the office) which are $300 headphones, but equally happy to use Superlux HD-681 EVO or Soundmagic E-10 which cost around $30

25
Johnny555 4 days ago 0 replies      
It is however unclear whether this improved consistency with a higher retail price is the result of better headphones or better repeatability of measurements with more expensive models.

Isn't consistency an important characteristic of a headphone? Perhaps even more important than some ideal frequency response. You want the same sound every time you listen to a song, you don't want it to vary.

26
mysterypie 3 days ago 0 replies      
Where's the data by brand and model? The objective measurements on 283 headphones and their prices would be great resource for everyone. The article can make its point without giving the raw data, but I wonder what their reasons are for excluding such useful and interesting data. Fear of silly lawsuits from manufacturers?
27
ebbv 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is like saying that there's no correlation between displacement and vehicle price. Of course there isn't because that is, while an important criteria on an individual car, and it has SOME correlation to the cost to produce a vehicle, it doesn't tell the full story. Nor does it tell the full story of why someone might pay more for it.
28
stuaxo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Audiophiles are probably experiencing the placebo effect. Placebos work though, so even if these people are not hearing anything different, if it makes them feel better every time they listen to music through their systems, maybe it is money well invested?
29
acd 4 days ago 1 reply      
The frequency response of the apple earpods are totally ok.https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AppleEarPods.pdf

What industry convinces you to buy things you do not need? Advertising

30
o_nate 4 days ago 2 replies      
I thought it was weird that they found that inner-ear had better bass response than over-the-ear headphones, but they did mention that could be an anomaly because the artificial head they use for testing forms a tighter seal with inner-ear headphones than most people's real heads would do.
31
ue_ 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't understand this. Sometimes people don't want a perfectly flat frequency response. Sometimes other qualities matter more, especially things like noise isolation.

The idea that a particular frequency response is the thing that separates good headphones from bad is ridiculous.

32
sh87 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a good place or study explaining what accounts for "good" headphone audio quality ? I mean how do you quantify good and bad audio quality ? I can feel and get it, just not sure if there's a way to measure it.
33
eecc 4 days ago 0 replies      
The most cherished earphones I've ever had - a pair of relatively cheap Audiotechnica - feel better than the triple price model I decided to treat myself with some years later.
34
xupybd 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's missing the data on the best cheap models to buy :(
35
hullsean 3 days ago 0 replies      
Same science holds for price of wine.The more general truth is quality does not correlate with cost.Google Rory Sutherlands TED talk
36
frostirosti 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is anyone surprised here? Clothes must have the same trend (or lack there of)
37
low_key 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think the correlation is between advertising spend and retail price.
38
jlnazario 4 days ago 0 replies      
Over 1110^9 units sold per year? This number seems unreal to me.
39
DanBC 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a correlation between weight and price?

I know some low end headphones add weights to increase "luxury feel". It'd be interesting to see some research about when adding weights stops.

40
logicallee 4 days ago 4 replies      
Didn't read the link, but could a mod please change this title, which is obviously false?

No correlation would mean that if I bought a random headphone that cost $2 (they exist, you can go to ali express right now and put in a maximum of $2 in a headphone search), and a random headphone that cost $500, then if you had to make a bet about which one would come closer to reproducing the bass of a song with a heavy bass, you would be betting even money. It would be a toss-up whether the $2 or the $500 came closer to producing that bass. Because there is no correlation.

Here is an example of correct usage of "no correlation": there is no correlation between a headphone's price and the md5 checksum of its SKU.

EDIT:

I skimmed the paper. A better title (for HN) would be "No correlation between frequency response and price quartile in 283 headphones".

11
Standard Ebooks: Free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced standardebooks.org
431 points by robin_reala  3 days ago   95 comments top 17
1
throwanem 3 days ago 10 replies      
> ...each Standard Ebook is lightly modernized to feature consistent and modern spelling and hyphenation, so old-fashioned ephemera doesnt distract you from timeless content.

I like old-fashioned ephemera...

2
timsayshey 3 days ago 1 reply      
This really looks amazing! That is all -- I have nothing negative to say -- you guys are killing it with this project :)

Curious, who is the founder of this project? Interested to hear more about it's background and the team behind getting this off the ground.

3
kwhitefoot 3 days ago 2 replies      
Hmm. I've just downloaded Algis Budrys' "Short Fiction" and Lewis Carroll's "Alice", I have to say I have mixed feelings about the files. Both render very badly in Calibre (on Debian Linux, latest stable), very uncomfortable to read with lots of unexpected spaces breaking up the words, yet they render perfectly in Ionic on my Nokia N9 and in FBReader on my Lenovo Android tablet. I've never seen this happen before so I'm not sure if this is a bug in Calibre or in the epub file.

A couple of questions:

- How come there is no search function?

- Why are authors sorted by first name?

- Do the results of the proof reading get fed back to Project Gutenberg, et al.

- Will readers like FBReader be able to add this catalogue?

So, sounds like a good idea and I hope it succeeds but it's not quite there yet.

4
acabal 3 days ago 6 replies      
Hi folks, I'm the guy who started and runs Standard Ebooks. It looks like it's been given the hug of death at the moment, sorry about that! While I try to beef up the server you can see all of our productions on Github: https://github.com/standardebooks/

You may also be interested in our toolset (GNU-compatible only at the moment, we're working on converting everything to Python but we're not there yet): https://github.com/standardebooks/tools

I'm happy to answer any questions anyone has. We're also more than happy to have new contributors, if you're interested in working on and proofreading a public domain ebook that you've been meaning to get to.

Some of you have mentioned concerns about the modernizations we do. The key word I think is "light modernization". Mostly that just means bringing spelling up to modern standards, and removing a lot of hyphens in words that are no longer hyphenated. A common one, for example, is to-morrow -> tomorrow. Another one we recently added was lacquey -> lackey. Generally we leave punctuation and grammar alone. I liken this to modern books replacing the "long s" character--it's just presentation that doesn't affect the meaning. Modern readers would rather see "successful" instead "uccesful" even though the latter is what was originally printed.

I struggled for a long time with my desire to see older books with modern spelling and typography, versus preserving the intent of the author and original publishers. Over time I've come to realize two things:

1. Many books back in the day were heavily edited by the printer and publisher without the author's input anyway, so you'll get various editions over time that look totally different. Jane Austen books are a good example of this--early editions often have a pathological overuse of commas, while later editions published after her death just remove a lot of them without comment. So when we're producing our own ebooks, we accept that there's a level of editorial discretion involved, and that "the author's intent" was a very fuzzy and often totally ignored topic hundreds of years ago anyway. How can we tell what the author's intent was in the first place, if various printers and publishers have meddled with the editions for hundreds of years already?

2. For those of you who want to read the originals in their totally unedited form, other projects like Project Gutenberg or Wikisource already have those faithful transcriptions for you, and places like Internet Archive, Hathi Trust, and Google Books have the page scans for you. By lightly modernizing our own productions, we in no way diminish your access to the painstakingly-preserved digital editions; we're just adding another option for you to read.

5
DoubleCribble 3 days ago 2 replies      
"Who told you you might meddle with such hifalut'n foolishness, hey?" [1]

Liberated? That ephemera might actually be integral to the story and you are NOT the arbiters of intent. Please keep your modernizing out of my lit'ratur.

[1]Pap, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

6
geraldbauer 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's a fantastic initiative to offer world literature. FYI: A while ago I've started the World Classics Bookshelf - http://worldclassics.github.io The idea is to use plain text with markdown formatting conventions (for richer typography e.g. beautiful quotes, em-dashes, etc.). See The Trial by Franz Kafka as an example -> https://github.com/worldclassics/the-trial (in the Manuscripts plain text source format). The second idea is to use a (standard) static website builder (e.g. Jekyll) for building the online books (from markdown) and to offer different book / page designs (kind of like the Zen of CSS Garden e.g. the Zen of Book Designs). See https://github.com/bookdesigns for some examples incl. the "classic" GitBook style -> http://bookdesigns.github.io/book-git Anyways, keep up the great work and publishing public domain world classics. Cheers.
7
madsbuch 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think it is a great project. An I really like the modernization. As a person not native to English, reading long prose is already energy consuming. For me, I like this kind of supply :-)

I see that the page is a bit slow. If you need any help to port it to a static format (for performance), please let me know.

8
emilecantin 3 days ago 2 replies      
Amazing project! Any plans to port this to other languages? My main language is French, and I'm looking for good old books for my daughter. She read through the Comptess of Sgur's "Les malheurs de Sophie", and she loved it.
9
antognini 3 days ago 2 replies      
These look nice! But I have to say, it is a little bit unexpected that the alphabetical sort by author name sorts by the author's first name.
10
intopieces 3 days ago 1 reply      
Where can I learn to make carefully produced ebooks? I would like to do this for my own set of free books.
11
chris_st 1 day ago 0 replies      
Run, don't walk :-) to download "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome. It's hilarious, ignore the overly serious cover image:

https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/jerome-k-jerome/three-men-...

12
hkmurakami 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm telling all my friend about this, with shoddy quality public domain books flooding Amazon/Google.

Thanks for all your work!

13
manojlds 3 days ago 0 replies      
Site seems to be taking a beating at the moment.
14
mkeeter 3 days ago 2 replies      
Interesting seems like there's a bit of overlap with Project Gitenberg (https://www.gitenberg.org/).
15
yadavrg 2 days ago 0 replies      
the website is perfect and host a plenty of good quality ebooks in different domain, but these are not categories. It should be categorized based on their domains like- Technology, Architecture, Literature, Management etc. If it will have subcategories as well then it will be perfect.
16
kermittd 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wow very cool this is awesome! Also similar to a project I've been working on for a few months.
17
suyash 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ebooks need to become DRM free - full access to the buyer, unlike most books published on Kindle.
12
Open Source Datasets deepmind.com
393 points by amberj  4 days ago   28 comments top 9
1
zitterbewegung 4 days ago 3 replies      
I have been thinking about what this solves in respect to other datasets. Nearly all shape recognition datasets have a restriction that you can't use unless you are an academic. I feel like that Open Sourcing data sets will allow us to be more democratic with data and the things that are generated by them. Creative Commons seems like a good license for this though. Once you have the data is half the battle . The rest is to make open models (google is good at this) and then you could take pretrained models and not have your data leave your house . I hope and dream we can do this.
2
Kpourdeilami 4 days ago 4 replies      
Somewhat unrelated: Deepmind's website is so cluttered and distracting to the extent that it is almost unusable
3
Alexqw85 3 days ago 0 replies      
The lab I work in publishes, and has continues to extend, the studyforrest dataset for quite a few years now.

http://studyforrest.org

Most of the consumers so far have been neuroscience researchers and statisticians, but we do hope (and think) that there's value for a wide variety of interests.

There's a bunch of different data, but the highlights are fMRI scans of people watching and/or listening to the movie Forrest Gump, eye tracking, and detailed annotations of the movie. We are also about to begin acquiring simultaneous EEG and fMRI.

http://studyforrest.org/data.html

Accessing the data is easy, and, as great admirers of Joey Hess, we also have it available in a git annex repo. :-)

http://studyforrest.org/access.html

---Alex

[EDIT] Given that this thread is about open source datasets, it's probably worth mentioning that the license is PDDL.

https://opendatacommons.org/licenses/pddl/1.0/

4
iandev 4 days ago 1 reply      
Forgive my ignorance, but I'm not sure for what a dataset like the "Collectible Card Game to Code"[0] might be used. Can anyone explain how and for what it might be used?

[0] https://github.com/deepmind/card2code

5
ptero 3 days ago 1 reply      
One question that is not clear to me is what should the dataset license to allow / restrict, in the perfect world. For me (just a personal opinion) it would allow free (as in liberty) use, but somehow encourage those who use it to share the benefits (data, software or algorithms) under the same license.

Unfortunately, Open Source does not help here -- I do not see how OS can be used with data sets. The main OS leverage with software development is that if you use software X to build software Y, X is usually present in some way, shape or form in your deliverable Y. Not so with training data -- once algorithm development is done you can (and usually do) strip training data out and have a finished product that does not require X to run.

Even if one were to require open sourcing derived datasets it is usually easy to segregate the dataset with a tainted (open source) license as you build up your data so the new datasets are not formally "derived" and thus would not need open sourcing.

I would love a better way forward on this, or at least a cleaner explanation of options.

6
jackschultz 3 days ago 0 replies      
This brings up a huge point about how important data sets are to analysis and machine learning. There are so many libraries out there that make learning algorithms quick to run, and the absolute most important part of a project of that type is correct and formatted data.
7
deepnet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Dear Deepmind, as you have retired AlphaGo please open source the dataset of Go games used to train it.
8
caniszczyk 3 days ago 0 replies      
check out https://data.world who is doing a decent job in organizing a variety of data sets out there
9
blazespin 4 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, when deep mind originally joined google it was on the condition that google would be moral about its use of AI.
13
Stop Buying Things and Start Borrowing Them aspiration.com
433 points by mathgenius  1 day ago   276 comments top 39
1
throwaway2016a 1 day ago 20 replies      
I pay to be a member of the local maker space. But they have a lot of equipment I would never dream of buying (like a plasma cutter and later cutter) and some that I could buy but rather wouldn't (like a 3d printer and a bench oscilloscope).

But members break the tools all the time and don't take responsibility for it. Even though there are cameras and people have to swipe their card at the door it still happens.

I think one reason sharing is not as common is because people are jerks.

I remember when I was a kid we used to borrow each other's NES games all the time and never give them back.

2
jdietrich 1 day ago 10 replies      
Fifty years ago, you would have just knocked on your neighbour's door or asked the guys at bowling night. Wanting to borrow a drill or a tent isn't new; not knowing anyone to borrow it from is a peculiarly modern affliction.

I applaud any effort to rebuild our fractured society.

3
glup 1 day ago 1 reply      
Thinking of this as a caching problem, there need to be hyperlocal borrowing like at the level of apartment buildings or city blocks. The 6-unit apartment building I live in has a shared area in the basementpower tools, a shop vac, brewing equipment, knife sharpener, pentalobe screwdrivers, a weedwhacker, a multimeter, etc.) This complements the tool lending library (which my city has) which furnishes lower frequency needs. The hyperlocal thing is also a nice way to meet your neighbors (oh wow you also have a lot of pentalobe screwdrivers!) and share skills (I just learned how to fertilize houseplants).

For higher value items, I've been meaning to extend the above apartment-wide setup with a Google Doc inventory of things that people are willing to share, but want where participants want face-to-face confirmation, like loaning a camera or a mountain bike. I wish there were a way (a social institution moreso than a technical solution) to make quick contracts for borrowing things. I'm privileged enough to be able to replace minor things, but I am definitely relucatant to loan big things if I don't know if a friend can/would replace the thing if something bad happened on their watch. And no I don't want to rent themI don't like the cognitive overhead of markets, and that's not the point.

4
akeck 1 day ago 4 replies      
I do three things to cut consumption: borrow, rent, and "rent". "Rent" is buy high quality/high value, and resell for a significant fraction of retail when you are done with it. I learned it from a friend at work. She bought a Dell Deal high-end desktop with free monitor. She sold the monitor immediately, which covered most of her layout for the initial deal. Then, three years later, she sold the desktop for about 60% of retail. The items were being enjoyed by new owners, and she recovered the value she put into them.
5
eponeponepon 1 day ago 2 replies      
Possessions-as-a-Service? No, can't see it taking off.

In all seriousness, as others have noted, I see this as a rather damning comment on how badly human contact is getting abstracted away to businesses more and more. It's rather sad that people no longer feel able to just talk to others without some organisation to mediate.

6
ktta 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hasn't the media been lamenting this exact behavior of millennials though? Houses would be bought previously, now more people are renting, vandwelling or just living with their parents. Less cars are being purchases because of people 'Ubering' everywhere. People rent more stuff thereby slowing down many industries. The future looks glum for many of them (especially the diamond industry)

Student loan was shown to be the primary deterrent. Of course what wasn't to blame was that the disparity between median wage and comfortable life is growing. Another thing they fail to attribute this to is that millennials are smarter, avoiding the spendthrift mistakes like large mortgages which tie them down to a place and make them paycheck away from homelessness.

source: Just google 'Millennials aren't buying <insert anything here>'

7
marcosdumay 1 day ago 2 replies      
And inflict myself transaction inefficiencies every time I want to do anything?

It's hard enough to get enough time to do something, imagine requiring that time to be in commercial hours, prefaced by a drive or walk somewhere, a talk with somebody, then postfaced by the same. And then you forgot something...

8
djsumdog 1 day ago 0 replies      
I lived in a city that had a Tool Library; similar concept for tools.

I once lived out of two bags for 11 months. After living in a one bedroom apartment by myself for about a year, I was surprised just how much I had to sell, give away and git rid of. I even tried to keep in my head that I wasn't /really/ buying anything, but basically renting it until I took off again. I always tried to buy used or from thrift stores whenever possible.

http://khanism.org/perspective/minimalism/

http://khanism.org/perspective/return-to-minimalism/

9
setq 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wasn't aware that borrowing things wasn't a thing these days. I'm forever borrowing and lending things. Just yesterday I borrowed a hammer drill from a friend because it's ridiculous buying one to drill some holes for a curtain rail.
10
mc32 1 day ago 0 replies      
This seems apt for very dense locations where the premium is on surface space. Unsure of how cultures might be willing to receive the idea, but given space constraints, the idea might gain traction in Tokyo or Amsterdam, Shanghai, Mumbai, etc.

Also take the idea to places where people aren't used to having and owning these possessions --get them while it's still a nascent idea.

11
Envec83 1 day ago 1 reply      
Isn't this what the "shared economy" is about?

Still, I find it interesting that he managed to raise $30k on IndieGoGo. It signals that people care about those ideas/ideals.

12
siliconc0w 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm fortunate that I actually know my neighbors, we bbq, and we do favors and borrow each other's stuff all the time. This sort of community seems to be getting rare. I like the idea of the 'library of things' but feel like I'd might implement it as a P2P borrowing app to encourage people to talk to their neighbors.

The problem is that people aren't 'settling down' and instead are frequently moving around for work. This makes it hard to build up communities with the people around you. Your work becomes your 'stand-in' community - which has it's disadvantages. This has ramifications for health and happiness far beyond borrowing stuff. The studies that show people living longest aren't correlated with western health care or even good diet - it's the strength of their bond with their community.

13
grogenaut 1 day ago 1 reply      
Remember you can always "rent" things from craigslist if you're fine with spending the time hitting "relist" for a few weeks while you wait for someone to buy it.

I'm currently doing this with a car for my visiting son. Too young to rent for but not a big deal to buy an old car for 2 months and sell it when he leaves. Basically paid the registration fee for 2 months + gas which is $300 for a 2 month rental. Then the "fun" (which it is to some people) of dealing with cragistlist crazies while selling it. I actually enjoy dealing with the flakes, putting myself in their shoes and getting practice negotiating.

14
delinka 1 day ago 1 reply      
I tend to find that I can't trust those who borrow my things to actually care for my things. They come back absolutely broken.
15
moultano 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've come to the conclusion that the only reason new baby equipment is ever sold is due to baby showers. There's an extremely liquid market for this stuff since it spends less than a year with each owner.
16
grantlmiller 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this overall concept. In LA a startup launched last year that will not only rent you the random stuff you don't need to buy, but they actually drop it off & pick it back up from you (www.joymode.com). They organize it all by experiences (ie not so much about tools) but instead here are things you need for backyard movie night, or camping, or pasta making etc. I'm a big fan of owning fewer things... frees people up to move more easily (not being able to move homes is huge cause of under-employment).
17
kleer001 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Access-to not ownership-of" VS "The tragedy of the commons"

It's as eternal and essential balance as CPU vs MEMORY.

18
intrasight 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now that our local Home Depot does tool rental, I have in that a good option for many tools that I rarely use. But even then you have to be strategic. I rented a gas-powered masonary saw. The cost to rent the blade was just half the cost of buying a new one - so I bought the blade to use with my rented saw. Will be using it again a third time soon.

I did grow up on the phrase "he who dies with the most tools wins", so it's taken me some time to transition to rent/loan. But I've got so many tools and supplies now, and I've reached a point in my life where I'd like to do more and own less, and all those tools are now somewhat a burden. I bet I'm not alone and that these tool libraries could probably get a lot of high quality donations.

19
Mister_Snuggles 1 day ago 0 replies      
My local public library has a Makerspace[0] with 3D printers, recording studios, plus a bunch of other stuff. I haven't checked it out yet, but it seems like every time I visit the web site there is something new. Plus they're renovating (right now the building has been stripped all the way down to its concrete structure) the main branch of the library, it looks like the renovation will have a pretty big section for the Makerspace. Access is available to library members, and membership is free for Edmonton residents so there's virtually no barriers to entry.

There's also the Edmonton New Technology Society[1], which was the original Makerspace in Edmonton. Unfortunately for me, the location means that I'm unable to visit regularly.

[0] https://www.epl.ca/browse_program/makerspace/

[1] https://ents.ca/

20
audi100quattro 1 day ago 3 replies      
We still live in an ownership society AFAIK. Owning your own home, car, the vast majority of products you use pays. Owning multiples of each pays even more. The parts of society where this isn't true is media, and it's a shame.

You should buy what you need with the rights you're entitled to, and figure out the difference between what you need and what you really don't.

21
failrate 1 day ago 0 replies      
My coworker is one of those guys who is an old man before his time. He loves scotch and working with tools. Sadly, he lives in a small apartment, so he doesn't have a real workspace. I've offered to let him come over for some tool time. We will see if he bites.
22
emersonrsantos 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's not sharing or borrowing if you pay for it; it's called renting.
23
rekado 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's a shop like this in Berlin called Leila (for Leihladen). I very much hope that this idea takes off. Ideally this would not have to be a private enterprise, but could be an extension of the public library systems like it is done in some places in Finland: http://finland.fi/life-society/finnish-libraries-offer-new-a...
24
throw_323213 1 day ago 0 replies      
Moving is definitely an issue here; lugging 10+kilos of tools across voltages and miles is not a particularly enticing proposition. I had an awesome time with the community bike shops both in UW and in North Seattle; even built my current bike there :D Anywho, if you're in Seattle, please do consider helping these people out before their lease runs out in Oct.

http://neseattletoollibrary.org/

25
Animats 1 day ago 3 replies      
There are many tool rental outlets. The tool quality tends to stabilize at "almost broken", but they exist.
26
edsheeran 1 day ago 1 reply      
How does indemnification work in this case? Some of these tools could be dangerous for weekend warriors.
27
m3kw9 1 day ago 0 replies      
Only certain things can be borrowed, like one time use things. If it's long term, it's be a better investment to buy than to pay each time
28
stevenj 1 day ago 0 replies      
At first glance, this seems silly and something that is unlikely to ever take off.

But feeling that way, at least initially, about a startup that becomes big often seems to share that characteristic.

29
shujito 1 day ago 0 replies      
I had to enable javascript to read the article...
30
paulkrush 1 day ago 1 reply      
AI will make sharing like this easier, but at the same time it will make things cheaper.

People go camping in Hawaii, buy gear and give it way when they leave.

31
epx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't like to borrow things so go ask someone else!!
32
jimmaswell 1 day ago 0 replies      
The law of headlines applies to commands in headlines too, in my experience.
33
TheRealPomax 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stop requiring JS and start serving HTML first.
34
curiouscat321 1 day ago 0 replies      
A little off topic, but does anybody use Aspiration's products? What do you think of them?
35
Kiro 1 day ago 1 reply      
Naive question: isn't consumption key to economic growth?
36
wcr3 1 day ago 0 replies      
stop titling articles like this...
37
EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't there be an app for that?

If I were to make such an app, how could I get a company to underwrite and provide insurance for these items?

38
coding123 1 day ago 3 replies      
If this gets huge, how will it create net positive number of jobs?
39
pascalxus 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is a great idea. Now, anyone have a strategy for how to get your wife to agree to it? haha.
14
New analysis reveals significant ROI in open source technologies worldbank.org
329 points by johnmark  4 days ago   37 comments top 8
1
Animats 4 days ago 3 replies      
Three blogs deep, there's a link to the actual paper.[1] It's a study of one project, a geospatial database:

"Starting in 2009, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) and its partners developed GeoNode: web-based, open source software that enables organizations to easily create catalogs of geospatial data, and that allows users to access, share, and visualize that data. Today, GeoNode is a public good relied on by hundreds of organizations around the world ... GFDRRs direct and in-kind investment in GeoNode over the past six and a half years has been in the range of $1.0$1.5 million USD. Partners have also made significant investments in GeoNode; a conservative estimate of these partner investments comes to approximately $2 million USD over the same time period. GFDRRs investment in GeoNode would be a reasonable amount even viewed strictly as a software development cost: the GeoNode software today represents an approximately 200% return on investment in terms of code written, since thh current GeoNode project would most likely have cost $2.0 3.0 million USD if GFDRR had produced it alone as proprietary software, without building an open source community around the codebase."

This is an unusual situation; many people need geospatial databases, and contributing their local data is useful to them. The value here is in the data, not the code. This is more like Open Street Map than a software package.

[1] https://opendri.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/OpenDRI-and-G...

2
TallGuyShort 4 days ago 4 replies      
On the other hand, what's the average ROI on investing in proprietary software development? It's rarely a question of spending the resources on software development, it's do we spend the resources in an open, or closed way? Nice to see a positive ROI, though - there's definitely a fear that it's just "giving stuff away" and clearly it's not that simple.

I'm all about open-source, but I wish people wouldn't focus on how companies should do it because it's good for them financially (although granted that's probably more effective with the intended audience than what I would say). I wish a bigger deal was made about how it's just a douche bag move to sell software and proactively prevent users from having freedom to understand, fix or modify it for their needs - that applies to more than just the source availability and license.

3
Top19 4 days ago 1 reply      
A good example of the ROI of Open Source is the OpenEMR project. That free system replaces multi-hundred thousand dollar hospital systems from companies like Cerner. I used to work at Oracle, and when I found out about OpenEMR I remember thinking "this makes the price difference between Oracle Enterprise Edition and MySQL Community look trivial".

A lot of times I hear the implementation cost is where all the money is so it doesn't matter what the software costs. That is sort of true, but large companies are not incentivized to make it any easier to implement, less they put their System Integrators out of business and/or push them to other vendors. The Open Source community does not have this incentive obviously.

EDIT: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenEMR

4
roymurdock 4 days ago 2 replies      
Good case study on one successful open source project. Shouldn't be used to draw any broader conclusions about impact of open source on any company's biz model. Some portions of typical software stacks are amenable to open source biz models (such as general purpose server OS), while many others are not.

Note that the study does not actually measure ROI from a revenue perspective, but estimates based on theoretical saved costs: The company invested $1M in open source infrastructure and potentially saved $2M in direct development costs (given that the code base is current worth $3M). [1]

Most interesting takeaway for me is the implications of open source for government funded projects, and a ratification of the idea that contributions of code for some public tool can save the general public tax money. A forward thinking org could try to broker some sort of tax cut based on SLOC contributed to public, government-sponsored projects? Maybe that already exists.

Would suggest studying Red Hat's rise to $2B in yearly revenue to understand how a company takes open source and turns it into revenue.

[1] GFDRRs direct and in-kind investment in GeoNode over the past six and a half years has been in the range of $1.0$1.5 million USD...GFDRRs investment in GeoNode would be a reasonable amount even viewed strictly as a software development cost: the GeoNode software today represents an approximately 200% return on investment in terms of code written, since the current GeoNode project would most likely have cost $2.03.0 million USD if GFDRR had produced it alone as proprietary software, without building an open source community around the codebase.

5
mikekchar 4 days ago 1 reply      
I haven't had time to read the report in detail, but it appears that the 200% ROI figure is simply derived from the ratio of externally written software to internally written software. So, by writing an open source tool instead of keeping it closed, they got contributions of code that exceeded their own investment. However, this is not actually the main point of the paper, and neither is it the whole picture. For example they discuss sponsoring in-person events and I don't think that kind of cost is accounted for in their ROI figure. Indeed, the paper goes to some effort to explain that the benefit they received goes far beyond the outside contributions of code. I know nothing of the project, but from their description it seems that it was very well run. I'm not sure that we can reasonably assume that they wouldn't get similar results from a well run consortium, for example.

Anyway, it looks like an interesting report and I look forward to reading it in more detail, but I think the headline in the blog-pointer is unwarranted.

6
makecheck 4 days ago 0 replies      
Most people receive infinite return because they invest nothing.

A more meaningful measure is how quickly you can resolve a problem with open-source for X amount of investment, versus other options. With that, if a package doesn't do what you want then investing nothing appropriately yields NO return; whereas, investing certain amounts of time (asking questions, filing bugs, etc.) may yield more return, and fixing it yourself may yield the most.

7
btown 4 days ago 0 replies      
Mods, can we change the title to that of the source report? "OpenDRI & GeoNode: A Case Study for Institutional Investments in Open Source."

The current title, "World Bank-Sponsored Report Shows 200% ROI on Open Source Participation," the contents of this link, and even the World Bank's own blog's title, strongly suggest that this was a World Bank-commissioned study across multiple open-source projects/communities. Note the plural in OP: "to quantify the benefit of contributing to and participating in open source communities." And the World Bank's blog title: "Leveraging Open Source as a Public Institution New analysis reveals significant returns on investment in open source technologies."

But that's not the case at all. As noted in other comments, this is a single community, a single project. Granted, it's a successful one. But we shouldn't get our hopes up about "oh s*, this is an article I can forward to the C-suite to get us to invest in open source!" What we have here is technically accurate clickbait that relies on the brand of the World Bank's analysis. And, in being disappointingly vague, it tarnishes that brand.

8
pavement 4 days ago 1 reply      
Link references link:

https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/leveraging-open-source-...

Which references link:

https://opendri.org/resource/opendri-geonode-a-case-study-fo...

Which references PDF:

https://opendri.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/OpenDRI-and-G...

Titled:

 OPEN DATA FOR RESILIENCE INITIATIVE & GEONODE A CASE STUDY ON INSTITUTIONAL INVESTMENTS IN OPEN SOURCE

15
Europe mostly ends mobile roaming fees from today techcrunch.com
381 points by janober  4 days ago   339 comments top 25
1
endijs 4 days ago 24 replies      
This idea was good. But in reality what happened in Latvia was very simple and expected move by telcos - all three of them raised prices for all subscriptions by about 3-4 monthly (which is ~30% increase). Yes, now you can feel better while traveling, however everyone now pays extra every single month. For some situation now is better, while others pay for it even if they do not need such freedom. Those who are in first category are happy, others not so much.

Edited: It's interesting to see how comment which states facts, can get upvoted and downvoted this much. Sometimes voting in HN does not make any sense (to me). I understand that upvote is "thanks for letting us know those facts". What are downvotes representing? That I should not write at all, that price increase for all 3 telcos is fine, that everyone should be happy? Rhetorical question.

2
rekshaw 4 days ago 2 replies      
A lot of people complaining here. I am based in Luxembourg currently, and went to London last week. The peace of mind of landing in a foreign city and being able to use your phone as if at home truly is incredible. I could really feel the barriers to traveling fading. (Ironic that it was London, I know). BTW, my Luxembourghish telco actually aligned with the EU directive ahead of time (June 1st).
3
eXpl0it3r 4 days ago 3 replies      
Here in Switzerland we have some of the highest mobile prices ($30+) [1], yet our mobile providers will not remove the fee like the rest or Europe. Our politician try to enforce every single new EU-law, but when there's once something that would benefit the people, they come up with many excuses why this couldn't be applied and how Switzerland isn't part of the EU and doesn't have to follow through...

[1] https://www.swisscom.ch/en/residential/mobile/subscription-t...

4
_miroz 4 days ago 23 replies      
I'm wondering why the regulation was necessary and why the free market forces didn't bring the prices or roaming down?What are the forces in telecom industry that kept the prices so high (assuming that the prices were higher then necessary)?
5
Shalle135 4 days ago 2 replies      
Moving more freely in EU why are people against that? Sure LT, LV, Poland, Romania etc probably got a slight raise. At the same time these countries are heavily subsidized by the rest of the countries already. What they also have is alot of people working abroad so then they are allowed to surf with their cheap plans in not so cheap countries.

I can also note that this law has resulted in alot more unlimited plans. I myself have just gotten one which includes 30gb of roaming. Is it cheaper than before? Hell no. Do I have to care about how much I surf, when or where? Not anymore - and freedom is worth the extra 20.

6
mstade 4 days ago 5 replies      
This is great, now I can ditch my UK Three SIM that I've had for years simply because they implemented a "feel at home" kind of policy long ago, where roaming within the EU is free. There was always a data limit, and you can't tether your phone to your laptop which was annoying, but it's been great for me who's been travelling in the EU frequently. Now I can drop that extra 30/month cost and don't have to carry extra SIMs. I love it.
7
unsigner 4 days ago 1 reply      
Result around here: roaming disappeared from all mobile plans except for the most expensive ones, which got nudged a few euros up.

The frequent travellers (presumably wealthier) get subsidized by the infrequent travellers (presumably less wealthier).

8
Markoff 4 days ago 0 replies      
this is all nice and dandy but it's still only half job, since this doesn't mean there are no charges for international calls

so yes receiving calls or using internet will be same as home, you still have to watch what number you are calling, if it's from country of your carrier or different

please correct me if I am wrong

EDIT: so I was right, now it's even more insane than before:

For example: If you have a Belgian card and you travel to France and call either a hotel in France, back home to Belgium, or to any other country in the EU and the EEA, you are roaming (refer to legal text on the regulation on roaming) , and you will pay Belgian internal domestic prices (refer to legal text).

However, if a Belgian SIM card holder calls from Belgium to Spain, she/he will pay the international tariff. Calls from home to another EU country are not roaming and are not regulated.

source: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/faq/frequently...

TLDR: there are no fees for international calls while you are in roaming, but when you return back home enjoy fees for international calls, using your SIM in foreign network is cheaper than using it in your own network at home

9
danmaz74 4 days ago 0 replies      
It was about time; it will also help a lot with short-term mobility around the EU.
10
simion314 4 days ago 1 reply      
I am wondering how much extra cost the operators for a roaming call, in both case A where both phones are on same operator and in second case where second person is on a second operator.
11
timwaagh 4 days ago 0 replies      
well that's nice. at least i can call from belgium now when i will be there on saturaday. however if it is true that all the phone bills go up now then it is just a policy that lets poor workers subsidize rich travellers. that is an ethical problem. however we need to move on with european integration. the current system allows far too many loopholes for rich tax avoiders (who mostly move their money where tax is low) so any integration is a good one.
12
k-mcgrady 4 days ago 0 replies      
From reading this thread it seems that telecoms companies and the EU need to make it much more clear what is actually happening. Half the people commenting here have one experience and the other half have the complete opposite. It's probably difficult to know how this will all shake out for a couple of years considering most of us are locked into multi-year contracts.
13
WillyOnWheels 4 days ago 1 reply      
Prepaid wireless plans in America are marketed as being cheaper than long term contracts.San Francisco tacks on a 23 percent fee to prepaid wireless plans.

http://www.prepaidphonenews.com/2016/03/california-boe-relea...

14
rdl 4 days ago 3 replies      
What is the correct European SIM to buy for data/voice/etc. (prepaid)? Presumably best to get one from a country you don't actually visit much, so you're always roaming, and thus don't pay the home to foreign number charges?
15
codecamper 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if prepay will work with same rates while roaming. I'm in Italy now with 20GB of data from TIM... I'd like to continue using it in Slovenia, but somehow I'm doubting this will work.
16
billpg 4 days ago 2 replies      
Cool, just as Brexit looks to be falling apart under its own incompetence.
17
bajsejohannes 4 days ago 0 replies      
The article lists the 28 EU countries, but note that this is true for the countries of the European Economic Area too: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
18
bane 4 days ago 0 replies      
Does anybody know what this might mean for Phi users?
19
matteuan 4 days ago 3 replies      
Unfortunately, there is still one important limitation: we will keep the fees for the traffic from our home countries.
20
WillyOnWheels 4 days ago 0 replies      
for people like me who don't understand how the fees work

http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/European_Union

21
throwaway-1209 4 days ago 0 replies      
As a TMobile customer in the US, tongue in cheek question: what's a "roaming fee"? It's kinda cool when your phone just works worldwide. That's the way it ought to be, imo.
22
Radim 4 days ago 2 replies      
Ah! Central regulations brought us inefficient telco monopolies and cartels.

Surely some more central regulations will remedy the situation! "To each according to his needs." What could possibly go wrong?

23
mrweasel 4 days ago 11 replies      
Yeah, the telcos have already found a way out. They simply remove EU roaming from their standard subscriptions and it now becomes an add-on.

So if you want to use your phone in a different country during the holidays, you'll need an EU roaming subscription.

The politicians once again failed to be sufficient precise in formulating a law that would produce the decided result. They should have added a clause that state that all subscriptions are to cover the entire EU.

24
blibble 4 days ago 8 replies      
I never saw why this interference in the free market was needed when it was making progress, and in some circumstances already provided solutions to the problem

on Three I've had free roaming for years, at no additional cost, across the EU and a good chunk of the rest of the world

http://www.three.co.uk/feel-at-home

25
halloij 4 days ago 11 replies      
So the cost incurred will be passed on to everyone in higher fees.

eg people who never "roam" are going to be subsidising those people that do.

A negative move spun as a positive... clever EU, clever.

16
Classic Papers: Articles That Have Stood the Test of Time googleblog.com
348 points by jasim  2 days ago   49 comments top 19
1
drfuchs 2 days ago 1 reply      
They completely missed, with 1800+ citations, the winner of the Theory of Cryptography Conference (TCC) 2016 Test of Time award: Calibrating Noise to Sensitivity in Private Data Analysis by Cynthia Dwork, Frank McSherry, Kobbi Nissim, and Adam Smith. Oh, it also just won the 2017 Gdel Prize; it really ought to be at the top of both the Theoretical Computer Science and Computer Security and Cryptography lists.

Worse still, with ~3000 citations, Dworks Differential Privacy (ICALP (2) 2006: 1-12), should rank even higher in the Theoretical Computer Science list. But Google Scholar has completely lost track of that foundational paper; its got it all confused with a completely different paper, Dworks 2008 Differential Privacy: A Survey of Results. Note that this also means that anybody searching for the general topic differential privacy on Google Scholar will not get to see the most-cited paper about it! https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/wp-content/uploads/...

Disclaimer: Dwork and I have been seen together, for 24 years.

2
nyrulez 2 days ago 5 replies      
This has left me scratching my head - why just 2006 ? Having just one year of publications and labeling them "Classic Papers" is pretty misleading as the term is used to indicate a wide gamut of publications over a much longer period of time. It should be just called "Top papers or research from 2006". Unless this expands to at least cover a decade, it shouldn't be labeled as such.

This almost sounds like collecting my most liked pics from 2006 on Facebook and creating an album "Best moments of my life".

Do they not have data before 2006 ?

3
diggan 2 days ago 0 replies      
Nice list, but as many other said, seems to only be for 2006.

For more papers, there is a nice list here: http://jeffhuang.com/best_paper_awards.html not limited to 2006

There is a bunch more places to get papers listed here too: https://github.com/papers-we-love/papers-we-love#other-good-...

4
bokertov 2 days ago 0 replies      
Is the author JH He of the #1 paper in computational mathematics a self citing spammer?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/selfcitation.wordpress.com/2011...

5
whynotqat 2 days ago 2 replies      
As one might guess, there is a lot wrong with this list even within there stated goals. My examples are drawn from mathematics, since that's what I know. They appear to use the journal to classify category, which doesn't work very well since many of the best results are published in general journals. Additionally, since citation counts vary so widely between sub-fields, there is a strong pull towards selecting misclassified work from higher-citation fields. For example the paper "High-dimensional centrally symmetric polytopes with neighborliness proportional to dimension" is listed in geometry but belongs elsewhere, and there are no probability papers in the category "Probability and Statistics with Applications". Also, the "Pure & Applied" category is meaningless. That list seems to be the most cited papers from five arbitrary journals. I guess it's a reminder that these problems are hard to automate, and that your work doesn't have to be perfect to share.
6
dev_tty01 2 days ago 1 reply      
Should be labeled "Top cited papers of 2006" or something similar. Calling this collection "Classic Papers" is misleading at best.
7
glup 2 days ago 0 replies      
Methodology is not described and the resulting collections are of notably poor quality. Given Google's privileged position in knowledge production I wish they would be far more careful in cases like this.
8
logicallee 2 days ago 3 replies      
Out of curiosity, does anyone have any examples of scientific books (or papers) that are the exact opposite: influential or famous at the time but completely and utterly destroyed by the test of time. Like, that seem silly to us in how completely and utterly wrong they turned out to be in their every single conclusion.

I'm thinking about research versions of Lord Kevin's favorite edict: "Heavier than air flying machines impossible" or the patent person (examiner? head of patent office?) who in the nineteenth century said everything that can be invented has been invented.

9
ivan_ah 2 days ago 0 replies      
For everyone disappointed to see papers only from 2006, here is a consolation prize. Creating a Computer Science Canon: a Course of Classic Readings in Computer Science: http://l3d.cs.colorado.edu/~ctg/pubs/sigcsecanon.pdf (CS only, date range = [1806:2006])
10
joatmon-snoo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Noticeably missing: Gray and Lamport's "Consensus on Transaction Commit"
11
idlewords 2 days ago 0 replies      
In the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies section, five of the ten cited papers are about Turkey. Another is about representation of Islam in the Australian media.

This... doesn't seem like a very representative selection of 'timeless' papers.

12
nadim 2 days ago 0 replies      
13
nickpsecurity 2 days ago 0 replies      
The security examples were weak. Far more influential were the Ware or Anderson reports, MULTICS security evaluation, anything describing Orange Book-style systematic assurance of whole systems, at least one on capability-security or by Butler Lampson (did access control too), something on monitoring/logging, something on static analysis, CompCert or Coq, and so on.

Things that had a major impact on the problems they focused on which many other papers doing something similar built on or constantly referenced. I'm skeptical of citations in general since those who chase them usually do a high number of quotable papers in whatever fad is popular instead of hard, deep, and critical work. Those I listed are the latter with who knows what citations. The collection is probably still nice for finding neat ideas or just learning in general.

14
Aardappel 2 days ago 1 reply      
No "programming language design and implementation" category?
15
hkon 2 days ago 0 replies      
For computer science, I find most useful papers are from before 1990. Looking forward to that being included.
16
threepipeproblm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Ironically, you have to copy, paste and Google the titles of most of these to find downloadable versions.
17
teddyh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Flagged for misleading headline.
18
qrbLPHiKpiux 2 days ago 1 reply      
A lot has happened in my profession since 2006...
19
seasonalgrit 2 days ago 0 replies      
"a collection of highly-cited papers"

no, a collection of titles. a collection of papers would be very useful; these are just links, e.g., to paywalled sites.

17
NSA OSS Technologies nationalsecurityagency.github.io
419 points by andrewke  1 day ago   100 comments top 21
1
rdtsc 23 hours ago 5 replies      
This caught my eye:

> https://github.com/apache/incubator-pirk

> Employing homomorphic encryption techniques, PIR enables datasets to remain resident in their native locations while giving the ability to query the datasets with sensitive terms.

I can imagine a few scenarios there. One perhaps is when db admin should not find out what someone, possibly working on a classified project is querying.

Or say one compartment / project collected the data and now they want to share it with another project. Those read into the second project don't want to reveal to the first one what they are querying because it would reveal classified information.

Another scenario is a database which has results of possibly illegally intercepted communications. If the NSA can argue that the Constitutionally defined "search" doesn't occur until someone actually performs a search (as in runs an SQL query over the data). Then having PIR capability means being able to break the law but only let as few people as possible do it.

Also https://github.com/redhawksdr is pretty damn impressive. It looks like a complete parallel implementation of GNU Radio. Completed with an IDE and such. Wonder how it compares?

2
hueving 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Violating the sanctity of the captive portal license agreement! https://github.com/iadgov/goSecure/blob/master/scripts/wifi_...

:)

3
wfunction 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain how some of projects can be MIT-licensed (or anything-else-licensed) as they claim? Aren't they necessarily in the public domain given that they're works of the U.S. Government?
4
reiz 17 hours ago 1 reply      
That's nice to see the NSA is contributing to the OSS community. I just randomly picked one of the NSA GitHub repositories, analysed it with VersionEye (https://www.versioneye.com) and found already 25 security vulnerabilities. Who is the best person to contact in this case? Here is the security report: https://www.versioneye.com/user/projects/59479cd06725bd00123....
5
Cryptoholic 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if all the people who are really suspicious of it in here realize that this (releasing their projects as OSS) has been a thing for a while.

SELinux

Accumulo (a popular NoSQL distributed key-value store)

Apache NiFi (data processing system)

etc.

6
voltagex_ 1 day ago 2 replies      
https://github.com/ozoneplatform/owf-framework looks very interesting - NSA wrote their own BI tool?
7
lsh 1 day ago 3 replies      
I've trialed Apache Nifi and it's very powerful. It's also a little unsettling as you use it thinking about how the NSA used it ...
8
nautilus12 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Does the fact that many of these havent been updated in months or years mean that these are really old projects that effectively hold no value to the NSA and arent close to any of their core operations?
9
microwavecamera 23 hours ago 1 reply      
It's nice to see a push for open security and solutions rather than secretive offensive counter-security. Thanks. :)
10
bigon 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Also don't forget SELinux https://github.com/SELinuxProject/ which is a project that comes from the NSA as well
11
headmelted 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Femto (https://github.com/femto-dev/femto) looks pretty interesting to me just based on some work I've needed to do in the past that it would've come in handy for.

It looks like the last commit was over a year ago, though. Is there information I'm not seeing of whether these projects are actively maintained (or still in use at NSA?).

12
deepnotderp 1 day ago 3 replies      
I see the PR department is getting smarter...
13
corpMaverick 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This is nice. It should all be about protecting electronic systems. To help individuals and companies build resilient systems. It protects the USA and the world economy as a whole. It should never be about spying people or even catching criminals IMHO.
14
api 15 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my favorites is the Speck cipher, which has been released before:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speck_(cipher)

I'd be very interested in more public cryptanalysis of this. It's a damn simple cipher to implement, and if it were at least as secure as say Salsa20/12 it'd be very nice for all kinds of applications.

15
blazespin 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I suspect there are a lot of very incredible computer programmers at the NSA and they're probably using just regular open source non security related tools every day. It's good to see that they're contributing back to the OS community what they can.
16
aramas 21 hours ago 1 reply      
It's generous to have all in royalty free license.
17
SomeStupidPoint 23 hours ago 4 replies      
There's a lot of neat things there. (This one looks interesting: https://iadgov.github.io/goSecure/)

Also interesting is splitting the repos: that the NSA and IAD have different repos, and that one seems focused on defensive tech while the other is publishing analysis tools.

I know there's a lot of people who aren't fans of the NSA (or what they do), but I think most of us can see a need for a military-grade organization to research defensive technologies for helping secure our infrastructure. I don't think many of us would be unhappy with the NSA if that's all they did. (Or phrased another way: most of us are unhappy because of how they conduct intel work or compromise defensive capability for offensive ones, eg, that whole business with ECC.)

So I think it's important to respond positively to things like the IAD github page, even if we're not fans in general.

18
thrillgore 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If they're looking for pull requests, they won't find any salvation in the OSS world.
19
r3bl 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Fun sidenote: I was the very first civilian to contribute to their GitHub project back in July 2015, when SIMP was the only project they had up on GitHub.

It was literally a one letter change in the README file, but I still have the privilege to call myself the very first civilian to contribute to the NSA's open source project: https://github.com/NationalSecurityAgency/SIMP/pull/1

20
forgottenacc57 19 hours ago 4 replies      
Why are people so welcoming to the filthy spies invading citizen privacy?
21
grandalf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some very cool stuff.... useful from both a practical and anthropological standpoint.
18
Reddit Is Raising Funds at a Valuation of $1.7B bloomberg.com
347 points by champagnepapi  3 days ago   288 comments top 34
1
shawnee_ 2 days ago 4 replies      
Reddit has an opportunity to do right everything that Twitter has done (and continues to do) wrong.

It took me about ten years to figure out that Twitter is a cesspool of useless noise and ego. Everybody tries to outdo each other with noise and follower count. What Reddit does right is focus on topics, primarily, not personalities. (Although I actually like the new user profiles, since they tend to be secondary focus).

Twitter could have been something different, and I think that expectation for something more got priced into what it is valued at today. Based on Twitter's current market cap (12.12 billion dollars!) it's already overvalued by a LOT; and there's really nowhere else for it to go but down. Any new users it gets are just bots or other political warfare tools.

For me, the final straw was that Twitter wouldn't "verify" Ecosteader as a legit account. So I deleted my Twitter accounts, sold a small investment I'd opened a couple years ago, and now spend more of my idle time reading Reddit rather than Twitter. And I feel so much better for it...

A subreddit is far more useful than a hashtag... it has stay power, searchability, and (like Twitter) is the kind of place where people will vent and where companies can interact with customers / users. The key for Reddit, I think, will be to do what is right for its users to achieve information awareness... Conde Nast is a news platform, after all. Let's just hope they don't let themselves go the way of Yelp.

2
komali2 3 days ago 18 replies      
Does anybody know why development at reddit is so slow? I know they have an engineering team, but if you track the changes over the last couple years, it's not much given how much time has passed. And that's not for lack of feature requests that Reddit staff have admitted would improve the site.
3
minimaxir 3 days ago 3 replies      
Here's a quick chart of the monthly number of submissions to Reddit over time (until April 2017): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1d3kqAebZiUqmI-GbmvNY...

At about the start of 2017, Reddit saw a noticeable increase in the activity growth rate, which investors love (although the biggest chunk occurred around October/November 2016, due to the U.S. Election)

And here's the BigQuery to reproduce the aggregation:

 #standardSQL SELECT DATE_TRUNC(DATE(TIMESTAMP_SECONDS(created_utc)), MONTH) as mon, COUNT(*) as num_submissions FROM `fh-bigquery.reddit_posts.*` WHERE (_TABLE_SUFFIX BETWEEN "2015_12" AND "2017_04" OR _TABLE_SUFFIX = "full_corpus_201512") GROUP BY mon ORDER BY mon

4
chippy 2 days ago 2 replies      
Reddit has a huge value I think which has not been mentioned - that companies, corporations, organisations use it to market and advertise themselves, for free.

Sometimes they do that under the covers, so to speak, and some users don't like it (e.g. hailcorporate) but often they will promote their products transparently, and often normal users don't mind. The most obvious example is Netflix on /r/movies. Multiple employees were observed continuously posting things to the site, via submissions, comments etc and users liked it.

By introducing a charge for these corporate users they can reap in a substantial income. Whether it would make sense for them to label these corp users as such is another option, but they certainly know about them. I find it interesting that most normal users find that they don't mind interacting with paid marketing employees and that they consider it organic and natural, very interesting. I also find it worrying.

5
jacquesm 3 days ago 4 replies      
Trying to imagine the kind of strategy that will yield a large enough multiple of that valuation to satisfy the new investors, or the kind of strategy that would create an annual ROI that would keep them happy. And failing. Anybody have any idea what the long term game plan is here?
6
crispytx 3 days ago 5 replies      
Isn't reddit already successful? Why are they raising money? Shouldn't they be generating profits and returning those profits back to their shareholder(s)?
7
redm 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm considering that taking this funding at a very high valuation will force them to change Reddit in a way that results in its ultimate demise. What's wrong with a good stable community and business, as it is?
8
ngold 2 days ago 2 replies      
Cracks me up why Reddit is the way it is questions. Ask kevin Rose fron tech tv. As soon as Reddit drops its bbs style it is dead. For those complaining about Css RES.

Reddit is only a thing because people feel safe there. What other site of its user base does that?

9
theprop 2 days ago 2 replies      
Last I heard Reddit was doing less than $10 mn / year in revenues. It's highly under-monetized, but it looks difficult to grow in 5 to 10 years to generating $150 million in annual profits to justify this valuation.

I'm surprised Reddit stays so popular. I stopped using it ~8 years ago. The habit didn't stick with me (beyond a year or two).

10
grillwork 3 days ago 2 replies      
reddit is about to suffer the same mass exodus Digg did if they keep up the shit brigade.. That site has gone to hell since the election.. ruined by shills and bots in every subreddit.. can't be bothered w/ it anymore.. sick of reading about Trump and Hillary.
11
zitterbewegung 3 days ago 3 replies      
As others have mentioned development of reddit has been slow for the fact that their Engineering teams were performing Administrative tasks to the point that they could only maintain the site. Since they have cleared that hurdle by instituting more straightforward moderation and administration. The only exception to this is when a reddit admin actively modified a thread by users being hostile. This creates irreparable problems because users can't trust the administration to not tamper with their comments. They have on record stated that they will not do this in the future but you can't undo the removal of trust of their users. I have been a reddit user for almost 11 years and I am not associated of the group in question and it has made me loose faith in reddit.

Their struggles with advertisement is something they can actively address now. Before when they were smaller than digg once digg made a huge mister and alienated their users this allowed to flourish into the site it is today. Due to the fear of what occurred to Digg their advertising was less aggressive their advertisements have been less aggressive and attempt to be targeted. But, since reddit is so large now the risk of alienation is much less. Also, other condenders like imgur and voat have tried to take the throne from reddit without success. Also, they have made great strides in making it accessible to everyone and you can get anyone from any political spectrum. If reddit wants to make money they have to broaden their appeal greatly and I believe thats the purpose of the $150m. Hopefully when they do this they won't turn out like digg because they are a much larger network now.

12
ransom1538 2 days ago 2 replies      
Online communities die within months. Reddit isn't worth anything. This is insane - this community can disappear. Look at Digg, myspace, friendster. One wrong TOS update all the users will rebel and look towards the next cheaply made forum.

Disclosure: Worked in this space 10+ years.

13
alecco 2 days ago 2 replies      
If reddit founders and investors make bank out of content generated for free, the content creators will get pissed off there's nothing for them. And they'll move on.

YouTube is the only one I see who is really trying to make it work. Instagram worked it out by placed ads for the most popular models.

And a key sin of all these sites is they think the content is theirs. It's not. Stop trying to regulate it to be what you want. It is what it is and you should be thankful, very thankful, they chose your site to host it. But this doesn't seem the case. The reddit admins in particular seems to hate a large part of their content-creating user base.

14
jknoepfler 2 days ago 10 replies      
I stopped using reddit when they put a "USE OUR MOBILE APP OR DIE" message that cannot be closed conveniently on their mobile page. There is no possible advantage that can accrue to me by giving them app-level access to my device rather than running in my browser, which I trust far more than I trust them. They are literally a dynamic, partitioned page-ranking system, why in the heck would I ever let that escape the browser's sandbox?

I'm (obviously) not the target market, but I absolutely detest disingenuous behaviour like this.

15
cdnsteve 2 days ago 0 replies      
Can't read anything on mobile, now forcing login or app use on users, no thanks
16
owaislone 2 days ago 2 replies      
Isn't 1.7B a bit too low for Reddit considering it's size and popularity especially in the US?
17
throw_away_777 2 days ago 6 replies      
Reddit has the worst mobile site i've ever seen, with constant pop-ups that make the site basically unusable. Sometimes a good idea and first to the market is better than good execution.
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runeks 1 day ago 0 replies      
I suggest Reddit spend the first $1,000 in funding to fix the official Reddit app, so it properly displays Reddit markdown: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C_16loHXUAAaVlK.jpg:large
19
monksy 2 days ago 0 replies      
From what I've seen about reddit is a few things:

1. They have some weird policies about how they want their employees to work. At one point of time they were ok with being remote, then they moved everyone to SFO or told them to pound sand. 2. Scaling issues: Seems like that's an after thought and only gets addressed "when it happens"* (Never thought put in after the fact) 3. The Modmail.. it's bad when you're dealing with lots of it. There are features completely lacking. (Like searching, or a CRM for users and how they contacted the mods) 4. The non-obvious spam.. it's gotten worse now that they took down r/spam.

20
Kequc 2 days ago 5 replies      
Please explain to me in simple terms why a website property is worth so much.

Keeping in mind this has remained a mystery to me ever since Facebook didn't sell for a million dollars an eon ago. Facebook's founder is today worth some ridiculous sum of money. Why is that? I'd have sold Facebook for a million dollars and then just made another website. What am I missing. YouTube sold for some amazing sum ages ago to Google, who has from my understanding still not turned a profit with it.

Since I am clearly so out of touch please make the explanation easy to understand.

21
makecheck 2 days ago 9 replies      
It seems like Reddit would be a good candidate for experimenting with tiny fees: namely, $12 per year just to use it. Thats one (moderately priced) lunch in total, a dollar a month, for a site that provides a huge amount of content and discussion or just distraction. Far less than one crappy movie in a theater, too. And if everyone paid this, theyd have tons of cash.
22
rimjeilly 3 days ago 0 replies      
ven cap $ = the demise (most likely)
23
agentgt 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's interesting about Reddit is boutique consumer product companies that use it to create cult like addictics of their products.

It would be interesting to see some potential marketplace addons or payment processing.

Thus reddit could long term replace or absorb Etsy and maybe maybe Craigslist.

24
threepipeproblm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe an interesting time to point out a site I just ran across which is reddit-like, but (as far as I can figure) uses cryptocurrency to fund itself and pay contributors.

Steemit "Your voice is worth something"https://steemit.com/

Of all the supposed reddit-killers that have been put forward, this is notable because of the funding mechanism, and because everyone there seems so damn excited. However, a lot of the most popular articles seem to be about... Steemit itself.

25
Elect2 2 days ago 0 replies      
What's the point of the new "profile post"? What kind of content you are willing to post on your profile?
26
lph 2 days ago 0 replies      
Good. Maybe they can finally afford to make their "Submit" button idempotent.
27
ares2012 3 days ago 0 replies      
If that happens, the Digg team is going to REALLY regret all of those missteps along the way.
28
Sir_Cmpwn 2 days ago 1 reply      
If Reddit is still around in 10 years, I will eat my hat.
29
notwedtm 2 days ago 1 reply      
So Reddit is worth less than Minecraft? How does this work?
30
ptenk 2 days ago 0 replies      
They should do an ICO. I would buy their tokens.
31
ejcx 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would love to know revenue numbers. At some point, 10 years in, you need to have a monetization plan. $1.7B is a lot of money
32
m-j-fox 3 days ago 7 replies      
I love Reddit, but remind me what's their business model? I've never seen an ad using Relay For Reddit. Free content is great but how do they keep the lights on much less justify $1.7 billion? (Also, HN. Servers are cheap but how do they pay dang to tell me I'm being toxic?)
33
naaaaak 2 days ago 2 replies      
1.7B for a pro-censorship left-wing cheerleading site. Not worth.
34
kumarvvr 3 days ago 0 replies      
Seems to be less than reasonably priced.

I know reddit gets a lot of flak for shit-posting content, especially during and after the recent US elections, but it has huge potential to become a consistent part of a users media consumption & participation diet.

It's really addictive.

19
Maps reveal the structures of Choose Your Own Adventure books atlasobscura.com
374 points by oska  4 days ago   112 comments top 39
1
harryf 4 days ago 8 replies      
Shame they didn't map some of the Fighting Fantasy books ( http://www.fightingfantasy.com/ ) or Steve Jackson's Sorcery Series ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorcery! - now made into a series of mobile apps http://www.inklestudios.com/sorcery/ ). Jackson & Livingstone really pushed this format far more than the "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.

Most of all I remember "Creature of Havoc" ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creature_of_Havoc ) as being amazing and extremely hard. Instead of being an adventurer you play a monster with limited IQ forced to unravel the mystery of your own existence. It employed various techniques that prevented cheating like "If you have the key, add the number written on the key to this page number to open the door". One of those puzzles still has people discussing it http://laurencetennant.com/bonds/creatureofhavoc.html ( contains spoilers ). At 13 years old it took me and a friend 2-3 months to finally crack it.

2
Erwin 4 days ago 1 reply      
If your nostalgia makes you yearn for this type of game with relatively limited choices, the "80 days" game (perfect for the iPad but now also PC/android) is fantastic: it's a Steampunk twist on the Vernes story (so rockets are a valid form of transportation!) and has excellent world building and great writing -- as good as my other verbose favorites: Witcher 3, Planescape Torment and Betrayal at Krondor.

A play-through can be attempted very quickly, every time experiencing something new -- you are racing through the world attempting to return to London in 80 days.

The creator, Inkle, have a more traditional RPG, Sorcery. Also good for re-creating feel of a classic D&D adventure, but I enjoyed encountering automatons in Vienna in "80 Days" more.

3
rumcajz 4 days ago 5 replies      
I want to write a book about crypto for kids using the similar idea.

The map will be more linear-ish, or rather one mail path with side loops -- imagine passing levels in a game, you are provided ways to practice a new skill until you are able to pass to new level.

More interestingly, the progress through the book can be itself constrained by a kind of crypto.

The chapters in the book will be numbered and ordered at random. At the end of each chapter it will say "goto chapter 234." or "goto chapter 34 mod 12"

Now imagine the player wants to cheat and starts with a random chapter in the middle of the book. He won't be able to find previous chapter (it's kind of a one-way function). Morever, if progress to chapter N+1 is gated by a puzzle that requires skill learned in chapter N-1, he can't move forward either.

Some initial notes are here: https://github.com/sustrik/crypto-for-kids

4
dustingetz 4 days ago 1 reply      
It raises some interesting questions. To vizualize a program in a useful way, is it an exercise in what you can take away? Take away everything so all you are left with is text nodes and links, and that is something easy to visualize.

This is all so obvious but it never solidified concretely like this for me until now.

The following domains have a bunch of stuff taken away from them, you're left with a narrow domain of very few concepts, and once narrowed it is intuitive to make a visual tool:

 webforms - google forms relational forms - airtable computer aided design music - OneNote mathematica video games - unity website - squarespace crud app - hyperfiddle.net world wide web - internet explorer, or html
Functional programming may be a way to narrow down the set of "all programs" to a few primitives that can be modeled visually, but not take away so much that it is not useful for general purpose programs. Maybe visualizing pure expressions as a tree of function calls or as an execution graph. IDEs can already do this for imperative & object oriented programs, but you end up with a hairball, the visualization is not useful enough that we no longer need, for example, to write code in files.

What other ways can we attack a large domain like "enterprise business apps" and take things away until left with a few simple composable primitives?

5
jcahill 4 days ago 0 replies      
Notable exception: Meanwhile (2001).

Web blurb, slightly different from print

____________________

Meanwhile began as a series of seven increasingly complex flowcharts. Once the outline of the story was structured, a computer algorithm determined the most efficient way to transfer it to book form, using a system of tabs to interlink the panels and pages. The problem proved to be NP-complete; it was finally cracked in spring of 2000, with the aid of a V-opt heuristic algorithm which ran for twelve hours on an SGI machine.

____________________

http://zarfhome.com/meanwhile

6
assert 4 days ago 2 replies      
TL;DR: map with crappy AI payoffs here: https://github.com/richelbilderbeek/CityOfThieves/blob/maste...

As a kid, I played 'City of Thieves' by Ian Livingstone. When entering that city, there is a crossing and one can pick three roads, all leading to the same city market.I always wondered: what is the best route of the three?

To do so, I first ported 'City Of Thieves' to console and desktop and Nintendo DS (after mailing the book company for permission, which I got). Then I wrote an AI that assigns payoffs to the different chapters. Not only did this result in such a map, but also the payoff it assigns to each chapter: https://github.com/richelbilderbeek/CityOfThieves/blob/maste...

The question is still unsolved though, as I do not trust the implementation of the AI :-)

7
odammit 4 days ago 2 replies      
My school had a program where you would get a free pizza from Pizza Hut for every ten books you read.

I didn't like the idea of lying about reading but I was OK with gaming the system by reading 'choose your own adventure' books.

I would pick the dumbest options because I knew it was likely I'd die fast and the book would be over.

8
cossatot 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting to me how infrequently different paths link up. Alhough this is obviously the point of the book series, it still embodies a set of assumptions about free will vs. predestination/inevitability. Maybe there could be some choose your own crime books where a lot of the outcomes end in jail.

I only read a few of these way back when, so I don't remember exactly if this happened, but another possible take would be a sort of 'where were you when the big [whatever] happened'. How do different choices early on determine how you're affected by the Plague/ day Dublin's streets ran with Guinness/ Chicxulub impact.

9
Rudism 4 days ago 2 replies      
I spent some time a while ago developing my own system to create CYOA books based on Markdown (called Ficdown). The goal was to develop a simple way to write books without having to write code, and that could be exported to normal e-book formats like epub, mobi, or html with clickable links used to make your decisions as you read the book.

I ran into a lot of unexpected technical complexities in the compilation step, for example trying to remove unreachable branches of the story, and optimizing situations where branches merged back together, or removing variables that were being tracked that no longer had any effect on the story from that point on. It was a fun exercise. It makes me wonder how earlier CYOA books and series were actually written. How hard was it to keep track of the various branching plot lines? Were there ever cases where "bugs" were published? I was a massive fan of CYOA, especially Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy series.

10
rmidthun 4 days ago 0 replies      
CYOA still lives, but in different forms.

Japanese Visual Novels are basically CYOA with pictures. The number of decision points varies depending on the book in question, but the basic structure is still there.

Twine [1] is a system that allows you to create stories, essentially CYOA but with the option of adding variables. For instance, you could have an option that is only selectable if you found a key earlier. This bridges the gap between CYOA and classic text adventure. Since Twine outputs HTML it is also easy to port wherever you want.

Finally, there are a number of online community CYOA. This being the Internet, the quality is varied and many of them are pornographic. Probably the biggest is Addventure[2]

[1] http://twinery.org/[2] http://www.addventure.com/

11
rumcajz 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interesting that nobody mentioned Borges here. Labyrinthine books are one of the recurring themes in his writing.

In one short story he proposes a kind of reverse CYOA book: A book with many beginnings but only one ending.

12
lukasb 4 days ago 1 reply      
They mention "Inside UFO 54-40" but don't have a graph for it :( which is a shame because it would have been the only disconnected graph
13
setq 4 days ago 0 replies      
Inspired by this type of book, I used to write BBC BASIC adventure games in the late 1980's at school. It was great fun planning the structure of them on paper and coming up with the graphs first.
14
Shivetya 4 days ago 3 replies      
So much of the computer adventure gaming / MMO style could benefit from understanding how these books worked. Everything is so linear these days with no failed paths. While some games may present choices you can usually find a strategy guide that shows all the ones that will fail as everything is fixed.

Still the maps match up with a lot of the examples I have seen of flow charts/maps/grids from authors who scope out their stories and then fill in where its important and interesting with the actual text we get to read

15
Im_a_throw_away 4 days ago 7 replies      
Any good "choose your own adventure" book you would recommend for adults?
16
vinbreau 4 days ago 1 reply      
As a kid I began to map my CYA books in a similar fashion. I wanted to write my own and so would mimic the structure of the books I had. Twelve year old me would have loved nice clean maps like these. I'm sure mine were nowhere as neat.
17
im3w1l 4 days ago 1 reply      
If you like CYOA and programming, you should check out Ren'py. It's a python engine for creating digital CYOA stories. Wikipedia tells me that over a thousand games have been created with it.
18
ctack 4 days ago 1 reply      
My strongest memory of these is lots of endings, almost exclusively bad endings and vanishingly little reading.
19
ropable 3 days ago 0 replies      
There was another CYOA series called Way of the Tiger by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson where you played a ninja. They were pretty unforgiving and graphic. My younger self enjoyed those enough that I was inspired to convert the first one into a web application a few years ago: https://ropable.com/avenger/
20
exelius 4 days ago 0 replies      
I loved these books as a child. I had always wanted to play a video game that worked this way; which I guess is why I am such a fan of the BioWare style of games.
21
hcs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Interesting, so many analyses of these structures!

One more that I don't think was reachable from the article is on the blog These Heterogenous Tasks:

https://heterogenoustasks.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/standard-...

22
mathw 4 days ago 1 reply      
I used to keep a log so I could backtrack when I hit a terrible ending. I implemented savegames.

Or I was maze-solving. Probably both.

23
tenkabuto 4 days ago 1 reply      
Seeing discussions here, I now realize that one could write a work of fiction firstly as though it were a CYOA, allowing the writer to explore various potential threads and ultimately choose to present in a final copy the chosen path (chosen due to its degree of intrigue/drama/oddity/etc.). I have attempted to write stories before but I would get stuck with thinking "OK, where should I go from here?", which I see, from this CYOA perspective, is more of an editor's perspective than a creative perspective; the creative perspective can be allowed for with the exploration of various tracks/paths and the editor perspective can come into play once those have been fleshed out.
24
ForRealsies 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like someone to map a digital variable based novel like Samurai of Hyuga.

https://www.choiceofgames.com/user-contributed/samurai-of-hy...

25
allenu 4 days ago 0 replies      
Choose Your Own Adventure and text-based adventure games you type into your computer (with BASIC) really got me into computers as a kid back in the late 80s/early 90s.

I wrote my own gamebooks using a simple notepad and "turn to page XXX"-style narratives. In the end, they are just programs that you follow. :)

To this day, I'm still fascinated by them and recently wrote some sites that let you create CYOA-style adventures yourself and with others; http://www.thiswayorthat.club is one of them.

26
neonhomer 4 days ago 0 replies      
For anyone who's feeling nostalgic and wants a quick (or long) choose your own adventure, http://chooseyourstory.com/ has some interesting stories.

I really enjoyed http://chooseyourstory.com/story/ground-zero and http://chooseyourstory.com/story/dead-man-walking-(zombie-su...

27
scirocco 4 days ago 1 reply      
For a long time I've thought about having a similar map but for research. Imagining seeing which work builds on what, how they relate and easily scroll to the right to see the latest topics in that field.
28
ggambetta 4 days ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of a CYO-style game for iPad I was the lead developer for.

After we were done I added some code to output the graph structure of the game, rendered it with GraphViz, and gave it to the artist, who came up with this: https://twitter.com/rmodjeski/status/455184159401472000

29
tdeck 4 days ago 2 replies      
I was thinking rather sadly recently that I'm probably in the last generation that has heard of these and will get the reference. The Choose Your Own Adventure books are a great analogy for certain programming topics but if young people have never heard of them it doesn't do much good. That said, they were pretty mediocre fiction as I recall it.
30
addled 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had forgotten all about COYA books until recently, when I was at a yard sale and found Twist-a-Plot's "Calling Outer Space". I had never heard of it but instantly knew I had to have it as soon as I saw that crazy cover.

I've had a blast reading this together with my 7 year old son.

31
b0rsuk 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's interesting that almost all choices in "Choose your own adventure" are binary. They are, with few exceptions, binary trees. There can only be more than 2 choices if children of the node are leaf nodes (endings). A very simple way to keep number of branches reasonably low.
32
pfarnsworth 4 days ago 1 reply      
I bought Choose Your Own Adventure books when they first came out. I went through my old book collection and it turns out I have Cave of Time, First printing. Obviously worthless but still a testament to how memorable it was for a kid.
33
thinkingemote 4 days ago 0 replies      
When I was playing/reading these (e.g. Livingstone's) as a child I found a pattern. Always choose the lower number if you are unsure. (Or higher if that worked, and if it does work, stick with it). I'd like to compare those maps now.
34
bcyn 4 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sad they didn't include the Goosebumps books, I loved those when I was a kid.
35
luke0016 4 days ago 1 reply      
It's fun to look for cycles. Looks like "Space and Beyond," "Journey under the Sea," and "By Balloon to the Sahara" could each provide a lifetime of reading...
36
trevman 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you liked this, you might like this data analysis of CYOA:

http://samizdat.cc/cyoa/

37
ZanyProgrammer 4 days ago 0 replies      
I think my favorite CYOA books were the Escape series. I also remember playing a video game version of Escape on a neighbors Commodore 64.
38
Markoff 4 days ago 0 replies      
can you recommend some similar Android games with CYOA similar to Lifeline preferably without waiting?
39
jamesmintram 4 days ago 0 replies      
Fighting Fantasy... Just gonna leave this here: http://nomadgames.co.uk/fightingfantasy/

(Disclosure: I am one of the programmers)

20
The Konami exodus nikkei.com
390 points by slantyyz  5 days ago   289 comments top 28
1
sillysaurus3 4 days ago 5 replies      
One thing we're overlooking is that even if these actions are illegal, employees are rarely in a position to do anything about it. The power asymmetry is vast. Most employees don't have savings, especially in the game industry, and they'd regret spending any of it on courts. Could the courts even do much?

Having newspapers write an article about it is probably one of the more effective ways of dealing with this.

2
paulmd 4 days ago 4 replies      
You know what one of the absolute defenses against libel is?

The truth.

Konami treated Kojima like shit, Kojima left and took most of the talent with him. What Konami has left is a pretty cool engine and a hot IP, no creatives. MGS fans know it and don't respect Konami's next project even a little. Zombie-survival alternate universe, really?

In contrast I don't even know what Kojima's next thing is, it'll probably be pretty cool though. Kojima is good at over the top absurd and awesome.

Also, it's a fucking travesty that Fox Engine won't be used for anything important ever again, because for an open-world engine it runs like a dream. Too bad the online multiplayer is a non-stop cheatfest.

3
Illniyar 4 days ago 6 replies      
That seems very counterproductive to me, who will want to go work in Konami once this behavior is known? This will probably severely hamper their ability to recruit, especially recruit experienced people.

Am I missing something? Perhaps it's more common in Japan's video game industry to work in the same place for life?

4
kazinator 4 days ago 2 replies      
That's crazy. Ok, "you can't put on your resume you worked here or we will take you to court."

The judge will only want to know one thing: is it true whether or not that person worked for Konami.

Is there no paper trail to substantiate that? Contracts?

Did they have no signed contracts, and get paid in cash?

5
otachack 4 days ago 0 replies      
I wish the ex employees of Konami luck. This blacklist behavior will only help in further developing the independent game scene in Japan. We've seen great games in the past from Japan such as Cave Story, La Mulana, Downwell, and also Kickstarter-ish campaigns for spiritual sequels to classic genres. Kojima's name itself carries a ton of industry weight and I'm sure he and his team won't find trouble finding funds and talent for their endeavors as hinted by teasers of his new IP.

It's unfortunate that a slew of IPs will go down with Konami, but they haven't been looking great in awhile and this is just a conclusion of the signs in the past. Silent Hill, Metal Gear, Suikoden, ZoE, even those weird late 90s PS1 games like Broken Helix will always be remembered by me.

6
digitalzombie 4 days ago 1 reply      
> Ex-Kons are not allowed to put their Konami experience on their public resumes.

I had a start up that tried to do this a year or so later, after I left the company on bad term mind you. The lead basically tried to bully me. I just up and left on the same day that he tried that.

I read this and look around where I'm at, palm trees and beach. Oh right I'm in California.

I tried several emails to explain to the lawyer. He made bunch of bs excuses.

So I immediately googled for a cease and desist letter and send it to the buddy.

He basically asked me if I know who he is.

I don't care if your Donald Trump. If Trump couldn't pass the muslim ban good luck with you trying to ~~force~~ coerce me to remove this experience from my linkedin.

After that I never hear from the lawyer again or his company again.

7
Kiro 4 days ago 1 reply      
Is this a cultural thing? I know a lot of Japanese people and I get the feeling that some things that are completely outrageous in the Western world are not frowned upon in Japan. I can't imagine even the most shady company doing the stuff mentioned under "Persona non grata" in my country without causing a complete shitstorm.
8
zitterbewegung 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think this will backfire and just make Death Stranding and Kohjima more popular. As a developer Konami is really struggling and I wouldn't be suprised that it closed down soon or got consolidated .
9
jpatokal 4 days ago 0 replies      
One other thing worth mentioning is that gaming companies work famously punishing hours, Japanese companies work famously punishing hours, so unsurprisingly Japanese gaming companies work really punishing hours... and Konami is infamous even by those standards!

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/www.polygon.com/platform/amp...

10
maruhan2 4 days ago 3 replies      
It doesn't matter if it's legal or not. If someone is gonna apply to another game company and the company sees konami in the resume, they could call up konami and ask about them. Then, Konami will give a bad review. That alone is a risk employees do not want to take
11
erikb 4 days ago 1 reply      
This is why you should take care of your stars well, even if they make weird requests. Konami will probably win the battle, but lose the war for the customer's hearts. In the end just everybody involved loses. If Konami instead supported Kojima, maybe even invest in his company, both could have made loads of money together.
12
afinlayson 4 days ago 3 replies      
Funny gamers are blacklisting Konami, for putting out an unfinished game like MGS5, firing Kojima and trying to ruin his legacy with Metal Gear Survivor....
13
spamlord 4 days ago 0 replies      
Hopefully this is included in Jim Sterling's next 'Fuck Konami News' segment, because fuck Konami.
14
drawkbox 4 days ago 0 replies      
This could just be my experience but one thing I have learned working in games is that Asian companies can be really authoritarian to their employees. I have experienced this with Japan, South Korea and China. Game companies are very secretive and authoritarian with their workers to begin with but culturally it seems more acceptable in teams I worked with in Asia.

A team I worked with in South Korea regularly slept at the office because the Korean lead was there slave driving the crunch. South Korea in itself is hard to even launch a game there because they demand percentages and you must have internal teams/representatives, similar with China. China team, the employees were always in a fear state of making the boss angry or doing the wrong thing. I noticed that it led to releases just to meet dates even if the work was incomplete just so the boss would not get mad. Working with them the devs told me they regularly ship when not complete just to satisfy dates and it led to many issues especially at hand off points because they knew it wasn't fully functioning.

I think overall companies in games think they can get away with this ownership/authoritarian type attitude anyways, but it might be easier in Asian cultures where there is a more authoritarian lean.

15
dceddia 4 days ago 0 replies      
> In 2014, Konami workers who liked a Facebook post by an ex-Kon saying he started working for a different company were shuffled to different positions.

I know it's generally a bad idea to badmouth employers, past or present, on Facebook or other social media... but punishing employees for merely "liking" a post is more excessive than I've heard before. Maybe it's a cultural difference, but it seems very Big Brother of them nonetheless.

16
kakarot 4 days ago 0 replies      
Konami put out a lot of classics in the 90's that I enjoyed, but after Hideo Kojima's departure there is just no reason to support them as a company. I'm pretty sure they were the reason Project M was canceled, but we'll never really know. They won't be seeing any more of my money.
17
lazugod 4 days ago 1 reply      
Are these actions legal in Japan?
18
mcguire 4 days ago 1 reply      
"In April this year, a Kojima Productions executive applied for the company to join ITS Kenpo, a health insurance society for companies in the gaming and internet service industry. Joining such insurance organizations is crucial to employee welfare, but the application was not even accepted. When the executive asked why, he was told by ITS Kenpo that all applications are screened by the board chairman before being reviewed by the board, and it could not show this application to the chairman."

I'm sorry, "could not show this application to the chairman"?

19
Pxtl 4 days ago 0 replies      
I can't wait for Konami to go bankrupt so that somebody will finally do something with the great stuff they made. How on earth is there not a modern 4-player Contra game?
20
throwaway47861 4 days ago 0 replies      
Damn, and I thought I was a vengeful person.

Goes to show you once more how many people on positions of power have the emotional intelligence of a bully teenager but they can't be touched.

21
hkmurakami 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well konami wanted to diversify out of the video game business (for example they run a large chain of sports gyms) so hey they're getting some help in that regard.
22
cavanasm 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of some of the drama surrounding Keiji Inafune (creator of Megaman) leaving Capcom. Not nearly the level of company push back / employment issues, but there was lots of blame slinging on both ends. Then the appearance that Capcom cancelled an in development Megaman game that Inafune reportedly wasn't very involved in just to spite him (which I'm still sad about).
23
matthewmcg 4 days ago 0 replies      
So instead of an "up or out" culture they have an "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right" culture?
24
demarq 4 days ago 2 replies      
How I'd love to make some app that would help protect IP workers some way :( This is more of a policy issue, unfortunately.
25
GuB-42 4 days ago 0 replies      
The Konami exodus, when people are leaving up, up, down, down, left, right, left and right.
26
salesguy222 4 days ago 3 replies      
I love how the society we currently live in places so much confidence in the statement that "corporations = efficient, rational market actors"...

and yet here we are, slaves to whims of a few thousand people globally who control 35 trillion dollars in assets.

This virtually guarantees that if you want to make a liveable income, you either need to work for or sell to a truly psychotic group of individuals who control an arbitrarly large portion of wealth thanks to a host of monetary and legal policies.

27
naaaaak 4 days ago 0 replies      
Companies that do this are screwing themselves hard in the long-term. No one of value will want a job there.
28
nnq 4 days ago 1 reply      
Mostly offtopic, but: Is it just me, or based on both politics, social dynamics and economic indicators, Japan is economically speaking a house of cards waiting to fucking fall apart in a huuuuge crysis?! I mean, I guess that aged population coupled with pro-peace/buddshit-style mindsets in some younger ones stabilized things a bit... but for how long?

(Don't tell me US is the same: the transparency with which they wash their dirty laundry in international public waters, and the fact that they have many layers of "social backups" are just two reasons to believe otherwise.)

21
Facebooks Safety Check is a stress-inducing flip of social norms techcrunch.com
324 points by imartin2k  5 days ago   280 comments top 28
1
rabboRubble 5 days ago 13 replies      
I lived through a major natural disaster that left me an evacuee for months. Facebook's safety check is the only reason I haven't killed my account and I've said this before in prior comments here on Hacker News.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14412146

Thank god the author hasn't lived through an event where everybody you know is affected by the event. The ability to say "I'm okay", say it once, and have everybody you know on FB see it is a huge stress reducer. It cuts back on the number of "are you okay?" messages you receive during the event when you may not have a lot of battery or a lot of spare brain to dedicate to answering lots of bullshit inquiries.

If he's feeling stressed out because of FB opening the "I'm okay" service in that small area for that catastrophic fire, he's being a self centered jerk. I guarantee that FBs service is helping some poor soul mixed up in that mess.

Edit: The Facebook safety check feature is not unique to Facebook. In many ways it mimics Japan's disaster message board feature. Every teleco in Japan offers this service:

https://www.nttdocomo.co.jp/english/info/disaster/disaster_b...

I really think the author has lived too lucky a life in a place that has not suffered overmuch from disasters. He can't see beyond his own narrow vision.

2
whatevthrow31 5 days ago 19 replies      
Ok, I had to make a throwaway for this because apparently its a heated debate.

Why does everything Facebook do have to be so heavily criticized?

Safety Check is a wonderful feature. If I remember correctly, it started off as an internal hackathon project that got turned into a full feature. They get shit if they turn it on (here), and if they don't turn it on (past tragedies where they failed to turn it on).

Why does everything Facebook do turn into a riot? After years in the industry, 95% of things that are "bad" that come out of big companies end up being well meaning and just look malicious without context. Hanlon's razor is real.

Yeah, Facebook has to fund all this somehow. Yeah, they are going to make their ad space extremely valuable with all the information they have. They don't sell your raw data. They sell access to you like the rest of the industry.

Those creepy ads that you saw based on some conversation you had? Turns out that they're NOT listening to your mic or whatever. It's either confirmation bias or something you're not thinking about.

Those friends that they suggest with a new account? Turns out your friends posted pictures of you on Facebook, and Facebook knows how to do facial recognition.

It feels like everything Facebook is overblown on HN. What am I missing?

Edit: I should have said this originally, but I'm a former Facebook employee, now at another big tech company. I try not to be too controversial in writing, which is why I made a throwaway.

3
ars 5 days ago 1 reply      
> However 97 are worryingly labelled not marked as safe yet.

That's the problem.

It should be a positive notification only, without any negative one. People can say they are safe (I see value in that). But facebook should not say anything at all if someone has not declared themself safe.

4
bbarn 5 days ago 7 replies      
I've said it before here, and I'll say it every time it's relevant:

Stop using Facebook. Start telling your friends and family to do the same. As the "smart computer person" in many people's lives, you can be the voice they need to hear.

5
onewaystreet 5 days ago 2 replies      
It wasn't long ago that Facebook was being criticized for not enabling Safety Check:

https://techcrunch.com/2015/11/15/facebook-says-it-will-enab...

>Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg committed to turning on Safety Check in more human disasters going forward, responding to criticism that the company turned on its safety feature for Paris but not for Beirut and other bombings.

6
clusmore 5 days ago 2 replies      
>But by making Safety Check a default expectation Facebook flips the norms of societal behavior and suddenly no one can feel safe unless everyone has manually checked the Facebook box marked safe.

I'm not buying this statement. Where is the evidence of this? The article features two tweets from nondescript people stating they think the feature spreads unnecessary fear, but features no tweets from people who actually felt unnecessary fear. Are there any cases of people who felt afraid because their loved ones didn't check in even though they could have? Otherwise to me this argument is just speculation.

7
protomyth 5 days ago 1 reply      
Putting Safety Check activation in this protective, semi-algorithmic swaddling means the company can cushion itself from blame when the feature is (or is not) activated since its not making case-by-case decisions itself yet also (apparently) sidestep the responsibility for its technology enabling widespread algorithmic stress. As is demonstrably the case here, where its been activated across London and beyond.

We would be much better off if we stopped accepting fake apologies and 'the algorithm did it not us' excuses.

Facebook employees programmed this thing under, I assume, the direction of management. This is Facebook's fault not some magic, wibly, wobly force. It's one thing to have a bug, but this is working as specified.

8
toomanybeersies 5 days ago 1 reply      
I noticed this last night as well. Someone I knew checked in to say they were ok. I looked at the news and saw that it was a building that housed 500 people, in one of the largest cities in the world.

It was the same recently when we had a storm in New Zealand, and they activated safety check for the entire country. I don't think it even ended up raining where I was at the time.

9
bogomipz 5 days ago 2 replies      
I find it disturbing that FB sees itself as the arbiter of which events and what people are in need of alerting.
10
ceocoder 4 days ago 0 replies      
My cousin and his wife were in Nice on the day of attack in 2016, after obsessively refreshing the page; seeing a green check mark next to their name was the greatest sigh of relief.

Back in 2001, I was in India when one of the worst earthquakes to hit that state in recent memory struck. I lived with my grandma and grandpa, and rest of my family - mom, dad, sister, uncles, aunts, cousins were at a wedding. For literally 7 hours we had no way of communicating with each other - they didn't know if we made it or not.

So yeah, Safety Check tool is just fine in my book, just mere act of being able to say "I'm OK" makes a massive difference.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Gujarat_earthquake

11
pcunite 5 days ago 1 reply      
Its all fun and games until FB starts taking over your sense of security, your world view, and your life.
12
ganonm 4 days ago 0 replies      
The main issue I have with this feature is that as far as I can tell there is no way to opt out. I don't want this feature and I choose not to respond to the notifications I occasionally receive when there is a terrorist event in my city. That leaves me in a bind - unless I tell friends and family who use Facebook that I'm actively choosing not to use the feature, they invariably begin to worry about me when I don't 'mark myself as safe'. This to me is unacceptable.
13
ardacinar 4 days ago 0 replies      
That seems to be an abuse of the security check feature by Facebook's part. 6 mile radius for a fire in a ridiculously large city? As mentioned in other comments, that feature can be very useful in cases of natural disasters or large terror attacks that prompted the creation of this feature. (Although, to be frank, living in Istanbul, it had become somewhat annoying to mark myself safe every couple of weeks or so - though this is more directed towards the Turkish government than Facebook)
14
wayanon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Glad to hear other people are bothered about this too. I wish there was a way to opt out.
15
ivanhoe 4 days ago 0 replies      
So now people can't stand being "stressed" by a simple dialog asking them if they wish to mark themselves safe? I'd understand if it's some business app and you're in the middle of something important, but c'mon you're already wasting your time looking at newsfeed? Is it really that hard and time consuming to answer or just ignore that dialog? Or is it about emotions, you don't like being reminded of the bad things happening in the real world around you?!
16
bryanrasmussen 4 days ago 0 replies      
I like to complain about everything Facebook does as well as the next guy, but in the rare case when they seem to have done something for promoting a social good I'm going to give them a pass.
17
mxfh 5 days ago 0 replies      
If it's not about wide area disaster response, it's pretty much down to this:

Wed be better off checking in as safe after our morning commute

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/facebook-safety-check-lo...

18
phewvvg 4 days ago 0 replies      
I grew up in a town about 80 kilometers north of London and used to go there pretty frequently, until I moved to Amsterdam last summer, so it was pretty surprising when I opened Facebook yesterday evening and was asked if I was safe from the fire in London.

I think Facebook's Safety Check is a good feature, but the implementation is pretty dreadful.

19
Hattes 4 days ago 0 replies      
20
yladiz 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can kind of understand the vilification of this feature, and the reasons for that are explained in other comments on this post, but I think it's a major improvement to how it would have been before, and on other current platforms as well. Unlike other ways to keep in touch with friends, like WhatsApp, WeChat, Kakao, Facebook isn't just a messaging platform (although that's how I primarily use it) and so it's actually possible to see someone marked as safe without having to directly message them about it. This is a direct improvement over other platforms where the only way you know if someone is safe is to actually message them.

I don't really buy the argument that you would just assume someone is safe before; you would absolutely have thw worry that if there was a disaster in London, you would want to know if your friend is safe. Previously you couldn't easily contact them, though: if you even had their phone number, calling them internationally wouldn't be easy or sometimes even possible, but often you'd have their address, and hope they would respond to you. Now it's much easier to keep in touch.

I also feel like people are making controversy over nothing when they think that asking if they're safe when they're in London during that fire is too much if they're not in the vicinity. Facebook is in a catch-22 here; Facebook either knows your (roughly) exact location and knows if you were in or near the apartment building at the time, which would make people cry about Facebook tracking you everywhere, or it doesn't and it asks if you're safe if you're in London. Even in the image from the tweet that this article references there is a "Not in the area" button you can press. There's really no way to correctly do this without having really accurate and very up to date information about the people using Facebook, which isn't always possible.

Could Facebook improve the ways it determines if a user is in the area? Yes, of course; a simple way would be to look up IP address block(s) and see if the user is in a block they look up, then prompt them, although it's not really that simple. I also run into issues with Facebook thinking I'm in Japan when I'm not, even though I left nearly a month ago. Facebook really could also improve the UI around it; the point at the bottom of the article when it says that the writer has 100 (probably) London based friends, 97 of which are not "marked as safe", which is terrible UI. But I do absolutely disagree that this feature is worth removing based on the arguments presented in this article.

21
markatkinson 4 days ago 0 replies      
I live in Cape Town, South Africa and we had a storm that was a bit worst than usual. I don't have facebook but someone told me the Safety Check came up for them during the storm 0_0.

Sounds like a neurotic grand mother.

22
zebraflask 4 days ago 0 replies      
I view it as an invasion of privacy. It's not Facebook's job to do things like that. All it accomplishes is to act like a megaphone to artificially amplify the significance of the story (insert comparisons to Fox News and tabloids here). I'm sure there could be endless debates about the propriety of doing that, but from my perspective, spreading bad news to encourage user hysteria, mostly for the sake of reinforcing platform loyalty, is ethically very questionable.

In any event, Facebook these days is only useful anymore as a convenient login mechanism for sites that use the Facebook login widget, and even there, Google's version works better.

23
kylegordon 4 days ago 1 reply      
This particular instance of the safety check was utterly ridiculous and pointless. My wife and a friend were prompted to 'Mark as safe', except we both were in Glasgow.

Over 400 miles away.

24
wutbrodo 4 days ago 0 replies      
> Those same friends would likely not have even thought to consider there was any risk prior to the existence of the Facebook feature.

This article is cynical clickbait nonsense, right down to assuming that it's impossible for Facebook to implement something for any reason but engagement. I'm no fan of Facebook but the idea that, to a man, they're faceless stock price maximizers is just stupid and frankly insulting.

I know plenty of people who immediately think of (and often call) family/friends in an affected area when a disaster happens. Depending on how far away it is, it can even be at the level of a city.

25
weirdshape 4 days ago 1 reply      
I can't really relate to people who who clamber to push out notifications to their friends and family about the minutiae of their lives.
26
dkarapetyan 5 days ago 0 replies      
Facebook is training rats in a maze. At least the theory is the same. So the question then is, are you a rat in a maze?
27
wayanon 4 days ago 0 replies      
Is it possible to opt out of Safety Check?
28
lngnmn 4 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't social norms depend upon location, community, and culture?

Hipster's demand to respect that shallow outward sophistication they cosplay cannot be considered as a universal standard.

For most people there is nothing stress-inducing. Merely boring stuff.

22
Supercharge your Computer Vision models with the TensorFlow Object Detection API googleblog.com
345 points by janober  3 days ago   58 comments top 15
1
yamaneko 3 days ago 1 reply      
Their repository is pretty neat! It includes three state-of-the-art architectures in object detection: Faster-RCNN, RFCN, and SSD. It is missing YOLO [1][2], though, which shares some similarities with SSD. Another detector is the recently released Mask-RCNN [3], which of course wouldn't be possible to be included in this publication as we can't travel through time yet.

[1]: https://arxiv.org/abs/1506.02640

[2]: https://arxiv.org/abs/1612.08242

[3]: https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.06870

2
elliottcarlson 3 days ago 2 replies      
So, could you use this to solve the image recognition captcha's that ask you to select all images that contain [object]?
3
polskibus 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is this a new Google API for use through their cloud offering or is it a set of tensorflow artifacts one can download and use freely without ever contacting Google Cloud?
4
zitterbewegung 3 days ago 2 replies      
So they are launching all of these frameworks targeted to mobile but what's happening to Tensorflow Lite ? I'm beginning to think that these things that they are releasing are scaffolding for this . I really hope it's not going to be vaporware from google I/O
5
matt4077 3 days ago 0 replies      
Finally I'm getting the results for all those traffic sign CAPTCHAS I've been solving.

(And I just noticed I should not have include the post as part of the signsorry for any inaccuracies I may have caused)

6
koolba 3 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone know of a sample app that uses this?

Say to detect if something is or isn't a hot dog?

7
accountyaccount 3 days ago 2 replies      
This would be great to run a security camera still feed through. It could completely eliminate false positives.
8
sharemywin 3 days ago 2 replies      
They need some kind of context input.

-GPS position, intent/goal, domain etc.

I'm at a dog show I would want breed etc.

I'm on the street I just want it come back dog maybe dangerous dog, friendly dog.

Also, would be cool/scary to just get back movable object 1, person 1, living movable object 3 etc. and if I give it multiple scenes from a video it knows person 1 is the same person 1 and if I name (them) Tony it keeps tracking tony.

9
Omnipresent 3 days ago 1 reply      
Would it be able to detect textual regions in an image as it depics kite/persons in the example image?
10
throwaway321373 1 day ago 0 replies      
This doesn't seem to include training scripts ?
11
mlaretallack 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just spent the last 6 months making anpr camera. Now just need to put Python on it. Fun times.
12
nzjrs 2 days ago 1 reply      
What's the hype here. It's a curated model zoo, or?
13
Drdrdrq 3 days ago 1 reply      
I can't find the license, anyone have better luck?
14
Joboman555 3 days ago 0 replies      
Anyone know what license this is under?
23
Inside the Largest US Voter Data Leak upguard.com
385 points by danso  14 hours ago   301 comments top 29
1
DannyBee 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Speaking as a guy with a lot of experience with voter data ( I built the first "where do I vote" apps for Google and helped found the voting information project):

This is actually almost entirely public data. Yes, including addresses and phone numbers and political affiliation. There are some states that is not public as part of the voter file, but you can still get it other ways publicly. For example: USPS, etc. Some states/players would make you sign agreements not to use it for commercial purposes.

The modeling info included is not public.

Acquiring 50 state data can be a bit of a pain, but there are at least two major players that will sell it to you.(I remember one of them literally laughed when I told them we would want the databases without any personal info included, because we just wanted the address to various political precinct mapping.)

2
_Codemonkeyism 12 hours ago 6 replies      
As long as the CEO of an company (RNC) that gives data to an outsourcer (Deep Root Analytics) is not going to jail to give data to an unqualified company, nothing will change.

If the CEO goes to jail, things will change very rapidly (CEO will manage his CMO much tighter who will first want to see an security audit not older than 6 months).

At least CEOs I have reported to as CTO were very sensitive for implemention issues in areas that could land them in jail.

Same for every other hacking (e.g. Sony) or IT failure (e.g. British Airlines crashed DC).

3
wyldfire 12 hours ago 7 replies      
I hate to be in the position of defending a leak such as this. But if what they've done is "merely" compiling data that was available from our public profiles, are they obligated to secure that compilation? I'm asking -- I don't know for sure how the data was gathered, it just sounds like it was from scraping public records + public web sites.

Also, can someone ask Troy Hunt whether he has or can get access to this data so he can let us all know if we're on it? (But will it even matter if they don't have an email address field?)

4
sschueller 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, not good:

 "State", "Juriscode", "Jurisname", "CountyFIPS", "MCD", "CNTY", "Town", "Ward", "Precinct", "Ballotbox", "PrecinctName", "NamePrefix", "FirstName", "MiddleName", "LastName", "NameSuffix", "Sex", "BirthYear", "BirthMonth", "BirthDay", "OfficialParty", "StateCalcParty", "RNCCalcParty", "StateVoterID", "JurisdictionVoterID", "LastActiveDate", "RegistrationDate", "VoterStatus", "SelfReportedDemographic", "ModeledEthnicity", "ModeledReligion", "ModeledEthnicGroup", "RegistrationAddr1", "RegistrationAddr2", "RegHouseNum", "RegHouseSfx", "RegStPrefix", "RegStName", "RegStType", "RegstPost", "RegUnitType", "RegUnitNumber", "RegCity", "RegSta", "RegZip5", "RegZip4", "RegLatitude", "RegLongitude", "RegGeocodeLevel", "ChangeOfAddress", "COADate", "COAType", "MailingAddr1", "MailingAddr2", "MailHouseNum", "MailHouseSfx", "MailStPrefix", "MailStName", "MailStType", "MailStPost", "MailUnitType", "MailUnitNumber", "MailCity", "MailSta", "MailZip5", "MailZip4", "MailSortCodeRoute", "MailDeliveryPt", "MailDeliveryPtChkDigit", "MailLineOfTravel", "MailLineOfTravelOrder", "MailDPVStatus", "MADR_LastCleanse", "MADR_LastCOA", "AreaCode", "TelephoneNUm", "TelSourceCode", "TelMatchLevel", "TelReliability", "FTC_DoNotCall"

5
Lagged2Death 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Microtargeting is trying to unravel your political DNA, [Gage] said. The more information I have about you, the better. The more information [Gage] has, the better he can group people into "target clusters" with names such as Flag and Family Republicans or Tax and Terrorism Moderates. Once a person is defined, finding the right message from the campaign becomes fairly simple.

Neal Stephenson wrote a book called Interface which predicted a form of tech-enabled micro-targeted politics over 20 years ago. It was disturbing at the time; it's almost considered business-as-usual now.

I believe American democracy would benefit from including the study of such techniques in our educational curriculum. When I was in school, we studied advertising techniques to help us be skeptical. We need the same for targeted political messages now.

6
opensourcenews 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I still don't understand the concern.

Want the name, age, gender, home address, mailing address, party of registration, and voter history from every registered voter in North Carolina? Here is the "leak" on Amazon S3. http://dl.ncsbe.gov/index.html?prefix=data/

Except, by leak, I mean, link I got from my state board of elections' homepage.

7
pdog 12 hours ago 2 replies      
This raises so many questions...

Why is U.S. voter registration made public at the individual name/address level?

Why do the states publish their voter registrations in the first place?

Why should private campaign operations (or anyone else) have access to this data?

Shouldn't voters' privacy be protected by the states?

Is there a privacy policy you can review when you register to vote?

8
rattray 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't typically don hats with this much tin foil, and I don't think this is likely, but...

The real danger of data like this, in my opinion, illegal usage for voter fraud.

Find people who are likely to vote against you and likely to have poor voter registration documents, and remove them from the polls so they can't vote.

Find people who aren't likely to vote at all and vote on their behalf. In-person, the only verification required is name & address. By mail, the only requirement is a signature, which can be obtained from receipts (I assume this is available on black hat markets).

Leaving this S3 bucket as public-read allows for deniable coordination with illegal actors. I can't imagine they did this on purpose but that could be an explanation.

I don't know if it's possible, but I hope the FBI / Mueller team is able to get access logs.

9
ploggingdev 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I have this theory that the only way regular people will start caring about privacy breaches such as this one is to use that data against them in a malicious way. Tell the average Joe that the data of all US voters has been leaked, "Hmmm. That's bad." and they move on with their lives as if nothing happened. Instead, if this data is used to impersonate the average Joe on social media or if it's used to trick their mobile carrier into porting out their number, then they'll take notice. (I am not suggesting people do this, it was just part of a thought experiment)

Unless the company involved is sued to bankruptcy and the people involved are prosecuted, sending a strong message to companies dealing with user data, nothing will change. But that's unlikely to happen as this company is backed by the RNC.

While we're on the topic of collecting personal data of people, there's a simple solution : just don't collect it unless it's absolutely necessary. Stop asking me to broadcast my address in my newsletter. Stop asking me to submit my billing address when I make payments online. Stop asking me for my mobile number when I visit a fast food restaurant. Most of the companies that collect this data are not competent enough to keep it secure. The reason companies ask for an address to broadcast in users' newsletters is some anti-spam act which does not prevent the spammers from doing their job. I imagine it's also a requirement for companies to collect a billing address for certain types of online payments. Change the law to remove these poorly thought out legislature.

More generally, we need regulations on how user data is used by companies. They should not be allowed to store user data indefinitely. If a user closes an account with a company, retain the data for a short period (eg- 1 year) and then delete the data automatically. Companies should not be allowed to build shadow profiles of users.

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Taniwha 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I think people are missing the big legal liability .... this information has been published to the world, it contains estimates of people's deeply held political beliefs - some of it will be wildly wrong and those people might consider that they have been libeled .... roll on the lawsuits
11
gruez 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Are the leaked files floating aroubd on the internet, or were they able to shut it down before anyone else got to it?
12
vinhboy 11 hours ago 3 replies      
> It would ultimately take days, from June 12th to June 14th, for Vickery to download 1.1 TB of publicly accessible files

Do security firms have special permission to do this? Because as a private citizen, I am pretty sure I would go to jail if I tried this.

13
elihu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
What are the legal implications of a campaign using this leaked modelling data? Would it be breaking any existing laws to use data that was leaked to the public without the permission of the original company that did the modelling? (If nothing else, I suppose it's probably a copyright violation.)

Hypothetically, could one deliberately leak a trove of modelling data with some fake voters inserted, and then monitor the mailbox associated with that fake voter and sue any organization you don't like that sends campaign flyers for using the data without permission?

14
mlindner 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Except this isn't a leak. This is publicly searchable information. I don't know why people are blowing this out of proportion.
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jurry289 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Related: This legally mandated "leak" happened years ago, and it even included signatures. Most of the citizens pushing for the recall of a sitting republican governor were democrats, so it seemed like punishment for a Republican state assembly to pass this one-off policy. Especially for those who have zero internet-presence. The first thing many employers see when they search for politically active democrats is this information, paired with "quick searches" of their names on criminal, pedophile and dangerous persons databases. If you want to disinsentivize political action, this is how you do it. I won't link to that site, but can confirm it's still up.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/01/politics/wisconsin-recall-peti...

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kjhughes 12 hours ago 1 reply      
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azinman2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this available online in a searchable way? I want to see what it has on me...
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MR4D 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm just waiting to hear Trump tell Deep Root Analytics, "You're Fired!"

It would be good to see him make this a clear case of responsibility. Also, someone on the RNC side needs to get fired, too. I'm not sure who, but errors this big demand it.

19
fulldecent 6 hours ago 1 reply      
TLDR. Was any of the information non-public?
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apeace 11 hours ago 4 replies      
> Spreadsheets containing this accumulated datalast updated around the January 2017 presidential inaugurationconstitute a treasure trove of political data and modeled preferences used by the Trump campaign

Genuinely curious: can you really have 198 million rows in a spreadsheet?

21
nothis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Doesn't this kinda make many (flawed but still in use) "security measures" incredibly vulnerable to social engineering? That's all the birth dates and phone numbers. That's crazy!
22
LinuxBender 9 hours ago 0 replies      
If I jokingly suggested to the gov that AWS S3 be categorized by all firewall vendors as "Anonymous File Sharing", would I get a yuge response?
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mgleason_3 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Is StateVoterID the same thing as your Social Security Number (SSN)?
24
DelaneyM 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like one heck of an AI training set.

DeepTrump?

25
dsfyu404ed 12 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're a glass half full person at least they care about the do not call list enough to give it its own column.
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SunnyCanuck 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Has this been re-leaked onto the torrents yet?
27
HCyber 12 hours ago 1 reply      
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12 hours ago 12 hours ago 1 reply      
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rootsudo 13 hours ago 5 replies      
In other news, already known information. Every USA states has clear laws on releasing whose registered with which party, past affiliation and address.

Clickbait.

24
I spent 29 years in solitary confinement (2010) theguardian.com
394 points by Tomte  4 days ago   249 comments top 20
1
arcticbull 4 days ago 13 replies      
Honestly, I find the US prison system absolutely horrifying in all respects. As satisfying as it may be for victims to feel the person that did something to them is 'gone' they will eventually be let out, and when they do I want them to be ready to integrate with society.

Recidivism rates in the US show it is objectively not working, with state prisons leaving inmates to re-offend 76% of the time. [1] In Norway, much derided for their lavish prisons, it's 20%. [2]

Throwing people away and treating them like animals is an abject failure, compounded by the mandatory fill rates in private prison contracts. [3] It's time to revisit the whole system, top down, and make it less about punishment and more about making sure it doesn't happen again. And it should be done with data.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christopher-zoukis/report-docu...

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/why-norways-prison-system-is-...

[3] https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2015/jul/31/report-find...

2
thrownawaybylaw 4 days ago 0 replies      
I did 45 days in solitary within the context of a longer bid. It was hell. Given the effects it has had on my mind and life, I cannot imagine what 29 years will do. It changes the way you behave so subtly, it's even interesting to me now. My friends think it's hilarious how casually I talk to myself. I live a pretty isolated life; I feel more comfortable that way.

Where I was, there was no outside fenced area for the hour mandated rec time. It was a 6'Lx3'Wx6'H fenced dog cage. At least there was a large open window to the outside to look at from the other side of the room.

You're also mandated an occasional hour at the "Law Library", which was really just a single computer with LexisNexis and Microsoft Office in an otherwise empty 4'x6' room. That VB class I had taken really came in handy.

I learned to make some reasonable dice out of toilet paper. Too. Much. Yahtzee.

In the case of the man in the article, his case was overturned. Hopefully, he won't have a criminal record. Getting a job today with a criminal record is incredibly difficult. That's the biggest reason why recidivism is high [x]. It's great that there's a push to "ban the box" (that is, to not ask about criminal history in job applications), but it hasn't made it to all the states. Furthermore, many companies blanketly don't hire felons[x] regardless of the context of the crimes and/or rehabilitation of the individual. Background checks aren't a fair process in their review. Good-bye any real life.

[x] I'm sure somebody is going to argue that the bigger deal is a lack of quality mental health or addiction services provided to inmates and the dearth of such programs prior to conviction, and they'd be right too.

3
meesles 4 days ago 1 reply      
The prison system is a crazy, privatized torture system designed to keep the poor incarcerated to increase profits for all the contract work related to running the prison system.

Rikers is a great example of a clearly flawed jail system, with inmates getting stuck for years without trial and sometimes killing themselves after losing hope.

Having recently gone through the judicial system as a white male, I can't image being a black man going through the same thing. I was able to buy my freedom, buy excuses, buy a lawyer to get me out of everything. When an oppressed people who already starts out behind falls into the same trap, there's little left for them to do.

Interesting read: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/nyregion/rikers-island-pr...

4
mallaidh 4 days ago 2 replies      
A note: Herman Wallace was released on October 1, 2013 because of advanced liver cancer. The state reindicted him on October 3, but he died the next day a free man. Albert Woodfox was released in February 2016. The Angola 3 were held in solitary confinement for more than 100 years combined, with Woodfox's 43 years of solitary being the longest of any American prisoner.
5
goodcanadian 4 days ago 2 replies      
Maybe I looked crazy walking back and forth like some trapped animal . . .

If you see an animal pacing back and forth in a cage, it is generally considered neurotic behaviour and a sign that the cage/enclosure is too small. My point being that it probably did make him slightly crazy and that solitary confinement is psychological torture.

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jernfrost 4 days ago 1 reply      
I really shouldn't be reading stuff like this. It makes me so angry. It is odd that so many conservative Americans think racism isn't a thing. Blacks are dismissed as violent thugs, who are the fault of their own problems. But who had acted peaceful and well adjusted if they were subject to as much oppression, prejudice and brutality as the blacks of the US?

People are products of their environments just like animals. A mistreated animal is also bad behaved and violent.

7
robschia 4 days ago 3 replies      
I don't even know how to start. The US present themselves as paragons of freedom, and then they blatantly violate every kind of basic human right.
8
opo 4 days ago 0 replies      
For some more background, Frontline did an episode on solitary confinement:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/solitary-nation/

And if you think solitary confinement is a nightmare, how about putting 2 people in a solitary confinement cell?

"Imagine living in a cell that's smaller than a parking space with a homicidal roommate."

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2016/03/24/the-deadly-con...

9
oriettaxx 5 hours ago 0 replies      
and there is even worst: here exceptional testimony of Madagascar's thirty years imprisonment in a recent very book (french only, unfortunately) I suggest

http://www.plon.fr/ouvrage/la-sentinelle-de-fer/978225924354...

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mnm1 4 days ago 3 replies      
If being imprisoned and enslaved isn't cruel and unusual punishment, I don't know what is. The constitution doesn't prohibit shit with its useless words in this case.
11
gallerdude 4 days ago 5 replies      
Maybe I shouldn't post this online, but this is one of my biggest fears. Just, being trapped somewhere, alone with your thoughts, with nothing to do.

After reading The Jaunt by Stephen King, I was on edge for a day or two afterwards.

12
bobsgame 4 days ago 0 replies      
Someone who made millions from Bitcoin or some nonsense please give this guy a million dollars. There needs to be some secret fund for people like this. It's obviously not a fair reparation but it's something.
13
nether 4 days ago 4 replies      
This is the worst of racism. The next time a white HNer tells PoC to just turn the other cheek toward racist words, point them to this. Racist attitudes are what enable horrific crimes against blacks, such as these.
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iagooar 4 days ago 0 replies      
To some extent, solitary confinement is way, way worse than death sentence. It is burying people alive. It's a miracle a person can survive for so long and walk out of it in one piece. I imagine the psychological scars must be pretty profound...
15
dandare 4 days ago 0 replies      
I don't think my American friends understand how the civilized world looks at US.
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pmoriarty 4 days ago 0 replies      
29 years in solitary confinement? What did this guy do, infringe copyright?
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cholik 3 days ago 0 replies      
I spent 29 years in solitaire
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eevilspock 4 days ago 0 replies      
My sadness is we all read this, feel sad, and move on with our comfortable lives.

That we are powerless is bullshit.

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MrZongle2 4 days ago 3 replies      
I know, right? Worst. Country. Ever. /s
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jMyles 4 days ago 3 replies      
The prison system in general, and solitary confinement (and other forms of emotional torture) in particular is a good enough reason in my opinion to dismantle the state and start over.

And it's only one of about 4-5 good reasons right now.

Let's do it.

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Why were betting against real-time team messaging doist.com
382 points by farslan  15 hours ago   191 comments top 47
1
TheRealmccoy 14 hours ago 4 replies      
The biggest drawback of a real time communication tool like Slack is the React v/s Respond conundrum.

Productive communication and teamwork requires that we respond, rather than react.

What happens specifically with tools like Slack which start off as demi-official tool and then transcend to official is that, one gets into the habit of reacting, instead of responding.

I have personally seen this "fastest finger first" played, almost always.

There has been tons of literature written on reacting v/s responding and I need not dwell into it.

Another aspect is that there is no exit, once Slack is the primary communication tool. One is forced to use it, otherwise you are like an outcast and people more often tend to take it as a signal that the person is on its way out and hence moved away from Slack.

Rest of the drawbacks is documented in the article.

2
onion2k 14 hours ago 4 replies      
A small, but impactful design choice we made in creating Twist was to leave out the online presence indicator.

I imagine you could address this in Slack by just having everyone set themselves to 'Away' by default.

One of the things that I've found useful in Slack is turning off the "Someone is typing" message (the option is in the Display Options). I used to wait for someone to post if I knew a message was coming. Now I can drop in and out of a channel more easily. Similarly, I've muted almost all the channels I'm in so now I only need to check if someone notifies me.

The point I'm making is that Slack doesn't necessarily work the way you want right away, and that you might need address a few cultural problems with the way your team uses it. You need to think about how your team communicates, consider why people do annoying things in it, and come up with solutions that work. At the most extreme that might be writing a competitor product but for most companies there just needs to be a little more tolerance of people not answering immediately and a little consideration that gifs can be unhelpful.

3
mkohlmyr 15 hours ago 5 replies      
I like it. I've been thinking for a while that old-school forums are actually fundamentally superior to chatrooms for sharing important information and having in depth discussions.

In my opinion the chat model is simply bad for effectively distributing useful information because it disappears in the noise.

Perhaps what's needed is a combination of the forum-style threaded conversation model for information sharing and work conversations and a chat room which is explicitly for the water-cooler stuff, so that people don't have to be always-on (and constantly interrupted). It should be safe to turn off when you need to focus.

4
jasonkester 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I worked at a Slack shop for several years, and share the author's opinion.

I can't think of any five minute period during my entire tenure where the Slack tab didn't have a little red circle telling me that I absolutely needed to check it right this second. There was no way to filter notifications beyond "Everything", so that little bubble would go up every time anybody in the company pressed a key. And heaven forbid somebody typed "Good morning, @channel" (which happened 20 times per morning per timezone), because then you'd get the dreaded Red Exclamation Mark in the tab.

I can't fathom how anybody would have been able to work if they had gone as far as allowing notifications to be turned on and make noises at them every time Slack thought something Important Enough To Interrupt You had happened.

5
lewisjoe 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Curious question: Isn't this an already solved problem? I've been using plain old emails and quiet free of all the problems of real-time messaging.

"Thread-first communication" - We have it. Email threads. I've been using Zoho Mail. It's one step ahead and has modern concepts like streams/commenting and sharing built around emails. Very useful.

"Truly transparent conversations" - What this means is, the knowledge has to be highly searchable. Also, not all threads have to be public. With emails, you can either broadcast an email company wide or you can opt to pull in relevant users into a conversation. Makes a lot of sense to not broadcast everything company-wide, isn't it? More importantly, emails are easily searchable. Once received, I'm confident that it's going to sit there in my inbox forever, without worrying if it's going to be deleted later by someone who has authority.

"Leaving out the online presence indicator" - Exactly. Emails.

Maybe there's some more important key aspects that the product's covering up for me. As for me, I guess emails are simply good enough!

6
ryanackley 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How is Twist (the product they announce in this post) much different from email? Besides not using open protocols? Don't get me wrong, it looks like a beautifully designed email client. There are some interesting features here but it seems like you could do this all using existing email features. Am I wrong?

The choice of asynchronhous vs. synchronous is a false dichotomy. Development teams I have been on use a combination of both since forever. Before Slack/Hipchat there was XMPP/Jabber before that was IRC. It must be business people binging on the glory of synchronous communication then having a hangover. In my experience this has never been an issue.

7
jhallenworld 13 hours ago 1 reply      
As an ex-IBMer with 10 years of dealing with Sametime, I find this discussion amusing. Just think of Slack but with 300,000+ in your team.

Sametime was a big part of IBM culture. IBMs work from home policy was tied up with it. At work means you are online and responsive to Sametime. A typical meeting involves people sitting in a conference room Sametiming comments to each other about the speaker.

One nice thing about Sametime is that you chat history is in XML files on your computer. This allows you to use grep to find past information.

IBM started to use Slack when I left. On the one hand this allows you to collaborate with people outside IBM, but downside is you need both tools running. Slack for the cool kids, Sametime for the old guys.

My new job is giving me a new experience- video conferences using Google Hangouts. Many times with googlers on the Google bus.

8
skMed 10 hours ago 3 replies      
So basically a forum? Knowledge Management is a broad topic and it's hilarious seeing the same solutions brought up again and again.

I have all this persistent information! New people need to get up to speed fast - where do I put it? Cue the Wiki fad.

I have to get things done and elicit quick feedback ASAP! Cue the Chat fad.

I want async communication so I'm not bogged down all the time! Email and Forums.

There's a time and place for all of these.

9
_lex 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats on finding a real problem and building something to solve it. You're about to fight an uphill battle.

Here's my feedback (from someone who currently leads the leads of 7 remote engineering teams):

Not knowing if someone is available and if they will get back to you soon is very very bad for many conversations. For example, when you have a C-level asking for rapid turn around on something that needs to be done by someone multiple levels away from you.

In remote teams, sometimes people disappear (e.g. car accident or civil unrest in a random country), and if you have no way to know, you'll eventually get fed up.

The feeling of cohesiveness that comes from having realtime conversations, brainstorms and other collaboration is very important to managers (especially in remote teams) and convincing them that realtime talk is not a good default is going to be quite hard.

As a result you will never be their default communication channel - at most you'll be the place they discuss bigger problems. But because you're not the default, you'll get destroyed by slack, who is the default. Most times people use the tool at hand that they are most familiar with, not the best tool for the job. I would encourage you to write a slack bot that reminds people to use you & helps them easily experience value from your product without you having to win the default spot.

Finally, most people will have serious difficulty seeing the difference between your product and other product management tools that allow commenting in detail on issues being discussed.

10
tzs 12 hours ago 2 replies      
There is a reason Jedi masters, powerful witches and wizards, ancient wise men and women, and so on tend to be found on isolated mountains, in remote caves, wandering in far away forests, and the like instead of living in the middle of the village with their doors open.
11
unabst 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The problem with Slack and the like is that it's communication based, not work based.

The problem with Todoist and Wunderlist and the like is that it's work based, not communication based.

Slack is awesome at communicating. But it has no checklist, no todo, no collaboration tools that fulfill most needs. They're all half baked.

Wunderlist has checklists and todos and can be used to track collaboration efforts by linking Google Docs or Sheets to a task for example, but communication is still horrible. It's nowhere close to being a main communications channel.

So most end up using a combination of apps.

But this is also one of the greatest detriments to productivity. Having to juggle apps.

12
the_bear 14 hours ago 1 reply      
One interesting challenge with this real-time vs. async communication challenge is that different job roles have different needs. At my company, most of our employees have been on the customer service side until recently, and Slack is great for them. Almost everything they need to talk about is urgent (even if it's not important) and temporary. They rarely have long-lasting high-level conversations.

Now we're starting to hire more developers and I'm realizing how disruptive it is for them to be pulled into Slack conversations all the time. So I've started using email more for communicating with the devs, and that seems to work reasonably well.

The questions I have are: (a) is it possible to have a single communication tool that handles both real-time and async properly and (b) does that even matter? Maybe email+Slack is a perfectly fine solution. Either way, it's obvious that only using Slack isn't a viable option.

13
dkhenry 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I cant help but draw parallels between this and NNTP. This is essentially a really nice skin over newgroups, and thats not a bad thing at all. We have seen just how successful a modern UX can be on a old protocol with slack providing a UX to IRC. It is funny that we are slowly reworking the tools of the early computing community in slick modern ways.

It is also interesting that we as a community have completely sold out federated independent operators with a common standards defined protocol for soloed tooling.

14
hamandcheese 14 hours ago 0 replies      
> But in reality, even I couldnt keep track of all the conversations that were happening at the company.

Nor should you, really. Imagine trying to do that in an office-based organization! Slack, to me, is a bit like our digital office space.

You can also use highlight words to ensure you don't miss any discussion on topics you're particularly interested in. We have a guy who worked a lot with our billing, and he is magically always present whenever anyone says "refund".

15
mrisoli 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Slack reminds me of my school years, I grew up as cell phones became commonplace.

We've always had chat software, but mostly we talked to each other during breaks or after school using our desktop computers.

Then cell phones became normal, and SMS was normal, later on, it was chat apps, social media. Things sped up by a factor of a billion.

All of the sudden we have entire conversations happening as the teacher is lecturing, people are making weekend plans, gossiping, bullying, relationships are forming and falling apart in minutes time.

Honestly, I can't even imagine what hell school must be now that everyone has social media and ephemeral messaging everywhere.

And I believe Slack did a little bit of this to the workplace, we've always had chat apps, but it was always a little bit to the side, but Slack integrated it with our work tools, now we have all these notifications from services bundled in the same software that offers you public channels, private channels, private groups and direct messaging, there is a whole new level of communication going on both on and off the record.

In some workplaces, I felt like it was school all over again.

16
gedrap 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that Slack (or any other IM client for work, really) is just a tool, not a solution. Meaning that it requires some organization and thought, rather than installing and hoping for the best. At least to some extent (i.e. have no idea about companies with hundreds of engineers online), it works. Equally important it is to acknowledge what is suitable for doing on IM and what is not.

If you want to discuss some large changes, sure, IM is a bad place. Conversation will probably get interrupted, derailed, etc. That's where, in my opinion, things like Google Docs or plain simple GH Issues shine. The format forces into better thought out, longer messages.

For other things, you need to organize the chat rooms. If you have 10+ people and 2 chat rooms (I think slack defaults to #general and #random) then yes, sounds bad. But instead having quite a few chat rooms with <10 people each might work out well. Even having multiple rooms with the same people can be good to separate different topics of conversation.

"Always on", I believe, comes not from the IM itself but from the culture of the company. I know places where everything is e-mail only and people constantly refresh it. Equally, IM is mostly ghost town outside working hours at other places. And Slack has decent notification settings to make sure that you don't go crazy.

So, IM has it's place and provides value if you are willing to make it work. It's just not a 'it just works' solution, which is hardly surprising.

17
georgeecollins 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes a good point that Slack can sometimes just be a better hamster wheel for time wasting. I have seen it work well as an emergency channel, where dev's could quickly share info if a live app was having a problem. But at the same place, the most lively channel was an exchange of GIFs.
18
robbiemitchell 14 hours ago 0 replies      
We have seen many of these challenges over the years and set out to build something to help manage your team's incoming requests directly in Slack. We find it's most used for internal assistance (one team supporting many) or as a way for B2B companies to provide support to their top customers.

The goal is to help your team be available and responsive without compromising productivity. To achieve this, incoming requests to a particular team are collected in a "feed" channel. The notifications ping specific people on rotation or on a sequence (according to rules) until claimed, the conversations are explicitly resolved with a "closed" action. We provide assistance for things like inserting knowledge base and template responses, and tagging the conversation. Integrations via Zapier mean a conversation can easily turn into an Asana task, Github issue, etc.

If you're struggling to manage the chaos, give it a shot and see whether it helps.

http://frame.ai/beta/

19
nottorp 14 hours ago 1 reply      
All you need is a little self discipline, not a special app.Turn off notifications, check your messages when you're taking a break, do not attempt to chat real time.

The only actually useful feature of this app seems to be that it's thread oriented, but you can mitigate that with enough irc (okay, Slack these days) channels as well.

20
rovek 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks like a great tool, particularly the ground-up focus on threading and giving teams more options. As with its competitors, it can still easily become just another distraction when people use it wrong.

It's easy to see how you could design a "process" around using something like Slack to achieve the same experience and if you don't design a "process" for using Twist then it will suck just as much. We tried to heavily use channels in HipChat as a threading and noise-avoidance mechanism, it worked well but we often ended up with a lot of channels with the same people in; at which point discipline becomes stressed.

21
RandomOpinion 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Yup, this guy gets it. Slack and other real-time messaging apps should be treated as a phone call or a knock on the door; an intentional interruption for something important enough to warrant a real time conversation.

Everything else should be handled through email, to allow people to consider and tailor their responses, to allow others to be added to the conversation through a CC: of a single focused thread, and to provide a directly searchable historical record of conversations.

22
sergiosgc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think the fundamental problem is one of sync vs async communication. Of course synchronous communication is a flow killer, and of course having it as a team-wide or company-wide means of communication aggravates its problems. The async nature just makes it worse, as it has more bandwidth, and consumes more brain bandwidth as a result of more content than email and wider distribution than email.

The problem lies between unstructured and structured information. The problem is one of process vs flying by the seat of your pants. Ideally, you want processes for every repeatable action, and more flexible means of communication for new events that need to be handled quickly by those empowered to solve them.

However, every repeatable process starts as an one-off event: Customer requests for the same actions pile up until the moment you realize your app needs a new feature; Faults occur and get solved up until you realize you need to engineer a solution that prevents or automatically fixes them; Internal processes get lost and hang until you decide to redefine the internal workflow.

What is missing is a simple way of moving unstructured communication (sync and async), onto structured communication. Chats should end up as feature requests, bug reports, documentation or some other permanent medium that fits into the process.

If the unstructured->structured bridge is solved, you don't have to monitor chats (or mailing lists, or forums). If they result in something meaningful, they will appear in the structured, process-oriented flow. Monitor that, and get involved in chats where you are directly mentioned. (and skip all gif chats, really)

23
kodablah 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I have often considered setting up a local Reddit instance for my company for these very reasons. Has anyone done this with success?

I also considered creating some biz comm software myself, but only jotted down some ideas[0]

0 - https://bitbucket.org/snippets/cretz/Xopoj/retzle-conceptual

24
keybits 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Where I work we've started using private categories on a Discourse instance for conversations that are 'too big for Slack'. This works really well since Discourse has a selection of notification options (RSS feeds, email, Slack etc), keeps track of discussions well, has great search and has social features such as 'liking' posts. Bonus points for being open source.
25
bambax 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Just went through Startup School that uses Mattermost, which seems to be a Slack clone (not sure since I never used Slack).

It didn't seem to work well. Since all members of all groups were from all over the world and rarely shared a timezone, no conversation could really take place in real time.

And since there are no threads or topics or anything, it's almost impossible to go back to something that was said a while ago.

I think a subreddit would have worked much better.

26
pcarolan 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Apple took a step in the right direction with the do not disturb feature in the Notifications bar. When I don't want to be bothered, I turn it on, when I want to be chatty I turn it off. The next step should be apps that are aware of your do not disturb state and update your presence (as an option) when it's set. Then, I want a timer so I can get blasted with updates every 25 minutes like Pomodoro timer.
27
amix 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I am the poster of this (and as you can see, I am an old HN user -- almost ten years here!)

I'll be answering your questions. Thanks for the support!

28
d0m 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I like it. Basically the design choice was to focus on threads within channels, instead of simply channels. Slack has that thread feature but I never use it because it's hard to follow. I guess slack could copy them and have a "text mode" and a "thread mode", easily being able to switch between both, and then the threads will be much more useful.
29
jwildeboer 15 hours ago 4 replies      
TL;DR they made a modernised version of an nntp client and server ;-)
30
dmartinez 12 hours ago 0 replies      
From reading the top comments, an interesting conclusion is that messaging apps like Slack do not have drawbacks due to technical problems, but due to cultural problems.

These problems can be mitigated in a work environment where you can enforce cultural mores, but in a social environment (like within a group of friends or some other non-work related community) this becomes more challenging.

There is probably room in the market for a messaging app that prioritizes reaction communication and suggests that more thoughtful communication take place in a more permanent project management tool.

31
tzakrajs 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I see Slack as being real time and asynchronous because the contents of your conversation remain resident in the chat and there is no expectation that you respond immediately.
32
wazoox 12 hours ago 0 replies      
In the early naughties, my company used an ultra-powerful tool that allows real-time discussion, archives conversation, allows search, sharing gifs.... An NNTP server.
33
elipollak 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Really nice post. We've suffered similar challenges using slack with our remote team and switched to Basecamp, which has been much better.

What's your sense of how Twist and Basecamp compare?

34
pesto88 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I would say the amount / frequency of interaction depends on the team you work on.

If you work on larger features that require quiet time, then a real-time chatting app can be quite annoying. My team tends to release lots of small features very often, so fast communication is important.

35
nchammas 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This post reminds me of a similar one by the CEO of Basecamp giving his take on the problems with group chat and their solution to those problems.

https://m.signalvnoise.com/is-group-chat-making-you-sweat-74...

> Group chat is like being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda.

36
dwheeler 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Their "new" approach sounds suspiciously like a mailing list: asynchronous communication for a group that supports threads of communication.
37
seanhandley 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's how I prefer to use Slack:

1) Turn off notifications (except @mentions or DMs).2) Code uninterrupted.3) Check in when I'm taking a break.4) Profit.

Our company culture is such that Slack is mostly for notifications from our toolset, so that probably helps. Also, we're small (< 20).

38
joneholland 15 hours ago 0 replies      
So you built Basecamp?
39
tckr 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me very much of a classical forum.I wonder what the key differences to Discourse is and why they chose to built an entirely new project.
40
deadmik3 14 hours ago 0 replies      
pretty much our whole company uses irc for real-time communication, and I don't see that going away any time soon. it's lightweight and does what you need it to
41
yiiii 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Google Wave?
42
misterbowfinger 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> In theory, everyone on the team had access to all the communication that happened in public channels. But in reality, even I couldnt keep track of all the conversations that were happening at the company. Whoever happened to be connected at the time could follow along and be involved in the decision-making. Everyone else might not even be aware that the conversation happened at all.

This sounds really creepy

43
sleepychu 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> Unlimited file storage for the teamFor 3.90/mo charged per annum? How do you offer that?
44
flavor8 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like to see:

a) Built in reminders (I don't want to sign up to todoist also)

b) Post formatting

c) Ability to mute threads

d) Polls?

45
SonicSoul 14 hours ago 2 replies      
so how is the end solution different/better than email?
46
computerex 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of Gitter.
47
fiatjaf 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is correct.
26
Show HN: Decaffeinate converts CoffeeScript projects to modern JS github.com
341 points by alangpierce  1 day ago   185 comments top 26
1
matthewmacleod 19 hours ago 5 replies      
Mixed feelings about CoffeeScript, as ever.

ES6 obviously deals with some of the issues that CoffeeScript was intended do. That's awesome. Unfortunately, it's still difficult to go back to what seems like the relatively baroque syntax of Javascript afterwards, as someone who has a bit of a vendetta against over-syntax. SO MANY BRACKETS.

In particular, there was CJSX - JSX with CoffeeScript. Writing React components using it was an absolute joy in comparison, and helped eliminate a lot of noise making it much more obvious what a component was doing.

But yeah, it's been hard to convince others that it's worth the investment, when honestly it's really just a personal preference at this stage.

2
blitmap 23 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't understand the trend to move from Coffeescript to ES6. I like both, but I write Coffeescript for its concision. I have no issue compiling Coffeescript to ES6 as a separate build step, but I'm not going to write ES6 myself. That said, I'm sure a project like Decaffeinate has brought a lot of beloved Coffeescript projects into the hands of ES6 developers who wanted to contribute.
3
andrew_wc_brown 15 hours ago 10 replies      
I love CS and I see myself using it for another 5 years. The aversion developers have had to CS never were legit reasons. If you put all your time in ES6 and CS, I think you'll be more productive in CS.

The only issue I foresee is tools being built around the use of ES6 that compel you to abandon it.

I've learned that less is better. I don't use JQuery, I don't use Lodash. I don't use React, I don't use ImmutableJs, I don't use Webpack or CommonJS. All of these tools are more a burden that a blessing and you just end up stacking on 100 dependieces asking "Is this really better?"

I learned this lesson with Cucumber/RSpec/Caybara and etc.. I started asking why I had to use these over plain old TDD and so I used TDD for a month and I found out everything was totally fine.

I don't even really use Arel in ActiveRecord. I just write raw SQL that serves JSON directly back. I made it easier for me to organize SQL in partials just like views and to injects variables and conditions into my SQL.

I went to great lengths to evaluate all these tools because as a work-form home contractor I can afford the time, and the "what if" really bothers me.

I still working in Rails with Sprockets and CS and I write all my SQL by hand.

Less is Better.

All these kids want to do a bunch of busy work and for no good reason. It makes the feel productive.

I have tried dropping CS but the difference in productive was too great to drop. Its not that I'm married to CS its that it does what it says. It makes your JS concise so you can be more productive.

I felt AngularJS dying and so I spent 3 months researching React and building client apps in React. I just didn't get all the work extra work and settled on Mithril.

The hardest thing was giving up writing HTML-like templates like I did in AngularJS but I remember that was my first aversion to AngularJS where I swallowed the medicine. I had to swallow more medicine to unlearn that. Mithril paird with CoffeScript makes writing markup in CS a joy. If I had to do that in regular JS I could see why people would be compelled to use ugly JSX.

4
kvz 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Shameful plug: http://invig.io is a a wrapper around decaffinate, lebab, prettier, eslint, to to squeeze more modernness out of legacy js/coffeescript codebases and make them standardjs.com compliant
5
nickm12 22 hours ago 1 reply      
CoffeeScript has some nice feature, especially as compared to ES5, but I always found it a tad too clever. The fact that {} are optional in a bunch of places makes it very difficult for me to parse mentally.

Other weird coffeescript quirk: "x isnt y" is not semantically to "x is not y".

6
fiatjaf 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This thing made me use React in 2013 (when JSX was still weird): http://blog.vjeux.com/2013/javascript/react-coffeescript.htm...

Now JSX is not weird anymore, it's just horrible.

7
rattray 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The folks behind this have been at it a long time. I first used decaffeinate over 18mo ago and while it was already quite helpful then, it's come a tremendous distance since. Very tricky problem to solve well; bravo!

Somewhat surprised nobody has mentioned the upcoming release of CoffeeScript 2.0, which outputs ES6 natively: http://coffeescript.org/v2/

It's in beta2 now and ready for trial.

8
dyeje 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Never understood the appeal of CS, JavaScript just isn't painful enough to warrant it. Been happy to watch it's slow exit from the mainstream.

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?q=coffeescript

9
AriaMinaei 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I did an experiment about a year ago when I re-wrote part of LiveScript's code emitter to produce a babel-compatible AST rather than javascript code. It would then pipe the AST to babel's generator and produce the final JavaScript. The benefit was that I could then use any babel-compatible toolset and still write code in LiveScript. ESLint worked with almost no tweaks necessary. Theoretically, you could also use Flow and TypeScript with this approach.

Anyway, I didn't have enough time to finish the project, but somebody took the idea and did most of the work [0].

[0] https://github.com/dk00/livescript-next

Would love to explain more, but have to board the plain now :) These links might help:

https://github.com/gkz/LiveScript/issues/821https://github.com/facebook/flow/issues/1515

10
bayesian_horse 16 hours ago 1 reply      
CoffeeScript is still relevant to me, mainly because of the sparser syntax. For React, I wrap the components in functions to create syntax that is even a little clearer than JSX, but still valid CoffeeScript.

I am still waiting for someone to finish a Python bytecode VM or transpiler for javascript which is actually worth using...

11
patrickbolle 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh how the tables have turned
12
grogenaut 12 hours ago 0 replies      
In 3-5 years will we get "FreeRange" to convert typescript to "modern" JavaScript?
13
aphextron 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I love this. We've truly come full circle. Does it support a compile to Typescript step?
14
tyrw 1 day ago 2 replies      
I'm assuming "modern JavaScript" means ES6. Has anyone used this, and does it produce readable code?
15
treyhuffine 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's going to be very interesting to see if Atom decides to fully make the move to JavaScript / ES6+
16
thebouv 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember when CoffeeScript was "modern JS"?

The whole JS stack switches every 2 years or so?

I mean, it actually switches faster than that and that's what everyone jokes about (JavaScript fatigue and what not). But a full turnover of the stack is about 2 years?

17
foxhedgehog 1 day ago 3 replies      
Wasn't JA updating CS again recently? Has anybody tried to use it after using ES6/7?
18
leeoniya 1 day ago 1 reply      
how is this different than running the compiled CS output through lebab [1]?

[1] https://github.com/lebab/lebab

19
scotty79 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Last time I tried it did not support cjsx -> jsx, as far as I can tell, so it's useless for migrating React code bases.
20
YamiOdymel 11 hours ago 0 replies      
People might not know but CoffeeScript 2 is out already and supports the ES6 syntaxes. I've been using it for a large Vue.js SPA (with webpack) and some small projects, it really improves the development and saving me a lot of the time.

https://github.com/coffeescript6/discuss

21
baby 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Can you give an example of a CoffeeScript file being transcribed to modern JS :)? I just want to see which syntax I prefer.
22
abritinthebay 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh thank god.

CoffeeScript was an important crutch and stepping stone but we're maybe 2 years past where it has been past it's prime and this will make updating and improving legacy projects a lot easier.

Personally was never a fan of it - it used too many Ruby idioms for my taste and produced noisy code that was a pain to debug (at the time) - but it did spur the development & adoption of other, better, systems (ESNext transpilation, TypeScript, etc)

23
traviswingo 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Doesn't Coffeescript convert Coffeescript to JS? `coffee -c input.coffee`.
24
partycoder 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This is great. I had a hard time dealing with CoffeeScript code. CoffeeScript tools are behind the state of the art in JavaScript.
25
uranian 15 hours ago 2 replies      
26
jlebrech 20 hours ago 0 replies      
coffeescript is best for doing a specific thing on a page. for spa it's different.
27
Intel discontinues Joule, Galileo, and Edison product lines hackaday.com
293 points by rbanffy  12 hours ago   162 comments top 23
1
nickpeterson 11 hours ago 17 replies      
I'm calling it, Intel is going to be a shadow of it's former self in 5 years. They have had tremendous issues competing in almost anything outside of x86 processors over their entire lifespan. They consistently get outmanuevered in gpus, ssds, low power socs, machine learning, et cetera. The x86 platform that they currently own, is mostly due to intertia and fab facility advantages.

AMD, was able to launch a pretty competitive CPU despite massive delays because Intel has barely improved the ipc of their processors over the last 5 years.

Meanwhile Apple is betting on iPads being the future computer of the Everyman and they make their own chips. Microsoft recently acknowledged that windows basically has to run on arm for the future proofing of their platform. I guarantee you start seeing more arm based windows computers soon.

Intel recently told everyone they're willing to sue for patent money, the last desperate act.

Intel better have a leapfrog cpu in the pipeline or it's over.

2
kardianos 11 hours ago 5 replies      
FYI, as someone who worked with the Edison I can't say I'm surprised. Flashing the Edison was nearly impossible and a big pain. The hardware routinely crashed. Much of the low power "specs" came from (overly) aggressive power management which introduced momentary delays and pauses. I'm happy to see them go and never want to work on such a platform again. The GPIO stopped working reliably at higher speeds despite their spec claims.

By contrast, the raspberry pis and even the Ci20 are significantly more stable and easier to work with. Their specs far more truthful.

3
edmundhuber 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Why did Edison fail:

 - it was too expensive compared to other BLE and WiFi capable SoCs or combinations of chips. - x86 compatibility doesn't matter. - power draw (~1W) is too high for the places where one would want to use this SoC. - the Yocto -based SDK was a mess. Every feature had a caveat and it was a pain to build. - there was never a clear commitment from Intel that they would make these in bulk for manufacturing.
The new hotness are the Espressif (ESP32) and MediaTek (mt7697) SoCs.

 - low power draw (~300mW), even lower at sleep (50mA - nA depending on what kind of sleep), - SDK is FreeRTOS based, - the "MCU features" like GPIO, PWM, etc, actually work all the time.

4
georgeburdell 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
Long overdue. I had hope that Galileo might be an Arduino/Raspberry Pi competitor, but Joule was blatantly an attempt to recoup some of the cost of their already-cancelled smartphone SoC program.

Why now? They just announced that they're cutting spending down to 30% of revenue by 2020: https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/05/12/intel-corporation-...

6
crusso 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is unsurprising. My experience with the Edison: Cool little product with a lot of potential, but the stability problems, lack of timely releases of updates, lack of support for common libraries in their package management system, etc. were all bad signs. I never got the feeling that it would be safe to build a product around the Edison.
7
SEJeff 11 hours ago 5 replies      
That's too bad, the Edison was a nice small developer board. The NUC is quite a few steps up and not quite for the same target market (I've got a few). I wonder if they're going to continue attempting to compete with ARM or they have just realized they lost the low end battle with x86
8
baybal2 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How ironic, the most succesful Intel MCU was 8051. It is 40 years old, yet still rockin
9
quickben 12 hours ago 1 reply      
And by the look of it, when the server and hedt CPUs hit the market, they'll discontinue a lot more.

They got cozy with the monopoly, seems the bills arrived.

10
sbierwagen 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Fortunately this doesn't mention anything off the Euclid line, like their moderately cool single-box CV thing: https://click.intel.com/intelr-euclidtm-development-kit.html

We can only hope that someone at Intel has realized IoT is a total tarpit, and is getting out of the product segment entirely.

11
etqwzutewzu 7 hours ago 2 replies      
What does it mean for Android Things (former Brillo) project? Intel Edison and Intel Joule were ones of the few supported boards.
12
oneplane 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Intel just doesn't seem to get how this works. You can't just make a platform and then throw it away expecting people to like your brand...
13
franciscop 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah and I am so lucky I never switched to Galileo while I was tempted during its release. For some reason I thought it wouldn't work out. Something felt off for some reason and I could kind of get by with Raspberry Pi.

Reading hackaday comments it's probably from the documentation and Intel's doing, not for the technology on itself. I am guessing that open source OR community > closed source or company (as in Raspberry Pi with a great community vs Galileo or Arduino vs anything else) for these kind of things.

14
zwieback 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not like Intel hasn't tried new things over the years, before becoming a huge ARM CPU vendor (XScale) they had the i960 MCU, which was pretty good and the failed i860 VLIW, which was super-promising for graphics and image processing but the compilers never delivered.

It's just that the x86 was always so huge that all the other projects never got traction.

15
wastedhours 11 hours ago 1 reply      
All in on Compute Cards then? Or at least, the next attempt to get into the IoT sphere with an overpriced-in-the-market and poorly community supported ecosystem...
16
jaboutboul 12 hours ago 3 replies      
This document only talks about the Galileo boards. Where did you see mention of Edison and Joule?

That would totally suck as we are pretty heavily invested in Edisons.

17
rocky1138 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Boo! I really liked my time working with the Edison. A great platform and so tiny!
18
noen 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I worked on a handful of products using Edison, and was speaking to Intel less than a month ago about their Joule line at a conference, where they assured me Joule was the future.

All of these chipsets had (and still have) huge promise, but have been mired in really puzzling and terrible board design issues.

You can tell that there are two different groups at Intel, the "Core" and the "Iot".

The Edison was super powerful, price competitive, and an honestly wonderful platform to dev on. YOCTO, while a weird decision, was a pretty vanilla Linux flavor and easy to pick up.

With all that promise though, the botched the silicon. The 2nd cpu on Edison, the Quark 100mhz one, never actually worked. They were shutoff in firmware from day 1 because of presumed hardware issues.

Even worse (and the reason we stopped using Edison), the SPI bus had so much electrical crosstalk on it from not being properly routed or shielded, you couldn't use it at anything over 25hz with a SINGLE bus endpoint. This removed 90% of the real-world uses for the Edison to drive displays, sensor and motor arrayset al. Intel knew it was a problem and consciously decided not to Rev the board to fix it.

Gallileo and Joule are both underpowered and incredibly overpriced devices. Today, the raspberry pi 3 is the hobby standard, and in nearly every real world use case, it is orders of magnitude more performant at 10% or less of the cost.

Intel IS is trouble, because this is their third botched attempt to enter the world of embedded computing and mobile computing.

First was the Atom, which isn't bad, but is too power constrained to compete with ARM. They made some good efforts here, but the cost is higher and perf/watt significantly lower than ARM.

Second was their foray into mobile, trying to branch from Atom. Anyone here ever use an Intel powered phone? Well they spent billions on it, never to have a mass market device actually appear. Same problems - while have equivalent performance to ARM, prices were 30-50% higher and performance per watt was significantly worse.

Now here we are with attempt 3. With the same issues. Intel fundamentally doesnt know how to design, manufacture or sell embedded chips.

It's a completely different market motion, different customers, different constraints, shorter cycles and much much different competitive landscape.

AMD isn't going to "beat" Intel. They have fundamentally the same problems. Both AMD and Intel aren't going to go bankrupt, but they are going to continue the slide into much smaller scale manufacture.

They are both being eaten by the dozens of ARM vendors, by the FPGA movement, and by public cloud data centers. It's a reduction by a thousand cuts, making it that much more difficult to do anything about it.

19
Dylan16807 11 hours ago 1 reply      
What ever happened to that original idea for an SD card form factor for Edison?
20
hellofunk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The Edison was quite a neat little machine. Fun to work with and super powerful despite its tiny size. Sorry to see Intel abandon it.
21
thrillgore 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I will never understand why Intel sold off StrongARM/XScale, it seemed like it could have been pivoted into their own IoT offering.
22
mspokoiny 7 hours ago 0 replies      
they lost position forever
23
deepnotderp 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Surprising exactly 0 people.
28
If companies interviewed translators the way they interview coders freecodecamp.com
352 points by Walkman  1 day ago   250 comments top 24
1
odammit 1 day ago 4 replies      
I was once asked a very very specific question about a conflicting setting in an nginx config and the dude actually wrote the config on the whiteboard and asked me how I would make it work.

I stared at it for what felt like minutes and then said, if I looked in your search history would I see you looking this up on stackoverflow?

The guy said "yes" and I said I would make it work by asking you to send me the link to the stackoverflow answer.

He laughed and said "you got me".

Same company different interviewer asked me to explain the "pros and cons of Java vs Rails."

I turned the job down.

2
theprotocol 1 day ago 8 replies      
For better or for worse, I've now become abrasive when asked interview questions in such a scripted, artificial manner. Because I no longer want the job at that point, I can respond more boldly, e.g.:

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years?""I don't know. Are you reading these questions from a textbook? FYI they're not very effective if you want to find someone who will do the job."

"What's your greatest weakness?""Trick questions in job interviews."

This is obviously not good advice; I have just reached a point in my life where I will not be made to dance to the whims of the interviewer, despite which the job would likely go to one of the employee's friends rather than it being given to me anyway.

One of the few merits of this approach is it tests if you can be frank with them or not. If they get offended at your lack of sucking up, then you probably wouldn't want that job anyway, because I find that if you suck up during the interview, you will find yourself struggling to maintain that ideal forever if you do get the job. It's better to be upfront about what things you actually care about.

3
beagle3 1 day ago 12 replies      
One of the interview questions I've used in the past is "reverse a linked list".

Indeed, you (almost) never need to reverse linked lists in practice - but you often need to chase references of one kind or another (database, pointers, etc.) and do some manipulations on them that would result in a different list. If you have 20 data points, it doesn't matter what you do, but if you have 100M or 10B points, it makes a great deal of difference whether you do O(n), O(n log n) or O(n^2) or O(n!).

I think this is a good question, because it is an abstract version of the kind of problems that any non trivial code has to address. It is easy to describe, and easy to solve if you know what you are doing. I don't use it anymore because it's too common to be useful.

And yet, through the years I've gotten the feedback[0] that it is "far detached from real work", "tests how good I did in school rather than how good I am" and various other comments -- and almost always from candidates who did poorly; I've never gotten this feedback from anyone I would consider competent.

[0] I try to get feedback through whoever referred the candidate, whether it's the friend-of-acquaintance, or the recruiter. I don't, in general, trust direct feedback from someone I turned down (or hired, for that matter).

4
doktrin 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Everything is in a flat structure, except when it comes to salary and responsibilities.

This part got a laugh out of me.

Otherwise, the analogy feels really stretched and at times feels straight up incorrect. For instance, I've never sat through a technical interview administered by non-technical staff. I've likewise never been quizzed on the history of computation.

I agree that the programming interview in the US can be overly algo-and-whiteboard happy, but I think this critique is unfair and possibly even outdated (my most recent round of interviews involved more live coding, and less whiteboarding, than when I last interviewed 4 years ago)

5
adekok 1 day ago 2 replies      
Only from the experience of good people interviewing at bad companies.

Interviewing bad people at good companies goes more like this:

Q: Can you explain the difference between a noun and an adverb?

A: I've worked at the UN for 20 years! I'm an accredited translator! I translated for Putin and Obama!

<sigh>

6
minimaxir 1 day ago 3 replies      
Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of Cracking the Coding Interview, commented on Facebook about this article (all text below is her words): https://www.facebook.com/groups/hackathonhackers/permalink/1...

> Weird analogy. Companies don't ask candidates the history of binary search trees, computer architecture, or anything like that.

A better analogy would be if they gave this translator a particularly challenging piece of text to translate -- for example, one that didn't have a clear right answer and the candidate had to discuss different tradeoffs.

But... then that doesn't seem like quite so silly of an interview process.

There are absolutely valid criticisms of whiteboard interviews, but most criticisms made are either based on terrible implementations of whiteboard interviews or based on stuff that's just incorrect. (Yes, it's totally fair to criticize a company who conducted a flawed whiteboard interview. But that criticism doesn't apply to the system as a whole. That same company could mess up whatever your favorite interview style is, too.)

> By the way: I don't actually know how translators are interviewed. But one of my best friends interviewed to be a journalist with some major New York newspapers (WSJ, etc).

She was already a journalist before this, so they had lots of public writing samples for her (analogy: GitHub code samples).

Did they just hire her based on this? Nope!

She had to do a live writing test (analogy: whiteboard coding interviews). She also had to do a pitch session to talk about different potential stories she could theoretically write about (analogy: design/architecture interviews). Plus some behavioral interviews.

Why not just look at her writing samples? Unlike for coders (which might not have public portfolios representing a significant portion of their work), basically all of her work product was actually public. So why not just hire from that?

Well, because all they see is the final output. They don't know what direction she was given, how long it took her, how much editing/collaboration was involved, etc. A crappy writer in a particular environment can churn out good work -- because someone else is doing a lot of the work. Looking at the final result is actually not a great measure of someone's skills.

Coding interviews aren't that special.

7
lmilcin 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I find this article one-sided and too exaggerated.

In reality, the sad state is, in my opinion, confluence of the following forces:

1) HR people more often than not have barely any clue about the topic. They must, unfortunately, play this charade because if they knew the topic they wouldn't be working in HR.

2) The technical people who prepare the questions typically believe they are too busy to spend time thinking about the problem and instead decide to settle on any test. The assumption is that a good candidate will be able to navigate any kind of test better that a bad candidate. In view of the technical person, this is just a screening, the real purpose being to elliminate as many phonies as possible.

3) The candidates more often than not have highly exaggerated view of their abilities. Unfortunately, high demand means that the market reaches for lower and lower quality of "resource" leading to comical situations where a large portion of the workforce (especially in countries like India) is developing software by shuffling around keywords until the code compiles which entitles them to call themselves Senior Engineers. Real senior people have no problem finding a job to the frustration of others who find the situation "unfair" and the entire process "rigged".

One more note on the process: while the cost of failed interview for candidate is quite low, the cost of making a mistake is very substantial for the company.

8
spullara 1 day ago 1 reply      
At Twitter I did a few hundred technical interviews and in general I dont like asking CS student questions but you do need to figure out if the person can code. To this end I devised a whiteboard problem that actually mimiced a real problem. After I left I posted it on GitHub:

https://github.com/spullara/interviewcode

It is important when doing lots of interviews to have a question that you know well and can be used to benchmark across your interviews. Something relevant to the job is an added benefit.

9
jobigoud 1 day ago 3 replies      
Forgot the part when you must have a public portfolio of work you did for free in the recent years even though the job in question will keep intellectual property under a lock.
10
ToJans 1 day ago 0 replies      
> It means we do Agile. Everything is in a flat structure, except when it comes to salary and responsibilities.

Pure gold!

11
EliRivers 1 day ago 2 replies      
In the end we went with a different candidate. He doesn't speak the specific language we need, but he has experience with similar words in a different language and he's a lot cheaper.

And also, http://www.jasonbock.net/jb/News/Item/7c334037d1a9437d9fa650...

12
mcguire 1 day ago 1 reply      
I thought it would be something along the lines of,

"Could you translate 'Donde es el bao?'"

"I'm sorry, I don't do well on tests. I thought we were going to talk about my past projects on my rsum. In fact, I'm quite offended by your question. Good day, sir!"

13
dkarapetyan 1 day ago 1 reply      
I keep saying this but no one seems to be listening. Use triplebyte, interviewing.io, or recurse.com for all recruitment. You are not going to beat those folks in terms of quality of candidates. They have data and stats. You have anecdotes.
14
c8g 1 day ago 1 reply      
related discussion

Google: 90% of our engineers use the software you wrote (Homebrew), but...

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9695102

15
Floegipoky 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Note to self: when we send a rejection letter to this candidate, be sure to include feedback that is too vague to be of any use to them, but will avoid any lawsuits.

Haha, what feedback?

16
funkaster 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Yeah, you know, trans-comps, Translation Competitions. Those were you put a bunch of documents in Sanskrit, throw some beverages and pizza, and invite translators everywhere to lock themselves down for 48 hours to see who can translate those the fastest. Sometimes they add free prizes to spice things up. Have you ever won any of those?

lol... I actually won a trans-comp when I was in (middle?) school: I was attending a catholic school and we were taught latin and went to some translation competitions: you had to translate a chunk of text as fast and accurate as you can. It was fun :)

17
jmull 1 day ago 0 replies      
Heh, heh. My favorite bit is toward the end:

 ...we do Agile. Everything is in a flat structure, except when it comes to salary and responsibilities.
If only this were an exaggeration.

18
bitL 1 day ago 0 replies      
The issue is that most companies jumped aboard this insanity - it was originally meant for the top companies to get the best people, now every crappy company offering $40k salary is doing this...
19
pmontra 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of those companies that throw online algorithmic puzzles to candidates. They do some good only to the companies running the puzzle services.
20
gregoriol 1 day ago 0 replies      
One time, I got one of those questions: two columns, on the left names of some people, on the right names of some frameworks, please associate who created which framework

I really should have left at that point: >1 hour lost there...

21
codedokode 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article was fun to read but the job of an engineer cannot be compared to a job of a translator.

And regarding "full-package" translators I think that web developers should be able to write both frontend and backend part of an application. It is not that difficult to learn. Programming is not something you can learn once and then repeat the same actions for the rest of your life.

22
Fej 1 day ago 0 replies      
I see folks around here constantly complaining about this issue (not incorrectly) but is anyone actually doing anything about it?

I mean, we can whine all day and remind each other that it really does suck, but that does little to address the problem.

23
luord 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Please stop saying trans-comps.

Oh, I can only hope...

24
EGreg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Do interviews really go like this at many companies?

Here in NYC I have never had unreasonable interviews even close to that. And I interviewed for a lot of senior developer positions and consultant positions.

In our own startup we have a completely different approach. Our motto is "People live lives. Companies build products."

We like to hire and work remotely because that eliminates geographic restrictions and lets people work asynchronously. We've found that the better the system for asynchronous communication, the better the long-term productivity and maintainability.

We use a common folder structure, code conventions, for each project. Developers build fully documented reusable components that are re-used across projects. Every developer is very replaceable (meaning our losses are limited if they leave or scale back their time). This is actually a great thing for developers given our compensation model (see below).

If a developer does something wrong (like checking in syntax error), we first check if this is something we should fix in the system (add a linter to the pre-commut hook). There are so many amazing open-source tools today. It's a compoundibg snowball to design a good system. Sometimes the COO job feels like an architect/developer, just like DevOps, but for people and configuring processes and systems instead of programs or servers.

The best talent is the one who already knows or can learn your platform (in our case https://qbix.com/platform) and become productive. Who is eager to grasp new SKILLS (like debugging javascript with asynchronous call stacks) and get familiar with useful TOOLS (like Google Chrome).

We hire from anywhere and prefer to work over the internet. Even our compensation model is different than what most companies do - it aims to attract independent people and entire teams, and compensate them based on the contributions they actually do. We want to grow a snowball in a transparent way, and motivate people by giving them ownership of a product or feature instead of focusing on making them sell their time as full-time employees who commute to an office.

I'd love to get feedback on the compensation model btw: https://qbix.com/blog

29
Social Cooling How big data is increasing pressure to conform socialcooling.com
359 points by milly1993  17 hours ago   168 comments top 42
1
bicubic 16 hours ago 9 replies      
I was going to write at length about my concerns on this topic, and then I decided not to. Because it's entirely possible that one day many years from now, a prospective employer/insurer/whatever finds such a comment and flags me for it.

That's the cooling effect in a nutshell.

2
imron 13 hours ago 0 replies      

 You better watch out You better not cry Better not pout I'm telling you why Big Data is coming to town It knows when you are sleeping [0] It knows when you're awake It knows if you've been bad or good So be good for goodness sake.
0: https://medium.com/@sqrendk/how-you-can-use-facebook-to-trac...

3
zeteo 14 hours ago 2 replies      
> People are starting to realize that this 'digital reputation' could limit their opportunities. (And that these algorithms are often biased, and built on poor data.)

That's interesting of itself, but the bigger underlying issue is that opportunities are becoming more concentrated. When only a few companies dominate hiring in many fields, their mistakes get seriously amplified. Back in the day you were fine if Google's hiring process misjudged you - you could work for Excite or Altavista instead. Nowadays if some ML algo decides that people wearing blue sneakers are worse job performers you can get screwed (without even knowing why). And even worse, the major companies (where the jobs are) often share algorithms.

4
voidhorse 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I think the creator may be better off conducting a through philosophical investigation in efforts of pinning down the concept. You would be much better off giving full citations to Foucault and Deleuze, and full analysis into the Snowden incident and the fallout rather than a sort of half nod to, what I think, are the foundation beams of this concept.

This page kind of assumes the audience is already willing to admit social cooling as a legitimate phenomena, and if not, will be convinced to do so after a few short bullets and very little in the way of actual analysis (ironically, this sort of approach leverages one of the modern patterns the piece could tackle--short bursts of information, instant delivery, decreased skepticism and amounts of reflective thought).

Also, I'd highly recommend avoiding the global warming comparison. It does a disservice to your cause. It basically comes off, at least to me, as saying "our problem isn't a substantial thing in its own right so lets compare it to this other big problem people already care about and hope the very loose and forced analogy strings them along"

All this being stated, ya'll should check out Horkheimer's essay "The Concept of Man." He wrote it in ~1952(might've been 53 or 57, I'm forgetting the exact date)--and it's crazy how prophetic that essay turned out to be. It shows how all our innovation really just led to an amplification of social structures and patterns that were already emerging during the dawn of automation and mechanization. I think it's relevant to your project.

5
nippples 15 hours ago 1 reply      
> People are starting to realize that this 'digital reputation' could limit their opportunities.

Thanks to the moral police and keyboard warriors out there normalizing contacting employers over an internet argument.

6
dalbasal 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Hmmm...

There's one side of this which is straightforward. Companies and governments are compiling data for their own purposes, which range from modeling user behaviour to profiling you so that they can sell you stuff or arrest you for dissidence.

The lines we previously defended for privacy, freedoms of conscience, affiliation and speech have been disturbed, to say the least. This has generaly been done under the surface, without involving users. It is increasingly felt on the surface, via the ads you see on FB or the recomendations youtube feeds you.

The other side of this is what I think of as a "post-history" problem. We're now transitioning into a period where reality is simply recorded. Your comment on Chelsea Manning's release is now a matter of public record. Your next Tinder date might see it and so might the HR manager reviewing your application for senior talent accumulator in 2032.

There are all sorts of implications to that, but mostly people just feel weird about it for now. Anxious and uncertain.

So... FB (HN, whatever) is a space for casual discussion. Casual generally meant private in the past. Now, some of the most casual discussions mean an extreme opposite of private. This inevitably comes with stress.

Calling it a hilling (or cooling) effect is evoking a political dimension, one that speaks to the first part of the issue. The second issue, that's more of a social issue. It's political too, but I don't think that's where the centre of mass is.

7
bem94 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I really feel that engineers need to wake up to this kind of thing.

I'm not saying we should stop (although that's what might happen), just that we pause and consider what this is doing to the world. It is the undercurrent for so many profound changes going on right now.

Are we really comfortable as individuals building systems which predict someones mental (ill) health, personality traits or ethnicity just so we can sell them things, or worse, not sell them things?

8
captainmuon 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This sounds like a self-fulfulling prophecy. Tell people that having data of them out there will change their behavior, and then they'll become aware of that idea, and will change their behavior. If they don't know about the concept, they might not.

You could even say that this page, and people trying to raise awareness for this issue, are harmful!

Imagine a few important people stepping up and saying, no, we will not disadvantage applicants because of their "unprofessional" facebook profiles. In fact, we value authentic, unintimidated people. The act of saying so will make it a little bit so!

We need to shift the blame from people expressing themselves, to those people punishing them for it, or even to people giving well-meaning advice like this.

(Just a crazy thought I just had. Didn't want to be to harsh with the creator, who raises an important discussion.)

9
joekrill 15 hours ago 1 reply      
The first thing I thought of was the "Nosedive" episode of Black Mirror this season. Seems more and more plausible every day.
10
fibbidd 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I am not saying there is nothing to this, but this is just a catchy concept with a convincing narrative. The sources are news articles and YouTube videos, not scientific papers specifically addressing the issues mentioned, for example showing a link between self-censorship and online monitoring or quantifying that effect.
11
ptero 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with the general premise, but I think privacy is not the perfect weapon here: if someone is making a public statement (e.g., a personal view expressed on a weblog) they cannot claim that it is a private statement. The goal (I think) is to prevent them being hounded for it outside the channel where it was expressed.

One option is to bring back anonymity so people can make public, anonymous comments. Anonymity has been sharply curtailed (because terrorism) and this is, IMO, bad for society.

Another is to mandate short term limitations on use. For example if the employer wants to look at your online presence they can only look at last week of your posts and only for initial employment consideration. IMO employers should not look there at all, but maybe this may be a palatable compromise.

The chap in HR is not itching to dig dirt on employees -- he just has a distorted notion of due diligence forced on him. If he has a clear, legal definition of what he can and he cannot look into I suspect he will gladly comply. My 2c.

12
peter_retief 15 hours ago 4 replies      
We are in the age of "virtue signalling" people pretend to hold what they believe are popular virtues. Is it possible to mention "Donald Trump" and not cause an uproar of virtue signalling?
13
mncharity 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Harvard Rescinds Acceptances for At Least Ten Students for Obscene Memes[1]: "Harvard College rescinded admissions offers to at least ten prospective members of the Class of 2021 after the students traded sexually explicit memes and messages that sometimes targeted minority groups in a private Facebook group chat." (June 5)

A related NYTimes opinion piece [2] encourages "help young social media users realize that their online and real-life experiences are more intertwined than they may think. Parents might, for example, cite current events, like the Harvard episode, to remind them that nothing online is ever completely private". Which is true, good advice, and social cooling.

And the nytimes/reuters version [3] is currently "Page No Longer Available". How does that affect your confidence that "if it was going on, you would know about it"? :)

[1] http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/6/5/2021-offers-resci...[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/07/well/family/the-secret-so...[3] https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/06/05/business/05reuter...

14
chicob 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would add that, in an age where old values fade away, people seem to be caught in a strange economy of visible virtue.

By reducing moral relativism to the self and ignoring its role in relationships at large, individuality overcomes any collective moral system (be it religious, political or philosophical), and so self-righteousness assumes a form that values spontaneity and originality - the tools of personal promotion - above ethical soundness. This seems to be, in my opinion, the hummus of the most visible social outcry. Social media outrage took the place of discussion, just like opinion articles are taking the place of news reports.

Uncritical adherence to this logic harms us all. And the chilling effect strengthens it.

In the past, people fought against a static, conservative religious or political moral, in order to make room for individuality, liberty and democracy. Now we have an agglomerate of individual perspectives fighting for visibility in social media, where popularity (by any shallow measure) took the place of reasoning. The chilling effect makes public virtue even more black and white, and conformity (or social cooling) is just settling in either side. Living in the fringe that is refusal of conformity (social heating?) has become more difficult and exhausting than ever...

I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong and things were like this for ages. Maybe there is an answer in all the valuable teachings of the past that we simply choose to ignore for the sake of the here and now.

15
njarboe 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a high school teacher once tell me, "Never write anything down you would not want published in the local paper". This was before the internet and smart phones. It seemed like good and not very restrictive advice that I used as a heuristic for many years. Maybe at that time there was a better balance between personal privacy and society's right to know things about you. Equivalent advice today might be, "Never say or do anything within 100ft of a smart phone or put into a computer anything that you would not want everyone in the world to be able to see now and at all times in the future." That is quite a bit of change and I would feel unjustly controlled following this heuristic.
16
vladf 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I might be misunderstanding the point being made here, but at one part doesn't make sense to me. The digital reputation argument seems to be saying "big data is bad because your reputation (i.e., people's valuations of your past actions) is now more accessible to people." Such an argument can hold two ways:

1. Giving anyone access to your reputation is inherently bad.

2. Giving some amount of people access to your reputation is OK, but the amount of people big data gives it access to is now magically worse.

(1) is definitely untrue, at least to most people. We all definitely use our knowledge of other's reputations to make judgements, and apply social pressure to make them conform. For instance, if someone you know is a rich snob, or a vehement racist, you won't hang out with them.

(2) seems ad hoc. Why would letting more people know about your reputation magically be worse? Whether someone knows about your reputation should either be bad or not -- it's not dependent on how many other people are aware of your reputation.

17
Katastrophial 13 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a great presentation of facts into an infographic form that is easily digested by lots of people.

It could use some serious fine tuning for grammar though, likely as a result of English being a secondary language.

If the guy who owns the website is on here, I'd be happy to help out with the syntax and grammar. PM me, I'd love to help out with this - it's really well laid out.

18
syphilis2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It seems to me we need to write 'privacy in public' into our laws. We've reached a time where government possesses the power to track most citizens simultaneously. Businesses can do the same with everyone they come in contact with, and technology is cheap enough I believe an individual could do a decent job tracking people in his community. We all have to exist in public to some extent, I believe it's reasonable to demand more privacy be extended into public space.
19
lithos 12 hours ago 2 replies      
All of this with 4, different share buttons. Just to flag everyone who visits the site.
20
bogomipz 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I see this chilling effect manifested sometimes on HN as well. People will create throwaway accounts to comment on certain subjects.

An example - there was a discussion a couple of days ago about FB and I questioned why a commenter felt the need to create a fake account simply to comment on FB. It turned out they weren't even a current employee but an ex-employee.

21
randommm 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It is obviously bogus that Foucault raised that issue in 1975. For example Erving Goffman introduced the term "Total Institution", which implies total surveillance already in 1961. Subsequently, there have been many public reports concerning the information society and the problem of data bases. For a legal assessment see Westin, Columbia Law Review 1966, pp. 1003ff.
22
Fuxy 15 hours ago 1 reply      
And this is why Facebook has become my go to place for contacting old friends I haven't talked to in years and relatives I speak too even less.

If it's people I interact with all the time there's other ways of contact that are less data mined like a good old text message or phone call.

Oh yeah and my last Facebook post is well over a year ago. There's no way in hell I will post random pictures it that will show me in bad light. It's basically a slightly less official business profile.

23
jxramos 6 hours ago 0 replies      
wow, this is a huge question and a huge distinction "If they say they don't sell your data, ask if they are selling theirs." I've never even contemplated the ramifications of derived data. Can anyone enlighten the gang about what risks reside along this derived data surface?
24
avip 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Domainistication - How inventing a quite meaningless term, made of N words, then registering the domain made of these words glued together, and uploading a single page thingy, became a thing.

More on that in https://domainisticationofngrams.com

25
rdrey 9 hours ago 1 reply      
HN can help us investigate this phenomenon by tracking how often users click on 'reply' but then shy away from submitting it.
26
michaelcampbell 13 hours ago 1 reply      
How is this not the well documented Hawthorne Effect? That being watched digitally and with more ubiquity seems to be a distinction without a (real) difference. Calling something new does not make it so.
27
gedrap 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that one of the reasons why awareness is still relatively low, is that it is often hard to imagine the implications of this for the casual internet user as HN is quite a bubble in this regard.

And by implications I mean something more than not seeing job ads, or not getting a loan.

Fortunately, there are no such cases that I am aware of. Unfortunately, it might be just a matter of time.

28
Mz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh. My. God. Fearmongering is everywhere.

We also might conclude that "meh, teens getting drunk occasionally" or "meh, people actually having a sex life" is pretty goddamn normal and get over a bunch of nonsense.

No matter what goes on around us, we still have a choice in how we interpret things and what kind of world we choose to build. There is zero inevitability here.

When Demi Moore posed naked on the cover of a magazine while pregnant, this was some sort of shocking dramatic thing. Now, it seems like every pregnant celebrity does the exact same pose and posts it somewhere. It has become prosaic.

Seriously, we can choose to be more humane to people. Things going to hell is not some inevitability.

Edit: Maybe a better example is that when 24 hour news channels became a thing, it changed the news. Before that, people were very straight laced and serious for the 30 minutes that they reported the news. This was not sustainable when reporters had to talk live all day, every day. They became less stiff and formal, more able to crack a joke and be human. They still had to treat some subjects with appropriate respect, but 24/7 news channels caused news to lighten up some.Geez.

29
f_allwein 15 hours ago 2 replies      
of course, "social credit systems" to rate citizens are already being tested in China: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21711902-worrying-imp...
30
SamBoogieNYC 11 hours ago 0 replies      
If public expression of a thought MAY result in more sophisticated communal understanding revealed by discourse, then it follows that self-censoring said thought MAY result in eliminating more advanced thoughts.

That is a real concern to me.

31
DanielBMarkham 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Our species is hardwired to mix among multiple social groups, each having different norms and hierarchies. We have positively proven that we evolve over time by allowing repugnant minorities the ability to publicly speak. Out of 100 reprehensible social opinions, one turns out to be the next Martin Luther King, Jr. Our perception of something as being "good" or "bad" for public discourse is notoriously fallible and broken.

The things I say in a social group of former college buddies and the things I say in a group of the local clergy are two different things. That doesn't make me two-faced: it makes me human. In fact, the ability to converse and trade with drastically different social groups is probably the essence of humanity.

Yet our current overlords that program the internet are convinced that the entire world should run as if it were just a huge version of their favorite social group. Joe tells racist jokes? Maybe we let Joe continue, but we definitely ought to score that. After all, Joe could offend somebody -- and then they would be mad at our platform, not Joe.

We are instrumenting a terrible evil on our species, even more evil than the security and surveillance state, if such a thing could be possible. SkyNet has finally attacked, and because there are no T-1000s leading the way the vast majority of the population doesn't even know it's at war.

32
golemotron 15 hours ago 3 replies      
In one model of human behavior we all just become better people because we self-censor. I think that may be true for the first generation of people experiencing these effects in a society. Later generations will have more of a problem.

The problem comes when they repress negative emotions and other status detractors because the cost of even being aware of them is too high. Then you have people who, in psychological terms, are prisoners of their shadow selves. They become anxious and depressed because they fear confronting it.

33
vlasev 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Serious question - how viable would it be to implement some sort of data decay?

I don't know how it would be implemented, on what schedule, and to what extent.

34
Symmetry 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Regardless of current issues, I figure that in 30 years everybody will have access to AIs capable of trawling the internet and correlating all my online identities. At least barring things like nuclear war, global draconian censorship, etc. I've taken to just using my real name in most places online to remind me of this. If I'd created this HN account a few years later I'd be AndrewClough rather than Symmetry.
35
mhh__ 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I know that it's crazy

I know that it's nowhere

But there is no denying that

It's hip to be square

?

36
nachocode 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a very delicate topic indeed. On one hand, users are not willing to pay to use the services of platforms such as Youtube or Facebook so they need to find ways to monetize. On the other hand, As a user, you feel that your trust in platforms has been betrayed by knowing that platforms are selling the data that you willfully post to the public.
37
dmartinez 13 hours ago 1 reply      
In the future, the right to anonymity is a right that will become worth fighting for.
38
sn41 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess it's time for Samizdat all over again.
39
sn41 11 hours ago 0 replies      
It's like we need Samizdat all over again.
40
dredmorbius 17 hours ago 2 replies      
A related question: can privacy be quantified? And if so, how? On what bases?

Thoughts I've had:

Total quantity of data available?

Ability to define boundaries?

Ability to enforce those boundaries?

Knowledge of what boundaries to even define?

Who knows what about a person?

How many agents know what?

How aware is the subject of actual knowlesdgee?

How rapidly can that knowledge be further transferred?

Does the surveillor know more of the subject than the subject?

Can the subject access that knowledge?

Can others?

What level of benefit (or harm) can be transacted on the basis of surveillance? Does this accrue to the subject or others?

41
Asooka 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ok, but isn't this the system working as intended? Yes, to me this is absolutely awful, a new form of Gestapo with similar awful consequences, but isn't this exactly what Big Data is supposed to do? Make everyone conform and punish those who step out of line.

Just raising awareness won't change anything - the system is working as intended for the people who were sold on it and the people who implemented it (bar a few unfortunate engineers who had to do it for the money). History is rife with examples of people trying to enforce a more rigid social order with varying degrees of success. Letting people different from you have freedom is not something that many people want. Think hard about the last time you thought "the world would be a better place if everyone thought like me". Then realise how many people don't follow that with "but enforcing a mind-police on society is awful".

42
grillvogel 11 hours ago 0 replies      
the formatting of this site is truly awful
30
The Calibre Content Server calibre-ebook.com
311 points by dabber  3 days ago   140 comments top 17
1
criddell 3 days ago 7 replies      
I've always just used Calibre because it's a nice way for me to strip DRM and then archive my books. I've never really used it any kind of active way. Since I buy pretty much everything from Amazon, I already effectively have a content server.

Does anybody have a link to an online server (with public domain books)? I'm curious to see what the presentation is like. What's the typography like? Does the screen dim after 30s? What's the browser battery consumption like compared to an ereader app?

Long term, my big concern about ebooks is DRM. Amazon's most recent version (KFX) hasn't been cracked and workarounds involve getting Amazon to send you an older version of the file with older, crappier hyphenation and layout. I've started mostly buying DRM free books from Amazon, but they don't make it easy to find them.

2
peternicky 3 days ago 9 replies      
Related but slightly off topic:

Am I the only one who is turned off to calibre due to how "heavy" and clunky it feels? I suspect this is due to the program being written in Java. I think the author does great work maintaining the project but frankly wish it was more modern.

Perhaps this is a good side project for me to delve into ;)

EDIT: thanks to users who clarified that Calibre is written in python.

3
rufugee 3 days ago 1 reply      
I've been searching for a solution to handle the various ebooks I buy and to allow me to annotate them in a centrally stored location. I have kindle purchases, pdfs, epubs, and mobis from various publishers.

Moon Reader (http://www.moondownload.com) would be great if it had a desktop or web-based client...however, it's only supported on Android. If Calibre can give me this experience, it's value just increased immensely. Looking forward to trying this.

4
blfr 3 days ago 8 replies      
I love it in principle but, considering how small most books are relatively to storage space offered by modern devices, even mobile ones, what is the upside of storing content centrally instead of just carrying a copy with you?
5
fest 3 days ago 1 reply      
I thought that this was a recently added feature. Turns out it has been there since at least 2011 (based on a forum thread about it). Will have to try it!
6
dubyte 3 days ago 0 replies      
I did a little go server to expose an opds basend of a dir structure

https://github.com/dubyte/dir2opds

So far I only tested on moonreader

7
jl6 3 days ago 2 replies      
I am a happy user of Calibre and am grateful for the work the author has done, but I've never heard a convincing explanation of why it is so slow when adding books and updating metadata. 10-15 seconds to add a 500KB ePub. I have apps that will transcode 4K video at a higher throughput than that. What's it doing?!
8
dancsi 3 days ago 3 replies      
It would be great if this feature was extended so that I can sync my books across different Calibre installations on different machines.
9
projectorlochsa 3 days ago 1 reply      
Calibre is unfortunately a big mess of spaghetti code. I had a problem with speeds when a book is being added. Couldn't get myself out of the soup to fix it.
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fest 3 days ago 0 replies      
It looks like you still need Calibre GUI to add books- this is read-only interface.

I was hoping that this could replace my Google Drive folder with various papers on interesting topics I'd like to read.

11
r3bl 3 days ago 1 reply      
They have also made Calibre look a little less crappy on high definition screens, and added a conversion to .docx: https://calibre-ebook.com/new-in/twelve
12
drumttocs8 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been using Google Play Books as a way to keep my books in the cloud, ready and available. Looking forward to seeing how Calibre works in comparison- hopefully much greater control, with similar functionality.
13
CaptSpify 3 days ago 0 replies      
Having tried to set this up, it's a neat idea, but needs a lot more work before it's ready. Can't logout users, poor interface design, a bunch of JS errors when just trying to load a book (immediate request timeouts, incorrect paths, trying to access missing objects, non-working buttons, etc).

I hope it gets better though, because it's a great concept

EDIT: also, the forums aren't letting me register due to an error in their captcha being broken, so I can't discuss/submit my bugs there.

EDIT2: I was able submit a bug report to lanuchpad.

14
robk 3 days ago 2 replies      
I love Calibre and contribute recipe updates often but don't really see the value of the server. I script things to download via command line and then send to kindle over email. It's more robust than the front end and less hassle than running a server you have to use the browser to access. Given file sizes are small (this week's Economist is about 15mb) it's perfectly Fine to us email.
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mahyarm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I personally just use iBooks as my personal content server / ebook reader. Get your epubs somehow and drag & drop to iBooks. It syncs with all of your devices whiles using your iCloud account. It's very easy, and I've found iBooks the nicest ebook reader yet.

I like it better than amazon's kindle apps and you can use an open format.

16
truffle_pig 3 days ago 2 replies      
Semi-related: I wrote a fb messenger bot [1] which can send any ebooks (including epub) to your kindle.

It's handy if you've only got access to an epub, and a bit less clunky than sending via email.

[1] https://m.me/kindleebooksender

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flappydev 3 days ago 0 replies      
can someone tell (test) for me if calibre server serves to a console browser such as elinks ?

Thanks

       cached 20 June 2017 04:11:01 GMT