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How to detect lies with a storytelling technique anecdote.com
93 points by jessaustin  2 hours ago   46 comments top 17
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mankyd 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Read a book on this and this seems to corroborate much of what I read. One of the most interesting and simple techniques discussed was the order in which people recounted their stories.

The example given is an employee who is consistently late for work. If you ask them to recount why they are late one day, a liar will tell you the story linearly: "I woke up, ate breakfast, hopped in the car, was on my way, minding my own business, then someone hit my car. I got out to trade insurance ... [etc]".

A truth teller jumps around, usually starting with the climax "Someone hit my car on the way in. I then realized my insurance was expired. I had just been going through my bills the previous night ...".

This is easily ascribed to the fact that the liar is either making the story up as they go or are repeating a rehearsed lie. A truthful person can jump around easily because they are recounting distinct memories.

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anentropic 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
My first thought was a motivated liar could learn to beat it... surely part of its success is from the liar being unprepared for the novel questioning technique?
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jasode 1 hour ago 3 replies      
>Morgan found that the use of these mnemonic props open-ended questions about various sensations and sequences of events dramatically increased memory recall about what had happened. The subjects stories consequently became more and more complex, and richer in detail. Or at least, they did when people were telling the truth. When it came to the lies, even well-rehearsed ones, the subjects tended to falter and were unable to complete the interview. According to Morgan, this was because when they were prompted to dredge up deeper memories, the liars had nothing to draw on.

Is this technique robust enough to detect implanted false memories (psychologist implants memories of child molestation) or are such recalled "memories" indistinguishable from real ones?

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oldmanjay 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
To go along with enhanced interrogation, let's name this technique HD questioning.
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alexggordon 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
First off, I think this technique is completely true, in my own experience. However, I think this isn't the end-all lie detector, in that you have to know what to have the subject tell a story about.

Take the issue of national security (in the USA). To get a national security job, you'll have to go through a lie detector test[0], where they'll ask you a ton of questions. Say I'm lying about my name. Do you ask a story about my name? Say you ask about my childhood instead. If I was lying about my childhood, I'd tell stories that were as closely aligned with real life as possible, and change as few details as I needed to. A story about playing in the park in the summer with my parents doesn't change a whole lot if it's in North America or Europe.

Bottom line is, I think this method works, with the caveat that you have to know the event or thing that they would be lying about. Trying to find out if a spouse killed their significant other? Check, you can ask the stories around their alibi. Trying to figure out if James Bond is going to sell national secrets? What story are you going to ask about?

[0] http://federalnewsradio.com/federal-drive/2012/12/what-feder...

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JackFr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This matches my experience that the best lies are based in truth and experience. That is, either use something which actually happened to you and change only the most necessary bits or use something which you know well to have happened, just not necessarily to you.
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dang 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
I thought this had been discussed on HN earlier this year, but searching for it has failed me. I did find https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9061964, though, which looks interesting and related and got no attention.

Edit: I found it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10180728. Interesting and related and got lots of attention. But not a duplicate.

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jacinda 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I wonder if successful con artists (or novel writers) have such a vivid imagination that they would be able to pass this kind of test. If you have such a good imagination that you can convince yourself you actually are in a make-believe world, does the lie become just as convincing as the truth?

Put another way, if a novel is so richly detailed that I feel as though I'm actually in the story, would describing my experience of that novel be interpreted by this system as truth or a lie?

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davesque 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Fun read. The technique they're describing here is the same one that attorneys use during cross-examination of witnesses.
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buzzdenver 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
This might be a better technique if the suspect does not know what the psychologist is looking for, but probably still does not work if he does. So ultimately it still isn't very usable in the real world.
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djkz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of Jobs To Be Done (http://jobstobedone.org/) interviews style that dig into emotions of why customer switched to a different product.

The interview jumps around the story looking for any events that moved customer to or from new solution, and digs into the emotions associated with each event to get customers to recall all details.

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learc83 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hmm... My guess is that in a few years, we'll see the word frequency analysis being used by police as an investigative technique.

However just like with drug dogs, they'll ignore the high false positives and low prior probabilities.

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empath75 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
What if the lie is just a minor detail embedded in an otherwise true story, though?
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teabee89 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How does this work on truth-telling people under lot of stress, or fear?
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andrewclunn 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sounds to me like some of these people just aren't good liars.
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thehoff 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Slightly off topic, decided to check out the source (Criminal podcast) and seems like a great one (based on the first two episodes). Subscribed.
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Theodores 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Nothing new here, this interviewing technique by storytelling has been standard procedure for a long time with the British Police. One simple variation is to recall the story from the beginning, then recall from the end and see what doesn't match up.
The Nightmare of Replacing a Battery on a Mac Laptop photofocus.com
9 points by jpatel3  14 minutes ago   discuss
Faxes from the far side of the moon damninteresting.com
98 points by vinnyglennon  3 hours ago   10 comments top 2
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ctdonath 2 hours ago 1 reply      
We tend to discuss (understandably) how we don't see the far side of the Moon, discuss the difficulty of the "radio shadow", and are delighted to occasionally see pictures thereof.

Consider the reverse: someone (yes, hypothetically) living their life on the far side of the Moon would be completely unaware their quiet home is just 1.3 light-seconds away from a brilliantly reflective orb teeming with life.

2
ck2 2 hours ago 2 replies      
It was great we had space races during the cold war (and the fact it was cold).

Now we have no more space exploration and just hot wars in Syria. No troops on the ground - wait what, Russia is in Syria? Troops on the ground!

Hey I know, let's give Russia millions of dollars to fly American astronauts to the space station because we can't do it ourselves because we drove NASA's budget into the ground, that will teach them.

Firebug and DevTools Integration mozilla.org
21 points by _jomo  1 hour ago   3 comments top
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vital 16 minutes ago 2 replies      
Cookie editing is still missing. Without this feature a wider adoption of FF dev tools or its full utility as a wedev tool is impossible.Yes, I voted for https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1031192. Please do the same. Thanks.
Rreverrse Debugging huonw.github.io
56 points by dbaupp  3 hours ago   29 comments top 10
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wyldfire 2 hours ago 1 reply      
> Ive never been a huge user of debuggers. Being able to diagnose my code line-by-line, statement-by-statement sounded theoretically good to me, but Ive never really clicked with it in practice.

Years ago, I would've been floored by a comment like this. But lately I find myself using them a little less often. These days, the codebases I interact with leverage more and more small-scope unit tests. This usually means that an unexpected test failure requires much less imagination to explain.

But debuggers remain a terribly simple way to identify the cause of a segfault/bus error. Even with code I've never seen -- if armed with just a stack trace I can identify a system misconfiguration or a workaround to avoid the error.

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YorkianTones 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
Windows has had this capability for at least 8 years with "time travel tracing" (or iDNA tracing), which produces a dump file that can be traversed back and forward in WinDBG or Visual Studio. Very useful for figuring out what caused unexpected state in complex integration scenarios with timing-dependent bugs. http://www.thewindowsclub.com/microsoft-time-travel-tracing-...
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ZenoArrow 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
This might be impractical, but is it possible to record gdb traces using a different processor, as long as that processor has access to the RAM the program is running in?

For example, could you record gdb traces with a GPU in a PC with hUMA?

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/AMD-HSA-hUMA-APU,22324.html

That could allow for gdb traces to be recorded constantly without a CPU performance hit (traces could be truncated if/when the size grew too large).

4
MichaelMoser123 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I just saw a presentation that describes the rr vm/recorder in more detail. I am very impressed (though i haven't got the chance to use/test it).

https://youtu.be/H4iNuufAe_8

pure science fiction - instead of recording the change produced by each instruction they are recording what changed between system calls (result of system call is recorded) and scheduling points.

They do record the result of each system call and somehow manage to count the number of instructions per scheduled thread (they can only do that on new intel processors - counting the number of branches not instructions as instruction counter is not reliable. They are doing their own scheduling since the VM is all running in a single thread. It is also very Linux specific - for general case they use ptrace to record the system calls and their result, but tracing of some operating system calls is optimized by injecting stuff into the kernel (!)) - that's the reason why the recorded data is of minimal size.

I wonder how they are dealing with epoll - here the result is passed via shared memory and not via the system call interface.Still i guess they are lucky that there is no kqueue like interface on Linux - with kqueue it would have been even harder to track when the event result comes in.

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rjbwork 2 hours ago 4 replies      
"Imagine"... I've been doing it in Visual Studio for years.

Step 1. Find problematic code

Step 2. Step back to before problematic statement

Step 3. Change problematic data value and/or code to hypothesized good one (while debugger is active and paused)

Step 4. Continue execution and observe if output is as desired

Step 5. Write test case.

Easy peasy. I'm glad to see the Rust community doing something similar, as the benefits of ease of development are not to be discounted, and Rust seems like a pretty nifty language.

6
padator 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
OCaml had a time-traveling debugger for 20 years now. Good job catching on.(to be fair it got full stack back trace only since 2000 so far later than Perl for that).
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fredcy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Elm has a "time traveling debugger", http://debug.elm-lang.org/

I'm eager to give it a try in a real project.

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alphabetam 1 hour ago 0 replies      
IntelliJ's debugger can "drop frame", after which you can re-run a function.
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arthursilva 2 hours ago 5 replies      
Is there a good GUI wrapper for gdb or lldb?
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pron 1 hour ago 1 reply      
For those interested, Java has a number of such "time-travelling" debuggers (I've used one to great effect):

* TOD: http://pleiad.cl/tod/index.html

* Chronon (commercial): http://chrononsystems.com/

* Jive: http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/jive/

* Whyline (research): http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~NatProg/whyline-java.html

* Omniscient Debugger (discontinued?): http://www.lambdacs.com/debugger/

Why Software Outsourcing Doesn't Work Anymore yegor256.com
260 points by nkurz  8 hours ago   181 comments top 52
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makecheck 1 hour ago 3 replies      
I would say it never really has worked; there is no "anymore".

One problem in outsourcing is the thinking that programmers are somehow easily replaced; the "just find 'a' developer" idea, with little to no thought put into whether it may matter if the chosen team has any idea what they're doing. Two anecdotes. Years ago I was given such a team, to maintain a system primarily written in two different languages; the manager in charge gave me two guys from the other side of the world who were to be "taking over" the project despite not knowing how to program in either language, and there was no arguing this point. On another project, a resource from far away was graciously donated to me to help with a C++ project; I later realized he had chosen to recreate several container classes in C++ as if he'd never heard of the STL.

Another problem is the fundamental misunderstanding of culture. Managers in the U.S. seem surprised when they encounter wildly different behaviors overseas (gee, it's almost as if they had hired someone from a completely different part of the world!). For instance, I have encountered remote groups that are astoundingly good at self-preservation, who will basically change their minds and do whatever they want at the last minute to prop up their team at the expense of your project. Individuals, too, may have side projects that they care about much more than anything you have asked them to do.

2
timtas 1 hour ago 5 replies      
The author is on the right track, but he fails to form a serviceable thesis. You should never exchange cash for services if you follow his thesis strictly. My ten year relationship with my own awesome dentist falsifies this thesis.

To find a better thesis, we might ask, what's the difference between my dentist and WeCodeLikeNoOneElse, Inc?

I think the main difference is reputation, the role it plays the given marketplace. I'm not sure why, but the market for offshore development has never counted on reputation. I can't name a single firm. I can't even remember the name of the firm I recently interacted with as a contractor coming in to to clean up their mess. If I were to suss out any one of the unsolicited Linked In offers for cheap development I get each week, where would I even start?

My dentist has built up a loyal clientele by word of mouth in the community over a lifetime. The community is small enough that a shady dentist would be run out town in no time.

Conversely, I do know the names of some local dev shops, and I know their reputations. The ones with good reputations do not treat their clients purely as cash cows. Although they face the same, or worse pressures on utilization, they do quality work, at a premium. They have built brands and will grow or sink mostly on reputation. They still constantly face incentives to pump out shit, but there's a counter balance that's missing in the offshore outsourcing market.

3
datashovel 4 hours ago 5 replies      
I think one of the biggest problems with outsourcing comes from 2 groups of people.

Generally these are the most vocal proponents at first, only to become some of the most vocal opponents later. The way I would classify them, generally speaking, are: (a) business people looking to keep costs down but don't know the first thing about running a technology project, (b) those who think "outsourcing" means "I tell you the idea, and you do all the work".

Technology projects (especially custom ones) are hard, and they require a lot of due diligence and hard work from all parties involved.

I would never recommend a non-technical person / company to try outsourcing. It's a recipe for disaster. That is unless you fully trust the person / group of people who you're putting in charge of the project.

EDIT: Thought I'd add a clarification here. Never recommend outsourcing of CUSTOM projects that is. Cookie cutter solutions it's obviously a different story...

And I guess another edit would be to differentiate "scale" of a project. Large scale projects which will be "centerpieces" to a company, are the kinds of projects that I read about being outsourced which alot of times seem to turn bad.

4
cfontes 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been part of a project that by the time was called "The most expensive IT project on the planet" and it was planned, run, build and supported by outsourced resources.

I can't stress this enough, this is a mistake, having your management/architecture teams from outsourced companies is just stupid. Nobody is responsible for anything they have no risk at all, it's the best job on earth.

You see those guys come, change everything to their management/architecture style, manage it like they own the company making reckless decisions and before the boat hits the rock they jump ship preferably to join the competitor in a similar project (because they copy each other), because now they have experience and know-how... This cycle is still going on and I know people making a living from this, some are completely clueless but can successfully switch jobs because "They were part of XXXX team in YYYY company" that nobody knows was a complete failure yet.

They still have not finished it ( 2 years after ) all personal from the initial setup are gone, all fault of course is on them now, so new guys can continue to make reckless calls that will probably cost billions of dollars and they will receive nothing in the end.

This is a terrible waste of resources and it's the Cancer to business nowadays.

5
tequila_shot 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
I used to work for an Indian MNC first, I was their eyes and hands in United States so I had to work with a lot of remote teams every single day.

Like everything, working with remote teams is also a skill. May be you worked with some team in poland and they were brilliant, good for you; you don't have to manage. But all remote teams aren't like that. The mantra for working with any remote teams is to micro manage. Have everyday calls with them, specifically tell them what you are expecting.

Before that, I myself was a remote developer, before traveling to US. As many of you already pointed, this depends on the vendor you go with. There are lot of multinational companies who outsource work and some of them are really good. A lot of discussion is going on that the teams have reduced the specifications given to them again I would tell you that it all depends on the team you choose. I never did that myself, hell the person who outsourced the worked to me, was not very knowledgeable. So does that mean I can judge everybody who outsourced work to us?

makecheck said, the software outsourcing never really worked, when I was working in that MNCs we had projects ranging from huge telecom companies to Aviation companies. And those projects ran close to 5 years - 10 years. How did the CXO reap the benefits for 10 years if he doesn't see value in it?

6
d4nt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I run a software outsourcing company and I recognise many of the issues raised.

I did spot a few problems with the article though. Firstly, you should never outsource in order to save money. The author kind of assumes that is why you're outsourcing. That doesn't work.

The main reason to outsource should be to buy in expertise. Many companies do not really know how to document software requirements, or what a non-functional requirement is, or how to design user interfaces, or what makes good UX, or what a good test plan looks like, or how to run user acceptance testing.

Some companies don't even realise that those things are important. They just think that if they just hire a few Ukrainian Java Devs, they will get good software out the other end.

Some dev shops don't even realise that those things are important either. They just act as a middle man. Connecting you to the Ukrainian Java Devs.

Even if the customer does understand what's involved in running a software project successfully, sometimes it just has no desire to employ developers. Maybe they are not the kind of company that can attract and retain good technical talent, maybe they just prefer to stick to what they do best. Either way, using a dev shop offers an attractive alternative to contractors because the team doesn't disappear the moment you stop using them. The team sticks around and retains a certain amount of knowledge ready for next time you need some changes.

7
GregQuinn 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Although his comments are accurate there's nothing terrible profound about them.

For quite a while everybody has realized that out sourcing was never anything more than labour cost arbitrage, dressed up with fairly empty "sales" rhetoric.

However he misses a more fundamental way in which clients and outsourcers interest are misaligned.Because outsourcers are essentially selling bodies they have no incentive to become more efficient through labour cost reduction.

I suspect this failure is the real reason for the current "in sourcing" vogue. As software development and delivery becomes increasingly automated the labour cost component will drop, along with the pressure to outsource.

The outsourcers business model is fundamentally broken and it's only a matter of time before this shows up in the bottom line.

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anovikov 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I will add one more reason: with appearance of online outsourcing platforms, best developers flocked there as individuals (and that is the only way to really reliably make $4000 as a developer in Ukraine as far as i know). They don't have middlemen, which normally only get in the way by obscuring the communication, and easily beat any outsourcing shops (which don't do much valuable management anyway, just lease out workers). Because individual freelancers and offshore outsourcing companies' employees are doing the same work, only people who left with the agencies are those who are inept and know it - otherwise they'd go to Upwork themselves and get an instant 3x raise. So don't expect an agency to have good people...
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ohthehugemanate 5 hours ago 3 replies      
The argument doesn't make sense. He brings up a lot of the challenges of outsourcing, and makes offhand remarks about good ways to address them. But if his argument were true, no contractor would "work".

The entire contracting industry fits into his description of "outsourcers". Lots of contractors work effectively for their clients. As a person in ANY business, if you believe that your only incentives are to get your clients to pay more, more often, then you will fail. Fucking your customers will wreck your business in any market. The customer has to feel like they got some value out of the deal.

The real incentive for a contractor is to provide the best (perceived) quality of product, for the highest competitive price possible. Even the bottom-price bargain barrel shops know this. They're just bad at it.

10
jcbrand 5 hours ago 2 replies      
From TFA:

> OK, what's the solution, then? Just pay more? I don't think that's going to solve the problem; I'll just burn more money.

Sounds like the author hasn't actually tried to solicit a company with higher rates and therefore assumes way too much here.

I think a lot of devs/shops who are more expensive are so because they're demonstrably better. According to free-market logic, they can charge more because the market is willing to pay them more. Why would the market be willing to pay them more? Because their services are worth paying more for, due to them being better.

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jff 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"Why doesn't traditional outsourcing work? Well, because I came up with a competitor for it!":

> Present us with your requirements, be it a web system, mobile app, or Big Data who-knows-what. We will give you our best team of freelancers, all working remotely, and we will orchestrate their work, keeping you an active participant in the project.

12
Mimick 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Guy from 3rd world country here.

There's a huge number of outsourcing companies on my country, but the ones that are able to attract more clients are the ones who don't care for their products, since their business model is like that.

Normally those ones focus on showing you their teams not their works.

13
esaym 28 minutes ago 1 reply      
I really hate outsourcing of any kind. I am a person that likes software development and I hate seeing it treated as something you want to spend as little money as possible for.

One of my last companies that I worked for got bought out. We only had around 8 software devs and the parent company had a 300 man team in India! Needless to say, any new problem that popped up had a strong push from the new management to send it off to the offshore team. And there was also a dumbing down of our solution stack since all the offshore team knew was Windows, Java, and Oracle (none of which we used). After two years, I left and so did half the team.

14
tmbsundar 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've witnessed two occasions in succession where "outsourcing" failed right in India where an Indian start up "outsourced" to a firm just in the next street. The usual suspects listed in the article like "Cultural mismatch", "Lack of face to face communication", etc., were not the factors in this case.

Lack of clear requirements specifications, payments agreed to on-paper milestones vs. payments against actual working code, insistence / payment of advance money to the tune of 50% even before any actual deliverables (Some firms don;t even start work with that. Their logic is that - start ups go bust more than they succeed and they do not want to wait till you succeed to get their money.), lack of technology awareness from the founders (founders were non-technical in the web domain), etc.,

The factor of cost arbitrage did not play any role here.

These were the learning points:- They should have picked up a good firm based on known references rather than go with the cheap one based on a google search.

- Tie payments to working deliverables rather than abstract things like design sign off etc.,

- Track, monitor regularly

- Be aware of the technology you are outsourcing. If you are an enterprise IT consultant and you are going to outsource the web work. Be sure to read up on Php or whatever technology they use and ask/think through relevant questions/ improvements

Edit: Modified the list into bullet points.

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anovikov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
But i agree with just one thing: don't outsource management. If you hire some developers from an outsourcing shop in outstaffing mode, or just hire them individually on Upwork, that's fine. But don't let the agency do the management. If you can't do the management yourself you can't succeed.
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Priyadarshan_D 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Problem is not with outsourcing. Any product will fail if development not monitored properly whether its developed inhouse or outsourced

Take example of Outsourcing Success storieshttp://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247462

Slack: Now valued at nearly $3 billion, this company used outsourcing to develop its solution in its earliest days. Fab: This large startup partnered with developers in India to maximize funding while scaling up when their business showed signs of growth. Skype: They used a team of developers in Estonia to help them build out their business. Klout: To get its technology in the right place before launch, Klout relied on many outsourced developers

A lot of start-ups coming up with good ideas and quality products doing good in so called developing countries

Calculate Software revenue generated in developing countries, You have only showing negative side why you dont you write article about outsourcing guidelines?

what should they do use Made in own country Product strategy?

17
ylg 2 hours ago 1 reply      
TLDR; the author thinks outsourcing that attempts to increase ROI by leveraging international income disparities to minimize labor costs doesn't work because providers of such work want to earn as much as money as possible for their own businesses.

My thought/question for the author would be: how then can companies that work together do so without operating as charities, or are all businesses in relationships deluding themselves? Should everything be brought in-house, for example, house building? Is there a line, or a particular type of outsourcing that works or that doesn't? (Executive management, sewing employees' clothing, trimming their neckbeards?)

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MIKarlsen 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A supplementary article from WSJ "Why Companies have Stopped Outsourcing IT": http://blogs.wsj.com/experts/2015/10/14/why-companies-have-s...
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jmnicolas 7 hours ago 7 replies      
I can't say much about the subject since I never used outsourcing, however 4000$ a month for a Ukrainian dev looks really over evaluated, it's much more than most positions in France.
20
brightball 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is also the case with US based contract development shops. It's easy to "run your own contract business" when it's just you doing the work and you can decide to pay yourself whenever the client can get you the money.

The second you have a single "employee" your sole focus shifts to making payroll on time every month. Completely changes the formula.

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narrator 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The problem with outsourcing is that anyone good who can do basic marketing of themselves on odesk, or wherever, will quickly get very busy and raise their rates to market level.
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eddd 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, you should not outsource project - you should outsource people. Have a mix of inhouse developers who will cooperate with contractors. Force them to attend scrums, make them a remote part of the team. The difference is - you can use them for a period of time when you need them and then release the resources when they are no longer needed (fire them).
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ishener 6 hours ago 2 replies      
tl;dr: outsourcing doesn't work anymore because the salaries in third world countries are way higher than what it used to be
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eitally 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I would argue that software outsourcing works as well as it needs to. I used to be vehemently opposed to it, for all the normal reasons, but for the people (especially the CIOs) who pursue it, they get exactly what they deserve and I think a lot of them are perfectly ok with that. My experience [reporting to a semi-sociopathic CIO] has taught me that it's a lot easier to be flexible with contract labor (by using OpEx and other methods of shifting funds to increase/reduce monies for the work), and sometimes they care more about that than accurate delivery dates or supportable deliverables of high quality that do what they're supposed to.
25
vlokshin 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The price differences over time aren't what's made outsourcing fail over time.

And it's not outsourcing...

It IS the misalignment of goals.

Clients fail when...They feel like they're paying someone to do something, so they become their agent. That agent is now assumed to do the most amazing job possible with unclear specs. -- Root: bad specs, bad product management.

Providers fail when...They take on work that's unclear, or understandings may not be totally aligned. Good providers aren't just inflating hours -- they're hitting on their understanding of deliverables. If that understanding is misaligned, success is impossible.-- Root: bad specs, bad product management.

Bad specs, bad PM don't cover everything (you could have bad ideas, bad design, bad devs, bad architecture, bad QA, bad adoption/inner-circle feedback processing), but it's the most common root.

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mooreds 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I had success with one outsourcing project where we had a dedicated project manager and a prototype. We asked the outsourcer to make an exact copy of the prototype for a different platform and had success.

I think if you are a good outsourcing shop, you want money to pay salaries, but you also want referrals and repeat business. So you want to do a good enough job. It's the same with every company struggling to meet payroll, except a little more distant. But with globally accessible reviews, the world is a smaller place nowadays.

27
pjc50 5 hours ago 1 reply      
For a top-level view of the question, it's well worth reading Coase's "Theory of the Firm": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_the_firm

It addresses the question of why companies exist, rather than adhoc gatherings of independent economic actors held together by contractual relationships. Coase suggests that this is due to "transaction costs" involved in negotiating everything into a written contract structure upfront rather than adhoc managerial coordination as needed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioral_theory_of_the_firm is also well worth reading.

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mk3 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The author should change the title of article... I can not rip off Ukrainian devs anymore :-).

As the main argument I saw in the article is: you can not get these profit margins anymore.

29
blazespin 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Outsourcing works great for prototyping and unit testing. You can also use it for mentoring quite nicely if you get the right folks. I've done all of these successfully. I've also had good luck with website design, where you already have the UX clearly mapped out and now you just need someone to fiddle with the css

Ie, it doesn't work anymore .. except when it does.

30
szastupov 5 hours ago 0 replies      
tl;dr: a middleman bitching about cheap labor from the third world not being cheap anymore.
31
mdip 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure software outsourcing ever worked (but after reading the article, I'm fairly sure that title was picked for aesthetics rather than serving as a thesis statement).

I had this discussion with a friend who was charged with controlling costs as the new head of IT for a company he'd worked for since graduating. He had no prior experience in IT and was discussing his plans to "fire IT and offshore" in 2002.

The issue of "motivation" between an internal and external team was touched upon but it was the biggest factor in the failure that wasn't already obvious[1]. He points out a good customer for [the outsourcing company] is a paying customer. Not a customer with a successful project. That's a little more cynical than I'd be, but the point of competing priorities is important. Prior to offshoring, the internal staff's motivation was to create software for internal staff that made the business more successful. Their bonuses were paid when the company beat their profit targets, but that wasn't the entire motivation. They were a sciences company and much of the IT staff came from the company -- they were folks who were augmenting their work with code, often writing something so useful that the rest of the team used it and their job became maintaining/extending that software. They knew what to write because they either had previously done the work or were still somehow involved as a user of that software. The IT guys and the main staff were all science geeks and friends with one another so "Jan knows what Bill is expecting to do with this and he won't like it if it's designed that way." That tribal can't exist with an offshore team.

The plan was a complete failure; the offshore shop never got up to speed on the existing code-base, outages became a way of life (IT support was also offshored) and the decision was reversed after about two years. When they brought IT in house, they couldn't find anyone who wanted to work for them. In retrospect, they should have predicted this problem since they started having hiring problems almost immediately after the move -- they couldn't get the needed STEM graduates for their main work due to the poor reputation caused by the move. Interviews were outright refused -- most said they weren't interested due to fears of being replaced later[2]. They made a series of bad hires with onerous requirements in their work contracts--bonuses paid out regardless of being employed at the time they were paid--basically "protection" measures built in to calm the candidate's concerns. This was made worse by the economy improving and them no longer having access to more desperate candidates.

The failure of this project was bad enough to eliminate most companies of their size. They were lucky that they were a business who's customers had a regulatory reason to use and they lacked any competition (mainly because they're very good at what they do). This would have been a time when someone could have stepped in to compete with them. The delays caused by this were passed on to customers who had the potential to fail regulatory compliance as a result.

I've been intentionally vague about the business to ensure I can keep the friendship. I realize this post makes him sound like "an idiot" (I called him one at the time)--but bear in mind this was 2001-2002. 9/11, bad economy, and an IT budget ("new" at the time) growing like crazy were huge problems for them. IT then was seen as a necessary, unwanted, expense in most businesses their size. Coupled with prominent stories of offshoring success with little actual data about the details, it looked like an obvious choice. To the credit of his character, he set his ego aside and reversed his decison in just short of 2 years. They still occasionally augment with offshore for technically easy but time consuming work, and do so very effectively, but nobody is interested in replacing tribal knowledge with outsourced talent at his company (in 2007-2008, it never came up once as an option to improve the balance sheet). I've e-mailed him about this post in case he wants to provide detail that I wasn't comfortable sharing; but I'm leaving that to him.

[1] The obvious was having no transition in place between letting everyone go and spinning up the off-shore plan. The team literally inherited tens of services and a large code base to both support and expand on with nobody from staff able to tell them how any of it worked. Being that he failed to account for that problem you can use your imagination about every other thing that wasn't accounted for.

[2] A google/twitter search of the company yielded blog posts and other related items about the offshore move. IT folks communicate publicly when they're treated badly by an employer and they were treated terribly when they were let go. The worst thing was that despite being 2 years prior, most were convinced the company had done this only a few months prior. Objects on the internet are closer than they appear, I guess.

32
soroso 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This guy has an agenda. He himself has patented some way of distributed remote teams and wants to kill enemy ideas. Look for his weird idea of XDSD.
33
razzaj 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It is irrational to expect outstanding performance from an entity that does not have significant skin in your business. That's the rationale behind startups giving up shares to early employees. For contractors: more time= more profit. For Employees: better performance = more profit.
34
Danilka 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I have launched at least 10 products with remote developers and I can assure you that it works perfectly fine. The key here is to find a good local manager that is from a country that you try to hire developers from.

Disclosure: I am one.

35
larrik 2 hours ago 1 reply      
As a consultant who has in the past worked with outsourcing companies, the mantra I've used to explain "why it doesn't work" is far simpler: Cheap labor =/= Cheap Projects.
36
a_lifters_life 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So, really this just comes back to that Benjamin. It can be summarized in one sentence - the lucrative nature of doing outsourcing before is no longer true today.
37
osullivj 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is true of outsourcing generally, not just outsourcing to lower cost offshore regions. Back in 2000 I left my secure dev job with a large US bank to join a startup and chase the dotcom boom with a startup. The crash happened, I got laid off, no one was hiring, so I ended up joining a boutique 'consultancy' doing dev for banks. Over the course of the next three years I learnt a brutal lesson in the consultancy development business model. As this post points out, there's a fundamental misalignment of interests. The client wants the project done, and the consultant resources gone. The consulting firm wants maximum headcount on the project for maximum duration, and therefore maximum billing. This misalignment means the consulting firm can't speak the truth to the client. The consulting firm can't speak the truth to their employees either, and will usually give them some flim flam about how consultancy is the best of all possible worlds as it combines the security of permanent employment with the variety of contracting. In fact it combines the worst of both - the insecurity of contracting with the lower pay of permie work. Consultancy firms run on one key benchmark - utilisation level. Most, like ThoughtWorks or IBM Global Services, will aim for 65 to 70%. That means 65-70% of employee hours must be billable to a client. If you drop below that rate you have to fire people. At the 'boutique' consultancy I worked for they ran at 95%. Folk would roll off a client assignment at 5pm on a Friday, and get a phone call firing them at 5.10pm! So far, so simple. As the original post made clear, it's all about margin. And, as the original post also made clear, the result of this business model is one disastrous project after another. So why does it keep happening? The fault there lies on the client side. The clients hiring the outsourcing and consultancy firms are usually large corporates looking to manage costs down. The project sponsors are senior managers with long term careers in these highly political organisations. When their projects fail they can't make a fuss about it as that would draw attention to their own management failures. Instead they have to pretend the project is a qualified success, and jump to another team or silo in the corporate environment so some other sucker is left clearing up the fallout. So the consequences of failure are repeatedly eluded, as Mr Pointy Headed Manager slips off to another team, and the consulting firm moves on to the next billing opportunity. I was a little shocked when all this became apparent to me, back in 2002/3, when I saw a $25,000,000 project get canned by a large US bank without ever getting into production. Now of course I understand that it's just how orgs like EDS and IBM Global Services make their money. And the upside is, as the article points out, that it enables wealth transfer from developed economies in North America and Western Europe, to developing regions like Eastern Europe and India, by means of rising developer salaries. The conclusion I draw is don't ever work for a 'consulting' firm like ThoughtWorks. Be a permie or a contractor...
38
mattlutze 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious, what protects a customer from the author's personal outsourcing company against the author's criticisms of outsourcing?

Their company home page talks about constant value and quality approval / adherence, but it sounds like the same sort of marketing schtick that ever outsourcing company promises.

39
LoSboccacc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
wait did it work at some point? I joined late but by 2003 joking about how low quality outsourced stuff turned out to be was already old.
40
chris_wot 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
Isn't it possible that if you do staged deliverable and fixed payments that this will mitigate the risk?

If you are able to specify the deliverables needed in enough detail, then you can make payment contingent of milestones. That way the outsourcing company gets a steady stream of guaranteed income, but it's continent in them completing the work. It also allows you to cross check the work frequently.

This, of course, means that you have specified what you need clearly and in sufficient detail that you can actually go this. That means though that you need a very technical lead who has the ability to do project management. I can't see how else it could work!

41
devit 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't this solved by paying a fixed amount, and only paying if the project works and is well done?

Then the outsourcing shop no longer has the incentive to drag things out so you keep paying.

Of course, it may be necessary to pay a large premium to get such terms since the developers take all the risk.

42
PythonicAlpha 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Ironically, he is bashing about outsourcing, but he himself is doing just the same.

Of course, he does it the clever way (I read the description at teamed.io, how he makes software-development cheaper by paying "more"):

By breaking down the tasks into 30 minutes microtasks, he will only buy the "fat" from the programmers cow. The muscles, filaments and veins, he does not buy.

Of course, you can buy only the raw implementation part (at best, only the typing) of a software -- but somebody will have to do the reading of the specs, to do some guesswork ... and so on.

By buying micro-tasks, this company does use the fact, that many people will only count the "real" net programming time but not the time in-between those micro-tasks -- reading the specs, preparing the next job, doing the thinking, maybe communicating, waiting for the next assignment ...

And the final clever way is: The time estimations come from the company and that is the base for the payment. When a contractor took over a job for 30 minutes and worked on it for 59 minutes (without all the reading and other stuff as said before) ... will he go and reject the money because he nearly worked 100% more on it than expected? Will he really tell the company, that he is not that big talent, he was hired for in the first place?

43
vermooten 1 hour ago 0 replies      
+1

we experienced exactly this

failure built into the model

never again jeeez

44
Swizec 6 hours ago 2 replies      
As someone who spent several years as a solo freelancer/consultant, sometimes offshore, sometimes onshore.

The main reason this type of work is drying up, in my experience, is that there is too much free money flowing around. Why deal with a temporary worker when you can afford to hire them full-time and have them sit in your office?

Furthermore, full-time engineers add a lot more to your valuation than freelancers and consultants do. A client once told me that adding a consultant to their "full-time" force increases the company's valuation by $100,000, but a proper full-time engineer adds $1,000,000 to the valuation.

I'm not sure why, but if I had to guess I'd say it's a combination of a company showing clear signs of growth (more employees == growth), and the lower churn because of 4 year vesting plans.

45
gadders 1 hour ago 0 replies      
He seems to be talking about the low-end of outsourcing, though. I've worked at large enterprises that have outsourced to your Tatas, Wipros etc and although you do get some issues, on the whole it mostly works.

Obviously, I wouldn't outsource the system that is my main revenue earner, but getting someone in India/Poland/Wherever to fix bugs in your room booking or hr system makes sense.

46
JupiterMoon 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm glad that Ukrainian Java devs are earning $4000 a month. The quicker wages rise in low wage countries the sooner the 'first world' countries will return to overall wage growth.
47
cubancigar11 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It is important to remember that when you outsource something to a cheap labor, the keyword is 'labor' and not 'cheap'. Developers in SV don't understand this, probably because they aren't directly doing the cost calculations.

And here is the problem - articles like his one, saying how outsourcing doesn't work, are actually why outsourcing doesn't work. For example, consider someone who reads one article daily which says outsourcing doesn't work or that the resources are not very good. In last 10 years I have yet to meet a single client that gave the kind of independence you get as a developer in US. Yet every time all I read in a client's bad experience is that he/she had given too much independence.

I am in Bangalore and I work for a British Client. I WILL take the name, it is 3ds (French one). And here the only thing that matters is that client remains happy. Here is what happens here in Bangalore:

1. Client doesn't give any work which requires cognitive skills, since he is sure the return will be bad and he doesn't have time to take chances.

2. This in turn discourages good developers and forces them to:

a) Suck it up, forget about any career achievements and keep doing the maintenance job as mortgage payments are a bigger threat. Slowly the quality of output decreases.

b) Switch clients/jobs, which means sudden requirement of a resource and investing even more time in training him/her.

3. A lot of companies hear only bad stories about China stealing tech and making knock-offs, never mind that most of these knock-offs don't have any effect outside China and China is a closed market in the first place, that they have trouble handing over critical software/hardware for development. Half of my friends I know work via VPN even in office. In my office it is not possible to work on a laptop. I need to come to office and then work remotely. This is shit. Even with internet speeds in India being faster and cheaper than UK/US, when 2k people suddenly connect to VPN from a single point cursor stops responding immediately. This means slower work.

4. All meeting times are decided by client according to his/her convenience. Almost all of clients from UK that I have worked so far had literally 0 idea what its like to attend a scrum after lunch. Too early to start asking questions, too late to completely absorb the answers. US is even worse - most American clients set up a meeting at around 10:00pm (9:30am PST). Then they complain that people from India don't talk a lot.

5. Worst is pacifying a client's ego. It is not possible to tell him that he has done something wrong. It is not possible to squarely go over his authority and fix it. So Indian managers let the failures lurk for longer than necessary, and at the last moment find some scapegoat and hope the client doesn't fire him.

Mediocre developers are who make it big at the end. They stick around until H1B and then earn hefty amounts abroad.

48
mercury_craze 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ugh, not this guy again.
49
dbg31415 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Good article, and most anyone who has used Upwork will relate.

It's not just about off-shore devs. Any time you hire someone part-time / short-term and pay them hourly... what's their motivation (keep in mind they were the lowest bidder)? To give you the best quality code, or to extend / prolong their contract?

If you want to make sure your priorities and goals are aligned with your developer, make sure they are on-staff and have a percentage of the company. Or better yet, learn to code yourself.

50
imaginenore 2 hours ago 0 replies      
He is comparing the best developers in Ukraine at $4000/month with $40/hr in the US, which is what juniors make. Even with that weird comparison the margin is pretty healthy.
51
EGreg 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I have hired Russian speaking devs (not firms) hourly and, after the initial hiring filter, about 60% were very productive and didnt want to bill for months for nothing. I worked with them personally, though.
52
lectrick 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Communication"
Why you might want to choose Ceylon ceylon-lang.org
98 points by mikesname  6 hours ago   32 comments top 6
1
lmm 5 hours ago 7 replies      
Have they tightened up the floating point semantics? Or do you still get different rounding behaviour on the JVM, dart and JS?

I want to like Ceylon because it's the language Scala should be (assuming that higher-kinded types made it in - I could never work without them). It's Scala with all the ugly parts polished away, Scala with ten years' progress in language design.

But it does nothing that Scala can't. Scala might need a pile of bodges to offer these things - Shapeless implicit macros to use tuples generically, type-level libraries abusing the implicit resolution rules to implement unions, a retrofitted JavaScript backend. But that stuff has been written now, and as a developer it works - maybe with a couple of ugly extra lines here and there, but that's all.

I'm glad it exists, but I just can't see people choosing the more polished language over the one with ten years worth of library and tool support when there's no USP beyond that polish.

2
sz4kerto 2 hours ago 2 replies      
> its powerful Eclipse-based IDE

:( This is something that would, in itself, direct me to Kotlin or something else. I know that Eclipse is a better fit for Ceylon (because both are intimately related to OSGi), but I really wouldn't want to go back.

3
aembleton 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It doesn't have extension functions.

Since moving to Kotlin for my projects, I really enjoy the power that these provide: https://kotlinlang.org/docs/reference/extensions.html

What does Ceylon give me over Kotlin?

4
danesparza 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great, but who is using it? I enjoy learning new languages, but knowing who is using it (and perhaps why) is a good indicator of momentum in my opinion.
5
epalmer 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I guess for me I don't need nor want JVM + JavaScript VM interoperability. My gut says this limits what can be done. I would rather have just one or the other.

Maybe others feel differently.

6
lighthawk 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I looked for example projects in Ceylon with step-by-step info on how to setup/deploy:

* Hello World web application

* Simple online store implementation (authN, database access via ORM layer, logging)

* Todo MVC implementation

* RESTful/XML/SOAP web services

* RESTful/XML/SOAP clients

* Examples for writing AngularJS and React front-ends with Ceylon back-end services, with info on how to host such as to minimize and cache assets and server-side query caching and either side-loading or multi-table joined/extended data structures, updating and reading/accessing those data structures partially.

* Examples for easily timestamping and userstamping models

* Examples for using testing frameworks: unit, integration, (web) acceptance

Here's what I found in looking for that:

* This hello world: http://ceylon-lang.org/documentation/tour/basics/

* No Ceylon JS example at http://todomvc.com/ but this Todo list: https://github.com/vietj/cayla-mvvm/blob/master/source/io/ca...

* Two examples in what I assume is the official examples git repo at: https://github.com/ceylon/ceylon-examples containing N-queens and Game of Life only.

Also, I'd want to see benchmarks. Show me how much it is "like" performance of equivalent Java, Dart, and JS as is claimed by comparing to maybe a Play Framework app, the Dart example client-server https://www.dartlang.org/server/google-cloud-platform/app-en... , and a simple MEAN stack and/or full-stack example using ReactJS.

In addition to those examples, I'd want to see a larger community behind it with a variety of projects, e.g. specialized ORM, larger web app/services framework, simple web app/service framework each that have their own communities using it.

I think it is cool, but I don't think it is even in the same ballpark with solutions/combinations like Play+Scala, MEAN, Rails, Elixir+Phoenix, etc. for wide application in web/services.

Graph-scroll.js Simple scrolling events for D3.js graphics 1wheel.github.io
38 points by sebg  3 hours ago   6 comments top 5
1
arxpoetica 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
We maxed out on scrollytelling when we built http://hollowdocumentary.com/. I think we probably violated some of his rules here, but it was experimental for us.
2
temo4ka 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
There is also ScrollMagic http://scrollmagic.io/
3
sebg 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If you liked this walk through, definitely check out Jim Vallandingham's write up -> http://vallandingham.me/scroller.html as well as his presentation from the 2015 OpenVis Conf titled "So You Think You Can Scroll"-> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYQGgaE_b4I
4
tudorw 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The global warming link is a great example of this in use, look forward to finding some excuse to use it as soon as I can!
5
mgalka 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Really like this one. Lots if practical uses. Only problem I see us that the graphics momentarily disapper after reaching the top if the page.
Certificates, Reputation, and the Blockchain medium.com
9 points by Smerity  1 hour ago   1 comment top
1
jnbiche 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm often annoyed by "blockchain" projects, but this is a very cool application of blockchain technology.

Does anyone know which blockchain the Media Lab is using? The actual Bitcoin one, or Namecoin, or some other one?

The Rise and Fall of For-Profit Schools newyorker.com
31 points by bpolania  3 hours ago   27 comments top 6
1
randcraw 1 minute ago 0 replies      
IOMHO, the right role for govenment is to encourage community colleges to do more, especially: 1) to emphasize skills that are in demand locally, in the community where the school serves, and 2) to provide more advanced subject matter as part of professional continuing education.

For example, I'd dearly like to take some advanced math courses like those in the junior/senior years of any good undergrad curriculum. But no college in the Philadelphia area offers these on evenings or weekends, and no college (I know) offers them online. I can't imagine that there's no market for this. Why should this be?

Given the wide availability of community colleges and today's computers and networking infrastructure, it should be easy to teach strong challenging uppergraduate courses in a wide range of useful tech subjects like engineering, physics, astronomy, chemistry, etc. Using the physical resources of local community colleges, even many uppergrad lab-based courses could be supported.

But to expand their charter, community colleges will need better support, and not just from their local communities. Most CCs today are overwhelmed with lowergraduate demand, given the universal unaffordability of college education.

If congress wants to do something constructive, they should shift their support and attention away from for-profit schools and transfer to community colleges.

2
exelius 2 hours ago 6 replies      
This is a good thing for the country; the education provided by these schools is often on par with sources like Kahn Academy and Coursera -- at a much higher price. It seemed like many for-profit colleges are simply a way for "schools" to collect federally guaranteed loans that the students then have to pay back. The student assumes all of the risk.

The other side of this industry are charter schools. These are for-profit K-12 schools, often paid for by state / local governments. The problems with them are:

1) Graft is common, with charter school administrators sometimes taking home ludicrous salaries ($500k+ for schools with ~1,000 students)

2) Funding often comes directly from the local school district, most of which are already severely cash-strapped. The problem here is that the cost of a single student attending a school district is largely buried in fixed costs: when the state takes $6000/yr from a district and gives it to a charter school, the district's costs do not decrease by $6000. This makes school districts worse, which accelerates flight to charter / private schools.

3) Educational standards are different -- in most states, faith-based charter schools are totally ok. As long as they teach some bare-minimum requirements, they can teach as much religion as they want. Also, most states offer some sort of funding incentive based on test scores -- which just encourages schools to play the numbers game by finding reasons to suspend/expel struggling students, encourage cheating on tests, etc.

To be fair, not all charter schools are for-profit, and there are good charter schools and bad ones. But the entire system stinks; it cuts funding to struggling districts, leaving them in a perpetual budget crisis. It often does little to improve the education of students, while placing more of the burden on parents to go shopping for a school.

3
madaxe_again 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Here in the UK, there's an ongoing headlong rush driven by the incumbent robber baron^W^Wconservative government to turn a majority of schools into "academies", which is a back-door to complete privatisation of the "educational sector" (it's only a "sector" to those who see it as a profit-bearing industry, rather than an investment in "our" collective future).

Any negative news about the effects of privatisation elsewhere, such as this, is sidestepped deftly, as, you see, academies aren't privatisation, they're, uh, enabling, um, better education, for the children, saving the taxpayer.... look over there, shiny thing!

Academies have already come under fire for all varieties of corruption and improper practice, but individuals ("a few bad eggs") are being blamed rather than the system which promotes the viewing of and engagement with children as nascent consumers.

shakes head

4
laotzu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Jon Oliver did a great bit on privatization of education:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6lyURyVz7k

5
peter_l_downs 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The crackdown is long overdue, but theres an important consequence: fewer nontraditional students will be able to go to college.

Sure, but why would we want to encourage anyone to attend "colleges" like Corinthians and University of Phoenix, if the effects are on average as harmful as described in the article? Not sure if this is just the author trying to shoehorn in some "debate" at the end of the article but it feels like it, given the details of the rest of the piece.

6
peter303 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of military and older prefer the online experience. It takes time to commute to classes. Also the straight out of high school students are immature and aimless. In the beginning the for-profit college offered a better online experience. But regular colleges are catching up.
Kill the laws that keep car dealers in business vox.com
240 points by prostoalex  8 hours ago   186 comments top 22
1
Rumford 3 hours ago 4 replies      
There are some interesting comments in here about how tough the struggle is for car dealerships, but I don't think that necessarily justifies their existence or mitigates the point of this article.

If what the dealerships do is valuable enough to the customer, they would exist even without the ban on direct sales. But I think we can all intuit that if the ban were lifted, buying a car would be a very different (and better) experience.

2
venning 5 hours ago 6 replies      
I paused my software development career to sell cars for a year. I sold cars at two different Honda dealerships, both owned by Fortune 500 companies in, what I believe is, the densest single market for Hondas in the US (Metro DC). There's a couple things missing from the situation as described by the author.

First, dealerships don't really make that much of a profit on new car sales. At least not Honda dealers. Used cars averaged around $1000 profit, but new cars were around $200. Yes, they really do lose money on some sales. That's not to say that there weren't expenses that were being covered in the price that are exclusive to the dealership, such as the salesperson's commission, but the total profit going to the dealership per new car was low. One of the older, wiser managers, who had come from Toyota told me, "A properly-run dealership pays for everything on Parts & Service. Car sales is just the profit." There are a lot of lean years in car sales. I can attest that no one in management was panicking when gas prices hit $4/gallon and we couldn't give a car away (car managers don't hold back their emotions). Sales stopped, but people kept getting expensive oil changes.

Second, at least within Honda's North American division, you cannot just buy inventory. A dealership inventory is controlled in such a way that area dealerships are forced to compete heavily with each other. In order to sell a car, you have to have a car on your lot. In order to have a car on your lot, you have to order it from Honda. The number of cars you can order from Honda is restricted to a percentage of the number of cars you sold last year, something around 106-110%. You can't just take a big loan and buy yourself volume. To a dealer, inventory is life and must be protected. As a salesperson, I would lose so many deals to other Honda dealers who would lie through their teeth over the phone to sell. Dealers will cut their own throats to steal a sale from another dealer because each one is a net +2 in the inventory war. In theory, this is great for customers on cost, but terrible for customers on experience.

The owner of the first dealer I worked for had just sold the dealership to a Fortune 500 company. He spent years and years basically giving cars away until he had the largest inventory on the entire East Coast (a big deal for Honda) and then had something very valuable, something that couldn't be bought. Somewhat like how Amazon, in theory, operates.

3
joosters 4 hours ago 12 replies      
"Dont ever take a fence down until you know the reason why it was put up"

You can't write a balanced article on car dealerships without researching why these laws were enacted in the first place. So many people here just assume "oh, it's because of greed" - but perhaps you should spend a short time first of all investigating why these laws were created and the problems they were trying to solve.

Likewise, you can't write a convincing article about removing these laws if you don't speak of the reasons why the laws were created. You need to show why these reasons are no longer good.

4
suneilp 6 hours ago 3 replies      
"the price of the cars that are sold needs to be high enough to cover the costs of building and storing the unsold ones."

We shouldn't be having this problem anymore. It's a massive detriment to the economies of scale model. Most people don't need to buy a car overnight, which ironically is because they are so expensive.

Keeping a small amount of cars for test driving and personal inspection is all that is needed. Then all that needs to be done is to batch up requests for production and shipping. Charge more 2 day shipping. Maybe Amazon can get into selling cars and same day deliveries for free with Amazon Prime.

5
devit 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Maybe the dealerships and in general physical shops should evolve into paid-for showrooms?

That is, you pay, say, $50, and you get to try a bunch of cars or in general products that they have on loan from various manufacturers and get some guidance from the staff if needed.

Then once you figure out what you want, you buy it online and get it shipped to you.

Then there is no need to "protect" those shops, since the customer is paying precisely for the only value they add, which is the ability to try out things and ask for advice, and in fact the value of the advice would increase since there would be no conflict of interest.

6
6stringmerc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
From time to time, I think the concept of car dealers has a lot in common with the RIAA model of the music industry.

The RIAA has a vested interest in keeping "direct to consumer" models sidelined, or, once enough critical mass is achieved, to bring that artist/group into the fold. In reality, the RIAA system spends a lot of money on behalf of artists/groups, in a similar notion that car dealerships are at the forefront for manufacturers and brand stability. Sometimes dealerships go bust, sometimes labels go bust...sometimes dealerships do so well they become multi-million dollar enterprises (Don Huffines in Texas...now State Senator Don Huffines), and same goes for record labels (Big Machine).

Both the dealership association and the RIAA push very hard in lobbying for their own ends. As can be seen in the music industry, fans nor artists haven't exactly jumped ship away from the RIAA system. There may be some similarities in the dealership scenario, but time will tell.

7
Tloewald 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The situation with car dealerships is a quagmire. I'd suggest a broader, simpler, and probably more politically viable solution would be a law requiring truth in advertised prices:

If you advertise something as $X then that is the maximum total amount you pay (tax-inclusive, all fees, etc.) Almost every other developed country does this (except for hotel stays and some large ticket items, like houses and -- ironically -- cars, but we can do better, right?)

Now, I can imagine a sudden wave of protest -- but wait, what about state-wide or nation-wide advertising campaigns -- this happy meal for only $2.99? Sales tax varies from county to county, and then there are crazy exemptions, tax holidays, etc.

EXACTLY. If you believe in markets then you should, at minimum, believe in price transparency. (Free markets assume perfect information -- how perfect can your information be if you can't even figure out the true price?) If this puts pressure on states and counties to simplify their tax rates (under pressure from businesses) then GOOD.

If the prices that get advertised have to be real prices you get a huge improvement in market behavior -- from real estate to healthcare to cars to food -- immediately. And it will effectively demolish most of the issues with car dealers since they'll need to quote actual prices.

8
31reasons 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
Kill the laws that unfairly protects X business.
9
kristianrjs 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this article.I've only spent a year working in the automotive industry between detail/lot attending, not even any sales. I've noticed some real big problems with the way dealers do business. It needs a serious overhaul. I've been working very part time on some of my ideas to reshape the industry. It definitely needs some shaking up.
10
Shivetya 6 hours ago 6 replies      
How do you plan to buy out all the existing investment these dealerships have? You certainly cannot legislate away their property without compensation. What about the jobs? That is no small number. With those go all the local taxes, benefits, and such as well.

Dealer direct, sounds good. Until you find out that car you really want has a demonstration center that is too far away, in a place you don't want to go. Until you find out repairs are done at an authorized shop that handles so many brands they cannot get it right. Until you have serious problems with your car and that manufacturer is so far away they can ignore you for a good amount of time... and so on.

While not everyone has a good experience at a dealer I have never had a bad one and considering the number of vehicles I have gone through, well. Dealers aren't there just to sell cars. They they maintain them, they work to keep you happy so you come back. This means they act as go between consumer and manufacturer and can often push the manufacturer to fix things they might just overlook.

Tesla is fine as it is now simply because they don't sell enough cars to matter, let alone to the majority of people their cars are not affordable and the customers who do buy have the time to go anywhere they need to to buy a car or even have someone go get it. When, and it is a very big when, Tesla has any real volume let us watch how they handle problems

11
donkeyd 3 hours ago 2 replies      
In the Netherlands, you go to the dealer and order a car. The car gets built to order, unless it's in inventory at a nearby dealer. The way it works in the US sounds needlessly complicated to me.
12
xacaxulu 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This is the reason I like TrueCar. It's not a total solution, but it definitely starts down the road of leveling the playing field.
13
bgribble 6 hours ago 7 replies      
Yep, buying a car sucks. But this is one of the largest supply-chain operations in the world. The dealer franchise system and its legal framework have evolved over 100 years and are balanced pretty delicately. It can't just be refactored by waving a regulatory wand at it and hoping for the best. Cars will still have to be warehoused, delivered, serviced, and resold. Somebody has to buy your old junky trade-in. Somebody has to run the showroom, if you want to actually like see the car before you buy it. So we're going to do a regulatory taking of the franchise, worth millions of dollars per dealership, and then have the manufacturer open a showroom and warehousing lot and service center in every town and city that has a dealership? Or just open a direct sales channel to compete with dealers, but make the existing dealers perform service and deliver inventory? And take your trade-in?

Manufacturers hate dealers. It's mutual. The only reason consumers don't hate the manufacturers so much is that they have never had to deal with them directly. Dealer protection laws are there because manufacturers have a long history of trying to steal from dealers, cheat them, and put them out of business at whim. Those are the manufacturers that consumers are asking to deal with directly. I'm sure they'll treat consumers better than they treat their business partners!

14
OliverJones 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Steve Rattner's book about the auto industry bankruptcies and restructuring in 2009 (http://www.worldcat.org/title/overhaul-an-insiders-account-o...) makes one thing clear: a major win for the US manufacturers from their bankruptcies was getting out from under the onerous terms of some long-term contracts with dealers. Also, the last holdouts to getting the deal done were certain politically connected dealers.
15
mtanski 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll post the same thing I posted in the Bob Lutz on the Tesla thread with some amendments. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10457754

According to Bob Lutz having car dealerships is a pro. LOL, I am yet to talk to anybody who actually enjoyed the car dealership experience weather it's buying or servicing the car.The whole car dealer enterprise is a rent seeking business. In many states you cannot have the manufacture sell the cars directly. That's changing slowly -- thanks to Tesla -- the dealer lobby is a big contributor in many local and state wide elections. The pricing for the automobile / features is not clear to begin with. It's to the point that there's many competing business that try to give you true car pricing. And, every step of the way the dealership tries to extract another fee / charge for you via various tactics like destination fees, myriad of financing fees, unneeded insurance (tire insurance, ones that overlap with the manufactures warranty).

Personally, I would love if the dealership model died. The alternative being ordering a car online and having it show up at home at a scheduled time. I imagine the same experience can be replicated the other way when the car needs servicing, schedule it online and have it picked up / drop it off and a point of aggregation of the car maker where they handle volume.

And before you tell me about the test drive and getting a feel for the car. Meh. Your fooling yourself if you think that a 15 minute test ride will tell you much about the cars performance, comfort or even layout. You will only learn that the seats are uncomfortable on a 3 hour trip once you take that 3 hour trip. If a test drive is really important to you, you should really rent the car for a couple days.

One could also make the argument that dealerships should go away based on their general discriminatory tendencies. Here's a recentish paper quantifying it: http://islandia.law.yale.edu/ayres/Ayres%20Siegelman%20Race%... . The quantify how much more dealerships by different gender / race. The recent book named Phishing for Phools dedicates some time to this topic as well.

16
jasonkester 6 hours ago 4 replies      
This seems like an opportunity for an Uber/AirBnB move.

Find a jurisdiction anywhere in the USA where direct manufacturer sales are legal. Negotiate with the manufacturers to handle direct-to-consumer sales for them. Write your "app" so that customers can build their car online and have the order go straight to the factory. Charge the customer a "delivery fee" to get their heavily discounted car to them, from which you make your profits.

Seems like a lot of work, and a lot of fighting with a lot of bureaucracy, but that's what all these "disrupt the industry" startups like to spend their billions doing. I'm surprised that nobody is doing it today.

17
mgalka 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or did this problem fly completely under the radar during the govt bailout?
18
adventured 6 hours ago 3 replies      
A long time ago I saw an ad on the back of a magazine, paying tribute to Dell's direct model. It was a Johnnie Walker ad, with a bar napkin. On the napkin was written Dell's business plan; it had "make computer, sell computer" basically crossed out, replaced with "sell computer, make computer."

Make the car -> sell the car

Sell the car -> make the car

This switch should have happened a long time ago. The near total elimination of the vast inventory system. It would make most automakers dramatically more profitable.

Dealerships should be replaced by small automaker-owned sales venues, stocked with one of each model for test driving purposes. Customers order their car, with some limited customizations. They come back in a week and pick up their car, and save 20% off current prices. The automaker never builds a car that hasn't already been sold.

19
alaskamiller 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why Apple will take over the car industry.

Integrate the best supply chain management, best logistics, best customization processes, best personalization processes, best servicing processes, best retail sales force, best legal compliance/adherence processes.

Then look at how to make a giant iPod on wheels then deploy.

20
ywy9876 3 hours ago 0 replies      
r
21
ywy9876 3 hours ago 0 replies      
MOLT BE
22
nevinera 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I was nodding along until that last part, where it indicated that our best answer was to have the federal government extort states into behaving as they ought.
Internet Radio Copyright Is Dumb: A Comprehensive Explainer vice.com
9 points by Amorymeltzer  2 hours ago   1 comment top
1
njharman 1 minute ago 0 replies      
> The next time you have a fleeting thought about how internet radio sucks, and could be betterwell, now you know whats to blame. Its copyright.

Can be broadened to "why does <insert aspect of creative culture> suck, blame copyright.

VW slumps to first quarterly loss in at least 15 years reuters.com
36 points by happyscrappy  2 hours ago   47 comments top 9
1
Someone1234 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I don't buy the implication that this didn't go up extremely high in VW. I'm sure they'll find some low level drone(s) to take the fall like normal, but generally speaking if they were engineering and building cars which they KNEW couldn't pass emmissions it had to have been a concerted effort to cheat the system inter-departmentally, which means coordination, which means senior management involvement.
2
_yy 45 minutes ago 3 replies      
General Motors - which knew about their broken ignition switches for over a decade - got away with a 900$m fine. That defect killed at least 124 people.
3
tajen 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
The article mentions 6.7bn set aside, but their trimestrial loss is $3.48bn only. IANA-financial-analyst, but they're still profitable after scandal. Here are a few points of comparison:

- Revenue 2013: 197 billion (over 1 year)

- Profit 2013: 6.4 billion (over 1 year)

So the scandal cost them 1 year of profits, 3% of their revenue.

4
philfrasty 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They feed roughly 600.000 people worldwide (without suppliers) and have been around for more than 70 years. Just saying.
5
mc32 45 minutes ago 3 replies      
I'm surprised that in the US their sales didn't take nosedive, I take that to indicate their customer base has a very enthusiastic and fundamental core... Which is good for them. If this does not shake their confidence, then nothing will, and if this is the case worldwide, VW will survive this scandal largely unscathed, relative to the size of this scandal. For a while it seemed like their viability was very much in question, now it seems beside some large write downs and some lean years, they will survive.
6
lectrick 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well, that's what happens when your software lies.

At least EFF had a small win here https://supporters.eff.org/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=1... despite losing the fight against idiotic CISA.

7
superuser2 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ford did the same thing in 1997. Companies seem to recover.
8
softyeti 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
I wonder if we are going to discover similar emissions skirting in over manufacturer's vehicles soon.
9
marvel_boy 1 hour ago 3 replies      
VW cars exceed legal emissions 40 times. There is a reason for no preventing to use this cars?
Show HN: AppApp.io A better search for the iOS App Store appapp.io
7 points by dansingerman  1 hour ago   10 comments top 5
1
s_dev 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hey OP, some feedback:

Both our apps appear as top results when "LoyLap" is typed into App Store search. In your results only our merchant app appears when queried with "LoyLap".

2
codeshaman 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great job!

Do you plan on making it a real app for iOS ? Will Apple allow it on AppStore ?

3
egze 6 minutes ago 1 reply      
Live search pollutes the browser history with each letter typed. Otherwise - well done!
4
cjstewart88 17 minutes ago 2 replies      
The back buttons broken :[
5
dansingerman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As to why the world might need another search for the App Store, I have written this blog: http://blog.appapp.io/post/131747237960/the-raison-detre-of-...
ZX Spectrum Emulator Written in Small Basic msdn.com
10 points by ingve  1 hour ago   3 comments top
1
acqq 48 minutes ago 1 reply      
Am I missing something? If I understand, it doesn't emulate the Z80 processor? And it depends on some "extension" ( http://litdev.co.uk/ ) not just "Small Basic." And I can't find the link to the source to get the idea how the code looks like.

And for my taste Small Basic appears ugly for a beginner's language, the "Hello World" is:

 TextWindow.WriteLine("Hello World")
Compare that to

 PRINT "Hello World"
from the old times. I consider the later much much nicer.

Moon Parka: Outerwear Made from Synthetic Spider Silk spoon-tamago.com
23 points by ph0rque  3 hours ago   12 comments top 6
1
toufka 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Another company, Bolt Threads [1] just raised significant money to produce spider silk as well. Started by a few molecular biologists, they too took it from a protein sequence, into yeast, purified the protein in bulk, spun into thread, then wove into a fabric. Which means, theoretically they can tweak the protein sequence to produce an entirely new fabric in a matter of a few weeks. Also, once you get a woven protein scaffold into a fabric, systematically modifying the scaffold further is relatively easy for a protein compared with the sugars and polymers we use currently.

[1] https://boltthreads.com/

2
yathern 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wow, just recently I was looking up all about spider silk, thinking we weren't utilizing it to its full potential - whether medical, military or even fashion. Very excited about this, though it will probably be extremely expensive.
3
dimlyaware 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Interesting, confused as to why weather wear is where it ended up? It doesn't seem to talk much about insulation or any of the keep warm themes just general strength.
4
HCIdivision17 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I remember seeing a video as a kid of a spider silk blanket flattening a bullet shot at it. Is this parka as puncture resistant?
5
mcphage 1 hour ago 2 replies      
How much will it cost? I didn't see a price, but I know it will be high...
6
coldcode 44 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm assuming it's not sticky, otherwise you'd be covered in flies as you walked around.
The Plain Writing Act of 2010 [pdf] gpo.gov
5 points by fsethi  1 hour ago   discuss
Modern art was CIA 'weapon' (1995) independent.co.uk
109 points by prawn  9 hours ago   41 comments top 18
1
Iv 3 hours ago 4 replies      
"Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete."

In other words, the US acted like a good government and helped the arts flourish, because it had a competition. It sounds like a joke, but in Us if you want to fund anything, you have to describe it as a weapon.

Write that open source software is a weapon against Chinese industry and you'll get CIA funding. Heh, after all Tor got funds from the Navy...

2
compbio 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ok, that's solved. Now let's speculate on the current cultural weapons, that the Russians can't keep up with, but that the Americans use to keep cultural dominance:

- The entire entertainment industry.

- The LGBT-movement / Pussy Riot.

- Social networks, the internet, email providers and search engines.

- Quantum computing and advanced NLP.

Clearly they wanted to keep "the (perpetual) fight against terrorism" on this list, but Russia did not listen.

3
andyl 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Art as CIA weapon - sure. Cultural marxism as leftist weapon - still paying dividends.
4
hackuser 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
What are government intelligence agencies backing or opposing today?
5
stratigos 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The average American is likely to be completely clueless as to the cultural influence of the CIA and other government agencies on their daily lives. And this is just commentary on the things the agency has publicly admitted to.
6
laotzu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
>Jacques Ellul observes in Propaganda: When dialogue begins, propaganda ends. His theme, that propaganda is not this or that ideology but rather the action and coexistence of all media at once, explains why propaganda is environmental and invisible. The total life of any culture tends to be "propaganda", for this reason. It blankets perception and suppresses awareness, making the counter environments created by the artist indispensable to survival and freedom.

-Marshall McLuhan

7
Ygg2 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Another possibility - CIA just sponsors random stuff to promote confusion in enemy ranks. Then claims it was for Cold War purposes.

Adam Curtis spoke about Russian government vocally backing various organizations, some hostile and some friendly to it. That way people are never sure who to trust, because even opposition is funded by gov. One difference is that Russians broadcast who they sponsor, given their target is the public.

Makes me wonder if CIA let slip it was using art as weapon to Russians, then watch them panic.

8
mirimir 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Also see this review of Saunders' The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters (2000).

https://www.nytimes.com/books/00/04/23/reviews/000423.23joff...

9
agumonkey 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What a weird bunch of decades. This neurotic competition against each's own paranoia feels a bit absurd and sour. And I just finished watching a few NASA movies again (The Right Stuff, Apollo 13, ...) .. similar reasons.
10
mladenkovacevic 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
I guess even Michelangelo had the Medicis, but I wonder if something like this will influence the auction prices for various modern art.

Does a painting like this http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/h2/h2_57.92.jpg lose or gain new value in the context of being an unwitting participant in a sophisticated exercise of distraction?

Does the artist's original intention behind his or her art take a second place to the newly revealed absurdist quality?

11
cousin_it 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ironically, the same kind of art was super popular in revolutionary Russia, e.g. Malevich's "Black Square".
12
TACIXAT 3 hours ago 0 replies      
They also funded socialist literary magazines.

http://www.theawl.com/2015/08/literary-magazines-for-sociali...

13
dschiptsov 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Not sure about modern art, but Travolta shooting heroin in Pulp Fiction killed thousands of Slavic youngsters..
14
Mimick 2 hours ago 0 replies      
As a neutral I see that Russia won the cold war by spending only on useful things...
15
NN88 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is my favorite cold war story
16
littletimmy 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Well, then. Good to know America's intelligence agencies are doing the important stuff. Yes, promoting dribbling on paper.
17
fiatjaf 3 hours ago 2 replies      
The art that nobody wanted and that everybody, at the time, correctly judged as crap and garbage, was, then, forced upon people by the government.
18
mladenkovacevic 30 minutes ago 1 reply      
This statement from the article strikes me as a bit of a stretch:

Would Abstract Expressionism have been the dominant art movement of the post-war years without this patronage? The answer is probably yes. Equally, it would be wrong to suggest that when you look at an Abstract Expressionist painting you are being duped by the CIA.

Perhaps not duped. But, how many other types of art were stifled by having a secret fund devoted to creating, promoting and praising one type of art.

Which raises the question of why the CIA chose abstract expressionism as the vehicle of choice for its propaganda. Perhaps because it is hard to be subversive with a work of art that every observer will interpret differently. Or perhaps because unlike other art that has some common ground for discourse between two observers, abstract art is like watching clouds pass by. "I see a baby!" one watcher will say. "I see a puppy!" another watcher will say. And that's where the conversation ends. It's the ultimate expression of individualism, but also the ultimate killer of dialogue.

Agate: A Data Analysis Library for Journalists opennews.org
42 points by benderbending  4 hours ago   5 comments top 2
1
minimaxir 1 hour ago 2 replies      
It's worth noting that for journalists, analyzing data is only half the battle.

Sites like FiveThirtyEight and The Economist usually have separate graphics departments who use nonstatistical tools like Illustrator to annotate and apply custom theming. Good visualization is an huge part of a persuasive argument, and so being able to do both is important (and languages like R have good native plotting as well)

Additionally, looking at the agate code Jupyter notebook, it appears that the processing syntax is very, very similar to pandas (despite the warning against it) aside from the print_bars method, so I'm confused about the specific utility of the module.

From the post comments, after someone else noted the similarities too:

> You're right, most of my problems with pandas are not in its interfaces. My problems there are with the overhead of the numpy dependency, its confusing handling of text, nulls, etc. (inherited from numpy) and its documentation aimed at advanced users rather than beginners.

2
cmiles74 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Where I work, we do a lot of projects where we are replacing some aging and wacky system (i.e., FileMaker Pro, Access, old and ignored SQL Server 7, etc.) Our project managers might find this tool helpful, doing the data analysis in the wacky system is pretty specialized. Dumping that data to CSV and looking at it through a tool like this seems like it'd be a big time saver.
Souper A Superoptimizer for LLVM IR github.com
64 points by albertzeyer  7 hours ago   19 comments top 7
1
regehr 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm one of the Souper developers and can offer a few pointers that may be more helpful than the github repo. Here's a somewhat recent blog post showing things that Souper can do:

 http://blog.regehr.org/archives/1252
Here's a talk I gave at the University of Washington last winter (before Souper did synthesis):

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux0YnVEaI6A
Recently we've been teaching Souper to use dataflow facts such as LLVM's known bits and demanded bits. Perhaps interestingly, Souper can also teach LLVM how to compute these facts more precisely:

 http://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/llvm-dev/2015-September/089904.html
One really common question about Souper is "why operate on LLVM IR instead of instructions?" One of the main answers is "so that we can interact with dataflow analyses." This isn't something that previous superoptimizers have done. It seems to be working out really well.

2
bhouston 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It uses a redis cache? I wonder if future version could use a global cache somewhere on the internet, and use cloud solvers. Seems like you need a redis cache per version, but that shouldn't be hard to do -- or just add a version key to each cache request.

Seems weird to have this type of tool as a local tool rather than a cloud based tool.

It would be neat to have a service you can query with a snippet of IR, and it gives you back an optimal version of it. One can continually increase the side of these snippets as you get more cloud resources.

Having statistics on which patterns are common, even if they are not optimized would be really interesting. You could then use these statistics to target future optimization research.

3
mbrock 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe a tall order, but if someone has it in them to provide a clear and simple explanation of SMT/SAT at the level of an intrigued layman, that'd be amazing. I've looked at the Wikipedia pages a few times and always just feel kinda overwhelmed. I'm probably missing the education in formal logic/math to understand why these are fruitful models, but they obviously are. Is this a kind of forefront of artificial reasoning research? What are some examples of problems they can help solve, and approximately what would be involved in modelling those problems within the formalization?
4
unfamiliar 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I found some slides with background information

http://llvm.org/devmtg/2011-11/Sands_Super-optimizingLLVMIR....

5
bhouston 3 hours ago 1 reply      
How good is super optimization? Is this available in current compilers in some form?
6
inDigiNeous 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Any examples of usage ?
7
ingenter 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if it's possible to do a similar thing for codegen. i.e. generate more efficient code based on SMT solver and CPU model.
The Ace of Coders programming tournament champions codecombat.com
4 points by nwinter  1 hour ago   discuss
My Google Search History Visualized lisacharlotterost.github.io
17 points by sebg  3 hours ago   4 comments top 3
1
alanwill 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
I actually disagree that this data is irrelevant, in fact if you study the data it tells a story about your search habits that may not be all that obvious even if it's your own. When do you typically search the most, what topics do you search the most/least, where do you search from etc etc.
2
ThePhysicist 48 minutes ago 1 reply      
Lisa is organizing a data viz meetup in Berlin and has a ton of interesting visualizations on her website as well, make sure to check those out.
3
cauk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
She wont be fooling anyone with her porn searches for her "thesis"

http://lisacharlotterost.github.io/pic/150620_GoogleSearch_8...

Phonotactic Reconstruction of Encrypted VoIP Conversations: Hookt on Fon-Iks [pdf] unc.edu
17 points by e12e  4 hours ago   discuss
How we became the heaviest drinkers in a century mosaicscience.com
74 points by tomkwok  10 hours ago   41 comments top 8
1
abstractbeliefs 2 hours ago 7 replies      
Being in wave below the author (currently in my 3rd year of University), I think there's also something to be said for how we treat alcohol around our children.In the UK we have a strange duality with underage drinking - in part we accept it as unstoppable, but at the same time it has a very strong stigma from society, at least here in Scotland.

By the time you hit 18, suddenly the reins are off, and what was once forbidden and done in stolen hours becomes acceptable, and without fail, uni freshers and those in college go off the rails, often developing habits that last the better part of a decade.

My current partner is Spanish, and talks of a culture that has never made drinking a forbidden fruit, stories of drinking at home with family, in moderation, abound.She, and her peers, simply don't have the "you're an adult now, DOWN IT FRESHER" attitude my Scottish peers do.

2
bbcbasic 5 hours ago 2 replies      
As a Brit of similar age, who went to uni I can totally relate to everything and it was a very enjoyable read and a trip down memory lane.

It is very interesting to see how the drinking culture has been shaped and how that we are sheep by partaking. Well in a way we are sheep and wolves.

Because there is something in drinking culture in the UK that is about 'egging on' other people to drink more, so if someone who is known to drink decides to take it easy (like just drink a bit slowly) then they are often cajoled into drinking more.

In addition there is the social pressure of buying rounds, so the next drink is always coming and many pints of beer all on the table at once. And you have to buy your round or you are a cheapskate - even if you didn't drink as much on the other rounds!

Then in the workplace there is the bonding and social cohesion you miss out on if you abstain at work lunchtimes or functions. Drinking increases your chance of greasing the wheels of promotion and advancement. I've worked places where people would get drunk at lunchtime. And not always on a Friday!

I'm glad it is at the peak and now declining. Probably a good thing.

Living in Australia now. Drinking culture is definitely less but it is certainly there. I think the fitness and coffee culture trumps it.

3
jrpt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't know much about the correlations the article mentions (for example, are raves really a good reason why pub attendance fell?) however, I think that a discussion of alcohol is incomplete if it doesn't mention addiction anywhere nor mention the fact that the majority of alcohol sales come from the top drinkers: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/09/25/th...

So it's probably not the generation as a whole that has an abnormal relationship, but a small minority of the generation.

4
w__m 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
"I wouldnt say any of my close friends are alcoholic"tut-tut, a single alcohol palimpsest (loss of consciousness / memory without falling asleep) indicates "warning" phase of alcoholism. Yes, it does not necesarily mean You will become a chronic alcoholic, but it means "controll was lost" and You are on your way there.
5
ZenoArrow 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I can also relate to this article, it's a fairly accurate assessment of social/drinking culture in the UK at the time.

Couple of points...

"Alcohol makes many of us unpleasant: verbally abusive, angry, destructive."

That's a bit of a stretch. Yes you do get the 'angry drunk' phenomenon, but the number of drunken fights I've seen has been relatively small. I think this is different from place to place, there are cities where I know this is a bigger issue, but in general people tend to be more friendly when they're drunk.

"This generational difference isnt just anecdotal. Young people are drinking less frequently, and more of them are teetotal. We dont know why: it could be financial hardship, an increase in the proportion that dont drink for religious reasons, or increased time spent online."

If I had to guess, I'd say it was the rise of importance in gym culture.

6
guelo 53 minutes ago 1 reply      
The title should say UK millenials. I'm not part of that "we".
7
ZeroGravitas 3 hours ago 1 reply      
As someone of roughly the same age, now with kids, I'm glad that the younger generation seems a bit more sensible. Possibly a case of extra disposable income and social attitudes needing some time to catch up to the realities of it.
8
peterwwillis 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Almost nobody I know under 30 has any idea why one would sip whisky. According to them, whisky (and alcohol in general) is nasty stuff, and you drink it to get drunk. To which I always reply: why wouldn't every strong drink consist of vodka, then?

As an alternative, cocktails had a small resurgence in the 90s that continues today. But most bars make their cocktails with different proportions and different ingredients. So not only could the number of possible cocktails reach infinity, but the number of possible locations to find a 'well made' cocktail increases. If you want a good (or new) cocktail you're always on a search for that new special drink.

It used to be that drinking the cheapest beer you could find in as high a quantity as you could find made for a fun night out [for young folk]. But new drinking establishments are tailor made to provide you a new product which costs more money, with the promise of a more sophisticated (or at least variable) flavor palette; the availability of flavored spirits in every bar and club shows how hard the industry works to try and gain new customers.

All of this comes at the same time that wine is probably as cheap as it has been in centuries. The increase in new markets such as China, Brazil and India have created a giant global marketplace for wine, which New World growers such as Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States have happily provided for. We're awash in wine that is not just cheap, but tasty, too, growing the market even more.

We have more products than ever, more choice than ever, more customers than ever, more availability than ever, and a lower price than ever before. And they wonder why we drink more?

Nuts and bolts: our routing algorithm captaintrain.com
15 points by Signez  2 hours ago   1 comment top
1
boultonmark 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can someone from Captain Train explain where they have gotten the European Rail Timetable Data from? Because there is a huge issue in Europe over that data not being Open Data. The rail governing body the UIC collects each member train company's timetables and merges/cleans them into a dataset called Merits. If you ask the UIC as many Open Data campaigners and interested companies for that dataset they say "Only the Operators can have it". That dataset then goes to the company that supplies most of the European train companies journey planning Hacon (via a dept of Deutsche Bahn first). Hacon also won't license you the data. They too say 'it's the train operators'. And Deutsche Bahn will only license you the Hacon API (i.e not the raw data). Train Captain where are you getting this data from? Because you must be the only independent non-train operator in Europe to have it. And according to the rules I've encountered you shouldn't.
The Offshore Game of Online Sports Betting nytimes.com
18 points by nols  4 hours ago   15 comments top 5
1
coldcode 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I still see no difference between Pinnacle and FanDuel, etc. It's still bookmaking in the end. It does show you that making something illegal does not make it go away, the business routes around the law. Some people apparently want to waste money on gambling just like some people want to take drugs or visit hookers. In the end is it worth making things illegal knowing it won't make any difference?
2
joosters 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The 'skill vs chance' test for illegality makes no sense to me. With all sports, there's luck involved as well as skill. So by betting on them, you are at the mercy of luck too. Even a game of chess might involve luck - a player might have a terrible headache, or get distracted at a key point in the game.

Surely the test, if it is to be used at all, should outlaw games where there is no skill involved at all (e.g. roulette, lotteries)

3
6stringmerc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This might be a semantics approach - okay, it purely is a semantics approach - but if I can use "skill" to pick a football player in the "daily fantasy sports" realm and put real money up on the selection I get the framing. However, if that player can get busted for DUI or domestic violence or assault and battery which might keep them from playing in the game, I consider that a game of luck. You know, there's a chance they don't ever take the field. And, personally, I don't have the means to bail them out. So, yeah, just my take.
4
Symbiote 2 hours ago 2 replies      
William Hill runs betting shops in many towns in the UK. Sports betting is promoted on the home page: http://sports.williamhill.com/

There's an American site: http://www.williamhill.us/ though it seems they've just licensed the name.

How does the latter exist if online sports betting is illegal in the US?

5
gadders 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Just legalise it already. Jeez....
9.5 Low Latency Decision as a Service Design Patterns forter.com
37 points by itaifrenkel  5 hours ago   5 comments top
1
itaifrenkel 5 hours ago 2 replies      
OP here. If you have any questions I'll be happy to address them.
How Old Is Your Globe? replogleglobes.com
43 points by Tomte  6 hours ago   13 comments top 10
1
madaxe_again 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, mine has Abyssinia on it, in a nice shade of pink, and a large chunks of inland Africa are just this big old white expanse with some pictures of funky looking lions. Antarctica is made of brass as there's nothing important down there.

It's 1860something, when the last bits of terra incognita were being mopped up. Like to be reminded that only recently there was still wonder and mystery in the world.

2
creshal 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> You will need the Flash plug-in to view [the products page].

How Old Is Your Website? :-)

(And the list is missing South Sudan, which gained independence 4 years ago)

3
dang 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
4
TorKlingberg 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's rather sparse since 2000. For example South Sudan in 2011 is missing in the list.
5
mcguire 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
Isn't Burma Myanmar these days?
6
underwater 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Ceylon caught my eye. It's the former name of Sri Lanka as well as being the name of a cross-platform language that's currently on the homepage.
7
dogma1138 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I got some island in the middle of the med that's called Atlantis on mine can you help me date this globe?
8
briodf 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Brilliant!

>Related: 13 people trying to figure out how old a globe is on Quora https://www.quora.com/How-old-can-this-globe-be

9
VLM 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Some areas are fractally similar on a smaller scale, or even more active than the world on average, think of the Spratly Islands, or the Balkan peninsula.
10
maw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My globe's so old it's flat.
How we built the Tour of Gale Crater journalism and virtual reality latimes.com
5 points by sebg  2 hours ago   discuss
       cached 28 October 2015 16:02:02 GMT