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openage free age of empires 2 engine clone openage.sft.mx
125 points by thejj   ago   17 comments top 7
mdf 1 hour ago 3 replies      
It's amazing to see so many community powered open source projects dedicated to keeping old games alive (while also preserving the same look & feel these games had back in '90s).

Along with the OpenMW[1], OpenRA[2], OpenTTD[3] and OpenRCT2[4] listed on openage's GitHub page, lots of others exist. To name a few:

* OpenXcom[5] for X-COM: Enemy Unknown and the later Terror From the Deep games.

* Nuvie[6], Exult[7] and Pentagram[8] for Ultima VI-VIII respectively.

* GZDoom[9] (and various others) for running Doom, Doom II etc.

* Freeciv[10] for running Civilization.

[1] https://openmw.org/

[2] http://openra.net/

[3] http://openttd.org/

[4] http://openrct.net/

[5] http://openxcom.org/

[6] http://nuvie.sourceforge.net/

[7] http://exult.sourceforge.net/

[8] http://pentagram.sourceforge.net/

[9] http://forum.drdteam.org/viewforum.php?f=23

[10] http://www.freeciv.org/

sparky_ 8 minutes ago 1 reply      
So I'm a big fan of OpenTTD which is a similar premise - but I can't help but feel like the timing is going to hurt them here. OpenTTD, OpenRCT, et al, solve a problem that the original game is a subpar (or unplayable) experience on modern hardware; however Microsoft has just rerelease an HD version of AOE2 on Steam not even a year ago. So my fear is that it's directly competing with a equivalent proprietary executable with a lot of marketing dollars behind it.
silveira 1 hour ago 1 reply      
0ad started as a AOE mod then they started their own engine and assets. I've been playing a lot of 0ad lately, I recommend it.
k8tte 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Cool project!

But i'm confused. On http://openage.sft.mx/ they say this is a reimplementation in C++14, but seems to be actually implemented in Python [1] ?

1: https://github.com/SFTtech/openage/tree/master/openage

skrowl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
OpenAge has only seen one release in 2015, but looks to have quite a few contributors. Also, there are no Windows builds.

Cool looking project though.

KuhlMensch 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why does the screenshot have one tile have Gabe Newell in it? is it a dig at an ex-microsoftian or something?
JupiterMoon 2 hours ago 1 reply      
How legal is this? Just wondering.
DHCPwn: A DHCP exhaustion tool github.com
25 points by svenfaw   ago   7 comments top 6
exabrial 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is a real threat in today's BYOD world, fortunately it can be easily defeated on the most basic of network switches. Cisco SG300s (fairly common distribution switches) have classic port locking and would be the simplest solution. 802.1x would be significantly more complicated, but provides other benefits. Something like PacketFence would be the ultimate solution.

Remember, not all of your enemies are outside your firewall!

roozbeh18 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
DHCP Consumption Attack is nothing new and prevented on enterprise level switches and routers using DHCP Snooping and Dynamic ARP Inspection (DAI). anyone interested in reading upon this sort of attack, cisco has a good white paper on it here. http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/switches/ca...
AndyMcConachie 26 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is nothing new, and won't work in any properly configured environment using DHCP Snooping.

It's also a bit dubious to claim that DHCP is connectionless. It takes 4 packets to complete a DHCP request. While maybe not connection oriented, it's definitely at least a handshake.

I've written numerous packet generators to test DHCP servers, and DHCP Snooping implementations. This is really nothing new.

florianfunke 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looks like it's a very thin wrapper around scapy: http://www.secdev.org/projects/scapy/
accessleech2848 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
PoCs like this are cool. This is a valid and potentially catastrophic attack against network segments. One should study and consider countermeasures against such attacks on your turf. Python and Scapy are super cool and if you haven't had a play it's well worth your time.
ck2 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
I assume most guest wifi has some protection against this, if not, well shame on them.
Why So Many Artists Are Highly Sensitive People huffingtonpost.com
69 points by pmcpinto   ago   41 comments top 15
zschuessler 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
If any such artists (engineers included) fit the bill and yearn for confidence, I highly recommend reading "Thanks for the Feedback." It's a book by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen of the Harvard Negotiation Project. You may already know the pair from "Difficult Conversations," which I also recommend.

Prepare to read it one chapter every few days. It's a heavy read. Amazingly well written, it's an abundance of information: you'll need to take time to reflect (and potentially do some brain rewiring like me).

Amazon links:

Thanks for the Feedback - http://www.amazon.com/Thanks-Feedback-Science-Receiving-Well...

Difficult Conversations - http://www.amazon.com/Difficult-Conversations-Discuss-What-M...

_yosefk 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Answering a personality questionnaire is always a great opportunity for me to appreciate my talents. Take the question "Do you have a rich, complex inner life?" Well, I certainly do, and thanks for reminding me to dwell on this fact.
fitzwatermellow 2 hours ago 3 replies      
A more interesting line of inquiry is why so many of those blessed with the highest instincts for creativity have so little empathy towards those around them. As if they are so in thrall with their own genius they have little capacity for the smallest kindnesses. Or are so focused on manifesting the perfect visions contained in their minds, any quotidian concerns seem far beneath them and an utter waste of time. Consider Tolstoy and his wife Sofya, or Picasso and his muses. Einstein even referred to a "glass pane" separating himself from the norms of society.
dpflan 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
According to this article, a creative person experiences heightened sensitivity to stimuli and exhibits paradoxical behavior. Then he/she chooses a medium for expression to channel the chaotic sensory and emotional experiences into one that is controlled more so by themselves, else how can we deem someone as creative until they create. Seems like we need to understand creativity a bit more, because as many users are commenting, some descriptions and questions from this article are vague and highly applicable the basic human experience (we're all creative! :))


I looked for some resources by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (MC) who was referenced for studying creativity.

Here is what appears to be chapters 2 and 5 of his book Creativity (hosted by CS7601: Computational Creativity, host by Georgia Tech):

1. Ch. 2. - "Where Is Creativity?": http://www.cc.gatech.edu/classes/AY2013/cs7601_spring/papers...

2. Ch. 5 - "The Flow of Creativity": http://www.cc.gatech.edu/classes/AY2013/cs7601_spring/papers...

3. Class Website: http://www.cc.gatech.edu/classes/AY2013/cs7601_spring/


Csikszentmihalyi also wrote Flow, which is about the psychology of optimal experience.

1. TED talk by MC: https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?la...

2. Flow - coined by MC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

rquantz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Wow, artists have a rich inner life? Yo-Yo Ma feels happy, but also sometimes he feels sad? Isn't this just describing a human being?
tedmiston 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I was hoping for a scale on the "temperamental sensitivity" and "rich inner life" quiz at the end.

I found myself at 18/24 and anecdotally, I'm highly sensitive to abrupt noise changes and lighting in physical spaces. Presumably I'm not the only here that keeps their home office only dimly lit with consistent white noise from the central air fan.

Retric 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Because they are expected to behave that way. I have know several artists who played back and forth on the highly sensitive spectrum over time. A few stooped behaving this way when they gave up on being artists.

The thing is stereotypes attract people to behave like X, and they promote X in borderline peope. Programmers often get to behave introverted and you can see shits when someone moves from say sales into programming.

hellofunk 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This helps to underscore that the field of mathematics is also an art form, since the behavior symptoms high-level math researchers are indistinguishable from "artist types"; Goedel, Riemann, Turing, and others come to mind. The "sensitivity" and "complexity" suggested in this article are not isolated to artists.
127 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If you rephrase this quoestion as: "What benefit do acute senses give an artist?" you already have your answer.
return0 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Who said that openness and sensitivity are contradictory? Is the article building a straw man?
funkyy 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Better title would be "Why so many sensitive people are artists" imo. Small change on the first glance but important one.
calibraxis 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just because it's an excerpt, or do these researchers have serious blinders on? How about other hypotheses like:

- Michael Jackson's father beat him for mistakes.

- Performers try to connect with their audience. "Sensitivity" is a bundle of things which helps chances of success, at least if you don't have a big professional team creating your songs.

- People with some experience of unalienated labor ("imagining things and then bringing them into being" and a balance of imaginatively creating both people and artifacts [1]) don't have to deaden themselves as more alienated laborers must.

[1] From David Graeber's "Direct Action: an Ethnography" and "Dead zones of the imagination".

ck2 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I tell myself I am not crazy enough to be a really good coder.

But then I see other really good coders who seem perfectly sane.

unusximmortalis 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What you are asking is not what the article is saying.So...?
enginn 3 hours ago 3 replies      
If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud

mile Zola

A true artist is one who never calls him/herself an artist is my stance. It is usually when society sees a person's works and starts to give positive reviews that the inner artist is unleashed on the world. Sensitivity plays a part, but only insofar as the artist can channel art through the correct medium. If I'm electrosensitive (I constantly get electric shocks for example), then computers are probably the best medium. Someone with an ear for sound would likewise choose musical instruments to mirror back the sound of nature..

Show HN: A friendship-centric journal github.com
27 points by jacobevelyn   ago   13 comments top 3
nacs 56 minutes ago 1 reply      
Now I just need a "how to get a friend" feature added then I'll be able to use the app.
krat0sprakhar 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Love the tagline - Introvert-tested. Extrovert-approved! :D
jacobevelyn 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Hi all, creator here. I've been using this program for a year now but it's definitely in its early stages feature-wise. I'd love to hear feedback!
Putins nuclear torpedo and Project Pluto scottlocklin.wordpress.com
43 points by cronjobber   ago   4 comments top 3
hitekker 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
> 65,000 lbs, 80 feet long, with the terrifying code name, SLAM (Supersonic, Low Altitude Missile), or project Pluto. This thing was perilously close to being built. They tested the engines at full scale and full power at Jackass Flats, and the guidance system was good enough they used essentially the same thing in the Tomahawk cruise missile.

For those who wish to read more about it:


And for those who want to see a very interesting kind of doomsday in which this superweapon is used:


A most enjoyable short story.

utku_karatas2 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
The upside of this story is once after this kind of weaponry is fired off anywhere on earth there will be one hell of an economic vacuum and a lot of startup opportunities. Considering, of course, you're one of the lucky few million left alive on this planet :-).
jkot 24 minutes ago 1 reply      
That torpedo is for military targets in water, such as carrier. It is too small to cause tsunami, or to have much effects on ground targets.
Google collects information on many students as a school official washingtonpost.com
68 points by opheicus   ago   18 comments top 5
mikegerwitz 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Related: https://www.eff.org/issues/student-privacy/

As a parent with a child entering Kindergarten this upcoming school year, and as an avid privacy and free software advocate, I'm not looking forward to the types of discussions that I'm likely going to have to have with our schools. The reality is that these aren't systems that are easy to roll back---it costs a lot of time and money to implement, and then you have vendor lockin.

So while I can hope for a receptive district, action is probably going to be more difficult. My hope is that they haven't ddone anything too disagreeable yet.

Does anyone else have any personal experiences working with their schools?

MikeNomad 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What I find far more... something than FERPA being described as "an obscure law," is how brazen and obvious Google is about breaking it.

If Google is a "School Official," their FERPA obligations do not stop at any point short of/when operating in that capacity.

Further, the idea that they can somehow "switch hats," and somehow maintain discrete sets of both FERPA and non-FERPA behaviors is at best naive, and at worst a conspiracy to commit various felonies.

The money shot of the article: EPIC didn't have standing when they filed their lawsuit, not that they were wrong with regard to laws being broken. With that, I hope entire school districts of parents with school age children file suit.

golergka 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Yes, if you use software to work on some sort of information, this software will have access to this information.

Yes, if you use SAAS software, this information will be processed by remote servers.

Yes, if you use proprietary software, you will not know exactly how is this information processed.

And finally, if you have someone who is willing to work as school clerk, given how much do these jobs pay and how interesting they are, this person will likely not understand the complexity of these issues and will be a little bit lazy with their job, so she probably will not present parents with all the relevant information.

Now, every single one of these facts seem obvious; how is combination of these facts warrant an article in one of the biggest newspapers all of a sudden?

rubyfan 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm as adverse to reinterpretations like this as anyone but what might be more interesting or actionable would be evidence of what data Google are collecting and how Google are using this data.
cs702 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Trust us. It's OK. We won't use it for evil purposes, because one of our corporate goals is not to be evil."
Cracking BurgerTime, a 1982 game on a floppy disk archive.org
125 points by pavel_lishin   ago   39 comments top 8
JoshTriplett 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting exploration and impressive persistence. This approach definitely provides more detailed information about how the process worked. This seems like the only approach that would have worked back in 1982.

Reading the description of the archive.org project at https://archive.org/details/apple_ii_library_4am&tab=about makes it clear that this effort intentionally deconstructs and documents the original copy protection.

Other than as an exploration of copy protection, though, I can't help but wonder if the simplest approach to preserve and run the same software today would involve an appropriate emulator, more accurate floppy drive emulation, and the unmodified original disk image. The crazy amount of self-decryption and obfuscated code wouldn't matter as long as it found what it expected on the disk; the modifications just let it run on real hardware using a copied disk.

Apart from allowing the use of the original unmodified disk, emulation would also avoid the possibility of missing more subtle copy protection schemes. This particular disk made things easier by just stopping the game at the start. Some of the worse copy protection mechanisms developed later would detect a copied game, leave it somewhat playable, but make it either exceptionally difficult or intentionally broken near the end. Sometimes they would include a more obvious copy protection scheme to defeat that prevented playing the game at all, so that a prospective cracker would think themselves successful once the game starts. See http://media.earthboundcentral.com/2011/05/earthbounds-copy-... for an example.

acomjean 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I love reading the deconstruction.

Those apple copy protection schemes. Pirated software always had a "cracked by" load screen.

The most interesting thing to me were the hardware copy cards. Since most software fit in RAM, and the whole software would load at once, these cards let you push a button and make a bootable disk of whatever your computer was running.

When a disk failure meant trying to find another copy somewhere there was a legit fear of loosing your software.

central point software made some of these cards. A little info is available online. (Being before the internet took off, the names aren't search engine friendly.).Alaska Card Advert (why settle for copying the lower 48K.. Before they called it backup..)


Bottom of this page has some interesting pictures and history of these card:http://retro.icequake.net/dob/

incepted 11 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm both impressed and terrified that most of this article makes sense to me, even thirty years later.

It feels like writing the protection must have taken longer than developing the game itself.

If you're curious, here is the actual game:


Hard to imagine they went to that amount of trouble to protect it, but those were different days.

boot13 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Nice work! Kind of hard to believe someone would go to all that trouble now, but fun is fun, right? I remember at least one game that was less fun to play than it was to remove the copy protection. Some of my old articles about removing Apple II copy protection are also posted on archive.com, like this one: http://archive.org/stream/computist-scan-14/issue14#page/n9/...
Sanddancer 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Fantastic article as to how cracking was done back in the day. Plus, I've gotta give style points for it being formatted as 40 column, even if it isn't in all upper case, like files from back in the day would be. Though I was surprised he didn't check to see what that solitary bad sector was near the beginning of his explorations, because that was a pretty common way of keeping raw disk copy software from duplicating programs. All in all fascinating article.
jacquesm 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Hehe, lots of dusty neurons firing while reading this. Wonder how many old school hackers cut their teeth on cracking games.

 > In Which I'd Like To Add You > To My Professional Network Of > Linked Catalog Sectors

How much wall clock time went into this?

 > I'm beginning to suspect that this disk > is nothing more than an infinite series > of decryption routines with a game > bolted on as an afterthought.

leeoniya 10 hours ago 1 reply      
this one is also pretty crazy:

Super Mario World Credits Warp Explained


DrTung 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I remember cracking A2FS1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWIuTP_A6IQ This was before floppy disks, the game came on a cassette, but it had the same style of boot0/boot1 encryption.Starting the game from a copied cassette, it just printed "STOLEN AIRCRAFT! STOLEN AIRCRAFT!" all over the display.
Taco Bell Programming archive.org
115 points by Jarred   ago   55 comments top 17
peterjmag 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I found myself nodding along (if not necessarily agreeing 100%) until I got to this:

I could have done the whole thing Taco Bell style if I had only manned up and broken out sed, but I pussied out and wrote some Python.

I know this article was written over 5 years ago, but I still feel the need to say: expressions like manned up and pussied out are a huge turn-off for me. Regardless of the ideas surrounding them or the author's programming skills, the author loses a good chunk of credibility in my eyes simply by using them. Sure, it's a stylistic choice, but it's one that I feel is actively harmful to our industry, especially for those who are new to software development or interesting in learning.

So if you're reading this and you're one of those new or interested people: please don't let this turn you off from discovering and learning tools like sed or Python. One is not inferior to the otherthey are simply different tools that can be used for a wide range of different things. Don't be afraid of using the "wrong" tool for the job (because even experienced developers do this sometimes), just keep on learning new tools and adding them to your own tool belt. Share your work with others, and then when someone tells you you're using the "wrong" tool, ask them to explain why and to propose alternatives. Lather, rinse, repeat.

mabbo 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
While I agree with some comments here that "Fuck you, I had to MAINTAIN your bullshit Taco Bell system", for any project that needs to be run likely no more than once (prototypes, single-run analysis, etc) or is never going to be checked into source control, the power of the shell cannot be underestimated.

I had an intern a couple years ago. Nice guy, but he didn't listen when we said "Keep this simple". We had all the data from an A/B test he ran, and we needed to do the analysis. He broke out MapReduce on EMR and all sorts of other complexity. It was a few MB of data!

After his analysis went pretty poorly, I wrote up a shell script in a few hours (sed, awk, xargs, woo) and got us the data we needed. I'd never ask someone to maintain that madness, but I was able to break it down into simple functions, piped into each other, in a single file.

yuvipanda 4 hours ago 3 replies      
> The Taco Bell answer? xargs and wget. In the rare case that you saturate the network connection, add some split and rsync. A "distributed crawler" is really only like 10 lines of shell script.

As someone who has had to cleanup the messes of people who started with this and built many hundred line dense bash scripts... please do not do this.

> I made most of a SOAP server using static files and Apache's mod_rewrite. I could have done the whole thing Taco Bell style if I had only manned up and broken out sed, but I pussied out and wrote some Python.

I feel sad for whoever inherited this person's systems.

"Write code as if whoever inherits it is a psychopath with an axe who knows where you live" is something I heard pretty early on in life and it's been pretty useful.

zdw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Another, similar post:


The point of both of these posts is more that Unix style tools are extremely powerful and expressive, to the point that writing more involved code for most simple tasks (especially one-off tasks) frequently isn't worth the effort.

Complexity doesn't improve things, especially when it doesn't add value.

twic 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This article is also on Ted Dziuba's current site, where you don't need to go way back to see it:


lukaslalinsky 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Sometimes you have to admit that the problem you need to solve is hard. Hard problems usually can't be solved by easy solutions.

Some examples:

> I have far more faith in xargs than I do in Hadoop.

Me too, but those things are very far from comparable. You can only compare xargs to Hadoop only if you have a Hadoop cluster with one node and I'm really not sure why would anybody use Hadoop like that.

> I trust syslog to handle asynchronous message recording far more than I trust a message queue service.

You mean you trust the protocol that sends messages over UDP and can silently truncate or lose messages?

Standard Unix tools are nice and I always try to use them first, but for some tasks, they are just not the right tools.

bluedino 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's like the old programming interview, someone sits down and is asked to write a program that sorts a file containing a list of 100 random numbers.

The programmer enters the UNIX command sort -n numbers

jlgaddis 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Off-topic: every Taco Bell restaurant has a server running "Taco Bell Linux" (or did, a few years ago, anyways -- I assume they still do).
cdevs 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I was going to write a program to generate static files from our horrible Wordpress site and then I remembered oh yea - wget. I relate to this post in the fact that I'm a system admin that hopes the devs learn some daily tricks, faster word manipulation on a large scale but keep the system calls out of production.
johansch 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"Resume ability" is kind of useful when dealing with large data sets though. This kind of scripting often fails in that regard.
zappo2938 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Do you know how many dishes can be made with only chocolate, butter, cream, sugar, flour, and eggs? Cupcakes to ice cream. It's all about technique. They say Elvis only knew three cords. You can write every program using a handful assembly language codes. Why would you? I wanted to prototype a website in a day just a short while ago so I used Drupal which has has a monstrosity database query engine. I thought instead of running 100,000 lines of code to generate a page, I would write all the queries from scratch with a few hundred lines of code. It's weird realizing that I would never write code that could execute faster than the query engine because it manages caching.
fffrad 6 hours ago 4 replies      
If only we could get paid to find solutions, not write lines of code.

I was once asked to create a pie chart of the number of lines of code my team wrote every week. I still haven't figured it out.

VLM 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hearing hooves out in the wilderness? Ah, obviously zebras escaped from the zoo. What if all the worlds zebras escaped continuously from all the zoos, better make it scalable. You'll never be able to reimplement so better make it very generic... like a self reproducing herd of artificially intelligent superhuman androids. I've had to maintain systems that should have been implemented with herds of artificially intelligent androids but were not. Most importantly, this is gonna look awesome on my resume.

Or... those hooves could be a couple horses. Use the standard low effort solution of stepping out of their way. Redirect the energy that would have been wasted into something actually useful.

alexchamberlain 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure I agree. They may work under good circumstances, but how do you test the error cases? What about when you need to scale beyond a single node or you need an "online mode"?
vmorgulis 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Taco Bell programs as one liners.
jlgaddis 6 hours ago 0 replies      
N.B.: [2010]
douchescript 6 hours ago 0 replies      
shellscript that crawls web? Surely doable but never secure.
IntelliJ IDEA and the whole IntelliJ platform migrates to Java 8 jetbrains.com
154 points by ingve   ago   102 comments top 13
StevePerkins 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Interesting that all of the discussion is rambling about IntelliJ in general (e.g. Is it slow? Is it better than this other IDE? Ermagherd, Java sucks! Etc).

Nothing about the actual specific topic, which is that one of the most prominent development tools in the Java ecosystem now expects the current Java version to be installed.

Expecting the current version might sound mundane to a Rubyist or Node person (and it might sound like a pipe dream to a wistful Pythonist!). However, it's a pretty big change in the Java world. Backwards compatibility is highly prized...and tool or library authors have always been reluctant to use current language features, for fear of excluding users stuck on old versions.

Back when I was working in "the enterprise world", it wasn't unheard to see shops still stuck on 1.4 long after Java 7 had been released. Up until a few years ago, it was sometimes still a big deal for libraries to start incorporating generics (introduced with Java 5 in 2004).

Java 8 was SUPPOSED to an even bigger shift than Java 5, with an even slower adoption rate. However, for some reason it feels like the opposite is proving true. I'm seeing tools and libraries move to Java 8 shockingly soon compared to past experience.

I wonder why this is. Perhaps after the rocky Java 5 migration, large companies embraced the practice of updating their deployed versions more frequently? Maybe it's Oracle releasing new Java versions every two years now, and being more aggressive about end-of-life'ing the prior versions? Or perhaps it's just that I've been out of the enterprise environment and working for startups instead these past several years, and the situation in large companies is still as conservative and outdated as ever?

thejosh 12 hours ago 5 replies      
I really like the IntelliJ products (especially PHPStorm with the Symfony2 plugins, PyCharm, etc) but you really need a 'beefy' computer to run it properly. SSDs are a must.
mschuster91 3 hours ago 6 replies      
Java as base platform? Shit, didn't know that, and it totally explains the slowness on anything <8GB and spinning rust instead of a HDD.

Can anyone please tell me a reasonably complex GUI program in Java that is actually fast and resource-efficient? Counter-examples include IDEA, Lotus Notes, JDownloader, SAP...

I believe that while Java may be a nice programming language, you import slowness and resource starving of your system by using it.

Randgalt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Cue the Java haters in 3, 2, 1
rms_returns 11 hours ago 8 replies      
Call me old, but I still use eclipse even for android programming (using the ADT plugin). Every IDE has pros/cons, and both eclipse and intellij have their shares, but if you consider the big picture, they mostly even out.

In fact, I would rather argue that the features on which intellij rules are of superficial nature and have more to do with a "nice feel" (such as more friendly code-completion or better looking graphics/colors).

But features that eclipse rules are more substantial (like performance, ability to work on wide range of projects).

The only reason that intellij appears to have more fanboys is that it doesn't come free. And its human nature that if you spend bucks on something, the free alternative will obviously look inferior to you!

Too 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As an end user of IDEA, not writing any plugins and already got java 8 installed, will i notice anything by this?
codecamper 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know if there was some relationship between Jetbrains & Netbeans? Netbeans started as Xelfi in Prague mid 90s. Jetbrains is also based in Prague.

A friend of mine started Xelfi -- I'm trying to figure out how awesome my friend is.

markbao 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Explain like I'm five: Does this mean that IntelliJ IDEA will get faster?
spdustin 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I still can't seem to figure out: can IDEA + plugins = PyCharm & RubyMine & PHPStorm & WebStorm?
spiralganglion 12 hours ago 3 replies      
As someone who is about to heavily start using the Cursive IDE (built on top of IntelliJ IDEA), this is wonderful news. Coming from a frontend web dev background, Java 6 has been a layer of slime at the bottom of the barrel of sweet wine that is Clojure. Now, as soon as Minecraft gets off Java 6, I can rid my system of that infernal scourge.


nowprovision 5 hours ago 0 replies      
IntelliJ reminds me of ramp up prior to Firefox 3.5, forever announcing performance increases which never seem tangible. However we're at Firefox 43 now and it seems to have delivered on the 3.5 promises, I still hold out hold for IntelliJ perhaps nearer v20. Damn shame atm though as Cursive Clojure looks awesome.
numan1617 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome news. Hopefully this means I won't have to edit my Info.plist file with every update now.
dominotw 10 hours ago 1 reply      
now just embed neovim and make it awesome.
Delightful Video on TempleOS Internals youtube.com
25 points by sergiotapia   ago   3 comments top 2
fastflo 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
i like the "we have the divine right to access ..."!
chris_wot 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'm not making fun here, but I honestly want to see him going to the VMWare's office and demanding that they implement his RedSea filesystem on pain of eternal damnation.
The man who made Edward Snowden inevitable economist.com
67 points by gyre007   ago   3 comments top
danso 3 hours ago 2 replies      
God damn, I could just feel the writer stretching to make the parallels work...that last attempt at poetry in the last line, "Then, along came Mr. Snowden". A code breaker who wrote a book to make money during the Great Deprssion is what made Snowden inevitable? And no one of worth came after Yardley to expose the NSA, not James Bamford nor Bill Binney?

If there was anyone who made Snowden inevitable, it was whoever was doing sysops.

The Refragmentation paulgraham.com
759 points by urs2102   ago   378 comments top 96
gotchange 21 hours ago 12 replies      
A very fascinating article that I have truly enjoyed reading minus the last 10 or so paragraphs where Paul expressed it unequivocally that he's a status-quo warrior and that nothing can be done to remedy the problem of the ever widening gap of income inequality in the global economy and more specifically in the US and that it's a "natural" product of the state of affairs in our world. A classical example of the naturalistic fallacy [0].

Also, it's also worrying the degree of infatuation or affection for the early 20th century years with central planning of the economy, crony capitalism, robber barons, an all-powerful big government, centralization and concentration of power at the hands of a few, regimented and uniformed society ...etc.

No leftie is arguing or longing for any of these policies. What we're looking for is just more equality in economic opportunities and esp capital and that distribution of capital to be more fair across all the classes and not to be a privilege only for rich and highly connected people.

That's how we envision the solution to fix this problem of "fragmentation" as he put when it exactly is more like a "segregation" problem but not based on racial or cultural factors but on economic one into two completely separate societies between the haves and have-nots, between the 1% and the 99% of the population and it's getting worse and uglier by the day.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalistic_fallacy

rsync 23 hours ago 7 replies      
"Obviously the spread of computing power was a precondition for the rise of startups."

If you live in San Francisco (or are visiting) you can visit the USS Pampanito - a retired WWII submarine.[1]

One thing I think you will notice is the manufacturers plaques attached to every little piece of equipment in the submarine ... every one of them the plaque of some tiny little supplier that you have never heard of. Some little Detroit Turbine Supply Company or American Radio Corporation of Maryland ...

Seriously - every single component has a label on it from a firm you have never, ever heard of.

I guess I don't have a deep knowledge of military procurement and supply circa 1942 (or whenever) but it sure looks like startups to me ...

[1] http://www.maritime.org/tour/index.php

bitwize 49 minutes ago 2 replies      
Graham leaves out one crucial thing:

A more equal society is a better society. Always. This was borne out in the work of Wilkinson and Pickett for their book The Spirit Level.

You may have less technology. You may have less innovation. Tough. Creating more of what Earl Dunovant called "cute and useful monkey tricks with energy and matter" at the expense of your fellow man and the planet does not put you ahead, and societies should not seek to optimize for monkey tricks over the betterment of their fellow man.

Inequality (along with the environment) may be the defining issue of the twenty-first century, and once recognition of inequality and its consequences goes mainstream, laissez-faire capitalism will join royalism in the dustbin of discredited political philosophies.

jusben1369 22 hours ago 5 replies      
The thing to me is Silicon Valley is the place in the US that still looks like that post WWII America. Large monopolies like Google, Apple and FB utilizing fantastic profits and paying amazing perks to employees. Everyone working in and on the same mission acting as a social fabric tying people together. Glass Door and the Internet in general replacing trade unions by helping balance a knowledge imbalance so that workers can maximize their benefits.

The irony of regularly lecturing the rest of the country and world about what the future holds from the position as a final bastion on unassailable US hegemony of last century (2nd only to Hollywood?) perplexes me.

pcmaffey 20 hours ago 4 replies      
"And as long as it's possible to get rich by creating wealth, the default tendency will be for economic inequality to increase."

This seems to be the ontological point of his essay, which reads as a loosey historical narrative manufactured to defend his belief that the fight against "economic inequality" will undermine innovation by disincentivizing the next Zuckerberg.

But it misses the underlying point of wealth creation: if more people create more wealth, then naturally, there should be less poverty. Adding value to the world makes the pie bigger. The real issue is distribution. Our current economic model distributes wealth as a factor of capital, which is hoarded at the top and systematically protected. It would be silly to say that the top 1% of the population, which owns more than the rest of the 99% combined, creates more wealth or is more productive than everyone else on the planet. They just have a monopoly on capital.

dkural 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A counter-example, and a different framework to think about equality: Most of Scandinavia has fragmentation, freedom of expression, and genuine diversity of choice, diversity of lifestyle, of opinion, but it also has more equality. One can have a more equal society without raising taxes or massive wealth distribution. This is possible if a society ensures that its children receive adequate and equal access to healthcare and education in their earliest years, in other words, an equal start. This is where the US fails the most compared to Europe. Property taxes are the levers through the poor are priced out of good school districts. It acts as the algorithm through which self-segregation is made possible, often resulting in racial segregation as well. Education being a local affair ensures the wealthy and the educated have no incentive to fight for the rights of the poor and the ignorant, since they can get their fix via simply moving to a better neighborhood, leaving the others behind. Not so in Europe. The leaders of the community put pressure on officials and the system, and as the one system improves, so does the lot of all.A similar dynamic is true in healthcare as well, in Europe: A single-payer system ensures all get the same healthcare, and suddenly fixing it becomes a problem of upper-classes as well, but the entire society benefits from the improved system.

PG's post is self-justifying and self-interested.

Here's an alternative explanation of fragmentation: It is the sign of a new industry. It'll consolidate once it matures. Look at semiconductor & hardware consolidation. Google, Amazon, Apple, MSFT, Intel, Oracle etc. absorb a lot of software biz over time. There used to be hundreds of car companies, dozens of aircraft manufacturers.

msvan 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I think this is one of the most interesting essays he's written in a while, and it echoes many of my own thoughts better than I could express them.

PG seems to argue that the fragmentation of society is a question of efficiency. A natural effect of this is that the world will become more cut-throat. Efficient systems turn hyper-competitive, as seen in university admissions, startups, financial markets. It seems to me that too much "liquidity" mostly causes burnout, depression, dumb risk-taking, and a few really successful winners. Tech is really guilty of this phenomenon by tending to produce one winner for every thousand losers.

In many ways the 20th century was an anomaly -- the wars were more violent, the rate of growth was faster, the cultural shifts were huge and multifaceted -- but we still use tend to see it as a normal state of things. A hundred years into the future we'll be looking at an entirely different world and consider it normal.

wbl 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this essay ignores the impact of the Civil Rights Movement and feminism in undermining the 1950s. The world of the 1950's wasn't one where women could work, despite that having been the case since the 1920's. It was also the world in which Brown v. Board of Ed. lead to federal troops being deployed in the south to safeguard the rights of citizens, and ultimately lead to the Freedom Summer which radicalized a lot of New Leftists. So perhaps the 1950's was a world based on certain kinds of exclusions, that once removed, broke down.
h2077545 3 hours ago 0 replies      
> The effects of World War II were both economic and social. Economically, it decreased variation in income. Like all modern armed forces, America's were socialist economically. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. More or less. Higher ranking members of the military got more (as higher ranking members of socialist societies always do), but what they got was fixed according to their rank. And the flattening effect wasn't limited to those under arms, because the US economy was conscripted too. Between 1942 and 1945 all wages were set by the National War Labor Board. Like the military, they defaulted to flatness. And this national standardization of wages was so pervasive that its effects could still be seen years after the war ended. [1]

Just another article by a hypocrite capitalist talking about "socialism" without a clue.

rmason 19 hours ago 0 replies      
PG you may want to rethink the idea of networks of cooperating companies work better than a single big company. Just finished reading Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk.

Real revelation for this Michigan boy was that at both Tesla and SpaceX Musk had failures trying to use existing supplier networks. By doing a lot of manufacturing in house Musk not only realized cost and time savings but gained an agility and nimbleness that blew away his competitors. Granted Musk didn't need to manufacture his own raw materials. But in doing his own manufacturing he was able to gain a further competitive edge by making his products better. For example the Big 3's supplier networks add to their sloth and look-alike products.

Alex3917 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Great essay. I would quibble with the following though:

> [Technology] means the variation in the amount of wealth people can create has not only been increasing, but accelerating.

The problem with this is that success = ability * motivation * opportunity. There's no question that technology is increasing ability. But it's less clear what's happening with opportunity.

Networks tend to be winner-take-all, which means that technology actually depletes opportunity at the same time as it increase ability. Which I think means that we're actually going toward integration, not fragmentation. Only this time we don't need another WWII to integrate society because it's already happening, it's just less visible.

E.g. the vast majority of the traditional media is controlled by the same six corporations. And to quote Fred Wilson's 2015 wrap up, "10 of the top 12 mobile apps are owned by Apple, Facebook, and Google."

There's no question that individuals are way more free than they were in 1950 or whatever. But I think it's more analogous to free-as-in-beer, as opposed to free-as-in-speech.

three14 20 hours ago 4 replies      
One taboo on HN is pointing out that even though software is a huge lever, there's no sign of the end of raw human labor. In every industry you can point to jobs being lost to automation, yet you still need many, many people in health care, or construction, or manufacturing, or police, or teaching, or mining, or working for utilities, etc. It's complete speculation to suggest that jobs are disappearing faster than they could be replaced. It's not surprising that people who used to work for big auto manufacturers can't continue to work for those same manufacturers, and that says nothing about whether those same people could find low-skill jobs in other industries, nor whether investment in sectors other than GM or Ford could create more unskilled jobs.

If there was a larger market for unskilled labor, the competition for workers would tend to drive up wages and lower inequality.

jakozaur 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article, but it misses two triggers:

1. Globalization. A lot of manual labour was tied to USA, not so ago to local labour. In last 20-30 years a lot of things get imported from China or outsourced to India.

2. Software (briefly mentioned in original article). Previous technology advancement can give someone leverage, but software got probably the largest leverage in humankind history. Single program can automate what used to do an army of employees. Natural monopolies are common thanks to network effect, economy of scale or technological advances.

Winner takes all market (e.g. Apple has almost all profits in smartphone market, Android got some market share, alternatives are niches).

AstroChimpHam 19 hours ago 4 replies      
PG started off talking about the fragmentation in politics, and I wish he would have wrapped that back in at the end. It feels to me like the two party system in the US is dying now as the oligopolistic system of just a few big companies began dying in the 90s.

The two party political system is more unnatural than the few-big-companies system. Libertarians and Evangelicals agree on very little yet they've been voting for the same party for years. Proponents of extreme reform on the other side don't want to vote for a moderate candidate. A Trump vs Clinton election is going to leave too many people without a candidate and force the beginning of the end of the two party system.

chrispeel 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems to me that much of the fragmentation that the post discusses is just economic specialization, which we should encourage (see Adam Smith). I do think it is reasonable that one limits the 'fragmentation', i.e. that one puts negative feedback in the economic loop in the form of a progressive tax. Negative feedback is used everywhere in electronics and even sometimes by the Fed to control interest rates. Even so, many economists [1] throw up their hand and say macro economics is too tough and we just can't predict how it will work. This seems like nonsense to my engineer brain; I think that a sharply progressive tax with an accompanying universal basic income is the right way to encourage economic diversity.

[1] I get my impression of economists from EconTalk by Russ Roberts.

sce 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Regarding income inequality, I recommend listening to some of the speeches/debates with Bernie Sanders.

E.g. he argues that the greatest receiver of welfare in the US is the wal-Mart family, because they get even richer paying their workers so little that the workers have to live on welfare. (In other words the welfare is "paying" the workers so that Wal-Mart don't have to.) He proposes to rise the minimum wage.


r2dnb 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting article, the insight of PG is much valuable but I find his attempt to depict a fragmentation model unconvincing. While this model captures the dynamics at play, it fails to explain them and to introduce an easier way to act on them while this is the point of a model. This sums up an extensive feeling about this article.

I'd like to react to three of my picks. First of all PG conveys with its fragmentation model that long careers in the same company are a thing of the past. I explain an opposite view and support that new companies will have people work longer for them (10 to 20 years) by hiring them much earlier, for much cheaper. This challenges the dynamics presented by PG.


The second thing is that I found intriguing that PG write "Your prestige was the prestige of the institution you belonged to" talking about college graduates, as if it was a thing of the past and thus presenting himself as a hacker of this system while YC overly represents Stanford alumnis. But this is a paradox that I found with YC in general. They position themselves as a hacker of the system while they really are a cornerstone of this system in many regards.

Therefore - third thing - it wasn't a surprise for me to find in the last paragraph that PG envisages centralization as a better alternative and with a certain nostalgy thinks that the effects of this "defragmentation" need to be contained. Overall, PG thinks like a wealthy man who made his fortune in the late 90s and who has the graduate syndrom - about which I will write momentarily. His insight is certainly valuable but his proposition isn't disruptive.

lsc 6 hours ago 1 reply      
>The ultimate way to get market price is to work for yourself, by starting your own company.

see... this (and the implication that people working at large companies get less than market rate) doesn't ring true for me. The real "free markets" of labor, like craigslist and the rent-a-coder marketplaces pay about 20% of what you get if you go through a recruiter who has "a relationship" with a large company... for doing essentially the same thing, and from what I've seen, contractor pay (after the middleman takes his cut) is about the same as base pay (for the same work) at a large company.

Now, when I started contracting in the early aughts, base pay was basically the same as total comp, and so I subtracted the payroll taxes and health insurance and could pretty much directly compare contract vs salary wages. In the early aughts, it was pretty unusual for individual contributors to get big bonuses or even stock refreshes (or that was my perception; I was considerably less senor at the time.)

But, from what I've seen, if you are full-time at a big company here, you get a pretty significant bump now, in terms of bonuses and stock.

My point here is just that my experience has been that when I'm selling my labor, the further I move away from "the free market for labor" and the closer I get to a system of rank and privilege as pg describes 20th century corporations, the more I get paid.

cronjobber 23 hours ago 6 replies      
He takes the easy way out on the war theory: It would be awful, of course, so let's not think about it.

But think about it. Would historical WWII be possible in today's United States? Introduce the draft and send current US population off to die in Europe? I think you'd see intense levels of political resistance, draft dodging and desertion in the field. Fragmentation means you probably can't unite the whole country to die for... whatever anymore.

coldtea 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazing how he can describe the post-war era (an era, including the 50s and 60s remembered as a period of ever increasing prosperity, integration, intellectual achievements, scientific and technical progress, powerful movements of social change, job security, every generation having it better than before, etc.) as some kind of "equality disaster".

Yeah, we're moving past it now, but towards something that resembles the pre-war years of robber barons, crony capitalism, and maybe even share-cropping (in modern form) more than some glorious future.

Animats 19 hours ago 1 reply      
He quotes Rockefeller in 1989: "The day of combination is here to stay."

The amusing thing is that he writes this just as the era of fragmentation in the US is coming to a close. We have one winner in search - Google. We have one winner in social - Facebook. We're down to a few retail Internet providers, a few big banks, a few big airlines, a few telecom companies, and a few commercial real estate owners per city. There would be more concentration in those sectors without regulatory pushback.

harryh 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This essay is excellent, but I wonder a bit about the fact that it focused on the US only. On a global scale I think that experiences are continuing to compress and will continue to do so for at least a few generations.

If this is true, does it invalidate pg's overall thesis? I'm not sure. Interesting to think about though.

markbnj 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm older than Mr. Graham, and grew up in the heart of the period he focuses on. I think this is one of the smartest essays about the economic and cultural after-effects of the great wars of the 20th century, and all the accompanying and related social phenomena, that I have ever read.
basicplus2 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine a society of four people, one grows rice for four, one grows chickens for four one grows vegetables for four, one builds and maintains houses for four there is no profit and there is equality.

If one person is profiting... or in our world a person is profiting more than the others it is inequality in action.

Progressive tax rates are the simplest solution.

The thinking that one persons work is more important than another's is a dangerous and slippery slope.

netcan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Great essay. Though obviously, such a big hypothesis is very speculative.

I think the use of the "market price" concept so heavily here might be taking away a little. It sort of assumes some objective (if unknowable) value to human contribution or achievement. I think in the labour market in general, and specifically the components that he's talking about in the lang term, are hard to describe well this way. Between the difficulty to evaluating labour quality, the variability in "quality" depending on specific circumstances, the bargaining/liquidity issues and other problems, I think we enter a (Ronald) Coase-esqu problem where markets do not play out efficiently enough to reveal an information rich market price.

I wonder if this essay would be much different without market price.

bawana 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Refragmentation is the result of the fungibility of money. When we wanted to make things (stuff people could use to make war or make a better life) money was spent to make those things. Like the water cycle, money would be transformed from one phase into another so that work could be accomplished that directly impacted humanity. But we have short circuited that cycle. Now money is being used directly to make more money through financial instruments. People and the stuff that people want are excluded from this new cycle. (Most people anyway) Money goes directly from its production right back into wagers on the production of more money. For example, the currency markets dwarf the actual gdp of the planet.

To restore balance to the ecology of our civilization, we need to make money a tool for humans. By requiring the use of money only for investment in real stuff, we will deflate the artificial valuations that dwarf the real value of human labor. We will necessarily find ways to restore value to human endeavors and new ways to measure the value of human efforts. More people will thus have value to our civilization on this planet. Otherwise, the refragmentation will continue until it reaches its logical conclusion - a scary picture for humanity.

csense 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting to see that PG agrees with something I've been saying here for a long time, about the role of globalization in economic inequality [1] [2] [3].

Of course I grew up in the Rust Belt, where the average person used to be able to make a good living with a high school education in the steel or automotive industry, but now most of the factories are idle, rusting eye-sores, most of the ambitious, talented kids want to go somewhere else -- anywhere else -- and the closest thing to a growth industry is health care for the folks who earned a good retirement during the glory days and are starting to get old.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9868017

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9560872

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7152378

skybrian 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This history is pretty well-written as far as it goes, but it's centered on the white American male worker's experience, and particularly on the sort of person who had a chance at being a manager.

It barely mentions women and doesn't mention the civil rights movement at all. A majority of Americans living at the time had no chance at being an executive at a large corporation.

There has never been a time when all workers were treated equally.

vasilipupkin 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed the essay, but I completely disagree that the 1945-2000 represented years when America was most cohesive. That seems like a perfunctory reading of history. American history of mid 20th century is that of strife, disagreement, political battles, fights for race and gender equality, etc. America today seems much more cohesive to me than ever before. Does a New Yorker today have more or less in common with someone from Texas or Alabama than 50 years ago ? I think way more. So, I think the rest of the esay falls down like a colossus with feet of clay, once you demolish the central thesis of cohesion
leot 21 hours ago 1 reply      
"A physicist who chose physics over Wall Street in 1990 was making a sacrifice that a physicist in 1960 wasn't."

The trouble is the proportion of those who have the highest technological leverage and are engaged in rent-seeking rather than wealth creation. The 1960s physicist was creating wealth they couldn't capture, while the 1990s physicist was capturing wealth they didn't create. If physicists (and other Ivey grads) all only chose wealth-creation, we'd see far less inequality (at least outside the Bay Area). The trouble is the pull of the largely zero-sum (or negative-sum) world of finance, which more than startups has increased the pressure to "make your fortune". Inequality begets more inequality, because when half my cohort is suddenly making 10x more than me, there are real consequences to my own social, personal, and civic life.

This is all on top of the relatively novel wealth imperative introduced by the progress of biotech. It used to be that, beyond a certain point, money only really conferred social status (and even then, only within a certain peer group): if I don't care about status within that particular group, then why should I care about making more than (say) $200k/year? Except now, with the rapid development of fancy unaffordable therapies and med-tech devices, having an extra 10 million $ lying around can have a much larger impact on quality of life than it did even a couple decades ago. And then there's the significant (if small) possibility that, if Kurzweil + co. end up being right, a bit more wealth might mean being able to "live long enough to live forever".

Current tax policy is heavily skewed in favor of the already wealthy, and wealth inequality is currently orders of magnitude worse than income inequality. So rather than just asking everyone to get comfortable with it, why not do something to actually address it? We need to make significant adjustments to (a) strongly discourage rent-seeking, (b) encourage those with the highest technological leverage to make the most of their talents, knowledge, and access, and (c) greatly increase everyone's ability to create, capture, and save wealth.

WoodenChair 20 hours ago 2 replies      
> It would be insane to go to war just to induce more national unity.

It's probably out of the scope of this essay, but we have in fact been at war for 14 years. It's not at the scale of WW2, but it's war none the less. I think it has not induced national unity due to precisely what Graham describes - fragmentation in society.

mbrock 22 hours ago 0 replies      
David Chapman wrote an interesting set of posts about fragmentation from the perspective of culture, counterculture, and subcultures.


That's the intro for a series of posts listed at the bottom.

Here's a "gigantic chart that explains everything": http://meaningness.com/modes-chart

Here's "systems of meaning all in flames": http://meaningness.com/systems-crisis-breakdown

twelvechairs 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great article which raises many important issues, but I'd like to offer a couple of criticisms.

I'm not convinced 'fragmentation' is the best way to summarise these trends. Small businesses are in fact still losing ground and importance to larger businesses (see for example http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/running_small_business/...). What definitely is happening compared to the mid 20th C is that the economy is more complex and thus there are more diverse industries represented in government, and also the lifespan of large companies is reduced, particularly as technology advances faster now than ever before. Jobs are also becoming ever more centralised in cities due to their increased need for direct communication which hasn't been countered by technology yet (despite a minor trend for remote work). These are the major trends for me.

I'd also add that while networks of smaller companies may have some innovation advantage over large companies (depending on the industry and innovation), many are focussed on industries where they can reduce labour rights, safety standards, avoid tax and lower wages e.g. in construction industry subcontracting, clothing manufacturing, hardware manufacturing, etc.)

Whats also glossed over here is the advances to society made through mechanisms which aren't people trying to get rich, or seek a 'market price' for their 'wealth creation'. Lets not forget that most of the true computer pioneers were people in the corner of some university or military institution somewhere. Similarly in medicine and most sciences, research which is not profit-driven has been core to much of the 'wealth' of the 20th century across the world.

kmonsen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"The ultimate way to get market price is to work for yourself, by starting your own company." This seems to be one of his main points here, and for me it is not true at all.

There are many people that bring real value, even if they would not be good founders (and maybe not even good as first 1-10 employees). That is just one specific set of skills (in addition to common skills), a person can bring a lot of value without being a good founder.

wtbob 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Very interesting, particularly the idea that the rise in inequality is a ntural consequence of fairness. I wonder, then, if those opposing the rise in inequality aren't like King Canute ordering the tide to recede.
CloudYeller 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Paul missed an opportunity to identify economies of scope, not scale, as a major lever in advancement.

He says:

> Incumbents faced new competitors as (a) markets went global and (b) technical innovation started to trump economies of scale, turning size from an asset into a liability

It's true that innovation trumps economy of scale, but that's because economy of scale doesn't really apply to software; all software is instantly scalable to 100% of humans at virtually 0 cost, more or less.

But the software giants have something up their sleeve that no startups have: economies of scope. Look at Shazam/SoundHound. Google has released Play SoundSearch which leverages all of their internal AI research + advanced computational and human resources that aren't available to the public. In effect, a megacorp can replace an entire company by saying "Let's throw 15 engineers on it for a year and see what happens." And if a startup pops up that seems promising? They buy it out, adding it to their trophy wall of innovations they can leverage. And megacorp employees can easily stand on the shoulders of giants; instead of stackoverflow, megacorp employees can search through massive archives of top-notch, fully-working code that was designed by some of the best engineers on Earth.

More and more, it takes something truly amazing for a startup to grow enough to compete with a megacorp. Not only does your technology have to be profound, but you need to withstand aggressive buyout deals from several megacorps.

roeme 22 hours ago 2 replies      
If this piqued your interest; or left you wondering, I'd recommend reading Piketty's "Capital in the twenty-first Century".

As Graham's piece concludes; if we don't do something, we'll get into trouble.

- Terrific work causes us to think of additional questions.

riffraff 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I am unconvinced that fragmentation actually happened.

Sure, maybe there are more airlines, but are there more airplane-making companies or car companies now then in the '60s?

Or consider this:

> Kids who went to private schools or wished they did started to dress "preppy," and kids who wanted to seem rebellious made a conscious effort to look disreputable

How didn't this happen in the 50s too? "Greasers" are _the epitome_ of rebellious kids.

Or consider politics: I have no idea what politicians said in the US at the time, but back in western europe we had a political spectrum that went from "fascism is okaish" to "praise lenin". At least, didn't the US had basically everyone on the same side regarding abortion and divorce, compared to now?

Looks to me the essay suffers from sampling bias, even if most likely unintentional. Sure a few things are examples of increased "refragmentation" but I am unconvinced this is a general, uniform, and strong trend.

tlogan 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> A lot of the change I've seen is fragmentation. US politics is much more polarized

> than it used to be.

I really do not want to be jerk here but this is 'white guy point of view'. The US politics is more polarized than it used to be because black, latinos, women, gays, socialists, etc. have some voice in politics now. Before they had absolutely no voice or very little.

tdaltonc 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> Globally the trend has been in the other direction.

I think that this is misleading. Every global culture is fragmenting, but the biggest fragments within countries tend to get along much better then they used to. There is a "global culture" now that contains a bigger share of humanity then ever before, but inside each nation it still looks like fragmentation.

unusximmortalis 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great sign, to see so many comments on the topics this article is reaching. It shows a lot to me at least. Thank you all for giving your honest and insightful opinions.
jcfrei 16 hours ago 0 replies      
While the article is rather long and touches on many subjects, I believe I agree with the underlying sentiment. Namely, that income inequality is rising and social cohesion is eroding (whereby the former is largely responsible for the latter in my opinion). Looking at historical income inequality in the US, we see that it's just returning to pre 20th century levels. This is not surprising, since the 20th appears to be at odds in many ways with other centuries. Especially the rise of the middle-class (which quickly was understood as a society's default state) seems like a purely 20th century phenomenon. The real question is whether societies in developed countries will accept a return back to more divisive wealth distributions (where people are either clearly upper or clearly lower class).

Furthermore I think it's very important to differentiate between total wealth and wealth distribution. Some (probably rather right-wing politicians) advocate total wealth creation and others (rather left-wing politicians) promote (equal) wealth distribution. Economically speaking the former is clearly preferable, while for social cohesion the later is clearly preferable. Which way we go is (hopefully) up to the democratic electorate (ie. you). And should that not be the case, then at the very least we can all agree that fixing the democratic (legislative) process must be our very first priority - no matter if you seek more or less taxation.

justinhj 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Consider one ycombinator company,Uber. Do they generate wealth? From the point of view of a NYC taxi driver they are directly taking both the customers and the value of the drivers medallions. In return,uber drivers work giving 1/3 of their earnings to a company because that company built the software and lobbied the governments (presumably eventually) to allow this new form of public transport. It doesn't seem any different to the past. Those with the connections, capital and technology take a large share of the wealth being generated by the actual workers.
ivoras 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Simply as a reference to how biology supports the human society and how biological signals can be gamed for short term benefit, this lecture was an eye opener for me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReRcHdeUG9Y
Pyxl101 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Other recent Paul Graham writings on inequality that I thought were interesting reads:

http://paulgraham.com/inequality.html Inequality and Risk, 2005) - economic inequality goes hand-in-hand with risk. If you remove the payoff rewards of risky bets like founding companies, then you remove the incentive to do those things in the first place.

http://paulgraham.com/ineq.html more on Economic Inequality)

caf 9 hours ago 0 replies      
And the second reason is that if you want to solve a problem using a network of cooperating companies, you have to be able to coordinate their efforts, and you can do that much better with computers. Computers reduce the transaction costs that Coase argued are the raison d'etre of corporations. That is a fundamental change.

I wonder if the same is true of coordinating efforts in a centrally planned economy - would computers be the same kind of fundamental change there?

Tycho 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Terrific essay. It's really impressive how much of the world it explained and tied in with history.

One thing I would like to discuss though is this line:

The creative class flocks to a handful of happy cities, abandoning the rest.

This suggests that there are entire cities, even states, lacking in creative people. Now I'm sure PG was consciously generalizing, or else referring to the extraordinarily creative entrepreneurs like Musk, Dorsey etc. (creative in the business sense), so I don't want to nitpick.

But what do people think about this? Everywhere I've gone in life I've found creative, dynamic people somewhere in my midst. I know a frequent complaint from the Left is the slightly galling idea that if the capitalists abandoned us, society wouldn't be able to fill the ranks of the managerial positions and keep things going. What do other people think? Have you lived in (developed world) cities which felt entirely stultified and lacking the human capital to make things better?

paulpauper 21 hours ago 0 replies      
In the early 20th century, big companies were synonymous with efficiency. In the late 20th century they were synonymous with inefficiency. To some extent this was because the companies themselves had become sclerotic. But it was also because our standards were higher.


Huh? His memory must have stopped in 2000 at the peak of the dotcom bubble. Everything has become much more efficient (both in the stock market and in corporate america) and competitive, with droves of college graduates applying for jobs that can be completed by a high-school dropout.

huuu 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Imho it's much simpler than PG explains. If we feel more or if we feel less than someone else we create separation.

Ofcourse there are forces that stimulate this separation (like PG says) but in the end it's just us.

The solution it to listen to yourself. Am I feeling less than this person? Am I feeling more than this person? If so: stop that thought.

anoncoder 16 hours ago 0 replies      
It's tax policy, plain and simple. Stop paying taxes and you'll get richer, relative to those paying taxes. All the communication and technology changes have made it much easier to evade taxes. That and government complicity.

For the last 40 years, we were promised a better living standard in exchange for lower taxes. It backfired. We forgot about the vice that has no bounds - greed. That's why we have to set limits. Paul alludes to the correct and only solution - make tax rates so high to discourage accumulating wealth beyond a certain point.

It's a wave, but the wave has crested. Tax rates will rise, the loopholes will be removed, and the existing tax laws will start to get enforced. Too bad, it could have been different.

drewm1980 8 hours ago 1 reply      
His distinction between "wealth generating" and "rent seeking" behavior isn't obvious to me. Is investing in a start-up (so that you hopefully get a cut of the wealth generated by thousands of people and machines) a form of rent seeking?
auferstehung 12 hours ago 0 replies      
And the cycle continues swinging back and forth. "Let them eat cake" is not sustainable either. It usually ends in violence despite the rationalizations of the elite.
bhuga 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting piece. It will take some time to digest.

I wonder about the arrow of causation for conformity back in the 40's. This essay describes WWII as a spark of a generation of conformity (preceded by the New Deal for some). But it's really hard to imagine modern society signing on to a world war. What's to stop parents afraid of vaccinations from taking their draft-age children to New Zealand?

Was there something else that was already more conformist? Or was there another proximate cause, maybe even one as simple as a perceived global threat (communism, fascism) combined with a lack of individual physical mobility?

The essay is good and makes a strong point in and of itself, but I wonder if there's other variables it (and I) are missing.

If pg is reading, one piece of concrete feedback:

> the LBO wave?

LBO wasn't defined in the text previously and I had to google it (it's leveraged buy-out).

golergka 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> Version 1 of the national economy consisted of a few big blocks whose relationships were negotiated in back rooms by a handful of executives, politicians, regulators, and labor leaders. Version 2 was higher resolution: there were more companies, of more different sizes, making more different things, and their relationships changed faster. In this world there were still plenty of back room negotiations, but more was left to market forces. Which further accelerated the fragmentation.

I find this curiously close to a description given by a late-soviet economist who was working on economic reforms in the 80s: he described soviet economy as a bunch of heavy hard rocks, incredibly powerful, but without any flexibility and connection to each other, and small new cooperative movement as a sand that should've taken all the space in between.

mwcampbell 22 hours ago 0 replies      
> The creative class flocks to a handful of happy cities, abandoning the rest

At least this trend is one that individual programmers can choose to resist, assuming we don't have to move to Silicon Valley or Seattle to get good jobs. I, for one, don't have any desire to leave my home town of Wichita, Kansas.

bsder 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What people forget is that what the big, old, sclerotic, 20th century companies did well was provide a functional wage for the 50% of people who were below average.

It's lovely that the 1% are paid what they are worth. It's not so lovely that 50% are now paid minimum wage or, worse, zero.

ThomPete 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I have one word. Technology.

Think about technology as outsourcing and you realize what the problem is because you are realizing the trend;

Technology will compete with higher and higher levels of abstraction and so you either have to be really skilled in an increasingly competitive space or you need to accept taking jobs at wages that are as low as they are because of the increased competition from technology.

And until economist stop treating technology as an externality they wont understand whats going on and we will keep debating this as if its a political problem. In my opinion its not.

And so because technology ends up favoring the one winner paradigm it pushes wealth into the hands of very few.

djyaz1200 20 hours ago 0 replies      
The book "Coming Apart" by Charles Murray is a thoughtful read on this topic.
stevefolta 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> But once it became possible to make one's fortune, the ambitious had to decide whether or not to. A physicist who chose physics over Wall Street in 1990 was making a sacrifice that a physicist in 1960 wasn't.

This is perhaps not the best example, as a physicist in 1960 might've faced a choice between academia and Fairchild Semiconductor.

orthoganol 15 hours ago 2 replies      
If people enjoy reading history like this, I highly recommend Jeffrey Frieden's "Global Capitalism: It's Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century."

Overall, I think a dimension perhaps lacking in PG's otherwise fantastic writeup is that this 'fragmentation' opens up a space of freedom. I mean, our society basically interpolates individuals (younger generations at least) as existential subjects - no set path on what we should do with our lives, no God, no religion, we have to make our own meaning. Painful and difficult, but a source of freedom either way. Today I can travel as a digital nomad, found a startup, work for a rocketship, work for a stable, high paying company, freelance, or switch careers altogether. I get to choose who I associate with and date and marry (and it's even acceptable to not marry), while choosing from a much larger, more open pool, and for the most part, I get to choose who I am. Not everyone has access to this freedom, but it's still the point in human history when the largest number of people have ever had access to this freedom.

tammer 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Some interesting theories - at first appears quite reductionist but I think succeeds in highlighting something very symbolic.

Odd, though, that pg can write an entire essay about identity politics without naming it.

api 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I think there's a fascinating flip side to what PG calls the refragmentation: the decline of counterculture both materially and in terms of relevance.

PG talks about his yearning for something outside the mainstream bubble. For decades the major source for that was the various mostly youth oriented subcultures that made up what we called the counterculture. Hippies, punks, goths, 80s rockers, hip hop, ravers, geek fandom, and a dozen smaller variants provided something that... well... wasn't "red delicious."

Those things still exist but today they feel more like just another culture in the marketplace. They no longer seem to have such potency or power. Maybe I'm just old but I get the strong sense this is true for young people too. Today young people might visit these little subcultures as tourists, but when I grew up they were a much bigger deal. They became your identity. They were almost religious, like modern mystery cults.

Rave was probably the last great youth counterculture. I haven't noticed another one unless you count the "hipster" artisan living thing and that seems more like a lifestyle brand than a true counterculture of the postwar music+fashion+drugs+ideas mold.

In retrospect those subcultures were more like alternative conformity molds. They didn't really alter the underlying zeitgeist of conformity but just provided another channel on the cultural TV dial. Still I do mourn them a bit. Their greatest legacy was as artistic and musical crucibles and nothing has really replaced them. I don't think it's a coincidence that there has been no major musical innovation since the 90s. There has been good music but it all follows stylistic currents set down before 2000. Rave gave us techno and all its various sub-forms and... that's apparently the end of history music-wise.

Edit: would be curious to hear a counterpoint on the last item. Show me a musical style that is as much of a step change today as hip hop and electro in the 80s or drum and bass in the 90s or acid rock in the 60s.

marshray 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems I was born around the same time and this is how I remember it too.

Another major economic factor he seems to have left out is government policies encouraging (sometimes actively) the US manufacturing base to leave to other countries. This utterly destroyed the formerly thriving US manufacturing-based small businesses, eliminating a huge percentage of semi-skilled jobs in the process.

paulpauper 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Small observation: why title the file re.html? Why not just spell fragmentation? Is there a reason to do it this way? Why .html? Doesn't that make it hard to update all the pages at once such as menus and footers? The design is very minimalist, but it's effective.

We're definitely in a winner-take-all economy, whether it's real estate, stocks, the dominance of companies like Google, amazon, and amazon, or web 2.0 valuations.

SeaDude 16 hours ago 0 replies      
We are at war remember...with terror.

And winner-still-takes-all... some extremely large corporations were made in the last 15 years.

Sorry, don't see the difference between then and now.

I appreciate you attempting to identify the cause of our current crisis, but alas, I believe you may be too entrenched to find it.

Gravityloss 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, we have things like access to education and access to capital, in contrast to a nebulous "ability to create wealth". I think the former two are more fruitful ways of thinking towards fixing the worst aspects of income inequality.
Typhon 22 hours ago 2 replies      
I remember when Paul Graham pointed out that, internally, most companies are run like communist states (in http://paulgraham.com/opensource.html )

The picture he paints here of postwar-America as a bland, uniform country dominated by a few mega-institutions reminds me of the USSR.

How ironic.

marincounty 4 hours ago 0 replies      

He's seems a little self-aware of his own wealth, and what exactly he's given society?

Sorry--I read this bloated, post holiday, thesis, and was not impressed. Why take so long to say a few thoughts? The're just thoughts?

Yes, we rebelled, or "fragmented".

Yes, unions are not perfect. (Good luck getting rid of certain unions, like any Union San Franciso. I have seen entire buildings go dim when the painter's Union went on strike.)

If I were a psychologist looking for a theme to his writing it would be basically two thing; He is one percenter--trying to rationalize his own wealth? He trying to look for flaws in society that makes it o.k. to be very wealthy?

Paul--take a basic writing class. You need to funnel your thoughts. You could take out 3/4 of your sentences, and your readers would have a better grasp of what you are trying to convey.

Paul--certain unions will never go away.

Paul--this is the downside to being very wealthy. You are living the "dream"?

I wasen't going to read that essay another time. I think we are about to see a lot of tech billionaries wondering if they ultimately ruined the party, or helped it?

Let's get real. In the U.S.--a lot of us didn't have to worry about missing out on the party. All we had to do was try. Now--it's not as easy.

Do I fear the future. Yes--I do. Do I think tech will make things better. No--I don't. That is unless we get serious about overpopulation.

I have a question to any developer here. We are constantly trying to make tech easier. We all know, and like DRY. What's going to happen in a few years when our skills are no longer needed? Even local politians are writing our obituaries. Willie Brown said, 'I'm wondering what we are going to do with all the future homeless tech people.'It's not an exact quote, but it was said in retort to a complaint about all the homeless we step over every day.

My hope is we don't turn into Mexico. A country where someone like Paul couldn't take a leisurely walk in the park?

Simorgh 20 hours ago 0 replies      
PG writes that the 20th Century was "a world in which it was socially acceptable to work for Henry Ford, but not to be Henry Ford".

I feel that this viewpoint is still common today. Success is often glamourised, far more than hard work.

ams6110 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I like PGs essays normally, but he didn't address two huge societal changes since WWII, that is the rise in welfare and single-parent families. More people than ever are being paid to be non-productive and to procreate without any means or even real chance of supporting their offspring (a single parent poor household has significantly less opportunity to move up in income compared to a two-parent poor household).

This can't not have an impact on the social order. Perhaps he implies or assumes that this is an effect rather than a cause but to leave it unmentioned seems like a big omission.

jzd 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The inequality gap is the direct result of an education gap
abalashov 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's an insightful perspective and, along with PG's stance on the essence of economic inequality per se, a welcome antidote to the populist outrage machine, which does indeed the frame issue largely in zero-sum terms.

However, there are some counterpoints that don't receive adequate representation in this account, in my opinion:

One is the size and scale to which rent-seeking behaviour dominate the American economy. PG does acknowledge here and elsewhere that rent-seeking behaviour accounts for the wealth of many, but dismisses it relatively quickly as a seemingly self-evident byproduct of the expected variance in a society that permits economic opportunity. I think the situation is a lot worse than that; the amount of such parasitism, in the form of regulatory capture, lobbyist influence, outright Gilded Age-style purchase of legislation, revolving-door career paths, etc. account for an extremely significant percentage of US economic output and the unequal concentration of wealth. Consider for example how our healthcare system works (even post-ACA), Big Pharma, the military-industrial complex, intellectual property law and software patents, etc. A great deal of our government is for sale, and the sole purpose of a lot of our legislative projects is to route money into private hands, with the support of the government's monopoly on force, while socialising risks and losses onto the taxpayer. In my specialisation of telecom, I have seen this at work with the hundreds of billions in effective subsidies given to the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world, ostensibly to support the build-out of competitive next-generation broadband infrastructure but in fact to line their own pockets. All in all, the total dimensions of corruption at the top of the economic food chain are in the trillions of dollars, and I feel this insight is not given a fair shake with the same diligence as other aspects of corporate-industrial history of which PG treats.

The second issue relates to the optimal amount of economic inequality we can sustain while maintaining social order and an environment conducive to ongoing innovation. Many revolutions and upheaveals in modern history attest to the fact that when a sufficiently large class of poor and disefranchised people arises and is left to twist in the wind, at some point "radical discontinuities" will occur. Pervasive, festering social ills don't serve the self-interest of the wealthy and the middle class, either; they ultimately impact the security of their lives and their property, requiring them to resort to increasingly drastic measures to keep what's theirs. The market for mass-market and/or consumer products--on which a lot of startup business models depend--is inevitably limited or shrinks when large segments of society see eroding disposable incomes. Instability also negatively impacts the transaction of business by making the outer world less predictable and dependable; lopsided opportunity in savage inequality leads to lopsided and inconsistent educational outcomes and, ultimately, a more heterogenous and troublesome work force.

As other countries around the world periodically assert, there may be a formula for state economic involvement, taxation and social programmes that better maximises more desirable social outcomes, even if it comes at the expense of bridling notional economic opportunity and the smoothing out of some peaks. Is it not true, for example, that much of the significant innovation in computing and networking from which we benefit today came out of Bell Labs, a quasi-governmental institution whose decidedly mid-20th century model of economic existence created the right incentives for long-tail R&D?

The work done in such places, as in the pharmaceutical industry for example, is now fiercely subordinated to narrow, short-horizon commercialisation objectives, and while that may be a better way for some actors to get rich faster, is it really where we want to go? It seems to me one can raise the same kind of objection about the incentives set up by unicorn-seeking VC funding and California startup capitalism.

All this leads me to say that perhaps these issues need to be considered in a more global, integrated, and holistic way, rather than narrowly construed as problems of economics. If we want to evolve toward a better future, we may need to take up more thinking from the "normative" sphere, which economists hate.

be21 2 hours ago 0 replies      
not even wrong :
Zigurd 19 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a very American take on fragmentation and cohesion. The idea of wars creating cohesion is only valid in big, powerful, victorious nations. In Germany, defeat resulted in the rejection of nationalism. If you don't live in a great and powerful nation, or if you don't think your nation is as great as advertised, you might not miss cohesion on national lines.

Good thing PG is a realist: "we'd be better off thinking about how to mitigate its consequences."

But even that point of view is reactionary. What mitigation is good? The kind that preserves mass-market politics as practiced in America? The kind that can take us to war with some distant threat that is not even a blip in terms of national survival? The kind that tells us cops and doctors and uniformly good and competent? Surely not the kind that says "What's good for GM (or Disney, or Goldman Sachs) is good for America."

Skeptical, questioning, objective people with loyalty only to those we can personally qualify will be people less likely to be taken for a ride by the kinds of cynical mass-market charlatans it takes to harness national cohesion.

The weakest part of this article is about taxation and the wealth gap: If taxes rates are weakly related to wealth creation, the spectre of wealth-destroying taxation remains a boogie man, if a popular one these days.

return0 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This was very insightful. One thing he doesn't tackle though, is how this re-fragmentation affects the idea of the national state itself.
hoodoof 20 hours ago 0 replies      
>> With the centripetal forces of total war and 20th century oligopoly mostly gone, what will happen next?

Or I could just read The Atlantic.....

frik 22 hours ago 0 replies      
On the one side we have very huge corporations that have a (near) monopoly on a sector (big, small or niche). On the other side we have many small players "fighting" [not the best word] for the remaining niches ...the rest. And they dream to be the next big player by betting on a raising sector (new technology) and sometimes disrupt old players that are too slow to adapt. Or they fix it with cash. Absolute monopoly is often bad (for everyone except a few (shareholders)), so anything else (fragmention) is better.
MBCook 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Click the link (I'm on an iPhone), see a few lines as a 'read more' link.

All apparently so I can see the 'sidebar' menu below the content?

When I follow a link to an article why should I have to press a button to read the article?

I'm getting so tired of this crap on so many sites. I'm really disappointed to see it here.

2nd big story in two days that I found unreadable due to poor web design on someone's relatively simple site (i.e. not crammed with junk like Bloomberg).

unimpressive 20 hours ago 0 replies      
>If total war was the big political story of the 20th century, the big economic story was the rise of new kind of company.


echochar 15 hours ago 0 replies      
A phrase used repeatedly throughout is "creating wealth". This is contrasted with "zero-sum game" to get rich. Does anyone have a precise definition of "creating wealth"?
rdiddly 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm old too, and I think the issue is quite a bit simpler than this rather sprawling essay makes out. The "two forces" (WWII and large corporations) that are now receding in memory, that supposedly used to push us all together, were actually both manifestations of a single force, which is the "growth phase" of fossil-fuel energy production. This has been a boon to economies the world over for the past 100, 150 years or so.

When the world is a place where an ever-increasing amount of energy is available to drive an economy, the best way to exploit resources (energy, labor, materials) is by doing it "at scale" i.e. big corporations. And the best way for Hitler to create Lebensraum and accomplish all his other now-familiar goals is by using that selfsame large-scale industrial infrastructure. And the best way for the Allies to fight against it, was more of the same. It's all the same thing.

But economic activity grows and shrinks hand-in-hand with energy availability. And when your energy source goes through a growth phase, hits a peak and stops growing, the "large-scale" strategy slowly starts to become unviable. So a given corporation, suddenly finds itself resource-constrained, and has to find some way to reorganize itself and reconcile itself to the new paradigm, or face becoming less and less profitable.

PG correctly pegs the timing of when the "disintegration" and "fragmentation" starts to make itself evident in the US - the 1970s. By no coincidence that is also the time when America reached and passed its domestic petroeum-production peak. Then came all the economic stagnation, hyperinflation, factories closing (offshoring), etc. And on the social side there was pervasive unease... the "ennui" of the like-named Carter speech. Many subcultures came out of the woodwork then, because it becomes less desirable to fit into and conform to a system that seems to be faltering and becoming unstable, no longer gives you any upward mobility, and might even be rigged against you.

In fact, for the people against whom it truly is rigged, why not outwardly display symbols proudly showing just how thoroughly "outside the system" one is? Hence the baggy pants of the prison parolee (who upon release gets back the same pants he was arrested in, but finds he's lost 30 lbs eating prison food) that became the stylistic signature of gangsters. Hence all the tattoos, formerly the symbol of exotic and unseemly characters, now sort of the neutered and ubiquitous symbol of wannabe unseemly characters.

Anyway it took a great pretender to hide the obvious, and that guy's name was Reagan. Luckily for him, people were all-too-willing to get on-board and believe a pleasant lie, rather than face a bunch of hard work.

Computers were a great invention but it's no coincidence that anything that "gets done" and any wealth that gets created in the US today is by doing "more with less" in the digital realm, and not by doing "more with more" in the physical. All the physical stuff has been offshored to take advantage of labor arbitrage and, ironically enough, cheaper energy. (Because of course there are still countries that export energy.)

Anyone looking for why "we once were cohesive and now we're not" should be looking at this, as the transition is a crisis-level problem. But PG seems to have a persistent blind spot about it. The same blind spot is common among optimistic tech-minded people because they're used to thinking "anything is possible," and I imagine "startup people" all the more so.

I hope that can-do spirit is able to make renewables replace the orgy, the buffet, the glut of energy we use and deploy today. An honest look at the problem might be a prerequisite to tackling it though. Look at the numbers (something measured in joules or watts) and it may give you pause. And given that the initiative depends so heavily on the continued existence of the current interconnected and fossil-fuel-powered industrial infrastructure, I would say, better get a move on.

Tangent/epilogue: And obviously, fucking autonomous cars are not going to fix anything, nor is any kind of car. Who fantasizes about autonomous cars when ordinary passenger rail has so much room for improvement? Californians, that's who. Hyperloop is closer to the mark, but suffers from Musk's attention-whoring narcissism and is likely to be egregiously energy-inefficient. (Since speed, not efficiency, seems to be the main design criterion.) That's enough for you to think about, I know I'm not making any friends but that's not what challenging ideas (an endangered species) are for.

dreamdu5t 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Unlike Paul's other essays, this one did not offer me any insight. WWII bringing the country together, America becoming less culturally conformative since WWII, etc... these are obvious trends that most everyone is aware of, and which people talk about quite often.
tmaly 13 hours ago 0 replies      
something not touched upon,

1 the huge pension liabilities that have been accumulated by states

2 the excess credit/currency devaluation and excesses risk taking created by central banks.

jgalt212 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Paul Graham used to be one of my heroes, now I just see him as just another fat cat apologist in the vein of Ken Langone.
jgalt212 3 hours ago 0 replies      
His arguments on taxes simply don't hold water. Income inequality is expanding because those at the very top either pay taxes much lower than all others (HF, PE, VC) or just don't pay taxes at all (AAPL).

The other problem with income inequality is simply interest rate related. If you look at all asset classes over the last 30 years, real estate gains have far outpaces every other asset class. Real estate prices are very sensitive to interest rates.

If the Fed keeps raising rates, the value of these real estate holdings will go down and well inequality will reverse itself somewhat. To do that significantly, I think we need Fed Funds at 5-6%. I don't see that happening for a long time, though.

Another longer term trend which may help wealth inequality reverse itself is global warming. The global elite own a disproportionate portion of coastal real estate. With rising ocean levels these assets will be wiped out.

thadd 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Good read. Not sure if I agree with everything, but fascinating.
pravda 17 hours ago 1 reply      
What does "Duplo" mean?

"the Duplo economy" "Duplo world"

matchagaucho 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally, a PG essay returning to true form.
Thomas_Lord 15 hours ago 1 reply      
A lot of this essay seems pretty fast and loose with history to me. I hope nobody passively accepts this as an accurate account of social, economic, or governmental history from the Great Depression, through WWII, the mid-20th century, through to today.

Perhaps a ycombinator readership can appreciate a telling example of the problems is in Graham's account of IBM's decision not to exclusively license PC-DOS. Per Graham, this "must have seemed a safe move at the time. No other computer manufacturer had ever been able to outsell them. What difference did it make if other manufacturers could offer DOS too? The result of that miscalculation was an explosion of inexpensive PC clones. Microsoft now owned the PC standard, and the customer. And the microcomputer business ended up being Apple vs Microsoft."

OK, first, every indication is that IBM sought to deliberately create an explosion of inexpensive PC clones -- and that they were better off for it.

Briefly, IBM made a strategic decision that their position would be better if personal computers were a commodity with competitive suppliers rather than an artificial monopoly like Apple products. IBM achieved this aim. Competition meant that PC hardware margins were low, therefore IBM was ultimately better off letting other people make sell them. For years, this was a harsh blow to Apple which thrashed badly after the PC took off.

Second, it is misleading to say that "Microsoft now owned the PC standard, and the customer."

Microsoft has heavyweight influence but does not quite own "the PC standard". More to the point, figurative "ownership" of that standard is not a particularly valuable asset. The "standard" is the definition of a competitive commodity. Competition is hot. Therefore nobody "owns" the standard enough to exclude competing manufacturers in any significant way. Nobody "owns" the standard enough to extract significant rent on it.

Microsoft did gain a monopoly on DOS (then Windows) rents in the deal but (a) There does not seem to be any way IBM itself could have kept those rents while still making the PC a commodity; (b) Microsoft's rents on DOS and its control of what is in DOS have never once hurt IBM. (c) Microsoft's creation of a vast market of developers targeting DOS then Windows platforms has only helped IBM.

In short, Graham's snapshot of that bit of history is just plain counter-factual. I hope careful readers will look pretty skeptically on his accounts of "socialism", economic management during WWII (which was widely understood at the time to be fascist, not socialist), the typical experience of 20th century employment (not nearly as described), his armchair sociology....

clamprecht 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I love that The Refragmentation references Economic Inequality, and Economic Inequality references The Refragmentation.
graycat 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Very nicely done. Awash in insight about the past and likely also about the future.

Should connect with the role of social media.

In particular, explains much of why the heck I, first, got a technical Ph.D. and then became an entrepreneur.

Did I mention very nicely done and full of good insight.

Gee, all that time people spent in courses in history, economics, political science, B-school, and STEM field education, and the really good stuff is right there in PG's essay!

ZenoArrow 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed the article, and found it an interesting point of view for the most part. However, I don't agree with this...

> "The form of fragmentation people worry most about lately is economic inequality, and if you want to eliminate that you're up against a truly formidable headwindone that has been in operation since the stone age: technology. Technology is a lever. It magnifies work. And the lever not only grows increasingly long, but the rate at which it grows is itself increasing."

Tackling inequality has nothing to do with technology. Let's put it like this, we have a minimum wage already, the balancing force with regards to economic inequality would be a maximum wage. There are no technological issues blocking a maximum wage, it's just a matter of political will.

lifeisstillgood 15 hours ago 0 replies      
weirdly this is the most useful insight to me of a insightful article

[6] I wonder how much of the decline in families eating together was due to the decline in families watching TV together afterward

venomsnake 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I think that the field in US in urgent need of refragmentation is the political systems. The two parties are oligopol that don't care about their customers and they don't deliver enough political product to the people. We need more smaller parties that could represent the increasing diversity of opinions.
kenjackson 23 hours ago 8 replies      
A tldr on this one would actually be appreciated. :-
jonathanwallace 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Shallow comment with no provided insight.


I read the comments on HN looking for the dissenting view as that's where I often appreciate the most value. I'd love to see you expand upon your reason for both disappointment and then provide some concrete counter examples that highlight Paul's lack of historical rigor.

Which of my comments do you prefer? (Note: I prefer the latter. Since you're the only dissenting view I've seen so far, I'm asking you to expound if you would, please.)

Why Age of Empires 2 is still growing rockpapershotgun.com
391 points by cpeterso   ago   92 comments top 30
brownbat 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Each entry in that series tells you something about the history of gaming at the time. AOE1 made some great innovations in order to handle "1500 archers at 28.8kbps."[0] Conquerers was the dawn of expansions and ultimately DLC.

AoE Online had a bunch of interesting ideas, letting players customize their civilizations ala MMORPGs or MOBAs. Interesting quests too, and good coop for the story mode, something I've always wanted RTS games to pull off better.

They did not need to make it an actual MMO with central servers though, and because it never attracted a playerbase / they couldn't monetize it, it was killed off (meaning completely unplayable) in a pretty short time frame. This seems pretty typical for games of today though, tying them to a central server for an unnecessary social or data tracking layer, dooming them to die in a few years when the income slows down a bit.

AOE2 was privileged to come from a time where installing a game meant you owned it, and you could probably play it with your kids. Maybe you could even take it apart and rebuild it better. We're living in a world now where a lot of games are ephemeral, the world may have no idea what it's like to play them after a few years, once the servers are shut down to run something newer.

[0] http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/131503/1500_archers_on...

thejj 15 hours ago 3 replies      
I'd like to remind you that there's openage, a free engine for Age of Empires 2.


It will be the future if you wanna accomplish things the original engine is incapable of doing, especially a sane mod API.

Help us make it more awesome :)

pm90 16 hours ago 1 reply      
AoE 2 in likely the most engaging strategy game I've ever played. I got rather involved in it in college, but was surprised that there were certain "basic strategies" that one had to follow to hope to even survive (e.g. getting to castle age within a certain time for a certain civilization). With the voobly client, its possible to challenge aoe players across the world for a game, and its kinda awesome to cooperate and deal with the mess that comes from playing an RTS game at that level.

Probably true for most strategy games, but aoe seems light enough (requirements wise) and has a great enough balance (and the fact that the game is almost freely available worldwide) enables anyone with a computer with a decent internet connection to play.

necessity 3 hours ago 1 reply      
As an active player since forever, Steam has ruined this game. It's full of bugs from 1999 and a whole lot new ones -- currently the lobby won't list games, you have to use a third party website. There is a pinned thread on Steam's support forums for a variety of bugs that are common to a lot of players (and the solutions don't always work), there are horrendous net issues ("Waiting for players", "Out of sync"), etc. I just don't play on Steam anymore.

Voobly, an unofficial platform similar to Gameranger, + mod community and tournament organizer, has a very active player base, including most of the top players in the game. It has it's own HD patch and several improvements not present in Steam. It's impressive how an unofficial, unsupported, free plataform can be light years ahead of the billionaires at the Valve/Microsoft partnership.

johnloeber 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I've played a great deal of AoE2. Here are some comments:

* The two new expansions are nice. The developers have done an excellent job at maintaining the balance of the game and not pushing any outlandish changes. (After all, the game thrives on a nostalgia factor.) However, it's apparent that it comes from a tiny dev studio. Releases are usually littered with bugs and playability issues. This is a great shame, because they manage to garner significant hype and excitement, only for the release day to be somewhat frustrating for most players.

* In fact, due to the small size of the dev team, there usually is a long turnaround period on fixing smaller gameplay issues. This means that most of the more invested players, who are more easily irritated than the casual players, use other, older, more established clients to play the game, where the new expansions are not available. Indeed, the new expansions, while very similar in spirit to the 13-year-old expansions, change the metagame so significantly that at the competitive level, only the 13-year old expansion is played. This deeply fragments the player base. The new expansions, and AoE2 on Steam in general, are mostly played by newcomers.

* It's very difficult to get the advanced players to take the expansions seriously because the competitive scene has been basically unchanged for about fifteen years. As such, the theoretical metagame has been nearly perfected, and the random components in game generation do not make a difference to the point of needing true improvisational play. Competitive players have spent months, if not years, carefully practicing minutely differing iterations of the same game scenarios. I've seen professional players end games over early-game mistakes that an intermediate player might not even notice. I consider it a little similar to chess, in the sense that the metagame/opening theory is so well explored that the game can rarely be considered improvisational, but is more like a ballet performance: an extremely well-studied routine that has to be executed as perfectly as possible (which, by the way, means above 400 actions per minute for a top player). Considering the immense amount of study that has gone into the game, and the even larger amount of practice required to become truly good, it is clear that most competitive players would rather keep spending their time on the old game, as opposed to on the new expansions -- the latter would necessitate a great amount of exploration of new strategies, and a similarly enormous amount of practice.

JoshGlazebrook 16 hours ago 5 replies      
Age of Mythology is still one of my favorite games ever. What made it fun is not the real time strategy, but the custom scenario maps that people could create. This wasn't just the terrain, but the mechanics of the maps themselves. It was part "programming" as well as part design.

The multiplayer servers are still online, but the certificate expired years ago. You can force AOM to connect to them with fiddler2, but you have to have an existing account.

But now there is the steam re-release, and of course Voobly/GameRanger for the original release, but the steam version is full of bugs that have not been fixed in over a year.

fouadf 17 hours ago 4 replies      
If you're a fan of age of empires 2, you should definitely try 0ad http://play0ad.com it's open source and multiplatform
snydly 16 hours ago 4 replies      
One of the greatest breakthroughs of my life was realizing that you only had to type "cheese steak jimmy's" once, then ctrl-c, then ctrl-v as much as you want. It was a great day.
ndesaulniers 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I still play a ton of Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, which is just a Star Wars re-skin of AoE2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_Galactic_Battlegrou...
xerography 4 hours ago 0 replies      
AoE II HD [1] and AoE II HD: The Forgotten [2] are currently on 80% discount holiday sale on Steam.

Offer ends in 29 hours and 15 minutes as of this writing.

[1]: http://store.steampowered.com/app/221380

[2]: http://store.steampowered.com/app/239550

andygrunwald 16 hours ago 2 replies      
AoE is great. I was so happy after they released the HD release. The bad part is that there is no native MacOSX version available :(
cwbrandsma 16 hours ago 0 replies      
As I'm reading this my 14 year old daughter and my 12 year old son are playing a game while discussing strategies and having a blast.
OSButler 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing I like so much about it are the different civilizations, which come with their own unique language and music.It's a minor detail and helps a bit with the immersion, compared to just a simple paint job to differentiate between them.
verelo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've wanted to play this on iOS for so long! Very frustrating to see it Windows only still :-( If anyone from MS is here, please please please consider compiling this for iOS, I know a lot of people who would buy it.

I believe OpenAge is cross platform, but sadly most friends all use the version they purchased on Steam.

tomphoolery 15 hours ago 0 replies      
TIL people sitll play AoE 2! I used to play this game all the time at the all-night LAN parties my friends hosted. It was great because the graphics weren't so crazy that literally anyone could play it, so it always commanded the largest amounts of players, other than Counter-Strike: Source.
mrsuprawsm 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved the original Age of Empires (+ Rise of Rome), I remember asking a friend who was lucky enough to have a CD writer at the time to copy it for me; probably the first game I ever pirated.

AOE2 HD on Steam is great fun, I've really enjoyed playing it over LAN with friends (and online, although the competition is much harder).

Unfortunately a reasonable percentage of games run into unrecoverable issues with the netcode - clients lagging out and going out of sync. It's a real shame and I hope the devs get some time to focus on this, especially now that 2 expansions are out.

rmm 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Played a LOT of AOE2 back in the day.

However, I was always more of a fan of AoE1 RoR expansion. Anyone else? Something about the brutal simplicity of it, made it much more fun for me and my friends?

Would love to see that "HD'ified"!

TulliusCicero 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Neat. Man, I'd love to see this happen to Starcraft 1.
praetorian84 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Can we get an AoE 4 already?
Houshalter 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I have just started playing AoE2 again. I have some complaints.

The units are so stupid and frustrating. They will casually walk into the range of enemy castles and towers. They will chase units across the map if you don't put them into defensive mode. If you do put them into defensive mode, they can easily be take out by archers without fighting back. They will open gates and let hordes of enemies into your town. They will stand there and continue cutting wood while an enemy army approaches them and kills their coworkers. The monks won't attack units unless you specifically order them to. Etc, etc. It makes parts of the game very tedious and unenjoyable.

The campaigns are similarly tedious. At first it's really fun and challenging, if you have the difficulty right. It's a challenge to figure out how to repel the big attacks and build up very quickly.

But after building up, it's no longer a challenge. And to win, you just need to spend an hour clicking through the enemies base destroying their structures. Even though you basically won an hour ago.

The multiplayer is terrifying. I tried it once and within like 10 minutes my opponent had surrounded my base with cannon towers and trebuchets. I haven't played it since.

The AI scripting is really cool. It's super simple to learn, very easy to modify other people's scripts, and very powerful. You can do a lot with just a few lines of their domain specific language. And you don't need any programming knowledge at all. And it's very extensive. There are tons of variables and functions available that let you do all kinds of things, and it's well documented.

But it's also extremely restricted. You can't do basic things like store variables, compare numbers, etc. There are arbitrary limits on how many conditions you can have in a conditional, how many lines you can have total, etc. They are workable, but I have no idea why they are even there. The only people modifying AI scripts in the first place are probably willing to accept if the game runs a bit slower because of all the extra code they put in it.

There's also no way to speed up the game. You only get "slow", "normal", or "fast". You need to use Cheat Engine to make the game run a hundred times faster. This is necessary for testing those AI scripts, or getting through those tedious offensive parts I mentioned above. They should have just let it be an option in the game.

Same with other variables like population limit, that's restricted to 200 for no reason. If I want a higher limit, I'll accept that the game runs slower. Just let it be an option, even in a hidden menu with a big warning or something. TBF, the new HD edition does let you go up to 500 IIRC.

Merem 13 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who plays AoE2 from time to time on Voobly, I consider this and the HD versions to be complete separate games, simply for the fact that said expansions are for the HD release but not the original one (original mod aside). So people like me are by these releases completely unaffected.
mgr86 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I played a lot of aoe I and some 2 as a kid. Nearly 30 now and have not so much time for gaming. But the online streaming community is impressive and the skill level is high. Also there was a 120k tournament last year for a 15 year old game. It's very impressive.
arjn 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Have been playing AoE on and off for a while now. Still like the game. Wish I had more time to play it.It has certain playing qualities that hold one's interest over time. Even when compared to other more modern games.
baldfat 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I use to play AoE 2 as UConnBBall and wrote for MrFixItOnline. Sadly the website just came down a few years ago. It was an awesome run with that game for me.
Aqwis 16 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing I'd like to see improved is the unit AI, which is frustratingly poor. This would probably annoy some serious multiplayers, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
mhuangw 16 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my favorite strategy games growing up. It also encouraged a healthy interest in history that persists today.
rietta 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh! I loved that game as a teenager. Actually, the first one even more so.
wnevets 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I could never get into aoe2 after playing aoe rise of rome for so long.
bronz 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out Feudal Wars. It's really cool.


anfroid555 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Number one choice for Erlang ide
How app makers feed the validation needs of teenagers nytimes.com
46 points by randycupertino   ago   26 comments top 4
randycupertino 11 hours ago 3 replies      
As the uncle of three teenage nieces, this article hit home for me. It's a look at some of the elaborate rules teenagers have created on how to use apps like Snapchat and Instagram to maintain their self-image and what it means to get insufficient likes.

It's amazing how mean I see girls being to my 15 year old niece on Instagram. Their little meangirl phrase is "tbh" - short for "to be honest." So they're write something nice, then "tbh" and then something mean. It goes like this, "you're a sweet girl but tbh your new backpack is kinda ratchet" or "your hair is beautiful but tbh u r slutty." Or whatever... I told my sister about this and she locked down her insta but she still gets random comments like this all the time. They all do.

Getting likes weighs on my neices 24/7. They were complaining when I took them to Star Wars that their insta photograph of them kissing yoda "only" got 15 likes.... and were considering deleting it! Because only 15 likes is about 30 too few likes.

hellbanTHIS 5 hours ago 4 replies      
This is the first I've heard of Wishbone, which seems pretty harmless but Instagram is one of the most toxic internet substances out there at the moment poisoning our collective psyche. I think it should be fucking destroyed.
revelation 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This article seems to equate teenagers with teenager girls.
rvikmanis 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is ridiculous.
Bing Goes Full-On Censorship in English Search Results Within China thenanfang.com
193 points by jhonovich   ago   47 comments top 13
joolze 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Same with Yahoo in the past week. I think about new years eve the search results suddenly shifted to what they should look like using a Chinese only training set.

Results were all Xinhua and such, wikipedia, imdb, etc are no longer results numbers 1, 2, 3 anymore instead seeing a lot of qq, baidu, xiami etc results for song lyrics, movies, etc.

But it seems to be closer to normal today.

The normal internet speed has been maybe halved or thirded since about the week before Christmas, VPNs are all sketchy, there seems to be a regular interval when all connection is cut for a short time. You see pings oscillate between 40 and 400 ms quite regularly.

Chinese domains are always rock solid though. Can stream music off qq or xiami or stream youku without issue for extended periods of time when ycombinator, bbc news, etc are down. Yahoo and Bing stay up when most western sites are down.

However haven't been seeing as much total blockage as usual when they kick up the security. Lots of social sites that usually go black for a week or two are up just fine.

blisterpeanuts 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This would be a powerful argument against turning over ICANN's responsibilities to an international agency (i.e. an agency dominated by authoritarian governments like China). I hope the EFF and other advocates of a free, borderless Internet will take notice.

Who knows, maybe Microsoft did this on purpose as a not-so-subtle hint of what's to come.

oneJob 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks programmers! Wouldn't have been possible without you!!
yzh 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I cannot believe after all these years China is still banning the whole site instead of using some keyword or content-based method. Not that those methods are right, but at least it would save a lot of programmers and researchers time. How can people make progress on anything related to scientific research without the help of Wikipedia? seven years ago I was a college student in China and I sure remembered how I have to set up VPN to check on wikipedia pages for my thesis. And needless to say, the school doesn't have the up-to-date paper collection from either IEEE or ACM. I have to directly visit the author's sites. I really wish the government could realize how harmful this is to innovation...
bitmapbrother 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The things Bing will do for market share. I recall they even paid people to use it at one time. I wonder why they still continue to operate in China. They'll never be a factor in China, but are more than happy to bend over backwards to serve state sponsored results for their pittance percentage of search engine market share.
privong 15 hours ago 1 reply      
A more accurate title might be "Bing tries full-on censorship..". The author of the post notes:

> This isnt happening anymore (as of January 2), but well keep checking to see if any further changes are made.

But it's worrying that Bing seems to have enacted censorship (maybe they pushed a change to production too early and rolled it back?). Certainly something to keep an eye on.

benmarten 15 hours ago 2 replies      
I am trying to understand what the purpose of this blockade is?By the way here is a great talk about how the Great Firewall works https://media.ccc.de/v/32c3-7196-how_the_great_firewall_disc... by CCC the biggest European Computer Club ;)
Animats 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if someone at Bing, ordered to do that, deliberately overdid it to make it clear Bing was censoring.
ck2 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
If you want to de-index yourself from Chinese spammers, just put "tank man" on your pages.
akerro 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Search engine show what they want you to see. It's no longer search results.
yyhhsj0521 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Can't help laughing upon the "USA" to "About us" :-
mtgx 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It's not just China:


I still remember when Google exited China and Microsoft tried to take advantage of that by being an even bigger lapdog than it was before to the Chinese government. Unfortunately for Microsoft, that didn't even work in gaining it more market share, so it may have been trying to please its Chinese masters for nothing:


Of course, when Google got hacked back in 2010, it was through its own voluntarily setup PRISM-like access point for the NSA, so I guess there are no "innocent" parties here. It's still disappointing to see these companies making it easier for governments to control/arrest/assassinate their citizens through censorship and surveillance. Hopefully history will not look with favor upon these actions (although IBM still seems to be doing pretty well decades later after its Nazi genocide collaboration and Cisco is still making a lot of money after starting to sell surveillance-enabled routers in China and worldwide many years ago).

incepted 12 hours ago 4 replies      
All companies doing business in a country have to abide by the laws of that country. What's the big deal?

If anything, I'm surprised to learn it wasn't already the case.

Netflix is on F***ing Fire medium.com
86 points by mcnabj   ago   85 comments top 25
cm2187 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Don't know if the catalogue is the same here in the UK than in the US, but in the UK Netflix is only good for TV shows. The movie offering is very light. The other thing is the lack of offline viewing, which is useful when travelling.

The media industry is so backward. I can't believe most of them still live in the 90s and these problems haven't been solved yet.

fredley 2 hours ago 6 replies      
Brit here wondering how this shift within the industry will affect the BBC. We own a screen, Netflix subscription and Chromecast, and do not pay for a TV License. While this setup is not even remotely commonplace yet, it could be a real threat over the next decade, especially as iPlayer usage is free without owning a License.

I would like to see the TV License flipped on its head: you pay a subscription that gets you access to everything the BBC offers, except what they broadcast live (and maybe online news), which you get for free (the exact opposite of how they charge now).

A much better proposal for the streaming generation, essentially a tax-cut for the older generation, and none of the nasty TV License policing issues.

buro9 15 minutes ago 1 reply      
Netflix has it easy on content production, all they need do is fill evening TV viewing for a younger generation, and content that can be put in front of children.

They do not have the overhead of filling 24 hours a day with new content, Netflix is all killer no filler in terms of content production.

And it turns out, that that's only a few hundred hours of TV per viewer per year, many of whom belong to those same small demographic groups that share great overlap in interest.

BTW, I'm really glad they turned down Top Gear whilst at the same time producing shows like Jessica Jones. One seems so dated and a decade ago whilst the other feels now or from the future.

je42 2 hours ago 1 reply      
In addition to it; netflix actually knows that when you watch a series you don't care about already seen episodes. Good old TV never really labeled episodes correctly and is a pain to use when you are just interested in the next you haven't seen.In netflix it is painless.Yes, the feature is simple, but still I value it every time i can just watch the next episode ( or pick up where left in the middle of the episode).
nebulous1 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
While I think it's pretty f*ing obvious that traditional TV channels are going to be in a lot of trouble in the years to come, I couldn't verify his statement that "Netflix now produces 3 of the top 5 rated video series according to Rotten Tomatoes". I did find the exact list he posted under "Top TV Comedies"


Also, on their "Top 10 TV Shows 2015", I only see two Netflix shows in places 8 and 9 on the list.

Netflix do produce some top quality shows, but the aren't currently killing it as much as the author claims.

stonogo 2 hours ago 2 replies      
What is the purpose of this article? Was it really some random person SO EXCITED about a video streaming company? I struggle to find a thesis here. Do people need an entire essay that just says "Netflix is making money and producing content"?
lostcolony 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Another interesting thing to see is the response by a lot of those inside the television content industry.

Many of the companies that produce content are retooling and reorganizing specifically to deliver that content over the internet. None of them want to use Netflix, instead wanting their own service, but the growth of such streaming services has emboldened them. They both see that it's possible to go directly to consumer, -and- that it will be necessary at some point in the future, as the increase in cord cutters means less money on the incumbent TV providers to pay them with in contract negotiations. They realize they either are looking at ever dwindling fees, and thus, dwindling business, or they have to be able to circumvent the existing distributors.

So it's not just that Netflix is managing to create great content; its mere existence is leading to much of the content that TV distributors currently have a stranglehold on to be distributed directly by the content company.

kabdib 4 minutes ago 1 reply      
... and data caps will put it out.

Serious question: Would nationalizing Comcast fix anything, or make it worse?

mark_l_watson 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We are huge Netflix fans (my wife and I have our own streaming accounts, which is stupid now since they offer family options for separating play lists). That said, I think that Hulu Prime, the version without commercials, is also a fine product and Hulu is owned by the large network stations.

We get Amazon Prime free shipping via my brother's business so we have not signed up ourselves and don't get the free Amazon Prime content which friends and family members say is amazing.

The thing is: there is so much good content that it is fine, at least for me, to not have access to everything.

Another distribution model that I like is Google Play Movies and TV. It is a little pricy but I wanted to watch the Worricker Triliogy (fantastic!!) the the new scifi Expanse and it was so very convenient simply buying both series and watching them anytime on any device. If the cost was a little less, and if Google Play had most content, I think that I could be happy with a completely a la cart pay per view experience.

A suggestion for anyone working in this industry: when content is rented, offer a purchase option that is valid for a week. Sometimes I have rented movies and liked them enough that I would pay the difference to own permanent viewing rights.

in_cahoots 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looking at the top series, they're all semi-obscure or obscure, early seasons of very new shows. This means they follow some key trends: obscure things typically have higher ratings in general than the mainstream, because you're unlikely to hear about them / watch them if you're not already in some narrow niche. Compare that to something like The Big Bang Theory, where people watch it just because it's on.

Ratings also tend to go down as a show matures, both as the quality and novelty drop off (even The Wire has its critics of the last season) and as the show is exposed to a wider audience.

Taking this into account, I don't think user ratings are the best measure of a show's appeal.

petersouth 15 minutes ago 2 replies      
Does anybody worry that people will just subscribe for one month out of the year and watch everything and then cancel?
towb 2 hours ago 1 reply      
And Netflix is the only source of UHD, at least in my parts of the world. Which made me pay them even more for that subscription now when I bought a UHD TV last week. Oh, and I just ended my good old regular cable subscription one month ago.
vermontdevil 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The key is how are the younger generation consuming tv content? My daughter and all her friends love YouTube, Netflix, etc. They don't bother with cable.

That's where the future is heading, me thinks. And yes I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc. Sure the cost pretty much equals what I would pay for cable but I prefer this way.

soneca 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't think online reviews are a good reference for TV shows. My impression is that, different of movies, only fans do reviews. So the average TV show rating is much higher than for movies.

And I also have the impression that Netflix shows have a stronger "fan review only" effect, as you must be proactive to start watching that show on the first place.

Another effect is that for movies, after you decide to watch it is easier to get to the end even if you are not liking (more so if you are on a theater). So most people watched 100% of the content. If you don't like a show, you do not pass the first episode. So if you did not watched more than 10% of content, I assume you won't feel confortable with giving a negative review.

So that is why I dont trust reviews for TV shows

ascendantlogic 2 hours ago 3 replies      
So here's the catch 22. The Hollywood content producers and deliverers won't just sit back and let Netflix and Amazon eat their entire lunch. They will fight back, and presumably with their own streaming services. So we will have a proliferation (more so than now) of services to get specific content through. Usually this is a good thing. People want choice and choice breeds competition which is good for consumers. However in this instance most people I know, myself included, just want one streaming service to subscribe to so it's not such a hassle. But wishing for that is like wishing for Hitler to be replaced with Stalin. It will end poorly with just another monopoly taking the place of the old.
aprdm 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Netflix content is indeed amazing, Narcos is my favourite show by far, house of cards and others are also top notch.

In the beginning I was always wishing that Netflix would get famous TV shows/ new movies to the platform ASAP.

Now a days I really want to see more of their own content in the platform instead.

joakleaf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wonder if ratings are higher because viewers don't have to endure annoying commercials?

To me, the absence of commercials definitely makes the experience far more enjoyable, and I can better relate to the stories and characters when the experience isn't constantly interrupted.

k__ 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Mom: "We got Sky now, so many channels and we get the newest Soccer and Movies!"

GF: "Oh nice... so where can I choose the movies?"

Mom: "You select the movie channel at 20:15 and it shows it"

GF: "What? I that's in four hours! Who pays a company to wait? This sounds like Netflix in bad to me..."

Classic cable TV is basically dead.

First Netflix&co had better airing times (on demand, haha) and now they invest in better shows.

Besides Rick and Morty and Game of Thrones, every show I watched last year, was made by Netflix or Amazon.

And this seems to be a good thing. Just look at stuff like orange is the new black. These new producers are far less conservative than the old media companies.

rdlecler1 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Other than a few good streaming shows you're left with the leftover movies that the studios are willing to license to them. Most of the good stuff you have to get through other means. Sometimes I miss blockbuster.
brownbat 1 hour ago 1 reply      
They spent the last 10 years conducting massive studies of what people like to watch.

If they weren't able to come up with some hits after that, then they weren't trying.

Somewhere behind the scenes, Netflix is applying sabermetrics to Hollywood.

Except it's worse than in baseball... Unlike Oakland, all their competitors (except maybe Amazon) can't just copy their approach, because all their data is private, not public.

kriro 1 hour ago 2 replies      
It'll get interesting when they make the first play for sports rights. Not because I think it's necessary or anything but that would be a pretty strong signal for the general audience that the paradigm has shifted.I think streaming quality isn't quite there yet but there's plenty of not super premium content they could try.
api 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Hollywood is ripe for disruption. They remind me of the old 1970s auto industry: fat, happy, and stagnant. They don't do "plot" anymore, churning out nothing but totally formulaic rehashes and reboots and franchise flicks. I don't think viewers are as dumb as Hollywood thinks. Hollywood gets away with this schlock because they have little competition at the high end of film making.

Netflix can do what the Japanese autos did: start at the lower end with good but inexpensive TV shows and then eat up the value chain until they are producing blockbuster flicks of superior quality at a lower price. Give me a great blockbuster movie with an actual plot and actual dramatic tension and it's game over.

mbrutsch 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Sadly, half those shows are not actually available on Netflix.
chris_wot 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm an Australian. I barely watch television any more. The TV Networks have basically screwed over Australians for a long time. We don't get the same content at the same time as the rest of the world, it gets shown out of order and at times they even missed entire episodes.

The only thing that the TV networks might have had going was to produce their own drama. They didn't - they just produced home improvement shows in the 90s, and really bad reality TV in the 2000s. Very little in the way of drama, and what was created was dross.

So, goodbye TV! Hello Netflix!

ck2 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As long as netflix can dump cash to generate quality original content they will have great success.

Redbox likes to advertise "not on netflix for years" on certain titles.

And they are right.

For someone who never goes to theaters like me, I hope redbox stays in business.

Disque 1.0 RC1 is out antirez.com
260 points by antirez   ago   48 comments top 9
kevan 19 hours ago 2 replies      
> However Im not living into the illusion that I got everything right in the first release, so it will take months (or years?) of iteration to really reach the operational simplicity Im targeting.

It's always refreshing to hear such good programmers acknowledging how hard building complex systems is.

lobster_johnson 22 hours ago 5 replies      
Disque is definitely exciting, and looks like it can replace RabbitMQ, which has serious flaws in its clustering design. I'm looking forward to trying it out.

However, if some constructive criticism is permitted, I have to say that, having written distributed applications for many years, I have come to dislike the "classical" push/pop queue data model:

* Acking is a bad idea. It requires the broker to manage a lot of state, including locking and timeouts.

* Re-queuing invalidates total ordering.

* On the performance side, parallel distributed queue consumption (which also breaks total ordering) is directly at odds with this model.

* Queues as opaque objects you can only inspect by popping the top message, and you cannot access older, dequeued messages. Fortunately, Disque allows you to read the entire queue without mutating it, but it doesn't look like you can read old messages.

* Complicated queue topologies (fanouts, dead letter queues, etc.) become a logical necessity of the strict FIFO structure. (These topologies need to be declared every time the client starts up, and introduces the possibility of schema conflicts.)

* Logical de-duping is probably not possible.

Apache Kafka gets the data model right. It wisely acknowledges that queues are linear and should stay that way: In Kafka, queues are strictly append-only logs where every consumer has a cursor to the last position it read. In this model, many of the classical concerns melt away: Acks/nacks are unnecessary (consumers simply "commit" their position); total ordering is always preserved (since the queue cannot be reordered) and parallelism is made explicit (through named partitions); de-duping is trivial, and complicated topologies are largely eliminated (AMQP-type "exchanges" that fan out to separate queues are unnecessary because multiple readers can all consume the same queue without changing it, as their position is independent of the queue); and you get to choose either at-most-once or at-least-once delivery consistency by how carefully you manage your offset.

Since logs are strictly linear, you are also given the choice of how much history to keep all of it, if you want which opens up some interesting use cases that are not possible with classical brokers.

Kafka isn't perfect. It's a huge pain if you're not in Java land. There are no modern, mature "high-level" client implementations for Go, Ruby or Node.js. Its reliance on the JVM and on ZooKeeper makes it fairly heavyweight, both on the server and on the consumer side (the new API for broker-stored offsets simplifies things, but non-Java clients are far behind). I would really love to have a lighter-weight, language-agnostic Kafka-like implementation without the Java baggage.

Last point: The fact that Disque calls its messages "jobs" makes me a little disappointed that it is, in fact, not a job management system. I'd love a solid, distributed job manager.

bipin_nag 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Looking forward to Aphyr's Call Me Maybe for Disque.
navaneethkn 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks interesting!

Currently, we have a huge background processing system built using Sidekiq backed by Redis. The biggest problem we are facing today is to run machines with lot of in-memory storage because jobs are queued to Redis and Redis works in-memory. These machines costs a lot.

I think the same issue will happen even here because this is also in-memory store and persistence works like how Redis handles it.

yowmamasita 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Q: Can I use this on top of any non-ACID-compliant database to avoid race conditions?
willcodeforfoo 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat, love reading antirez's posts and the README for this is amazing.
Dowwie 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is exciting. Disque is intended to replace redis in celery (python). I'm looking forward to using it!
leeoniya 18 hours ago 1 reply      
good question in the blog's comments:

How is this compared to 0mq or nanomsg?

vdfs 22 hours ago 4 replies      
Is there a product-ready alternative to Disque?
FreeBSD on the raspberry pi github.com
109 points by zyngaro   ago   34 comments top 5
anotherhue 14 hours ago 4 replies      
I run FreeBSD and ZFS on my RPi-B as a cheap and cheerful destination for remote zfs send replication.

I wrote up a guide: https://github.com/hughobrien/zfs-remote-mirror

xerography 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The title of this post -- "FreeBSD on the raspberry pi" -- is not very descriptive. The title seems to imply that running on the Raspberry Pi is news, which it's not, as myself or anyone else already running FreeBSD on our Pi can attest to. I'd suggest changing the title to "Patch posted to have FreeBSD use armv6hf target arch by default for the Raspberry Pi" -- however, someone just commented on the Pull Request:

>armv6 is already hard float, all armv6hf gives you is it will pass floating-point data to functions in floating-point registers. I also expect that armv6 will be using the hard float ABI soon (within a month) an at this time armv6hf will be removed.

So maybe just remove the post all together?

mvanotti 16 hours ago 4 replies      
My biggest problem with fbsd in the rpi is that it's really hard to cross-compile ports for arm, and compiling everything in the rpi takes a lot of time (I think it was half a day to compile tmux in the rpi A).
bcook 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I yearn for embedded *BSD routers.
markhahn 16 hours ago 2 replies      
to anyone who cares: why?
Zopfli Optimization: Literally Free Bandwidth codinghorror.com
169 points by temp   ago   60 comments top 15
roeme 18 hours ago 8 replies      
Somewhat OT; As a swiss, the omitted is really beginning to bug me.

It's Zpfli. Gopferteckel.

(The second word is a somewhat soft cuss word - But don't try to use it as a non-native).

Also, you can't "zopfli" something - it's a noun! You "zpf" - or, since we're in the alemannic german space; "zpfle".

/rant /vent

millstone 16 hours ago 3 replies      
> It's a smaller file to send over the wire, and the smaller the file, the faster the decompression.

Can someone elaborate on this? Why do smaller files decompress faster?

> However, remember that decompression is still the same speed, and totally safe

Wait, what? Didn't we just establish that it's faster to decompress?

arcameron 19 hours ago 5 replies      
Regarding the avatar images:

Why not a <div> with a border-radius & background color? Seems you could achieve the same thing without another HTTP request (1 for each unique avatar), no need to zopfli 45,000 unique files.

HeyImAlex 16 hours ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested in PNG optimization in general, a wrote an article about it a while back. The deflate step is only one part of it!


callumjones 17 hours ago 1 reply      
You could probably have a worker system that eventually produces a Zopfli compressed file.

User uploads a provided PNG, you perform the quickest compression compression but then queue up a Zopfli compression. Up front you're only returning the less compressed file but after time you begin serving up the lesser bandwidth file.

If the uploaded file or associated post is deleted then you can wipe it from the queue.

Rygu 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's not even just about bandwidth. You're reducing page load time, and therefore increasing revenue. http://www.fastcompany.com/1825005/how-one-second-could-cost...

If you're a designer/developer on Mac I would strongly recommend ImageOptim (https://imageoptim.com/). It supports Zopfli and has a simple drag-n-drop user interface.

jonsneyers 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The original PNG of that PBF comic is 671,012 bytes.ZopfliPNG crunches it down to 585,117 bytes.

Not bad, but if you use newer image formats, you can do better.

Lossless WebP brings it down to 429,696 bytes (using -lossless -m 6 -q 100)

FLIF with default options (which means interlaced for progressive decoding) takes it down to 322,858 bytes.Non-interlaced FLIF reduces it further to 302,551 bytes.

eridius 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Are the reported Zopfli numbers for PNGs achieved by recompressing the original, or by recompressing the output of PNGout? The wikipedia page for PNGout says

> PNGOUT also performs automatic bit depth, color, and palette reduction where appropriate.

Assuming the Zopfli numbers were created by recompressing the original, I wonder if there's any further savings to be had by recompressing the output of PNGout?

Alternatively, PNGcrush can also do the same sort of lossless bit depth and palette reduction, so I'd be curious about the combination of PNGcrush + Zopfli as well.

legulere 18 hours ago 2 replies      
And you could save even more bandwidth if you changed the PNG standard to also allow Brotli compression. Even more probably if you created a better file format.

That's not free anymore, but it's technologically easily possible to drastically reduce the amount of resources we use. What holds us back is that it's hard to get other people to do stuff like supporting new file formats or even have a better output in their image manipulation program.

leni536 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> ~250 color schemes

Theoretically one could use one of the indexed PNG formats and only change the palette. I don't think that those avatar images use too much number of colors (even with anti-aliasing) so 8 bit indexed PNG should be more than enough.

jzelinskie 16 hours ago 1 reply      
His example use case seems a little contrived. We have a similar default avatar at Quay.io, but we handle it all client-side with CSS. There's some more free bandwidth!
sandGorgon 10 hours ago 1 reply      
the lions share of image creation these days happens on the mobile. and I cant seem to find a Zopfli library for android. I wonder why - is it too heavy duty for a mobile CPU ?
Qwertious 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds like there should be a system to JIT images with this.
ck2 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Batch files which go though all the tools and find the smallest sizes for various images and .gz files


Personally I've found this tool is faster and does a better job than most others and it's free:


jMyles 19 hours ago 1 reply      
> it's about as close as it gets to literally free bandwidth in our line of work.

Listen, I'm all about inventive ways to lighten the yoke of static media on the web today.

But, in two important ways, this is not "literally free bandwidth":

1) The weaker: Despite the tone of obviousness in this article, it acknowledges that the choice of which technology to use is not made for you: there are edge cases where other methodologies are indeed superior. So, far from being free, these sorts of solution do have a time cost.

2) The stronger: We live in a world where, on a great day, the user's realized downstream bandwidth is 20% their LAN connection; their upstream 5% or less.

Connecting to a next-door neighbor via a conventional web application served through a typical corporate ISP probably means pushing packets a thousand miles or more, only for them to come back into our community.

Complicating this issue: our name service and certificate distribution are implemented in a way that is reasonably called "incorrect."

Our ISPs have a "speak when spoken to mentality" about connectivity, and competition is rare.

A solution bragging "literally free bandwidth" needs to service this concern - let me transfer a piece of media to a next door neighbor utilizing the other 95% of my network interface upstream capacity. That I'll call free bandwidth.

Happy people dont leave jobs they love randsinrepose.com
334 points by BerislavLopac   ago   115 comments top 33
sandworm101 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Happy people leave jobs they love all the time. Not everyone is an in-demand tech genius with no life outside their career. Not everyone has a buddy at another company who can promise a job. People leave jobs they love every day not because they want to, but because they have to.

Real people have real families. Kids grow. Parents age. Sisters have car accidents. Dogs rip their ACLs. At any moment any realworld person may have to walk away from the job they love to accommodate the needs of a family member. Maybe they need to go to a higher-paying job (if they are lucky) but more realistically they need a job at a different location or time so they can spend more time dealing with things totally outside the job.

Real people have real bodies. They get sick. They have heart attacks. They get devastating news from doctors. They need to spend less time at the keyboard and more time at the gym. The job you love, that you are willing to spend 24/7 working to improve, is often the job that is killing you.

Want to keep employees onboard? They want two things more than anything else: Either more money, fewer hours for the same money, or some balance between the two. That's what keeps people from leaving. It allows flexibility when that day comes that they would otherwise have to walk. Everything else is just icing on the cake.

TeMPOraL 1 day ago 7 replies      
This article implicitly assumes that the employee wanted to be in the company for life, at least initially. Which is strange, given the average life-span of a contemporary company, software or otherwise. Still, maybe if the company asks new prospects during their job interviews whether they want to stay in it forever, and rejects those who say no, this may be applicable. Otherwise, it seems a bit like an inflated sense of self importance.

You see, your company is probably not SpaceX, nor NASA. It's not pushing the frontiers of what's possible, or helping make the world a better place. That iPhone-app-cranking shop is just a marketing gig, nothing important on the face of this planet. And many people, many employees, have dreams. Or seek fulfillment, which they may not find in shipping out yet another webapp. They are in your company because it's fun to work on the problems it has - and it pays well - but that's not the extent of their dreams. Especially in this industry, where a lot of people were originally hobbyist programmers, which means tech is for them a part of life, a part of themselves, and not an otherwise uninteresting money-making skill set.

Happy people may very well leave their jobs, even if they love them, because it's unlikely that their life goals are perfectly aligned with company goals.

fsloth 1 day ago 1 reply      
"When that mail arrived gently asking you about coffee, you didnt answer the way you answered the prior five similar mails with a brief, Really happy here. Lets get a drink some time! You think you thought Hmmm what the hell. It cant hurt. What you actually thought or realized was:...(miserable past experiences)"

No, that's not me. When someone asks me for a coffee in these circumstances I go out of curiosity - it gives me an opportunity to probe the career market in an indepth way and lets me upkeep contacts.

I'm happy where I work but I do need to know my market worth and what the job market is like just in case the management three layers up decides to do something which affects my position negatively.

I'm a neurotic about things that just need to work and my familys financial situation - for which I'm greatly responsible - is one of those things.

Networking and flirting with other employers is not treachery, it's common sense.

Also, I claim there is a hell of a statistic bias going here - I bet he does not collect this information from the people who are staying and which parts of this heuristic dataset actually explain why the people who left, left. One would need to compare these factoids with the population who stayed first. I understand the need for rules of thumb of course - just as long one remembers they mighy be completely wrong.

colomon 1 day ago 1 reply      
This article (and most of the comments thus far) seems to completely ignore the fact that work might not be the only thing in your life.

As an example, seven years ago I asked my wife to leave a part-time job she loved. I was the family's main breadwinner, and spending 30 hours a week being a solo childcare provider was crushing my productivity.

She left that job. But it wasn't the job's fault in any but the most vague theoretical way, like "If they'd paid her a million dollars a year to work part time, we could have afforded a nanny."

(That change triggered additional positive changes in our lives, and today we are in a much nicer place for us to live, and she has a full time job she likes, though perhaps not quite as much as she loved that old job. But the environment that made that old job great ended years ago anyway, as her boss moved on to greener pastures.)

xiaoma 1 day ago 2 replies      
The biggest problem with this blog post is its assumption that there are "shields" to begin with.

Whatever I'm doing there's always a possibility of something better out there. Rather than throw up "shields" and shut off all possibility of serendipity, I just evaluate opportunities vs what I'm doing now (and factor in some switching cost). Obviously if I'm heavily invested in a long-term track, it would have to be something amazing to make me leave. But why would someone set up mental defenses against even the possibility of something amazing?

fredwu 1 day ago 1 reply      
Unless the employee leaves for a role (more senior, more pay, and/or more responsibilities) which at his/her current company simply isn't available or feasible.

I have experienced this from both ends, as the employee who outgrew my current role, and as a manager who my direct report outgrew their role. In this case, apart from trying to create a similar role (which often than not is impossible), the best you can do is to wish them the best, and be proud of the fact that you've worked with such an awesome colleague that they have now surpassed what the role could do for them. :)

rfeather 1 day ago 0 replies      
One of the great things about my boss is that he talks frankly about the fact that many of us will move on and actually gives advice on what to try in your career "someday". This isn't because we express, or have much reason to express, dissatisfaction. It's simply pragmatic. Highly skilled workers have options and often ambition and curiosity too. Searching for " software job tenure" seems to indicate that most go through many companies in a career. Sometimes a company really does fail it's employees, but sometimes it really is just a chance to try something new. The point being, the author is speaking in too general terms. It's probably ok, even necessary, to not be everything to every employee.
rsp1984 1 day ago 1 reply      
This whole talk of shields up and shields down is of a suggestive psychological kind and it bothers me. Taking shields down implies that shields have been up before, yet the article fails to explain why we're dealing with shields in the first place.

To me the best employee is one that doesn't have to use any kind of shields at all. If using shields is the only way an employee can pretend (to others or himself) he's happy in his job, he probably isn't.

I've left a great job to start a company. And I've had good engineers leave at my startup. Nowhere in there I noticed any shields going up or down. It just wasn't a good fit. End of story.

LargeCompanies 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm suffering a bit now due to this happening to me recently....

I had a great work from home job... one that was allowing me to learn a ton of new skills (im an expert html,css, photoshop front-ender yet my JS skills are still at a beginner level). All my co-workers were awesome .. they liked me.. i liked them and they would give me kudos for the hard work I loved doing for them and the company.

Then...Knock, knock, knock .... is heard at my door from a casting director for a new startup/inventor reality TV show. They sent me a message saying we'd love for you to be a contestant on our show you are perfect. These people arent small no names and I initially said no thanks I dont want to risk my job. Though they chased me; made me think this was the way to fulfill my ultimate dream job/professional life goal...a successful & prosperous inventor.

Needless to say, I gave up my job for the reality TV show and well now I am jobless and the TV show was another losing hand!

My New Years and forever year resolution is I WONT EVER RISK STABILITY again FOR ANYONE ELSE WHO KNOCKS ON MY DOOR UNLESS THEY ARE HANDING ME TONS OF MONEY. A few similar and outlandish opportunities knocked previously on my door, yet they too all left me in the long run with a losing hand!

bobby_9x 1 day ago 1 reply      
I always hate a job after a year, when a manager or boss eventuallu forces my hand and we do something that is stupid or leads to failure.

High salary and perks could never fix this for me.

So, i startd my own company about 5 years ago, and never looked back. I'm working more, but I'm the happiest I've ever been and never get tired of it.

It helps that my wife not only supports me 100%, but helps me run tje company.

fsloth 1 day ago 0 replies      
"The reason this reads cranky is because I, the leader of the humans, screwed up. "

Not necessarily. Your organization might just not pay the same as some other equally pleasant place. Salaried employees now live in a world where it feels it's best to hoard as much money as possible throughout ones career just in case. It's not greed. It's a fear of destitution and miserable old age.

ThomPete 1 day ago 0 replies      
When I founded hello, a design agency, we had one rule around people leaving. It was always our fault. Whether they left because they found a better job, didn't like their manager, got better compensated and so on.

What I found was that the real reason people left was when they couldn't feel their own contribution in the company or when they couldn't grow insight the company anymore.

People will stand up to a lot of things as long as they feel like their contribution is part of the reason the projects succeed. It also turned out to be a great way to figure out how many people should be on a project. We would never have someone there just because we didn't know what else they should do.

As a founder leaving a company the reason at least for me was a little diffent. I left hello to join 80/20 because I felt we had the wrong conversations. I.e. I was spending too much time convincing the other partners of how the world looked like and they probably felt like they spent a lot of time trying to convince me how the world looked like. This is akin to having a relationship where you argue a lot about the symptoms and never about the root cause for the symptoms.

It always somehow about meaning.

Mahn 1 day ago 2 replies      
Strange article, as if people needed to be "shielded" into their jobs.

Also I'd argue that you can be perfectly happy and still resign. Sometimes someone simply comes along and offers more money.

ilostmykeys 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Happy people don't leave a restaurant they love.

Happy people don't leave a pair of jeans they love.

Happy people don't leave a city they love.

Happy people don't leave a way of being they love.

Wait a minute, is he saying that happy people are averse to change? And that change is bad.

I can't believe this got so many up votes and comments. The premise is that if you are happy then you don't like change.

The only relations a happy person won't leave are those which continuously both challenge them and nourish them, and that's deacribing a vested familial relationship, not a f*cking job.

pheroden 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hate to break it to HN, but we are not the norm. We're here because we long for more, and have the skills to make that yearning reality. So while every anecdote in the comments is true I'm sure for that person, for the vast majority of people, this article is pretty accurate.
Fede_V 1 day ago 0 replies      
There's certain questions that you can ask, but you will almost never get an honest answer, because the downside of potentially upsetting someone far outweigh the upside of being completely frank.

It's the same reason HR never gives an honest answer when someone is declined for a position. There is no upside whatsoever for them to be honest about the reason, and lots of potential negative negatives.

rloc 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not always true. I'll soon leave my job in one of the biggest US software company. I'm very happy there and love working with so many clever minds.

But the reason I'm leaving is to pursue something else in my life.I want to own my destiny, reach for what I consider freedom and make something I'm passionate about and that'll make me proud even if I don't succeed. I'm creating my own company.

I didn't see that mentioned in the article and I don't think a company can do much about it to retain its talents.

S_A_P 1 day ago 0 replies      
Things may be different this time around as I am now a business owner but I usually grow bored with any job at about 2 years. I've had many situations where I did not respect the person in charge which makes it hard for me to stay around. The times I did really like my boss his boss would usually change something that made work lose its appeal to me. I'm kind of at the mercy of the consulting work I'm doing but at least I don't have to report to anyone so maybe I will stay with it
Lambent_Cactus 1 day ago 0 replies      
Serious question: when did your shields go down at Palantir?
BrentOzar 1 day ago 2 replies      
In a way, it's like cheating on your spouse.

I know folks who had a perfectly happy marriage and everything they wanted, but when someone new said, "Hey, you're hot - let's get together," things went off the rails. Sometimes it's not about whether you're happy - sometimes it's just the temptation that grass is greener on the other side. (And hey, sometimes it actually is.)

Peroni 18 hours ago 1 reply      
To give Rands the benefit of the doubt, I'm assuming the shields analogy is from the employer perspective. I don't believe he's suggesting that protective psychological barriers are consciously (or even subconsciously) raised to protect an employee from the temptation to join another employer.

Employers are unbelievably vulnerable. The single biggest commodity in the tech industry globally, is talent. When you employ people who do a good job you immediately become vulnerable. You attempt to cultivate and craft the perfect company culture. You try to ensure the work is pushing the boundaries and challenging the great people that are bringing you closer and closer to profitability. You convince yourself that its worth paying your staff ridiculous salaries because if you don't, someone else will.

The single biggest challenge in the tech industry globally, is retaining talent. You spend every waking hour questioning whether or not you are doing enough to keep your people happy. You assume they have shields when in reality, they just want to be happy.

Happy people leave jobs they love all the time. Not because you failed to keep them happy or because they believe another employer can make them happier, but because they are people. No-one will ever craft the perfect company where employee turnover is 0%, it's literally impossible but personally, I love the fact that so many companies are trying because ultimately, it means they are trying to make people happier.

tahssa 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Corporate workplaces really are designed for humans who mimic robots.

Some people can do a better job mimicking robots that others and some can keep it up for longer. For most, the longer you keep it going the more robotic you become. People leave because they need to feel human again. No one likes to admit this truth because once they do they have to live with it.

I can even see it in the authors writing; on two occasions he refers to his employees as "humans" as opposed to just 'people' or 'employees'. That's typical dissociative behaviour and the kind of stuff that leads to people feeling less than human and eventually leaving via whatever alternative reasoning.

nitin_flanker 1 day ago 3 replies      
When an employee leaves, it's a collective failure. Failure of his mentor, his colleagues and the senior leadership.
asimjalis 17 hours ago 0 replies      
I have left jobs I was happy with because they paid below market and were not taking into account how expensive living in the San Francisco area has become. It is absurd to me that even now companies will negotiate salary down by amounts like $5k or $10k when to the employee this delta could be significant.
workitout 1 day ago 0 replies      
I remember back when I was in the valley, I'd go to a job interview and be pitched by one or more of the interviewers about side projects or equity only opportunities on the side. It happened more than once. That place is or was crazy and I loved that about it! The cost of real estate is high which is why we left but traditional companies elsewhere in America could learn a lot about running like an entrepreneurship in the valley than a staid corporation.
petke 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't stay in any programming job more than 2 years max.

When you start at a new job you want to prove yourself. Learning the code base and the system is new and exciting and a bit scary. After two years you feel like you have a good grasp of everything can relax, but then the fear and excitement is gone. The motivation is gone. I start slacking off, looking for the next job.

known 21 hours ago 0 replies      
shadowfax92 1 day ago 0 replies      
So true, "Humans Never Forget"!
endemic 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm glad I'm not a manager. Humans are too complex.
mabbo 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's interesting reading this having recently moved divisions. Four years where I was, love the business domain, but certain things happened and, as the author said, shields went down. Then there's a couple of really great leaders setting up a new division looking for talent.
GFK_of_xmaspast 1 day ago 0 replies      
I left a job I loved to follow my wife in her career.
6d0debc071 1 day ago 1 reply      
The article's title is bad but the core of it seems to be that IFF there's a perceived desires/offers mismatch on the part of the employee, then that employee will investigate the labour market.

If your company isn't aligned with the employee's process or life goals, that's a desires/offers mismatch. It may not be possible for the company to solve that, but it doesn't change the underlying pattern.

And then the person is not unhappy, but they look for a better match. To use the terminology of the article their 'shields[1]' would be down.

I don't think it's perfectly accurate, the core of the piece, mind. Because I go out with friends who work for other companies - so inevitably hear about them - as part of having a life. I've not had as many job changes as I've had coffees with friends. But it may be a reasonable heuristic.


1. As a language point, I detest the idea of calling it shields. It makes it sound like it's something that protects the employee, but of course it doesn't. It protects the employer for you not to be looking for something that better satisfies your desires.

Managing your emotional state is fundamental to great design deep.design
129 points by xj9   ago   15 comments top 9
steinsgate 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What an amazing article! A few specific parts caught my attention:

"Human beings are good at turning whatever theyre dealing with at the moment into the Most Important Thing of All time. When dealing with a relatively minor client problem, our bodies can experience the same symptoms of stress as, say, a refugee trying to escape from a war-torn country"


"After all, your immediate emotion isnt always the same as how youll feel after you have some time to think about it. However, it certainly has the potential to mess things up before you come around to that longer-term perspective."

I have felt this countless time, both as a client and a designer. As a client, I often didn't give enough time for a designer to iterate (which designers naturally do) and complained immediately, thus ruining the guy's peace of mind. As a designer, my first impulse is to take criticism personally and to get defensive. After I've let some time pass, I can usually understand where the client is coming from, and then see the shortcomings of the earlier design.

The author also made an interesting observation about how venting your frustration might make you more frustrated. This somehow seems related to the finding of psychologists that "you can't punch your way out of anger"[1]

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/200909...

p4wnc6 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Managing one's emotional state is a critical skill for anything -- making marriages work, raising kids successfully, closing an important deal, delivering a eulogy for someone you care about, and doing your job.

But, like all critical skills, it will vary from person to person and everyone is at a different point along the path to mastering it -- some of us with inherent personality/biochemical/social/physical differences or challenging circumstances that make it harder to modulate emotional reactions.

If a person is good enough at lots of other areas, they can often compensate for a lack of skill in modulating emotional state. Not always and not in every circumstances, but yes, in lots of ways they can, just as those who are really good at managing emotional state, but who perhaps lack another skill, like technical competence, might be able to compensate for that particular lack of skill too.

In this sense, I am not sure what good it does to draw attention specifically to emotional state as a skill in question. I worry that doing so might create further cases where people who face challenges with mental health or well-being have that fact unfairly used against them.

I can only imagine if a bureaucracy began to codify "modulating emotional state" as a "skill" and made you evaluate how your peers handle emotions in a 360 review or something. It's particularly troubling that the post decries negative emotions, and uses charged language like "wallowing in negative emotions" to depict what is presumably someone who is "not managing" their emotional state well. This screams unfair negative stigma to those who happen to struggle with, say, depression, or have marginalized disorders like, say, misophonia.

We shouldn't forget that complaining about unsatisfactory circumstances is one of the best and healthiest things a human can do in order to get help they might need to have their circumstances changed. We have to be careful that this stuff is not codified into business double-speak for "shut up and stop whining about things you don't like."

This whole post seems like a very dangerous road to go down to me.

Htsthbjig 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I had an accident (bad landing parachuting) and thought I was going to die.

Friends took me to the hospital and watching doctors not emotionally care about me was a tremendous relief.

I expected doctors's face to show how serious the injury was. Luckily I was wrong. These people are trained like astronauts and everyday they see young people die from car or motorcycle accidents. I went near death but completely recovered.

ThomPete 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I understand where the author is going with this, but I would like to offer a different way of looking at it.

At it's core he correctly identifies being "too involved" as part of the issue because this makes you emotionally attached to a project and clouds your judgement.

But thats not really the core of the problem at least not in my experience having run agency myself and I don't think the essay have any useful conclusions. Saying we should not be emotional is easy to say when it's your company.

The real issue is if designers (novice or experienced) feel like their design abilities are being questioned (and so their position threatened). And so the real trick is to make sure there is a clear understanding of what direction the critique is aimed.

If there is any confusion you ned up with designers who take critique of the discussed solution with a critique of them as designers. And so I have always tried to make two things clear to the designers I had.

1) They are there because they are good enough. And so whatever discussion we are having is not about them but about what they produced.

2) The point of critique is always to improve the result never to discuss any individuals design abilities.

Chances are if you survived the first 3 month of your employment you are there because you are good enough.

Getting people to a position where they feel they can trust their own intuition without judgement of them as people is what removes adrenaline. Sure you might get into a heated debate about something (and thus adrenaline will flow) but you aren't debating each other you are debating the project at hand.

Of course this require quite a lot of work up front and a level of honesty in an organization that sometimes simply arent possible.

But if you want to make your designers think more like astronauts you better make sure that you built a proper spaceship for them to travel in.

noir_lord 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As someone currently dealing with a stressful client I'm going to re-read this every morning this week and see if it helps, it sounds like an interesting approach.

I've also been called unemotional in the past but that's because I keep my work face on and if I'm really stressed/angry go for a bike ride when I get in on a night until I'm not.

keithpeter 5 hours ago 1 reply      

I found this reference quoted in the OA interesting, but the Harvard Business Review Web page certainly is noisy especially in contrast to the OA's relatively calm presentation.

Quote from OA

"Having been in an executive role for nearly 13 years now, Ive learned the hard way (many times) how dangerous it can be to leak your immediate emotions."

I think this is fairly standard practice for most senior managers. I'm actually impressed with the ability some of the managers I work with/to can actually 'frame shift' into the concerns of others without appearing dismissive.

stoddler 5 hours ago 0 replies      
callesgg 6 hours ago 0 replies      
People* often think everybody thinks in the same way, as the way we ourself think is the only way we know.

I am for one not even sure what emotions actually are, more than something that forces my brain to think down a certain path.

*(myself included)

gchokov 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting!!! I am walking right now in Downtown Ho Chi Min, Vietnam, and I've seen training courses for kids for "Managing emotions, creativity and mood". For kids, aged 6-10years old. Quite interesting ...
A Unikernel Firewall for QubesOS roscidus.com
102 points by amirmc   ago   8 comments top 4
SEJeff 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I've seen people run a Linux firewall in runlevel 0 (this is 100% possible if you disable the shutdown script) where the entire user space was disabled and only the netfilter stuff running in memory was active. This MASSIVELY limits the attack vectors to only the kernel itself and virtually nothing in user space while giving you a full Linux feature set, something I'm guessing Qubes doesn't yet do. I learned about this technique in the late 90s where a guy had 2 firewalls in active / failover mode using I believe LVS (also in kernel) with the sentry firewall cd (http://sentry.sourceforge.net). There was out of band VPN into the network which allowed serial access to reboot them but once the ACLs were burned onto the CD, it was as immutable as it gets with no serious way to harm anything. Besides it being slightly harder to manage, I can't believe no one else has tried it and written about it.

Sorry for getting side tracked, this looks absolutely fascinating and is another great use case for Qubes. The world of unikernels and containers / lightweight vms is clearly converging for immutable infra.

nickpsecurity 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Great work. That's doing it right. Another good one tried in separation kernels was safer runtimes for imperative languages like Ada. A networking stack and firewall in one like that would be an interesting experiment as well.
nine_k 16 hours ago 1 reply      
In short: running a firewall VM as an ML unikernel saves RAM, increases security. Source code available.
Decade 15 hours ago 2 replies      
QubesOS uses a Linux system with 300MB of RAM for the firewall? I just installed OpenWRT 15.05 Chaos Calmer on my router, with 32MB of RAM and 4MB of flash, and almost 1MB to spare. There are some differences between QubesOS and OpenWRT, but that still seems to be excessive by an order of magnitude.
BitTorrent file system github.com
220 points by matt2000   ago   32 comments top 12
johansch 1 day ago 1 reply      
Most use cases or apps don't deal well with read latencies in the thousands of seconds...

From quickly reading the source code; it doesn't do any particularly clever optimizations. I'd file this in the "IP over pigeons" category.

jzelinskie 20 hours ago 1 reply      
There are actually a couple of implementations of this. I think that I most recently saw it in Pulsar[0].I'm kind of glad these have never gotten too popular because to maintain a healthy swarm using the BitTorrent protocol, peers should not be prioritizing chunks sequentially.

[0]: https://github.com/steeve/pulsar

bm1362 19 hours ago 0 replies      
IPFS (https://ipfs.io/) is essentially the same thing with a use case bolted on top of it.
ArnoldP 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if this prioritizes chunks in order? Or does one have to wait for an entire mp4 to be downloaded before knowing it will play all the way through?
nickpsecurity 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems really impractical. Better go use a distributed filesystem. Here's a little-known one that's used with supercomputers:


jaimehrubiks 1 day ago 1 reply      
It sounds interesting. Is there any daemon running a torrent client? Or is it possible to select a custom one?
alfanick 22 hours ago 1 reply      
is this compatible with BitTorrent Sync? because that what BT Sync does exactly...
zaporozhets 1 day ago 1 reply      
Would this be easy to port over to osx?
godzillabrennus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is this basically all the benefits of health checks in ZFS through distributed computing?
aaronem 21 hours ago 0 replies      
There is at least one other project with the same name ("btfs"): https://github.com/arvidn/btfs

Seems a bit more feature-complete than this one.

runn1ng 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is this read-only filesystem? It seems like it, right?
How the Survivor Bias Distorts Reality scientificamerican.com
81 points by pandemicsyn   ago   19 comments top 8
OvidStavrica 18 hours ago 2 replies      
By necessity, entrepreneurs are self-delusional.

Most are easily intelligent enough to realize how long their odds really are. Furthermore, they have the intellect to appreciate the true effort they have to make before they reach financial payback.

Any reasonable person with the math skills to visualize risk vs. reward will usually walk away --but not the quintessential entrepreneur.

This is not a flattering trait. For this reason, it is rarely, if ever, associated with successful entrepreneurs.

cLeEOGPw 15 hours ago 2 replies      
A good reminder about calculating statistics and making accurate predictions.

When analyzing why a group of objects (usually very small, like successful companies) have a certain trait, it is not enough to find something all these objects had in common and say that it was the reason. At bare minimum, you have to look at all the rest of objects and confirm that they did not have that thing in common too. And even that would not be enough. After finding something ONLY these objects of interest have in common, you should test the prediction on new objects whose outcome is not yet known and confirm the accuracy.

It sounds really simple, but sometimes even scientific paper writers can't resist urge to release "finding" that has hidden flaws like that.

peppery 9 hours ago 2 replies      
The probability that an average entrepreneur succeeds might indeed be assessed fairly by observing that only one entrepreneur in a hundred ever reaches the 1% of wealth or impact.

But this assessment itself seems to suffer from a bias of another sort--the notion that entrepreneurial risk is uniformly distributed over the population of entrepreneurs. Actually, there will be some startups whose risk will be much lower than that of the "average" emerging company (due to the fact that their venture idea satisfies some market need, discovered either by genuine insight/ingenuity or by luck).

It is the belief--however appropriate--that one's own venture falls within this enlightened category of diminished risk that propels founders to pursue their ventures in the face of such an aggregate track record.

traviswebb 12 hours ago 0 replies      
re stock market: A common (and expensive) fallacy of beginners who think they can beat the market with clever technical tricks is analyzing all of the publicly-traded companies' history and divining patterns in trading and such. This ignores, of course, the countless companies that have gone out of business completely or have otherwise been de-listed from the exchanges.

In analyzing these trends, you're biased by looking only at the companies that have done well enough to be on the current list. In this way it's particularly insidious, because you're omitting the very data that might save you from betting on a company that might be delisted.

forgottenacc56 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Job seeker: "Your company's employment test is stupid."

Employer: "Clearly it isn't stupid because every awesome person we have employed has passed that test. In fact, the test is awesome and is the reason we have managed to build such an awesome team."

BraveNewCurency 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"For garage-dwelling entrepreneurs to crack the 1% wealth threshold in America, [...] for every wealthy start-up founder, there are 100 other entrepreneurs who end up with only a cluttered garage."

So you are saying if I become an entrepreneur, I have a 1/100 chance of being in the top 1%? Wow, that's great! Sign me up!

checks math

Hey, wait a minute!

noahbradley 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Along these lines, I'd recommend The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives http://amzn.to/1NYgSQm

Even very intelligent people seem to have far too many delusions about their own competence or success.

yyhhsj0521 3 hours ago 0 replies      
S = succeed

C = with specific characteristics

What we need is P(S | C) = P(S ^ C) / P(C), but the best sellers mentioned in the article instead address P(S ^ C)

Gas Theft Gangs Fuel Pump Skimming Scams krebsonsecurity.com
122 points by bronz   ago   116 comments top 13
skeuo 18 hours ago 4 replies      
The real solution here is to have contactless chip & pin systems at the pump, but apparently that is years away because of cost. In the meantime I find the best way to monitor my CC expenses is to enable SMS/Push alerts for any transaction above $0. This way I always expect to get an alert at the point of sale for any transaction. Anything unknown is a red flag and it also works well for subscriptions that I may forget about and want to cancel.
scurvy 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Playing devil's advocate here, why do I care (as a consumer) if my credit card number is stolen? I'm not responsible for illegitimate charges as long as I report them within a reasonable time. That's generally accepted to be up to 40 days considering paper billing cycles.

Why do people sign up for text alerts and notifications on smartphone apps for certain purchase amounts? You're just doing the credit card company's job for them. At that point, what's the point? You're probably getting a new card number in a few days anyway.

Not trying to be flippant, I'm genuinely curious why people obsess over some of this as a consequence-free user.

jpalomaki 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Banks, credit card companies: Give me an API for accessing my own data. Give me an opportunity to set a callback address that gets pinged whenever my card is used somewhere. Even better: make it possible for this callback to decline transactions (obviously this comes with certain problems).

This would open up innovation and I'm sure this would lead to interesting solutions for combatting the fraud.

dsharlet 16 hours ago 3 replies      
> The stations know theyre buying stolen gas, Scarince said. Theyre fully aware the fuel is not coming from a legitimate source. Theres never any paperwork with the fuel driver, and these transactions are missing all the elements of a normal, legitimate transaction between what would be a refinery and a gas station.

This seems like the easiest way to tackle this problem (aside from chip cards). I doubt it would take much pressure on these guys to get the market for this to dry up, or at least considerably reduce the profitability. I'd guess the gas station owners have a lot more to lose than the thieves actually stealing gas.

sandworm101 18 hours ago 5 replies      
These guys are criminals. Someone should be going after them. But the secret service?

This should be handled by the CC industry. US pumps should have chips like they do in most every other developed nation. It's an arms race, but prevention is easier than investigation.

And do not blame "the attendants". I worked as a light mechanic at one of the last truly full service stations. The pump/retail guys are payed minimum wage on flexible shifts to do a job that is actually rather dangerous. Only one of possibly a hundred attendants may know anything about the skimmer install. The guys who own/run the stations should also not be above suspicion. My bosses were some rather shady characters.

elwell 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Order gas straight to your car with my startup, Purple, and avoid the concern entirely.

https://purpledelivery.com/app (LA, OC, & San Diego)

mindslight 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the sensationalist scare quotes (such as there possibly being 30 of these unsafe trucks in existence), I presume the Secret Service is going after Mastercard and Visa for their willful negligence that created this situation?
csense 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Go inside and pay with cash. Problem solved.
presidentender 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Just based on the headline, I had guessed that some enterprising miscreant had figured out how to siphon off some of the gas as customers were fueling - perhaps through a small tap on the line.
mikepalmer 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Love the snappy title for this post... It's poetry.
jimjimjim 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The rest of the world had to put up with the EMV change-over. But the US just keeps delaying and delaying. If the card industry applied the same tactics to the US then merchants would switch over pretty quickly e.g if the shop doesn't have emv certified chip card terminals then the shop has to accept the loss from the fradulant transaction.
ck2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
at $2/gallon theft should go down somewhat?

personally I use cash everywhere I can, it's not just tinfoil-hat thinking, it's far less hassle

for everywhere else, just use low-balance gift cards

nraynaud 17 hours ago 2 replies      
There is some kind of genius in the propaganda around the gas thieves. They are stealing stuff, but let's paint them even darker by saying their trucks are unsafe. You know what's probably more unsafe? a policeman with a gun. But the prosecutor is elected, every case is more than a legal case, it's an election campaign PR operation, you have to win indictment, the trial and the reelection with every case.

I just love it, nobody can state anything objectively and with detachment anymore, everything is politically overloaded, even stuff that could be even as consensual as thievery.

Income inequality is not the problem, it's a symptom rongarret.info
359 points by lisper   ago   197 comments top 26
cpursley 15 hours ago 2 replies      
If I could give away all my hn points and apply them as up-votes to this, I would.

The op explains very succinctly the problem in this quote:

> what is happening is that the ultra-wealthy are using their disposable income to buy political influence, then using that influence to get laws passed that allow them to collect rents.

My primary beef with American politics is the "solutions" are always in the form of bandaids - they focus on the effect, not the root cause. The recent healthcare laws are a prime example. How to handle the rise of ISIS is another. Both were caused, or at least compounded by misinformed short-sighted policy. The answer is rarely "more laws". Especially when more laws was what lead to most of these problems in the first place. It's like writing more code around terrible code when what is really needed is a total refactor and proper test coverage.

Ending cronyism is fairly straight-forward. But stacking on more law is only going to exacerbate the issue, because like the op explained - the well-connected are just going to buy more political influence and have the laws crafted to benefit them. Taxation is more complex. Increasing taxes is often a solution proposed. Fine, but first - the government needs to prove that they are good stewards of our money before reaching into my back pocket for more. Otherwise, that increase is going to end up as farm subsidies and in the pockets of "defense" contractors.

rayiner 17 hours ago 15 replies      
Mr. Garret quotes Sanders:

> The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class has rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people of this country.

I am rather puzzled that this idea gets so much traction. Does anyone really believe that if only the rules weren't "rigged" local shops and businesses would be able to compete against Wal-Mart and Amazon? Do people really believe that it's only because of "rigged" rules that big employers are downsizing and shipping production overseas?

It's wishful thinking. The rules don't drive rewards to the top. It's intrinsic to the free market.

rlaferla 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is a great discussion on the single most important issue of our day. I like Paul Graham's perspective on this but I would like him to elaborate on how he would curb corruption. In the past, he said that "transparency" was key but they are doing this in the open and they direct the media to put a spin on it which the non-critical thinking masses can't detect. Politics/economics is an imperfect entity. I think the "pragmatic" solution may lie somewhere between Graham's Libertarian view and Sander's Democratic/Socialist view.
lsiq 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a very common tendency to focus on consumption, in terms of where rich people's money flows. This argument that the rich spend most of their money on ostentatious goods (e.g. fancy cars) or, in the case of this posting, donations to political or even charitable causes. While there is of course some truth to this, it ignores the elephant in the room which is that the rich DON'T spend most of their money. The vast majority of wealth (individual, corporate, and sovereign) is tied up in investments and other liquid or illiquid assets. One of the biggest symptoms of the current malaise in terms of inequality are the abnormally high asset prices globally (and thus lower yields), and most essential, very low inflation. There are huge sums of money in the economy that have been pumped in since 2008, but inflation has not shown up in 7 years largely because velocity of money is down. The concentration of wealth, and possible talk about technological deflation, are both closely tied up in this. The lower classes which tend to spend all their money - and sometimes money they don't even have - contribute disproportionately to velocity, now likely don't collectively have enough money to really drive economic and monetary trends anymore. Especially, if they are burdened by debt repayments which many in this day are.
jondubois 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I think one of the biggest problems that we have today is that intelligent, hard-working people are the poorest they've ever been.

In the past, if you studied and worked really hard, you would usually achieve something. Today you can study and work very hard for a very long time and still end up with nothing.

Being smart or trying hard has very little value, it's all about who you know and what assets you own. Today, most people are just living off of their assets. Assets which they received as a result of a lot of luck and perhaps a bit of hard work.

Instead of the government stepping in to protect the people - The government is facilitating this inequality by allowing corporations to carry-out mutually-beneficial deals with one another at the expense of regular people.

People are being enslaved; not just less-educated people, but also highly educated people (who can actually see/understand what is happening).

I think we have a new economic class in our society, the 'highly educated lower class'.

kelukelugames 17 hours ago 3 replies      
>So why doesn't Graham recognize and advocate this? Perhaps it's because two of his biggest golden geese Uber and AirBnB are actually relying on exactly the kind of political influence I'm calling out here in order to survive and prosper.

Whether this is true or not, we need to realize PG has motives. He doesn't write essays just for his health.

UK-AL 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Uber hired lobbyists because they had no choice. Traditional companies have captured the regulatory system so bad you have idoitic laws designed to protect them.

In London one law was proposed for a minmium wait time of 5 minutes. It was directly aimed at uber.

rdtsc 14 hours ago 0 replies      
>> The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class has rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people of this country.

> This is the problem.

That is a very good way to put it. I agree with that.

> So why doesn't Graham recognize and advocate this?

He doesn't advocate because it won't help his cause. As I posted in the comment of the original article (which got downvoted, nobody likes pg being accused of manufacturing pr? https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10827175, hey! it's a submarine ;-).

He created a strawman and a narative around how to interpret and think about income inequality to give his followers and those involved in startups a framework. He understands he is part of what can create inequality, and that's bothersome to him and those around the startup culture. Startup environment needs myths to operate. These are promises to investors, promises to early employees, these are things founders are supposed to be telling others ("I want to make the world a better place") and perhaps themselves as well. There has to be a myth created that addressed income inequality, because it is talked about in the media.

As a joke, someone wrote (and I forgot who) how the wealthy and powerful in this country are devout Marxist followers. They internalize the rules and assumptions of the class struggle. Except they don't identify with the working class, they identify with the bourgeoisie. They understand there are the two classes and what class they belong to. They will actively try to control and supress the lower classes.

cjy 15 hours ago 0 replies      
>The Baumol Effect, in case you didn't know, is the tendency of wage increases that come from increases in productivity to "spill over" into jobs where there have been no productivity increases. In other words, it's trickle-down economics under a fancier name.

Mr. Garret gets the definition of the Baumol Effect more or less right, but then mislabels it as trickle down economics and proceeds to attack that. Here is an example of the Baumol Effect:

As improving technology makes computer scientists more productive they will receive higher salaries in the business world. Meanwhile, computer scientist teachers in academia may not see similar productive gains (they still can only teach X number of students a semester). Nonetheless, universities must increase computer scientist teacher pay to prevent them from leaving academia for the business world.

In the context of PG's essay, he is saying that high pay for entrepreneurs forces companies to pay competitive salaries:

>anyone who could get rich by creating wealth on their own account will have to be paid enough to prevent them from doing it.

If Mr. Garret, or others, disagree with this assertion they should attack it directly. Personally, the logic and direct incentives at work seem self evident to me.

natrius 15 hours ago 0 replies      
> It is possible to address this problem without killing the golden goose. How? By rolling back some of the legislation that was put in place by undue political influence.

Using the political system to reduce the influence of money in politics is prohibitively difficult because the system is already captured by money. We should try, but we need other options when that fails.

When government stops responding to the wishes of the people, revolution is the typical answer. Luckily, we don't have to do that. We can end the influence of wealth on our politics without needing the government to do it for us.

Instead of trying to get the government to stop excess political spending, we should eliminate the incentive to accept excess political spending. People accept money to influence our democracy because they can use that money to get whatever they want from almost anyone, including you. You can't opt out because economic power is invisible. But we can make it visible, and give every individual the freedom to reject economic power that they feel is misused.

This is merit capitalism. http://meritcapitalism.com/

rubyfan 16 hours ago 0 replies      
@pg is basically arguing that fragmentation is leading to the end of oligarchy and this author is arguing we are headed toward it.

Who's right? The comments I've read today on a few of these posts today are so divisive that I'm not certain they come from the same universe.

FTA: On the other hand, I also want an effective, democratic government to provide infrastructure, protect people from extreme economic contingencies (like war and hurricanes), prevent people from profiting from economic externalities (like pollution) and provide oversight for well-regulated, free and transparent markets. And that's not the direction we're heading. We're heading towards political power being concentrated irreversibly in the hands of a small minority. We're heading towards oligarchy.

And that is a problem.

rumcajz 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Wealth inequality and income inequality are often touted as the incentive for people to do actual useful work.

However, if you think about it for a second, it's clear that having more money in a bank or on a payslip doesn't make you work harder.

What makes you work harder is the possibility of improving your status, getting richer.

So, one would imagine that a society with drastically reduced inequality (both wealth and income) but with extra high social mobility could work perfectly well.

zacharytelschow 16 hours ago 0 replies      
> If the differences in income and wealth were entirely reflective of people's productivity and contributions to society there would be no problem. But they aren't. Instead what is happening is that the ultra-wealthy are using their disposable income to buy political influence, then using that influence to get laws passed that allow them to collect rents.

If you're arguing the problem is the ability of the political class to pick winners and losers instead of creating rules that are beneficial to society generally and applied to all equally - amen.

ThomPete 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a symptom but not as claimed of the ultra-wealthy buying influence. That matters too but it's not the number one reason. If that was the case, other countries with much less ability to affect the political process (like the scandinavian countries) wouldn't be experiencing the same problems (although at a different scale)

No. Wealth is a symptom of a system where the winner takes all and the winner is increasingly technologically based companies.

Wealth allow you to increasingly affect the political process but only as a function of you being rich to begin with. No one starts with the political system to gain wealth at least they wont' be wealthy for very long if thats how they came to their wealth.

Income inequality is increasingly a symptom of systems with little friction to become the first or second in a field but a lot of friction to challenge them.

makeramen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Um, am I the only one here confused at why this guy is arguing with PG? From what I can tell they are in full agreement.

Ron here is saying we shouldn't kill startups (what PG calls "creating wealth"), we should instead fight against practices that actually take money from the poor and give to the rich (what PG calls "zero-sum games"). After reading PG's article, I got the impression that he wants the exact same thing as Ron does. What's there to argue?

PG even has a paragraph in his essay that is almost equivalent to the title of the article:

> There are lots of things wrong with the US that have economic inequality as a symptom. We should fix those things. In the process we may decrease economic inequality. But we can't start from the symptom and hope to fix the underlying causes.

nostrademons 17 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't think Uber is a YC investment. It's certainly not listed as such under CrunchBase, nor have I seen any public article mentioning them as an investment.
pdonis 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It looks to me like Garret and Graham are actually in violent agreement. :-) Garret wants to keep people from getting rich through political influence rather than creating wealth; Graham wants to make sure people can still get rich through creating wealth, even if they can't get rich through political influence.
stretchwithme 14 hours ago 0 replies      
As long as technology enables people to scale their efforts to serve vast numbers of people, there will be vast differences in what people can earn.

Those that sell to millions will make a lot more than those who only sell to a few.

Instead of trying to force equal outcomes, we should be teaching people about how they can benefit from leveraging technology.

hkmurakami 17 hours ago 1 reply      
>So once again, let me be clear: I do not want to kill Y Combinator, nor do I want to kill Uber or AirBnB.

AFAIK Uber is not a YC portfolio company.

tipiirai 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Thank you. Glad you wrote this.
sytelus 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Pg's main point is that the major source of wealth inequality comes from wealth creators as opposed to wealth exploiters. The wealth creators are typical startups and people creating new industries while wealth exploiters are the one playing high frequency trading, lobbing congress, buying up real estate, creating monopolies, investing with insider info and so on. My gut feeling is that wealth creation part is in reality less than 20%. This intuition is based on simple fact that wealthy people have managed to far more disproportionately increase their wealth than what comes from increase in GDP or other measures of productivity. There is plenty of analysis available in Capital book that clearly suggests that wealthy people mainly invests in non-productive investment instruments such as real estate that has nothing to do with increasing productivity of the society. It just constraints the supply side, inflating prices and thus increasing value of the investment. These investment tools enables them to transform themselves to become passive wealth exploiters with a setup that generates massive multi-generational income and wealth increase without proportional need for positive contribution to society. There was a very well written article with data analysis on HN that proved that most increase in wealth for top 1% came from these non-productive investment tools such as real estate. This is like wealthy people grouping up to buy loads of the fresh water and inflating prices so average people now must pay majority of income in buying water. So wealth transfer from common people to rich occurs through inflated water prices. Of course, if wealthy people really did this for water, they will be in trouble and revolutions will break out. However doing this for real state raises no eye brows even though real estate is essential need for humans.

A fun fact: Despite of giving billions and without starting any new blockbuster companies, Bill Gates has managed to increase his wealth by more than 50% since he officially retired. He has sure helped few startups but it would be too funny as well as cruel to think that most of his wealth gain comes via helping startups or causing productivity gains in society. Last I checked his billions are managed by hedge fund like setup who typically have goal to maximize returns through non-productive instruments such as real estate, HFT, commodity market games, derivatives etc and they rarely devote more than 20% of portfolio to truely productive activities such as startups.

It is also marvelous how some of the wealthiest have outright bought the laws for themselves, for example, middle class in US universally pays almost twice the tax rates than top 1%. This would be unthinkable in previous generation. The entire capital tax gimmic is put in to law with a full knowledge that it does not benefit majority of citizens who have little or no savings, let alone investments for short term trading. It is purely designed to benefit top 1% who derives large chunk of income as capital gains. The most depressing thing is that the field is becoming less and less level playing, for example wealthy can buy out admissions in best universities while average citizens are getting priced out from same institutions. The significant increase in mortgage and student debt load combined with long term stagnant wages now eliminates possibility of savings or investments and therefore risk taking. I suppose this wasn't exactly like this in 70s when many more people had decent savings, had ability for some risk taking and lot of them even actually were able to retire. In our generation most people don't even think of retirement anymore except in tech industry which is probably less than 5% of population. We in tech field are perhaps not so much impacted and so world looks little different from our glasses, especially if you had been college dropout or without family. However for a common citizen with a family, mortgage, healthcare bills, no savings, retirement funds uncertainty and student loans it is much more difficult to cross the chasm than it used to be in 70s.

briantakita 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Access to resources & social attention are key concerns.

Some harmful effects of inequality when people do not have access to:

* needs (i.e. Maslow Hierarchy); particularly autonomy* ability to express perspective* ability to have perspective considered, paid heed to, & respected* ability to influence local systems* protection from those who are abstracted away from local systems; those who will not feel immediate consequences of their actions

If we can create systems where these concerns are prioritized, then inequality of wealth may not matter.

Some people are good at playing the game of gaining wealth. Some are good at other games. In the end, we all benefit from respecting and having compassing & empathy for all life & natural systems.

graeme 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Did YC fund Uber? I had thought they weren't a YC company.
dovereconomics 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Some decent points, but why can't anyone acknowledge the centralization of capital?

Sure, Uber lobbies city mayors, but what about the financial system that gives $6.6B to a single startup? The inception of all problems.

Politicians and lobbyists? I'd worry about the Fed.

forrestthewoods 17 hours ago 5 replies      
"At the very least, we should strive for a non-regressive tax system, which is what we have now."

I'm super pro regressive taxes. Regressive taxes are fantastic for the poor. They get more than they put in AND the elite are less able to avoid paying them. The socialized promised lands of Scandinavia are highly regressive.


gizi 15 hours ago 1 reply      
It can all be reduced to the problem of man-made law. It is wide open to abuse. So, yes, the ultra-rich abuse man-made law to make more money. But then again, machine guns easily overrule money. That is why there are now islamic insurgencies, in 30+ countries, of which the primary purpose is to get rid of man-made law (and to establish their favoured alternative). The problem goes way beyond the distribution of income. At some point, everybody who believes in the legitimacy of man-made law will have to prove that he is willing to risk his life and die for what he believes in.
Iran's blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web theguardian.com
542 points by plg   ago   182 comments top 34
aaron-lebo 1 day ago 9 replies      
But hyperlinks arent just the skeleton of the web: they are its eyes, a path to its soul. And a blind webpage, one without hyperlinks, cant look or gaze at another webpage and this has serious consequences for the dynamics of power on the web.

More or less all theorists have thought of gaze in relation to power, and mostly in a negative sense: the gazer strips the gazed and turns her into a powerless object, devoid of intelligence or agency. But in the world of webpages, gaze functions differently: it is more empowering. When a powerful website say Google or Facebook gazes at, or links to, another webpage, it doesnt just connect it , it brings it into existence; gives it life. Without this empowering gaze, your web page doesnt breathe. No matter how many links you have placed in a webpage, unless somebody is looking at it, it is actually both dead and blind, and therefore incapable of transferring power to any outside web page.

Apps like Instagram are blind, or almost blind. Their gaze goes inwards, reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social media are dying.

Best part of the piece, imo.

SmallBets 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems the real shift is from the web's nodes being ideas/text, to being people/personas. Guided and organized not by what is said and the relationship of ideas, but by who said it, their relationship to me, and what liking it says about me. From ideas to identities. From the message to the messenger.

The author nailed it when talking about "two of the most dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: newness and popularity" and the shift from a book to tv mentality. The newness/TV aspect is another way to look at FOMO...these things are exploiting deep fears about group status and exclusion.

I don't think this means the death of ideas, but they are secondary now and spread when tied to a story/hero's journey involving a strong persona. Ironically, the author has a great one in being imprisoned for his ideas then freed.

jseliger 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm sympathetic to this point of viewI write one blog and contribute to another!but at the same time, it's not really FB, Instagram, and Twitter that're killing the webit's us, every day, with every choice we make. Every time we fire up Facebook we choose to enable the proprietary web instead of the open web.

It's fun pointing at corporate villains. I've done it. But it's more true and less satisfying to say that we enable the online world that has come to be.

amirmansour 1 day ago 2 replies      
The author also published a related article on the Matter publication on Medium titled. "The Web We Have to Save": https://medium.com/matter/the-web-we-have-to-save-2eb1fe15a4...

His writing can be found on his personal site: http://hoder.ir/en

TazeTSchnitzel 1 day ago 1 reply      
Forgive me for lacking the time or energy to read this article. I've read a previously posted on HN piece by the same author on the same subject, though.

Those three services are quite different. Instagram is a stream of photos, nothing more, nothing less. It's not a site that links outward, it's not even a site you really link to. It is simply pretty pictures. There's nothing wrong with that, really. Instagram doesn't want to and doesn't need to be a communication tool.

Facebook is website for keeping in touch with friends and relatives, organising your social life, viewing advertising videos, viewing plagiarised YouTube videos, and viewing sponsored BuzzFeed videos. It doesn't link outward much because that's not really what it's useful for. Facebook wants to deliver you a stream of mostly garbage, addictive and not-entirely-unpleasant content. It's almost useless as a platform for real communication, and nobody should expect it to be one, they'll be disappointed.

Twitter is a website for following people who interest you, and sharing things with people interested in you. Twitter, unlike Facebook or Instagram, is actually very outward-looking: Twitter is a huge source of links to other websites. People use Twitter to share pieces they find interesting, to share content they have created, to comment on pieces they have seen. People use Twitter and end up finding new and wonderful websites.

None of these are killing the web in the end.

codecamper 1 day ago 3 replies      
I wonder if there is really a smaller blog audience now than before.

Or is it that a massive number of people have arrived to the Internet knowing only the FB, IG, and WA apps. Those people don't quite get it yet. Some of them are new because of finances. Computers and routing equipment too expensive 10 years ago. The smartphone has brought massive numbers of new arrivals.

I think the problem could be app stores. Could be paid search results.

But these are short term problems. I think eventually all these new people will discover blogs. And podcasts.

Just like people these days are discovering grunge rock, and mullet hair. Or at least they were 8 years ago - last time I had a look.

pizza 1 day ago 0 replies      
Evgeny Morozov [0] has talked [1] and written extensively [2] about the capacity for social media to entrap those the regime deems social undesirables, and also about the naiveti of those in Silicon Valley who don't realize this capacity of their technology (insert Oppenheimer world-eater quote here...)

From what I understand of my own family's experience, it is safe to say that far fewer butchers would have discovered safe havens in Rwanda (such as my grandmothers' -- my muzungu father calls it the Anne Frank house of Kigali. I never noticed the bullet holes littered throughout the bricks in her compound until my latest visit...) through their own self-determination, if the locations had not been broadcast on government radio channels... sigh

[0] http://www.evgenymorozov.com

[1] https://www.ted.com/talks/evgeny_morozov_is_the_internet_wha...

[2] See "To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism" by Evgeny Morozov

muddi900 1 day ago 0 replies      
When Hossein Darekshan went to jail, the Internet was for the pioneers, an uncharted territory. It was a place for the brave, required arcane knowledge (computer literacy), and basic understanding of the underlying systems. When he came out it was settled.

Was it the availability of easy to use technology (smartphones) that created the market for populist interfaces or the simplification of interaction that made the demand for simplified devices? That's a debate. However as more and more people came online, they didn't want to explore the frontier. They wanted their patch of land. They didn't want diverse ideas, but affirmations for their beliefs, as News media has trained us all to expect from the world.

It was this way before. Most people's idea of music was limited to whatever was on the radio or MTV. Political discourse was limited to what was the news. The reason early Internet was the bastion of outsiders, freaks, geeks and degenerates because these people wanted to break new ground, wanted new ideas. Those people are still here, but they are minority.

I do think Derakshan overestimates the value of the blogospheres. My primary interaction was message boards, which were closed-off, and in many cases private spaces. That is whete I discovered new music, new movies and new ideas. They too still exist, but they are also minority, as far as reach and influence are concerned.

cubano 1 day ago 1 reply      
He seems like a gifted writer, so I am sure, over time, he will make these platforms work for him, perhaps in greater ways then he could have ever imagined just using blogs.

People I know use the "big-3" because it allows them to easily connect to their real-world friends and share tidbits with them, not because they are looking for a publishing platform to reach the entire world.

AdeptusAquinas 1 day ago 1 reply      
I know that a big concern is the centralisation of power (something that might be mitigated by legislation, albeit problematically if the legislators are the ones to worry about) but aside from that, are aggregation sites like FB and such really that bad?

His argument that they only show you what you like, keeping you in a little bubble, feels plausible, but is it true in practice? Those who are interested in new ideas will find them regardless of FB, and may even be shown them by FB if it works out that is what they will like. And those that are more passive get the benefit of the net without effort. Seems like a good arrangement, at least for now.

hudell 1 day ago 0 replies      
Other than social networks, I really miss the internet before youtube got so popular. These days, people put a video on youtube for everything. Things that used to be written, parsed and easily searchable, now are locked inside lengthy videos.
bronz 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think this is an interesting problem. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr et al dominate the internet. They are mostly used for garbage. There are more people on the web now than ever and they use these platforms like they use a permanent marker and a bathroom stall. At the same time, as has been mentioned elsewhere in these comments, it hasn't gotten much easier to run a blog. There are hosting costs to consider and the technical barrier is still there, although it is lower than it used to be. Also, perhaps most importantly, it is not immediately clear whether one can or cannot gain traction with a blog. People don't seem to read them as much as they used to and they don't have a fancy interface to subscribe and follow (at least not one that most people are familiar with today). Maybe someone could make a platform for people who want to make a blog but are dealing with these issues. Some kind of intellectual Tumlr? A place where making a blog is simple and you are sure to make traction because of the large readership of the platform. A place like Hacker News but with blog posts perhaps.
kevindeasis 1 day ago 1 reply      
The author seems to fail to understand the new social dynamic present in the web. Just because the author fails to find his target audience does not mean these platforms are killing the web. I was a fan but not any more of the mentioned social media, but some of his statements are not insightful.

These platforms are the gateway to a better web not born yet, which is just about to emerge. High-quality content is becoming more relevant.

These social media websites are not killing the web. I'd argue it is doing something that is opposite to killing the web. People can find people who share the same ideologies in the social media platforms described. A decade ago, would you consider the web more prosperous without the presence of these social media platforms? I'd like to think that these platforms are gateway to a better web.

Bloggers are still rock stars in contemporary time. Hossein Derakhshan is just looking at the wrong place.

There is also more competition in the blogging space. What does he think happens when there is an inflow of supply?

People are smarter now. In fact, they are getting really smart with the availability of knowledge, wisdom, skills, and ideas. If you want more people to read your blog? Better start finding ways to influence new people and affect their lives, while offering meaningful. Furthermore, I hope he finds a way to get the numbers he wants by out-competing other bloggers in his niche.

arthurcolle 1 day ago 2 replies      
I feel like users don't really want to get switched out of apps as they scroll through a feed. I've noticed Facebook has many links that point outside of facebook.com/, but the constant new tab context switch is a pretty big distraction.
xdinomode 1 day ago 0 replies      
I disagree and here's why. The web platforms he mentions are for following the lives of people you like. Links get in the way on these specific apps. Especially on mobile where clicking links by accident is a dread. If you want to share your web links then post it on your blog. Make a link from Twitter to your blog. But DONT expect apps to allow you to spam your garbage links to others. That's what Reddit is for.
systems 1 day ago 2 replies      
i have to strongly disagreei am egyptian, and the revolution that started in egypt in 25th Jan 2011, was more or less organized on facebookon a facebook page that started few years earlier to condemnthe torture and killing of a young man "khaled Said"

it was even kinda a surprise to the twitter crowdwhere most of the activists hanged out

in the two following years, twitter played a major rolein sharing information on whats happening in the streets vs what the controlled media show

twitter and facebook did kill the webthey revolutionised the world, literally

bikamonki 1 day ago 0 replies      
This too is an endless stream of 'newness'. I log to HN as much as I do to FB. One pays with karma, the other with likes. Both are mostly garbage yet sometimes gems are found. I guess some of us are ready for curatedcontent.com
xkarga00 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great article that sums up the reasons why I am not using any of these social networks anymore. I am going to point this to anyone who asks me why I don't have a Facebook account, thanks.
tim333 1 day ago 1 reply      
Meh. Hypertexted linked blogs and web pages are still there. Facebook et al aren't killing them any more than radio killed books, TV killed radio or the internet killed TV. I doubt he would have lost his blog audience if he had not been imprisoned. It wasn't social media that did that.
kevin_thibedeau 1 day ago 0 replies      
> On his release, he found the internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia.

The web works just fine for me. I just route around the damage. It's not like anyone has a gun to your head forcing you to have an Instatwitbook account.

sehr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is there any way to, or rather, is it even worth fighting centralization?

Has anything similar to this happened?

MichaelMoser123 1 day ago 1 reply      
I think livejournal would be one of last remnants of the old web. In some quarters it is still quite popular
MichaelMoser123 1 day ago 0 replies      
i think that hyperlinks and decentralized blogs will make it back if the concept can generate value for advertisers.

So if all blog hosts hand out the same sticky cookies and then exchange the tracking info to collectively spy on its users - that will be the killer app (or killing app) for hyperlinks and decentralized blogs ;-)

djKianoosh 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is why it saddened me to see Prismatic News shut down. It was a really great way to find new and interesting things outside that filter bubble of fb and twitter.
andrepd 1 day ago 0 replies      
This was surprisingly insightful, both at the human and the technical level (especially the thoughts on hyperlinks). Amazing read.
zkhalique 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, looks like he's back :)

So many people reposting his article!

thrw00 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Throwaway account for obvious reasons.

At the time of Iranian disputed elections of 2009, I worked as an engineer for one of the biggest Iranian websites with millions of audience looking for reliable source of news, in the strict absence of any news, when people were getting killed on the streets of Tehran.

I see the need to clarify who this self-titled 'blogfather' of Iran is. I see this need as things get out of control quickly on hn due to hype and links like this jump to get 1k votes, where most of the voters simply vote because others voted.

For those who do not know, since just before the Iranian disputed elections of 2009, Hossein Derakhshan has been living in Iran. He was 'supposedly' in jail, but there were rumors about his collaboration with the Iranian government to build their cyber presence, which almost did not exist at the time. Shortly after his arrest, many anti government bloggers inside Iran were arrested too, there are speculations that he revealed their identities.

Years before entering Iran, Derakhshan was busy with 'blogfathering' Iranian web space for a few years, explicitly being anti Iranian government, which always bring visitors. This way, at the rise of the weblog era, he was doing good. He had a big number of visitors which could make him enough money to not look for another job.

During post golden era of weblogs, specially when the Iranian Digg copy websites appeared, his monopoly weblog business was going south. At that point, he started publishing more unconventional content in Iranian web space to gain attention. Mostly, they were of sexual nature. A good example is a video he published where he asks an Israeli girl to repeat graphic sexual words in Farsi (Persian) after him. The girl did not speak a word of that language. Another example is his dedicated website to naked pictures of Monica Bellucci.

I am not writing this to reveal that Hossein Derakhshan is a successful web attention seeker. I am writing this to let you know that in summer of 2009, when our tiny team was trying to protect huge DDoS attacks on a handful of low budget EC2 instances funded by donations, we were convinced that on the other side of the line, Mr Derakhshan had made a deal to conduct the operations by hiring Russians. This was by tracing his old account on our website to multiple new accounts claiming how they enjoy taking down the website, and let me tell you this, if you write thousands of lines on the web with your identity, it is not easy to escape your writing style when you pretend to be someone else.

Another elections is coming in a couple of months in Iran, where the government allows high profile media to report from inside Iran, hence this article pop up out of no where. This is a known pattern.

I had to get this off my chest after so many year. It is disturbing to see links like this on the front page of hn, where people claim to be pro democracy and freedom. This hurts.

enraged_camel 1 day ago 0 replies      
He wrote something similar earlier this year that was discussed on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9994653

There's definitely more to be said on this topic, though.

marincounty 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was watching Solyent Green last night. I have seen the movie so many tines, but last night it reminded me of my own eventual mortality.

There's a scene when Charleton Heston shows his, I believe, father some refrence books that he stole from the rich guy.

On the books, I saw report for 2016 to 2025.

I thought to myself, I'm glad we are not living in a Solent Green world--yet. I thought about just how difficult it is to predict the future.

That said, I don't like the direction of this internet. I loath FB. I loath it for various reasons. I'm trying to be objective. "Do I dislike it because I don't have a lot of friends?" I don't know? I just loath the site. Always have, but I'm a odd person. I'll cop to that.

Somebody above me asked for solutions. I think we should share anything we have. Yes, there are poachers, with deep pockets, that will steal ideas, but we're talking something that was very special. I liked the Internet in 2008. I don't like it as much now. So, please offer solutions?

(To the Downvoters, give people a chance to offer their ideas without your petty boos. It's not all about you, and your precious, fragile mood?)

wahsd 1 day ago 0 replies      
Well, Zuckerberg has said that he wants Facebook to replace the internet, at least in people's minds and actions; hence why he is ever expanding the walled garden.
adventured 1 day ago 2 replies      
This is at least the third or fourth generation of whining I've been through about XYZ is going to kill the Web, in the last 20 years.

AOL was going to kill the Web in its infancy, ensuring a walled off garden.

Microsoft was going to kill the Web and dominate cyberspace by inserting various points of control. Magazine cover after magazine cover predicted and warned on this for years in the mid to late 1990s.

Apps were going to kill the Web.

Facebook, Twitter et al. are going to kill the Web.

Four or five years from now: new thing is going to kill the Web. Rinse & repeat for an eternity. Absolutely nothing has changed in the argument, they just keep replacing one boogieman with another. I'm pretty sure after watching it for two decades that it's just an excuse to whine, forecast doom, and be overly dramatic. As it turns out, the Web is extraordinarily resilient + adaptive and will be just fine.

mavdi 1 day ago 1 reply      
Neither of which were experienced by anyone outside US.
onewaystreet 1 day ago 6 replies      
Most of this is just a guy complaining becuse he can't adapt to the new world.
gotchange 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Theres a story in the Quran that I thought about a lot during my first eight months in solitary confinement. In it, a group of persecuted Christians find refuge in a cave. They, and a dog they have with them, fall into a deep sleep and wake up under the impression that they have taken a nap: in fact, its 300 years later. One version of the story tells of how one of them goes out to buy food and I can only imagine how hungry they must have been after 300 years and discovers that his money is obsolete now, a museum item. Thats when he realises how long they have been absent."

Slightly off-topic, does he realize that this was a fable and not a true story as human beings can't live for 300 years much less without food, water and a way to expel waste?

Using D and std.ndslice as a Numpy Replacement jackstouffer.com
75 points by bionsuba   ago   45 comments top 8
RogerL 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Does D have code for: plotting, optimization, probability distributions, machine learning, Fourier transformations, masked arrays, finanial calculations, structured arrays (read a CSV from disk, get named columns based on the header), SVD, QR and Cholesky decomposition, eigens, least squares, Levenberg Marquardt, matrix inverse and pseudoinverses, integration, Runge Kutta, interpolation, bsplines, fft convolves, multidimensional images, KDTrees, symbolic equation solvers, merge/join of data sets, etc.?

Because I use almost all of these every single day (I don't do multidimensional images or b-splines much at all). Are those all in standard libraries, fully documented, backed by 60 year old, fully debugge code (LAPACK, etc), that I reliably email to anyone across the world and they can immediately run and modify my code because it is such a standard? I honestly don't know, but I'm guessing not.

I use Python/Numpy/Scipy/Pandas/Matplotlib because everyone else in the world knows and uses them; they are a standard. Yes, my np.mean() might be slower than your map(). I almost always don't care. That misses the forest for the trees.

The article might be a good argument for why library writers might consider building out D's standard library to support numerical computation, I dunno. But no one is going to use D for serious number crunching without that infrastructure in place. People moved from Fortran and Matlab to Python not because it is fast, but for the environment. These language tricks are cute and all (I like D well enough, don't get me wrong), but it ain't why we are using Python.

At this point, if I were to switch languages to something without a lot of adoption I'd lean towards Julia. It also have a modern language design, but it is written from the ground up for numerical computation. I can't think of any reason I'd ever reach for D.

cannam 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I occasionally rewrite Python+NumPy signal processing code in C++ for purposes of packaging and integration with native apps, so I read these examples with an eye to how they compare with typical C++, rather than with NumPy. They compare very well, and it would never have occurred to me to look into D as a possibility for this sort of code.

I'm guessing the GC might rule it out for many cases where you do signal processing in C++, but I may as well ask: what's the deployment side of things like? Can I easily build a shared library and use it from a C++ application?

jboy 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Credit to the D developers for providing a concise, carefully-designed library for N-D array processing. The chained method invocations demonstrate D's UFCS (Uniform Function Call Syntax) nicely. And it's a definite bonus that you can use underscore like a comma separator in long integer literals (eg, `100_000`).

But if you use Python + Numpy/Scipy/Matplotlib and you're looking for a modern, compiled language for execution speedups or greater flexibility than what Numpy broadcasting operations provide by default, I would recommend Nim. It's as fast as C++ or D, it has Pythonic syntax, and it already includes many of D's best features (including type inference, UFCS, and underscores in integer literals).

And best of all, you don't need to rewrite all your existing Python+Numpy code into a new language to start using Nim.

The Pymod library we've created allows you to write Nim functions, compile them as standard CPython extension modules, and simply drop them into your existing Python code: https://github.com/jboy/nim-pymod

The Pymod library even includes a type `ptr PyArrayObject` that provides native Nim access to Numpy ndarrays via the Numpy C-API [ https://github.com/jboy/nim-pymod#pyarrayobject-type ]. So you can bounce back and forth between your Python code and your Nim code for the cost of a Python extension module function call. All of Numpy, Scipy & Matplotlib are still available to you in Python, in addition to statically-typed C++-like iterators in Nim+Pymod [ https://github.com/jboy/nim-pymod#pyarrayiter-types , https://github.com/jboy/nim-pymod#pyarrayiter-loop-idioms ]. The Nim for-loops will be compiled to C code that the C compiler can then auto-vectorize.

zardeh 15 hours ago 1 reply      
And here we have a case of why microbenchmarks don't work. What you're measuring here isn't a speed difference in the mathematical code, its a constant time overhead from calling into the numerical libs. Up your array size by 100 times and this will become evident.

Why do I say this? Because inlining the python function to

means = numpy.mean(numpy.arange(100000).reshape((100, 1000)), axis=0)

from the original example in the article cut the benchmark time in down from around 215us to 205 us in my testing. That was done by removing a single python bytecode instruction.

Its quite likely that the D numerical code is actually slower than the LAPACK based python numerical code, but you're hiding this in the constant time overhead of a few python function calls.

snydly 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I correct in thinking that this is only reasonable if you're already using D? The switching cost seems too high if you're python everything.

I tried the Armadillo C++ library a while ago (http://arma.sourceforge.net/). The speed up and time spend learning the syntax didn't seem worth it.

p4wnc6 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The central claim of the post seems summarized by this quote:

> For example, when using a non-numpy API or functions that don't use Numpy that return regular arrays, you either have to use the normal Python functions (slow), or use np.asarray which copies the data into a new variable (also slow).

but I disagree strongly with this.

First of all, if there is a common use case for some set of operations that need to be performed on very large data (the type of data you'd look to NumPy to handle), then generally there is already a subpackage within numpy/scipy/scikits/pandas/etc that already deals with that use case and natively handles it with NumPy arrays, with no switching cost to convert back forth between lists or tuples or whatever.

And, of course, when a list/tuple-heavy API is only meant to deal with small data, it's not a problem to use NumPy's facilities for converting between ndarray and the builtin array types. In cases where you're dealing with a huge breadth of small data, then that casts doubt on whether you should be using NumPy; it wouldn't be casting doubt on whatever the other list/tuple-heavy API is. And probably parallelization (or even the buffer stuff I mention below) is a fine solution in that case.

Second, in a lot of cases you can make use of the Python Buffer Protocol to share the underlying data of a NumPy array without copying it. This won't help if some other API expects Python lists or tuples, but the great thing about dynamic typing in Python is that all that really matters is that whatever underlying buffer type you need implements whatever methods that other API expects to call.

You can always write your own extension type that adheres to the Buffer Protocol and also provides whatever API is needed to conform to some other library, so the power to create these double-sided adapters (one side sharing data with NumPy, the other side appearing like a drop-in acceptable data structure for the other library API) is very powerful and generic. It might take some getting used to the first few times you do this, but if you use tools like Cython to help, it's really quite easy to do, easy to maintain, and solves a surprisingly wide range of NumPy integration problems. In fact, these things generally already exist for most problems you will run into and ultimately they often boil down to simple Cython-based wrappers around C bindings to the other Python API you're working with.

I would argue that the existence of this Buffer Protocol adapter strategy alone is enough to say that the switching cost to D is virtually never worth it, and still pretty speculative even if you're starting a brand new numerical computing project.

Finally, most Python libraries that heavily rely on the list or tuple APIs are not meant for large data (those APIs mostly already just use NumPy, as I mentioned, or else they use generators and let the end user decide which array type will eventually be instantiated as the results are consumed). It's not common, by intentional design, for list/tuple-heavy APIs to need to cope with large data, so when someone says something off the cuff like "What do you do when some library API needs lists and you've got NumPy arrays?" it sounds like a worrisome case, but in practice it's really, really uncommon that such a situation arises and no one else ran into it before you and no one has created a NumPy-compliant solution already. It's not impossible, of course. Just unlikely, and probably not important enough to use as a basis for language choice, unless you're facing a really special sort of API problem.

Edit: None of this should read at all as a criticism of the D language or this particular implementation of ndarray data structures. All that stuff is great and anyone wishing to use D absolutely should.

I'm only arguing against the post's central thesis insofar as it is used to justify considering D as an alternative to scientific Python. The problem that the post points out already has solutions solely in the Python ecosystem, many projects have handled that problem before, and the problem is pretty rare and esoteric anyway, so it's probably not a good thing to use as the basis of an important choice like which language to use, or whether to switch languages.

There could be many reasons to prefer D over scientific Python depending on a given use case, and there could be certain situations where switching from Python to D is a good idea. Whatever those cases may be, the central issue of this post, performance degradation caused by NumPy-to-other-API compatibility, is not one of them.

tadlan 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Use numba to compile python loops or array expressions to fast llvm, and problem solved. I'm sticking with python.
fizixer 13 hours ago 1 reply      
click-bait. Why should I change my language even if I'm looking for a numpy replacement?
       cached 3 January 2016 17:02:01 GMT