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I Am Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator. AMA
134 points by sama  1 hour ago   281 comments top 141
BinaryIdiot 24 minutes ago 3 replies      
Hey Sam,

Any comment regarding Jason Calacanis being banned from YC's upcoming demo day? Jason tweeted[1] his side but didn't know what the YC side of it was and was curious.

[1] https://twitter.com/Jason/status/710176806184349696

eranation 46 minutes ago 2 replies      
Hi Sam.Will you consider a batch in other US locations? (For example in Atlanta).It can increase the applicant base due to lower cost of living and will allow a different flavor of founders to apply in my opinion.

I think the next billion $ enterprise startup will be more likely to come from such a batch. People who face enterprise software problems are not always in a stage in life that allows them to move to SF for a few months. YC might be missing out a large cohort of founders who work in enterprise software, outside of the Bay Area, and would disrupt their industry given the chance but are less flexible in moving to SF.

There are many "old tech" hubs outside SF that can generate great new startups. medical IT, medical devices, mechanical and aviation industry, enterprise software etc. Are Enterprise software ideas and founders with years of enterprise software experience adequately represented at YC?

dilippkumar 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'd love to apply, but I'm on a H1-b visa and I'm basically in prison. How did the other international founders you worked with get around the immigration mess to start a company?
arasmussen 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam,

What are some actions people like myself can take to push our community, nation, and world towards Basic Income?

This is particularly important to me because of how fast Uber/Tesla are rushing towards fully autonomous vehicles. Over 4 million jobs in US alone are as drivers. They're all gonna be laid off soon.

Fede_V 48 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hey Sam, semi technical question here. NIPS, ran an experiments a few years ago where for 10% of the papers they had two completely independent teams of reviewers assess papers and score them - the agreement between the teams was very low: http://blog.mrtz.org/2014/12/15/the-nips-experiment.html barely better than chance, actually).

Would you consider doing something similar for YC? Obviously, you already have multiple people looking at websites/applications, but I'd be really curious to see what the agreement is like - and you have some absolutely exception AI/data scientists people at openAI who could crunch all the numbers.

spike021 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
Education-wise, are you able to describe the percentages of applicants with backgrounds coming from top schools versus lower-tier schools?

Being in the Bay Area, I know that Stanford and UC Berkeley tend to have a decent amount of relatively successful launches/founders, but on the other hand I can't say I hear nearly as much about people who went to San Francisco State or San Jose State (or any other lower-tier schools that are not just located in SF Bay Area).

If there is a large enough discrepancy, do you have any ideas of ways to jumpstart or spark other educational communities to have a greater focus on trying out ideas, especially with YC (or other programs)?

Personally, I'm finishing studying at San Jose State and while there is an Entrepreneurship Club, the focus for that side of things (at least from what I've seen) tends to stay purely on the Business college end, rather than other potential high-impact areas (aside from the occasional mobile app here and there).

nbadg 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam. Two questions:

1. I'm a little in the dark about what happens to applications that have already been seen (because they were submitted early) that are then edited pre-deadline. I've been putting off submission because I'm very close to having an MVP demo video, which I think would be strongly to my advantage to include, but I also know that early submissions face a strong advantage as well. Do you have any advice on the balance between the two, specific to the YC application process? Would it make sense to submit now and edit in the demo later?

2. Are you aware of any publicly available resources for founders to do their due-diligence on investors? I've met a couple of investors by chance (at bars, amusingly enough) that, after hanging out for a few hours, I knew would be a bad fit -- but it would be a waste of both the investors' time and my time if we didn't learn that until the first face-to-face meeting. Do you have any advice on how to maximize search utility (for both an investor and my company) when I'm building my list of potential investors?

d--b 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Hi Sam, when I applied to YC a while back (2014 I think), I noticed that the video I posted was looked at once after 12am, and the landing page on my website was opened at something like 1am for 10 seconds. With the amount of applications you guys receive that seems inevitable, but it also seems that you would miss a lot of stuff if the reviewers are checking things well into the night. Have you made some progress on that front since?
d0m 6 minutes ago 1 reply      
When YC started, it was so small that PG and Jessica knew everyone's names and could invest a lot of time and effort into making the startups successful. One complaint as YC gets bigger is that there is more "Fast food advice", i.e. there are so many startups that a partner can't hardly remember all of them and we both know that most often than not the devil is in the details. What's YC plan to make sure this doesn't happen as it continues to grow stronger? I assume getting more partners on board is definitely one, and having special group for certain verticals (i.e. biotech or hardware). Any other plans? Thanks for the AMA
Jommi 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam!

We here in Finland have been slowly developing a startup ecosystem.

The effort started 5-years ago and now finally, thanks to the amazing bunch of volunteers, we have stuff like Slush and Startup Saunato show for it.

What would be your advice in rocketing the finnish startup ecosystem to the next level?

P.S. You should visit us sometime, we'd love to host you at Startup Sauna!

jimrandomh 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
What is your plan for AI safety, and how does OpenAI fit into it?

In http://blog.samaltman.com/machine-intelligence-part-2 you laid out sensible requirements and safeguards we should demand of late-stage AI development when it gets further along. But OpenAI's founding statement seems to have baked in a mission and vision that's incompatible with those safeguards, requiring immediate sharing of breakthroughs even if the technologies required to use them safely aren't ready yet. That founding statement used to have the word "safely" in it, but this was edited out without any sort of announcement or comment, and, to the best of my thirdhand-rumor knowledge, OpenAI is not currently doing any safety-related research.

(I wrote a blog post on this back in December, and no one has given any plausible answer: http://conceptspacecartography.com/openai-should-hold-off-on... )

nostrademons 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Would you recommend getting cofounders first and then iterating on different possible ideas, or finding an idea that resonates with users first and then approaching people you know about founding a company around it?
ElHacker 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hello Sam. I'm a Software Engineer at a Big Tech Co. I've been ambivalent about going back to school to do a part-time master's degree in AI, or just do self-studying. Creating a startup in the US is not an option for me yet since I'm on a TN visa (hoping to get a green card in the following years). What do you think is the best investment of my time, and how far ahead in the future should someone plan to start a "hard tech" startup? (I'm on my mid 20's
henrymercer 32 minutes ago 2 replies      
Last March, you mentioned on twitter that you are a customer of/financially support Shanley Kane's organization, Model View Culture. Since since then (and before then too), she has made a variety of racially and sexually charged statements, such as, "fire some fuckin white guys to get it done" ( https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KtAdEv... ). Do you or Y-Combinator still patronize or support Model View Code after these statements? (A pure yes or no is fine, I don't need a big discussion, I just want to know where you and YCombinator stand.)
fumar 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
You mentioned previously YC is after bio-tech startups. What traits would a bio-tech team need for YC consideration? And, what is an ideal stage for a bio-tech crew (long-term vision) to raise capital?


kartayyar 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
You mentioned that you are interested in AI.

Chris Dixon made an interesting post about how some AI ideas are better suited for bigger companies because of the data and compute needs.


What are your thoughts on what classes of AI problems are better for startups vs. big companies?

BrooklynRage 1 hour ago 3 replies      
When doing a hard tech startup, how can you show traction/product-market-fit to investors before your product is being sold? The cost of going from crude prototype to sellable product can easily be in the 6-figure range, so how do you break this Catch 22?
MeherSom 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've been following you and @paulg as well as many other YC members for a long period and I'm quiet confident that you'll adhere to the vision/idea behind a project that I'm about to start this year. Do you recommend that I apply for YC really early, like now, just to present the idea ? Or should I develop it and apply with a prototype ? Or should I launch it and then apply ? In which case can YC help the idea to have bigger chances to succeed ? And in which case you do you most likely accept the application or at least give it a better chance ?
over 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
What are the pros and cons of Silicon Valley being the VC capital of the world? How do you feel about it on the whole? Do you guys ever talk about diversifying, either inside the US or out?
GFischer 16 minutes ago 1 reply      
What would you value more for the application: a potentially huge, innovative idea plus a weekend-hack prototype/demo but no market validation yet, or a more mature, somewhat validated product but with existing startups on the space, some YC-backed?

I have a very clear vision of what we want to accomplish, but we're selling a much more down to earth service to our customers and prospects. I do think there's a path leading us to our vision (think Netflix going from CDs to streaming). Should we describe our vision in the application?

_Marak_ 44 minutes ago 1 reply      
What would you personally consider a good failure percentage of YC backed companies?

Is http://yclist.com/ a valid source of data? If so, it seems like YC could be at the cusp of a large amount of DEAD companies starting from S10 to current.

tmbeihl 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam, Two of my college buddies and I applied to YC this week, we're looking forward to growing our startup idea. What do you think is the number one thing that most founders don't think about that ultimately hurts their company?
klunger 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Would YC consider subsidising child care costs for participating founders? At present, the infamously high cost of child care in the Bay Area makes YC out of reach for most founders with young children.
drwl 8 minutes ago 1 reply      
Was there a moment in your life that created a sense of urgency to live life to the fullest? From the looks of things you're doing so many (cool) things.
hoodoof 15 minutes ago 2 replies      
If relationship breakdown between cofounders is the reason for so many company failures, why does YC not proactively solve that by requiring all founders to attend weekly relationship counselling, for which YC pays?

Could such a thing prevent more breakups and therefore greatly increase chances of company success? And the cost is pretty small for YC to employ relationship counsellors.

baron816 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
My company Krewe (https://www.gokrewe.com) is aimed at helping people make a new group of close friends in their neighborhood that they can see every day and build a strong local community. I only have a couple hundred sign ups (after about three weeks) so I don't know for sure that the concept will work. I also don't have a cofounder. Should I apply to YC now, or potentially wait for the next batch when I would (hopefully) have more traction?
Huhty 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Do you agree or disagree on each of Rand Fishkin's (Moz) 10 SEO/marketing/business predictions for 2016 as posted here a couple months ago:



comment 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hi Sam,

I am an international founder. I want to join YC and incorporate in the US. But to avoid wasting time on visa things, I want to return to my home country (India) after YC.

1) Should I mention this in my application? 2) From YC's point of view, do you prefer international founders who want to stay on in the US or those who want to go back to their home country? Assuming they would kill it either way.

(PS - My startup is COMMENT.ws whereas YTERMINATOR.com, UNICOCK.com are light hearted hacks to get YC's attention)

jennykaypollock 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What would you be doing if you weren't running YC?
mlchild 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'm intrigued by your comments that you're interested in funding social networksit seems like a new one launches on Product Hunt every day, but few are able to overcome the chicken-and-egg problem and achieve scale.

What's your take on the best way to make the network useful on day one for a small number of users? What are you looking for in a YC app for a social network (with or without traction)?

gmarx 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Did you really get scurvy when you were in YC?
neurotech1 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'd read from various sources that a team and their execution are more important than ideas, but wondered how would you handle a startup with a (hypothetically) brilliant idea, but with less than brilliant team performance?
iMuzz 1 hour ago 1 reply      
YC has a giant application pool. This makes it very difficult for very early stage companies with no revenue / users to compete in the application pool.

As a company with no revenue / users, How can we best stand out against those that do have growth / users?

I understand that companies can apply for the fellowship. But what does a company lose by getting into the Fellowship over Core?

benhamner 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How much traffic per day does hacker news typically get?
beeboop 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Do you think YC would have been interested in something like Minecraft back in its infancy if you saw how fast user base was growing?

Does YC have any interest at all in startups (if you can call them that) whose main product is a video game of some sort?

partycoder 45 minutes ago 1 reply      
From your experience, which personality traits are the highest predictors of success or failure in startup people?
vlokshin 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
The RFS list is strong, but general.

Are you excited about any specific ideas for the S16 batch? If so - what and why? (genuinely curious. Already applied... so I can't go and change the idea now :) )

lomnakkus 21 minutes ago 1 reply      
OK, so... what have you ever done for the world?

(As per my usual disclaimer: I'm not being facetious.)

mettamage 22 minutes ago 1 reply      
Is it possible to apply with no idea?

Assuming that the applicants are able to demonstrate:

- they can build stuff

- they're a good team fit (e.g. showing a small project from the past)

- they can generate ideas which they're passionate about

If not: do you have a tip for improving these nearly graduated* university applicants?

* 80 hours of course work left

kartikkumar 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is it a strong criterion that applicants you admit into the program have a (clear) path to building billion-dollar companies? Or do you give more weight to solving important problems? In other words, does ROI trump problem-solving, and if so, are teams tackling niche problems at a disadvantage?
dougddo 22 minutes ago 1 reply      
Any advice or observations regarding doing one's first startup in one's 30's and up?
fantasticfears 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
P.R.China has a strong policy to control information and policy restriction. What do you think of the possible problems for YC to cooperate with Chinese companies? Does that impede the growth of a startup?
eganist 40 minutes ago 1 reply      
Any plans for YC to get into seed rounds e.g. both to support startups with high potential as well as to potentially offer some of the benefits of YC connections to those who might've gone through another incubator?

(I know YC's policy on incubating startups which have already been through other incubators, which I believe if I recall correctly is a very data-driven "no." My question comes more from the standpoint of whether any YC benefits might be available to startups which already have some success but are still very much in the early stages)

smaili 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've submitted my application as a single founder - not because I want it that way but because none of my friends have the freedom for a venture.

Does YC do match making (if they see a good fit) or this something you need to specifically request on the application?

taytus 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've applied like 3 times already. The second time we had a follow up question but nothing else, should I give up applying with this company?
mwpmaybe 30 minutes ago 1 reply      
Sam, thank you for taking some time to answer our questions. Mark Suster and other VCs have recently expressed distaste for convertible notes and SAFEs. Are you still in favor of SAFEs? In general, what are your thoughts on seeking seed funding for super early stage startups when determining a valuation might be problematic?
8piGTc2 40 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hi, Sam! Don't you think that AR/VR is overvalued by large companies? Microsoft has not created Google, Wal-Mart has not created Amazon, Ford has not created Tesla.
benclarke 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam. The social graph, interest graph, and professional graph have all been successfully mapped online. When do you believe the location graph will also be mapped at scale, and by whom?
mixedbit 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Are all YC companies incorporated in US? If not, what other countries are acceptable for YC and investors that cooperate with YC?
ObsoleteMailMan 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
How did you learn to communicate so well? Any book recommendations?

What do you recommend to get great at building products? Any recommendations for college students? Engineering courses don't seem to do justice.

(21, in college)

rachellaw 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How much is the bias against startups that have been to other accelerators? What are the benchmarks for progress in those cases?
gusgordon 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why are you so in favor of nuclear energy startups when solar+batteries seems to be the cheaper and more immediately implementable option?
iamleppert 43 minutes ago 1 reply      
Do you really drive a mclaren to work everyday?
animex 38 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hi Sam, does age of the founders factor in much in an application? I'm an older developer (40+).
kartayyar 46 minutes ago 0 replies      
What are some of the biggest mistakes you have seen founders make when validating startup ideas and what can be done to avoid them?
jmcmahon443 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
What is the payback period YC looks for? i.e. How many years does it take for a home-run to become a home-run?
trunx 37 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm from a team of first time startup doing a hardware medical device company. We have computer science, mechanical and electrical engineering background but very little experience with medical devices. Is this a big red flag for you guys?
Taraji 28 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hi Sam, you just replied to a question with this : "Having a cofounder you don't know well is usually a very bad idea. It's much more important to trust someone and know they are great than to 'hire' for a specific skill."

What do you recommend for someone who isn't a friend with a good developer ?Is it better to subcontract the development of the site/app to a good software development company ?

BillionaireBear 30 minutes ago 1 reply      
Hi Sam

How do you decide between putting a company in the fellowship vs YC core?

canistr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What are your thoughts on working with the Ontario government to study UBI?
Simorgh 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I wondered what your thoughts were on the apple / fbi situation ? How would you expect startups to act if they found themselves in a similar predicament?
jennykaypollock 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What's the best way to find a cofounder if you've already graduated from college?
matt_wulfeck 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Mr. Altman, can you tell us about your morning routine?
abhi3 57 minutes ago 1 reply      
In your last AMA you mentioned something about doing a YC batch in a foreign country. Is that something you are still considering?
khalloud 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sam if you are a semi technical founder (you have coded before but not recently enough to build your product) and you have to get a cofounder but have the choice between one you know and will be able to climb mountains with but has the same dilemma vs a technical cofounder/employee. Who would you choose to go with? The one you can figure it out with or the one who can basically do it for you?
rollinDyno 1 hour ago 1 reply      
In management school there's a lot of flexibility regarding the nature of a leader. In your experience grooming founders, what has been the most efficient style of leadership?
hayksaakian 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam

Do you think non-venture backed companies can change the world?

Does YC want to help founders who do not want funding?

vit05 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam,

What do you think about Social Media Apps that do not use traditional "follow my profile" as a way to share photos, videos and texts?

Do you believe that dividing the profit received from the ads, a model similar to YouTube -unlike Instagram, Facebook and Twitter where the company takes all; can be used to attract content creators in direct competition with these tools already established in the market ?

This could be considered a Disruptive Innovation?


juxtreme 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
How do you evaluate companies that are more technically ( hardware, computing) challenging? If two founders have been working on a hard problem for ~6 months, what are the things you look for since there isn't any revenue or growth?
tymekpavel 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Do you think the recent cutbacks in startup workforces and VC funding will be sustained, or are just a temporary market correction?
mcphilip 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Re: Hard Tech is Back

>So, if youre thinking about starting one, wed like to talk. And we think we can help

What's the preferred method of contact? I have connections to a "hard tech" startup in Austin and pointed the founders at your blog post.

pierzcham 1 hour ago 1 reply      
YCR has published request for research in basic income recently. What plans do you have for future areas of reseach?
chasecache 48 minutes ago 1 reply      
I don't live in the Bay Area, so I don't have many connections within the YC network. How big of a role do referrals play in the application process?
faraazn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Approximately what percentage of projects that get accepted into YC are just in the idea stage?
bcjordan 34 minutes ago 0 replies      
Do you keep up with any recent academic research? (If so, how? If not, do you wish you did?)
kartayyar 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
What public companies have you invested in?
hashnsalt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How do you see online education growing? Will there be more bootcamps or is it really possible to build a university entirely online?
rdl 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Any interesting new verticals where you think YC will expand to the degree it has in hardware?
vm 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What are the biggest CEO lessons you learned from your roles at Loopt and YC?
xiaoma 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
How would you get enough initial users for a collaborative learning tool that requires multiple users to be able to offer value?
gyardley 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Are you at all concerned that the compressed timetable leading up to Demo Day contributes to founder burnout and unhealthy lifestyles? How do you know the program isn't inadvertently damaging some of its participants?
api 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Did anything ever come of YC's "one million jobs" RFP?
juxtreme 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Is Robert Morris still involved in YC? Does he read applications and provide office hours ?
vral 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How do you personally figure out the difference between a petty problem vs. something actually worth solving?
ericzawo 33 minutes ago 1 reply      
What's one piece of advice you could give to a recent graduate?
ryderj 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Are we any more/less likely to be accepted if our team is straight out of University?
ztratar 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've heard a lot about the areas you're most passionate about and YC has the famous list of markets, but what areas are you least excited about and why?
wj 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I think I recall seeing something about the Fellowship and Summer programs being the same application but last I looked I couldn't find where that was mentioned. Is that still the case?

I feel like I'm a bit between in that I have a product but haven't closed my first customer but hoping to real soon.

joeblau 39 minutes ago 1 reply      
You're always wearing running shoes... how often and far do you run each week?
efader 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
What is a failure you are most proud of?
kiloreux 58 minutes ago 1 reply      
In your personal opinion, what will be the next big thing in technology is it AI ? do you have other thoughts ? Thanks for your time.
rjsparks3 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hardware startup question / both yc programs: How many "devices" would you expect an applicant to have in the field w users falling in love for you to feel they had sufficiently demonstrated "customer love traction". Just asking in light of the complexities with small batch hardware. Thanks!
jbob2000 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hey Sam,

YC companies seem to have a similar "look and feel" about them. Do you agree with that? Do you think this is a good or bad thing?

ikeboy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How important are brilliant technical founders in non technical startups (by which I mean the main problem they're trying to solve is not a technical one)?
djiejxnncks 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
How does applying with a spouse impact an application?
faraazn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What does a company lose by getting into YC Fellowship over YC Core?
kartayyar 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
What do you see as the typical structure of a founding team of hardware companies?
matt101589 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam. How many of accepted startups are side-projects before entering YC?
jonmc12 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
What did you think was the most interesting feedback or update on OpenAI since announcing in Dec?
firehawk895 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam. Ours is an education marketplace (Pyoopil), still looking for a product market fit. Any advice for us? -- now that you guys have acquired imagine-k12. Will there be a special focus on ed-tech startups?
jennykaypollock 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What's the most impactful skill people should learn in their 20s?
andreygrehov 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam, two questions.

1). When do you wake up?

2). When do you go to bed?

davidgrenier 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Has YC lost the love for functional programming or are founders on such a foundation well regarded?
rrtigga 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How do you know when it's time to move on with your idea?
mkagenius 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Would YC fund a weird startup idea if its just in the idea stage but the founder has a good track record?
swampthinker 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Do you think that people will care more about energy efficiency if they saw how much energy a home might use on Zillow?
8cellos 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Are educational projects viewed mainly by IK12 or by all YC partners? What about hardware educational startups, do they stand a chance? IK12 only got software startups so far, so...
parisandmilo 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What kind of security companies do you look out for? How much importance do you place on technical certifications when it comes to founders in security?
garrettflanagan 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Sam! Hello, How do you foreseee your Universal Basic Income analysis plan working with with politicians and public policy officials?
janvdberg 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hi Sam, I always wondered how someone so young could become president of YC (and do an awesome job at it). Or would you say it's actually a prerequisite?
throwaway33912 58 minutes ago 1 reply      
What should we (smart, technical people) be doing to stop Trump if he makes it to the general election? While it might not be the best fit for YC, have you thought about adding this to your RFS page?
kepano 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What's the meaning of life?
wittedhaddock 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
Where do you see YC in a decade? How will you know it's there?
hodder 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
Twitter valuation given revenue growth... what say you? Buyer here?
foobarqux 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Can you elaborate on the details of why Calacanis was asked not to come to demo day? Is it true that certain VCs get first dibs on YC companies before demo day?
m_mozafarian 1 hour ago 1 reply      
What's the probability on acceptance for those who are applying the second time? Is it progress or right fit that you mostly look for?
jorgecurio 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
what do you think about the recent article calling out on arrogance of SV?
emmasz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's easier to get into YC fellowship. - can you put it that way?
andreygrehov 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Recommend 3 must-read books.
tuilan10 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Hi, do you often invest on pure consumer product with no business model but great traction ? Thks
kjcharles 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What sort of growth would you look for in a social net applying to YC Fellowship & YC Core?
siddarthvik1 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Is YC interested in high altitude drones for high speed communications?
superfx 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Any news on what the next lab at YCR will be about?
tejovanth 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hey how do you talk about a culture-centric problem to a foreign investor/accelerator. By culture-centric I mean in terms of the festivities and celebrations that's localised to a place.
samsherer 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What are the main differences in your mind between Techstars and YC
philippnagel 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
Do you have advice for people running agency-style businesses?

What do you hate the most when working with such entities?

kasps 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I haven't yet come across a YC partner I didn't like. How do you screen for niceness in an interview? Any heuristics?
Balgair 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Favorite Beer? Why/not?
Kumzy30 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hey Sam,

is YC helping non-tech startups such as clothing industry?

MeherSom 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Can you give us an idea of the number of applications you receive for every session and how many do you accept ?
MeherSom 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Applications are only for an already developed product/prototype ? Or can we apply apply to present an idea ?
MeherSom 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I need a technical co-founder to build a platform and I don't know any developer, what can I do ? 1- Search for one ? Any recommendation for the steps to make in order to find the right man ? 2- Or ask a web/mobile development company to build the platform ? What do you think are the +/- of this case ?
foobarqux 56 minutes ago 1 reply      
Is Peter Thiel still a part-time partner? Does he come around the office?
halsharari 1 hour ago 1 reply      
can I apply to YC alone or do I have to have a team?
tosseraccount 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Will your firm ever go public and trade on an exchange?
lilrushi 1 hour ago 1 reply      
How can I get an internship at Y Combinator?
steve19 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Thank you Sam! I know it is early days, but how is YC Research doing so far? Any plans on expanding it?
Alupis 58 minutes ago 7 replies      
> I'm on a H1-b visa and I'm basically in prison

I know this is an exaggeration, and I'm fully aware the current visa situation in the US could be better, but I really take issue with the sentiment of your statement.

You're being afforded an enormous opportunity here, and should not compare it with being in a prison.

Think about it -- you clearly decided your home country was not as conducive for building your future as the US may be, and therefore applied for (and accepted) a visa. Now it's up to you to prove value in allowing you to remain in the country. A visa is a privilege, not a right.

Literally billions of folks around the world are never given this opportunity.

DanBC 1 hour ago 0 replies      
How do you feel about #hnwatch?
daniyel 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why didn't you do this AMA on /r/programming?
tlawal87 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Earlier this week, you listed your specific investment interests. If we are working on one of those tough problems in regulated environments, what is the best way to get a serious consideration from Y Combinator (apart from continuing to build as fast as we can & talking to our initial users)?
An Experimental Autism Treatment Cost Me My Marriage well.blogs.nytimes.com
361 points by salgernon  4 hours ago   197 comments top 24
kauffj 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I work with John's son, Jack, on LBRY (http://lbry.io). The whole Robison family is full of people with interesting stories:

- Jack went to trial as a teenager, facing 60 years (!) in prison for chemistry experiments (http://www.masslive.com/localbuzz/index.ssf/2009/06/actionre...)

- John showcasing a guitar that Jack's mother and Jack built for KISS (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXZi4UZjiiI&t=10)

- John's brother is Augusten Burroughs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augusten_Burroughs)

I pointed Jack to this thread. I believe he went through same treatment as John at one point if people have questions.

graeme 3 hours ago 10 replies      
Is the way he describes intensely feeling others emotions normal?

When I was younger, I was awful at reading people. Very shy with others as a result, because I was missing most of the data.

I eventually decided to learn how to read body language. I did some training to recognize expressions, focussed on one skill at a time, and viewed every conversation as practice. I improved to the point that people comment that I'm surprisingly good at reading them.

But the emotions don't hit me the way this author describes. I just....see them.

Granted, I've also practice stoicisim and mindfulness, which explicitly trains you to not worry about things like someone insulting you (or hearing a comment that might be construed as insulting).

But, I've wondered if something is going on. When I was younger, before learning to read people, I read descriptions of Aspergers and it sounded much like me. Now when I read them it sounds not very much like me, because a significant component of those symptom descriptions involve poor social skills.


mchahn 3 hours ago 17 replies      
A functionally autistic woman, Temple Grandin, wrote a fascinating book on autism. She offered a simple test for autism. Think of a church steeple (stop and do that).

If you thought of a real steeple you had actually seen then you probably tend towards autism. If you thought of an abstract non-existing steeple then you don't tend towards it.

I was at a gathering of employees in my company. There were about a dozen random people sitting around a table. I tested the whole group at once. Every single programmer answered with a real steeple and every non-programmer thought abstract.

I know this doesn't represent a real study and chance was involved. But it matches something else she said. Functional autistics with jobs are predominantly programmers. She quoted a number, like 70%, but I don't remember for sure.

I, a programmer, personally prefer human interaction on the web. Meeting in real-life, not so much.

theoh 3 hours ago 4 replies      
The extreme sense of feeling the emotions of others that is described in the article seems like something stronger than normal for typical people, but perhaps it's just relative to previous baseline of little insight into the emotions of others.

Some research opposes the deficits of autism to the excesses of schizophrenia. Not sure it's totally relevant to this item, but seeing emotional meanings where they don't exist is a very schizotypal (positive schizotypy) phenomenon:


munificent 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> Later, people at work told me theyd liked me better the way I was before.

Whenever you make a large change in yourself, you are going to alienate people in your life. This doesn't say anything about whether the change is good or bad.

The set of people currently in your life is highly biased towards people who like you the way you are. If they didn't, they wouldn't be in your life.

The more interesting question is after you make a change and get a new set of people, how do those people compare to your old set?

mfoy_ 4 hours ago 2 replies      
It's hard to imagine what it must be like to go from feeling no emotions to feeling them all, like the colourblind glasses.

It's relatively easy to imagine seeing the world in black and white and then having the colour switch flipped. I can't imagine the same for emotion... what a wild ride it must have been. It must have been so painful at first, especially when he realized that some of his "funny friends" had really been making fun of him...

franciscop 3 hours ago 5 replies      
Maybe a more apt title would be "An experimental autism treatment gave me my son back".
RangerScience 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm "spectrum" enough to have an opposite reaction to various drugs - Ritalin being the important one, here - and my experience is... similar, in some ways.

I probably didn't notice other people's emotions a lot when I was younger, to the effect that now that I'm older, and do notice them, I frequently don't have any idea what to do with that understanding.

scott_s 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised there was no protocol where he went to regular therapy to help him process the new emotions, and his new ability to read emotional cues in others. I suspect therapy may have helped with his understanding that he gained years later, which is that your perception of someone's emotions is not always correct.
orik 3 hours ago 9 replies      
It's too bad John felt he needed to seek treatment to 'cure' his autism.

I was diagnosed when I was 17, and I get to interact with a lot of other students on the spectrum every day at my school. There are a few students that believe autism is something to overcome, and that if they try hard enough perhaps one day they won't be 'autistic'. Most of us are comfortable with the fact that we're different.

billhendricksjr 3 hours ago 4 replies      
Reminds me of Flowers for Algernon, my grandfather's favorite book.
opendomain 4 hours ago 6 replies      
Please note that the results are not reproducible.

This effectively putting a current the the subject's brain and can be dangerous if not administered by a doctor

epx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I had a slightly similar experience while taking antidepressants. The anxiety went completely away. That made me drive more recklessly (my parents and my wife began to dread taking a lift) and I contemplated getting a mistress. Of course, I did compensate for that, once I took note of the effects. But actually a certain level of anxiety is a good tool, and I went out of medication as soon as possible.

I talked about my suspected Asperger syndrome with the psychiatrist, and she said "I could medicate you for that, but are you really sure you want to change?".

foobarbecue 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"Seeing emotion didnt make my life happy. It scared me, as the fear I felt in others took hold in me, too." Reminded me of an excellent death metal track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUVPIknZ9ao

Lyrics include:

The thing that scares me most /Is the fear I see in others /And the thing that really frightens me to the core /is when I see that fear in you

bung 3 hours ago 1 reply      
> It took me five years to find a new balance and stability. In that time, my sense that I could see into peoples souls faded.

I wondered how that would go, we all go through years of social interaction and have to build walls. Nowadays, I don't know if my walls have become too thick or if I never had the same emotional range as others in the first place.

nxzero 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Unclear how it made sense to provide such a potential life changing treatment to someone that was likely more than halfway through their adult life. Is this common to perform such potential profound treatment when there's a very real chance of it having a negative impact?
vehementi 3 hours ago 2 replies      
> but instead she said matter of factly, You wont need me anymore.

What? There was no follow up on this. Why would anyone say that - how does this even make sense at a basic level? Was there no follow up question by him?

callesgg 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I often think about how strong the emotions that other people feel are.

Situations can be turned upside down when trying to think from the perspective of a person with stronger emotional responses.

leemailll 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Is what he described different from popular view that autistic personal has a problem because they are incapable of handling their sense of emotions from others so they choose to avoid social interaction?
StanislavPetrov 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Not to be insensitive, but what did he really expect? Experimenting with your brain in order to change your perceptions and though processes are bound to lead to major disruptions in your life.
flagelate 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
I read the entire article. It's better to be emotionless... at least sometimes.
cookiecaper 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The author's life was radically changed by a procedure that runs a magnet over his brain. It appears to have induced a severe bout of depression and anxiety that negatively impacted his performance at work and cost him 2 marriages. He seems to believe that this "treatment" worked, though the empirical evidence would hardly suggest that. Does he believe that he was reading emotions instead of descending into anxious paranoia just because the doctors told him the first thing is what would happen? The unfortunate thing here is that doctors have probably recorded his case as a success.

I've found that the emotions we read out of people are often exaggerated from their true thoughts. It's easy to feel like there's some harsh judgment occurring when, in fact, there isn't. Someone should've told the author this, and not to take his new "emotional superpower" too seriously.

hughperkins 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the premise for the story - applying magnetism to the brain curing autism tomorrow - seems suspect, and don't really believe it.
barney54 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This experiment is similar to what happens in the novel The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. http://www.amazon.com/The-Speed-Dark-Elizabeth-Moon/dp/15012...
$99 Mineserver: The Devil Is in the Details cringely.com
94 points by evo_9  3 hours ago   55 comments top 19
chasing 1 hour ago 2 replies      
> First we needed a mobile app to administer the server so we hired an experienced mobile developer through guru.com. His credentials were great but maybe it should have been a tip-off when, right after we made the first payment, the developer moved from Europe to India... We were naive. The original development estimate was exceeded in the first week and we were up to more than 8X by the time we pulled the plug. Still the developer kept trying to charge us, eventually sending the project to arbitration, which we won.

This smacks of the client not knowing how to use a developer. Meaning: I can imagine they made a simple (probably incomplete) scope or product definition document, didn't realize where the complexity actually lay, found someone cheap, and then realized that no one had the ability to actually shepherd the project to completion. They knew nothing about their developer -- and she or he knew nothing about them. And they weren't paying that much, really. So it wasn't a huge priority in the developer's life. And maybe the dev was young or just kind of between things and something more important came up or whatever. It actually takes some thoughtfulness to be a professional freelancer. Can be harder sometimes than it looks.

Cheap overseas developer talent is fine. But. There's also a huge value to finding people who you can sit down with and talk to. Meet. Get to know a bit. Professional freelancers will absolutely help naive clients identify and avoid pitfalls from the start. We (professional freelancers) have already fallen into them all and generally have the scars and callouses to know what it really takes to produce good software in a freelance environment. Professionals know how much time and effort it actually takes to do things. They'll tell you if your "I need a Facebook clone next week" project has any chance of success. They'll help you with design and they'll help you understand the trade-offs between money, time, and functionality that all software projects must make.

Sounds like none of that happened here.

Anyway. This just touched a nerve for me. Maybe I'm totally off base.

pjc50 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The main thing that surprises me is how someone can be a tech journalist for years and then try launching a product using someone else's trademarks, and not expect to get a cease-and-desist.
edtechdev 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Between the port forwarding and security and other kinds of hassles of running a server in your own house, I just used digitalocean hosting for a minecraft server for my kid a few years ago, $5 a month. Here's a script to install the Cuberite version mentioned in the article: https://github.com/cuberite/cuberite-ocean

Now there are free services like Gamocosm which shut down your digitalocean server when not using it, so that it might only cost $1 or so a month: https://gamocosm.com/Meaning it would take 8 years before it cost as much as a Mineserver box.

bad_user 1 hour ago 2 replies      
> Minecraft, which is written in Java, is nominally Open Source

Minecraft is not open source by OSI's definition and doesn't even have the source code available. The Minecraft server is distributed as a compiled JAR file. What does the author talk about?

sethish 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm disappointed that a respected technology journalist can misapply the term open source so completely. If he actually meant that java can be decompiled and therefor is 'open source' then why the hell did he capitalize the phrase?
elbigbad 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I have to question the phrase in the second to last paragraph, in the context of servers disappearing from the net:

"Its the final bug, . . ."

Uhhhh.....seems optimistic at best especially considering their experience so far.

habitue 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think it's interesting that he continually says "we" throughout. As if his kids are really contacting developers and talking with suppliers and mojang lawyers etc. I'm sure they're doing something meaningful like installing the software on the boards and assembling them, but it's pretty clear who is doing the real work
hobs 1 hour ago 2 replies      
While I am not interested in the specific project, If/when I have kids, I would gladly pay 7500 dollars to have them excited and apply themselves to a project with real world business.

To have the realizations the struggles and successes of such a project, and have that under their belt before they graduate high school is a wonderful achievement.

What a great project!!

shanselman 2 hours ago 2 replies      
"Nominally?" Pretty sure no.

"Minecraft, which is written in Java, is nominally Open Source, but there are some peculiar restrictions on distributing the code."

ixtli 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A few years ago this desire to profit off of minecraft washed over a small part of the NYC VC scene with a few higher profile firms investigating some people who said they wanted to "solve" problems with minecraft. Anecdotally I found that everyone I talked to was doing so because their kid was into it and that they all looked at me cockeyed when I said "you know that doesn't sound like something a for-profit company would be ok with."
ludamad 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think that you should have a call for programmers right in your kickstarter. Not saying it would have worked in this case necessarily, but having someone actively interested in the project is a great asset.
spamlord 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
What a shocking surprise Cringely has no earthly idea how tech companies actually get things done. He's becoming more irrelevent every day, thankfully.
Pfhreak 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the first time I've heard of Cuberite. I love the concept, but this has to be a copyright violation, right?
testmasterflex 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There are lot of services out there that do free hosting for minecraft nowadays, for example: https://server.proIt also gives you a control panel to control your server, supports plugins and has a handy web file manager.
anonbanker 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This might be Cringley's first time on the other side of a product launch, which makes it interesting to watch him eat his share of humble pie after countless articles opining on someone else's delay in shipping a product.
beachstartup 1 hour ago 0 replies      
yeah, sounds like a typical month at a startup. don't worry, next month will be worse, and you'll probably have even less money.

what's amazing is how few journalists actually have gone through this process, and how even fewer write about it.

the fact that he wrote a huge blog post about it means he's somehow surprised it's this hard to do actual work on products and services.

gravypod 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I thought you could distribute OpenJDK freely.
revelation 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sounds about right, kickstart an idea you had, then try and pay a bunch of consultants and hired coders to make it a reality.
3327 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Minecraft codebase is rewritten in C++. New additions of minecraft will be C++
FingerIO: Using Active Sonar for Fine-Grained Finger Tracking washington.edu
585 points by jonbaer  9 hours ago   109 comments top 35
parkaboy 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Regarding everyone's latency concerns, as someone who has done low-latency audio processing on Android -- in their defense I'd bet almost anything the demo is meant to only demonstrate the math behind this. Depending on the platform (Android cough), low latency audio processing can be almost a dark art itself. And hey look, they're doing this on Android.

My guess is that they decided to release the demo earlier instead of spending days/weeks getting up to speed with low-latency audio processing in the Android JNI.

It's an academic demo/press release. Not a software release for production/market.

magic_man 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I work with sonar and the physical positioning of the sensors is important in trying to get useful results. Why is it these academic types don't release the apks or software? Just publications and maybe a video.
jstapels 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder how accurate it really is. The demo video didn't match up with the movements at all and the on-screen drawings looked like prerecorded video that they were trying to sync to.

It's a neat idea, but without a dedicated component or an extremely high-speed RTOS, you're not going to come close to the level accuracy that's really needed to do the math and still allow interaction.

I don't mean to rain on the parade, but I just don't think they really have anything usable.

k_bx 8 hours ago 3 replies      
We need to immediately improve on PIN-code protection upon cash-withdrawal in ATMs. The problem has been there for a while, but man, it gets easier and easier.
IanCal 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Really interesting.

Reminds me of SOLI (which is radar rather than sonar): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QNiZfSsPc0

Is there a way of trying this out? I know it'd only be demo line drawing applications but it'd still be interesting to try.

sarreph 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I love it when people find ways of using existing hardware with software innovation to make new interactions such as this!
wyldfire 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm looking forward to the first theremin app.
adrianN 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder how much power all the processing draws. Judging from the slow movements and the delayed update on the screens in this video, it's pretty heavy on the processor.
crudbug 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Similar to SixthSense [1] work from Media Lab.

[1] https://www.media.mit.edu/research/highlights/sixthsense-wea...

faded242 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Uhh.. not the best name choice in my opinion.
4684499 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is much like Project Soli. I started dreading devices like that. Sonars everywhere.
szczys 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Latency looks like a real issue in this demo. If it can be improved this could be important, but think about how impatient you are if your smartphone doesn't respond to your touch immediately. Users have been trained to be irritated by laggy interfaces.
djsumdog 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a feeling this is also really depending on the hardware. The demos were probably designed around the specific brand of watch and cellphone since they'd need to know exact distances between the microphones/speakers.

It's a really cool concept. I wish they'd open source what they have, or at least have plans to open source it. However if this came about via University funding, they'll probably claim IP on it. If it was a student's own fellowship, he/she/they might decide to create a start-up out of it.

verbatim 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I can understand the "I", but what's the "O" part of this?
aub3bhat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not same as FingerIO since it does not uses sophisticated signal processing but still interesting.Make sure that you remove earphones before using it.


fitzwatermellow 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is cool. Thinking about smartphones as sensors opens up so many possibilities, even if their capabilities aren't nearly as accurate as dedicated devices. Wondering if the sonar information can be combined with images from the camera to create a close-range depth camera?
TTPrograms 4 hours ago 0 replies      
How many microphones do cell phones typically have? I guess I assumed one, though background noise cancelling would certainly be improved by having more. For this kind of positioning it seems the minimum needed would be 3 - and the Android SDK can access those audio streams separately unprocessed? Pretty neat.
xtf 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Cats will love it. Thats why the first ultrasound remote never became standard
halotrope 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks interesting. Can you try it somewhere?
debarshri 9 hours ago 2 replies      
How about security? How does it protect other uses from controlling your device?
JamesBaxter 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how well it would work in a noisy environment?
labithiotis 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't it too early for April fools ?
sehugg 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I was thinking of something along these lines for a proximity sensor / motion detector application where you don't need very much accuracy.
memonkey 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What happens when there are multiple devices around each other emitting the signals? Great proof of concept.
k__ 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ultrasound tracking is always problematic, because of all the noise.

I have the feeling, every few years someone has the idea again, to use ultrasound for something and it starts promising, but then the accuracy and lag doesn't go away and dogs and cats go wild.

dandare 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't get it, how do they track specifically the tip of a finger? Or are they not?
yread 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if you can just run it on any smartphone or you need to configure the positions of microphones beforehand
supergirl 9 hours ago 0 replies      
cool idea but the tracking will never be good enough to be practical.

if people really want this type of interaction then phones will start to incorporate specialized hardware for it.

exotiik 6 hours ago 0 replies      
For a second i tought we were April 1st
melling 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There has been a lot of recent work with gesture based computing: Intel Real Sense, Google's Soli, Myo, Leap Motion


Leap Motion made huge improvements a few weeks ago with their Orion SDK:


We must be close to actually getting something basic for our desktops.

xuan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
very interesting!
leosteve78 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's impressive!
basicallydan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool, good job :)
jbverschoor 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Fake video.....
nly 6 hours ago 3 replies      
My intuition tells me this just doesn't hold water with respect to information theory.. i.e. the number of bits of useful information about a finger you can pull from a microphone. Putting aside human digits, has anyone even demonstrated that you can reliably detect an eighteen-wheeler rig moving toward a phone with this technique? And what about the range of the speaker? Complete nonsense.
I Love the U.N., but It Is Failing nytimes.com
88 points by guylepage3  3 hours ago   32 comments top 12
roymurdock 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Related article: Don't be a UN Intern

First things first. You should understand the objectives of the organization youre trying to join. There are three primary objectives of the UN system today. The first one is to pay the salaries and the perks of its employees. The second is to give them a microcosm in which they can walk around in suits, look important, use buzzwords, and basically find some, however contrived, meaning. The third one is to make it seem like there is an international political system out there, a framework of rules that everyone respects. This last one is increasingly optional in the post-Cold War geopolitical climate.


Your globetrotting, world-saving dream job doesnt exist. It hasnt existed for a while. The world has been explored it no longer needs explorers, and especially doesnt need faceless bureaucrats. It needs people who do things. Even if, through blackmail, magic rituals or blind luck, you land a UN job somehow, you will not be part of the world elite far, far from it. You will push paper watching your years go by; your sole obsession will be sucking up to your neurotic supervisor in the hope of seeing your grade increase by a small notch five years down the road; you will wake up at 55 wondering where your professional life has gone. And thats even discounting the remote possibility that the funding countries come along and say Ok guys, the shows been great, now pack it up and go home, youre not needed anymore.


hackuser 27 minutes ago 1 reply      
To a great degree, these complaints should be familiar to anyone in a large bureaucracy: Endless procedure, imcompetence that can't be fired, decisions made for political reasons, etc.

Now imagine a bureaucracy run by and accountable to all the national government bureaucracies in the world! And remember that the ones most HN readers live under are, despite our whining, the most efficient and least corrupt in the world - the others are often far worse.

That's the UN. If you are going to have an association of the world's governments, I think that's the way it's going to be.

Like democracy, it's horrible but better than all the alternatives. It's primary purpose, IIRC, is to prevent international war (i.e., wars between nations, as opposed to civil wars). After all the war of human history, after WWI and WWII occurring within a 31 year period (think of that: that's like 1985 until today!), international war has almost been put to an end. It's now a major exception when it happens, and that fact is really a miracle.

They also achieve many other very important things, though expensively and slowly.

Remember that the UN is no fuzzy-minded idealist's fantasy. It was built by the survivors of WWII and WWI, while the ashes were still smoldering. Those people knew far more of war and the realities of man's inhumanity than we can imagine.

whatyoucantsay 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The UN is a joke.

It breaks its own rules by refusing entry to a country with a vibrant democracy and a roughly comparable population and GDP as AustraliaTaiwan. Why? Because China has a veto. Consequently, not only will the UN continue breaking its own guidelines and refusing Taiwan entry but it will also never condemn China's repeated threats of invasion.

Similar dynamics play out interests concerning other veto wielding countries such as the US or Russia.

CWuestefeld 2 hours ago 1 reply      
AIUI, the UN's mission is twofold:

* Stand up for the sovereignty of the world's nations.

* Defend human rights throughout the world.

These missions are in direct conflict. It's impossible to force states to play nice with human rights, while at the same time respect the sovereignty of these states.

What we're left with is just like the conflict in 2001's HAL-9000. Given two conflicting goals, bad things happen. Neither objective is fulfilled, and the system fails in all kinds of other ways too.

hunvreus 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
The UN and many similar organizations in the non-profit/non-governmental/humanitarian/development space simply lack the incentive structure to do the right thing. Add to this the administrative weight of large organizations and you have the perfect recipe for an unbelievable shit show.

I hope that more organization like Watsi [1] or ONE [2] emerge and take donations away from more traditional and established non-profits, but I won't be holding my breath for it.

At the end of the day, the private sector probably yields more positive impact.

[1]: https://watsi.org/

[2]: http://one.org

gavman 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The UN has a lot of problems beyond just its bureaucracy. I'm suspicious of it's ability to solve the problems it claims it exists to solve even if its bureaucracy was extremely efficient. It seems I read UN scandals on a monthly basis, to recall a few from the past few months:

Sexual abuse by it's peacekeepers (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2016/02/27/peacekeepe...). "Child sexual abuse by UN peacekeepers" even has its own wiki page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sexual_abuse_by_UN_peace...)

Bribes are abound, even a story earlier today (http://www.seattletimes.com/business/humanitarian-worker-cha..., http://nypost.com/2015/10/06/former-general-assembly-preside...).

Saudi Arabia is on the human rights council (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/22/why-is-saud...). Not exactly a "scandal" but in the same vein.

It's ever-increasingly hard to take the organization seriously.

gyardley 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
I've coincidentally been on a couple trips with mid- and low-level UN bureaucrats, and when they got talking, this is exactly what they said - the organization is hidebound, sclerotic, and all-around useless.

God, the horror stories - even if they're only partially true, there's no reason whatsoever for the United States (or any other country) to be funding such a broken organization.

jacquesm 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If all the member states would live up to the charter it would do a lot better than it does. Another big problem is veto power abuse in the security council.
akhatri_aus 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The key reason for it's failings according to this author is the bureaucracy.

One of the reasons the UN was created or transformed out of the league of nations was to prevent world war by providing an avenue of negotiation. By its founding purpose I think it has not done too badly.

There's a moral duty the UN seems to have, but this is an extra purpose to the UN. There are organisations that don't need the echo chambers of other nations that can do the same things, such as doctors without borders.

mwsherman 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Bureaucracy of this sort begins with the belief that systems are designed a priori by rules.

I am sure that most of the personnel policies that the author alludes to are well-meaning and intuitive. What is out of scope in such rule-making is the empirical outcome. The cost of delay (213 days to hire) is apparently not a factor in the rules.

They lose a lot of good people in a presumed attempt to ensure they hire good people. Such an outcome is only recognized a posteriori.

UhUhUhUh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Reading the UN declaration of 1948 helps to put things in perspective. It hangs on my wall.
joshuaheard 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The human species has a long way to go.
Ask HN: How much do you make at Amazon? Here is how much I make at Amazon
351 points by boren_ave11  5 hours ago   157 comments top 56
JoshDoody 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not an Amazonian, but I wanted to chime in here to say I think this thread is a great idea and I would love to see more like it.

I write about salary negotiation and coach people through it, and I think sharing salaries publicly will encourage more people to negotiate and get paid what they're worth.

I recently coached a new Amazon employee, and he got a very good offer, which he increased by about 15% using VERY simple negotiation tactics that we discussed. If he hadn't negotiated, he would've still been paid well, but would have left 15% on the table before he was even in the door.

I submitted this link yesterdayit's a Salary Negotiation workshop I did for developers in Orlando last week. It's definitely relevant to this conversation:

EDIT: Here's a direct link to the Salary Negotiation workshop summary to save you a click: http://bit.ly/21zFG5q

Here's the HN submission for posterity: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11305683

(Not sure why I originally linked to an HN submission linking to the workshop. \_()_/)

Nice job starting this thread!

jmathes 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
The most important thing you can do for your career is:

* Accept a job somewhere* Get promoted (doesn't matter how)* let yourself get hired away from your current company

Getting hired away from your current company is the only way to get a fair raise. Companies never give substantial raises to current employees.

dguaraglia 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
On a related note, someone at Google started a spreadsheet about a year ago where people could post (anonymously or not) their salary and a few more interesting datapoints (gender, age, location, etc.) I'm not sure whether the spreadsheet did anything to highlight gender/ethnicity/visa-status disparities (the biggest disparities I remember seeing were based on location, but that's understandable) but it was a great tool to start a conversation about increased transparency in salaries.

I have to praise Google for the way the situation was handled: the company didn't force the spreadsheet to be taken down (in fact, it's still up as I write this), nobody that I know of was fired for it and it generated a healthy amount of internal discussion. After hearing some stories from the Amazon counter part, I wouldn't expect the reaction to be the same.

DennisP 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Staying anonymous is probably best but fwiw, policies which prohibit sharing one's own compensation violate federal law.


AndrewUnmuted 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I worked for Amazon (Audible.com) from 2011 to 2014.

1 - Full-time freelance audiobook editor.


2 - Post-Production Associate - Level 6/4


35 shares of AMZN per year for three years

3 - ACX Production Coordinator - Level 7/5


Additional 20 shares of AMZN per year for three years

I am no longer ashamed to write these figures out to the public because I now make more than twice the salary that I was making before I left the company. I found that my salary at Amazon was always far too low given what I did, and my job titles were not at all representative of the job I actually did (for the 2nd and 3rd jobs they were almost entirely software engineering jobs.)

NOTE: Audible and Amazon have different job levels - Audible's job levels are two points higher than the same Amazon job level.

lamontcg 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I was an System Engineer III at Amazon from 2001-2006. I got hired on at $70k and I think I was making roughly $90k when I left.

When I was hired I had to tell them "No" and hang up the phone (in the middle of the 2001 recession) to a $63k job offer. They called back the next day and bumped the offer to $70k. I later learned that I had one of the only "strong hires" ever given out by the bar raiser and the HR rep was told to hire me at all costs. HR played (and probably still plays) insanely hard hardball in negotiating salary.

Other SEIIIs hired at around the same time came on at $60-63k and were stuck there. Once the economy recovered in 2003/2004-ish we eventually started hiring SEIIIs at >$120k starting salary.

Gender: M Native English Speaker: Yes for myself and the other two or three employees I'm thinking of.

tdicola 1 hour ago 1 reply      
IMHO you're being underpaid quite a bit with that base salary in the Seattle area. Time to start interviewing at Microsoft, Google, etc. Those companies usually start fresh out of college developers with a base pay a bit over $100k, then bonuses, stock awards, etc. on top.
hiddencost 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Research ScientistFirst full-time job150k

(I saw us make offers as high as 200k for fresh ph.d.'s)

throwaway7798 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
I was working in one of the Indian offices and was recently offered a move to Seattle. I had 1 year experience(was still an SDE-1 but my manager was considering me for a SDE-2 promotion) - they offered 110K base pay with 25k signing bonus which vested over 4 years + around 86k worth of shares which again vested over four years.

I chose to not take the offer but went to join a different company.

I just want to say that if you're quitting for reasons other than compensation, then don't ever listen to competing offers from your current team/company. That way you save yourself a ton of regret if your new job doesn't go well. #lesson-learnt-for-me

unohoo 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Check out the recently launched site Comparably https://comparably.com/

It is so much better than Glassdoor at dissecting salary data.

cuca_de_chumbo 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
I work at a podunk Santa Clara, CA startup

20+ years experience. Working remote from southeast U.S.A.

Tenure so far: 2.5 years

Salary: $150K

Stock: purportedly .75% of company 4 years 1-year cliff, with small follow-on grant later, don't know what recent dilution is, though I think more recent funding has been "debt" at low interest with preference

Not a regular VC situation, company funded through other means.

Outlook -- real uncertain, market has definite need, execution so far has been very mixed, company willing to re-do things the right way

olympus 3 hours ago 1 reply      
While this doesn't have as much information as you listed, Glass Door (https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/index.htm) has information on job title/salaries at many companies. It's a "share your info and we'll let you see ours" set of rules, so be prepared to make a profile.
amznnewgrad 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is for a new grad in 2014.

* Area: Seattle, WA

* Position: SDE

* Base Pay: $90k

* Signing Bonus: $20k immediately, then $17k paid in 12 monthly installments after you reach 1yr in employment.

* Stock Units: $53k (5% at 1yr mark, 15% at 2yr mark, then 20% every 6 months from then on) Note: this vesting schedule is AWFUL.

Needless to say, I rejected this offer and did not work for them. Best decision I ever made.

blabla_blublu 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I worked for Amazon (2013-2014), fresh out of college.

Title : Software Development Engineer (SDE I)

Base : 98,000

Sign on : 50,000 (2 year period)

Relocation : 10,000 (2 year)

Stocks : worth $70,000 (4 years)

amzn_irl_taway 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Ex amazonian here, but in Ireland, I left (thankfully) at the end of 2015.

I was a systems engineer in Dublin and the only significant payraise I got was after I left the company for 4 months to then rejoin, my salary was bumped up 12k euros, for a total of 62k/yr, with 150 shares over 4 years (sorry I do not remember the vesting scheme).

The HR department in AMZN has the tendency to screw internal employees upon promotion.The way it was unofficially explained to me by a low-level buddy in HR is that there are salary ranges for each corporate level, and during a promotion you get just over the lower bound of the salary range for your new corp level, that's the policy, that's what happens.

New hires instead have negotiation margin and, while the hiring manager can't offer a salary higher than the approved salary range, more often than not the offer will end up in the upper bound of the range, to lure the candidate in.

Furthermore, there are huge differences between salary ranges in job roles, a Systems Engineer will always be paid 15 to 30% less than a Software Development Engineer at the same level, despite the fact that the skills and duties are not that much different, why? Again unofficially "because Amazon values more people that write software". Except the fact that in my ex-team, we all wrote software and the expectations were all the same regardless the job title (there was however a difference between levels).

So yeah, as internal promotion you have absolutely NO leverage regarding salary, if you want a salary increase and your organization is hungry for people but is having trouble in hiring (like it happens frequently in Dublin where the job market is quite competitive), I'd suggest you start looking around for a new job, accept the offer and then come back to your same team 4 months later. If you leave the company for less than 6 months and your position hasn't been filled in the meantime, the hiring manager is able to extend an offer without sending you through an interview loop, you'll get your old job back but with a nice pile of money on top.

snake_plissken 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Ieee FML this has been a depressing read. Is anyone else realizing they are severely underpaid?

Passes the virtual whiskey

ghrifter 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I make roughly $20 an hour (about 16 after taxes :( )at the moment as a junior full stack intern working part time (I live and work in US). Sometimes I wonder if I should move on to find some other job, even if its remote...

On the other hand, my work is not that stressful, and I'm still going to school so my job is very flexible on time.

Anyone else been in a position like me?

oaktowner 48 minutes ago 2 replies      
If you really want to do this, start a Google spreadsheet.
toomuchtodo 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Would very much love to see frequent "Ask HN: How much are you making?" threads.
examz45678 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm male, a native English speaker, and worked in Seattle around 2013-2015. I was already in Seattle, so I didn't need to move. I was an SDE1, though I came in with a bit of experience (~5 years).

My base pay was right around $100k. I had a $20k signing bonus the first year, and something effectively similar for the second year (though less cash and some stock was thrown in).

seattle_googler 2 hours ago 6 replies      
Seattle Googler here (throwaway account).

Position: Senior Software Engineer (level 5)

Tenure: 4 years, no prior experience

Comp: $300K (160 salary, 40 bonus, 100 stock)

Male, native English speaker

P.S. We're hiring.

leetNightshade 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
A friend of mine when he graduated got a base developer salary of $90k in 2011, shares & benefits (whatever that works out to), and I think $10k bonus for every year he stayed with Amazon. He worked in the Seattle, WA, area.
boren_ave11 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Apologies for the bad formatting, it wouldn't let me edit for some reason. Here is a more readable version of my compensation:

Position: Developer (not classified as SDE, do not manage ppl)

Tenure: 2 years

Job Level: 5

Base Pay: $73,000

Signing Bonus: $25k Year 1, $21k Year 2

2016 Stock Vest: 104 shares

LY Review Score: Exceeds

LY Pay Increase: 4%, plus 35 shares of AMZN

Most Recent Promotion Increase/Stock Grant: N/A - no promotions

Gender: M

Native English Speaker: Yes

voiceclonr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If I could upvote this more, I would. All companies hide the salaries do they can underpay. Glassdoor under estimates typical salaries and are not meaningful. OP - Please consider opening a simple google doc and let anyone fill in the detail.
tristor 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Location might be useful information. I'm assuming most of the folks responding here are in Seattle. If so, all the salaries listed in this thread seem shockingly low to me.
throwaway75383 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Position: SDE IIITenure: almost 1 yearJob level: 6Base Pay: $150000Signing bonus $50k year 1, $40k year 2Stock: 450 shares, spread over 4 years, 5%/15%/40%/40%No promotions or reviews yetGender: MNative English Speaker: YesLocation: Seattle
heptathorp 1 hour ago 3 replies      
After reading some of these comments...

Holy shit, I am under paid.

qaid 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I work in Portland, have 5 years of experience, and I'm making about 90k after bonuses (no stock or sign-on bonus).I love Portland, my hours are very nice (~35hours), and I have a good amount of technical freedom. But boy....Maybe I should make the move up to Seattle.

It'd be nice if people mentioned how many hours/week they work for me to get a good idea of what to expect. Especially since we're talking about Amazon.

amazonian_throw 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Position: Senior SDETenure: 6 yearsJob Level: 6Base Pay: $141,0002016 Stock Vest: 162 sharesReview Score: ExceedsGender: FNative English Speaker: Yes
josefdlange 1 hour ago 0 replies      
While at Amazon, I worked in two different roles. I don't have the exact numbers, but I'll put ballparks in here:

(1) Support Engineer* Base: $72,000; increased at 1yr to $74,000* Bonus: $20,000; half in first check, other half over months 13-24* Stock: I don't remember

(2) Software Development Engineer* Base: $82,000

Gender: MNative English: YesI honestly don't recall if I was L4 or L5 or both.

Both of these were in Seattle. I do know for a fact that there were/are others who were hired and paid more than me.

encoderer 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's actually against the law to punish employees for sharing salary data. Companies try to hide it, but the NLRB would be interested to hear about it.
Kopion 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't work at Amazon, but I have caught on to what, to me, seems to be an unsettling concept. This may or may not be new, but the concept I am getting it is often referred to as "internal equity" - considering what salaries are already in place for similar positions.

This appears to be one of many variables HR uses for salary negotiations and I recognize that. I don't see why this necessarily matters for most work places. Shouldn't you just pay for what the candidate brings to the table (skills, experience, etc.) and not consider what, even someone with a similar background is currently making in the company. I suppose salary negotiations/the labor market isn't an efficient market where a price can be assigned given x, y, & z.

quanticle 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Ex Amazonian here. I worked as a SDE1 in the Downtown Seattle set of offices from about 2012 to 2014. My compensation was $95,000 base, and about 105,000 once you took into account stocks.
wde-sde 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I was hired as a "Web Development Engineer I" several years ago (level 4). My base compensation was virtually identical to yours, but my signing bonus and base pay were a little less than half. Stock grants were also very similar at hire. After a couple years my job role changed to SDE, I remained level 4 and was given a better than 10% raise.

In my fourth year my total compensation was estimated to be around 120k.

It's worth looking at the H1B data. I've got some limited anecdotal data, but the H1B data appears to clearly delineate the same salary ranges Amazon gives to US Citizens. (Maybe they will pay citizens 10% more, but the ranges actually look pretty similar to what I've heard.)


(I am a US Citizen, English speaker, in Seattle.)

Main moral of the story if you choose to stay at Amazon: don't worry about your level, focus on your job role. You can probably keep doing the work you're doing and become an SDE if you talk to your manager and frame the conversation right.

zyxley 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What general region or city is this? Cost of living can be a major effect on pay, comparing, say, the insanity of the SF Bay area to anywhere else.
throwaway2016a 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Out of curiosity, what does this add that GlassDoor.com doesn't?

Note: as of right now, GlassDoor is down for "Scheduled Maintenance" but the question stands.

linkedin_dev 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'll add my $.02 for LinkedIn.

Sr Software Eng at LinkedIn in CA.

$165,000 Base

$25,000 Hiring Bonus

$300,000 Stock (25% 1st year, then quarterly for the remaining 75% over 3 years) ($300,000 at the time, now it's only about half that).

10% annual bonus.

Male. Native English Speaker.

I can also speak to a friend here all the stats are the same except he got a $35,000 moving stipend instead of a hiring bonus.

amz_throwaway 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Position: Developer in Seattle

Tenure: 4 years

Job Level: 5

Base Pay: $143,000

2016 Stock Vest: about 140 shares

Review Score: Exceeds

Gender: M

Native English Speaker: Yes

rifung 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ex Amazonian but I was an SDE1 ~1 year of experience before joining. I worked in Seattle

Salary: $100kBonus: $25kStock: I forget but it was not much

BreesusChrist 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I hope this takes off. I always thought it was weird hiding how much you make -- this only helps employers, and not employees.
former_amazon 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I created a throw away account to answer this but I will say that my teammates at Amazon and I discussed salary openly. We all were making far below market except for the 2 teammates who had been there 4+ years.

I think for lasting that long, Amazon really pays off in equity compensation which they dole out willingly (with 4 year cliffs of course).

I made 90k as an SDE I straight of college. 20k sign on bonus. Second year bonus of 15k. 150 shares of stock with the regular 5%, 15%, 20% cliffs. Biggest raise I got was 4k when I received an exceeds.

eganist 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
HR can find you based on the numbers you gave if you don't fuzz them a little bit.
doseofreality 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Stating which location you are in would be important for salary comparison purposes.
r00fus 1 hour ago 0 replies      
You need more context to make sense of pure dollar values - in which city/metro-area do you work?
tdicola 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'm genuinely curious, this post has over 208 points and is only 3 hours old.. why is it falling off the front page already?
Amir6 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm not working for Amazon or any other big ones but I think this is a very good idea. Transparency always helps and I wish something good comes out of other people sharing their financial details.
ffumarola 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Blind https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blind./id737534965?mt=8 & https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.teamblind.... talks about salary ad nauseam... so if you want to see salary discussions, get the app.
amzthrow23424 1 hour ago 1 reply      
SDE, Level 5, four years, started w/ bonus: $126k, ended: $117kNew job: 175k + equity (fuck you amazon)
throwawaymazon 52 minutes ago 2 replies      
You're getting screwed, big time. Quit now.

Source: I was hired at Amazon as an SDE1 in 2004 at a base salary of $85,000.

suyash 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Base Pay is pretty low for either Seattle or SF Bay Area or NY
pw_is_bagreefs 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Position: SDE 2

Joined: Last year

Base Pay: 145,000

Native English Speaker: Yes

chm 1 hour ago 3 replies      
You're not getting "ripped off" by having a base salary of 125K USD (with benefits and equity) fresh out of college.

Tell you what, with a Bachelor's in Chemistry (in my year 176 people started, only 42 finished the degree so it's not a free lunch) I can expect to make between 40K and 60K CAD out of college and pay higher taxes than in the US. With a master's that I'm working towards, I'd be on the upper end of that spectrum. So boo-hoo to those making only 125K with equity and benefits.


throwaway284879 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Throwaway account.

I don't work for Amazon but here is my salary information, for anyone who is interested

Current position: 50-100 employee startup in Palo Alto, $170k and .1% equity vested over 4 years

Previous position: Google, $130k base, 15-20% annual bonus, around 64 shares vested per year (so around $170k annual net comp)Previous position: Small startup, $90k base

I live in the SF Bay Area. When I interviewed, most offers from startups were in the range of $140k-$170k.

googsomeday 2 hours ago 0 replies      
If you work at Google, you can continue the discussion here:


serge2k 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Op (and others) adding your office would be informative if you are comfortable with that.

Otherwise compensation is hard to compare.

I quit but my pay was ( Lin Seattle, numbers rounded a bit)

90k base53k initial grant, backloaded 5% after 1 year, 15 after 2, 20% every 6 months after that.37k signing bonus, 20k lump sum, 17k spread over 2nd year.

Raises were <1% at first review, 3.5% at second. So when I left after just over 2 years I was at 94k base. They did give me some more stock at my second review, but it was 2 years out iirc

lolidaisuki 2 hours ago 1 reply      
You gave enough information that they could find you without using any links in your profile or your online handle.

Another thing that could be interesting is your accent. My eyes were recently opened about the discrimination that happens based on that.

The Prophylactic Extraction of Third Molars: A Public Health Hazard nih.gov
10 points by nickgrosvenor  39 minutes ago   6 comments top 4
Hydraulix989 1 minute ago 0 replies      
I still have my "wisdom teeth" and I push back on having them out every time I visit the dentist.

The conversation always goes along the lines of "ohhh, I see you still have those wisdom teeth in there" and then that they are "impacted and going to cause lots of problems." To this day, I haven't had a single problem.

My biggest concern is the effect it will have on my airways -- I have sleep apnea so I'm worried that removing the teeth will cause the size of my already-small airways to become even smaller, causing even more of a damaging effect on the quality of my sleep.

santaclause33 17 minutes ago 1 reply      
Dentists are often crooks.

When I was younger, my parents had to change insurance plans, so I got a new dentist. In the first visit, he takes a quick look at my mouth (with no tools, mind you) and confidently says I had 8 cavities that need drilling ASAP.

My previous dentist mentioned no such thing, so my mom took me back to him for a second opinion. He used tools to check, then told us the other dentist was full of shit and that this was surprisingly common.

The new dentist would have drilled 8 healthy teeth out of greed.

jacobolus 2 minutes ago 1 reply      
Modern culture has somewhat weird oral hygiene rituals and poor public awareness of the causes of tooth decay.

Theres no inherent reason humans should need to brush their teeth multiple times per day. In many places around the world, people never brush their teeth and most adults keep healthy teeth well into old age.

Dental cavities are caused by bacteria which eat sugar/starch. If you dont eat sugar, and only eat moderate amounts of starch, you generally wont get cavities, regardless of how much teeth brushing you do. If you eat lots of sugary and starchy foods, drink sugary drinks, etc., you will be at high risk for cavities, even if you brush your teeth frequently.

linkregister 7 minutes ago 0 replies      

 Patients who might have avoided the surgery in the absence of confirmed pathology are consigned to a numb jaw or lip or tongue for the rest of their lives.
I found this excerpt to be the most shocking of the article.

The computer scientist in me should be more offended at the 2/3 spurious extraction rate and its subsequent drain on the economy, but that excerpt is what excited me.

BinDiff now available for free googleblog.com
29 points by ner0x652  2 hours ago   6 comments top 3
ikeboy 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why is the linked site served over http? http://www.zynamics.com/software.html

Changing to https reveals a security cert valid for *.google.com, but not for www.zynamics.com.

dsl 1 hour ago 1 reply      
To be clear, it is still a plugin for a ~$5000 application.

Nonetheless, thanks Google for lowering the bar for entry into professional security work!

drakenot 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
I saw someone post this googleblog entry over a month ago on the Freenode ##re channel. Then it was quickly taken down again. I guess they must have pulled the trigger a little early.
Atlas and Cuba stripe.com
82 points by lx  4 hours ago   28 comments top 4
adolfojp 2 hours ago 1 reply      
A few months ago I inquired about using Stripe from Puerto Rico, a US territory for over 100 years, and was told that it wasn't available in the unincorporated territories yet.


And now I see Stripe getting friendly with Cuba.

I don't have a clear point to make, as I'm writing this while still upset, but I just felt like I had to get my word out there perhaps to get some perspective or perhaps to start a discussion.

davidu 3 hours ago 4 replies      
This is really incredible.

Many of small actions by a small number of focused people in Washington, in the Whitehouse, and entrepreneurs and bankers, may have a profound impact on millions of Cuban lives in a very short period of time.

Another good reminder (to abuse a quote), "chance favors the prepared" -- Stripe had already laid a lot of groundwork before Atlas to handle the systems required for this, and then they launched Atlas to handle many of the regulatory requirements, and so when this opportunity came along for Cuba, they were quickly able to take advantage of it.

plg 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"SVB will share more details about your accounts complete fee schedule and functionality once your bank account is open."


- I'd like to open an account. What are the fees?

-> well umm I don't want to tell you until you open the account

- good luck with your chickens

allr 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Cuba will have to step up its game with their Internet access, which is almost non-existent.
The Global Rebellion Against No-Skin-In-the-Game Insiders reason.com
39 points by MollyR  3 hours ago   7 comments top 3
fiatmoney 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's not only "no skin in the game", it's also "in the game to lose". For instance, Democratic victories in the US are really great for GOP fundraising. Given the choice between no job in a Trump administration, and a sinecure complaining about the policies a President Clinton enacts, many of the GOP establishment prefer the latter.

This tends to engender some frustration.

A lot of government policy around things like welfare enrollment, security theater, or certain categories of crime follows similar incentives. "Solve the problem", especially in a cost effective way, and you're out of a job.

shas3 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
One can come up with a completely alternative explanation for what's happening with Trump/Sanders, Farage/Corbyn , Modi, etc. based on constructs like 'end of average' and income inequality. These are social consequences of the growing gap between highly skilled and low-skilled workers. The former are more and more important to the economy even as the latter become less so with technological progress and globalization. The tectonic shifts in jobs, wealth, etc. are causing a realignment of electoral coalitions. Low skilled jobs are automated or shifted offshore at an increasingly faster pace. The status quo of the last 40 years is being challenged: in the US with the reshaping of the economic and social landscape of the country, and elsewhere in the world with the emergence of new uncertainly-oriented behemoths in China and India.

A libertarian magazine like Reason would be more than happy to seek and celebrate a libertarian revolution, whether one really exists or not.

Engineers Shouldnt Write ETL stitchfix.com
218 points by mjohn  6 hours ago   120 comments top 33
mikestew 6 hours ago 8 replies      
... a highly specialized team of dedicated engineers...If they are not bored, chances are they are pretty mediocre. Mediocre engineers really excel at building enormously over complicated, awful-to-work-with messes they call solutions.

OMG, the author just described the last place I was at. Processed a few Tb of data and suddenly there's this R. Goldbergesque system of MongoDb getting transformed into PostGres...oh, wait, I need Cassandra on my resume, so Mongo sux0r now...displayed with some of the worst bowl of spaghetti Android code I've witnessed. The technical debt hole was dug so deep you could hide an Abrams tank in there. To this day I could not tell you the confused thinking that led them to believe this was necessary rather than just slapping it all into PostGres and calling it a day.

All because they were processing data sets sooooo huge, that they would fit on my laptop.

I quit reading about the time the article turned into a pitch for Stitch Fix, but leading up to that point it made a good case for what happens when companies think they have "big data" when they really don't. In summary, either a company hires skills they don't really need and the hires end up bored, or you hire mediocre people that make the convoluted mess I worked with.

dizzystar 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Nobody enjoys writing and maintaining data pipelines or ETL. Its the industrys ultimate hot potato. It really shouldnt come as a surprise then that ETL engineering roles are the archetypal breeding ground of mediocrity.

There is nothing more soul sucking than writing, maintaining, modifying, and supporting ETL to produce data that you yourself never get to use or consume.

This is like... your opinion. Some people find pushing around HTML / JS / CSS absolutely soul-crushing. Considering the lion's share of websites are ugly, unusable, and slow, does this mean that front-end engineering is a breeding ground of mediocrity, so server-side devs and CFOs should all be sharing in the pain?

Some people actually enjoy working with data, and don't find ETL and pipelining horrible to do at all. It is a different set of challenges, but calling people people mediocre because of ETL is a non-sequitur.

btilly 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The thinker/doer problem goes way back. In most organizations the person who thinks of something gets the lion's share of the credit, and the person who implements it does the lion's share of the work. And if it turns out to be a bad idea, the thinker can always blame a bad implementation, thereby passing the lion's share of the blame to the doer.

I've seen careers made and broken based on whether people got to play thinker or doer.

This makes rewards for thinking very lopsided. However the problem is that actual credit for success REALLY belongs with the people who did the work.

This problem shows up at every scale in every organization. For example there are hundred people who want to be the business side of a startup for every person who wants to build the tech. Why? The business person gets to be the thinker, the developer does the work. And then the business person expects to become the CEO and get the bulk of the payout!

lordnacho 5 hours ago 0 replies      
He hits upon a quite interesting division of labor. Where I've worked in finance, there's been "strategists" and there's been "developers". You can guess which one is seen as high prestige.

The problem arises when someone gets into a position where they can think big thoughts without having to do any nitty gritty. Effectively, they end up jumping in right when the real producers have finished the actual work, and then coming up with some polish that makes it look like they came up with some interesting result.

This is not actually a way to get work done. It's a way to play politics.

Worse yet, it's actually completely detrimental to getting things done. When you have things split up between thinkers and doers, what do the incentives look like? It's quite simple. I may order some analysis, and I may not fully understand the nuances. But whatever happens, as a thinker I'll have to have something grandiose to say, and I'll need to keep the doers busy. That way if I don't find a real conclusion, it's everyone's fault. If I do find something, it's thanks to me.

Where I worked the people with the big plans couldn't code their way out of a paper bag. Ask them what Big-O is, they draw a blank. Ask them how their trading strategy will actually send orders to the exchange, they draw a blank. But ask them something that sounds like strategy, and they will feed you plenty of unsubstantiated BS.

My new venture is coders all the way down. Strategists who can actually use git without asking what it is, understand that algorithmic complexity actually matters, and so on. Coders who understand what the market is.

jaz46 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Most of the comments in this thread are focusing on the author calling ETL boring -- that is the title after all. But I found the greater point of the article to be about empowering data scientists and giving them autonomy. This post reminds me of Jerry Chen's DDI post [1], except it's about data science.

The notion that a data scientist's only job is to "write a statistical model" and then it's someone else's problem to run it in a distributed environment only exacerbates the problem and lowers DS code quality.

Full disclosure: my company Pachyderm [2] is trying to solve exactly the problem Jeff is talking about in the post. We've built a data processing platform on top of the container ecosystem. Basically, the data scientist has complete control over the runtime environment for their analysis since everything is bundled into a container. It scales to work for actual "big" data, but it also great for small teams that don't have massive infrastructure resources.

[1] http://venturebeat.com/2015/04/01/the-geek-shall-inherit-the...[2] github.com/pachyderm/pachyderm

v64 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> The fundamental flaw that prevents the Thinker and Doer model from living up to its recruiting hype is the assumption that there exists an army of soulless non-mediocre Doer engineers who eagerly implement the ideas and vision of data scientists.

There's a large, active community of engineers who specialize in data, whose job is to technologically enable data scientists the means to perform their analyses. I know these people exist because I'm one of them, and I work with them, and I've met them at meetups and conferences. I don't know why the author doesn't think these types of engineers exist. Not all of us who code want to work with the web.

> If you read the recruiting propaganda of data science and algorithm development departments in the valley, you might be convinced that the relationship between data scientists and engineers is highly collaborative, organic, and creative. Just like peas and carrots.

Almost every data team I've worked with is structured this way. I work daily with data scientists. I have a data scientist sitting to my right, two data scientists sitting across from me. Our teams are highly integrated and I can't imagine it working any other way. If the teams the author is familiar with don't operate in this manner, then I can see why he'd think the endeavor is hopeless.

I also disagree with the author's conclusion. The data scientist's job is to analyze and interpret data. They should not be spending any time thinking about how to get that data. They should not be concerned about where the data is coming from. The more time scientists have to spend thinking about ETL, the less time they have to do what their training is in, statistical analysis.

kafkaesq 5 hours ago 1 reply      
There is nothing more soul sucking than writing, maintaining, modifying, and supporting ETL to produce data that you yourself never get to use or consume.

I'm not sure I get why writing ETL code for data you'll never consume is any more soul-sucking than, say, refactoring JS code for a website you couldn't begin to care about (and which will never be properly re-designed anyway); or even doing "thinker"-level work but for an industry you couldn't begin to care about (advertising), etc.

In other words, what most developers of whatever technical stripe do for a living.

throwawy31816 6 hours ago 8 replies      
This author seriously needs to expand all of his TLIs (three-letter initialisms) the first time he uses them, as any writer worth his or her salt would do. There are those who may be interested in what he has to say, but can't follow because of assuming abbreviations.
brown9-2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you manage to hire them, they will be bored. If they are bored, they will leave you for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, places where their expertise is actually needed. If they are not bored, chances are they are pretty mediocre.

Granted that yes, lots of solutions don't exactly require a Hadoop cluster with thousands of nodes, this is a pretty gross and mean-spirited dig at "mediocre engineers" a number of times. It would be nice if we didn't treat people that don't work at Amazon/Google/Twitter/LinkedIn as lesser beings because they find their jobs at a probably-doesn't-have-Big-Data company.

(Does StitchFix have Big Data? If the answer is no, are their "Data platform engineers" mediocre?

fizixer 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Data-driven decision-making to change the course of a business, is so internally disruptive it's unlikely to happen in an org-chart culture full of management layer.

Because that's what it is:

- It is attempting to question, critique, override, everyday decisions made by the management (including the CEO) based on available data.

- It is doing that with maximal knowledge of the whole organization. That means all the records, finances, secrets, what not, have to be divulged to the data-science team. (which in itself is an unsurmountable challenge, i.e., to convince the management to allow full data access; think emails, chat logs, meetings minutes of CEO's, VP's, etc, etc).

This will make the management go, "so let me get this straight, I authorize you access to data of the whole organization, and you come up with a conclusion (some of the times at least) that I'm full of it?"

I highly doubt any organization would be up for this kind of internal disruption, even if that means more success for the company.

MrFoof 6 hours ago 3 replies      
>You Probably Dont Have Big Data

"Big Data" is like sex in high school. Everyone talks about it but few people really have lots of it and some just don't have any.

ajnin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is not very convincing. He starts off by saying that the "traditional" model where the data scientists do the thinking while the engineers do the doing is unsuccessful because the engineers need to get invested in other people's ideas, need to maintain them and get blamed if they fail while the data scientists get all the praise. So he suggests replacing this with a new model where the engineers work horizontally aka in the shadows, have to be "Tony Stark tailors" and get out of the way while the data scientists get to be Tony Stark. Which is basically the same thing.
nkurz 3 hours ago 1 reply      
ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) is a process in data warehousing responsible for pulling data out of the source systems and placing it into a data warehouse.


phamilton 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> We are not optimizing the organization for efficiency, we are optimizing for autonomy.

This is one of the toughest parts of building a scalable organization (with or without big data). Getting past the idea of efficiency and being OK with redundancy.

This means allowing two teams to both build a common feature they might need, rather than establishing a dependency. It means making one teams job broader even if it overlaps with another team.

I find it interesting that we are perfectly willing to have redundancy on the software side (load balancing, slaves, etc) but not on the development side.

tyre 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The article is about not over-engineering solutions to problems you do not have. If you don't have interesting problems that require world-class solutions, then don't hire as if you do.

> If they are not bored, chances are they are pretty mediocre. Mediocre engineers really excel at building enormously over complicated, awful-to-work-with messes they call solutions.

And then comes this line:

>At Stitch Fix, we strive to be Best in the World at the algorithms and analytics we produce.

Without further justification, why does StitchFix, a subscription shopping service, need to be the "Best in the World" at algorithms and analytics? They have harder problems than Google or the Centers for Disease Control or NASA?

Unless they have justification for that, it seems a bit ironic given the article's ire for over-engineering.

kod 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The idea that engineers should build lego blocks without knowing what they're going to be used for is questionable at best.

A better idea imho is to have small crossfunctional teams where scientists and engineers work together to build only what they need with short iteration cycles.

If everyone involved doesn't have at least a broad perspective on the end-to-end purpose of what they're working on, they're probably going to build the wrong thing.

noddingham 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I could have done without the first half of the post telling me that I (or others) are mediocre, then going on to tell me how the author (and his fellows) are not just because they strive to be the "Best in the World".

This just reads like a puff piece for another valley startup by some guy who's better than you. Oh, and here's how we do it, you should try doing it this way too, because we think it's totes the best.

nissimk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Title should have been "Engineers Shouldn't only write ETL." I agree with the author's statement of the problem, but not with the proposed solution. Succinctly, I think the problem is compartmentalization and specialization. These are qualities that are sometimes promoted by management so that it is easier to maintain control over the organization and to hire people who won't require much training to do their jobs. Unfortunately, compartmentalization and specialization both lead to unhappiness in the workers, and are net negative for production. I believe the solution is fostering a wholistic approach among the specialists. Data scientists (who should be statisticians or machine learning experts) should interact regularly with software development engineers that have to productionize their research and they should also both interact regularly with systems and database administrators who make it all work in production. Rather than being separate teams working on parts of the same goal, they should all be one team. By working together through the poroblems faced in each area, they can learn more about each other's areas of expertise and will create a better solution faster. This isn't true just for data science, but throughout technology, where operational software developers should work together with product development, marketing, testing and operations to break down the divide and get all team members working towards the same goal.
zeroecco 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This article is so one sided it is painful. it is almost like Sheldon Cooper wrote this article. As an engineer I am offended and hurt that we are referred to as Tony Starks tailor.
gtrubetskoy 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I agree with the beginning of the article, which describes the present state pretty well, the part about "better engineers than statisticians and better statisticians than engineers", etc. But then I disagree with the rest.

The distinction between "Data Scientists" and "Engineers" is bogus, and the point about whether your data is "Big" is a red herring.

In reality, there should not be any distinctions between "scientists" and "engineers", you must strive to be both a "doer" and a "thinker". You can't think without doing, and can't do without thinking.

If you're in this field, and consider yourself an "engineer" but your math sucks, go read up on all you can about mathematics and statistics, just like you did back when you were learning about programming, operating systems and networking.

If you consider yourself a "data scientist" but don't know anything other than R and basic Python, go study programming and operating systems and networking, like you studied math at some point.

Somewhere on youtube I remember Dr. Donald Knuth (who is definitely an excellent programmer/engineer/computer scientist, arguably one of the best the world has known) saying that he considers himself primarily a mathematician.

Or, if you've read (or at least heard of) "the dragon book", you might find it interesting and inspiring that one of its main authors Dr. Jeffrey Ullman (whom I'd place in the same league as Knuth) went on to write another excellent (and available freely online, BTW) book "Mining of Massive Datasets", which IMHO is the one fundamental "big data" book out there.

So Data Scientists - go learn some programming languages like C and study UNIX and may be read "The Art of Computer Programming" and Engineers go read http://www.mmds.org/.

Then you'll all get along.

iblaine 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the conclusion is this. Data Scientists, Data Engineers, and Infrastructure Engineers exist in their respective roles. Data Engineers should enable Data Scientists to be better engineers by creating frameworks for Data Scientists. By doing so, Data Scientists will be less likely to put stress on everyone else.

Another point I'd like to make is that not everyone hates ETL and pipeline management. I happen to like it. It's rewarding to stand up reliable self-healing data pipelines and ETLs.

kpga 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Maybe a bit off topic, but from the 3 roles mentioned (Data Scientist, Data engineer and Infrastructure engineer) which one (if any) is better suited for working remotely?
cowardlydragon 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Everybody who writes code does ETL in some form.

That's the fundamental action of computation. Read, compute, write.

This is a stupid article.

trimbo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I recommend it every time this topic comes up:


"Big" data on the command line.

TeMPOraL 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone with big enough clout should utter a proper rule of thumb at some prestigious software conference. Something like "if your data can fit on a single commercially-available hard drive, it's not big data". Maybe then it has a chance to filter down to university education over the next decade or so.

(Corollary to that rule of thumb: if your data fits on a hard drive, all "big data" tools you need are shell scrips and SQLite.)

systems 3 hours ago 0 replies      
i would bet that the author must be thinking that those who disagree with him are ... mediocre engineers or developers

personally, i think, there is nothing wrong with being average .. people with average skills built great things

mediocre is just a mean way to say average

AndrewUnmuted 3 hours ago 2 replies      
> Most companies structure their data science departments into 3 groups:

> Data scientists ... aka the thinkers

> Data engineers ... aka "the doers"

> Infrastructure engineers ... aka "the plumbers"

The author is clearly not an infrastructure engineer.

lafay 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Is ETL really even necessary anymore? Why not just run fast ad hoc queries over the raw data with something like Google BigQuery?
hakann 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I work at a small startup with only 2 people in analytics. We build the infrastructure, data pipelines and do the BI analysis and data science. And I really enjoy knowing how it all comes together and being able to change anything in the pipeline. Maybe not having enough money for a big data department is our blessing.
kelvin0 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What's an ETL? Electronic Transport Layer? Big Data N00b here ...
hrvbr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Cheers for the beautiful website that doesn't require javascript.
ZenoArrow 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> What is the relationship like between your team and the data scientists? This is, without a doubt, the question Im most frequently asked when conducting interviews for data platform engineers. Its a fine question one that, given the state of engineering jobs in the data space, is essential to ask as part of doing due diligence in evaluating new opportunities. Im always happy to answer. But I wish I didnt have to, because this a question that is motivated by skepticism and fear."

> "Rather than try to emulate the structure of well-known companies (who made the transition from BI to DS), we need to innovate and evolve the model! No more trying to design faster horses

A couple years ago, I moved to Stitch Fix for just that very reason. At Stitch Fix, we strive to be Best in the World at the algorithms and analytics we produce. We strive to lead the business with our output rather than to inform it."

I find this article rather peculiar. At the start, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was an article about a company looking to find a solution to a problem, but as the article progresses it's clearer that they're selling themselves as the solution to the problem they outlined.

In other words, they start off looking like a customer, but only to set up the premise required to sell the solution to the problem their company supposedly has/had. Turned me off from taking the product seriously.

joeblau 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm getting a DNS error - could be me though.
Fast Search Using PostgreSQL Trigram Indexes gitlab.com
30 points by sytse  2 hours ago   14 comments top 4
alexpeattie 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I thought this was a great article, and trigram indexes are definitely an amazing tool to have in the arsenal.

I think PostgreSQL fulltext search (with tsvector, tsquery etc.) is given an unfairly bad rap though. I'm not sure that "full text search works best when the text vectors are stored in physical columns with an index" is true - in my experience there's no performance penalty to just indexing the tsvector expression - no need to worry about additional columns or triggers.

I also think the assertion that the key problem is that "full text search is that words are broken up according to the rules defined by the language of the text" is very context-dependent. In many situations that's the most awesome feature of fulltext search. Usually when I search for "cat" I'm not interested in results for catacombs or categories, but when I search for restaurants, results matching restaurant (singular) are relevant too.

I definitely see that for a use-case like GitLab's, where the data includes code, full text search's stemming would be a hindrance rather than a help.

YorickPeterse 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi! Author in question here, if anybody would like to know more about this particular feature I'll be happy to answer any questions. The changes discussed in this article are currently available on GitLab.com, 8.6 will be released on the 22nd as usual.
simonw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A project I worked on used trigram indexes a few years ago to solve the autocomplete problem. They are AMAZING - they basically allow you to run LIKE queries with wildcards anywhere in the string (as opposed to suffix-only-wildcards) against an index.

An autocomplete search for e.g. "rub rai" becomes the following SQL query:

 select * from topics where name ilike "%rub%rai%";
Which, thanks to the magic of trigram indexes returns in just a few ms, even against hundreds of thousands of rows. Without trigram indexes, the same query would be a full scan and would be too slow to justify hooking up to a search-as-you-type UI.

 create extension pg_trgm; create index topic_name_gin on topics using gin (name gin_trgm_ops);

beachstartup 53 minutes ago 1 reply      
ah yes, the old 're-implement the search engine inside the database' project, undoubtedly put up on the board because someone is tired of their get-the-data-from-the-database-to-the-search-engine process breaking constantly.

next on the map: discovering how shitty dictionary management is, the joys of NLP, and abandoning the project entirely because you realize all this stuff has already been solved in 3 or 4 different ways and the getting-the-data-from-the-database-to-the-search-engine process isn't really that bad, and pulling your hair out from customers asking insane questions because they don't understand how search engines actually work and why can't this be like google? can't you just do it how google does it, even though you don't have $100B and 50,000 employees?

i realize this is more of a product feature but i have ptsd on this topic so i had to vent.

How Maritime Insurance Helped Build Ancient Rome priceonomics.com
25 points by pmcpinto  2 hours ago   discuss
Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace theguardian.com
72 points by globba22  5 hours ago   17 comments top 7
MusaTheRedGuard 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I had to make a HN account once I saw this title. I'm Nigerian. Benin City is clearly still there. The modern Benin city is very obviously divided into 'old Benin' and Benin city proper.

So no, not 'lost without a trace'.

adwf 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder whether there should be a word for the feeling you get when reading something like this and thinking "Please don't be the British again..."

Dammit :(

afarrell 2 hours ago 1 reply      
When I was a kid, I was frustrated by the absence of an RTS or city-building game set in sub-Saharan Africa. I continue to be annoyed by this.
JoeAltmaier 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Google satellite view of modern-day Benin City shows clear evidence of past earthworks in the countryside surrounding. In particular traces of an earthen structure runs northeast out of the city starting at about St. Savior Rd, through Urhokuosa, Erua and Ethor to Irrua. A distance of 50 miles, and perhaps further.


frogpelt 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the fifth of a fifty-part series Jack Shenker is doing for the Guardian. So far he's cranked out one-a-day.
anonymous325 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Notice all the hand-waving in the article about mathematics. Mathematics proper, as in the derivation of theorems from axioms by means of proof, was discovered by the Greeks, and unless the residents of Benin City, or the Maya, or any other non-Western society that biased academics seek to rehabilitate were similarly deriving theorems from axioms by means of proof as did Euclid, speaking of their supposed mathematical prowess is extremely disingenuous and misleading.
ommunist 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Slave trade kills cities and cultures.
Use the Unofficial Bash Strict Mode (Unless You Love Debugging) redsymbol.net
47 points by gkst  3 hours ago   22 comments top 7
1amzave 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Fails to mention what is in my opinion the most devious, subtle potential pitfall with `set -e`: assigning (or even just a bare evaluation of) an arithmetic zero. `foo=0` won't do anything surprising, but `let foo=0` will return 1, and thus abort your script if you're not careful.

Also, as an alternative to the proposed `set +e; ...; set -e` wrapper for retrieving the exit status of something expected to exit non-zero (generally cleaner in my opinion, if slightly "clever"):

 retval=0 count=$(grep -c some-string some-file) || retval=$?

devit 2 hours ago 5 replies      
The article is dangerously wrong in its discussion of IFS.

What you should do to avoid the problem of mishandling spaces is use proper quoting (for i in "$@"; do ...), not changing IFS; setting IFS to \n\t will still break embedded tabs and newlines.

In general, in bash scripts any of use of $ should always be between double quotes unless you have a reason to do otherwise.

ishtu 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's also a good idea to check your complex scripts before run with awesome shellcheck tool.http://www.shellcheck.net/
Hello71 1 hour ago 1 reply      

> Why doesn't set -e (or set -o errexit, or trap ERR) do what I expected?

> set -e was an attempt to add "automatic error detection" to the shell. Its goal was to cause the shell to abort any time an error occurred, so you don't have to put || exit 1 after each important command. That goal is non-trivial, because many commands intentionally return non-zero.


> What are the advantages and disadvantages of using set -u (or set -o nounset)?

> Bash (like all other Bourne shell derivatives) has a feature activated by the command set -u (or set -o nounset). When this feature is in effect, any command which attempts to expand an unset variable will cause a fatal error (the shell immediately exits, unless it is interactive).

pipefail is not quite as bad, but is nevertheless incompatible with most other shells.

leni536 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Note that these options don't propagate to subshells. So be avare of your commands between ` marks.
lisivka 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I wrote library for shell scripts with design goal to work properly in strict mode: https://github.com/vlisivka/bash-modules
mchahn 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I use set -e or not based on the needs of the script. Many times I want the script to continue and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I don't set until partway down the script so the top isn't strict. I wouldn't want to set it on every script.
Uber seeking to buy self-driving cars: source reuters.com
176 points by martinshen  5 hours ago   171 comments top 36
msoad 2 hours ago 3 replies      
TLDR: It's not self driving. It's data collecting cars for now.

I know a little bit about this. It's not "self-driving" car per se. You know with current technology we can't have completely driver-less cars. But to get there we need a lot of data. Uber and Lyft saw all the rides on their systems and thought if we had a lot of sensors in cars and recored all of that we could have the winning factor for self driving cars which is data.

In order to record that data they need customized cars. They also need to own the car to own the data associated with it (this is my assumption).

mmakunas 5 hours ago 9 replies      
Maybe I'm missing something but that number sounds hard to believe. An S-Class in the US is $100K. Even if a stripped down "utility" version was available at $50K that's $5B worth of cars. Yes, it's a "long term" order (i.e., not paid for and delivered at once), but that seems way beyond anything even Uber would do.
dsr_ 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I am reminded of Lucent, who built the best hardware for the end-user ISP market in the form of the Ascend MAX TNT, which would terminate a DS3, break it into individual dialup lines, and handle all of them as modem calls. Cool stuff.

It's just that they sold all this stuff to ISPs who didn't have any good credit lines, so Lucent extended them credit (bing! interest payments!) using the MAXen as collateral.

When the ISP dialup market collapsed, the ISPs returned the equipment in lieu of payment. That equipment had no value whatsoever, because anybody who wanted one and could afford one already had two.

Presumably there's some sort of secondary market for cars -- but a hundred thousand black S-Class is about what they've sold in the US over the last 7 years combined.

encoderer 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The S-Class is an interesting choice. I'd wager that most people have never been in a car as nice as an S Class before -- no comparison really to the town car people associate today with Uber Black. The back seat has massage, heat and cool, individual entertainment options, power recline. Some of these things could be customized, but Mercedes isn't going to tarnish the reputation of their flagship sedan so Uber can have a more utilitarian taxi.
jfoutz 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Uber has some of the best researchers in the world. I'd bet Mercedes builds the cars, specialized with Uber specified additional sensors and hardware for self driving. Uber customizes the source to deal with tough driving conditions, and turns the code back over to Mercedes.

Uber gets it's fleet, Mercedes gets the tech. It's getting competitive. Mercedes will get the tech perfected, but this kind of deal could get them there much faster. Access to Uber's team, and more importantly mountains of data that Uber is taking the risk for will probably speed up refinement of the tech.

nikkwong 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Another concern for uber is what are people going to do to the inside of these driverless cars now? Passengers today are respectful to ridesharing vehicles they sit in--because the owner of the vehicle is close at hand and the human connection commands some respect. But when its just a group of (maybe drunk) passengers in an empty vehicle--where's the accountability?
konschubert 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
In the German source[1] it is very clear that the order is under the condition that Mercedes delivers an autonomous self-driving vehicle.

It is also clearly stated there that Daimler is not expecting to be able to deliver such a car before 2020.

Basically, Uber said: "Once you're able to build a self-driving S class, we will buy 100.000 of them".And Daimler said: "We will come back to it."


mlrtime 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Mercedes/Audi/BMW taxis are common in Germany. This doesn't mean you'll be able to order your S class in NYC/SF any time soon.
archildress 4 hours ago 5 replies      
Uber is an interesting company for a number of reasons, but here's the part that interests me the most:

Uber operates in a grey-area legal environment in the cities it operates in. Uber's defense / view on this is that they generate such a societal positive in terms of jobs that it outweighs the legal constraints.

But, when your goal is to eventually use a fleet of self-driving cars and eliminate the job possibilities for drivers, isn't that a moot point?

f_allwein 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the (German) article this is based on:


It says they plan to buy "a six digit number of cars", and they're only interested in self driving cars.

Animats 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Why would Uber want to buy non-self-driving cars? Right now, they have their drivers buying the cars for them. Their current business model shoves all the capital costs down onto the driver. If Uber owns a lot of cars, their business model looks far different, more like Hertz. This will reduce their valuation substantially.
brebla 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
The critical question facing our driverless future is liability. Who owns the risk? If the individual owner is liable, you can imagine the upshot - slow adoption rates, high premiums. If the seller/programmer is liable, expect consolidation. It feels like this is the question of our time. To pay for consolidated services - spotify, netflix, uber, Bernie Sanders - or to remain an individual and accept inefficiency as a natural cost of freedom.
tyingq 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The magnitude here is pretty impressive.

I found this list of sizes for existing commercial fleets. They would be besting UPS for total fleet size if all 100k were on the road at once. http://www.fleet-central.com/content/pdf/AUTOF_top300commerc...

nashashmi 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I am not surprised if Uber is going in this direction. In fact, looking at what Uber has done so far , Uber has already planned for this sort of future in 10-20 years.

Look at what Uber has done:

* Uber buys Nokia Here Maps for their map part and for their street imagery part.

* Uber hires robotics department.

* Uber knows today's business is supposed to be the transition phase to going into a zipcar like car-on-demand service.

There aren't too many data points here, but the only thing I can glean from this is Uber wants to have robotic cars to pick you up and drop you off and will plan that future by storing street imagery, instead of that LiDAR based method the others are doing.

justsaysmthng 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Just a shower thought, but if the car makers can make self-driving cars, can't they also implement their own versions of Uber ?

Why would they even sell the cars, when they can rent them out and make much bigger margins ?

Uber's current strength is it's database of drivers, but since we're talking self-driving cars here, that become irrelevant.

It's not like Mercedes or BMW lack brand recognition in the transportation space...

sixQuarks 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Very telling that Uber is trying to go with Mercedes, when Tesla is really their first choice. It's an open secret that Elon Musk will be launching an Uber competitor using Tesla vehicles. I expect a "surprise" announcement from Tesla within 18 months.
alvern 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This makes a lot of sense. S-class cars already have the sensors for self-driving in highway conditions. Uber UATC is actively working on the software for autonomous drivers.

This is a large scale capital investment in a safe luxury service that Uber can sell in certain markets. I'm betting the s-class needs very little hardware to wire into what UATC is developing.

bsbechtel 3 hours ago 1 reply      
If this is true, this is an incredibly risky move. I know self-driving cars are more or less inevitable at this point, but there are hundreds of unknowns that still need to be figured out. How will passengers treat the vehicles? What happens when there is a problem, and there isn't a human present? How secure will the cars be? Is the 'call a car from an app' business model the one that will win? Committing this amount of capital this early in the game seems like a big gamble, unless there are a large number of contingencies worked into this deal.
iandanforth 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone know how this volume compares to a Mercedes dealer's volume over 5 or 10 years?
vnchr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
At that scale, customization is a given. Uber could leverage their own robotics resources together with Mercedes' to speed up autonomous vehicles time to market which Uber stands to benefit from substantially enough to justify this kind of investment.
spaceflunky 4 hours ago 1 reply      
At that kind of volume, would it make more sense to have MB develop a bespoke car for Uber?

The S-Class is a great car, but I'm sure there are Uber-specific improvements that can be made. Why would you order some many of something 'off-the-shelf'?

kin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's probably more along the lines of: "Whenever you guys are done making it fully autonomous, we want 100,000 of 'em to replace our drivers"

If that was the case, the volume makes sense. Makes zero sense to buy 100,000 of today's model and watch it depreciate in value while providing none back 'cause you still need a driver.

ams6110 4 hours ago 0 replies      
At that quantity, an S class is the badge on the trunk, otherwise whatever Uber wants it to be. Likely the technology for automation, but maybe not all the luxury bells and whistles.
pcl 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, I wonder what a contract like that looks like, and how many years the payments and deliveries are spread out over. Assuming a massively-discounted price of $25,000 per car, that comes to $2.5 billion!
ethana 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The S Class has been Mercedes platform for autonomous driving cars. The current generation actually has a very capable installed sensors for autonomous mode. Per https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fhDqgh6DClo
carlosnunez 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope they use these for more S-Class UberBlack service. I wanted to get driven in one for our anniversary but found it difficult.
arepb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
One of the weaker lead quotes I've ever seen.
qaq 4 hours ago 0 replies      
That's huge order 100K is what they sell in a year. So if spread over 10 years this would mean they are buying 10% of S-class cars produced each year.
hodder 3 hours ago 3 replies      
If/when someone develops fully reliable, fully autonomous cars, what makes them need Uber?
nodesocket 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Wow, that's a huge amount of capital to spend upfront. Wonder if this is for their black service or more targeted in Europe.
SilasX 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait, is the S-Class even a legit SDC?
ebbv 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If Uber really is buying 100,000 cars, or anywhere near that number, it totally undermines their argument that they are a ride sharing app and not a straight up taxi/limo company.
williamcotton 4 hours ago 3 replies      
How does this benefit Uber?

Imagine Daimler can produce 100,000 self-driving cars. They would continue to produce and sell self-driving cars to other people as well. They could sell self-driving cars to Lyft. Individuals could operate their own self-driving car services. They could organize in to cartels and have a single app that competes with Uber or Lyft.

Uber is destined to be a commodity in an open marketplace of taxi services as soon as they adopt self-driving cars. Their primary roll right now is as a labor organization. They currently create the economic incentives needed to attract a fleet of drivers. Self-driving cars are not motivated by economic incentives. Uber can't control the sale, distribution and organization of self-driving cars.

All that riders care about is being able to reliably get from one side of town to another. They'll know that they can trust Daimler self-driving cars, regardless of the dispatcher.

We're going to end up right back to where we started, with a commodity system of private taxi dispatchers and a productive industry of automobile manufacturers, with an emphasis on the automatic nature of this new form of transportation.

Daimler is the big winner here if they can bring a self-driving car to market.

mtgx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
They should make sure that in the contract it says the cars are virtually unhackable, too, or Daimler-Benz is responsible for any liability from security breaches:


pmlnr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
self-driving Uber cars? What could possibly go wrong?


There comes a point at which the helpfulness of technology becomes a form of oppression: walled gardens, predictive services making the wrong predictions, and every social platform forcing us to use our real names. It's cute when it's small, but what happens when self-driving cars can collude with the cops?

https://motherboard.vice.com/read/one-star ( previously: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11149653 )

ape4 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I know Uber calls their service "Black". But in hot climates white cars make more sense. Burn less resources keeping cool.
No More Full Table Vacuums in PostgreSQL rhaas.blogspot.com
248 points by dhd415  9 hours ago   63 comments top 12
nickmerwin 3 hours ago 2 replies      
This is one of the things about being a web developer and part-time DBA that keeps me up at night (sometimes literally all night).

Around a month ago the source file table on Coveralls.io[0] hit a transaction wraparound, and put us in read-only mode for over 24 hours while RDS engineers performed a full vacuum (that's not something that can be done manually as a customer). On a managed database I'm paying thousands a month for, I was hoping there would be some sort of early warning system. Well, apparently there is, but it's buried in the logs, and won't trigger any app exceptions so went un-noticed.

What's worse is there's 0 indication of how long a vacuum is going to take, nor progress updates while it's going. So for a production web app with customers, this means damage control language like:

"Our engineers have identified a database performance issue and working to mitigate. Unfortunately we do not have an ETA at this time."

About a week later, more calamity hit: the INT "id" field on the same table exceeded the max length. My first thought was change it to a BIGINT, but after ~4 hrs into the migration without any indication of how much longer it would take, I pulled the plug and sharded the table instead.

Moral of the story is that web devs should be aware of these pitfalls, and that no matter how much trust you put into a managed database service, it still could happen to you (queue ominous background music).

Anyway I'm glad to see this lurking monster in our beloved database tamed, thank you Mr Haas!

[0] https://coveralls.io

bcantrill 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This sounds promising! Transaction wraparound autovacuum is a particularly nasty pathology because it is so devastating and strikes with so little warning: a system transitions from entirely fine to one that is entirely (and mysteriously!) non-functional in a single transaction. And because the system needs to be up for a pretty long time before you see this (it is tautologically rare), many only learn about this failure mode the hard way. Certainly, we at Joyent got completely nailed by this -- and if you want to get a sense of how disorienting this failure mode is when you're seeing it for the first time, read our postmortem of the service outage that transaction wraparound autovacuum induced.[1]

A long way of saying: this is a nasty failure mode, and it's terrific to see the PostgreSQL team tackle it. While there are still some questions (e.g., this sounds like the autovacuum is still kicked but that is at once more aggressive and more intelligent, but does that mean that an exclusive lock on the table is still blocked for the duration of the operation?), this is clearly a big leap in the right direction, and (more) validation that we've made the right choice for our transactional data; thank you PostgreSQL team!

[1] https://www.joyent.com/blog/manta-postmortem-7-27-2015

jedberg 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Praise the deity! Oh how I wish I had this when I was running reddit's databases. It's exactly the use case this was built for -- high write load where little changes after it's written.

They solved the problem by moving the SSD after I left, but I feel like incorporating this patch might actually let them reduce the size of their Postgres cluster, or at least grow it slower.

tiffanyh 8 hours ago 5 replies      
Robert Haas is just amazing.

For just Postgres, he has completed:

- No more full table vacuums

- Parallel Sequential Scan

- Major memory improvements for NUMA

- Major improvements for large multi-core systems

My only concern is that it appears that Robert is the only person tackling big/major improvements for Postgres.

I might be wrong, but that's the perception. I hope this isn't the case and other are also tackling big improvements to Postgres.

dvdplm 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Continuously blown away with the quality and usefulness of Postgres. It is truly lightyears ahead of MySQL and I keep wondering wth took me so long to switch. Kudos.
merb 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is huge.Actually the latest three versions of PostgreSQL gave us so much things, I'm just happy that I'm a PostgreSQL user.
askyourmother 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Further affirmation we made the right choice to use PostgreSQL for our DB, which was a tough fight because internal company politics usually require the use of Oracle or MySQL, due to previously agreed licences.

PostgreSQL remains one of those great products that you can argue for and win based on the quality, documentation and performance of the product.

devit 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Why not use 64-bit ids to prevent wraparound, at least as an option?

A storage design that requires periodic maintenance doesn't seem a good one.

rwmj 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there a reason why PostgreSQL can't use 64 bit transaction IDs?
brightball 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am curious if companies like Enterprise DB have solutions for cases like this?
danharaj 8 hours ago 0 replies      
i think PostgreSQL is the highest quality code i've ever used and it's constantly improved at a brisk pace. i think the project exemplifies the full potential of open source development.
programminggeek 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Well that sucks.
The Importance of Acoustics in Food Storage ediblegeography.com
9 points by tintinnabula  1 hour ago   discuss
The Empire the World Forgot bbc.com
8 points by Thevet  1 hour ago   discuss
Hacking the Worcester Wave Thermostat in Python rtwilson.com
12 points by ascorbic  2 hours ago   discuss
A small tweak to the tax code could make student loan repayment the new 401(k) bloomberg.com
20 points by dismal2  2 hours ago   5 comments top 4
pcl 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
I really hope this doesn't make it through Congress. We need to reform the education funding system, not continue to enable it.

The federal government is already basically putting money in the pockets of universities by subsidizing the loans up-front. Making them tax-free on the back-end will probably have similar unintended consequences.

seattle_spring 36 minutes ago 1 reply      
Why should employees who were smart enough not to wind up with mounds of student loan debt get less compensation?
lgleason 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why not make any loan re-payments a deduction instead of only being through a employer.... Otherwise you are favoring companies at the expense of independent contractors.
carsongross 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
And so indentured servitude would complete its reemergence in America.
Lloyd S. Shapely, 92, Nobel Laureate and a Father of Game Theory, Has Died nytimes.com
15 points by _murphys_law_  2 hours ago   1 comment top
dvt 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Brilliant man. He is highly revered on my alma mater's campus. RIP.
Show HN: OctaveWealth Smart, flat-fee 401k octavewealth.com
26 points by dmmalam  2 hours ago   5 comments top 3
boulos 44 minutes ago 1 reply      
Great to see more competition in this space! (Aside: Can you comment on why this is happening now? ForUsAll, Captain401k, Betterment's 401k, now you, etc.)

Who is your third-party custodian? Wealthfront uses Apex Clearing and makes this explicit.

What ETFs do you allow employees to choose from? Again, others (e.g. Captain 401k) make this explicit.

Can employees choose their options in a fine grained manner, or does everyone need to opt-in to your rebalancing and changing of ETF options?

OliverJones 37 minutes ago 1 reply      
You state the problem space clearly -- many employees don't choose to take advantage of tax-deferred retirement plans.

To whom do you have access for investment? DFA has a great portfolio of so-called "unmanaged" index funds. They have a low burden, much of it not front-loaded. And they've been around a long time. There are other similar funds.

How do you avoid the Zenefits craziness as you grow?

dmmalam 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Founder here, happy to take any qs.We started this because we were sick of percent based fees eroding our investment growth. We also wanted access to more sophisticated investment options which until now have not been available via high end personal wealth managers.
SQLite with a Fine-Toothed Comb regehr.org
70 points by jsnell  5 hours ago   1 comment top
advisedwang 2 hours ago 0 replies      
UB = undefined behaviour for anyone else who didn't get the unspecified acronym at first glance.
Chatfuel (YC W16) lets publishers and anyone build bots for messaging apps techcrunch.com
11 points by never-the-bride  1 hour ago   1 comment top
spdustin 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hey, TechCrunch: It'd be super-awesome if you'd link to the companies you're talking about. You can always nofollow the anchors if you're worried about sharing that precious PageRank.
The 451 status code is now supported github.com
380 points by cujanovic  14 hours ago   73 comments top 11
schlowmo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Besides the reference to Fahrenheit 451 the referece to Life of Brian at the example from the RFC made my day:


"Unavailable For Legal Reasons

This request may not be serviced in the Roman Province of Judea due to the Lex Julia Majestatis, which disallows access to resources hosted on servers deemed to be operated by the People's Front of Judea."

dcw303 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This could be really useful. If this was done by other big content sites (Youtube for example) then a search bot could build up an index of banned resources. A repository of burned books.
chippy 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"Responses using this status code SHOULD include an explanation, in the response body, of the details of the legal demand: the party making it, the applicable legislation or regulation, and what classes of person and resource it applies to."

So in the articles example, GitHub should really include who is requesting the DCMA in the response.

nothis 7 hours ago 1 reply      
TuringTest 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the Farenheit 451 reference. Is that intentional, or does destiny have a sense of humor?

Edit: Wikipedia knows it all, as always. [1]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_451

jasonjei 3 hours ago 1 reply      
If I understand NSL correctly, its existence cannot be published without a government waiver? So in the case a repo needs to be taken down due to a NSL, what does GH do? 404? 401? 451? Returning 451 in response to a NSL would definitely violate NSL requirements?
edent 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Original discussion on HN from 4 years ago https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4099751
apalmer 6 hours ago 5 replies      
Help Me Understand:

I am a government who is censoring content. I do not like the explicitly saying I am 'censoring' the internet I instruct my infrastructure not to use the status code 451. and I instruct my nation's infrastructure to reject or rewrite all responses with 451 status code to 404.

What stops me?

sanqui 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I was under the impression that the 451 status code should be used for requests blocked by proxies, where the original content is technically still available at the source but blocked for some reason. Probably got the wrong idea.
ape4 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This means webcrawlers/bots can now compile stats.
lolidaisuki 11 hours ago 7 replies      
I actually saw the status code 451 in the wild.

First time I saw it was in December and after that in January, both on the same site. The site that was blocked was archive.is.

This block was targeted at Finland and none of the different Internet connections I tried could get to the site, I tried my home connection, cellular and connecting from my school network. It's a shame that anyone even thought of censoring such an useful tool for history and other legitimate uses. I wrote a thing about it to a Finnish newspaper and a few weeks after that the block was gone. I suspect that the newspaper conatcted archive.is and it was removed so they don't get bad publicity.

It was kind of ironical that I had to subvert the archive.is censorship to read an archived version of a thread discussing web censorship in Sweden.

I think this error code is a bad idea as it legitimizes censorship.

Orgmode for Sublime Text 2 and 3 github.com
141 points by emartinelli  9 hours ago   25 comments top 8
pumblechook 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Kudos to the author for trying to bring org mode to a wider audience. It was definitely the gateway drug to Emacs for me, and now that I've been using org for awhile I honestly can't see myself ever switching to another personal task manager/productivity tool. I always recommend it to others, but alas, the Emacs barrier is too big for most to overcome.

I do have one suggestion: don't try to emulate the feature set of Emacs org mode exactly. While I love org mode, the setup time and effort was many orders of magnitude greater than any other tool I've used before, and I can't say it enabled me to be many orders of magnitude more productive. I would love to have an org mode with sensible defaults (such as indented bullets, project-based agenda view, etc...) with a narrow feature set. For me, the killer features are:

* Mixed notes and TODOs. It was a revelation to be able to just type a TODO into any notes and know that this will magically appear on my master TODO list. But for this to be useful, you really need...

* The agenda view. For those not familiar, this is essentially a consolidated list of todos across all your org files. But I never found the default agenda view that useful, so I again spent lots of time writing one myself. Now I use it many times a day.

* Timers. The way org mode does timers is miles better than any other time tracking software I've ever used.

* Flexible 'projects'. In org mode I have a lot of flexibility in how I treat projects (for me a project is simply a TODO with 1 or more nested TODO). With my agenda view I can quickly see all my projects with two keystrokes.

* Flexible TODO recurrence. Most task managers only let you repeat a TODO every so often, but org has a powerful syntax for defining whatever recurrence pattern you want (i.e. do this task every week on Friday and have it done within 3 days)

* TODOs dates as scheduled or deadlines. It is always surprising to me how other task managers don't recognize this difference. If you schedule yourself to do something on a certain date, it is very different than saying 'you have to get this done by this date'.

* TODO workflows. Most task managers have tepid support for a TODO as a workflow with potential alternate and blocking states (such as waiting on someone before you can do the TODO), but with org mode you can precisely define TODO workflows and do all sorts of cool stuff with them.

* Habits. The way org does habits is simply brilliant.

Keep up the good work!

ronjouch 7 hours ago 3 replies      
For another take on the TODO list in Sublime, check PlainTasks. It may not have the ambition of a "full orgmode" if compared to emacs's orgmode, but has nice default settings and keybindings.

It's on Package Control and at https://github.com/aziz/PlainTasks

jefurii 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Offtopic, but everytime I want to try Sublime I check to see if it can edit files on remote systems via SSH and it can't. Well you can if you install some package on the remote systems but that's clunky and doesn't count. I'll continue using Emacs.
MarcScott 2 hours ago 0 replies      
For me the beauty of org-mode is I get to write in a feature rich markup language and then export to almost any format my heathen non-emacs using colleagues desire.

Oh, and tables. Having what is basically a spreadsheet that I can manipulate without ever touching my trackpad is a serious win.

Sadly, I doubt these features will ever be available outside of emacs. Org-mode probably deserves it's own app.

scrumper 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Well I'm trying to use sublime for more stuff; my dream is that it turns into a Python-based Emacs, so this is interesting. It's not clear to me how to actually use this port of org-mode though. There don't seem to be any new commands (bar 'set syntax'); how do I create tasks, indent, fold, mark done etc?
Semiapies 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I always wonder what developers feel when some project they haven't touched in months or years gets leapt on by an eager Hacker News.
mikerichards 7 hours ago 2 replies      
2,3 years ago commit. What about Orgmode for other editors? I'd love to see Atom or VSCode get one.
melling 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a way for Sublime to work directly with Github? I maintain some notes files in org mode directly on Github.



However, when I want to make big changes, I work locally. Ideally, I'd be warned if I forget to update my local repo when I try to edit.

The Tragic Tale of Saddam Hussein's Supergun bbc.com
92 points by rm_-rf_slash  6 hours ago   34 comments top 8
pascalmemories 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Oddly, the article fails to mention the UK government attempt to railroad into prison the directors of the UK company asked to make the pipe components, by covering up the fact they had approved the export using 'public interest immunity' certificates to hide evidence from the courts.


nkurz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A powder gun like the one used in Harp and a gas gun like Sharp both work in the same basic way expanding gases. The lighter the gases molecular weight, the faster it expands in air. Gunpowder has a molecular weight of 22, slightly less than air at around 28, but ignited gunpowder is incredibly hot, so thats why it expands so quickly. The hydrogen used in gas guns, however, has a molecular weight of two so expands extraordinarily quickly in air.

I couldn't understand from the article how the hydrogen was being used in a "gas gun". Since pure hydrogen doesn't ignite, wouldn't we care about the molecular weight of the oxidizer as well?

It turns out the "light gas" is important just for it's low molecular molecular weight. It's never ignited, and one could substitute Helium for Hydrogen if one wanted. The gas is a second stage in addition to, rather than instead of the gunpowder. It's like a spring-air gun, but instead of spring you use an explosive charge.

Here's Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light-gas_gun

And here's some PVC experimentation:http://www.chrisfenton.com/2-stage-light-gas-gun/

Pxtl 5 hours ago 1 reply      
With all the talk of Musk's Hyperloop, now I'm curious if the barrel was evacuated (if that's worth it).

Even though this wouldn't be appropriate for use for delicate satellites, I wonder if this would be a critical piece of equipment for industrialized space - raw materials like fuel and oxygen and structural materials. Unfortunately full satellites would be a challenge since googling reveals that experiments involving these things included 10,000 gees of acceleration.

jdeibele 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Frederick Forsyth's "The Fist of God" is a good read and uses Gerald Bull and his super gun as part of the plot.
theklub 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of the huge pumpkin guns people make. https://www.punkinchunkin.com/registered-machines.html
zaroth 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the twist of submerging almost the entire barrel in the ocean, pretty awesome to wrap your brain around how that could actually work out. It was also really interesting to hear Hunter's thoughts that even if the physics all works and launch costs could be cut 1/10th, how it would still be unworkable for someone SpaceX to invest in the R&D alongside their reusable rockets.
brandonmenc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There was a great HBO movie from 1994 called "Doomsday Gun" about this.


at-fates-hands 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I love the tone of the article. It struggles to assert that although the gun could be used as a weapon, it had more potential as something to launch a satellite.

You would have to be pretty naive to think the Iraqi's, who always wanted to be the dominant Persian Gulf state in the region, would actually use this for its intended purpose and not weaponize it to intimidate its neighbors in the region.

Motor Vehicles Increasingly Vulnerable to Remote Exploits ic3.gov
20 points by eddywebs  3 hours ago   7 comments top 3
task_queue 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
You know all those things that make it really easy for Grandma to have her identity stolen when checking her email?

They're coming to car/refrigerator/toaster near you.

Animats 1 hour ago 2 replies      
"As a note of caution, if manufacturers regularly make software updates for vehicles available online, it is possible that criminals may exploit this delivery method."

Right. This may be the beginning of the end of remote software updates for "security fixes". The backdoor implicit in remote software updates may be a bigger risk than the existing hole. If anybody ever gets (or already has) Microsoft's or Apple's signing key, there's going to be big trouble.

username223 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine what would happen if a hostile government, organized crime, someone who hated you, or a bored teenager controlled your car. And also your oven, your air conditioner, and your garage door. Welcome to the Internet of Things, folks!
       cached 18 March 2016 22:02:02 GMT