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Investing for Geeks kalzumeus.com
198 points by gk1  2 ago   136 comments top 29
chollida1 1 ago 6 replies      
Great post!!

I'd add a few things that I've learned over the years:

1) Always be invested in the market. Corollary, don't time the market. This is by far the largest mistake people make.

Investors typically pull money out at the bottom after they've suffered a physiologically devastating loss, like at the end of 2008 and hence they miss the rebound, like 2009-now.This isn't quite the same but it shows what missing the top 25 days in the market over the past 45 years does to your returns.


If you are an investor you need to be in the market, period.

2) Accept that you will lose money some years. If you are buying index funds then you will get market performance, ex fees. Markets go down sometimes. Stay the course.

3) Don't look every day or you will go nuts.

Keep in mind that the largest draw down (top to bottom) will be larger than what the returns look like if you just look year over year. Ie if you look and see the S&P lost 28% in 2008, understand that if you watched the S&P every day of 2008 then it probably lost more than 28% from its top to its bottom but rebounded slightly at the end of the year to make the year over year loss less than the maximum loss.

4) Have some exposure to outside of the US markets. Consider the scenario of investing all your money in the company you work for. In a rough time for your company you get the double whammy of losing money and possibly your job at the same time.

Similarly to how you are told to not invest all your money in the company you shouldn't invest solely in the country you live in, same principle.

EDIT see child comment, I mangled the English language in point 4

atmosx 15 ago 0 replies      
> Often when I told people I was building a (toy) stock exchange theyd ask me for stock advice, which is about as well-considered as asking a WoW guild to deal with your terrorism problem.

And you think that's problematic? I have relatives telling me that they'll go with X anti-thrombotic therapy because a cousin of the brother of a guy who they met in the supermarket took it 6 years ago and worked wonders for him. I'm a pharmacist and I have rather strong opinions about some drugs over others, but I can take advices from doctors, physicians, nurses or anyone with a minimum degree of knowledge on the topic. Still, many times I have to argue with with relatives, to the point where I get frustrated.

hundt 7 ago 0 replies      
> You should open a SEP-IRA, which is a special account type that is similar to a 401k in mechanics but has very, very generous funding limits.

Actually, both account types have the same yearly limit; it's just that the employer can contribute much more than the employee, and when self-employed you can contribute as the employer.

In fact, the difference between SEP IRA and 401k is not the funding limits, but the fact that the SEP IRA only lets you do the employer contributions. You can actually open a 401k for yourself if you are self-employed, and make both employer and employee contributions. That will actually let you put more money away for a given income than the SEP IRA, until you make 250k or so at which point you have hit the cap for both.

loteck 1 ago 1 reply      
Read Goldstein's (edit: Bernstein's!) book "If You Can".

It's a whopping 16 page book of plain talk and he made it free on the internet, no strings. [1] It's the best introduction to planning for retirement, especially for those under 35, I've read so far.

[1] https://www.etf.com/docs/IfYouCan.pdf

simonista 3 ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have suggested reading on what the estimates of 8% (or 7% or 5% or whatever gets used) are based on? Is there any data to support that the next 30 years will see those types of returns from the total market on average?
teej 1 ago 2 replies      
If you're healthy enough to swing a high-deductible health plan, consider maxing out a "stealth IRA" aka health savings account. With a $3,350 individual / $6,750 contribution limit, it's a great tax-advantaged account that can be treated just like a Traditional IRA. If you use it for medical costs, which you are likely to have in retirement, you get tax advantage on both ends.


3pt14159 3 ago 0 replies      
I'm getting really sick of hearing programmers tell me about the efficient market hypothesis as if it is some very hard rule, like big O notation.

The market is not efficient. Full stop. Stop telling me that I'm not going to beat the market. I beat the market all the time. In 2007 I was telling everyone I know that the housing market was about to burst. I sold all of my family investing company's stocks (except for Apple) and I moved everything into money markets / bank accounts. Bought back in during 2009, road the wave up until about last year I started feeling a bit skiddish and sold off not everything, but many things. I routinely pick individual stocks, like Apple, Telsa, Amazon, Bitcoin; that I know are better. Apple: iPhone is better. I don't care if some analyst at Goldman knew this before me 90% of the public was still talking about how Blackberry had a keyboard. Telsa: the physics made sense, plus Elon had that Silicon Valley-ness to him. Amazon I knew would win with AWS and the whole "ecommerce is a bear" thing. Bitcoin: People like drugs and buying things online, bought in at $4 a coin, have since sold almost all of it.

It is actually really easy if you are smart enough to be a programmer to beat the market. Just make sure you understand the domain you are in really well, and be cautious of overall trends in the economy. I've averaged 18% year over year returns with a diversified portfolio (yes, more than a quarter of that is bonds or and another quarter is super low risk dividend companies like consumer staples).

"Survivorship bias" I hear you say.

Maybe there should be this other word "suvivorship bias bias" where one is incapable of having their view of the efficient market hypothesis challenged because this is the only thing that comes to mind when they talk to someone about investing.

There are ways to do better than the S&P 500. Patrick is right about one thing though, you won't pick winning stocks from reading the newspaper but you might miss a 2008/2009 if you read The Economist instead of Time Magazine.



maerF0x0 1 ago 11 replies      
> "Open a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. The traditional IRA contributes pre-tax money, the Roth IRA post-tax money. The upshot is that if you believe your marginal rate at retirement to be higher than your present rate, you should pick a Roth IRA, otherwise, you should pick a traditional IRA. If you dont feel like forecasting that, take my word for it that 90% of you should have Roth IRAs."

I simply cannot fathom why he would state that. I cannot imagine a scenario where my retirement income would (nor should) be as high or higher than my peak earning years.

Typically in retirement you have a home and all sorts of hard goods (clothes, furniture, cars) paid off and thus need less money.

infinite8s 28 ago 3 replies      
Question - is it fair to use the 8% historical market average when doing these calculations (which include some of the most spectacularly productive periods in the American economy)? All the predictions I've seen going forward look like the average will be much lower (at least for the current generation), and a rate of 4-5% means you need a much larger nest egg to drawdown a livable amount each year in retirement.
loeg 11 ago 0 replies      
Since you are all forum nerds, y'all might also enjoy:

* https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/commontopics ("I have $X, what do I do with it?") (and the rest of the PF wiki is a good general resource as well)

* https://www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence/ (How do I save enough to be able to stop working?)

* https://www.bogleheads.org/

conorgil145 34 ago 0 replies      
As some others in this thread have said (and Patrick discusses in the post), there are lots of things you can do to much more directly impact your change of becoming rich and retiring well/early than optimizing your investments: get a really good salary and don't spend a lot of money. One blog which I have read is Mr Money Mustache [1], which focuses on those same concepts. Many of the posts are good reads.

[1]: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/all-the-posts-since-the-begin...

pbreit 1 ago 1 reply      
1. Pay off credit cards & loans

2. Max out 401k, IRA

3. Put most of your money in cheap index fund like https://investor.vanguard.com/mutual-funds/lifestrategy/#/

Note: this is not investment advice

anovikov 7 ago 0 replies      
Any advice for non-Americans? I'd like to get to Vanguard but...
MarlonPro 58 ago 0 replies      
I'm on our company's 401K plan. If you know nothing about how the stock market works, then the target date retirement fund is the way to go. The worst thing you could do is not participating in your company's 401K plan, especially if the company offers you matching dollars (Read: FREE MONEY). I started with a target date retirement fund (managed by Schwab) but almost 2 years ago, I decided to re-allocate my fund into 3 mutual funds: S&P 500, US Small-Mid Cap, and International Large Cap. I'm happy that I re-allocated my fund. Ramith Seti's "I will Teach You to be Rich" book inspired me. And, another influence that made me re-allocate my fund is the "Three-Fund Portfolio" principle by Boglehead's Guide to Investing. I don't currently have access to the funds that Bogle suggested, but if I have extra money to invest, I'd open a Roth IRA account (alongside my 401K) and do the following:


or ETF's

VTI 60%VXUS 30%BND 10%

These allocations follow the Boglehead principle of 3-Fund portfolio / Lazy portfolio

paolav 16 ago 0 replies      
Any tips / guides for non-USA / european citizens?
dennisgorelik 1 ago 4 replies      
It's a good investment guide, but I disagree with Patrick's advice on Roth IRA. Roth IRA (unlike Traditional IRA) almost never makes sense.It is very unlikely that tax rate at retirement would be higher than tax rate now, because if your income at retirement is already high (meaning high-tax rate) then you are very unlikely to get money out of your retirement fund.You are much more likely to get money from your retirement fund at your low-income years, when tax rate is quite low already.
Analemma_ 1 ago 0 replies      
Investing for non-investors: whatever the question, if you have to ask, the answer is index funds.
jsonmez 3 ago 0 replies      
So, I thought I'd type up a bit of more detailed explanation of my story and why I think real estate is a great investment for software developers, since my previous comment was a little lacked.

I bought my first house when I was 19.

It's a little two bedroom shack in Boise, Idaho, which I bought in 1999 for $68,000.

I still have that little shack. Today it's worth about $135,000 and the tenants I had in it essentially paid the mortgage on it and I own it free and clear.

I've actually got 26 total rental units and I generate about $10k a month of almost completely passive income off of them, net.

I made a ton of mistakes along the way, but I learned quite a bit--which I'm happy to share.

Over the years, I tried to buy one property every year.

At first I could only afford small properties and would put 10% down, so I was a bit leveraged.

But, eventually I was able to afford bigger properties and put more money down.

I always bought properties using 30 fixed loans and that ended up working out well.

I watched in horror as many of the other investors I knew--who were really speculators--went under, during the big housing crash.

I actually thrived during this time, picking up properties for cheap.

All the time I was working as a software developer, I had this goal of retiring early.

I kept saving as much as I could and investing real estate... little by little.

Like I said, I made mistakes, but learned from them and got smarter as I got more experienced.

Eventually, I had built up enough cash flow to actually "retire." This happened a few years ago.

Why is real estate such a good investment?

Well, I think there are two main factors: leverage and hedging against inflation.

Leverage is extremely powerful.

A bank will lend you a large amount of money, sometimes 90% or more, for you to invest--if you buy real estate.

This isn't the case with other investments.

So, you can buy a house for $100k, put $10k of your own money into it and if it goes up 10%, and is worth $110k, you make 100% return on your $10k.

That's insane. I don't know other investments where that is possible with such low risk--if you mitigate the risk properly.

Now, I don't depend on appreciation--and you can't count on it--but, you don't even need it.

Just the cash flow alone can get you excellent returns on your money. Again, with little risk and huge upsides.

Hedging against inflation is also a beautiful part of real estate investment.

Most other investments are hurt by inflation, real estate isn't.

In fact, if you owe money on a mortgage and inflation hits, you actually owe less.

Home values go up with inflation, as do rents.

I know it's a bit difficult to believe--I probably wouldn't if I hadn't done it myself--but, I have done it and I did escape the rat race.

Anyway, if you'd like to know more, let me know and I'll post the link to my YouTube videos and the video course (that is in beta) that I am releasing on specifically real estate investment for software developers.

orestis 57 ago 1 reply      
What is a Vanguard, Betterment, WealthFront equivalent for EU-residents?

Local banks usually offer a very small selection of funds and the fees are usually 2%, which has a huge impact.

freditup 44 ago 3 replies      
If your company doesn't do any 401k matching, how worth is is to put money into it vs. regular investing? In my case it's likely I may want access to the money before retirement age, so I'm not sure what the best option is.
ozim 37 ago 0 replies      
I think this should be opening sentece, after which a lot of people can just skip all other investment advice: "Only invest money you wont touch for 10+ years."
thr0waway1239 32 ago 1 reply      
Just to play devil's advocate, what if Peter Schiff is right again? :-)
k2xl 1 ago 1 reply      
One issue with the Roth IRA. You're contribution limit goes to zero after you make more than around 180K (depending on how you file).
jernejpregelj 48 ago 2 replies      
Invest in crowdfunding products ;)https://www.starterstreet.com/
asciihacker 40 ago 3 replies      
Forex, Binary Options and Cryptocurrency can return in months what traditional investing takes decades to do.

I know which I prefer.

jsonmez 32 ago 2 replies      
I'm a software developer and over my career, I've actually been doing real estate investing for about 18 years.

3 years ago, I was able to essentially "retire" by reaching full financial independence and bring in $10k per month from real estate passively.

I don't mean to plug my own thing, but I created a course which is in pre-release called "Simple Real Estate Investment for Software Developers."


I basically outline my strategy and how I did it.

I also talked about my whole story in a chapter in my book, Soft Skills.

For those who are curious about real estate investment.

It's not risky at all if you do it right and you think long-term.

alejohausner 30 ago 0 replies      
Why don't geeks read Mark Hulbert? Every time I see people discussing investing, it's usually about index funds. Stock picking is supposedly fool's gold, so you should buy the whole market, or so goes common wisdom.

But the market can be brutal. It can have decades-long stretches of terrible returns. If you had all your money in index funds, and retired in 1929, you would have made no money for 25 years. If you retired in 1967, 15 years. If 2000, 10 years. Do you have 10 years of living expenses saved up?

There are good stock pickers out there, people who focus on fundamentals. And you don't have to take their word for it. Mark Hulbert has been subscribing to many stock pickers' newsletters, trying out their picks, and reporting objectively on the results since 1980. Some libraries subscribe to his monthly report, but since investing is a very long-term process, the same handful of newsletters keep showing up in the report: you only need to look at a few recent Hulbert reports to find good stock pickers.

Faking your death linkedin.com
215 points by panic  5 ago   114 comments top 19
jastanton 4 ago 2 replies      
Reminds me of a DefCon speaker that talked about exploiting a bunch of websites to order death and birth certificates. Really eye opening, and potentially devastating if it's done to you.

Edit: https://youtu.be/9FdHq3WfJgs

hodgesrm 2 ago 5 replies      
Fun article. The idea of faking your death has probably occurred to a lot of people in military service.

It sure did in my case--it only took two days of basic training to make clear that signing up for the US Air Force was the worst mistake of a heretofore untroubled life. It's gratifying to see my proposed method (an untimely hiking accident) so highly praised.

Just out of curiosity for anybody who has gone through this exercise what method(s) did you consider? Extra points for originality.

pjc50 3 ago 6 replies      
A variant of this that I heard used to be a problem in India: have someone else declared dead. It can be remarkably hard to fix the problems created in a bureaucracy when that happens.


nommm-nommm 2 ago 1 reply      
>A group of private investigators hired by Dateline NBC located McDermott when they noticed a centralized cluster of IP addresses originating near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, all clicking onto a site dedicated to tracing his whereabouts.

Protip, use a VPN/Tor and incognito mode preferably on someone else's Wifi with a burner laptop you bought from Craigslist with cash while Googling your crimes. I've heard of murder/kidnapping suspects being found out this way as well.

... or really, just resist the urge to Google your crimes.

CarpetBench 3 ago 3 replies      
I found it hilarious the number of comments that are tirades about student loans and "personal responsibility," like it was even a significant part of the article.
FLGMwt 2 ago 3 replies      
From the headline and domain, I assumed this was about faking a death to stop LinkedIn emails.
devnull42 3 ago 1 reply      
THe DefCon talk on this two years ago was pretty good.


Video of this talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FdHq3WfJgs

mattcopp 2 ago 1 reply      
I've wanted to fake my death in Facebook for some time. A kind of blaze of glory.

It seems remarkably simple, all I needed to do is to get an obituary in a local paper, and fill in this form https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/234739086860192. How hard can that be right?

Unfortunately my wife put a stop to it soon as I told her.

digikata 31 ago 0 replies      
I recently listened to a fascinating Radiolab episode which is the interesting flip side of this. The episode was about a girl who couldn't prove she existed (from a legal standpoint).


jkot 3 ago 1 reply      
Is not it easier to move abroad? In many countries student loans are included in personal bankruptcy. And you get citizenship with passport after 5 years of residency.
Blackthorn 2 ago 0 replies      
I was going to link to Elizabeth Greenwood's fascinating book, then I clicked on the link and saw this was written by her! Fascinating subject from a great writer. There's a This American Life episode about it, where she talks about this. Very interesting stuff. I can't seem to find the episode or I'd link it :-(
biztos 3 ago 1 reply      
For most purposes, wouldn't it be easier to just go away somewhere and keep on being you, just with bad credit?
CM30 4 ago 2 replies      
The flowchart was amusing, though perhaps a little over the top with the choices. Jokes about murder and suicide seem like they clash with the more serious tone of the article a bit.

Seriously though, this sort of thing is about as bad an idea as pretending to be dying of cancer on Facebook/a personal blog, especially when the internet makes it very easy to expose liars.

rocket69 3 ago 0 replies      
Interesting how the flowchart and the article differ a fair bit.
squozzer 2 ago 1 reply      
It was among the least-expected articles I had ever read on LI, especially in light of LI's mission to promote "professional" networking.
lintiness 4 ago 1 reply      
linkedin has become something very weird.
ronjouch 3 ago 0 replies      
<meta> Interesting to see this upvoted to the top of HN. What does it say about us?</meta>
icantdrive55 3 ago 0 replies      
Why do I find sites that require login/signup hubristic? I guess because we have so many alternatives? Or, do I just dislike Linkedin?
Twitter: It is too late for it to become the giant people expected economist.com
88 points by noir-york  4 ago   107 comments top 32
dasil003 2 ago 10 replies      
There's something so sad to me about the general tech press attitude (let alone the Wall Street attitude) towards Twitter.

Twitter is forever judged by Facebook's bar, using Facebook's KPIs. Nevermind that the average high profile tweet is much more culturally significant than the averge high profile Facebook post. Heck most of Facebook isn't even original content, it's just really slick distribution for content from elsewhere.

Obviously Facebook has cracked engagement in a way that Twitter never has and never will. But, Twitter has cracked public discourse in a way that no other company has period. Think about it, all previous internet fora have imploded as they've grown large, or collapsed into micro-communities like sub-reddits. Twitter has definitely faced challenges with trolling and witch-hunts, etc, but by and large they've put together a super interesting product. The only problem is that it's not going to displace Facebook because it's a different thing that's not quite as big. This demand for growth is also why Twitter's management took their eye off the ball and failed to recognize and improve the core problems that hurt the product and community. It's just a really sad statement on modern business culture that Twitter isn't allowed to be considered a success as a medium-sized company that punches way above its weight among influencers.

brian-armstrong 36 ago 0 replies      
Twitter makes me think of a public good on the internet. It's fun to imagine it being funded by tax dollars instead of investment money, with no ads whatsoever and 1/20th of its staff size. The priorities would have to be different entirely, but I think it would be for the better.

Actually, I can imagine a few internet properties that might make more sense to be run like this. Some things just don't really make sense when you try to do them for profit.

rsp1984 12 ago 0 replies      
This is probably an unpopular opinion and for certain I lack the qualification to run a public company of about 4000 people and hence to make snarky comments on the internet.

However it's my common sense that tells me there's something going very wrong with Twitter: let's be honest, their product is a message server with a fancy website wrapped around it and an attached ad-business. There's absolutely NO WAY it takes 4000 employees to run this thing! For comparison Whatsapp had ~ 60 employees when it was bought by FB and Instagram had 13. And I'd venture to say that both of these companies had more data to manage than Twitter has now.

Because he is often working at Square, many managers arrive late, depart early and generally show up just to punch the time card, says one former senior executive who has sold all of his shares.

And my common sense tells me it's probably not just the managers but also about 90% of the engineers. I don't mean to be derogatory towards Twitter employees but I truly wonder what everybody at this company is doing all day. The product is not improving in any meaningful way. The few innovations that they launched were all acquired businesses.

Twitters quarterly expenses are now around 700 million. Let me make a very conservative estimate: It would probably not take more than 100 million per quarter to run the business (including their ad business). Likely much less. Their revenue is 600 million per quarter. If Twitter were a properly run company they could be making half a billion per quarter in profit which they could use to explore new business opportunities, products, or if there's a total lack of ideas, pay out to shareholders. I'd argue that any of these options would be a whole lot better than the status right now.

electic 2 ago 3 replies      
The problem with Twitter is that the demolished their developer ecosystem. The attacked the very developers and companies that taught people how to use Twitter and developed solutions that made it a viable use case. Without those myriad of solutions built upon it, Twitter is a very basic SMS broadcast medium. It has a sloppy unsegmented home feed full of noise and its mechanics are horrible so it does a poor job of burying hate.

With that in mind, the numbers show. The people that get it are on it. Most of the rest of us just see glimmers of it embedded in news articles. Sadly, it is too late to reverse this. Trust has been lost.

overcast 2 ago 4 replies      
I believe the problem with Twitter, as it's always been, is that it's just too polarizing. Either people get it, or they don't. It's not general enough, the mechanics of hash tags, nonsensical short messages, retweeting, the signal to noise ratio is horrible, coupled with an often confusing interface, don't allow for the second half of the adoption curve to ever happen. For such a simple mechanic, they make it difficult for a lot of people to just "get it".

I've got multiple accounts for various projects, my own personal account, and I still don't see the value in it for me personally.

rrggrr 2 ago 2 replies      
Maddening how incompetent Twitter is at strategic thought. They have arguably the most politically and civically important property on the internet but wish they were Facebook.

Twitter is a Bentley in a market that wrongly thinks it should be Honda. The value of a network is as much the value of its participants as it is size. There is nothing wrong with Twitter, quite the opposite

Twitter's key users are making, reporting and breaking news. The second and third order effects of this are enormous, far surpassing Facebook.

The perceived monetization "problem" is painfully and frustratingly easy to rectify if Twitter would simply embrace their role and stop trying to compete in the social media gutter.


chollida1 3 ago 3 replies      
Twitter is a really strange company.

I find so much value in it, mostly in the form of tweet deck with multiple columns giving me real time "news" on multiple different subjects/companies.

Yet, I don't pay for it and I can't see why anyone would pay for it. Advertising doesn't seem like a viable business model as I have yet to see any add that is of any value what so ever from the main site.

Can anyone make the case that within 2 years Twitter isn't owned by one of Google, Microsoft, or Facebook? With Steve Balmer's large investment Microsoft seems like the leader here.

Or one of the big media companies, though I like this idea less as I can't see them wanting to subsidies the company forever.

I mean what is Twitter's business model?

Can they really make a go of advertising?

I mean they've done prety well so far but IMHO I wouldn't be surprised that the ad money they've made so far is from people who feel like they need to advertise on Google and Facebook and Twitter. And once they get a few year of data to show which ads are actually helping, the twitter ad money is the first to be yanked.

Do the go the financial markets model and sell their data/firehose? Does that generate anywhere near the amount they'd need?

If/when the advertising dollars go away, what does Twitter do? Or is Twitter banking on being able to compete directly with Facebook and Google for ad dollars as an equal?

macandcheese 2 ago 0 replies      
Streaming live events with partnerships can be big for them. They streamed the NFL Thursday Night Football game last night and quality was impeccable (aside from my Bills getting the L). Much better experience IMO than Facebook's attempts at streaming sports.
agentgt 2 ago 1 reply      
I have always felt Twitter could do a better job doing recommendations. Sort of help me find things I like better. Not just content. I have really started to like Four Square automatically giving me tips when I walk into places. It seems like Twitter should know more about what I like/dislike perhaps even more than Facebook, Amazon, and Google considering I have actively told it so.

Going back to Four Square... Twitter also really doesn't leverage geo. Why the hell doesn't it show me tweets near me in real time? That would be pretty damn useful. It could be the event engine. I can't tell you how many times some body says to me "I have this great idea for startup that shows you cool things happening right near you" ... and yet twitter could have this now.

noir-york 2 ago 4 replies      
Real-world friends are the basis for your FBK graph, work colleagues are the basis for Linkedin. But Twitter? What's the community?

Regarding monetization: Twitter creates a lot of value - but its hard to monetize because the value is primarily positive externalities. News media benefits by publishing news on twitter, celebs reach their fans, politicians use it as a campaign tool. And Twitter makes very little from all this.

The irony: while telcos are fighting hard to avoid becoming commoditized dumb pipes; Twitter by design are a dumb pipe ferrying tweets.

talideon 3 ago 2 replies      
Any way to fix the title? The 'the' after 'for' looks like it ought to have come after 'become'.
tomkin 30 ago 0 replies      
Twitter lost me when they dumped on their ecosystem. The changes made to the platform in recent years are obvious grasp at straws rather than anything revolutionary. It's clear that investors have become Twitter's main concern to a point where even something like a paywall or subscription wouldn't surprise me.

Twitter does not need to have as many employees as it does, and has them solely to rise to some zero sum pissing match.

raverbashing 49 ago 1 reply      
OK, here goes.

Twitter was Great. Yes, with a captial G. In 2008/9 up until, let's say, 2012 (or even 14)?

It got a lot of early adopters, it got groups together on it (real groups, people that meet in real life), it was a medium of conversation.

It still has some important aspects, some discussions work great there.

But I think people moved onto other platforms and most (of the cool people) left.

Twitter (company) needs to go beyond Twitter (the product). Fb knows this better (while moving the product forward, but it's visible they're reaching a limit there as well)

Both Twitter products, Vine and Periscope offer an inferior experience to Instagram videos and Fb live. (Especially Vine. It seems as bad as a Java plugin)

zeveb 2 ago 0 replies      
I think the core problem is that Twitter should be a protocol, not a company. There's just no need for there to be any servers: users could send messages to one another, each running his own agents.

Since the Twitter experience doesn't need the Twitter corporation, there's always going to be friction and centrifugal force.

seanca 2 ago 1 reply      
Twitter is really only useful for following influencers, famous public figures, popular people, however you'd like to describe them. There isn't that much of a reason for a more normal user with a few hundred followers (maybe) to engage on it other than interact with more prominent users. Everything people go to Twitter for therefore can be done without having an actual account yourself; everything is public, so why have an account other than to curate a list of things prominent users say.

Which might not even be a bad model if you think about it. To have it be the premier "find out what they said" space, without the hoopla from idiots, trolls, etc. Would people pay to visit a site like that? I'm not sure. Would there be a way to monetize that sort of experience? I think so. Just my $0.02.

JonnieCache 2 ago 2 replies      
I've still never encountered a single person who posts to twitter except as part of their job or to promote themselves or one of their projects. Supposedly these people exist in their millions but I've no idea where they're hiding. Are they mostly schoolchildren?
spectrum1234 59 ago 1 reply      
Twitter's huge value is the ability to follow without needing a follow back (friend relationship).

However they need to find a way to offer both short and long form content while doing this. It's crazy they haven't tried anything else yet. Perhaps there is an opportunity for communities to form naturally as well but again they haven't given this any thought.

So many things they should be trying, its too bad. The concept is amazing but they are butchering it.

paulsutter 1 ago 0 replies      
Twitter is important, useful, and will never be as big a business as Facebook.

The problem is that they can't admit this and are pushing to be something they cannot be. Thats why they have so many product managers showing each other powerpoints, each of whose responsibilities are so small that no forward progress can be made.

Mendenhall 2 ago 0 replies      
It is interesting to me to hear how many say it doesnt have value to them. For me one aspect alone is worth it and that is real time news. It makes everything else look archiac.You can also scan a wide range of peoples opinions and find varied sources and angles fast.
daxfohl 1 ago 0 replies      
Same for Apple two decades ago. Yeah they never went anywhere.

Which spontaneously makes me think, maybe this CI stuff is the wrong way to go. Maybe a big-bang release every year where you can make a marketing statement "imagine if" "now you can" sort of thing.

evanjacobs 2 ago 0 replies      
I would have liked to see Twitter become the product that Slack is now for many people: great direct message and group message capabilities, fun interface, great API for enabling bot integration, etc.
johan_larson 2 ago 2 replies      
I don't get why the board OKed having a part-time CEO. It just seems like a bizarre thing to do. Was there really no credible candidate who was willing to run Twitter full time?
niftich 2 ago 0 replies      
Twitter, deep down, has the exact same problem as Blogger or Reddit or Livejournal or Tumblr. It's ultimately a community where people post text posts. This is notoriously hard to monetize. But it has another big problem that doesn't manifest as strongly in those platforms: the pressure of virality.

Twitter has managed to attract quite a number of VIPs, 'influencers' who draw followers to them and generate traffic and interest and engagement. These are your celebrities, your media personalities, industry and academia people who are very important in their fields -- people who either have a Wikipedia article, or a blog, or a Youtube channel. These are the people who buoy Twitter, so these are the people who were most likely to get a Verified mark. Being on Twitter allows you to feel close to them, like their posts, reblog them on your feed, so you can project to your friends that you like this person and feel an affinity to what they do. These influencers also provide a natural place for promoted content, which has so far been under-utilized.

But somehow, Twitter has been saddled with the misconception that anyone can be famous with just a single tweet -- it's true that this can happen because it happened multiple times before, but when people join with the expectation that this may be the case, everyone loses. Maybe it's in analogue with Instagram, where if you post a Really Attractive selfie or take an incredible photograph, you may indeed accumulate a bunch of likes; but this aspiration doesn't translate nearly as well to quick-reply threads branching off of some influencer's post, which is the only way for an average person to attain enough eyeballs to have a shot at their post going viral.

This creates an incentive structure where no one truly wins:

- Influencers have attract a lot of traffic, but a lot of it is people trying to be clever

- Low-activity people -- the long tail of Twitter -- are either unaware of what's going on, or are caught up in the post flurry

- The leftover group is people aggressively looking for their 15 minutes of fame

This also explains the myriad articles about people who "don't get Twitter" -- they join and expect to accumulate followers naturally, despite not being notable on their own right or offering exceptional content. Sorry, you've been misled. Twitter will amplify your social reach, but it won't create one for you.

calinet6 2 ago 0 replies      
Ok, points for the Economist's title 'Twitter in retweet.' That's some fine pun-crafting right there.

No comment on the service itself. I love it. It's one of the only methods of public one-to-many distributed communication that actually works well and stays relatively balanced (mainly due to the limitation on message length and size). I hope another service with a similar dynamic pops up in its place should it collapse.

thr0waway1239 1 ago 0 replies      
I love the title. Economist article titles are an endless source of word puns. Someone should start a thread just to post the best Economist titles.
simbalion 18 ago 0 replies      
First, the article is dumb, twitter is already a giant. Twitter is bigger in social media than facebook because it is open to the public, while facebook is a gated community.

Second, "the problem with twitter" as commentors have been saying, is that Twitter is a glorified instant messenger, and they have done everything wrong.

They're a giant corporation with too many employees. They have a huge overhead cost for servers and offices and electricity and so on. And their only product is social media, for free.

This is the era of ad-filtering. Substaining a company on advertising is a dead model, it will never work again. It's dying slower in some areas than in others, but rest assured it is dead. Furthermore, nobody using twitter wants to see ads. Users will aggressively persue means to eliminate ads from the "social" experience.

Twitter is the digital equivalent of opening a number of sports arenas and inviting everyone to come in to mingle, without ever charging admission fees. Eventually, the power bill and lease is going to shut them down.

This is a reality check. You cannot make money by giving things away for free. You can make money from free products, but you have to do things to monetize it, for example selling expert support for free software.

Commentors keep comparing Twitter to Facebook. Twitter and Facebook are exactly the same in one way, neither one makes any money from social media. Facebook is profitable because Facebook is not a social media product, it is a portal product that offers social media. Facebook makes money from selling "microtransaction" games, which are a huge ripoff, and using their enormous size to convince business owners that investing in advertising is somehow worthwhile. Again, nobody wants to see ads during their "social" time.

Social Media is not a business. Social media is a chat room with a slightly re-defined UX. You cannot make a profit from social media without charging admission. It is impossible.

In the post-advertising era the only way businesses will be successful is if they produce products or services of actual real-world value to their customers. Parasitic businesses, middle-men, advertisers, they are all going to die. And good riddance. Money should be earned by the creation of value, and nothing else.

tangue 2 ago 0 replies      
Reading all this, I miss Jaiku. Google miss social in the same was MS miss the Internet.
sjg007 2 ago 0 replies      
You want the global conversation to take place on Twitter. Tweets can run on an event, at an event, and when live streaming or restreaming an event.
randomsearch 2 ago 0 replies      
What is Twitter doing wrong? This is an interesting question.

Answers posted so far:

- it's polarizing... this may be true, but would simply mean a smaller market, not an existential risk.

- they demolished the dev ecosystem. I totally agree with this, and think it was dumb. They thought they were Facebook. But I don't think this fully explains why their core product isn't a big success.

- they don't have a strong enough business model. This is a bit of a tautology - we wouldn't be discussing it otherwise - but not having a strong business model does not explain why the core product doesn't _feel right_.

And that's the thing, you look at Facebook or Instagram and everyone "gets it". They may not _like_ it, but they understand what it's about.

But Twitter doesn't feel like that. It doesn't feel intuitive. It feels like a mess, like a lot of different use cases rolled into one big disorganised poorly designed app.

I read a bit about Twitter's history and my theory is that the problem stems right back to the beginning, when there was an argument amongst the founders about whether Twitter was for "micro-blogging" or for "news" (for some definition of what is newsworthy).

Both these seem like good ideas. We're all interested in our friends' opinions on various things, and what they're up to right now, and add to that the opinions and activities of people we choose to follow because we respect them and find what they say interesting, that sounds like a compelling product.

Likewise, keeping track of all the news on a variety of topics from many sources, hearing the news unfiltered from the actors involved, that is another very compelling product. Put me in direct contact with Elon Musk about what's happening at SpaceX, let me tweet Sam Altman to ask him something about YC. Cool.

It's interesting to consider that clearly selecting one of these use cases would solve many of Twitter's biggest problems. If you're following your friends and some famous people's microblogs, why not enforce real-world ID? If you're after the latest news, do you really need to be able to spam or message everyone? Both situations allow for a reduction in trolling and the negative behaviours that have made Twitter (as one unforgiving observer put it) "the cesspool of the internet".

Problem is Twitter doesn't set out to do either of these things, because it can't decide what it wants to be. So it has compromised and floundered with no clear vision. How can the employees work effectively if they don't know which way to row?

The solution for Twitter _would_ have been to split into multiple services/views/subsystems, or abandon the least interesting one to a sibling startup or a competitor. As Sam A puts it so brilliantly: "focus + intensity". Still time. Not much time.

startupflix 2 ago 1 reply      
Twitter is loosing users because of lack of innovation. They aren't adding necessary new features. Even the existing investors aren't happy.

What features should they introduce. any suggestion?

vegabook 40 ago 0 replies      
The Economist has a knack for getting on the case of sectors / companies whenever their price is at an extreme - and being wrong. It's actually a good contra-indicator, as we've seen with oil, shale, gold, more recently Deutsche bank, and now Twitter.
ComputerGuru 2 ago 1 reply      
There is a typo in the title that completely fried my neural circuits for a full 5 seconds or so.

> It is too late for the it to become giant people expected

Should obviously be "It is too late for it to become the giant people expected"

(Sidebar: I hope this isn't what it feels like to be dyslexic, it wasn't fun!)

The man behind the million dollar homepage 11 years later bbc.com
95 points by bartkappenburg  4 ago   53 comments top 14
DanHulton 1 ago 7 replies      
I always wondered how he got that site running in the first place. I had my own similar "dumb idea" that I created: http://www.ipaidthemost.com, but I have no idea how to get it out in front of people, even though folks tend to react well enough when I show it to them.
mtmail 4 ago 1 reply      
"Fast-forward 11 years and Tew is still doing things differently than most [...]. Today, he lives in San Francisco, [...] and is founder and CEO of start-up Calm, which offers a mobile app"

At least on HN this wouldn't be seen different at all.

Wikipedia retells the story of the million dollar homepage: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Million_Dollar_Homepage

bsharitt 1 ago 0 replies      
Only 11 years. It seems like it was older. I guess it seems like such an idea of the late 90's internet, I just associate it with that era.
seren 2 ago 10 replies      
I have been using Headspace and Calm.com. While the services are valuable, I have hard time justifying buying a subscription with a monthly cost for something that is basically some guided meditation mp3.

Compare buying a meditation book with a few guided meditation track for 20$, or subscribing to an app with a recurring cost of 70$/year, I don't really see the added value.

Can someone shed light on what I am missing ?

robbiemitchell 9 ago 0 replies      
This is a great PR play -- leverage the founder's origin story as a hook for the real point: promoting the app.
levelist_com 46 ago 0 replies      
The company I worked for at the time this site gained notoriety would field several calls a week from individuals and companies both wanting to have a clone of that site built thinking they would achieve the same level of success. About the same time I had an investment group contact me, via a close friend, to build them a Match.com clone, except their time frame was 3 months with a budget of $15k. I told them that they lost their damn mind. Didn't hear from them again. People are dumb!
fudged71 1 ago 0 replies      
I've always sort of been inspired by his project, and how powerful crowdsourcing can be.

We built a physical version of the million dollar homepage using 3D printing and crowdsourcing. A few thousand pieces were printed around the world and mailed to us for a crowdsourced sculpture: https://www.flickr.com/photos/printtopeer/sets/7215763613331...

whamlastxmas 17 ago 0 replies      
BBC uses an iStock image in their article, complete with watermark? Seriously?
edpichler 19 ago 0 replies      
Lesson learned: it's not the complexity of an idea that will make it valuable.
rconti 1 ago 0 replies      
Calm seems interesting, though not something I'd want to do with my phone (even though I get the appeal of it being everywhere). Wouldn't mind an AndroidTV app so I can do it at home, sitting on my carpeted floor, in the relative darkness, in front of a TV.. rather than squinting at a phone
sharemywin 2 ago 0 replies      
I remember reading the blog and thought it was cool how the story progressed.
sha256md5 4 ago 3 replies      
So pretty much a long winded advertisement for his company.
leejoramo 2 ago 2 replies      
Wonder how many of the links on this page are still active.
plg 1 ago 1 reply      
is the "lifetime" subscription just a hail-mary money-grab?
China launches second trial space station bbc.com
135 points by RyanMcGreal  6 ago   66 comments top 5
Tepix 4 ago 8 replies      
Interesting quote from the BBC article:

> If all this makes you worried about China's long-term cosmic ambitions, then you are not the only one.

I think it's dumb that China is not allowed to participate in the ISS.

quirkafleeg 5 ago 1 reply      
Obligatory nitpick:

> Yang Liwei became the first Chinese person to go to space

Should probably be the first Chinese national to go into space. The first ethnically Chinese person in space was Chinese-born Taylor Wang.

Interestingly, in a pub-quiz question kind of way, the first Chinese-born woman in space was... Shannon Lucid.

lucb1e 4 ago 0 replies      
> If all this makes you worried about China's long-term cosmic ambitions

Uh, as a non-American, not more than America's. Why should it?

crystalmeph 4 ago 6 replies      
The Chinese talk about maybe sending a man to the moon, and they've launched a couple of these space stations, but they've only done 5 crewed launches since 2003, and the last one was 3 years ago in 2013. It seems like China is doing the bare minimum to show that they have the capability, but doesn't actually have any real ambitions in this area.
JumpCrisscross 3 ago 2 replies      
> In August, the country launched the world's first quantum satellite, aimed at achieving "hack-proof" communications between space and ground control.

This is possible now?

R for Data Science had.co.nz
91 points by hadley  5 ago   39 comments top 6
hadley 4 ago 5 replies      
I'm the author, and I'm happy to answer any questions.

The book should be in print by (hopefully) the end of this year, or definitely by Jan 2017. The content will not change significantly, but there is will be minor fixes and a lot of proof reading.

Kevin_S 1 ago 4 replies      
Seems interesting. Quick question:

Some background on myself first. I am a financial consultant (only 1 year since graduating) and am planning to do a PhD in Accounting in the next 3 years. Currently working through the GMAT, but once that is complete, I will find myself with 2 or so years to do things that will help prepare me for research. One thing I have considered is taking a course/reading books on data science and such to prepare me for the advanced stats/data analysis that will go on during research. As someone with no coding experience, and with solid quant background (I was an economics undergrad), would this book be a good starting point for getting experience with this stuff? And is R the appropriate language to learn? I don't mind learning to code, but it is intimidating.


minimaxir 2 ago 0 replies      
R for Data Science is the canonical source for learning R and other real-world R tools such as dplyr/tidyr/ggplot2, and one I've recommended on HN submissions about R tutorials which simply go over primitative data types and out-of-date packages. (It's one of the reasons I've postponed making R tutorials myself, since the book would be better/more accurate in all circumstances.)
zzleeper 1 ago 1 reply      
Looks really nice. I'm a heavy Python/Stata user, but I'm seriously thinking about transitioning, given all the amazing work in the hadleyverse.

Also, RMarkdown looks incredibly well thought out

dreww2 1 ago 1 reply      
Hadley, can you share a bit more about your plans for modelr and what need(s) the package will be designed to solve? Congrats on your book btw, I've been reading it for a few weeks and it's quite simply excellent.
Rekushi 2 ago 2 replies      
What is the equivalent book for Python and data science?
Astronomers capture best view ever of disintegrating comet sciencebulletin.org
42 points by upen  5 ago   3 comments top 2
elchief 28 ago 0 replies      
So here's a small, low-res JPEG of it...wtf
M_Grey 2 ago 1 reply      
That was very interesting, and I only have one major question after reading it. The article states that it's believed the comet's spin is essentially flinging away chunks, but I'm not clear on the cause of the spinning. The article makes it sound like that starts to occur as it approaches the Sun, so is it a result of a jet of sublimating ice what started this spin, or was it intrinsic from the comet's early formation?

If it's the latter, why is it only starting to fragment now?

What can Albania teach us about trust? bbc.com
35 points by hwayern  3 ago   29 comments top 6
ardit33 25 ago 0 replies      
Albanian here. What the article omits, or misses is that most refugees during the Kosovo war were Albanians as well. Same language, same culture.

We had a large house and my parents hosted 7 people (two families), during that time. One of the families were actually long/distant cousins.

Now, this is not the same as hosting Syrians refugees. I think very few Albanian families are willing to host them in their own homes. Albania itself is a very tolerant country (religious wise), and we think of having a large amount of people coming from arab countries as a regress in the freedom and quality of life. They are a lot more conservative, and coming from a completely different culture.

I think few Albanians would want to put up with that. Very limited numbers yes, massive 100k+ numbers, no way.

SRSposter 2 ago 1 reply      
There is a pretty big difference between taking in the people of the same kin and people from another culture far far away.How many Serbian Kosovars did the Albanians give hospitality?
Twirrim 1 ago 0 replies      
I spent some time in Albania back maybe 15 years ago. It's an amazingly beautiful country, especially as you get away from Tirana. The people were open and welcoming, even in areas that are poor and desperate, whether that had anything to do with being seen as a rich westerner or not, I've no idea.

We were warned about besa before we went there, from the perspective of "You have to be very careful what you say", for example if you're a guest and you compliment the rug, there's a good chance they'll offer it to you and you'll have to take it or cause offense. I really dislike coffee, but offering "Albanian coffee" to guests (not too dissimilar to Turkish coffee) was a staple part of the culture. So I dutifully practised schooling my expression and drinking coffee, so that if the situation came up I could drink it without grimacing and even be appropriately positive.

cossatot 1 ago 4 replies      
Does anyone know how much 'besa' is related to (or derived from) the Islamic tradition of warm hospitality towards travelers?
f_allwein 2 ago 2 replies      
Doesn't open for UK readers: "We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service" yadda yadda. Pity.
jkot 2 ago 4 replies      
> Hundreds of Iranian refugees are currently residing within the country

It is not very good example. Greece took 600K refugees, Hungary similar numbers, etc...

Problem is that those countries do not offer any social benefits. Refugee needs at least 600 euro/month to feel welcomed. Albania is actually very unfriendly towards refugees.

String Theorys Strange Second Life quantamagazine.org
33 points by jonbaer  4 ago   9 comments top 4
arcanus 1 ago 2 replies      
Several big warning signs, if you read between the lines:

1) All the string people are saying they are applying strings to different fields. That means funding is drying up.

2) No new blood: they are quoting all the same people as 10 years ago. No breakthroughs since Maldacena, it sounds like.

subnaught 2 ago 2 replies      
A rather skeptical perspective on this article: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=8778
M_Grey 1 ago 0 replies      
Keep this in mind when you read the article:


"Really good science writers need to lie, cheat, and steal, said K. C. Cole in the first plenary of the workshop. She outlined 15 rules for writing in her talk, but focused most on the value of lying."

Koshkin 37 ago 0 replies      
This latest book by R. Penrose might be of interest to those looking for a serious analysis of what is happening to the theoretical physics research today: http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10664.html.
Uber's billion-dollar losses expose the fragile state of the on-demand economy qz.com
51 points by prostoalex  2 ago   61 comments top 13
zigzigzag 1 ago 11 replies      
Uber is an example of what happens when central banks attempt to 'stimulate' the economy through misguided central planning. By forcing down interest rates and essentially moving spending from the future into the present, they're stimulating investment in general. But what they forget (or more likely, choose to ignore) is that investments can be just bad investments.

Uber is a bad investment. There is no barrier to entry in ride sharing. Drivers can install multiple hailing apps. Riders can too. Building a real time ridesharing engine is not hard - I did it once as a prototype years ago but it was unfortunately in the pre-smartphone era and you had to find ride matches using your regular computer.

So central banks print money in order to buy up safe investments. That forces institutional investors to pour their money into risky investments like venture capital firms. VC firms look around at a field with slim pickings but that torrent of money has to go somewhere, so it ends up being used to fight vast unsustainable price wars. And in the end people's savings that they will depend on in retirement don't end up invested in productive assets that'll yield ROI into the future .... their money ends up subsidising a 10 minute taxi ride and being lost forever.

The people who run Uber may feel that they 'have' to do this otherwise their competitors would do so instead, but that just reinforces how hopeless the situation is: they know perfectly well that their main competitive advantage is illusory, or at best, is merely a result of better access to capital flows. All it'll take is a sustained set of interest rate hikes and the end of QE, and suddenly Uber will have to charge the real underlying market rates. How will it end?

Pharylon 1 ago 6 replies      
Why does Uber keep keep getting called a "ride share" service? Passengers don't share the ride with other customers. The driver wasn't already going in that direction. It's just a simple transaction. I'm paying X dollars to someone to drive me to Y place. It's a cab with an app.

Uber is "ride sharing" like hiring a carpenter is "hammer sharing."

allendoerfer 1 ago 1 reply      
Or it just exposes Uber's strategy to throw money at the problem to capture the market first and solve details like legality or profitibility later. Which is kind of what you have to do when you have billions lying around and investors that expect you to multiply them.
parfe 1 ago 1 reply      
Uber's insane valuation hinges on growing from a cab service into a Dominoes competitor? A Peapod competitor? A Zipcar competitor? An Amazon competitor? All of them? It just seems so improbable that one company would capture every single market segment that falls under "Cell phone app to get things in near-real time"
aitn 3 ago 0 replies      
A huge subsidy is the illusion drivers have of making more per hour as they extract equity from their vehicle. After about six months the reality of vehicle costs sets in but Uber can refresh with new drivers. Stupid newbie drivers will be depleted from market in a few years.
endswapper 2 ago 1 reply      
The post has a misleading headline.

It doesn't expose anything and mostly just whines about Uber's valuation.

If anything it underscores the challenges of disruption and the fluid nature of the on-demand services.

It may even be a case for opportunity in the space because this seems to indicate that people want it, but no one has gotten it right, yet.

I don't know if this is a conclusion or an indictment, "Its increasingly obvious that Ubers $69 billion valuation makes sense only in a world where its the only player in townwith workers who are either squeezed or replaced with robots." Either way, it's silly.

mark_l_watson 1 ago 1 reply      
I am reading the book "The Sharing Platform" right now and it has a lot of discussion of Uber. I have mixed feelings about Uber's business model: as an occasional user when I travel to large cities I think that Uber provides a great service inexpensively; as a business model, I find it disturbing that heavy investment is used to temporarily keep prices low. I suppose it is common to 'buy into a market' but in Uber's and some other platform companys' cases I think it is getting to extreme.
apatters 1 ago 1 reply      
I think Uber's future hinges on two things:

1. Whether they figure out how to cut costs with driverless automation

2. If not, how many people will keep using them when fiscal discipline is inevitably imposed and prices go up.

They are in a tough spot. Without driverless cars they are a commodity service in a market with low barriers to entry. But no one has yet pulled off the type of driverless they need - no actual human in the car who needs to get paid.

M_Grey 1 ago 1 reply      
I wonder if they just thought that when they had enough market share, they could pressure regulators into folding? That seems so shortsighted and unlikely though, I find it hard to credit the idea. I'm not sure what the alternative explanation is though.
Animats 1 ago 0 replies      
From the article: "The company is primarily engaged in buying a monopoly to justify its status as the highest valued start-up on the market."

That's it in one line.

elmar 1 ago 0 replies      
And when there is a swift to driveless cars the business model economics is totally diferent, Uber will have to spend billions on a fleet, drivers costs will be replaced by fleet costs.
zxcvvcxz 31 ago 0 replies      
Don't people see that this is analogous to China's steel dumping?


Lower your prices, dump your product, try to bankrupt the competition, then as sole market leader raise your prices.

readhn 1 ago 1 reply      
RIP Uber. 8/29/2016.

posted by readhn 16 days ago on: Google Takes on Uber with New Ride-Share Service

EU Court: Open WiFi Operator Not Liable for Pirate Users torrentfreak.com
127 points by chewymouse  5 ago   17 comments top 2
zaroth 3 ago 4 replies      
So you can offer free internet access at your business in order to attract customers (e.g. Starbucks or McDonalds);

 The Court holds, first of all, that making a Wi-Fi network available to the general public free of charge in order to draw the attention of potential customers to the goods and services of a shop constitutes an information society service under the directive on [electronic commerce], the decision reads.
However copyright holders can still obtain an injunction forcing the provider to institute some measure of access control which must collect the identities of end-users to provide a deterrent. TFA does not mention any requirements on retention or access to this tracking data.

 "The Court nevertheless underlines that, in order to ensure that deterrent effect, it is necessary to require users to reveal their identity to be prevented from acting anonymously before obtaining the required password, the ruling adds.
So in essence they want to treat open WiFi APs as a type of mini-ISP. I'd say this is extremely problematic.

If you have to disclose your identity in order to use free WiFi it pretty much kills free WiFi. The court seemed to understand that terminating the service was not an appropriate remedy, but then proceeded to shoot it in the back.

bluesign 3 ago 1 reply      
I suspect this logic can also apply to tor exit nodes, which is more troublesome.
Some questions about Docker and rkt jvns.ca
159 points by deafcalculus  12 ago   65 comments top 15
felixgallo 3 ago 2 replies      
Julia writes: "I think "violates a lot of normal Unix assumptions about what normally happens to normal processes" is basically the whole story about containers."

This is a key point. Lots and lots of standard Unix invariants are violated in the name of abstraction and simplification, and the list of those violations is not popularized; and most of the current systems have different lists.

For example, in Kubernetes (my current love affair), the current idea of PetSets (basically, containers that you want to be carefully pampered, like paxos members, database masters, etc. -- stuff that needs care) /still/ has the notion that a netsplit can cause the orchestrator to create (1 .. #-of-nodes) exact doppelgangers of your container, all of which believe they are the one true master. You can imagine what this means for database masters and paxos members, and that is going to be, as the kids say, surprising af to the first enterprise oracle db admin who encounters this situation.

If you believe in containers, then one thing that you really do have to get to, is that most of your existing apps should not be in them yet, and that if your app is not (a) stateless (b) strongly 12-factor (c) designed for your orchestrator and (d) written not to do things like fork() or keep strong references to IP addresses, then you should probably wait 3-4 years and use VMs in the meantime.

justincormack 8 ago 1 reply      
In terms of the daemon model of Docker, I guess it does look a bit complicated, and is not explained very well.

In production you will do docker run -d nginx, not run it in the foreground, so the client (docker) process is not really in the picture - if you run in the foreground it is just there to stream the standard IO, and so you can kill the process with ^C from the shell.

The docker daemon (dockerd) is there to listen for new requests, but since 1.11 it no longer runs containers. Since 1.12 you can restart it without killing your containers (with the right config option) see https://docs.docker.com/engine/admin/live-restore/so you can eg do a daemon upgrade without downtime. It is still handling some things, eg logs, so it is best if it does restart.

The process that actually runs containers is containerd. This is a very simple daemon with a grpc socket interface. That uses runc (the OCI standard runner) but that does not stay running, only a small process called containerd-shim does, which is there to act as a parent for the actual container process, so that containerd can be restarted.

You can use containerd as a runtime, with runc containers, but runc is not that user friendly. You can use https://github.com/jfrazelle/riddler to get something you can run from a docker container. You could also use runc from systemd if you want. However runc doesnt do a lot of setup, eg the layered filesystem handling is all part of how dockerd sets things up for runc, so you would have to do that yourself if you dont want to waste a lot of disk space.

It does sound a bit complicated, but it is just separation of concerns and breaking up the once monolithic docker binary into a client and a set of servers that all do smaller tasks and which can be restarted independently.

drdaeman 4 ago 1 reply      
It seems that isolation is frequently the cause. E.g.:

* Better developer environment. Actually, I'm not sure anymore. It totally makes sense for testing (all the CI/CD stuff), and - thanks to the packaging aspect - it's easy to set up external dependencies (like databases), but I just wasn't able to grasp how the actual development is better with Docker. Developers tinker with stuff, containers and images are all about isolation and immutability, and those stand in one's way.

* PID1. Obviously, isolation is the cause for this. With `--pid=host` it's gone, but no one does that, probably because of nearly complete lack of UID/GID management, thus the security drawbacks. I guess, it has roots in "all hosts are the same" idea, as UID/GID have to be a shared resource and they're harder to manage than just spawning things into a new PID namespace so processes won't mess with each other.

* Networking. Yes, as it was pointed out, it makes sense due to port conflicts, but usually it's inferior over-complicated version of moving port numbers to environment variables. Instead of binding your httpd to [::]:80 and setting up port mapping, bind it to [::]:${LISTEN_PORT:-80}. All the same stuff, but - IMHO - much more straightforward. Sure, there are (somewhat unusual) cases where separate network namespace is a necessity (or just a good thing), but I don't think they're any common.

So, I think, the question is also: is there (and why) the need for isolation in a way Docker does it? Doesn't the way it does unnecessarily complicate things?

gnufied 5 ago 2 replies      
I will try and answer networking question.

At scale a single host can be running may be 20 containers and port collision becomes a real problem. So imagine if a container opened a port directly on host -we have to be careful that they don't step on each other toes.

Even if all containers used some sort of contract about which port they are going to use - there are all sort of corner cases waiting to happen such as ephemeral ports(the port you bind to when you connect externally) taking over a port taken by real server app.

I have seen two approaches being used to solve this problem:

1. Using Smartstack (http://nerds.airbnb.com/smartstack-service-discovery-cloud/) the applications running inside container can runon any port but the port on which they are externally available is decided by orchestration service. Typically, no one talks to applicationinside container directly but they go through the haproxy configured on localhost. The advantage is - smartstack can remove a service if itis failing healthcheck etc.

2. The kubernetes/openshift approach of Software defined networking(https://github.com/coreos/flannel). Although they also integrate with load balancers, so that is not the only way.

I know if someone is just getting started with containers, it seems bit overwhelming to digest all this. But having worked in some largecompanies which are using containers at scale, it kinda makes sense.

dsr_ 6 ago 3 replies      
"Installing stuff on computers so you can run your program on them really sucks. It's easy to get wrong! It's scary when you make changes! Even if you use Puppet or Chef or something to install the stuff on the computers, it sucks."

I think a lot of people feel this way. I think that fear is born of ignorance, and we should fix that.

Let's say you are working on an application in NewPopularLanguage 2.3.1, using CoolFramework version 3.3. Your Linux distro ships NPL 2.1.7 and CF2.8, which don't support a really nifty feature that you would like to have.

Important questions to ask: what is the distro's support record? Do they have a dedicated security team? Is there significant support for NPL and CF in the distro, or just a single package maintainer?

If the distro's security and NPL packaging team are good, you might want to use their versions even if it means giving up use of the really nifty feature until sometime in the unknowable future. Making an explicit, considered decision is worthwhile.

But if you really need the new versions, you should use a repeatable build system that generates OS packages exactly the way you want them. You should put them into a local repo so that when you install or upgrade a new machine, you get the version you specify, not whatever has just hit trunk upstream. And you may want your versions to be placed in a non-(system)-standard location, so that your application has to specify the path -- but be guaranteed that you can install several versions in parallel, and use the right one.

It feels like a lot of overhead, but it can save you lots of debugging and deployment time. Once you have the infrastructure tools in place, using them is not much of a burden, and pays for itself many times over.

lima 7 ago 1 reply      
Another issue with Docker: it does not interact well with process supervision (say systemd). The "docker run" process that you run with systemd is only a proxy for the real container process, which is started by the Docker daemon - so in reality, you have two init systems, Docker _and_ systemd. This means that many supervision features won't work (signals, seccomp, cgroups...).

rkt fixes this by not having a global daemon.

The linked article puts it well:


lliamander 1 ago 0 replies      
> My coworker told me a very surprising thing about containers. If you run just one process in a container, then it apparently gets PID 1?

That's true for Docker (and possibly rkt, I don't know) but not for LXC. Docker is intended to provide isolation for a single service/app, so having an init process (arguably) doesn't make sense. For LXC, it's more like a separate OS, so it does need an init process.

These two operating models are referred two as "application containers" and "system containers". It seems that the former is more popular for service deployment situations, but if you want a virtual dev environment / sandbox to play in, I would think the latter is a better choice.

a4dev 9 ago 0 replies      
I think these are good questions and I am interested in the answers. At least some of the answers are not obvious or not generally agreed by the experts, it seems.
theptip 8 ago 0 replies      
Here's my take on these questions:

1) packaging: this is the feature that's easiest to see benefits from. Having a single artifact that can be run on your CI infrastructure, development machine, and production environment is a massive win.

2) scheduling: there are big cost savings to be had by packing your application processes more efficiently onto your infrastructure. This might not be a big deal if you're a startup, and you haven't yet hit scale.

3) dev environment: It's powerful to be able to run exactly what's been deployed to prod, on your local machine. I've not found developing in a container to be great though; I still use the Django local dev server for fast code-loading. (It's possible to mount your working directory into your built container; this is just personal taste).

4) security: containers are not as robust a security boundary as hypervisors, so they are less suitable for multi-tenant architectures. The most common use-case is to run your containers in a VM, so this isn't necessarily a problem. As an additional defense-in-depth perimeter, containers are great.

5) networking: think of network namespaces as a completely isolated network stack for each container. You can run your containers in the host namespace using `--net=host`, but this is insecure [1]. Using host networking can be useful for development though. In general the port forwarding machinery allows your orchestrator to deploy multiple copies of the same container next to each other, without the deployed apps having to know about other container's port allocations. This makes it easier to pack your containers densely. (More concretely, your app just needs to listen on port 8000, even if Kubernetes is remapping one copy of it to 33112, and another copy to 33111 on the host).

6) secrets: containers force you to be more rigorous with your handling of secrets, but most of the best practices have been established for some time [2]. The general paradigm is to mount your keys/secrets as files, and consume them in the container; Kubernetes makes this easy with their "Secrets" API. You can also map secret values into env variables if you prefer.

7) container images: the Dockerfile magic is a pretty big win for building artifacts; the build process caches layers that haven't changed, which can make builds very fast when you're just updating code (leaving OS deps untouched). Having written and optimized a build pipeline that produced VMDK images, and experiencing the pain of cloning and caching those artifacts, I can attest that this a very nice 80/20 solution out of the box.

[1]: https://github.com/docker/docker/issues/14767[2]: https://12factor.net/

kraftman 5 ago 0 replies      
Maybe Docker networking gets more complicated later on but for what I do with it I find it pretty easy and useful. Docker compose makes it pretty simple to control which ports get exposed on the host and which are limited the the docker network.
shriphani 9 ago 7 replies      
While this thread has visibility, I am curious about your typical security model with docker.

From my experience, whoever is running docker seems to be able to run root commands on the host [1].

So any best practices for running docker ?

[1] http://reventlov.com/advisories/using-the-docker-command-to-...

artellectual 4 ago 0 replies      
So I had mostly the same questions you did. I went on a journey and made videos about it. Check it out here https://www.codemy.net/channels/docker-for-developers
Gorgor 6 ago 3 replies      
So how do you handle what she addressed under secrets? How do you share passwords between containers? For quick and dirty stuff, I use environment variables that are set in my docker-compose file, but I have no experience running docker in production.
moondev 4 ago 1 reply      
Kubernetes is the answer to all of your questions.

You shouldn't directly use "docker run" in production. At least not yet.

Think of the docker binary and daemon as development tools not a production platform.

Develop your apps one process per container, microservice style. If you can't do that you should probably use vms.

When it comes time to deploy, kubernetes handles scheduling for you automatically across your fleet.

Kubernetes secrets can be mounted inside the containers so you don't leak them like you can with env vars.

Kubernetes will eventually support other runtimes like rkt. But this abstracted away.

Kubernetes assumes a flat networking space, but this is taken care of with stuff like flannel.

You should probobly use Dockerfiles to create containers in your build process. Packer can create them but I would only reccomend that way if you have other tooling that does that. Spinnaker can leverage that bake-centric stuff very nicely.

mtrycz 10 ago 5 replies      
While the info is kinda useful, the writing style reminds me of Stan, the salesman of Monkey Island.
How to take a picture of the Milky Way covingtoninnovations.com
32 points by breck  5 ago   15 comments top 9
jonknee 1 ago 1 reply      
I have had some decent success with the Milky Way this year and while this article is decent, here are a few more tips:

1) Use an app to find where the galactic core will be at what time. This is harder than it sounds because ideally you want to compose an image with something interesting in the foreground (a mountain, rock formation, building, etc). Poor timing, but peak season has already passed this year in the Northern Hemisphere--it's a Summer pursuit. I use Sun Surveyor, but there are lots of apps that do this.

2) Focus is extremely critical and very hard to do after it's dark. I set the focus manually before sunset using a distant object and then use gaffer's tape on my lens so that I don't accidently bump it later. There is nothing worse than coming home to a bunch of slightly blurry stars. Do not trust "infinity" on your lens, it's not accurate!

3) Use the rule of 400 to decide on maximum exposure time. Divide 400 by the length of your lens to get max seconds (e.g. 400/24 = 16.66s for a 24mm lens). Some people use 500, but either way you get a nice ballpark. More time than this and you will get star trails. Neat if that is what you want, awful if you want a nice shot of the Milky Way. This rule assumes a full frame sensor, so if you have a crop sensor remember to adjust (a 24mm lens on Micro Four Thirds would be 48mm for this calc).

A couple of my shots from this year:



sakopov 1 ago 0 replies      
A couple of links i want to throw out for those who are interested in locating and shooting the Milky Way.

Check out Clear Dark Sky for star-gazing forecasts [1] and download Sky Walk on your phone for locating the Milky Way (along with just about anything else you're looking for) [2].

For those of you guys near Denver area check out Last Chance, Colorado for some VERY dark night skies.

Here is how i shoot with DSLR...

1. Get a sturdy tripod.

2. Get a remote-release (preferably with timer) to avoid any vibrations during exposure. They're typically around $20.

3. Shoot on the lowest f-stop you lens supports. I shoot with f/2.8.

4. Zoom all the way out.

5. Set the focus on manual & focus your lens on infinity. You'll typically see the infinity symbol on the lens. If you don't have one, just rotate the focus ring all the way until it doesn't move and then typically just a notch back (2-3 millimeters). I find that that usually works. Some folks do this before they get out at night to shoot. You just have to be extra careful and not touch the lens or make a mark on the lens so that you can always set it back.

6. Set your ISO to anywhere from 400-800.

7. Cover the eye-piece.

8. Start shooting! Your exposure time is probably going to be somewhere between 10-20 seconds to get a crystal clear shot. So this is where you experiment with ISOs and exposure times. This will all depend on how dark your dark spot is :)

Shooting the night sky is fairly trivial. Finding a good spot is incredibly difficult.

I don't do a lot of Milky Way stuff since it's such a pain to find a good spot, but i do all night time stuff pretty much the same way [3]

[1] http://www.cleardarksky.com/csk/

[2] http://vitotechnology.com/star-walk-2-guide-sky-night-day.ht...

[3] https://www.flickr.com/photos/sergeyakopov/27003195396/in/da...

rbritton 46 ago 0 replies      
I've found this pretty useful in finding the best locations to do astrophotography: https://djlorenz.github.io/astronomy/lp2006/overlay/dark.htm...

You can use the same general approach for Aurora photos if the solar activity is high enough for your location too.

My favorites:




paulmd 1 ago 0 replies      
The real trick is to shoot from a location with low light-pollution. Urban and suburban areas are incredibly polluted and equipment can't fix a view that just isn't there. In dark-sky areas, the Milky Way is easily visible to the naked eye.

The red Hoya Intensifier filter helps somewhat - it cuts out the spectrum that is emitted by sodium-vapor lamps commonly used for street lighting. It's not perfect but it helps.

You either need to use a fast enough shutter speed that you won't get star traces from the Earth's rotation, or get a tracking mount that can follow the rotation.

High ISOs (high sensor sensitivity) are really helpful for keeping the shutter speeds down. Modern cameras have made huge progress on high-ISO performance with good noise levels. The Sony A7S is particularly good.

For Milky Way photography you will want a fast wide-angle lens. Astrophotography is considered one of the most challenging tasks for a lens because you'll be shooting near wide open. Modern computer-aided-design lenses with exotic glass and aspheric surfaces significantly outperform older lenses. I am a big fan of Samyang's lineup, their lenses are top-notch for reasonable prices.

patrickdavey 3 ago 0 replies      
Come to the next Railscamp in New Zealand (march ish). This picture: [0] was taken there the last time we had it. Killer skies in the Southern Hemisphere ;)

[0]: https://www.flickr.com/photos/malclocke/13055571855/in/album...

Yhippa 2 ago 1 reply      
This is one of my favorite hobbies when I get to a spot with lower light pollution than I'm used to. If it helps you can use tools like Google Sky Map to see where the sun is relative to where you're aiming. I am cheap so I ended up getting a Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for my DSLR. No autofocus but you'll be shooting at infinity anyway.

For inspiration check out https://www.reddit.com/r/astrophotography. A lot of the people who post will share the tricks of their trade and there are some awfully impressive shots I've seen.

Edit: The reddit sub also has a list of public data for you to try your post-processing skills on: https://www.reddit.com/r/astrophotography/comments/2urd0p/ra....

pawelwentpawel 2 ago 1 reply      
Perfect timing! I was post processing my some of my night photography pictures recently. Maybe a silly question (I'm definitely not an astronomy pro) but, is that the milky way I got on my pic here? - https://www.instagram.com/p/BKWqWHZAQps/
pwarner 2 ago 0 replies      
If you have a reasonable camera and tripod you need to try this. I caught comet Lovejoy: a dozen green pixels out of 16 million.... But I caught it, without any experience or too fancy a setup. Also fun, point at the darkest, emptiest spot of sky and be amazed at all the stars you see in the photo. Rather fun.
Jack000 1 ago 1 reply      
I always thought this would be a great application of computational photography. Take a bunch of shots, segment stars/foreground with optical flow, then stack with no star trails.
Show HN: dingo - a Google DNS-over-HTTPS caching proxy in Go github.com
27 points by pjf  4 ago   7 comments top 3
vemv 0 ago 0 replies      
What problem does this project solve?

It's not immediately obvious what the thing does from the description.

wyattjoh 1 ago 1 reply      
The use of `go run` here makes adopting this very hard. The benefit of using Go for projects (in my experience) is that you can build for multiple OS/Arch super, super easy. I'd thin that having uploaded artefacts would be the first thing most people do when releasing Go code into the wild that is meant to be consumed by someone just wanting to run the program.
allendoerfer 1 ago 1 reply      
Encryption is nice, but does it have to be the overhead of HTTP? What would be a sensible alternative protocol?
Room 641A wikipedia.org
42 points by mimsee  1 ago   2 comments top 2
niij 26 ago 0 replies      
>On August 15, 2007, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was dismissed on December 29, 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity by Congress for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government.
RKearney 51 ago 0 replies      
Previous discussion from 1195 days ago:


Microsoft is using Minecraft to vie for kids brain space and schools dollars backchannel.com
66 points by steven  3 ago   66 comments top 14
vblord 2 ago 2 replies      
My son has done many Minecraft programming courses. He even did a Minecraft programming summer camp. If it wasn't with Minecraft, he wouldn't have done it. I think bringing Minecraft in to the schools to teach development is the right move. I wish all schools would embrace that. It would get the kids excited to learn... unlike... well... everything else besides gym, lunch, and recess.

From programming aspect, Minecraft makes perfect sense. From a math/geometry perspective, I'd have to see it to believe it. But one thing is for sure... the kids will line up to take that class.

Haul4ss 2 ago 6 replies      
When Apple makes an iPad app to teach kids a programming language useful only in the Apple ecosystem, they're promoting STEM education.

When Microsoft leverages a massively popular game to promote STEM education, they're weaponizing.

asimuvPR 28 ago 0 replies      
Disclaimer: My day job is in edtech.

Minecraft has shown to be a good tool to teach students about different topics. During this years ISTE convention, I talked with a lot of teachers who used Minecraft as a teaching aide. To the point of using Minecraft graphics on their worksheets. I saw a math worksheet where instead of counting apples the student would count creeper heads. The teacher said the student engagement raised after using the Minecraft graphics. Ultimately it is a great tool. MS will find ways to make money off of that. But there is much worse software out there's being sold everyday to naive school boards. Software that does not help teachers engage students in the way Minecraft does. You will not believe how awful most edtech software is.

thr0waway1239 2 ago 2 replies      
Considering Chromebooks barely entered the market only about 4 years back.

"In 2015, Chromebooks topped 50 percent of personal computer sales in the U.S. K-12 education market for the first time, with Windows PCs trailing at 22 percent, according to a Futuresource Consulting report."

And looking at the chart in the report [1] is even stranger - Chromebooks have basically gone from 16% of yearly device sales to 50% of yearly device sales [2] in exactly two years. Does anyone else finds the numbers a little hard to believe? Don't the schools have any costs in migrating their systems to support Chromebooks?

[1] http://www.futuresource-consulting.com/2016-03-K-12-Educatio...


Based on csharp's comment, changed wording from market to yearly device sales. [2] (For K-12)

jaxomlotus 2 ago 1 reply      
What a dumb and misleading headline. "Weaponizes?"
inputcoffee 2 ago 5 replies      
Has anyone here programmed minecraft? Can you report to the rest of us how the following compare as learning experiences:

1. Minecraft

2. Swift Playground

3. Commodore 64 or other old basic

4. Game Salad, or Game Maker,

5. Just learning Javascript in the browser

I know #2 is my favorite experience, but I think #5 is the most useful now. Just wondering if anyone has played around with minecraft to compare.

If I had to teach a kid:#2 > #5 > #3 > can't speak for the others

qwertyuiop924 1 ago 0 replies      
Weaponize? That's just wrong. Minecraft, retroactively dubbed Minecraft Java Edition, is totally cross platform. So, how does this new product help MS dominate education?

Answer: it doesn't. It's like arguing that Brderbund (I hope I spelled that right) weaponized Zoombinis to take over the education market.

cwyers 2 ago 0 replies      
I don't think I'd have the job or career I have today if not for a fascination with tinkering with Doom mods back in high school. My daughter is obsessed with Minecraft and if Microsoft can "weaponize" that into something other than her watching incredibly annoying YouTube videos I'd be freaking thrilled.
orf 2 ago 0 replies      
Games like this are the best way to teach programming. I first started by programming Counter Strike Source mods using EventScripts that let you write mods in Python. That changed my life.

Small 2D games are cool to look at and kind of fun, but nothing is better than taking a game you already love and scripting it. Far better than making a tortoise walk across the screen, it's more engrossing and rewarding and it becomes sort of a game in itself. You want to make your UZI shoot bananas? Figure out what that weird error is and you can.

Kudos to Microsoft.

ramblenode 1 ago 2 replies      
Where is the research and what are the arguments that support Minecraft's educational utility? I haven't devoted a great deal of time to seeking them out, but so far I haven't found very convincing literature. Don't get me wrong, it seems like a great creative outlet, but why should a school prefer this over alternatives like music, art, or writing? I've seen a number of references to Minecraft's ability to simulate circuits and create logic gates, but how is this better than another logic board simulator or cheap electronics? For as many interesting lessons as Minecraft offers, the video game aspect of it necessitates a lot of "grinding" and virtual physical labor that doesn't seem particularly enriching. There is real intellectual meat buried within, but to this outsider it looks like "mostly entertainment" rather than "educational and entertaining".
bobbylox 2 ago 0 replies      
As someone making an educational game to teach programming ( http://codemancergame.com ) I say the more the merrier! A rising tide lifts all boats.
byron_fast 1 ago 0 replies      
Slowest weaponization ever. If they'd just let modders make money, they would have already stolen legions of devs from iOS.
ccvannorman 2 ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to see the term "weaponized" used with education -- I feel like we've (somewhat) done that for math with supermathworld.com. It's great to see education moving in this direction!
rocky1138 2 ago 1 reply      
If you're a developer looking to fight this, I'd suggest taking a look at Minetest, which started out as a fully libre open-source clone of Minecraft but has really grown into its own project in its own right.

The core engine is C++ and mods are programmed using Lua.


Tesla Wins Contract to Help Power the California Grid bloomberg.com
464 points by adventured  16 ago   182 comments top 26
toomuchtodo 16 ago 4 replies      
I think its important to note, for those who complain Tesla can't compete against pumped storage or other utility scale storage methods, that Tesla is able to have this deployed in 3 months (this is partly because Tesla can just drop racks of batteries on site and be up and running, and partly because of the regulatory environment after the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage complex leak fiasco).

Edit: This will replace the need for peaker plants first (generators of last resort, very expensive, only run a handful of hours a year), and as the cost drops, will slowly push out base load coal and natural gas (by increasing the capacity factor of solar and wind). "Batteries are the new peaker plants", as it were. [1] [2] [3]

This is what it looks like when batteries are used to offset fossil fuel generators (instead of curtailing excess wind and solar, it'll be soaked up by utility batteries such as these). Frequently, depending on renewables output, the spot of price of power can go negative. This means someone gets paid to use that power. This is where utility scale battery storage shines, as its happy to gobble up that power, being paid to do so, and can later be paid to release that power when demand is high.

Edit 2: If Tesla can book this revenue in Q3, combined with their vehicle sales push, they're going to be GAAP profitable for the quarter, which will allow them to close the Solar City acquisition. Well played.

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

[2] http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/dueling-charts-o...

[3] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-22/batteries-...

mirekrusin 5 ago 1 reply      
So California gets big rechargeable batteries, interesting.

Does it mean Solar City (pending acquisition by Tesla) will speed up building Gigafactory and that's how Tesla will deliver it?

And does it mean that the market was wrong with recent Solar City stock drop?

I'm assuming this is just a "pilot" and, if executed happily, can keep doubling capacity every x months, driving battery prices down, leveraging it as an further advantage over fossil alternatives.

I'm assuming I'm completely wrong because I don't see any spikes in Solar City stock prices?

ps. Bit off-topic but when opening this article I've decided to disable adblock for bloomberg, just because they made bucklescript :P

1024core 15 ago 7 replies      
> Tesla's contribution is enough to power about 2,500 homes for a full day

This is < 0.1% of the total number of homes in SoCal, just to put it in perspective.

ChuckMcM 15 ago 3 replies      
One of the things I wish I could buy would be a Bloom Energy 2kW natural gas fuel cell and a 50kWh LiON battery pack with whole house inverter.

The nice thing about the Bloom fuel cells is very efficient conversion of natural gas to electricity, the weakness is that it's response time is long (an hour or more to change its output by 50%). The nice thing about LiOn battery packs like the ones in Tesla cars are that they respond instantly to various power demands, can deliver massive amounts of power in a short period of time, and recharge again and again.

This combination would let me supply all of my house power under all circumstances using nothing but natural gas. That would take my house completely off the grid infrastructure for PG&E (although I would still be a gas customer).

C'mon Elon, make it possible! :-)

foota 14 ago 1 reply      
There was a really neat class I took in college on the economics of elctricity markets, and one of the things you discuss is base vs peak power generating plants (as discussed other places in this thread) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacity_factor seems to be a nice introduction to the idea.
KamiCrit 13 ago 4 replies      
I love Tesla and Elon Musk as much as the next person.

But isn't it a little crazy how much Elon is betting on 18650 lithium ion batteries.

I really hope I'm mistaken and they have a homemade battery package made up.

h4nkoslo 15 ago 5 replies      
Musk really does seem to be following his pattern of maximally engaging government contracts and subsidies.

(That's not necessarily a criticism, just an observation, and one others have made before.)

Lagged2Death 6 ago 0 replies      
A positive development, sure. But 80MWH is a little less than the amount of energy a 1GW power plant produces every five minutes.

I want alternative energy to work, but it's sobering to see the scale of the problems involved. It doesn't seem to me that laptop batteries scale up so well. If I were forced to place a bet on the future of grid-scale storage, I'd look for something else.

tbarbugli 6 ago 1 reply      
"The deal fits into Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk's long-term vision of transforming Tesla from an an electric car company to a clean-energy company. That's the same motivation behind his pending deal to acquire SolarCity Corp., the rooftop solar company founded by his cousins, of which he is also chairman and the largest shareholder."

Yeah man, what a lucky coincidence your cousin can help you saving the planet!

pkaye 15 ago 1 reply      
I wonder what happened to Bloom Energy. Wasn't their technology suited for this kind of use?
nraynaud 2 ago 1 reply      
So maybe it's time to re-open the debate on AC vs DC in power distribution? :p
giovannibonetti 6 ago 0 replies      
I wish reporters would know that (mega)watts is not an energy storage unit. I think they mean (mega)watt-hour.
PatentTroll 6 ago 0 replies      
It isn't mentioned in the article, but one of the advantages of something like battery storage is the ability to regulate consumption and production on a millisecond timescale to regulate grid frequency. Anyone know if that is a part of the project here?
prawn 14 ago 0 replies      
From the Tesla blog:

Addressing Peak Energy Demand with the Tesla Powerpackhttps://www.tesla.com/blog/addressing-peak-energy-demand-tes...

oneplane 9 ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why there are so many power grid issues in the USA. It's not that hard to generate power and make it go from A to B, yet for some reason (political? commercial? geological?) there seem to be decades of general issues in generating enough to meet demand. Does someone know what the actual issue is?
Faaak 8 ago 1 reply      
"will supply 20 megawatts (80 mWh) of energy"

Confusing milli and mega is not very serious for bloomberg..

xyuuu 10 ago 0 replies      
No doubt that Tesla is a great company although it face many serious problems right now.Tesla represents tomorrow and future.
allendoerfer 15 ago 1 reply      
I find it weird how technological process sometimes plays out. We have been complaining for decades about how green energy is unreliable and that we need innovative storage solutions. And now batteries somehow seem to be good enough and we are like: "Hey, why don't we put a bunch of batteries in a container?" Proving ones again that economy trumps technology.

The next really big thing after green energy will be recycling. Not that it matters to our generation.

esemor 12 ago 0 replies      
I think Tesla is a better contractor than when California tried something similat with Enron in the late 90's.
Roritharr 6 ago 1 reply      
Without reading this somewhere or having anything to back it up: This, combined with the acquisition of SolarCity, looks like a move to get Tesla into a different Asset Category to make it even cheaper to loan money. If they can be seen in the same risk/asset-category as a power utility, they can rely even more heavily on loans.

Does anyone know if that would be a viable strategy?

honkhonkpants 15 ago 4 replies      
Why doesn't Panasonic just cut out the middleman here? Are they afraid of making their own deals in america?
dragontamer 13 ago 0 replies      
To put some numbers into perspective. Texas recently purchased 317MW of CAES.



Pumped Hydro is 3GW (Giga-watts): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_County_Pumped_Storage_Sta...

And has a storage capacity of ~10 hours (that's 30GW approximately).


20MW isn't exactly "massive" in the utility scale.

jgalt212 5 ago 0 replies      
More corporate welfare for the Corporate Welfare Queen.
JoeAltmaier 15 ago 2 replies      
OP seems confused, claims these battery packs will 'replace fossil fuels'. Under some misconception that the batteries get charged for free or something.
charlesetc 15 ago 4 replies      
Why do you all rely on oil? Just use batteries...


I think it's important to note that they are not "replacing fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries".

They are putting fossil-fuel supplied electricity into batteries to use at a later date.

klakier 8 ago 1 reply      
What a bullshit. I'd call this Russian way of doing business, where you benefit from unhealthy connections with state. 2500 houses? Go find out how many houses are there in California.
The Programmers Guide to a Sane Workweek codewithoutrules.com
108 points by itamarst  5 ago   94 comments top 16
patrickdavey 4 ago 4 replies      
I went to a talk once on leadership. One of the suggestions was to get your "go to hell kit" ready. That is, get enough money in the bank (whatever that means for you) so that you can walk away if things cross your personal lines, be they moral / work-life balance, whatever. It's a good thing if there's pressure to work silly hours. In my first job (recent grad) before I left the job, I'd been working 5 weekends straight (at least a Sat/Sun). Looking back, insane, now I'd be having a conversation with my manager.

Sometimes it's hard when the "norm" is to work these extra hours. Where I live now, I have worked a normal 8:45ish to 5:15ish and haven't had to stay late or work weekends in years. It can be like that, I reckon it _ought_ to be like that. If your contract says 40 hours a week, why would you work more? You're just reducing your hourly rate. Now, I don't mind putting in extra effort if needed, no worries, but if it's the culture that it's just long hours, well that's crazy.

antirez 4 ago 4 replies      
I don't know what's the perfect amount of work every week, but I'm sure anything > 40h is wrong, and you should add commute time if more than 30min/day, otherwise it's a fake figure. In 36-40h/week it's possible to do a lot of things. If you can't often is not because of the time, but because the same people wanting you to work more vaporize your time with meetings, conference calls, emails, phone calls, at a rate that makes it impossible for you to work. Or your coworkers are tempesting you with questions. Or your boss is switching your goal every day not allowing you to produce properly. Or you lack discipline to sit down and work instead of surfing random websites. Anyway whatever the problem is, the solution is NEVER to work more than 40h. Working more can just lead to a shitty life, depression, burn-out, and so forth.
makecheck 3 ago 2 replies      
One red flag is this: does a company zealously track every hour of vacation time but not even give you a place to log overtime? These two things should be treated with equal importance because they are fundamentally the same measurement. If they expect you to take precisely 2 weeks of vacation a year then be sure to reward them by doing precisely 8 hours of work each day. If they have leniency in vacation, reward them with some leniency in when you are willing to handle emergency situations.
ryandrake 2 ago 3 replies      
The "paths to a saner week" seem pretty simplistic and unrealistic. Want fewer hours? Work fewer hours! Wow, you don't say?! That simple, huh? The quote from the article is "you always have the option of unilaterally normalizing your hours." Oh reeeeally?

Don't like your commute? Don't commute so much. Just snap your fingers and afford to live closer to work! Got it.

Want a shorter work week? Just "negotiate" (word mentioned 9 times in the story). Oh, silly me, I was forgetting all of that extra power most people have in the employee/employer relationship!

Any advice for those of us living in the real world?

edw519 4 ago 5 replies      
Finally, you'll need to have the self-confidence or stubbornness to choose and stick to a path that most people don't take.

You don't need self-confidence or stubbornness, just commitment to your principles...

I have never worked more than 40 hours per week for anyone else. Ever. I arrive at 8. I leave at 5. I don't work from home.

Except for emergencies.

My definition of emergency: If someone is dying or their production software isn't working. That's it. Anything else, I'll be in all day tomorrow and will be happy to talk about it then.

All you really need to do is reach an understanding with your manager about your boundaries and the definition of "emergency" at the beginning.

If they want to pay 40 hours for more than 40 hours of work or have a different definition of emergency, they I'll work somewhere else.

It's really that simple. I've been doing this for almost 40 years and have never had a single complaint about it.

And I'm not sure which "most people" OP knows, but "most people" I know have a philosophy similar to mine. We'll do whatever it takes to get the job done, but we won't be suckers.

OP, do you really need a whole book for this?

grecy 2 ago 0 replies      
I think the easiest and most overlooked piece of advice revolves around cell phones.

When you start a new job, under no circumstance should you give them your personal cell phone number.

Tell them it's inappropriate, tell them it could turn into a conflict of interest, tell them you don't have a cell (true for me), tell them you can't afford a cell, tell them you can't afford roaming, tell them you only have data, not a number, tell them anything you have to so you don't give them your personal cell number. Don't ever, ever let them install anything on your phone either, "BYOD" style.

Same applies for your home number, if you have one, and your personal email address. Setup a different email and google voice number for the purposes of interviewing, etc. Once you have a job, don't respond to it "real time".

Now, if they want you to have a work cell, they can provide and pay for it, and before you put a hand on it, you make them very, very clearly document under what circumstances and times you are expected to answer that phone, and what compensation you get for doing so. If they won't provide extra compensation, you make it very clear your home commitments (kids, sick family, make something up) are your priority, and you won't be taking that cell home with you. Leave it in your desk drawer at work, turn it on at 8:30am and turn it off at 5pm and leave it there.

If your employer won't accept that, find another one. Life is too short.

jnordwick 2 ago 1 reply      
I think it also depends on the industry and way you are paid. If you are getting paid $100k doing simple web work, CRUD database stuff, JEE plumbing type where, wiring together libraries with Spring, etc. then you are probably going to complain about working more hours.

If you are getting paid $250k or $300k doing something highly interesting that comes with tight deadlines like finance or trading, then you are going to push yourself a lot harder.

And especially if much of your pay is bonus-based, you will definitely push harder. For example, working in the front-office of a trading company where even developers are getting paid mostly in bonus it is very common to put in more than 60 hours a week. And people love it because the work it very exciting.

One of the most important questions is do you love what you do. I love working in front-office in finance, and i'll gladly put in plenty of hours, especially since getting the promotion to director or principal carries a huge pay increase.

I don't work for my current salary, I work for the next one. I don't do any side projects because getting that next strategy or gateway up and running is worth more than any project I could work on. My job is my side project. And I really like it that way.

Instead of figuring out to only work so many hours, why not try to figure out how to find jobs that excite you more. Find that field you really love and that pays you well or find that startup where you can really see yourself making a huge contribution.

jefe_ 1 ago 0 replies      
Lots of work isn't always bad, but we move in the direction of where we spend our time. First decide, where do I want to be in 1,3,5 years? Map your time usage (including work & leisure), determine how much truly free-time you have left and split it into 9. Spend 5/9 of free-time positioning for where you want to be in 1 year, 3/9 positioning for where you want to be in 3 years, and 1/9 positioning for where you want to be in 5 years. If your 1,3 & 5 year goals relate to climbing ladder at company you're in now, then your work weeks may be many hours (Jeffrey Immelt of GE for example), if your goal is successful completion of a project your managing due in 1 year, so you can move to another company in 3 years and then do whatever after that, your workweeks this year will be standard hours + 5/9 of your free time. The further the goal, the less time you devote today, but if you devote no time, the goal won't ever happen. This is the cost of leadership.
_ix 4 ago 3 replies      
Just put in my two week's notice yesterday. I've been putting in a stupid amount of hours (80+) while my colleagues in other departments barely hit the 40 hour mark. This is a good omen.
thedonkeycometh 4 ago 2 replies      
I read up to the part where he said he worked at google, then shut my computer down and jumped out of a window.
bikamonki 4 ago 0 replies      
Where I live IT workers are not fairly valued, the average one can charge and still get contracts is around USD $30/hr. As such, reducing working hours will make it really difficult to pay bills (forget about early retirement). So, instead of working less I work on developing products that bring in passive income. These products are not the next ubers, just small B2B apps that serve local/niche markets. I started this strategy a couple of years ago and now half my income comes from selling my time while the other half comes from selling saas. Furthermore, time is limited so income from selling dev hours can only increase if rates increase or if extra hands are hired. Selling saas does not have this growth restriction.
creullin 4 ago 0 replies      
I think this really boils down to self regulation. In some/most cases no one is forcing you to work 50+ hours a week.

I remember a sign a coworker used to have in his office. The gist is - are you happy? If so, keep doing what you're doing, if not, change something.

zelos 4 ago 1 reply      
What do people consider an average work week?

I do 37.5hrs religiously and have never had a problem. A good fraction of developers at head office do 30-32hrs (4 days/wk).

kamaal 4 ago 3 replies      
The problem is never more working hours. Nobody minds working extra hours as long as they are paid for it.

The problem really is companies expecting people to do far more then anything they are ready to pay for. Sometime its even more worse when a few people have to make up for other people, and then watch the lazy group get rewarded better for political reasons.

The real issue is resentment not extra working hours.

biztos 3 ago 0 replies      
Does it count as irony that the only hope for a sane work week is coding with rules?
jnordwick 3 ago 9 replies      
Let me come in with a contradictory opinion especially on the overtime.

You don't work for your current salary, you work for your next one. If you are one of those 9 to 5 ers, don't complain when the guy working 60 hours and more gets that promotion over you.

The higher up the ladder you go, the more that will be required of you. Also, startups or high paying jobs will require more of you since you will get getting more in return for better performance.

It is a trade off, and as you get older your priorities change. But there is a trade off to be made. 60 hours is the norm in my field, and often I'll put out more (including the random 2am call), and sometimes much more.

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