hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    8 Aug 2017 Best
home   ask   best   3 months ago   
1
Martin Shkreli is found guilty of securities fraud washingtonpost.com
748 points by fmihaila  3 days ago   584 comments top 46
1
jjxw 3 days ago 11 replies      
There seems to be a misconception regarding what Shkreli was found guilty of. The legal case here has very little to do with the pharmaceutical pricing controversy - it is a separate case based on a separate hedge fund that he managed. The gist of it is that he took people's money to start a hedge fund, lied to investors that the fund was doing fine when the hedge fund went belly up, but ended up returning everyone's money plus a sizable return when his separate pharmaceutical venture went well.

When fraud happens those affected don't usually get their money back much less a return on that money. However, it's pretty clear what he did is also fraud (false documents, not returning people's money when they asked for it) even if the fact that investors came out better makes the plaintiffs less sympathetic.

2
Clubber 3 days ago 18 replies      
I use to hate this guy, then I saw the Vice interview on him. It was nice to see his side of the story.

I don't know much about this case in particular. It was kinda sleazy to see the congress question him about his price increases when they knew damn well it was perfectly legal and they haven't done anything to stop it. Shkreli seems to be trying to expose this hypocrisy, but the news loves their stories.

Vice interview:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PCb9mnrU1g

3
sp527 3 days ago 2 replies      
The government and media couldn't have asked for a better outcome. The actual criminals on Wall Street and in Big Pharma, who had the foresight to line the right pockets, go ignored and the outsider who drew the ire of the public - for a decidedly amoral business decision with poor optics - is very publicly castigated. It's a win all around for a monumentally corrupt establishment, which has once again deferred meaningful scrutiny.

Shkreli made the mistake of setting himself up as the perfect loudmouthed, flamboyant patsy.

4
kabdib 3 days ago 3 replies      
A data point about medication:

I just paid for a pair of EpiPens; the generic version was $337 a pair (last I checked, the non-generic version was over $600). I have pretty good health insurance, so I didn't pay that much myself, but my employer paid the rest.

As a baseline, I had the pharmacist look up the equivalent medication for use with a syringe; a ten dose bottle was $5.99. I know, not the same thing. But this confirmed what I'd suspected for years.

I have to assume that the EpiPen delivery mechanism, which is really what we're paying for, is well debugged and optimized and essentially just a matter of ordering parts and assembling them; it would be mind boggling to have a COGs of more than a few dollars, or any significant conversion costs. The cost of the actual medication that the pens contain is apparently about sixty cents on top of that. Mylan is printing money.

Icing on the cake: The pens expire after a year. But you typically can't get pens that last that long, the ones I got already have a few months on them and will have to be replaced before the next school year ends or my son won't be able to attend class (the school is not allowed to administer "expired" medication).

This is an utter and corrupt racket. I'm writing my congressional representatives and senators. Again.

5
sqeaky 3 days ago 2 replies      
Putting people like Shkreli into prison for a long time is vital to the long term stability of society. I wish money didn't buy options to avoid prison and I wish that people with his behaviors didn't so often accrue large amounts of money.
6
setra 3 days ago 1 reply      
Note that this does not have anything to do with his pricing of pharmaceuticals. From a different article:

"Prosecutors say Shkreli looted his drug company to pay back investors in two failed hedge funds he ran. The defense says investors got their original investments back and even made hefty profits."

7
nodesocket 3 days ago 1 reply      
Unfortunately Martin was made a scapegoat and they made an example out of him because of his arrogance and vocal personality. How did the executives that caused the financial crisis of 2008 get off completely free but a relatively tiny hedge fund manager get the book thrown at him? This was a witch hunt, no doubt about it.
8
defen 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'd like someone to do a reading of Martin Shkreli as "satirist of neoliberalism", and suggest that the reason so many people hate him so much is that he's a scapegoat for our collective feelings of guilt. Can anyone offer a valid critique of his raising the price of Daraprim, within the frame of neoliberalism, that doesn't just reduce to "that guy's a real jerk!"?
9
circadiam 2 days ago 1 reply      
I first met Martin over a skype call and he was very humblehis identity online is just a brand.

2 years later, I stumbled into him again and asked him for advice on affording a cancer drug for a relative. He helped me find the charities and also introduced me to a contact at the pharma company.

The internet prefers headlines over reality.

10
fmihaila 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those who can access it, this NYT article has more detail: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/04/business/dealbook/martin-...

(Edit: I posted this comment while the WaPo article had only a few paragraphs; it's now fully fledged.)

11
0xbear 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think it's fair to say that Shkreli would be left to his own devices had he not shown the audacity to charge what the market will bear. Meanwhile another person who similarly jacked up the price of a lifesaving drug beyond what many could afford, Heather Bresch, received no negative legal attention whatsoever. Ever wonder why? Because her dad is Joe Manchin. The swamp needs draining so bad.
12
zokier 3 days ago 0 replies      
Gotta love the narrative here. Jack up the medicine price and become americas most hated for a moment by general behavior.. that's fine. Make a fool of couple of hedge fund investors.. oh boy, now you fucked up
13
dayaz36 2 days ago 0 replies      
Although technically true, the title is a bit misleading. He was acquitted from 5 of the 8 counts he was convicted of. Of the 8 counts, count 7 carried the biggest wait. This was in regards to the Retrophin securities fraud accusation where he was accused of a ponzi scheme amounting to over $10M. This was the only thing that would of brought him significant jail time but he was found not guilty. Count 7 carried more wait than all the other counts combined and was the heart of the case against him. Right now the case has gone from a felony to basically a parking ticket. All the articles talking about "facing 20 years" are sensationalist nonsense. That is a theoretical maximum. He will most likely receive NO jail time and will probably just have to pay a small fee.Of course you will not get any of this context from all the sensationalist headlines out there like "MARTIN SHKRELI FOUND GUILTY! FACING 20 YEARS PRISON SENTENCE!"...
14
norikki 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can we please have a conversation on the abuse of Federal plea bargains and insanely high sentencing guidelines? Thousands of Americans every year plead guilty in federal court to crimes they did not commit because they face insanely high prison terms if convicted. Often Federal sentences are several times longer than ones in state courts for the exact same crimes.
15
azm1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why would this guy should go to prison when no one(except one guy in us) went to prison after the massive financial crisis in 2008?I know its naive/rhetorical question but thinking about it, its crazy to me.He did no financial harm too.
16
calafrax 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great. They convicted one low level autistic freak with no connections over a couple million dollars. Brave day for justice.

What about the daughter of a senator who is the CEO of the company that quadrupled the price of epipens? Yeah, right, mission accomplished, nothing to see there.

17
nsnick 3 days ago 0 replies      
His mistake was taking money from rich people. If he had stuck to stealing from and killing poor people, nothing would have happened to him.
18
aphextron 3 days ago 1 reply      
>Rarely has a white-collar criminal defendant evoked hatred and scorn from public in the way Shkreli has. Shkrelis willingness to lie, step on people, flaunt his wealth and look down on others made him a villain that many wanted to see go down in flames, said James Goodnow, an attorney with Fennemore Craig, a corporate defense firm.

This attitude is just disgusting, and indicative of precisely what has gone wrong with our society. "White collar" criminals who steal millions are deserving of leniency and mercy. But the "thug" who stole $20 from a 7/11 deserves 20 years.

19
grizzles 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find it hard to believe that he got a fair trial this time around. He was already tried and found guilty in a trial by media a few years back. This investigation & prosecution are a direct result of his legal actions that didn't play well politically. BOTH presidential candidates condemned him. To me it's sad. The sacrificial lambing of Shkreli instead of lawmakers addressing the underlying problem of costly pharma is probably the most Venezuela thing I've ever seen happen in the US. They made the system, he's just trying to prosper ffs.
20
ptr_void 3 days ago 1 reply      
He is live-streaming right now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvArpDQHf-Y
21
ajarmst 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's almost like you shouldn't trust people with narcissistic personality disorder with your money or nuclear launch codes.
22
forkLding 3 days ago 0 replies      
For those who haven't read the article, Martin is being charged on cheating his investors, he himself admits to his "broomsticks", not the immoral arguments he was previously known for.

Also that aside, he was quite a easy target.

23
slap_shot 3 days ago 0 replies      
FWIW, Shkreli has said several times on his YouTube channel that he predicted he was serve 2 years and be done. From what I've heard, he'll be sentenced 3-5 and and serve 80% with good behavior. He had an excellent defense and this was probably known from the beginning.

Interestingly, I don't think he pretends that what he did was right - it just understood it was a means to an end: two years in white collar "prison" for 30-70MM when he had less than $1,000 in the bank and owed creditors north of 1MM.

24
blizkreeg 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have no sympathy for him as he appears to have lied to his investors and moved money around, which seems to be outside the law.

Raising the price of a drug though, as long as he can get away with it, is no crime, no matter how big the increase.

This makes me question though, did he raise the price of Daraprim so he could return money to the investors of his hedge fund?? If so, his entire defense (from his videos) of raising the price to meet his fiduciary duties to Turing's investors falls flat.

25
michrassena 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've found him to be an interesting character, a potent symbol of the greed, arrogance, and indifference of the pharmaceutical industry. A PR firm couldn't have invented a better villain, young, brash, flouting decorum by his openly fleecing the public. He was the perfect scapegoat.

I think we all know nothing has changed, and his conviction today has no relationship to his role as CEO, but I wonder if public opinion of the industry will improve, as if the bad apple is rooted out.

26
thrillgore 3 days ago 0 replies      
Okay real talk -- who's gonna get that Wu-Tang album he has?
27
MistahKoala 3 days ago 1 reply      
I get the impression he isn't so much malevolent in his actions, rather he behaves as a libertine and someone who takes the view that the end justify the means.
28
jonplackett 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know if they were already in the process of prosecuting him for this or is it a way to get him on something in response to him buying and hiking he prices of aids drugs, since that wasn't actually illegal.
30
accountyaccount 3 days ago 1 reply      
Wait wait wait, he committed fraud... but everyone he defrauded actually ended up getting a 3X return on their investment because he just took money from another one of his ventures?

I mean, illegal sure, but seems like he still held up his end of the bargain.

31
roel_v 3 days ago 0 replies      
So, are the gonna sell off his stuff and more in particular, is the Wu Tang album coming up for sale?
32
eurticket 3 days ago 1 reply      
hand over the wutang
33
donatj 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'm sure it's been said but was it ever possible for him to get a fair trial?
34
ringaroundthetx 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the federal venue, can he appeal the securities counts in isolation of the things he was found not guilty of?

Conspiracy charges are always weak, if you can afford a constitutional law to argue on expression grounds.

Has he expressed interest in appealing?

35
balls187 3 days ago 0 replies      
> Prosecutors argued that Shkreli lied to investors in two hedge funds ... according to prosecutors.

If you were to scrutinize what founders of darling startups said to investors, how many "inconsistencies" would you find?

36
rajacombinator 3 days ago 0 replies      
Jail time for Goldman/JPM execs: 0 and counting ...
37
bobsgame 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Martin Shkreli is found innocent of 5/8 security fraud charges."
38
discombobulate 3 days ago 9 replies      
I quite like Martin. I talked to him a few time on YouTube, whilst he was live streaming.

He's whip-smart & knowledgeable. He does, however, have a couple of major flaws. 1) He trolls. Hard. 2) It seems he lies. Which I picked up from a previous news article. (He claimed to have ~$50mm under management @ his previous hedge fund. It was more like $1.6mm. Something like that).

I can forgive the trolling. It's over the top, IMO. But it is what it is.

The lying is another kettle of fish. You can't go around bullshitting ppl. &, as he found out, you can't go around bullshitting investors.

I think he loves money too much. The thought of being poor may have pushed him to do something stupid (ultimately his call!).

I hope he doesn't have too hard a time in jail. Losing his fortune (I believe he loses his shares from Retrophin. ~$65mm. That's already a punishment.

Edit: I don't know why I'm being downvoted. I'm being honest. Fuck you people, frankly.

39
poisonarena 3 days ago 0 replies      
I entered a livestream question session with this clown and asked him his opinion on CRSPR tech and he replied "It has not future because 'it doesn't work'".. Thats when I knew he was full of crap
40
Alaura 3 days ago 0 replies      
Sound's like a good thing tho, i mean we have seen his history and his past, a lot of things kinda conspired to see this coming in the end.
41
jedberg 3 days ago 6 replies      
I understand that what he did was morally abhorrent, but I don't understand why it was illegal? Maybe a lawyer can give a quick summaray?
42
throwawaymanbot 15 hours ago 0 replies      
No one has been charged with wrecking the worlds economy in 2008. Sometimes I have to wonder, is it down to who you know or who you can influence when it comes to charges. Shkreli got his comeuppance, but why a blind eye to other larger fish?
43
llcoolv 3 days ago 1 reply      
This really reminds me of "The stranger" by Albert Camus.
44
samgranieri 3 days ago 0 replies      
lol
45
stevenh 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wish people would stop using the word "modulo" like this.
46
petrikapu 3 days ago 1 reply      
2
Arrest of WannaCry researcher sends chill through security community thehill.com
662 points by rbanffy  3 days ago   333 comments top 33
1
watty 3 days ago 11 replies      
I've read a few articles but I feel like I'm missing something. What's with the sensational quotes like "I had folks afraid that their own involvement in investigating WannaCry would get them arrested."?

Everything I've read points that he created banking Malware "Kronos" which was sold on various "underground forums" (whatever that means). What's with the WannaCry conspiracies? He wasn't arrested for being a security research, he was arrested for being a malware creator selling malware. Why is this "sending a chill through the security community"?

2
Jtsummers 3 days ago 1 reply      
I feel like no one here remembers when Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested under similar circumstances. The US government has no obligation to seek out every potential arrestee no matter where they are in the world for every single crime that the US has laws for. But if the target of an investigation (whether they know it or not) sets foot in the US, then we shouldn't be surprised when they are arrested. And this is just another case with Def Con (so no, it's probably not moving out of the US, it didn't 15 years ago), I'm quite certain that these sorts of things happen frequently for other crimes of (relatively) low priority that are just outside our primary focus on this forum (technology).

And is the US any worse for this than other nations? Probably not. They just get more publicity when it happens. But every nation that has a legal system will do the same thing. If the Russians or the Brits or the Germans or the Swiss decide that Jtsummers is a suspect in a crime, and I visit and they realize it, I shouldn't be surprised to find myself arrested and barred from leaving the country.

[0] https://www.cnet.com/g00/news/russian-crypto-expert-arrested... - may not be the best article, it's the first one that came up on Google for me.

3
chasil 3 days ago 9 replies      
Realistically, DEF CON should move to the Caribbean.

Marcus Hutchins is a British citizen. Extradition before the event was feasible and would have been a far more honorable path than the snatch and grab that transpired.

British security experts might insist on Grand Cayman for any further conferences in the Americas.

4
devhead 3 days ago 1 reply      
If your code is used in an exploit and that is now a punishable crime, maybe next the NSA will be in the hot seat since the code that was used in wanacry was their own. Or perhaps Israel for their effort in Stuxnet.I hope he takes it to trial and we find out what is really happening here. Pretty suspicious that this happens years after the fact and only weeks after he helped prevent the further spread of wannaCry. WannaCry being created on top of the leaked NSA exploits they held on to instead of responsibly disclosing to Microsoft.
5
mnarayan01 3 days ago 1 reply      
As someone who's not sure where I stand on this, I feel like Hutchins supporters are doing themselves a disservice by overly-conflating this with WannaCry. I think there's potentially a good argument to be made along the lines of "Hutchins good work w.r.t. WannaCry is the only reason that anyone (including law enforcement) is aware of semi-historical Kronos, so going after him for Kronos is equivalent to going after him for WannaCry." Additionally, there may well be other arguments in his favor that I'm not even thinking of.

But those arguments need to be made (and the one I outlined would need decent factual details). That said...maybe glossing over (or even totally ignoring) Kronos is the best way for Hutchins supporters to go...but if it is, that seems an unfortunate reflection on society.

6
DomreiRoam 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Why didn't the FBI ask for an extradition to the UK? If the case was solid they should use the proper channel to deal with foreign (supposed) criminals.

When you use this strategy, you deprive the arrested of the right he would have in his country and you add the crazy cost to defend yourself in a US court. So it's possible that the case is not that solid or need some Parallel construction. It's pure speculation but it seems fishy to me.

I can understand the use of shenanigans to arrest previous dictators or very powerful crime lords as a last resort for Justice but here it seems very unfair.

I think we may see a drop of attendee to US conference and/or a drop in tourism.

7
icpmacdo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Another piece of information that seems very shady from the US is they tried to say he was breaking felony gun laws going to the shooting ranges on the strip and using that as a reason to stop his bail

https://twitter.com/ChristyNews3LV/status/893603855266492416

8
ajarmst 3 days ago 2 replies      
Why? The arrest of a mall cop who was also doing burglaries wouldn't send a chill through the security guard community, except perhaps for those who were moonlighting as burglars.
9
loteck 3 days ago 0 replies      
Lot's of comments about moving DEFCON out of US jurisdiction. DEFCON officially flaunts the fact that both criminals and law enforcement attend the event.[0] If that is the approach of the con, this interaction is built-in.

This isn't about DEFCON.

[0] https://defcon.org/html/links/dc-faq/dc-faq.html

10
calafrax 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The indictment does not say Hutchins designed Kronos or sold Kronos. Rather, it says that he provided computer code to a second party to update Kronos.

> Overt Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy

> a. Defendant MARCUS HUTCHINS created the Kronos malware.

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3912524-Kronos-Indic...

11
wepple 3 days ago 1 reply      
> It is unclear from the indictment if Hutchins would have been aware his work was being used maliciously

The indictment specifically states he sold the malware. Unless he was completely convinced the buyers of Kronos were using it for research into browser malware, it's pretty damned obvious.

I'd be interested to talk to malware researchers that are genuinely scared about this.

12
noshbrinken 2 days ago 0 replies      
Individual known for benevolent acts arrested on charges of other, malevolent acts chills community of benevolent actors?
13
thomble 1 day ago 1 reply      
There's so much strange hand-wringing in a loud subset of the security community. The DoJ has a 93% conviction rate because they pursue strong cases that usually end in a plea-bargain. The FBI aren't spooks. The evidence will become public. If this guy profited off of banking trojans then I, for one, hope he ends up in the clink.
14
qaq 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think one factor not being accounted for is cybersecurity is a fairly big priority for law enforcement yet in a very large number of cases they are never able to find or prosecute people responsible. So they need to "make the numbers" to show that they are being effective and the easiest strategy is to go for easy targets.
15
duxup 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess I get the concern but it seems clear the accusation are unrelated to WannaCry and his involvement in another event.

We've seen bumbling investigations and misguided legal threats before... that didn't stop people and this one doesn't seem to yet be either of those.

16
betaby 3 days ago 0 replies      
No need to do any malice in order to be arrested on Def Con

https://www.cnet.com/news/russian-crypto-expert-arrested-at-...

17
throw2016 3 days ago 0 replies      
The lines between security researcher and malware creator is becoming increasingly murky.

When is it research, pretending to be a bad egg to get more info or actually being one?

As long as its was fun and games no one really minded, but now malware is used to hold schools and hospitals to ransom. Even criminals don't go after schools and hospitals. Extreme greed and criminality can't be minimized away as 'hacking'.

The infosec community likes to be edgy but they need to clean up their act and not give airtime and cover to criminals, and its difficult to believe they don't know who these are.

18
tryingagainbro 3 days ago 3 replies      
Is it me or the DOJ so the flight manifest and then went to a grand jury to indict? He did what he did in 2014-2015 and the charges were filed in July 2017, a couple of weeks before Defcon...
19
throwme_1980 3 days ago 0 replies      
Please read his indictment application, there is clearly a reason why he was arrested. If 'researchers" are allegedly selling malware then yes they should worry. Simple
20
csomar 3 days ago 0 replies      
The article is light on details and leave an important question's answer very vague: Did Hutchins sell his product in an underground market to an unknown identity? How much was the compensation?

These questions answered would make the case a "clear-cut".

And there is a big difference between selling your code in an underground market for $250k* with bitcoin, and open sourcing it for free.

*I come up with this number as an example.

21
mirimir 3 days ago 0 replies      
Leaving aside the particulars of this case, I must say that anyone who does anything that might plausibly be prosecuted ought to remain anonymous, and practice good OPSEC. In researching an article about such issues, just about every bust was the result of carelessness.
22
shoefly 3 days ago 0 replies      
I hope they go easy on him. He's done some bad, but recently some good.
23
flipp3r 3 days ago 2 replies      
Sad to see it confirmed that it's not worth the risk going to America to visit DEFCON. I hope they'll host it in Europe someday.. To see no statement by DEFCON on this whole thing is almost equally sad.
24
sqldba 2 days ago 1 reply      
It's a bit odd you can make a knife or gun and sell it but if you sell malware that's illegal.
25
purpleidea 2 days ago 0 replies      
Time to move the conference out of the United States to somewhere more Neutral. Canada would be a good suggestions. Montreal is excellent.
26
cagey_vet 3 days ago 0 replies      
what bothers me actually is how these correlations were made, and by what process of deduction, if its not a snitch related frame
27
known 2 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't he arrested for selling illegal key logger software?
28
thrillgore 3 days ago 1 reply      
I would not be shocked if Defcon moved out of the US.
29
bdcravens 3 days ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't it be "Arrest of malware creator sends chill through security community"?
30
celticninja 3 days ago 3 replies      
31
olegkikin 3 days ago 2 replies      
I hope it goes to trial, and he is not found guilty. Should be a relatively easy case to win.
32
DINKDINK 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the location of the arrest influenced the prosecutors' decision: "We 'caught' him at a hacker convention where they broke a voting machine!"
33
vkou 3 days ago 1 reply      
He's not indicted for doing security research, he's indicted for stealing people's bank accounts.

The indictment may end up being bullshit, but it has not been for any of his white-hat, or grey-hat activities.

3
Google Fires Employee Behind Controversial Diversity Memo bloomberg.com
587 points by QUFB  2 hours ago   748 comments top 89
1
sctb 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We've closed this thread to new accounts because of trolling. If you're going to comment here, please take extra care to make it civil and substantive.
2
marcoperaza 2 hours ago 25 replies      
The author's arguments have been completely misrepresented. He pointed out widely-believed and sometimes scientifically-established differences in the DISTRIBUTION OF traits in men and women. He said that those differences make attempts to achieve numerical parity misguided, discriminatory, and harmful. What is his conclusion about how we should behave? "Treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group." Wow, what a monster.

The reaction to the memo is really the most damning thing about the whole affair. Everyone is just rushing to virtue signal, to demonstrate their own purity of thought. They've just proved the author's point. Honestly, Google might have even been rational to fire him, due to the toxic situation created by the mass outrage. How incredibly damning of our society.

A particular brand of liberalism has reached the point of being a religion, and the establishment is running an inquisition against any who dare to question its points of dogma.

This is the closing of the American mind.

3
zorpner 2 hours ago 14 replies      
Good. I get that HN is not into this, but this employee stated, bluntly, that they don't believe many of their colleagues should be there because of their sex. Every peer review, every no-hire, every interaction, is and should be suspect.

Happy where I am now, but future interviews will include me asking what management would do about this, and termination is the only correct answer. This is textbook hostile environment. Anyone saying otherwise should look hard at why they value this person's desire to speak without consequence over their colleague's right to a workplace where they're not judged by their sex, race, sexual orientation, or any other innate attribute irrelevant to their job performance.

4
adbge 2 hours ago 3 replies      
An excellent opportunity to re-read PG's essay, "What You Can't Say". [1]

"What scares me is that there are moral fashions too. They're just as arbitrary, and just as invisible to most people. But they're much more dangerous. Fashion is mistaken for good design; moral fashion is mistaken for good. Dressing oddly gets you laughed at. Violating moral fashions can get you fired, ostracized, imprisoned, or even killed."

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html

5
tunesmith 2 hours ago 1 reply      
People can't seem to summarize his argument without getting much of it grossly wrong, because his manifesto was a haphazard collection of good points, bad points, good arguments, lousy arguments, misrepresentations of others' views, and unstated implications. A perfect recipe for people to argue past each other about it.

It's worth remembering that one of his conclusions was to end or replace gender-based diversity programs at Google. Given that, it's easy to understand why people would be upset. If gender-based diversity programs are responsible for qualified women getting jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten due to bias, then the lack of that program means those women wouldn't have gotten those jobs.

6
postnihilism 1 hour ago 2 replies      
This feels like the blue and black (white and gold) dress. It boggles my mind that people don't see the fundamental and toxic misogyny in this 'manifesto'. Please have a woman you care about in your life, preferably one in tech, read this and then ask their opinion of the piece.

The "treat people as individuals, not as just another member of their group" sentiment of the author is fine except that we have hundreds of years of doing just this in order to oppress and disenfranchise groups of people. Diversity programs are not about lowering the bar, they are about outreach and working against institutionalized racism and sexism which has created the distribution of wealth and education and work culture that we have today. Given the massive disparity we see in tech it's ridiculous that this individual felt the need to lambast the relatively minimal amount of work being done to foster a more diverse and inclusive culture across the industry.

If one of the things you have to deal with as a woman in tech is seeing 10 page pseudo-intellectual manifestos about your inherent inferiority at performing in technical and leadership roles published at one of the premier tech companies in the world, and then see that piece supported on the most popular tech social sites then it's no wonder we have the gender gap we see today.

When somebody's views are being attacked for being misogynistic and alienating to their female colleagues, it is not suppression of free speech and diverse political opinion it is common decency. Nobody is infringing on your free speech but they will respond. All of these cries of 'authoritarian left-wing thought-police' makes me think We need a manifesto on White Male Persecution Complex Culture in Tech.

[disclaimer: I work at Google, my words are my own and not my employers]

7
mehwoot 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Reading the letter, what surprised me was how political it was, framing everything as a "left vs right" cultural fight. I think if it was up to me I'd probably fire anybody on either side of that debate who started circulating shit like this. As soon as you're on that level, nothing good is going to come of it and you're just going to make a lot of people angry, which is very bad for the business in a lot of different ways.

The workplace is no place for politics like this. If you are going to strictly stick to narrow issues that are relevant to the job, then maybe, but as soon as you're writing a 10 page manifesto with phrases like "the Left's affinity for those it sees as weak" or "some on the Right deny science" or "the Marxist intellectuals transitioned from class warfare to gender and race politics" you are way out of line. It doesn't matter if you are correct or not, politicising your workplace in that way shows a stunning lack of judgement.

8
Waterluvian 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I believe that equal opportunity among all persons is manifest. But I think the manner in which we encourage/enforce/promote it, especially in the workplace, demands debate. We must be able to disagree with the methods without any question of our belief of its purpose.

The most disgusted I've ever felt at a workplace was when my boss, prior to me interviewing someone, said, "and she gets an extra point because she's a woman." The government punishes us on research tax breaks if we don't have enough diversity.

So what am I supposed to say to this person when she asks what set her apart from the other candidates to be hired? "No you weren't the best candidate, but you are a woman." That disgusts me and I refuse to do it.

My job is not to balance an arbitrary math equation that x% of engineers are supposed to be women. That's an issue far larger and more systemic. It can't be fixed this way.

What I can do is remind myself that my job is to pick the best candidate, and my definition of "best" may be fraught with bias, so I need to be exceptionally perceptive to question what capabilities each candidate might bring to the job that I don't naturally consider to be ideal.

Apologies for the ranting nature of this comment. I feel frustrated when faced with the reality that what the establishment wants are at such odds with my morals and convictions.

9
hardwaresofton 2 hours ago 3 replies      
Yep, after reading the public response provided by Google's new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance (https://gizmodo.com/exclusive-heres-the-full-10-page-anti-di...) I was pretty sure this was all that was left.

Regardless of whether you agreed with the letter or not, it's 100% correct in asserting that it's super difficult to have productive, rational conversations about the issue of diversity. Google just reinforced that fact.

10
RealityNow 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's incredibly ironic that a company that apparently cares about diversity enough to have a "Vice President for Diversity" fired an employee for presenting an opposing viewpoint - to their diversity policy of all things.

Further evidence that Google and the other large institutions don't actually give a rat's ass about "diversity". Diversity has absolutely nothing to do with diversity of thought, and is only concerned with normalizing racial/gender composition to present the illusion that discrimination and biological variation are non-existent (except for discrimination against males, whites, and Asians, because for some reason it's not considered discrimination if it affects them). It's not about doing the right thing, it's about PR - hence the decision to cave in to whatever the pitchforks are demanding.

It's a shame that honest criticism of diversity policies and gender issues is considered taboo enough to get someone fired. If we really cared about diversity, then we'd welcome opposing viewpoints and counter them with facts, not silencing. We have a culture of anti-intellectualism and dogmatism around certain topics that for whatever reason are considered sacred and not allowed to be challenged (ie. political correctness), and its disgraceful.

Relevant video: Peter Thiel: What is Multiculturalism Really About? [1996] https://youtu.be/E6cxRYgqfHY

11
drawkbox 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It was a bit of a Jerry Maguire moment even if you agree with some of it.

At work you should be professional and not only work to make yourself and the company/product better, but the people around you better.

It is mostly not healthy to get political or ideological at work unless you want to divide people. A company and employees really shouldn't get political if at all possible, to prevent a divided customer base. You should treat everyone at work like a client and not go all tribal or into cliques that end up in groups that are constantly complaining.

If you don't like something you can work to change it but in a company the size of Google that is not always possible. If you don't like the ideology of a company then leave. Do a good job yourself, setup your own thing if you want to control everything, but don't bring down other individuals, encourage them and make them better, create respect internally. Don't rock the boat, try to guide it, if you can't, hop on a new ship. In the end we live in a free country but work for companies that are more dictatorial/authoritarian where we are just sharecroppers on their feudal land. Companies are not democracies unless they are really small and even then they are not.

Sometimes manifestos are needed [1] but for the most part it is like calling out an employer. Not only will it probably not change the company, it will follow you around for better or worse.

Oh, theres one final lesson: you never know when something you write is going to unexpectedly be published in the Wall Street Journal. So watch those split infinitives.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/what-i-got-wrong-in-the-peanu...

12
escape_goat 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The best explanation of why he was going to be fired and why that was the right thing to do (that I read) came from Yonatan Zunger, who had recently left a Human Resources position at Google; especially his third point, in the following post on Medium:

https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-man...

In many way, it was not an unfamiliar sort of rant for the internet, and I was struck by the author's earnestness and apparent sincerity. It's possible that I make too many allowances for behaviour, and it's possible that I'm easily mislead.

I thought his ideas were not in any way useful, or actionable, even had he been correct;

That the ideas were poorly expressed, and full of such fringe 'truths' as are derived, insincerely, from cherry-picked science in order to be sold as snake-oil cures for the cognitive dissonance of the conservative and vulnerable;

That the expression of these ideas was immensely foolish, especially appearing in the context of what I took to have been his initial intent, an appeal of tolerance of diverse viewpoints at Google.

However, I'm always most disturbed by vitriol online when it's in service of beliefs that I share. It makes me deeply uneasy.

13
Afforess 2 hours ago 4 replies      
I read the memo and didn't find it particularly persuasive; but this dismissal does further its core point. It's a bit tone deaf of Google to fire an employee concerned about groupthink.
14
bronz 2 hours ago 2 replies      
the author of the memo is completely correct and, as others have said, his memo is drastically misrepresented in the coverage it has received. he simply points out that women could have less desire to go into fields such as cs because of their biological makeup. he never says that women should leave google -- he only says that trying to reach a perfectly equal distribution is misguided. perhaps those who are red in the face while reading the memo failed to read between the lines and realize that under this logic, the women who do find themselves wanting to go into cs for passion and not just money should be welcomed. he never once called for anything other than the policy of acceptance and wide open doors that is currently in place. he is merely suggesting that maybe a perfect 50/50 distribution is not needed and, more importantly, liberal people in general need to snap out of the double think where we believe men and women are the same. men and women are not the same.

as a liberal i find that it is important to not shy away from controversy: women and men are biologically different. i am sorry, but they are. you dont need to reject this fact in order to treat women with respect and equality.

15
wyclif 2 hours ago 11 replies      
Fun fact: the author of the memo earned a PhD in Biology from Harvard. Google can fire him and get away with it, but it's going to be tough, very tough, for him to be falsely characterized as someone who is misinformed or unscientific. And the court of public opinion may well be more important in this controversy than any court of law.
16
jrs95 1 hour ago 2 replies      
This is disappointing. I didn't really agree with his premise, and I think he was generally wrong honestly, but I don't think his views were so unrealistic or offensive that this was warranted. I think this was probably done mainly because there was negative media about it. Which sort of demonstrates that Google is just another corporation that doesn't really value its employees that much. Maybe as a collective, but not on an individual basis. I think it's important not to let their moral posturing about social issues cloud our judgement about that.
17
ViktorV 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What I don't get in many of the left-leaning comments is that they're basically saying that 'patriarchy'/society is the only reason why women are underrepresented in tech.

In India/Russia, there are way more women represented in tech then in US. Do you think that these cultures are more welcoming/less sexist to women than US? It should be so in your world view.

I suspect that the companies in these countries doesn't have a diversity program, and they hire everyone for purely business reasons. Why do you think that diversity problems solve anything on the long term?

I live in Eastern EU and many people are actually sexist here ( men and women are favor of enforced gender roles ), unlike in Top 20 countries. But I suspect the gender disparity in tech is better than in the us, or largely the same. Isn't this kind of disproves the notion that gender differences are caused by sexism?

18
jorgemf 2 hours ago 1 reply      
From the code of conduct of google [1]:

> Equal Opportunity Employment

> Employment here is based solely upon individual merit and qualifications directly related to professional competence.

How are you going to achieve 50/50 diversity in the company if the pool of candidates is far from that distribution? (unless you go and don't hire the best ones to balance the distribution)

[1] https://abc.xyz/investor/other/google-code-of-conduct.html

EDIT: As kevingadd said, I might be wrong assuming the goal for diversity target for Google. It can be something more realistic and be close to the ratio of the pool of candidates. In that case I am wrong in my assumption. This is also a good link he provided: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/07/silicon-v...

19
donohoe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you haven't read this post by Yonatan Zunger (former Googler) that deals with this specific situation, then I suggest you do:

https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/so-about-this-googlers-man...

It makes the clear case that this employee went beyond opinion and created a harmful situation for himself and his colleagues.

20
thex10 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
As a minority woman in tech I'm not bothered much by his document, but that's only because I don't work with this guy or folks like him. His manifesto doesn't pain me, but that's only because I have a secure job coding all my favorite things with people who don't spew this kind of unsubstantiated crap to my colleagues, giving them spurious reasons to doubt my abilities and inherent qualities.

My sympathies are with those who work in more precarious situations. I'm no authoritarian, but I'm ok with this guy getting fired - he used his platform unwisely and at this point the damage control gained by firing him probably outweighs whatever benefit the company might get by keeping him.

However, I'm plenty perturbed by the willful lack of understanding all around these parts about (at the very least)- how diversity programs work / what they do- how hiring works- how oppression works- how public words can affect others

21
jorgemf 2 hours ago 2 replies      
> he had been fired for "perpetuating gender stereotypes."

Of course, because a policy of positive discrimination for minorities is not perpetuating any stereotype...

Equality doesn't mean equity. Equality is not fair.

P.S. downvote whatever you want, it is called discrimination for a reason (even if it says positive before)

22
_justinfunk 7 minutes ago 1 reply      
A hiring process is by nature a discriminatory event. Right?

You have a pile of resumes and you discriminate between the candidates during the selection process. This happens on a number of different criteria.

The criteria that we should not discriminate on are sex and race.

Anyone that doesn't agree with this is out of the mainstream.

The issue is that if you cannot discriminate on sex and race, and 90% (made up number) of your qualified candidates are men that are asian or white, then 90% of your workforce will be men that are asian or white.

So, then you have to make hard choices, guided by the current laws, and a desire to create a corporate culture.

If more than 50% of your users are women but only 10% (again, made up number) of your employees are women. AND you can legally choose a qualified woman over a qualified man. Then you have a good reason to hire the qualified woman over the qualified man.

TLDR; discrimination is part-and-parcel of the hiring process. discrimination on the basis of sex or race could be a legal and accepted thing for a company to do. discriminating on the basis of sex or race for bad reasons is bad.

23
maxxxxx 2 hours ago 8 replies      
This is starting to be scary. Instead of government companies are acting as thought police. I think a lot of people will watch what they are saying publicly from now on.
24
peakai 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This only darkens the landscape surrounding gender issues. Considering Google's flip-flopping from the initial response and their actions after the public backlash- it only seems to confirm that internally there is much division over how this is to be handled on an organizational level. A step backwards for the culture as a whole, if we cannot get the best minds together to tactfully resolve such a sensitive topic.
25
thesmallestcat 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe Google fired him for being an idiot as they value smarts? Unless you're trying to get into politics, you have to be pretty dumb to publish something like this under your own name, let alone distribute it at your job. Not a big surprise.
26
LouisSayers 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Where is Google's rebuttal of this memo? All anyone is saying is "it's wrong" etc, but where is an ACTUAL breakdown of what was incorrect about what he wrote?

I feel like most "rebuttal's" are like listening to Donald Trump. "He's wrong and we're right. We're definitely right.".

If you do have a link, please share!

27
peacetreefrog 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's crazy to see such overtly anti free speech arguments in the discussion around this memo, even on Hacker News.

"Well actually, the first amendment only protects against government intruding on free speech, it doesn't apply to the rest of us!"

Free speech used to be the thing everyone agreed on. It's like a fundamental tenant of Western, liberal democracy has gone out of vogue.

28
nsxwolf 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Um, yeah... I'm just gonna go ahead and not have an opinion on this one.
29
bangbang 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So much of the discussion is about what he said has any truth. I think this is beside the question. He Wrote and distributed materials criticizing his employer's core HR mission while alienating coworkers.

If you're a person targeted in his manifesto, I'd suspect you'd no longer want to work alongside him. That's reason enough to fire him on the spot. He's creating a hostile work environment via coworkers and media.

For those that doubt it, I say try it at your job and see what comes of it.

Honestly, what did he think would happen?

30
nancye 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not one to root for people to be fired for holding what I'd consider dumb or ill-informed opinions, but at the same time, as a woman, do I actually want to work on a team with someone who thinks I'm biologically unsuited to the job I'm doing and who is presumably judging my work more harshly and waiting for me to fail at things, who may have the power to review me poorly and affect my long-term career prospects? Gee, that's a tough one. If you've never had to work all day, every day at an office with people who treat you like that, or had to worry about being judged not on how hard you work but on who you are, be thankful. And that's obviously not a great look for a company that's already being investigated for discrimination, so I'm not sure they really had much of a choice here. Bringing bad PR to your company and potentially exposing them to legal liability usually doesn't end well.
31
coss 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I thought at the very least it was an attempt at a well thought out unpopular opinion that should have at least been met with a productive rebuttal. To fire this guy though, sort of proves his point. You can't speak out against the safe space google is trying to create, without fear. If he's wrong then argue his reasoning. Don't attack his character and silence him.
32
notliketherest 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
We value diversity of thought. As long as it's been pre-approved by the Thought Police in HR. sorry Google, you can't have it both ways. To those thinking about leaving, trust me, you'll never look back.
33
williamaadams 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
When I read this manifesto, I thought "well, this is going to generate a lot of news".

What I did when I read it was substitute "woman" for "black", rolled back the clock to Jim Crow south, and read it again.

That might be an instructive exercise for anyone who hasn't actually experienced discrimination, or rather, primarily lives in the dominant side of any culture.

I would rather see this stuff out in the open, rather than hidden behind the glares and glances of colleagues. His firing is unfortunate, but totally understandable. This dialog could have ocured in a much better format.

In the famous words of Bill and Ted, "Be excellent to each other..."

34
danso 2 hours ago 1 reply      
35
mikeash 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's strange how people who say that certain groups are inherently better at something are invariably a member of that group.

To put it more bluntly: it's strange that the people saying white men are just inherently better at stuff are always white men. Oh well, I'm sure it's just a coincidence.

When there are real, strong differences, usually a diverse group of people are willing to accept it. Plenty of women will tell you that men are better on average at lifting heavy objects or reaching the top shelf.

But ask about computer programming, and it's invariably the supposed "in" group saying they're better. What a strange coincidence.

36
plainOldText 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related to the issue at hand and representative of the current, very charged landscape on social issues, is this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gatn5ameRr8

The speaker makes the case that current social conflicts at many American universities though probably representative of the general population as well arise because people are pursuing two, potentially incompatible goals: truth and social justice. I think it's a highly informative video.

Of course, I'd love to watch other videos contradicting or challenging this one, if anyone can provide some links.

37
bronz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
i absolutely hate the situation that we have found ourselves in. gender and race politics have become totally divorced from the issues of gender and race. firing people who speak their mind is not going to help women in tech and it wont help black kids from being shot in the street in chicago or oakland. not a single person i have ever known who played the politically correct game has ever lifted a single finger to help black people or a little girls interested in tech. the sad truth is that gender politics is now a game of virtue signalling -- a status game among liberal people to see who is the most virtuous, the kindest and most thoughtful. meanwhile, any person who does not fit into a beneficiary position in this game (for example the entire middle section of the united states) is treated with savage cruelty. it is astonishing to see my ultra liberal friends whine endlessly about how unfair life is, how painful life is for certain people, and then turn around and in the same breath condemn and disparage millions of people for absolutely no reason. the truth is that a truly kind person reserves kindness for everyone, and even someone who might be mean or unpleasant at first -- i have found that kindness is much more effective at changing peoples perspective than anything else, so if you want mid-westerners to stop being racist, remember that being horrible and mean to them probably wont make them see things from your perspective.

i think there is some kind of effect where people who are really good at solving complicated puzzles that are right in front of their faces are not so good at solving logical issues that are less tangible or more long term. thats one of my theories, because a lot of people i know that arent dumb at all seem to totally buy into the gender politics thing, even though their beliefs totally fly in the face of logic. maybe its me who is wrong, and there is some subtle aspect of this whole thing that i am not grasping. either way, we are all in this together. its important to be patient with each other and to never allow ourselves to descend into savagery and hatred. and if you do find yourself behaving like that, its ok. we all make mistakes, dust yourself off and try again. i know i have.

38
dontnotice 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I think managerially this is the right move; the guy created chaos and had to go.

I'm not sure that's the right move in any other respect, it certainly doesn't advance the conversation.

39
0xBA5ED 2 hours ago 1 reply      
fired from a tech company for "perpetuating gender stereotypes"...

What in the world is happening right now? This is absurd beyond reason.

40
jannettee 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Dude gets fired for violating company policy, people have been fired for much less. Why is everyone getting their panties in a knot? Why isn't this post being flagged like all the other ones about the manifesto itself?
41
plainOldText 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know why isn't this story higher in the news feed? For the past two hours it has had over 500 upvotes and over 600 comments and it's still at position nine.
42
musesum 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
43
miketery 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Makes sense from corporate think. But I doubt it's the correct decision, this only furthers narrative that we can't talk openly.
44
sidcool 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
I strongly feel this was a PR move by Google. I read the article and although I disagree with many of the points stated, firing the person was an extreme step. It would set a wrong precedent for anyone trying to speak up against the majority. A behind the door warning and a rap on wrist would have been enough.
45
trentnix 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
They decided he was a witch, and he was burned at the stake. That's it in a nutshell.

They won't much enjoy a world where these new rules they've created might apply to them.

46
mc32 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I feel Google cornered itself into this pickle. On the one hand they need to grow their pool of talent and make the non majority to feel comfortable --which makes those not in the majority feel they have more than average support from Management, who in turn turn a blind eye to anti-majority bashing.

On the other going above and beyond for underrepresented groups will eventually grate against the majority when they ham-fistedly overcorrect.

This engineer likely got a nice severance or will get his due in court. Seriously, you don't fire someone for having a non milquetoast opinion.

I mean, I expect this heavy handedness from a Walmart but not from a Google. There are other more finessed ways to get your corp culture disseminated.

Off topic, but not having a union allows Google to fire these offensive employees, unlike School districts who must retain people who grind their own little axes.

47
jmorphy88 1 hour ago 0 replies      
1) why is it a moral imperative to have 50/50 gender balance in a company?

2) why is it wrong to have a non-diverse company?

48
omot 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm going to invoke Occam's razor here. Let's simplify diversity and just look at height. Let's assume men that are short and men that are tall are biologically equivalent, meaning biological trait that might surface are evenly distributed. Now let's inject 100 men with varying height into the general population, and... Uh oh there's a skew in leadership position and income. Taller men have better positions and have higher income.

People who are taller all have tall coworkers. They work for a boss that's a little bit taller than them. Some of them start thinking that you know this is probably just natural, men who are shorter are just biologically unsuited to be a leader. They aren't aggresive enough and they just don't have as much drive, it's probably just written in their DNA.

The short men no matter how much they perform or how brilliant they are always seem to be sidelined for promotion. Some of them make it pretty far but they're performing 50x compared to their peers, and theyre always sidelined when it comes to executive promotions. Other executives think: "this guy is brilliant but what would people think about us... We better promote the other less brilliant tall guy. We could retain investor confidence."Some of them break out and try to start a company. They can't get any funding, and no one wants to join their company. People think its a company run by a short guy, this guy is brilliant but he's not going to do well in the long term, so they end up joining start ups that have tall guys.

This network effects over a million times.

Now let's take people's perception, and assume people perceive men and women exactly the same. The catch here is that women are one standard deviation shorter than men. Just from height you'll see a discrepancy between men and women representation in leadership positions.Let's end height discrimination first.I believe this is a simpler explanation of the discrepancies in representation.

49
KKKKkkkk1 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
This individual apparently has a biology PhD from Harvard, but only two published papers. How common is this in biology? Seems very low compared to computer science.
50
perfectstorm 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
honestly I haven't read the original post/email/letter. I'm sure most of the keyboard warriors you see on here as well as Blind or any other forums haven't read the whole thing either.

I have a feeling that people jumped into conclusions before reading it or understanding author's POV. I'm frankly surprised by Google's reaction. They should have debated this internally instead of firing an employee because h/she expressed their opinion. Even if the author was wrong, they could've countered his/her points by bringing proofs/scientific studies.

51
CPAhem 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Dare I say, but people should be employed for their abilities not their gender, race or value to some checklist.

Those who develop greater abilities through study should find greater opportunities in work, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or negative score on some diversity checklist.

52
sna1l 2 hours ago 7 replies      
Not a lawyer, but will he have a case to sue for wrongful termination? I guess without seeing the employee contract and Code of Conduct, it is hard to say.
53
deepnotderp 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wow. I have so much to say about this, but I'd rather not be publicly crucified for this.

Chilling indeed, so much for free speech and rational discussion.

54
kozikow 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Suppose that you work for the company that consists of 80% vimers and 20% emacsers.

All documentation is geared towards vimers. There are interests groups geared towards vimers. No one questions you if you are a vimer. If you are a stuck with some error as an emacser there are fewer people to turn to or discuss your favorite text editor, so some people start to suggest that emacsers are worse programmers.

The company analyzes the research and decides that vim and emacs programmers are equal. If the company decides to invest into supporting emacsers, by requiring more documentation to be written in emacs and funding emacs meetups, it is not a discrimination against vimers. The company recognized that if it won't offset some benefits vimers have they would continue to lose out on a group of talented programmers.

55
thex10 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well, I'm not the least bit surprised - you don't just get to spam your colleague network with your non-work-related hot-button-topic nondeliverable and get anything productive out of it.

If he's actually interested in the topic of working towards better workplace diversity, he could read a book, write some papers, put together a panel discussion, organize a conference, make an educational video...

56
wolco 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is the start of google become less technical and a less desirable place to work.

That might be okay for them. They had too many applications anyways

57
lettergram 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What's crazy, if these roles were reversed... the ACLU would be all over it.
58
ameister14 2 hours ago 1 reply      
They were stuck between a rock and a hard place and chose what was less likely to effect ongoing litigation and what most people in Silicon Valley will accept. Other people were threatening to quit, they had no real choice here. This was the better of two bad decisions.
59
chiaro 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A relevant kid's story:

The Racist Tree

By Alexander Blechman

Once upon a time, there was a racist tree. Seriously, you are going to hate this tree. High on a hill overlooking the town, the racist tree grew where the grass was half clover. Children would visit during the sunlit hours and ask for apples, and the racist tree would shake its branches and drop the delicious red fruit that gleamed without being polished. The children ate many of the racist tree's apples and played games beneath the shade of its racist branches. One day the children brought Sam, a boy who had just moved to town, to play around the racist tree.

"Let Sam have an apple," asked a little girl.

"I don't think so. He's black," said the tree. This shocked the children and they spoke to the tree angrily, but it would not shake its branches to give Sam an apple, and it called him a nigger.

"I can't believe the racist tree is such a racist," said one child. The children momentarily reflected that perhaps this kind of behavior was how the racist tree got its name.

It was decided that if the tree was going to deny apples to Sam then nobody would take its apples. The children stopped visiting the racist tree.The racist tree grew quite lonely. After many solitary weeks it saw a child flying a kite across the clover field.

"Can I offer you some apples?" asked the tree eagerly.

"Fuck off, you goddamn Nazi," said the child.

The racist tree was upset, because while it was very racist, it did not personally subscribe to Hitler's fascist ideology. The racist tree decided that it would have to give apples to black children, not because it was tolerant, but because otherwise it would face ostracism from white children.

And so, social progress was made.

60
megamindbrian 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
I guess I won't be working for Google anytime soon.
61
cratermoon 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
This essay, from a former Google employee, touches on the themes that go to the heart of why supporters of this guy are flat-out wrong in their take on the situation. Tolerance is not a moral precept: https://extranewsfeed.com/tolerance-is-not-a-moral-precept-1...
62
makecheck 2 hours ago 1 reply      
We should be able to apply security technologies to online discourse. Theoretically it should be possible to separate real identity from virtual identity: maybe I publish a bunch of stuff in such a way that no one can ever figure out who I am but anyone can verify that a series of different comments/articles/etc. were all made by the same person. Then you could decide to follow people who publish things that interest you without having any feasible way to identify them (you cant fire them, you cant meet them, etc.).
63
schimmy_changa 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Already mature discussion about the issue here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14948857
64
hooluupig 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I disapprove of what you say,but i defend to the death your right to say it.Do you still remember 'Don't be evil'?SHAME ON YOU,GOOGLE.
65
HD134606c 1 hour ago 0 replies      
We haven't seen anything yet. What we're witnessing is the transition from capitalism to Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and things like this termination are an obvious milestone. That may sound like a bold claim but let me explain.

Allow me to back up a little bit. First off some context: a lot of people don't realize it but we are a lot closer to a post-scarcity world than the world would have you think. Check out this chart which shows GDP per capita since the 1950's. The productivity gains since the 1950's have been absolutely incredible, and the quality of life back then was pretty good. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/A939RX0Q048SBEA

Have you ever noticed there's never any dialogue about encouraging men to be stay at home dads, or reducing the overall household number of hours worked per week? Never. The dialogue is always about the "wage gap" and "women have value too" and "rape culture" and "microaggressions". Men who are stay at home dads still get shamed just as much as they did during the 1950's. This is how you know there's something wrong - there is never any serious dialogue about actual equality. Income has in no way, shape, or form, kept up the with the GDP per capita shown in the chart above. There's never any explorations of policies that would actually increase equality, like restricting the number of "investment properties" a man or woman can own, behavior which is clearly parasitic. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_productivity_and_...It's not in corporate interests to have people have actual equality. Increasing the labor pool without discussions of actual equality makes it so that people can be kept in debt, wages go down and the nexus of power moves away from the family and towards the corporation, which is what is happening.

"Women have value and should be working full time too". The implication here is that if you are not working for money you have no value. Despite common belief, in fact it IS possible to generate value outside of a money context. Many of the world's greatest achievements have occurred outside a money context, eg. the discovery of calculus, wikipedia, linux, countless famous works of art, literature, and philosophy. By saying that you only have value if you earn money is throwing many of the world's most accomplished people under a bus. The reason why "money is the only form of value" is such a horrible mentality is that it leads to people like Mozart dying in poverty and being thrown into a ditch, which actually happened.

Check out charts of combined household numbers of hours worked, you'll see it's going way UP not down, despite the GDP per capita chart shown above. There is clearly something dark in that picture. http://www.bls.gov/opub/working/chart17.pdfI don't think these are idle complaints - feminism in its current form is an ideology that's on a direct collision course with the whole 'robots are about to take all the jobs' reality, which I think is going to come a lot sooner than we realize, and when these two phenoma collide, what's going to happen is that it's not going to be equality (sorry folks) it's going to be Brave New World, an immensely stratified society.

I work in one of Alphabet's departments where everything you do is constantly monitored. Your teammates conduct detailed psychometric analyses of you, beyond the simple perf of yesteryear. It's beyond cult-like. It's Brave New World.

66
devrandomguy 1 hour ago 4 replies      
As a white man, I have concerns that my ethnic / gender group is being persecuted. How should I raise these issues for discussion, in a professional environment?
67
alexpetralia 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Surprised to see no mention of John Haidt and the "illiberal left" thus far.
68
dcow 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why I'll never work for Google. Plain and simple.
69
robbiemitchell 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
What did he want to happen?

What did he think would happen?

Bonus: Why didn't he just post this to Reddit?

70
pfarnsworth 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
What we all in tech are forgetting is that this gender gap exists in all fields, including medicine. The more interesting problem with medicine is that the pipeline is basically at equity (close to 50/50 male/female graduates).

However, according to this article (https://amino.com/blog/how-the-gender-gap-is-shifting-in-med...) even medicine is seeing severe gender gaps based on the specialty that is chosen.

This was their analysis:

Only 7% of all orthopedic surgeons; 15% of orthopedic surgeons beginning their practice in 2015

9% of urologists; 21% of urologists beginning their practice in 2015

13% of cardiologists; 25% of cardiologists beginning their practice in 2015

Why are there so few women working in these specialties? According to Mayo Clinic's Ian Mwangi, Theres a stereotype that orthopedic surgeons are jocks, that the field requires brute strength. Theres a lengthy feature article on Orthopedics Today that explores other reasons women arent entering orthopedics, including less exposure to the field in medical school, discouragement among advising faculty and deans, and the perception of poor work-life balance.

NPR explains that there may be gender disparity among urologists because of a "misconception of the field ... that urologists treat male problems like prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction."

Women seeking a career in cardiology face similar deterrents, including the impairments to family planning, poor work-life balance, and perceived radiation risks, according to this fellows' perspective published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

In most of my research, I found that a lack of female role models was also a key reason why more women didnt enter these specialties, echoing a trend across industries. Doximity reports that women represent only 22% of physician leaders.

71
m52go 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Relevant: Stossel's Racist Bake Sale

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDVnzQD_FVU&t=88s

72
sna1l 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know first hand if any employees agreed with the sentiment in this memo? Shouldn't they be let go as well?
73
chskfbsixbskffb 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why is trolling not civil or substantive?
74
kevingadd 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Intentionally violating your employment agreement and expecting not to be disciplined for it is definitely a strange way to demonstrate your innate superiority over the other gender. Either this guy genuinely believed he was so right that he wouldn't get punished for this, or he wanted to quit and decided to try to martyr himself.

I'm personally not a fan of the memo's content but even if I were, it demonstrates incredibly poor judgement. Posting this sort of thing on internal work message boards and signing it with your name is just plain silly. If you want to have your 'rational discussion' about gender and race in tech and not get penalized for violating an agreement you signed governing your conduct, then do it on your own time and using your own equipment instead of your employer's equipment. This isn't hard. How does someone manage to get a PhD without acquiring a basic understanding of cause and effect?

75
mankash666 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Google's code of conduct might be illegal. Regardless of how inaccurate the employee's claims, firing him for it is possibly grounds for improper termination.
76
mythrwy 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
And... no one is surprised.

You can be "right" all you want, but then there is politics. It's been going on since at least the days of Socrates.

Every big org does plenty of silly stuff from perspective of rank and file. Sometimes it truly is silly, sometimes there are reasons that aren't obvious at that level.

I suppose Google made the rational decision. We'll have to see if it produces a martyr which is often the longer term outcome of these kind of situations. Doesn't seem like being a rallying point in the cultural war is a situation Google would want to be in at the moment, but who knows.

Thinking it may have been wiser to state publicly that every one is entitled to their opinion, but the official policy of the company was XYZ not open for debate. And then quietly send legal with a bag of cash and a stack of "zip your lip" forms and after the hoopla dies down a bit, an uneventful departure to "pursue other opportunities".

77
redthrowaway 2 hours ago 1 reply      
So, stating true, scientifically verified facts that challenge Google's official political ideology is now a fireable offence.

This is insane. The speed at which this ideology has taken over SV is breathtaking, and a massive disincentive for anyone not already so inclined to work there.

78
falcolas 2 hours ago 2 replies      
We fire people for snickering at the word "Dongle".

We witch hunt people who play at Gor in their spare time.

We hound CEOs who disagree with the popular stance on gay marriage.

We fire people who clumsily try to open a dialogue internally to a company.

The tech industry is indeed fucked, but perhaps not for the reasons that are currently popular.

79
daodedickinson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It seems he's been fired for being wrong even as Google employees push all sorts of other harmful inaccurate stereotypes publically on social media. The hubris and oppression we feel underneath the unaccountable and inescapable reign of Google and Facebook grows more terrifying with every new revelation.
80
throw2016 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There is no reason for an employee to be concerned about who their employer hires as long as said companies are operating within the framework of law. This is none of your business literally.

Google is currently under investigation for pay disparity and are obliged to review everything and ensure there is no sexism at play. If you don't like this surely you should challenge the laws that demand this of Google.

Sending a memo on diversity or any political issue is an aggressive political action in the workplace that can only have one outcome. The context for debates and action about merit and diversity is in the legal democratic space not the office.

This individual is not a victim of free speech but of indiscretion.

81
LiteskinKanye 2 hours ago 1 reply      
82
FlashGit 2 hours ago 2 replies      
84
mcappleton 2 hours ago 2 replies      
85
muglug 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh, so stating that women can't handle stress is bad now? Political correctness gone, uh, sane.

Edit: I had hoped the sarcasm was obvious

86
senectus1 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Ironic really...SuggestionsI hope its clear that I'm not saying that diversity is bad, that Google or society is 100% fair, thatwe shouldn't try to correct for existing biases, or that minorities have the same experience ofthose in the majority. My larger point is that we have an intolerance for ideas and evidence thatdont fit a certain ideology. Im also not saying that we should restrict people to certain genderroles; Im advocating for quite the opposite: treat people as individuals, not as just anothermember of their group (tribalism).

Google responds to the article by being knee jerk intolerant to the ideology...

Guess he was kinda right?

87
okabat 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Slate star codex on the science behind gender representation: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagge...

Makes the very clever comparison to medicine and other fields that used to be 100% male.

"Nobody has any real policy disagreements. Everyone can just agree that men and women are equal, that they both have the same rights, that nobody should face harassment or discrimination. We can relax the Permanent State Of Emergency around too few women in tech, and admit that women have the right to go into whatever field they want, and that if they want to go off and be 80% of veterinarians and 74% of forensic scientists, those careers seem good too. We can appreciate the contributions of existing women in tech, make sure the door is open for any new ones who want to join, and start treating each other as human beings again."

88
CalChris 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think I've figured out what Damore needs: a daughter. Something tells me that he'd do a 180 in 2 seconds if he had a daughter.
89
friedman23 2 hours ago 7 replies      
I haven't read the memo but I have read some summaries of it. Even before the memo was released I had a negative opinion of it. Not because someone spoke out their mind but because someone decided to just go and shout out their obviously controversial beliefs to the world expecting for his ideas to be taken seriously and for there to be no negative consequences.

If you want people to care about what you think and have to say, you need to spend time and effort cultivating a positive reputation. Otherwise you just seem like an unhinged idiot.

edit: because people seem to be misunderstanding my point or simply downvoting me because I am describing a reality which makes them uncomfortable I will simply reference Douglas Crockford and the Nodevember debacle.

If what occurred to Crockford occurred to some no name software engineer do you believe there would have been the outpouring of support and articles defending his character? No the person would have likely been fired for no good reason and had their name splashed across a bunch of tech blogs as a sexist.

4
HTML5 Version of the Tron:Legacy Boardroom Scene robscanlon.com
679 points by PleaseHelpMe  2 days ago   65 comments top 27
1
arscan 2 days ago 8 replies      
Glad to see some people are getting a kick out of this. I built it a few years back while learning webgl, css3, node.js, redis, and modern (at the time) js tooling. Source over at https://github.com/arscan/encom-boardroom

I didn't build this with any real practical application in mind at the time. But some people have reused components in their own projects over the years, particularly the globe (https://github.com/arscan/encom-globe).

2
thatcherc 2 days ago 2 replies      
Are there any efforts to make movie-type window styles for real use? The Tron:Legacy style would be a fun one to have, as well as the one used in the computers in Westworld (similar light-blue-on-black)[1] and Interstellar [2]. I'm sure it's a more difficult process than I'm imagining, but it would be really cool to be able to use the window and interface themes of the computers in your favorite show or movie, especially since some have such great designs.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ikup60uEg0c[2] - https://youtu.be/bmz9lMP6aQU?t=2m4s, visible for a brief second just after 2m4s

3
kang 1 day ago 0 replies      
4
DannyDaemonic 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is beautiful. There needs to be a plugin api for this so we can make our own using charts using the built in command line and associated widgets.
5
thinkpad20 2 days ago 0 replies      
The term "mad skills" comes to mind. I would love to see a breakdown of some of the techniques he used to construct this.
6
Splines 1 day ago 0 replies      
Subreddit of movie-fake-UI: https://www.reddit.com/r/FUI/
7
emilioolivares 1 day ago 1 reply      
What, the .js file for the globe itself is 43 thousand lines of code. Was this a weekend project? How do you find the time? Very well done my friend. (https://github.com/arscan/encom-globe/blob/master/build/enco...)
8
Animats 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Check out Harvard's economic globe.[1] This looks like the globe from this demo, but it's a real interactive tool.

[1] http://globe.cid.harvard.edu/?mode=gridSphere&id=PH

9
hughw 1 day ago 1 reply      
My admiration is unbound. I have one reservation -- I wish it would handle history correctly. I wish each click e.g. github produced a new URL I could email to a friend so they could view the same scene. And then I wish I could hit "back" to recover the landing page. None of this diminishes how beautiful this is, and I'm sure it just wasn't part of what you were trying to explore.
10
nautilus12 1 day ago 0 replies      
If only we could get a version of this to render in the terminal so we could hack our workstations to actually look like this. I use tmux pretty heavily. Id love it if panes looked like this
11
raykanani99 2 days ago 1 reply      
Holy cow. Did you use a charting framework for the stream feed? How did you get such a pretty globe?
12
collinmanderson 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fun to see Event Source show up here. I feel like WebSockets are all the craze, but Event Source seems to be a really simple alternative that uses only HTTP.
13
luord 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Man, fantastic.

I should probably get into doing something like this in my free time instead of browsing reddit or tvtropes.

14
pmattos 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very cool stuff... even `ls` works in the shell ;)
15
Shinchy 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic, really fun to use and would make a cool portfolio website.
16
Kenji 1 day ago 0 replies      
The funny thing is that it loads faster and has higher fps than many websites that display simple blogposts and a couple of images, but pull in literally megabytes of JavaScript and other bloat.

People, learn from this. Seriously. The web doesn't have to be slow if you put effort into it.

17
metmac 1 day ago 0 replies      
So cool to see this revived. I remember stumbling upon it awhile back.
18
mattnewton 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is super cool, I love the from aesthetics (if not the movie).

How do you make you or tapping not zoom again? Is there a HTML meta tag or something? It would improve the usability of the keyboard on mobile.

19
cjsuk 1 day ago 0 replies      
You got in :)
20
jarym 2 days ago 0 replies      
Really damn impressive!
21
fizixer 2 days ago 1 reply      
You could add a video stream from a live online news channel on the top right? (on my side the top right was pretty much empty)
22
baalimago 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've not even seen tron since im too young... but all i can say is that i'm mighty impressed
23
bluescreenofwin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Man this brings me back.. Thank you for creating this!
24
th0ma5 2 days ago 0 replies      
They used Processing some I think in the movie which now has a WebGL version.
25
samgranieri 2 days ago 0 replies      
Holy shit! This is amazing. Great job
26
cdevs 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love this.
27
edpichler 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, beautiful!
5
Show HN: Is the stock market going to crash? isthestockmarketgoingtocrash.com
701 points by truffle_pig  14 hours ago   295 comments top 70
1
pdog 12 hours ago 10 replies      
If you're looking for The Single Greatest Predictor of Future Stock Market Returns[1], here it is: http://www.philosophicaleconomics.com/2013/12/the-single-gre...

This is a long read, but it's worth it. The metric can be calculated in FRED[2], and as a predictor of future returns, it outperforms all of the most common stock market valuation metrics, including cyclically-adjusted price-earnings (CAPE) ratio[3]. (Basically, the average investor portfolio allocation to equities versus bonds and cash is inversely correlated with future returns over the long-term. This works better than pure valuation models because it accounts for supply and demand dynamics.)

[1]: http://www.philosophicaleconomics.com/2013/12/the-single-gre...

[2]: http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=qis

[3]: http://www.multpl.com/shiller-pe/

2
runako 13 hours ago 9 replies      
I've never seen market valuation expressed as market cap as % of GDP. I'm not an economist, so I'll leave the detailed arguments to them. But it would be at least useful to explain why you think this is a meaningful metric as compared to those typically used to measure market valuation (e.g. P/E ratios etc.).

Your graph also ties your valuation metric to the 2000 peak and the 2008 peak. However, there were crashes in 1990 and 1987 as well. Should readers conclude that the 1987 peak level was also too high, and that therefore the last ~30 years have also been too high as well? (Abstaining from investing in the stock market at levels above the 1987 crash would have resulted in the loss of tremendous opportunity for wealth creation.)

There are a lot of opinions implicitly expressed in this site; it would be good to try to make those explicit.

3
uiri 13 hours ago 2 replies      
For market overvaluation, it says: 9.1 / 10 "DEFCON 4"

DEFCON 5 is peacetime, DEFCON 1 is imminent nuclear war. For example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US reached DEFCON 2. Should this say DEFCON 2 instead? Or is "above" normal readiness the intended meaning?

4
misja111 12 hours ago 3 replies      
The metric used to calculate market overvaluation is interesting but it has little value for predicting a stock market crash.Let's take he last 3 major US crashes:

1987: this crash was caused by automated trading systems which could run wild in the absence of any prevention regulations such as circuit breakers

2000: the collapse of the dotcom bubble

2008: start of the financial crisis caused mainly by opaque credit default swaps and packaged subprime loans

Of those 3, only the dotcom bubble seems to be a bit related to the market overvaluation metric. And even right before the dotcom bubble crash there were plenty of economic guru's who argued that classic overvaluation metrics were not valid anymore because we were now in a 'new economy'.

The other two crashes were caused by black swans; occurrences that nobody was aware of and that were only understood afterwards. Most likely the next crash will be a black swan as well.

5
lr4444lr 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Can someone with an actual economics degree explain to me whether it's a valid criticism of the "Market cap as % of GDP" metric that many US companies derive value from multinational labor and consumption, and if not, why not? Thanks in advance.
6
mendeza 13 hours ago 5 replies      
What about student loan debt, how does that factor into the economy or the stock market being affected?

Right now student loan debt is at 1.4 trillion

source: https://www.debt.org/students/

7
indescions_2017 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Correct answer, of course, is no one knows, because the future is opaque and unpredictable. And indeed you have some very smart professionals going to cash or directly betting on a 5-10% correction in the S&P500. And a set of equally smart fund managers calling for a 2600 target by mid-2018.

What we can say with some certainty, based on options activity, is that if a single day 3-4% drop in the S&P500 occurs it can trigger a massive unwind in short volatility positions:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-stocks-volatility-idU...

And with several political risk factors on the near term horizon, including the possibility of a government shutdown in late September due to the failure of Congress to extend the debt ceiling (yes, they are arguing over who is going to pay to fund the border wall with Mexico). It certainly should surprise no one if a coming tomorrow could be very different than the extraordinarily low-volatility landscape we face today.

The Case For Long Volatility by Eric Peters

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/case-long-volatility-eric-pet...

8
pillowkusis 13 hours ago 3 replies      
A site like this seems dangerous at best. Nobody can predict the stock market. Nobody can predict when a stock market is more likely to crash. This site tries to indicate otherwise. Whatever causes the crash it probably won't be one of the indicators listed here.
9
avip 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the design and phrasing. This is just a well-done website.

It would be really interesting to see your collapse pyramid over time. How did it look in 2000? 2008?

10
benmarten 13 hours ago 2 replies      
How is the heat matrix diagram calculated? It seems to be wrong. Public Debt has a 3.7/10, while it looks like its around 8.5 in the heat diagram.

Looking at the individual ratings:- Household Debt: 5.5 / 10- Market Overvaluation: 9.1/10- Market Volatility: 0.3/10- Public Debt: 3.7/10--> SUM = 18.6/40 or 46.5%

Also I noted: Drawing a linear trend line through the "Market Overvaluation" diagram, does make it look a lot better though. One could argue that people get used to certain levels, hence a growing trend over time.

Taking only these factors into account, it does not look like the market is gonna crash soon. In my opinion it's likely going to be caused by another factor not listed here ;)

11
daotoad 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Good idea for a website, should be able to get you some nice revenue from intermittent visits. You probably want to focus on financial services for your ads.

I'm not going to say anything about your numbers and your models other than, without the ability to see how they looked at previous crashes, it's hard to see if the site is useful. To the innumerate masses and emotional investors the flickering numbers are persuasive enough. So they really don't matter.

On the bad side, your UX is god-awful. Use an oldish, slightly crappy monitor to look at it and you will discover that your background is indistinguishable from the foreground. The top bar of the box completely disappears, too. Also, a row of buttons is NOT a good tabbed interface--there is no indication that clicking on "Market Volatility" is going to reload all the content below the row of buttons. Maybe make actual tabs, at least make that stuff a distinct box.

This could be a nice little side product to make you some extra money. Get some GA on there, and slowly add features. I think a bit of interactivity and the ability to customize the predictive models through some drag and drop could actually make the page sticky and get people coming back.

12
omg_ketchup 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Site just displays a blank page. No error or anything.

I think that's a better statement than whatever the app actually does.

13
ringaroundthetx 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So VIX doesn't give an indication of much. The VIX formula has changed so many times, and the human behavior around the assets that VIX tracks has changed to reflect those changes and the new products those changes are based on.

Different people gamble in weekly S&P500 options than gambled in monthly S&P500 options. Different people gamble in the 5 consequetive week at any given moment weekly options, than gambled in the single week at a time weekly options.

The options market itself has had ebbs and flow in interest.

And the self fulfilling prophecy of keeping the market propped up when everyone buys PUT options expecting it to crash has disillusioned a lot of people from participating at all. People know what the central banks are up to, why pretend to have confidence in any of it. The Swiss bank is printing money to buy US stocks for free. Everyone's creating money through new bond issuances to buy things for free.

This all contributes to a lower VIX.

14
qubex 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Economist here. You should really keep in mind that the same GDP must go both towards paying off the national debt and paying off household debt. Also you should track commodities (at the very least, the ratio between put & call options).
15
where_do_i_live 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Your volatility section seems to be a very poor indicator of a future crash in the manner you are using it. Volatility is not a predictor, but instead a descriptor. An analogy I think is the weather stick - Is this stick wet? Then it is raining. It is a very poor item to use in your context.

Further, sustained periods of low volatility often are sometimes indicators of complacency among investors and indicators of higher chances of bubbles. Sustained periods of low volatility are at times indicative of higher future risk of a market crash, not a low predictor. I think you need to re-evaluate how you use volatility.

16
tveita 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Normalizing household debt against the GDP makes the assumption that we are comparing the debt with the ability to pay for it.

But according to graphs like this, even though the GDP has been rising, median households have not been getting a corresponding increase in income: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United...

So the income we are adjusting against is not necessarily going to the people that are in debt!

17
saimiam 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I was (sort of) there when the 2000 tech crash happened and was in the thick of it when the 2008 crash happened.

This thread and a few offline conversations made me reexamine what I believe about the stock market and the nature of the 2000 and 2008 collapses. Of course, I'm not an econ nor do I have data to back up anything I'm saying.

All manias, from tulips to tech IPOs to housing bubbles are born when the common person joins the frenzy. On the flip side, the mania collapses when the common person walks away or never shows up the party. For the tech IPO frenzy of 2000, the common person never even showed up to use all those exotic new ideas which were getting funded and going public. During the housing bubble, the common person bought and sold houses which setup the flywheel. Eventually, the common person walked away from the asset in question bringing down the entire charade.

Today, the market is soaring. People are starting to wonder when gravity will reassert itself but in my view, this time the difference is that the common person cannot walk away. Unless adblocking and disdain for social media become extremely mainstream, the common person is so busy amusing themselves to death online that they are not going to leave the tech mania. Companies like FB and Google have made the web sticky.

Does this mean the stock market will rise indefinitely? I don't know. I do know that once there is a captive market comprising everyone online, no company is going to stop advertising or figuring out ways to reach buyers online.

We are in a new age where you just can't get away from the web. We are the product but we also have no way of exiting the dragnet.

18
yuhong 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Yea, the US economy is based on constantly growing debt basically, which can't last forever. My favorite is the ad bubble now, and ads are basically designed to increase consumption. It is probably worth mentioning China too: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-06/chinas-minsky-momen...
19
Nursie 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"NaN% more overvalued than just prior to the 2008 financial crisis,"

I think there might be a few coding errors still lurking in there.

20
mxschumacher 13 hours ago 2 replies      
American companies sell products & services outside of the United States. Comparing American GDP with the aggregate value of the US stock-market is deeply misleading, especially given a historical comparison: foreign markets such as China have gained in relative importance over timeframe under consideration.

When looking at debt, one should not just observe the nominal amount, but also the interest rates, which have never been lower. Large companies can tap public debt markets and borrow billions at 1.5% over a timeframe of ten years. Risk is thus lower than the website suggests (at lower interest rates, a company can carry more debt). Additionally, returns to equity will be higher (the I in EBIT is smaller, so profits are bigger).

21
timsayshey 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Really cool idea. As someone that hasn't really investigated the market indicators for collapse this is really eye opening. It really breaks things down into plain english. Hope this goes to the top for some rational/interesting conversation.
22
anonu 13 hours ago 1 reply      
As the site makes clear, nobody really ever knows if the market is going to crash. On the market valuation side they claim the current market is overvalued. But overvalued is a relative term... As you have to value versus something, and that something is usually something historical.

The way I see it though is the markets are a big voting machine.. and they're making predictions about the future and incorporating future expectations. With the current US administration still pondering over tax plans and infrastructure stimulus packages that are promised, market may be underpriced???

23
mathiasben 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I feel as though the "stock market" following the 2008 crisis has become further insulated from the larger economies fundamentals. wages can continue to not keep up with inflation, savings rate continues it's downward slide, household debt service payments consume an ever increasing slice of disposable income, etc... all the while the type of dramatic dislocation event similar to 1929, 1987 are unlikely to occur. the market "circuit breakers" ensure any crash is a slow moving trend and not a single calamitous event.
24
bluetwo 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The volatility index, or VIX, has become a popular measurement to reference in the context of predicting the market over the past couple years.

The problem is that it does not seem to have any real predictive power and I have yet to see any shred of evidence that the VIX has been shown to have predictive power over the future value of the stock market.

It is calculated from past price variance and is used in calculating the theoretical price of options, but that is it.

Does anyone have any evidence the VIX has value?

25
csomar 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it make sense to have "marketcap" / GDP if the Nasdaq/DowJones has non US companies like Alibaba? Or is it taking these into account?
26
brookside 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A great read on how to capitalize on the upcoming crash! The Sale of a Lifetime: How the Great Bubble Burst of 2017-2019 Can Make You Rich[1]

Also good is the author's earlier book The Great Crash Ahead [2] "outlining why the next financial crash and crisis is inevitable, and just around the corner coming between mid-2012 and early 2015"

Hmmm...

1. https://www.amazon.com/Sale-Lifetime-Great-Bubble-2017-2019/...

2. https://www.amazon.com/Great-Crash-Ahead-Strategies-Turned/d...

27
Kiro 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I got a "Add Create React App Sample to your home screen" notification on my phone.
28
movedx 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Can you please open source this under an MIT or some license you agree with?
29
apsec112 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think you could estimate much more accurately with the prices of deeply out-of-the-money put options. Those are effectively a betting market on whether stocks will crash or not. We should expect option prices to take into account every major factor (not just these four), because if they didn't, people would get rich by trading on the "missing" info until prices corrected themselves.
30
cs702 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the idea, the simple design, and the humble tone of the byline ("no one knows for sure, but there are indicators that can help us guess. We can chart these indicators to give us the illusion of foresight.").

However, I have two suggestions. First, the numeric rankings (such as "5.5 / 10") need context: why not say something like "10 is the highest value reached in the historical record"?

Second, the explanations you give for chosing these indicators need a bit of work, as evidenced by some of the comments and questions on this thread. Most lay readers won't understand why the ratio of total stock market capitalization to annual GDP is important.

31
grandinj 13 hours ago 1 reply      
The answer is of course: YES.

The more important question is when, and the answer to that is "who knows".

The market is a chaotic system, with severe non-linear responses. As such, it can remain stable much longer than people think, and crash much harder than anyone expects.

32
TekMol 13 hours ago 3 replies      
The page strives solely on it's nice graphics, and sensationalist wording. There is little to no content of substance.

For example the page calculates "Market Overvaluation" as the US stock market value divided by the yearly US GDP. Hilarious.

33
mcguire 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Is this a psychological experiment? All I get on Android Chrome is a white screen.
34
Glyptodon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Question (as someone without domain knowledge): could someone explain what the expected relationship between GDP and total stock market value is? GDP represents non-publicly traded, and even non-private activity, while presumably the stock market's valuation is at least somewhat driven by expectations of future growth/profit, rather than current productivity. I don't doubt that there's a relationship of some kind, but what is the simple ratio actually showing?
35
module0000 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So, if the stock market is hypothetically predicted to crash in 10-25 days - what are you going to do? Short it now? Short it later? Buy?

Just curious what HN readers think. For the giggles...I'm going short when the tape says market sell orders exceed the rate of bid additions, and the opposite for going long. I like long-term analysis as much as the next guy, I just never, ever, ever, ever, ever make decisions based on it.

36
lg 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Could the fact that a lot of US companies book profits overseas and keep them there for tax reasons foil your assumption about the meaning of a high US market cap:domestic GDP ratio?
37
AJRF 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"We can measure Market Overvaluation by looking how much the stock market costs vs how much it is providing." Isn't this the opposite of what the stock market is supposed to provide? I assumed valuations for the most part are guided by what a companies outlook is for the future, not the present.
38
socrates1998 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Low Volatility might actually be an indicator that the stock market is going to blow up, rather than stay calm.

Volatility tends to cluster, and periods with really low volatility are often an indicator that there is a big movement coming.

39
lordnacho 11 hours ago 0 replies      
One could argue that the volatility scale should be the other way round; that the diamond should be showing extreme values on everything other than household debt, which is middling.

The market is normally calm on the way up, which is why you might think its current upward movement will soon be interrupted by a volatile down-move.

40
tome 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Market Volatility section:

Current risk:

NaN / 10

"Calm waters"

(I'm using Edge)

41
sigmar 9 hours ago 1 reply      
>The VIX is generally consistantly low (10 - 15) until it isn't. To get a sense of what a crisis would look like, we can compare to a few historical values.

What's the point of using a metric that can turn on a dime in a predictive model?

42
coverband 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting analysis, but I'd not have included public debt as a risk factor. If anything, increasing public debt provides upward support for the equity market, regardless of whether the money goes to public investments, tax cuts or bad government spending.
43
jostmey 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"We can chart this to give us an illusion of foresight"

Got to respect the Author's humility in foretelling the future

44
cm2187 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Blank page for me. Don't know if it is there but a nice chart is size of the Fed B/S vs S&P 500, since 2005. Suggests a large part of the valuation of stock is generated by QE, which the Fed intends to start withdrawing this year...
45
neilwilson 13 hours ago 0 replies      
'Public Debt' is a private asset. Why is having more wealth a bad thing?

The idea that being 'in credit' with a sovereign government with its own currency is a problem has been thoroughly debunked. Primarily by Japan.

Time to stop repeating the myth.

46
peternicky 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Why does this site report "the stock market is closed"?
47
kmfrk 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If nothing else, I like how this might stir some interesting discussions about the state of the economy.

One thing I'd like is a link to the cited data to make it a little more serious and conducive to debates.

48
rrggrr 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Household debt should be measured against household income and not against GDP.
49
unknown_apostle 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Cute site :-) Btw we have the added issue that the volatility of volatility appears to be rising. Meaning periods of apparent big calm turn into big price swings more rapidly.
50
forbiddenlake 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Says "Stock market is closed" at 10:45AM EDT. Is it really?
51
neom 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Distribution of household debt is to significant to look at the health of the economy in this way, especially so when you look at how the GDP is generated and who is generating it.
52
tambourine_man 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Site's broken on mobile:

http://imgur.com/BD6gzVZ

53
odammit 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Nah, Trump says it's fine. Don't worry about it. It's the best. May see a dip in 2020.
54
malynda 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Another pedantic remark: Next to the clock, you should include a timezone. Very interesting!
55
franciskim 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Lowest volatility ever in 27 or so years according to VIX apparently, which is actually a warning sign.
56
kurtisc 6 hours ago 0 replies      
>Is the *US stock market going to crash?
57
JVIDEL 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is actually a pretty useful site

Don't get to say that a lot around here

58
wuliwong 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the idea. I think it could benefit from some transparency into the calculations.
59
yosito 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I fully expected this to be a page with the single word "Yes."
60
davidreiss 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Only the elite know. It's so funny how people think that recessions, depressions, stock market crashes, etc are some "natural" event.

A stock market crash happens when the elite decide there should be a market crash. When they pull money out of the market.

61
myth_drannon 12 hours ago 0 replies      
You can setup webpack to minify/uglify your source files.
62
iliveinseattle 12 hours ago 0 replies      
market cap as a percent of gdp is a very bad indicator. In today's world a very large and increasing percentage of revenues is derived from outside the U.S.
63
woah 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Diagram doesn't work on safari with Adblock
64
nnd 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What library did you use for the counting animation?
65
mathiasben 12 hours ago 0 replies      
market overvaluation section could do to include the yield spread on bonds as this is sometimes quoted as a volatility risk indicator.
66
petters 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> Create React App Sample

Shows up on Chrome mobile.

67
Sujan 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes.
68
hathym 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The real question is when?
69
artursapek 13 hours ago 1 reply      
A high VIX would indicate that the market is crash-ing.
70
19890903 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Oh dang ! That household debt sure is scary. Where's the real time data sourced from?

> U.S economic risk as of ...

With the click of a button, may be also allow a view of where it was at a point in history...? i.e. U.S economic risk as of [insert point in history]

Great work so far. Simple and usable.

6
Rest and vest: engineers who get paid and barely work businessinsider.com
473 points by SQL2219  1 day ago   317 comments top 51
1
boulos 1 day ago 8 replies      
There seems to be conflation in this article between two very different groups.

Group A is folks who are acquired and have outsized grants that say vest over N years (N between 2 and 4). It turns out the acquisition was probably a mistake, but the acquiring company made it (and won't own up to it). That's what's described in the Facebook and Microsoft examples. This is the classic "rest and vest" scenario (Note: an acquisition is not required, just any outsized grant).

Group B is "just" engineers at Google, Facebook, etc. getting paid really well for not doing much, while hanging out with the lavish perks. I've never heard of anyone refer to this as "rest and vest". In particular, I found this quote disturbing:

> There are a lot 'coasters' who reached a certain level and don't want to work any harder. They just do a 9-5 job, wont work to get promoted, dont want to get promoted.

At Google (and elsewhere), it's considered fine to reach a senior / terminal level and stay there. Is a VP or Director of Engineering lazy if they never move up? Of course not. The same is true of individual contributors.

Finally, the numbers mentioned for compensation are normal for very senior engineers at Google (and again, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.). This isn't "rest and vest", it's just business as usual. I don't particularly agree with the folks who spend their days in classes, taking long lunches, etc. but if they get their work done, what do I care?

2
lisper 1 day ago 4 replies      
It's not just SV that has this phenomenon. I worked at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab from 1988 to 2000. I had risen to the rank of Senior Member of the Technical Staff, the second-highest rung on the technical career ladder. Beyond that there is the rank of Principal, which is very hard to attain. It's essentially the equivalent of getting tenure. It requires peer review. Most engineers never attain it, and I was not optimistic that I ever would. So in 2000 I decided my JPL career had peaked, and so I quit to go work for an obscure little Silicon Valley startup in Mountain View. ;-)

To my surprise, when I announced my departure, a bunch of people suddenly came out of the woodwork to tell me that they really didn't want me to go, including a number of very senior managers. So I used that as leverage to negotiate a deal for myself: I would come back after a year on the condition that I be promoted to Principal. Which is what happened.

The problem was that my promotion did not in any way coincide with JPL's strategic needs for my skills. One of the reasons I had left was because I had been on the losing side of huge political fight (http://www.flownet.com/gat/jpl-lisp.html) and when I returned I couldn't find a project that was willing to take me on. But they couldn't fire me because I was a Principal. So I basically spent the next three years getting paid for doing nothing, and getting pretty depressed about it. It's actually not fun to feel like a parasite, at least it wasn't for me.

3
asah 1 day ago 3 replies      
Can confirm.

But it's not a nefarious thing and the people aren't slackers: 90% of the people who end up in this position are ass-kickers who strive to have impact and get bored: most feel bad about slacking but their bodies and minds simply need a rest. They created BILLIONS in value and even providing tech support, they "pay for themselves" many times over -- that's why companies like Google keep them around.

Subtly: the kind of people who end up resting-and-vesting are precisely the kind of hyper-ambitious people who develop unique knowledge and skills.

4
YANT2017 1 day ago 0 replies      
This article is very misleading. It's not uncommon for engineers who've been instrumental to a key product or development to be given a light duty afterwards. This is primarily because these folks bust their ass and quite literally are exhausted once their project ships. The time with light duty is meant to retain this key talent and give them back some work-life balance. Also if your thing lands and it's big enough you usually get promoted and they want you to focus on soft skill development, literally making friends, so you can go on to do something bigger. My last half, my manager told me that all he wanted me to do this half was make friends. This is because he was giving me space to find the next big thing. When you shift from task oriented work to bigger picture stuff, you can't just start building stuff thinking people will use it. You have to spend time talking to people about what problems they have and see if you can come up with a way to solve them. It's really not unlike a startup in that regard.

There's also the old joke of the mechanic that comes to fix the machine by knowing where to tap with a hammer. So having people around who know where to tap is key. They are well worth what they are getting because sites like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc... can't go down and if they do millions of dollars are burning for each minute those sites are down.

5
WalterBright 1 day ago 1 reply      
I attended Caltech in the era that Feynman was a professor there. I heard he was paid XXX a year. I opined that was ridiculous, who could possibly be worth that much?

An upperclassman laughed and told me that Feynman was worth that much to the university even if he did nothing. Attaching his name to the university brought in donations, grants, and top talent.

Of course, Feynman being Feynman, worked like hell anyway.

6
geff82 1 day ago 5 replies      
Ok, thanks for sharing this. I made this observation for the last 3 years myself, not as an employee even, but as a contractor. I had three positions at two companies, all paying quite high (150k$/year). I changed the positions because the workload was so low that I had an hour of work a day, then pretending I was doing work for the rest of the day which I can't stand for more than a few months. Now I changed again in the hopes of having real work to do, comes out that they contracted me only for "if there will be work in a few months". Interviewing several people on what I can do for them: essentially nothing. "Maybe you could google if using docker would make sense". On the one hand this kind of "work" feeds my family and hives me lots of freedom, but on the other hand it leads to nothing. And I am usually not the only one who has no idea why they are going to work.
7
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 1 reply      
And they wonder why house prices in the bay area are so high. :-(

I started work at Sun Microsystems on the Monday after they had IPO'ed (the previous Friday). It was about a year later when all of the various restrictions on personal stock sales had been lifted that I clued in that some people just didn't care any more about work and it was quietly explained to my shocked ears that these people were now multi-millionaires and working was no longer 'for a living' it was 'for the fun of it.' Or not. And I asked why they didn't just leave and the answer was simple, because it gave them something to do and their friends all worked here. Further many of them had been given additional "refresher" options and the more the stock went up the more they were worth thousands a month in additional value down the road.

I was fascinated to see how the different people responded to that new found wealth and the options it brought with it. For the good ones, it empowers a sort of fearlessness to do the right thing even if you boss doesn't think its the right thing. Or to advocate for an important point that might be politically inconvenient for the company. For some it affected their opinion of everyone else as if they were somehow so much "more" than folks who hadn't been there pre-IPO.

Fortunately most of the latter types left fairly quickly.

I could see how it could easily be the 'best' management choice to have someone like that not putting in too much face time at work. Bad managers control their reports by threatening to fire them, if you can't control them they are a threat to the bad manager, better to keep them far away from anything that could set them off.

That said, if you find yourself in this place the absolute worse thing you can do is to do nothing. Get healthy, learn something, use that 'free' time productively. It isn't like you can get it back later.

8
icelancer 1 day ago 0 replies      
>Medina said he experienced the high-pay, no-work situation early in his career when he was a software engineer in grad school. He finished his project months early, and warned his company he would be leaving after graduation.

>They kept him on for the remaining months to train others on his software but didn't want him to start a new coding project. His job during those months involved hanging out at the office writing a little documentation and being available to answer questions, he recalls.

This isn't a good example. The company budgeted X dollars over Y months for a total comp package of Z for an engineer they knew had a discrete timeline, and the engineer finished in Y-3 months. What should the company do, fire the engineer and save delta-Z? The company got what it wanted and more by having him stick around and answer questions and do documentation work for 8-10 hours a week of "free" labor.

9
ghettoimp 1 day ago 1 reply      
So working 9-5 is "coasting"...? Fuck you. I've got kids.
10
WalterBright 1 day ago 4 replies      
There's something corrosive to the soul about having no purpose in life.

I retired once. It lasted about 6 weeks, then I decided to create the D programming language. I plan to work until my mind no longer functions. I'm not interested in retiring.

11
bane 1 day ago 1 reply      
I did the work-from-home (wfh) thing for about 5 years across two different jobs. The first job was the worst kind of wfh situation because there simply weren't any boundaries between work and home and day work bled into night into weekends.

The second was the other worst kind, paid very well to do almost nothing, and again day nothing bled into night nothing into weekend nothing. I tried to use it to study things or learn other topics, but every once in a while I'd be needed for a few days, go and put a fire out and be back home doing not much at all. The reason for the situation was a disastrous corporate management. However, the situation was so great in theory (get paid top-10 metro senior pay to do nothing at all) that I actually had a hard time changing jobs because I kept telling myself I actually enjoyed screwing around.

Given a binary choice of one or the other I'd actually choose the second job again, but I'd structure my days very differently and try to be much more productive. The good news is that life isn't binary, and I'm in a place now where I work most days in an office, but can wfh when I need to, and rigorously control my schedule so work and home-life don't intersect. I took a pay cut, but I love this current work much more than either of those two jobs (and my wife is much happier as well) -- lessons learned I guess.

12
brendangregg 1 day ago 0 replies      
I know the rest and vest type. It can be demoralizing for others to know that some in the company aren't pulling their weight, because they got lucky in the past with stock offers.

It's one of the many reasons I like Netflix. We allow engineers to be paid almost entirely in cash. No one is resting and vesting that I know of -- not only because we wouldn't tolerate unmotivated people -- but because there's no vesting schedule that I know of. AFAIK, you can leave any time with everything. If you want to leave, then leave. We'd rather hold onto people that actually want to stay and get stuff done, and be self motivated.

13
ChemicalWarfare 1 day ago 0 replies      
The article lumps few different scenarios under the sensationalist "look, ppl are making shit ton of $$$ and are barely working!!!" umbrella.

None of the scenarios are unique to SV or even IT world in general, the only "shock factor" is the compensation figures.

But again, most of the scenarios are pretty typical to corporate environments. Unless you're on some "kick ass all-star" team, once you start growing you can cruise if you choose to.

What struck me as odd is the "Just dont talk about it and everyone will assume you're on someone elses team" bit. Can't really picture an environment where a person doesn't show up the next day and everyone just "assumes" they are on a different team now...

14
IBM 1 day ago 4 replies      
This is probably why Apple, a hardware company, has operating margins that are higher than Google and Microsoft (even though their gross margins are almost half of Google's and Microsoft's).

The only person I can think of that might have this arrangement at Apple is Scott Forstall. I think that's why he's been radio silent until very recently (or he could just be very loyal to Apple). Maybe Katie Cotton when they changed their approach to PR from wartime to peacetime, but that could just be a regular retirement.

I mostly don't understand how Google and Microsoft employ so many people, or what they even do.

>"I've actually had a number of people, including today at Google X, ... send me pictures of themselves on a roof, kicking back doing nothing, with the hashtag 'unassigned' or 'rest and vest.' It's something that really happens, and apparently, somewhat often," the actor Brener told Business Insider's Melia Robinson last year.

Called it a year ago [1]:

>I've speculated for a long time that basically anything interesting Google says they're doing is essentially meant to be a jobs program to keep employees from leaving, PR for external stakeholders like investors, media, being attractive to potential employees, etc. They seem to have lots of formal ways to keep employees from leaving/close as well including investments off of Google's balance sheet (not GV or Google Capital) into ex-employee startups and just flat out paying people not to leave (which is the arrangement I'm guessing that Matt Cutts is under). It all seems very Microsoft of old.Can anyone at Google (or ex-employees) tell me if this is true?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12410662

15
pixelmonkey 1 day ago 6 replies      
One of the interesting trends of the past 10 years is the degree to which "big tech" has replaced "big finance" as the place for the elite to go to collect huge paychecks for relatively "nice" white collar work.

It makes total sense for top SV engineers to get paid well, IMO. But I am afraid working for these big tech firms is starting to have that feeling of "elite pedigree" that pervades complacent industries, like finance.

In 2002-2006, one could have written a similar article, but about top staff at Goldman, Morgan, UBS, etc. There were plenty of $300k-$500k salaries being paid for maintenance work for profitable business lines.

Options and RSUs are an interesting twist in Silicon Valley. To compete with the stock option packages given out by startups to early employees, Google and Facebook grant RSUs (and similar) instead. In Wall Street, the "golden handcuffs" used to be a near-guarantee of a year-on-year raise, an end-of-year cash bonus, and a track toward promotions that had built-in pay increases. No one wanted to throw away their time invested in a single firm. SV firms are different in that turnover is high, so vesting acts to counteract that. They have such fast-growing stock values, the stock grants can also be used in lieu of bonuses. Plus, to management, it really is "funny money" that does not actually increase operating expense.

Anyway, though the mechanics are different, it seems the net result is the same. "Golden handcuffs" are as real in tech as they are in finance.

The saddest reflection I have on reading this article is on how capitalism seems to value different professions wrongly.

These salaries are bigger than top specialist physician salaries. And physicians need 12-17 years of post-undergrad training, as well as often requiring $200k of medical school student loan debt.

It just seems like if Google and Facebook can afford to pay this price for engineers (who add leveraged value via their software contributions), capitalism should figure out how to pay doctors more, as well.

And go down the list of other "non-BS, but comparatively underpaid" professions like teachers, firefighters, etc. They could all use a compensation upgrade.

But what is the exact mechanism that is making it so finance and tech are among the only fields where labor compensation is commensurate with leveraged value-add?

16
capkutay 1 day ago 3 replies      
These engineers are worth more to them just sitting around relaxing, being content with their lives instead of taking a high octane job at a competitor or startup that will eventually compete with one of their smaller services (mail, ad analytics, etc).
17
user5994461 1 day ago 1 reply      
> There are a lot 'coasters' who reached a certain level and don't want to work any harder. They just do a 9-5 job, wont work to get promoted, dont want to get promoted.

Finally someone who understands how being an employee works. You are paid to be present ~ 40 hours a week, as stated in your contract.

Working twice as hard and killing your week end has no point and you won't get promoted. Don't bother.

18
seattle_spring 1 day ago 1 reply      
I would argue that the vast majority of software engineers in the US are actually overworked and make close to middle-class wages. It's really unfortunate seeing articles like this, because it reinforces everyone outside of tech's stereotypes that us engineers are lazy, overpaid slobs.
19
lettersdigits 1 day ago 1 reply      
> "Most of my friends at Google work four hours a day. They are senior engineers and don't work hard. They know the Google system, know when to kick into gear. They are engineers, so they optimized the performance cycles of their own jobs," one engineer described.

Is this really prevalent at Google?

edit:quotes

20
zw123456 1 day ago 2 replies      
Yes, but the Wall Street CEO's are sooooo hard working. Give me a break. I once worked for a company whose CEO completely ran the thing into the ground and eventually got fired but got paid millions anyhow. I jokingly said I could have ruined the company for half what they paid that meathead.

I think the real scandal is the ridiculous amounts of money CEO's get paid for doing nothing in a lot of cases. The money these "high paid engineers" are getting is peanuts compared to the sums these CEO's are getting.

Sorry for the rant, but it just stuck in my craw a little.

21
0xbear 1 day ago 1 reply      
This actually dates back decades. DEC invented "no output division": a team comprised of senior but bored people who would be unfashionable and dangerous to kick out. You give them some bullshit bling project and segregate them well from people who are actually doing meaningful work so that they don't get in the way. It's better if they do something meaningless for you than something meaningful for a competitor.
22
spraak 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, at my current position I am certainly resting, but not vesting, so I'm torn about what to do. On one hand, I have lots of time to do my own projects, but instead I've been very lazy and mostly read HN :/ and on the other hand, I am at the low end of the pay spectrum for my experience. I'd rather be paid more, but I don't want to have to work harder for it than I am now.

Wow, I am silly.

Edit: I mean that the company has not IPO'd and I don't own any stock/equity as a remote contractor.

23
natch 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've posted before that I suspect this is the trouble with a lot of Google services that don't always seem to get the love they deserve. People who are well on their way to vesting just aren't hungry anymore, and can't be bothered to care. Not limited to Google of course.
24
hendzen 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder how much of this is due to non-voting shares being sold to the public that prevent an activist investor from being able to push the board to trim the fat?
25
jokoon 1 day ago 2 replies      
I wonder what kind of work they do that makes them so unique and indispensable. I also heard stories about engineers who did not share how their code worked, so that the company would not risk firing them.
26
master_yoda_1 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was at a startup (which pay high salary) and for 6 month I don't have work. I thought its a red flag and I decided to leave. 4 month after that the startup closed down the office because it did not get further funding.

So yes salary was good, benefits where good, there was no work, but "there is no free lunch".

27
cylinder 1 day ago 2 replies      
All's good when the stock price is inflated. The reckoning (cost cutting) will come.
28
rb808 1 day ago 1 reply      
Google is sounding more like IBM every year.
29
kelvin0 1 day ago 0 replies      
Legendary slacker story:http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/17/business/us-outsource-job-chin...

Don't work hard, work smart :)

30
peterburkimsher 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is it unethical to keep a chair warm when my boss didn't give me new tasks to do?

For other areas of life (immigration), I need to get more years of continuous relevant work experience.

I come to an office every day, but my boss just doesn't have enough to keep me busy. My job title is "Project Engineer", which is vague enough to cover everything from DLL debugging to Node.JS programming to network monitoring to evaluating Advanced Planning systems. The latest task is to do some online course in machine learning, even though he didn't specify how the company will need it.

On bad days, I feel useless. But I reconcile the situation to myself by saying it's basically a "basic income" (the salary is not high; the minimum that people on my visa can have). I could think about changing after I have the years of work experience, but years just come with patience, not with productivity. I feel like my situation isn't "fair" because my friends are so much more stressed, but I need the years, not the results.

I also do a lot of side projects and post them online (e.g. learning Chinese - http://pingtype.github.io ), but my contract and visa specifically state that I can't have any other paid work. So all my projects must be free and open source.

If another rest-and-vest person wants to comfort their conscience, I suggest reading more about Basic Income theories.

31
shoefly 1 day ago 2 replies      
This happened to me once. I ended up coding my own personal projects at the "host" company to pass the time. Otherwise, I would have gone nuts.
32
jayd16 1 day ago 0 replies      
So...the age old concept of "Fuck You" Money?

This is more an indictment of the work hours/pressure on average engineer.

33
freyir 1 day ago 4 replies      
> "They are really good engineers, really indispensable. And then they start to pull 9-5 days"

Worthless slackers.

34
jaequery 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think this happens to EVERY companies out there. The higher up you go, there are just less to do since all you are doing is delegating your jobs.

It becomes a problem though when problems do arise and you coasted for so long that you have no idea what is going on and where.

35
banku_brougham 23 hours ago 1 reply      
I notice ther was no mention of amazon, but that is a large tech company with 10s of thousands of engineers. Anyone have an amzn rest and vest story?
36
nodnyl 18 hours ago 0 replies      
What strikes me about this as someone working outside all this, is how ridiculously profitable advertising is!. Its kind of weird that it is so much more profitable to show people pictures of things they could spend their money on, than actually taking their money.
37
NTDF9 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the common saying,

"The hardest thing about working at Google was the job interview to get the job in the first place."

38
ComodoHacker 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, this highly connotates with https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14945045
39
maxxxxx 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think it's not only engineers. I know several people who are either corporate lawyers or other long-time managers who pretty much go to meetings the whole day because they have nothing real to do. They all are pulling good money but feeling like they are not doing much seems to take a psychological toll.
40
adamnemecek 1 day ago 2 replies      
So what exactly does indispensable engineer mean? How many people making more than 1M a year are at each of these companies?
41
feelin_googley 1 day ago 0 replies      
"It's a defensive measure."

"That's Microsoft Research's whole model."

?

42
p0nce 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sad to see tech giants not recapturing carbon with their unlimited money.
43
Swizec 1 day ago 3 replies      
> she had been killing herself to make it more successful and protect her people from losing their jobs over it.

> As tired as she was, she couldn't just quit this job. She owed a big chunk of money in taxes thanks to that stock and needed her salary to pay those taxes.

> after getting violently ill at the thought of going to work

Burned out and trapped by debt. Not a great place to be even with the $1mm/year compensation. Most of which is illiquid I assume.

44
JohnJamesRambo 1 day ago 2 replies      
Why are programmers called engineers these days? An engineer has an engineering degree and does something completely different than computer programming.
45
rebootthesystem 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I've seen a different kind of behavior. It consists of taking a project that could be done in six months and stretching it over two to five years. And, yes, it looks pathetic and absolutely ridiculous when viewed with the eyes of a "get shit done every day" entrepreneur, yet it seems that in some of these environments this can become acceptable behavior in some strange-as-fuck way. I think it's soul-sucking depressing.
46
k__ 1 day ago 3 replies      
Aren't companies like McKinsey more efficient?

They have the rule that you either get better and a promotion or you will be fired.

So they only keep people that improve every year or they get new people.

47
loeg 1 day ago 0 replies      
Where do I sign up for that job?
48
joejerryronnie 1 day ago 2 replies      
Or, as a recently bought out/retired colleague remarked, "My job now consists of being home all day and trying not to piss off my wife" - a much harder endeavor than any engineering project I can think of.
49
liveoneggs 1 day ago 1 reply      
50
needlessly 20 hours ago 1 reply      
51
mklarmann 1 day ago 0 replies      
It pains me that the article speaks obviously of a female manager. But then often the writer unwillingly mixes it up, and makes her a male. It smells a bit like gender bias.
7
Cheap Beijing Flights With a Dangerous Catch seat31b.com
593 points by msh  1 day ago   246 comments top 46
1
greenyoda 1 day ago 14 replies      
Companies like this have been around for years, and whenever I read about them I'm surprised that people would risk going to prison (or worse) just to get a discounted air fare. I wouldn't even carry a package for a friend unless I could see exactly what was inside, let alone carry a suitcase full of unknown stuff for a total stranger.

Also, an inevitable question when going through security checkpoints in some countries is "did you pack your own luggage". I assume that if you answer "no", you'd be subjected to a very thorough search for bombs or contraband.

Calling a company "Airmule" seems to be a particularly bad choice, since the term "mule" is commonly used to denote a person who carries smuggled drugs (sometimes concealed inside their body).

2
Someone 1 day ago 3 replies      
https://www.airmule.com/terms-of-service/:

"Please note that, as stated above, the site, application and services are intended to be used to facilitate travelers and senders connecting and arranging item transportation directly with each other. Airmule cannot and does not control the content contained in any package and the condition, legality or suitability of any items and luggage. Airmule strongly advises each traveler to inspect each item carefully. If a traveler does suspects an item is illicit, do not transport and contact airmule. Airmule is not responsible for and disclaims any and all liability related to any and all available transportation. Accordingly, any inquiries will be made or accepted at the members own risk."

I don't know how long that has been there, but it is clear. They are brokers, but don't accept any liability.

3
wjnc 1 day ago 2 replies      
I cringe when I read such Trumpian tweets from a founder. The journalist reached out a few times and the response was unclear. So he writes his piece with a pretty clear warning to future customers. Get your PR and compliance straight if you want to avoid such pieces, don't complain afterwards while calling names.

Caveat emptor. Just those responses are a red flag, if the subject is legal risk surrounding smuggling to PRC. They don't want you to know.

4
jimjimjim 1 day ago 4 replies      
If you can't answer a yes no question without wishy-washy flim-flam pr doublespeak then you don't get to complain that an article doesn't have facts.

and while i'm ranting. what is with founders presenting them selves as "bro's at the bar"?If the founders had bios that looked like they were from upper management at ibm i might be more likely to use their service.

5
kaishiro 1 day ago 2 replies      
I find responses like those given from the co-founder here infuriating for some reason - far more so than I realistically should. I've always valued transparency when it comes to business, so when I see people dancing around straight answers and then lashing out when people take issue with said responses it just seems so remarkably childish.
6
zbjornson 1 day ago 2 replies      
I don't know anything about airmule's operation or China's customs/security, but the on-board courier industry is a legitimate one that has regulations and procedures that it's not clear the author of this article is aware of.

> "We have found contraband in [courier] shipments," says U.S. Customs official Bob Fischler, "but percentage-wise it is infinitisemal. And in any seizure we made, it was obvious that the on-board courier had nothing to do with it." In fact, at New York' JFK and at London's Heathrow airport, because of the sheer volume of courier shipments, all courier pouches go to a central location for clearance. The courier is typically dismissed before customs physically inspects the shipments.

- From Air Courier Bargains by Kelly Monaghan.

7
inertial 1 day ago 1 reply      
Quite a few companies operate in this space. This business idea & its risks have been discussed on HN more than once. I'm surprised that some of these are still around. A likely pivot for these could be to carry specific goods where there are no "dangerous" side effects e.g. importing smartphones, laptops etc. Although they still are not exactly legal.

- https://grabr.io/en/

- http://www.entrusters.com/

- https://backpackbang.com/home

- https://www.piggybee.com/en/

- https://worldcraze.com/

- http://www.canubring.com/

- https://www.manyship.com/

8
Sapph 1 day ago 3 replies      
There's another company that lets travelers subsidize their flight ticket / earn money for delivering US products to their destination:

https://grabr.io/travel

Key difference is:

You buy the products locals ordered (locals pay for item + delivery fee upfront into escrow) so there's no risk of a third party hiding drugs or illegal materials.

9
jstoja 1 day ago 1 reply      
Founder of a startup, having a major article killing your company and "don't have time on a Saturday with my family to engage".

I understand that family is important, but isn't a situation like this so important that you - at least - replace some time next week by 2hours now to answer to this article?!

Edit: made me think about this xkcd https://xkcd.com/386/

10
marcosscriven 1 day ago 0 replies      
I can just see it at the airport. "Did you pack your bags yourself?". I guess at 40 I'm not the target audience for this, but I'd be worried a younger person trying to save money might end up paying a high price.The name 'airmule' doesn't do it any favours either.
11
Animats 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's significant that the business is about shipments from the US to China. That seems to be hard. Getting stuff shipped from China to the US seems to be ridiculously easy and fast. You can order stuff off Alibaba and get fast delivery via China Packet, which is a postal service with really good rates for China to the US. Delivery in the US is via the USPS.The other direction is much more expensive and slower.

The US needs to renegotiate postal rates with China. China is still getting the "developing country" discount from the USPS.

12
chx 1 day ago 0 replies      
It was not so long ago that the CBP stopped a business courier off a flight from Guatemala who happened to carry nine pounds of heroin. Because he was a courier, he was not criminally charged, nonetheless he was barred from entry and banned for at least five years. And that's the USA, not China.

http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/cbp_officers_seize_...

13
nebabyte 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Plus, you really have to love the founders of this company. I mean, as a startup founder myself, Im rooting for them. One is a hardcore gamer, the other is a former backup dancer for Gucci Mane, and the third loves beer more than you do. Im not making this upthis is what they say about themselves on their Web page

This guy clearly doesn't get it. Your startup page is where you post a phip relatable quirky attribute, whereas your actual qualifications go in single-phrase sentences on your twitter bio and after your name on quora answers

/s, hopefully obviously

14
skrause 1 day ago 0 replies      
Before clicking on the article I thought that the dangerous catch was that you have to sit in seat 31B and wondered why. The article's title and site name should really be differentiated better in HN's title.
15
jfoutz 1 day ago 2 replies      
This makes me super curious about the pre flight baggage controls. How do they handle someone who picks up the extra bag, but winds up not taking the flight?

With baby formula, i'd just return the bag and apologize, eating the $99. Heroin on the other hand, i could probably move at a steep discount. $1k or so, not worth the risk. $10 or $20k? hmm. The bag needs to be worth at least $1000 in the target country, just to break even.

it seems like pretending to be a stoner, and setting up enough to buy a plane ticket could get you a lot of money for $99. Fake id and a prepaid credit card aren't that hard to come by. It's not like the ID needs to pass TSA inspection, as you're not taking the flight.

Seems like a very risky business. If your customers are willing to be pasties, it'll be ok. but just a couple of sharks completely change the risk profile. Doing stuff that precludes government enforcement of contracts is just crazy crazy risky.

16
BayesStreet 1 day ago 1 reply      
On their website they state "Airmule then manually inspects and verifies each item prior to packaging for a traveler."but I doubt this company that started last year has more experience finding contraband than law enforcement doing it their whole lives who have seen everything. Pretty asymmetric risk profile, save a couple hundred bucks for potentially your life.
17
smsm42 1 day ago 1 reply      
Looks quite shady, especially given we're talking about China. Anything being wrong with the package - not even drugs - that'd be insanely bad - but I'm sure there are many other things which require special papers to get into China, or are prohibited, and if something is wrong, it's the courier's ass on the line. I don't see how it could be worth the risk of being imprisoned in China. I mean it's one thing to be in a "gray area" as an American in the US, with all legal protections and ACLU and so on, and another thing doing the same in China...

And I wonder what TSA thinks about people transporting things that they have little idea about in their luggage?

18
csomar 1 day ago 0 replies      
The founder is lame and as /u/wjnc mentioned he has a trump-like behavior. The question is very simple: If there is drugs in the shipment, does the traveller get a FREE pass?

The article is lengthy and kind of make this question vague. In my understanding it is a single question: Who bares the responsibility?

Well, it is you the poor traveller. There is no way in hell you can accept such a deal even if you are flying for Free. In fact, if you are, ask yourself the question: Do free meals really exist?

19
reuven 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm glad that the author of this travel blog is warning people against using Airmule. Someone is going to get in a heckuva lot of trouble.

First: I can only imagine, when checking my bags, getting the question, "Did anyone give you anything to bring on the flight?" and answering, "Yes, my entire 2nd bag belongs to someone else who is paying for half of my ticket."

That alone would be enough to give you extra-special scrutiny when checking in.

But let's assume that you get through security, go on your flight, and arrive. I've traveled to China many times, and have thus put my bag through the customs/airport scanner many times. If they find anything illegal -- and in China, that can mean all sorts of stuff -- you are in Big Trouble. I haven't ever seen anyone pulled aside when going through customs in China, but I don't envy them.

And sure, Airmule can say that they've inspected things, and that this is safe and fun, etc. Just try telling the Chinese customs officials that the drugs don't belong to you, but rather to a startup in Silicon Valley. I'm sure they'll be very attentive.

Airmule's site attempts to calm potential couriers' nerves by saying, "Read this Wikitravel article." (Reference: http://wikitravel.org/en/Air_courier) However, the article says, very clearly:

> You need to be very careful about the legitimacy of the jobs you take. The last thing you want is to be caught > transporting contraband (or worse) on a plane. A good way to avoid this is to use an agent (usually a > representative of the service you are working for), who will take you through customs and clear the contents.> Always check the reputation of the courier company before booking. None which are reliable and legitimate > would ever try to ship anything illegal.

Airmule doesn't promise to have an agent on the arrival side. They do promise that they'll "walk you through" things, but that's very different from physically being there in China and claiming the luggage and any responsibility for it.

The idea is a good one in theory, but as executed, it's half baked -- and might lead to executions of a more literal sort, if people aren't careful.

20
bogomipz 1 day ago 0 replies      
From their FAQ:

"We don't just ship any item that comes through our front door. Airmule only partners with TSA certified shipping companies.

"Under their Certified Cargo Screening Program, the TSA certifies cargo screening facilities throughout the United States to screen cargo prior to providing it to airlines for shipment on passenger flights." [1]

The TSA however does not search for drugs however from the TSA's site:

"TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other drugs."[2]

[1] https://airmule.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/115005116068--...

[2] https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?search=marij...

21
zupa-hu 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, they claim they can have the cake and eat it too - as in, ship the bag as non-personal carrier stuff to avoid prison, and ship it as personal non-carrier stuff to pass customs. Bold.
22
grecy 1 day ago 0 replies      
I frequently fly international with zero checked bags and about 5lbs of carry on.

I would love to be able to do so for $99 if someone wants to on-sell my checked allowance.

After reading the article I see the pitfalls I had never thought of, and would obviously want some extremely, extremely clear legalities to make it very clear the bags are not mine, and I'm not bringing them into any country.

No, I did not pack them and, no, I am not bringing them into your country.

23
micah94 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wait...let me get this straight: You carry a package on a plane to China given to you by someone you don't even know? This is a joke, right?
24
bisRepetita 1 day ago 1 reply      
Real life example of a Guatemalan OBC unknowingly bringing heroin into the US: he was deemed not responsible quickly, and got expelled right away with no right to come back for 5 years.

http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/cbp_officers_seize_...

25
fencepost 1 day ago 0 replies      
I haven't heard about air couriers for years, but I don't travel much. That said, I was under the impression that for basically all of them the package being couriered was never in the possession of the traveler but was instead packaged as freight and was delivered to the airline as such and handled as such at the receiving end. If the "courier" in question wanted to drop it off or pick it up themselves they'd still have to go to the appropriate air freight terminal.

If these folks are providing packages to travelers to be checked directly by the traveler then they're idiots and so is anyone who takes them up on the offer. If not for the defensive tweets, etc. I'd feel that (as someone else noted) this must be a satire of the 'gig' economy.

26
skinnymuch 1 day ago 0 replies      
Soylent being tongue in cheek with their name is one thing. But Airmule? Why would they want to associate themselves with the most common border crossing association with mules - drug mules? Besides the whole arrangement seeming bad, the name choice is horrible.
27
asdfologist 1 day ago 0 replies      
Risk of a death penalty for accidentally smuggling heroin? They couldn't pay me to take this flight.
28
overcast 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't carry checked bags for the specific reason that I don't want to deal with checked bags. I guess this is for people who want to be as cheap as possible, while simultaneously being as inconvenienced as possible.
29
chrischen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why not just specifically operate in the market of importing baby formula in China.

You can easily subsidize a flight ticket with a checked luggage full of baby formula and for extra security the mule can go buy the formula him or herself.

30
srathi 1 day ago 0 replies      
From their FAQ

Airmule then manually inspects and verifies each item prior to packaging for a traveler. We also guarantee that 100% of the items shipped through our service are safe for travel on commercial aviation.

This is classic lawyer speech (notice the words "safe for travel on commercial aviation"). This just means that there are no harmful things to a plane, but they don't say anything about 'safe for customs'.

31
icbm504 1 day ago 0 replies      
I like the idea but in the world we live in (post 9/11), it is a major security violation.
32
Karliss 1 day ago 0 replies      
If airplane companies take into account that certain percentage of passengers will not arrive and overbook flights wouldn't they also take into account that most passengers will have less than maximum allowed baggage?
33
blisterpeanuts 1 day ago 1 reply      
When I was studying in Taiwan in the early 80s, the island's high tariffs motivated travelers to carry suitcases full of stuff--Walkmans, cameras, Italian shoes, etc. Contact a guy in Hong Kong, he gives you a bag, a guy in Taipei picks it up and gives you NT5000, enough to pay for your ticket.

I never got up the courage to try it myself, but friends did. My girlfriend did it once.

Looking back, I realize how exceedingly stupid this was. Had there been heroin inside that camera, you were going to prison for the rest of your life. They didn't (and still don't) screw around.

I heard all sorts of stories. An Australian backpacker was caught at Korean customs with 50 Rolex watches stuffed in his shirt. He was sent up for ten years. Numerous young Americans and Europeans busted for drug smuggling were rotting in prison in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. At the time, with these countries technically allied with us against Red China, execution was not a politically feasible alternative.

This Mule thing is just another respin of an old practice. Best to avoid.

34
jliptzin 1 day ago 1 reply      
If someone came to me with this business idea I'd chuckle and say haha, good one. Of course assuming that it is some joke. It boggles my mind that apparently 3 (presumably reasonable?) people have decided to seriously pursue this idea. It's so bad on so many different levels it may actually be the worst business idea I have ever heard.
35
thedogeye 1 day ago 0 replies      
36
m3kw9 1 day ago 0 replies      
So if they missed a small pack of drugs that some slipped in there, some ones life is ruined
37
rpmcmurphy 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some startups just need to die in a fire. This is one of them. (Theranos is another one).
38
smegel 1 day ago 0 replies      
"We'll pay you to take this bag on the airplane for us.".

Yeah...nah.

39
seannyang 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Cheers everyone, this is Sean Yang, CEO and cofounder of Airmule, the air courier startup with an admittedly strange name that you might have read about earlier today.

Is Airmule legal?

On Board Couriers (OBC) have existed over decades. Their purpose is to service cargo that needs to be delivered in a timely manner. Its quite an expensive service, often servicing auto parts, airplane parts, important documents, passports, NASA parts, etc. Costs can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. To become an OBC is simple, just call any OBC company and register on their list. In our case, we simply request you to list your trip. The OBC companies size doesnt have to be the same as Fedex, UPS or any airline cargo department. As long as they follow the TSAs IAC regulation, only ship items from a Known Shipper, and have the cargo secured in a locked area inaccessible by outsiders. At Airmule, we have a surveillance camera over cargo 24/7. (49 CFR 1544.228, 1546.213, 1548.15, 1548.16, and 1548.7.)

So yes, OBCs are totally legal, as well as all OBC companies. I see many ask the answer to Did you pack everything yourself question. The answer is to be honest with Airline company No, I didnt. Im an OBC and I have the manifest, and I know whats inside my luggage.

Every single traveler will receive a manifest prior to receiving Airmule shipments Airmule is 100% responsible for the items on the list.There are items we dont accept if they dont comply with our policy or the destination country customs policy:

For example:

1. Powdery items.2. Pills, medicine, prescriptions3. Unclear liquids (wine, etc.)4. Live plants5. Animal products (elephant teeth, fur items, etc.)6. Counterfeit items

If the Shipment is for commercial purposes, we will declare through the proper channel. We contract with a professional customs brokerage company for every single country we service. In that case, couriers simple leave the item at customs, a receipt will be issued by Customs, and Airmule will handle it onsite, couriers will be relieved from duty at that point. Airmule is not Smuggling. We do pay duty on behalf of shippers. Our shipping policy is very restrictive with Senders responsible for all duty fees.

For those who likes the name, we cant do anything about it. Regardless of what we are called; it sounds like you dont want to work with us. We just hope one day, when you need something urgently, that Airmule is a better and more affordable option to help with delivery, and saves your day.

Airmule has been running for almost 2 years, weve helped thousands of travelers to see the world they never were able to see before. The deal we post is 100% authentic, but a very limited offer. In appreciation of your time to read this, wed like to give a bonus for $100 if you use coupon ISupportAirmule when list your trip. If you still have concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at sean@airmule.com

40
illuminati1911 1 day ago 2 replies      
While I agree with most of the article, I don't understand the part where the author is complaining about the bios of the founders/managers.

It's a startup, not old slow mega-corporation where making a joke will get you fired.

41
bberrry 1 day ago 5 replies      
Is 31B a reference I'm missing? It didn't come up in the article body.
42
gweinberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
What are the odds the whole thing is an elaborate joke?
43
skrebbel 1 day ago 0 replies      
Could this be performance art?
44
baybal2 1 day ago 0 replies      
China United Airlines once did the route for CNY488 with carry on only
45
exabrial 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is 100% illegal no doubt
46
erikrothoff 1 day ago 4 replies      
Besides the quite unnecessary personal attack on the founders ("One is a hardcore gamer, the other is a former backup dancer for Gucci Mane, and the third loves beer more than you do. Im not making this upthis is what they say about themselves on their Web page") I feel the writer did nothing to back up his claim. The "clear as mud" answer from the founder "same as all OBCs" was a really weird thing to leave up to interpretation of the reader. Nowhere did the writer enlighten me about the actual rights of an On Board Courier. I found this article really lacking in substance, sorry.
8
A checklist of marketing ideas for side projects sideprojectchecklist.com
557 points by karlhughes  1 day ago   57 comments top 23
1
FHMS 19 hours ago 4 replies      
"Cold call ~20 people who might be good customers."

IMHO this is probably the first! thing you should do. To my own surprise people will give you money for your service even if you don't have a websites (and name, logo, slogan or anything else), and you send your 'product' via email.

And 3 out of 4 ideas don't survive these 20 calls - so you'll save a lot of time if you sell first and build later.

Emotionally that's not easy - of course - but it's what you will be doing all day anyway if it goes well, so why not start early?

2
mhoad 1 day ago 1 reply      
I do a lot of this stuff professionally so I was interested to take a look at an "outsiders" approach to this. Honestly, you've done an incredibly good job on this. Great suggestions!
3
albertgoeswoof 21 hours ago 0 replies      
There are so many things to do here- on top of actually building the side project itself. It's probably worth reading and understanding the benefits of each activity and then prioritising the ones that work for your business.

Just be careful not to deprioritize items because they're outside your comfort zone.

4
tonyedgecombe 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Don't forget to create the product as well.
5
vram22 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I like the way you have gone about this - very systematic and seems somewhat comprehensive (though of course more points may be added over time). Thanks for making it.
6
archon810 2 hours ago 0 replies      
You should probably describe what Triberr is next to its mention, because their site is absolutely useless (at least on mobile).
7
cstpdk 22 hours ago 2 replies      
Great list! Might there be a market / an interest in a dashboard + chatbot for taking care of these things? Keeping track of milestones, doing the trivial signups an presenting how the different initiatives are performing and can be tuned?
8
deerpig 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is brilliant, but it's in markdown. I've converted it to emacs orgmode so I can use org checklists and integrate into my todo list.

https://github.com/deerpig/side-project-marketing/blob/maste...

9
Roedou 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great resource. The one name in there I didn't recognize was '7search'; I clicked through, but it seems to have shut down within the last week, so you can probably remove that.
10
j_s 1 day ago 1 reply      
Do you have time to explain your choices and/or process as you used a static website generator + theme for this project's web site when it appears to be optimized for blogging?

Right now I'm looking at Hugo + Kube but there are so many not-normal things to use (Hugo + Github Pages all in source control but publishing different branches / folders, Kube using not-normal-Hugo stuff since it's got non-blog stuff, etc.) Is there a one-stop zero-to-hero guide anywhere for this kind of thing?

11
OjelaFunderbunk 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great start! I noticed that 90% deals with MARCOM strategy with a bit of SWOT thrown-in too.

As someone who is responsible for bringing products to market on a daily basis, there is a considerable amount of strat being omitted which will better prepare you.

Pricing. Determine where you want to position your product in the market. Identify the competitors that compete on price vs the one's that compete on quality. Determine where you want to position your products and which competitors to go after. This should help you determine which customers you want to market towards as well. It also helps you determine the effort you can apply to each channel. [Spend more time on the difficult customer to obtain]. Michael Jordan didn't become Michael Jordan by practicing his dunk. He purposely worked on the weakest part of his game to make him the greatest.

12
pgeorgep 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow, love it! Has anyone put this on PH yet?

Another one to add would be a LinkedIn bot for auto profile viewing. It's a pretty efficient way for people to see you viewed their profile, they view yours back, and check out your site/project.

13
vitomd 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Very well done. I really like checklists, I use them as my todo list, project organizer and general stuff. So I created Sorter to help me: is a webapp to organize ideas, tasks and information using bullet points and hashtags. Its open source if you want to check https://github.com/vitogit/sorter
14
davkap92 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice idea thanks! One suggestion maybe add some sort of priority marking/ time spent for each one, as I would say some are definitely higher priority than others
15
huhtenberg 20 hours ago 3 replies      
> Free Promotional Channels / Write and distribute a Press Release.

For smaller projects this does not work at all. All it does is it attracts spam from various Indian "wire services" and that's it.

> Paid Promotional Channels / StumbleUpon

Only if you want to see how a 100% bounce rate with sub-second page stays looks like. Absolutely useless otherwise, although it is very attractively priced.

16
icecoldrocks 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a shared workflowy of the checklist for anyone who wants to use it:https://workflowy.com/s/FSjJ.Z6V7qfO5CD
17
nathan_f77 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really, really helpful. I will try to do all of these things for the project I'm currently working on. But man, cold calling 20 people is going to be so much harder than actually building the thing.
18
ktian00 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Very comprehensive in detailing practical options for each step. Thank you!
19
orblivion 1 day ago 1 reply      
People hitting F5 on HN/Show/New is a great place to find people interested in promoting their side projects. Well played :-) (and thanks)
20
patrickbolle 1 day ago 0 replies      
Thank you!! Launched a few weeks ago but still very useful.
21
pryelluw 21 hours ago 1 reply      
I did not see under which license you released the downloadable content. Mind sharing it here?

If you havent licensed it, one from creative commons might fit.

22
placebo 1 day ago 1 reply      
That's neat, thanks.
23
mezod 1 day ago 0 replies      
very timely
9
There Have Always Existed People Whove Simply Wanted to Be Alone hazlitt.net
417 points by fern12  2 days ago   164 comments top 28
1
nabla9 2 days ago 9 replies      
Being alone and hiking and camping in the wilderness without human contact for longer period can be amazing experience. There can be initial anxiety and intense desire to go back after romance goes away and your internal shit comes to light. When there is constant need for do chores to survive but also free time and no human contact, no books, radio or music, mind gradually settles into itself.

It's like coming from bright light into a dark room. Gradually your eyes adjust and you start to see more. Coming back into the civilization is similar to someone pointing flashlight into your eyes. So much external triggers for behaviour. Realizing that I'm not actually me with other people and I'm disappearing into network of others. Me with others is mainly just bunch of triggers that fire based on conditioning.

If I can feel intense otherworldliness from just week or month alone, I imagine that if someone spends decades alone, civilization might seem like miserable alien ant colony. Everybody is responding to commands from others and carrying stuff they don't care about.

ps. It also can trigger psycosis, panic or some kind of madness (prairie fever, cabin fever) in some people. Romanticizing it as escape from all your problems might give people the wrong idea.

2
white-flame 2 days ago 3 replies      
It baffles me that people think it's so shockingly outlandish that there are people who don't reactionarily buy into the tribalistic pressures around us to simply act like everyone else. Humanity is not homogeneous, yet some notions like these are always projected out to be considered an immutable, inescapable constant. I can only guess that's that same fear of being different shining through.

I presume that on sites like this, there's a higher percentage of people who attempt to be more intentionally decisive about themselves and their lives. We don't necessarily have to toss out everything like Knight did, but looking at life and all the weird social rituals and expectations built up, the dichotomy between those and what seems actually beneficial becomes apparent. That conflict causes a choice, we would seek to do the "better" thing, and that draws many people outside the superficial social norms.

I especially bristle at this quote: "Why dont we want to be alone? Because the stuff thats down there is stuff you dont want to see." Anybody who tries to intentionally better themselves knows what's down there. You have to assess what you are if you're going to change. Sure, you can deny and hide from all that and simply find comfort in floating along with everybody else in social inertia, but that seems to me to be a shameful waste of those conceptual abilities which (apparently) make us uniquely human.

3
evervevdww221 2 days ago 5 replies      
I have the impulse to become a hermit myself, fundamentally because I'm tired of living up to other people's ideologies: going through schools and finding a job in a cubical. getting married at the right age and then raising the right amount kids, saving for their college fund and then for retirement.

but why?

I can't help but compare with my surroundings, even I have quit Facebook for many years. I can't be myself when I'm around others, but become a money maker for things I don't need. I can't concentrate on what makes me happy.

I recall what made me happy. it was when I finally understood some papers, some equations, some code. I just want to find a quiet place to do these. I hope to become an awesome painter and a guitar player too.

I just want to have enough to survive and focus my energy on these things. I don't care if I have successful kids or fancy cars.

4
grabcocque 2 days ago 5 replies      
The idea of introverts and extraverts being distinct groups of people with completely different neurological responses to social situations is a largely false one, created by self-help woo merchants to unhelpfully pathologise the feeling that EVERYONE has from time to time that they want to be left the fuck alone.

You know what? It's a normal, neurotypical part of life as a homo sapiens to want to be by yourself sometimes. And equally, it's a normal, neurotypical part of life as a homo sapiens to want to socialise sometimes.

We're a weird species like that, the way sometimes we want something and other times we want the opposite.

5
Mikeb85 2 days ago 3 replies      
The title IMO is far more interesting and thought provoking than the actual story. So this guy lived in the woods somewhat near people, and stole to get by...

I've personally always been fascinated by the topic as I have met several hermit monks, have a friend who lived as one for half a year, and contemplated it for myself. The history of religious asceticism and hermits is quite interesting, and many of history's most famous philosophers/religious leaders/prophets were either hermits, or had periods of reclusion. And nearly every single religion has these hermit figures.

Anyhow, the downside is that being alone is tough. Physically and mentally. Humans are social creatures. However I have personally benefited from periods of isolation and reflection, even if I'd much rather be around others.

6
factsaresacred 2 days ago 5 replies      
> Years ago, I went to India for a ten-day, silent retreat. I wanted to make myself go where I was afraid to godeep down, inside my own head. I found it terrifying. Why dont we want to be alone? Because the stuff thats down there is stuff you dont want to see.

We live in a world in which who we are is defined by what we do. We are a role - parent, engineer, carer. Strip that away and all that remains is a who. That's the reward of solitude: a situation wherein you have nobody to bounce your 'self' off, nobody to define yourself in relation to, allowing you to surface.

Turns out that who you are is simply a sequence of reactions to experience - the external kind as well as that which bubbles up internally. Rather than terrifying, this should be seen as profoundly liberating.

7
tray5 2 days ago 4 replies      
My personal theory for explaining hermits throughout history is simple, these people had/have aspergers. I have aspergers myself, and I can very easily see someone who has aspergers who for whatever reason no longer wants to socialize anymore getting up and doing their own thing out in isolation. I don't truly believe that any neurotypical person, and for that matter many aspies could do it, but if you're brain is wired in a way that socialization doesn't provide that reward that it does for most other people, either because you don't understand social interaction and have no desire to learn the rules so you can play the game, or simply because you have discovered the rules and simply have no interest exhausting the effort, going out into isolation and spending the rest of your days pursuing other things that give you fulfillment.
8
dahart 2 days ago 1 reply      
Snap Judgement did a nice podcast version of this story. http://snapjudgment.org/north-pond-hermit

The letters Knight & Finkel exchanged add an interesting angle.

Can't say I'm a fan of the author's choice for title of this post. It's Chris Knight's story, and nothing in this post presents any evidence for anyone else at any other time, aside from this single sentence "Think of Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha: they all spent very long periods of time alone before introducing their religions." I totally believe there have always been people who want to be alone sometimes. Pretty much everyone wants to be alone sometimes. But ugh, this sentence & title seem to strain credulity and are so completely unnecessary and tangential to this story.

9
booleandilemma 2 days ago 4 replies      
He portrays a man who, without a shred of formal outdoor training, survived through ingenuity and remarkable self-discipline

The man burglarized people's houses for supplies.

10
dr_bloodmoney 2 days ago 2 replies      
I read about this man when the story first broke and found it extremely fascinating. I can relate to wanting to be alone and living an isolated existence. I love being in nature, away from the world and have often thought about pursuing such an existence permanently. But I just cannot comprehend his methods. Move to Alaska. Learn to hunt. Carve out a place for yourself somewhere. What he did tells me he was just insane - live near people and steal. To put it bluntly, this is fucking nuts.
11
Chiba-City 1 day ago 1 reply      
FWIW, hundreds of thousands of Christian and Buddhist monks alive today all over our world live near to one another in cells or caves. A farming monastery in Arizona started 20 years ago is just beautiful and thriving. WV now has a Buddhist monastery. Buddhist monks are considered "ordained" but not most Christian monks. Lives of quiet or social Renunciation are everywhere and growing in number. Some even have fast WiFi. Go look on YouTube. I have been considering and schematically budgeting an urban ecumenical working monastery in Washington DC that would support itself with OSS testing, documentation and language localization.
12
cJ0th 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Years ago, I went to India for a ten-day, silent retreat. I wanted to make myself go where I was afraid to godeep down, inside my own head. I found it terrifying. Why dont we want to be alone? Because the stuff thats down there is stuff you dont want to see.

I find it interesting that silent retreats work for so many people. While I do get some benefits from meditation it doesn't really lead me to terrifying situations. From time to time it feels like I am having some epiphanies wrt to my shortcomings but meditation seems too gentle to call those moments a confrontation. There is always this nice, cool distance between me and my thoughts. Throwing me into an impro theater group might be more beneficial (and terrifying).The required spontaneity would force the "actual me" to live through uncomfortable situations and perhaps grow.

13
gozur88 10 hours ago 0 replies      
But Knight was never really alone. Sure, he didn't live with or talk to people. But he couldn't survive without stealing from the people around him.
14
KhanMahGretsch 1 day ago 1 reply      
This looks like a good thread to recommend one of my favourite YouTube channels, "Primitive Technology", which features all manner of tools and dwellings built caveman-style.

It's creator is a hacker in the truest sense; his forge-blower contraption, for instance, is simply ingenious.

Don't forget to turn on captions, the subtitles describe what he's doing :)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAL3JXZSzSm8AlZyD3nQdBA

15
FrozenVoid 1 day ago 1 reply      
I don't want to live in a wilderness, but i would want to greatly reduce mandatory social interactions i have to do daily. Its emotionally draining and stressful.Almost everything we do can be automated, but people still insist on face-to-face interaction(or at minimum voice/video chat) and there is this herding behavior that forces people to adjust their beliefs and thoughts to conform to current in-group paradigms(the comparison with ant colonies ITT is on point).All the 24/7 media exposure and rat race of consumerism eventually take their toll on mental health(the polar opposite of "hermit slowly losing their minds") with people becoming psychotic and dependent on pills to function.
16
DannyDaemonic 2 days ago 2 replies      
There's an evolutionary advantage to having people who are isolated from the rest of the community. And not just in terms of sickness transmission. Things such as war, famine, and natural disasters can wipe out whole population groups.
17
Zuider 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god"

From Aristotle, The Politics.

18
mythrwy 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe "introvert" or "extrovert" depends largely on the potential company.

All people (and cultural groups for that matter) are not equally pleasant to be around.

19
taw55 1 day ago 1 reply      
Here is another, longer form article about Chris Knight by the same author.

http://www.gq.com/story/the-last-true-hermit

20
asherkosaraju 1 day ago 0 replies      
And there is nothing wrong with it. Most people think being alone is equivalent to being antisocial. A common misconception that needs to be addressed. The person doesn't need therapy, they just want to be left alone.
21
mkhalil 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Why dont we want to be alone? Because the stuff thats down there is stuff you dont want to see."

This really resonates with me. The "Fear of missing out" is something I try to avoid like the plague, but sometimes I wonder why do I even care?

edit: replaced the acronym FOMA

22
mark_l_watson 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great story. I wonder how spiritual/ religious Chris is. I understand being alone in nature and the desire for solitude but Chris's life style probably has a strong spiritual component. I am going to have to read the book.
23
aaron695 2 days ago 0 replies      
There have always existed people who have suffered from severe depression. There have always existed people who are sucidial.

I find the title a bit dangerous, but an interesting topic.

24
fundabulousrIII 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Always bring a cat.Otherwise why not?
25
Indolat 1 day ago 0 replies      
A man can be himself only so long as he is alone; and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom; for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.

Arthur Schopenhauer

26
lngnmn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Since the time Vedic seers, I suppose...

BTW, prolonged solitude has been considered by most major Eastern schools (both Hindu and Buddhist) as necessarily precursor for spiritual transformations.

27
JumpCrisscross 2 days ago 0 replies      
How does one find, or plan, such retreats?
28
stcredzero 2 days ago 0 replies      
True story: in the early 90's, I walked up to and witnessed this: There was a young woman running a "Museum of Elvis" in a storefront in Portland. She wasn't making it financially, so unable to pay off her student loans, she took to sitting in the storefront in a chair, with a sign and a donation box saying, "I just want to be left a loan."
10
Internet Draft: Let 'localhost' be localhost ietf.org
365 points by beliu  9 hours ago   116 comments top 20
1
user5994461 8 hours ago 6 replies      

 First, the lack of confidence that "localhost" actually resolves to the loopback interface encourages application developers to hard-code IP addresses like "127.0.0.1" in order to obtain certainty regarding routing. This causes problems in the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 (see problem 8 in [draft-ietf-sunset4-gapanalysis]).
That does remind me of the times I was dealing with weird connection issues in some critical services.

It turned to be related to the use of "localhost" in the configuration. It resolves to ipv6 on some systems and that breaks everything because the target app is only listening to the ipv4 address.

Went as far as removing all references to localhost and added lint errors in the configuration system so that noone could ever be able to give localhost as a setting in anything.

2
DonHopkins 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
There was the time that Keith Henson tried to explain the local loopback address to Scientology lawyers in a deposition...

http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/dsp.cgi?msg=6289

Henson: (patiently) It's at 127.0.0.1. This is a loop backaddress. This is a troll.

Lieberman: what's a troll?

Henson: it comes from the fishing where you troll a bait along in the water and a fish will jump and bite the thing,and the idea of it is that the internet is a very humorous placeand it's especially good to troll people who don't have any senseof humor at all, and this is a troll because an ftp site of 127.0.0.1doesn't go anywhere. It loops right back around into your ownmachine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Henson

3
nhance 9 hours ago 9 replies      
If this doesn't happen or takes too long, there's always lacolhost.com and *.lacolhost.com. I own this domain, have registered it out until 2026 and vow that the domain and all subdomains will always redirect to localhost.

It's easy to type and easy to remember and should always do a good job of expressing intent of usage.

4
jonathonf 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I've had web browsers perform a web search for 'localhost', or even just redirect me to localhost.com.

Annoying.

5
tcbawo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
At work someone once spent hours trying to resolve a network issue. Turns out he didn't have a localhost entry in his /etc/hosts and some sadistic person had created a VM named 'localhost' that registered a DNS entry via DHCP.
6
feelin_googley 5 hours ago 1 reply      
At least on the OS I use, which is more IPv6 ready than most, /etc/hosts solves this "uncertainty" problem.

I have found that failing to include a localhost entry in the HOSTS file can lead to some strange behavior.

If there are "computers" out there that have no /etc/hosts or deny the computer's owner access to it, then maybe it might be time for an Internet Draft from Joe User.

There should always be a mechanism for the user to override the internet DNS. And applications should continue to respect it.

7
bryanrasmussen 8 hours ago 0 replies      
this reminds me of a class I went to at a major company in 1999, we had problems following the setup instructions which included going to localhost/db-admin-path, after some sleuthing it turned out somebody 'in corporate' on the network we were using had named their computer localhost.
8
ccheever 4 hours ago 0 replies      
One time I was debugging a problem for a user of our desktop software (I work on https://expo.io) by sharing his screen and taking over his computer. And it turned out the reason the user was having problems was that in his /etc/hosts file, he had an entry pointing localhost at the IP address of some other computer on his network. Crazy. I have no idea how anything worked on his machine.

Took a while to track that was down. Was both bewildering and sort of satisfying to figure it out in the end.

9
sgtpepper43 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Just add a line your hosts file mapping lolcathost to 127.0.0.1 and you never have to worry about it again.

No that's not a typo

10
chr1 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Does this mean that an entry in /etc/hosts assigning ip to localhost will be ignored?
11
eduren 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Can anybody with more knowledge point out techniques that this would break?

Are there any software or networking patterns that currently rely on localhost _not_ resolving to the loopback?

EDIT: The RFC mentions that MySQL currently differentiates between the two, but that's it.

12
filleokus 8 hours ago 3 replies      

 The domain "localhost.", and any names falling within ".localhost.", are known as "localhost names". Localhost names are special in the following ways []
Is this not implemented on macOS or am I just misunderstanding?

 ~ ping test.localhost ping: cannot resolve test.localhost: Unknown host ~ ping localhost.test ping: cannot resolve localhost.test: Unknown host

13
ericfrederich 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds reasonable, but would probably break a ton of stuff. Does this provide enough benefits to outweigh the downsides?
14
age_bronze 8 hours ago 1 reply      
There was no RFC for localhost yet?! That's pretty surprising... That this RFC have any practical meaning? People didn't actually register localhost. domain, did they? Is there an actual line of code that this should change? Are they just trying to promote writing localhost instead of 127.0.0.1?
15
nailer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Surprised the more common .localdomain is omitted as a domain rather than having a .localhost domain.
16
inopinatus 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would very much like to see this draft extended to cover SRV lookup as well.

Right now, section 3 of this draft would prohibit all SRV queries for localhost, which may hinder development and deployment of a SRV based application. That's an immediate problem.

But not only are there existing applications to which it is immediately applicable - it is a design error in HTTP that plain address records are used for resolution. One day this will be corrected, in which case measures like this should continue to apply.

17
agwa 9 hours ago 2 replies      
To be clear, this is not an RFC yet. It's not even adopted by a working group, although I hope it will be.

Mods: can RFC be removed from the title? [Edit: thanks for updating the title!]

18
lolcalhost 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This sucks. I have registered and am actively using a 'localhost' domain name under one of the new generic TLDs for for emails and account signups for quite some time now.
19
alexellisuk 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Localhost resolving to IPv6 basically breaks with Docker they unless you give special instructions only listens on IPv4. With curl for instance you can use the -4 parameter but probably best we start saying test the site on 127.0.0.1 in tutorials.
20
pmarreck 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Why couldn't they just redirect "localhost" at the DNS level to 127.0.0.1?
11
Software Engineering Computer Science (2009) drdobbs.com
453 points by nreece  1 day ago   281 comments top 24
1
alkonaut 21 hours ago 7 replies      
Software engineers need to know to recognize and classify problems in CS. You need to know what algorithms and data structures exist, what their properties are, and what they are called. The areas that come up will come from Math and Computer science (which are closely related). A solid computer scientist person knows how to derive some Dijksttra algorithm from first principles. A good software engineer recognizes the problem at hand, and recalls the algorithm to pick when presented with the problem.

What is that problem in front of you? Gradient descent? Tree traversal? Multiple dispatch? Path finding? What structure represents the data or algorithm? Ring buffer? Blocking queue? Bloom filter?

You rarely need to remember a pathfinding algorithm or trie implementation by heart. What's important is that you a) recognized the problem at hand as "path finding", "bin packing" or whatever. Terminology is important here. The good software engineer needs to know the proper names for a LOT of things. Recognizing and labeling problems means you can basically look up the solution in no time.

So CS is definitely very relevant for software engineering - but you need a broad understanding instead of a deep one.

There is always the argument that a lot of devs basically to monotone work with SQL and some web thing in node and rarely even reach for a structure beyond a list or map. That's true - but sooner or later even they bounce into a performance or reliability issue that's basically always due to incorrect choice of data structure or algorithm. I'm only half joking when I suggest that most of todays "scaling" is compensating for CS mistakes in software.

2
jolux 1 day ago 5 replies      
I don't understand why the author is so suspicious of formal methods. Other engineering disciplines are based on the application of solid, well-understood principles from the natural sciences to practical problem domains. There are few solid, well-understood principles in computer science that are directly and obviously applicable to software engineering so far.

I vigorously contest the idea that software engineering cannot be rigorous and so shouldn't try.

3
peterburkimsher 1 day ago 7 replies      
Here's the graphic transcribed as text for non-English speakers.

Software Engineering: Requirements, Modifiability, Design Patterns, Usability, Safety, Scalability, Portability, Team Process, Maintainability, Estimation, Testability, Architecture Styles.

Computer Science: Computability, Formal Specification, Correctness Proofs, Network Analysis, OS Paging/Scheduling, Queueing Theory, Language Syntax/Semantics, Automatic Programming, Complexity, Algorithms, Cryptography, Compilers.

In my opinion, some of those could be on the other side of the line (estimation could be CS, language syntax/semantics and network analysis could be SE). But I agree with the general division.

I studied Electronic Systems Engineering, but somehow always found jobs in software companies. One problem I struggle with is the division between DRY (Don't Repeat Yourself) and WET (Write Everything Twice) coding styles.

Most programmers hate it when code is repeated. They prefer to spend days trying to integrate external libraries instead of just copying the necessary functions into the main branch. There are good reasons for this (benefiting from new features when the library gets updated), but there are also risks (the code breaking when the library gets updated).

Software Engineering priorities include Safety, Portability, Modifiability, and Testability. I interpret that as a WET programming style. "If you want it done well, do it yourself." There's no arguing about responsibility then - the code is mine, and I should fix it if it breaks.

4
whatnotests 1 day ago 4 replies      
100% agree.

So unless you spend all day writing compilers from scratch or calculating Pascal's Triangle, please stop with the ridiculous CS questions in interviews.

Software Engineering is more of a trade, and requires vocational knowledge and experience. A mountain of theory may not always be required to Get Shit Done.

5
ChuckMcM 1 day ago 2 replies      
I've seen similar articles to this one, both in print and on web sites. I used to explain it to people as the difference between 'coders' and 'engineers' but I think my own hubris at having a degree got in the way of my thinking on it.

Over the decades I've met a bunch of people who program computers for a living, and there is clearly a spectrum where on one end is a person who spends the weekend benchmarking different sort algorithms under different conditions for the fun of it, and the guy who left the office at 5PM once an integration test passed on a piece of code that he pasted in from stack overflow was deemed to have no regressions. There are many different disciplines that have such a wide dynamic, from chefs who spend their weekends trying different flavors to cooks who take frozen patties out, reheat them and serve. Painters who throw human emotion into a painting and painters who lay down a yellow line on a road according to a template for $20/hr.

It seems to me that most, of not all, of the 'theory' stuff in computer science is just math of one form or another. This is not unlike all the 'theory' stuff in electrical engineering is just physics. You can do the tasks without the theory, but you rarely invent new ways of doing things without that understanding.

But just like carpenters and architects there is a tremendous amount of depth in the crafting of things. That brilliance should be respected, college trained or not, so trying to 'split' the pool doesn't lead to any good insights about what being a good engineer is all about.

6
halfnibble 23 hours ago 3 replies      
I didn't study Computer Science in college. Not one single course. But I'm not stupid. I made straight A's in math through Calculus III. So a lot of these comments frustrate me. I've taught myself literally everything I know. I've read dozens of books. I practice coding obsessively--it's my passion. Do I "get shit done"? Yes, absolutely. Do I not care about the efficiency of my algorithms? No, I care deeply. I don't always know the "computer-sciency" term for things. But my goodness, get off your high horse and tell me what you want accomplished. Chances are I'll implement a solution that's just as efficient and arguably much better than most "engineers" can. And no, I'm not going to be obsolete at age 40. By the time I reach age 40, PhD's will be coming to be for advise. Because I didn't study computer science in college. I'm studying it for life.
7
ajarmst 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm convinced that the only useful definition of a Software Engineer is "someone who has 'Software Engineer' in their job title". Most other Engineering disciplines are far more rigorously defined. That said, observing a disconnect between theory and application is hardly novel or unique to software disciplines.
8
tim333 16 hours ago 0 replies      
The author has a slightly funny use of the word engineering. If you look at its use in a conventional field like making cars then the science bit is the basic physics and chemistry of how gasses expand etc, the engineering is designing the machinery so the brakes work, the engine produces enough power and doesn't break and the like and then human issues like whether the workers go on strike or the end users are idiots and crash are not engineering.

Similarly I'd say in software the engineering bit is making reliable systems that are fault tolerant and secure and so on and then the people bits like the user interface are something like design and psychology, not engineering.

9
hestefisk 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Software engineering is where the rubber hits the road in terms of requirements definition, creating a solid design, fitting stuff into an existing legacy environment (SAP anyone? Java EE?), iterating prototypes with stakeholders... and usually in large corporations. It was out of many years of budget overruns in defense procurement that software engineering cornerstones such as CMMI emerged.

To me, the essence of software engineering is that 20% is about building the 'good' solution itself, e.g. architecture, code, release / deployment, ... the remainder of the engineering is navigating / tolerating the inherent corporate messiness of politics, opinions, power, and everything else... engineering the solution is the easy part; engineering good requirements and quality is tough.

10
amw-zero 1 day ago 3 replies      
> all computer hardware is essentially equivalent.

This is quite inaccurate. Hardware directly influences software. "if" statements, functions, and threads didn't exist at one time, and all require explicit hardware support. I believe that as we come up with different abstract constructs at the hardware level, we'll influence the possible software that can be written.

11
Chiba-City 16 hours ago 0 replies      
These are complicated terms. Harvard's CS was part of their Applied Math department. There are Applied Maths of scheduling programmatic Engineering outcomes for sure. Fred Brooks taught us all that.

I studied Russell, Godel, Tarski and Quine and then compiler and runtime logic (as a Philosophy major). Back then CS was mostly a realm of 3-Page proofs on alpha renaming or newfangled Skip List speed/space utility.

As an old VAX/Sun or 512K/DOS C programmer working in DC for decades around lots of TC, datacenter and transaction processing folks, an SE MUST have basic speed/space, set theoretic, programming by contract, data integrity and MTBF abstractions in their heads while they plan and develop. Both accuracy and performance against test and measure just matter for the business cases 24/7.

Content software developers patching together framework components on 2 day schedules for consumer Web bloatware rarely understand something like data integrity needs of billing system logic embedding in redundant switches failing over on rough schedules. Typing commands is not even Software Engineering.

Software Engineering is not an individual identity phenomenon. SE is how groups show responsibility for stakeholder outcomes unrelated to paychecks. First rule of SE is everyone on the team passes the bus test. Nobody is essential. Unless we seek luck, we can't improve what we don't measure. Learning how and what to measure takes real training and group method application. So many out there never know what they are missing.

Business competition minus lucky windfalls is largely based on COST ACCOUNTING. Successful operations will discover heat dissipation costs challenges. Basic CS speed/space, contract covenant assertions, data integrity and MTBF logic in Software Engineers translates very easily into understanding business innovation problems.

12
k__ 13 hours ago 1 reply      
In Germany we have Informatik, which was treated as CS&SE long time.

Lately there are sprouting more and more SE degrees.

On the other hand we also have universities of applied science, where Informatik is often more like SE

13
drawkbox 1 day ago 0 replies      
Most developer jobs contain parts of both, with more time spent in software engineering.

Software development, app development, game development, web development are all probably 90+% software engineering and 1-10% computer science depending on the project. Specific projects may differ such as writing standard libraries, engines, data, standards, teaching, etc. In the end most of it is production and maintenance as part of shipping.

14
autokad 1 day ago 2 replies      
rarely has asymptotic complexity mattered to my code. usually the most important factor is modularization and readability. i spend more of my time reading or re-using code, and my time is more expensive than a computer. plus, highly optimized code can sometimes be unreadable and lead to bugs, which are also more costly.
15
thomasbachem 17 hours ago 0 replies      
We also wrote an article about this about a year ago: https://code.berlin/en/blog/computer-science-software-engine...
16
KirinDave 1 day ago 0 replies      
I neither agree nor disagree with the article. I think it conflates a lot of stuff.

But look, what the math and science sides of the room throw at us definitely informs the engineering. In every other engineering principle from architecture to ditch digging, there is a feeder system from a variety of mathematical and scientific disciplines. While many other engineering disciplines are well established, they are not immune to this and in general don't begrudge it.

Doctors are required to keep up on the state of treatment. Architects need to keep up on materials science AND new mathematical modeling techniques and tools. Car designers care about new discoveries in lighting, battery and materials technology.

Here's a good example of the kind of stuff we all should be on the hook for. I've tried to push this paper up to the front page a few times now because it's roughly the same as if someone walked up and calmly announced they'd worked out how to compress space to beat the speed of light:

http://www.diku.dk/hjemmesider/ansatte/henglein/papers/hengl...

Folks are generalizing linear sort algorithms to things we thought previously were only amenable to pair-wise comparison sorts without a custom programming model and tons of thought. No! And then a famous engineer-and-also-mathematician made an amazingly fast library to go with it (https://hackage.haskell.org/package/discrimination).

We're seeing multiple revolutions in our industry made of... well... OLD components! While deep learning is starting to break untrodden ground now, a lot of the techniques are about having big hardware budgets, lots of great training data, and a bunch of old techniques. The deep learning on mobile tricks? Why that's an old numerical technique for making linear algebra cheaper by reversing order we walk the chain rule. O(n) general sort is arguably bigger if we can get it into everyone's hands because of how it changes the game bulk data processing and search (suddenly EVERY step is a reduce step!)

We've similarly been sitting on functional programming techniques that absolutely blow anything the OO world has out of the water, but require an up-front investment of time and practice with a completely alternate style of programming. But unlike our fast-and-loose metaprogramming, reflection and monkey patching tricks in industry these techniques come with theorems and programmatic analysis techniques that make code faster for free, not slower.

Even if your day job is, like mine, full of a lot of humdrum plug-this-into-that work, we can benefit from modern techniques to build absolutely rock solid systems with good performance and high reliability. We could be directly incorporating simple concepts like CRDTs to make our systems less prone to error.

It's our job (and arguably it's the hardest job of the field) to dive into the world of pure research, understand it, and bring what's necessary out to the world of modern software. That means more than just tapping away at CSS files, or wailing about NPM security, or shrugging and saying, "Maybe Golang's model is the best we can hope from in modern programmers."

17
z3t4 20 hours ago 0 replies      
What is software Engineering !? Making an excel sheet ? Making a web site ? Writing SQL ? Using programming language X, Y, Z ?
18
cpburns2009 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Software Programming != Computer ScienceSoftware Programming and Science != Engineering

While we're drawing distinctions stop calling yourself an engineer unless you're legally licenced as one. Programming may share similarities with engineering but it lacks the professional accreditation and liability.

19
sytelus 1 day ago 2 replies      
Computer science is neither about computers nor is a science :).
20
partycoder 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's revisit the definition of "engineering", in a simplified form:

 Science -> Engineering -> Technology
Engineering borrows scientific[1] knowledge to create[2] technology[3]

[1]: or empirical knowledge

[2]: or maintain or implement

[3]: or processes

The relationship between science and engineering has been clear for a while now, even before the appearance of software engineering.

There's a lot of science at work in existing software, so it would be inaccurate to say that software is "unscientific". However not many people get to work on those projects.

A vast majority of people can make a decent living working on user facing technologies built with existing technology. At that level appealing to non-technical stakeholders has much more weight than applying engineering rigor.

But that's not the reality for everyone.

21
hprotagonist 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is not a particularly new observation.

My half-assed analogy:

CS is to SE as Physics is to Mechanical Engineering.

In both cases, it's unwise to trust one category with screwdrivers...

22
lngnmn 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Sure. Engineering is an applied science. So, these cannot be equal.
23
j05huaNathaniel 22 hours ago 4 replies      
24
oneplane 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yeah, no shit...

Truck Driver Road Planner

12
832 TB ZFS on Linux jonkensy.com
317 points by beagle3  2 days ago   156 comments top 18
1
rsync 2 days ago 4 replies      
"I ended up between the Supermicro SSG-6048R-E1CR60L or the SSG-6048R-E1CR90L the E1CR60L is a 60-bay 4U chassis while the E1CR90L is a 90-bay 4U chassis. This nice part is that no matter which platform you choose Supermicro sells this only as a pre-configured machine this means that their engineers are going to make sure that the hardware you choose to put in this is all from a known compatibility list. Basically, you cannot buy this chassis empty and jam your own parts in"

This is a major departure from the Supermicro business model and practices and basically broke all of our next generation expansion roadmaps.

This was not a technical decision - it is the same old economic decision that every large VAR/integrator/supplier has succumbed to for the last 30 years. They aren't the first ones to try this trick and they won't be the last.

We (rsync.net) are not playing ball, however. After 16 years of deploying solely on supermicro hardware (server chassis and JBODs) we bought our first non-supermicro JBOD last month.

2
kev009 2 days ago 1 reply      
There are a couple needful tweaks to this BOM for anyone wanting to follow this..

Only populate one CPU socket. Zone allocation between two NUMA nodes is kind of hard, especially since Ubuntu 16.04 zfs is pre- OpenZFS ABD where memory fragmentation is reality.

I would recommend better NICs like a Chelsio T5 or T6. Aside from better drivers and a responsive vendor, you can experiment with some of the iscsi offloads or zero copy TCP.

Supermicro seriously under-provisioned I/O on that chassis. I'd add LSI/Avago/now Broadcom cards so you can get native ports to every drive. Even if it's just a cold storage box, it will help with rebuild and scrub times and peace of mind. The cost of this is not bad compared to the frustration of SAS expander firmwares. 2x24 or 3x16 and 4 drives on the onboard if you can skip the backplane expander. Supermicro will usually do things like this if you insist, or an integrator like ixSystems can handle it.

More subjectively, I would also recommend FreeBSD. It seems their main justification for Ubuntu was paid support, which can be had from ixSystems who sell and support an entire stack (Supermicro servers, FreeBSD or FreeNAS or TrueNAS, and grok ZFS and storage drivers to the tune that they have done quite a bit of development.

3
twiss 2 days ago 0 replies      
> I purchased these units through a vendor we like to use and they hooked us up, so I wont be able to share my specific pricing. (...) If you build the systems out on there youll find that they come in around $35,000 (USD) each.

That devided by 52 x 8 = 416TB is 0.084$/GB. For comparison, the Backblaze Storage Pod 6.0 [1] claims 0.06$/GB for the version with the same hard drives. Although this version has a bunch of extra features like 2 x 800GB SSD's for ZFS SLOG, 8x more RAM for a total of 256GB, etc.

[1]: https://www.backblaze.com/blog/open-source-data-storage-serv...

4
vc00000 1 day ago 0 replies      
We bought our initial 2 TrueNAS servers from IX Systems (SuperMicro) back in 2011, have been upgrading over the years and they have been very reliable servers.

Currently each server has 63 drives (4TB HGST NL-SAS) with 1 hot spare, configured as RAIDZ.

Right now there is 200TB of usable storage, we initially started with 29TB and have been expanding as needed when it hits about 79%, I buy 18 drives roughly every 6-8 months, 9 drives per server and expand the pool.

To say that we never had issues is lying, we did have some major issues when upgrading from versions, but this was early on, now it is a rock solid storage system.

Although there is less than 300 active users connecting to the primary server, there is a lot of very important pre & post production high dev videos.

Reboot with 63 drives is around 10 minutes or less.

Resilvering could take 24-48 hours, depending on load, depending on how much data the failed drive contained.

Performance has been great, reliability has been great, support has been great.

Sadly IX Systems can no longer provide support after the end of this year, they've extended support beyond the expected lifetime of the hardware.

5
4ad 2 days ago 6 replies      

 you can run ZFS on Ubuntu [...] You could also build this on Solaris with necessary licensing if you wanted to that route but itd be more expensive.
I find it bewildering the author didn't even consider illumos or FreeBSD, where ZFS is a first class citizen.

6
sandGorgon 2 days ago 2 replies      
The most important line for me was "Today, you can run ZFS on Ubuntu 16.0.4.2 LTS with standard repositories and Canonicals Ubuntu Advantage Advanced Support. That makes the decision easy."

Its highly interesting that Canonical does this with ZFS. I'm not sure why they dont market this more.

7
jjirsa 2 days ago 9 replies      
Zfs on linux and huge single servers, what could go wrong?

It's like a blog written by a 22 year old straight out of college that's never dealt with a real production deployment/failure

Zfs on Linux has data loss bugs. There's at least one unpatched and there are bound to be more.

Single huge servers eventually fail. Maybe it'll be a drive controller. Maybe it'll be CPU or ram with bit flips as a side effect. Downtime would be the least painful part of the eventual failure.

8
yest 1 day ago 1 reply      
>Its hard if not impossible to beat the $/GB and durability that Amazon is able to provide with their object storage offering.

what the actual fuck?? AWS S3 is a abominable rip off. After I rented to my own dedicated server, I am paying several times less.

9
guroot 2 days ago 2 replies      
Can I just ask.Why not use FreeBSD?
10
BigIQ 1 day ago 0 replies      
Biggest question: why?

At that scale something like Ceph would be more reasonable. Just because ZFS can handle those filesystem sizes doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best tool for the job. There's a reason why all big players like Google, Amazon and Facebook go for the horizontal scaling approach.

11
mikekij 2 days ago 0 replies      
Almost big enough to archive SoundCloud!
12
jaytaylor 2 days ago 1 reply      
What about cooling? Will the lifespan of the high-capacity platter-dense hard drives be drastically reduced by clumping them together like that with what looks like little airflow?
13
cmurf 2 days ago 1 reply      
Do either of these project spec hardware that would work for this use case?

opencompute.orgBackblaze storage pod, they're up to v 6.0 now

(Netflix open connect specs supermicro hardware)

Others?

14
andreiw 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish Supermicro had a similar chassis around the Cavium ThunderX. That would make a lot of sense for network-attached storage, regardless of whether one goes with SATA or drops in a SAS adapter or two. Does anyone know if any of the Cavium accelerators (crypto or compression) can improve ZFS perf?
15
z3t4 2 days ago 3 replies      
Anyone else addicted to acquiring servers and high bandwidth connections ? Any ideas on what to do with the over capacity ?
16
SoMisanthrope 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very impressive! It's amazing what people are doing with OTS technology.
17
notyourday 2 days ago 0 replies      
Very good experience with 45drives.com storinator XLs.
18
rurban 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not a HW guy but those drives seems to be far too close together. A few more millimeters space will keep the temperature down much better I assume.
13
How do you find integer solutions to x/(y + z) + y/(x + z) + z/(x + y) = 4? quora.com
437 points by jordigh  1 day ago   91 comments top 12
1
mrkgnao 1 day ago 1 reply      
For anyone looking to learn more about elliptic curves, which are astoundingly "well-connected" as math topics go, here's a good book that should be accessible to anyone with some calculus under their belt:

https://www.amazon.com/Elliptic-Tales-Curves-Counting-Number...

It's not a textbook, which is both good and bad. In my case, it did a good job whetting my appetite for more!

A really well-written and not-extremely-difficult undergrad textbook on elliptic curves:

https://www.amazon.com/Rational-Points-Elliptic-Undergraduat...

(Non-affiliate links, just so you know.)

2
rsj_hn 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is a great article. Little puzzles like these are often the gateways to enormous mathematical journeys. Here, I only wished the journey was more detailed -- you could motivate all of these operations -- but that would take many pages.
3
AbacusAvenger 1 day ago 2 replies      
The Wolfram Alpha results for this one are pretty intimidating:

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=(a%2F(b%2Bc))%2B(b%2F(a...

4
jfaat 1 day ago 3 replies      
> Next up: what is the degree of our equation? The degree is the highest power of any term showing up. For example, if you have (a^2)b(c^4), thats a term of degree 7 = 2 + 1 + 4

I thought that equation was degree 4, which aligns with what the author says later on. Am I missing something? It seems odd that he would write out that equation accidentally, maybe just crossed wires though. I'm sure we've all been there.

5
bmc7505 1 day ago 11 replies      
What are some other problems that appear deceptively simple, but are extremely difficult to solve?
6
DrTung 1 day ago 0 replies      
Agree, good article. Thanks to it I think I understand more why cryptography based on elliptic curves (like Curve25519) is considered pretty safe for now.
7
tim333 11 hours ago 0 replies      
A bit tangential but I wonder if something like that could relate to the slightly odd collection of fundamental particles we find in physics. They have properties that have to come out integral like spin x 2 and charge x 3 and have odd values like muons and tao particle being basically electrons but approx 200 and 3500 times heavier.
8
chegra 19 hours ago 3 replies      
x = 702

y = -390

z = 858

[ http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=(702%2F(-390%2B858))%2B...) ]

Found the above solution using a hillclimbing algorithm.

http://codepad.org/PixRUl0N

9
Houshalter 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if a SAT solver would be able to solve this faster than brute force.
10
ramshanker 1 day ago 0 replies      
Now eagerly waiting for Letsencrypt to make Elliptic curve as default. Respect to the author of the article.
11
theophrastus 1 day ago 4 replies      
using the rearranged form:

 ((x + (((2*y*z) + (y*y) + (z*z) + (((z*z*z) - (z*y*y))/(x + y)))/(x + z)))/(y + z))
I find by brute force (no pride!) the first solution triplet: 35, 132, 627

Edit: of course, this is not a solution. It's now just an example to others to beware of floating point errors.

12
masthead 23 hours ago 2 replies      
14
Detecting Chrome headless antoinevastel.github.io
361 points by avastel  2 days ago   154 comments top 24
1
westoque 2 days ago 10 replies      
Your solutions in detecting Chrome headless is good.

But someone who really wants to do web scraping or anything similar will use a real browser like Firefox or Chrome run it through xvfb and control it using webdriver and maybe expose it through an API. I find these to be almost undetectable.. The only way you can mitigate this is to do more interesting mitigation techniques. Liie IP detection, Captchas, etc.

edit: when I say real browser, I mean running the full browser process including extensions etc.

2
shakna 2 days ago 3 replies      
> ... to automate malicious tasks. The most common cases are web scraping...

I really don't think scraping should fall onto that list.

There isn't even a consensus in the IT world whether or not scraping should be able to be legally restricted.

3
stevefeinstein 2 days ago 2 replies      
So again someone wants to punish all the legitimate people using a web site to get some marginal benefit from detecting the remaining <1%. The inevitable false positives don't affect the "malicious" users. Only the legitimate ones.And how much will this bloat the page load by? Adding more code to an already overly large page isn't helping anyone.

Just let the web be the web, and stop trying to control it.

4
JoshTriplett 2 days ago 2 replies      
This looks like a list of bugs that need fixing; ideally, headless Chrome should be completely indistinguishable from ordinary Chrome, so that it gets an identical view of the web.
5
josteink 1 day ago 1 reply      
> Beyond the two harmless use cases given previously, a headless browser can also be used to automate malicious tasks. The most common cases are web scraping

I guess I disagree with the premise of this article.

How is web scraping fundamental malicious?

What rights/expectations can you have that a publicly accessible website you create must be used by humans only?

6
sorenbs 2 days ago 0 replies      
Leaving aside for a moment that many "malicious" use cases are actually fairly common and totally legitimate.

Headless Chrome is awesome and such a step up from previous automation tools.

The Chromeless project provides a nice abstraction and received 8k start in its first two weeks on Github: https://github.com/graphcool/chromeless

7
fforflo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Since when is web scraping a "malicious task"?
8
XCSme 2 days ago 2 replies      
If someone wants to scrape your site he will do it, just find workarounds against your "protection". It is impossible to tell the difference between a real user and an automated scrape request, you can only make their job a bit harder.
9
tyingq 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many of these were deliberate, and how many were missed. Google has a vested interest in bot detection.

And by releasing headless chrome, they killed off some of the competition. (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/phantomjs/9aI5d-LDuN...)

10
PascLeRasc 2 days ago 2 replies      
I don't want to start an argument here, but can someone explain why web scraping is considered malicious?
11
tomatsu 2 days ago 0 replies      
> var body = document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0];

You can just use document.body.

I also suggest to use a data URL instead. E.g. "data:," is an empty plain text file, which, as you can imagine, won't be interpreted as a valid image.

 let image = new Image(); image.onerror = () => { console.log(image.width); // 0 -> headless }; document.body.appendChild(image); image.src = 'data:,';
> In case of a vanilla Chrome, the image has a width and height that depends on the zoom of the browser

The zoom doesn't affect this. It's always in CSS "pixels".

12
netsharc 2 days ago 1 reply      
Shouldn't the first block of code have "HeadlessChrome" instead of just "Chrome" as the search term?
13
jdc0589 1 day ago 0 replies      
dumb question from someone who's written a ton of scrapers and scraping based "products" for fun:

at what point does it make more sense for companies to just start offering open APIs or data exports? Obviously it would never make sense for a company who's value IS their data, but for retail platforms, auction sites, forum platforms, etc... that have a scraper problem, it seems like just providing their useful data through a more controlled, and optimized, avenue could be worth it.

The answer is probably "never", it's just something that comes to mind sometimes.

14
tscs37 1 day ago 0 replies      
I do hope that these methods get patched, I tend to archive my bookmark collection with chrome headless to prevent loosing content when such a site goes offline. I hate it when a website requires me to play special snowflake to scrape them for this purpose.
15
skinnymuch 2 days ago 2 replies      
How many of these can be faked with some additional code with Chrome headless?

Regardless as others are saying, using complete Chrome or Firefox with webdriver solves all these, right? Is there a way to detect the webdriver extension? That's the only difference I think from a normal browser.

16
revelation 2 days ago 1 reply      
The irony of using JavaScript to detect scraping or bots when the majority of them not used to trick ads don't ever execute any of it because they are a better curl.
17
askvictor 2 days ago 0 replies      
All of these could quite easily be overcome by compiling your own headless chrome. It wouldn't surprise me if there is a fork to this effect soon.
18
hossbeast 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Beyond the two harmless use cases given previously, a headless browser can also be used to automate malicious tasks. The most common cases are web scraping, increase advertisement impressions or look for vulnerabilities on a website."

Cheating an advertiser I'll grant you, but the other two are 100% legitimate.

19
DannyDaemonic 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'd be willing to bet that missing image size variance is more of a bug or oversight, and is something that will be fixed.
20
userbinator 2 days ago 0 replies      
Those who want a more "authentic" experience would do better to use a real normal browser, and control it from outside.
21
assafmo 2 days ago 0 replies      
"... a headless browser can also be used to automate malicious tasks. The most common cases are web scraping... "

Since when web scraping considered malicious? Companies like Google are doing billions because they use web scraping.

22
fiatjaf 2 days ago 1 reply      
Isn't it possible to detect a bot by tracking some events like random mouse moving, scrolling, clicking etc.? Why weren't these kinds of detection tried in place of captchas, for example?
23
codedokode 2 days ago 2 replies      
What about mining cryptocurrency on a page load as a solution against scrapers?
24
asveikau 2 days ago 1 reply      
15
US Supreme Court will require electronic filings and post them free online washingtonpost.com
258 points by scott00  3 days ago   32 comments top 5
1
avs733 3 days ago 2 replies      
This seems like an unmitigated good. The law, in all forms, should be freely and publicly accessible[1].

Part of me struggles with the abject misunderstandings about law I see in both the media and the public...legal jargon and process are inherently dense/anachronistic. That being said, this seems like an opportunity both for SCOTUS to role model transparency and to try and shorten the process by which the interpretation of the sacred texts are communicated to the people.

[1] this includes things like building codes and professional standards which while legally in the public domain are still claimed as copyright and sold by organizations like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The EFF has some resources on this: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/01/law-belongs-public-dom...

2
k-mcgrady 3 days ago 4 replies      
OT: The Supreme Court in the UK has a YouTube channel [1] where videos of judgements are posted (usually very soon after they take place). I'd be interested to know if the SCOTUS has a similar service. I can't find it on YouTube but maybe they can be accessed elsewhere?

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/UKSupremeCourt

Edit:

Thanks to the below commenters.

3
piker 3 days ago 3 replies      
While this idea seems great, requiring court staff to submit pro se litigants' petitions may be a non-trivial burden. Something like 40% of federal appellate work is responding to (often meritless, often incomprehensible) pro se habeas petitions[0]. I wonder if a side effect of this is additional legislation intended to dampen that burden[1] at the expense of real human liberty. I hope not, but we should balance this issue and be cautious about chilling less fortunate peoples' access to these basic civil mechanisms.

[0] http://www.lclark.edu/live/files/777[1] See, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiterrorism_and_Effective_De...

4
clamprecht 3 days ago 1 reply      
What will pro se prisoners do? I assume there's some provision for that. If not, they can't even appeal the rule itself!
5
kevin_thibedeau 2 days ago 1 reply      
So SCOTUS runs its own system and the rest of the federal courts lock their public records behind the PACER paywall. Very consistent.
16
The Loyal Engineers Steering NASAs Voyager Probes Across the Universe nytimes.com
304 points by gaius  3 days ago   51 comments top 13
1
laydn 3 days ago 7 replies      
You know, getting these electronics systems ready, sending out to deep space and communicating with these systems is an incredible feat.

But, for me, another amazing thing about these long term projects is the sheer amount of knowledge that needs to be maintained and passed on to new people, over the course of several decades. To pull it off, this need of knowledge management and transfer must be so deeply engraved in the culture of the organization. How do they do it in this day and age of "FAQs", "Forums" and "Helpdesks"? :)

In all seriousness, what do you do to maintain "knowledge" in your organization?

2
bitexploder 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is so much cool stuff in this article. The engineers stuck in the 70s with modern tools to aid them, but that only gets them so far. The love and dedication to this spacecraft. These engineers believe in the mission of space so deeply they married themselves to Voyager. A marriage more substantial than many real marriages. Just thinking about this dedication and how space exploration is, in my opinion, one of the few ways we can truly advance as a species beyond our ruts here on Earth gave me chills. There is something, existential, poetic, and sad about the lonely work these engineers have done for so long.

If you didn't read this article the portraits of the engineers and snapshots of the lives is moving.

3
sehugg 3 days ago 1 reply      
... its oscillator, which allows it to accept a wide range of frequencies, had quit, essentially shrinking the target for transmissions from Earth. Assuming a much narrower bandwidth, and manually subtracting the Doppler effect, they recalibrated their signal. It worked but to this day, the same calculation must precede every command.

IIRC from an old SciAm article, the temperature of the spacecraft's electronics is also taken into account when doing this calculation.

4
rootbear 3 days ago 1 reply      
A lot of what has been said here about software documentation and process is true of NASA flight projects, especially manned. Outside of flight, not so much. In some cases, it's a bit more like grad-school-project-that-escaped. An exception would be the modeling code used for things like weather simulation on supercomputers. The scientists need to know that their code actually matches the model they're testing and that things like numerical precision and error bounds are being handled properly. I'll add that the above is anecdotal, based on my experiences at NASA Goddard.
5
rodgerd 3 days ago 2 replies      
I recommend seeing The Farthest (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znTdk_de_K8) if you have any interest at all in this.
6
dingo_bat 3 days ago 5 replies      
How do you retain such talented people for such a long time? These people could get jobs in the most cutting-edge company in their respective fields. Still they choose to stay at the same place for decades.
7
rbanffy 3 days ago 0 replies      
In the end, the engineer's prayer is probably a lot like the astronaut's.

"Please, dear God, don't let me fuck up."

8
yourapostasy 3 days ago 0 replies      
> ...[the heliosphere] blocks 75 percent of cosmic radiation...

It sounds like a solar system-scale Van Allen belt [1] when described like this. So we have at least three layers of cosmic radiation protection identified (heliosphere, outer VAB, inner VAB).

If the heliosphere has implications for high-precision, high-accuracy independent-of-Earth interplanetary spaceflight similar to gravimetric and magnetic readings on Earth do for submarines today, then mapping the heliosphere would be a future asset.

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

9
danesparza 3 days ago 0 replies      
This article is pretty dang cool. Looking over the pictures of the NASA engineers I couldn't help but think "Damn, that engineer looks TIRED". Did anybody else think the same thing?
10
nlh 3 days ago 0 replies      
One thing I've always been amazed at when reading about spacecraft is the incredibly detailed level of control the scientists have over the craft.

It's something I'm not used to here on earth -- when something breaks, I've learned you either crack it open and replace the part or buy a new device :)

Can someone talk (or provide a link) about how this sort of system design works?

11
mrunkel 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read far too far into the article before I realized it was the mobile site. :)

In the mid 1980's I went on a tour of JPL in Pasadena and actually saw the computers that were (at the time) in charge of recording and storing the telemetry data. I'm vague on the exact details, but apparently the computers were donated from the US Army and were field models (early "portable" computers) and they operated on 48V DC power. So not only were the computers themselves large fridge sized units, they had near matching transformers that were fairly unreliable.

I recall reading that in the mid 90s NASA replaced all the mission control systems for the space shuttle with a single Sun Workstation, so I assume that JPL also at some point replaced the downlink computers for V'ger.

My hat is off to these many fine people who stuck it out with jobs that were probably long periods of drudgery interspersed with moments of sheer terror.

12
CocoaGeek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Love the Sun workstation on Enrique Medina's desk 8)
13
odammit 3 days ago 0 replies      
I didn't know Sammy Hagar was moon-lighting at NASA. Very impressive.
17
Prostitution decriminalized: Rhode Islands experiment newsworks.org
295 points by MaysonL  21 hours ago   234 comments top 25
1
andrewstuart 20 hours ago 9 replies      
It's weird seeing this. In Australia prostitution is completely legal. There was actually a publicly listed brothel for a while. Strange to think other societies criminalise it.

I think being legal is best for the health and wellbeing of the sex workers and minimises the criminal involvement.

There are brothels all over the place but mostly they are pretty low key, often hidden in backstreets or warehouse areas with only a red light and a sign to indicate they exist.

I wish we had such an enlightened position on drugs, which remain almost completely criminalized, whilst other parts of the world move towards legalization of various aspects of drug law.

2
Iv 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Either as a society we accept that some people will trade sexual favors for money or we refuse it. I can see arguments both ways. In the end, that is a stance on how you weight two values:

1. The morality to add financial consideration in the decision to provide consent to a sex act.

2. The amount of freewill that a person has within the job market.

What is interesting is that you can have different liberal or conservative position on both of these considerations and still be unsure about the side the scale weights in:

As a conservative:

1. Social conservatives tend to consider sex like a serious matter, set apart from the rest, so they will say that consent is not to be sold.

2. Fiscal conservatives tend to consider freewill in the job market is close to absolute: you are always free to refuse a job, so people deciding to go into prostitution really chose it without constraints.

Depending on how you weight sex-is-special vs job-market-is-free, you can be against or for prostitution as a conservative.

As a liberal:

1. Social liberals will tend to consider that consent is important in every part of life but that sex is (or can be chosen to be) an activity like any other. If someone is really willing to sell sexual favors, under what principle forbidding it? (and it turns to be a fetish too)

2. "Fiscal liberals" (is that an expression? Not sure, non-native here, I mean the opposite of "fiscal conservative) tend to consider wages and employment to be a tool of oppression and control. In that respect, they will be less likely to consider that someone who works for money chooses to do so freely.

Depending on how you weight you-are-free-to-sex-as-you-want vs wage-is-a-way-to-control you can be a liberal and be for or against prostitution.

3
geff82 19 hours ago 4 replies      
As a German where prostitution is just seen as a regular trade, some general points.1.) While paid sex is surely available at many places, we still do not live in one big brothel.

2.) Why should people have to film their act of having sex and then publish it (porn is legal in the US...)

3.) There is a problem with human trafficking that has to be dealt with. But dealing with this problem in some manner is surely the better way than making prostitution illegal. As long as there are hormons in this world, prostitution will exist. Learn to live with it.

4
tryingagainbro 18 hours ago 3 replies      
I never understood this: it's your body so you have the right to an abortion, but...

Someone does it for free, someone for a promise to marry, someone for marriage, someone hoping it leads to something, rent paid etc etc. Who are to decide what "currency" is legal and what isn't for "her body"?

5
jessaustin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
TFA: Still, perhaps even more surprising than the decrease in gonorrhea was another public health development. Sexual violence, or rapes, dipped dramatically. And this wasn't just amongst sex workers. It was across the board, according to FBI crime reports and jurisdiction level data.

"Reported rape offenses decreased by about 30 percent," Shah said.

That's another big decrease. Shah says, if anything, you'd expect rape to go up as when prostitution is decriminalized, sex workers are more likely to report rapes. She compared this to neighboring states, too. The drop was only in Rhode Island. So she examined other crime data in Rhode Island, like burglaries and murders, to see if there had just been a drop in crime generally.

It didn't match.

6
kolbe 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always thought about how brutally sexist it is to take this industry where women have a massive competitive advantage, and criminalize it.
7
Corrado 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I just can't understand how people think that you can regulate sex between consenting adults. Did we not learn anything from prohibition? Trying to make something that almost everyone wants illegal is just not possible. Hell, we can't even enforce a speed limit on the highways.
8
spodek 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone else see the article presenting for a mutually agreed on act as women innocent / men predatory?

For example

> The Swedish or Nordic model takes aim at the demand, making it illegal to buy sexual services but not to sell it.

but

> In a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District of Rhode Island, COYOTE's lawyer argued that the state's law on prostitution was too broad and discriminated against women, given that female sex workers were arrested far more than male customers.

Saying "takes aim at the demand" for a mutually consenting interaction just seems a way of targeting men without explicitly saying it. Different countries and situations, but the reporter doesn't note the different treatment by the state when one sex is criminalized versus the other.

Or

> "You see the silencing of victims," Hughes said. "It is just very harmful to women. It really is a libertarian approach, but the ones who get freedom are the pimps, the sex buyers, the businessmen who then can rent properties to the massage parlors, and to the sex buyers. There's very little freedom for the women."

or

> As for Robinson, the online escort who moved to Rhode Island? She was angry.

> "It pissed me off. I didn't know nothing about activism, I didn't know what a sex worker rights organization was," she said.

> Robinson changed that. She became active with COYOTE, the sex worker union and advocacy group.

> "Criminalization is a punishment for women who won't conform," Robinson said. "And we're just supposed to go live in the streets in poverty and not complain about it, and be good women."

Nothing wrong with a woman's perspective, but men's behavior was criminalized too. I would think it would add to the article to get some of their perspective.

Not including men's perspective, except as the businessmen who make money off the women and the rapists, makes the article sound like the reason for prostitution's negative reputation is men. Would a quote like the following fly?

> "Criminalization is a punishment for men who won't conform. We're just supposed to go live without sex and not complain about it, and be good men."

9
jaemison 17 hours ago 6 replies      
I love how in the past hour, a NYT op-ed discussing motherhood and women's agency is flagged as irrelevant but an article on decriminalizing prostitution is at the top of hacker news with a lengthy discussion on the nuances of policy and practice /s
10
cestith 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Banning anything that has a high demand mainly gives criminals control of the market. It has little impact on demand but is an abrogation of any responsibility to regulate.

The same was true of the US 18th Amendment, of the "War on Drugs" in the US now, of the banning of sex work, or most anything else. When the government decides to just ban something, others step in to control the market without any rule of law or responsibility to the public.

11
the_mitsuhiko 19 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone from a country where all form of prostitution is legal and regulated it did not really ever come up as something odd when I grew up. Prostitution is becoming less prominent in recent years because families move into places traditionally frequented by prostitutes but the industry is healthy as ever as far as I can see.
12
jacknews 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I neither endorse nor reject this paper, but it is an interesting argument:http://assets.csom.umn.edu/assets/71503.pdf
13
plainOldText 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Speaking of various models of legislating sex, I found this TED talk quite informative: https://www.ted.com/talks/juno_mac_the_laws_that_sex_workers...
14
k__ 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's legal in Germany too.

My girlfriend grew up in a red light district.

She said it was mostly okay, the nights were a bit rough, because the clients would often argue loudly with the girls right before her window.

But the "madame" of a brothel around the corner would always look after the children going to school in the morning so they wouldn't be bothered.

15
randyrand 18 hours ago 1 reply      
off topic: This is why states rights is so important. Each state acts as an incubator for ideas. Its 50 experiments running all at once.
16
ilaksh 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Do you guys think that the majority of sex workers really enjoy their work or prefer it? Do you think that this is the career they prefer? Do you think it may have some affect on their psychological well-being?

I believe prostitution is an indication of a lack economic and social well-being both in the case of buyers and sellers.

Within about one or two decades maximum there will be revolutionary advances in robotics including things like much better weight-to power ratio artificial muscles and increased bio-mimicry. This will lead to truly life-like sex robots. Along the same lines, the majority of "ordinary" jobs that humans can currently do without high-bandwidth connections to computers or control over them will be replaced with sophisticated AIs and robots or automation. The perspective on sex work and general objectification of women will shift more towards one side then.

17
forkLding 19 hours ago 7 replies      
I wonder if government-operated brothels could be a better solution, this way there is a constant monitor on sex workers and human trafficking while providing extra income to the government and being able to protect the sex worker/citizens its meant to protect.

Not sure what would be the obvious cons. Happy to know if anyone points any out.

18
stretchwithme 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the best way to handle prostitution and recreational drugs is to let each neighborhood decide what is allowed. If the majority of residents and majority of property owners are okay with a particular activity, it should be legal there.

There are always going to be problems allowing these activities and problems with banning them. If you let each neighborhood decide, at least you're moving the problem to areas that are ready and willing to deal with the problems. They can tax it, regulate it, provide security, drug treatment etc. That means the neighborhood has to form some kind of legal entity, of course.

And you're giving the customers reasons to go where they are welcome. By doing it on a neighborhood level, it becomes much easier to comply. It's easier to drive 15 blocks than to go to the next county.

And I think enforcement where it is banned can just be done with fines, giving people a good reason to take their business to where it is welcome. There's no reason to put people in prison.

19
wcummings 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Rhode Islander checking in. I'll share a story I heard from someone downcity many years ago, before this law was reversed in '09.

Buddy's (7-time wiseguy mayor of Providence, and 2-time convicted felon) usual driver was unavailable, and a detective was assigned to escort him. The mayor gives his new driver an address. The detective recognizes it, bit can't quite place it, and gets on his way.

When he gets there, it hits him. "Buddy, this is the address of a known brothel".

Buddy quips back "you must be a detective" and disappears into the building.

20
MachineMan 19 hours ago 0 replies      
A fitting phenomenon for the "Red Island" :)
21
muse900 18 hours ago 0 replies      
prostitution is probably the oldest profession.
22
lngnmn 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Look no farther than some South Asian societies. Countries with no madness around prostitution are better off socially.

It is not an accident that Thailand is a Buddhist country - people are tolerant to whatever is not harming others living beings.

Too much pressure on sexual issues is a sign of primitive authoritarian societies (who are cooksure that they know better what is right and what is wrong than biology and evolution).

23
cuckcuckspruce 14 hours ago 1 reply      
24
bitwize 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Legalizing prostitution increases human trafficking:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X12...

The correct approach is to decriminalize providing, and crack down hard on buyers.

25
nvahalik 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Honest question... for those of you on board with this: how do you reconcile the complaints about the objectification of women as sex objects (and how that harms women) with this?
18
The slow currentTimeMillis() pzemtsov.github.io
321 points by jsnell  3 days ago   51 comments top 21
1
amluto 3 days ago 1 reply      
This post has a confused notion of why the TSC isn't used. It has nothing to do with integration with NTP -- it's because the kernel thinks the TSC doesn't work right on the machine in question. The kernel logs should explain why. Also, on some hypervisors, there are TSC problems, but the situation is slowly improving.

Also:

> The second value is the nanoseconds time, relative to the last second, shifted left by gtod->shift, Or, rather, it the time measured in some units, which becomes the nanosecond time when shifted right by gtod->shift, which, in our case, is 25. This is very high precision. One nanosecond divided by 225 is about 30 attoseconds. Perhaps, Linux kernel designers looked far ahead, anticipating the future when well need such accuracy for our time measurement.

That's not what's going on. This is straightforward fixed point arithmetic, where the point just happens to be variable.

2
heinrichhartman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Theo Schlossnagle and Riley Berton have recently implemented and discussed timing functions with the following performance characteristics (25-50ns):

 Operating System Call System Call Time Mtev-variant CallSpeedup Linux 3.10.0 gettimeofday 35.7 ns/op 35.7 ns/op x1.00 Linux 3.10.0 gethrtime 119.8 ns/op 40.4 ns/op x2.96 OmniOS r151014 gettimeofday 304.6 ns/op 47.6 ns/op x6.40 OmniOS r151014 gethrtime 297.0 ns/op 39.9 ns/op x7.44
Here is the article: https://www.circonus.com/2016/09/time-but-faster/

They also use TSC and (CPU-bound) background threads to update shared memory.

The implementation is available as C library for Linux and Illumos/OmniOS:https://github.com/circonus-labs/libmtev/blob/master/src/uti...

3
the8472 3 days ago 1 reply      
Related and required reading if you're doing microbenchmarking: https://shipilev.net/blog/2014/nanotrusting-nanotime/

Also the, tsc CPU flag is not sufficient since early tsc implementations had issues that made them unusuable for walltime measurements. There's also constant_tsc and nonstop_tsc which are relevant because they indicate that tsc keeps ticking independent of frequency scaling and CPU low power modes, only then do they become usable for low-overhead userspace timekeeping.

hotspot and the linux vDSO generally take care of doing the right thing, depending on CPU flags, so the TSC is used for currentTimeMillis and nanoTime if it can determine that it is reliable, otherwise more expensive but accurate methods are used.

The article's own conclusion:

> The title isnt completely correct: currentTimeMillis() isnt always slow. However, there is a case when it is.

It only happens under circumstances where the TSCs are not used.

4
curun1r 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is this really new? I remember when System.nanoTime was introduced in the early 2000s largely because of the reasons stated here. System.currentTimeMillis was slow and had jitter which made it non-monotonic but it was the best method to call if your timestamp needed to interact with the world outside the JVM. In contrast, if all you cared about was relative times, you'd get a speed and accuracy boost from using System.nanoTime since it actually was monotonic and while a single nanosecond value was pretty meaningless, the difference between two nanosecond values was basically accurate.

Benchmarks are a class of problems where the overall time doesn't matter, only the relative time (end - start). The fact that he's using System.currentTimeMillis for his start and end values doesn't give me confidence that he's very knowledgeable about what's to follow.

5
brendangregg 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good analysis, and yet again, this is why we use TSC at Netflix. I benchmarked them all a while ago. I also put "clocksource" on my tools diagram, so people remember that clocksource is a thing: http://www.brendangregg.com/Perf/linux_perf_tools_full.png
6
jwilk 3 days ago 0 replies      
> The vDSO is mapped to a new address each time (probably, some security feature). However, the function is always placed at the same address as above (0x00007ffff7ffae50) when run under gdb (Im not sure what causes this).

GDB ( 7) disables ASLR by default:

https://sourceware.org/gdb/current/onlinedocs/gdb/Starting.h...

7
hyperpape 3 days ago 0 replies      
"The way to test the performance of System.currentTimeMillis() is straightforward"

I'd be worried about that claim. The article executes System.currentTimeMillis in a loop and sums the values. That takes care of dead code elimination, but it will still be subject to other distortionary effects (https://shipilev.net/#benchmarking-1). Maybe the fact that System.currentTimeMillis() is implemented using native code reduces some of the JIT induced benchmarking pitfalls, but I would still prefer to try and use JMH to test.

I'm also surprised that performance of System.currentTimeMillis can fall down so far under some circumstances. In one of Cliff Click's talks (maybe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vizTDSz8NU), he mentions that some JVM benchmarks run it many millions of times a second.

8
msluyter 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is especially relevant if you're running in the cloud.

We've recently run into slow performance with gettimeofday on Xen systems, such as EC2 (see: https://blog.packagecloud.io/eng/2017/03/08/system-calls-are...) This hits particularly hard if you're running instrumented code. Switching the clocksource from xen to tsc seems to help and we're still evaluating the ramifications of doing so (various sources including the above seem to suggest that tsc is unsafe and prone to clock skew, but others suggest that it's ok on more modern processors.)

9
js2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Most Android developers will know this already, but currentTimeMillis() is probably not the call you want for event timing:

https://developer.android.com/reference/android/os/SystemClo...

10
pjc50 3 days ago 3 replies      
The Windows version is absolutely brilliant: a shared area mapped into every process. Because of the way page tables work, this costs only one page (4k) of RAM and only has to be written once by the OS.
11
bitcharmer 3 days ago 1 reply      
On a properly configured environment TSC is the default clocksource. I have no idea why one would want to precisely measure time with any other clock source.

On relatively contemporary systems clock_gettime(CLOCK_REALTIME) will give you a nanosecond resolution wall clock time and the cost of going through JNI will cost you around 11-13ns, so with a simple native wrapper in java the cost is negligible. Although interesting, the whole study of the cost of obtaining the current time in Java with currentTimeMillis() with clock sources other than TSC is somewhat irrelevant.

12
blauditore 3 days ago 0 replies      
For what it's worth, currentTimeMillis() shouldn't be used for interval measurements anyway, as it might not be continuous in some scenarios. A better alternative is System.nanoTime().
13
loeg 3 days ago 0 replies      
So there's a performance bug in Java's currentTimeMillis() implementation on Linux, where it uses gettimeofday() instead of clock_gettime() with a coarse timer (even the TSC method is ~3x slower or worse than the coarse timer, which has sufficient precision for currentTimeMillis()). Is there a bug filed for this? It seems to warrant one.
14
Ensorceled 3 days ago 1 reply      
People have been discovering and rediscovering gettimeofday is really slow for a long time now. I remember switching to OS specific equivalents for AIX, SunOS, Ultrix, HP-UX, etc. back in the late 80s and early 90s.
15
fokinsean 3 days ago 0 replies      
I started off being able to mostly comprehend what's going on, but about half way down I got lost in the assembly and realized I barely remember much from my OS/Architecture courses in school.

This was a solid reminder my every day work sits atop the shoulders of giants and I am much appreciative.

16
kodablah 3 days ago 0 replies      
An easy way to do this from the outside would be to create a JVMTI agent, and make currentTimeMillis call into your JNI version. Here's an example in Rust of me doing it for a bit more involved purpose: https://github.com/cretz/stackparam. Then people only have to pass your shared lib as a cli arg to get the benefit.
17
amelius 3 days ago 1 reply      
> Some background thread regularly updates three double-words there, which contain the high part of the value, the low part, and the high part again.

So to implement a clock, they are using a different thread that updates a counter every millisecond or so? Isn't this a bit inefficient?

18
dingo_bat 3 days ago 3 replies      
Really love these kind of in depth investigations. However, I still want to know how windows manages to update the value in the shared memory so consistently without any impact to system performance.
19
empath75 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's sort of amazing that 600 ns is considered slow.
20
ramgorur 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think I've also read somewhere about a bug in the java Random class, it was something about after N iterations, the number starts from iteration 1 where N is not very big (i.e. clearly visible pattern/cyclic repeat in the numbers). But I can't find it anymore, if someone knows its whereabouts, please let me know.
21
pzemtsov 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've added an update on the nanoTime() to the article
19
Eager to Burst His Own Bubble, a Techie Made Apps to Randomize His Life npr.org
316 points by ZeljkoS  15 hours ago   129 comments top 28
1
et-al 8 hours ago 7 replies      
To a certain extent, this how we used to travel back in the day.

You hung out in a hostel, had conversations with other travelers (instead of thumbing through Instagram), and let the randomness of other people and life, not apps, dictate your itinerary. You walk down a street, "oh hey that looks interesting", and wander down a quiet alley that leads to cute cafe, or jump in the back of a tuk-tuk headed to a waterfall that may or may not really exist, but who cares? You're riding the wave. One of the main reasons for travel/holidays is to break from routine, and the single most significant one can do, bear with me Silicon Valley, is to put away that smartphone. Try exercising your intuition instead of apps.

Many folks nowadays have optimised their lives so much that they've needed to create a noise-generator to bring back some humanity.

2
reustle 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I actually met Max while we both happened to be in Thailand in 2015. We spent the day on bicycles following the directions his script told him, without hesitation. Regardless of where it was in the city, that's where we went next (a laundry mat, daycare, cafes, and the zoo iirc). Nothing was skipped, because it was what the software told us to do.

Here are some pictures from that day https://goo.gl/photos/gyCNRz2rs7zLJrt79

3
maxhawkins 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If you want to try this out check out my Facebook group, The Third Party:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/the3rdparty/

You can send us a message to receive a randomly selected event near you. People from all over are attending the events and posting about their experiences in the group.

4
simmons 11 hours ago 3 replies      
This is great. I think that the illusion of time speeding up as we get older is due to getting into a routine where we do the same thing every day, and the brain begins compressing memories as our everyday experiences become less novel. Using a "randomizer lite" program to shake things up might be a good start to breaking the routine.
5
owenversteeg 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Ah, but what was his source of randomness? Perhaps he didn't have enough entropy and now he's got to do the last few years all over again ;)

I think I naturally do a bit of that myself: whenever I have some empty time, I fill it with something "random", only instead of choosing randomly I often choose the cheapest option. For example, I once booked a flight to Iran departing hours after I bought the ticket, simply because it was the cheapest option for an interesting place to fly (under $180 round-trip.)

I think the design choices really impact the end result, though. One minor design flaw might result in completely eliminating a whole lot of interesting places or things, which is what I'd be scared of. For example, that cheap fare to Iran was only on one travel search site, which didn't have an API. By selecting one booking website as an API, and letting the algorithm decide for me, I wouldn't have gone to Iran.

Similarly, there are a lot of things that wouldn't seem like an "option" to a computer but are an option to me. I've wanted to see Greenland from the air, so I've been taking a lot of flights that pass over Greenland on the way to places I needed to go anyway. But if the algorithm decided for me, it would probably have booked air tours over Greenland - substantially more expensive in terms of both time and money. It wouldn't be able to say "hey, you know that trip across the Atlantic you have in a few weeks? Why not pay $25 more to have it fly over Greenland?"

6
dogruck 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Max should meet Luke Rhinehart -- The Dice Man: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dice_Man
7
Mz 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This "I'm bored with my life. I shall appify it and travel to random countries" stuff is a whole level beyond First World Problems. It is something like First World Problems of the Jet Set. Yet, this article doesn't cast him as a member of the Jet Set.

Modern Life has gone to some rather weird places that were simply inconceivable until incredibly recently.

8
throwaway2016a 12 hours ago 4 replies      
This is an awesome idea.

I've spent a lot of energy making apps to automate my life and management my schedule. Now I'm tempted to also have it throw in something random now and again. I couldn't go to these extremes (I couldn't pick up and move to another country for instance) but it would be cool to say do things less extreme... like pick a random place for dinner or watch this random Netflix movie.

9
ZeljkoS 15 hours ago 0 replies      
10
bartread 7 hours ago 1 reply      
My immediate reaction to this was, "hey, this is awesome," and actually it really is. I think it's an interesting and creative solution to a problem a lot of us share - admittedly whilst recognising that for large swathes of the world's population this would be a great problem to have.

Still, there's that nagging little voice in the back of my head: part of me can't help wondering what will happen, and how people will come to view it, if/when his apps catch on (as I suspect they will).

11
gehwartzen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The past eqivilent was flipping to a random page in the yellow pages, throwing a dart at a map, or flipping a coin. It's funny that we need a app to randomize our life at all. I suppose it is largely just how we acces information now.
12
narrator 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the plot of the indie movie called "Buggaboo": http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0206610/

The main character, who is an Indian engineer living in Silicon Valley, says to his friends : "What if you could randomize your life?". That's all I'll say. It's a good movie. I'm not going to spoil it for you guys.

13
avip 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Inspiration from Borges maybe?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lottery_in_Babylon(it's in the highly entertaining Ficciones collection)

14
driverdan 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the idea of random surprises.

I created a simple app that picks random items from a Chinese ecommerce site within a set budget. My long term goal was to use ML to learn what each user liked and send them random items on a schedule, selecting from multiple sites.

I never finished it because other things took precedence but the random selection part works.

Anyone interested in this as a service?

15
rnprince 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of undergrad class registration, when everything satisfying a general education requirement would fill up and the server would crash the instant it started.

I didn't choose to take History and Religion of Ancient Israel, but it was the class I got the most out of.

17
jpatokal 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The Degree Confluence Project is an interesting version of random travel: people visiting arbitrary lat/long intersections.

http://confluence.org/

18
lolc 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Well he won't meet me. I live in the No-Facebook Bubble.

Though sometimes the parties I help organise are listed on the Facebook by third parties. So there's that slim chance...

19
dubin 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone who's interested in more ideas along these lines should look at Tyler Cowen's list of how to be less complacent: http://tylercowen.com/complacent-class-quiz/
20
Tade0 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Great idea, but I don't need an app for that. My fiance takes on this role - we've been living in another country for almost two years because of one idea she had. I'm picking the next place once both of us get bored with this one. Suggestions, as always, welcome. Has to be in the EU though.
21
628C6l0 10 hours ago 2 replies      
i've been doing it for almost four years now, and it's amazing to see how wrong and how frequently wrong your preconceptions and expectations can be.

you don't need an app to do that though. a spreadsheet is perfect for that purpose (and telling Google Assistant to 'flip a coin' or 'give me a random number between 1 and 20') and gives unlimited flexibility and less reliance on developer to implement features you want. not a lot of people appreciate this, but sometimes trying to accomplish a task with the general-purpose tools you have at hand can lead you to discover solutions so good it is in fact superior to any dedicated tool.

22
clamprecht 12 hours ago 1 reply      
See also, Geohashing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geohashing

"Geohashing is an outdoor recreational activity inspired by the webcomic xkcd, in which participants have to reach a random location (chosen by a computer algorithm), prove their achievement by taking a picture of a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or another mobile device and then tell the story of their trip online."

23
barsonme 2 hours ago 0 replies      
some people use apps, others of us have ADHD that works just as well :-)
24
thebigspacefuck 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God"
25
ghosttie 9 hours ago 0 replies      
So basically diceliving
26
allard 5 hours ago 0 replies      
like John Cage
27
stillhere 11 hours ago 5 replies      
28
user432468 8 hours ago 3 replies      
NPR so diligently points out white privilege. It couldn't be that he dresses well, has good hygiene, is educated, well off, and speaks politely. It is only because he's white? In San Francisco of all places?

> At first, he was nervous: What if people wouldn't let him in? But, as a kind of unassuming white guy, he actually didn't have this problem. (And Max acknowledges this privilege.)

20
Roman Ruins Found in France Are Called Exceptional nytimes.com
275 points by whocansay  3 days ago   145 comments top 10
1
cpr 3 days ago 6 replies      
Some beautiful timber-framed tithe barns from the 800's survive in England.

https://www.google.com/search?q=english+tithe+barns+timber-f...

Build with massive timbers (no nails), keep the wood dry (and watch for beetles), and your beautiful, practical structure can last many centuries.

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/oak-beams-new-college-oxf...

A friend of ours recently built a large tithe barn replica (including the masterful traditional English joinery, more complex than American) in North Guilford, CT at the Dominican Sisters' convent (unfortunately, can't find it on the web anywhere), and it's truly an eighth wonder of the world (at least in the timber framing business).

(Timber-framing is my (somewhat now dormant) hobby, and also a convenient hobby-horse here. ;-)

2
Koshkin 3 days ago 7 replies      
I wonder if anything from today will still be around in 2000 years, it is such a long time by today's standards.

The humankind progressed very slowly from the early time of Babylon (some five thousand years ago) through the time of Rome - both civilizations seem equally ancient to us. But today, even one hundred years seems an incredibly long time.

On the other hand - and somehow it is hard to believe - hundreds or thousands of years ago people were the same as now, with the individual and cultural differences from us probably being smaller than the differences that exist between us right now.

3
RubberMullet 3 days ago 0 replies      
Every time I read about one of these discoveries I'm reminded of Zeugma[1] and the effort to save the artifacts and mosaics[2] discovered there before it was flooded. The BBC made a great documentary[3] about it.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeugma,_Commagene

[2] http://cdn.sci-news.com/images/enlarge/image_2307_1e-Zeugma-...

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

4
erikpukinskis 3 days ago 0 replies      
5
hourislate 3 days ago 14 replies      
I find it amazing that you can find Roman mosaics that have survived 2000 years without any significant damage but the tile installation in your bathroom barely last 10-15 years without maintenance or renovation.

In 2000 years they will still be finding Roman Ruins but nothing from the 20 + century will survive.

6
blahman2 3 days ago 1 reply      
Such discoveries (yes, of similar or greater quality) are made so frequently in the southern parts of the Balkans / Italy that they are almost skipped in the news. Yet, when it happens in France it makes the NYT and the event is 'exceptional'.
7
coss 3 days ago 1 reply      
I wish I could go and help at an excavation. Anyone know if there's volunteer programs?
8
soufron 3 days ago 0 replies      
The oldest timber-frame that I have seen was in France at the Hotel-Dieu in Tonnerre, Burgundy. With 90m meters long, it's a sight: https://hoteldieudetonnerre.jimdo.com/
9
spodek 3 days ago 1 reply      
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
10
HelloNurse 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't get how this excavation is exceptional, compared to sites like Veleia or Barcelona with similarly buried buildings or really well preserved sites like Pompeii.
21
More people riding bikes makes cycling safer for everyone, major new study finds cyclingweekly.com
219 points by okket  2 days ago   174 comments top 15
1
awjr 2 days ago 4 replies      
Denmark just worked out it stopped 55,000 sick days and where able to persuade 34% of car drivers that tried an eBike to switch to an eBike. https://cyclingindustry.news/danish-study-outlines-economic-...

Cycling can reduce risk of death by 41%, death by cancer 45% and death from heart disease by 46% http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-39641122

A single 10ft cycle track can carry the same number of people as 7 lanes of car traffic.

Netherlands is currently at 10% obesity and going down to 8.5% by 2030. The UK is at 27% and predicted to go up to 35%.

So cycling really does appear be to that miracle solution for urban transport but you absolutely cannot 'share space'. Absolutely key to segregate. A good end to end network is only as good as its weakest link and too many times, town planners give in to politicians and local residents and deliver stuff that really is does not provide inclusive ages 8-80 cycle routes.

2
gregdoesit 2 days ago 1 reply      
Come to Amsterdam to see first hand proof of this study. Virtually no one wears helmets... because you don't have to. Infrastructure is designed to be bikers first. Drivers are constantly aware of bikes and also receive training to avoid the most common accidents (hitting a biker when opening the door - see the Dutch Reach).

The biggest threat to a biker in this city is another (often less experienced) biker, pedestrians not looking around or trying to cross tram tracks parallel. However, it did take almost 40 years to get here though, changes starting in the 1970s - I do hope many cities will follow a similar route.

3
moonka 2 days ago 2 replies      
I believe it. After picking up cycling a couple years ago, I've noticed I am a lot more aware of bikes on the road, and drive with more care. I've also noticed my family driving more carefully around bikes as I've mentioned close calls I've had. I imagine it also leads to more willingness to invest in cycling infrastructure, which tends to make things safer as well.
4
u801e 2 days ago 0 replies      
I think a lot of the problems that cyclists have when riding amongst motor vehicles have to do with existing laws (such as riding as far right as practicable when going less than the normal speed of traffic).

In reality, most traffic lanes are not wide enough for a cyclist and a car to travel side by side with sufficient clearance between the two vehicles. A cyclist is about 2.5 to 3 feet wide and many states have laws requiring at least feet of distance between them and the cyclist. The cyclist will also ride about 2 to 3 feet from the right edge of the lane. A car is a little less than 6 feet wide on average.

If you add those distances up, you end up with a total of 14 to 15 feet. Even on interstate highways, lanes may only 12 feet wide. On surface streets, they may only be 10 feet wide. Because of this, you end up with the situation where cars will "lane split" while passing a cyclist and frequently misjudge how far they are from the cyclist when passing them. Also, the lane splitting car cannot leave enough room for cars in the adjacent lane because the lanes do not have sufficient width to accommodate a vehicle and half of another vehicle.

Another problem is that cyclists riding to the right aren't as visible to traffic as opposed to those who are "taking the lane". They're more vulnerable to collisions such as "right-hooks", traffic entering from side streets and opposing left turning traffic who didn't see them.

The laws should be changed to say that cyclists are like slow moving vehicles who are entitled to the full use of the lane they're riding in and passing traffic must move completely into the adjacent lane, when safe to do so, to pass the cyclist and only return to their original lane of travel after they have sufficient clearance. The law should also allow vehicles to pass cyclists on a double-yellow when its safe to do so with the same conditions as above.

This will legally sanction the "take the lane" type of riding and make cyclists more visible to the rest of traffic.

5
Theodores 2 days ago 2 replies      
More people riding also makes it normal. 15 years ago, working for a cycling wholesale distributor I was the only one that cycled to work. Yet I felt I had to explain why I cycled just so people didn't think I was a banned drink driver.

In 2017 I am glad to say that all the bike parking is taken at 8.55 in the morning and there are bike to work posters in the kitchen.

There is nothing new in this study. Perceptions have changed though and I thank all who have participated in this.

6
ilaksh 2 days ago 4 replies      
You mean less dangerous. To me, San Diego and Ft. Worth are average areas. In these places bicycles are relatively rare compared to cars. I am always surprised when I see them.

Cars weigh thousands of pounds. Consider the safety precautions for cars with air bags, crumple zones, and crash testing. There is no protection from cars for someone on a bicycle.

They try to say riding on the sidewalk with a bike is more dangerous because cars do not look out for bicycles at driveways and such.

But personally in most areas I don't feel safe biking on the street, and would rather stay on the sidewalk like I did when I was a kid. I would just have to pause to check before crossing driveways and intersections.

I believe that there will eventually be something like a smart safe city where 2000+ pounds vehicles do not freely mix with pedestrians, cyclists, and baby strollers. There should be physical barriers or totally separate walkways.

Think about it. They can't even sell a car without an airbag anymore. Yet what chance do you have from a physics standpoint to be truly safe when the other vehicle exceeds your mass by 2000+ pounds?

7
astrostl 1 day ago 0 replies      
I love the concept, but no way would I try to pull it off in 99% of the USA. I know a lot of road biking, bike to work, etc. enthusiasts and every damned one of 'em has some horrific hit-and-run story :-/
8
stordoff 1 day ago 0 replies      
Not to dismiss the study (because other studies have certainly found counter-intuitive results before), but I've always thought this would be an obvious result. If other road users are used to dealing with cyclists, and expecting them to be there at all, it's hard to see how that would make cycling less safe.
9
anonu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I ride in NYC and have for almost a decade now. The city has taken major leaps forward at becoming more bicycle friendly, thanks in part to Citi Bike proliferation and the addition of more protected bike paths. I think there's still a long way to go - especially in terms of education of riders around proper biking etiquette, especially towards pedestrians
10
projektir 2 days ago 4 replies      
I'm still deeply uncomfortable about riding a bike next to / in front of a car compared to the sidewalk, and I'm not sure how to overpower that fear...
11
newy 2 days ago 0 replies      
I've always believed this. More bikers on the road creates more awareness from drivers, and also more investment by cities into bike infrastructure, including dedicated and protected bike lanes.

More bikes available also means more bikers, something we're working on at Spin for US cities. Get in touch (email in profile) if this seems like a problem space interesting to you :)

12
trevyn 1 day ago 0 replies      
Or, generalized, more people doing X makes X safer for everyone. :)
13
discombobulate 2 days ago 0 replies      
Bike network effects!
14
zeep 1 day ago 0 replies      
if everyone was riding a bicycle, bicycle riders would be safe indeed...
15
Alex3917 2 days ago 5 replies      
This doesn't show that biking has gotten safer. It may have, but later adopters of biking are also less likely to engage in risky behavior.

Similarly, as the percentage of folks who use heroin increases, the relative rate of overdoses declines. But that doesn't mean that heroin itself has become any more or less safe.

22
A tall chimney to facilitate heat exchange in the atmosphere superchimney.org
284 points by chr1  3 days ago   187 comments top 37
1
lend000 2 days ago 1 reply      
For those skeptical of the science, note that there are large caves that exhibit this property, such as:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%B1narg%C3%B6z%C3%BC_Cave#...

It seems like if the inside of the chimney column had a spiral shape, similar to a screw socket, the upward air pressure might alleviate some of the stress and make the column more structurally feasible. Granted, it would also dissipate some of the energy as heat.

2
vmarsy 3 days ago 2 replies      
This reminds me of Solar updraft tower prototypes [1], which concentrates heat at the bottom of the chimney instead of expecting cold air at the top of the chimney.

There's still a delta of temperature between the top and the bottom, but instead of

 T_bottom_chimney = T_hot_ambient_air_bottom T_top_chimney = T_cold_ambient_air_top
it is :

 T_bottom_chimney = T_much_hotter_than_ambient_air_top T_top_chimney = T_ambient_air_top
Everytime I start reading things like this, I wish I had a home with similar 'magic', like Solar chimneys[2] and other techniques[3],

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

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_chimney

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground-coupled_heat_exchanger

3
saalweachter 2 days ago 1 reply      
So my question is "why wouldn't this just rip in half from the forces it's under?"

The upward force for the 20m chimney is calculated at ~600 tons. 600 tons is not a lot for a building to support in the downward direction, but quite a bit for a fabric tube to support, in tension. It's the rope/(space) elevator problem - you need a super material to handle that much force, don't you?

But aside from worrying that our wacky inflatable tube of death will rip free from its tethers and tumble freely in the wind, killing thousands, I actually really like this idea, as geo-engineering. It is a process that can be stopped and started relatively cheaply, unlike a lot of other proposals. If the tube has unforseen effects, it could be deflated and reeled in, unlike eg throwing particulate into the upper atmosphere.

4
the_rosentotter 2 days ago 2 replies      
So five kilometers of flailing inflatable tube man.

I get that the upwards wind force can sustain the fabric structure, but it is hard to imagine that it could also carry a bunch of huge turbines, as well as the cabling required to carry the generated electricity. Not to mention safety concerns. Does this seem unrealistic to anyone else?

Also, would it be possible to do a proof-of-concept using an existing man made structure like Burj Khalifa class skyscrapers? Presumably it would be easier to deploy a tube off the top of one of these than to build one from scratch.

5
smoyer 2 days ago 0 replies      
If the column of air is really moving at 300 MPH, they'd better diffuse that at the bottom so people (and things) aren't sucked into the chimney (it would suck to be ejected at the top without a parachute but you could probably sell a ride to the top to the wing-suiters).
6
mikeash 3 days ago 4 replies      
"The inside and outside air will be rising up. However, the air outside will be cooling adiabatically, so its temperature will be dropping. The air inside will be not affected by adiabatic cooling and will maintain its energy, so it will be warmer and less dense than outside air."

Is this a joke, or a crazy person? Air in the tube will expand and cool just like air outside the tube does.

7
robocat 2 days ago 1 reply      
8
datadata 2 days ago 1 reply      
Engineering issues aside, to evaluate if a super chimney would be energetically viable you need to understand the concept of "Convective available potential energy" or CAPE--https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convective_available_potential.... CAPE has dimensions of energy/mass and a describes how much energy is released by raising a mass of air to some higher elevation.

CAPE is used to forecast storm development, as updrafts can more likely spontaneously form when there is more energy released by the updraft. CAPE values can also be zero or negative, in which case there would be no available energy to sustain an updraft. From my understanding, CAPE is the only factor that would determine if a super chimney could work at a given time.

I have not found a good resource on global CAPE patterns including daily patterns, but it seems very likely that there is any fixed location and fixed elevation that always has a positive CAPE value. It would be an absolute requirement to find such a location for this project to work.

You should also be able to calculate a crude bound on the maximum updraft velocity simply as a conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy. Wikipedia says that exceptionally high CAPE values proceeding extreme thunderstorms are around 5kj/kg, which would accelerate a mass from rest to 100m/s (220mph). Of course this is an extreme value, typical values are more like 1kj/kg, which correspond to a velocity of 44m/s (100mph).

Here is a really good paper on CAPE and atmospheric convection heat engines: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/1520-0469%281996...

9
yohann305 3 days ago 1 reply      
Anyone here could run a super tall chimney software simulation ?

I'm super interested in seeing someone confirm or debunk this.Anyone else interested, upvote please

10
jcrawfordor 3 days ago 1 reply      
The short story "Shortstack" by Walt Richmond and Leigh Richmond depicts this idea and was published in Analog in '64. Likely coincidental, but amusing to see '60s science fiction apparently made flesh.
11
humanfromearth 3 days ago 2 replies      
For the 5km chimney it needs to hold on 500km/h winds. For scale a category 5 hurricane is 250 km/h. Is it even possible to have that kind of structure with existing materials?
12
gtt 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've tried to simulate 1km chimney in Comsol, but I cannot make it converge to a solution. If anyone is interested, the model is here https://mega.nz/#!jFgBxI6J!jdxloYFwcuk_YyGcIMlOmJTKcPbxyD2B4... (may be I'm doing something wrong with simulation parameters, help would be very much appreciated!)
13
randyrand 3 days ago 1 reply      
This will also function as a hell of a bird vacuum.
14
foota 3 days ago 1 reply      
Here's my analysis from maybe wrong principles. If you have slightly more dense air beneath slightly less dense air, the air will experience a net force upwards. If this net force is stronger than gravity, then the air will experience upwards acceleration. This will continue as long as there is a difference strong enough. At the top of the tube, there is no more force since the density will be the same since the air will spread out after exiting. (If it's not already at the same density after going through the tube).

Looking at it this way this seems sound to me, am I wrong?

15
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 3 replies      
Presumably you just lay a pipe that goes up the side of Everest and free power!

I wonder if the author asked the question "Why don't we have tornadoes all the time?"

If they had, that would have lead them to the physics of tornadoes. In my case it was the physics of so called 'dust devils' in the desert which are much smaller phenomena but based on the same ideas. Warm air rising through cooler air.

You might ask, but why don't we have them all the time? And the answer is that as air goes up, it spreads out, and as it spreads out it becomes less dense, and the lack of density is perceived as a colder 'temperature' even though the air molecules still have more kinetic energy and are thus 'hotter'.

In the video the tube is supposed to constrain the air (which it will) and the warmer air will rise inside of it, but without an energy source the warm air rises until its 'weight' is equivalent to the un-risen air underneath it, at which point it stops rising and the system is stable. If you were to cool off the bottom the air would start sinking again.

This has been experienced time and again by inexperienced makers of fires in their fireplaces. If you don't put enough energy into the air to make it rise, it comes back down the chimney and fills your living space with smoke. A fireplace is a remarkable little machine, where the fire heats the air, which pulls in more air as the air above rises, which puts more oxygen into the fire and increases its energy output etc. But without the fire burning in the fireplace the air stops moving.

Tornadoes benefit from a mass of really cold air sitting on top of warm air. This does two things, one the cold air above pushes down on the warm air to pressurize it, and two when a "hole" begins forming in the cold air mass it operates like an inverted tub drain and the warm air starts draining out of the tub. The energy source for a tornado is the temperature differential that is set up by the result of moisture condensing out of the air and super cooling the air around it.

Similarly a hurricane is powered by the temperature differential between the ocean and the air above it.

All three systems (fireplace, tornado, hurricane) share a common theme, there has to be a source of energy for them to operate. Without it, the air reaches equilibrium and just sits there. No magic allowed.

That said, if instead you built a tunnel, then you could connect two different air masses and extract energy from two different pressure differentials. The most interesting ideas have a tunnel under the Rockies or under the Sierras between the Mojave desert on one side and the milder (and moister) climate on the other. To the delta you can get from that is linear with respect to distance and/or a geographic feature that can inhibit the natural balancing of the air masses (like a range of tall mountains).

Sadly neither super chimneys nor lighter than air vacuum balloons are workable ideas.

Edit: It occurs to me that if you could make the chimney high enough you could put the top in the underside of the jetstream, then you could suck air up using the venturi effect.

16
Tarrosion 3 days ago 1 reply      
So many signals suggesting this is a wild physics-defying idea that could never work, e.g. how many websites claiming 'this one neat trick solves global warming' really hold the key to solving global warming?

I hope that's not the case and by this time next decade we're all laughing about that century and a half where we put so much carbon in the atmosphere wow wasn't that a hoot...

Realistically, I am sympathetic to the idea that geoengineering, massive structures and engineering projects enabled by modern materials, etc. deserve more thought.

17
scythe 2 days ago 0 replies      
These geoengineering proposals should be understood as mitigation strategies to be implemented after we have reduced carbon emissions, since even then we still have a problem. But this one seems very dubious.

>Speaking in terms of thermodynamic, we can say that chimney prevents adiabatic cooling of a rising parcel of air. Normally, when hot air freely rises in atmosphere, it expands as it gets higher and pushes the surrounding air. That causes surrounding air to heat and rising air to cool. That process continues until equilibrium is reached. At that point air stops its ascending. Unlike freely rising parcel of air, the air in the chimney is restricted in its horizontal expansion and thus, it is not free rising. When air rises in the chimney it also expands but only into upper direction. It compresses the layer of air above it, heats it up and loses its own heat. At the same time air below does the same thing. And thats how it goes all the way until the chimney exit: layers of air are being pushed and push themselves. That results in maintaining the same amount of heat in every layer of air, and that is how the chimney works.

This explanation ignores gravity. Air above you exerts more pressure on you than air below you, albeit by a tiny amount. But when the only thing moving is air in a 5-kilometer chimney, you can't get something for nothing. For intuition, just imagine the chimney is full of water. The water at the bottom is obviously under more pressure than the water at the top. The chimney faces the same consideration, but the ideal gas law applies.

Furthermore, the equation used in the "Calculations" section:

>q = dh2 /4 [ (2 g (po - pr) h ) / ( (l pr / dh) + pr ) ]

is sourced from this website:

http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/natural-draught-ventilatio...

which rather obviously works from the assumption that the chimney is placed inside of a heated house.

This all seems to be a sort of Sokal effect in climate science, I'm afraid. The paper 'SubiculumCode cited does not really analyze the thermodynamics used for the chimney and points more to the unrealistic dimensions (1 kilometer diameter and 10 kilometers high).

18
shoefly 3 days ago 0 replies      
Whatever we do, it's important that we learn how to control the "ingredients" of our atmosphere. There are so many things that could go wrong with our atmosphere and result in mass extinction. Global warming, ice ages, massive volcanic eruptions, etc. If we can find a way to quickly filter out the crap and rebuild our atmosphere... well, this technology could be used for protecting our Earth and future pursuits in space.
19
desireco42 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think this, however flawed some of the explanation of the effect might be, is something we can try and experiment with fairly easily. Either it can be done, or not. And I believe it can.

Now, we can't let Musk do all the cool things, maybe someone else could step in and fund a project to explore application of updraft towers.

20
mbfg 2 days ago 0 replies      
If you search 'solar tower' on youtube, you will see all kinds of videos of existing installations of things that are similar, albeit most are not as tall, nor are they flexible. But the basic concept appears to be the same. Quite a few of them are from many years ago. So it would seem the idea works to some extent, and perhaps the the idea of a much taller, and flexible variant is the crucial difference that will make a big difference.
21
mbfg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Given this, if successful, is creating storms at the top, won't it continually and repeatedly be hit by lightning? And given that it is some kind of fabric, cause havoc?
22
pdonis 3 days ago 1 reply      
We already have something that does the same thing as this claims to (facilitate heat transfer from the surface to the upper atmosphere): it's called the hydrologic cycle.
23
dghughes 3 days ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't such a chimney take off like a Chinese lantern?
24
toddh 1 day ago 0 replies      
Would it be possible to make these into skyscrapers to house people and businesses? That would handle the financing part of it.
25
fastball 2 days ago 1 reply      
Would the radiant heat from the ground be enough to continue this effect at the same rate during the nighttime?
26
SubiculumCode 3 days ago 0 replies      
Watched the video. Sounds miraculous :) Anyone here knowledgeable of atmospheric thermodynamics?
27
animex 3 days ago 1 reply      
This model must be able to be simulated somehow! To Minecraft!
28
kpil 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is it really a good idea to move more water vapor, a potent greenhouse gas, significantly higher up in the atmosphere?
29
codecamper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Hate to be a downer, but out of 157 comments so far, nobody has mentioned ocean acidification. If there was a way to build these chimneys... we could then go on burning fossil fuels & so then the oceans would become more acidic, possibly leading to the inability of krill to form exoskeletons, removing a one of the main oceanic bottom of the food chain food sources.
30
unabridged 2 days ago 1 reply      
Things like this are the reason I don't think global warming will ever be a problem. Even if this example turns out to be a pipe dream, we will eventually figure out a way to lower the temperature or remove co2 from the atmosphere.
31
stephengillie 3 days ago 2 replies      
Would this be an efficient source of air pressure for the Hyperloop?
32
chroem- 3 days ago 3 replies      
Whoever made this assumes that the chimney wall would be a perfect insulator, which absolutely cannot be the case if it's supposed to be a thin cloth or film barrier. The air would cool to the same temperature as the surrounding atmosphere.

This will not work.

33
foota 3 days ago 1 reply      
Any idea how tall one of these would need to be in theory to support itself? I think that would be a cool sight to see and a great way to prove feasibility.
34
pmoriarty 3 days ago 4 replies      
How much will one of these cost?
35
hossbeast 3 days ago 1 reply      
Unreadable on mobile
36
stefantalpalaru 3 days ago 2 replies      
If a constant air flow is needed to keep the chimney upright, what will happen during the night, when the desert cools down?
37
ryanobjc 3 days ago 1 reply      
A spelling error makes it hard for me to take the proposal seriously.

For something as important as this, the details count. A loose approach to spelling is disturbing.

23
Kids Pass Just Reminded Us How Hard Responsible Disclosure Is troyhunt.com
279 points by ohjeez  2 days ago   89 comments top 15
1
ScottBurson 2 days ago 11 replies      
I have trouble understanding this mindset. It's like, if you were walking away from your car in a parking lot, and someone said "Hey! You've left your car unlocked!", and you yelled at them angrily "Stop looking at my car!!!". It makes no sense at all, and yet it's practically the universal response from people who don't know what they're doing.

People occasionally suggest that software engineers should be professionally licensed. I have a different proposal: I think that people who want to manage a business involving software development should have to get trained and licensed.

ETA: while my proposal is somewhat facetious when considered about all software development, perhaps it's not completely inconceivable that we could require businesses collecting any personal information from users to be licensed and audited. We already have PCI-DSS compliance rules for businesses using credit cards; this would be analogous, though it would have to be enforced by the government, as credit cards wouldn't necessarily be involved.

2
sam_goody 2 days ago 1 reply      
Heh! Nothing new in the behavior.

Mr. Feynman famously found you could lift the combo off a safe [with the a-bomb's secrets] when it was empty. When he alerted the Colonel not to leave his safe open, the response was to:

send a note around to everyone in the plant which said, During his last visit, was Mr. Feyman at any time in your office, near your office, or a walking through your office? Some people answered yes; others said no. The ones who said yes got another note: Please change the combination of your safe. That was his solution. _I_ was the danger!

3
swang 2 days ago 2 replies      
BBC posted a followup...

1. Kidspass spokeswoman said that it was their off-hours crew that blocked Alex and Troy. They were unblocked 10 hours later.

2. They will institute a vulnerability policy as a result of this.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/40776512

4
avaer 2 days ago 3 replies      
Putting text on a page isn't hard stuff. The hard stuff is teaching computer security to an organization that mistakes responsible disclosure for a hack attempt, and thinks a Twitter block will protect them.

It's probably also hard to know what a good security audit looks like, unless you grasp basic security in the first place.

I have no idea what the solution is.

5
coldcode 2 days ago 0 replies      
After so many decades in this industry nothing surprises me at all. Security is usually an afterthought that barely warrants spending more that a token amount. I once did a contract at a public university and found the app that every department used to verify with the state that money was appropriately spent used incrementing id's in the url and used GET to handle the delete button. I wound up fixing it for them on the way out (after weeks of telling me it wasn't a concern). A simple command line script would have deleted the entire database leaving the university with no budget for the upcoming year. Another place I worked kept production passwords in the code repository; when I complained they told me they passed their audits every year so it didn't matter. HIPAA company in the US no less.
6
confounded 2 days ago 2 replies      
Very few companies that use technology are technology companies.

Is there no open-source standard for authentication and user-data management? Do companies really need to roll their own each time?

7
reitanqild 2 days ago 2 replies      
Related - but only to the blocking:

A friend of mine who works with one of the really expensive consulting companies witnessed someone lashing out on twitter about how bad such and such people where.

So he answered along the lines of: I grew up in such and such home, my experience is totally different and I'll be happy to buy you lunch.

Answer: blocked.

Blocking is a power thing for some people. IIRC it used to be a thing in the old Usenet and of course it existed before that in other forms.

8
bvv 1 day ago 0 replies      
This seems like an area where a trusted organization (perhaps the EFF?) could do a lot of good by creating a "for dummies" webpage where the vulnerability disclosure process is explained in layman's terms (i.e. with suitable car analogies...) from a website owner's perspective. Those who discover a vulnerability in a company's IT infrastructure can then submit a link to this page with their reports.
9
S_A_P 2 days ago 1 reply      
All I can imagine that is happening there is panic. Defensive behavior such as this indicates either they don't really know how to fix this quickly, or they just don't care.
10
jamiethompson 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Having used Kids pass. It's a pointless product anyway. Snake oil. All the "deals" are just links to PDFs, many of which have no barcodes and the ones that do are just generic barcodes that don't relate to a particular Kids Pass account. Also more often than not, when you redeem the vouchers they aren't scanned.

There's nothing to stop you downloading all the PDFs you'll ever need and then ending your free trial. Other than the fact that that's technically fraud.

11
rmellow 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sometimes we forget the entrepreneurs behind these services can be technologically illiterate. When they realize they have a problem they don't understand, they get scared, and can easily get confrontational and try to dodge any liability (e.g. by getting the police involved).

How can we teach these entrepreneurs to act? Perhaps by creating an accessible and gently worded guide on how to act; an FAQ from a reputable organization that you can link to every time you disclose a vulnerability? IEEE, EFF I'm looking at both of you.

12
tarr11 2 days ago 1 reply      
What is a good way to implement responsible disclosure for single developer / side projects?

Eg, when you don't have the resources to pay for bug bounties etc.

13
z3t4 1 day ago 2 replies      
Writing "They have a serious vuln" on twitter is not responsible. Try to hack those who have bounties, please leave the others alone, or at least contact them privately when you find a vuln. Give them a chance to fix it, and if you want to be helpful also tell them what the issue is.
14
notyourday 2 days ago 1 reply      
The solution to this is simple. Disclose everything. Have these companies destroyed. Have everyone who works for them fired and become unhirable. Have their houses foreclosed on because they cannot afford to pay the mortgages or rent.

That's the only way to ensure that the security is taken seriously.

15
DanBC 2 days ago 1 reply      
One of the benefits of the oppressive regime in the UK is the proliferation of regulators.

The Information Commissioner is the regulator for this kind of thing.

https://ico.org.uk/

They do take action on this kind of thing.

24
Jeff Deans Lecture for YC AI [video] ycombinator.com
234 points by danicgross  8 hours ago   32 comments top 5
1
deboflo 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Once, in early 2002, when the index servers went down, Jeff Dean answered user queries manually for two hours. Evals showed a quality improvement of 5 points.
2
iandanforth 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The notion of running one giant model that has many sub-talents is epic. I can imagine that all the disparate models they run today could fuse into a giant network that melds predictions and guides computation as required by the task. That seems like a very Jeff Dean scale endeavor.
3
hallman76 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
As a ML enthusiast, this is incredible to watch!

I'm completely blown away that Google was working on full-scale physical architectures that were optimized for these problems. Talk about being two steps ahead of the game!

4
sputknick 6 hours ago 7 replies      
If Tensorflow becomes the default library for Deep learning, is this a good thing or bad thing? Does it help in that all researchers can focus on what's important (the data and results) or does it hurt in that Google now controls an important paradigm for the next generation of computing?
5
bluetwo 5 hours ago 6 replies      
If a doctor misdiagnosis an eye ailment, they might end up with a malpractice lawsuit. If an ML program misdiagnoses an eye ailment, what is going to happen?
25
Can a Living Creature Be as Big as a Galaxy? nautil.us
268 points by dnetesn  2 days ago   183 comments top 29
1
stareatgoats 2 days ago 4 replies      
The question is not correctly formed: what we really want to know is if there are life-like beings that could operate on a totally different scale than ours (both time and size wise, including viruses and whales here). Self centered thinking, i.e. restricting our inquiry to only include protein-based lifeforms or other qualities required on our scale obviously prevents us from having the required open minded mindset.
2
tsunamifury 2 days ago 5 replies      
It's answer of "No" is predicated on two assumptions: that the lifeform is not colonial in nature and that time is not a localized phenomenon. While on the surface that later assumption might sound absurd, our universe could very well be a Local Bubble of time. Time could even be a biological function of a higher dimensional being that is the size of the universe. There is also no way to disprove that without observing beyond the universe, which may get a bit dicey.
3
bitL 2 days ago 3 replies      
We still don't know if the Universe itself isn't a living organism with us playing the role of tiny viruses that require intelligence/consciousness to fulfill certain tasks, like what gut bacteria does for us.
4
mirimir 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a thoughtful article, and I love the reference to Burroughs' Soft Machine. But it doesn't distinguish clearly enough between self-conscious organisms and the rest. It's true that consciousness and evolution thereof likely crap out when latency goes over a few hundred milliseconds.

However, I see no limit to the size of zero-gravity organisms like the honey fungus. Fungi are filamentous, so there's no unsurmountable problem with heat dissipation.

And even for self-conscious organisms, I can imagine hierarchical organization, such as Rajaniemi's "metaself" or Watts' Bicameral Order.

5
Koshkin 2 days ago 4 replies      
Since proteins cannot exist in space, then, using the currently accepted definition of "life" at the basic level as the complex of processes that allow protein molecules to exist, then the answer must be 'no'.

On the other hand, it is an interesting mental exercise to also consider other reasons why such creature might be impossible. One reason could be because the time needed for such creature to grow from something much, much smaller (as it usually happens in biology) would be longer than the age of the universe.

Another one is that nerve impulses travel slower than the speed of light, and so, again, it would take forever for a signal to reach the central nervous system. One could argue that the creature can be "decentralized", i.e. look more like a large colony of smaller organisms, but then the question arises as to what makes it a single creature in the first place.

Yet another issue concerns what drives the evolution of this particular species, and, again, the time it takes.

So far, all these considerations unavoidably lead to the answer 'no'.

6
axplusb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised to find no mention of Solaris by Stanislaw Lem among the fiction references. In this novel, a whole planet is somehow a living organism, truly alien to human conception of life.
7
hypertexthero 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Stars are best regarded as living organisms, but organisms which are physiologically and psychologically of a very peculiar kind. The outer and middle layers of a mature star apparently consist of tissues woven of currents of incandescent gases. These gaseous tissues live and maintain the stellar consciousness by intercepting part of the immense flood of energy that wells from the congested and furiously active interior of the star. The innermost of the vital layers must be a kind of digestive apparatus which transmutes the crude radiation into forms required for the maintenance of the stars life. Outside this digestive area lies some sort of coordinating layer, which may be thought of as the stars brain. The outermost layers, including the corona, respond to the excessively faint stimuli of the stars cosmical environment, to light from neighboring stars, to cosmic rays, to the impact of meteors, to tidal stresses caused by the gravitational influence of planets or of other stars. These influences could not, of course, produce any clear impression but for a strange tissue of gaseous sense organs, which discriminate between them in respect of quality and direction, and transmit information to the correlating brain layer.

From Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon, Chapter 11, Stars and Vermin

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/stapledon/olaf/star/chapter...

8
dwaltrip 2 days ago 0 replies      
A bit of tangent -- the article talks about powers of ten, and hints at how powerful a tool it is for analyzing everything around us. This resonates very strongly with me. The entire known universe, from the smallest particle to the width of the cosmos itself, fits within several dozen points on this scale. It's incredible.

Personally, the last few years, I have felt that working to understand how all phenomena can be sketched out on the log scale has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the world. Of course, this goes hand in hand with related ideas, such as having a generally skeptical mindset, seeking first principles, etc.

These ideas has been very powerful for me, and I thought it might be worth sharing.

P.S. the book "The Black Cloud", mentioned in the article, is a really fun and quick read. I recommend it for any sci-fi fans.

9
kindadumb 2 days ago 0 replies      
This theory was once proven in a famous documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJOVUF-HaDw&t=0m37s
10
alexpetralia 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does a group of people have an emergent consciousness in its own right that no one person can individually experience?

Perhaps certain parts of the brain too "think" they are conscious but can't individually experience the same consciousness we as people experience.

11
Balgair 1 day ago 1 reply      
Quick reminder: We don't know what the majority of the mass/energy of the universe is. Dark matter is ~20% of the universe and pretty much all we know about it is that 'it falls down'. Dark Energy is ~75% of the universe and all we know about it is that it makes galaxies accelerate away from each other. So, defining life or intelligence as we do is maybe not the best idea for long term thinking.
12
jeffdavis 2 days ago 0 replies      
Related: On Being the Right Size

https://irl.cs.ucla.edu/papers/right-size.html

13
Poc 2 days ago 0 replies      
It make me think of Von neuman probe. If we can consider that a robot or something with connections similar to our neurons can be a living creature. Then maybe if something like Von Neuman probes existed it could have colonized the whole galaxy (actually it could be done in a few hundred millions years) then those probes, while each one have is own brain, could communicate with the other probes and even if two probes at two opposite sides of the galaxy couldn't communicate, they would still be connected. Then maybe this network could be consider as a living creature.
14
visarga 1 day ago 0 replies      
When thinking about such things, you've got to ask yourself: under what circumstances would such a creature appear and under what circumstances could it die? What does it need? What constitutes a good or bad thing for it. How does it learn? How does it perceive? How does it act out its intentions? Does it have a self preserving instinct?

It doesn't make much sense for a creature the size of the galaxy. If it did, it would be extremely slow and alien to us.

A more plausible way would be if a human-scale civilization would create self replicating probes that would spread in the galaxy and bootstrap some sort of large biological or AI civilization.

15
sriku 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Exhalation" by Ted Chiang is, I think, a great literary exploration of this topic and brings the essence of what is required for life, though it doesn't get into what life is as opposed to other phenomena. For those who've not read it, I may be giving off too much if I said anything more.

It is certainly more insightful (again imho) than this article.

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/Downloads/Exhalation%20-%20Te...

16
SCHiM 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love topics like this :)

If yes, the next question might be:

> Imagine a creature that is as big as the galaxy, imagine its organ that is analogous to our brain is as efficient and big as is possible, what is the most complex concept that that brain can fully comprehend?

17
andy_ppp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sort of tangentially related is the physicist Geoffrey West, who decided to try to apply the thinking of a theoretical physicist to biological systems. His book Scale is excellent, and this is one of the most interesting podcasts I've ever heard:

https://www.samharris.org/podcast/item/from-cells-to-cities

18
11thEarlOfMar 2 days ago 2 replies      
It's a different topic, but related. I was marveling at the diversity of life on Earth, which led me wonder: to what extent does sustained life on Earth depend on that diversity? I.e., what would be required or different for a planet to host and sustain a single species of life?

Given the nature of evolution, and that one subscribes to it, life on Earth started with a single organism that replicated. From that point until a replication modified the organism into a different species, there would have been one species. But was it necessary to have multiple species in order to sustain life?

19
cardigan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Hmm, but what if the living creature had a density of neural circuitry similar to ours, and mainly interacted with things inside itself, and had slow propagation of knowledge? Not sure I understand this except under the hidden assumption of having a similar number of neural circuit elements
20
FrozenVoid 1 day ago 1 reply      
The comparison about surface areas is wrong.A creature could drastically increase its surface area by having many tendril-like appendages (i.e. hairy surface) and limiting the core body to consist of thin shapes.A fractal web of tendrils would dissipate energy far more effectively.
21
rcthompson 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone is interested in a sci-fi novel series that explores these kinds of themes for intelligent life, I highly recommend Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. (I've left the statement above intentionally vague to avoid excessive spoilers.)
22
nils-m-holm 1 day ago 0 replies      
Why only as big as a galaxy? Why not the entire universe?

http://www.geoffreylandis.com/infinite.htp

(Geoffrey Landis, the Melancholy of Infinite Space)

23
sebastianconcpt 1 day ago 0 replies      
Aren't creature body sizes a function of some combination of food size and quantity? If so, what this hypothetical creature would eat?
24
asah 2 days ago 0 replies      
re heat dissipation - the author assumes a mostly-convex form, but if the life form as concave spaces (e.g. tentrils) then the surface-area-to-volume ratio can be arbitrary.
25
brunomarx1 1 day ago 0 replies      
What if the galaxxy itself were a living being, but we are so small to grasp this form of life
26
jfoutz 2 days ago 0 replies      
So this requires a few things,

First off, single organisms can have pretty advanced local processing of control. An octopus has a nerve cluster for each tentacle that can operate independently of the main brain [1]. So in at least one case, biological brains delegate work out to another region of the body. An argonaut octopus actually detaches part of it body, which as far as i can tell, keeps living for a while. it's kind of creepy. The only thing i can't find an example of, is remote control. A detachable body part, with a nerve cluster, that responds to light or sound seems like what would be needed for the base creature. Evolution hasn't stumbled on that trifecta here on earth. But it sure seems like something that could have come about.

The latency argument isn't compelling. If i can send one message, i can send another hundred billion messages along with it. So, sure only a few thousand round trips, but a fabulous amount of information transferred. There's no actual biological equivalent to a semi autonomous drone, so i'm not sure what that would look like before the creature took to the stars.

There's also no real obvious way for this lone detatched tentacle to consume the resources of a planet. But whatever. I think one entity with those three features might have a chance.

Also, is the creature smart? Does it get to genetically engineer itself? do cyborgs count? That greatly simplifies things as well. The detachable parts could have detachable parts, and recurse down to whatever arbitrary degree is useful.

Alternatively if you admit superorganisms, then everything is much easier.

So anyway, you don't really need to send many messages when the message is "here are the latest designs for industrial architecture to dismantle a solar system and send the resources back" It's up to the billions of lone tenticles and their machines to execute the will of the super brain.

On the other hand, yeah, there's not going to be a galaxy sized amoeba or panther or anything like that. maybe an incredibly fine mist of fungus or mold, but i think it'd be too hard to keep a system like that from collapsing in on itself from too much mass. a galaxy sized ring of spider silk orbiting a black hole sounds like great science fiction. but i can't imagine that working.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octopus#Nervous_system_and_sen...[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argonaut_(animal)#Sexual_dimor...[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superorganism

27
baron816 2 days ago 0 replies      
Challenge accepted
28
mcappleton 2 days ago 1 reply      
Look, the vast majority of a galaxy is empty space. A living creature is obviously not empty space, so all that space would have to be filled with the creature's matter. Well, if you put that much matter so close together, it will all collapse on itself and create a black hole.

So no, you could not have a living creature as big as a galaxy.

29
devoply 2 days ago 5 replies      
This article does not take into account quantum phenomenon. It's possible that instead of being limited by the speed of light transmissions, such a system uses quantum phenomenon for communication. Which then would make the whole argument that this article makes invalid. It's based on the premise that life would be based on the same sort of physics as life on Earth... which does not make sense as such life if it exists would evolve using a different set of rules which would include things such as limits on speed of light transmission in such large systems... so it would've learned to exploit quantum phenomenon for transmission.

edit:

Superluminal, or faster than light, communication is said not to work because it allows information to be sent into the past. There is however non-locality which is not the same thing. Sorry not an expert on this, but this seems to apply to the exact discussion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell%27s_theorem#Importance_of...

26
A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candle stephaniehurlburt.com
267 points by ingve  3 days ago   72 comments top 29
1
rrdharan 3 days ago 3 replies      
I liked the analogy, though I'll confess I clicked the link expecting to see a layman explanation of some interesting physics trivia.
2
te_platt 3 days ago 3 replies      
I have a little brother and a brother in law who each went from bad financial situations to making a lot of money in a relatively short time. By a lot I mean much more than I make, and I do pretty well. I found it strange that I was both happy for them and resentful at the same time. We got along well before and after their success and I never felt like they became arrogant or condescending. I think my resentment came from having to face up to my own mistakes and weaknesses. Maybe there were reasons they were more successful than I was; that it wasn't just luck. Thankfully the resentment has long since faded.

The experience also made me think what would happen if you were at a party with a large group of friends. God appears and gives everyone with a birthday on an odd numbered day a million dollars then leaves with no explanation. How happy for their friends are the people who didn't get anything? They are no worse off but I can't help thinking they would be happy.

3
Hnrobert42 3 days ago 4 replies      
I hate to admit it, but I fall into the resentment camp. I don't belittle others, but I do envy their success. I know this attitude is counterproductive, but that doesn't motivate me to change. I suppose this is one of the many reasons the author is successful, and I am not.
4
Shank 3 days ago 2 replies      
> He told me that that was pretty easy, boring work, but I guess good enough to pay the bills.

I've been told a lot in my side projects a similar thing: that the problem I solved wasn't the "valuable" one to solve, and that other people were far ahead in the "real" problem. It drives me absolutely insane. People diminish the success of others just so their project can be "superior," despite when it's actually far behind in the department that one excels at.

5
avaer 3 days ago 2 replies      
The author rightfully acknowledges that "it is a decision that cost me some short term profits early on".

But I also know people and companies that were so nice and generous that people and customers learned to bleed them to figurative death. It's worth noting there might be some survivorship bias here.

6
bjd2385 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've seen this in employers as well. I worked for a textile mill that was technologically stuck in the Stone age, drilled you all day long for nearly minimum wage. Then I got a break and they made me a line lead, a reward for being such a good worker. But they found a way to take that position away when they found out I was using the extra money to pay for college courses and attend conferences. Needless to say, I quit, and I found a job at a technology-oriented company. They supported it from day one, and I'd be happy to stay with them and apply for more effective jobs.
7
ImSkeptical 2 days ago 0 replies      
The only part of this essay I didn't like was the bit about how good people:

"Ask me how they can help me. Give without expecting to receive if they're in a position to do so."

If you're in my immediate family, or you're a close friend, I'd help you for the sake of helping. If you're a random person I'm meeting, I don't think you should feel entitled to my generosity.

8
voidhorse 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was a nice metaphor, but remember!--matches must light candles first:

"Oh, hard! that to fire others, the match itself must needs be wasting!" -- Moby Dick (Chapter 37, Sunset)

If you truly believe in something--be ready to lose a lot. One of those things you may lose is freedom from the scope and bile of other's jealousy.

9
keithwhor 3 days ago 0 replies      
The issue is social signals. "Resentment" is perfectly natural, and is a result of social status posturing. Party A views Party B as socially competitive and the result is discomfort, an attempt to pull B back towards the status quo or block them from succeeding, and of course, resentment.

I think the "lighting another candle" group are naturally wired more pragmatically; they're confident enough (or otherwise differently programmed) so that they don't feel socially competitive, and instead focus on growth. They focus on complementary aspects of Party B's success and act within reasonable social contexts to help propel Party B forward, understanding that if they're able to play a role in doing so, they'll likely be rewarded (be it financially, socially or otherwise).

I would posit that Silicon Valley can only exist because of a surplus of the latter category; it's the underpinning of VC as an industry, and business development as a branch of a corporation. In fact, it's downright dangerous for an investor to be socially competitive with founders - if you're expecting power law returns, you, by definition, have to invest in somebody that's likely going to end up more individually successful than you are and it's your job to make sure they get there.

All that said, there's definitely grey area. I'm sure that the "pragmatic" / "candle" group can still easily succumb to envy when the party they're interfacing with is quite literally competitive in a vertical they're operating in. None of us are perfect, so I think creating a delineation is a little dangerous. In-group vs. out-group thinking is only going to increase the social resentment factors (we can see it in this thread already).

10
free_everybody 3 days ago 0 replies      
This was so beautiful! So glad to see it on Hacker News. I find myself in the resentment camp too often, and I'm reminded that little can be accomplished by pushing others down. We're all stronger when we form a web of support. Greater heights can be reached.
11
CM30 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not really a resentful person myself, and am generally quite happy when someone succeeds. That's pretty much why I post all those articles about underrated channels and content creators, to bring more attention to them in the hope that my opinion on the quality of their work will eventually become the prevailing one and that they'll do well from their efforts.

However, I still have to admit I feel resentment in some cases. And that's usually if:

1. The person/creator/organisation didn't seemingly try very hard to succeed and just coasted their way through life. The people running those prank channels on YouTube and making thousands of dollars through low effort content that purely became big because of a YouTube algorithm change... those are people I might resent. Especially if they're doing better than people I consider much better artists or creators. Same goes for those creating fake news sites or what not.

2. The person or organisation becomes selfish, throws everyone that helped them under the bus and thinks they're some big shot that the world should worship. This is surprisingly rare, with my experience being a lot of successful people do tend to be pretty nice on a personality level (in contrast to cliches about only sociopaths succeeding in life).

But for the most part, I'm happy when people succeed. Only makes sense, why not be happy for anyone who succeeds through hard work and determination? It makes you feel there's a certain amount of fairness in a world that can sometimes seem very random.

12
throwaway13337 3 days ago 0 replies      
What she described reminded me of the people I knew while living in Seattle.

It was no surprise to me that it's where the author lives.

It's more of the tech community attitude there.

People are afraid of being judged as not as smart so put others down as a defense. It's sad.

13
Scaevolus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Some people resent people that find success in modest startups. Selling useful libraries to developers won't make you a billionaire, but it can create a comfortable, steady revenue stream-- RAD game tools (in Seattle) has been doing this for a long time, selling things like video codecs and profilers and animation systems.

You could write a basic version of these tools in a few months, so it's easy for some programmers to dismiss-- but companies can do basic math, and understand that a $5,000 licensing fee is much cheaper than 3 months of developer time!

14
markisus 2 days ago 2 replies      
I agree with the author that we should avoid feelings of resentment towards people who are successful. However it bothers me that the author classifies trace of a matrix as math trivia. I think sometimes people will categorize their current knowledge as "the important stuff", and everything else is "just trivia". This can be a dangerous trap that prevents personal improvement.
15
user5994461 3 days ago 1 reply      
With javascript disabled, the page is displayed fine while it's loading, then it all fades away into a blank page. It's disturbing.
16
ageofwant 2 days ago 0 replies      
A candle loses half of the attention when it lits another, all candles know that. Some just choose to revel in the doubling of the light.
17
luord 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another option to avoid turning off the candle is not talking to people, or wait for them to bring up the subject. I'm awkward so I often end up doing this.
18
lutorm 3 days ago 0 replies      
Long-term that's true ... but just like you can make a fire go out by putting too much fuel on it too early, if you try to light too large a candle, the candle might go out.
19
Kenji 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you fall into the resentment camp, you are exhibiting a defensive reaction because you are in denial about your own flaws and that will be a hindrance to your success.
20
Lagged2Death 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm established now. I own a great company. I love my work and have happy customers and supportive people in my life. So I can see straight through the resentment for what it is...

It's likely enough the author is observing something real in at least some cases, but it's laughable to imagine that perspective and deep insights into the minds of others (i.e., empathy) comes with success and comfort. All evidence is that the opposite is true. It's not farfetched to suppose that he sometimes reads something else (like frustration) as resentment.

21
ronilan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Also the candle burns out long before the legend ever does. Everybody knows that's how it goes.
22
danjoc 3 days ago 3 replies      
Seems like a humblebrag.
23
vostok 3 days ago 0 replies      
I know this isn't related to the article, but I'm also surprised that the author had never worked with the trace given that they work in graphics, their company is called Binomial, and their product is called Basis.
24
carsongross 3 days ago 0 replies      
Well, if is someone is paying you for your light...
25
justonepost 3 days ago 0 replies      
A fundamental underpinning of open source.
26
honestoHeminway 2 days ago 0 replies      
We need DRM on Candles..
27
grogenaut 3 days ago 2 replies      
actually usually when I light 2 candles you have to tip one and so it burns more to a side and then they burn extra hot for a second so you do actually lose some.

what is the sound of one hand clapping?

28
tj-teej 3 days ago 1 reply      
Technically it loses potential oxygen out of its possibly finite supply required to stay alight.

But I like the sentiment :)

29
throw2016 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's a tad unrealistic to expect positive interactions at all times. There is a whole social behavior called 'negging'.

But it's always a good idea to cut off negativity where you have control.

27
JetBrains Web UI components open-sourced jetbrains.com
286 points by uptown  3 days ago   88 comments top 17
1
adamnemecek 3 days ago 7 replies      
JetBrains is kinda crushing it. I've spent the last two days looking into Kotlin. I didn't realize not only that Kotlin can compile to JS but also that you can interact with say React from it. So you can build a full stack app in it, without ever touching JS. (I think that the JS compilation is still technically in beta but w/e).

https://github.com/Kotlin/kotlin-fullstack-sample

Combined with the fact that you can use Quasar for Erlang style processes, I think that I found my next web language.

I guess you could achieve this with Scala too but I could never get over the compilation times. Also the Kotlin integration seems somewhat more straightforward.

I also like that the company that makes my IDE also makes the ORM (https://github.com/JetBrains/Exposed) and web framework (https://github.com/Kotlin/ktor). Idk how good these are but I imagine pretty decent.

2
raybb 3 days ago 5 replies      
It's under the Apache License and the components look pretty good.

I particularly like the Date Picker:http://www.jetbrains.org/ring-ui/date-picker.html

3
Robdel12 3 days ago 1 reply      
This great! I'm sad that _none_ of these components were built with accessibility in mind.
4
wslh 3 days ago 2 replies      
I hope JetBrains or others launch a Web UI Designer that doesn't make you miss Visual Basic 6.0.
5
alsadi 5 hours ago 0 replies      
More ways to make checkboxes. As if react bootstrap.. Did not already reinvinted the square wheel. And how many megabytes do my browser have to parse before being able to draw the checkbox?
6
j_s 3 days ago 2 replies      
GitHub repo: https://github.com/JetBrains/ring-ui

It's only linked in the comments; also - they're dogfooding issues in their own YouTrack thing. It looks like JetBrains does this for all their open source projects. Can anyone with some experience compare against GitHub's issues?

7
michaelthiessen 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you hit "next page" on the Table component enough times it throws an error and the component becomes unresponsive.

It looks like the example data isn't correctly set up.

http://www.jetbrains.org/ring-ui/table.html

8
chiefalchemist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I missing something or do most of these not consider accessibility? Or is that up to you to when you use them?
9
toddkazakov 3 days ago 0 replies      
Palantir's blueprint is also a great UI kit for react. I'm surprised nobody brought it up.
10
EGreg 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks great! But for desktop. Too bad they don't work on mobile very well (I tried them).
11
virgil_disgr4ce 3 days ago 1 reply      
Looks like their site is getting hammeredwhere is a good place to see the different components in action?
12
mhd 3 days ago 0 replies      
This almost looks like something able to replace ExtJs
13
the-dude 3 days ago 0 replies      
I browsed the components : is a slider missing? I need those, good ones ( min, max, step, scale ).
14
tyteen4a03 3 days ago 0 replies      
Can't say I'm a fan of their buttons, but the date picker is refreshing.
15
thejosh 2 days ago 0 replies      
Too bad it doesn't work with npm 5..?
16
mstijak 3 days ago 0 replies      
I would recommend CxJS to people looking for advanced data widgets, e.g. data tables, date pickers, charts, ...

Here are a couple of sample pages based on CxJS widgets:

- https://worldoscope.cxjs.io/4v5b3k2

- https://starter.cxjs.io/dashboards/sales

Full disclosure: It's a commercial framework, I'm the author.

https://cxjs.io/

https://github.com/codaxy/cxjs

17
scierama 3 days ago 4 replies      
It looks like this is Ring UI. It looks like that is React. It also looks like it only runs on NodeJS. So this could be good news if you're willing to use JavaScript (NodeJS) as the server and use or switch to React style, JavaScript dedicated, back-end work. Is this something the Enterprise is willing to do?
28
Airbnb dominated by professional landlords dw.com
209 points by frgtpsswrdlame  1 day ago   338 comments top 25
1
3pt14159 1 day ago 4 replies      
Look, we have a couple problems: low interest rates, large variance in productivity / earnings, really shitty hotels because they're operating on old-world assumptions.

One under appreciated thing about apps like Uber and AirBnb is the star rating system. I know I'm a five star tenant. I know I never shit in the sink. I know I never leave a bunch of condoms or cigar butts all over the balcony or hotel room. But the hotel doesn't know that. They need to steam clean the sheets and install super-fat-person-proof toilets. And elevators for the disabled. And a hotel room with a stove and usable fridge? Hah! Only two times have I had that and one was in a room that cost $10k a week (don't ask, I was the +1).

Then it comes to AirBnb and global housing stock. Someone like me who is currently in Kiev in an AirBnb is always going to be able to out-spend a local. The key is to align incentives. I literally would not have come to Kiev if they'd banned AirBnb. I would have gone back to Lithuania (love Vilnius) or to Turkey or Estonia. With the drive to pull in tourist money going on worldwide why should cities ban AirBnb (or Uber for that matter)?

"Because it's driving up rents!"

Ok, so let's solve that problem. I have no issue with cities imposing a 30% tax on AirBnbs and using the income to build up the housing stock for locals. They should do this, it makes perfect sense.

"Because AirBnbers are loud and disruptive!"

Make hosts responsible for noise complaint fines and pretty quick loud tenants are going to get bad ratings.

"Because I want community, not a bunch of transient AirBnbers that don't even speak the local language!"

If it is getting really, really bad, (say 20% or higher of housing stock in a community) maybe scale up the taxes to combat this. But let's not miss the positives either. I've met a number of cool people both hosting them in my place just before traveling or by interacting with them in areas I never would have been in had I been staying in a hotel.

Don't throw out the baby with the bath water and all that.

2
cletus 1 day ago 5 replies      
Put me in the camp that's very anti-AirBnB as a resident who doesn't want where I lived turned into a hotel. I live in NYC. It's a problem.

None of this is a surprise, so much so that AirBnB seems to be aware of this and is acting in a way that's, at best, ethically challenged and, at worst, illegal eg deleting listings before giving data to the state of NY that "shows" most hosts only have one unit [1].

If people want to run a hotel, there's a legal structure for this. And zoning. Go do that. I personally applaud efforts to shut down illegal hotels.

[1] https://ny.curbed.com/2016/2/25/11110594/airbnb-letter-state...

3
ricardobeat 1 day ago 3 replies      
'Our members own seven apartments on average, they are not big companies'

Amazing how people live in distorted realities. To the vast majority of the population, owning seven apartments definitely puts you into 'big company' territory. Plus not being 'big' doesn't mean you get any exemptions.

4
jonny_eh 1 day ago 2 replies      
> Rents are rising at a rate of nearly 10 percent a year, even though the city has a rent cap.

Maybe that rent cap is why landlords prefer Airbnb. Rent caps are never a good idea, they have so many unforseen consequences.

5
thisisit 1 day ago 5 replies      
Is this surprising at all? Most "sharing" apps are now overrun by professionals in their field. The apps help the professional (or company) achieve zero cost customer acquisition cost. In case the apps do catch up, these guys end up being "promoted" because they are a good fit. The pros make for much better "sales target" for these sharing apps.
6
andr 1 day ago 4 replies      
If AirBnB gave me the option to filter actual lived-in apartments, as opposed to professional operations, I would definitely prioritize those. I miss the original feeling of booking someone's actual apartment, sharing their history, books, way of life, even weird knock-knacks. IKEA catalog living rooms get old quickly.
7
BMorearty 1 day ago 3 replies      
Airbnb employee here. (Software engineer; I don't speak for the company.) Personally, I like staying in listings that are owned and operated by the resident. It's more personal and it lets me connect more with some locals. One of my favorite nights at an Airbnb was a dinner with the delightful couple who rented out a room in their Paris apartment. Much less enjoyable was a night in a Seattle room--it was very clean and a five-star room, but it felt like a hotel in that I was lonely.

Both of those were business trips. My vacation travel is different: I have a wife and 3 kids, so it's almost impossible for the five of us to stay in someone's private residence. For those trips, I look for places where the owner only has one property, which to my mind indicates they give it--and my family--a high level of personal attention. Sometimes it's a cottage in their backyard, like the ones I've stayed in at Tahoe and Pescadero. Those a nice because I can meet the owner and they're just 20 feet away when I need help. I am also an Airbnb host of a cottage in my own backyard. It's booked about 90% of the time but the neighbors on my street tell me they usually forget I'm even hosting because they don't even notice.

But there are hosts who manage many properties and there are guests who stay in them. I personally don't like the feeling of being tricked into thinking a place is owner-occupied and then finding out it's managed by a property manager, and I will say so in a review. (We have rules for employees; I won't look at our internal systems when booking to try to see more than the usual customer would see.)

The managed properties are more common in some large urban cities. That is why last year Airbnb banned owners of multiple properties in some large cities around the world. I honestly don't know the specifics of any one city such as Cologne, which is mentioned in the article.

8
trevyn 1 day ago 6 replies      
This is not a problem. In my experience, professional landlords & managers offer clean, updated apartments that are a joy to check into and are a way better place to stay than hotels. I love using Airbnb for specifically this reason.

It seems like in Europe, professional short-term apartment rental is a common thing anyway -- Airbnb just serves as a centralized listing platform. This is less common in the US.

9
vmarsy 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Some 58 percent of all offers on Airbnb in Germany are entire apartments or even apartment blocks - meaning professional landlords are effectively the core of Airbnb's business.

Someone working a full time job, who owns a primary residence as well as a secondary one for vacation. Does renting that secondary location means they are "a professional landlord" ? If someone who owns an apartment but is going abroad for a bit for vacation/work and have a family member take care of renting the place on AirBnB, are they "professional landlords" ?

I would assume professional landlord = landlord whose full time job is to take care of the rentals, I don't understand the jump from "this listing is an entire apartment" => "This is a professional landlord"

10
geebee 1 day ago 0 replies      
Adam Smith wrote, in the Wealth of Nations in 1776: "Disagreeableness and disgrace affect the profits of stock in the same manner as the wages of labour. The keeper of an inn or tavern, who is never master of his own house, and who is exposed to the brutality of every drunkard, exercises neither a very agreeable nor a very creditable business. But there is scarce any common trade in which a small stock yields so great a profit."

Airbnb is a remarkable innovation that allows landlords externalize those negatives, while keeping the profits.

11
Jabanga 1 day ago 0 replies      
The discussion here reminds me of this:

"We have an ingrained anti-profit bias that blinds us to the social benefits of free markets"

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/08/04/we-have-an-ingrained-an...

12
throwaway413 1 day ago 1 reply      
The last Airbnb I rented was from a dude managing 28 other properties, all listed on Airbnb.
13
southphillyman 13 hours ago 1 reply      
At least these professional landlords own the properties and thus have some sort of stake in the matter. A friend of mine some how managed to rent multiple apartments at the same time and then rented them all out via AirBnb. He lived with his girlfriend, so he was essentially a professional landlord who didn't own any property.

I like AirBnb but with time it's warts are being exposed. After being racially profiled multiple times, having a host cancel on me at the last minute and sending my money back via Western Union, and other annoyances I now consider hotels about 50% of the time after almost exclusively doing AirBnb.

14
jaclaz 1 day ago 2 replies      
Let us try to look at the matter in another way.

Take a city/place.

Calculate how many people visited it before AirBNB.

Let's say 1,000,000 stays per year, with an average expense of US$ 180 each, including night at US$ 120 at the hotel and some drinks/meals/souvenirs/whatever another 60 US$ .

The city/place (globally) has had an "income" of 180,000,000.

How many more people visited the city place after AirBNB became popular?

Let's say 1,200,000, i.e. a 20% increase, and let's say that not only these 200,000 more stays are at AirBNB's (i.e. people that wouldn't have come if AirBNB's were not available), but that also a part of the same people that would have take a hotel room passed to AirBNB's, let's say 100,000.

Now, the hotels will have lowered their prices because of the competition, and - more generally - an AirBNB user (with of course the usual exceptions) is probably less prone to spend money.

So we have 900,000 nights at a "discounted" price of (say) 110 US$ i.e. 99,000,000 plus 900,000 at the same US$ 60 54,000,000 and some 300,000 AirBNB's at (say) 60 US$ , i.e. 18,000,000, plus 300,000 at a lower US$ 40, that is 12,000,000.

From the 18,000,000 you have to subtract the commission AirBNB takes, which should be on average (both guest and host commission) around 15% that "goes elsewhere", i.e. 2,700,000.

The city/place received (globally) 99+54+18+12-2.7=180,3 millions, i.e. roughly the same as before, while having (still globally), the increases of traffic, garbage, noise, etc. due to the 200,000 more visits.

In the meantime, hotels and other trades had a roughly 10% decrease of income, apartments/flats were not available to local population at "fair" long term rent prices, the increased income from the rentals of the AirBNB's and connected services very likely went in a lower tax bracket.

I would say that it is not a particularly good deal for the city and for the locals.

15
paulcnichols 1 day ago 0 replies      
"Platform that makes people money dominated by people best at making money." Shocker.
16
sisyphusprotege 1 day ago 1 reply      
Person who bought an old triplex with a ton of deferred maintenance and has been running it as a vacation rental for a long time here.

This is not an easy side gig. It's more than a full time job, and I have been living in one of the units and only renting two and my SO helps out a lot. Bringing on a third unit and I am about at the point of needing one full time employee.

It is a never ending fight against entropy, as well as a not insignificant number of guests who will lie to get over on you.

You have to:

Manage bookings/field inquiries and sell property in these exchanges/make special offers to fill spots.

Accounting/legal/tax

Cleaning. This is very labor intensive. To properly clean a two bedroom apartment to hotel standards takes at least 3 hours and that's if guests left it clean. One stray hair in the wrong spot and you lose.

Maintenance. Decks/trim/walls need to be patched and painted each year. Things break. A very heavy-set guest will crack a toilet seat and it needs to be replaced in the 4 or 5 hour window you have between guests. You might get some animal infestation that needs to be dealt with.

Guest relations. Guests will forget things and want them mailed to them. They require handholding and strategies to keep review scores up.

People will constantly be trying to negotiate your price down, even though you offer 4 times the square footage for the same price as a nice hotel in the area.

I am working on automating and streamlining as much of this as possible, and there are gains to be made there. I have made gains with superior cleaning technology to save time as well.

FAQs and guides can help, but guests don't read them much of the time.

This is not real estate investing, its hospitality and meeting and greeting guests and chatting with the friendly ones is what gives you the good reviews where other less hands on places get the very critical ones.

Professional management is where this space needs to go in my opinion.

Vacation rentals have been a boutique industry for a long, long time. What was disruptive about AirBnB was the opening of it to spare bedrooms and the subletting of places people rent from others.

AirBnB has both made the space much more popular, and caused a lot of the ire and animosity we have seen towards the space.

17
vermontdevil 1 day ago 1 reply      
Not only professional landlords but professional managers too. In LA I met with a woman who told me she manages 4 condo units in one complex and many others. Meets with people like me to give me keys, parking passes and checks on the unit when I leave.

Second AirBnB, same thing but he manages houses instead of condos.

18
pfarnsworth 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is this a surprise? If you look at eBay, it's also dominated by professional sellers as well. In some sense it makes it better because you have motivated people handling the transaction, not one-off people that might not take the transaction seriously.
19
EGreg 1 day ago 1 reply      
And bitcoin is dominated by professional miners.

Open source and the Web is dominated by large corporations like Google and Facebook.

And sports tickets and restaurant reservations are scalped.

I wonder if all these peer to peer marketplaces tend to become dominated by professionals and even the original industry they are supposed to disrupt.

Wikipedia seems to have prevented this, as has HN.

Any solutions?

20
megamindbrian 1 day ago 1 reply      
And now it's just as annoying to find a place to stay as it was dealing with conglomerate hotel chains owned by Patel's.
21
OJFord 1 day ago 0 replies      
Any Airbnb 'host' is a de facto 'professional landlord'. Next?
22
miaklesp 1 day ago 0 replies      
Dating websites dominated by professional hookers
23
bane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm one of those people who really doesn't like these kinds of x-sharing services when they're just breaking the law. But when they aren't I'm all for the competition and additional money making opportunities it creates for participants.

I'm getting ready to go on my 3rd multi-week trip with housing provided almost entirely by airBnB. So far I've been generally very pleased with most of the hosts. In general, I've found the ones outside of the U.S. tend to provide a better experience per dollar than in the U.S. I've also found myself at some delightful B&B's who just list on AirBnB instead of other methods. On the other hand, I've also found myself in some sketchy group home like experiences with no owner to be found (mostly in the U.S.).

The hard part of it is this, I can put together a multi-location road trip across six or seven countries in a few short hours on AirBnB because all of the "vendors" list there (many times faster than doing it with hotels), and the total price will be 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of doing it in hotels, and the quality of the experience will be about on par with any 3-star hotel I'm likely to find. I've yet to break $70/night on AirBnB (for entire flats/apartments) because there's usually so much inventory. The locations can be better than "hotel districts" and I can usually find something very custom and suited to what I want.

The reviews also reinforce the honesty of the listing, whereas hotels will show pictures of a model room with idealized lighting and the reality is often not the same. Bonus, we've often gotten to talk with pretty interesting people, seen interesting neighborhoods we would have ignored before and use public transport much more fully than we would have otherwise.

I think the easiest way for hotels to compete against AirBnB is to simply start listing on it and competing, room-for-room. Room 607 in the local Marriott has a noise problem? It'll show up in the reviews. Front-desk clerks rude in the Albany, NY Holiday Inn? It'll show up. Prices too high for what you get? It'll have to compete against local housing inventory.

I'm also very sympathetic to many of the comments here regarding areas with very high housing prices. In terms of local housing strategy, simply banning these kinds of services should be part of a local multi-pronged strategy to reduce housing prices (along with limiting other investment options). But I'm not so sure it's a universal problem. Every time I've booked big trips on AirBnB I've always found hosts who are renting out multiple properties and don't live in most of them. However, in many cities, looking at the rates they're charging, they're not suffering from the same kind of systemic housing shortages places like SF or NYC are.

One other thing to consider in tight markets. If the local municipalities aren't going to restrict investment ownership, AirBnB may end up being a better user of the investment properties than people who simply buy up properties and they lay completely abandoned for years. Because the market that AirBnB has to work in is different than say, foreign investors, it also might help better shape the kinds of properties that get built to eventually be more affordable. e.g. 432 Park Ave is going to end up mostly uninhabited even if the "tenancy" is at 100% and none of those apartments are going to end up on AirBnB. This inventory of $30million dollar apartments is not going to go anywhere. But AirBnB investory might be on the lookout for more affordable construction to invest in, knowing that someday they'll sell the property off to more regular buyers and need to rent it to normal people as well in the meanwhile.

24
samstave 1 day ago 1 reply      
Was inevitable, what I would like to know from airbnb data is what % of properties are owned by or managed by the same accounts in a given area. "Show me all the properties owned/managed by user X"

How many properties are owned by actual airbnb employees?

Also, wouldn't this basically result in some sort of price fixing at least among the properties under a single owner/manager?

25
IanDrake 1 day ago 0 replies      
According to this article I'm a professional landlord because I have more than one property on airbnb?

I think that's a huge leap and was done to inflate numbers to re-enforce their point, which would otherwise be poorly made by a meaningful statistic.

To be a professional landlord you need at least 20 properties. That is typically the minimum number of properties to provide a livable income.

29
Fitting to Noise or Nothing at All: Machine Learning in Markets zacharydavid.com
284 points by bilifuduo  1 day ago   64 comments top 7
1
lettergram 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I can't up vote this enough..

I've spend an unreasonable amount of time reading research related to finance for my web app Piglet:

https://projectpiglet.com/

Long story short, all "research" is pretty much B.S.

I used to assume this is because people want to make money, so they keep the good analysis secret. However, after working in the industry a few years; it's mostly because they just don't know how to apply the algorithms or if it's even possible.

I think my favorite example is the seminal paper on using twitter sentiment to predict stock movement[1]. They don't use a large enough data set, and more importantly they use granger causality to identify "casualty"[2] between sentiment and stock value. They then claim they found a specific range which has a p-value indicating they are correlated... Of course you'll find a correlation when you look at two normalized signals and try to match them up.

Now, if they had not use the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average) and instead used 500 individual stocks, and found the sentiment on twitter correlated with stock value(s) 90% of the time between 5 and 10 days. I'd argue they probably have something.

However, because their method is literally a BFS on only two signals in an attempt to find a correlation, they must correct for the p-value. i.e. "look and you shall find"[3]

This is just one of the hundred issues I've found, but really sheds light on how bad that industry is.

[1] https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&q=twitter+stock+sen...

[2] Granger Causality offsets two signals in an attempt to find a correlation between them at an offset between two times. AKA find "causality" by finding correlation at an offset in time

[3] https://stats.stackexchange.com/questions/5750/look-and-you-...

2
dkural 1 day ago 5 replies      
Most academic CS literature is complete BS. The vast majority of papers fit into a simple formula of "We apply method X to problem Y, and outperform other approaches using approaches similar to method X".

Meanwhile, no one uses method X or any of its cousins, because in the real world the problem is solved very differently with a combination of both principled algorithms and heuristics derived from real-world datasets.

The paper also fails to give any theoretical reason or mathematical insight as to why their version of X is better.

Thus, it doesn't actually solve a real world problem OR advance scientific understanding.

3
murbard2 1 day ago 5 replies      
I got into quant finance 12 years ago with the mistaken idea that I was going to successfully use all these cool machine learning techniques (genetic programming! SVMs! neural networks!) to run great statistical arbitrage books.

Most machine learning techniques focus on problems where the signal is very strong, but the structure is very complex. For instance, take the problem of recognizing whether a picture is a picture of a bird. A human will do well on this task, which shows that there is very little intrinsic noise. However, the correlation of any given pixel with the class of the image is essentially 0. The "noise" is in discovering the unknown relationship between pixels and class, not in the actual output.

Noise dominates everything you will find in statistical arbitrage. R^2 of 1% are something to write home about. With this amount of noise, it's generally hard to do much better than a linear regression. Any model complexity has to come from integrating over latent parameters or manual feature engineering, the rest will overfit.

I think Geoffrey Hinton said that statistics and machine learning are really the same thing, but since we have two different names for it, we might as well call machine learning everything that focuses on dealing with problems with a complex structure and low noise, and statistics everything that focuses on dealing with problems with a large amount of noise. I like this distinction, and I did end up picking up a lot of statistics working in this field.

I'll regularly get emails from friends who tried some machine learning technique on some dataset and found promising results. As the article points out, these generally don't hold up. Accounting for every source of bias in a backtest is an art. The most common mistake is to assume that you can observe the relative price of two stocks at the close, and trade at that price. Many pairs trading strategies appear to work if you make this assumption (which tends to be the case if all you have are daily bars), but they really do not. Others include: assuming transaction costs will be the same on average (they won't, your strategy likely detects opportunities at time were the spread is very large and prices are bad), assuming index memberships don't change (they do and that creates selection bias), assuming you can short anything (stocks can be hard to short or have high borrowing costs), etc.

In general, statistical arbitrage isn't machine learning bound(1), and it is not a data mining endeavor. Understanding the latent market dynamics you are trying to capitalize on, finding new data feeds that provide valuable information, carefully building out a model to test your hypothesis, deriving a sound trading strategy from that model is how it works.

(1: this isn't always true. For instance, analyzing news with NLP, or using computer vision to estimate crop outputs from satellite imagery can make use of machine learning techniques to yield useful, tradeable signals. My comment mostly focuses on machine learning applied to price information. )

4
zacharydavid 1 day ago 1 reply      
Special thanks to Nickolas Younker (at LiquidWeb) for saving my behind and getting this all set up.
5
dogruck 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Would be nice to see a standard academic platform for backtesting. Then, the paper could say "we submitted our implementation of this strategy to Backtest (which includes transaction costs and slippage)."
6
chvid 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone know of any paper that describes a reproducible method of generating above normal returns in the mature western financial markets? Nope. Me neither.
7
zacharydavid 1 day ago 2 replies      
Sorry guys. Traffic killed the site. Booting up a new server
30
Why Apple and other tech companies are fighting to keep devices hard to repair theverge.com
230 points by PleaseHelpMe  3 days ago   248 comments top 26
1
chrisco255 3 days ago 8 replies      
There's a trade off between modularity and sleek design as Apple has proven better than anyone.

They were arguably the first PC manufacturer to take design seriously and while Macs began to become more difficult to repair beginning with the iMac in 1998, there's no questioning that the component choices (from the external to the internal) lent itself to an increasingly sleek design that eventually led Apple to create the best-in-class laptops and desktops.

This push towards sleek design also gave Apple the chops to create the original iPod in the first place...which eventually lead to the revolutionary iPhone...which completely upended the mobile phone industry.

As a PC fan, I love creating and building my own box...carefully selecting my motherboard, case, processor, and memory in the process...and I rest easy knowing I can upgrade my machine over time...

But I wouldn't question the value that highly integrated designs that Apple and others have brought to the table. You can feel the quality in the products they make. There's a lot of careful thought and design. Modularity and repairability are a necessary sacrifice to build products that sleek.

Take a look at the failed Project Ara by Google: https://atap.google.com/ara/. It would have brought modular parts and design to the mobile phone industry. While a great concept, and something that appeals to my custom rig PC roots, it may not actually have been that useful in practice for the vast majority of the general public.

2
krylon 3 days ago 6 replies      
I am reminded of that company from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy whose products were built so they could not possibly fail - and then it turned out they were impossible to repair when they did.

It's a shame companies do this, not just to phones. Laptops and small-form-factor desktops have the same problem.

A few years back, a coworker had a problem with a laptop, Lenovo R500, I think, that required replacing something inside the laptop (I forgot what part exactly). I found this maintenance manual, and it was exemplary, with lots of diagrams and drawings that made taking this machine apart and putting it back together a cakewalk even for somebody as clumsy as me (meaning, I successfully performed the "operation", with hardly a clue what I was doing guided solely by the excellent manual, and it ____ing worked!)

That is the standard, vendors should aspire to. And I think, Douglas Adams was on to something - if you design something with repairability (is that a word?) as a goal, I would not bet surprised if the result was also more reliable.

3
criddell 3 days ago 12 replies      
From the article, Apple's statement:

Highly-integrated design allows us to make products that are not only beautiful, thin and powerful, but also durable, so they can last for many years, the company said. When repairs are needed, authorized providers can ensure the quality, safety, and security of repairs for customers. And when products do reach end of life, Apple takes responsibility for recycling them safely and responsibly.

Sounds reasonable to me.

4
StillBored 3 days ago 4 replies      
Its not just about repair-ability, its about software support too.

Apple, when compared with the android phone manufactures is probably a better choice for long term use. That is because while my android phone (asus) has a battery I can replace in under 1 minute, the software support probably won't last for 5 years like my daughters iphone5 which after a new battery is a perfectly functional updated device. So if you want to do something about the throwaway culture, minimum support periods might be a good thing to look at too.

5
Animats 3 days ago 0 replies      
One alternative is "impossible to repair, but rugged". Encapsulate the whole thing and make it watertight, dusttight, and airtight. (Yes, you can get microphones and speakers for that environment.) Lose the connectors and have wireless charging and audio out. The problem with Apple's products is fragility, not repairability.Nokia had this nailed over a decade ago. I have a Caterpillar B15 phone, which is the modern equivalent of "doesn't break".

Here's one of my projects, restoring a Teletype Model 15 from the 1930s.[1] This one was in bad shape. Those machines are 100% repairable; any part can be removed and replaced with common hand tools, usually just with a screwdriver.It took about a month to overhaul. I have it running, connected to a laptop computer. The typing quality isn't very good; I could do a rebuild on the type basket but haven't done so. The price of this repairability is a big, heavy machine.

There are people in Shenzhen who repair iPhones at that level. They un-solder chips with a hot air rework station, put down a solder paste stencil, put in a good chip from another broken phone, heat up the new chip to solder it in, and have a working board. It's feasible because it's such a monoculture - there are so many identical phones, and you don't need a broad parts stock. For brands with a lot of models, and a smaller markup over parts cost, few people bother.

[1] http://brassgoggles.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,43672.25.htm...

6
devy 3 days ago 2 replies      
It's a shame that smart phones are so hard to repair these days. Ben Evans from a16z even argued that "selling smartphones is a subscription business" and that "You pay an average of $700 or so every two years (i.e. $30/month) and Apple gives you a new phone." [1]

I think the car industry is probably similar in that so many parts become more electronic and less mechanic and if a sensor is gone, the entire part has to be replaced. (Not a car geek, but the ones who are, please feel free to chime in here!). And with the EV revolution, that trend is going to be accelerated.

[1]: http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2017/7/13/content-isnt-ki...

7
programmertote 3 days ago 4 replies      
My cousin's iPhone 6 stopped charging a few days ago. Everything works, but it seems like the port for charging is worn out or something and wouldn't recognize/charge when being plugged in. He is visiting from Australia and he took a lot of pictures lately with his phone. So he went to the Apple store in New York to get it fixed (in the hope to save his photos/data). They told him that they'll give him a discount for a new iPhone 6 (same model) for just ~$270 or there's no way to fix it.

I thought changing the charging port should be relatively easy. Now it is certain that my cousin will lose all of his photos in the old phone unless he gets it fixed at an unauthorized repair center.

8
jankotek 3 days ago 5 replies      
Top comment under article:

> This is such bs. iPhone is one if not the only smartphone the oem support for about 5 years. My son is rocking a 5s currently with the latest os update. About a year ago, I swapped out the battery myself.

9
zzalpha 3 days ago 1 reply      
That's a long article to point out the obvious: if you can't fix it, you have to buy a new one.

I would've changed the "Why" in the title to "How", since that's where the article really illuminates some industry dynamics I wasn't aware of. Of course, if LIBOR taught us anything, it's that industry shouldn't be left to regulate itself...

10
acd 3 days ago 1 reply      
There is only one planet earth. Either we decide to take care of the planet together or we do not care.

PC computers can be repaired easily and use standardized parts that are user replaceable. Why not make phones the same with standard hardware and open boot loaders?

11
pointytrees 3 days ago 0 replies      
I think the consumer frustration stems from the desire to buy once, then use it for 10+ years. I'm driving a 17yr old vehicle with 350k+ miles, and just keep taking it in for quarterly tune ups and it runs great. Sure I would love an auto-pilot tesla, but I'm more than happy to save loads of money by maintaining my existing vehicle.
12
alkonaut 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have only had good experiences repairing iPhones. Most everything can be fixed within an hour and at a reasonable cost.

A key factor is the large user base (many million) for each model of the iPhone, so 3rd party parts are usually cheap and diagnostics for almost any problem is easy to google.

Compared to e.g washing machines it's a pleasure to have a broken smartphone.

13
limeblack 3 days ago 0 replies      
On top of this Apple is forcing Recyclers to shred Phones and Laptops https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/yp73jw/apple-recy...

Not exactly a green thing to do in my opinion.

14
scottlegrand2 3 days ago 1 reply      
As long as we have Shenzhen, no tool/screw will remain proprietary for long...
15
SamReidHughes 3 days ago 2 replies      
If consumers wanted an easy to repair product, they would have bought them. What they really want is thin, lightweight phones that are new enough not to be slow.
16
matt_s 3 days ago 0 replies      
I understand the sustainability concerns but what is the answer? More regulation from the government that would impact their designs? That doesn't sound right, I don't think there are smart phone designers working for the government.

I have replaced screens and batteries on iPhones, it isn't wizardry but does require technical acumen and some special screw-driver/pry tools that won't break things.

It isn't an open standard like PC parts but there are lots of other industries that are mostly closed and engineer their products to only last a certain usage threshold. Engineering them to last longer costs way too much.

17
Lagged2Death 3 days ago 0 replies      
...at a certain point, the tech industrys chemical suppliers were enlisting family members to pay for IEEE memberships to help vote down new environmental measures.

Nothing to see here, just the free market regulating itself. Good job!

18
csours 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've spent some time thinking about this from an automotive manufacturing perspective (I work for an automotive manufacturer, previously on the shop floor).

Engineering is all about trade-offs - both physically/materially/technically, and in time and money.

As an engineer/designer you have a set of requirements to meet: Product Safety, Customer Needs, Marketing Needs, and Technical Requirements.

Then you can spend some time on Serviceability - but any time and money you spend on Serviceability is time you are not spending on improving the product and hopefully reducing the need to repair and replace parts in the first place.

Then you start manufacturing the thing, and problems come out of the woodwork. If you put a thousand parts together that's at least two thousand things to go wrong (and often many more). So you spend time designing for manufacturability/assembly - add an alignment slot to this connector, color coordinate these parts so it's obvious what goes together, make this bolt/fastener easier to insert. This is called Poke-Yoke, or idiot proofing. You spend a lot of time on this because there are a lot of idiots.

If you are good at manufacturing you learn how to make the thing quickly, with high quality, and with a small number of workers. This is called Lean Manufacturing.

The upshot of all of this, is that the connectors, parts, assemblies, fasteners, adhesives and all of that are designed so that the widget goes together right the first time, in such a way that an idiot can put it together, and it should work for a long time.

19
indigo0086 3 days ago 0 replies      
I only see this as a good thing. Breeds competition as consumer trust and loyalty degrades. Rather than allow a company to continue doing this and have us still fund their companies, anyone should come forward and provide better products and they'll get the message.
20
franciscop 3 days ago 0 replies      
On the other hand you can make a full iPhone by buying each of the components if you know where to find them (disclaimer: I've met Scott before):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leFuF-zoVzA

21
Zenst 3 days ago 0 replies      
In many aspects in ever decreasing size tech the balance between repairable and size come into play.

One way to see this aspect would be a PC compared to a laptopOne is larger but you can replace many components with ease to a laptop that has a more limited and indeed costly replacement/repair factor and even then you are constraints limited compared to a PC. But it does get better, I can't but help feel that the lack of standards limit the drive to swap in and out parts. More so when those standards are driven by SOC manufacturers more than most and help to lock in phone manufacturers into certain brands of SOC.

22
yodon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I fail to see the validity of all the conspiracy theory evil claimed around modern manufacturing techniques. The overwhelming majority of consumers have spoken, and what they have said is they will pay more for smaller lighter devices and will not pay more for consumer repairable devices.

Manufacturers have responded in exactly the way the majority of consumers asked them to, by making smaller lighter devices rather than repairable ones. Connectors add space and weight, making devices bigger and heavier and less desirable to the vast majority of consumers.

23
paulmd 3 days ago 0 replies      
Smartphones are highly "engineered" products (in the sense that they are more than a simple combination of off-the-shelf parts). And typically the more "engineered" a product is, the more difficult it is for an end-user to service. That goes double if it's extremely space-constrained, as engineers are forced to get "creative" to fit their constraints.

As a relatable example, consider PC building. In a standard PC case, you can pretty much throw together any selection of (compatible) parts and expect them to work. In contrast very compact mini-ITX builds can be very challenging, not all combinations of parts will fit in a given case, heat becomes challenging to dissipate without excessive noise, and assembly can be very fiddly, with exactly one right order to put all the parts together. And even if you are doing the smallest fiddliest case you can buy, you still will not actually approach the sizes that are possible with an engineered product like the MSI Trident 3/Corsair One/Zotac Magnus let alone the noise profiles.

That said, Apple definitely crosses the line from "compact product that is necessarily difficult to service" into actively obstructing service efforts, which is a problem. For example I accept that soldering parts down is thinner than socketing them, but it's an asshole move to glue components into place.

Apple is certainly not alone here, however. It's virtually impossible to find a phone without an integral (non-replaceable) battery nowadays, and MicroSD slots are rather uncommon as well (yes Google, I know there's a lot of bad flash out there, that's why I source nice stuff from camera stores).

I don't have any good suggestions to fix this, there's no "but wait there's a better way" at the end of this post. There was a prototype phone a while back that was built from pluggable "modules" but obviously it hasn't taken off. The closest thing is probably a dedicated hacker/tinkerer phone like the Neo900 but you will definitely have to live with it being 3-4x as thick as an iPhone. The iPhone is making enough compromises in terms of functionality (eg battery life, external antenna connector, etc) that there might be a niche for a more full-featured device but it's clearly not what the mass market wants.

24
justforFranz 3 days ago 0 replies      
Doesn't Apple already have more money than god?
25
ChuckMcM 3 days ago 0 replies      
When an article is filled with "Advocacy groups say .." and "report by the <we dislike this state of affairs> organization" you can expect it to be filled with poorly sourced 'facts' and weakly reasoned 'conclusions.' And this article does not disappoint in that regard.

The industry got hooked on 'upgrade every year or so' it did wonders for the bottom line because you could sell the same high margin product to the consumer again and again. It isn't surprising when you consider the people who designed and built your product are sitting there at the company still, and now what do they do? You can't really just lay them off (not and expect to catch the next wave of what ever) so you start them off designing and building the next version, which, as a requirement is "make it so that someone who owns the old one will want to buy the new one."

Great but that is then conflated with the challenge of disposing of the previous one which, for all intents and purposes, can't really be 'recycled' so much as separated into recoverable metal [1][2] and then either burying the rest or incinerating it.

And that gets conflated with the 'If you would just support it I could keep it' story line, where new features can't run on the old device (I've got an older iPad for example stuck on IOS 6 for that reason but its a great media player) and of course the FOSS community saying that if you document the device they would build alternative software packages for it.

And that gets conflated with 'if I could get it fixed I would' which would support repair shops (which seem to flourish in places like China but less commonly in the US) where problems are diagnosed down to the chip level and fixed on the spot. But that interferes with warranty calculations (you crack a screen and have a shop replace it, but then the mainboard develops an intermittent, was that a manufacturing problem or a repair shop problem? can be impossible to know.)

And all of that burys the state of the art which is that most of the toxic stuff has been taken out of electronics, and caveat people who violate the laws, or places which care to little to enforce the laws, the stuff is reasonably disposed and what can be recovered is.

What is missing is any sort of vision by either one of the agencies or organizations they talk with about what a better system would look like from an implementation level (we know about lax enforcement of the current stuff).

[1] https://www.oecd.org/env/waste/Case%20Study%20on%20Critical%...

[2] http://services.ul.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/05/UL...

26
abalone 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is a super disingenuous article from the Verge. It's based on a highly biased "report" by the Repair Association trade group led by iFixit, whose business is impacted by this approach. They are now attempting to make an environmental argument. Pay close attention and you'll note that their premise, that user-repairable devices are better for the environment, is entirely unsupported.

Where do you think most user-removed parts end up? In landfill. Whereas devices traded in to Apple can be recycled properly. Apple even has a custom-designed robot to disassemble iPhones to achieve maximum recyclability.[1]

They also offer zero support for the claim that Apple's approach shortens the lifetime of devices. Apple offers a battery replacement program![2] You can extend your iPhone's life! And they recycle the old battery properly. iFixit just doesn't like that they can't sell you the kits to do it yourself.

Apple's obvious motive, which this sensational article fails to dispute, is to make their devices smaller, watertight, and generally better. That is why they pack and glue the interiors with custom parts and seals.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYshVbcEmUc

[2] https://support.apple.com/iphone/repair/battery-power

       cached 8 August 2017 04:11:02 GMT